Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.
See the THROUGH THE WATERS page.


 
"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. "Mike Blackbird paints a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system that put him and so many others in that battlefield . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.


 

Oct 30 2014

Ability and integrity both?

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

We often hear the lament, “I am not voting because it is always the lesser of two evils.”

A story in the Saturday DAILY PAPER by reporter Katy Moeller seems to enforce the evil issue. Seems that Ada Coroner Candidate Dotti Owens “forgot” about criminal charges for fraud and a bankruptcy when she completed a candidate form for the paper.

Ada County lawmen, including Sheriff Gary Raney and local police chiefs endorsed Owens over former deputy sheriff Michael Chilton. Chilton spent most of his copper career as a jailer for Ada County. Owens has been a deputy coroner.

The STATESMAN has to be commended for its election coverage which earlier revealed that Mayor Dave Bieter had met individually with candidates for the Ada County Highway District, asking them to get rid of the director … all in the spirit of working together of course.

Then there is Sherri Ybarra the candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction who can’t remember a divorce, what degree she is working on, or other items from her past.

It isn’t just women either. The race for Guv is not without charges of cronyism and illicit campaign contributions to Butch Otter from the private group recently ousted from running the state prison. Former Canyon prosecutor John Bujak has dodged criminal charges for a couple of years now and his gubernatorial candidacy is considered that of “spoiler.”

Hold your nose when you vote and if you have a bottle of hand sanitizer, be sure to use it after you vote, but please vote.

NOTE: The GUARDIAN doesn’t endorse candidates and no conclusions should be implied by this post.

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Oct 30 2014

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Amy’s Kitchen sets up in Pocatello (Boise Statesman, Pocatello Journal)
Courts, jails and mental health (Boise Statesman)
E Idaho officials ponder economic development mergers (IF Post Register)
Feds examine Kamiah discrimination charges (Lewiston Tribune)
More juvenile corrections detainees claim abuse (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Nampa building permit reveue rises (Nampa Press Tribune)
Group wants grazing delay until species review (Nampa Press Tribune)
Examining an anti-Balukoff ad (TF Time News)
CEO of Galmbia will retire (TF Times News)

Eugene requires Uber to get taxi icense (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene looking for more money for parks (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath clear of enterovirus (KF Herald & News)
Rogue Valey economy continues improving (Medford Tribune)
Governor’s office slowly provides Hayes records (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing Kitzhaber’s 3rd term report card (Portland Oregonian)
Complaints: Force used against students (Salem Statesman Journal)
Problems attacked in battery recycling (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard struggles on pathway decision (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge plans $7m park land purchase (Bremerton Sun)
Military famiies get new medical possibilities (Bremerton Sun)
Still trying to figure out Marysville killings (Everett Herald)
Reviewing top ballot issues for election (Seattle Times)
Money in campaigns going up (Spokane Spokesman)
State in contempt over mental patients in jail (Vancouver Columbian)
Initiative on class size roars ahead (Vancouver Columbian)
WA will again be sending apples to China (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Oct 29 2014

A test of policy, not character

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

I have to confess: I hate most political advertising. There is this idea in American politics that the best way to win is to knock the other person down.

Alaska is a case in point where misleading ads about character are common. An ad for Republican candidate Dan Sullivan complains that Senator Mark Begich is “pretending to ride” a snow machine. Or on the flip side: A Begich ad that tied Sullivan to the early release of a sex offender who then went on to commit murder (that ad is no longer used).

We’ve been trained, as consumers, to use this as a framework for making our decision — at least most of us. The thinking goes like this: Hard-core Democrats will vote their way, committed Republicans will stick with their guy, so it’s these character ads that are designed to reach out to people in the middle. I do get that. It’s even ok to use character ads where the candidates define themselves, such as several on Sullivan’s military record or others about Begich’s frugal nature.

But it’s public policy that matters.

