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Posts published in April 2014

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)

Improving crime rates at Canyon County (Boise Statesman)
Steve Antone dies (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Dredge miners blast EPA on rules (Lewiston Tribune)
Bond ratings stopped for Whitman County (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Nampa mayor reviews downtown construction (Nampa Press Tribune)
Updating the ag-gag lawsuit (Pocatello Journal)
Judge wants Google to ID email writer (TF Times News)
Little recycling, but uptick, in area recycling (TF Times News)
TF planning commission membership reviewed )TF Times News)

Corvallis reviewing OSU parking plan (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Whole Foods may take site (Eugene Register Guard)
Veterans health clinic groundbreaking (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing solar energy in Oregon (KL Health & News)
Phoenix I-5 work held off (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Lithia moving from downtown to edge of town (Medford Tribune)
DEQ dredging rules draw protests (Medford Tribune)
Oregon long-term insurance rates rise (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Tight Portland-area rental market (Portland Oregonian)
Criticism of state forest land sale (Portland Oregonian)
Group files in court to defend marriage provision (Salem Statesman Journal)
Marion Commissioner Milner retires (Salem Statesman Journal)

Obama coming to Oso (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Everett changes port renewal plans (Everett Herald)
More teacher molestation claims at Kennewick (Kennewick Herald)
Wahkiakum county takes over riverside park (Longview News)
Dungeness flooding a concern (Port Angeles News)
Representative Kilmer at Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Bertha inactive for narly a year to come (Seattle Times)
Special election voting day in Washington (Seattle Times)
How much surgery room does Spokane need? (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce Transit may spend $450k on PR (Tacoma News Tribune)
Medical provider needs at Yakima area (Yakima Herald Republic)

An Idaho original

carlson CHRIS


His name was Rollie Bruning, though some called him “RJ” as his by-line in print was always R.J. Bruning. Thought about him the other day when I took our grandchildren to Wallace to visit the old train depot. On our way there we walked past the store front office of what used to be The North Idaho Press.

My first journalism job was a brief stint at the paper during the late summer of 1968. The paper’s owner, Wallace mining magnate, Harry F. Magnuson, had hired Jay Shelledy to run the paper for two weeks as Bruning had suffered a heart attack. Shelledy, already doing a summer stint with The Spokesman-Review, subcontracted the job to me and gave me a two-day crash course in journalism.

When I showed up on a Monday morning there sat Bruning as if chained to his desk and his trusty old typewriter, cigarette dangling from his mouth. Be damned if he was going to let some snot-nosed kid run his paper for a couple of weeks. He convinced me though to stick around for the two weeks and help out. I learned quite a bit from him.

He was a classic Idaho original - opinionated but well-read, boisterous but with an ability to tell great stories, and a wonderful, infectious laugh. He could handle his whiskey and loved to play poker. Like Harry Magnuson, he was a rock-ribbed Republican, when Shoshone County was the most Democratic county in the state. (There was one precinct in Mullan that Andrus routinely carried 100 to one.)

He also was an outspoken supporter of Governor Don Samuelson. Wallace, and Kellogg, then was totally dependent on mining. Bruning was well-versed on the Mining Law of 1872, and on all aspects of the industry itself. During the 1970 gubernatorial election, he often criticized Andrus for his opposition to Asarco’s proposed molybdenum mine in the White Clouds.

So, I was somewhat surprised when in late 1974 Andrus told me to put out a press release announcing that Bruning was joining the gubernatorial staff as a special assistant and an unofficial envoy to the business community. In a politically astute move, Andrus recognized that RJ was the perfect ambassador to Idaho’s business community and to the various clubs they belonged to - the Rotarians, the Kiwanis, the Lions, the Elks. Wherever two or three business folks gathered, one would find RJ in their midst, and he must have spoken to every club in the state.

