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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)

Telemedicine/abortion bill moves ahead (Boise Statesman)
New bonds will fund a number of school projects (Boise Statesman)
'Constitutional carry' bill stopped (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
State, county officials urge Lowell plan change (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon P&Z looks at beekeeping rules (Nampa Press Tribune)
Might this be an early fire season? (Pocatello Journal)

Oregon starts new motor-voter effort (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
UO trustee questions sexualized cheer dances (Eugene Register Guard)
Another business joins in Lakeview biofuels (KF Herald & News)
Medford pot halt hasn't stopped dispensary (Medford Tribune)
Judge orders another look at Roseburg forest plan (Medford Tribune)
Another firearm background check bill surfaces (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Looking at Portland-area dog bites (Portland Oregonian)
Amanda Marshall under investigation (Portland Oregonian)
Naughton named administrative services chief (Salem Statesman Journal)

Many school bills still float in legislature (Bremerton Sun)
Federal case finds fire department discriminated (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish jail reforms generating savings (Everett Herald)
Woodland struggles with pot issue (Longview News)
I-405 tolls could hit $10 (Longview News)
President of Whitman College will lead Evergreen (Olympian)
Inslee bill seeks to tax and regulate e-cigs (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Olympic peninsula seeing snow, flood, harbor sewage (Port Angeles News)
How one Seattle school is growing grad rates (Seattle Times)
Spokane sees 43 construction projects (Spokane Spokesman)
Vancouver push for safety with oil trains (Vancouver Columbian)
Bill would seek to preserve DNA (Vancouver Columbian)
Decision time coming on how Yakima clerk operates (Yakima Herald Republic)


idaho RANDY

Two years in a row this has happened: Oregon Republicans meeting informally, in two places, in recognition of two distinct views of what their party is about.

One of these is a long-standing Oregon tradition: The Dorchester Conference, founded in part by former Senator Robert Packwood, held each year (for many years) at Seaside. It is an informal event in that it isn’t a state Republican Party event; it is rather a gathering of Republicans who come together to talk about the future of their party, and the state. It dates back decades, and regularly has featured the state’s top Republican candidates and office holders. It typically attracts around 500 people, sometimes a little more.

The other event, held deliberately at the same time, is in only its second year: A “Freedom Rally” held in the Portland metro area (this year in Portland). It seems to be attracting more people – an estimated 1,500 this year – but its message is more narrow on the political band: Social conservatism on order, what’s often shorthanded as God, guns and gays. They are a specific reaction to Dorchester, where the attending majority has been moving in more socially moderate directions; abortion rights and same-sex marriage have found support there. And the group was more than just issue activists. The state’s one Republican in higher office, Representative Greg Walden, spoke there, and about 10 Republican legislators showed up as well.

(Since the two events were just about an hour and a half apart by road, some people likely tried to hit both of them.)

Read the news reports on the two events and you’ll get two very different perspectives on what the Republican Party is about, and why this party in Oregon’s minority is having such a difficult time. A number of speakers at Dorchester underlined it: As long as the Republicans in Oregon are more deeply split than the Democrats are (and they are), they’re going to have a hard time winning much.
And if you hear the same thing at the two events in 2016, they’ll likely prove prescient.

In the Briefings

Friday Harbor
Measurements were collected from the dock at Friday Harbor Labs, which also is used for experiments that simulate future ocean acidification levels. Water was also collected from the pumphouse, the small brown building in the background on the left. (photo/J. Meyer, University of Washington)


The Washington legislature is reaching its cutoff points; by the end of this week, Washingtonians should have a clearer idea of what will be up for final action and what won’t. In Oregon, the legislature has slowed its pace a little, and may cool a little more this week as Republicans return from their pair of unofficial annual gatherings.

Idaho legislators have been hoping to aim for session shutdown by the end of next week, but that's looking increasing unlikely amid battles over highway funding and teacher pay.