There are real policy political differences between Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan. And we would be better off if the campaigns fought over those distinct issues, not character.

On issues that matter to Alaska Natives the issues are serious and the divide is stark. So it’s not really a surprise that the Alaska Federation of Natives board met last week in private before endorsing Begich’s re-election. It’s rare for AFN to endorse candidates, although not unprecedented (such as Senator Lisa Murkowski’s unlikely write-in re-election bid four years ago.)

So let’s focus on policy. Their differences are mostly about one thing: The role of the federal government.
At the top of the list for Alaska Natives has to be a commitment to subsistence, protecting the hunting, fishing and gathering rights of native people who’ve lived on the land for thousands of years longer than any modern nation.

Last week at AFN, Begich was clear about his stand when he said that subsistence is “a right you own, its inherent, not granted.” If that logical argument was carried to conclusion it would place Alaska Native hunting and fishing on par with treaty rights for tribes in lower 48. That’s critical because it’s because of treaties that states like Washington have had success with tribal co-management of species, improving the resource for everybody.

Sullivan, on the other hand, unsuccessfully tried to walk a fine line. He told AFN that he supports subsistence but was the state attorney general who pressed the Katie John case when it could have been over. His argument is that the issue is about federal overreach and that the state, not the federal government, could bring about a subsistence regime. That’s a tough sell. So much so that at one point AFN’s audience booed Sullivan’s response. Continue Reading »

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Oct 29 2014

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Hospitals see more mental illness cases (Boise Statesman)
Boise building plan held in 2008 may be back (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Falls cops wearing body cameras (IF Post Register)
Bidder dislike terms on new DOE-INL contracts (IF Post Register)
Pullman tries to lower health care costs (Moscow News)
Nampa sied former deputy fire chief (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho moving in liquified natural gas (Nampa Press Tribune)
Review of gubernatorial race (Nampa Press Tribune)
Amy’s Kitchen will buy old Heinz plant (Pocatello Journal)
Bannock Commissioner Manwaring sidelined (Pocatello Journal)
Balukoff backed Obama 08, Romney 12 (TF Times News)
SATs in Cassia schools better than ID average (TF Times News)

Corvallis looks at downtown hotel (Corvallis Gazette)
State will try per-mile road fee (Eugene Register Guard)
New poll on pot shows close ballot race (KF Herald & News)
New Italian restaurant in Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Outside groups weigh in on Bates-Dotterrer (Medford Tribune)
Medford Providence plans for ebola (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla goes after adult business with zones (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hansell, Kitzhaber debate over river spill (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New polls: Little change in governor race (Portland Oregonian)
Salem inundated with sidewalk repair asks (Salem Statesman Journal)

Gun club called nuisance, stays open (Bremerton Sun)
Sheldon and others blast back on mailers (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville starts to recover from shooting (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Willow Grove park goes from county to port (Longview News)
Businesses say they’re hurt by road work (Port Angeles News)
Discovery Bay, others said safe for shellfish (Port Angeles News)
Study looks at impact of class sizes (Seattle Times)
Clark commissioners cut their pay (Vancouver Columbian)

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Oct 28 2014

A question

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Some Idaho political reporters have pointed out that if Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is elected to a third consecutive term on November 4th he will be only the second governor in state history to accomplish that feat.

The first was Robert E. Smylie, who served 12 years from 1955 to 1967. Over the years since Statehood (July 3rd, 1890) the Idaho Legislature has gone back and forth on the issue of term limits for a governor and how long a term was to be.

In the state’s early history governors were elected just to two year terms and at times could run as often as they liked. In the mid-1940’s, however, it was decided that a governor should serve only one four year term. This might have been a delayed reaction to Governor C. Ben Ross, who won three consecutive two-year terms in the 1930’s.

The first governor the change applied to was C.A. “Doc” Robins, a medical doctor from St. Maries and the first governor from north Idaho. He served from 1947 to 1951 and his tenure saw implementation of many progressive reforms.

