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Posts published in February 2015

Unfinished business for Alaska tribes

trahant MARK


Do Alaska Native tribes posses sovereignty?

A simple question. And, in Indian Country, the answer is usually a quick “yes.” Of course. But in Alaska just asking this question is an act of defiance. The state and many of its citizens have assumed, planned, and operated on the premise that tribal powers no longer exist, so the state is free to impose its will on Alaska Natives.

A simple question that’s framed by dueling narratives. One story says the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act — ANCSA — was a termination bill that should have extinguished tribal sovereignty. The other counters saying ANCSA was primarily a land settlement. A land bill that did create native corporations but did not answer questions about governance.

A simple question with multiple answers. Alaska, however, has stuck to a refusal to recognize tribal authority and has spent millions of dollars on litigation. In one such case, a federal court recognized tribal communities’ authority to put land into trust, removing lands from state control and a recognition of Indian Country (a status similar to reservations in other states). Alaska appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Then in November a new governor was elected. Bill Walker, an independent, and he promised a new way of doing business. A Walker transition team report said: “Where no tools exist, they must be created, such as establishing a mechanism (e.g., legislation, constitutional amendment, etc.) where Alaska tribes – as sovereign nations they are – negotiate and partner with the state of Alaska on an officially recognized, permanent government-to -government basis.”

But on Feb. 9, the state of Alaska fell into its old patterns. It asked the appeals for a six-month stay to rethink its policy followed by some sort of status report. The state said: “The central issue in this appeal is purely legal: whether the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act precludes the creation of new trust land in Alaska. However the decision whether to continue to pursue a judicial remedy, seek congressional action, or determine and implementing strategies for integrating trust land into Alaska’s ownership pattern — with the resulting impacts to state regulatory jurisdiction — are policy matters entrusted to a state administration that was inaugurated only a few weeks ago. As the state’s chief executive, the governor has the authority and obligation to frame state policy.”

I can think of a lot of governors who like the notion of absolute state authority, especially when it conflicts with tribal communities. But the hashtag would read: #NeverGonnaHappen. Native Americans have a right, even an obligation, to govern ourselves. (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 considers creating benefit corporations (Boise Statesman)
Simpson says support grows for wilderness bill (Boise Statesman)
Esther Simplot Park project begins (Boise Statesman)
Disputes over status of juvenile corrections (Nampa Press Tribune)
Highway work bill clears Idaho House (Nampa Press Tribune)

Oregon likely will get kicker refunds (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
UO pushing to vaccinate students (Eugene Register Guard)
Tribes concerned with Sinapore land purchase (KF Herald & News)
Bureau of Reclamation accused of mismanagement (KF Herald & News)
Hearing on pot pulls about 50 locals (KF Herald & News)
Medford considers homeless 'feeding area' (Medford Tribune)
Jackson Co deputy's ticket dismissals reviewed (Medford Tribune)
Irrigon library may reopen (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Brown Administration kicks in (Portland Oregonian)
Public employee differential pay considered (Salem Statesman Journal)

Growth in Olympic park visits (Bremerton Sun)
State about to set Narrow Bridge toll raise (Bremerton Sun)
Gas prices rising, but slowly (Everett Herald)
Last Snohomish independent hospital may ally (Everett Herald)
Longview crime not greatly increasing (Longview News)
Hearing crowd concerned over Haven propane docks (Longview News)
Inslee signs first bill of session (Olympian)
Third peninsula measles case found (Port Angeles News)
Clallam economic board polls on smaller board (Port Angeles News)
Bertha drills through to repair pit (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Senate looks for new audit of WWAMI (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislator pushes bill on revenge porn (Vancouver Columbian)
How far up Columbia would tsunami push? (Vancouver Columbian)

Brown takes office

ridenbaugh Northwest

From Kate Brown's inaugural speech on February 18, after her swearing in as governor of Oregon.

It's been a tough few months. The people of Oregon have had reason to question their trust in state government. Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons.

