Writings and observations


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)

Profilings Resource chair Bair (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
State adopts rules on contracting, go to legislators (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Ammon in search of an identity (IF Post Register)
Idaho fines DOE over missing waste deadlines (IF Post Register)
Nez Perce jail found not liable in suicide (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon senators look at legislative issues (Nampa Press Tribune)
Height of flu season arriving (Nampa Press Tribune)
Embazzlement charge for former CSI staffer (TF Times News)

Eugene’s Piercy delivers state of city (Eugene Register Guard)
RV manufacturer at Coburg ups hiring (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath send jail tax measure to ballot (KF Herald & News)
OR-7 now considered head of his pack (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Small growth in Oregon flu cases (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State asks opinions on pot rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fight over chemical depot continues (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hales plans advisory vote on Portland street fund (Portland Oregonian)
Study puts Oregon at 41 among states in education (Portland Oregonian)
Nostalgia expressed for old PDX carpet (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon ACLU director Fidanque will retire (Salem Statesman Journal)
Protest grows over demolition of Howard Hall (Salem Statesman Journal)

Ace Paving in Bremerton bankrupt (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge sees pot shop location fight (Bremerton Sun)
Wyerhaeuser will slice some jobs at Longview (Longview News)
Not much flu activity in area as yet (Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Tumwater brewery sale collapses, but new option emerges (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Inslee proposes new toxin source regulation (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Yakima clerk, commission at odds on computers (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

harris ROBERT


Hero: [heer-oh] noun, plural heroes; also heros. 1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. 2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal:

Police forces on the defensive and in fear of patrolling our streets. Protests in cities large and small. Police and community afraid of the other.

How did it become such a binary and non-nuanced argument, with defenders of our blue line insistent that any critique of police techniques or actions is an attack on them personally and endangers their safety? And why are some critics of police tactics and individual officers insisting that all police are corrupt and dangerous?

Our current culture of unquestioned hero worship of regular people just doing their jobs – difficult jobs – and a police culture embracing that hero worship could be a primary cause of the disconnect.

Heroes aren’t supposed to be wrong. Or bad. Or make mistakes. Post 9/11 it seems it’s assumed – and we’re constantly being coaxed to publicly acknowledge – that every single public safety officer is a hero. So when an officer does something bad or makes a mistake, it engenders a sense of real betrayal . You expect bad guys to be bad. You expect imperfect humans to make mistakes. You don’t expect either from a hero.

The unquestioned hero worship is unfair to officers as well. If an officer has been told for 15 years that they are without question a hero by putting on a uniform, there could be a sense of entitlement by that officer. Heroes may not expect to be criticized for their errors or may become overzealous because of righteousness. They may not expect to be talked back to or questioned. All of these behaviors are bound to lead to some very bad interactions with the public.

Without a doubt it takes a person with some bravery to enter a profession where you face bad guys and unpleasant situations on a daily basis. And even though police officer isn’t in the top ten most dangerous jobs (33 officers died by unlawful violence in the line of duty in 2013), it is still dangerous physically even if officer deaths. Officers engage in scuffles and incur minor and major injuries. And the threat of violence itself is stressful and mentally damaging.

I know a lot of officers and for the most part they are good decent people doing the best they can. They take their job seriously, some are very talented and positive influences in the community. And when they make mistakes, I assume they were acting in good faith doing the best they can. They simply made a mistake as we all do. Of course their jobs are particularly difficult at times, and their mistakes can carry severe consequences so we all hope that mistakes are rare. And if an officer makes too many mistakes, for the safety of the officer and others, it may be best for all of us if they to choose another profession. Either voluntarily or not.

And if they are dishonest, or corrupt they need to be immediately terminated, and if appropriate, prosecuted.

But applying for the job and putting on the uniform is too low of a standard to award a hero label. Some have acted heroically in the line of duty. And that is worthy of praise as a hero. But we can’t tell who has acted heroically based just on a uniform.

