Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Can anyone explain to me why Clive Bundy’s old, wrinkled ass isn’t sitting in some federal crossbar hotel? A year after the BLM and other agencies we taxpayers expected better of backed off and let the old bastard off the hook for a million dollars, he’s throwing parties to celebrate his “victory.”

The tab Bundy owes the feds for more than 20 years of unpaid grazing on our land has now risen above a million and it appears he’s gonna keep right on doing what he’s been doing. Stealing. Trespassing. Lying. Blowing smoke. Rabble rousing. Playing right wing “folk hero.” Ignoring a legally-binding contract he signed with the government more than 20 years ago. And not payed a dime on since.

Last weekend, more than a thousand people showed up at his place with RV’s, tents, sleeping bags and “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. And, oh yes, lots and lots of guns. Bundy had put out a “social media” invitation to come eat some of his fine beef (which you and I paid for), listen to more lies and hate speech (on land you and I own), fire off a few rounds at government shooting targets, badmouth all things federal and hear his loud claims that he’s “beaten all unconstitutional” authority with his thieving, illegal acts.

How come? Why is this rural Nevada welfare cheat still able to strut around on land you and I own while flicking his middle finger(s) at us and the whole world?

The original Bundy-BLM contract of over 20 years ago was legitimate and binding. Moreover, it was tested some years back in federal court and upheld. The BLM has absolute authority to enforce it and can call in any other agencies necessary to help solve the issue. But it hasn’t made a move.

Ah, but don’t lose hope. Bureau spokeswoman Ceclia Boddington sent out a press release last weekend – a press release – saying the agency “remains resolute” in its goal to resolve the “dispute administratively and judicially.” She came in on Sunday to write it.

ROAD APPLES!

If you or I owed the IRS a million for six months, we’d have agents at the door, bank accounts tied up and a date with zealous penal authorities to be fitted for a jumpsuit. This old bastard owes $1.1 million and he’s serving steak burgers and cold beer to a bunch of armed nuts while flipping off the rest of the world.

When law enforcement backed off last year, it was a black eye for justice but it was understandable, given the amount of ammunition and the number of boozed up, itchy trigger fingers poised to do God-knows-what. Hard to swallow – but it was right.

So – we’re a year down the trail and nothing’s changed. Certainly, during that time – 365 days – a few well-armed and determined government reps could’ve called on the old boy, served the right documents and hustled his butt off to jail. Proper agencies could have cut his electricity, turned off any outside water supplies, stopped his mail, cut off his Internet access, blocked his roads and collected his cattle. They didn’t. Why?

Something else I’d like to know but never will. How many other unprincipled rural hustlers out there have started defaulting on their contracts because one old bastard in Nevada appears to have – you should pardon the word – “cowed those damned bureaucrats?” You can bet your maiden aunt’s silver collection there have been some. So, what’s the total red ink on government books from uncollected, legally contracted obligations for this-that-and-the-other? Timber. Mining. Drilling. Water. Exploration. Tourism. Recreation.

Bundy is not just a national disgrace. Not just a lawbreaker. Not just some crazy old coot out in the desert. More than those, he represents a total disrespect for – and the flaunting of – law in particular, and society in general. And our government – like a detached parent – has so far let him default on his so-called “binding obligations” to both government specifically and society in general. Us!

What he considers “patriotism” is to defy and deny the government obligations under which he lives – the government that furnishes electricity, water, roads and infrastructure making it possible for him to live 100 miles from nowhere out in his fantasy land. The rest of us define patriotism as loving our country, living with our neighbors in peace, joining in a sense of community to improve the nation. And paying our obligations.

It’s time- damn it – it’s way past time for that old SOB to be brought to heel – for him to relearn the civics lessons he got in elementary school – to get in the national boat with the rest of us.

Failing that, he ought to be given extended residency in that crossbar hotel. With or without the tailored, orange jumpsuit.

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Rainey

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 into state juvenile corrections lawsuits (Boise Statesman)
Issues arise over radiation incident last fall (IF Post Register)
Small tuition increase okayed by state board (Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Reviewing the legislative session (Lewiston Tribune)
UI gets $10m for more research efforts (Moscow News)
NNU faculty give no-confidence vote against president (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa schools start earlier in August this year (Nampa Press Tribune)
LaBeau reinstated as IACI president (Nampa Press Tribune)
New superintendent picked for Castleford schools (TF Times News)

Gun bill prompts recall try against Hoyle (Eugene Register Guard)
Springfield may enact moratorium on Common Core (Eugene Register Guard)
Westfir limits resident use of water (Eugene Register Guard)
Josephine miner asks for calm (Eugene Register Guard)
Umatilla Co continued pot dispensary ban (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Rules for pot still under some development (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Rape victim time limit bill passes House (Portland Orgonian)
About bill to raise interstate speeds to 70 (Salem Statesman Journal)

