Writings and observations


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)

Numbers of white sturgeon hold at about 4k (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston trying to block pot sales (Lewiston Tribune)
Thunderstorms headed to inland northwest (Lewiston Tribune)
Panhandle sees megaload passage (Moscow News, Sandpoint Bee)
Moscow considering downtown public rest rooms (Moscow News)
Fiscally poor districts challenged on levies (Nampa Press Tribune)
Simplot’s Nampa plant has a few more months (Nampa Press Tribune)
Portneuf medical center seeks trauma ruling (Pocatello Journal)
Environment battle continues on AF plant plan (Pocatello Journal)
Big Ed Beckley cancels jummp of canyon (TF Times News)

New Oregon wildfires expected (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
KF trying to attract Burning Man visitors (KF Herald & News)
Independent running in Jackson Co race (Ashland Tidings)
Storms starts fire, kills fire (Medford Tribune)
Polling shows OR democrats ahead (Pendleton E Oregonian)
DuPont Pioneer research moves at Hermiston (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Intel signs long-term deal for Oregon base (Portland Oregonian)
Paper records hurting prison inmate health (Portland Oregonian)

Oso area gets $150k study (Everett Herald)
More storms, fires may hit area (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Seattle utility rates will rise (Seattle Times)
Wahougal won’t buy swimming hole (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


Senator Jim Risch, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, and Representative Raul Labrador all remain favorites to win re-election given the heavy Republican bent of the Idaho electorate. Risch and Otter though are showing evidence of an ability to lose their race.

Though recent polling shows each with a double-digit lead, the polls also indicate the proverbial mile wide but inch deep support. A Risch upset would be especially surprising whereas few would be surprised if Governor Otter’s bid for a third term was rejected by an electorate that recognizes he has done virtually nothing to warrant it.

Risch’s problem remains his arrogance and, candidly, his laziness. He takes for granted that he will be re-elected, is proud of his ranking as the most conservative senator by virtue of voting no on almost everything¸ and has never really repudiated remarks he made to the Idaho Statesman editorial board regarding how easy the job of senator is because nothing gets done due to partisanship paralyzing everything. Therefore one can just coast along and he clearly is coasting.

Even supporters and former staffers have been heard expressing their disappointment in the “coasting” senator. They cannot help contrasting his energetic seven months as governor when he seemed to be eveywhere pushing his agenda that included unfortunately the switch away from the property tax and to the sales tax.

Not only did this hit the middle class hard, it provided unneeded relief for large property owners, including Risch, who failed to disclose to anyone that he would pernonally benefit from this switch by an admittedly modest $4500. His failure to be transparent indicates at a minimum that he is ethically challenged, not to mention that it also resulted in further erosion of state support for public education by a cool $50 million.

Risch claimed that it would be revenue neutral, but proved to be wrong.

One hears also frequent complaints from many who try to get an audience with the Senator, often in D.C. Despite what office loyalists say, the fact is he cancels out meetings on a whim, often shows up at hearings late and ill-prepared, so much so he ends up not asking any questions of witnesses’ or, if he does, they are banal to say the least.

Or just flat wrong on the facts as when he said to one witness that the United State had spent and lost billions of dollar in aid to Iran. Dead wrong, and he knows better, but has he admitted the error? Nope.

Risch’s other problem is the Democrats found a quality challenger in former Security and Exchange attorney, Nels Mitchell. A graduate of Boise High, where he was student body president and a graduate of Columbia, Mitchell is starting to hit his stride in his long-shot bid to upset Risch.

As people get to know him, in contrast to Risch, they like him. He would make a fine senator, and while some criticize him for saying he would only serve one term, he makes a very persuasive case that he wants to spend all his time working to solve constituent issues and not locked in some party war room dialing for dollars.

Don’t write Mitchell off just yet. Risch could easily lose his well-known temper and say something he would like to call back.

