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.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Expand port and county commissions to five members.

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.

 

Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Proud to have served Lacey – but

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.

 

 

Posted in Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Port Commissioner candidates are a varied group with similar ideas

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.

 

Posted in History, Local Politics having Comments Off on What’s in a name?

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.

Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on 10 years ago in Lacey

I’ll miss Stardust

June 16th, 2021 by Ken

It’s not too late to change your holiday plans.  If you’re like me and my family, part of the Christmas holiday season included a trip to Harlequin to enjoy Stardust – the theater’s annual musical tribute to life.  This family entertainment was a part of thousands of South Sound residents traditions.

Harlequin produced no show last year because of the pandemic.  So, we all waited to see if they would bring Stardust back this year.   The answer is No.

In its place the new managers of Harlequin are presenting A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

There’s nothing wrong with a production of A Christmas Carol.  Many local high school theater programs have produced the play and many of us, including me, enjoy the production.  But, I and my family will miss, terribly, our annual musical romp through the years.  It was always entertaining and set the holiday season for many of us.

I know the new managers didn’t want to copy the Stardust production since it was the prevue of the previous managers.  But, I had hoped, in some small way, that a musical of some kind would keep the holiday tradition going.  I’m disappointed.

I will go see this current production of A Christmas Carol and I will enjoy it.  But I’ll miss the holiday tradition my family undertook for years.Stardust

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on I’ll miss Stardust

Seasons of the Fields

June 12th, 2021 by Ken

It’s strawberry season in the great Pacific Northwest.  I’m not talking about those large tasteless California strawberries which have been in local supermarkets for weeks, I’m talking about the small, red sweet berries that only grow in the Northwest.

Strawberry season to me signals the real beginning of summer like nothing else.  When I was a kid, strawberry picking was what you did immediately upon the close of school.  So when the strawberries came ripe it was the beginning of summer.

You can read the whole flow of summer by what fruits and vegetables are on the market.

Right now it’s strawberries, but cherries have been out for a week or two and the wild mountain huckleberries are also ripe and ready for picking.

Soon the raspberries will be turning red followed in a week or two by the blackberries; the Rocky Mountain Blackberries, those small berries which grow on the vines lying close to the ground.  Of course the large Himalayans will be ready shortly as well, but they are too seedy and too difficult to prepare..

Most of the beans and peas and common variety backyard vegetable garden crops will be ready about mid-August and so will some of the local apples.  The Yellow Transparent will be ready before then, but followed soon by the Jonathon’s and the Winesaps; all of those apples which grow on the wet side of the mountains.

By September, the Eastern Washington apples will be offered in our local markets and so will the large ears of corn, super sweet and all grown right here in Thurston County.

Local cucumbers for making pickles, cabbage for making sauerkraut and squashes and gourds of all kinds come ready by September.

By the time the local corn hits the market though, summer will be over.  The fruits and vegetables which marked the flow of the summer days will have come and gone.  Their beginnings marked with anticipation, their endings by sorrow that the season is over.

They don’t stay around very long.  Strawberry season will be over in two to three weeks.  If you haven’t got your local berries by then, it’s too late.  The same is true of the raspberries, two to three weeks and that’s it.  Then they’re gone.

That’s just like all good things.  They don’t stick around very long.  But that’s the beauty of local fruits and vegetables.  We know that they’ll be back again next season, and it’s that anticipation which makes them worthwhile.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Seasons of the Fields

Our inside guy

June 8th, 2021 by Ken

How do you turn a 90-day internship into a 31-year career?  A better question is why would you want to work at the same job for 31 years, particularly a government job?

If you’re Steve Kirkman the answer is simple.  “If you want to make a positive impact on your community, the best way to do it is to work in local government.”

Steve, a Timberline High School graduate had worked in several jobs, before working for the City of Lacey.  He worked for several years at the Red Bull Restaurant even while attending The Evergreen State College.  One of his programs was Management in the Public Interest which encouraged its students to  take an internship with a public agency.  Steve chose the City of Lacey his hometown.

While working for that first 90 days, he wrote and was awarded a grant to begin curbside recycling in the city.  Recognizing talent, the city offered him a job – and the rest is history – actually, I’m going to tell that history because its not well-known outside city circles.

