Writings and observations

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)

Scalia touts SRBA signing (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Growing student cohort in West Ada (Boise Statesman)
Lewiston increases property taxes 3.25% (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow considers single-stream recycling (Moscow News)
Canyon has low pay in law enforcement (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI closing in on accreditation (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell may build new fire station (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello reports wettest August since 1968 (Pocatello Journal)
Ahead to new water management issues (TF Times News)
Women outvoting men in Idaho (TF Times News)

Oregon State Bend campus has budget issues (Corvallis Gazette)
More detail about Eugene Whole Foods store (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield celebrates Simpsons connection (Eugene Register Guard)
Bond, tuition rise possible at Klamath college (KF Herald & News)
Amy’s kitchen manufacturer growing at White City (Medford Tribune)
Walden urges new Blue Mountain forest map (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hermiston looks at natural gas utility (Pendleton E Oregonian)

Bremerton looks at roadway bike boxes (Bremerton Sun)
Trails at Silverton retail center work starts (Bremerton Sun)
Study on pot praises WA slow rollout (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
New takes on Kennewick Man (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
More harassment suits at Clatskanie PUD (Longview News)
Clallam County divided on pot regulations (Port Angeles News)
Amazon in Europe – and Luxembourg (Seattle Times)
Costs in insurance exchanges fixes (Spokane Spokesman)
Karen Stratton named to Spokane council (Spokane Spokesman)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

I am a University of Idaho alum who enjoys following Boise State sports. My golf clubs have “Vandal” headcovers and occasionally I’ll wear a “Bronco” shirt on the course – just to mess with people’s minds and give myself a mental edge. Of course, when I hit a series of errant shots and missed putts, the edge is gone and I become this crazy old guy with a Bronco shirt and Vandal headcovers.

The point I try to make is there is no rivalry. The football rivalry was cooking pretty well for three decades, but ended when Boise State decided to go big time. So, let’s realize that Idaho needs both schools – the land grant university in Moscow and the urban-based university in Boise – to go anywhere with higher education. Idaho also needs strong systems at Idaho State and Lewis-Clark State College to provide higher education opportunities to Idahoans.

As Mike Rush, the executive director of the State Board of Education, tells me – and he’s absolutely correct – we need more opportunities for higher education, not fewer. A strong higher education system is crucial for pulling Idaho out of the dumps in terms of wages.

Now, if Rush can only convince the politicians. Higher education should be a bellwether issue in political campaigns, but it isn’t. Candidates for state offices will talk plenty about the public schools, because Idaho has a constitutional requirement to provide a public education for children. But there is no such requirement for higher education.

“That, combined with the fact that higher education has other sources of funding, has made higher education across the nation a tempting target for balancing the budget,” Rush said.

The decrease in state support for higher education has caused sharp increases in fee and tuition costs. And while higher education is still a bargain in Idaho, compared to other states, it has priced many Idahoans out of the market – to the detriment of the economy.

“We can’t keep going in this direction,” Rush said. “If we keep withdrawing support, our higher education system simply will not be able to deliver the punch that we need to drive our economy for the next 30 years.”

Rush says numerous studies about the relationship between post-secondary education and economic prosperity are clear. “You’ve got to get more people with post-secondary experience,” he said. “That may be a four-year degree, or that may be a two-year degree. Or, maybe it’s an industry certificate that proves additional and specific skills.”

The bottom line is more years of a post-secondary education equal higher salaries. The quality of a higher education system so often is a make-it, or break-it factor for providing businesses and industries that pay higher salaries. Boise State, for example, has upgraded its computer science offerings at the request of high-tech industries. The College of Southern Idaho played an instrumental role in providing a workforce for the Chobani Yogurt Factory in Twin Falls.

Community colleges are designed to provide a relatively quick source of training while higher education focuses more on the long-term needs. “I think higher education gets it, although it can always be better,” Rush said.

Working four years as communications adviser with Idaho House Republicans, I did not sense an appreciation of the value for higher education. Some of the questions I heard asked: Why do we need three universities and, especially, a four-year school in Lewiston? Why do we need four presidents and four layers of administration? Could the state save money by closing down one or two universities?

“I see no good argument that suggests we have too much capacity in higher education,” Rush said. “I think it’s clear we don’t have enough capacity.”
At 42 percent, Idaho is among the lowest in the nation as far as high school students going on to college. Rush would like to see the percentage closer to 60 percent to fit today’s needs. By 2018, the percentage needs to be 68 percent.

