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)

Northwest among top home fireplace polluters (Nampa Press Tribune)
Finalists named for TF police chief (TF Times News)

Brown and husband move into Mahonia Hall (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem urban developer may get grant (Salem Statesman Journal)

What’s ahead for tunneling Bertha (Seattle Times)
Spokane wants into oil train talks (Vancouver Columbian)
Questions arise on small business health plans (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

Here are two ways that the 2013 election of socialist Kshama Sawant to the Seattle City Council might have played out.

1 – She might have become a shrill complainer about most of what the council did, and the rest of the council would have put in (metaphorical) earplugs and just gone about its business, ignoring her.

2 – She might have made an occasional stand for a different perspective but largely gone along with the council majority so as not to be marginalized.

What actually happened seems to have fallen somewhere in between: Challenging the other council members and sticking up for alternative positions on a regular basis, but without being ignored. She has torn into them on occasion, but apparently has enough political skill to turn at least some of that into practical action.

As the Seattle Times noted in a front page story last week: “She accused them of taking their marching orders from corporate executives. But the next month, the council adopted a new budget peppered with Sawant-sponsored amendments — including an immediate wage hike for city employees, money to support tent encampments and a commitment to study a possible excise tax on millionaires — and the opposite seemed just as accurate: Sawant’s colleagues were taking marching orders from her.”

Not everywhere, or on all things, certainly. None of the council members are all that dominant, but Sawant’s influence appears to be real. Veteran Council member Nick Licata described the council now as “More progressive. More sensitive to social and economic justice. The other members are inclined to go there, but Kshama is pushing them. Kshama has made things happen that never would have happened before.”

That amounts to some real change in the city of Seattle.
Sawant is being challenged this year by a couple of opponents, at least one of whom has substantial establishment back. But she’s running in the best district in Seattle for her politics. We’ll see if her approach continues to push the city in different directions for another few years.

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Washington Washington 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)

Reviewing Idaho immunizations, which are high (Boise Statesman)
Still a big divide on adding the words (Lewiston Tribune)
Pocatello and others prepare for school levies (Pocatello Journal)
More water may be needed for aquifer recharge (TF Times News)
Are schools teaching to the test? (TF Times News)
Legislators speak on civics test idea (TF Times News)

Home builders blast Eugene compact-build plan (Eugene Register Guard)
Neighbors concerned about ex-con housing (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing Oregon’s big solar project (KF Herald & News)
Medford considers expanding growth boundaries (Medford Tribune)
How much THC in pot-infused candies, etc.? (Portland Oregonian)
Not much money available to help with homeless (Portland Oregonian)
Legislature may kick minimum wage to $15 (Salem Statesman Journal)

About the exemptions from vaccination (Bellingham Herald)
Declines in visits to Kitsap emergency rooms (Bremerton Sun)
Another look at Oso slide geology (Everett Herald)
State spending on schools expected to grow (Everett Herald)
Reviewing proposes propane-butane terminal at Longview (Longview News)
Foreign investors buy into high-end, contrary to rules (Seattle Times)
Spokane wants to participate in oil rail talks (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma may adapt new sick leave law (Tacoma News Tribune)
Point Ruston slips on gas permitting procedures (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislators offer new Columbia bridge I-5 plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Schools at Clark seeking to help with poverty (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark County to have 20 year plan in 2016 (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima downtown fire causes big damages (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

The phrase “religious equality” turned up last year in a U.S. Supreme Court decision – in the minority opinion, though there’s no particular reason the majority would have argued with it – defined this way: “the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian.”

The Hindu reference will have some resonance, of various sorts, at the Idaho Senate. Last week, for the first time, the Senate received its morning invocation from Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. It was a choice that must have been approved, or at the least not opposed, by the Senate leaders, primarily President pro tem Brent Hill and Majority Leader Bart Davis. It’s not hard to imagine them giving their assent, or even encouragement.

So credit them, and maybe others as well, for giving the Idaho Legislature an unusual basis for asserting that it’s more open-minded and inclusive than many people think.

And the message from Zed was hardly (or ought not to have been) at all exotic: “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

Most of the Senate was there to hear it. Seven members were not. Four of the absentees said they were late getting to the chamber; that could be the case since traditionally, people don’t walk on or off the floor during the prayer. (Prayer is an official part of legislative business in Idaho; in the Senate it together with the pledge of allegiance is the “second order of business.”)

