Writings and observations

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)

Time capsule found in old statute (Boise Statesman)
Police observing rail crossings (Boise Statesman)
IF city officials start strategic planning (IF Post Register)
Lewiston, Orchards Sewer, hit impasse in talks (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington initiative on class size has costs (Lewiston Tribune)
Palouse city has mass of public record requests (Moscow News)
UI Dean Bruce Pitman departing (Moscow News)
Balukoff school backer never voted in Idaho (Idaho Press Tribune)
Library Square tenants evaluate options (Idaho Press Tribune)
New ads up in race for governor (TF Times News)
Options considers to cut auto-wildlife collisions (TF Times News)

New UO fundraise goal set at $2b (Eugene Register Guard)
Debate rages on driver license ballot issue (Eugene Register Guard)
State student endowman plan on ballot (Eugene Register Guard)
Voters asked for $36 million for KF high school (KF Herald & News)
Judge says cities can bar medical pot retailing (KF Herald & News)
Circuit judge contest renews at Jackson Co (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Jackson Co commission 1 candidates (Medford Tribune)
On future of Umatilla-area school service district (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Senator Hansell blasts Kitzhaber on water spills (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pot dispensary access becoming easier in OR (Portland Oregonian)
Ferrioli blasts negative campaign ads (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kilmer heavily outspends opponent (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge Island gets new park (Bremerton Sun)
King home values rise, and so do taxes (Seattle Times)
Looking at frequent turnover in neighborhoods (Seattle Times)
Examining reduced-class-size initiative (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane council member partner in pot business (Spokane Spokesman)
New museum planned for Point Ruston (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver school board may expand meeting notice (Vancouver Columbian)
Controversial prayer breakfast with Boykin held (Vancouver Columbian)
Looking at the problem of hoarders (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima schools may see athletic upgrades (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Idaho Idaho column

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Ah, Ebola. Seems like only yesterday we imported our first case of this terrible, headline-grabbing disease. Our very first. It’s so fresh in the mind I can still see and hear ol’ Rick Perry and the loud “SWOOSH” made by his running to the national TV cameras.

“We’re proud – (proud, I say) – that a Texas hospital has been chosen to treat the nation’s first Ebola patient,” he said through a big Texas good ol’ boy smile. “Texas is proud – (proud, I say) – of our best-in-the-country hospitals and the tremendous people we have giving such wonderful care.”

He turned from right to left. Then left to right so the cameras could catch that sculpted Texas chin. Then he departed – stage right. Of course.

Since then ol’ Rick’s been on the campaign trail in three states and off to France for . . . . . well, I don’t know what for. You can bet it’s something to do with running for president in 2016. Or at least HE thinks so.

So let’s recap what’s happened in that “state-of-the-art” Texas hospital since the old boy hopped a jet after his phony, office-chasing welcome mat for Ebola was broadcast worldwide.

First, the patient died. But there’s more. Seems the Dallas staff of one of the “best-in-the-country” hospitals sent the patient home with antibiotics when he showed up with all the symptoms of – wait for it – Ebola. The old “take two and call me in the morning” shuffle as I recall my own emergency room visits. Rick, of course, didn’t check out details or the history of how that Ebola patient got Ebola or what the hospital’s nonexisent software bridge between the doctor’s and nurses’s computers had caused before he rushed to center stage. As I said, detail.

Then a nurse there came down with Ebola. Then a second. Same place. Center for Disease Control folks got so mad they wouldn’t let new patients anywhere near Texas – pulling one out to ship to Atlanta and another to Emory Medical Center. Several C-D-C higher-ups even muttered publically something about “incompetence” at the Texas “best-in-America” hospital. Ricky, of course, was in France and didn’t pick up on that. OOPS.

Ebola is a terrible, dreaded disease with a near 70% death factor. Also deadly is the uncontrolled, lemming-like disease of running for president. Once infected, most “patients” seldom survive. In this case, France or no, a second nationally broadcast “OOPS” moment for Perry should be enough for permanent residence in the political graveyard. Oh, he may not realize he’s deceased for awhile. What with all the zombie phobia these days. But I have to think he’s among the “walking dead.” Again.

