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Posts published in February 2014

The importance of predictability

carlson CHRIS


If you have ever wondered why so many business leaders say they cannot trust units of government, whether local, state or federal, to keep their word and deliver the sine qua non of heavy investment - a safe, secure, predictable business environment, look no further than Bonner County in north Idaho.

The County is currently in court with a high-end developer of upscale hangar-homes, which contain living quarters and private planes or helicopters, on property adjacent to the Sandpoint Airport. Called SilverWing at Sandpoint, the project developers have a legitimate beef with the county that falls under the umbrella of government providing a predictable business development environment.

While SilverWing is a client of my daughter Serena’s strategic communications business, as one who started and built a small business of my own, and as a taxpayer, this being jerked around by a governmental entity is the kind of inconsistent behavior that also truly angers me.

Like any prudent developer, SilverWing did their due diligence and acquired all the required permits from both the city of Sandpoint and Bonner County before building a model home, laying out the streets and putting in the required infrastructure for water, electricity and sewage.

Altogether the owners spent over $5 million developing the site, which may very well be the last of its kind in the United States because the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to adopt a policy recommending against such developments at public airports. The FAA however, well aware of SilverWing, in effect grandfathered it in prior to the adoption of this policy.

So what’s the problem? For reasons hard to fathom, the Bonner County Commission reversed field and has effectively placed a cloud over further sales of these ever-increasingly valuable hangar home-sites by publicly speculating that they might not grant homeowners access to the main runway from the development.

Of course, if the County persists in this stance, it would also be blocking missionary and backcountry high-performance plane builder Quest its access to the main runway because Quest uses SilverWing’s taxi­way and runway access.

Thus far, Bonner County has spent in excess of $1 million taxpayer dollars trying to defend this indefensible mid-stream shift. SilverWing understandably is trying to protect their investment but has made it clear that they would welcome a negotiated settlement that allows them to remove the cloud the county has placed over their project and to proceed. Thus far, Bonner County, through its high priced California law firm, has rebuffed any overtures, despite having so far lost every motion they’ve made for summary judgment or any other legal maneuvering.

SilverWing, for its part, is utilizing the legal services of Boise-based Givens Pursley. When depositions are held, SilverWing sends one attorney, but Bonner County’s team can and often does consist of five or more attorneys and county employees. I’m sure the California attorneys are enjoying cutting the fat hog they think they see in their government contract with Bonner County.

Here’s a prediction though from a non-lawyer, though: The county is holding a losing hand and, when it comes time to pay the piper, the cash-strapped county may be facing bankruptcy if it has no insurance that will cover it in case it loses.

Someone, somewhere in that Bonner County courthouse better start reining in the county’s spendy ways and better start thinking through some “what-if” scenarios.

A little common sense should lead all parties to the conference table and a negotiated settlement fair to all. In the meantime, the next time you hear some businessman say one can’t trust any level of government to keep its word, recount to them this classic example being perpetrated in Bonner County.

On the front pages


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)

Big story of the day in:
ID - State Senate votes for guns on campus
OR - Water levels
WA - Big snowfall in Cascades

Otter directs ISP to investigate CCA (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Oregon minimum wage draws workers (Boise Statesman)
Hatcheries targeted by lawsuits (Boise Statesman)
ID Senate votes for college campus guns (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Lewiston High upgrade considered (Lewiston Tribune)
Whitman County lost ballots (Moscow News)
Moscow won't write legislature on gay ordinance (Moscow News)
Nampa Development Corporation board dissolved (Nampa Press Tribune)
Growth in house sales high (Nampa Press Tribune)
Variance approved for Pocatello mosque (Pocatello Journal)
Fired coach keeps teaching certificate (Pocatello Journal)
Eric Anderson won't run for House again (Sandpoint Bee)
Crapo advises legislature on rules amendment (Sandpoint Bee)
Idaho high on Obamacare enrollment (TF Times News)
Protesters at Filer's city council (TF Times News)

