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Posts published in January 2015

We lost the war

rainey BARRETT


The war of terror is over. The terrorists won.

Before reaching for your friendly keyboard to throw electronic “rocks” my way, consider the evidence. As a matter of fact, consider a lot of evidence. The latest: three guys massacred 16 people in France. Though they met their own violent end(s) hours later, there are now 10,000 French army troops walking the streets of that country with 10,000 automatic weapons at the ready. Three dead guys - 10,000 armed troops. Plus God knows how many local cops, security types and various private guns-for-hire.

One guy - just one - puts some explosive powder on his shoe in an aircraft and tries to light it afire. From that day forward, hundreds of millions of us have had to walk barefoot in airport lobbies. One guy - millions barefoot.

Another guy - just one - had what appeared to be an explosive in his shorts while being an airlines traveler. From that day forward, hundreds of millions of us have had to endure full body scans and/or body scans with hand wands. One guy - millions of us being body scanned.

I could fill a few dozen more paragraphs but you get the idea. When dealing with terrorists, they almost always win by definition because, from the moment of the violence, everyone else reacts. Or over-reacts. Someone breaks into your house - you buy a burglar alarm. Or a gun. Or both. You buy new and heavier locks. More of ‘em. Somebody bashes your parked car. You fix it and park it somewhere else. You react - doing things you otherwise wouldn’t have done. Your thinking changes.

First the violence - the terror, if you will. Then the response.

Many moons ago, I landed in Washington D.C. - unemployed. Thanks to the late Sen. Len Jordan, I was hired as a uniformed Capitol police officer. Now days, Capitol officers are professionals - as well-trained as the D.C. cops. Patronage employees are now limited to copiers and staple machines.

I used to wander the halls of the Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, first as a tourist and later as a reporter. You don’t do that today. Scanners, badges, armed police, body searches and more. All over the place. There are large cement planters everywhere on the Hill to block someone trying to ram a vehicle into a building. Acres of blacktop and more of just grass - cordoned off to keep open spaces on the Hill - open. Sharpshooters on the roofs of many federal buildings around the Capitol. Same with the White House and other locations.

Terrorists. Just a handful over the last 40-50 years. But billions spent in that same time reacting. Just in Washington D.C..

Checked your local court house or city hall carefully lately? Looked really close at those new cement planter boxes out front? The little security cameras in the trees or jutting out from the eaves? How about the new “No Parking” areas or the removal of parking spaces that used to be so handy? Noticed an armed officer or two in public buildings - or schools - in our little towns? How about all that new military hardware for local cops?

Terrorists. Winning. While we react. (more…)

Eclipse the bus rider


Eclipse, a black Labrador Retriever, has learned how to navigate the city's mass transit system - by herself. Occasionally, she hops on a bus to get the dog park... without her owner.

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)

Hospital taxes continuing even for privates (Boise Statesman)
Mediation entering criminal cases (Boise Statesman)
New political website from Zion Bank (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Boise phosphorus facility in Canyon protested (Nampa Press Tribune)
Large rally at statehouse for 'add the words' (Nampa Press Tribune)
Muslims at TF plan mosque expansion (TF Times News)
Checking in on drug court grads (TF Times News)
Looking at a quarter century of the lottery (TF Times News)

Damaged Leaburg Dam impacting fish hatcheries (Eugene Register Guard)
Pot panel goes to work on new rules (Eugene Register Guard)
Wyden town hall held at Klamath Falls (KF Herald & News)
Some scofflaws run up huge parking fees (Portland Oregonian)
Homeless in Portland high numbers than national (Portland Orgonian)
Analyzing widely varied gas prices in Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Legislature considers carbon tax idea (Everett Herald)
Longview industrial park going green (Longview News)
Cuts at Lewis-McChord seem highly likely (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Looking at direct flights to SeaTac (Port Angeles News)
Genetic study finds more about Kennewick Man (Seattle Times)
Clark jail issues emergency body alarms to some (Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing Yakima's homeless situation (Yakima Herald Republic)

The fight this session

idaho RANDY

Of all the subjects under the purview of Idaho government and politics, few ought to be less controversial than roads and road repair.

