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Posts published in December 2014

Souza and the Senate

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

When Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene begins her first session next month, she says she plans to keep her head down, stay quiet and not make waves.

“That will probably last about 15 minutes,” she said laughing.

Souza, who has been a constant thorn to the side of public officials in Coeur d’Alene, hardly fits the profile of “quiet and shy.” Her personality is more suited to leaping tall buildings and tearing down trees – in the name of truth, justice and ridding the planet of political corruption. Two years ago, she spearheaded the unsuccessful efforts to recall Mayor Sandi Bloem and three members of the Coeur d’Alene City Council – essentially painting them and Lake City Development Corporation (the city’s urban renewal agency) as crooks who were robbing from the taxpayers for the benefit of political cronies. Souza’s relentless fury especially was stinging to Bloem, who is more like the Lake City’s favorite grandma than Al Capone.

This year, Souza experienced defeat and victory in the political arena – getting trounced in a mayor’s race, then defeating longtime Sen. John Goedde in last May’s Republican primary election. Souza was a clear beneficiary of Idaho’s closed primaries, which tends to favor more conservative candidates.

Now, this community gadfly – who built her name by making noise and stepping on toes – steps into a different world. Souza now is part of the political establishment. Complaints and late-night phone calls, which go with the territory of an elected official, will now be directed at her.

The target is on her back, but as Souza sees it, that’s nothing new. A person doesn’t go after the mayor, three council members and an established agency such as LCDC without getting some bruises along the way. She says her attacks have never been meant to be personal and adds that some people who meet her say, ‘You’re actually nice.’ That’s a hard line to swallow for the public officials who have been subjected to Souza’s wrath.

Strangely, her critics are not talking openly about Souza going to the Senate. Bloem says she’s “the wrong person to ask.” Former councilman Mike Kennedy, who was subject to the recall effort, said, “I don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation. As a citizen, I hope she does a good job and I wish her well.”

But her history as a conservative activist raises questions about how effective she will be in the Legislature. Politically, she’s polls apart from moderate Senate leadership and influential members such as Sens. Dean Cameron of Rupert and Shawn Keough of Sandpoint. Can she work with them? At what point will she be painting moderate colleagues with the same broad brush as Bloem and Kennedy?

Souza says she’s going to the Legislature to listen, learn, do a lot of reading and represent her constituents from District 4.

“People will think what they want and I’m not going on a crusade to make them like me,” she said. “I didn’t run for this office to fill out my resume in life. I feel comfortable with what I’ve done and who I am. The reason I did this is because real, regular people need to be involved in government.” (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)

Profiling incoming Secretary Denney (Boise Statesman)
Legislative panel drops demand for federal lands (Boise Statesman, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho gas prices among nation's highest (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators meet with Pullman on pot issues (Moscow News)
Idaho AG hold public records Moscow meeting (Moscow News)
College of Idaho football brings in $4m (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing change on the CWI board (Nampa Press Tribune)
Mega-solar panel 120 acres coming to Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Gooding schools chief still faces ouster effort (TF Times News)

UO asked for more response on sexual violence (Eugene Register Guard)
Work on Henley school accelerates (KF Herald & News)
Medford and Ashland have good rental markets (Medford Tribune)
Bighorns captured, released at John Day area (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hermiston gets $2 for senior center (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland's Uber battle goes to federal court (Portland Oregonian)
More rigorous school testing standards coming (Portland Oregonian)
Salem's Liberty House may greatly expand (Salem Statesman Journal)

Silverdale community center partly closed (Bremerton Sun)
New Everett city logo, a like corporate Envestnet (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz developing 2015 budget (Longview News)
Nutty Narrow squirrel bridge on national historic places (Longview News)
Big storm coming to western Washington (Longview News)
Washington looks at road use tax (Olympian)
Inslee's budget plan ups taxes $1 billion (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
New plaza funded for Sequim at $530k (Port Angeles News)
Washington first charter school in trouble (Seattle Times)
Supreme Court: No pay for Amazon workers in security (Seattle Times)
Transition time at Clark Co sheriff's office (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima jail may see statewide drug offenders (Yakima Herald Republic)

Character and leadership

carlson CHRIS


Several readers have expressed surprise that I would urge former Virginia Senator James Webb to run for president. Their view is Hillary Clinton has it already locked up. While she appears to have better character than her husband, the former president, she does not come close to his leadership skills.

