Writings and observations

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

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.

We are all keenly aware of the difficult circumstances that brought us to this moment – circumstances that none of us would have predicted only a short time ago.

Governor Kitzhaber dedicated most of his life to serving the people of Oregon. His contributions to our state are well woven into the fabric of our public life.

But now, we must restore the public’s trust.

I know that every Representative and Senator in this chamber loves Oregon as much as I do. And as I am sure you agree, in order for us to move forward, the first order of business is to regain the confidence of the people.

There are several things we can do, and one of them starts right now.

I pledge to you today that for as long as I am your Governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source. And I pledge further that while I am Governor, the members of my household and the members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source, for any work related to the business of the State of Oregon. That simply will not happen.

Beyond that, we must seize this moment to work across party lines to restore the public’s trust. That means passing meaningful legislation that strengthens the capacity and independence of the Government Ethics Commission. We also must strengthen laws to ensure timely release of public documents.

We should not leave here without getting this done.

We must work together to address these and other real problems in real time; to strengthen Oregon’s recovery from the recession; to improve access to quality education and health care, and create more living-wage jobs in every single corner of the state.

Although as individuals we may have our differences, one thing connects us – we are all Oregonians. We are innovators, seekers, doers. Even our state motto, “She flies with her own wings,” underscores the extraordinary Oregon spirit that unites us and characterizes us as a people.

It is time once again to set our sights on Oregon’s future, to stretch our wings towards new horizons. Today is nearly half gone; tomorrow awaits, full of promise. Now it’s time to get to work.

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Oregon Reading

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)

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)

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First Take

strickland MICHAEL
STRICKLAND

 
Literacy

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.

“Writing the book was part of the process, but publishing the book is the closure,” Nina said. “I needed it, because, being in a toxic relationship, there is a lot of shame and guilt … so by publishing, it really speaks out against it. So it’s a final way of being able to stand up and take that part of myself back.”

Nina’s childhood home was nestled in Matilija Canyon, a remote area outside of Ojai, CA. Her home was secluded which granted a unique and enchanting place to grow up. It is no wonder that her work is filled with its imagery. Her earliest writings of poetry began as early as elementary school. It is a realized talent that has remained throughout her life.

I asked Nina why she chose the art form of poetry as her outlet.

Growing up I had an undiagnosed, but definitely … either emotionally handicapped or mentally ill mother. I didn’t have a lot of privacy in my home, so I didn’t really have a way of expressing myself without any kind of persecution for it. So when I wrote poetry, it was like being able to talk about those feelings, almost like in code … because it didn’t pinpoint the exact circumstances that brought out that emotion, but it clearly represented the emotion. So it was a way of being able to speak about something without getting in trouble.

Nina is now currently working on her next collection of poetry, to be titled Reaching The Castle Wall, a composition of heartache and love poems derived from the fairy tales we all grew up with. It is scheduled to be released for Valentine’s Day 2016. In the meantime, a series of children’s books are also underway.

Psychology Today said that: “Palmer’s poems depict through natural imagery of rain, sunshine and forests what it is like to live within and then gradually to be able to leave a toxic love relationship. Palmer’s poems radiate wisdom that can guide others along similar routes out of suffering.”

I asked Nina what she meant by the “persecution” in her home, and what would happen when she expressed herself.

I just wasn’t allowed to. would be the best way put it. Kids were supposed to be quiet, and in their rooms, and out of the way, and to do what their told. A lot of the things that happened to me when I was younger, wouldn’t make sense to even an adult, to treat a child that way.

Nina went on to talk about how her experiences were abusive, even though many things that happened could not fall onto the traditional chart when experts track and talk about abuse.
“I have been truly inspired to write this collection of poetry,” Nina said. “It is my hope that these works with inspire your heart to embrace every stage of grief and not only find peace, but the strength and courage to move on.”

There is much of a hero’s journey sketched-out in these words. Nina’s electric collection massages the heart, and nourishes the mind and soul.

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Strickland

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)

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)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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.

Here’s what this early signaling/posturing probably means.

