Martina Kostow: A Fixture in Napa’s Food Scene

When Martina Kostow moved to Napa Valley in 2010 after leaving CFM Strategic Communications, she thought she would settle into her new home at a slow, comfortable pace. She was wrong.

Well known in West Coast “foodie” circles, Martina soon found herself sought after to work on PR projects. Clients wanted her advice on websites, social media, contests and communications strategy. Others wanted her fresh eyes on their marketing plans.

“My plan for some time off was short-lived,” Martina says. “I had offers to work in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay area in the food and beverage space.” Ultimately, she decided a consulting practice would allow a wide-range of clients (with fewer hours commuting), while still having the ability to work in collaboration with PR firms and like-minded professionals.

Although the trips to the city were welcomed, there was a stronger draw in Napa Valley – the chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood. In 2010 under a Christmas tree, Christopher Kostow popped the question. He and Martina were married in 2011 and since then, life has been very good for the couple.

That same year, Christopher and The Restaurant was awarded three stars from the Michelin Guide, and has retained this rare accolade for the past seven consecutive years. Martina assisted in implementing social media and marketing strategies for The Restaurant and played a growing role in cultivating brand partnerships with her chef husband.

Kostow has received Food & Wine Best New Chef, the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the West and this year was a finalist for the Outstanding Chef of the Year award, presented in Chicago. Kostow hails from Illinois, so “We trained from the city to Highland Park and spent the day walking around and eating in the town he grew up in,” Martina says.

The couple now is working on their dream project – The Charter Oak, a casual, family-style restaurant in downtown St. Helena slated to open early next month. The new restaurant will share the same 2.5-acre culinary garden Christopher started in 2011 in partnership with the St. Helena Montessori School and Farm. The garden will be the primary source of fresh produce for the restaurant, featuring frequently changing and seasonal menus ­ grilled meats, beautiful vegetables, local wines and craft cocktails.

In addition to managing two restaurants and a blossoming culinary career, the Kostows are the proud parents of two energetic girls – Daisy, who is four and takes after her dad, and Lulu, who will turn two in August and is a clone of her mother.

“We have a full and busy life,” Martina says, which requires “24/7 attention and a military operation to keep going.” That said, “It is a life full of love for our family and our work.”

A chef with a growing international reputation is in demand and on the road. Luckily, Martina says, they have been to places you would expect like New York City, as well as places like Abu Dhabi where they spent two weeks attending a major food event – and several hours searching for hidden bars that serve martinis.

Martina led the CFM team that handled PR for Tillamook Cheese. Under her leadership, CFM launched Tillamook’s national Macaroni and Cheese contest, started its social media outreach and oversaw brand expansion efforts, especially to Hispanic consumers, in several Western states. Even though that was just a decade ago, Martina sees lots of changes in PR today.

“The biggest change is the transition to digital media,” she says. “There is less vetting, more reactive content and a focus on edgy headlines that invite clicks.”

To protect the culinary reputation of her husband, Martina carefully vets inquiries to see how a partnership or event can build his brand. She also devotes time dreaming up proactive ideas. “We have to look for opportunities that are worth the time we invest in,” Martina says.

The next time you are in Napa Valley, stop by The Charter Oak, grab a seat in the courtyard lined with mulberry trees or enjoy a spot at the indoor/outdoor bar with great views of the cooks plating food from the black steel hearth. You might just see Martina, Christopher, Daisy and Lulu.

Fiskum Confirmed on the Oregon Government Ethics Commission

Retired CFM co-founder and partner Dave Fiskum was confirmed today by the Oregon Senate for the 9-member Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Fiskum was nominated by Governor Brown. He will take his seat at the next OGEC meeting June 2.

In testimony at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules Committee, Fiskum said, “Ethics is a matter of personal commitment and behavior. It’s who you are and what you do. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

In his 15-year career working for state government, followed by 23 years as a state lobbyist, Fiskum was widely regarded inside and outside the Capitol for his integrity. 

Dave Fiskum, pictured with many of his CFM colleagues, was roasted by friends and colleagues following his retirement. He had to be tricked into attending his own event by the promise of playing a round of golf with his buddies.

Dave Fiskum, pictured with many of his CFM colleagues, was roasted by friends and colleagues following his retirement. He had to be tricked into attending his own event by the promise of playing a round of golf with his buddies.

The OGEC was established in 1974 by a vote of the people in Oregon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal that ultimately forced President Nixon to resign. The Commission enforces laws dealing with state government ethics and executive sessions, as well as oversees lobbyist registration and financial disclosure.

Members of the OGEC may not be registered as a lobbyist. Fiskum retired from an active role in CFM two years ago. He also is registered as an unaffiliated Oregon voter.

Fiskum graduated from Seattle Pacific University, began his career as a reporter for The Daily Astorian and worked in Washington, DC for former Oregon Congressman Les AuCoin. His state work included higher education, corrections, human services and economic development. Fiskum worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations.

As a state lobbyist for CFM clients, Fiskum handled health care, human services and port issues, among others. He also was the firm’s Ways and Means go-to guy.

Fiskum and his wife, Nancy, live in Salem.

Kerry Tymchuk: Oregon’s Living History Master Storyteller

Kerry Tymchuk is more than the usual history buff because he believes artifacts are something people need to hold and experience to understand that history is alive, not dead. Photo Credit: Andrea Lorimor

Kerry Tymchuk is more than the usual history buff because he believes artifacts are something people need to hold and experience to understand that history is alive, not dead.

Photo Credit: Andrea Lorimor

Six years ago, the Oregon Historical Society was in trouble. Money had dried up. Visitors stopped coming. Fair weather friends started referring to it as the Portland Historical Society. Then Kerry Tymchuk showed up.

Unlike his predecessor executive directors who were steeped in professional historical credentials, Tymchuk arrived with a bulging rolodex of Oregonians who knew him because of his role as Oregon staff director for former Senator Gordon Smith. Gregarious and personable, Tymchuk cultivated contacts by being curious about everything and responding to requests with gusto.

