Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 29, 2008

2007: The Year of the Corridor

Well, the votes are in and the results have been tabulated. A whopping 128 Palousitics readers weighed in on what they considered to be the top Pullman news story for 2007.

Based on the fact that three out of the top five stories concerned the past (Fred Russell found guilty), present (widening of SR 270) and future (Moscow appeals stall Hawkins development) of the Pullman-Moscow corridor, I hereby declare 2007 the "Year of the Corridor."

Here they are, your Top 10 Pullman news stories for 2007:

1. Fred Russell found guilty - 35.16%

Six years later and 300 miles away, Fred Russell, Whitman County's Most Wanted, finally faced justice for a horiffic crash that killed three WSU students and injured several others.

2. Resurgence of WSU men's basketball - 10.94%

Wake up the Cougar hardwood ghosts. Friel. Harshman. Heathcote. Raveling. In his first year, head coach Tony Bennett guided the Cougar men's basketball team to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994 and first tournament win since 1982. After the magical 2006-2007 season, Bennett garnered more national coaching awards than any other PAC-10 coach since the legendary John Wooden in 1972, being named PAC-10 Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year by numerous organizations and media outlets.

3. Islamofascism Awareness Week at WSU - 9.38%

Hard to believe it's just been six years since 9/11. The WSU College Republicans were faced with threats of facing the "fury of progressive voices for tolerance on the Palouse" for screening a film that actually reminded people that there are some radical Muslims out there that crash planes into buildings, cut people's heads off and blow up subway trains. Overall though, the usual suspects behaved themselves and nobody ended up on "Hannity & Colmes."

4. Moscow appeals stall Hawkins development - 8.59%

Different dreams. The struggle between competing visions for the Palouse, eco-communalism vs. stopping retail sales leakage, seemed to be epitomized by the struggle over the proposed 700,000 square foot shopping mall being developed by the Hawkins Companies of Boise on the Washingon side of the state line. Whitman County officals worked hard to bring the project to fruition, but Mayor Nancy Chaney fought Hakwins to a standstill with appeals of water rights transfers approved by the Department of Ecology. However, the November city council election in Moscow brought a dramatic change to the political landscape...

5. Moscow-Pullman highway expanded - 7.03%

Prompted in part by the 2001 accident for which Fred Russell was found guilty of three counts of vehicular manslaughter, the Washington State Department of Transportation finally completed the oft-delayed widening of SR 270 between Pullman and Moscow, thus greatly enhancing safety, and eventually commerce, on the six mile stretch of road.

6. Five arsons in one morning - 6.25%

Pullman residents awakened on the morning of November 15 to find that a serial arsonist was on a rampage, setting fire to two garages, a vehicle, a duplex, and an apartment building within the space of two hours. Luckily, no one was killed. At this date, police still have no suspect in the case.

7. Weller upsets Sorensen in City Council race - 5.47%

"Every vote counts." You always hear it, but November's Pullman City Council election proved the old adage to be true. 26-year old underdog Nathan Weller unseated incumbent City Councilman Al Sorensen in Ward 2 by a scant 10 votes, which prompted a recount by Sorensen.

8. (tie) WSU football coaching changes; Doba out, Wulff in - 3.91%

A triumphant 2003 Holiday Bowl win over future national champs Texas and three Apple Cup victories couldn't save WSU head football coach Bill Doba's job. Many felt that Doba had squandered opportunities for greatness after having WSU's all-time leading passer (Alex Brink) and a running back who led the NCAA in rushing in 2005 (Jerome Harrison) on the roster. After Doba "resigned," he was replaced by former Coug football player and Eastern Washington head coach, Paul Wulff.

8. (tie) Costly stormwater requirements imposed by state - 3.91%

There aren't any salmon in the Palouse River watershed, and never have been, thanks to Palouse Falls. But that didn't stop the Washington Department of Ecology from imposing a gigantic unfunded mandate on the city of Pullman. In order to have stormwater runoff that is almost fit to drink, it is going to cost the city (and you the taxpayer) millions of dollars. Pullman and several other eastern Washington cities are appealing the decision.

8. (tie) Elson Floyd takes helm at WSU - 3.91%

Elson Floyd, who took over as the 10th WSU president, is the first African-American to hold the position. Floyd came in and immediately made an impact, proposing some controversial reallocation of resources and dismissing some long-term employees.

"Pullman commission recommends parking changes; Developments with 10 or more units will require per-unit parking spaces"

Kudos to the Pullman Planning Commission for what I think is a very reasonable solution to a thorny problem. Despite what local "smart growth" advocates may claim, downtown Pullman is not geographically suitable for large-scale commercial or retail development. The commission's proposal still encourages modest development. And you need look no further than River Park Square in Spokane to see how risky a parking garage can be. I'm very leery of that idea.

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Pullman Planning Commission says developers who build residential units in the downtown area should be required to provide parking for tenants.

In a special meeting Wednesday, the commission compiled a list of recommendations for the Pullman City Council to consider to combat perceived parking issues downtown. The most controversial item is a suggested zoning change that would require one parking stall per unit when 10 or more dwelling units are proposed for a property.

Commission Chairman Steve Garl said the 10-unit cap is recommended to allow for smaller residential projects, but set consequences for larger developments that may be “out of scale” for the downtown area.

The suggestions will be presented to the council for consideration March 4.

The downtown area — bordered roughly by State Street to the west, Spring Street to the east, Whitman Street to the north and McKenzie Street to the south — is the city’s central business zone. Parking currently is not mandated with downtown development, even if the proposed development includes living space — an issue some have said creates competition for spots between downtown retail customers and residents.

The commission followed recommendations drafted by Planning Director Pete Dickinson on Wednesday and decided that in instances when parking space is necessary, developers must choose from a list of options to fulfill the requirement. Options include providing on-site parking at one space per unit; providing off-site parking within 500 feet of the property through purchase or lease of spaces; a fee payment to the city to be used for future downtown parking improvement projects; or designated spaces within public parking lots, if such an arrangement is approved by the City Council.

If an existing structure is slated to be fully or partially demolished to provide parking space, the developer would need a conditional use permit issued by the board of adjustment to enforce design standards.

The commission also recommended city off-street parking lots be reviewed in regard to time limits and accessibility. Research regarding the feasibility of a parking structure, the possible creation of a permit process for downtown employees and consistent enforcement of parking time limits also are recommended.

“I think we have clearly made a case — over and over again — on the issue of enforcement,” Garl said. More parking patrols could make a significant improvement in downtown parking.

A 50-unit mixed-use development — proposed for the intersection of Paradise and High streets in early 2007 — spawned discussions regarding parking downtown. The proposal, submitted by Paradise Downtown, LLC and H and R Development, LLC, was opposed by neighbors because of potential effects to the Pioneer Hill neighborhood and area parking. H and R Development eventually withdrew its conditional use permit application.

Since then, stakeholders including area residents, developers and business owners have met regularly at commission meetings to discuss the subject and public comment has dominated nearly every meeting.

In November, the City Council was presented with broad recommendations from the commission, which included the possibility of a downtown residential parking permit program, and increased enforcement to discourage long-term parking. The council sent the commission back to the drawing board to conceive more fine-tuned recommendations by March. The council specifically wanted an opinion on whether off-street parking spaces should be required for residential projects downtown.

Rich Scott, a High Street resident, said the commission’s recommendations could keep downtown tenants’ vehicles from commandeering his neighborhood. But he still has reservations, since he would have liked to see a requirement of one parking spot per unit, regardless of the development’s size.

“I walk away with a sense that I’m not really sure if I didn’t communicate our concerns or if they didn’t hear,” he said. “Zero to 10 (units) with no requirement is of some concern to me.”

Scott said he hopes the city pursues more long-term issues, such as researching the possibility of a downtown parking structure.

“I really like that idea,” he said. “I think it’s a very viable option.”

No Doesn't Mean No to the Democrats

UPDATED: Thanks to April for pointing out the news article. You can find the link in the comments section. It turns out that this bill has died due to the public input! I guess some Democrats do listen, too bad, we have to be constantly vigilant of them so they don't slip this crud past us. I guess if they really listened we would not have even seen this ill proposed. -- Scotty

No doesn't mean no when you're a West-side Democrat. Some years ago the people of Washington didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars each year for licensing tabs. So we now pay thirty bucks. But these Democrats: Rodney Tom - Bellevue/Redmond area, Jeanne Kohl-Welles - Seattle area, Craig Pridemore - Vancouver area, Karen Keiser - Kent/SeaTac area, Adam Kline - Seattle area have sponsored a bill that will add a "fee" not a tax onto your car based not on price, but engine size. The larger the engine the more it will cost. For my 1980 Toyota I will be paying around $100 a year. For my Dodge I will be paying around $360 a year.

