13th Annual Gridiron Dinner a smashing success!

Patti Payne gives Dale a personal serenade in front of the crowd. (Click the image to view the Team Photogenic photo album)

Watch it on the Seattle Channel

Visit the photo album from Team Photogenic

The Washington News Council’s “Toast and Roast” of Dale Chihuly at our 13th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on December 15 at Fremont Studios was a smashing success.

About 400 people enjoyed a raucous and rollicking evening of comedy, songs, videos, slideshows and affectionate “toasts” of Dale by a distinguished array of “toasters.”

Guests gathered at a reception in Studio B, where a special “Chihulyni” cocktail was served, along with other adult beverages and tasty hors-d’oeuvres. Then they moved into Studio A where the Cyclorama wall displayed scenes of Chihuly’s many outdoor exhibits around the world.

The Nowhere Men, Seattle’s favorite Beatles cover band, played tunes by the Fab Four as people found their tables. The band also played throughout the evening, singing several parody versions of Beatles songs written for the occasion.

Dinner, catered by Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering began with a stacked vegetable salad followed by an entrée of roasted turkey with apple dressing. Dessert was a gingerbread spice cake. “Chihuly Label” wines from Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla were served at every table, thanks to Mike Dunham and Ron Sevart of the Space Needle Corporation.

Every guest also received a coffee tumbler with the Washington News Council logo on one side and the “TAO of Journalism – Transparent, Accountable, Open” logo on the other side. The tumblers were provided by the WNC Board.

Mike Egan, who has Emceed the Gridiron Dinners for more than 10 years, welcomed the crowd and introduced Father Stephen Sundborg, president of Seattle University, to deliver the invocation.

Sue Nixon, talented jazz singer and Seattle Rotarian, opened the evening with a moving rendition of “America the Beautiful,” followed by a parody version of “Yesterday” that ended with “We believe in Chihuly.”

Glass centerpieces on each table were made by students at Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists program, which Dale started in 1994. The centerpieces were underwritten by a generous donation from Jeff and Susan Brotman. A video was shown explaining how the program helps at-risk kids in Tacoma. Greg Piercy and Travis Johnson of Hilltop then talked about what the program has meant to them.

Suzie Burke, WNC Chair, and I, WNC President and Executive Director, also welcomed the crowd and thanked table sponsors. “Mille Fiori” sponsors (at the $10,000 level) included Boeing, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Premera, and Susan Hutchison/Charles Simonyi Fund. Sponsors at the “Macchia” ($7,500) level included Chihuly Studio and the Space Needle Corporation. At the “Venetian” ($5,000) level: Fremont Dock Company, Lynden Inc., Pemco and U-Park Systems. Plus more than a dozen table sponsors at the “Seaform” ($3,000) level.

Suzie and I also thanked a wide range of people who helped make the event possible with generous in-kind or other donations. I noted the event would not have been possible without the help of Kathy Schrier, my executive assistant, and Monica Tracey, our event planner. I also thanked Christine Kehoe, Janet Makela, Billy O’Neill and Michael Tobiason of Chihuly Studio for all their help arranging the event, along with Dale and Leslie.

Mike Egan did his traditional Gridiron Slideshow, starting with shots of his own two children followed by Chihuly baby pictures. He went through a series of early Chihuly photos with gonzo verbal captions, followed by a “Chihuly…or Not Chihuly?” segment that showed real Chihuly works and then photos of a giant lava lamp and a portrait of dogs playing poker.

An informative video of Dale’s history was shown, done by Mark McDonnell and Peter West of Chihuly Studio.

“Toasters” took the stage in pairs, led by Jeff & Susan Brotman, who were dressed in bright “Chihuly Colors.” Jeff went to high-school and college with Dale, and told stories of wild times in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house, which he said sometimes resembled “Animal House.” He gave Dale a multi-colored neon scarf that Dale wore the rest of the night.

