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Posts published in September 2014

On the death of newspapering

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

A friend sidled up to me the other day and said his daughter wanted to get a journalism degree and become a newspaper reporter. My response was that he should just loan her his Smith & Wesson. The consequences would be the same and she wouldn't be stuck with all that college loan debt.

Newspapering used to be robust fun. That's because we used to be a two-newspaper-town country.

One paper would be the calm, conservative, business-community oriented rag; the other would be the fire-breathing, liberal-bent, crusading rag. They went head-to-head every day with their coverage, and whether liberal or conservative, there would be an editor at each who said to his or her reporters, “Chill out and check your facts.”

Get it first and get it right – that was the rule – because if you blew it the competition would clean your clock.

Competition: that's how we got to the root of things. The competition of ideas informed our debate about matters that were of import great or minor. Neither newspaper in a two-newspaper town got it right every morning or afternoon, but if you read both, you could arrive at a sensible middle and a conversation could ensue.

Most important, two newspapers independently owned and edited in a single circulation area kept each other honest. The publishers and editors could spin things, but they had to hew to the facts or they'd get called on it, mercilessly.

I started my newspapering career in a country with two-newspaper towns: Seattle, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Coos Bay, Salem, Anchorage, Elizabeth, N.J. and the Silver Valley. You woke up in the morning and dashed to the front porch, picking up the papers and dying to know who had kicked whose butt. Did we get it first? Did we get it right? Or did those other guys whomp us?

As a reporter you cared because your editors would drag you into a room with rubber hoses if you blew it. “Where the hell were you when this happened?” was a pretty common question in the morning's inquisition.

In a one-newspaper town, these inquisitions don't occur. Who cares? There's nobody out there with a different version of the truth. (more…)

On the front pages

news

All the talk for so many months now about a bum health insurance website and who did and didn't live up to contracts really has missed the point. The big Oregon story today (following on an OHSU study) does highlight the important development in the changes in Oregon's health insurance picture over the last year, since Obamacare has kicked in: The number of uninsured people in the state has fallen, from about 550,000 to 202,000 - by 63%. The state estimated that 95% of Oregonians now have health insurance coverage. That's still not perfect, and the system still has some bugs crawling around. But getting about 350,000 more people insured in the course of a few months is a massive achievement, a big success story, and a much bigger deal than whether a few hyperlinks work right on a web site.

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)

High occupancy in downtown Boise hotels (Boise Statesman)
Caldwell pays for study for future (Boise Statesman)
Washington state revenues shoot up (Lewiston Tribune)
New medical research clinic opens at Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Stallings blasts Simpson on rural mail (TF Times News)
Hagerman faces sewer bond election (TF Times News)

Springfield mulls pot sales tax (Eugene Register Guard)
Task force has sexual assault ideas for UO (Eugene Register Guard)
New peaks for health coverage (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Completion of water project on Sprague River (KF Herald & News)
New One West Main building in Medford opens (Medford Tribune)
Medford may foreclosure on abandoned houses (Medford Tribune)
Medford may allow alcohol into city park (Medford Tribune)
Washington Co traffic turning nightmarish (Portland Oregonian)
New West Salem boundaries set (Salem Statesman Journal)

Pot tax revenues projected at $636m (Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Reviewing Supreme Court decision on schools (Bremerton Sun)
Oso area highway back to full speed soon (Everett Herald)
Shelter may provide only food, fewer beds (Longview News)
Longview city manager Bob Gregory retires (Longview News)
State employee union works on new pay level (Olympian)
Seqium employee union ballot issue in court (Port Angeles News)
Tunnel work continues as Bertha sits still (Seattle Times)
Spokane diocese sues its own lawyers (Spokane Spokesman)
New earthquake detection system developed (Tacoma News Tribune)
Land developer, Vancouver port go at it (Vancouver Columbian)
Inactive Pot shops may lose place on list (Vancouver Columbian)
Moxee nutrient plans fined (Yakima Herald Republic)

On Scotland, and tribal implications

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

What about Scotland? Will it vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom or go its own way? And, could this be a future for tribal nations?

Thursday’s vote — a simple “yes” or “no” — is the ultimate question and answer in democratic form. Should we be our own country?

Should we? Rarely do citizens get to vote “yes” or “no.” Most of human history is about the war that follows such outrageous demands. We spend lives trying to answer that a question, fought by those who are willing to die (and kill) to prove their authority.

