Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post-Election Commentary

I’ve had lots of questions about my five-vote loss in the Port Orchard Mayoral election, and why I thought it happened. A lot of folks have waited for me to say something.

So here it is...

First and foremost, I’d like to express a heartfelt “Thank You” to the voters who supported me, as well as the outstanding staff at City Hall. I’m truly grateful for your belief in me, and my vision for our City.

The Port Orchard Independent documented in depth what was a sleazy, highly dishonest, but well-orchestrated smear campaign against me. Editor Tim Kelly publicly chastised the group responsible — People for a Better Port Orchard — but by then, most of the damage was already done. However, I sincerely appreciate Tim setting the record straight about the actual facts.

The people who financed the smear campaign are Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang, Cedar Cove Inn owner Gil Michael, Port Orchard Chamber Executive Coreen Johnson’s boyfriend, Steve Sego, as well as her daughter Rebeka — the sleaze campaign’s treasurer — and her son Joshua. Also donating were Military Air Cargo owner John Yamamura (whom I've never even met), along with County Assessor Jim Avery’s wife Sue, South Kitsap School Board member Patty Henderson, Cappricio Catering owner Desiree Steffens, Pam Piper, and Morningside Bakery. CPA Dawn Jake paid for mailing one of those sleazy hit pieces, and her husband, who owns Bethel Towing, also contributed to the group. All the materials were printed by Fine Arts Litho. 

Of all those people, only 3 of them actually live in the City.

I’ve decided to keep my personal opinions on the outcome, the new Mayor, the people who financed the smear campaign — as well as the City’s future — to myself. Publicizing them serves no useful purpose.

That said, this was perhaps the most venomous, divisive election in the City’s history, and I still receive phone calls and emails from angry supporters demanding revenge for the loss. While, five votes is certainly no mandate for change, it’s time to close the book on this election so Port Orchard can begin the healing process, and move forward once again.

Although the majority of the City’s business community supported me, there are continuing efforts to discredit particular downtown businesses that were highly visible champions of my re-election. It’s time for the new Mayor to rein in his supporters responsible for that, actively reach out to a business community that didn’t support him, and find common ground. It’s also up to the business community to act with integrity by honestly seeking common ground with the new administration as well. Whether they like it or not, they need each other.

Port Orchard is well positioned for the future in terms of economic stability, low crime, and a great staff with a can-do attitude. With effective, pro-active leadership, healing the wounds inflicted by this election will allow Port Orchard become the great City it has all the potential to be. But it’s up to both sides to allow that healing to begin, and for the new Mayor to lead the effort. I strongly support and encourage that. I hope everyone else — on both sides — will as well. Port Orchard deserves nothing less.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ben Stein's Thoughts on Christmas

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America...

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God ? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.If not, then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Blog Posting Policy For Sound Publishing Papers

The Port Orchard Independent, as well as all the Sound Publishing weekly newspapers are instituting a new policy for blog posters on Nov.17 that want to comment on its stories. They can no longer post anonymously, but have to sign in using their Facebook account.

One anonymous (naturally) moron using the handle YouMustBeMistaken disagreed with the change, saying, "I guess that there are some that have their feelings hurt by any criticism and therefore to protect those feelings the criticizers must be silenced." He went on to say in a later post that he isn't afraid to identify himself — but fails to do so.

In my view, this common sense change isn't about anyone's "hurt feelings," but about having the simple courage to sign your name to what you write, to publicly acknowledge your criticisms of government, government officials, public policy, or whom and/or whatever else a particular story may be about, and publicly demonstrate that the author has the courage of his or her convictions.

Letters to the Editor require a verifiable name and contact information. Blog posts aren't anything other than more immediate, electronic Letters to the Editor by virtue of their ability to be posted as soon as they're written.

I'm a firm believer that making posters identify themselves will not only upgrade the level of debate, but greatly increase the civility of it as well. It will also eliminate the cheap shot posts, from people blatantly posting under numerous screen names on the same subject in an attempt to influence the direction of the debate — such as we have witnessed in the Independent's recent stories on the Mayor's election and about the smear campaign orchestrated by People for a Better Port Orchard — as well as on a daily basis in the Kitsap Sun.

I'm a grownup. I can handle disagreement. It's what makes a horse race profitable. So if you want to critiize me, something I've done — or not done — at least have enough personal integrity to sign your name to it instead of hiding behind some moronic screen name. As someone who has been the target of scathing attacks by a couple of very specific anonymous posters for a number of years anytime my name is even mentioned on the Kitsap Sun site — no matter in what context or why — and more recently in the Independent, I fail to see why upgrading the honesty and quality of any given debate is an issue to anyone other than cowardly cheap shot artists.

Personally, I applaud this change in policy. I instituted a similar policy on this blog and on the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal site as well about 2 years ago. The First Amendment gives you the right to say anything, anytime, anywhere. So if you have something to say, at least have the courage to stand up for your opinion by signing your name to it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Mudslinging has begun...

Yesterday, a "Hit" piece on my campaign for re-election as Mayor arrived in mailboxes. I've received a number of phone calls from people who are positively outraged at the mean-spiritedness they've seen my opponent demonstrate throughout this campaign — but said this was over the top.

