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Posts published in January 2015

What Obama said in Boise

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

From the White House transcript of President Barack Obama's remarks in Boise on Wednesday.

So, last night, I gave my State of the Union address. (Applause.) Today, I'm going to be shorter. I won't be too short, just a little shorter. (Laughter.) And I focused last night on what we can do, together, to make sure middle-class economics helps more Americans get ahead in the new economy. And I said that I’d take these ideas across the country. And I wanted my first stop to be right here in Boise, Idaho. (Applause.)

Now, there are a couple reasons for this. The first is because, last year, Michelle and I got a very polite letter from a young girl named Bella Williams -- who is here today. Where’s Bella? There she is right there. Wave, Bella. (Applause.) Bella is 13 now, but she was 12 at the time. So she wrote me a letter and she said, “I know what you’re thinking -- Wow, what’s it like in Boise, Idaho?” (Laughter.) So she invited me to come visit. And she also invited me to learn how to ski or snowboard with her. (Applause.) Now, as somebody who was born in Hawaii, where there’s not a lot of snow -- let me put it this way -- you do not want to see me ski. (Laughter.) Or at least the Secret Service does not want to see me ski. (Laughter.)

But what I do know about Boise is that it’s beautiful. I know that because I’ve been here before. I campaigned here in 2008. (Applause.) It was really fun. And the truth is, because of the incredible work that was done here in Idaho, it helped us win the primary. And I might not be President if it weren't for the good people of Idaho. (Applause.) Of course, in the general election I got whupped. (Laughter.) I got whupped twice, in fact. But that’s okay - I’ve got no hard feelings. (Laughter.)

In fact, that’s exactly why I’ve come back. Because I ended my speech last night with something that I talked about in Boston just over a decade ago, and that is there is not a liberal America or a conservative America, but a United States of America. (Applause.)

And today, I know it can seem like our politics are more divided than ever. And in places like Idaho, the only “blue” turf is on your field. (Applause.) And the pundits in Washington hold up these divisions in our existing politics and they show, well, this is proof that any kind of hopeful politics, that's just naïve. But as I told you last night, I still believe what I said back then. I still believe that, as Americans, we have more in common than not. (Applause.)

I mean, we have an entire industry that's designed to sort us out. Our media is all segmented now so that instead of just watching three stations, we got 600. And everything is market-segmented, and you got the conservative station and the liberal stations. So everybody is only listening to what they already agree with. And then you’ve got political gerrymandering that sorts things out so that every district is either one thing or the other. And so there are a lot of institutional forces that make it seem like we have nothing in common.

But one of the great things about being President is you travel all across the country and I've seen too much of the good and generous and big-hearted optimism of people, young and old -- folks like Bella. I've seen how deep down there’s just a core decency and desire to make progress together among the American people. (Applause.) That's what I believe.

So I've got two years left and I am not going to stop trying -- trying to make our politics work better. (more…)

On the front pages

news

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)

Obama visits Boise, delivers speech (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Washington AG proposes 21 as smoking age (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Nampa mayor Henry delivers state of the state (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho officials warn of avian flu spread (Nampa Press Tribune)
Xavier charter school buys building (TF Time News)

UO demands released documents back (Eugene Register Guard)
Local gas falls below $2 a gallon (Eugen Register Guard)
Man with measles tracked while contagious (Eugene Register Guard)
Renovations planned for Kalamth school (KF Herald & News)
KF council set increase in sewer rate (KF Herald & News)
Ashland chicken pox activity eases off (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla cultural center plans solar carport (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Progress expected on Pioneer Park proposal (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon unemployment down to August 2008 level (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Carcinogens found in some e-cigarettes (Portland Oregonian)

Help located for Kitsap crisis centers (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee says legislators to blame on road funding (Everett Herald)
Stanwood debates library location (Everett Herald)
Local gas falls below $2 a gallon (Longview News)
State AG proposes 21 as smoking age (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Salary board votes to raise legislator pay (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Forum explores how cuts at army base may hurt area (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Superbug sickens people at Seattle hospital (Seattle Times)
Seahawks try trademarking all sorts of things (Seattle Times)
Windows 10 emerging in release (Seattle Times)
Flu kills 6 so far in Spokane area (Spokane Spokesman)
Tolls on Tacoma Narrow Bridge will go up (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislators consider pot DUI rules (Tacoma News Tribune)
New PAC takes aim at Vancouver port commission (Vancouver Columbian)

Pay-for state-ofs

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

President Obama is headed for Boise in the next few days. His speech — a follow up to the “state of the union” — will be free, even if it doesn’t include the infamous “rubber chicken” or snacks.

