Writings and observations

stapilus RANDY

The View
from Here

While such factors as immigration and Democratic crossover may have slightly padded the stunning Tuesday primary loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, some of the most careful analysis of the loss seems to point to something else: The feeling that Cantor had lost touch with his district.

There was the sense that he wasn’t back home much, that he was always on the tube or in DC, and that when he did show up he was surrounded by a heavily armed security detail. How would an average citizen get a word with him?

Compare that to standard practice in, say, Oregon, where elected officials routinely visit back home and are quite accessible when they do.

But then, the idea of rising a little too high in Washington and losing that local connection is not a strange concept in the Northwest. Decades ago, Oregon Representative Al Ullman had risen to a position of real power in the House only to be taken out back home when people saw he wasn’t getting back to the district very often. In 1994, people in eastern Washington had some of the same view – probably with less justification – about Tom Foley, then the House speaker. And he too lost.

As it happens, the current Republican representatives in each of those same districts, Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington and Greg Walden in Oregon, are in House leadership right now, albeit at a lower and less visible level than Foley – or Cantor. Either of them might be a plausible contender for Cantor’s leadership post, from which he is planning to resign this summer.

Indications are that they aren’t going for it. Walden hasn’t had a lot to say about the situation, and McMorris Rodgers seems to have swept aside the idea of what’s now looking like a crowded race for the number two job in the House.

They may be wise to take that attitude. Both have what look like secure seats at conditions stand. But sometimes the risk increases as you fly closer to the sun, and they may be well aware of that.

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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)

GOP chairman battle turns intense (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal)
IF airport upgrade opens doors Tuesday (IF Post Register)
Nez Perce Tribe considers sheriff’s dispatch (Lewiston Tribune)
Troutdale student shooting (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Pullman considers its revenue options (Moscow News)
Smoking ban at new Nampa events center? (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho Blue Cross tries new priving device (Nampa Press Tribune)
Hillside I at ISU being demolished (Pocatello Journal)
More on Bergdahl case from Congress (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Battle over new EPA water rules (TF Times News)

Troutdale school shooting erupts (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette, Ashland Tidings)
Neighbors angry over Corvallis parking, park (Corvallis Gazette)
Christmas tree industry pioneer Schudel dies (Corvallis Gazette)
Questions spread over Glenwood development (Eugene Register Guard)
Capt. Vancouver’s anchor found? (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland city candidates emerge (Ashland Tidings)
Hermiston wants to grow e-commerce operations (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Salem Schools okay new annual budget (Salem Statesman Journal)

Stillaguamish bridge will close for months (Everett Herald)
Kadlec Hospital links with health network (Kennewick Herald)
PUD may block juice to pot businesses (Longview News)
Troutdale school shooting erupts (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian, Longview News)
Mass caterpillar invasion at Columbia Co (Longview News)
Possible Vancouver anchor landed (Port Angeles News)
SPU gunman says he wanted to feel hate (Seattle Times, Olympian)
Hearing crowd backs keeping Tacoma government form (Tacoma News Tribune)
Yakima county okays plan for pot business (Yakima Herald Republic)
Looks like a good cherry crop (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

harris ROBERT


Democracy reform continues to gain momentum. Fixing the process in a way that empowers voters, not donors, is gaining grassroots momentum. Mainstream media is publishing more articles about primary reforms.

But there is one way to have an open primary for all Oregon’s independent voters who were shut out of the State sponsored and paid for elections of our most important offices.

The Independent Party of Oregon is in the midst of preparing for a primary election. With 100,000 members, it’s more than six times larger than any other minor party, and is nearing 5% of total voters. Non affiliated voters, those not registered as belonging to a recognized party, make up about 23% of the electorate. Together i/Independents number almost as many as registered Republicans.

So, perhaps the IPO should open up it’s primary this election to NAV’s. If as Democrats like to claim most IPO members really think they are NAV, then the IPO is almost obligated to open it up. If as the IPO leaders state the party exists to allow non major party candidates a legal roadway to enter the political marketplace, then opening up the election to NAV”s is a logical step now that it has neared major party status.