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)

Legislators debate over new gambling options (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Moscow News)
Oil, other hazards on trains in Canyon Co (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho gas prices rise suddenly (TF Times News)

Some downtown businesses moving out (Eugene Register Guard)
TriMet looking at some fare raises (Portland Oregonian)
Republicans consider future at Dorchester (Salem Statesman Journal)
Massive storms cut power (Salem Statesman Journal)

Shortfall in Kitsap logging funds (Bremerton Sun)
Repairs ordered for leaking oil trains (Longview News)
Federal lawsuit covers jailing mentally ill (Olympian)
Tolls may go variable to $10 on north I-405 (Seattle Times)
Transit centers considered for I-90 at Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Mass of exec retirements at Washougal schools (Vancouver Columbian)
Reviewing pluses, minuses of cop body cams (Yakima Herald Republic)

Tsunami redux

rainey BARRETT


Couple of weeks ago, I wrote about we folk living with the tsunami “Sword of Damocles” off our Pacific shores here on the far west edge of Oregon. A reader/friend accused me of making light of the daily threat and said – given the 9.0 Fukushima quake – there had to be major facts I was omitting.

He’s right. I did omit. I was “making light.” So, here’s tsunami redux – the “story-behind-the-story.”

Should we get hit with a 9-point shaker, it’ll likely be because the Cascadia Subduction Plate on the ocean floor about 50 miles out and the San Juan Plate from the north either collide or one suddenly moves atop the other. The same deadly results will probably occur either way. At the moment, Oregon State University geologists and others have evidence those plates may’ve already met and are locked. They believe that likely means pressure is building up which has no apparent means of escape short of a real blast when it can no longer be contained. Underwater seismograph evidence.

Which means, we could have a real “barn burner” of a blast – possibly that 9.0. Or more. And what would that mean?

Well, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) surmises all bridges along the coast … ALL bridges … will fail! Further, most of the bridges for 50-70 miles inland between us and Interstate 5 – which runs north and south between Washington and California – will go, too. Hundreds of major landslides. Most – if not all roads from I-5 to the coast – would be impassable. ODOT believes we on the coast would be isolated for up to three years!

We coastal folk couldn’t go north or south. We couldn’t go inland, either. Again, ODOT predicting we’d be completely cut off for three years or so.

Want more? Bonneville Power estimates all coastal communities – from Astoria to Brookings – could be without power for three to five years before the electrical infrastructure could be rebuilt. How would that affect your daily lives?

More? Well, water, sewer and other necessary services would be destroyed within the first few minutes of a major quake. No public entity is willing to even hazzard a guess about how long it would take to replace all that, too.

So, yes, I was underplaying the effects of a tsunami a couple of weeks ago. Truth is, it would be Hell! But there’s one thing that keeps most coastal dwellers calm. Most – yes. MOST – don’t know what you do now. I’ve talked to many – in church – at service clubs – socially – and the projections from ODOT and Bonneville and other agencies don’t come up in the conversations. Even when you ask. Sort of “What-I-don’t-know-can’t-hurt-me,” I guess. Or, “Que Sara.” (more…)

Oregon Republicans: Next . . .

jorgensen W. SCOTT

In the Capitol

From a speech delivered at this weekend's Oregon Republican Dorchester conference at Seaside.

Once upon a time, there was a political party in a state that was so far out of power for so long, it was literally lost in the wilderness. Let me elaborate.

Out of 90 total legislative seats, this party and its members held only 15. It had not controlled the Legislature for 75 years. Some counties in this state hadn’t sent a member of that party to the Legislature in almost 85 years. That’s most peoples’ entire lifetimes.
This party didn’t have much luck with statewide offices, either — out of the state’s past 10 governors, eight had been from the opposite party. They didn’t fare any better with federal offices, as the party hadn’t elected a U.S. Senator in almost 40 years.

The party I’m talking about is the Democrats, and the state I’m talking about is Oregon.

That’s right, folks — Oregon was once a one-party state, as it arguably is now, but with Republicans completely in charge of everything.

We get so caught up in the here and now that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture and the long-term historical perspective. But the fact is, Democrats in Oregon were much further out of power, and for much longer, than Republicans are now.

This was the political landscape approximately 62 years ago, at the start of the 1953 legislative session.
It’s hard to imagine what must have happened between then and now. It begs the question: How did the Democrats turn it around? What did they do?

Well, for starters, they recognized that they had a problem and decided to do things differently. They placed greater emphasis on things like candidate recruitment, succession planning and crafting a message that resonates with the average Oregonian.

The results were almost instantaneous.

In the 1954 elections, Oregon Democrats went from 11 seats in the House to 24. They picked up some seats in the Senate.

At the federal level, they gained a Congressional seat when Edith Green defeated a young newscaster by the name of Tom McCall.

The next cycle, in 1956, could very well be remembered as the year that they turned it all around.

They took control of the House and forced a 15-15 split in the Senate. At the statewide level, they elected their first governor in almost 20 years, Robert Holmes.