The other three – Senators Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens; Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood; and Lori Den Hartog, Meridian, all Republicans – appeared to absent themselves from the chamber simply out of protest. Nuxoll, in one of those quotes that fast shot around the world, remarked that “Hindu is a false faith with false gods.” Hartog expressed discomfort with participating in a prayer ceremony from a religion that wasn’t hers.

Nuxoll’s response got most of the attention – it’s not every day a state legislator so derisively dismisses the beliefs of a billion people – but Hartog’s is even more worthy of note. Her unease with the idea of involving herself with a religious activity – a prayer – which is not of her own faith, a discomfort apparently strong enough that she could not be physically present for it, is understandable and not unique. It could in fact give her some cause for reflection. Many people in Idaho are not Christians, and yes there are more than a few, and they understand it daily when governmental services are launched with a Christian (and maybe on unusual occasions a Jewish) prayer.

That means she might adopt one of two positions: Either prayers ought to be dropped as a formal part of governmental activities, so all citizens would be equally comfortable being there; or say that she thinks Christians alone are citizens with a proper role in government, and others are second-class and ought not to show up.

Hill and Davis evidently would reject both of those propositions, in favor of acknowledging a wide variety of perspectives. A question: If asked, how would the people of Idaho come down on this?

In the meantime, the intentionally absent senators might have benefited most of all from hearing Zed’s words: “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

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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)

Looking at IACI’s self-review (Boise Statesman)
Unusual winters at Yellowstone (Boise Statesman)
No apology from Nuxoll for remarks on Hindus (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators working on more gun legislation (Lewiston Tribune)
Ammo business exec speakers to Lewiston GOP (Lewiston Tribune)
Levies set for four Latah school districts (Moscow News)
Study suggests hot and dry ahead in western US (Moscow News)
Nampa legislators look into urban renewal (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI starts a law enforcement training program (Nampa Press Tribune)
Constitutional carry bill fails for year (TF Times News)
State council on federal lands possible (TF Times News)

Eugene mental health clinic erred on medication (Eugene Register Guard)
City rules may delay massive downtown complex (Eugene Register Guard)
Wildlife plan not yet complete at Lower Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Atkins named as secretary of state (Medford Tribune)
School tracks in wet areas, may be upgraded (Medford Tribune)
State debating GMO rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hermiston considers electricity rate increase (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber seeks to keeo emails private (Portland Oregonian)
About Nestle pursuit of Gorge water (Portland Oregonian)
Huckestein named permanent Chemeketa president (Salem Statesman Journal)

30 acres of shellfish shore restored (Bremerton Sun)
Local housing agency leader retires (Bremerton Sun)
New Monroe school superintendent named (Everett Herald)
Body cams coming for Columbia Co cops (Longview News)
North Bonneville plans to open city pot shop (Tacoma News Tribune, Longview News)
Businesses optimistic about economy (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman)
Whaling by Makah could return (Seattle Times)
Idaho senator won’t apologize over Hindu comment (Spokane Spokesman)
Gun activist rally held at federal building (Spokane Spokesman)
GOP rejects plans for oil-safety bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima manager doesn’t win Arizona job (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

The big hand of government is heavy. Right now, Idaho lawmakers are attempting to swipe local control from Idaho’s school districts and charters with House Bill 222, the career ladder and tiered licensure plan.

With only a couple weeks left, lawmakers finally decided to bring out this 33-page behemoth of a bill. Lawmakers got sidetracked this session with the Idaho Education Network debacle so put off dealing with this controversial legislation until now.

Idaho legislators are fond of railing against the federal government, demanding that Idaho have control of its own destiny, from healthcare to wilderness, environmental policy to education. Ironically, state lawmakers then hamstring local municipalities.

Gov. Otter and legislative leaders have touted the need to attract and retain high quality teachers in Idaho, but House Bill 222 doesn’t do that. This plan barely moves the needle in terms of attracting teachers because of all the heavy handed mandates couched in this proposal.

Teachers entering the education field have plummeted the past five years. Some districts have resorted to head-hunting organizations like Teach For America because they are desperate to hire for hard-to-fill positions. Provisional certification can be given to someone with a degree who wants to try out teaching, but it’s with little support. Districts are hiring hundreds of student teachers under emergency licenses because they have no other options.

And the big hand of government is trying to help fix the problem? I say, get out of the way and let’s have an open and honest conversation about political agendas getting ahead of truly improving Idaho’s public schools.

