Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Gratitude Campaign

Someone recently sent these to me, and I want to share them with all of you. Just click on the links in the explanation.

If you appreciate our men and women in the service, but either don't know how, or feel awkward about expressing your feelings of appreciation for what they do, this is for you. It's called The Gratitude Campaign — and believe it or not, it started in Seattle.

The second is a short, 5-minute film from Tony Robbins called "The 12 Tenets." As you start to think about what you want to accomplish in 2008, it's important to embrace why you're doing it. This short, but interesting movie may serve as food for thought.

Here's wishing all of you a Happy New Year. May all your hopes and dreams come true.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Observations From The Heartland

Greetings from Foley, Alabama... Huh? Where? Alabama — you mean you actually went there on purpose? Well, yes...

Foley is a little town adjacent to Gulf Shores, a major resort area on what's come to be known as the "Redneck Riviera." That's the beachfront strip along the Gulf of Mexico that runs from about Panama City, Florida, to somewhere near Biloxi, Mississippi. It's actually quite nice here.

Dee, Bryce and I are visiting some family and taking some well-deserved R&R after the election, and right on its heels, publication of the December issue of the KItsap Peninsula Business Journal and the Winter issue of WestSound Home & Garden. It seems we escaped just in time to miss all the bad weather, snow, flooding, etc. I'll be going from here to Scottsdale, Arizona where we have a condo, and attending two automotive test drive events.

I'll be doing an intro event for the restyled 2009 Nissan Murano on Wednesday and Thursday, and going from the resort where we'll be staying, to the condo for four days, and then off to another resort for Mitsubishi's Introduction of the 2009 Lancer Evo, which we'll driving on the road race course at Phoenix Firebird Raceway.
Yeah, I know this is tough duty, but someone has to do this. Might as well be me :)

Some observations on the difference between attitudes here, and at home...

It began on the airplane, before we left Seattle. We were flying on Delta Airlines, which is based in Atlanta. The flight attendant, before doing the inane demonstration of how to buckle your seat belt, made an announcement saying, "We want to thank all of the members of the United State's military that we have on board today for your service to our country. We sincerely appreciate all you do, and we are honored to have you as our guests."

That announcement was met with a hearty round of applause that went on for well over a minute. That same announcement took place on the connecting flight to Pensacola, and received the same kind of response. I was also on a Delta Flight to Memphis and back just recently, via Atlanta, and the same thing took place. On flights on other airlines, such as Alaska and Northwest, I've not witnessed anything like that. But it made me smile and be proud I had a small part in saying "Thank You" to the men and women of our military.

When we arrived in both Atlanta and Pensacola, the first thing we noticed were Christmas Trees — not "Holiday Trees." The words "Merry Christmas" appear everywhere — in the airports, in stores, on TV, billboards and readerboards. No one is afraid to say "Merry Christmas."

There are American flags everywhere. On our way from the airport, we came into a town called Robertsdale. Lining the streets for literally miles, were what seemed to be a couple thousand people. We stopped to ask them what was going on, and someone answered, "The Big Christmas Parade." I couldn't help but notice it wasn't the "Holiday Parade."

On the lighter side, we went to dinner at a local seafood house, and on the tables, were stand-up cards saying "We proudly fry with Crisco Professional." I defy you to find something that anywhere in the politically correct Northwest. Also, one of the local papers, which is the equivalent of the Seattle Weekly or The Stranger, is called the Mullet Wrapper.

And of course no visit to the south would be complete without visiting that renowned fine dining establishment, The Waffle House. If you've ever been to one, you know exactly what I mean. And as usual, the show was every bit as good as the food, but that's another story for another time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mike Kriedler and R-67

Am I the only one who believes it was totally and completely unethical for Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler to not only come out and publicly endorse R-67, but to be the public spokesman for it as well?

What brings this up is the fact I received an invitation to the Washington State Democratic Party's annual "Holiday Party," so I could join in and honor Kriedler, "For the outstanding leadership he demonstrated on behalf of consumers during the R-67 campaign."

Yeah, right...


The fact that R-67 should have been named the Trial Lawyers Full Employment Act aside, in my view, Kriedler abused his office and betrayed the public trust by endorsing a measure that would have a definite financial impact on the companies he is elected to regulate. No matter how you felt about R-67, for Kriedler to be the mouthpiece for this initiative was not only a major conflict of interest, it was just flat out wrong. To honor him for blatantly betraying the public trust is like rewarding a terrorist for saving lives because his suicide bomb failed to detonate.

Kriedler's policies as Insurance Commissioner are the main reason we only have a handful of health insurance providers left doing business in this state, and have directly resulted in the enormous healthcare cost burden we all face.

He's blatantly anti-business. Don't think so? Here's an example of his "leadership." Title insurance companies can no longer donate to non-profit community organizations — or anything else for that matter — without risking a minimum $10,000 fine. Kriedler even went as far as fining one title insurance company for sending flowers to the funeral of one of its clients who passed away. Did he think that client was going to be unduly influenced to send future business their way, or what?

And let's not forget the KPS giveaway. Kriedler "sold" KPS — which was profitable and well on the road to full financial recovery, to his former employer Group Health. What essentially happened, was Group Health took $19 million dollars out of one pocket, put it in another marked "KPS," and took ownership of the company. In reality, KPS didn't cost Group Health one red cent. It acquired all of its assets — including the money it had in the bank, all its reserves for paying claims (which could be deducted from the $19 million total it used to "buy" KPS), all its policyholder business, and the headquarters building at 400 Warren Avenue in Bremerton. Talk about a sweetheart deal...

Its time for a new Insurance Commissioner — one with ethics — and certainly one who understands Economics 101.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gregoire And The One Percent Limit

The Washington State Supreme Court has once again demonstrated its elitist contempt for the voters of this state by insulting our intelligence and overturning Tim Eyman’s I-747. Its rationale was that we voters are too stupid to understand what we passed by a landslide back in 2001 — in spite of the fact it more than likely kept a much stronger tax revolt at bay as property values soared in recent years.

That certainly created a serious election-year dilemma for our esteemed Governor, Christine Gregoire — who has never seen a tax she didn’t support — and said previously she’d like to increase the one percent limit imposed by we voters.

The ink wasn’t even dry on the Supreme Court ruling before her 2008 Republican opponent, former State Senator Dino Rossi, immediately called upon the governor to convene a special one-day session of the legislature to reinstate the one percent lid — much the way former Governor Gary Locke did in 2000, instituting $30 car tabs after the court handed down its decision invalidating I-695. But Gregoire stonewalled Rossi’s call for almost three weeks, leaving taxpayers at risk for big local increases. “The incumbent is not leading, she is reacting — and slowly,” Rossi chided.

Right after the Supreme Court ruling, Gregoire minimized the situation, saying she would work with lawmakers to re-impose a limit, without giving a specific number, and creating the impression she was open to something more than one, but less than six percent.

As late as June of last year, Gregoire pushed a compromise increase, stating six percent begins taxing people out of their homes (conveniently neglecting to mention it also doubles the amount of taxation every 12 years), but insisting that in spite of continually escalating property values, one percent forces cutbacks on local services.

The political reality is any compromise on the percentage is a no-win for Gregoire, who barely beat Rossi in 2004 — and as we all know, under highly questionable circumstances. If Gregoire and the Democrats passed even a two percent cap they’ll be crucified in the court of public opinion for doubling property taxes.

The Friday after Election Day, Rossi and the Republicans were spinning themselves as champions of the taxpayers. Tim Eyman, fresh from his I-960 victory, was bombastically crowing, “People are in no mood to compromise. They’re ready to rip politicians’ lungs out.” So Gregoire issued a four-sentence e-mail saying — for the very first time — she supported a one percent cap.