Witham Oaks battle continues (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Cover Oregon site partly open (Corvallis Gazette Times)
OSU hosts bee-pesticide quarrel (Corvallis Gazette Times)
OR Senate would ban local pot bans (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Rob Patridge runs for Klamath DA (KF Herald & News)
Still low water in Southern Oregon (KF Herald & News, Ashland Tidings)
Ashland enhanced water connection (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teachers strike, still (Medfor Tribune)
Some water levels rise (Medford Tribune)
St. Anthony Hospotal to be torn down (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Stanfield considers public safety fee (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Portland averts teacher strike (Portland Oregonian)
Bill on class action finances (Portland Oregonian)
Long-range Metro planning map released (Portland Oregonian)

Everett gets 777X wing project (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Employees at Denney juvenile center sue (Everett Herald)
Sea stars being wiped out (Everett Herald)
URS whistleblower dismissed (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz, Weyerhaeuser made land deal (Longview News)
School superintendent at Kelso quits (Longview News)
New port exec director negotiations (Port Angeles News)
Wildlife concerns about dock plan (Port Angeles News)
Big snowfall in Cascades (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Adjunct professors may unionize (Seattle Times)
Help for immigrants at colleges, to gov (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian)
ID Senate oks campus gun bill (Spokane Spokesman)
Lawmakers on medical, recreation pot markets (Tacoma News Tribune)

Reflecting on headlines

carlson CHRIS


Every so often there are a series of news items and headlines that inevitably bring forth from the memory bank an appropriate “Andrusism” - an expression of Cece’s that encapsulated and often simplified while educating one about the particular situation.

Example #1: Cece would often say “when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” University of Idaho vice president for government affairs and communications, Chris Murray, should reacquaint himself with this one. First, one suspects he inadvisably counseled the University’s next president, Dr. Chuck Staben, to grant his first introduction to a broader Idaho audience through a lengthy telephone interview with the Boise-based Idaho Statesman.

One would think he would have granted that honor to a newspaper in the University’s back yard, like the Moscow-Pullman Daily News or the Lewiston Tribune, but no, it’s the Statesman. If one read the transcript of the ensuing interview, the error was further compounded by not adequately preparing Dr. Staben to provide a more nuanced answer to the obvious question that would be coming on Idaho’s use of the expression “Idaho’s flagship university.”

It would have been easy to duck the entire interview by simply saying “Idaho currently is represented by President Don Burnett. I don’t take over until March 1st."

The University, not having learned its lesson, then announces it is kicking off its year-long 125th in Boise. The Tribune again twits the University for this blindness to taking care of one’s home base first which elicits a long, loud largely irrelevant and personal vent by Mr. Murray against the Tribune.

Andrus has another expression Murray should heed: “Don’t get in a p________ contest with folks that buy ink by the barrel.”

Until then, "Mr. Burnett speaks for the university.”

Example #2. Andrus called it his “no surprises” rule. If you worked for him and there was bad news coming you’d better let him know before he read it in the newspaper. Theresa Luna, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s sister, recently testified before the Legislature’s JFAC and in the course of her testimony revealed that the State might have to come up with another $14.5 million to pay some educational vendors because reimbursement from the Feds was not forthcoming.

Why do I think this came as a surprise to Governor Butch Otter? And why hasn’t Butch fired her? And could this issue waiting to explode have had anything to do with the SPI’s sudden decision not to run for re-election? (more…)

On the front pages


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)

State spending $30 million a year on private attorneys (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Boise may get a bike share (Boise Statesman)
Plenty of truck driving jobs (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah county candidates emerge (Moscow News)
Whitman County approves levy (Moscow News)
Agriculture education bill progresses (Nampa Press Trobune)
Snowpack in Idaho improving (Pocatello Journal)
Planning for memorial field (Sandpoint Bee)
More discussion on possible Canyon jump (TF Times News)
Wolf control bill discussed (TF Times News)
Filer still investigating dog shooting (TF Times News)

