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Posts published in July 2015

On the border

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Across the border from Idaho, people are buying, selling and consuming marijuana – legally under state law.

As of July 1, the rules changed in Oregon to more or less throw the doors open, at least within a tax-and-regulate system.

If you think about the way Idahoans interact with their liquor sales system, you could draw a rough comparison, factoring in private businesses (not state stores) that can sell pot and some limitations on how much of it a single person or household can possess, or grow. But balanced out, the sense of the rules is not far from the level of regulation Idaho has for liquor; the Oregon argument called for legalizing, regulating and taxing it. (The Oregon agency charged with overseeing it is its state liquor control agency.)

The activity is likely to be thinner in the areas near Idaho, east of the Cascades, because a new state law made it a little easier for local cities and counties to limit or ban pot-related businesses (though not pot possession or use) locally. The provision applies to counties which opposed legalization, all of which are east of the Cascades. You can expect to see some headlines about whether Ontario and other border communities, for example, will allow pot shops within city limits.

That may soften the borderline effect a little, but it won’t do away with it.

The changes in Oregon mean, adding in the similar system in Washington state, the whole west side of Idaho now faces states where under state law – if not fully federal – the marijuana marketplace is largely open. There’s also Alaska, for good measure. And, of course, one state over, Colorado is the fourth state to approve full legalization. In each of these states, businesses are developing, local societies are adjusting and legal marijuana is becoming a billion-dollar industry.

That’s the recreation pot picture, but bear in mind that most western states now allow for medical uses. West of Texas and the Dakotas, all but three states (Idaho, Utah, Wyoming) have at least partial legalization. Nevada and Montana allow for medical use, and there’s a good chance one or both will move toward full legalization in the next election or two.

Idaho, Utah or Wyoming, of course, seem no more likely today to legalize than they ever have. What’s happening – and the change in Oregon last week emphasized it again – is that those three are becoming an island in the West.

To be clear, of course, that’s not the same thing as being an island in the nation. Across the Great Plains, the old South and the mid-Atlantic states, the rules on marijuana are mostly still unchanged. But the West (and the Northeast, and part of the Great Lakes area) have moved into a new regime, and in sharp contrast to a decade ago, Idaho is becoming part of the aberration.

This is of course just one issue, and most directly it affects only a minority of people – the number of legal pot users in the “legal states” surely will be limited, and the number of illegal users in the prohibition states even smaller. But the effects could be broader, especially if people from the “legal states” – including non-users – start reporting persistent experiences of being stopped and searched across the border.

There’s been some of this already, and the fact that most of the enforcement activity in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming doesn’t seem to have changed in recent years may not matter a lot.

The gaps in laws and permissions between the states long have been significant, but the change in marijuana laws is ratcheting things up significantly.

First take

The Idaho State Police on July 2 engaged in an unusually extensive and difficult high-speed pursuit in the Lewiston area. From a report by the state police:

On July 2, at about 9:43 a.m., the Idaho State Police initiated an enforcement contact on a 2002 Ford pickup on US-95 at MP 286, for speeding. It was determined the vehicle was stolen out of Gooding County, Idaho. The male driver fled the scene northbound and was pursued by ISP. The driver of the Ford operated the vehicle at high speeds and in a reckless manner. Assistance with the pursuit was provided by the Nez Perce Tribal Police.

Two unsuccessful attempts were made to stop the Ford utilizing spike strips. At MP 305 on US-95, the Ford began traveling recklessly northbound in the southbound lane almost striking a patrol vehicle and the motoring public at a high rate of speed.

At MP 308 on US-95, ISP utilized a pit maneuver to stop the Ford. The Ford lost control and rolled. The Ford stopped momentarily and as Troopers approached on foot, the driver then attempted to strike a Trooper with the Ford. The Trooper fired his duty weapon to protect himself and to stop the operation of the Ford without regard for the safety of others.
The Ford then traveled southbound on US-95 at a high rate of speed. At approximate MP 306, the Ford veered into a Historical site turnout, then over and down a steep embankment to the Clearwater Rivers' edge.

The male driver exited the Ford and jumped into the Clearwater River. The driver swam across the river and exited on the south bank then disappeared into the trees. The Idaho State Police, Nez Perce Tribal Police, Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office, and Nez Perce County Search & Rescue initiated a search for the driver. The Lewis County Sheriff K-9 assisted with the search. The Lewiston Police Department is conducting the investigation involving the discharge of the Trooper's duty weapon in accordance with the Critical Incident Task Force agreement.
The driver is identified as David R. Pegram, DOB 04/10/1984. Pegram is 5'9", 160 pounds, blue eyes and blond hair. Pegram was last wearing dark shorts, flip flops and no shirt. Pegram has a tattoo of a naked lady on his right chest area. At the time of this press release, Pegram is still at large.

(An update noted that Pegram had been captured.)

Shame enough for all

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It’s been about two weeks since South Carolina’s Governor Haley kicked off the “Ban-The-Confederate-Flag” Olympics. Living here in our far-removed Northwest neighborhood, we haven’t seen or heard much more about the aftermath. At least less than I would have thought. But don’t think all’s quiet in the Confederacy.