That changes starting today. It's time for us to get back to work. It's time to move Oregon forward.

This great state is blessed with so many amazing qualities: breath-taking natural wonders, a resilient people and an unmatched quality of life. People born here want to stay here, and people are drawn here from all over the country. We are all fiercely proud to be Oregonians.

Before I sought public office, I worked as a family law advocate. There, I witnessed first-hand the problems of people whose lives were dramatically impacted by the law, but who seldom had an impact on shaping it – the child who needs a more stable home; the survivor of domestic violence;' the family struggling to make ends meet.

I carry with me their faces and stories every day when I come to work.
And throughout my 24 years in public service, I have also sought to promote transparency and trust in government, working to build confidence that our public dollars are spent wisely.

As Governor, this will not change.

I will be a Governor who wants to hear the concerns of everyday Oregonians – children and working parents, small business owners and senior citizens.

In the public dialogue about resources and priorities, they will be my central focus.

It is with everyday Oregonians in mind that I take office today with enthusiasm and purpose. The legislature is in session; the budget has been submitted and more than 1,700 bills have been filed. Speaker Kotek, President Courtney, members of the legislature, on behalf of all Oregonians, thank you for your dedication and perseverance throughout this recent ordeal.

There is a great deal of work ahead of us, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it. (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)

Ada County upgrades election system (Boise Statesman)
Air Force secretary arrives in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
New Oregon governor sworn in (Boise Statesman)
What about the old Nampa library building? (Nampa Press Tribune)
Schools preparing to go broadband-dark (Nampa Press Tribune)
Invasion of wild turkeys in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)

Brown sworn in as governor (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
More Kitzhaber emails released (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene stadium buyers have week to pay (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath college president finalist at Florida (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co opposes expanding gun checks (Medford Tribune)
Upgrades planned for Power City road area (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Per-mile road tax tried by volunteers (Pendleton E Oregonian)

West coast port slowdowns have impact (Bremerton Sun)
Legislation in House would end executions (Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun)
New Oregon governor sworn in (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News, Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish Co holds off on motocross decision (Everett Herald)
Judge says Richland flower shop discriminated (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz health care nonprofits will merge (Longview News)
Arts theatre bemoans lack of area parking (Olympian)
High emotions at fireworks ban meeting (Port Angeles News)
Port Townsend paper president retires (Port Angeles News)
Bertha moves 6 feet to repair pit (Seattle Times)
Facebook expanding to 2000 employees at Seattle (Seattle Times)
Spokane city, county battle on tax rule (Spokane Spokesman)
Toll raise on Narrow bridges nears (Tacoma News Tribune)
Wyoming might fund northwest coal port (Vancouver Columbian)
Another hearing set on 'In Gof we trust' (Vancouver Columbian)

Poetic end to a toxic relationship

strickland MICHAEL


A poetic journey through the emotions we endure at the end of a toxic relationship, Through the Trees: The poetic end to a toxic relationship uses nature and metaphor to express each stage of grief.

I first met author Nina C.Palmer at a group signing run by the Idaho Authors Community. Immediately striking was her passion for poetry and a particular cohesiveness between her presence, our chat and her work.

Each chapter of her book is a stage, each poem a part of a the journey taking you through denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance.

Written from personal experiences, it truly captures the occurrence of verbal and emotional abuse experienced in a toxic relationship. Whether your loss is a friend, husband or wife, a brother or sister, mother or father, these writings will hit home with all. A truly inspired collection of work, it relates with the heartache of the loss but also uplifts and inspires. This poetry acts as an emotional guide leading you through each stage and leaves you at the end with the courage and strength to move on.

