Washington State Gubernatorial Debate

McKenna not releasing his taxes

I watched the Washington State gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night on TV. As the press reported, Rob McKenna took quite a few jabs at Jay Inslee and Inslee fought back. McKenna claimed that he wanted to talk about everything that was fiscal, except for his tax returns, which he is still refusing to release. 

Jay Inslee released five years of his tax returns last year, but Rob McKenna refuses to give the voters the same courtesy. 

It’s difficult to trust a candidate who refuses to release his tax returns, especially official tax returns showing what deductions American citizens take. Once the income tax returns are audited or released, it is easy to see what deductions are legitimate, which deductions are not legitimate and which charities the candidate supported. 


What is Rob McKenna trying to hide? Why is he being so secretive about his income tax returns? 


Rob McKenna is “claiming” that his income tax returns are a non-issue and has repeatedly stated that he would like to discuss fiscal issues, including taxes. Am I the only one that is seeing an enormous difference between his actions and his words? If Rob McKenna is so interested in fiscal matters of great importance like taxes, shouldn’t he give the voters the opportunity to see his tax returns? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Rob McKenna an employee of the state?


Unlike Mitt Romney, who gave his religion as a reason for not releasing his tax returns, Rob McKenna just said that he was exempt from Jay Inslee’s demands. Aside from the issue of fiscal matters, there is also the important issue of transparency in government. Which candidate do you think will provide more transparency to Washingtonians in state government? 


Democrat Jay Inslee who released his tax returns and repaid the government when a minor error was found? Or Republican Rob McKenna who won’t release his tax returns at all? 


The answer is clear: Jay Inslee. 


One answer is not so clear. Why is Rob McKenna refusing to release his taxes to the Washington State public? What is Rob McKenna trying to hide? Does Rob McKenna have an unsavory investment that he doesn’t want the public to know about that may interfere with his ability to govern? Does Rob McKenna make a contribution to a questionable charity? 


Until Rob McKenna is upfront with the voters, we won’t know. 



Contest: An Evening with a Sounder

Don't Miss the Chance to Hang with Brad Evans at Urbane!

It doesn’t matter if you are a Sounders fan or a foodie; the “Cook with a Sounder” contest is something that you will definitely want to enter.

I repeat. Do. Not.  Miss. This.  Contest.

Enter the “Cook with a Sounder” contest immediately.

Here are the contest details: The  Seattle Sounders have teamed up with Urbane restaurant in downtown Seattle for the amazing “Cook with a Sounder” contest; four lucky winners and their guests will receive a cooking lesson meal prepared by Urbane’s Executive Chef Greg Lopez and Seattle Sounders FC player Brad Evans on August 19, 2012.

Sounders fas, Brad Evans, and foodies can enter to win “Cook with a Sounder” at the following website:


If you’re at all confused for any reason about why you should enter this contest, read on. There are quite a few reasons why you, as an urbane Seattlite, might want to win an evening cooking with Brad Evans and Urbane’s Executive Chef Greg Lopez.

First of all, Urbane is noted for bringing the best of Northwest cuisine to its tables and only serves northwest wines. Urbane is located in the Hyatt at Olive 8. Urbane is chic, hip, absolutely fab and is reported to have some of the best northwest cuisine in Seattle. Having the chance to share an evening with Urbane’s Executive Chef is reason enough.

Second of all, Seattle Sounder Brad Evans has been a member of the Sounders FC since 2009 and was featured in Seventeen magazine as one of the “Guys Next Door in Soccer Gallery” for his clean cut looks and winning smile. He’s not only a great soccer player, he’s incredibly good looking.

Third, if you get Brad Evans drunk, you might be able to get all of the latest dirt and gossip about the Seattle Sounders.

And fourth, if you get Brad Evans drunk, you might be able to….wait, scratch that. I’m pretty sure that I read that Brad Evans is taken, which is a sad state of affairs for all the young ladies, cougars, and men who think that Brad Evans is a rather attractive specimen.

All in all, winning this contest is a huge win for whoever wins it. You could even that winning the contest would be a huge score….ha, ha.

Here are the nitty-gritty details about the contest. Don’t forget to enter.

