Who runs the Port of Olympia – staff or commissioners?

September 26th, 2022 by Ken

“It’s Deja Vu all over again.”  This quote from Yogi Berra about sums up the recent flap between the staff of the Port of Olympia and KGY radio, over the historical significance of the KGY Building.

The Olympia Heritage Commission had proposed that the 60-year old KGY building on port property be added to the city’s heritage register.  All members of the commission were in favor of such an action, when a last minute e-mail from Port of Olympia staff, objected to the inclusion of the building.

The argument (from the staff) centered around who had the authority to control the use of the building.   KGY owns the building.  The Port of Olympia owns the property on which it sits.  Port staff were concerned that including the 60-year old building on the heritage register would complicate staff efforts to use the property when KGY’s lease expires in 2024.

Complicating matters even more is that not one single member of the Olympia Port Commission knew anything about staff’s action in regards to KGY.  But they should have been notified and they should have had input.  Because it has a major impact on their political future.

Lets go back to 2006.

KGY’s lease on the property was expiring.  The station’s owners wanted a renewal.  Port staff said no.  The building did not fit into the future use the port had for that property.  At the time, a developer was eying the property for construction of a “hotel”.  The hotel fit into the future plans of the port.

When word went out to the community that KGY was being ousted, an out-cry of community support for keeping the station at its present site galvanized the public.  Port Commission Steve Pottle, who had supported the hotel, resigned his commission seat.  Bill McGregor, a KGY supporter was appointed to fill that seat and elected to that seat in 2007.  Port Commissioner Bob VanSchrool, ran for re-election and was defeated by George Barner, also a KGY supporter.

Economic conditions led the hotel to be unworkable and KGY was granted a lease extension.  Several lease extension have followed.

None of the three current port commissioners had even heard of staff arguments against putting the building on the heritage register until the article appeared in the pages of “The Olympian” last Sunday.

There is and continues to be great community support for KGY, the oldest radio station in the State of Washington and one of the oldest in the country.  KGY is owned by the Kerry family and the fourth generation is now running the station.

When you think of community Icons for Olympia, only three stand out – – the state capitol, the old state capitol and KGY radio which has been on the waterfront in its current location for 60 years.  The building is an Icon representing continuity and stability to a city in constant change.

The Olympia Heritage Commission was right to see the historic nature of the KGY building and to place it on the Heritage Register.

Staff, from the port, have taken it upon themselves to make a political decision that affect all three current port commissioners. While no port commissioner is in danger of being ousted like 2007 – – they are responsible to the citizens of Thurston County.

I ask two questions – – Why didn’t executive director Sam Gibboney see fit to notify port commissioners about the potential for conflict with the community?   And, why are staff so set against putting the building on the Heritage Register?  After all, even if KGY leaves the building, the building is still a historical icon and should be on the register no matter who owns it.

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Can humans really be happy?

September 24th, 2022 by Ken

Is it true, that human beings can never be happy?  Is it true, that no matter how much we say we want happiness, and no matter how hard we search for happiness – – that we can never be truly happy?

There is no part of the human brain that contains the “happiness” center.  There is no genetic link between human beings and their ability to be happy.

It follows that happiness is a “made up ideal” fostered on humans as a means to keep them searching for the unknown ability to be happy, and keep them from attaining such a state, while exercising physical and mental effort that uses their time and energy.

It’s stated in our Declaration of Independence that all people are endowed with the right of happiness.  Never mind that the word was added in rewrite to limit the right of property ownership.

Why can’t people ever, really, be happy?

Goals, objectives, expectations, dreams, hopes, desires – – all get in the way of individual happiness.  For every goal we reach another takes its place.  For every dream we have, the next night brings a new one.  Our expectations can never be mer.  Our hopes and desires can never be fulfilled.

As we near the end of our lives, many people say they have found happiness in the small things – – a soft rocker, a good book, a brilliant sunset, a grandchild’s smile.

But, they don’t have happiness.  What they have is contentment.  They have given up on attaining happiness and are using what mental, emotional and physical abilities they still have, in order to be content with their place in society.

You may rage against the dying of the light – but you’ll never find happiness.  Just be content.

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Sayings to savor

September 23rd, 2022 by Ken

You can walk on water, until someone tells you, you can’t.

