Disparity of wealth, biggest problem facing the 21st Century

April 2nd, 2019 by Ken

Disparity of wealth is turning out to be the greatest problem facing the 21st Century.   While some point to global climate change and others to religious zealotry  – the real culprit is the disparity of wealth between the rich countries and the poor countries.

The poor have always been with us, and according to the Christian Bible, they always will be with us.

The poor have always known that they are poor, just as poor countries have always realized that they were poor.   The difference in the 21st Century is that the poor are now truly aware of just how poor they are.   That realization has come about through technological change.

People everywhere now have access to the internet.  Even in really poor countries, cell phones and computers are readily available.  Now, the poor sit at their computers and see how rich some countries have become  They compare it to their own life and see how poor they are.

All across the globe, migrants are moving from the poorer countries to the richer countries.  They risk their life, their futures and their family ties to search for a better life.

Europe has become the first to feel the impact of economic refugees.  Over the past decade several hundred thousands  migrants from Africa and the poor countries of the Middle East have made their way to Europe.  Handling these refugees from economic despair has strained the financial and emotional resources of the countries of Europe.

A similar event is taking place on the Southern border of the United States.   Over the past decade hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America have been making their way to the United States and asking for asylum.   While many of them claim refugee status from violence – – most are coming for economic reasons. Fortunately, the United States has a record and history of handling economic refugees, but there is a limit and an end to how many the country can assimilate.

We need a workable and supportable immigration policy, which recognizes economics as a reason for migration.  We also need the jobs to accommodate the influx.  In the meantime, we need to find a means to control the number of those whom we admit and realize that it is only going to become a greater problem as the years go by. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

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22nd Avenue Roundabout is an impediment to College Street traffic flow

March 27th, 2019 by Ken

It’s too late to do anything about it.  The City of Lacey has gone out for bids on the construction of a new Roundabout on College and 22nd Avenue.

For a decade or more, the city has wanted to redo College Street for the purpose of improving traffic flow, adding better sidewalks, creating bike lanes, and eliminating left turns.   That effort will be underway shortly and will take 340 construction days to finish this first phase. 

That particular Roundabout is unnecessary and will be nothing but an impediment to traffic flow once constructed.

Lets talk first about what it will do to traffic flow when it’s under construction.  Access to Mt. View Elementary School will be severely impacted.  Parents will no longer be able to access the school from College Street.   More significantly is that school buses will have a more difficult time exiting onto College.  Students using the College Street signal will be impacted and students walking down the street will be impacted.   I’ve brought this issue to the attention of the city and the school district.  They assure me they have things under control.

Traffic will also back up on College while the Roundabout is under construction.  College is already the busiest street in the city and traffic often backs up for a dozen blocks at certain times of the day.  During construction, that will be a continuous process.   In addition, traffic will be routed down Golf Club Road, Judd Street and Ruddell Road.  Golf Club and Judd are in residential areas and not used to thousands of cars.   City official tell me “that’s the price we have to pay for improving traffic flow.”

I’ve argued for years that a Roundabout on 22nd isn’t needed.  That 22nd is NOT a major street.  It only runs for four blocks from Sleater-Kinney to Ruddell Road.  I’ve lost that argument.

But – the real problem comes when the Roundabout is finished.  Roundabouts make for a continuous flow of traffic. Red Lights stop traffic. A continuous flow makes it extremely difficult to pull out on College. Red lights leave pulses when those of us living on College can pull out into traffic.

Mt. View school children cross College at a pedestrian Red Light, which will be less than 200 feet from the Roundabout.  Everyone knows that a red light within two blocks of a Roundabout, causes significant trouble.  Traffic often backs up into the Roundabout when the light is red. 

Mt. View has taught its students to cross College only at the Red Light.  It is ingrained in every student.  When activated, that light will back up traffic on College  through the Roundabout, and for a dozen blocks both ways.  It will back up traffic on 22nd and into the back school parking lot.

There’s nothing those of us who send our kids to Mt. View or who use College on a regular basis can do about it now. It’s too late. I just hope that the city and the school district really do have things under control.

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The Affordable Housing Crisis

March 15th, 2019 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

I’ve always found it ironic when mobs of protestors pack counsel chambers to demand that counsels fix the affordable housing crisis, considering that the counsels themselves have been a major cause of the crisis.

