Heck earns a surreal trip to the Oval Office

OlympianAugust 19, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck talks with constituents during an open house in his new third-floor offices at the Lacey City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (TONY OVERMAN/Staff Photographer)

TONY OVERMAN — The Olympian Buy Photo

YAY: Real Oval Office One of the perks of having a bill passed by Congress is a trip to the White House signing ceremony. Rep. Denny Heck made his first-ever visit to the inner sanctum of the world’s superpower recently when President Barack Obama signed his Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013. About the experience, Heck says: “Frankly it was a bit surreal. On my way out, just to make sure, I turned to one of the White House staff people and asked: ‘Now that was the actual, real Oval Office, right?’ It was.”

BOO: Expensive alleys We love the idea of turning downtown Olympia’s alleyways into pleasant, even attractive public spaces. Think of the busy alleys in Seattle’s Pike Place Market area, and the imagination soars. Reclaiming the alleyways from vagrants and unsavory behavior will help the long-term downtown revitalization effort. But we choke at the estimated half-million dollar price tag.

YAY: Maximizing donations Every nonprofit organization knows there are limits to its community’s capacity for giving, and so they all try to stretch contributions as far as possible. One of the most successful at this is the Capitol Land Trust. Now in its 26th year, the conservation group has been able to secure an additional $16 in grant revenue for every dollar received in private contribution. Executive director Eric Erler and his staff have acquired 107 major grants totaling $31 million. That’s a remarkable achievement.

BOO: More local crime Last week, another late-night stabbing occurred downtown and windows were broken in a building owned by a man opposed to locating a low-barrier shelter in the downtown area. Meanwhile, a knife incident between transient or homeless people in the woods near Marathon Park didn’t result in injury, but the deceased body of a transient was found near the former Kmart building on Martin Way. Foul play is not suspected in that death.

YAY: Olympic Air Show All across the nation, air shows are being canceled because of the grounding of the Blue Angels and other military precision-flying teams. But the Olympic Air Show found a way around that problem and drew comparable crowds to the event. This year’s show focused on classic aircraft from the so-called golden age of flight from 1929 to 1949. It was a big hit. Moving the air show to August’s more predictable weather didn’t hurt either.

YAY: Defying nature A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that American infertility rates are decreasing. At the same time, ironically, fertilization treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization, have doubled in the past 10 years. The apparent conflict arises because more couples are waiting until later in life to have children, during a woman’s 30s and 40s when female fertility is declining. And more couples that can’t conceive are seeking help from the wide variety of options now available to them.

BOO: Going too far We believe in religious freedom, but some people just want to take it a step too far. Then it turns into mockery. Czech officials allowed a man to wear a colander on his head for a driver’s license picture. The man said his religion, Pastafarianism, required this unique brand of culinary headgear. It’s a classic case of too much sauce, not enough noodles.

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