Whatcom pay proposed .2 cent sales tax (Bellingham Herald)
Legislature still struggles with McCleary schools (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic, Bellingham Herald, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Everett panhandling rule targeted by ACLU (Everett Herald)
Bonney Lake mayor has issues with road work (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Washington unemployment rate drops under 6 percent (Seattle Times)
Profiling new head of Seattle police union (Seattle Times)
Area protesters want $15 minimum wage (Spokane Spokesman, Yakima Herald Republic)
Longview considered for new oil refinery (Vancouver Columbian)
Congressional delegation seeks Columbian treaty (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima appeals redistricting court decision (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

In recent months the GUARDIAN and Mrs. GUARDIAN have been wracked with guilt and ridiculed by friends for our practice of taking “Sunday Drives,” to places like the Riverside Restaurant at Horseshoe Bend or the Boise Stage Stop east of Boise.

While the food at both locations is surprisingly good and the staffs are genuinely friendly “Idaho Folks,” we have come to realize you have to go 15-20 miles to “get away from madding crowds.” The sea of rooftops to the west and endless snake of traffic on Fairview, I-84, Eagle Road, State Street, etc. tend to tighten our neck muscles.

The current crop of politicos in Boise, Meridian, and Garden City are bent on “increased density” as the basis for planning the future of our community. These are the folks who give away our tax dollars, make exceptions to zoning laws to benefit developers, and refuse to allow citizens the voice we are guaranteed in the Idaho Constitution. As the song goes, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Their decisions create problems, which demand solutions, which cost money, all contributing to the decline of our quality of life. The school and highway districts constantly scramble to keep up with the demands caused by unnatural growth. Boise officials have dumped their sex offenders (21 at Vista and Canal), impoverished citizens, trailer parks, low cost housing, and skinny houses in the Vista neighborhood. Now they are spending a federal grant to address the issues. (A few perverts living along Warm Springs and skinny houses in the Harrison Blvd. median would be a good start)

For the past half century we have watched generations of politicos destroy our downtown, leaving a vast wasteland in favor of the Towne Square Mall. The polluted aquifer was ignored, money was squandered over a fire station location, and some of the busiest streets in the state were created.

Meanwhile the downtown wasteland was ripe for development. Thanks to “tax increment financing,” all the property owners living outside the redevelopment area funded the services required when the growth took off. One smooth talking developer after another came in with slick plans which always depended upon taking public money for their private benefit. Taxes on new construction and increased property values goes to CCDC (Capital City Development Corp.) NOT to the city, county, ACHD or schools.

In this latest round of insanity we have people eagerly awaiting recently announced projects including:
–160 unit apartment complex in the area of 5th and Front
–100 room hotel at Capitol and Myrtle (with 26 parking spots)
–100 room hotel across Myrtle on the Dunkley Music property
–300 room convention hotel at 11th and Front with a possible 5,000 seat soccer field
–St. Luke’s seeks to close Jefferson for its private benefit

Meanwhile after half a dozen rejected locations, Boise is building an underground bus station and Gardner is putting the entire Center on the Grove in shadows with new office condos. Buses will be doing some sort of loop against traffic on Capitol.

Not to ignore the rest of the city, Boise leaders are in the process of annexing land on South Cole for a development called “Syringa Valley.” The area is predicted to have 1330 homes, 1110 apartments, 480 condos, and a business park and shopping center.

Both ACHD and Boise Schools have developed plans to spend millions of dollars on the planned urban sprawl.

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Frazier

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)

Finding quarters for homeless veterans (Boise Statesman)
McCall police chief gets $400k in termination case (Boise Statesman)
Child support bill reject could cost $250m (IF Post Register)
College tuition hike may be ahead (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston area could be second AVA region in Idaho (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow city projects outrunning money (Moscow News)
Nampa P&Z okays St. Luke’s hospital there (Nampa Press Tribune)
NNU board gets petition for dismissed Oord (Nampa Press Tribune)
New regs go in place for Lake Lowell (Nampa Press Tribune)
More food insecurity in SE Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
School districts start teacher negotiations (TF Times News)

Chicago’s Schill chosen as UO president (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon unemployment rate now below national (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
State Senate okays gun sales background bill (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Armed group opposes feds at mining claim (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston Conference Center future uncertain (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon counties will get some timber assistance (Portland Oregonian)

Mt Baker will open this week with more snow (Bellingham Herald)
Legislature approves changes in medical pot law (Vancouver Columbian, Bellingham Herald, Longview News)
County official’s remarks called racist (Everett Herald)
Everett nurses, hospital agree to contract (Everett Herald)
Granite Falls considers move to city manager system (Everett Herald)
Former Hanford exec sentenced over timecard fraud (Kennewick Herald)
Effort to clean Longview tap water slows (Longview News)
Clark councilor files run for chair (Vancouver Columbian)
Oregon income taxes its residents, WA employees (Vancouver Columvian)
Newhouse named to House Rules committee (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

There was both good news and bad for the Grand Old Party this week. The good news was the presidential candidacy announcement by Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. At the age of 43, he’s young, handsome, smart as a whip, and gives terrific speeches. First elected Speaker of the Florida House at age 34, his is an ascending star.

