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Posts published in December 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)

Boise discusses southwest annexation (Boise Statesman)
State may sell 607 acres at Nampa (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
New Cathollic bishop Christensen installed (Boise Statesman)
LDS temple at IF shuttered 18 months for renovation (IF Post Register)
Pocatello regional postal center shuts in April (IF Post Register)
Inslee proposes carbon tax paying for transit (Lewiston Tribune)
Poll says Washingtonians back WSU med school (Moscow News)
Nampa sued by former public works official (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello cows remain at large (Pocatello Journal)
ON Semiconductor manager leaves for Phoenix (Pocatello Journal)
Urban village gets okay from TF council (TF Times News)
Cassia seeks $37m school bond (TF Times News)

Piercy won't seek another mayoral term (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Transit District may go after police powers (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath city, county may merge planning services (KF Herald & News)
New manager for Bureau of Reclamation named (KF Herald & News)
Umatilla port, city confer over land case (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Coming battle over pot taxation by cities (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Looking at Oregon's system dealing with addiction (Portland Oregonian)
Record number jobs in Oregon; many still out (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee transport plan would include carbon tax (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Suquamish consider allowing pot (Bremerton Sun)
New Kitsap prosecutor looking to bring changes (Bremerton Sun)
Experienced school bus drivers hard to find (Longview News)
Lewison Co may not endorced I-594/gun checks (Longview News)
Olympia port pays $187k in records case (Olympian)
Pollutants found near former Payonier site (Port Angeles News)
Health ratings for restaurants, etc drop (Seattle Times)
Spokane encourages use of apprentices in projects (Spokane Spokesman)
Drivers using up gasolline glut (Tacoma News Tribune)
Plan to block department mergers in Clark fails (Vancouver Columbian)
Mixed reaction to education budget (Vancouver Columbian)
Tree Top fruits CEO retiring (Yakima Herald Republic)

An investigative legacy?

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Assuming this term will be Gov. Butch Otter’s last, it would be a good time for him to be thinking about his place in Idaho’s history. That is, of course, if this ends up being his last term.

But legacy building is taking an ugly detour as a result of the Idaho Education Network broadband contract, which was thrown out in court and the private-prison contract with Corrections Corporation of America, which is under investigation with the FBI. Administration of contracts could be one of the big issues heading into the next legislative session. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone, who chairs the House State Affairs Committee, has told the Post Register he is looking into investigating the IEN issue.

One person who is not letting the broadband issue go away is Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who is giving the administration plenty of heartaches. Earlier this month, the Midvale Republican circulated a statewide column discussing the broadband contracts and pointing fingers in high places.

“I am not going to let this go away and I don’t think the people of Idaho should let it go away,” said Boyle, who has gained the attention from fellow conservatives and Democrats.

As one of the more conservative members of the Legislature, Boyle says “no” to a lot of things. The broadband contract was not one of them. She sees the value of connecting schools, libraries and state agencies with high-speed Internet and didn’t blink at the $60 million contract.

“Correctly done, it brings the world to Idaho students and citizens, especially in the rural areas,” Boyle said in her commentary. “However, when it becomes illegal and corrupt, I must speak out.”

As with the national debt, the costs for the illegal contracts keep climbing in the form of withheld federal funds and legal fees. And it’s all as a result of former Director of Administration Mike Gwartney, Otter’s right-hand man early in his governorship, changing the terms of the contract – eliminating Syringa, which was supposed to share in proofing the broadband connections. Quest’s name was left on the contract.

Boyle sees the arrangement as an example of “crony capitalism,” which gives special favors to campaign donors. In this case, Boyle says, “the children of Idaho will be the losers” in the deal.

Boyle says her commentary was only a start. The solution is for the Legislature, and possibly the state Department of Education, to investigate further. She has an ally in Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne of Boise.

“The Legislature needs to stand up and make sure the money is appropriated and spent properly,” he said.
On the CCA contract, he said, “how did we get in a position where we went for a long period of time with the contractor submitting false billings to us?”
Burgoyne and Boyle are miles apart on many legislative issues, but he admires Boyle for keeping the issue in the forefront.

“Representative Boyle has always stepped up and told people exactly what she thinks,” Burgoyne said. “She’s courageous and outspoken. She does not mislead anybody about what she thinks and her intentions. Those are very good attributes.”

Somewhere, the late former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth – Boyle’s longtime mentor, employer and friend – must be smiling.