Steve drove by Lake Lois every day on his way to work.  When he heard that a major housing development was planned around the lake, he became concerned.  At that time, the setback from the lake was only 25 feet.  He felt the entire lake would be impacted by the development.  While looking over possible grants, he came across one that was designed to protect the Gooeyduck clam beds on Puget Sound.   He reasoned that Woodland Creek ran through Lake Lois and into the bay.  Protection of the lake might qualify.  He wrote the grant and was able to help buy the property which later formed Lake Lois Park.    “It was the only grant awarded that wasn’t directly on the beach,” he said.

Over the years, he has been the writer of several grants with a total of more than $10 million.  These grants helped build the Lacey Child Care Center and the Virgil Clarkson Senior Center among others.

But, Steve’s talent isn’t just in writing grants.  In the early 90’s, when the need for computer literacy became important, on his own time and money, he trained himself in computer coding and launched the city’s first website. He produced LaceyLive, the city’s cable show which aired on TCTV.  He coordinated the city’s tree giveaway program which continues every Arbor Day.

Most recently, he has been involved in the Lacey Veteran’s Services Hub.

While working at city hall, Steve noticed that the city had rented some space to a veteran’s service group.  As more and more military members settled in Lacey, he saw the need was going to grow.  Searching around, he found a vacant building in the old Rowe Six, which had become the Lacey branch of South Sound Community College.  he convinced the city to lease the building and coordinate all veteran services.

Most recently he has overseen the renovation and remodeling of the facility to double its space from 4000 to 8000 sq. feet.  “We have 32,000 veterans in Thurston County and many of them aren’t aware of all the benefits they have coming,” Steve said.  “We’ve made it easier for them to come to one place and access the information they need.”

When you work for local government you have a direct impact on your community almost on a daily basis, he said.  “I can’t think of a better job'”

Steve will be retiring from city employment in a few weeks.  But, that doesn’t mean he’ll give up his service to the Lacey community.  When he was a student at Timberline, he was the Lion’s Club exchange student to Japan.  “I may join a service club,” he said.  “I never miss an opportunity to help my community.”

 

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Our inside guy

Courthouse move faces financial questions

June 5th, 2021 by Ken

The consideration of the Thurston County Commissioners to move the administrative offices of county government to new digs on Pacific Avenue and renovate the old courthouse on the hill into a new law and justice center got my blood flowing.  I was and still am hopeful it will come to be.

But, several things are standing in the way of making the move happen.  The first and major is the cost.

The county doesn’t have the money necessary to make the move.  And, without the support of the taxpayers for a bond issue, the county commissioners won’t be able to accomplish what they need to do to make it happen.

Lets look at some costs and figures.  Before we do that – bear in mind that these are tentative and may or may not be completely accurate.

The 3000 Pacific Avenue building, called Atrium is owned by a Seattle company which owns several pieces of property around the state.  The company is currently making some improvements to the property.  I don’t know if those costs are going to be passed on to any renter – in this case the county.

Initial agreement calls for Thurston County (that’s us, the taxpayers) to make $7 million in tenant improvements.  The annual rental costs would be $2.7 million per year for seven years.  Many of our elected county officials have taken a tour of the building and their wants and desires are being addressed.  That may cost more money.  In addition, the property doesn’t have enough parking stalls.  Leasing adjacent property for parking will be another cost.

County commissioners charge each county office rent.  Currently the auditor, the assessor, the treasurer and other county offices are paying $6-$8 per sq. foot of space.  If they move to the new facility that cost could go up to as high as $27 per sq. foot.  That will mean a significant increase in each office budgets.

Then, what are the costs to renovate the abandoned courthouse into a new law and justice center – –   astronomical  probably?

The county has received some $50 million in federal funds for Covid relief.   The commissioners are considering using some of that money to assist with the move.  I suspect that the feds didn’t have that kind of use in mind when they gave taxpayer money to local governments.

Having said all that – I still favor moving county offices to the former new car lot.  It not only takes pressure off of the current courthouse property and avoids taxpayer supported redevelopment of downtown Olympia, but it moves the courthouse and the people’s  business closer to the center of the population base of Thurston County.

However, without leveling with the taxpayers about the whole cost, it will be a hard sell.   Misusing the Covid money will also be a mistake.  The commissioners need to make the case for the move and go to the voters for financial approval.