These counsels adopt restrictive zoning codes, limit vertical development, assess a bewildering spectrum of impact fees, collect exorbitant excise taxes and organize LIDs that easily add seventy to $100,000 to the cost of each and every housing unit … which pushes occupancy costs so high that living in a tent starts to make sense.

One consequence of this mind-boggling naiveté is the geometrically increasing cost of ministering to and dealing with those who are priced out of housing and make the live-in-a-tent choice. This then leads to higher and higher property taxes, which in turn create more and more homeless who in turn storm the counsel chambers to demand that the counselors fix the problem.

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Personal observations

March 14th, 2019 by Ken

It was nice to see John Dodge in the pages of “The Olympian” again. John wrote about the fire at the Johnson Smoke House, his neighbors in East Olympia. The story first appeared on his blog. You can probably access his blog by googling John Dodge. Incidentally the Johnsons are related to me. Ron’s wife Susan is my second cousin. Unfortunately we don’t have much contact.

Olympia’s own Dick Pust is celebrating 60 years of radio broadcasting. Dick first went to work for KGY Radio in 1959. He is currently on the air on KXXO (Mixx96).

I had Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby on my “Coffee With Ken” show recently. The mayor is excited to have the Thurston County Courthouse in downtown Olympia and its 500 employees enjoying the downtown area. She also talked about a new civic center in conjunction with the courthouse. The entire interview can be accessed by clicking on the “Coffee With Ken” button at the top of this page.

The Lacey Rotary Club recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of doing good in the world and in the Lacey community. The Lacey Club was chartered on March 13, 1969. It was sponsored by the Olympia Rotary Club. Olympia wanted to sponsor a Lacey club for several years, but needed to wait “until the political situation stabilized”. After the City of Lacey fought off an annexation effort by the City of Olympia in 1968, things quieted down enough so the Olympia club felt confident in chartering the Lacey club

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Dialogue 18 – Daylight Savings Time

March 11th, 2019 by Ken

Dialogue 18 – Daylight Savings Time

“That’s dangerous,” she said.  “Somebody might get killed.”

“What’s dangerous,” he asked.

“Daylight Savings Time,” she said.  “I get up at 6 am, except this time it was 5 am.  I’m so tired.  My body just hasn’t adjusted to the time difference.  I almost hit someone coming in this morning and then I tripped on the escalator. They ought to do something about it.”

“What do you want them to do,” he asked.

“Stop messing with the time,” she said.  “It’s just not natural to keep changing it all of the time.   Who’s to blame for this mess?”

“Blame the Monks.” he said.

“What have the monks got to do with it?” she asked.

“They’re the ones that starting marking off time.  They needed to know what time it was so they could get up for morning prayer, so they invented time and a way to measure it.” he said.  “Before that, no one cared about time.  They got up when it got light and went to bed when it got dark.”

“That’s it?” she asked.

“Not quite.  The industrial revolution meant that everybody had to be at work at the same time so they could work with the machines.  So, everybody had a clock.  In some places, the company just had a whistle.  When it blew, everyone knew the time.”

“And, that’s it?” she asked.

“Not quite.  When the railroads stretched their iron rails across the country, they needed common time across the whole United States. 

“Getting a little poetic, aren’t you?” she said.  “So I can blame the railroads?”

“Not quite,” he said.  “During World War One the government started Daylight Savings Time, so the factories producing war gear could operate longer in the day without burning so much energy.   They did it again in World War Two.  And, they just kept continuing it.”

“So, I can blame the government?” she asked.

“Can if you want to,” he said.  “I’ve got the number for our
Congresswoman on my phone.”

“Well, if I hit someone in my car tomorrow, I’m going to blame the government,” she said.

“It’s alright with me,” he said.

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Blue wave crested at the foot of the Cascades

February 24th, 2019 by Ken

Blue Wave crested at the foot of the Cascades

King County’s ultra liberal Democratic bent has sent a Blue Wave down the coast of Washington and even took in parts of Clark County and Vancouver – the Portland suburbs.  But, it crested at the foot of the Cascades.

