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Posts published in September 2014

East and west

idaho RANDY

The top Washington news story in the early part of last week was the growing (emerging) battle between the University of Washington and Washington State University over WSU’s proposal to establish its own medical school. And it did seem to be settling into a battle.

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.

Maybe in part because WSU has developed some broad statewide reach – much broader than UW. In addition to its very substantial mother ship campus at Pullman, it has a large operation at the Tri-Cities, and more operations at Spokane, Vancouver and Everett – really, just about all of the corners of the state except for west off the Puget Sound.

The University of Washington, by contrast, has – despite its overall larger size and very large central campus at Seattle – major outposts only at Tacoma and Bothell, just a few miles away. Its reach is more within a metro area, than it is statewide.

That may not seem to have much to do with whether WSU gets a med school, but it could in terms of generating statewide support for the proposition.

Then, link it – coordinate it – closely with the major UW school (which of course no one would want to see diminished), and the whole could become larger than the pieces.

This doesn't have to be a battle. Shouldn't be.

On the front pages


The transfer of Spokane's Catholic bishop, Blase Cupich, to become archbishop at the country's third-largest archdiocese at Chicago, got some coverage in Sunday's papers but not as prominently as might have been expected. (There was some Saturday as well.) Cupich was often described as, in the context of higher-level church leaders, a middle-roader, generally sticking to official Vatican policy but urging a low-key and calm approach to those who disagree. That could be an indicator of where the church's leadership may be headed at the moment.

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)

Reviewing Spokane archbishop move to Chicago (Boise Statesman)
High tech startup companies in Boise (IF Post Register)
Lawmakers comment on Luna budget plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa tries to grow a night life (Nampa Press Tribune)
Muslims prepare to open Pocatello mosque (Pocatello Journal)
Were other cities invoiced for roads by Pocatello? (Pocatello Journal)
20/20 Produce signs major contract (TF Times News)

One more vote to city hall decision (Eugene Register Guard)
Possible biofuels plant for Lakeview (KF Herald & News)
Profiling governor candidate Richardson (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing congressional races in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Investigating a whistleblower's tale (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem considers pot shop rules (Salem Statesman Journal)

Jefferson jail makes med mistakes (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing speeding up to meet 787 demand (Everett Herald)
Longview sued over tap water quality (Longview News)
Concerns about spraying in Willapa Bay (Longview News)
WA considers app for remote doctor's visit (Longview News)
Shoe seller leaving downtown Olympia (Olympian)
Port Angeles utility rates may rise (Port Angeles News)
Debate over language in gun initiative (Seattle Times)
Reviewing ID superintent schools race (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma art museum sees expansion plan (Tacoma News Tribune)
Hospitals seeing less charity care (Tacoma News Tribune)
Reviewing ways to deal with problem cops (Vancouver Columbian)
Wenatchee tries downtown public market (Yakima Herald Republic)
Reviewing archbishop move Spokane to Chicago (Yakima Herald Republic)

Who gives, who gets

idaho RANDY

This is a call to do your own political investigations.

If you have an Internet connection, you can do it from where you are right now.

In the next few weeks you'll see more news stories about campaign finance contributions and spending, since reporting deadlines are coming up. For Idaho state races, campaign finance reports – the “pre-general” - will be due at the Secretary of State's office on October 10. (The next after that will be due October 28.) For federal, congressional, races, the next big one, the quarterly report, will be due at the Federal Election Commission on October 15. Spend a little time looking these over, and you can track the money trail yourself .

I spend some time each cycle checking out this information. You can too.

The secretary of state's web site has an old-fashioned look, but the information is there and easy to get. Go to, which is about statewide constitutional offices, legislature and political action committees (and spending on ballot issues too). The information base here really is massive, covering elections back to 2000. Lobbyist reporting information is available through this page too.

The state database, allowing for name lookups and the like, is only available through 2012. But scanned copies of the reports filed by the candidates are available right away; click on the “2014” link. Following links in the next couple of pages takes you to pdf scanned copies of candidate reports. At present, the most recent are the “post-primary” reports (through May); the October 10 reports, which will bring the money picture up to present, should be available before a month from now.

Pull a candidate's scanned report and you get what looks a little like a tax form, with spaces filled in with numbers, names and, often, addresses. You'll see the amounts raised and spent (and still in the bank), and individual donors and recipients. In the most recent report for Otter for Governor, for example, you find donor number one was Paul Anderson of Potlatch, who donated $100; he was followed by CenturyLink Idaho PAC at $5,000, and on down through the pages. Some of the names are familiar, some not, but all are linked to the campaign with cash.

The official place for federal – congressional this year, but including presidential – campaign reports is the Federal Election Commission, through their “disclosure portal” at (more…)

On the front pages


Enterovirus has become a substantial halth issue around the Northwest, and it was the biggest news story in Washington today. (There have been major headlines this week about instances in Oregon and Idaho too.) It isn't new. Wikipedia notes that "Enteroviruses affect millions of people worldwide each year, and are often found in the respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) and stool of an infected person. Historically, poliomyelitis was the most significant disease caused by an enterovirus, poliovirus." We may be seeing more specificity in future reports, since the term "enterovirus" covers a lot of territory.

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)

Redfish Lake fish numbers rising (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Several treasurer's issues cleared (Boise Statesman)
St Joe's hospital may sever from parent (Lewiston Tribune)
Silver says treasurer questions remain (Moscow News)
Old UI Pike House will be demolished (Moscow News)
Audit finds treasurer problems corrected (Nampa Press Tribune)
More discussion about tiered teacher licenses (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon Co land use lawsuit dismissed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho income still behind rest of nation (Pocatello Journal)
Democrats encouraging Latino voting (TF Times News)

UO gets $10 million donation for structure (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene cops sting many sex predators (Eugene Register Guard)
State and Klamath battling over water rules (KF Herald & News)
Pot shop dealer on probation (Medford Tribune)
PGG ends retail business, searches for buyer (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Gas prices may be dropping (Portland Oregonian)
NE Portland pot dispensary location opposed (Portland Oregonian)
Scammers hitting mid-valley area hard (Salem Statesman Journal)

Restoration of some Sound waterways (Bremerton Sun)
Kitsap Co begins its budget discussions (Bremerton Sun)
Findings of enterovirus in Washington (Seattle Times, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
Gas prices may fall in the fall (Longview News)
Asphalt plant operations draw objections (Olympians)
Congressional delegation supports military action (Olympian)
Seattle gets new transportation director (Seattle Times)
Nordstrom launches first store in Canada (Seattle Times)
Spokane Catholic archbishop moves to Chicago (Spokane Spokesman)

On the death of newspapering


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


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


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


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

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


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…)