Then in 2012 the new fee will go away to be replaced with a CO2 emissions "fee". But when you are compelled to pay something by the government, I would consider it a tax. Plain and simple.

I find it strange someone from Vancouver would support this. When you make someone pay $400 a year again for licensing tabs, he will again go to Oregon to get licensed. Those in this part of the state people will probably start licensing in Idaho again.

The money is supposed to go to "transportation" purposes only, but that is not clarified. So, I would guess, using other measures as a reference point, more than 1/2 of this money will go to putting mass transit in the Puget Sound region.

But the bottom line is that we, the citizens of Washington spoke. But the Democrats just don't listen.

See it for yourself:

Senate Bill 6900

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beyond (Liberal) Borders

Note to Harry Reid: If you've lost Hollywood liberalati Angelina Jolie, you've lost the country.

Jolie, an ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, had an op-ed published in today's Washington Post stating that the surge has worked and that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq to help the millions of displaced persons.

Rossi Response to WEA Smear Campaign

Dino Rossi Must Scare the Living Hell Out of the Democrats

Because they have started to drag the teachers and kids into the race, and its only February. Listen to the WEA radio ad here.

Mike Huckabee Washington Caucuses Follow-up

I just finished a blogger conference call with GOP presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee. Since there has been no media coverage of it in the last few weeks, I asked the Governor if he had any follow-up for Washington voters of the caucuses fiasco a few weeks ago and his subsequent investigation.

Governor Huckabee told me that his lawyers looked into the matter and found nothing actionable enough to justify a lengthy and expensive legal challenge, especially when it was doubtful it would have changed the results. Huckabee made it very clear that he was not alleging any wrongdoing on anyone's part.

However, he mentioned that there were irregularities in the counting (Snohomish, Benton, Grant, and Jefferson Counties all sent in caucus attendee presidential preferences versus the number of delegates elected) and that should be concerning, both to his campaign and members of the WSRP.

Mike was also very disappointed in the decision by the Washington State Republican Party to announce a winner in the caucuses that night with the race so close and counting stopped at 87%. In politics, the narrative and the momentum it creates is everything, and Huckabee had already won 2 other states that Saturday (Kansas and Louisiana.) Announcing a win for McCain in Washington before many felt the results were certain disrupted that. The Governor urged us Republicans in the Evergreen State to hold our leadership accountable, and that is certainly what I intend to do.

Governor Huckabee concluded by thanking us for our hard work and support even though the state campaign had very limited resources. He is still in the race and is headed to Texas today to campaign with Chuck Norris and former Dallas Cowboy Cliff Harris.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Era of the Blob Brings Us Global Warming!

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," ~ George Santayana

What we really need to cool off the world is a good old fashioned nuclear war.

Hat tip: tomnelson.blogspot.com

Sixteen Foot Python Eats Family Dog

Will this will be our future, unless we junk our SUV's?

A 16-foot python stalked a family dog for days before swallowing the pet whole in front of horrified children in the Australian tropics, animal experts said Wednesday.

The boy and girl, ages 5 and 7, watched as the scrub python devoured their silky terrier-Chihuahua crossbreed Monday at their home near Kuranda in Queensland state.

Stuart Douglas, owner of the Australian Venom Zoo in Kuranda, said scrub pythons typically eat wild animals such as wallabies, a smaller relative of the kangaroo, but sometimes turn to pets in urban areas.

"It actively stalked the dog for a number of days," Douglas said.

"The family that owned the dog had actually seen it in the dog's bed, which was a sign it was out to get it," he added.

"They should have called me then, but (the snake) got away and three or four days later, I was called and went around and removed it" after the dog had been killed, Douglas said.

By the time Douglas arrived, all that could be seen of the dog was its hind legs and tail.

The zoo manager, Todd Rose, said pythons squeeze their prey to death before swallowing it whole. The 5-year-old dog would have been suffocated within minutes.

"The lady who was there threw some plastic chairs at the snake, but you've got to remember that this is about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of aggressive muscle," Rose said.

Removing the half-swallowed dog could have harmed or even killed the python, Rose said, because dogs have sharp teeth and claws that could do the snake internal damage if it were wrenched out.

The snake was still digesting the dog at the zoo Wednesday. It will soon be relocated to the bush, Douglas said.

Yet Another Smoking Gun

Still unconvinced that PARD's appeals are being bankrolled by the United Food and Commerical Workers union? Look no further than Tumwater over in Thurston County.

From yesterday's Olympian:
Groups appeal proposal for store

TUMWATER — Opponents of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter have appealed the matter to Thurston County Superior Court.

The appeals challenge a Feb. 5 ruling by the City Council and were filed at the end of the workday Tuesday. They were filed by Tumwater Liveable Community, a citizens group, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 367, said Roger Gellenbeck, the city's development services director.

The groups argue that the environmental review for the 187,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, proposed for a 21-acre tract at 5900 Littlerock Road S.W., was inadequate to protect the quality of life for residents.

The groups' appeal to the council was denied Feb. 5, upholding a Dec. 19 ruling by the city hearing examiner.

"We'll take a look at what they said, but this was expected," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jennifer Spall said late Tuesday.

Spokespeople for the appellants could not be reached.

Spall said the appeal of the Tumwater store was one of two in Washington to reach the superior court level. Arguments on a proposed store in Pullman were heard in superior court in December, and a decision on that case has not been issued, she said.
That's not completely accurate. The appeals were heard in the superior court in October 2006. It was the appellate court that heard the appeal in December.

So what do PARD and Tumwater Liveable Community have in common besides a long losing streak when it comes to Wal-Mart appeals? They both are being represented by Bricklin Newman Dold LLC. The similarities are scary. Partner Claudia Newman, on behalf of TLC and the UFCW, had Dr. Phillip King, former chair of the Economics Department at San Francisco State University attempt to debunk an economic impact study by Johnson Gardner, the same firm that conducted the Pullman Wal-Mart EIS. Dr. King was the guy PARD tried to have appear at the appeal hearing back in January 2006, but it fell through. Obviously, the UFCW has Bricklin Newman Dold and Dr. King on retainer to appeal every new Wal-Mart in the state of Washington using the same script every time.

The only difference is that TLC proudly embraces its union brothers in the fight against the evil Wal-Mart, while PARD cowardly issues denial after denial long after the connection became obvious.

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Mike's Book Club

I'm certain that you will all join me in rushing out to buy Ed Begley's new book.

Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life (Paperback)


Shouldn't Ed Begley stick to tree friendly e-books?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Global Warming Fear Mongers: Oh, H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!

Michael Asher at Daily Tech reports that temperature monitors are reporting widescale global cooling. In fact, the drop in worldwide temperatures over the last 12 months has wiped out a century of warming.

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

Let's hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans -- and most of the crops and animals we depend on -- prefer a temperature closer to 70.

Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

Won't it be deliciously ironic if the only thing that saves us from the ravages of a new Ice Age are the people driving their big-ass SUVs while eating Quarter Pounders on the way to the sprawl-malls to buy their cheap Chinese crap? God does have a sense of humor.

Sour Grapes Redux

Citizen Ament and his ponytail provided yet another angry and churlish reminder today of why he finished dead last in last November's Moscow City Council election.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
An economic assault on Moscow

When I took my seat on the Moscow City Council the Hawkins development was an inevitability.

By the end of my term [i.e., when the voters booted him out - tf] Hawkins was a possibility, nothing more. I took it for granted that it was my responsibility as an elected official to protect the natural resources and economic health of Moscow. [Obviously the voters disagreed - tf] The Hawkins development will be detrimental to both.

The possibility of the Hawkins project was so remote that without financial assistance the project would not move forward. Whitman County made the same bad decision that many other government entities have made - to offer financial incentives to lure new business. [That's why we're getting Hawkins and Home Depot ditched Moscow - tf] Then our Greater Moscow Alliance-dominated Moscow City Council went to work. I knew these guys had a business-first philosophy. I naively thought they meant Moscow business. Our GMA City Council made the Hawkins development a surety.

