Year round education under serious review by local school districts

October 8th, 2021 by Ken

School districts around the state, including Olympia, Yelm, Tumwater and North Thurston, are looking at a new educational concept called “Balanced Calendar.”    It’s the newest name for Year Round Schools, but educator are quick to point out that its different.

Under the Balanced Calendar, students would go to school for 45 days followed by 10-15 days off.  There would be four periods of 45 days during the year, bringing the total educational year to 180 days.  There would be an extended vacation period during the summer break.  But, there would be no additional classroom days.

Currently North Thurston Public School has created a 50 member advisory committee to look at the concept.  It’s chaired by North Thurston assistant superintendents  Monty Sabin and Vicky Lamoreaux .  Members of the committee include teachers, education staff, parents, students and community members.  The committee has met once and has a meeting scheduled later this month.

The idea for the study rests with the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office which is rolling out the concept on a statewide basis.  SPI has awarded $75,000 grants to school districts to undertake the study.

The tentative date for completion of the study is May of 2022.  At that time, school districts around the state will jointly present their ideas and possible support for a Balanced Calendar school year.

(Editorial comment)  The idea of year round schools has been a bugaboo for educators.  As we continue to turn from a rural to an urban country, the idea of taking the summer off to help with the harvest has long since run its course.  Now many private schools have adopted a year-round approach.  Under a Balanced Calendar concept students wouldn’t spend more time in the classroom, so it really isn’t more time in classroom learning.  It spreads the current school year over the whole calendar.  I suspect that the Pandemic had an impact on moving this idea along.  Remote learning has proven to be a useful idea.  It’s impact on student learning is still being assessed however.   One problem I see is finding day care and child care at four different times of the year.  This is one problem that needs considerable discussion and understanding.  I’m also a little concerned that the school district is not allowing outside citizen input into the process but is waiting until it has a product to put before the community.

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How Evergreen changed our country

September 30th, 2021 by Ken

(Editor’s note:  While The Evergreen State College celebrates 50 years of higher education to the South Sound area, its reach far transcends the boundaries of this state.  It actually changed the governmental and political system of this country.  This is its story.)

How did a small liberal arts college, on the outskirts of a small state capitol, tucked away in the corner of the country, spread a social revolution that changed politics and the future?

That’s The Evergreen State College story.

Founded in 1967 and opened to students in 1971, the college was charged by the Washington State legislature to “be different.”  The college embraced that charge.

Founding faculty members, many from the East Coast and New England, remade the idea of a college.  Professors were to teach, not write and do research.  To make certain that they held to that concept,  there were no permanent deans who were replaced after a period of time and eventually returned to teaching.  There were no “schools”.  Every year the teaching curriculum could and would change.  Teaching would be in a coordinated system with several students and several teachers with differing expertise working together

There were no mandatory classes and no grades.  Students would study in the areas that interested them.  Professors would evaluate each student.  The student in turn would evaluate each professor,  Upon graduating the student would have a portfolio of his/her work which would substitute for a GPA.

Over-arching all this, was a progressive concept that put skills into the hands of the individuals who would work through existing stables of power to make government more responsive to the over-all good of society.

Many other colleges around the country have been in similar situations with an ability to educate students in the progressive vein.  But those were often private colleges.  What made Evergreen so unusual  is that it was a public college, funded by government.  Because of all that it developed the power of influencing government policy on a national level?

First – it was a small college, without any historical perspective on how a college should be run.  The policies it adopted allowed the school to change with the upheavals of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Second – It was located in a small state capitol city, which at the time of founding had less than 30,000 residents and was located in an urban area of less than 150,000.  As time went on, the number of students graduating from the college and staying in the community had a level of impact far beyond most colleges.

Evergreen has more than 40,000 graduates.  A significant portion of them – perhaps as many as half – have stayed in the community.  The unique make-up of the student-body has contributed to the relatively “home base” of its graduates.  Early on the school attracted women and many classes were oriented towards those women.  Many women were first-time college students or women returning to college and many of them had family in the community.

