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Posts published in July 2014

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

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)

Two of one party in November?

harris ROBERT


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.

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)

Investigation into bulldozer operator death (Boise Statesman)
Adds the words protesters go to court (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Sockeye salmon recovery plan released (Lewiston Tribune)
Nampa turns down 4-plexes proposal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell wants bigger property tax slice (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fires in Idaho easing office (Pocatello Journal)
CNN suing Blaine Co over Bergdahl records (TF Times News)
Idaho gets No Child waiver extension (TF Times News)
Gas prices in Idaho rising (TF Times News)

Lane Co: Eugene can't dictate on sick leave (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield mill may not rise again for 2 years (Eugene Register Guard)
Odell Lake has toxic algae bloom (KF Herald & News)
Vic Atiyeh remembered (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tidings, Portland E regonian, Ashland Tidings)
Lightning storms may hit area (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Report on Oregon kids' health, poverty (Portland Oregonian)

Contest in 38th House seat (Bremerton Sun)
Hoover Motors at Bremerton plans closure (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish finance director job long vacant (Everett Herald)
Inslee restricts most burning outdoors (Kennewick Herald)
Carlton complex biggest fire ever in WA (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman,, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Kalama grain terminal expansion nearly done (Longview News)
Olympic National Parks develops goat plan (Port Angeles News)
I-90 traffic hit again with Obama visit (Seattle Times)
Tearing down Spokane downtown fountain (Spokane Spokesman)
4th US House seat up for grabs (Spokane Spokesman)
Pot shipments slow in wildfire regions (Vancouver Columbian)
Dam planners try new type of fish passage (Yakima Herald Republic)

Campaigning on your dime

carlson CHRIS


Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter brought his “dog and pony” show called Capital For A Day to St. Maries on July 21st. My, oh my, how it has changed since Governor Cecil D. Andrus, who initiated the program in 1973, and I walked the streets of the temporary “capital” (usually a county seat).

No entourage. No security detail. No advance team. No “show and tell.” No setting up a town hall meeting and expecting the citizens to come to us.

Nope. Just Cece and I, popping in and out of various businesses on Main Street, chatting with the owner and asking if they were having any difficult issues with any facet of state government. The day’s agenda usually included a noon speech at a Rotary or a Kiwanis Club and in the afternoon drop by visits to the local paper and other media to report on what he was hearing.

My role was to take notes, handle any media that might want to tag along and pass out the “Capital for A Day” post cards wherein folks could write a brief description of their issue and their contact info.

When we got back to Boise the governor would deal the cards out to appropriate staff with instructions to have an interim report back to the constituent within two weeks and a definitive answer within four weeks.

There was another significant difference. Once the Republicans selected their nominee to challenge Andrus in the August primary, the governor suspended the program.

“Butch” should take note and follow the Andrus lead. No matter how one slices it, or rationalizes it, to continue Capital For A Day in an election year after your opponent is selected is to have the taxpayers underwriting a campaign-like endeavor.

It's a clear "conflict of interest" and a clear illegal contribution to the governor's re-election effort by the taxpayer. Frankly, I'm amazed that no one has called Governor Otter out on this matter. State senator Russ Fulcher from Meridian should have confronted Governor otter on this in his closely contested primary challenge. (more…)

In the Briefings

lookout view

Taken from Scott Mountain Lookout, 11 miles to the north and with a straight view towards the fires. It was taken at 5 PM on July 18. Wash Fire is the smoke on left, Grimes Fire is the smoke on right. (photo/Boise National Forest)

Fire became the big story of the week all over the northwest (at least, from the Cascades east). The fire sizes were not notably large – yet – but a number of them were aggressive, and at least one ravaged several human settlements. This is an early point in the year for this sort thing; it portends a rough season ahead.

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)

ParkCenter Mall turns into charter school (Boise Statesman)
Winchester well tried to help city (Lewiston Tribune)
Mars research at Craters of the Moon (TF Times News)

ODOT looks at Medford-Phoenix bike lands (Ashland Tidings)
Cluster hiring affects OSU rankings (Eugene Register Guard)
Former Governor Atiyah diies (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal)

Battle over Senate seat in 35th (Bremerton Sun)
State-county commission will review Oso slide (Everett Herald)
Former judge CC Bridgewater dead (Longview News)
Fish advocates will sue over weir (Port Angeles News)
WA wildfire fights still underway (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman)
Battle in 3rd US House district (Vancouver Columbian)
Growing numbers of motorcycle crashes (Vancouver Columbian)

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.