So let's get the facts correct...

In the hit piece it claims I'm one of the highest paid Mayors in the state. That is incorrect. I'm the 23rd highest paid full-time Mayor. It also claims I gave myself a raise that tripled my salary. I guess my opponent still doesn't understand how the City Council process works. The Council made the job full time. It had previously been part time (15 hours a week). The rate of pay has stayed the same as it was part time — in spite of all other City employees receiving contract raises twice since I've been in office.

It also states I make twice as much per capita as the Mayor of Bremerton. The Mayor of Bremerton makes around $119,000 plus benefits. I make slightly more (less than $1,000) than the Mayor of Poulsbo, a smaller city with 25 percent fewer people than Port Orchard. The salary is a little over $62,000 plus benefits — modest by government standards. EVERY single department head that reports to the Mayor makes significantly more. 

Is my opponent, a 27-year government retiree, intending on reducing the salary, or going back to part time? No...

He stated in that piece that I'm responsible for the proposed increase in water rates. He KNOWS that's a blatant lie. The Council is considering raising the rates because by law, Water and Sewer are enterprise funds and must be self-sustaining, which because of the age of the infrastructure and needed repairs, they are not. The Mayor doesn't get to vote on this — which he also knows, or at least he should.

The Mayor is the chief administrative official of the city — and basically what amounts to the CEO of a $30 million municipal corporation, of which the voters, are the stockholders, and the City Council is the Board of Directors. The job is actually much more about business management experience, and strong leadership skills, than it is about politics. My opponent has not one single day of business management experience. Is this guy qualified to manage $30 million of our tax dollars? 

Finally, he claims I "maneuvered" the sale of my business property to the City and sold it at an inflated price. This too, is a blatant lie — and he KNOWS it is. 

The City filed an Eminant Domain claim to buy my property for the Tremont Street widening project. I did NOT want to sell it — much less sell it in such a depressed market — and will be forced to move my business when the project gets underway. The City paid the appraised value, and not one dollar more.  The City Council approved the sale price. I recused myself from every discussion involved in the sale and was never allowed to see documents on comparison sales — in spite of the fact we had a full-blown commercial appraisal done (which is our right) that showed the value significantly ($150,000+) higher.

My opponent has NOT articulated a vision for the future of our City, because he doesn't have one. He, and the puppetmaster pulling his strings, want absolutely NO changes, and for our City to either stand still or go backwards. He has absolutely NO platform other than he isn't me.

He has not attacked my accomplishments because there is nothing to attack, and even admits the City is pretty well-run. So he has resorted to attacks on my character and my integrity. 

Is this his idea of leadership? Is this what he considers integrity? If he will lie this blatantly to the voters just trying to get elected, how badly will he lie if he gets in office?
This has been the nastiest political campaign the City has ever seen. I would strongly encourage you to watch the Kitsap Sun video of our interview with the editorial board. You will quickly find out how much he doesn't know about Port Orchard, how it works, or what the job entails. The prospect of his election is downright scary.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The death of a personal hero...

I've only had a few heroes in my life... My Dad, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Lee Iaccoca, Tony Robbins, and Steve Jobs.
 I'll miss you Steve...  
 Photo: Tim Gallagher

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Washington Tourism Efforts bennefitting Oregon Workers

In what I'd consider a boneheaded budget cutting move, the state eliminated its tourism office, saving $2 million a year to support an industry which generated $15.2 billion statewide in 2010 revenues. That looks like a pretty good ROI to me. But hey, I’m just a business guy with 32 years of experience, so what do I know?

In response, the state’s tourism industry stepped up to try and keep those tourism dollars flowing, and formed a new association called the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA). And what was one of the very first things it did? It announced, “a strategic partnership with the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) and Saga City Media Inc. to publish the official Washington State Visitors’ Guide beginning in 2012.”

What's wrong with this picture, it that Saga City Media is an Oregon company. No Washington publishing company was even alerted to the possibility of competing for this contract, much less given the opportunity. 

In an email when I questioned why not, David Blandford, who is with the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, responded, “Out-of-state companies were not given an opportunity to bid either. WTA is partnering with the Washington Lodging Association which had an existing publishing partnership with Saga City Media Inc. Saga City is based in Portland but is very active in support of the tourism industry in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.”

I’ve seen a lot of Saga City’s work, and they're a quality company that puts out good work. However, the quality of their work is not the issue. Washington jobs is. Besides our own company, I personally know of at least five other in-state publishers who could do this job just as well. And the fact that an association that supposedly is in the business of promoting in-state jobs is intentionally funding Oregon jobs, without giving in-state companies the opportunity to even compete for the work, is in my view, beyond hypocritical.

In a WTA press release, Todd Thoreson, WLA Chairman of the Board and Regional Vice President of Hotel Operations for Red Lion Hotels Corporation, stated, “With the recent loss of state government funding for tourism marketing within the State of Washington, we are at a critical juncture that requires all hospitality industry stakeholders to work together and pursue solutions that can ensure our success in the future. We believe this partnership is a step in the right direction that helps us achieve this goal.”

