Young pups and old dogs

October 22nd, 2014 by Ken

The young pups were in charge, but it was the old dogs which showed up.

That about sums up last night’s meeting of the “Better Thurston” committee, which wants to establish a new county charter.

Most of those involved in leadership of the group weren’t in office or in leadership positions when the last county charter effort fell by the wayside in 1990, capping a 30 year effort to bring a new form of county government to the people of Thurston County.  But the room was filled with those who have tried since 1979 to revamp county government – - and failed.

Perhaps such a movement needs the energy and youth of the young pups.  But, if last night’s meeting was an indication, it was the old dogs which still had the interest.

However, the recent flap over the failures of the county commissioners – - in the Maytown lawsuit – - the denial of a hearing for asphalt recycling – - and the conflict between the county sheriff and the commissioners over the opening of the new jail – - may be enough to garner support for a new county charter try.

So, while the young pups are in charge this time – - they need to listen to the old dogs.

Any effort to get a new form of county government, must benefit the people and not lead to an increase in government control.

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Partisanship envelops Lacey Council

October 17th, 2014 by Ken

Thursday evening, the Lacey City Council held a work session with the elected representatives of the 22nd District – - which encompasses the entire city.

At that meeting were Chris Reykdal and Sam Hunt representing the district in the state house of representatives and Karen Fraser, representing the district in the state senate.

The Lacey council wanted to talk with their legislators about several issues impacting the city and hear from their elected representatives about how to address those issues.   Among the issues they wanted to discuss was transportation funding,  increased revenue options and marijuana status.

After making opening statements about recognizing the needs of local government, Fraser told the group that nothing was going to be done in relationship to those issues, as long as the Republicans held the Senate.    More than once Fraser responded about the need of the Democrats to take back the Senate and pointed specifically at the 28th and 35th Legislative Districts.

Bear in mind, that the Lacey Council is non-partisan.   To bring partisan politics into the discussion caused some members of the council to consider walking out.

Reykdal, recognizing the problem, made several comments about needing to work together with the other party and pointed out that the Lacey council should also speak with legislators from other districts which have  parts of Thurston County in their district.

But, the damage had been done.

A non-partisan group of elected officials had been blind-sided by a partisan official’s comments.

Fraser is a former mayor of Lacey.   She should have known better than to make her remarks at a public meeting of the  non-partisan council.

If she felt as strongly as she did, her remarks were better made in private conversations instead of enveloping the Lacey Council into the partisanship of the state legislature.

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Another county charter effort is suspicious

October 16th, 2014 by Ken

A group of county residents, thinking that county government needs to be over-hauled, are looking at taking another county charter run.

Through that effort, they hope to create a new county government, with new offices and new responsibilities.

They’re hoping that the fourth time is a charm.

Three times in the past, a group of residents have taken it upon themselves to draft a new county charter and put it before the voters.   Three time the voters have turned it down.   In 1979 it failed with only a 45 percent yes vote.   In 1986 it failed with only 48 percent yes and in 1990 it failed by an even further margin of only 39 percent yes.

So, why do they think they can succeed this time?

They hope they’ve learned from their past failures.  They want to make it simpler and they want to do a better job of education.

In all cases, those new county charters expanded government control, giving county government additional powers and taking away a number of elected officials – making them appointed positions.

In all three cases, the county charter was drafted by Democrats and the liberal base which controls elections and politics in Thurston County.    Thank goodness they have to put the charter up to a vote of the people – who seem to have the only common sense around here.

Now – -that all said.   I believe we need to take a long hard look at our regional government system and bring those regional bodies – - such as LOTT , Intercity Transit – - Medic One – - Animal Control – - Regional Planning – - and a dozen other regional boards and commissions, under the control of an elected body.

I’m willing to look at any charter effort that does that.    I also think it’s time to increase the number of county commissioners – - making certain that the districts run from East to West.

I might be persuaded to look at the elimination of several county jobs as elective positions – - including perhaps clerk – - assessor – - coroner as a starter.

Other than that, I’m suspicious when this charter group is composed of most of the Democratic liberal leaders in our county who believe that more government is better.

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I think I just saw a pig fly

October 14th, 2014 by Ken

I saw something today I never thought I’d see.

I saw an editorial in “The Olympian” that asked us to vote against a school measure.

That’s right – “The Olympian ” urged voters to Vote NO on Initiative 1351 – the measure which would mandate smaller class sizes in our state school system.