The reasons it shouldn’t open it’s primary are: A relatively small group of motivated voters could skew the outcomes of some races. I suppose that is correct, and some of those candidates may be fringe rather than centrist, however, that may be the will of the i/Independents in Oregon. But there certainly is a risk that the IPO (Independent Party of Oregon) could end up with several tea party candidates in Southern Oregon, and several very progressive candidates in the Portland area. But, isn’t that the general makeup of the Oregon voter profile geographically?

And of course there is the time and effort involved in running an election without State support. And sometimes even in the face of actual antagonism from our elected officials. Vote security, broadcasting the availability and process, and actual volunteer hours.

They would all be significant challenges. (Perhaps some of the media would partner with the IPO to broadcast the process. I think public service announcements are still required as a condition of licensing.)

It would be a huge lift. But with the right publicity, assistance from key places, and some additional volunteers, it could be done.

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Harris Oregon


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)

IF zoo superintendent Beth Rich departs (IF Post Register)
New IF officials learn the ropes (IF Post Register)
Lewiston city stays with Inland Cellular (Lewiston Tribune)
Local reaction to Obama college debt plans (Moscow News)
First Wind donates for Palouse habitat help (Moscow News)
Land value up in Canyon County (Nampa Press Tribune)
New Albertson Foundation director (Nampa Press Tribune)
Resount asked on bias initiative vote (Pocatello Journal)
Boise VA operations see mixed audit report (TF Times News)
Bergdahl family delivers thanks (TF Times News)

Wildfires near Coos Bay area (Coos Bay World)
North Bend reviews controversies in schools (Coos Bay World)
State may pay Cover Oregon legal bills (Coos Bay World)
VA in Oregon do poorly in audit (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Corvallis Gazette)
Blaze continues near Bend (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene still considering Civic Stadium buy (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water closures about to start (KF Herald & News)
Write-ins will reach November ballot (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Flood irrigation questioned (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)

Possible Snohomish courthouse remodel (Everett Herald)
Portland VA audited as below average (Longview News)
Washington VA sees long waits (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
Salvaging Capt. Vancouver’s anchor? (Seattle Times, Port Angeles News)
New ‘pocket beach’ work starts in summer (Post Angeles News)
Ballot threat pressed $15 wage action (Seattle Times)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman ought to read Canadian author Farley Mowat’s book, Never Cry Wolf. He might learn a thing or two about animal behavior which all too often has application in the political arena.

For example, he will learn that nothing is simple, that everything is complex. As a charming and engaging propagandist, Hoffman loves to oversimplify complex situations and appear as some wise sage enlightening the uninformed about what’s really going on with and in the Idaho Legislature.

He will also relearn what he should know well given the years he has worked in the political arena: nothing is as it appears and there are no coincidences. These thoughts were prompted by reading his overly simplified, off-the-mark interpretation of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s campaign mailer and ads in the waning days of the May 20th primary which saw Republican State Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis go down in defeat.

Hoffman found it all too easy to accuse big business of smearing a true blue conservative for her vote against spending $200,000 for the creation of an Idaho Wolf Task Force. To reach this preconceived conclusion Hoffman had to ignore evidence that should have told him much more was at play. He apparently could not resist the temptation to bend the facts to his skewed view. He wants readers to believe that IACI got away with suckering the ill-informed voter by accusing Rep. Barrett of being “soft” on the eradication of introduced wolves.

Who is he trying to kid? Anyone who knows Rep. Barrett, who parlayed her time on the Challis City Council into 11 terms in the Idaho Legislature, knows where she stands on every issue – to the far right. They also know she is not soft about anything. She operates in a world of clear black and white and calls it as she sees it.

To say her style, after awhile, begins to rub some the wrong way, would be an understatement. Her age (well beyond 70) is another issue Hoffman chose to ignore.

The ground truth is the earth moved underneath her feet, i.e., she was redistricted into a much larger legislative district – District 8, which stretches from Wyoming on the east to Oregon on the west. For years she represented eastern Idaho counties like Jefferson and Fremont not to mention Custer and Lemhi. Want to wager Wayne that she didn’t spend much time in Valley, Boise and Gem counties getting acquainted with her new constituents?