One of the cards in his rolodex belonged to Melvin “Pete" Mark, a successful real estate developer and, it turns out, a super collector of historical artifacts. Shortly after Tymchuk was hired at OHS, Mark called to say he was ready to share his collection. “He said he trusted me,” Tymchuk recalls. “The rest is, well, history."

Mark’s personal collection has anchored five blockbuster exhibits at OHS, including the current one titled “High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy” that celebrates the 100th centennial of JFK's birth in 1917. Other exhibits have featured Lincoln memorabilia, opened “Windows of America,” reminded us of the savagery and bravery of World War II and shown us the “Blueprints of Democracy” from the Magna Carta to the US Constitution.

Because of his trust in Kerry Tymchuk, Melvin “Pete” Mark has shared his vast personal collection of historical artifacts through exhibits at the Oregon Historical Society. Photo Credit: Jaime Valdez, Pamplin Media Group

Because of his trust in Kerry Tymchuk, Melvin “Pete” Mark has shared his vast personal collection of historical artifacts through exhibits at the Oregon Historical Society.

Photo Credit: Jaime Valdez, Pamplin Media Group

 The entrance to “High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy,” the current exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society that celebrates JFK’s 100th centennial and displays many artifacts viewed in public for the first time.

 The entrance to “High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy,” the current exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society that celebrates JFK’s 100th centennial and displays many artifacts viewed in public for the first time.

The Oregon Historical Society has become relevant again, and it may never have been as much fun. The current JFK exhibit includes an interactive and eerily timely game that pits the United States against Russia. The exhibit also features the original condolence note JFK wrote to the widow of Medgar Evers, which contained a typo, and  the TV camera that captured Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination.

With pioneer roots, Tymchuk earned his BA degree in speech and history and his law degree from Willamette University. For him, history is not about sterile facts and dates; it is all about stories. To quote his favorite historian David McCullough, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

That’s probably why Tymchuk wants people to “hold history” in their hands. There is something about holding a historical treasure that makes history seem alive, not dead. Of course, when people hold history, they also can drop it, as happened when an admirer accidentally dropped the Portland Penny, which was used in the famous coin flip to decide the city’s name. After frantic searching, the penny was rescued from under a nearby chair. “I haven’t let anyone hold it since,” Tymchuk says.

Tymchuk leveraged his personal and political connections to bail out OHS. Most historical societies are state agencies and receive as much as 70 percent of their funding from public appropriations. OHA is a non-profit that gets barely 10 percent of its funding from the state. The executive director has to hustle. No one is better at it than Tymchuk.

Under his tenure, OHS is now financially stable, helped by Multnomah County voter approval by a 70 percent majority to continue an operating levy. Visitor numbers are up, thanks to a continuing cavalcade of new exhibits, including draws such as Marcus Mariota’s Heisman trophy, the Portland Timbers’ MLS Championship Cup, the Oregon historical roots of comic books and a show-and-tell of Oregon’s connection to rock and roll.

Actor Joe Wiegand is so convincing in his impersonation of Teddy Roosevelt that adults walk away from his performances thinking they actually talked to the former President.

Actor Joe Wiegand is so convincing in his impersonation of Teddy Roosevelt that adults walk away from his performances thinking they actually talked to the former President.

An improved balance sheet has enabled OHS to offer free admission for school tours. It even helps out with school buses for districts that can’t afford to transport kids to OHS. Tymchuk has made sure OHS travels, too. He has forged a partnership with Teddy Roosevelt impersonator Joe Wiegand to spend a week in Oregon eery year  touring the state in the truest form of “living history.” “Joe is so good that adults walk away actually thinking they were talking to Teddy Roosevelt,” Tymchuk says.

A growing reputation has attracted major speakers including Tymchuk idol McCullough and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Expect an announcement soon about another headliner who will appear in connection with the JFK exhibit.

Tymchuk left CFM to become interim executive director at OHS. Tymchuk joined CFM after Smith was defeated for re-election in 2008. Before that, he worked in Washington, DC as a top aide to Senator Bob Dole and an advisor to Elizabeth Dole. He assisted Dole in writing two books about political humor and later co-wrote “One Tough Mother,” the autobiography of Columbia Sportswear’s Gert Boyle, and “No Small Potatoes,” the autobiography of the late Al Reser, founder of Reser’s Foods. He recently assisted former Oregon Senator Mae Yih on her autobiography, “East Meets West.”

Tymchuk is a sought-after emcee, speaker and speechwriter. He also has a great on-air persona and encyclopedic recall of events and names, which accounts for why he was four-time champion on the TV game show “Jeopardy.”

Kerry is more than just a history buff. He has played a leadership role for many years in the Oregon Special Olympics, which he calls his “cause of the heart,”

Smith may have summed up Tymchuk best. “Kerry Tymchuk knows Oregon better than anyone I’ve ever known, its history and culture, its people and politics, its ways and workings. He’s at home among Pendleton wheat farms, coastal fishermen, Roseburg loggers and in Portland boardrooms. He is a friend to all and anywhere I went in the four corners of the state during my 12 years as a senator, Oregonians of all political parties thank me for the service of Kerry Tymchuk."
 

Real-Time Reports That Keep Clients in the Know

CFM’s federal affairs team keeps their clients in the know on significant, relevant issues percolating in the nation’s capital, including a report this week about a pending vote in the US House on the first step in the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

CFM’s federal affairs team keeps their clients in the know on significant, relevant issues percolating in the nation’s capital, including a report this week about a pending vote in the US House on the first step in the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

CFM’s federal affairs team keeps its clients informed about what’s happening in the nation’s capital, especially game-changing issues such as the Republican effort to carry through with political promises and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

CFM Federal Affairs Manager Kirby Garrett provided a detailed alert to clients on activity leading up to a scheduled floor vote Thursday in the US House. He also provided a clear explanation of the narrow procedural lane Republicans must navigate under the Budget Reconciliation Act that limits issues to ones that cost money or are construed as a tax. Republicans are following this course to avoid a filibuster by Senate Democrats.