If you want audience questions after your talk, give a half-assed presentation.

In peace time, no one wants a war hero.

Luck is the best friend of a lazy parent.

Is the sun shinning?  Are the clouds out?  Is the wind blowing?  It all depends on your point of view.

Stupidity should be painful.

Whenever there’s change – there’s opportunity.

The most important element of a conversation is what’s not being said.

An empty page presents opportunities.

Unless you write it down, words are lost forever.

Not winning doesn’t make you a loser, if you learn from your mistakes.

Don’t let the fact that you can’t do something, stop you from trying.

You can’t die from too much living, too much loving, too much laughing – can you?

If you can’t be interesting, at least be funny.

(Editor’s note:  None of these original with me.  I’ve been collecting interesting sayings for years.  I’ve discovered that humans want short, one line answers to all of their problems.  So, have at it. One of these should fit your situation.  If not, I have a hundred more.)

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The Port should hold back on renewal of Weyerhaeuser lease

September 14th, 2022 by Ken

For more than a decade, I’ve been in favor of closing down the Marine Terminal at the Port of Olympia.  Years of following the port, reviewing documents and talking with people in the know, has convinced me that Thurston County taxpayers aren’t getting the value from their taxes from marine shipping.

Many friends of mine, who favor keeping the terminal, have made the case that much of what the terminal does is not translatable to finance.  That a port is not a port without a marine terminal, and for the Port of Olympia to remain an asset to the community, it needs to keep the marine terminal functioning.

I bring up this decade-old dagger because of the pending renewal of the Weyerhaeuser lease.  For a decade, this “tree growing” company has leased land at the port to store and ship its raw logs to Asian ports and Asian business – – most readily China and Japan.

While the company pays leasing fees to the port, we have no way of knowing how the costs have been determined and whether or not, the current lease is in the best interests of the taxpayers.  With  the lease coming due, it appears that the port is anxious to sign it and continue its relationship with one of the largest lumber companies in the state.

While I don’t think any under-handed deals are being made, and while I trust the port commissioners to make the best decision, their hurry to sign the contract seems to me as a means to avoid public scrutiny and public comments.

That said.  If the lease is signed for another 10 years, the Marine Terminal cannot be closed for at least another decade and Thurston County taxpayers will be on a hook for their share of operations by way of their property taxes.  Take a look at the distribution of your property taxes. School funding takes the most, but port funding isn’t an insignificant amount.

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Two decades ago our world changed

September 6th, 2022 by Ken

Two decades ago this month on 9-11, our country – America – changed.  What had been a free-flowing country concerned with freedom, privacy and individual rights, is now a country where those kinds of activities have been shunted aside in favor of security.

The events of 9-11, changed police and law enforcement agencies around the country.  Officer Friendly was replaced with those more concerned with security.  it was helped by a federal government which called upon the neighborhood police officer to become a militarized supporter of anti-terrorism.  Blue and brown uniforms were replaced with all black uniforms.  Weapons now carried looked as though the officer was going off to fight some foreign war, instead of providing security in the neighborhood.

Where once we had open access to our civic buildings, we now find them surrounded by fences often topped with barbed wire.  And, security systems at every entrance point which the average citizen must transverse if he/she wishes to speak to a public official.

And every employee, in every government office, must now wear the ID which is often hanging from a cord around the neck.

As school started this week I realized that none of our students know what the world was like before this country determined that it was a dangerous world and that danger permeated every aspect of our life.  They now know that gates, barbed wire and police carrying military style weapons is a normal part of life.  I’m happy for them and for their innocence.

But, I mourn our loss of freedom, our lack of respect for our government and its institutions and the support we once had for individual liberties.

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State Historical markers to get review

August 24th, 2022 by Ken

The movement to review historical monuments and public art has now reached the shores of Washington State.

Thanks to a $142,000 federal  grant to the Washington State Historical Society (headquartered in Tacoma), the group will begin a study of the monuments and roadside markers in the state, to make certain they meet the new standards of accuracy and inclusion.

The Society was able to identify 43 historical markers put in place around the state with its help from 1900 to 1950.  Some of them mark battlefields where the military engaged in conflict with native tribes.  Some just recognize that certain explorers camped at certain sites in the state.

