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Need a holiday gift? Buy a book from the Legacy Project! ?>

Need a holiday gift? Buy a book from the Legacy Project!

Legacy Project Holiday Book List Resized for blog

Looking for holiday gift ideas? Give the gift of a well-written book! Thanks to the Washington State Legacy Project, we can all learn about some very influential Washingtonians. The subjects of these biographies and oral histories include statewide officeholders, congressional leaders, judges and other remarkable citizens. Many of these subjects, in the face of controversy and the most challenging circumstances, refused to give up and inspired change.

There are plenty of biographies to choose from, no matter what your interest is. They include:

Visit the State Seal Store online to order your copies of these inspirational tales before the holiday season ends!

Capitol event accentuates the positive ?>

Capitol event accentuates the positive

The past several months have seen a deluge of negative campaigns as the 2012 General Election reaches its end next week. Secretary of State Reed is moderating a panel discussion this Thursday that focuses on positive politics and how it could influence leaders in local, state and national government.

The panel will explore how positive politics can change and lead to better decision-making at all levels of government. The free event, which is the latest in the series of Brown Bag Lunch Forum events sponsored by the Office of Secretary of State, begins at noon in the ABC Room of the John A. Cherberg Building on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.

The discussion is based on “Politics of the Possible,” a book by former Washington state legislator Mary Ellen McCaffree, and on the Legacy Project books/oral histories of ordinary citizens and well-known politicians who have made a lasting impact on Washington.

The panelists are Ken McCaffree, Mary Ellen McCaffree’s husband and retired University of Washington economics professor; John Hughes, chief historian with the Office of Secretary of State’s  Legacy Project and former editor and publisher of The (Aberdeen) Daily World; 25th District state Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, an adjunct professor with Seattle Pacific University’s political science department; and Alison McCaffree, Mary Ellen’s granddaughter and executive director of Washington Nonprofits, a professional organization for all nonprofits across the state.

For questions on the event, e-mail the Washington State Heritage Center staff at

Launching Saturday: new book about tribal icon Billy Frank Jr. ?>

Launching Saturday: new book about tribal icon Billy Frank Jr.

He’s one of the most famous Native Americans in Washington history, and an instrumental figure in the long and sometimes bitter battle over Indian fishing rights.

A new and privately funded book about the life of Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr. is officially being launched Saturday afternoon in Olympia. The book is entitled “Where the Salmon Runs: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr.”

The book launch is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at The Evergreen State College Longhouse. Frank will be the keynote speaker. The book’s author, Trova Heffernan, of the Secretary of State’s Legacy Project, will talk about writing the book. Signed copies of the book will be for sale at the launch event.  The book will be available to order through the Secretary of State’s Online Store, as well as on Amazon Kindle.

Several officials are slated to speak at the book launch, including Evergreen President Les Purce; Secretary of State Sam Reed; Bill Wilkerson, former director of the Washington State Department of Fisheries; and Patricia Zell, former staff of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The Legacy Project produces biographies and oral histories of influential and remarkable Washingtonians.

Slade talks redistricting, 9/11, Senate and more ?>

Slade talks redistricting, 9/11, Senate and more

John C. Hughes and former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton sign copies of the book that Hughes recently wrote about the longtime statesman.

Former state Attorney General and U.S. Senator Slade Gorton was the featured guest at a forum and book signing Thursday in the Legislative Building’s State Reception Room.

More than 50 attendees heard Gorton speak about his enduring and prominent career in state and national politics.  Gorton is the subject of a recent biography entitled “Slade Gorton A Half-Century in Politics.” The book is written by John C. Hughes, chief historian with our office’s Legacy Project and former editor and publisher of the Aberdeen Daily World.

Gorton answered questions from a panel and audience members about his more than 50 years of public service, which includes membership on the 9/11 Commission and the 2011 State Redistricting Commission, which recently finished redrawing Washington’s congressional and legislative district boundaries.

The forum panel included Hughes; David Ammons, communications director for Secretary of State Sam Reed and former Olympia bureau reporter for The Associated Press; and Austin Jenkins, Public Radio Northwest Network’s Olympia correspondent.

The book costs $37.50 (including shipping and handling) through the Secretary of State’s Online Store at . Proceeds from the sale of the Gorton book support the publication of Legacy Project books. No state funds are used to publish Legacy Project books.

