Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS


One might call it the equivalent of the quarterback sneak play, only in this case the quarterback, Ed Lodge, an All American at the position for Boise Junior College, and then a “Little” All American at the College of Idaho, knew nothing about the play.

Edward J. Lodge, who announced this past week he is moving to “senior status” on the 9th Federal District Bench as Idaho’s chief federal judge, is basking in an outporing of well deserved praise. He has presided over virtually every major, complicated Federal case in Idaho over the past 25 years: Two examples are the Ruby Ridge trial in which a jury, expertly guided by the fair and impartial Lodge, acquitted Randy Weaver; and, the murder trial of Claude Dallas, the self-styled survivalist and trapper who coldly killed two Idaho Fish and Game agents, Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, in the Owyhee Desert southwest of Boise.

Non-murder cases that Lodge has presided over include the EPA managed Superfund settlement in Idaho’s Silver Valley and his over sight of the Nuclear Waste disposal agreement between the state and the U.S. Department of Energy.

President George H.W. Bush, sent Lodge’s name to the Senate Judiciary committee in 1989 at the behest of senior Republican Senator James A. McClure and a virtuallly united Idaho Congressional delegation that included Senator Steve Symms, Congressman Larry Craig from the First District, and the delegation’s lone Democrat, Second District Congressman Richard Stallings.

Even more remarkable for a nomination to the life-time position of a state’s federal district judge, Senator McClure carried in his pocket and read into the record a letter of unqualified endorsement by Idaho’s Democratic governor, Cecil D. Andrus. This bi-partisan support for a Federal judgship is almost unheard of in today’s bitterly partisan environment. Lodge received unanimous confirmation.

Ed Lodge, however, warranted this support. He already had established in Idaho a reputation for probity, common sense, intelligence and an excellent grasp of the law and how it relates to justice.

Born in Caldwell on December 3rd, 1933, he attended school there and graduated from Caldwell H. S., where he starred as the quarterback on the football team. He briefly attended Notre Dame, but quickly grew homesick for the West and skedaddled for home. He then pursued his education, first at Boise Junior College, then graduated in 1957 from the College of Idaho. He received his law degree from the University of Idaho in 1961 and started his rapid rise in the legal field.

By 1965 he had caught the eye and the fancy of many folks, including Canyon County Democrats Bill Brauner and Dean Miller, who knew Lodge both professionally and personally. Thus, when a vacancy came about in Idaho’s 3rd Judicial District, Lodge’s name was being bandied about along with several others.

Ironically, Lodge turned out to have Republican blood in his veins though he has never been viewed as a partisan. His wife, Patti Anne, is currently completing her seventh term as the Republican State Senator from Canyon County’s 11th Legislative district.

In those days there was no Judicial Council to vett candidates and a governor’s power to appoint was uncompromised. Lodge’s personal bio merely says in 1965 he was appointed by the governor to the post.

Who was the brilliant, insightful governor in 1965 that saw all the greatness waiting to spring forth? Well, everyone knows that the governor at that time was Robert E. Smylie nearing the end of his unprecedented third four year term.

Governor Smylie, however, preferred another candidate. So how did Ed Lodge emerge? Here comes one of the great quarterback sneak plays in Idaho political history.

Under Idaho’s Constitution the state’s Lieutenant Governor can exercise all the powers of the Office of the Governor when the governor is out of state. Two north Idaho Democratic legislators, State Rep. Ed Williams of Lewiston, and his good friend, Clearwater County State Senator Cecil D. Andrus, somehow learned that Smylie would shortly be out of state.

They also saw he was leaving for a few days and had not made the 3rd District selection. The two legislators, not particularly happy with the ever-growing arrogance of Smylie, consulted with Brauner and Miller about who they might suggest to fellow Democratic Lt. Governor William Drevlow, of Craigmont, and then convinced him to appoint Lodge.

Drevlow did and of course Smylie was furious but there was nothing he could do about it.

As Paul Harvey used to say as he ended his widely syndicated noon radio broadcast: “And now you know the rest of the story.”

