Seahawk frenzy fleeting

January 27th, 2015 by Ken

I’m going to jump right into the hype.  This Sunday the Seattle Seahawks will play the New England Patriots in the 49th Super Bowl.

The last thing that caused this much interest and excitement around here – was – - last year when the Seahawk went to the Super Bowl and won.   Before that it would have to be the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

This community – this state – is in a state of frenzy.  Seahawk colors are everywhere and every third person is wearing a Seahawk jersey of some kind, while the 12th man banner is flying from cars, trucks, store windows and freeway overpasses.

Super Bowl Sunday is a major event, far transcending just a football game.   Americans will spend some $2 billion in food alone -  – second only to Thanksgiving.

The Super Bowl is an occasion to celebrate and to get the family together over the warm glow of the television.  (Do TV’s still glow?)

But – - what makes this Super Bowl special to us, is the fact that the Seahawks are making their second straight appearance and are returning as world champs.   That’s a powerful statement.

I’ve notice that more and more woman are attracted to football and the Seahawk fans are the perfect example.   As one young woman told me recently – - there isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t like Russell Wilson.

For one bright shinning moment this state and community are united as Seahawk fans and supporters.

It’s going to be a great game but I don’t think it will be a blowout like last year.   However, I do expect them to repeat as world champions.

If they don’t – -too bad   But if they do, the feeling of excitement will last until – - – well until the Mariners make a deep run into post season play and the World Series.

That’s the problem with sporting events.   They don’t leave a lasting impression or impact.

Seahawk fame is fleeting.

Lets enjoy it while we can.

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Fire Commissioner wanted

January 23rd, 2015 by Ken

The Lacey Fire District is looking for a new fire commissioner.

Dennis Jones, who was elected to the five-member commission in 2013,  has resigned for personal and medical reasons.   The fire district is seeking his replacement.

Board chair Judy Wilson said the fire district will accept letters of interest until February 15.  The number of applicants will determine the next move.  At the least, interviews and background checks will be done.

Interested individuals must live in the Lacey Fire District which also includes the City of Lacey.   The person selected must run for election in the fall for the remainder of the term which is four years.

More information can be obtained at the district’s website.

The Lacey Fire District encompasses 70 square miles and serves 90,000 people.  The assessed valuation of the district is $8.3 billion.   The district operates on a $17 million dollar budget with 101 employees and around 30 volunteers.

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Who does “The Olympian” serve?

January 19th, 2015 by Ken

Our local newspaper – “The Olympian” – prides itself on allowing the community access to the pages of the newspaper.

It accepts letters to the editor which reflect those with strong opinions – - often outside the mainstream of the community.

It sits two community members on it’s editorial board.  They are selected by the paper’s editors and have the same right of opinion as that of the staff members.  This is unique and unusual and “The Olympian” is to be congratulated for doing so.

Unfortunately – - those selected often represent a narrow viewpoint – - in line with the newspaper’s views.

The same holds true for the half dozen community members it selects to write a column on the editorial page on a regular basis – - called the Board of Contributors.

The six new columnists represent social service agencies, environmental groups and state government.

Here’s the make-up of this current class of contributors selected to represent the community.

There’s a representative of the League of Women Voters – -  a representative of the Indian tribes – - a representative of community colleges – - an environmental planner – - an urban planner – - and a representative of youth services.

All of these contributors are well-educated and will do well-researched opinions  (although I have to question the one that ran in the January 19 edition.)

But, they don’t represent the greater Olympia community.   Where is the tree farmer from Rochester – the small business owner in Lacey – - the conservative community activist in Tumwater?

Those “The Olympian” selects represent a narrow band of opinion not representative of the greater community.

Until the paper has “diversity of opinion”  it’s efforts to reflect the community goes for naught.

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What would Martin Luther King Jr. do?

January 13th, 2015 by Ken

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In an effort to make the day significant to everyone and not just the black citizens our our country – - some have been trying to change the tenor of the day.

They want Monday to be  – A Day of Service.  It’s not a bad concept.  Every day should be a day of service – and it makes sense to single out one day – and make it a highlght.   I guess Martin Luther King Jr. Day is as good a day as any.

But, by doing that we have a tendency to forget what the day is really about.

It’s about leadership – it’s about human rights – it’s about freedom – and it’s about peace and brotherhood.

I wonder what Dr. King would make of the recent events in our country over the issue of police brutality and the death of young black men.   Or the killing of police officers as a revenge.