WHEN: August 19, 2012

WHERE: Urbane

            Urbane Restaurant & Bar

            1639 - 8th Avenue

            Seattle, Washington, USA 98101

            Phone: 206.676.4600


Seattle is #16 on Forbes' ''Best Places For Business and Careers"

There is also a projected annual job growth of 1.7 percent

With the likes of tech giant Microsoft, online marketplace Amazon and Expedia, Seattle's IT industry is doing extremely well with over a $100K in jobs attributed to IT. Furthermore, Facebook also has an office in Seattle, which is actually one of its biggest engineering offices outside its headquarters in the state of California.

I guess it should be pretty obvious that Seattle would make it on any given list that highlights some of the great American cities and how they are helping in shaping the American economy, but I felt that a Forbes list that featured the Emerald City should be mentioned on this blog. So it’s just to draw attention to the greatness of Seattle’s economy that is pretty diverse although the first thing that people think of is IT and tech jobs.

Additionally, this is just a promotion to encourage visitors to make a trip to the city in the great Northwest and also those people who might consider moving here to try and see how they may fit in Seattle and its encouraging prospects.

The cost of living should not always be an issue as there are always going to be places where the wealthy live think Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond, WA. But the key to successfully moving here would be to continue to read this blog and other sources of information about Seattle.

However, at the end of the day, there is nothing like action and actually fixing a date to get to Seattle and doing so can get you a long way toward living in the delight that is Washington state.

Experience Seattle: Three unique Seattle-themed package hotel deals at four hotels

Experience Seattle like never before

Four Seattle boutique hotels have partnered up to offer individual package deals which highlight both Seattle attractions of note and Seattle history. The creative themes are sure to delight anyone looking to enjoy a special night out in Seattle with accomodations at one of partnered resorts, which include:  Hotel FIVE, The Maxwell Hotel, University Inn and Watertown Hotel.

The Next Fifty--This event features a wide array of goodies for history buff and centers around a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair at the Seattle Center.  The Next Fifty Package features: overnight accomodations; “The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy,” an image rich hardcover book; a Space Needle Lego kit; and program of the activities during the Seattle Center’s “The Next Fifty” celebration. This package is available now through Oct. 21, 2012 at Hotel FIVE, The Maxwell Hotel, University Inn and Watertown Hotel.

Have a Drink on Me – Seattle’s Experience Music Project (EMP) is featuring the only AC/DC exhibit in all of North America. The “Have a Drink of Me” package includes overnight accommodations, a $40 gift card to The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits and tickets for two to the EMP. This package is available and is available now through Sept. 29, 2012 at The Maxwell Hotel.

Glassblowing Package – Inspired by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, this package includes overnight accommodations, a hands-on glassblowing class at Seattle Glassblowing Studio and tickets for two to the brand new Chihuly Garden and Glass museum at the Seattle Center. This package is available now through Dec. 31, 2012 at Hotel FIVE and The Maxwell Hotel.

Hotel FIVE
2200 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA, USA

The Maxwell Hotel
300 Roy Street
Seattle, WA, 98109, USA

University Inn
4140 Roosevelt Way NE  Seattle, WA 98105

Watertown Hotel
4242 Roosevelt Way Northeast  Seattle, WA 98105

Must-see attractions in the Emerald City

There are plenty of reasons to visit Seattle. After all, the Jet City is the Gateway to Alaska and the Gateway to the Pacific. I just want to ensure that you know exactly where to go and what sights to see to make your trip to Seattle totally complete if you ever decide to visit. A visit to the Emerald City is well worth your time and money.

According to a 2011 Walk Score study, Seattle was the sixth most walkable city in the United States. But, still I would recommend a bus ride through downtown Seattle where you can catch a glimpse of the 76-story Columbia Center and the iconic Space Needle that has been featured in hit TV shows like Frasier and Grey’s Anatomy and is a symbol of Seattle.

Other than that, it really depends on what you like. I am not a big fan of the performing arts, but Seattle is a regional hub spot for the performing arts and has been so for some time now. Be sure to check out the Seattle Opera and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. As for the music scene, Seattle is the home of a type of genre called grunge music. Moreover, musicians like Quincy Jones, rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot and Kenny G call Seattle home!

