Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’ve never been a real fan of Halloween. Might be because, when I was a kid, we lived on a large ranch in Central Washington. Nearest neighbor was a long, long way down the dirt road. Making the rounds to get a really good-sized bag of treats would’ve taken most of a tank of gas in the truck. May have been only $0.20 a gallon then, but that was a lot of money to Dad.

So, Halloween came and went without me. Ranch chores were always – always – the top priority. Guess by the time we’d moved to Oregon and had real neighbors – real close – I was too old to get the Halloween bug.

All these years later, I’m still amazed at some of the statistics connected with Halloween. Such as, according to the Census Bureau, there are about 41 million kids in this country ages five to 14. And there are about 132 million occupied housing units – nearly all potential trick-or-treater stops.

And this. The six top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The value of their annual crop is about $113 million. Talking some big bucks.

So, what about costumes? Well, the Census folks figure there are 1,634 costume rental and formal wear stores in the country. Not sure what the formal wear stores contribute to the occasion, but they’re counted. Not to mention discount and department stores.

And candy. Of course, candy. Glad you asked. Across the nation, there are 1,155 chocolate manufacturing locations. Imagine that. Pennsylvania has 102 all by itself. Can’t forget the folks at Hershey’s. There are 100 more chocolate producers in California. Tip of the hat to Ghiradelli, too.

And the candy corn, mellow pumpkins and other non-chocolate goodies are created in another 409 businesses. Some 55,000 people are employed in the candy-making craft. So I’m told.

Just so you’ll know, there are a few places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. with names befitting Halloween. My favorite is Transylvania County, North Carolina. Just has a nice, spooky ring to it. Then there’s Pumpkin Center, North Carolina and Cape Fear, North Carolina. Seems North Carolina is spooky for more than just crazy Republican politics. And don’t forget Tombstone, Arizona, and Skull Creek, Nebraska. How about Death Valley?

Well, there you are. Some Halloween facts and figures for your history books. If you’ve got youngsters in your household, I wish them good times in their door-to-door scavenging. Up to about age 14. I’m sure it’ll be lots of fun.

As for taxpayers in Idaho this Halloween, it will pass largely unnoticed by anyone over the age of 15. For Idaho taxpaying folk – given the latest string of absolutely wasted tax dollars for outside attorneys to represent them in guaranteed loser political issues in various courts – every day is Halloween. With no end in sight.

For we older folk living in more realistic political surroundings, October 31, has an even scarier meaning this year. General election. Now, you talk about striking fear in the heart!!!

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Rainey

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)

Last governor debate held (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Mental community rehabilitation struggles (Boise Statesman)
Superintendent candidates debate again (IF Post Register)
Idaho health exchange moves from fed computer (IF Post Register)
Asotin Co tries online pot survey (Lewiston Tribune)
Hanford fumes cleanup problem noted (Moscow News)
Democrats facing tough contests (Nampa Press Tribunne)
Nampa Nazarene administrator retiring (Nampa Press Tribune)
Candidate Jones in guardianship case (TF Times News)

Eugene students cast mock votes (Eugene Register Guard)
OSU reseaches Ebola (Eugene Register Guard)
Walden challenged as Houe R campaign head (Medford Tribune)
Big pot fights in OR, Alaska (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla Co merges finances offices (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Lawsuits over commercial reactor possible (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Richardson: Kitzhaber hiding out (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Disabled parking placard change frees parking (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing the top two ballot issue (Portland Oregonian)
Church mentor dropped at Salem school (Salem Statesman Journal)

Planners look at more Kitsap-Seattle ferries (Bremerton Sun)
Poll shows lead for gun background checks (Bremerton Sun)
Review police action at Marysville shooting (Everett Herald)
Will Marysville change gun politics in WA? (Everett Herald)
Longview port may see another record year (Longview News)
Cowlitz candidates oppose background check law (Longview News)
Green Creek Wood closes permanently (Port Angeles News)
Navy extends comment on electronic warfare plan (Port Angeles News)
Sound Transit considers $15b rail expansion plan (Seattle Times)
Spokane conaiders name for city hall plaza (Spokane Spokesman)
Idaho governor debate battle rages (Spokane Spokesman)
Rape cases changes with Supreme Court decision (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

We often hear the lament, “I am not voting because it is always the lesser of two evils.”

