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Posts published in January 2015

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)

Goedde asked to help with school broadband issues (Boise Statesman)
Raybould takes over as resources chair (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Most of Idaho's statewides sworn in Monday (Boise Statesman)
Attempt to block dredging on lower Snake rejected (Lewiston Tribune)
Heavy storming in western Washington (Lewiston Tribune)
New Moscow council member sworn in (Moscow News)
Designer picked for Midway Park sports complex (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pine Ridge Mall loses three retail tenants (Pocatello Journal)
State proposes 3% pay raises for state workers (TF Times News)
TF power outage hits hospital (TF Times News)

City councils reschedule over UO national game (Eugene Register Guard)
New Klamath Co officials sworn in (KF Herald & News)
Klamath air quality in recent decline (KF Herald & News)
Mt Ashland ski area closes over lack of snow (Medford Tribune)
Army may want to keep chemical depot property (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pilot Rock police chief resigns (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fritz reejcts proposed Portland transportation fee (Portland Oregonian)
State might allow industrial hemp planting (Portland Oregonian)
Salem reviews health of its older white oaks (Salem Statesman Journal)

USS Nimitz arrives for 16-month stay (Bremerton Sun)
Historic ship Kalakala will be scrapped (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Bremerton Sun, Port Angeles News)
Heavy rains in western Washington (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Young Washington voters didn't vote (Longview News)
Council member Selby runs for Olympia mayor (Olympian)
Only modest tax revenue from pot so far (Port Angeles News)
New city immigration law leads to council protest (Spokane Spokesman)
Battle over running US 95 on Paradise Ridge (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark College student cite parking problems (Vancouver Columbian)

Who would be #2?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Alright, political sports fans; since Lt. Governor Brad Little opened this parlor game of “What If . . .” by talking with the Spokesman Review’s Boise correspondent, Betsy Russell, a bit too candidly about how well prepared he is to step up, lets take the game a bit further.

Let’s play who would be Brad’s choice to be his number two? After all, it is possible that Governor Otter could step down mid-way through his third term to give Brad a running start. If he does, Brad can select his own number two subject only to State Senate confirmation

It’s hard to imagine any governor voluntarily quitting two years ahead of time. Has it happened? Sure, but not in Idaho. If Republicans recapture the presidency in 2016, and Butch is asked by the third Bush president to serve in his cabinet, Butch could not say no (David Leroy, the Bush family’s “man on the scene” would have to also bless).

So Brad, could, like John Evans before him, become Governor without having to step on lots of toes. And, heaven forbid, Otter could die in office, and Brad could ascend by that route.

Now the fun begins. There’d be lots of rhetoric about politics having nothing to do with it, that Brad is simply seeking the best person. Pure poppycock. Politics will have everything to do with it and you can bet Brad will have a poll to help him decide.

Allow me to help, Governor Little, and . toss out a few names that should be on your list:

#1. State Senator Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint). The well-liked executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho, was just elected to her tenth term. She’s overcome two vicious Tea Party challenges and is a moderate, pro-education Republican. She is co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Appropriation committtee.

Senator Keough knows the budget and is more than qualified. And it appears she is the best chance for a woman to break the glass ceiling in Idaho bystepping up from lieutenant governor should Brad also be asked to serve in a Republican Administration.

#2. House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Has done a solid job as Speaker and has adroitly handled the Tea Party types. Smart, does his homework and knows how to lead. Only drawback is he and Brad are a lot alike.

#3. State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls). Smart, tough, caring, a true “compassionate conservative” who could handle any challenge he faces. His and his wife’s appearing before the Idaho Parole Board to speak on behalf of parole for the man who had murdered their son because they were convinced there was true remorse will always stand out as an incredible act reflecting their deeply held faith. (more…)

In the Briefings

Schweitzer
 
On Schweitzer Mountain, near Sandpoint, on January 1. It is one of the ski areas open around Idaho. (photo/Schweitzer Mountain Resort)

 

You may notice a few changes, mostly small but some larger, in this edition of the Briefing, the first of 2015. Some of the type fonts have changed (to a new one called “Droid,” which was specially designed to be easily read on electronic documents), and we are developing a few new small features. More will emerge in the next few weeks. The old familiars from last year will, of course, be back.

For Washington and Idaho, next week's editions will likely be legislature-heavy, as those states' lawmakers come into session. (Oregon is next month.)