There’s no doubt that King County controls politics in Washington.  This is best shown by the vote on Initiative 1639, the gun-control measure.  While it passed in the urban areas of King County by nearly 70 percent, it failed to carry even one county east of the Cascades.

Those living on the dry side of the state have chaffed at their inability to have any say in how the state governs them and their property and in their frustration have introduced a bill to separate the two sides and form their own state of “Liberty”. 

This isn’t the first time such a move has been started.  About once a decade the idea gains support when the liberals of the west try to force their views on the more conservative residents of the east.

Opponents of this idea point out that new states shouldn’t  be created for political purposes.   I of course point out that many new states were created for political reasons.  The most blatant being Nevada and West Virginia.  President Abraham Lincoln was concerned that his effort to gain a second term might fail, and created the two new states to bring him additional electoral votes.

Instead of forming a new state, supporters of the idea would be better off annexing to Idaho.  At one time, Idaho was part of the Washington Territory and might very well welcome the new residents and new tax base.

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The trouble with socialism

February 22nd, 2019 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

Proclaiming victory over the rapacious capitalists of Amazon who had tried to set up shop in Long Island City, a decaying neighborhood of New York City. Amazon had planned to hire 25,000 workers earning an average of $150,000 per year, spend billions of dollars building office towers, all of which would create some 67,000 new service sector jobs. You’d think the city would welcome all that with open arms.

Think again! Social justice warriors and community activists, including self-declared socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) went up in arms! In a matter of weeks they “defeated” the nasty capitalists, who decided to take their jobs elsewhere. Afterwards AOC tweeted “a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation and the power of the richest man in the world.” Notwithstanding the fact that most workers would love to be exploited with $150,000 salaries, and most communities would be happy to give Amazon what amounted to a small break on municipal and state taxes, AOC and her social justice warriors went absolutely apoplectic.

When facing push-back for her triumph over capitalism, AOC replied “If we’re willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers, we can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money if we wanted to.” Of course any rational person would understand that New York wasn’t “paying” Amazon $3 billion to locate in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. It was simply 10% reduction of the $30 billion the company would pay in taxes over its first 10 years in NYC.

But AOC apparently didn’t understand this. This Democratic Representative from Queens (NY14), an economics graduate of Boston University, thought she could spend $3 billion that doesn’t exist and will never exist. The whole sorry episode reeks of sloppy thinking, educational failure and sound-bite politics. In other words it’s the perfect metaphor for Socialism.

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AG’s opinion purely political

February 14th, 2019 by Ken

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s letter to county sheriffs informing them they must obey state law when it comes to gun control measures, is purely political on his part.

Ferguson is running for governor of Washington State, if and when the current governor decides to run for president or to retire.

In order to win any such race, he must appeal to King County, where the bulk of all votes lie.  He can’t win without the support of the liberals who control politics in the state’s largest county.

And, he realizes that I-1639 passed in King County by nearly 70 percent of the vote, while if failed in most of the other counties in the state, including in all of the rural counties.   And, it’s the sheriffs in the rural counties who are opposed to enforcing the gun control requirements.

Ferguson told the sheriffs that they can’t decide what laws to enforce even if some counties and cities have failed to enforce immigration laws.  Ferguson pointed out that the gun control will become a state law in July – – while the immigration laws are federal rules. 

The attorney general obviously sees a difference between state laws and federal regulations.   He also sees a large block of voters in King County and other urban counties.  He apparently has already written off the rural counties of the state.

Ferguson’s letter to the county sheriffs is just another step in his political effort to become the new governor of our state.

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County sheriffs oppose enforcement of gun control initiatives

February 5th, 2019 by Ken

To date, the sheriffs in 15 counties in Washington State have said they will not enforce the new rules on gun ownership under Initiative 1639, until there is a court ruling on the legality of the measure.

While Initiative 1639 was passed by the voters in 2018 with 59 percent of the vote, it failed in all 15 counties where the sheriffs are refusing to enforce the law. Some of the initiative took affect on January 1 of this year, but most of it will become law in July 2019.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution says in effect “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The United States Supreme Court has upheld that ruling, but has also allowed some restrictions.

Passage of I-1639 was paid for with $5 million dollars from four Microsoft and other Seattle area billionaires. It passed in the urban counties of the state, including Thurston County; but failed in most of the other counties.

