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Posts published in February 2014

File or flee

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

While nearly all of us have said - one time or another - we’re mad about something and want to move to another country, few of us have packed up for the trip. But, last year, not only did a record number of Americans flee the good ol’ U.S. of A., they also renounced their citizenship. Just quit!

The exact number - 2,999 - is 217% more than the year before.

It’s likely some left with hurt political feelings. But the Treasury Department blames three other things: increased awareness of an obligation to file U.S. tax returns by U.S. citizens and U.S. “tax residents” living outside this country; the ever-increasing burden of complying with our tax laws and fear generated by the potentially bankrupting penalties for failure to file tax returns when an individual holds substantial non-U.S. assets.

In other words - they reason - file or flee.

This country is one a very few requiring its citizens permanently living abroad to continue filing returns and paying taxes in the nation of citizenship. And the policy is very actively pursued. In 2009, UBS Bank of Switzerland was fined $700 million for providing services to more than 4,000 U.S. account holders on the tax evasion list. Department of Justice and other fed agencies regularly publicize names of banks and other sources who aid in hiding wealth of Americans as well as the names of the “hiders.”

Filing forms are quite complicated and there are lots of ‘em. Next year, the recently enacted Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act will require foreign financial institutions to report accounts and other holdings of American citizens to the I.R.S. Every year.

So, a lot of folks with a lot of assets decided to pack up and leave. For good. And a lot of ‘em paid a large “exit tax” on their way out the door. (more…)

On the front pages

news

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)

Complaint about gas exploration near house (Boise Statesman)
Sales tax on groceries ended under bill (Boise Statesman)
Peter Johnson, former BPA head, dies (Boise Statesman)
Supreme Court rules lesbian couple can adopt (Boise Statesman)
Minimum wage increase considered (Nampa Press Tribune, Sandpoint Bee)
$13.3 million federal funds may be repaid (Nampa Press Tribune)
Drought could impact dairies (Nampa Press Tribune)
Mosque might be built at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Low water may await (Pocatello Journal)
Balukoff campaigning for governor (Sandpoint Bee)
TF Council blocks jump till 2015 (TF Times News)
Legislature considers online voter registration (TF Times News)

More after the snow storms (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Seized alpacas go to OSU vet school (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Water adjudication under re-review (KF Herald & News)
Klamath jail struggles for funding (KF Herald & News)
Storm and power outages (Eugene Register Guard)
Economy improves, but slowly (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland ski gets near foot of snow (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher strike, sixth day (Medford Tribune)
Storm hits east Oregon (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Lawsuit on prisoner death at Two Rivers (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Cleanup post-snow storms (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Battering at state mental hospital (Portland Oregonian)

Marysville rail crossing could end delays (Everett Herald)
Debt jailings examined by ACLU (Kennewick Herald)
Airport landing errors (Kennewick Herald)
Unknown source behind recall of PUD commissioner (Longview News)
I-5 Columbia bridge deemed ok (Longview News)
Bertha stopped till summer (Seattle Times)
Boeing Machinists election hotly contested (Seattle Times)
Watch for flooding begins (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane County takes over garbage pickup (Spokane Spokesman)
Metro Parks funding gets support (Tacoma News Tribune)
Pierce County considers school levies (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislators consider oil transport (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver city involvement in permit at terminal (Vancouver Columbian)

On the front pages

news

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)

River park phase two opens (Boise Statesman)
Senator Risch profile (Boise Statesman)
TF Council will consider jump (TF Times News)
Avalanche concerns at Sun Valley (TF Times News)

Snowfall aftermath (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times, Eugene Register Guard)
Land trust sets up hiking paths (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene's new city hall design revealed (Eugene Register Guard)
Jacksonville may block pot dispensaries (Ashland Tidings)
Precipitation still not stopping drought (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher strike update (Medford Tribune)
Legislature looks at tax reform (Portland Oregonian)
Wyden set to take over at Finance (Salem Statesman Journal)

Mixed city rules on pot stores (Everett Herald)
Home impact fees won't be assessed (Everett Herald)
Snow storm aftermath (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Spokane Transit working on upgrades (Spokane Spokesman)
Gorge concert operator asked to pay med bills (Yakima Herald Republic)

Immediate and longer term intentions

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

There's the short-term and immediate, and the long-term and the eventual.