“The voters approved Initiative 747, it has been in place for five years and I think we need to leave it in place,” she said. She reportedly later told the AP — with a straight face — that’s been her position for the past year. Perhaps she should have gone public much sooner, because that’s the very first time anyone ever heard her say that.

What provoked Gregoire into action, was the fact the old six percent law went back into effect. Numerous local taxing districts had “banked” unused taxing authority, and several King County taxing districts quickly moved to use it, ignoring Gregoire’s lame request not to.

Kitsap County Commissioner Chair Josh Brown also floated a trial balloon hinting Kitsap might look at increasing property taxes as well, but cooler, more experienced heads, prevailed.

In spite of the myriad of special interest Democratic constituencies pressuring the governor for an increase while the door was open, Gregoire was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. While Democrats detested Rossi and Eyman dictating Olympia’s agenda and its timing, they couldn’t risk their supermajorities in both houses next fall either. Openly challenging the clear will of the voters was simply an unacceptable risk.

Crediting voters with a gullibility factor between 7 and 8 on a scale of 10, Democrats cranked up their spin machine to put the best PR face on the situation. The KPBJ received identically-worded press releases from every Democratic House member in the 23rd, 26th and 35th Districts telling us how they were listening to the voters and supported Gregoire’s efforts. Only the names were changed. It deserves to be noted that 26th District Senator Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) came out for restoring the one percent cap almost as soon as the Supreme Court decision was announced.

Republicans running for election in 2008 will leverage the very real fear of even higher taxes. If Gregoire does prevail next November — which polling indicates is far from certain right now — in spite of re-imposing the cap, there’s nothing except an unlikely Gregoire veto preventing a Democratic-controlled 2009 legislature from increasing it.

But just once, wouldn’t you love to see a political leader step up and do what’s right — without political considerations — for NO other reason than because it IS the right thing to do? In my view, that’s what true leadership is all about.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Answering A Couple Of Questions...

Two questions I continue to be asked are whether or not I will resume writing my Business Journal column, and this blog.

The answers are "Yes," and "Yes."

My Business Journal column, "The Last Word," will resume with the December issue. Since the beginning of the campaign, I have invited guest writers to use that space to express their viewpoints on issues that matter. However, I will once again be dispensing my own brand of commentary. And with access to information I didn't have previously, that commentary should be more pointed and direct, but I'll also be in a better position to explain some other issues that appear different on the surface than they are in reality. It will be a win-win situation for our readers.

I will also resume writing this blog as an ongoing, and more timely political commentary than my print column allows — with new entries a couple of times a week.

I've truly missed writing at this level, and look forward to getting started once again. A tip of the hat and a sincere "Thank You" to all who have expressed their desire to read what I have to say once again.

One Week To Go — But Hey, Who's Counting?

I can't believe it's almost Election Day. It's exactly one week away.

There is SO much that's happened and SO much I have to be grateful for, I'm not sure where to start.

I will say this - I'm ready for it to be over. Doing this has been all-consuming - much like when I have launched new publications in the past. You eat, sleep and drink it, 24/7. I get frustrated because at this point in time, there isn't too much to do except wait. The ballots have been out for two weeks; there are no debate opportunities left; no groups I haven't already spoken to; and while I continue doorbelling, I keep running into people who say, "I already voted for you." I know, that's a good problem to have.

I just feel like there's something more I should be doing...

I had originally planned on taking some time off right after the election, but because of deadlines in our business, won't be able to. However, I will be heading south for a little break in early December with my family, and then will take a few days off to go to Phoenix for an automotive press event, and will take a couple of days on either side of that.

I look forward to coming back refreshed, rested and ready to hit the ground running.

See you on Election Night — 7 to 9 p.m. at Amy's On The Bay.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thank You!

I have to say that I am truly humbled and extremely grateful to the voters in Port Orchard for last night's primary election victory. I believe the disparity in the numbers, (58+ percent vs.27 percent for the nearest opponent) is very telling in that it shows how hungry the people of Port Orchard are for new leadership, for a new direction for our city, and to begin the work of moving us forward. This wasn't a victory for me — it was one for ALL of the citizens of Port Orchard.

Now that the primary is over, the real work will begin. During the primary, I knocked on over 1,000 doors in an attempt to personally introduce myself to the voters and ask what their concerns are. I learned a lot, and quite frankly, modified some of my positions on issues — like the downtown height limits — because the voters made their feelings very clear to me. I see the Mayor's job as representing the will of the voters, not forcing my personal opinions on them.

In the time between now and the general election, we will continue to knock on doors, and attempt to personally talk with each and every voter. We will also be re-canvassing the areas already visited. Our strategy all along has been to campaign like we were 20 points behind. That won't change. Hard work is what's going to win this election for us — and that victory will be a win for ALL of Port Orchard.

Please accept my personal "Thanks" for your vote, and for your confidence in me. I won't let you down.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Plan to Revive Downtown

It's no big secret that our downtown area has been in decline for some years. As I've been out doorbelling, the single most asked question has been, "What are you going to do about our downtown?"

I'm putting the finishing touches on a proposed marketing plan for the downtown business core. I've run this by a number of the merchants there, and they have all seemed to agree it's a solid strategy that will work. Here's the Cliff Notes version, but after you read it, I'd like your feedback.

I believe we need to leverage our biggest asset downtown, which is obviously the marina. The Port of Bremerton has done a study showing the average boater spends $165 per day of moorage. The problem we have, is not enough spending opportunities for the kinds of things those boaters want and need when they're in port.


What I'm proposing is that we market downtown
as a destination — the "Marina District" or something like that — and do it in much the same way a shopping mall is packaged. First come the "anchors." In a mall situation, that's Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears, etc. What we'll use for anchors are the kinds of businesses the boaters need — a grocery store, a marine supply store, a liquor store, etc. From there, we go out and actively recruit the kinds of businesses that are a good, long term "fit" in terms of downtown tourism, shopping, and serving the needs of both visiting and local boaters.

We do that by establishing a marketing committee comprised of representatives from the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, and the Chamber, along with an accountant to do the numbers and make a solid business case for the folks we'll be recruiting, and the mayor acting as the chief salesman, head cheerleader, and running interference with the city bureaucracy if necessary — which by then, will be operating with an entirely new, business-friendly attitude. After all, leadership and attitude do come from the top.

I had a meeting this week with a potential grocery store operator — two fellows who own a successful grocery store in another location. I had earlier called Monsour Samadpour, the owner of six buildings downtown, and he connected me with his representative here. We showed these two grocers three different sites — two belonging to Mr. Samadpour and one in the Coe Building on the corner of Sidney and Bay St. We then had lunch at Amy's with the two owners of the store, a commercial Realtor, and Amy. A couple of downtown merchants also stopped by to answer questions and help "sell" these fellows on Port Orchard.

We learned some invaluable things from this meeting that will help us with landing other potential merchants. Those include:
• The two gentleman we met with agreed our basic marketing plan is a good one that should work.
• They agreed the potential for a successful 9,000 to 12,000 square foot grocery store exists downtown.
• F
or a grocery store to be successful, the parking situation needs to be addressed at two of the three locations.
• In their view, downtown IS going to be revitalized. It's simply a case of "when" not "if."
• Redevelopment of downtown, which will bring more residents to the area, will only increase the chances of success.

While I didn't expect we would sign them on the dotted line during this initial meeting,
I'm encouraged by the results of our first effort. We will continue to work on this and keep you posted. I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Breaking News!

I just received a phone call from Clark Mather, Congressman Norm Dicks' local liaison, telling me we have received Norm's endorsement.

Pretty cool, huh?

I'm both thrilled as well as humbled and grateful.

