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 17 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)

Tuition increases cut at UI, BSU (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WA transport commission visits Palous (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Moscow works out play field funding (Moscow News)
Tulalip state senator visits WSU (Moscow News)
Library square funding still discussed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa school district faces employee suit (Nampa Press Tribune)
Fair board looks at 20/26 location plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Employees sue Chubbuck WalMart for various (Pocatello Journal)
Prescribed burns at Pandhandle forests (Sandpoint Bee)
Sandpoint considers stimulus for jobs (Sandpoint Bee)
Magic Valley veterans form new political party (TF Times News)
No SAT cost for many Idaho students (TF Times News)

Corvallis looks at plan code updates (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Water deal signing on Friday (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission debate held (KF Herald & News)
Klamath public safety funding considered (KF Herald & News)
Gun debate in Ashland (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Port dispensaries banned in Jacksonville (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Wildfire risk high at Ashland (Medford Tribune)
All Umatilla cities ban pot stores (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Cover Oregon not Oracle’s fault, it says (Portland Oregonian, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Inadequate oversight alleged in welfare (Portland Oregonian)
Polk’s pot dispensary closes, county order (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviving Oso-area, Darrington economy (Everett Herald)
Linking pot business, movies (Port Angeles News)
Future of buried landfill considered (Port Angeles News)
WA Medicaid rolls increasing fast (Seattle Times)
Help with Oso mudslide (Seattle Times)
New Seattle police chief chosen (Seattle Times)
Legislator Shea supports Nevada rancher (Spokane Spokesman)
CdA tribe offers poker, provoking state (Spokane Spokesman)
Gig Harbor mayor dismisses administrator (Tacoma News Tribune)
Audit of CRC wonders about $17m (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot vending machines in state? (Vancouver Columbian)
Cantwell on oil terminal concerns (Vancouver Columbian)
More discussion of WSU med school (Yaking Herald Republic)

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Apr 16 2014

Balukoff’s guns

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff acknowledges that he hangs out mostly with his fellow Democrats. If he spent time in rural communities, and coffee shops not named Starbucks, he would know better than to take on the National Rifle Association – the sacred cow of special interests in Idaho.

Balukoff may well be correct about the NRA’s candidate survey being full of loaded questions, but he shouldn’t be surprised about that. The NRA is a defender of gun rights and many Idahoans love the organization because of that.

For a lot of Idahoans, the three most important issues in an election are: Guns, guns and guns. Rep. Raul Labrador’s town hall meetings often take on the flavor of an NRA convention. Of course, Balukoff would be the last person you’d see at a Labrador town hall meeting.
The NRA endorsement is the prized pig of any election season in Idaho. Even those who don’t get the NRA endorsement will talk about their avid support of the Second Amendment. But almost nobody takes on the NRA – except for Cecil Andrus, and Balukoff rightfully acknowledges is no Cecil Andrus.

According to a story by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey, Balukoff was advised by his campaign manager to stay silent on the NRA. So instead of following that advice, he issued a press release saying, “Special interests gave us Idaho’s guns on campus law.”

So under Popkey’s byline, Balukoff committed political suicide in the front page of the Idaho Statesman. How stupid can you get?

Balukoff ought to know the legislative chambers are full of people who think that universities, school classrooms, the streets and public places would be a lot safer if people who knew how and when to use guns were allowed to carry them. These lawmakers don’t need the NRA to tell them how to vote on gun issues.

If Balukoff was trying to do an impersonation of Andrus, who took on the gun lobby almost 30 years ago, it was a poor effort. Andrus is about the only person who could get away with calling NRA leaders “gun nuts.” Continue Reading »

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Apr 16 2014

To Wasden – listen up

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Never having met or even talked with Idaho’s current attorney general, Lawrence Wasden, I have no compunction about offering some free political advice.

First, in reviewing opinions he has provided to the governor and through his deputies, to the various state agencies, he comes across as thoughtful, reasonable, prudent, and logical with a good dose of common sense. He is not overtly partisan, either. He reads the law with due deference to precedent, and gives solid advice.

Secondly, he displayed genuine political courage in reframing the upcoming primary campaign as a fight for the soul and the future of the Republican Party, with reasonable, sensible, moderate Republicans on one side and unreasonable, uncompromising, blindly ideological “wing nuts” (my choice of words, not his) on the other side.

He is absolutely correct.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw an op-ed in the
April 9th edition of the St.Maries Gazette-Record, written by an intelligent but nonetheless rock-solid right-winger in Benewah County, Ken deVries. He does his homework and he at least listens politely to those he disagrees with.