Because state government often required a college degree to advance up the pay scale, it encouraged its employees to take classes and many of them did.  And, after having graduated, many of them went back to work for government.

Third –  As they worked their way up the ladder in state government, these “Greeners” and their “liberal” philosophy began to influence the course of state government.  The influence of these Greeners was significant.

Because the college was located in a small state capitol, the 20,000 graduates who remain in Thurston County exert tremendous influence in their jobs.  Many of those graduates are in top management position  Because state government is the primary job source, the influence of the college on the future of the state is tremendous, as its history over the last 50 years clearly shows

If the college had been located in a large metropolitan area its impact  would not be extensive.   If the state capitol had been located in a large metro area, then the college’s impact would have been insignificant.  But with a liberal arts college located in a community of around 150,000 (at the time) and with state government as the major source of employment, The Evergreen State College has driven the political bent of the State of Washington.

While most of the impact is done in the halls of state agencies it’s difficult to quantify just how extensive the influence has become.  But Evergreen’s impact on the state was made almost as soon as the college opened its doors in 1971.

Jolene Unsoeld, wife of founding faculty member Willi Unsoeld (and later Congresswoman) began the effort to create a Public Disclosure Commission.  With Initiative 276 she was successful.  Other initiatives to change state government and open it to scrutiny followed.

Vote By Mail and Top Two Primaries are just the most visible of actions taken by Washington State that can be traced back to those who work for state government, which emanates from Olympia.

These public changes were only the most visible of the impacts of Greeners on state government.   Agency policies after agency policies followed.

Because the capital of  state government is in Olympia, many advocacy groups have an office near the state capitol.  Many of those are staffed by Greeners who didn’t go to work directly with government  and became lobbyists and advocates for various positions.  Often they worked with people in state government with whom they went to school.

Evergreen’s educational bent can be seen by its advanced degree programs – Public Administration, Environmental Studies, Education.  Students who graduate from the school with master degrees in those areas of education usually go into government.  And, that  government headquarters is in Olympia.

Evergreen’s curriculum also encouraged women to go to school, or go back to school.  Women studies programs helped working women and single moms to transition into public policy jobs.   These classes and the resulting number of educated women gave them an access  into government work.  Social programs oriented around education, childcare and health then became main priorities of  state government.

By the beginning of the 21st Century Washington State was the leader in progressive government. Other states began to adopt its own policies that echoed those coming out of Olympia and the State of Washington  Leadership in our current social movement can be laid at the foot of The Evergreen State College and its thousands of graduates working for state and local government.


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Where is Mark Brown when we need him

September 24th, 2021 by Ken

Longtime political activist and former Lacey mayor Mark Brown, recently wrote a missive in which he severely criticized the partisan political divide which separates our community, our state and our country.  He asked that we work to put the various political issues behind us and work for the common good.

Mark made his request on his Facebook page which was picked up and spread over many social media outlets.

Recently I published a picture on my Facebook page which showed a partisan display of support for three of our local state legislators.  It was put in place by South Puget Sound Community College and thanks Sam Hunt, Laurie Dolan and  Jessica Bateman for getting funds for the college’s outreach activities.  All three are Democrats.

I received castigations and citations from those who felt the display was appropriate.  I also received support from those who thought it was an effort on behalf of the college to support Democratic legislative activities.

The conflict seemed to end when Republican State  Representative Andrew Barkis pointed out that there are eight legislators in the geographical area which the college serves and that half of them are Republicans and that all of them voted to support South Puget Sound Community College.

it’s a shame that our well-respected community college has been caught up in partisan politics.

Where is Mark Brown when we need his guidance?

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Solve the Ensign Road problem. Olympia says move it to Lacey

September 21st, 2021 by Ken

The City of Olympia will soon be solving its RV and camper van problem on Ensign Road.  They’re moving the vehicles and the problem to Lacey.