The Campaign Trail — Volume Two

Doorbelling continues to go well. Our message seems to be resonating well with the people I've been able to meet at their door. The biggest issue is catching people at home to talk to. Our Web site is attracting a lot of traffic as well, and will be updated again shortly, showing our new TV commercials which will begin airing on Wave Cable next week.
I was out of town a couple of times in the past two weeks on automotive adventures. The first was the Northwest Automotive Press Association's (NWAPA) annual "Run To The Sun" event, where we drove 18 different vehicles — including the 2008 Dodge Viper, ZO6 Corvette, and Audi R8 among others. The first day we did a drive loop from the Airport Radisson out to the coast, via places like Yelm, Pe Ell and Bucoda, while the second day we did the Olympic Peninsula Loop out to Lake Cresent, down the coast through Forks and Klaloch, to Aberdeen and then back to the Radisson.

The second event was the press intro of the new Infiniti G37 Coupe. VERY sweet ride — and much improved and refined over what was already a great little car. Luckily for me, it was actually held in Seattle, so I only really missed one doorbelling day since the normal two travel days for these types of events consisted of a ferry ride for me — not a plane trip.

I had committed to both events some time ago — well in advance of the campaign getting underway — and hated missing my doorbelling time. I was feeling guilty being gone, knowing I should be out putting up signs and knocking on doors. At least the Infiniti event gave me some of the time back. I also have four others on tap between now and election day in November, including the new Mercedes S550 intro in McCall Idaho, a Nissan event in San Diego, the new Volvo XC70 intro in Montana in September, and NWAPA's annual Mudfest event which pits all the new SUVs against each other, head-to head, on and off road, in October.

But back to the campaign...
I was saddened to learn this morning that one of the mayoral candidates was involved in a financial issue 11 years ago at OC. While this could be construed as "good news" for me, it just makes me sad to see attention to the real issues in the campaign — public safety, economic development, downtown, etc. — being diverted away to this kind of thing. Everyone makes mistakes in life. You put them behind you and you move on. We've all done it. I believe what we've done, — good and bad — and what we've learned from it, makes us what we are.

I say, let's focus on today's issues and let the past be just that — the past.

All three of us will be debating twice this coming Tuesday — the first time at Port Orchard Rotary at 7:15 a.m. (LaGarmache) and again at South Kitsap Rotary, (Puerta Vallarta) at 11:45. Should be interesting. Hope to see you there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hokey Pokey

A. J. Weldon, a good of mine from High School in Florida, and with whom I later went through the electrician's apprenticeship with, sent me this bit of humor this evening. It's too good not to share.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Larry LaPrise (Roland Lawrence LaPrise, born: 11 November, 1912, in Detroit, Michigan, died: 4 September, 1996, in Gooding, Idaho) holds the U.S. copyright for the song Hokey Pokey.

LaPrise reportedly wrote the song in the late 1940s for the apr├Ęs-ski crowd at a club in Sun Valley, Idaho. The song was first recorded by his group the Ram Trio (with Charles Macak and Tafit Baker) in 1949. They were awarded U.S. copyright in 1950.

After the group broke up in the 1960s, LaPrise worked for the Post Office in Ketchum, Idaho.

The authorship of the Hokey Pokey is disputed, with British/Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy claiming to have written the original (entitled Cokey-Cokey) during WWII. Robert Degan sued LaPrise for copyright infringement of his 1946, The Hokey-Pokey Dance. They settled out of court.

See article Hokey Pokey for a more comprehensive account of the various competing theories attending the origin of the song and dance both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

After LaPrise's death, the following joke circulated on the Internet, comparing the Hokey Pokey to the process of placing LaPrise in his coffin.

Sad News

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at the age of 83.

The most traumatic part was getting him into his coffin.

First, they put his left leg in. And that's when all the trouble started...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Sincere Condolances

No matter how you felt about the NASCAR initiative, this is a sad day.

Lesa France Kennedy, president of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), lost her husband today in a plane crash in Sanford, Florida. The Business Journal received the following press release this morning.

“This morning, at approximately 8:40 a.m. Eastern Time, a Cessna 310 registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau, Inc. of Daytona Beach, crashed in a Sanford, Florida, area neighborhood. At this time, we can confirm there were two people on-board, including the pilot, Dr. Bruce Kennedy and Michael Klemm, a senior captain with NASCAR Aviation. Both were killed in the crash. “Dr. Kennedy was the husband of NASCAR Board Member and ISC President Lesa France Kennedy.

“It is clear that numerous families were affected by this terrible tragedy and unfortunately several people were deceased or seriously injured. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with all of those who were involved in this tragic accident and their families. We will provide additional information as it becomes available."


I met Lesa France Kennedy on a number of occasions related to ISC's attempt to build a NASCAR track here. She is a genuinely nice woman, with a very relaxed style. I found her very easy to talk with, quick to laugh, and quite charming and engaging. I also met her husband more than once and thought he was a pretty nice guy as well. It was obvious he doted on her, and was secure in his own persona — which considering the entire atmosphere which engulfed their lives, could become easy to get swallowed up in — and wasn't at all intimidated by any of it.

This is the second tragic death for Lesa in the past 30 days. Her father, NASCAR legend Bill France, passed away just a couple of weeks ago.

My heart goes out out to Lesa. If you're so inclined, I hope you'll say a prayer for her tonight.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Campaign Trail, Volume One

I've spent the past couple of weeks doorbelling — doing a minimum of 50 doors a day, and usually more.

There are a number of common threads emerging — or at least those that are city issues.

Downtown Port Orchard is far and away at the very top of the list. Local voters are
demanding action. This should be good news for the businesses down there, but could spell trouble for a couple of incumbent city council candidates. The most frequently asked question: "Why can't we be more like Poulsbo or Gig Harbor?" Several have mentioned Monterey and Sausalito as comparables to aspire to as well. The fact we are a waterfront jewel just waiting to be polished, isn't lost an anyone.

Our top priority issue of public safety has resonated extremely well — especially among young families wanting information about sex offenders and where they are located. There are online tools available to law enforcement detailing their locations, and Police Chief Al Townsend is anxious to put these in place. I've also had a number of residents talk to me about a couple of specific locations of meth trafficking, which I've passed on to our PD.

I've come to realize how economically disadvantaged our community is. It's MUCH worse than I ever imagined. There's a huge dichotomy between those of comfortable means, the middle class, and those who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Something else that's become very apparent is that there is a LOT of lingering anger about the rejection of NASCAR — at least in this end of the county. I've had more than one voter ask me as I've stood on their doorstep, point blank, where I stood on this. To a person, they swore they would vote against EVERY politician who was against it. Larry — You wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist is going to face the brunt of this wrath — IF he even runs for re-election. From what i can see, this issue could make the difference between him and a credible Republican winning that seat.

Anyway, that's it for now, but I will be posting regular updates as I continue doorbelling and let you know what the pulse of the community is.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thoughts On Running For Mayor

It’s been an unusual few weeks for me since the last major posting here, which has included two rounds of eye surgery, dealing with two family deaths in three months, as well as embarking on a major political journey. In case you aren’t aware, after a brief flirtation with a legislative run last year, I’ve decided to run for Mayor of Port Orchard.

I’ve lived in South Kitsap since moving here from South Florida in 1975. I started my business in Port Orchard in 1979, and lived on Long Lake for about nine years before moving to Manchester in 1986. Deciding to do this about a year and half ago, I moved into the city early last year and have purchased a residence here.

So why do I want to be mayor?

Frankly, I’m worried about the future of the city and what it means for the long-term safety of my family, my business, my investments here, but most of all, what it means for the future of my 3-year old grandson Bryce, whom Dee and I are raising.

I want for Bryce to want to come home to Port Orchard when he graduates from college. But for that to happen, there needs to be something for him to come home to — family wage jobs and affordable housing for example — not to mention being a safe place for him to live and to raise his family. None of that exists today.