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Once again, it’ll be pointed out that Boeing remains a massive business and employer around the Puget Sound. And it is. But it gets less and less so, and this latest run of 2,000 job cuts in the area (evidently, the jobs will be moved elsewhere) suggest the day may be coming when Boeing is no longer an especially outsized employer or economic force in the area. There are, after all, other large employers in the area which have been expanding, not contracting. The mix is changing.

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)

Garden City farmers market sees modest traffic (Boise Statesman)
Nez Perce sales tax will expire (Lewiston Tribune)
Few specifics in Idaho governor ads (Moscow News)
Legislative candidate Jordan blasts school funding (Moscow News)
I-84 expansion would cost $120m (Nampa Press Tribune)
Subdivision land bought to farm usage (Nampa Press Tribune)
Another tort filed in juvenile corrections (Nampa Press Tribune)
Paul iPad project folding without state help (TF Times News)
Otter gets pro-life group support (TF Times News)

New OSU building opens for work (Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene may impose its own pot tax (Eugene Register Guard)
Gateway Mall may be remodeled, timing unclear (Eugene Register Guard)
Sheep killed by Umatilla wolf pack (KF Herald & News)
School year starts at Klamath college (KF Herald & News)
Salmon helped with more water releases (KF Herald & News)
Odor from pot gardens create issue (Medford Tribune)
Board to govern SOU named (Medford Tribune)
Treatment plant may be source of Rogue algae (Medford Tribune)
Wyde delivers talkk at Pendleton (Pendleton E Oregonian)
County building project done at Heppner (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Drone test flight launches at Pendleton (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cop-beaten man wins $400k against Portland (Portland Oregonian)
Groups work on fixing overabundant cats (Salem Statesman Journal)
Congressional panel opposes wilderness rule (Salem Statesman Journal)

Doctors Clinic quits Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Hansville creosote project moves ahead (Bremerton Sun)
Two days before jail escape noticed (Everett Herald)
Local agencies on record disclosure pressures (Everett Herald)
Approval in holding off emptying leaking tank (Kennewick Herald)
Two more charter schools possible (Kennewick Herald)
Wrongful rape conviction payout, $500k (Longview News)
Boeing will cut 2,000 Puget jobs (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian, Longview News)
Law said to allow smoking pot in car (Port Angeles News)
King Council blocks further transit cuts (Seattle Times)
What tax funds will pay for parks? (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Benton will tour Cambodia (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

Federal agencies heavily involved in regulation and rule making aggravate enough people in the normal and proper course of their work that the last thing they need is to go out of their way, in an incompetent fashion at that, to aggravate even more.

Meet the U.S. Forest Service, and its rules on photography in wilderness areas.

The Forest Services regulates wilderness areas around the country – many of them in the Northwest – and are supposed to do that with the purpose of wilderness in mind: Preservation of lands in a natural state, where people can visit but not stay and not leave behind traces of their visits. That means no human goods left behind, and no damage done to the areas.

The USFS has managed this job in many ways, some sound and some questionable. But restricting photography – the taking of still or video pictures with the use of hand-held camera equipment – in those areas wouldn’t realistically occur to most people as damaging to the wild character of wilderness.

Last week reports – based mainly in the Northwest but spread rapidly around the country – noted that an obscure forest rule required permits for photography in wilderness areas. Well, some photography. Under some conditions. The gray area here is vast. The weirdly vague rule is up for possible permanent adoption later this year.

An initial Forest Service email described it this way: “All organizations … including private citizens planning to use produced material to raise funds, sell a product, or otherwise realize compensation in any form (including salary during the production) are subject to review.”

Including vacationers, and news reporters, apparently.
After the media explosion, Service Chief Tom Tidwell replied, “To be clear, provisions in the draft directive do not apply to news gathering or activities. . . . Generally, professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models, actors or props.”

Except that, in Idaho and Oregon at least, it turns out that news organizations (notably public television stations) have been either stopped from filming in wilderness areas or threatened with penalties if they did.

Salem Statesman Journal reporter Zach Urness, writing this weekend, noted that interpretations of the rule seemed to vary widely among Forest Service officials at various local and national levels. It does seem to open photography in the case of “breaking news,” though the definition attached to that term is also vaporous and open to abuse.

