Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Leaving Town

(picture taken at the Iowa Straw Poll


Pam Report Article In Courier Herald

As you know I write all of my own articles. This one was requested by the paper.

OLYMPIA REPORT: State shortfall at $2.2 billion
November 28, 2011

By Sen. Pam Roach
For The Courier-Herald

Monday morning the special legislative session got under way. As expected, the capitol grounds were filled with protesters anticipating severe budget cuts and program eliminations.

Job losses and reduction of services will occur even though the state’s revenues are up $200 million dollars from the 2009-11 budget. The reason for this is not just inflation and increased population. The largest factor is that we will not, again, have $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to artificially pump up our revenue. Consequently, we have a $2.2 billion dollar shortfall from the previous spending level.

Statewide, this will mean another round of job losses. We have not hit bottom yet. I have been urging reforms at Child Protective Services which will allow for better service and cut spending at the same time. Here at home your legislative delegation has been working together to save operations at Rainier School.

Working with citizens, parents, and leaders, I have prepared “Rainier School: A Report to the Legislature.” This report has been distributed to legislators and makes the case that Rainier School is a positive choice for care and that it has a future, nationally, to be a premier example of community involved care for individuals with disabilities. The report may be viewed online at:

Economic recovery and oil independence Job creation and expansion of foreign trade are the most important elements of economic recovery. I have been working hard on both.

Washington state has a huge oil refinery at Anacortes. We receive more than twice as much Canadian crude oil as does any other state. And that crude comes from the oil sands of Alberta.

This month I travelled to Ft. McMurry, Alberta, to study oil sands and take part in the national debate we are having over the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. (No taxpayer dollars are spent on my trips. I was invited by Alberta’s government to join nine other legislators from around the United States.)

Canada has the world’s third largest oil reserve. They are increasing crude production and because our federal government will not allow us to receive more, the oil is going to China. As a matter of national security, energy independence, and just keeping gas prices down, we need to move forward. Instead, the Obama administration has blocked the pipeline project. Thousands of new high-paying jobs have been ignored and our friends in the north are left wondering what in the world the American people are thinking!

I have been asked to make a national presentation on the issue. And, if you want to see some oil sand, just drop by the office.

We live in the most trade dependent state in the country. Trade means jobs. That is the point of my article printed in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s December publication. I hope to spur local efforts to seek a larger market for goods. Please see my legislative website or my personal blog,, for the article.

Through the years I have been involved in humanitarian efforts in Honduras and last week I returned from a visit that focused on a trade mission I hope to lead. On this trip I toured a major port, met with elected officials and toured a factory in preparation for leading business people there next year. (Please see my personal blog for more information.)

But this trip was unique in other ways. As our vehicle arrived in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, I saw, for the first time, the new “Clinica Medica Pam Roach.” I am deeply humbled by this. This and other efforts are helping many. Thank you to all the good people here who have helped. I love Americans. We are a very generous people.

I always want to express thank you to the voters who have elected me to represent our district in Olympia. This will be a tough year. My door is always open. My staff knows that each and every one of you is special and we will do our best to serve. You may call me on my home phone, 253-735-4210, or the Olympia office on 360-786-7660 now that we are in session.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Q13 TV Pam Roach Comments On Special Session

Please see video on the Q 13 link. Here is the written text:
State Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn)

C.R. Douglas
Q13 Fox News political analyst

4:21 p.m. PST, November 29, 2011
When Gov. Christine Gregoire called a special 30-day session of the Legislature, she gave the lawmakers a blueprint for tackling the state's budget problems.

Indeed, she called them back to town specifically to deal with the latest financial shortfall, not extraneous issues, before the regular legislative session starts in January, when they will have all the other business of the state to worry about.

Thirty days seemed like ample time. Lawmakers were going to cut what needed to be cut and vote on the governor's sales tax increase or some other revenue source. But now it appears that none of that may actually happen.

The Senate’s chief budget writer, for one, is skeptical that legislators will finish the job.

“I don' think it's possible to write a complete budget, make the cuts we have to make, negotiate with the House and get votes for a revenue package before the holidays,” Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said.

This attitude is a surprise to many people in Olympia. There was a pretty clear expectation that this session was going to get things done.

One Republican state senator feels this could become a big waste of time.

"If the governor is going to call a special session, that plan should be worked out with her prior to convening so that this is the least expensive and less painful way to make things happen,” Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said. "And that didn't happen this special session.”

So it does seem unlikely that the budget will get done, but Murray said that doesn't mean they aren't going to make progress.

He said the more work legislators do now, the quicker they can reach an agreement early next year. But it was clear Tuesday night: From what legislators are saying, no deal is expected in Olympia before they adjourn in 28 more days.


High Point In Honduras

under construction

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

San Pedro Sula, A Factory, And Growing Fears

I left the coast and all the kids at the orphanage and went to San Pedro Sula to visit good friends and a factory.

