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Posts published in November 2014

In the Briefings

Spalding bridge

Repair work was recently completed on the Spalding Bridge, taking state Highway 8 over the Clearwater River. See the story in the transportation section. (photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

This week will be a quiet stretch in official action in the Northwest states (as elsewhere), with the Thanksgiving holiday dominating the latter part of the week. There’ll be plenty of news stories, of course, about Black Friday (and Black Thursday).

Whatever your plans: happy Thanksgiving!

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)

Issues following on WA vote for small classes (Moscow News)
Weak funding for busy Valley Transit (Nampa Press Tribune)
Possible Crater of the Moon national park? (TF Times News)

Flooding, other issues at UO Capstone residence (Eugene Register Guard)
Sweet Home tries to find its wayy to a new future (Portland Oregonian)
Fed report collecting $11.9 in Oregon litigation (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap officials will vote on pay (Bremerton Sun)
Independent cancer docs being pressured out (Seattle Times)
Solar and wind now almost as cheap as conventional power (Seattle Times)
Conair chooses Spokane for new firefighter planes (Spokane Spokesman)
On the largest proposed oil terminal at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
New park planned for Washougal (Vancouver Columbian)

A need for a new job metric

idaho RANDY

The unemployment stats in Washington and Oregon are a study in popular confidence as measured against the realistic basis for that confidence.

In Washington, for example, the state unemployment rate rose (in the stats released this week) to 6.0%, even though about 5,600 jobs were added to the job market – and filled.

No one was in error here; you just have to know what the unemployment stats reflect. As an article in this issue notes, Washington “State labor economist Paul Turek said the increase in the unemployment rate is not necessarily bad news because it is directly related to an increase in the state’s labor force, which rose by 12,200 in October.

And he said: “These numbers demonstrate increased confidence by job seekers entering or re-entering the marketplace. Job growth continues to gain momentum—with the state adding roughly 7,000 jobs a month—but for this month, the increase in the number of new job seekers entering into the labor market’s civilian workforce was greater than the number of new jobs added. That explains the increase in the unemployment rate.”

That was even more dramatically true in Oregon, which added even more jobs – 9,900 – than twice-as-big Washington state. Oregon’s was in fact the largest one-month addition of jobs in 20 years. But its unemployment rate stubbornly stayed put at 7.0%, which sounds worse than it is. It did that because workers have been pouring back into the work force (and, probably, a number of workers have been arriving from out of state as well).

For decades, we’ve focused hard on the unemployment rates (and note them here regularly). But have we reached a point where the more logical measure is of the balance between jobs opening up and those closing? Maybe something measuring, over the haul, the growth/retraction in jobs compared with the overall working-age population?

Certainly, we need some better metrics. The old ones just aren’t as useful as they once were.

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)

Re-evaluations of Ada County's homeless (Boise Statesman)
A movement to make Craters of the Moon a national park (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Ball Ventures developing in IF, Ammon (IF Post Register)
About human trafficking in Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
Carmike 7 movie theatres being demolished (Pocatello Journal)

UO Chinese students collect ideas to take home (Eugene Register Guard)
Craft whisleys grow in sales, impact (Medford Tribune)
Election turnout much higher in Oregon than nationally (Medford Tribune)
Looking at finances of Corinthinan Colleges (Portland Oregonian)
Kitzhaber talks about the headling post-election (Portland Oregonian)
Other implications for raising the minimum wage (Salem Statesman Journal)
Chemeketa looks at ways to cut textbook cost (Salem Statesman Journal)

Many requests for police cam footage (Bremerton Sun)
Surprise sale of large chunk of Kitsap land (Bremerton Sun)
Sound Transit may build train line to Everett (Everett Herald)
Fewer foreclosures, house prices rising (Longview News)
Cowlitz County starts online building permit process (Longview News)
Considering levels of safety in Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Kenmore still fields requests to return to PA (Port Angeles News)
Suburban school districts getting crowded (Spokane Spokesman)
Rates for sewer service may drop (Spokane Spokesman)
Reviewing Clark Co's many apartment fires (Vancouver Columbian)

A marker for Labrador?

idaho RANDY

How many Idahoans watched President Obama’s speech Thursday about changes in the federal response to immigrants who got here against the law? Was Representative Raul Labrador among them – and did it spark any activist thoughts in his own mind?

