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Posts published in February 2015

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)

Audit says state spends too much on outside lawyers (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
ATK ammunition absorbed by Vista Outdoor (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington snowpack estimated at 39 percent (Moscow News)
Legislator proposes school civics test (Nampa Press Tribune)
Conservation plans move on Lake Lowell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fort Hall weighs in on instant horse racing (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello animal shelter moves into new home (Pocatello Journal)
Legislator pension increases limited by new bill (TF Times News)

Kitzhaber asks for AG inquiry (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Third UO student has bacterial infection (Eugene Register Guard)
UO football coach gets $17.5m deal (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath concerns over biofuel plant raised (KF Herald & News)
Medford got a huge storm last week (Medford Tribune)
New Jackon fair board and leaders try to revive it (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston charter goes to ballot (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Independent Party now a major party in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Salem considers urban renewal options (Salem Statesman Journal)

New Kitsap YWCA director (Bremerton Sun)
State seeks vapor improvement at Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
Washington snowpack at 39 percent (Kennewick Herald)
New school superintendent named at Longview (Longview News)
Iconic Mount Solo house sold (Longview News)
Initiative costs would have to be disclosed (Longview News)
Olympia port chemical spill linked to valve (Olympian)
Bill would toughen cell phone while driving law (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
What if Bertha can't be moved? (Seattle Times)
Higher Taxes college investment lured UW president (Seattle Times)
Toll on Narrows Bridge could rise by half (Tacoma News Tribune)
Shutdown at Christensen Shipyards (Vancouver Columbian)
Forum features prospects for judge (Vancouver Columbian)

No logic when it comes to guns

frazier DAVID


A bill currently before the Idaho legislature would make it legal for all citizens to carry concealed guns. Currently only folks with a permit and elected officials can carry concealed without a permit.
Smith and Wesson .38 caliber snub nose revolver.
When it comes to guns, Idaho laws and public policies make no sense and have little logic or consistency.

After Guv Butch signed the “enhanced carry law” last year, allowing gun toters with a special permit to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, the institutions of higher learning claimed it cost them $3.7 million for additional security. Huh?

At least at BSU they upped their security checks, installing magnetometers at the entrance to whatever they call Bronco Stadium these days. Do they now catch people with enhanced permits? What prompted the security searches at football games, but left the entrances to the basketball arena (currently called Taco Bell) unguarded? We would sure like to know if football fans are more prone to packing heat than basketball fans.

If the legislature rescinded the enhanced carry law and banned ALL concealed weapons on campus, would BSU and the other schools reduce their security staffs and do away with the intrusive searches? We find it absurd to blame the legislature for the $3.7 million “extra security” expense.

The public search process at the Ada Courthouse is just as difficult to understand. Employees use a side entrance and are not subjected to the same personal intrusion as couples seeking marriage licenses or lawyers attending hearings. All those elected judges, commishes, the treasurer, clerk, and assessor can pack heat. They also park in the basement and can bring in their friends and relatives without being searched. “Lock the front door, but leave the back open for the kids.”

Boise City Hall and the Idaho Capitol have no such search requirements for admission.

It isn’t much more logical at the airport where TSA will SELL you some sort of pre-check pass that allows you to keep your belt cinched up and not risk athletes foot padding around shoeless in the footprints of god-only-knows who walked before you. You can also be “randomly selected” for the same TSA courtesy bypass of the body scanner and strip line.

Here is the final irony. If you want a gun for “protection,” think about a bullet proof vest instead. Chances are it will be easier to obtain a gun than a vest.

