We’re all connected by our routines

January 17th, 2022 by Ken

Every day for years I would see him walk by.  A large fellow, stooped with age, bronze skin and blond hair.  It was obvious from his appearance that he had been an athlete, whose time had passed.  But, every day he would walk by wearing shorts and a T Shirt.  No matter what the weather, he would do his morning walk.  When it was cold, he might wear a light jacket.

I never stopped him, never talked to him, but he became part of my life.  One day he disappeared.  For two weeks we didn’t see him.  Then – he was back.   I wondered if maybe he had been sick.  Maybe he had taken a vacation.  I didn’t know, but it was comforting to know that he was back. His walk was part of my life.

There’s a woman with a German accent who walked her dog every day.  She’s friendly, likes to stop and talk with people working in their yards.  I’ve talked with her about the dog and quietly admired how she used it as a tool to talk with people.  One day she had a different dog.  Her other one had died.  I expressed my sadness about the loss of her dog and we carried on a conversation.  Did I say she liked to talk?

It got to the point that when I saw her coming down the street, I would go into the house to avoid the conversation.  I felt bad, but I had things to do – – important things.

Every morning I take my walk, within a minute or two of 7 am.  I walk the same route I’ve been walking for more than 40 years.

I know every house, every car, every tree and every person who’s doing the same thing I’m doing.

I know which cars belong to which house.  I know when a strange car is in a driveway.  I know which yard has been recently mowed and which house has received a coat of paint.  I see the same elderly Asian lady who is also taking a walk.  We make a small hand gesture and often say “Good day for a walk”, even if it isn’t.

Every day, the same two small dogs run to the living room window and bark as I walk by.  I wonder if they hear me coming or have some second sense.  I think its because I go by at the same time every day and I’m part of their morning routine.

Now I suspect there’s a couple in one of the houses having their morning coffee and one says to the other “There’s that same old man going by.  Wonder where he lives?”  I’ve  probably become part of their routine.


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Menser recall effort underway

January 12th, 2022 by Ken

A recall effort to oust Thurston County Commissioner Ty Menser  has been filed with the Thurston County auditor – – the first step in a long process to recall the elected county commissioner from the county’s 3rd District seat.

The motion to file petition for recall is being led by Jon Pettit, a long time community activist and an expert on Thurston County government.  Pettit led the effort two years ago to get the County Commission to withdrew its effort to get taxpayer approval to construct a new courthouse in downtown Olympia.

In his petition, Pettit claims that Menser, as chair of the Thurston County Commission last year, failed to file timely reports on county action and that many public actions had no minutes at all.  Pettit also alleges that actions were taken without public scrutiny.  In his 53 page petition, Pettit claims that Menser and the county were negligent in many other areas.    The petition is on file with the Thurston County Auditor’s office.

Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall said the petition has been sent on the Thurston County courts.

A judge will be selected to determine if Pettit’s petition has legal grounds on which to approve a recall effort.  Bear in mind that just because the court determines there is grounds for a recall, does mean the official is guilty.

The court has 15 days from the date it received the petition to make a determination.  If sufficient grounds are found, the court will write a ballot synopsis and send it back to the petitioner to gather signatures for recall.

Pettit will have to gather 28,851 valid signatures of registered voters in order to get the measure put on the ballot for a public vote.   That figure is 25 percent of those who voted in the last election in which Menser was on the ballot.   That was 2018.  Supporters have six months to gather the necessary signatures.

Hall said that its possible – if the signatures are gathered – that the recall could be on the November ballot.

Questions have arisen as to why the recall effort, when Menser is up for re-election this year.  For the answer to that question, go to the interview with Pettit that will shortly be posted in my Coffee With Ken section.

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The new pornographers

January 11th, 2022 by Ken

I recently learned a new word – – Worry Porn.  It concerns the rapidly increasing interest of our news media in negative events, which results in creating worries and fears in those who watch.