HB 222 makes teachers accountable for conditions over which they have little or no control. It is entirely unfair to connect a majority of student test scores to teachers, when there are so many factors that influence a child. Teachers are not afraid of accountability, but tying student test scores to teacher pay is flat out unethical.

There is nothing in the state Constitution about adequate tax breaks for corporations. Just ask IACI President Alex LaBeau, who’s recent email rant against teachers reveals a corporate entitlement attitude all too prevalent here in Idaho.

Disturbingly, the tiered licensure plan being pushed by the Idaho House was sold to the Governor’s taskforce on education last year with misleading data released from the Idaho State Department of Education. Department data only included white students. When comparing Idaho to other states with similar demographics, and excluding Idaho’s nearly 20 percent minority student population, it made Idaho’s data look bad.

Co-chairs of the Career Ladder/Tiered Licensure Committee Dr. Linda Clark and Rod Lewis cited this misleading research in a co-authored op-ed written in the Sept. 14 Idaho Statesman: “There are currently 13 states, most of which rank ahead of Idaho in student achievement.”

Not true. Actually, the NAEP data used for this measurement included 17 states, and when all student data is used (including minority populations) Idaho is actually ranked 4 out of 17 when Idaho’s minority students are factored into the equation.

Should the new career ladder plan be implemented this year, it will happen because the legislature has rammed this bill down the throats of local school districts and schools.

Lawmakers’ grips are tight and getting tighter. Rural schools can’t take it any more. It’s nearly impossible to adequately recruit qualified staff. Teachers who teach underprivileged, special education or English Language Learners are not wanting to teach these students because of what Idaho policymakers are doing to Idaho schools. We are at a breaking point.

Policymakers claim a recommitment to public education? I don’t think so.

Travis Manning is a high school English teacher and executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho and can be reached at manning_travis@hotmail.com.

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Manning

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)

IACI suspends president, re-evaluates after email (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Boise considers homelessness, may consider SLC (Boise Statesman)
Batt, Andrus sue on nuclear waste (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Clearwater Paper president will retire (Lewiston Tribune)
Gritman hospital buys more property (Moscow News)
Canyon complaints rise over Deer Flat (Nampa Press Tribune)
Kimberly, Nuhl plan recreation districts (TF Times News)
SkyWest brings on a third flight to TF (TF Times News)

Eugene seeks to block Uber over safety issues (Eugene Register Guard)
Trustees approve tuition raise at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
KF gets new police chief (KF Herald & News)
Experts predicting big fires this summer (Medford Tribune)
Ashland schools reconsider transfer agreements (Medford Tribune)
Brown prepares to sign motor voter bill (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune)
Oregon COO Jordan quits (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesan Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)

Inslee talks carbon tax at WWU (Bellingham Herald)
Last run of the USS Ranger (Bremerton Sun)
Everett council member named in juvenile lockup report (Everett Herald)
Oso mudslide legislation still moves ahead (Everett Herald)
Looking at rise in gas prices (Longview News)
Port of Kalama park construction underway (Longview News)
Ilwaco boat yard picks up business from Astoria (Longview News)
North Bonneville city opens pot shop (Seattle Times)
Microsoft tries selling smart phone overseas (Seattle Times)
Idaho Medicaid wants $250k from clinic (Spokane Spokesman)
Early Spokane charter schools filling (Spokesman Spokesman)
Tacoma housing market heats up again (Tacoma News Tribune)
New CEO Patel takes over at Franciscan (Tacoma News Tribune)
Job market holding strong (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

T.S. Elliot, the great English poet, said in his epic The Waste Land, that April is the cruelest month. Being born in April, I have to wonder if he was right about that. March strikes me as crueler.

(A caveat to March. It was the month my wonderful mother was born until a few Octobers ago took her away from me.)

But March this year also marks the sixth month I have been banished from publishing in Hagadonia, even for free. I wrote for free, for years, just to give a voice to the miners up here – men and women too exhausted at the end of a long shift to put words to paper, but articulate nevertheless. All I did was take notes.

The miners and timbermen create the fat-cat economy people in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane and Seattle and Missoula enjoy. Burn up the saw-mills, pull down the headframes, your need to drive metal cars and live in wood houses prevails.

Coeur d’Alene offends me.