Would Dr. King join in the protests?  Would he lead them?  Would he mourn for the lost police officers?

Would he call for massive demonstrations or would he call for better understanding between races?

I’m not an expert on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   I probably know a little more than most white men and probably a little less than most black Americans.

But, I think he would be appalled by the violence associated with the marches.   I suspect he would also be at the front of the line encouraging dialogue and understanding – - and begging everyone to put aside violence and talk with each other.

On Monday – on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – we can be of service to our community.  That’s a good legacy for this man of peace.

A better legacy however would be to put aside fears and anger and start talking.

I’m sure he’d appreciate that just as much.

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The emasculation of our boys

January 5th, 2015 by Ken

It isn’t until women have a boy baby that they begin to realize how much society has stacked the deck against boys – - particularly in education.

Noted feminist writer Camille Paglia, who has an 11-year old boy, recently wrote in a “The Wall Street Journal” article:  “Primary school education is a crock.   It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, particularly guys,” she wrote.

Paglia goes on to say – - “They’re making a toxic environment for boys.   Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.”

The war on boys has reached a point where it’s almost too late to turn back.   A generation of boys has already been ruined.

I’ve quoted statistics time and time again.   Nearly 90 percent of all school children with designated ADHD are boys.  Boys get worse grades in school than do girls.  And women now make up more than 65 percent of all college students, even higher in some professions such as medicine and law.

Yet gender politics would have you believe that girls and women get the short end of the stick.

Women support groups and the designation as a “minority class” continues to place boys at a disadvantage in this new modern feminist society.

Writer Paglia says that denying the role of nature is dangerous to the women’s movement.

Men and particularly women, need to be honest about the role biology plays in life, she said.

Our educational system is designed by women for women.   It’s run by women and most of its employees are women.

Female values such as sitting quietly, studying, working together as teams, following the rules and obeying the teacher are all female traits.   (My views, not hers.)

Boys are not prone to sit still.  They’re full of energy and need to run and move.  Boys don’t want to work cooperatively.  They’re competitive.  They want to show off – - particularly around girls – - and want to beat the other boys.

Boys always question authority figures.   It’s the way they determine just what they can do and what they can get away with.

The educational deck is stacked against boys from the very beginning.

Our society has emasculated its boys

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Downtown courthouse bad idea

December 31st, 2014 by Ken

The suggestion that the Thurston County Courthouse be moved into downtown Olympia is a bad idea.   No – - it’s more than that.  It’s an idea that shouldn’t even generate one more conversation on the matter.

The Thurston County courthouse was moved to its present location because it was a chance to build a new facility from scratch, using the newest energy-saving elements.  It also presented visitors with parking,  something they never had at the old site on Capitol Way.

The courthouse on the hill, overlooking the city, was embraced by almost everyone.

Now, with the increase in population and the demands made on county government, the buildings have become over-crowded and parking is at a premium.    Having the jail on the site also creates traffic.   Once the jail population is moved to the Accountability and Restitution Center (the new jail), room will be opened up for expansion of courts and other offices.   More parking will also be freed up.

I can see why the City of Olympia  wants the courthouse downtown.   it has already identified the location – - on State street.

It’s another way Olympia can use government and government money to help create an image of a thriving and prosperous downtown, just as it did with its city hall.

That’s what Tacoma did to renovate its downtown.   Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars went to build the Washington State Museum, renovate Union Station and build the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington – - to say nothing of the hundreds of millions of dollars the state spent to build I-705 into the downtown area.  Still, private business is having a difficult time surviving in downtown Tacoma.

Thurston County Commissioners have let maintenance at the courthouse slide as a means to help balance the budget.

The courthouse is situated perfectly.   Once the old jail is closed, enhancements and renovations can be made to  make the Thurston County Courthouse meet the needs of the public.

It will be a lot less expensive than building a new facility in downtown, on a piece of property already rejected by a hotel company because “it didn’t like the looks of downtown.”


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A new use for cameras

December 24th, 2014 by Ken

While some people have proposed that we place body cameras on police to mark their every move – - I have a new suggestion for body cameras.

Lets put them on our local elected legislators.

That way, every meeting they attend, every conversation they engage in and every meal they have with lobbyists can be monitored.

By doing that, we can rest assured that our legislators are operating in our own best interests and not that of some special interest group.

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Spooners still on park list

December 23rd, 2014 by Ken

Spooners berry farm on the Yelm highway is still on the list of possible park sites for the City of Olympia.