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)

Committee chairs who work with leadership (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
In post-Coldwater Sandpoint, entrepreneurs busy (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
In Washington, more thinning of forests is planned (Moscow News)
Gas prices dropping fast, lowest since 2009 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Times News looks at most influential in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

New effort for Lane courthouse gathers force (Eugene Register Guard)
Mass of graffiti cases in Medford (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing pot lessons to be learned from WA and CO (Portland Oregonian)
Concerns new rules make day care took expensive (Portland Oregonian)
Marion cracks down on e-cigarettes (Salem Statesman Journal)
Wyden, residents talk trade at Salem town hall (Salem Statesman Journal)

More power lines underground in new construction (Bremerton Sun)
Rail bridge may be replaced by BNSF at Everett (Everett Herald)
Flood warning for Longview area (Longview News)
Murray moves to ranking spot on HEW panel (Longview News)
Initiative on class size battles with budget (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Reviewing legal pot a couple of years on (Port Angeles News)
Haiti economy still in trouble (Seattle Times)
Spokane police ombudsman retiring (Spokane Spokesman)
First first snow of season in inland regions (Spokane Spokesman)
State looking to thin forests as fire retardant (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver cracking down on tree replacement rules (Vancouver Columbian)

The hated aren’t the cops

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I don’t know anyone who “hates” cops. No one. Oh, I’m sure there are some criminals, psycho’s and maybe a few ex-spouses who harbor some bad feelings. But “cop hating” by the general public? I don’t know ‘em.

So this begs the question: Why is so much of today’s media chock full of ‘stories’ of police hatred? Where’s it coming from?

Seems to me there are two sources - or maybe “suspects.” First, many in the New York City and national media - including the usual hate voices - who’ve either become very sloppy in their “reporting” or have deliberately perverted what the original street protests were about.

In some media, the words have become a sort of shorthand when reporting interactions between officers and citizens - especially citizens in large groups like a protest march. Scan the headlines of major newspapers. Read the “crawl” lines below TV talking heads. The words “cops” and “hate” appear a lot. Listen to Beck, Coulter and the other professional political perverts dropping them into their verbal garbage.

Months ago, when all this street marching started, it had nothing to do with “cops.” It was an expression of outrage at a local Missouri system of justice that seemed blind to justice - a grand jury had been force fed deliberately misleading information by a prosecutor with his own agenda. A small town tragedy became a national disgrace when local authorities reacted badly and confronted legal demonstrators with a display of military force. The original message of distrust of a system turned to outrage at the city’s terrible judgement and irresponsible actions. But not cop hatred.

As the number of demonstrations increased across the country, the basic message was still the same: distrust of a system that didn’t provide equal treatment for all. Distrust of the system. Not cop hatred. Yes, there were agitators who took advantage of the situation to loot and steal. But the overwhelming numbers of demonstrators were orderly and, for the most part, responsive to local authorities. No cop hatred.

The second suspect? If I had to pick a moment in time when the “cop hatred” words entered the larger, national picture it would be about the moment a police union boss - running for his own re-election - charged the New York City Mayor with attacks on the city force. Charges even the police commissioner refuted.

While NYC politics have always been rough-and-tumble, this voice was unnecessarily shrill, incredibly ill-timed and stupid. As his caustic words tumbled out of HDTV’s across the country, those not accustomed to New York political “discourse” heard something new. Cops, we were told, were “pushing back” on a city official who had “betrayed” them. He hadn’t. But the latent anger of a few, who’re always there, was suddenly taken as the voice of the “majority” of the city’s 35,000 officers. It wasn’t. But it seemed so. And since then, too many NYC cops have been acting like spoiled children.

From that point - and reinforced many, many times since nationally - we’ve heard the words “cops” and “hatred” joined. The original - and seemingly justified - reasons for people in the streets disappeared from the story. Then, with the coincidental assassination of two NYC officers by a deranged loner, the “us-versus-them” embers blew up to become a full-scale distortion. A couple of other disconnected cop killings across the country got thrown into the mix, talk show haters grabbed hold, headlines turned to cop killings and the original messages which began in Ferguson, MO, all but disappeared.

The brutal fact is police officers have been getting killed in-the-line-of-duty since biblical times. It’s a risk that goes with the job. But so is this: most officers have served a full career to retirement without ever having fired their sidearm in anger. Good men. Good women. When faced with danger, they used their heads instead of their weapons. Not always possible but more often than not, it was. And it worked.

