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Posts published in March 2014

More about Fulcher

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Opposition to Obamacare and Common Core are two of the hooks Sen. Russ Fulcher has used to attract conservative voters in May’s gubernatorial primary race. But he says the “fun part” of his challenge to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is discussing his vision for the state, which goes beyond ideology.

He’s thinking big and dreaming even bigger. As he sees it, Idaho is sitting on a gold mine of untapped wealth and prosperity – the kind that could put Idaho on the same economic path as North Dakota, Wyoming and other energy exporters that have bulging state revenues.

“It’s a game changer,” he said. “Washington and Payette counties have natural gas that is pure and plentiful, and a lot of it is on private land. We haven’t done anything with the resources we have, but we know they are there. There’s no reason why Idaho can’t be powered with Idaho’s natural gas and generate all of the benefits that come with it.”

He says that the natural gas could be harvested with little, if any, environmental impact and no fracking.
The holdup, he said, is with the state – not the federal government. “It’s the state that’s putting up hurdles in front of private individuals who want to develop this resource.”

Fulcher says that, as governor, he would provide the leadership to open the doors to a new industry and a new era of prosperity. “It’s a matter of getting with the Department of lands and saying, ‘here’s your charter: Knock down those hurdles and let’s get this thing cranking.’”

North Dakota, with its explosive growth, might not be such an attractive role model. But at least, Fulcher is talking and thinking beyond business as usual. It’s far more interesting than Otter’s bit part in a low-budget movie more than 20 years ago.

Fulcher has plenty to say about Otter – and not about movies. (more…)

The siren call

carlson CHRIS


There’s an old saying that politics is a disease cured only by six feet of dirt. It seems especially true for those who have served in high public office, even those who fulfill the classic prediction that headlined an article written in the 1950s by Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger for The Saturday Evening Post: “They Never Go Back to Pocatello!”

Even those who stay inside the beltway to become high-paid lobbyists will sometimes forsake money because they miss the subliminal joy derived from the exercise of power, and the deference received from those courting their favor.

The itch to serve by a former holder of high office saw its latest manifestation on the last day for filing in Idaho on March 14th. Former Second District congressman Richard Stallings (1984-1992), the only Democrat to hold the seat in recent years, filed to reclaim his old job---again.

The now 73-year-old former history professor at BYU-Idaho attempted to move from the House to the Senate in 1992, but lost to the non-Mormon Republican, then Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne, by a 57% to 43% margin. Kempthorne’s victory largely lay to rest the false notion that a good Mormon Democrat would draw better in Idaho’s Mormon counties than a non-Mormon Republican.

Stallings wisely chose not to challenge the hugely popular Mike Crapo, a former Senate Pro Tempore and a successful Idaho Falls attorney, who easily won the Stallings-held seat in 1992. However, when after one term in the Senate, Kempthorne decided he would rather be governor, Stallings thought he had a fairly clear path for returning. Unfortunately for Richard, he ended up facing the talented Speaker of the Idaho House, Blackfoot dentist Mike Simpson. Richard went down to defeat by a narrow 52% to 48% margin.

Simpson has held the seat ever since and will be seeking his ninth term in November if he can dispatch Tea-bag Idaho Falls Republican attorney Bryan Smith who is mounting a serious challenge that will be decided in the May primary. (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)

New plans for Boise parcel near JuMP (Boise Statesman)
UI will get massive supercomputer (Lewiston Tribune)
Survival rates for wolf pups reviewed (TF Times News)

Ashland council holds session on guns (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Shakespeare Festival 2015 lineup announced (Ashland Tidings)
Phoenix petition would delay pot shop (Medford Tribune)
Republicans hope for Portland gains (Portland Oregonian)

New Mukilteo mayor cuts city jobs (Everett Herald)
About two departing legislators, Hope, Roberts (Everett Herald)
About the growing diversity in Bellevue (Seattle Times)
Challenges facing pot businesses (Tacoma News Tribune)
MultiCare Health sued over medical liens (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislature owes court a school report (Vancouver Columbian)
Common core trial tests next week (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)