Ken charged the attorney general had aligned himself with the “take your guns away” crowd, led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when he signed off on Idaho filing an amicus brief in the case that led to the historic Heller vs. the District of Columbia ruling in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That ruling, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority, was the first time the Court ever interpreted the Second Amendment to be a qualified right for an individual to keep and bear arms to protect himself and his property apart from the Constitutional language that appeared to tie that right only to keeping and maintaining a well armed militia.

For some yet to be adequately explained reason, the office of the Idaho Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the preceding case and joined with the likes of the attorney generals of states like New York and Massachusetts, and liberal “we-need-more gun control” mayors like Mayor Bloomberg.

In discussing the issue with the Gazette-Record’s publisher, Wasden’s office claimed a mistake was made, that they quickly withdrew the amicus brief, turned around and filed a brief supporting the ultimate majority view as expressed by Justice Scalia. I accept that explanation, but Wasden has to recognize there are still unanswered questions.

Is the lawyer who drafted the initial amicus brief still on staff? If so, why wasn’t he fired? Anyone with an ounce of sense looking at the other signers should have known Idaho didn’t belong in that company. Some may make the argument that the AG’s office essentially thought the brief which they temporarily joined was all about a state’s right to develop its own rules and regulations. Continue Reading »

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Apr 16 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)

Bud Purdy dies (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Copies of Meridian’s controversial book sent (Boise Statesman)
State sues Potlatch, Clearwater on fire (Lewiston Tribune)
Risch land exchange bill on hold (Lewiston Tribune)
Report: Lewiston port promoting growth (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow meeting covers substance abuse (Moscow News)
Moscow water bond approved (Moscow News)
Chaney won’t quit House race (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI reviewing Canyon fair relocation (Nampa Press Tribune)
Meridian interchange work begins (Nampa Press Tribune)
Explosive from WWII at Pocatello’s airport (Pocatello Journal)
Sho-Bans win control of FMC site (Pocatello Journal)
Grace/North Gem school merger hearings (Pocatello Journal)
Legislators review session (Sandpoint Bee)
Hot sheriff’s race in Minidoka County (TF Times News)

Pot outlet bans sought in 71 cities (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Lane sheriff seeks Florence cop job (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Community College short on funds (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT nears energy self-sufficiency (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission forum planned (KF Herald & News)
Funding sought for Klamath basin research (KF Herald & News)
Ashland prohibits plastic bags (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Kentucky man may head Medford schools (Medford Tribune)
Cover Oregon repairs under review (Medford Tribune)
Teachers hired at more-flush districts (Portland Oregonian)
OR job growth rising again (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Still looking for Oso mudslide causes (Everett Herald)
Mini-dam on Skykomish River discussed (Everett Herald)
State pressure could risk Hanford projects (Kennewick Herald)
Kennewick won’t annex 21 acres (Kennewick Herald)
Goldmark takes timber money (Longview News)
Post-AG complaint, Dish refunds $2m to customers (Longview News)
Big concerns about Puget loss of 1k Boeign jobs (Seattle Times)
Seattle metro tax proposal (Seattle Times)
Spokane asks for parks levy (Spokane Spokesman)
Voters may consider full-time Spokane council (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma council considers new hotel (Tacoma News Tribune)
Voters back competing gun proposals (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
I-205 plan may help with driving (Vancouver Columbian)

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Apr 15 2014

The financial base and the voting base

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Welcome Robert Harris, our latest contributor at Ridenbaugh Press. Harris has lived his entire life in the Oregon and Washington. He is the managing partner of Harris Law Firm, a general practice “Mom and Pop” law firm of ten attorneys located in the Portland Oregon metro region. For 30 years he was a registered Democrat but is now a leader in the Independent Party of Oregon and the editor of OregonOutpost.com.

The US Supreme Court’s line of cases protecting virtually unlimited election spending (and likely soon to make unlimited campaign contributions protected as free speech) has greatly empowered party and candidate financiers. A relatively small number of large corporations, unions, and wealthy donors are a distinct financial base within each major party. And a Party’s financial base is as important as the voting base. Because while money will automatically create a viable candidate (see Monica Wehby) and thus votes, a voting base won’t automatically create a large enough financial base to win an election.

So, it’s fair to now say that each major party has a distinct and powerful voting base and a financial base. And the edge the Democratic Party in Oregon has is that it’s financial base and voting base have greater issue overlap than the Republican financial and voting bases.

