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Posts published in December 2014

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…)

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)

Legislative battle over Labrador sage grouse provision (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing labor unions and right to work (IF Post Register)
Many Idaho median incomes drop (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
Magic Valley cities intend to start aquifer recharge (TF Times News)
Most losing statewide Ds outraised Rs (TF Times News)
TF downtown group may demolish Rogerson building (TF Times News)

Gearheart mayor faces recall (Astorian)
Warrenton sees fast-growing elementary enrollment (Astorian)
Pocket park attached to civic stadium plan (Eugene Register Guard)
School district, YMCA bidding on land (Eugene Register Guard)
New commander at air force project in KF (KF Herald & News)
Engineers trying to repair canals near KF (KF Herald & News)
Bighorn sheep returning to the upper Klamath (Medford Tribune)
Medford looks to add 1,650 acres to its boundaries (Medford Tribune)
Proposed budget increases mental health services (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wolf pack closely watched for attacks (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland cops want body cams (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Uber cars head into Portland despite rules (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap signs deal for heritage park (Bremerton Sun)
Lots of concerns from veterans at meeting (Bremerton Sun)
Another bus line to Paine Field possible (Everett Herald)
Viaduct sags with Bertha troubles (Seattle Times)
Reviewing the WA troglodytes of the 80 (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma may extend airport runway (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark County looks at more charter adjustments (Vancouver Columbian)
More difficulties for waterfront project (Vancouver Columbian)

Something for Idahoans to celebrate

peterson MARTIN

When President Obama and his daughters paid a recent visit to a Washington, DC book store, two of his purchases were books by Idaho authors - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer and The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson. This was no fluke. Writers with Idaho roots are gaining more and more national prominence.

Earlier this week Idaho author and University of Idaho faculty member Kim Barnes was honored at the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts with an Excellence in the Arts Award. She has also been a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Her husband, the much honored poet Robert Wrigley, also a UI faculty member, is a past recipient of the Governor’s Award. They are the first couple to be honored individually with the Governor’s Award.

On the same day that Barnes received her Governor’s Award, the New York Times arts section had a front page review of Boundary County resident Denis Johnson’s latest novel, The Laughing Monsters. Johnson has also been a Pulitzer finalist – two times. His book Train Dreams takes place in Idaho’s panhandle and won the Aga Khan Prize from the Paris Review. Train Dreams was reviewed in the New York Times by another Idaho writer, Anthony Doer.

Doer, who lives in Boise, has received wide acclaim. His latest novel, All the Light We Cannot See, occupies the number 8 spot on the Times best seller list. It has been on the list for 28 weeks. Longer than any other book currently on the list. The book was a finalist this year for the National Book Award.

Another finalist this year for the National Book Award, was Marilynne Robinson for her novel Lila. Robinson was born and raised in Sandpoint. In 2005 she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her book Gilead. She is currently on the faculty of the Iowa Writers Workshop, perhaps the most celebrated creative writing program in the country.

Mystery author Ridley Pearson is a part time resident of Hailey, Idaho. Pearson has written 48 novels. Many of them NY Times best sellers. His series of books featuring the fictional Sherriff Walt Fleming takes place in Sun Valley. A measure of the esteem in which he is held by other writers is his membership in the musical group Rock Bottom Remainders. Other members of the group include Amy Tan, Steven King, Dave Berry, Robert Fulghum, Barbara Kingsolver and Roy Blount Jr.

Idaho has been home to other prominent writers. Lawrence Gipson grew up in Caldwell and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1903.In 1904 he was a member of the third class of Rhodes Scholars. He became a noted historian and in 1962 won the Pulitzer Prize for History.
Mountain Home native Richard McKenna’s best known work was The Sand Pebbles. It won the 1963 Harper Prize and was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen. McQueen was nominated for the Academy Award for his performance. (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)

Snow park underway at Eagle (Boise Statesman)
Legislators named to leadership, committees (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing unions in Idaho (IF Post Register)
Glanbia looking at $82m expansion (TF Times News)

UO will be part of sexual violence suvey (Eugene Register Guard)
Local officials split on water agreement (KF Herald & News)
USO master gardeners no help on pot (Medford Tribune)
Possible downtown Medford renewal district (Medford Tribune)
Oregon Caves expansion moving ahead (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston trade, meeting center ground broken (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State may spent $600k for pot administration (Pendleton E Oregonian)
OSU football coach heads to Nebraska (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Boeing tanker nearly ready to fly (Everett Herald)
Clark County rural pot store ban wins in court (Longview News)
More gun check ideas planned (Olympian, Vancouver Columbian)
Port Angeles downtown group director laid off (Port Angeles News)
Sequim wins in court on labor dispute (Port Angeles News)
Starbucks trying new style store at Capitol Hill (Seattle Times)
Diverse Bellevue has leaders that are less so (Seattle Times)
Fire district levy fails in east Pierce (Tacoma News Tribune)
Hotel development locked in for waterfront (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark auditor draws complaints from fellow Rs (Vancouver Columbian)
Pacific NW University unveils campus plan (Yakima Herald Republic)

Cause of a massive panic

frazier DAVID


When a second grade student at a Middleton elementary school noticed “a gun” in the backpack of a fellow 7 or 8-year-old second grader, he did the right thing and told his teacher.

The teacher did the right thing and notified school officials. From that point it got weird according to a report in the DAILY PAPER. For better or worse–remember, we are talking 7-year-old kid with a toy gun zipped away in his backpack–school officials called the Canyon County sheriff.

In a normal society untainted by school shootings, cops killing 12-year-old kids on video, big kids scaring cops so bad they blow away the kid resulting in riots, a copper would be sent to visit the classroom.

We are no longer a normal society. Canyon’s Sheriff responded with 18 coppers, several nearby schools were “locked down,” and the poor little 7-year-old was immediately suspended from school. We don’t know the words used by the teacher, the administration, or the dispatcher, but such an over reaction is bound to make future witnesses “gun shy” about reporting potential misbehavior.

A seasoned teacher would have simply picked up the child’s backpack and in a worse case scenario, called the boy’s mother. The sheriff says the kid did not display the toy gun (with red cap on the barrel), didn’t threaten, didn’t point it at anyone.

There is the usual “continuing investigation,” but we suspect somewhere after the well intended notification by the second grade student and confiscation of the toy, the report escalated to, “Gun in a classroom> call police> unknown weapon at school> send back up> lock down schools just in case> suspended for no tolerance.”

Everyone needs to calm down and COMMUNICATE. Everyday folks on cell phones race to call 911 to report car crashes. Police get so many calls with reports in the “east lane, west lane, just before and just after milepost 54,” that the dispatcher sends fire trucks, ambulance, and police fearing multiple crashes and injuries.

Today’s computer dispatching and truncated lingo can have tragic results when responding officers are sent to “man with a gun” calls instead of “caller thinks there is a boy with a fake gun.” A 12-year-old kid was killed by Cleveland coppers who made a hasty response, driving within 8 feet of the youth across the grass in a small park.