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Posts published in June 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)

Indian poker hinges on chance or skill (Boise Statesman)
Most Idahoans are OK with state's roads (IF Post Register)
Who's in charge at the Idaho GOP? (Lewiston Tribune)
WA pot must be kept from minors (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Palouse farm tracts increase in value (Moscow News)
UI prepares for guns on campus (Moscow News)
Nampa elementary school building becomes church (Nampa Press Tribune)
St Luke's contests loss of property tax exemption (Nampa Press Tribune)
Budgets come to Nampa city council (Nampa Press Tribune)
Shifts in state workforce training after Chobani (TF Times News)
Questions about new 80 mph speeds on interstates (TF Times News)
Ag-gag critics may try using drones (TF Times News)

Criticism of planned Eugene sick leave policy (Eugene Register Guard)
UO accused of unfairness toward ousted players (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene garbage rates may rise (Eugene Register Guard)
Debate over ATV use on state park land (KF Herald & News)
Klamath faces public safety vote (KF Herald & News)
SOU book store sold to Barnes & Noble (Ashland Tidings)
Jackson Co has limited pot restrictions (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Construction market grows around Medford (Medford Tribune)
Illegal forest harvesters at work (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston gets new city manager (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Some Round-Up events will be broadcast (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Washington prepares for pot sales (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Some Cover Oregon execs paid not to leave (Portland Oregonian)
More bee deaths reported in Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal)

Cannabis may be sold from food truck (Everett Herald)
Burlington Northern reports 10 oil trains/week (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
110 goats chomp overgrowth near mall (Everett Herald)
Kennewick waterfront hires architect (Kennewick Herald)
Culture of vit plant on safety a concern (Kennewick Herald)
Washington readies for pot sales (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Traffic lights change on Longview's W Main (Longview News)
Movie released on dam-less Elwha River (Port Angeles News)
Seattle City Light seeks refund on PR effort (Seattle Times)
Port of Seattle raising minimum wage (Seatttle Times)
McMorris Rodgers takes on ex-im bank (Spokane Spokesman)
Avista branch looks into natural gas (Spokane Spokesman)
Questions about Tacoma gun turn-in (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co economy still growing (Vancouver Columbian)
Survey says Hanford workers fear blowing whistle (Yakima Herald Republic)
Aftermath of the Cottonwood 2 fire (Yakma Herald Republic)

This pork is a hog

rainey BARRETT


For many, many a moon, it’s been hard to say anything positive about our miscreants in congress. Especially those in the Grand Old Party of “NO.” About the time you think they’ve reached the bottom, one of ‘em digs a little deeper and any thoughts of saying something positive about recalcitrant elephants are immediately dashed.

But one fella - Idaho’s Second Congressional District part-time dentist - has acquitted himself with more positive job performance than a majority of others in the herd. Mike Simpson can be honestly castigated for making a number of wrong-headed votes in the name of Republican “unity” - a phrase rapidly becoming inappropriate for anything GOP. He’s gone along with his leadership on some things unnecessarily partisan. Still, on the whole - as far as his folks at home are concerned - he’s been quite helpful.

But now, he finds himself doing something for the sake of some of those same home folk that may be politically smart but it’s also politically abhorrent to a lot of us - and maybe even him - because it’s wasteful of our tax dollars and is little more than pork wrapped in the old American flag.

The brass hats in the Pentagon maze have been trying for years to thin out our inventory of obsolete, costly and no-longer-effective weapons systems. Things change. We move on. Technology keeps getting better. We can kill more people with less. And, sometimes, we can even kill them one-at-a-time from 5,000 miles away - if everything operates properly. So, some of the deadly toys we bought many moons ago should be retired or recycled.

But - when the folks on Capitol Hill - the ones who think holding elective office is a tenured “career” regardless of performance - hear such talk, there’s an immediate reaction of sphincter puckering and a rush to head off any loss of defense spending in the home district. One of the leaders in this embarrassment of pork preservation has been the Speaker himself. The Army has been telling Congress for years it doesn’t want any more copies of certain models of current tanks - wants to stop building ‘em - and it wants a particular company to stop refurbishing the ones damaged on current battlefields. Stop, already!

Ah, but the company that does all that tank rebuilding is where? Where? All together now - OHIO! And that district is represented in Congress by whom? All together now - SPEAKER BOEHNER! And in his mind, we’ll never have enough tanks - especially not enough rebuilt tanks - until Hell freezes over. It’s called “pork,” boys and girls. P-O-R-K!