Kratom drug overview (Boise Statesman)
Dog park efforts in Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
School broadband budget in review (Nampa Press Tribune)
Stallings running in 2nd district (Pocatello Journal)
Indian mascots in review (TF Times News)
Guiding on private land would be unlicensed (TF Times News)

Criticism of prospective subdivision (Eugene Register Guard)
In SW OR, calling firemen instead of police (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Rainbow trout dying at Cole Rivers hatchery (Medford Tribune)
Oil trains contain flaamable gases (Portland Oregonian)
defining cyberbullying in re-tweeting case (Salem Statesman Journal)

Managing open records with new tech (Everett Herald)
State, feds setting new hanford goals (Kennewick Herald)
Colorado got head start on pot sales (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald)
Gun accidents rise, no change in gun law (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Internal battles at Sequim museum (Port Angeles News)
What's next in health reform? (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane arena still paying off costs (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislature on education funding (Tacoma News Tribune)
Concerns ongoing on oil terminal spill (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark Commission gets another candidate (Vancouver Columbian)
Talk of a Columbia bridge east of 205 (Vancouver Columbian)

An election year session


You can't necessarily rule out political motivations in very much when it comes to this year's Washington legislative session.

Certainly not the fact that, as matters stand now, they're done for the year – no special session, no undone budget. When time came to get the deal done, both parties were there to deal.

And no doubt part of the reason was that the election was coming up, right around the corner, and no one wanted to be seen as too obviously obstructionist.

Governor Jay Inslee said his happiest moment as governor so far came during this session when he was able to sign the Washington Dream act – for undocumented, immigrant students, for they could obtain grants to go on to college. A headline in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called it “The Legislature's lone big accomplishment,” and probably that headline wouldn't be changed after sine die day. But it happened in large part because (and this isn't a merits argument against) a broad enough coalition developed around the state to ensure that people standing in its way would risk becoming road kill.

This will be a tense and close-fought legislative election in Washington. Without much at stake by way of major offices, attention will go to the legislature and especially to the Senate, where control of the chamber rides on the future of only a couple of seats. Because of the coalition nature of the current ruling majority there, the emotional stakes are even higher than usual.

None of this could ever have been far from the minds of many legislators this short session.

Now, the session done, they can fully commit to dealing with Topic A.

And hope the session next year operates on somewhat more straightforward motivations.

A different kind of AG

idaho RANDY

Attorney general is a technical job, held only by a lawyer, which may lead you think there's not a lot for a voter to decide between its candidates other than resume.

Not so. In deciding where to exert the state's legal muscle and in how he evaluates a legal situation, an AG can have real impact. Idaho's incumbent since 2002, Republican Lawrence Wasden, was a surprise: A long-time chief of staff in that office, he might have been expected to carry water for other powers at the Statehouse but instead marked out a careful but frequently gutsy course, displaying willingness to take on powers in the state when he saw reason to.

He seemed headed for a free ride in his fourth run for the office, but now has a primary challenger, Eagle attorney Chris Troupis. And that means some night-and-day voter choices lie ahead.

Note up front that Troupis is an experienced attorney of more than 30 years and evidently a capable professional. Also that judging an attorney by his clients can be unfair; representing controversial people and ideas go with the territory. And, a lot of Troupis' law practice concerns basic business law.

But you could key his practice too (acknowledging his supporters may argue with this) to the name he long has used - “Christ” Troupis. At his announcement last week he said he's changing that to “Chris,” because “I don’t want the election to be about my name.” He has used it for decades, though, in his law practice – it still was on its web site as of last week - and as a reference in news stories and elsewhere, and it was his ballot name when he ran for the state Senate in 2008. (In a thinly Democratic-leaning district, he pulled 42.4% of the vote.)