He was succeeded by a Grangeville legislator, car dealer and former Hells Canyon sheep rancher named Len. B. Jordan, who served from 1951 to 1955. During his tenure the Legislature decided to lift term limits on the governor’s term altogether.

Jordan then could have run for several more terms but in an unusual act of integrity declined to do so. He told the media of that day that the people of Idaho had elected him thinking he would serve just the one term. He said it would violate the bond of trust he had with the voters and he would not do that.

The governor who has served the most time in office is of course Cecil Andrus, who was elected four times but the 14 years he served were not consecutive.

Idaho’s Constitution is one of those that gives a Lieutenant Governor all the powers of the elected governor when the governor is out of state. Not only can he exercise these powers he also is paid at the considerably higher pay level of a governor.

Butch Otter served 14 years in the post. Elected in 1986 when Andrus was elected to his third term, he and Andrus worked an arrangement whereby Butch pulled no fast ones when Andrus was out of state. On occasion Andrus would sanction Otter selecting a Republican to fill a vacancy in a legislative seat or county commission.

During his 14 year tenure Butch served 8 year under Andrus, 4 years under Batt and the first 2 years of Dirk Kempthorne’s tenure.

Curious to know how many days during those 14 years Butch filled in and was in reality the Governor, I asked current Lt. Governor Brad Little for the information.

Brad’s aide, Greg Wilson, was surprised at how challenging it was. He went to the Controller’s office which reviewed Otter’s pay slips to come up with the total hours. One then had to divide the total pay by the daily pay rate.

It would be a travesty if during those 14 years Butch had served as governor more than two years thus enabling him to claim (if elected to a third term) that upon completion of his third term, if one added the days he was “acting governor,” he, not Andrus was the longest serving governor.

Complicating this effort was the inability of the Controller’s office to provide the data for the first three years Butch filled the job. The only solution was to take the average of the 11 years add it to the missing years. Continue Reading »

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Oct 28 2014

On the front pages

news

The biggest story in Oregon today was, really, a small-scale and probably never-to-be-used bureaucratic designation: Which medical facilities around the state would take lead if an ebola case should show up. Just about every front page in the state featured that story, and to underline it, the Oregonian featured the words “Ebola fear” in their big headline. never mind that there are no Ebola cases in Oregon and no particular reason to think there will be.

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing Idaho mental health’s crisis units (Boise Statesman)
Mammoth fossils found near American Falls (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
A look at the 1st US House race (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston moving to ban pot sales (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston passes anti-gay discrimination rule (Lewiston Tribune)
Agidius says she will work on ‘guns on campus’ (Moscow News)
Legislators look at tiered licensing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing secretary of state race (Nampa Press Tribune)
School districts struggling to get teachers (Pocatello Journal)

Ebola referral sites set in Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Corvallis shelter plan under review (Corvallis Gazette)
Per-mile tax as road revenue to be tested (Eugene Register Guard)
Art Robinson picks up $674k donation (Eugene Register Guard)
Pine Tree Plaza retail reopens (KF Herald & News)
Party registration numbers decline (Medford Tribune)
Medical pot seed production questioned (Medford Tribune)
Debate over what to do with the leaves (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla committee looking at pot taxes (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tighter race for governor (Salem Statesman Journal)

School bus safety rules often ignored (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville victims were targeted (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Oregon will test per-mile road tax (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Mailings blasting Sheldon in conflict (Olympian)
Secretary State away from Clallam auditor race (Port Angeles News)
Spokane halts human services grant (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma looks at paid sick days ordinance (Tacoma News Tribune)
Forecast shows vehicle miles will decline (Vancouver Columbian)

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Oct 27 2014

Will the voters take him out?

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

This year’s governor’s race comes down to whether Idaho voters care about crony capitalism, where political cronies and campaign donors profit under the name of “serving the public’s interest.”

Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff is using the stretch run of this campaign to bring up two glaring examples – the Corrections Corporation of America’s failed private-prison management effort and the $60 million broadband contract, which has turned into a nearly $80 million tab for Idaho taxpayers. Both matters involve people, or entities, that have donated generously to Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign.

This isn’t exactly an “October surprise,” since the CCA fiasco, especially, has been in the news lately. And Balukoff isn’t the first gubernatorial candidate to raise issues regarding CCA and broadband contracts. State Sen. Russ Fulcher, who challenged Otter in May’s Republican primary, also touched on those issues. The difference is Fulcher didn’t have the money to make a stink last May; Balukoff does, and he’s flooding television screens with ads and newspapers with press releases.

Balukoff has struck a nerve. After Balukoff ran ads about the CCA, Otter responded with an ad of his own – basically calling Balukoff a liar.

Balukoff is taking a risk. If negative ads work – and history suggests that they do – then the final round of ads will be a big reason why he wins. Or, it can backfire on him if he’s bombarding voters with information that is far too complicated to digest. There is nothing simple about the issues he’s presenting, and Otter supporters couldn’t care less.

Otter’s campaign also has taken a negative turn, mostly using the traditional rhetoric that Republicans use against Democrats. He paints Balukoff as a spend-happy liberal who wants to bleed Idahoans with higher taxes and compromise our 2nd Amendment rights – which probably ruffles more feathers than higher taxes. The ads falsely assume that a Democratic governor has any influence over a Republican Legislature.

There’s not much Balukoff can do that the GOP hasn’t done to itself. Otter and Republican leaders in the Legislature already have established a statewide health exchange program, a centerpiece of Obamacare. They have given their backing to Common Core education standards, a favorite of the liberal social engineers. Balukoff probably will take the lead in promoting Medicaid expansion if he wins, but that’s no culture shock to Republicans. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry – the right arm of the Otter campaign – already is on the front row of support for that issue. Continue Reading »

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Oct 27 2014

In the Briefings

isu mammoth

 
A team of Idaho State University students carefully brush and clean a mammoth skull discovered near American Falls Reservoir in mid-October. The specimen was excavated and transferred from the site to the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello on October 18. (photo/Dave Walsh, for Bureau of Reclamation)

 

Only one more week of campaigning remains, and then the numbers come in. Because of the large number of people voting early, you might expect campaigning to scale down just a bit in the week ahead.

Meanwhile, the big Northwest story of the week was the school shooting at Marysville, Washington, which left two dead and others seriously injured.

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Oct 27 2014

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Problems in Idaho mental illness system (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing the Simpson-Stallings race (Boise Statesman)
Following up on Marysville shooting (Moscow News)
Caldwell council president Blacker dies (Nampa Press Tribune)
App helps voters find polling places (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing candidates resumes for superintendent (TF Times News)
Freight fees hitting Idaho exporters (TF Times News)

Eugene considers adding 700 acres (Eugene Register Guard)
Benton-Linn college issue would upgrade sites (Corvallis Gazette)
Medford homeless shelter has bedbugs (Medford Tribune)
Story behind $95k architect’s fee in Portland (Portland Oregonian)
Stability in Oregon unemployment rates (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem considers water, sewer rate hikes (Salem Statesman Journal)

Another Marysville shooting victim dies (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
Cowlitz law enforcement seeks new gun range (Longview News)
Tulalip Tribe confronts shooting (Longview News)
Raises for state nonunion workers surprise (Olympian)
State high court hears charter school case (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Port Angeles chamber leader nears retirement (Port Angeles News)
Hospitals around WA compared on web site (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing Seattle smart parking system (Spokane Spokesman)
Feeder reail lines looking for help (Spokane Spokesman)
Breast cancer license plates ahead (Vancouver Columbian)

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Oct 26 2014

Ebola hype, Ebola fact

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Donald Trump has been divorced more times than the number of people who’ve died of Ebola in this country.