OR GOP base parties

The Oregon Democratic financial base is clearly unions and more specifically public employee unions. And the Democratic Party is very clear that it’s number one issue is the well being of employees. Preferably union employees, and more specifically public employees. Whether the issue is PERS, public spending on construction projects or schools, tax increases to pay for these services, government oversight or control of the land use process, the financial base and voting base of the Democratic Party are generally in sync on major issues and policies. Consequently, there is little tension within the Party and it can act very cohesively with less internal disruption or conflict between the two bases.

In comparison, the Republican financial base is more interested in a libertarian capitalism. Less government regulation and low taxes, while it’s voting base is more animated by social issues . Though low taxation and less government regulation are important as well for the voter base their blood boiling issues are immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and religious policies such as prayer in school and evolution. And, while disagreements between the Democratic financial base and voting base are more related to relative importance of a particular policy, the differences between the Republican financial and voter base are more often about the policy itself. Businesses want immigration reform. And think being anti gay is bad for business. Continue Reading »

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Apr 15 2014

The case for Fulcher

mansfield DENNIS
MANSFIELD
 

Many states are preparing to soon hold their Primary elections. Throughout the western states, the primaries are often held in the spring. For some states, like Arizona, their races for party nominations are held at the end of summer.

In Idaho, this party-centric nominating election is held in late May.

The two races that seem to capture the lion’s share of attention and news in Idaho are the GOP Primary races for Attorney General and Governor.

I’ve already covered the Attorney General race – stating that Christ (pronounced Chris) Troupis would make fine NEW attorney general. The incumbent’s tenure has simply been too long. (Having advocated term limits and fought a dying battle on behalf of them in Idaho, I STILL believe that elected officials MUST return home – either by force of law or force of vote.)

Regarding Governor, the case is the same.

Idaho’s sitting Governor, Butch Otter, and I have known each other for 23, almost 24 years. Many of those years have been friendly years – only distancing ourselves for a brief period of time when one another got in the way of the other’s mutually-desired GOP nomination to US Congress – a dozen-plus years ago. He won. I endorsed him the very next day and worked to see him get elected three times as Congressman and then twice as Governor. I have a deep affection and fondness for Butch and Lori Otter.

I also have a deep, decades-long friendship with Russ Fulcher and his family. I write about Russ in my book Beautiful Nate.

Originally, since neither candidate had asked for my endorsement, I withheld it. I just sat and watched – until this week.

Maybe it was today being Tax Day, maybe it was just my nature to think long and then act …

Today I decided to act and endorse State Senator Russ Fulcher for the GOP nomination for Governor of Idaho.

Here’s why:

Governor Butch Otter made two large blunders.

First, he embraced (and then led on) the state healthcare insurance exchange plan. He had a chance to be the Butch Otter many Idahoans have come to know and appreciate. Oddly, Butch Otter failed to BE Butch Otter on this major issue, failing to join many of his fellow GOP governors as they stood against it.

Second, he decided to run a third time as governor. Continue Reading »

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Apr 15 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)

Eagle seizes part of greenbelt tract (Boise Statesman)
Women sue BSU on sex assault (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Lewiston extends smoking ban (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho public defender system blasted (Lewiston Tribune)
WSU will help at Oso mudslide (Moscow News)
Syringa park still said not in compliance (Moscow News)
Moscow city looking for marketing, rebranding (Moscow News)
Enrollment down at Treasure Valley CC (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon house prices and prices up (Nampa Press Tribune)
200 jobs at new Shelley jerky plant (Pocatello Journal)
Seizure of pot-laced candy at Montpelier (Pocatello Journal)
Litehouse buys Coldwater building (Sandpoint Bee)
Compromise Rangen water call ruling (TF Times News)
Battle between Lincoln clerk, planning head (TF Times News)
Businesses weigh in on TF downtown renewal (TF Times News)

More opening for Oregon jobs (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Benton Commission candidates at forum (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene sets new business tax break (Eugene Register Guard)
KF explores air service options (KF Herald & News)
Klamath water project still short of water (KF Herald & News)
Gold Hill considers waste facility (Medford Tribune)
Oregonian nabs Pulitzer for PERS edits (Portland Oregonian)
Salem doc top OR earner for Medicaid (Salem Statesman Journal)
Chemeketa president in line for new job (Salem Statesman Journal)

Jail death care settled for $1.3m (Everett Herald)
GEO okays Boeing tanker effort (Everett Herald)
Kennewick faces coach abuse case (Kennewick Herald)
Maybe cleanup cuts at Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
Feds block some water for pot fields (Kennewick Herald)
Sequim city hall demolished (Port Angeles News)
Rodney Tom won’t run again (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Goldmark reverses, accepts $100k timber money (Seattle Times)
Heavy drawndowns at Wanapum Dam (Spokane Spokesman)
Fire wipes out Puyallup fair hall (Tacoma News Tribune)
Herrera Beutler on fish preservation bill (Vancouver Columbian)
Ethics board reviews legislators free lunches (Vancouver Columbian)
Utilities/Transportation reviews party buses (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 14 2014

Ready, aim . . .