Idaho generally has some particular reason to pay attention. A study by the Pew Research Center released last week showed that Idaho is one of just seven states where unauthorized immigration rose between 2009 and 2012. The population declined in 14 states – twice as many. Maybe more notable: Idaho and Nebraska were the only two western states where that segment of the population increased during those years; it fell in Oregon, Nevada, California and others.

Immigration has become so hot an issue that emotions often drown out facts. A lot of the responses to the Obama talk, pro and con, was suffused with emotion. The reaction from Idaho’s politicians was, as you might expect, harshly negative against Obama’s outline. Representative Mike Simpson said Obama’s actions “have the potential to throw us into a Constitutional Crisis,” though he also said “We cannot shut down the government, impeach the President, or allow this issue to impede progress on deficit reduction, tax reform, or other critical priorities for the American people.” Congressional Republicans will have a lot to talk about in the next few days and weeks.

Labrador does have some expertise in the subject, having worked as an immigration attorney in his private practice. After Obama’s speech he declared, “this is illegal,” and suggested in essence that the Senate reject over the next two years any appointments, budget requests or anything else coming its way from the White House.

The Obama policy may activate people on the other side as well, though. Recent national polling on the matter has been split on Obama taking a unilateral action on the subject. But many in the Latino community will be watching closely what happens next, and Republicans who hope to attract many of their votes in 2016 will have to approach the subject with some caution and diplomacy.

When Labrador went to Congress, one of his assets was strong personal knowledge of how the immigration system works (or fails to), the presumption being that he might be in a position to help move things ahead. So far – and not, certainly, to pile all this on him – a measure has passed the Senate, but efforts to come up with a compromise measure in the House have collapsed. Labrador’s stands on the subject, and his shifts in alliances on it, have been far from clear. (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)

Open Boise council seat draws 29 interested (Boise Statesman)
Boisean generates social media Black Thursday protest (Boise Statesman)
Debate over merger of eastern Idaho economic groups (IF Post Register)
Obama immigration plan irritates Idaho delegation (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Rusche opponent won't seek recount (Lewiston Tribune)
Asotin gets funds for bridge roundabouts (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman pit owner must buy insurance (Moscow News)
Jobless rate declines to 4.1% (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU won't purchase new president's house (Pocatello Journal)
Latinos praising Obama immigrant action (TF Times NEws)

Eugene shopping center sold (Eugene Register Guard)
Hot debate over Klamath commission and water deal (KF Herald & News)
Kingsley Field commander Jeremy Baenen retires (KF Herald & News)
Venerable Kim's restaurant demolished at Medford (Medford Tribune)
Crater Lake plans entrance fees increase of 150% (Medford Tribune)
Governor says Columbia River deal near (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Republicans talk gun check legislation (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon has short deadline for rape charges (Portland Oregonian)
Layoffs at YMCA in Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

State ferries operations director fired (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge plans $6.2m parks bond (Bremerton Sun)
Cowlitz pot businesses growing quickly (Longview News)
State, tribal leaders blast number of oil trains (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Tacoma Bill Cosby show cancelled (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Washington reacts to immigration plans (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian)

Shortchanging Idaho education

carlson CHRIS


Supporters of better state support for public education, both K thru 12 and higher education, awoke the day after the election, to the stunning news that Jana Jones, a former deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction under Marilyn Howard, had lost the SPI race by some 5000 votes to Sherri Ybarra, a Mountain Home educator/administrator.

Ms. Ybarra had committed gaff after gaff, all disclosed in excruciating detail by Spokesman Review capitol reporter Betsy Russell. The mistakes ranged from outright plagiarism of information on her website taken from Jana Jone’s website, to misleading reporters on how long she’d been in the state, how many marraiges she had been in and her failure to vote in any election in the last ten years.