Our public servants who wear a uniform are humans. With human frailties and qualities. They may be in general a braver and more heroic group of people than most of us and in fact some of those people wearing uniforms do heroic acts in the performance of their jobs. It would be beneficial to officers, police forces and our communities if we just stopped the hero worship of the uniform. If we did that, maybe the public could more easily accept the occasional mistake for what it is, a mistake. And perhaps some officers would have a better understanding of a community’s legitimate concern and occasional outrage when officers engage in over reach, dishonesty, and abuse of power.

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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)

New Simplot beef processing plant for Kuna? (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Profiling Senator Rice, new ag chair (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
Bonneville County officials set priorities (IF Post Register)
Roads deadlier in north-central Idaho last year (Lewiston Tribune)
Cows may help with noxious weeds (Lewiston Tribune)
Syringa mobile homes seeing new water issues (Moscow News)
Staben urging increases in enrollment (Moscow News)
Pullman plans cemetery fee increases (Moscow News)
Ybarra adding a little more to her plans (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Chobani disputes NY Post accounts of trouble there (TF Times News)
State committee concerned over test questions (TF Times News)

Leaburg dam operators set gate to open (Eugene Register Guard)
Majority backs ‘In God we trust’ at county room (KF Herald & News)
Eugene council reschedules meetings for football (KF Herald & News)
Larson’s home furnishings at Medford nearly gone (Medford Tribune)
Farmers concerned about Boardman power line (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton keeps business licenses the same (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Jewell sets fire plan that protects sage grouse (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Business leaders urge traffic congestion help (Portland Oregonian)
Salem may see revived commercial air service (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem sets plan for Riverfront park area (Salem Statesman Journal)

Nimitz remaining in Everett a little longer (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing note record number of shipments (Everett Herald)
Monroe auditors find bookkeeping problems (Everett Herald)
Mine plans run aground near Mt St Helens (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Lacey’s first recreational marijuana store opens (Olympian)
Lewis-McChord sends first unit to Iraq in 3 years (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
First Federal stock already oversubscribed (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing the first year of Washington legal pot (Port Angeles News)
Future of electric cars in time of cheap gas (Seattle Times)
Spokane’s Condon proposes jobs panel (Spokane Spokesman)
Rivers plans would license smokeless pot shops (Vancouver Columbian)
Cleanup of old gas station on W Nob Hill (Yakima Herald Republic)
Newhouse gets House committee assignments (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

Austin Overman of LRSU competing in the November 2014 Precision Rifle Series in Idaho. This is the first “for points” match of the 2015 season even though it’s being held in 2014. (November 18)

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Idaho Idaho column



Dear Friends,

Please don’t, anymore, anyone, on FaceBook or in person, approach me with an article idea for the local newspaper.
I do not work for the Shoshone News-Press and never have. I can’t help you. There is nothing I can do for you.

Whilst laying on a death-bed three years ago at Kootenai, I did propose to then-editor Dan Drewry that I might start penning a column about What Went Wrong. It would be an attempt to correct our vision.

Our shared thought was that there are three types of news, and all were wrong, and that you cannot average them. It was that old Einstein thing; you could plant your butt on a flaming-hot stove, and stick your feet into a bucket of ice. On average, you’re comfortable. So much for averaging.

Seemed like a good idea, if you’ve sucked enough morphine and oxygen, to just try to get to the bottom of things. Our deal was, he kicked down a gallon of maple syrup every year from his family’s farm, and I would write as I pleased. No editing (save for typos); take it or leave it. Dan, sumbitch that he can be, never broke that contract. (A newspaperman who can keep his word is one worthy of knowing.)

The Haw-haw news you get from KHQ or KXLY or KREM where everybody leaves the news desk giggling, even if a comet bigger than Jupiter just smacked one-fifth of the planet away and knocked it into Outer Space, film at 11. Ha-ha, great weather tomorrow, look at somebody saving this nice cow. Then at 5:30 is the corporate CBS/NC/ABC news, where Scott Pelly repeats what was on Drudge the day before, but with a pro-Obama White House spin.

