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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)

Poisoning ravens to help sage grouse (Boise Statesman)
Renewing forests damaged by disease (Boise Statesman)
Otter line-vetoes governor's pay raise (Boise Statesman)
Wolf numbers decline but still substantial (Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Students dean Pitman leaves UI after 41 years (Moscow News)
Planning for Pullman-Moscow airport (Moscow News)
Commercial end of Nampa library in question (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello debate over science teacher (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho public defender system still troubled (TF Times News)

Reviewing sale of state forest lands (Coos Bay World)
Home rule ballot issue coming to Curry (Coos Bay World)
Homeless camp Whoville closed (Eugene Register Guard)
Developers at Glenwood financing (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Skywest flights will end (KF Herald & News)
Board of directs starts at OIT (KF Herald & News)
Board for SOU approved (Ashland Tidings)
New report on Cover Oregon options (Portland Oregonian)
Pioneer Courthouse Square 30 years (Portland Oregonian)
Open meeting violation alleged at ed district (Salem Statesman Journal)

Debating blame for mudslide (Everett Herald)
Inslee signs state budget bill (Everett Herald)
Breach in causeway could help fish (Kennewick Herald)
New wilderness possible in Umatilla NF (Kennewick Herald)
Little measuring of possible slides (Longview News)
Reviewing vocational education at Seattle (Seattle Times)
Inslee vetoes bill on drones (Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic)
Mudslide help continues (Vancouver Columbian)
medical provision changing structure (Yakima Herald Republic)
Roundabout planned near Yakima Boise mill (Yakima Herald Republic)

From the kernel


Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux computer operating system (on which this publication is produced), doesn't get out a lot, at least not to speak to groups.

Written into his employment contract is a provision saying he can't be required to speak to groups. Although he has lived in the Portland area for about a decade, he has appeared at the local (and highly active) Linux users group, which just celebrated its 20-year anniversary, only twice. The most recent occasion was Thursday night.

Mostly, he said, he works at his computer, overseeing the “kernel” of the operating system named for him; “the kernel is my real life's work.” His employer is an open-source foundation which is based in the area. A native of Finland but a United States resident for 17 years, Torvalds speaks with only a trace of his native land and with great clarity.

Torvalds at Portland (photo/Randy Stapilus)


As the people who have felt the sting of his barbs could attest. (“C++ is a horrible [programming] language,” he said at point, and dismissing executives at one corporation as “horrible people” at another.)

“You never see my happier outbursts,” he said.
He spoke as well with a good deal of humor as well, reflecting on the progress 0f Linux and open source software – which he said are doing well and are far ahead of where they were just a few years ago – and technology as well.

While some tech corporations have been resistant to working with open source (including Linux) projects, Torvalds said that most have been highly cooperative, and are becoming more so.

Gaming – in which he said he has little personal interest – is important for Linux growth into the future, he suggested. It has been an area where Windows has been notably strong.

In his work, he said, he often finds “bugs” in the code as new upgrades evolve. The plus side is that they're usually swiftly discovered and corrected. He acknowledged making periodic mistakes himself, but they're almost never seen by the world because they're caught before they get that far. Open source software is developed by large numbers of volunteer software coders who regularly review and correct new and existing code.

That concept of broad correction returned in some other ways as well. “You'd think banks are secure,” he said, but: “No, they're not.” But he added that wasn't a big problem, because banks have proven highly capable of fixing and correcting problems once they do happen, which is nearly as good.

Torvalds suggested focusing attention on computer privacy and security where it matters most (such as in financial areas), not as a broad subject for concern in all areas. The reach of information gathering, he said, “is not the end of the world. You want to care about some things, and not so much about others.”

Many people use Linux programming without know it, though “If you're a user, you really really shouldn't care.” Android smart phones, for example, use a Linux-based operating system, and many computer servers and embedded computers use it as well, because it is so inexpensive (free in many cases) and its coding is so efficient.

These areas interest Torvalds less, however: “For me, the main target is the desktop, and always has been.” That he suggested, is where the broad range of what a computer and an operating system can do really comes into play.

He acknowledged that a decade ago, Linux was not able to fully hold its own as a desktop operating system, but said that has changed. It has been picking up some steam in the United States, but growing faster in some other places, such as much of Europe and – for reasons unclear – South America.

The large open-source community in the Portland area only occasionally gets some visibility. But it gets some real encouragement from the fact that the founder and still final arbiter of one of the globe's leading operating systems lives close by. And, now and again, shows up at a users meeting.

