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Posts published in “Year: 2014”

Cows without guns

idaho RANDY

In England, when the Guardian newspaper wrote last week about the great Pocatello cow escape, they tagged the breakout bovines the “Slaughterhouse five.”

British newspapers have a gift, don’t they?

But the first of the animals to break out, a heifer, sounded as if she had been inspired instead by the Dana Lyons song “Cows with Guns.” (“We will fight for bovine freedom/And hold our large heads high . . .”)

On December 12 she jumped a six-foot fence at Anderson Custom Pack and roared into a rampage, running through Pocatello’s north end, butting an animal control vehicle and two police cars. Finally, police shot and killed her. She may have been unarmed but, in truth, becoming dangerous and the stakes were high. (Sorry.)

Two days later four other cows, slated for the slaughter, went missing. Anderson spokesmen said they thought someone had let them loose; there’s not yet been an official determination on that one way or the other. However the escape happened, the animals were soon roaming around town. One of them was captured, and one was shot.

The other two evidently, at this writing, remain at large.

Here’s a problem, because a lot of people may be conflicted.

We don’t want cows roaming our streets, even cows that don’t ram motor vehicles. And a lot of us enjoy our beef (I do), even if we don’t try to devote a lot of thought about how it transitions from live animal to our plates. Yes, if we want our beef there will be slaughterhouses.

At the same time, most people love a good escape story. From “The Great Escape” to “Prison Break” most of us root for the people inside to get out, even if (as in “Prison Break”) some of them really are bad guys. And animals too (think about all those movies featuring an animal caged). We root for freedom, not for captivity. It’s hard not to cheer for the cows.

A few days after the second breakout, with two bovines still out there somewhere, the Farm Sanctuary group called in, and offered to find and take the animals back to their 300 acres at Orland, California, where they would be left to graze for the rest of their natural lives. (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)

Idaho businesses hit by shipping labor issues (Boise Statesman)
Bogus Basin ski off to snowy start (Boise Statesman)
River land donated for Idaho Falls park (IF Post Register)
Bergdahl investigation done (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Protest seeks improved US 95 safety (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
UI considers vaccination madate after mumps arrival (Lewiston Tribune)
Boise State battling over Fiesta Bowl tickets (Nampa Press Tribune)

Haggens buying local groceries (Eugene Register Guard, KF HErald & News)
Big storm headed for Oregon on weekend (Eugene Register Guard)
Carolers asked to leave a Wal-Mart (KF Herald & News)
Walden thinks water bill could pass in 2015 (KF Herald & News)
Medford Elk lodge carter revoked (Medford Tribune)
Oregon has fed deadline on license security (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pay is increases at Umatilla sheriff's office (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Outdoor medical pot growers reviewing new rules (Portland Oregonian)
Death at state hospital may lead to suit (Salem Statesman Journal)

Sound Transit settles on rail route to Lynnwood (Everett Herald)
Haggen stores plan on 146 more stores (Everett Herald, Olympian)
Weyerhauser retirees see pension cuts (Longview News)
Storm may be coming to Washington (Seattle Times, Longview News)
Spokane police deliver reform plans (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce cities hiring mental health experts (Tacoma News Tribune)
Inslee says he didn't forget projects for SW (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima businesses consider carbon tax plan (Yakima Herald Republic)
Former Yakima library system leader dies (Yakima Herald Republic)

Hell in a handbasket

rainey BARRETT


We “punditry” types rely on words to praise or condemn when dealing with political, economic or related issues. The words and opinions come easier than facts and, too often, we throw the nouns and adjectives out there and walk away with few facts to support the opining.

But statistics - especially those compiled by people with a dedication to neutrality and letting the numbers speak for themselves - have garnered my respect over the years. While I don’t really understand how they do what they do, I’ve learned to appreciate those who work with numbers. Especially when their findings tend to support what many of us have said for a long, long time. These do.

Idaho is going to Hell in a handbasket.

Those are just my words again. But they’re based squarely on the findings of the Idaho Center For Fiscal Policy. A “gang that can shoot straight.”

Rather than go into all the messy numbers, here are just the headlines from the Center’s latest report.

