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Posts published in March 2014

Hyperventilating over Putin

carlson CHRIS


Media hypocrisy and hysteria never cease to amaze. One should not be surprised to learn what low regard the general public has these days for journalists who all too often the public sees as editorializing instead of reporting. The bully pulpit the media has had for several generations is endangered because its practitioners see the sliver in the eyes of others but fail to see the log in their own eye.

Coverage of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine is a classic example where the media, which thrives on conflict, has been little more than a propaganda perpetuator of the State Department and the President’s angst over the Russian move.

Tortured analogies of President Vladimir Putin acting like Hitler in his annexation of Austria, and the German-speaking areas of the Czech Republic as well as the Sudetenland, have been all over the media.
It is disgraceful and Putin has every right to be angered by it.

The plain fact is that were the roles reversed virtually every president since James Monroe would have done exactly what Putin has done, and no amount of finger-pointing nor imposition of sanctions is going to change it.

In the parlance of international geo-politics, President Putin acted to protect what the Henry Kissinger’s and the Brent Scowcroft’s of the world would call “Russia’s soft underbelly.” Set aside that the vast majority of the people of Crimea are Russian-speaking, and that under Communist rule Soviet leaders like Nikita Khrushchev used to spend their summer vacation on the shores of the Black Sea.

Focus instead on the concentration of what’s left of the Russian Naval fleet, as well as a variety of other military installations in Crimea and one can begin to see where in the interests of future Russian security President Putin could not let the area fall into unfriendly hands.

A more appropriate analogy is our own “Monroe Doctrine,” promulgated by our fifth president, James Monroe. He served notice that the America’s, north and south, were for Americans, not Europeans. Hence, naval and military forces from Europe and elsewhere were to butt out and stay the hell away. And this is mostly what occurred.

Another analogy would be that of New Mexico deciding to align with Mexico, throw out the Border Patrol and open the border to any Hispanic or Central American immigrant or migrant worker to flood into the southwest. It’s a safe bet the President would declare martial law and send the Army to resecure the border. (more…)

Keys to the Senate: AK, SD, MT

trahant MARK


Is it a foregone conclusion that the Senate will go Republican in November? That’s the talk coming from many strategists in both parties lately.

On Fox News Sunday, Karl Rove said it’s “highly likely” that the Republicans take power. He said seven seats could shift to the GOP control in November, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. That’s one more than the Republicans need.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, on NBC’s Meet the Press, is saying something similar. “There’s a real, real danger that the Democrats could suffer big losses,” he said. (Current White House officials are saying — as they should — that Democrats will hang to the Senate.)

What’s pushing this speculation is a special election last week in Florida. It’s not that Democrats lost (it was a Republican seat, anyway). It’s that Democrats didn’t turn out. If that happens again in November, then Republicans win easily.

One of the states in play, Montana, is a good example of the problem.

There are a higher percentage of American Indian voters in Montana than in any other state except New Mexico, a registration that tops 64 percent (a slightly higher percentage than white voters in Montana). This made a difference two years ago when Sen. Jon Tester and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau both won re-election. But two years before that, those same voters disappeared. Conservative candidates won easily.

So is 2014 more like 2012 or 2010? Will Native American voters show up?

Montana is raising questions for other reasons, too. Senate candidate Steve Daines, a member of the House, has visited the state’s reservations and is making his case with tribal leaders.

There is also a difference of opinion in Montana over strategy. As Stephanie Woodard wrote in Indian Country Today Media Network, a voter access organization, Four Directions, blames Democrats for not expanding satellite balloting on the reservation.

The good news is that it’s early. There are months ahead to sort out a Native vote strategy and engage voters. But right now, Montana Senate race is looking like a pick up opportunity for the Republicans.

“If we lose the Senate,” Gibbs said, “turn out the lights. The party’s over.” The final two years of the Obama presidency will be one of defense, limiting the damage, instead of promoting any sort of agenda of growth.