Otter’smost recent stumble involved his clear demagouging the issue of bringing illegal immigrint children into Idaho. Before the issue was even raised he shot off letters to three cabinet agenies saying Idaho did not want to receive any.

He subsequently learned that several refugee children had already qualified to come to receptive homes in Idaho. His “block the border” stance is in marked contrast to current Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and former three term Washington Governor Dan Evans, both of whom said these children should be embraced. Otter’s heartless stand did him no credit.

As to Congressman Labrador, his stumble does not threaten re-election but it should be noted. With all the buzz around his hiring of Statesman ace political reporter Dan Popkey, no pundits have mentioned that there is a sizable contingent of Republicans who still believe Popkey did a hatchet job on Senator Larry Craig which ultimately led to his feeling forced to decide not to run for re-election.

You can bet that Labrador’s hiring of Popkey has not endeared him at all to these loyalists.

The bottom line remains never underestimate the ability of front-runners to stumble and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Snag Canyon
The Snag Canyon fire started on the afternoon of Saturday, August 2. The fire was ignited by lightning. It is currently estimated at 8,842 acres and is 25% contained. Despite Red Flag Warnings for high winds, crews were able to hold the fire and make good progress on containment lines.. (photo/Inciweb)


Washington’s primary election (see the results spread over several pages in this issue) yielded little by way of shockers, but plenty of general interest. Such as a first, in pitting two Republicans against each other in a congressional district (the 4th). And a series of prospectively hotly contested state Senate races.

Politics in Oregon seem fairly static – at least, that’s what you draw from the SurveyUSA report appearing in the politics section. It seems to suggest that what you think will happen (based on past experience), probably will be happening, this year, again.

Water would seem to be just the solution for a state wracked by wildfires. And so it was last week, to a point. But recent flash flooding now has deluged – in sudden surprises – Pocatello and Twin Falls, and wiped out stretches of some key backcountry roads. Looking ahead for the next week: More hot and dry (and fire conditions?).

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

St Lukes seeks $180 building loan (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Aspen trees diminishing around west (Boise Statesman)
WSU scientists launch Phytelligence company (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing Canyon Co jail overcrowding (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa schools consider new charter school (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho’s standard of living falls behind (TF Times News)

Lane County, Trillium back health projects (Eugene Register Guard)
Bear Creek can now support steelhead (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Examining Portland school chief’s big raise (Portland Oregonian)
Salem may plant new parking meters near capitol (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap car tabs will be used for road projects (Bremerton Sun)
Edible pot coming to stores before long (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT


The most fundamental structures of our country are being challenged. Put another way – even more basic – America is under attack. No airplanes. No bombs dropped. No anti-aircraft batteries. No tanks or missiles. Not even an invasion of our shoreline. But the attacks are real. Numerous. Sustained. Sometimes orchestrated. And worst of all – from within.

I’ve not just left the most recent mindless histrionics of the John Birch Society. Nor am I a Limbaugh or Beck adherent. And I still believe Michelle Malkin is the most ignorant voice ever to foul national airwaves. But there are things afoot challenging our way of life – deliberate lawbreaking activities of too many citizens and even some we’ve elected to public office. In both political parties – right and left.

Worse than all that – nearly all of these assaults are – so far – going seemingly unchallenged by legal authority. And – at times – some of them are being committed by the legal authorities we rely upon.

Here are some examples:

## The governors of Idaho and eight other states formally told the U.S. Justice Department they wont enforce certain mandatory federal requirements regarding their legal responsibilities for protecting the safety of inmates in their various penitentiaries. Won’t do it.

## More than 100 people with ATV’s invaded archeological sites in Utah where such vehicle use is prohibited by law. They spent much of one day posing for various media by trafficking through the “off limits” areas with their children – and guns – riding along.

## Some 200 sheriffs have told federal authorities they’ll not enforce laws dealing with guns which THEY deem “unconstitutional.” Further, they’ve served notice they’ll stop and/or arrest any federal officer trying to do so.