That’s what’s remarkable about Scotland. This independence movement and the alternative (which is yet to be defined) is based on individual sovereignty expressed on a ballot. The draft constitution says elegantly: “In Scotland, the people are sovereign.”

I was in Aberdeen in 2009 for a conference on sovereignty and saw this movement first-hand. I talked to people who were enthusiastic about Scottish Gaelic being taught alongside English. There already was a sense of national purpose, rethinking what a country could and should be in the 21st century.

The notion of “devolution,” or returning power to Scotland, has been unfolding since a new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, fulfilled his election promise. The Scottish Act of 1998 provided the legislative structure. Blair told BBC that devolution would “show the whole of the United Kingdom that there is a better way that Britain can be governed, that we can bring power closer to the people, closer to the people's priorities and that we can give Scotland the ability to be a proud nation within the United Kingdom.”

A lot of folks hoped that would be that. Scotland would have “enough” power. Or to use that clunky phrase from American Indian law, be a “quasi sovereign.”

Not quite sovereign. And not quite free. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Big Oregon news was something relatively routine and simply tracking with existing state law: An increase in the state minimum wage, to $9.25 an hour. Oregon continues behind Washington as having the second-highest minimum wage in the country. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian supported the increase, but it essentially followed the guidelines set up in state law, requiring that increases occur alongside inflationary costs of living.

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)

Cool wet weather may affect potato crop (IF Post Register)
Wildfires roar near highway 12 (Lewiston Tribune)
Few attend guns on campus meeting (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Will Idaho gay marriage law hit Surpeme Court? (Moscow News)
Middleton launches it own police (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa may create food co-op (Nampa Press Tribune)
School supplemental levies common in Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune)
Simpson, Labrador oppose Obama arms plan (TF Times News)
Idaho minimum wage half of living wage (TF Times News)

Natural Grocers opens store at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Avakian wants Oregon minimum wage raise (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Eugene reconsiders YMCA land deal (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT trustees officially installed (KF Herald & News)
Smoke from wildfires may stay in air (Medford Tribune)
Does Umatilla adult moratorium violate constitution? (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Lewis & Clark legal clinic closing (Portland Oregonian)
Legislature works on college affordability (Salem Statesman Journal)
State home aid program funding set (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reid, last big Kitsap indie realtor, bought (Bremerton Sun)
Ferry offload gets left turn lane (Bremerton Sun)
Kennewick won't launch Christian prayer (Kennewick Herald)
Massive Kelso pot organization outlined (Longview News)
Thurston jail negotiation end may be near (Olympian)
Massive Navy scan of private data, conviction tossed (Seattle Times)
Still slow going for marijuana stores (Seattle Times)
It's no longer a SWAT team in Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Kokanee fishing running strong (Spokane Spokesman)
Report: 10% online gun sales to ineligibles (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Clark County trailing in economic renewal (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima wine harvest breaks new record (Yakima Herald Republic)
Pacific Power seeks 9.5% residential raise (Yakima Herald Republic)

Idaho’s own political dynasty

peterson MARTIN
PETERSON
 

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns’ series on the Roosevelts. They were the most influential American political dynasty of the twentieth century, which is something when you consider that we also had the Kennedys and the Bushes.

But Idaho has had its own political dynasty. A family that, by nearly any measure, has been the most influential political family in Idaho’s relatively brief history. Even those who have heard of it are generally not aware of its extent. It is a family tree that, examined in detail, includes such notables as Governors Robert Smylie and Cecil Andrus and Senator Frank Church. It is also a family that, while heavily Democratic, also includes some influential Republicans.

The tree begins with the arrival of Joseph Addison Clark in Idaho in 1885. He became the first mayor of Idaho Falls, serving from 1900-02. He ran unsuccessfully for governor on the Prohibition ticket in 1904. Two of his sons, Barzilla and Chase, also served as mayors of Idaho Falls. He had a third son, David, who did not hold elective office, but needs to be mentioned because of others in his line of the Clark family who did become major players in state and national politics.

Barzilla Clark served two terms on the Idaho Falls city council and was elected mayor in 1913, serving a single term. He was elected governor in 1936 and served a single two-year term. His daughter Lois married Merlin Young, who served as a state district judge before being appointed federal bankruptcy judge for Idaho. The Young’s daughter Patricia, a state magistrate judge, married Byron Johnson, and Idaho supreme court justice.