Garrett, a former senior aide to Oregon Congressman Greg Walden who helped write the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), describes the tenuous political situation for the legislation. The conservative Freedom Caucus in the House claims it has 27 votes against the bill, which would sink it assuming that all House Democrats vote against the Obamacare repeal measure. Freedom Caucus members say they won’t vote for a bill that doesn’t cut individual health insurance premiums. The Congressional Budget Office said the AHCA would result in higher premiums for the first two years before seeing premiums recede.

President Trump has summoned wavering House Republicans to the White House and, in coordination with House Speaker Paul Ryan, has agreed to some floor amendments, including one to boost the tax credits for older Americans in the 50-64 age group. However,  it’s yet to be seen whether the concessions will be enough to assuage concerns, Garrett says, from conservatives, some GOP moderates and many Republican governors who worry about the bill’s impact on their state Medicaid programs.

In the update to clients, Garrett outlined what has come to be known as the three-bucket approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare. Assuming the AHCA makes it through Congress – bucket one, the second bucket would involve administrative action "to deregulate the marketplace, lower costs and stabilize the market.” Bucket three, Garrett explains, would require legislation "to let insurance companies sell policies across state lines, reform medical malpractice and associated health plans or pools for “high risk” patients that separate healthy people from those with serious medical conditions.”

His client update contained a section on Medicaid. “Cuts in federal Medicaid spending and a change in how states are reimbursed for Medicaid coverage have a much broader impact than on who may or may not lose coverage,” Garrett says. “Reducing federal spending on Medicaid by more than $800 billion would put more of the financial responsibility on states, many of which opted to take the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act, but aim to provide states broader discretion to implement the program."

Two Firms, One Team

Multi-agency alliances have emerged as the solution to client demands for a broader range of skill sets, a single point of contact and competency in digital media.

Challenges don’t come in pre-sized boxes. They require skills and expertise that many advertising and public relations firms don’t have on their in-house staffs, so they have turned to partnering with like-minded and complementary firms to meet client needs.

Cappelli Miles and CFM Strategic Communications, both Oregon-based firms with long track records of achieving client success, have created such an alliance.

“Many of our clients need more than branding help and advertising,” says Rod Miles, president of Cappelli Miles with offices in Eugene and Portland. “We have found a partner in CFM with skills in public relations and market research that complement us perfectly.”

Blending team skills positions the two firms to take maximum advantage of digital and interactive media. “Our alliance with Cappelli Miles enables us to weave interactive and digital media tactics into overall strategic communications strategies,” says Gary Conkling, cofounder of CFM, with offices in Portland, Salem and Washington, DC.

Marketing trends place a premium on informative, relevant and useful content that can be shared, especially on social media.

“We no longer think about advertising and PR as parallel communications universes,” Miles says. “We focus on making connections with our intended audiences, using whatever tools and channels that work best. It often means a mix of tools such as video, storytelling and direct engagement.”

“More people are paying attention on digital media, so it makes sense to develop content designed expressly for digital media,” Conkling adds. “That requires thinking beyond press releases or paid ads. The services you provide are less important than the results you achieve.”

Cappelli Miles and CFM are currently collaborating on two client projects – OregonSaves for the Oregon State Treasury and a rebranding rollout for Salem Keizer Transit.

“Each firm has its core strengths and key staff,” Miles says. “Working together, we have expanded bandwidth, broader expertise and richer ideation.”

Conkling adds, “As two firms working as one team, we have more to offer.”

Babb’s Celebration of Life Set for Sunday

Doug Babb, CFM’s Senior Gray Beard for 20 years, was especially proud of his work to convince local leaders of the wisdom of restoring Portland’s historic City Hall.

Doug Babb, CFM’s Senior Gray Beard for 20 years, was especially proud of his work to convince local leaders of the wisdom of restoring Portland’s historic City Hall.

A celebration of Life for Doug Babb will be held Sunday, February 19 from 2:30-5:30 pm at Dig a Pony at 736 SE Grand Avenue in Portland. Informal. Pendleton or Hawaiian shirts a plus! No business wear. A wee bit of Scotch for a special toast. Wine, beer, food and 60s/70s music. Bring your Doug stories.  –Susan Terry

Doug Babb – CFM’s likable long-time gray beard, project maestro and professional conscience – died Monday after a long battle with Parkinson’s and lifelong struggle with diabetes.

Babb was one of CFM’s first employees after getting his feet wet in journalism at Portland State University, helping start Willamette Week, working for Tri-Met during the tumultuous construction of the first light rail line to Gresham, explaining why it was a good idea to export Portland trash to Eastern Oregon and handling communications for former tech giant Tektronix.

Babb first crossed paths with the two CFM co-founders, Gary Conkling and Dave Fiskum, when they all worked atThe Daily Astorian, where Babb covered fisheries and maritime commerce and whatever else crossed the newspaper’s transom. They later intersected at Tektronix. It only seemed natural Babb would join them once CFM got underway.

Doug was a friend and a mentor. Smart. Funny. Clever and full of righteous insight.
— CFM Partner Norm Eder

Along the way, Babb was part of a lot of Oregon history. We know because he wrote what amounted to his obituary. With his physical limitations, it took him six weeks to peck it out with one finger.