Quite frankly, in surveying the local political landscape, I don’t see anyone else stepping up that has the absolute unbridled passion about the future of Port Orchard that I do.

The mayor’s race is non-partisan. Considering how much I've managed to piss off both parties writing about them over the years, that's probably a good thing for me — and was a major consideration in my decision. However, I’ve been extremely encouraged by the high level of bipartisan support I’ve received since I began sharing my intentions with people about a year ago.

Since announcing publicly a couple of weeks ago, that support has blossomed with endorsements across the political spectrum from groups as diverse as the traditionally Democratic Kitsap County Central Labor Council, Retired Government Employees of Kitsap, and Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, to high-profile Republicans like Dino Rossi, Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro and County Commissioner Jan Angel. My kick off event included a highly diverse group of 227 people — and campaign contributions from people of all political beliefs from the most conservative to the extremely liberal. It was an extremely pleasant surprise.

My goal is for Port Orchard to become the safest city in Washington to live, raise your family and own a business.

Without going into a lot of detail, we’re raising Bryce as a direct result of the city’s drug and crime problem. We also know, as grandparents, we're not alone in this situation. In spite of the Port Orchard Police Department doing a great job with its very limited resources, in recent years we’ve gone from having one of the lowest crime rates for cities our size, to 6th highest in the state for violent crime. For Port Orchard to have a higher per capita violent crime rate than Seattle, I believe is simply unacceptable.

I’d like to implement new ideas such as using the RICO statue to encourage building owners not to allow drug activity on their properties, as well as Police Chief Al Townsend’s suggestion to adopt a crime-free multi-housing ordinance similar to the one being used very successfully in Lakewood and Tacoma.

On the business front, it’s been proven lowering crime rates positively impacts a city’s ability to attract families and new businesses to the community. Putting more cops on the street will not only reduce our crime rate, but spur economic development as well.

It only takes a walk down Bay Street to realize what needs to improve in Port Orchard. Developers are lining up to buy downtown buildings and redevelop the last, reasonably priced waterfront in the Puget Sound region. Residents are understandably concerned, yet many still don’t realize that development isn't the cause of growth, but is the response to its consumer demand.

Whether we like or not, change is inevitable. Responsibly managing that change within the narrow confines of the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) is our key challenge. However, we’re only going to have one opportunity to get it right!

The GMA mandates accepting taller buildings and mixed-use redevelopment as a way to keep the expanding population within the confines of the Urban Growth Areas. Quality development along Bay Street of retail and shops at street level, with a variety of living spaces above, will help retain our small-town ambiance, while complying with the GMA and meeting the housing needs of a growing population.

As Bremerton has proven, urban parks make cities much more livable, and a more enticing place for business. I’d like to create desirable amenities by increasing the size of the existing park between the waterfront and Bay Street and expanding the Boardwalk from downtown to the Annapolis ferry terminal, as well as explore the possibility of building a conveniently located parking garage with a walkway to the downtown waterfront.

Annexation is another issue that must be addressed head-on. If Port Orchard doesn't deal with annexation and expanding the city's boundaries, we will become little more than a suburb of an aggressively expanding Bremerton with a shrinking tax base.


Also on my “To Do” list is upgrading the city’s Web site to make it possible to pay city bills (water, traffic fines, etc.) online. Interactive crime mapping and on-line reporting tools are available for municipal websites so citizens can report minor crimes. These also track where sex offenders are located and allow citizens easy access to this information.

There are a lot of other things I want to accomplish, but this isn’t meant to be a full-blown campaign piece. If you want to know more, visit www.electlary.com.

However, after writing my Business Journal column for more than 19 years, I’m going to take a sabbatical during the campaign. I believe it would be inappropriate to continue to observe and comment upon local politics while running for office. Beginning next issue, we will publish provocative guest editorials for the duration of the campaign. The guest editorials will continue until the election is decided. Contact me directly if you think you'd like to write one.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Remembering Bob Oke

I attended Senator Bob Oke's memorial service yesterday and was touched by the amount of true respect for the man that was shown by everyone from Governor Gregoire on down. It was also interesting — and very welcome — to see a kinder, gentler side of the governor than we're used to witnessing.

I admired Bob, and one of my fondest memories will always be of fishing in Carl Zimmer's annual salmon derby (remember those — back before the tribes gillnetted all the fish?) at Point No Point with Bob and friends Bill Parnell and Bill Hilton. It was a cold, rainy, windy day, and the three of us were convinced Hilton was going to blow his boat apart — again — only this time, with us in it. Without going into a lot of detail about Hilton and his boat, let's just say you had to be there.

I believe Gov. Gregoire put Bob’s contributions into the proper perspective at the memorial when she said, "Bob came to the Legislature dedicated to the people he served. He was concerned first and foremost about what was the right policy, not what was the right politics."

In the highly polarized political atmosphere that exists today, Bob’s brand of true statesmanship will be missed, but should serve as a shining example for all elected officials of what the term “public service” actually means.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Former Senator Bob Oke Passes Away

Former Republican State Senator Bob Oke of Port Orchard has passed away after a courageous and very public battle against a rare form of blood cancer. He died Monday night, losing his three-year fight against multiple myeloma, a cancer that weakens the bones by targeting plasma cells.

Oke, 66, served four, 4-year terms in the Senate. An unabashed conservative, he was well liked and highly respected by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle before the disease forced his retirement in January.

A 26-year Navy veteran, Oke was an avid outdoorsman who was recognized as a leader in the areas of natural resources and fisheries, and perhaps best known for his relentless efforts to combat youth smoking, as well as his unwavering support for a second Tacoma Narrows Bridge. At one point after his battle with cancer became public, Oke climbed one of the tower walkways to the top of the new bridge.

Oke had been very open about his struggles with the disease, and underwent two stem-cell transplants as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Those treatments helped him hold the disease in check for part of his final four-year term. Although he was absent for part of the 2005 session and sometimes used a wheelchair or cane to get around the capitol, he always kept his fellow legislators abreast of his illness and the progress of his various treatments.

“I have a picture of Bob and Judy on my desk, from the dedication ceremony of the Bob Oke Community Center at Long Lake. As I look at this, I can’t believe he’s gone,” said an emotional Commissioner Jan Angel. “He has truly been my mentor — a man of the highest integrity, devoted to the public’s service. He fought for his beliefs and always sported a smile and a positive attitude even through the toughest times. His strong faith and love of life have always given me personal strength.”

Oke, who was highly religious, received tributes in both 2005 and 2006 from his Senate colleagues, saying at one of the events, "A lot of prayer is needed, and I appreciate your support. You've always been there for me."

“I think our community and our state are better places because Bob Oke chose to serve,” said Senator Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor), the man who was elected to his seat when Oke retired. “He was the most devoted husband and devout man I’ve ever met. I’m convinced he’s in a better place.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Updates on Previous Postings

It's been a very busy week for me on a number of fronts, so I'm behind on several things. But I'm finally catching up. Here are some updates on a couple of previous postings...

South Kitsap Commissioner
I've previously published the names of a number of a number of people rumored to be interested in replacing Jan Angel when her seat becomes vacant next year. As of this writing, no Republicans have yet surfaced. Considering how badly the leadership of the local party has worked to alienate most moderates, that's not exactly a big surprise either.

However, one name I have heard mentioned within the past week by a couple of different people is Trent England.
He ran for a 26th District House seat last year and lost in the primary to Ron Boehme. I've not spoken personally with him, but I did come to believe he was perhaps the most qualified of all the candidates in that race — from either side — in terms of understanding the issues, the legislative process, and the needs of the district. And I also have to admit, at one point mistakenly attributing his aloofness to egotistical elitism, when in fact, it turns out he is simply extraordinarily shy.