## Several dozen “citizens” deliberately carried exposed weapons to an anti-gun law demonstration in Washington D.C. where the law expressly forbids such displays.

## A Nevada rancher is in arrears over $1 million to the feds. He not only refuses to honor a contract of longstanding with the government but has also used his unearned notoriety to gather other lawbreakers to break other federal and state laws on his behalf.

## The armed and unlawful assembly at Bunkerville has continued unabated with citizen guns turned on government employees doing their court-ordered duties. They’ve been impeding traffic on federal and state highways for nearly two months and trespassing on the private properties of locals. Several months now. Unimpeded.

A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center sums up these and many more recent examples of in-your-face actions by people hellbent on condemning anything governmental. Called “War on the West” it delves deeply into the Bundy mess.

Center Director Mark Potok cites these and other examples as warnings of things to come if the feds don’t gain an understanding that this is the volatile nature of what’s happening. The Bundy lawbreaking “was not an organic plot. It was a coordinated effort to bring the threat of violence to the federal government.”

SPLC cites many examples of hundreds of militia types, conspiracy theorists and other angry extremists who quickly responded to Bundy’s call for a range war. So far – without consequence.

I’ve heard a number of honestly-offered arguments about why there’s been no ”push back.” I’ve heard ‘em and I reject ‘em. Even the ones contending there would have been gunfire and casualties at Bunkerville. Which likely would’ve been the case. And may yet be. But that’s what can happen when people take up arms against their government. Those doing so need to learn that hard truth when they do it. Not just get a lecture and a ticket.

But – we’re now several months past the first day of that standoff and dozens of people on-site continue committing illegal acts – including harassing locals who’ve done nothing and who want to be left alone. The feds – and the local sheriff – have turned deaf ears to the local member of congress who’s asked repeatedly for action to disperse the armed violators of others civil rights.

Those who rode roughshod over the fragile federal lands in Utah have suffered no response from law enforcement. The disparate pack of armed lawbreakers in that D.C. federal park broke several laws with seeming impunity. Sheriffs who’ve openly made themselves arbiters of the law rather than enforcers of the law have not been rebuked by those in positions of authority to do so.

Taken individually, much of this can be looked at as not terribly significant. But – taken in sum – it is. Because these are only a few of the in-your-face illegal acts of armed lawbreakers. They continue unchallenged – as do other legal “authorities” – flaunting laws and acting out imagined grievances against their own government. They – and too many others like them – are violating rules of law which are the foundation for our liberties.

At some point, we – all of us – must demand action. Those who administer our laws are accountable to the rest of us who live by them. Nothing will erode a society faster than allowing deliberate law breaking to continue with no accountability for illegal and often dangerous acts. The “envelope” will continue to be pushed. And it WILL break.

Until legitimate authority draws a line and says “no more,” these people will continue to act out. If the innocent majority is not protected by the laws we live with – if armed lawbreakers can continue to intimidate a legitimate government – if taking up arms against lawful authority isn’t stopped and punished – if all of this is allowed to continue without response – what will happen to our society and our national way of life?

Lincoln warned us about these types of activities when saying he feared no takeover of America by foreign interests. But, he warned, successful subversion of our government – should it ever be attempted – “would most likely come from within.”

The cited examples represent some of the cancers he feared.

