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)

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)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

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.

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Oregon Oregon column

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.

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Briefings

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)

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)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

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.”

Among those of us who are aware of the danger out there in the Pacific, I can’t tell you how others reconcile living here – waiting for “that day.” But here’s how I handle it.

When it comes, I hope me and mine go in the first large tidal wave. ‘Cause there ain’t gonna be much of a life left for survivors. If there are any.

For many years in my Air Force life, I was stationed at Strategic Air Command bases in various locations. All were high on the missile targeting list of the old Soviet Union. The last several years were in the underground command post near Omaha. Since all U.S. intercontinental nuclear operations were controlled there, we knew we were in the top three or four on that Soviet target list.

During those years, the biggest scam going in this country was building underground “shelters” in your backyard. For what? To marginally survive six or seven months and come up to what? Radiation so high you’d die in a week. No food left. No potable water. Not even healthy air! Survive for what? How?

In the military at that time, unless your dad was a member of Congress who could get you assigned far, far away, you learned to live with “swords” like that hanging over your daily lives in many places. Part of the job. The lives of your nearby family, too. Trained by the military in the after-effects of nuclear blasts, it wasn’t so much surviving as it was deciding when you wanted to go. And how. I chose quick!

To some of us, that same sort of mindset is handy when thinking of tsunami’s and 9.0 quakes and immense tidal waves. Yes, there are days when life inland seems a smarter, safer way to live. Then, you think, “What are the odds? Today? This week? This month? This year?”

Maybe when we were in our 20’s or 30’s, living near the Cascadia Plate would’ve meant rethinking the decision that brought us to the water’s edge. Maybe. But, when the years you’ve got left can probably be counted on your fingers, the lure of blue skies, warm temps, crazy-but-beautiful coastal storms and all that beach-time can bring you to a different conclusion.

So, to my reader/friend who thought I was holding out on describing the tsunami dangers, now you know what some of us know. But you’re still 450 miles inland in Boise. We’re still at ground zero. And it’s not so bad.

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Rainey

jorgensen W. SCOTT
JORGENSEN

 
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.

There’s the aforementioned Mark Hatfield, who was governor and U.S. Senator, and Oregon’s most famous governor, Tom McCall.

Then there’s our last Republican governor, Vic Atiyeh … though he didn’t like that phrase. He preferred “most recent,” in the hopes that we will again, someday, have another Republican governor.

I was fortunate enough to conduct a series of interviews with Governor Atiyeh before he passed away last July. Transcripts of those talks comprise the bulk of my book, Conversations with Atiyeh, which is available on Amazon.
Let me tell you a little bit of what I was able to learn from our “most recent” Republican governor.

Vic was a first-generation American of Syrian heritage, who grew up during the Great Depression in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Portland.

While attending Washington High School, he was nominated by his fellow students to represent them in student government, and did.

Something similar happened many years later, in 1958, when his fellow citizens asked him to run for the Oregon House.

For his first race, he raised under $400, and had $100 left over by the time it was over. He and his supporters even made their own lawn signs.

Throughout his entire six-year stint in the House, he and the Republicans were in the minority. They eventually regained the majority in the House, but by then, Vic had moved over to the Senate … where he was again a member of the minority party.

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and the disastrous 1976 election, Republicans in the Oregon Senate became a super-minority….more like a super-duper minority.

The 1977 legislative session was the year of the famed “phone booth caucus,” where there were so few Republicans in the Senate that they could literally and physically fit inside a phone booth.

I work in the Senate. I’m there every day. And I guarantee you that our current caucus could not fit in a phone booth.

When I asked Governor Atiyeh what his favorite memory of serving in the legislature was, he replied that it was as a member of the phone booth caucus.

He told me that despite being in the super-duper minority, he and his fellow Senate Republicans were still able to have a positive impact on that session. They didn’t pick fights they couldn’t win; they knuckled down and did the hard work in committee to make bad bills better, and stopped the really bad ones from becoming law.

More importantly, though, he and the other members of his caucus went on to do great things. Aside from a future governor, that group produced a Congressman, a state treasurer and state Supreme Court justice.

By that point, Vic had already had what would be his first, last and only loss, when he ran for governor against Robert Straub in 1974. He won their rematch four years later, though, and assumed the state’s highest office in 1979.

The state and the nation were in pretty bad shape economically at that point. High interest rates had the effect of crippling the housing market, which in turn devastated Oregon’s timber-dependent economy. Governor Atiyeh made it a point to diversify our economy, and placed particular emphasis on areas like tourism, viticulture, international trade and technology. All of these industries continue to thrive in this state to this very day.

He decided to run for a second term as governor in 1982. That year, he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature faced multiple special sessions, in which they had to make very surgical budget cuts and raise taxes to balance the budget.

Those were the circumstances when he won re-election, in a landslide. I asked him, 32 years later, how he pulled it off.

He told me that he was honest with the public about what was going on and what was being done to fix it all. And if the results of the election are any indicator, they believed him.