So, what about Mike Simpson? Well, he’s now caught up in something very similar. He’s “going to the mat” to save a flying weapons system the U.S. Air Force doesn’t want anymore - the A-10 Thunderbolt. Or, as it’s more informally known, the “Warthog.” The “Hog” first flew in about 1976. It’s been called an “airborne tank” because it can take a lot of punishment and keep on flying. It’s a twinjet craft used in close support of combat troops for strafing, rocket launching and putting a lot of hurt on those threatening our people. It’s been a great airplane and the most effective aerial weapons carrier for such work. (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)

Micron's quarterly report shows improvement (Boise Statesman)
Public opinion says Idaho roads are okay (Lewiston Tribune)
Noise on the Snake River near Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow changes its groundwater efforts (Moscow News)
Candidate Silver thinks Crane should be fired (Moscow News)
New Canyon County admin building opens (Nampa Press Tribune)
Lanes shift along I-84 in Nampa area (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa city begins annual budget work (Nampa Press Tribune)
Republicans still at odds on organization (Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)

Three UO basketball players banned (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene limits fireworks a little more (Eugene Register Guard)
High fire risk in southern Oregon (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Unemployment rate falls in Jackson County (Ashland Tidings)
Wolf fund used mainly for prevention (Ashland Tidings)
Burglary rates rise at Medford (Medford Tribune)
Lack of law enforcement at Josephine hurts (Medford Tribune)
Milton-Freewater gun club approved (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton schools will increase Indian offerings (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Legal challenge filed in PERS case (Salem Statesman Journal)

Snohomish takes another look at slides (Everett Herald)
Governor discusses safety at Hanford cleanup (Kennewick Herald)
Major shootout near Rainier (Longview News)
Longview looks at using Cowlitz River water (Longview News)
Hoof diseased elk mught be killed (Longview News)
Seattle Council proposes preschool options (Seattle Times)
Long-ago planted trees now being harvested (Spokane Spokesman)
Pot businesses concerned about transport (Vancouver Columbian)

In the Briefings

yakima fest
Yakima last weekend held its first Blues and Brews Bash on North Front Street.

A little more emphasis this week on economic news, which is looking up a bit: The jobs picture is improving a little (the percentage rate stayed about the same in Washington, but the number of jobs is up, and the jobless rate fell in Idaho) and, as an indicator, state tax revenues are coming in higher than expected.

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)

More houses sell at cash (Boise Statesman)
Democratic convention closes without disputes (Moscow News)
Rapidly rising garbage at Canyon landfill (Nampa Press Tribune)
Oregon sets up radio helicopters for fires (Nampa Press Tribune)

Corvallis library opens Sundays again (Corvallis Gazette)
Oregon tries drones to watch fires (Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette)
Richardson hit over spam accusations (Ashland Tidings)
SOU reduces water use, plans for drought (Ashland Tidings)
2014 looks like a good travel year (Ashland Tidings)
Obscure manual sets free repair fees (Portland Oregonian)
Marion County looks at noise ordinance (Salem Statesman Journal)

Snohomish jail death results in lawsuit (Everett Herald)
Researching sea star wasting (Port Angeles News)
Ship bell brought up for research, show (Port Angeles News)
Business concerned about $15 mininum wage (Seattle Times)
Boeing automatic, pilot errors in review (Seattle Times)
Fewer big road projects in southwest WA (Vancouver Columbian)
Scientists study magma below Mt. St. Helens (Vancouver Columbian)
Farmers markets adding to producers income (Yakima Herald Republic)

Unremarked improvement


You really do get the sense sometimes that people pay attention only to bad news.
Oregon, like many other states (its neighbors among them), has been seeing not spectacular but steady improvement in its economic picture this year. More numbers to that effect came in this past week, with (for one major example) unemployment numbers running closer to the norms of reasonably prosperous times.
You have to qualify a lot of this. There's been some diminishing of what's considered the full work force, so practical unemployment is still higher than Oregonians would like to see.
But it is getting better.
Take a look too at the story (in the local government section) on Metro construction receipts, which starts, “It's been a banner year for construction in the Portland region – so much so that the region's construction tax has generated about 20 percent more than its original forecast for the current grant cycle.”
That's not a small deal, and the overall pace of construction around the state seems to bear that out.
In a good many places, you do get the sense of people taking a breath of relief.
Now, of course, would be the right time to look at areas of restructuring the state could do with. The long-discussed talk about rejiggering the state's tax structure would be a good thing to get underway at this point, maybe peaking about the same time the state's economy does. Economic reorganization talk tends to yield a little more productivity during times when money is flowing more freely.
There's work to do now, too.

