Writings and observations

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)

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First Take

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.

This is an enemy you can’t bomb into submission. Napalm will take out a few. But – like cockroaches in a cheap hotel – more will crawl out of the nearest hole and the murder will continue. You can’t use tanks or traditional battlefield tactics and weaponry because there is no battlefield. Unless you count some city street, the next block down or a supermarket in an unnamed world city.

Third, whatever major national action there is behind-the-scenes is being handicapped by the public reluctance of Arab states to take up the fight. And ISIS is their fight. No one should doubt the American military and diplomatic activity that is – so far- hidden from public view. The major U.S. agencies directly responsible for coming up with a planned response are working 24/7. Count on it! But without large and total commitments from Arab nations that are or will be facing ISIS eventually, any response from this country will not eliminate the problem. It’ll just ease our national conscience that we killed a few of ‘em. Nothing more.

It’s interesting our impotent Congress is largely staying on the sidelines for this one. The same Congress that’s suing the President for “exceeding his authority” is now perfectly at ease to let him make all the decisions this time. All, that is, but McCain and Graham. Ol’ John and his sock puppet have been blasting away like a couple of drunk squirrel hunters.

Graham, especially, has taken the ignorant rhetoric further into the twilight zone this time with his “they’re-coming-to-this-country-to-kill-us” claim – stopping just short of demanding we arm boy scouts. ISIS is not a laughing matter. Graham is.

No, ISIS is most serious. You can bet no one responsible for dealing with the problem is laughing. There WILL be a response. This is as serious a situation as this nation has faced. We will respond.

Still, I have to chuckle a bit in all this as Limbaugh et al – usually claiming to have all the answers – have none this time. Their traditional foul attacks on various targets of opportunity that can’t fight back don’t work on this one. Their continual demeaning blather we’ve become accustomed to is just so much more sewage under the bridge.

You want to feel safer? Turn ‘em off!

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Rainey

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)

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First Take

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.

All that’s standing in the way of Boise being wall-to-wall with Democrats is District 15, but that could change in November. Democrat Steve Berch, making his third run for the Legislature, has the best shot at winning one of the two House seats. He is mounting an aggressive door-to-door campaign against Rep. Lynn Luker.

“It’s very humbling and gratifying knocking on doors and talking with people,” Berch said. “Nowhere – and I mean nowhere – on the list of priorities is making sure that a baker doesn’t have to bake a cake for a gay couple.”

Berch is taking a dig at Luker’s controversial religious freedom bills, which either can vault him to re-election or cost him his legislative career. Luker is betting that a turn to the right will help him with the influx of Republicans that came to District 15 after redistricting.

A lot of eyes are on District 15, because it is on the water’s edge. Idaho gets more conservative heading to the west and south. Two Democrats (Berch and Betty Richardson, who ran against Martin) came close two years ago.

Republicans, even in their heyday in Boise, were far more moderate than their counterparts in rural areas. Boise sent to the Legislature people such as Sheila Sorensen, Kitty Gurnsey, Ruby Stone and Chuck Pomeroy. In District 15, Max Black and John Andreason – two moderate Republicans – held onto their seats for two decades.

Martin is consistent with the profile of Boise Republicans who served for so many years. Luker, who boasts about being near the top of the Idaho Freedom Foundation index, does not fit the mold. Mark Patterson, a firebrand conservative who defeated Berch two years ago and resigned before finishing one term, took advantage of the district’s new Republican voters. He was replaced by Pat McDonald, who is politically closer to Martin.

Republicans are a long way from becoming a minority party even if Democrats manage to capture all seats in District 15. But holding all 12 seats in Boise would provide the Dems with significant numbers while turning up the volume on the party’s message.
“Idaho is last in the nation in average wages,” says Berch. “We’re first in the nation in percentage of minimum wage. We’re now ranked below Alabama and Mississippi in education investment. … Electing the same people does not work.”

