Republican candidates convene in Issaquah for campaign boot camp

June 29, 2010

Political candidates convened in Issaquah last week to learn how to be better campaigners and, perhaps someday soon, lawmakers.

The right-of-center Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute recruits and readies potential candidates for office. The institute, a three-day course held through June 26 at the Issaquah Hilton Garden Inn, included Republican up-and-comers seeking state Senate and House of Representatives seats.

Think of the session as summer school for candidates, with the first test set for the Aug. 17 primary.

In addition to policy primers, the 23-member class took in lessons about government institutions, the political process and how to communicate to voters and journalists.

Instructors included state Rep. Kevin Parker, a popular Spokane Republican; staffers from the Washington Policy Center, a Seattle-based think tank; and Troy Nichols, policy director for the House GOP caucus.

Washington Democrats run a similar boot camp for candidates, the Institute for a Democratic Future.

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Off the Press

June 29, 2010

Warren Kagarise Press Reporter

Go bargain hunting with a Costco newbie

Costco Wholesale spends nothing on advertising and lacks a public relations team, but the Issaquah-based retail Goliath generates buzz aplenty.

Costco instead relies on customers — and the occasional endorsement from the queen of all media — to build business.

Take, for instance, the televised trip talk titan Oprah Winfrey took to Costco in 2004. The company paid nothing for the national exposure afforded to Kirkland Signature chicken potpie and cashmere sweaters.

Such Costco lore — the stealth marketing strategy, the casual corporate culture, the bargains and, of course, the bulk — had long fascinated me, even though I had never set foot inside a Costco.

For a piece in the summertime Issaquah Living magazine inside this newspaper, I set out to chronicle how Costco continued to thrive and expand despite the recession. So, as I reported the piece, I ducked inside the flagship Issaquah warehouse with a card-carrying member.

I received no Oprah-style red carpet treatment — although, to be fair, I had not alerted Costco execs to my arrival — but I left impressed. Not just by the sheer amounts, but also by the niceties scattered throughout the warehouse — decent wines, designer jeans and the like. Read more

FISH, Friends of Youth receive grants

June 29, 2010

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Friends of Youth last week received a combined $4,000 in grants from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation, the charitable organization announced June 22.

The salmon-centric nonprofit organization received a $2,500 grant. FISH coordinates volunteer and educational outreach activities at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, the most-visited hatchery in the state system.

The foundation awarded a $1,500 grant to Friends of Youth, a Redmond-based nonprofit organization set up to provide counseling and transitional housing for children and teenagers. Friends of Youth operates a downtown Issaquah office.

Including the FISH and Friends of Youth awards, the foundation announced 61 grants worth $155,000. The foundation awarded the grants — ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 — after a competitive review. More than 120 nonprofits organizations applied for the dollars.

“The Puget Sound Energy Foundation is proud to help local organizations that provide support to our customers,” Andy Wappler, Puget Sound Energy Foundation chairman and president, said in a news release. “We understand how important funding is to charitable organizations — and even more so during these tough economic times. The foundation, our company and employees work hard to meet the needs of our communities.”

Puget Energy, Puget Sound Energy’s Bellevue-based parent company, created the foundation in 2006 with a $15 million endowment. No foundation money comes from PSE utility customers.

Supreme Court hears arguments in special education suit spearheaded by Issaquah

June 29, 2010

State Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments June 22 from state and school district officials regarding how special education is funded statewide.

Spearheaded in part by Issaquah School District officials in 2004, the 12-member School Districts’ Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education lawsuit calls into question how special education is funded.

Specifically, district officials say the state’s funding system for special education is unconstitutional and inadequate, leaving them to fund a large portion of special-education programs with local taxpayer dollars. They argue that under the state’s constitution, state officials should fully fund all special-education programs.

A verdict by the Supreme Court won’t likely be returned for nine months to a year, district officials said.

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City delays right of way decision until July

June 29, 2010

City Council members delayed a decision on a section of right of way near East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast until July 6.

The council held a hearing about the 229th Avenue Southeast right of way June 7. Members decided to extend the hearing in order to ensure the city had taken ample steps to contact adjacent landowners. The council held the initial hearing in May.

The right of way runs near the Boeing building behind The Home Depot. City Transportation Manager Gary Costa said the city had difficulty contacting the property manager for the Boeing complex.

King County required the developer to dedicate right of way for 229th Avenue Southeast in case the county or city someday decided extend the street from south of Issaquah-Fall City Road to connect to Southeast Black Nugget Road. In order to accommodate such a link, the county called for a 60-foot earthen embankment alongside the right of way.

Issaquah annexed the area a decade ago, but the city has no interest in developing the right of way into a road link. Under state law, officials must first contact adjacent landowners and hold a public hearing before relinquishing the right of way.

