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Posts published in September 2014

Ds and Rs on one side . . .

idaho RANDY

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.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

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)

Just a little copying

idaho RANDY

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. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

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)

About a flaming hour

carlson CHRIS


Idaho has produced a number of officeholders and office-seekers who met untimely deaths, either in plane or auto crashes, or job accidents.

All had potential to grow and might have been quite successful. In two cases, that of Jim McClure’s and Cecil Andrus’, the deaths of their chief rivals cleared the way for them to become two of Idaho’s greatest office-holders, leaving one to wonder how the state’s political history might have changed.

In an odd quirk of fate, three of the *seven were from Kellogg: John Mattmiller, Vern Lannen and Jerry Blackbird. Mattmiller died in a plane crash while trying to land in the fog at the Kellogg airport in 1966. At the time he was the clear favorite to win the First District Republican Congressional nomination and would have probably won in November.

His death cleared the way for a Payette attorney named Jim McClure to win the primary and go on to a solid career that included 18 years in the Senate and chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources committee.

State Senator Vern Lannen, a big, gregarious logger who enjoyed working in north Idaho’s forests, died in a logging accident in 1986. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created in 1979 by the untimely death at the age of 34 of State Senator Jerry Blackbird.

Of the three from Shoshone County, Jerry Blackbird showed the most promise of achieving higher office. He was good, smart and charismatic. He was marked as a real comer when in his freshman session he authored and then shepherded through the Legislature a bill reforming log scaling to give the logger and the trucker a more fair share.

Needless to say, he defeated all the state’s major timber companies and their lobbbyists.

Several Boise observers saw the young Cecil Andrus in Jerry and thought he might easily win the Idaho governorship some day. Andrus has a saying about learning “through the school of hard knocks.” Jerry was certainly familiar with that.

Jerry is the subject of a loving yet unsparing and brutally honest memoir, One Flaming Hour, published this week by Ridenbaugh Press and written by his brother, Mike Blackbird, also a former Senator from Shoshone County (he succeeded Lannen and served three terms).

Jerry Blackbird was a true American hero. Over the course of 12 months in Vietnam he flew an incredible 1400 medivac emergency helicopter extraction missions. He won two Distinguish Flying Crosses and numerous other medals for valor and courage. Almost all his missions were “under fire’ especially in the landing zones.

He returned to an America that even in Kellogg was turning against the war and did not value his sacrifice. He started drinking heavily, his marriage failed, he couldn’t hold and keep jobs for long and candidly was well on the road to hell and self-destruction.

His letters home (which easily fill half the book) document his growing disgust with the war and the needless sacrifice of too many Marines and soldiers who gave their last full measure for a political war run by political generals and one of the most political presidents in American history, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was obsessed with body counts.

One early sub-zero morning he was hitch-hiking on I-90 in Montana trying to get back to his job in a mine near Kellogg. He experienced what brother Mike calls his “road to Damascus” moment (Alluding to St. Paul being blinded by Jesus Christ who is asking the then named Saul why is he persecuting the Lord’s followers.) (more…)

Remembering Hopper


Wallace St

Saturday, Sept. 13, would have been Robert Dwayne Hopper's 75th birthday.

For those new here, or with short-term memories, Robert Hopper was owner and managing partner of the legendary Bunker Hill Mine in Kellogg, Idaho, from 1990 until his death in January 2011. He was an Elk, a Mason, a self-educated genius, and my dearest friend.

We met by happenstance in 1999 when a former colleague from the Coeur d'Alene Press who was working on the Milo Creek flood control project told me of this guy who had bought Bunker Hill, was making colloidal silver, and had just put the lie to the whole EPA Superfund fiasco in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin.

As to colloidal silver, try it sometime on a burn, or inhale a few drops to end your sinusitis: Silver is nature's oldest known bacteriacide.

No, despite the propaganda from Big Pharma, it won't turn you purple unless you chug a gallon of it every day. In jigger-sized daily doses it fights all kinds of disease, and over time even seems to give viruses a run for their lives. Big Pharma hates colloidal silver because you can't patent an element and charge a royalty for it.

Bob Hopper knew this, and many, many other things. His giant intellect inhaled knowledge and could not resist curiosity.

When the EPA-instigated “mining-caused lead pollution” debate in the Silver Valley was raging and every mining company was being sued to bankruptcy, it led him to postulate: If this is a lead-mining district, it's because there is lead here and has been for quite awhile. Where might one find a place where the normal, pre-mining “background levels” of lead might be found?

Simple answer: The Sacred Heart Mission at Cataldo, Idaho, chinked with mud from the Coeur d'Alene River and built between 1850 and 1853 – 35 years before lead-mining began here. He obtained permission to sample mud-chinking still in place from the Mission's original construction, split the samples from these tiny injections and sent them to two independent laboratories.