It was opposed by most law enforcement organizations including those in whom most county sheriffs are members.

The question most asked by those opposed to the actions of local law enforcement is how can our government officials fail to enforce the laws. The response of course follows this course. Government officials often fail to enforce laws they don’t agree with. Most recently, it’s our immigration laws and the creation of “Sanctuary Cities.”

While our local county sheriffs want the courts to rule on the legality of the law, they will be sorely disappointed when the case gets to the Washington State Supreme Court. Most, if not all of the judges are from the urban areas of the state and will undoubtedly uphold this voter approved measure.

If it gets to the United States Supreme Court it will probably be overturned or sent back to the state for further legal review, but in the meantime, the law will go into full effect on July 1, 2019. Will the county sheriffs enforce the law while it slowly makes it way through the legal process? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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Valentine’s Day – Another Sexist Holiday

January 28th, 2019 by Ken

Who can be  against love?  What person in his or her right mind can object to an innocuous holiday like Valentine’s Day?

Well, count me in as one who thinks Valentine’s Day has outlived its purpose.

Historically, Valentine’s Day has been the time when man, through buying presents for woman (usually flowers, candy and jewelry) proclaims his life long love and promises of a romantic future.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

Men buys gifts for women on Valentine’s Day for one reason – and one reason only – – he’s expected to.   A man can forget his lover’s birthday, or can forget his anniversary, but woe be to the man who forgets a present on Valentine’s Day. 

Media and merchandising messages has created an expectation in women, that the man in her life will show his affection on this one day of the year devoted solely to love.  And he will show that expectation through the purchase of a romantic gift.

And on February 15, women across the country, will gather at the water cooler at work, or wherever working women gather, and compare notes on their valentine gift.  No woman wants to be left out of the conversation or made the butt of jokes.  Men buy gifts on Valentine’s Day because it is expected.

Valentine’s Day has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any.  Women have gained major strides in our modern society.  The need of men to woe women no longer exists.  I am absolutely amazed, that the feminists of our society are not out on the streets with pickets signs, proclaiming the inherent sexism of the holiday.

Could it be, that feminists want gifts on Valentine’s Day just as much as any other woman?

That has to be on the only explanation for why we still have this silly, sexist holiday of Valentine’s Day.

Now, what time do the stores close, I have to buy a card?

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Dialogue 17 – Politics

January 22nd, 2019 by Ken

“I can’t believe some of the people running for president,” she said.   “They just don’t seem to understand what this country stands for.”

“What makes you say that,” he said.  “The ones who have announced seem to know what they want.  They want change.”

“But, what kind of change?” she asked.  “They seem to want to dump everything we worked for and replace it with  – I don’t know what.  But, it isn’t good for us.  What makes them think they can get elected in the first place?”

“Well, they think that if Donald Trump could be elected president, then anyone could be president – even them,” he said. “And, what makes you think that change would be bad for us?”

“They want to give everybody everything.  They want free health care, free college tuition, free food for everyone and a free car for everyone.   Well, OK, maybe not a free car for everyone, but they want to give everything to people who can’t afford it.”

“And, you find that bad?” he asked.

“Yes, who’s going to pay for it?  You and I and all of our friends who have worked so hard for so long just to have the little bit we have.  They’re going to take away our savings by taxing it and raising taxes on everything else.  Do you think that’s right?”

“Of course not,” he said.  “They’re just appealing to their base of political support.  Once they get elected, they’ll mellow and move to the middle.”

“That’s what they said about Trump, and he’s still pushing his conservative business agenda.  He didn’t move to the middle.”

“You’ve got a point,” he said

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Commissioner should postpone making a decision on new county courthouse

January 21st, 2019 by Ken

I agree with Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby. Thurston County Commissioners should postpone making a decision on the location of a new courthouse. But not for the reasons Selby wants them to wait.

The Olympia mayor said it may cost the City of Olympia up to $32 million dollars to locate a new county courthouse in downtown Olympia on its stated location on Plum Street, the former location of the old Olympia City Hall. The city doesn’t have that kind of money in its budget, the mayor said.

