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Posts published in May 2014

Incumbent resiliency

idaho RANDY

Idaho had two clear slates of candidates running for major offices (and some legislative as well) within the Republican primary. Conventional wisdom had it that the incumbency would probably prevail.

The CW was essentially right.

At this writing, about half of Idaho's precincts are reporting, enough for clear calls in all but the closer races. It shows Representative Mike Simpson, after a sometimes fierce challenge, prevailing in a landslide. It shows Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter winning as well, though by a much narrower margin. Lieutenant Governor Bred Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden - also clearly in the winners column.

The two major races more difficult to call, yet, are the four-ways where no incumbent is running, for secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction. In those races, Lawrence Denney (for secretary of state) was running ahead, but at least yet not definitely; he was the anti-incumbent slate choice. But John Eynon, that slate's superintendent choice, was running last in his four-way.

All the sound and fury up rising against the incumbency seems, at this point, to have come to very little.

The Wehby challenge


Pretty decisively, Oregon Republicans chosen Monica Wehby as their nominee against Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. Now we'll see how that works out.

Yes, the theory is that sending in a women would help blunt the argument that the Republican Party is anti-woman. And yes, she's a physician, and that gives her an unusual platform in campaigning against Obamacare, and Merkley's support thereof.

Republicans are also, however, getting a nominee untrained in the rough and tumble of campaigns, in contrast to her chief rival, Jason Conger. (The business of running away from rough or embarrassing questions won't cut it in the general.) They're getting one who, according to a string of editorial boards, doesn't seem much educated on many issues outside of health care. And they're getting one entering the general election campaign with several newly-developed clouds overhead.

A great deal, of course, can still depend on the Oregon and national mood several months hence. But Wehby and her staff have some big challenges to overcome between here and there.

On the part of Oregon Republicans, however, they have once again cast their bet for major office on a candidate not necessarily beloved by the base, but presented as the most electable. It hasn't worked out for several elections running; we'll see now if it does this time.

Before election day


The timing turns out to be fascinating. Could this be the court decision over Oregon law that has more political effect in the state to the east?

That's on the timing and political side of things, as regards the Monday federal court ruling throwing out Oregon's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. There are of course many other effects, such as those on the people who actually got married in Oregon on Monday, and in the days and years ahead.

The decision was in no way a surprise. The opposition had expected it. The state, whose attorney general ordinarily is obliged to defend the constitutional provision in court, considered the case against it - in the light of recent Supreme Court decisions - such a slam dunk that it refused to mount any kind of defense. There was no legal opposition to an immediate launch to effects of the measure. Had the case not been brought, or moved more slowly, the issue was destined for a ballot issue in November, and seemingly no one - including its strongest critics - seemed to have any thought that it would fail.

A remarkable turnaround from 2004, when voters passed the same-sex marriage ban into the constitution. But then, much in politics is timing, and perceptions about the way things get done. Had not Multnomah County jumped the gun on the issue the way it did, the explosive force that passed the measure might not have succeeded.

And, simply, Oregon has changed some since then too.

The Monday decision does, as in places like Utah and Idaho, run in crosscut against the wishes of the state's majority; in Oregon's case, it is surely in line. So it may have little political impact in Oregon. Especially since, in this primary election, most people already had voted by midday Monday.

In Idaho, dealing at almost the same moment with similar legal issues, it may have some political effect on today's election: Those deeply concerned about the issue may react to it.

We'll know more about that in a few hours.

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)

Opposition to Boise bike lanes (Boise Statesman)
Oregon same-sex marriage approved (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Bonneville Co voting system changes (IF Post Register)
Election today (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Gay discrimination an issue at Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing a 2012 failed Whitman Co audit (Moscow News)
Moscow police consider new management options (Moscow News)
Council takes over Caldwell urban renewal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Massive carp take at AF reservoir (Pocatello Journal)
Shoshone Falls plant gets upgrade (TF Times News)

Same-sex marriage OKed in Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton East Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette Times, Ashland Tidings)
Downtown parking parage progresses (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Wolf critics opposing reintroduction (KF Herald & News)
Primary election set today (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Ashland Tidings)
Hermiston moves toward edit of charter (Pendleton East Oregonian)