You know what Todd, I’ve been a Red Lion customer, stockholder, and have belonged to your R and R Club for many years. But I will personally boycott Red Lion Hotels until this situation changes. I strongly believe that dollars generated in Washington State should stay here to create Washington jobs, and the WTA has a moral obligation to put this contract out to bid to Washington State publishers only — as it should have to begin with.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grinding America Down

This came to me in an email. And while I personally don't particularly agree with everything stated in this video, there is certainly some food for thought — especially if you came of age in the 60's and 70's.

Unfortunately, some glitch in Google's software doesn't allow this video to be posted here, but the link below does work. It's only about 4 minutes, but worth the time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lowdown On Port Orchard's Code City Fiasco

There has been quite a bit of news coverage recently about the proposed change in the form of Port Orchard's City government from a Second Class City to a Code City, which the City Council had approved in May. Out of the 281 Cities in the state, only 11 second class cities remain.

There is no difference in the way we would do business with our citizens, or in the transparency of our City government. The main difference is in how we do business with the state. Being a Code City allows us to choose our own destiny, and not be under the state’s thumb as second class cities are. That’s all there really is to it.

However, a small group of citizens supporting my election opponent began a petition to call for a vote on this issue. Neither myself, nor the council had any problem with that. In fact, I would have signed the petition myself if someone had just asked me.

The problem comes in the fact the originators of the petition didn’t submit the required number of signatures to the City in time for them to be validated by the county Auditor, so the question could be placed on the November ballot. If they had, it would have cost about $5000 — normal for a ballot measure during a general election — and something we budget for.

Since they didn’t, it would have been placed on the February election ballot — at a cost possibly as high as $45,000. To avoid this, the City Council rescinded the resolution to change to a Code City.

However, what is most disturbing to me is that once originators of the petition missed the deadline, they then publicly accused the city of intentionally withholding critical information from them about when the signatures were due.

That is patently false.

And because of that accusation, I feel compelled to respond to the misstatements and half-truths set forth by the originators of the petition in a blog posting in the Port Orchard Independent on August 17.

They publicly blamed “new administrative procedures” set forth by the City for their failure to submit the petition in time for the November ballot.

That too is a lie.

There were no “new” procedures of any kind, nor have they identified any such “procedures.” The petition process is governed by state law and those requirements have been unchanged for years. The truth is, the originators of the petition never even talked to the City Clerk about deadlines — or anything at all to do with the petition — until after August 16.

The petition originators wrote, “...we still have no documentable information” concerning the August 1 deadline — which is when the signatures were actually due. This is a red herring. The night before they posted this comment in the Independent, the City Attorney explained to the petition originators at great length how the August 1 deadline was determined.

The bottom line is, for the referendum question to have made the November ballot, state law required the Council to adopt a resolution no later then August 16. The Council’s regular meeting was August 9. The next meeting was August 23 — after the deadline. Signatures needed to be submitted to the City Clerk a week before the meeting date so they could be sent to the County Auditor for verification.

This is not a new procedure. As a long-time planning commission member, one of the petition originators should have been well aware of this requirement — some form of which is shared by every city in the state.

The petitioners claim, “Twice the City was asked, prior to the passage of the resolution, to place this matter on the ballot.” This is only partially true.

A total of four people testified at the two public hearings we held. The same petition originator asked this at both hearings — although no one else did. Is it any wonder that the Council concluded the public saw this issue as a matter to be left for Council action?

Finally, what should be the very first question anyone undertaking such a petition effort would normally ask? Wouldn’t it be, “When are the signatures due, and to who?” This makes me wonder if all the accusations aren’t little more than a smokescreen to hide the fact that on August 1, the petition originators had only 93 unverified signatures. They needed approximately 250 verified signatures by August 9, to place this question on the November ballot.

It is not the City’s fault that the organizers of the petition did not perform the proper due diligence. Frankly, I believe they need to take responsibility for their failure to do their homework about the due date. I also believe they owe the City Clerk a public apology for falsely accusing her of hiding information, in what appears to me to be a blatant attempt to cover up their mistakes.

I’m certain the Council will reconsider the change to a Code City at a later date, as they feel very strongly that the change is needed. However, when that will be, is still in question.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Geography Of The Recession

The old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

This map shows how the unemployment rate has changed since January of 2007 when it was 4.6 percent, to what it is today. Viewing it only takes a few seconds. Right click to pause. The darker the color, the higher the rate of unemployment.

When you get to the map, click the arrow in the middle and watch how things have changed. Take note of the areas of the country hit hardest and in what order that occurred. It’s incredible to see what “The Great Recession” has done to our Republic.

President Obama took office in 2008. The change, beginning in 2009 was brutal, and has continued during his administration. And for those who want to blame it all on Bush, while he did increase spending in a manner I personally view as irresponsible, it doesn't hold a candle to what has happened since. And remember, beginning in January of 2006, for the entire last two years of the Bush administration, the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. Bush and the Republicans were basically powerless to oppose them and the policies they put in place.

When you've finished, stop for a minute and ask yourself what is it going to take for the American people to get their heads out of their ass to start becoming aware of the trouble we are in? When are we going to say collectively “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” If this doesn’t bother you, then you need to stop drinking the kool-aid.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Food For Thought...

