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Posts published in March 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)

Idaho luring international food processing (Boise Statesman)
Legislature repeals allowance of instant racing (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
State gets bad ethics report (IF Post Register)
State Senate approved teacher pay raise (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Looking further at Bergdahl case (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Fewer accidents on Moscow-Pullman road (Moscow News)
A couple of highway bills clear committee (Nampa Press Tribune)

Warrenton dam to be knocked out (Astorian)
New gun background check bill surfaces at Salem (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Debate ensues over whether UO worker was fired (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath still pursuing local air service (KF Herald & News)
New area Bureau of Reclamation manager sought (KF Herald & News)
Budget panel approves schools budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon pot agency director Burns fired (Portland Oregonian)

Night market proposed for downtown Bellingham (Bellingham Herald)
Backlog on park updates in Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville fire chief retiring (Everett Herald)
Deal may be set for KapStone labor talks (Longview News)
Longview traffic cams bring in $1 million a year (Longview News)
State auditor inquiry may date to 2013 (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Tumwater looks at road repair tax increase (Olympian)
Cost of measles control could hit $200k (Port Angeles News)
High prices sending people from King to Pierce (Seattle Times)
Clark Co enrolls 42k in health exchanges (Vanvouver Columbian)

Good-bye, Dad



My father, Richard Milton Bond, slipped the hook this morning. Had he lived another month he would have been 94 but given his failing health, I would not have wished that on him.

The whole family, even we kids, called him Dickie and he never minded. He had a raucous laugh, an even greater sense of humour and greater than that, a spirit for adventure and a disdain for bullshite.

He had a pilot's heart and a disdain for common thinking. Linus Pauling taught him freshman chemistry at Cal-Tech, whence he transferred with the V-12 program to Berkeley, where he met my late mother, Patty, while both were on the student council.

Our family started in Santa Barbara, where Dickie got his advanced flying tickets on the GI Bill, then moved to Philadelphia where he worked for Ingersoll, the company that made Mickey Mouse watches (amongst many more important things), then to Great Falls, then Spokane, where he built our house, then back to San Francisco.

He found himself unwillingly embroiled in the California politics of Edmund G. Brown (Jerry's dad) at the Calor Gas Co. and took his fledgling family to the unknown town of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where he assumed the manager's job of the Vancouver Island Gas Company at a severe cut in pay and opportunity. This, all by the time I was six years old.

Vi-Gas, as it was known, was a marvel. It took barged-in natural gas from the Vancouver mainland, re-compressed it and shot it out through the local pipelines. One of Dickie's goals had been to build a gas pipeline from the mainland to the island, but the B.C. government, socialist at the time, wasn't having any of it unless one of its cronies could come up with an alternative. Nobody did.

But watching that gas plant with its giant turbines and pumps was a great joy to a little kid – plus there was a blackberry patch outside to die for in late summers.

Dickie taught me my love of flying. He had grown up on Stearmans and had access to, at various times, a Cessna 170, Cessna 180, Piper Comanche, and later, a Lake LA-4 amphibian, and he would always let me drive. Needless to say I dashed to flight school at a certain legal age. He also taught us how to drive boats and water ski at high speeds.

He was a stern son-of-a-gun, too, Marine that he was. Discipline was no further away than his fraternity paddle – which endured an untimely death when younger-brother Marc and I found where he hid it, and took it down to the beach over an open fire.

He laughed like crazy over our stunt, but promptly cut another one, used it, and it remains hidden to this day. (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)

Bergdahl charged with desertion (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Low snow having effects on Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Statewide common core tests arrive (IF Post Register)
Legislators consider new tax, spending package (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
UW med school exclusivity dropped by legislature (Moscow News)
Moscow-Pullman airport prepares for new runway (Moscow News)
St Lukes plans expansion at Nampa into hospital (Nampa Press Tribune)
New concealed carry bill progresses (Pocatello Journal)

Army Corps moves to limit birds (Astorian)
UO archivists fired after their data release (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon bill considers sex assault privacy (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Co ranks low in health study (KF Herald & News)
Klamath named to participate in Blue Zone project (KF Herald & News)
Fire starting in warm winter (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Bergdahl charged with desertion (Portland Oregonian)

Bellingham buys 21 acres for park (Bellingham Herald)
Cantwell hits safety on oil cars, offers bill (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbiann, Bellingham Herald, Olympian)
Kitsap transit hits financial trouble (Bremerton Sun)
Cowlitz health stats improve (Longview News)
Bergdahl charged with desertion (Spokesman Review, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Few notes to track schedule of Auditor Kelley (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Kilmer calls on Canada to help with sewage (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles council goes to work on budget (Port Angeles News)
$15 minimum wage at Seattle may not apply to UW (Seattle Times)
UW med school exclusivity dropped by legislature (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Clark Co grows faster than Portland area (Vancouver Columbian)
Dispute over voting attorney fees continues (Yakima Herald Republic)

So what

rainey BARRETT


Ted Cruz is running for president. I’ve got to get the gutters cleaned this week. At most American homes, I’m happy to say, the latter is far more important than the former.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) said it best on a weekend talk show the other day. “Ted Cruz is unfit to run for president,” was the quote. Note he didn’t comment on whether Cruz was fit to be president. Didn’t have to.

