Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in July 2014

An irreducible minimum

idaho RANDY

No community in Idaho would relish the loss of 21 jobs. Boise would not; Nampa would not. The east side of Seattle just lost more than 1,300 jobs at Microsoft, and certainly didn't welcome that.

But Boise, Nampa and Seattle weather these losses, however unpleasant. The loss of just 21 jobs is more critical in some places than in others, as the people of Dubois could say emphatically.

Dubois is like one of those places the writer Dayton Duncan wrote of in his book Miles from Nowhere (1993), which was about the remote and small-population places of western America. Among Idaho communities, he happened to focus on Stanley and Yellow Pine.

His most striking instance, in a chapter called “Below the Irreducible Minimum,” was Loving County, Texas, population 107, and its one community, the seat of Mentone. It raises a question: When does a community become too small to remain a functioning community?

Clark, with a reported 867 residents (down from 1,022 in 2000), is Idaho's least-populated county, and the 30th least-populated county in the United States. It's a rugged place; many residents here head south in the winter. Among the country's lowest-populated counties, it has the highest percentage of residents born in a foreign country – presumably, many reliant on agricultural work. The Census reports that Clark has 18 non-farm businesses employing 83 people.

Aside from farm employment ad local government, the largest employer in the county may be the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, located a few miles north of Dubois but managing operations scattered around the Clark County area. Its job, simply, is to research sheep: Its website lists one goal as “an understanding of the interactions between sheep and the environments in which they are produced that can be used to improve sheep production systems and ensure the sustainability of grazing land ecosystems.” (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)

Boise downtown condos under development (Boise Statesman)
Idaho, congressional politics and minimum wage (IF Post Register)
Work training grants to firms that moved, closed? (IF Post Register)
2006 Nampa growth plan was over-optimistic (Nampa Press Tribune)
County budget hearings ahead (Nampa Press Tribune)
IU researchers look at Mars, Craters of Moon (Pocatello Journal)
Filer employees will get dog training (TF Times News)

Eugene, Lane Co at odd on sick leave law (Eugene Register Guard)
String of Medford fires grows to 17 (Medford Tribune)
Cover Oregon moving toward a revival (Portland Oregonian)
Heroin making a comeback (Salem Statesman Journal)

Four-way battle for Kitsap prosecutor (Bremerton Sun)
The cost of investigating juvenile detention (Everett Sun)
Benton Co says public safety sales tax needed (Kennewick Herald)
Wildfires still roaring (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Reviewing Inslee's water quality plan (Longview Daily News)
Amazon's new warehouse set for Sunday delivery (Seattle Times)
Reviewing challengers to Herrera-Beutler (Vancouver Columbian)
Candidates in 14th legislative district (Yakima Herald Republic)

Oregon’s timber harvest is, um, up

ridenbaugh Northwest

In 2013, Oregon’s timber harvest rose to 4.2 billion board feet, marking four consecutive years of increase from the recession low of 2.72 billion board feet in 2009. “This was the first harvest above four billion board feet in seven years,” said ODF principal economist Brandon Kaetzel, “and represents a 12 percent increase over the 2012 harvest of 3.75 billion board feet.”

Approximately 49 percent, or 30.2 million acres, of Oregon is forested. Federal forestlands account for 60 percent of these forestlands, industrial forestlands for 19 percent, family forestland owners own 15 percent, state-owned forests comprise three percent, and all other forestland owners (counties, Tribal, etc.), three percent.

Timber harvest increases can be attributed to a strong export market for Oregon logs in 2013, coupled with a domestic market recovery, particularly in housing. Whether this trend will continue for the 2014 harvest is uncertain due to housing forecasts being revised to lower numbers and a sudden cool-down in the export market that occurred during the second quarter of 2014.

The largest increase in harvest came from non-industrial private forestlands where harvests increased 61 percent to 511 million board feet from the 2012 total of 318 million board feet. “This is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as a result of a still strong export market in 2013,” Kaetzel said. The harvest on industrial forestlands rose from 2.56 billion board feet in 2012 to 2.75 billion board feet in 2013, for an eight percent increase in harvest.

Harvests on Native American forestlands increased five percent from 2012 to 2013, rising from 63 million board feet in 2012 to a total of 66 million board feet in 2013.