Moscow sits atop a resource that is in scarce supply worldwide - pure, clean, unpolluted water. We have yet to work out our own water issues. We need to carefully consider each new burden we place on our water supply. Our GMA City Council sees no need to conserve our water.

Our GMA City Council allocated our water to ensure growth in Whitman County. I am not opposed to growth in Whitman County. I believe we need a healthy region to have a healthy city. Placement by Whitman County of a "big-box village" right next to Moscow, miles from needed Whitman County utilities, is growth I can not support. The Hawkins development is nothing less than an economic assault on Moscow.

The GMA City Council voted against Moscow business and for squandering our resources. Thanks to our GMA City Council, Whitman County will be building infrastructure "in Moscow" that will ship our resources out, their waste in.

Aaron Ament, Moscow
WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! You had your shot and voters overwhelmingly rejected your point of view. Get a life.

"Fritz Hughes ready to leave second career behind; Pullman Chamber executive director to retire June 30"

Fritz, my friend, you will be deeply missed on the Chamber. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Fritz Hughes has retired before.

In 1999, he stepped down as principal of Sunnyside Elementary School following more than 30 years of work in Washington schools. Less than two months later, he'd found a second career as executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce.

This time around, Hughes insists he's ready to slow down. The 66-year-old will retire from his chamber position June 30 after nine years of welcoming visitors and potential residents to Pullman.

"I have no big plans to go to the moon or invent anything in retirement. It's just time to go," he said with a smile. "Then again, I didn't have any big plans to come to the chamber when I left the school system."

Hughes and his wife, Mary, moved to Pullman from Spokane in 1976, when he accepted a position as principal at Pullman's Edison Elementary School, which no longer exists. The Washington State University graduate went on to serve as principal at Franklin Elementary School before moving to Sunnyside.

He then was recruited for the chamber position.

Hughes said he considered the option, noting that his time as a school administrator gave him a leadership background, knowledge of fiscal matters and established relationships with people throughout the Pullman community.

"I figured I would just be working with taller people instead of the little short ones (kids), so I thought I would be up for the challenge," he said, chuckling.

The first event Hughes helped organize as chamber director was the national Lentil Festival. He jokes that his experience organizing elementary school carnivals helped to prepare him for the festival - which in 1999 featured the several-hundred gallon vat of chili for the first time.

"It was a new adventure," he said. "It was wonderful."

Hughes said he is proud of what the festival has become. Last year, it attracted about 24,000 visitors and 90 vendors.

"It's gone from a lentil festival to a national lentil festival," he said.

In his nearly 10 years with the chamber, Hughes said his major accomplishments include the chamber's involved board of directors and strong membership of more than 400 local businesses. The chamber - which once had to take out loans to pay its employees - now has a fiscally sound bankbook, owns its Grand Avenue office building and is more involved than ever with activity in Olympia that may affect business in Pullman.

Hughes said relations between the chamber and Pullman, Whitman County and Washington State University also have improved.

"Now I think we all have a common goal and direction," he said. "I think we're looking for good, planned growth in the community. We're trying to make this a better community ... I think I'm walking away at a time when things are going very well with the chamber."

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson said Hughes has done wonders with what was once a struggling chamber of commerce. Johnson applauds Hughes' efforts to attract new retail businesses to the area and create a strong community.

"We have a great product in Pullman and ... he's joined us in selling that," he said.

"Fritz is just a great ambassador for this community," Johnson added. "I know he wants to step down - and he certainly deserves to - but I think we'd all like to see him around for years to come. We're so grateful to have him."

Hughes looks forward to spending more time with his wife, who retired last year from the Pullman School District. He'll also get in a little traveling and plans to visit with his two grown sons and grandchild more often. He may even learn to fly fish.

One thing is for sure: Hughes plans to remain involved in the community, through his roles in local organizations such as the Pullman Education Foundation Board.

Hughes also sat on the Washington State Chamber of Commerce Executives for six years until he became president for the year 2006. In 2007, he was honored into the United Way of Pullman Red Feather Society for his dedication to the community.

"I love the community and would not leave," he said. "I think it's very important to stay involved in the community. It keeps you young. It keeps you motivated to do things."

Johnson joked that Hughes will find a third career.

"He will retire for a few months and then he will get very bored and want to get active again and we'll find a place for him," he said.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Faces Another Opponent This Fall

Speaking of political opponents, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, our 5th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, has picked up another Democratic opponent for this fall's election. This time, the sacrificial lamb is Spokane psychologist and attorney Mark Mays. God knows they need a good shrink on Capitol Hill, but I'm sure Mays will get thrashed as badly as millionaire hotelier Don "Dam Buster" Barbieri, who attended May's campaign kickoff event in Spokane.

"Tekoa’s Rick Squibb plans to again challenge Partch"

Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch will have an opponent again in the Republican primary this August. For reasons I have stated earlier, I have to disagree with Rick Squibb's platform of criticizing efforts to develop the Pullman-Moscow corridor. Whitman County has limited financial resources and must concentrate them where they will have the most impact: in the corridor. For that reason, I give my strongest endorsement to Commissioner Greg Partch.

From last Thursday's Whitman County Gazette:
Tekoa truck driver Rick Squibb announced Monday he will challenge incumbent Greg Partch, R-Garfield, in the Republican primary for the District 2 Whitman County Commissioner seat this fall.

Squibb, 48, served as mayor of Tekoa from September of 2000 to October 2002, and was on the city council off and on from 1989 to 2000.

Squibb also challenged Partch in 2004 when the Garfield incumbent ran for a second term.

Squibb received 31 percent of the vote in the Republican primary election that year.

Squibb pointed to efforts to drive Tekoa’s economy as an example of what could be done for other towns throughout the county.

“That town has come a long ways. By using that example, we can work to make the whole county more vital than what it is,” he said.

He cited the Tekoa business incubator on Crosby Street, which provides a low-rent building for startup businesses to establish themselves. The incubator spawned three companies that now employ several Tekoa residents.

“If you can do that in all the small towns in the county, that could create 50-60 jobs,” he said.

He claimed that would be more beneficial to the county than a concentration of jobs in and around Pullman.

The current commissioners, he said, have focused their efforts on developing the Pullman-Moscow corridor, at the expense of the rest of the county.

“Development in Pullman is great, but not if the rest of the county is suffering for it,” he said.

With fuel prices continuing to rise, Squibb questioned the benefits of jobs in Pullman if people have to drive nearly an hour to work there.

“The Pullman-Moscow corridor is an important piece, but that doesn’t help the people of Tekoa who need jobs,” said Squibb.

He criticized the commissioners’ recent decision to bond public money to develop infrastructure that would allow the Boise-based Hawkins Companies to build a 714,000 square foot shopping center on the Idaho stateline.

“If it does work out it could be a great thing,” said Squibb. “But if it doesn’t, are the taxpayers of Whitman County on the hook for it? Why put it on the backs of the county to help out a private developer?”

He also criticized the commissioners’ withholding of county .09 economic development funds. Those dollars, withheld by the current commissioners for possible needs in the corridor, need to be distributed to other towns, he said.

“We need to get back to where the .09 funds are benefiting our towns, and not just going towards the port’s private reserves,” he said.

That is something Squibb feels the incumbent has not done.

“Greg seems to feel like he should give everything to the port, but they have their own sources of money, they can do their own thing,” he said.

Also on Squibb’s agenda is better compensation for county employees.

“They made a promise they haven’t kept,” he said. “Sure they’ve built up the county’s cash reserves, but they did it on the backs of county employees.”

He worried that, without a marked increase in pay, finding a replacement workforce when current county employees retire would be difficult.

“I worked for the county for six months, but I couldn’t survive on the pay,” he said. “No one is going to want to work for what they pay.”

A 1977 graduate of Tekoa High School, Squibb now works as a long-haul driver for Colorado-based Western Distributors. He lives in Tekoa with his wife of 13 years, Holly, and 11-year old daughter, Mandy. Squibb’s older daughter Diana, a 2005 Tekoa graduate, currently resides in Arizona.

Monday, February 25, 2008

OG: Original Gator

Alligator mississippiensis - the old school reptile from 65 million years ago; a survivor of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period that would make our current "global warming" look like a damp birthday candle.

