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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)

Warrentless blow draws banned by supreme court (Boise Statesman)
Deputy moved up to state prison director (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Major downtown Caldwell buildings redeveloped (Nampa Press Tribune)
Amy's Kitchen co-owners talk about Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho Rail Shop deals with fire damage (Pocatello Journal)
Legislative leaders mostly stay in place (TF Times News)
Business coalition urges Boulder as monument (TF Times News)
Glanbia will grow its operation at TF (TF Times News)

OSU master gardeners won't help on pot grows (Eugene Register Guard)
UO strike by graduate assistants continues (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath College dealing with budget gap (KF Herald & News)
Water agreement draws backing from cattkemen (KF Herald & News)
Schools at Medford see administrator raises (Medford Tribune)
Jackson Co wants control of federal lands (Medford Tribune)
Salmon license plate debate continues (Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oreognian)
Study: Wolf kills may increase livestock attacks (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton buys new street sweeper (Pendleton E Oregonian)
$583,000 sought for state pot administration (Portland Oregonian)
Progress on Oregon caves expansion bill (Salem Statesman Journal)
Child care costs in state growing (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bainbridge councilman may quit over records case (Bremerton Sun)
Growth in Kitsap aimed around cities (Bremerton Sun)
Former bikini espresso hits demolished at Everett (Everett Herald)
State planning tolling lanes on 405 (Everett Herald)
Area crabbers faring better this season (Longview News)
Hanford may become national historical park (Longview News)
Scientists researching the Northwest fault (Port Angeles News, Longview News)
Olympic Medical exec gets pay raise (Port Angeles News)
Maybe progress for Alpine Lakes wilds bill (Seattle Times)
WSU: Wold kills may increase livestock kills (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma will close unlicensed pot shops (Tacoma News Tribune)
Franciscan Health names new CEO (Tacoma News Tribune)
Study reviews cost of water plan at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)

Best news by approval voting

harris ROBERT


The Strategic Decision:

In early 2014, as a group of election reformers were strategizing on their best chances to change our voting system they made a critical decision.

Mark Frohnmayer, one of the chief architects of the four different draft initiatives, favored initiative 54 which included an open primary with approval voting and a top two final election.

newsApproval voting is a scientifically tested model of voting that according to voting experts will produce a more satisfying result for the most voters and is not as subject to manipulation as other types of voting. (For more on voting theory go to The Center for Election Science).

Jim Kelly, an active and generous supporter of election reform, favored initiative 55. I-55 included the open primary with a top two general election, but not approval voting. It continued our current system known as first past the post voting. All electors would vote for a single candidate in an open primary and only the top two would move onto the final general election.

Kelly and his supporters believed that including approval voting and an open primary would be too big of a leap for voters. Kelly’s argument won the day and all the money coalesced behind Initiative 55 which won a place on the Oregon General election ballot as Measure 90. (Note: Frohmnayer believed that M90 included an implicit charge to the Legislature to implement a form of approval voting or IRV as well. Others contest that mandate)

When A Door Shuts a Window Opens:

Measure 90 was crushed. It wasn’t enough of a change to inspire many independents, it ignored the legitimate concerns of minor parties who felt marginalized, and it went too far for major parties and their base who believed an open primary threatened their influence.

But while M90 failed it did stir up a lot of debate and ideas by opponents, many of whom did agree that there were ways to improve our democracy through election and voting reform. While it may have been a cynical position, the meme from many major party activists during the election was that they weren’t against election reform and getting more people involved in voting per se, but that M90 was not the answer. The most common theme was that an open primary wasn’t real reform. Real reform would be some form of instant runoff voting (IRV), or ranked choice voting, or some other similar voting method. One that would empower more voters while respecting the rights of major and minor parties.

These major party activists who were fighting against M90 were making some of Frohnmayer’s argument. It isn’t necessarily the top two feature that is the critical reform, it’s the voting mechanism that is critical to making reform work and empowering voters.