You had to look closely to find the editorial.   Unlike the editorials for more gun control, “The Olympian’s” editorial took up just a few short paragraphs.   But one thing was clear from the editorial.

Even “The Olympian” the most liberal paper in the state, has become tired of the Washington Education Association’s continual cry for more money and more control over our local schools.

Initiative 1351 was bought and paid for by teacher unions which pumped millions of dollars for paying signature gatherers and on television commercials.

Our local newspaper apparently felt comfortable in coming out against the initiative because a few prominent Democrats already have.   But the mood is clear.

The Washington Education Association and its lackeys in the legislature have just about reached the end of taxpayer’s patience.

Even “The Olympian” has come out against them.

I think I just saw a pig fly.

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Don’t believe the Voter’s Guide

October 13th, 2014 by Ken

This week, the Thurston County Auditor will be putting your General Election ballot in the mail.  Also arriving long with your ballot will be your Official Election Pamphlet.

Just remember that nothing you read in your voter’s pamphlet is true.   Just because it comes from a government agency, doesn’t make it truthful.   Supporters and opponents of ballot measures will tell you anything and quote any statistic, even if they make them up themselves.

It’s all a lie – - and allowed by law.

Candidates write their own statements and can say anything they wish – - about themselves or their opponents.

Courts, all the way up to the United States Supreme Court have ruled that candidates can lie in official publications and can’t be edited by the government.   It’s part of the First Amendment and free speech.

Also arriving along with your ballot will be tons and tons of campaign material put out by supporters and opponents of the ballot measures, along with brochures bought and paid for by the candidates or their supporters.  Don’t believe them either.

If you can’t believe the official voters guide or the campaign materials, or any of the ads you see on your television, how do you know who to vote for?

Believe yourself.  Do your own research.  Talk to the candidates and supporters in person.  Get their measurement. Go to the various forums.   Listen to people who you know and trusts.

If you can’t do that – - then Don’t Vote.

You shouldn’t cast a vote out of ignorance.

Just because you receive your ballot in the mail this week doesn’t mean you have to mail it right back.  You still have time to do your own research.   Start now and learn more about the candidates and by election day on November 4, you’ll be an educated voter.

And, that’s the best kind of voter.

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Plastic bag survey on the way

October 1st, 2014 by Ken

Have you adapted yet?   Have you finally gotten into the habit of bringing your own bags into the grocery store when you shop?

The Thurston County Solid Waste department wants to know and is taking a survey to determine how well the plastic bag ban is working.   Included in that survey are questions asking customers how their shopping habits have changed.

The survey also asks supermarkets how much money they’ve taken in from the sale of paper bags and what they’ve done with the money.

The survey is necessary to meet the requirements of the grant which funded the plastic bag ban in the first place.

What isn’t being asked is how the customer feels about the ban.   Do they really like not having the plastic bag?  Do they really like having to clean their own bags when they get home, after the milk has spilled in the bottom and the hamburger has leaked into the fabric?

How often do they wash the bag?  Can they even wash the  bag?  Where do they keep the bags to remember to bring them to the store when they get to the parking lot?

As the main shopper in my family – I’ve adapted.   I bring my own bags almost every time I go to the store – - which is fairly often.   I keep them in the back seat and usually remember to take them into the store when I go in.  Occasionally I have to go back and get them out of the backseat.

When I get home and empty out the bags, I immediately take them back out to the car.

I’ve found that having several bags is necessary and the best way to assure that you have a bag when you need it.  If you drive more than one car, you need bags for both cars.

I’ve also found that smaller bags are better.   The clerks often fill large bags so full that they are fairly heavy.

So, while the survey will ask a number of questions it won’t ask the big ones – -   what do I line my garbage can with and what do I use to pick up my dogs waste.

Even if California has just banned all plastic bags, I still think the ban is silly.

But everyone can adapt to silly – - even me.

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Olympia’s Dust Jacket

September 30th, 2014 by Ken

Olympia has a good dust jacket.

That’s the word I received recently from a young man and his wife who moved here from The Netherlands, by way of Austin, New York City and Portland.

They were look for a place like the country they had left and as they drove through Olympia they liked its look.

It had a good dust jacket, they said.

The couple are now Olympia residents and have just had a baby.   They are nesting and settling in.

But, a recent series of articles in “The Olympian” show that the contents of the book don’t necessarily reflect the city’s book jacket.