That’s the opinion of Olympia Councilmember Steve Langer who is also the chair of the city’s land use committee.

Langer made those comments during his appearance on Coffee With Ken, Tuesday on KGY Radio.   He said the property was perfect for a park site.   It was large and cleared and would be a good location for new soccer fields.

Even though he has received comments to the contrary, he still thinks the Spooner farm site is a good location for a new city park.

“And, the property owner wants to sell,” he said.

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The last trail gap bridged

December 13th, 2014 by Ken

The last gap in the Chehalis Western Trail has finally been bridged.   After 13 years and $8.4 million dollars, the Chehalis Western Trail runs unimpeded from the Tenino Yelm Trail to Woodward Bay.

Saturday, the final bridge was dedicated to the cheers of a hundred bike riders and a score of elected officials.

The bridge over Pacific Avenue has been in the construction stage for nearly a year.   This concrete bridge not only completes the trail but marks the dividing line between the cities of Lacey and Olympia.

In 2007 the trail bridge was completed over Interstate Five.  A few years later the trail bridge was completed over Martin Way.   This weekend the trail bridge over Pacific Avenue was dedicated completing the 22 mile bike path.

Drawing attention along with  the bridge dedication was the first bicycle roundabout in the state  – - and maybe in the country.  Constructed in May of this year, the roundabout connects the North South  Chehalis Western Trail with the East West  Woodland Trail.

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Equality in the eating place

December 9th, 2014 by Ken

The fascination that some people have with legislators and lobbyists meeting over a meal seems just silly to me.

First of all;  any lobbyist whose vote can be bought for the price of a meal – - even an expensive one – - won’t be around long.   He’ll soon sell out for a greater amount of money – - and then sell out his soul.

Even expensive golfing trips – - or meetings in some exotic location – - paid for by lobbyists – - seem fine to me, providing they’re reported.

What seems at steak (stake) here isn’t lobbyists meals or lobbyist meetings – - but is really a question of equality in the eating place.

It’s simple jealousy on the part of the Democrats.

Most of the liberal Democrats on the hill are in the pockets of non-profit organizations like environmental groups which often don’t have money for expensive outings.

On the other hand, the conservative Republicans are often in the pockets of business groups which seem to have far more money than those who support Democrats.

Therefore – - Republicans legislators are being winded and dined in the best restaurants in the state and get to take expensive golf outings at tony private golf clubs.

Democrats end up eating at some local restaurant before taking a tour of some natural area and a round of golf at a public course.

Democrats are jealous.   They want equality in the eating place.

And that’s what all this fuss is about.


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Don’t blame the Republicans

December 2nd, 2014 by Ken

It wasn’t too long ago that State Senator Karen Fraser told members of the Lacey City Council – - that if they wanted help from the state legislature this coming session – - then Democrats had to control the State Senate.

It looks like local city governments can forget about getting more money from state taxpayers since Republicans took outright control of the state senate – - making Fraser’s comments seem prophetic- – or did it.

Perhaps there’s a different reason local government isn’t getting any money.

The biggest stumbling block for more aid to local government is the vast, over-whelming demand for more money from the Washington Education Association (WEA).

Billions and billions of state money is what the teacher’s union wants and that trumps all other expenditures including local government support.

The Washington Education has bought the state legislature, the state supreme court and the governor’s mansion by its support of Democrats and liberal-leaning members of the state supreme court, several of whom took campaign money from the WEA.

And, to keep up the pressure, the bully boys of the WEA recently bought and paid for  Initiative 1351 which will cost taxpayers at least two billion dollars more.

It isn’t Republican control of the Washington State Senate which is keeping money away from local government.

It’s the blind obedience of the state legislature, the state supreme court and the governor’s mansion to the dictates of the Washington Education Association.

Don’t blame the Republicans.

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Monetary stats

December 2nd, 2014 by Ken

Some 40 percent of all purchases made in the United States are still done with cash.  Credit cards make up 25 percent of all purchases and debit cards comprise 17 percent.  Checks and other types of monetary transfer make up the remaining 18 percent.

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We’ve had a great ride

November 21st, 2014 by Ken

I’ve got a birthday this weekend.  It’s not one of those Oh Oh birthdays but it is significant.

If you really want to know, lets just say that I’m not a Baby Boomer.

But it has caused me to think about my life and just how lucky I am to have been born when I was – - and lived through the times that I have.