Just over a year ago, Governor Atiyeh was the keynote speaker at an event put on by the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce. The theme of his speech was “How to Use Statesmanship and Compromise.” I was able to attend, and captured his remarks. They comprise a full chapter in my book.

Governor Atiyeh provided much good advice that day, all of which is applicable to the present as well as the future.

He said that once you’re elected, you should approach every decision as if you never plan to run for anything again. Doing that makes it much easier to determine if a law, bill or a policy is good for the public and the people you are representing.

In our conversations, Governor Atiyeh told me that if people perceive that you want a position too badly when you’re running for it, that you are very likely to lose because of that. Similarly, if you think you can’t lose, you run a very high risk of losing.

Much of the wisdom Governor Atiyeh shared with me was based on common sense, which now seems so rare as to be some sort of superpower.

A lot of people don’t know this, but as a young man, Vic Atiyeh had received an offer to play professional football for the Green Bay Packers. This was following his career as a lineman for Washington High and for the University of Oregon Ducks.

But he ultimately turned it down. His father had passed away by then, and his twin brothers were overseas fighting in World War II. It was up to Vic to run the family business, and it never occurred to him to do otherwise, because it was the right thing to do.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. One of the things that inspired Vic to run for state representative was this legislative newsletter that was put together for business owners. It stated that nothing would be done about a particular problem because it was an election year. This upset Vic, who took the position that if something is a problem, you should solve it, and it shouldn’t matter if it’s an election year or not.
There’s one last bit of his wisdom that I would like to share with you.

The story I started off with was from the biography of former Oregon Governor Robert Straub. He dealt Vic Atiyeh the only electoral loss of his entire career when he won the governorship in 1974. The two faced off again four years later, in 1978, but Vic won their rematch.

Yet despite all of that, who do you suppose it was that wrote the foreword for the Straub biography? None other than Vic Atiyeh. That’s because he never viewed Straub as the enemy; they were both simply running for the same office at the same time.

Now that I’ve covered the past, I want to shift gears and talk about the present.

The 2015 legislative session is underway. Democrats have a supermajority in the Senate and a 35-25 majority in the House, one seat shy of a supermajority. Democrats also, at this point in time, hold every single statewide elected office and all but one of our five Congressional seats.

How did we get here, and what are we doing wrong?

Well, I have a few theories.

One is that the same messaging that we’ve been using for years is not resonating with the average Oregonian, and never will. My theory about this was reinforced last spring, when I was part of a team that did focus groups all over the state, and saw firsthand the reactions that people of all demographics had to that messaging.
Put quite simply, we cannot continue to be oblivious to the fact that we have been tone deaf to the electorate.
Telling poor people that they’re poor because they’re lazy is not working, and we need to stop.

When we talk about jobs and the economy, the public has been conditioned, by the Democrats, to hear that we’re saying that we want more tax cuts for the rich and big corporations. We reinforce this perception by talking about such legislative priorities as cutting the capital gains tax.

What if we instead talked about those same issues by using phrases like workforce development or labor force participation?

We all know that the unemployment rate is not a true indicator of what is really going on. It has gone down. But the labor force participation rate is still very low.
We keep talking about food stamps. But how about the real problem—hunger? We have one of the highest hunger rates in the entire nation! That needs to be the focus of our messaging, not food stamps. A lot of people throughout this state have relied on them, and are relying on them to survive. It makes us look disconnected from their struggles when we talk about food stamps instead of hunger.

Messaging is one problem. Another is that we don’t even try to engage the minority population anymore.

Democrats do, even though their policies hurt minorities, especially the poor ones. All indications are that the Democrats are completely taking them for granted. But you know what? They at least show up to have that conversation with them. We don’t. We just ignore them.

This one’s pretty easy. We really, really, really need to stop fighting each other.

Eating our own also isn’t working. We tend to beat each other bloody in every single primary election. The victor who eventually emerges becomes easy pickings for the Democrat, whose opposition research has already been done for them.

While we were all busy fighting each other, the Democrats defied national trends and actually made gains.

So this is the bottom line about the present. This legislative session is very likely to be very awful. Bad bills are going to pass and be signed into law, and none of us are going to like it.

Low carbon fuel standards is specifically and directly mentioned in a federal subpoena. Yet it’s been rammed through by Democrats anyway.

But you know what? Laws can be changed. Bad laws previously passed can be repealed. New laws can be passed to limit and restrict the power of government, restore the rights of citizens and protect them from overzealous agencies.

None of this will happen until we start winning elections.
Now that I’ve covered the past and the present, I would like to discuss the future. It has the potential to be bright, because there is a new generation of conservative leaders emerging here in Oregon and beyond.

This was the subject of my first book, Transition. It detailed the struggles that I went through, and saw everyone I know go through, as a result of the Great Recession. However, those grim realities were offset by a sense of optimism that I obtained by watching people my age and younger get elected to public office.

One of the central figures of that book is former state Rep. Wally Hicks from Grants Pass, a dear friend of mine.
Locally, my own state Representative, John Davis, is younger than I am.

