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)

Otter vetoes instant racing repeal bill (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
St. Luke’s battle over Jefferson St closing (Boise Statesman)
Raises okayed for Idaho Falls Power people (IF Post Register)
Bonneville, Bingham link for economic development (IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal)
Biggest Lewiston port container operator departing (Lewiston Tribune)
WA Senate approves budget proposal (Lewiston Tribune)
Nampa holds off decision on old library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Otter signs anti-bullying bill (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)

State Senate education bill passes (Eugene Register Guard, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Republicans criticize ethics plan (Eugene Register Guard)
Rules about tent tiedowns in city on hold (Eugene Register Guard)
Drought declared for Klamath, other counties (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Oregon Tech confronts possible revenue shortfall (KF Herald & News)
Klamath pot dispensary rules in review (KF Herald & News)
Medford schools get debated textbook (Medford Tribune)
Legislature moves restrictions on gun sales (Medford Tribune)
Farmers urge legislation on power line impact (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Legislature considers Oregon fracking ban (Salem Statesman Journal)

Senate releases budget plan (Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Looking at Common Core testing in Washington (Everett Herald, Bellingham Herald, Bremerton Sun)
Arlington polymer firm abruptly closes (Everett Herald)
Yakima area drought worsening (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
KapStone talks could yet resume (Longview News)
Woodland allows recreational pot grow business (Longview News)
Seattle home prices rise 18% in last year (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Daily snow record set in Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane mayor pushes council decision on salary (Spokane Spokesman)
Oregon bill would drop I-5 HOV lane (Vancouver Columbian)
Councilor Smith at Vancouver won’t run again (Vancouver Columbian)
Union Gap plans city center developments (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

strickland MICHAEL
STRICKLAND

 
Literacy

Anyone interested in the world generally can’t help being interested in young adult culture – in the music, the bands, the books, the fashions, and the way in which the young adult community develops its own language. – Margaret Mahy

Romantic and bittersweet, Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay captures one girl’s experience with family, friends, and love. I first met Sarah at an author signing at The Cabin in Boise. After perusing her work, I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in some of the books I saw.

In this debut novel in verse, Marcie is dragged to New Hampshire for the summer and soon realizes that her mom has no plans for them to return to Marcie’s father in Idaho. As Marcie starts at a new school, without her ragtag group of friends called the Leftovers, a new romance heats up, but she struggles to understand what love really means.

Tregay, who I lives in Eagle, Idaho — “with my husband, two Boston Terriers, and an appaloosa named Mr. Pots” (according to her website) — effectively captures the angsty life of a 16-year-old. Booklist said “after her father leaves her mother for a 27-year-old man, Marcie and her depressed mom move from Idaho to a family summer home in New Hampshire.”

The protagonist falls for J. D., a boy who is an irresistible cross between Prince Harry (his hair) and David Beckham (his abs), writes reviewer Ann Kelley. Only problem: Linus, her emo-rocker boyfriend 2,000 miles away. Seven months later, Marcie moves back to Idaho with her father, confesses to Linus, and has to deal with the fallout. Marcie funnels her pain into writing poetry— “there is no three strikes / when it comes to dating. / One heartbreak and that’s it.”—and her poems, which vary in form, are what compose this verse novel.

While the subjects cover typical teenage problems, including breakups, friendships, and parental issues, Tregay adds depth with her ability, in just a few words, to palpably express both the emotions of love and the physical longings that go along with it, the Booklist review says. This first novel may make teenage readers’ hearts beat a bit faster.

The poetry in the books is used skillfully and enhances a plot that keeps the reader engaged. Filled with the turbulent emotion of teen years, IM conversations, and emo love songs, Love and Leftovers is great for reluctant readers and poetic souls alike.

Love and Leftovers is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults title. Kirkus Reviews said that Tregay’s choice to write in verse works well, her spare but effective language artfully evoking what otherwise might be a conventional high-school romance.

Perfect for fans of romances like Anna and the French Kiss and those by Sarah Dessen as well as readers of poetry, Love and Leftovers is a beautiful and fresh take on love.

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Strickland

cormorants

 
The double-crested cormorant is a waterbird associated with inland waterways as well as on the coast. They catch fish by swimming and diving, and nest in trees, cliffs and on the ground on predator-free islands. Cormorants are protected by international treaty and federal law. (photo/Department of Fish & Game)

 

Spring seemed to arrive in the Northwest in mid-March, but the end of the month pulled it away in favor of resumed colder temperatures. Given April’s history, that could last a while.