I hate to do that to you but someone has to put the Ebola story in perspective. That statement alone is clearer than nearly any national media coverage these days. Or, most of the garbage emanating from the mouths of too many politicians. Seldom has this country heard more fear-mongering, baseless information and verbal garbage on any issue.

Just to be perfectly clear: one person has died of Ebola on U.S. soil. Well, Texas, actually, but close to U.S. soil. He died after contracting Ebola overseas and bringing it with him to a hospital that – through something close to medical incompetence – was where he died. One person. One!

National media coverage has been, more often than not, outrageous. Fearful headlines making otherwise respectable major newspapers and broadcasters look like tabloids at the market. Near-factless reporting from outside hospitals that simply repeated the same old minimal information over and over and over. Same crap – different faces.

The most absurd television “coverage” to me was the so-called “patient transfer” that consisted of nighttime chopper shots of an ambulance doing 25 mph with five cop cars ahead and five behind. For nearly an hour. No one had any proof an Ebola “patient” was inside and it really didn’t matter. Could have been two medics playing Gin, for all we know.

And the “news” conferences. Newsless in too many cases. The other night, Rachel Maddow wasted an entire hour showing many “continuing coverage” shots of an empty rostrum in New York where we were supposed to get an update on the latest Ebola patient. A whole hour. Not to be outdone, “Faux Neuws” did the same. That’ll show those damned liberals!

And the talking heads. Far too many have had no more to offer than what they’d read or heard in other media “stories.” Then, there were the two chiefs from NIH and CDC that literally raced from network to network for days to repeat the same comforting messages that things would be alright.

Of course, there were the politicians mouthing off without engaging brains. One in the House repeatedly shouted to all assembled he wanted all flights to this country from affected African countries halted immediately. It was days later he found out there are no flights directly to this country from that part of Africa. None.

And there was Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah’s Third District, loudly disparaging the Obama administration for not having appointed a surgeon general to take charge of these catastrophic events. What escaped him was the President DID make a surgeon general appointment earlier this year. One that spineless senators killed at the behest of the NRA because the nominee wrote, some years ago, gun violence was a public health problem.

There were more. Many, many more examples of politicians and media speaking with no facts, using inflammatory and/or ignorant language, trying to make stories where there were no stories and spreading unfounded information. All of which added to the fears of many viewers and readers simply looking for facts while finding few. It continues today.

With the exception of the NBC News cameraman who contracted Ebola on assignment in Africa while working extensively around Ebola victims, all who’ve been diagnosed in this country were health care workers obviously not trained or properly equipped for treating the disease. The one death was that of a man who came in direct and prolonged contact with an Ebola victim in Africa and then brought his contagion to this country. Even his family members – with whom he lived for a week before presenting symptoms – were not infected.

We live in a society conditioned to believe the worst in nearly everything. We’ve become comfortable with what we know and fearful of learning. Too many have surrounded themselves with like-minded people and like-minded media to the exclusion of facts they don’t agree with or don’t even know exist. Or both. I call it the “Palin Syndrome” – “I know what I know and I don’t need to know any more.” Like a member of Congress blaming an administration for no surgeon general appointee who doesn’t know other members of the same Congress scuttled the named appointment.

Ebola is not going to be a national epidemic. And that’s a fact. Continue Reading »

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Oct 26 2014

They’re not all alike

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

The tragedy of this latest school shooting, Friday morning at the Marysville-Pilchuk school, is as they all have been, a sad and appalling loss of human lives, and especially of human lives with so much potential ahead.

And yet one different kind of lesson seems to come out of this new shooting, and it is this: Don’t lump them all together and imagine that all, together, stand explained.

We’ve had enough school shootings that a standard profile has developed. An outsider kid, a trenchcoat-wrapped loner with few friends at school and a fascination with guns and other weaponry, coupled with a super-heroic (or anti-heroic) complex, roars into the school like a would-be Terminator and opens fire with his automatic (or semi-automatic) weapon on whoever happens to be around, killing and wounding as many as possible. The mass murder is the point; the identity of the victims doesn’t matter.