But the rule clearly gives local Forest Service officials latitude in deciding whether to allow the photography, and to base much of the decision not on whether wilderness areas would be harmed by the activity, but on whether the news report would be one that the Forest Service liked. A directive suggests a green light if the planned news report (and the news organization would have to disclose in advance what the report is intended to say) “Has a primary objective of dissemination of information about the use and enjoyment of wilderness or its ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.”

In other words, the Forest Service would insert itself into the newsroom to decide which stories get reported and which don’t.

Could amateur photographers be caught up in this too? Possibly. The rules make reference to “commercial” photography, but the definitions there too are slippery.

If anyone but the Forest Service is on the Forest Service’s side in this, they haven’t made it clear. Members of Congress from both left and right, Republicans and Democrats both, have jumped all over the Forest Service for this. News media have too of course, but you can expect an angry reaction as well from many wilderness supporters, many of whom love to take pictures when they hike the backcountry.

This rule is the most obvious and real “kick me” sign any federal agency has posted on itself in quite a while. And that’s saying something.

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Oregon Oregon column Washington Washington column


 Another six pontoons for the new State Route 520 floating bridge are floating out of their Aberdeen casting basin September 26, marking completion of the fifth of six cycles of pontoons being built in Grays Harbor County. With this float-out, 66 of the new bridge’s 77 pontoons have been constructed, and 57 are on Lake Washington. The three remaining Aberdeen pontoons are scheduled for completion next spring. Forty-four of the bridge’s supplemental pontoons are being built in Tacoma, where work is underway on the final construction cycle there. Meanwhile, crews continue aligning, anchoring and bolting together pontoons on Lake Washington. The new, six-lane floating bridge – the longest in the world – is scheduled to open to traffic in spring 2016. (photo/Department of Transportation)

Few developments this week in Washington politics – at least among the candidates for office. The battle over initiatives (especially the two gun initiatives) seems to be generating more heat than the people are.

Federal lands issues were big last week. In Oregon, fires roared back, and Bureau of Land Management Sally Jewell visited small and remote Lakeview (whose BLM office oversees a vast area) on the subject of sage grouse habitat. The biggest topic of discussion, however, probably was the newly-publicized Forest Service rule on photography in wilderness areas.

Debates have been getting underway this last week, and more are coming in the next few weeks. Most are available on the web through stream. One notably worth watching: The Twin Falls debate between Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Jana Jones and Sherri Ybarra; the link is on the web site of the Twin Falls Times News, whose managing editor moderated.

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The Oregon battle over GMO labeling is definitely on the tube, and news reports around the state took notice of that today. The ads are capably produced on both sides, and the results could be pretty close.

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 considers downtown traffic patterns (Boise Statesman)
Idaho closes out moderate fire season (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing Idaho potato market (TF Times News)

GMO initiative battle goes on air (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette)
New water lines developed in Butte Falls (Medford Tribune)
New hires at UO education school (Eugene Register Guard)
On the new University of Portland president (Portland Oregonian)
Report finds no abuse at state hospital (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee panel would revive water, excise taxes (Everett Herald)
Stanfield looks at city hall update (Everett Herald)
Gorge plans and area residents conflict (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Gun ballot issue battle over ‘transfer’ (Olympian)
Issue: Constitutionality of new school taxes (Olympian)
Sequim may see new water rates (Port Angeles News)
Rare bumblebees expand in Olympic park (Port Angeles News)
Judge candidates battle on pay-or-appear (Port Angeles News)
Demand increases for Washington’s hops (Seattle Times)
Spokane sheriff positioned for re-election (Spokane Spokesman)
GOP relectant on new school taxes (Tacoma News Tribune)
Bull trout at Yakima deemed endangered (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT


When someone commits suicide, two things happen. Someone dies. Those left behind feel shock and grief. Would those same attributes apply if an entire county died by its own hand? We’re about to find out.

Voters in Oregon’s Curry County seem determined to end life on this planet and set sail for an unknown destination in the afterlife. Try as they might, political, civic and moral leaders in-residence seem powerless to stop the self-induced destruction.

