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Posts published in October 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)

Fire department bond considered (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing Winmill ruling on sage grouse (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Restoring the Silverthorne Theatre at LCSC (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow activists work against fracking (Moscow News)
Crowd opposes state taking federal lands (TF Times News)

Harrisburg plane part supplier may expand (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford may lift alcohol ban at some events (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing District 3 tight Senate race (Medford Tribune)
Oregon looks at ERA, ACLU says it's not needed (Medford Tribune)
Looking at jail intake system in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Limited access for Oregon death w/dignity (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing Kitsap coroner race (Bremerton Sun)
Suquamish seafood business poised to grow (Bremerton Sun)
Olympia police back in schools (Olympian)
Washington state employee labor agreements cost $583m (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Voters will consider Tacoma mayor term limit (Tacoma News Tribune)
Spokane treasurer race focuses on experience (Spokane Spokesman)
Washougal reviews arguments against oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)
What's proper size for a school class? (Vancouver Columbian)
Candidates competing for auditor job (Yakima Herald Republic)

In the briefings

merkley biden

Senator Jeff Merkley was campaigning on his home turf in east Portland when he and Vice President Joe Biden stopped in for ice cream at Salt & Straw Ice Cream on Alberta Street. (photo/Merkley campaign)

This was a week with a couple of actual financial scandals – or at least issues that might develop that way – on the part of Oregon political figures, but they went barely remarked. That was because something even more grabby emerged: The state's first lady, Cylvia Hayes, acknowledged that she had, in the mid-90s, married an immigrant for he could get his green card, for a $5,000 payment. The story dominated news play around the state, while another story – about the relationship between the governor's office and Hayes' consulting firm – got scant attention. (The other hot story that didn't fully surface was about state Senate candidate Kim Thatcher and allegations of contracting fraud with the state.)

The string of debates between Idaho statewide candidates in Idaho last week – a number of them highly watchable and most available through online streaming – are noted in this week's Politics section.

In Washington, the merger of marine cargo operations at the Seattle and Tacoma ports seemed the clear top story of the week in Washington state, even as campaign season reaches a peak. That may be a commentary on the relatively quiet nature of this year's campaign season.

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)

Idahoans consider how their state is doing (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Comparing Escalante, Utah, and Challis (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Discussing the WA gun initiatives (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon Co not getting I-84 repairs Ada does (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell gets long-term recovery center (Nampa Press Tribune)

Governor's race nearing its end (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing the Klamath Tribes treaty (KF Herald & News)
Drivers card issue extends to air travel (KF Herald & News)
What would be cost of GMO initiative 92? (Medford Tribune)

Kitsap commission race reviewed (Bremerton Sun)
Hood Canal Bridge impacts steelhead runs (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing the WA gun intiatives (Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic)
Snohomish sheriff allows for online crime reports (Everett Herald)
Report on Olympia's downtown homeless (Olympian)
Gender gap persists in tech businesses (Seattle Times)
Amazon moves into TV show production (Seattle Times)
Tacoma charter change would affect utility (Tacoma News Tribune)
Tacoma symphony gets new conductor (Tacoma News Tribune)
Committee will return to C-Tran reviews (Vancouver Columbian)
Overview of Yakima county prosecutor race (Yakima Herald Republic)
What's cost of class size initiative? (Yakima Herald Republic)

The state says, and the court says

idaho RANDY

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Idaho's same-sex marriage ban is one of those court decisions worth the read – you can find a copy at opinion.pdf. It's worth doing for understanding exactly what the state is arguing, and what the court said in response.

Part of it is a technical analysis relating to the Nevada part of the case, and not relevant to Idaho. But read the rest and you come away with a sense of just how thin Idaho's legal ground here is.

The Idaho argument has the advantage of proceeding in the wake of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, paring the legal case down to the core. The main dispute: Whether there exists a clear and strong rationale for the Idaho rule (which includes both constitutional provisions and state law) – something beyond simply disliking the idea of gay marriage. Or declaring gay couples as second-class, which as the court said (following up on Supreme Court decisions) it cannot legally do.