That’s right.  The City of Olympia is currently preparing a site at the corner of Martin Way and Carpenter Road to place as many as 20 RV’s and camper vans that currently are causing problems near St. Peter Hospital.

The City of Lacey has just been notified that Olympia, with support from Thurston County, is going to move their problem to Lacey.

Lacey Councilmember Lenny Greenstein is angry that the City of Lacey wasn’t included in the discussion or in the decision making process.   “Lacey is a member of the housing coalition and we agreed to work on the homeless problem together.  We were never consulted just told that Olympia and the county were going to do it.”

Complicating the problem, the land is under Thurston County’s jurisdiction and actually owned by the City of Olympia.  It is the site of the old Olympia Police firing range.

“There hasn’t been any public process or any opportunity for the adjacent property owners to have any say about the project,” Greenstein said.  “There are several businesses around the site which will be impacted significantly by this action.”

Greenstein said that conversation with the Thurston County Sheriff’s office leads him to believe that the City of Lacey will be the primary policing agent for the property.  “The sheriff’s office said they don’t have the officers to serve that property,” he said.

No time frame has been announced for the move, but Olympia is currently grading and getting the property ready to accept vehicles.  Estimate for the number of vehicles which will be housed at the Carpenter Road site is 15-20.

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Inflation has a personal touch

September 10th, 2021 by Ken

When we talk about inflation we do so in a large context.  Economists tout percentages and throw numbers around.  But, recently, I had a date with inflation on a regular schedule.

For years, I’ve been meeting friends every Thursday at Shari’s.  We like the location, we like the staff and we like the moderate cost of a meal – – until recently.

New menus at a restaurant usually signify increases in costs.  We could usually get a breakfast with coffee for under $20, sometimes far under.  Now the price of that same meal was nearly $25 and with a tip it hit almost $30.  In my poor math oriented mind, that adds up to about a 20 percent increase in cost.

We were going to the Puyallup Fair so we had to fill up our gas tank.  As regular shoppers at Freddies, we often get discounts based on our spending.  Even with a significant discount, to fill up our tank cost about $50.

We had free admission to the Fair so that was a saving, but even with smaller crowds and on a weekday, the cost for the fair, particularly food, was way beyond anything we paid before.

These are just a few of the incidents of how inflation is eating into the savings of Americans.

Once it rears its head, inflation is a pandemic that eats away at the foundation of every citizen on a fixed income.  Our elected officials continue to spend money under the guise of post-pandemic prosperity.  The best way they could do to fight the inflation pandemic is to stop spending.

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It’s time to worry about our boys

September 7th, 2021 by Ken

For decades, I’ve been screaming about our educational system’s lack of concern for its male students.

Now comes a national report that says that men are entering higher education at the lowest levels ever, and that women make up more than 60 percent of all college students.  In some career fields, women make up 70 percent of the student body.   Men who do enter college often drop out at higher rates than women.

Over the last five years there has been a 71 percent decline in men applying for admission to colleges.

The higher educational community seems perplexed about why men are avoiding higher education and women are streaming into the ivy halls.  They throw around ideas like males are too busy playing video games to concentrate on their studies or that they have to earn money to help make ends meet.

The answers are all over the place.   But, I’ve been saying for decades.  Our primary educational system is stacked against boys.  The schools are run by women, for women, with little thought given to the needs of boys. Most of the teachers in primary education are women and the female way of learning is preferred over the needs of males.  It’s been pointed out that in our nation’s colleges, there are 500 Women Centers and not a single one for men.

I also want to point out, since the beginning of the “Me Too” movement, males in college settings have been demonized as predators.

There is a lot of other issues as to why males are dropping out of the country’s educational system.  Lack of fathers in the home.  Women teachers who can’t understand the differences in male and female thinking, and other social impacts.

The first step is for our primary educational system to recognize there’s a problem.  We need to have community conversation on how we can meet the needs of our boys.

When are we going to start?

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Lacey should take caution in expanding its parks board to non-city residents.

September 6th, 2021 by Ken

The recommendation to expand the Lacey Parks, Recreation and Cultural Commission to seven members from its current five members makes sense.