Prepare for Independence Day travel delays

June 29, 2010

Road crews will take a break for Independence Day weekend, but drivers across Washington should prepare for added travel times during the holiday weekend.

Work at most state Department of Transportation construction projects in the state will move off highways from noon July 2 until the morning of July 6. But drivers should still prepare for shifted lanes, detours and reduced speed limits near worksites.

Check the transportation agency website, for the most-traveled — and delay-prone — routes: Interstate 90, Interstate 5 at the Canadian border, I-5 through Lewis County and U.S. Route 2.

Or call the 24-hour traveler information hotline, 511.

Expect longer-than-typical waits at ferry docks and Canadian border crossings most of the holiday weekend. Travel times should be much lighter June 30, and July 1 and 5.

City posts Park Pointe material online

June 29, 2010

The city has posted the latest documents related to the plan to preserve the Park Pointe property online for residents to review.

Find a proposed timeline for the planned transfer of development rights, proposed agreements and environmental reports here.

If city officials and landowners can pull off the proposed transfer, about 140 forested acres will be preserved — 102 acres at the Park Pointe site on lower Tiger Mountain and 43 acres adjacent to the Issaquah Highlands.

Before the land can be set aside for conservation, the City Council must sign off on bills to initiate the transfer of development rights and amend the agreement with highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to address the 43-acre site. The developer could be allowed to build 500 more residences in the highlands.

The process — proposed in 2008 — slowed as the previous Park Pointe owner declared bankruptcy, and a Seattle bank foreclosed on the property in March. City officials and Port Blakely executives hope to complete the proposed swap early next year.

EFR directs donation toward new equipment purchases

June 29, 2010

Eastside Fire & Rescue is directing a donation of more than $4,700 to an organization primarily dedicated to buying equipment for their own firefighters.

“The work they’re doing helps us meet the mission we are tasked with,” said Jeff Griffin, EFR deputy chief of operations.

The donation is more than three-quarters of the money private ambulance service American Medical Response will donate to local charities the board chooses. This year’s donations included $1,500 to Ryan’s Solution, a nonprofit run by an EFR firefighter aimed at ending teenage abuse of prescription medicine, and $4,739 to Eastside Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, a nonprofit support group for EFR firefighters.

The annual donation is part of EFR’s services agreement with AMR and can go to any nonprofit the board sees as worthy, provided they are a registered 501(c)3, according to EFR documents presented at the board of directors’ June 10 meeting. The volunteer association meets the requirement.

Brant Butte, AMR’s director of communications, said the company has not yet reviewed the board’s recommendation and will evaluate it when it hears from the board. In past years, the board has asked AMR to donate the money to area food banks.

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Council supports effort to acquire space shuttle

June 29, 2010

King County Council members cleared a space shuttle for landing June 28.

The council offered support to a push by The Museum of Flight to acquire a decommissioned orbiter. The council approved the ceremonial measure a day before the museum broke ground on a facility to house a space exhibit and, maybe, a space shuttle.

Issaquah resident and former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar leads the effort to acquire the spacecraft for the Seattle museum.

NASA will retire the three orbiters by next year. Museums across the nation hope to net the shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour. The space agency has promised the shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and state legislators offered support — and $3 million — to help land a shuttle for Washington.

Museum leaders touted the facility as a smart choice for a shuttle, because the museum sits amid a population center and adjacent to the type of airfield needed to deliver a shuttle. The museum also talked up the aerospace heritage inherent in the region. In addition, several astronauts hail from the Pacific Northwest, including Dunbar, a Washington native.

Know safety, laws about fireworks

June 29, 2010

A dummy hand is missing fingers after incorrectly lighting a Silver Salute, which is equal to the effects of 100 firecrackers. By Elizabeth DeVos

The Fourth of July is about enjoying the sun, if it decides to come out from behind the clouds, picnics and the exciting sounds and vast array of colors from lighting off fireworks.

In cities where fireworks are legal, stands opened this June 21. Although fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Issaquah, many people still ignite the dangerous explosives and quickly run away in order to watch the fiery display they put off.

“We want to remind residents of Washington to be safe,” said Karen Jones, deputy state fire marshal of the state fire marshal and data analysis. “Check the laws of your community as they change.”

According to the annual fireworks report put out by the Washington State Patrol, males ages 15-21 account for most fireworks-related injuries. In 2009, 200 firework related injuries were reported.

Hand and eye injuries are reported most, followed by head, face and ear injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

“Plan ahead for mishaps,” said Special Agent Phillip Whitley, of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It’s also important to understand which fireworks are legal in your area, he said.

Fireworks should be left unaltered and only used as directed by the warning label that’s required by federal law. An improvised, altered firework can lead to burns, amputation of limbs and even death. Read more

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