Kitsap parks look to major upgrade (Bremerton Sun)
State reviews Kitsap highway congestion (Bremerton Sun)
Workers saw repairs around slide high-risk (Everett Herald)
County wants more time to consider slide areas (Everett Herald)
Oregon same-sex marriage approved (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Post moratorium continued at Woodland (Longview News)
Major state building may finally be named (Olympian)
Big fire on west side of Sequim (Port Angeles News)
Kilmer, Heck profiled (Port Angeles News)
Kathleen O'Toole named Seattle police chief (Seattle Times)
Seattle limits height for small lot building (Seattle Times)
Idaho GOP PAC said to be deceptive (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane holds off mobile food cart rules (Spokane Spokesman)
Water allowed for pot grows? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver may oppose oil transfer terminal (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima limits downtown parking in snow (Yakima Herald Republic)

In the briefings

Carlton fire
A fire broke out late on May 11 at the Scott Paul winery in Carlton. The cause was determined to be accidental. The building and some of its fixtures were scorched, but no wine apparently was damaged. (Photo/courtesy McMinnville Fire Department)


Elections dominate matters this week. Candidate filing closed last week in Washington, and the rose of congressional, legislative and judicial candidates - 350 of them - are in the Washington edition.

Oregon and Idaho have primary elections this week, so this edition wraps up the end of the campaigns for that stage. And, in Idaho, there's a look at the gone-viral Idaho Republican governor's debate.

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)

Otter reduces ombudsman order (Boise Statesman)
Eagle walking path leads to court battle (Boise Statesman)
Technology, DNA and cold cases (Lewiston Tribune)
Graduations at UI (Moscow News)
Inslee urges moving away from coal (Moscow News)
Bicycling growing in Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)

Corvallis working on parking districts (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Overnight capitol protests may be limited (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Improvements planned for crowded beltline (Eugene Register Guard)
Animal sheleters fill with cats (Ashland Tidings)
Utility costs may rise at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)

WSU opens Everett swag store (Everett Herald)
Inslee urges moving away from coal (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Group fights corporate political money (Longview News)
Profiling Reps. Heck, Kilmer (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Trying to rehab old theatre (Port Angeles News)
Kids learning how to computer-code (Seattle Times)
Cheney-Spokane 195 interchange opens (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma may help subsidized light rail cost (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark County goes after illicit massage (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima may restrict pahandling (Yakima Herald Republic)

Firing time

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Early in his political career, Gov. Butch Otter would encourage people to view political campaigns as part of a job-application process.
As with any good applicant, he greeted voters as he would with a CEO of a company – a winning smile and firm handshake. He looked sharp, had a resume that didn’t quit, and was quick and confident with his responses. For good measure, he’d drown his face with after shave lotion – just to make sure nobody forgot who Butch Otter was.
That was 1986 and Otter was applying for Idaho’s lieutenant governor. He landed that job and two others he applied for during that 28-year stretch – 1st District congressman and governor of this great state. Now, he is applying for a third term in the state’s highest office.

At 72, Otter is much older than when he first applied in 1986. But he still looks and feels sharp, has that winning smile, firm handshake and is as friendly as your next-door neighbor – minus the layers of after shave lotion, thank goodness.
Otter has been an easy hire through the years. But for company CEOs, there comes a time when employees must be fired. It often comes when an employee does something egregious to embarrass the company. The CEOs in Otter’s life were able to overlook a couple of embarrassing moments – a drunken driving arrest and entry into a tight-jeans contest.
But the other night, Otter did something that no CEO could ignore. He was responsible for making Idaho the nation’s laughingstock by insisting that Harley Brown and Walt Bayes be part of the only televised gubernatorial debate of this primary campaign. Brown and Bayes were total embarrassments, as Otter, debate organizers and everybody else knew they would be.

Otter’s political strategy worked to perfection. Brown and Bayes were sideshow distractions and the candidates didn’t even get around to talking about education. The message sent to industries, educators and others considering moving to Idaho is that this is a state of bikers and backward hicks and that people such as Harley Brown and Walt Bayes are worthy of consideration for the state’s highest office. If the head of the Department of Commerce were responsible for creating this kind of spectacle, he’d be fired – as he should be.
As a native Idahoan, I’m offended. And as one of the CEOs of this state, I am holding Butch Otter responsible for what he did to my state.
I’m going to fire him on Tuesday.

