Category Archives: Community
Testimony opposing HB-1018 on boater education
Here is my written testimony opposing House bill HB-1018 (and matching Senate bill SB-5176) This bill is intended to extend powerboat permit laws to human powered boats. I also gave verbal testimony during the public hearing today by the House Committee on Community & Economic Development. You can watch the replay of the hearing here. The committee meeting opens with a presentation about the stats of the Washington State Park system. The hearing for the bill starts at 0:34:00 My testimony starts at 1:19:33. If you want to give them input, they will take written testimony here until 10:00am tomorrow (1/21/2021).
“I grew up in Florida. Florida is the mecca of water sports. I’ve been paddling since I was 10.
I was a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard Instructor and in Boy Scouts I taught paddling safety.
At The University of Florida I handled waterfront safety for our sailboard, sailboat and canoe rentals to students.
I’ve been an avid whitewater and sea kayaker for 30 years and I’m trained in swift water rescue.
Thank you for your efforts on this issue. Having personally served as a water safety professional, I appreciate your passion and efforts to make water sports safer. But trying to force power boating rules and regulations on recreational paddling won’t work. If it were at all viable, Florida would have done it long ago.
The organized paddling community already does a fantastic job of safety education. Whitewater boaters are obsessive about river safety. Whitewater paddlers are statistically far more likely to get killed driving to the river than paddling it. No amount of legislation could match — much less improve — what they already do. Similarly, sea kayakers are very focused on safety.
Every sport has different safety education requirements. Whitewater paddlers use helmets and rescue throw ropes; sea kayakers use paddle floats and lights and have to know how to self-rescue far from shore; paddle boarders and surfers use board leashes; surfers actually avoid wearing a PFD because it would keep them from diving to avoid a wave. One safety class cannot cover all sports and being educated in one sport cannot prepare someone for other sports. So one boater card cannot ensure they have studied the knowledge they need for every craft they may paddle. What is even worse is that it will give holders a false sense of security that they know everything they need to be safe in any circumstance and create a liability for the State of Washington.
This bill includes paddle boards, but excludes sail boards, and makes no mention at all of kiteboards or surfboards. Apart from the kite or removable sail, they’re all about the same thing. The only difference is how they move.
It is ironic that this bill EXCLUDES the 2 groups who are most at risk:
- Those who take air mattresses, inner tubes, and single-chamber toy rafts on dangerous waters. They don’t have PFDs because they consider themselves swimming.
- Those operating boats with a small engines (under 15 HP). They may be misled by the existing law into complacency assuming that because they don’t have a big motor, they are not at risk. This may create another legal liability for the state.
In fact, by excluding motors under 15 HP, if I toss a trolling motor inside my kayak, I wouldn’t need to buy a permit.
This legislation is the same as requiring permits to ride skateboards, bicycles, go backcountry skiing, rock climbing or horseback riding. Yet those activities can be every bit as dangerous as paddle sports. Backcountry skiers aren’t required to take an avalanche class and get a permit. Cyclists aren’t required to pass any test. Hikers and backpackers aren’t required to take any safety classes, yet rescues of hikers happen far more often than paddlers.
Finally, this is a regressive and inequitable tax. It creates another barrier to entry that discriminates against the poor who can’t afford luxury activities.
Testimony was given in opposition by representation in every affected stakeholder group: the national organizations on paddling safety (American Whitewater, American Canoe Association), a kayak manufacturer (Eddyline Kayaks), by a whitewater rafting outfitter, the Recreational Boating Association and private paddlers.
The only verbal testimony given in support of HB-1018 was by the 2 businesses that stand to gain by making a profit from it. That would be Tom Hayward, the Chief Financial Officer of NASBLA, based in Lexington, Kentucky who sustains his employment by providing services to states that implement legislation like this; and Amy Brackenbury from Kalkomey Entrprises https://www.kalkomey.com/ a business that sells the online courses that would be sold to the millions of people seeking a boater card. The deaths Ms Brackenbury cited in her testimony were given completely out of context. She offers no proof that a boater card would have prevented these deaths. Beware of emotional arguments used to sell products. She also made the claim that accidents and fatalities are spiking as people get outdoors more in response to COVID, yet testimony from Rob Sendak, Boating Programs Manager and Washington State Boating Laws Administrator housed under the Washington State Parks Department stated that accidents have actually declined. Kalkomey Enterprises has much to profit for decades to come if this bill were to pass.