There’s no dispute that this is something state government ought to be doing. There’s no disagreement anywhere about the need for good roads, and that we need them for all sorts of reasons. And yet roads – or rather, paying for their upkeep, repair and the occasional expansion – have been in recent years the most difficult subject for Idaho governors and legislatures for reaching common ground.

Roads were the reason for the longest legislative session in Idaho history, in 2003. Roads got then-newbie Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter into big fights with the legislature right from his first session, and in 2009 roads funding was the main driver behind the second-longest legislative session in Idaho history.

And here we may be again. Right on schedule, even.

Otter’s case for road and bridge work was touched on quickly in his State of the State address, but it was compelling. He said, “We know that after education, investing in infrastructure is among the smartest, most cost-effective and frankly essential uses of taxpayers' dollars to promote the public’s general welfare and sustain economic growth.” He’d probably not get much argument with that from the public – he pointed out surveys showing similar attitudes among Idahoans – or even among most legislators.

“We already have 785 state and local bridges in Idaho that are over 50 years old and considered structurally deficient. That number will grow to almost 900 bridges by 2019 even after completing work on the 68 for which we already have funding.”

And yet . . . it costs money. A lot of money.

Otter on that: “Chairmen Brackett and Palmer, legislative leaders, I am not going to stand here and tell you how to swallow this elephant. That would be contrary to all we have learned about each other and the people we serve in recent years. But we all know it must be done. I welcome financially responsible legislation that addresses steady, ongoing and sustainable transportation infrastructure in Idaho; however, I will NOT entertain proposals aimed at competing for General Fund tax dollars with education and our other required public programs or services.”

Sounds as if, on one hand, Otter is unwilling to trap himself into proposing a specific tax increase (which might fail), but on the other, telling legislators they have to do it, on whatever their own terms may be . . . so long as they’re not cutting other budgets to do it, which is another way of saying a tax increase will be needed. And Otter appeared to be saying he would veto any attempt to violate that proscription.

That would usually indicate a gas tax increase would be in the works. Given the wonderfully low price of gas right now, that may be the case. (The low price of gas also might help with gas tax revenues, since people may be buying more gallons than they were before.)

But the phrases “tax increase” and “Idaho legislature” haven’t gone together easily in recent years. Maybe recognizing that, Otter also proposed a few tax cuts – a sweetener for some legislators? – but at least one of those is likely to balloon over the next few years, slicing into state revenues.

What’s in development is an echo of those bitter road battles over the last dozen or so years. Don’t be too surprised if this shapes up as a longer, rather than a shorter, session.

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 same-sex marriage case still pursued (Boise Statesman)
School funding discussed at Kamiah capitol for a day (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators vote 3% raise for state employees (Nampa Press Tribune)
County may sell court annex building (Nampa Press Tribune)
Obama coming to Boise (TF Times News)

Last year was hottest in Oregon history (Eugene Register Guard)
Second Hilton hotel for downtown Eugene possible (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing Klamath water documentary (KF Herald & News)
Pacific Power sues KF city over franchise license (KF Herald & News)
Health care district board troubled (KF Herald & News)
Medford will comment on planned Coquille casino there (Medford Tribune)
New interim director for Jackson fairgrounds (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton downtown vacancy rate steady (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Democratic candidates outspent Republican in 2014 (Portland Oregonian)
Healthier cohort in new Medicaid enrollees (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bainbridge Island council spot filled (Bremerton Sun)
Pot dealers now grappling with oversupply (Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Sea Mar health centers pay state $3.65m in case (Olympian)
Seahawks have have had economic impact (Seattle Times, Olympian)
No more open-carry in state Senate (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian)
Lawsuit dismissed on port open meetings (Tacoma News Tribune)

The Idaho winemaking tale

strickland MICHAEL


The Idaho winemaking tale is ripe and ready for picking. It all starts with the grapes, according to the Idaho State Historical Society.

Peppershock Media Productions of Nampa, Idaho has adopted this story and developed an outstanding new film. The feature length Idaho Wine From Bud to Taste Bud is ideal for introducing students to documentaries and media literacy. The work also promotes local business in order to increase economic viability and to highlight Idaho’s vineyards and wineries in the national arena. It has uses for teachers and learners across the curriculum.

The video will explore from bud to tastebud–including culinary features. It will highlight the past and fruitful future, as well as educate and explore modern agricultural, specifically viticultural, practices by seamlessly blending the voices of those whose lives are impacted by the Idaho wine industry.

