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Posts published in August 2014

Rethinking a medical system

trahant MARK


At a Billings hearing in May, Sen. Jon Tester expressed frustration about the management of the Indian Health Service.

The Montana Democrat said: “We need to live up to our trust responsibility and offer tribes the health care they deserve. Ongoing issues around service delivery, transportation for critical care, billing and reimbursement issues abound. We need to prioritize these issues and solve them.”

Tester, of course, is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. So his call for improving the agency is worth considering.

Then again, when former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) was chairman of the same committee, he also held hearings and published a report about the poor management record at IHS. “The investigation identified mismanagement, lack of employee accountability and financial integrity, as well as insufficient oversight of IHS' Aberdeen Area facilities. These issues impact overall access and quality of health care services provided to Native American patients in the Aberdeen Area. Many of these issues may stem from a greater lack of oversight by the area office and IHS headquarters fostering an environment where employees and management are not held accountable for poor performance.” The year was 2010.

So what kind of progress has the Indian Health Service made during those four years? Unfortunately that’s the wrong question.

In the blink of an eye, the very structure of health care has changed and is continuing to change dramatically in the United States. Yet the structure of the Indian Health Service is the same.

Take the name: Indian Health Service. On the agency’s web page it adds the descriptive line, “The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.” (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)

AG approves St Lukes takeover of Elks Rehab (Boise Statesman)
Ada County, Caldwell adopt police video (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Co: Nez Perce tribe owes $300K garbage bill (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston considering human rights ordinance (Lewiston Tribune)
Army Corps will review pollution at dams (Lewiston Tribune)
City pay raise in Pullman (Moscow News)
McMorris ahead in campaign funds (Moscow News)
Crime down a bit in Moscow (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell chooses dog park location (Nampa Press Tribune)
West Nile mosquitoes on rise again in area (Nampa Press Tribune)
Rains eases fires in southern Idaho (TF Times News)
More whooping cough cases (TF Times News)
Twin Falls annexes land for elementary school (TF Times News)

Wildfire smoke hits lower Willamette (Eugene Register Guard)
Festival of Eugene still trying to organize (Eugene Register Guard)
Wildfires roaring across southern Oregon (KF Herald & News)
Salmon may get more water if die-off happens (KF Herald & News)
Phosphoric acid found on rail car (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber, Hayes note engagement (Salem Statesman Journal) accesses state history database (Salem Statesman Journal)

Gun club gets rejection in Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Ellensburg fire still roaring (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Army Corps will disclose pollution from dams (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Lake Crescent wildfire stopped (Port Angeles News)
Seattle cops inadvertently turn on cell tracker (Seattle Times)
Voting deadline is here (Spokane Spokesman)
Benton blasts Inslee on Vancouver port (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver considers year-round fireworks (Vancouver Columbian)
WA Supreme Court sends fish/game cases to prosecutors (Yakima Herald Republic)


rainey BARRETT


If you’re looking for the usual rant about this-that-and-the-other usually found in this space, there’s disappointment ahead. The historic mess we’re in at the moment - politically and congressionally speaking - has about left me rant-less.

Criticism after criticism and well-worded complaint after well-worded complaint by others more intellectually-gifted and less intellectually-challenged have made no mark on the consciousness of our politicians so historically bad at their jobs. The oligarchy we’ve become has left no sense of responsibility to the folks at home. None. As long as some billionaire continues to kick in big bucks to whichever party he wants to buy at the moment, those with their hands out will pay us no mind.

As Mitch McConnell has run rule book circles around the backbone-challenged Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate has become the place where common sense legislation goes to die. Operating as no other political sphere I’m aware of, the minority has held firmly to Reid’s gonads and dragged him and the will of the majority all over hell’s half acre. The wasteland that used to be a respected and fully-functioning part of our democracy is littered with crumpled legislation that never had a chance.

In the House, a gutless Speaker - trying hard to keep his limousines, the taxpayer jet aircraft, secret service details, his huge suite of offices filled with an overabundance of staff, his additional pay and private dining room - that guy has allowed a few dozen cretins to stifle an entire government. Cretins who deny science, deny law, deny common sense and even deny the multiplication tables - these beneath-the-bridge-dwellers have proven their next attempt to repeal something could well be the law of gravity. It’s this bunch of hypocrites that has brought about my political confusion.