Little of that explains this case. The student here, according to numerous reports (including those from families of the victims), was Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman football player, voted class “prince,” sometimes a class comic, and popular with both other students and adults. He was pegged by adults as a prospective community leader.

His weapon was not an automatic or even a rifle, but apparently a small handgun. He did not fire randomly, and he did not fire at anyone in authority. Walking into the school cafeteria, he took aim at specific people, people he knew – the two boys he shot were cousins of his – ad his motive may have been very specifically personal – one of the girls shot had apparently angered him for declining to go on a date.
None of this lessens the tragedy or the loss, or the shock in the community.

But there is this: It seems a little closer than some of the other shootings to being at least somehow explicable, a little less random.

And maybe too there’s this: Let’s not assume that all these shootings are all the same. They are all distinctive and consequently none have been entiurely predictable.
Maybe that’s just a little more true in this case.

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Oct 26 2014

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing job of a coroner/death investigator (Boise Statesman)
An overview of Idaho’s mental health system (Boise Statesman)
Lead poisoning at gun ranges, from Seattle Times (Boise Statesman)
Inside the problems of Odyssey Charter School (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Reviewing the Simpson-Stallings race (IF Post Register)
Wine returning to the Lewiston area (Lewiston Tribune)
Voters guide for Canyon County (Nampa Press Tribune)
Superintendent of Public Instruction race roars on (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big fossil found near American Falls (Pocatello Journal)
Talking to ministers on gay marriage (TF Times News)
Governor candidates talk about education (TF Times News)

Some parents opt out of Common Core (Eugene Register Guard)
Kaiser plans expanded health at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
What to do on fire-damaged forest acreage? (KF Herald & News)
Parties battle it out for legislative control (KF Herald & News)
A look at big-campaign finances (Medford Tribune)
More reviews of weed killer spraying (Portland Oregonian)
Another look comparing Merkley and Wehby (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon the center of the GMO label battle (Salem Statesman Journal)
The genealogical society looks for home (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing the Marysville shooting (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald)
Cowlitz homeless population may be dropping (Longview News)
Local impact of classroom size ballot issue (Longview News)
Assessing impact of Marysville on gun initiatives (Seattle Times, Longview News)
Looking at effects of gun initiatives (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Drawing out the numbers on crime’s impact (Vancouver Columbian)
What about tax free tobacco on reservations? (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Oct 25 2014

Has the ground changed?

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Think for a moment of political news, background and impressions, falling from the skies upon the electorate, like rain. It may be the rain that soaks you and makes you wet and miserable or it may be the rain causing flowers to bloom and crops to grow. Depends on your perspective.

A good deal of such rain has fallen in Idaho’s campaign seasons this year. From the batch of scandal-like problems associated with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (private prison, broadband for schools and more), to the financial issues attached to Treasurer Ron Crane, to the personal assessments of Secretary of State candidate Lawerence Denney, to the many missteps of Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Sherri Ybarra, and others too, there’s been a lot, especially of the negative kind. Republican candidates, who are the kind that almost always, in the last 20 years, have emerged winners in the November elections, have provided a lot of it.

This rain of bad headlines, gaffes, missteps and so on has been seized on by people watching Idaho’s elections, and with reason. Such problems have, in years past, derailed any number of Idaho candidates, and some of the complaints and criticisms have been serious enough to go to the heart of the jobs these people are seeking.

A meaningful political analysis has to go one step further, though. Even flood-level amounts of rain won’t make the crops grow or the flowers bloom if it does not fall on receptive soil. Rain falling on concrete simply runs off, at least in the short term.

Idaho’s electorate (to carry the analogy one uneasy step further) used to be gently rototilled, open to new information and ideas and news, willing to adjust its views. It has become less so in the last couple of decades – much more hard-packed, less receptive, than it used to be.

