Writings and observations


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)

Woodgrain Millwork owners alerted about roof (Boise Statesman)
Campaign contributions and cannbidiol veto (Nampa Press Tribune)
Water supplies may run out early this year (Nampa Press Tribune)
East Idaho counties low on alcohol consumption (Pocatello Tribune)

New start for business recruitment group (Eugene Register Guard)
Jail ballot issue hits in Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Analysis shows money flows from Crater, other parks (KF Herald & News)
Pot entrepreneurs await July 1 (Medford Tribune)
Oswego bank grew too fast, burst (Portland Oregonian)
Environmental review of session so far (Salem Statesman Journal)

Whatcom plans November vote on jail bond (Bellingham Herald)
Legislature will return this week (Everett Herald)
The undoing of Microgreen Polymers (Everett Herald)
The women in Cowlitz county government (Longview News)
School districts in budget guessing game (Vancouver Columbian)
Medicaid expansion plans in review (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

A recent e-mailed press release from an Idaho state agency took my breath away with shock when I read it. It still stuns me – and, too, other people I’ve discussed it with, who have a history of working in state agencies and writing press releases.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare press release of April 10 (a copy is posted at www.ridenbaugh.com/dhw150410.html) belongs in some kind of hall of fame for useful press releases, with citation for bravery. It does something I’ve never seen a state agency (as opposed to some elected officials) do before: It explicitly calls out the state legislature for doing harm to people in Idaho.

State agencies hardly ever take on state legislators, especially in public, even in cautious weasel words. It’s dangerous: Legislators have endless ways to take revenge.

And in this release, DHW Director Richard Armstrong could not have been plainer or blunter, with his quote saying “this vote will make it nearly impossible for us to enforce child support like we should, so Idaho’s children are taken care of. The bottom line is that Idaho families may not receive their support money because we will not have the tools we need to make sure those payments are made.”

The reference, of course, was to the House Judiciary Committee vote rejecting a bill to let the state cooperate with national and international entities in collecting child support payments. The winner of that vote was the deadbeat, non-paying parents, and the losers children now at risk of going hungry.

The release went out in the few hours between the committee vote and the legislature’s middle-of-the-night adjournment, and it seemed aimed at convincing legislators to revive the bill (its last line was the unusual exhortation, “All families who rely on child support payments are encouraged to contact their legislators”). The bill died anyway. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter was left to consider whether to call a special session.

Did Otter know in advance about the release? He seems to have been in support of the bill, and has indicated something needs to be done in light of its rejection, but his response so far is vague and unclear. (That could change.)

I have a specific reason for focusing here on the press release, one worth considering by anyone unsure whether the key issue is hungry children or a loss of “Idaho sovereignty” to the federal government or Sharia law.

The bill was passed unanimously in the Idaho Senate after discussion of what it did. It failed in House Judiciary after warnings surfaced about governmental roles and subjugation came up – just the sort of thing smeared around in campaign season, or even year-round. It’s not hard to image a legislator gulping; in the face of it, the “safe” vote in today’s environment might have been one against the bill.

The press release from Health and Welfare, however, was highly impolitic in the sense that it’s just the kind of thing that can cost people their jobs – people like Armstrong, for one, for making look foolish elected officials who hold the purse strings of their agencies. (Agency executives do in fact lose their jobs under such conditions.) The people at DHW have no personal incentive at all for doing what they did other than in mounting a last-ditch attempt to protect the lives of Idaho children.

Who would you believe?

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Idaho Idaho column


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)

CWI campus in Boise west end could rejuvenate (Boise Statesman)
Nampa schools will reconsider opening so early (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big magma chamber underneath Yellowstone (Nampa Press Tribune)
TF commissioners decide to join PERSI (TF Times News)
Farmers in southern Idaho low on water (TF Times News)

Food company may locate factory at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Lakeview location suggested for big pot grow (KF Herald & News)
New Bureau of Rec manager starts in June (KF Herald & News)
State rules against Sweet Case on prejudice (Medford Tribune)
Legislation covers copy body cam use (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wolf-related legislation coming back (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing land use and Klamath water deal (Portland Oregonian)
Marshall quits as U.S. attorney (Portland Oregonian)

Teachers protest at Bellingham over budget (Bellingham Herald)
Lawmakers okay oil rail safety measure (Bellingham Herald)
Medical pot regulation bill signed (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bellingham Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Judge halts shooting at Port Orchard gun club (Bremerton Sun)
Longview school board studies older buildings (Longview News)
Legislature adjourns, will return (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Kelley won’t be paid on leave of absence (Olympian)
UW regent dinners vilate open meeting law (Seattle Times)
Investigation into Idaho Panhandle quakes (Spokane Spokesman)
SeaTac growth triple expectations (Tacoma News Tribune)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT


A few days ago, a friend’s entry popped up on the old Facebook page, taking me by surprise, because it said precisely what’s been in my head for lo, these many months.

