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Joshua Burgin Reflects on Israel’s Tech Economy

Photo of Israel

When it comes to technology, Joshua Burgin knows what he’s talking about. From his experience developing software for Amazon to his work as the VP of Product and Strategy at cloud computing software provider VMware, Burgin has been in the technology game for a long time. Living in Seattle, he was one of the first employees at Amazon.

He has over two decades of experience developing technology businesses and consults with and advises startups around the world. 

Burgin is also quite connected to his Jewish faith and is a big supporter of Israel’s technology economy. Although he has spent his career so far based in the United States, he has also spent many years as an advisor for Israeli-based technology startups and visiting the country with his family. He feels deeply connected to Israel and to his Jewish faith. In August 2023, he sat down with the Jerusalem Post to discuss Israel’s expanding technology scene and entrepreneurial culture.

Joshua Burgin Sits Down With The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post wanted to learn about Burgin’s take on Israel’s post-Covid tech economy. Burgin, who has traveled to Israel almost every six months for the past ten years, believes that even with some of the country’s internal conflict, its economy, especially in the technology sector, remains strong. With the country’s swift, effective response to the pandemic, Burgin said he saw no major slowdown in entrepreneurial expansion. He believes that Israeli tech companies continue to set the standard for innovation and problem-solving with their tenacious spirit. For example, he discussed his work with the web development platform Wix and the marketing analytics company AppsFlyer, both of which are seeing lots of growth of late. Burgin feels that the creativity and bold innovation of Israeli startups such as these reflect the “Israeli spirit.”

The publication was also interested in Joshua Burgin’s thoughts on the country’s sustainability practices and the extent to which the country is fostering a more eco-friendly world. Burgin noted that some Israeli companies are on the cutting edge of climate innovation. For instance, he discussed Watergen, which extracts water from the air to help provide clean drinking water in areas where it is scarce. He also praised the country’s sustainable approach to living, with its bike-friendly cities and green spaces. Burgin believes that it is Israel’s global business perspective that helps such companies thrive and continue to shatter expectations. Israeli companies seek to make their solutions and innovations accessible to global markets, which helps not only their economy but supports countries around the world in becoming greener.

Burgin’s Admiration for the Israeli Spirit

In addition to the global outlook, Burgin also emphasized his belief in the positive impact of Israel’s mandatory military service. He thinks that this service helps produce strong, mature leaders who are able to create innovative startups that address complex problems. In particular, he discussed intelligence Units 8200 and 81 as exceptional “breeding grounds” for technological intelligence. Avishai Abrahami, a co-founder of Wix, served in Unit 8200, Burgin pointed out, and many people refer to Israel as the “Startup Nation.” Burgin thinks that this reputation is in large part due to the famous compulsory military training and how it interacts with the culture’s strong, entrepreneurial spirit.

Burgin has lots of hope for the technological future of the “Startup Nation” and emphasized that the country’s impact on innovators around the world should not be overlooked. As Israel’s leading technology innovators look outward with their solutions, Burgin suggests that the rest of the world should look toward Israel, as its dedication to entrepreneurship is creating tech solutions that address all kinds of world challenges. The country’s resilience to adversity and tough times like the pandemic also demonstrate the power of perseverance when it comes to business and how perseverance can lead to innovative technological breakthroughs. Read his biography here.

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Superfine Seattle 2023 In Belltown 7/27/23 – 7/30/23

SuperFineArt Seattle Event

Colorful, creative, and accessible, Superfine Art Fair returns to Seattle at the height of summer with 2000+ high quality artworks by 70 in-person artists, thoughtfully curated and approachably priced from $50 to $5000. After launching the fair back in 2015, entrepreneurs Alex Mitow and James Miille expanded the nationally recognized fair to Seattle in May 2022 as its seventh market and are excited to return to Belltown’s Block 41 from July 27-30.

The decision to position the fair in time with the Seattle Art Fair was a carefully considered one:

“A21 and Art Market Productions, the teams behind The Seattle Art Fair, have really pioneered the concept of a first-rate art fair in Seattle. As colleagues in the industry, we frequently cross paths and are thrilled to position our unique, artist-driven model in context of their world-class event this summer. We feel that the events together provide a vast survey of what the contemporary art world offers to Seattle residents and visitors at every stage of the art collecting journey,” says Superfine CEO Alex Mitow.

Superfine’s artist-to-buyer model creates a direct link between creator and collector in a professionally curated space that maintains the warm sense of hospitality the brand’s dynamic duo are famous for. Keeping with its democratic ideals, 100% of art sales go directly to the artist, and work is available at price points friendly to all collectors. As a result, the fair attracts a high-intent, art-buying audience, creating a sustainable opportunity for independent artists to sell art and build their collector network (over 75% of visitors report coming to the fair to buy new art). “It’s rare that someone visits one of our fairs and doesn’t walk out with something they’ve fallen in love with – at the very least a print, but often an original painting, sculpture, or limited photograph,” quips co-founder James Miille, also an exhibiting photographer whose own career spurred on the Superfine method. Artists are encouraged to show affordable prints and merchandise as a means of motivating collectors at all stages.

Superfine’s unique, artist-driven, people-focused approach has been widely recognized by national and global media outlets including Forbes, the Guardian, and the Advocate. Aside from Seattle, the fair hosts annual editions in Los Angeles, New York City, Washington DC, Miami, and Savannah, as well as biannual shows in San Francisco.

