Writings and observations

Dogs packed for shipment. (photo/source unknown)


linda LINDA

Dear Governor Brown,

I’m writing to you on behalf of the dogs and cats of Oregon, and the dogs and cats of California.

On January 13, in Brooks, Oregon – just a few miles north of our capital city of Salem – the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and staff from the Willamette and Oregon humane societies seized over 130 dogs that were stashed in crates in a 7500 sq. ft. warehouse. The dogs were without adequate space, water, or food; and they were in need of medical care.

Why I’m telling you about this? Well, because the majority of those dogs came from the Porterville, California animal shelter.

Why were they found in a warehouse in Oregon? Because California’s shelters are so overfull of dogs that your shelters are sending them by the truckloads up to Oregon and Washington – to rescues they know nothing about.

On behalf of the reputable, responsible rescues in Oregon and Washington, I am embarrassed and ashamed that this situation developed. Rescues and shelters up here are stepping up to help these dogs; and we’ll make it right. We don’t like that this happened and I’m pretty sure that the fallout from this will contribute to making some changes in how rescues in this state operate.

But, more to the point, over the last several years we have become increasingly concerned about the numbers of dogs that your shelters are shipping out of state. We’re concerned because your counties appear to be doing nothing to stem the flow of dog production that is causing this situation. We’re concerned because the dogs are being dumped all over the country with little to no review or evaluation of the shelters and rescues to which they’re being sent. We’re concerned because they are leaving your state in poor health: full of ticks and fleas, intestinal parasites such as giardia and coccidia, and infected with heartworm, parvo, and distemper; they are dogs who have sat in shelters for weeks with untreated injuries ranging from severe scrapes and abrasions to broken legs. We’re concerned because nobody is monitoring the transports as dogs are packed in crates and stuffed into unheated, unventilated vans and driven 16 to 20 hours with no water or potty breaks or food, by uncertified drivers. We’re concerned because the dogs (and cats) arrive dehydrated, ill, un-spayed or -neutered, and carrying new strains of diseases that weren’t previously present up here. And we’re concerned because as small, local rescues and shelters we know that we barely have enough space and resources to help Oregon and Washington dogs let alone the thousands you send out of state each year.

What we don’t understand is why the folks in California are doing virtually nothing to clean up your problem – instead you seem to be perfectly content to continue shipping dogs to every part of the country: New England, the Mid-West, Canada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington; you name the state or the province, and they’ve likely had several shipments of dogs from California’s major Central and San Joaquin valley shelters: Merced, Modesto, Salinas, Devore, Bakersfield/Kern County, Porterville/Tulare County, Orange County, and Los Angeles (including Lancaster). The word is out that these are now some of the highest “kill” shelters in the country. And the dogs don’t die easy: Often they’re finally killed only after they’ve developed pneumonia, or any one of several other respiratory diseases constantly present in the shelters. Being born in or put into these and a number of other California shelters is a certain death sentence – and that’s why other states are ending up with California’s unwanted dogs and cats.

Do you have any idea of the mental toll taken on shelter staff when day after day they have to kill frightened, loving animals because the people who should have been responsible for them shirked that responsibility? Weekly – sometimes even daily, the shelter workers in California have to kill dogs they’ve come to know – they’ve seen them arrive at the shelter bewildered and terrified – unable to understand how they ended up in this place that reeks of illness and death. They’ve watched as the days tick by, and some of the dogs begin to maybe hope that they will live, and others give up – knowing they will never leave this place alive. And then, these same people have to do what the dogs sensed the day they arrived.

So the shelters, and the rescue workers in California have been happy and relieved to find that there are places to send these dogs, and people to help them. The citizens of California have failed in their responsibility but someone else has stepped up. And they don’t question too much, the good luck of the dogs – they’re just grateful that when they send 60, or 70, or 80+ dogs out the doors, it means they have that many fewer euthanizations to perform that week. Unfortunately taking all of these animals from your shelters and finding them forever homes isn’t always the fairytale ending that we’d like to see. I’ve no doubt that some of these folks who take 60, or 70, or 80 dogs at a time mean well – it’s hard to turn your back on a dog shaking in the back corner of a kennel – knowing that by leaving it you’re committing it to certain death.