However, in spite of what I've heard in recent days, Charlie Bermant from the Port Orchard Independent sent me a note today (Monday) which said, "
Trent England was the first person I called when I heard Jan was bailing, he said he was committed to the EFF (Evergreen Freedom Foundation). So I crossed him off the list."

Also, the 26th District Democrats' daily email had a blurb this morning saying Republican Kris Danielson, who is a member of the Human Rights Commission, was also eying the position.

On the Democratic side, rumor has them lining up to jockey for position, but who actually will toss their hats in the ring remains to be seen. Names advanced previously include:

• Monte Mahan According to sources close to him, he's still intending to explore the possibilities. Having worked closely with Monte for four years on the Planning Commission, I believe he's certainly competent enough to handle the job, and as a previous employee of the county he also has a unique insight into the culture inside the courthouse.
• Virgil Hamilton He told me he's more inclined to pursue running for Bill Eickmeyer's seat in the 35th than run for commissioner. A union leader who was active in the pursuit of NASCAR, he believes he can have a much more positive influence in the legislature than on the county commission.
Hamilton is well-liked and respected by the business community, and has done a good job of forging relationships with local business leaders. As a legislator, he'll also be able to enhance his already influential position as head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, as well as keep his day job as Business Manager of IBEW Local 46.
• Mike Davis The word on the street is that the former interim Sheriff and current Gig Harbor Chief of Police is very interested in the job, but his wife isn't all that excited about it. I wouldn't rule him out at this point. Personally, I also believe he'd make a stellar commissioner.
• Kim Abel — The current Port Orchard Mayor, who announced she wouldn't run for re-election, says she's going to wait on making a decision. I'm sure party support as well as possible primary opposition will enter into that decision — whatever it may be.
Terrie Battuello — We believe having someone float her name was a possible trial balloon to gauge reaction and possible support. She's been mum on the question and didn't respond to inquiries about her level of interest.

Chris Endresen's Departure — and Replacement
One of the final pieces of business under Chris Endresen's reign will be the repeal of the placeholder zoning for the NASCAR track to make sure the coffin is nailed shut. This will appease the vocal minority of opponents as well as make certain any other kind of economic development that could possibly take place in the county's primary area designated for industrial growth has to overcome hurdles high enough to prevent it.

So after almost 12 years in office, what will be Chris Endresen's legacy?


To many, in spite of numerous positive accomplishments, she will be best remembered for working diligently to chase away a Fortune 500 corporation hoping to bring
the second most popular sport in America, and the millions in revenue it generates, to our county. And let's not forget thumbing her nose at more than 35,000 local residents who signed petitions in favor of the track, and over 400 local businesses and civic organizations that supported it, as well as the labor unions. That, and leaving the county with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

But don't forget, there are people to whom that represents her crowning achievement.

Make no mistake, Endresen is a very smart politician, Because of NASCAR, she clearly understood organized labor was gearing up for an all-out assault against her (as well as Sherry Appleton, Pat Lantz and Larry — You wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist) in 2008. Endresen isn't moving on to a "better opportunity," she's bailing out while the getting is good.

As for her replacement...
Almost all of the people expected to be salivating for Endresen's job have taken themselves out of the running. Sherry Appleton, Christine Rolfes, Mary McClure, Katheryn Quade and several others have all declined to put their names forward. Two thoughts come immediately to mind as to why — the budget, and countywide electability in 2008 — especially considering the mobilization of angry pro-NASCAR forces which is
already underway.

Who we're left with are:
• Anti-growth activist Tom Nevins: I like Tom personally, and enjoy discussing politics with him. But in six years serving with him on the Planning Commission, I can't recall him ever voting in favor of anything that could possibly result in any kind of future development. He routinely either votes "no," abstains if he thinks he'll be on the losing side of a lopsided vote, or suggests some kind of delaying tactic such as Charlotte Garrido's infamous no action alternative, "studying" the issue.
• Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern: This is perhaps the most blatantly opportunistic bit of hypocrisy of this entire circus. For years Stern has bombastically railed against both political parties. Suddenly, out of the blue, he's insipired to pay his 25 bucks and declare he's always been a Democrat in his heart? What convenient timing. I'm sorry Ed, but I just have to call BS on you.
• County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson: Stephenson has seemingly gotten on the wrong side of a lot of the more liberal party regulars — many of whom suspect she's really a Republican in disguise — and that will hurt her chances. However, looking forward to 2008, she has also been elected countywide twice, and has no NASCAR baggage to deal with.
• Senator Phil Rockefeller: He could have the job IF he wants it. However, with the budget a major crisis, and the amount of pro-NASCAR anger he'll face running for re-election countywide in 2008, the question becomes, why would he?

By virtue of their private sector experience, both Stephenson and Stern are certainly more qualified for dealing with the most looming crisis, the budget — than Nevins or Rockefeller. Before being elected Treasurer, Stephenson was very successful banker. She retired, and later was tapped to run the local United Way, bringing in record-setting donations. Stern is an investment counselor that is known and recognized for his business acumen. Nevins is a retired teacher and an engineer. Rockefeller is/was a lawyer.

If it's Stephenson or Rockefeller, the Democrats will have to go through this entire selection process again to name a replacement. If it's Rockefeller, I'd look for Sherry Appleton to move up to Senator and a scramble ensue to replace her. But either way, we should know shortly who it will be. And since I have no particular insight — or political pipeline into the inner sanctum of the Democratic Party — all I can say is, "Stay Tuned."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Endresen To Resign June 28

Amid a lot of local speculation about whether or not she would seek a fourth term, County Commissioner Chris Endresen surprised everyone by announcing on April 29, that she will resign on June 28. According to initial reports published on the Port Orchard Independent, Kitsap Sun, and of course the Business Journal Web sites, Endresen has accepted a position as the State Director of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's office.

In her new position, Endresen will oversee five offices across the state — Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Everett and Tri-Cities, from her office in the Federal Building in downtown Seattle. She will reportedly oversee 18 people in those locations. She said she will continue to reside in Poulsbo and commute.

The 50-year-old Endresen is the current vice president of the Washington State Association of Counties (WASC), as well as representing Kitsap County on a myriad of local, regional and statewide boards and commissions. She is also a recent graduate of the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.

In March, two-term Republican Commissioner Jan Angel announced she wouldn't seek a third term. With Endresen out of the picture, 26-year old Democrat Josh Brown will become the county's senior commissioner. Angel and Brown, will appoint Endresen's replacement within five days of her resignation. If they can't agree, the appointment will be made by the governor.

Speculation now centers on who will be appointed to fill Endresen's position. Names that come immediately to mind are Mary McClure, who ran unsuccessfully against Matt Ryan, when it was exposed two days before the 1992 election that she borrowed a significant amount of money from an elderly couple and had never paid it back,. Perhaps, Poulsbo Mayor Katheryn Quade will be considered, and also a possibility is 23rd District representative Sherry Appleton.

Personally, I'd like to see County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson considered. She has the qualifications to deal with the upcoming budget crisis, considering her many years as a banker. However, I'm also certain Endresen's move comes as no surprise to Democratic Party insiders, and that a successor has already been chosen. It's simply a case of going through the motions at this point.

It also begs the question that with Endresen gone, will Angel reconsider?

More on this as it develops.

New Names Surface As Possible S.K. Commissioner Candidates

A couple of new names have surfaced as possible candidates for Jan Angel's county commission seat in 2008. As reported here on March 30, Angel said she will not run for re-election in 2008. Reported to be interested in the seat are Monty Mahan, son of former county commissioner and current Port of Bremerton commissioner Bill Mahan, and Virgil Hamilton, head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council. Also reported to be interested, but saying she won't make or announce a decision for a while yet, is Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, who did announce that she will not run for re-election as mayor this coming November.