The state argued, naturally, that there was. It said children raised in opposite-sex marriages would be better off. But the court found no specific evidence of that. The circuit also noted Idaho hasn't blocked gay couples from adopting children.

“Idaho focuses on another aspect of the procreative channeling claim,” it added. “Because opposite-sex couples can accidentally conceive (and women may choose not to terminate unplanned pregnancies), so the argument goes, marriage is important because it serves to bind such couples together and to their children. This makes some sense. Defendants’ argument runs off the rails, however, when they suggest that marriage’s stabilizing and unifying force is unnecessary for same-sex couples, because they always choose to conceive or adopt a child. As they themselves acknowledge, marriage not only brings a couple together at the initial moment of union; it helps to keep them together, 'from [that] day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.' Raising children is hard; marriage supports same-sex couples in parenting their children, just as it does opposite-sex couples.”

And: “Just as 'it would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse,' Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 567, it demeans married couples—especially those who are childless—to say that marriage is simply about the capacity to procreate.” (more…)

On the front pages


Top regional story - though especially around Idaho - was the rapid-fire court action on same-sex marriage in the Gem State. As Friday opened, a temporary restraining order from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was in force, but that stay was lifted later in the day, and a half-dozen licenses were issued in consequence in Latah County. Improperly, though, since the 9th circuit court had issued a stay of its own in recognition of Kennedy's, and hadn't yet ended it. Before doing that, it is allowing both the state and plaintiffs to offer arguments. However, the 9th is likely to end its stay in time for license issuances on Tuesday. (Monday is the Columbus Day holiday.)

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)

Many wrecks found on Arrowrock Road (Boise Statesman)
Another step toward Idaho gay marriage (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Tribune will add reports from weeklies (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing the Democratic Party in Whitman (Moscow News)
Former Middleton council member pleads guilty (Nampa Press Tribune)
Campaign issue: 4-day schools (Nampa Press Tribune)
Some statewide races see Ds outraising Rs (TF Times News)
TF concerns of losing crop land to development (TF Times News)

More debate over Eugene train noise (Eugene Register Guard)
Doctors in Eugene area unionize (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber says he was 'hurt' over sham marriage (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
State quashes bear hunting in spring (Medford Tribune)
Eastern Oregon U struggles with budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton council considers taxes and pot (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Governor's race turns sharp-edged (Portland Oregonian)
Thatcher's company under legal investigation (Portland Oregonian)
State employment department computer hacked (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton considers rule on panhandling (Bremerton Sun)
Ferry budget includes runs to Kitsap area (Bremerton Sun)
Review gun initiatives coming up on ballot (Bremerton Sun)
Stink bug invasion at Longview (Longview News)
Rancher tries preserving land from state, erosion (Longview News)
Extendicare deal may help facilities (Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Gay marriage nears in Idaho, happens in Latah (Spokane Spokesman)
Debate in Spokane over city executive raises (Spokane Spookesman)
Parkland complaints about strip club sign (Tacoma News Tribune)
Debate over cost of adopting Clark charter change (Vancouver Columbian)
Teacher at Stevenson investigated on methods (Vancouver Columbian)

Let’s get together

rainey BARRETT


We’re still killing people in our homeland prisons. Death penalty it’s called. Makes no difference whether you support such extreme societal retribution or you don’t, it’s always a bit jarring to read morning headlines telling of another overnight execution.

Texas has done it again. That’s nine for the year. While Texas is the “death penalty capital” of the country, about half the 50 states still kill someone from time to time. Happens often enough reporting of the details shouldn’t be unsettling. But it usually is.

Oregon hasn’t killed anyone for awhile. Not because the law doesn’t allow for it. The governor just won’t let it happen on his watch. Not sure what the legal entanglements are for having a law on the books that the chief executive won’t enforce. But, hell, we have sheriffs ignoring black letter law for all sorts of things. And that Nevada BLM freeloader backed down the government with no retribution so far. In fact, a lot of folks - in law enforcement and out - seem to treat laws as “suggestions” rather than requirements for some sort of action. Pickin’ and choosin’ so what’s one more governor, right?