The federal level proved equally successful, as they took two more Congressional seats, giving them three out of four. They also held both of Oregon’s U.S. Senate seats after that election.

The sole Republican exception to this route? Mark O. Hatfield, 34-year-old state legislator who was elected Secretary of State.

The truth is, Oregon Republicans have a strong and proud tradition of leadership. It’s a tremendous legacy, to say the least.

We follow in the footsteps of many great men. They include Charles McNary, a longtime U.S. Senator who ran for Vice President in 1940.

There’s also Doug McKay, who served as governor and was later Secretary of the Interior under my favorite president, Dwight Eisenhower. He was our last governor to resign, and did so to take that position. That’s quite a contrast from recent events. (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)

Nampa library, new version, opens (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
The growing cost of seeking open records (Boise Statesman)
Counting the homeless in N-central Idaho (Lewiston Tribune)
Looking at laws on public executive sessions (Nampa Press Tribune)
Should be mostly enough water this year (Nampa Press Tribune)
Magnida fertilizer plant progresses at Power Co (Pocatello Journal)
What's ahead for schools after bond election (TF Times News)

Legislature slows, resumes more normal pace (Eugene Register Guard)
Dorchester Republicans map route from here (KF Herald & News)
Capturing, maybe to kill, nuisance animals (Medford Tribune)
Oregon wine industry said to be worth $4b (Medford Tribune)
Long-term holds for material witnesses (Portland Oregonian)
What kind of funding for Oregon schools? (Portland Oregonian)
Wolf populations re-establishing in Cascades (Salem Statesman Journal)

New big Whatcom park, trails, planned (Bellingham Herald)
Getting expensive to seek public records (Tacoma News Tribunne, Bellingham Herald, Olympian)
Trial this week on jailing the mentally ill (Bellingham Herald)
About $338k in garbage bills unpaid at Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewig local legislators so far (Bremerton Sun)
Teenager survey on pot: Little danger seen (Longview News)
Olympics included in drought declaration (Port Angeles News)
Is Seattle's Capitol Hill losing artistic nature? (Seattle Times)
UW medical seeks certification for face transplants (Seattle Times)
WSU Spokane plans major expansions (Spokane Spokesman)
With staff cuts, Pierce jail won't serve cities (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislature considering school funding levels (Vancouver Columbian)
What to do about WA medical pot? (Vancouver Columbian)

Belated good news

idaho RANDY

The news is good. Very good.

But attached to it comes the ugly question: Did anyone figure this out earlier? If not, why not? And if so, why was the information kept under a rock?

The story here is about something gone bad abruptly gone good: the statewide contract for providing broadband service contracts for high schools. That contract, developed and signed through the Otter Administration, was the subject of bitter wrangling and battling and court fights, and finally last year was voided entirely by a state district judge. School districts around the state were warned, as recently as a few weeks ago, that their broadband access might be cut off, and no one knew exactly when it might be restored.

Hoping to patch the problem, the Idaho Legislature actually moved quickly to spend $3.6 million to keep the broadband signals alive. The money would go to the state Department of Education, which would distribute it to local school districts, each of which would have to find its own broadband supplier. It sounded like a band aid on a bullet wound.

But no: It has worked. And not only that, it has worked so well that it puts the statewide effort to shame. The broadband will not only survive, but do so in much better form than would have been the case. The Idaho Ed News site noted, for example, that “The short-term contracts — signed by school districts in the past couple of weeks — carry a projected price tag of slightly less than $2 million. Over that same time period, the defunct Idaho Education Network broadband system would have cost the state more than $3.2 million.”

Almost two-thirds of the districts and charter schools found less costly local sourcing. And many of those local sources provided much more robust broadband: “Fifty-five districts and charters were able to secure more bandwidth under their new contracts. The Jefferson County Joint District, for example, saw its broadband capacity increase from 84 megabits per second to 20,000 Mbps.”

The results have been so good that the legislature – quite rationally – now is likely to scrap the whole idea of a statewide system and just provide funding assistance for the locals.

Certainly, the local districts and the Department of Education deserve a good deal of credit for all this.

But loose-end questions remain. Spreading a service over a larger area usually means reductions in costs, so why did the statewide system cost so much more and deliver so much less than the patchwork local efforts?

Why did not one figure this out long ago?

Did no one, in developing the statewide school broadband system, look even casually at the idea of local provision and consider what the relative savings might have been? (Or might it have been that no one simply saw a financial incentive in doing it that way?)