This is an education problem, not a compliance problem. You are law makers, but not every problem is solved by making a law. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Making ignorance illegal won’t change anything. If you feel you must do something, then analyze the primary causes of paddle sports accidents and address them specifically. Reach out to the paddling organizations that have many decades dealing in paddler safety. I have included the most relevant ones below:
Washington State Parks already partners with American Canoe Association for paddler education programs. You can find the links here:
American Whitewater even keeps a detailed database of all river related deaths along with a detailed analysis of the contributing factors along with valuable graphics that categorize the causes of these incidents. This is a must-view website: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/view/
American Whitewater https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Safety/view/?
American Canoe Association https://www.americancanoe.org/page/Courses
North Sound Sea Kayak Association https://nsska.clubexpress.com/
Washington Recreational River Runners http://wrrr.org/category/rivers/river_safety/
The Mountaineers https://www.mountaineers.org/
National Center for Cold Water Safety http://www.coldwatersafety.org
Kayak Academy http://www.kayakacademy.com
Washington Kayak Club http://washingtonkayakclub.org/
Washington State Primaries Ballot: What you need to know
I attended a presentation by King County Director of Elections Julie Wise. She presented some important information regarding the Primary election coming to the State of Washington for the first time since we voted to change from a Caucus process last year. Even if you aren’t in King County, the ballot and election date is the same state-wide. Here are the facts you need to know…
Photo of the sample ballot:
Photo of ballot envelope:
- Everyone will receive the same ballot regardless of party affiliation.
- You must indicate a party affiliation in order to vote in the primary and you must select someone from the party you indicate, otherwise your ballot will not count.
- If you vote for more than one candidate, your ballot will not count. If you make a mistake, follow the instructions on how to cross it out and change your choice.
- You must sign your ballot and that signature must match what you provided when you registered to vote. If it does not, they will attempt to contact you if you provided contact information, otherwise your ballot will not count.
- Your party preference will be public record and it will be kept for 90 days after which time it will be deleted.
- The preferred method for voting is to use the ballot drop boxes around the county. Here is a map of their locations. No stamp is needed and it can be dropped off up to 8:00pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
- If you choose to mail your ballot, it is recommended to do so at least several days prior to March 10 because mail is not certain to be picked up every day from your mailbox. Generally it is only picked up when you receive mail. If you drop off at the post office, be sure it is prior to the collection time for that box on March 10. If you miss the pickup, your ballot will be postmarked the next day and it will not be counted.
We are so lucky that Washington State is exclusively vote-by-mail. We have the luxury to take our time reviewing, studying and marking our ballot at home instead of driving to a polling center and standing in line to cast your vote. That might explain why Washington always has one of the highest voter turnouts. Even a poorly-timed blizzard won’t keep us from voting IF you plan ahead. But you have to be registered. March 2 is the deadline to register online or by mail and participate in the Primaries election. March 10 is the deadline for registering in person. But trust me, you don’t want to have to drive to the elections office to register. Do it online now. All the important dates can be found here.
There is also this great posting on the official state website on more FAQs. Definitely worth reading.
Would you intentionally hit someone with your car?
Scenario: You’re driving down a rural 2 lane highway with no shoulders. You see some people on bicycles ahead and slow down because just as you reach them you enter a NO PASSING zone and the road goes around a long, sweeping blind curve to the left. The cyclists have spread out to ride 2 abreast so you can only pass them when it is safe to use the other lane. This is the prescribed procedure for bikes and any other vehicle. You are stuck behind them waiting for the passing zone, or so it would seem. Would you ever do this?…
I live on the eastside (that is all the cities on the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle.) I like to ride my bike to get places (and avoid traffic) as well as for exercise. I also drive a car and own a house and have a daughter, family, friends. I run a business and have people working for me that rely on me. It is easy to become disconnected from the reality of our actions as we drive behind the wheel, windows up, radio playing. It feels more like a video game than actually being there. It is easy to forget that the person walking along the street or traveling on the bike is not a target, but a person. Never, ever allow yourself or anyone else to get away with this brutal behavior.