Imagine the uproar if the Governor or the President delivered a “state of the state” or “state of the union” address as a fund-raiser and charged for seating. That’s the plan for Treasure Valley mayors in coming weeks.

Seems the mayors of Treasure Valley have simply forgotten their roots–with the exception of Garret Nancolas of Caldwell. They are planning to address the citizens about public issues, talk about spending public money, and charge the citizens to hear them at an inconvenient time for the average worker. Nancolas’ speech is free.

Bob Henry of Nampa, Tammy de Weerd of Meridian, and Eagle’s Jim Reynolds all have scheduled “State of The City” speeches and they expect citizens to PAY to hear them expound on their goals and accomplishments. Sure, if you want to be a cheapskate or simply can’t afford lunch you can sit in the corner for free.

The GUARDIAN has bitched about the practice and the fund raiser nature for years, especially in Boise where 1,000 businessmen, contractors, and other beneficiaries gather for a breakfast where it costs $40 a plate–yielding a gross of $40,000 for the special interest business lobbying group called the Chamber of Commerce. (The only reason there is free seating at all is due to prior GUARDIAN posts). (more…)

On the front pages

news

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)

Obama will visit BSU tech laboratory (Boise Statesman)
Rep. Andrus and the salamander bill (Pocatello Journal)
Obama will meet with wife of jailed pastor (TF Times News)

Lane county reports measles (Eugene Register Guard)
Utility district wants leader back, he won't come (Eugene Register Guard)
Hospital board members rescind resignation (KF Herald & News)

Port Prchard spots grill closes (Bremerton Sun)
Ferry game failures upset Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Pro-life rally draws statehouse crowd (Olympian)
State official delay avian flu quarantine (Port Angeles News)
Final trip planned for Kalakala (Tacoma News Tribune)
Bill would require local pot bans win votes (Tacoma News Tribune)
Goldendale considers its pot future (Yakima Herald Republic)

Eye on the nuclear rabbit

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

A guest opinion by Cecil D. Andrus, former Idaho governor, on nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory.

There's an old country expression that the people of Idaho should take to heart: Keep your eye on the rabbit. In this case, the rabbit is the incontestable threat to Idaho's economic and environmental future presented by the storage above the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer of nuclear waste, whether liquid, transuranic or solid in the form of spent fuel rods.

It would only take one major seismic event to precipitate nuclear-tainted material migrating to and beginning to infect the aquifer. Idahoans would see a major part of the state's agricultural economy, particularly the downstream potato, beet, alfalfa and trout farm businesses destroyed, never to recover.

Imagine how deadly one political cartoon showing an irradiated potato "going viral" would be?

One out of two residents in South Idaho obtain their culinary water directly or indirectly from the Snake River and/or the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. If you are one of those two, how would you feel about continuing to draw your household water from a compromised source?

There are several key matters the public should keep in mind.

Gov. Phil Batt's historic 1995 agreement that, to his lasting credit, he drove through the "Red Zone" was premised on a mutual agreement between the state and the federal government that all nuclear waste above the aquifer was to be removed from Idaho by 2035.

My fellow citizens, you are not going to reach that goal by adding to the waste instead of continuing to draw it down. Gov. Batt said it quite well: "You take an ounce of waste from the federal government, they want to give you 10,000 pounds."

The issue is not so much what 50 spent fuel rods weigh (EPA states they could weigh up to 1,500 pounds each) that Gov. Butch Otter wants to allow, nor how much revenue-generating research is going to be generated by the spent fuel rods. The issue is that Gov. Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are looking the other way as Idaho's National Laboratory increasingly becomes the de facto replacement for Yucca Mountain, Nev., as the nation's permanent repository.

The second fundamental issue is this: Who do you trust to look out for your interests with the "greatest good for the greatest number" as a guiding principle? Is it two governors who between them have served Idaho in one office or another for a combined 80 years and have stood fast against Idaho becoming a dumping ground, or is it a federal government with a long history of breaking promises?

By the way, this is the same federal government that Gov. Otter so excoriated in his State of the State on a number of fronts. Why does he think they can be trusted to serve as "co-guardians" of Idaho's future?