And, while they’re at it.  Get voter approval to increase the number of commissioners from three to five.  In this rapidly urbanizing county it’s needed.

 

Posted in Business, Government, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Courthouse move faces financial questions

We all play our part

May 23rd, 2021 by Ken

“All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players.  They have their entrances and their exits, and each one in his time plays many parts.” (Revised)

That quote from Shakespeare sums up my thinking as I enter my eighth decade of life.

I’m not a deep thinker.  People far wiser than I have pondered the meaning of life and each one comes out with the same finding.  We all die.  Or, to keep with the stage theme, the curtain always comes down for the final time.

We play our roles – – son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father.  We are at different stages, the boss, the worker, the smart one, the dumb one.  We enter the scene, sometime with a bang and we leave the scene, sometimes with a whimper.  We enter people lives and we leave peoples lives.  Sometimes we’re the star, sometimes we’re a bit player.

When the final curtain nears and we take our curtain calls – what have we accomplished?

If we’re like some actors and actresses we leave a legacy of professionalism.  We leave a memory that brings enjoyment when others think of us.  Or, we’ve expanded the reach of what a person can accomplish.

But, most of us will be forgotten when all those who knew us also leave the stage.

Sticking with the acting theme – this quote from Robert Penn Warren, author of “All the King’s Men” sums up my view of  my life.

“Make’em cry, make’em laugh or make them think you’re God Almighty.  Or, make’em mad, even mad at you.  Just stir’em up.  It doesn’t matter how or why, and they’ll love you and come back for more.”

Posted in History, The Real News having Comments Off on We all play our part

What are they marching for?

May 20th, 2021 by Ken

Every Memorial Day he pitches his chair by the street.  And watch as the parade makes its way down the road and the young men march to the beat.

It reminds him of the days when he too marched to the beat and held the battle flags high.  The sounds of the music and the beat of the drums brings memories he keeps deep inside.

The sights and the sounds of a forgotten war, he can never forget for long.  But with his family beside him and his thoughts buried deep, he finds comfort in what he has made.

As the music fades and the parade moves on, the children ask questions galore.  He can answer them all with an exception or two, when they ask “What are they marching for,”

And the old man searches for an answer to that as he tries to explain the war.  But the answers he finds, he hides deep inside, and replies “It doesn’t make sense anymore.”

(Special thanks to Gary, Paul and all the Vietnam Vets)

Posted in History, The Real News having Comments Off on What are they marching for?

Evergreen is ungovernable

May 6th, 2021 by Ken

As an alum of Evergreen, I’m embarrassed and ashamed, that the college is in such poor condition, that all three candidates for president of the college withdrew from consideration.

It isn’t surprising that the college is unable to find a qualified candidate who is willing to put up with the humiliation of the selection process or wants to try to govern a college with a reputation as an outlier in the higher education field.  The Evergreen State College is a problem child that needs a firm hand from a president with the ability to suffer the slings and arrows of self-serving faculty and their minions.

While the three candidates arrived at their decision to withdraw separately and without the knowledge of the other candidates, they all had one conclusion by doing so – – Evergreen in ungovernable.

The college’s reputation is shot.  No one wants to go down with a sinking ship while the faculty and those carrying pitchforks and torches dance around the campfire.

Evergreen needs to take a different path if it is to survive.  The college is like an alcoholic that refuses to believe that it has a problem.  Until it faces the fact that its hit bottom, it can’t begin to climb out.

The Board of Trustees does not need to begin the search again.  It should admit that the college is broken and it can’t be repaired.  They need to begin a new search.

They need to join Washington State University and become a branch campus.  That’s the only solution.  It’s in the best interests of both colleges.

 

Posted in Business, Government, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Evergreen is ungovernable

My dog can talk – you have to believe me

May 4th, 2021 by Ken

I was sleeping in my chair late one night, absentmindedly stroking my dog curled up in my lap.

“Stop it.”

Where’d that voice come from?  What?

“Stop it.  That’s so annoying.”

I looked down at my dog.   “You can talk?”

“Of course I can.  All dogs can talk.”

“Why haven’t you said anything before?”

“That’s just so annoying stroking me in the same place for hours.”

“Wait until I tell Jan you can talk.  She’ll never believe it.”

“You’re right – because I’ll never talk again.”