Nobody is well-served with all this “cop hatred” B.S.. It’s divisive, cruel, untrue and avoids the real issues of why people are in the streets. The NYC police union loudmouth getting too much attention is trying to feather his own re-election nest and is using a minority of badge-wearing miscreants to prop up his personal goal. Interesting that leaders of the other four NYC police unions are either keeping their silence or using much less inflammatory rhetoric. (more…)

How ambitious in 2015?

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

There’s a call among Democrats – some Democrats at least – to go bold in the 2015 legislative session. Part of the argument comes to this: Democrats in Oregon advanced even under the worst national conditions (or, in the case of Governor John Kitzhaber the worst thinkable PR conditions), which suggests they should be solid for 2016.

Or, as Kari Chisholm suggested on Blue Oregon, “In 2016, we can expect Democrats to expand those majorities even further. After all, it will be a presidential year, and Oregon Democrats almost always gain legislative seats in presidential years.”

Further expansion in 2016 is a debatable proposition: There don’t seem to be a lot of legislative seats left that are held by Republicans where Democrats ought to have an edge. Still, Democrats have little reason for great worry, as matters sit, looking ahead to 2016 in the legislative arena.

So what might be done in the coming session? Chisholm, and some commenters, have a string of ideas, from increasing the minimum wage (now second highest in the nation), doing something on gun safety (maybe with an eye to developments in Washington state), moving ahead on GMO labeling (there’d be a big legislative fight), add more funding for schools and infrastructure, dealing with immigration, work on insurance and health care (adding more provisions intended to protect consumers), and reform tax policy (a phrase that could face in any number of different directions).

Being activist isn’t necessarily the same as using political capital. Some of these subjects won’t necessarily yield much controversy, or put Democrats serious on the spot. One of their tasks between here and the session’s start in another month, inevitably, will involving sorting the one groups of initiatives from the other.

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)

Series on legislative committee chairs (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Candidates for Boise school board opening on issues (Boise Stateman)
Challis gets a moderate earthquake, no damage (Boise Statesman)
Canyon County looks at the coming of drones (Nampa Press Tribune)
Karcher Mall deals with empty spaces (Nampa Press Tribune)
Increase in dogs left out in cold (Pocatello Journal)
Considering legislative agenda ahead (TF Times News)

Electric car charging network little used (Eugene Register Guard)
Reopening of Harriman Springs resort underway (KF Herald and News)
Looking at changes for recharging reservoirs (Medford Tribune)
Central eastside industrial area faces change (Portland Oregonian)
Prisons move to electronic medical records (Salem Statesman Journal)
Legislators predicting kicker, school debating (Salem Statesman Journal)

Profiling new Kitsap auditor (Bremerton Sun)
New Paine Field director profiled (Everett Herald)
Long-time Kelso Presbyterian, Methodist churches merge (Longview News)
Former Dupont police chief says city broke contract (Olympian)
Department of Natural Resources plans wildfire mitigation (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Legal battle over Dungeness Valley water rule (Port Angeles News)
Politicians scramble over Bertha's troubles (Seattle Times)
Looking at limited progress in Haiti (Seattle Times)
What's replacing Sandwater Creek in Sandpoint (Spokane Spokesman)
Marijuana marketplace begins to normalize (Vancouver Columbian)
Bridge span worries ahead (Vancouver Columbian)

A Dixie invocation

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

I was born in Dixie, meaning the old Confederacy, an hour away from its capitol, and probably – since the occasion was in December – on a frosty morning as well. And long ago enough that in public schools there, we read in the school history books how slaves in the south were mostly well treated, and we sang “Dixie,” though we were never told that the narrator in the song is a former slave, living in the north, who pines to return to his plantation down South.

This was all deeply woven into the local history and culture. Idaho was not much part of the Civil War. Many of its early miners were southerners, but Idaho never was a slave territory. By the time substantial number of settlers arrived slavery was legally banned,and by the time of statehood most Idahoans had come from pro-Union areas like the midwest and northeast. So what would “Dixie” mean to Idaho? What does it mean today?