This (6'5") Texas Fish & Game Officer ain't worried about being eaten by some wimpy Burmese Python.

HT: Uncle Bubba

"Seattle's a greedy, jealous, lustful bunch, says Forbes"

Not me. The magazine. Although I don't find it much of surprise. I mean, this is the city where a recent UW study found that land-use regulations added $200,000 to the price of a home, because "people with higher incomes want the kind of amenities that regulation provides," i.e. keeping out the unsightly underclass.

Also not surprising considering that the American Religious Identification Survey 2001 (ARIS), found that 25% of people in Washington say they have no religion at all, or call themselves atheist, agnostic or secular; the highest in the country. And the number of Washingtonians who said they attend church or synagogue once a week or almost every week according to a 2006 Gallup poll was only 32%, well below the national average of 42%. That ranks Washington 45th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in church attendance.

Snobler's List

Liberal Moscow gadfly Vera White took a gratuitous swipe at Whitman County in her column in the Daily News last Friday:
A recent posting on V2020 caught the INKster's eye, so she Googled the mentioned Web site to check it out. Earlier this month, The Progressive Farmer magazine released a list of the "Best Places to Live in Rural America." Each year, the rankings name the top-10 rural counties and profile each in the magazine. This year, Kent County, Md., was awarded top honors.

The magazine also listed the top 500 rural counties by region, and the INKster was pleased to learn some of the surrounding counties made the top 100 list in the Western Region.

Nez Perce County ranked No. 11 in Idaho, with Kootenai County No. 23 and Latah County coming in at No. 55. Asotin County in Washington ranked No. 70, but as the V2020 poster noted, "neither Whitman nor Spokane counties cracked the top 100."

As those chamber of commerce types continue to note, "things are lookin' good in the Valley."
So just what is a "Progressive Farmer" you may ask? (as well as why, since "Crime" is a ranking factor, did Latah County with a murder rate last year greater than most large U.S. cities rank as #55, but I digress.)

I read what the magazine had to say about its top rated place to live, Kent County, MD:
By all reasoning, Kent County should be covered with homes, strip malls and "farmettes." But it's not. Not anywhere close. [And Kootenai County is #23 by this standard? Go figure. - tf]

Instead, Kent County is a rare holdout in the sprawl and development in this country that clearly is out of control. Kent County maintains a culture of farming, wildlife, and small towns and villages that are relatively untouched.

For a county to be in our Best Places list, we hold them to the usual standards—good schools, health care, safety and other desirable qualities. But what makes Kent County stand out is its residents' resolve to maintain a solid rural heritage. At the foundation of that effort is farmland preservation, something that started decades ago with foresight, cooperation and some far-sighted planning.
Then it became readily apparent to me. A "Progressive Farmer" must be a wealthy, well-educated escapee from some big city that lusts after open spaces and breathtaking views and is willing to deprive the locals of their progress and property rights in order to keep it. It's just the old elitist, drawbridge mentality.

I'm frankly very happy glad Whitman County didn't make such a snobby list.

Barack Obama - One Bad Somali Elder

Nothing is better than watching Democrats play the race card on each other.

Say What?

I still don't get it. We have a Walmart 6 miles away. For some of us in Pullman, it's shorter and easier to get there than across to Safeway.
- Chuck "Mr. Civil Discourse" Pezeshki, online comment regarding the Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter at Dnews.com, December 6, 2007

So many of these decisions really benefit no one who lives here-- that's my point. They just create more sprawl, which, as gas prices go up, is really going to kill all of us five years from now.

And needless to say, no one is even beginning to look five years into the future.
- Chuck "Mr. Civil Discourse" Pezeshki, online comment regarding the Hawkins development near the Moscow Wal-Mart at Dnews.com, February 24, 2008

I still don't get it either. Liberal man speak with forked tongue.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Junk Your SUV, Or Giant Snakes Will Eat Your Children

I'm kinda surprised that Al Gore didn't think of this first.

As climate change warms the nation, giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the USA, from San Francisco across the Southwest, Texas and the South and up north along the Virginia coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey maps released Wednesday.

Of course, if giant Burmese pythons don't get you, Ma Nature will.

In the Arctic tundra of Northern Alaska, an advance team working for a petroleum exploration company is engaged in a massive project to exploit the oil resources of the pristine land.

After one crewmember is found dead, a disorientation slowly claims the sanity of the other members of the team as each of them succumbs to an unknown fear.

This creeping dread bursts open when a malevolent wind brings down a plane that approaches the station. Explosions and carnage wreak havoc on the team and all functions fail in the camp, forcing two of the members out into the cold on a desperate bid for survival. As the two journey to find help, they find themselves utterly alone in a world that is unraveling- either they are being stalked by an invisible herd of menacing phantoms, or they are going mad.

Whatever does happen to them out there... they are never heard from again.


The Last Winter will be his boldest, most explicit, most challenging film to date, dealing with man's insatiable quest for oil in the face of environmental revolt.

Be amused, be very amused.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We're On a Mission From God

This has certainly been the week for leftist hilarity, from Lois Blackburn's chum bucket to Janet Richards' four and twenty blackbirds.

Now it seems one of the local hippies has been communing with the Almighty. Was it a warning to turn away from a a life of sin and disbelief? No, it seems the Lord doesn't like shopping malls.

From the Vision 2020 message board:
If God is an omnipotent, all knowing and all good being, God does not have a problem. Only limited beings that lack the capability to comprehend such infinite capacities have a "problem." Having said that, the problem of evil, or suffering, in a universe created by "God," as it has been parsed in the history of theology and philosophy, is a subject that it is difficult to say anything new about.

There are far more opportunities to say something new about environmental sustainability, alternative energy, the problem of CO2/fossil fuel induced climate change, and the connections to these problems with the USA's out of control consumer culture, now to hit the Palouse with an inspiration to attain even higher levels of wanton consumption, with the Hawkins Mall. If someone has something new to say about the problem of suffering, or the problem of evil, given certain assumptions about a creator "God," theologically speaking, please, enlighten us.

Otherwise, perhaps we should focus on the critical problems of how humanity is to make peace with Nature, before we slide off the cliff of species extinction, ecosystem collapse, and resource depletion, as the human population keeps expanding, as we worship at the alter of materialistic consumption as the primary goal of the human race, as anthropogenic climate change portends to remake our planet into a world unrecognizable to the current generation.

The Hawkins Mall is a local focal point for these critical problems the human race is facing. And to deny this is to deny the reality of the impacts materialistic consumerism is having on the very fabric of life on our planet.

Hey, what do I know? I just read the latest science on environmental consequences of human activity and industry, and connect the dots to what we are doing here to the impacts globally. We are all a "wholly owned subsidiary" of the Earth as a living system.

I'll be long gone when we have reaped what we sow... In the meantime, yes, I am a beneficiary of the capitalist consumer culture, so to some extent, I am criticizing the hand that feeds me...

Ted Moffett
"The Hawkins Mall is a local focal point for these critical problems the human race is facing?" BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

My Response to Roger Whitten

Roger Whitten of Oakesdale has had a letter to the editor critical of the Hakwins project printed in both the Whitman County Gazette and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Here is my response that will run in the Gazette next week:
In a letter published in the Gazette last week, Roger Whitten argued that what we need is locally owned stores versus corporate owned big box stores.

The truth is that there is plenty of room for both here in Whitman County.

Because of the entrepreneurial American spirit, small business is the backbone of our economy. In fact, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse first started out as a mom-and-pop hardware store back in 1921 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Through hard work and ambition, there is now at least one Lowe’s in every state in the union.

But since the advent of national retailers such as A&P and Woolworth’s, the American consumer has turned to shopping at chain stores. And why not? Chains are familiar, a big plus in our highly mobile modern society, offer more bang for the buck to working families, and particularly in rural areas, provide a much larger range of shopping choices than would normally be available. They also help the communities in which they locate by bringing in jobs and increased tax revenue and help local retailers by bringing in customers from a wide geographic area.

If shoppers can’t get what they want here, they’ll go elsewhere. And that’s exactly what has happened. An economist at the University of Idaho found that in 2004, Whitman County, including Pullman, had a net loss of $158.4 million in taxable retail sales to neighboring communities with more chain stores such as Moscow, Clarkston, Lewiston, and Spokane. As far as any “decrease in sales tax revenue from the existing locally owned stores,” our severe lack of retail is the real culprit.