I couldn't have said it better myself. Here's a guy who articulates a lot of what I think America thinks...

Just saying...

Government Employees... Who Knew?

Just a short video you really should watch as it’s a real eye opener...

If you are like me, and seldom watch a forwarded video, I urge you to watch this one. I didn't realize that the numbers were this large, and quite frankly, it was very shocking to find this out. It’s short — only a couple of minutes — so doesn’t take long to watch, but you'll find it well worth your time...

If this doesn’t open you eyes nothing will...

The Problem With Public Housing

The problem with public housing is that the residents are not the owners. The people that live in the house did not earn the house, but were loaned the property from the true owners, the taxpayers.

Because of this, the residents do not have the “pride of ownership” that comes with the hard work necessary. In fact, the opposite happens and the residents resent their benefactors because the very house is a constant reminder that they themselves did not earn the right to live in the house. They do not appreciate the value of the property and see no need to maintain or respect it in any way.

The result is the same whether you are talking about a studio apartment or a magnificent mansion full of priceless antiques. If the people who live there do not feel they earned the privilege, they will make this known through their actions.

The pictures below illustrate the point:

The Resolute Desk was built from the timbers of the HMS Resolute and was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is considered a national treasure and icon of the presidency.

Mr. Obama, you are not in a hut in Kenya, or public housing in Chicago. With all due respect, get your damn feet off our desk!

The World's Largest Army

Here’s an interesting bit of information someone passed on to me. I can't vouch for its validity, but it does raise an interesting point and provide some food for thought about how well-armed Americans are compared to other countries.

Supposedly, after the Japanese decimated our fleet in Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941, they could have sent their troop ships and carriers directly to California to finish what they started. The prediction from our Chief of Staff was we would not be able to stop a massive invasion until they reached the Mississippi River. Remember, we had a 2 million-man army and war ships — all fighting the Germans. So, why did they not invade?

After the war, the remaining Japanese generals and admirals were asked that question. Their answer — they knew that almost every home had guns and the Americans knew how to use them.

The world’s largest army — America’s hunters! Think about this...

A blogger added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states and arrived at a striking conclusion:

• There were over 600,000 hunters this past season in the state of Wisconsin alone. Allow me to restate that number...

• Over the last several months, Wisconsin’s hunters became the eighth largest army in the world.

• More armed men than in Iran..

• More than in France and Germany combined.

• These men deployed to the woods of a single American state to hunt with firearms — and no one was killed.

That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania and Michigan’s 700,000 hunters. Toss in a 250,000 hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

The point?

America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower. Hunting — it’s not just a way to fill the freezer. It’s a matter of national security. That’s why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.

Food for thought when next we consider gun control.

The above numbers are just the hunters that purchased deer hunting licenses. I guarantee you there are at least 4 times as many guys that have guns, know how to use them, and don’t have a deer hunting license.

We absolutely will always have the World’s largest army — as long as we do not let the government take our guns away.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Debt Ceiling Deal A Bad One — Real Bad

The deal to raise the country’s debt ceiling that President Barack Obama has signed into law will lead to massive job loss in the short term and threatens economic growth in the long run, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute/The Century Foundation.

According to the analysis, the spending cuts in the agreement, along with the failure to extend the payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment insurance, will cost the economy 1.8 million jobs through 2012. The deal disproportionately cuts the non-security discretionary part of the federal budget to the lowest level in more than 50 years, potentially halving investments in education, transportation infrastructure, housing, health and infant nutrition over the next decade.

The report, by policy analysts Andrew Fieldhouse and Ethan Pollack finds that the spending cuts in the deal will reduce GDP by $43 billion in 2012, lowering employment by about 323,000 jobs. The failure to extend the payroll tax cut will reduce GDP by $128 billion, resulting in about 972,000 fewer jobs, and the failure to continue emergency unemployment benefits will reduce GDP by $70 billion, resulting in roughly 528,000 fewer jobs.

In other words, the debt ceiling deal will result in more jobs lost in 2012, relative to current budget policy, than have been created since employment troughed in early 2010.

Over half of the deal’s spending cuts will come from the NSD portion of the budget, which represents only 15 percent of the total federal budget. The deal’s initial spending cuts reduce NSD from 3.5 percent to 2 percent of GDP in 2021, the lowest level in more than 50 years.

If the committee tasked with producing additional cuts cannot agree to a plan, or if Congress does not pass it, the sequestration mechanism would reduce NSD further, to 1.7 percent of GDP. At the 1.7 percent level, NSD spending would be about half of what it is now.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Total Insult To Washington State Businesses

Can someone explain to me in terms that make sense why the WASHINGTON Tourism Alliance is doing business with an OREGON company for the publication of the WASHINGTON State Visitor’s Guide? Have these people lost their mind, or do they just not care that there are more than a few WASHINGTON publishing companies that have the capabilities to publish this, and keep and/or create, JOBS right here in WASHINGTON?

