That was a challenge, but it may pay off – well, in a lot of ways, surely already has . . . On June 5, a fire burned down four businesses in central Idaho City, a small and rustic (a proper present-day descriptor in this case) town that doesn’t have but so many more than four businesses. This happened not far in advance of the 4th of July, which ordinarily is a big day for business and visiting in Idaho City. Would this be just a day of mourning? It turned out not. Some at least of the business owners had made a commitment to reopen at some point, and the Trading Post, which long has been one of Idaho City’s larger businesses, did reopen just in time for the 4th – a cause for celebration, in addition to the national one. “Just to have people come and see that we’re rebuilding ourselves and that we’re moving forward I think that it’s just wonderful,” the Trading Post owner was quoted as saying. A path has been marked for the way back. Good luck.Share on Facebook
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.)Share on Facebook
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.
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.”Share on Facebook
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.Share on Facebook
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 . . .Share on Facebook
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 . . .Share on Facebook
The Los Angeles Times today runs a fine scene-setting story from inside the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise, as tension slowly rises and staff look closely at the development of wildfires around the west. It reports: “On this morning, the picture isn’t pretty. It’s ominous in a hold-on-to-your-seat way that casts a pall over two dozen fire analysts, meteorologists and forest experts. They see a growing scourge of fierce yellow and red dots, each representing a new fire, and they furrow their brows.” At the moment, most of the fires are in Alaska and California. But that will change. (photo/BLM, as used in the LA Times)
Eugene has spent a long time working on a replacement for its old and somewhat revered Civic Stadium – it has routinely provided front page headlines for months. Now, yesterday, it burned down, a total loss. The stadium had been run by Eugene city and the local school district; a private local alliance planned to renovate it. Eugene is in shock.Share on Facebook
Try to wrap your mind around 20 million bees, and how you would deal with that if they were unleashed in your neighborhood. That happened over the last few days in two places in Idaho, far apart from each other, one at Coeur d’Alene and the other not far from Idaho Falls, when in each case a truck transporting massive numbers of bees tipped over. The operators said they were swerving the avoid another vehicle. (Kind of a remarkable coincidence, no?) The location for the release at Idaho Falls may have been almost optimal, at least as far as human interaction with the bees was concerned: It was out on the desert, at Idaho National Laboratory country, far from residential centers. The release at Coeur d’Alene was in a major residential area, leading authorities to urge people to stay indoors. People in these areas need some luck – but so do the bees, which have been seeing disappearing colonies in recent years (hence the reason for trucking them from place to place). Let’s hope these don’t become among the disappeared.Share on Facebook
When I moved to Oregon, some of my friends in Idaho said I’d soon get disgusted at the no-self-serve gas stations – the state law that bans self-serve. It’s turned out not to be much of a nuisance at all. Never mind that it actually has been plenty popular in the state; voters repeatedly have rejected proposals to end the requirement, which Oregon shares only with New Jersey. Now, however, it will be eased back a bit, at least in rural areas at night. Here’s a press release on it from Representative Cliff Bentz of Ontario, who as the legislator living furthest from Salem has surely had to deal with his share of nighttime fillups.
House Bill 3011, brought by Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), has passed the House, Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown last week. The bill allows Oregonians to “self-serve” gasoline at rural gas stations between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Rep. Bentz said: “This is a good day for those who find themselves low on gas in remote parts of Oregon late at night. No longer will they have to wait until the next day for a station to open. Instead, they will be able to serve themselves at those gas stations which choose to install self-serve pumps.”
The bill addresses the all too common occurrence in Eastern Oregon, where hundreds of miles can separate gas stations, many of which do not stay open 24-hours per day. Travelers driving across the vast spaces of Eastern Oregon who are unfamiliar with long distances between stations and the fact that gas is not available 24/7 in many of Eastern Oregon’s small towns, can become stranded, having to wait until a station opens in the morning.
“Gas station owners, and sometimes ranchers and farmers, are awakened by stranded travellers pounding on their doors in the middle of the night to come out and pump gas,” said Rep. Bentz.
The bill applies to only those counties with a population of less than 40,000 people.
I doubt there’ll be much blowback from the voters. – rsShare on Facebook
Probably the most immediate and necessary task for the Oregon Legislature this year, aside from the regular work on budget and finance, has been developing state law to fill in gaps from last year’s passage of the initiative legalizing marijuana (under state law). Opinions varied widely about how to deal with it – some wanted the voters’ decision overturned as much as possible, others would have wanted it loosened further – but now the legislature seems to have settled on its approach. (It is not all the way through the legislature, but it has passed the key committee designing the measure, and seems to broad support.)