But the numbers won’t go up if costs for students continue to rise and state support continues to fall. And the state support will not increase significantly until the governor and Legislature make it a priority.

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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)

Mental health plan payments in disarray (Boise Statesman)
Plans for a Sportsplex Idaho at Meridian (Boise Statesman)
Memorial for former Girtman hospital exec (Moscow News)
Man sentenced to 7th DUI (Nampa Press Tribune)
Legislators reviewing land endowment (Nampa Press Tribune)
Preparing for re-enrollment in Obamacare (TF Times News)
Students will take Common Core test (TF Times News)

Profiling new Benton Co elections chief (Corvallis Gazette)
OU research on genetics and health (Eugene Register Guard)
Dispute over police shooting in Medford (Medford Tribune)
Plans for tiny houses for homeless people (Portland Oregonian)
Salem downtown parking free but scarce (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard pot shop starting slow (Bremerton Sun)
Small tracts can be forest for tax purposes (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish has lowest voter turnout in state (Everett Herald)
Some schools tagged as failing (Everett Herald)
Medical pot grown on Olymic peninsula (Port Angeles News)
To save a river-bank chalet, using mules (Port Angeles News)
Amazon confronts Europe, part 2 (Seattle Times)
Driscoll of Mars Hill takes leave (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane area farmers launch e-cooperative (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacomans consider zoned booze ban (Tacoma News Tribune)
Homeless ordered to leave Share site (Vancouver Columbian)
Some Yakima basin waters are overheated (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

One of the fastest places in the world to quickly learn new life skills is in the middle of a large street demonstration or riot. Pure fact from someone who’s “been there, done that.” Watching the news out of Ferguson, Missouri, brings it all back.

It’s also recreated that eerie feeling of being lost in the crowd – finding yourself unable to control your own direction of motion – scared – trying to get your bearings. And the smells. Lots and lots of unforgettable smells.

There are really just two kinds of street demonstrations. One is focused, calm, centered, deliberate. Peaceful. Several of those I experienced as a reporter at anti-war gatherings of several hundred thousand in Washington D.C., in the late ‘60’s – early ‘70’s. Except for twice being ridden to the ground by mounted National Park Service cops, those gatherings fit that description.

The other type was brought sharply watching events in Ferguson. Crowded – scared – charging cops – tear gas – arrests – walking wounded – strangers trying to help strangers. I got into several of those, especially around the DuPont Circle area of D.C. As in Ferguson, cops could get aggressive and out-of-hand.

All those years ago, media people in D.C. were issued I.D. badges to be worn on a chain around the neck – about the size of a postcard, orange and black with our pictures in the middle. Supposed to keep us safe and free from arrest as opposed to media experiences in Ferguson – where they also have “credentials.” Except they were actually used by cops to target the media with tear gas canisters and to get you arrested, hauled off to busses and taken to RFK Stadium for processing. At that time – and maybe even now – wearing your name tag simply meant this was your first street riot. We been-there-before guys kept them in our pockets.

One of the best descriptions of feelings in a riot situation with thousands of people, tear gas, cops, police dogs and panic is “alone in a crowd.” From the second it starts, people have a cattle-like urge to run some direction. If you came with a friend, most likely you are quickly separated. You find yourself breathing gas, feeling your skin burn, choking, eyes running and that terrible taste in your mouth before you can cover your face. You are instantly disoriented. One experience like that will NOT be forgotten. Nor the sights and sound. And that smell.

I’m sure many of the unarmed demonstrators in Ferguson would attest to these descriptions. The intervening 44 years or so between my experiences and theirs haven’t brought much change. People – mostly honest folk feeling deeply about a grievance – still take to the streets. The herd-like stampede can still start at any second for any reason. Cops are still armed – though better now and able to wound or kill more people more quickly. No amount of intervening time has made the effects of tear gas any less painful.

My generation grew up with strong parental admonitions to “respect police” and even help them when we could. I believed that and tried to teach my own offspring the same. As a young reporter, I spent a lot of time on the “cop beat,” riding with ‘em at all hours. I saw a lot of things they were confronted with that most folks don’t hear about. I witnessed lightning-quick decisions – nearly all right decisions. I knew a lot of good cops. And a few – very few – not good.

Despite that exposure and years of respect for law enforcement, I’ve never seen such an out-of-control, heavily armed and dangerous situation as we’ve seen in Ferguson. Not just once or twice. But most nights. There can’t be any well-trained supervisory structure or it wouldn’t be repeated so damned many times. Capt. Johnson of the Missouri State Police seems to be a helluva spokesman. But even his people seem overly aggressive and quick to strike out. And the presence of the equally well-armed national guard is completely unjustified. Very bad decision.