Chase Clark served two terms in the Idaho legislature representing Custer County. When his brother Barzilla resigned as mayor of Idaho Falls to become governor, Chase succeeded him as mayor. He was elected governor in 1942 and served a single two-year term. Following his term as governor, he was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Roosevelt. His daughter Bethine married Boise attorney Frank Church, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1956 and served through 1980. The Church’s son, Chase, was married to Kelly Andrus, daughter of Governor Cecil Andrus and they have two children. (more…)

Jeanne Buell’s ads

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Few Idahoans know Jeanne Buell. She lives outside Worley, just off of Highway 95 as one heads south towards Plummer. She is the vice chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, has long labored in the trenches working hard to advance the principles that guide Democrats. She tells-it-like-it-is mincing no words, thereby endearing herself because of candor.

She has decided its time to hang up the bridle and put the saddle on a saw horse. She wants to spend more time with her grandchildren. As she exits, though, she is taking one last shot at the idiocy of Idaho Republicans who are being led down the path to mediocrity by a governor and a legislature unbelievably out-of-touch with the real world.

She conceived and is the driving force behind four “generic” ads demonstrating how bad things are in Idaho. At her own expense she paid for the script writing and production of the ad concepts, had dozens of dvd’s made and sent them off to numerous political action committees (PAC’s) pointing out what an inexpensive media buy the markets that cover Idaho are.

Jeanne is inviting these PAC’s to “invest in Idaho” where a little bit of money can go a long ways, i.e., they’ll have a much better return on their investment and can really make a difference.

Working with her good friend, former Kootenai county State Senator MaryLou Reed, they came up with four generic ads lampooning and spearing several of the mind-boggling pieces of legislation passed in the last session and signed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Following all the applicable rules, Jeanne is also making the generic ads available to Democratic candidates in Idaho who can easily “Idahoize” the ads and get them on the airwaves.

The first ad goes after the mentality that saw passage of the “Ag/Gag” law. Set aside that the courts will declare this one unconstitutional. Just imagine the reactions of others across this nation, especially the numerous dog and cat owners. It was easy to find on YouTube footage of a dog being beaten to death, a cat being tortured, a horse being starved. The narrator (a former North Idaho Collge prof) says “in Idaho the person filming this travesty is guilty of a greater crime than the one committing the travesty. Whose interests does this serve?” (more…)

On the front pages

news

The blitz fire at Weed in California was a major news story around the Northwest, not only in the newspapers around southwest Oregon (the communities around Medford are only about an hour away, and quickly sent a good deal of help southward) but also further away. The super-hot and super-fast blaze wiping out about 100 buildings hit close to home in a northwest that has seen its share of wildfires this summer, including a number edging uncomfortably close to communities. And isn't done with its wildfires yet.

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)

PERSI recipients getting a pay bump (Boise Statesman)
Boise city, Community House end lawsuit (Boise Statesman)
Ybarra campaign struggling (IF Post Register)
IF council starts strategic planning (IF Post Register)
Schweitzer Laboratories, Pullman, has new CEO (Lewiston Tribune)
Big board changes on board of St. Joe's (Lewiston Tribune)
Labrador bill hit police militarization (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bear Lake dress code under dispute (Pocatello Journal)
Ketchum city urges easing back on wolves (TF Times News)
Magic Valley 911 dispatch has high turnover (TF Times News)

Eugene sets heat record this summer (Eugene Register Guard)
Battle over sick leave may go statewide (Eugene Register Guard)
Salmon at Klamath face die-off (KF Herald & News)
Weed wildfire wipes out town (Medford Tribune)
Campaign to register voters launched (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla set adult business moratorium (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oracle tries to move case to federal court (Portland Oregonian)
Efforts increase to contain Estacada fire (Portland Oregonian)
Estimate: third of area homeless mentally ill (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton considers restoring ML King road (Bremerton Sun)
Salaries go up for Kitsap Transit (Bremerton Sun)
Big pot operation at Kelso busted (Longview News)
Cowlitz County will watch coal dust from trains (Longview News)
Retail pot in WA beginning to prosper (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Thurston County may see budget freeze (Olympian)
Move of Enchanted Chalet completed (Port Angeles News)
Seattle considers building tax for affordables (Seattle Times)
New railroad bridge sought at Sandpoint (Spokane Spokesman)
A co-UW/WSU med school partnership? (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark County makes new fireworks zones (Vancouver Columbian)
Cantwell blasts 'Redskins' name (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima's council backs election by district (Yakima Herald Republic)

ISIS and the talkers

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

One of my secret character flaws is occasionally getting a deep and continuous chuckle out of someone’s political discomfort. Oh, not real people. I mean the hate-mongers and loonies on the far right. Or left.