When Andrus became Interior Secretary, almost all the Idaho Mafia he took along was under the age of 35, except RJ. Though in his 60s, his vast knowledge of mining and his good relations with the industry, made him indispensable. Besides, he had gray hair and whiskers. Andrus installed RJ as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy and Minerals - a move well received. (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)

Canyon Fair ousted from Simplot Stadium (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho water situation improves (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho: nation's highest payday loan rates (Nampa Press Tribune)
Poachers digging deep into game (TF Times News)

Reviewing Republican U.S. Senate race (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Big expansion by Eugene Urgent Care (Eugene Register Guard)
Farmers in conflict over GMOs (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Jackson budget funds libraries (Ashland Tidings)
Looks like more rain in the spring (Medford Tribune)
Salem Health pushes to demolish building (Salem Statesman Journal)
Long-term health insurance costs rise (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oso mudslide cases tax revenue loss (Everett Herald)
Everett schools hope for bonds (Everett Herald)
Haven Energy promises strong safety at terminal (Longview News)
Replacing Neah Bay pier (Port Angeles News)
Debate rises over Seattle $15 minimum wage (Seattle Times)
More work on Spokane-Cheney road (Spokane Spokesman)
Debate over 'culminating projects' for high school (Spokane Spokesman)
When Obama visits Oso (Tacoma News Tribune)
Cutting trash costs with lower frequency (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark sees more cases of identity theft (Vancouver Columbian)
Starting repairs on Wanpum Dam (Yakima Herald Republic)

Uncertainty chills our economy

rainey BARRETT


The number one thing keeping our national economy - and thus all lesser economies - from growing as quickly as conditions would otherwise dictate - is the monumentally constipated and completely ineffective U.S. Congress. And you can take that to the bank.

Geoff Colvin, Fortune senior editor-at-large, has been talking to CEOs and economists. While hearing the usual bitching about regulations and taxes, the dialogue this time has been far overshadowed by one thing: uncertainty. In terms easily understood by economic dolts like me, the issue could be framed this way: “What the Hell’s going to happen tomorrow?”

Regulations and taxes have always been topics of discussion when people making large business decisions gather over their martinis. It used to be, no matter what changes and challenges there were in those two areas, business adjusted and life went on.

BUT - uncertainty has become the largest impediment to business - large and small. For example, the new healthcare law - regardless of what you think about it - is law. Republicans have vowed to repeal it. They can’t. But, as they keep trying, if you’ve got 50 to 100,000 employees in your business, how do you adjust your future planning? For what? Taken another step, if Republicans ever posed a serious legal challenge to the ACA, how long would Democrats tie the whole thing up in court? And to what outcome?

Then, there’s the “fiscal cliff.” With no congressional action to the contrary, there are those huge mandatory cuts in federal spending. Sequestration. Crippling cuts and possible tax increases to offset some of them. Despite how you feel personally about all that, remember the current crop of ideologues, naysayers and the ignorant will still control what Congress does - or doesn’t do. Wanna bet your farm on the outcome? Neither does General Motors. Or your neighborhood grocer.

Then, there’s the Federal Reserve. Its governing body holds the outlook that things economic are “more uncertain than they has been in the last 20 years” so no major actions have been taken. You get any sense of corporate direction out of that?

Life has always been a crap shoot. That’s just life. So, is all this something new? Yep, it is. Normally, as the government moved, changes it fostered affecting marketplace conditions could be anticipated and planned for. You knew what was coming and could adjust. Not now. Polarization in Congress has badly crippled oversight of federal agencies and their regulation-writing and enforcement. Congressional action that was supposed to happen last week - last month - or next month - has ceased. No new-from-the-ground-up federal budget for several decades is likely to be matched by no new-from-the-ground-up federal budgets for the next several years. Contracts expected by the private sector are still sitting on some bureaucrat’s desk. New programs languish in the congressional swamp because there are still no decisions on old ones.

