Gary Oertli, Shoreline's president, at podium, with (right to left) Monica Walker, President Clinton, Senator Patty Murray, Bill Gates, and a translator for the hearing-impaired.
Photo by Lisa Allen/Woodinville Weekly.
by Lisa Allen
Referring to the present "age of information" brought on by the computer revolution, President Bill Clinton told an invited audience of 2,000 at Shoreline Community College last Saturday that today we face the most profound changes in 100 years.
"The last time things changed this fast was when the telephone came into being and vast numbers of people left the farm for the city," he said.
"It's a 100-year change, and actually, the digital chip is the most important change in 500 years since Gutenberg first printed the Bible." Clinton credited his comment to Bill Gates' recent book.
Clinton spoke of new opportunities as well as how to deal with jobs that are lost due to new technology. "It's important to move forward and not to quit until the benefits of technology are available to everyone," he said.
"If a lot of people have new jobs, but you are one without a job, it all sounds great, but it doesn't ring true," Clinton said. "With children, technology is the great equalizer."
Clinton explained that his goals for education are to have computers in every classroom, software available, trained teachers, and Internet hookups. "Other things we have to do are build strong families and workplaces. We need safer streets. But the most important area is education. Every single American needs educational opportunities," Clinton said.
Shoreline Community College's Professional Automotive Training Center was the focus of Clinton's visit, arranged by Senator Patty Murray, a former instructor in Shoreline's parent education and preschool programs.
"It is truly an honor for Shoreline Community College and the community college system in the state of Washington," said College President Gary Oertli. "We are proud of our partnerships with business and industry that make programs such as Shoreline's Professional Automotive Training Center possible."
Clinton emphasized the importance of keeping the student loan and Pell Grant programs and said he believed a tax cut for the cost of college tuition would be included in the next budget debate. "In the last three years, we have developed nearly eight million new jobs, a record number of new businesses, and a record number of self-made millionaires."
He spoke of the importance of investing in technology partnerships, referring to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who had preceded Clinton at the podium.
In his speech, Gates also described the PC revolution as "incredible" and said it is important to make sure the United States leads the way in technology. "These [PCs] are tools for individual companies and tools that are used in hospitals and schools," Gates said.
The rate of improvement is that every two years machines are twice as powerful, he said. "They are so powerful, they are now connecting together as a communications device that lets people reach out. There is a name for it: the Internet. The Internet is the center of the information age, and it will expand dramatically in the years ahead. Even our phone systems will need to move to higher speeds. Deregulation will let us go down that path quickly," Gates said.
Gates admitted that it will change the job market, but he said it will also eventually change the way people bank, buy insurance, and learn about what is happening in the government. Education is the key, he said.
Gates also used the opportunity to announce Microsoft's donation of $10 million worth of software to the community colleges in Washington.
Although Clinton had to pass by demonstrators protesting the Salvage Timber Rider, which has been responsible for the recent cutting of healthy trees, the President referred to it only briefly at the beginning of his speech. "The administration has made one or two mistakes due to the law of unintended consequences. One is the way the timber rider has been carried out. Senator Patty Murray is going to work on that problem," he said, to thunderous applause.
The staff of Shoreline was busy last week. The advance team came, the White House staff put in 120 phone lines, and the Secret Service arrived to arrange security.
"It was so unbelievable, the most exciting thing that has happened at Shoreline," said Peggy Lytle of Shoreline's Plant Operations who ordered the executive furniture and barricades.
Holly Moore, Shoreline's Director of Professional/Technical Education and Workforce Training Program, served as moderator. SCC students Jeff Beltran, 20, Joan Keaunni, 50, Jerome Skorzewski, 49, Monica Walker, 38, and Chris Pena, 45, shared their experiences. Caralee Cheney, an SCC professor, Jack Carroll, a local Chrysler dealer, and Abdul A-Leem Ahmed, from the Quality through Training project, were also part of the Round Table.
On the stage with Clinton and Gates were Senator Murray and Monica Walker, a 38-year-old displaced insurance worker, who will graduate in a few weeks from the automotive training program. A job is waiting for her when she graduates. Walker told her story and then introduced President Clinton.
Northshore residents were well-represented at the event by Woodinville's Toby Washington, chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees, with his wife Sherada; Cherry Jarvis, member of the SCC Board of Trustees and SCC Foundation Board, and her husband, Terry; Ina Knutsen, former member of the SCC Board of Trustees and member of the SCC Foundation Board; Carol Edwards, member of the SCC Foundation Board; Sue Carlson, Evergreen Hospice Chaplain; David Leggett, King County Fire and Life Safety District.
Dave Nicholson of Woodinville, whose sister is in the Secret Service and drives for President Clinton, was there with his wife Connie and daughter, Samantha; and sitting in the Channel 4 satellite truck were crew members Len Brandt, formerly of Woodinville, Jason Carter of Woodinville, and Dale Colby of Bothell, with Margo Myers of Seattle.
Due to space limitations in the Shoreline gymsasium, some in attendance had to watch the president's speech on a large television screen in an adjoining overflow room.
Leggett was in the overflow room, watching the screen, when suddenly he heard someone ask for a doctor. When Leggett turned around, he saw that an elderly woman had fainted.
"She had fallen to the floor and I went over to her and determined that the situation was not life threatening," he said. "Then the Secret Service arrived and cleared the immediate area, except for myself, until the medics arrived. I briefed them on her condition and I assisted her to a chair. She was wheeled out just before the President came in the room to shake hands. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shake his hand," Leggett said.
Leggett said a woman behind him called out, "We love you, Hillary." The President answered, "Thanks, so do I."
Leggett said that later he had checked on the woman who had fainted and learned she had been taken to a hospital, but was doing fine.