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Posts published in September 2014

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)

Ombudsman sees change to public records law (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
New security kicks in at BSU football games (Boise Statesman)
More complaints about Optum Idaho Medicaid (IF Post Register)
Profiling former senator McGee (Nampa Press Tribune)
More pot grow sites found in Cassia county (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello council seeks investigative audit (Pocatello Journal)
Looking at possibility of another canyon jump (TF Times News)

Wildfire rages west of Cottage Grover (Eugene Register Guard)
Civic leaders try to raise stadium funds (Eugene Register Guard)
Bates-Dotterrer race may be costly (Medford Tribune)
Lots of electricity for pot grown indoors (Portland Oregonian)
The thinness of restraining orders (Salem Statesman Journal)

Tree farm trails may proliferate (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing to revamp Paine Field production space (Everett Herald)
Cities will get charged more for jail costs (Everett Herald)
University battle over tri-city med programs (Kennewick Herald)
Debate over new West Main St in Kelso (Longview News)
Corrections whistleblowers claim retaliation (Olympian)
Microsoft hoping Windows 9 will be game changer (Seattle Times)
Reviewing solar power gains in WA (Seattle Times)
Reviewing status of aquifer beneath Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Lewis-McChord soliders sent to east Asia (Tacoma News Tribune)
Criticisms of Vancouver SWAT force (Vancouver Columbian)
State transportation plan draft nearly out (Vancouver Columbian)
Massage parlor raids yield 6 arrests (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima hospitals could consolidate (Yakima Herald Republic)
Questions over sheriff's discipline records (Yakima Herald Republic)

Underground school support

idaho RANDY

Here's a concept to get your mind around: On-line physical education in schools. That is, taught from outside of school. Or something.

This unlikely idea surfaced at the Lapwai School District after voters there on August 26 turned down a quarter-million dollar one-year levy. It wasn't close; just 41 percent of voters approved it. It was the second recent levy failure, after voters rejected a larger one in May.

Afterward, District Superintendent David Aiken said the effects will include elimination of in-person physical education. The school gym and equipment will remain available but, he told the Lewiston Tribune, “the teacher is on the other side of the computer.”

Try for a moment to imagine how well this is going to work.

Threats to athletics traditionally have been one of the last-ditch and most successful maneuvers to get patrons to cough up additional school money, but the Lapwai example suggests that in Idaho, at least in some places, even that isn't enough.

Levies and bonds failed in a number of other places as well, but Lapwai was one of the few places in Idaho where a financing proposal failed to pull well over 50 percent of the vote. That's all most levies need to pass, but bonds (because of longer-term indebtedness) require two thirds. In Lapwai, a majority opposed the tax increase. In how many other districts last month was that true?

Voters in just one district passed bond issues with the required two-thirds-plus: New Plymouth. But others cleared the 50 percent mark, sometimes easily. West Ada (formerly Meridian) proposed a truly massive bond measure, $104 million for a range of projects broad enough voters could be forgiven for not wrapping their minds around all of them. The bond plan failed – but it picked up 63 percent of the vote, a strong majority. (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)

Middleton council member faces sex charge (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Natural gas costs rising again (Boise Statesman)
Concerns about explosion at Teton Dam site (IF Post Register)
State denied dismissal of ag-gag suit (IF Post Register)
Luna talks about pay raises in department (Lewiston Tribune)
Students back, lots of Moscow cop calls (Moscow News)
Palouse found to have nuisance nematodes (Moscow News)
College of Idaho Coyotes football is back (Nampa Press Tribune)
Middleton drops sheriff contract (Nampa Press Tribune)
New York play named for Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
State panel will consider teacher pay (TF Times News)
New state Republican leaders seeks end to fights (TF Times News)

Big brush fire threatens Corvallis homes (Corvallis Gazette)
Director of old Majestic Theatre resigns (Corvallis Gazette)
Veneta call center adds 100 employees (Eugene Register Guard)
Groups discuss elections reforms in OR (Eugene Register Guard)
Court review stops klamath water shutoff (KF Herald & News)
Kitzhaber proposes splitting up Cover Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
OR-7 and pups determined to be all wolf (Medford Tribune)
Deal reached on Monsanto wheat release (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Exchange miscalculated some tax benefits (Portland Oregonian)