Unfortunately, hearts are larger than resources – and messes like the one in Brooks happen. As one rescuer commented: “I really wonder when the people of California will pull their heads out of [the sand] and do something about pet overpopulation. The Orange County shelter alone serves a population of over 4 million people; it’s ludicrous. Oregon and Washington – we have our own issues….it’s heartbreaking and it’s sad and it wrenches my gut that in my house tonight I have two senior boxer boxer/mixes who were “saved” from California…NOT. Lucky them, they found their way to my house and will be rehabbed and adopted…for those that have died, still not safe, I honestly lose sleep and am an emotional wreck because of the naivete of all of us who thought “everything would be all right.”

Governor Brown: California has a mess, and you all need to get your act together and clean it up instead of allowing someone else to do it for you. Because, the emotional and financial resources for the people who have been helping are dwindling quickly. We can’t help you much longer – we can barely take care of our own.

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mendiola MARK


Calling the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington a lost opportunity, Bank of Idaho President and Chief Executive Officer Park Price says if Congress and the White House can successfully resolve the looming debt ceiling and sequestration budget controversies, he expects robust economic growth in Idaho and the United States during 2013.

If agreement is not reached, America will teeter and lurch back into recession, he anticipates, noting the federal sector accounts for 20 percent of the economy.

Noting that six million jobs have been lost since the nation’s economic meltdown of 2008, Price says he hopes 2013 will see business start to hire more people, which is a must for the nation to pull out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

But uncertainty over whether the U.S. will default on its national debt or whether massive automatic federal budget cuts will be imposed by sequestration on March 1 has companies reluctant to resume hiring. When they are forced to lay off quickly, they tend to hire slowly, says Price, who earned an economics degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

“Businesses hate uncertainty,” Price says. “The longer this goes on, the harder it is on the economy.”

For 13 years, Price specialized in capital investments for General Motors. From 1979 to 2003, he owned and operated Park Price Motor Co. in Pocatello, which was founded by his father in 1947. In July 2003, Price became president of the Bank of Idaho, which has seven branches in eastern Idaho and real estate offices specializing in mortgage originations in Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. He became the bank’s CEO in 2010.

The recent disappointing fiscal cliff debate resulted in some tax increases with no spending cuts. A more comprehensive package was needed on a grander scale, Price says, adding that deficit spending cannot be sustained at its torrid pace.

“It’s clear that the path we’re on is unsustainable. We continue to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren. It is morally unacceptable to tolerate this,” the former Pocatellan says.

On the other hand, if spending is cut too aggressively, it could be a shock to the economy, tax revenues could fall and the federal deficit worsen, he cautions, urging that cuts be done gradually, not drastically. Congress won’t agree to raise the federal debt ceiling as President Obama wants without significant spending cuts, he observes.

Because of the fiscal cliff outcome, taxes are now off the table, Price notes, stressing he hopes cooler heads prevail as the new Congress gets organized. “Unfortunately, we don’t have much time,” he says.


Bank of Idaho President/CEO Park Price converses with Pocatello philanthropist Dorsey Hill and Dr. Bill Stratton, retired dean of the Idaho State University College of Business, following a Pocatello Rotary Club presentation.


“Sequestration” was incorporated into the Budget Control Act of 2011 to task a “super committee” with cutting the federal budget by $1.2 trillion through 2021, but because it failed to do so, the entire federal budget will be subject to a series of mandatory, immediate cuts – with the defense department taking the biggest hit.

Price said it is possible sequestration could take effect. “That’s like trying to do a difficult surgery with a meat ax. You probably cut the problem off, but there are lots better ways to do it,” he remarks, adding it would cause huge layoffs in the public and private sectors that would hurt the economy.

The Idaho National Laboratory, Boeing, General Electric, General Dynamics and universities dependent upon federal research grants and government contracts could be hard hit if budgets are slashed.

Battelle Energy Alliance has announced it plans to cut 450 jobs at INL this year after eliminating about 180 positions in 2012. CH2M-WG Idaho, the contractor in charge of the Idaho Cleanup Project at INL, reduced about 400 jobs last year. Sequestration could trigger more draconian cuts.

The economy could absorb $2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, but sudden massive curtailments ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent would hurt it and cause unintended consequences, the Idaho Falls banker says.

Polarization in Congress between those opposed to spending cuts and those opposed to tax increases is the crux of the problem in Washington, causing a high degree of rancor and distrust, Price says, calling for compromise on both sides. He advocates reforming the complex, Byzantine U.S. tax code as part of the solution, which could lower tax rates by broadening the tax base.

“This tells me the division between the conservatives and the liberals is too tough right now. Hopefully, the results of not dealing with this are so drastic that people will come to their senses,” Price says.