Those questions matter in the Idaho Court of Appeals case of Idaho v. James D. Kirk aka Snoop. As the alias may lead you to guess, Kirk is black. In August 2012, prosecutors said, he was in Nampa when he encountered four girls (who were white) under age 18, invited them into his motel room, and sexual activity occurred. Kirk admitted to all but the last part, but physical evidence of a sexual encounter was found. Kirk was convicted of two charges (lewd conduct with a minor under 16 and sexual battery of a minor 16 to 17 years of age). His appeal centered not on the evidence but on what the prosecutor said in her rebuttal closing argument:

“Ladies and gentlemen, when I was a kid we used to like to sing songs a lot. I always think of this one song. Some people know it. It’s the Dixie song. Right? Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton. Good times not forgotten. Look away. Look away. Look away. And isn’t that really what you’ve kind of been asked to do? Look away from the two eyewitnesses. Look away from the two victims. Look away from the nurse in her medical opinion. Look away. Look away. Look away.”

Many are the ways a prosecutor could argue that the defense is trying to persuade a jury to ignore the evidence. This one invoked the unofficial song of the Confederacy, in a case involving a black man charged with having illicit sex with white girls. She had to have known the implications of doing that are loaded.

As the Court of Appeals parsed the argument: “nothing in the record suggests that the jurors harbored any racial prejudice or that they were actually influenced by the prosecutor’s recitation of “Dixie,” but the risk of prejudice to a defendant is magnified where the case is as sensitive as this one, involving alleged sexual molestation of minors. In this circumstance, both the constitutional obligation to provide criminal defendants a fundamentally fair trial and the interest of maintaining public confidence in the integrity of judicial proceedings weigh against imposing a stringent standard for a defendant’s demonstration that the error was harmful.”

The case was bumped back downstairs; Kirk will be given a new trial.

Why would a prosecutor in Idaho seize on “Dixie” as a foundational metaphor in a case like this? It hardly seems like a random choice. One thought process that comes to mind goes something like this: Idahoans increasingly are identifying themselves with Dixie, with the states of the old South, not just politically but in other ways as well, and that would be a way to align the prosecution with the people in the jury. (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)

Maximus will lay off 1500 at Boise call center (Boise Statesman)
Uber still in conflict with Boise over regulations (Boise Statesman)
New secretary Denney looks ahead (Boise Statesman)
Idaho gay marriage issues appealed to Supreme Court (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Medical pot creates issues for recreational (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Colfax seeking $7m for bridge replacement (Moscow News)
Legislators looking into state employee pay (Nampa Press Tribune)

Ban on woodstove burning at Lane Co continues (Eugene Register Guard)
Legal pot brings only modest tax revenue (Eugene Register Guard)
Drought eased by rain in Klamath area (KF Herald & News)
Medical pot creates issues for recreational (Medford Tribune)
BLM and others seek transmission line views (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing Oregon weather in 2014 (Salem Statesman Journal)

Looking back on legal pot after a year (Olympian, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
KapStone labor talks will begin again (Longview News)
Woodland may ban somme pot gardens (Longview News)
Big storms coming in (Seattle Times)
Spokane plans East Sprague prostitution crackdown (Spokane Spokesman)

A high-stakes testing crisis

strickland MICHAEL
STRICKLAND

 
Literacy

The need to "raise standards" and insist on "high expectations" for all schools and students is clear and obvious. But unfortunately, in practice, these fine ideas are often reduced to crude slogans: "Test scores are too low. Make them go up." As Alfie Kohn said in his Boston Globe column: Poor Teaching for Poor Students, "the implications are ominous for all students because standardized tests tend to measure the temporary acquisition of facts and skills, including the skill of test-taking itself, rather than meaningful understanding."

Today's crisis in Idaho education has been caused by an amalgamation of high stakes testing, accountability, markets and privatization tied to the Common Core. I generally support the standards, which are designed to ensure that when Idaho students graduate from high school, they will be competitive at the state and national levels and be able to create the futures of their choice. But in Idaho, there appears to be some gaps in some of the goals from grade to grade. And we are over-testing our children at the expense of best practices for teaching and learning. These problems are exascerbated by the new eight-hour Common Core test: the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

“Our students are the most over-tested in the world,” writes education historian Dr. Diane Ravitch. “No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools.”

It is a bad idea to tie test numbers to teacher pay. To raise scores on a standardized test, when those numbers determine whether a student will receive a diploma and how much teachers will earn, is fundamentally destructive to schools and communities.  Educators often feel compelled to put test preparation ahead of richer forms of teaching.  In years of research that I conducted with my mother, Dorothy Strickland of Rutgers University, we found that this more likely to happen in schools with higher percentages of minority students. Skills-based instruction, the type to which most children of color are subjected, tends to foster low-level uniformity and subvert academic potential. This has stark implications for Idaho's large and rapidly growing Hispanic population.