I started having trouble with my civics education when these animal crackers drove Republicans in the House to find a lawyer hungry enough to take their meaningless “case” to sue the President! One branch of one branch of our three branch government suing one of the other two. As this lunacy slowly sank into my cortex, I quickly visualized Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and some other feisty founders rising from their graves to ask each other if this was what they intended when they created the three-legged stool of our democracy. Republic, if you will. The balance.

Trying to make sense of that portion of the court filing dealing with the reason for such lunacy, it all came down to this: faced with dead ends at every turn when dealing with Congress, our President took it upon himself to do something without crawling up Capitol Hill only to find a closed door and degrading voices making nasty references to his manhood. And this added curiosity. What he did is what they wanted to do but didn’t because they couldn’t get their own act together! (more…)

In the Briefings

Fierce lightning hit the Willamette Valley on the night of July 31, in some places knocking down trees and doing other damage. This photo was taken near Carlton in Yamhill County. (photo/Brad Salter)

This week offered a little bit of a breather on the fire front, as burning on the massive Carlton Complex eased back. But emergency conditions persist across much of the state, and we're still just about to enter what is normally the peak of wildfire burning season.

In Oregon and Idaho, political television spots for the fall general election season are just about to hit the airwaves – August being the month that starts to happen. Watch for some dark money ads coming in this time around. Meanwhile, Washington prepares for it top two.

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)

Idaho paying more, not less, at gas pumps (Boise Statesman)
One hurting, CradlePoint growing fast again (Boise Statesman)
Appeals court reviewing Idaho law on marriage (Moscow News)
Fewer building permits at Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
No winemaker school facilities in Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune)
Restoration plans for Twin's Orpheum theatre (TF Times News)

UO profs working on sustainable city (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland pot rules ready for Tuesday vote (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland water situation helped by conservation (Ashland Tidings)
Oregon Gulch, other fires grow fast (Medford Tribune)
Border children arriving in Idao (Portland Oregonian)
A look at donors to area races (Salem Statesman Journal)

Sheldon Senate race gets help from GOP (Bremerton Sun)
Republicans look to replace Mike Hope (Everett Herald)
STEM elementary school ready at Pasco (Kennewick Herald)
95 of 123 legislative races have only 2 contenders (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Clallam prosecutor candidates on race (Port Angeles News)
Seattle bans right turn at Dexter/Mercer (Seattle Times)
Vancouver considerd parking meter app (Vancouver Columbian)
Fires still burning hot near Ellensburg (Yakima Herald Republic)

Some friendly counsel

carlson CHRIS


Dear Dan:

As you begin your new career as press secretary to First District Congressman Raul Labrador, here is some advice that will help you succeed. I preface it by saying I will miss your excellent political reporting.

I hope you understand skills you polished in your distinguished reporting career are not all transferable to making for a successful career as a press secretary. Thus,this counsel:

1) There is only one name on the ballot. Your job of course is to promote your Boss’ name. Too many “flacks” make the mistake of allowing themselves to be quoted directly. As a general rule speak only on background and not for direct attribution so that the information your Boss wants out is delivered but the quote is something like “an aide close to Congressman Labrador said. . . . .”

2) Physical proximity to your horse is critical. If you want to be the “go to” person for the media you have to be where he is, which is D.C., most of the time, not Meridian. I know Senator Mike Crapo has his media staff largely in Boise, but he does not seek the national profile your Boss is well along the path of obtaining. Already, your Congressman has established a record of sorts for the number of appearances on Meet the Press for a sophomore member. You want the producers of that show to be calling you when they want him, not some D.C. assistant.

3) You were a somebody in Boise; you’re a nobody in D.C. Your Boss has a right to expect you to start developing good relations with national, D.C. based media, many of whom may know you from your award-winning journalistic career but none who know you in your new role. All they will be interested in is can you return phone calls promptly, can you speak for your Boss and when necessary can you deliver him quickly. You’ll also have to court the veteran press secretaries as well as pay homage to the media “stars” for the press has indeed become major influencers of events not just reporters. Read This Town by Mark Lebovich, if you haven’t already.

