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Posts published in May 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)

Reviewing Ada coroner race (Boise Statesman)
Labrador's third run for House (Moscow News)
Most school teacher negotiations on track (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon commission race - Alder (Nampa Press Tribune)

Considering action on bad intersection (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Primaries showing up GOP battles (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Springfield sees cost of adding land to city (Eugene Register Guard)
State will fund student AP tests (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Projections call for many fires this summer (Portland Oregonian)
Improvements in Willamette area air quality (Salem Statesman Journal)

More Medicaid patients: Enough doctors? (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Battle over Amon Wasteway water (Kennewick Herald)
Newer sheriffs jailing immigrants (Port Angeles News)
Ocean power project abandoned (Port Angeles News)
Spokanne holds Bloomsday (Spokane Spokesman)
Debating Pierce plan to destroy hospital (Tacoma News Tribune)
Campaign money for Herrera Beutler (Vancouver Columbian)

A legislative giant

peterson MARTIN

I spent 36 legislative sessions wearing a variety of hats. During that time I got to know scores and scores of legislators. But when I look back at them, there is one who stands above the rest. He was Steve Antone, a farmer from Rupert who served in the Idaho House from 1969 until 1996.

He had a number of skills that would prove beneficial in his legislative work. He was intelligent, generally soft spoken, had a good sense of humor and the ability to get along with just about everyone.

For twelve years he chaired the important House Revenue and Taxation Committee. Most tax legislation in Idaho originates in that committee and, as a result, the chairmanship can be a powerful position. The twelve years Steve Antone chaired the committee were perhaps the most challenging from a budgeting and taxation standpoint that Idaho has ever seen.

In 1978, Idaho voters approved the 1% Initiative. Although well intended by its proponents, the initiative was incredibly flawed from a constitutional standpoint and unworkable from an administrative standpoint. Under Antone’s chairmanship, supporters and opponents of the measure, legislators and lobbyists alike, were able to come up with major revisions that provided limitations on the levying of property taxes by local governments, while still meeting various requirements of the state’s constitution and statutes.

I was executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities at this time and approached Antone about the possibility of his committee conducting a field hearing at the Association’s annual convention to receive input for city officials. No legislative committee had ever conducted a hearing outside of Boise. Antone gave it some thought, liked the idea, and took the committee to Coeur d’Alene that summer.

In the early 80s, Idaho’s natural resource based economy collapsed. Low prices for farm commodities, timber and minerals all combined to knock the bottom out of the state’s tax revenues. It was the worst fiscal situation the state had seen since the great depression. The solutions to the state budget problems had to be met with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

It fell to Antone and his committee to approve the series of tax increases. (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)

Crowded judicial race to replace Wetherell (Boise Statesman)
Meridian's Scentsy shifting its product line (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Lawsuits over environment - who benefits? (IF Post Register)
Groups consider urban renewal in N Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Trade trip to Russia on hold (Nampa Press Tribune)
Revewing Bannock Fair Board suspension (Pocatello Journal)
State sues Coeur d'Alenes over poker (Sandpoint Bee)
Looking at the AG Republican primary (TF Times News)
St. Luke's an example of med industry change (TF Times News)

Lane County elections reviewed (Eugene Register Guard)
New growth in burned forest (KF Herald & News)
Federal inspector general looks at Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian)

After engineer jobs move, Boeing pressed on breaks (Everett Herald)
Teachers union vote drawns unusual attention (Seattle Times)
Changes proposed for Spokane Riverside Park (Spokane Spokesman)
Debate over Hepatitis C drug cost (Tacoma News Tribune)
Dark boat launch leads to auto drowns (Tacoma News Tribune)
Farlnad declining in Clark County (Vancouver Columbian)
Uncertain placing for local homeless (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima meal delivery gets budget cut (Yakima Herald Republic)

Limits on sovereignty

idaho RANDY

Idaho's much-vaunted “sovereignty” is limited in more ways than many Idahoans would like to contemplate. Ambre Energy, much to its consternation, probably could tell you something about that.