I know there are provocateurs in the crowds. Sustained demonstrations anywhere always draw the bastards out. But after a confrontation or two, they can be identified and arrested. Maybe more plainclothes cops are needed in the crowd to find ‘em and weed ‘em out. There’s no damned reason for the night-after-night violent police reaction we’ve witnessed to legitimate crowds of earnest and peaceful folks gathered in the streets. Boot the troublemakers. Jail ‘em.

I tell of these demonstration experiences and of the uncalled for response by poorly trained law enforcement for one reason. To describe why – after the first confrontation – I believe things have gone so badly. No matter how innocent the demonstrator – no matter how willing to be directed by responsible authority – no matter how legitimate the initial grievance – once faced with heavily armed and irresponsibly aggressive cops using tear gas and abusing their authority, after the first night the protest swings from the original reason for the demonstration and becomes an us-versus-them situation for most participants from then on. Almost impossible to control.

Every night since the first one, that’s what we’ve seen on the streets of Ferguson. No longer outrage over the killing of one black teen for many. No longer the emotions such a violent act would have on citizens. After the first night, its been us-versus-them. More a protest of the heavy-handed authority and badly mishandled response. Rocks, bottles and bricks don’t come from a peaceful assembly of honestly aggrieved people supporting their own impassioned feelings.

I’ve got two scars – some 44 years old – reminding me of all that every day.

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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)

Snake River Adjudication comes to completion (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Many Priest lake lessees walk away (Boise Statesman)
Concerns about polling places in school election (Boise Statesman)
IF police violated high-speed chase police (IF Post Register)
School elections just ahead (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho behind with post-secondary grads (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon animal shelter holds town hall (Nampa Press Tribune)
Grizzly bears returning in Yellowstone (Pocatello Journal)
Heavy nitrate deposits in Magic Valley ground (TF Times News)
Probation and court fees hit poor harder (TF Times News)

Reviewing Lane County’s miltary-based equipment (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Tribes review 30 years of recognition (KF Herald & News)
What should Medford do if pot initiative passes? (Medford Tribune)
A possible initiative issues: pot and teens (Portland Oregonian)
Rare Rubens painting coming to Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Silverdale gets new theatre (Bremerton Sun)
Oso residents getting payment for damage (Everett Herald)
State’s Cowlitz water usage plans under debate (Longview News)
Drug court analysis shows successes (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles downtown business, city at odds (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing Amazon’s relationship with Europe (Seattle Times)
Gas prices in WA high despite cheap oil (Seattle Times)
State goes after Stevens County wolves (Spokane Spokesman)
What are results of police shooting inquiries? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Many McNeil Island sex offenders stay at Pierce (Tacoma News Tribune)
New HQ planned for Clark sheriff’s office (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Thirty years ago Idaho was locked in a political civil war. The stakes could not have been higher: Water, and who got to control Idaho’s.

I remember the politics of that season, when what mattered was less budget and taxes, or even whether you were a Republican or Democrat. The big deal was about whether you were for or against subordination.

This now obscure debate, which had to do with the water rights held by Idaho Power Company, is still pertinent. It is so much so that it can be said to be drawing to a conclusion, for the time being at least, only this month, with the August 25 celebration of the conclusion of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. The SRBA is the massive yet surgically precise instrument by which that battle over a few specific water rights got hammered into shape, through the settling of everybody’s.

For many decades, the water flowing down the Snake River has been heavily used. Much of it has been used by irrigators, and Idaho Power Company long has had hydropower rights which entail not diversion of water from the river but rather an assurance that a certain amount will flow down the river past its various dams, especially the oldest, Swan Falls, south of Boise. This could conflict with the water used by irrigators and others, but most people in Idaho thought that Idaho Power had long ago given up its first-in-time priority so that irrigators had first call on it. A 1982 Idaho Supreme Court decision on the rights at Swan Falls said that in fact Idaho Power had the senior rights. Soon after, Idaho Power sued about 7,500 farm water users, demanding they quit using water Idaho Power claimed to power its dams. The war was on.

As everyone quickly realized, there was no sensible winner-take-all answer to this. If Idaho Power prevailed absolutely (as it mostly did in the short run), massive reaches of Idaho agriculture, and large chunks of Idaho’s economy, could be ruined. But Idaho Power couldn’t simply give in, either; it had responsibilities to stockholders, and a need to supply the state with cheap power. A wrecked Idaho Power was not in the state’s interest either.

