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Posts published in July 2014

The new press secretary

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

“WHAT? Dan Popkey is going to work for Raul Labrador?”

That was the typical reaction when Popkey, the face of the Idaho Statesman, announced that he was leaving to accept the position as Labrador’s press secretary. Popkey, the most talented political writer in the state, will now be in charge of defending Labrador’s tea party positions and organizing photo-ops with the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

The move seems strange, given the fact that Labrador seemingly has gone through more press secretaries than toilet paper in his four years in office. But I can understand Popkey’s thinking. At 55, he was stuck in a high-stress job that was going nowhere.

I’ve seen him tied up in knots, and that’s hell on a person’s blood pressure over time. I’ve seen him at meaningless governor’s photo-op ceremonies, just so he could ask Otter one question without going through the spin doctors. He’s working in an environment that it common to so many newspapers, where layoffs and unpaid furloughs are a way of life. Just about everybody who works for a newspaper these days – any newspaper – is being asked to do more with fewer resources, and Popkey was no exception.

With Labrador, Popkey can work at a more manageable pace and have a better sense of job security. There’s always a chance that Labrador will run for the Senate, or governor’s office, but my guess is he won’t go for those unless he’s sure he can win. In the meantime, Labrador has a safe seat and the national media loves him. He could stay in Congress for as long as Popkey wants to work.

“It’s bittersweet to leave journalism, my first love, but I’m thrilled with the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned to help advance our state’s priorities in Washington,” Popkey said in a statement.

Actually, it won’t work that way at all. Popkey’s job – in fact, his only job – is to serve a congressman who has a strong will, even stronger convictions and an ego the size of Texas. This is no criticism of Labrador. From the beginning, he has known where he is going and how to get there. (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)

Rapid decline among aspen trees (IF Post Register)
IF council, mayor at odds over budget (IF Post Register)
Port of Lewiston not expecting coal shipments (Lewiston Tribune)
Corrections dials down complaints with CCA (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon Co animal shelter policies questioned (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon jail labor detail work halted (Nampa Press Tribune)
Dick's sporting goods coming to Twin Falls (TF Times News)
Considering wolf control on conservation lands (TF Times News)

Whole Foods finally comes to Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Visions develop for EWEB riverside site (Eugene Register Guard)
Debating how much money legal pot could make (KF Herald & News)
New wildfires erupt (Medford Tribune)
Improving picture at PERS balance sheet (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Smart speed limit signs on urban freeway (Portland Oregonian)
Criminal defense lawyers for former Cover Oregon (Portland Oregonian)

Ferry breakdown still unexplained (Bremerton Sun)
Manchester project may still be blocked (Bremerton Sun)
Corporate ownership of Kitsap Sun changes (Bremerton Sun)
Courthouse planning group changes (Everett Herald)
Hot summer has helps area crops (Kennewick Herald)
DOE plan hoped to help groundwater contamination (Kennewick Herald)
Backers of PUD recall have to pay legal costs (Longview News)
Boeing will build Dreamline in South Carolina (Longview News)
Seattle VA wait times were manipulated (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Pam Roach in hot primary contest (Seattle Times)
Tacoma pot store to open this week (Tacoma News Tribune)

On the dark side

frazier DAVID


Just yesterday a group of political has-beens and news junkies were chatting over coffee bemoaning the state of local journalism.

“Popkey still has some pretty good sources. He is pretty much the go-to-guy at the Statesman if you want something printed,” said one of the old-time news guys. He added, “He has a list of stories to write, so he is never out of material.”

Well…so much for that! Dan Popkey has fled the sinking news ship fleet and like most of his fellow sailors, he will begin slurping at the public trough (of U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador) where the rations are much richer than the private sector. Popkey, 55, has spent most of his adult life at the Statesman, nearly 30 years.

We wish him well and offer a heartfelt “thanks” for exposing so many inside stories about Idaho politicos while covering Idaho politics. It saddens us to think he is now one of them. Not a real surprise since most of the AP staffers and former Statesman capitol writers have ended up sucking the government teat.

Since the first of the year we have seen the Associated Press lose Todd Dvorak to the Idaho Attorney General PR machine, fellow AP staffer John Miller left the country to do PR work in Switzerland, and now Popkey has joined the darling of TV’s Meet The PRess, Rep. Raul Labrador.