Perry’s is not the only voice politicizing what is really a terrible international health issue. John McCain and his hand puppet L. Graham blame the administration – read president – for not appointing an Ebola “czar.” McCain – who has previously loudly complained about the existence of “czars” in Washington – not only looks foolish but has omitted one serious fact. He and the puppet helped block the last Surgeon General nominee, keeping the job vacant for many months. They claimed 36-year-old Dr. Vivek Murthy was “much too young” for the job – despite an exemplary scholastic and medical record.

Putting the lie to that claim was the fact that the good doctor had once written of his belief that “gun violence is a public health issue.” Damned right! But the NRA pulled the string tight on some political “privates” and Murthy’s nomination died aborning. The jobs still vacant. Thanks, John.

Ebola must not be a political football. It’s a damned serious theat everywhere. Though it’s odd to note no Ebola cases in Germany, Japan, England, Russia, Canada, South America, Mexico et all. Wonder why.

The plain fact is McCain, Graham, Perry and other Republicans have joined other fear mongers scaring the hell out of millions of Americans. A few Democrats, too. Rather than use the power of their public offices to throw governmental clout and tools into the battle to control the disease, they daily fling outrageous charges of failure and danger in all directions.

Ebola is here. On our soil. It’s going to get worse. It’s not going away anytime soon. National Institutes of Health and CDC leaders need to stop with the soothing platitudes and the “we’re-in-control” falsities and give the public honest facts and evaluations based on medical knowledge rather than ass-covering or political fright. The White House needs to stop with the same tones of overconfidence and bring to bear the most qualified help from any source available in the nation. Or the world, for that matter. Now!

And the media? Ah, yes, the media. We have three Ebola patients, folks. Three. There will be more. We don’t need phony “Breaking News” banners and ridiculous helicopter shots of hospital complexes and overblown patient transfer motorcades. Again, find facts – gain knowledge – and report both. Accurately. Factually. End the sensationalism and report.

We are a mobile society. Ebola is not going to stop that. We cannot seal our borders, shutter our air terminals and hide from the rest of the world. We need information. Real, well-researched and well documented information to become as informed as possible.

Political hacks and grandstanders like Perry, McCain and their cohorts are a disease we’ll never conquer. We stand a better chance with Ebola.

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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)

Did Bieter ask for firing ACHD executives? (Boise Statesman)
Overview of how Idaho economy is doing (IF Post Register)
CCA negotiations handled by Otter staff (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Idaho Falls considers urban renewal district (IF Post Register)
Student dean at UI retiring (Lewiston Tribune)
Profiling Senate 5 candidate Carlson (Moscow News)
Jerome cheese factory pays $88k EPA fine (TF Times News)
Ybarra talks about failure to vote, repeatedly (TF Times News)

Hyatt Hotel planned for Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Another levy for Eugene schools returns (Eugene Register Guard)
18th Cover Oregon security glitch reported (Portland Oregonian, KF Herald & News)
“Free speech zone’ blasted by SOU students (Medford Tribune)
Transport district argues to maintain levy (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Jackson Co commission 3 race (Medford Tribune)
Wyoming coal junket rejected by tribe (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Poll: People don’t think government spends well (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Colorado tax revenue from pot overestimated (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing the battle over GMO labeling (Portland Oregonian)