Olympia is well situated in a magnificent section of Puget Sound.  Driving along I-5 you can’t help but be impressed by the state capitol building and the view over Capitol Lake.

Get off the freeway and drive through town and the city becomes even more attractive.  Bike lanes, green belts, beautiful homes in beautiful neighborhoods, a new city hall and an attractive and busy waterfront give the impression this is a great place to live and raise a family.

At least my friends from The Netherlands thought so.

But, like many cities in the country, Olympia’s book has a dark place; an area where visitors might not want to venture after dark.

Unfortunately, for Olympia, that dark underside of the city is its downtown core – - the 60 acres that run from Sylvester Park to the transit center and the blocks that surround city hall.

Although passable during the day, at night it becomes something else.   It’s not frightening, it’s not even very dangerous, it’s just – - uncomfortable.  It’s a place you just stay away from.

So, while Olympia may have a “Good Dust Jacket”, the contents of the book may be a disappointment.

Maybe one of these times, the librarians who run the city will find a way to re-print the book.

Keep the “Good Dust Jacket” though.

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Business law

September 26th, 2014 by Ken

Eddie’s first law of business.   Never make any appointment before 10 or after 3.   Before 10 they think you’re anxious.  After 3 they think you’re desperate.  (Eddie Alexander was the owner and editor of “The Olympia News.”

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Justice delayed is justice denied

September 22nd, 2014 by Ken

Justice delayed is justice denied.

That old adage from the legal community applies today in Thurston County and the Thurston County Commissioner’s efforts to stop a local business from expanding.

The maxim says that failure to proceed in a timely fashion is tantamount to providing no justice at all.

I quote that legal refrain in relationship to the efforts of Lakeside Industries to add recycling of asphalt to their asphalt plant in the Nisqually Valley.  In order to do so, they need to get a change in their operating permit.

The County Commissioners have failed to act on the request citing lack of staff and other priorities for the time of the county planning commission.

The request for a hearing has languished for more than a year while the county finds reasons not to even schedule a public hearing on the matter.

Lakeside has even offered to pay the county for additional staffing so they can have a hearing on the request, but the county refuses to move.

This is a similar situation to the recent court action when the Port of Tacoma sued the county for requiring unnecessary environmental studies for gravel mining in Maytown – - even though mining permits had already been issued.

The county lost in court and Thurston County taxpayers are on the dime for a multi-million dollar judgement against the county commissioners.

Mining and asphalt production may not be the types of businesses the county commissioners want for Thurston County – - but the businesses are legal and have the right to be heard.

Lakeside wants to expand its operation and wants a hearing, but the commissioners have delayed and delayed and delayed the request hoping that Lakeside will give up.  That’s similar to what they did in Maytown and it cost taxpayers $12 million dollars.

I don’t know if recycling asphalt is something I would want in Nisqually Valley and along the Nisqually River – - but, until we have a public hearing and all the facts are presented – - I don’t know for sure.

Our county commissioners seem determined to keep certain businesses out of the county, but using illegal methods is not the way this body should act.

We should really expect our commissioners to follow the law – - or vote them out.

We shouldn’t have to pay more legal judgements.


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First law of politics

September 22nd, 2014 by Ken

Balsley’s First Law of Politics – - Things will never be like they were.

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I was almost a criminal

September 17th, 2014 by Ken

About two years ago, I decided I wanted to buy a gun.   I’ve been getting older and feeling more vulnerable.

A friend of mine had a pistol that he no longer wanted and offered to sell it to me.  We met.   I paid him for the gun and he took the money.

About two weeks later I went to the Lacey Police Department and applied for a concealed weapons permit.  When asked where I got my gun, I said “from a friend.”   I filled out the paperwork and received my permit.

If I had done the same thing next year, I would have been a felon.   I-594, makes it illegal to sell a gun to anyone without first doing a background check.   Since most people don’t have access to the needed lists, they would have to take the firearm to a registered gun dealer.   He would do the background check and then transfer the gun ownership.   It would take about two weeks and cost around $100 for the effort.

Under I-594 you can’t even transfer a gun within your own family, unless it has been designated a “historical firearm.”

Initiative 594 is a feel good measure, that punishes citizens and does nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Instead, it makes criminals out of all of us who purchase a gun.


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Supreme Court is biased

September 16th, 2014 by Ken

Three years ago the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the Washington State Legislature was not fully funding education as required by the state constitution and ordered the legislature to come up with more money.

Last week the court held the legislature in contempt.