Yet, because she had the R behind her name, said little of substance during the election, generally avoided the press, and stayed away from State conventions like those held by a state’s district superintendents and by school board direcrtors, she won.

That conclusion begs to be restated, and those who know Idaho has to increase public support for education have every right to be angry about this: Jana Jones lost the election that was hers to lose for a variety of reasons. She should stand up and be accountable. She really let down those who have worked so hard for so many years to put education on a better footing.

It’s not just that she ran a lousy campaign, she ran no campaign. She had just one person working with her and supposedly staffing the campaign. She refused to make fund-raising calls, even when friends like the former SPI, Marilyn Howard, would have her over, give her a list of people just waiting to hear from her before they opened their checkbooks, and she would still refuse to make the calls.

Despite this aversion to fund-raising she somehow collected and spent $125,000 on her “campaign.” Still, that was apparently five times more than the $25,000 that Ms. Ybarra reports having spent. That has to be close to a modern day record in low spending per vote - about 11 and ½ cents per vote. By comparison millionaire gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff spent approximately $16.00 per vote received.

Without any evidence, Ms. Jones apparently believed the National Education Association and the Idaho Education Association were going to step in and run an independent campaign for her election. She guessed wrong.

This may sound petty, but even supporters were non-plussed to see how uncombed her hair looked in the statewide televised debate. A photo of the debate that went over the wire made her literally look scatter-brained. There is ample evidence verifying a UCLA study that says 80% of a viewer’s conclusion on who won a debate is related to appearance and non-verbal signals.

What they say is seldom a factor unless there is a real mistake. Ms. Ybarra understood the importance of visuals. Her hair was neat, she dressed with some “power red” in her attire and remained cool and calm. She won the encounter going away despite media coverage saying she had lost. (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)

YMCA school at Meridian a new typ project (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Looking at purple Teton County (Boise Statesman)
Republicans backing Clark for Bonneville prosecutor (IF Post Register)
Stevenson wants recount in legislative race (Lewiston Tribune)
Body camera cop footage requests overwhelming (Moscow News)

Clatsop Co crime stats available (Astorian)
New finance director names for Astoria port (Astorian)
Astoria airports gets final piece of funding (Astorian)
Oregon immigration impact noted (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News)
Snow headed for Cascades (Medford Tribune)
More homelessness among Medford students (Medford Tribune)
Legislators mull packing and edible pot (Pendleton E Oregonian)

Poulsbo council shaken up (Bremerton Sun)
Washington and the new immigration rules (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Longview council rejects oxygen idea for water fix (Longview News)
Clallam debates over electronic warfare (Port Angeles News)
Massive cop-camera data demand dropped (Seattle Times)
More additions to Mt Spokane resort efforts (Spokane Spokesman)
About text messagss from Marysville shooter (Tacoma News Tribune)

London who?

rainey BARRETT


Here on the central Oregon coast, we seldom make headlines. Most of us like it that way. That’s one of the reasons we live here. Usually peaceful, quiet sort of place - except for tourist season. But, even then, people come and go and life still runs at an acceptably normal pace for most of us.

When we do make the national news, it’s almost always because something bad has happened. Something very abnormal - usually dealing with death and/or destruction. The news kids from Portland and Eugene run over to take notice, shoot some pictures and spread whatever the details may be of our latest anomaly. Like - well - like a mother leading her six-year-old boy by the hand out a quarter mile to the middle of a very high bridge, throwing him 133 feet to his death - then calling the cops. Things like that.

The 3,260 foot long Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport is a major icon on the Oregon coast - one of 11 bridges designed in the 1930's and ‘40's by engineer Conde McCullough. All his work has a sort of art deco flavor with large curved arches at the center. Nearly all are on the National Historic Register and, when repairs have been required because of age and wear and tear, the structures have been faithfully kept true to the original designs. We who traverse them regularly don’t give them much thought. Not much, that is, until someone uses one as a murder weapon.