If Washington can avoid sequestration and a default on the $16 trillion national debt, Price sees the nation’s economy growing by 3½ percent to 4 percent in 2014 and 2015. The U.S. economy’s growth in 2012 was an anemic 1.8 percent as compared to Idaho’s 3.4 percent growth last year. The Federal Reserve projects the U.S. growth to be 2.5 percent in 2013.

In 1947, manufacturing as a percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product was 14 percent and the sector employed 33 percent of the U.S. work force. In 2005, it was 14 percent of GDP, but the sector only employed 10 percent of the work force. “This sector has been on the decline for 60 years, and the decline isn’t abating,” he says.

If gridlock can be averted in the nation’s capital, Price sees Idaho’s economy poised to surge another 4 percent in 2013. He credits strong commodity prices and good farm employment as a huge reason the Gem State’s economy has done so well the past three to four years. Noting that the agriculture sector can he cyclical, he cautions that a weather event, a price event or disease could change that favorable equation.

When asked how inflation has stayed subdued despite consecutive $1 trillion deficits the past four years, Price quoted former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson who said the United States is “the best horse in the glue factory” compared to other nations.

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Idaho Mendiola

stapilus RANDY

The View
from Here

Boise attorney John Runft has addressed a point that ought to be put to gun advocates coast to coast. But did he address it as they would – and has he thought through the implications?

Interviewed on KIVI-TV in Nampa, he was enthusiastic in his discussion of the Second Amendment, saying there was even an “anti-government” aspect built into it. (I’d love to find the specific validation for that argument.)

But he also acknowledged something that some gun advocates seem not to, that there are limits even to the Second Amendment: “Do you have the right to bear a bazooka? The right to bear an atomic bomb? Absolutely not.”

No argument on that here. But I would argue this: Bazookas (defined in Wikipedia: “a man-portable recoilless rocket antitank weapon, widely fielded by the US Army”) and nuclear weapons clear are “arms”. (Remember the nuclear arms race.) Not much question about that either.

So: By Runft, it is okay to ban some arms. Next question: If we can ban bazookas from private use, why not semi-automatic weapons? From where comes the private constitutional right to possess one but not the other?

A question, then, posed to any and all gun advocates: Should weaponry such as nuclear weapons and bazookas be allowed for private ownership in the United States? If not, why not, if your argument that a right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?

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carlson CHRIS


For years, the conventional wisdom among Idaho political insiders has been the state’s two best campaigners were Cecil Andrus, the Democrat, and George Hansen, the Republican. Each had the rare ability to walk into a room of strangers and leave a half hour later with everyone feeling they had personally connected with the candidate and liking him, regardless of party affiliation.

Each had charisma and command presence, in part because each was more than six feet tall. Each had a keen intellect that could reduce complex issues to digestible parts. Each used humor effectively, though Andrus was better at self-deprecation. Neither were great orators but each could speak in lay-man’s language with passion and listen with compassion.

Each had a great memory. They rarely forgot a name or the face. Both had the stamina to begin a day greeting Idaho National Lab bus riders at 4 a.m. and give a stem winder speech that night. They had intensely loyal followers for many years, and some are still around. Hansen and Andrus worked their way up in politics, Andrus starting as the state senator from Clearwater County in 1960 and Hansen as Mayor of Alameda, a suburb of Pocatello in 1960.

Hansen was the first to achieve higher office, knocking off then Democratic incumbent Second District Congressman Ralph Harding from Blackfoot in 1964 in spite of the landslide presidential election of Lyndon Baines Johnson (the last time a Democrat president took Idaho). Hansen quickly turned his sights on Frank Church’s Senate seat, but lost a hard fought race in 1968.

Andrus lost both the 1966 primary race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and then the general election to Republican Don Samuelson. Andrus defeated Samuelson in a rematch in 1970 and went on to win the governorship three more times.

The Second District seat was taken by Orval Hansen (no relation to George), an attorney and state senator from Idaho Falls who served in the House until 1974 when George Hansen decided to reclaim his old seat. He easily dispatched the other Hansen in the Republican primary. George Hansen served 10 controversy-filled years before narrowly losing the 1984 election to Richard Stallings, a history professor at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho).

Before returning to the House, though, George Hansen took one more run at the U.S. Senate seeking the seat being vacated by Len Jordan in 1972. Hansen lost the August primary in a four-way race to First District Congressman Jim McClure, who also defeated former three-term governor Robert E. Smylie and Glen Wegner, a young lawyer and doctor from Kendrick.