Presidential elections are most often about the future and who can best lead the nation into that uncertain time. Historically, the Democratic Party has been the one presenting younger, future-oriented candidates. This time around it may just be the Republicans, who with Rubio, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have a corner on the younger, generational change leaders.

Former Senators Hillary Clinton, and James Webb (The only two announced Democrats) will both be approaching or at age 70 on Inauguration Day, 2017.

The bad news for Republicans is the candidacy announcement by Senator Rubio.

Rubio’s declaration coupled with the well-orchestrated meeting in Panama at the Organization of American States gathering between Cuban President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama spells trouble for the Republican presidential wanna-be’s.

Perhaps the most critical state for a Republican hopeful to capture in the primary is Florida. Likewise, the path to the White House in November, 2016 will go through Florida. There is one issue above all other issues that moves a critical Florida Republican constituency and that is maintenance of the trade embargo in the minds of the Cuban/American community.

President Obama’s long overdue movement to begin the process of doing away with the embargo ensures it will remain a divisive issue throughout the campaign cycle. Obama knows a good wedge issue when he sees one.

Senator Rubio, the son of immigrants who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro took power, is expected to maintain the “no compromise/no trade” position which must may give him the critical edge he’ll need to defeat in the primary his political mentor and friend, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Even before the Obama/Castro meeting, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced he was for pulling the trade embargo. Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin’s chief executive are expected to follow suit. After all, free trade is one of the tenet’s of the Libertarian faith.

Idaho’s current governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, has long advocated lifting the trade embargo so Idaho producers could market and sell directly to Cuba. During the six years Otter was in the House he took three, lobbyist paid for trips to Cuba.

The first trade mission Otter organized and led as governor was to Cuba in April of 2007. Saying, according to spokesperson Jon Hanian, he was going down there “to sell some groceries,” Otter led a delegation of 35 Idahoans that included folks from the Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho Milk Producers, a seed company, a couple of professors from BYU-Idaho, and Marty Peterson, the public affairs director for the University of Idaho, wearing his historical preservation hat. Peterson was hoping to take part in an effort to protect and preserve author Ernest Hemingway’s Havana home.

Before the “hate everything and oppose everything Obama does” crowd in Idaho gets too apopletic on this politically rewarding gambit by the President, they should also recall that while still a U.S. senator, Larry Craig visited Cuba in 2004.

As a ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Idaho Senator Jim Risch will no doubt be visiting Cuba before long on his own fact-finding mission.

The Idaho public figure with the most prescience about the futility of the trade embargo, however, was Senator Frank Church who visited Cuba several times. The last time was in August of 1977 when he and Fidel Castro sat and smoked Cuban cigars together.

Rest assured, my friends, Cuba will be an issue of some sort in the 2016 presidential race.

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Carlson

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)

Business interests consider the legislative session (Boise Statesman)
WA House Democrats release roads proposal (Lewiston Tribune)
Asotin county officials irritated with legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislature kills child support bill (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Omega RV builds in Caldwell, adds 150 jobs (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bridges may be affected by big winds (TF Times News)

School superintendent at Springfield quits (Eugene Register Guard)
Debate over raising minimum wage increase (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Medford hospital aims toward more mental care (Medford Tribune)
Arrival on beaches of “blue blobs” (Portland Oregonian)
Plans for more barriers on risky interstates (Salem Statesman Journal)

No more free island transit rides, maybe (Everett Herald)
Problems with hiring new manager at Mill Creek (Everett Herald)
Home prices have gone up in 15 (Longview News)
New transport plan from House Democrats (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Seattle getting smart parking meters (Seattle Times)
Many area immigrants may be freed from detention (Seattle Times)

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First Take

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

We don’t often reprint issue letters – the type that encourage people to sign a petition on some issue, for example. But this one advocates for an idea on health care we’ve been supporting for years, and now it might become actual state law. The mail comes from the public interest organization OSPIRG.

We all know health care still costs too much. But how much does it cost? If you’ve ever asked, you know: They won’t tell you.