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)

CEOs of ID public tradeds saw raises in 2012 (Boise Statesman)
Idaho guardsmen reflect on Iraq situation (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Democrats hold harmonious convention (Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Chaney gears up for House 10B race (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa seeking a branch of Boise Co-op (Nampa Press Tribune)
Harkness Hotel opening at McCammon (Pocatello Journal)

New Eugene math instruction criticized (Eugene Register Guard)
New Klamath library branch opened (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing the work of corrections officers (Portland Oregonian)
Most state employee performance reviews not done (Salem Statesman Journal)
Attempts to build Minto Park still delayed (Salem Statesman Journal)

Snohomish Council splits on expanded air terminal (Everett Herald)
PUD leaders paid more than $60k (Longview News)
State initiative focuses on class size (Longview News)
Washington's national parks face budget crunch (Seattle Times)
Uncertainty as pot stores plan openings (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce County home values rise nearly 10% (Tacoma News Tribune)
Pettit Oil collapse leaves customers chilled (Tacoma News Tribune)
School recesses cut back (Yakima Herald Republic)

Putting the convention in its place

idaho RANDY

The Idaho Republican convention's closing hours in Moscow last weekend were so unusual and so conflicted that they've taken on a character of their own – a poison pill of sorts for Idaho's dominant political party, an event so embarrassing that, in some views, it might cost the party control of state offices.

Let's step back just a bit.

Will the chaos convention in and of itself change much in Idaho politics? Probably not. Even amid all the headlines, most Idaho voters likely are only vaguely aware that a convention was held, and far fewer could explain to you just what happened there. So what if they failed to elect (in the normal way at least) a chair or adopt a platform? Outside of people really active in Idaho politics, who would notice? When's the last time either of those things elicited a lot of discussion two weeks after the event?

Short term, the party has a mess in front of it – disagreement even about whether it has a chair and officers in place. Meetings last week didn't seem to go much better than the convention did. Some of that may be resolved in the next few weeks in meetings various party people are trying to set up; or those efforts could collapse as well.

Still, as a one-shot event, this and the botched convention was not a big deal in the broad reach of Idaho politics. It will pass.

That doesn't mean it's insignificant.

It (and the ongoing conflict) could turn off some party workers and volunteers who, out of anger or disgust, won't be going out there and working the way they usually do. That could hurt the party in the case of races which are otherwise close.

But there's also something bigger. (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)

Fight over AF Magnida fertilizer plant (Boise Statesman)
Idaho unemployment rate dropping (IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal)
Who's in charge at the Idaho GOP? (IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)
Nafziger's menswear in Nampa closing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Concerns about funding Pocatello connector (Pocatello Journal)
Hall Mountain mining dispute continues (Sandpoint Bee)
Democratic convention going smoothly (TF Times News)

Oregon suspends sprayer license over bees (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene limiting fireworks (Eugene Register Guard)
Bryant fire near Bonanza still growing (KF Herald & News)
Kalamth Co gets $803k in PILT money (KF Herald & News)
SOU gets interim president (Ashland Tidings)
Jackson Co schools limiting transfers (Ashland Tidings)
Fire risks creeping earlier in year (Ashland Tidings)
Multnomah gun ordinance will be tested (Portland Oregonian)
Still more bee die-offs reported (Salem Statesman Journal)
Mental health funds approach at issue (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oso Highway 530 re-opened to 2-way traffic (Everett Herald)
Local college graduations (Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Schools chief Banda may leave for California (Seattle Times)
Pot bakers must follow safe food regulations (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Spokane proposes taxes for Riverfront upgrade (Spokane Spokesman)

Quote of the day

ridenbaugh Northwest

Grant Loebs, chair of the Twin Falls County Republicans, speaking of his state party leadership in the wake of a rule committee meeting at which incumbent Barry Peterson was deemed to have been re-elected as chair (which Loebs said he was not):

“It’s kind of a tin-horn dictator type coup. And the question is what do you do when somebody stages a coup and has the office and changes the locks and has their hands on the bank account and the computer systems, how do you get them out of there? In this country, we don’t do it through violence, so we have to work through all the processes that are available to us.”

UPDATE Here's a response (not to the above quote, but to also-critical comments from former Idaho Republican Chair Trent Clark, who said that Peterson has lost his chairmanship and should surrender keys and related materials. The reply comes from Maria Nate of Madison County, a rules committee member:

"I am sickened by this discussion of 'absolute power corrupting absolutely' being attributed to the liberty wing of the party which is fighting the ABSOLUTE CORRUPTION of the establishment. Governor Otter is upset that he didn't get his choice of chair in 2008 and goes on a tirade to win at all costs, even if that means burning down the party. Otter has instructed his people to choke the party by not contributing to it, he meddled in precinct committee elections and attempted to manipulate the delegates of Ada County. Mr. Clark, the corruption lies at the feet of the governor. I am proud to belong to a group of individuals that have decided to take a stand against such corruption. We will be silent no longer."