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

Colleges will report on strengths, weaknesses (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Boise seeks to annex 27,000 people to the SW (Boise Statesman)
Idaho’s standard of living falls behind (IF Post Register)
Employers in Idaho seeinng wave of retirees (IF Post Register)
Traffic light change at Karcher Road (Nampa Press Tribune)
Legislator sues Bannock County over jail death (Pocatello Journal)
Ybarra campaign draws questions (TF Times News)

Former Santa Clara school site may be sold (Eugene Register Guard)
Sky Lakes Medical adding clinics, staff (KF Herald & News)
Some wildfires nearly contained (KF Herald & News)
Gender pay gap found in state (Salem Statesman Journal)
How much tax money would pot give OR? (Salem Statesman Journal)

Legal settlement by Bremerton school, covered (Kitsap Sun)
Paine Field could see ongoing changes (Everett Herald)
Marysville goes after special ed improvements (Everett Herald)
Legal pot still has high cost, low supply (Longview News)
Wildfires burning through fighting funds (Seattle Times)
The last Issaquah farm sold (Seattle Times)
Massive I-5 renovation at Tacoma begins (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co sees many more traffic fatalities (Vancouver Columbian)
In Clark GOP, moderates faring better (Vancouver Columbian)
ACLU sues Yakima, seeks by-district council seat (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

Here’s where members of Congress tend to get a bad rap: When congressional recesses are described as vacations, weeks when the officials can head off to the Caribbean and laze around. At times like the current congressional recess, which this year like most includes the month of August.

A few of them do treat it as time off, but most – while maybe taking a break here or there – use much of the time to do work, sometimes in Washington but often spending time back in the home state or district.

What exactly they do varies according to the person, and their priorities.

Last week Senator Mike Crapo released his recess schedule, and it shows that from August 11 to 28, which takes in most of the recess period, he will be visiting places and groups all over Idaho. On August 11 he will appear at two awards ceremonies and speak at the Financial Industry Authority Investor Forum. At McCall two days later he “discusses issues with Valley County Commissioners, Payette National Forest Supervisor’s Office” and in the afternoon “Tours Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory’s recent facility expansion” at Lewiston. The next day he goes to Orofino to speak with the county commissioners and the chamber of commerce; the day after, he’s back in Lewiston for a groundbreaking on a water project.

And so on. On the 27th he has two events in Twin Falls, both meeting with veterans groups, and on the 28th two in Pocatello, presenting an award to a veteran and addressing an economic symposium.

That’s a lot better than just vacationing during a recess, certainly, and not too different from what Idaho’s congressional delegation often does. But it is a little limiting. If you’re a economic developer or an executive of a prosperous business, or a veteran, or a local government official, your chances of getting face time with the senator aren’t bad. It’s not a bad thing that they get the opportunity. The point is, not many other Idahoans do.

Let me digress, for a moment, over to Oregon’s 4th congressional district (the southwest part of the state), where veteran Representative Peter DeFazio is preparing for his recess. And he really needs some preparation.

Like other members of Congress, he’ll be meeting with bunches of people and groups back home during the recess. But the core of his time will be spent at town halls, open meetings where people in the community are invited to ask questions of the representative, or give him a piece of their mind. (As they sometimes do; political opponents periodically show up and get involved.) Usually these run around an hour and a half each.

He will hold town hall meetings in Reedsport, Bandon, Gold Beach, Brookings, and Port Orford.

And then in Coos Bay, North Bend (this one mainly on veterans), Springfield, Cottage Grove, and Grants Pass.

And after that in Myrtle Creek, Roseburg, Lebanon, and Albany (the latter mainly on veterans).

And, in his last few days before the recess ends, in Corvallis, Florence, Veneta and two in Eugene.

DeFazio isn’t the only member of Congress to run this kind of regime on their time away from D.C. But he certainly does get exposure to a wide range of his constituents.

The practice could use some expansion in places such as Idaho.

