Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Food For Thought

A friend sent this to me. I think it's worth sharing. Lee Iacocca has been a personal hero of mine, and this pretty much sums up how I feel...

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from it's death throes? He has a new book and here are some excerpts.

Lee Iacocca Says: "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff; we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car! But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? !? You've got to be kidding!! This is America, not the damned "Titanic." I'll give you a sound bite: "Throw all the bums out!" You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of the "America" my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. The Biggest "C" is Crisis !

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A Hell of a mess. So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense?

I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when "The Big Three" referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough?

Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: the "Great Depression," "World War II," the "Korean War," the "Kennedy Assassination," the "Vietnam War," the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this: "You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action.

Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to "Action" for people who, like me, believe in America. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had "enough."

Excerpted from "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" Copyright (c) 2007 by Lee Iacocca. All rights reserved

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why Kriedler Needs To Go

As if he hasn’t already done enough damage abusing his office and betraying the public trust, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is back requesting legislation to restore his ability to regulate individual health insurance rates.

In exchange for a pledge from the four carriers left doing business here to stay in this market, Kriedler’s authority over individual health plans was jerked away by the Legislature in 2000 in a deal meant to salvage the state’s individual health insurance market.

Yet astonishingly, Kriedler recently had the cojones to say, “Eight years have passed since this law took effect. Meanwhile, the carriers are making record profits, and consumers have seen their rates jump an average of 16 percent per year.”

And the point is? Had Kriedler not literally regulated insurers right out of the state, we’d have more competition — which always means lower rates.

Kriedler’s proud of being blatantly anti-business. Endorsing R-67, and acting as its public mouthpiece, supporting a measure with a definite financial impact on the companies he is elected to regulate, wasn’t just a major ethical conflict of interest — it was flat out wrong.

Another example of his so called “leadership:” Title insurance companies can no longer donate to non-profit community organizations without risking a minimum $10,000 fine. Kriedler 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 the client would be unduly influenced to send future business their way from the great beyond, 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 in a slight-of-hand deal where no real money actually changed hands. Not much of a conflict of interest there, is there?

Kriedler is also real big on abusing the power of his office via the press release process to further inflate his ego. We must receive at least two press releases a week extolling Kriedler's political position on various matters. This was especially blatant during the R-67 campaign.

The bottom line is that its time for a new Insurance Commissioner — one with ethics — and certainly one who understands Economics 101.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Rossi Can Win

Republican candidate for governor Dino Rossi spent this past Thursday visiting Kitsap. It was an interesting day to say the least. A high-powered local fundraising committee was established — which includes some local Democrats, or as he calls them, "Dinocrats." A series of subsequent meetings with rank and file voters also had them whipping out their checkbooks.

In the interest of full disclosure, before going any further, let me say that Rossi and I are personal friends, and that I serve of the board of the pro-business organization he founded, the Forward Washington Foundation. But that aside, in my mind, he has a real chance to win. Here's why I think so:

• Polls show him in a statistical dead-heat with incumbent governor Christine Gregoire. In head-to-head (2004 and now) polling, she has never polled 50 percent against Rossi — no matter who conducted the poll — independent polling organizations, Republicans or Democrats. This is a clear sign of danger for Gregoire, whose popularity numbers haven't reached 50 percent at any time while she has been governor either. Here are samples of some of the polling:
Question: Who would you support for governor?
The Washington Poll (Nov. 2007) Gregoire 46% Rossi 42%
Strategic Vision (Oct. 2007) Gregoire 47% Rossi 45%
Moore Information (July 2007) Gregoire 47% Rossi 43%
The margin of error in any poll depends upon the number of people contacted To be considered credible, the number sampled must be large enough for the margin of error to fall somewhere between 3 and 6 points. So you can see how close this truly is — with 10 months still to go.

• The political climate is such that a Republican can win the Governor’s race in heavily Democratic Washington State. In 2006, a horrible election year for Republicans nationwide, voters elected Republican Governors in six states that have as much or more of a partisan Democrat electorate than Washington. Those are:
Connecticut 2006 Rell (R) 63% DeStefano (D) 35%
Minnesota 2006 Pawlenty (R) 46.7% Hatch (D) 45.7%
Rhode Island 2006 Carcieri (R) 51% Fogarty (D) 49%
Vermont 2006 Douglas (R) 57% Parker (D) 41%
Hawaii 2006 Lingle (R) 62% Iwase (D) 35%
California 2006 Schwarzenegger (R) 56% Angelides (D) 39%

These examples demonstrate that voters view their governors differently, as well as establish a more personal relationship with them as opposed to their federal legislators.

• Money is always a major determining factor. Rossi's financial support is already far exceeding that of the 2004 race. Rossi announced his candidacy on October 25 and had raised more than $1.7 million by December 31. By comparison, in the 2004 campaign it was mid-April before he reached that figure. But here is an alarming statistic if you're Christine Gregoire — of the over 12,000 donors that had given money as of December 31, almost none are Olympia lobbyists, and more than 40 percent who have donated, are NEW contributors.