State cuts mobile home dealer license (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish pays $575 in public records suit (Everett Herald)
Snohomish reviews finance employee actions (Everett Herald)
Lots of bicycle thefts this summer (Olympian)
Tree-crash survivors win $10m from state (Seattle Times)
Ben Burr bike trail at Spokane nearly done (Spokane Spokesman)
State prepaid tuition financially recovers (Tacoma News Tribune)
Rivers proposes new pot bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima looks to grow its mental health court (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima attorney disbarred (Yakima Herald Republic)

Crapo and the veterans

carlson CHRIS


Idaho’s senior senator, Mike Crapo, spent a large part of the August Congressional recess listening to Idaho’s veterans. He deserves genuine kudos for doing so, especially when one realizes he is neither a veteran nor a member of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs committee.

Asked if there was something in particular that had motivated the interest, such as a member of his extended family who was ill-served by the VA, an aide replied “nope.” The aide said it was a function more of the senator having encountered too many stories of average citizens who had served their country not being treated in a manner consistent with their service and sacrifice.

Additionally, with national attention focusing on the deficiencies of many VA hospitals around the country, the senator saw Congress typically reacting with a “just throw more money at the problem approach.”

Not necessarily doubting that in some instances more money might help, the senator, who soon may be in a position to chair the Finance committee when (not if, folks) the Republicans take over the Senate, nonetheless wants to know if the tax dollar is being spent wisely, efficiently and is effectively bringing about the changes many veterans say the overly bureaucratic, paper-heavy system needs.

(Somewhat surprisingly, Senator Crapo’s colleague, Senator Jim “No” Risch, also voted yes on the final funding increase bill for the VA .)

A good way to do that is to establish a baseline poll and then measure the audience a year or two down the road. Thus, Senator Crapo has on his website a short six question survey which can be filled out online or by folks who obtain a copy at the various town hall meetings he held as he traveled around the state.

Taking proper care of veterans should not be a partisan issue, either, the senator rightly says. For a number of years the committee chair was Washington state’s senior senator, Patty Murray. The ranking minority member was Idaho’s Larry Craig. He and Murray did work well together.

Murray was especially eloquent when speaking about the heavy emotional toll the Iraq and Afghan engagements were having on families. The divorce rate among those serving overseas was an astronomical 75%. Few marriages survived and the toll on children as well as spouses was devastating and costly.

What Senator Crapo has astutely done is establish a grass roots focus group and baseline of over a thousand veterans and/or family members. When he next surveys them he will have a good idea whether reform has really come to the VA and services are uniformly being delivered efficiently and effectively. (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)

Ballots in Boise school election compromised (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Falls still considering Odyssey Charter (IF Post Register)
New fire chief named at IF (IF Post Register)
New GOP leader Yates reviews state of his party (IF Post Register)
Website verbiage copied by superintendent candidate (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
Moscow helps affordable housing group (Moscow News)
Canyon reviews exemptions for hospital property tax (Nampa Press Tribune)
USDA calls TF, Jerome disaster areas (TF Times News)

Farm gear manufacturer heads to Coburg (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath activists join in GMO battle (KF Herald & News)
Pot tax considered by Medford council (Medford Tribune)
No medical pot tax in city of Talent (Medford Tribune)
Medford budgets $13m for North Foothill road (Medford Tribune)
County blasts state increase in landfill fee (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland nonprofit leader lied on resume (Portland Oregonian)
How Portland schools meet class time standards (Portland Oregonian)
State fish, wildlife director departs (Salem Statesman Journal)

Deputy Snohomish Exec Haakenson retires (Everett Herald)
Marysville schools get $1.3 million grant (Everett Herald)
State battle over organ donation (Kennewick Herald)
Position results in Hanford vapor checks (Kennewick Herald)
More coal ships may run through Longview (Longview News)
King sheriff's internal watchdog quits (Seattle Times)
Seattle Seahawks open season with win (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Spokane law enforcement tested on shooting (Spokane Spokesman)
Stewart reviews couty office run (Vancouver Columbian)
Improved travel economy helping business (Yakima Herald Republic)

Remembering Atiyeh

jorgensen W. SCOTT

Conversations with Atiyeh

Friends, family, well-wishers, elected officials and Oregonians from all walks of life descended upon the state capitol in Salem yesterday morning for the memorial service of former Governor Vic Atiyeh.