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)

Boise could get easement for Dry Creek trails (Boise Statesman)
When Anheuser-Busch buys small brewery . . . (Boise Statesman)
Lewiston legislators look ahead to session (Lewiston Tribune)
Clearwater Paper does $100m stock buyback (Lewiston Tribune)
Former Pullman church land will be redeveloped (Moscow News)
Syringa Court case returns to court (Moscow News)
Health & Welfare sells North Nampa property (Nampa Press Tribune)
Amount of SBA loans in Boise area increases (Nampa Press Tribune)
Cows on the loose in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho Falls LDS temple may close for a year (Pocatello Journal)
TF council okays Banner building as new city hall (TF Times News)

Pay raise considered for UO president (Eugene Register Guard)
Hospice relocations considered at various sites (Eugene Register Guard)
Movie 'Wild' premieres in Ashland (KF Herald & News)
Pacific Connector Pipeline debated at meeting (KF Herald & News)
New tribal health clinic sited for 2015 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
School leaders: Gov's budget still not enough (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Could Tums help with ocean acidification? (Portland Oregonian)
Portland-Uber conflict continues (Portland Oregonian)
Planned Salem bridge to be named for Courtney (Salem Statesman Journal)

Inslee offers partial preview of budget (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Snohomish Co shutdown becoming possibility (Everett Herald)
Reconsidering rules for pot in rural areas (Everett Herald)
KapStone delivers health ultimatum (Longview News)
Olympia may shut a park and its well (Olympian)
On the economics of WA state auto license plates (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Tunnel could be impact key water main (Seattle Times)
Boeing may see cost overrun on tanker (Seattle Times)
People statewide favor WSU med school in poll (Spokane Spokesman)

In the Briefings


The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife captured and relocated California bighorn sheep at several locations this week to improve genetic diversity among herds and continue efforts to restore this native species in Oregon. Bighorns were captured in the Deschutes and John Day River canyons and in the Branson Creek area of Grant County. Fifteen sheep captured in the Deschutes River Canyon were released at Alvord Peaks (Harney County) and 20 sheep captured in the John Day River Canyon went to McClellan (Grant County). (photo/ODFW)


As new officeholders prepare for transitions and the governor begins dropping proposals for the new legislature, things generally are cooling down in advance of the Christmas-New Years holidays.

One more Briefing in 2014 - next week - and then we'll pause for a week during the Christmas-New Year's interregnum.

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)

New approaches tried in dealing with floods (Boise Statesman)
UI ends its 125th year (Moscow News)
Kuna considers urban renewal district (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho panel will review Common Core test (Nampa Press Tribune)
Unemployment declining in Magic Valley (TF Times News)
Hard to count Idaho's homeless (TF Times News)

Troubles at Junction City biogas plant (Eugene Register Guard)
O&C counties don't get federal funds (Portland Oregonian)
Salem may name bridge for Courtney (Salem Statesman Journal)

Agreement focuses on ER costs (Bremerton Sun)
New approaches tried in dealing with floods (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee budget plan to be released (Everett Herald)
Monticello school moves from letter to number grades (Longview News)
Judge backs Cowlitz tribe on casino (Longview News)
Correction Industries recycling cost state $1m (Seattle Times)
Seattle cops working with local techies (Seattle Times)
Pierce may try for mental health tax vote (Tacoma News Tribune)
Goldendale observatory fights light pollution (Yakima Herald Republic)

Health on the civic agenda

idaho RANDY

This is from a December 12 report on the University of Washington Health Sciences NewsBeat, drawing some interesting connections in health policy. It was written by Jeff Hodson.

Reducing obesity among children. Investing in early childhood programs. Devising strategies to reduce gun violence.

These three efforts illustrate how public health has risen to the top of the civic agenda in the Pacific Northwest. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have all announced initiatives “putting public health at the center of their priorities,” said Howard Frumkin, dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health.

“This couldn’t be a better place as well as a better time to be thinking about public health,” Frumkin said in his October State-of-the-School address. “That creates for our School enormous opportunities to be of service and, in the process, to educate our students while advancing public health locally and across the state.”

Frumkin serves on Inslee’s Council for the Healthiest Next Generation, a public-private coalition that kicked off in September. It aims to identify successful efforts already underway in communities and find ways to expand them statewide. One example is the YMCA’s work to install water-bottle filling stations at schools, a move to reduce the amount of sugary drinks children consume.

Other goals include increasing the number of children who breastfeed for at least six months and reducing the amount of time children spend in front of TV or computer screens. “Gold standard research shows we can bend the curve of childhood obesity if we act early in the course of children’s lives and by making health a focus in the places where children spend the most time,” Inslee said.

At the county level, Constantine is planning to ask taxpayers to fund a new levy in 2015 focused on pregnancy and early childhood, school-aged kids, and their communities. He announced the “Best Starts for Kids” levy during his annual budget address in late September. “What happens in early childhood and adolescence shapes health and well-being throughout one’s life,” he wrote to King County Council Chair Larry Phillips.