In October, reporter Daryl Lembke, of The Los Angeles Times’ San Francisco bureau visited Idaho to profile the increasingly close race between McClure and the Democrat’s nominee, popular and charismatic Bud Davis, the president (on leave) of Idaho State University. Among those who the reporter visited was Hansen.

Hansen let loose with a charge that went mostly unreported in Idaho media except for the weekly Intermountain Observer which reprinted Lembke’s story about two weeks before the election. Hansen charged that in the fall of 1971 he met with McClure and representatives of four major Idaho corporations – Idaho Power, Boise-Cascade, J.R. Simplot and Morrison-Knudsen.

At that meeting, McClure and the four corporate poobahs tried to entice Hansen to drop out of the race. They feared that if George stayed in he and McClure would split the conservative vote thus handing the nomination to former Governor Smylie, a liberal no longer liked by many Republicans and who finished last in the primary.

And what was the quo for this quid pro should Hansen have accepted? Hansen said the four major businesses and McClure pledged to support Hansen as the Republican’s preferred nominee for governor to run in 1974 against Cecil Andrus. Hansen refused and bitterly condemned, according to Lembke, “a powerful few making it their business to arrange the political climate in Idaho .”

Even more surprising, McClure confirmed Hansen’s story to Lembke, telling him he saw nothing wrong with attempting to prevent fragmenting the conservative vote.

All this came as news to Cecil Andrus who said this was the first he had heard of it, when contacted and asked to comment. “I am sure this all would have been a surprise to Lt. Governor Jack Murphy,” Andrus said, adding “Murphy always thought he was the only candidate the GOP ever thought of running against me.”

Andrus slaughtered Murphy, 73 per cent to 25 per cent, and undoubtedly would have also defeated Hansen, but more like 58 per cent to 42 per cent. But it would have been a heavyweight bout worth watching.

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A Willamette River waterfront sculpture in downtown Corvallis, looking out toward the old Benton County building. (photo/Randy Stapilus)


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rainey BARRETT


A few days after the 2012 general election, we opined in this space the President had become stronger and Congress weaker – that the election had altered the balance of power in favor of the White House. A couple of correspondents said we were wrong – that the President had received no “mandate” and Republicans still controlled the House of Representatives.

In the weeks since, the President’s approval rating has gone up while Congress is now down to unprecedented polling levels – falling in favorability below colonoscopies and root canals. Obama has – with full assistance of that Republican “majority” – secured a stronger bargaining position while Congress – especially the House – has become a swamp.

To the aforementioned skeptics, we now safely advise – it’s gonna get worse for the GOP. And it will be at their own hand.

Several Republican 2016 presidential wannabee’s are already flitting about the country, doing dozens of media interviews, popping more antacid pills because of all the rubber chicken dinners attended and proposing all sorts of new legislation to make the party more “open and welcoming” They’re demonstrating – in spades – they haven’t a clue how to improve the standing or acceptance of the GOP. It’s just so much verbal flatulence.

In weeks since the election, there’s been a single, lifelong Republican voice worth the hearing. After accurately quoting the ignorance of former Republican governors Palin and Sununu, he said this:

“Let me be candid. My party is full of racists and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.”

Colin Powell also accused his own party of ignorance – of intolerance of different views – of demanding ideological purity rather that proposing solutions to the nation’s many problems – of failing to offer an acceptable and viable alternative to the Democrat Party – of failing to understand the fundamental changes of ethnicity taking place in this country today.

To the minorities the GOP is trying to attract – to the independents with whom the GOP must connect – to disaffected Republican moderates who have been exiled from the GOP table – Colin Powells may be the most respected Republican voice in the country today. If other Republicans of similar stature don’t follow his lead – if the Party continues to ignore such right-thinking – there will be Democrats living uninterruptedly in the White House for the next 30 years or more. And controlling Congress.

To the Rubios, the Santorums, the Bachmans, ol’ Newt and the other rabbits out there, all that’s needed are some speeches, some new immigration legislation – some talk of a “big tent” – some new curtains in the windows. So, that’s what they’re proposing. And they’re dead wrong.

What’s absolutely necessary – before any of that – is a change of culture within the Party. Culture. Top to bottom. Culture defined by doing. Culture defined by change. Culture defined by action. That’s really what Powell was saying.

But don’t look for significant action despite the wisdom of his words. Don’t look for any fundamental changes within the Party. Because to change the basic culture you have to change the people in charge – the people who make decisions – the people who have the power. And they’re not about to easily give that up. The far right worked long and hard within the national Republican Party organization for several decades before getting their hands on the machinery of committee structure – control of nominations- of electing “their people” to office. They run the place. And changing the culture is not in their DNA. Because they typify the culture that needs changing most.

