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Posts published in March 2008

A gas high

You may notice the high price for gas today in the Northwest is in Washington state, at $3.84 a gallon. Follow the link, and you learn a little more.

Follow the link, and you'll learn it was reported Sunday at the Shell Station at Friday Harbor - one of the few fuel outlets well out into the San Juan Islands. So that higher price in such a location seems reasonable enough. And from there the high drops to $3.64, at three outlets at Leavenworth, which isn't exactly in the heart of heavy traffic.

But we also find fairly high prices, in the upper $3.50s, at Bellingham, which ought to be on a main line. And some of the lowest prices statewide, at $3.19, are in Bremerton and Aberdeen, which on the basis of their location would seem to have some cause for being a little higher than average.

Day care, another day

Afew lines on today's rejection, in the Idaho Senate Health & Welfare Committee, of additional day care regulation.

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review: "Legislation to impose at least minimal regulations on all Idaho day cares, including those caring for four or more unrelated children, died in committee today for the fourth straight year. . . . Chairwoman Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, raised concerns about some provisions of the bill. Lodge said the measure didn’t adequately account for the cost of inspecting smaller Idaho day cares, which now go unregulated if they have fewer than seven unrelated children. . . . Last year, the House Health and Welfare Committee rejected the bill after members said mothers should stay home with their children."

Ungenerously, but maybe not unreasonably, in our e-mail, this: "I suppose if this bill was for out of State for-profit education companies, additional liquor licenses for Tamarack, bill helping wineries ..... it would have been supported .... safety protecting young children ... ah, maybe next time . . ."

Emerald City, high and low

Seattle is skewing up and down - high income, low income - and rapidly losing its middle, according to an editorial in the Seattle Times today.

It doesn't sound like an overblown assessment. Worth reading.

Lobbying from all over

What follows will be no news to those who follow the lobbyist reporting records - nothing especially new or unusual. But those who don't follow such matters may not realize to extent to which state legislatures - the Idaho edition, in this case - get lobbied by interests from out of state.

Most organizations that send lobbyists are, of course, in-state; many of them are in-state associations and the like. But the roster from out of state is striking, even in states like Idaho where you might not expect a major presence. Almost two-thirds of the other states (33 of them) are listed as being the base for organizations hiring Idaho lobbyists. An abbreviated rundown follows:

bullet Arkansas. Wal-Mart, of course.

bullet Arizona. Four organizations (Development Planning & Financing Group, Johnson & Johnson, M3 Eagle and Rocky Mountain Propane Association) bring on lobbyists in Boise (mainly hiring local talent).

bullet California. 15 organizations reporting a California base show up here, mostly hiring Idaho contract lobbyists. These range from some firms with obvious Idaho connections, like Hewlett-Packard, to (UPS, Merck, State Farm, Phillip Morris) with more national interests. (more…)

Correx

The just-delivered print issue of the New Yorker has a newspaper "correction of the week" from one of our own - the Eugene Register Guard. Text:

"An item about a Thursday event at Diablo's featuring four women DJs on Page 8 of Friday's edition incorrectly identified DJ KaatScratch as transgendered. She describes herself musically as 'transgenred.'"

The meaning of foreign

tanker

Boeing tanker/Boeing

The stunning announcement of the mega-award - a mere $35 billion for now, but maybe $100 billion or more eventually - not going to Boeing has left a lot of people in the Puget Sound wondering what's next. That could be slow growth in the airline industry in the region, or less than that.

The decision may or may not stand, of course. Congress is likely to get involved in this one (and, really, shouldn't it be when we're talking about such huge sums of money?). But one of the issues raised in all this, which seems such an initially simple talking point, winds up pretty complex.

Assembly of the big planes, by the winning Northrup Grummon-Airbus team, would be done mostly in Alabama (which isn't at present ready to handle the work load). But construction would be done mostly in Europe - another major manufacturing job, this one important to national defense, shipped overseas. Which understandably has by itself caused a row.

If that sounds black and white, consider this from the Big blog in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Globalized trade has long been part of the American economic landscape. Many media outlets already are pointing out that China is Boeing's largest foreign parts supplier. And while the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., the parent of Airbus, is based in France, it's been supplying NATO - our allies - for years. The other half of that team, Northrup Grumman Corp., is based in Los Angeles. As for where the Northrop-EADS tanker will be assembled, it'll be on this side of the pond, in Mobile, Ala. The terms "foreign" and "domestic" couldn't be more blurred. So the question is this: Is it helpful or productive in such a border-less world to view trade contracts through such a stark dichotomy?"