Sally Bagshaw and Tom Skerritt presented contrasting stories. Bagshaw described how the “Seattle Process” had handled Chihuly’s proposal to build a “Garden and Glass” exhibit at Seattle Center. Skerritt described how he and Dale went to the movies together and ended up with melting handfuls of Milk Duds, which Dale blew like glass. (Dale said later that Skerritt made it all up.)

Allen Shoup, founder of Chateau Ste. Michelle, wore a “Team Chihuly” hat during his remarks. Jim Bianco, president of Cell Therapeutics, wore a vibrantly colored T-shirt under his jacket.

Mimi Gates, former director of the Seattle Art Museum, said: “People throng to museums to see Dale Chihuly glass, filled with joy and awe.” She added: “Your artistic creativity is marvelous and adds immensely to the prestige of the Pacific Northwest.”

Patti Payne, a longtime friend of Dale and Leslie’s, paid tribute to them in a song: “The Way You Look Tonight.” Using a handheld microphone, she walked down to their front-row table and sang directly to Dale, who stood up for a kiss on the forehead. The crowd loved it.

Door prizes included five fabulous items. Winners’ names were drawn by Travis Johnson of Hilltop Artists. Lucky winners were Tara Ashton, Jane & David Davis, Robert Simon, Scott Shapiro and Virginia Larsen. They won, respectively, a “Bonfire Baskets” piece made by Chihuly; a Fremont Studios movie night for 30 people; two Alaska Airlines unrestricted round-trip tickets; dinner for eight at Kaspar’s with wines, and an overnight “Hot Glass” package at Hotel Murano in Tacoma, which includes a glass-blowing lesson.

The evening concluded with a tribute to Dale from Leslie, which featured a series of slides showing them together, often with their son Jackson. Leslie also brought their dog, Kobe, onstage along with a statue of a bulldog, Dale’s favorite breed.

Dale stood for some gracious closing remarks, inviting all dinner attendees to the opening of the new Garden and Glass exhibit in April. Slides of the current site were shown along with an artist’s rendition of the final exhibit.

When the program was over, VIP guests gathered for an After Party back in Studio B with sparkling champagne from Chateau Ste. Michelle and delicious chocolates donated by Theo Chocolate. Many people, including the Chihulys, lingered until almost midnight. A good time was had by all!

Visit the photo album from Team Photogenic

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The News Council Elects New Officers, Restructures Board, Wins Gates Grant

WNC Elects New Officers, Restructures Board, Wins Gates Grant

The Washington News Council (www.wanewscouncil.org) has elected five new officers to serve on its Board of Directors for 2010:

Chair: Suzie Burke, President of Fremont Dock Company

President: John Hamer, former Executive Director of WNC

Vice President: Martin Neeb, KPLU General Manager Emeritus

Treasurer: Olivia Lippens, President of Clear Channel Outdoor

Secretary: Shannon Frew, Communications Director, Commercial Aviation Services, Commercial Airplanes, The Boeing Company

These officers will constitute an Executive Committee of the WNC’s Board of Directors and oversee strategy, development and governance.

In addition, a WNC Hearings Council, made up of current Board Members and Board Members Emeritus, will review complaints and convene when complaint hearings become necessary.

Hearings Council Chair: Karen Seinfeld, Former Presiding Chief Judge, Washington State Court of Appeals (re-elected to current position)

All members of the Board of Directors and the Hearings Council are eligible to serve on committees, including Complaints, Development, Education, Nominating, Publicity or any other ad hoc committees.

The WNC recently was awarded a $100,000 challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, after matching it with $100,000 in donations from other donors. (See below for details.)

The WNC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

CONTACT: John Hamer, jhamer@wanewscouncil.org , 206.262.9793

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2009 GRIDIRON WEST DINNER A SMASHING SUCCESS!

Rave reviews are still coming in for the Washington News Council’s 11th Annual Gridiron West Dinner, which was held Saturday night, Sept. 12, at Fremont Studios. Many attendees said it was the best event they’ve been to in years.