As the Idaho Legislature seemed to be moving toward an adjournment early in April, many of its members seemed to pull back on quick and easy resolution of the remaining financial issues (especially transportation). The spring groundhog says: Look for another week, or maybe two or beyond, of this.

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Briefings

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)

Bill would aid public defender system (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
More about police and mental illness cases (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon Co expects wildfires this summer (Nampa Press Tribune)

Local schools helping refugees from Mexico (Medford Tribune)
Massively more sea lions at Oregon ports (Portland Oregonian)
Cherriots considers Saturday buses (Salem Statesman Journal)

Compromise reached on Snohomish courthouse (Everett Herald)
Boeing tax bill reaches legislative climax (Everett Herald)
How WSU got its med school permissions (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Spokane transit looks to Proposition 1 for help (Spokane Spokesman)
Traffic on Columbia bridges rising again (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

Could we be nearing the moment to really address climate change?

A quick answer is “no.” Of course not.

The Republicans in Congress are hell-bent on pretending that climate change does not exist let along agree to any shifts in policy. So they continue to fight for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. As the House Energy and Commerce Committee tells the story, the pipeline expansion “would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day 875 miles from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. From there, the oil would go to refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast. The new pipeline would also transport some of the rapidly-increasing oil production from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.”

But here is the thing: There is already a glut of oil and the idea of adding more makes no sense.

As National Public Radio reported last week “there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.” How big a decline is an unknown. NPR quotes a Citigroup analyst saying $20 a barrel is possible. Others predict a continued fall in oil, to, say, $35 a barrel. Oil is a commodity and traded on public markets. So the price depends on perception about its supply and scarcity.

One reason why there is so much oil out there is that people are using less. The Nation recently wrote that the Energy Information Administration “projected that global oil demand would reach 103.2 million barrels per day in 2015; now, it’s lowered that figure for this year to only 93.1 million barrels. Those 10 million “lost” barrels per day in expected consumption may not seem like a lot, given the total figure, but keep in mind that Big Oil’s multibillion-dollar investments in tough energy were predicated on all that added demand materializing, thereby generating the kind of high prices needed to offset the increasing costs of extraction. With so much anticipated demand vanishing, however, prices were bound to collapse.”

I happen to think the decline in consumption is a long-term trend. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that people drive less after 40 years old — and the Baby Boom is long past that. A New Direction Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future, a 2013 report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that “Americans drive no more miles in total today than we did in 2004 and no more per person than we did in 1996.”

And, while Baby Boomers are less inclined to drive, the Millennial generation is thinking about transportation differently, “driving significantly less than previous generations of young Americans. Millennials are already the largest generation in the United States and their choices will play a crucial role in determining future transportation infrastructure needs.”

Even if gas prices stay low these trends are not likely to reverse. As the New Direction report points out: “If the Millennial-led decline in per capita driving continues for another dozen years, even at half the annual rate … total vehicle travel in the United States could remain well below its 2007 peak through at least 2040—despite a 21 percent increase in population.”

Of course Indian Country is unlikely to be included in this data. Too many reservations require driving because there are few other alternatives. And the price of gas determines how much we’ll have to spend on everything else.

And the idea of cheap gas could help sell climate action. If it’s not profitable to pump oil right now, perhaps, oil companies will find a reason to delay investments in new projects. That means leaving carbon products in the ground for a better return on investment.

This is already happening in Canada. TransCanada is giving up on plans for a new energy port and delaying one of its pipeline projects.

On Tuesday the White House said the U.S. will double the pace of carbon reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average during the 2005-2020 period to 2.3-2.8 percent per year on average between 2020 and 2025. “This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the pathway to achieve deep economy-wide reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050,” the White House said.

And Keystone XL? I don’t see how the White House could justify this project on economic or climate grounds. And especially now because the only way to reach those targets (which most experts say is only a modest improvement) is leave oil right where it is. And now, for a moment at least, it’s the interest of oil companies to do the same.

So long live $20 oil. And let’s leave it in the ground.

