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Posts published in January 2014

Homophobic trash

rainey BARRETT


“No one should watch sausage or laws being made.”
That old joke has been around for many, many years. It was probably funny when first used. But time and wide-spread law making incompetence have proven at least the second part of the phrase too often very unfunny. The latest example of that has cropped up in the Idaho Legislature.

Idaho is often called the nation’s “most red state.” It’s probably not. I’d call it a “mooshy crimson.” But the current, right wing edition of the Republican Party has been in nearly complete control for a long, LONG time and shows no signs of fading. Want to get your collie into Idaho politics? Call it a Republican and it’ll get elected to something.

Comes now proof that not all the players in the political game of Idaho legislative politics have 52 cards in their personal decks. This week’s award to someone a few cards short - who’s managed to wrap homophobia, paranoia and irrational thought into legislative sausage - is one Rep. Lynn Luker. Republican? Certainly. By today’s standard. Responsible and wise? Not by any measurement known to rational people.

In what he calls a “pre-emptive strike” for God-knows-what, Mr. Luker has scraped two bills off the sludge at the bottom of the legislative barrel - HB426-HB427 - deciding citizens of Idaho should stand squarely behind new laws codifying homophobia and discrimination. Absolutely. Put ‘em on the books.

One would keep the state from revoking any professional license if the licensee withholds services - or refuses services - on the basis of a “personally held religious belief.” So, if a cab driver cited “personal religious belief” for not transporting a gay couple in sub-freezing temperatures, said driver could just say “My religion keeps me from taking these people in out of the cold.” And that would be that. They might freeze to death by the side of the road, but the cabbie would - in his head - be square with God. And - in Mr. Lukerls world - the State of Idaho.

Luker’s other badly tarnished gem of ridiculousness is in a similar vein. It would amend the Idaho Religious Freedom Act to allow an employer to fire someone for being gay, then hide behind a claim of “religious belief.” “I can’t abide those people,” he/she could say. And that would be that.

Luker - who somehow has his own license as a lawyer - says he’s worried about the future and wants his legislation adopted now because “this is pre-emptive - the issue is coming.” He cited a Gresham, Oregon, baker sued because he wouldn’t bake a wedding care for a gay couple. And the New Mexico photographer who wouldn’t take pictures of a gay wedding, arguing “free speech” and some sort and “artistic freedom” - whatever that is in this instance.

Rep. Luker’s backup in this trashy effort is something called “Cornerstone Family Council Advocacy Group.” A spokesman for the “council” claims governments are increasingly passing or interpreting laws to “keep people from living their faith” - a double standard against people of “traditional religious faiths.” (more…)

Running from different sides

mansfield DENNIS

In the many years that I've worked in politics, I've never quite seen a more curious start to a race for Governor than this year - in Idaho.

Both candidates appear to be running against Barrack Obama - from two different sides. Both want to be more pro-life than the other, as well.

One candidate is an incumbent who joined a small group of three Republican governors embracing Obamacare by developing/supporting a state run health exchange.

All other GOP governors in the US refused to do this.

Another candidate is wrapping his opponent in Obamacare, preparing - as it were - for a political burial at sea.

The sea is an apt description - for we may be about to observe a major sea-change regarding the incumbent's tenure.

Yesterday's exchange on abortion between Butch Otter and Russ Fulcher is a telling case in point. With Obama's partial-birth aborting of his own political "signature-law offspring", Butch Otter unwanted-ly could become an accessory to his own politi-cide - and Russ Fulcher knows it.

Senator Fulcher has regularly attacked Governor Otter, over these past few months, for the incumbent's role in failing to stand with the other Republican Governors in direct opposition top Obamacare. Governor Otter sided with the insurance industry lobbyists in developing the state health exchange. The pro-life community asked him not to do it. He chose a different course.

Yesterday, the Governor attacked Senator Fulcher, attempting to wrap the most pro-life senator in the state Capitol as someone who would be inviting Planned Parenthood into the state to determine policy within a federal health exchange.

Hmmm, what?

Something is happening within the Otter camp - something is unnerving its handlers.

Otter doesn't bother with political slap-fests. In many ways he's always been above it. So this response by his camp is somewhat awkward to watch.

Having run against him, myself, for US Congress, I can tell you that he's cool, calm and collected - always in control of events, causing things to happen without himself appearing to be struggling. He also makes things happen without it looking like he did anything to his opponents - in a sense, above the fray.

