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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)

Harvard innovation lab head comes to BSU (Boise Statesman)
Institute of Medicine says potatoes are healthy (Boise Statesman)
Measles outbreak under scrutiny (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bill to move money from urban renewal to schools (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell state of city address delivered (Nampa Press Tribune)
Guns on campus costing money at universities (Pocatello Journal)
Male-female wage gap lessens in Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
More state funding sought for wolf kills (TF Times News)
Idaho dairies won't lose permits for waste dumping (TF Times News)

At Eugene, another packed hearing on marijuana (Eugene Register Guard)
Second deadly bacteria instance at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Are gas projects undermined by cheap oil? (KF Herald & News)
Jackson may set up wolf compensation program (KF Herald & News)
Hearing draws strong reaction on Medford casino (Medford Tribune)
White City could become major pot center (Medford Tribune)
Local legislators take their seats (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton still grapples with pot regulation (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Gas now cheaper than bottled water (Portland Oregonian)
Cities want to regulate, tax pot (Portland Oregonian)
About the hiring of Salem's new bridge builder (Salem Statesman Journal)

State bill would end daylight savings time (Bremerton Sun, Longview News)
Legislators consider changes to fiscal initiatives (Everett Herald)
Murray concerned over Hanford budget cuts (Kennewick Herald)
Newcomer named head of Cowlitz humane socity (Longview News)
Kelso's violence crime diminished (Longview News)
Olympia considers joining Sound Transit train system (Olympian)
Military personnel barred from pot shops (Port Angeles News)
UW President Young heads to Texas A&M (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Enrollment in state health exchange slips (Seattle Times)
Tights oil by rail rules proposed for state (Spokane Spokesman)
Ruston considers development annexation (Tacoma News Tribune)
Murray plans to push for Obama's budget (Vancouver Columbian)
Critics of La Center casino file appeal (Vancouver Columbian)
Civil rights violations noted in Yakima schools (Yakima Herald Republic)
Still progress on downtown Yakima hotel (Yakima Herald Republic)

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)

In the briefings

barney football

Barney, male harbor seal at the Seattle Aquarium with a Seahawks football. The aquarium said, “Our harbor seals (Barney, Q and Siku) got another fumble return and touchdown pass practice in today before the big game this weekend.” (Photo/Seattle Aquarium)


We'll have a little more about the Super Bowl in next week's Washington Briefing, but the basics are well enough known already: The Seahawks lost a competitive game after what was called the "worst play ever" called by their coach, resulting in the New England Patriots taking control of the ball at a critical moment.

Elsewhere around the three states, legislatures get into full swing - now in Oregon as well as in Washington and Idaho - with financial and other decisions in play.

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)

Mobile park residents concerned about staying (Boise Statesman)
Scientists study bighorn sheep disease (Boise Statesman)
Seahawks lose Super Bowl (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Neighbors concerned about rural Asotin gun club (Lewiston Tribune)
WA Supreme Court considers WSU golf water case (Moscow News)
Clif Bar production site in preparation (TF Times News)

Lane economists project modest growth in area (Eugene Register Guard)
Seahawks lose close Super Bowl (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Lion sanctuary launches at Phoenix (Medford Tribune)
OHSU researches irregular heart rhythms (Portland Oregonnian)
Capitol activities alongside the legislature (Salem Statesman Journal)

Seahawks lose close Super Bowl (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
YMCA plans three-year resurgence (Everett Herald)
Dental practitioner bill considered (Port Angeles News)
Vancouver rep blasts Inslee environment plan (Vancouver Columbian)

State of perpetual embarassment

rainey BARRETT


With the exception of Idaho, when Northwest states make the national news, it’s most often because something of national import has happened in our Northwest backyard that everyone else should know about. Something legitimately of news value or of extraordinary human interest. Again, most often, with the exception of Idaho.

When Idaho makes the national media, you can just about always bet the farm it’s because of someone - or something - outrageous, doing something counter to accepted behavior or being an embarrassment to themselves or the country-at-large. This week, it’s been too many of the Idaho public testifying ridiculously before a legislative committee that appeared to be ready to “deep six” the bill even before the hearings.

At issue are four words: “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The legislation would add those words to Idaho’s Human Rights Act which already prohibits discrimination for many other reasons i.e. religion, race, etc.. That’s it. Straight forward as that. No hype. No confusion. No B.S..

The problem is - and this is where the embarrassment comes in - the two days of testimony about those four words have drawn some of the craziest, off-the-wall, bigoted, ignorant, irrelevant, belligerent, nonsensical, dumbest and - in too many cases - fact-less voices ever to step before a microphone.

It isn’t that people who oppose the legislation should not be heard or given a chance to make their points to a legitimate panel of lawmakers. Far from it. Step up. Order your facts. Put your written remarks on the podium. Adjust the mike for your comfort. Speak your mind. Have at it. That’s what a hearing is for.

But that’s not what’s happened. I refuse to - and I won’t - repeat all the strange, baseless, hypocritical, phony moralizing, self-defeating, contradictory and demeaning arguments offered. No, Sir! Won’t do it.

But if you watched or listened to most of the two days of the hearing, you could sum up the pro and con arguments in two ways. Generally, those supporting adding the words to the Act talked of love, equality, sharing, respect, civil rights and fairness. Those against - and again, this is from listening to what was said - talked of hidden, powerful homosexual agendas, continuing and protecting the right to reject food, shelter or business from people not entirely like themselves. They talked of anti-gay printers being forced to print flyers for gay customers or gay bakers putting poison in cakes of anti-gay Idahoans.

Other voices opposing came from other states, claiming to represent “American family-supporting organizations” with messages of members claiming to be “God fearing” and “God loving.” But their testimony spoke of “homosexual treacheries” and “predators searching out innocent children” and other traditional boogeymen to be feared if each Idahoans is given legal protection to share in rights afforded all other Idahoans.

Now, I’m one who loves irony. And here it comes. Several legislators up on the dias were Mormon. Proud, practicing Mormons. Some of whom have previously talked of allowing discrimination approved by their Church to drive their person and legislative views. (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)

2014 was strong for Idaho agriculture (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Legislators consider Medicaid expansion (Boise Statesman)
Review of Canyon legislators (Nampa Press Tribune)
Middleton sets fire levy (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa schools plan auditing curriculum (Nampa Press Tribune)
Attorney says county dropping of norrth fair ok (Pocatello Journal)
Crowdfunding used to pay for public info request (Pocatello Journal)
Dairy water transfer contested at Filer (TF Times News)

Cemetery manager wants zone change (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislators prepare to start work (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Liquor control asks for authority for peace officer (KF Herald & News)
Jackson County seeks marijuana tax election (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber had a rugged press conference (Portland Oregonian)
Women in lead spots in state legislature (Salem Statesman Journal)

Asking for more funds for state parks (Bremerton Sun)
Cigar bars may return to Washington (Longview News)
Tacoma and Pierce still discuss jail agreement (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver reconsiders its garbage problems (Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing new statewide computer court system (Yakima Herald Republic)