Sunday, December 6, 2009
To the families of Lakewood Police Officers Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards, I extend sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers.
Having read about each of these officers, they were exceptional in their duties, committed to their families, and actively engaged in their communities. Their absence leaves unrepairable holes in the fabrics of their families and our neighborhoods. May we always remember their valor in how they lived amongst us.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Yet, I cannot grasp how the citizens of Massachusetts could have continued to elect a man who was so unwilling to be accountable for Chappaquidick and his above-the-law attitude. Strange how they would trust him with the policy influence on a nation and yet excuse his circumvention of the law.
In watching an NBC Video about Kennedy, I see a man who led an amazingly bold life of public service which was also so regularly riddled with personal and family tragedy. And yet, I wonder... what level of effort, what measure of acts of good will and service, make up for a life. Then again... in my heart of hearts I know that such a question is God’s to answer… not mine.
So, while Ted Kennedy would never have gotten my vote, I appreciate his contribution to this great nation. I wish his family peace and wish him well as he reconnects with those who went before he did.
As an aside... I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a conference I attended a couple of years ago. It was just a couple of months before it was announced that he had a malignant brain tumor. I was struck by how short he was. I suppose that we see figures like Ted Kennedy as "larger than life" and expect them to physically dominate a room. He did not. But I was impressed by his passion.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Naomi has been active and involved in our community for 16 years. She and her husband own a construction business in our community. Three of her children have graduated from South Kitsap High School and a fourth child is a student in the district. She is a fiscal conservative, thoughtful in her approach to issues, and has exceptional integrity.
Naomi asks just about as many questions as I do. She does her homework and works to understand the issues before she makes a decision. She listens well to parents, staff, and community stakeholders. She respects differing opinions and works towards win-win without compromising core values. While a strong team player, Naomi is not shy to present reasoned and intelligent positions when she disagrees.
Naomi Polen is the best candidate for South Kitsap School Board, Position #3.
Of course, I will work professionally with any of the candidates that are elected to serve on the South Kitsap School Board. I give my endorsement to Naomi Polen because we share a positive and common vision for the direction and importance of K-12 education in our South Kitsap community.
Regarding Chris Lemke... I stand by what I said when the school board had the opportunity to appoint a replacement for Chuck Mayhew and Chris applied to be appointed back to the seat he decided not to run for at the last election... "As much as I appreciate Chris's former service on the board, I have some serious reservations...we have places on the board we have told the public we want to go. I am afraid Chris doesn't share that vision".
Regarding Gail Porter... She seems like a very nice person. However, she has only lived in South Kitsap for about a year and while she lived in Director District #3 at the time of filing, she told me that she was moving to a new home that is in another director district within the month. I asked the Kitsap County Auditor's office about this and they confirmed that she can still run for election, but she would only be able to serve for two years of the four year term since she has moved out of the Director District. My opinion is that if a candidate finds that they are unable to fulfill the terms of the office (in this case, a four year term) before the election, they have a responsibility to the voters to withdraw. There are two candidates in this race that can fulfil the full term of the office.
To see a video of the candidates when they were interviewed by the Kitsap Sun Editorial Board, please click here.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Such a situation would be amongst my worst nightmares. Yet, who would or could say “no” to being there with a loved one or close friend who asked you to be there? Frankly, I’d have a very difficult time saying “no” to a stranger who made that request, let alone a loved one.
I’m trying very hard to avoid judgment because I know that perspective sometimes changes when one is, by circumstance, faced with a situation that seems so clear-cut from afar, but is so much more complicated when you are in the midst it.
Thus, my post tonight isn’t to provide some great wisdom on the issue. It is simply an observation that judging anyone either way on this issue is no one’s role but God’s.
My pregnancy with my first child was complicated and required medical attention from the get go. At six weeks gestation, we had our first ultrasound and at that moment… in that moment… I fell in love with her. Until that moment, I had a position on abortion. But from that moment forward, it was as if God spoke directly to my heart and settled any question of what was right and wrong for me on the abortion issue.