But how ‘bout that death penalty? You for it? Opposed to it? Don’t give a damn either way? I think most folks fall into that last category. Haven’t given the subject a lot of quiet time to think on it and have no hard-and-fast feelings. Many who’re for it have personal experiences related to some horrible crime or know someone who has. And a lot of folks opposed have religious or other personal reasons. Unlike that old sure-to-arouse topic of abortion where people are hard one way or the other, the subject of killing bad guys (and bad women) seems mushy by comparison.

Every time I hear someone sound off on “state’s rights” or “get the government out of my life,” several subjects come to mind. The death penalty is one. How we vote is another. Drivers licenses, too. There are a few others on my list but the point is this: some times having 50 states do things we all do 50 different ways makes more of a mess of our democracy than it should.

Take driver’s licenses. I’ve had to apply for a license in quite a few states over the years. Aside from whether a school zone is 20 or 25mph or a particular states top speed on an Interstate, all the questions have been pretty much the same. Never had a single one about driving in snow which would make those same Wyoming tests valid in Florida.

The point is, some careful standardizing of a few minimal issues could result in a single license. Might develop some sort of short study requirement for unique local laws but that could be handled on the I-net and we could all avoid the dreaded DMV.

Same thing for insuring our vehicles. One set of standards for all. Liability is liability and most other driving issues are nearly all the same no matter where you live.

And voting? Just look at the current 50 state voting situations. Nearly a dozen of ‘em are trying (unconstitutionally I believe) to disenfranchise minority citizens because nutball Republicans want to win more elections. Sorry, my Republican friends, but there ain’t a state with a Democrat majority where the same thing is happening. Not one.

If more states like mine (Oregon at the moment) would go to our nearly foolproof system of voting-by-mail, using a single set of national voting eligibility requirements, we wouldn’t have civil rights lawyers running to the courts to protect the guaranteed rights of hundreds of thousands of minority citizens. In all the years Oregon has conducted hundreds and hundreds of elections - local-state-federal- you can count confirmed cases of voter fraud on less than the fingers on your right hand! And our turnouts for those elections have been notably higher than nearly any other state. Year after year after year.

Back to the death penalty. Is it a “state’s rights” issue? Or a moral issue? Should you be more likely do die for committing a crime just because you live in Texas rather than Idaho or Utah? Does that make death penalties more a “geographic residence” issue than a criminal one?

Take Idaho. Please! (Sorry, Henny.) Idaho has all the requisite laws to kill bad guys but doesn’t do it very much. There’s a guy named Creech who’s killed several folks over the years. Inside prison and out. He first went to Idaho’s version of death row in the 1970's where he killed again. Still there. And he’ll likely die there. Sentenced to death several times. In Oregon, as long as the current governor continues being our governor, Mr. Creech could get yet another four year guaranteed reprieve after the November elections. Which our current governor will win. See what I mean by “residence” issue? (more…)

Voting options for Oregon

harris ROBERT


Almost a hundred people attended The Equal Vote Conference held at the University of Oregon Law School Saturday October 4th

Former Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer greeted the attendees/ The conference focused on election reforms and featured a debate between proponents and opponents of Measure 90 (top two primary).

The conference opened with explanations of two main voting reforms. Rob Richie Executive Director of presented the case for preferential voting with instant runoff elections (IRV), while Aaron Hamlin from the Center For Election Science, argued the benefits of Approval Voting as a superior voting system.

That session was followed by Jackie Salit, a national figure promoting the rights of independent voters and President of Salit humorously recounted listening to OPB’s “Think Out Loud” while in her rental car driving to Eugene from Roseberg, where she had met with an organization of independent voters the day before. The OPB analysts had seemed confused how the pro top two primary coalition could include both major candidates for Governor, the Working Families Party, wealthy philanthropists, independent voters and businesses, while opponents included the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. She was not shocked about the inability of the political establishment to understand the independent voter movement. However she noted the movement’s positive influence on politics already. “We’ve brought the Democratic and Republican Parties together and reduced partisanship” Salit joked.