More debate over Klamath sheriff budget (KF Herald & News)
Jeld-Wen gets new president (KF Herald & News)
Mount Ashland getting more snow (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford Jazz Festival renamed (Ashland Tidings)
Portland preparing for teacher strike (Medford Tribune)
Blue Mountain psych center may get inmate use (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Merkley at Umatilla town hall meeting (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hermiston looks for new city manager (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Legislature becoming more partisann (Portland Oregonian)
heav wind downs trees and power for 10,000 (Portland Oregonian)
Arts commission may shift organization (Salem Statesman Journal)
Still some drought around Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bill would allow ads in state parks (Everett Herald)
Out of state bidding for work on ferries? (Everett Herald)
Ferry riders may use electronic toll pay (Everett Herald)
New plant might be built at Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
Political impact of Inslee on death penalty? (Longview News)
Rain and winds expected this week (Vancouver Columbian, Longivew News)
Plans to restore the 3 Crabs area (Post Angeles News)
Top salaries for aides to Seattle mayor (Seattle Times)
Exploring offshore wind power generation (Seattle Times)
Spokane city may drop opposition to casino (Spokane Spokesman)
Gay rights backers at Idaho statehouse (Spokane Spokesman)
No flooding, but drought threat diminishes (Tacoma News Tribune)
Longview waterfront gets new backer (Vancouver Columbian)
Maybe heavy snow at Snoqualmie (Yakima Herald Republic)
Dream Act measure may pass legislature (Yakima Herald Republic)

On the front pages


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)

Rain helping ease drought concerns (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
New director settles in at Labor (Boise Statesman)
WA bill would ease college bills (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Snake Canyon jumper still has permit (Nampa Press Tribune)
White Cloud Monument battle (TF Times News)

Witham Oaks center under review (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Ashland reviews gun control (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)

Blocking a bill ending some free parking (Everett Herald)
Snohomish expands mental health services (Everett Herald)
Bill would stop advance college tuition (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
WA legislators older, less diverse than state (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
State converts many in same-sex unions to marriage (Longview News)
Flu has peaked on peninula (Port Angeles News)
Boising will build 777X at Everett (Seattle Times)
Death penalty moratorium has split reactions (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Highway projects outlined (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver council considers oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)

In the WA 4th


There will be a change in Washington's congressional delegation next year. But it may not be a very great change.

All 10 of the state's House seats are up for election this year, but little alteration is expected in most of them. There's some discussion that the 1st district, which in theory is fairly closely balanced between the parties, might be competitive this year; but its 2012 Democratic winner, Suzan DelBene, seems well positioned to hold on to it as matters stand. (And no major opposition has surfaced, either.) Pretty much everywhere else, the incumbents are raising a good deal of money and drawing not a lot by way of strong opposition.

The exception to that came last week when veteran Republican Representative Richard “Doc” Hastings said he would retire, after 20 years in Congress. He cited personal and family considerations as important in the decision, and in his case that sounds about right; he was not appearing to face any political difficulties this year, as he has not ever since his second re-election.

The next question would be whether the seat is up for grabs in a partisan way, and there too you have to figure there'll likely be little change.

The Secretary of State's office helpfully broke out some numbers for the 4th district from the 2012 election, and they showed what most politically-minded people knew: This central Washington district, anchored by Yakima and the Tri-Cities, is a conservative and Republican place. In the 4th, Mitt Romney won by about 22 percentage points (about 143,000 votes to about 91,000). In the close governor's race won statewide by Democrat Jay Inslee, he lost the 4th (which in 1002 had elected him to the U.S. House) by about 87,000 votes to 149,000. Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell easily romped statewide, but lost the 4th. The 4th opposed same-sex marriage by nearly a 2-1 margin, and opposed marijuana legalization (though by a smaller margin) too.

The state legislative delegation in the area is just about all Republican.

A bunch of Republicans were quick to indicate interest in running for Hastings' seat after his announcement, but no new Democrats. That's not hard to understand.

On the front pages


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)

Nampa school levy planned (Boise Statesman)
Eighth and Main building opens (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Boise's Bieter plans new economic approach (Boise Statesman)
Rules on cattle disease (Lewiston Tribune)
Phillips seeks return to Bonner commission (Sandpoint Bee)
Looking toward low water (TF Times News)

Fred Meyer and the civic stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Merkley at Klamath town hall (KF Herald & News)
Cover Oregon insurance activity (KF Herald & News)
Man deals with medical marijuana, pills (Medford Tribune)
Minimum wage in Oregon, and Idaho (Portland Oregonian)
Cover Oregon security leaks said fixed (Salem Statesman Journal)
New downtown Salem parking rules (Salem Statesman Journal)

Veteran home funds at risk (Kennewick Herald)
Rising property taxes at Cowlitz (Longview News)
Chinook run expected to be large (Longview News)
Single-serve coffee pods catching on (Seattle Times)
State files suit over bridge costs (Tacoma News Tribune)
Freeholders still mulling Clark government shape (Vancouver Columbian)
EFSEC board reviewing Vancouver oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)
WA legislators richer, older than population (Yakima Herald Republic)

Household name to – who?

idaho RANDY

After the governor and the four members of the congressional delegation, the Idaho politician with the closest to a household-familiar name probably is Tom Luna, the two-term superintendent of public instruction. A year from now, since Luna isn't running again, the next superintendent will be someone most Idahoans haven't known very well.