Idaho is considered, by some, part of the new frontier of grape-growing areas in the United States. The first grapes planted in Idaho were actually grown in Lewiston in 1864, according to an official state website,

“In Idaho we're the oft-forgotten 'other' state in the Pacific Northwest, said John H. Thorngate Ph.D., formerly a professor at the University of Idaho, now Applications Chemist, Research & Development, Constellation Wines U.S. “Which is rather ironic, considering that the first wineries in the Pacific Northwest were located in Idaho, and that Idaho had a nationally renowned wine industry until Prohibition, as in other regions, closed the industry down.”

Students will benefit from classroom explorations of many such little known gems of Idaho history. An article dated September 5, 1865 in the Idaho Statesman reported that a vineyard of Royal Muscadine cuttings had been planted early in the spring of the previous year (1864) and it had survived the winter well and was beginning to produce grapes.

Economics and business classes can learn more about Idaho’s fruitful future. says that the Idaho wine industry has been a steadily growing community for the last 30 years with remarkable growth in the past decade. With 11 wineries in 2002, Idaho is now home to more than 50, with over 1,200 acres of grapes planted. In order to see the impact Idaho wine industry is having, the Idaho Wine Commission completed an Economic Impact Study in 2014. The results were startling. It was concluded that the Idaho wine industry had a $169.3 million dollar impact in 2013 and created nearly 1,250 jobs. This growth led to an increase in visibility, more tourism, an enhanced reputation, and has created tremendous opportunity for expansion. (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)

Low broadband usage by schools across state (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Moscow News)
Batt, Andrus blast Otter's DIE agreement (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Asotin Sheriff deputizes police at Clarkston (Lewiston Tribune)
Should farmer get more water to grow organic? (Moscow News)
Canyon P&Z struggles over ethanol plant (Nampa Press Tribune)
Movement launches to save Pocatello post center (Pocatello Journal)
Conflicting ed budgets from Otter, Ybarra (TF Times News)

Springfield mill, razed in July, to be rebuilt (Eugene Register Guard)
ACLU spreads police-encounter app (Eugene Register Guard)
Giving high schoolers college credit explored (KF Herald & News)
Brammo Inc of Talent sold to Polaris Industries (Medford Tribune)
Blue Mountain College looks at free college plan (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hermiston reports lower crime rate (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland will defer now to state road budgeting (Portland Oregonian)
Federal timber payments to counties cut (Salem Statesman Journal)

No sponsors found for football ferry (Bremerton Sun)
Gun rights supporters protest in Olympia (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun)
Flu kills five people in Snohomish (Everett Herald)
Businesses benefiting from low gas prices (Longview News)
Liquor board pays $192k to critic to file no more (Longview News)
Does McCleary ruling cover higher ed too? (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Nippon Paper and Louisiana firm sue over plant (Port Angeles News)
Outlining what's next for Bertha (Seattle Times)
Limited use of broadband in Idaho schools (Spokane Spokesman)
Bill addressing oil train safety (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima considers rough intersection (Yakima Herald Republic)

A different SOS

idaho RANDY

State of the State addresses, in almost any state, usually follow a standard pattern. They start by recounting some of the challenges and advances faced by the jurisdiction, move on through one topic area after another, often somewhere around a half dozen, offering suggestions here and there, and wrapping up with a story or a few lines meant to be uplifting.

The SOS speeches in Washington and Idaho followed the usual pattern.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s combination inaugural-state of the state (much of which appears later in this edition), did not. Except for the last uplifting piece, it threw out the template entirely.
Instead, he focused on one bigger-picture topic: How community is undermined by inequality. There were no budget figures. There were no legislative proposals.

At least not specifically. The autobiographical elements in it seemed there to form a frame more than anything else; this wasn’t a meander through memories. (He only addressed two discrete aspects of his life, and with a glancing nod to some of the more recent headlines from last year.) His point was larger than Oregon but he kept coming back to, referring to, Oregon as he talked. As unconventional as it was, Kitzhaber clearly meant this as a state of the state speech, but one to be used in an unusual way.