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)

Court says Peterson's out, party will meet (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Boise business BookLamp bought by Apple (Boise Statesman)
Reduced number of sex crimes reported in Idaho (IF Post Register)
Lewiston port gets fiber optic line (Lewiton Tribune)
Nampa building ramps up, almost doubling 2013 (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big growth at Greenleaf Friends Academy (Nampa Press Tribune)
Blackfoot mayor mulls covering expenses (Pocatello Journal)
Court backs Blaine in records denial to CNN (TF Times News)
State land managers seeking policy input (TF Times News)

Eye testing now required in Oregon schools (Eugene Register Guard)
Salmon hit by drought conditions (KF Herald & News)
Muslin charity pleads guilty on tax charges (Ashland Tidings)
Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings launch new web site (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Two Medford council veterans depart (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston charter may revise office terms (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Delegation seeks funds for Columbian cleanup (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Review of east Portland's political weakness (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap prosecutor race draws varying support (Bremerton Sun)
Some logging planned in central Kitsap park (Bremerton Sun)
Park and ride planned for Mukilteo (Everett Herald)
Cowlitz, Wahkiakum end pot business bans (Longview News)
New park developing in western Olympia (Olympian)
First pot business approved for Olympia (Olympian)
Olypnia Natl Park chalet moved away from river (Port Angeles News)
Windfall in Sequim sewage fund (Port Angeles News)
Amgen, Puget's largest biotech firm, to close (Seattle Times)
Top Seattle health leader quits (Seattle Times)
Tacoma citizen group okays Amtrak plan (Tacoma News Tribune)
Pierce Council writes 'In God We Trust' on wall (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co voters will vote on bridge in November (Vancouver Columbian)
Legislator home burglary points up phone law need (Vancouver Columbian)

Idaho Falls tea leaves

carlson CHRIS


In politics there are rarely coincidences. Additionally, sometimes an event occurs which one can read much more into than just the surface appearance. It becomes a telltale indicator of something more significant than one at first glance would think.

One of these “more than meet the eyes” events happened in Idaho Falls on the evening of the 4th of July and went largely unnoticed by what Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz calls the “chattering class”---the political pundits and commentators.

Multi-millionaire and Melaleuca founder Frank Vandersloot sponsors a well attended 4th of July fireworks show. Its his way of showing his patriotism as well as his appreciation for “the shining city on the hill” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently once put it when describing the still greatest country on the earth.

Vandersloot is justly proud of this event and he often has a special guest. His guest this year not surprisingly was an Idaho gubernatorial candidate. What was surprising was that the guest was neither Tea Party endorsed State Senator Russ Fulcher nor was it incumbent Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. It was none other than the Democratic nominee, Boise businessman A.J. Bulakoff.

The “chattering class” as well as the general voting public ought to sit up and take notice for this could portend more than Vandersloot just covering himself in case Bulakoff pulls off the upset. It could signal that the traditional Republican Latter Day Saint vote is starting a seismic shift away from the incumbent governor.

There is no question that most LDS voters mark their ballots for the Republican candidates, and in the past some Democratic strategists have made the mistake of assuming that Mormon voters would go for a Mormon Democrat in good standing over a non-Mormon Republican.

Otter himself disproved this gambit four years ago in dispatching Mormon gubernatorial nominee Keith Allred, as did then Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne when he won a race for a U.S. Senate seat by defeating Second District Congressman Richard Stallings.

A. J. Bulakoff though just may be an exception to this general rule that LDS voters vote party first and their religion second. While he is smart enough not to wear his religion on his sleeve, nor ever even to make a pitch to voters based on a common held set of beliefs, it is well known among the LDS community that he is a Saint in good standing, has the so-called “temple pass,” is a graduate of the “Y” (Brigham Young University in Provo), has a large and loving family, and is happily maried to Susie Skaggs, one of the heirs to the Skaggs Drugstore chain.

Additionally, A.J. is a largely self-made multi-millionaire who, like Vandersloot, has enjoyed considerable success in the business world.
Vandersloot is nobody’s fool and has adroitly played the political game for years. He recognizes that public policy is all about politics, whether local, state, or national. Thus, he takes an interest in races from local judgeships to presidential elections. (more…)

As an example

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Don’t look at me to handicap the Miss America Pageant in September. I do a lousy enough job picking winners of sporting events and political elections and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Miss America Pageant.

I will make an exception this year and make a point to watch the competition on television on Sept. 14. And I will go out on a limb and say that Miss Idaho, Sierra Anne Sandison of Twin Falls, has a decent shot at winning. No, she does not hail from the South, or Midwest, which produce long lines of past winners. A Miss Idaho has never won. But Sierra has something that few others have – a compelling story. And all she had to do was walk on stage during the swimsuit competition of the Miss Idaho Pageant with an insulin pump attached to her side.

BOOM! The social media exploded with a photo of this gorgeous 20-year-old woman confidently walking with her beautiful smile and perfect body. Her insulin pump suddenly became a fashion statement and she has encouraged others to “Show Your Pump.” Sierra has become an inspiration to 26 million people living in the United States who have diabetes and the nearly 80 million people who have pre-diabetes. She is proof that diabetes can be managed, the harmful effects can be reversed and diabetes does not stop people from living their dreams. The late Ron Santo, a Hall of Fame baseball player, had the disease and Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler has it.