I sat down with Nina in December at a coffee shop in Boise, to learn more about this intriguing journey. (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)

On the idea of registering violent felons (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Lawmakers approve short-term broadband funds (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Syringa assessed $100k penalty (Moscow News)
Aquatics center structural issues noted (Moscow News)
ISU president's house intensively studied (Pocatello Journal)
Eminent domain limitations bill moves ahead (Pocatello Journal)

UO student dies possibly of contagion (Eugene Register Guard)
Brown prepares for swearing in (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
UO sues over benefits for coaches (Eugene Register Guard)
Birding festival spots unusual species numbers (KF Herald & News)
I-5 welcome center planned at Ashland (Medford Tribune)
Salem may tighten measles vaccine rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton council reviews pot dispensaries (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Outdoor pot growers want ban on hemp (Portland Oregonian)

Navy won't privatize fuel depot (Bremerton Sun)
Kilmer pushes for aid to area schools (Bremerton Sun)
Car registration costs rise at Everett (Everett Herald)
Debate rises over commercial flights at Paine (Everett Herald)
McCleary school spending could hit $6b (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Klickitat PUD seeks $2.5 power storage system (Longview News)
Washington may end vaccine exemption (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Presidential primary plan pushed by Wyman (Olympian)
No more measles cases (Port Angeles News)
300 schools can't find vaccine data (Seattle Times)
Idaho broadband proposal is dead (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce council approves new county building (Tacoma News Tribune)
Commerce secretary visits Tacoma on trade (Tacoma News Tribune)
District voting in Yakima ordered by court (Yakima Herald Republic)
Dairies in lower Yakima ok pollution plan (Yakima Herald Republic)

The posturing politician

carlson CHRIS


There’s something about a politician who piously postures on an issue that sticks in the craw. In a way it tells the voter the officeholder thinks a majority of the electorate is too stupid to see through the posturing and the pontificating.

Exhibit A from last week is Idaho’s First District congressman, Raul Labador. The darling of the Tea Party Republicans is more and more proving to be, like a majority of those in Congress, nothing more than a “show horse,” as opposed to his colleague, Second District congressman, Mike Simpson, a true “work horse” who does the heavy lifting that keeps Congress moving.

Labrador engaged in two activities last week which were pure posturing. The voter should be wary and take them with a grain of the proverbial salt.

First, he introduced and heavily publicized a bill he had filed which would restrict and further circumscribe the absolute power the President has under the 1907 Antiquities Act to create national monuments with the stroke of a pen. The bill is similar to one introduced in the Senate by Idaho’s two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

These bills generally require public hearings before a president could act as well as the concurrence of a state’s governor. There are two major problems with this action that confirm the “political posturing” tag.

Labrador’s ostensible goal is to preclude President Obama from using his Antiquities Act power to declare the Boulder/White Clouds area a national monument, as he is being urged to do by folks like Idaho Conservation League executive director Rick Johnson and former four-term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus.

In doing this, the congressman has with malice aforethought breached congressional protocol which states as a matter of professional courtesy one congressman does not introduce a bill in a colleague’s district having no impact in his district. It is tantamount to saying, “In your eye, Mike.” Rest assured this is duly noted by Simpson and will not be forgotten.

The second reason this is pure posturing as well as a waste of taxpayer’s money is that Labrador, as well as Crapo and Risch, know damn good and well this legislation is going nowhere. Sure, they’ll pontificate and excoriate President Obama, Governor Andrus and the ICL for imposing their will on the good citizines of central Idaho while camapigning at home during a congressional recess.

If honest with the voters, though, they would acknowledge they don’t have the votes to over-ride a presidential veto. They would also acknowledge that every president since the passage of the Act has used his authority to make and has made nationl monument declarations.

What Labrador does not want to admit is that he and his colleagues will not have the skill or the standing to get legislation passed invalidating the monument declaration by passing Simpson’s original carefully crafted bill creating a wilderness area.

