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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)

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.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Otter still beseiged by broadband contract trouble (Boise Statesman)
Notus tries to find cheap repairs for school (Boise Statesman)
Columbia River tribe seeks riverside housing (Boise Statesman)
The politics of semi-Democratic Teton County (IF Post Register)
Glitch in WA health exchange website (Lewiston Tribune)
Legal battles over Idaho Co private forest tracts (Lewiston Tribune)
Federal funding short for road projects (Nampa Press Tribune)
Statewide school officials seek bonding help (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello and ISU police developing issues (Pocatello Journal)
Schools dealing with broadband uncertainty (TF Times News)

Tree-like Eugene cell tower concerns neighbors (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislator Hoyle said to interfere in lawsuit (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing crime stats in Klamath area (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission votes against water agreement (KF Herald & News)
White City operations sending out bogus bills (Medford Tribune)
The cost of state workers suing the state (Salem Statesman Journal)

Violent crime rates fall sharply in Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Low voter turnout in 2014 (Bremerton Sun)
Cowlitz County faces budget cut next year (Longview News)
Glitches in health exchange on first day (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Dorn proposes cutting high school graduation test (Olympian)
Port Angeles port hit with audit complaints (Port Angeles News)
Kenmore Air ends service at Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Spokane presses for 'green bonds' for sewer system (Spokane Spokesman)
Police tracking phones must disclose intent (Tacoma News Tribune)
New wing of Tacoma Art Museum opens (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co home prices not yet fully recovered (Vancouver Columbian)
First pot auction in state held at Prosser (Yakima Herald Republic)
Nitrate pollution found at Yakama Nation (Yakima Herald Republic)

There are multitudes

idaho RANDY

When market analysts such as politicians need insight into how people really view something, they often convene a focus group.

Last week I sought out something like that, consisting of party-line Republican Idaho voters. The 19 responses were enough (together with a collection of comments from a range of other sources) to tell me this much: The 220,000 or more (more in a presidential year) who vote down-the-line Republican in Idaho arrive at that result not by any one, but in variety of ways.

First, thanks to all who responded. I'll honor the requests for anonymity from a number of respondents; I will say that none of them were familiar to me or are well-known public figures. Eight of the 19 didn't specifically meet the terms of the request: They broke from the Republican ticket once or twice, mostly in the superintendent of public instruction race, but also for governor and secretary of state. The explanations for the vote were usually specific, several about as lengthy as this column.

Detail wasn't absent from all down-the-line respondents. One said of GOP superintendent candidate Sherri Ybarra: “much more complete in the debates and showed her concern about educating the WHOLE child. She understands the use of money and how best to use in to get the most out of what she is given. She will not just have her hand out. She will fit in with the Republican Legislators and the land board.” Of Lawerence Denny for secretary of state: “This was a tough one for me. Reason, experience and land board.” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter: “I've been disappointed at times. Idaho taking on the Federal mandated Insurance exchange for one. Balukoff ran a one issue race on more money for education without answers.”

Some respondents clearly had followed the campaigns, but there seemed a gap: Was it just coincidence that all their choices went to one party?

Most of the all-R voters, however, focused on the nature of the parties.

One seemed to focus on President Obama: “Considering the Republican tide that swept the country on Nov 4, with Obama stating he wasn’t on the ballot but his policies were; a vote for any Democrat was a vote for Obama’s policies. Idaho voters priorities were in step with the country and were clearly shown. Stop Obama’s policies!!!” (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)

Heavy snow falls on Treasure Valley (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Eagle former energy firm execs accused of stock scan (Boise Statesman)
Idaho health insurance exchange re-gears up (IF Post Register)
Board of Ed passes revised tiered teacher licensing (IF Post Register)
Lewiston school board may try local sales tax (Lewiston Tribune)
Stretch of earth between Moscow-Pullman moving (Moscow News)
Ethanol plant may be built in Canyon (Nampa Press Tribune)
Post workers protest Pocatello closure (Pocatello Journal)

New business workshop starts in KF (KF Herald & News)
Backers of KF research district collect signatures (KF Herald & News)
Measure 92 opponents lead, but by only 5k (Medford Tribune)
Britt Music Festival drops art director job (Medford Tribune)
Heavy snowfall in eastern Oregon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton will try again on $10m bond plan (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla Co plans vote on pot tax (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wehby sought out state Health Authority job (Portland Oregonian)
No-firearms orders often not followed (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon health insurance enrollment starts (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Marysville shooting recorded on audio (Everett Herald)
Weyerhauser invests heavily in Longview operations (Longview News)
Washington health insurance season begins (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Building company owes $1.8 in Thurston property tax (Olympian)
Clark jail plans better mental health services (Vancouver Columbian)
Hazel Dell activist Van Cleve dies (Vancouver Columbian)
Many vacant spaces in downtown Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)

Careful what you wish for

rainey BARRETT


If you think national government has been unresponsive to our national needs for the last several years, get used to it. ‘Cause you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! Unresponsiveness is about to hit a new, record low.

“Whoa, there Rainey,” you say. “Yeah, that was pretty much a Republican sweep of Congress. And things have moved to the right of center quite a bit. I’ll give you that. But a ‘new low’ in conducting the affairs of the nation? C’mon, now. It’s not that bad.”

“It is,” sez I. And here’s the big reason why. The Cruz ‘missile.”

Yes, Sir. Theodore Cruz - late of Canada by way of Texas. See, Teddy has already loudly voiced his opposition to Mitch McConnell being named majority leader. (Note how the vote to do so was by voice only?) Yes, Sir. And he’s not going to stop running across the Capitol building to work his crazy mischief in the House of Representatives ‘cause now he’s got new help over there. Yes, Sir. And Ol’ Teddy says he’s going to hold up just about anything that comes to the Senate that doesn’t meet his “high standards” for American freedom and democracy! We’re talking legislation, appointments, debt ceiling, budgets - anything that runs counter to his “thinking.” Anything! And, under the rules, he can do that.

