Writings and observations

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)

Looking at the next round of major school tests (Boise Statesman)
Ness credited with fixing Transportation Department (Boise Statesman)
St. Al’s criticizes Lt Luke’s Weiser takeover (Boise Statesman)
Jefferson’s Restoring Integrity Project matters (IF Post Register)
Looking at Idaho health care costs (Lewiston Tribune)
Kerby juggles scholarship legislation (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho jobless rate falls to lowest in 7 years (TF Times News)
Cannabis oil test bill still alive (TF Times News)
Legislators still pursue federal lands takeover bill (TF Times News)

2-wheel vehicles could run reds under bill (Eugene Register Guard)
Crime victims falsely notified of prisoner releases (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
Drought brings some federal assistance (Medford Tribune, KF herald & News)
Police getting trained for mental health issues (Medford Tribune)
School advocates blast Democratic state budget (Medford Tribune)
Looking back on Kitzhaber’s final days (Portland Oregonian)
Food stamp program working with food farm (Salem Statesman Journal)

State auditor inquiry continues (Bellingham Herald)
Re-evaluating Port Orchard weekend foot ferry (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing Oso slide at one year (Seattle Times, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Olympian)
What’s happening with Cowlitz casino? (Longview News)
Very low snowpack in Washington (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Avista Utilities considering a power rate increase (Spokane Spokesman)
Rivers talks of supporting transport package (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

For the last couple of decades, much of the work at the Idaho Legislature during the opening weeks has been devoted to examining the state’s administrative rules – those proposed or tentatively adopted during the previous year – and deciding which if any should be rejected.

Usually there are a few, and there are this year. The legislature’s work on administrative rules is stretching out all the way to the end of the session this time; several concurrent resolutions (the legislative tool for acting on administrative rules) calling for rejections were introduced as recently as last week, when lawmakers theoretically were preparing for adjournment. (Don’t place any bets on that happening this side of April, by the way.)

After lawmakers finish parsing through fat binders of densely written legalese, which is some of the less-known and more tedious work they do, a relative handful of rules usually wind up facing possible rejection. Generally, these are rules which have drawn complaints or concerns from someone, whether the regulated, the regulators, legal counsel or someone else. At this writing, 11 such rejections have been proposed, and several of those have cleared the legislature.

Legislative oversight of the rules makes sense. Developed and published by state agencies, these rules have the effect of law, and they are imposed through the authority of laws passed by the legislature. They do it that way because most state laws are relatively general, even a little vague, and that’s not a criticism. It’s the business of the legislature to set the policy, not so much to bury itself deeply in the weeds of administrative rules, where things really get, ah, specific.

Very specific. Very detailed.

Here’s an example of a rule proposed for legislative rejection, from the “non-technical” (that is, reader-friendly) description offered by the agency: “The Board of Veterinary Medicine issues certifications to qualified veterinary technician applicants. Current rule provides several ways a certified veterinary technician (CVT) applicant can demonstrate completion of the educational requirements for certification. Two of the existing methods for an applicant to satisfy these requirements are to submit evidence of graduation from a veterinary technology program equivalent to a program approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association or, if a foreign graduate, graduation from a program of veterinary medicine from a foreign school approved by the Board. The Board has determined that it lacks the expertise and means to adequately evaluate whether a non-accredited CVT program is equivalent to an accredited AVMA program or to approve foreign schools of veterinary medicine. To ensure uniformity in entry-level knowledge of certified veterinary technicians in Idaho, IDAPA 46.01.01.100 is being amended to delete these provisions.”

Some rules do have larger application. Of one Department of Water Resources rule a statement of purpose remarked, “This rule was rejected in committee because it eliminated the current boundary lines of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, and not enough technical data was available at the present time for the Department of Water Resources to accurately evaluate the underground water sources available in the additional territory added to the ESPA to define the effects on the various sections of the Aquifer.” Maybe that’s all true, but is the legislature really the right body to provide the kind of technical review that resolution contemplates?

That’s the sort of thing which occupies a large chunk of the limited time span of Idaho legislative sessions – not general policy, decisions about going in this direction rather than that, but evaluating exactly what education standards should be needed for jobs like veterinary technician applicants. Is this a useful way for legislatures to spend their limited time in Boise?

Seems as though there should be a better way.