  • As a researcher for the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), Babb unearthed evidence the Oregon Real Estate Division was being lax in the enforcement of consumer protection safeguards on sales of recreational subdivision properties. His worked earned two front-page headlines, attracted the attention of Governor Tom McCall and spurred formation of 1000 Friends of Oregon, according to the land-use watchdog’s founder.
  • Babb had one of the grimmest PR jobs as Tri-Met’s communication lead during the disruptive construction of the Eastside MAX line, which occurred before Portlanders fell in love with light rail. But Babb was pulled off that thankless assignment to handle media relations for the transit agency in tense labor negotiations. His reward was a seat on the committee that would run the transit agency in the event of a strike. A contract agreement came just an hour before the strike deadline.
  • He wrote a cover story for Living titled “Bionic Man,” describing his experience as only the 14th Oregonian to become tethered to an insulin pump. He was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in 1961 and the disease gradually stole his eyesight through which he saw more than most.
  • Babb experienced corporate culture when, as manager of Tek’s corporate PR office, he was blindsided by a BBC reporter asking about Tek’s plans to close a manufacturing plant in Guernsey. It was an ominous beginning to a downward slide by a company that once was Oregon’s largest private employer and America’s leading patent applicant.

Babb toiled at CFM for 20 years before retiring. He specialized in reputation and issues management. He played a critical role for establishing CFM as the leading public affairs agency in the Pacific Northwest. Some of his milestone achievements:

  • He launched an annual Technology Benchmarks survey and conference that put Oregon's tech industry on the political map as it overcame the timer industry as the state’s largest employer.
  • Working for the late Bing Sheldon at SERA Architects, Babb helped convince Portland’s opinion leaders – and city commissioners – that renovating the century-old Portland City Hall was a smarter, more enduring option than building something new. His advocacy has proven true, especially as City leaders grapple with what to do with the badly aging, much younger Portland Building.
  • Babb led two national award-winning campaigns in Oregon to encourage a higher tobacco tax and discourage smoking by youngsters.
  • Before they were commonplace, Babb pitched clients on building websites and telling stories using visual tools.
One of Doug Babb’s favorite projects was working pro bono to raise money and in-kind contributions to build the Fort to Sea Trail connecting the replica of Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop with the Pacific Ocean.

One of Doug Babb’s favorite projects was working pro bono to raise money and in-kind contributions to build the Fort to Sea Trail connecting the replica of Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop with the Pacific Ocean.

On one of his last big projects, Babb worked with the National Park Service on web-centers communications to raise $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions to fulfill a 50-year promise to build a trail from the replica of Fort Clatsop near Astoria to the sea. He provided crisis media training to Park rangers, which became prescient when a fire destroyed Fort Clatsop just as the new trail opened.

“The awards weren’t the best part of the project,” Babb wrote in his obituary. “Witnessing a client take ownership of the material, adapt it for the moment and excel in execution makes a crisis consultant a very happy camper. I came into my office and listened to the voice mail, ‘We used your plan last night. The media is all here and the governor is coming this morning.’”

As our Senior Gray Beard, Doug was a voice of reason, a strong writer and a social activist.
— CFM Partner Tom Eiland

Babb never felt sorry for himself and certainly never trafficked in pity. He had an eye for the unusual and a kind word for someone else facing adversity. Some of the 10 facts he chose to remember about himself:

  • “He once strolled down Portland’s Transit Mall wearing a gorilla suit and a top hat.”
  • He had 4,000 laser welds in each eye to stop bleeding.
  • He served as an officer on three community mental health boards.
  • He wasn’t able to drive his own car after age 31 – and he loved Triumph sports cars.
  • He was trained as a light rail operator – just in case.

He is survived by his wife, Susan. This blog will be updated with information about his memorial.

Reeves to Join CFM State Affairs Team

Zack Reeves, a 6-year veteran in the Oregon Capitol, will join CFM’s state affairs team to represent its clients in the 2017 legislative session, which gets underway in February.

Zack Reeves, a 6-year veteran in the Oregon Capitol, will join CFM’s state affairs team to represent its clients in the 2017 legislative session, which gets underway in February.

Zack Reeves, a six-year veteran in the Oregon legislature who has worked on a wide range of issues, has been hired as part of CFM’s state affairs team and will represent the firm’s clients at the 2017 legislative session.

Reeves replaces Ellen Miller, who is leaving CFM to become the legislative coordinator/urban policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Miller’s last day working for CFM will be January 23. Reeves, who will be leaving his job as chief of staff for Senator Lee Beyer, will join CFM’s state affairs team in the first week of February when the legislature convenes.

“We are happy for Ellen in her new position and wish her well,” said Dale Penn II, senior public affairs associate. "CFM is fortunate to add a new colleague to our state affairs team who knows the Capitol, has command of issues our clients care about and maintains excellent contacts with legislators and legislative staff."

“Having worked with Zack for years in his role as chief of staff for Senator Beyer, I'm excited that he is joining the CFM state affairs team,” said Tess Milio, state affairs associate. "His expertise and talents make a great fit for our team.”

In his role for Senator Beyer, Reeves had responsibility to develop strategy, build alliances and shepherd bills through the legislative process. "I am honored to join the team at CFM," said Reeves. "I look forward to continuing to work closely with Dale and Tess, and to put my legislative experience to work for the firm's clients."

Reeves is a graduate of Willamette University and took his master’s degree from Oregon State University. He and his family live in Corvallis, where he grew up. He has travelled extensively, and spends most of his free time playing soccer and exploring Oregon's outdoors.

Walden Staffer Expands CFM’s Federal Lobby Team

Bend native Kirby Garrett, who rose from intern to DC legislative assistant for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, is joining CFM and expanding its federal affairs team in Washington, DC.

Bend native Kirby Garrett, who rose from intern to DC legislative assistant for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, is joining CFM and expanding its federal affairs team in Washington, DC.

CFM is expanding its federal affairs team with the addition of Kirby Garrett, who has worked for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden since 2011. 

A Bend native and a political science graduate of Baylor University, Garrett worked his way up in the Walden office, starting as an intern, graduating to field representative in LaGrande and moving to Washington, DC to become a legislative assistant. In the latter role, he managed Walden’s work on transportation, infrastructure, education, financial services, taxation, labor and housing issues.

Garrett’s achievements included helping Walden advance legislation to return commercial air service to Klamath Falls and ensure bridges in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area were eligible for vital federal transportation funding. 