CLICK HERE TO READ COMMENTS & KUDOS

Our “toast/roast” of Suzie Burke, president of the WNC’s board of directors and owner of Fremont Dock Company, was a fun-filled evening of song, comedy, costumes, and funny but affectionate tributes to our “toastee.”

NOTE: The event was filmed by TVW. See www.tvw.org for broadcast schedule. (First showing: Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 10:30 pm on Channel 23).

Special thanks to all of this year’s table sponsors, including:
“Center of the Universe” Level — Boeing, Sharon Gantz Bloome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kemper Development Company, U-Park System.
“Fremont Bridge Level” — Brown Bear Car Wash, Fremont Dock Company, Horvitz Foundation, Microsoft, Pacific Futures Trading Co., PEMCO, Charles Simonyi Fund.
“Waiting for the Interurban” Level — Dollar Development, Gorton Legacy Group, Lynden, Inc., Premera, Puget Sound Energy, Rowley Properties.
“Fremont Troll” Level — ABC Enterprises, Berntson Porter, Discovery Institute, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Tugboat Company, Fremont Rotary, Holy Names Academy, Northwest Seattle Industrial Association, Alan and Nancy Sclater, Seattle University, Wallace Properties, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, Wells Fargo Bank, Women of Washington.

Thanks, too, to all those who bought individual tickets for themselves, friends and colleagues, and helped fill tables.

Mike Egan, Master of Ceremonies, began the evening by welcoming guests. Father Peter Ely, Vice President of Seattle University, gave a moving invocation. Sue Nixon, a well-known Seattle jazz singer, sang the national anthem beautifully.

WNC Executive Director John Hamer and Acting Treasurer David Schaefer recognized past Gridiron West Dinner honorees who were there (Mike Lowry, Slade Gorton and Kemper Freeman Jr.), thanked table sponsors and introduced a video explaining the News Council’s mission.

After a delicious dinner catered by Kaspar’s with wine from Columbia Winery, Honorary Chair Kemper Freeman Jr. (last year’s “toastee”) welcomed the crowd and listed some colorful words that have been used to describe Suzie. He was followed by a personal video done by Ken Jones that chronicled Suzie Burke’s family history.

The Cabaret Productions Singers, arranged by Jim Anderson and David Koch, sang a medley of songs including “Suzie B” and “Shake Up, Little Suzie,” followed by the Washington News Council “Glee Club” (i.e., board of directors), who sang “If You Knew Suzie, Like We Know Suzie, Oh, Oh, Oh, What a Gal!” Other songs by the Cabaret Productions Singers included “Fremont, Fremont” (to the tune of “New York, New York”), “Me and My Landlord Suzie” (to the tune of “Me and Bobby McGee”), and “The Lady is a Champ” (to the tune of “The Lady is a Tramp”). CLICK HERE FOR LYRICS .

Emcee Mike Egan, dressed in a Russian Army officer’s uniform, did a side-splitting slide show “revealing” that Suzie Burke was actually a KGB agent who had been assigned by the Kremlin to spy on Seattle by posing undercover as a Republican in Fremont! Later in the program, Egan appeared as a Fremont “nude bicyclist” and rode around the stage to uproarious laughter from the crowd.

“Toasters” of Suzie included Rob McKenna, Washington State Attorney General, and Tom Carr, Seattle City Attorney, followed by Stan Emert, Symetra Community Affairs Director, and Liz Swift, Principal of Holy Names Academy.

Seattle comedian Pat Cashman “toasted” Suzie before conducting a mini-auction of 5 items. Cashman’s routine was hilarious, highlighted by a surprise demonstration of his electric nose-hair trimmer.

Reagan Dunn, King County Councilman, brought the house down with his line: “What do Sarah Palin and Suzie Burke have in common? They can both see Communists from their front yards.”

Table centerpieces were wooden replicas of the famous “Fremont Guidepost,” made by Westlake Woodworks.

Raffle prizes went to those who bought Suzie Burke “Bobbleheads” as raffle tickets, with the winners drawn by Kurt and Amina Kapasuzoglu, two of Suzie’s grandchildren.