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)

Historical - 1st edition of the Statesman (Boise Statesman)
AG corruption unit stays busy (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Debate over sage grouse picks up (Boise Statesman)
A review of six top races (IF Post Register)
Trucking firms searching for drivers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Wilder reduces its school levy ask (Nampa Press Tribune)
Profiling Packer-Earl primary, Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Profiling 2nd district Simpson-Smith (Pocatello Journal)
TF officials endorse new N-W interstate (TF Times News)

New field at Mazama High School, KF (KF Herald & News)
Eugene council considers sick leave plan (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford ESD losing positions (Medford Tribune)
GMO issue survey enters campaign (Medford Tribune)

Exploring mudslide effects on Stillaguamish (Everett Herald)
The GMO battle in Oregon reviewed (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Should restaurant inspection scores be posted? (Seattle Times)
Bitter battle in Pierce legislative race (Tacoma News Tribune)
Reviewing questions for possible commissioners (Vancouver Columbian)
Dairy prices on the rise (Yakima Herald Republic)

The end of the Bovill Run

idaho RANDY

When I attended the University of Idaho back in the 70s, one of the semi-illicit student activities was something called the Bovill Run.

It was a typically stupid college-kid drinking challenge. The idea was that a carload of kids would cruise east to Troy, consume drinks at a local drinking establishment, head further east and stop at Deary and Helmer, and northeast to Bovill, rinsing and repeating at each location, then on northerly to Princeton and Potlatch, and any other alcohol purveyors in eastern Latah County, on the way back to Moscow. Left unclear was whether continued drinking at Moscow establishments constituted part of the challenge but, supposedly, the number of drinking places visited numbered around twenty.

I've been told that the Bovill Run was abandoned some years back. That certainly would have been a good thing.

There may be a dark echo to that in the closure of many of the small-town businesses – bars among them – in many of these small resource-industry communities. Not, of course, that the “run” was any sort of significant economic driver, but in the fact that the economy in these communities has fallen to the point that the escapade isn't even doable now.

The thought was prompted by a story last week in the Lewiston Tribune about the Idaho Foodbank's mobile pantry, which includes Bovill among its stops. It operates out of a central office at Lewiston.
Most people in larger communities wouldn't spend much thought on the arrival of a pickup truck hauling a trailer containing food. In Bovill, it's a big deal. The last of the long-vaunted bars in the small timber community closed six months ago, and that had been the last place in Bovill where residents could buy basic foods and supplies.

The pastor at the local Presbyterian Church was quoted as saying, “I don't think you can over-estimate the importance of the mobile pantry coming to this community.”

Once a hot timber town with a fine hotel and even an opera house, Bovill became so lively a century ago that its namesake Hugh Bovill reportedly quit it with his family for quieter environs. The decades since have not been kind. Bovill is a lot like many small towns in Idaho, and beyond. Its population estimated at 305 at the century's turn was down to 265 in 2010.

The trend line is not good. Nor has it been good for many of the other small rural communities in the area. (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)

How the candidates spend their cash (Boise Statesman)
Table Rock burger closes, new burger opens (Boise Statesman)
Ammon, IF at odds on Hitt Road (IF Post Register)
GOP governor debate hits national (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Lewiston council member on discrimination (Lewiston Tribune)
Gay marriage backers rally (Lewiston Tribune, moscow News)
Washington candidate filing wraps (Moscow News)
CSI graduation day hits (TF Times News)