Two new names surfaced earlier this week. Reader's here need to understand there is no confirmation from either at this point, and if and when there is, you'll read it here. Both have been contacted via email as of this posting, but with no return communication as of yet.

The first is Mike Davis — who is the police chief in Gig Harbor. He lives in McCormick Woods, and spent the majority of his career in the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. He worked as a detective under former Sheriff Pat Jones, and served as interim Sheriff between the time Jones retired on a disability leave, and the current Sheriff Steve Boyer was elected. Boyer beat Davis in that election. Davis is a straight shooter and a smart, personable guy that would make a great commissioner — if he did in fact decide to run. Kitsap county could do worse — a LOT worse.

The other name is Terrie Battuello. She has an impressive resume that includes her current job working as the economic development director in Edmonds. She is the former Public Information Officer and policy analyst for the county. She also served in a similar capacity under former Bremerton Mayor Louie Mentor. She is smart, resourceful, quick on her feet and has more on the ball than a lot of people who have never worked with her giver her credit for. Questions about Battuello wouldn't come from her qualifications, but from her relationship with Chris Endresen, and a possible conflict of interest between her as a commissioner, and the relationship her husband's company, Parametrix, with the county. Parametrix does quite a bit of business with the county already, but any future business with her as commissioner would certainly raise red flags within the business community — even if she recused herself from any votes that directly impacted impacted a Parametrix contract. Battuello is a Democrat, and with two other D's on the commission, and her close relationship with Endresen, a conflict of interest isn't a stretch.

Still no word on any Republicans considering the job...

Finally, Hamilton may take himself out of the running for commissioner to focus on a legislative position instead. It's no secret he — and the union people he represents — aren't happy with either Larry — you wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist, or Pat Lantz, for their cowardice over supporting NASCAR.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Books That Should Be Banned?

Banned Books Week is in September, but the American Library Association says each book listed below has been pulled from some library shelves in both schools and public libraries. I'm certain you will be surprised by the list and I hope you find it as troubling as I do. I mean why were Garfield and the dictionary deemed dangerous reading?

• The Adventures of Captain Underpants
• The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
• The Catcher in the Rye
• Garfield: His Nine Lives
• The Handmaiden's Tale
• Harry Potter (The Entire Series)
• Little Red Riding Hood
• Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
• To Kill a Mockingbird
Source: Parade Magazine

Meanwhile, on the same subject, this was posted on Sound Politics this morning...

A Bentonville, Ark., man is seeking $20,000 from the city after his two teenage sons found a book on lesbian sex on a public library bookshelf. He also wants the library director fired. Earl Adams said his 14- and 16-year-old sons were "greatly disturbed" after finding the book, titled "The Whole Lesbian Sex Book." Adams said the book caused "many sleepless nights in our house.

I'll bet it did.

I suppose there's a lesson here about being a little more aware of the world in which you live, and preparing your children to deal with that world no matter what belief system in which you're raising them. But for now I'm too busy laughing.
Oh, and the dad, "said the teenagers found it while browsing for material on military academies."

(Editor's Note: Bentonville, Arkansas is also the home of Wal-Mart)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Huff-Menees Named To Replace Dean Logan

Bremerton resident and former Kitsap County Auditor Sherril Huff-Menees has been named as the new King County elections director. She will report directly to King County Executive Ron Sims, who made the announcement on April 19.

Huff-Menees also previously worked as assistant director of the state lottery and as deputy mayor of Bremerton during Mayor Cary Bozeman’s first term, during the critical period that launched the revitalization of downtown. She had been serving most recently as an assistant administrator in the King County elections department before being tapped for the director’s job. Huff-Menees takes over as the successor to former Kitsap resident Dean Logan, who, demonstrating that the Peter Principle is still alive and well, quit last summer to accept a similar position in the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

It's no big secret that Huff-Menees mentored Logan and gave him his first taste of politics. I hope people won't hold that against her.

The buck stopped with Logan when it came to handing out blame for the screw-ups resulting in the legally contested 2004 governor’s election. That race saw Governor Christine Gregoire win a hand recount by 129 votes, after two previous machine recounts showed Republican Dino Rossi to be the clear winner. The controversy was centered in highly Democratic King County — the only county in the state where the elections director is a political appointee, and not chosen by popular vote. The problems included allegations of voter fraud, including supposedly previously uncounted ballots, problematic provisional ballots, as well as ballots found to be cast by convicted felons, dead voters, and homeless people registered by the Democratic Party, illegally using the King County Courthouse as their “home” address.

Because of all these "irregularities"
(isn't that a polite way to put it?) a lot of people — myself included — believe that King County Elections blatantly stole the election away from Rossi. Considering the spending binge the legislature's been on since Queen Christine has been governor — including hiring an additional 8,000 employees by the time the new budget is implemented — you have to wonder how much better off we'd be had Rossi actually been allowed to take office.

How long Huff-Menees will actually hold the position before King County voters get to decide who gets to keep the job, is a question mark. The King County Council has stated it intends to put a measure on the 2009 ballot that would allow voters to choose the elections director beginning in 2010. Meanwhile, a petition drive is currently under way to give that option to voters in November, setting up a possible February election. Huff-Menees declined to say whether she would campaign for the position if and when it becomes elective.

Sims, who vehemently opposes election of the director — has asked the council to delay a decision on how to fill the position in order to make it "more attractive now to potential job-seekers." Sounds like he doesn't think the voters are fed up enough yet with the situation there.

I worked with Sherril when she was Deputy Mayor and had some interaction with her as Auditor. My opinion of her is that while she understands and participates willingly in partisan politics, she's also a straight shooter who wouldn't allow herself to become part of, or participate in anything on the order of what Logan did in 2004. I hope she doesn't disappoint me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Time For A Progress Report From SEED

With the money former county commissioner Tim Botkin has secured and has committed from the Feds, the state legislature, the Port of Bremerton, Kitsap County and all the other 100 percent taxpayer-funded sources, SEED should be approaching the $4 million mark in funding.

Meanwhile all a Google search for Kitsap SEED finds is a link to the Port of Bremerton, with a small number of press releases, and a defunct website for the project itself.


With that kind of money at stake, isn’t it time Botkin named the companies he’s actually got signed on the dotted line for this project, the number of prospective jobs they’ll bring to Kitsap County, and when we can expect to start seeing them — before he gets any deeper into the taxpayer’s pocket?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boehme Says He's Undecided About 2008

A few posts down, on piece written March 21, I reported that Republicans Ron Boehme and Lois McMahan were reported to have been overheard at the recent Lincoln Day Dinner saying they intended to run "as a team" in 2008 to challenge incumbent 26th District House Democrats Pat Lantz, and Larry — You wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist.

The fact is, Boehme wasn't at the dinner, but in Africa at the time. However, no less than four different people contacted me with this information the Monday after the dinner. To have that many people call that quick, is highly unusual in itself, but all claimed to have heard this at the dinner. Phone calls to Boehme and McMahan were unreturned, but the sources on this are all usually highly reliable for their accuracy.

I received an email from Ron Boehme yesterday objecting to my comments about his past candidacy, possible future candidacy, and my characterization of him as a "right wing religious extremist." He also said he didn't return the phone call because, "I was in
Africa helping to start pre-schools and tuition programs for needy kids."

As for a future possible candidacy, he added, "I have no idea what Lois McMahan is doing in ’08. I haven’t had a personal conversation with her since October. As for me, I haven’t made a decision about running."

So there you have it — somewhat and understandably belated — and direct from the man himself.

Perennial candidate McMahan then sent a belated email the day after Boehme (think they chatted?), saying she never received my voice mail, but stating unequivocally she had no plans to run in 2008. Time will tell…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ISC To Take Up To $6.5 Million Write-off For Track Effort

According to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal, International Speedway Corp. (ISC) will take a pre-tax charge against earnings of between $5.5 and $6.5 million in the second quarter. That amounts to between seven and eight cents per diluted share. The loss is all attributed to the failed effort of the proposed Kitsap County NASCAR speedway. ISC stock was down 14 cents today on the news.

