JOURNEY WEST:
A Memoir of Journalist and Politics

by Stephen Hartgen
Here's the personal story of what brought the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator west from Maine to Idaho, and what he found and has done here. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 

Apr 12 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

St. Luke’s may operate Elks Rehab System (Boise Statesman)
Balukoff rejects NRA questionnaire (Boise Statesman)
Lewiston dollar theatre closes (Lewiston Tribune)
Coldwater Creek out of business (Sandpoint Bee)
Capital for a Day at Bonners Ferry (Sandpoint Bee)
Frulact says it will open processing (TF Times News)

Oregon reserve unit heads to Afghanistan (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath tribes protest water agreement vote (KF Herald & News)
County budget action just ahead (KF Herald & News)
Bike thefts drop with ‘bait’ program (Ashland Tidings)
Crime task force founder charged (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Umatilla area short on water (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Lack of clarity on drone rules (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Tough finances for ODOT (Portland Oregonian)
Better water in northern than southern OR (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem housing market improves (Salem Statesman Journal)

Machinist union prepares for key vote (Everett Herald)
Coping with debris at Oso (Everett Herald)
Landslide closes Longview area road (Longview News)
Seattle may vote on ride service companies (Seattle Times)
Point Wells development gets OK after years (Seattle Times)
Coldwater Creek closes (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane retail land deal, playing field (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma charter review commitee hearing (Tacoma News Tribune)
CenturyLink says little about 911 failure (Tacoma News Tribune)
Pearson Air Museum stays afloat (Vancouver Columbian)
Study on nitrates in Yakima Valley (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 12 2014

Primary’s bigger picture

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

What’s it all about, this big Idaho primary pitched battle between two neatly-lined up sides, incumbents and challengers? The most striking, original and daring take on that, the quote of the season so far, comes from Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Unexpectedly independent-minded, willing to act against the preferences of much of the state’s Republican leadership, Wasden came on very differently after his first election from his previous role as a quiet, little-known, behind-the-scenes chief of staff in the office. But those differences mainly extended just to legal opinions, his expression of what the law was (as opposed to what some people would have preferred it to be). He certainly has been no kind of ideological flamethrower, and has been low-key in manner.

Last week he may not have been throwing flame but, speaking with the Lewiston Tribune, he was uncommonly blunt. In talking about this year’s primary contests, which includes his first primary contest since 2002, Wasden cast it in large-scale terms as “a fight, really, for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” And the terms of the fight? Simply, “Are you out there on that far edge, or are you rational? I certainly hope that the rational message comes forward.”

He just called a large portion of his party’s base irrational, living in the world of fantasy rather than reality, and set the terms of the debate he proposes to have. Truly powerful stuff, and it has the potential to recast the terms of the debate, and the campaign.

That it is a stick of dynamite ready to explode is easy to see. One would expect that the cohorts on Wasden’s side of the divide – Governor C.L. “Butch Otter, Representative Mike Simpson, Lt. Governor Brad Little and others, including legislative candidates – would quickly be asked about the comment. That would mean they either would have to risk infuriating much of the base, or breaking with Wasden and splitting (and making unclear) their side’s messaging.

There’s an upside to their seizing on it, though: It would bring some clarity to characterizing the insurgency.

State Senator Russ Fulcher, running against Otter, has seized foremost on Otter’s support of a state-run health insurance exchange. Otter could point out that the opposition is simply unrealistic, that (as he has said, repeatedly) Idaho would be getting an exchange regardless, the only difference being how directly involved the state would be. He could even argue that sheer opposition to Obamacare has become beside the point; it’s the law of the land, like it or not. That’s reality.

Congressional candidate Bryan Smith has been describing (in his ads at least) Simpson as a “liberal.” Second-district voters have observed Simpson in Congress since 1998, and probably only a few would use the word to describe him; Simpson could use Wasden-like language in blasting back.

Retorts structured in these ways would have the advantage of cohering, working together, in coloring the opposition.