On Oregon’s west site, federal forestland posted modest increases in harvests; an 11.5 percent increase on Bureau of Land Management lands (for a 2013 total of 165 million board feet) and a six percent increase in harvests on U.S. Forest Service lands (totaling 392 million board feet in 2013). State public lands, which include Common School Fund and Board of Forestry forestlands, posted a slight increase from 251 to 252 million board feet.

Klamath County continued to lead in eastern Oregon with a 2013 harvest of 124 million board feet. Even with a diminished infrastructure, harvests on the east side rose approximately four percent due to increases on tribal, private, and other public (e.g. county) forestland. There was a marked decrease in federal timber harvest on the east side for 2013. In western Oregon, Lane County continued to lead with a 2013 harvest of 620 million board feet.

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)

Homeless numbers rise in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Boise Catholic bishop plans to resign (Boise Statesman)
Washington fires destroy houses (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Mixed job picture in Idaho for June (IF Post Register)
ID national parks, monuments draw $29 spending (IF Post Register)
No changes planned for guns on campus law (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fetal pain abortion law in court challenge (Pocatello Journal)
Preacher fire calms somewhat (TF Times News)

Coos Bay contractor accused of government fraud (Coos Bay World)
State GOP won't back House 9 candidate Runyan (Coos Bay World)
Owners of burned mill consider rebuilding (Eugene Register Guard)
Wildfires roar in Oregon (KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian, Ashland Tidings)
National Guard unit heads to Afghanistan (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Oregon governor candidates debate (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
Salem coffee shop shaken by social media reports (Salem Statesman Journal)

Heavy fires roar across state (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
New Hampton Inn opens at Everett (Everett Herald)
Research on Mt St Helens planned (Vancouver Columbian)

The nature of the debate

idaho RANDY

Debates are about perceptions, and the two gubernatorial candidates at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association debate hit in that hard enough. Both were a little hamstrung, but not barred from pitching their case.

The core case that Republican state Representative Dennis Richardson made against Governor John Kitzhaber was not one that this very conservative (in the conventional sense of the term) might have been expecting to make. It was not at all ideological: Instead, he described the governor as detached, disinterested, too often not showing up, “not tuned in to governing.”

“The first principle of leadership is showing up,” Richardson said near the start of the debate, and said near the end, “Our governor no longer has the passion to serve . . . The governor has been AWOL, and when he's here has been distracted.”

He did not make any strong suggestion of a basic, fundamental change in direction, limiting his areas of dispute to more specific ideas – Kitzhaber's handling of Cover Oregon or aspects of his support for the Columbian River Crossing bridge, for example, rather than the overall need for action on health care or bridge infrastructure. He almost seemed – whether it was the case or not – to have conceded those issues. On the subject of legalizing marijuana, he sidestepped completely, saying only that he would enforce whatever law Oregon voters passed; it fell to Kitzhaber to say that he would vote against the measure (and, like his opponent, try to learn from Washington's experience and enforce whatever the voters ordered).

He did not, as most Republicans would, blast away at the idea of big government, even to the extent that Kitzhaber's last opponent, Chris Dudley, did.
Richardson is known as a philosophically-oriented conservative, and won his seat in the legislature originally on that basis, but in a day of sharply-drawn philosophical lines, almost none emerged here. He seemed to stake his gubernatorial bid on the idea that Kitzhaber has been phoning in his job as governor, even pointing out more than once that he's been in Salem a minority of the time.
That may not be an easy sell, and Kitzhaber's de facto response was telling. He did not specifically say that he still had a passion for the job or worked hard at it, which would have sounded weak and would have simply repeated Richardson's argument.

Instead, he pointed to the things he has done, over a third term in which the length of large-scale accomplishments – from education reorganization, health care policy, PERS changes and many more items – is quite long. And he could, and did, point out that he had Republican support (including, in several key places, Richardson's) in doing those thing.

Kitzhaber's best piece was his closing, when he describes, after falling short on several objectives in the 2013 legislative session, he spent months traveling around the state crafting a legislative package which, in three days last fall, passed in spectacular fashion. It was an effective rebuttal to the notion of a passive or disinterested governor.
Both said they supported open primary elections, ad Richardson even said he saw a benefit in the tendency to press candidates on both sides toward the electoral middle.

In one place, Richardson called for a truly massive government project I've never heard anyone else propose: “A freeway from Coos Bay to Burns to Ontario.” (The price tag on that would be interesting to read.)