"I’m excited about what Kirby brings to CFM and the clients we represent,” says Joel Rubin, CFM Federal Affairs Partner. "His record of accomplishment and experience working for Congressman Walden will bring tremendous value to our federal team.” 

"Kirby has broad and deep connections to leaders on the Hill and throughout the Pacific Northwest,” Rubin adds. "He will complement our team’s comprehensive approach to lobbying and help our clients navigate the federal process.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing my work for Oregon and Pacific Northwest interests. Working for an Oregon firm with clients throughout the Northwest will allow me the opportunity to work on issues I’m passionate about and stay connected to the region I call home,” Garrett says.

Garrett, who will be CFM’s Manager, Federal Affairs, can be reached at his CFM email address: kirbyg@cfmdc.com.

Rubin’s Vancouver Update Draws Media Attention

President-elect Donald Trump’s promised $1 trillion transportation and infrastructure investment plan has rekindled interest among Vancouver officials in a plan to replace the I-5 Columbia River Bridge, which continues to confound commuters and freight handlers with untimely bridge lifts.

President-elect Donald Trump’s promised $1 trillion transportation and infrastructure investment plan has rekindled interest among Vancouver officials in a plan to replace the I-5 Columbia River Bridge, which continues to confound commuters and freight handlers with untimely bridge lifts.

Joel Rubin, CFM’s federal affairs vice president, walked through President-elect Donald Trumps’ transportation and infrastructure investment plan in a presentation this week to the Vancouver City Council. CFM represents the City of Vancouver at the federal level.

City officials are interested in seeing if there is a way to revive the replacement of the I-5 Columbia River Bridge under Trump’s $1 trillion proposal. 

While the proposal won’t be formally advanced to Congress until next year when Trump takes office, Rubin said there are critical considerations to get the bridge back on the radar screen. One is the Trump’s plan to rely heavily on public-private partnerships. Another is the need for broad state, regional and local consensus on a project.

“It’s hard to build a project if the local constituency is in opposition to it,” Rubin said, as rerouted by The Columbian that covered his presentation.

The previous effort collapsed when Washington officials declined to provide funding, in part because of mixed local opinions on whether to extend light rail from Portland into Vancouver. Oregon officials have said a new bridge must include room for light rail. Washington lawmakers in 2015 also directed a big chunk of money to Puget Sound transportation projects. 

Rubin said the Trump proposal doesn’t appear to cover equipment needed to address a crude oil spill, a top City priority in light of the Vancouver Energy trans-shipment project proposed at the Port of Vancouver.

Rubin reported that he has worked closely with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to land a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for hazardous material operations, training and advance planning.

Rubin also noted his work on behalf of the City to lobby for legislation to accelerate the phaseout of old oil tanker cars, speed up application of the latest train braking technology and create standards for volatility before crude oil can be shipped by rail.

CFM Changes Its Addresses

CFM has moved to offices in Portland & Washington, DC. The DC office is steps away from the Capitol in the same building as CNN.

CFM has moved to offices in Portland & Washington, DC. The DC office is steps away from the Capitol in the same building as CNN.

CFM Strategic Communications is occupying new office space in Portland and Washington, DC. The new Portland office space better reflects the firm’s increasingly mobile work patterns. The move in Washington, DC puts CFM staffers closer to the Capitol.

CFM’s new Portland address is 1001 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 1100, which is just one block north of the firm’s previous office space and still located in the heart of downtown Portland. The office has access to large and small conference rooms and a coffee bar that doubles as a work area.

CFM’s DC address is 820 First Street NE, Suite 710, located in the CNN Building where Wolf Blitzer, John King and CNN’s DC media crew work. Near Union Station, the new office is a short 10-minute walk to the Capitol. CFM shares the space, which includes a comfortable conference room, with Washington 2 Advocates. 

The new Portland office trades individual suites for a mix of work options. “We find staff members are spending less time in our office and more time with clients in their offices,” says CFM President Gary Conkling. “We converted our downtown Portland office into a hub where staffers can work or meet when they need to, not because they have to.”

The new DC office space allows CFM staffers to get to Capitol Hill more quickly. “It’s a plus being closer to where we do the bulk of our work,” says CFM Partner Joel Rubin who leads the firm’s federal affairs practice. “If a senator or his senior staff calls, we can be there in 10 minutes.”

CFM phone numbers for both office locations remain unchanged.

CFM/DEJ Separation Statement

CFM Strategic Communications and Dan Jarman, a CFM shareholder, have announced an amicable separation. Jarman plans to hang out his own state government affairs shingle while CFM will continue to send a team of state lobbyists to the Capitol in Salem.

“I have enjoyed my 20 years with CFM,” Jarman says. “But I have had a long-time ambition to start and run my own business. This is the right time for me to strike out on my own.”

The amicable separation provides for seamless continuation of representation for CFM clients.

“We respect Dan’s decision and thank him for his years of service with CFM,“ says Gary Conkling, president and co-founder of CFM. “He is departing as a CFM shareholder, but will remain a valued CFM strategic partner.”

Jarman joined CFM in 1996 after working in the Oregon legislature as a committee administrator, press secretary for a House Speaker and staff director for a House majority leader. He spent 11 years in Washington, DC as the head of CFM’s federal practice before returning to Oregon and rejoining the CFM state lobby team in 2009. Earlier in his career, Jarman worked for Senator Mark Hatfield and Elizabeth Dole, when she was president of the American Red Cross.

Dale Penn II, Ellen Miller and Tess Milio will remain as the CFM state affairs team, continuing to serve a diverse range of clients. “CFM has been a state lobbying firm since it was founded in 1990,” Conkling says, “and it will continue to be a state lobbying firm going forward.”

Ellen Miller, Dale Penn II and Tess Milio will continue to serve CFM state lobby clients in the Oregon legislature and before state agencies.