Here’s how it works.   Every day, negative news pours from our news outlets.  Bulletin after bulletin – story after story – all related towards some catastrophe which will significantly and severely impact our life and perhaps the life of the planet – or – if not the planet – at least our society.

But, what makes it porn, is the increasing number of viewers and listeners who hang on every story, who yearn for additional information, who need to understand how unimportant they are in relationship to the major events that could mean the end of civilization.  They can’t get enough.

Every day the media broadcasts the number of people infected with Covid, the number of people testing positive, the number of people who have died.  It’s almost like a scoreboard of a college football game.  We have to know more.  We have to see if we can reach a million dead.

Every storm, every event of Mother Nature, is another signal that the world is coming to an end.  Four inches of rain – the second flood is coming.  Snow piled six feet deep in the California mountains, brush fires in Colorado,  freezing weather in New York – – the stories are frightening – but we have to have more.

Riots tear up our cities and we fault our police.  Riots in our nations capital become insurrections and democracy as we know it is at death’s door.

The Worry porn continues day after day and we can’t get enough of it.   That’s what makes news stories porn.  We participate in the worry.  We hang on to every shred of evidence that fits our worries and the future we face. The more we watch negative news, the more they feed us.

Watching network news and news talk shows is our addiction   It’s our porn.  And the pornographers continue to give it to us.   Until we break this addition, we’ll never be happy.

The answer is simple.  Stop watching network news shows.

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New Deputy Mayor an enigma

January 6th, 2022 by Ken

Entering his fourth four-year term on the Lacey City Council, Andy Ryder has been selected to again represent the City of Lacey as its mayor.  Ryder is the longest serving mayor in the city’s history, out-distancing Mark Brown who has now been relegated to second.

Unlike in the cities of Olympia and Tumwater, the Lacey mayor is not voted on by the public, but is selected by the city council to represent them in the community.

Ryder’s election was no surprise and was unanimous.

It was the race for deputy mayor which drew the most attention.  Previous deputy mayor Cynthia Pratt did not seek re-election to the council.  She had served as deputy mayor for most of the term that Ryder served as mayor.

No one seemed to know what was going to happen and who would be selected to the second spot on the Lacey council.  I suspect however that conversations did  take place.

Lenny Greenstein was nominated by Ed Kunkel.  He received only Kunkel’s vote and his own.  Carolyn Cox, then nominated Malcolm Miller who was approved by the council for deputy mayor.

The jockeying for the deputy mayor slot has been a question hanging over the election.  Conservative members of the council wanted Greenstein but that wasn’t to be.  Mentioned for deputy mayor was Cox and new member Robin Vazquez.   Cox was rejected because she was too liberal for Lacey. Vazquez was rejected because she was just elected and was brand new.  The compromised council member was Miller.

Little is known about Miller.  He doesn’t take many meetings with other councilmembers and for the most part stays quiet during council meetings.  If the City of Lacey has ever elected an enigma, that person is now Lacey’s deputy mayor.

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Who’s being hurt by the homeless issue

January 5th, 2022 by Ken

While we understand that many homeless individuals are being impacted by their condition, there are many others who are also being impacted.  The homeless and those who hang out around the various camp sites, are creating problems for others as well.

Recently, the wife on a friend of mine suffered a heart attack and was taken to St. Peter Hospital.  Because of the overcrowding caused by the latest version of Covid, she was laid on a gurney and taken into the hallway, where she laid for hours along with several others.  During that time, an apparently homeless man, wandered up and down the hallway, riffling through the belongings of those laying in the hallway.  When he started to take her purse she started yelling an screaming for help.  It was several long minutes before anyone came to assist.  By then the culprit was gone.

Last week, my wife notice her car, sitting in our driveway, had been entered and her glove compartment and center console rummaged through.  The next door neighbor lady said her car had also fallen victim to car prowl, as had several others on our block.

Whether or not these incidents are caused by individuals living in the various camps and motels in the area, or are the result of drug addicts and alcoholics, or just plain thieves using the current police situation to their advantage is not know.

