Monthly Archives: February 2010

Suquamish Tribe Buys White Horse

By Brynn Grimley
Port Madison Enterprises, the business arm of the Suquamish Tribe, has purchased White Horse Golf Course near Kingston along with 159 undeveloped lots surrounding the par 72-course.
The sale was finalized late Thursday. PME officials would not disclose the purchase price.
“Our long-range business plans have always called for us to own or develop a golf course, so this is perfect for us,” said PME CEO Russell Steele. “It fits our resort, it fits our gamers. It complements everything we do.”
The course and larger housing development have been at the center of bankruptcy filings and foreclosures.
The 18-hole course opened in 2007 to critical praise, but the surrounding 159 housing lots remained empty, waiting for later phases of development. About 40 of 65 planned homes were built in the first phase, but the housing market crashed shortly after, leaving the project at a standstill.
But White Horse’s troubles began well before the housing market decline. Environmental and community groups fought the project in court and through the permitting process from when it was first proposed in the mid-’90s. The Suquamish Tribe was one of the most vocal opponents.
The tribe opposed what it felt was overdevelopment of the area and expressed concern about the impact that the development might have on the environment and on the tribal way of life. The development is north of Indianola, with parts of the property jutting on to the tribe’s Port Madison Indian Reservation.
In a Kitsap Sun article from Oct. 15, 1996, then-tribal Secretary Leonard Forsman said the development clashed with the traditions of the tribe. If built, he said then, it would result in the Suquamish people feeling like “second-class citizens on their own land.”
Fifteen years later a lot has changed, said Forsman, now the tribal chairman. At the time White Horse was proposed, the tribe was battling a number of developments that it felt would negatively impact the surrounding environment and related water resources.
Some of the concerns surrounding White Horse were addressed through the permitting process and some weren’t, he said.
Reflecting on the tribe’s history with the project, Forsman said that the recent purchase was an “interesting turn of events.”
“I probably wouldn’t have been able to predict it then that it would happen,” he said of the sale. But buying land that once belonged to tribal ancestors and returning it to the tribe has always been a priority, Forsman said.
“For us to acquire a piece of property this large and to be able to add a golf course to our business enterprise unit is exciting,” he said. “We are really looking forward to investing in that property out there and diversifying our economy like we’ve been doing for the last 15 years.”
PME has watched events involving the golf course and development closely over the past year.
In August 2009, original White Horse developer Robert Screen of Bainbridge Island filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid foreclosure on the development. According to bankruptcy documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle, White Horse was in arrears to Bainbridge Island-based American Marine Bank for more than $5.7 million for unpaid loan principal, interest and unpaid taxes.
Screen had hoped to find private investors to keep the development off the auction block. His attempts failed and he withdrew the bankruptcy filing. The course and undeveloped lots went to auction in December, but no offers were made.
Ownership was transferred to American Marine, which immediately sought a buyer. Around that same time, PME began private talks with the bank to purchase the property. A golf course management company was hired to run the course in the meantime.
American Marine was seized by regulators and turned over to Columbia State Bank of Tacoma earlier this year.
With the course in its possession, the tribe will shift focus to building it into the type of facility “everybody expects it to be,” Steele said. It will remain open and Touchstone Golf Management, the company hired by the bank, will continue to operate the course as it works with PME. In the coming months, the tribe plans to announce marketing packages that link its Clearwater Casino with the course.
The tribe has no plans yet for the undeveloped lots but whatever is decided will “address our needs and also respect our value system,” Forsman said.

Youth Center Hoped for in Bremerton

By Rachel Pritchett
Two Catholic groups hope to open a “youth connection center” in downtown Bremerton to help kids in crisis.
Before the facility could come online, some $1.3 million would have to be raised, licenses would have to be obtained and renovations would have to be made in the empty storefront at the Max Hale Center.
That could take a year and maybe longer, according to David Kucklick, service director for the Family Preservation Program of Bremerton. Family Preservation, a Catholic Community Services program, is pairing with Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington to try to make the center happen.
The center’s supporters say that it will offer a safe haven to young people suffering domestic abuse at home, who’ve been kicked out of foster care, who are living on the streets or who are suffering addictions.
Trained staff members would work with community social-service partners, and also with the person’s natural circle of support — extended family, teachers, coaches and pastors — to find a way to place the child into a safe family environment.
“It’s really that partnership that makes it work,” Kucklick said.
The space at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Fifth Street has been empty for years. Planners envision a complete interior redo.
When done, the 6,800 square feet of space would have 25 beds. The youngest visitors could stay a night or two, and visitors 18 and older could stay as long as 21 days, according to Denise Solada of Catholic Housing Services and program director for the Max Hale Center.
The concept already has the support of Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.
Solada and Kucklick also hope to offer a mentoring program for the troubled youth, enlisting businesses to help them get on-the-job training.
Steve Rice of Rice Fergus Miller Architecture and Planning said he hopes that his company will offer the young people opportunities to learn basic work skills and forge new relationships with adults working in professional settings.
“And at the same time build a little bit of a resume,” Rice added.
But others have concerns about the center, including Dave Frederick, founder of Coffee Oasis, a nearby Christian nonprofit group that has assisted young people in crisis for the past 12 years.
“It just doesn’t make sense financially,” he said, adding that he’s not certain there are enough young people in crisis to support such a large endeavor.
It might be better, Frederick said, for them to set up a much smaller shelter with beds and partner with Coffee Oasis, which is offering many of the same services. E-mails weighing in on the proposal are flying through the local social-service community.
Solada said she is aware that not everyone will support the center in downtown Bremerton, but added that “it is our responsibility to take care of our children.”
Kucklick suggested that there was a great need, especially among teen girls, the most vulnerable and easily exploited. Two similar centers closed last year due to lack of funding in Silverdale and Port Orchard.
Today, “there aren’t the paid programs you can put kids in anymore to the degree there was in the past,” Kucklick said.

