Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

During the late 70s and early 80s I was covering politics in Idaho, not Oregon, so the governor I was watching at close range was not Vic Atiyeh but rather John Evans.

Both of them died this month.

And the comparisons between the two, as I thought about it, became eerily extensive.

They were mirror images of opposing parties. Atiyeh was a Republican who had to deal with strongly Democratic legislatures; Evans a Democrat who had to deal with strongly Republican legislatures.

Both grew up working in the family business (ranching and banking for Evans, a rug store for Atiyeh) and each expanded them substantially as an adult and after serving as governor.

Both were elected governor twice, in 1978 and 1982. In their re-election campaigns, each defeated a candidate of the opposing party who would go on to be elected governor later (Ted Kulongoski in Oregon, Phil Batt in Idaho). Each had run for office statewide once before serving as governor, but each also had an extensive state legislative resume. Neither ran for office again after leaving the governorship. (Evans ran for the Senate in 1986, but he was still governor.)

They even shared a name: Victor Atiyeh and John Victor Evans.

They were governor of their states during economic hard times, and focused (in different ways) on business recovery. As personalities, though serving as governor, both were often overshadowed in the public by other political figures of their own party (Atiyeh by Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield, Evans by Frank Church and Cecil Andrus), though that related more to charisma than to capability.

They had a lot in common as people, too. They were friendly and accessible – notably so, this being a quality appreciated more in hindsight than at the time. If they were a little short on charisma that may relate to a preference to stick to the job, to work for the state and to maintain a sense of humility under circumstances where that can be challenging.

I can’t say for sure whether Atiyeh and Evans liked each other. But I have a hard time thinking that they didn’t. For good reason.

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Oregon Oregon 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)

Republican moderate PAC formed (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Stanley searches for life in winter (Boise Statesman)
Considering the black market in liquor licenses (IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Macy’s closes at Katcher, others continue (Nampa Press Tribune)
Opinions vary on Knievel-type canyon jump (TF Times News)

Rural people fight Springfield industrial area (Eugene Register Guard)
Much more cleanup needed after mill fire (Eugene Register Guard)
Beatty fire quickly contained (KF Herald & News)
A look inside Oregon’s prisons (Portland Oregonian)
Churches clarify stands on same sex marriage (Salem Statesman Journal)

More women joining submarine crews (Bremerton Sun)
County commissioner challenged by three (Longview News)
Oil trains pressing grain shipments (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Can pot smell be enough for a cop search? (Spokane Spokesman)
Finding housing for homeless people (Vancouver Columbian)
Wildfires continue roar despite rain (Vancouver Columbian)
Medicaid dental payments kept very low (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

When Dad got tired trying to answer my childish questions of “why” to nearly any new, youthful encounter, his standard response became “You’ll know when you’re older.” Being a trusting kid, I blindly accepted his promise of future knowledge.

Dad’s gone now. And, after my nearly four score years experience, it pains my soul to say it – he was wrong. At least so far as being able to comprehend by knowing the answers to my continued queries of “why.” If his advanced age during my growth years truly gave him understanding of hard-to-understand situations, he was really quite an extraordinary man because my added years haven’t always helped me all that much. On the other hand, maybe some things happening now beyond my ability to grasp are far more complicated and I’m just not up to the task.

Here’s one.

Why would leaders of the National Republican Party – and their elected offspring – formally adopt a position of banishing access to health care for millions of voters and their families? Even want to go to court over it? What sane reason could there be to take away life-changing and even life-saving medical care from adults and kids who now have it – many for the first time in their entire lives? Why would a political party take a position to disenfranchise Americans needing what should be considered one of those “unalienable rights?” “Why, Daddy, why?”

Here’s another. Why will both parties in our national Congress – after endless bloviating about the problem of tens of thousands of children flooding into this country seeking personal refuge and safety – why will those Washington folk go home and not do anything to deal politically or humanely with the situation? Why are they walking away?

Human-being-by-human-being, we have an entirely non-political and extremely human tragedy on our hands. Children from South American countries being used as pawns. Children with absolutely no voice in the matter being pushed and/or dragged into this country with promises of a better life. Or their parents are being threatened with death if they don’t blindly ship their kids off unaccompanied into a trip of thousands of miles filled with all sorts of life-threatening dangers.