Rather than restore the fine old steamships that used to ply the lake, they burned them to the Plimsols and let them sink, to much hurrah. Louise Shadduck, a dearly-departed friend, wept. When Hagadonia acquired the Elizabeth, New Jersey, Daily Journal, one of its first moves was to haul 200 years’ worth of newspaper archives to the garbage dump. This action against New Jersey’s oldest newspaper led to a strike nobody wanted. I was there.

Whither history, then? From where comes the voice of the working man making history right now? Or is the working class beneath and above them an embarrassment to the putters at the Coeur d’Alene Resort?

On to my dearly-departed Mother. Patty was her name. She was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, but as a kid all I knew was that she could stuff 50 kids into a 1955 station wagon and take us anywhere. She was a community organizer in the real, not presidential sense. She led me to believe that reading good books was the best thing I could do, and she helped me through the flash-cards we had to do for arithmetic.

Mom hosted a University Women’s meeting every Wednesday at our house on Vancouver Island, and I would sneak down the stairs to listen to these elegant ladies discuss nuclear disarmament, Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach,” Ike’s deals with Tito and Kru. Mom turned me on to writers like Norman Maclean. She never quit giving.

We talked every week, up until the time she died. Her ending is too horrible to write about. Imagine a great big beached fish, flopping about on a hospital bed, unaware, and having to pull the plugs out of your best friend.

She gave me a love of literature, from sitting on her lap and reading Dickens, to some great authors and poets in later years that she sent me.

Enough of that. I am crying. And enough of Hagadonia. They wouldn’t get it.

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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)

New dean of students at UI resigns (Boise Statesman)
Corps engineer takes new look at Snake dam breaching (Boise Statesman)
Legislatue trims its to-do list (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Teacher pay increase considered by legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Judge may bear down on Syringa case (Moscow News)
Rail lines near Pullman may be abaondoned (Moscow News)
Early planting begins in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

Center for mentally ill will close (Eugene Register Guard)
Green fuel bill clears legislature (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Pendleeton E Oregonian)
What will Congress do with Klamath settlement? (KF Herald & News)
President of KCC receives pay raise (KF Herald & News)
Supreme Court case won’t affect OR health rates (KF Herald & News)
Gas prices continue rise (Medford Tribune)
Blue Mountain college bond goes public (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Brown calls for inquiry of energy tax credits (Portland Oregonian)
Chief Joseph, Duniway headed to US Capitol (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing effects of Supreme Court on health care (Bremerton Sun)
Olympic park seeks funds for road repair (Bremerton Sun)
Olympia city changes committee makeup, mayor role (Olympian)
Lanslides an ongoing problem near Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles bans fireworks (Port Angeles News)
New Seattle city district plan yields more candidates (Seattle Times)
Medical school measure pursued at Olympia (Spokane Spokesman)
New traffic cams spotted near schools (Spokane Spokesman)
City of North Bonneville may open public pot shop (Vancouver Columbian)
Slow development on BPA power line (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Looks like the Ada County Highway District isn’t the only governmental body making headlines based on religious prayer to open meetings.

With its history of accepting free trips to Turkey from the Islamic-based Gulen Society, it is no surprise the Idaho Senate is set to open its Tuesday session with a Hindu Mantra–according to a press release we received from Rajan Zed who bills himself as “President of Universal Society of Hinduism.”

We assume the release is legit since it included the image of Zed and appeared to come from him. When we did some additional research (Google), it looked like he has enjoyed a vast amount of prior publicity forcing legislative bodies to hear his Hindu invocation. Most notable was on July 12, 2007, when he appeared at the United States Senate as its guest Chaplain to the dismay of some Christians who were arrested.

Idaho Senate, upper house in the State Legislature in Boise, will start its day with ancient Hindu prayers on March third, said to be a first since Idaho acquired statehood in 1890.

This reportedly historic invocation will contain verses from Rig-Veda; the oldest existing scripture of the mankind still in common use.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver this prayer from Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, besides Rig-Veda, will also recite from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the Real, Lead us from darkness to Light, Lead us from death to immortality.” Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge the Senators to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who besides taking up the cause of religion worldwide, has also raised huge voice against the apartheid faced by about 15-million Roma (Gypsies) in Europe. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc. He was invited by President of European Parliament in Brussels (Belgium) for a meeting to promote interfaith dialogue.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little presides over Idaho Senate which has 35 members, while Brent Hill is its President Pro Tempore.

We predict the messenger–not the message–will be the source of any blowback. The Kootenai County Republicans recently called for declaring Idaho as a “Christian State.”

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Frazier