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)

Old Ada courthouse to become new law school building (Boise Statesman)
Costs of building a community college system (Lewiston Tribune)
Progress claimed on 'add the words' (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Profiling Representative Ryan Kerby (Nampa Press Tribune)
Funds for heating assistance mostly gone (TF Times News)

Blachly charter schools pull more students (Eugene Register Guard)
Portland parking enforcement stepping up (Portland Oregonian)
Looking for streetlight funding (Salem Statesman Journal)

Two microbreweries head to Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish considers two for ombudsman job (Everett Herald)
Snohomish water center fiscal sound again (Everett Herald)
Issues with now-defunct car repair company (Longview News)
Independent Party seeks major party status in Oregon (Longview News)
Olympia considers downtown loos (Olympian)
Washington budget writers crunched, need funds (Tacoma News tribune, Olympian)
Public will weight in on peninsula cable (Port Angeles News)
Owen wants change to state ethics process (Seattle Times)
Snowpack at historically low levels (Seattle Times)
Spokane Co commission seeking to add more members (Spokane Spokesman)
Downtown streets will run to waterfront (Vancouver Columbian)
Health insurance deadline nears (Vancouver Columbian)
Plan bumps some drug cases felony to misdemeanor (Yakima Herald Republic)

This week in the Briefings


Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on February 4 introduced The AWARE Act to ensure that farm animals used in agricultural research at federal research facilities be included in the definition of “animal” under the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act ensures that certain minimum standards of humane care are adhered to in federal and private research facilities. However, the Act defines “animal” in a way that egregiously excludes farm animals used in agricultural research. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick spoke with leaders from the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at a press conference. (photo/Representative Blumenauer)

The Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss was duly reported around the state Sunday evening and Monday morning, and then quickly dropped. (What Seahawks?) Some advocates, however, pointed put that overall the team had played two spectacularly sucessful seasons in a row, and a Super Bowl return in 2016 does not seem an unreasonable prospect.

Oregon’s political picture was upended last week with the continuing difficulties of Governor John Kitzhaber – a press conference that went awry, a subsequent call for his resignation from the Portland Oregonian and later a couple of recall proposals. The pressure is not likely to let up in the week ahead.

In Idaho, school broadband concerns – and the growing probability of a shutdown of school broadband in the state – took front stage last week. Elsewhere, the legislature began moving toward budget-setting, which may be a closely related topic.

One big port hit

idaho RANDY

The biggest story of the week in the Northwest, and one not getting especially strong news coverage, is the now-arrived massive Pacific Coast port shutdowns, extending across a vast distance north to Alaska and south through California.

And not just a regional story, but national. The members of Congress beginning to scurry about calling for help – from the White House among other places – are not misplacing their concerns.

Here’s one comment, one of many like it around the net as last week ended, from the Retail Industry Leaders Association: “A breakdown in contract negotiations between labor and management at America's west coast ports is threatening to turn a slowdown into a full-scale strike, and an economic headache into a full-blown crisis that impacts the entire American economy.”

Ports on the west coast carry an estimated 43.5% of all container cargo in the United States – something like a trillion dollars in trade. You have to assume that in the Pacific Northwest, the percentage is much higher. Businesses will not be able to get supplies or get to market; consumers will not get goods. The economy could screech to a halt.

The battle between the Pacific Maritime Association (which represents the 29 big pacific ports, including Seattle, Portland and Tacoma) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers has turned poisonous. Each essentially is accusing the other of bad faith, and making essentially personal shots at the other. And each seems to have grievances with the other that seem to reach beyond the merely emotional.

Getting past this won’t be easy.

Time has come for the national government to weigh in. All these cheerful economic numbers – like the excellent employment news released last week – could come to an end if this loggerheads on the Pacific Coast doesn’t.

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)

Pilot error killed guard chopper pilots (Boise Statesman)
Locals move to North Dakota for high paying oil work (Lewiston Tribune)
Deseret Industries building anew in Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pine Ridge Mall tries to revive itself (Pocatello Journal)
E Idaho horse race backers try to save industry (Pocatello Journal)
Notably warm winter in eastern Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
More building permits in Twin Falls (TF Times News)

Burley Designs baby carrier profitable again (Eugene Register Guard)
Pub may be coming to UO student union (Eugene Register Guard)
Democrats not rushing to Kitzhaber's defense (Eugene Register Guard)
Jackson Co finances faring well (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber's private life emerges (Portland Oregonian)
School buses aging, creating hazards (Portland Oregonian)
$135m sought for pre-kindergarten (Salem Statesman Journal)

Options considered for new Marysville I-5 interchange (Everett Herald)
Former United Way director contests firing (Longview News)
Reviewing local food inspections (Olympian)
Local channels went dark on Tacoma cable (Tacoma News Tribune)
Gun rights advocates rally ay statehouse (Vancouver Columbian)
Farm piece-work rates at Supreme Court (Yakima Herald Republic)

Sourcing those industry regs

idaho RANDY

The headline on the Idaho Reporter story said, “Idaho lawmakers mandate car dealership hours,” but that’s only one piece of the tale. The remainder is the portion few Idahoans see but accounts for a lot of the much-despised regulation of industry.

