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)

Boise showing good crime rate (Boise Statesman)
CWI may reconsider doing property appraisals (Boise Statesman)
New report blasts need for Dubois sheep station (IF Post Register)
Caldwell rejects ethanol plant permit (Nampa Press Tribune)
Moyle says land buy appraisals should be required (Nampa Press Tribune)

Anderson moves from Oregonian to Register Guard (Eugene Register Guard)
New apartent complex planned for north Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Irrigators will cut water runs (KF Herald & News)
Second Klamath pot dispensary may open (KF Herald & News)
Local residents deeply involve in pot rules (Medford Tribune)
Checking local impacts of PERS decision (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton council sets pot rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cop camera measure passes state House (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Upcoming Obama visit parly about trade (Portland Oregonian)
Hales wants to spend surplus on street repair (Portland Oregonian)
Debate on school vaccination disclosure bill (Salem Statesman Journal)

Index area timber harvest okayed (Everett Herald)
Housing prices rising to near 2007 levels (Seattle Times)
Comcast will open Spokane-area call center (Spokane Spokesman)
Mentally ill subject of hot legislative debate (Vancouver Columbian)
Water district ends water for two weeks (Yakima Herald Republic)

Share on Facebook

First Take

Yes, this is still Ridenbaugh Press, and the stuff that’s been here is still here – including all our posts going back to 2005. We’ll be making some substantive additions in the weeks and months to come, but the change you’re seeing today is mainly cosmetic.

We’ve used the same basic design for more than five years, so it was past time for something new. As it happens, Google gave us to the push. One of the big pieces of recent news this season for people running web sites is that Google is ratcheting down in its search rankings any web site that isn’t “responsive” to a range of viewers – not just desktop or notebook computers but smart phones, tablets and so forth. The old design was not “responsive,” and making it so (while keeping it generally the same) would have been a complex and messy operation. So we decided to start fresh.

And according to Google’s own web tool, ridenbaugh.com now is fully responsive. (Try it out on other sites; you may find the results interesting.)

What you see here today is what we’ve done after spending a couple of hours tweaking the core design (it should be more complete within three or four days), which is called Ignite. The simplicity of it, and its emphasis on the word and on typography, were appealing. But let us know what you think.

Share on Facebook

website

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)

Some SkyWest pay in Boise lower than expected (Boise Statesman)
Boise finds waste at new park, could spend $2.5m (Boise Statesman)
Otter posts child support proposal (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Higher teacher pay coming to Idaho (IF Post Register)
St. Luke’s shows off new Nampa hospital plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa council approces new streetscape (Nampa Press Tribune)
New building inspector approved for TF (TF Times News)
Buhl Herald reopens with new owner (TF Times News)

Senate approves background check measure (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Small rural areas seeking medical help (Medford Tribune)
Senate passes agri-tourism liability bill (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Prison criticised over mentally ill treatment (Portland Oregonian)

WSU looks for med school dean (Kennewick Herald)
Seattle wants new permit for drills at terminal (Seattle Times)
Rate increase request for Avista reduced (Spokane Spokesman)
Predictions for water this summer get worse (Yakima Herald Republic)

Share on Facebook

First Take

Senator Mike Padden said he went into the 2015 regular session with a goal of increasing the opportunities for public participation in the legislative process. An analysis of the Senate’s remote testimony pilot program shows that Padden and his colleagues in the Senate took significant steps toward achieving that goal in that chamber, and now he plans to push just as hard to encourage the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead. Remote testimony was offered 53 times during the regular-session pilot project – 31 times by invited participants and 22 times on an unsolicited basis from members of the public. (photo/Washington Senate)

Early indications: The Washington legislature will be using up most of the days available to it in special session. Maybe all of them.

The big legislative and budget news in Oregon this week was made not at the Statehouse but nearby – at the Oregon Supreme Court, which rejected (as violating contract terms) most of a grand compromise agreed to in 2013 by Democrats and Republicans. The PERS battle may begin again.

The suspense finally broke, at least on one level, last week: Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said that he would call the legislature back into session this month. Whether it will do what he is asking it to do – pass a child support interstate agreement it rejected during the regular session – remained a little less clear.

Share on Facebook

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)

Building growing in Twin Falls (TF Times News)
TF council to consider new road plans (TF Times News)
Idaho Power proposes Caldwell Simplot deal (Nampa Press Tribune)

Lane Co resident proposes Lane Co currency (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford may order tear-down of blighted buildings (Medford Tribune)
Watching closely for an off-shore eruption (Portland Oregonian)
Battle between weed sprayers and residents (Portland Oregonian)
Ballots arriving in mailboxes (Salem Statesman Journal)

Expectations rise for heavy wildfires this year (Everett Herald)
New math, English exams arrive this term (Everett Herald)
Microsoft more cooperative with other players (Seattle Times)
State drops permits for pesticides at oyster beds (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian)

Share on Facebook

First Take

stapiluslogo1

House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on a budget resolution. That agreement then would go to each House for a vote. (An outcome that is not certain.) But, if it passes, it would be the first budget enacted by Congress in six years.

