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Posts published in November 2014

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)

The rural view

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Elections are over, but the groaning continues from the “enlightened” elite, which saw beloved Democrats get kicked in the teeth.

Conventional “enlightened” wisdom is that those ignorant hicks in rural Idaho didn’t know what they were doing. If unenlightened rural folk read the Idaho Statesman, the flagship paper of the Great State of Ada, they surely would have voted for Democrat A.J. Balukoff as governor. Better informed people also would have voted for Jana Jones as state superintendent of public instruction, Holli Woodings as secretary of state and Deborah Silver as state treasurer. I’ve also heard speculation that Democrats lost because they failed to field quality candidates in this cycle.

Hogwash. Rural Idahoans knew exactly what they were doing on Election Day and the Democratic ticket was plenty strong. The only problem with Democrats is they were from the wrong party; people in rural Idaho simply don’t trust Democrats. State Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, a former congressional staff member of Helen Chenoweth, says the “enlightened” few have it all wrong.

“People in rural Idaho are well educated and very independent, and that’s why we live here,” she said. “We like coming up with our own ideas, doing our own research and we don’t need to receive a daily paper with liberal tripe telling us how to think.”

With few exceptions, rural Idahoans think Democrats belong in California, or the East Coast – but not in any position of authority in Idaho. As Boyle explains, Democrats tend to be for gun control and more taxes, and liberal concepts such as Common Core and Obamacare.
Voters from Idaho’s heartland knew little about State Superintendent-elect Sherri Ybarra, who had the closest race of the night. “But they figured an ‘R’ was better than a ‘D,’” Boyle said. Rural Idahoans were not about to go against Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney of Midvale, who was about as rural as a candidate can get.

“He’s a farmer and he’s not afraid to say, ‘I believe in the Lord, believe in the family and believe in our country,’” Boyle said. “Those are basic Idaho principles.”

Abortion, gay marriage and gun control – staples of the Democratic platform – are not among the basic principles in rural Idaho.

Boyle celebrated the GOP’s victory in the mid-term elections, saying “the American people figured out what was going on.” But she is not pleased to see another four years of Gov. Butch Otter, which Boyle said has produced “backroom deals, the whole dang thing with the prisons, the (Idaho Education Network), the crony capitalism that is going on.”

Boyle’s friends and neighbors saw the “good-old-boy” side of Otter. “He goes around, slaps everybody on the back and has a drink with them,” Boyle said. “People don’t know how vindictive he is, how hateful he is and how he says one thing and does the totally opposite.”

But those factors didn’t come into play on Election Day, and it probably would not have made a difference if news about the IEN’s broadband contract came out before the election. All that mattered was that Otter had an “R” by his name.

To rural Idahoans, a flawed Republican governor is far better than the best candidate that Democrats can field.

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)

Gayle Steel plant plans to expand into Caldwell (Boise Statesman)
Boise weather records falling (Boise Statesman)
Molenaar jewelers will close with retirement (Boise Statesman)
Poverty, low incomes in Salmon (IF Post Register)
Idahoans are heavy water users (IF Post Register)
County won't get into aquatic center head firing (Lewiston Tribune)
Palouse changes rule on animals in residences (Moscow News)
Inslee plans tax on carbon pollution (Moscow News)
Idaho schools running in broadband loss trouble (Moscow News)
Ice persists on Canyon Co roads (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa plans library opening for March 14 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho health insurance exchange goes smoothly (Nampa Press Tribune)
More whooping cough cases seen (Pocatello Journal)
Grand Targhee, Pomerelle ski areas opening (Pocatello Journal)
Some consider closing Idaho Medicaid gap (TF Times News)
After embezzlement, CSI changes finance controls (TF Times News)

Springfield looks to grow into Goshen (Eugene Register Guard)
UO donors may encourage nursing degrees (Eugene Register Guard)
Sea star due off attributed to virus (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath commissioners get blowback on water deal (KF Herald & News)
Richardson reviews campaign, money (Medford Tribune)
Bob Jenson wraps 18 years in Salem (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Some Pendleton area roads in rough shape (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla co okays 50% pot tax (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wyden timber bill splits environmentalists (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap hospicer changes leadership group (Bremerton Sun)
Hot Springs Road reopens after 3 years (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish County offers alternative budget plan (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz has state's highest heoin death rate (Longview News)
Trial ahead on in-jail deaths (Longview News)
Old Olympia brewery at Tumwater gets new owner (Olympian)
Sea star die off attribured to virus (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Driver said too have caused Skagit bridge collapse (Olympian)
Union Bank cut three branches on Peninsula (Port Angeles News)
Inslee plans more environmental legislation (Seattle Times)
Avista offers site for museum (Spokane Spokesman)
New convention hotel nearly done at Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
No problems with reopening of Idaho exchange (Spokane Spokesman)
More sheriff cuts approved at Pierce Co (Tacoma News Tribune)
Class size issue creates budget conflict (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil terminal mail misstates finances (Vancouver Columbian)

The long arm of AIPAC

carlson CHRIS


The concensus among most political pundits in and around Washington, D.C., is that the most powerful, influential political action committee is the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Most members of Congress think twice before crossing it.