For the incumbent candidates, their messaging needs to do something like that. Simply defeating the insurgents, or most of them (a result that seems broadly expected), isn’t really good enough, because the insurgent voting base still would be seething, and that could have consequences down the road. The best way to defang it would be to de-legitimize it. Wasden may have seized on one potentially effective way to do that.

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Apr 11 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Boise’s Central Addition blocks may be sold (Boise Statesman)
Weitas Creek bridge may be replaced (Lewiston Tribune)
Luna visits Latah schools (Moscow News)
Palouse restaurant fire cause still mystery (Moscow News)
Nampans move ahead on library project (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon ag coalition: its not anti-growth (Nampa Press Tribune)
Scientists speak on wild predators at ISU (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello considers return of baseball (Pocatello Journal)
Coldwater Creek hits fork in road (Sandpoint Bee)
Planning for jump moves cautiously (TF Times News)

Corvallis city budget at $135m (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Lots of potholes eat up dollars (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Phone wire cut wipes Internet, more (Corvallis Gazette Times)
New Eugene clinic for veterans launched (Eugene Register Guard)
Chiloquin High launched FM radio (KF Herald & News)
Downtown KF 3rd Thursday event boosted (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Sheriff candidates profiled (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford plans licensing streamlining (Medford Tribune)
Mulling Cover Oregon options (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Bad bacteria in wells at Milton-Freewater (Pendleton East Oregonian)
New leadership named for Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Regence closes at Salem, jobs to Medford (Salem Statesman Journal)

Planning for the landslide’s highway (Everett Herald)
Data remained on sold state computers (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
14 Hands wine grows, moves to Presser (Kennewick Herald)
Airport work okayed for Pasco port (Kennewick Herald)
9-1-1 outages in Washington, Oregon (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
Sequim grain elevator for sale, $600k (Port Angeles News)
Judge approves Elwha fish release (Port Angeles News)
Boeing kicks 1,000 engineering jobs to CA (Seattle Times)
New oil terminal at Grays Harbor? (Vancouver Columbian)
C-Tran closed doors criticized (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot farmers may not get federal water (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 10 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Gay rights, religion battle in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing 2014 legislative session (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman cuts gambling tax (Moscow News)
More Latah prisoners than expected (Moscow News)
Canyon sheriff opposing jail expansion (Nampa Press Tribune)
Justice reinvestment bill signed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon legislative candidate has court history (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bannock commission limits fair board clout (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello schools refinancing their debt (Pocatello Journal)
Candidates at Bonner County debate (Sandpoint Bee)
TF urban renewal of $17 million planned (TF Times News)

Corvallis house code may not change (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Mining firm seeks permit in Linn (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Adjunct profs at OSU wronged (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene may require paid sick leave (Eugene Register Guard)
Water deal okayed by Klamath tribes (KF Herald & News)
KF plans on thin budget (KF Herald & News)
Low water at Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Rogue Valley Manor rehab planned (Medford Tribune)
Regence adds 70 jobs at Medford (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla port blocked from warehouse plan (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Cover Oregon battles computer bugs (Portland Oregonian)
Innocence Project opens Oregon effort (Salem Statesman Journal)
State task force plows into GMOs (Salem Statesman Journal)

Surviving the Oso mudslide (Everett Herald)
New boeing building underway (Everett Herald)
New terminal pursued at Port of Longview (Longview News)
Stadium at Forks may be replaced (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles port wants economic data (Port Angeles News)
Commission: Spokane Council pay should rise (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma sewage plant addition underway (Tacoma News Tribune)
Death of former legislator Val Ogden (Vancouver Columbian)
Old Yakima jail might be reopened (Yakima Herald Republic)
Difficulty noted in controlling burns (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 09 2014

Spending on waste or investment?

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

All you need to know about the November election is found in dueling documents: Paul Ryan’s budget and the House Democratic alternative. One is down, the other up. One “cuts wasteful spending,” while the other proposes investing in the future. Two radically different approaches to governing.