Every presidential election since 1968, with one exception, has for me come down to who has the better character and displays real leadership skills. Sometimes it is “yin and yang” with one attribute weighing more. It helps if one has met the candidate in person and can form an evaluation based on that. We all give off non-verbal signals that astute observers can pick up on and weigh through the prism of their own eperience and needs as well as what one believes is best for society.

Occasionally it has been a toss-up between the candidates, but not very often. Of the two attributes, character often prevail. The judgments of other trustworthy people who can give me a well thought out testimonial can be influential as can good books, either biographies or memoirs, that are part of my due diligence.

A key part of my character evaluation is whether they have kept their marriage vows. A vow is a vow. Yes, people are flawed and make mistakes they regret unless they are serial philanders. Particularly egregious to me is whether they lie if asked about the subject. If they can lie about keeping their marriage vow, they can easily lie to the American people.

Most can accept a candidate saying such a question violates the zone of privacy they feel they are entitled to and it is nobody’s business but their spouses and their family. What none should accept is the hypocrisy of an officeholder preaching family values and using the wife and children as props for photo ops while chasing skirts as if they are some sort of high office perk. Most of us know the type.

The sine qua non of character is honesty and truthfulness, as well as fidelity, compassion, and courage. Leadership is admittedly harder to define,but we know it when it when we see it,

Some may consider this too simple. Others obviously take refuge in voting based party affiliation alone. The party and the policies are secondary in my book.

And yes, with 20/20 hindsight I have made mistakes. Judge for yourself:

1968 Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon. Humphrey was a philanderer Nixon was a lier. Nixon had better leadership skills but his character was too flawed.

1972: McGovern over Nixon. Hands down McGovern had far more character and was a legitimate war hero. Nixon continued to lie.

1976: A true toss-up. Governor Carter and President Ford have sterling character but neither had leadership skills. I went with Carter.

1980: H a hard time voting for Carter again. He had badly failed the leadership test. Both were men of character. My first vote mistake.

1984: Reagan over Mondale, though I knew and liked Fritz. Both were men of character but Reagan clearly the better leader. (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)

Tracking redevelopment of state historical museum (Boise Statesman)
Report: Idaho would pay millions in land takeover (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Clarkston goes after aggressive panhandling (Lewiston Tribune)
Sheep near Lamont may have been killed by wolf (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow, UI consider extension near Palouse mall (Moscow News)
Pullman community fund gets money for disabled housing (Moscow News)
College of Idaho new president, first woman in job (Nampa Press Tribune)
Cottle retires as Citizens Community Bank CEO (Pocatello Journal)
Twin Falls estimated to have enough parking (TF Times News)

Disputes in UO faculty could lead to restructure (Eugene Register Guard)
Suit filed over vote count in GMO recount (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Close evaluation of Medford city manager (Medford Tribune)
More hours for Jackson Co libraries (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla's pot committee gets to work (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland demands Uber quit car sharing (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon may require paid sick leave for all (Portland Oregonian)
Ski areas may be starting late this year (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton trying to fill marina slips (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge superfund site still under review (Bremerton Sun)
Money from levy arrives for new jail (Longview News)
Buyer possible for Monticello hotel (Longview News)
$75k fountain Longview park donated (Longview News)
Viaduct still safe, but Pioneer Square under review (Seattle Times)
Allen donated $100m on cells and disease (Seattle Times)
Possible wold kill under investigation (Spokan Spokesman)
Feds say WA cleanup request for Hanford too pricy (Vancouver Columbian)
Traffic Safety Commission surveys on pot use (Yakima Herald Republic)

Klamath shifts

idaho RANDY

The headline on the March 5 (this year) press release from the U.S. Department of Interior, about the just-worked-out Klamath water agreement, was, “Historic Agreement Reached on Upper Klamath Basin Water.”

The release continued, “The Klamath Tribes, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, and Upper Klamath Basin irrigators announced today that they have completed negotiations on the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement.”

You might think that would be enough to seal the deal. And as it was, the deal was not wildly sweeping; it seems as much as anything else a level to keep the lid on things a while. Its leading elements were: “A Water Use Program that will increase stream flows in the tributaries above Upper Klamath Lake – adding at least 30,000 acre feet annually to inflows to the lake, while creating a stable, predictable setting for agriculture to continue in the Upper Klamath Basin; A Riparian Program that will improve and protect riparian conditions in order to help restore fisheries; and an Economic Development Program for the Klamath Tribes.”