Amber (see is into coal, in a big way. Its web site notes that it “has a diverse portfolio of interests in coal mining, infrastructure and marketing. In the United States Pacific Northwest, we are linking our interests to build a US coal export business to Asian markets.” It has mines in Montana, Wyoming and Utah, and works with other mining companies in that region. It produces a lot of coal.

As it notes, the plan is to ship a lot of that coal across the Pacific, to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The early stages of that shipping process would run the coal through Idaho, across the Panhandle in the case of the Montana and some of the Wyoming mines, and across southern Idaho for the more southerly mines. Idaho does not seem to be an obstacle to that effort.

The next destinations west, Oregon and Washington, are, and coal transport in recent weeks has become one of the hottest issues in those states. It has meshed there with concernes about crude-oil trains and the shipping of liquified natural gas (which in Oregon has been a flashpoint issue in some places for a decade and more). Coal operators have proposed shipping at Longview and Bellingham, and have looked at other locations as well. To be clear: We're talking here about energy exports, not use of the resource in the United States.

Oregon has put up some notable red flags. After the Port of Morrow (near Boardman) leased some land to Ambre for its shipping efforts, activists got busy. Governor John Kitzhaber on April 19 said flatly, “It is time to once and for all say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest. It is time to say YES to national and state energy policies that will transform our economy and our communities into a future that can sustain the next generation.” (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)

Otter foreword on Smeed pamphlet dropped (Boise Statesman)
Judge okays adoption by same-sex couple (Boise Statesman)
Palouse may see 7 pot stops (Lewiston Tribune)
Nez Perce report increase in gambling money (Lewiston Tribune)
Lottery results released for pot shops (Moscow News)
Many mentally ill in criminal justice system (Moscow News)
Idaho has fewer college-degreed workers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocastello tightens nuisance ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Health West Inc. growing rapidly (Pocatello Journal)
Simpson approves Benghazi inquiry (Pocatello Journal)
Donations to Idaho Gives doing well (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Bonner County fires emergency medical chief (Sandpoint Bee)
Conflict among Snake River jump groups (TF Times News)
Gowen Field may pull in new air force planes (TF Times News)

North Bend charter school may use call center (Coos Bay World)
At Coos, more mosquito control planned (Coos Bay World)
Republicans gearing up for Senate race (Coos Bay World)
Eugene schools talks start uneasily (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Commissioner Stewart challenged (Eugene Register Guard)
New BuRec director at Klamath basin (KF Herald & News)
Water use may be limited as of June 1 (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Rising voter registration in Jackson Co (Ashland Tidings)
Richardson seems likely GOP governor nominee (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton Grain Growers sells stores (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Kitzhaber jogs feds on oil trains (Portland Oregonian)
Rosenblum: don't let anti-gay marriage group into case (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett may see first hospice (Everett Herald)
Evaluating landslide risks in Snohomish (Everett Herald)
Results of pot lottery released (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Home prices take big increase (Seattle Times)
Idaho sues Coeur d'Alene casino on poker (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma considers gun show ordinance (Tacoma News Tribune)
Questions about Tesoro terminal timeline (Vancouver Columbian)

Racism fix is personal

rainey BARRETT


The recent massive coverage of occurrences of racism in the news may have been justified, for the most part, by several well-documented events. Racism, after all, has been adjudged by our society to be a bad thing - something shameful and disgusting. Something to be eradicated wherever and whenever it appears. The problem is - racism will only disappear in a perfect world. And this ain’t it.

As long as one person’s skin color is different from another’s - as long as one person’s heritage is different from another’s - as long as languages and backgrounds and ancestries can be judged different one from the other, there will always be a degree of racism. A sense - spoken or not - that we’re not all the same. An ever-present mental classification system noting difference.

To me, the issue is really more how we individually handle those differences. How we learn - how we adjust - how we accept. And how we reduce them to values less important than how we think of them today. Eradicate? Not likely. Understanding and acceptance? More likely.

I find many similarities to the issue of gay marriage and our recent national “get-over-it” attitude. In just a few short years, it’s become - on the one hand - more widely accepted - and on the other - less of a societal division. We entertained a lesbian couple at dinner in our home a few nights ago. The subject never came up. We never gave it a thought. And we have two new friends. May not have happened a few years back. But with understanding and acceptance - and a first-hand experience to challenge us - it’s not a dividing or defining issue around here.