The Republican plan is in a hurry to balance the budget — slashing federal agency spending so that in a decade from now the budget will be balanced. These cuts would impact low-income populations, such as American Indians and Alaska Natives. Deeply.

And the Democrats’ budget is smart in the short-term — we do need investment now — but it fails to account for spending over a longer time frame. It leaves the answers to some big questions for a later date.

Then, truth be told, neither plan is designed for the long haul.

The United States (and much of the globe for that matter) is facing a demographic imbalance of a rising number of older people. Every day, for the next twenty years, some 10,000 people are turning 65. Think about adding that many people every day added to the rolls of Social Security and Medicare.

The good news is that Social Security is the easiest to fix, adjusting age and benefits, could make the plan solvent for the next generation.

But Medicare is wrapped in a bigger problem: the cost of health care in America.

A graphic from the Congressional Budget Office explains this well by breaking federal spending into four distinct categories: Social Security (growing); Interest on the debt (growing); all other federal spending (shrinking dramatically) and health care (growing faster than everything else). Or, as the CBO describes the problem, “Federal spending for the major health care programs and Social Security would increase to a total of 14 percent of GDP by 2038, twice the 7 percent average of the past 40 years.” Continue Reading »

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Apr 09 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Boise Concert Association concludes activity (Boise Statesman)
Lawsuit may be filed over lynx trapping (Boise Statesman)
Pullman hears state of city (Moscow News)
Retaurant burns at Palouse (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WA Representative Fagan reports home (Moscow News)
New playing field project at Moscow schools (Moscow News)
Canyon fair considers new venue (Nampa Press Tribune)
Less sugary stuff for Pocatello students (Pocatello Journal)
Greenway at AMI shuts after coyote attack (Pocatello Journal)
Heavy cuts at Pend Oreille schools (Sandpoint Bee)
Recall planned for Filer officials (TF Times News)
Kimberly does away with city administrator (TF Times News)
Former lawmaker Patterson to sue Ada sheriff (TF Times News)

Corvallis OSU at odds over parking (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Gazette Times moves to NW Corvallis site (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Considering prospects for Eugene homeless (Eugene Register Guard)
Floyd Boyd stores sell to Pape Machinery (KF Herald & News)
Debate roars on pot dispensaries (KF Herald & News)
Ashland plans redecorating pre-tourism (Ashland Tidings)
Debating guns for Eagle Point teachers (Medford Tribune)
Helicopter company hit on herbicide spray (Medford Tribune)
Plymouth gas storage explosion still mystery (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Plans near release for events center (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hillary Clinton speaks in Portland (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Cameron wants early start on Marion commission (Salem Statesman Journal)
Oregon gets A- in budget transparency (Salem Statesman Journal)

Obama will visit Oso site (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Plymouth gas explosion evacuation (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz IDs possible slide areas (Longview News)
Sequim firm gets pot grow licenses (Port Angeles News)
Sequim considers renewal options (Port Angeles News)
Restaurant burns at Palouse (Spokane Spokesman)
BIA evaluation sought on Spokane casino (Spokane Spokesman)
Possible Cowlitz tribal casino deal (Vancouver Columbian)
Franchisees sue Papa Murphy’s (Vancouver Columbian)
Delays, delays on legal pot (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima park funding set to ballot (Yakima Herald Republic)
Prices for using public lands rising (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 08 2014

Keep the change

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’m at an age when I’m slow to accept change. If something has worked well most of my life, it should continue unabated. The comfort zone should not be disturbed. Even as I remember that old saw “change is the only constant,” when it happens it’s still unsettling.

Two recent discoveries are causing my current discomfort. One is that more and more new cars are being sold without spare tires. Now that may be acceptable to those who live in large urban areas where service stations, tire repair shops and tow trucks are readily available. For those of us used to driving several hundred miles at a stretch through empty Western landscapes, the idea is most certainly unacceptable. Most of Oregon’s Harney and Lake Counties fit that empty description. Idaho’s Owyhee, too.

