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Posts published in June 2014

An Arkansas lesson

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Years ago, I bumped into my old boss on an elevator – former Arkansas Congressman Ed Bethune – and he was gushing about how nice it would be to live in Idaho, where Republicans receive such enthusiastic support.

At the time, he never saw such a level of support in Arkansas. Democrats held the kind of stronghold in Arkansas that Republicans have held for so long in Idaho. Bethune, who served three terms in the House of Representatives, was one of the few Republicans who managed to win elections in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

It’s no mystery why Democrats were so strong in Arkansas. Gov. Bill Clinton was the pride and joy of the Democratic Party and Hillary, as the first lady, was a rising star. Arguably, the most popular political figure at that time was then-Sen. David Pryor, who also was a former governor. Bethune decided to challenge Pryor for the Senate in 1984, and Pryor won convincingly.

At the time, Democrats seemed to have a dynasty that wouldn’t quit. Today, Arkansas is almost as red as Idaho. Republicans hold all four House seats, one Senate seat and majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Arkansas also has voted consistently for Republicans in recent presidential elections.

So can Idaho turn from a Republican state to a Democratic state? It’s far too early to take that leap, but there may be at least slight movement in that direction – and especially if Idaho Republicans continue to stumble over themselves. Back in the day, Arkansas Democrats were a pretty arrogant bunch and they took elections for granted. Democratic candidates always talked the conservative game, but their voting records didn’t match their rhetoric. So over time, Republicans became the party of choice in Arkansas. The pattern for Idaho Republicans is much the same. They’re arrogant and tend to take elections for granted. And in the eyes of some, policy records of the likes of Gov. Butch Otter and Rep. Mike Simpson don’t live up to their conservative campaign themes.

A sea change in Idaho wouldn’t be easy for Idaho Democrats. For one thing, Democrats will never out-conservative the GOP in the Gem State. But Democrats could make headway talking about how Idaho’s leadership formula has led to Idaho being near last in education and first in low wages – issues that Sen. Russ Fulcher raised during his narrow loss to Otter in the governor’s race. (more…)

In the briefings

guard training

Two Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with Golf Troop, 141st Brigade Support Battalion, guard an entry control point at the 2-218th Field Artillery Battalion compound at Yakima Training Site, Wash., June 21. Several Oregon Army National Guard units converged on the training site for their two-week annual training cycle. (Photo/Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs).


The federal section is busy this week with congressional action. That may reflect the upcoming congressional recess (over the July 4 period), when congressional news usually slows. Many members of Congress will be back in their home states and district in the coming week, up through July 7 or so.

Next week may be a little quieter, given the long (and Friday-driven) weekend this week for the 4th.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

New Idaho laws take effect July 1 (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Trbune)
Fish and Game studies trout, pelican predation (Boise Statesman)
School budgets can be hard to read (Nampa Press Tribune)
Major Murtaugh pipeline being moved (TF Times News)

Safety questions at skateboard parks (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland talks pot dispensaries, again (Ashland Tidings)
School at Talent will avoid pesticides (Ashland Tidings)
Teachings saying classes still too large (Medford Tribune)
State consider dental care expansion (Salem Statesman Journal)

Considering market share in mental health (Everett Herald)
Supply shortages for retail pot (Everett Herald)
UW and WSU battle over medical ed (Kennewick Herald)
Sea star wasting disease studied (Longview News)
Sounds Transit wants 25 acres in Bellevue (Seattle Times)
Liquor law change two years on, mixed report (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Republic)
Washington state looks at escalator rules (Tacoma News Tribune)
Adoptees get more birth record access (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian)

When Republicans collapse

idaho RANDY

Several weeks ago Marc Johnson, who has been a Boise consultant, press secretary and journalist, wrote a piece of a blog post that has been sticking in my mind these last couple of weeks. It may stick in yours.

The key sentence in it says this: “The near total history of Democratic success in Idaho, dating back to at least Frank Church’s first election in 1956, has its foundation in Republican mistakes.”