Though I’ve never cared much for Mitch - along, it seems, with just about everyone with whom he’s ever come in contact - I’ll give him this. He’s among the best in the politics of the Senate, winning many a battle with deep knowledge of not just the rules of the place but also reading people and knowing how to move them like so many chess pieces. You don’t survive in leadership as long as he has without such tools.

But Mitch is about to face something that’s going to test his legendary skills. To say nothing of his Kentucky patience. Cruz and a rump Republican caucus of crazies. ‘Cause “the Missile” has been talking to some of the old - and all the new - kindred spirits about his plans. And some of that talk has leaked, as it always does in Washington.

For all its high-flown reputation as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate no longer represents the true meaning of those words. In the face of the new confrontational style politics - and the “you’re-with-me-or-against-me” philosophy that’s become so commonplace - senatorial decorum on the floor or in committee has become as theatrical as the World Wrestling Federation. Fits and spats - name calling - back stabbing - undercutting one another just for spite.

There’s no more perfect breeding laboratory for the kind of divisive, in-your-face politics that typifies Ted Cruz. You add to him (current or incoming members of his political void) Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Dan Sullivan, Tim Scott. Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, and likely Ron Johnson among others, and you’ve got a little rump caucus that can tie knots in the best laid legislative procedural plans. Each of them -without reason or question - can deep-six nominations for the cabinet or courts, keep any bill off the floor with a single anonymous whisper or stop movement of any critical legislation such as debt ceilings. (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)

Southern Idaho hit by snow storm (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Reviewing next round on Idaho health exchange (Boise Statesman)
BSU student debt averaging nearly $28k (Boise Statesman)
IF council holds off on dog ordinance change (IF Post Register)
BLM approves predator derby near Salmon (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Asotin aquatic center management in turmoil (Lewiston Tribune)
Asbestos work done at Moscow High School (Moscow News)
New teacher certification rules okd by state board (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
What next for school broadband? (Moscow News)
Deal will retire as state insurance director (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU gets ok for $6.3 million in one-time spending (Pocatello Journal)

Eugene apartment building proposed (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon may see another tax kicker net year (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water bills clear Senate committee (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Commander at Kingsley Field will retire (KF Herald & News)
Medford fire marshal urges sprinklers in all new homes (Medford Tribune)
Snow storm hits much of Oregon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton airport may lease land for solar farm (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Library district may sue city of Irrigon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland didn't see big predicted storm (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon's job picture sees general improvement (Salem Statesman Journal)

New taxi rules for Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Poulsbo considers expanding its budget (Bremerton Sun)
Washington health exchange opens soon (Everett Herald)
Hunters blast at $150 Weyerhaeuser permit (Longview News)
Legislature will be under close split control (Longview News)
Thurston First Bank opens (Olympian)
Griffey declared win over Haigh in 35 (Olympian)
Clallam gets its first retail pot shop (Port Angeles News)
Amazon, Hachette end their battle (Seattle Times)
Schools don't have enough substitute teachers (Seattle Times)
Hotel developer will build 2 in Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
Murray moves to minority position (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima sees mix of air quality (Yakima Herald Republic)
Pot auction, first in WA, planned at Prosser (Yakima Herald Republic)

An Idahoan in Israel

peterson MARTIN

On election day, while many Idahoans visited their polling places, I was 7000 miles away on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. For Jews, Temple Mount, the former location of their two historic temples, is their holiest site. For Muslims, the mount contains the Dome of the Rock and al- Aksa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. The commonality for both Jews and Muslims is that the mount is the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Both religions are descended from Abraham.

Temple Mount has been the focal point of differences between Muslims and Jews that have set off the current round of violence in Israel and Palestine. The day after we visited the mount, an Arab with ties to Hamas drove his car into a crowd of people at the base of the mount, killing two people.

I had two things I wanted to accomplish in Israel. The first was to visit a number of historic sites, including many that form the foundation for Christianity. There may be more historic sites and ruins in Israel than any other country. The second was to spend time in the Palestinian areas to try to get a better handle on things that are driving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I began my visit as a fairly staunch supporter of the Israeli government.

The Jews have a sad history of suffering from discrimination, oppression, apartheid, confiscation of property and worse. Unfortunately, the more time I spent in Israel, the more it became obvious to me that the Israeli government has adopted a modified Golden Rule that goes something like “Do unto others as others have done unto you.”

There is no doubt that Hamas and other such groups provide a major threat to Israel. However, Israel doesn’t seem to understand that for a growing number of Palestinians, especially the young, things appear so hopeless that revolution is the only possible way out. Apartheid isn’t working any better in Israel than it worked in South Africa. In the United States, we launched a revolution against the British for much less cause.

Looking down on a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem, I saw a group of teenagers throwing rocks at Israeli police cars, with the police firing tear gas at them. Watching this unfold I was told that such acts have become a recreational activity for Palestinian young people, since they have no parks, no recreation programs and little else to occupy their time. The Israeli government has responded with a law that provides up to twenty years in prison for throwing rocks at vehicles with the intent of damaging them.

Most Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land aspire to visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem happens to be a West Bank town controlled by the Palestinians. Israel is now in the process of constructing a 26 foot high wall around Bethlehem and other Palestinian controlled areas. When completed, the wall will be 500 miles long. By way of comparison, the Berlin Wall was 12 feet high and 96 miles long.

The eastern border of the West Bank consists of two heavy duty barbed wire fences roughly ten yards apart, with the central area planted with land mines. (more…)