It rewards its supporters with lavish contributions generated from its many members across the nation and is quick to punish those who vote against what they define as the best interests of Israel. Even Greg Casey, the talented Idahoan who once was Senator Larry Craig’s chief of staff and then Sergeant of Arms of the Senate, and is now president of BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee) would concede his powerful PAC is Avis to the pro-Israel Hertz.

With the leadership of the pro-Israel PAC, one is either for or against them. There’s no middle ground; their issues are black or white, and if you don’t vote with them 100% of the time, then you are suspected of harboring anti-Semetic views, as any who question how the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians soon find out.

Recently, well known Idahoan Marty Peterson, who retired from public service over a year ago, visited Israel. Marty’s last post was that of vice president for government affairs and lead lobbyist for the University of Idaho. Prior to that he served in a variety of posts including service as budget director for Governor John Evans, executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, and executive director of the Idaho Centennial Commission.

Marty is a history buff and a keen observer of political affairs so he shared his take on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with a column posted on Randy Stapilus’ widely read blog, Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest. Like most Americans, he flew to Israel thinking he was pretty pro-Israel. Unlike most though, he saw through the propaganda and ended up expressing great sympathy for the Palestinians whom he observed are being treated by Israel much as Jewish people have been mistreated over the centuries.

In particular, Marty noted the defiant extension of law-breaking Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and the unilateral appropriation of water for these illegal settlements taken from the Palestinian owners. He also had a long visit with the recently retired Catholic Archbishop for Galilee, Elias Chacour. (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)

Digging begins at downtown Boise Center Plaza (Boise Statesman)
Idahoans biggest water uses in nation (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Deep freeze remains in Treasure Valley (Nampa Press Tribune)
2014 was an average year for poaching in Idaho (TF Times News)

Eugene parks efforts funded in 2012 move ahead (Eugene Register Guard)
Farmer markets near saturation, study says (Medford Tribune)
Much of rural Oregon still struggling economically (Portland Oregonian)
Salem considers increases in garbage rates (Salem Statesman Journal)

Small companies can buy coverage (Bremerton Sun)
Bremerton police reconsidering body cams (Bremerton Sun)
Edmonds considers massive tunnel for trains (Everett Herald)
State group will look at landslides (Everett Herald)
Failure of Oregon driver issue, national view (Longview News)
New Cowlitz commissioner getting ready (Longview News)
JZ Knight argues conservative foundation is political group (Olympian)
Port Angeles still tries luring Kenmore Air back (Port Angeles News)
DEA checking on Seahawks, other medical staffs (Seattle Times)
Spokane County takes over garbage pickup (Spokane Spokesman)
BNSF rail buys new heating units (Spokane Spokesman)
Where will 1,000 new students at Battle Ground go? (Vancouver Columbian)
Washington state health exhange working again (Vancouver Columbian)
Are Yakima water regs an over-burden? (Yakima Herald Republic)

Seconds, horseshoes, and the future

idaho RANDY

Only one side gets to win in an election, and that's the side with the most votes – even if the loser got almost as many.
As the old saying goes, second-place matters only in horseshoes.

Sometimes in politics, though, it can mean a little more than that. Measure 92, the statewide Oregon ballot issue intended to require labeling of certain GMO food products, lost at this election. But three elements of that loss may almost ensure it comes back around again, with maybe a better shot next time.
One aspect is the sheer closeness of the vote. Fairly close on election night, it got tighter and tighter and by the end of last week, just 4,539 votes – out of nearly 1,5 million cast – separated the two sides. That was in a low-turnout election in which the population probably skewed more against the measure than a larger, presidential-year, electorate probably would.

Simply for that reason, you have to suspect that if this same campaign had been run two years hence, the measure would have passed.

Second was the massive money influx – mainly on the “no” side. Watch Portland television in the last month before the election and (this isn't an exaggerations) every other commercial during many time blocks on station after station was anti-92. It was a stunning deluge of TV spots, vastly outweighing everything else (all other political campaigns combined). (The spending for the antis was reported in several places as topping $16 million, and that may have been an incomplete figure.) That message may have been well enough crafted to achieve the short-term result, but quite a few Oregonians may, in hindsight, wonder if that issue wasn't simply bought.

The third aspect of it was the nature of the negative message. I'll not here get into the matter of how accurate its contentions were. But they were sharply challenged, and a campaign of dishonesty was alleged. Whether right or wrong, that's not a situation likely to simply be allowed to sit.

You can expect this one to return. Oregonians are perfectly willing to reconsider their voting choices, as their decisive vote to legalize marijuana this year demonstrated.
Will they do the same on GMOs in 2016 or beyond?

In the Briefings

Washington at 215

Hundreds gathered in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday afternoon to join in the state’s 125th birthday celebration. Among the state officials speaking at the event were Gov. Jay Inslee (First Lady Trudi Inslee also spoke) and Secretary of State Kim Wyman. (Here Wyman, at the podium, shares a laugh with the governor, to the right.) Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn also attended. Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro emceed the celebration, which included the introduction of the 2014 Capsule Keepers, who were sworn in by Wyman near the Centennial Time Capsule at the south end of the Legislative Building. (photo/secretary of state)

Moving on from the elections, a range of other topics came to the fore last week – education policy, environmental concerns and more. Not to mention the first big snow storm of the season.