And the Congress, from which all resources must come, is going to quit without undertaking a single effort to ease this human tragedy. Why?

And more “whys.”

Why would the governor of Texas call up the Texas National Guard to stand along that border? Why send a guardsman with tank and a rifle to face an eight-year-old child trying to surrender? Why use uniformed – and heavily armed – Texas fathers and mothers to face this flood of young humanity and what are they expected to do? Why uproot members of the Guard – trained in dealing with ecological and natural disasters, equipped to deal with armed foes in other countries but not trained in dealing with the needs of children who don’t understand what’s happening to them and who probably don’t speak English – why send the military and their weapons to deal with kids needing food, shelter and some sense of security? Why?

Here’s another “why” beyond my understanding.

Why would politicians – who sent hundreds of thousands of young people into foreign wars for no legitimate reason – now refuse to pay for the medical, psychological and educational support promised before those young people walked onto those damned, doomed battlegrounds? Why are lying politicians now going home begging for renewal of their employment while the walking wounded of Iran/Afghanistan continue to suffer? Why?

Why would Republican-dominated legislatures in eight states do their damndest to keep people who may not look like them and maybe don’t talk like them from their legal right to vote? Why?

Why are soulless, bloodless – and in some cases heartless – corporations considered to be “human” for the purposes of perverting our nation’s politics? Why are these “humans” allowed – even encouraged – to take their profits and skip out to other countries so their “human” share of the responsibility to support our national economic life is avoided? Why are these “humans” able to prosper here at great cost to real humans but not be responsible for paying for the infrastructure and other needs that make their profits possible? Why are those “humans” able to avoid the inexorable taxes all the rest of us humans must pay? Why?

We’re living in an age in which the “whys” stack up faster than ever before. We have an unresponsive national government – even an adversarial national government – that’s damaging this nation daily by inaction and perversion in the misconduct of its duties. Some of its “human” parts are denying science, education, health care, voting and other basic fact while favoring any “human” that will help finance a re-election campaign.

Our “citizen congress” has become a lifetime employment sector for too many self-serving, intellectually challenged politicians who shouldn’t be allowed driver’s licenses – much less be in positions of power to “direct” the affairs of this nation. The driver’s license analogy is entirely proper given the deep ditch they’ve driven this country into.

Running in tandem with this Potomac train wreck, too many state legislatures are following the same destructive path as they try to deprive rights and expectations of citizenship from minorities. Again, the bloodless “humans” – read “corporations” – have their greedy hands in the pot. The expectation of continuing our Republic is being replaced by the reality of an oligarchy.

Dad’s been gone for many years now. So, I ask you. Why?

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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)

Idaho health insurance exchange data shift (Boise Statesman)
Idaho would see effects of Ex-Im closure (IF Post Register)
IF airport asking long wait times (IF Post Register)
Court blocks Nez Perce-Clearwater timber sale (Lewiston Tribune)
300 houses burn in WA Carlton complex (Lewiston Tribune)
Divided views on where to put Canyon fair (Nampa Press Tribune)
Immigrant children sent to Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello council wants end to external paving (Pocatello Journal)
Work on Yellowstone Avenue again underway (Pocatello Journal)
Viewing the White Cloud debate from the air (TF Times News)

Eugene pushes ahead on mandatory sick leave (Eugene Register Guard)
Hotel owner buys Eugene Schaefer building (Eugene Register Guard)
Beatty fire threatens structures (KF Herald & News)
Pups from OR-7 doing well (Ashland Tidings)
Suspect caught in major Medford arson string (Medford Tribune)
Cover Oregon board considers what’s next (Portland Oregonian)
State reviewing oil trains in state (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Review of upcoming ballot measures (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap, King ocnsider foot ferry options (Bremerton Sun)
Lawsuit over collection company tactics (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge fire officials back off bond plan (Bremerton Sun)
Commission will review Oso mudslide (Everett Herald)
Negotiations continue with longshoremen (Everett Herald)
Carlton complex fire wipes out 300 houses (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
New monorail plan coming on November ballot (Seattle Times)
Design work done on 3rd Columbia bridge (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Annually, newspapers around the country list the top local and regional news stories of the year, lists often begging the difference between “big news” and “actually important.” Sometimes the two overlap; often, they don’t.