New leader at Harrison Medical Center (Bremerton Sun)
Upgrades at Bremerton sewer plant (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing Kitsap County prosecutor contest (Bremerton Sun)
Lakewood releases plan for new high school (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz prosecutor contest heats up (Longview News)
Industrial area needs $350m of rail work (Longview News)
Long-time Justice Utter dies (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Reviewing race for Clallam County auditor (Port Angeles News)
Funding strong for Clallam development officer (Port Angeles News)
Starbucks announces pay raise, customer gifts (Seattle Times)
Forks people question Navy electronic warfare (Seattle Times)
Vera Power back-billing customers (Spokane Spokesman)
Looks like warm winter for Northwest (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Selah looking at utility tax increase (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Political managers spent a good deal of time reviewing polls, but they don’t spent a lot of time with the “top line” figures – how, say, two candidates stack up against each other in a race. That can be useful information (notably when put in the context of other polls and for trend lines), but the most helpful material often has to do with the other questions and the answer breakdowns.
Oregon Public Broadcasting and Fox-12 (through DHM Research) polled Oregon from 8-11 on candidates and ballot races. The top lines were not much different from what we’ve seen elsewhere: Governor, John Kitzhaber (D) over Dennis Richardson (R) by 50%-29, Senate, Jeff Merkley (D) over Monica Wehby (R) by 47%-26%. No terrific shocks there.
But here’s some of the rest of what it shows.
Is Oregon on the right or wrong track? As a political matters, that’s good for figuring out how incumbents will do. “Right track” is gaining, for the first time in a while; in the new poll, 50% responded that way (37% said “wrong track”), compared to 48% in September and 43% in April. Optimism looks to be gaining on Oregon.
They’re not super familiar with the candidates, though. Just 62% identified Kitzhaber as the Democratic nominee for governor, not great for a three-term governor, but Richardson’s number was even less impressive; 34% knew he was the Republican nominee. (43% thought the Republican in the race was someone else.)
On the Senate side, just 46% identified Merkley, a six-year incumbent, as the Democratic nominee, and 42% named Wehby as the Republican nominee. That’s better than Richardson, but apparently a lot of those people didn’t like what they heard about her (there have been a bunch of bad headlines0, since the poll showed her getting a smaller percentage than Richardson.
Back to top lines, the ballot issues were a mix of results, and in all don’t add up to a strong philosophical direction. Marijuana legalization seems to be doing pretty well but is no slam dunk (52%-41% in favor), while expanding drivers licenses without proof of legal residents looks to fail big time (about 2-1). the “top two” ballot approach is almost a wash with plenty of undecided (which suggests failure); and the GMO labeling proposal has a slight edge but really is too close to call.
Draw some conclusions from all that if you can.

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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)

Otter’s staff worked on CCA deals (Boise Statesman)
Same sex marriages begin in Idaho (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Coho salmon will be harvested Friday (Lewiston Tribune)
Jobs growing, trained work force lags (Lewiston Tribune)
Campaign finance filings in Latah Co (Moscow News)
New heart facility will open in Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Ybarra voted twice in last 17 elections (TF Times News)
Poll shows Democrats closing, but still short (TF Times News)

Keeping watch for cougars (Corvallis Gazette)
DeFazio, Robinson battle in debate (Eugene Register Guard)
UO study: higher rape risk in campus Greeks (Eugene Register Guard)
General election ballots arriving (KF Herald & News)
This year’s fire season called ‘lucky’ (KF Herald & News)
Medford Ward 4 candidates on the issues (Medford Tribune)
Young voters may be key on ballot issues (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Ethics issues filed on Kitzhaber, Hayes (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon banks worried about pot business money (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hayes client got foreclosure relief (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing Senate race (Salem Statesman Journal)

EPA seeks Navy landfill operation (Bremerton Sun)
Gass prices fall around kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing Kitsap clerk campaigns (Bremerton Sun)
Backlast seen against marijuana sales (Everett Herald)
Debate held between DelBene, Celis (Everett Herald)
Lewis Co denied water to pot grower (Longview News)
New Port Angeles high school plan revealed (Port Angeles News)
Tharinger has big finance lead in House race (Port Angeles News)
Electronic warfare sparks debate at Forks (Port Angeles News)
Mark Driscoll resigns from Mars Hill church (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Gay marriage underway in Idaho (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane mayor will reject $7k raise (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane valley house candidates well known (Spokane Spokesman)
Questions about structuring port alliance (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver’s Leavitt boycotts prayer breakfast (Vancouver Columbian)
La Center sees decline in gaming revenues (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The DAILY PAPER had a page one story today about the effort to gain a 2/3 approval of voters for the City of Boise to go into debt for 10 years. The measure previously failed.

The STATESMAN story is fair, well balanced and accurate. It also dwells on the efforts of GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier to force local governments to play by the rules–something they didn’t do prior to 2004. We don’t know whether to take credit or blame, but Boise City has a record of extravagant requests. Frazier has a record of saving the city millions upon millions of dollars, forcing them to either pay cash or tone down their dream projects.
Modern suburban fire station in Boise, Idaho.
Through legal court victories we saved citizens about $15 on the police building (City Hall West), as much or more on the airport parking garage, and voters turned down a $38 million debt for a new library in favor of pay-as-you-go projects for three new branch libraries which are very successful.

