Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in May 2015

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

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)

Deep spending cuts


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. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing 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)

Special session rules


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:

[polldaddy poll=8840661 align="right"]

“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. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

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)

A mistake admitted

frazier DAVID


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.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Study says Ada County doesn't recycle much (Boise Statesman)
CWI board leader apologizes for property buy (Boise Statesman)
CWI can bypass land reappraisal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Airstream moves into Caldwell tomorrow (Nampa Press Tribune)

First of 18 cruise ships comes to Astoria (Astorian)
State upholds Clatsop ruling against LNG pieline (Astorian)
Long Beach consider dog ban from ball parks (Astorian)
Court rejects most PERS reforms (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Discover Klamath seeks to hire two people (KF Herald & News)
Salem looks into bicycle boulevards (Salem Statesman Journal)
Portland Building work may cost $175m (Portland Oregonian)

Sterling Life may shut down (Bellingham Herald)
32 cases of e coli from festical at Lynden (Bellingham Herald)
Permit rejected by Bremerton gun club (Bremerton Sun)
Money missing from Bothell police safe (Everett Herald)
Little electronic evidence on Kelley (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald)
Food concerns over oysters and pesticides (Seattle Times)
Spokane finds gap in adult dental care (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co okays e-cigarette ban (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima air quality called poor (Yakima Herald Republic)