Fairgoers enjoy a long weekend of art at Superfine and across Seattle. Art installations like Holly Martz’s Prime Cuts will be displayed, live performances from musical guests like international saxophonist LE//ON and local musicians Chhaylee Young and Craig Suede, and collaborations with arts and culture organizations like Make.Shift and Northwest Film Forum are all on tap. Body painting artist Kree Arvanitas, whose solo show with Bonfire Gallery opens a day before the fair, is providing a live demonstration. On Saturday 7/29, Superfine will host a free Night Market featuring local food vendors such as MariMakan and Ms. Helen’s Soul Bistro. It all starts Thursday 7/27 with a Grand Opening sponsored by local non-profit Path with Art: a group that fosters the restoration of individuals, groups, and society from the effects of trauma through arts engagement and community building.

Superfine Seattle runs from 7/27-7/30 at Block 41 in Belltown. To get your tickets to the fair and discover all the programming, visit Superfine Seattle’s home page

Carlee Russell’s Alleged Kidnapping, Separating The Facts From Fiction

Road for Driving

After the frenzied search for Carlee Russell, and her surprise reappearance at her parents’ house a few days later, there has been a multitude of questions surrounding her return home. Her initial disappearance caused a lot of confusion and fear in the town of Hoover, Alabama. The 25-year-old nursing student claimed to have been kidnapped on the side of I-459 as she was trying to help a toddler she saw wandering alongside the road.

Initially, Russell declined to talk with authorities due to her shock but was transported to the hospital for an evaluation. She then spoke with investigators about her ordeal and since that time, it appears that the kidnapping might have been a hoax. Authorities have not outright called the kidnapping a hoax but they have publicly stated that they are unable to verify the details of her story. The police have requested a second interview, but Russell has declined.

Here is what we do know so far, on July 13th after leaving work, Russell called 911 to report a toddler in a diaper wandering on the side of the road. She hung up with the police and then called a family member to tell them what she saw. Carlee lost connection with the family member but the line stayed open. Carlee’s mother, Talitha, said in a statement the individual on the phone with Carlee was her brother’s girlfriend. The girlfriend said she heard Carlee say, “Are you ok?” and then a scream.

Police arrived at the scene three minutes after Carlee exited her car. Traffic camera footage showed her pulling over and exiting her car. Police then confirmed that there were no other calls that day reporting a toddler on the side of the road. The police found her car, the door open, and the engine still running. Carlee’s purse was still in the car along with her wig, her Air Pods, and an Apple Watch.

Police conducted an extensive search for Carlee. Multiple tips had come in after Carlee was reported missing. After 49 hours, she returned home on foot. She received medical attention immediately after her return. Her family then asked for some space for Carlee to process the trauma she experienced during the alleged kidnapping.

After the police were able to interview Carlee, they held a press conference to inform the public of the investigation’s findings so far. Chief Nick Derzis laid out the facts of the case and ended the conference by saying the police could not confirm Carlee’s claims of being kidnapped.

Carlee told the police the following regarding the kidnapping:

  1. After she stopped to help the boy, she said was pulled into an 18-wheeler by a man with orange hair and a bald spot who had come out of the woods.
  2. Carlee said there was a woman in the truck and she could hear a baby crying. She did escape once from the truck, but they captured her.
  3. Carlee was then blindfolded but not tied up. Carlee said the kidnappers did not want to tie her up because they did not want to leave marks on her wrists.
  4. She was then taken to a house where the man and woman took pictures of her while undressed but they did not physically or sexually assault her.
  5. The next day, Carlee woke up and was fed cheese and crackers by the woman. The woman then played with Carlee’s hair.
  6. Carlee was then led out into a car but managed to escape somewhere in West Hoover. She told detectives she ran through a lot of woods before coming out near her home.

Police have been unable to verify any details of her story. However, they did uncover some information that Carlee did not tell them during her initial interview.

The following are the details that were uncovered and confirmed by the police and the secret service during their investigation:

  1. Surveillance video from the spa Russell works at showed her concealing a dark-colored bathrobe, a roll of toilet paper and other items from her work before walking out.
  2. Russell then ordered food from the restaurant Taziki’s and after that, went to Target on U.S. 280 where she purchased granola bars, Cheez-its, and a drink. The food she ordered from Taziki’s was still in her car but the other items from her work and Target were missing from her car and the scene.
  3. The police released information about the search history on her phone. They found she had searched the term “Do you have to pay for an Amber Alert” two days before she vanished. On the day she disappeared, she searched “How to take money from the register without getting caught Reddit” and “Birmingham bus station.” She then searched for a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville. Later she searched for the movie “Taken.”
  4. The police also found two searches on the computer at the spa related to Amber Alerts, including what is the maximum age for an Amber Alert.
  5. Using data from her phone, police discovered she had traveled about 600 yards in her car while she was on the phone with 911 alerting them to a toddler on the side of the road.
  6. Detectives also noted she had $107 in cash in her right sock.