For Indian Country that means more budgets cuts, GOP leadership for the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, and more whittling away of the Affordable Care Act. (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)

FBI agent in DBSI case dies (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Legislature adjourns (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News, Sandpoint Bee)
Syringa park water cleared (Moscow News)
Guns on campus still under review (Moscow News)
Raises for elected officials cut back (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Aberdeen man sues over shot dog (Pocatello Journal)
Sho-Bans battling over FMC waste (Pocatello Journal)
Water will rise by American Falls dam (Pocatello Journal)
Melta geothermal operation may mean 800 jobs (TF Times News)

Kitzhaber orders shifts at Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Corvallis Gazette Times, Pendleton East Oregonian, Ashland Tidings)
No pot sweets at medical dispensaries (KF Herald & News, Pendleton East Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Police unions criticizes bike-friendly street (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford might block pot dispensaries (Ashland Tidings)
Battle over GMO ballot verbiage (Ashland Tidings)
Reviewing routes for oil trains (Portland Oregonian)
Detained mentally ill can be force-fed meds (Portland Oregonian)

Tidal power plan by PUD okayed (Everett Herald)
Everett city hits budget trouble (Everett Herald)
New Hanford budget might slice work at river (Kennewick Herald)
Mentally ill may be force-fed meds (Kennewick Herald)
Possible developments at Lake Sacajawea (Longview News)
Olympic trail will reopen (Port Angeles News)
Investigating news copter crash (Seattle Times)
ID Greyhound Park may get instant games (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane officials react on oil train shipping (Spokane Spokesman)
Pot convention at Tacoma Dome, smoke free (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver business group launches PAC (Vancouver Columbian)

The why session

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

This year’s Legislature should be remembered as the session of “Why,” as in “Why Bother?” Of course, nobody should be surprised.

My best preview of the “nothing to come” session was visiting with House Speaker Scott Bedke in his office. He took a call, and the conversation went something like this: “I don’t see the Chairman Wood (Health and Welfare Committee) moving away from the health exchange and I don’t see Chairman DeMordaunt (Education) moving away from Common Core. Next question.”

The next question should have been, “Why not bring up those issues?” It would be reasonable for the Legislature to discuss one year after the health exchange was created and to talk about some of the problems that have surfaced. On Common Core, it’s legitimate to ask, “Is this really where we want to go?” Common Core sounds good (like No Child Left Behind), but one of the worries is the execution of government standards for education.

Opposition to Common Core is one of the centerpieces of Russ Fulcher’s campaign for governor. It would have been interesting to hear more of his views on the subject.

Medicaid expansion certainly is a hot topic for discussion, but that horse died well before the session got under way. Proponents, including the Idaho Association of Counties and a leading business lobby, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, were pushing for Medicaid expansion as an idea that could save the state millions of dollars in the long run. But the issue apparently was too hot to handle in an election year.

The “going home” bill, for practical purposes, ended up being the one to allow guns on university campuses – with the premise being that universities would be safer places if retired law officers and those with enhanced permits were allowed to carry guns. Let’s pray that the legislators are smarter than the university presidents on that issue.
This session, to me, has created a great argument for biennial sessions. If the governor and legislative leaders are hell-bent on avoiding tough issues during an election year, then why have them at all? Or, maybe they could have 30-day budget sessions every other year. (more…)

Government investment works

rainey BARRETT


In a sort of bipartisan piling on, critics of federal support for auto makers or of that proposed oil pipeline from Canada or lost tax dollars in failed alternative energy company Solyndra have captured a lot of attention. Filled with political expediency, what all the critical voices have failed to articulate is any sort of long term view or alternatives dealing with each subject. And there are many.

Before dealing with them, here’s a basic fact: government - and government alone - is often the best (if not only) entity that can make major investments in very large undertakings. Despite our love of “independence” and those who cling to our lost system of “free” enterprise - which hasn’t existed for 150 years - sometimes government has to go first, pay the heavy bills for development and then step aside for private capital to take over at some point.

