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Posts published in “Day: September 20, 2010”

“This is our meeting, and we’ll have it the way we want it”

What you see here is how city council members, and mayors too, get tossed out by voters - when they treat the public with contempt.

Usually when it happens, it's a little more subtle and behind the scenes, since most people who have enough social session to get elected to office - in, say, a city as large as Vancouver - realize that they look like arrogant tyrants when they abuse people at public meetings. Evidently not in this case, and this video seems to be in the process of going viral.

The opposition to Vancouver's elected officials is apt to soon do likewise. Jeanne Harris (who among other things seems to think she's the mayor) in particular, and maybe Tim Leavitt (who seems to have forgotten he is the mayor): Don't be surprised if a recall effort gains some traction before long on the basis of this video.

The real Medicaid numbers

A generation ago, it was the Cadillac queen on welfare: The woman driving an expensive car to pick up her welfare check, which she'd spend on steak, liquor and lotsa high livin' . . . and it turned out to be, as you might expect on actual reflection, a much-repeated tale that was in fact an urban myth: She didn't exist. If she had, she would have been an oddity, a fluke case.

Maybe this Medicaid story making the rounds in Facebook (a couple of friends there posted it) is actually based on a real incident. It comes from a Mississippi physician who treated a patient in the emergency room, "whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone." His takeaway was that " a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance."

Which drew in some places around the nets a loud, "right on . . ."

The references by the writer to the patient's use of cigarettes, alcohol and junk food - failing to take care of his own health, in other words - were logical. Less so the rest. Most took part replacements of gold are not, contraintuitively, the most expensive but rather the cheapest (and you might assume that kind of dental work wasn't discretionary). The cultural knicknacks may be discretionary enough, but buying them all, even in bulk, wouldn't have mattered: The price of a month's decent health insurance would cost many multiples of what all those items taken together do. But it makes but a rousing emotional story.

A little like one out of Utah that has caught some interest in Idaho. There, state Representative Ronda Menlove proposed that some Medicaid patients (exactly which seems as yet a little unclear) be required to work at community service.

In Idaho, state Representative Steve Thayne, R-Emmett, was quoted as saying, ”I think it would work. Medicaid recipients would be able to demonstrate gratitude or pay back the community. It would, at the very least, give them a sense of self-worth.”

Evidently, they'd be worthless if they couldn't work.

The Twin Falls Times News, in an editorial calling the work-for-Medicaid proposal "a dumb idea," offered the most pertinent relevant information: Who exactly has Medicaid assistance. In Idaho (and this is probably somewhat similar to most states), 63% are children. (Should they be put to work?) 22% are disabled (how about them?). Eight percent, elderly (yes?). And another seven percent, with a wide range of circumstances. Might some of them be able to contribute some sort of community service? Maybe.

And if one can be found, you'll probably be hearing all about standing in for all those lazy Medicaid recipients getting rich off the taxpayers . . .

This week in the Digests

weekly Digest

Economic indicators stayed on their depressed track last week, as unemployment in the Northwest stubbornly stayed high. State government revenues remained depressed as well, and several stories of cutbacks surfaced in all three states. Several new business openings reported, though.

These points remained top of mind even as the region moved definitively into fall campaign mode, and viewers started watching an increasingly steady stream of political video ads.

As a reminder: We're now publishing weekly editions of the Public Affairs Digests - for Idaho, Washington and Oregon - moving from a monthly to a weekly rundown of what's happening. And we're taking it all-electronic: The print edition will be moving to e-mail.

That means we can include more information, and get it out a lot faster: The weekly Digests will be in your in-box first thing Monday morning. If you subscribe, of course: That's $59 a year, for 50 issues and the yearbook. Yes, including the yearbook. The Idaho Yearbook, which we published for years up to 2002, will return early in 2011 - in printed book form - and Digest subscribers get it for free with their subscription. And the Oregon and Washington yearbooks will be coming out at the same time.

If you'd like to take a look at one of the new weekly Digests, here's a link to the Idaho edition, to the Oregon edition and to the Washington edition. If you'd like to subscribe, here are the links (through to PayPal) for Idaho, for Oregon and for Washington.