Archive for December, 2010

Dec 27 2010

Upcoming: 12 stories, 5 trends of 2010

Published by under Northwest,website

In this low-news week – the stretch between Christmas and New Year’s almost always is – we’ll take a look back at 2010 in the Northwest through two lenses.

First, a dozen “indicative” stories – high-profile news of the time that has significance beyond the daily news cycles. Then on Friday a rundown of five larger trends that seemed to shape events in the Northwest (and sometimes far beyond).

The upcoming dozens stories aren’t intended to match up to the regular news media lists of top stoties of the year. The standards are different; ours are measured less by the blaring size of headlines than by their larger significance.

For example. The Oregonian and the state’s news organizations would be remiss if, by their usual standards, the story of the disappearance of Kyron Horman didn’t rank high, or even at the top. It generated endless huge headlines (which far outran actual news), and local TV spent a whole lot of time on it. It was high-interest, without a doubt. But as to its larger significance? Not so much, unless you include addition of yet another round of security at some area schools. So Kyron won’t show up here.

The stories related to relatively specific events or chains of events. The trends are bigger picture; if something major doesn’t show up among the initial dozen, it may be swept up within the five trends.

The stories and trends are numbered, but don’t take from that a serious rank order of significance: It’s mainly a way of keeping track (for reading and writing) of where we are. But for various reasons, they all do merit a little head-scratching.

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Dec 21 2010

Another seat for Washington

Published by under Washington

Washington gets a another seat in Congress, Oregon and Idaho do not.

According to the new run of census data released this morning.

No shock at all for Idaho, which wasn’t close to the margin for an addition, and not a big surprise for Oregon, which a couple of years ago seemed on track but fell back from the edge in the last couple of years.

Washington now (post-2010 elections) has five Democratic and four Republican U.S. House seats. Who gets the new one? Realistically, either party might, because the probability is that a new district will be carved out of south Puget Sound areas that include both strongly Democratic (Olympia-Lacey) and strongly Republican (south Pierce County) turf. Chalk this up as a spot where the work of the state reapportionment commission really may make a big difference.

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Dec 19 2010

Off the turnip truck

Published by under Idaho

Not to get too deep into we-told-you-so territory, but this really was pretty quick. It was only December 8 that we sent up a cautionary warning about a deal that local officials in Payette County seemed ready to jump right into. Their reason for jumping was the same as our cautionary note: The excited promise of quick and easy riches.

At least their counterparts in Elmore County, who also had been dealing with Alternate Energy Holdings and its CEO, Don Gillespie, took their deliberate time. They at least have a lot less ‘splaining to do, and may have saved some other Idahoans from themselves in the process.

One week after our concerned post about how Payette County appeared to be green-lighting a multi-billion-dollar nuclear plant, proposed by Gillespie, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission posted this:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a self-described power company in Idaho with fraudulently raising funds for a $10 billion nuclear power project. The SEC is seeking an emergency court order to freeze the assets of the company and two executives.

The SEC alleges that Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) has raised millions of dollars from investors in Idaho and throughout the U.S. and Asia while fraudulently manipulating its stock price through misleading public statements that conceal the secret profits reaped by its CEO Donald L. Gillispie and Senior Vice President Jennifer Ransom. Gillispie has touted the company as a tremendous investment opportunity that could rival Exxon Mobil in profitability, despite the fact that AEHI has essentially no revenue and minimal operations.

A side note. The SEC said in its release that it “acknowledges the assistance of the Idaho Department of Finance,” which makes sense since it is the state agency overseeing securities. So when the plant boosters in Payette County said that the project had the full backing of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter … was Otter up to speed on what was happening at the SEC? Or are we missing something else, because you’d think the governor wouldn’t be jumping onto a project that was about to have the weight of the federal government crash down on it. Would you?

The rest of the SEC release on the case: Continue Reading »

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Dec 17 2010

A boise description, sort …

Published by under Idaho

There was a bit of news, not massive or unexpected, in today’s Roll Call story on Idaho’s first congressional district, and upcoming reapportionment: That outgoing Representative Walt Minnick says he’s done with electoral politics. No big surprise there.