So, we’ve got the Cruz “missile” and about 15 politico’s of various intellect making noises about wanting to live in the White House. Any of ‘em qualified for the job? Any of ‘em strike your fancy? Any make you want to run to the polls today?

Or this. Any of ‘em running - or likely to - seem like a person of honesty, intelligence, compassion, sincerity, common sense or experience that you’d turn to for help if you had a problem? Either party? Any one?

We’ll be bombarded with presidential candidate B.S. for more than a year before we get to the first national political convention. Primary after primary will prove nearly nothing. Various names will surface as “flavor-of-the-month” signifying nearly nothing. The names Cain or Paul or Bachman or Santorum from 2012 mean anything these days? National media will coronate one after the other as “front runner.” Again, meaning nothing.

Unless Hillary Clinton hits some sort of unexpected wall between now and July, 2016, Democrats will meet in Philadelphia simply to kiss the ring and spend five days partying and singing “Kumbaya.”

But Republicans - ah, Republicans. Only people who’ll make bet on who comes out of that convention at this point are those 1-800-California psychics. We’ve got about 20 GOP primaries to suffer through before convention and, in the end, most of those will signify- again - nothing, But there is something to watch on that side of the rabbit run.

For many elections, Republicans have used a divide-and-conquer strategy. From courthouse to White House, they put up more than one candidate of their choosing. If you go back a number of elections, you’ll find that’s how we got Bachman, Gohmert, Issa, Paul and the rest won. Multiple candidates in their own races so they never had to reach 51-percent to be elected. Some won with way less than 30 percent.

At the moment, we’ve got at least 10 GOP names out there. Statistically, the one getting 11 percent wins. Not 51 percent. Not 40 or 30 or 25. Just 11. So, what about the 89 percent who voted for somebody else? If the minority crazies can get just a few other, similarly inclined minority voters to join the cause, you’ve got another minority winner. Playing the numbers just like Vegas. Now, add to that several hundred millions dollars from ambitious billionaires who want to own one or more officeholders and you can win all sorts of elections without a majority. Marco Rubio’s already signed one up. Or, has been “signed up” would be more like it. Santorum, too.

Then, there’s the “binding” and “non-binding” primaries that may - or may not - mean anything at convention. A state containing rational Republican voters may elect a rational GOP candidate. But that same state may also have a “non-binding” clause that allows delegates to go to other, less rational candidates at the national convention. Happens every four years.

And this. Conventions are mostly controlled by party officers who’ve worked their way up. The current Republican bosses no more represent the rank-and-file Republican voter than Mickey Mouse. (With apologies to Walt.) Even if a candidate comes into convention with the most states “won,” the crazies at the top can nullify that with one barroom deal. So, winning some primaries before convention is important. To a point. Unless sanity suddenly comes to Priebus and his hand-picked loons, they’ll go on their merry way to the edge of their flat earth and nominate a member of the loser Paul family while loudly pledging “purity-over-winning.” Again. (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 gets low score on ethics report (Boise Statesman)
Report says Idaho wasted $61m on school management (IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Washington asked to alter salmon fishing rules (Lewiston Tribune)
What's happening with WA auditor scandal? (Moscow News)
New Nampa library beset by weak budgets (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon liquor sales keep rising (Nampa Press Tribune)
Highway bill stalled again in House (Nampa Press Tribune)
House passes new concealed carry bill (TF Times News)

House agreed to county timber payments (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Klamath college considers bonding plan (KF Herald & News)
Medford considers change in rules on bees (Medford Tribune)
School funding bill for $7.3b advances (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Gay teacher sues local school district (Salem Statesman Journal)

Cold storage warehouse starts business in Lynden (Bellingham Herald)
Auditor inquiry focuses on employee (Tacoma News Tribune, Bremerton Sun, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Sheldon returns to lead Tulalip board (Everett Herald)
Former Marysville mayor Kendall dies (Everett Herald)
DOE take new look at Hanford waste removal (Kennewick Herald)
Two leading Franklin co managers departing (Kennewick Herald)
State considers changing retirement benefits (Olympian)
Most Olympia voters support $15 minimum wage (Olympian)
Interest grows in Port Angeles air service (Port Angeles News)
Amazon taking over huge chunk of Seattle downtown (Seattle Times)
Grain elevator may become superfund site (Spokane Spokesman)
Report says Idaho wasted $61m on Schoolnet (Spokane Spokesman)
Fife won't let Tacoma use jail (Tacoma News Tribune)
Bill would allow state-tribal deals on pot (Vancouver Columbian)

On the House budget

trahant MARK


The House Budget Committee unveiled its budget Tuesday — and the details are not good news for Indian Country.

First: The budget calls for more spending cuts than any previous Republican budget, some $5.5 trillion over the next decade. The pay off would be a balanced budget. But most of those cuts fall into “domestic” spending and that’s the source of most of the federal dollars for Indian Country.