Details are yet to be announced, but School of Public Health faculty and students in the new domestic Strategic Analysis and Research Training (START) program are working on the county’s levy efforts. Constantine says early childhood programs show returns ranging from $3 to $17 for every dollar invested. That could reduce later costs for diabetes and other chronic diseases, mental illness, child abuse and neglect, and violence and injuries. (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)

Boise nears end to search for new police chief (Boise Statesman)
Right to work economic impacts reviews (Boise Statesman)
Call wait times at insurance exchange rising (IF Post Register)
Bonneville Co rezones may cut off IF expansion (IF Post Register)
Reviewing homelessness in Idaho (Lewiston Tribune)
COMPASS will look at improvements for I-84 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Where does sales tax money go? (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello humane says more local pets vanish (Pocatello Tribune)
Reviewing Dennis Patterson blast against INL (Pocatello Tribune)
Voters finding new school bond confusing (TF Times News)

Employees say hospital has severe staff shortage (Eugene Register Guard)
Low levels of Oregon health insurance signups (KF Herald & News)
Merger may be easing Ashland hospital money issues (Medford Tribune)

Bills filed at legislature (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing oil train traffic (Everett Herald)
Schools using more Chromebooks (Longview News)
Turnout over 1,000 at Olympia gun rally (Tacoma News Tribune, Longview News)
Longview will send recycling to Asia (Longview News)
No more post-prison watch on property criminals (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Problems with state prison industries (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Microsoft has new allies in email (Seattle Times)
Law law going after auto theives (Vancouver Columbian)
School superintendent pay keeping rising (Yakima Herald Republic)

Some learning curve advice

idaho RANDY

In about three weeks new administrations will take over in two important Idaho offices – superintendent of public instruction and secretary of state. That means, or should mean, the incoming officials in those places will be busy right now getting prepared.

Offered for consideration a little advice, from an observer of transitions, for Idaho’s new statewide officials, SUPI Sherri Ybarra and Secretary Lawerence Denney.

1. Apart from maybe one or two personal advisors, keep the existing staff in place, for a while at least. Yes, you will have authority to replace them wholesale if you choose, and as you eventually find (as you will) people who ought to go, they can be shown the door. But for the moment, remember that they, not you, know how things work in this place, and by that I mean all the little bits and pieces which make these offices tick; both the formal procedures (and requirements) and the informal methods and pathways that help work get handled. In any office, governmental or not, these things take a while to suss out. You’re going to have a learning curve. Accept that and let your staff, which mostly will probably be eager to help inform you, guide you through the early steps.

No one coming in fresh from the outside will understand enough of that at first. But both state offices are empowered and restricted by a mass of laws, rules, legal decisions and more. Former Superintendent Jerry Evans, who probably understood the SUPI world better than anyone in recent decades, had a gift for explaining the inner workings of “the coalition” and “the formula” – central to the office’s operations – in startlingly clear fashion to people like legislators and reporters. But so complex was his subject that many people (such as me) could not maintain comprehension of it for more than a day or so; after that we’d have to go back for a refresher. The details of this stuff are more complex than they look from the outside. Respect that.

2. Spend as much time as you can in the office. Get a sense of the patterns, personalities and rhythms there before you have to run it yourself.

3. Find a few old hands and, if not bring them into the office, turn them into a kitchen cabinet, an advisory group. Collect some expertise you can trust, and some people who aren’t your natural allies so you’re not just entering an echo chamber, telling you what you want to hear. And then make use of what you hear. (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)

Park Price joins Federal Reserve at Salt Lake (IF Post Register)
Legal drug overdoses increasing in area (IF Post Register)
Federal timber payments uncertain (Lewiston Tribune)
Weather turns warm around Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow-Pullman airport could get federal funds (Moscow News)
Jim Boland named to Moscow council seat (Moscow News)
WSU Spokane health center design okayed (Moscow News)
Looking at local bans on pit bulls (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI opening a free legal clinic (Nampa Press Tribune)
West Trail Creek Road becoming a garbage dump (Pocatello Journal)
Too much selenium found in Upper Blackfoot River (TF Times News)

Eugene YMCA may buy school land (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water settlement won't get presidential OK (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing dam funding, varied approvals (Medford Tribune)
Shooting reported near school, students hit (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing Cylvia Hayes private and public (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon prison reforms saving money (Salem Statesman Journal)
Long-ago pesticides found, are being cleaned (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bainbridge Fire says it needs more funds (Bremerton Sun)
Big storm, massive power outages (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Debate over tax cuts for Boeing (Everett Herald)
Stillaguamish prepares for new hotel (Everett Herald)
Vote on KapStone contract expected next week (Longview News)
Paseo Restaurant set to live again (Seattle Times)
Spokane's first police ombudsmann leaves (Spokane Spokesman)
Shots fired, 3 injured, near Portland school (Tacoma News Tribune)
Court sides with Cowlitz Tribe on casino (Vancouver Columbian)
Senator King will lead transport panel (Yakima Herald Republic)