She should be careful about suggesting that because words like "liberty" are sprinkled through its rhetoric, that her side and its advocates are any less susceptible to power grabbing. (One might revisit the history of Russian Bolsheviks in 1917 to reinforce the point.)

An Idaho gem

carlson CHRIS


Somewhere down the road a future Idaho governor is going to take a page from a President’s Book of Plays, and is going to create, maybe even endow, an annual award to an Idaho writer, artist, composer, or outstanding college teacher.

Let’s call it the “Gem” Award, and attach a cash component of say $100,000. Ask the Idaho Humanities Council (The Council has established a similar award, but no money) to submit three names to the Governor.

Yes, Idaho already has the “Esto Perpetua” award that goes annually to the person or organization that during the previous year has best promoted Idaho heritage. It is awarded by the Idaho State Historical Society. While prestigious it too carries no monetary award.

My nominee for the First Gem Award would hands down be Idaho’s State Historian, and one of the state’s finest writers, Keith Petersen. Born in Vancouver, Washington in 1951 and a graduate of Washington State University, Keith has immersed himself in Idaho history like no other Idahoan.

His ability to relate fascinating details and place them in a meaningful context is superb. It is also the product of meticulous research and an innate curiousity that asks “what else was going on then that could have impacted this event or shaped people’s perceptions?”

Did you know that Father DeSmet, one of the first Jesuit missionaries to come to Idaho and the inspiration behind the state’s oldest structure, the Cataldo Mission, was a confident of Northwest road builder John Mullan? Mullan first came west in 1853 as part of a Pacific Railroad survey expedition headed by Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, who “negotiated” (read dictated) the famous treaty of 1855 the effects of which we are still living with today.

If you did not know those facts then read Keith’s most recent endeavor, a biography of Captain John Mullan, who engineered the Mullan Road that started at Fort Walla Walla and ended up at Fort Benton in Montana on the Missouri River. Much of Interstate 90 today follows the road that he mapped and engineered over 150 years ago. Even if one is not a reader of history or biographies, this book is well worth one’s time.

The book is entitled John Mullan: The Tumultuous Life of a Western Road Builder and is published by WSU Press.

Keith begins the book with Captain Mullan’s delivery of a speech in New York City in 1863 at the height of his fame for his explorations, mapping and road building in the west. Mullan is actually the warm up act at the speech forum but drones on and on for a couple hours.

Keith portrays this as the apogee, the high point of Mullan’s story, for at age 36 it is bascially all downhill for the intrepid but ambitious Mullan from there to the end of his life. While Mullan displayed incredible discipline in his younger years, was a diligent and obedient student while mastering the intricacies of engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and clearly an exceptional leader of his map-making and road building crews he appears to have had a classic fatal flaw. (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)

St. Luke's-Saltzer fight continues (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Labrador loses run for majority leader (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Democrats prepare for their convention (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
IF Odyssey school charter may be revoked (IF Post Register)
New possible airfield near Palouse (Moscow News)
Balukoff suggests 'Otter fatigue' (Moscow News)
Caldwell moves 4th of July fireworks (Nampa Press Tribune)
Dairy worker sentenced on cruelty charges (Nampa Press Tribune)
Republican worker: Otter key to a resolution (Pocatello Journal)
Concerns over Hall Mountain Mine (Sandpoint Bee)
TF drive-in plans summer reopen (TF Times News)
Reviewing Idaho's natural gas industry (TF Times News)

Panel advises against Washington Park sale (Corvallis Gazette)
Recount shows Lane incumbents still win (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon looks into bee die-off (Eugene Register Guard)
OR-7 and pups central in timber legal case (KF Herald & News)
New busing zones set for Henley School (KF Herald & News)
Ashland adopting pot dispensary rules (Ashland Tidings)
Fire burns part of table rock area (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Fire burns close to Heppner (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla goes to Hermiston ambulance (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wheat production down diminished this year (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umpqua College seeks new health building (Roseburg News Review)
Support grows for mental health court (Roseburg News Review)
Gun regulation group forms (Salem Statesman Journal)

Another Boeing labor dispute, over 2 workers (Everett Herald)
Longview PUD considers rules on pot (Longview News)
Fake distress calls costly for Coast Guard (Port Angeles News)
Spokane animal shelter moves, grows (Spokane Spokesman)
Martinac shipbuilder in loan default (Tacoma News Tribune)
Inslee backs state minimum wage increase (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot stores look to open in July (Vancouver Columbian)