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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)

Nampa library nearly ready to open (Boise Statesman)
Will Idaho wheat go to Cuba? (Lewiston Tribune)
Judge rejects Clearwater road management plan (Lewiston Tribune)
WA teenagers say pot easy to get (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Palouse neighbors concerned about skate park (Moscow News)
Legislators create new urban renewal committee (Nampa Press Tribune)
Senate narrowly okays driverless car testing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Broadband contractors say state owes $6m (TF Times News)
Clif Bar does grooundbraking at TF facility (TF Times News)
KMVT-TV at Twin to be sold to Gray Television (TF Times News)

Another sickened UO student (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene picks Balderas as new superintendent (Eugene Register Guard)
Swan Lake pumped storage plan at KF still a go (KF Herald & News)
Klamath college promises another year for diploma (KF Herald & News)
Medford considering pot odor issue (Medford Tribune)
Conflict of interest claimed in Coquille casino plan (Medford Tribune)
Oracle lawsuit bumped to state court (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Sexuality conference at Pendleton blasted (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Profiling Brown's approach as governor (Portland Oregonian)
Bicyclists may be allowed to run red lights (Portland Oregonian)
Why was state bounched from Kitzhaber inquiry? (Portland Oregonian)
Brown signs carbon reduction bill (Salem Statesman Journal)
Bill would simplify some name changes (Salem Statesman Journal)

Surveyed teens say pot easy to get, not harmful (Bremerton Sun)
Legislative overview story (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Bill would allow tax breaks for good jobs (Everett Herald)
Kalama goes after abandoned properties (Longview News)
Legislators consider nonprofits in political campaigns (Olympian)
WA legislators review Montana coal plant closure (Olympian)
Vaccine exemption bills die at legislature (Port Angeles News)
More teens get into e-cigarettes (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian)
Thomas Daly named to head Spokane Catholic diocese (Spokane Spokesman)
Kootenai sheriff deputies get pay raise (Spokane Spokesman)
More worker injuries in Seattle tunnel (Tacoma News Tribune)
Congressional delegation helps starfish wasting (Tacoma News Tribune)
Puyallup tribe buys cancer clinic (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co officials deliver annual address (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima plaza has parking problems (Yakima Herald Republic)

The battle is about to get ugly

trahant MARK


The battle over federal spending is about to get ugly. Real ugly.

It’s been a Republican promise to balance the federal budget within a decade. And in an election campaign that promise look soooo easy. Cut a penny here, another there, and somehow, magically, revenues match spending and there’s a balanced budget. Since Republicans now control both the House and the Senate this should be a done deal, right?

But that’s not how it happens in the real world. In the federal system there are all kinds of fiscal obligations that move through the system automatically. If a person is eligible for Medicare or Medicaid … then the money is spent. Congress doesn’t have to appropriate a cent. The automatic side of the budget is growing because Baby Boomers are older and drawing more benefits such as Social Security.

But that’s only the beginning of this complex spending debate.

The money spent on American Indians and Alaska Natives is a tiny fraction, far less than one percent of the overall budget. Yet every idea to cut federal spending ends up significantly impacting tribal communities, making it impossible for tribal leaders to plan ahead, and disrupting ongoing initiatives ranging from education to economic development. The president’s budget would benefit Indian Country.

And while there are supporters of Indian Country initiatives in Congress, the bigger issue is the overall budget and how much pressure there will be to trim spending for all every federal agencies.

The president’s budget does address the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the spending plan would have “no net effect” on the deficit in 2015 but would reduce deficits between 2016 and 2025.

But that’s not enough for those in Congress who demand a balanced budget. And even the sequester was not enough to do that.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told a Senate panel that “the reality is that balancing the budget for any sustained period is probably not in our immediate future.” The budget would have to shrink by $5.5 trillion in ten years or eight times the size of the sequester plan and 65 times the Ryan-Murray budget deal (which didn’t last long).

You might think those numbers would be big enough, deep enough, to scare off even committed Republicans. And that’s true — when it comes to Defense spending.

Defense News quoted Sen. John McCain saying he will do “whatever it takes to avert sequester on defense. I will not agree to any budget that does not stop sequestration. We just had testimony this morning that will put the lives of American men and women in uniform in danger if we continue with sequestration.”