Suzie’s three children — Gwen Kapasuzoglu, Mike Osterfeld and Kirby Lindsay — “toasted” their mother with affectionate stories and anecdotes. They were joined onstage by spouses and other family members.

Suzie’s final “response” to her toasters was funny and feisty — no surprise to those who know and love her. A video of Eddie Cantor singing “If You Knew Suzie” ended the evening’s program.

An After Party in The Village at Fremont Studios featured champagne and delicious chocolates donated by Theo’s Chocolates. An open mic was provided for friends to offer more “toasts” to Suzie. Festivities went on until midnight.

Special thanks to Mike Egan of Microsoft, Jim Anderson of Cabaret Productions, and Scott Jonas of Fremont Studios for making this event such a big success. And to Monica Tracey, event planner, and Kathy Schrier, WNC executive assistant, for making the event possible.

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WNC’s Gridiron West Dinners Held in Seattle & Spokane

SPECIAL OFFER: “Bobbleheads” of Slade Gorton & Tom Foley, which were sold at this year’s dinners, are still available: Join the Washington News Council at the $50 level, and get your choice of either. Join at the $100 level or above, and get one of each. Join “100 Friends of the WNC” and get SIGNED versions of both Bobbleheads. Call 206.262.9793 to join or use the “Click&Pledge” box at the top of this page.

Tom Foley & Slade Gorton “Toasted” at Gridiron West Dinners in Seattle and Spokane; Foley ill but said, “Go ahead and roast me!”

The Washington News Council honored former House Speaker Tom Foley and former Senator Slade Gorton at TWO gala Gridiron West Dinners this year. A total of nearly 500 people attended the two events, which are getting rave reviews from those who were at one or both dinners.

The Seattle dinner was held on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. (It will be broadcast on TVW on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. and repeated subsequently. See www.tvw.org for viewing schedule.) The Spokane dinner was held on Saturday, Nov. 11 at The Davenport Hotel. The WNC’s annual events are billed as “toasts,” but some call them “roasts.”

Slade Gorton and his wife Sally attended both events. However, Tom Foley was honored “in absentia” because he was recently diagnosed with a heart problem and was unable to travel. Foley sent a letter expressing his regrets, and the full text was read aloud in Seattle by Honorary Dinner Co-Chair Bill Gates Sr. and in Spokane by Honorary Dinner Co-Chair Jennifer Dunn.

After receiving the letter on Nov. 1, the WNC decided to turn the “toast” of Foley into a “Get Well” tribute. A life-sized photograph of Foley was onstage next to Gorton at both events. All guests were invited to sign an oversized “Get Well, Tom” poster card that will be delivered to him soon. Foley sent “responses” to his toasters that were read aloud. Both dinners were videotaped and copies will be sent to Foley.

The WNC’s annual Gridiron West Dinner has become one of the most popular events of the fall. Always held in the week after Election Day, it is a bipartisan gala with songs, comedy, video tributes and affectionate “toasts” by and of prominent political, business, civic and media figures.

“Toasters” in each city took the stage in pairs to aim their remarks at the two honorees.

“Toasting” Foley in Seattle:

Phyllis Campbell & George Nethercutt, Norm Dicks & Jack Lein

“Toasting” Gorton in Seattle:

Jim Ellis & John Ellis (with Patti Payne), Mike McGavick & Rob McKenna

“Toasting” Foley in Spokane:

Father Bernard Couglin & Janet Gilpatrick, Jack Geraghty & George Nethercutt

“Toasting” Gorton in Spokane:

Jennifer Dunn & Mike McGavick, Jim McDevitt & Cathy McMorris

Table sponsors (in one or both cities) included: Avista, Boeing, Microsoft, Gates Foundation, King County Journal, PEMCO, Preston Gates Ellis, Puget Sound Energy, Premera Blue Cross, Paine Hamblen, The Gallatin Group, Fremont Dock Company, Gonzaga University, Building Industry Association of Washington, Frank Russell Company, Lynden Company, KPLU-FM, TVW, Seattle Mariners and the Gorton Legacy Group.

