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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)

Coroner yard sign draws attention, criticism (Boise Statesman)
Board revises guns on campus rules (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho could get more med school space (Moscow News)
W Washington U needs minorities, president says (Moscow News)
Closed 'for remodel' store a problem (Nampa Press Tribune)
Gas & oil auction pulls $1.1 m (Nanpa Press Tribune)
Kuna considers school levy (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU museum in National Geographic (Pocatello Journal)
Bonner County may see megaloads (Sandpoint Bee)
Idaho militia looking for recruits (TF Times News)

Klamath water agreement signs today (KF Herald & News)
Considering Klamath public safety funds (KF Herald & News)
Preparing for drought in Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Construction around I-5, Phoenix (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Audit on welfare urges job emphasis (Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Big increase in oil trains in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Marion County ends immigrant jail holds (Salem Statesman Journal)

Meeting reviewing Oso mudslide (Everett Herald)
Inslee visits Olympic tribes (Port Angeles News)
Ride service petitions stall on signatures (Seattle Times)
Western Washington U enthic comment (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian)
Release of CRC spending records (Vancouver Columbian)
Zoning debate over pot production (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima downtown design seeking ideas (Yakima Herald Republic)

A candidate quietude


The Washington official candidate filing week is now exactly one month away. From there, candidates in races contested by more than two people will have three months to try to pull into the win or place slots so they can advance to November.

Usually, by this time, the ruckus is clearly audible.
The general quiet we're seeing right now may relate, in addition to the absence of statewide and federal senatorial candidates, to the point that only but so many contests will feature more than two serious candidates. Only for that relatively small number of races will the August primary really matter, other than as a kind of distant early polling.

As matters sit the primary shouldn't be notably decisive on the U.S. House level. Of course, there aren't likely to be many serious contests there anyway even come November. But even in the 1st district, widely perceived as the most competitive, there's unlikely to be more than one serious challenger in the field.

The major exception may be in the 4th U.S. House district, which not coincidently is the one where a retirement (that of Republican Doc Hastings) is opening the seat. The 4th will very likely remain Republican in November, but the name of the Republican nominee is far from settled, and so is the field. Of interest: Will this be a case where two Republicans face each other in November? (There's a good chance, however, there will be enough Democratic votes in the primary to at least secure a second-place slot for the general.)

Among candidates, that may be far and away the most interesting result to watch in Washington on primary day. A handful of legislative races could work the same way, where one party or the other draws just enough strong contenders to throw the primary result into doubt. But that'll likely be only a few.

The top-two system has its advantages, and it may wind up making the general election more interesting than otherwise.

For the primary, maybe not so much.

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)

Tuition increases cut at UI, BSU (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WA transport commission visits Palous (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Moscow works out play field funding (Moscow News)
Tulalip state senator visits WSU (Moscow News)
Library square funding still discussed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa school district faces employee suit (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fair board looks at 20/26 location plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Employees sue Chubbuck WalMart for various (Pocatello Journal)
Prescribed burns at Pandhandle forests (Sandpoint Bee)
Sandpoint considers stimulus for jobs (Sandpoint Bee)
Magic Valley veterans form new political party (TF Times News)
No SAT cost for many Idaho students (TF Times News)

Corvallis looks at plan code updates (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Water deal signing on Friday (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission debate held (KF Herald & News)
Klamath public safety funding considered (KF Herald & News)
Gun debate in Ashland (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Port dispensaries banned in Jacksonville (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Wildfire risk high at Ashland (Medford Tribune)
All Umatilla cities ban pot stores (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Cover Oregon not Oracle's fault, it says (Portland Oregonian, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Inadequate oversight alleged in welfare (Portland Oregonian)
Polk's pot dispensary closes, county order (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviving Oso-area, Darrington economy (Everett Herald)
Linking pot business, movies (Port Angeles News)
Future of buried landfill considered (Port Angeles News)
WA Medicaid rolls increasing fast (Seattle Times)
Help with Oso mudslide (Seattle Times)
New Seattle police chief chosen (Seattle Times)
Legislator Shea supports Nevada rancher (Spokane Spokesman)
CdA tribe offers poker, provoking state (Spokane Spokesman)
Gig Harbor mayor dismisses administrator (Tacoma News Tribune)
Audit of CRC wonders about $17m (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot vending machines in state? (Vancouver Columbian)
Cantwell on oil terminal concerns (Vancouver Columbian)
More discussion of WSU med school (Yaking Herald Republic)

Balukoff’s guns

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff acknowledges that he hangs out mostly with his fellow Democrats. If he spent time in rural communities, and coffee shops not named Starbucks, he would know better than to take on the National Rifle Association – the sacred cow of special interests in Idaho.