As a spokesman for the organization was recently quoted “”Many of the monuments identified have been dormant, undisturbed and essentially ignored for decades, just sitting by the roadside or in some out-of-the-way spot”.

With the federal funds, the Society has hired Polly Olson who is the director of Diversity, Equity, Access, Inclusion and Decolonization as well as the tribal liaison for the Burke museum in Seattle.

She estimates that not a single one of the monuments will be exempt from potential change.

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My “smoking” affair

August 22nd, 2022 by Ken

 I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 11.  My brother and I stole one from mom’s purse.  We had a hard time lighting it, because neither of us knew exactly how to start, but we succeeded although we coughed and hacked our way through.

I started smoking on a regular basis in my early teens.  Most of the boys we hung out with smoked.  It was usually only one or two a day, but we did it pretty much every day  As time progressed I began smoking more.  My first cigarettes I managed to obtain from a store were Menthol.  It made the smoke going down my throat more “refreshing.”

We had no option.  Our black and white television screen was filled with advertisements of movie stars, doctors and athletes, all smoking.

When I joined the army at 17, my smoking accelerated.  Cigarettes were only 25 cents a pack, and it seemed like everyone was doing it.  We had “cigarette” breaks from training.  The barracks had “Butt cans.”  These were gallon cans, painted red and filled with water, in which we extinguished our cigarette butts. We had weekly “Butt Patrols” where everyone lined up and  cleaned up any cigarette butts thrown on the ground.

The army PX didn’t have a great choice in brands of cigarettes and I began smoking Camel Straights, without a filter.  We even had cigarettes included in our C Rations during training.

But, it wasn’t until I began working in my civilian job that I became hooked.  I was working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper.  The day was 24 hours long.  Cigarettes and coffee were the motivation it took to keep alert and to keep going.  There were times when I would come back from a city council meeting and sit down to start writing a story.  “This is a two cigarette story” I would say, meaning it would take concentration and time to get it done.  it wasn’t long before two packs of cigarettes and 20 cups of coffee (Camels straight and coffee black.) became the standard of the day.

This routine went on for years, even after I had left the newspaper business.  Coffee and cigarettes were my standard.  When I began to experience stomach problems, my doctor recommended that I switch to decaf coffee.  I did.  I tried to quit smoking often.  Sometimes I was able to get along without a cigarette for a day or two, but always went back.  I switched to filtered cigarettes with the expectation that it would decrease the need.  It didn’t.

What would take me off my addiction?

A woman.

When I met the woman who is now my wife, she didn’t like smokers, but she tolerated me – – to  point.   I couldn’t smoke when I was at her home, and to make it even more difficult, i couldn’t smoke at my house when she was going to be there.

When we decided to get married, I knew it was going to be a struggle.  So, I had no choice.  I quit smoking.

It’s now been 32 years since I last had a cigarette.  I estimated that in total, I probably smoked for about the same number of years.

Has smoking for that long had an impact on my quality of life.  My new doctor seems to think so.



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What’s in a Name?

August 11th, 2022 by Ken

What do these names mean to you – – Bragg, Benning, Gordon, AP Hill, Hood, Lee, Pickett, Polk and Rucker?

If you said Confederate generals and officers during the Civil War, you’re right.  They are also all traitors to the United States of America.  And yet, they are also all names of military bases in the United States.

A federal commission has been working on renaming these bases, with that to start at the beginning of 2024 – little more than a year and a half away.

From 34,000 names suggested by the public, the commission has come up with suggested changes.

Fort Bragg would become Fort Liberty (the 82nd Airborne’s song).

Fort Benning would become Fort Moore (Lt. Gen. Hal Moore who was immortalized in the movie and book ” We Were Soldiers Once – and  Young.”)

Fort Gordon would become Fort Eisenhower.

Fort AP Hill would become Fort Walker (after Civil War field physician Mary Walker)

Fort Hood would become Fort Cavazos (Korean War hero Richard Cavazos.)

Fort Lee would become Fort Gregg-Adams (after two black World War Two Army  logisticians Arthur Gregg and Charity Adams)

Fort Pickett would become Fort Barfoot (after Medal of Honor recipient Van Barfoot)

Fort Polk would become Fort Johnson (after Medal of Honor recipient William Henry Johnson)

Fort Rucker would become Fort Novosel (after Medal of Honor recipient Michael Novosel Sr.)