Since this initial interview, Carlee has refused to sit down for a second interview. Also, her boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons removed all traces of her from his social media. When she first disappeared, he wrote an impassioned plea for her return and posted it to his Facebook account. After she returned, he claimed that she had to fight for her life to come home. Now, his social media is completely devoid of any mention or photograph of Carlee. He also has not commented publicly since the police stated they were unable to confirm her story.

So what’s next? Keith Czeskleba, Hoover Police Department’s public information officer told USA Today, “We have not begun to count the number of hours and resources dedicated to this case – both from our agency and partner agencies as well. I cannot recall a missing person case like this in my time here – certainly not of this magnitude.”

Czeskleba did not say exactly what the police were planning on doing next but they are hoping to get more information from Carlee. The police are most likely chasing down any additional witnesses, checking surveillance cameras in the area, and following up on any tips. There was one tip that came in from a trucker about the possibility of seeing a grey vehicle and a man standing next to Carlee’s car during the time of her “abduction.” That tip has yet to lead to any solid information. We will report on any other details that are reported.  

7/25/23 – Carlee Russell Update, It was all a Hoax

An update to our previous story about the alleged kidnapping of Carlee Russell. After pressure from the police for a second interview, Russell finally decided to come clean about her ordeal. She was scheduled to come in for a second interview and then her attorney Emory Anthony instead told police he had a statement from Russell regarding her “kidnapping.” Police Chief Nicholas C. Derzis read the statement provided by Russell’s attorney during a press conference.

The statement provided by her attorney stated the following, “We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward understanding that she made a mistake in this matter. Carlee again asks for your forgiveness.”

Russell’s ex-boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, took to Instagram to express his resentment over the hoax. Previously, Simmons had defended Russell on his social media but after the statement made by the police, he has deleted his defense of his no ex-girlfriend.

He wrote, “Carlee’s actions created hurt, confusion, and dishonesty. I was made aware of the false narrative after coming to the defense of my ex Carlee Russell. Myself and my family’s nature was to react in love, and genuine concern. We are disgusted by the outcome of this entire situation. I strongly feel exactly like you all, blindsided with Carlee’s actions.”

Police are still unclear about Russell’s motivations to stage a fake kidnapping and Derzis said that his office is currently discussing charges with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office. The police are also planning on meeting with Russell today to interview her regarding the hoax. If the motivation for the hoax is released, we will report on the findings.

8/1/23 – Carlee Russell Update, Lawmakers Looking to Create New Felony Charge for Faking a Kidnapping

Local lawmakers are now considering changing the laws so in the future anyone who fakes their own kidnapping can be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. This comes after Carlee Russell was arrested last week by Hoover police for making false statements to the police about her own fake kidnapping.

The Hoover Police Department hosted a press conference to discuss the charges against Russell. Chief Nicholas Derzis said in the press conference, “The story opened wounds for families whose loved ones really were victims of kidnappings.”

He added he shares in the frustration that Russell was only charged with misdemeanors and asked state legislators to review the law to see if there could be any “enhancements” made to the law to help deter others from falsely reporting a violent kidnapping. Regarding the current charges against Russell, Derzis said, “Existing laws only allowed the charges that were filed to be filed.”

Russell was charged with one count of false reporting to law enforcement authorities and one count of falsely reporting an incident. If convicted, each charge is a misdemeanor with a $1,000 bond and each is punishable with up to one year in prison and a potential $6,000 fine. She was released on a $2,000 bond.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was also at the press conference. Marshall said that his office intends to prosecute the case fully. Marshall said, “We don’t see this as a victimless crime. There are significant hours spent, resources expended as a result of this investigation, and not only that, but the many men and women who are civilians who wore those yellow vests on a hot afternoon and evening looking for someone they thought was abducted, trying to be of assistance.”

Marshall added his office would be continuing to monitor the case to see if there are any additional charges that need to be brought against Russell. The outcry in the community has caused lawmakers to take notice. Hoover’s City Council President John Lyda plans to present a resolution demanding tougher accountability for people that fake their own abduction. Lyda said, “It seems reasonable to me that a crime that rises to the level of what we saw, Ms. Russell, the crime that she’s charged with, where she has alleged that she was a victim of a felony and it turned out to be a hoax, perhaps that needs to be charged and prosecuted as a felony.”

Let us know if you have any information or corrections to this story.

Lee Hardin Brings Clean Comedy To The Carco Theatre

Lee Hardin Comedian Coming To Renton Washington

For comedian Lee Hardin, standup comedy is something that should be enjoyed by everyone. That is why it is important to him to bring quality comedy to theatrical venues nationwide that is appropriate for all ages.

Lee is a comedian based out of Murfreesboro, TN. He has been performing standup for ten years. In that time, he has performed in comedy clubs, filmed and released a Dry Bar Comedy Special, and was featured on the Huckabee Show.  His unique point of views highlights his experiences growing up as a single child, dating, and shopping at Goodwill. He also shares his opinions on Taco Bell and Le Croix. His energetic approach to his subject matter engages audiences of all ages and keeps them laughing all night long.

At the beginning of this year, he embarked on a new journey. He began contacting theatres looking for venues that might be interested in bringing a night of clean comedy to their scheduled seasons. His venture has been a success. He has been touring non-stop since January 2023. He generally has at least one feature comedian at these shows, and sometimes includes a comedian to host the show.