What was most striking was a bit of description in the story on the subject of reapportionment, about the city of Boise – the area most likely to shift from one district (the first) to the other (the second):

Western Boise can be a swing area, according to GOP insiders in the state, and is represented by a Republican in the state Legislature. Still, shifting the boundaries would also bring in a large number of Democrats. That would begin to shift the mostly balanced districts away from each other — they voted nearly identically in the past two presidential elections, with Republican candidates winning handily.

What do they mean by “west Boise”? And which Republican legislator represents all of it? And … oh, never mind.

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Dec 15 2010

The only way

Published by under Washington

All the other options seem to have been closed. There seems not to be a lot of overt criticism of what Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has proposed in her budget offering: A huge slashing of state spending, everywhere from small items like the state tourism and arts offices to big ones like education.

Here, for example, is a description of just a few of the education cuts:

Eliminate K-4 class size reduction funds provided to school districts above the state’s basic education allocations for teachers. Funding is sufficient to reduce class size by 1.8 students per teacher above the state’s basic education allocation. ($216.0 million GF-S)

Eliminate the Highly Capable, or Gifted Program, which provides funding to school districts for educational opportunities designed
to challenge highly capable students. The program serves up to 2 percent of the students in each school district. ($18.6 million GF-S)

Eliminate or reduce smaller programs, grants and allocations, including multi-year pilot programs and specialized programs that are not central to school operations. Program eliminations include the Beginning Teacher Pilot Mentoring Program, Focused Assistance Program, Superintendent and Principal Internship Program, middle and high school applied math grants, Leadership Academy, career and technical education program startup grants, Readiness to Learn Program and Washington Reading Corps. Reductions of 6 to 10 percent are made to several other state programs. ($37.1 million GF-S)

Reduce by 10 percent the Washington Achievers and College Bound scholarships and student outreach programs. ($742,000 GF-S)
Suspend the Student Achievement Program under Initiative 728, which provides smaller class sizes, extended learning time for students and professional development for teachers. ($860.2 million GF-S)

And on and on, page after page.

Again, Gregoire and the legislature are essentially boxed in. The consequences of that are that, as the Horse’s Ass blog put it, “it surely makes for a meaner, poorer, less healthy and less well educated state.”

The people concerned about taxes and spending haven’t, most likely, been looking at the impacts on the other side of the equation. After this session, probably the whole state will be.

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Dec 14 2010

No easy explanation

Published by under Washington

The campaign ad – the key image – showed Washington Senator Patty Murray in those tennis shoes she’s so identified with, stomping her muddy shoes on the backs of a man and two children.

The ad did not come from the Republican candidate in the race, Dino Rossi; it’s hard to imagine him doing it. But a group called the American Action Forum, which likes to position itself as a policy wonkish group, did generate it. The ostensible cause for linking Murray to stomping parents and children was her backing of an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The group Think Progress asked Rob Collins, who runs AAF, how the extension of health insurance for children equates to stomping on them. Here’s the key part of the exchange:

TP: The summary is, your ad had Patty Murray stepping on a child, and the back up claim for that ad in the citation was that she voted for SCHIP. Can you explain how stepping on a child, or voting for SCHIP is akin to stepping on a child?

COLLINS: Well you’re clearly trying to make a point and I appreciate that point and we have a different point of view.

TP: As the leader of a policy think tank, could you explain that to me?

COLLINS: Our point of view is government decreases the ability for this company, for this country to have um, economic freedom. This ad was about small business and as you increase the size of government, you decrease opportunity. When you’re — I mean you’ll have to forgive me, you’re talking about an ad. We did 53 individual ads.

Provision of a service, even a life-saving service, then, is tyranny. That’s the operating logic here. And elsewhere.