Still, Idahoans swiftly picked sides. A majority seemed to favor “subordination” – that is, a legal determination that Idaho Power’s rights would be secondary to those of many of the irrigators.
But Idaho Power had its defenders, too, and long-standing deep political clout in the state. The state’s politicians in both parties were deeply split. Attorney General Jim Jones, one of the leading subordinationists, recruited Republican primary election challengers to several of the key pro-Idaho Power legislators, and knocked out a couple of them.

The subordination war went on for about a year and a half. It was resolved after months of closed-door meetings in which Jones, Idaho Power CEO Jim Bruce, and Governor John Evans and their surrogate negotiators worked out a complex settlement. Its essential pieces, they decided, has to include a complete accounting of who held rights to what water in the whole Snake River basin. An adjudication, in other words.

It has taken a long time, and along the way some of the premises of the original settlement have been challenged anew. But now, 30 years after that big political battle, water rights in the Snake River Basin essentially are settled.

Such efforts in many states have foundered, never reaching completion, stuck for a whole complex of reasons.

Against all the odds, in Idaho it got done. There’s some cause for celebration.

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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)

Boise, ACHD bike lane battle continues (Boise Statesman)
Travelers with pot taking risks in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
August was rainy in eastern Idaho (IF Post Register)
Video cams in Pullman cut down crime (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman classrooms packed full (Moscow News)
McMorris Rodgers on minimum wage debate (Moscow News)
Library square tenants expressing interest (Nampa Press Tribune)
Wheat and barley hit hard by rains (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello’s south valley connector edges ahead (Pocatello Journal)

Debate over drone at Springfield fire (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford considers gifted tract for new school (Medford Tribune)
Deer virus may be spreading (Medford Tribune)
Oregon files suit against Oracle (Portland Oregoian, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton grain growers close at Hermiston (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Next state park set north of Pacific City (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton chief urges no early AM malt liquor sales (Bremerton Sun)
First Kitsap pot shop set for opening (Bremerton Sun)
More oil and coal trains called ‘crisis’ (Everett Herald)
Ferry conditions create worries (Everett Herald, Kitsap Sun)
Yakima ordered to re-organize city elections (Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
State looks for places for mentally ill (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Methow Valley hit hard by flash floods (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian)
Seattle zoo’s African elephat dies (Seattle Times)
Fred Mayer may worsen Gig Harbor traffic (Tacoma News Tribune)
Oil transfer project could have $2b effect (Vancouver Columbian)
Another wildfire in Yakima valley (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

clearwatercoveh

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

Last week we listed the county breakdown of recipients of surplus equipment from the Department of Defense – much of which, in widespread complaint, has contributed to a militarization of police forces around the country.

Not all of that equipment, however, has such daunting or military-style uses, and a good deal of what’s included in various categories – such as armored vehicles – is more everyday than the category name might suggest. Chris Goetz, sheriff at Clearwater County in Idaho, wrote in to describe how the DOD equipment his small county has received is being used there.

After reading this week’s Idaho Weekly Briefing I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the article about the militarization of local law enforcement.

The recent events in Ferguson Missouri has put a spotlight on only one part of the program that allows local law enforcement to receive equipment from the federal government. I would like to start with the items specifically list on the NY Times map.

For Clearwater County, Idaho it shows that we received two armored vehicles and four assault rifles. So the first question would be why would Clearwater County need two armored vehicles?

The answer is that the two vehicles that they are talking about are not armored at all. They are two humvees (picture attached) with vinyl doors and a vinyl top which has a hard time keeping a hard rain out let alone bullets. We requested and received these vehicles for use during search and rescue operations. Flooding, landslides and wildfires are thing that we have to deal with at some level every year and these vehicles are a great asset during these events due to the ability to cross small land slides and cross flooded areas that normal vehicles can not handle.

The next question would be, why not use the National Guard during these emergencies? We have tried to use them in the past and it is extremely difficult and expensive to use the National Guard and usually not the best use of resources. Obviously when there is an event like Katrina in New Orleans the event is to large for any local agency to handle and outside resources are needed but when the event is small enough to be handled by local and neighboring agencies why not allow us to have the resources to take care of the event. Because these humvees are not armored the military decided that they no longer had a use for them but they have been a great benefit to us.

The next item are the assault rifles (picture attached). We have four M14, .308 rifles that when you look at the picture is not what most people think of as an assault rifle. You can debate if local law enforcement needs to get this kind of rifle or not from the military. I think the bigger question would be; If local law enforcement did not get these kinds of rifles from the military would they have them or not? I think the answer would be that they would have rifles even if they were not available from the military. For Clearwater County everyone of our deputies are issued a patrol rifle that was purchased by the County. The rifles that we got from the military have already been paid for by the tax payers and were sitting in storage.