Whitten stated that, “Money spent in a corporate owned big box store leaves the county.” But that’s not true at all. Money is fungible. That means that regardless of whether it originates in a locally owned store or a corporate owned store, all money is the same. A dollar spent in a local store that goes towards sales taxes, property taxes, employee salaries and benefits, charitable donations, etc., is no more valuable than a dollar spent in a chain store.

Will the Hawkins development “suck money out of the county” as Whitten claims? Will there be “no net gain in sales tax revenue?” The answer is a resounding “NO!” According to the Department of Revenue, Whitman County, excluding Pullman, generated $30,774,961 in taxable retail sales in 2006. Estimates for the Hawkins mall, at a mere 40% build out, come in at $123,823,621 in annual taxable retail sales. That’s right. One shopping development will generate FOUR times the existing retail sales of all of rural Whitman County! That means four times as much sales tax revenue for the county (approximately $1.3 million a year). And more development near Hawkins can be expected to follow. Even though Mr. Whitten is not going to “go into debt to help large corporations,” $10 million for such a return is a slam-dunk calculation in any economic equation.

Some have questioned why the County Commissioners are placing so much emphasis (and county funds) into the area around Pullman. The answer is simple. If you only have a limited amount to invest in a stock, you’re going to pick the company that is growing the most and can give you the biggest return. Forecasts for area growth have the City of Pullman increasing its population by 24.49% between 2006 and 2025. Whitman County is only expected to grow by 9.37% during the same period. However, the sales taxes generated by development in the Pullman/Moscow corridor will be used not just in Pullman, but all over the county; from Hooper to Palouse, and from Rosalia to Uniontown.

For these reasons, we should all support the bold actions taken by our County Commissioners to stimulate economic growth. For their role in delivering the Hawkins project alone, Commissioner Jerry Finch and Commissioner Greg Partch deserve another term and have my vote.
Here is Whitten's letter:
In regard to the Hawkins shopping mall development, I wonder if the Whitman County commissioners are factoring in the decrease in sales tax revenue from the existing locally owned stores. For if a person buys a stick of lumber at a Lowe's Home Improvement store instead of buying lumber from an existing locally owned store, there is no net gain in sales tax revenue.

In fact, it would be an economic loss to the county because money that stays local recirculates locally. Money spent in a corporate-owned big-box store leaves the county.

It is the small Mom and Pop type of businesses that bring money into the county and keeps it here. The large corporate stores suck money out of the county.

If they follow the zoning codes, Hawkins has every right to build a shopping mall on its property. I, however, am not willing to go into debt to help large corporations take money out of the local economy. The county commissioner's decision to give Hawkins $10 million for the development of their own land is a miscalculation in the overall economic equation.

Corridor 3-Fer, Part 3

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Business park being considered Owner of Moscow-based STRATA asks for rezone in Pullman-Moscow corridor

The Hawkins Companies' proposed retail development could have some company near the state line if Whitman County officials approve the rezone of 15 acres of agricultural land.

Assistant County Planner Allan Thomson said Moscow resident and business owner Travis Wambeke has proposed rezoning the land as a heavy industrial district, with plans to create a business park.

The property is located at the northwest corner of Airport Road and O'Donnell Road - just east of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

Thomson said the current outline presented to the county calls for the creation of three 5-acre parcels that will be leased to construction-related businesses involved in engineering and other geotechnical work.

Thompson said Wambeke also plans to relocate his company - STRATA - to the business park. The business currently operates in Moscow.

Wambeke declined comment on the proposal at this time.

County Commissioner Greg Partch said he is excited about the prospect of having the business park locate in Whitman County.

"We would welcome them to Washington," Partch said. "We welcome others to do the same thing."

Partch said the county's work to make its zoning regulations amiable to businesses is beginning to pay dividends.

"We have zoned that to be very business-friendly," Partch said. "We are very receptive to listen to anyone that wants to move in."

Partch said the Hawkins development and Wambeke's proposal are likely just the beginning, and he hopes to see a variety of businesses relocate or start up in the corridor.

"I think it is just the beginning for us," Partch said. "Things are moving along a lot faster than we expected. I hope there's a lot more.

"We would like a mix of development out there," he added. "That was our intent and that's what's happening."

Most rezoning hearings go smoothly, but there always is the chance someone will object to the proposal, Thomson said.

"There's always potential for someone to show up to a hearing that has some sort of objection, then it's the planning commission's decision," Thomson said.

"Usually it is not a complicated process and it is allowable in the comprehensive plan to make land changes like this," Thomson added. "As far as the code is concerned it is allowable, but the public has a chance to voice their concerns."

The public will get its first chance to voice its opinions at a public hearing before the county's Planning Commission on March 5 at the Whitman County Public Service Building in Colfax.

If the Planning Commission gives its approval, the proposal will be forwarded to county commissioners for a final decision. Thomson said the commissioners likely will schedule hearings on the matter later in March.

As part of the initial rezoning process, the planning department determined the proposal will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment and issued a mitigated determination of nonsignificance in accordance with State Environmental Policy Act regulations.

Corridor 3-Fer, Part 2

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pullman, Whitman County look to align zoning codes near airport

Pullman and Whitman County planning officials are working to create consistent rules for what's allowed on land surrounding the area's commercial airport.

Pullman Planning Director Pete Dickinson said the two entities are working to align county and city zoning codes as they pertain to land use and height restrictions around the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport - restrictions that are intended to ensure safety for planes during takeoff and landing.

The airport was under the county's control until it was annexed into Pullman in the 1980s.

"Our goal is to have a seamless operation between the city and the county when it comes to airport use regulations," Dickinson said. "We need to be on the same page. That's our goal."

Airport Manager Robb Parish said the Federal Aviation Administration requires counties and municipalities to make "appropriate land-use decisions" regarding areas and projects that may impact the airport.

"It is all in the control of Whitman County and Pullman," he said. "I think it really starts with everyone agreeing to protect the airport, then making decisions that implement that."

Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen said the discussion is driven by the Washington State Department of Transportation's aviation division, which has encouraged municipalities to update zoning codes around airport properties.

He said in addition to discrepancies with Pullman, the county's "archaic" code is in need of an update.

"As best I can tell, it's probably something the feds told the state to tell the county to adopt," he said. "It's a very poorly worded chapter in our zoning code."

Dickinson said the city's interest in the issue stems from the county's allowance of more development in unincorporated areas. City zoning code restricts homes, hospitals, churches and child-care centers - or other places where many people may congregate - from within one mile east or west of the airport runway due to potential noise concerns.

Dickinson said the idea is to restrict the uses entirely so area residents or business owners would not be able to rally together to challenge the airport noise.

"There's a certain expectation that has been created in the county's unincorporated area right now that if you wish to develop your property near the airport, you can," Dickinson said. "But when you allow for residences near the airport, they are going to be bothered by airport noise. You get enough residences, churches, or child-cares together ... it becomes a battle, which we don't want to engage in."

Bordsen has a different opinion. He said Pullman and Washington State University allow for structures to be built closer to the airport than the county would like.

Bordsen also disagrees with some aspects of the city's permitted height requirements in the area. He said the county was given the thumbs up by the FAA to allow structures to be constructed behind natural hills that themselves are in violation of height restrictions.

"The FAA doesn't care, because if the airplane is going to hit something, it's going to hit the highest object," he said.

Dickinson said FAA rules often are left to interpretation, noting the Palouse's topography can pose an issue to the FAA's general restriction on the height of objects, landscaping and structures within a roughly 14,000-foot radius of the airport runway.

Parish said he is grateful the county notifies him when construction applications are submitted for areas near the airport. He reviews them and replies to the county with objections or concerns.

For instance, Parish objected when a cell tower was proposed within a mile of the airport and directly under a flight path. The land use is being investigated by the FAA.

"We really try to be reasonable. I don't want to object to a development if it's reasonable and we think it will be compatible. Frankly, we are eager to see the area develop," he said.

Parish said he sympathizes with the city and county as they try to reach a compromise, and understands the county may be facing pressure to allow rural residents to develop their property while at the same time trying to maintain safe operation of the airport.