Regardless of your thoughts on the $17 million bond sales pitch to move fire stations, build new ones, and construct a training facility, its a good thing the bond failed in the past.

Why? Because we minority of voters sent City officials back to the budgeting of OUR money and guess what? They have come up with a lower price tag and a shorter term bond debt. Thanks to a change of the former firemen retirement fund to be included in the state Public Retirement program, much of the revenue to repay the debt will come from within.

While we don’t oppose this bond, we have some concerns about financial issues directly relating to Boise’s fire department:

–Why do we give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free fire protection to Boise State while charging around $1 million for Boise police at the same institution? BSU and other state agencies have a huge exposure and every taxpayer in the state should pay a tiny bit to protect those assets and people. It shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of Boise taxpayers alone.

–The fire budget has been used for new construction to facilitate growth in South and East suburbs.

–All the departments in the area work together on “mutual aid” agreements (memorandums of understanding). That’s good, but they should also pony up some cash for mutual training facilities. Boise’s claim of allowing the other departments to use the proposed new training facility in exchange for use of their stuff simply falls short.

–Instead of buying new fire equipment, the department is planning to lease trucks. If the leases are true leases, that COULD be OK. However, if they try to disguise long term debt purchases as a “lease,” they could ignite a legal tinderbox.

In summary, they probably need the bond but there never should have been a need for it. Because the council has continued to acquire more area through annexation and city-generated urban sprawl there is increased demand for firefighters, stations, and equipment. We growthophobes feel growth should pay for itself. If they need to go into debt, the City of Boise is living beyond its means.

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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)

Looking ahead to serving gay couples in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Idaho preparing for ebola (Boise Statesman)
Interior Secretary Jewell on sage grouse tour (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
New teacher licensing plan draws Lewiston blasts (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington state looks into wolf shooting (Lewiston Tribune)
Cameras at Moscow roads part of research project (Lewiston Tribune)
Plenty of punching at governor’s debate (Moscow News)
Did WSU instructor use state help for his business? (Moscow News)
Gay marriage comes to Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Ybarra missed 15 of last 17 elections (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello schools consider another levy (Pocatello Journal)
Union Pacific adds new heavy-weight surcharge (TF Times News)

Much rain in the weather forecast (Corvallis Gazette)
Corvallis tablet computers have system problems (Corvallis Gazette)
Springfield School bond would upgrade schools (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath sheriff goes after food stamp fraud (KF Herald & News)
Senate candidates hold sole debate at Medford (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Medford War 3 race (Medford Tribune)
Cylvia Hayes former home intended for pot (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston won’t try to tax pot (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cover Oregon consultant blasts in report (Portland Oregonian, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Governor debate features first lady, issues (Portland Oregonian)
PERS case goe to court, gets hearing (Salem Statesman Journal)

District court seat race in review (Bremerton Sun)
Planners try to draw lessons from Oso slide (Everett Herald)
Legislative ethics board: 12 free meals okay (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Olympia backs gun registration measure (Olympian)
Sequim city hall work underway (Port Angeles News)
Seattle cops targeting sex buyers (Seattle Times)
State kicks out Seattle school test scores (Seattle Times)
Battle over 4th district House seat (Spokane Spokesman)
Seattle, Tacoma ports sign agreement (Tacoma News Tribune)
Funding the Clark County charter fight (Vancouver Columbian)
Controversial Boykin set as breakfast speaker (Vancouver Columbian)
State House seat 14-2 sees active campaign (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

There are three solid reasons why the voters should reject Governor C.L.”Butch” Otter’s bid for a third term. They constitute major failures on his part to fulfill the basic “three E” requirements for anyone serving in the office.

A governor takes an oath to uphold the State’s constitution which clearly states the primary purpose of the state government is to provide for a uniform and equal public education of the state’s young. The governor has failed miserably as the record reflects nothing less than a deliberate evisceration of state support for both k thru 12 and higher education.