But when criminals know the police won’t respond, and if they did they wouldn’t be arrested and if they were arrested they wouldn’t be put in jail for misdemeanors and if they were they would be out shortly with no bail and no incentive to appear for trial.  Therefore the police won’t respond to such criminal activities.

Our elected officials have tied the hands of our local police.  Recently some of those same officials have been the victim of crimes.  Maybe a whack alongside the head is all they need to see the negatives of their actions.

It won’t help my friend whose wife had to scream for help, or all those on my block who no longer feel safe leaving their cars in their own driveway.  But, maybe they will see that their actions have consequences far beyond helping the poor and downtrodden.


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My Journal’s journey

December 30th, 2021 by Ken

As we enter a new year, most of us want to forget the last two years,  Many of us will try to do so – – a few of us will have to remember. We’re journalists.  By that I mean that  we keep  a daily journal of events.  I have kept a journal every day for the last 50 years and periodically before that.

Those of us who keep a journal or a diary feel obligated to remember what happens each day and then piece it together to create an overview of history.  To us, a journal or a diary is a living appendage like a brain, which documents activities that help us remember.  Our journal is as important to us as our heart.

Recently, on a trip back from Arizona, I lost my current journal.  I was writing in it on the plane and when I got off it wasn’t in my carry-on.  I became frantic, tried to get back on the plane to look for it, was assured that airplane staff would look for it and given  other assurances that it would turn up.  The last two years of my life were documented in that book and I had lost it.  I had lost my life.   I filed a lost item report with the airline and headed home.

I couldn’t sleep.  I was worried that those two years were lost.  I got up at 4 am and headed to my computer to file a report on my Facebook Page.   I even considered offering a reward.

When I got on, the first thing I saw on my Facebook page was “Did you leave something on the plane?”  The name of the person who posted it was Nancy Bonafede.  I was ecstatic.  It looked like my journal had been found.

I looked up Nancy Bonafede on Google and came up with the person living in Sedro Woolley.  No contact information but there was a Bonafede Construction Company – – and it had a phone number.

At one minute after 8 am I called.   When they answered I said , “I lost my journal on the plane.”  A female voice responded “I have your journal.”  She had found it under the seat in front of her, had Googled my name and looked me up.

She and her husband were vacationing at the Grand Canyon.  Nancy mailed the journal back to me from there and I received it four days later.  I kept track by its tracking number as it went to Los Angeles and Portland before getting here.

My journal had taken its own trip.  My journal had experienced being left, being found, and traveling to the Grand Canyon and then home.  My journal should have a kept a journal of its own.  But, even though I think of it as a living thing – it’s not.  It doesn’t have the capacity to remember – – only humans do.

And, even when we don’t want to remember the time of the Great Pandemic, we have to.  It’s our responsibility to help people remember.  Keeping a journal and sharing the observations it contains is one way to understand and place events in context.


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Lacey, St. Martins talk baseball stadium

December 23rd, 2021 by Ken

How does a new baseball stadium in Lacey sound?   For a number of people, the idea of a stadium is a step forward to making Lacey a sporting destination.

To accomplish that goal, the City of Lacey and St. Martin’s University are currently exploring the option of a joint effort to build a stadium on the college property.  Advocates for such a move feel a new baseball stadium would be for the benefit of the city and the college.

Lacey City Manager Scott Spence noted that Lacey is already a sports destination for many and a stadium would add to the attractiveness of Lacey.  He points out that the Regional Athletic Complex draws sports teams from around the state.  The ball fields are first rate and players like using the facilities.  What’s missing are appropriate seating for fans.  Talk centers around a 3000-5000 stadium which would be attractive to major tournaments.

St. Martin’s would benefit from a stadium and the college would have first use of the new facility.

At this point in time, the idea is only being talked about.