"They're trying to get a better understanding of what really works around the airport and what doesn't," he said. "Everybody's trying their best to work through these issues."

Bordsen said he hopes the city and county will be able to find a solution that allows for airport safety and compatible development.

"I'm hoping it's going to be easy, but I don't know," he said. "It's going to be a tough issue."

Corridor 3-Fer, Part 1

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Why I voted for the mediation settlement agreement

By Bill Lambert

On Feb. 4, I was one of the five council members to vote for the mediated settlement between the city of Moscow and Hawkins Development Company. The settlement agreement came after 22 hours of negotiation between the two parties. The signed document occurred on Jan. 29. Anyone can get a copy of this signed document from our city attorney, Randy Fife.

The process of getting to mediation has been an ongoing process for many months that included our prior council and mayor. The first time that I heard about the possibility of mediation, I was opposed to it. I also wasn't in favor of challenging and spending thousands of dollars appealing water rights granted within a state and county that I didn't live in. Personally, I wanted to stay out of litigation. The previous council had approved continuing the challenge with Whitman County and the state of Washington.

The week prior to the mediation that took place in Spokane, the council was introduced to Peter Scott, an attorney who specializes in these matters. After listening to him for several hours I was convinced that mediation was the way to go.

At 5 p.m., Feb. 4, the mayor had called an executive meeting to discuss the mediation that took place in Spokane. Scott answered many questions and heard the opinions of everyone in that meeting. Here is what we learned during this meeting: The settlement agreement that our Mayor, Nancy Chaney, brought back from Spokane seemed fair and reasonable. Nancy's signature on this agreement as well as two of our council members made me realize that the document must have validity. I want to thank our Mayor Chaney, and Councilors Krauss and Steed, for representing us.

The page that had the signature of the two parties had a sentence that I would like to quote. "In an effort to avoid the cost and the uncertainty of further litigation, party representatives have reached an agreement in principle as set forth in the attached settlement agreement."

Scott told us litigation would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with an uncertain outcome. I am not willing to spend tax dollars fighting decisions that are made by the state of Washington and Whitman County. Those thousands of dollars should be spent on streets, sidewalks, and services for our residents. We have already spent thousands of dollars of your money fighting this.

So where are we? The Idaho Department of Water Resources will either approve or reject our application to sell water across the state line. If they reject the application the mediation settlement goes away.

I appreciate the response I have received from many residents. Every concerned resident should get a copy of the mediated agreement and read it for themselves. Make your own decision on it - to me, it seems fair and reasonable.

Bill Lambert is Moscow City Council president.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Coming Soon on Stadium Way

There has been considerable speculation as to what is going in to the old Burger King restaurant on Stadium Way. The property has sat vacant for several years now. But it is currently undergoing renovation, with a "Coming Soon" sign on the outside. I had thought maybe Starbucks would be relocating there from next door, as their new strategy is to have drive-thrus.

I was wrong. Reliable sources inform me that it will be Mongolian BBQ. I'm not sure if it the same owner as the one at the Eastside Marketplace in Moscow.

"Moscow meetings will face legal review"

As I predicted, an "onslaught of efforts" to overturn the Moscow-Hawkins water deal is underway. Dennis Baird, owner of the W(h)ine Company in Moscow, has asked for legal review of the council's executive sessions with regards to the deal. Five will get you ten, however, that Baird could really give whit about the secret exectutive sessions between Chaney and the previous council that led to the various Moscow appeals that stopped Hawkins.

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
MOSCOW - Downtown businessman Dennis Baird said Thursday he asked for a legal review of circumstances surrounding several city council executive sessions because government secrecy shouldn't be tolerated.

"The results of secrecy in government are almost always awful," said Baird, owner of the Wine Company of Moscow.

Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. accepted Baird's request and will be reviewing the matter next week. City Attorney Randy Fife, meanwhile, has said the city acted well within Idaho's open meeting law.

The debate swirls around the city council's recent 5-1 decision to provide water and sewer service across the state line for the proposed Hawkins Companies shopping mall. That action stemmed from an initial executive session last year after which the city appealed water rights transfers Hawkins had secured in neighboring Whitman County.

"The process was really terrible; making major substantive decisions on city resources in executive session is simply not a good way to run a government," Baird said.

There was no public discussion prior to the appeals being filed. Nor was there any public input prior to or after another executive session that resulted in a 180-degree turnaround to dismiss the appeals and ultimately offer water and sewer services to Hawkins. What's more, the deal with Hawkins was hammered out during a 22-hour secret mediation session in Spokane.

The city of Moscow issued a release Thursday stating the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board ordered the dismissal of all water rights challenges on Feb. 13 based on the negotiated settlement agreement.

And it's that process leading to the settlement Baird is challenging.

"It stayed awful from day one to day three," Baird said. "The problem is the process, the secrecy. The second part of the process problem was the rush to approve the secret deal. They could have waited another week."

The city had been taking heat since last summer from Whitman County officials who claimed Moscow overstepped its jurisdiction by filing the water rights appeals. The appeals, said the county's three commissioners, unjustifiably held up construction of the mall.

Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, who signed the appeals, said they were filed out of concern for the region's groundwater resource. Critics across the border, however, said the legal maneuver was taken mostly to stymie retail development in the Moscow-Pullman corridor.

Baird said he doesn't like the city's decision to extend services across state lines. But he's most concerned about the action stemming from attempts to circumvent Idaho's open meeting law. "There's plenty of blame to pass around," Baird said about city officials who participated, including members of the past and current city councils.

Chaney, Fife and council members said they acted legally. The law allows for executive sessions to "discuss the legal ramifications of and legal options for pending litigation, or controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated."

Baird said litigation usually refers to legal actions taken by others against the city, not actions initiated by the city. "Since the city had filed an administrative appeal in the state of Washington, I suppose that could be called litigation," he said. "But the things they discussed went way beyond anything that was subject to litigation, including committing the city's resources outside the state."

Finally, a Government Subsidy Jim Fisher Likes

You remember liberal-tarian Lewiston Tribune columnist Jim Fisher takes a dim view of the government building a water and sewer system:
If Hawkins were doing what other developers have done in paying the cost of its own development, county revenues from sales and property taxes on the new mall would begin flowing immediately into county coffers.
But in today's column, Fisher is filled with praise for Whitman County for spending $42,795 of the taxpayer's money to help purchase and operate a wood chipper that will "travel the county grinding the wood waste that otherwise might be burned" and encouraging towns to set up composting facilities. He contrasts this with "backwards" Asotin County, that still foolishly expects property owners to either pony up themselves for a chipper or *gasp* burn their brush.

My question is, what if Hakwins uses the wood chipper when they clear off their property to build?

The New York Times Fails To Live Up To The Seattle PI's Journalistic Standards?

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer declined to run the New York Slime's hit piece on John McCain yesterday.

[T]he story had serious flaws. It did not convincingly make the case that McCain either had an affair with a lobbyist, or was improperly influenced by her. It used a raft of unnamed sources to assert that members of McCain’s campaign staff — not this campaign but his campaign eight years ago — were concerned about the amount of time McCain was spending with the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. They were worried about the appearance of a close bond between the two of them.

Then it went even further back, re-establishing the difficulties McCain had with his close association to savings-and-loan criminal Charles Keating. It didn’t get back to the thing that (of course) the rest of the media immediately pounced on — McCain, Iseman and the nature of their relationship — until very deep in the story. And when the story did get back there, it didn’t do so with anything approaching convincing material.

A very good editor I happen to work for, P-I Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby, said today that the story read like a candidate profile to him, not an investigative story, and I think that’s true.

Shiny Happy People

According to yesterday's Lewiston Tribune, that could have ben the title of Queen Nancy's "State of the City" address Wednesday in Moscow. Nothing says "economic development" more than a bank teller that knows your name:
Moscow mayor reflects on city's 'evolving vision'
Chaney delivers her annual address to chamber

MOSCOW - Amid lists of accomplishments, goals and challenges, Mayor Nancy Chaney on Wednesday voiced some of the governing philosophy that continues to guide her into the next two years of her four-year term.

"One of the objectives of city government is to put in place the rules, plans and resources necessary to guide a community toward its collective, evolving vision," Chaney told members of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce during her annual State of the City address. "Moscow is doing just that as we revise our guiding document, the comprehensive plan, last drafted in 1999."