Such is the case these days noting the very untypical near-silence and even greater-than-usual oral confusion of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity and their fellow travelers. They’re absolutely flummoxed and having a most difficult time trying to attack the President. The source of their confusion seems to be - ISIS. Anything to do with ISIS.

They want to heap scorn, criticism and verbal garbage on those in the White House. As is their usual bent. They want to loudly claim the administration is charging off in the wrong direction. But none of them - not one - has landed a blow. They’re as totally tongue-tied as the rest of us when it comes to trying to figure out what to do with this latest, most murderous turn in our world.

Oh, they blather and posture and exhibit the same kind of flatulence we’ve come to expect. But they’re even further off-target with their specious rambling than usual.

Same on the far left. None of the usual suspects over there has managed much more than a whimper about “homicidal psychopaths.” The videos of beheadings and executions have taken this latest outrage against the civilized world to such extremes that even the most accommodating ultra-liberal can’t muster much more than a “tsk tsk.”

This absence of informed criticism and our so far restrained response to ISIS seems to me three-fold. One - the extreme cruelty and seeming lack of any sort of conscience in these murderers is so stunning and such an affront to an otherwise civilized world that it knocks the mental wind out of us. They commit the sorts of acts we’ve learned of in ancient history classes. It’s the stuff of video games and violent movies. Not real life. We just can’t get our heads around it.

A second reason, I believe, for our failure at the moment to have a national response - other than extreme revulsion - is how to respond. What can you do? What actions can you take? When such a merciless adversary is inviting you onto the battlefield in hopes of killing more of our youth in frenzied battle, do you take the bloody challenge and show up? Or, do you gather your best advisors and try to create a civilized - and more traditional - reaction?

The fact is ISIS presents such an unorthodox and merciless enemy that even the military is somewhat stunned. They aren’t teaching “ISIS-101" at West Point or Annapolis. Our cadets and midshipmen aren’t learning how to deal with beheadings, mass executions and slaughter of any and all people ISIS hates. Which seems to be all the rest of us. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Top Washington story is the growing (emerging) battle between the University of Washington and Washington State University over WSU's proposal to establish its own medical school.

The idea has an extravagant ring to it but the bigger-picture justification could be there. UW's well-regarded school is hemmed in for growth, limited in its expansion options at a time when projections suggest a need for greater numbers of physicians around the Northwest. The niche would be a med school aimed more strictly at training physicians, leaving most of the advanced research (for which UW is well known) at Seattle. The training element need is becoming clearer with time. Idaho State University leaders have discussed the idea of a med school there, and although that project may be a heavy lift for the smaller institution and state, it reflects real needs and pressures. The WSU project may have enough force to carry it at least to early stages of development.

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)

Radar may help avoid elk crashes on 75 (Boise Statesman)
NW Boise annexation battle ahead (Boise Statesman)
Lewiston considers possible park ideas (Lewiston Tribune)
State panel considers teacher pay levels (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah gets an armored vehicle from Bonner (Moscow News)
40 places in Pullman may be historic-designated (Moscow News)
Carl's Jr gets contentious parking variance (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing high school-college dual credit (Nampa Press Tribune)
Balukoff staff pay arrangement found legal (TF Times News)
Reviewing TF's dangerous intersections (TF Times News)

Eugene schools ask for levy support (Eugene Register Guard)
Onion fire near Grants Pass grows (Medford Tribune)
Corps ends review of coal terminal (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Estacada fire yield lots of smoke (Portland Oregonian)
Cover Oregon error smaller than expected (Portland Oregonian)
Hillcrest younth prison may shut down (Salem Statesman Journal)
Food companies against anti-GMO measure (Salem Statesman Journal)

Overtime for firefighters hits budget (Bremerton Sun)
Grant brings more dental service to Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
UW blasts plan for WSU med school (Spokane Spokesman, Kennewick Herald)
Small towns worry about more train traffic (Longview News)
Smoke covers NW Oregon (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
WA state revenues continue rising (Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
Thurston Energy gives conservation rebates (Olympian)
Amazon plans $1 data center in Ohio (Seattle Times)
On a push to build casinpo in Bremerton (Seattle Times)
Twisp area rebuilds progressing (Spokane Spokesman)
Concerns about lowering Lake Pend Oreille (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver looks at new fire station sites (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark Co fair audit yields mixed report (Vancouver Columbian)

Eyes on District 15

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Sen. Fred Martin of Boise belongs to an exclusive club.