The governor has legislative proposals, and a budget, coming, but in truth he didn’t need a speech to introduce those; most probably are already either in public conversation or can be reasonably guessed at. The point of this speech seemed to be its prospective use as a lodestar, as a direction he thought the legislature should take, a rough test against which legislation ought to be considered (not least, presumably, when it hits his desk).

It was meant to chart a direction, which is what state of states are intended to do.

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)

West Ada schools try for $96m school bond (Boise Statesman)
'Add the Words' legislation introduced (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
State advises schools to seek fed help on broadband (Lewiston Tribune)
CWI expansion in Otter budget plans (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell urban renewal considers housing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bell Marsh Creek Road closed by county (Pocatello Journal)
Small earthquakes around Challis and Montpelier (Pocatello Journal)
Planning underway for 2 TF elementary schools (TF Times News)

Columbia Bank corporate branding may be rejected by city (Astorian)
1st voter-elected Warrenton mayor takes office (Astorian)
Eugene fines for Uber ride now top $118k (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene considers new taxes for library (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath development code under review (KF Herald & News)
Survey finds new kindergartners less prepared (Medford Tribune)
More police action with Aryan gang (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Local legislators go to work on budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Legislators will consider a bunch of pot bills (Portland Oregonian)

Scrambling for Seattle football game ferry (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee goes after WA's high property crime rate (Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Longview News)
Everett port in heavy-cargo upgrade (Everett Herald)
Liquor board may change rules on city alchol impact areas (Olympian)
Casinos on Peninsula untroubled by new state rules (Port Angeles News)
More illegal homeless camping seen around region (Seattle Times)
King County changes drug use in allergic reactions (Seattle Times)
Complaints about delays at ports rise (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane gun club loses tax benefits (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma group dislikes Pierce County office plan (Tacoma News Tribune)
Inslee could fill South Prairie city council seat (Tacoma News Tribune)
Herrera Beutler counter Clark censure move (Vancouver Columbian)
Judge rules that dairy polluted groundwater (Yakima Herald Republic)

Was Huntsman behind Deep Throat?

carlson CHRIS


Jon Huntsman, Senior, has published an autobiography covering his fascinating life, his endowment of the Huntsman Cancer Research Institute attached to the University of Utah's hospital, and numerous other charitable undertakings. Entitled Barefoot to Billionaire, it was written with the assistance of Jay Shelledy, the former editor of the Salt Lake Tribune and publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Shelledy also assisted Huntsman in writing his best-selling book, Winners Never Cheat, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  Huntsman is a graduate of Penn's famed Wharton School of Finance.

While initial sales are brisk, Shelledy reports, it has yet to be reviewed in either the New York Times Sunday book section, or the Washington Post’s, or the Los Angeles Times. That’s a real shame and the oversight will hopefully be corrected.

Why? If for no other reason alone the book is worth the time and the money because of some new insights into the Watergate scandal which brought down the administration of President Richard Nixon. As very few folks know, but many will find more than interesting, the father of Utah's one-time governor, Jon Huntsman, Jr., was once a Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon for secretarial matters.

What that means is that for slightly more than a year every piece of paper that went into and came out of the Oval office crossed Huntsman desk in the White House. It was quite a perch from which to watch the comings and goings in the “under siege” Oval Office.

Huntsman left before the proverbial horse pucky hit the fan, but nonetheless was interviewed and told he might be subpoenaed to testify before North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin's Senate Committee investigating Watergate.  Old Sam wanted to know what Young Jon knew and when he knew it.  Huntsman convinced the committee counsels he knew nothing prior to Watergate hitting the paper. Hence, he was never indicted or charged. He was just about the only higher up in the White House NOT charged or indicted.

Reading the passages in the book one wonders though if Huntsman didn't know more than he is letting on.  It is the way he words things that starts one wondering.  Add that to the fact that the "Deep Throat" identified by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward was Mark Felt, the number two person at the FBI. Felt, however, has to have had source within the inner Nixon circle that was providing the damning information.

At about this same time period, muck-raking syndicated columnist Jack Anderson also started reporting on information regarding Watergate that was leaked to him. Throw into this stew one other important factoid: all three (Huntsman, Anderson and Felt) were members in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and all three attended the same LDS ward in the D.C. area.

Mere coincidence? Perhaps, but one rule in politics is there are no coincidences. (more…)