There are many examples but the best I can think of is our space program. If President Kennedy had not led us into it in 1961, we would likely be speaking Russian. No private company - no group of private companies - could raise the billions and billions of dollars to do what government did. As a nation - and as individuals - we are massively richer for that undertaking. And it’s almost impossible to count the ways we benefitted from computers to cell phones to - well - thousands of things.

And where are we now? Private companies are using that taxpayer-bought engineering, incalculable experience, hundreds of thousands of patents and thousands of highly-trained taxpayers to open space travel to all. We’ve got hundreds of private satellites and even private space shuttles flying around.

For those who say government had no business putting billions into the auto companies - that we should have let them sink - Road Apples! Anyone with any economic smarts knows it had to be done to avoid even more massive unemployment, disaster for thousands of small businesses and a financial mess that would have been incredibly costly.

And look what happened. GM has closed its most profitable year in history - reopened several plants - ramped up production - and has built more and better vehicles than ever. It’s paid back most of the taxpayer loan while GM stock many Americans own has gotten even more valuable. Chrysler basically avoided corporate death - threw out many bad models while developing new lines - reopened closed plants - rehired thousands - and has paid off the loan. And both companies are using new, cutting-edge technology to build the best cars in both their histories. A lot of that new technology the government pioneered in other programs.

No private companies were ready to do what government did. No investors or venture capitalists were willing to ride to the rescue. The results will be taught in business schools for decades to show how government and an entire industry can build huge successes in the face of certain disaster. (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)

Kuna school district may vote again on levy (Boise Statesman)
Report on death penalty costs released (Boise Statesman)
School budget of $1.35B approved (Lewiston Tribune)
WA legislators review session (Moscow News)
On tests, Latah schools beat average (Moscow News)
Fewer pot cases, more legal resources elsewhere (Moscow News)
Pioneer, Caldwell may settle water case (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho a leader in construction jobs (Nampa Press Tribune)
Romney at Idaho Falls for canddiates (Pocatello Journal)
Assessor explains politicos property value drop (Pocatello Journal)
FMC corporate changes won't affect cleanup (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint debates 10 Commandments monument (Sandpoint Bee)
Rangen call hearings complete (TF Times News)
Filer will mandate dog training (TF Times News)
Wendell reconsiders after bond loss (TF Times News)

New online news for Lincoln County at Dispatch (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Corvallis gets fifth pot dispensary request (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Italian restaurant company opens at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Ordinance would cover property seizures (KF Herald & News)
Ashland moves on gun rules (KF Herald & News)
Jackson County sets 120-day moratorium on pot (Ashland Tidings)
Drought disaster in Jackson County (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford loans money for Ashland welcome center (Ashland Tidings)
GMO ban impacts at Jackson considered (Medford Tribune)
Problems at diesel cleanup site (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hearing awaits on same sex marriage case (Portland Oregonian)
In OR: a brewery for every 21K people (Portland Oregonian)
OR high in child bone cancer (Salem Statesman Journal)
Liquor revenue in OR expected stable (Salem Statesman Journal)

Drop in WA pot cases (Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic)
New machinist leader profiled (Everett Herald)
DOE closes a Hanford waste lab (Kennewock Herald)
Deadline for health insurance buys approaches (Kennewick Herald)
Lumber production rising (Longview News)
'Smart' traffic meters protested at PA (Port Angeles News)
Dungeness water rule reconsideration? (Port Angeles News)
Seattle bus ridership increases (Seattle Times)
News chopper aftermath (Seattle Times)
Debate over Spokane anti-sprawl ordinance (Spokane Spokesman)
Most of Vancouver council opposing oil facility (Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing legislative session for Clark (Vancouver Columbian)
Fire season arriving (Yakima Herald Republic)

Education and Idaho

mendiola MARK


Idaho’s natural beauty and the inherent decency of its people can mask serious problems confronting the state, Idaho Business for Education’s president and chief executive officer says, comparing the Gem State to an old, stately, beautiful mansion whose foundation is rotting, cracking and direly in need of repair.