Then comes 6 p.m. Let us review:

5 p.m. Local Ha-ha news. (That comet will be cute in the night skies. Tee-hee.)

5:30 Network corporate news. (This network is assured by the Administration that no Islamists were involved in this comet attack.)

6 p.m.: Government News (which is PBS). Gwen Ifill declares, “We are screwed.”

I’ll take Gwen over every other hack in this business. And she works for the government news!

Meantime, and to wrap this up: I am not a contributor (for free or compensation) to the local newspaper. If you’ve got a personal problem, better buy an ad.

That is the new business model for newspapers, and it works. Every competitive newspaper I’ve ever fought for has failed. Salem, Seattle, Anchorage, Wallace, and a few others. There is honour in losing a good fight. Suck up to the advertisers, spin their thing, tell your staff that the price of Jet-A is just too much and he cannot afford to give you a Christmas turkey, and you might win a free boat. Not for this writer.

There are wounded Steelworkers, Iron Workers, hard-rock miners, loggers, beaten-up wives and state-hounded unemployed husbands, and the just-plain-screwed who need newspapers to give them a voice. Whence will their voices come?

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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)

Goedde asked to help with school broadband issues (Boise Statesman)
Raybould takes over as resources chair (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Most of Idaho’s statewides sworn in Monday (Boise Statesman)
Attempt to block dredging on lower Snake rejected (Lewiston Tribune)
Heavy storming in western Washington (Lewiston Tribune)
New Moscow council member sworn in (Moscow News)
Designer picked for Midway Park sports complex (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pine Ridge Mall loses three retail tenants (Pocatello Journal)
State proposes 3% pay raises for state workers (TF Times News)
TF power outage hits hospital (TF Times News)

City councils reschedule over UO national game (Eugene Register Guard)
New Klamath Co officials sworn in (KF Herald & News)
Klamath air quality in recent decline (KF Herald & News)
Mt Ashland ski area closes over lack of snow (Medford Tribune)
Army may want to keep chemical depot property (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pilot Rock police chief resigns (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fritz reejcts proposed Portland transportation fee (Portland Oregonian)
State might allow industrial hemp planting (Portland Oregonian)
Salem reviews health of its older white oaks (Salem Statesman Journal)

USS Nimitz arrives for 16-month stay (Bremerton Sun)
Historic ship Kalakala will be scrapped (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Bremerton Sun, Port Angeles News)
Heavy rains in western Washington (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Young Washington voters didn’t vote (Longview News)
Council member Selby runs for Olympia mayor (Olympian)
Only modest tax revenue from pot so far (Port Angeles News)
New city immigration law leads to council protest (Spokane Spokesman)
Battle over running US 95 on Paradise Ridge (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark College student cite parking problems (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


Alright, political sports fans; since Lt. Governor Brad Little opened this parlor game of “What If . . .” by talking with the Spokesman Review’s Boise correspondent, Betsy Russell, a bit too candidly about how well prepared he is to step up, lets take the game a bit further.

Let’s play who would be Brad’s choice to be his number two? After all, it is possible that Governor Otter could step down mid-way through his third term to give Brad a running start. If he does, Brad can select his own number two subject only to State Senate confirmation

It’s hard to imagine any governor voluntarily quitting two years ahead of time. Has it happened? Sure, but not in Idaho. If Republicans recapture the presidency in 2016, and Butch is asked by the third Bush president to serve in his cabinet, Butch could not say no (David Leroy, the Bush family’s “man on the scene” would have to also bless).

So Brad, could, like John Evans before him, become Governor without having to step on lots of toes. And, heaven forbid, Otter could die in office, and Brad could ascend by that route.

Now the fun begins. There’d be lots of rhetoric about politics having nothing to do with it, that Brad is simply seeking the best person. Pure poppycock. Politics will have everything to do with it and you can bet Brad will have a poll to help him decide.