“Idaho collects less in taxes than all but two other states.”

“Support for Idaho’s schools has been steadily decreasing and is unequal across school districts.”

“Idaho’s support for higher education has dropped sharply, leading to big increases in tuition and fees.”

“Idaho has steadily cut revenues since the late 1990's.”

“Idaho’s low and moderate income residents pay a larger share of their income in taxes than the highest earners”

“Idaho’s per capita income is lower than all but one state - Mississippi.”

Those are their clinical, statistical findings. And they form the factual basis for the words “Idaho: Hell in a handbasket”

To my mind, those six headlines tie together in an endless circle. You can enter the circle at any point and exit randomly. But the pattern of disintegration in Idaho’s economic conditions just goes on and on. Down and down. (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)

Idaho school broadand at risk in legal fight (Boise Statesman)
Fiesta Bowl tickets caught up in price issue (Boise Statesman)
Money for Hitt Road approved (IF Post Register)
Reviewing community policing in eastern Idaho (IF Post Register)
Group tries to move grizzlies into Selway-Bitterroot (Lewiston Tribune)
Inslee suggests capital gains tax (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Board of Education urges teacher pay raise (TF Times News)
Christensen named new editor of Times News (TF Times News)

Eugene may annex orchard at Santa Clara (Eugene Register Guard)
Walden visits Klamath, updated on air field (KF Herald & News)
Hurt snowboarder may sue Mt Bachelor (KF Herald & News)
Lowest gas prices in years (Medford Tribune)
Jackson holds off on GMO ban while case in court (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla Tribes buying back land (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State addiction care programs languish (Portland Oregonian)
Uber slows down its plans for Portland (Portland Oregonian)

New taxes in Inslee budget plan (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Poulsbo police station site may become apartments (Bremerton Sun)
Simpson sells mill at Longview, workers stay (Tacoma News Tribune, Longview News)
Debate continues over KapStone health care (Longview News)
Local electric rates set for next year (Port Angeles News)
Spokane transit seeks $300m tax proposal (Spokane Spokesman)

Ending an embarassment

peterson MARTIN

The announcement that the United States and Cuba are attempting to normalize relations is over half a century overdue. For over half a century, we have attempted to change the course of the Cuban government through denying them diplomatic recognition, enforcing a trade embargo and numerous other activities. The thought has been that these actions would steer Cuba away from its communist form of government and get rid of the Castros.

So after 54 years, how has that strategy worked? The U.S. has gone through ten presidents in that time. In Cuba, the Castros are still in power and their government is still communist. At the same time, U.S. businesses have been denied the opportunity to profit from doing business in a county less than 100 miles from our shores and our citizens have been denied the freedom to freely travel there.

Obama’s decision will draw far louder cries of criticism that the previous decisions of Nixon with China and Clinton with Vietnam, which is troubling. In the case of both China and Vietnam, we had fought wars with them that cost tens of thousands of American lives. With Cuba, we lost four U.S. citizens in the U.S. launched Bay of Pigs invasion.

The Marco Rubios of Congress will rant that the Cuban government is guilty of having confiscated private property. Absolutely correct. But China, Vietnam, Russia, Mexico and other governments we recognize have done the same. They will also say that the Cuban government is a repressive government with respect to many of its people. Once again, correct. But we do business with numerous others governments guilty of the same charge, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Russia, Vietnam and many others.

Shortly after President Obama held his news conference announcing his decision to open diplomatic relations with Cuba, Florida Senator Marco Rubio appeared before the TV cameras. He gave all appearances of being in shock over the situation. And with good reason. He and a number of other politicians have built careers based on their opposition to the Cuban government. In most instances, they have represented states or congressional districts with a high percentage of Cuban-American citizens.

But times have changed. While the older generations of Cuban Americans – those who had lived in Cuba and immigrated to the United States – may still support things like the trade embargo, public sentiment has changed among the younger generations.

The U.S. maintains a fairly large interests operation in Havana. It will require little to simply change its name from an interests section to an embassy. Initially, confirmation of an ambassador will likely run into a roadblock, but with time that will also change.

Obama can take most of his actions to normalize relations via executive action. But the trade embargo is set in law and will require congressional action to be lifted.