“Dear Lord. Please tell someone who isn’t crazy to run for president.”

There it was! Someone who felt exactly the same way about our national political follies and said it – said it out loud for all to see. Er, read.

Sometime ago, Barbara Bush came close to reading my mind when she opined “Certainly there are other, well-qualified people to run for president besides a Bush or a Clinton.” Yes! Aside from the obvious reference to Americans who might also have the abilities to perform the duties of commander-in-chief other than members of just two families, what appealed to me most was her use of the worlds “well-qualified.” Then, responding to obvious pressure from inside the Bush family after her quote, Barbara later did a little sidestep and voiced support for son Jeb. But – inside – I’ll bet she still feels the same.

I’ll grant my Democrat friends, Hillary Clinton seems to have better credentials with which to seek the job than any woman – and many men, too – who’ve tried in the past. Not all the ones I’d like to see – but good. And, if your rather simplistic goal is just to have a woman finally make it to the Oval Office, she’s more qualified than any others who’ve made the run in my lifetime. But another Clinton? Really?

Then there are the 20 or so occupants of the “clown bus.” Commander-in-chief? Qualified? Really? REALLY?

Just take this one example. Just this one. For the last several months, the Obama-Kerry-et al team has been negotiating with Iran – the major player in the Middle East – to keep that country from getting into the nuclear bomb business. Negotiating. Tough dealing. Lots of sweat. Lots and lots of nerves. Talk or fight. Trying to avoid what so many ignorant political hacks seem to want: an “end-of-the-world” holocaust because of some phony political ego or testosterone-filled sword-waving. Or should we talk? Keep talking. Work through the seemingly insurmountable problems. Negotiating. Give-and-take. Compromise.

Is there anyone on the clown bus – ANY ONE – who’s been saying negotiating is the right thing to do – offered support for peaceful efforts – offered backing for the team that’s already achieved a “handshake” deal that seemed impossible and is working on the nits of final editing? Any one?

No. Not one. What we’ve heard from them is a cacophony of complaints, criticisms, finger-pointing and B.S.. None has added a voice to what poll after poll after poll of the nation’s citizenry have shown we want. We overwhelmingly want peace. We don’t want more unwinnable foreign wars. We want the troops home. We want the killing to stop. We want to tend to our own business for a change. We want to use our formidable resources to solve some of our many societal and infrastructure problems.

From the clown bus, we either get silence or we get shrill cries to “Bomb. Bomb. Bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran.” We get cheap shots about “America backing down” and “Obama hasn’t got the guts for war” and “We’ve lost our will to fight.” We get non-issue blather like needing new federal anti-abortion laws, support for states making it tougher for Americans to vote, promises to cut taxes for the rich, cut Social Security and Medicare, bowing and scraping before the altars of billionaires and on and on and on. B.S.

We’re getting criticism and complaining about “what is” – or what they think “is” – without any discussion of how they’d solve some of our national ills. No one has explained how he/she would deal with a Congress so mired in deliberate self-destructiveness that it’s become an impediment to our national welfare. No one has proposed new ideas, new thoughts for how to use our vast technological resources to make government a more productive servant instead of an unresponsive and unproductive swamp. No one is talking about – or listening to – military proposals for modernizing our defenses instead of forcing production of more outdated weapons systems because they’re built in someone’s congressional district. How about climate change? No one is offering proposals to do a proper – and totally bi-partisan – redrafting of our national tax code. These are the issues. And they’re being ignored.

All the current crop of candidates – regardless of party – continues to play to one “base” or another without regard to the nation as a whole. It’s all about raising another million dollars or saying just the right thing so as not to make somebody mad or appeasing some loud voice that might hurt the candidacy. The torrent of words rolls on like some sort of verbal sludge.