Mike Egan, Master of Ceremonies at the last several Gridiron West Dinners, emceed at both events and presented his hilarious “slide show” of Foley and Gorton photographs (starting with their baby pictures). A moving video tribute to the two honorees (including old home movies) was once again produced for the events by Ken Jones and Larry Cali.

Exclusive to both 2006 Gridiron West Dinners were fabulous “Bobbleheads” of Foley and Gorton. These were the table centerpieces and many were auctioned off at the two events. However, some are still available for purchase (see caption above for details). The Bobbleheads are limited-edition collectors’ items, designed by David Horsey, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, exclusively for this year’s WNC Gridiron West Dinners. (Special thanks to David for designing them and to the Seattle Mariners for underwriting the costs.)

Music and songs (this year’s song parodies were from “West Side Story”) were provided by Cabaret Productions, under the leadership of Jim Anderson. And the Washington News Council’s Board Members sang their traditional group song — always a highlight of the evening! (Sample lyrics: “There’s a case for us, somewhere a case for us….”)

Incredible travel packages donated by Noble House Hotels were raffled off at the dinners.

They included multi-night stays (plus airfare) at the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, California; and the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego, California; also, overnight stays at the Edgewater Hotel on Seattle’s waterfront and the new Hotel Deca in Seattle’s University District.

Both evenings ended with a song by the Cabaret Productions singers to the tune of “America”:

“I like to be in America,

OK by me in America,

Our press is free in America,

And that’s the key to America!”

Previous Gridiron West events have honored:

2005 – Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates

2004 – Jennifer Dunn and Gary Locke

2003 – Jim Ellis and John Ellis

2002 – Al Rosellini, Dan Evans, John Spellman, Booth Gardner and Mike Lowry

2001 – Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen and Susan Hutchison

2000 – Emmett Watson

1999 – Adele Ferguson, Dick Larsen, Mike Layton and Shelby Scates

If you missed previous Gridiron West Dinners, you don’t want to miss this year’s, when we will “toast” Bill and Jill Ruckelshaus on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. SAVE THE DATE!

To guarantee two seats, join “100 Friends of the WNC” (see Click&Pledge box above).

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WNC “toasts” Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates at 7th Gridiron West Dinner!

The Washington News Council “toasted” Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates at our 7th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

More than 600 people attended this fun-filled gala evening of comedy, song, gentle “toasts” and affectionate tributes. Mike Egan of Microsoft emceed again this year, with music by Cabaret Productions.

“Toasters” included Susan Brotman, Peter Donnelly, Jim Ellis, Dan Evans, and the Gates siblings: Bill Gates, Kristi Blake and Libby Armintrout.

Bill Gates Sr. was an original member of the WNC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation generously helped fund the council during its first six years. Mimi Gardner Gates is the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director of the Seattle Art Museum.

The Honorary Host Committee for the event included: Libby & Doug Armintrout, Kristi & John Blake, Jeff & Susan Brotman, Jane & David Davis, Peter Donnelly, Jim Ellis, Dan & Nancy Evans, Bill & Melinda Gates, Bill & Ruth Gerberding, Gerry & Lyn Grinstein, Andy & Susan Hutchison, Janet Ketcham, Kerry & Linda Killinger, Joe & Susan Knight, Bill & Sally Neukom, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Herman & Faye Sarkowsky, Stan & Ingrid Savage, Jon & Mary Shirley, Patty Stonesifer & Michael Kinsley, and Bagley & Virginia Wright.

Table hosts for the event were:

Philanthropic ($7,500) Level — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, King County Journal, Microsoft, Bill & Sally Neukom, Symetra Financial, Washington Mutual, Virginia Wright & Ann Wyckoff.

Artistic ($5,000) Level — Boeing, Costco, Jane & David Davis, Bruce & Jolene McCaw, PEMCO, Hunter Simpson, University of Washington.

Cultural ($3,500) Level — The Gallatin Group, “Just the Neighbors,” Premera Blue Cross, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Weyerhaeuser.

