BLOG: What a July it’s been

Kip Tokuda

Remembering Kippy

Remembering Kip Tokuda, two special moments will always carry with me, one light and the other serious. The former state representative passed away last Saturday while fishing on Whidbey Island.  

Did Kip and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke look alike?

Apparently someone thought so. More bizarre was that someone also thought he was Locke and Rep. Sharon T. Santos was Mona.

A visitor in Olympia saw Kip talking with Santos in the Capitol’s parking lot, and mistakenly identified them as the former governor Gary and his wife Mona. The governor’s mansion is next to the Capitol’s legislative building.

“Mona and Gary” the visitor said repeatedly. He was elated that he had found the former first couple.

Tokuda got a kick out of it and shared the story when he received the Rising Sun Award from the Emperor of Japan, one of the most prestigious awards given by the Japanese government.

Tokuda clearly had fun that someone thought he was Gary Locke. I could never forget his hearty laughs and big smile while telling the story.

The other moment was in July of 2001.

Over 30 high school students attending the Asian Weekly Foundation’s Summer Youth Leadership Program (SYLP) were racially profiled by a Seattle policeman. They were stopped, lined up against a wall, and frisked for allegedly jaywalking in the International District. The police officer held them for over half an hour.

The community was outraged. Within days, the community called a press conference and selected Tokuda as one of the spokesmen. He called the police treatment of the students similar to Japanese Americans’ internment. At a meeting later with city officials, he said, “An affront against these students, quite frankly, … (is) an affront to the entire community.”

You could tell by the look on his face that Tokuda was speaking with pain and conviction. I suppose he understood what it meant to go through a traumatic event like the kids did.

He also sent a letter to then Mayor Paul Schell that said that the event reminded him of the way his relatives were herded up at the start of World War II.

Thank you Kip for fighting for us and for all people of color.

Crazy July

If there were a time of the year I called impossible, it would be the first two weeks of July. In addition to publishing two weekly newspapers, the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s 19th annual Summer Youth Leadership Program (SYLP) began on June 24 at the Asian Resource Center.

But as if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, the Chinatown–International District Business Improvement Association asked the Asian Weekly to print this year’s Dragon Fest event guide. We did it as a way to give back to the community.

The Asian Weekly had a booth at the Dragon Fest for the weekend too, but we didn’t use it to rest. We covered the event, and one of our staff members was recruited last minute to be a judge for the Sakura Con cosplay contest.

Man, those two weeks I worked 14 days without a break. But I am not complaining — I am actually grateful.

I’d rather have news to write about than sit down at my desk, haunted by an empty calendar with nothing happening in the community. That would spell trouble for us.

A newspaper cannot invent news. We count on you readers and the community to give us news.

An Indian art vendor at Dragon Fest (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Learning from Dragon Fest merchants

If a vendor’s motive is only about making money, then they might as well not come to the event.

The owner of Japanese Maples from Auburn said she didn’t make as much money as she did last year, but she felt that Dragon Fest was a fun way to meet people and that she wanted to come back next year.

Vendors who did well at the event thought hard about what visitors wanted. They priced themselves correctly and created beautiful storefronts from their booths. People going to street fairs and flea markets are not interested in luxurious items; they want bargains and deals.

Food is always appealing. New An Dong sold over 350 pounds of Rainier cherries at $1.99 per pound, and A Piece of Cake doubled their business at the Fest.

The Asian Weekly, like many other informational booths, had nothing to sell. I actually spent $120 to buy lunches for volunteers that managed our booth, but it’s important to have outsiders come to the Fest so they could see a part of the community they had never seen before.

Arts and crafts were not an easy sell. Gifts for kids attracted the most attention. The Indian Art booth was a nice example with colorful display of merchandise and products for all ages. Every time I walked by, the booth was packed with people.

Greedy folks get caught

McDonald’s booth at the Dragon Fest often had lines of families and kids waiting. In two days, they handed out over 5,000 colorful bags. Some greedy folks went back for seconds and thirds last year. The worst thing was that, they bragged about how smart they were by cheating. But this year, not so fast!

Security guards with remarkable memory caught guests coming back for seconds saying, “You were here before.”

From left: Shiao-Yen Wu, Walter Liang, Albert Shen, wife Nancy, and his parents and nephew. (Photo by Rebecca Ip/NWAW)

Good news for Albert Shen   

Over the past two weeks, Albert Shen, candidate for Seattle City Council, has made some gains.

The Seattle Times endorsed him on July 15. Recently, Republicans and Democrats showed up at his fundraising party at the House of Hong. CASA, a group belonging to the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, is backing Shen.

From left: Andy Chin, State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Trudi Inslee, Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Exec. Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Jane Hague, Tan Tho Tien, and Mei Jui Lin at the Chong Wah dinner. (Photo by Rebecca Ip/NWAW)

A confused Gov. Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee came to the Chong Wah Benevolent Association dinner on July 9 at the House of Hong Restaurant. Although he only stayed for one hour, the 300 guests were happy that he finally showed up after months of delay due to the legislature being in session.

My staff that was present reported that Inslee was nice to the Asian Weekly.

He mentioned that at the Asian Weekly’s 30th anniversary dinner, he met a little girl named Lena Hou who performed the national anthem beautifully. He liked it so much he invited her to sing at his inauguration ceremony.

But whoa there, governor, you confused one of our dinners for another! You were a gubernatorial candidate at the Weekly’s 30th anniversary dinner at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel in October; that is correct. But the group who performed the national anthem was the Filipino choir. Hou performed at Weekly’s Top Contributors dinner in December.

I don’t blame you for not connecting the two events correctly, though. At the first event, there was tension.

Your opponent was sitting at the other end of the head table. You were a gubernatorial candidate then. A million things must have been going through your mind. You couldn’t concentrate as much.

In the December event, you were the winner, governor-elect. It’s a world of difference on your state of mind. You were relaxed and engaged in the moment.

Governor, thanks for attending two of our events despite your busy schedule last year. It means a lot to little papers like us. (end)

To read the publisher’s blog in Chinese, visit

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