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Posts published in November 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)

Prison director Reinke quits (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Ada County wrongful firing case back to court (Boise Statesman)
Eastern Idaho legislators may advance (IF Post Register)
Stevenson vote recount still leaves Rudolph winner (Lewiston Tribune)
UI team gets $1 million from USDA on manure-fuel (Moscow News)
BLM pulls permission for wolf derby event (TF Times News)
Files settles case with owner of shot dog (TF Times News)

Eugene holds off on stadium decision (Eugene Register Guard)
Asante Regional Medical grows cardiac center (Medford Tribune)
Jackson sheriff's deputy blasts homosexuality (Medford Tribune)
State reviews tax credit on biomass (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber prepares budget plan for next year (Salem Statesman Journal)

Splitting up revenue from park lands sales (Bremerton Sun)
Lease expanded on VA clinic in Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Beer production back at Olympic brewery (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz PUD rates might go up 5% (Longview News)
County uses road funds to limit tax increases (Longview News)
Bill would let VA use medical pot (Olympian)
State-run disabilities home hot with federal cites (Spokane Spokesman)
Court: Tacoma cable must release broadcast fees (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark County increases jobs by 7,300 (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark auditor disapproves of some fee waivers (Vancouver Columbian)

New Alaska governor, new vision

trahant MARK


Alaskans from across the state met on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage over the weekend to talk about the transition to a new governor’s administration. The process itself was unusual, a crowded, open forum about ideas.

But even more rare: The depth of participation by Alaska Native leaders, chairing several key committees, participating on panels, and having a say in what happens next.

The co-chair for the Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov-elect Byron Mallott is Ana Hoffman, executive and president of the Bethel Native Corp. and co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She read a statement Sunday said the public transition process was designed as a “collaboration” and “to create a vision for Alaska.”

That vision represents a significant shift. Starting with this sentence: “We should identify best practices and utilize tribal structures to capture the values in our state,” Hoffman reported.

Think about that for a minute. In a state where the idea of native governance has been reduced to only a for-profit corporate model, the new leaders’ of the state are talking about using tribal structures to improve values and lives. In other words: Tribal governments matter. Even in Alaska.

Hoffman’s articulation of the transition principles carried forth some other radical notions.

— That Medicaid expansion can lead to self-sufficiency (as well as improved health care). This is exactly right. Medicaid dollars for the Alaska Native medical system, like the Indian health system in other states, is funded by federal dollars. That means more health care dollars; a bigger pie.

— “We have covered the entire spectrum from education to oil and gas and we recognize there are greater economic development opportunities ahead for Alaska,” Hoffman said.

— And, I love this, the document says, “We all agree to put fish first.”

This is how it should be. In a world where fish come first, there is a natural order, a sanctity of life, and a guarantee of clean water and health families.

Gov.-elect Walker praised Craig Fleener who had been his running mate until the fusion ticket came together with Mallott. Fleener, Athabascan, is a former deputy commissioner of Fish and Game and has worked for tribal governments. “This is the guy,” Walker said describing their conversation when he asked him to withdraw from the ballot. “He said, ‘OK. But you had better win.’ Without that, Byron and I would not be standing here today.” (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)

Pot activists try kickoff in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Statehouse Christmas tree lighting, early this year (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston set ban on pot businesses (Lewiston Tribune)
Lawsuit may emerge from dredging plans (Lewiston Tribune)
Panel kills proposed state public defender system (Lewiston Tribune)
AG says police legally clear for body cams (Moscow News)
Moscow looks at new food truck ordinances (Moscow News)
Major Ada-Canyon gang bust (Nampa Press Tribune)
State tax incentive for Pocatello airport business (Pocatello Journal)

Mall forbears non-opener fineson Thanksgiving (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield votes to help displaced tenants (Eugene Register Guard)
Petition for research/extension center falls short (KF Herald & News)
Automatic recount on GMO petition (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Mail Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian)

Bremerton Port budget approved (Bremerton Sun)
Rotting trees lead to toledo park closure (Longview News)
Vancouver would absorb most oil trains of any terminal (Longview News)
AG says cops can use body cams (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Seattle may write new rules on medical pot dispensaries (Seattle Times)
Watching Ferguson, Seattle sees protest 'die-in' (Seattle Times)
Spokane pay increases going away (Spokane Spokesman)
Herrera Beutler questions Cowlitz casino prospect (Vancouver Columbian)
High cost of moving Millennium Plaza artwork (Yakima Herald Republic)

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)