So, in continuing that conversation with open minded Democrats and Republicans I’d like you to consider this. (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)

Funds for new skate park donated in Boise (Boise Statesman)
Schools find ways to bring tech into classes (Boise Statesman)
Canyon cops already using body cameras (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell may see affordable housing efforts (Nampa Press Tribune)
Chubbuck considers 44% pay hike for mayor (Pocatello Journal)
Schools in Magic Valley eyeing bonds (TF Times News)

Picketers active in UO labor strike (Eugene Register Guard)
GMO measure recount gets underway (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Klamath commissioners look again at jail levy (KF Herald & News)
KF city council support water deal (KF Herald & News)
Most streams covered under new dredge ban (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber proposes $51.6 million for water fund (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Salmon license plate funds goes to pay salary (Portland Oregonian)
Video lottery funds most benefit a few (Portland Oregonian)
More executive shifts for Cover Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton considers its $37.5m budget (Bremerton Sun)
Oso commission work continues (Everett Herald)
Bothell struggling with North Creek Forest funds (Everett Herald)
First Federal bank now offering stock (Port Angeles News)
Big Duwamish River cleanup planned (Seattle Times)
Amazon faces conflict in gender policy, giving (Seattle Times)
State proposes new rules for oil trains (Vancouver Columbian)
Senator Rivers runs for Vancouver council (Vancouver Columbian)
Legal pot prices still well above black market (Yakima Herald Republic)
Man seeks new trial on pot charges (Yakima Herald Republic)

Election alternatives

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

I love playing golf, but I hate hitting irons.
One day, I heard somebody talk about the key to better iron play. “Get rid of the darn things,” he said. I did, and my golf game improved dramatically with my odd assortment of fairway woods.

The same principal can apply to elections in Idaho. Get rid of the darn things – at least as they are now. General elections at the top of the ticket have all the suspense of old communist Russian ballots, where only one name counts – the one with the “R” label. Democrats have become irrelevant. But as bad as general elections are, primary elections are worse. The voting turnout in late May is disgustingly low – especially with the closed primaries. But the open primaries also were a disaster in terms of low turnout.

Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney has said he favors eliminating primary elections and letting the parties figure out how to nominate their candidates. Actually, he’s on the right track because it’s ridiculous for the state to be spending money on primary elections that draw less than 20 percent of eligible voters. Since some 80 percent of the people have made it clear they don’t want to exercise their right to vote, then maybe they should lose that right. If nothing else, the howls of protest would offer some entertainment value.

A better idea is to find something else that does work. Oregon voters rejected an interesting idea that is used in Washington and some other states: End closed primaries and open the elections to all comers. The top two vote-getters for a given office would square off in the general election.

That means, two Republicans could be running against one another in a general election – which often would be the case in Idaho. If the top-two format were used in Idaho in the governor’s race, Gov. Butch Otter might have been going against Republican State Sen. Russ Fulcher instead of Democrat A.J. Balukoff. Voters in rural Idaho – which holds all the power in elections – then would have a real choice.

Idaho is not a two-party system in a traditional sense, but there are two distinctly divided factions in the Republican Party. There is, in lack of a better name, the “Tea Party Crowd” (TPC), led by Congressman Raul Labrador and at least half of the state’s House leadership. That group has a name for the other side: RINO – “Republicans in Name Only,” with Otter and Congressman Mike Simpson being among the charter members. The TPC prides itself on being “traditional Republicans,” who oppose anything to do with President Obama, Medicaid expansion and government-sanctioned education standards. The RINO group doesn’t like Obama, but are friendlier to selective “moderate” causes. (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)

High Pacific temps may be hurting salmon (Boise Statesman)
Nampa reviewing its streetscape options (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell looking at urban renreal possibilities (Nampa Press Tribune)
Old Town Pocatello draws, opens 7 businesses (Pocatello Journal)
Kraft plant blaze cause still unknown (Pocatello Journal)

1,500 graduate instructors strike at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber budget would increase school funds (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
3-month water outlook close to normal (KF Herald & News)
Wine in southern Oregon had a good 2013 (Medford Tribune)
Former BMCC executive charges race bias (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New Portland protesters mirroring Occupy (Portland Oregonian)