The organizations that make up the Washington Tourism Alliance expect City and County governments — as well as the private sector — to support their efforts, yet they obviously have absolutely NO regard for the fact that businesses here in our own state — those in our own Cities and Counties who all give them money — could do this work. All they ask is the opportunity to bid on it. If they can’t compete, that’s one thing, but as the owner of a publishing firm myself for the past 32 years that has the capabilities to produce this, I am highly incensed that in-state companies were not even notified about such an opportunity.

And just for the record, if they have the common sense to rethink such a bone-headedly stupid move, our company will not bid on it so no one can accuse me of protesting for self-serving reasons.

As the Mayor of Port Orchard, it is my intention to attend the upcoming regional meetings of the Association of Washington Cities, and ask every City in this state to withhold all tourism funding no matter who it goes to — until this group rescinds this agreement and allows in-state companies the opportunity to bid on this project. I am also asking a number of County Commissioners around the state I know to encourage Washington State Association of Counties members to do the same.

What the Washington Tourism Alliance has done is more than just an insult to in-state publishers — it’s flat out wrong. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Local Regulators Attack Business — Again

The insensitivity and caviler attitude of Kitsap County toward local business never ceases to amaze me. The latest examples of this are how the County Department of Community Development (DCD) and the Health District have essentially put Juel Lange of Lange’s Ranch out of business, and how the Prosecutor’s Office continues to pursue what has all the earmarks of a personal vendetta against Marcus Carter of the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club.

Lange and Carter have both been particularly annoying thorns in the side of County bureaucrats for more than a decade. Lange for seemingly understanding that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission when it comes to dealing with the county’s arbitrary and overzealous enforcement of regulations, and Carter for beating county prosecutors in court three times on a alleged gun violation — and doing it without a lawyer, by representing himself.

Lange has run a popular summertime swimming pool and recreational facility for kids near Keyport for 35 years. It’s also available for private functions like weddings, family reunions, business retreats, and such. The money he makes supports veteran’s organizations.

Lange won’t be able to open this season after being a victim of what can only be called a classic flim-flam by county regulators.

He was forced to close in 2004, citing a wave of new regulations he didn’t believe he could comply with. He’s worked since then to comply with the ever-increasing regulatory burden, and believed after spending $30,000 on a new septic system he’d made it over the hump.

But of course he didn’t — and this is where the flim-flam comes in. Lange operated the facility before much of the current land-use law was written, so he was grandfathered and didn’t have to comply with what had been written after he was operating. However, when he closed due to the new regulations, and then wanted to reopen, his grandfather protection went away.

Lange now has to get a conditional-use permit to operate in an area now zoned for rural residential use. Hell will most likely freeze over before that’s approved. He’ll also have to get permits for portions of buildings he’s modified over the years — including a bathhouse expansion and a small theater he built — and bring them up to current code standards.

Meanwhile the Kitsap County Health District is requiring Lange to have a lifeguard at the pool, something he claims has never worked because parents would dump off their kids for long periods, with a lifeguard, while they always stayed and watched without one — and according to Lange, the kids behave better.

The Health District also required Lange to install a second pool drain to supposedly prevent sucking swimmers down the drain, or some such nonsense, while an alternative solution he proposed was not acceptable.

For generations, Lange’s Ranch, with its red geraniums everywhere, Bavarian-style snack shack, merry-go-round, chimes tower, giant chess set, and bubble machine, has been a huge summertime draw for children from all areas of the county. Part of the fun was llamas for kids to feed.

After all he’s invested in trying to comply with the myriad of regulations, county bureaucrats have finally cornered Lange so he has no alternative except sell the property. I guess it could have been worse, he could have tried to build a tree house for those kids.

Meanwhile, after wasting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars losing in court three times over a dozen years on the gun charge, the County has decided to turn the persecution of Marcus Carter over to King County. It will be interesting to learn how much Kitsap County taxpayers will be billed to finance this witchhunt.

The County is also attacking Carter on another front, proposing new regulations requiring all shooting ranges in the county’s unincorporated areas to have a permit to operate. This is a change from the current code, which requires only new shooting ranges apply for a permit.

County Commissioners reportedly requested the code change due to “...ongoing tensions surrounding shooting ranges in the community,” County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido was quoted as saying.

In my view, the proposed changes are little more than another way for the County to attack Carter, who owns and operates the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. The similarities between complaints by surrounding residents — who moved in long after the club was established — and the proposed changes, were not lost on Carter, who was quoted as saying, “Obviously, it’s a political move.” Ya think?

Chalk up yet more victories for over-regulation — and more losses for small business — and personal freedom.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Law, ‘No Politician Left Behind,’ Would Pay Congressmen Based on Performance

(Editor's Note: This was reprinted from the Borowitz Report — pure political satire...)

Controversial Law Draws Howls of Protest from Lawmakers

A government think-tank today proposed a controversial new law, “No Politician Left Behind,” which would pay congressmen solely on the basis of performance.

The law, which was proposed by the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Government, “would make a serious dent in the Federal deficit because few if any congressmen would ever have to be paid,” said the Institute’s director, Davis Logsdon.

“Right now, congressmen get paid even when they storm out of budget negotiations in a hissy fit,” Mr. Logsdon said. “Under this new law, the rule would be, no budget, no paycheck.”