He is the only Republican senator living in the Boise city limits, which is surprising considering Idaho’s status as one of the reddest of the red states.

So while Idaho is decidedly Republican, Boise is ruled by Democrats. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, a former Democratic legislator, has been in office since 2003. More recently, Brian Cronin – another former Democratic legislator – easily won election to the Boise School Board. The only areas where Democrats may have a stronger foothold are Districts 26 (which includes the Sun Valley area) and 29 (Bannock County).

It didn’t used to be that way. “Twenty years ago, there were three elected legislative Democrats in Ada County; six years ago there were six and now there are 12,” Martin said.

Granted, there are more legislative districts in Ada County than in years past. But there’s no question that Democrats have made some impressive gains over the years, and especially in Boise. Nine seats in three Boise districts (16, 17 and 18) all were held by Republicans years ago. Now, all seats are held by Democrats. District 17, once considered a “swing” district, has no Republicans challenging the Democratic incumbents.

The legislative makeup in Boise has significant implications statewide – and they can be viewed positively or negatively, depending on your political outlook. Democrats, working with moderate Republicans, help turn back calls for the repeal of Obamacare and secure the vote for an Idaho-operated state health exchange. The coalition keeps alive concepts such as Common Core education standards and opens the possibility for Medicare expansion, which has been endorsed by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Democrats help keep the pressure on more funding for education and draw greater attention to a sagging economy and low wages.

If those nine legislative seats in Boise were held by conservative Republicans, Rep. Scott Bedke of Oakley probably would not be the speaker of the House and Gov. Butch Otter would be without his best (if not his only) ally in House leadership. (more…)

In the Briefings

biggs bridge

 
The US 97 Biggs Rapids-Sam Hill Bridge, though only 51 years old, is starting to show its age in the form of peeling paint and rust. Starting in summer 2014, we'll clean and paint the structure to preserve it for the years ahead. (photo/Department of Transportation)

 

You would think this will be a big issue in the legislative races, which really are where the action is in Washington politics this year: The Washington Supreme Court holding the legislature in contempt on education spending. Democrats and Republicans hold distinctly different responses to this, and it ought to be a useful subject for voters to consider. Maybe for that reason, much of the response on the legislative side so far has been, well, a little muted.

Wildfires are not yet done; Oregon was the only Northwest state still listed by the National Interagency Fire Center as having large wildfires unresolved as of the end of last week. More will be coming next week.

On the front pages

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)

Dog training sought for cops (Boise Statesman)
Caldwell starts rebrnading program (Nampa Press Tribune)
Environmental groups may sue over wolves (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho increasing faster on obesity (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing Magic Valley's missing persons (TF Times News)
After 26 yrs, Kelly's Restaurant closes (TF Times News)
Balukoff staffing accounting draws fiire (TF Times News)

Medford looks to its NE, SE as growth areas (Medford Tribune)
Medford looks to clean up Bear Creek (Medford Tribune)
Lloyd Center ice rink may be scale back (Portland Oregonian)
Major wildfire near Estacada (Portland Oregonian)
Salem considers restricting outdoor smoking (Salem Statesman Journal)
Legislative days this week at statehouse (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton leaders oppose new casino (Bremerton Sun)
Kilmer goes after VA health issues (Bremerton Sun)
State sales tax hurts on inequality (Longview News)
I-5 traffic jam doesn't happpen (Olympian)
Port Angeles considering city utility rates (Port Angeles News)
WA businesses concerned about Im-Ex funding (Seattle Times)
Fewer hospital charity cases unde Obamacare (Seattle Times)
I-90 freeway lighting replaced near Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
502, linking I-5 and Battle Ground, progresses (Vancouver Columbian)
Conflict over gun initiative at local level (Vancouver Columbian)