Gov. Batt and I are giving the people of this great state a solemn pledge that we are going to ask some tough questions in the next few weeks. We intend to get answers. This is not the first time Gov. Otter has sought an exemption. Exceptions quickly turn to norms, and we believe his administration has operated far too long in the shadows on this critical matter.

We take seriously the oath of office we both first took as governors to uphold the Idaho Constitution and to serve the best interests of the people. Though we no longer hold public office, we believe it still applies and we intend to do our duty.

Cecil D. Andrus is a former governor of Idaho.

Mormon mystery to miracle?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is assessing his prospects for another run at the Presidency. His name indentification alone from being the GOP presidential candidate in 2012 would in normal times give him a leg up and make him the leading contender.

However, these are not normal times and there are some insurmountable obstacles standing in the way. That is not saying he does not have some assets, because he does.

First, he is adaptable, or, as he says with a new-found self-deprecating sense of humor, wife Ann says he learns from experience and is getting more experienced. Romney, his wife and their talented, attractive children are convinced that the warmer, human and humane side of the good husband and fine father he is was not allowed to show in 2012.

Second, they believe his executive and business skills will be even more obvious as an asset both in the primaries against non-business ceo’s like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as presumptive Democratic nominee, former Senator Hillary Clinton. They will argue that only Mitt has the ability to capitalize on and make sure the nation’s economic expansion continues.

Third, supporters like Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz claim time has proven that in foreign affairs Romney was correct in saying one could and should not trust the Russians. Across the board they believe their man’s ability to understsnd better the “optics” of issues than the President has been bourne out.

His two biggest assets, however, have considerable downsides. These two assets are flip sides of the same coin, and that is Romney’s Mormonism. The plain fact is that the Church Authorities up to and including virtually all the membets of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency, are very proud of Governor Romney and his viability as a candidate for the Presidency.

Publicly, of course, the LDS church and its leadership maintain a posture of neutrality and non-partisanship. However, privately and behind the scenes this “favorite son” quality enables Romney to be one of only two GOP candidates, the other being Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and only one Democrat, former Senator Hillary Clinton, capable of raising the one billion dollars (yes, that is a “b”) most political analysts believe will be raised and spent to secure a party nomination and then run a viable campaign for the Presidency.

Thus, from an organizational and fund-riasing standpoint, Romney’s faith and religion are great assets. Through the Church he has an ability to muster more dedicated followers than even the Clintons and the Obamas.

And through the Church he has an almost inexhaustible fund-raising base that will enable him at a minimum to wear down his lesser resourced opposition, again with the exception of former Flordia Governor Jeb Bush.

If Romney does formally annnounce one can expect his 2012 Fiance co-chair, Melaleuca chairman Frank VanderSloot of Idaho Falls, to again line up as many statewide elected Republicans, and others, such as the Legislative leadership, behind Romney. It migh not be as easy as 2012 for there is little doubt that former Idaho attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy will head up Jeb’s Idaho camapign.

Count on Leroy and othe Bush loyalists across the country to exploit publicly one great negative issue in Romney’s record that he cannnot walk away from: he will be linked inextricably to the hated President Obama and the ObamaCare Health Plan which Democrats themselves say was modeled on the RomneyCare Health Reform program promoted and passed into law when Mitt was the governor of the state.

Romney’s biggest negative though is that because he is Mormon he cannot win in the south. If he cannot win the south he can neither win the nomination nor the general election. The path to the White House goes through Florida both in the primaries and the general. (more…)

On the front pages

news

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 presidential visits to Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Near-downtown homes may be moved from 5th st (Boise Statesman)
'Ag Gag' bill arrives in Washington legislature (Moscow News)
Local debate over genetically modified crops (Nampa Press Tribune)
As jobless rate declines, food stamp use rises (Nampa Press Tribune)
Water call for Rangen goes through (TF Times News)
Leading Idaho officials won't be at Boise Obama event (TF Times News)
TF courts move toward paperless operation (TF Times News)

Eugene council keeps discussing taxes (Eugene Register Guard)
Pacific Power talks about possible KF city lawsuit (KF Herald & News)
Impact of low gas prices (Medford Tribune)
Walden blasts Obama immigration order (Pendleton E Oregonian)
DNA says Kennewick Man was an Indian (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Regulations impacting drop-in day care efforts (Portland Oregonian)

One phone calls 911 thousands of times on fakes (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish evaluates 911 software (Everett Herald)
Longview looks at city manager finalists (Longview News)
Longview looks at "carbon capture' for port (Longview News)
Backers of more post-prison monitoring look for money (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
MLK Day rallies, speeches (Spokesman Review, Bremerton Sun)
DNA says Kennewick Man was an Indian (Spokesman Review)
State House bars open carry in chamber (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)

State of the Union mentions

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

Indian Country is rarely mentioned during a presidential State of the Union. That’s too bad. There is so much a president could do to improve the administration of federal Indian policy.