Ellen Miller, Dale Penn II and Tess Milio will continue to serve CFM state lobby clients in the Oregon legislature and before state agencies.

Conkling: Actions Speak Louder than Words in Crisis Response

Words matter in crisis response, but actions leave the longest lasting impression. President Obama recently came under scrutiny as some said he took too long to fit in a tour of flood-ravaged southern Louisiana in August. Meanwhile, Obama praised FEMA for stepping up disaster relief efforts in the last decade, a trend that has helped repair the agency's damaged reputation after Hurricane Katrina. 

Words matter in crisis response, but actions leave the longest lasting impression. President Obama recently came under scrutiny as some said he took too long to fit in a tour of flood-ravaged southern Louisiana in August. Meanwhile, Obama praised FEMA for stepping up disaster relief efforts in the last decade, a trend that has helped repair the agency's damaged reputation after Hurricane Katrina. 

"Actions speak louder than words in crisis response, and the actions that speak the loudest are ones that align and affirm an organization’s core values,” CFM President Gary Conkling told a group of Puget Sound water officials at a seminar Wednesday in Woodinville, Washington.

“Words spoken in a crisis response are important,” Conkling said, “but the actions behind those words are what leave the most lasting impression, especially with the people impacted by the crisis.”

CFM President Gary Conkling

CFM President Gary Conkling

He gave an example of a retaining wall failure at the construction site of a new water reservoir near a residential area. “One of the most powerful actions you can take is to knock on the doors of nearby neighbors to explain what happened, describe how you are fixing the problem and listening to their concerns,” Conkling said. “If a TV reporter team shows up later and interviews the neighbors, they can say they’ve already talked to you.”

“They may still have concerns, but that direct, one-on-one contact with the agency will be an important demonstration that the agency is on top of the problem,” he added. “That can be an important, maybe the most important part of the story."

Conkling also offered a number of other crisis response tips, including the following:

“No one wants to face a crisis,” Conkling said, “but if one does occur, worry less about how to control events and more about the quality of your response.”

“A crisis is a moment when you can demonstration your commitment to your values and mission,” he said. “It is an opportunity to build goodwill and loyalty that no amount of paid advertising could ever achieve.”

Audits Point to Smarter Communications

Are your communications engaging and effective or completely out of order? That's the big question CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland aims to answer with each communications audit he conducts. Eiland was recently commissioned to conduct an audit for the Central Kitsap School District in an effort to sharpen its communication strategies. 

Are your communications engaging and effective or completely out of order? That's the big question CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland aims to answer with each communications audit he conducts. Eiland was recently commissioned to conduct an audit for the Central Kitsap School District in an effort to sharpen its communication strategies. 

Direct communications are the most important avenue to learn about what’s happening in schools. Communications audits can reveal whether your communications strategies and tools are clicking.

“If school districts don’t communicate effectively, others will fill the vacuum of describing what’s happening – and you may not like what they say,” says CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland, who presented the value of communications audits to the annual conference of the Washington Schools Public Relations Association on April 29 in Leavenworth, Wash.

David Beil, communications director for the Central Kitsap School District, provided specific before and after examples of e-letters, social media and the district’s website following a CFM-led communications audit. Beil said post-audit communications relied on stronger imagery, less text, a sharper audience focus and more links. 

The audit was invaluable, he said, in convincing school administrators why changes were needed and that additional resources were warranted.

Audits involve an inventory of print and digital communications, a battery of research and an analysis of actual communications, Eiland explained.

Results from a communications audit can shape a communications plan, clarify who manages communications, prioritize audiences and organize communications tools, he said. “You can make decisions based on data, not hunches,” Eiland indicated. “You can refresh or reboot websites, e-letters and intranets with greater confidence they will deliver more value for the people you need to reach. They also can help earn the resources you need for success." 

Beil and Eiland emphasized communications audits identify how “people communicate and where they get information,” as well as “what information people want and need.”

“This is a disciplined approach to decide what communications tools work or how they can be made to work better,” Eiland said. “It is also a way to measure actual results."

A Little Bragging about a Successful Session

CFM has always been a lobby firm dedicated to achieving client results. There is no better example of our work than the recently completed 2016 Oregon legislative session.

Our team of five lobbyists, led by CFM Partner Dan Jarman, worked on challenging legislative projects ranging from funding major sporting events to health care to low-income housing. Their work mirrored CFM’s intentionally diversified client portfolio that takes our lobby team to every corner of the state Capitol in Salem.

Success doesn’t happen by accident. “In a short session, there is a lot to do and not very much time to do it,” Jarman says. “You have to conceive a good plan, maintain the discipline to execute it and have the stamina to withstand all the turmoil to succeed. Our team did.”

Success doesn’t always occur in a single session, particularly a short one. And just because you succeed doesn’t mean that success is permanent.  “It takes vigilance to notch a client victory,” Jarman adds. “It takes just as much or more vigilance to preserve that victory.”

The CFM team in Salem consists of Dale Penn II, Ellen Miller and Tess Milio. Case studies highlighting some of their successes during the 2016 session are featured on CFM's homepage.

Michael Skipper, the fifth member of CFM's state team, joined the firm's federal affairs team in Washington, D.C., after the session. He has become the latest member of the CFM staff to work as a lobbyist in both D.C. and Salem.

There has been little time for the state team to rest. After writing their 2016 session reports for clients, they are already at work on legislation for the 2017 session as well as initiatives that voters will decide in the November general election.

“The cycle never stops,” Jarman said. “We can’t either."

Skipper Joins CFM Federal Affairs Team

Michael Skipper will join the CFM Federal Affairs team after working with the firm’s state affairs team during the 2015 and 2016 Oregon legislative sessions and assisting on political campaigns in Corvallis and Sherwood.

A political science graduate of Oregon State University, Skipper will assume the role of CFM Federal Affairs Associate.