Don’t expect that to happen any time soon. However, when a major effort comes to remove the embargo, it will likely come from the business sector, seeking to open new markets for their products. The petroleum industry will also likely make a push in an effort to gain offshore exploration rights from the Cuban government. Another U.S. economic sector that will make that push will be the resort and tourism industry. Cuba has huge potential for tourism and right now European companies are doing most of that development in Cuba. Unfortunately, the longer the U.S. drags its feet on lifting the trade embargo, the more likely it is that all of the prime beach front property will be developed by interests from other countries. (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)

Micron's fortunes looking up (Boise Statesman)
Student paper plagiarizes in commont on Ybarra (Boise Statesman)
Looking at challenge to health care subsidies (IF Post Register)
Cooperative health insurance provider appears (IF Post Register)
Otter wants Supreme Court to see Idaho marriage case (IF Post Register)
Asotin aquatic center may be back on track (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah whooping cough case confirmed (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Latah officials look to next legislative session (Moscow News)
Canyon officials release plans for jail (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell ethanol plant considered by county (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello cows may get national help (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello schools asking for $9.25m levy (Pocatello Journal)
ASISU president quits as grades fall (Pocatello Journal)
Chobani finds way to use less water (TF Times News)

Historical park fees would rise to $10 (Astorian)
Pacific Power may sue Klamath on terms of use (KF Herald & News)
Jobs coming back in Portland (Medford Tribune)
Old state hospital building to be demolished (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Coal port case on hold till end of 2015 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon gets new pot program head (Portland Oregonian)
Portland might go for new parking meter deal (Portland Oregonian)
Farmers could see benefits from Cuba trade (Salem Statesman Journal)
State seeks to have local school incentivize (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard has conflicts over email policy (Bremerton Sun)
Poulsbo transfer station added to Transit plan (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish County won't shut down, budget okayed (Everett Herald)
KapStone workers, execs still conflict over health (Longview News)
Islee looks toward carbon cap and trade (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Port Angeles Chambers keeps tourism role (Port Angeles News)
Weather mild, snow thin, not much skiing (Spokane Spokesman)
Port of Vancouver may develop Red Lion hotel (Vancouver Columbian)
Judge Johnson, female pioneer, will retire (Vancouver Columbian)
Concerns raised about Yakima fish recovery (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima won't contribute fundes toward trolley (Yakima Herald Republic)

Old gimmicks and governing

trahant MARK


We just watched the end of The Old School Congress. It passed bills with thousands of pages, giving permission to members in the House and Senate to sneak legislation into larger bills. And better: To do so in a way without transparency or consequences.

Arizona’s Rio Tinto mine giveaway is a case in point. Actual legislation to support an Australian mining company never found support; it’s not smart politics. Which senator (other than John McCain who has long championed the deal) was willing to go before voters and say this is a good deal? But tucking into a Defense Authorization bill? Old school.

It’s a similar story for Sealaska and lands that were part of a promise under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. This time the old school process worked in favor of Alaska Natives. “Words cannot describe how pleased we are that this lands bill has passed through Congress,” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. And, unlike the Rio Tinto deal, this one was transparent. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was clear about her role in the deal.

The budget bill that Congress passed — the so-called cromnibus — was very much old school. It was signed into law Tuesday. It’s a massive spending bill, $1.1 trillion worth, wrapping up all sorts of regular appropriations with one page or one paragraph special deals that were inserted into the nearly 1,700 page document at the last minute.

But old school has its benefits. Federal Indian programs — especially the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs — were funded with modest increases. This budget means the rest of the year — from now until the end of September — should be drama free. Agencies will know how much money is available and what can be done.

But this is when the Old School ends. In a few days a new Republican Congress takes over. While many leaders are fond of the process — the give and take of legislation — the core of the party’s constituency is dismissive. The new school sees legislation as simple, clear and transparent. Not bad values, at that. But they also see legislation as either good or evil. And federal spending is not good.

What’s missing from the discourse, then, is the reality that we are already in an era of austerity. Most federal spending has been declining for five years straight and cutting domestic spending even more will not produce the kind of results that the New School wants. (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 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)