• Gregoire is also prohibited from fundraising during the legislative session. This means given the rate contributions are flowing in, and the ongoing organization of new fundraising sources such as the local committee just established, Rossi could conceivably catch — or surpass — her in cash on hand by the end of the session. When that happens, look for the lobbyists to begin opening their checkbooks as well. Gregoire is also spending her cash at a much faster rate than Rossi.

• TV will be a major factor. Let's face it, looks count — especially on TV. And look for a LOT of money to be spent in this campaign on TV advertising. Rossi has a distinct advantage in that he is a physically handsome man, with a easy, soft-spoken manner that comes across extremely well on TV. He's one of those people who is genuinely warm and friendly, and it shows on TV almost as well as in person. Gregoire on the other hand, appears cold, distant and confrontational — both in person as well as on TV. Her physical appearance in front of the TV camera emphasizes her hard-edged negatives — especially when she tries to smile, which usually appears less than genuine.

• Rossi's message detailing Gregoire's failures, as well as her tax and spend record, will be relentless. Gregoire has brought us the highest tax increase in state history after promising no new taxes. She waffled on restoring the one percent cap on property taxes, and could opt to raise them in the 2009 legislature if re-elected. She's also blown through the largest surplus the state has ever had — over $1.4 billion — and we could be running a $1 billion plus budget deficit by 2009 (Gregoire's own figures even predict $600+ million). Her failures to deliver on congestion relief, education reform (our children have actually gone backwards) and the fact we have the highest small business failure rate in the nation, are all well-documented facts. Rossi's message about these issues is already resonating well with voters — Republican and Democrat alike. Look for the Rossi campaign to drive these issues home at every opportunity.

• And then there is the voter's sense of fair play — and what happened in 2004. The Secretary of State didn't have a comprehensive statewide voter database in 2004, but does now. Over 176,000 felons, aliens, dead people, and other illegally registered "voters" have been purged from the rolls. This coupled with resolving the ACORN voter fraud situation means the election should be a LOT cleaner than in 2004. And like Rossi himself is fond of saying, "Everyone knows 129 people."

So can Dino Rossi win? Absolutely.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Angel Announces for State Representative in 26th.

Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel, a long time district resident, former commercial banker, Realtor and business owner, has announced her candidacy for state representative in the 26th legislative district, position 1. That seat is now held by Democrat legislator Pat Lantz.

Angel will focus on education, public safety and controlling property taxes as her top priorities when elected to the legislature.

“We have an achievement gap in our current education system, public safety is at risk with offenders being released early into our communities and people are being taxed out of their homes. This is simply unacceptable,” stated Angel. “We need people in Olympia who understand the issues and can offer positive solutions, not business as usual. My experience on the county commission and in the private sector prepared me well for this next step. I look forward to serving the people of the 26th District in the legislature.”

Angel served on the Executive Board of the regional Economic Development District, participated in a Friendship Delegation to China with Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, is a founding member of the Kitsap International Trade Council, serves on the board of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, the board of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and is past president of the Western District of the Washington State Association of Counties. She also serves on, and is past chair of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, the CENCOM 911 Policy Board, the County Emergency Management Board, Kitsap County Health District Board (2007 chair), Kitsap Transit, and will be serving as the 2008 chair of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority.

She has lived in South Kitsap for 25 years. She is married to Lynn Williams, has two adult daughters who are partners in local businesses, and is a grandmother of five. Angel attended Colorado State University and the University of Alaska, majoring in business administration. She received her Certified Public Official designation in 2003 and also is a 2003 graduate of the County Leadership Institute, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University Wagner. In addition, she is a Paul Harris Rotarian and is a member of the State of Washington Farm Bureau, the Kitsap/Mason County Farm Bureau, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and the Kitsap Audubon Society.

For more information, visit

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Does PSRC membership make sense for Kitsap?

I attended the recent Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) public hearing held in the Commissioner’s Chambers, and have been following the editorial commentary on the local blogs and in Letters to the Editor since then.

The job of the PSRC is to do regional planning for King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. It has crafted a plan called “Vision 2040,” that supposedly is our road map for land use and transportation planning, between now until then. And for those who aren’t up on such things, the PSRC is also in charge of allocating and handing out state transportation money to its four member counties.

It’s interesting to note the diametrically — or perhaps I should say ideologically — opposed editorial coverage of the public hearing by the Kitsap Sun and the Port Orchard Independent.

As reported by both papers, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) turned out in force to register its displeasure with Vision 2040 — and pointedly, the PSRC’s land use intentions for Kitsap. It’s members repeatedly told PSRC representatives in no uncertain terms the group wasn’t welcome here, and publicly called on our county commissioners to pull out of the organization.