Interestingly, Richardson never bore in specifically on the matter of Kitzhaber's long tenure of what would 16 years in the state's top office if he wins. He suggested only that he would do it better.
With one major exception, one place where he specifically sounded more clearly like a conservative Republican.

That concerned federal lands, which amounted to 53% of Oregon. Kitzhaber, who dryly noted that “I don't think the feds are going to hand over control of federal lands,” spoke with some optimism about “federal forest management reform.” In this area, Richardson said he would press for exactly that, a turning over of federal lands to the state: With like-minded governors, he said, “I will lead that charge, I will be in Washington. D.C.”

That much formed a basis of a major policy difference between the candidates. How far it sells in the more populated sectors of Oregon may be another question – as is whether it constitutes a argument for firing John Kitzhaber.

Facts more than balance

rainey BARRETT


A small, informal discussion has started in some media circles - the first quiet conversations about a most basic journalistic tenet - balance. Balance in coverage of the news. Balance in representing all sides. Balance to assure fairness. The discussion is long overdue. It’ll call for judgments and - for that reason - there’ll probably never be a satisfactory solution.

There isn’t much left of the days of really responsible journalism - the professional output that was traditionally expected and - for the most part - traditionally produced. Given more than one side to any story, efforts were made to present all. That, of course, was in the days before “gotcha” journalism, reporters mixing opinion with reporting and the need to report otherwise worthless B.S. that fills too many pages and far too much airtime.

The most recent stimulus for this self-examination is climate change. Yep, simple as that. Or, if you will, as complex as that. With the preponderance of scientific evidence that such change is happening all around us and our world is already the poorer for it, some news organizations are asking how much time - how much ink - should be given those who deny both the science and the reality. What is the media responsibility for reporting the scientific facts accepted by the overwhelming majority of experts, then giving time and ink to the distinct minority denying reality? Denying fact?

It’s long been said the media should just report the facts and let those facts speak for themselves. I buy that. But when what’s on the front pages and what’s leading the nightly news contains no factual merit - climate change denials - irresponsible and baseless impeachment ranting - conspiracy claims without proof - phony stunts of one branch of government to sue another - what facts are being reported? Where does news start and “Entertainment Tonight” end?

Take the climate change story, for example. One very significant fact is that the chairman of the House Science Committee is a climate change denier and flat-earther who loudly proclaims his ignorance by telling all who’ll listen the earth is just 6,000 years old and man lived with dinosaurs. Why is that not reported with such a repetitive assault that he and half a dozen other “deniers” on that important panel are removed? This nation and the world needs strong, responsible and effective political leadership to deal with the terrible realities of climate change. But the power to do that is in the hands of idiots - a distinct and irresponsible minority - who’re blocking attempts to deal legitimately with facts that - ignored much longer - could end our world. Why? (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)

Boise library changes may be ahead (Boise Statesman)
Southern Idaho fires growing fast (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Commercial gas producers push ahead at Payette (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Phone scam imitates IRS (IF Post Register)
Problems come from Lewiston's Internet outage (Lewiston Tribune)
Republican Party fight hits courtroom (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello water, sewer rates rise (Pocatello Journal)
Magic Reservoir will shut off early (TF Times News)
Fire prevention methods to be discussed (TF Times News)

Springfield mill leveled by fire (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT basketball coach leaves in two years (KF Herald & News)
Fires grow, declared an emergency (KF Herald & News)
A look behind recent food stamp fraud (KF Herald & News)
Jackson library district raises taxes (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Battle over closed pot dispensary (Ashland Tidings)
Gas plant at Arlington will double capacity (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Looking at KF food stamp fraud (Portland Oregonian)
Massive cuts in Microsoft work force (Portland Oregonian)
The case of Casey Runyan and his rap sheet (Salem Statesman Journal)

Supreme Court: gun owner not liable for child shooting (Bremerton Sun)
Boat launch approved for Point No Point (Bremerton Sun)
Big wildlifes at large in eastern WA (Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Reviewing Snohomish County executive race (Everett Herald)
Just 8.65% in WA are medically uninsured (Kennewick Herald)
Pot shops searching for supply (Longview News)
Good grow season for lavender at peninsula (Port Angeles News)
Clallam Commission candidates at debate (Port Angeles News)
Massive cuts at Microsoft (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark job offer relating to charter? (Vancouver Columbian)

Addition by subtraction?

idaho RANDY

Microsoft stock jumped a couple of percentage points (some of that reflected in our stock listing this week) after the formal announcement of what had been teased for some weeks: Employee cuts, massive cuts, not just the largest round of cuts in the company's history but more than three times as large as any before. In the Puget Sound alone, 1,351 jobs will be going away, though that's less than a tenth of the overall. More than one out of eight Microsoft employees will lose their jobs.