Addressing a recent City Club of Idaho Falls luncheon, Rod Gramer said unless its owners get to work and invest money, the foundation will crumble and the damage will worsen.

Answering an audience question, Gramer -- a veteran Idaho Statesman and KTVB news professional who recently returned to Boise after working in Oregon and Florida -- said it has been estimated that it will take $82 million to $120 million to replace the education funding lost in Idaho the past six years.

He commended legislators for this year pumping $32 million in new dollars for education, stressing that that money should be viewed as an investment, not an expense, emphasizing the dots need to be connected between education and Idaho’s economy. He called it “the best public school budget in seven years.”

Gramer said simple formulas mean a weak education system, plus a weak economy, equal a poor quality of life as opposed to a strong education system and a strong economy combining to boost Idaho’s standard of living.

“Fate won’t determine this. The people of Idaho must decide. The choice is ours,” he said, warning that like the Roman Emperor Nero, Idahoans can fiddle while metaphorical Idaho burns.

Gramer noted that in 2012, Idaho ranked 50th among the states in per capita wages. Idaho was No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of hourly workers -- 7.7 percent -- who made the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 or less in 2012. Nationally, 4.7 percent made minimum wage or less in 2012.

The Idaho Department of Labor reported that more young people are leaving the state than moving to the state.

“These are statistics we ignore at our own peril,” Gramer said. Rebuilding starts with education, which is “a passport to the American dream.” Government for and by the people cannot and will not succeed without an educated populace who can make wise decisions, he added.

Only 39 percent of Idahoans have earned college degrees or have post-secondary trade certification, but 61 percent have some college, high school or less. That level of education was fine in the past for most of Idaho’s history when mining, logging, farming and other such jobs sufficed, but that is not now the case, Gramer said, noting manual work such as driving trucks or working in a body shop now requires computer training.

When the J.R. Simplot Co.’s new 380,000-square-foot Caldwell potato processing plant opens in April, its robotics will make it the most state-of-the-art processing plant of its kind in the world, but only 250 will be needed to operate it. Its existing plants in Nampa, Caldwell and Aberdeen will be shut down with a net loss of 800 jobs.

“The shift in the job market is all over the United States, causing a dramatic effect on the economy and the lives of people,” Gramer said. (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)

St Luke's legal antagonists claim large legal costs (Boise Statesman)
Bill Drake, major ad director, phasing out (Boise Statesman)
EPA nullification bill dies on House floor (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU basketball coach fired (Moscow News)
Moscow sees improved economy (Moscow News)
CWI considers how to deal with guns (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bill to spread out delivery of food stamps (Nampa Press Tribune)
School groups have united voice at session (Nampa Press Tribune)
Is Blad endorsing in Nye-Bloxham race? (Pocatello Journal)
FMC cleanup plans okayed by EPA (Pocatello Journal)
Filer cop who shot dog keeps job (TF Times News)
Sex discrimination case against Twin sheriff (TF Times News)
TF charter school may let guns on campus (TF Times News)

Unemployment falls again (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Debate over wild animal kills (Eugene Register Guard)
KF sets medical pot dispensary regs (KF Herald & News)
Ashland reviewing gun restrictions (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford helps finance Ashland welcome center (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton moves on pot ban (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Crash new news chopper near space needle (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Report says poor contracting hurt Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
AG says same sex marriage could start quickly (Portland Oregonian)
Parts of Portland benefit from property tax rules (Portland Oregonian)
Salem tweet-suspended students may get clear record (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kimberly-Clark site sale still up in air (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
New copter crash at space needle (Everett Herald)
Still plenty of pot moratoriums (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald)
Bill to rename Palouse Fall signed (Kennewock Herald)
Kelso rejects traffic aid to businsses (Longview News)
Waste ordinance brings hearing (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles palm tree may be lost (Port Angeles News)
Spokane county plans commemorative coin (Spokane Spokesman)
County 'Stuart sucession' in process (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima turns down new billboard ban (Yakima Herald Republic)

A national view on the Stallings entry

ridenbaugh Northwest

From a political update today on the left-leaning Daily Kos site, which each day reviews political developments around the country.