In these few days, seven Black churches in three states have burned, though two may have started by some means other than arson. Still, five out of seven is substantial for 14 days. Several Black women pastors have received anonymous letters threatening them and their families. Videos are surfacing of race baiters/rednecks with Confederate flags waving on gun-toting pickups, driving fast and wild through Black neighborhoods in several states. Southern talk radio is filled with demands to save the old banner and condemning all who disagree as “crazy racist Yankees.” White-on-black crime is up. Wonder how the How should all of us feel about that.

I’ve been tickled watching Southern politicians of all stripes trying to figure which way to jump on this one. Some Democrats - not all - have gotten on-board with the banishment. Republicans - most all - are trying to figure out which way the re-election winds are blowing before making “commitments” to one side or the other. A few GOPers have dug in their heels, issuing firm “maybes” in press releases while dodging the media.

Southern newspaper editorial opining is all over the Confederate map. Letters from readers defending the flag are running much higher than those wanting it gone. Paid ads supporting keeping the flag are commonplace. Radio and TV, too.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending the flag or other public symbols of the old Confederacy. Not by a long shot. No, what concerns me is some voices are going too far with this “cleansing” of public conscience. Ol’ Mitch McConnell wants a statue of Jeff Davis tossed out of the Kentucky Statehouse. Same efforts in Virginia and North Carolina. Certain members of Congress - with nothing better to do - are carefully scrutinizing replicas in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill, looking for candidates for the scrap heap. Funny thing about that is a lot of ‘em have been wandering to and fro in Statuary Hall for years without even a glance at the marble works.

Feeding all this is the usual mindless blathering of the national media. We’re being inundated with “experts” on this-that-and-the-other who appear as ignorant about Civil War era details as the makeup-covered faces posing stupid questions. Heard one chemical blonde the other day ask, “What do you think slaves would say about this issue today?” She obviously slept through a few classes in both journalism AND history.

But, lest we get too cocky in our geographical detachment from the center of the current Confederate issues, we should not forget our own historical wrongdoing and one of this nation’s most tragic sins - Japanese-American internment camps of World War II.

On orders of President Roosevelt - loudly and embarrassingly urged on by Idaho’s Sen. Borah - we abridged rights of citizenship, illegally confiscated private property in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and confined hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans in conditions sometimes less habitable than those of the South’s slave days. Our Northwest vastness was dotted with plywood and tar paper barracks in which people roasted while suffering in summer heat, then nearly froze to death while suffering in winter’s harshness. All the while surrounded by high, wire fences and armed guards. Under the American flag.

Often, some of those mixed-race Americans were farmed out to tend to land and crops formerly their own - holdings many eventually lost. We used them as conscripted labor for war projects. We provided poorly for their basic human needs. And we made them the butt of racial “jokes” and irrational thinking. Bad as it was then, what if today’s hate radio and I-net had been around in those days?

No, the Confederate flag and all its attendant issues may be geographically beyond our horizons. We may shrug and give little serious thought to the south’s history of bigotry, slavery and state’s rights dramas. But, in truth, we’re brothers and sisters in denying a generation of civil rights for thousands of innocent people here in our own backyard.
Bigotry comes in many forms. I dearly hope the South and employment-seeking politicians don’t sweep too much history of slavery and racism into the garbage heap. But, I also pray we, in our distant relationship to those matters, don’t forget our portion of the country created a period of time when we acted ignorantly and in haste to condemn and wrongfully punish hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. Americans all.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs simply make - two wrongs.
And we’ve all done ‘em.

First take

Idaho may be more like what America was, in some ways, but it's nonetheless getting more ethnically diverse, according to new numbers out from the state Department of Labor. The Hispanic share of the population now is 12%, compared to 11.2% in 2010. Consider this broader picture: it was 7.9% in 2000, and 5.3% in 1990. That's some major change in the last quarter-century. On the other hand, the department also offers this tidbit: "Hispanics between the ages of 40 and 64 had the largest numeric increase at 1,889, but the age group over age 65 had the highest growth rate at 8.2 percent. This ethnic section of Idaho’s population is aging slightly faster than the state as a whole."

On the ballot

Inititiaves are rolling in for the Washington ballot. A report just in from David Ammons of the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Two citizen initiative campaign submitted boxloads of petitions by the Friday deadline, and both appear to have an excellent shot at making the statewide ballot this fall.

Tim Eyman, the state’s most prominent use of the initiative process, turned in what he and co-sponsors Jack and Mike Fagan estimated at at least 334,000 signatures for their Initiative 1366. That measure would direct the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot for ratification — or face a 1-cent reduction in the state’s 6.5-cent sales tax.

The State Supreme Court previously overturned an earlier Eyman initiative to require a two-thirds vote in both houses to approve tax hikes in Olympia. The only way to overcome that ruling would be to amend the state Constitution. Voters can’t amend by initiative; it must originate in the Legislature, with two-thirds votes in both chambers. I-1366 would provide an incentive — a potential $1 billion annual revenue loss — for lawmakers to place it on the ballot.