While this appears to be a ruling on education funding, it is really a conflict between the legislative and judicial branches of government.   The conflict is playing out all over the country, as state court after state court has ruled that its legislature is not fully funding education.

This is a battle brought about by the various state teacher’s unions who have been stymied by state legislatures and have taken their fight to the state courts.

Here, in our state, the Washington Education Association (WEA) is actively involved in court actions.   While the lawsuits themselves have been brought by parents, they were instigated by the WEA.

What makes our case interesting is the fact that two-thirds of the Washington State Supreme Court owe their election to the WEA.

Several of the judges have taken money from the WEA and have received the endorsement and support of its members.

I don’t want to think that our judges can be bought by the teacher’s union, but it gives one to pause when they continue to fight the legislature on behalf of the union agenda.

It’s apparent that the WEA finds it easier and cheaper to buy a few supreme court justices than it is to buy a complete legislature.

As long as our state supreme court appears to owe its allegiance to the WEA the more it appears that the court is not fair or unbiased.



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Star Spangled Banner – from the beginning

September 11th, 2014 by Ken

200 years ago our country was at war, and we had been for nearly two years.  During that time we had suffered defeat after defeat as we waged our second war for independence.

The British, who regarded Americans as a runaway school boy, was treating us as such.

In their fight against Napoleon they hadn’t forgotten that the French helped us in our first war of independence.

In order to punish – Americans – the British had whipped up indian uprisings while arming the tribes, in an effort to keep the former colonists from settling in the Mississippi valley.   In order to keep their navy stocked they stopped and kidnapped more than 5000 American sailors to serve in their fleet.

It was these acts and others that caused America to declare war on England in 1812.   We didn’t realize how ill-equipped we were to wage war against the greatest military power in the world.

We were treated as a backwater belligerent  by England, but once they defeated Napoleon they turned their full attention  to America.

Up and down the Atlantic seaboard the British Naval and armed forces launched raids against American cities.   Just two weeks prior they had burned Washington DC.

Now the British Navy and armed forces were anchored off the shores of Baltimore ready to attack and burn another American city.

Stopping them was Ft. McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore harbor.  In order to get to Baltimore the fleet had to destroy the fort.

After a day and night of constant bombardment the British realized they couldn’t proceed any further and withdrew.

Watching the bombardment from one of the British ships was an American -  Francis Scott Key.    In the morning light he watched to see if the fort had fallen.

Flying from the ramparts of the fort flew a large American flag with 15 stars and 13 stripes.

The Americans had held the fort and stopped the British.

Key was moved  to write a poem – set it to music – and titled it  “In Defense  of Ft. McHenry.   It was an immediate success.

In it he used the term – - Star Spangled Banner – - for the first time, a term we still use today.   In 1931 his song ‘ The Star Spangled Banner – became this country’s national anthem.

And it all happened 200 years ago on September 12.

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I Wish I Were Ignorant

September 9th, 2014 by Ken

Thirteen years ago this week, America changed.

What had once been a country concerned with freedom and individual rights had now become a militarized country – - where freedom of speech and action has taken second place to restrictions and repression.

We see it in our everyday lives.   Our police are more militarized,  gates and barbed wire surround our government facilities and ID tags hand from the necks of just about every government worker.

Traveling is the best example.   We wait, patiently in long security lines – - to remove our shoes, get rid of our liquids and take our lap tops out of their carrying cases.

If you have foreign friends it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to enter this country.   And going to Canada today takes the same amount of scrutiny it once did to get into China.

9-11 changed American society.   We can debate whether or not these changes were needed; we can debate how deep these changes run; but we can’t debate that they have changed us profoundly as a country.

If the purpose of the 9-11 hijackers was to bring fear to American shores then they have accomplished their purposes – - at least as far as the government is concerned.

We’ve been at war for 13 years attacking and degrading the ability of foreign terrorists to attack the — homeland.

We’ve accomplished that goal for the most part, but the danger still exists that someone, somewhere will be able to achieve another 9-11 style attack, this time with gas or a nuclear component.

With school starting last week it dawned on me that children entering high school this year have absolutely no concept of what this country was like before 9-11.

To them, the added security, the gates , the barbed wire, the police with Uzis and tanks, is just a normal part of life.  They know no difference.

I’m happy for them. In their ignorance they can accept what this country has become.

For the rest of us – - those who have been around prior to 9-11, we mourn for what we have lost.

We mourn our lack of freedom, our lack of respect for our government, we mourn for our lack of innocence.