"Michael's broad understanding of the issues facing the Pacific Northwest, ability to handle complex assignments and record of accomplishment in Salem makes him a perfect fit for the CFM D.C. team,” says Joel Rubin, CFM Federal Affairs Partner. "Having someone who understands the legislative process at the state level will integrate nicely into our comprehensive service model.” 

Skipper assisted the CFM State Affairs team with client, legislator and committee relations, monitored relevant legislation and provided general support. He brings solid communication, research and organizational skills to his new post.

“I’m looking forward to working in Washington, D.C., which has been a goal of mine,” Skipper says. “I’m delighted to continue my association with CFM in this new position.”

Skipper already has a working familiarity with some of CFM’s federal clients, which the firm represents at both the federal and state levels.

For fun, Skipper enjoys hitting the links, traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends. He is an avid sports fan who can routinely be found at any Trail Blazer or Beaver football, basketball and baseball games.

Skipper can be reached at michaels@cfmdc.com

Chuck Frost, the Conscience of CFM, Passes

Chuck Frost, who died late last month, is remembered as a mentor to CFM's principals and the conscience of the firm.

Chuck Frost, who died late last month, is remembered as a mentor to CFM's principals and the conscience of the firm.

Chuck Frost, who was a mentor to CFM’s principals and the conscience to the firm, died in Portland January 26 at age 79. A Celebration of Life for Chuck will be held February 13 in Beaverton.

CFM started as a spinout of Tektronix when Chuck was vice president of administration. “When we first brought up the idea, which involved voluntarily taking pink slips, Chuck thought we had gone daft,” said CFM co-founder Gary Conkling. “He gradually warmed up to the idea. Much later, he told us forming CFM was a smart idea.”

When he retired from Tektronix, Chuck joined CFM. He worked as part of CFM client teams, but his greatest value came in asking tough questions about how we did our work – and for whom.

“Chuck was one of the most principled men I ever met,” Conkling said. “While I worked for Tektronix, Chuck insisted that we identify a public interest for anything that we lobbied. If we couldn’t make a credible case, we didn’t lobby the issue. He brought that same integrity inside our firm.”

That principled approach to public policy led the late Senator Mark Hatfield to hire Chuck as a Senior Fellow in Washington, D.C., where he finished his career before returning to Oregon to retire.

Below is Chuck’s obituary, which includes the time and location of his Celebration of Life.

Charles Henry Frost

April 4, 1936 – January 26, 2016

Charles “Chuck” Frost lived in a log cabin, worked as a fruit-picker, became a student body president, attended college, did a stint at the Pentagon, fell in love with a stewardess, worked for Tektronix in its heyday and served as a senior fellow for the late Senator Mark Hatfield. He loved life, cherished the outdoors and was a mentor, role model and friend to generations of policymakers and public affairs professionals.

Born April 4, 1936 to Wilfrid Tuttle Frost and Hazel Emma (Stephens) Frost in Berkeley, California, Chuck passed away January 26, 2016 in Portland. He was married 56 years to his best friend, Marilyn Jean (Heckman) Frost, and is survived by Marilyn, his son Charles Stephen Frost, daughter Laura Kathryn Frost, grandchildren Dane and Athena, brother Gordon and nieces and nephews.

He spent his first six years living in a log cabin in Crater Lake National Park, where his father was a park ranger. That ignited his lifelong love of nature, which he passed along to his children and grandchildren.

His family moved to Medford, where Chuck’s first job was picking fruit in nearby orchards. The family later moved to Portland. Chuck went to Grant High School and was elected student body president in 1954.

Chuck attended Willamette University before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He was on active duty in the Pentagon from 1958-1960. While in Washington, D.C., he met the love of his life, Marilyn, who worked for Capitol Airlines.

After they married, the Frosts moved to Portland and Chuck began his 34-year career with Tektronix, which included roles as director of public affairs and vice president of administration. He was often the public face of the company, which at its peak was Oregon’s largest private employer. Chuck earned a reputation for professionalism and principled advocacy. He had a knack for making complex subjects understandable.

When he retired, Chuck joined CFM Strategic Communications, which began as a spinout from Tektronix. He participated in client teams, but his greatest contribution was asking tough questions and serving as the firm’s conscience.

Chuck was active in the community, serving on the boards of the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Independent Colleges Association, Tuality Hospital and Associated Oregon Industries. He was a member of the Portland City Club and the Public Affairs Council.

Chuck and Marilyn moved back to Washington, D.C., in 1995 when he became a Senior Fellow for Senator Hatfield, a role he filled until Hatfield retired in 1997.

The Frosts returned to Portland to enjoy their retirement.

A Celebration of Chuck’s life will be held Saturday, February 13, from 2-4 p.m. at the Claremont Clubhouse, 15800 NW Country Club Dr., Portland, OR 97229. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Nature Conservancy of Oregon.

Rubin Becomes CFM Partner

Joel Rubin, left, with Tigard Mayor John Cook, right, discusses federal items highlighted at a recent Conference of Mayors event in Washington, D.C. Rubin, who leads CFM’s federal affairs team, just became the firm’s newest partner.

Joel Rubin, left, with Tigard Mayor John Cook, right, discusses federal items highlighted at a recent Conference of Mayors event in Washington, D.C. Rubin, who leads CFM’s federal affairs team, just became the firm’s newest partner.

Joel Rubin, who joined CFM Strategic Communications nearly 10 years ago and now leads the firm’s federal affairs office in Washington, DC, has become its newest shareholder.

“I’m pleased my work for clients has translated into a solid practice area for CFM,” Rubin says.

Rubin grew up in the Washington, DC area, but worked for five years as Legislative Director to former Washington Congressman Brian Baird, which gave him a taste of the Pacific Northwest. “It was all new and I loved it,” Rubin says. “Maryland is my home, but the Pacific Northwest is my second home."

After he left Capitol Hill, Rubin worked as a lobbyist for a D.C.-based firm. When given the chance to join CFM and work with Pacific Northwest clients, he jumped at the opportunity. "The Northwest is blessed with folks who work well together and try to solve problems. I was excited to rejoin my friends and colleagues to continue the work I started for Congressman Baird."