These may or may not be the final names selected by the Secretary of Defense.

I support cleansing the military’s infatuation with the Civil War and Confederate names.  It isn’t right that traitors be honored by having their names memorialized by the US government.  On the other hand, I’m not certain that these suggested name changes are the right ones.  It’s obvious that the commission tasked with changing names has tried to encompass every minority group and every gender available.  Woke consideration ran amuck.  Why was one Medal of Honor recipient selected over another?  Was it based on race or gender – or did that individual stand out so much that it was impossible not to give him or her the honor?

The names eventually selected will bring recognition to those individuals and to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces.  I believe that race and gender should be a factor – but not the over-riding reason to be honored.  I would ask the commission to take a closer look at those selected and make the determination on the basis of pride in country and love and sacrifice for the Unites States of America.

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Don’t force me to vote for Trump

August 10th, 2022 by Ken

My recent Facebook post about the partisan movement on the part of the FBI, to swarm President Trumps home, looking for “something”  received a warning from Facebook, that the post would be deleted because it “Violated Community Standards”.

My post said that the United States government was looking like a Banana Republic which replaces losing president candidates by throwing them in jail.  In this case I said “Why not have a show trial, then take him out in the courtyard and shoot him”.

In retrospect, I can see how suggesting someone be shot could be a violation of community standards – – but the thought is still the same.

I voted for Donald Trump twice.  I was hoping not to have to vote for him a third time.

But, if the Democrats (a party of which I have belonged for more than 40 years) continues on its present course with a vendetta against the former president – I can see nothing but re-election for Trump.

Sometimes presidents have to shake up the establishment and put the country on a different course.  The first to do so was Andrew Jackson.  He was the first president not from the original 13 states. He was from the backwoods and brought about a new perspective on what government’s role should be.  He also founded the Democratic Party.  The next president to do so was Abraham Lincoln – who not only saw slavery as wrong, but help found the Republican Party.  For all of his faults, Donald Trump hit a nerve in the American public.   More nationalistic, more self-contained  more introspective.

The January 6 Committee is a partisan committee with no desire to understand the events of that day, but to fix blame and try to  connect the president to the events as a co-conspirator.  Many people believe that was the reason for the invasion of Trump’s home.  Every other reason expressed by the current government is just a cover-up.

Democratic efforts continue in many Blue States to bring Trump to heel and punish him for his words, his demeanor and his personality.

They are driving the American public to embrace the embattled former president.  They are looking like a Banana Republic which punishes former president and they are continuing to force me to vote for Trump again, when I’d much rather vote for someone else.

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Bread and circuses

July 29th, 2022 by Ken

In order to keep the restless masses under control Roman emperors often resorted to a combination of bread and circuses.  With full stomachs and bloody  entertainment, the problems and concerns they once had often faded into the background.

There is a correlation to ancient Rome and today.

To keep the masses satiated, the current emperor has pumped more than three trillion dollars into the economy in the form of government grants, subsidies and outright monetary bribes. That’s the bread.

The circus comes in the form of entertainment.  Our television screens are filled with murder, blood, gore, catastrophes and mayhem, all brought by the government lackeys the national news media.

And, to top it all off, is the public trial of the former emperor, live and in living color and in our living rooms courtesy again of the spokesman for the emperor, the national news media.

The current emperor has just tried and failed, to pump another three trillion dollars into the economy, while minor emperors in some states have managed to return to the masses, some of their own money to pay for the high cost of transportation.

It’s all bread and circuses.  Feed their bellies with food, and their heads with mindless dribble and the huddled masses will be too full of both to change emperors and the legislative body which is intent only in keeping themselves in power.

Had enough yet Roman citizen?

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A story with no title

July 26th, 2022 by Ken

It was a typical summer morning.

A heavy thump on the outside of the house at 4:55 am was the signal that the day had started.  The paper carrier delivered my copy of The Wall Street Journal as regular as the clock.

The thump woke up Jan, who stretched and sat up on the side of the bed, trying to get her senses working.  Soon she had gotten up and went into the bathroom.

I laid there, in the bed, still in that dreamy state – not asleep and not quite awake.   It’s at that  stage, my mind begins to put forth my coming day into some kind of calendar.  It’s also at that time, that I usually start thinking about my next story.  It  comes to me so clear, that if I had my computer right there, I could write the whole story down.