Powell’s message was, it seems to me, directed as much to Republican moderates – if any there be – as it was to the right wing now calling the shots. I think he was saying to all Republicans to the left of the fringy right – We’ve lost our relevancy – we need to regain our balance – we need to demonstrate Republicans are responsible and responsive. We need to go back to our roots and conduct ourselves and our party by articulating and doing what we learned and used to do very well. And, if those things are going to happen, you and I are the ones to do it.

Though 2014 is far, far away – and 2016 even further – if the heartfelt admonitions and advice from a most respected American are unheeded within his party – the outcomes of those future contests are not hard to predict. There will be no viable second party in our two-party system.

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cascades RANDY

of the

We’ll concur here with Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News Tribune in hauling out the dictionary and declaring that talk – like that of Democratic Seattle Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles – that the new management of the Washington Senate amounted to a coup, is excessive.

It i certainly unusual, at least in the Northwest, for two members of one party (Democrats) to break away and join with the opposing (Republican) caucus to form a new operating majority, after the general election apparently had left the Democrats in charge.

But they did it according to the rules – the majority rules. Which they changed, as well, on Monday, opening a tasty assortment of changes that could wind up benefiting either side.

If the “coup” talk among some Democrats was a little much, so too was the talk among some Republicans that theirs was a “bipartisan” coalition. Not really. When the two Democrats who shifted over were a former Republican legislator (Rodney Tom) and a near-Republican breakaway of long standing (Tim Sheldon), that’s hardly the case. When a Democrat came up with the label for their governing caucus as BINO – Bipartisan in Name Only – that sounded like a joke destined to stick, because there was truth in it.

But the governing caucus is legit.

This majority does however has the look of a highly flammable coalition. The demands of a single member could throw it into question, which is why one-vote majorities always have a hard time keeping effective control. If the caucus is closely cohesive and not given to firey displays of personality, it can work. But it only takes one to create a serious issue, and there are some distinct personalities in this caucus.

They’re running a high-wire act. All the Senate Democrats have to do is sit back and watch … and comment.

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Washington West of the Cascades

NW Reading

Excerpts from Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s State of the State address today.

The Oregon Business Plan, which has guided our work over the past two years, is built on three pillars: creating 25,ooo jobs per year through 2020; raising Oregon’s personal income levels above the national average by 2020; and reducing Oregon’s poverty rate to 10 percent by 2020. These three pillars recognize that private sector job creation is the foundation of an enduring prosperity – but they also recognize that prosperity must lift people in every community in every corner of our state; and that without reducing poverty, all Oregonians will not have their shot at the American Dream.

And that means that over the next two years, our commitment to these second two pillars must be no less than our commitment to the first.

Far too many Oregonians continue to struggle with unemployment, debt and the rising cost of health care. That is the urgency you bring with you to the 77th Legislative Assembly. And that sense of urgency is at the core of the budget I sent you last month – a budget that reflects the priorities that have guided us over the past two years: putting children, families and education first; investing in jobs and innovation; and reducing the cost of government. It is also a budget built on the assumption that even with constrained resources, we cannot wait to begin reinvesting in children, in families and in education.

When I first came to the Legislature in 1979, kids could drop out of Roseburg High School in the 10th or 11th grade and get jobs in the woods and the mills with good wages and benefits. Those days are long gone – and over the past few decades, the economic benefits of education have steadily grown. In 1979, the average college graduate made 38 percent more than the average high school graduate. Now, the average college graduate makes over 75 percent more. And more than 60 percent of the jobs in the next decade will require at least a technical certificate or associates degree – yet only 67 percent of our students are graduating from high school, taking them off the path to economic security. …

Although we have made huge progress – moving toward a seamless integrated educational system from early childhood through college and career – we’ve not yet had the resources to seriously invest in our 40-40-20 goals. It is clear to me that the entire enterprise of public education is underfunded at all levels. And it’s also clear that we can’t meet our 40-40-20 goals without a significant reinvestment of resources into the classroom.

To make that happen, a couple of things are required. In the long term, we need comprehensive reform of Oregon’s system of public finance. That’s going to take time, it’s going to take a strategic approach, it’s going to take discipline – and over the past eight months, we have begun to build the coalitions and the infrastructure necessary to make that happen.