And on and on and on and on. (more…)

In this week’s Briefings

car dragged
Marion County Sheriff's Office last weekend responded to the 2900 block of Wintel Road SE because Kyle Randall, age 24 was knocking on doors and asking residents for a place to sleep. After arriving deputies noticed a plume of smoke in the distance that turned out to be a car fire. When they went to investigate the fire they located the burned out carcass of the vehicle Randall had been driving. So after interviewing Randall and evaluating the scene deputies believe the following occurred. At around 5 a.m. Mr. Randall was driving east on Wintell Road when he drove through a stop sign and ran into a passing train. The train hooked his vehicle and drug him approximately 300 feet. Randall came to a rest, exited his vehicle and then sought out shelter from nearby residents. Randall was not injured in the crash, he was however arrested for DUII and taken to the Marion County Jail. At the jail his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. (Photo/Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Political news is ramping up in this week's editions of the Briefings, along with a range of other activities, from recovery at Oso (and plans for President Obama's visit there) to the odd case pictured above of a car crashing into a train in Oregon, dragged 300 feet - after which the driver walked away apparently without a scratch.

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)

Reviewing supt public instruction race (Boise Statesman)
Recovering after the Oso landslide (Boise Statesman)
Major changes possible for Canyon shelter (Nampa Press Tribune)
Looking at criminal case mediation (TF Times News)
Reviewing secretary of state candidates (TF Times News)

Little rule guidance on measuring pot (Eugene Register Guard)
More energy than expected in geothermal field (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing GMOs (Medford Tribune)
Where the Columbian Crossing $ went (Portland Oregonian)
Looking ahead to same-sex marriage ruling (Portland Oregonian)
Taxpayers funding battery recycling (Salem Statesman Journal)

New gun range planned near Sultan (Everett Herald)
Web crowdfunding on Oso mudslide (Seattle Times)
Puget Sound oil traffic on rise (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Spokane neighborhood considers renewal (Spokane Spokesman)
Previewing Obama visit to Oso (Spokane Spokesman)
Jails part of the Medicaid picture (Tacoma News Tribune)
Which parts of Vancouver have higher crime (Vancouver Columbian)
Big pay increase for city attorneys (Vancouver Columbian)

Supremely intense

idaho RANDY

Idaho these days may be more likely to have a truly competitive contest for its Supreme Court than for its major partisan offices – a complete reversal from a generation ago.

It had a competitive race in 2008 won by Joel Horton, and in 2010 won by Roger Burdick. The challenger in both of those, John Bradbury, now is in a competitive 2nd district judgeship race. The 2008 Horton race, which he won by a sliver – 50.1% - was the closest Idaho Supreme Court race since at least the 1940s.

Horton is up for re-election this year, and this time the challenger is a well-known and long-time Boise attorney, Breck Seiniger. Mostly, these Supreme Court races have been calm and magisterial, even when they've sometimes featured energetic personalities. But this one has become a knock-down, and even drawn other candidates into the fray.

Seiniger has unleashed several blasts in the direction of the court, but this one (posted on his campaign web site) aimed directly at Horton got the most response: “Since Justice Horton has chosen to make impartiality an issue in this race, let me share with you Greg Obendorf’s story. In 2008, Idaho Supreme Court Justice Joel Horton was in another very tight race for re-election. . . . During this time, the Idaho Supreme Court deliberated on an appeal filed by J.R. Simplot, Co. to overturn a Canyon County jury’s $2,435,906 verdict in favor of a group of Idaho farmers, including Mr. Obendorf, and against Simplot.