The self-confessed killer is Jillian McCabe. The victim was her autistic son, London. That evening, immediately after throwing London to his death, she called 9-1-1, confessed, then waited on the sidewalk of the center span we locals have traveled over so many times without thinking of it as a possible crime scene. She just waited as cops, EMT’s and onlookers arrived in ever-increasing numbers. In about two hours later, everyone was gone and Jillian McCabe was on a suicide watch in the Lincoln County jail.

Four hours later, some folks walking on a dock at an upscale condominium complex a couple of miles East of the bridge saw the small, broken body floating a few feet out.

About the only other factual details available at this point are these: Jillian’s husband had been recently diagnosed with MS and lost his job - London was autistic and required special expensive care he wouldn’t be able to get - his mother had no special employment skills and her family said she had mental problems for a long time.

So, now you know the facts. Such as they are.

Oh, one more thing. A couple of hundred adults and children - most of whom had heard of London McCabe - descended on Newport to hold a couple of vigils in his memory and to tell local media “we’ll never forget.”

The problem is - they will forget. In a way, they already have. They’ll go home, get involved with their normal lives and an Oregon mother’s murder of her child will soon be just another distant memory. If that.

Jillian McCabe will be arraigned eventually. She’ll be shuttled off to a state institution for mental evaluation - one that should’ve been done years ago when her family watched a person they knew had problems get married and have a child. Jillian will come back and, given the facts and that taxpayer-funded exam, be judged on her proven incompetence, be assigned to a state institution and become just another closed case in the files of the Lincoln County Prosecutor. In a year - maybe two - most of us will forget.

But there are others - many others who should remember. Others who include politicians who fail to adequately fund society’s responsibilities to care for those with mental defect or injury. Like the hundreds of thousands of young people sent off to war with no damned thought about their medical- AND psychiatric - needs after multiple trips to the battlefields. We paid to train ‘em and send ‘em out to kill. But we never thought about ‘em coming home with unseen mental injuries caused by the killing and now so many are killing themselves at home we don’t even report the statistics any more. There are Jillian McCabes in their numbers. (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)

A week later, Ada roads still icy (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho Health Exchange holds open house (IF Post Register)
WA struaggles with money for smaller classes (Lewiston Tribune)
Labrador congressional action on Riggins gun range (Lewiston Tribune)
Walla Walla college leader stays despite criticism (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington state may see budget shortfall (Moscow News)
UI considers all-campus ban on tobacco (Moscow News)
State asks for broadband decision reconsideration (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Battle consitnues over Gooding superintendent (TF Times News)

Eugene will fine Uber car service (Eugene Register Guard)
UO prepares to build new softball field (Eugene Register Guard)
Gerber Reservoir going nearly dry (KF Herald & News)
Klamath Chamber supports water agreement (KF Herald & News)
OR cities press for local pot taxes (KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
False subscription bills charged at White City (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton airport infrastructure work okayed (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Nike planning massive expansion in Washington Co (Portland Oregonian)
Jordan Cove LNG may emit greenhouse gases (Portland Oregonian)
Salem might contract with new ambulance service (Salem Statesman Journal)

Washington state may see revenue shortfall (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
New ferry will be the Chimacum (Bremerton Sun)
Lots of residential projects at Silverdale (Bremerton Sun)
Texts hinted at possible Marysville shooting (Everett Herald)
Hedge fund buys Millennium terminal firm (Longview News)
Council, downtown Port Angeles group conflict (Port Angeles NEws)
First Federal plans public offering (Port Angeles News)
Two zoo elephants leaving Seattle (Seattle Times)
Big Delta order goes to Airbus, not Boeing (Seattle Times)
Medical pot sellers gain market advantage (Tacoma News Tribune)
Museum removes guns in wake of new gun law (Tacoma News Tribune)
WA health exchange roaring ahead (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima school districts admits special ed errors (Yakima Herald Republic)

Welcome to 21st century Alaska

trahant MARK


Watching Alaska politics, for me, has been like looking back in time. The animosity of state institutions toward Alaska Natives is all too familiar. It’s Arizona during the 1950s and 1960s. Or Washington state during the 1960s and 1970s. Or Montana just after the turn of the new century. Not that those states are perfect now. Far from it. But what’s reflected in Alaska is a list of official state acts that show contempt for Alaska Native concerns.

