Writings and observations

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

The Oregon Secretary of States office released the November voter registration totals today. While total registrations shrank by 0.12%, The Independent Party grew by over a half a percent in a single month and now has 108,446 members. Democratic Party membership shrank twice as fast as overall voter reduction at 0.25% and and the Republican Party shrank at the same rate as registered voters – 0.12%

But the big news is that the Independent Party of Oregon is 292 members away from becoming Oregon’s first new major party in …..a lot of years. The IPO gained 534 new members in November and appears to be poised to hit the major party standard (5% of all registered voters as of the most recent general election) possibly as soon as December, 2014.

Phil Keisling has been heard to have said that the IPO reaching major party status would be a game changer. Especially if, as has been discussed, it elects to open it’s May 2016 primary to NAV voters.

IPO leaders have been in discussions with officials at the Oregon Secretary of State office to coordinate the implementation of major party status and do discuss how non affiliated voters could participate in the IPO May Primary election.

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Harris

news

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)

Gas prices continue their drop (Boise Statesman)
2 year old shoots mom at Hayden Wal-Mart (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Top stories in Idaho for 2014 (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
DOE, waste contractors working on contract language (IF Post Register)
Clearwater Paper selling specialty factories (Lewiston Tribune)
Top 2014 stories for Whitman County (Moscow News)
State corrections considers, drops firing squad plan (TF Times News)

Gas prices dropping (Eugene Register Guard)
Hatchery salmon spilled in truck accident (Eugene Register Guard)
New Oregon law on concealed guns (KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
What happens when Pacific Pipeline meets Rogue River? (Medford Tribune)
Whooping cough cases seen in Umatilla Co (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Employers will have to provide health insurance (Portland Oregonian)

Experienced Kitsap Co officials departing (Bremerton Sun)
Pilchuk River chews away at bank, highway (Everett Herald)
Oso homes getting free smoke alarms (Everett Herald)
Pot stores doing big business at Cowlitz (Longview News)
2 year old shoots mother in Idaho Wal-Mart (Spokane Spokesman, Longview News)
Critics sue state on new gun check law (Olympian)
Top stories in area for 2014 (Seattle Times, Olympian)
Looking at housing and millennials in 2015 (Seattle Times)
Monarch butterfly numbers may be rising (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co sheriff retiring (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Throughout much of Japanese history the Emperor has been a figure-head, the titular head of the nation, but considered semi-divine and thus above politics.

True power resided with a figure behind the scenes, a figure who weilded the real power through personal influence and patronage as well as being the chief administrative officer in the government. Often this figure stayed completely in the background, working in the shadows. In today’s political jargon one often will hear the phrase “he leaves no fingerprints,” but one knows the shadow shogun has instigated an action.

The most powerful and influential figure in Idaho politics today is NOT Senator Mike Crapo, nor is it Rep. Mike Simpson, nor Rep. Raul Labrador, nor Governor Butch Otter, nor Lt. Governor Brad Little, nor House Speaker Scott Bedke, nor President Pro Tempore Brent Hill, nor Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, though a good case could be made for each and everyone of these folks.

The most powerful, politically influential figure on the Idaho landscape today holds no political office. Rather he weilds his power through minions who do his bidding. Like the shadow shogun that he is, he prefers to stay behind the scenes. He rightly expects loyalty and he gets it because he is loyal to those who are loyal to him.

There isn’t a Republican in any office in Idaho who doesn’t know who he is, and wouldn’t think twice before crossing him. He appears to even own judges for most judges are keenly aware that he quite legally took out a judge who crossed him by putting up a candidate of his liking that defeated the wayward judge.

It is also well known among legal circles that Attorney General Lawrence Wasden pays close attention to the shadow shogun’s views.

His net worth reportedly exceeds $1.5 billion, making him the richest person in Idaho. What differentiates him from other Idaho billionaires, like the late J.R. Simplot, is he is absolutely unafraid of using his wealth to get his way. Thus, he contributes to candidates for many offices, not just the major ones. He spreads his wealth around viewing it as a form of investing. Of course like any good businessman he expects a decent return on his investment. He fully understands that money is the mother’s milk of politics.

He knows though that politics is all about cultivating personal relationships, not just giving money. Thus he entertains various political figures and by all accounts he can be as charming as he can be alarming depending on what the situation requires.