He is excited to bring his brand of comedy to The Carco Theatre in Renton, WA. Lee will be there on August 18 at 7:00 PM for a one night only engagement. For information, please visit You can also follow Lee Hardin on Facebook and Instagram.

District 2 Candidate Tanya Woo: “We need Action, Not Performative Politics, Not Virtue Signaling” In The City Council

Tanya Woo

By Connor Nash

It was a warm summer evening at Hing Hay Park when I interviewed Tanya Woo, who is running for District 2in the city council elections. Tanya is there with members of the Chinatown International District Community Watch (CID Watch), a group she created three years earlier. The CID Watch was formed in response to the 2020 George Folyd protest when many non-peaceful agitators vandalized buildings and businesses in the CID.

The CID Watch was started to support businesses and community members as they went through the whirlwind that was the pandemic and the 2020 summer protests. Now the CID Watch mainly works within the CID’s encampments; distributing aid, de-escalating situations, and treating suspected overdoses.

Woo also organizes the community through the CID Watch. Most notably, the CID Watch successfully protested the expansion of the SODO Services Hub, which the county canceled.

For this biweekly meeting of the CID Watch, the group went to the encampment on 12th Ave S and King St, the new location of the 12th and Jackson encampment cleared in early 2022. During my time with CID Watch, the group distributed water and snacks, checked to make sure an individual was still breathing, and Woo guided a man (high on fentanyl) out from the middle of the street.

My interview with Woo focused on the Chinatown International District, the major infrastructure investments being planned, and the public safety problems facing the neighborhood. I also asked if the city and county are doing enough to help the CID, and what she would do if elected to the city council.

My first question is what is your elevator pitch on why you are running for District 2 City Council?

“Oh, that’s a good question. Well, I think short of it is Chinatown International district got named top 11 most endangered neighborhoods in the nation. And this was not an overnight event, this was years and months in the making. Seeing all these changes in the last three to four years, especially during the pandemic, COVID racism, and [with] pandemic hate.

“This neighborhood has been a microcosm of all the challenges that South Seattle has been facing. We have encampments. We have open-air markets. We have gentrification displacements and lack of housing. So all of these things I think are applicable to South Seattle.”

A flashpoint in the CID is the new ST3 station going through CID. Do you support the 4th Ave option or do you support the North/South option? And Why?

“So you have one group saying that to place the station here would gentrify… the entire community. Now the other group is saying if we don’t place the station here then you are denying transit to an entire community.

“[There are] pros and cons to both. And the one thing that I would like to hear more [of] are mitigation efforts from the city and the county. Everyone talks about placing things near here and taking things away from the community. And putting these kinds of projects near the community, but no one talks about investment in the community.

“And another thing that is missing from the plans is that it’s not just CID that’s affecting, but everyone along Line One. Othello station, Columbia City station, the outreach, and engagement have not been done for the rest of the communities along Line One.

“The short answer is, I remain neutral because I see how divided these two options are with the community and I believe we should build bridges and work together. We need to talk to people, everybody who has been affected, and gather more data before making a decision.”

Can we talk about the perception of public safety in the CID? What would you do to solve those public safety perceptions/concerns?

“I think public safety, especially in the CID, is a result of a lot of disinvestment [from] the city and the county. You know, the community has come up with all these solutions, at one point we had four patrol watch block groups patrolling this area.

“The community is really good at coming together and coming up with solutions for itself.

“We have like four different neighborhood plans that we just want funding for and multiple proposals on how we want to see public safety in the CID. That included ambassadors and social workers, and we just need that investment by the city.

“There are business owners that would love to see more community service officers come in. They usually operate from 8-5, it would be possible for them to come in the evenings and on the weekend.”

So if you were elected you would be more of an advocate and a voice for those plans?

“So this community watch group is a successful model and many other neighborhoods reach out to us and ask how they can implement something similar in their neighborhoods. We do a lot of translation services and we know the neighborhood, we know who does what, and what people need. [We are] familiar and see the same people and built that connection and relationship of trust.

“So as a council member, I would support and find a way for these programs to be funded. Because they’re doing work in the community. There are a lot of great programs, like REACH, LEAD, Co-Lead and Just Cares put a lot of great work into the communities. They need to be funded and supported.

“We saw in the last budget cycle that LEAD and Co-LEAD we underfunded by $8 million and ended up finding funding elsewhere. How do we divert money from programs that have proven results?”

This a loaded question, but a proxy for your overall positions on public safety. Would you say the Seattle Police Department budget is too high, too low, or just right?

“I think, first and foremost, we need alternatives but we need SPD because [of] my work in the Community Watch. We come out here and we are able to de-escalate fights without having to call the police.

“But there was one time that we were out in the encampments and there were shots fired. We don’t have the training to attend to that, so for that, we need the police. We called the police, they came in 10 minutes, and they were able to arrest someone who was selling drugs, and had cash, and guns in their car at the time.

“We also don’t want officers to go out to calls that they don’t have training. So we especially like the social worker, officer combination [and] being able to have a social worker come out without having to go through the police.

“But we also need policing alternatives…and we see that this community has a great model on how we can do that. We just need more city and county support.

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to 12th and Jackson? And what would you do if you were in the city council?

“I think we definitely need alternatives to policing. Social worker teams. I think community-based solutions similar to what is going on with the 3rd Ave plan. We need something similar to that. And I just feel like most of the small businesses feel like this area of downtown has been forgotten and left out. So it would be great to have more engagement with the city. More investments. And funding all of the neighborhood solutions.

