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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.”

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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)

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Should I drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper?

April 4th, 2021 by Ken

I’m not planning to watch a single major league baseball game this year.  When the Major League Baseball association pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta, Georgia because of a politics, I became a fan of the boycott.

Even if the Seattle Mariners make it to the World Series, I plan not to watch a single pitch.  (Of course, if they actually do make it, I retain the right to change my mind.  I would have already made my point by then.)

I also plan to stop drinking Coca Cola.  I’ve been a Coke addict for as long as I can remember.  I still drink two or three Cokes a day.   This is in response to the Coca Cola company’s support of withdrawing the All-Star game from Atlanta.

Coca Cola is headquartered in Atlanta.  Atlanta is one of the largest majority black cities in the United States.

Liberal groups have been calling for the MLB to withdraw the games because of new voting laws approved recently by the Georgia legislature.

Two facts – – I’ve been to Atlanta.  I’ve taken the tour of the Coca Cola museum and enjoyed every minute of it.  Atlanta is a beautiful city.  Coke is a major employer.

I’ve also read the new voting rights act (on-line) approved by the Georgia legislature.  As far as I can tell, the law was passed in response to loosen rules in force during the Covid-impacted election.  The new law seems alright to me.  Of course, we’ve had all vote-by-mail in this state for a decade now.  So many of the actions taken by the Georgia legislature wouldn’t mean anything to voters in Washington State.

My complaint is how quickly MLB bowed to the Cancel Culture and how rapidly the largest corporation in Atlanta fell into line.

Therefore I’m boycotting MLB for this year and am going to find a replacement for my Coke drinking.   Should I change to Pepsi or Dr. Pepper?  This could be Coke’s biggest mistake since New Coke.

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Commissioners to adopt ordinance affecting county operations and public scrutiny

March 30th, 2021 by Ken

Our Thurston County Commissioners are about to adopt a new ordinance which will give them more independence of operation while at the same time, making it more difficult for the public to have input and oversight of their operations.

The ordinance (as yet unnumbered) rescinds two previous ordinances which restricted when and where the commissioners could meet and what items of business they could address in those meetings.  The new ordinance says the commissioners can meet anytime and any day during the average work week with only a 24-hour notice to the public.

Further, the ordinance removes commissioner work sessions from applications of the Public Meetings Act.  Previously anytime two commissioners met together was considered a “public meeting” and required public notice and note taking available to the public.  Now the commissioners can meet together or with staff for a work session on any issue without reporting to the public.

Further the ordinance gives the board authority to designate the County Manager as its designee to set the budget calendar and set the time of the public hearing on the budget.

The last section of the ordinance says “The Board finds that it would be unduly burdensome and costly to Thurston County taxpayers and would interfere with effective and timely county operations to develop an index of all current records as specified in RCW 42.17.260(3).”  It goes on to say that the Board and county departments produce volumes of correspondence, reports and studies and that making those all available to the public are taxing the county.  (That last line was my interpretation).

That action is in response to the publics requests for documents specified by the public records act.  It appears that the county is unable to produce certain files and records, some dating back to 1999 and some current.  That section of the proposed ordinance is probably illegal and is an attempt to “cover their ass.  (My words and interpretation of the ordinance)

The meeting on adoption of the ordinance will be on Tuesday, April 13 at the 3 p.m. meeting of the board.

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Who actually runs your government

March 24th, 2021 by Ken

If you think your elected officials run your government, think again.  The Covid pandemic and resultant shut-downs have exposed the dirty, little underpinnings of our society.  Elected officials may pass the laws, but its those they hire which actually run things.

Take education for example.  While our state school chief and our local school boards may seem to be in charge – the real power lies with the local school unions and those who run them.  While government wants to reopen schools, the unions have deemed them unsafe for its members.  In order to get teachers back in school, Congress has bribed them by allocating millions and billions of taxpayer dollars to get teachers back in class.  Much of that money will be siphoned off as additional benefits for teachers and directed by the unions which represent them.

While I’ve harped on the power of teacher unions before, power to control elected officials are often exercised by other government employee unions.  In Lacey for example.  The local police guild recently negotiated a 19 percent pay increase for all its members, making Lacey cops some of the highest paid law enforcement officials in the state – – outside of King County.  The increases were negotiated by the city manager.  And, while the city council approved those increases in the general budget, it had no choice but to do so since they were properly negotiated.  Council members have no say other than yes or no on the overall budget.

In our own Thurston County, manager Ramiro Chavez controls the flow of information and thus controls what the county commissioners see and hear.  Because we have a three-member commission, they are not allowed to talk with each other without violating the open meetings act.   They can’t tell their fellow members what they’re thinking.  Any flow of information between them is first relayed to Chavez or one of his employees, who may or may not relay it to the commissioner for which it was intended.  This control of information gives the county manager unlimited control over the knowledge received by individual commissioners.

Over the decades, as our government has grown larger and more complex, elected officials are often at the mercy of those whom they hire to manage the system.  These are just a few of the problems with our current system.

