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Posts published in May 2014

Twilight time


These stretches of the two to three weeks before “election day” – actually, the deadline day for completing voting – are a strange time.

The ballots for this year's primary election in Oregon have already gone out, and a good many of them have been marked and cast. (Those in my household are among those already returned to the county clerk.) But not all of them, not by a long shot, are gone, and the more sophisticated campaigns are keeping a close watch to try to ensure that the ballots they would like to see returned, are.

So there's that frantic nature of the work underground, and a bad case of nerves on the part of some candidates and their supporters. They'd be better off, on a personal level, if they had more practical work to do the way candidates in polling-place voting states do, right up to the last day before the mass of balloting occurs.

In places like Oregon and Washington the candidates, simply, have less to do. They still can wander out and shake hands, but most of the intensive work of the campaigns is done already, timed to hit before the ballots go out. Anything major happening from this point out will hit a lot of people who already have voted, and what would be the point of that?

They do, of course, have to keep themselves on a leash: The possibility of saying something foolish or worse remains there, and enough votes come in even on the last day to do prospective damage.

But most, for now, there's not much else.

It's mostly a matter of watch and wait.

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)

Evaluating Otter's claim to hit $60b GSP (Boise Statesman)
How much and what health insurance covers (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Personal impacts of Idaho Medicaid gap (IF Post Register)
Profiling frequent letter writers (Lewiston Tribune)
With Chaney out, two write-ins run (Nampa Press Tribune)
Graduation at Idaho State (Pocatello Journal)
Derailed train at Sandpoint (Sandpoint Bee)
Video-famous Bettencourt dairy sold (TF Times News)
Reviewing governor's race (TF Times News)

Lane CC students defaulting at high rates (Eugene Register Guard)
Chinook face uncertain water and weather (Medford Tribune)
Changes in governor's race (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune)
More energy in Jackson Couty GMO battle (Medford Tribune)
Firings at Portland Zoo over culture? (Portland Oregonian)

Scientists looking at Oso mudslide (Everett Herald)
Providence Regional studies cancer vaccine (Everett Herald)
Reviewing Hanford's cleanup operations (Kennewick Herald)
Constitution change on campaign money? (Longview News)
Hospitals releasing seriously mentally ill (Seattle Times)
Costco launches efforts in Europe (Seattle Times)
More growth at Moses Lake BMW plant (Spokane Spokesman)
Working through underwater mortgages (Tacoma News Tribune)
10th CD sees pot, campaign money issues (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Analysis of Clark commission battle (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot seller plans to startup (Vancouver Columbian)
Candidate filing begins (Yakima Herald Republic)

A slate phenomenon

idaho RANDY

In the last few days of April, two Republican organizations announced their endorsements in the May primary elections. They were entirely different.

The North Idaho Political Action Committee, based at Coeur d'Alene, led by a group of long-time Republican activists and elected officials, offered this group of choices for statewide offices: Governor: C. L. "Butch" Otter; Lieutenant Governor: Brad Little; Secretary of State: Phil McGrane; Attorney General: Lawrence Wasden; Controller: Brandon Woolf.

The Republican Liberty Caucus, a more statewide group but also including some active Republican names, had a list of endorsees too. They were: Governor: Russ Fulcher; Lieutenant Governor: Jim Chmelik; Attorney General: Chris Troupis; Secretary of State: Lawerence Denney; Controller:Todd Hatfield; Superintendent of Public Instruction: John Eynon.

No overlap at all. And it's not just a matter of these two groups; the split among Republicans is large and deep and runs through and between many organizations.

From time to time, groups of nonpartisan candidates – candidates for elective office in a city, for example – might run in a slate. But this is the first time in decades at least, and maybe ever, that one of Idaho's parties has been largely split by slate contests, two groups of candidates facing off against each other.

Those two lists of endorsements cover most of the competitive races for major offices; the other is the 2nd U.S. House district, incumbent Mike Simpson (who would align with the NIPAC group) and challenger Bryan Smith (with the Liberty Caucus). A number of legislative candidates fall on either side of the canyon as well. The candidates mostly have not formally endorsed each other (though Little did endorse McGrane last week – is that a precursor to more?), but the alignment is clear.