As a culture, we may never abolish racism or language or individual actions that bring color and other racial differences to mind. But - like gay marriage - the issue may just become less a conscious one and less divisive as we come face-to-face with it more often as individuals. What we seem unable to do as a society, we may be more successful at individually.

Should the Bundys and the Sterlings of the world not suffer personal vilification and disgust for racist speech and thought? No. They deserve our outrage and our condemnation. But neither man will be changed by the experience. Both have long-standing histories. Shameful histories. Racism will always be alive and accepted in their lives. Unless - like Saul on the road to Damascus - they experience some sort of heavenly conversion, they’ll live out their lives unchanged. They’ll continue their racist ways.

The best we can hope for is that others - witnessing these two men embarrass themselves and become targets of condemnation - will learn from their tragic examples. That others who harbor such thoughts will have their own moments of personal - if not public - recognition that racial division is wrong. That others will be intimately involved in personal situations in which they come face-to-face with their own prejudices and learn such differences are inconsequential. One-on-one.

Abolish racism? Not likely. Personally experience, understand and accept? More likely. Become less divisive? Could be. And, in the end, that can change a nation. Or a world.

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 lieutenant governor candidates (Boise Statesman)
UI, WSU among 55 institutionss reviewed on sex abuse (Boise Statesman, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WinCo construction has to be redone (Lewiston Tribune)
Pot banking still an issue (Moscow News)
Burdie-Bradbury district judge race reviewed (Moscow News)
Nampa merchants upset over road shift (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello getting semi-pro baseball (Pocatell Journal)
Cop chase leads to Blackfoot school lockdown (Pocatello Journal)
Gay Marriage suit goes to Idaho court (TF Times News)
Next round for Gooding school superintendent (TF Times News)

UO review sexual assault procedures (Eugene Register Guard)
Showers available for Ashland homeless (Ashland Tidings)
FedEx breaks ground on center (KF Herald & News)
Fine ordered on KF employer (KF Herald & News)
Douglas County will review LNG pipeline (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing local pot laws (Medford Tribune)
Scala will close Medford plant (Medford Tribune)
Jails not much doing immigration holds (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pot dispensaries banned at Marion (Salem Statesman Journal)
May day rally at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Still searching for two at Oso (Everett Herald)
Boeing says jet overhaul means lots of work (Everett Herald)
Handling radioactive material in review (Kennewick Herald)
State seeks superfund fire plan (Kennewick Herald)
WSU, UI among 55 colleges in sex abuse inquiry (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Beavers possible cause for floods at I-5 (Longview News)
Longview mudslide makes for travel issues (Longview News)
Lower Columbia College gets $845k grant (Longview News)
Grain elevator a museum piece? (Port Angeles News)
Snowpack closer to normal (Port Angeles News)
Murray announces Seattle minimum wage plan (Seattle Times)
Microsoft sets up big Vancouver BC hub (Seattle Times)
Preparing for the Bloomsday race (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma approves methanol plant at Tideflats (Tacoma News Tribune)
Supreme Court appointee Yu breaks ground (Tacome News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic)
Tesoro oil terminal cost may rise (Vancouver Columbian)
School closure over high illness race (Vancouver Columbian)
$2m for Union Gap road project (Yakima Herald Republic)

On trust

carlson CHRIS


Once lost, can trust ever be restored? That question lays at the heart of an increasingly polarized world in which contestants rarely argue whether one is correct or incorrect, but rather whether their view makes them good and your view makes you evil. The first victim in such conflicts is the truth and the second is trust.

There’s no question many institutions we once posited with our trust have forfeited and lost it. The Roman Catholic Church is a classic example. This bastion of supposed moral authority turns out to be populated with priests who prey on vulnerable children and don’t begin to practice the Gospel message of love they preach. They just don’t get it that there’s an obligation to the truth that comes with the territory.