Car companies claim putting a spare tire in each new model costs about $30. Now if you have an annual production run of 200,000, that fifth wheel and tire will cost about $6 million. I once had a flat in Harney County, so far from civilization, that I would have personally paid the $6 million. But, apparently, CEO bonuses are being threatened so we are being asked to sacrifice. Again.

Car makers argue new generations of tires are made of better rubber, are stronger and less apt to have problems. There are also the new “run flat” tires on some of the more expensive models that will normally get you to the next service station. If that service station fixes flats – which many don’t. And is less than 50 miles away. Which many aren’t.

Their weakest argument is that taking out the weight of a tire and wheel makes the vehicle lighter so, therefore, you get better mileage. They make that claim but the savings are so small they don’t try to put a number on it. I could make the same argument that removing all seats but the drivers would probably increase mileage as well but, again, statistically insignificant when compared with convenience.

The second upheaval in my life recently came with the news that fewer K-12 schools, colleges and universities are publishing the traditional yearbook. Again, cost is the reason given. As one principal said, “We’re firing teachers so, when it comes to teachers versus yearbooks, yearbooks are going to lose.” At least that makes more sense than the effect of no spare tire on gas mileage. Continue Reading »

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Apr 08 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Few converts outside GOP for Fulcher (Boise Statesman)
Boise Co-op in review (Boise Statesman)
Looking at ‘Part Time Indian’ book, Meridian (Boise Statesman)
National Forest review, megaloads on Hwy 12 (Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston may get new swimming pool (Lewiston Tribune)
Court asked to reject ag gag lawsuit (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News, Sandpoint Bee)
Kiva Theatre at UI may be razed (Moscow News)
Nampa mulls traffic around new library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell urban renewal may end (Nampa Press Tribune)
Coldwater Creek may file for bankruptcy soon (Sandpoint Bee)
Filer cop in dog shooting case resumes work (TF Times News)
Lots of lunch subsidies in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

Corvallis moving toward new parking rules (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Glenwood conference center moving ahead (Eugene Register Guard)
SkyWest ending flights, issues created (KF Herald & News)
Tribal members consider water deal (KF Herald & News)
Watershed thinning planned, trails close (Ashland Tidings)
CostCo may open in Medford Northgate area (Medford Tribune)
Timber bidders watch for burn results (Medford Tribune)
Extra watching for medical pot dealers (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Strike averted at Portland State (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon perforance in voting procedure reviewed (Portland Oregonian)
Deputy corrections leader investigated (Salem Statesman Journal)

Aid coming for Oso people and others (Everett Herald)
Smaller school classes, ballot issue (Everett Herald)
B Reactor gets a virtual tour guide (Kennewick Herald)
Searching continues at Oso (Kennewick Herald, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
West Main road work nearly done (Longview News)
New Olympic human society next year? (Port Angeles News)
King County transit tax vote ahead (Seattle Times)
Tacoma gifted kids get new options (Tacoma News Tribune)

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Apr 07 2014

A fourth? A fifth?

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

If Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter wanted to turn the governorship into his personal kingdom for life, the system is solidly in place for him to do so.

Otter will be 72 on May 3, and he doesn’t look it. He describes himself as “healthy as a horse,” and h every well could be feeling that way for many years – and decades — to come.

So why not seek a third term in office? I didn’t think there was any way in the world he would be seeking a third term in the most demanding job in Idaho politics. But as long as he is feeling so well, then why not a fourth term? Or a fifth term? In 2034, he’ll only be 92 years old, so maybe he could think about an eighth term. Stranger things have happened. It has not been all smooth sailing for Otter in his two terms as Idaho’s chief executive. But, apparently, he loves his job. The perfect storm is in place for Otter to stay around for as long as he desires. Consider:

There are no signs of widespread “Otter fatigue.” People may get angry with him from time to time, but a lot of that melts away when the governor gives a friendly handshake, a pat on the back and shares some laughs. He doesn’t always give the greatest speeches, but nobody relates better to people on a one-to-one basis than Otter.