A story in the Saturday DAILY PAPER by reporter Katy Moeller seems to enforce the evil issue. Seems that Ada Coroner Candidate Dotti Owens “forgot” about criminal charges for fraud and a bankruptcy when she completed a candidate form for the paper.

Ada County lawmen, including Sheriff Gary Raney and local police chiefs endorsed Owens over former deputy sheriff Michael Chilton. Chilton spent most of his copper career as a jailer for Ada County. Owens has been a deputy coroner.

The STATESMAN has to be commended for its election coverage which earlier revealed that Mayor Dave Bieter had met individually with candidates for the Ada County Highway District, asking them to get rid of the director … all in the spirit of working together of course.

Then there is Sherri Ybarra the candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction who can’t remember a divorce, what degree she is working on, or other items from her past.

It isn’t just women either. The race for Guv is not without charges of cronyism and illicit campaign contributions to Butch Otter from the private group recently ousted from running the state prison. Former Canyon prosecutor John Bujak has dodged criminal charges for a couple of years now and his gubernatorial candidacy is considered that of “spoiler.”

Hold your nose when you vote and if you have a bottle of hand sanitizer, be sure to use it after you vote, but please vote.

NOTE: The GUARDIAN doesn’t endorse candidates and no conclusions should be implied by this post.

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Frazier

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)

Amy’s Kitchen sets up in Pocatello (Boise Statesman, Pocatello Journal)
Courts, jails and mental health (Boise Statesman)
E Idaho officials ponder economic development mergers (IF Post Register)
Feds examine Kamiah discrimination charges (Lewiston Tribune)
More juvenile corrections detainees claim abuse (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Nampa building permit reveue rises (Nampa Press Tribune)
Group wants grazing delay until species review (Nampa Press Tribune)
Examining an anti-Balukoff ad (TF Time News)
CEO of Galmbia will retire (TF Times News)

Eugene requires Uber to get taxi icense (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene looking for more money for parks (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath clear of enterovirus (KF Herald & News)
Rogue Valey economy continues improving (Medford Tribune)
Governor’s office slowly provides Hayes records (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing Kitzhaber’s 3rd term report card (Portland Oregonian)
Complaints: Force used against students (Salem Statesman Journal)
Problems attacked in battery recycling (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard struggles on pathway decision (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge plans $7m park land purchase (Bremerton Sun)
Military famiies get new medical possibilities (Bremerton Sun)
Still trying to figure out Marysville killings (Everett Herald)
Reviewing top ballot issues for election (Seattle Times)
Money in campaigns going up (Spokane Spokesman)
State in contempt over mental patients in jail (Vancouver Columbian)
Initiative on class size roars ahead (Vancouver Columbian)
WA will again be sending apples to China (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

I have to confess: I hate most political advertising. There is this idea in American politics that the best way to win is to knock the other person down.

Alaska is a case in point where misleading ads about character are common. An ad for Republican candidate Dan Sullivan complains that Senator Mark Begich is “pretending to ride” a snow machine. Or on the flip side: A Begich ad that tied Sullivan to the early release of a sex offender who then went on to commit murder (that ad is no longer used).

We’ve been trained, as consumers, to use this as a framework for making our decision — at least most of us. The thinking goes like this: Hard-core Democrats will vote their way, committed Republicans will stick with their guy, so it’s these character ads that are designed to reach out to people in the middle. I do get that. It’s even ok to use character ads where the candidates define themselves, such as several on Sullivan’s military record or others about Begich’s frugal nature.

But it’s public policy that matters.

There are real policy political differences between Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan. And we would be better off if the campaigns fought over those distinct issues, not character.

On issues that matter to Alaska Natives the issues are serious and the divide is stark. So it’s not really a surprise that the Alaska Federation of Natives board met last week in private before endorsing Begich’s re-election. It’s rare for AFN to endorse candidates, although not unprecedented (such as Senator Lisa Murkowski’s unlikely write-in re-election bid four years ago.)

So let’s focus on policy. Their differences are mostly about one thing: The role of the federal government.
At the top of the list for Alaska Natives has to be a commitment to subsistence, protecting the hunting, fishing and gathering rights of native people who’ve lived on the land for thousands of years longer than any modern nation.