Balukoff may well be correct about the NRA’s candidate survey being full of loaded questions, but he shouldn’t be surprised about that. The NRA is a defender of gun rights and many Idahoans love the organization because of that.

For a lot of Idahoans, the three most important issues in an election are: Guns, guns and guns. Rep. Raul Labrador’s town hall meetings often take on the flavor of an NRA convention. Of course, Balukoff would be the last person you’d see at a Labrador town hall meeting.
The NRA endorsement is the prized pig of any election season in Idaho. Even those who don’t get the NRA endorsement will talk about their avid support of the Second Amendment. But almost nobody takes on the NRA – except for Cecil Andrus, and Balukoff rightfully acknowledges is no Cecil Andrus.

According to a story by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey, Balukoff was advised by his campaign manager to stay silent on the NRA. So instead of following that advice, he issued a press release saying, “Special interests gave us Idaho’s guns on campus law.”

So under Popkey’s byline, Balukoff committed political suicide in the front page of the Idaho Statesman. How stupid can you get?

Balukoff ought to know the legislative chambers are full of people who think that universities, school classrooms, the streets and public places would be a lot safer if people who knew how and when to use guns were allowed to carry them. These lawmakers don’t need the NRA to tell them how to vote on gun issues.

If Balukoff was trying to do an impersonation of Andrus, who took on the gun lobby almost 30 years ago, it was a poor effort. Andrus is about the only person who could get away with calling NRA leaders “gun nuts.” (more…)

To Wasden – listen up

carlson CHRIS


Never having met or even talked with Idaho’s current attorney general, Lawrence Wasden, I have no compunction about offering some free political advice.

First, in reviewing opinions he has provided to the governor and through his deputies, to the various state agencies, he comes across as thoughtful, reasonable, prudent, and logical with a good dose of common sense. He is not overtly partisan, either. He reads the law with due deference to precedent, and gives solid advice.

Secondly, he displayed genuine political courage in reframing the upcoming primary campaign as a fight for the soul and the future of the Republican Party, with reasonable, sensible, moderate Republicans on one side and unreasonable, uncompromising, blindly ideological “wing nuts” (my choice of words, not his) on the other side.

He is absolutely correct.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw an op-ed in the
April 9th edition of the St.Maries Gazette-Record, written by an intelligent but nonetheless rock-solid right-winger in Benewah County, Ken deVries. He does his homework and he at least listens politely to those he disagrees with.

Ken charged the attorney general had aligned himself with the “take your guns away” crowd, led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when he signed off on Idaho filing an amicus brief in the case that led to the historic Heller vs. the District of Columbia ruling in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That ruling, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority, was the first time the Court ever interpreted the Second Amendment to be a qualified right for an individual to keep and bear arms to protect himself and his property apart from the Constitutional language that appeared to tie that right only to keeping and maintaining a well armed militia.

For some yet to be adequately explained reason, the office of the Idaho Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the preceding case and joined with the likes of the attorney generals of states like New York and Massachusetts, and liberal “we-need-more gun control” mayors like Mayor Bloomberg.

In discussing the issue with the Gazette-Record’s publisher, Wasden’s office claimed a mistake was made, that they quickly withdrew the amicus brief, turned around and filed a brief supporting the ultimate majority view as expressed by Justice Scalia. I accept that explanation, but Wasden has to recognize there are still unanswered questions.