Analysis: Disparate Cultures on Display on Hill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Corporate leaders in Japan are affable cheerleaders who solicit everyone’s views and avoid confrontation at almost any cost. It’s called “nemawashi.” U.S. lawmakers are cutthroat partisans who clamor for the spotlight, especially in an election year. It’s called politics.
These cultures collided Wednesday in the appearance of a polite man from a distant land before a congressional committee stocked with angry men and women with axes to grind.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda’s moment was one brought to us by globalization, the integration of economies and societies through a worldwide network of trade and communications. Toyoda’s appearance illustrated two stark realities: Nations are more knitted together than ever, and still oh-so far apart.
A generation ago, it was good politics in Congress to bash Japan and buy American. Now U.S. lawmakers grab campaign money from Toyota executives and scramble to save Toyota jobs in their districts.
Auto workers used to take sledgehammers to foreign cars. Now thousands of them work for foreign companies, and U.S. car dealers wear “I am Toyota in America” buttons to Capitol Hill.
And consider the hearing itself, where American directness confronted Japanese subtlety as Toyoda apologized for life-threatening safety lapses and for a corporate culture that may have made things worse.
The grandson of the company’s founder noted that the vehicles bear his name. “For me,” Toyoda said in a thin, reedy voice, “when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well.”
It was a uniquely Japanese way to lead in crisis. How often do troubled U.S. leaders call themselves damaged goods?
Unlike in the United States, where self-promoting corporate leaders cast themselves as buck-stops-here demigods, the heads of Japanese companies are chosen for their skills at team decision-making. Most climbed the corporate ladder without rocking the boat, and humility is prized.
Their job is to ensure stability and harmony.
Harmony? Not a word usually associated with the U.S. corporate culture. Or Congress.
“This is appalling, sir,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., waving copies of a July 2009 presentation at Toyota’s Washington office. The confidential document bragged of saving $100 million or more by negotiating an “equipment recall” of floor mats involving 55,000 Toyota vehicles in September 2007.
“I’m embarrassed for you, sir,” Mica said.
Toyoda, who earned a business degree in Massachusetts, is no stranger to the United States. But he’s probably unaccustomed to the impatience — and at times the impertinence — of U.S. lawmakers.
Their questions came “with all due respect,” a caveat that paves the way for countless slights on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., pressed Toyoda about whether the company could correct the acceleration problem. Toyoda gave a long, indirect answer — establishing a pattern for the hearing.
“I’m trying to find out,” an exasperated Towns said, “is that a yes or a no?”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who received a $1,000 campaign contribution in December from the president of a Toyota dealership in California, jumped to Toyoda’s defense. He explained that a complicated problem required complicated answers.
Toyoda gave his opening statement in heavily accented English. He fielded questions through a translator, but clearly had command of the situation — and used the extra time to consider his answers.
Early on, the company president reached across the table to pull a microphone closer to his translator, and when asked a question, he nodded to her and said, “Will translate.”
And so it went, this lively blend of business and political cultures played out before the cameras — globalization in a box, the 21st century condensed into a single Capitol Hill committee room.
But it wasn’t pretty. Not with so many lives at risk or already wasted by mechanical defects. Not with so many lawmakers and Obama administration officials hoping the accountability stops with Toyoda and Toyota, sparing them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received more than 2,500 consumer complaints about Toyota before aggressively dogging the company in late 2009. Congress, which has oversight authority on NHTSA, is only now asking tough questions.
“NHTSA failed the taxpayers,” Towns, the committee chairman, said before swearing in Toyoda. “Toyota failed their customers.”
Still, after two days of hearings, there is too much we don’t know.
Why did some cars accelerate out of control? Why did others not stop? What else might go wrong?
Is my car safe?
At the end of the day, Congress and Toyota delivered more theater than answers. Cultures collide. Globalization enters the so-what phase. Political and business leaders struggle to lead. All true.
But whether in Japan or on Capitol Hill, in a car accident you’re just as dead.

Fairfield Inn Prepares for Gradual Opening

By Rachel Pritchett
The just-completed Fairfield Inn and Suite by Marriott will have a soft opening beginning March 9, according to one of its owners.
The $18 million hotel in downtown Bremerton will boast a stunning new lobby and 132 guest rooms on four floors. Two floors of garage space is underground.
Construction has been going on for the past year and a half.
The hotel will cater to Navy-related market sector. A grand opening will be scheduled for later, according to Han Kim of developer and owner Hotel Concepts.
Some commercial space remains unfilled in the hotel that’s part to the redeveloped downtown waterfront.
Seattle-based Hotel Concepts owns six properties in the Northwest, including the Hampton Inn and Suites down the street.