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Idaho Idaho column

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)

About climate change in Idaho’s mountains (Boise Statesman)
City of North Bonneville running its own pot shop (Boise Statesman)
State road funding bill dies in House (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Memorial calls for federal judge impeachments (Lewiston Tribune, TF Times News)
Teacher pay bill funds some consensus (Lewiston Tribune)
Planning for parks in Nampa, Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
New concealed carry bill moves ahead (Nampa Press Tribune)
Buhl Herald newspaper will close (TF Times NEws)

Bear paws inquiry underway at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Good salmon fishing at Oregon coast this year (KF Herald & News)
New asphalt plant gets planning approval (Medford Tribune)
Brown announces drone range funds (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cops planning for more stoned drivers (Pendleton E Oregonian)
GMO potatoes, apples get FDA ok (Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton nearing pot shop rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Ethics, transparency bills stall at legislature (Portland Oregonian)
Federal drought aid offered (Portland Oregonian)
Max will try pay-to-enter at two new Orange stops (Portland Oregonian)

Impact statement on coal terminal will take a year (Bellingham Herald)
Bill would add fiscal note to initiatives (Bremerton Sun)
Stillamguamish Valley pushes on (Everett Herald)
Snohomish County may yet change building rules (Everett Herald)
Homeless at shelter told not to call cops (Longview News)
FDA okays some GMO apples, potatoes (Olympian)
Federal inquiry into state auditor expands (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Will drought emergency areas grow? (Vancouver Columbian)
Feds ordered to pay farmer attorney fees (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

It has been six months since a failed California carpenter,who has been hustling for public office in Shoshone County since the day he arrived, terminated my print newspaper career, aided and abetted by a clerk-typist. This, after more than 40 good years in the game exposing crooked people, ranting and raving, and other fun duties.

I never saw this sucker-punch coming and it still hurts and bleeds, and every day and night it makes me wonder if I deserved all the national, regional and state awards I have received from my peers. Oddly, I hold the son of the California carpenter, and the spouse of the clerk-typist, in high regard.

But whither?

Where will truth be spoken to power in our town? Who will give voice to an exhausted miner or a wrung-out Walmart clerk? The unions cannot do it; they’ve shot themselves in the foot, padded their executives’ pockets and looted pension funds too many times.

Indeed, whither?

In my naivety, I believed newspapers would carry this load. They have not and will not. This is not about me. There are many far greater journos than I, but they’re not working in the trade anymore, either. We are unemployable. ‘You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Lousy movie but a great line.

Again, whither?

Print is dead, and it’s the only trade I’ve ever known. There is nothing like watching a block-long Goss or Cleveland press roll to a halt and the pressmen re-plate Page One at 11 o’clock at night with your story, the one you knew would rock the town and toss some bums out of office, and watch that baby fire back up.

The party is over. That’s not a newspaper you’re picking off the front porch in the morning, fuelled by the fire of young men and women who actually gave a damn about your town. It is a revenue-seeking device, counting upon your ignorance and absence of curiosity.

Once again, whither?

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Bond

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)

Health insurance costs rise again this year (Boise Statesman)
Instant racing repeal progresses (Boise Statesman)
Looking at snowpack levels for spring (Lewiston Tribune)
Palouse aquifer committee onsiders water supply (Moscow News)
Pullman police argue need for more officers (Moscow News)
Better picture on veteran employment (Nampa Press Tribune)
Career ladder bill gets a hearing (Nampa Press Tribune)
FabriKal of Michigan will build Burley plant (TF Times News)

UO bears down on meningits shots (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath hoping for new air service (KF Herald & News)
Brown visits Pendleton, talks housing (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wyden seeks extension of power line input (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Stakes to be lowered in school test under bill (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Background released on Marshall stalking case (Portland Orgonian)
Looking at new motor voter laws (Salem Statesman Journal)

Calls for fines after BNSF train leakage (Bellingham Herald)
Home of state auditor searched by feds (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bellingham Herald, Olympian)
Pay raises for teamsters, management approved (Bremerton Sun)
Harvey field airport considers expansion (Everett Herald)
WA senators talk about Oso aftermath (Everett Herald)
No renovations at Clatskanie coal dock (Longview News)
New superintendent hired at Tunwater schools (Olympian)
Clallam’s economic growth council dissolves (Port Angeles News)
Seattle may ban smoking in city parks (Seattle Times)
State looks to increase oversight of logging (Seattle Times)
Big part of Bertha rises to Seattle ground (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark moves ahead on big rapid transit (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima election system still in court wrangle (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima clerk agrees to new records system (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

At #MJBAJobFair 2015 on a panel about working in a legal pot shop, the Mayor of Cannabis City, James Lathrop, shares what it has been like to open and operate the first marijuana retail store in Seattle.