There are several museums and galleries in the Emerald City to visit for all you enthusiasts with the Henry Art Gallery and the Frye Art Museum to name a couple. If you're in town during sports seasons, you should definitely catch the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Seahawks in action. That is something that I would definitely be doing as there is no bigger football and basketball fan than myself. I am also a fan of colleges and I would make a trip to one of the finest academic institutions this country has to offer: the University of Washington.

If you are going to visit Seattle in the summer around May or June then you will be just in time for the prominent Seattle International Film Festival. There is plenty to see in Seattle, including Discovery Park, which is a great place to look at wildlife and Green Lake Park, which is great for running. Make sure to enjoy a cruise as well on the waters of the Pacific Northwest as you soak in the sights and sounds of a great American city!

Seattle’s economy

Since the 1980s, Seattle had become known as a tech city with all the technology companies that are headquartered there. The first thing I thought of when Seattle was mentioned was the tech giant Microsoft but that is actually headquartered in Redmond, Washington on its own street Microsoft Way.

In actual fact, Seattle’s economy is made up of a mixture of older industrial firms and the technological companies that have made the city a tech hub recently. Seattle is actually the twelfth largest metropolitan economy in this country and in 2010, the city’s contribution to GDP was $231 billion. Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon.com, the internet retailer, Starbucks and the high end department store Nordstrom are headquartered in Seattle.

There actually a lot of big companies that are headquartered in close proximity to Seattle with the likes of Costco, Nintendo of America, T-Mobile USA – my phone network for a long time and I have been enjoying it and the Charles Barkley and D-Wade ads – and Weyerhaeuser being some of them.

The city’s economy is undergoing a revolution sparked by the green trend and clean technologies that are being developed. It was recently named the number 1 smarter city in the United States because of its policies that promote the green economy.

Seattle is undergoing development to participate in the biotechnology boom that drove the economy back in 2006. There is a good presence of biotech companies in Seattle with GlaxoSmithKline owned Corixa, the biopharmaceutical company Trubion and Immunex to name some of the bigger companies. Billionaire Paul Allen who is probably one of the wealthiest residents in Seattle has financed a lot of these developments through his investment firm Vulcan Inc.

IN-NW 2012 Seattle: Sir Mix-a-Lot on Social Media in Music Panel

I didn't get to hear his music:(

I saw Sir Mix-a-Lot speak last week about using social media to promote music at IN-NW 2012 which was put on the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and took place at the Showbox in SoDo. There were quite a few speakers at the social media conference, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t partially choose to attend the conference because of Sir Mix-a-Lot who hasn’t exactly figured largely on my radar screen.

Who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see him? (I should mention that because the Showbox is more known as a music venue, I was half-expecting Sir Mix-a-Lot to perform.) I might not have been the only one there for Sir Mix-a-Lot. The Rolling Stone blog also covered the event and his appearance in particular.

Sir Mix-a-Lot and the other panel members discussed using social media to promote their music; Sir Mix-a-Lot talked about wanting to Tweet his way to a new self and said that he was using social media to both reach out to his followers and to get away from his break-out song “Baby Got Back,” which of course, has been quite a challenge given the popularity of the original song. His aim to get some of his less heard work out there through social media, maybe by offering brief pieces of the songs. He didn’t specify how exactly he was going to do it, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more Sir Mix-a-Lot tracks.

Some of the ideas discussed by the social media music panelists included using social media to promote their band’s calendar; another idea that seemed a little more creative was using social media as kind of a tour diary. They seemed to have the idea of Tweeting their way to stardom.

Like Ben Huh who spoke earlier at the IN-NW 2012 convention, Sir Mix-a-Lot spoke out about SOPA and PIPA; the musician is not a huge fan of either piece of legislation and thinks that both SOP and PIPA are pretty crappy pieces of legislation--my words, not his.

The moderator called Sir Mix-a-Lot Mix throughout the panel’s talk; I didn’t stay long enough to hear whether or not Mix to decided to bust out with a few lyrics of “Baby Got Back” or not.

Unfortunately, I’m guessing not.


Beware of Ice!