Read the entire story here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Interview With Dino Rossi

I picked this up from Sound Politics. It's an excellent interview with Dino Rossi. You remember him — elected governor twice in 2004. At any rate, no matter how you feel about Republicans or Democrats, it's an interesting piece worth the time to read.

Read it here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

SEED, NASCAR and Hardball Politics

Isn't it interesting that Tim Botkin, executive director of the SEED program went to Olympia along with Chris Endresen to protest against NASCAR, and suddenly, ended up with an additional $1.2 million for his fully taxpayer-funded venture? He originally asked for $8 million and got zip — until he testified against NASCAR.

What's even more telling, is where the money came from... Representative Phil Rockefeller, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee — that's the committee that hands out the money in case you didn't know — was able to engineer moving that money out of an allocation earmarked for downtown Bremerton, to Botkin. This is the same Phil Rockefeller who had a sign on his Olympia office door that read, "Don't trash Kitsap with NASCAR." Not exactly open-minded, is he?

It looks to me like Botkin was paid off — at the expense of Bremerton — for a reason. It's no secret that the Democrats were angry with Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman over his support of NASCAR, and decided to teach him a lesson in towing the party line.


What I find absolutely reprehensible is that the party is willing to intentionally put the delicate economic revitalization of Bremerton at risk as a way to send a political message to Bozeman. SEED isn't even in Rockefeller's district, but in the 35th — Tim Sheldon’s district. It's abundantly clear Rockefeller put his own elitist prejudices and partisan politics ahead of what's best for Bremerton — which is in the district he represents. I’d like to hear him explain his actions — in a way that passes the straight face test.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Misinformation and Lies Win — ISC Withdraws Track Proposal

"We just don't see any point in beating our head against the wall any more," said a resigned Grant Lynch, vice president of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), in discussing the news that the Daytona Beach, Florida speedway developer was shutting down its efforts to build a NASCAR-style speedway in Kitsap County.

It is a clear victory for for the purveyors of misinformation and blatant lies — not to mention a complete and total lack of political cojones on the part of our elected officials. I believe it is a very sad commentary on the state of our county and our legislature when what amounts to 12 or so people can organize a disinformation campaign so effective it intimidates our public officials to the point of pure cowardice.

Phil Rockefeller, Sherry Appleton, Pat Lantz, and Larry Seaquist have proven they don't deserve to represent us. However, instead of having the humility to be ashamed for their gross inadequacy as representatives, they'll be doing a victory dance as they vote to raise our taxes again — when they could have funded what they'll make US pay for from the revenue the speedway would have generated.

We got what we voted for... Elitist Cowards.

Abel To Bow Out As P.O. Mayor

In a press release issued this afternoon, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel announced she will not seek a second term as mayor.

She has been rumored for some time to be considering a run for county commissioner, to try and capture the seat being left vacant by Jan Angel's surprise announcement this past Friday that she wouldn't seek a third term.

However, Abel told me this evening that she hasn't made a decision on doing running for commissioner — and doesn't intend to make one in the near future. She was careful to not rule out the possibility, and did say she might revisit the commissioner's race as the time got closer. B
ut she also stated there were other opportunities that she would like to explore as well, besides being an elected official.

More as it develops...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Angel Elects Not To Seek Third Term As Commissioner

If you read a few posts down, you'll understand why it came as no surprise to me that South Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel, a Republican, has decided not to seek a third term as county commissioner. I can't say I blame her.

Originally elected in 2000 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Charlotte Garrido, and re-elected by a wide a margin when she beat Garrido again in 2004, Angel told the Business Journal in an exclusive interview that there were a number of reasons for her decision, as well as timing of her announcement.

“I wanted to give both the party and any potential candidates enough time to organize their base of support, as well as get up to speed on the issues.” In what might be viewed as a dig at fellow Commissioner Chris Endresen, she added, “I also believe that two terms is more than enough time for someone in this job.”

Angel said the reasons for her decision are both personal and political, but in the end, after consulting with senior state party officials, she’s been offered some very attractive opportunities that she wants to pursue. When asked specifically what those are, she would only say that the prospect of running for a statewide office has a very distinct appeal — and added as almost an afterthought — as well as accepting possible positions in both state government as well as the private sector. Angel is well thought of by state party leaders and considered to be a bit of a rising star at the state level.

I think — and this is pure speculation on my part — she may have a go at the state Treasurer's post. Her background in banking and finance make her a good fit. Commissioner of Public Lands could also be a possibility if — and it's a big if — Doug Sutherland retires. Sutherland is also a Republican, has a good relationship with Angel, and her experience in land use would almost make her a natural for the job.

Knowing Jan, I also don't see her being a lame duck, but instead, look for her to take off the gloves for the rest of her time in office. Why shouldn't she? She doesn't have anything to lose. I believe from this point forward, Jan will say what's really on her mind, pull out all the stops to get things she wants, and won't hesitate to lay the blame on Chris Endresen and/or Josh Brown for anything that doesn't happen. It's no big secret that she and Endresen have anything but a mutual admiration society going.

The county's oncoming train wreck — the next budget cycle — will be a huge issue Angel can lay right at the feet of Endresen if she chooses to. She's been outvoted 2-1 on most issues for her entire time in office, so that automatically puts Endresen and the Democrats — right or wrong — on the defensive.

Angel’s departure also leaves a huge void for the local Republicans. There isn’t any single dominant candidate in the south end at this point who commands the respect Angel does from the voters. A couple of names have already surfaced though. Steve Stagner — if he's interested — would make an excellent candidate capable of winning. Another name that has popped up is Thor Holm. Holm is an ex-Marine (is there really any such thing?) and past president of the Kitsap County Association of Realtors. He's a no-BS straight shooter and straight talker. While his no-nonsense, military demeanor (not necessarily his politics) may play only questionably well in liberal North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, it suits SK pretty well.

On the Democratic side, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel has indicated she will announce her decision whether to seek another term as mayor, or take a run at Angel's seat, by the end of March. Also rumored to be interested is Monte Mahan, son of Port Commissioner, and former County Commissioner Bill Mahan, and Virgil Hamilton, head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council. Hamilton, who has worked closely with Angel on NASCAR, has said he’d seriously consider the job — but only if Angel didn’t run.

When asked if her strong support of NASCAR was an issue in her decision to bow out, Angel emphatically answered, “Absolutely not. I believe it is the best thing that could happen here, and I’ll continue to work to make it a reality.”

On a personal note, I’ve known Jan Angel for about 25 years, and known her husband, Lynn Williams, even longer. He was one of the first people I met when coming to Kitsap County in 1975 when my first wife went to work for him. I consider both Jan and Lynn to be friends.

Jan is as honest as they come, and takes people at face value until they prove she can’t. If she has a political weakness, it’s perhaps being too trusting of people in an arena where knowledge and information are currency. But one of the things I admire most about Jan, is that she is also a person with the courage of her convictions and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in. In her time as commissioner, she’s endured blatantly partisan political adversity with a graciousness and style few people possess.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed this job, and have some major projects I want to accomplish before I leave,” she added. But it’s just time for a change for me." I sincerely believe her departure will be Kitsap County’s loss.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Quick Observation

It's simply amazing how much money people are willing to offer up upon hearing a rumor that someone might be willing to challenge Larry — you wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist.

What's even more amazing, is who some of them are — people that Seaquist should be very worried about.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is There Nothing Too Low For NASCAR Opponents?

It appears there is nothing too low or out of the bounds of decency and good taste where the opponents of NASCAR are concerned. In addition to defacing a number of “Back The Track” signs located on private property, recently, the Web site Green NASCAR, which promotes the use of environmentally sustainable practices by NASCAR in general, and specifically at the proposed track, was hacked.

