Writings and observations

moose
 
On June 10 Fish and Game conservation officers and biologists responded to reports of a moose wandering around a southeast Boise neighborhood. The yearling female moose was spotted in various locations including Warm Springs Golf Course. Because the moose had been slowly moving closer to town, Southwest Regional Wildlife Manager Craig White made the decision to tranquilize it, and relocate it. The moose was taken out of the city and moved to a more remote location off Highway 21. (image/Department of Fish & Game)

 

Politics continued to pour in last week, polling in Oregon (Senate and governor) and the Republican convention in Idaho – a remarkable convention that broke up in rancor without electing leadership or passing a platform or resolutions. it drew a good deal of attention, some of it national since the honorary chair, Representative Raul Labrador, is also running for House majority leader.

A somewhat quieter week on the Washington side.

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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)

Pot-friendly zoning planned for Clarkston (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing GOP convention (Moscow News)
Genesee honors agriculture (Moscow News)
Previewing Labrador’s majority leader run (TF Times News)
Prescription drugs proving a gatewway to heroin (TF Times News)

UO may get up to $3 billion from very wealthy (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland will consider pot dispensary rules (Ashland Tidings)
Organic agriculture brings in younger farmers (Ashland Tidings)
Lithia to buy DCH Auto Group, expands (Medford Tribune)
Crater Lake highway gets new traffic cameras (Medford Tribune)
Sea lions may be increasing in Columbia (Portland Oregonian)

Court hearing on Paine Field passenger service (Everett Herald)
State posts PSAs on parental pot discussions (Everett Herald)
Port Angeles may pay for hydro plant repairs (Port Angeles News)
Washington concerned about oil spill control (Vancouver Columbian, Port Angeles News)
Starbucks funding some college tuition (Seattle Times)
Battle over developing South Hill bluff (Spokane Spokesman)
Security concerns at U.S. Open, University Place (Tacoma News Tribune)
No bike lanes in waterfront plans? (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakama tribe concerned over hatchery regs (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate A.J. Balukoff won’t apply for membership into the tea party and there’s no chance of him being a featured speaker at an Idaho Freedom Foundation conference. But if wins the governor’s seat in November, the most conservative Idahoans could be the ones who will help put him there.

As Idaho Freedom Foundation Director Wayne Hoffman sees it, electing Balukoff over Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter makes sense from a conservative’s perspective. It may be one way to put the Republicans Party on track.

For instance, Hoffman says, if a Gov. Balukoff were to push for Medicaid expansion, it would be dead on arrival in a Republican-dominated Legislature. If Otter were to propose Medicaid expansion, lawmakers would look more closely at the potential cost savings for counties. A Balukoff administration that proposes repeal of sales-tax exemptions likely would go nowhere in the Legislature. If Otter proposed the same thing, legislators could view it as a sound way to raise needed revenue.

Conservatives probably wouldn’t like him any better than two recent failed candidates, Jerry Brady and Keith Allred. But Otter is no beacon for conservative principles either. Otter’s poor showing in last month’s Republican primary election, in which almost half the people voted for someone else, makes him prime for election defeat.

“Butch is vulnerable,” Hoffman said. “He won against a no-name and under-funded candidate with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote. You have to think that’s problematic.”

Losing Ada, Canyon and Kootenai counties also is problematic for the governor – along with a disastrous Republican convention over the weekend that failed to elect a party chairman or approve a platform. “We have hit bottom,” said Congressman Raul Labrador, one of Idaho’s leading conservatives.
The Democratic challenger, as with Hoffman, hears dissatisfaction in the conservative ranks.

Balukoff’s philosophy overall is far different from Sen. Russ Fulcher, who took 44 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. But much of Balukoff’s rhetoric is the same as Fulcher’s.

“A lot of people think Otter has been in for a long time and not a lot of show for his tenure,” Balukoff said. “People recognize that our education system is not where it should be and per capita income is at the bottom of the nation. They are upset with the lack of accountability and cronyism in the governor’s office. People are dissatisfied with the lack of leadership and are ready for a change.”

Balukoff, a member of the Boise School Board, is not a typical Democratic candidate. He has never run for a partisan office, and he’s smart enough to know that Republicans will continue to hold the upper hand in the legislative process. I’d expect his first State of the State address to focus on education, rather than tax increases.

Balukoff, of course, welcomes support from wherever he gets it. If it’s from tea party conservatives, or followers of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, then so be it.