I pray that God grants me the grace to never have to face a “death with dignity” situation with my family. And yet, should that ever happen, all I can hope for is that God speaks to my heart to know what to do, just as He spoke to my heart the day I first laid eyes on that little embryo… who is going to be a senior in high school in 4 days….
There are many things in this world that I take a strong position about. But there are some things that we will only understand when God, in our moment of need, speaks to our heart and settles the question.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Finally, "Right" that I can support, endorse, and stand with! Finally!!
A few years ago, I attended the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) annual conference, where Colin Powell was a keynote speaker. Do you know how many moderate Republicans are school board directors? A lot. Frankly, a lot more than you might think. Many are the very people that Powell described to Bob Shieffer (CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent), on Sunday, May 24, 2009, when he was interviewed on Face the Nation (transcript):
"...the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped significantly, into the low 20s. And among those low 20s, they're not all conservatives. A lot of them are fairly moderate or right-of-center Republicans, who are concerned about the right wing. And they're not that vocal about it, because if you are vocal, you're going to get your voice mail filled up and you're going to get lots of emails, like I did."
Many peers that I chatted with, before and after Powell's speech, spoke of feeling alienated because either they didn't want to be associated with the Republican Party because of it's perceived extremism on social issues or they didn't feel that their local Republican Party really wanted to include them because party "loyalists" shun them as "RINOS" (Republican In Name Only) for their support of public education and moderate social positions. I have had these same quiet conversations with school board directors from across Washington State.
Colin Powell is absolutely right on the mark. If the Republican Party is to regain it's strength, it must do more than just retain a base. It must expand it's base. One more quote from Powell's Face the Nation interview:
Last year, attending a similar conference on federal education issues, one speaker's statement stood out as that "take away" lesson that would not be forgotten. I have long forgotten the speaker's name, but will never forget what he said...
"And if we don't do that, if we don't reach out
more, the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base. You can only do two things with a base. You can sit on it and watch the world go by, or you can build on the base. And I believe we should build on the base because the nation needs two parties. Two parties debating each other. But what we have to do is debate and define who we are and what we are and not just listen to diktats that come down from the right wing of the party."
"If you aren't at the table, you are on the menu"
Fellow Republicans, unless we are at the table, our issues will be on the menu. We must learn to select and support candidates that have the ability to get to the table and engage the discussion on the issues most important to our party and our nation.
We cannot get to the table on fiscal issues unless we become more inclusive. We cannot address issues of the size and scope of government unless we are at the table. If we cannot get to the table, the issues will be debated by those who are at the table and Republican views on fiscal conservancy and effective government will not be represented by either conservative or moderate Republicans.
If the extremist Republican Party membership persists with an attitude of, "If I don't get 100% of my way, I'm going to take my ball and go home", then Republicans will continue to sit at home while Democrats and Independents decide the fate of our great nation.
I have very conservative social values. I chose them freely and want my fellow citizens to choose freely their own social values. If they are different than mine, I will still respect them just as I expect them to respect my choices. Getting to the table does not require us to compromise our values. It does require mutual respect. Let us respect our differences as we embrace and value the liberty that so defines our great nation.
Tom Ridge said recently, "...words mean things and how you use words is very important."
As Republicans, let us change our ways so that the words we use mean inclusion rather than exclusion. We have engaged in words and attitudes that have persisted in excluding us from the adult table as if we were children at Thanksgiving dinner relegated to the "kid's table" and forced to eat what is served by the adults who decided the menu.
We can and must earn back seats at the "adult table" where we can help select the menu and be represented and heard. In order to do so, we must first engage one another, in honest debate of the priorities of the Republican Party platform. Then we must engage our fellow citizens, united and inclusive on those issues, and let go of our childish ways.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Last night, on the way to yet another baseball game, I stopped by the County Administration Building to drop off my ballot. I thought the voting deadline was yesterday, but the deadline is May 19th. So, any of you with your ballots still waiting to be returned, get them in!
For more information...