Read the full story about this video: https://www.bike198.com/ill-ride-road-bike-road/
New Mayor of Bothell follows old Mayor’s corrupt habits
Fellow Bothell, WA residents, Once again there are more signs of corruption within our city council, specifically surrounding Mayor Joshua Freed and his friend and business partner, current council member and Former Mayor Mark Lamb.
In case people have forgotten, in 2012, Lamb lied to us denying the allegations of having a 2-year-long affair with his secretary.
then later admitted to it.
At that time I posted that if he can’t be trusted to uphold his solemn oath of marriage, how could he possibly be expected to uphold his oath of political office?
Now Joshua Freed is recusing himself of matters of the city trying to purchase the Wayne golf course he and Mark Lamb have teamed up to try to buy and develop that property themselves. The ongoing evidence of a lack of integrity and using their public office for personal gain is chronic and abhorrent.
Fortunately the citizens of Bothell have organized to see that this golf course becomes a protected greenway rather than a housing development. See http://onebothell.org/
Here are more links of interest regarding this issue:
Mark Lamb is a real estate attorney as stated in his Linkedin profile.
He represents clients in transactional and litigation matters in real estate and venture capital. Joshua Freed is a real estate developer as stated in his Linkedin profile.
It would appear that together they are doing business from the Bothell City Council dais. This is not an isolated incident of not acting in Bothell’s best interests. Let’s consider the purchase of a superfluous $52 million city hall with so much extra office space that the city doesn’t expect to need one entire floor of the 4 story building for decades to come (and by law can’t be leased out). That purchase was driven through without a taxpayer vote. Or the McMenamins project downtown where these two drove a vote to accept the several-hundred-page contract in less than 48 hours of receiving it. Later it was revealed the “aquatic center” (which is desperately needed by the Northshore School District swimming & diving programs) was replaced with a wading pool in the contract. I’m having trouble seeing how these two are on the Bothell City Council for altruistic reasons. Legitimate leadership would not allow these things to happen.
If you drive on any roads in the Bothell area, you will see what at first look like Joshua Freed campaign signs. But quickly you will notice it says “Impeach Joshua Freed for Conflict of Interest”. There are two problems with this sign. First, we don’t impeach him. We have a Recall. Second, it should also include council member and Former Mayor Mark Lamb.
Be sure to visit http://impeachfreed.com for more details and show up at the city council meetings Tuesday nights to voice your opinion during the public input.
Witness to a Murder (of crows)
Taking a diversion from the usual technology-related topic to share a bit of what most people will never see, Sunday morning, 5:30 AM, the first day of Fall, 2014. My internal alarm clock wakes me up. It is still quite dark outside. Charlie, our rooster hasn’t even woken up yet. That reminds me of something I have wanted to do for a long time: watch the large flock of birds by UW Bothell leave their roost. Would there ever be a better day to do it than today? Probably not. So I got up, grabbed the camera and tripod and headed over to the bike trail by the UW Bothell campus.
I got there by 6:00 AM. The air was mild and very calm. It was still dark enough that the dark side of the New Moon with a brighter thin crescent edge was visible to the east, looking out over the roosting area.
I set up my camera and waited. It wasn’t long before the first birds start to fly, around 6:10 AM. It started off slow at first, but very quickly the sky was full of them – A Murder of many thousands of Crows!
I was able to capture the sunrise as they left their roost in rivers of birds flying out to greet the world. I noticed that they don’t just fly out in all directions. Instead, they follow flight paths as if Air Traffic Control were giving them instructions. The stream of birds went on for over 30 minutes. Since it was early on a Sunday morning, the traffic noise from the highway was quiet. The result is a very peaceful, almost meditational video. I can imagine leaving the video playing on one of my computer monitors for a calm white-noise effect to offset the chimes of meeting reminders and email alerts while I work. It is recorded in HD, so it’s worth watching in full screen.