Is the lawyer who drafted the initial amicus brief still on staff? If so, why wasn’t he fired? Anyone with an ounce of sense looking at the other signers should have known Idaho didn’t belong in that company. Some may make the argument that the AG’s office essentially thought the brief which they temporarily joined was all about a state’s right to develop its own rules and regulations. (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)

Bud Purdy dies (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Copies of Meridian's controversial book sent (Boise Statesman)
State sues Potlatch, Clearwater on fire (Lewiston Tribune)
Risch land exchange bill on hold (Lewiston Tribune)
Report: Lewiston port promoting growth (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow meeting covers substance abuse (Moscow News)
Moscow water bond approved (Moscow News)
Chaney won't quit House race (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI reviewing Canyon fair relocation (Nampa Press Tribune)
Meridian interchange work begins (Nampa Press Tribune)
Explosive from WWII at Pocatello's airport (Pocatello Journal)
Sho-Bans win control of FMC site (Pocatello Journal)
Grace/North Gem school merger hearings (Pocatello Journal)
Legislators review session (Sandpoint Bee)
Hot sheriff's race in Minidoka County (TF Times News)

Pot outlet bans sought in 71 cities (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Lane sheriff seeks Florence cop job (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Community College short on funds (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT nears energy self-sufficiency (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission forum planned (KF Herald & News)
Funding sought for Klamath basin research (KF Herald & News)
Ashland prohibits plastic bags (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Kentucky man may head Medford schools (Medford Tribune)
Cover Oregon repairs under review (Medford Tribune)
Teachers hired at more-flush districts (Portland Oregonian)
OR job growth rising again (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Still looking for Oso mudslide causes (Everett Herald)
Mini-dam on Skykomish River discussed (Everett Herald)
State pressure could risk Hanford projects (Kennewick Herald)
Kennewick won't annex 21 acres (Kennewick Herald)
Goldmark takes timber money (Longview News)
Post-AG complaint, Dish refunds $2m to customers (Longview News)
Big concerns about Puget loss of 1k Boeign jobs (Seattle Times)
Seattle metro tax proposal (Seattle Times)
Spokane asks for parks levy (Spokane Spokesman)
Voters may consider full-time Spokane council (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma council considers new hotel (Tacoma News Tribune)
Voters back competing gun proposals (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
I-205 plan may help with driving (Vancouver Columbian)

The financial base and the voting base

harris ROBERT


Welcome Robert Harris, our latest contributor at Ridenbaugh Press. Harris has lived his entire life in the Oregon and Washington. He is the managing partner of Harris Law Firm, a general practice “Mom and Pop” law firm of ten attorneys located in the Portland Oregon metro region. For 30 years he was a registered Democrat but is now a leader in the Independent Party of Oregon and the editor of

The US Supreme Court's line of cases protecting virtually unlimited election spending (and likely soon to make unlimited campaign contributions protected as free speech) has greatly empowered party and candidate financiers. A relatively small number of large corporations, unions, and wealthy donors are a distinct financial base within each major party. And a Party’s financial base is as important as the voting base. Because while money will automatically create a viable candidate (see Monica Wehby) and thus votes, a voting base won’t automatically create a large enough financial base to win an election.

So, it’s fair to now say that each major party has a distinct and powerful voting base and a financial base. And the edge the Democratic Party in Oregon has is that it’s financial base and voting base have greater issue overlap than the Republican financial and voting bases.

OR GOP base parties

The Oregon Democratic financial base is clearly unions and more specifically public employee unions. And the Democratic Party is very clear that it’s number one issue is the well being of employees. Preferably union employees, and more specifically public employees. Whether the issue is PERS, public spending on construction projects or schools, tax increases to pay for these services, government oversight or control of the land use process, the financial base and voting base of the Democratic Party are generally in sync on major issues and policies. Consequently, there is little tension within the Party and it can act very cohesively with less internal disruption or conflict between the two bases.