Monday, May 4, 2009
First, I have served you well as your representative. I have been a strong voice for transparency in what we do and how we spend taxpayer dollars. I have raised questions that, while sometimes aren't the most comfortable of discussions, have promoted increased accountability, responsiveness, and focus on our student achievement priorities. I have engaged you, the public, via blogs, conversation, and email, and have been responsive to concerns, criticism, and in celebrating success.
Second, I have been a strong advocate for public education at local, state, and federal levels. As your elected school board member, I have regularly engaged our state and federal representatives about K-12 education issues. Eighteen months ago, I was elected by my fellow school board members in surrounding local school districts to serve on the Washington State School Director's Association (WSSDA) Legislative Committee. For the past two years, I have also served on the Federal Relations Network. Through these opportunities, the needs of South Kitsap school children and our families have a strong voice in the legislative process on education issues. I will continue to encourage and help to shape education and education finance reform, insist upon fiscal and performance accountability, and promote rigorous student achievement priorities.
Third, my children approved my running again. Their vote mattered most to me in whether to run again. Balance is an art and I am not always the best of artists. Their endorsement of my running again was an approval rating of my efforts in the art of balance. For their approval and patience, I am humbled and grateful.
Each year, as I am honored to preside, with the rest of the School Board, at Graduation Night, I am in awe of the "stories behind the faces" as these wonderful young people walk at Graduation. While I will have a favorite in the Class of 2010 and the Class of 2013, I could not be more proud of each of our graduates and of our community for what you invest in them as taxpayers, parents, teachers, coaches, advisors, friends, and neighbors.
I ask for your support and vote in 2009 because I have demonstrated my commitment to the best possible public education for our children. With your support and vote, you have my commitment to continue to do so for another four years.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Very few school districts go to the detail that SKSD does to show where levy dollars will be spent. In fact of the 279 school districts across the state who have levies, 53 of those districts request the maximum allowed by law (generally 24%, though 44 districts are grandfathered into higher limits). Locally, districts who are “maxed out” include Bremerton, North Kitsap, and Bainbridge Island. South Kitsap takes a more conservative approach, attempting to balance the needs of our students with the needs of our taxpayers. The state wide average is 23.2%. South Kitsap’s average is 20.27%. That will go up to about 21% when the 2009 levy passes (still significantly below the state average).
In 1999, SKHS’s graduation rate was less than 77%. Today it is more than 92%. What does that mean to our community? It means that 15 more students out of every 100 are graduating from high school than were doing so when our levy funding wasn’t stable. WOW!
In 2001, average SKSD 10th grade WASL scores were 58.4% in reading, 37.2% in math, and 48.5% in writing. In 2008, those averages were 84.1% in reading, 53.4% in math, and 87.9% in writing. These strong gains were possible because levy funds provide opportunities for improved curriculum adoptions, technology that facilitates differentiated instruction for students, and extended learning opportunities (amongst other things)!
Eight years ago, SKSD had one of the oldest fleet of school busses in the state. Many were past their depreciation point which made the district ineligible for state funds to replace busses. Thanks to stable levy funding for the past 8 years, we have been able to improve the fleet and are now eligible for state funds that allow us to regularly replace aging busses.
Eight years ago, our secondary music program was nearly non-existant. Extra-curricular programs like athletics, band, and theatre, were stripped to the bare bones. Thanks to stable levy funding, these programs have flourished and infused a sense of belonging, leadership skills, and creativity into our students. These programs have also helped kids stay motivated to stay in school.
As an example of the forward progress, on New Years Day 2010, the SKHS Band has been extended a rather exclusive honor to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena. Our choirs and bands are winning awards across the state and across the nation these days. Students take pride in marching with the SKHS Band and singing with the choirs.
Strong academics and challenging extra-curricular programs are building leaders in our schools. In fact, in 2008, TWO of our students were accepted into the United States Naval Academy.
Yes, levy funding is making a difference in the lives of South Kitsap students, the quality of their education, and the strength of our South Kitsap Community!
Please vote YES for the levy!