Both national parties have people in them who should be in the running but aren’t. Both have names and faces who’re sick of what politics has become and who would not be afraid to negotiate or compromise with each other or do whatever it takes to get things back on track. They pop up on political talk shows from time to time. You listen to them and think “Why doesn’t he/she get into the race – why aren’t they on the campaign trail presenting fresh faces – and fresh ideas – to an electorate looking for new blood?”

What we need – what we REALLY need – is an answer to the prayer: “Dear Lord. Please tell someone who isn’t crazy to run for president.”

I’m told God doesn’t need to be reminded of a prayer – that it’s not forgotten. Well, maybe. But I’m going to keep at it. Just to be certain.

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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)

Ada County Sheriff Raney will depart in June (Boise Statesman)
Batt and Andrus tour INL cleanup sites (IF Post Register)
New report looks at spending around national parks (IF Post Register)
Airstream planning Caldwell dealership (Nampa Press Tribune)
Melba looks at building new school (Nampa Press Tribune)
Greek yogurt heading to school menus (TF Times News)
Rim shopping center draws new stores (TF Times News)

About a fourth of students reejct state test (Eugene Register Guard)
Levi Strauss cuts 150 Eugene jobs (Eugene Register Guard)
Tribes issue water call, others shut off (KF Herald & News)
Gold miner backers protest at BLM office (Medford Tribune)
Bear spotted in Lithia park (Medford Tribune)
Former US attorney on prescription drug abuse (Pendleton E Oregonian)
HR head at Umatilla County under review (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Gun background check bill moves ahead (Pendleton E Oregonian)
How did solar tax credits pencil out? (Portland Oregonian)
Visitor numbers grow at OR national parks (Salem Statesman Journal)

Post Office lockdown to keep out homeless (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish Council dislikes 21% pay raise (Everett Herald)
Light rail line approved to Lynwood (Everett Herald)
legislature adjourns, until Wednesday (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
Amazon cloud services prove highly profitable (Seattle Times)
UW presses ahead on animal lab (Seattle Times)
Ranier Connect seeks to buy Click fiber system (Tacoma News Tribune)
Campaign funding bill halts in state Senste (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver buys site for new fire station (Vancouver Columbian)
Bill signed on more training for farm workers (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

frazier DAVID


It may not have blue turf, but CWI is moving to Boise along with about every other institution of higher learning. The school is growing faster than a seal pup and the trustees voted to buy the old Bob Rice Ford land along the Boise River at Main Street.

The financing for construction will require approval of two-thirds of voters, but given the success of the school we see it as a good bet to pass. The secret will be a straight forward proposal asking permission to sell bonds.

Here is the release from College of Western Idaho:

Today, College of Western Idaho (CWI) Board of Trustees approved entering into an agreement to purchase approximately 10 acres of land at 3150 W. Main St. which is located at the intersection of Main and Whitewater Park Blvd. adjacent to the Boise River. The site which was previously the home of the Bob Rice Ford car dealership is planned for future development of programs to support the educational needs of the surrounding communities.

Since its first class offering in January 2009, College of Western Idaho’s enrollment has skyrocketed. This fall 10,217 credit students and an additional 10,480 non-credit program students enrolled across the College’s campuses in Nampa and Boise, community locations, and online. This record enrollment included more than 7,000 students attending classes at various leased Ada County locations including the current Ada County Campus at Overland and Maple Grove in Boise.

CWI is forming a steering committee and will look to engage the community and surrounding neighbors as part of the planning discussions scheduled later this year. The intent is that the new site will enable the College to move from existing leased locations and expand the programs offered including, general academic transfer programs, business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and expand its workforce and technical education programs.

“We are excited to find a location that supports our student community as well as the businesses seeking a trained and well educated workforce,” said Mary Niland, board president. “From the beginning, CWI has made a promise to our community to offer affordable access to higher education and training. We are keeping that promise through investment in our young people and the future of the western Idaho region.”

College locations in Ada and Canyon County have consisted of leased, shared, and a few owned buildings that have provided short-term solutions in meeting the current educational demand of western Idaho. To help address the growing needs of the community and space shortage, CWI has leased buildings to provide needed classroom and services space ; however, even with this unsatisfactory, stop-gap solution, students still face challenges scheduling classes and accessing support services without traveling around the valley. Additionally, the cost for leasing space continues to increase and with the improving economy, costs are going higher, which does not support a long term and stable campus environment for students attending CWI.