We have received other equipment from the military but because it is not an assault rifle or amored vehicle does not get the same attention. Other items that we have received include, generators, sleeping bags, packs, sleeping mats, cold weather jackets, water pumps, trailers, atv’s and a couple pickup trucks. Once again these items are primarily used for natural disasters and search and rescue operations.

clearwatercogun

It appears to me that the story is trying to be spun to show that law enforcement in America is out of control and using weapons and tactics that should only be used on the battle field. This maybe the case in a very few isolated incidents but from my perspective is no where near the norm. When you look at Ferguson, Missouri they claim that the police were acting like the military and then they bring in the military to try and get things under control.

When we talk about some of these military types of equipment and weapons that are available to local law enforcement the questions that come to me are:

1. Would local law enforcement have the weapons or equipment if it was not available from the military?

2. How is this equipment being used and why?

3. If local law enforcement is going to have this type of equipment even if it was not available from the military doesn’t it make more sense to use the equipment that the tax payer has already bought instead of buying it again?

I believe that the best law enforcement is local and specifically the Elected Sheriff’s Office. Yes I am bias being a Sheriff but I have to answer directly to the people of the County. If I am operating in a way that the voters don’t like or acquiring equipment that they don’t think I need they have the ability to make a change. The same is not true when you use the State Police or the Military.

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Idaho Reading

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

One place to start in the discussion of a Seattle Times editorial about a particular tax is to point out that it doesn’t exist.

That is to say, the “death tax” – of which there isn’t one, at any event. What the paper was referring to, in an August 14 editorial, was the estate tax (which it correctly referred to in other locations). The trigger for the editorial was a story, run a few days earlier, about the last family farm located in Issaquah, and how it is being liquidated for sale to become (apparently) a subdivision.

“Twelve acres of open space farmed by a single family since 1883 will soon become a subdivision,” the paper said. “The McBride case ought to show us conventional thinking is wrong — the death tax really isn’t a whack on the wealthy.”

A pile of comments on the editorial argued that it was at best misleading. The comprehensive came comes from the blogger David Goldstein, who ran off a string of facts that effectively wiped out the editorial’s reasoning.

He pointed out that “Working family farms are entirely exempt from the Washington’s estate tax, while 99.4% of family farms pay no federal estate tax at all; the number of family farms liquidated to pay the federal estate tax is estimated near zero.” The estate at Issaquah is too small to qualify for estate taxation (the federal estate tax kicks in at $5.25 million, and the property was sold for $4.5 million), and its owner hasn’t even died yet. And, noted, Washington state’s estate tax law, which the paper described as “especially punitive,” actually “exempts the value of working farms entirely. All of it.”

The McBride family did, however, say taxes were an important reason they sold. But according to the Issaquah Press, the taxes that were becoming hard to bear were not estate but rather property taxes.
Goldstein: “So lacking an actual example of a family farm or small business being liquidated to pay off the estate tax, the Seattle Times had to cook one up.”

There hasn’t been a substantive response yet from the Times. Or even a bit of embarrassment over using the misleading “death tax” terminology. If we see one, we’ll include it in this space.

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Washington Washington 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)

Lots of students shift from Concordia to UI (Boise Statesman)
Profiling Stallings and his House campaign (IF Post Register)
Power blackout at IF energy conference (IF Post Register)
Bergdahl exchange broke several laws (IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Rural areas get new address signs (Moscow News)

Feds considering grizzly restoration in NW (Eugene Register Guard)
Graduations start at Eugene Mission (Eugene Register Guard)
OR law enforcement got $10m in defense goods (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Filings for KF city council (KF Herald & News)
Oregon Cabaret Theatre continues (Medford Tribune)
Feds questioning some CCOs spending (Portland Oregonian)
State supreme court offering animal protection (Portland Oregonian)

Regence and Harrison not contracting, yet (Bremerton Sun)
Fundraising for Oso nearing end (Everett Herald)
State gives convicts more access to DNA (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
Army Corps working on Toutle flooding plan (Longview News)
Congress still working on Wild Olympics bill (Port Angeles News)
Grizzlies may come back to North Cascades (Seattle Times)
Spokane urging smaller houses, lots (Spokane Spokesman)
Linear microchips may growth rapidy (Vancouver Columbian)
Supreme Court rejects state on health benefits (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot prices top another high at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Looking at the local pot stores (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take