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The situation with the Bundy family out in the flatlands some 80 miles from Las Vegas is akin to a truck load of dynamite with a very, very short fuse – parked next to a wildfire. Even an accidental spark could get a lot of people killed. So the federal government has blinked – backing away from executing a very valid court order and made the pathologic freeloader a hero in the eyes of his government-hating friends.

At first glance, this is about a professional deadbeat who owes us taxpayers more than a million dollars in grazing fees – running his cattle on BLM lands for decades and ignoring the bills. Rather than back down, the BLM should have served the court order, confiscated his herd, sold ‘em at market and arrested the bastard for inciting sedition. Seems simple enough.

Like so many of their push-it-to-the-limit kind, Cliven Bundy and his family have taken the totally irresponsible position their ancestors were there before the BLM – their water rights predate federal ownership of the land – they’re not obligated to pay the bills the feds have been sending for more than two decades. And they haven’t! Not exactly living up to the promises made signing that federal grazing contract many years ago. Makes one wonder what changed their minds. And when.

Now, the Bundys claim they’ve tried to makes some payment on their water and grazing bills recently but nobody will take the money. And they’re right. The State of Nevada and the federal government will not accept payment. They can’t. That’s because the recent court order allowing the BLM to confiscate the cattle also freezes the whole Bundy situation. And their assets. The Bundys are in massive default.

But all that fades now because the Bundys have taken the position they’re the “aggrieved” party in this situation – that the feds are exceeding their authority – that the government is out to make an example of them – they’re victims of government excess – that they’re “patriots” who will hold out until the end. About 98.7% B.S.

The feds do appear to have some blame here. The BLM should’ve stepped in years ago with direct legal action to put an end to Bundy’s use of federal grazing lands for free. While I haven’t read the contract, I’d bet the farm there’s a section dealing with default – what it is – when it is deemed to have taken place – remedies for forcing contract compliance. And penalties. I’ve never signed a major contract without such language. And Bundy has been in default, according to the courts and government, for more than 20 years.

To let the Bundys run up a million dollar grazing tab for that long without collection action is, to my mind, completely irresponsible on the feds part. Get two months behind on your house payment and you can expect a guy from the bank at your front door. So – to some extent – this situation could have been nipped in the bud years ago.

But – as I said – because of the dangerous situation the Bundys have created by word and deed – trying to make themselves out the martyrs here – we’ve got an armed encampment of federal officers “cheek-by-jowl” with several hundred armed faux “freedom fighters” from half a dozen states who’ve come to the Bundy homestead to stand against anything governmental.

There’s a dangerous element in this country using the I-net and other media to whip itself into a frenzy of camouflage-wearing, government-hating, heavily-armed anger. Without knowing any firsthand details of Ruby Ridge or Waco, they blame the feds for those and any and all perceived attacks on their “personal freedoms” – most especially the Second Amendment to the Constitution – a document most of them have likely never read. They’re as unstable as a gallon of nitro on a bumpy road. Reasoning and logic are out of the question. They talk violence as if it were the only satisfactory response to their trumped up hatred. How many will actually stick around if shots are fired is anyone’s guess. But shooting is what they say they’ll do.

The back ridges and valleys of our Pacific Northwest also harbor a lot of very unstable people. Some hiding from something or someone. Some mentally over-the-edge from wars or simply lack of professional treatment. Others who call themselves “survivalists” and are convinced the world is soon to meet some cataclysmic end and believing they alone will be spared. Some are flat-out criminals growing marijuana or engaging in other illegal activities. And some have built heavily fortified compounds in which they’ve gathered family and vow to kill anyone who comes snooping about. Continue Reading »

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Apr 14 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)

WSU considers medical school (Boise Statesman)
Whitman Democrats name state delegates (Moscow News)
Exercise shows Rupert split in two by trains (TF Times News)

Effort to build craft beer museum (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland may ban plastic bags (Ashland Tidings)
What to do with fees for wildlife parking (Medford Tribune)
Portland metro rules may limit composts (Portland Oregonian)
New stormwater fee about to hit Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett School District tries another bond (Everett Herald)
Kennewick annexation opposed (Kennewick Herald)
Teevin Brother to grow site at Rainier (Longview News)
Park chalet may have to be moved (Port Angeles News)
Spokane may open more area to pot grows (Spokane Spokesman)
Logging rises in east Clark County (Vancouver Columbian)
Possible medical school at WSU (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Prosser tries 4th time on school bond (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 14 2014