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

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Trahant

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)

Slower rise in Idaho college tuition (Boise Statesman)
Nearing end of legislature (Boise Statesman)
Legislative discussion of who pays for mental health (IF Post Register)
Debate over pay raises at Idaho Falls Power (IF Post Register)
Reviewing the region’s mental health system (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon County crime continues to diminish (Nampa Press Tribune)
Stalemate over legislative transportation action (Nampa Press Tribune)
Possible Pocatello, Chubbuck fire department merger (Pocatello Journal)

How the Civic Stadium buy came together (Eugene Register Guard)
Sardine fishing may close on coast (KF Herald & News)
Redband surveys by state underway at Spring Creek (KF Herald & News)
Building more routes for walking and biking (Medford Tribune)
More about the 94k Hayes email release (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Wyden and firefighting funding legislation (Salem Statesman Journal)

Details of Inslee’s climate proposal (Bellingham Herald)
WA clinic will need 18 months to open (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee opposing new state cleanup plan (Bremerton Sun)
Timber sale near Index will continue (Everett Herald)
Green gorge electricity carrying local costs (Longview News)
Sardine fishing may close on west coast (Longview News)
Financial trouble on mobile home financing (Seattle Times)
Washington hopes to collect online taxes (Spokane Spokesman)
179th St in east Vancouver may be developed (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Let’s take last week’s Bonneville County Muslin newsletter article – that took Idaho national once again on the subject of fear and loathing of an “other” – from a slightly different angle.

The article in question, “Islam in Idaho,” went out over the name of Doyle Beck, chair of the Bonneville County Republicans, though it apparently was written by another member of the group, Becky Prestwich. An apology to Idaho Muslims reportedly is in the works.

It consisted mainly of four paragraphs. One referred to “Political Correctness [which] is code speak for the ability to silence your critics. I don’t believe in it . . . I will vociferously attack egregious political issues and endeavor to let the people I serve know what is happening.”

What that is, came in paragraph two: “It is no secret that the “islamatization” of America is a wide spread fear. . . . And make no mistake; if you are not a Muslim, you are an infidel. Period. Even in Muslim nations there is constant murder of Muslims not of the same flavor. So you have to be the right kind of Muslim, but even that depends on what kind of Muslim attacker you encounter.”

The third paragraph suggests that depictions of Islam in a less harsh way are deceptive.

Here’s the fourth: “So when someone brings to our attention that Muslims are infiltrating even in places like Idaho, we must pay attention. We must demand that our lawmakers and law enforcers pay attention and ascertain whether or not there is a potential threat. Read this article and decide for yourself if we have a potential problem in Idaho. I, for one, believe this is something to take seriously. If you do too, contact your legislators and let them know you expect them to look into this. Please, don’t wait until something bad happens.”

So . . . how exactly would this Islamic takeover of Idaho work? Give me the nuts and bolts. What exactly is it that some portion of the Bonneville County Republicans are so concerned is going to happen?

Let’s make this concrete. Are we expected to believe Muslims are going to start winning elective office in Idaho in such numbers as to take over county courthouses, the Idaho legislature and judiciary? Let’s imagine Muslims winning Idaho’s congressional seats, shall we? How about the governor’s office while we’re at it? For all the radio talk show chatter about imposition of Sharia law in America . . . where exactly has that ever been attempted? And how exactly would it happen?

If these horrors are going to happen in Idaho, presumably they would be happening in other states. Which states exactly are those? Where is religious Muslim control ascendant in this country?

Or is this supposed to be a violent takeover? Are we being asked to imagine Muslims behind the Idaho sagebrush, stockpiling weapons to . . . uh, do what exactly? Come on, be specific: What precisely do you expect they – it’s always a “they” – are positioning themselves to do?

The letter is specific enough in one sentence contending, “It is no secret that the ‘islamatization’ of America is a wide spread fear.” There’s plenty of fear being generated, all right, on the radio, by political figures: Fear without basis. There is no threat, no measurable prospect, of a Muslim takeover of any part of this country, even a single county, and much less in Idaho. Making that point doesn’t even contradict the Bonneville letter, so full is it of weasel words: “ascertain whether or not there is a potential threat. . . if we have a potential problem in Idaho . . . something to take seriously. . .. don’t wait until something bad happens.” You’ll search in vain for anything resembling specifics: There aren’t any.