Let’s be clear about this plan: It would require deep spending cuts in federal Indian programs.

While the budget itself is not law, it sets limits for each of the appropriations committees to follow. According to a report from The Associated Press the draft document adds some $40 billion to military spending and calls for deep cuts to all domestic programs, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

“The plan sets broad budget goals but by itself has little teeth; instead, painful follow-up legislation would be required to actually balance the budget,” the AP said. “It also permits the GOP majority to suspend the Senate’s filibuster rule and deliver a special measure known as a reconciliation bill to Obama without the threat of Democratic opposition. Republicans plan to use the special filibuster-proof bill to wage an assault on Obama’s Affordable Care Act rather than try to impose a variety of painful cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, and other so-called mandatory programs over Obama’s opposition.”

The House budget is blunt about the next steps required to balance the budget within a decade, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “None of the reforms proposed in this budget will be able to solve the underlying challenges in our health care system so long as Obamacare remains on the books. Our budget fully repeals Obamacare,” according to the budget plan.

This very notion sets up an debate. President Barrack Obama would need to sign any appropriation into law — so a veto threat has merit. But the Congress still must pass a bill to appropriate money that would defy their own budget rules on programs such as the Indian Health Service (because some of that agency’s authorizing legislation is the Affordable Care Act. Remember: The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a chapter of the ACA.)

This debate is going to be difficult to resolve.

At the same moment that the Congress is pursuing its latest “repeal” of the Affordable Care Act more states, even states controlled by Republicans, are moving forward with an expansion of Medicaid. This may be the most important part of the Affordable Care Act, especially for Indian Country because it’s adding new dollars to the underfunded health care system. Montana is the latest state to expand Medicaid.

A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation says hospitals in states with Medicaid expansion are reporting a significant decrease in uncompensated care and a boost from Medicaid revenue. “Overall,” the report said, “hospitals in Medicaid expansion states saw increased Medicaid discharges, increased Medicaid revenue, and decreased cost of care for the poor, while hospitals in non-expansion states saw a very small increase in Medicaid discharges, a decline in Medicaid revenue, and growth in cost of care to the poor.”

In past budget years, American Indian and Alaska Native programs have been able to get support from the appropriations committees, but in this cycle there will be less flexibility because of the instructions in the budget. The ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey from New York, said the “Majority’s allocations, which are based on the House budget resolution that passed on a party-line vote, are insufficient and fundamentally flawed.”

She said: “The Interior bill’s allocation paints a similar picture with an allocation that is $246 million below the FY 2015 enacted level. We will still have to cover the increased costs to combat deadly wild fires, provide contract support costs in the Indian Health Services, and prepare for Centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, all from an allocation below last year.”

This budget resolution would cut deeper than even the sequester. As Lowey said in a press release, “I think my colleagues on the other side generally agree that sequestration was a failure, and a return to those sequester-level caps threatens important defense and non-defense priorities alike.”

The Republicans have yet to identify specific spending numbers based on their budget targets.

No Democratic votes are required in either the House or the Senate to enact this budget resolution. The president does not need to sign the resolution, but he will need to sign into law any future appropriations based on the spending plan.

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.

Share on Facebook

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)

Reviewing papers released from St. Luke’s lawsuit (Boise Statesman)
Aftermath of $61m mess in school broadband (Boise Statesman)
Higher costs and delays at IF waste treatment (IF Post Register)
Debate arises over Caldwell ethanol plant (Nampa Press Tribune)
School admins working through career ladder (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU plans to build new basketball stadium (Pocatello Journal)
E Idaho law enforcement reviews gang threat (Pocatello Journal)
INL waste treatment center pircy, still not working (TF Times News)

Lane Co vehicle fee will go on ballot (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislators consider policy on cop cams (Eugene Register Guard)
Large solar power effort planned for bypass (KF Herald & News)
PERS ruling creates hard budget choices (Medford Tribune)
Rents rising fast around Medford area (Medford Tribune)
The USDA and salmonella chicken cases (Portland Oregonian)

Snohomish PUD contract examined (Everett Herald)
Pasco School Board accused of meeting closures (Kennewich Herad)
Major jellyfish bloom in Puget Sound (Seattle Times)
Sheriff and union disagree over Pierce jail (Tacoma News Tribune)

Share on Facebook

First Take

stapiluslogo1

There’s a standard rule of thumb when it comes to calling a special legislative session – in any state – and it is this: You do not call it if you do not have the votes to accomplish what you think needs to be done.

The last time a special session was called in Idaho, in 2006, that was the measure of success, and then-Governor Jim Risch passed it.