I was born in the time of radio.   I listened to many of the early radio show.  Not the adult shows, but the kid shows like B Bar B Riders, Sergeant Preston and  Straight Arrow.

I remember when I saw my first television set.   We couldn’t afford one, but a neighbor on the block had one and we flocked to that house, to watch the flickering images of the Test Pattern and later wrestling matches and even Howdy Doody.   All the lights in the house had to be off so we could see the image on the screen.

My family and I came across the country before the freeway system.   What a journey.   We had to stop often to fill up the car with gas and water.  We stopped at many of the wayside places to see the giant snake, the Indian tepee or the largest frying pan in the world.

I also got a chance to ride on the train while it still hauled passengers instead of freight.   The white linen tablecloths in the dinning car, the black waiters, even the finger bowls, were all new to me.

But, I also had the opportunity to experience all of the new inventions which made our life easier – - the microwave oven, push button telephones and steel-belted radial tires.

It was the Baby Boomers who opened up society for everyone – - the free speech movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement – - all of them making this a better country in which to live.

The digital revolution hasn’t passed me by completely.  I’ve embraced that part of the revolution that makes my life easier and ignored that part which doesn’t seem to have any significance to me.

I’ve lived longer than I expected and I chalk that all up to Modern Medicine.  I’ve ignored all the latest health fads and concentrated on eating foods I like and depending on my prescription medicine to do the rest.

It’s been a great life and a great time to have lived through.   I enjoyed the best of the Greatest Generation and the accomplishments of the Baby Boomers.

It’s been a great life and a great time to have lived through – - and I look forward to experiencing all that’s still to come.

So, Happy Birthday to me and to all of those my age.    We’ve had a great ride.


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County officials support charter movement

November 18th, 2014 by Ken

Previous attempts to create a Home Rule Charter for Thurston County have failed for several reasons, but not having the support of the county elected officials were a significant reason.

Word has it that all of our county elected officials support drafting a new county charter.

When we talk of county elected officials, we’re talking about the county sheriff, the county auditor, the county assessor, the county treasurer, the county clerk, the county coroner and any other county elected official we have.

While none of come out in public in support of the effort, I have it on good authority that they are all in agreement.   They want the county commission expanded to five members and they want the creation of a county administrator.

They also all want to keep their county positions as elected officials.  They’re not certain if they should be made non-partisan.

One thing is certain.   A county charter movement cannot succeed if the county elected officials are opposed.  This time it appears they are on board.

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History being made in Lacey

November 13th, 2014 by Ken

Lacey will make local history in the near future – - over its sign ordinance.

For more than three decades, Lacey has had the most restrictive sign ordinance in the state and maybe even in the country.

Next week the city will hold a public hearing on making changes to this onerous sign ordinance.

As a new city in the 1970′s, Lacey didn’t have a lot of things – - including a sign ordinance of any kind.   As it began its growth spurt, signs of all kinds popped up every where, creating clutter and confusion.   People began to question the need for some kind of control.

A Lacey councilmember and later city mayor, had spent some time in California and had seen communities with restrictive sign ordinances in response to that state’s rapid growth.   He thought he could transfer California to Lacey.

The ordinance as adopted by a complacent city council called for signs to be as innocuous and unobtrusive as possible.  No pole signs, no banners, flags or balloons, no oscillating  or rotating signs and no temporary signs.  Digital signs hadn’t been conceived yet and weren’t addressed.  No temporary signs like sandwich boards were allowed.   All business signs had to be flush mounted on the side of the building and were limited in space to the size of the building.

In other words, the city didn’t want any signs that could be seen by anyone driving along the city street.

Over the years the business community tried to fight the restrictions, but with almost no one of the council with any business experience, it was difficult to make the case for a more appropriate ordinance.

A two decade long effort on the part of the city to remove pole signs failed, when more than a dozen businesses failed to comply.   The city settled the matter by grandfathering them in.

One local business which wanted a digital sign, threatened a lawsuit if the city didn’t allow it, because the ordinance didn’t address this new technology.   The city complied, then added digital signs to its list of forbidden signs.

Businesses continued to complain, and when four business people were elected to the city council in the last four years, the city agreed to take another look at the ordinance and recommended some changes.

Tuesday, November 18, the Lacey Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on changes to the sign ordinance.

If you’re really interested, the complete draft ordinance is available on the city’s website.

But, it might be worth attending the meeting just to see history being made.

It starts at 7 p.m.