His law practice web site notes, about one of his higher-profile cases a decade ago, “I represented the Keep the Commandments Coalition pro bono in a lawsuit brought by the City of Boise after it denied my client's request for an initiative election on the return of a Ten Commandments monument to Julia Davis Park.” And there was Richard Peterson v. Hewlett Packard: “I brought suit against Hewlett-Packard Co. for Federal Employment Discrimination and wrongful termination under the Civil Rights Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. My client was terminated by Hewlett-Packard for posting scriptures in his work cubicle that were critical of homosexual behavior.” (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)

Candidate filings complete (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Sandpoint Bee)
Sonnenberg won't run again for Ada coroner (Boise Statesman)
Getting ready for guns on campus (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Blue Mountain logging may increase (Lewiston Tribune)
$2 million wolf bil moves (Pocatello Journal)
DEQ considers fertilizer plant at Am Falls (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint suit over highway revenues delayed (Sandpoint Bee)

Checking on ocean radiation (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Sather project gets wetlands permits (Corvallis Gazette Times)
OR turns down Willamette Water rights (Eugene Register Guard)
Mental state of Klamath commission candidate (KF Herald & News)
Grant writer hired for Kiger Stadium (KF Herald & News)
SOU undertakes job restructuring (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Ski season abandoned at Mt Ashland (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
New White City-Phoenix road planned (Medford Tribune)
Business battle over The Dalles wine effort (Portland Oregonian)
Rental hub Airbnb to set up Portland center (Portland Oregonian)
FBI won't background check pot applicants (Portland Oregonian)
ACLU involved in McKay High School suspensions (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett mini-mall called nuisance (Everett Herald)
Everett environmental cleanup spots noted (Everett Herald)
Franklin County money management criticized (Kennewick Herald)
Kennewick intersection to be reworked (Kennewock Herald)
Clark County spot drawing candidates (Vancouver Columbian)
FBI won't do pot background checks in WA (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Woodland High School construction starts (Longview News)
Stryker brigade shut down (Tacoma News Tribune)
Amazon to add new center at Kent (Tacoma News Tribune)
Aviation firm sues over airport eviction (Yakima Herald Republic)

Trying again

ridenbaugh Northwest

From a guest opinion by Idaho state Representative Hy Kloc, D-Boise, on his push for pre-kindergarten education.

It was almost a year ago that I first began exploring options for an education bill. Meeting with teachers and parents between legislative sessions, I quickly realized that the advantages of quality pre-kindergarten education made it the obvious choice. Most other states were already funding pre-K programs. Nationally, it was the one of the few educational initiatives that appeared to have champions in every quarter from science and industry to government. To my mind, there was every reason for optimism.

The Idaho Legislature had seen bills for pre-K education before. All of them had failed--not because they were bad bills, but because many Idaho legislators didn’t see pre-K as an essential investment for the future success of our youth or our economy.

To counter past concerns, especially around funding, I crafted a pre-K bill for a three-year pilot program that would be paid for by a public-private partnership. This pilot would involve five schools from across the state selected by the State Department of Education. Student participation would be voluntary, class size would be small, and parents would play an active role. Results from the pilot would determine if pre-K was right for Idaho.

I knew public support would shape the bill’s reception in the Idaho Legislature. So early drafts circulated among educators, parents, and educational advocates to collect their input and build a base of support. While I was hopeful the initiative would be well received, I wasn’t prepared for the flood of support that followed.

There were the early supporters such as Jim Everett, Treasure Valley YMCA; Nora Carpenter, United Way; Beth Oppenheimer and Kattalina Berriochoa, Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children; LeAnn Simmons, Idaho Voices for Children; as well as teachers and school administrators who had participated in pre-K programs, Idaho City School District’s John McFarlane being one. And there were some surprises, too.

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney said investment in the pre-K bill offered a better return for Idaho than spending on prison beds. Admiral Archie Clemins, retired Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, tied our national defense to quality early education. And business leaders, including Tommy Ahlquist, COO of The Gardner Group, and Ray Stark and Bill Connors of the Boise Chamber of Commerce, made the case that an educated workforce was essential for Idaho’s economy to expand and thrive. Proving that pre-K is truly a nonpartisan issue, Rep. Doug Hancey, (R) Rexburg, and Rep. Christy Perry, (R) Nampa, joined me as co-sponsors of the bill.

Coverage in the media, especially the commitment shown by Michelle Edmonds of Channel 6 News, helped get the initiative printed as HB 586 and voted on by the Education Committee in the final weeks of the 2014 legislative session. While that’s a long way from being passed into law, still, it’s greater progress than any of the previous attempts.