But Idaho's demographics are changing - younger people who don't think of Governor Otter as their friend are shying away from elected officials who were against Obamacare before they were for it - and they may see their new premiums as too huge to pay. My guess is they just may vote with their past-due premium notices, tucked inside their depleted checkbooks.

And it won't be for Obamacare's state exchange champion in Idaho. (more…)

On the front page


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)

Boise conference space proposal (Boise Statesman)
Charges of fraud in Meridian firm's trial (Boise Statesman)
Federal broadband funds withheld till legal issues resolved (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Snow getting plowerd (Moscow News)
Search on for new Nampa school leader (Nampa Press Tribune)
Thick inversion clearing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Marsing school lockdown procedure questioned (Nampa Press Tribune)
Cassia costs for Gateway West (TF Times News)
Mental health program issues (TF Times News)

Evictions at Corvalla apartments (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
Georgia trailer maker starts in Coburg (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber: Misled on cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian, KF Herald & News, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Klamath looks at expanding jail (KF Herald & News)
Pot boom predicted (Ashland Tidings)
Teacher negotiations continue (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla goes after junky property (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Business offers new Salem school (Salem Statesman Journal)
Legislative preview (Salem Statesman Journal)

Family of rape victim sies state (Everett Herald)
Jail to cap population (Everett Herald)
Post Office scales back in Everett (Everett Herald)
Prescription med deaths continue (Longview News)
Business groups still organizing (Port Angeles News)
Sea stars turning ill (Port Angeles News)
Senate Republicans back Dream act (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Microsoft about to choose new CEO (Seattle Times)
Comcast opposes rate changes (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma gets 1st charter school in state (Tacoma News Tribune)
Teacher evaluation considered (Tacoma News Tribune)
Oregon wrestles with CRC (Vancouver Columbian)
Dispute over high school artwork (Vancouver Columbian)

A part of the state of the union

trahant MARK


The thing I like about state of unions -- the national kind, the NCAI kind, and the tribal kind -- is that it’s a to do list. Leaders see this is a list of “action items” while I see this as a list of fascinating issues that are worth exploring in future columns.

I want to start with an idea raised by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union message: “Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.”

What would a “year of action” look like in Indian Country? And, more important, how do we get there?

National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby began this year’s State of Indian Nations by talking about so many of the success stories from Indian Country. “Tribal leaders and advocates have never been more optimistic about the future of native people,” he said. But that sense of possibility is “threatened by the federal government’s ability to deliver its promises.”

President Cladoosby released NCAI’s budget request for the coming fiscal year. That document calls for funding treaty obligations with the “fundamental goal” of parity for Indian Country with “similarly situated governments.” As a moral case, and cause, this is exactly right. This is an aspirational document, as it should be.

But in a year of action there needs to be another route forward. This Congress is incapable of honoring treaties. Even in a more friendly era, members of Congress proudly called Indian health a “treaty right” only to appropriate less than what was required. This year’s federal budget essentially is flat (which means less program dollars because Indian Country’s population is growing). NCAI puts it this way: “However, the trend in funding for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior does not reflect Indian self-determination as a priority in the federal budget.”

But it’s not the Interior Department. It’s all of government and especially the Congress. (more…)

On the front page


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)

Restaurant cycling in Boise (Boise Statesman)
Texting hard to enforce (Lewiston Tribune)
Ringo fundraising, legislating (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman draft marijuana rules (Moscow News)
Moscow schools may change schedules (Moscow News)
NNU getting new library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Winmill opens full St. Luke's case (TF Times News, Nampa Press Tribune)
Clash over 'Add the words', service denial (Nampa Press Tribune)
Low snowpack may augur drought (Pocatello Journal)
Otter's wolf program advances (Pocatello Journal)
Dover Mayor Curless quits (Sandpoint Bee)
More security at schools (Sandpoint Bee)
PILT funds ease county (TF Times News)

Witham Oaks plan adjusted (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Local impacts of farm bill (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Aviation program at Klamath College (KF Herald & News)
Local irrigation leaders meet (KF Herald & News)
School district sued in abuse issue (KF Herald & News)
Medford school strike emergency? (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Whoville for homeless can stay 30 days (Eugene Register Guard)
Culture battles expected at legislture (Medford Tribune)
Oregon will start hemp studies (Medford Tribune)
Some Republicans backing same-sex marriage (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
PERS unfunded liability halves (Portland Oregonian)