Through what she characterized as public outreach on a "grand scale," Chaney said a series of objectives, ranging from preserving small town community character to providing employment opportunities for all residents, has been established as a template for the future.

Chaney has been criticized for attempting to rein in economic development that doesn't fit her vision. She continues to question, for example, retail development across the border in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. Instead, she touts the concept of a "knowledge corridor" geared less to physical development of the eight-mile stretch of highway and more to educational exchange between the University of Idaho here and at Washington State University in Pullman.

The mayor spoke to a crowd of about 75 during a noon luncheon at the University Inn-Best Western.

"The state of a city is undoubtedly reflected in economic statistics, and they are important," Chaney said. "What sustains a community through good times and bad, including economic downturns, are personal connections and place identity."

She listed various price discounts and gestures like bank tellers knowing people by sight as "the stuff of community, and what keeps so many of us ferociously protective of whatever it is that makes Moscow, Moscow."

Chaney said the deaths last year of City Councilor John Dickinson in an automobile mishap and police officer Lee Newbill in a multi-death shooting showed that Moscow is not immune to tragedy, but is filled with "extraordinary support and compassion."

The mayor took office with a city council that leaned toward not only her politics, but her vision. That, according to most observers, changed last November. "Our new city council begins its journey in the midst of the comprehensive plan revision," Chaney said, comparing the route ahead to what Alice took in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

"If, like Alice, we didn't much care where (the city is going), we wouldn't be at this meeting today," said Chaney, "and frankly, probably wouldn't have government or State of the City addresses at all."

But people who live in a community, said Chaney, want and seek order, safety and social structure. And to that end, they create rules, guidelines and government. All of it adds to the complexity and costs of ensuring a community's future, she said. "Because we are Moscow, we endeavor to accomplish those objectives Moscow's way."

"As the nation enters a period of economic downturn, it is especially important to focus on local assets and strengths in our regional economy and ways we can reinvest in Moscow," Chaney said. She listed education, health care and technology as logical areas of focus. The town can be insulated from negative outside economic forces by increased interest in renewable energy, green building and a buy local mentality, Chaney said.

She challenged those attending to make a list of Moscow characteristics that attracted and kept them here. "They are the same things that will attract new businesses, academics and families here," Chaney said. "With active marketing, Moscow is on the path to becoming the model for solid economic development and coveted quality of life."

Chaney solicited questions at the end of her address, but none were asked.
Too bad. I can think of at least a couple.

"Madam Mayor, you mentioned your opposition to retail in the corridor and a 'buy local' mentality. Would you care to square this with the reality that the two largest businesses to open in Moscow during your administration are national retailers Old Navy and Bed, Bath and Beyond, the University of Idaho's negotiations with Home Depot to locate behind the Palouse Mall, and the plans for national chain drugstore Walgreen's and chain restaurant Shari's to open soon in the city?"

"Madam Mayor, one more question. You have focused on what you call the 'sustainable revolution' and developing a so-called 'knowledge ccorridor' of high-tech businesses. But did you realize that the employees of the Alturas Technology Park and their families consume 2.07 times the annual water use of a Wal-Mart Supercenter?"

Will The 2000 Election Inspire Democrats To Cut Their Own Thoats

The Washington State Legislature has indulged itself in a greater than usual measure of foolishness this session. And considering its history, that’s quite an achievement. The “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative,” would encourage tearing up roads in eastern Washington and a bizarre land use law would force development to arrange itself around light rail systems that few people care to ride. Ammunition serialization? Don’t get me started. But the worst of all the ideas that the legislature has cooked up this year is a law that would require the state to award all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote nationwide.

Democrats still have not gotten over losing the 2000 presidential election. They imagined vote fraud and blamed the Supreme Court for calling a halt to Democrat legal shenanigans in Florida. But most of all, they blamed the Electoral College. Al Gore won the popular vote that year by a fairly wide margin, but George W. Bush won in the Electoral College. Al Gore whined afterwards that he had always thought that the candidate with the most votes won elections, proving that all his family’s tobacco and oil money could not buy him a good education.
Immediately afterward, Democrats vowed to abolish the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton promised that she would introduce legislation to that effect, proving that she had apparently never read the Constitution that she took an oath to uphold. Unanimous votes in both houses of Congress and a presidential signature cannot abolish the Electoral College. That would require amending the Constitution, Considering that more than a quarter of the states enjoy a disproportionate representation in the Electoral College, they would never agree to surrender to a nationwide popular vote. Without the Electoral College, presidential candidates would never visit Idaho or Wyoming. It wouldn’t be worth the jet fuel.
Understanding this, the Electoral College abolitionists took a new tack. They set out to convince individual states to disenfranchise their own citizens’ power to choose their electors and to surrender that power to a nationwide popular vote. Senator Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland introduced the law and the Senate sent it on to the House in an almost straight party-line vote. Had this law been in force in 2004, Washington’s electors would have had to cast their votes for George Bush.
The irony of this is that such a law would diminish the power of any individual vote, particularly those of minorities. By dividing the nation into 51 electoral units, the Electoral College increases the value of each individual vote, making it unwise for a candidate to ignore any minority, be it a racial minority or a demographic minority, such as rural voters, or a religious minority, such as Mormons. Because no candidate can afford to toss away electoral votes by ignoring 10 or 15% of the state’s voters, candidates must at least pretend to care about the voters in every state. Why do you think that Barack Obama came to Boise and declared himself a champion of the Second Amendment? Idaho’s 4 electoral votes could make a difference in November. Why do candidates travel to New York, Seattle or San Francisco and declare their commitment to gay rights? Because that three percent of the population could swing more than 40% of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency in a close election.
John Kerry’s awkward attempt to endear himself to Ohio hunters may have cost him the election in 2004. He could hardly have sounded more condescending when he walked into that convenience store and asked, “Can I get me a huntin’ license here?
The current demographic battleground is the Hispanic vote. As such, we have Spanish translation debates. And while pandering for the identity vote rarely yields wise policy, at least it makes every minority important enough to be considered and not marginalized.
And this is what makes the Democratic Party’s embrace of this anti-minority crusade so ironic. If the country were ever so foolish as to abolish the Electoral College, it would essentially discourage the kind of tribal politics that that party relies upon.
It’s not surprising that these politicians are failing to consider subtleties like this all the way through. These mediocre people would never consider small issues if not for the Electoral College. So don’t expect a thoughtful debate. It’s all about 2000.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

The ultra-religious, conservative Republicans generally can’t stand John McCain because he’s too liberal for the majority of the party. Though McCain is hated among staunch conservatives, Clinton is loathed, despised and the bane of many conservatives’ existences.

The next natural and logical choice would be Barack Obama. But this is politics, there’s no place for logic, and in the primaries people want a show – enter Huckabee.
- Dominick Bonny, "You can kiss Huckabee goodbye," The Daily Evergreen, February 21, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal's 27th annual vote ratings. The insurgent presidential candidate shifted further to the left last year in the run-up to the primaries, after ranking as the 16th- and 10th-most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate.
- The National Journal, January 31, 2008

Yeah, Obama is the next logical choice if you're an ignorant, intolerant, know-it-all college student. Luckily, us "white, super-Christian and moral voters" can tell the difference.

Barack Obama - One Bad Dude

I'm impressed!

It Ain't Over 'Til The Hippie Lady Sings

As you may have noticed by letters and stories in the Daily News, the anti-growthniks in Moscow are not going gentle into that good night with regards to the Moscow-Hawkins water deal. Accusations of smoke-filled backroom deals, juicy quid pro quos for Greater Moscow Alliance members, and cries for a recall of city council members have been flying faster than a pair of stretched tights ripping at the Renaissance Festival.

But a more sinister threat is growing behind the scenes. King Solomon, ominously quiet during the drama these past few weeks, is working behind the scenes to thwart the evil plot of the running lap dogs of capitalism.

Exhibit 1: The following e-mail exchange between Solomon and the Deputy Attorney General for the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

From: Rassier, Phil
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:58 PM
To: 'Mark Solomon'
Cc: Haynes, Bob; 'rfife@ci.moscow.id.us'
Subject: RE: Moscow out of state sale of water


This is a brief informal response to your request for my thoughts on your discussion set out below relating to the authorities under which the City of Moscow could seek authorization to provide water across the Washington state line. Many of the statutes and issues you discuss were addressed in the attached June 16, 2005 letter from Steve Strack of the Idaho Attorney General's Office to Randy Fife.