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Dec 12 2010

Idaho: Food stamp central

Published by under Idaho

Something counterintuitive: Idaho is something of a food stamp central state. Food stamp recipient rolls have expanded across the country, but more than anywhere else in Idaho, and not by a close margin – about 40%, higher than runnerup Nevada, which is below 30%.

The story in Salon offers a complex of reasons for this. One is the larger than normal drop from fast-expanding to suddenly-slowing economy.

But there are other reasons too, including unexpectedly amenable attitudes in Idaho toward food stamps. A sample:

“But over the course of the recession, Idaho has made it easier for potential recipients to apply. Approval interviews for prospective recipients now take place quickly after applications come in. Wait time has fallen dramatically. And Republican Gov. Butch Otter supported making the program more accessible over the objections of his Republican-dominated legislature. In 2009 the state suspended the “asset test,” wherein applicants to SNAP need to show that they have less than $2,000 in certain assets in order to qualify.”

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Dec 10 2010

Rebel central

Published by under Oregon,Washington

And how are Northwest congressional Democrats responding to the uproar over the proposed Obama-GOP tax deal?

Oddly, the reaction has been only thinly pointed up in the local mass media. But generally, they don’t seem to like it much. To say the least; in fact, they’ve provided much of the core of the opposition.

The Oregonian did have a piece this morning about Representative Peter DeFazio, who offered a resolution urging that the deal not even be allowed on the House floor without changes. (Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to the caucus terms.)

As you might expect with DeFazio, he was blunt in saying why: “This is a bad deal for the American people. The President has allowed himself to be blackmailed by the Senate Republicans and I will not support it. Compromise requires give and take, but once, again, the middle class gave and the millionaires took.”

Representative Jay Inslee of Washington’s 1st district was a seconder; he has remarked, “America should not negotiate with hostage takers. That’s unacceptable. We should work with the bipartisan agreement we have – extension of middle class tax cuts. Our nation can’t afford to balloon the deficit by $700 billion.”

Then there was the letter released yesterday circulated by Vermont Representative Peter Welch, with 54 signers opposed to the deal. They included DeFazio and Inslee but also Washingtonians Jim McDermott and Adam Smith (who has been one of Obama’s first and strongest supporters in Washington, and Oregonians Earl Blumenauer and David Wu. That’s six of the current 11 Democratic House members from the Northwest.

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Dec 08 2010

No problem here

Published by under Idaho

Without getting into the question of whether a nuclear power plant situated in rural Payette County is a good idea, there were a couple of passages in a recent Boise Weekly article about a hearing on the subject that ought to send up a warning flare for people who live in the county.

The event was a December 2 meeting of the Payette County Planning & Zoning Commission, and the agenda item concerned a proposal to build a nuclear power plant, estimated price $10 billion; the applicant is Alternate Energy Holdings. This proposal, if it materialized, would be very large and have a wide range of impacts, as any very large project must, whether it’s overall a good or bad idea. Logically that would, and in most cases and places does, mean that positive impacts are weighed against negatives. Locally, however, not so much.

At the December 2 meeting, representatives of the Snake River Alliance did offer some concerns. The commission chair responded with this:

“Look here. Our governor is in favor of this. Every mayor in our county is in favor of this. Our chamber of commerce is in favor of this. I’m offended that there’s not one positive thing that you and your group has contributed to this discussion.”

Well, that’s it, then; of course there couldn’t be anything wrong in that case, not if all those people are in favor of it.

The second came with a statement and response on the other side of the equation, from AEH CEO Don Gillespie. The Weekly story recounts: “When Gillispie told commissioners, ‘This county will have more money than you’ll know what to do with,’ many of the commissioners beamed.”

Don’t know about you, but when we encounter promises like that, whether spoken, or on late night TV or in spam emails, we check to make sure we’ve still got our wallets. Evidently, people in Payette are a little more … trusting. At least, those who make the decisions there.

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Dec 07 2010

Portland, not Multnomah

Published by under Oregon

To the many commentaries about how Multnomah County delivered the Oregon gubernatorial election to Democrat John Kitzhaber – instead of Republican Chris Dudley, who did win Oregon with Multnomah extracted – this response is in order:

Wasn’t the county of Multnomah. Was the city of Portland.