However, depending on which paper you read, you may or may not know KAPO members weren’t the only people there expressing that opinion. Of the 80 or so people who attended the meeting and testified, only a handful were actually KAPO members. The rest were ordinary citizens concerned with what could happen to them if they didn’t register their objections. There were only three people testifying that membership in PSRC was actually a good idea for us.

Before saying anything more, in the interest of full disclosure, let me state for the record that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of KAPO.

In fact, considering my personal views on some issues near and dear to its membership, I’m not all that certain I’d even be welcome as a member.

That aside, it’s no secret KAPO is a tightly organized, militantly activist, local property rights organization that’s pretty well-informed on issues, and well-funded by its fairly conservative membership. For years, it has been an ongoing — and painful — thorn in the side of certain county commissioners. Yet it’s almost always portrayed in at least one local media as a group of anti-environment, right-wing nut jobs. In any organization, there’s always at least a few members out of touch with the mainstream. However most KAPO members I’ve met have a pretty solid grip on reality.

Although KAPO suffers from a lack of public credibility because of that media portrayal, its left-wing counterpart, the environmental extremist Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning (KCRP), is almost always treated with deference. As near as I can figure, KCRP has about 20 members — and that may be a generous assessment. Meanwhile, KAPO has quietly amassed several hundred members, begging the question, which group actually represents the local majority opinion? Is it 20 or so people continually working the GMA legal process to roadblock growth at the expense of the taxpayers, or the hundreds of residents willing to back up their beliefs with their checkbooks?

Ironically, it was only because of continual agitation by KAPO, that the PSRC public hearing was even held here at all — much less held in the evening. Originally it was scheduled for 7 p.m. on a weekday — in Edmonds.

What I also found interesting was that only one county commissioner — Jan Angel — even bothered to attend that public hearing. Angel makes no bones about the fact she doesn’t support PSRC’s ultra-liberal, socialist approach to land use.

But the issues about KAPO, KCRP and local media bias all aside, the simple question is, does getting out of the PSRC make good sense for Kitsap or not? Some elected officials privately agree it does, and will give you a laundry list of reasons why. But Jan Angel has been the only one with the political courage to step up and say so out loud.

Openly agreeing with KAPO on this in the press also resulted in the usual suspects attempting to discredit her character on the local blogs — something I’m certain she’s probably become quite used to by now.

In my view, the PSRC amounts to a monolithic, unelected government that’s accountable to no one, and dominated by ultra-liberal interests from the Interstate 5-centric side of Puget Sound. It can, and will, hold whatever transportation dollars it decides we deserve, hostage, unless we march to whatever land use tune it whistles. In my view, membership makes no sense because we’ll essentially castrate all our local land use decision-making authority from now until 2040 — and beyond.

We have extremely little in common economically or environmentally with King, Pierce or Snohomish counties. Common sense planning, coupled with retaining what local land use planning and decision making power we still have left, dictates we should either manage our rightful share of that transportation money ourselves through an organization like the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC), or align with counties we do have things in common with.

Liberal Thurston County is a perfect example of making this work. It’s about the same size as Kitsap, but isn’t a member of PSRC. Thurston manages its own state transportation dollars, and in case you haven’t been there lately, it has some of the best roads and freeways in the state.

Kitsap County has documented that it will need well over $20 million in the next 20 years to meet just our most pressing and immediate transportation needs. We have 3.08 percent of the total population of the four PSRC counties and a little over six percent of its board’s voting power. King County has 52 percent. King County’s transportation problems are well-documented — the Viaduct, massive cost overruns at Sound Transit, coupled with its grandiose, PSRC-backed expansion plans, the 520 Bridge, etc. How much impact can any thinking person believe Kitsap County actually has on PSRC’s transportation funding decisions? Membership means we’re forced to give up local land use decision-making power and live by what PSRC and King County decide for us.

Considering PSRC’s arrogant dismissal of the views expressed at the public hearing as a “minority opinion,” the real question isn’t, “Does PSRC membership make sense for Kitsap?” The question is, “WHY does it?”

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eyman Back At Work

According to story in the Seattle P.I. , Initiative King Tim Eyman — the guy many people love to hate — has what might actually be a common sense idea for taking money being collected from certain traffic fines and using it to help alleviate traffic congestion.

Eyman's proposed initiative would require local governments to spend the money it collects from red-light violation cameras on local projects specifically aimed at eliminating traffic congestion.

The local link here is that Bremerton has already approved installation of red-light cameras and is in the process of selecting the intersections where they'll be installed. The rub here is that the money the cameras will generate is supposed to pay for hiring new police officers.

While Eyman's proposed new initiative does have some merit and seems well-intentioned, I'm not too sure I'm comfortable with the idea of the state dictating how local government will spend its money — any more than it already does. Can you say "Unfunded Mandate?