I began to become very aware of the growing dangers in Honduras. Since part of my trip has been to prepare for a trade mission I have not wanted to write too much about the fears here. But, I must. People I love here are living in fear. (I will write without using names or identifying information as I can.)

This is a factory owned by a family that built the business from the ground up. The owner's wife gave me a beautiful tray that she had hand made. She stays at home except for her bodyguard driven trips to work each day. So she has time for hobbies.

When I arrived at the factory there were the ubiquitous armed guards at the gate. My friend had been shot in her home. She survived so now has guards at her home...which is in a gated neighborhood with an armed guard at the entrance. The last time I visited the gate guard had not yet been hired. Everyone in the neighborhood fears that their cars will be stopped and their children taken for ransom.

From the house next door, I have taken a picture from my downstairs bedroom window. Bars are on all the windows. Outside you can see the razor wire on the fence. There is an electronic gate in front of the house. You do not get out of the car until you are within the gate.

I have kept up on Honduras politics. So, it was exciting while driving in San Pedro Sula to notice the lone helicopter in the air. President Pepe Lobo was in town. I lost the great pic of the helicopter but have it somewhere. The helicopter landed in a field and a long third world motorcade complete with 25 year-old ambulance left for a meeting we were told by the guards. Everything went very fast...armed guards...Pepe Lobo was in sight. I will meet him on my next visit. In this picture they are closing the gaate after he left. I was not quick w=with the camera! Sorry.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Making Cookies For 80 Kids

If you are poor in Honduras, cookies are a rare enough thing even if you didn't live in an orphanage.

Today, Bryn and I made enough cookie dough for 1,000 sugar cookies.

I am leaving for San Pedro Sula in the morning so will miss the rolling out of the dough. I predict difficulty. It is so warm here the butter will melt down before the kids can roll them out! But, they will improvise.

I tutored a boy named David this afternoon. He is unusual because he is English speaking. Born with a sever club foot he was helped 100% by the Shriners who paid for operations over a five year period. He was in the states long enough to learn English and was young enough to forget his Spanish. I helped him with his math.

Tonight we took a "lancha" (boat) out across the lagoon. The sunset was amazing.

It was a quick but productive trip to Puerto Cortez, Omoa, and Tegucigalpita. In a later blog I will announce something from this area but I want to get the picture for you first

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pam Roach Visits Port In Puerto Cortez, Dinner With Mayor

It is warm just outside our door but I am actually cold. It turns out that the one thing that does consistently work is the air conditioner!

With a letter from the Honduran Consul in hand, my friends and I set out to tour the second largest port in the Caribbean, Puerto Cortez, Honduras. It's yearly trade volume is just shy of what is turned in Miami!

We ascended three flights of stairs to the superintendent's office where a well used power point helped the CFO present the amazing status and vision of the Honduran ports. The superintendent, a former admiral in the HN navy, was a wonderful host though not as versed in English.

Pam and the port superintendent very proud of new plans

One of many ships in port

My purpose in visiting was to learn more about the economic potential here. I was not disappointed. Near San Lorenzo, in the south, there are new iron ore reserves that are now being shipped to China. (The United States does not make steal any don't feel slighted we are not the buyer.) We learned of the new highways that are planned across the country and the development planned for each of the ports

Later in the day I visited the mayor of Omoa. A TV camera was filming the entire meeting. The mayor used my friend, Oscar, as an interpreter but speaks very good English as I learned over the dinner he hosted. He learned several languages as a waiter on a cruise ship.

The mayor will be taking delivery of a used fire truck from Arkansas later this month. Right now the town has no fire department! Fortunately, the Flamingo Hotel where we are staying is right on the water. Because, we can all take a flying leap into the sea if needed.

Pam and the mayor of Omoa had dinner at the Flamingo with staff.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hotel Flamingo

The Flamingo Hotel is on the edge of the Carribean nestled in a cove where pirates used to hide from the British. For those of you who missed it in high school geography, Belize was once British Honduras. They speak English there and we are just a one hour boat ride away. This area was the centuries old inspiration for Jack Sparrow!

Tonight I hear the locals out on the water. There is a base player somewhere near. The waves lap the shore with regularity.

We have water tonight in the second story rooms which are over the restaurant and bar. We had only trickles the first night so one improvises with bottled water. At the children's village this afternoon, the cooks worked in the dark until the power resumed. Life goes on in this tropical country. But, near the sea it moves slowly.

For this part of my trip I am with a group of five others. I am sharing a room with a young married woman who seems on a last adventure before parentage. So far, I am the only one who knows that.

Tomorrow is a work day. I hope to tour the port, something that was set up for me by the Honduran consul in San Francisco. I met with him a few weeks ago when he was in Federal Way. But, right now, I am on the second story veranda..warm and pleased at the events of the day.