We mourn for the use of the word – - homeland.   Somehow that smacks of Nazi Germany – in my mind.

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Capitol Lake decision has been made

September 4th, 2014 by Ken

As summer winds down and fewer and fewer people congregate around the shores of Capitol Lake, it looks like a decision has been made regarding the lake.

Competing views of the lake’s future include removing the dam and letting the DesChutes River flow into Budd Inlet.   Another view is keeping the dam in place and dredging the lake to remove accumulated mud.   All of the various alternatives are confined to those two options.

Complicating matters of course is the fact that the state, the city, the county and the port all have a say in what will happen to the lake.  They however can’t agree on a strategy and consequently no decision seems to have been made.

That however is not the case.   A decision has been made.

By doing nothing, the decision has been made to let the current situation continue.   It’s a form of decision making often used by government agencies.  Doing nothing, upsets no one and is perfectly acceptable – - as long as public meetings on the issue continue.

Of course, the entire process of filling up the lake will take time — and during that time Capitol Lake will become a cesspool of rotting vegetation and stinking puddles of mud.

But, at this point in time, it appears that any decision they make will be the wrong decision, so the best they can do is wait and talk, wait and talk and eventually mother nature will make the decision for them.

That’s the way you make a decision in government.

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Race and racism

September 3rd, 2014 by Ken

I’ve been thinking about race and racism for some time now.   A couple of recent events has gotten me thinking about it even more.

I recently returned from the East Coast where I experienced racism and the feeling of being a minority.

While visiting Baltimore, my wife and I got lost and ended up in a poor, black neighborhood where we were the only white people around.   It was an uneasy feeling and we got out as soon as we could.

But it got me thinking about race and how we consciously or unconsciously view people through the prism of race.

To experience the poverty of a big city where I was in the minority – - even for a short period of time was an experience I can’t forget.

The other reasons for my thoughts on race and racism has to do with our president.

While I didn’t vote or him, I was proud of our country when they elected him the first black president.   However, I wasn’t so proud when they also re-elected him.

While I think he is a poor leader I’m also convinced that some of the current dislike for the president has to do with the color of his skin and not the content of his politics.

Barrack Obama lacks the leadership skills necessary to lead.  He often confuses rhetoric for action.  While he can be friendly and charming, and there’s no doubt he’s intelligent, he just hasn’t shown leadership on many major issues.

That’s why I can’t support this president.    I hope its not because of the color of his skin.

I would never consider myself a racist but my recent experience in Baltimore has me second-guessing myself.  I hope that doesn’t affect my ability to distinguish between competence and color.

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How local police became military units

August 21st, 2014 by Ken

For some time now I’ve become concerned about the militarization of our police forces.   The recent activities in Ferguson, MO are just the most recent example.

How did a police force, built and designed to protect the public, become an organization of military-trained members equipped with assault weapons and the latest in military hardware?

We can start in the 1990′s and the war on drugs.   Local police forces often found themselves out-gunned by drug running gangs, not only along our borders but in our inner cities.   The federal government began providing local police with military style weapons.

In 1997, two bank robbers in North Hollywood, CA out gunned local police as they shot and seriously wounded 11 police officers and seven civilians.

These events brought forth the idea that police departments around the country needed to be better armed and better trained to respond to such situations.   It also brought about the creation of Special Weapons Assault Teams – - better known as SWAT teams, for the purpose of taking on well-armed bad guys.   Federal money was available for training and equipping such teams.

Soon, every policing agency in the country had SWAT teams including here in Thurston County.   They are called out every time there’s a report of a gun, when a police officer is threatened, or when a group of college students get carried away with a night on the town.

This was the beginning of the militarization of our local police departments.

Then came 9-11 and the war of terror ramped up every police agency in the country.  Military equipment and vehicles were available for any law enforcement agency which wanted them.  This equipment included tanks, helicopters and armored vehicles, as well as automatic weapons and night vision equipment.

Even the uniforms that police wear echo intimidation and are indicative of a military style of thinking.

Instead of being part of a community police department, police are now members of a military -style organization in looks and bearing.

We can probably never go back to the time when our local police lived in our community, walked the streets, ate in our local restaurants and seemed to be one of us.

But, we can expect our police departments to be cognizant of the fact that they are here to protect us – - not intimidate us.

Looking and acting like a military unit is intimidating to local citizens.   I doubt the bad guys care very much.