Already faced with the most serious local governmental fiscal hole in the state – following defeat of half a dozen bond issues for this and that – voters have said a loud “NO” to the latest measure – a small tax increase dedicated only to keeping doors open at the county jail. Just for keeping the bad guys locked up.

Bad enough. But it gets worse. Curry has been privileged to have the services of Sheriff John Bishop for many years. As good a professional cop as you’ll find. He’s tried and tried to make his case with voters that his lockup is out of compliance with nearly all legal – if not humane – requirements for keeping prisoners. He’s stacked up enough reasons for a better jail so effectively even voters in neighboring counties have been swayed.

He’s pleaded. He’s begged. He nearly single-handedly forced the latest bond issue before voters. All his labors have ended up in the trash. The latest – a rejection of something so basic to public safety it should be automatic. But it wasn’t even close.

Now, he’s leaving the job. The sheriff’s doctors have told him he’s got to get out from under the load of stress he’s carried for so long or he’ll die years before his time. He’s taken a new job in Salem. But that’s not all. His wife – who’s in charge of county corrections – is leaving, too. They’re both worn out. He and his corrections director wife will be gone before the end of the year.

The newly appointed sheriff – a younger veteran of the department – says the latest voter “shot-to-the-head” leaves him with one choice. He can lock up only the “really, really bad guys” and keep jail doors open ‘til January. Or he can keep taking those arrested and those sentenced by the courts and run out of money in a few weeks. Your call.

Curry County has been on this self-destructive path for several years. All the usual government services – including those required by law – have been cut, cut and cut again. Good people – people you’d want running things anywhere – have bailed out. Staffing in all departments – ALL – is less than minimal. Even 9-1-1 calls are screened for seriousness before anyone responds. And sometimes – they don’t. Bad guys – sometimes really bad guys – have been cycled from arrest to jail to court and back to the street for months.

Oregon has a new law allowing a county to declare bankruptcy and turn to the state for a bailout. A lot of voters in Curry seem to be counting on that. Counting, too, on getting out from under the current – and very deep – debt. They’re about to get a very large surprise.

While the state will be forced to step in, that new law also allows those who take over to make some major decisions. What services will be provided. What won’t. What those services will cost. And who’ll pay the bill. In fact, the state can lay on new “taxes” for certain things. Costs likely to be significantly higher than that old jail bond issue that was junked. The new, temporary help from the State of Oregon will come with a price tag. And with the authority to force payment.

Curry has only five “cities” with some 25,000 souls. More than three-quarters of ‘em live in Brookings, Harbor and Gold Beach – a stretch of Highway 101 of about 24 miles. A small county, yes. But it has a large land area and requires all the services of any other county. Given a long Pacific coastline and weather that wreaks havoc on roads and other public facilities, it also has some serious operating costs. Some of the required maintenance hasn’t been done in a long, long time because of the continued bond issue and county budget rejections. There’s a lot of deferred problems that need prompt attention before the entire infrastructure falls apart.

Curry County’s been “dying-by-a-thousand-cuts.” We lived there. We left. We found an attitude of false self-sufficiency among many people there. Curry may have the largest percentage of over-60 voters in the state. Maybe even over 70. Lots of retired folk. Lots of former government workers. Lots of former military. Fixed income folks.

But there’s something else. The largest population base is the unincorporated community of Harbor across the Chetco River from Brookings. Folks in Harbor have repeatedly refused to incorporate – preferring to leech the “free” services and shopping of the City of Brookings rather than carry their own costs. It’s been ever thus.

That may have to change if the county goes under. State of Oregon administrators charged with reviving the victim may have something to say about this longtime financial abuse of citizenship. Infrastructure costs disproportionally levied on some residents more than others may need to be readjusted some way. Freeloading may have to be ended.

If politics is your bent, watching developments in Curry County, Oregon, may be worth your while for a few months. Several other counties are in precarious financial conditions, too. But Curry seems closer to the edge of the cliff than any of them. Whether Curry jumps or is pushed off that cliff is the question. It got into this suicidal position at the hands of voters. This last “no” vote may have been the killer.