The Idaho Statesman at Boise, on occasion of its 150th anniversary since its first edition, has this year run a series of articles about the top stories in its pages during that century and a half. They’ve been good reading, useful for anyone who wants to understand a little more about the sweep of Idaho history. They only occasionally reflect what was perceived as big news at the time.

Mostly, you can’t blame the paper for that. One article for example was about the opening of the first store Joe Albertson launched, at Boise, in 1939. Back in the day it made the paper in a brief notice on page 21 (about what the opening of a new grocery store might, were it lucky, get today). Who could have known what would blossom, decades later, from that one little store?

It’s an example of why newspapers offer just a first draft of history; time makes many events look different in hindsight.

Or sometimes not, at least to many people. Last week the Statesman was promoting selections, made by its readers (not the editors), of choices for the biggest story in Idaho’s (or, the Statesman’s) history, and released the identity of the final four.

One, dating to 1890, is understandable both as an event and as a matter of significance: The achievement of statehood. Not a terrible choice; if you bundle that in with adoption of the state constitution (though I wouldn’t), it was both a big deal at the time, much debated and much written about, and still significant with the passage of time.

Here are the other three:

The Teton Dam collapse in 1976.

The opening of the Boise Latter Day Saints temple in 1984.

Boise State University’s win in the 2007 Fiesta bowl.

Really? True, they all generated big Statesman headlines at the time. But did any of them fundamentally change Idaho? The Teton Dam did great local damage, but repairs happened quickly, and the reverberations have been subtle. The opening of the Boise LDS temple was personally significant to the local church faithful, but it had little effect on others. And a Boise State football victory? Really?

And is it significant that three of these four choices happened within the last 40 years? Is our sense of what came before really that thin?

A few years ago I co-wrote a book called Idaho 100 about the people who most influenced the direction of the Gem State. They included people like David Eliason Pierce, the miner whose gold discovery near Orofino set off the mining boom that led to creation of Idaho Territory, the founding of Boise and its nearby communities, and much more. There was Ira Perrine, whose push for water resource development led directly to the creation of what we know as the Magic Valley. And Joe Marshall, whose single-handed 1917 marketing of the Idaho potato gave the state its signature industry. Or Thomas Ricks, whose founding in 1883 of the city named for his family (Rexburg) was the most direct cause of the biggest religious-social development in Idaho history.

None of those made big headlines when they happened.

Remember the line from the 60s: “The revolution will not be televised”? Well, it might not make the paper, either. Or be much remembered.

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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)

80 mph speed limit signs going up (Boise Statesman)
New Garden city library facilities added (Boise Statesman)
Otter opposes immigrant children in state (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
IF campus of ISU expanding (IF Post Register)
Costs in fire station replacement (IF Post Register)
Ballfield construction continues at Moscow (Lewiston Tribune)
Courthouse disputes over Canyon budhet (Nampa Press Tribune)
Sockeye recovery plan released (TF Times News)

Coburg filling business park (Eugene Register Guard)
Asbestos may be in remains of mill fire (Eugene Register Guard)
New US citizens sworn in (KF Herald & News)
New rule would ban smoking on all beaches (KF Herald & News)
Buckley and Bates at Ashland town hall (Ashland Tidings)
Medford seeing construction boom (Medford Tribune)
Jackson County working on pot siting rules (Medford Tribune)
Local officials review range for drones (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Firefighters prepare for more big fires (Pendleton E Oregonian)
What would pot tax generate? Estimate: $38.5m (Portland Oregonian)
Uber de facto taxis service up at Vancouver (Portland Oregonian)
Cool, wet weather easing fires (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap assessor candidates face off (Bremerton Sun)
Unfair labor charged at Central Kitsap Fire (Bremerton Sun)
Train waiting times increase at Marysville (Everett Herald)
Everett coffee shop accepts bitcoins (Everett Herald)
Boeing hit with age discrimination charge (Everett Herald)
Budget increase for Hanford in Senate review (Kennewick Herald)
Free meals will be offered at Richland school (Kennewick Herald)
Longview city manager Gregory quits (Longview News)
Closure of Weyerhaeuser land irritates (Longview News)
Old Bellevie rail yard may become light rail (Seattle Times)
Declining numbers of marine birds in area (Seattle Times)
Parks funding plan draws political battle (Seattle Times)
United Grain labor battle increases (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver school chief gets pay raise (Vancouver Columbian)
Free meals for students at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)
Several Yakima-area school buildings progress (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