Idaho's filing period closed last Friday, revealing a welcome blast from the past who had previously flown under the radar: Democratic ex-Rep. Richard Stallings is running to get his old seat back. You might put the stress on "old," though: Stallings is 73 and served from 1984 to 1992. He gave up the seat to run for Senate, lost to Dirk Kempthorne in the general election, and tried again to get it back when it was open in 1998, but lost to current occupant Mike Simpson (by a not-awful 53-45 margin).

This isn't quite so crazy as it sounds: Stallings seems to be taking a page from Joe Donnelly, in that he probably senses an opening here thanks to the GOP primary battle. If the establishment-flavored Simpson loses to tea partier Bryan Smith, and Smith subsequently goes on to insert his foot in his mouth repeatedly, he might have a bank-shot opportunity here, despite the district's dark red leanings. On the other hand, though, Donnelly made the leap straight from House to Senate, while Stallings has been out of the congressional picture for decades.

However, while you might imagine that this district has shifted dramatically over the decades, it was actually almost as red back when Stallings represented it. In fact, Stallings was also one of the most conservative Dems in the House at the time. The question, though, is whether he can re-find a niche in a decidedly more polarized national landscape. (David Jarman)

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)

Jewell awaits delegation invite before White Clouds talk (Boise Statesman)
Evaluating Boise grocery stores (Boise Statesman)
Congress looks at fire-fighting funds (Lewiston Tribune)
Pistol club still set for eviction by Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Lawsuit filed over ag-gag (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Nampa Press Tribune, Sandpoint Bee)
Moscow Syringa park water woes may be over (Lewiston Tribune)
Lighting upgraded on Paradise Path (Moscow News)
Schools could opt out of Idaho wifi deal (Moscow News)
Caldwell subdivision still battled over (Nampa Press Tribune)
ID Senate approves big biz tax credit (Pocatello Journal)
Boating negligence law clears legislature (Sandpoint Bee)
Masive windstorm in southern Idaho (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)

Downtown Philomath leader speaks (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Snowpack still below average (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Local governments consider pot moratoria (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Cougar 2 captured, seeking No. 3 (Eugene Register Guard)
Uproar in Klamath commission race (KF Herald & News)
Two KF fire district directors face recall (KF Herald & News)
New federal wildfire funds sought (KF Herald & News, Ashland Tidings)
Ashland looks at seismic upgrades (Ashland Tidings)
Adjusting schools with Common Core (Mail Tribune)
Wyden reviews area for teest drone (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Massive diesel spill near Pendleton (Pendleton East Oregonian)
The 27 unchallenged legislators (Portland Oregonian)
Possible lawsuit from former Cover Oregon leader (Portland Oregonian)
Debate over hatchery fish degrsding natives (Portland Oregonian)
Possible connection: OHSU and Salem Health (Salem Statesman Journal)

On complaints of Woodland principal (Longview News)
Tulalip Tribe leaders change (Everett Herald)
New ferry to be paid from car tabs (Everett Herald)
State alleged fraud from PS ex-employee (Port Angeles News)
Seattle sets ceiling on rideshare drivers (Seattle Times)
Amazon grows ad sales business (Seattle Times)
Many physical forms of pot sales (Tacoma News Tribune)
State supreme justice retires (Tacoma News Tribune)
Spokane limiting outlying utility service (Spokane Spokesman)
FEMA money could go to wildfires (Spokane Spokesman)
No agreement on oil train state bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver gets $200K for brownfield cleanup (Vancouver Columbian)
High Medicaid signup in Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)
Common core examined in Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)