The service was held on the floor of the House of Representatives, which began to fill up an hour before the ceremony. Smiles and friendly chatter flowed freely, with several stories about the former governor shared among those who knew him.

Speakers included Gerry Thompson, who served as chief of staff in the Atiyeh administration.

Thompson said that the administration faced 12 percent unemployment, a prime interest rate of 20 percent, 14 percent inflation and an “abysmal” national economy.

“Believe me, it was not an easy time,” Thompson said.

As Thompson told an anecdote about a trip Atiyeh took to Southern California to honor former President Gerald Ford, one could almost picture the two leaders reunited in the afterlife playing another round of golf together.

Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem) affectionately recalled the twinkle in the governor’s eye. She described how a cross-burning incident in suburban Milwaukie prompted Atiyeh to enact laws making racial and religious harassment a felony in Oregon.

“The governor had a unique understanding of diversity,” Winters said.

Another former governor, Barbara Roberts, described the work she did with the governor while she served as House Majority Leader. Those times involved multiple special legislative sessions and budget cuts, yet the two set aside their partisan differences and overcame those challenges.

“That’s the job of leaders, and Vic lead,” Roberts said. “He loved Oregon, and was so proud to be a native Oregonian.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) praised the way Atiyeh always took the high road.

“He never thought of someone else as an enemy,” Walden said. “Vic was genuine, and he was honest.”

Vic’s daughter, Suzanne, described the former governor as a patient and kind father whose true talent was love. She said he lead a lifetime of doing the right thing and taught his children that responsibility was an honor.

A flower bouquet sent from officials in China was on display outside of the House chamber during the ceremony. It was yet another reminder of the bridges that Governor Vic Atiyeh built over international waters for the good of all Oregonians.

W. Scott Jorgensen has worked as an award-winning reporter for various publications throughout Oregon, and was a news director and talk show host for the Grants Pass Broadcasting Corporation. He has also been an aide in the Oregon House of Representatives and a field organizer for a successful statewide ballot measure campaign.

A Kansas lesson for Oregon Republicans?

harris ROBERT


Independent candidate Greg Orman (Kansas) has just received a huge boost in his race for US Senate in heavily Republican Kansas.

Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropped out of the election leaving independent Orman to face Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts in November.

The key takeaway from this for Oregon Republicans should be that in a jurisdiction tilted heavily towards one major party, the smaller major party can strategically choose not to field a candidate if there is a viable moderate in the race. And good things will happen.

In a Multnomah County State House race a moderate independent would likely outperform a Republican candidate. If nothing else this would force the Multnomah County Democrats to spend on their own general elections and prevent the leadership from shipping their campaign treasuries off to swing districts.

There is current precedent in Oregon. But it’s the Democratic Party who “got it”.

Democrat Ryan Howard was set to run in heavily Republican Oregon House District 25 (Yamhill Co). But once Independent Party member Chuck Lee entered the race, Howard switched and is running against Republican Kim Thatcher for Senate District 13, which isn’t quite as Republican. Chuck Lee won the Independent Party nomination and won the Democratic write in vote and will be one on one against Republican nominee and very conservative talk show host Bill Post. (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)

Over 8 years Idaho pays $1.2b for Medicaid expansion elsewhere (Boise Statesman)
Searching for middle ground on Boise bike lanes (Boise Statesman)
Snake aquifer levels reported as stable (IF Post Register)
Students going back to school (IF Post Register, Moscow News)
WA court presses legislature on schools (Moscow News)
ISU instructor shoots self in foot (Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Tangled traffic in downtown Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Ford Idaho Center bring in new scoreboard (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa cops watch for skateboard, bikes (Nampa Press Tribune)
Otter won't debate at TF, will elsewhere (TF Times News)
Hoof care manufacturer will build at Jerome (TF Times News)

Eugene city hall demolition starts (Eugene Register Guard)
Warmer and drier conditions in September? (KF Herald & News)
Klamath college reviews shooting security (KF Herald & News)
Pacific Green Senate candidate files false info (Medford Tribune)
Atiyeh recalled at memorial service (Portland Oregonian, Sale Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
State GMO efforts draw little fed response (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Athena's loss of PGG store damaging (Pendleton E Oregonian)
AG says state negligent in prison inmate death (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cover Oregon board votes on its future (Portland Oregonian)