“This land will ensure that we continue to meet the growing demand for education in Idaho,” said CWI President Bert Glandon. “Completion of degree or certificate credentials is critical to narrowing the skills gap that many of our state’s employers are facing. Higher education is the key to a strong economy; and as your community college, we intend to continue to work closely with employers to ensure they have a locally skilled workforce to hire.”

“We are pleased to know that the land which was home to our family’s business for so many years, will now provide a legacy dedicated to the educational success of people in our community,” said Fred Rice, son of Bob Rice.

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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)

CWI buys new Boise lot (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Taking a look at some of the new school tests (IF Post Register)
Review board named for NNU (Nampa Press Tribune)
Federal sage grouse plan expected in next 2 months (TF Times News)

Eugene city likely will have more revenue (Eugene Register Guard)
Concerns raised over candidates in debates (Eugene Register Guard)
Speakers talk about pot, kids (KF Herald & News)
Credit transfers considered at Klamath schools (KF Herald & News)
Bill hits left lane abusers (Medford Tribune)
Medford charter school’s terms reconsidered (Medford Tribune)
Gray wolf may fall from the endangered (Medford Tribune)
Major solar power array planned near Umatilla (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hot debate over gun background check bill (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap teachers consider joining school walkout (Bremerton Sun)
Georgia Pacific in labor talks (Longview News)
School fund plan would rely more on state (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
CenturyLink dinged $16m for 911 outage (Olympian)
Speed limit study would precede raise (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic)
Clark Co may pass e-cigarette regulations (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


Actually, the phrase is a French one, “poi pouri,” and, loosely translated it means “left over items.” Not having taken French as a foreign language either in high school or college, I’ve Americanized it a bit. I call it pot porridge.

Item #1. A covetted “Dummie” award to the p.r. experts at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Lab. They are making the Andrus/Batt contention that one cannot trust DoE at all, incontestable. Part of INL’s contention that they ought to be granted a waiver from the 1995 Batt Agreement’s ban on the importation of any commercial radioactive waste is that they’ve changed and now are committed
to more transparency, and to prompt notification. A recent event says “au contraire” (French for “I beg your pardon?”).

Turns out there are some bad habits that DoE/INL can’t correct overnight—-such as prompt notification to the media of a “worker exposure incident” at the troubled New Waste Calcining Facility. DoE/INL and the site contractor, CWI, admitted tht they had delayed filing a public report for six months.

Some things never change. One can almost hear Phil Batt saying “make my day!”

For his part, Cecil Andrus long ago figured out that any entity, whether public or private, operates by public consent. If one gets crosswise with the public and is perceived as placing the public at risk just for its profits, is not truthful, or misleads, they forfeit the public trust and along with it goes their credibility.

Andrus flat says that DoE has a long history of lying to him. He does not use that word lightly. Justifiably, DoE’s word is no good to him nor should anyone else believe a thing they say, as this latest doubt-creating incident again demonstrates.

Kudos to Corey Taule of the hometown Post-Register, who blistered DoE/INL in an editorial over the weekend for so stupidly making the Andrus/Batt lack of trust case for them.

Item #2. The Japanese have a difficult to translate word, giri, that Idaho’s legislative leadership, especially Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) ought to internalize. The word references the extra degree of obligation one has to another, and in the Idaho Legislature it is critical that the Speaker of the House recognize his responsibility to fulfill his role by truly providing leadership and producing for the public.

With alll due respect to the man who I’ve never met, there was little if any leadership from him, and few would give this year’s edition of the Legislature more than a D+ . Lay it all at the feet of Speaker Bedke. To let the Legislature adjourn without correcting the failure to provide funding for children from 155,000 certifiably poor families in Idaho, and possibly cripple if not destroy the support system, thus forfeiting $205 million is simply irrespopnsible.

That my good friend, Randy Stapilus, named Bedke the most influentrial politician in Idaho is rediculous. What good is having power if not exercised for the public good?

Bedke called the session “monumental,”and it was—-a monumental failure. In Japan when a “leader” fails so miserably, he apologizes and resigns. That’s what giri dictates and that’s what Bedke should do.