In this week’s Briefings

Oregon

 
IN THE OREGON WEEKLY BRIEFING The 173rd Fighter Wing will conduct night flying operations April 14-17, 2014, between approximately 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Night flying is one part of the course curriculum for F-15 student pilots at Kingsley Field. “Night flying is a critical skill which our students need to learn to be effective war fighters,” said Col. Jeremy Baenen, 173rd Fighter Wing commander. “We understand the disruption to the community during night flying weeks, but we try our best to minimize the noise impact.” The community will most likely hear the jets during take-offs and approaches to and from Kingsley Field. Most of the training will occur in military operating airspace east of Lakeview.” (Photo/Oregon Military Department)

 
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Apr 13 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)

Profiling House candidate Bryan Smith (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing chinook numbers (Lewiston Tribune)
Profiling Andy Grover, Melba supt for st supt (Nampa Press Tribune)
Late income tax filers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Following up on Holbrook murders (Pocatello Journal)
PMC advancing in medical tech (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint arts charter school planned (Sandpoint Bee)
Filer under microscope after dog shooting (TF Times News)
Review candidates for state superintendent (TF Times News)

Difficulties with Glenwood convention project (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing Klamath health picture (KF Herald & News)
Army guard at Bend readies to deploy (KF Herald & News)
Overview of Medford library district plan (Medford Tribune)
Vancouver reconsiders oil train shipping (Portland Oregonian)
How to manage Cover Oregon? (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing Oso mudslide (Everett Herald)
$7 million to repair Wanapum dam crack (Kennewick Herald)
Heroin ‘stronghold’ around Cowlitz (Longview News)
Gas prices increasing for season (Port Angeles News)
Clallam deputy prosecutor quits (Port Angeles News)
Fast growing in craft distilleries (Spokane Spokesman)
Debating over Spokane’s pit bull bites (Spokane Spokesman)
University Place town center moves ahead (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legialization may lead to pot research (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil terminal lease legality reviewed (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima reconsiders prerelease jail effort (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima seeks more river water pumpage (Yakima Herald Republic)

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Apr 13 2014

Abuse of officials

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Why do we abuse our public servants?

What is it about so many Idaho voters who seem to enjoy abusing those they have elected to public office?

Over the last 65 years the Gem State has produced some real gems, fine public servants in the highest sense who see public service as a calling, people who revere the public trust they hold, and would literally die rather than bring disgrace to their office – people like Cecil Andrus, Jim McClure¸ John Evans, Len Jordan, Marguerite McLaughlin, Edith Miller Klein, to name but a few.

Idaho has also had some real turkeys – some corrupt, some who make a fence post look intelligent. Others were scoundrels, drunkards, skirt-chasers. Eventually they are defeated but are seldom subject to the abuse the fine ones endure.

It was common knowledge, especially among the media, that Steve Symms, Idaho’s First District Congressman in 1980, had a roving eye and liked a well-turned ankle and/or an ample endowment. Steve, though, was a good ole boy, quick with a quip, easy-going, and had the gambit of taking a bite out of an apple (he was an apple farmer) to symbolize the bite he would take out of government.

His opponent in the 1980 Senate race was Idaho’s distinguished four-term Senator Frank Church, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and a man of probity and virtue who had brought nothing but distinction and honor to Idaho during his 24 years of service.

Guess which one had a St. Maries dogcatcher mount a recall campaign against him? Guess which one was the subject of a series of nasty, “hit ads” a full year before the election? Yup. Senator Church, who was not surprisingly defeated by the “beloved infidel,” Steve Symms, in that 1980 Senate race.

Idaho’s Second District voters displayed unusual loyalty to their gad-fly congressman (two stints totaling fourteen years) “Big George” Hansen, and despite serious allegations of fraud and income tax evasion, stayed loyal to him until he was actually convicted. Go figure.

All of this history came to mind as I listened to and read accounts of the incredible abuse endured earlier this month by one of Idaho’s fine State Senators, Shawn Keough, from Sandpoint, at public forums in Blanchard and Sandpoint. She has served 18 years with distinction, is an incredibly hard-working public servant, and is vice-chair of the powerful Senate Finance committee and thus vice-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. She does her homework, is thoughtful and pays attention to her constituents. Continue Reading »

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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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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
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See the NEW EDITIONS page.

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See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

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