There are a number of subtleties and implications to this.

One subtlety is the two races with four relatively well-balanced candidates, the races for secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction. NIPAC didn't endorse in the latter, making unclear who their side would prefer (though it likely wouldn't by Eynon); and though both sides did endorse for secretary of state, the two non-endorsed candidates may get enough votes that the battle of the slates could be scrambled.

Beyond that, you might realistically expect that most of the wins on election day will be bunched on one side or the other. People are likely to vote Otter-Little-Wasden-Simpson, or Fulcher-Chmelik-Troupis-Smith, not (for example) Fulcher-Little-Wasden-Smith. The lines are being drawn clearly.
That also may mean these candidates are becoming interdependent: A really smart move, or a serious blunder, by one candidate could impact their allies, causing some voters to jump from one side to the other.

That kind of thing often happens in clearly-defined slates at other levels. On the city level, slates often rise or fall in unity. (I remember vividly the big win of a well-organized city slate in Boise in 1985, that upended city hall and brought Dirk Kempthorne to the mayor's office.)

But then, this is an unusual phenomenon. Idaho history hasn't seen slate campaigns in party primaries before. Shortly, the voters will be setting some precedents.

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 state AG contest (Boise Statesman)
Boise city gets tracts from Day family (Boise Statesman)
Fish & Game warn of wildlife feeding (IF Post Register)
Gallina replaces Acey on superior WA court (Lewiston Tribune)
Lawsuit challenging WA pot taxation (Lewiston Tribune)
Dispute over rules for bighorn sheep (Lewiston Tribune)
Dogs not allowed in UI facilities (Moscow News)
WSU tuition not rising in coming year (Moscow News)
Bujak, former prosecutor, not guilty (Nampa Press Tribune)
Legislative candidates in denate (Nampa Press Tribune)
Ground breaks at Portneuf Wellness Center (Pocatello Tribune)
Schools won't fill in charter-sought forms (TF Times News)
Reviewing Lt Gov contest (TF Times News)

Gardiner Sanitary District board recalled (Coos Bay World)
Cover Oregon will may agents $900k (Coos Bay World)
Looking ahead to fire season (Coos Bay World)
A look at food stamp fraud ring (KF Herald & News)
Mule deer tag numbers rising (KF Herald & News)
SOU president didn't get other job (Ashland Tidings)
Recall attempt at Medford schools fails (Medford Tribune)
Campsite rules changes at Rogue/Siskiyou (Medford Tribune)
Bankrupt business may not repay city loan (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Walden hits hard on primary challenge (Portland Oregonian)
CEO of SAIF dismissed by board (Salem Statesman Journal)
Ward 8 council campaign in review (Salem Statesman Journal)

Machinists union leaders re-elected (Everett Herald)
Oso mudslide debris being cleared out (Everett Herald)
Kennewick senior priest dies (Kennewick Herald)
Finding help for displaced owls (Kennewick Herald)
School districts try for no child waivers (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Massive expansion of BMW carbon fiber plan (Seattle Times)
State looks closely at hillside logging (Seattle Times)
N Idaho Republicans deeply split (Spokane Spokesman)
Johnny's Seafood back at Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
Suit challenges WA pot taxation (Vancouver Columbian)
Stewart seeks commission seat (Vancouver Columbian)
How to improve I-205? (Vancouver Columbian)
Good cherry crop predicted (Yakimma Herald Republic)


malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” - Lord Acton

Sen. Russ Fulcher, fighting an uphill battle to end Gov. Butch Otter’s regime, should use this quote as his them for the stretch run of this primary election campaign.

This election is not about electing Fulcher as the Republican’s nominee for governor, or repealing Obamacare.

This race is about stopping a dictatorship.

No, it’s not the kind of dictatorship that produces oppression and mass killings. It’s about one man potentially holding power for a lifetime. Two terms – or at least two consecutive terms – is long enough for presidents and governors.

If Fulcher doesn’t take Otter out this year, then Idaho will be stuck with him – potentially for decades to come. Otter already has said he is not discounting running for a fourth term in 2018, which translates to this: He’ll run for a fourth term. Then a fifth term, a sixth term and beyond.