"While the Obendorf case was under deliberation Justice Horton appointed one of Simplot's in-house attorneys as his political treasurer. After doing so, not only did Justice Horton fully participate in the Idaho Supreme Court deliberations on this case, he wrote the opinion which resulted in all of the damages awarded by the jury were taken away, and the case being sent back for re-trial. Justice Horton's opinion in favor of Simplot was issued on May 1, 2008 and Justice Horton was re-elected on May 20, 2008.” (He placed his supporting information online at (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 Albertsons CEO talks corporate plans (Boise Statesman)
Lewiston kindergartners heading to Clarkston? (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow preparing for road construction (Moscow News)
Feds, state at standoff on Hanford cleanup (Moscow News)
New UI president settling in (Moscow News)
More cops for Nampa schools (Idaho Press Tribune)
Poachers a heavy load on Idaho wildlife (Idaho Press Tribune)
Busy Pocatello Cr Rd area land for sale (Pocatello Journal)
New Sandpoint stadium design set (Sandpoint Bee)
Bonner assessor candidate has $448k federal tax liens (Sandpoint Bee)
Earthquakes around Challis (TF Times News)
But $18m grant for Friedman airport (TF Times News)

UO Foundation asked to avoid fossil fuels (Eugene Register Guard)
Whole Foods considering Eugene site (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water deal signed (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Charter cable conversion draws critics (Medford Tribune)
Kenton will lead EOU (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Public has questions on events center (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Expansion at Boardman Cheese plant (Pendleton East Oregonian)
WA state blasts Hanford cleanup plan (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Draining Portland water due to yuck factor (Portland Oregonian)
Water shortage at Crater Lake? (Salem Statesman Journal)

More Oso mudslide answers wanted (Everett Herald, Longview News)
State may ease on fish pollution rules (Everett Herald)
Hanford cleanup plans roundly blasted (Kennewick Herald)
Allegations of abuse at Woodland school (Longview News)
WA may lost No Child school waiver (Seattle Times)
Sandpoint plans solar paving project (Spokane Spokesman)
Sterling-Umpqua merger is complete (Spokane Spokesman)
Iconic Vancouver Steakburger closes (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse leads in 4th district money (Yakima Herald Republic)

Idaho and the 17th

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

The Idaho Republican Party endorses repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows election of U.S. senators by popular vote – and not the Legislature.

I say get ‘er done, because it makes no difference. Election by the people and the Legislature would produce the same results in this Republican state. Idaho has not had a Democrat in the U.S. Senate since Frank Church and, since Democrats are so inept, I doubt if I will see another Democrat in the Senate in my lifetime.

So what kind of U.S. Senators would we get if they were elected by the Legislature? We’d have Mike Crapo, for sure. He was a former president pro tem of the Idaho Senate and a member of the House of Representatives before moving to the Senate. Who would fill the second slot? Why, it would be Jim Risch – a former Senate pro tem, majority leader, lieutenant governor and governor.

Both would be slam dunks in the Legislature.
In the past, Idaho has had Jim McClure, Steve Symms, Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne. They, too, would be easy choices for the Legislature.

So why bother with the formalities? Election to the U.S. Senate in Idaho would be like electing a pope, or appointing a Supreme Court justice. It would be for life – or until the senator decided to quit. Or, in the case of Craig … you get the point.

The argument for keeping the 17th Amendment is that election by the people produce a better and more accountable government. In most cases, and probably most states, that’s probably true. But, not in the Gem State. Idaho Republicans have no problem force-feeding repeal down the throats of the rest of the nation, and they damn well expect their elected officials to support that part of the GOP platform.
Elected officials, naturally, are reluctant to take away voting rights from the people. But I have no such problem since the electorate automatically votes the Republican ticket anyway.

Think of the time and money that could be saved if the Legislature elected U.S. senators. Crapo and Risch would not have to spend any time kissing up to big-money lobbyists and padding their campaign accounts. They wouldn’t have to worry about doing annoying little things like holding town hall meetings, or spending millions of dollars on advertising. The only people they would need to talk to are the Republican leaders of the Legislature. Get them on your side, and the rest will follow like sheep.

Repeal of the 17th Amendment would be one way to remove the influence of money in politics. It would be kind of nice knowing that we didn’t have a U.S. Senate that was bought and paid for by lobbyists.