As soon as I could, I told Jan that Moxie could talk.  She didn’t believe me.  She just thought that I was making it up, that maybe I had been dreaming.  I finally confessed that I just made it all up, so she wouldn’t think I was losing my mind.

But, I know he can talk and he knows I know he can talk.  I often ask him to talk – beg him to talk again.  And all he does is look at me with that curious looks dogs have, and I can tell he feels sorry for letting me know dogs can talk.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on My dog can talk – you have to believe me

How to tell a lie

May 1st, 2021 by Ken

“How could you believe me when I said “I love you” when you know I’ve been a liar all my life.”

Those words from an old country song sum up pretty nicely one of the problems with telling a lie.    If you have a reputation of telling a lie, people aren’t going to believe it.

But, if you’re not a well-known liar, then here are some advice on “How to Tell a Lie.”

First – Is it believable?  Is the lie something that you could do or know?  You can’t say you were in Vietnam if you’ve never been in the service.   You can’t say you tight-roped walked Niagara Falls if you weigh 300 pounds.  For a lie to be believable it has to be something that can be done or you have to have the knowledge to know.

Second – Does it have an element of truth?  All lies are better if they have some connection to some truth.  If you say you saw Mary in the park yesterday – the lie is better if you know that Mary often goes to the park – or even that the park exists.  An element of truth acts as an anchor to a lie and helps keep it believable.

Third – Can you remember it? – Keep your lie simple and as generic as possible.  If you say you saw Mary drive up to the park in her car – don’t give the color or the brand name of the car.  Simplicity in a lie is a life-saver.  Complexity will kill you when two years later in divorce court, you can’t remember what you said.

We all tell lies.  Sometimes to make a person feel good.  Sometimes to make ourselves feel better than we are, and sometimes because a lie is easier than telling the truth.  So follow the above rules and your lies will lie easier on the soul.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on How to tell a lie

It’s tough to be a Democrat these days

April 29th, 2021 by Ken

I’m a Democrat.  I’m a registered Democrat and voted in the last Democratic Presidential Primary.

I’ve been a Democrat since I cast my first vote for president for Lyndon Johnson in 1964,

But, it’s tough to be a Democrat these days.

Time was when Democrats represented the working stiffs.  The loggers who risked their lives every day cutting the timber which built this state.  The longshoreman loading and unloading the ships which transported this natural resource to every port on the Pacific.  The party represented the farmers who worked from dawn to dusk growing the crops which fed and helped house us.   The small business owner who often worked 20 hour days to compete with the multinational corporations which wanted only to force him out of business.

The Democratic party represented all those hard-working stiffs who used their sweat to make a living.

But, who represents them now?

Apparently it’s not the Democratic party.

It’s become the party of government which uses the taxes the working stiffs pay.   You can’t represent labor and government at the same time.

That’s why its hard to be a Democrat these days.

The Democratic party has shunted aside the laboring stiffs and embraced the government office workers which demand more money every year paid for by those who labor long and hard to pay their taxes.

It’s a situation we Democrats are losing.

Many of them have transferred their allegiance to the Republicans.  And, that’s probably timely, given that billionaire tech company owners have rushed to finance the Democrats and their social equity agenda.

It’s a tipsy, topsy world and everything has flipped.

But, who’s speaking for the poor working stiff?  Not the Republicans and apparently, not the Democrats.

It’s tough to be a Democrat these days.

Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on It’s tough to be a Democrat these days

Billy Frank Jr to replace Whitman statue in Washington DC

April 26th, 2021 by Ken

Billy Frank Jr. the late activist for native American rights has received many honors since he passed away, including naming the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge after him.  But, now he has been awarded with another significant honor.  A statue of him will soon be heading to Washington DC to join other statues of outstanding Americans in the National Statuary Hall in the nation’s capitol.

Each state has the ability to name two persons of prominence to represent their state in the hall.  Frank will join Mother Joseph who was the second person of note honored by Washington State.

But, for one statue to join means that one statue must leave.  Leaving will be Marcus Whitman, the missionary who along with his wife Narcissa administered God and medicine to the Cayuse Indians in Eastern Washington.  The City of Whitman and Whitman college are named in his honor.