The hotel is being developed by Hotel Concepts, which owns the Fairfield as well as the Hampton Inn and Suites down the street. Hotel Concepts principal Han Kim expects military business to keep the hotels busy despite the down economy.

Read more:

Han Kim

Opening March 9
How 132 rooms
2 garage and 4 above.
Commercial space rent for
FairField Inn & Suites by Marriott
Construction been going on about 1.5 years.
Cost: $18 million
Han Kim, an owner in Seattle
Ownership HCK2, also known as Hotel Concepts, out of Seattle
Number of properties, 6 properties in greate Seattle area.
Frist notice: just a beautiful lobby.
Navy related folks.
soft opening
grand opening down the line.

Coffee Oasis to Expand Again

Coffee Oasis, the nonprofit group that’s helped so many young people in crisis over the years, is expanding again.

Come Monday and every weekday after that, Coffee Oasis will have an espresso cart and deli stand on the main floor of the Norm Dicks Government Center.

Sandwiches, soups, muffins and espresso all will be on hand, starting at 7 a.m. and going through mid-afternoon.

Coffee Oasis recently expanded to Port Orchard. Before that, it had a drive-thru stand in Bremerton not far from it’s headquarters on Burwell Street.

Rachel Pritchett

Senate Approves Tax Breaks for New Hires

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats delivered the first of several promised election-year jobs bills Wednesday, passing a measure blending highway funding eagerly sought by the states with tax breaks for companies that hire unemployed workers.
The bipartisan 70-28 vote to pass the bill sends it to the House, where many Democrats say it is too puny — but where pressure is on to pass it this week anyway to score a badly needed win for President Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that’s dropped badly in opinion polls and faces major losses in midterm elections.
It’s the first major bill to pass the Senate since the Christmas Eve passage of a deeply controversial health care bill and the subsequent election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, which rocked Democrats by demonstrating their falling standing even among voters who tend to vote Democratic.
Democrats promise additional measures to create jobs, promising help for small businesses having trouble getting loans, aid for cash-strapped state governments, and subsidies for people who make their homes more energy efficient. But budget deficits are a worry, and future measures are going to be more difficult to pass — especially since a top Senate Democrat has blocked unused authority from the Wall Street bailout program from being used to “pay for” jobs initiatives.
The bill contains two major provisions. First, it would exempt businesses hiring the unemployed from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December and give them an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year. The Social Security trust funds would be reimbursed for the lost revenue.
Second, it would extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and pump $20 billion into them in time for the spring construction season. The money would make up for lower-than-expected gasoline tax revenues.
Some House Democrats complained that the Senate bill would unfairly favor states like California and Illinois at the expense of almost every other. But Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said lawmakers were working to resolve the issue.
“We are on a path to move forward this week,” Daly said in an e-mail.
The Senate’s $35 billion proposal — blending $15 billion in tax cuts and subsidies for infrastructure bonds issued by local governments with the $20 billion in transportation money — is a far smaller measure than the $862 billion economic stimulus bill enacted a year ago.
The measure cleared a key hurdle Monday when Brown and four other Republicans broke party ranks to defeat a filibuster. Republican leaders said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had used strong-arm tactics to bring the measure to the floor.
Brown took considerable heat from conservative commentators and bloggers for his Monday vote, though 12 other Republicans voted for the bill on Wednesday. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the only Democrat in opposition.
Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, blasted the measure for increasing the budget deficit to fund highway and transit programs. He said the measure made a joke of Democratic promises to adhere to “pay-as-you-go” budget rules requiring new spending programs to not increase the deficit.
“I don’t think you get people back to work in this nation by loading more and more debt onto the next generation,” Gregg said.
The bill would be paid for in part by a crackdown on international tax cheats, an issue the Internal Revenue Service and the Obama administration have embraced.
The new hiring tax credit could spur about 250,000 new jobs, according to economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s The economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December, 2007.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a sponsor of the hiring tax break, said it would have an immediate impact since businesses won’t have to apply for it when doing their taxes a year from now.
“It immediately takes effect,” Schumer said. “It goes right to small businesses.”
In addition to the hiring tax incentives and highway funding, the bill would extend a tax break for small businesses buying new equipment and modestly expand an initiative that helps state and local governments finance infrastructure projects.
Before lawmakers can pass more jobs legislation, the Senate will have to first approve a stopgap measure to continue the help for the unemployed and doctors in the Medicare program that Reid had dropped from the earlier jobs legislation. The help currently expires on Feb. 28.
Reid has promised to advance longer-term help for the unemployed and a host of other measures as early as next week.
Senators acknowledged that the bill passed Wednesday will not put a huge dent in the nation’s unemployment rate.
“This package is not a panacea. It’s not going to solve everything,” Schumer said. “But because we have a jobs agenda, not just a jobs bill, we will keep at it and at it and at it.”