4) Take a media training course and run your Boss through one periodically. There is an art form to talking with the media and delivering your message, then staying on that message regardless of what the media may want. Every interview is as an opportunity to get your message out and you have to control the interview. Thus, you’ll master such devices as “block and bridge,” where one learns quickly to block the thrust of a reporter’s question and bridge to the message you want. Pull Florida Governor Rick Scott’s CNN interview off of You Tube when he was a candidate. His message was “jobs” and every question he took he turned back into “I’m all about creating jobs.” His interviewers were frustrated but he sure got his message across. (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)

Idaho Republicans elect Yates as chair (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
West Ada School District still growing (Boise Statesman)
Idahoans, some of them, confront climte change (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Barley demand growing (IF Post Register)
Evaluating cost of high school sports (Lewiston Tribune)
SkyFest becomes major event at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Martaugh, Hanen school districts may merge (TF Times News)

Irrigators, others struggle with water at KF (KF Herald & News)
Wildfire smoke spreads widely (KF Herald & News)
Beaver Complex fire could lead to big losses (Medford Tribune)
'Dark money' from Koch group heads to OR race (Portland Oregonian)
Do weatherization subsidies pay off? (Portland Oregonian)

Harrison Medical's president departs (Bremerton Sun)
The last voyage of the USS Constellation (Bremerton Sun)
Primary election turnout low so far (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
Another Methow Valley fire roars (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Red Mountain wine plans major expansion (Kennewick Herald)
Trying for cleanup at Mt Solo landfill (Longview News)
Forks seeing series of mills close (Port Angeles News)
Clallam prosecutor candidates go at it (Port Angeles News)
Seattle home prices through the roof (Seattle Times)
Transport problems for pot growers on islands (Seattle Times)
Illegal fireworks users ticketed (Vancouver Columbian)

Three statewides

idaho RANDY

Draw no wild predictions of massive upsets into this, but three statewide offices below the top level – which would mean governor and Congress – have developed some new dynamics this year. They're different enough that, three months out from the general election, there's at least some sense of unpredictability about them.

The default prediction in Idaho when an office has a partisan label (as federal, state and county offices mostly do) is, simply, the Republican wins. It's a reasonable standard-issue answer in not all but most cases.

Noted here, three that don't necessarily reverse that, but ought to give prognosticators pause.

One, the most easily explained, is superintendent of public instruction, held for the last two terms by Republican Tom Luna. The two terms before that, however, it was held by Democrat Marilyn Howard, the Democrat most recently (12 years ago) elected statewide. When she retired in 2006, after having beaten Luna four years earlier, the Democratic nominee was Jana Jones, who was Howard's chief deputy. Jones nearly beat Luna, in one of the closer elections in Idaho that year. This year, she is running again, and is well-funded and highly active.

Her Republican opponent, Sherri Ybarra, has appeal and good classroom cred, but she was a surprise winner in a deeply split primary, and to date still hasn't been very visible or (visibly) organized. She contrasts with the highly-organized and campaign-honed Luna of 2006. This may change, and if as is possible she runs a solid campaign, the Republican label could carry her through. Right now, it's hard to know, and Jones is not badly positioned.

State Treasurer Ron Crane has had a series of bad headlines this season about his management of the office (and the finances it generates), the sort of thing elected officials usually find . . . unhelpful. He has a strongly aggressive Democratic opponent in Deborah Silver, a Twin Falls CPA who has been working hard and doing just about everything she can to keep those headlines in view and discuss them in detail. (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)

Female Episcopal priest dies (Boise Statesman)
Upgrades continue for Moscow-Pullman airport (Moscow News)
Latah deputies may see some pay increase (Moscow News)
Lots of exemptions in covered load rules (Nampa Press Tribune)
Changing rules for undocumented students (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello housing group gets funding (Pocatello Journal)
New proposed rules for oil, gas (TF Times News)
Labrador blames Obama on immigrant children (TF Times News)

Concerns over plans for homeless camp (Eugene Register Guard)
Sky Lakes Medical Center spending on equipment (KF Herald & News)
Big burn in Oregon Gulch fire (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Pendleton crime lab sees budget trouble (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Analyzing populations of Hermiston, Pendleton (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Moda premiums will rise 10.6% (Portland Oregonian)
Looking at Providence Park finances (Portland Oregonian)
Intense lighting storms in mid-Willamette (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing Kitsap assessor race (Kitsap Sun)
Edmonds gets new low-income medical clinic (Everett Herald)
Former Herald building sold for low price (Everett Herald)
Legal issues addressed on immigrant children (Olympian)
Inslee visits as fires erupt (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma pot sales start (Tacoma News Tribune)