This “shadow shogun” is course Frank VanderSloot, the 66-year-old chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Melaleuca Corporation. A graduate of both Ricks (Before it became BYU-Idaho) and of Brigham Young University, he is a member in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (He gets the “Temple Pass” needless to say), it came as no surprise that fellow Saint, Governor Mitt Romney, named VanderSloot co-chair of his fund-raising for his 2012 Presidential run. Nor was it a surprise that virtually every Republican statewide officeholder dutifully lined up behind Romney’s candidacy.

VanderSloot displayed his fund-raising prowess in Idaho by easily raising several million dollars for Romney, including over a million from his own personal coffers. Cross reference Romney’s Idaho contributions with a list of Republican officeholders, other prominent Republican contributors and the list of ward and stake bishops and presidents and it is easy to see that very few said no to VanderSloot’s “request.”

Some of Idaho’s political cognascenti were bemused when VanderSloot criticized fellow Saint and wealthy Boise businessman A.J. Bulakoff, the Democratic candidate for governor, for trying to buy the Idaho governorship by spending $3 million of his own money on the race—a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black.

If Romney decides to make a third run (And there are persistent rumors he will), VanderSloot will again play a prominent role. He will also continue to dominate the Idaho Republican Party through the State national committeeman, his employee and vice president for government affairs, Damond Watkins.

He is incontestably the most powerful behind-the-scenes figure in Idaho politics since the late Lloyd Adams (from Rexburg). He is the true Shadow Shogun. I doubt very much I’ll be receiving a phone call because of any disagreement with this assessment.

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Carlson

news

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)

Looking at effects of western power lines (Boise Statesman)
Case remanded on ‘Dixie’ argument (Boise Statesman)
Big stories in Latah in 2015 (Moscow News)
Housing market returning to life (Nampa Press Tribune)
Major donation given for Nampa dog park (Nampa Press Tribune)

New call center comes to Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
50,000 fish loosed from Leaburg hatchery (Eugene Reguster Guard)
Bitter cold expected for Klamath area (KF Herald & News)
Top regional stories of year listed (KF HErald & news)
Another look at gas pipeline issues (Medford Tribune)
Strange December weather in eastern Oregon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State DEQ may require less carbon in fuels (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Major new Oregon laws in 2014 (Slem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton pyrex museum closes (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish revises jail rules for mentally ill (Everett Herald)
Concerns about mistaken 911 calls (Everett Herald)
Big new theatre opens January 15 (Longview News)
Olympia mayor will depart next year (Olympian)
Legislature won’t hear from chief justice this year (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Former UW president dies (Seattle Times)
Boeing projecting good times ahead (Seattle Times)
Rents may rise by a little less in 2015 (Seattle Times)
Former TNT publisher Honeysett dies (Tacoma News Tribune)
Small earthquake in Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

news

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 agriculture and the Cuba thaw (Boise Statesman)
Cooperations on timber in John Day (Boise Statesman)
Children’s Home nearby violence at Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Reviewing law and justice last year (Moscow News)
Reviewing news of 2014 (Nampa Press Tribune)

Looking at risks of Jordan Cove project (Medford Tribune)
Considering top Oregon state stories (Salem Statesman Journal)

Seeking solvency for Belfair sewer operation (Bremerton Sun)
Test flight for Boeing’s new tanker (Everett Herald)
WSU researches road salt options (Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
Top local-regional stories of year (Longview News)
License plate replacement requirements change (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Inslee has $3.8b worth of building plans (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Safety plans proposed for highway 2 (Spokane Spokesman)
Sunnyside battling crows (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

news

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)

Still working on sage grouse planning (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing regional top stories of year (Lewiston Tribune)
What the Canyon Co co-op will be like (Nampa Press Tribune)
United Way assessment looks at area poverty (Nampa Press Tribune)
No red light for Idaho State cops (Pocatello Journal)
TF gas looks to remain cheap for now (TF Times News)
Good beginning to Idaho water year (TF Times News)

Reviewing top regional stories of year (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
John Day forest collaboration yields jobs (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing Jordan Cove glas line project (Medford Tribune)
Snow possible this weekend (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing faces of meth from 10 years ago (Portland Oregonian)
Video voyeurism cases not hit hard (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee tries for preserving ferry service (Bremerton Sun)
Puget Sound cleanup at work, but trouble remains (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing optimistic about new 777 (Everett Herald)
Reviewing top area stories of year (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian, Longview News)
Thurston jail unused for years (Olympian)
Authors dislike Amazon subscription approach (Seattle Times)
How far along is the viaduct project? (Seattle Times)
Unknown how many people work in pot industry (Tacoma News Tribune)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Over the last month, I’ve been pondering a list of currently influential people in Idaho (about which, more later) and out a way to find them: Start with a list of what are likely to be big stories in Idaho in the coming year.