The political side of discussion within Idaho about the arrest last week of more than 40 protesters for gay rights at the Idaho Statehouse – wearing “Add the 4 Words” shirts and hands over their mouths – tended to focus on the first. That's understandable, because it's what's most immediately right in front of us.

The protesters did not settle for rallying on the sidewalk outside, or even in the Rotunda, where such events sometimes also happen. They stood in front of the main doors (there are others as well) to the Senate, shortly before the floor session started for the day, blocking the doorway from being closed. Since that ran afoul of Senate rules of procedure (as they surely knew, especially since their ranks included a former senator, Nicole LeFavour), they were removed by law enforcement, and (as they also expected) arrested. The Senate even passed a suspension of one of its rules to allow for arrest of LeFavour, who as a former senator was (by rules) allowed on the floor during sessions. Be it noted that the Senate Democrats voted for that rule suspension alongside the Republicans.

The incident ticked off quite a few legislators, including a few who might sympathize with the protesters' cause. Whatever miniscule chance they had of progressing their cause in this session, to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to anti-discrimination law in the state, was squashed.

That's the short term. But it's not the whole story, as some legislators realized. Senate Majority Bart Davis, for one, was quoted as saying, “Today, it hurt their cause. But as time goes by, I don’t think it does. She’s [LeFavour] not the only voice on the issue.”

To see what he meant, try Googling “Idaho gay arrest” - look for news stories – and see what comes up. KBOI-TV's website headlined, “Arrest of gay rights activists in Idaho gets national spotlight,” and they weren't kidding. On a quick try I pulled up 177 news article on the incident, many well illustrated (there were good photo ops), which guaranteed visible play. Large national blogs carried pieces. The news organizations ranged from the Guardian in England to the Province in Vancouver, British Columbia, from the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise to the Tribune in Seymour, Indiana. In USA Today: “Dozens of gay rights activist arrested in Idaho.” There was a lot of TV coverage as well.

The story had staying power because it reinforced something else: The controversy associated with progress through the legislature of Representative Lynn Luke's “religious freedom” bills. That has drawn no lack of attention either, from the Everett (Washington) Herald to the Danbury (Connecticut) News Times to the Houston (Texas) Chronicle. The Greenfield (Indiana) Reporter headlined, “House panel votes to keep religious freedom bill alive, dozens say it enshrines discrimination.”

Guess what Idaho is getting renowned for these days?

That reputational damage will have its effects. Idahoans do pay some attention to what people think about them, much as many would like to think otherwise, and the national attention will not go unnoticed, or un-responded to. The 44 protesters last week may have irritated and turned off legislators in the short run, but they got attention. If their intent is to play a longer game, they may have taken a step forward.

On the front pages

news

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)

Legislative cottage-related contributions returned (Boise Statesman)
Indigent defense changes ahead (Nampa Press-Tribune)
Pocatello gay rights petition (Pocatello Journal)
Sheriffs officequit over lack of PERSI (TF Times News)
Elder abuse penalties would rise (TF Times News)
Hot springs may become aquaponic farm (TF Times News)

Snow storm turns icy (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Roseburg News Review)
Medford teacher negotiation still on (Medford Tribune)
Spotty work history for Cover Oregon exec (Portland Oregonian)
Trains stopping at intersections (Roseburg News Review)
Many ansentees at area schools (Portland Oregonian)
Salem YWCA alters name, purpose (Salem Statesman Journal)

Obstacles for Skykomish River mini-dam (Everett Herald)
Scale-back for health exchange (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Longview port tax increase reviewed (Longview News)
Root fungus may be taking hold in trees (Port Angeles News)
Tribal fishing Boldt ruling in review (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Varied backgrounds for area homeless (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce County property taxes rise (Tacoma News Tribune)
Ice storm replacing snow (Vancouver Columbian)
Developer: oil terminal would kill waterfront plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Arrival of stink bugs (Yakima Herald Republic)

What the storms may do

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The latter half of last week was dominated by weather, some serious weather. Snow dumped hard on western Oregon, and across much of the Cascades and parts of eastern Oregon too.