The idea of being paid per accomplishment drew howls of protest from lawmakers, many claiming that if the law were enacted it would result in their financial ruin.

“If passed, this law would be tantamount to the establishment of ‘Work Panels,’ which would determine whether individual congressmen are accomplishing anything,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). “I, for one, would be in deep, deep trouble.”

“I’m fairly sure that this law is unconstitutional,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “Now, I have never actually read the Constitution, but if this law were passed I would probably be forced to read it or live in a cardboard box.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that creating performance standards for lawmakers was “an insult to the institution of Congress.”

“We have spent millions of dollars, some of it out of our own pockets, to get to Washington,” he said. “We did not come here to be treated like teachers.” 

Get a free subscription to Borowitz Report here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Business People Don't Run For Public Office

In the weeks before the election filing deadline, I’d been approached by two different ad hoc groups asking me to help them convince local businesspeople to seek elective office.

They both believed that if successful businesspeople were elected, we’d have a legitimate shot at cleaning up a lot of the ongoing financial turmoil government is experiencing at every level, and either eliminate, or at least slow, the inevitable regulatory and tax increases. They seemingly viewed me as someone who has successfully made that transition from the private sector to government.

In my experience it’s possible to run government like a business if you actually mean to — and know how. However, in my view, there is also a myriad of reasons why successful businesspeople don’t answer the call to public service.

My personal motivation stemmed from anger at a highly dysfunctional City government where phone calls weren’t returned, emails were ignored, and some very simple questions were not responded to for more than two years — unanswered questions that cost myself, my wife, and our business, an inexcusable amount of money. I’ve always believed that if you want something fixed right, fix it yourself — so that’s what I set out to do.

That said, the level of invasion of your personal privacy is perhaps the most chilling aspect of running for — much less being elected to — public office. Your personal and business finances become public. The most personal aspects of your private life become everyone’s business. You can become the victim of vicious rumors — and outright lies — about your personal life and/or financial affairs, intentionally circulated by political opponents.

The political spin machine operated by our local media allows for the routine distribution of massive disinformation — as we witnessed with the NASCAR debate a few years ago. It also encourages ongoing character assassination by small-minded people with personal agendas writing in the local blogs — people who are not required to even sign their names to their vitriolic commentary.

In my view, these are equal to Letters to the Editor, only in a more immediate form. You’re required to submit verifiable identification to get a Letter published. I've yet to receive a non-lame answer from the Kitsap Sun or the Kitsap News Group as to why the blogs are any different.

Being in the news business I can tell you it's because they don't want to publicly admit the answer is that online advertising rates are usually set by the number of page views a given Web site generates. If an article can sufficiently stir up the cadre of regular posters, and the more moronic segment of these folks begin arguing with each other online (sound familiar?), it helps drive ad rates higher. It’s just that simple.

I firmly believe if the local media only allowed these folks to post using real, verifiable names, the level of discourse would become much more civil — and more intelligent folks would become engaged at every level.

While voters have a right to know who they’re voting for, I also believe that invasion of privacy is why businesspeople generally decline to needlessly subject themselves, the future of their businesses, and their families, to the vitriol of anonymous people who steadfastly refuse to allow actual facts to ever influence their opinions. That disservice by the media often leaves us choosing between the lowest common denominator of candidates for public office. And it’s the decisions those sometimes unqualified folks make after being elected that impact our businesses, the state budget, the business and regulatory climate locally and statewide, and of course, taxation.

Over the past three and half years, I’ve worked closely with a large number of elected officials from the federal and state levels on down to small taxing districts. While we do have a lot of dedicated, qualified people serving in public office, we also have quite a number who I seriously doubt could survive in the private sector. I let you speculate upon who they might be.

The bottom line is, unless businesspeople like you are willing to step up, none of the things you hate about government are going to change — but they are likely to get worse.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

When the Washington Post Calls Obama a Liar, He's Got Troubles...

 President Obama’s phony accounting on the auto industry bailout

“Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency.”  — President Obama, June 4, 2011

By Glenn Kessler
The Washinton Post

With some of the economic indicators looking a bit dicey, President Obama traveled to Ohio last week to tout what the administration considers a good-news story: the rescue of the domestic automobile industry. In fact, he also made it the subject of his weekly radio address.

We take no view on whether the administration’s efforts on behalf of the automobile industry were a good or bad thing; that’s a matter for the editorial pages and eventually the historians. But we are interested in the facts the president cited to make his case.

What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.

Let’s look at the claims in the order in which the president said them.

“Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency, and it repaid that money six years ahead of schedule. And this week, we reached a deal to sell our remaining stake. That means soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands."

Wow, every dime and more sounds like such a bargain. Not only did Chrysler pay back the loan, with interest but the company paid back even more than they owed. Isn’t America great or what?

Not so fast. The president snuck in the weasel words, “during my presidency” in his statement. What does that mean?

According to the White House, Obama is counting only the $8.5 billion loan that he made to Chrysler, not the $4 billion that President George W. Bush extended in his last month in office. However, Obama was not a disinterested observer at the time. According to The Washington Post article on the Bush loan, the incoming president called Bush’s action, "a necessary step to help avoid a collapse of our auto industry that would have had devastating consequences for our economy and our workers.”