Her antennae should have given her warning signals in 2012 when she won the four-way Republican primary with just 37.2% of the vote. In 2014, Rep. Barrett received 2,677 votes, which in a three-person race translates into 34.2% of the vote. No one should have been surprised.

There’s another tried and true political axiom: It takes someone to beat someone; in other words, you seldom defeat an incumbent with a nobody. My guess is that Merrill Beyelier, from Leadore, is a somebody. I’d wager, Wayne, that Beyelier is a member of the LDS Church ( Barrett is not), and that he had the backing of the locally politically powerful Ellsworth family, which, a few years back produced a Senate Pro Tempore, the late Senator Jim Ellsworth.

That is a much more plausible explanation as to why she lost Lemhi county, which she had almost always carried.

Another factor that could have come into play was the retirement of her long-time District 35 colleague, State Rep. Joan Wood, a Republican from Rigby first elected to the Idaho Legislature in 1982. Holding almost identical views, the two often traveled together and campaigned together. One suspects that Rep. Barrett’s heart may not have been engaged as much as before.

Finally, Wayne, you should have let your readers know that this particular primary just may have also been influenced by the behind-the-scenes contest for House Speakership. There is speculation, whether valid remains to be seen, that the new state representative from Leadore is being quietly wooed by both Speaker Scott Bedke and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle.

Bedke reputedly defeated Moyle for the Speakership when the House Republican Caucus ousted controversial Speaker Lawerence “Boss” Denney by only two votes two years ago. Rep. Barrett’s successor may have some leverage to play with.

All of these items had much more of an impact on Rep. Barrett’s defeat than did the IACI gambit.

You’re the one who is crying wolf, Wayne. Let me respectfully suggest that you never cry wolf again. You’re smarter than that and you know better.

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More Bergdahl in review (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
State suseum prepares for renovation (Boise Statesman)
Nez Perce opposing power council on salmon (Lewiston Tribune)
Carbon tax could yield NW dividends (Moscow News)
Donations coming in for Seattle shooting stopper (Moscow News)
Internal GOP fight at convention (TF Times News)

OSF’s All the Way wins Tonys (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Farmers preparing for drought (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Bend wildfires turn smoky (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune)
Salem considers paying for fireworks (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oil train report nearly done (Everett Herald)
Granite Falls gets new police chief (Everett Herald)
Legislators free meals under review (Olympian)
Driver impairment survey could pay drivers (Seattle Times)
Bergdahl case debate continues (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic)
Weighing effectiveness of medical pot (Tacoma News Tribune)
Donations pour in for Seattle shooting stopper (Tacoma News Tribune)
Light rail deal Vancouver-PDX still negotiated (Vancouver Columbian)
Bend area fires blazing (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT


This week’s results of the secession votes in Northern California have been posted. The score is two to one: two deciding to continue their established relationship with this country – one opting to join four other counties that previously decided to pioneer a new “State of Jefferson.” Butte County, California, voters will decide the issue for themselves come Tuesday next.

Now, to some it might appear all this “smoke-in-the-California-woods” is just that: people blowing smoke. But, if you clear the air a bit, you’ll see there are some “flames” to all this and some real problems – maybe more violent problems than voting – could be ahead.

In Del Norte and Siskiyou Counties deciding to stay with the union, the count was roughly 60-40. Tehema County voted to go, and it was about the same ratio to leave. About six in ten. In other words, no terribly lopsided majority either way. So, the secession question isn’t going to disappear, regardless of how impossible such a move might eventually be. The discontents and the malcontents still equal 40-60% of the residents. They’ll continue to create very heated political situations in anything those counties try to do. Anything.

There really is some “beef” to all this secession business. Watched a spot on the T&V the other day showing several dozen kids with dummy wooden rifles being marched across an open field ala the British in 1775. They also were getting lectures from old guys in uniforms – astride old horses – about “freedom” and “personal rights” and all that. In other words, prepping the next generation of Northern California kids to carry on the fight when the old guys and the old horses are long gone. That’s dangerous.

When you have 40-60% of the local population getting onboard this secession train, the reality is not all these folks are on the loony fringe. Several I’ve heard support leaving California express some very legitimate concerns i.e. political and economic dominance by large cities, unequal distribution of government assets and programs, little representation in matters of government, etc. All fact maybe, but also all legal.