Civic ($1,500 Level) — ArtsFund, Dr. Richard & Edwina Baxter, Chris & Cynthia Bayley, The Benaroya Company, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Fremont Dock Company, Gorton Legacy Group, The Keller Group, Grant Larsen, Lynden, Inc., Noble House Hotels, Port of Seattle, Preston Gates & Ellis, Rockey Hill & Knowlton, Herman & Faye Sarkowsky, Seattle Parks Foundation, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stephen Silha, Jim & Fawn Spady, Technology Alliance, TVW, U.W. Law School, Robert & Betty Utter, Vulcan, Washington State Farm Bureau, YWCA.

The following companies and individuals provided special help or in-kind services: Alaska Airlines, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Larry Cali & Ken Jones, David Horsey, Microsoft, Noble House Hotels, Preston Gates & Ellis, and Symetra Financial.

Jonathan Borofsky, the artist who created the “Hammering Man” statue in front of the Seattle Art Museum, generously approved the manufacture of 70 limited-edition miniatures of “Hammering Man” to use as centerpieces. All were sold either before or during the event, nearly half at the guaranteed bid price of $500 each.

“This was our most successful event ever,” said WNC Executive Director John Hamer. “Now the only question is: Who should we ‘toast’ next year? Suggestions welcome!”

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WNC Adds 11 New Voting Board Members

The 24-member Washington News Council has added 11 new voting board members to replace members who stepped down at the end of their second 3-year terms, or for other reasons. The new Council members were welcomed and officially voted on board at the WNC’s Annual Meeting on Feb. 5. Click HERE for media images. Click HERE for all WNC board members’ biographies. The new members are:

MEDIA MEMBERS

George Cole – Development Officer, Central Washington University, Ellensburg (formerly with Montana Public Television, Spokane Public Radio, KREM-TV)

John Knowlton – Journalism Professor, Green River Community College (President-elect, Pacific Northwest Association of Journalism Educators)

Erik Lacitis – Staff Writer, The Seattle Times

Clayton Park – Business Editor, King County Journal (former editor and reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Sun, The Seattle Times)

David Schaefer – Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Port of Seattle (former Seattle Times reporter and editor, former press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott)

PUBLIC MEMBERS

Everett Billingslea – Vice President, Administration & Legal Affairs, Lynden Inc. (former General Counsel to Gov. Gary Locke; former Bogle & Gates attorney)

Steve Boyer – Senior Vice President, Rockey Hill & Knowlton (former director of communications, Services Group of America; former Sr. VP, The Fearey Group)
Stan Emert – Director of Community Relations, Symetra Financial (also boys basketball coach, Lakeside School; host/producer, KWPX public affairs TV show)

Paula Selis – Senior Counsel, Consumer Protection Division, High Tech Unit, Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Fawn Spady – Co-owner, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants (co-founder, Education Excellence Coalition; founder, Creative Empowerment Inc., a consulting firm)

Cindy Zehnder – President, TVW (former chief clerk, WA State House of Representatives; former deputy commissioner, WA State Employment Security Department)

The WNC also elected a slate of officers for 2005:

President – Cyrus Krohn, Executive Producer, MSN Video

Vice President – Steve Silha, Writer and Communications Consultant

Secretary – Sandy Schoolfield, Community Volunteer

Treasurer – Suzie Burke, President, Fremont Dock Company

“We are very pleased to be adding so many excellent new members to the News Council,” said WNC President Cyrus Krohn. “And we were delighted to have so many terrific people apply.” The new members were selected from nearly two dozen applicants in an open, statewide competitive process.

The WNC’s board members oversee the organization’s operations and finances. They also consider complaints against the news media and vote on the validity of these complaints in formal WNC hearings. These are voluntary, unpaid positions with 3-year terms.

Ken Bunting, Executive Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was a guest speaker at the WNC’s annual meeting. He discussed the P-I’s efforts to maintain public trust and credibility with readers, the changing news media market, and the vital need for fair, accurate, balanced and comprehensive news coverage. To read Ken Bunting’s remarks, click HERE.