Cynics of the move would say this is just another example of replacing White males with someone else.  Supporters of enshrining Billy Frank Jr. in a place in Washington DC says it is perfectly appropriate given his struggles to obtain fishing rights for tribal members as well as for his service in the Korean War.  Supporters also point out that Frank’s efforts in modern times are just as significant as Whitman’s in the 1840’s.

The Whitmans and 11 others were murdered by the Cayuse when they were blamed for a case of measles which swept through the tribe and killed many tribal members.

Some say its interesting that the statue of a white man who was killed by native Americans is being replaced by another native American.

I think it’s perfectly appropriate to replace statues when the time has come that someone else of stature comes along.  I just hope this isn’t another case of trying to replace history.

Posted in Government, History, The Real News having Comments Off on Billy Frank Jr to replace Whitman statue in Washington DC

Good time to run for public office

April 23rd, 2021 by Ken

If you’ve every wanted to run for public office, there isn’t a better time than now.  In Thurston County there are 72 public offices up for election this year ranging from port commission to  cemetery commission and every thing in-between.

Lacey has four council seats on the ballot this year.  Olympia, Tumwater and Yelm all have five seats up.  Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater have school board seats and the list goes on and on.

In Washington state, Odd number calendar years are for local and municipal elections.  I believe that all of them are non-partisan.

Most of the positions pay nothing but some of the city council and port seats pay a stipend.  For many there is no filing fee.  If there is a filing fee it is one percent of the annual remuneration usually around $100 to $200. An exception is municipal court judge in Olympia which pays more than $180,000 and the filing fee is $1800. If you’re going to run for that seat it helps to be an attorney.

In some school board elections, you have to live in a particular school area to run for the seat.

Many of our current elected officials holding higher elective office got their start in local elections.  The one that comes most readily to mind is State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who started on on the North Thurston School Board and went on to be elected to the state legislature and then on to congress.

Filing period for all 72 seats up this year begins on May 3 with on-line and mail-in application.  In person registration is at the Thurston County Auditors office from May 17 to 21,

If you need help, go to Thurstonvotes.org.  The auditor’s office is very helpful if you need more help.

Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Good time to run for public office

I was there

April 20th, 2021 by Ken

It’s rare when one person has personal involvement in an historical event.  It’s even rarer when that same person has been involved in three historical events, which continue to interest historians today.  Well, that person was me.  And while I had no significant impact on any of the outcome of those events I was there.

The events I’m speaking of were the Civil Rights struggle, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  For 15 months in 1962 and 1963 I was involved in all three of those events.

It was September 1962.  I was serving with the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  When James Meredith tried to enroll as the first black student at the University of Mississippi, my unit was called up to assist Federal Marshalls in their efforts.  We caravanned from Kentucky in Deuce and a Halves being harassed by cars and trucks full of young white men, not much older than us, who weaved in and out of the caravan trying to cause accidents.  In one case, a fire bomb was thrown into one of the trucks.

We drove through Oxford and out the other side.  My unit set up a camp just outside of town.  Then, all of the black soldiers were separated out from the white troops.  The white soldiers were sent out to perform various guard and escort duties, while the black troops stayed behind to keep the camp in order.  We stayed about a week, when most of us left.

A short couple of weeks passed, and in October 1962 we were again called up during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  We took a troop train from  Kentucky to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida where we waited to make a jump into Cuba.  At one point, we were on the runway, planes were starting their engines, when we were called back.

As a young man, I really wanted to jump into Cuba and “kill me some Cubans” as a thoughtless young man might utter.  I was disappointed that President Kennedy had called off the invasion.  But, this event led to my involvement in the assassination.

In December 1962, I re-enlisted and was stationed at Fort Lewis just a few short miles from my home in Tumwater.  My birthday is on November 22 and in November 1963, I had asked for and received a three-day leave.  On the 21st, I sat around the barracks waiting until the clock struck midnight so I could go on leave.  During a conversation with some of the guys, the subject of Cuba came up.  Someone said something about how well the president had handled the whole event.  I spouted out, still remembering my disappointment in not taking part in the invasion and said, “That sonofabitch ought to be shot.”

That night I left for Tumwater.  The next day, like many others, my family and I were gathered around our television set watching the events of the assassination unfold, where my sister said.  There’s someone at the door and they want to talk with you.  I came to the door and saw two men in black suits.  One of them said to me, “We heard you made a threat on the president’s life and we just wanted to confirm where you are.”   I answered that I’d been here all night.  They thanked me and left.   I found out later than nearly 10,000 people were investigated in the government’s effort to determine what had happened.