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Olympia moves homeless problem to Lacey

December 18th, 2021 by Ken

With less than a days notice, the City of Olympia moved the residents of the DesChutes Parkway camp to the City of Lacey.  Despite being a partner with Olympia on the homeless task force, Olympia rented 30 rooms for 30 days at the LaQuinta Inn in the city of Lacey.  It also rented a handful of rooms at other adjacent motels.

Complicating matters is the fact that the LaQuinta is located less than a hundred yards from the Northwest Christian school which was never notified.  Bear in mind that the DesChutes camp was closed because of violence and shootings.

Administrators and parents are concerned about their new neighbors and some parents have taken it upon themselves to walk guard duty around the school.

The move caught Lacey city officials unaware.  Now Lacey police are patrolling the area and city staff are providing other services.

Lacey officials are questioning the city’s involvement in the homeless task force, when Olympia will take action without involving Lacey in the decision-making process.

(Olympia has been pushing its problems into Lacey for the last decade.  Many social service agencies and subsidized housing units have been built on Martin Way – while technically in the city of Olympia – is actually in Lacey’s area of concern.)


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The true spirit of Christmas

December 7th, 2021 by Ken

I’ve had many Christmases in my eight decades of life.  Most of them pass with little memories.  A few stand out for various reasons.  And, one or two return to my mind every Christmas…  My most memorable  one came when I was 12 years old.  It led me on a path of which I had never conceived.

I was the oldest of four children.  My mother was a single mom living in Tumwater.  Mom worked a little, but having four kids made it tough.  There was no welfare as we know it now.  We did get some surplus food from the government – usually peanut butter, cheese and Spam – but money was always in short supply.

Mom told us all, that this was going to be a tough Christmas.  “We’re going to have an old-fashioned Christmas,” she said.  “We’re going to have to make things.  It’ll be fun.”

I wasn’t sure it would be fun.  This was going to be the worse Christmas of my young life.  But, I didn’t have any choice..

We lived above the Tumwater watershed property in a log cabin.  A nice log cabin, but a real log cabin.  We had trees galore in our backyard and my brother and I had no trouble finding the perfectly shaped tree to cut down and take back to the house.  We cut it to fit, placed it in an old bucket filled with dirt, and managed to get it into the house.

We had a few old ornaments laying around, but not really enough to decorate a Christmas tree.  Mom said “we’ll make our own.”  She remembered her childhood on an Iowa farm and the things they did to make Christmas come alive.  She showed us how to take colored paper and make it into reasonable ornaments.  We popped popcorn on the stove and using thread and a needle managed to make a white garland.  She brought  home a bucket of cranberries and we took them and  made a red garland.  We had a small puny string of lights, but once they were on the tree it became one of the best Christmas trees I’ve ever seen.

Early one evening just before Christmas, came a knock on the front door.  We opened it and found three people dressed in holiday attire and carrying several boxes, some of them wrapped as presents.  They were members of the Olympia Kiwanis Club and we had been selected as their Christmas family.  Each year the club adopted a needy family at Christmas and this year it was us,

I don’t know who was more excited – them or us.  They had presents mainly clothes but some toys as well.  Most of them were for my younger brothers and sister, but I did get a Monopoly game and a ring puzzle.  They also brought a box of food including a ham and all the fixings.

I was happy at the unexpected gift which came through our door.  My brothers and sisters were excited as they looked through all of the presents.

But, I was watching the faces of those Kiwanians as we opened our presents, tried on the jackets, looked through the food basket.  Their happiness in helping others brought joy to their heart that you could see by the smiles on their faces.

It was a better Christmas than I had expected, because for the first time in my young life I understood the true spirit of Christmas. Watching those Kiwanians I saw there is joy in giving as much as in receiving.

Now, every Christmas when we begin decorating the tree I remember that Christmas and I remember those who made one of my childhood Christmases a Christmas memory I cherish forever.