But we can’t wait for comprehensive revenue reform to begin to reinvest in the classroom if we hope to achieve the educational and economic goals we have set for our state. It will not be an easy task but it is an urgent one. We may have succeeded in erasing our budget deficit, but we continue to face severe fiscal constraints – which means we need to make room in our current budget to being reinvesting in the classroom and other in other crucial public services today.

I am prepared to stand with you in making the difficult choices that will be necessary to do so, which include: reducing the cost of health care and corrections; reducing the cost drivers that are diverting resources from the classroom; and undertaking serious review of Oregon’ tax expenditures.

Let me start with health care, which is perhaps the fastest growing cost for individuals, families, businesses and state government. The new care model being developed by our Coordinated Care Organizations is projected to hold medical inflation in the Medicaid program to 3.4 percent starting in the second year of this biennium. That will save $100 million in the general fund in 2013-15; nearly $200 million in the 2015-17 biennium and $400 million the following biennium. In other words, the delta created by holding medical inflation constant creates a huge and growing opportunity for reinvestment as we go forward.

Therefore, our long-term ability to reinvest in public education depends to a large extent on our success in proving up this care model in the next biennium and then to extend it into the private market. If, for example, we could move public school teachers and state employees into the same kind of high quality, low cost care model being developed by our CCOs, the estimated ten year state savings could be as much as $5 billion. This would be a game changer for state finances and could lead to a huge competitive advantage for Oregon businesses both large and small.

Corrections is the second area where cost reduction is both needed and possible. Along with the cost of health care, the relentless growth in the Department of Corrections is one of the major reasons we cannot adequately invest in education; or in community corrections and other proven crime prevention measures at the local level.

It cost $10,000 a year to keep a child in school but $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison. Our prison forecast predicts the need to build 2,300 new beds over the next decade at a cost of $600 million – and that most of those beds will be occupied by non-violent offenders. And the fact is that this $600 million – if spent on public education – would keep hundreds of people out of the criminal justice system in the first place.

That is why Oregonians deserve the careful and objective consideration of the policy options forwarded by the Public Safety Commission to keep our communities safe while reducing the cost of corrections. There is an opportunity here to find alternative and effective ways to sanction non-violent offenders, invest in proven crime prevention and community corrections strategies instead of additional prison beds.

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A rendering of the planned patas monkey exhibit at the Boise Zoo. (image/Boise Zoo)


An advance look at the new exhibition buiilding for Boise Zoo’s patas monkeys, expected to be unveiled this summer. Efforts toward the new building were launched last year after one of the monkeys was killed by a human intruder.

Economic and legislative stories dominated the news in the Briefings across the three Northwest states, as legislators prepare to do their thing for 2013.

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Last week’s Idaho column was about the two sides that Idaho’s U.S. House Republicans – insurgent Raul Labrador and establishmentarian Mike Simpson – have taken in the new Congress. A piece in the Idaho Statesman (paywalled) today aggressively underlines that.

A split between the two has become direct and personal, Simpson calling Labrador “irresponsible” and more for his role not only in the fiscal cliff battle, but also for his decision to withhold his vote for John Boehner as speaker. That, he said, will hurt him down the road – severely damaging his credibility. Simpson added, “As anyone who’s ever been in a legislative body will tell you, you’ve got one thing going for you and that’s your credibility. And once you lose that credibility its gone and gone forever.”

Labrador shot back, calling Simpson a “bully” and “an old-school legislator who went to Washington, D.C., to compromise.”

In backing up his side, Simpson told a story about himself, one I saw unfold years ago, when he was in the Idaho House. Back in the early 80s when Simpson joined the Idaho House, he was known as an ideological hardliner, and he was considered well to the right of House Speaker Tom Boyd, with whom he was in leadership in the later 80s. In 1990 he ran against Boyd to oust him, and an in the caucus vote Boyd won.

Simpson recounted how, in the floor vote to formally elect a speaker, he joined the other Republicans in voting for Boyd. But there’s more to the story. In the following 1991 and 1992 sessions, Simpson didn’t sit back and sulk, and he didn’t trying to engineer an angry guerrilla war. Instead, in the sessions that followed he became a more productive legislator than he ever had been before, pushing through a batch of significant legislation, from a “Truth in Taxation” measure to legislation amending mandatory minimum sentencing laws, bills that crossed ideological lines and marked him as a serious legislator. The upshot was that when Boyd retired from the House in 1992, Simpson easily won the speakership. And eventually, put him in good position to run for Congress.

Labrador has taken, so far, a rather different route. We’ll see where it gets him.

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