Thomas Edison said, “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those individuals and organizations statewide that showed support for HB 586. While this bill may be dead, I want to assure you the campaign in support of pre-K education is still alive and well. In fact, the next phase kicks off the moment the gavel drops ending the 2014 legislative session.

We will be back in 2015. And the reason is simple: None of us can afford to give up on Idaho’s future.

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)

Sage grouse protection on private land (Boise Statesman)
State orders directional-like billboard down (Boise Statesman)
Guns on campus signed, debated (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
WA legislature passes supplemental budget (Moscow News)
Hearing about new WSU provost (Moscow News)
Debate over 10 commandments marker at park (Sandpoint Bee)
Filer dog shooting debate continues (TF Times News)

Cover Oregon time extension requested (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Roper departs as OSU vice provost (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Nonprofit group buys Willamette land (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath commission race heats on radio (KF Herald & News)
Parents could see fines for truancy (KF Herald & News)
Downtown parking tight (Ashland Tidings)
Panel urges against ban on certain dog breeds (Medford Tribune)
Federal report blasts Oracle, state (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Beed prices rising as supply lowers (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Linthicum campaign appearance for Congress (Pendleton East Oregonian)
More school class time ordered at Portland (Portland Oregonian)
Wipes clogging sewage piping (Portland Oregonian)

State supplemental budget passes (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Health insurance deadline approaches (Everett Herald)
Street work impacting Kelso businesses (Longview News)
Population gives better odds at college slots (Kennewock Herald)
Nippon Paper plant manager departs (Port Angeles News)
Teens find jobs harder to get (Seattle Times)
Seattle cops get facial rcognition software (Seattle Times)
No legislative action on medical pot (Tacoma News Tribune)
Tacoma Historical Society gets new home (Tacoma News Tribune)
Massive drug raids at Spokane, Rathdrum (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane County may impose weed fee (Spokane Spokesman)
Ridgefield picks city manager (Vancouver Columbian)

Rusche on priorities

ridenbaugh Northwest

An opinion piece from Idaho State Representative John Rusche, D-Lewiston, the House minority leader, reflecting on this year's legislative session.

No Idaho parent asked me to come to this Legislature and underfund Idaho’s public education system. That, however, is the action endorsed last week by the House of Representatives when the majority party passed a $126 million tax cut for businesses and the wealthy.

Bills like this one make it hard for me to go home to my constituents and tell them that my peers in the majority party share their values of opportunity and educational success. It is hard for me to offer Idaho
families hope that Idaho’s elected leaders are prepared to bridge the gap between promises and actions.

After 20 years of this kind of flawed policy, Idaho ranks 50Eh in family wages, first in percentage of minimum wage jobs and near-last in per student investment.

These poor outcomes are interrelated. These outcomes result from a generation of generous tax cuts to the rich while cutting investment in our children’s future. Even businesses that might desire such a tax reduction would be loathe to seek it at the expense of a sound public education system.

Two problems I see with this bill (H 548). First, it does not reflect the wishes of ldahoans. Second, it ignores the evidence of the Majority’s past tax policy.

As of now, 94 out of the state’s 115 school districts must pass supplement levies simply to keep the lights on. Just 15 years ago, only 41 districts need such levies. In the intervening time, Idaho slashed its ability to raise money for education by cutting taxes for the rich. What happens if there is another $126 million removed and unavailable?

Local taxpayers took on ever increasing tax burdens. Why? Idaho families never said they wanted to see the opportunities for their children diminish. Twenty years of failed policy has led to many school
districts with 4-day school weeks, reduction in extracurriculars and more crowded classrooms.

So, if the Legislature continues to short public schools, the local school districts ask to raise property taxes to keep operating. Are parents and communities going to choose to limit their children’s potential? If they have a choice, none will do it. So in elections, the incumbent legislators brag that they are “cutting taxes”. And are “fiscal conservatives”. They have been playing and, it appears, continue to want to play, “hide the ball” and shift financial responsibility to local property taxes. Is that making education
a priority? (more…)