All Legacy Project books are available to read free online at and are available for Kindle and e-readers at

The forum was hosted by the Office of Secretary of State and the Washington State Heritage Center.  TVW covered the event, which will be shown on the channel in the coming days. The forum’s air times can be found at

Red ink: House offers $32 billion cut-laden budget ?>

Red ink: House offers $32 billion cut-laden budget

Majority House Democrats have unveiled a $32.4 billion state budget that incorporates $3.2 billion in assorted cuts, a 3 percent salary reduction and higher medical contributions for public employees, pension reforms, and more.

The no-new-taxes budget for the next two years was the first draft to surface in the Legislature since a new revenue forecast knocked another $800 million hole in the budget last month, bringing the total gap to over $5 billion.  Tax collections have lagged as the state and national recovery struggles to take hold.

House budget Chairman Ross Hunter and other House Democratic leaders briefed reporters on the new plan, which was scheduled for a public hearing later in the day and action by the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.  The full House may vote by week’s end, and soon the Senate is expected to come up with its counterproposal.  In the House, minority Republicans are producing an alternative budget; in the Senate, Republicans are at the table.

The House plan freezes voter-approved initiatives for teacher pay and class-size reduction, cuts $482 million from higher education, cuts public employee pay by $177 million, eliminates K-4 class-size appropriations to save $216 million, trims the Basic Health Plan by $108 million and the Disability Lifeline program by $100 million, and saves $362 million from automatic pension COLAs for some older retirees.

The budget proposal would cut the Office of Secretary of State by about $15 million, including cuts of 22 percent at the State Library and the Legacy Project, and saving $10 million by suspending the 2012 presidential primary.  Secretary of State Sam Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire jointly requested the primary cut, given the dire straits of the budget.

Reed will resist the deep Library and Legacy Project cuts.   The budget does not contemplate removing the Library and Legacy Project from the Office of Secretary of State, as a separate bill had proposed.

But the budget does sweep up the funds that the Legislature previously authorized for construction of a new Heritage Center for the Capitol Campus, to house the Library and State Archives and to provide an education and visitor center and historical exhibits.

House Democrats also proposed a state construction budget that uses $1.6 billion in new bonds.  A separate transportation budget was approved earlier and awaits action in the Senate.

Lillian Walker, civil rights pioneer, honored ?>

Lillian Walker, civil rights pioneer, honored

It was like a combination of birthday party, book-launch, political rally and roast for a revered old friend.

Lillian Walker, who has just turned a feisty 97, was the honoree at a civic event sponsored by Secretary of State Sam Reed, the YWCA and Mrs. Walkers’ numerous friends, family and colleagues in the long struggle for equality for all.

Well before Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were gaining fame, Mrs. Walker and her late husband James were organizing and “educating” Bremerton folks about racial equality.  They staged sit-ins and pickets, and eventually integrated lunch counters and other business places, worked with the schools, and promoted equality through their YWCA, NAACP, their church, and other organizations.

Mrs. Walker’s life lessons are told in a new book that is part of the Legacy Project within Reed’s office.  The book, which was not published at taxpayer expense, is available at the Secretary’s office in Olympia or online.  It can also be read free, online.

Mrs. Walker was honored at the event in Kitsap County’s stunning hilltop county admin building in Port Orchard. Commissioner Charlotte Garrido read a proclamation declaring it Lillian Walker Day and warm letters were read from Gov. Chris Gregoire, Congressman Norm Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray. Appeals Judge Robin Hunt, who first recommended the biography, and dear friends of Mrs. Walker toasted her. Secretary Reed called Mrs. Walker an inspiring reminder of what one person can do, and said he’s happy that her story has been preserved for future generations.  Author John Hughes recounted her accomplishments, her tenacity and her warm wit.

Mrs. Walker said her fight for equality flowed from her devotion to the Golden Rule, to remind people to treat everyone the way they would wish to be treated.

`Booth Who?’ book rollout honors Governor Gardner ?>

`Booth Who?’ book rollout honors Governor Gardner

“Booth Who?” was the slogan that puckish campaign aides famously used for Booth Gardner’s early campaign buttons and yardsigns back when he wasn’t exactly a household name yet.  He eventually hit the political version of a Grand Slam, serving in the state Senate, Pierce County Executive and as the two-term governor.


His story is now told in a new Legacy Project book called, naturally enough,  “Booth Who?”  It’s available free online and in print form ($25 softcover, $35 for limited edition hardcover).  No public dollars were used for the printing.  Author John Hughes, chief historian, spent untold hours interviewing Gardner and many other sources, and dipping into the state Library and state Archives collections. It’s the 10th title now published.