He went on to cite a few examples, but many more are available. Let's recap, starting with Church, the highly capable campaigner who likely would not have won his first Senate race in 1956 but for the weaknesses of incumbent Republican Herman Welker. Welker had been Senator Joe McCarthy's closest Senate ally, and McCarthy was by 1956 in national disgrace. Coupled with that, Idahoans were seeing Welker had some kind of serious but unacknowledged physical problem that was causing him to behave erratically; it was widely assumed to be alcoholism but was in fact a brain tumor, which killed him not long after the election.

In 1960, Democrat Ralph Harding was able to beat Republican Representative Hamer Budge after Budge had become too enamored of his committee assignments and lost track of his district.

A decade later, Democrat Cecil Andrus thinly beat incumbent Republican Governor Don Samuelson after a long series of small but embarrassing glitches and an overall weak governorship.

In 1984, it took a string of felony convictions to narrowly remove Republican Representative George Hansen in favor of Democrat Richard Stallings.

In 1990, Republican legislators pushed too far for the state's preference (at the time at least) on abortion legislation, and Democrats did uncommonly well that year, the last time to date that's been true. That also happened to be the last time Republicans were as internally divided as they are now, though the emotions didn't run nearly so hot then. (more…)

On the front pages


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)

Early efforts on natural gas (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Bardenays deals with health care law (Boise Statesman)
Competition heavy for DOE cleanup contracts (IF Post Register)
UI, LCSC dealing with guns on campus (Lewiston Tribune)
Gardner works on smaller Nampa library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa schools at risk for another financial mess (Nampa Press Tribune)
Should kids under 12 be in big game drawing? (Pocatello Journal)
Drones may help with potato research (Pocatello Journal)
Will drones help with firefighting? (TF Times News)

Bilingual proficiency encouraged in OR (Eugene Register Guard)
UO plans improving scholarship with clusters (Eugene Register Guard)
River suction mining may not stay legal (Medford Tribune)
Conflicts over sex harassment reporting law (Medford Tribune)
What if a quake hit LNG operations at Coos? (Portland Oregonian)
Federal money uncertain for coast cleaning (Salem Statesman Journal)

WA still struggling with money for schools (Everett Herald)
Same sex partnerships become marriages (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Pot may be scarce in some WA stores (Longview News)
Liquor still not cheaper after two private years (Seattle Times)
Researching sea star wasting disease (Seattle Times)
State isn't properly regulating escalators (Tacoma News Tribune)
Gorge Commission makes pitch for money (Vancouver Columbian)

Going to extremes


Washington State University's weather center has delivered one of its periodic reports on weather changes (much of it is in the Weather section in this issue) and this one, like many of them in recent years, has become compelling reading.
There's this for example:

“In a span of three years, Washingtonians have experienced both extremes of spring weather. In 2011, the state lived through one of the coolest early growing seasons on record, only to see one of the warmest in recent memory in 2014.”

The state has been whipsawed over the last few years and even in the most recent season. It went from unseasonably warm weather at the beginning of spring to cool and wet, quickly – and the landslide at Oso on the Stillaguamish River may have been attributable in part to just that change.

And then there was this:

“A major heat wave at the end of April caused the high temperature at Long Beach to rise from 58 degrees on April 28 to 88 degrees on April 30. The sweltering reading shattered the previous April record by 12 degrees and marked the warmest temperature since September 2012.

“On May 1, the heat spread eastward and Seattle spiked to 89 degrees. However, a return to onshore flow allowed the daily high to decrease to a more seasonable 69 degrees on May 2.”

Makes you wonder what's ahead for this year's summer.

And over the span of the next few years, because these whipsaws have been becoming more pronounced with time.

What they use on the farm


The chemistry of farming is becoming an unexpectedly heated subject of discussion which is about to go deeply political.

The issue of genetic modification has already gone political, of course, notably in Jackson and Josephine Counties, where voters chose to ban those substances. (The vote was advisory only in Josephine, since state law didn't allow a by-county change anywhere but Jackson.)

That issue going statewide, with either legislative or ballot issue action almost surely just around the bend.

Then there's the matter of pesticides, which have been popping up in headlines around the state more and more.