Having served on the Parks Board for the last six years and having recently left the board, I feel that seven members would be representative of the Lacey community.   Mayor Andy Ryder’s suggestion that two members come from the Urban Growth Area deserves consideration and discussion.  Much of what we do as a parks board does eventually impact areas around the city limits.

However I see two problems.  First and foremost comes taxing.  The board does recommend expenditures of money and even endorsements of public approved taxing measures.  It would be difficult for me to accept taxing proposals from non-tax paying representatives.  And secondly, affording non-city residents the same privileges as city residents mutes the idea of having to annex into the city to receive city services.

I recognize that this idea could be short-sighted, but there should be some advantage to being a resident of the City of Lacey.  Being involved in the future of the city should fall to residents.

Having said all of that – I know that in many cases we have extended city services outside the city limits.   Before the Lacey City Council makes the decision to expand the Parks Board to representation outside the city limits, I think it must have a serious discussion about the future of the city in regards to offering city services outside of its boundaries and when annexation should be required.

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Governor mandate hurts medical care in county

September 2nd, 2021 by Ken

Governor Jay Inslee’s order that all state employees and health care workers in the state get  vaccinated against Covid, will have a significant impact on health care in Thurston County.

It’s estimated that as many as 25 percent of all firefighters and EMTs in the county have not gotten their shots.  If Inslee’s mandate holds, Medic One will lose a quarter of its medical staff.

The problem is of such significance that the Thurston County Emergency Management Council has written a letter to the governor requesting that he make some changes in his vaccination mandate.  Council chair Stand Moon and Vice Chair Lenny Greenstein have signed the letter.

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Pacific Avenue fiasco

August 25th, 2021 by Ken

The City of Lacey has been searching for a “downtown” for its rapidly expanding population base.   Included in that search are finding properties that can serve in such a capacity.

But, city mothers and fathers have overlooked one major asset it has.   Pacific Avenue is a four-lane major street which runs through the heart of the city.  Apparently the decision-makers in Lacey have written this street off as a main street for a “downtown.”

Within the next couple of years, three major portions of Pacific Avenue will see new adaptations.  None of them are representative of what a downtown main street should look like.   Currently on Pacific Avenue, construction is underway for a major storage facility.  That takes up a significant portion of what could have been development with a main street feel.  Storage facilities don’t need to be on the main street.

Near the Lacey Boulevard roundabout, next to the animal hospital, construction will soon be underway for a new medical facility.  A nice addition to Lacey, but completely inappropriate for the city’s main street.

And, in the next several years, the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sleater-Kinny will soon have a brand new 7-11.  A store that generates traffic, but could be located off the main intersection of the community. Other buildings will follow at that location including some restaurants.  But, I suspect, we’ll also have business that doesn’t have to be on the city’s main street.

City officials tell me they had no option but to approve these establishments because they meet all of the zoning criteria.

My question to our community leaders is why hasn’t the zoning along Pacific Avenue been changed to some form of major commercial establishments.

If, our city leaders can’t answer that.  Then ask them what they plan to do to make certain the Sears property adds to the value of our community and our search for a downtown.

We don’t need another fiasco like Pacific Avenue redevelopment.

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Conversation – Leadership

August 19th, 2021 by Ken

“What do you think makes a good leader,” she asked?”

“Why do you ask,” he asked?  “Are you planning to lead something”?

“They asked me to head up the school parent association and I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job,” she said.

“Well, it seems to me that the first quality of leadership is confidence,” he replied.  “You don’t seem to have much confidence in your abilities”.

“I’ve never been the leader,” she answered.   “I’ve always been the worker bee.  I like doing things and helping people out, but I’ve never really been the leader.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” he said.  “You’ve always been the leader around here.  You make plans for all the trips, make all the reservations and follow up on all the details.  I think that makes you a leader.”

“NO, it makes me the worker bee,” she said again.  “Someone else decides what needs to be done, and I do it.  “Do you think that just anyone can be a leader?”