A lot of them, it is true, will come from Nokia, the comm device company it recent absorbed. Even so, a lot of MS jobs will be gone.

Financial analysts were quick to call it good. The Motley fool said the corporation “trims some fat.” Others said it was a sign that the company is becoming leaner, more agile, likely to move in different directions and leave behind some non-productive older ones. And on top of that, it shows the new CEO Satya Nadella is taking charge. Really. (Heck of a way to demonstrate that you're really, truly, the big cheese.)

A number of analysts argued that the Puget Sounds could gain, by bringing so many talented people on the market, freed up to create new businesses of their own. Although: Doesn't that seem to run counter to the fat-trimming narrative?

We've seen this kind of argument and reaction in any number of businesses over the years. It's not that these arguments are totally illegitimate; Microsoft has gone steadily over the years, with few cutbacks or layoffs, and that can be a recipe for building in some deadwood over time.

But 14% of the company's employees? At a time when the company was reporting strong profits?

Nadella surely did want to make a dramatic statement, and he succeeded in that. But cuts of that size tend to more meataxe than surgical in character, and the company is likely to lose a good deal of key talent. As for the Puget Sound, there'll be recovery and many of the ousted employees doubtless will move on to new areas of productivity; but in the short term at least this isn't good news for the area, and the longer term is speculative.

As, on reflection, may be Microsoft's.

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)

Balukoff offers to match campaign donations (Boise Statesman)
Smoke in Idaho's skies from wildfires (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Bergdahl status report: inquiry underway (Boise Statesman)
Simpson pushes potatoes for food program (IF Post Register)
Simpson, others help keep Dubois station open (IF Post Register)
Flooding in some parts of Rexburg (IF Post Register)
Heavy work for Washington fire fighters (Lewiston Tribune)
Cut lines interrupts net, phones in Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Wheat crops looking good in this weather (Lewiston Tribune)
Heavy fires around the west (Moscow News)
WA state ballots available soon (Moscow News)
Pocatello road equipment at other cities (Pocatello Journal)

Wildfires roar on in Oregon, Northwest (KF Herald & News)
Considering partnership of SOU, Oregon Tech (KF Herald & News)
Fundraising deadline Dec 1 for civic stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland downtown kiosk will remain (Ashland Tidings)
SOU provost will retire (Ashland Tidings)
Medford still owns land under apartments (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton considers recovery center property (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Big fire near Heppner (Pendleton E Oregonian)
More Oregonians living in impoverished areas (Portland Oregonian)
ODOT manager files guilty plea on theft (Salem Statesman Journal)

Horseshoe Lake will be tested for norovirus (Bremerton Sun)
South Kitsap schools finances improving (Bremerton Sun)
Study shows foot ferry usage still large (Bremerton Sun)
Issues over Liias' two jobs for Senate and city (Everett Herald)
Arlington code going after drugs, panhandling (Everett Herald)
US House okays banking for pot businesses (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Inslee polling shows weak support (Olympian)
Obama will visit Seattle next week (Seattle Times)
Seattle home prices shooting high again (Seattle Times)
House seat in District 4 draws contest (Spokane Spokesman)
Big layoffs expected at Microsoft (Tacoma News Tribune)
Mass emergency declared over WA fires (Tacoma News Tribune)
Washington jobless rate falls again (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil shipping backer Tesoro funds GOP candidates (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark College may expand into Gorge (Vancouver Columbian)

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)

Warren Jones plans return from SLC hospital July 25 (Boise Statesman)
Big growing fire at Garden Valley (Boise Statesman)
Future of Dubois sheep station unclear (IF Post Register)
Nez Perce County runs out of transport funds (Lewiston Tribune)
Background check initiative does will in poll (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman plans expansion work on fire station (Moscow News)
CWI board okays guns policy for campuses (Nampa Press Tribune)
Motion Industries moves from Boise to Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Massive Preacher fire still growing (TF Times News)
Labrador raises most cash among ID congressionals (TF Times News)