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Washington

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)

Looking at Harris Ranch expansion (Boise Statesman)
Reformers press ahead at Lewiston youth homes (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislative leaders struggle with adjournment (Lewiston Tribune)
Schools at Latah graduate more than state on average (Moscow News)
WSU seeks new entryway project (Moscow News)
Teacher pay bill both rises, falls in Idaho House (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
House floor considers transportation bill (Nampa Press Tribune)
Anti-bully bill moves in legislature (Pocatello Journal)
Another version of concealed carry bill emerges (Pocatello Journal)
Issues raised with new high school grad system (TF Times News)

Balderas named new Eugene school superintendent (Eugene Register Guard)
6th UO student may have meningococcal virus (Eugene Register Guard)
New call center opens at Eugene in April (Eugene Register Guard)
House votes against drone-aided hunting (KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Ghost hunters investigating Klamath county building (KF Herald & News)
Medford board questions history textbook (Medford Tribune)
Jackson County proposes new library building deal (Medford Tribune)
Public records law in Oregon called weak (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Brown will talk drones on visit to Pendleton (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New bill would background nearly all gun transfers (Portland Oregonian)
Looking at religious uynaffiliated in Portland (Portland Oregonian)
Using goats to go after weed problems (Salem Statesman Journal)

Mt Baker ski area won’t reopen as planned (Bellingham Herald)
Dog leashing rules change on Bainbridge Island (Bremerton Sun)
Heavy dusts, some wildfires expected in east (Kennewick Herald)
Salmon, others at risk over ocean warming (Longview News)
State Auditor Kelley’s home searched by feds (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Port Angeles now has pot shops (Port Angeles News)
Clallam continues developing pot rules (Port Angeles News)
Seattle mayor seeks $900m transport levy (Seattle Times)
Spokane inmate acted as pimps from jail (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane cops have varied racial distribution (Spokane Spokesman)
New judge named at Clark County (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima County starts work on redistricting (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

The counter-attack by the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce boosters of the Idaho National Lab, orchestrated by the Department of Energy, against former Idaho governors Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus for blowing the whistle on current Governor Butch Otter’s attempt to give a waiver from the 1995 Batt Agreement on the importation of two shipments of commercial spent fuel rods for research purposes is missing some key points.

For those still trying to understand objectively what this is all about, there are three phrases they should keep uppermost in mind. Phrase one comes from the Tom Cruise movie a few years back, A Few Good Men. Cruise plays a young Navy JAG officer and he is grilling on the witness stand in a trial a tough Marine colonel played by Jack Nicholson.

At a key moment he challenges the colonel to tell the truth. Nicholson rears back and with the meanest demeanor of total disdain snarls back at Cruise, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Phrase one.

Phrase two is one of the best statements ever uttered by former President Ronald Reagan: Trust but verify!

Phrase three is a political truism: Politics most often is about dealing with perceptions which are based on emotions which often trump facts.

Critics of Andrus and Batt are busy engaging in raising “straw dog” arguments that play with words and semantics, all designed to divert attention from the real issues. Or, they’ll find one nit that may be incorrect and immediately conclude that invalidates their entire thesis.

So one can read that spent fuel rods are not waste and that research on the commercial spent fuel rods is all part of an expanding research role for the site that will generate a couple hundred million dollars over ten years, and, oh yes, more jobs And don’t those former governors know that the spent rods are solid materials, so they can’t possibly migrate to the aquifer and pollute it?

Here are some truths that the INL booster types cannot handle:

1) Phil Batt authored the 1995 DoE/Navy/Idaho Agreement in which he skillfully brought to a successful to conclusion an effort begun by Govenor Andrus.. They know what it says and what it means far better than than the current overnor, Butch Otter.

2) Absent Yucca Mountain there is no national repository for radioactive material. Whether one calls it research material or waste, it’s radioactive and once here odds are it will be here for a long, long time.