But, by the time Jan is finished and the bathroom is left to me, those thoughts have partly disappeared and all I’m left with is an outline of a story and a few random lines that will make the story – stunning.

I try not to take much time getting up and getting dressed.  I want to get down the hall to my office and get the words down before my mind loses them.  I pour myself a cup of coffee and go into my office – all the time trying to remember all of that great prose I had discovered in my brain just a few minutes earlier.

By the time I sit down to my computer and start writing –  –  it’s all gone.

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Too much money causes problems

July 23rd, 2022 by Ken

What a problem to have.  Too much money to spend and not enough time to spend it.  That’s the problem facing the Thurston County Commission.

The county received more than $56 million in Covid relief money.  So far the county has spent $36 million of the federal money but still has $20 million left to spend.  And it has until the end of 2024 to spend it.  It has currently allocated $10 million but hasn’t spent it yet.

County Commissioner Tye Menser said the county was just going to run out of time.  He was recently quoted by The Olympian as saying, “It’s not like they can just go out and buy a hotel” talking about the Prosecuting Attorney’s office having trouble spending its allocated money.

That was a joke on Menser’s part because the commissioners just authorized the purchase of two hotels to house homeless people – – both of them by the way in the greater Lacey area.

This whole process is a joke.  The  federal American Rescue Plan, from which this money comes, has distributed trillions (that’s right trillions with a T) of taxpayer money around the country.  That is one of the major reasons we have the inflation that is currently sweeping our costs of living to new heights.

Much of the money allocated has gone to worthy and worthwhile projects.  But, a substantial amount is still trying to be spent, or has been spent foolishly.

And, we the taxpayers of the country are to blame.

Had Enough Yet?

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Busy time at the County

July 18th, 2022 by Ken

It’s a busy time for the Thurston County Commissioners.

Not only are one-third of them up for re-election this year (OK only one) but that’s one-third of the commission, but they’re also in the process of moving.

The entire administrative staff of Thurston County are moving out of their current offices atop Mottman Hill, and are moving to Lacey.  (OK, only on Pacific Avenue near Lacey, but close enough)  All administrative offices – the commission, auditor, treasurer and assessor – are moving to their new digs on Pacific Avenue across from the old Boone Ford location. The actual move is scheduled to begin in September.

The other offices, clerk, coroner and prosecuting attorney will join the sheriff and remain at the current location, while renovation and remodeling will start in converting the existing county courthouse into the new Law and  Justice center.

The commissioner have also placed a proposition on the fall ballot to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five.  They will join with the Port of Olympia which has agreed to work with the commission to also increase its commissioners from three to five as well.  (I’ll have more information on that in the near future.)

Everyone is anxious to see how things works out, particularly the residents of Thurston County whose county business will be impacted.

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Stop a significant power rate increase

July 14th, 2022 by Ken

Electricity, natural gas and other generating and distributing products are controlled by the State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC).  When the power company wants to increase your rates, they petition the UTC for permission.   The UTC then requires utility companies to notify their customers.  If there isn’t major concerns expressed by users of the power, the state then authorizes the power company to increase the rates it charges customers.

Currently Puget Sound Energy(PSE) has asked for a rate increase across the board of about 17 percent over the next three years with about 14 percent of that increase coming next year.

PSE is required to notify customers and allow them to have a say in those increases.

A 14 percent rate increase is a significant burden for many customers of PSE.  If you want to have your say, you can contact the the UTC at comments@utc.wa.gov.   You can also contact PSE at – – customercare@pse.com.  It’s also possible to submit written comments to Customer Care PO Box 97034, Bellevue,WA  98009-9734.

If significant consumer comments are opposed, it’s possible the UTC will lower the proposed increase.  If not, you will pay significantly more next year and for two years after that.


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Some advice you can really use

July 11th, 2022 by Ken

It was a scene right out of a tear-jerking movie.  The old man lay dying.  The family had gathered around the bed.  Their father and grandfather had been a successful business owner.  He had made a fortune – – and everyone wanted to know what his final words would be.

As he woke briefly from his labored sickness he gestured for his youngest grandson to come closer.  The young man did as he was told and bent over to put his ear closer to his grandfathers lips.  He listened a few seconds, nodded, and then retreated from the bed – – the old man died.