Or if someone did figure all this out long ago . . . why is none of this coming to light until now?

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)

Garden City waterfront district almost done (Boise Statesman)
Who's living in WSU president's cottage? (Lewiston Tribune)
Fire smoldering near Kendrick area (Lewiston Tribune)
New UI provost named (Moscow News)
University of Washington fraternity accused of racism (Moscow News)
opening day today for new Nampa library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa senator pushes for marijuana extract oil (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Congress delegation seeks Lake Lowell plan change (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU replaces school symbols (Pocatello Journal)

Early spring throw bees off season schedule (Eugene Register Guard)
Keno landmark tavern closes (KF Herald & News)
Medford officials in conflict of interest on casino? (KF Herald & News)
St. Mary's school buys campus from landlord (Medford Tribune)
Farmers take issue with electric line route (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wyden questioned by Umatilla students (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing bills from NE Oregon legislators (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Motor-voter law changes situation for parties (Portland Oregonian)
US Attorney's relationship in-office reviewed (Portland Oregonian)
Civic leaders Gretchen Kafoury dies (Portland Oregonian)
Legislators still push for tougher vaccine law (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing hardware trade negotiations, ports (Bellingham Herald)
Gun club operations may be reviewed (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing defending state tax breaks at Olympia (Everett Herald)
Inslee declares drought emergency in 3 areas (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Seattle plans to take over large area for pocket park (Seattle Times)
Boeing CEO made $29m in 2014 (Seattle Times)

To govern, to obstruct

ridenbaugh Northwest

An opinion piece released on March 13 by Representative Mike Simpson, R-ID.

“The American people used their votes last year to demonstrate a strong objection to gridlock while giving a modest endorsement to the direction Congressional Republicans offered as an alternative to Democrat policies in Washington. Their confidence, however, was conditional on an expectation that Republicans would work aggressively to move our country forward.

“Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues in Congress see the election much differently. They view gridlock and obstructionism as a means to appease the politically pure and point fingers at anyone who seeks a different solution. While I agree with my colleagues on the conservative principles in this debate, I’d rather be advancing solutions to stop the President’s overreaching policies and putting forward Republican answers that thwart the Administration’s ability to rule from the executive branch.

“Instead, a faction of my Republican colleagues see obstructionist tactics like shutting down the government, or one of its most important agencies, as just another tool in the construction of a manufactured crises. This small segment of Republicans voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a vote two weeks ago at the deadline – and they represent the most irresponsible, unrealistic, and ineffective segment of our Republican caucus.

“Even worse, they’re imposing a losing strategy while we are actually winning in the courts – the legitimate, and Constitutional, venue for resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches.

“These members have no credible policy proposals to stop the President’s unlawful actions, instead they hold our national security hostage with shutdown threats, and then label any Member who opposes their strategy as “capitulating” to the President.

“They represent a segment of our caucus that would rather shut down the government than show the American people we can actually govern. They represent a segment of our caucus that would preach border security while defunding border patrol. They represent a segment of our caucus that defies the Constitution while preaching a strict adherence to its very principles. They represent a segment of our caucus that wrongly thought a government shutdown would spell the end of Obamacare. They got their shutdown. But we still have Obamacare.

“The majority of the Republican caucus has given ample opportunities for this loud minority to play-out their strategy. However, this small faction has failed to achieve any conservative victories and led our party so far astray that the Democrats have been able to exert influence in the absence of a united Republican party.

“My pro-shutdown colleagues are the same folks who pushed for immigration reform only to abandon the notion – leaving the American people on hold with a broken system, ineffective border, and overreaching President looking for any excuse to write executive actions.

“My pro-shutdown colleagues project Constitutional principles but they’re conveniently forgetting their own Constitutional responsibilities to fund the U.S. Government and, ‘provide for the common defense.’

“My pro-shutdown colleagues supported John Boehner for Speaker, before opposing him, then supporting him again, and now criticizing him. By undermining Republican leadership at every turn, the pro-shutdown minority has compromised our ability to pass conservative priorities that focuses on governing efficiently and effectively.

“The truth is my Republican colleagues and I have a critical and extremely short window of time to prove to the American people that we can govern responsibly. This brief window is our chance to demonstrate to the American people that they should look to a Republican as the next President of the United States. It’s also our chance to show that we prefer the Ronald Reagan model of taking 70-80% of what we can get…and then fighting united to get the rest in the future.”