So that’s fight number one. Republicans who want to live up to a balanced budget pledge versus Republicans who want to end the sequester — at least as far as military spending. In a lot of ways this will be a contest of wills between the House and the Senate.

So which budget will prevail? The president’s budget — at least in terms of overall spending — has no chance. Congressional budgets will be unveiled shortly and then the fight begins and we can start to wonder what kind of last minute deal will be needed to keep the government operational.

As I said, the battle over federal spending is about to get ugly.

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

Vaccine in Oregon

The bill to eliminate some vaccination exemptions failed this week. Here's a video on the subject.

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)

Boise council rejects barbed wire on greendbelt (Boise Statesman)
Snowpack stays minimal, February warm (Lewiston Tribune)
Budget panel holds off school funding, slows session (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
WA Senate votes to cut college tuition (Moscow News)
More women in area carrying guns (Moscow News)
Sheriff has concerns about new Canyon jail plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
New state transport plan introduced (Nampa Press Tribune)
Buhl voters saw fake sample ballots (TF Times News)

Pro-vaccination bill dropped at legislature (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Mail Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Eugene city may get into riverfront project (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath basin payment plan gets underway (KF Herald & News)
New secretary of state Atkins sworn in (Medford Tribune)
Jackson Co official urges pot tax vote (Medford Tribune)
Historic properties ordinance challenged (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Birds hitting wastewater building at Portland (Portland Oregonian)
Brown pushes to toughen state ethics laws (Portland Oregonian)

Members of Congress acting on sea star die-off (Bellingham Herald)
WA Senate moves to cut college tuition (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun)
New park established in North Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Bill to end personal vaccine exemption fails (Everett Herald)
Legislators moving to restore 'no child' waiver (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Passenger airline considers Port Angeles service (Port Angeles News)
WA suing Super Bowl ticket broker (Seattle Times)
Pierce County shores plan updated (Tacoma News Tribune)
McLoughlin statue will depart Washington (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima gangs cop departing for Seattle (Yakima Herald Republic)
Kittitas group concerned on water storage plan (Yakima Herald Republic)

Governor Otter just doesn’t get it

carlson CHRIS


Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s failure to understand not just the nuances but the primary purpose of the nuclear waste agreement negotiated for the state in 1995 with the Department of Energy and the Navy by Governor Phil Batt is simply appalling. It’s the people of Idaho and their descendents who are going to suffer if Governor Otter’s obsession with money trumping environmental risks warrants his unilaterally abrogating the Governor Batt 1995 agreement.

The waiver he and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are ready to allow for the importation of commercial spent fuel rods should be withdrawn or halted by a Federal district judge. It violates both the letter of the law and the spirit of the agreement.

Every citizen of Idaho, and every future Idahoan, should stand and applaud two of Idaho’s best former governors, Batt, the Republican, and Andrus, the Democrat, for coming out of retirement and dedicating themselves to reversing the folly of this successor. May the good people of Idaho recognize how extraordinary this is and rally to the cause.

As Governor Batt has pointed out recently, by a two to one margin the voters of the state ratified his agreement that states no more commercial nuclear waste is to be brought into Idaho. Furthermore, that which is here is to be gone by 2035. We know that won’t happen because work at the proposed national repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was stopped and the Obama Administration has shut it down.

Now, there are reliable reports the federal government is going to ask Idaho for a 15-year extension of that deadline to 2050. Why shouldn’t they, since in Otter they have a compliant, asleep at the switch governor who rolls over every time he’s asked to do so.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see the handwriting on the wall - any additional commercial waste, including spent fuel rods, brought to Idaho for any reason is going to be here for a long, long time stored above the Snake River Plain aquifer.

Governor Otter’s response to the announcement that his two predecessors are getting ready to go to federal court to enforce the Batt agreement was pure blarney. It was nothing but a partisan, red herring designed to divert attention to the real issue.

Yes, Governors Batt and Andrus do see storing commercial nuclear waste above the aquifer as a liability. They also understand that legitimate research will continue with plenty of what’s already there available for research. Furthermore, they can see the best insurance for continuing research activities at the site is to clean up what’s there and not let the site become the nation’s de facto nuclear garbge dump.

What doesn’t Governor Otter understand about the Batt agreement’s emphatic, unequivocal “no more commercial waste” in Idaho?”

What doesn’t Governor Otter understand about the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement that major federal actions impacting the environment have to be subject to public review and comment?