The U.S. Supreme Court put us on the “one-man, one-vote” highway in the 60’s. Soon, rural sections of all states found themselves losing their grips on the levers of government and commerce. Power began shifting to metropolitan areas. Idaho may be one of the last states where this isn’t necessarily true. And that’s only because the legislative bunch from Ada and Canyon Counties – where a third of the population lives – have clout in numbers but keep fighting among themselves over political B.S. So less populated regions of the state still kick their butts in the legislature because the rural communities have learned to stick together.

The California secession contingent also has the possibility of lighting fires in other places. Josephine, Jackson, Curry and Douglas Counties on Oregon’s side of the border have voices singing the same song. And have for many years. Doesn’t take more than a few beers to get those voices raised.

Is all this going anywhere? No. If 90% of all the folks living in these unhappy counties decided to leave, could they? No. Is secession from a given state even possible? Not likely. And it certainly wouldn’t be smart.

But a lot of the folks at the root of this movement are much like that Bundy fraud in Nevada. Not all, certainly. But many. Filled with questionable knowledge of our nation’s history, spouting half-truths and no-truths about “individual rights,” “constitutional rights,” “government oppression,” opposed to any government program that doesn’t benefit them and hellbent on getting on TV. They sound “good” to the uninformed, the angry, the outcast residents on the edge of society and the professional haters who’re looking for a larger voice.

These pockets of angry people are a distinct minority for sure. And the possibility of them fulfilling the empty promises of “greener pastures in a 51st state” is nigh impossible. But, in this instance, they just happen to be geographically connected – separated only by an invisible state border. There are those among them not motivated for anyone else’s welfare but their own. There are already well-established drug routes through the forests that sit astride the Oregon-California border. There are informal but well-established trails of illegals and other illicit traffic passing back and forth through the trees. There are people in a dozen or so counties covering the two states with their own personal reasons for keeping the pot boiling.

“Secession” is how all this is referred to and the media truly gives it more credence than it deserves. So far. But when you have elected officials – county sheriff’s and supervisors and clerks – publically advocating the dissolution of bonds with established states, the subject is not going away. And, like that Bundy guy, there are enough opportunists with their own agendas who see profit in the situation to keep stoking the flames.

We have too much ignorant, anti-government sentiment in this country at the moment. Much of it sponsored by voices getting rich by keeping the fires burning. Secession from either California or Oregon by established counties is not going to happen. But I’d bet this business is going to get a lot stickier and a lot louder before it ends. And how it will end is an unknown at this point.

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stapilus RANDY

The View
from Here

If James Kelly and Brett Wilcox succeed in getting their top-two primary proposal on to the ballot, I sure wouldn’t bet against it passing. (See the Oregonian article out today on this.)

Part of the reason is that anyone who isn’t a registered Republican or Democrat automatically would have a reason to vote for it: It would give them meaningful entre into a bunch of primary races they’re now closed off from. And while 20 years ago the number of non-major party registered voters in Oregon was roughly about half the number of Republican or of Democrats, they’re now more numerous than Republicans and not far off from Democrats.

(I’ll admit to some bias here, being a longtime shut-out NAV registrant. I know I could register opportunistically to vote in either party’s primary and then switch back, but that sort of thing just doesn’t feel very honest to me.)

That’s a huge voting block of about a third of the electorate.

Plenty of major party members likely would be in favor too, though. Both parties would have increased opportunities in legislative districts and in other venues where they currently have no realistic chance of winning; general elections have no real significance in most of the state. Moreover, a larger variety of people from both parties could wind up serving, expanding the tents on both sides.

You don’t even get the sense that many of the top elected officials in place now necessarily would be much opposed to the idea.

And while the idea hasn’t exactly wonderfully reformed politics in Washington and California, it hasn’t hurt, either, and people seem happy enough with it.

This could happen.

