Tag Archive: Ellensburg


When it comes to collegiate competitions, most would be inclined to think of the college football playoff and the national championship game.

Or how about “March Madness” and the “Final Four” … or even “The Frozen Four”?

Probably no one knows about the (Carroll J.) Bateman competition, established more than four decades ago by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).DSC01384

Even though Bateman draws far less attention … if any … than NCAA football and basketball, the competition is just as intense and success requires working well in a team setting for eight months or longer.

This point is magnified when every student today seemingly has his or her nose buried in a cell-phone screen. Some would contend that mobile technology and the explosion of “apps” has retarded our ability to communicate, let alone getting along well in a group setting. Sounds like a good subject for a future strategic communications blog post. Hmmm …

This point brings the author of Almost DailyBrett to the five members of the Central Washington University (CWU) Bateman team: (left to right in photo) Aubree Downing, Robyn Stewart, Madalyn Freeman (team leader); Masey Peone and Silver Caoili. As Millennials, they get it when it comes to social, mobile and cloud, but they have also demonstrated an increasingly rare characteristic: the remarkable ability to always get along and work well as a team.

“Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Backside … “

Having spent almost 15 years in Silicon Valley, yours truly knows how one disagreeable-and-detestable personality can become a cancer in any organization no matter the level of talent.

And when that person voluntarily (or involuntarily) decides to move on to another opportunity or to spend more time with his or her family, there is the obligatory going away party. Do you really want to go to this send-off? Well no, but in most cases you attend and say nice things even though you really don’t mean it.

In a few egregious cases, there are “going away” parties for former colleagues, who have already departed. To top it off, the person in question is not invited.

The reason for this digression is to point out how important it is to be a team player, and not only to “manage up” to superiors but to co-exist with colleagues and treat subordinates with respect and understanding.

Even though Almost DailyBrett is a tad biased, I am nonetheless floored by how well the CWU team worked together virtually every day for the past 240+ days to advance the university’s proposal to the deciders at PRSSA. They have set a standard that will be difficult for future CWU Bateman teams to match, let alone exceed.DSC01394

Your Home Matters: Affordable Housing Fair 2015

Each year, the best-and-the-brightest at PRSSA decide upon a subject for the participating university Bateman teams located across the fruited plain. This academic year drew a germane, timely subject: Home Matters and the compelling need for affordable housing.

Our five-team members after going back-and-forth for hours, embarked on a comprehensive conventional/digital campaign that was manifested (but not ended) Saturday with the “Your Home Matters: Affordable Housing Fair 2015” in Ellensburg, Washington.

What was particularly exciting was to witness the community involvement, spurred by our team, including the host of the fair: Mandy Hamlin of Allstate Insurance. The participants featured some big names including: Umpqua Bank, Coldwell Banker, Habitat for Humanity, HopeSource, Knudsen Lumber and the Kittitas Yakima Valley Community Land Trust.

Not bad, not bad at all.

There was even an opportunity for kidlets to draw on tiles to give input as to what “home” means to them. Considering that Baby Boomers may be the first generation to procreate offspring that may never have the opportunity to own a home (e.g., Bay Area, SoCal, New England, Mid-Atlantic, SeaTac … ), then “Home Matters” must extend to doable rents to go along with achievable mortgages. It also applies to reasonably priced, sustainable and environmentally friendly building materials.DSC01387

Having worked on close-knit teams in the California Office of the Governor, a publicly traded company and an international public relations firm, your author knows that a public relations team must be able to address conflict without making it personal. Some do well in this environment, and others … well they don’t.

Pettiness and childish name calling should be left to the sandboxes of yesteryear with their Tonka trucks. Today, our august communications segment needs public relations professionals that can not only access information from the screen of a cell phone, but also get along and produce results.

There are at least five students in Ellensburg, Washington who can do just that.

http://prssa.prsa.org/scholarships_competitions/bateman/

http://prssa.prsa.org/about/

http://prssa.prsa.org/about/PRSA/

http://www.cwu.edu/communication/

 

 

The author of Almost DailyBrett served as a chief spokesman for California Governor George Deukmejian for seven years (eight years when one counts the 1982 gubernatorial campaign).

He also cut his teeth as a reporter covering the Proposition 13 tax revolt way back in 1978.

And yet there is the realization that he may never return on a permanent basis to California.Calcoast

And likewise, there are literally hundreds of thousands who may never leave their present California residence/rental for another in the state or even across town because they simply can’t.

The problem:

Where can they move?

What will they pay?

How much is the new mortgage?

How much is the new rent?

How much are the increased property taxes?

How much are the income, sales and gas taxes?

How much are the bridge tolls?

Will it still take 45 minutes to drive five miles?