(A year later, the Olympia Lions Club went on to get me my first pair of glasses.  Later, I joined Rotary and am now a 47 year member of the Lacey Rotary Club.  Service clubs like Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary are the heartbeat of a community and I urge everyone to take a look at joining these great organizations.   (Why did I join Rotary if Kiwanis and Lions did so much for me in my childhood.  Because they asked me first.)


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An unspoken Word

December 1st, 2021 by Ken

“He went too soon,” she said, as she choked back a tear.

She turned her gaze from me and looked at the house that stood where it had stood for 50 years – – all of the time they had been together.

“The kids are taking it real hard, but the dog is staying around.  He’s still waiting for George to return,” she said.

“Of course we’ve had many people stop by and ask if they could help – – but – – it was a real surprise.   He didn’t even have time to say Goodbye – – not even a simple, single Goodbye.”

She looked at me, but her tears made it hard for her to see.  “Isn’t it funny,” she said, “just how important a single word can be?”

Based on a poem by Joe Illing (joeilling.com.)

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The Covid emergency is over

November 23rd, 2021 by Ken

For all practical purposes, the Covid emergency is over.

Everyone who wants to get a Covid shot has gotten one.  Hospitals report a significant decline in Covid patients.  And, wherever you go, people are removing their masks and getting on with their lives.

Mandates are the last gasp of a government that wants to continue the Covid emergency so that the extra ordinary powers they’ve been granted can continue.  Governor Inslee likes the ability to make decisions on his own without having to get the authorization of the state legislature.

Go to any gathering of people – – related or not – – and soon you will find the masks slipping down and eventually removed.  The public knows that the “emergency” is over.  What remains are remnants of a virus that is entering its last gasp.  While it can still cause some damage and harm – – the emergency – which gave unlimited powers to the executive – is over.

If the governor can’t understand this, than state legislators should force the Washington State Supreme Court to rule on the extension of the governor’s powers.


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Cultural adjustment works in Arizona

November 17th, 2021 by Ken

I’ve never been to Mexico.  I haven’t spent much time in the Southwest.  But, I recently returned from nine days in Arizona – most of the time in Tucson.  I didn’t realize that Tucson is just 60 miles from the Mexican border until I began to see the signs that such was the case.

I don’t know how many Hispanics call Arizona – home – but I do that Tucson and other near border cities have embraced that culture.  Just outside of Tucson, heading south, the traffic signs are written in both Spanish and English and the mileage is stated in kilometers instead of miles.

In many restaurants, the menus are written in English on one side and Spanish on the other.  Most workers who serve customers are fluent in both languages and salsa has replaced catsup on the restaurant tables.

Small, simple observations from a man who is barely fluent in English and only knows the Hispanic culture when he goes to a “Mexican” restaurant here in town.

But, I think its a good thing.  Mexico is our neighbor and as our Hispanic immigration continues, we will need to adjust – all of us.  Even those who live near the Canadian border.  If what I  saw in Tucson is any example, that adjustment will work well for everyone.  Just remember, to convert kilometers to miles, just multiply by 6 and drop the last number.  It gets you close enough.  Oh – that’s right – – our neighbors to the north use kilometers too.

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Don’t call the Lacey Police

November 1st, 2021 by Ken

Has the neighbor’s dog been barking all night?  Has a large party in the neighborhood gotten out of control and the music is too loud?  Have you seen someone shop lifting and called to report it?  Have you had a fender bender in the parking lot?

Well, don’t call the Lacey Police Department.  They won’t respond.

According to a missive put out by Lacey Police Chief Robert Almada, the department officers will respond only to a violent crime, serious property crimes, domestic violence and no-contact orders.  This is the result of recently passed legislation by the State of Washington.

In the missive the chief said, “We will continue to focus on combating crime.  We have transitioned most of our community caretaking and non-crime-related responsibilities to social service providers, such as our newly formed Mobile Outreach Team.”

Prior to the implementation of the new legislation, the police department put out some statistics of calls for service from the community.