3) Andrus and Batt care far more about the future well-being of the site than all the Idaho Falls INL boosters put together, including Governor Otter, Congressman Mike Simpson, Senator Mike Crapo and State Senator Bart Davis. Why? Because they see far over the horizon better than the booster types and what they see is that the more the site becomes the de facto repository the less there will be a research mission.

Here are some truths under the second phrase:

1) You can trust Andrus and Batt to care far more about the future of Idaho than you can the Department of Energy, or an indifferent Governor Otter.

2) The Department of Energy has repeatedly, going back fifty years, failed to meet deadlines, at times deliberately misled, and in general has an abysmal record with regard to keeping its word. Why would any sane person keep positing trust or give any credence to anything they say? With them the end justifies the means.

3) Verification mandates that the state keep a wary eye on the management at INL for past history is revealing. Remember a few years back when DoE tried to modify the definition of “all” in the Batt agreement, as in the requirement that the federal government had to remove ALL radioactive material from above the aquifer by 2035? Much to DoE’s chagrin a Federal District judge ruled “All” means ALL.

Despite this Federal District Judge’s ruling there are credible reports that the Citizenas Oversight Committee is currently hotly debating a DoE desire to forego having to dig up and remove ground at the INTEC site and the ATR complex. There are additional reports that Idaho DEQ may have already signed off on this newest DoE effort to subvert the Batt Agreement.

Finally, some truths under phrase three:

1) Some trace amounts of carcinogenic materials may have already touched the aquifer,

2) The former governors are dead-on correct when they point out how vulnerable the “downstream” ag industry is to a potential charge that potatoes, alfalfa and other crops which draw water from the Snake River and the aquifer could someday be contaminated by larger amounts of radioactive material. Even the misperception of that could kill frmers in the Magic Valley.

3) There’s a growing perception in the rest of Idaho that the INL and its largely southeast Idaho boosters don’t give a damn about the rest of the state, as long as they get the reward and someone else takes all the risk.

The question remains on the table: Can the critics of Governors Batt and Andrus really handle the truth?

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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)

Redfish Lake marina docks need replacement (Boise Statesman)
More solar power ahead for Idaho Power (Boise Statesman)
Extra $92 million appears in Idaho revenues (Lewiston Tribune)
Sea changes may impact salmon diets (Lewiston Tribune)
Administration head Luna may resign (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow police consider diversity training (Moscow News)
County officials look at Syringa park (Moscow News)
Concealed carry bill goes through more changes (Nampa Press Tribune)
Major snow geese die-off in east Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
Contractors often not bound by public records law (TF Times News)

Judge looks at release of hatchery fish (Eugene Register Guard)
Large investor in UO apartment complex (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath area hit with ‘extreme’ drought (KF Herald & News)
Massive Medford police, gunman standoff (Medford Tribune)
Drought is on, but so is E Oregon planting (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton okays $1.7m for airport (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Attorney plans Oregon right to work initiative (Portland Oregonian)
United Streetcar falls short of expectations (Portland Oregonian)
Unemployment in Oregon falls to 5.8% (Salem Statesman Journal)

Part of Bellingham port area may be rebuilt (Bellingham Herald)
Bremerton plans heavy work on thoroughfare (Bremerton Sun)
Plans call for raising Narrows tolls two times (Bremerton Sun)
Water committee in Longview considers options (Longview News)
Study finds $15 wages not hurting restaurants (Seattle Times)
UW study finds breast biopsy results often wrong (Seattle Times)
Hotel finances raise questions at Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark area seeks $9.3m for capital efforts (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima asks review of city districts decision (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

February, 1865, emissaries from the North and South were meeting secretly, trying to set terms for ending America’s Civil War. Killing continued on the battlefields. But talks continued in private meeting places. And it was the results of those talks that brought an end to the killing in April, 1865.

Imagine this alternate scenario. Imagine that 47 members of the then-U.S. Congress wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in February, 1865, warning him any deal he cut with President Lincoln to end the war would not be binding – that Lincoln would not be president forever – that the next Congress could (and likely would) void any agreement arrived at in the current negotiations.

