Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Primary election season is over. For now. Control of your television viewing has been returned to you. For now. Campaign signs blooming like unwanted weeds along all your routes of travel have been removed. For now. Other, more newsworthy events are being reported. For now.

So – looking back at the onslaught on our senses for all these months – what has been wrought for all the millions of dollars spent? With rare exception – not much. Not much at all. Do we feel pride for what we’ve just been through in exercising our democratic rights at the polls? Not much. Not much at all.

Given the obscene amounts of money spent, all the noise-making, all the charges and countercharges made, all the lies told about opposing candidates, all the time consumed making frivolous charges while allowing important issues to go without comment – what have we gained? All together now – “not much.”

Matter of fact, damned few of us cared enough to vote. In Idaho, about one-in-five registered voters made the trip. Even in Oregon – where you’re sent a ballot, given two weeks to think about your choices and return the form for free – less than half did so.

Pundits are now pawing through the crumpled ballots looking for trends – trying to find clues to what we’ll face at November’s general election – digging in the various Secretary of State’s computer files for statistical evidence of messages the minority of the electorate may have been sending. They won’t find much.

Since so many stayed away from the polls, there’s little meaningful “treasure” in the remnants of primary day. Except maybe this. Those of us who cared enough to show up seemed to be saying “Let’s just stay where we are – let’s not make any serious moves left or right.” Like all of us, I backed some winners and I some losers. That’s just politics. That’s just politics the way it’s supposed to be. Win some. Lose some.

There were a few messages sent. Idaho’s governor took a kick in the shins from many in his former constituency while hanging on to his office key. At least for now. An Idaho legislative candidate who wasn’t running said he wouldn’t serve if elected. He was. He likely will. Oregon Republicans opted to support a senatorial candidate who appears to have serious emotional and relationship issues. Several Northwest legislators found abrupt ends to long careers with voters finally saying “Enough already.”

Yes, there are some interesting stories to be had if reporters want to spend the time digging around. But with far less than half the voters showing up to have their say, will there be enough readers or watchers who give a damn to make their efforts rewarding?

But – for the few that still care – here’s the story to me. Our country’s in a helluva mess right now. Major problems on dozens of national and state issues. Millions of Americans being hurt – forgotten – homeless – sliding into debt for through no fault of their own. Our societal cloth is being torn in two with the rich getting richer and the rest of us losing ground every day. Our political system is fractured. We have a wholly ineffective congress successfully ignoring majority constituencies while ring-kissing the almighty dollar – read “campaign contribution.” Veterans promised support by a nation that needed them are now lost in bureaucratic wastelands seemingly inhabited by more numbers-cruncher gatekeepers than caring medical professionals. Serious infrastructure needs are being ignored in favor of meaningless political witch hunts wasting precious resources.

In the face of all that – and more – not one-in-two voters cared enough to vote in Oregon and Washington. In Idaho, just one-in-five! This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s not “right” or “left.” It’s not philosophical or geographical or any other division. It’s a moral issue.

In a functioning democracy, the majority sets the course. So, when four out of five refuse to participate, what happens to that majority system we’ve chosen to operate under? What happens to that “functioning” part of the description?

Our political system is cancer-ridden with obscene amounts of money being used to subvert its normal operation. We’ve allowed government-haters to be elected, then fight to stay at the trough. Through inattention and/or refusal to participate, we’re suffering fools who shouldn’t be dogcatchers much less members of our national congress and too many state and local offices.

To those who’ve shown no willingness to accept responsibility for even the most basic right of citizenship – you’ve earned the contempt of those of us who have. Next time you’ve got something to bitch about, here’s some advice.

Shut the Hell up!

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Rainey

news

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)

Trying to bring GOP together (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Albertsons buys name for Bronco Stadium (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Census puts Nampa still at 2nd largest (Boise Statesman)
Gas prices down a little (Lewiston Tribune)
Possible recount on Canyon commission (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello retains anti-discrimination ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Major election glitch at Caribou County (Pocatello Journal)
Blaine County election troubles (TF Times News)
Cops coping with pot on road from legal states (TF Times News)
Three cinemas in TF shut down next week (TF Times News)

Land trade raises hackles (Astorian)
Reviewing GMO bans (Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Razor close Lane Co commission race (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water bill goes to Senate (KF Herald & News)
Utility costs at Ashland rise (Ashland Tidings)
Jackson Co sheriffs contest is on (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Cover’s Golberg departs, still paid (Portland Oregonian)
Wehby would take cut pay in Senate (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oso charity rises to $7 million (Everett Herald)
Boeing revising its internal design approach (Everett Herald)
‘Cosmic crisp’ apple appears (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Murray seeks help with school lunch funds (Kennewick Herald)
Columbia Co jail levy passes this year (Longview News)
Lawyer says legislature is in court contep
Kelso kicks embattled member from committees (Longview News)
Seattle fastest growing big city (Seattle Times, May 11)
Adam Smith joins Benghazi panel (Seattle Times, May 11
Idaho Panhandle votes even further right (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co gains Ridgefield site (Vancouver Columbian)
Shutting down Columbian River Crossing (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil terminal debate continues (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In looking at the results of the May 20 primary, the biggest winner was easily Second District incumbent Mike Simpson. He trounced Tea Party/Club for Growth primary challenger Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls attorney, by a 68% to 32% margin.

