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Posts published in “Day: February 3, 2015”

A case of flung mud

carlson CHRIS


The recent settlement of a malpractice lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Spokane against its long-time outside counsel should be viewed as another example of a bishop who, while professing to reflect the new direction set by Pope Francis, does not by his actions truly walk the talk.

The Spokane Catholic diocese, while under the leadership of Bishop Blasé Cupich - now archbishop in Chicago - spent two-and-one-half years, and who knows how many wasted dollars, because he was, according to the deposition of former vicar general Father Steven Dublinski, "throwing mud at Paine-Hamblen to see if any mud sticks."

Dublinski resigned over his differences with Cupich.
But the settlement announced January 22 leaves no other conclusion than none of the "mud" stuck.

Cupich, who denies making the mud-on-the-wall comment, was trying to explain his lawsuit against the diocese' long-time outside counsel, Paine Hamblen, which served the diocese for many years. Shortly after arriving in Spokane, Cupich says he asked for a review of the firm's work regarding a diocese bankruptcy filing. In particular, Cupich thought the settlement did not fully anticipate future claims from those abused by diocese priests. The potential consequence would be insufficient funds to handle new cases.

The malpractice suit might have concluded with a pre-trial settlement or a jury award of damages to the diocese.

Everybody knows lawyers are covered by malpractice insurance, so the individuals in the firm would not pay personally. Reputations, though, are priceless, and the lawsuit put that of the partners at Paine Hamblen at risk.

Whatever the archbishop believed, it is up to individual members of the laity, as well the diocese' priests and nuns, to decide whether he was sincere or insincere. The settlement, the actual terms of which have not been disclosed, would appear to be a complete vindication for of the law firm.

One cannot help thinking that if more Catholic bishops across the country would truly take a cue from Pope Francis and follow his lead, walk the talk, act with humanity, humility and with a dose of common sense, the Catholic Church would be in much better standing.

Another example of this need to use common sense and act humanely towards all is the behavior of the bishop of the Fort Wayne/Indianapolis diocese. Two years ago, he fired a married, veteran Catholic teacher in the diocesan high school for violating the morals clause of her contract. Her sin? (more…)

Data monster

ridenbaugh Northwest

From a guest opinion by Levi B Cavener. Cavener is a special education teacher in Caldwell. He also manages the blog where a larger version of this piece, including hyperlinks to primary sources, is available.

Recently, Roger Quarles, executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and former chief deputy on Tom Luna’s staff, announced that the Albertson Foundation would change course in its philanthropic giving, moving away from public schools and focusing new dollars on community based projects.

The reason for the alleged shift seems to be due to an underlying frustration that teachers and schools just weren’t adopting Albertson-fueled “innovation” quick enough. In a recent Boise State Public Radio interview Quarles voiced his frustration regarding the lack of Idaho schools to adopt Albertson initiatives, “You have to look at that and go ‘fundamentally there’s some problems within that system.’”

Let me be clear: Albertson has done some terrific work in supplying schools and students with funds to pilot classroom technology, curriculum, and emerging instructional methods. However, let me also point out that Albertson and Quarles have been equally complicit in building those exact same “fundamental problems.” For example, take Idaho’s longitudinal cradle to cadaver data tracking system: Idaho System of Educational Excellence (ISEE) and its companion, Schoolnet.

ISEE/Schoolnet was developed to uniformly track student and teacher data across the state. Unfortunately, millions of dollars and years later – and funded by both Idaho and the Albertson Foundation – ISEE/Schoolnet, like Victor Frankenstein’s monster, is still lying on the table waiting to be shocked into life. ISEE/Schoolnet has been such a colossal failure that in 2014 Idaho paid school districts to fund whatever system they preferred.

Schoolnet was so dysfunctional that Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, inquired at a 2013 legislative committee meeting, “Is [Schoolnet] working anywhere, for any purpose, to improve education?” The answer? No. In addition, as reported in both the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Ed News, when the data finally made it into teachers’ hands, it often wasn’t accurate.

Said one U.S. Dept. of Education federal grant reviewer of Idaho’s original ISEE/Schoolnet plan, “Idaho could benefit from examining the successful models of several states and hiring a professional grant writer and some technical experts….” While such feedback should have initially tapped the brakes on the project, Idaho and the Albertson Foundation pushed the gas to the floor, with Albertson promising a $21 million dollar grant.

Which is where Mr. Quarles fits in. When the Legislature caught whiff of the project’s total ineptitude, Supt. Luna dispatched then-Chief Deputy Quarles to clean up the mess. It didn’t go well. Despite some “software CPR,” districts across the state jumped ship and started again using a hodgepodge of independent data systems. (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)

Guns on campus costs universities $3.7m (Boise Statesman)
PUC Commissioner Martha Smith will depart (Boise Statesman)
Homeless census underway (Lewiston Tribune)
WA legislature looks at abortion notification (Lewiston Tribune)
WA might spread pot revenues to cities (Moscow News)
Moscow will survey residents on utilities (Moscow News)
Nampa council halts its streets proposal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Senate panel approves oil and gas proposal (Nampa Press Trbune)
Gaps in child mental health help decried (TF Times News)
Variety of bills moving in Senate Judiciary (TF Times News)

UO ponders what to do about Howe's field gates (Eugene Register Guard)
Democrats plan policy for legislative action (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
Strippers organizing to improve work conditions (Eugene Register Guard)
Snowpack low, despite good rain (KF Herald & News)
Klamath drought troubles still in search of solution (KF Herald & News)
Who compensates, and how much, when wolves kill? (Medford Tribune)
Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe plans 93 worker layoffs (Medford Tribune)
Medford looks to ban styrofoam (Medford Tribune)
Low carbon bill progresses, over GOP complaints (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Plans call for thinning some area forests (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Democrats move for broader motor voter law (Portland Oregonian)
Hillsboro looks at street fee plan (Portland Oregonian)
Ruling says cake refusal was discrimination (Portland Oregonian)
Public hearing on pot rules draws hundreds (Salem Statesman Journal)

Snohomish courthouse prospects pricy (Everett Herald)
State considers tolling on I-405 (Everett Herald)
Budget proposal for Hanford hits $2.3b (Kennewick Herald)
Support grows for banning studded tires (Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
Cowlitz United Way says no funds were stolen (Longview News)
Strippers in Oregon orgazize for better work conditions (Longview News)
Legislature considers pot revenue for cities (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Business owners seek help on burglaries (Port Angeles News)
Many foster parents decline flu shots (Seattle Times)
Pierce courthouse price could top $127m (Tacoma News Tribune)
EPA has issues with operation at Point Ruston (Tacoma News Tribune)
Increase speed to 75mpg on rural I-90? (Yakima Herald Republic)