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Oregon Stapilus


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)

Colleges find new gun rule expensive (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Boise shoots for 1,000 downtown residences (Boise Statesman)
Many bergdahl issues remain (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
IF has low crime, more on east side (IF Post Register)
Preparing for upcoming fire season (IF Post Register)
Both parties conventions at Moscow (Lewiston Tribune)
Another school levy expected at Wilder (Nampa Press Tribune)
Lots of new houses in Middleton (Nampa Press Tribune)
Hate groups dropping in number (Pocatello Journal)
Westwood Mall hanging in despite troubles (Pocatello Journal)
Slowdown seen in Filer recall effort (TF Times News)

Looking at sheltered workshops (Eugene Register Guard)
State may pay Cover Oregon official legal bills (KF Herald & News)
Much praise for hero in Seattle shooting (KF Herald & News)
Water issues on Bear Creek (Medford Tribune)
In Oregon, nonpartisan primaries ahead? (Portland Oregonian)
World War II memorial dedicated at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett Boeing production may slow with 777X (Everett Herald)
Bears prevalent in Ilwaco area (Longview News)
Revenue shortfall at Longview shelter (Longview News)
Keeping track of pot strains (Olympian)
Flood plain permit might have stopped Oso building (Seattle Times)
Looking back on SPU shooting (Seattle Times)
Puyallu tribe election complicated by Dillam death (Tacoma News Tribune)
Marijuana banking questions remain (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark County mulls fireworks rules (Vancouver Columbian)
Armed adinistrators at Toppenish schools (Yakima Herald Republic)
Farm worker advocate Tomas Villaneuva dies (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

We hate unresolved questions. And we hate not knowing for sure what to think about something. Good? Bad? We want to know where to slot it.

The Bergdahl case probably will gnaw at a lot of people for quite a while. We aren’t completely sure what to make of him, or what we should have done – or should do now – about him. War, messy and unpredictable beast it is, has a way of producing irritating loose ends like Bergdahl.

Go back a year, and what did we know? That U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose home town was Hailey, had been held by the Taliban for four years. On June 20 last year, Idaho’s congressional delegation issued a joint statement on the possibility of a prisoner exchange: “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Bowe Bergdahl and his family. His safe return has always been of the utmost importance to us, and his well-being is something we raise with senior administration officials whenever possible.”

Why would the delegation have said anything much different than that “his safe return had always been of the utmost importance to us”? He and his family were, among other things, United States citizens and constituents.

Such quotes have been a constant from the beginning. In July 2009: “With the Pentagon now confirming his identity, we add our thoughts and prayers with others for his reunion with family, friends and Army colleagues. Private Bergdahl represents Idaho and his nation courageously.”

On April 8 this year, Senator Mike Crapo, in an interview with KBOI-TV, reported on a trip to Afghanistan: “And with every one of those meetings at highest levels, I raised the issue of Bowe Bergdahl. I’m pleased to report that not only had they heard of him, they were co-ordinating among themselves. It is a priority for them.” But he also suggested, based on what he’d heard, the idea of extracting him forcibly, rather than negotiating a release, was not realistic.

These recitations aren’t gotchas; to the contrary, they’re what most people would expect any congressional delegation to say. That’s true even with this: Reports that Bergdahl may have walked away from his post, may have deserted, have surfaced and flown around the Internet for a long time. (“May” is a key word here: This is a subject hotly debated, not yet resolved.) Anyone who has followed the Bergdahl case even peripherally has not been surprised to see them surface again now.

And the idea of trading Bergdahl rather than obtaining him in some other way, as the statements from Crapo and others make clear, is nothing new either.

The Idaho delegation, having visited all this over the years, may be more sensitized to the gray areas than most people, walking a line involving party loyalty but also other considerations. Compared to many in Congress and certainly to the cable news blatherers, they have couched their language cautiously and tamped rhetorical fireworks.

Representative Raul Labrador on KBOI radio last week, for example: “I’m a little bit disturbed by some of the Republicans out there who keep saying this has never happened before. That is not entirely true. If you look historically, at the end of any conflict, you have a swap of prisoners, and that happens. Usually our side will release people that are less than desirable in order to get some of our people back in these swaps. So I would suggest that anybody who’s being hyper-critical about this, they should look at the history. This has happened before.”

We have been here before, all right, in this discomfort zone, where messes get sorted out one deliberate step at a time. Welcome to one of the realities of war.

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Idaho Idaho column