I don’t think the courthouse should go into downtown Olympia. Not because it will cost the city money, but because I don’t think the taxpayers of Thurston County should fund this downtown Olympia re-development project. Pumping millions of dollars into the downtown area will be counter-productive to residents of Lacey, Tumwater and the unincorporated areas of Thurston County.

As much as people seem to think this is one big community, the exact opposite is true. Lacey and Tumwater compete with Olympia on business and commercial development. Helping fund a downtown Olympia courthouse is to the detriment of those two cities – – and all of the other small towns in Thurston County.

Instead, county commissioners should pick the third option – – redevelop the current property of the existing courthouse complex on the Westside of Olympia.The cost will be a little more and it will take a little more time, but it is the best option the commissioners are considering.

There is nothing wrong with that site. Many legal firms doing business with the county are located in the vicinity and people know where the courthouse is located. The buildings just need to be renovated. It is the best option and commissioners should take Mayor Selby’s advice – – and postpone making a decision until the public has had an opportunity to comment.

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After delay, Train Depot is on the way

January 15th, 2019 by Ken

After more that a year of delay, the Lacey City Council has finally approved going out for bid for a new  Train Depot replica on Pacific Avenue.  The depot will echo the original train depot which served the city beginning in the 1890’s.  The depot was demolished sometime in mid-20th Century and the railroad tracks vacated in the 1970’s.

In a recent Council work session the vote was 5-1 in favor of moving ahead with the project.  Only Councilmember Lenny Greenstein voted in opposition questioning its nearly $900,000 price tag.  Councilmember Jason Hearn was absent.

Several years  before the City of Lacey’s 50th Birthday Celebration in 2016, the city was looking for a project that would reflect the city’s history.

A new museum for Lacey was the main subject of conversation and the decision was made to begin the process.  A planning team was gathered and the final determination was to build a replica of the Lacey Train Depot which would house the museum..   The depot connected Lacey to the world and helped give Lacey a sense of community.

The city manager and the mayor were on board and planning began for the building and its interior.   Funding would be a major issue, but plans were proposed to start a fund-raising campaign.   The kickoff for the fund raiser could be a “Mayor’s Gala”.  The event would be part of the city’s 50th birthday celebration.  Money raised at the event would begin the drive to get the money and get the project started.

Then the city spent nearly a million dollars to buy the old carpet warehouse on Lacey Blvd as the site of a new city museum and community center.  Finally, money raised at the Mayor’s Gala was decided to fund operation of the new Lacey Veteran Service Hub, a major priority for the city.

A museum within the Train Deport was determined to be non-workable and was placed down the list of priorities.  When the estimated cost of the project came out significantly higher than thought, the city took a look at how to lower the cost..

One suggestion was to build only the exterior of the building.

Since its location is on the Woodland Trail, the building is now considered a “trail amenity”.  It will contain only two bathrooms for walkers on the trail. The remainder of the scaled-down building will be left empty.

The city is going out to bid in a few weeks.   If the bids come back at a price the city can afford, then construction will hopefully start this summer.  Maybe the Lacey Train Depot replica can be dedicated on December 5, the 53rd birthday of the city.

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Dialogue 16 – Religion

January 9th, 2019 by Ken

 “Do you believe in God,” she asked.

“What brought that on,” he replied.  “You’ve always believed in God.  You’ve always had a religious streak?”

“I’m having second thoughts,” she said.  “I can’t believe a god would allow innocent children to be killed by some deranged shooter.   It just doesn’t make sense.”

“And, you want me to re-affirm your belief in god,” he asked.  “You know I don’t believe in a supreme being of any type.  That’s just something you’ll have to work out yourself.  If you have enough faith, you’ll eventually come around.”

“But, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” she asked.

“Mankind has been wrestling with that question since he first decided that spirits and gods existed.  Religious scholars will tell you that God gave every human – free will – the ability to do what they want.   Innocent people are often the victims of free will

“Ancient people  used to believe that the spirits, or god, was upset with something they’d done and he was punishing them.  So, they’d sacrifice an animal or even a human being to please god.

“Now, all god asks when bad things happen to good people, is to have a stronger belief and continue to follow his teachings.”

“That doesn’t help,” she said.  “I still don’t understand why people do bad things and other people suffer for it.”

“You could always do what I do,” he said.  ” Believe there’s no such thing as a god or a supreme being, and people will always do what’s in their own best interest.   That way, God won’t disappoint you and test your faith.”