Along the lines of the cool precinct maps the Seattle Times has been posting online the last few cycles, the Oregonian has up one today showing how and where the two candidates won in Multnomah.

Dudley won, sometimes narrowly, many of the precincts from Troudale east and south (of course, only limited numbers of people live there); and Gresham was split. In one precinct (5602) south of Gresham, Dudley actually won with 70.3%.

But then there are 29 (by my count) Portland precincts that went for Kitzhaber with 80% of the vote or more – all precincts bundled toward the middle of the city, mainly on the east site of the Willamette River. Most of the city’s precincts went decisively over 70% for Kitshaber, but the support seemed to radiate outward, fairly precisely, from the river.

That tracks over to Washington County (which Kitzhaber also won, but much more narrowly). Kitzhaber’s strong precincts were in the Beaverton-Tigard area closest to Portland; away from there, his best precincts were in the community centers (such as central Hillsboro).

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Dec 06 2010

New: The Intermediary

Published by under books

intermediary

What happens when cultures clash, and one person tries to get them to live together?

That’s the most basic subject of the new book from Ridenbaugh Press, The Intermediary: William Craig among the Nez Perces. The book is available online (see below) and from several regional outlets.

At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. A native Virginian on the run, Craig became a mountain man, married into the tribe, immersed himself in two cultures on a collision course. Craig’s story takes us from his flight from Virginia to his days as a mountain man – exploring and trapping for the Hudson’s Bay Company and celebrating at the fabled rendezvous. He married into the Nez Perce tribe and settled on the banks of the Clearwater River, but his travels didn’t stop. William Craig worked with government appointees, the military and the missionaries as well as major leaders of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Cayuse, and other Inland Northwest tribes trying to find a way for them all to peacefully co-exist.

Craig understood that for the tribes to resist the westward movement of the whites was futile; he’d seen the harsh results of armed resistance that eastern tribes experienced and he tried to bring reason and common sense to both sides where fear, anger, and often greed prevailed. His efforts were not always welcomed and his journeys between the Clearwater country to The Dalles and the Willamette Valley we often taken at great risk. He continued in his efforts because to stop was to allow an even greater tragedy.

Told here for the first time, Craig’s story mixes bravery, cowardice, courage, deceit, intrigue – and timeless lessons about the challenges awaiting those who would be peacemakers.

Lin Tull Cannell was born in Coeur d’Alene, raised in the Northwest, and earned a degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She worked in the legal and library fields and as a senior analyst with Yolo County in California. She and her husband, Merk, and children, Scott, Sandi, and Casey, often explored America’s west. She has written on William Craig for the University of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Lin lives in Orofino, Idaho.

Cannell said that she is “a native wanting to learn how my little area of north central Idaho got to be how it is. This work is simply an honest effort to capture and share our history.”

She wrote that “I was born and bred in the interior Northwest, but it was not until I had spent almost 30 years working elsewhere and retired back to north central Idaho that I questioned that which I had always accepted. Returning to my childhood home with the “new eyes” of experience, I especially noticed—and puzzled over—the predominance of non-Indian residents (even towns occupied mostly by white people) on the Nez Perce reservation. Curiosity up, I read old treaties between the United States and the Nez Perce Indian tribe: those, and Francis Paul Prucha’s The Great Father, answered many of my questions about how non-Indians could now be living on Indian reservations.

“As I meandered through the hills and canyons around Orofino, I noticed the name “Craig” here and there on the Clearwater River watershed: the village of Craigmont on the Camas Prairie, Craig’s Ferry on a sign along the Clearwater River, and, in the Lapwai Valley, a Highway 195 marker declaring that William Craig, a former fur trapper and a “bluff, jolly good fellow,” had once lived there. But local libraries yielded little information about Craig. There was no Craig biography other than a magazine article by a local historian, and the usually verbose literature of the fur trade offered but scant paragraphs about him.”