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Idaho Idaho column


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 pay is low, essential costs higher (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Rain helping spuds, hurting hay (IF Post Register)
More evacuations at Cougar fire (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah County budget nearly ready (Moscow News)
King’s building demolished with Caldwell renewal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Data-driven crime, traffic approach in place (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello finance chief departs (Pocatello Journal)
Simplot Aberdeen plant won’t close just yet (Pocatello Journal)
Write-in files for sheriff in Minidoka (TF Times News)
Racetrack approved within Burley (TF Times News)

Coos anti-smoking manager heads to Eugene (Coos Bay World)
Tribe transport plan lists county roads (Coos Bay World)
UO didn’t have to pay $940k to Gottfredsson (Eugene Register Guard)
Chiloquin gets Head Start back (KF Herald & News)
KF mosquitoes found with West Nile (KF Herald & News)
Columbia gorge fire threatens home (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Experts say Oregon won’t easily beat Oracle (Portland Oregonian)
Chemeketa exec may sue college (Salem Statesman Journal)

Ferry Tacoma extensively damaged (Kitsap Sun)
Granite Falls mine wants more work hours (Everett Herald)
Pot sales pass $1 million in tax payment (Olympian, Longview News)
South Lake Union plans building sale, construction (Seattle Times)
Pike Place rejects bicycle sharing program (Seattle Times)
New psychiatric boarding rule kicks in (Seattle Times)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

It was a little while after word of the departure of University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson that a key point about the terms of departure became clear.

The basics about the departure were released immediately, though there wasn’t much clarity as to why he was leaving. The only explanation was that he wanted more time with his family, but really: He’d only been in the job for two years. He seemed to do well enough as president, made no major (visible) errors and from the outside looked to be headed toward a tenure of a number of additional years. And this guy they’d just hired, after an expensive year-long national search, was leaving, and they apparently gave him an immediate okay to go. Even an incentive of nearly a million dollars: $940,000, which apparently was a gift, not at all contractually required in the event of his resignation. (The figure came from the combination of a year’s pay as president and a year as a tenured professor, which he also contractually has been.)

The first matter at hand, of course, is: Why such a generous departure payment for someone who simply quit early? The governing board made a reference to the “contributions” he made – but isn’t that part of the job, what he was being paid for as a matter of course? What were the contributions that were so massive they qualified for a million-dollar gift?

Then there’s: Why is he leaving? (Apparently it isn’t for a higher paycheck elsewhere; he said he has no other job lined up.) You can count on this much: We haven’t heard all of the reason, whatever it may be, yet.

And this: Is this the prompt for yet another year-long nation-wide search, the leadership status in which most of our universities seem to spending about a quarter to a third of their time? It seems a peculiar kind of status for institutions where brilliantly inspired top leadership is taken to be so important.

As a matter of going forward: UO has chosen its provost (academic vice president) Scott Coltrane as interim president. Based on their description of him, he seems a perfectly decent choice, a university administrator for a decade and a dean, then provost, at UO since 2008. He’s apparently a respected administrator, and he knows something about UO. Why not save themselves the trouble and just strike the “interim” from his title, and be done with it?

Much better than the hamster wheel they’re likely to fire up yet again.

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Oregon Oregon column


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 talks about $17m bond plan (Boise Statesman)
Canyon conflicts over inmate labor program (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Ybarra says she didn’t intend school snub (Boise Statesman)
Cougar fire S of Lewiston partly contained (Lewiston Tribune)
Study shows high costs of DUI (Moscow News)
Labor Statistics: 6% of Idaho have multiple jobs (Nampa Press Tribune)
Balukoff rally at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Recovering from the flash flood (TF Times News)

UO picks provost as interim president (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal)
Support for biologist leads to retention (KF Herald & News)
Columbian Gorge evacuees go home (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Toxin found in Salem water supply (Salem Statesman Journal)

New taxi rules for Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Composting odors are back at Everett (Everett Herald)
Possible cutbacks at Lewis-McChord base (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Inslee asks federal wildfire disaster help (Olympian)
Kilmer extremely outspents GOP challenger (Port Angeles News)
Supreme Court rules on psychiatric boarding (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Economic recovery lags in Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Sea star wasting found in aquariums (Tacoma News Tribune)
Election observer was packing heat (Vancouver Columbian)
Feds critical of inspections at Vancouver port (Vancouver Columbian)
Progress made on Snag Canyon fire (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take