“The community has been proposing and we haven’t made any headway.”

What are your thoughts on the Little Siagon park that is set to be built, but has been delayed many times?

“I attended someone of the meetings where the park was being reviewed and it is quite interesting with the process of sightlines. Making sure that there aren’t places where people can hide and people can feel safe. And how do we stop people from sleeping and congregating in these areas and doing drugs? And that is being built into the park.

“But I think we run the risk of what we see in Hing Hay Park. During COVID people were living there, there were tents and it was unusable by the rest of the community. And I think having an expanded park ranger program would be helpful. Having a park concierge there. And that has been successful.

“So I think the expanded park ranger program and more investment in the community spaces would be helpful, in terms of community safety.”

What do you think of the job Councilmember Morales has done representing District 2 and the CID?

“I will talk about the city council as a whole. I feel like –”

But you are running specifically against CM Morales, not the whole city council.

“I can talk about the contrast between my approach and my opponent’s approach. My opponent wants to defund the police. I don’t feel like that…that ideological experiment did not work. It just made everything worse.

“Things didn’t get better. We need action, not performative politics, not virtue signaling. We need someone to go in there and act.

“Not only bringing up police alternatives but also making sure our police are supported, there’s reform and culturally competent training.

“The other contrast is that people in the city council feel like we should leave people that are un-housed where they are. Well, unfortunately, having the CID having the two largest encampments in the city, we’ve seen too many unhoused neighbors die. It is not humane to let people live outside. It is traumatic and we need to make sure that services are currently being offered. That people going out there are building trust, de-escalating techniques. And able to build relationships to bring people inside.

“I feel like we need to be able to hold our city council members accountable. There needs to be more transparency and accessibility….We need more engagement with government processes.

“With the SODO shelter expansion, we brought seniors, business owners, and non-English speakers to the city and county because people wanted to be heard, they wanted to be involved, and they wanted to be engaged. I think that is something that’s been lacking.”

Do you think that has been lacking in CM Morales? Do you think she has been engaged with the community?

“I think that’s another big contrast. We have feet on the ground, we see what’s happening on 12th and Jackson. We are in the encampments….and we see a lot of policies without our input. And that has to change. I think we need to bring it down to the neighborhoods and community and really listen to people. And implement all these plans that the community has suggested.

“We always ask the youth what they want to see and they say ‘We want basketball, after-school programs. We want more community programs like they were before COVID.’ And that hasn’t been done yet and yet we still keep asking ‘What do you guys want?’”

Photo Courtesy of Tanya Woo Campaign

Who’s Running For Seattle City Council? Meet D3 Candidate Alex Cooley

Alex Cooley

A mixture of civil libertarianism and economic progressivism, cannabis entrepreneur Alex Cooley is running for Seattle City Council in District 3.

By Connor Nash

At first glance, Alex Cooley looks like your typical Seattlite, alternative, gauges, hand tattoos, gig worker, and he has a weed business. And like many Seattlites, Cooley’s politics are both progressive and bold, meant to shake up the system.

A million square feet of new housing, banning sweeps of homeless individuals,  legalizing and taxing all drugs, and shifting money from police to “alternative solutions are just a few of the ideas Cooley is advocating in the D3 race. These proposals seem like they are ripped from a Vice News Youtube video, which may be an asset in capturing those young, urbanist voters.

Like many of the former Vice News audience, Cooley’s ideas have been shaped by his growing family and expanding business. When asked why he is running for City Council, he responded, “I decided to run the day my son was born. I need him to grow up in a place where leaders behave like leaders and respond to their neighbors when they are called upon…

“We haven’t had leadership that listens. We aren’t able to trust that our elected officials will do a good job. We’ve been hindered by political games, inflexibility, indecisiveness, and special interest money. We can’t afford more of the same.”

Lack of trust in the city government isn’t a new phenomenon, but the abysmally low approval ratings are the new norm. An Oct 2022 KOMO News/ Strategies 360 poll found that the Seattle City Council had an unfavorability rating of 58%, up from 20% the year before.

To Cooley’s point on a lack of “leadership that listens,” I asked Cooley (and will ask all D3 candidates) their stance on holding office hours if elected. Current D3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant fails to hold any regular office hours, instead opting for larger, rally-like events with both constituents and supporters of her causes.

Cooley’s responded that he would “Absolutely” hold office hours, explaining “I intend to go many steps further than having office hours every week. I will hold regular town hall meetings at least quarterly, I will have weekly “Brews w/Cooley” meetings, and in general, will be in the community daily available to all.”

This openness to greater public availability and outreach is refreshing, considering the current Councilmember is extremely aloof when it comes to constituent services. This is something that I will keep a lookout for if Cooley is elected since this is a notable and bold shift from how constituent services are being run currently in D3.

Although Cooley will have a different way of interacting with constituents, some of his policies are similar to Councilmember Sawant notably on Sweeps and free transit. When asked about his overarching policy ideals, Cooley specifically cited “ending the practice of sweeps” and explains on his website that “pushing around people experiencing homelessness two blocks at a time is failing everyone.”