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Downtown not conducive for new hotel

August 19th, 2014 by Ken

Developers of a hotel on Port of Olympia property last year, were concerned about the appearance of downtown Olympia and decided not to build.

That’s the opinion of George Barner, Port of Olympia Commissioner.   He made the statement on Coffee With Ken Tuesday airing on KGY Radio 95.3 FM

Barner said that hoteliers were interested in constructing a hotel on port property on State street, but backed off when they determined that downtown Olympia did not seem conducive towards possible customers.

His full interview can be heard on the KGY website.


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North Thurston schools “failing”

August 16th, 2014 by Ken

Like just about every school district in the state of Washington, Lacey schools are on the No Child Left Behind failing list.

Parents in the Lacey area will receive a letter this Friday letting them know if their individual school is on the list of failing schools, and what options they have under the federal act.    Along with the notification will come a letter from school superintendent Rahj Manhas explaining that the federal act has long ago out-lived its usefulness and that congress is looking at doing away with it.

Most states receive Title One money which is used to help low income schools.   Those which do are required to bring all of the students in those Title One schools up to 100 percent passage in math and reading.

Almost no schools can reach the 100 percent mark, and states have been asking for exemptions from the act.  States had to ask for and receive exemptions on a regular basis.   Until recently, Washington had received an exemption, along with 42 other states.

But, during the last session of the Washington State Legislature, the Washington Education Association used its muscle with the Democrats to kill a bill asking for an exemption.   The union was opposed to using student test scores for evaluation of teachers and principals, although most  states in the country has adopted that rule.   Such an adoption was necessary if the state was to get an exemption from the No Child Left Behind Act.

Now, most of the schools in Washington are failing and will be punished.

The North Thurston district received about $2.4 million in Title One money each year to help six designated schools.  These schools are designated low income from the number of free and reduced lunches served each year.

In the North Thurston district those six schools are:  Chambers Prairie, Mt. View, Meadows, Lacey, Lydia Hawk and Pleasant Glade.

Four of those schools have been designated as “failing”.  The district will let parents know on Friday which ones they are.   Parents with children in those four schools will be given an option to get additional tutoring or help in moving their child to another school.  To fund those options, the district must set aside 20 percent of its Title One money to do that.  In the Lacey district that’s about $625,000.

In addition, the district has to set aside another 10 percent of its Title One money for additional staff training.

The district could also be required to either change personnel at those failing schools or bring in an outside agency to run the schools.   The act does allow other forms of restructuring.

This upheaval isn’t just confined to Lacey schools.  Other local school districts will also be impacted.

All of this mess is because the Washington Education Association used its muscles with Democrats to kill a bill asking for exemption from the act just as 42 other states have already done so.


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You can learn a lot by traveling

August 14th, 2014 by Ken

They say you should write what you know, and I know I just spent nearly three weeks visiting some of the nation’s cities on the East Coast.

I’ve come away with several observations.   Three weeks, six hotel rooms, three air flights and five major cities are a significant challenge to keep clear in your mind.

You really should be younger to do that much traveling, but when you’re younger, you don’t have the time or the money.

The East Coast is really different from Lacey.

Ever major city has a Martin Luther King Jr. boulevard, street or road.  And, they often lead into centers of the city’s black population.

Transit systems in Washington DC, Philadelphia or Boston will get you everywhere you want to be, providing you have hours to spend getting there.  Incidentally, the transit tickets in Boston are called “Charlies”.  If you have to ask why, you won’t really understand.

August is the wrong time of the year to see the major tourists sites.  That’s when all the tourists go.   Long lines at the nation’s icons are the norm and don’t forget, school children are out on summer vacation.   Historic sites are where their parents take them.

There’s almost nothing free.   Even the major historic sites owned and operated by the federal or state government have entrance fees (except in Washington DC.)   Private sites are even more expensive.

Driving is also expensive.  It’s not that gas is more costly there – - it isn’t.  It’s just that every ten miles is a toll booth – - even on Federal Interstate highways.

The Presidential John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a disappointment.   There isn’t much there.  He only served as president for two and a half years, not enough time to build up a legacy.

Boston is a city that needs time to explore.  You can’t even begin to see the important sites in three days.

Portland, Maine is a city of 65,000 and  feels like a small town.   The Maine Coast isn’t that unique.  Visit Vancouver Island and get the same feel.   It looks just like Maine with pine trees instead of Douglas Fir.

I have no desire to go back.  I’ve learned all I want to.


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