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Posts published in October 2014

Of many things

jorgensen W. SCOTT

Conversations with Atiyeh

Of the three interviews I did with former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh prior to his passing last July, my favorite was the one from late March.

That hour-long talk makes up the fourth chapter of my recently released new book, Conversations with Atiyeh, and is called “Boy Scouts, Football and the Legislature.”

The first part of our conversation was about the governor’s lifelong involvement with the Boy Scouts organization. He joined as a young boy, but continued his involvement well into adulthood and beyond.
Vic beamed with pride as he talked about his son Tom achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

Governor Atiyeh talks about the Boy Scouts

We also discussed his football career. Vic played at Washington High and the University of Oregon through good years, bad years, and everything in between.

Governor Atiyeh talks about football

Our final topic was his 20-year legislative career. I asked him about his favorite memory from that time. He replied that it was the days of the famed “Phone Booth” caucus, when there were so few Senate Republicans that they could all literally fit in a phone booth.

One thing was clear to me in our talks—Governor Atiyeh felt good about his life and career.

Governor Atiyeh talks about his legacy

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)

Simpson wants 8 months to pass wilderness bill (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Overview state superintendent public instruction race (Boise Statesman)
GOP legislative candidates fully funded (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bannock assessor candidate chargs unethical behavoir (Pocatello Journal)
Simpson outraises Stallings in campaign (TF Times News)
Reviewing magic valley drug court (TF Times News)

Looking at Oregon's pot ballot issue (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
UO tries academic emphasis in fundraising (Eugne Register Guard)
Looking at Oregon's ballot issues (KF Herald & News)
Green candidate drops from District 2 Senate race (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber's recent troubles (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing governor's race (Salem Statesman Journal)

Legislators talk of restoring 2008 cuts (Bremerton Sun)
Court looks at new schools budget (Bremerton Sun)
DelBene far outspending Celis (Everett Herald)
City offices and more move from Everett floodplain (Everett Herald)
Thurston corrections contract signed (Olympian)
Heavier conflict in expensive 35th Senate race (Olympian)
South Sound and ebola (Olympian)
Investigative: Lead poisoning at gun ranges (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Veteran Spokesman journalist Dorothy Powers dies (Spokane Spokesman)
Power plants produce vast greenhouse gases (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing vote on Vancouver charter (Vancouver Columbian)
East Clark Columbian bridge idea questioned (Vancouver Columbian)
Focusing on 4th district US House race (Yakima Herald Republic)

No difference at all

idaho RANDY

A reader points out that Idaho voters next month will decide whether to pass an amendment to the state constitution, and “The only info I have is in the "Idaho Voters' Pamphlet" and it's not enough”: She requests some guidance.

Okay: On this one, you can feel comfortable throwing a dart blindfolded at your ballot. Whether you pass it or fail it, it will make no difference whatsoever, not to Idaho voters, their government, or anything else. When I read that one of its main floor backers, Senator Curt McKenzie of Nampa, said it was among most significant pieces of legislation he'd dealt with, I hoped that his legislative career has amounted to more than that.

What House Joint Resolution 2, which passed both chambers with not a single vote opposed, does say is that the Legislature can authorize and holds final effective approval power over all agency rules and regulations. That would be significant if the legislature already had not been doing that. Legislatures take varying roles in dealing with agency regulations, but the Idaho Legislature has been overseeing and accepting and rejecting rules for decades – to my knowledge at least since the 70s, and probably long before that.

For many years, the legislature gave the rules a quick look, maybe throwing out two or three controversial ones in a normal session. Since the mid-90s, it has been applying a microscope to them, spending the first quarter or so of each session hunkered down over not legislation but administrative rules to decide whether they will stay there, or should be kicked out, or amended. Some studies have concluded that the Idaho Legislature has, for a couple of decades, had more power over and more closely reviewed the rules than any other legislature in the country.

So what is the new proposed amendment intended to accomplish? Basically, to allow the system Idaho has had for a couple of decades to stay in place.

Is there any reason to think it won't? Legislative backers point out a couple of challenges to legislative rule approval at the Idaho Supreme Court; but the court has each time upheld the legislature. That's too much locked-in precedent for such a change to happen easily.

But even if it did, the practical difference would be, as a lawyer would say, de minimis. Administrative rules can be set up only within the terms of state law, so the legislature sets the parameters to start with. If the rules color outside the lines, they can be challenged and thrown out in court. Legislators can also change state law as they please to rein in regulatory ideas they don't like or impose those they do; there's not a lot of limit on how specific law can be. (Laws can be held unconstitutional for vagueness but generally not for specificity.) Legislators also hold the power of the purse, and can (and often do) include statements specifically describing what money cannot be used for, or must be used for – which amounts to sweeping control of what an agency does. A legislator might argue that a governor can veto a bill, even a budget bill; but two-thirds of the legislature can override vetoes. (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)

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)

OOPS two

rainey BARRETT


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! (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)

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)

Through the crosstabs

idaho RANDY

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.

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)

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)

Arguing for a 2/3 threshold

frazier DAVID


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: (more…)