Boeing stock dropping (Everett Herald)
Luxury movie outlet at Mill Creek (Everett Herald)
PacNW laboratory plans new $10m stucture (Kennewick Herald)
Judge says sex offender data isn't public (Kennewick Herald)
Sun Downs racing delayed (Kennewick Herald)
Flu on rampage locally (Longview News)
Pot issues discussed at Clallam (Port Angeles News)
Boeing chief says soothing ahead with workers (Seattle Times)
Tacomans preferring link to north (Tacoma News Tribune)
McMorris Rodgers insurance claim at issue (Spokane Spokesman)
CostCo praised in Obama speech (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian)
Mabton reinventing itself (Yakima Herald Republic)

On the front page


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)

St Luke's financial plans revealed by judge (Boise Statesman)
Legislators may halt instant racing gambling machines (Boise Statesman)
No voter fraud in Lewis County (Lewiston Tribune)
Property owners may pay for overgrowths (Moscow News)
Personal income stagnant in north Idaho (Moscow News)
Nancolas medical issues block state of city (Nampa Press Tribune)
Logging in Elk Complex fire area (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bill set to allow professionals to deny service to gays (Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Bingham shot dog case in uproar (Pocatello Journal)
Fee dispute over Hoku sale (Pocatello Journal)
Bonner County wants state ban on concealed weapons reporting (Sandpoint Bee)
Canyon jump conflict of interest (TN Times News)

Housing may delay for endangered flower (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Challenge dropped to redevelopment of G-T block (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
H&M clothing may open in Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Hermiston okays wastewater bonding (Hermiston Herald)
KF college board considers aviation (KF Herald & News)
Gap in learning among races, classes (KF Herald & News)
Hwy 99 may lose traffic lanes to bicycles (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford teachers still may strike (Medford Tribune)
Alternatives to expensive college books (Medford Tribune)
Financing the GMO issue (Medford Tribune)
Wind power firm seeks buyer (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton council reorganizes (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Planning underway on Columbia water use (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Audit takes issue with Trimet operations (Portland Oregonian)
Legislature will take on budget changes (Portland Oregonian)
Boise Cascade plant demolished (Salem Statesman Journal)
78% in poll approve of gun background checks (Salem Stateman Journal)

Marysville must rehire police officer (Everett Herald)
Pasco city manager retires (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz utility has legal trouble (Longview News)
Conservation groups oppose wild runs of fishery fish (Port Angeles News)
Shutdown of Pettit Oil reverberates (Port Angeles News)
Jet noise draws complaints (Port Angeles News)
More shakeup at Seattle Police (Seattle times)
McMorris Rodgers SOTU rebuttal (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane police on downtown issues (Spokane Spokesman)
Constitution change to limit taxes (Vancouver Columbian)
Inslee: Close tax exemptions for schools (Vancouver Columbian)
tribe tobacco firm may owe taxes (Yakima Herald Republic)

Government by fiat

rainey BARRETT


Secrecy has its place. Often - as in the case of national defense - secrecy can save a nation. But in matters of our political affairs, secrecy can destroy our liberties and guaranteed freedoms like a cancer. Such a political disease now exists in our country. If not stopped, we’re soon going to be living in a very different nation.

An important request here. Put aside your personal political leanings for a few minutes and look at what’s happening in several states with as unbiased an eye as possible. Though only one political party is currently conducting this onslaught, it could easily be the reverse with a different outcome at the polls in recent elections. The issue of the moment is the dangerous, freedom-killing tactic - not the perpetrator.

In recent months, legislatures in half a dozen states passed major bills affecting millions of lives. They did so without public notice -without public hearings - in more than one instance without even participation of the other political party. Those bills were promptly signed into law by the respective governors - some such executions without advance notice of any kind.

Now, if you’ve been unable to put aside your political makeup - and if you’re a member of the state majority party that has used these treacherous tactics to put laws on the books you agree with - you may just say “Good for our side.” But suppose you were opposed to what happened and you’re now saddled with these new laws. Still feel good? Still happy? Suppose the roles were reversed.