There is only the promotion of fear, and people who sense advantage in trying to scare their fellow Americans and fellow Idahoans to death. So I’d suggest posing to the Bonneville County Republicans a question about why they’re so busy trying to terrify Idaho people over a non-existent problem. With that in mind, I suggest:

“Read this article and decide for yourself if we have a potential problem in Idaho. I, for one, believe this is something to take seriously. If you do too, contact your legislators and let them know you expect them to look into this. Please, don’t wait until something bad happens.”

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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)

Boise considers fast food near high schools (Boise Statesman)
Boise farmers market opens for year (Boise Statesman)
Limitations on mental health treatment in Idaho (IF Post Register)
Legislation approved for STEM education (IF Post Register)
Idaho wolves grow in numbers last year (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Agricultural drone launched in Kendrick area (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WSU plans for medical school (Moscow News)
Legislators react to transportation money shortfall (Nampa Press Tribune)
Dutch Brothers Coffee comes to Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)

State releases 94,000 Hayes-related e-mails (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
Legislature considers tuition again (Eugene Register Guard)
Lakeview faces possible loss of three physicians (KF Herald & News)
Some highways could rise to 75 mph (KF Herald & News)
State IT at risk over outdated software (Pendleton E Oregonian)

Ferries whistleblower nets $1m (Bremerton Sun)
KapStone workers turn down labor deal (Longview News)
Limitations on making hash oil possible (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Fast-track trade authority hotly debated in WA (Olympian)
Court won’t block shipping of zoo elephants to Oklahoma (Seattle Times)
Legislators still debating budget bill (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

book

It started one day when Roger Plothow, the publisher of the Idaho Falls Post Register daily newspaper, was talking at home about the letters to the editor his paper received, and especially some of those it didn’t publish. His son said that might be a good idea for a book.

He was right.

What happened next was that Plothow and his staff collected some of the most, ah, interesting of the letters that didn’t make the cut. There’s good reason letters like those get a lot of attention in newsrooms, and get passed around and much commented on.

They’re entertaining. Highly entertaining.

See The Unpublished page, and order your copy.

So this is the book bringing together many of the letters – they date generally from 2010 up to this year – which get a lot of attention in the newsroom. Some letters were just outright unprintable by any standard (extreme bad taste, libel and so on) and couldn’t make even this collection. But quite a few, for one reason or another, just seemed to beg for the light of day. The authors’ names were, however, redacted.

It’s not that Plothow and his staff have anything else letters to the editor. Quite the contrary: They print a lot of them every year, and prize the interaction with readers. Toward the end of this book, they also selected about a dozen of the best letters they received as examples of how the form can be done well. Many of those well-crafted letters happened to be sharp blasts at the Post Register, just as many of the rejects were. Attitude toward the paper wasn’t the dividing line; it had more to do with attitude toward logic and language.

The specific reasons for the rejections, though, aren’t noted here, at least letter by letter. Instead, make the judgement for yourself: Should this letter have been rejected, and if so, why? You may find yourself reading through an unexpectedly provocative book.

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books

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)

Ag-gag law reviewed after a year (Boise Statesman)
Otter signs teacher pay, salamander bills (Boise Statesman)
State said Boise Aquarium badly managed (Boise Statesman)
WA House approved budget plan (Lewiston Tribune)
Inslee visits Pullman for clean energy (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Public employees names public during inquiries (Moscow News)
House panel passes cannabis oil measure (Nampa Press Tribune)
More work underway on transportation funding (Nampa Press Tribune)
Apology offered over GOP Muslim article (Pocatello Journal)

Klamath schools see funding problem (KF Herald & News)
A look into subscription scam charges (Medford Tribune)
Unusual ran of auto thefts during March (Medford Tribune)
Unemployment rates continue to fall (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hayes asking state for help with legal costs (Pendleton E Oregonian)
OSU analysts says Oregon might over-grow pot (Pendleton E Oregonian)
How to make rail oil transport safer? (Portland Oregonian)

Pay raises urged for sheriff, others (Bellingham Herald)
Finance industry sometimes unaware of disasters (Everett Herald)
Cold snap hitting area farms (Kennewick Herald)
Area hospital exec Sy Johnson will resign (Longview News)
WA House clears plan for budget (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Federal court bears down on seat over mentally ill (Seattle Times)
Nordstrom shareholder complains over family air fleet (Seattle Times)
Idaho teacher pay increase becomes law (Spokane Spokesman)
Inslee visits Schweitzer energy labs at Pullman (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce transit hired new CEO (Tacoma News Tribune)

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First Take