Rubin’s areas of expertise include appropriations, transportation, energy, defense, tax, trade, grants and local government issues.

“Joel has broad experience, which he applies in innovative and creative ways,” says CFM Partner Dan Jarman who recruited Rubin in 2006. “Others may throw up their hands in a tough situation, Joel digs in and finds a path to success.”

A graduate of Frostburg State University, where he majored in accounting with a minor in political science, Rubin and his wife, Sarah, have two children. When not at the office or visiting clients, Rubin can be found on the diamond with his 2015 championship men's baseball team or a dive karaoke bar belting out some REO Speedwagon.

CFM now has five active partners. Co-founder and partner Dave Fiskum retired in 2015. Rubin officially became a CFM partner on January 1.

Jarman Leads Drive for Blazer License Plate

Oregon politicians, including Gov. Kate Brown, unveil the new Portland Trail Blazers license plate during a first quarter timeout against Atlanta Hawks at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, January 20, 2016. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

Oregon politicians, including Gov. Kate Brown, unveil the new Portland Trail Blazers license plate during a first quarter timeout against Atlanta Hawks at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, January 20, 2016. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

Governor Kate Brown and key legislators joined Portland Trail Blazer officials Wednesday night to unveil a new specialty license plate bearing the NBA team’s logo and the iconic “Rip City” nickname. CFM Partner Dan Jarman and his state affairs team made the license plate a reality during the 2015 Oregon legislative session.

Dan Jarman, CFM partner and member of the firm's state affairs practice. 

Dan Jarman, CFM partner and member of the firm's state affairs practice. 

“Lawmakers are reticent to approve specialty plates, but the Trail Blazers made a convincing case,” said Jarman, who attended the unveiling during a Blazer home game versus the Atlanta Hawks. “It didn’t hurt that Bill Schonely and Terry Porter came to Salem to testify and lobby for the bill.”

The new license plate will be available this spring and will cost $40. The proceeds from license plate sales will fund competitive grants that support Oregon youth initiatives statewide and will be distributed through the Trail Blazers Foundation.

Other states with professional sports franchises offer similar specialty license plates as a way fans can show their loyalty and contribute to worthy causes.

“When Oregon lawmakers realized these kinds of specialty license plates are common, they warmed to the idea of the Trail Blazer license plate,” Jarman said.

Gaining legislative approval of a new specialty license plate is no walk in the park. But Jarman has learned the path. He also represented the Oregon wine industry in the 2013 legislative session in its effort to create an Oregon Wine Country plate.

Regional Land-Use System Unravels

This November, Sherwood voters turned down a proposed annexation for a third time. The 104 acres of land were brought into the Portland metro urban growth boundary in 2002. 

This November, Sherwood voters turned down a proposed annexation for a third time. The 104 acres of land were brought into the Portland metro urban growth boundary in 2002. 

Portland's regional land-use policy may be unraveling by the unwillingness of local communities to carry it out, says CFM partner Norm Eder in an op-ed published on page A7 last week in the Portland Tribune.

"Today, the metro area is less the cohesive region planners envisioned," Eder wrote, "and more an ever-expanding network of smaller, often self-defined villages."

"And it's just another irony that many of those who reject the consequences of land-use decisions in their villages," he added, "are the most committed to the system's growth management principles."

Eder's comments came after Sherwood residents defeated for the third time a proposal to annex 104 acres, which were part of a larger parcel added to the Portland metro urban growth boundary in 2002. [CFM Strategic Communications managed the most recent unsuccessful annexation campaign.]

"Whether we're talking about land-use, transportation or economic development, our region faces an existential threat to its way of doing things," Eder said. "We continue onward pretending the ground under our feet has not shifted. We create plan, conduct public process and make decisions that it the letter of the law, but with less and less real meaning in the world as it really exists."

"Ultimately, the Sherwood vote matters," Eder concluded, "because it tells those of us who worry about the region's future that somethings gotta give and soon."

Norm Eder is part of CFM's public affairs team. Eder works extensively with and for local governments, tackling major projects. You can reach him at norme@cfmpdx.com.

Runquist Joins CFM, Deepens Firm's Writer's Bench

Justin Runquist, who has worked as a reporter for The Columbian, The Oregonian and The Spokesman-Review, has joined CFM Strategic Communications as the firm’s communications counsel.

Justin Runquist

Justin Runquist

A graduate of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, Runquist deepens CFM's bench for storytelling, story pitching, content creation, presentations and social media.

"Justin brings a fresh eye and contemporary experience in the media to meet client needs," said Gary Conkling, CFM’s president and co-founder. "He knows how to tell a story, sniff out a good story angle and leverage digital resources.”

Runquist most recently worked for The Columbian, where he wrote about local government, business, education and the marijuana industry in Clark County. Prior to that, Runquist worked for The Oregonian, covering government, business, crime and education in Lake Oswego, Wilsonville, West Linn and other parts of the Portland metro area. 

Three years ago for The Oregonian, Runquist covered the Washington State Legislature during a historic session as gay marriage became legal in the Evergreen State.

Runquist joins the CFM communications team, but he will also provide support for the firm's state affairs and research practice areas.

"Working for CFM appealed to me because of its range of public affairs work for corporations, nonprofits and public agencies," Runquist said. "This will translate into more diverse experiences and challenging work."

Conkling said, "People with journalistic experience do well in the world of public affairs. They understand policy issues and political processes. They also know that timing is everything."

Runquist also will play a key role in CFM's content-forward marketing efforts. 

"This is a company that shows what it can do through its widely shared thought leadership and case studies,” he said. “Clients know what they get when they hire CFM."

Runquist's arrival coincides with the departure of Hannah Smith, who has worked at CFM for seven years after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Smith and her husband are departing soon for a dream experience of an extended stay in Southeast Asia.