A panel discussion followed Salit’s presentation. Salit Joined minor party leaders Barbara Hughes of the Working Families Party, Blair Bobier of the Pacific Green Party, Dan Meek of the Independent Party of Oregon. Hughes said the Working Families Party was in favor of M-90. Bobier explained that the Pacific Green Party was in favor of election reform, but not M-90. Bobier beleived it would lead to the elimination of smaller minor parties and business interests would dominate the general election.

Dan Meek said the Independent Party platform focused on anti corruption and that election reform was a major part of the anti corruption efforts. Meek said that the inability of non affiliated voters to participate in the May primary would be addressed by 2016. By that date, according to Meek, the IPO would have reached major party status and participate in the May primary along with the Democratic and Republican parties. The IPO intended to allow non affiliated voters to participate in IPO primary elections. Given the growth of the IPO and non affiliated voters, and the decrease in GOP membership, it’s likely an open IPO primary would have more eligible voters than the GOP primary. (NOTE: Shortly after the conference the IPO formally endorsed M-90)

The next main session was a debate on Measure 90 between proponents Chief Petitioner Jim Kelly, and co draftsperson Mark Frohnmayer and opponents Rep. Phil Barnhart and Lane County Democratic Chair Julie Fahey. There were two memorable things from the debate. First, Barnharts continued refusal to answer questions he finds difficult. He simply labels them red herrings. And Second, Barnhart revealed that Democrat Rep. Val Hoyle was drafting a Democratic Party election change that would allow non affiliated voters to participate in the May primary election. They would simply have to request a Democratic of Republican ballot and wouldn’t be required to change party affiliation. This is actually a more restrictive type of semi open primary.

While the Hoyle proposal is a concession to voters unhappiness with Oregon’s closed primary, it’s worth noting that in New Hampshire, the only legally recognized political parties are the Democratic and Republican. How any election changes based on a State where the election laws have resulted in only two legally recognized political parties can fairly be characterized as “reform” I’d like explained to me. (1)

Some observations/comments: (more…)

On the front pages


Oregon newspapers were enthralled by the Cylvia Hayes green card marriage story, in which the Oregon first lady acknowledged she had one engaged in a sham marriage (against the law) to help an immigrant from Ethiopia, for pay. It was an embarrassing story but its political impact is likely to be minor, and may have helped the Kitzhaber side politically in another way - it got far more attention than, and tended to obscure, another story about Hayes' consulting business getting contracts from people and groups who might be seeking a relationship with the state. That second story could actually be politically damaging, but few Oregonians will be talking about it today.

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)

Governor candidates have Idaho Falls debate (IF Post Register)
IF zoo kept employee despite inappropriateness (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Idaho gay activists file with Supreme Court (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Employers not easily finding skilled workers (Nampa Press Tribune)
New library dedicated at NW Nazarene (Nampa Press Tribune)
Work on Portneuf Wellness center has begun (Pocatello Journal)
PetCo and others look at Canyon West location (TF Times News)

Cylvia Hayes admits to sham immigrant marriage (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Immigrant driving on ballot drives debate (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette)
Lane Co won't allow golf course into houses (Eugene Register Guard)
KF considers IDEA grant funds for downtown (KF Herald & News)
Merrill, Keno schools rank high in state (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co looks into renewable energy sources (Medford Tribune)
Dispute over plan for bear huts in the spring (Medford Tribune)
Cities review how property tax law affects them (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon sees enterovirus cases (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon lifted from No Child requires (Portland Oregonian)

Central Kitsap schools get permanent superintendent (Bremerton Sun)
Everett may change old libary to homeless site (Everett Herald)
Reviewing Snohomish executive race (Everett Herald)
State auditor urges better parks bookkeeping (Olympian)
Budgeting in Thurston Co delayed (Olympian)
Cost for new Port Angeles high school $120m (Port Angeles News)
Nadella blasted over women's pay remarks (Seattle Times)
Plans abound to expand pre-K in Seattle (Seattle Times)
UW will demolish two halls and increase rents (Seattle Times)
WSU's Floyd on breakdown of UW med school talks (Spokane Spokesman)
Idaho governor debate held in Idaho Falls (Spokane Spokesman)
Big development proposed at Vancouver waterfront (Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing WA law on texting (Vancouver Columbian)

Small beginnings

idaho RANDY

Political parties draw their strength from organization. Political parties that win are those able to generate numbers on the ballots, and they don't do that by osmosis.

