WSDOT Update to Council 12-15-14

December 17th, 2014

I’m no engineer. But I am a Seattleite who cares deeply about the city’s waterfront, long fenced off from the city by an aging two-story viaduct that’s due for replacement. And, as a city councilmember vitally interested in the welfare of the city, I am listening these days to engineers who can tell me what’s happening as contractors tunnel beneath our streets.

WF 1For those reasons and others, I was deeply grateful to the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the engineers and officials who came to a Seattle City Council Monday morning to brief the council on issues involving the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project.

In recent days, the Seattle Times and other local media have been reporting on a soil settlement of … Continue Reading »

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Women in Business: Voula’s Offshore Cafe

October 15th, 2014

It’s no secret that Voula Vlaho loves her customers.  She’ll tell you so herself on days when, stepping out of semi retirement, she shows up at Voula’s Offshore Café on Northlake Way, within sight of Lake Union. voulas1

“I just love to be with people,” says Voula, a spry, compact woman with salt and pepper hair. She’ll give you a maternal hug and point to the wall papered with pictures of her many customers and their children. She believes you have to love your customers. That, she insists, is “Greek philosophy.” She invites customers to call her “mama.”

Known for Greek specialties, good food and generous portions, Voula’s café celebrated 30 years at 658 NE. Northlake Way on Sept. 11. The celebratory … Continue Reading »

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What’ll It Be, Honey? Memories of the Dog House

October 3rd, 2014

I read Bethany Jean Clement’s recent article about the Hurricane Café’s impending close with a heavy heart. Old Seattle is about to lose another landmark.  Final day for the Hurricane Café at Seventh and Bell is set for Jan. 1, 2015. Acorn Development (an affiliate of Amazon) will be tearing down the nearly 100-year old building to make way for yet another slick skyscraper.dog house 2

About the only thing that won’t be lost during the demolition are customers’ memories of the Hurricane’s last two decades and — even before that – stories from the Hurricane’s predecessor, the Dog House.

Let’s first be clear about the Dog House’s place in old Seattle, pre-World’s Fair, pre- WWII, even pre-Viaduct. It was in the 1930s, … Continue Reading »

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Celebrating Yesler Swamp

October 3rd, 2014

On Sunday, dozens of neighbors and volunteers brought crockpots full of baked beans, bowls of potato salad, trays of summer fruits and vegetables and loaves of bread to share. Cheering along with the Cajun band Folichon, they were celebrating the completion of the first phase of the Yesler Swamp boardwalk. Yesler 8

The swamp, a wooded wetland, is a natural treasure that has suffered neglect and misuse for years. It is now being restored through the efforts of an inspired group of dedicated workers, the Friends of Yesler Swamp.

They, along with their partners, have contributed thousands of volunteer hours – more than 3,000 in 2014 alone – to remove invasive species, plant native trees and shrubs and construct … Continue Reading »

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Gender Wage Gap: A Report Card

August 27th, 2014

It’s taking time, more time than anyone would like, but we’ve rolled up our sleeves and are laying the ground work necessary to address the region’s jumbo-sized gender wage gap.Report Card Blank[4]

Last year, the National Partnership for Women and Families reported that the Seattle area has one of the widest wage gaps in the nation: on average, women make 73 cents for every dollar men earn.  City leaders, responding to a request from the Women’s Commission, studied our own gender wage gap and learned we’re not off the hook:  the City’s gender wage gap is 99 cents on the dollar and much worse in certain departments.

As chair of the Seattle City Council’s first committee to oversee the … Continue Reading »

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Women in the Workplace: Marination

August 19th, 2014

What do you do when the world hands you a lemon? Folk wisdom says you make lemonade. The Marination duo had a different answer: Make Hawaiian-Korean tacos.Marination3

Marination is a crazy, runaway success story that co-owner Kamala Saxton likes to talk about.  The story began five years ago when Kamala and co-owner Roz Edison, had some financial reverses, like many of us who weathered the Great Recession.

Roz and Kamala became acquainted while both were working in educational programs in Boston. Kamala, a one-time Seattleite who grew up in Hawaii and California, has degrees in education and public policy and a professional background at the Gates Foundation. Roz, who was born in Greece and has lived in Romania, is Chinese and Filipina and … Continue Reading »

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Women in the Workplace: Joanne Ort CPA

August 13th, 2014

When Joanne Ort went off to the University of Washington in the 1980s, she thought she’d emerge as a doctor. That was before organic chemistry. The college class left her scratching her head. Instead she enrolled in accounting and discovered a perfect fit.

The switch shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Joanne’s dad and one of her sisters were CPAs and she was about to become one. She graduated with a business degree, later acquiring a master’s with a tax concentration. Joanne Ort

She says, “I always knew I wanted to have my own practice.” And, after raising two children and working for three accounting firms, she has reached that goal with Joanne Ort CPA. Hers is a small business with one … Continue Reading »

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Women in the Workplace: Joanne Ort CPA

August 13th, 2014

When Joanne Ort went off to the University of Washington in the 1980s, she thought she’d emerge as a doctor. That was before organic chemistry. The college class left her scratching her head. Instead she enrolled in accounting and discovered a perfect fit.

The switch shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Joanne’s dad and one of her sisters were CPAs and she was about to become one. She graduated with a business degree, later acquiring a master’s with a tax concentration. Joanne Ort

She says, “I always knew I wanted to have my own practice.” And, after raising two children and working for three accounting firms, she has reached that goal with Joanne Ort CPA. Hers is a small business with one … Continue Reading »

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Women inthe Workplace: Spinnaker Bay Brewery

August 7th, 2014

When you think of a brewmaster, you probably envision a rotund Germanic fellow with a Walrus mustache. But not at Spinnaker Bay Brewery, a thriving new enterprise in Hillman City. The lively brew pub is 100 percent woman-owned and operated, arguably the only completely woman-owned brewery in the state.

Spinnaker3

Elissa Pryor and Janet Spindler

I sat down last week with the owners, the brewer Janet Spindler, and the accountant, Elissa Pryor. Elissa explained the division of labor: “Janet makes really good beer and I cook the books.” The partners both are sailors and they derive the names of their distinctive brews from nautical terms.  (The list might include Fraid Knot™, High Heel™, Don’t Panic Porter™ and … Continue Reading »

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Women in the Workplace: North East Seattle Together (NEST)

July 31st, 2014

There’s a retired chef in Northeast Seattle who, not so long ago, gave up driving. But he still manages to get to the grocery store once a week. And he has help with some of his other chores and needs, thanks to a new organization, a nonprofit that enlists seniors, recruits volunteers and has created a “virtual village.”

NEST members gather for a summer cookout

NEST members gather for a summer cookout

I first heard about the village idea from Debbie Anderson, a former director of senior programs at Overlake Hospital. Anderson is president of the board of directors of NEST, an acronym for North East Seattle Together. She shared her vision with me two years ago.

What we need, … Continue Reading »

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