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Posts published in August 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)

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)

A one-cop legal climate

idaho RANDY

Not commonly does a single public official, at least those unelected, manage to change a whole legal environment all on their own. But it can happen. A new story out of Seattle last week showed how one police officer managed to do it all on his own.
The instance came to light when the Seattle Police released its regular report, on required by city rules, on marijuana enforcement.

It said, “When reviewing data captured for this report, SPD staff discovered that 66 of 83, or approximately 80%, of marijuana tickets were issued by one officer. In some instances, the officer added notes to the tickets. Some notes requested the attention of City Attorney Peter Holmes and were addressed to 'Petey Holmes.' In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite. In another note, the officer refers to Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as 'silly.'”
About half of the tickets went to people who were homeless.

The officer's name was released by the department, after inquiries, and he was taken off the beat and reassigned.

This was an officer who didn't get the city's unofficial memo about marijuana enforcement. The city's voters have passed a measure ordering that pot enforcement be, in effect, the lowest priority for police. The message has been in essence – well in advance of the statewide legalization vote – that unless violence or theft or children are involved, or someone complaints about a specific problem, that marijuana is best just left alone.

Still, the officer was following the terms of the law, a law that was on the books locally and remains on the books federally. Until it's off the books entirely, he would have legal authority to unilaterally change the legal climate in his corner of Seattle.

Police and prosecutors have a lot of effective power. They could in theory go after many kinds of offenses; as a matter of practical reality, they pick and choose.

And as long as the law allows, some will choose in ways the community as a whole might not prefer.

That's the case for not just expressing preferences, but for changing the law.

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)

Republicans plan for Saturday meeting (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Vehicles in intersections at red lights (Boise Statesman)
Intense hail storm damages crops in north (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah County finances look ok (Moscow News)
Idaho school officials look at dual credit (Moscow News)
Wildfires continue to heat up (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon debates over suspending labor detail (Nampa Press Tribune)
SkyFest event planned for Pocatello airport (TF Times News)

500 years for sex molester, a record (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath concerns about groundwater limits (KF Herald & News)
Ashland area evacuated over wildfires (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Ashland Tidings)
Medford police station design approved (Medford Tribune)
Grass fire hitting Condon area (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Discussion about volume at Columbian spillways (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tension with neighbors of a pot farm (Portland Oregonian)
Providence mapping tumors in cancer war (Portland Oregonian)

Planning for improvements at Bainbridge terminal (Bremerton Sun)
Bremerton cops focus on repeat offenders (Bremerton Sun)
House candidate refunds donations after complaints (Olympian)
Interfor may close two timber mills (Port Angeles News)
Spokane council okays more police funds (Spokane Spokesman)
State health covers transgender next year (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark County accounts criticized in audit (Vancouver Columbian)