Alaska voters just flipped on the time machine and zoomed forward. Welcome to the 21st century, Alaska.

The story is both improbable and historic. The year started with a three-way race for governor.

The current governor, Sean Parnell, who has been zealous litigant against Native interests during his time in office. His message was consistent: No to sovereignty. No to rethinking subsistence hunting and fishing in a way that would work for people who’ve managed game and fisheries for tens of thousands of years. And even a no when it came to ending court cases that Alaska Natives had already won. No. No. No.

Then two candidates, one an independent and the other a Democrat, challenged that idea in forum after forum. At the National Congress of American Indians in June, for example, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott already sounded like they were on the same page when it came to Alaska Native issues. This was expected from Mallott, a member of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, and a clan leader of the Kwaashk’i Kwáan of the Raven people. But Walker was right there too, issue after issue, showing how to open the door to a new century.

Alaska should be the model for Indian Country and state relations. Alaska Natives are nearly 20 percent of the population and growing faster than the general population. And, like so many other states, Native presence, culture, and economic acts are intertwined with Alaska’s success. This state will never be more than an oil and gas colony unless it gets right with Alaska Natives.

The election is over. Promises are made. And now it’s time to see that model engaged. A transition team — one that includes Native leadership — is already moving forward.

Last August Gov.-elect Walker told me that it would take him about “fifteen minutes” for Alaska to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This alone is huge. The Alaska Native medical system is remarkable now, but imagine what can be done with additional money. Imagine what can be done with a better partner from the state. A partnership that should create new jobs and improve health care delivery. As Walker himself said, “It helps between 10,000 and 40,000 Alaskans. And it creates 4,000 new medical jobs in our state and brings down the cost of health care. Why would we not do that?”

Why not, indeed?

But “why not?” is worth asking about on so many issues of contention between the state and Alaska Natives. (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)

Idaho Medicaid work group tries again (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho Power links with solar operators (Boise Statesman)
Battle at Asotin aquatic center continues (Lewiston Tribune)
Growth in illegal immigrant population in Idaho (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU fraternity cited for violations (Moscow News)
Regional 911 center blasted in auditor report (Moscow News)
Public record lawsuits cost Pullman more than $100k (Moscow News)
ISU will buy new house for its president (Pocatello Journal)
Bannock Co considers access to forest roads (Pocatello Journal)
Gooding school employees seek superintendent ouster (TF Times News)
Nitrate, dairy industry denate roars on (TF Times News)

Oregon economy and population both growing (Eugene Register Guard)
Sex assault survey decried as flawed (Eugene Register Guard)
New track project set for OIT (KF Herald & News)
KF and Pacific Power at odds on agreement (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co GMO ban challenged in new lawsuit (Medford Tribune)
Democrats may be able to expand OR gun checks (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton plans bond effort for 2015 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tri-Met executive may get 11 weeks of vacation (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon cities looking for pot taxes (Portland Oregonian)
Legislators review what now with Cover Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal)

Snohomish ends permission for night work at mine (Everett Herald)
Longview plans oxygen additive to water (Longview News)
Sequim will get school bond issue (Port Angeles News)
Looking at the sea star die off (Port Angeles News)
Laurelhurt neighborhood gets its own cops (Seattle Times)
No Sounder train runs in work for U.S. Open events (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Auto dealer expansion would raze several blocks (Spokane Spokesman)
Parking problems ahead for Tacoma Amtrak station (Tacoma News Tribune)
$7.5m assessed to MultiCare over billing (Tacoma News Tribune)
Scenario: Lewis-McChord might lose 11,000 (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co loses C-Tran board spot (Vancouver Columbian)
New district lines under new Clark Co charter (Vancouver Columbian)
Illegal immigrants: OR drop, ID rise, steady in WA (Vancouver Columbian)
Fire operations merged at Yakima, Union Gap (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima keeps moratorium on new homeless shelters (Yakima Herald Republic)