For the reasons stated in the Strack letter, the provisions of I.C. 50-324 do not provide usable authority for the City of Moscow in the present case. That statute provides authority for a city in Idaho to acquire and operate an out of state private water distribution system in order to supply water to the Idaho city from an out of state source.

The Strack letter also addresses the provisions of I.C. 42-401 governing applications for use of public waters outside the state. While this statute certainly governs applications by persons from outside the state it also governs applications from persons within Idaho who intend to "withdraw water from any surface or underground water source in the state of Idaho and transport it for use outside the state ..." To read the statute otherwise would mean the Legislature intended to withhold from Idaho citizens a benefit required under the Commerce Clause that is being provided to non-citizens. In my view, this would not be a plausable reading of the statute.

I appreciate your inquiry and hope you find this response helpful.


Phil Rassier


Phillip J. Rassier
Deputy Attorney General
Idaho Department of Water Resources
322 East Front Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0098
Phone: (208) 287-4808
Fax: (208) 287-6700
Email: phil.rassier@idwr.idaho.gov


From: Mark Solomon [mailto:msolomon@uidaho.edu]
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:22 AM
To: Rassier, Phil
Subject: Moscow out of state sale of water

Dear Phil,

I am writing you today to seek your assistance in clarifying the statutory authorities under which the City of Moscow may seek IDWR permission to sell water across the Washington state line to a private entity. The city attorney, Randy Fife, and I have discussed this matter and come to diametrically held opinions. In the interest of resolving this issue as expeditiously as possible, informal guidance from IDWR, short of a court's determination, may serve all the interests at hand - especially if provided prior to an actual application from the City of Moscow to IDWR.

I understand from communications received by the City from IDWR that an application might be considered under 42-401 I.C. et seq. There is another statute within Title 50 (Municipal Corporations) that I believe may control in this instance as it is specific to the powers of a city regarding transfer of water across a state line.
50-324. CITIES AUTHORIZED TO JOINTLY PURCHASE OR LEASE, MAINTAIN OR OPERATE A JOINT WATER SYSTEM. All cities of this state are empowered by ordinance to negotiate for and purchase or lease, and to maintain and operate, in cooperation with adjoining cities of states bordering this state, the out of state water distribution system, plant and equipment of privately owned utilities used for the purpose of supplying water to the purchasing or leasing cities from an out of state source; provided, the legislature of the state in which such water distribution system, plant, equipment and supply are located, by enabling legislation, authorizes its cities to join in such purchase or lease, maintenance and operation. The city council of the cities acting jointly under this section shall have authority, by mutual agreement, to exercise jointly all powers granted to each individual city in the purchase or lease, maintenance and operation of a water supply system. (Emphasis added).
Here the state has spoken specifically to the conditions under which cities are authorized to distribute water across the state line. By my understanding of the rules of statutory interpretation, when a statute speaks specifically to a circumstance, it then excludes the extension of the power in question. In other words, by specifically granting cities the power to cooperate with adjoining cities in bordering states, the state excludes the cities' power to cooperate with other entities in the operation of a joint water system across state lines. If my interpretation is correct (and while I've read a lot of law, I am not a lawyer), then deciding how to proceed under 42-401 is a moot point.

If it is not mooted, then consideration of the other statutes is required. It is the City's position that 42-401 provides the authority and permitting process for its sale of water across the state line. A simple reading of the Chapter's title "APPROPRIATIONS FOR USE OUTSIDE STATE" would appear to support that position. However, a plain reading of the statute accompanied by its legislative history indicates that this statute speaks to a set of facts that do not fit the City's circumstances.

42-401 I.C. seems to be intended to address facts similar to those that gave rise to the U.S Supreme Court decision in Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel Douglas, 458 U.S. 941 (1982) and the subsequent test of New Mexico's statute interpreting that decision in City of El Paso v. Reynolds (El Paso II), 597 F. Supp. 694 (D.N.M. 1984). 41-401 I.C. repeatedly refers to an applicant's use of water in an adjoining state as in Sporhase, not the provision of water by an entity in Idaho to a different entity in another state:(
2) Any person, firm or corporation or any other entity intending to withdraw water from any surface or underground water source in the state of Idaho and transport it for use outside the state or to change the place or purpose of use of a water right from a place in Idaho to a place outside the state shall file with the department of water resources an application for a permit to do so.

(3) In order to approve an application under this chapter, the director must find that the applicant's use of water outside the state.

(7) Upon submittal of the application, the applicant shall designate an agent in the state of Idaho for reception of service of processs.
Taken together the various sections of 42-401 seem to clearly imply that the applicant is an out-of-state entity with a water right in Idaho who intends to use the water outside the state. This interpretation would coincide well with the facts in Sporhase, but not with the intention of the City of Moscow to apply for a permit to sell water across the state line. Even if 42-401 could be read so broadly as to include such a sale, it appears the applicant could not be the City of Moscow but would have to be the out-of-state entity who intends to use the state's water. It is my reading that 42-401 et seq simply does not apply to the situation at hand no matter who is the applicant.

I understand that you would not want to comment on whether a legally viable application will or should be granted, but here, it appears that there is no legal means for the city to obtain the permit they have contracted to request. An informal opinion from you (perhaps to your director that could then be passed on to the city informally?) might save the city a lot of embarrassment, time, money, and public protest. If the City then chose not to file its application, the merits of the question "should the water use be allowed" would never need to be debated and protested in public hearings.

Your thoughts and guidance would be most welcome.


Mark Solomon
Moscow, ID
Knowledgable observers believe this is just the beginning of an onslaught of efforts to bring pressure upon the Idaho Department of Water Resources and their upcoming decision to approve the water supply agreement.

The 2005 Moscow Water Transfer opinion by Deputy Attorney General Steven W. Strack attached to the e-mail is not promising. Click here to view a copy of this opinion. But that was a past IDWR director's interpretation of Idaho Code. The new IDWR director, Dave Tuthill, interprets the law somewhat more favorably for the extension of water services to occur across state lines. However, this will not stop the Aquinuts from trying to push this as far as they can. The Hawkins cause célèbre, as Gordon Forgey has called it, is still very far from over.

The pro-growth Moscow City Council members, or the "Hawkins 5" as they are being derisively dubbed, are being lambasted publicly in the most concentrated smear campaign we have seen on the Palouse since Jerry Weitz had the temerity to challenge the school levy.

I admit, it is tempting to sit this one out. A business-unfriendly Moscow is very business-friendly to Whitman County and Pullman. And Whitman County is covered with the infrastructure bond and Hawkins still has water rights it can pursue if IDWR doesn't allow Moscow to sell water. Hawkins can still build their mall. Many, including myself, would like to see Whitman County control the water for development in the corridor and not be dependent on Moscow.

BUT WE CANNOT LET THE LEFTISTS WIN THIS ONE!!!!!!! Thw Moscow City Council vote to drop the appeals and agree to sell water and sewer services was a HUGE kick in the teeth to the local socialists. The constant screeching and dramatic rhetoric is evidence of that. But if they manage to stop the water sale to Hawkins, they'll be emboldened to stop every new project by beating down everyone who supports it they way they have this time. And don't forget, there will be other developments in the corridor besides Hawkins. If they win this one, King Solomon and the Knights of the Water Table will oppose every one of them. The Moscow-Hawkins deal has thawed the Cold War between Whitman County and Moscow. It has reestablished relations between our two communities. And this is important. We are a regional economy sharing regional resources. We either work together or fail alone. Plus, as I have stated before, if you believe in preserving the aquifer, Moscow municipal water service will ultimately save more water than the original Hawkins plan for development of new wells.

Someone told me yesterday that, "I attended Mayor Chaney's State of the City address today. The elephant in the room (Hawkins) was never mentioned but many could smell the peanuts...."

What can you do? Consider writing a letter to the editor in support of common sense and the Hawkins-Moscow water deal, whether you are a resident of Pullman, Moscow, Whitman County, or Latah County.

Also, consider sending the Moscow City Council members an e-mail expressing your support:

Bill Lambert
Dan Carscallen
John Weber
Walter Steed
Wayne Krauss

You can also leave a phone message for the council members at (208) 883-7080.