I have two suggestions.  Lacey should junk the council/manager form of government and look at a strong mayor form of government similar to Tumwater and what Lacey had in place originally.   This will give our elected officials some power to make decisions.  Thurston County should expand its commission to five members which would allow them to talk with each other without being censored by staff.  In any case, Thurston County has grown so large, that three members no longer suffice to handle regional agreements.

As far as government unions go – that decision will have to be made by voters who elect officials not beholding to the money or the power of these self-serving unions.

 

 

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No concept of time

March 18th, 2021 by Ken

Re-setting my clocks for Daylight Savings Time recently reminded me of just how many clocks I have in my house.

I have clocks on my stove, my microwave oven, my coffee-maker, my phone, the television, my computer, in my car and even on my wrist.  Some of them re-set automatically.  Some of them require finding out just how to re-set them.  But, they all have one thing in common – – they’re all digital.

They may tell me the time, but they give me absolutely no concept of time.

When I look at a non-digital clock, the first thing I notice is that it is round and is divided into pieces, 12 pieces to be exact.  These are then divided into quarters.   I can glance at a non-digital clock and know instantly just how much time I have before I have to be someplace.   I don’t even need numbers on the dial.

With a digital time-piece I always know what time it is.   But, I have no concept of just what that means.  With the old-fashioned clock, I know how much time I have and a concept of how much time is remaining.   A digital clock will show 2:45.  But, you can’t read it.

You can look at a non-digital clock and tell it’s a quarter to three.  You not only know what time it is, but you also know how much time you have left.

I’m certain the fact that I am of a certain age makes my dependence on digital time a little uneasy.  I’m also certain that the generation growing up with digital will adjust and be comfortable with knowing the time. They will also develop their own sense of time.

Still there’s something missing. It may be 3:15, but to me its always a quarter after three.

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Am I a racist?

March 10th, 2021 by Ken

Am I a racist?

The Thurston County Commission recently approved – unanimously – a resolution declaring racism is a crisis in Thurston County.  Am I a racist?

For the past 50 years I’ve been actively involved in making Thurston County a better and more attractive place to live.  As an opinion maker (self-proclaimed) I have an an impact on making my home county what it is today.  If racism is a crisis in Thurston County – am I a racist?

I grew up in a state whose population was more than 90 percent white. With the exception of our native tribe, I never saw a person of color until I joined the Army.  That was my first exposure to racism.  I never questioned it.  Am I a racist?

Growing up I used all the negative terms.  It took me years to call Brazil Nuts – Brazil Nuts.  As a child I used to sing the Ennie Meanie, Minnie song without the birdie.  When I started smoking (at age 11) I sometimes got the cigarette and later the joint wet and was asked to stop doing it.  Am I a racist?

Is the mere fact that I’m writing this article in coded language imply that  I’m a racist?

Do I judge people on their appearance?  Yes, of course, unless I know them.  When I meet a person for the first time I notice his/her color.  I notice their gender.  I notice if they’re over-weight, unkempt or wear glasses.  We all make judgments based on appearance.  Am I a racist?

Do I suffer from White Privilege?  If I do, I didn’t even know such a term existed?   Does that make me a racist, or am I just ignorant?

The Thurston County Commissioners, by declaring racism a crisis in Thurston County imply that I am a racist.  Does that term apply to all of us who live here?

 

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Daylight Savings Time

March 8th, 2021 by Ken

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

“What’s dangerous,” he asked

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

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

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

“Blame the Monks,” he said.

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

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

“That’s it?” she asked.

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

“And, that’s it?” she asked.

“Not quite.  When the railroads stretched their iron rails across the country, they needed common time across the whole United States so the trains could arrive on time.”

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

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

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

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

“Well, if I hit someone with my car this week, I’m going to blame the government.”

“It’s alright with me,” he said.

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County’s recognition of George Bush is already in existence

February 25th, 2021 by Ken

Efforts to build a monument on the State Capitol grounds for Black pioneer George W Bush and his son William Owens Bush is well deserved.  Both father and son were early pioneers in this area and contributed substantially to the future of Thurston County.

But, to say there is no monument to the Bushes is in error.  In 1989, the Thurston County Historical Commission built a memorial to the Bushes on Bush Prairie at the intersection of 84th Avenue and Old Highway 99.   The monument is built in the form of the original homestead and is an all-encompassing tribute to this Washington pioneer.

The  four-sided monument tells the history of the Bush family, complete with pictures of the senior Bush and his son.  The monument covers his time in Missouri, his involvement in the War of 1812,  his involvement in the Simmons Party, his troubles in Oregon, his generous support of later arriving homesteaders  and all complete with pictures and quotes, including the State Legislature’s original tribute to the senior Bush upon his death.

A new monument on the state capitol grounds will just echo the tribute already contained on the many paneled monument already in existence.  The Thurston County Historical Commission and the residents of Thurston County are appreciative of our pioneering families and do all we can to recognize them.

I suggest the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and its president Stephanie Johnson-Toliver contact me and I will be happy to take her and any other on a tour of the memorial to George Washington Bush and William Owens Bush.

I am currently a member of the Thurston County Historical Commission.  However, the memorial was built before I was appointed to the commission.

 

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