For the first nine months of this year, in the Fred Meyer complex area alone, police responded to a total of 767 calls, some from citizens and some initiated by police officers.  Of those 767 calls, only 98 of them resulted in a written report.  These calls included theft, exposure, shop-lifting, assault, burglary, animal complaints (dogs in hot car), medical emergencies, liquor violations and dozens of other calls.

In the future, most of those calls will be sent to the Mobile Outreach Team – – or be ignored completely.

Editors note:  Complaints about the new focus should be sent to your local state legislators.


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Mrs. Wyman goes to Washington

October 27th, 2021 by Ken

The reluctant politician – Kim Wyman – is on her way to Washington DC to work with the President Biden administration to bring security back to the American election system.  That’s the stated reason – to being security back to an election system which may or may not have been compromised.

The real reason Kim is moving to the national level is to bring confidence back to a battered system.  She is probably the only person in the country who can do so.

Kim is a member of the Republican party.  For decades she has slipped through the Democratic machine which controls politics in Washington State to get elected time after time – first in Thurston County where she served as Thurston County Auditor and later where she served as Washington’s Secretary of State.  Her predecessors in both those jobs were also Republican.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Biden administration saw the competence with which she ran elections in Washington State.  But, she gained attention in 2020 by going on CNN and talking against President Trump.   Her honesty and integrity were on the line and out for everyone to see.

Kim was going to do what was right and was going to defend the voters and the voting system against all of those who would see it fail.

Kim is the last of the Liberal Republicans to hold political office in our state.  She followed several others such as Dan Evan, Ralph Munro, James Dolliver, Sam Reed and many more.  All gone now.

I always thought Kim had the ability to reach national prominence in government.  This is now her chance.  With luck and skill this reluctant politician will be able to calm the waters and bring some sanity back to our national election system.

Washington State is going to miss her and her way of doing politics.  So will I.

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Untangling the Lacey mayor’s race

October 20th, 2021 by Ken

Don’t be confused.  The city council elections in Lacey are actually a vote for the city’s mayor.

Voters in Lacey don’t get to vote for mayor.  The mayor is selected by the city council to represent the council in the community.  The actual selection of a mayor is done by the council.

For more than 10 years, Andy Ryder has served as Lacey’s mayor.  Every two years, after each council election cycle, Ryder has been selected to represent the council.  Most often the selection is unanimous.  Even those seeking to be mayor can read the votes and know that Ryder has had at least four sure votes in his pocket.

In my estimation, Ryder has done a good job of managing the council and the city.  For the last few selection cycles to become mayor he has slanted his support to the more liberal side of the scale in order to keep his majority.  When he was first elected he had taken a more moderate stance.  He likes to consider that he has maintained a moderate position on the major issues facing the city – – and he has.  But his slant toward the more radical side of the political spectrum has made it more difficult for moderation to reign in the city of Lacey.

His main opposition for the mayor’s seat has come from Lenny Greenstein who is more conservative, particularly when it comes to taxes and spending.  Greenstein can read the tea leafs and see that he is at least one vote and maybe two votes short of becoming mayor, a position he has coveted for several years.  In the last election cycle, Greenstein supported Ed Kunkel and managed to defeat one of Ryder’s supporters.  He now has at least two votes and maybe three to become the next mayor.  It all boils down to one of the council seats turning from liberal to moderation.

Carolyn Cox is currently the most radical of the Lacey City Council.  She is the incumbent giving her a leg up on re-election.  She is being challenged by Felix Peguero.  Currently Cox has the advantage, and if she prevails, Ryder will have three sure votes to continue as mayor.  He needs four.

Cynthia Pratt is not seeking reelection.  She had been a strong supporter of Ryder.  Running for the seat are Robin Vasquez who is being supported by Ryder and Emma McSharry  who is being supported by Greenstein.  Whoever wins that seat will be the deciding vote on the next mayor of Lacey.

Ryder and his lackey Mike Steadman are running unopposed and will be on the council for the next four years.  Malcolm Miller is not up for election.  His stand on the next mayor is not known.


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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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