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Posts published in “First Take”

First take: Oracle, Washington’s sequester

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ORACLE AT HILLSBORO Oracle Corporation has been at Hillsboro, Oregon, for several years, but also for some time its future there has been uncertain. Now it appears to be off the fence, with the announcement of 130 new server-building jobs and more besides that, as well as retention of the scattered current facilities. Taken together with the recent Intel expansions, it's an indicator that high tech in the Hillsboro area is growing again rapidly.

SEQUESTER CUTS If the budget-cutting sequester happens, who gets hurt? Apparently, Washington state for one, because of the large amount of (usually exempt) military activity there. The Tacoma News Tribune estimates "About 9,500 Army civilian employees would be compelled to take furloughs if the budget cuts take place. Another 2,000 contractors would lose work because of decreased construction or reduced operations on Army sites."

First take: Insleeisms

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INSLEEISMS The Seattle Times has pulled together (and did it really try to trademark the term?) a collected quotes of Governor Jay Inslee, who threatens to become a highly quotable governor. Some are a little odd, like this little-noted line from 2011: "“A transportation package is going to be difficult because there is a tooth fairy but there is no transportation fairy.” One that may seem odd but isn't necessarily: “I’m pretty sensitive to small businesses. I was one.” (If he was a sole proprietor, then he was precisely accurate.) The Times suggested #Insleeisms as a has tag.

First take: Teacher attitudes, prostitution law

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TEACHER ATTITUDES The Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations, which is run by the legislature, has completed a report on "Workforce Issues Affecting Public School Teachers." It's a topic highly relevant to legislators, but containing results not happily received among them, such as "a strong undercurrent of despair among teachers who seem to perceive a climate that disparages their efforts and belittles their contributions ... [Most] "express concern or dissatisfaction with specific aspects of their work or, more broadly, with conditions surrounding the public education environment in Idaho." Legislators have taken issue. Watch for blowback.

PROSTITUTION SHIFT A perspective piece in the Oregonian notes a significant change in the way Portland-area law enforcement is approaching prostitution: Increasingly, it is focusing on much longer jail and prison sentences for pimps, and direction of prostitutes toward health and social services, rather than behind bars. From the story: "J.R. Ujifusa, the Multnomah County deputy district attorney who prosecutes more pimps than anyone else in the state, doesn't use the word "prostitutes," but refers to "victims" or "women involved in prostitution." The old approach wasn't working."

First take: Hemp, Reardon

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LEGALIZING HEMP Stronger language than the norm - amidst introducing, yet again, a bill to legalize farming of industrial hemp - for Oregon Senator Ron Wyden: "there are some dumb regulations that are hurting economic growth and job creation ..." But fitting. This has nothing to do with the legalizing pot proposals, since hemp, though related on the plant family tree, had no mind-altering effect. But it is highly useful for many things, with the perverse result that although hemp is widely used in this country, and usage has actually tripled in the last decade, it's still illegal to produce it here - we have to import it - though it can grow well. No immediate prediction, however, that sanity will prevail this time.

TROUBLE FOR REARDON Snohomish County's executive, Aaron Reardon, has some serious trouble brewing now, whether he seems to register it or not. His staff (apparently office staff, not campaign staff, which would not have been a problem) made a series of public records requests under made-up names aimed at his political opposition. Reardon seems to be defending the key staffer involved, which says something for loyalty but could be serious trouble down the road.

First take: Job points, women’s appointments

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75 POINTS IN A WEEK Well, this is ambitious: Washington Governor Jay Inslee has a job promotion plan that involves 75 specific points, and "got a response from the Legislature that was more warm than cold." Considering that the deadline for moving bills out of committees is only one week away, that suggests either (a) Inslee hasn't (re)accustomed himself to state legislative timing rhythms or more likely (b) he's calculated that something like this will fare better if its pushed in a hurry - credible since its topic is increasing the number of jobs - as opposed to giving legislators lots of time to pick over and amend it. High risk, but it may be the only immediate option Inslee has to give it a try.

THE PROPER SLOT This could just about go to Stewart or Colbert as another example of Republicans irritating women (read: female voters). The story involves Joan Hurlock, appointed to the state Fish & Game Commission by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter but denied confirmation by the Idaho Senate. There was some back and forth about whether the rejection had to do with her gender (only one women previously had ever been appointed to that panel). That argument may be strengthened by what Hurlock recalled Senate Resources and Environment Committee Chairman Monte Pearce saying to her: ’We’re going to look like bunch of men beating up on a young woman. He said if I withdrew “’I am sure the governor could appoint you to another commission, maybe the nursing board.”’ Idaho Legislature, your next national close-up is ready ...

First take: Insurance exchange, guns

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IDAHO INSURANCE EXCHANGE BREAKTHROUGH? It has the feel of a fig leaf, but it could generate the Idaho House votes that the health insurance exchange proposal backed by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter wouldn't get and might need. It is a "trailer bill" (meant to be an addendum) to the exchange bill working its way through the Senate, backed by a coalition of Republican freshman led by Representative Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene. It seems to include some additional oversight, including legislative participation on the panel governing the exchange. It doesn't sound as it it will change much, but it may provide enough rationale to draw more votes on the closely-split issue. (This also has the potential to turn Malek into a pivotal figure in the House.)

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS The Washington House Judiciary Committee is considering - and preparing to act on - a bunch of gun-related measures, including background check and safety measures, and some aimed at juveniles. One coming up today: "House Bill 1096 aims to punish juveniles for carrying guns before they have the chance to use them in a serious crime, said Democratic Rep. Christopher Hurst of Enumclaw, who is sponsoring the bill. Right now, juveniles can carry guns and receive no jail time the first four times they are caught ..."

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/#storylink=cpy

First take: Police, bridge, hunting

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POLICE DISCIPLINE Seattle and Portland both have an issue, apparently, with making discipline of police officers stick. In Seattle, the police chief is complaining that the city attorney isn't moving on complaints against an officer. In Portland, a second case of an attempt by the chief to discipline an officer ran into the brick wall of an arbitrator. (The second of those, the Oregonian said, involved "an officer who smoked marijuana off-duty, gave one of his prescription pills to a fellow officer and then drove drunk while under investigation.") The system as is seems to allow little possibility for discipline of those officers who should experience (a situation that doubtless aggravates too most of the better-behaving officers). The day will come when stronger measures will emerge from the public, if this keeps up.

BRIDGE TOLLING Counterpart stories too on bridge tolling. In Seattle, a citizen movement based on Mercer Island against tolling on I-90 (it would hit many residents there directly); they now have a website up. And opposition seems to be growing rather than fading on the Columbia River Crossing I-5 bridge at Portland-Vancouver. Suggestion: Sunset the tolls when the bridge renovation is paid for.

HURLOCK DEFEAT A Dan Popkey blog post on the Senate floor defeat 19-16 of Joan Hurlock notes something of a rural-urban divide in the vote. (Hurlock was gigged as insufficiently enthusiastic as hunting, which may or may not be true, and may or may not be the reason for the defeat for appointer Governor Otter.) The post notes a gutsy acknowledgement from Senator Patti Anne Lodge of Nampa: "She’s given up hunting, and likes to see deer, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese roaming her land on Sunnyslope near the Snake River. She added a reminder for what she called the “great white hunters”: many citizens see critters as more than just meat." She is correct, and that number, in increasingly suburban Idaho, is growing.