What follows are a half-dozen that helped put names on the list – or, more important, what may make for a lot of discussion in Idaho next year.

In no particular order . . .

Nuclear waste. In 1995 Governor Phil Batt reached an agreement with federal agencies calling for removal of nuclear waste at the (now) Idaho National Laboratory. There’s been unease since about just how well that’s been going, but toward the end of 2014 holdups in those out-shipments, largely because of issues in other states, have been accelerating. The terms of the agreement may be violated before long, and that will be a very big conflict, probably the biggest IN:L story in 20 years.

Health care consolidation. Health care services in Idaho (and not just Idaho) are becoming consolidated. This trend has its advocates, as at St. Luke’s in Boise, where the argument is that this is the way to get health care costs under control and service rationalized. The counter-argument of course is that this is a matter of power and monopoly. St. Luke’s, based in Boise, is the biggest player, but not the only one; it’s cross-town critic, St. Alphonsus, has been growing at a hefty rate too, both of them not just just in the city but regionally around Idaho. This consolidation began to poke upward in 2014, and it may become more visible in 2015, especially as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals makes its decision, probably early in the year, on a key St. Luke’s purchase in Nampa.

Boulder-White Clouds. The debate over what should be done in the central Idaho Boulder-White Clouds area goes back a long way (as political historians know, it played a role in Cecil Andrus’ first win as governor). Representative Mike Simpson has been pushing a negotiated compromise proposal for some years, but others argue it’s probably DOA in the coming Congress, and urge President Obama to declare the area, or part of it, as a national monument. This issue may finally be coming to a head, one way or another.

Boise’s downtown core. The central core of Boise’s downtown, a couple of blocks south of the Statehouse, is about to see big-time change, the largest at one time maybe ever. (Or at least since the downtown removal of the late 60s.) The result is supposed to include more residential space, more office and commercial state, a transit center and more. Opinions may vary on what’s around the corner, but it’s a major change for Idaho’s largest city. And it happens as Mayor David Bieter considers whether to run for an unprecedented fourth term; at the end of this term, a year from now, he ties the record for longevity as mayor of Boise.

Shifting education policy. The Tom Luna era is over; the Sherri Ybarra era begins – and no one really has a very clear idea what that means. Idaho will get its first sense of that soon though, since education will be a hot topic generally in the legislature, and Ybarra will have to weigh in.

New adjudications. The Snake River Basin Adjudication is now in the state’s rear-view mirror, or nearly so. Up next: New water adjudications in the Panhandle, and possibly in the Bear River Basin as well. Those may start to come more into focus this year as they move to center stage in the water community.

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Idaho Idaho column

news

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 law enforcement dealing with mental health (IF Post Register)
On industry-environmental collaboration at John Day (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
A lot of snow expected on Palouse (Moscow News)
Middleton schools scrambled to meet heavy growth (Nampa Press Tribune)

Merged park districts may save parks (Eugene Register Guard)
Industry-enviromental cooperation at John Day (Eugene Register Guard)
OSU considers tsunami-safe location for building (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Looking at water storage at Clear Lake (KF Herald & News)
Ashland ski area opens for season (Medford Tribune)
Snow possible this weekend (Medford Tribune)
Proposed constitutional right to hunt, fish (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Democrats will have more clout in legislature (Portland Oregonian)
Ski resorts opening around area (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton warns about cannabis collective (Bremerton Sun)
New judge coming to Mason County (Bremerton Sun)
Good results this holiday for retailers (Longview News)
Psychiatric boarding ends in state, via deadline (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Health exchange says 101k buying through them (Olympian)
Industry-environmental collaboration at John Day (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
New generation of police protesters (Seattle Times)
Ski areas opening (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Rudy Giuliani. When a “practicing” Catholic mayor of New York City, he moved his wife out of the official mayor’s residence so he could move his girlfriend in. Rudy Giuliani. Once a Democrat who couldn’t get elected to anything; now a Republican. Rudy Giuliani. Who, since his term of office expired in 2002, has consistently been rejected in runs for various offices and political appointments by his own “adopted” political party. Rudy Giuliani. A man with nothing of essence to say who won’t shut up!