Sunday At "Heart To Heart" Orphanage...Honduras

The kids loved my IPad. At one point there were 13 kids crowded around to watch and play Ninja Fruit Slicer. Everyone got two turns.

All of the children at the WA State based NGO are kids who where once hungry, abused, unwanted, deathly sick or all of the above. They are not unique. There are tens of thousands of these kids. The public schools here are very inadequate and the teachers are constantly on strike. It is impossible to get out of this situation without action on the part of good people like those at HTH.

Tegucigalpita is a village outside of Puerto Cortez. In less than 10 years Heart to Heart, under the leadership of Carson, WA resident Mary Frenter, has built a school and home for 80 of these kids of all ages. Five have significant earning disabilities.

Teachers Gary and Ashley are working here without pay. A retired USAF colonel, Gary now teaches computer science and shop. Ashley teaches the younger kids with help from some locals. They sold their home and most of their possessions and came to HTH to help these kids. They receive only a place to live and meals. And, the satisfaction that they are doing God's will. Successes at HTH are all in the God column.

God has greater sight than government, apparently.

Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America. We share the continent with the people here. They are our neighbors. We draw millions of tons of illegal drugs through this once peaceful democracy. The influx of illegal drugs and money to be made has destabilized the tranquility. Mixing intense poverty, lack of education (hope, really), and benign neglect by the Christian nation from the north has only made a bad situation worse.

Heart to Heart is an example of what Americans can do. There are 2,000 NGOs here. Few have any government grants. The sectarian and religious based non profits here are what offer the little hope that is here. The educated Hondurans are very glad to see us. They can not do it all....and we are not doing enough.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pam Roach Travels To Guatamala-Honduras Boarder

(It's true. In two days I have gone from the freeze in northern Alberta to the heat of Honduras.)

I am here in Puerto Cortez, Honduras visiting Heart to Heart, an NGO that I sometimes help through my own non-profit aimed at helping kids in Honduras.

Two American teachers were running up against their three month stay limit and needed to leave the country in order to come back in and start the three month visa over again.

We hit the road for Belize by way of Guatemala. I have done Central American boarder crossings by motor vehicle before. You get out of your car and take your passport to the check in place. The migration officer stamps your passport. There are many armed officers present. On the way back into Honduras you will have to pay a fee....believe it or not.

In the office where we were taken there was a large poster of a man described as a trafficker of children. He stole children for the sex trade. He moves them across boarders. A two by four foot banner described the trafficking crimes now so prevalent. My Spanish is good enough to have been sickened by this. I can tell you that it would be extremely easy to steal children here. Not only are they taken for sex slaves but also for body parts.

We drove over seven inch diameter rope laid out to slow traffic. A man without legs sat in a wheelchair and I thought how different it was thT a man like this would have a wheelchair as so many do not. I have seen many who move their bodies upon pieces of cardboard using their hands and arms to scoot across the busy roads.

As it turned out, Guatemala was far enough and the teachers did not have to go to Belize. That was a good thing as the weather was stormy today and it would have beebread unsafe to take the 12 ft. Launch to Belize. I always remember the boarder crossings.This is the one that put a face to the crime of trafficking children.

Pam Roach Takes Timely Visit To Canadian Oil Sands

Monday of this week the Obama administration threatened and eventually did decide to delay the decision on the Keystone Pipeline. The Keystone Project has taken more than two and a half times longer than any of the other two lines coming from the Ft. McMurray oil sands.

Reading the news was particularly interesting because I was at Ft McMurray with a small group of legislators from various parts of the country when the announcement was made to delay the decision until after the 2012 election.

Since the United States government has not allowed the construction of any new oil refineries in over 30 years, any oil we buy from Canada's vast supply (third after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela ) has to be refined at existing facilities. Washington State takes more than two times the amount of any other state. But, even Rick Perry knows that any more would be refined on Texas.

All of us were amazed that this should be such a problem for the United States. If we want to be energy independent then we need to recognize the 100 year supply that our neighbor wants to sell to us. It is a national security issue as well. And, the jobs this new pipeline would produce can not go unnoticed in out economy.

We were treated well by the Canadian government. I was honored to sit at the head table by the Speaker of the Parliament. We toured the Capitol building and had a history of the British system delivered to us. On Tuesday we were flown by government plane to see the largest reclamation area in the world...that of the open pit oil sands far north of Alberta's Capitol city of Edmonton.

We also saw the biggest trucks in the world. I will insert a picture soon. We also saw the in situ sites. Oil sands too deep to mine are heated and extracted by heating underground. The oil makes it's way to the surface. That is a very quick description.

I imagine that the U.S. Looks exceptionally foolish in turning down this opportunity. It hasn't been lost on the Chinese. They are buying.

(using the IPad there are too many errors to correct. I can't get to a computer for a few days so please excuse the next few entries.)