When it comes to public transit, like Councilmember Sawant, Cooley is pushing for more free public transit options, including “reinstat[ing] the free ride zone…” The Free Ride Zone was ended in 2012 but was an agreement between the City of Seattle and King County where Seattle would pay King Co $400,000 a year to cover all fares Downtown.

A policy area that Cooley has institutional knowledge in is cannabis since he owns Solstice, a company that sells various cannabis products. Cooley has assisted legislators on the local, state, and global levels on cannabis policies. In 2010, Cooley worked with State Senator Kohl-Wells in writing SB 5073, which created the medical cannabis industry, and later on I-502 which legalized recreational cannabis use.

Cooley also worked with the Seattle City Council to write “all of their protective legislation that allowed for safe access for patients. And in 2016, Cooley worked with the United Nations during their Special Session on Drug Policy.

When asked if the city is doing enough to support minority-owned cannabis businesses, Cooley answered “No, this city could be doing much more.”

He explained how he proposed a policy to various council members and the mayor’s office for “cannabis consumption clubs” where people can enjoy cannabis products in a bar-like atmosphere. One city that implemented a policy for cannabis clubs is West Hollywood, CA. Yes, the gayest city in Los Angeles is also the only city that allows for indoor smoking of cannabis products in both residential and commercial areas (with proper permits).

Cooley states that these cannabis clubs would be “licensed through a similar merit-based system that the state is using for their social equity retail licenses.” These clubs could be great to not only expand the opportunities for new businesses but expand the diversity in the homogenous Seattle cannabis industry.

Of all his bold, progressive policies, the one that will be the most politically polarizing is his stance on single-family zoning. In an Urbanist win, Cooley supports banning single-family zoning in Seattle. But one urbanist win is a loss for the NIMBY crowd who make a sizable constituency in D3.

In a race devoid of polling, it’s difficult to see if Cooley’s politics will appeal to enough hip, millennial dads like himself to make it to the general. What is refreshing is to see someone running on a “change the system” message without the baggage that is the norm in a Sawant campaign.

Photo Courtesy of Cooley for Council

WGU Announces Learn Where You Live Scholarship

Student at WGU College Adult Program

New Scholarship Opens More Pathways to Higher Education for Rural Residents

Learn Where You Live Scholarship supports adult learners seeking a college degree in rural communities

SEATTLE, Wash. (May 31, 2023) Wanting to stay in your hometown shouldn’t bar you from obtaining a college education that can help you reach your career goals. A new scholarship opportunity from Western Governors University  (WGU) is aimed at adult learners who live in rural areas of the country, so they, too, can access a quality, affordable, accredited degree where they live. 

The Learn Where You Live Scholarship is valued at up to $3,000 and is available to new students or returning graduates who want to further their education at WGU. Scholarship recipients will receive up to $750 per six-month term, renewable for up to four terms. Applicants must live in a rural area of the U.S. as is designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Brian Cameron, who lives on the Oregon Coast near Oceanside, said he would not have been able to pursue his bachelor’s degree in business management where he lived if not for the remote online program at WGU.

“It’s hard to find resources living in a rural community,” he said. “The online business program has allowed me to get a proper degree and do it from home. I can literally study anywhere when I have time away from work, whether that be at coffee shop or by the ocean.”

The launch of the new scholarship comes on the heels of WGU’s Northwest Regional team’s rural jobs report,  Shifting Winds: Examining Employment Trends in Rural Northwest Regions. The research, conducted in partnership with WGU Labs, shows that while demand for talent shifted throughout the pandemic, rural healthcare job listings continue to dominate in these regions, and rural STEM-sector job postings are rising significantly — with up to a 183% increase in rural areas. Demand for bachelor’s degrees has also increased as a requirement compared to high school diplomas.

The most sought-after skills were auditing, marketing, computer science, business development, project management, accounting, Agile methodology, finance, workflow management and data analysis. With more than 60 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, healthcare, IT, and education, WGU can prepare adult learners with the skills that employers are seeking.

“This is a commitment the university has made and certainly the Leavitt School of Health has made,” said WGU Senior Vice President of the Leavitt School of Health, Keith Smith, PhD. “We’re in the process of adding several non-clinical programs, a portfolio that meets the entire spectrum of needs for rural health.”

“Everything we do at Western Governors University is aimed at increasing accessibility and opportunity for each student, regardless of their location, background, motivations, or life situation,” added Tonya Drake, PhD., regional vice president of WGU.“Many students want to go back to school and pursue higher education, but the cost and location can be overwhelming and deter many students from attending college.”

Drake, who grew up Longview, Wash, had to leave her hometown to get her bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of people leave and don’t come back. Great strides have been made, but I still have nieces and nephews who live in rural parts of the state and wonder if they will have to leave their towns to get an education and a good-paying job,” she said. “The rural community is the backbone of our economy, and we look forward to helping people gain the degrees needed to obtain in-demand jobs in their hometowns.”

To find out more about the scholarship and apply by June 30, visit the Learn Where You Live Scholarship page.

Eight Blocks Of Rainier Ave Are Experiencing The Slow Burn Of Change, With Fires And Construction

Seattle Fire and Construction

Since 2020 Rainier Ave, just south of I-90, has seen multiple construction projects and fires throughout the area, including arson and encampment fires.