But conservatives should be careful what they wish for. Idahoans elected Andrus to a four-year hitch in 1970 and Democrats held the office for the next 24 years.

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Malloy

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)

Rehabbing the post-high school ‘Go on’ effort (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Evaluating red light cycle at Hitt/17th (IF Post Register)
GOP convention adjourns without chair, platform (IF Post Register, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Minimal federal inspection of high-risk wells (Lewiston Tribune)
Close look at Materne tax breaks (Nampa Press Tribune)

Eugene evaluates homeless effort (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon may try to map GMO fields (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Pot dispensary law has led to backlast (Medford Tribune)
SAIF CEO Plotkin dismissed (Portland Oregonian)
Evaluating school safety (Portland Oregonian)
Some schools not doing safety drills (Salem Statesman Journal)

11 new charter schools sought in state (Kennewick Herald)
Business development groups after merger (Port Angeles News)
Delta air plans expanding in Northwest (Seattle Times)
No platform, chair at Idaho GOP convention (Spokane Spokesman)
ID water permitting moves toward state (Spokane Spokesman)
Dispute over Clark County stormwater fee (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Next week Idaho Democrats will follow Idaho Republicans in holding their convention at Moscow. There’s much they could usefully talk about – but probably won’t.

The party has nominees in place for most major offices and a passable number below, and the convention will discuss their virtues. Also, the shortcomings, especially recent ones, of the Republicans who have been in near-total control of the state government for the last two decades. And the policy differences between the parties.

That is what Idaho Democrats, like Republicans, have done every two years during these last 20.

And here’s the record from 1994 to now. Democrats have lost the last five gubernatorial elections, getting a peak percentage of the vote in 2006 (44.1%) – in other words, not close. That’s better than the Senate races during that time, when they peaked at 34.1% (in 2008).

The most telling statistic may be legislative. In 1994 Republicans won the state Senate 27-8, and the House 57-13. After the 2012 election, they won the Senate 28-7, and the House 57-13. Through the years in between, those numbers have hardly changed. Good candidates, bad candidates, better or worse campaigns and funding, varied message strategies – little of it seems to have mattered.

In two decades of Idaho politics, we have seen successive presidencies, economic ups and downs, people coming and going, this candidate and then that arising, periodic scandals and mishaps, changes in content and intensity of ideology, demographic changes, terrific candidates, fringe candidates, issues dominating discussion then fading and then replaced by others. Through it all, Idaho partisan politics has not budged. The needle has not moved.

The politics of Idaho seem frozen, glacier-like, except for moving even slower than that.

But what about the major-office wins by Democrats for superintendent of public instruction (1998, 2002) and the U.S. House (1st district, 2008)? Those openings happened on occasion of major Republican mess-ups – in other words, when Republicans errantly left the door wide open. That doesn’t happen a lot.

Depending on who you are, this may be okay. Many Idahoans regularly vote for Republicans, and – even putting aside what the candidates say or don’t say in campaigns – what those Republican candidates deliver cannot come as much of a surprise, good or bad, after all this time.

If you’re a Democrat, or an independent simply not on board with the agenda of the last 20 years, the frustration has to be great. Democrats run candidates both good (sometimes very good) and less so, run campaigns well and less so, have surprisingly often raised enough money to get their message out, and in many instances done what conventional wisdom says candidates and parties ought to do. Earlier in Idaho history that might have resulted in a middling number of wins. Not in the last 20 years.

The problem for Idaho Democrats lies outside the names of their candidates and even the skill and energy of their campaigns. It relates to broader attitudes and conditions in Idaho. Their problem is solvable if Idahoans aren’t as satisfied with their government as their voting patterns seem to suggest, which as a proposition doesn’t seem a reach.

Idaho Democrats meeting at Moscow need to talk about what’s holding them back – what keeps a large segment of Idaho voters from crossing over and giving their stronger candidates a chance (as once was the case), and what’s keeping many prospective voters for Democrats from participating at all (which demonstrably seems to be the case).

A bigger subject than what their candidates do in the next four months.