The other measure, Initiative 1401, is backed by billionaire Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner Paul Allen. It would expand state authority over combatting trafficking of endangered species and their parts. It would make selling, purchasing, trading, or distributing endangered animals and products containing such species, a gross misdemeanor or class-C felony, with exemptions for certain types of transfers.

Their backers brought in an estimated 349,000 signatures on Wednesday.

If history is a guide, both measures are likely to make the fall ballot. The bare minimum is 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters. To cover duplicates or invalid signatures, the state Elections Division always recommends submitting about 325,000 to be on the safe side.

Both sets of petitions will undergo a page-by-page inspection, including a preliminary fraud check, and then go to the State Archives for imaging. When images return, the Elections work crew will compile them into volumes and prepare for random-sampling of 3 percent of the signatures to see if they match those on file for registered voters. Actual scrutiny of the sample will begin about July 13 and should be complete by the week of the 20th.

First Take

It's hot. Hot enough to to be concerned about it. In many areas around the west the weather in June was the hottest ever on record - in large parts of Oregon, Idaho and Washington and lots of California (which sure doesn't need it) among others. Now July is starting off hot, and the traditional norm is that later July to mid-August is the hottest of the year. What effects might this have on power production, on health, on agriculture, on wildfires?

Does anyone have any idea what's up with Dan Popkey's rap here? (He is press secretary for Representative Raul Labrador.) Would be curious to know. A lot of other people would be curious to know too . . .

Effective resignation letters

Michael Strickland teaches literacy education at Boise State University. He consults about writing, publishing and social media. Join the discussion and for free tips and resources.

An employee baked a cake with her resignation letter written on top. A marching band accompanied one guy with his announcement. The worker threw a brick through the window with the words “I quit” written on it. An employee left a sticky note explaining he was quitting. The individual sent an email blast to all staff.

These examples, from real cases, are from an article called “The Worst Ways To Quit A Job” written by The Office Team. As the above scenarios illustrate, moving on from a job can be fraught with emotion and a wide variety of potential perils. Sometimes it is clinical exercise. Other times it’s as messy as breaking up with a lover.

A well-written resignation letter is crucial to setting the tone for a positive transition. The business world is surprisingly small and word-of-mouth travels like wildfire. In the future, you may find yourself working with a previous co-worker or boss. You may need to request a letter of recommendation from such a person. A professional reputation is a priceless commodity that is yours to own and protect. Here are tips to keep your resignation letter safe and effective.

Since the official document you submit will set the tone for your relationships throughout the rest of your career, a good resignation letter sets you up to leverage your former position and relationships. Your writing style should be formal and friendly. Whenever possible, schedule a meeting to hand the letter to your supervisor in person. If you feel inclined to, you could offer to help make your resignation easier for the organization. For example, include a sentence or two that offers to train another person to do your job.

If a future employer calls to verify your employment, you want them to see that the last thing you said was “positive, uplifting and thankful,” according to Jacob Young, a small-business consultant and Web developer. “Even if there are marks on your file, the human spirit will take over and pause on the side of caution if you look nice and non-threatening on paper.”

Include the reason for your resignation if it is due to positive circumstances such as relocating or going back to school. In negative situations, spare the details. Instead, focus on the date of departure. Senior executives should give more than two-weeks notice. Use the length of your vacation as a good measure of the amount of time before the final day, since vacation time is typically a measure of seniority. Thus, if you have six weeks’ vacation, offer a minimum of six weeks’ notice. If there are specific terms in your contract, follow those.

Avoid negative criticism. No one will appreciate being blindsided by information that reflects poorly on their managerial or work skills, especially in a document that others will read. Avoid silly grandstanding, as in another case from the Office Team article in which a woman created a music video to explain she was leaving. This letter will be part of your permanent employment file so it's important that it doesn't contain much more than the basics.

Several samples of good resignation letters can be found in the web article “How to Write a Resignation Letter” on WikiHow.com. Jobsearch.about.com has several samples, too, including Professional Resignation Letter, Independent Contractor Resignation Letter and Maternity Leave Resignation Letter.

Finally, close on a warm note and show gratitude. It’s always good business etiquette to thank your employer for the privilege of working with him or her.

Have you written – or received – a resignation letter? Do you have suggestions for doing it right? Please share them in the comments section..

First Take

It's pot day in Oregon: Marijuana is now (generally) a legalized substance (under state law) in Oregon. The headline writers found various aspects of this, at the Oregonian (Oregon turns over a new leaf), the Medford Mail Tribune (Cannabis carry-out), the Pendleton East Oregonian (It's legal, now what?), the Salem Statesman Journal (Last-minute legislation). Will the world (at least in Oregon) change much? Probably not. For one thing, there aren't at the moment many places where people can legally get marijuana; people who want it and want to stay within state law mostly are dependent on people who give some to them. (Sales won't be legal for a while.) On the other hand, some celebratory giveaways are scheduled, mainly in the Portland area, for today.

How many Republican candidates for president? I'm counting 31 on this web site which is trying to keep track of the declared and the possible. True, some are pretty obscure and never achieve any sort of traction, but most you've probably heard of (if you follow politics at all). There's a lot . . .