In comparison, the Republican financial base is more interested in a libertarian capitalism. Less government regulation and low taxes, while it’s voting base is more animated by social issues . Though low taxation and less government regulation are important as well for the voter base their blood boiling issues are immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and religious policies such as prayer in school and evolution. And, while disagreements between the Democratic financial base and voting base are more related to relative importance of a particular policy, the differences between the Republican financial and voter base are more often about the policy itself. Businesses want immigration reform. And think being anti gay is bad for business. (more…)

The case for Fulcher

mansfield DENNIS

Many states are preparing to soon hold their Primary elections. Throughout the western states, the primaries are often held in the spring. For some states, like Arizona, their races for party nominations are held at the end of summer.

In Idaho, this party-centric nominating election is held in late May.

The two races that seem to capture the lion's share of attention and news in Idaho are the GOP Primary races for Attorney General and Governor.

I've already covered the Attorney General race - stating that Christ (pronounced Chris) Troupis would make fine NEW attorney general. The incumbent's tenure has simply been too long. (Having advocated term limits and fought a dying battle on behalf of them in Idaho, I STILL believe that elected officials MUST return home - either by force of law or force of vote.)

Regarding Governor, the case is the same.

Idaho's sitting Governor, Butch Otter, and I have known each other for 23, almost 24 years. Many of those years have been friendly years - only distancing ourselves for a brief period of time when one another got in the way of the other's mutually-desired GOP nomination to US Congress - a dozen-plus years ago. He won. I endorsed him the very next day and worked to see him get elected three times as Congressman and then twice as Governor. I have a deep affection and fondness for Butch and Lori Otter.

I also have a deep, decades-long friendship with Russ Fulcher and his family. I write about Russ in my book Beautiful Nate.

Originally, since neither candidate had asked for my endorsement, I withheld it. I just sat and watched - until this week.

Maybe it was today being Tax Day, maybe it was just my nature to think long and then act ...

Today I decided to act and endorse State Senator Russ Fulcher for the GOP nomination for Governor of Idaho.

Here's why:

Governor Butch Otter made two large blunders.

First, he embraced (and then led on) the state healthcare insurance exchange plan. He had a chance to be the Butch Otter many Idahoans have come to know and appreciate. Oddly, Butch Otter failed to BE Butch Otter on this major issue, failing to join many of his fellow GOP governors as they stood against it.

Second, he decided to run a third time as governor. (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)

Eagle seizes part of greenbelt tract (Boise Statesman)
Women sue BSU on sex assault (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Lewiston extends smoking ban (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho public defender system blasted (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU will help at Oso mudslide (Moscow News)
Syringa park still said not in compliance (Moscow News)
Moscow city looking for marketing, rebranding (Moscow News)
Enrollment down at Treasure Valley CC (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon house prices and prices up (Nampa Press Tribune)
200 jobs at new Shelley jerky plant (Pocatello Journal)
Seizure of pot-laced candy at Montpelier (Pocatello Journal)
Litehouse buys Coldwater building (Sandpoint Bee)
Compromise Rangen water call ruling (TF Times News)
Battle between Lincoln clerk, planning head (TF Times News)
Businesses weigh in on TF downtown renewal (TF Times News)

More opening for Oregon jobs (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Benton Commission candidates at forum (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene sets new business tax break (Eugene Register Guard)
KF explores air service options (KF Herald & News)
Klamath water project still short of water (KF Herald & News)
Gold Hill considers waste facility (Medford Tribune)
Oregonian nabs Pulitzer for PERS edits (Portland Oregonian)
Salem doc top OR earner for Medicaid (Salem Statesman Journal)
Chemeketa president in line for new job (Salem Statesman Journal)

Jail death care settled for $1.3m (Everett Herald)
GEO okays Boeing tanker effort (Everett Herald)
Kennewick faces coach abuse case (Kennewick Herald)
Maybe cleanup cuts at Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
Feds block some water for pot fields (Kennewick Herald)
Sequim city hall demolished (Port Angeles News)
Rodney Tom won't run again (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Goldmark reverses, accepts $100k timber money (Seattle Times)
Heavy drawndowns at Wanapum Dam (Spokane Spokesman)
Fire wipes out Puyallup fair hall (Tacoma News Tribune)
Herrera Beutler on fish preservation bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Ethics board reviews legislators free lunches (Vancouver Columbian)
Utilities/Transportation reviews party buses (Yakima Herald Republic)