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Idaho Idaho 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)

Labrador announces for majority leader (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Massive work underway at I-84 (Boise Statesman)
Bieter proposes another fire protection bond (Boise Statesman)
Decline, rebuild efforts, of Idaho unions (IF Post Register)
Rand Paul speaks at Moscow (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Idaho Republicans consider resolutions (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Sandpoint Bee)
Chaney runs for House seat, despite charges (Nampa Press Tribune)
Dietrich fire hits 145 acres (TF Times News)

Big Social Security case develops in Bandon (Coos Bay World)
Impacts of well closures in curtailment (KF Herald & News)
What can be sold at Saturday market? (Ashand Tidings)
Conservation group seeks to buy burned land (Ashland Tidings)
Umatilla Chemical Depot loss cuts jobs (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hermiston Rotary joins anti-trafficking (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Police concerned of SE Portland homeless camp (Portland Oregonian)
Background of Troutdale shooter (Portland Oregonian)
Roseburg News-Register mornings on weekend (Roseburg Review)
Consumers speak on insurance proposals (Salem Statesman Journal)

Education could take a hit in next budget (Kennewick Herald)
Army Corps targets cormorants (Longview News)
High prices, conditions for easside houses (Seattle Times)
Boeing, others, develop alternative health plans (Seattle Times)
Labrador runs for majority leader (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark sheriff candidates debate (Vancouver Columbian)
Longview homeless shelter struggles (Longview News)
Yakima school board may end senior projects (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’m going to advance a theory about Sgt. B. Bergdahl that I suspect you probably haven’t seen anywhere else. The fact that you likely haven’t means I’m probably crazy as hell. But, hey, those of us who write on the old I-net machine aren’t real writers and thinkers anyway, right?

This kernel of digital thought is based on my own years in uniform and the thousands of people I met while doing so. Because many of those years were spent in locations with personnel from other services, I got a pretty good look at people in all branches. Sans uniforms, we were a good cross-section of American life. Some very intelligent individuals – others that had to be reminded daily which foot was the left and which arm was the right.

A basic fact I learned is not everyone in uniform should be – whatever their motivations for joining. But, in my day, a lot of folks were either drafted or so scared they would be that they jumped into one branch or the other just to have a choice. The topic of an “all volunteer” military was never mentioned. You gambled the draft wouldn’t get you or you went off to “march” in the military.

Regardless of which branch, you’re immediately thrown into a lifestyle of life-changing experiences with people you’d never meet any other way. If you were from a small, all-white Oregon town, you quickly learned there really were others who didn’t look, talk or act like all the folks back home. Not that you weren’t intellectually aware of that. You just never showered with ‘em or ate with ‘em or – if you were a bit social – got to know ‘em.

If you were a “normal” heterosexual male, you found not every other guy was. In those days, that meant a quick discharge. If you were of a race with a learned hatred of the other, there were new social techniques to learn – quickly – to deal with that. If you had no patience with those whose hygiene skills weren’t up to yours, you had another learning experience. In fact, service in any military unit was – and is – a constant “learning experience.”

Even back then, not everyone “made the grade.” We had “washouts.” Guys who couldn’t adjust. Or wouldn’t. The primary goal of basic training in any of the branches has always been to quickly whip recruits into at least a basic military unit for further training. Almost as important has been the need to find those that can’t make the transition and weed ‘em out. Even in today’s all-volunteer military, not everyone who does so – regardless of motivation – should be accepted.

Given that background – and extensive reporting of Bergdahl’s days in the military and of his family’s lifestyle – my hunch is the sergeant is one of those and that he slipped through the cracks.

Hailey, Idaho, is a relatively isolated community of some 8,000 souls Though only about a dozen miles South of Ketchum/Sun Valley, Hailey is a more rural town with a slower and more local flavor – the sort of place rural South Blaine County folks go to buy necessities. Compared to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Hailey is definitely not in the “fast lane.”

Bergdahl’s family seems not to be a “fast lane” bunch, either. His father and mother talk more like some of the more liberal crowd in the area. Some of their words bring memories of what were called “hippie-types” about 45 years ago. Their descriptions of Bowe, and quotes of many other locals who’ve said something of his background, talk of a “good kid” – one who was sort of quiet – who didn’t have a lot of problems with school or other local authority. A kid with conscience. And a bit of a dreamer. A kid who kind of kept to himself – not part of the popular crowd – pleasant enough – smart enough but not outstanding.

Some reporting since Bergdahl’s release has told of a few times when he just wandered away from his army duties. In basic training, he once said he just wanted to go see a sunset. In Afghanistan, he had gone – unarmed – on more than one foray into local areas to look around. In an email to a friend, he talked to wanting to walk to China into “the artist’s painted world, hiding from the fields of blood and screams- hiding from the monster within.” He’d also repeatedly expressed concerns to fellow soldiers about what the American military was doing to the native population and of his serious concerns about it.