You'll note in this issue, for example, the Department of Agriculture is taking additional steps to protect bees and other pollinators from exposure to specific pesticide products following multiple incidents of bee deaths this summer. In adopting a temporary rule, ODA is prohibiting the use of pesticide products containing the active ingredients dinotefuran and imidacloprid on linden trees or other species of Tilia.

Then there were the reports out of Eugene contending that trees which were treated with certain types of chemicals (mainly with the idea of protection against pests) sprayed on to trees could do harm to bee populations in the areas where the trees were replanted.

What seems to be changing about some of this, and is taking the issue more directly political, is the distribution element. Some groups of people long have been critics of various types of chemicals or bioengineering, but those complaints were not likely to become a big political deal as long as the people (and plants, and animals) affected by them were only those already inside a system of mutual agreement – contracting partners of some type. When wind can blow the substances elsewhere, making non-participants unwitting and unwilling participants, a totally new legal element has been introduced.

A new set of standards will be needed to cope with this. It may be coming soon.

On the front pages


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)

Minnick pursues tax cases over land donation (Boise Statesman)
Simpson backs keeping Dubois sheep station (IF Post Register)
State transportation holds off 80 mph speeds (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Payette forest rescinds gold mine permit (Lewiston Tribune)
Vaccination exemption rate high in Whitman County (Moscow News)
Backgrounding Idaho's concealed carry law (Moscow News)
Colleges change rules on textbook purchases (Nampa Press Tribune)
Results unchanged in same sex bias Pocatello ballot (Pocatello Journal)
Water resources sets plan for Rangen water call (TF Times News)
Reviewing noxious weed control in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

ODOT tries dodging I-5 trouble at Drain (Eugene Register Guard)
Groundbreaking on Eugene veteran center (Eugene Register Guard)
Shutoff notices issued to some in Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Mercury possible in Applegate Lake fish (Ashland Tidings)
Kitzhaber at Pendleton round table (Pendleton E Oregonian)
ConAgra Lamb Weston expands at Boardman (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Attack on secretary state web site from Asia (Portland Oregonian)
PERS court battle continues (Salem Statesman Journal)

ConAgra expands Boardman plant, fries line (Kennewick Herald)
Columbia Reach center opens at Richland (Kennewick Herald)
Army may cut 16,000 at Lewis-McChord (Longview News)
WA adoptees get more access to birth records (Seattle Times)
Bee specialists hopeful of rebound (Seattle Times)
Tacoma Narrows bridge toll rises again (Tacoma News Tribune)
SW Washington rail still below normal (Vancouver Columbian)
Derailment of rail tank carrying asphalt (Vancouver Columbian)
Union Gap pays nearly $1m to former employee (Yakima Herald Republic)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

New mental health crisis operation in IF (IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal)
Engineering firm Fluor opens IF office (IF Post Register)
Lewiston urban renewal cuts back on projects (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho GOP has just Peterson left (Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Will McCleary lead to state fund cuts to counties? (Moscow News)
UI students, not security, will have guns (Moscow News)
Idahoans are heavy wine drinkers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Neighbors blast property owner's junk (Nampa Press Tribune)
Light foot militia meets at TF (TF Times News)

Counties go after tax non-payers (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene school chief departure a suprises some (Eugene Register Guard)
KF merger on public safety services possible (KF Herald & News)
New BBQ place in Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Medford still reviews penalties for dog owners (Medford Tribune)
Fed regulators respond to senators on oil trains (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Morrow County Courthouse gets dome back (Pendleton E Oregonian)
OR secretary state site hacked from Asia? (Portland Oregonian)
Petitions for legal pot initiative placed (Portland Oregonian)
Bee die-off leads to pesticide bans (Salem Statesman Journal)

Pot sales tax sets up in Black Diamond (Everett Herald)
Half-million donated for ridge trail effort (Kennewick Herald)
Drinking water study approved at Longview (Longview News)
WA high court reviews SeaTac minimum wage rule (Longview News)
Russell Investments sold to British firm (Seattle Times)
Salaries holding even in Spokane schools (Spokane Spokesman)
Lewis-McChord may face troop reductions (Tacoma News Tribune)
Court will decide rights in psychiatric boarding (Tacoma News Tribune)
Diminishing car thefts in Yakima area (Yakima Herald Republic)