Money is always the name of the game, and the big donors are likely to continue to line his campaign war chest as long as he stays in power.

The majority of Senate and House leaders are backing Otter, and for good reason. He stood up to the Legislature just one time: That was 2009 when he promoted a 2-cent gas tax for Idaho roads. The Legislature took him to the woodshed on that issue and he has been as tame as a house cat ever since. A neutered governor always makes life much easier for legislators. Continue Reading »

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Apr 07 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Idaho scientists talk global wrming (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing Common Core (Lewiston Tribune)
Studying the Oso mudslide (Moscow News)
Not enough space for female jail inmates (Nampa Press Tribune)
Kimberly city administrator under review (TF Times News)
Wolf population holding about even (TF Times News)

School bomb investigation evidence (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Partisan battle over health reform in OR (Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Financing Lane commission races (Eugene Register Guard)
Big money opposing GMO ban (Ashland Tidings)
Strike at Portland State averted (Portland Oregonian)
Veterans Administration wrongful death pay (Portland Oregonian)
Cherriot buses return to transit center (Salem Statesman Journal)

Mental illness and jail population (Everett Herald)
Management of aid on mudslide (Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald)
Cowlitz River flushing out silt (Longview News)
Survivors of mudslide reflect (Longview News)
Nippon Paper sensors and air readings (Port Angeles News)
Microsoft plans for innovation (Seattle Times)
Traffic cams planned for Highway 195 (Spokane Spokesman)
C-sections reduced at PeaceHealth hospital (Vancouver Columbian)

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Apr 06 2014

Pick a theory

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

The day after election day – any election day – people publicly and privately will offer up their theory as to why the results happened as they did. Usually, in truth, there’s no one single reason, but the dominant theory gives people some comfort: An easy explanation.

The Idaho secretary of state Republican primary is an especially juicy theory-fest. At this point, six weeks or so ahead of election day, the outcome is not at all clear, to the point you can make a credible argument for any of the four candidates to win. Usually an incumbent would be the likely winner, but here incumbent Ben Ysursa, holder of the job since 2002, is retiring. The Republican winner will oppose Democrat Holli Woodings in November.

The four: former house speaker and current representative Lawerence Denney; former state senators Evan Frasure and Mitch Toryanski; and Phil McGrane, deputy Ada County clerk.

Read the theories below and reflect that one, but only one, of them will look prescient on election day.

Denney is the best-known (by election day all will become better known), though many of his headlines have been negative. (Will voters remember those headlines, or just the name?) He does have a strong base of support, however, and many Tea Party members and allies may rally to him. His recent Duck Dynasty fundraiser will raise his visibility and identification with this sector. In a four-way primary, that could be enough for a win. And though he lost his bid for a fourth term as speaker in December 2012, he retains plenty of allies in the legislature and elsewhere.

Frasure is the only one of the four who has run statewide before – he lost the Republican primary for this same office in 2002 to Ysursa. Before that he was in the legislature quite a while, experienced in campaigning in difficult territory (Denney, though a long-time legislator, has been opposed only sporadically), and he is one of the best campaign organizers and strategists Idaho has seen in the last generation. He has played a big role in legislative redistricting for three decades now, and few people know the intricacies of Idaho voting patterns better. He is the only candidate from east of Boise, and more than 40 percent of Republican primary votes are cast in that region. (The other three contenders all come from southwest Idaho.)

Toryanski, a former deputy attorney general, has a base in Boise and has been thought likely to generate strong support from business interests and some of the mainstream Republican Party organizers, a core of backing that shouldn’t be lightly dismissed. Like Frasure, Toryanski has campaigned in difficult territory (southeast Boise), winning once and losing once, both fairly narrowly, and he did both in the last few election cycles.