They do it on ground level, through people working in their counties and neighborhoods, and representing their party too – putting a human face on them. These things may sound old-fashioned but they're not: Just ask the hyperlocal Obama campaign of 2012, probably the best-organized political campaign ever.

That makes a headline from last week in the Pendleton East Oregonian, about a small meeting in a rural house out in small Morrow County, of some larger interest and maybe importance.

Morrow County is, politically, what you might expect. It is a small-population and rural county well east of the Cascades, with little tie to many of the interests that help staff and underwrite Democratic organizations in places like Portland. It is solidly Republican. In recent years Republican voter registration has run around 41% and Democratic has fluctuated around 28-31%. It routinely votes strongly for Republican candidates for major office and for the legislature.

That doesn't mean morrow doesn't have Democrats, but Republicans here have tended to do better than registration might suggest. One reason may be that Democrats here simply haven't been organized. That isn't a swipe at anyone; the East Oregonian said there's not been a Morrow County Democratic organization for 22 years.

The news was that Greg Hall, a relatively new resident new Boardman, decided to do something about it. A former North Carolinian, accustomed to a Democratic party sometimes outvoted but never nonexistent, he filed on September 5 to form one. Then he called for an organization meeting at his rural house early this month.

The article held a focus on Hall as he waited for people to arrive, and began to wonder if anyone would.

They did, no great crowd but a substantial number.
From the East Oregonian: “Every person who arrived was Hispanic. Because Morrow County is 36% Hispanic, according to the 2012 census, Hall hopes to find unregistered Hispanic voters to gain ground in an established Republican stronghold.”

They start, of course, from an underdog position; they're not going to outnumber Republicans in this county any time soon. Nor is this going to change the social sea water in this county.

But activity like this is where it starts: With county officers and precinct leaders, who in turn can bring into play people who hadn't been involved in politics before. From one voice in the county, you move to two; from non-competitive you may move, over time, to competitive.

And change is made.

On the front pages


Again, the top stop of the day was Idaho's struggle over gay marriage, and how the elimination of the same-sex marriage ban by the 9th Circuit Court was put on hold by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. the stories also told how word of Kennedy's stay hit courthouses just as they opened for business in the morning, and the word arrived so close to the initial applications that one couple in Twin Falls County actually walked away with a marriage license before issuance stopped.

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)

Idaho gay marriage ban stays, for now (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Another look at higher tuition at BSU (Boise Statesman)
Rexburg July flood victims blaming city (IF Post Register)
Overview of state treasurers campaign (IF Post Register)
Idaho County asks to cut more wood (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators urge change on teacheer certification (TF Times News)

Benton schools slip a bit in rankings (Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene will consider marijuana tax (Eugene Register Guard)
Whole Foods seeks some Eugene city wivers (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath research district needs petitions (KF Herald & News)
Timber acreage sold by JWTR to Green Diamond (KF Herald & News)
New studies set for Emigrant Lake (Medford Tribune)
Medford area schools improve in state report (Medford Tribune)
PacifiCorp asks to add renewables to mix (Pendleton E Oregonian)
VP Biden campaigns for Merkley (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
State schools report shows general improvement (Portland Oregonian)
Marion Co child report shows poor numbers (Salem Statesman Journal)

California company plans 2 WA mental hospitals (Bremereton Sun)
Kilmer critizes military per diem cut plan (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbrige rejects police, sheriff center combo (Bremerton Sun)
Oso homeowners can get financial help (Everett Herald)
State may update distracted driving laws (Olympian)
Supreme Court will consider Amazon pay case (Seattle Times)
Mercer businesses hit in e coli scare (Seattle Times)
Gay marriage in Idaho halted again (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane Co will pay 350K in jail lawsuit (Spokane Spokesman)
Lewis-McChord airmen fly ebola missions (Tacoma News Tribune)
Judge rejects order on jailed mentally ill (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co computers damaged by water (Vancouver Columbian)
More lights planned for Snoqualmie Pass (Yakima Herald Republic)