Under the administration’s math, the U.S. government will receive $11.2 billion back from Chrysler, far more than the $8.5 billion Obama extended.

Through this sleight-of-hand accounting, the White House can conveniently ignore Bush’s loan, but even the Treasury Department admits that U.S. taxpayers will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment when all is said and done.

The White House justifies not counting the Bush money because, it says, that money was completely spent when Obama was making a tough political decision on whether to extend another loan. In other words, a decision to do nothing at the time would have resulted in the immediate loss of the $4 billion that Bush had extended.

This is chicanery. Under the president’s math, Chrysler paid back 100 percent of Obama’s loan and less than 70 percent of Bush’s loan. A more honest presentation would combine the two figures to say U.S. taxpayers got back 90 percent of what they invested. In fact, that is how the Treasury and other administration officials frequently portray it; it is just when Obama speaks that the numbers get so squishy.

The White House justifies saying that Chrysler will be in 100 percent, “in private hands,” because there will no longer be government ownership once Fiat completes its purchase of the U.S. stake. For the record, the United Auto Workers will own 46 percent of the company.

“All three American automakers are now adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s.”

The White House says the data to back this claim concerning the Big Three automakers is not public information. The official Bureau of Labor Statistics data refers to the entire auto industry — including foreign auto manufacturers, auto parts manufacturers, auto parts dealers and auto dealers. If you look at the data, the 113,200 jobs added between June 2009 and May 2011 amounts to about a 5 percent increase from a rather low base.

“GM plans to hire back all of the workers they had to lay off during the recession.”

This is another impressive-sounding, but misleading figure. In the five years since 2006, General Motors announced that it would reduce its workforce by nearly 68,000 hourly and salary workers, creating a much smaller company. Those are the figures that generated the headlines.

Obama is only talking about a sliver of workers — the 9,600 workers who were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2008. About 4,100 were sent home for a few weeks. Another 5,500 were put on indefinite leave, meaning there were no jobs at the time for them. All but 1,000 have returned to work, and the rest should be back at work by year’s end, according to GM spokesman Greg A. Martin.

“In the year before I was President, this industry lost more than 400,000 jobs, and two great American companies, Chrysler and GM, stood on the brink of collapse. Now, we had a few options. We could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do — nothing.”

This is quite a straw man — that many people wanted to do nothing. It was never so black and white. The debate was over the right course to take in the bankruptcy process.

The Wall Street Journal published Monday an interesting conservative critique of the government’s intervention by David Skeel, a law professor at University of Pennsylvania. Skeel says that the revival of the auto industry, “is a very encouraging development, but to claim that the car companies would have collapsed if the government hadn’t intervened in the way it did, and to suggest that the intervention came at very little cost, is a dangerous misreading of our recent history."

To support the claim that, “a lot of folks wanted to do nothing,” the White House referred us to statements by the House minority leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

We do not read Boehner’s quote that way; in this 2009 comment, he is questioning the administration’s approach while saying, “The success of our automotive industry is critical.” Shelby and Kyl in 2008 were protesting the use of taxpayer funds by Bush to delay a bankruptcy filing; they preferred immediately putting the companies through the bankruptcy process.

It will be up to historians to decide what the best solution would have been for taxpayers and the auto industry. We can understand why the president wants to portray himself as making a lonely and tough decision. But the debate was not either/or, bur rather what was the best policy to bring the automakers back to financial health.

Washington Business Climate Claims Another Victim

International Tennis Tour Operator Relocates to Phoenix
Tennis Ventures, an official tour operator of the Australian Open, recently relocated its corporate headquarters to Phoenix. The international tour operator previously was based in Spokane. Under Governor Jan Brewer, Arizona has earned a reputation for being business-friendly and aggressively recruiting businesses — and the jobs they create.

“Tennis Ventures is the only all-inclusive tour operator in the U.S. sanctioned by the Australian Open,” according to CEO Chadwick Byrd. Tennis Ventures is also the only Grand Slam tour operator that offers organized professional tennis clinics and play nearly every day during their trips. Travelers not only see Grand Slam tournament action, they get tennis instruction from international and US tennis pros. On most programs participants get the chance to rub elbows with past tennis greats.

According to Byrd, the company plans to develop domestic tennis camps in the Valley. “Our camps will bring tennis players from across the northern states and Canada to the warm weather of the Valley during the winter and early spring. These programs will not only bring business to local hotels, restaurants, and shops, but will also utilize local tennis professionals and tennis facilities.” Byrd says the company is working with a Former Wimbledon Champion to headline as Tennis Director for these camps.

Additional information about Tennis Ventures and all of their programs can be found at

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

To Woo Business From Washington, Other States Add Special Touch

(Editor's Note: While our legislature wasted it's special session time debating how to hurt business the most, other states are actively courting the companies our legislators hate — and the jobs they provide. A very telling piece from Jerry Cornfield that appeared in the Everett Herald.)

Just before the Legislature rejected a tax break extension for John Sabey’s high-tech firm, an iPod arrived from Virginia.

