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Posts published in “Day: March 30, 2014”

Lessons from Oso




The tiny community of Oso, which was until a week ago a collection of houses on State Route 530 between Arlington and Darrington in Snohomish County, is a place of tragedy today.

It is not a place, as some people have pointed out, over which fingers should be pointed and accusations launched. The March 22 mudslide was not someone's fault: It was a natural phenomenon of the kind that from time to time kills and wounds.

Any attempts to bury people in legal, economic or political battles in the weeks and months ahead probably would prove fruitless.

However, tragedies sometimes do carry lessons for the future, and the Oso mudslide did that.
Known in some quarters as the Hazel landslide, the mountain-face collapse was not altogether unheralded. Rumblings and ground movement there go back at least to 1937, and geologists over the years warned that the area was unstable. Very recently, too, there was some specific cause for worry, since the area had seen consistent heavy rain over the last seven weeks, just the type of drenching needed to loosen the soil and rock. On top of that, a small earthquake was registered about two weeks before the mudslide occurred.

This is not by way of blaming anyone for not taking action. If you've lived in a place for decades, as many of the Oso people had, you had reason to think that thoughts of a wall of mud crashing through your house was just paranoiac. Should officials, after, say, the earthquake, have tried to move people out of the area? It would not have been a very easy argument to make, and it might have been resisted staunchly.

Here we get to the value of lessons, because we now see what the actual results are, and compare that to what might have been done earlier. The lesson isn't, of course, worth the cost of life or property. But it did encourage reports around the region about places prone to slides (across both Oregon and Washington) and it might result in some people taking earlier action.

If the Oso mudslide was not necessarily worth this particular candle, maybe at least some good, somewhere else, might come of it.

Brakes on the train obession

frazier DAVID


It used to be amusing to poke fun at Team Dave’s latest gimmick for a train, trolley, street car, etc. Now its time to derail this fantasy once and for all.

The current topic is yet another round of consulting, planning, etc. for what amounts to a “cargo transit center.” The idea is to create business for a Boise train hub linked to trucks. At every step of the way, thinking people — including officials and former executives of the Union Pacific — have concluded it is not cost effective to build a truck/train transfer station in or near Boise. The legacy media needs to talk to the big road train people in Omaha to get a handle on why Boise is nothing more than a siding which provides a needed access to Motive Power’s manufacturing facility off Federal Way.

The Boise City Council needs to pull the emergency STOP! These fantasy dreams have gone on far too long and too much taxpayer money has been spent for ideas which have simply outlived their day and are not logically conceived. We have documents from as far back as 2007 showing the city had funded studies promising hundreds of thousands in railroad revenue–these claims were never realized and in our opinion the city is merely “shopping” for a consultant to give them what they want to hear.

In the current shot at garnering some public support, Team Dave has turned to Sven Berg at the DAILY PAPER to tout the latest incarnation of “Dave’s Magic Train.”

The GUARDIAN has been on this for nearly a decade now. Six years ago we learned Boise City officials obtained a license to operate a city-owned railroad, following a PRESENTATION to the city council– and anyone else who would watch it. The Boise City Railroad never turned a wheel.

Nampa is the place for such a facility, on the mainline of the railroad. Boise simply doesn’t generate enough big bulk cargo like grain, lumber, coal, etc. Boise is a nice place, we are good people, we spend lots of money for products, but we simply don’t do it in carload or trainload amounts.
Message to the council: Politely tell Mayor Dave Bieter you won’t allow him anymore of OUR cash for something which would be built by the private sector if it was viable and needed.

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)

White Cloud monument would build on recreation (Boise Statesman)
Stillaguamish mudslide missing count drops (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon waits on plan for use of Lake Lowell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing the Ed Task Force proposals (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello events center closer to bidding (Pocatello Journal)
Might Eastern Idaho see floods? (Pocatello Journal)
Can Coeur d'Alene Casino offer poker? (Sandpoint Bee)
Filer city may see recall election (TF Times News)

Stillaguamish mudslide missing numbers drop (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Background on Cascade Sierra Solutions biz collapse (Eugene Register Guard)
Low birth weight in Klamath, Lake counties (KF Herald & News)
New KF branch library opening (KF Herald & News)
Possible retrofits for oil carrier cars (Portland Oregonian)
Salem Courthouse Square reopens (Salem Statesman Journal)

Stillaguamish mudslide missing numbers drop (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic,Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Animal detection on US 95 may spare accidents (Spokane Spokesman Review)
Analysis of local cable TV costs (Tacoma News Tribune)
South Fork Ahtanum Road closes over illegal activity (Yakima Herald Republic)