Last week at AFN, Begich was clear about his stand when he said that subsistence is “a right you own, its inherent, not granted.” If that logical argument was carried to conclusion it would place Alaska Native hunting and fishing on par with treaty rights for tribes in lower 48. That’s critical because it’s because of treaties that states like Washington have had success with tribal co-management of species, improving the resource for everybody.

Sullivan, on the other hand, unsuccessfully tried to walk a fine line. He told AFN that he supports subsistence but was the state attorney general who pressed the Katie John case when it could have been over. His argument is that the issue is about federal overreach and that the state, not the federal government, could bring about a subsistence regime. That’s a tough sell. So much so that at one point AFN’s audience booed Sullivan’s response.

The AFN voter guide lists other differences between the two candidates about the role of the federal government. Sullivan supports a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, saying that he also recognizes that law includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. So, how do you repeal one without the other? How could there be full funding for the Indian health system in this political environment?

Begich has a track record on these issues. He held up the confirmation of Yvette Roubideaux as the director of Indian Health Service in order to win support for contract cost reimbursements. Actually, he did more than that. He was a bull dog on this issue, using any avenue in Washington to bring about a result beneficial to the Alaska Native constituents.

The list of philosophical differences about government goes on and on. Some like the idea that Sullivan would let tribal development occur with less federal regulation, again, that idea that this election is about paring back Washington.

Then again, it might work for a national audience to talk about the overreach of the federal government. But in Indian Country that’s a much more complex stand because so often the federal government protects tribal interests against state overreach.

The best thing about Election Day next week is the internet and TV ads will vanish. And then we can agree again that most of political candidates are fine characters who happen to disagree about public policy.

There’s plenty to argue about.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

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Trahant

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)

Hospitals see more mental illness cases (Boise Statesman)
Boise building plan held in 2008 may be back (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Falls cops wearing body cameras (IF Post Register)
Bidder dislike terms on new DOE-INL contracts (IF Post Register)
Pullman tries to lower health care costs (Moscow News)
Nampa sied former deputy fire chief (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho moving in liquified natural gas (Nampa Press Tribune)
Review of gubernatorial race (Nampa Press Tribune)
Amy’s Kitchen will buy old Heinz plant (Pocatello Journal)
Bannock Commissioner Manwaring sidelined (Pocatello Journal)
Balukoff backed Obama 08, Romney 12 (TF Times News)
SATs in Cassia schools better than ID average (TF Times News)

Corvallis looks at downtown hotel (Corvallis Gazette)
State will try per-mile road fee (Eugene Register Guard)
New poll on pot shows close ballot race (KF Herald & News)
New Italian restaurant in Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Outside groups weigh in on Bates-Dotterrer (Medford Tribune)
Medford Providence plans for ebola (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla goes after adult business with zones (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hansell, Kitzhaber debate over river spill (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New polls: Little change in governor race (Portland Oregonian)
Salem inundated with sidewalk repair asks (Salem Statesman Journal)

Gun club called nuisance, stays open (Bremerton Sun)
Sheldon and others blast back on mailers (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville starts to recover from shooting (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Willow Grove park goes from county to port (Longview News)
Businesses say they’re hurt by road work (Port Angeles News)
Discovery Bay, others said safe for shellfish (Port Angeles News)
Study looks at impact of class sizes (Seattle Times)
Clark commissioners cut their pay (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Some Idaho political reporters have pointed out that if Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is elected to a third consecutive term on November 4th he will be only the second governor in state history to accomplish that feat.

The first was Robert E. Smylie, who served 12 years from 1955 to 1967. Over the years since Statehood (July 3rd, 1890) the Idaho Legislature has gone back and forth on the issue of term limits for a governor and how long a term was to be.

In the state’s early history governors were elected just to two year terms and at times could run as often as they liked. In the mid-1940’s, however, it was decided that a governor should serve only one four year term. This might have been a delayed reaction to Governor C. Ben Ross, who won three consecutive two-year terms in the 1930’s.

The first governor the change applied to was C.A. “Doc” Robins, a medical doctor from St. Maries and the first governor from north Idaho. He served from 1947 to 1951 and his tenure saw implementation of many progressive reforms.