“What’d he say?”, “What’d he say?” – – The others gathered around the bed wanted to know.  “What’d he say?”  What did he tell you?” they all demanded to hear.  The young man looked up at the group who waited with expectation at the final word of advice from this successful businessman.

“Don’t take the first pancake,” the grandson said.  “What?, they all asked  again this time in unison.  “Don’t take the first pancake,” that’s what he said.  “Don’t take the first pancake.”

Anyone who has ever cooked pancakes, know that the first pancake is often doughy inside and not very tasty.  The family is waiting for breakfast and your in a hurry.  So we put the cakes on before the griddle is smoking hot and these first  marvels of flour and water are often not not very good.

Is that what the old man was trying to say?  Or, did his final words have more to do with the world than with pancakes?  Did he mean that going first isn’t the best position to be in?  Did he mean to say that allowing others to go first and make the first mistake gives you an opportunity to learn from that?

Or did he mean to say that giving others the opportunity to go first is a learning experience for everyone?

I don’t know what he meant.  Advice is only as good as the people receiving it.  It you want advice, you have to be willing to accept it  Not taking the first pancake can be read as about anything you want it to be.

Or – maybe, just maybe, the first pancake isn’t the best – – but it can be if you follow these words of advice.

The griddle has to be hot – – at a temperature of 375 degrees.  After mixing, let the batter sit for three minutes to allow all ingredients to mix well.  Pour the batter in one spot and let it spread out on its own.  Cook each side for three minutes on each side.   And, don’t lift up the pancake to see if its done.

Then, you can take the first pancake.

Now, that’s some advice you can really use.

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Marine Terminal must go

July 6th, 2022 by Ken

By Joe Illing

(The following story appeared in The Jolt News earlier this week.)

I own a small commercial property in downtown Olympia, a short
walk from the port peninsula’s Marine Terminal (what most of us
call “the port”). Needless to say, over the years I’ve taken a keen
interest in what happens there, or what doesn’t happen there.

My point of view concerning the peninsula that’s distinctly
different from those who work for, or receive funds from, the Port
of Olympia. They see the Marine Terminal as one of the big
pistons that drive Thurston County’s economic engine. They
shower us with facts, figures, charts and statistics in order to
validate their assertion that the terminal bestows upon us a
bounty of invaluable benefits.

These include five-hundred and sixty-four jobs “associated” with
the terminal (that means some are essentially part-time). They
point to a $135,000 annual profit as proof of the terminal’s health
… if you don’t count “depreciation” and pretend equipment and
buildings last forever, or that a profit margin of a few thousandths
of a percent on “business revenue” of $33,000,000 is laudatory.

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

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

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

The Marine Terminal is a vestige of Thurston County’s industrial
past. Over the ninety-five years since the Port of Olympia was
formally chartered, that era has vanished. The peninsula once
hosted thirty lumber mills, five shingle mills, a veneer factory, a
cannery and numerous ship builders.

It was a busy, productive place with plenty of living wage jobs that
generated big ripples in the local economy.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to close the books on the Marine Terminal and develop
the peninsula to the benefit of all. Surround it with marinas and
other maritime uses, provide access to Budd Inlet for all citizens
of Thurston County, create housing for those who want to reurbanize

and turn the un-peopled port of today into a

vibrant neighborhood that contributes in a meaningful way to the
economic and cultural health of our community.

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

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

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The men behind the Fourth of July

June 27th, 2022 by Ken

While it’s not popular in some circles, to tout the Founding Fathers, but with the Fourth of July close by, I think we should take a moment and reflect on the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and what they suffered as a result.

Of the 56 men who signed the document, nine fought and died in the Revolutionary War.  Five were captured, tortured and executed.

Many of them lost children during the war and suffered other hardships.  The men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their scared honor – gave all.  So, what kind of men were they.

Twenty-four of them were lawyers, 11 were merchants, nine were farmers and plantation owners.  They were all men of means (and as some have pointed out slave-owners).  But they all signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that if the revolution failed, it would mean death for them.

Carter Braxton of Virginia was a wealthy planter and trader.  His ships were sunk or confiscated by the British Navy.  After the war he was forced to sell his home and property to pay his debts,  He died penniless.