“So, it’s just a test by God?” she asked.

“Maybe so, who am I to make that determination,” he said.  “After all, God gave you free will.  You decide.” 

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$30 car tabs once again on the ballot

January 7th, 2019 by Ken

There was a time in this state, when drivers had to pay as much as half a month’s salary just to register their car or truck to drive on state and local roads. When the monthly salary was around $500, some people were paying as much as $300 just to register their car and get their car tabs

State legislators were blind to the impact those car tabs had on a working family’s income and continued to increase the license fees every year to fund road and highway construction,.

Then, a watch salesman from King County decided – enough was enough – and embarked on an initiative campaign to reduce the price of car tabs to a reasonable amount – $30. Thus began the career of Tim Eyman, who tapped into voter dissatisfaction with the amount of money government was spending.

In 1999, voter’s approved I-695 which set the price of car tabs at $30. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that measure invalid, but the legislature bowing to the public’s demand and wanting to get re-elected, approved $30 car tabs.

Over the next few years, the price started creeping upwards, as the legislature just couldn’t keep its hand off that easy money. So, in 2002 Eyman tried again – and again the voters approved $30 car tabs. And, again, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled against the measure on the grounds that income from the tabs was already pledged by King County to support bonds sold for Sound Transit.

Eyman tried twice more in 2016 and 2017 to get a $30 car tab initiative before the voters but failed to get enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. But, this year he was successful. A measure to lower car tabs to $30 will once again be before the voters when all of the signatures are counted and validated.

To make certain the courts won’t rule against the measure, Eyman has stipulated in the initiative that tab income already pledged to sell bonds, will continue.

Voters will be able to lock in $30 car tabs in most areas of the state, unless the Washington State Supreme Court once again finds that the state needs the money more than the taxpayers.

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Dialogue 15 – Lies

January 4th, 2019 by Ken

Dialogue 15 – Lies

“I feel pretty bad,” she said.   “I told a lie to my best friend today.”

“What did you say,” he asked?

“I told her that I liked her new hair-do.  But I really didn’t think it looked good on her at all.  I told a lie.”

“So, what’s wrong with that?” he asked.  “We tell lies all the time.  We tell white lies to people we like because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.  We tell lies to other people to protect ourselves.  For humans, lying  is as natural as breathing.”

“But, is it OK to lie?  Are there such things as good lies?”

“There are all types of lies,” he said.  “But I have come up with what I call – the good lie.”

“Enlighten me my little liar,” she said.

“A good lie has to have an element of truth to it.  It has to be believable.  We won’t tell someone we just flew to the moon, because no one would believe it.  But, if we said we just saw a flying saucer, many would believe it.

“Then, to protect ourselves from those who might question our lie, we need to be able to remember it.   That’s how law enforcement finds the guilty.  Those who tell lies, have a hard time remembering what they said.  So, if you’re going to tell a lie, make sure you can remember it.

“And finally,” he said, “make sure its deniable. You have to be able to look someone in the eye and say –  I never said that.”

“Thanks for clearing that up for me,” she said.  “Do you want to go to the movies today.  They’ve got a great new romantic comedy playing.”

“No thanks,” he said.  “I’ve got too much work to do.  But thanks for asking.”

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Consolidation of three cities just an Olympia pipe dream

December 30th, 2018 by Ken

Our favorite local newspaper – “The Olympian” – in case you didn’t know what it was, has once again come out for consolidation of the three cities. Its reason this time – – homelessness.

The newspaper contends that Olympia’s homeless problem is a regional problem, and needs to be addressed by the three cities and the county. The paper decries the lack of support for the issue from the cities of Lacey and Tumwater. It contends that if those cities become part of Olympia’s city government, there will be more money and more support for a regional approach to the homeless problem.

The paper also points to unusual and strange city borders and boundaries as a reason to join the three cities together. It has no historical context for the jagged and non-ordinary lines which separate the three cities. It fails to understand the growth of the three cities and how each has established its own identity.

The paper also points out that we pay for three city managers, three police chiefs and even several fire chiefs. It thinks that consolidation would be a cost savings. Of course, such is not the case. We would still keep the same police chiefs and the same fire chiefs and the same staff – only – we would have to hire someone to supervise those positions. It would cost more money from that end.