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)

Meridian schools may bring in arts academy (Boise Statesman)
Shakespeare annexation held off (Boise Statesman)
Otter signs business tax break law (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Easing off Palouse cross-deputizing (Lewiston Tribune)
WA, ID AGs meet on pot, other issues (Moscow News)
American Fals fertilizer plant possible (Pocatello Journal)
Some regional flood risk (Sandpoint Bee)
Does wolf panel funding violate federal law? (TF Times News)
Water coming through main gait at Murtaugh (TF Times News)

OSU Bend site stays where it is (Corvallis Gazette Times)
New skatepark set for Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath commission candidates on economy (KF Herald & News)
Possible marijuana tax in Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Student housing discrimination in Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Medford superintendent possibles interviewed (Medford Tribune)
Megaload battle heats up (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Salem Boise site turned to apartments (Salem Statesman Journal)
PSU professors may strike April 16 (Salem Statesman Journal)

Mudslide finances in review (Everett Herald)
Fire chief at Everett retires (Everett Herald)
Respirators go to Hanford workers (Kennewick Herald)
Critics: EPA not enforcing rules at oil docks (Longview News)
Port Townsend biomass business ends (Port Angeles News)
Reports on elk, steelhead takes (Port Angeles News)
Seldom-used mudslide warning evaluations (Seattle Times)
Cuts in transit budget could hit college students (Seattle Times)
Med school sought for WSU (Spokane Spokesman)
State supreme court orders more pay for caregivers (Tacoma News Tribune)
Mudslide victims now total 30 (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Commissioner Stuart departs (Vancouver Columbian)
NuStar has crude oil proposal (Vancouver Columbian)
New police chief at Sunnyside (Yakima Herald Republic)
Possible end for Yakima-Ellensburg bus (Yakima Herald Republic)

Talmadge on the nuances of McClary

ridenbaugh Northwest

The conservative Washington Policy Center asked the former state Supreme Court Justice (and a former gubernatorial candidate) Phil Talmadge to offer his legal analysis of the state Supreme Court's decision and subsequent actions in the school funding case McCleary v. Washington. The full piece is available through a web site; his conclusion follows.

To a large extent, the issue presented here is not one of whether the Court has the power to take steps to order compliance with its McCleary opinion. It does. The more basic and nuanced question is whether it is wise to exercise that power.

When I was on the Court, I wrote a law review article entitled Understanding the Limits of Power: Judicial Restraint in General Jurisdiction Court Systems. 22 Seattle U. Law Rev. 695 (1999). In that article I discussed the school funding cases in Washington and recounted the problems experienced by other state courts who became a part of the political process.

In reviewing the Court’s post-McCleary orders, the Court has progressively articulated an ever more assertive role in defining basic education and its funding without defining the specific constitutional requirements for either. Chief Justice Madsen’s concurrence/dissent is apt on that point. The Court has not articulated what basic education is, against which to measure legislative compliance and funding. This lack of precision means that the Court may not be making so much a constitutional decision, as a political, or normative, decision on how schools should be organized and how much K-12 funding is “adequate.”

If the Legislature fails to meet the Court’s rather amorphous mandate, what is the Court’s “end game?” Will the Court find the Legislature or a distinct group of legislators in contempt? Justice Johnson’s dissent on the January 9, 2014 Court order is quite pointed on this question. Dissent at 6.

Will the Court order the expenditure of funds for K-12 without legislative appropriation or go so far as to direct the raising of taxes to meet the expenditure level it deems adequate? Plainly, this would be a profoundly political act in an era when general tax increases are greeted with little enthusiasm and often face roll back initiatives. In the absence of new revenues, if the Court simply redirected expenditures to K-12 schools, such a redirection must come at the expense of the two other significant components of the State budget--higher education or human services. Report of Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation at 22. The Court would hardly relish being the cause of distress to people in need or students in our universities and colleges.

Will the Legislature sit idly by and not engage in aggressive fiscal or constitutional steps in response to the Court’s actions? Many of its members are restive and have offered what seem to be retributive measures. Other, troubling actions are possible, limited only by legislative imaginations.
Apart from reducing the size of the Supreme Court, the Legislature could choose not to fund certain judicial services. It could also consider a constitutional amendment to give the Legislature the exclusive authority to define the courts’ jurisdiction or remedial authority.

None of this is pretty. The prospect of a major constitutional crisis between the legislative and judicial branch is something no one relishes.
While the Legislature certainly must heed the Court’s construction of article IX, § 1 and clearly define basic education and fund it, the Court should respect the Legislature’s exclusive constitutional role to organize K-12 education (article IX, § 2) and to tax appropriate funds (articles II § , VII, § 4).