Thomas McKean was hounded by the British army and was forced to stay constantly on the move.  His house, lands and other possessions were taken by the British.  He died in poverty.

At the Battle of Yorktown – Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British had taken over his home and used it as their headquarters.  He urged General Washington to fire on the house and it was destroyed.

Vandals, soldiers, looters and others destroyed the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walston, Winnett, Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton – – all signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Francis Lewis lost his wife and child who died in a British prison.  John Hart lost his wife and children in the war.

When we hear these tales, we realize that pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor met more than just words on a paper.  We need to realize that the celebration we undertake this week is more than just fireworks and barbeques.   Lets take a few minutes this holiday to remember those men and their families.


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What is the purpose of a city?

June 19th, 2022 by Ken

What is is that makes living in Lacey unique and different?

Recently, “Livability”, a national web page, named Lacey as one of the top 100 cities in the United States in which to live.  Actually, it named Lacey 75th best in the entire country.

Those of us who have lived her for decades have our own ideas of why we love our community.

Every city exists for three reasons – – Security – Transportation- Quality of Life.  Lets take them one at a time.  Though recent events would say otherwise, Lacey is still a safe and secure community in which to live.  While adjacent cities have a significant homeless problem, Lacey has handled the situation fairly well.  Our police force is well-trained, professional and well-paid.  Members of Lacey’s police department are the highest paid city police force in the state, second only to Seattle.  In the near future, voters in Lacey are going to be asked to approve a bond issue to build a new police station.

Lacey has some of the newest and best streets in the county.  The increase in growth and the increase in traffic, has forced Lacey to come up with unique ways of accommodating the thousands of cars which fill city streets.  When new housing developments are built, the contractor pays for road and street improvements.  New traffic roundabouts have improved the flow of traffic and keeps it moving.  Traffic signals have been set to respond to increased traffic flows at peak hours.   And, in a unique arrangement decided several decades ago, the city sets aside money every year to renovate neighborhood streets.   In addition, the city works with national and state agencies to help improve access and egress to Interstate Five.

It’s in the area of Quality of Life where Lacey stands out.  Lacey is home to St. Martin’s University.  The city and the college have a great relationship and the city is currently working with St. Martins on a new baseball facility.  Sports and sports facilities are a major part of Lacey’s  past.  Creation of the Regional Athletic Facility (RAC) has put the city in the forefront of athletics and attracts teams and tournaments from around the state.  At the same time, the city has not forgotten the taxpayers who funded the operation.  Local teams and local residents have priority in all RAC usage.

Quality of Life also centers around supporting those who served in our armed forces.  The Lacey Veteran’s HUB is a well-known and well-respected facility that serves the needs of all veterans.  And, most of the staff are volunteers and many of them veterans themselves.

As a relatively new city, Lacey has done a great job of preserving its heritage.  The city hosts the only museum in Thurston County opened and staffed on a regular basis.  It has just completed a replica of the original train station and is in the process of building a new museum.  When completed, the museum will not only preserve and protect the Lacey community’s history, but will also serve as a cultural center to highlight the many people who have settled here and made Lacey the most diverse city in Thurston County.

And, lets not forget the many parks and open spaces in the city.  While the RAC and the museum are all part of the parks system, Lacey has more park land than any other city in our area.  It’s the city’s goal to have neighborhood parks in all areas of the city, in addition to regional parks which provide opportunity for larger venues and larger activities.

There are many other qualities of life in addition to the ones mentioned, but there is still work to be done.

Stay tuned for information on the future of Lacey.

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Recollections of a Greener

May 24th, 2022 by Ken

(As the school year ends, and The Evergreen State College is still around.  I thought it might be interesting for a student’s perspective on that first year 1971.  Here’s mine.)

Resent research shows that memory at its best is only 70 percent accurate and the further away from the event the less you recall accurately.  With that in mind, here goes my recollection of Evergreen’s first year of operation from a half century later.

I was enrolled in a coordinated studies program called “Causality, Freedom and Chance”.  Its purpose was to explore the idea of “free will”.  Did man really have free will?

We were given our list of reading material in advance of the college’s opening in the fall of 1971.  It appeared we had around 100 students and four (or five) faculty members.