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)

Fire season worsening (Boise Statesman)
Boise looking for foothills gifts, easements (Boise Statesman)
Occupy Boise win in court, seek costs (Boise Statesman)
Graduates number 1,700 at BYU-Idaho (IF Post Register)
Reviewing urban chickens in Idaho Falls (IF Post Register)
Asotin sheriff tells why he quit (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho ranks low for pre-kindergarten (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon real estate coming on strong (Nampa Press Tribune)
Sportsman’s Warehouse returns to Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Internal GOP battles over leaders goes on (Pocatello Journal)
More Idaho children in poverty (Pocatello Journal)
Fox TV won’t televise Snake canyon jump (TF Times News)
Why were state ed board applications destroyed? (TF Times News)

Oregon health, Medicaid system straining (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fish may have died from Springfield mill fire (Eugene Register Guard)
Pot moratorium in Chiloquin ends (KF Herald & News)
Sprague River victims denied county help (KF Herald & News)
Klamath welcoming Burning Man pass-throughs (KF Herald & News)
New editor Bert Etling at the Tidings (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland parks leader retiring (Ashland Tidings)
Medical pot patients run for Medford council (Medford Tribune)
Hispanic outreach group finds success (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Initiative on GMO labels hits ballot (Portland Oregonian)
Federal oil train plan released (Portland Oregonian)

First Kitsap, Port Orchard, pot shop licensed (Bremerton Sun)
Judge throws out PSE rate hike (Bremerton Sun)
Kilmer and three challengers in the 6th district (Bremerton Sun)
General manager gets more authority at PUD (Longview News)
Some containment at Carlton complex fire (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Port Angeles chamber mulls merger (Post Angeles News)
Seattle cops say black cited more on pot use (Seattle Times)
Pot price gouging alleged (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley will be doing more than watching the Election Day results in November. He’ll be keeping an eye on Republican winners, because his job depends on it.

Perhaps even more than the governor’s race, the state’s direction hinges on the outcome of the legislative races. Bedke, who won by a narrow margin in 2012, is no lock to win re-election. Critics – and there are plenty of them within the conservative wing of the GOP caucus – say he hasn’t done enough to bring opponents to his side.

“He’s leading with the D’s, and that’s no way to lead,” said one Republican House member.

For certain, Bedke could not have gotten through the implementation of a state-run health exchange without the help of Democrats.

“A majority of the Republican caucus voted against the exchange and the only way it passed was with the help of Democrats,” said Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens (Kootenai County). “That would not have happened under the previous speaker.”

Barbieri also opposes Bedke on Common Core education standards and fears that the speaker could push for Medicaid expansion. Barbieri isn’t alone with in his complaints about Bedke’s leadership. Earlier this month, the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey wrote an excellent piece, talking to two of Bedke’s leading critics from the conservative side – Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane of Nampa and Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude of rural Ada County.

But complaints against Bedke and the more moderate “Otter” Republicans are empty without a viable conservative alternative, and that’s a problem. The bench is thin. Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star has the resume, but he has told others that he is not interested in the speaker’s job because it would signify the beginning of the end of his legislative career. Rep. Tom Loertscher of Bone, the longtime chairman of the State Affairs Committee, also has the qualification. The question is whether he wants to stay on for another term or two. In Popkey’s article, Crane offered himself as a potential candidate for speaker. The question is whether he is ready for such an assignment. My guess is he is not.

Bedke, in many ways, has done a good job leading the House and a divided GOP caucus. He’s highly intelligent, engaged in the issues and has superior knowledge about budgeting. He’s also a superb communicator with the media, a trait not often found with Republicans.

Conservative members have a different view, as Popkey’s article outlined. Crane says that Bedke’s style has made the GOP divisions worse.

“It’s about divide and conquer, and that’s not leadership,” Crane told Popkey. “Leadership provides direction, provides a vision, provides a mission of where we’re going and gets people united. It’s not about dividing people so you can manipulate the process.”

Others within the caucus are less kind. He often is described as “mean,” “vindictive,” “dictatorial” and “condescending.”

Bedke is more likely to get favorable reviews from Democrats than conservative members of his caucus. House Democrat Leader John Rusche of Nez Perce gives Bedke high marks for fairness and sensible approaches to some issues, but says some fellow Democrats see him as condescending.