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)

Meridian and the book of controversy (Boise Statesman)
1st term legislator Monks reviews session (Boise Statesman)
Profiling AG Wasden and primary race (Lewiston Tribune)
Windows XP phaseout an issue for schools (Moscow News)
Audit finds misspending of welfare money (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fewer Idahoans stuck at part-time work (Nampa Press Tribune)
Otter formally announces around state (Pocatello Journal)
CSI co-founder Eldon Evans dies (TF Times News)
New liquor license yields new TF bar (TF Times News)

New Latino center opens for OSU (Corvallis Gazette Times)
9th street hotel approved by commission (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Plans for Glenwood conference center, hotel (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene man died at Stillaguamish mudslide (Eugene Register Guard)
Fewer student defaults at Klamath college (KF Herald & News)
Salt Creek tunnel work on hold (KF Herald & News)
Jackson County sets pot moratorium (Ashland Tidings)
Planned burn at Siskiyou nearly uncontrolled (Ashland Tidings)
Medford wins on employee insurance case (Medford Tribune)
Review natural gas plant explosion (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hermiston police computers hit by virus (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Umatilla County sets pot moratorium (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Reviewing a timber battle near Reedsport (Portland Oregonian)

Everett planning budgets (Everett Herald)
Earthquake would mean Hanford risks (Kennewick Herald)
Crude oil shipment meeting at Clatskanie (Longview News)
Bomb threat yields arrests (Port Angeles News)
Lottery set for legal pot store licenses (Port Angeles News)
Snohomish considered buying Oso homes (Seattle Times)
Army Corps allowing trees on levees (Spokane Spokesman)
Banfield pet hospital base moves to Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil shipping hearing turns hot (Vancouver Columbian)

Off the cliff, again

rainey BARRETT


Rather than put the important part of this blog at the top of the column, I’m going to tell you a story. Please bear with me. The point of the matter will become very, VERY obvious.

The Missus and I recently decided to refinance our home. Several reasons to do so, not the least of which was a reduction in our interest rate by more than two-percent. Most financial advisors will say that’s reason enough. Having bought and sold many homes, we figured things would be pretty familiar. Wrong!

With our excellent credit standing and lack of significant debt, we really had little trouble qualifying. It was what we had to go through to get to the closing stage.

You’ve never seen such a pile of forms! We probably accounted for at least an entire tree from an old growth forest. My count is 63 signatures by each of us. Then, of course, all those forms had to be copied so we had a stack, the broker had a stack and the lender had a stack. Better make that two trees because - in the end - the title company had a stack.

Many - far too many - of the documents had no other reason than to cover someone’s backside. Even the loan broker could not offer a coherent reason for a number of ‘em. But the one that stands out in my mind is the one that certified who I am. The Missus had one, too.

It read something like this: “I, Barrett Rainey, certify that I am Barrett Rainey.” Then I signed it “Barrett Rainey.” Of course, that form had to be notarized. Which was done by someone who wasn’t even in the office! They were in another state! But, had these forms been left out of the tree-killing exercise, our loan wouldn’t have been approved. Made no difference what our credit was or what our assets may have been or our income. We had to self-certify that we are who we say we are. Some gibberish about “the Patriot Act” as I recall. My brain still has not made the connection. Sometimes it’s best to just get through the obstacle course alive without much knowledge about the process. Like sausage-making.

Then - wait for it - all of this paperwork - all of it - was sent to us electronically. Again. All of it. Multiple times! Because the broker who started it had to furnish it. The bank carrying the loan had to furnish it. The closing agency had to furnish it. And each had to be notified - in writing - that we had been furnished it. All of it! Can’t you just hear those saws working in the forest?

But there’s more. The whole tragic point of our experience was yet to come. Everything was signed, sealed and delivered. And the hurdles, inconsistencies and lunacy of those weeks will be just so many memories.

Except for this. Here’s what we learned when it was all over. All those signed and notarized documents have been sent off to another mortgage company somewhere else. They’re being copied - again. Then they’ll be bundled with similar new loans and sold through another money market to investment companies. There, they’ll be sorted out, re-bundled and - wait for it - sold into the world markets. Can you say “derivatives?”

This is one of the major calamities that nearly collapsed our financial markets several years ago! We’ve been here before! We’ve read the book AND seen the movie! And it’s happening again!!! Add to that the news from London that a young banker lost more than $2 billion in six weeks by doing what? Doing WHAT? Selling derivatives!!!!! Likely our home loan! (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)

Meridian schools block novel (Boise Statesman)
Legal issue on hunting fees used for wolves (Boise Statesman)
WSU beaver dams evaluated for flooding (Moscow News)
Idaho Center plan for Canyon fair (Nampa Press Tribune)
Teachers, Nampa district meet on health (Nampa Press Tribune)
Farmers markets returning (Nampa Press Tribune)
Republican forum shows heated split (Pocatello Journal)
Hearing on Post Office services (Pocatello Journal)
Boulder-White Clouds debate continues (TF Times News)
TF Council still consider transparency plan (TF Times News)