But this is Klamath Falls, and the subject is water, and under those conditions it’s unwise to ever consider anything settled even if for just a little while.

Last month, the Klamath County Commission went on record against the congressional legislation intended to implement the agreement. Last month the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee okayed it, but since then odds of passage appear to have been diminished.

That doesn’t mean all the other participants, from the Klamath Tribes (which do have some bones to pick) to the Klamath Falls city council, have worked away.

The Medford Mail Tribune, editorializing, argued that “It's vitally important to the Basin's future that the agreements are approved, and that the best chance of doing it is in the lame-duck session of the current congress rather than waiting for a new congress, including new members unfamiliar with the Basin's water issues.”

But the paper also noted that, for the near term at least, time may be running out. And it may.

In the Briefings


Starting December 4 a second test of the aesthetic lighting on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People will take place. It will test the full spectrum of colors and the subtle motion that will change with the seasons and the activity of the Willamette River. The aesthetic lighting was created by artists Douglas Hollis and the late Anna Valentina Murch for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s Public Art Program. The public can view the lights from both sides of the Willamette River near the bridge. (photo/Tri-Met)

No lack of protests in the Seattle-Portland areas last week, not just up north in Seattle but plenty in Portland too. They may, in the Portland fashion, continue for a while.

With the Idaho legislature organized, lawmakers return home for a month of preparation for the three months or so of session. So too will the lobbyists, several times in number compared to the legislators. Bills are being readied for introduction. We’ll keep a look out.

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 looks at its eventual library building plan (Boise Statesman)
Cheatgrass tackled by feds and others (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa district may contract with Teach for America (Nampa Press Tribune)
Looking at Idaho Right to Work after 30 years (TF Times News)
TF will get plasma donor center (TF Times News)
Teach for America trying to start in Idaho (TF Times News)

New Junction City psych hospital almost done (Eugene Register Guard)
Timing running out for O&C bill (Medford Tribune)
Looking at anti-GMO history at San Juan islands (Medford Tribune)
Call to open supermarket inspection reports (Salem Statesman Journal)
Public asked to see statehouse renovation plan (Salem Statesman Journal)

No change in Port Orchard nuisance codes (Bremerton Sun)
Complex issues related to new geoduck farm (Bremerton Sun)
Is Koster impartial enough to be Snohomish ombudsman? (Everett Herald)
Waiting lists for jail are shortening (Everett Herald)
PUD officials fat contracts shot down after outrage (Longview News)
Mentally ill delays mostly not excessive (Olympian)
Another delay in reviving Bertha (Seattle Times)
King County man tested but has no Ebola (Seattle Times)
Car owners no longer have to replace license plates (Spokane Spokesman)

A question without answer

rainey BARRETT


An old debate among journalists - and some who think they are - has begun again. Wherever some of the more serious media types are gathered in more social surroundings these days, the discussion can be heard.

“Must the media present all people or issues to its audience/readers if the media knows the person/issue is wrong or false?” Or words to that effect.

It’s not as goofy - or as arrogant - as it sounds. It’s an issue more common these days with political and philosophical divisions within media sources. It’s also more relevant because of the slide in national politics to the right.

We older media types tried to operate under a rule that, when talking strictly news events or stories, the interviewees words were the news and the media served only as messenger - not to judge or critique or interpret. Simply the conduit - unless you’re talking editorials, byline columns or opinion pieces. Let the subject/facts talk. That’s the news. You report the news.

As our nation has become more politically divided, so has the media. Rather than simply report, major networks have slowly integrated points of view - either by the reporter or anchor or in the way the story is presented.

By any traditional standard, Fox News is the worst offender. CNN does a bit of its own. And for those who constantly remind me that MSNBC is the liberal offset for Fox, remember this: MSNBC has never - never - referred to itself as a “news” organization. Fox does constantly. Even in it’s name.

Here’s an issue that fits the problem perfectly: global warming. By nearly all scientific evidence presented by legitimate research organizations, global warming is a fact. You can argue cause. You can argue effect. You can argue how much. But the basic fact is, global warming exists and its effects are too overwhelming for thinking minds to ignore.

Here’s another fact. The two committees in Congress charged with dealing with this subject - one in the House and one in the Senate - are chaired by two men who’re vocal, absolute denyers of the evidence. All of it. And it’s these two who have the absolute power to refuse to let either committee - and thus the full Congress - do anything in our national interest to deal with our warming world.