The Legacy Project in the Office of Secretary of State is part of the planned state Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus and online.  The Center, which brings together the Archives, Library, history exhibits, an education center and more, was approved by the Legislature several years ago, and awaits a final go-ahead in January.

Several hundred friends, family, legislators, former aides and colleagues joined to honor Gardner at a book rollout Wednesday evening at the University of Puget Sound, where he was once dean of the business school and a longtime trustee and benefactor.   UPS President Ron Thomas called it a homecoming for Gardner. The emcee, Secretary of State Sam Reed, listed some of Gardner’s lifetime achievements and added, “He continues to inspire and challenge us even today.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire, Gardner’s fellow Democrat and his former Ecology director, regaled the audience with memories of Gardner, including eluding the security detail and sneaking downtown for a hamburger.  She hailed his lifetime of work for citizens’ most basic needs, and for inspiring people for public service.  Gov. Dan Evans, a Republican who worked with Gardner on higher education construction and other causes, also attended the event, as did Democratic state Auditor Brian Sonntag. The event will be available for viewing at  A photo gallery is here.

Gardner, who is combatting Parkinson’s disease, held court from his wheelchair, spending time with each person who lined up for a photo or to spend a few quiet moments in conversation. His voice was mostly shot when it came time to respond to the effusive praise, but he said later that he had an amazing time. He was among the very last to leave the hall.


A book? A paper-type book? ?>

A book? A paper-type book?

govnancyYes, it’s true. We’re all bloggy, electronic-book-reading, texters these days, but some of us still dig books.   Real dead-tree paper books with purty pictures.

For months now, our re-booted oral history program, called the Legacy Project, has exclusively published oral history-biographies electronically – as in posted free  on our website.  Tons of people have clicked on and some, like the one that got written up in Rolling Stone (the material on rocker-civic activist Krist Novoselic), were very popular indeed.

And yet some folks told us they prefer books.

And so, using no public dollars, we’ve published the first book version – the story of Nancy Evans.  Secretary of State Sam Reed, who’s office houses the Legacy Project, and chief historian and author John Hughes, presented Governor Gregoire with an autographed copy for the Mansion Library.  The books are $25, plus handling. Other books are forthcoming on civil rights leader Lillian Walker, former Governor Booth Gardner and tribal leader Billy Frank. (more…)

No Heritage Center just yet ?>

No Heritage Center just yet

Washington’s newly adopted $3.7 billion  construction budget doesn’t  greenlight construction of the long-planned and previously approved Washington State Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus.

PrintThe project, championed by Secretary of State Sam Reed, Senator Karen Fraser, heritage groups, and newspapers across Washington, is designed to bring together the State Archives, State Library, an education center, visitor experience, history exhibits and other features in a consolidated facility at the gateway to the Capitol grounds.

It was not in competition with other operating or construction dollars, but did need a final green light for issuing the “certificates of participation,” the mortgage, along with a relatively small increase in fees that Senator Fraser had requested.  Reed, while disappointed, says he’ll vigorously pursue the project next January.  The current two-year budget envisioned (more…)

5 Questions about the new Nancy Evans book ?>

5 Questions about the new Nancy Evans book

One of the Legacy Project’s oral histories has become the program’s first printed book. The biography and oral history of Nancy Evans, Washington’s remarkable former first lady, is now available for purchase. John Hughes, the Legacy Project’s chief oral historian, wrote the biography and conducted the oral history interviews with Mrs. Evans. Here’s his take on this fascinating project:

Nancy Evans Book Cover1) Why would the average person want to pick up this book? In other words, what’s in it for me? Nancy Evans was much more than a First Lady. She is best known for saving the Governor’s Mansion from the wrecking ball, but her career in public life is fascinatingly diverse. During her 12 years as first lady she sparked new interest in history and the arts in Olympia and was a founding trustee of Planned Parenthood of Thurston County. She also backed the Equal Rights Amendment and has been a longtime activist for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. She and Gov. Evans welcomed Vietnamese refugees to Washington in the 1970s after the governor of California said there was no room for them. One young immigrant couple was so grateful for their support that they named a son Evans. In the years since, Nancy has served on numerous boards, including the Seattle Symphony, KCTS, the Cancer Lifeline and as a trustee of her alma mater, Whitman College.

2) What lessons can we take away from Nancy Evans’ story and her role in state history?
That sometimes in life, you have to find the courage to take risks. Nancy says she dearly loved her father, but it was mother who knew best when she said, (more…)