Protest at Corvallis by homeless (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Proposal out for 9th street hotel (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Pot moratorium for rural Lane stopped (Eugene Register Guard)
State seeks new contractor on tunnels (Eugene Register Guard)
'This Week in Klamath" CATV show dropped (KF Herald & News)
Another Cover Oregon resignation (KF Herald & News)
Partial pot moratorium at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland man enters 2nd US House race (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Changes in local fire chiefs (Medford Tribune)
Gas plant explosion aftermath (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton fire chief resigns (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton bats medical pot (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Dispute over Port of Astoria, China trade (Portland Oregonian)
Oregonian changes print format (Portland Oregonian)
Judge set to rule on gay marriage (Salem Statesman Journal)
Wine growler fillups threatened by fed rule (Salem Statesman Journal)

Stillaguamish mudslide in review (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Chancellor named for WSU Puget campus (Everett Herald)
Natural gas explosion at Plymouth aftermath (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
On Longview school chief selection committee (Longview News)
State health exchange closeout (Seattle Times)
Franciscan Health say no records lost (Tacoma News Tribune)
New Clark college campus nears (Vancouver Columbian)
Old style eatery planned for Yakima (Yakima Herad Republic)

Picking ’em

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

I did a lousy job with my NCAA basketball picks, so I thought I would try to redeem myself with a prediction of a different kind of Final Four – the Idaho Statesman’s editorial endorsements for the May 20 primary election. So, let “May Madness” begin (drum roll, please).

Governor: C.L. “Butch” Otter over Sen. Russ Fulcher. Otter favors Common Core; Fulcher opposes it; end of discussion.

1st District Congress: Rep. Raul Labrador over three Republican no-names. That is, if the Statesman endorses in that race. But it’s hard to imagine the Statesman taking a pass in a crowded congressional primary.

2nd District Congress: Rep. Mike Simpson over Bryan Smith, the pride and joy of Club for Growth. One tea party guy (Labrador) is enough. Bob Ehlert, the Statesman’s editorial page editor, already has lashed out against Club for Growth.

Secretary of State: Phil McGrane over three other Republicans. Ben Ysursa’s endorsement should tilt the Statesman’s vote toward McGrane.

The process, of course, won’t be so fast. Ehlert, Publisher Mike Jung and the community representatives will spend many hours in the vetting process – as other editorial boards have done over the years. But I boldly predict this is how it will turn out. Actually, it’s not so bold; these are safe picks for an editorial page that tends to play it safe.

I suspect the process will be about the same as it has in years past. The big change at the Statesman is there will be fewer endorsements – which can be viewed as good or bad, depending on your view of editorial endorsements.

“Previous Statesman editorial boards have made dozens, even hundreds of endorsements in these races,” Ehlert wrote in a recent column. “If we make more than a dozen I will be surprised, and that will happen only if we feel we have critical insight that will help you make your decision.”

He took some well-aimed hits on the old ways of doing business, stirring a Facebook reaction from the former opinions page editor, Kevin Richert, who especially took exception with this passage: “If we devote the time to do hundreds of 30-minute endorsement interviews with candidates we met only a minute earlier, we have to consider whether that is the best use of our time and platform – and to the exclusion of what other mission.” (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)

Idaho above average for federal money (Lewiston Tribune)
Asotin Judge Acet retires (Lewiston Tribune)
Whitman land transfer planned (Moscow News)
Swan Falls camp area may be upgraded (Nampa Press Tribune)
Obamacare signup period ends (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bankruptcy for Coldwater Creek? (Sandpoint Bee)
TF schools may sell land (TF Times News)

Former UO b-ball coach now at WSU (Eugene Register Guard)
Gonorrhea battle advances at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
New charter school at KF, Hope Art Academy (KF Herald & News)
40 KF area soldiers headed to Afghanistan (KF Herald & News)
Signup push at Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Home rentals to tourists, cracked down (Ashland Tidings)
Explosion at natural gas plant in WA (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Fewer taco trucks, 3, in Hermiston (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Blue Mountain Recovery Center closes (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Stillaguamish mudslide: overlogging (Portland Oregonian)
West Salem cancer rates examined (Salem Statesman Journal)
Polk county finance considered (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee seeks more mudslide aid (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Stillaguamish logging preceded mud (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Natural gas explosion near Plymouth (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
State wants more Hanford assurances (Kennewick Herald)
Health exchange signups conclude (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Longview News)
Longview Community House scales back meals (Longview News)
Spokane sprawl limitation plan vetoed (Spokane Spokesman)
Franciscan Health at Tacoma computer-hacked (Tacoma News Tribune)
New recycling effort at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)