It’s not unusual for members of Congress to serve 12 years or more in office. But a senator or congressman is only one of 535 other members. They do not define the agenda, or the power structure, for the nation and states – as presidents and governors do.

When the same people are in power for so long, some very friendly relationships develop over time.
Looking at Otter’s campaign staff, he makes no effort to hide those relationships. His staff includes a representative of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s most powerful business lobby. It also includes a lobbyist with Veritas Advisors; a representative of the scandal-plagued private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America; and a former lobbyist for the troubled school broadband provider, Education Networks of America.

It’s not illegal for money machines to be working on campaigns. But it shows there’s a lot of big money people and organizations who have an interest in keeping Otter in power. (more…)

The Conger case

harris ROBERT


Because of the rules of the Senate, and because both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate vote with unity, a Senate general election isn’t solely about which candidate you like or are closer to agreement with. It is as much about which party you like more based on their national platform and leadership behaviors.

That’s why Jason Conger is the best choice to represent Oregon Republicans against Sen. Jeff Merkley in November.

First a reality check. There is very little chance that enough Oregon independent moderates are going to put the National Republicans in charge of the US Senate. Because while the OR GOP sometimes seems to be on its way towards being more modern party, the national GOP does not.

Dr. Wheby is more pro choice? So what? That will carry exactly zero weight in the general election because we know that her position on that issue will have zero effect in the US Republican Senate caucus. In fact, her pro choice position probably hurts her chances for party leadership if she were elected At least if independents vote for Merkley we know that his leadership stock is rising and he can protect Oregon financially at the leadership table. And if we are able to vote for Conger his social policy positions are more like a non-elitist blue collar Reagan Democrat and could help him within the GOP caucus.

What could a Conger nomination do for Oregon Republicans? It would elevate a strong leader with deep roots onto the State leadership stage. A candidate who didn’t just parachute into politics and who you can count on to continue working to make the Oregon GOP a better party – win or lose.

So, OR GOP’ers should do themselves a favor here. Think about which candidate would be better for the Oregon GOP win or lose. Though there’s nothing wrong with believing that lightening will strike at the same time as all the stars align and that candidate Conger will pull a big upset of Merkley. And that’s just as likely to happen with a Conger candidacy as with a Wehby candidacy.

If the Oregon GOP wants to get back in the game. Vote for Jason Conger.

(The opinion expressed here is solely that of the author and not of any other authors associated with Oregon Outpost)

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)

Supreme Court race reviewed (Boise Statesman)
Boise aquarium renamed and organized (Boise Statesman)
Latah's community college fund underused (Moscow News)
Extended stay notel opens at WSU (Moscow News)
Profiling Rule, Canyon commissioner (Nampa Press Tribune)
Candidate Rice spent a decade in prison (Nampa Press Tribune)
Stevens-Henager college complaint filed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Major Yellowstone Ave project starts (Pocatello Journal)
ISU's hillside I being pulled (Pocatello Journal)
Campaign finance in 2nd district race (TF Times News)
Drive in movie firm future cloudy (TF Times News)
Blaine, Custer disagree on White Clouds (TF Times News)

Considering KF high school remodel (KF Herald & News)
KF strike catches 30 in food stamp fraud (KF Herald & News)
Debate over high-density area at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Inquiry over candidate Sergi dropped (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Many thefts of railroad ties in area (Medford Tribune)
South OR farmers see net loss (Medford Tribune)
Wildhorse casino sees economic development (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Insurance agents owed $900k by Cover Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Troubles in deaths, staffing at Oregon Zoo (Portland Oregonian)
OR lacks planning for oil train spills (Portland Oregonian)
OSP executive placed on leave (Salem Statesman Journal)

Adam Smith on immigration detention (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
What to do with cloaed PA theatre (Port Angeles News)
Cruise ship arrives at PA today (Port Angeles News)
Spokane mayor speaks of lean government (Spokane Spokesman)
17 teachers may be lost at Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
State commission approves Cowlitz gaming plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Special federal money for 4 Yakima schools (Yakima Herald Republic)

The lobbyists

ridenbaugh Northwest

From a press release by Idaho gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher, about the number of registered lobbyists working on the campaign of his opponent, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Senator Russ Fulcher today said the hiring of yet another lobbyist to work on Gov. Butch Otter's re-election campaign raises troubling questions about the influence of special interests on Idaho politics.