By Connor Nash

Rainer Ave has historically been known as one of the most dangerous streets in Seattle due to the high amount of car accidents and pedestrians being struck. But since 2020, Rainer Ave south of I-90 has also been scarred by several high-profile fires in the neighborhood.

The first flashpoint was the multiple fires at the former Rainer Farmer Market on the 2100 block of Rainer Ave back in 2020. Temporarily closed due to Covid, the farmer’s market was the target of four separate fires between July – August 2020. Unable to continually clean up and restore his business, owner Long Nygyen was forced to close permanently. By late 2021, Rainer Farmer Market was demolished.

Nygyen told King 5 News at the time,  “I don’t want to throw all my five years away but at the same time Seattle is just changing.”

The next major fire would occur in May 2022 with the vacant Borrachini Bakery located just south of College St. Like Rainer Farmer Market, Borrachini was closed due to Covid-19, and the fire is still considered “Undetermined” according to Seattle Fire.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, fires in vacant buildings account for 6% of all fires, but 43% of all intentionally caused fires.

Then in 2023, three fires would occur in the same parking lot in just a few months. Two were at the abandoned Burger King, destroying the building, and one at the former 7/11, destroying that section of the building and forcing the closure of the neighboring Baskin Robbin. Some of these fires were accidentally set by homeless individuals, others are still undetermined.

Five major fires in less than three years would hurt any neighborhood, but over 10 massive buildings were either built or under-constructed in that same period, showing that developers are not blinking.

The map below shows that changing environment of Rainer Ave between Massachusetts St and College St.

Rainier Ave Seattle Map

The red dots show the fires, black dots show the closed businesses not due to fires, and the orange dot is the future light-rail station. The purple blocks are all the new construction projects which will include nearly 1,000 apartments (roughly 10% affordable units) and thousands of square feet dedicated to retail space.

The city approved all of these projects because Seattle is desperate for all types of housing units. But those housing units are being built in an area that is unsafe for pedestrians, especially if they want to use the upcoming light rail station. The retail space may be nice for future businesses, but nothing is being done to support the existing businesses in the area.

All of that retail space may be a great investment for those buildings located in the purple blocks, but these developers are just flooding the market with unaffordable retail space that may be left vacant for an extended period.

On the other hand, the city is doing very little to support any of the small businesses already established in the area. Small businesses like Dixon Furniture and Dere Auto, along with independent eateries like Sasha’s Espresso and Toshio’s Teriyaki may be pushed out by this rapid construction. Or see a flood of new businesses, since the future is uncertain for the area.

Overall, the Seattle city government has been indifferent to the independently owned small businesses and franchises that it claims to champion in the area and the entire city.

Meanwhile, the site of the former Rainer Farmer market is under review for a new 7-story mixed-used commercial building. Since it is a shiny new building, the city will most likely approve it, only flooding the neighborhood with more unaffordable retail space.

By Connor Nash

Opinion: Chasten Buttigieg Proves He’s A Better Politician Than His Husband At A Recent Seattle Event

Chasten Buttigieg

Chasten Buttigieg on stage with Seattle Times reporter Naomi Ishisaka talking about his recent young adult book, I have something to tell you.

By Connor Nash

Last week husbands Pete and Chasten Buttigieg had vastly different experiences and reactions when speaking with reporters. Secretary of Transportation Pete talked with Wired magazine talked about a wide variety of topics including neoliberalism, beer, and Tucker Carlson, among other topics. A topic of conversation that was lacking was what he does as Secretary of Transportation.

Even the questions that were “transportation” focused were just a cover for the reporter, Virginia Hefferman, to talk about the culture war.

“And yet EVs unaccountably fall on the femme side of the ledger, like Impossible burgers,” said Hefferman. Or “People like infrastructure, I guess. Even Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t pro-pothole.”

Or my favorite, “Running DOT seems to suit you. Are there more ways the challenges of transportation speak to your spiritual side?”

Hefferman came away from the interview believing that Pete doesn’t put much mental energy into his job which focuses on the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

“I slowly became aware that his cabinet job requires only a modest portion of his cognitive powers. Other mental facilities, no kidding, are apportioned to the Iliad, Puritan historiography, and Knausgaard’s Spring—though not in the original Norwegian (slacker).”

While Pete was being lambasted by the media and Twitter users, his husband Chasten was promoting his new young adult book, I have something to tell you, based on his first memoir. Both books talk about Chasten’s life growing up in Northern Michigan and his struggles of growing up gay in a conservative area.

In his first memoir, released during the 2020 presidential election, Chasten talks about his time going in and out of the closet, his time experiences with homelessness, being crushed under student loans, and his time struggling as a college graduate with a teaching degree.

The first book reads like a memoir you’d expect from a politician planning to run for office and talks about his own policy beliefs through his lived experience. Higher education reform, student loan reform, greater funding for public education, healthcare, and insurance reform. All topics that drive Democratic and liberal voters to the ballot box are wrapped up in a story that connects strongly with those voters.

Meanwhile, his young adult book is released at a time that is challenging the political tides. The May 2023 release of a gay-centric young adult novel. Pen America found that in the first half of the 2022-23 school year, there were 1,477 instances of book bannings happening across the nation. The organization found that 26% of those bannings were on books that had LGBTQ themes or characters.