In November of 2013, I wrote about the fact that Hispanic enrollment growth is outpacing non-Hispanic growth in Idaho’s public schools, colleges and universities. From 2000 to 2011 there was a 75 percent increase in enrollment of Hispanic students in K-12 schools, compared to an increase of 8 percent in non-Hispanic student enrollment. Hispanic student enrollment in four-year universities increased 118 percent, while non-Hispanic student enrollment increased 9 percent. Hispanic students make up 16 percent of K-12 public school enrollment.

Hispanic parents of 10th-graders are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic parents to say they wish they had more time to be involved in their child’s education — 48 percent of Hispanic parents versus 19 percent of non-Hispanic parents. However, Hispanic parents are much more likely than non-Hispanic parents to say they lack the knowledge to help with math and science homework — 51 percent versus 26 percent for math, and 44 percent versus 13 percent for science.

Idaho educators should make use of multiple measures of assessment for important educational decisions and recommendations. These can include formative assessments: Assessment for learning, not assessment of learning. Interviews, visits, observations, peer-reviews, self-evaluations -- as well as end of course evaluations tied to the actual courses -- are examples of alternatives to the high stakes model that sets up schools and students to be labelled as failures.

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)

What will happen to central addition near downtown? (Boise Statesman)
Wolf derby will get underway (Moscow News)
In-migration raises population in Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune)
Looking at how Treasure Valley inversion happens (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bannock County cut off electronically via glitch (Pocatello Journal)

Lawsuit seeking school email adds Register-Guard (Eugene Register Guard)
UO Ducks head to national championship (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal)
Lane air minotrs ban wood stove use in 3 cities (Eugene Register Guard)
Rogue Valley economy recovering, slower than to north (Medford Tribune)
State ag director talks about GMO debate (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton tourism will see new push in 2015 (Pendleton E Oregonian)

Bainbridge Park will change over habitat issues (Bremerton Sun)
Retirement home sees requirements from staste dropped (Bremerton Sun)
Stanwood considers moving its city hall (Everett Herald)
US only heavy icebreaker heads from Seattle to Antarctica (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)

Ridenbaugh’s top sellers of 2014

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

2014 was another busy book year at Ridenbaugh Press, maybe our busiest so far as the number of our available books reaches upward to 30 - and a significant number added this year. (We'll have another major release to announce next week.)

Our books this year ranged from our standby of regional references to personal memoirs and books ranging farther afield, to such subjects as Vietnam and motherhood. Here's a look at some of our top sellers over the year.

ridenbaugh

1 - One Flaming Hour, by Mike Blackbird. This is a compelling personal memoir about the author's brother, Jerry, a Vietnam war vet who fell into depression before finding usefulness and meaning in public service in his home community in Idaho's Silver Valley. Jerry Blackbird died young in a helicopter crash after having served just one session in the state Senate, but he made a powerful impression on the people who knew him, and wound up walking in his footsteps. Chris Carlson, whose Medimont Reflections was last year's RP best seller, described One Flaming Hour as ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good."

2 - Through the Waters, an oral history edited by Randy Stapilus and the Idaho State Bar. One of the big Idaho news stories of 2014 was the completion of the massive Snake River Basin Adjudication. This book, an oral history featuring the recollections of about three dozen major participants in the SRBA, was released at the August conclusion of the adjudication.

3 - Without Compromise, by Kelly Kast. 2014 marked the 75th anniversary of the Idaho State Police, and Kelly Kast did its history proud with this thoroughly researched story of the force, from its early days barely able to move around the state, to the achievements and controversies of modern times. It’s lively and informative. Our third best seller last year, it has continued selling all through 2014.

4 - Diamondfield: Finding the Real Jack Davis, by Max Black. Our second-best seller of 2013 continued strong this year, and for good reason: It is one of the most remarkable Idaho history books of recent years. Black not only researched what has been written before about the infamous Diamondfield Jack murder case, he found new troves of files and written records never touched by previous historians, and even found the (previously uncertain) spot where the event occurred, and a gun and buried bullet missing for more than a century. It’s a great read as history and as detective story.

5 - Drafted!, by David Frazier. Known in Idaho as a leading photojournalist and as editor of the cantankerous blog Boise Guardian, Frazier here tells his personal story of going to Vietnam in the Army in the sixties, and then decades later returning and seeing it with fresh eyes. And with his camera at the ready, of course. Released in December.