He was succeeded by a Grangeville legislator, car dealer and former Hells Canyon sheep rancher named Len. B. Jordan, who served from 1951 to 1955. During his tenure the Legislature decided to lift term limits on the governor’s term altogether.

Jordan then could have run for several more terms but in an unusual act of integrity declined to do so. He told the media of that day that the people of Idaho had elected him thinking he would serve just the one term. He said it would violate the bond of trust he had with the voters and he would not do that.

The governor who has served the most time in office is of course Cecil Andrus, who was elected four times but the 14 years he served were not consecutive.

Idaho’s Constitution is one of those that gives a Lieutenant Governor all the powers of the elected governor when the governor is out of state. Not only can he exercise these powers he also is paid at the considerably higher pay level of a governor.

Butch Otter served 14 years in the post. Elected in 1986 when Andrus was elected to his third term, he and Andrus worked an arrangement whereby Butch pulled no fast ones when Andrus was out of state. On occasion Andrus would sanction Otter selecting a Republican to fill a vacancy in a legislative seat or county commission.

During his 14 year tenure Butch served 8 year under Andrus, 4 years under Batt and the first 2 years of Dirk Kempthorne’s tenure.

Curious to know how many days during those 14 years Butch filled in and was in reality the Governor, I asked current Lt. Governor Brad Little for the information.

Brad’s aide, Greg Wilson, was surprised at how challenging it was. He went to the Controller’s office which reviewed Otter’s pay slips to come up with the total hours. One then had to divide the total pay by the daily pay rate.

It would be a travesty if during those 14 years Butch had served as governor more than two years thus enabling him to claim (if elected to a third term) that upon completion of his third term, if one added the days he was “acting governor,” he, not Andrus was the longest serving governor.

Complicating this effort was the inability of the Controller’s office to provide the data for the first three years Butch filled the job. The only solution was to take the average of the 11 years add it to the missing years.

Totals based on pay slips:

1990 total pay divided by daily rate of $151.10= 20.75 days
1991 (same) = 29.5 days
1992 (same) = 39.5 days
1993 (same) = 21.5 days
1994 (same) = 51.5 days
1995 Total pay divided by daily rate of $176.70=39.25 days
1996 (same) =28.25 days
1997 (same) =30.5 days
1998 (same) =17.75 days
1999 Total pay divided by daily rate of $186.81 = 83 days
2000 Total pay divided by daily rate of $192.99 = 64.25 days
2001 (same) = 3.75 days
TOTAL 429.5 days
Average for those 11 years is 39 days times three* 117 days
GRAND TOTAL: 546 DAYS

If Butch wins a third term, he can claim to have served the second longest tenure of an Idaho governor, 13 and a half years, with Andrus still holding the record.

Whether or not Governor Otter ends up serving only 9 and a half years,, answer this question: name one positive accomplishment during his tenure. There’s a long list of negatives, from eviscerating funding for education to going easy on the federal government to stay on schedule for clean up of nuclear waste to busted economic stimulus plans. Send him back to his ranch, folks.

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Carlson

news

The biggest story in Oregon today was, really, a small-scale and probably never-to-be-used bureaucratic designation: Which medical facilities around the state would take lead if an ebola case should show up. Just about every front page in the state featured that story, and to underline it, the Oregonian featured the words “Ebola fear” in their big headline. never mind that there are no Ebola cases in Oregon and no particular reason to think there will be.

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 Idaho mental health’s crisis units (Boise Statesman)
Mammoth fossils found near American Falls (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
A look at the 1st US House race (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston moving to ban pot sales (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston passes anti-gay discrimination rule (Lewiston Tribune)
Agidius says she will work on ‘guns on campus’ (Moscow News)
Legislators look at tiered licensing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing secretary of state race (Nampa Press Tribune)
School districts struggling to get teachers (Pocatello Journal)

Ebola referral sites set in Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Corvallis shelter plan under review (Corvallis Gazette)
Per-mile tax as road revenue to be tested (Eugene Register Guard)
Art Robinson picks up $674k donation (Eugene Register Guard)
Pine Tree Plaza retail reopens (KF Herald & News)
Party registration numbers decline (Medford Tribune)
Medical pot seed production questioned (Medford Tribune)
Debate over what to do with the leaves (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla committee looking at pot taxes (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tighter race for governor (Salem Statesman Journal)

School bus safety rules often ignored (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville victims were targeted (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Oregon will test per-mile road tax (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Mailings blasting Sheldon in conflict (Olympian)
Secretary State away from Clallam auditor race (Port Angeles News)
Spokane halts human services grant (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma looks at paid sick days ordinance (Tacoma News Tribune)
Forecast shows vehicle miles will decline (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

This year’s governor’s race comes down to whether Idaho voters care about crony capitalism, where political cronies and campaign donors profit under the name of “serving the public’s interest.”

Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff is using the stretch run of this campaign to bring up two glaring examples – the Corrections Corporation of America’s failed private-prison management effort and the $60 million broadband contract, which has turned into a nearly $80 million tab for Idaho taxpayers. Both matters involve people, or entities, that have donated generously to Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign.

This isn’t exactly an “October surprise,” since the CCA fiasco, especially, has been in the news lately. And Balukoff isn’t the first gubernatorial candidate to raise issues regarding CCA and broadband contracts. State Sen. Russ Fulcher, who challenged Otter in May’s Republican primary, also touched on those issues. The difference is Fulcher didn’t have the money to make a stink last May; Balukoff does, and he’s flooding television screens with ads and newspapers with press releases.

Balukoff has struck a nerve. After Balukoff ran ads about the CCA, Otter responded with an ad of his own – basically calling Balukoff a liar.

Balukoff is taking a risk. If negative ads work – and history suggests that they do – then the final round of ads will be a big reason why he wins. Or, it can backfire on him if he’s bombarding voters with information that is far too complicated to digest. There is nothing simple about the issues he’s presenting, and Otter supporters couldn’t care less.

Otter’s campaign also has taken a negative turn, mostly using the traditional rhetoric that Republicans use against Democrats. He paints Balukoff as a spend-happy liberal who wants to bleed Idahoans with higher taxes and compromise our 2nd Amendment rights – which probably ruffles more feathers than higher taxes. The ads falsely assume that a Democratic governor has any influence over a Republican Legislature.

There’s not much Balukoff can do that the GOP hasn’t done to itself. Otter and Republican leaders in the Legislature already have established a statewide health exchange program, a centerpiece of Obamacare. They have given their backing to Common Core education standards, a favorite of the liberal social engineers. Balukoff probably will take the lead in promoting Medicaid expansion if he wins, but that’s no culture shock to Republicans. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry – the right arm of the Otter campaign – already is on the front row of support for that issue.

If Balukoff wants to invest through the roof on education and bring Idahoans to their knees with higher taxes, good luck getting those proposals through the Legislature. The coffin for those ideas is waiting in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Balukoff already has support of those who want more money for education, and Otter – who is practically a folk hero in the rural communities – has that vote locked up. Balukoff is going after independent, or undecided, voters by centering on the scandals that have given the Otter administration a black eye.

Recently, Balukoff sent out a news release demanding Otter to “come clean” over the $60 million broadband contract and “immediately release to the public and the media all records pertaining to the CCA case.”
Yeah, right. The governor isn’t going to “comes clean” on those issues, or anything else.

Otter is not going to be accountable, because he doesn’t have to be accountable – which is what crony capitalism is all about.

There’s an old saying that applies to this administration: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The broadband contract and the CCA disaster are products of the culture that’s in place and stands to grow with four more years of power, or maybe more. Otter says he will not seek a fourth term, but during the primary campaign he also said would not dismiss the idea of seeking a fourth term. So, what version do we believe? Since there’s no sign of his health slipping, or money drying up, Otter is well positioned to stay in office for as long as he wants.

… Or, until voters take him out.

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Malloy

isu mammoth

 
A team of Idaho State University students carefully brush and clean a mammoth skull discovered near American Falls Reservoir in mid-October. The specimen was excavated and transferred from the site to the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello on October 18. (photo/Dave Walsh, for Bureau of Reclamation)

 

Only one more week of campaigning remains, and then the numbers come in. Because of the large number of people voting early, you might expect campaigning to scale down just a bit in the week ahead.

Meanwhile, the big Northwest story of the week was the school shooting at Marysville, Washington, which left two dead and others seriously injured.

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Briefings