This particular instance arrived February 3 before the House Transportation and Defense Committee, which was reviewing new Idaho Transportation Department rules. One of them required a certain number of hours per week car dealerships must keep their doors open to the public, and report their business hours to state regulators. By a thin margin, the committee approved the rule.

Several committee members argued that this was governmental regulatory overreach – a government agency seeking more power than it ought to have.

But the underlying story emerged when Representative Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, said that “We need to support this because people in the industry support it.”

What? The industry supports this added piece of government regulation?

You bet.

The motivations may be several. One car dealer warned of shady operators who might be hard to find if things go wrong during a purchase or later. There could also be some motivation to set the bar to entry in the business a little higher, excluding people who might try to start a small dealership working on weekends. Without trying to read minds here, there may be in all a mix of rationales, both public-serving and self-serving. But these motivations come chiefly from the industry. In the case of the car dealer hours rule, you would not have seen such general support from the industry if that industry wasn’t the basic source of the proposal.

The testimony indicated that the department wrote the rule, but it’s a very safe bet that the push for it came from the auto dealers themselves. Remember the governmental rules regulating banking hours? Recall who was pressing for that? Here’s a hint: It wasn’t either bureaucrats or consumer groups.

Anyone who draws a bright line between government and business poorly understands either. Business lobbyists visit the legislature every year for more laws and rules, but that’s only the proverbial iceberg tip. Many of them, or representatives for them, are a regular presence at agencies too. The savvier associations lobby agencies all year long to alter or adopt rules they see as in their benefit (and maybe the public’s as well). Revolving doors between the regulators and the regulated are commonplace at the federal level but show up in the states too.

Regulation of most of the business and professional organizations that are today regulated, from doctors and lawyers to surveyors and truckers, got started in most cases with requests from those industries that they be regulated. When the doctors first sought regulation, they wanted to weed out the quacks and improve professional quality, and raise the bar to entry to limit the number of doctors. It’s an old story.

Not that this is all bad. Government should be responsive, and it should listen to the regulated as well as the rest of the public. It’s called the right of redress.

And there are sometimes public interests to be considered too; in the auto hours case, several legislators argued that steady hours would be clearly a consumer benefit. Maybe so. (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)

Schools plan for loss of broadband service (Boise Statesman)
Tentative agreement between Boise and Uber (Boise Statesman)
Idaho may keep REAL ID in place (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Trbune)
Port workers plan no work on weekend (Lewiston Tribune)
Measles shots mandated for WSU staff (Moscow News)
Material for roads would get sales tax exemption (Nampa Press Tribune)
Melba schools want $9.5 million bond (Nampa Press Tribune)
'Constitutional carry' draws police criticism (Pocatello Journal)
Mumps showing up in Idaho (Pocstello Journal)
Unclear what will happen to area Radio Shack stores (Pocatello Journal)
Rangen starts getting its water delivery (TF Times News)
Bill would set March for presidential primary (TF Times News)

Recall effort launches against Kitzhaber (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
Pot often appears in Washburne Park (Eugene Register Guard)
Bats multiply at Tulelake Basin (KF Herald & News)
Ashland ski area re-opens (Medford Tribune)
Heavy storms hit SW Oregon (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
AG Rosemblum may consider Kitzhaber inquiry (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Former legislator Joe Burns dies at 90 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New emails show Hayes ties between public, private (Portland Oregonian)
Many Asians coming to Portland (Portland Oregonian)
New road rules proposed in legisature (Salem Statesman Journal)