The president could urge Congress to fund Treaty Right obligations as automatic. After all, it’s essentially the same kind of spending as interest on the federal debt. (A cost, by the way, that the Congressional Budget Office figures will triple in a decade, reaching some $800 billion.)

Or insist on multi-year budgets for the Indian health system, making it much easier to plan ahead, be more efficient, and improve health care.

In a perfect world the president would ask Congress to invest in the next generation of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Everyone talks about how important young people are — so why not do something and something substantial?

Funny thing about that last point: That’s exactly what President Barack Obama will propose in his annual message to Congress.

The United States “dedicated ourselves to cultivating the most educated workforce in the world and we invested in what’s one of the crown jewels of this country, and that's our higher education system. And dating back to Abraham Lincoln, we invested in land-grant colleges. We understood that this was a hallmark of America, this investment in education. But eventually, the world caught on and the world caught up,” he said in a Knoxville, Tennessee, speech, a preview of the State of the Union. “And that’s why we have to lead the world in education again.”

In an economy where knowledge and technology fuel the future the president said “the single most important way to get ahead is not just to get a high school education, you’ve got to get some higher education.”

Even though the president’s message was broad, he was also giving an apt description of the 37 tribal colleges and universities. Then again, the president is not new to this issue. He’s already championed increasing opportunity for Native students, most recently signing an executive order affirming that commitment.

So any boost in funding for community colleges will likely result in more money for tribal colleges too and that’s a smart investment for a lot of reasons.

First consider the big picture, the budget. It’s clear that the US government is on an austerity course. Money for education and other domestic programs has been shrinking not growing (measured by share of the economy). But the entitlement side of the budget —
Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare — is getting more expensive because of the sheer size of the Baby Boom generation.

The problem is that the country is not investing enough in the next generation; instead it’s saddling young people with student debt, now exceeding some $1.2 trillion (more than any other type of household debt). It’s we Baby Boomers who should be shouting about the stupidity of this policy. Fact is we need young people to be as successful as possible, as quickly as possible, to pay for our retirement. The generation called the Echo Boomers is huge, some 90 million people. (The most common age in America right now is 22 years old.) (more…)

In the Briefings

gun

 
Tactical Export Strategies has organized 13 Idaho recreation-technology (rec-tech) companies to create a complete and functioning firearm from Idaho-made products. This firearm will be on display at the 2015 Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (S.H.O.T) Show in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo Center January 20-23, 2015, in the Idaho Commerce booth (booth 2943).  (Image/Idaho Department of Commerce)

 
The Oregon Ducks’ loss at the national championship level stung, and it may not have been exactly the right note on which to launch the Oregon Legislature and re-swear in (for the fourth time) Governor John Kitzhaber. But the timing was fixed. A large portion of the governor’s combination inaugural and state of the state speech is in this edition along with a commentary on its unusual content.

The Washington Legislature launched last week, with much of the attention going to the governor’s state of the state address; much of it is reprinted in this edition. A pile of legislation was introduced as well, and some samples are referenced in the state section.

As per usual, the Idaho Legislature hasn’t immediately roared into action – things move a little slower in the first couple of weeks – but a lot of attention went to the governor’s state of the state address. A large chunk of it is reprinted in this issue, along with part of the Democratic response.

On the front pages

news

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)

Supreme Court will hear Idaho Medicaid pay case (Boise Statesman)
DARE school programs generally in decline (Lewiston Tribune)
Getting into the Obama Boise events (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Most of Idaho has strong snowpack (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Southern Idaho will see 13 new solar projects (Nampa Press Tribune)
Zions Bank starts political website (TF Times News)

3 of 4 Wendy's at Eugene close (Eugene Register Guard)
New grant will help restore oak habitat (Medford Tribune)

Seahawks advance to Superbowl (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kitsap Sun, Olympian, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
Plan suggests rilaroad loop at Everett (Everett Herald)
Lynnwood renting some land for $5 (Everett Herald)
Kilmer, constituents talk electronic warfare (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing legislator action on pot (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver oil terminal a divisive subject (Vancouver Columbian)