By educating second district voters to how weird some of the positions held by Tea Party adherents are, and how badly they will distort an incumbent’s record as a rock-solid conservative, Simpson undoubtedly saved Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter’s candidacy for a third term.

Butch ought to send Mike a box of fresh Idaho spuds every month for the next four years and he ought to offer to come by once a month to kiss Simpson’s ring while slicing, dicing and cooking up the hash browns.

Make no mistake about it, while Otter won on Tuesday, he was still the biggest loser. While voter turnout was abysmally low, something the Tea Party purists wanted (Only the pure of heart and only 100% God-fearing, gun-toting, government-hating, education-bashing, ObamaCare haters) were meant to vote in the GOP’s closed primary.

They got their wish, so to speak, by holding the primary vote totals statewide to between 20% and 25% of eligible voters. This enabled their favored candidates, especially gubernatorial challenger State Senator Russ Fulcher of Meridian, to mount a more effective challenge because the universe of votes needed to win was suddenly much, much smaller.

The day after Governor Otter must have been literally stunned to see that he lost not just rural counties where Tea Party organization was presumably
stronger, but he also lost Ada County, his home county of Canyon and Kootenai – in other words, he lost the urban/suburban vote in the First District as well. A challenge from his right also had to stun the self-proclaimed libertarian.

The results showed how well First District congressman Raul Labrador read his district and correctly calculated that endorsing Fulcher over Otter in the latter days of the campaign would not hurt him.

Where Otter pulled it out was in the urban areas of Bonneville, Bannock, Bingham and Twin Falls counties – the cities of Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Blackfoot and Twin Falls. Otter also narrowly carried the LDS vote in most of the Mormon counties of eastern Idaho.

The only conclusion one can draw when an incumbent sees only slightly more than half the voters voting to return him in his own party’s primary is that a lot of people don’t think he has done anything to merit a third term.

Furthermore, many folks did not like his cooking the numbers on his bogus claim of reaching $60 billion in gross state product, nor do they like him sounding like the Luna Education Reform laws he supported never existed.

And his turning the statewide debate into a farce that had the entire nation laughing at Idaho did little to enhance the governor’s image since he insisted the two flakes be included knowing full well they would steal lots of time from Senator Fulcher.

Truth and the facts are catching up with Butch, who clearly should have stepped aside and let Brad Little have his day. Little, incidentally was far and away the biggest statewide voter-getter, receiving 100,000 votes in the primary.

In winning his primary easily Simpson once again demonstrated the power of incumbency and the potency of the formula that dictates a member of Congress take care of his constituents and be surrounded by excellent staff.

Voters are well aware that investing in seniority makes sense and Simpson can prove he has used his position as one of the appropriation “cardinals” to
take good care of his district’s largest employer, the Idaho National Lab.

Furthermore, Simpson incontestably has the best most service oriented staff in the delegation. Anyone who has any contact with Simpson’s office invariably sings the praises of chief of staff Lindsay Slater, or deputy chief John Revier or press secretary Nicki Watts.

It is also a safe bet that Simpson further enhanced his already high standing with many of his congressional colleagues for standing up to the concentrated attack on his record, his integrity and his conservative credentials. By kicking Bryan Smith in the proverbial creek he showed his colleages and others that one need not fear Club for Growth financed challengers.

Noted for his loyalty as well as his competence, in this writer’s view, Simpson further enhanced his prospects for one day, sooner than one might think, being the second member of Congress from the west (Tom Foley from the adjacent to Idaho Fifth congressional district in the state of Washington was the first), and the first Republican, to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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Carlson Idaho

news

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)

Incumbents fare well in primary (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Reviewing water issues in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Same-sex marriage still stayed in Idaho (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Clarkston council members abstains on pot (Lewiston Tribune)
Budie prevails over Bradbury (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Pocatello anti-discrinination ordinance lives (Pocatello Journal)

Primary election results (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Corvallis Gazette Times, Pendleton East Oregonian, Ashland Tidings)
Feds want Cover Oregon records (Portland Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Klamath charter plan rejected (KF Herald & News)
Jackson, Josephine reject GMOs (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Yakamas against coal export terminal (Pendleton East Oregonian)

Clinic will post prices for tests (Everett Herald)
Delay on Broadway Bridge at Everett (Everett Herald)
Openly gay suprme justice sworn in (Olympian)
Pot growers react to feds on water (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Looking into big Sequim fire (Port Angeles News)
Amazon moves into video games (Seattle Times)
Incumbents fare well in Idaho election (Spokane Spokesman)
Upgrades to gritty Spokane east end (Spokane Spokesman)
Patients urged to test for Heptatis C (Vancouver Columbian)
Jobs growth substantial in Clark (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima panhandling ordinance extended (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakamas against coal export terminal (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

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.

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Idaho Idaho column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

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.

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Oregon Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

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.

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Oregon Oregon column

news

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)

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First Take

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.

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Briefings

news

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)

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First Take