The time has come for those candidates to get about the business of defining themselves, or getting defined by someone else. Since the results are likely to be mined for what they say about Idaho, let's have a look at how the field is shaping up so far.

At present, four people have announced for the office. There may be more. Just one of the four has been a statewide figure before: Jana Jones, the one Democrat in the race, who ran for this job in 2006, losing to Luna in the election that made him superintendent. The result was a close Luna win. Jones, who then was chief deputy to Luna's Democratic predecessor as superintendent (Marilyn Howard), hasn't been very visible since. But she surely retains some contacts and the outlines of a campaign organization, and some experience as a candidate, which would help her get started this time. They also may be enough to clear the Democratic side of the field before the primary. As a Democrat she has automatic disadvantages running statewide in Idaho, but then the contest on the Republican side is for now hard to fathom.

Three Republicans have announced: Randy Jensen, principal of the William Thomas Middle School at American Falls, John Eynon, a music and drama instructor at Cottonwood, and (as of last week) Sherri Ybarra of Mountain Home, whose announcement identifies her as having worked as a principal and teacher.

The Idaho superintendent's office traditionally has been filled by professional educators; Luna's election in 2006 was a major break in that informal rule. But so far, everyone now running appears to hit that bar.

So how do Idahoans differentiate? Or, more immediately, how will Republican primary voters do so?

Eynon seems easiest to define. His web site says specifically, and right up top, he running “because he is opposed to our children being taught to the unproven standards envisioned by Common Core.” His issues page also includes a long quote, and it's the only quote by anyone, from former Representative Ron Paul. On the campaign trail (such as at Kellogg last weekend) he seemed to include support for state Senator Russ Fulcher, who's challenging incumbent Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter for governor. Eynon appears to be working the Tea Party side of the street.

Jensen, who has been stumping around the state with Secretary of State candidate Evan Frasure, seems to be closer to the mainstream conservative side of things, but there's some guesswork in that suggestion, and not a lot for evidence. He plays up the professional side of his background (notably, a 2005 award as national principal of the year); his website has plenty about professional background and little about “issues”; news articles about him look much the same. So why exactly is he running? He'll need to get more specific about that. And maybe he will.

One reason he'll have to is because Ybarra is positioned very much the same, also highlighting her professional credentials but not yet positioning her on the hot issues of education in the state.

And those issues are plenty hot. What do the three candidates think of the “Luna laws” passed in 2011 and rejected by the voters the next year? What about the governor's schools commission report? Eynon has made clear his view on common core (which Luna has supported); what do the other two think?

On the front pages


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)

More nullification bills in legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Snowpacks holding up well (Lewiston Tribune, Nampa Press Tribune)
Concealed guns on college campuses, advancing (Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Latah general fund on ballot (Moscow News)
Ag gag bill moves in Senate (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Cabela's comes to Ammon (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho second per capita for Obamacare (Pocatello Journal)
JFAC holds public budget hearing (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill to nullify federal gun law (TF Times News)
Gooding superintendent departure deal (TF Times News)

Hynix redevelopment considered (Eugene Register Guard)
Governor OKs mascot bill (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Hermiston's affordability (Hermiston Herald)
Hermiston mayor may reorganize boards (Hermiston Herald)
Student enrollment up at Hermiston (Hermiston Herald)
Oregon drought declared (KF Herald & News)
Sheriff warns of effects of budget cuts (KF Herald & News)
Rain helps water supply (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford attorney runs for circuit court (Ashland Tidings)
Teacher strike talks failing (Medford Tribune)
Lake Oswego biotech accused of insider action (Portland Oregonian)
OHSU wants $200 million for cancer center (Portland Oregonian)