People looking for changes in, say, the governor’s race, need to look not just at the rain but at something that would churn the hard-packed soil, to make it more receptive to changes in the environment.

Maybe it’s there and just not very visible, but so far I’m not seeing much change on the ground. Nor am I picking up many indicators of it.

To explain this a little further, here’s a small plot of Idaho political ground where conditions may be more receptive: The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. One factor is the many problems Republican Ybarra has faced, and the steady campaign of Democrat Jana Jones. Continue Reading »

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Oct 25 2014

On the front pages

news

The overwhelmingly dominant news story today was the high school shooting in Marysville, one that seems to break the usual pattern of these events: The shooting apparently was not random or aimed at a large number of people, but was specific and personal, a more conventional murder. That will not make it less shocking.

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Gas prices fall at Lewiston area (Lewiston Tribune)
Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Moscow News)
More reports of sexual assaults at WSU this year (Moscow News)
Candidates closing in on last campaign days (TF Times News)

Action speeds up on I-5 cable barriers (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette)
Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Much debate over drivers card issue (Corvallis Gazette)
Barnhart decries ads on killers early release (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Trail Alliance digging at Spence Mountain (KF Herald & News)
Property taxes rising at Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Jackson sheriff defended in campaign fraud case (Medford Tribune)
House district 58 candidates both from little Cove (Pendleton E Oregonian)
DuPont Pioneer funds $4.6m against GMO issue (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Analysts look at predicting legislative races (Portland Oregonian)

Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Three new mental health facilities planned (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing tornado damage in Longview (Longview News)
Pot ad features King sheriff, blasted by other sheriffs (Longview News)
Lacey budget maintains staff, programs (Olympian)
Ridgefield bans marijuana sales (Vancouver Columbian)
GOP officials filing ethics complain on funds transfer (Vancouver Columbian)

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Oct 24 2014

Wal-Mart, zipperheads, Idaho Republicans

by under Bond.

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Being a second-generation Republican – Dad served the 6th District of Washington State as an “R” in the House for many terms, and was deemed a “troglodyte” by that state’s (also Republican) governor for his obstinance over raising taxes and his opposition to motorcycle helmet laws (“If the fools want to kill themselves, why is that our business?”) — this is a tough thing to say:

We are pulling a straight Democrat lever come next month’s county and state elections. Apologies to Butch and Lori Otter, who we respect and admire: If we thought our vote would matter we would throw it Butch’s way. But the reality is that loonies are running the asylum, and it’s time to kick the bastards out.

Never in Idaho politics has extremism so suffused Idaho’s governance. The Religious Right ought to re-think its agenda. They’re acting a lot like intolerant Muslims, and they are downright vicious. Toss ‘em out.

There is so much cronyism going on in Shoshone County with this lot that your public profession for your love of Jesus Christ trumps your ability to run a calculator. If we may quote from the book of Matthew, it was Jesus himself who said:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Once again, let’s toss the Pharisees out. If we have to replace them with Democrats, sorry Dad, so be it.

On to Zipperheads, the rude bicyclists who infest our community in summer, buy nothing, and drive their bicycle-hauling Volvos and Priuses down Moon Pass at 50 miles an hour. Our column in the Shoshone News-Press was killed by an ex-Californian who is one of them. Forty years of reporting in northern Idaho silenced by this bozo, who has run for ever paying public office and never been elected.

We were feeling a tad chastened by this – maybe we got something wrong about these moochie, earth-loving humanoids – until breakfast this morning at the Snakepit on our way back from Spokane.

We were warmly greeted by the morning waitress who said, “We loved your column about rude bicycle riders.” Apparently, the Snakepit has to deal with these people every day, being a trail-head for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. All these cyclists want is free water from them. She points them to the cooler, where the bottled water is, at a buck a pop.

Lastly, on to Wal-Mart. It’s a place everybody wants to pick on. Let us step aside from that noise. Continue Reading »

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