Criticism of House speakers is nothing new. In some respects, Bedke reminds me of the late Tom Stivers, who ruled with an iron fist in the 1980s. Critics also accused him of being “mean” and “vindictive.” I also see in Bedke some of the qualities of now-Congressman Mike Simpson in terms of intelligence, decisiveness and savvy with the media.

Bedke could do better for himself by taking some of the qualities of his friend and former speaker, Bruce Newcomb. Newcomb often alienated some of the more conservative members of his caucus, but he had a way of bringing people back to the fold – often with his friendly nature and sense of humor.
Bedke’s style of humor does not always hit home with legislators as Popkey’s article illustrated. As Crane was discussing the need for party unity, Bedke reportedly came back with, “What do you want, Crane, more ice cream socials?”

Those who heard the conversation were laughing like schoolyard bullies, but it was hardly funny to Crane – and hardly a way for Bedke to bring conservative members to his side.

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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)

Very hot springs killed dog; access changes (Boise Statesman)
US Geothermal increases its profits (Boise Statesman)
Battle at Lewiston urban renewal board (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington’s Carlton fire nearing control (Lewiston Tribune)
State’s public defense system under review (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa dispute over burger place parking (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello PD buy big armored vehicle (Pocatello Journal)
Free lunches cut back at Pocatello schools (Pocatello Journal)
Hollister cuts speed to preserve road (TF Times News)
Salmon Gate water could end today (TF Times News)

Another hotel may be tried for Corvallis (Corvallis Gazette)
Corvallis may limit demolition of houses (Corvallis Gazette)
Adidas logos replace some Nikes at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Marijuana legalization hits November ballot (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Klamath ag research loses water too (KF Herald & News)
Lightning fires hit southern Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
OSP chief says counties have to fund enforcement (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Not much immediate effect of health insurance ruling (Portland Oregonian)

Battles in District 26 (Bremerton Sun)
Causes of Oso slide still unclear (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Mukilteo lets Liias retain city, state jobs (Everett Herald)
Some progress on wildfire fight (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz Republicans see faction fight (Longview News)
Senator Hargrove concerned on water rule suit (Port Angeles News)
Moorage rates at Port Angeles reduced (Port Angeles News)
Spokane reconsiders taxi rules (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark County economy booming (Vancouver Columbian)
Looking at 4th CD fundraising (Yakima Herald Republic)
Settlement on public records costs Yakima $25k (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Critics of Oregon’s proposed top two open primary say one weakness is that in some districts the top two who advance to the general election may be from the same party. A report from the Independent Voter Network, takes a look at California Senate District 28, where two Republicans advanced onto the November general election.

Their conclusion? It’s a good thing. With Republican voters making up just 40% of the voters in SD-28, it means that the two Republican finalists will now be forced to appeal not just to Republican primary voters, but to all voters. This has caused the candidates to minimize ideology and focus on local issues that matter to more voters.

Wedge issues aren’t nearly as effective when you have two candidates from the same party.

Frankly, all the wailing that a top two open primary will occasionally result in two Republicans or two Democrats taking the top two spots is a red herring. In fact, it’s one of the strengths of the proposal.

In Oregon, under the current closed primary system heavily Democratic or Republican districts produce a single candidate in November. In 20 of the 60 Oregon House races this November voters will get one major party candidate to vote for. In the 66 Oregon Senate seats up for election, 6 of them will likewise feature one major party candidate. Over one third of Oregon’s Legislature is basically uncontested and features a single major party candidate.

At least under the open primary system there’s a likelihood that these 26 races would feature two major party candidates, even if they are from the same party. This would give voters a choice. And for candidates in heavily R or D districts, they couldn’t just pander to either the public employee unions leaders or the Chamber of Commerce in their respective primaries and then prepare for their coronation in November.

When Our Oregon supporter or a tea party member claims that a top two open primary may result in two Democrats or two Republicans advancing to the November ballot. Say…GREAT! That doubles voter choice of major party candidates in a third of our Legislative districts.

Note: This isn’t an endorsement of the open primary initiative, on which I’m undecided. It is a critique of the Democratic and Republican hypocrisy in their criticism that the open primary reduces choices.

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Harris Oregon Oregon column