“I do,” he replied,  Do you enjoy being involved in our kids school activities?”

“I love it,” she said.  ” I think there’s nothing more important than to see that the kids get a good education and that the schools have the resources to get that done.”

“Well then,” he said.  “You’ve got the first element of a good leader – – Passion. I think a good leader needs to have passion, and you have it.”

“So, should I do it?” she asked.

“I think you should go for it,” he said.  “Once people see how passionate you are about helping the school, the more they’ll see you as a leader.  All you have to do is ask them to help and you’ll get things done.”

“Will you help me?”

“I don’t know if I’ll have the time,” he said.  “You should probably ask somebody else.”

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We’ve welcomed refugees before

August 17th, 2021 by Ken

We’ve seen it all before.  The mess in Afghanistan is almost an echo of South Vietnam.

We’ve also seen the distribution of refugees from Vietnam just like we will soon see the refugees from Afghanistan.  I don’t know if its been made official, but the Puget Sound area will shortly see hundreds of Afghanistan refugees living in our communities.

A flashback to the 1970’s, when Vietnamese refugees were huddled in camps all along Southeast Asia.  The federal  government was looking for place to put them.  Washington State’s Governor Dan Evans opened up the state borders and welcome thousands of Vietnamese to take up home in The Evergreen State.

Some social service agencies helped them find a place to live and provided a source of income.  So did dozens of churches and other private agencies to help them get re-settled.

On my street here in Lacey, we had two Vietnamese families on our block.  The parents, many of whom were highly educated took on menial jobs as laborers, janitors and gardeners to support their families.  Their children were going to have a better life than the parents.  And they did.

Vietnamese children entered our school systems, studied hard, supported by the labor of their parents, and the support of the community.   This second generation had college degrees and and went on to high-paying jobs and were an important part of the American mainstream.   The third generation was completely Americanized.

Now comes the Afghanistan refugees.  Soon to move into our neighborhoods and needing similar support to assimilate into American culture.

I have no doubt they will do so.

America is a country of refugees.   It has been since the beginning and it continues to be so today.

And, American citizens, some removed by only a generation or two from their immigrant grandparents, will assist these new residents in adapting and eventually becoming admired and appreciated citizens.

We’ve seen the immigrant story play out before.  We’ve seen it right here in Thurston County.  And, we’ll soon see it again.  It’s a shame that it had to come like this, but we’ve also seen that story before.

We’ll adapt and accept our new residents.  We’ve done it before.

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The government has no reason to know my race

August 16th, 2021 by Ken

The results of the 2020 Census are out, and significant changes are in the works for political redistricting and the distribution of federal funds.   The results have become more significant in recent years with the increase in federal funding to local jurisdictions – often made on the basis of need and the racial and ethnic make-up of communities.

But, in the last several years, racial ethnicity has become paramount for most political activities, as well as those of major corporations.  Racial identity seems to be the driver for most government activities now.   That has led to some unusual responses to the census form.

Census officials have found that as many as 20 percent of all respondents to the 2020 census forms have left one or more of the questions unanswered.  The ones most often left blank are the ones with the gender and race of the respondents or the people living in the household.

They appear to be baffled as to why, but I’ll give them a helping hand.  When race has become the over-riding driver of federal money, then many people see that as on the wrong track and are unwilling to provide the answer.

Mark me down as one of those.

I did the form on-line. I did not answer the race question on my form.  The first time I left the question blank, the computer refused to accept it because I had not answered all the questions.  The next time I answered the question, I left it blank again. The second time it accepted it.

I have no trouble providing information to the government, when I think its in the national interest.  I didn’t think my racial profile was in the national interest.   Not, when race has become the over-riding focus of most government actions.

And, from the national lack of response, I suspect there are many others who feel just as I do.

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Olympia council made a decision on Capitol Lake. Is it the right one?

August 13th, 2021 by Ken

The Olympia City Council should be commended for its decision on the future of Capitol Lake.