This evisceration has led over 80% of the state’s school districts to pass over-ride levies to increase one’s local property tax to replace what the state has taken away. For residents of those districts it is nothing less than a tax burden shift and a tax increase brought about by a govenor who claims he has decreased taxes. Facts say otherwise.

Idaho’s former state economist Mike Ferguson has presented irrefutable evidence showing that after decades of the state spending on education at roughly 4.4% of annual personal income starting in 2000 a steady decline began and accelerated under Governor Otter’s watch to where the figure is now 3.4%, a 20 percent cut under Otter and his Republican predecessors.

Idaho now ranks 51st in the country – dead last below even Mississippi – in state support for public education.. What was even more surprising to many was that the Governor endorsed his Education Task Force’s recommendation to ADD back $350 to $400 million dollars that had been drained away from education, then he turned around and in his next executive budget recommended even less, the equivalent of 3.3% of personal income.

That’s disingenuous at best and at worse blatant lying.

In the meantime the Governor spearheaded a number of measures he claimed were designed to stimulate the economy but were nothing more than general fund give aways to big business and they came at the cost of education.

Set aside that these incentives have developed few if any good paying jobs. Butch tries to make a virtue out of growth in minimum wage jobs while not acknowledging that these jobs cannot and do not provide a sustainable living wage for people.

Additionally, these incentives often come at the expense of Idaho’s existing business who both directly and indirectly end up subsidizing the new boys on the block.

Years ago when Hewlett-Packard was looking around the country for a location to build a new assembly plant they came calling on then Governor Cecil D. Andrus. Andrus told them what a great labor force they would have and what a great life with all sorts of recreational opportunities available to pursue on the weekend.

He pointedly said there were no give aways or subsidies because they would come at the expense of existing businesses. H-P was welcomed as long as they understood they had to pay their fair share like all Idaho business. H-P came because they understood a competitor five years down the road would not come in and be given goodies that were not available to them.

They understood the term a “level playing field..”

The governor’s third major failure is especially surprising for a Republican: Butch has failed miserably to protect Idaho’s water. Perhaps you noticed a little news item around October 1st which said the Department of Energy had failed to make another deadline on the clean up of nuclear waste materials at the National Lab site out in the Arco desert?

The lab of course sits above the priceless Snake Plain Aquifer, a major source of irrigation water for Idaho farmers. This was a major milestone that was missed and not one peep came from the governor’s office.

There’s a memorandum of agreement that specifies penalties for missed deadlines but did anyone hear the governor saying Idaho would impose them?

Nor have Idahoans heard much from the Governor supporting Congressman Mike Simpson’s efforts to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from trying to eliminate the distinction in the Clean Water Act between navigable waters (which they oversee) and non-navigable waters, like ground water (which the state oversees).

Simpson has been fighting for four years to leave the language as is and to thwart this latest bureaucratic intrusion. In 2010 this effort was brought to the attention of the Governor and the response was basically nothing until this past August when he issued a presss release supporting Simpson.

If Idaho farmers think they have a friend in Butch, they better think again.

Hopefully all Idaho voters will look at Butch’s record and conclude he has done nothing to merit a third term.

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Carlson

news

Cylvia Hayes may be becoming the most controversial – or at least one of the two or three most – first ladies in American gubernatorial history, and that’s putting aside the unusual circumstance of her not being (yet at least) married to the governor. There’s now two separate hot news stories about her background (the green-card marriage and her involvement in a Washington property which may have been used in an illegal pot grow), plus questions about the relationship between her consulting business and role in the governor’s office, and now Governor John Kitzhaber’s call for a state ethics review of that latter situation. Up to this point her background has seemed unlikely to have any real effect on the governor’s race; could that be reaching a tipping point?