The NEPA process is to be an open, transparent process with plenty of time for citizen comments. On that point alone the former governors should prevail easily in a court of law. (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)

West Ada school bond passed (Boise Statesman)
Denate over landowners selling hunting tags (Boise Statesman)
Debate continues over transport funding bills (Nampa Preess Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
WA Senate would ban most cellphone/driving uses (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Reviewing wolves roaming Blue Mountain region (Lewiston Tribune)
Police look into hazing at UI (Moscow News)
All 5 Canyon school bond levies pass (Nampa Press Tribune)
'Add no words' concert protested by LGBT (Nampa Press Tribune)
Reviewing oil rail safety record (Pocatello Journal)
Rally held at Boise for anti-bully legislation (Pocatello Journal)
In SE Idaho, levies pass and bonds fail (Pocatello Journal)
Magic Valley school ballot issues win (TF Times News)

Dave Frohnmayer, former UO president, dies (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Reviewing city policy on filming police (Eugene Register Guard)
What to do about second floors downtown (KF Herald & News)
New program could limit irrigator expenses (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co voters okay local pot tax (Medford Tribune)
Property tax challenge by Round Up ends (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Morrow port may buy some chemical depot land (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State timber advisor had outside business (Portland Oregonian)
Governor Brown offering legislative package (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem parks offer 'angry owl' signs (Salem Statesman Journal)

Plan to ban Whatcom nonprofit funnding fails (Bellingham Herald)
Senate would restricting smartphone/drivinng use (Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Are Oso people getting aid? (Everett Herald)
Arlington-Darrington optic line finished (Everett Herald)
Letter blasts cut in Hanford cleanups (Kennewick Herald)
Longview Port turns down propane terminal plan (Longview News)
Cigarette smuggling rises along with taxes (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Olympic Mountains said to be in drought (Port Angeles News)
Jet orders rising, but it may not last (Seattle Times)
New Seattle police brass coming from outside (Seattle Times)
Legislature moves WSU closer to med school (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic)
Vancouver port in big oil terminal fight (Vancouver Columbian)

Melting pot no more

rainey BARRETT


Political divisiveness and national polarization are, in my mind, the two most destructive forces in our country today. Much has been said and written about both. But, let’s add a third: the death of the American “melting pot.”

I grew up with lots of native born kids - Mexican-American, Japanese-American, a set of Canadian twins, a couple of Jews and others thrown into that grade school. Different? Who knew? We were kids accepting the world around us as the natural order of things. Teachers often mentioned the “melting pot” of America and we were taught that was a good thing.

No more. Like the hula hoop, 78rpm records and poodle skirts, the concept of blending races, relations and even political thought in one great goulash of citizenship just a memory. We’re a poorer nation for it. Much poorer.

In the 1800's, large eastern cities grew larger and stronger with the mingling concept. A new nation was growing and work and talents of many races and creeds were needed. Then, early in the 1900's, cities became more divided along ethnic lines. Jews, Oriental, Norwegian, Irish, European and all the rest became neighborhoods of similar language, custom and religion. Still supporting the larger city concept by their labors, but evolving into more well-defined cultures in which to live. Together but separate.

Still, the idea of America being a “melting pot” persisted for a long, long time. As we grew, small communities started out mixing races and creeds. But, somewhere along the line, they started splintering.

In Pocatello, Blacks that worked the passenger trains lived east of downtown in one neighborhood. Same for railroad workers in Nampa and Boise. Early migrants coming to Idaho to work the crops set up little groups outside the established communities of Twin Falls, American Falls, Gooding, Caldwell - keeping largely to themselves.

Now we have deliberate separations. Not just neighborhoods but radio, TV channels, print media, individual dress. Even language. We’re a nation of “tribes.” The confluence of a “melting pot” has disappeared. Now there are parts of cities - not necessarily large cities, either - where races of different skin colors or religious beliefs don’t go. We’re walled out.

Something else began to divide us even deeper some years back - religious separation. Most who participate in lives of faith were taught to accept the belief practices of others. After all, our founders made it very clear this nation would not have an established religion and - in the spirit of those who first came here to avoid religious persecution - we would be tolerant and acceptive of all others. True then. But not now. Not for many.