Commended, not for the decision, but for making a decision.  The issue of Capitol Lake has been in a holding pattern for nearly two decades.  All of the government agencies, from the state, cities, port and other governmental districts have refrained from making a decision.  Consequently the problem has grown worse and more expensive.

One of the reasons no one wanted to make a decision is because there is no right decision and no easy decision.  Government always puts off making a decision when there isn’t a preponderance of agreement.  In the case of what to do with Capitol Lake – every decision is a bad decision except for not making a decision.

The Olympia council chose to let Capitol Lake revert to an estuary and become a tide flat.  That was probably the correct decision 70 years ago before the Fifth Avenue dam was constructed (which everyone now agrees was a bad decision.)   But, is it the correct decision now, after several decades of commercial development north of the dam.

When that dam is removed, all of the dirt and silt collected in Capitol Lake will flow into Budd Inlet.  That will severely impact the Olympia Yacht Club, Percival Landing, and particularly the Port of Olympia.   As the silt pours out of the lake it will collect in the harbor.  Eventually, the port will not be able to function as a marine terminal, without a great deal of dredging.  I suspect that getting federal permits to dredge will be extremely difficult.

I don’t have an answer.   I’m just glad that a government agency has made a decision – even if it may be wrong.

We’ll have to see now what the Port of Olympia recommends.  Two port seats are up for election this year.  I think its very important to know where the candidates stand on this important issue.  Ask them the question.


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Conversation – Humor

August 10th, 2021 by Ken

“A dog walks into a bar. . . ”

“What are you doing,” she asked.

“Telling a joke,” he answered.

“What makes you think I want to hear a joke.  I don’t feel very funny right now.”

“Maybe a good joke will make you feel better,” he said.

“Why would I want to tell you a joke when you’re not really open to hearing a joke?” he asked.  “I think you have to want to hear a joke to really appreciate it.”

“OK, I’ll get a better attitude,” she said.  “Go ahead and tell your joke.”

“A dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender, Do you have any jobs?”  The bartender said, “Why don’t you try the circus.”  The dog says, “How many bartender jobs do they have in the circus.”

“I don’t get it,” she said.  “Why would a dog ask a bartender for a job?”

“Alright, I’m going to change the subject,” he said.  “When I die, I want my headstone to say ‘If life is a joke – – then death is it’s punch line.”

“You didn’t tell me you were sick,” she said.

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Lacey Council ducks citizen input

August 6th, 2021 by Ken

The Lacey City Council has decided not to hold any in-person public meetings for the foreseeable future, citing recent spikes in Covid infections.

I think the council leaders have become comfortable with meeting on-line without the bother of having irate  citizens protesting or criticizing their actions.  They also seem to like meeting at 4 p.m. when the public is usually at work or picking up children from school or day-care.

At least one member of the Lacey City Council likes to hold the meetings while he is on his boat enjoying the nice summer weather.

We have all had to alter our schedules because of Covid, and some of us have become comfortable with working from home and not having to deal with co-workers or bosses looking over our shoulder.  But, the Lacey City Council members are elected officials who serve the citizens of Lacey.

They should endeavor to get the council meetings back on track – in-person and back to a meeting time more conducive for public gathering.  And, they should do it soon.

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Expand port and county commissions to five members.

July 22nd, 2021 by Ken

There’s a move underway to expand the Thurston County Commission and the Port of Olympia Commission from the respective three member to five members.   The effort is being led by Olympia Port Commissioner Joe Downing who has advanced the idea for the port commission and is promoting the idea for the county commission.

Downing has talked with the county commissioners and has met with them in a public meeting.  The idea is gaining support from both the county and the port.

In my recent interview with Downing on KGY we talked about the reason for the move.  I offered my support for the proposal.

Currently, three-member commissions like the county commission and the port commission are severely impacted by the state’s Open Meetings Act which forbids conversation between elected officials when they constitute a majority.   Therefore, currently with a three-member commission, two can’t talk with each other about issues to come before them without violating the law.