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)

Legal clear for same-sex marriage in Idaho (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Smith Group Auto mvoes location (IF Post Register)
Governor’s race ads in sharp conflict (IF Post Register)
New Horizons school bus transport in dispute (Nampa Press Tribune)
ID Democrats lead in funds in several races (Nampa Press Tribune)
Voting begins in Idaho begins today (TF Times News)

Cylvia Hayes and the pot grow site (Portland Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette)
New Eugene apartments not aimed at students (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield, Cottage Grover on pot tax (Eugene Register Guard)
New director sought for Klamath airport (KF Herald & News)
Merrill former recorder imprisoned (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co library hours enhanced (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Medford Ward 2 council race (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston plans withdraw from service district (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber seeks review of Hayes’ ethics (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Still no changes in state abaonded car efforts (Portland Oregonian)
State employment department records hacked (Salem Statesman Journal)
West Salem traffic awaiting end to upgrades (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing the open Kitsap auditor race (Bremerton Sun)
Hospice operation at East Bremerton closes (Bremerton Sun)
Still difficult partking at local college (Longview News)
Guns on ballot: background check measure winning (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
UW dinner meetings in open-meeting gray area (Seattle Times)
Reviewing 5th district US House race (Spokane Spokesman)
Growing deer nuisance in Spokane area (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver school board blasted on meetings (Vancouver Columbian)
Washington seeing record apple crop (Yakima Herald Republic)
Reviewing 14th district House race (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Briefings

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Nels Mitchell says up front in his campaign against Sen. Jim Risch that he is not a career politician. “In fact, I’m not a politician at all.”

Breaking news: Mitchell is a politician. He’s a career lawyer and there’s no way he could survive in that field without being a politician. So there’s Exhibit A in building a case (beyond a reasonable doubt) that he is, indeed, a politician.

Exhibit B is his campaign manager, Betty Richardson. She has an outstanding reputation as a lawyer and she’s a pretty good politician as well. Richardson was unsuccessful in her run for 1st District Congress against Butch Otter in 2002. But in 36 years covering politics (not all in Idaho), I’m hard pressed to think of any candidate I’ve seen who was better prepared.

Exhibit C is in Mitchell’s actions. As he blasts networks such as FOX News for creating anger and outrage, Mitchell releases a video of MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow – the left wing’s answer to Rush Limbaugh – slamming Risch for suggesting that the national debt is the biggest problem in Idaho. Mitchell says he does not want to match Risch with snide comments. Yet, after a televised debate in Boise, Mitchell nailed Risch for “creating a sideshow,” using “theatrics” and spouting “half-truths” and “shrill insults.”

So, Mitchell is not a choir boy and don’t look for him to star in a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But he is an intelligent, thoughtful and articulate person and an intriguing candidate. Running against Risch, the ultimate “career politician” presents challenges. It also presents advantages, since there’s no shortage of people who dislike Risch, perhaps the most polarizing figure in Idaho politics. Mitchell says his internal polling shows that Risch has not closed the deal in this election.

So he’d better learn to be a politician quickly if he is to peel off undecided voters. Maybe he could watch a few clips of Huey Long to learn how to rile up a crowd. Mitchell, at 60, acknowledges that he has some rough edges as a politician. After all, he did not mold his life and career to run for the U.S. Senate, as Risch has. About a year and a half ago, Richardson, former Gov. Cecil Andrus and others encouraged him to run and initially he did not take the bait – that is, until Congress shut down the government. “That was the tipping point,” he said.

Another motivator was the feeling that Risch should have an opponent. No other Democrat was interested in challenging a well-funded incumbent. Last year, in an interview with the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board, Risch talked in glowing terms about how much he enjoyed life in Washington and social perks, such as attending events at Ford’s Theater and his wife attending a luncheon hosted by Michelle Obama. I was in the room when he said (as reported by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey), “You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job.” Being governor is hard work and can wear a person down. “You can’t do that job permanently. This, you can do ad infinitum.”
Mitchell says that Washington is broken with a system run by lobbyists and career politicians. He says he’d serve one term, which is understandable for a 60-year-old man. Six years in that rat race is enough even for those much younger.

Mitchell says, Democrats share part of the blame for the dysfunction. He’s not impressed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He calls the implementation of President Obama’s health care plan as “an embarrassment,” and views the president’s foreign policy as short-sighted.

He disagrees with Risch about the national debt being the greatest problem facing Idaho. “The biggest problem facing Idaho is the lack of living-wage jobs and our weak economy,” says Mitchell, promoting raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

The big challenge is convincing Idaho businesses that raising the minimum wage is a good idea, then getting it passed through Congress. It will take some masterful political skills to make all that happen, so maybe Mitchell should not dwell so much about not being a politician.

He’d be better off talking about why he’s the right man for the job.

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Malloy