Unlike the others, McGrane never has been elected to office, but he does have experience helping run the office – Ada County Clerk – that most resembles the secretary of state’s office. He also has an endorsement, nicely timed for delivery last week, from Ysursa. Most endorsements carry little weight, but this one may be more significant given Ysursa’s sterling reputation in the job not just since 2002 but also for decades before that as chief deputy secretary of state. He also, of course, has a strong endorsement from his current boss, Ada County Clerk Chris Rich, whose Republican activism goes back several decades, and on top of that one from former Governor Phil Batt.

What’s the winning theory for secretary of state? Take your pick: They’re all pretty good.

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Apr 06 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Crapo blasted in ads on mortgage bill (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing secretary of state race (Boise Statesman)
Wine development possible around Riggins (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon Fair Board reviews fair location (Nampa Press Tribune)
The local meth industry today (Nampa Press Tribune)
Amtrak schedules changing (Sandpoint Bee)

Tagging sage grouse (KF Herald & News)
Snowpack going away (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem Statesman Journal (Snowpack still low)

Oso mudslide services (Seattle Times, Everett Herald)
Vietnam vets losing out in groups (Longview News)
Washington wine industry growing (Seattle Times)
Renters displaced by tower buildings (Seattle Times)
Tacoma considers expensive parks proposal (Tacoma News Tribune)
About filling open Clark commission seat (Vancouver Columbian)

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Apr 05 2014

“The most dangerous man in Britain”

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

It must have been sometime in early 1979. The Interior Secretary and I had just finished our morning review of public and government affairs matters. Andrus turned and asked, “What can you tell me about a member of the British Parliament, Anthony Wedgewood Benn? The British Embassy called to set up a meeting for him with me.”

“All I know is the conservative press has called him “the most dangerous man in Britain,” I replied, adding “I don’t know why but I’ll do a briefing page for you before you see him.” Andrus added the Embassy had not said why, they had just asked for the meeting.

A week later one of the more fascinating figures Andrus ever met was sitting in his office. Memories of the meeting came back to me as I read the news of Benn’s death on March 14th at the age of 88.

A voluminous writer and speechifyer, Benn was long-time member of Britain’s Labour party, but a more apt description was that he was a true socialist. He waged an eight-year battle to renounce his peerage because rather than take his father’s seat in the House of Lords he wanted to sit in Parliament where the action and power really were.

He won a seat from the Bristol Southeast and Chesterfield riding and his native intelligence soon captured the attention of his party’s leadership. He first served as Minister for Industry in the Labour government of Harold Wilson, then as Minister for Energy for Prime Minister Jim Callaghan.

His reason for visiting Andrus ostensibly was to discuss energy policy in the United States under Carter and since Interior oversaw offshore oil leasing and onshore coal leasing, programs that generated through royalties considerable income for the U.S. Treasury, he wanted to probe Andrus’ views. I couldn’t help thinking though that Benn was trying to take the measure of Andrus, that the Brits knew the former Idaho governor was one of the very few stars in the Carter Administration.

By the time he came to see Andrus critics were charging that he had almost single-handedly destroyed the Labour Party (And thereby helped to clear the path for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party’s rise to power), and Rupert Murdock’s press was calling him “bonkers.” Continue Reading »

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Apr 05 2014

On the front pages

news

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)

Poisoning ravens to help sage grouse (Boise Statesman)
Renewing forests damaged by disease (Boise Statesman)
Otter line-vetoes governor’s pay raise (Boise Statesman)
Wolf numbers decline but still substantial (Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Students dean Pitman leaves UI after 41 years (Moscow News)
Planning for Pullman-Moscow airport (Moscow News)
Commercial end of Nampa library in question (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello debate over science teacher (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho public defender system still troubled (TF Times News)

Reviewing sale of state forest lands (Coos Bay World)
Home rule ballot issue coming to Curry (Coos Bay World)
Homeless camp Whoville closed (Eugene Register Guard)
Developers at Glenwood financing (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Skywest flights will end (KF Herald & News)
Board of directs starts at OIT (KF Herald & News)
Board for SOU approved (Ashland Tidings)
New report on Cover Oregon options (Portland Oregonian)
Pioneer Courthouse Square 30 years (Portland Oregonian)
Open meeting violation alleged at ed district (Salem Statesman Journal)