Supreme Court pushes again on schools (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Snohomish auditor may give up some computers (Everett Herald)
Olympic peninsula hit with net outage (Port Angeles News)
Ferry exec reprimanded by DOT leader (Seattle Times)
22 Hilltop mobile park residents forced out (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma cell phone tracker told council (Tacoma News Tribune)
Yakima plans anti-gang efforts (Yakima Herald Republic)

George Hansen’s lasting legacy

peterson MARTIN

When former Idaho Congressman George Hansen passed away recently, the news stories focused on his troubles with the law, times in prison and his trips to Iran during the hostage crisis. There was no mention of any sort of lasting legacy left by Hansen. But the case can be made that he left a huge, although entirely unanticipated, legacy.

Hansen could be described as Idaho’s first tea party Republican. But were his wife Connie to have heard such a remark, she would quickly comment that the Hansen’s had nothing to do with anything containing caffeine. No, while he really was a precursor to the tea party movement, that wasn’t his lasting legacy.

That legacy is tied directly to his 1968 senate campaign against Senator Frank Church. Frank Church was seeking a third term in the senate and Hansen was a formidable opponent. In my mind, the two most effective political campaigners in Idaho’s recent history were George Hansen and Bethine Church. But I would give the nod to Hansen, primarily because he stood nearly a foot taller than Mrs. Church, which gave him the advantage in working a crowd.

Hansen was legendary in his ability to work a crowd and seek support. Nothing illustrates that better than his conviction for defrauding Idaho banks and about 200 investors of $30 million in an investment scheme. Of the 200 individuals he defrauded, 100 wrote letters to Judge Edward Lodge indicating that they had willingly given him their money and that, even though they lost it all, they didn’t feel they were defrauded.

Hansen’s entry into the 1968 Senate race sent a strong signal to Senator Church and his staff. This was going to be an incredibly difficult race and it would require organizing a re-election campaign unlike any that Idahoans had previously seen. Church was an outspoken environmentalist who supported the creation of wilderness areas. He was also an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam. Both of these issues ran against the grain of many Idahoans at the time.

Church was surrounded by some of the best political minds in Idaho. Carl Burke, a Boise attorney and his childhood best friend, chaired the campaign. Verda Barnes, Church’s chief of staff, was one of the finest and best connected political organizers Idaho has ever seen. He had a highly experienced staff, including Jerry Brady who would later run twice for Governor, who were focused on his re-election.

The resulting Church campaign was filled with many Idaho firsts. Church opened the first congressional field office in Idaho and staffed it with Billie Jeppesen, who would later go to Washington to be the personal secretary for Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus.

It was also the first Idaho campaign to use 4 by 8 foot “Minnie” billboards. A thirty minute campaign film was produced that aired on television and was shown at political functions throughout the state. And there were Spanish language bumper stickers.

But the innovation that had the greatest impact on Church’s re-election effort was the development of a statewide voter identification program. Idaho had never seen a similar effort of this magnitude. Volunteers went door-to-door filling out forms on voter preferences, all in the days before the use of computers and phone banks. The identification of pro-Church, leaning to Church and uncommitted voters was critical to the success of the campaign.

Voters leaning to Church and uncommitted were targeted to bring them firmly into the pro-Church camp. On election day, a well-organized get-out-the-vote program was activated to try to get every last voter leaning to Church to the polls to vote.

On election day, the results were remarkable. Church obtained 60% of the vote and carried forty of Idaho’s forty-four counties.
While Hansen lost and went on to face all of his self-inflicted future problems, he forced Church to do things that had previously been unknown in Idaho political races. And this is where Hansen’s lasting legacy comes in.

Two years later, in 1970, the Church organization had kept much of its 1968 campaign organization in place, including the voter identification and get-out the vote programs. This was of critical importance to Cecil Andrus’ campaign for Governor. It undoubtedly made the difference and opened the door for the rest of his remarkable political career.

Were the last half of Frank Church’s Senate career and the political success of Cecil Andrus the lasting legacies of George Hansen? I think a strong case can be made for that.

Marty Peterson is a native of the Lewiston Clarkston Valley. He is retired and lives in Boise.