WA tax breaks for aerospace may be tightened (Everett Herald)
Inslee supports limting vaccine exemptions (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Fed planw would oil eggs of salmon bird predators (Longview News)
Vaccinations missed by 4.6% of kindergartners (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Boeing machinists pay declined last year (Seattle Times)
Kitzhaber stuck in 'soap opera' ethics scandal (Seattle Times)
Foster parents criticize vaccination rule (Spokane Spokesman)
Dirt in rain puzzles scientists (Spokane Spokesman)
Burlington Northern plans $189m in WA rail effort (Vancouver Columbian)
Port shutdowns may continue (Yakima Herald Republic)

The vaccine pander

rainey BARRETT


If you believe unvaccinated children should be allowed in public schools, you’d better stop reading right here and go back to your regular Faux Neus viewing ‘cause you’re not going to like what follows one damned bit.

Let me put it as simply as I can. Your unvaccinated child/grandchild has no God-given right to infect my vaccinated grandchildren. None. If your kid/grandkid doesn’t have a completed shot record in hand the first day of school, he/she should not be allowed on the bus. Period.

To see politicians running for any office teeter this way and that on such an important issue health should be a national embarrassment. The popular - but throughly unconscionable - practice of pandering to any given voter block by office seekers using mush-mouth answers on nearly any subject certainly is. On this one, is could also be deadly.

Watching Chris Christie wallow in the verbal swamp on this subject is embarrassing, though hardly out-of-character, for a guy who’s the only one who doesn’t realize his political career is nearly over. But Rand Paul is the one that disappoints most. First, because he’s a doctor. Second, because his response has been the nutcase echo of Michelle Bachman with this “I’ve heard of...” or “”someone told me...” B.S.. The man is a physician-by-training. He knows better. If he truly doesn’t, his medical career is just one bad diagnosis from landing him in malpractice court.

I’m old enough to remember measles epidemics. When I was in elementary school in East Wenatchee, two kids in my school died of measles. There were deaths in other schools, too. The vaccines at that time were weaker and usually given separately as opposed to the combination practice now. Even so, wise parents who’d seen measles epidemics in their lifetimes made sure their kids had the best protection - measles, mumps, diphtheria, etc..

Now, vaccines are much more effective. Medical and pharmaceutical professionals have better tools and more knowledge. We can protect nearly everyone from these once terrible diseases.

The right wing crazies continuing to peddle the fully discredited “research” of more than 30 years ago are putting their own families at risk if they practice what they’re trying to get the rest of us to believe. And if they ARE practicing by not vaccinating their offspring, then those kids should not be allowed to endanger the rest of us and ours. (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)

New bill would allow permit-less concealed carry (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
UI student study looks into rural flight (Boise Statesman)
Guns, abortion arrive at Idaho Legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Clear Creek forest project approaches approval (Lewiston Tribune)
Longshore issues on Pacific port hit businesses (Lewiston Tribune)
Old Mercy Hospital at Nampa faces uncertainty (Nampa Press Tribune)
Federal Department of Justice looks into broadband (TF Times News)

No third case of severe flu at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Snowpack running especially low, temps high (Eugene Register Guard)
Obama budget calls for $18m for Klamath project (KF Herald & News)
Oregon has lowest vaccination race (KF Herald & News)
Round Up Association challenging property taxes (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber not likely to resign (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla Co asks local control on energy siting (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing Hayes' policy impacts (Portland Oregonian)
Former Representative Wes Cooley dies (Portland Oregonian)
Legislative leaders remark on Kitzhaber (Salem Statesman Journal)
Howard Hall ripped out at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bill to require child vaccination, no matter beliefs (Everett Herald, Port Angeles News)
Everett Schools would expand kindergarten (Everett Herald)
Battle over smelt flushing limits at Lake Sacajawea (Longview News)
Kaiser health cost 2,000 with Weyco action (Longview News)
Oregonian tells Kitzhaber to resign (Longview Nwws)
State insurance exchange 81k behind enroll target (Olympian)
Haggen stores moves into major league status (Seattle Times)
Inslee learned from California on carbon caps (Seattle Times)
Telephone audit gives Spokane city $700k (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma restricts use of Weyerhaeuser mansion (Tacoma News Tribune)
Banfield Pet Hospital shows off headquarters plan (Vancouver Columbian)