That didn’t happen to Lincoln. But it has to Barack Obama. In an effort almost perfectly defined in the word “sedition,” 47 Republican senators very publically wrote the leaders of Iran that any agreement reached in current multi-nation efforts to keep Iran from owning nuclear weapons could – and might – be ended by Congress. Further, such agreement negotiated would not likely last beyond the Obama presidency.

Reaction – nearly all of it surprise, anger, disgust and negative for what those 47 did – is raining down in this country and in many abroad. The action was unprecedented, dangerous, unnecessarily divisive, wrong, just plain stupid. And it might’ve been illegal.

Ironically named for a Republican, the Logan Act, created in 1799, has seldom been used. In sum, it prohibits U.S. citizens from negotiating directly with other nations on behalf of the American government. It specifically prohibits “correspondence … with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government … in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” Whether the Act would apply in this case depends on which lawyer you’ve talked to last. Some “yes.” Some “no.”

Several incidents where Logan could’ve been applied have occured in recent years though no one was charged. One was when Rev. Jesse Jackson went to Cuba and Nicaragua in 1984, while President Reagan was involved in his secret deal with Iran to trade American prisoners for military hardware. Jackson was threatened, but that was it.

The second was Idaho’s own international publicity seeker and professional interloper – the late former Republican Cong. George Hansen. He trotted off to Iran in the ‘80’s to be a one man negotiating team. He got lots of publicity but – like most everything he did – the effort was mostly for self-aggrandizement. No charges.

This most recent attempt to kneecap the President also touches Idaho in a direct way. Both U.S. Senators signed on. I’ve known each for more than 40 years. The participation of James Risch doesn’t surprise except his name is out there on this and his usual modus operandi is to do his deeds behind your back. This time – 3rd name, right column, second page.

Mike Crapo’s participation is also not surprising though, a few years ago when he seemed to be thinking more clearly, he likely would’ve kept a lower profile and not publically signed such an odorous document. This is another personal disappointment in how far to the right he’s drifted since his more effective earlier days as a Senator and – previously – in the Idaho Legislature. This time, 4th name, right column, second page.

Though real damage to our international credibility and trustworthiness has been done, it’s unlikely there’ll be legal action against the 47 miscreants. Some should. But it won’t. They’ve undercut efforts of this president and others to follow him. Their arrogance has publically demonstrated how little they really know about our U.S. Constitution – to say nothing about the totality of their own job descriptions and the balance of powers of American government.

Perhaps there was a fitting irony when one of Iran’s leaders – with a proper American university pHd in government – had to publically correct the 47 and accurately define for them the limitations members of Congress have in such international affairs. In fact, of the two dozen or so at the top of Iran’s political system, about half have attended U.S. educational institutions. More of them speak and understand English than any of the 47 speak or understand things Iranian.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton – self-acknowledged primer cord in this foreign affairs bomb – has been a senator for less than two months. You’ll probably still find bread crumbs scattered on the floor from his senate seat to the men’s room so he doesn’t have an accident. His publically demonstrated ignorance of the duties of his office – and of the role of the Senate as one-half of the legislative branch of government – are not surprising. He exhibited the same vacuous abilities in the U.S. House for several years. But, there he was one of 435 – not one of 100.

Cotton is the poster child for what’s wrong in our Congress. Empty-headed, self-serving, ignorant of protocol or responsibility, operating in an ideological vacuum with no sense of compromise or give-and-take required of successful politicians. He comes from the same intellectually-challenged brood as Imhofe, Bachman, Irish, Lee, Cruz, Ghomert, etc.

Their single-minded goal in life was to get to Congress. Having achieved that, the single-minded goal is now staying in Congress at all costs – including abusing the electoral system to assure their “permanence.” Now, with Republican-controlled state legislatures rigging local election laws in their favor, the likelihood of getting rid of them grows dimmer with each passing year.

The far right has been a cancer on the body politic for too many years. Where members were previously just a damned nuisance, some – like Cotton – have now become dangerous in their disregard of both law and protocol. This latest bomb-throwing could well sink hopes of a peaceful no-nuke agreement if not actually light the political fuse for a new international war. Such activities by these – and their equally as uninformed ilk across the rotunda – have now slopped over into dangerous, life-threatening places where they don’t belong.

Our peace – our security – even our lives – cannot afford the likes of Tom Cotton. And, with their signatures on this inflammatory document, the likes of Crapo and Risch, either.

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Rainey