So, go back to the question stated before: “Must the media present people or issues to its audience/readers if the media knows the person/issue is wrong or false?” If Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) continues leading the denyers from his powerful pulpit, is the media acting properly by giving his distinctly minority voice a platform to proclaim his distinctly minority and distinctly untrue view? When poll after poll shows some 80% of us believe global warming not only exists but is a serious problem, is the media doing a service - or a disservice - by giving Sen. Inhofe a platform when he’s factually wrong? After all, it’s not the media’s job to go find someone to speak for the majority side of the global warming issue every time a minority denyer pops off just to keep things balanced. Should the media give him a platform?

Another example you see far too often. Say the vote on a particular bill in the U.S. Senate was 97-3. The media will always - always - identify the three but not the 97. Why? Why identify three loser votes when the overwhelming 97 “ayes” won? It’s not practical - in time or space - to name all 97 though they were, after all, the victors. Why name the three losers?

Until Ronald Reagan, broadcast media operated under the “Fairness Doctrine” which required - by law - fairness/access in reporting both sides. He threw that out the window so now Faux Neus - among others - can operate with impunity by selecting only the view it wants to. Other outlets do some of the same at times, but Faux is the habitual offender. Its very foundation is one of lopsided coverage and twisted “fact.” Ain’t it, Rupert? (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)

Reviewing impacts of Right to Work (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Behavoiral health has hard time with provider (Nampa Press Tribune)

Looking at Grand Jury system in Oregon (Eugene Register Guard)
Large number of bighorn sheep transplaced (KF Herald & News)
Klamath water bill held up in Congress (KF Herald & News)
Examining how dangerous a crime city Medford is (Medford Tribune)
GMO recount so far finds little change in tally (Medford Tribune)
Many supermarkets only lightly inspected (Salem Statesman Journal)

Examining electric power rates for pot growers (Bremerton Sun)
Efforts to preserve forests around Puget Sound (Bremerton Sun)
Contrary to reports, helicopters weren't at Marysville (Everett Herald)
Millworkers plan strike vote on Monday (Longview News)
Complexity in ethics rule of 12 free legislator meals (Olympian)
Kent School District tries new discipline approach (Seattle Times)
Looking at rights, police cameras (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Fife jail officers accused of sexual misconduct (Tacoma News Tribune)

For long term

idaho RANDY

The predominant news out of the just-finished organizational session of the Idaho Legislature didn’t make the front page of most Idaho papers, and that was a reasonable call.

There were a few committee changes, and a few on the lower rungs of leadership. But the top spots in the Senate and House stayed pretty much the same.

In the bigger picture of Idaho legislative history, there actually is some news in this stasis. Until the last decade or a little more, leadership under the rotunda tended to change regularly. In recent years, that’s slowed down.

In the Senate, the top leadership job is president pro tem. (You might think that would be lieutenant governor, since he’s the default presiding officer, but when caucuses are held and decisions are made the lieutenant governor is outside of the room, with the rest of us.) For most of Idaho history, the norm was to hold that job for two or three terms, provided your party was in control. The first ever to keep the job longer was Republican James Ellsworth of Leadore, for four terms from 1968-76.

That record was broken by Robert Geddes of Soda Springs, who was elected to the post in 2000 (mid-session, when Jerry Twiggs, who was in his fourth term as pro tem, died). Geddes held the job for 10 years, and currently holds the record. His replacement, Brent Hill, was elected to it for the third time last week, and there’s no particular reason he won’t reach Geddes’ mark over time.

In the House, no one broke the three-term ceiling until Bruce Newcomb, who was elected speaker in 1998 and stayed until he retired in 2006 – four terms. His successor, Lawerence Denney of Midvale (soon to be secretary of state), then was speaker for three terms but narrowly (apparently) lost a bid for a fourth in 2012. The man who defeated him, Scott Bedke of Oakley, appears like Hill, to be settling in. Neither he nor Hill were opposed for the top leadership positions in the organizational session.

Take a look at the job of majority leader in each chamber. In the Senate, Bart Davis of Idaho Falls has held that job 12 years. In the House, Mike Moyle of Star has been majority leader since 2006, but he was assistant majority leader in 2002 – 14 years so far in one position or the other.

Before you consider this a call for term limits, though, consider that longevity is much less widespread in the overall legislative ranks. Just nine of the 35 senators, for example, are entering their fifth term or better. Despite the fact that nearly all legislative districts are a lock for one political party or the other (mostly for one of them, of course), there’s a good deal of turnover among them. (more…)