The issue on deck then was property taxes, the subject of a simmering revolt at the time Risch was sworn into office in May 2006. He promised to deal with the situation, and a few weeks later, amid the prospect of a special session , I wrote this:

“Risch has said that he won’t call a session unless the votes to pass the needed legislation are lined up in advance, so the session will be a slam dunk. (Which is the completely appropriate standard; it worked well in Oregon earlier this year.) That means he presumably can’t now just call one and hope for the best. But how much progress he’s making with the legislators, getting them whipped into shape, is unclear. The special session talk has been going on for many weeks, well before Risch took over as governor. Since then, six weeks since Risch’s bold inaugural statement, we’ve heard he’s been pressing hard to get the deal done, but no visible indications of success have appeared. We’re inclined to take his recent setting of August 25 as a prospective session date, in fact, as another attempt to pressure lawmakers to the table – an indication that they weren’t rushing there on their own. And if the legislators won’t come to the table, who takes the fall?”

Risch, a deeply experienced and ace vote counter, got the property tax measure House Bill 1 passed in a one-day session. But that makes it sound easier than it was. That single day was grueling, not least because legislative Democrats bitterly opposed the bill and fought it at every turn (they couldn’t stop it, but they could make passage difficult). But there was also this: The vote in the House was 47-23 and in the Senate 24-11, just enough for a two-thirds majority in each chamber, which meant just enough to move it quickly through the system and avoid an even more drawn-out battle. As I wrote that day, “This thing was calculated precisely.”

Now Otter has called his special session (the first of his three terms as governor), for May 18. He does it at some risk. It was the kind of risk he avoided in his state of the state speech, when he called on lawmakers to do various things but avoided prescribing the exact terms. Now, he has to do exactly that; and lawmakers sometimes bridle at the imposition. And he will have to calculate precisely.

Otter made a point of saying the bill whose passage he seeks – a remake of the child support interstate agreement measure killed earlier this month in the House Judiciary Committee – will be posted online so people have time to look at it. He pointed out that the Department of Health and Welfare is able to break down the number of at-risk children by legislative district (and presumably it will). He made a point of saying he’s been working closely on this with House Speaker Scott Bedke, putting Bedke on the line here too.

His points in favor of passage are well-aimed, too: “It is very important to the state of Idaho and our continued effort on personal responsibility, and that’s really what it comes down to … to have folks that have children not be able to escape that personal responsibility by moving either to another state or another country.”

These are good moves, and suggest Otter is taking nothing for granted. Asked what might happen and what he would tell parents in need of child support if the session fails to pass the bill, Otter answered this way:

“My message to them is: Pray for success. We can use all the help that we can get.”

Share on Facebook

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)

CWI trustees respond on purchase issue (Nampa Press Tribune)
Work will transform Webb Road (Lewiston Tribune)
Who are senators interviewing for judge? (TF Times News)
Closely wtching this year’s aquifer recharge (TF Times News)

DA says Eugene cop shooting was justified (Eugene Register Guard)
Noting investors critical to Civic Stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Bill would allow limited self-serve gas (KF Herald & News)
Medford police adopt body cameras (Medford Tribune)
Kindergartners better vaccinated in 2015 (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune)
Record number prisoners at Umatilla jail (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cylvia Hayes email case debated in court (Salem Statesman Journal)
Minto-Brown bridge construction begins (Salem Statesman Journal)

Lots of criticism of oil train rules (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bellingham Herald)
Longer hours for Bremerton foot ferry (Bremerton Sun)
One-day teacher strikes spreading (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse gets help from Simpson on Hanford funds (Kennewick Herald)
Immigration rally at Seattle turns violent (Seattle Times)
Low snow levels statewide create issues (Spokane Spokesman)
Yakima city may lease 260 parking spots (Yakima Herald Republic)

Share on Facebook

First Take

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Mary Niland, chairperson of the College of Western Idaho board, told the Idaho Statesman Thursday, “If I had it to do all over again, I would have looked at the tax assessment and would have asked for the appraisal. All I can tell you is we didn’t think about it. It was a mistake, and we are accountable for that.”

The GUARDIAN raised the issue of failure to obtain an appraisal in a Tuesday POST about purchase of land at 30th and Main in Boise. The deal calls for CWI to pay more than double the $3.6 million value set by the Ada County Assessor. CWI has agreed to pay $8.8 million, but has not released documents requested by the GUARDIAN under the freedom of information law.

The legacy media joined us in questioning CWI officials who claim the institution does not need to follow Idaho Code 33-601 which appears to REQUIRE appraisals for property acquisition.

Despite the public apology by Niland and other board members stand behind the decision to pay $5.2 million more than the assessed value. Property values are a moving target, but the Ada assessor has a record of hitting that target within a 96% accuracy, according to the Idaho Tax Commission.

We would like to see an independent appraisal of the old Bob Rice Ford lot. Had the CWI board taken the time to check the value themselves, they would have been positioned to get a much better price during their secret negotiations.

Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN awaits the documents we requested earlier in the week. When they come in, we will share any news.

Share on Facebook

Frazier