When the truth began to emerge, from the canonized Pope John Paul II to cardinals to bishops of various dioceses, many engaged in covering up outright illegal, immoral behavior or at a minimum implicitly condoned reprehensible acts by moving offending priests to other parishes.

The Boise diocese’s own Bishop Mike Driscoll, while serving as an administrative Vicar General in Orange County, California, admitted to transferring several priests suspected of engaging in abusive behavior to new parishes. He later apologized and profusely asked for forgiveness. On April 27th, Bishop Driscoll hailed the “fast-track” canonization of John Paul II and of the beloved Pope John XXIII. The latter deserves it, the former does not.

Many Catholics, even the few still in the pews, rightly question the propriety of canonizing the pope who sat on the Throne of Peter and did little to address the priestly abuse of children. Such “see no evil” destroyed the laity’s trust in the Church hierarchy. Can anyone blame their cynical reaction to a “public relations” exercise to the dual canonization?

Likewise, too many Federal institutions have forfeited our trust by engaging in cover ups of unpleasant truths. Every large institution operates on a principle of survival first, even if that means lying to the public that pays their salary and rationalizing that the end justifies the means.

From lies about the health impacts of atomic bomb testing in the atmosphere in the 1950’s to lies about outright power grabs by agencies like EPA, which today seeks total control over all Idaho’s waters, not just navigable waters, it should come as no surprise that the public posits no trust.

Once trust is lost, whether it is between two people or between governors and the governed, like virtue itself, it is never totally restored. Not to over-generalize, but as a society we have little faith anymore in any level of government or any large institution. This is true whether the institution is private or public, or the media that supposedly is a watchdog, or the police agencies supposedly charged with protecting us. (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)

Otter conflicts with GOP chief Peterson (Boise Statesman)
Attorney Dick Fields dies (Boise Statesman)
Police at Nez Perce get body cameras (Lewiston Tribune)
Sea creatures dying in Pacific (Lewiston Tribune)
Gritman Foundation helps with non-indigents (Moscow News)
Moscow schools in contract negotiations (Moscow News)
Superintendent race and state land board (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
New Nampa library examined (Nampa Press Tribune)
Future of Bannock Fair Board draws crowd (Pocatello Journal)
Aberdeen's Simplot plant open till June (Pocatello Journal)
Only a few women among major office candidates (TF Times News)
Lincoln County's planning chief dismissed (TF Times News)

Greenbelt project adds more territory (Corvallis Gazette Times)
New YMCA rec center at Eugene? (Eugene Register Guard)
Hot spell in western Oregon (Eugene Register Guard)
Low, weak snowpack at Klamath area (KF Herald & News)
Chiloquin set pot dispensary moratorium (KF Herald & News)
Josephine Co again votes on public safety tax (KF Herald & News)
Ashland to pave over a wading pool (Ashland Tidings)
More hebicides used in Ashland parks (Ashland Tidings)
White City residents start patrols (Medford Tribune)
Citizens panel reviews GMO measures (Medford Tribune)
Candidate Barreto returns Loren Parks' $30k (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Umatilla Co battles Myrtle spurge plants (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hermiston schools seek athletic director (Pendleton East Oregonian)
New Hermiston fire chief installed (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Opinion: State needs law change to move Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Ethnic gaps in school achievement persist (Salem Statesman Journal)
Marion bans fetus disposals (Salem Statesman Journal)
Pedestrian deaths increasing (Salem Statesman Journal)

Possible construction moratorium at Oso (Everett Herald)
Kimberly Clark drops mill sale plans (Everett Herald)
Inslee may meet with Hanford contractors (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz debit card info seized by hackers (Longview News)
High fish toxicity found near Longview (Longview News)
Oil exporter at Clatskanie may change cars (Longview News)
Port Angeles business groups may merge (Port Angeles News)
PT Paper and utilities reach agreement (Port Angeles News)
Seattle shooting lead to enhanced patrols (Seattle Times)
Debate over Tacoma inviting Alabaman Moore (Tacoma News Tribune)
Self-insured Clark County departs risk pool (Vancouver Columbian)
Renewed pressure at St Helens magma (Vancouver Columbian)
No automatic immigrant detains at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)