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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)

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.

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)

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)

A socialist’s odds after the fact

idaho RANDY

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.

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 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)

The words not heard

idaho RANDY

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.”