Dig a bit deeper. In 2006, he “washed out” of the Coast Guard for “psychological reasons” before he joined the army.

“O.K., Rainey,” you say. “Where the hell are you going with all this?”

Well, here’s where. Given my own military experiences and adding what we now know of Bergdahl’s, this sounds like a guy who should’ve been “washed out” in basic training. Or rejected by a recruiter. Especially with the previous Coast Guard “psych” discharge which was certainly on the record. He sounds like a serious-minded kid, just out of his teen years, raised in a rather liberal family by parents who’ve expressed similar concerns about the war in Afghanistan. I don’t know enough about them to call them “conscientious objectors” but they’re certainly more forthcoming – and articulate – with their reservations about the war than most folks. His father’s gone so far as to learn the local Afghan dialect and grow a beard common among Afghan men. Those things also speak of someone with more than casual feelings about events. You ever hear of anyone else in a similar situation going that far? Me neither.

Seems to me Sgt. Bergdahl is a guy who should’ve never been in uniform. He sounds like a good kid who certainly would have never made “Soldier of the Month.” He sounds like a bad civilian “fit” in army fatigues.

Bergdahl – or any captive American in a war – should’ve been rescued. All else is political B.S.. The rescue was right. Now, if a subsequent military investigation finds what Bergdahl did by wandering off fits the Uniform Code of Military Justice definition of “desertion,” take the proper steps to administer punishment as specified. That’s the “army way.”

Still, it seems to me the army bears more than a little responsibility for Bergdahl being in Afghanistan in the first place. His background – his upbringing – his family beliefs – his repeatedly expressed concerns about what war was doing to other human beings – the previous discharge for “psychological reasons” – all of that should have raised red flags. He had a history before his capture. A history that was well-known to those around him in the military. A history that seems to have been ignored.

Sometimes that, too, is the “army way.”

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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)

Labrador mentioned as majority leader prospect (Boise Statesman)
Union decline in review (Boise Statesman)
Increases in Idaho student debt (IF Post Register)
Bergdahl reaches Texas (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
Huckabee addresses Idaho GOP (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WA court orders legislature to explain on schools (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow charter schools alter next year (Moscow News)
Tailgating returns to C of I after 37 years (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big gap between education and jobs (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello schools may set social media policy (Pocatello Journal)

Natural gas car fueling at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Water call by Klamath tribes and project (KF Herald & News)
Bend fire fought by prison inmates (KF Herald & News)
Medford Council member Karen Blair dies (Medford Tribune)
Big wildfire closest I-84 near Pendleton (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Sheriff gets more funds in Umatilla budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reflecting on shooting at Reynolds school (Portland Oregonian)
Patnode chosen as new Cover Oregon leader (Salem Statesman Journal)

Secrecy fought on oil train shipments (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
Supreme Court: legislature must explain on schools (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Anger over Weyerhauser land access fee (Longview News)
New battle over Victoria sewage (Port Angeles News)
Pot growing estimated to have little water effect (Port Angeles News)
Some King health clinics may close (Seattle Times)
End urges to warehousing mentally ill (Seattle Times)
Army Corps plans cormorant kill (Vancouver Columbian)
Zillah parish abuse case clears church (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Idaho’s Second District congressman, Mike Simpson, has to be one of the nation’s few prominent non-Tea Party Republicans not shedding any tears over the stunning upset and defeat of Virginia congressman and Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this week.

Indeed, he has to be smiling like a Chesire cat.

Without having to lift a finger, or stab a colleague in the back, a major hurdle was eliminated in a possible path to the Speakership by the wily yet charming Idahoan. Historically, a party’s majority leader often becomes the Speaker, a powerful post in our system of checks and balances government, and second in line of succession to the Presidency.

Simpson is thought to aspire to the office but early on he must have recognized that it would be difficult to pursue the traditional path wherein an aspirant first runs for either the number three leadership post, that of Party whip, currently held by California congressman Kevin McCarthy, or the number four post, caucus secretary, held by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington state’s Fifth Congressional District (Spokane).

A member of the leadership then bides his or her time until a Speaker retires and in theory everyone moves up a slot. That’s the theory, but of course the reality often leads to some nasty internal fights not always soothed over after the results are known.