The storms weren't fierce (the snow wasn't accompanied by much wind), but the sheer volume of snow was greater than the region had seen in five years. It was enough to shut down the Legislature, along with all sorts of other organizations – schools, universities, some businesses and a lot of what didn't really have to be open.

As Oregon moves past that unexpected mass of weather this week, what will be most notable to watch will be … statistics.

Thing is, Oregon (and most of the west) has badly needed a lot more precipitation this winter than it has been getting. Look at this week's snowpack chart (in the environment section), and you'll find that while most all the basins around the state last year at this point were running about normal in terms of available water, this year they tend to be running about half as much – low enough that if the trends up to the last week or so maintains, Oregon could hit some serious drought this summer.

That conclusion isn't foregone, though. There are meteorologists who think Oregon could have a wet spring, and that surely would help avert a bad case of the dries. So would some good snowfall now.
So watch the numbers on the chart this week, and then again next week. They could be something of a forecast of the months ahead.

On the front pages

news

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)

Mountain lion killed near Boise (Boise Statesman)
Critiques of state, CCA agreement (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Clearwater Paper says Lewiston site important (Lewiston Tribune)
Review of Idaho, Washington gambling (Lewiston Tribune)
Dorn's McCleary plan for school funds (Moscow News)
Bolz will opt out of legislature this year (Nampa Press Tribune)
Electric grid upgraded around Firth (Pocatello Journal)
Rural broadband support measure advances (Sandpoint Bee)

Heavy snow hits again (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Corvallis Gazette Times)
County official says commissioners knew of changes (Eugene Register Guard)
Graduation rates assessed (Hermiston Herald, Ashland Tidings)
Bureau of Reclamation water management (KF Herald & News)
Local film festival leadership change (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher strike day 2 (Medford Tribune)
Bates plans dredge mining rule changes (Medford Tribune)
PERS legislation and local budgets (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Energy mandate rules may change (Portland Oregonian)
Salem YWCA splits from national group (Salem Statesman Journal)

500 with low income get vouchers (Everett Herald)
Ads coming to state web sites (Everett Herald)
Shooing terns from Columbia islands (Kennewick Herald)
Grandview will do free summer school (Kennewick Herald)
More Bertha damage (Seattle Times)
Questioning if there were 700K at fest (Seattle Times)
Idaho trap snares Canadian lynx (Spokane Spokesman)
WA House members pay rises (Tacoma News Tribune)
Heavy snow again (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)

The future majority leader?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Pardon the crystal ball gazing, but by next January Washington state’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, will become the next majority leader of the Senate, succeeding the acerbic Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

Most pundits will say this is two years premature, that Reid intends to be Majority (or Minority) Leader through 2016. That may well be in fact what happens. The dynamics of the 2014 mid-term elections, however, will change that and history will tap Senator Murray.

She will be the first female to hold that position, but then she has constantly surprised friends and befuddled critics since the Mom in Tennis Shoes first jumped from the Washington State Senate to the United States Senate.

First, full disclosure - I go back with the Senator to the very beginning when she declared against the ethically challenged incumbent Senator Brock Adams in the 1992 Democratic primary.

The Seattle P-I assigned a reporter to do a profile before the primary and thus it was I took a call and was asked why I was supporting her. Because of my long association with Cecil Andrus, and my subsequent work with Kaiser Aluminum as the v p for government affairs some in the media at least thought my support was noteworthy.

My response became the lead: “Patty Murray is the right person, in the right place at the right time with the right message and she’s going to win.” Over a dozen lobbyists and government affairs types called to ask me if I’d lost my marbles.

Besides being smart, and having the courage of her convictions, Senator Murray is a tenacious campaigner, and one who opponents and critics constantly underestimate. Their bodies are strewn across the political landscape.

Consider: she is one of only two members of the Senate ever to defeat four sitting members of Congress - in her 1992 primary she defeated Congressmen Don Bonker; in the general she defeated Congressman Rod Chandler . In 1998, she defeated Congresswoman Linda Smith, and in 2004 Congressman George Nethercutt.

One could make that five if you counted former congressman and senator, Brock Adams.