In each instance, the major topics being legislated have been cutting voting access for minorities and direct threats to women’s health care - specifically availability of abortion services. But that’s just today. And maybe you agree with the outcome. But what about tomorrow? What about the next topic? Substitute such things as new taxes, gun controls, discriminating against YOUR ethnic heritage or race, blocking YOUR ability to vote, creating challenges to YOUR private use - or even ownership - of real property. And dozens of other issues. What if new laws YOU vehemently oppose directly affecting YOUR life were being conceived, passed and executed without your participation or even knowledge? What then? (more…)

Risch’s vulnerabilities

carlson CHRIS


Because Idaho is considered the most Republican state in the nation few political prognosticators, whether in Idaho or the nation’s capital, believe Boise attorney Nels Mitchell has a snowball’s chance of defeating the long-serving Republican officeholder.

There’s one big caveat, though, and that comes down to a question of money as in can Mitchell raise enough to pound away on three vulnerabilities for which Senator Jim Risch has no adequate response. If Mitchell can get the funding to saturate the major television markets with good ads exposing these “wounds,” at a minimum he can make what many expect to be a run away Risch victory into a much narrower race.

Here are three concepts for 60-second ads the Mitchell people ought to fine tune and run:

Ad #1: You pay more taxes, Risch pays less.

Recall folks 2006 when then Governor Jim Risch sold the legislature a bill of goods about switching the one quarter of public school funding that comes from property taxes to an increase in the sales tax.

He claimed public education would lose nothing. He was wrong---they lost $50 million and the evisceration of public school funding in Idaho accelerated significantly. Idaho now is 50th out of 51 states and the Federal District, behind even Mississippi in state per pupil support.

Risch claimed no personal benefit from the switch. In a one-day special legislative session in August, while most Idahoans were enjoying vacations, he rammed through the Legislature a bill he knew would lower his Idaho property taxes by at least $4,000. He remained silent about his break while the vast majority got the shaft.

He said if it could be proven he benefitted personally he would drop out of the race. The proof was submitted but he’s still sitting in the Senate.

You can’t afford Jim Risch and Idahoans can’t trust Jim Risch. I’m Nels Mitchell and I authorized this message.

Ad #2 Arrogance

There is only one word that describes it: arrogance. In a December 2012 interview with the Idaho Statesman, Senator Jim Risch said there was no sense working hard in Washington, D.C., because everything is so partisan only grid-lock thrives. (more…)

On the front page


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)

Luna won't run again; Smyser possible? (Boise Statesman, Idaho Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Gun on campus bill introduced (Nampa Press Tribune, Sandpoint Bee)
Asotin County considers pot rules (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston high school remodel considered (Lewiston Tribune)
West of border shopping center plans still alive (Lewiston Tribune)
No changes in farmers market (Moscow News)
New Idaho Womens Business Center leader (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bill on wolf kills progresses (TF Times News)
Gooding searches for new school leader (TF Times News)

Legislative budget adjustment needed (Corvallis Gazette-Times, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Corvallis bus rates drop (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
Philomath signs with new manager (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
New Eugene fireworks rules possible (Eugene Register Guard)
Looking ahead to legislature (KF Herald & News)
New head of Collier logging park, museum (KF Herald & News)
Shady Cover blaze contained (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland community radio increases wattage (Ashland Tidings)
Buckly on budget plans (Medford Tribune)
Teachers conflict draws mediator (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton's Travelers Inn to be auctioned (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hermiston OKs wastewater bond (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Courtney won't go along with CRC (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Federal law may ease hemp ban (Portland Oregonian)
Salem backs river front plan (Salem Statesman Journal)

History museum may close (Kennewick Herald)
McMorris Rodgers touted as on rise (Seattle Times, Kennewick Herald)
Bills would order DNA preservation (Kennwick Herald)
Cowlitz housing improving (Longview News)
Sewer firm owner jailed, fined (Longview News)
Crew demolish Glines Canyon dam (Port Angeles News)
Super Bowl Marijuana business (Port Angeles News)
Port has top administrator in hand (Port Angeles News)
Cost of $15/hour for Seattle city pay (Seattle Times)
Liberty Lake won't allow pot shops (Spokane Spokesman)
City may set barista clothing rules (Spokane Spokesman)
Kitzhaber says CRC dead barring bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Former Selah administrator convicted (Yakima Herald Republic)
Lawsuit says eviction from airfield was wrong (Yakima Herald Republic)