Allow me to help, Governor Little, and . toss out a few names that should be on your list:

#1. State Senator Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint). The well-liked executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho, was just elected to her tenth term. She’s overcome two vicious Tea Party challenges and is a moderate, pro-education Republican. She is co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Appropriation committtee.

Senator Keough knows the budget and is more than qualified. And it appears she is the best chance for a woman to break the glass ceiling in Idaho bystepping up from lieutenant governor should Brad also be asked to serve in a Republican Administration.

#2. House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Has done a solid job as Speaker and has adroitly handled the Tea Party types. Smart, does his homework and knows how to lead. Only drawback is he and Brad are a lot alike.

#3. State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls). Smart, tough, caring, a true “compassionate conservative” who could handle any challenge he faces. His and his wife’s appearing before the Idaho Parole Board to speak on behalf of parole for the man who had murdered their son because they were convinced there was true remorse will always stand out as an incredible act reflecting their deeply held faith.

Would bring regional and religious balance to a ticket. Just re-elected to his 9th term despite the Tea Party in Bonneville County trying to censor him three times.

#4. State Senator Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian). Might be Brad’s smartest move especially if he thinks First District Congressman Raul Labrador has a hankering to be governor and would plan on attacking Brad from the right. Fulcher drew a lot of votes and presumably has lots of Tea Party supporters who would be neutralized if he were on a ticket with Brad.

#5. Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer. A sleeper and a darkhorse, but an obvious comer. Intelligent, articulate, successful businessman, a genuine people person, talented with a great sense of humor. Mayor’s post is non-partisan and R’s would be smart to capture him. He would bring energy to the post, would be a fresh face and would charm most everyone. Only drawbacks would be no legislative experience and some would say he is too close to north Idaho business king Duane Hagadone.

There you have it, governor. Put them all on your interview list should the time come. As you know, you’ll cement one friendship and make at least four new enemies. It comes with the territory.

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On Schweitzer Mountain, near Sandpoint, on January 1. It is one of the ski areas open around Idaho. (photo/Schweitzer Mountain Resort)


You may notice a few changes, mostly small but some larger, in this edition of the Briefing, the first of 2015. Some of the type fonts have changed (to a new one called “Droid,” which was specially designed to be easily read on electronic documents), and we are developing a few new small features. More will emerge in the next few weeks. The old familiars from last year will, of course, be back.

For Washington and Idaho, next week’s editions will likely be legislature-heavy, as those states’ lawmakers come into session. (Oregon is next month.)

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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)

Committee chairs who work with leadership (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
In post-Coldwater Sandpoint, entrepreneurs busy (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
In Washington, more thinning of forests is planned (Moscow News)
Gas prices dropping fast, lowest since 2009 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Times News looks at most influential in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

New effort for Lane courthouse gathers force (Eugene Register Guard)
Mass of graffiti cases in Medford (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing pot lessons to be learned from WA and CO (Portland Oregonian)
Concerns new rules make day care took expensive (Portland Oregonian)
Marion cracks down on e-cigarettes (Salem Statesman Journal)
Wyden, residents talk trade at Salem town hall (Salem Statesman Journal)

More power lines underground in new construction (Bremerton Sun)
Rail bridge may be replaced by BNSF at Everett (Everett Herald)
Flood warning for Longview area (Longview News)
Murray moves to ranking spot on HEW panel (Longview News)
Initiative on class size battles with budget (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Reviewing legal pot a couple of years on (Port Angeles News)
Haiti economy still in trouble (Seattle Times)
Spokane police ombudsman retiring (Spokane Spokesman)
First first snow of season in inland regions (Spokane Spokesman)
State looking to thin forests as fire retardant (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver cracking down on tree replacement rules (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT


I don’t know anyone who “hates” cops. No one. Oh, I’m sure there are some criminals, psycho’s and maybe a few ex-spouses who harbor some bad feelings. But “cop hating” by the general public? I don’t know ‘em.