Simpson appears to have adopted a different path. A good judge of horse flesh, he indirectly attached his political star to that of Ohio congressman John Boehner, becoming both a friend and a close personal advisor to the future Speaker and a member of the so-called “inner circle.” He carefully avoided running for any of the leadership posts because inevitably one makes a few enemies by becoming an overt rival.

The former Speaker of the Idaho House and former dentist from Blackfoot also instinctively understood that if one is a formal member of a Speaker’s leadership team, then he or she is identified with the bad as well as the good policies and positions that are taken by a Speaker. This can be both a blessing and a curse, but as Eric Cantor found out, it can lead to a muddled middle ground on a divisive issue like immigration reform that ends up alienating both sides.

By staying out of a formal leadership role Simpson can pick and choose carefully which national issues he may want to take a more visible stance on.

Additionally, unlike Cantor, Simpson obviously has stayed well connected to his district and his constituents know he delivers for them and their needs. This was one of the key reasons he was able to clobber his Tea Party challenger, Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, again, unlike Cantor, who was upset by his primary challenger, an economics professor, David Brat.

The fact that Simpson also stood up and called “b.s.” on the various charges made against him and then took the fight to his challenger by waging an aggressive and indeed costly campaign to retain his seat also has to have raised his profile and star with his colleagues.

Everyone likes a leader who can stand and fight. Simpson did and it surely enhanced his stature.

Now a scramble is underway to select a successor to Cantor by June 19th even though his resignation from the majority leader post isn’t effective until July 31st. Speaker Boehner may officially stay neutral and let the GOP House Caucus decide without his running the risk of making his preference known but suffer possible public humiliation if the one he backs were to lose.

Nonetheless, he is thought to be quietly supporting the Caucus whip, Rep. McCarthy. Standing in the way is Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions, chairman of the powerful House Rules committee, who is waging an aggressive campaign for Cantor’s old post.

Chief contestants for McCarthy’s post, should he win the mjaority leader job, are McCarthy’s chief deputy whip, Rep. Peter Roskam from Illinois, and Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana. Scalise may seek the post regardless. In each case one may see an unseemly split in Republican ranks between the so-called moderates and the Tea Party sympathizers, such as Idaho’s First District congressman, Raul Labrador.

Nowhere will one read Mike Simpson’s name in all of this scrambling and infighting, for by staying out of the fray he stays above the fray. He also becomes the most obvious compromise choice and by the time Speaker Boehner steps down, either at the end of this term or the next term, Idaho’s Mike Simpson may well be an even money bet to succeed Boehner.

No wonder he is smiling like the Cheshire cat.

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Carlson

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)

Bergdahl’s writings examined (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Meridian schools pursue $104m in bonds (Boise Statesman)
Conflict on nonprofit meals on wheels program (Boise Statesman)
INL plutonium accident yield new legal case (IF Post Register)
Idaho sugar beet growers seek Mexico limits (IF Post Register)
Activists question Lewiston port larger dock (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho Republicans coming to Moscow (Moscow News)
UI receives $16 million med research grant (Moscow News)
Canyon County gets first public defender (Nampa Press Tribune)
New St. Alphonsus medical site near (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa might see profit from new garage (Nampa Press Tribune)
Blaine commissioner talks Bergdahl (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
ISU working out campus gun costs (Pocatello Journal)

Sather housing project clears on wetlands (Corvallis Gazette)
Graduating class hits record at OSU (Corvallis Gazette)
Troutdale shooter identified as student (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Filmmakers tracking OR-7 (KF Herald & News)
Ashland area water pipeline set for August (Ashland Tidings)
High reward over who lit Bend wildfire (Ashland Tidings)
New leadership for Cover Oregon unclear (Salem Statesman Journal)
Doakes Ferry Road gets opposition (Salem Statesman Journal)

Manager at Paine Field will retire (Everett Herald)
Firm contracted to sift through mess at Oso (Everett Herald)
Lynnwood mayor delivers state of city (Everett Herald)
Veteran KING anchor Enerson retires (Seattle Times)
McMorris Rodgers won’t go for Cantor seat (Spokane Spokesman)
Business suit against WSDOT dismissed (Spokane Spokesman)
More about Troutsale shooter (Vancouver Columbian)
Many state laws go into effect (Vancouver Columbian)
Legal challenge to Seattle minimum wage (Vancouver Columbian)
New bus station for downtown Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take