The climate in the Seattle area tends to be temperate. We don’t typically experience huge variations in temperature, such as huge snow storms or extremely hot temperatures. It happens from time to time but isn’t the norm. So when it does happen, things can get really bad. This past month, we had an epic snow and ice storm here in the Seattle area that led to massive power outages and a situation in which troops from the Natural Guard were sent in and Christine Gregoire declared a state of emergency. Be prepared for inclement weather here in Seattle!

During the ice storm, over 200,000 people lost power, trees fell down on power lines and it was a really dangerous situation. We were out of power for four days and in my area, no gas stations were open, nothing. We started to feel very scared and desperate. Luckily, an emergency shelter opened up here and the Red Cross basically saved us. (Thank you Red Cross!)

People often snicker at Seattle-ites and accuse us of being wimps during harsh weather. What people don’t understand is that snow is not the biggest problem here. It’s ice, as was shown by this ice storm. I know people from the snowy Midwest that are stunned by how difficult it is to navigate here, much harder than other areas. That is due to the hard layer of ice that accompanies most snow.

Not to mention, there are an insane number of hills here. Add to that that there are a small number of snow plows and salt isn’t typically used on the roads, for environmental reasons. All of that adds up to a bit of a disaster.

Either way, plow, salt or really anything else helps in serious ice storms. Large trees came out from the roots due to heavy ice; there were branches down on power lines and roofs. It was a disaster and very scary. Just be aware, and prepared, as you will be very taken aback by what ice can do in the Seattle area.

Orcas Island – A Jewel in the San Juan Islands

One of the best parts of living in the Pacific Northwest is that while we have the great city area, we are in close proximity to the mountains and islands and coast. Typically within a few hours, and usually less, you can be at any one of these places. One of my favorite places to take a day or overnight trip is to Orcas Island, located in the beautiful  San Juan Islands.

Orcas Island is a rural place that is perfect for nature lovers and those that just want to escape for a romantic night away. It’s located in the very northwestern part of Washington State. Orcas is a nature lover’s dream. Filled with soaring eagles and wild deer, you will feel very far away from the city. You can also get a good look at whales as there are a fair number of whale watching tours in the area.

There are several lovely beaches in the area. While the islands have a milder climate than other parts of Washington State, it can get chilly so these are best to visit in the spring and summer. It’s also fun to go kayaking in the Puget Sound. During the summer, there is a farmer’s market filled with handicrafts and locally made soaps and clothing.

One of the most memorable points on Orcas Island is Mount Constitution. It is a located in Moran State Park, which is a total of 5.000 square feet. Climb up to the top of Mount Constitution and it is a view that one could only dream of. Moran State Park is also filled with waterfalls and lakes.

To get to Orcas Island, you will need to do so via the ferry system. This is located in Anacortes Washington, Northwest of Seattle by approximately 78 miles. The ferry goes to all of the San Juan Islands- Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island. The ferry ride is absolutely gorgeous. Stand out on the deck to get the full view!

Come to Seattle and Leave Your Wallet at the Door!

Those of us lucky to live in the Emerald City know just how amazing it is. We are also used to hearing others lamenting that they would love to live in Seattle at some point. It’s interesting but the majority of people that I meet are not from here. Often they are transplants from the Midwest or even the Northeast. While Seattle is an amazing city, it is an expensive one. People don’t often realize just how much until they decide to call it their home.

The cost of living in the Seattle area is high. Add to that the gap between the cost of living and average salaries is a huge one. Go to almost any other large city and you will not see the gap that we experience here. Just perusing rentals and homes in the area make me want to cry. The cost of living is almost 50% higher than the rest of the United States.

Oh yeah, groceries are expensive too, as are utilities. Now, the utilities may be better overall as we really never need to use air conditioning so that is an expense that we don’t have to deal with. Things are just expensive here. It can be hard to get ahead. It is possible to save some money by moving to a way-out suburb but honestly, it still isn’t cheap and the traffic that you will deal with will make you feel like jumping off your roof on a daily basis.

Even with the costs, people that move here seem to love it. Most of my friends are transplants and that is surely the case. The temperate climate (it’s a bit gray), the fact within a few hours you can visit islands, mountains or the coast. The incredible beauty, the educated population and unique vibe all make it a place to visit and a great place to live. Just say goodbye to your cash!