Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 30 Republican Debate Report Card

Mark Halperin, political correspondent for Time magazine, has another report card on the January 30 GOP candidates debate in Simi Valley, CA.

John McCain
Grade: B

As a testament to his suddenly strong position in the battle for the nomination, he showed off all of his worst traits — and still won! Alternately cranky, elderly, caustic, equivocating, inarticulate, passionless. But he flexed his ability to intimidate Romney as needed, usually with an arch one-liner that was 3/5 mean-spirited and 2/5 light gag. Made little effort to defend his own tax record or negative Florida attacks, and failed to drive a positive message. Still, was treated by the questioners and his rivals as the clear frontrunner and the inevitable focus of the room. With Giuliani out of the race and on his side, and Romney struggling in perennial second place, McCain calmly expressed his principles, agenda, and stock statements with unhurried confidence. As always, the frontrunner's grade is based in part on maintaining the pecking order. This debate was a non-event, so McCain wins.

Ron Paul
Grade: C+

As in the past few debates, continued to figuratively fade from the stage, although he remained, as ever, absolutely true to his ideas and his ideals. Expressed himself with lucid passion, and no doubt made his supporters frantic with disappointment and some new viewers belatedly intrigued.

Mitt Romney
Grade: D+

Ever-unflagging, he showed he plans to fight with fervent determination until there is a nominee — himself or McCain, whom he seemed to consider the only other candidate on the stage. Equally heated when defending himself against attacks (including the standard flip-flopping accusations) and when going after McCain. But in his final pre-Super Tuesday chance to confront his chief rival face-to-face, he was bogged down by frustration, distraction, and drift. He knows what he wants to say and what he has to say, but he was unable to make a strong case against McCain in a personable, consistent, persuasive way,

Mike Huckabee
Grade: D

His transitional arc from chipper, sassy longshot to surprise leading contender to political folktale is nearly complete. As he himself repeatedly observed from the stage, he's still technically in the game, although neither he nor the audience seemed convinced. Wasted some of his scarce allotted minutes complaining about the lack of equal time (a la Tom Tancredo) His shining, magnetic personality and gubernatorial can-do attitude that carried him to victory in the small sandbox of Iowa have been diluted and desiccated in the vast Super Tuesday desert.

Welcome Al Sorensen!

As many of you may have noticed from his post earlier, former Pullman City Councilman Al Sorensen has joined Palousitics as a contributor. Al's extensive experience in city government should allow him to make some interesting and substantive observations on local current events of the day.

Welcome Al!

Life In Hell, Part Three

When I got home today (after spending 3 hours shoveling this morning before work) I found that my neighbor's tree had come down under the weight of the snow.

The more things change.....Vote Billary for More Graft and Corruption

The Clintons are the "gift that keeps on giving" for America

An ex-president, a mining deal and a big donor
Huge Kazakh deal follows financier’s trip with Clinton, precedes donation

By Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr.

updated 11:11 p.m. PT, Wed., Jan. 30, 2008
Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.

Deal stunned the mining industry
The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.

Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.

Life in Hell, Part Two

14 inches of snow since last night on my previously freshly shoveled driveway...

...plus the foot we already had on the ground adds up to a whopping 26 inches of the white stuff.

My house on Paradise (soon to be renamed Glacier) Ridge.

Digging out Dr. Forbes. Nice of the WSU administration to wait until 10 AM to close. Needless to say, the Blizzard of 2008 has shut everything down in Pullman, including for the first time in many years, WSU and the Pullman School District. And the snow is still falling, with more on the way....


Life In Hell

My house.

Is Al Gore in town?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


So Dave, I am a little curious about your comment "I guess the concept of non-partisan office is lost these days". Are you saying there has not been partisanship in local Pullman City Council races? How about Mr. Nathan Weller being endorsed by the Whitman County Demo's on their website for the Ward 2 positon this fall? No one from the DEMO party bothered to call me or talk to me about my views on any issues or my stance on any issue. They just automatically endorsed Mr. Weller. By the way, are you one of the people Nathan brought to the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum that acussed me of of not submitting proper paperwork to the State of Washington? By the way ALL of my required paperwork has been filed with the State of Washington, just to make things clear. So, when will we see your endorsement for a non-partisan position on the DEMO website? Either of the other two candidates for Pullman City Council Ward 3 would be welcome.

"Government officials, developer negotiate water rights"

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
Representatives of the Hawkins Companies, the Washington Department of Ecology and the cities of Moscow and Colton continued mediation talks in Spokane late Tuesday night over disputed water rights transfers.

Moscow City Councilor Wayne Krauss, reached by cell phone at around 9:30 p.m., said the talks were still in session. All participants, Krauss added, signed a confidentiality paper when the talks began in the morning and he declined further comment about the negotiations.

Krauss said he expected the talks to end late Tuesday night and members of the Moscow City Council might discuss the outcome during an executive session Monday.