Feds clear path for pot banking (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Mammoth tusk in Seattle found in construction (Seattle Times, Longview News)
I-84 closure makes Stevenson busy (Vancouver Columbian)
Snowpack still low (Vancouver Columbian)
Candidates turn up for Hastings seat (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima teachers may file complaint (Yakima Herald Republic)

Like father, like son

rainey BARRETT


The growing coarseness in our society seems an unstoppable trend many folks just take for granted. Especially those with teens in the house. Most of us don’t like it but we seem powerless to stop it. We ignore it when we can; deal quietly with it when we can’t. Comes now a new, even lower level of character assassination vulgarity that should offend nearly everyone.

It comes from one of the least contributory and most obnoxious members of the U.S. Senate and his contempt for a former member of that body - a former member that conducted the office with far more dignity and many more contributions than his own. The over-rated and under-performing offender is Rand Paul. The target of his warrant less B.S. is Hillary Clinton.

Paul has spent his limited time in Congress accomplishing absolutely nothing. A check of recorded business of the Senate shows Paul’s name connected to zero legislative sponsorship of any substance while contributing to numerous instances of unseemly behavior and self-promotion. Neither his home state of Kentucy nor the nation at-large have benefitted from his presence along the Potomac. His time in office has not been much longer than it takes to find the Senate men’s room but he’s already off on what will likely be a dead end run for the presidency.

From his place near the bottom of the national political totem pole, Paul has already embarrassed himself in a number of ways. But nothing he’s done or said previously comes close to his effort to somehow tie former Sen. Clinton to the Monica Lewinsky scandal of her husband.

NBC’s David Gregory showed his own professionally ignorant coarseness when he asked Paul on nationwide television if the Lewinsky scandal was fair game in a presidential political contest.

Rather than point out the obvious disconnectedness of the query, Paul launched off into his “reasons” why that 20-year-old episode involving two other people was “relevant” to today’s political environment.

“Fair game,“ was the sum of his addled response.

No, Mr. Paul. It’s not “fair game.” Any more than the years of insane statements, impossible politics, early racist writings, public rants and other dubious activities of your father are “fair game” in someone’s campaign against you. In both situations, the principal players were others beside you and Sen. Clinton.

Did you rush to either defend or castigate ol’ Pater for publishing his yellow, baseless trash on his own congressional letterhead? Or did you just ignore what he was doing and saying? Or - even worse - did you agree and keep quiet?

When your father was running scam after money-making scam and calling them “presidential campaigns,” did you publically distance yourself from his felonious activities or did you just learn the old man’s tricks and file them away for your own future use? Your father bilked hundreds of thousands of people out of millions of dollars for many years in what any rational person knew were impossible presidential campaigns. He followed up with more money-making slight-of-hand with paid newsletters, poorly executed videos and amateurish, fact-challenged books pitching the same old crap. Are three decades of fleecing sorry souls with his medicine show tactics relevant for your opponent to use in the 2016 presidential campaign?

No. And neither is the Lewinsky episode for you or anyone else.

From the alleged diary of a dead former Clinton friend, it’s been widely reported Sen. Clinton - then First Lady Hillary Clinton - used the words “loony narcissist” to describe Ms. Lewinsky. So what? What’s it to you. Or anyone else? My own more limited experience with the woes of marital infidelity tell me that’s a pretty calm reaction. If, indeed, that WAS her reaction. What’s it to you?

Frankly, as I recall, a good portion of this country - especially women - found her response underwhelming, restrained and the decision to keep her marriage active very courageous things to do. While she and Mr. Clinton may have had one or more private set-to’s over Ms. Lewinsky, her public persona and demeanor were quite acceptable to a lot of us.

In fact, aside from the obvious “snowball’s chance in hell” of you waging a successful presidential campaign with all your own baggage - and that of dear ol’ Dad - you may have hit a nerve with a lot of us who felt that Mrs. Clinton has shown a great deal of class and grace with a very tough personal situation many of us can identify with. And many tough, difficult moments while in public life in her elective and appointed service.

The fact is, Rand, there should be no place in any campaign involving Mrs. Clinton for talk of her husband’s transgressions. Unless, of course, you want to explain some of the money-grubbing, racist transgressions of Pops..

Aw, go ahead. Give it a try.