Not only have religion and politics become bedfellows, some calling themselves “Christians” have separated themselves and use their “faith” practices to hammer the rest of us. No “melting pot” philosophy for them. Their “way” is the “only way” and they’ve used their divisive “faith” to create laws and stifle rights of citizenship for “non-believers.” Those being fellow Americans with different skin color, different languages, different religious practices. Or no practices at all. (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)

Reviewing West Ada school bond plan (Boise Statesman)
Rusche tele-health bill nearly clearing legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Local broadband deals may be much less expensive (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
19 wolves killed so far in Lolo area (Lewiston Tribune)
Colfax may launch farmers market (Moscow News)
House Republicans consider new road fund plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Local districts holding school bond elections (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Rewrite of state concealed weapons law proposed (TF Times News)

Eugene considers train silent zone downtown (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield works on Main Street safety (Eugene Register Guard)
High school program aimed at college on block (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
KF Gospel mission may move from downtown area (KF Herald & News)
Medford plans limits on pot plant height (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston electric rate rise 11% (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Some tribes can now prosecute some non-members (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Boardman home buying program gains steam (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Standarized tests made more challenging (Portlad Oregonian)
Boise Cascade mixed use development in motion (Salem Statesman Journal)

Coal port bonds supported in Wyoming (Vancouver Columbian, Bellingham Herald)
New talks start over grizzly bear recovery (Bellingham Herald)
Former Port Orchard mayor to head Allyn port (Bremerton Sun)
Edmonds city and port work on transport lobbying (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz Tribe get fed approval for reservation (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Rally for propane terminal draws 100 people (Longview News)
Possible new private elementary school in Longview (Longview News)
Too few psychiatrists at state hospital (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Seattle police sheakes up executive ranks (Seattle Times)
New design planned for Spokane riverfront park (Spokane Spokesman)
Question of who can file suit for Pierce County (Tacoma News Tribune)
Plan would like teacher pay to local living cost (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima junior water rights estimated at 73% (Yakima Herald Republic)

A short rant



Is this bugging anybody else?

The "news" networks devoted hours this week to the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, and devoted not one second to the 70th anniversary of the liberation, by the Russians, of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, also this week.

This comment is not meant to belittle the courage and righteousness of the Selma marchers, or to whitewash the atrocities committed by the cops and racists on Pettus Bridge in Alabama.

Watching the Selma events on a grainy black-and-white TV from the comfort of Canada, I wondered what kind of a goofy country that place

(Nevermind that we gentle Canadians kept Natives and Chinese in their own ghettos in the 1950s; we never talked about such indelicate matters in grade-school. We just fretted about what the Yanks were up to.)

Selma resulted in one death, that of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot in the back by a state trooper.

In Auschwitz, or by its Polish name Oświęcim, 1.1 million people were murdered by gas, starvation, exhaustion, bullets and other means

between 1942 and 1944. Not one person as in Selma: one million and one hundred thousand people -- a population about the size of Dallas

or San Diego. Ninety percent of them were Jews.

I've never been to Auschwitz nor do I care to, but once during a visit to Munich I ventured out to Dachau, which was the small-scale training model for the larger Nazi death camps to follow and killed a mere 32,000 during its 10-year run. Jews, Russians, homosexuals and

Jehovah's Witnesses comprised the casualties.

I was struck by how pretty it was: green grass, luscious flowers, nice, orderly brick-work buildings in a temperate climate. Just the place to take your family on holiday.

Dachau was where the Nazis perfected the gas chambers and ovens for Auschwitz.

By all means, if you're ever in Munich, go see Dachau. It looks so, gosh, normal.

Six or seven murders of civil rights proponents in this country in the 1950s and 1960s changed our whole way of thinking. We saw racism, from cops to bumpkins, at its naked worst.

Why do not six or seven million murders just 20 years earlier, also racially based, get our attention as well?

In the briefings

outside waiting

People who use e-cigarettes, own and work at vape shops, gather outside the Multnomah Building before the March 5 board meeting, at which new county rules on vaping were adopted.

The Oregon Legislature has begun to kick out a number of pieces of legislation, including some major measures on subjects ranging from motor-voter to clean fuels. It’s beginning now to look as if a busy session lies ahead.

More ‘shot heard ‘round the world’ quotes emerged last week from Idaho legislators, which may give leadership all the more incentive to try to shut down before the end of March (as is the current plan).

In Washington, the legislature is hitting its relative frenzied peak, with lots of legislation scrambling for position before the series of cutoffs hits and wipes out most of the prospects.