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Malloy

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.

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Briefings

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)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

The problem – or is it an asset? – that the advocates of a top-two primary in Oregon have may be in part that the advocates are hard to easily define.

The opposition is clear enough, and it starts with both major political parties. It’s easy to understand why: The current closed primary system in Oregon gives both parties a great deal of internal control over the system and effectively shuts out people who don’t declare a membership within either. Primary election ballots for non-D and non-R voters is awfully thin.

Of course, this also has had a gradual effect of pushing each party away from each other, and of hearing less (and having to respond less) toward the large number of people in the middle, or simply on the sidelines. Add the number of people who either register as a member of no party or with the Independent Party of Oregon, and you have a third major party (in number, albeit unorganized) whose impact on state politics could be vast.

The Oregonian reported on September 12 that the backers of a top-two system received a lot of money from business-supportive people and groups, which suggests one set of possible outcomes (a broader-appealing set of Republican candidates) that some backers might like. Some of them may be looking across the state line to Washington’s 4th congressional district.

That state has a top-two system (as does California) and in the 4th, the two candidates who advance to the general election are Clint Didier, a Tea Party hard liner, and Dan Newhouse, a more centrist conservative (who was endorsed by the district’s current Republican representative, Doc Hastings). In the primary, Didier came in first, and had the parties simply selected their nominees at that point, he would have become the Republican nominee running in the fall against a Democrat; in this very Republican district, he would have won easily. Under the new system, two Republicans – Didier and Newhouse – will be running, and Newhouse has the odds since he is likely to pick up most of the non-Republican, as well as many of the Republican, votes.

Democrats may not have been thrilled about having no candidate in the 4th come November; and if Didier loses the Tea Party won’t be thrilled either. But the people in between in the 4th may be happier with their choices.

Points worth reflecting as Oregon considers in a few weeks how to structure its own primaries.

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Oregon Oregon column

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)

Fast construction again at Harris Ranch (Boise Statesman)
Will ‘Otter fatigue’ help Balukoff? (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News)
School funding varies by district (IF Post Register)
FCC subpoenas Idaho’s broadband deal (IF Post Register)
Lewiston consider large new park (Lewiston Tribune)
Caldwell celebrates C of I football return (Nampa Press Tribune)
More diverse cultures in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

Taxis complain about ride-share business (Eugene Register Guard)
Overview of Measure 91 on pot (KF Herald & News)
Possible dry winter ahead in southern Oregon (Medford Tribune)
Medford professionals study site selection (Medford Tribune)
High cost of Hep C pill treatment (Portland Oregonian)
Polk County lwa enforcement struggles (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap considers gun ranges, safety rules (Bremeton Sun)
Enchanted chalet moved 70 feet from edge (Bremeton Sun)
Cowlitz on top for criminal cases (Longview News)
Salmon returning in upper Elwha (Port Angeles News)
Pot grower pulls out of project (Port Angeles News)
Angry debate over cuts to elected pay (Port Angeles News)
Behind the probllems at Mars Hill (Seattle Times)
Service slow for mentally ill criminally charged (Seattle Times)
Spokane’s utilities leader shakes it up (Spokane Spokesman)
Closer criminal screens for county fair workers (Tacoma News Tribune)
More growth in Ridgefield (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark prosecutor candidate resume disputed (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Noted here: The quote within the next paragraph is not mine originally. I came across it in an online New Yorker piece, dated July 29.

It follows a note that the term plagiarism evolved from a gang of ancient-times Romans called the plagiarii, who were known for kidnapping slaves. The poet Martial, who made the connection, wrote, “If you allow them to be called mine, I will send you my verses gratis; if you wish them to be called yours, pray buy them, that they may be mine no longer.”

He was suggesting a level of seriousness that politicians ought to observe. Others too of course. Students have flunked out when caught cheating by way of copying. Teachers have been fired (such as, a year ago, a Brown University professor said to have used unattributed material in a book). Journalists have lost their careers. Bloggers get sued.