That is my involvements in a 15 month period with those historical events.  This is the first time I’ve put it all down.

Posted in History having Comments Off on I was there

Baby Boomers are the problem for all the worlds ills

April 16th, 2021 by Ken

Baby Boomers are the newest villains in the search for villains.  Millennials and Gen-X’ers are looking for a someone to blame and they’ve found it.  The generation before them are the bad guys.

Under the thinking of these two groups (educated in a system which threw out “old” thinking and substituted “reality” for it) Baby Boomers have left the world a mess.  Global warming (brought on by the Boomers use of pollutants), over-population (do they include themselves) racial hatred and bigotry (which never existed before the Boomers), homelessness (brought on by Boomers buying up all the available housing when it was still cheap) police brutality (never had that before) a Pandemic (never had those before) and every other sin it is possible to imagine (“Imagine there’s no heaven.”)

They’ve forgotten (or were never taught by our current educational system)  that the Boomers and their preceding Greatest Generation created the best living conditions ever for the most people ever.  They spread Democracy to 50 percent of the world and eliminated tyrants, dictators, kings and ruling families.

They eliminated from the earth the scourges of Polio and Smallpox.  They found treatment for childhood diseases, developed medicine which makes lifespan longer and created artificial limbs, heart transplants and other organs which improve the quality of life for human beings all over the world.  (Perhaps many of the Boomers and Gen-eX’ers are alive today because of the research funded by the Boomers.

And, I have a solution to the housing crisis for the Millennials  and the Gen-X’ers.  There is currently the need for four million more single family homes.  Most of these are currently owned by senior Boomers.  My advice – just wait a few more years until the Boomers die off, and those will become available.

See how simple life is when you understand the “real” big picture.

Posted in History, The Real News having Comments Off on Baby Boomers are the problem for all the worlds ills

How the feds want to control elections

April 8th, 2021 by Ken

HR1, the bill making its way through Congress, has been called a federal takeover of local elections.  The bill passed the House on an almost party-line vote of Democrats and now sits in the Senate awaiting approval from that Democratically control body.

The moaning, groaning and crying about the impact the bill will have on state and local elections made it necessary for me to take a long hard look at just what the bill contains.   I did not read the entire bill – – it’s 800 pages of government speak – – but I did read a fairly complete synopsis of it.

It basically consists of two parts – election reform – and Democratic efforts to become the dominate party in American politics.

Election reform changes include:  Same day registration (We already have that here in Washington State.)   Allows changing of party affiliation on election day.   (We have no party affiliation in Washington State.)  Early voting for two weeks prior to an election.  (We have all vote-by-mail and get our ballots at least 18 days prior.)  Registering to vote at state agencies and state universities.  (I’ve been told we do that here and that all state agencies have voter registration forms.)

Make election day a Federal Holiday.  (Because election day is on a Tuesday, government employees will also endeavor to take Monday off and make it a four-day weekend.)  Creates a Federal Assistance Commission.    Allows 16-17 year-olds to pre-register.  (We already do that here.)  Limits state ability to purge voting rolls.  (Here all registrations are kept.  Someone who fails to vote in two federal elections can be purged, but is often kept on a standby status.)  Restores voting rights to Felons.  (Recently passed legislation here allows voting for anyone who is not on a parole status.)  Requires a paper trail for all computer voting.  (Most states have abandoned computer only voting.)

Now for the efforts to make the Democratic Party the dominate party (and in response to President Trump.)

HR1 supports the overturn of the Citizen United ruling by the Supreme Court which recognized Corporations as citizens with the same rights.  Requires all candidates for president and vice president of the United States to release 10 years of Federal Income Tax forms.  Supports making Washington DC a state. Requires an impartial commission for redistricting.  (Here we have a redistricting committee composed of two Republicans and Two Democrats, one from each House.  They appoint a fifth member.   This is still a political committee although slightly better than asking the full legislature to undertake the effort.)

As far as I can tell, that’s what the bill contains.  I may have missed something but 800 pages is a daunting task and I wasn’t about to read the full bill.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on How the feds want to control elections