Debating blame for mudslide (Everett Herald)
Inslee signs state budget bill (Everett Herald)
Breach in causeway could help fish (Kennewick Herald)
New wilderness possible in Umatilla NF (Kennewick Herald)
Little measuring of possible slides (Longview News)
Reviewing vocational education at Seattle (Seattle Times)
Inslee vetoes bill on drones (Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic)
Mudslide help continues (Vancouver Columbian)
medical provision changing structure (Yakima Herald Republic)
Roundabout planned near Yakima Boise mill (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 04 2014

From the kernel

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux computer operating system (on which this publication is produced), doesn’t get out a lot, at least not to speak to groups.

Written into his employment contract is a provision saying he can’t be required to speak to groups. Although he has lived in the Portland area for about a decade, he has appeared at the local (and highly active) Linux users group, which just celebrated its 20-year anniversary, only twice. The most recent occasion was Thursday night.

Mostly, he said, he works at his computer, overseeing the “kernel” of the operating system named for him; “the kernel is my real life’s work.” His employer is an open-source foundation which is based in the area. A native of Finland but a United States resident for 17 years, Torvalds speaks with only a trace of his native land and with great clarity.

torvalds
Torvalds at Portland (photo/Randy Stapilus)

 

As the people who have felt the sting of his barbs could attest. (“C++ is a horrible [programming] language,” he said at point, and dismissing executives at one corporation as “horrible people” at another.)

“You never see my happier outbursts,” he said.
He spoke as well with a good deal of humor as well, reflecting on the progress 0f Linux and open source software – which he said are doing well and are far ahead of where they were just a few years ago – and technology as well.

While some tech corporations have been resistant to working with open source (including Linux) projects, Torvalds said that most have been highly cooperative, and are becoming more so.

Gaming – in which he said he has little personal interest – is important for Linux growth into the future, he suggested. It has been an area where Windows has been notably strong.

In his work, he said, he often finds “bugs” in the code as new upgrades evolve. The plus side is that they’re usually swiftly discovered and corrected. He acknowledged making periodic mistakes himself, but they’re almost never seen by the world because they’re caught before they get that far. Open source software is developed by large numbers of volunteer software coders who regularly review and correct new and existing code.

That concept of broad correction returned in some other ways as well. “You’d think banks are secure,” he said, but: “No, they’re not.” But he added that wasn’t a big problem, because banks have proven highly capable of fixing and correcting problems once they do happen, which is nearly as good.

Torvalds suggested focusing attention on computer privacy and security where it matters most (such as in financial areas), not as a broad subject for concern in all areas. The reach of information gathering, he said, “is not the end of the world. You want to care about some things, and not so much about others.”

Many people use Linux programming without know it, though “If you’re a user, you really really shouldn’t care.” Android smart phones, for example, use a Linux-based operating system, and many computer servers and embedded computers use it as well, because it is so inexpensive (free in many cases) and its coding is so efficient.

These areas interest Torvalds less, however: “For me, the main target is the desktop, and always has been.” That he suggested, is where the broad range of what a computer and an operating system can do really comes into play.

He acknowledged that a decade ago, Linux was not able to fully hold its own as a desktop operating system, but said that has changed. It has been picking up some steam in the United States, but growing faster in some other places, such as much of Europe and – for reasons unclear – South America.

The large open-source community in the Portland area only occasionally gets some visibility. But it gets some real encouragement from the fact that the founder and still final arbiter of one of the globe’s leading operating systems lives close by. And, now and again, shows up at a users meeting.

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THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and how they're dealing with the day of the Internet. New Editions tells you where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

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without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
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The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

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    watergates

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    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

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    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

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    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
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    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
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    Globe-Pequot Press
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    It Happened in Idaho
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