This makes the port’s executive director and the county’s executive significantly powerful with the control of information between the elected officials.

This alone should be reason enough to increase the members.  But, Thurston County now has a population of around 300,000 residents.  We are not longer a “rural” county and a three-member commission is hard put to represent all of their constituents.

Moving to a five-member Port Commission and a five-member County Commission makes sense from many points.

Those opposed talk about the cost of increasing elected officials and their staff.   Downing estimated the cost for the port would be about $80,000 per year.  I roughly estimate the cost for the county commission at $500,000.

That’s a small price to pay to make our elected officials more responsive to their constituents and to improve communications between them and those who they represent.

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Proud to have served Lacey – but

July 5th, 2021 by Ken

Recently I was walking my dogs through one of the many fine parks in the City of Lacey.  I thought about how nice the park was, how many times it’s used every day, and why parks are important to a community.  I have been on the Lacey Parks, Recreational and Cultural Board (Parks Board) for six years.  My term is up and the position will soon be open for new blood.

I’m proud of our parks system, I’m proud of the parks staff which operated the parks and I’m excited and happy for the future of our parks particularly when I see the care that people have for the parks.  The City of Lacey has done a great job of providing a first-rate parks and recreational system for the community and our city council should be commended for supporting our parks, recreational and cultural needs.

However, while I was walking through the parks I noticed several signs promoting the Lacey Library and some of the projects they have selected for the coming year.  I know we have a city library board, but I’m not certain to what extent they can influence what kinds of service the library provides.   You see, the library is part of the Timberland Library System.  It operates most of the libraries in a five-county area.  All the city does is provide a building.  The Timberland Library System takes care of hiring and firing the employees.  it determines what books and digital project will be carried.  It controls the programs offered and it sets the hours of operation.  As far as I can tell, operation of the Lacey(Timberland) Library is not under the control of the City of Lacey.

That got me to thinking about other city services outside the control of the city.  Take the Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center.  The city built the building, but all services are provided by a third party over which the city has no control

Fire services are provided by Lacey Fire District Three.  The city has no control over its services.   Medic One is also under control by a regional organization.  Garbage services are provided on a contract with a third party.  Even the costs of sewer services is only partly under the control of the city.

And from experience we can see that the City of Lacey has little or no control over the homeless population now finding a place within the confines of the city.

This is not a new problem.  Many cities and communities contract for services with regional boards and commissions.  In some ways, its a solution that saves money for the city.  But, it also takes away the power of the elected officials of the city to make decisions which impact the quality of life.

Having said all that, I am proud to live in the City of Lacey.  I have devoted years of effort in many facets to make this a community I can be proud of.  And, I am.  But, to make significant changes for the better, we need to make certain that our elected officials review all of the city’s contracts with all agencies and businesses to ascertain if there may not be a better solution which allows them to have some say.  Regional government is fine.  But it isn’t local and it isn’t under the control of your local elected officials.


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Port Commissioner candidates are a varied group with similar ideas

June 24th, 2021 by Ken

I’ve personally interviewed the three candidates running for Position 3 for Port of Olympia Commissioner – – Joel Hansen, Melissa Denton and Amy Evans.   I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with all of them.  All three are viable candidates and each could make a contribution to future operations of the county-wide organization.

All want to keep the Marine Terminal open, but support for that varies.  None of the three had any answer to the future of Capitol Lake, although the future of the lake is the future of the Port.  None sees new commuter service from the Olympia airport in the near term.

They all agreed that the port is charged with supporting economic development and could point to something the port has done in that general area.

What surprised me is that none of the three advanced any ideas of how the port could be a major player in the future. (If they did I missed it – probably because I was talking instead of listening.)

The future of the Port of Olympia could very well depend on which of the three is elected by the voters.  There’s a split on the commission between those who see the environment as the primary focus of the port and those who want to continue economic development and just what constitutes economic development.