The other pure political posturing by Labrador last week was the Congressman telling The Hill newspaper, the daily bible of all those who work on Capitol Hill or serve in the House, that he was NOT going to challenge three-term incumbent Mike Crapo in the 2016 Republican primary for the Senate. (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)

Road and bridge bills arrive at legislature (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Insurance exchange extended in WA (Lewiston Tribune)
Elk rule change could mean disease imports (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators urge local broadband solutions (Moscow News)
Simplot Stadium won't be in county fair (Nampa Press Tribune)

Kitzhaber and Brown out of public eye (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
I-5 viaduct at Medford studies for safety (Medford Tribune)
Area schools allow open enrollment (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla Co courthouse gun ban reviewed (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hillsboro data centers yield 1 job per 175k (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon considers stronger vaccine law (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bill would allow simple majority for bonds (Bremerton Sun)
Bill would limit Boeing tax breaks for jobs (Everett Herald)
Extension of Oso donation deadline (Everett Herald)
Interview with new Longview city manager (Longview News)
Pam Roach admonished by Lt Gov Owens (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Voters may get another vote on class size (Olympian)
Harbor Patrol ending with no funds (Olympian)
Port Angeles hospital raises measles tent (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles may ban fireworks (Port Angeles News)
Trade programs growing at N Idaho College (Spokane Spokesman)
Zoo finds places for aquarium (Tacoma News Tribune)
Few of WA mentally ill are hospitalized (Tacoma New Tribune)
Reviewing legislature's transport package (Vancouver Columbian)
Klickitat PUD plans power storage system (Yakima Herald Republic)
Insurance exchange deadline extended (Yakima Herald Republic)

Kitzhaber, from inside the statehouse

jorgensen W. SCOTT

In the Capitol

The official resignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is set to take place Wednesday morning. It comes after a series of events that have thus far completely overshadowed the 2015 legislative session.

All the signs were there before the session that the scandals involving the governor and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, were going to continue dominating the headlines statewide. A big hint that it was all about to come crashing down was when the Oregonian published an editorial calling for his resignation. This was the same paper that had endorsed him mere months prior.

Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Tigard) had held a town hall meeting, at which she was asked about the governor. She replied that it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop, but with an octopus. That was a very fitting analogy for what was going on.

By the time the session started earlier this month, it seemed like at least six shoes had already dropped. But a couple of shoes were left to drop and it felt like it wasn’t going to take much longer.

Last week saw the controversy cast a cloud over virtually all the rest of the official legislative business taking place at the state capitol in Salem.

Rumors about Kitzhaber’s resignation flew through the halls and beyond literally the second that Secretary of State Kate Brown abruptly flew back from a national conference in Washington D.C. She will, of course, become governor once Kitzhaber’s resignation takes effect.

On February 12, two days before the state’s birthday, the wheels came off completely. And it all fell apart in real time.
By one o’clock that afternoon, Democratic leaders were publicly calling for Governor Kitzhaber to resign. Throughout the building, legislators and staffers were visibly ashen. The atmosphere quickly became surreal. Visitors to the capitol began the trend of taking pictures in front of Kitzhaber’s official portrait, located just outside of his ceremonial office.

The following morning—Friday the 13th—it was expected that his resignation was imminent.

By noon, press outlets from all over the state were swarming the governor’s office. Reporters conducted live broadcasts in front of a set of closed doors as the crowd gathered and grew.
It was almost anticlimactic in that room when Kitzhaber’s official resignation announcement was released. The assembled TV news crews packed up their cameras and relocated to Brown’s current office downstairs.

Despite Kitzhaber’s official resignation, this situation is nowhere near finished playing itself out, and it already has all the elements of a Greek tragedy.

Here was a powerful man who served two terms as governor after stints in the House and as President of the Oregon Senate. He left office famously declaring the state “ungovernable” after fighting with the Republicans who controlled the Legislature at the time. His habit of vetoing their bills had earned him the nickname “Dr. No.”

Ted Kulongoski took over as governor in 2003 and Kitzhaber became a private citizen.

He sat on the sidelines for eight years, many of them in the company of a new and much younger lover whose ambitions had fueled her own meteoric rise. Kulongoski served two terms, after which Kitzhaber had the opportunity to have a redemption of sorts. (more…)