Bremerton Port leader apologies over meetings (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing providing changed health plans (Everett Herald)
Sauk-Suiattle Tribe may move over flooding (Everett Herald)
Pot shops banned in Woodland (Longview News)
Schoesler elected as Senate majority leader (Olympian)
LaPush considered highly popular coastal area (Port Angeles News)
Possible Gonzaga partnership with UW medical (Spokane Spokesman)
Benton loses majority deputy leader post (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver offered breaks to large employers (Vancouver Columbian)
State fruit industry looks ahead (Yakima Herald Republic)
Environment group wants into dairy-EPA suit (Yakima Herald Republic)

A common sense law?

carlson CHRIS


Some state senator or some state representative somewhere in Idaho should ask Legislative Services to draft a bill for consideration by leadership that makes so much common sense it will probably be rejected---or consigned to oblivion in some committee chairman’s desk drawer.

The bill, if enacted, would prohibit a governor and a lieutenant governor from flying anywhere together on the same aircraft.

In Idaho, far more frequently than one may realize, Lt. Gov. Brad Little hooks a ride with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, especially during the campaign season when both are appearing at the same venue. That they may split the expense if the campaign is reimbursing the state for the flight to save both campaigns a few dollars is beside the point.

Even during the “non-campaign” season, though, Brad would hook a ride with Butch if both, as they often did, were participating in Governor Otter’s frequent Capitol For A Day visits across Idaho. Given Idaho’s sad history of plane crashes changing political history, one would think they would not fly together. But they do They like each other and enjoy each other’s company and there’s no law against it. But there should be.

While Idaho has yet to lose a sitting governor to an airplane crash, despite its mountainous terrain and its variable and changeable weather, all one has to do is to look at the neighboring states of Oregon and Montana for examples of sitting governors dying in a plane crash.

On October 28th, 1947, Oregon Governor Earl Snell, along with Oregon’s Secretary of State and its State Senate president, and their pilot all died in a plane crash east of Klamath Falls----sad proof that it can happen and it can wipe out part of a state’s political leadership if they are flying together.

On January 25th, 1962, Montana Governor Don Nutter also died in a plane crash.

For Brad to fly with Butch is unnecessary risk-taking and it ought to stop. The bottom line is that we as taxpayers have an investment in the lieutenant governor, whomever he or she is. They are truly governors in waiting, and part of the purpose of the office is to ensure a smooth transition to capable hands should, Gof forbid, something happen to the sitting governor.
The writers of Idaho’s State Constitution as far back as 1888 and 1889 saw the wisdom in giving the lieutenant governor all the powers of the governor when the governor is out of state. For one thing, if they were of different parties, it would serve as a way to keep the governor close to home doing the job.

There is even a strict notification protocol that has to be followed of notifying the line of succession every time the governor and/or lieutenant governor leave the state. For example, even if they leave Idaho’s airspace for just 15 minutes, as happens when they fly from Boise to the Pullman-Moscow airport located just over the state line before driving back into Idaho, the line of succession has to be officially notified. (more…)

In the Briefings

Christmas tree

Straight from the Tillamook State Forest, this Noble Fir went up in the Capitol Rotunda. (photo/Department of Forestry)

Entering the holiday limbo between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a good deal of legislative preparation work (which long since has begun) will kick into high gear. Expect to see more of that next week.

The next term of the Idaho Legislature opens next week with its two-day (or so) organizational session, when leadership positions and committee assignments are filled. We’ll have a report on that next week.

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)

Young adults leaving rural Idaho (Boise Statesman)
80 mph speed drawing increasing speed tickets (Nampa Press Tribune)

Precinct-level look at Medford Bates, pot races (Medford Tribune)
Clackamas County tries new river protection (Portland Oregonian)
Salem looking at Uber car rules (Salem Statesman Journal)

Final committee meeting on Oso set (Everett Herald)
Reviewing DUI laws for pot (Olympian)
Unclear impacts of new state gun law (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles asked for pay for higher bridge rails (Port Angeles News)
Jesse Jackson speaks on civil rights at Seattle (Seattle Times)
Amazon using more robots in warehouses (Seattle Times)
Spokane plans beautification for Division Street (Spokane Spokesman)