There are other young leaders, like Medford City Councilor Eli Matthews, another friend. Washington State Representative Brandon Vick is another.

Some of these young leaders have even appeared here at the Dorchester Conference in recent years. One is Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler from Washington.
The 2014 elections saw a continuation of this trend. Southern Oregon is now represented in the Legislature by Dallas Heard and Duane Stark.

A 24-year-old by the name of Melanie Stambaugh is starting her first term in the Washington Legislature after knocking off a five-term incumbent. An 18-year-old woman won a seat in the West Virginia legislature in a landslide to an opponent more than twice her age. She’s now the youngest lawmaker in the country.

There are more.

Aundre Bumgardner is 20 and serves in the Connecticut legislature. AJ Edgecomb is in the Maine Legislature. There’s Drew Christensen from Minnesota, Kayla Kessinger from West Virginia, Avery Bourne from Illinois, Alex Looysen from North Dakota, Jennifer Sullivan from Florida and Sarah Lazloffy from Montana.

They were all born in the 1990s.

There’s 30-year-old Elise Stefanik from New York. She is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

What do these young leaders have in common? They are all Republicans, each and every one of them.

This is a great example of something that is working that we need to keep doing. Instead of simply assuming that young people will vote Democrat, we need to reach out to them and make them part of the process, and part of the solution.

In a nutshell, here’s more of what we need to do.

We need to do a better job of recruiting quality candidates who are a good fit for their districts. We need to develop succession planning, so we can ensure good candidates for all those districts far into the future.

We need to come up with better messaging and new issues.
How about affordable housing? It’s reaching a crisis point in places like Bend, and is a real bread-and-butter pocketbook issue that has been made worse by policies insisted upon by the Democrats.

Do you suppose that deliberately restricting the amount of buildable land through the use of an invisible line called an Urban Growth Boundary might have something to do with artificially high housing costs?

We need to articulate what we would do differently than the Democrats once elected. Criticizing their ideas hasn’t really gotten us anywhere. We need to do something different.

We need to come up with a vision, and then start to tell voters about it.

So what will be the future of the Republican Party in Oregon? It depends.

We could learn from our mistakes and change our course, just like the Democrats did here in the 1950s. Or we could become irrelevant, and go the way of past political parties like the Federalists or the Whigs.

The truth is, the future is ultimately up to each and every one of us, and depends on what we’re all willing to do to support Republican candidates.

Nobody likes losing, and I understand that some of you may be demoralized after the last election. But we’ve had the last few months to lick our wounds.

Now it’s time to get back at it, and let me tell you, nothing is more motivating than a bad legislative session, in which the other party completely dominates the process.

At the end of the day, we need to provide a better alternative than the other guys. We need to build our candidates up. We should be able to win based on the strength and merits of our ideas, because they are better.
I’m going to use a sports metaphor.

There are some similarities between football and politics. Both are full-contact sports, though bad behavior tends to be penalized in football these days, along with just about everything else.

But when the season starts to really take off, there are two paths a team can take.

One is to depend on the failures of other teams. If they lose, it improves your position, and maybe, just maybe, you can get into the playoffs if enough other teams play poorly enough for long enough that this strategy works.

The alternative is to control your own destiny, to be so good that it doesn’t matter if your conference rivals win or lose, because you left them in the dust long ago.
We need our candidates to run for office, instead of just running against the Democrats.

I’m going to close with a personal story of sorts.

There’s a part of my wallet where I keep the things that are most dear to me. This includes pictures of my wife and kids, like the ultrasound of my son, who is now 7.
It also includes a horoscope from a 2012 Free Will Astrology that’s featured in every issue of Willamette Week. Here’s what it says:

The most likely way to beat your competitors is not to fight them, but rather to ignore them and compete only against yourself.

Perhaps we could take this approach?

Republicans in Oregon are at a crossroads after a string of stinging losses. We can either adapt, learn from those losses, cultivate our next generation of leaders, give them the support they deserve, and bring them up to be principled and willing to do what is right by this state and its people, rather than what’s convenient for the pursuit of power. That’s one path.

The other is to go the way of the past political parties that exist only in the pages of our history books.

We all have to be willing to do what it takes to change our fortunes.

Once upon a time, the Democrats were way worse off than we are. And look at them now.

We can turn it around, but we have to work together to make that happen.

Right now, this state is not living up to its potential. We all know it. This has been because of a lack of leadership and a resulting culture of complacency.

I don’t know about you, but I would like to see Oregon lead the nation in something other than hunger!
Our state is considered poor—but there’s no reason for that. We have an abundance of resources here, and our state could, and should, become prosperous beyond our wildest imagination.

But in order for that to happen, we need to lead by example, cultivate true leadership, create a positive new vision and get this state back on track once and for all.
We have the ability to change history. It’s happened before, and it can happen again, so let’s get started!

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Jorgensen

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)

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)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

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?

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Idaho Idaho column

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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)

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First Take

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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.”

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