I’ve worked more than 45 years to help give Lacey a sense of community identification. It is now the largest urban area in Thurston County. Some 27 percent of its population have some connection to the military. It has become a place for people to live and work. Despite itself, the North Thurston Public Schools is a major factor in Lacey’s sense of community. Lacey’s identification is now set.

Tumwater has a long historical reason for its independence from the City of Olympia. There’s nothing joining Olympia will do to bring anything positive to the residents of Americans First Community north of the Columbia River.

The homeless situation in Olympia, is not the fault of the city. External forces have created the problem. But, the city’s inability to make the hard choices necessary to alleviate the worse of the situation, has made homelessness a major problem instead of just a nuisance. Am I calling homeless a nuisance? No – but it could be, if Olympia officials made the tough choices.

There is no reason for consolidation. “The Olympian” sees that the City of Olympia is unable to handle the situation on its own and is grasping at straws (hopefully paper) in its effort to make the downtown Olympia problem, a regional problem.

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Observations on the news

December 26th, 2018 by Ken

Washington Governor Jay Inslee cares about the Orcas, about the Washington Education Association (which got him elected) and about running for president of the United States. He doesn’t care about the taxpayers of Washington State, particularly the small business owner, who will see his Business and Occupation Tax double for all those service businesses which keep our community running.

While the Timberland Regional Library Board wrestles with closing under-performing branches and renewing its contract with the library chief, it has forgotten the conflict with the major cities of Thurston County. Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater branches account for a majority of the circulation and a majority of the customers and yet have very little say in how the system operates. The entire regional concept needs to be reviewed with an eye towards “equality”.

While the Seattle metropolitan area continues to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to solve the homeless problem, it has had almost no impact whatsoever. Homeless in King County has increased by four percent and shows no sign of slowing. In Thurston County, some 32 non-profit organizations deal with the homeless situation in some form or other, and yet they have made almost no dent in bringing the problem under control.

It’s time the federal government stopped making pennies. It cost the government more to make a penny, than a penny is worth. Last year the government lost $89 million making nickles and pennies. I’m NOT advocating that we do away with the penny as a medium of currency. I want us to keep the penny. I just want the government to stop making pennies. Americans have billions of pennies stashed away in jars, cans and piggy banks. Stop losing money making pennies, and these stashed pennies will soon emerge from their hiding places and back into circulation.

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Dialogue 14 – White Christmas

December 19th, 2018 by Ken

Dialogue 14 – White Christmas

“I wish it would snow,” she said.

“Why do you want it to snow?”, he questioned.  “You don’t like driving in the snow and you don’t like all of the cancellations and delays that come from snow storms.  Why do you want it to snow?”

“I want a white Christmas,” she said.  “It doesn’t really seem like Christmas if we don’t have some snow.   I just think snow makes things more Christmasy.”

“When was the last time we had snow on Christmas here?” he asked. I’ll bet it’s been a decade or more since we even saw snow anywhere around Christmas.”

“We used to have more snow,” she said.

“Yeah back in the 60’sand the 70’s,” he said.  “But Global warming has changed all that. Besides, we never really had a lot of snow at Christmas time even when we were kids.

“What we usually have at Christmas in cold rain.  December is the wettest month here in the Northwest. We get an average of about seven inches of rain.   And, it’s always cold.   In the summer we get our rain from Hawaii.  In the winter we get our rain from Alaska.  So winter rain is always cold.

“Besides”, he said.  “I like a Cold Rain Christmas.  I like the way the rain makes all the Christmas lights sparkle, particularly when you see them through the windshield of your car.  There’s just something special about Christmas in the Northwest.”

“I don’t care,”she said.  “I still want a white Christmas.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said.   “And, if it does, are you going to drive over to your mom’s on Christmas Eve.”

“You’re going to have to,” she said.  “You know I don’t like driving in the snow.”

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The Marine Terminal, An Artifact From Olympia’s Industrial Past

December 18th, 2018 by Ken

t                           by Joe Illing

I own a small commercial property in downtown Olympia. It’s a short walk from the port peninsula’s Marine Terminal (what most of us call “the port”). Needless to say, over the years I’ve taken a keen interest in what happens there, or what doesn’t happen there. I have a point of view concerning the peninsula that’s distinctly different from those who work for, or receive funds from, the Port of Olympia.