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The most striking story of the day (in the Medford Mail Tribune – it had run a little earlier in Portland) may have been about law enforcement in Josephine County, where volunteers (with some training by the county) are being sent out to evaluate crime scenes. The somewhat snarky headline referred to “CSI: Josephine County,” but it was deserved: Amateurs will be gathering fingerprints and fibers, and law enforcement will be praying it holds up in court. Good luck with that. This isn’t law enforcement’s preference, to be clear about it. This is a result of voters repeatedly turning down law enforcement levies needed to fund Josephine County enforcement at a level somewhat comparable to other counties. You can expect to see more explosive headlines coming from those quarters sooner or later.

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)

More Idaho students defaulting on loans (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Yellowstone may want more bucks from visitors (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Profiling race for secretary of state (Boise Statesman)
Offenses behind Canyon Co jail inmates (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho Center grapples with finances (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing marketing of Idaho potatoes (Lewiston Tribune)
Meals on Wheels money stalls (TF Times News)

Eugene cops using more body cameras (Eugene Register Guard)
Looking at sage grouse options (KF Herald & News)
Students struggle with loan repayment (Portland Oregonian)
New homeless program seeks student homelss (Medford Tribune)
Josephine Co sends volunteers to crime scenes (Medford Tribune)
Minor party gov candidates join in debates (Salem Statesman Journal)
Reviewing forest service photo policy (Salem Statesman Journal)

Measuring the amount of stream flow (Bremerton Sun)
Hospitals pull funds from Medicaid expansion (Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun)
Woman’s death in jail raising questions (Everett Herald)
New Lower Columbia College building get praise (Longview News)
Kaiser medical clinic opens to non-members (Longview News)
Dealing with Olympia’s downtown homeless (Olympian)
Olympic narc unit hit with $20m lawsuit (Port Angeles News)
Concerns about Navy electromagnetic project (Port Angeles News)
Rents skyrocketing Seattle (Seattle Times)
Spokane overview – parks issue (Spokane Spokesman)
Latinos see political issue in names (Spokane Spokesman)
Developing Tacoma’s Amtrak station (Tacoma News Tribune)
Initiative on guns, and the word ‘transfer’ (Tacoma News Tribune)
Police increasingly wearing cameras (Tacoma News Tribune)
Yakima works on wastewater flow (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

In the mid-70s my reporting included the courts at Canyon County, overseen at the time by three district judges. Everyone I knew who was familiar with the court system – lawyers, clerks, journalists, parties to cases and others – shorthanded the three judges in the same way.

All were professional, capable judges. But: One was the judge you wanted if you were the defendant. Another was the one you wanted if you were a victim or a prosecutor; in relative terms, he was the hangin’ judge. And then there was the one in the middle, the one the consensus figured most likely to meet most people’s idea of fairness most often. That was District Judge Edward Lodge.

Judges matter. Last week Lodge, now a federal district judge, said that next summer he plans to take senior status – a sort of semi-retirement – and time seems right for some reflection on that.

By the time I started watching him on the bench, Lodge was a veteran already, appointed in 1965 at the age of 31; he is said to still hold the record for youngest district judge in Idaho. He has had his share of high-profile cases (the Claude Dallas murder case, for one), but in his nearly half-century on the bench, he never has become especially controversial and often has drawn praise. He has been a federal district judge since 1989 – about a quarter-century.

The work of judges isn’t as easily summarized as that of, say, legislators or members of congress, and most people not associated with the courts may have little way to figure which are better and which are less so. But it is crucial work. The decisions of federal judges like Lodge, and Idaho’s current senior federal judge, Lynn Winmill, from time to time have as much impact as legislation, and can change the direction of legislation. Federal judges like Lodge, after all, have been the people making decisions on such hot buttons as Obamacare and same-sex marriage.

Lodge’s move to senior status is something a number of people in the Idaho legal system have wanted for some years, not as a criticism of Lodge but because it would open a slot for a new federal judge. The need has been great for some time; this column addressed the subject late last year. Idaho has fewer federal judges per capita than a number of other states (Wyoming, for one example, is flush with federal judges by comparison). The docket is almost overwhelming at times.