Click on the Coffee With Ken button above and listen to the interviews.  Also, read their campaign literature, particularly that which lists their endorsements.  That should give you a better idea of whose ideas  they see as the future of the port.  Better yet –  Google – Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, click on contributions  and see for yourself who has what support.

This race is only on the August Primary ballot in Commission District 3 which is primarily West Olympia and south.  The top two will face off again in the General Election when we all get to cast our vote.



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What’s in a name?

June 21st, 2021 by Ken

There’s all kind of debate over names.  To most people, with the exception of their family, names are just an identifying symbol so we know who we are addressing.

But, for a new community names are important.  A community must have a reason for existence.  Names help give it a sense of identity.   For a city the size of Lacey and still one of the newest cities in the entire state, an identity is an important and unifying symbol.

The city’s name alone – Lacey – is a unique name for a city.   There are no other cities in the state, and as far as I can tell, in the country, named Lacey.  One of the problems with the name is that it doesn’t seem powerful.  It isn’t a name as strong as Olympia.  It doesn’t have the historical connotation as Tumwater or other similar cities  So a city like Lacey needs to find other ways of creating a sense of identity and a source of purpose.

One way to do that is through names.  That’s why what’s in a name is significant. to building a city’s history and presenting opportunities for feelings of community.

The City of Lacey is only 53 years old, but the community of Lacey goes back to the beginnings of European settlement in the Oregon country.

Lacey has several names associated with pioneers.  Chambers Prairie, Hicks Lake, Sleater-Kinney and Ruddell Road are just a few.  Even the name Lacey is associated with a lawyer and real-estate promoter.  (Historians disagree about that, but I like the idea and it has some merit.)

Lacey mothers and fathers have made certain that their elected officials are properly and appropriately recognized for their contributions.  We have several parks named after them.  Homann Park is named after the city’s first mayor Al Homann and his wife Anna.  Huntamer Park is named after Tom Huntamer, Lacey’s second mayor.  Bush Park is named after Bill Bush, to date, the city’s longest serving councilmember and mayor.  The city’s first woman mayor, Karen Fraser was recently recognized by renaming the Woodland Trail as the Karen Fraser Trail. And, the Lacey Senior Center was named after Virgil Clarkson, first black mayor and longtime councilmember.

Even non-elected officials have been recognized.  Greg Cuoio, who served as Lacey’s city manager for 20 years has been honored by having a park named after him.

While the Lacey School District (OK North Thurston)  has very few of its schools named after individuals because of an adopted policy decades ago, it has managed to recognize some of its superintendents.  There’s the John Gott administrative center, the Jim Koval performing arts center and the Raj Manhas activities center.

Naming of these facilities are an important part of connecting the community to the past.

Names are important and the Lacey community is better off for it.


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10 years ago in Lacey

June 17th, 2021 by Ken

Direct from the pages of “Ken’s Corner & The Real News from 10 years ago.)

Supporters of a Home Rule Charter for Thurston County government contend that the current county government structure is not representative of the entire county particularly the unincorporated areas.  (All three county commissioners live in the urban area.)  The current county government lacks clarity of action and does not represent the views a those who live in the rural areas.

A Home Rule Charter would have to be placed on the ballot by the county commissioners and approved by the voters.  If a Home Rule Charter was approved, then a freeholders election would be held.  Those elected representative would then draft a new charter which would have to be approved by the voters.

There have been three previous efforts to adopt a Home Rule Charter since 1979, all of which have failed.

How does this impact us today

Again the mummer is starting that the current make-up of county government is ineffective.  While there is no organized effort to change county government, its obvious that three county commissioners cannot adequately do the job necessary for a county of nearly 300,000 residents.

The commissioners recognize that they need to expand the commission, but so far no one has stepped forward to lead the effort.  The current process is cumbersome and bureaucratic.  Once the county has more than 300,000 resident the process is somewhat easier.

All we need to do, to move forward, is to generate enough population to exceed the 300,000 mark – – and find someone who is willing to lead the effort.

As far as I’m concerned, we should move forward as soon as we can.

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