And it seems to be, overall, a mid-level proposal, broadly in concert with what the 2014 initiative contemplated. Some sections were changed not at all, such as the provision allowing people to grow up to four plants at their residences. It sets some commercial limits on grows, and some other limitations. Recognizing the differences in attitude toward pot around the state, it varied the rules on allowing commercial pot activity different for places that supported or opposed (by more than 55% negative vote) legalization. It seems designed, really, to minimize very strong opposition to the new regime.
There are glitches. Senator Floyd Prozanski, an attorney from Eugene, cautioned that “We’re setting up a system where we’ll have a three-month period … with illegal sales to people who can legally posses recreational” marijuana. More glitches probably will be found, and have to be fixed.
Still, probably not a bad place to start.Share on Facebook
And that’s that. The practical legal questions around same-gender marriage are now pretty much done; the Supreme Court has ruled flatly that the terms of the Constitution simply provide that, under the law, sexual orientation isn’t a bar to marriage.
That was probably going to happen regardless; the trendline was moving steadily in that direction. A clear majority of the population of the United States is now in favor, as is a very strong majority of younger voters. many of the states that now have same-sex marriage owing to court decisions – Oregon is one of them – would without doubt have changed its still-on-books ban provisions quickly in the even the Supreme Court had ruled otherwise. And the pressure on the remaining states soon might have looked a lot like the pressure related to official entities flying the Confederate flag.
As it is, the only legal recourse to opponents would be a constitutional amendment. That may materialize in some places – might we see that in the next session of the Idaho Legislature – but it wouldn’t go far. The real question now is how rapidly reconciliation goes.
Meantime, the core of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision express quite well what advocates for extending marriage rights have been saying, and it will be hard to counter: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. … They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
(photo/Joshua Hoover)Share on Facebook
When you’re asking a court to interpret what the text of a law means, there are some simple, basic rules. One of them is to interpret the law in a way that make it work within the constitution, if you can. Another is that you interpret it so that it works a clearly intended, if you can discern a clear intent. So the Supreme Court’s 6-3 (not 5-4, which was interesting) decision today in King v. Burwell was simply reporting on the clear intent of the Affordable Care Act; the case was brought in the hope that four words which could (didn’t have to be) be interpreted as running counter to everything else in the large bill, could be used to disable the whole thing. When Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter” – that is the way courts ordinarily act. The decision shouldn’t have been even in question. The four-word challenge was ridiculous on its face.
Will Republicans continue to do battle with the ACA, or call it quits? A lot of Republicans thinking strategically were quietly terrified the Court might throw out the health insurance subsidies in the current case; had it done so, Republicans would have been running in 2016 in the face of ripping health insurance away from millions of Americans. That would have been . . . problematic.Share on Facebook
That confederate battle flag debate now moves from South Carolina, where the battle seems to be mostly over (for now), to Mississippi, where the issue is not flying that old flag but the fact that its design is built into the state flag. The speaker of the House in Mississippi is calling for a redesign of the state flag, and it’s not hard to understand why: Officials in states around the country are beginning to call for not flying that state’s flag alongside the other 49 in official displays. California has already banned it. There’s a display of state flags near the Oregon state capital, but the Mississippi flag may be taken down there. Same may happen at city hall in Boise, where Mayor David Bieter called for the change. This is significant why? Because it keeps the subject, and the reason for the debate, in news reports, and around the country, for some time to come.Share on Facebook
The political response on the Confederate battle flag Monday was remarkable – a collapse of support among Republican political leaders for flying that flag, a recognition that it had become socially toxic. But what of the reaction down below?
The key event was the statement by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley that she would back a removal of the flag from state grounds, where it long has flown. Almost immediately, a bunch of other Republican officials around the country, from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to the speaker of the House in Mississippi (where the Confederate flag is woven into the state flag’s design) called for removal.
It’s a sudden sea change in attitude, as the debate began to be focused on the idea that the flag represents racism, not heritage – the flip of a recent bumper sticker popular in some places. The Washington Post blog suggested, “It was as if some kind of interrogation room spotlight was turned on Monday and Republican officials all over the country suddenly, all at once, saw the flag in a new and different way. Of course, opinions do change. Circumstances can make even the most complicated issues clear and new constituencies matter. But it is also possible that what we witnessed Monday was a great flight to a new position now that it constitutes relatively safe political ground.”
As always, though, the question that really arises here is, what’s going on below?
What about all those southerners who continue to plant some variation of the battle flag on their trucks, windows, or elsewhere? Did their attitudes change so quickly? Probably not, almost certainly not, and if not, what will they think about the wave of officials who they have viewed as in their corner, abruptly decamping? Will they feel betrayal? If so, how do they react?
Only part of this has so far played out. – rs
(photo/Gerry Dincher)Share on Facebook