Cascades fire still roaring (Eugene Register Guard)
Swastika graffiti near UO Jewish fraternity (Eugene Register Guard)
Moccasin Hill fire hit fast and hard (KF Herald & News)
More timber production in OR than since 2006 (KF Herald & News)
First step at Ashland toward ending pot ban (Ashland Tidings)
Heat persisting in southern Oregon (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Police linking string of arsons at Medford (Medford Tribune)
Transportation funding running dry (Pendleton E Oregonian)
More regs sought for oil rail transport (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hurrcane Creek fire in Wallowas (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon saw job loss in June (Portland Oregonian)
Top-two primary ballot issue qualifies (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everest College, seeking buyer, still has classes (Bremerton Sun)
Pot businesses start delivery service (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing Kitsap prosecutors race (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing releases plan for 777X interior (Everett Herald)
Longview police want to add to force (Longview News)
Tickets from school traffic cams rose in 2013 (Longview News)
Kelso approves rules for addict shelters (Longview News)
Repair needs cited for Thurston bridges (Olympian)
Olympic peninsula opens first pot shop (Port Angeles News)
Major construction on I-90 will big big-impact (Seattle Times)
Chopp opposed by socialist candidate (Seattle Times)
Spokane commission candidate in review (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma charter amendments set for ballot (Tacoma News Tribune)
Fires roaring in central WA (Yakima Herald Republic)
Reviewing Yakima sheriff's race (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima council may slice utility tax (Yakima Herald Republic)

A congressional success story

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Congress is doing a great job, and this is not a joke. Sure, there’s a lot of gridlock in Washington and on many issues, Congress can’t seem to agree on the color of the sky, let alone reach agreement on anything of substance.

But when it comes to diabetes awareness, and appropriating funds to cover research and prevention programs, it’s a different story. Funding for diabetes research, which was about $320 million in 1997, is now in the billions of dollars.

Support of this nature is significant to me, because I’ve had diabetes for more than 15 years and have experienced many of the complications. If we do nothing, it’s projected that one in three people will have diabetes by 2050. For a society, that is unacceptable.

None of this is lost on the members of Congress – specifically, three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson clearly “get it” on this issue. They are not working alone; 345 House members and 42 senators are members of diabetes caucuses. They have a deep understanding of the issue and the role Congress can play in fighting this disease.

“I’m no fan of federal spending, or creating a bigger government, but there is an appropriate role when it comes to certain expenditures,” Risch said. The National Institute of Health is one of those areas in which government does have a proper funding role.

“I’m a big fan of the NIH,” Risch said. “They perform miracles – arresting cancer on kids who are living normal and productive lives. Twenty-five years ago, or even 20 years ago, they were destined to die at an early age.” (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)

Andrus recovering from lung tumor operation (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Bergdahl not yet seen parents (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
New emergency dispatch center planned for Ada (Boise Statesman)
Nez Perce-Clearwater forest plan released (Lewiston Tribune)
Possible roundabouts in Asotin road plans (Lewiston Tribune)
Asotin County considers possible new sheriffs (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow budget proposed for next year (Moscow News)
New mayor Nathan Leigh chosen at Parma (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell I-84 work lacks funds until 2019 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Heavy wildfires in southern Idaho (Boise Statesman, Pocatello Journal)
Reconstruction plans for downtown Twin Falls (TF Times News)

Fires spreading around region (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Drawings of a new Eugene city hall shown (Eugene Register Guard)
Gradual change to Oregon place names (KF Herald & News)
Possible record high temp at Medford (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Ashland looks at film permit fees (Ashland Tidings)
Background on oil train shipping (Portland Oregonian)
OR, WA lead in traffic death declines (Portland Oregonian)
Many state voter profiles are in error (Salem Statesman Journal)

Tulalips using federal domestic violence program (Everett Herald)
High temperatures continuing (Spokane Spokesman, Kennewick Herald)
Moses Lake will house Mitsibishi test site (Kennewick Herald)
Many workplaces still critical of pot (Longview News)
Former St. John hospital leader dies (Longview News)
Reviewing Clallam air quality (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing Airbus v Boeing (Seattle Times)
County treasurer race turns on finance experience (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver maneuvers on oil trains (Vancouver Columbian)
Columbia Land Trust restoring 9,000 acres (Vancouver Columbian)
Campaigns for Yakima Co clerk (Yakima Herald Republic)
State seeks local funds for '13 firefighting (Yakima Herald Republic)