The local, privately-owned site was defaced with pornography and other distasteful things by some out of control zealot determined to discredit the effort to bring championship auto racing here.

While the highly organized and ongoing disinformation campaign waged by opponents continues to run in high gear, this action is simply indefensible. No matter how you feel about NASCAR, when the culprit responsible is caught and exposed publicly — and I have no doubt that will happen — the opponent’s public image and credibility will suffer severe, perhaps irreparable damage. And unless opponents — and I’m certain there are some that know who it is — expose this lowlife themselves, that’s exactly what they’ll deserve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

They Can't Be Serious...

In a conversation with a couple of different members of the local Republican Party, it was revealed that perennial candidate Lois McMahan, and fellow right-wing religious extremist Ron Boehme, are supposedly planning to run as a "team" for the two 26th District House seats up next year.

My first reaction was to laugh out loud and then ask, "This is a joke, right?" My sources all assured me it wasn't, and that the pair reportedly plan to take on Democratic incumbents Pat Lantz (if she runs for another term) and freshman Larry — you wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU— Seaquist. Before expressing any personal opinions on this, I want to stress that phone calls to each to confirm this went unreturned, but the sources have been extremely accurate in the past.

What are they thinking?

McMahan's 2006 primary election loss to Jim Hines, who was recruited specifically by the party because they knew McMahan couldn't beat Derek Kilmer, should have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt it's time for her to hang it up and get out of the way of credible candidates with a REAL chance of winning.

Although he was well-financed, worked really hard, is pretty personable one-on-one,
and is a very good public speaker, Boehme still lost big time in '06 to Seaquist — who in my view will be very vulnerable in 2008. There's just something about Boehme that doesn't ring true — at least not for me.

That aside,
what's the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In my view, this dynamic duo has two probable chances to win in the 26th — slim and none. They both need to accept that fact and spare some other, actually electable Republicans, totally unnecessary primary battles. The idea of this problematic pair even running, is just another in a long, ongoing series of sad examples of how the Republicans continue to choose to shoot themselves in the foot.

Are McMahan and Boehme the best the Republicans can do? I sure hope not...

Another Name Surfaces...

Since I asked our readers to throw out some names of possible candidates for South Kitsap County Commissioner, one new name surfaced yesterday afternoon during a chance encounter with a former candidate in the Central Kitsap race.

A phone call to Virgil Hamilton confirmed he is considering the possibility of running in 2008 — but only if Jan Angel doesn't.

Hamilton, a Democrat, is head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, and the Bremerton business manager for Local 46 of the I.B.E.W. (the electrician's union). He's also on the board of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, as well as an active member of the Checkered Flag Club, the business group supporting the proposed NASCAR project.

Hamilton's chances might actually be pretty good.
As a member of organized labor, he'll have party support — probably over the objections of rabid anti-NASCAR environmentalists like Beth Wilson, Tom Donnelly and Gene Bullock. But in the end, if he wins the primary, they'll have no choice but to close ranks behind him. Business will also support him because he's proven himself to be a reasonable, pragmatic kind of Democrat who understands the simple fact that if the county isn't business-friendly, his members have to travel out of the area to work.

Hamilton has also been instrumental in trying to inject organized labor's point of view into the machinery of the environmentally-dominated 26th and 23rd District party organizations. He's encouraged his members to join them, attend the meetings and make their voices heard — especially about NASCAR. In fact it was downright amusing watching Beth Wilson completely lose it at a 26th District meeting when Hamilton stated that labor would not support any candidates who opposed NASCAR. She screamed at him, actually screeching, "Who do you think you are coming in here and telling us who you'll support and who you won't?"

Hamilton, who is pretty unflappable, just smiled and basically said that he didn't intend to create any controversy within the party, but that his members — who are Democrats — support NASCAR, and it's his job to make their position known to the party. Wilson just fumed, but Hamilton very politely made his point.

He said he won't run if Angel does because she has worked with him on NASCAR and that he likes and respects her and the job she's done for South Kitsap. If she does run, depending on who the Democratic candidate is and their position on NASCAR, Hamilton could be the guy heading up organized labor's support for her — much to the dismay of the party. But if she doesn't, he could put a very interesting wrinkle in the election — not to mention completely changing the dynamic of the county commission if elected.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Early Handicapping Of The 2008 Commissioner Races — Part 1

Speculation is already running rampant about who will be running for county commissioner in 2008.

The main question: Will Jan Angel and Chris Endresen both run for another term? If not, who is already positioning themselves for a run, and who will they face?

Let's look at Angel...
She's done a good job for her SK constituency — in spite of being continually handicapped not only by a Democratic majority that attempts to thwart her every move, but by her own party and the ultra-conservative property rights advocates running it, who are seemingly determined to drive Kitsap Republicanism into extinction. Ironically, when she lived in Colorado and Alaska, Angel was a strong Democrat. It's the left wing environmental extremists with zero respect for private property that run the local party she can't abide by.

Angel is extremely well liked in SK, but the Democrats will try and hang her in the rest of the county with her unwavering support of NASCAR. That won't work because there are enough racing fans countywide to pull her through. Organized labor will also help her — something they haven't done before — because of her support for NASCAR. And remember, she beat her opponent in 2004 — former commissioner and green queen Charlotte Garrido — by twice as many votes as Endresen beat conservative KAPO activist Scott Henden in liberal North Kitsap.

If Endresen runs again — and it’s her seat to lose, but she's way too smart for that — I suspect Angel will call it a day. She’s approaching 60, her husband is somewhat older than she is and semi-retired, they own a condo in Scottsdale, Arizona and are secure enough financially to retire in style today.

There's no love — or respect — lost between between Angel and Endresen, and between her and Josh Brown, Angel is usually the odd one out. So from her perspective, who needs four more years of the BS she's put up with for the last 7?

But if Endresen doesn't run again, and/or Brown's legal troubles force him out, and NASCAR is still alive, I suspect Angel will give it one more go to try and see it through. But if she doesn't, who will the Republicans run? Good question, because they have absolutely NO ONE on deck for this.

Perhaps the most qualified — albeit remote — possibility they have right now is Steve Stagner, who filed for Auditor in 2006 but dropped out when forced to choose between running, and his job. Stagner — if he’s even interested — is smart, personable, immediately likable and has a solid financial background. He's best known for his work with the Public Facilities District, youth sports, and getting the Kitsap Bluejackets Baseball Club off the ground.

KAPO may also try and field a candidate, but if they do, whoever it is will get clobbered just as Jack Hamilton did. But either way, the Republicans have failed to groom a successor to Angel, and the commission will more than likely revert back to all Democrats before we see any more Republicans.

On the Democratic side, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel is rumored to be interested enough to possibly not run for re-election as mayor so she can devote the next year and half to campaigning. The problem with Abel is, she can't make a decision (remember Charlotte Garrido?), is a micro-manager, and has made such a HUGE mess in Port Orchard it's going to take someone with a strong personality and exceptional business and political connections to fix it. Any smart primary opponent will exploit her dismal record.

Also rumored to be looking at Angel's seat — if Angel doesn't run — is Monte Mahan. He's the son of Bremerton Port Commissioner Bill Mahan who was county commissioner for 20 years until he was ousted in the 80s. Monte Mahan worked for DCD as a planner, quit in disgust and now works at Pierce County DCD. He was also appointed by Angel to a term on the Kitsap County Planning Commission. He's smart, practical, leans green enough to satisfy the enviros in the party, and has his dad’s political savvy — and connections — to fall back on. The bottom line is, he's WAY more qualified than Abel.

Other possible names? You tell me.

Next installment, we'll take a look at Endresen and her race.