There’s a great scene early in the smash hit HBO series, House of Cards. Frank Underwood (Played superbly by actor Kevin Spacey), the LBJ-like House majority leader who wheels, deals, lies, betrays and double crosses his relentless way to the presidency, is approached in a corridor by his former press secretary who is now a lobbyist.

After the former employee departs, in an aside worthy of Shakespeare, Underwood looks the camera in the eye and says, “There are two kinds of people in this town: those who go for the money and those who seek power. Rennie (the ex-press secretary) made a big mistake. He went for the money. He should have gone for power. It is much more satisfying and much more lasting.”

If Congressman Labrador sticks with his decision to stay in the House, the voter will know he’s going for the money, trading on his media attraction and angling for one of those $2 million a year executive directorships the Republicans seem to have in aabundance.

If he reverses himself and goes after Senator Crapo, like Frank Underwood, the voter will know he has opted for power and influence.

Until the filing deadline, it’s all pure posturing, my friend.

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Carlson

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)

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)

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First Take

jorgensen W. SCOTT
JORGENSEN

 
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.

The former governor was able to defeat political newcomer and retired Blazers basketball star Chris Dudley in November 2010 and made history in the process.

The 2011 session saw the Oregon House of Representatives in an extremely unique 30-30 split, requiring a co-governance model that was eventually heralded nationwide.

Kitzhaber’s first stint as governor was marred by long and treacherous special sessions. But not this time around. Multiple special sessions were held—one in late 2012 and the other around a year later. The 2013 special session produced what came to be known as the “Grand Bargain,” a series of bills produced through months of bipartisan negotiations with leaders from the House and Senate.

The first signs of trouble came not too long after that, when the failed launch of Cover Oregon made national news and produced jokes on late night television shows in which the hosts opined that residents of the state were living in a cartoon.

Kitzhaber weathered the storm, though, and the prospect of investigations by the Congressional General Accounting Office and the FBI about the failed exchange still weren’t enough to keep him from being re-elected.

By then, he had long since already proposed to Hayes.

The final weeks of the campaign were starting to see revelations in the press about her various business dealings. Media outlets began making records requests during the summer, which were never completed until after the election. But when those records eventually became available, the press got a more thorough portrait of what they had been looking for in the first place.

No matter what happens, nobody will ever be able to take away from John Kitzhaber the fact that he served in the Legislature for many years, or that he was governor not once, but twice. He will always go down in history as the state’s only three-term governor, which is not to mention his extremely brief fourth term.

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Jorgensen Oregon

Kitzhaber

 
Governor John Kitzhaber on January 12, about a month before he would announce his resignation. (photo/Office of the Governor)

 
The resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber completely preoccupied Salem and much of the rest of Oregon last week. (It became a national and international news story.) Next: What happens as new Governor Kate Brown takes office and develops a new administration?

In Washington, the legislature has gotten down to business – which is to say, questions of money. Transportation and education budgets were the subject of negotiations last week, and more will emerge this week. By the end of this week, it may be clear whether one legislative session will suffice, or more will be needed.

The most long-range significant event of last week in Idaho may have been the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the St. Lukes and Saltzer merger, which may set major guidelines for health care administration in the state – or, guidelines that might be addressed by law. The implications are far reaching; news coverage of the case was much less so.

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Briefings

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)

Idahoans head to North Dakota for oil money (Boise Statesman)
Capone case costs county half a million (Lewiston Tribune)
Aquatics center called ‘structurally unsafe’ (Moscow News)
Pullman may build new school (Moscow News)
OPE report suggests move legal work to AG (Nampa Press Tribune)
Schools treat e-cigarettes like drugs (Nampa Press Tribune)

Setting sales cost for Eugene Electric land (Eugene Register Guard)
Feds expand Kitzhaber finance probe (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Congress looking into Cover Oregon issues (Portland Oregonian)
Republicans seek advantage in scandal (Salem Statesman Journal)
Polk Co puts law enforcement levy on ballot (Salem Statesman Journal)

Unfunded initiatives may face law (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Port Angeles News, Longview News)
Changes planned for 4th Street in Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Amazon drones may be barred by FAA (Seattle Times)
Washington rules going after carbon (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce property taxes going up 7.7% (Tacoma News Tribune)

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Idaho Idaho column

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

We Nor’westerners are often prone to complacency when looking at tornados, hurricanes, tropical storms and other climate disasters in our old continental U.S.. Our response is usually something like “Tsk tsk. Isn’t that too bad?” Because we live on the continent’s last few feet of real estate, we acknowledge the news without having really deep feelings for local trauma of the moment in other regions.