Chasten addresses book bannings during the event, saying that many people on the other side are not discussing the topic in good faith. “Nobody has a problem with Romero and Juliet but people are up in arms about gay penguins… too many people want to jump into the culture war and not put in the work,” said Chasten.

He then pivoted to a reliable Democratic talking point on gun control being the best way to protect children. Although the point has been used over and over again with liberal talking heads, when Chasten made the point there was a level of authenticity lacking in today’s politics. Probably due to his experience as a middle school English/drama teacher before the move to his role in politics.

His past work as a teacher also helped him write his memoir into a book for young adults. “I taught 8th grade, this book is age appropriate.” the audience cheered and laughed in agreement.

The moment that solidified my belief that Chasten should be the political face of the Buttigieg household was during the Q&A when an older woman asked a question representative of the changing times. The woman tripped over her words at times but talked about how a family member of hers is so knowledgeable of gender identity and language.

The woman even messed up their family member’s preferred pronouns but she quickly corrected herself. Essentially the woman wanted to understand more about this family member’s journey and asked in a way you would expect from a Boomer that grew up in a different time.

Chasten could have chastised the woman when she referred to her family member as “transexual” or said that “LGBTQ people don’t need to educate the cis straights.” Instead, he rewarded the woman’s curiosity and bravery for asking a hot topic in front of a Seattle crowd.

He talked about how it’s a good thing to learn about these things, especially since the times are changing. That there may be uncomfortable moments, but those are just learning moments that everyone can grow from. Finally, he said, “It’s easier to go through life when you don’t have to defend yourself,” addressing why her family member is so knowledgeable on the concepts of gender identity.

Chasten can make a room feel not only heard and understood but that he cares about their lives. Maybe it’s the years of drama school, or that he is a new father, but his message of empathy and compassion feels real, and it comes from a genuine place.

The problem is that Chasten does not believe he has what it takes to be in a position of political power. He is confused why people would come out to listen to him talk about his book, how could he be comfortable with people actively voting for him for any office? Chasten does not have that narcissistic drive that every politician has, which is exactly why he should be in elected office.

Chasten’s message of kindness and empathy is a breath of fresh air in these times, especially when he says, “There are so many good people in this country but you don’t hear about them on the news.” The polar opposite of “basket of deplorables” or “American carnage.”

This is why I am “Chasten Buttigieg for any Elected Office.”

An Empty Eye Sore On 15th Ave Caused By A Multi-Billion Dollar Corporation’s Temper Tantrum

QFC Grocery Store Closed Seattle

The only groceries at the former 15th Ave QFC are the 8-bit milk, orange, strawberry and lemon made of floppy disks.

By Connor Nash

In January 2021, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance requiring grocery stores with employees of 500 or more to pay each employee an additional $4 an hour hazard pay. Organizations representing grocery stores, including the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association, were against the ordinance and sued to have it repealed. The lawsuits went nowhere.

Two weeks after the hazard pay ordinance, Kroger announced that it would be closing the QFC located on 15th Ave E in Capitol Hill and the 35th Ave location in Wedgewood. QFC is a subsidiary of Kroger.

Kroger explained in their statement at the time that, “When you factor in the increased costs of operating during COVID-19, coupled with consistent financial losses at these two locations, and this new extra pay mandate, it becomes impossible to operate a financially sustainable business.”

On April 24th, 2021 the 15th Ave QFC doors closed.

The landlord of the building, Hunters Capital, was hopeful at the time about the building, but stressed nothing may happen to the building in the future.

“While redevelopment of this building is possible, current leases in place make it unlikely to happen in the near future. However, we do hope to create a more engaging street front for our tenants and neighbors,” said Jill Cronauer COO of Hunter Capital.

In September 2022, Hazard pay for grocery workers was ended by the city council, meaning that stores like QFC would not have to pay workers more. This would be good news for Kroger since increased costs were the reason for the closures. But Kroger continued to voice their opposition.

Currently, the former QFC on 15th is still boarded up, graffiti painted over multiple times, grocery floppy disk art, and construction equipment in the parking lot for a new residential building down the block.

But there are zero signs that anything will happen at the former QFC.

That’s because Kroger continues to be a “good tenant” and pays their rent to Hunter Capital, in full and in a timely manner. Kroger is contributing to blight in the neighborhood and constricting economic activity in a neighborhood still recovering from the pandemic,  but since they pay their rent, they get to stay.

This continued closure seems odd because the reason for closing the QFC was the increased cost caused by the hazard pay, yet Kroger chooses to take a complete loss on a property that is doing zero economic activity.

Kroger can afford to be this wasteful, it reported an Operating Profit of $4.1 billion for fiscal year 2022. Sales without fuel increased by 5.6% in that same time period.

A possible reason for the QFC staying dormant is due to the future closure and redevelopment of the nearby Safeway. QFC may be waiting for the Safeway to close before opening back up, to monopolize the neighborhood’s grocery needs.

Some business owners in the area are not happy about Kroger’s decision to keep the property abandoned for no one to use. One stated, “I think anyone holding a property vacant is not a good neighbor.”

Kroger continued to protest over the ended hazard pay ordinance. It affects the small businesses that are forced to deal with less foot traffic and consumers coming to the area. And it affects consumers who have fewer options in what billion-dollar corporation to get their groceries at.

Kroger did not respond for comment.

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