Don’t let the conditioning of modern television’s 5 to 20 second long clips between scene changes make you anxious after a minute or two of this. Consider finding a time when you can sit and let the video play in its entirety as if you were there yourself, filming it. If you are looking for a moment of excitement, you will have to create it yourself. Count the number of times you see a lone bird flying in the other direction. Or count the number of times a bird flaps its wings as it passes by. Or count the number of times a pair of Canada Geese fly by. Or count the number of distinct caws you hear. Or simply count the number of birds that fly by. Or just watch the rhythm of the stream of birds as the sky gradually changes color. This far north, we have long sunrises. Enjoy.
The Bothell crows make up a murder of many thousands of crows that roost every night at the 58 acre wetlands restoration site sandwiched between I-405, Hwy 522, and the University of Washington-Bothell campus.
The restoration project was started 12 years ago. This is what it looked like back then:
You can learn more about this flock of crows at the UW website.
And their Facebook page.
You can also get a better idea of just how large this murder is from this footage of them gathering again at the end of the day.
Bothell City Council exposed for avoiding due process to build a new $47 Million City Hall without a Public Vote
If you live in the City of Bothell, you will definitely be interested in watching what happened at the City Council meeting on May 20th
It is long, but you need to watch the first 20 minutes and again at about time stamp 2:54:00.
After watching it I am certain you will be motivated enough to visit the next City Council meeting in person and let them know how you feel about what they are planning to do with your money. The next meeting is Tuesday, June 3rd at 6:00 PM at City Hall.
In summary: First, they are planning on spending $47 Million on a brand new city hall building. Without a public vote and, as you can see in this video, without even spending an extra hour to review the 200 page document after getting the final price quote.
They already spent about $1 Million to get a design for it. Now they are discussing moving forward to close on a deal to pay Vulcan Real Estate to build this new city hall. The new building will be 66,000 square feet versus the current 11,000 square foot building. While we may need new facilities, do we really need something 6 times larger? They don’t even know what to do with the 4th floor. It will be vacant! Do we need to build a brand new facility when there is ample suitable real estate readily available at a much lower cost? Are there other things of a higher priority that we should be spending our money on first?
Of course, if you were a council member and received campaign funds from Vulcan Real Estate to help get elected to Bothell City Council, then I suppose you would be pushing very hard to award Vulcan this $50,000,000 deal. Fortunately we have due process that should protect us from conflicts of interest like this, yes? Well apparently not this time. Normally when the city is considering spending such a huge capital outlay, they put it to a vote by the public as will be the case for the other big item they are planning: a $42 Million bond measure they are going to ask for in the fall to pay for “parks and roads improvements”. Why? because we won’t have enough money after they buy this new city hall. But that’s another story.
THERE WILL BE NO PUBLIC VOTE on spending this $47,000,000 of our tax money, which, when you divide it up among the 33,000 residents (correction, 39,000 including those annexed earlier this year who were not informed about this measure at the time they agreed to the annexation) within the City of Bothell, amounts to about $1,500 for every man, woman and child in the city. Since my daughter isn’t paying taxes, I guess I’ll have to cover her share too. This is crazy. They haven’t even found where they will get the funding to cover all of the costs of the current project to revitalize downtown. And now they are talking about spending an additional $50 Million on one building. AT THE SAME TIME they will ask for a public vote on a bond to raise $42 Million for additional downtown revitalization projects including turning Hwy 527 through the downtown area into a boulevard (bi-directional traffic in the middle with separate one-way streets with parking on either side). And those improvements won’t even cover the costs to finish the plans for the park at Bothell Landing.
All of this while our road maintenance is already under-funded by somewhere around $70 million and our existing roads are crumbling and without adequate pedestrian access such as this article describing 195th St / Hollyhills Dr behind the Seattle Times building.
The Call to Action is simple: Attend the next Bothell City Council meeting Tuesday, June 3 at 6:00 PM. Sign up for the Visitor Comments which come at the beginning of the meeting. Speak your position. Stay for the agenda topic where you will be able to voice your opinion further. Make your voice heard. Remember that you elected them and they work for you. Be sure to watch the May 20th meeting to fully prepare yourself.
