Writings and observations

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Leave it to former Gov. Phil Batt to provide a sane voice of reason to a controversial social issue. He played the role of a statesman marvelously during his years in political office and he is just as relevant today as he encourages his fellow Republicans to “add the words” in the battle to end discrimination against gays.

Batt made a compelling argument in a recent op-ed that appeared in the Idaho Statesman. As Batt accurately points out, Idaho continues to feel the sting of the practicing Nazis in North Idaho. Large corporations, such as Hewlett-Packard and Boise Cascade, are rightfully concerned about Idaho’s negative reputation in regard to human rights.

But Batt’s reasons go beyond economics and politics. In his op-ed, he wrote about two of his grandchildren who were gay, or sympathetic to gay causes, and found success – in another state.

“These young folks love Idaho and I wish they lived here so that I could see them more,” Batt said. “However, they will never make this their home again as long as we maintain our distain for people who are ‘different.’”

The biggest battle that Batt and other proponents face is the mentality of his fellow Republicans in the Idaho Legislature. Batt’s thinking in more in line with Idahoans in North Idaho who successfully fought against the Aryan Nations, the Nazi group that settled in the area, and worked hard to restore that area’s proud image. Unfortunately, it’s people such as Rep. Lynn Luker, who seem to take their lead from the likes of the late George Wallace – the old George Wallace of the segregation era. Luker might as well be saying, “Discrimination now, discrimination tomorrow and discrimination forever … in the name of religious freedom.” All that’s missing from Luker’s rhetoric is a southern drawl.

Legislators should realize two fundamental concepts as they ponder this issue.

Discrimination in any form is wrong – whether it’s on the basis of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Idaho looks pretty stupid in continuing to tolerate discrimination against gays. Attitudes are changing even in Arizona and that takes some doing.

If Arizona can change, then so can Idaho. Years ago, Idaho was a white-knuckles holdout in acknowledging Martin Luther King Day as a holiday – which turned Idaho into a national laughing stock. The embarrassment ended in 1990, with the courage of Sen. Lee Staker of Idaho Falls and leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Mike Crapo.

The same kind of courage and determination can turn the tide on the “add the words” debate. Republicans may not listen to former Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who seems to widen the partisan divide every time she opens her mouth. But they can, and should pay attention to the words of Phil Batt, one of the great Idaho statesmen of our times.

Share on Facebook

Malloy

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Washington

The dots weren’t often connected, but we spotted some commonalities this week between local headllines in places like Arlington and Port Angeles: Much-loved local downtown single-screen movie theaters will be closed, playing their final movies this week. Read closely, and you find a lot of them are going through the same thing, at about the same time.

The reason is not hard to find: Technology.

Movie theaters nationally are moving toward new digital approaches to playing movies, and there will be advantages: No more broken tape reels, no more off-kilter sound. The quality will be better. Long-term, the costs may be be less too.

But the costs are high in the shorter term, and owners of some older theaters say there’s simply no way they can afford the high upgrade costs. So the theaters are shuttered.

More than just those businesses are closing. Movie theaters in many places but especially in smaller cities are real community gathering spots and points of pride. Once closed, many communities have gone to extraordinary efforts to try to revive them, if not for movies then as community event centers. Large sums of money have been raised in some places (Pocatello, Idaho, is one that comes personally to mind) to keep those centers alive.

Given that, might some of these communities try to find ways to help the theater owners before the theaters go entirely dark – or at least, before they’ve been sitting there too long?

You have to suspect some of the theater owners would love some help interaction on this. And the communities might find some of those dollar spent early on would be money well spent over time.

Share on Facebook

Washington Washington column

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)

Cities blast anti-aesthetics rule bill (Boise Statesman)
Private ambulance service starts in Palouse (Moscow News)
Senator Schmidt at constituent meeting (Moscow News)
School safety study may have effects (Nampa Press Tribune)
Where would more TF industry go? (TF Times News)
New Jerome administrator moves in (TF Times News)
Reviewing the scope of Idaho wolf efforts (TF Times News)

Same sex marriage ballot issue ahead (Eugene Register Guard, Corvallis Gazette Times)
More repairs on Corvallis boardwalk (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Water line fees at Ashland, Medford (Ashland Tidings)
Religious exemption bill introd at Salem (Ashland Tidings)
Medical marijuana dispensary rules up (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
Even-year legislative session questioned (Portland Oregonian)

Sunset Falls Dam considered (Everett Herald)
Edmonds trouble confirming new council member (Everett Herald)
Kennewick may buy more land (Kennewick Herald)
More regulation of marijuana (Langivew News)
State may reimburse Clallam for murder costs (Port Angeles News)
Alpacas rescued at Oregon State (Seattle Times)
Oregon sees same-sex marriage battle (Seattle Times)
Public opinion opposes oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)
Fire district has organizational issues (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima considers billboard limitations (Yakima Herald Republic)

Share on Facebook

First Take