Second: The budget repeals the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. “Obamacare is not working for America’s families, doctors or employers. It is imperative that the President’s health care law be repealed so that we can start over and make targeted, common sense reforms that will improve access to affordable health care choices,” the House Budget committee said.

“This budget repeals Obamacare in its entirety – including all of the tax increases, regulations, subsidies, and mandates” the House Budget committee said. That includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

The proposal would also transform Medicaid into a block grant program, giving the money directly to states. Medicaid now represents some 20 percent of the Indian health system funding.

In a language that’s not English, the report said, “the budget repeals Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion so the program is able to focus on its core mission of serving those in our communities most in need of assistance.” Translation: We’re cutting insurance for those who can least afford insurance. This is nuts. The Medicaid expansion has been the key to making health insurance more available. Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act there has been a 35 percent decline in the uninsured, according to new data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 17 million people have insurance coverage under the law. The House budget offers no replacement provisions for those who would lose their health insurance coverage.

This report is full of Orwellian language. Another of my favorites is this line: “We do not invite the across-the-board sequestration cut that would occur if we were to simply budget or appropriate a defense spending level that is above the existing cap mandated under current law.” In other words, the sequester applies to every other part of government, but not Defense. As I mentioned in my last post, this is an attempt to balance the interests of those in Congress who want deep spending cuts with those who want more money for defense.

The budget does not actually appropriate dollars. That is still the job of appropriations committees. But this document would be an overall limit to spending and would force the folks writing budgets to keep their numbers below the caps. This budget is similar to Paul Ryan’s recent approaches to spending and House Democrats said that would mean a cut of at least $375 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a $637 million reduction for the Indian Health Service. But that’s just in direct appropriations. If you reduce Medicaid that could trim as much as a billion dollars from Indian health programs.

The Senate will unveil its budget later this week as well. The goal is to have a budget enacted before April 15. The Senate’s budget will not require a supermajority, by rule it cannot be filibustered. So this budget will reflect the will of the Republican majority in both Houses. The budget still will face a likely veto, especially since it includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the freeTrahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

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)

Legislature considers statewide Uber bill (Boise Statesman)
Instant racing bill could kill Les Bois track (Boise Statesman)
House clears teacher pay bill (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston district evaluates high school renovation (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow continues single-stream recycling (Moscow News)
College students warn of fair rental housing issues (Moscow News)
Feds will reconsider their Lake Lowell use rules (Nampa Press Tribune)
Has Add words backlash event drawn threats? (Nampa Press Tribune)
Tuition raise okayed at CSI (TF Times News)
Burley and Cassia police agreement still tense (TF Times News)

Springfield hospital ranks one of OR's priciest (Eugene Register Guard)
Pushing again for Klamath passenger air service (KF Herald & News)
Snow about to drop on Cascades (KF Herald & News)
Jackson joins drought counties (Medford Tribune)
Oregon's wildfire insurance may be dropped (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon Supreme Court: animals not crime victims (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Researching possible gluten-free wheat (Portland Oregonian)
Lobby day brings school spending advocates (Salem Statesman Journal)

Anticipating lower dairy food prices (Bellingham Herald)
Arlington airport issues shown in report (Everett Herald)
WSU hopes for funds to expand at Everett (Everett Herald)
Gatherings around state will focus on Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
State auditor says he's complying with fed inquest (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian, Longview News)
Clallam Commissioner Chapman opts out in '16 (Port Angeles News)
Some debt still applies to destroyed Oso homes (Seattle Times)
Clark auditor cleared of GOP charges (Vancouver Columbian)

The $900 million ask

idaho RANDY

Some people will probably be calling it the billion-dollar tax proposal – a proposal that taxpayers will be asked to impose on themselves – which may be a small exaggeration but will certainly highlight why the correct number is $900 million.

“Oh, it’s not a billion? Excuse me – you’re right, it’s a mere $900 million . . .”

The ask is for the city of Seattle, whose leading officials including the mayor are the people doing the asking, and which is large and wealthy enough to make it not beyond the pale. And it’s not that transportation needs in the city aren’t great: They surely are.

It’s just that the number is so large it may cause a lot of taxpayers to blanch and decide against it before they’ve even had a chance to look at the large number of things it would do.

Which raises another problem. The list is extensive all right (see the local section in this edition), but so much so that your eyes tend to glaze over.

Then there’s the matter of what it doesn’t include, but will be an overarching consideration during the campaign ahead: Bertha. The mega-machine, that is, still sort of stuck in the ground and falling ever further behind in its effort to create a revised Alaskan Way viaduct.

Anyone seeking to blow the new tax plan out of the water will have only to recite that one name – “Bertha” – to punch the air out of any grand new transportation plans.
Optimism in that whole arena of Seattle transportation is in short supply this year, as it was last. The timing for this thing may be less than ideal, even if the need is demonstrably, yes, quite real.

In the Briefings

Boise reserve
hoto from the cover of the Boise Reserves Management Plan, released for public review in March. (photo/via Boise Parks & Recreation Department)

Spring kicks in with sadly diminished snowpack, and the legislature comes to grips with budget issues.

Transportation funding and school budgets (and especially the sub-component of teacher pay) are on deck this week at the Idaho Legislature.