They see the Marine Terminal as one of the big pistons that drive Thurston County’s economic engine. They shower us with facts, figures, charts and statistics in order to validate their assertion that the terminal bestows upon us a bounty of invaluable benefits. These including five-hundred and sixty-four  jobs “associated” with the terminal (that means some are essentially part-time).* They point to a $135,000 annual profit as proof of the terminal’s health … if you don’t count “depreciation”and pretend equipment and other buildings last forever, not to mention that a profit margin of a few thousandths of a percent on “business revenue” of $33,000,000 is laudatory.

All of this information, however, is essentially useless if we’re to assess the value of the terminal to the general population. It compares apples to apples and fails to ask the single most important question concerning the Marine Terminal … does it meet the needs of post-industrial Olympia?Does it add to, inhibit or subtract from the public good?

The Marine Terminal occupies a unbelievably priceless piece of geography, a peninsula that juts out into the headwaters of Budd Inlet,offering unparalleled vistas of snowcapped mountains rising from the sound. Its shoreline invites incomparable recreational opportunities. Urban amenities are within a short, easy walk. It’s truly what the old timers once called”The Pearl of the Puget Sound.”

Yet, in spite of its beauty and its unique attributes, and in spite of a century-long evolution of the community it serves, the terminal remains stuck in a 19th century mindset … and we use it for a log dump. It’s like defacing the Mona Lisa.

The Marine Terminal is a vestige of Thurston County’s industrial past. Over the ninety-five years since the Port of Olympia was formally chartered, that era has vanished. The peninsula once hosted thirty lumber mills, five shingle mills, a veneer factory, a cannery and numerous ship builders.**It was a busy, productive place with plenty of living wage jobs that generated big ripples in the local economy.

But those days are long gone. All that remains is what’s called a “weekend port”* in maritime lingo (that translates as “small potatoes”). It has a marina, a children’s museum, a tragically wrong-placed sewer treatment plant, a couple of fancy office buildings and a farmer’s market,all of which surround its once vibrant, beating heart …the “log dump.” This is a mechanized no-man’s land where monstrous machines belch diesel fumes while tossing around whole forest of logs as if they were pick-up sticks.

Is this responsible stewardship of such a singular asset? I think not. It’s long since time to consider alternatives.

To see one such alternative just drive north to Granville Island in Vancouver, BC.*** The similarities between it and our port peninsula are striking. They both share an industrial past. They both dredged their surrounding waters and expanded their land mass with its fill from 1911 through 1915. They both welcomed manufacturing industries in the early 1920s and prospered through a couple of world wars well into mid-century.

Then new economies, new methods of transportation and new ways of doing business changed old business models. And that’s when the shared destinies of these two entities diverged. In the 1970s  the Canadians decided to bid adieu to the industrial use of the island and welcomed market activities. Today Granville Island,with half the land mass of the port peninsula, is alive with activity … and prosperity. Today that island boasts 275 businesses that employ more than 2,500 people. It generates more than $215,000,000 in economic activity each year, and fills Vancouver’s tax coffers to overflowing.

The Port of Olympia’s Marine Terminal, stuck with its out of date business model, posts predictably disappointing results. If you compare our peninsula with Vancouver’s island you must inevitably conclude that the terminal is not serving its community well.

It’s time to close the books on the Marine Terminal and develop the peninsula to the benefit of the all. Surround it with marinas and other maritime uses, provide access to Budd Inlet for all citizens of Thurston County,create housing for those who want to re-urbanize and turn the unpeopled port of today into a vibrant neighborhood tha tcontributes in a meaningful way to the economic and cultural health of our community.

It’s time the Port Commissioners exercised their fiduciary responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of Thurston County and take a critical look at the peninsula and unlock its matchless potential. It’s time for them to answer this simple question … does the Marine Terminal represent the “highest and best” use of the peninsula land?

If not it’s time to begin the transformation ofthe terminal from artifact of an industrial past to an icon of a dynamic future. It can, and should, be done.

**HistoryLink.org, Margaret Riddle

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