Last meeting Former Mayor Lamb also received a gavel in honor of “amazing service to Bothell”. Read this article to learn more about the truth of his character.
Request to repair Bothell road and provide pedestrian access to 1000 homes instead of spending $42M on a Boulevard
Open letter to the Bothell City Council and City Manager:
The 1000 households that live in Morningside, Hollyhills, and Pioneer Hills don’t need a wider sidewalk to connect Pop Keeney to the park at Bothell Landing as you are proposing with AB #14-75 to designate Main Street and the multi-way boulevard as parkways at a cost of $42 Million. What we need is a safe way for our kids to walk or bike from our neighborhoods to the YMCA or the softball and soccer fields in the North Creek business park that are just half a mile away.
While there are many roads within the city that are in great disrepair, I want to bring this one to your attention that is in exceptional need of repairs and improvements.
195th St / NE Hollyhills Dr connects nearly 1000 Bothell homes to the rest of the city. This road is the only connection between these neighborhoods and the rest of the city for pedestrians and the primary route for all traffic going into Bothell from these neighborhoods. Specifically, it has two problems:
First, this road is very badly broken and potholed. The roadway is so badly broken it sounds like a gravel road when you drive on it. It is so deeply cracked that it is now further susceptible to freeze cracking and heaving which is greatly accelerating the destruction of this roadway.
Second, and an even bigger hazard is that there is no sidewalk beside this road one side has no shoulder while what little shoulder there is on the other side is either saturated mud in the winter or overgrown with chest-high weeds and blackberry vines in the summer. Also there is one section where a jersey barrier forces pedestrians into the right-of-way even if the blackberries and mud do not. This is especially dangerous given the 2 blind curves and that it is on a steep hill. This is a very popular bike route but with no safe passage for bikes moving slowly up the hill in the lane of traffic and the cracks in the road make it very unsafe for fast-moving bikes going downhill. See the photos below. One is of a mother pushing her baby stroller on this road approaching a blind curve. This is the only route from the Hollyhills, Morningside, and Pioneer Hills neighborhoods into the City of Bothell including access to the YMCA and the 4 ball fields in the North Creek business park at the bottom of the hill. Today when my daughter and I go the the Y, we have to drive the half mile because there is no sidewalk and no shoulder on Hollyhills Drive behind the Seattle Times building. The Hollyhills neighborhood is low income neighborhood, so many of those residents don’t even own a car. They don’t have a choice. You can see them risking their lives walking down that road. Not because they want to, but because they have to. NOTHING has been done to the roads in these neighborhoods for at least 15 years. It is time to spread the wealth. There are now 39,000 residents in this city. Until you fix what is broken, you don’t need to spend one more dollar on that one square mile of downtown.
Please get this roadway repaired and add a sidewalk and bike lanes.
Readers, you should watch the May 20th recording of the Bothell City Council, in particular, go to 2:54:00 to hear Council member Tris Samberg put things in perspective on the latest bond proposal.
Here’s to my friend Tim Tripcony
Tim, your passing is felt around the world, even here in Washington state. Your genius only eclipsed by your humble nature. So much more I want to say, but I’m without words.
Follow Scott Hooks for more info.
Helping my friend the best I can. His story will move you.
Brian Steele is my good friend and one of the best managers I have ever worked for. I remember the day when he quietly explained to me that they had just learned his son Cullen had Pulmonary Hypertension. I never heard of it before and asked “Is it bad?” “Yeah, it’s bad.” he said. Watch this video and learn Cullen’s story.
At the time Brian mentioned it, I didn’t fully appreciate what it all meant or the impact it would have on him and his family. Since then I have come to understand much more and to be very thankful for the health of my own daughter. Please take a moment to learn what this is and share it so that others can be aware of it. Early detection is crucial. Cullen will need a heart and double lung transplant. If you find you can help Cullen and his family, please do so at http://www.cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforCullenS
Follow his story at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cullensteele
Also, educate your family about organ donation at http://www.organdonor.org