By Jerry Cornfield, Herald Writer
OLYMPIA — Add an iPod Touch to the tools other states are using to recruit Washington businesses.

Virginia’s governor used one to reach out and tap high-tech businessman John Sabey last week just as Washington leaders pulled their hand away from the Seattle entrepreneur.

The iPod Touch arrived at Sabey Corp. offices hours before Washington lawmakers, on the final day of the special session, balked at extending a tax break the company sought for expanding its business of building data centers.

“We thought it was very ironic,” said Sabey, president of Sabey Data Center Properties. “On the day we got spiked by the Legislature, the state of Virginia is sending us goodies telling us, basically, they’d like us to do business in their state.”

Carrie Cantrell, Virginia’s deputy secretary of commerce and trade, confirmed the state sent the recruitment package as part of an ongoing campaign to attract data center firms. She wouldn’t say if the timing of this particular delivery was planned or a coincidence.

David Sabey, John’s father and renowned commercial real estate guru, received the package on the outside of which is written, “The governor of Virginia requests five minutes of your time.”

Inside was the iPod Touch preloaded with a video message from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell extolling the virtues of operating in his state.

“That’s pretty aggressive,” said state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, a supporter of the tax break and one of several state lawmakers who heard about the package.

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Tuesday veered away from commenting on McDonnell’s tactic, focusing instead on her disappointment the bill didn’t pass.

“I’ve been a proponent of data centers from the beginning,” she said, adding that she knew of other companies in addition to Sabey that were ready to break ground had the tax break been approved.

Data centers are essentially where gobs of servers are used to process, store and transfer information online. With surging volumes of information and online transacting, the demand for these centers is growing and states are actively competing for them.

Last year, Washington’s Legislature passed a bill to lure construction of centers in rural counties. It allowed firms to forgo paying sales tax on the electrical equipment and servers used in the buildings.

Seven projects were undertaken as a result; Sabey’s firm launched work in East Wenatchee and Quincy.

But the law had a limited life span, with the tax break available only until July 1, 2011. This year’s bill sought to keep the tax break going another three years.

As a result, the flurry of activity will be muted and the state will be at a bit of a competitive disadvantage, according to John Sabey.

He said his firm had been exploring opportunities in Virginia well before the package arrived. If they make a deal, he might drop by McDonnell’s office to say hello.

At the same time, he’s hoping Washington lawmakers revive the tax break bill in 2012.

Hobbs and Gregoire hope so too.

“I certainly hope we do something,” Hobbs said.

“If we’re not aggressive enough we could lose out on these high-tech businesses.”

McDonnell is not the first governor to attempt to lure a Washington-based company.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter sent a “love letter” to Washington businesses in March 2010 extolling his state’s economic climate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote a handful of corporate executives in October as Washington voters considered an income tax measure. Perry’s missive noted Texas had no income tax and no interest in getting one.

Each of those overtures evoked a bring-it-on response from Gregoire, who expressed confidence Washington firms wouldn’t bite. In replying to Otter, she hinted at trying to lure companies from his state but apparently didn’t try anything as brash as a letter.

Earlier this year, she went out of her way to not publicly trash such tactics.

“I’m not going to criticize any of my colleagues,” she said in February at the National Governor’s Association meeting. “Anybody who wants to come to Washington state is welcome. I’m not out trying to steal companies from my colleagues.”

Gregoire, this year’s NGA chairwoman, went on to say each state’s future economic development hinges on them competing globally not “stealing from someplace else” in this country.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Art Of Political Spin

(Editor's Note: I had no way to actually verify this when I originally posted it, but thought it was just too good not to share. I later came to learn that this is fact not true, and was actually circulated on the Internet several years ago with Hillary Clinton instead of Harry Reid as the relative in question. No matter what, you have to truly admire someone's exceptional ability at political spin.)

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Senator Harry Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

This is the only known photograph of Remus — standing on the gallows in Montana territory:

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: "Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.’

So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

“Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

Now THAT’s how it’s done folks! That’s REAL political spin at its finest. It just doesn't get much better than that!.

Monday, May 09, 2011

CEO Magazine Says Washington Slid Five More Spots In Business Friendliness

CEO Magazine, which issued its annual “Best/Worst States for Business” this week, ranked Washington state below average at 34th. The more telling statistic from this survey of over 500 CEOs is that our state has fallen 18 spots over the last five years. In 2006 Washington ranked an above average 16th.

The survey takes into account “Taxes and Regulation,” “Workforce Quality,” and “Living Environment.”

The best states: Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

The worst states: California (50th), New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Michigan.

From the survey results,

“’Do not overtax business,’ offered one CEO. ‘Make sure your tax scheme does not drive business to another state. Have regulatory environment and regulators that encourage good business — not one that punishes businesses for minor infractions. Good employment laws help too. Let companies decide what benefits and terms will attract and keep the quality of employee they need. Rules that make it hard, if not impossible, to separate from a non-productive employee make companies fearful to hire or locate in a state.”

Seems like pretty good advice. It’s unfortunate that enough CEOs nationwide think Washington is doing a fair-to-poor job at implementing such policies. But at least we’re not Illinois, which has fallen 40 spots in five years. Ouch.