Why? Because, unlike every other business in America, hospitals get to keep their prices a secret. As a result, they get away with charging outrageous prices and surprising fees, often for routine procedures.

A bill to make Oregon’s hospitals post their actual prices online is scheduled for its first vote next Monday. Hospital and insurance industry lobbyists are working to defeat the proposal. Will you stand with us?

Tell your state lawmakers: Make hospitals post their prices.

Not too long ago, my friend’s wife cut her finger deeply and went to the emergency room. The doctor gave her a tetanus shot and a few dabs of a skin adhesive called Indermil. A few weeks later, they got a bill for $2,300. They charged her $1000 for the skin glue alone, even though it can be purchased online for $40 a tube.

What other business gets away with that?

When pressed on why they can’t just post their actual prices, hospitals will tell us it is too difficult and too complicated.

But it isn’t, really. They already know their prices – they just don’t want to make them public. In fact, hospitals and insurance companies actually have written agreements to keep the prices they negotiate a secret.

This is absurd and we should not tolerate it a moment longer. Inflated prices due to lack of competition and excessive price variation have led to $105 billion in waste in health care spending each year.

It is time to get the health care industry to do what every other business in America does.

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Reading

container
 

A look at the container yard at the Port of Lewiston. Last week, reacting to the loss of a service contractor at the port of Portland which in turn led to loss of service at Lewiston, the Idaho port suspended most container service and announced layoffs. See the economy/business section in this issue. (Photo /Port of Lewiston)

 

For most of Friday, the Idaho Legislature seemed to be just a little too far behind the curve to adjourn for the year – it seemed likely to return for at least a day or two this week. But then, around midnight, it wrapped up. The late-night fallout will be examined and re-examined this week.

The Oregon Legislature has been moving ahead in overdrive – passing a school budget weeks ahead of the normal schedule. Might it adjourn in the early part of summer?

In Washington, it’s time now for the clash of the budgets – the Republican Senate and the Democratic House. Recognizing the reality of the budget-passing imperative and the option of a gubernatorial veto, some compromises are likely. But expect a lot of position-taking between here and there.

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First Take

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)

Questions over how many Idaho wolves there are (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Defendants with mental health issues have spiked (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho Legislature adjourns for year (Moscow News)
Preparations back on for canyon jump (TF Times News)

Neighbors dislike rehab center idea at Ashland (Medford Tribune)
Senators help dedicate Oregon Cave monument (Medford Tribune)
Gas prices will be lower this summer (Portland Oregonian)
Several perimenter breaches noted at PDX (Portland Oregonian)
Subdivision development fee possible at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Local incentives for pot sales may be coming (Bellingham Herald)
Housing market becomes much hotter (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing has plane supply issues at Everett (Everett Herald)
Lead-stren gun ranges still get federal contracts (Seattle Times)
Interstate widening resumes at Snoqualmie (Spokane Spokesman)
Food trucks setting down at Coeur d’Alene (Spokane Spokesman)
Kindergartens pressed for space (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima admins wary of cost of smaller classes (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Road trips, and the amount of time they take, may mark the single area of great difference between the Oregon east of the Cascades and the Oregon to the west.

West of the Cascades, there’s little interest in raising speed limits, and for good reason. Traffic is heavier, especially in the metro areas but to a sometimes surprising degree away from them as well. Roads have lots of points of entry and exit. Many roads are fairly narrow and twisty. Even Highway 101, the great coastal highway located well away from the metro areas, is often packed with traffic, and even where it’s not it is hilly, winds around – little of it seems to run in a straight line – and has lots of roads branching out, since it is only major route through the region. Driving times often are determined less by the number of miles involved, than by the number of vehicles and turns.

Eastern Oregon is like a whole different road system. Some of it runs through mountains, true, but even most of those roads are far less twisty than across the Cascades. Traffic is relatively light (even, in relative terms, on I-84 east of The Dalles). Most highways are remarkably straight, and most are wide, well built-out roads, and many of them have limited access.
Driving east of the Cascades is not like driving to the west.

A couple of pieces of legislation, offered by lawmakers from eastern Oregon (Ontario and Cove), show some awareness of that. The states all around Oregon have higher speed limits on their freeways, and on many rural highways as well. While you can make a solid case for lower limits in the Willamette Valley and environs, it’s a different story in the long runs between, say, John Day and Lakeview, or Arlington and Pendleton. There, the greater danger in keeping things slow would seem to be road weariness from drives extending too many hours.

The Oregon legislature has a pretty good track record of taking road trips in bringing issues to far reaches of the state. Before dismissing these two new bills, as so many others have been over the years, western lawmakers might do well to roll a few miles on those long-long stretches.

And reconsider.

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