Item #3. Ted Turner’s 24/7 CNN News came calling last week. The producer of the Nancy Grace Show, one Mike Duffy, called and indicated they would like me to be available the next day to be on the show via a skype interview. He had seen the column I did on the tragic death of Veronica Rutledge, the bright young Kootenai High School graduate from Harrison shot and killed by her two-year-old last December outside the Hayden Wal-Mart.

It must have come as a surprise to them because most folks jump at the chance to be on a major network show, but I declined the invitation.

First, Nancy Grace is a former prosecutor well-known for her fervent pro-gun control views. Apparently, this is an outgrowth from the fact she lost her husband in a gun violence death. If I thought she and the show were really interested in facts, and were seeking an enlightened discussion, I might have thought otherwise. Regretfully, hers is one of those programs that seeks higher ratings by generating more publicity.

Secondly, I’m sure Ms. Rutledge’s family is still hurting fiercely from this terrible event. A program rekindling a painful past was something I simply was not interested in lending myself and my time.

As I told the producer in an e-mail – the column spoke for itself and there was nothing I could add.

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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)

Farmers prepare for possible Idaho drought (Boise Statesman)
Teresa Luna remaining on state payroll (Boise Statesman)
New BYU-I president arrives at Rexburg (IF Post Register)
Special legislative session expected in WA (Lewiston Tribune)
Clearwater Paper may add new chip digester (Lewiston Tribune)
Labrador had role in child support bill fight (Moscow News)
Caldwell schools ask urban renewal funds (Nampa Press Tribune)
9th Circuit rejects St Luke’s rehearing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Study group proposes new ISU president house (Pocatello Journal)
TF drive in theatre likely to close (TF Times News)
More mitigation requirements for groundwater users (TF Times News)

Bill goes after slow left-laners (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane job market best in seven years (Eugene Register Guard)
KF council considers business license changes (KF Herald & News)
Medford reports low local jobless rates (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla city extends pot ban 4 months (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Legislators consider campaign funds options (Portland Oregonian)
Study finds ethnic bias in local housing rentals (Portland Oregonian)
School vaccine requirement bill progresses (Salem Statesman Journal)

Special legislative session looks likely (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Lynnwood plans central city expansion (Everett Herald)
Local unemployment rates decline (Longview News)
Seattle focusing on disorder in 9 1/2 downtown blocks (Seattle Times)
Bellevue gets to work on finishing downtown park (Seattle Times)
Measles case found at Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Bill to ban ‘gay therapy’ likely dead this session (Spokane Spokesman)
Inslee asked to veto med pot co-ops (Tacoma News Tribune)
More background on auditor Kelley (Tacoma News Tribune)
Drought may hurt fish recovery programs (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

ridenbaugh Northwest

From an April 20 release by Washington Senator Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

State Sen Michael Baumgartner is taking aim at the roadhogs who get into the fast lane – and just poke along.

In a bill introduced late last week in Olympia, the Spokane Republican proposes that left-lane drivers who drive slower than the speed limit be slapped with special penalties, when they drive continuously in the left lane and impede traffic. The slower they drive, the higher the fine. It’s the same way speeding tickets work, but in reverse.

“How often have you found yourself stuck in slow-moving freeway traffic because someone is hogging the fast lane?” Baumgartner asks. “If you drive back and forth on the freeways from Spokane to Olympia the way I do, you can’t help thinking there ought to be a law.”

Already the state of Washington makes it a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multi-lane highway, when it impedes the flow of traffic. The left lane is supposed to be used only for passing, moving aside for merging traffic, or preparing for a left turn.

Baumgartner says too many motorists haven’t gotten the message. So his bill, SB 6105, creates a new traffic offense of aggravated left-lane driving. In addition to the $124 fine for continuous left lane driving, a slowpoke could be slapped with additional penalties. They would start at $27 for one-to-five miles under the speed limit, and rise to $67 for 16-to-20 miles an hour under the limit.

“Poky left-lane drivers aren’t just a nuisance,” Baumgartner said. “They’re a safety hazard, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes, tailgate or weave around them to the right. You can recognize them by the long line of frustrated drivers you’ll find right behind them. There ought to be a penalty for that sort of obliviousness.”

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