"The governor now has staffers from the state's largest lobbying firms working on his re-election campaign. These relationships give people reason to suspect their government of wrongdoing, even when nothing illicit is taking place," said Fulcher. "It makes people wonder whether the governor's re-election is about advancing and empowering Idahoans, or advancing and empowering people with cash and connections."

Lobbyists on the campaign staff represent companies that have contractual relationships with the state or have an interest in legislation expected to be considered in the 2015 legislative session.

"Is it legal? Probably. Does it look really, really bad? I sure think so," said Fulcher.

Elli Brown, Otter's latest lobbyist campaign staffer, most recently worked at Veritas Advisors, whose clients include the Idaho Chamber Alliance, which lobbied for an Obamacare insurance exchange and still wants Otter and the Legislature to pass a local option sales tax.

Jayson Ronk, Otter for Idaho Campaign Manager, took a leave of absence as Vice President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, which supported the insurance exchange and is pushing for more government healthcare via Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Lobbyist Lincoln Smyser was added to the re-election campaign after the 2014 legislative session. He recently lobbied for Corrections Corporation of America, which had a scandal-ridden contract to run Idaho's private prison, and the Idaho Trucking Association, which pitched a plan to raise gas taxes last session.

Martin Bilbao, a former lobbyist for Education Networks of America, serves as the Finance Director for the Otter for Idaho campaign. ENA was awarded a contract after Governor Otter’s business partner and best friend bent procurement rules to guarantee a contract over rival bidder Syringa Networks.

"A governor should leave a clear separation between elections and the formation of public policy. The people who lobby state government shouldn't be on a governor's campaign staff," said Fulcher.

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)

Fulcher blasts Otter hiring lobbyists (Boise Statesman)
St Luke's releases downtown growth plans (Boise Statesman)
IF fore chief plans departure (IF Post Register)
Bonneville Democrats reach out to Hispanics (IF Post Register)
WSU sorority hit on alcohol, other charges (Moscow News)
Gritman takes over county emergency voucher effort (Moscow News)
Pullman considers city finances (Moscow News)
Canyon commission candidate Freeman (Nampa Press Tribune)
Newly reorganized golf course to open (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bujak trial continues (Nampa Press Tribune)
New giant woolly mammoth finds in east Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
SkyWest adds a flight at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Simpson bill would raise truck weight limits (TF Times News)
Builder cited on worker risks (TF Times News)

Eugene to stay in Lane ESD organization (Eugene Register Guard)
Sexual conduct code explored at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Several businesses burn at Harrisburg (Eugene Register Guard)
KF council okays police contract (KF Herald & News)
Mt Ashland Association cuts general manager (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland council holds off on utility fees (Ashland Tidings)
Examining the Medford school budget (Medford Tribune)
Campaign funds pouring in on GMO fight (Medford Tribune)
Hospital payments from police funds (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Democratic US House candidate Christofferson (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Portland firms dinged over hedge fund (Portland Oregonian)
AG says Cover Oregon can switch to feds (Salem Statesman Journal)
No Fukushima radiation in area kelp (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem city council battle in south district (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton pot license sells for $150k (Seattle Times, Bremerton Sun)
No one sought Monroe pot license (Everett Herald)
Agriculture master's program launched at WSU (Kennewick Herald)
Pot lottery results released at Longview (Longview News)
Longview PUD revises payment plans (Longview News)
Grain elevator at Sequim faces action (Port Angeles News)
Clallam Auditor Rosand will retire (Port Angeles News)
Landslide risk found at busy campground (Seattle Times)
UW research equipment may move away from rails (Seattle Times)
Glitchy amber alert system in Washington (Tacoma News Tribune)
Salal Credit Union provides pot banking (Tacoma News Tribune)
Two Spokane council ethics issues dismissed (Spokane Spokesman)
Examining alternative teaching at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)
TSA PreCheck program comes to Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)