Our own Northwest neighborhood doesn’t host many such events. Oh, we have windstorms and occasional flooding. Once in awhile, forest fires come uncomfortably close. Really though, most of us here remain unaffected in any direct way.

BUT – geologic history tells us Yellowstone Park used to be about 500 miles west of where it is now – west of downtown Boise in Southwest Idaho. Mt. St. Helens has blown its top and killed some folk in our lifetimes. Rainier, Hood, Baker, Shasta and a few other so far peaceful mountains in our region give off occasional rumbles. Just to keep us on our toes. No, nothing major in the neighborhood. Recently. Yet.

Still, we denizens of Oregon’s coastline are almost always of two minds when the morning alarm goes off. Today’s just another day – or – today may be our last day. It sort of depends on whether you’re a risk taker. After all, that Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate are our constant neighbors. The tsunami starters.

This geologic “Sword of Damocles” exists not over our heads but off the shoreline. The plate and zone are about 40-80 miles out and affect – or could violently affect – an area from Vancouver Island to San Francisco.

It’s been a long, long time since there’s been a major “shaker” hereabouts. Most quake-watchers count January 27, 1700, as the last “big one.” It is thought to have been larger than the one that swamped Fukishima in 2011. Better than 9.0 on a Richter Scale – had there been a Richter Scale in 1700.

Next largest was more recent – March 27, 1964. Worst of it was in Alaska but four kids were killed in Newport, here on our Central Oregon coast, with houses and infrastructure destroyed down to Crescent City, CA.

There’s been serious exploration on the Oregon coast, some up the Sixes River about where Curry and Coos County meet up. Harvey Kelsey, and Eileen Hemphill-Haley of Humbolt State found evidence of 11 large, tsunami-producing earthquakes off our coastline during the last 6,000 years.
Their work also showed each of the11was accompanied by a tsunami that spread beach sand more than two miles inland. Even way uphill! Lots of sand. Imagine the strength of the ocean push that could do that.

Then there’s this. Last of the big 11 was about 1700. Scientists think there’s an overall average reoccurrence interval of between 300-5,500 years. Given the last big shaker was in 1700 and we’re now at 2015, we’re about 300 years out. So, those who calculate such things figure we’ve got a 10-20% chance of a big one in the next 50-100 years. Plus or minus a year or two.

Now, 10-20% chance of being drowned on any given day might seem statistically pretty unlikely where you sit. But, suppose you sat here! Right next to we folk who daily watch the usually peaceful blue Pacific. If it were your home – your family – YOU – would you be comfortable? Only a 10-20% chance of being wiped out today. Nuthin’ to worry about. Right?

But we’re not done yet. Suddenly, the Cascadia fault has gone silent! No noise. No movement. Nothing. And scientists are concerned. For four years, they’ve been dropping special seismometers to the ocean floor and getting zero readings. Nothing. They fear the Cascadia plates are locked.

Dr. Doug Toomey, U of O seismologist, says this is not good. With no occasional relief in small shakers, pressure could be building up that can’t escape. Yet. Building up for a real monster! Says Toomey, “If completely locked, it’s increasingly storing energy that has to be released eventually.” Nobody knows how much strain there is now or how much there has to be before whatever happens – happens. Toomey and other scientists are talking 9.0 and tsunami. But when? And where? They don’t know!

Says Toomey, “I’m very concerned.” EDIT NOTE: Me, too.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone here is on tranquilizers. There’s been no run on Valium for months now. Like repainting your house every couple of years, keeping a closet full of rain gear, remembering your galoshes when leaving for church or washing all the sea crud off your new car every day or so, living with one eye on the ocean skyline looking for that “big one” – all part of everyday life. Keeps you on your toes.

Still, it takes awhile to get used to that question each morning. “Is this the day?”

Naw. Not today.

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Rainey