His dramatic story turned out to be central to how the Inland Empire region of the Northwest developed.

Fifteen years in the making, the book was published by Ridenbaugh Press, of Carlton, Oregon, a publisher of books on Northwest public affairs and history.

* Paperback: 244 pages
* Publisher: Ridenbaugh Press
* ISBN-10: 0982466838
• ISBN-13: 978-0982466834

Available through:

Buy here:




and

Ridenbaugh Press estore
amazon.com
area retailers

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Dec 05 2010

What you are and what you say you are

Published by under Oregon

We’ve long had some skepticism about any perfect matchup in Oregon (the point is inapplicable in Washington and Idaho) between a decision to register as a member of a political party, and the decision about who will get that person’s vote.

A useful post on Oregon Catalyst got after some of this, with some specific results from recent exist polling.

Because not all states register voters by party like Oregon does, exit pollsters ask a party identification question “Do you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican or Independent,” rather than a party registration question (“Are you registered to vote as a . . . ?”). This party identification question is probably more accurate than a party registration question when it comes to gauging actual voter sentiment. In 2010 Oregon exit polling, 36% of those who turned out said they considered themselves Democrats, 27% Republicans and 37% Independents. By contrast, the Oregon Secretary of State party registration data among those who voted was 44% Democrat, 36% Republican and 20% other.

The makeup of the 2010 voter turnout in Oregon was identical to that of 2008. In both years, 36% of those who voted were Democrats, 27% were Republicans and 37% were Independents. By contrast, the party identification breakdown nationally in 2010 was 35% Democrat, 35% Republican and 29% Independent. Further, in Oregon those who voted in 2010 said they had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by 16% edge (52-36%), almost identical to the 17% edge Obama had over John McCain in the 2008 election in Oregon. Nationally, the recalled vote for President in 2008 among those who voted in 2010 was 45% Obama/45% McCain.

The post also notes that a lot of the result in Oregon from last month’s election had to do with the nature of voter turnout. The numbers certainly seem to support that.

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Dec 05 2010

Campaign fundraising begins anew …

Published by under Washington

Campaigns for the next run of election aren’t quite yet underway, but you could about hold your breath until they are.

See this note from Sound Politics:

State Rep. Mike Hope (R, 44th) announced this week that he’s running for Snohomish County Executive in 2011. His early announcement is probably in part because he only has until December 10th to raise money until after the legislative session ends (while candidates who aren’t state legislators can raise money throughout the session).

This isn’t meant as a snark at Hope, of course; but it is a bit of snark at a systemic structure that puts candidates in the position of fundraising for the next election before the paperwork on the last one is even done. Is there a better way?

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Dec 03 2010

Killing the Kardashian Kard

Published by under Washington

Northwest press release of the month (last month), no matter if it’s technically a blog post rather than a release. It’s from the Washington attorney general’s office.

The lead: “This news may leave you wondering, what, exactly, is (or was) the Kardashian Kard? In short, it’s a debit card emblazoned with the images of three attractive, if slightly vacant, media darlings: Kim, Kloe and Kourtney. I’m guessing that the Kardashians, known for their plasticity, didn’t immediately grasp the irony of being depicted on pieces of plastic.”

And gets even better from there …

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Dec 02 2010

Identikits

Published by under Washington

An item of interest, found in running this this forthnight’s worth of new Washington state administrative rules (one of the resources, ahem, reviewed in our weekly Digests):

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals obtaining Washington state driver’s licenses with no Social Security number coming from states that have historically had very stable immigration rates, strongly suggesting that Washington has become a state of opportunity in which individuals from other states come here to obtain a Washington driver’s license and falsely use a Washington residence address and then return to their home states. The department has adopted an emergency rule to address this issue, and has consequently seen a rise in the number of applications for identicards. To address this, the department intends to adopt a rule to limit the circumstances under which it will mail original licenses and identicards to out-of-state addresses.

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