Yes, there are Golden State Handcuffs. Even though they glisten in the light, they are still handcuffs.

Stockton, Modesto, Visalia, Bakersfield

Lovely Central Valley destinations, such as Stockton, Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield, are all doable for those who want to move to the Golden State. The Mercury rarely exceeds 115-degrees in the summer and the mind-numbing Tule fog usually lifts after about six weeks in the winter.bakersfield

The fortunate ones are those who have found their pads in livable places in the Golden State, but can they actually leave if they wanted to and go someplace else? For far too many, the answer is “no.”

One of the reasons is taxes. When it comes to levies California has every one of them: income, sales, property, gas, bridge tolls etc., etc., etc.

The top federal rate is 39.6 percent and 30 percent for capital gains, figures that need to be factored into this discussion. California’s “progressive” income tax rate tops out at 13.3 percent, the nation’s highest. Translated: high-salary earners spend more than half the year to pay both the feds and the state.

My present home in Ellensburg, Washington has nada state income tax, but we do pay an 8 percent sales tax.

My adopted state of Oregon has zero sales tax.

Folks in San Diego are paying 8 percent sales tax, Sacramento, 8.50 percent; San Francisco, 8.75 percent; Los Angeles, 9 percent. Can piercing the psychologically important double-digit rate to buy virtually anything be far behind? Don’t be surprised by a 10 percent+ sales tax coming soon in California’s blue counties.

For those living in the Bay Area, it costs $5 to drive across the Bay Bridge, ditto for the San Mateo and Dumbarton. The Golden Gate charges $6 for the privilege. Hey, weren’t the tolls for these bridges supposed to be rescinded once the bonds were paid off? Silly me.

California’s gas taxes (both federal/state combined) are 71.29 cents per gallon, leaving other high taxing states, such as New York, in the rear-view mirror.

The Proposition 13 Blessing/Curse

Looking back at the “Wonder Years” house that was my home for 15 years in suburban Pleasanton with its desultory hour-plus commute one way over the Sunol Grade, my mortgage was around $1,850 and my annual property tax was $5,225. The latter figure is high when one weighs it against my comparable size Eugene, Oregon house with a property tax levy of approximately $3,400.

Today, the very same house in Pleasanton would require a $3,400 mortgage or a $3,500 per month rent or about 2x what I shelled out in mortgage payments just four years ago. The property tax is now $8,600 or more than $700 per month. These figures come from Zillow, which is historically regarded to be low in its estimates.

An über-successful friend of mine pays an annual property tax rate of $75,000 for the privilege of living in his relatively new West Los Angeles house for just one year. He gets to repeat this pocket-digging exercise next year and presumably every year. His next neighbor pays a fraction of that amount because he has not sold his pad, thus triggering reappraisal.

The memories of the Proposition 13 property tax revolt (e.g., Jarvis-Gann) still linger. People were upset with inflation approaching 18 percent and resulting property tax bills of 30 percent higher than two years earlier. Proposition 13 simply kept many in their homes because California’s one-party Legislature failed to act.jarvisgann

And yet the sale-triggers-reappraisal-and-a-new-tax rate, coupled with the escalation of property values, has not only made California unaffordable for new home buyers (e.g., good luck Millennials), it is trapping Baby Boomers and X-Gens in their own homes, residences and in some cases apartments.

A rent controlled studio apartment in San Francisco will stay at a similar monthly stipend unless and until the renter moves. The real question: Can that renter actually afford to move? Is that renter essentially trapped in downtown San Francisco?

Granted there are worse fates in life than being “trapped” in a rent controlled studio apartment in the City by the Bay, but Golden State Handcuffs are just that, Golden State Handcuffs.

California has always enjoyed great weather, the best in the lower 48. The state never looks better than it does from the tailgate parties at Brookside Golf Course on New Year’s Day. Alas, there is a reality of skyrocketing housing and rental prices, every tax imaginable and conceivably more hikes to come, and traffic that saps your soul and Joie de Vivre.

It’s sad, but California is not the state it was when I grew up.

For some, you literally can’t go back home.

For others, you can’t leave home.

http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates_2013.cgi

http://www.batolls.info/

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/top-state-income-tax-rates-2014

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/states-with-highest-gasoline-excise-taxes-2.aspx

 

 

 

Making Change Your Friend

“For a lot of people, ‘What if I do nothing?’ is a no-brainer … Do you think you can go sideways and hum along? There is no sideways in life. Life applies friction.” – Entrepreneur and motivator Jonathan Fields delivering a TEDx Talk.

The mileage as the crow flies between Eugene, Oregon and Ellensburg, Washington is 330 miles, give or take a feather or two.