Senator Murray has many assets but one not often cited is the obvious capacity to grow into the various roles she has had to play, from chair of the Veterans Committee to twice running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Today, with the seniority she has accumulated she is chair of the Budget committee and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as retaining her seat on Veterans Affairs. (more…)

On the front pages

news

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)

Tough to improve Fairview Avenue (Boise Statesman)
truckers propose field tax increase for roads (Lewiston Tribune)
Ethic inquiry on McMorris Rodgers (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Materne opens processing plant at Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa gets new women's shelter (Nampa Press Tribune)
Yellowstone quake a hoax (Pocatello Journal)
Winter storm hits (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello council on initiative on gay rights (Pocatello Journal)
Bonner Commissioner Bailey seeks another term (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill tries to nullify EPA (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill would set jail time for CAFO filming (TF Times News)
Jerome plans overhaul for wastewater treatment (TF Times News)
Bill would require medical treatment for children (TF Times News)

Winter hitting hard (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
School graduation percentages vary (Portland Oregonian, KF Herald & News, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Groundwater shutoffs discussed (KF Herald & News)
Cuts possible at Southern Oregon University (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Homeless center at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Medford school trike begins (Medford Tribune)
Corrections pays some workers for not working (Portland Oregonian)
Gun bill generates debate (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett College union lawsuit moves (Everett Herald)
Charges for more bikini baristas (Everett Herald)
Tri-Cities developer Young dies (Kennewick Herald)
Winter storm hits hard (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Lockdown at Clallam prison continues (Port Angeles News)
Seahawk parade sell phone use daunted system (Seattle Times)
Tesoro will increase rail car contingent (Vancouver Columbian)
Concurrance on replacing Zaepfel Stadium (Yakima Herald Republic)

Oregon’s got it together

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

At the end of 2013, United Van Lines checked moving tickets for the year and found the greatest percentage of people for whom the company hauled household goods went to one state. Oregon.

More than 61% of all interstate moves made in Oregon last year were for people coming from some other place. Lest you think this is some small sampling, the company tracked 129,000 trips in the country for the period. And Oregon topped the pack. Washington D.C. had led the list for the previous five years but - in 2013 - dropped to fourth,

Why Oregon? Why do so many folks want to come here? What is it about the place? What makes our real estate so desirable? Oh, lots of answers could be the Pacific Ocean, the Cascades, Mt. Hood, a good and varied climate, better environment, outdoor activities, cleaner water, better air quality and on and on,. You hear all those a lot.

My take is - as usual - different. I think people come here because we’ve “got our s*%t together.”

“Oh, Momma, look what he said!”

Well, it’s true. We do have it together. Especially politically. Compared to a couple dozen other states, we’re downright - rational. Oh, we’ve got some dim bulbs and political zeroes. One of them is actually the chairman of the Oregon Republican Party. But we’ve got him right out there on a stick where he can be seen so we know what foil-hat-idiocy he’s up to. That’s different. In North and South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas - especially Texas - residents have allowed them to go underground - into the legislatures and governor’s bedrooms. Real folks lost control.

But here - in Oregon - we’ve kept the system pretty balanced and most of the loonies penned up. When you think back a couple of years, we ran an evenly divided House of Representatives with dual Speakers from different parties and duplicate committee chairs and, all in all, it went very, very well. How many other states could do that today? The two major parties get along most of the time around here. That sort of sends messages to folks in other states that we’ve “got our s*%t together.”

“Good Lord, Momma. He said it again.”

And it’s still true. Nobody here is trying to stop “undesirables” from voting. Nobody here is living under legislated “uterus attacks.” The governor is not talking secession. We’re not drug-checking people who just happen to be unemployed at the moment for whatever reason. We’re not even making food stamp recipients take a leak in a bottle!

Idaho, for example, used to have a slogan: “Idaho is what American was” which they really can’t say anymore ‘cause the nation’s reddest state is falling further behind with an increasingly flat earth contingent that has pretty well contaminated government. Idahoans have lost control. Oregon’s Republicans and Democrats still “Howdy” each other and the state is better for that. “Oregon is still what it was,” I guess.