The campus wasn’t ready for opening.  All of the dorms had not been completed and some students were staying at an apartment complex called Village Capri off campus in West Olympia.  I lived off-campus and wasn’t impacted.  The main building on campus was the Library building, which would contain most of the college activities.  The first and second floors contained the library and classrooms while the third floor was college administration and the top floor contained the cafeteria and other admin facilities.  I’m not certain if the lecture hall and student union building were open during that first year but were open for sure by the second year.

Because classrooms weren’t ready, we spent the first week of class on a small island just off of Fox Island.  All faculty and all students were to work together, get to know each other and spend time discussing our readings.  There were two rooms for sleeping and an area for food service.  Most of us slept outside for the few days in sleeping bags, around campfires with guitars and smoors, with an occasional toke.

It was during the height of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Women’s Movement.  Both events cast an impact on our studies.  When we began unloading supplies from the ferry that took us to the island, the men (boys) created a chain and began moving supplies from the waterfront to the main building.  The women (girls) were standing around watching.   I shouted out at the top of my lungs “I thought you women wanted to be equal, why aren’t you helping?”  A few of the girls started moving towards the line and very quickly, almost all of them were helping carry supplies.

Most of the students were in their late teens, just out of high school.  I was 29, had a wife and a kid and was a military veteran of nearly six years in the service.  I became the leader, because of  my decade of maturity over most of the group, but I was out of step with the tenor of the students.

Because the classrooms still weren’t ready, we spent our second week in the House Chambers of the Legislative Building.  I think we only met twice that week but we did discuss our readings when we finally began to accept our new classroom space.

By late October, we were ready to move into our classrooms.  Each sub-group of about 20 students and one faculty advisor were give a home classroom.  The chairs were all wrapped in plastic and tied together with plastic zip ties.  The classroom phone was still sitting in a box under the outlet, waiting to be installed.  Because the chairs were all wrapped up, some of the students sat on the floor in a small circle, which became larger the more people joined.  Soon we had one large circle around the whole room.  Our faculty advisor initially stood in the center, before he too sat down and began the instructions.  That was our normal classroom style for the whole year, even after the chairs had been unpacked.

The next few weeks are uncounted for in my memory, but we did have seminars with other groups and other faculty members.  We took field trips to farms to study natural growth, visited a lab to examine fruit flies, read books after books and wrote paper after paper.

I found I was a fairly good writer and organized a writing group within our class with the intention of reading each others papers and giving feed back.

My attention soon became focused on The Paper Cooperative which had created a student newspaper called “The Paper.”  I wrote several articles for the paper and decided  I had come upon my profession.  We finished that first year out.

I was signed up to do a contracted study group for the next school year with an emphasis on journalism.  A month before school was to start, I was informed that my professor had been deported for running guns for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and I had to scramble to find something to replace it.  I managed to get an internship at “The Olympia News” and found myself a sponsor.  I spent the whole school year of 72-73 working as an intern for two local weekly newspapers.

I did a contracted studies program over Christmas Vacation to fulfill my attendance requirements and graduated in the summer of 73.

During my time at Evergreen I was selected as the student representative to the Board of Trustees and later become the Vice President of the Evergreen Alumni Association.   In later years I worked at the college in the college relations office and taught a class in journalism.  I also spent time at advisor to the school newspaper.



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They’re all gone now

May 20th, 2022 by Ken

They’re all gone now.  All of the toys and all of the items that brought him so much pleasure – – his truck, his motor home, his boat, even his wheelchair – that he wheeled to the end of his driveway every day and watched the world go by.

They’re all gone now – – except for the flag – – the flag that he flew night and day – and the flag that he had fought for – in one of those foreign wars – – the war that left him confined to the wheel chair.

He sat in his driveway every day – rain or shine – wearing the marks of his service on his jacket, on his cap and on his face.  He seldom talked about the war, but it was obvious that its remnants had a major impact on him.

For years I watched him grow older.  I watched as his toys sat unused.  I watched as the neighborhood visitors grew fewer.  I watched as his flag became more tattered.  And I watched as he slowly slipped away.

But, his flag is still flying.  Like him, it is slowly deteriorating and will eventually be taken down.  Until then, I salute it every time I walk by – – in his memory.

(Dedicated to Steve and all Veterans)

(The above story is in my new book “A Storyteller’s Story”.  PM me on how you can get a copy of the book.)


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