Both are Pacific Northwest college towns (University of Oregon and Central Washington University respectively).

marboro1

 

Mother Nature  lavishes rain on Eugene’s seemingly endless groves of Douglas fir trees and an evergreen landscape. Ellensburg is high desert and reminds one of “Marlboro Country” with its wide spaces, grazing bovine and of course, the county rodeo. That is no Extreme Bull.

Yes, this will indeed be my first rodeo.

As they say, “All good things must end.” Eras come to a close, while others are just beginning. New adventures are on the horizon.

For the author of Almost DailyBrett, there was a LaLaLand era, a Sacramento tenure, a Portland time, a Silicon Valley marathon, a lengthy stop in Eugene and soon it will be a new beginning in Ellensburg.

Many have literally spanned the globe in their life changes. Alas, for me it has been the three continental states that touch the Pacific, but nonetheless it has been a wild-at-times roller-coaster ride.

But for many, even modest change is something to be feared and dreaded. And yet these timid souls try to go sideways, even though that is really not an option.

Same Bed, Same TV, Same Beard, Same Pension and No License to Drive

“Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Show me how it can.” – Plaque in the office of former House Speaker Jim Wright

We all know them.

They always have an excuse. They are always ready with a rationalization. They always have something, anything wrong that will never, ever get better.

eeyore1

Sometimes they can’t get out of their own way. They prefer living at home, sleeping in the same bed and watching the same 21” standard-definition television set with the rabbit-ear antennas (slight exaggeration). Someone will not cut his beard or hair. Someone artistically gifted will not start his own business because he or she is locked into public sector golden handcuffs (e.g., public sector pension). And someone will not learn how to drive and therefore will not be able to compete for a better job and improve her or his life and the lives of impacted offspring.

Another year of “muddling through?” Are Food Stamps and disability payments far off? Is life reduced to running out the clock to the final inevitable day? Pass another PBR.

How many people do you know that are overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, underutilized and under the gravitational pull of a bosshole? How many more are in a bad relationship, and they know they are in a bad relationship, but for some reason will not throw off their chains?

For far too many these desultory scenarios are exactly the case. But Jonathan Fields correctly points out that there is no sideways in life. Life applies “friction” in many ways … and some of the nastiest scrapes can be sudden and unpleasant.

Sometimes Change Cannot Be Controlled, But It Can Be Managed

Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs,”  — Michael Rowe, Host of “Dirty Jobs.”

Even for the successful, the achievers, the Type A personalities caca does indeed happen. A close family member may die. A hereditary disease may strike. You may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your organization may be acquired. You may come under the influence of a bosshole. The economy may go south. The list goes on-and-on-and-on.

Everyone wants to decide when she or he comes and goes, but many times that is not an option.

We cannot pretend change is not going to happen, but we need to accept that it will … and not always in a nice way.

As mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, we need to manage or be managed. So how can we manage change?

Acceptance Mode. No more anger. No more denial. No more bargaining. No more depression. Let’s skip all of the above and get to acceptance. What is your plan for the future? What comes next? You know there will be a “next.”

Look to the Future. The past is gone. The present will soon be gone. What have you done? Where do you want to go? What do you need to do to reach this goal? Life is too frickin’ short. How can you improve your chances of success? Manage your future.

Change of Venue? Sometimes there are better opportunities over the horizon, in another town, in another state or maybe another country. Are you limiting your options because you will not even for a nanosecond consider a change of personal venue?

Don’t Hate, Celebrate. Don’t hold grudges. Instead of being jealous of achievers and wishing them Schadenfreude, learn from their successes. If a rising tide lifts all boats, how can your dingy become a yacht? There is a way.

tigger

Be positive. Growing up, Tigger was always more appealing than Eeyore. Show Speaker Wright and others exactly how it can be done. Be rational, but instead of merely defining the problem, what is the solution? How can your life and the lives of your loved ones change for the better

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. There is always something new to learn. The reason for the unprecedented success of Silicon Valley is lifelong learning. Engineers (e.g., Tesla’s Elon Musk) are not afraid to fail. They are always trying to solve the latest and greatest puzzle before moving on to the next one. What will you learn today?

Every Stranger is a Friend You Have Not Met. There will be new people. There will be new experiences. Some will be better. Some will not. As the Realtors always say, “There will be tradeoffs.” Make change your friend. And yes, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just may find, you get what you need.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkFRwhJEOos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wright

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

http://books.google.com/books?id=OGoXa1Au0n8C&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=Speaker+Jim+Wright:+Don%27t+come+in+and+tell+me+how+you+can%27t;+tell+me+how+you+can&source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

http://toprightnews.com/?p=2872

 

 

 

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