I, too, am living proof that diabetes is manageable – although I’m no match to Sierra in terms of beauty, grace and charm. Better management has allowed me to overcome blindness and open-heart surgery and keep a mild case of kidney disease in check. I’m 64 years old and never felt better. 
I enjoy hearing stories about people overcoming obstacles such as diabetes, so I was bowled over by Sierra’s story about winning the Miss Idaho Pageant and I’m sure many other people were, too. (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)

Idaho 16 extension opens August 15 (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Power, others moving into solar power (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston chief may be Asotin interim sheriff (Lewiston Tribune)
Ringo calls for raising the minimum wage (Lewiston Tribune)
Boise Co-op opens Nampa location (Nampa Press Tribune)
NNU library to open in October (Nampa Press Tribune)
Departments in Canyon County seek expansions (Nampa Press Tribune)
Research accelerators okayed for ISU (Pocatello Journal)

New fires after Beatty's contained (KF Herald & News)
Eugene council okays rule on sick leave (Eugene Register Guard)
Mt Ashland regroups after 'disastrous' winter (Medford Tribune)
Ashland home prices rising (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton library struggles with budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
$100 million gift sent to OHSU cancer center (Portland Oregonian)
Medicaid expansion hasn't expanded doctors (Portland Oregonian)
PERS finances reported on stabler ground (Salem Statesman Journal)

Shellfish at Port Gamble found clean (Bremerton Sun)
Bethel Junction, Port Orchard, shopping center sold (Bremerton Sun)
Legislator considers bill to let police ping (Everett Herald)
Being employment falls by 20k since 90s (Everett Herald)
Boardman coal power plant use in decline (Kennewick Herald)
Protesters target animal rules in Forks (Port Angeles News)
Unified business group may fall apart (Port Angeles News)
Is there board-staff conflict at Seattle schools? (Seattle Times)
Will Spokane's new downtown hotel draw? (Spokane Spokesman)
Riverfront bond issue at Spokane hits ballot (Spokane Spokesman)
Why is 'In God We Trust' on Pierce agenda? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Little Vancouver backing for new bridge plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot smoking tent illegal but shutdown unlikely (Vancouver Columbian)

In this week’s Briefings

tolo bridge

Spanning Interstate 5 north of Central Point, the 58-year old Tolo Road Bridge (milepost 36) will undergo repairs, which requires a six-week closure to traffic beginning Monday, July 28. Local traffic will use Willow Springs Road as a detour. The Tolo Road Bridge is being repaired to extend its life and prevent it from being load-limited. The Tolo Road Bridge rehabilitation is part of the same project that is repaving I-5 from Rock Point (exit 43) to Evans Creek (MP 49). Knife River of Central Point is the prime contractor. . (photo/Department of Transportation)

Check out this week's list of wildfires around Oregon – a list nearly as long as the list of wildfires all across the country. The saving grace is that none of them were of the enormous size (none anywhere close to as large as Washington's Carlton Complex) but they add up to a lot.
Fire was an even bigger story in Washington, where the Carlton Complex turned into the biggest single fire in the state's history.
And fire season still is early.

The drones of TVW

idaho RANDY

TVW is one of Washington's marvels – the closest equivalent to CSPAN the Northwest has.
CSPAN is so rigorously neutral that it could be taken for a government operation, although it – like TVW – is actually a nonprofit that simply watches government very closely, televising legislative hearings, official events, interview programs and so on.
That it isn't actually a part of government comes up every so often, such as when it sought to stream action on the floor of Congress (there was a dustup over that). And now TVW has a dustup of a structurally related sort.
Earlier this year the Washington Legislature tried to get a handle on regulating the use of drones in Washington air space, specifically restricting their use by government agencies. Governor Jay Inslee vetoed the measure, apparently less out of broad philosophical disagreement but because he wanted an independent group, a task force, to take a run at it. In the meantime he issued an order to state agencies: No drones for now.
TVW has latched on to the subject and wanted to do a program about drone policy. That wasn't a problem, but this was: It wanted to launch a drone and send it around the statehouse, maybe to give a sense of what they're like and what they're capable of. An Olympian article said that after reporter Christina Salerno, a state Department of Enterprise Services official responded, “While we can appreciate your desire to fly a quadcopter—a drone—around the Capitol Building and the campus, we are denying your request. The reasons include our concern that the use of this device for filming the campus may violate the privacy of tenants and visitors as well as posing an unnecessary public safety risk for those who may be below its flight path. Additionally, we believe this activity could unreasonably disrupt normal conduct of state business.”
For now, that can be attributed simply to wariness, and uncertainty about the implications of seemingly small current actions. But as policies get hammered out in the months and years to come, we may be seeing a lot more drones and a lot more requests that may be harder to comfortably deny. And from organizations not nearly as normally plugged in as TVW.