So this begs the question: Why is so much of today’s media chock full of ‘stories’ of police hatred? Where’s it coming from?

Seems to me there are two sources – or maybe “suspects.” First, many in the New York City and national media – including the usual hate voices – who’ve either become very sloppy in their “reporting” or have deliberately perverted what the original street protests were about.

In some media, the words have become a sort of shorthand when reporting interactions between officers and citizens – especially citizens in large groups like a protest march. Scan the headlines of major newspapers. Read the “crawl” lines below TV talking heads. The words “cops” and “hate” appear a lot. Listen to Beck, Coulter and the other professional political perverts dropping them into their verbal garbage.

Months ago, when all this street marching started, it had nothing to do with “cops.” It was an expression of outrage at a local Missouri system of justice that seemed blind to justice – a grand jury had been force fed deliberately misleading information by a prosecutor with his own agenda. A small town tragedy became a national disgrace when local authorities reacted badly and confronted legal demonstrators with a display of military force. The original message of distrust of a system turned to outrage at the city’s terrible judgement and irresponsible actions. But not cop hatred.

As the number of demonstrations increased across the country, the basic message was still the same: distrust of a system that didn’t provide equal treatment for all. Distrust of the system. Not cop hatred. Yes, there were agitators who took advantage of the situation to loot and steal. But the overwhelming numbers of demonstrators were orderly and, for the most part, responsive to local authorities. No cop hatred.

The second suspect? If I had to pick a moment in time when the “cop hatred” words entered the larger, national picture it would be about the moment a police union boss – running for his own re-election – charged the New York City Mayor with attacks on the city force. Charges even the police commissioner refuted.

While NYC politics have always been rough-and-tumble, this voice was unnecessarily shrill, incredibly ill-timed and stupid. As his caustic words tumbled out of HDTV’s across the country, those not accustomed to New York political “discourse” heard something new. Cops, we were told, were “pushing back” on a city official who had “betrayed” them. He hadn’t. But the latent anger of a few, who’re always there, was suddenly taken as the voice of the “majority” of the city’s 35,000 officers. It wasn’t. But it seemed so. And since then, too many NYC cops have been acting like spoiled children.

From that point – and reinforced many, many times since nationally – we’ve heard the words “cops” and “hatred” joined. The original – and seemingly justified – reasons for people in the streets disappeared from the story. Then, with the coincidental assassination of two NYC officers by a deranged loner, the “us-versus-them” embers blew up to become a full-scale distortion. A couple of other disconnected cop killings across the country got thrown into the mix, talk show haters grabbed hold, headlines turned to cop killings and the original messages which began in Ferguson, MO, all but disappeared.

The brutal fact is police officers have been getting killed in-the-line-of-duty since biblical times. It’s a risk that goes with the job. But so is this: most officers have served a full career to retirement without ever having fired their sidearm in anger. Good men. Good women. When faced with danger, they used their heads instead of their weapons. Not always possible but more often than not, it was. And it worked.

Nobody is well-served with all this “cop hatred” B.S.. It’s divisive, cruel, untrue and avoids the real issues of why people are in the streets. The NYC police union loudmouth getting too much attention is trying to feather his own re-election nest and is using a minority of badge-wearing miscreants to prop up his personal goal. Interesting that leaders of the other four NYC police unions are either keeping their silence or using much less inflammatory rhetoric.

Police professionals are not “citizen haters.” The vast majority of citizens are not “cop haters.” So why is something that doesn’t exist getting so much attention? And so many headlines?

We need to return national attention to the real criminal justice problems that brought people to the streets. We need to silence – or at least ignore – voices using division and hatred to draw us away from that original purpose. The national task at hand is not to listen to voices of hate trying to drum up ratings or advertising dollars. Or, trying to stay employed at any cost.

The honest national interest here is the singular pursuit of justice. For all. Yes, even for the haters.

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