GRuB Dinner and Auction

grubThe locale for this event was Schmidt Mansion, which is a lovely place on its own. But things were looking especially beautiful this evening for this fund-raiser for GRuB. Click here for a short slideshow of pictures from the evening.

About GRuB.

Military fly-overs

c17sThere are several reports of military aircraft making very low fly-overs of Olympia neighborhoods:
  • Late night military psysops in Olympia? What is the military doing that it doesn't want us to know about? ~Taryn
  • I witnessed this 'up close'. They were flying the jet right over my place only a few hundred feet over the ground, I wouldn't say it was any more then 500 or 600 feet up. And it WAS a military cargo plane. It was flying circular patterns that went right over Ft. Lewis. In the distance over FL was at least one helicopter, I could hear it and see a search light in the sky. Due to the distance, it was a couple miles away, it could have been two or more but it was hard to say for sure. The cargo plane was flying right to where the helicopters were. I could see it well enough from the street lights to tell it was a four engine cargo plane, and it was the military green color. It wasn't one of the really huge one's I see flying into McChord, but it was substantial, possibly a troop carrier.
  • Tuesday night I just laid in bed listening to and being annoyed by all the loud obviously low-flying jets passing overhead ... over and over. Thursday night, after enduring it for a while, around 11pm I went out to my front yard on Central St NE and, facing south, I saw 2 huge jets flying shockingly low, heading north almost directly over Central St. Just south of the intersection near my house (San Fransisco St) the 2 jets banked sharply - in "formation" to the east. I watched them disappear over what I assumed to be the Ft. Lewis area. Eventually, one of them circled back on almost the exact same route.
Anyone know what's up with this?

Olympia city council agenda

From the Olympian:

Because Tuesday is election day, the council will meet Monday in council chambers at City Hall, 900 Plum St. Meetings are broadcast on TCTV's Channel 3. For more information, call 360-753-8447.

This week's agenda includes:

  • A 5:30 p.m. land use committee meeting on South Capitol Neighborhood parking and the downtown Business Improvement District.
  • A 7 p.m. business meeting with a public hearing on comprehensive plan amendments.

Flower baskets are the answer


The Olympian comes out strongly in favor of a Business Improvement District (BID) for downtown Olympia. Business owners would be taxed between $300 and $750 per year, totaling $130k annually:

That money would be spent to promote downtown as a shopping destination and for other improvements such as graffiti removal or hanging flower baskets, more benches or construction of a parking garage.

To suggest that such a small amount of money will help with the "construction of a parking garage" is somewhat absurd (unless the help consists of buying coffee for the construction workers). It also seems disingenuous to claim that there will be more benches installed downtown. Business have already removed most benches because they don't want to attract street people. As we know, removing grafitti won't end grafitti. Thus, we are left with flower baskets as the tool that the BID intends to use to "promote downtown as a shopping destination."

If I owned a business downtown, I wouldn't want to contribute to the BID either. Ooops. Looks like payment would be manditory:

Now comes word that about 60 downtown business owners have signed a petition opposing the formation of the district. Opponents say they would prefer a voluntary assessment. They also object to the fact that, under the existing plan, businesses that refuse to pay the annual assessment would be turned over to a collection agency.

Voluntary assessments are a problem because they would not provide a reliable revenue source. Secondly, it's important that all businesses unite in the quest to revitalize the downtown core. It's a shared responsibility, and that means businesses should share in the investment.

As for the collection agency, it's appropriate to draw parallels to the neighborhood association again. Residents who don't pay their homeowners' assessment can have liens placed on their property. The business assessment is a tax, and owners have an obligation to pay it like any other tax.

Hmmm. This doesn't sound like it will encourage many new small businesses to start up in downtown Olympia. On the contrary, it sounds like one more burden that would prevent businesses (especially small ones) from even considering the idea.

We should be talking about this!

The various races for city council have been pretty boring lately, and this worries me. Whether you are a progressive or a conservative, there is reason to be involved. Doug Mah is talking about community building and working with social groups to reform downtown. Ira Knight wants to work with the police to create zero tolerence policies for loitering, panhandling, graffitti, etc. Silence from John Bell so far leaves Joe Hyer with no competition and I expect it to remain this way. This election is critical for our community, the Olympian is serving as not a community newspaper, but as a mouthpiece for the ODA and their agenda. Joe Hyer is a former president of the ODA (Olympia Downtown Association), Jeff Kingsbury is the current president of the ODA. Should they both be on the council together will they represent the Olympia community or will we see them strongly advocating for large businesses? A number of smaller, and some not so small, businesses in Olympia are against the ODA's Business Improvement District (BID), some who signed originally want to take back their support, but it may well pass regardless. Under the BID, even if a business doesn't agree to it, they will be taxed for it. If they don't pay the tax, the city will fine them. Is this an example of a free market?

We should be talking about this!

New features

I've added a couple of new features:

  • The video interview of Mayor Foutch is now accessible on the sidebar, as are the interviews with folks living on the street.
  • I've added an rss feed of blogs that mention "Olympia". It is located below the links section on the sidebar.
  • I've been slowly accumulating links to local blogs, resources, and music, and I'd appreciate any new links that folks know of that I haven't yet run across.
Any comments on the layout or funciton of the site would be welcome.

A debate?

I notice a lot of conversation going on in the comments about the merits (or lack thereof) of the "Community Values" Ordinance. I wonder if the commenters wouldn't mind consolidating their thoughts into a post for the front page (I'm thinking of TFI & Rob Richards, but anyone would be welcome to contribute). Waddaya think?

Another Lowe's?

Do we really need a third Lowe's in the area? The Olympian:

mapThe home improvement chain has a store on Martin Way and submitted plans for a 166,000-square-foot store at College Street and Yelm Highway in Lacey. A west-side Olympia site would be its third in the county.

First book for local author reports on a new book by Olympia resident Jim Lynch.

book coverWe're eating lunch at Seattle's Pike Place Market, high above the life-choked waters of Puget Sound, talking about Lynch's debut novel. "The Highest Tide" (Bloomsbury, $23.95) tells the story of Miles O'Malley, a 13-year-old boy who discovers a lot of misdirected sea life near his house in Olympia, Wash. Miles, a marine biology prodigy, knows what belongs in his part of the sound - sand dollars, clams, crabs - and what doesn't belong. For instance, a giant squid with a single eye the size of a dinner plate. When he finds just such a rare squid on a midnight reconnaissance, Miles becomes a local hero, a media attraction, and then even a kind of minor-league environmental saint.

More reviews here, here, and here.

Meet the author: Tacoma Public Library AUTHOR Series Jim Lynch, author of “The Highest Tide,

Americans displaced by Katrina arrive in Olympia

Read about families that have landed in the Olympia area from the Gulf Coast here, here, and here.

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