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WNC’s 5th Annual Gridiron Dinner “toasts” Jim Ellis and John Ellis

The Washington News Council “toasted” Jim Ellis and John Ellis at our 5th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on Friday, Nov. 7, 2003, in the Skybridge at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Nearly 400 people attended the gala event to honor the Ellis brothers, who have been civic leaders in the Puget Sound region for decades.

The event was a fun-filled evening of comedy, song parodies and affectionate toasts. This year’s “toasters” were (for Jim) Charley Bingham, Slade Gorton, Ken Hatch, Sally Jewell, Gerry Johnson, and Phyllis Lamphere and (for John) Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers and Patti Payne.

In response to their “toasters,” Jim and John and Patti Payne teamed up for a surprise musical song-and-dance routine. The audience was delighted by seeing Jim and Patti singing and dancing, accompanied by John on the piano. The evening also featured comedy by Master of Ceremonies Mike Egan, and Frank Sinatra song parodies sung by David Koch and David Scully of Cabaret Productions, with Scott Warrender on the piano. A video tribute done by Larry Cali and Ken Jones was another highlight.

News Council Chairman Bob Utter and Past President Eddie Reed welcomed the crowd. WNC Treasurer Carver Gayton and Executive Director John Hamer thanked table sponsors. For the fifth year in a row, members of the Washington News Council took the stage to sing a song: “High Hopes.”

Guests were encouraged to fill out membership envelopes and two were drawn at the end of the evening for prizes: 1) lunch for 10 with Jim Ellis at the Convention Center and 2) dinner for 4 with John Ellis in the owner’s suite at Safeco Field during a Mariners’ game next season. The two prizes were won by Bob Carlile of KPMG and Jim Warjone of Port Blakely Tree Farms. The winning envelopes were drawn by Kerri and Daniel Ellis, John’s grandchildren.

Table sponsors at the “Visionaries” ($5,000) level were: Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, King County Journal, Seattle Mariners, and PEMCO. Tables sponsors at the “Movers” ($2,500) level were: The Gallatin Group, Premera Blue Cross, Preston Gates & Ellis, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Washington State Convention & Trade Center, and Weyerhaeuser. Table sponsors at the “Shakers” ($1,000) level were Dr. Richard Baxter, The Benaroya Company, Carolyn Duncan, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Fremont Dock Company, Gorton Legacy Group, Merriman Capital Management, Barry Mitzman, Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, Chuck Nordhoff, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Patti Payne, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Wes Uhlman & Associates, Robert Utter, William Van Valkenberg, and the Washington Farm Bureau.

Chateau Ste. Michelle provided wines and Creative Ice Sculptures did the spectacular centerpieces, which featured a Seattle Mariners baseball and an evergreen branch inside each ice globe. One lucky person at each table won the ice globe and got to take it home.

The King County Journal provided reprints of a front-page article on the Ellis brothers that ran on Sunday, Nov. 2. David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did the drawing that appeared on the invitations and the programs, and presented framed copies to Jim and John at the end of the evening.

Jim Ellis is founding partner of Preston Gates and Ellis, founder of Metro and the Lake Washington clean-up campaign, father of the Forward Thrust public-works program, chairman of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, and past president of the state Convention and Trade Center. He is also a Founding Board member of the Washington News Council.

John Ellis is chairman emeritus and a member of the board of directors of the Seattle Mariners, former top executive of what is now Puget Sound Energy, a partner in the Seattle-based law firm of Perkins Coie, and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations, including Seattle University.

The Honorary Advisory Committee for the event included: Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Dan Evans, Bob Flennaugh, Bill Gates Sr., Slade Gorton, Peter Horvitz, Sally Jewell, Phyllis Lamphere, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers, Patti Payne, Norm Rice, Charles Royer, Bill Ruckelshaus, Frank Shrontz, and John Spellman.

Videotapes of the event are available. Call our office for details.

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