Some politicians have wriggled past records of plagiarizing. Russia’s Vladimir Putin got away with an extravagant 16-page copying incident because – well, who was going to nail him for it?

In this country, things are a little different. Then-Senator Joe Biden, who in 1987 had launched a credible campaign for president, saw his political advancement derailed for 20 years after he was caught using unattributed language from a British politician’s speech.

Earlier this summer, Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh was found to have, years ago in graduate school, used writing from others without attribution in one of his papers. He soon after withdrew from the Senate race. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has been accused of a string of smaller-scale unattributed copies; whatever consequences may arise from that are yet to come, but if he runs for president they will dog him and weigh him down.

That history of taking the offense seriously is one reason it has become a big deal in the Idaho superintendent of public instruction race, where Republican Sherri Ybarra’s campaign lifted about a web page’s worth of material from the site of her opponent, Democrat Jana Jones.

This rises to the truly bizarre. That Jones’s campaign wasn’t even the first to point it out (the IdahoEdNews site was) is a little surprising. Copying from obscure sources or even from personal heroes is one thing, and in most of those cases (like those of Biden, Walsh and Paul) the problem would not have arisen had they simply acknowledged the original source of the words. In the Ybarra case, even that doesn’t help: Should she acknowledge her opponent as the source to aspire to?

A speculation here on what happened: When time came (late in the cycle) for Ybarra’s campaign to develop a website, someone may have grabbed web code from Jones’ campaign site with the idea of using it as a technical framework, a starting point, with all the publicly-visible words and some of the rest of the code intended to be replaced; and then, no one followed through and did the rewrite. Probably nothing nefarious was intended. Such an error doubtless feels minor; who’s really hurt?

In this case, as a matter of politics, the copying may feed into a narrative that Ybarra’s campaign is too undisciplined, low-energy, low-effort and even sloppy to suggest competence at the level of a statewide office whose job is overseeing the public schools. It doesn’t help that Jones’ campaign has run smoothly and that her background includes serving as the chief deputy in that same office.

This incident, coming after a series of other campaigning missteps, could derail the campaign. It might not be politically fatal, but it may be.

Plagiarism is serious stuff. Ask Martial.

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Idaho Idaho column

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)

FCC investigates Idaho’s broadband deal (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Hop farmers benefiting from craft brewing (Boise Statesman)
At Mtn Home, A-10 crafts nears end of life (Boise Statesman)
Boise County sends murder case on road (IF Post Register)
WSU regents okay medical school (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WSU names building for Keith Jackson (Moscow News)
Four-way stop set for Middleton-Linden (Nampa Press Tribune)
Sportsplex Idaho names Meridian for site (Nampa Press Tribune)
Salmon Reservoir has toxic algae (TF Times News)

Lots of salmon in Columbia runs (Eugene Register Guard)
Participants try ballot issue speed deciding (Eugene Register Guard)
UO seeking smarter students (Eugene Register Guard)
Movie company boosts rural Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Canal might run under Highway 39 (KF Herald & News)
Jackson renews library operations contract (Medford Tribune)
Quake might demolissh I-5 viaduct (Medford Tribune)
Fish and game fees may rise (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Marijuana legalization debate in Portland (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
False alarm at Mt St Helens eruption (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton port may sell development property (Bremerton Sun)
Enterovirus may be spreading in Washington (Everett Herald)
Whitehorse trail near Oso may be restored (Everett Herald, Olympian)
66 pot tickets from one office may be dropped (Seattle Times)
Lt gov fined on ethics charge on band fundraisers (Seattle Times)
Spokane cops consider video strategy (Spokane Spokesman)
Work begins on Steilacoom bridge (Tacoma News Tribune)
Group fights Clark Co home rule plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Powers of C-Tran board depend on members (Vancouver Columbian)
WSU regents okay medical school (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take