His most recent worthless “contribution” to public discourse is as outrageous and irresponsible as it is flat wrong. His attempt to blame President Obama and hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators in our nation’s streets for promoting distrust and hatred of our civic police forces is contemptible. His pouring of verbal gasoline on deep societal divisions demanding long denied justice for millions of Americans belies his years as an effective federal prosecutor and further amplify that he’s a crank busybody with nothing to say worth public attention,

This ignorant empty suit is not alone in his effrontery to Americans legitimately in the streets to express their anger and frustration. New York Rep. Peter King demanded apologies from the President on down for fomenting police hatred and mistrust. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter and other usual suspects from the hate crowd piled on with equally as insulting and contemptuous vitriol.

A deranged, lifelong lawbreaker assassinated his girlfriend and two NYC officers before killing himself. Case open. Case closed. No responsible office holder and no justice-seeking crowd in the street in any American city contributed, sponsored or urged the killings. That the killer tried to justify his actions before they occurred by using social media to trumpet the names of Michael Brown and other blacks recently killed by police only confirms his estrangement from reality and the rest of us.

Giuliani, King and the shooter aside, this country has a long-simmering racial divide deeper and further across than the Grand Canyon. The only fact worse than its existence is the refusal of all of us to take it seriously enough to honestly examine and end it. All of us. If any good can come of the spate of recent killings of unarmed black men and children it would be to keep the subject of racial discrimination on the front burner and to deal with it in all of its many ugly facets until we get it behind us.

That won’t happen. Much as it’s needed to make this nation whole, that won’t happen. Giuliani, King, a New York City mad man and millions of unnamed Americans who believe such despicable trash won’t let it. At every turn, where progress can be realized, they’ll pop up and pop off for national media consumption. They’ll continue the outrageousness and lies that attract national recording and repetition – a minority refusing to affirm legitimate efforts by a majority who will work for justice. A justice we promise “for all” in our national Pledge of Allegiance.

Not since anti-war marches of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s have so many Americans taken to the streets in a national show of frustration, anger, demanding equal treatment under the law. This is not a cop-versus-citizen or cop-versus-politician outpouring any more than those earlier marches were meant to blame the military for following orders of a civilian hierarchy.

There were those who tried to make it so. A loud crazy minority then – as there is now – attempting to twist legitimate national outrage and pain into some sort of anti-American movement. Then it was the marchers “hated the military.” Now it’s marchers “hate cops.” Not true then. Not true now.

Lest we forget, recent injustices carried out against those dead black men and children don’t stop with officers and their guns. There’s a judicial system that needs re-examining. There’s a prosecutorial climate requiring a thorough review by the highest authorities. The errors of omission and co-mission run the gamut of the law enforcement world. From supreme court to traffic court. From city prosecutors to attorneys general. From national law enforcement to the local “cop shop.”

And one more thing. In each of those environs are good people – excellent, well-intentioned, honest and caring officers, prosecutors and judges. If there is to be real change in our relationships with each other – regardless of race or any other factor – those on the inside can be the most effective agents by confronting and disciplining their own ranks. Nothing would make a more meaningful statement of real progress than to have those sharing the police and peacekeeping load thinning out the racists, bigots and miscreants of all sorts that exist within their own peer groups.

The Giulianis, Kings and assorted deranged assassins on the street have always been with us. They’ll always be here to stand as the most vivid examples of arrogance, distrust, blatant hypocrisy, ignorance and cowardice. They’ll be here trying to redirect the honest energies of more learned voices who want justice and fairness.

If we’re to affect real national racial and economic change – achieve honest discourse – reach a point where justice is achieved – it’ll be because we who seek those ends are willing to work and, if necessary, sacrifice to achieve them. Along the way to those goals, we must not be distracted by the siren lies of the Rudy Giulianis and the Peter Kings. Their mindless drivel is fit only as grist for the sewer.

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Rainey

news

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)

Looking at state’s mental health system (IF Post Register)
Elk neard near I-15 moves away as hunters arrive (IF Post Register)
Glanbia chief says water could restrict growth (TF Times News)

Hearing set for Klamath research district (KF Herald & News)
New ag research station director arrives (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Looking aat Sellwood Bridge cost overruns (Portland Oregonian)
Propane shipping plan hit Portland zoning rules (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing high-read stories of 2014 (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton, cops agree on contract (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee budget backs Port Gamble park (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish manager pay raises by Lovick at issue (Everett Herald)
Concerns over 97-home project near Everett (Everett Herald)
State preschool efforts lead to higher test scores (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Brewery could replace planer mill at Forks (Port Angeles News)
Signup for health care extended (Port Angeles News)
Review the China coal market (Seattle Times)
Cantwell will be ranking Democrat on Energy (Vancouver Columbian)
Valley American Legion clubs thinning out (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take