We, in Oregon, even vote differently than voters in most other states. By mail. And it works! The only fraud we’ve had in recent years was a couple of over-zealous office volunteers messing up a few ballots. We caught ‘em. I think they were escorted to the border. Idaho, maybe. (more…)

On the front pages

news

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)

Idaho State Police not investigating CCA (Boise Statesman)
Barbieri's spending count way off (Boise Statesman)
DBSI finance trial begins (Boise Statesman)
Debate over 'religious freedom' bill (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
More profits for Clearwater Paper (Lewiston Tribune)
Regulators hit Syring home park at Moscow (Moscow News)
Pre-K pilot effort proposed at legislature (Moscow News)
Sex abuse charge at juvenile facility (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa school levy considered (Nampa Press Tribune)
Winter storm compning (Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)
Approval of Chubbuck events center (Pocatello Journal)
Power County may change utilities ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Would be jumper not giving up (TF Times News)

School graduation rates varied (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
No money for climate hub at OSU (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Winter storm coming (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene schools still quiet on civic stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Utility district funds rejected (KF Herald & News)
Klamath reviewing pot dispensary options (KF Herald & News)
Ashland still considering filing regs (Ashland Tidings)
Teachers at Medford on verge of strike (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Jacksonville may ban pot stores (Medford Tribune)
No bond measure for BMCC this year (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Stanfield's new fee on utlity bills (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Teachers at Portland vote to strike (Portland Oregonian)
Video lottery public health issues (Portland Oregonian)
Nordstrom pulls out at Lloyd Center, Vancouver (Portland Oregnian)
Did Cover Oregon mislead feds? (Portland Oregonian)
Gun legislation arises (Salem Statesman Journal)

Boeing cost-cutting may be damaging itself (Everett Herald)
Quarter-mill donation for wine center at WSU-Tri (Kennewick Herald)
Annexation process bill dies at legislature (Kennewick Herald)
Seahawks celebration (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
Smelt dipping legal for a month (Longview News)
Jail levy could go to voters (Longview News)
Death of oldest member of Klallam Tribe (Port Angeles News)
Third day of Clallam corrections lockdown (Port Angeles News)
Idaho law may bar 'revenge porn' (Spokane Spokesman)
Nordstrom closes at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark considers effect of waiving fees (Vancouver Columbian)
Money possible for Yakima water projects (Yakima Herald Republic)

Justice delayed, justice denied

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In 40 years of public service, one of the more egregious examples of government misconduct I witnessed was endured by Wallace McGregor, a Spokane businessman, geologist and entrepreneur. Now in his 80’s, he is decency, honesty and tenacity personified.

His fortitude is inspiring; and, the callous disregard displayed by the National Park Service for he and his partners’ valid property rights is deplorable. They have been victimized by an uncompensated taking, pure and simple.

It is a cautionary tale inasmuch as it could all too easily happen to any citizen who inadvertently gets in the way of an agency of the federal government that chooses to operate as a rogue elephant and a law unto itself.

Wally’s case is a classic example of “no good deed goes unpunished.” The origin of this unbelievable account was their recognition that a valid, proven up patented mining claim containing literally billions of dollars worth of copper, silver and gold was better off not being developed. Their 360 plus acres ended up within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park created by the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980. They accepted the higher and better use Congress opted for by placing their Orange Hill claim and surrounding area into a National Park.

They expected the Park Service would commence negotiations that would result in a reasonable buy out of their in holding, one that would reflect their investment and some modest return on that investment. By no means were they asking for an exorbitant amount, but rather a reasonable return on a modest investment and recognition of their valid property right. If they made a “mistake,” it was not filing a Mine operating plan.

They reasoned why engage in a charade when they acknowledged the higher and better national interest determined by Congress. They never dreamed 30 years later they would still be subjected to what can only be described as unconscionable shuck and jiving, obfuscation, outright lies and legal wrangling all designed to outwait Wally and his partners.

Governor Andrus calls it “hornswoggling.” He even wrote a letter to the then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggesting that the secretary could resolve this conflict by ordering the Park Service to engage in an “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) process. Salazar refused to do so.

The NPS may have succeeded in ignoring one man’s property right, but in a larger sense it is coming at a cost - loss of public faith and confidence in the agency - that is the sine qua non of any government agency. (more…)