But here we will see before long a political battle royal, because federal judgeships are filled by the president, usually in some consultation with the state’s local congressional delegation, especially if it is of the same party as the president. Since Idaho’s delegation is all-Republican and the president is a Democrat, and the job will need a sign-off from the Senate as a whole, the negotiations will be difficult.

There will be some Republican temptation to hold off on the appointment until after the next presidential election. That would be a purely partisan consideration; Idaho has a job that needs filling, and the legal work of the state will be jammed until it is filled.

So there is a need to choose soon. And as the tenure of Judge Lodge has shown, there are also clear benefits to choosing well.

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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)

Kathryn Yost, legislative staffer, dies (Idaho Statesman)
IF okays Hitt Road plan; Ammon next (IF Post Register)
Caldwell firefighters see pay raise (Nampa Press Tribune)
Vigils for Idaho pastor held in Iran (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing Mitchell Senate campaign (TF Times News)

Fires not quite gone from Oregon (Corvallis Gazette)
More mandatory drug tests for athletes (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane County may try new vehicle fees (Eugene Register Guard)
First televised governor’s debate at Sunriver (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
KF police chief plans retirement (KF Herald & News)
State Senate 4 race turns negative (Medford Tribune)
Britt Classical Festival draws strong numbers (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing CCO in Umatilla Co (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Walden forests bill passes House again (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Plan for new Irrigon library stalled (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing race in 5th CD (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon fishermen pulling in PCBs (Portland Oregonian)
PERS costs for schools will drop (Salem Statesman Journal)
ODOT placing median barriers (Salem Statesman Journal)

Concern about mudslide in East Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish medical examiner quits (Everett Herald)
Major power line vandalized (Everett Herald)
Many south sound school enrollments increase (Olympian)
Tacoma schools concerned about new charters (Tacoma News Tribune)
Oil transporters opposing further regs (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

trahant MARK


The People’s Climate March in New York City Sunday was supposed to be huge. There were some 1,500 organizations as sponsors, including several indigenous groups from around the world, expecting more than 100,000 people.

But they were wrong because more than 310,000 people showed and feeds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were jammed with reports of family and friends marching and demanding environmental justice. The New York event even started with a request for permission to protest on occupied Native land.

And if the New York City protest wasn’t enough, there were similar events across the globe. As Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said Sunday, “You know what, this is the most important place in the world right now.”

So if people understand the implications of global warming and climate change, do politicians?

“Time is not on our side,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a news release. “If we don’t act on climate change, it means we are living at the expense of what we leave to our children. It’s like borrowing money and leaving a huge debt to our children.” (The WMO has an interesting “weather” report from the future, explaining some of the climateprojections in an easy to understand newscast.) Though averting that scenario is still possible, “It will require bold decisions, courageous decisions,” he said.

Some of that process will unfold at the United Nations this week. But those who argue against action are also pulling levers, both in New York and in Washington, D.C.

That’s why I think global warming should be at the top of any voter’s must list this November. The World Meteorological Organization released a report that shows the “amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide.”

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board,” Jarraud said. “We are running out of time.”

Let’s put this into a political context. In elections from Alaska to South Dakota global warming might as well be on the ballot. (A recent survey says only 25 percent of Republicans see climate change as a major threat.) Alaska’s Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate told Sitka’s KCAW radio that “I think the jury’s out on climate change.” And in South Dakota, former Gov. Mike Rounds, running for the Senate, doesn’t talk much about global warming. Instead he recently posted on Facebook: “Five years of inaction for Keystone XL pipeline is far too long. Build it now for America’s energy independence!”

Build it now? Add to the carbon dioxide problem we already have?

I would go further. We should rule out any candidate for any office that denies the science of global warming. It’s fair for politicians to quibble with a study, or even a few, but let’s be clear here, nearly all climate scientists are saying the same thing. They’re sounding an alarm.

Here are key figures from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

The facts are that carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements from the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, show that CO2 concentration in our atmosphere has increased by about 24 percent since 1958. And that is the primary driver of global climate change. NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.

What will it take for the political establishment to move forward on a climate change policy with the same urgency as starting another war in the Middle East? Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of New York might only be the start. There is no more important reason to vote in November 2014.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

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