The results astounded even Bob Hopper, who was not easily astounded. The lead levels in the Mission's original mud were as high or higher than the levels the EPA was attacking and suing mining companies for.

Here's where the story gets funny. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Eberle will leave Boise city council (Boise Statesman)
Yellowstone models possible 'supereruption' (IF Post Register)
Blast near old Teton Dam went well (IF Post Register)
Odyssey charter school revoked; no appeal (IF Post Register)
WA Supreme Court holds legislature in contempt (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU regents considering medical school (Moscow News)
Bolz running for CWI trustee (Nampa Press Tribune)
TF downtown stores seek more lenient parking (TF Times News)
Megic Valley emergency dispatch understaffed (TF Times News)

UO's different kind of presidential search (Eugene Register Guard)
Adding new names to Klamath 911 memorial (KF Herald & News)
Police shooting found justified (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston will map crime hot spots (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Emmanuel Community Services leader takes leave (Portland Oregonian)
Cover Oregon tax mistake hits Marion hard (Salem Statesman Journal)

WA Supreme Court hold legislature in contempt (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
WSU may build medical school (Spokane Spokesman, Kennewick Herald)
Engineering cranks up again at vit plan (Kennewick Herald)
PETA plans anti-hunting signs at Longview (Longview News)
Children hit with severe respiratory disease (Seattle Times, Olympian)
Well contamination issues at Liberty Lake (Spokane Spokesman)
State fires set 1-year acreage record (Tacoma News Tribune)
Wind cuts power at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Uneasy transition to e-medical records (Yakima Herald Republic)

ACA is worth debating

trahant MARK


Newsflash: Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act. Of course they can’t even call it that; it’s only “Obamacare.” A word that’s pronounced with a sneer, derision and contempt.

Ok. That’s not news. The message about how evil the Affordable Care Act was branded around the fiftieth time that House Republicans voted for repeal.

But how does it stand as an election issue? Should candidates run on the merits of the Affordable Care Act?

If the question is asked and answered as a political one, then probably not. The law is still not all that popular.

A poll released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation reflects that unpopularity. “Registered voters are more likely to have an unfavorable view of the ACA than a favorable one (49 percent versus 35 percent),” Kaiser reports. “Opinion tilts even more negative among likely voters1 (51 percent versus 35 percent).”

But the health care law is also not as a big deal with voters as it was a few months ago. “Asked to name in their own words the two most important issues in deciding their vote for Congress, the most frequently-mentioned issue is the economy and jobs (21 percent),” according to Kaiser. “Thirteen percent of voters name health care as a top issue, including just 3 percent who specifically mention the Affordable Care Act. Those who view the law favorably are about equally likely to mention health care as a top issue in their vote as are those with an unfavorable view (12 percent versus 15 percent).

I would suspect that Indian Country is no exception to this polling. Most of the people I have talked to are not keen on the paperwork associated with the Affordable Care Act and don’t like the idea that insurance will be a major funding source for the Indian health system.

That’s an notion that makes sense — unless you consider the alternative. The alternative is nothing. There is no plan from those advocating repeal to improve funding for the Indian health system. (One funding test for Indian health will come from the House Continuing Resolution budget, a short-term spending bill, and those details are expected shortly.)

There are important questions that should be asked of every candidate: If you support repeal, then what happens to the funding mechanisms for Indian health? How will that money be replaced in this austere climate? I have asked many Republicans running for office across the country and I have yet to hear one single satisfactory answer. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Payette Brewery (Garden City) poised to grow (Boise Statesman)
IF sees enterovirus cases (IF Post Register)
Hobby Lobby may open store at Ammon (IF Post Register)
Hixon said to have misused campaign funds (Nampa Press Tribune)
Panera Bread Bakery may build in Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bottled water only in Raft River for now (TF Times News)

NW pot producers will need mroe electricity (Corvallis Gazette)
More new school students than were expected (Corvallis Gazette)
Parts of Oregon at high fire danger (Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene city hall work closes some offices (Eugene Register Guard)
Unveiling new Made in Oregon on 5th street (Eugene Register Guard)
Running Y ranch may see major upgrades (KF Herald & News)
Oregon schools test scores released Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian
Question raised on prison inmate shooting (Portland Oregonian)
South Salem park plan draws neighbor critics (Salem Statesman Journal)

New state ferries chief chosen (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Bremerton Sun)
Changes in funding for Sheldon Senate race (Bremerton Sun)
Cowlitz, Wahkiakum approve garbage deal (Longview News)
Olympia church starts homeless shelter (Olympian)
Pot grow site will be assessed (Port Angeles News)
Senate challenge also backs zombie TV show (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver councils considers blocking oil (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima reconsiders massage licenses (Yakima Herald Republic)