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Laws have unintended consequences

November 12th, 2014 by Ken

I’ve got a 23 year old grandson.  He’s a good kid.   He works hard in a local restaurant about 40 hours a week.

He worked his way through college by preparing food,  cleaning up the place and just being a good employee.  He also received a small scholarship to help him make it through school.

He’s looking for a better paying job, but with the local economy the way it is today, he’s having a difficult time finding work in his field – - so he’s living with his folks and working at the restaurant.

At least he was – - until last week  – - when his boss told him that he would have to cut his hours – below 30 hours a week.   His boss said that because of the Affordable Care Act, any employee working more than 30 hours a week, would have to have health care provided for him.

His boss said that he couldn’t afford to do that and cut his hours to 29 a week.

My grandson is now trying to look for a second job to supplement his first job, while he tries to find work where his college diploma will be of assistance.

That’s just a perfect example of how government programs can have a profound impact on people — and in this case a negative impact.

For my grandson, there are two impacts.

First — a college degree does no good if there are no jobs available.  We can spend all the money we want on education – but if the jobs aren’t there — then all the education in the world isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.

Then — the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide health care to all of their full time employees.  Full time being 30 hours a week, according to the Federal Government.

Most small businesses can’t do that so in order to meet the federal requirements  they cut back on the hours their employees can work.

The unintended consequences are often more significant than the intended results when government passes laws without reading them.

People can be hurt by bad laws.   My grandson is one of them.


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New election – same result

November 11th, 2014 by Ken

When the first votes were counted on election night, Initiative 1351 was failing by about 2 percentage points.

This measure, bought and paid for by the Washington Education Association, would cost taxpayers about $2,500,000,000 each year.  That’s $2.5 billion.

Voters across the state were saying no to this self-serving union measure.

But, everyone knew that all of the votes hadn’t been counted – particularly in King County.  Everyone knew that King County would keep counting ballots until it reached the results it wanted – - passage of the measure.    After all, we had experiences with vote counting in Seattle, which kept counting until Christine Gregorie had enough votes to defeat Dino Rossi for governor.

And, sure enough, King County’s votes are still being counted, but I-1351 has pulled ahead by half a percentage point.

Everyone knew on election night that King County would keep counting ballots until it achieved the goal it wanted.

No one trusts the election process in Washington state because of King County and its ability to keep finding new ballots to count.

Different election – - same results.

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Losers keep signs up

November 5th, 2014 by Ken

It’s time for all political signs to be removed from the public right-of-way.

I’ve discovered over the years that the winners often get their signs down in a few days.   The losers often forget that removing campaign signs is the last action of a political campaign.

(Editors note:   A full review of this year’s political campaign will be the main thrust of the printed edition of Ken’s Corner & The Real News.   It should be out shortly.)

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Low gas prices have a cost

November 4th, 2014 by Ken

I went to fill up my car recently and to my surprise I was paying $2.79 a gallon.    I can’t remember the last time I paid less than $3 a gallon for gas.

It was a bright spot in a rather dismal economic market.

Lower gas prices mean more money in the wallet and more disposable income.   It means a dinner out, a new pair of jeans,  a new toy for the kids, or a bill being paid that might have been put off.

Gasoline for our cars is one of the most expensive items in our monthly bills – - right up there with rent, utilities and food.   And that cost of driving the car has increased substantially in the last six years.   Wars in the Middle East, trouble with Russia and other international events impact the price we pay for gas.

But, for a few years now, we’ve had the promise that gasoline supplies in North America will soon bring lower gas prices at the pump.

We’ve been told that new extraction methods for oil sands in Canada and new drilling techniques  in North Dakota and Wyoming, will bring lower gas prices.

I didn’t believe it.  But – - now its true.

The reason for these lower gas prices is the fact that more oil is being produced around the world, and for us, particularly, here in North America.

New extraction techniques work.

One of these is called fracking where hot water and chemicals are pumped down into oil bearing shale, which then releases the oil that can then be pumped back to the surface.

I don’t know if fracking causes groundwater contamination.  From the way it works, it would seem that the chemicals used would eventually find ground water – - but I’m no scientist.

All of this oil has to get to market.   The best solution is through pipelines, but these are being held for environmental and political reasons.   The industry has turned to oil trains in the meantime.

There are environmental questions to all of this new oil.

All I know, is that we should be cautious until we can know the extent of the environmental impacts of these new drilling techniques and shipping.

However, I do love lower gas prices.


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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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