Eugene school budget improves (Eugene Register Guard)
Gay marriage ruling planned Monday (Eugene Register Guard)
Evaluating threats to Klamath tribe leaders (KF Herald & News)
Rover company might add jobs in SW OR (KF Herald & News)
Ashland may lose plaza kiosk (KF Herald & News)
Planning on high election turnout (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Callahan's lodge may sell (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
GOP in Umatilla scrambles to fill slots (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Oil traain firms claim need for secret routes (Portland Oregonian)
Wehby stalking story threatens candidacy (Portland Oregonian)
Courts allow ban on overnight statehouse protest (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oso mapping funds requested (Everett Herald)
Boeing and charges of unfair negotiating (Everett Herald)
Gregoire and cigarette tax measure (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Contest for Cowlitz prosecutor (Longview News)
Congress may ok small-port dredge funds (Longview News)
Army cuts copter squadron at JB Lewis (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Olympia 'mistake by the lake' may be redeveloped (Olympian)
Constantine proposed new ride-share regs (Seattle Times)
Idaho gay marriage rally (Spokane Spokesman)
Application of weed control tax debated (Spokane Spokesman)
Libertarians seek ballot status (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver considers rules on oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)
Controlled burns in Naches district (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)

Same-sex marriage for Idaho stayed (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
New Idacorp CEO meets with shareholders (Boise Statesman)
IF High School principal retires (IF Post Register)
Whitman county poverty studied (Moscow News)
Reviewing secretary of state candidates (Nampa Press Tribune)
Notus may face elementary school bond (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bingham commission 2 race reviewed (Pocatello Journal)
Race for TF County coroner (TF Times News)

David Taylor sentenced to death (Eugene Register Guard)
Campaign starts on GMO labeling (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Food bank has restricted crop supply (KF Herald & News)
Klamath tribal leaders threatened (KF Herald & News)
Long to lead Cascade Christian HS (Medford Tribune)
Debate over city award of construction job (Medford Tribune)
Area tribes get land buyback funds (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Coos officials try to keep fee funds from state (Portland Oregonian)
Hwy 217 ramp finishes early with bonus (Portland Oregonian)
Chemeketa college exec faces assault charge (Salem Statesman Journal)

Getting closer to reopening Oso highway (Everett Herald)
Mentally ill in criminal case can be drugged (Everett Herald)
New bones, DNA throw light on Kennewick Man (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
New brewpub headed to Longview (Longview News)
Brewing again at Tumwater? (Olympian)
Cigarette tax would fight cancer (Seattle Times)
Idaho gay marriages stayed by court (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane VA said to be troubled (Spokane Spokesman)
Credit rating for Yakima improves (Yakima Herald Republic)

An Idaho kind of selection?

idaho RANDY

Toward the end of the Idaho Republican gubernatorial debate Wednesday, candidate Harley Brown remarked, “You have your choice, folks: A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy. Take your pick…”

Were those candidates for governor of Idaho or the Village People?

Alternatively, there's a more philosophical description at the delighted liberal website Daily Kos: “There's Anarchist-Leaning Tea Party Guy, there's Old West Sovereign Citizenish Guy, there's Ideological Party Purist Peeved At Establishment Guy and there's Establishment Guy Peeved At Ideological Guy. In Republican Party races we call that the sampler pack.”

That might not be as most people perceived it, though. Few paid much attention to the two guys – incumbent C.L. “Butch” Otter and challenger Russ Fulcher – who have an actual chance to win. The many, many, many collections of video clips on the web in the hours and days after the debate overwhelmingly focused on the other two, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.

They were great television. The debate played like a massive and slow-mo car wreck, your eyes drawn repeatedly to Brown, the biker-garbed equal opportunity offender with visions (and tattoo) of the presidency, and Bayes, the Bible-quoting mountain man given to declarations of divine (and nuclear) retribution who might have been a distant relation to the Duck Dynasty. Otter and Fulcher who?

So. Huffington Post: “10 lessons we learned from Idaho's incredibly dysfunctional GOP candidates.” The Portland Oregonian: “Leather-clad biker steals the show.” Gawker: “I can't stop watching this bizarre Idaho GOP governor debate.” Fox News: “Eccentric candidates make for strange Idaho gubernatorial debate.” Raw Story: The debate “is so bonkers …” PBS: “In Idaho, a debate like you've never seen before.” Cybercast News Service: “Fringe contenders send Idaho governor debate viral.” It was the liberal Kos site which called the event “a thing of beauty.”

You can watch it on the Idaho Public Television web site. Go ahead. You won't be bored. (more…)