Hawkins has proposed building a 700,000-square-foot shopping center adjacent to the Moscow city limits just over the state line in Whitman County. The development company secured water rights transfers for the development, then Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, with council approval, appealed the transfers.

Hawkins representatives have said they need the water rights before drilling their own wells. Moscow had refused to offer water and sewer service to the development.

The city of Colton got involved when officials there agreed to swap water rights with Hawkins before Chaney's appeal brought the transfer to a halt. The appeals, said Colton developers, have brought a halt to construction in their town.

Several people, including a pro-development citizens group in Whitman County, have called on members of Moscow's new city council to rescind the appeals and let Hawkins start construction. The appeals remain scheduled for hearings later this spring. The mediation gathering was organized recently in hope of finding a quicker resolution.

In the meantime, the three Whitman County commissioners indicated they may make a decision by Monday whether to issue $10.5 million worth of bonds to build infrastructure, including water service, for the Hawkins development. The commissioners have championed the Hawkins shopping center and criticized Moscow officials for jumping over a state line to take legal action.

Chaney said her appeals were filed because of concern for the region's groundwater. Critics continue to say the mayor and members of the former city council in Moscow really want to stop retail development in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. The Whitman County commissioners have all gone on record that they hope the Hawkins development will be the start of even more retail development throughout the eight-mile corridor.

As planned, the Hawkins shopping center would be anchored by a Lowe's home improvement center and could include other big-box retail stores.

That's Old Man Winter, SIR, Maggot!

A cornice on Liberty Ridge, Mount Rainier? Nah. The rock wall beside my house.

Street scene today in Pullman. For you West Side readers, while virtually every school in Eastern Washington was closed yesterday, Pullman schools were on time. We're saving our snow day for the planet killer asteroid strike.

The Himalayas? Nope. It's a vacant lot where all this winter's accumulated snow has been dumped after being plowed from the Port of Whitman County Industrial Park parking lots. I figure it should all be gone by June.

"Mediation between city, Hawkins under way"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Moscow City Councilman Walter Steed said he could not comment on ongoing mediation between representatives of the city of Moscow and Hawkins Companies.

Steed, Councilman Wayne Krauss and Mayor Nancy Chaney are attending the mediation in Spokane, which started Tuesday. Steed said Tuesday afternoon that the rules of the mediation require him to keep information confidential.

He said he could not comment on how long the mediation would take. Krauss said earlier this week that the mediation would likely run through today.

Moscow has appealed the Washington State Department of Ecology's decision to grant the Boise-based development company water-rights transfers for a proposed retail development in the Pullman-Moscow corridor, just west of the Idaho state line.

The appeal, which was filed with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board, argues that the water rights are located in two different bodies of public groundwater and the transfers will impair existing water rights, not be in the public's interest and will improperly modify the manner of the rights' intended use.

The appeal also cited the Department of Ecology's failure to conduct an analysis of the average amount of water use from the rights over the past five years.

Krauss and Chaney could not be reached for comment.

Councilmen Dan Carscallen, Tom Lamar, Bill Lambert and John Weber said Tuesday they had not heard any news about the mediation.

Weber said Peter G. Scott, a Montana-based lawyer who is representing the city in the appeal, will speak for Moscow in the mediation.

"I think Wayne and Walter were there to show moral support and the fact that we're serious about it, and so is the mayor, but as far as them giving any testimony I think the testimony would have been given by our mediator or experts," Weber said.

The City Council will have to approve any decision reached at the mediation before it will be official.

PRESS RELEASE: Ninth District legislator tackles colon cancer with strength, determination

My prayers are with Steve and his family. If anybody has the strength and determination to beat cancer, he can. This is a guy who used to fly combat helicopter missions in Vietnam.

Ninth District legislator tackles colon cancer with strength, determination

State Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, has revealed that he is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. The 9th District lawmaker received the diagnosis shortly after the beginning of the 2008 legislative session.

Hailey began a regimen of chemotherapy the week of Jan. 21, and is planning to continue his legislative work as much as possible throughout his treatment.

Hailey made the decision to go public with his cancer diagnosis because he wanted to be honest and open with his constituents, to keep them apprised of his progress, and to help educate people about preventing and detecting the disease.

“This is one of the toughest challenges of my life, but I feel strongly that I have an obligation to be candid about what I’m dealing with and what’s ahead,” said Hailey. “Saying ‘I’ve got cancer’ should not suggest that I’m not up to the emotional and physical demands of battling through this. I’ve been in rough spots before, and I’m confident and optimistic for a positive outcome.”

Hailey credits advances in diagnosis and cure of colon cancer for his encouraging prognosis, but the “gold standard,” he said, is early detection.

“Colorectal cancer is among the most common cancers diagnosed in men and women in the United States, and I have joined the ranks of millions who are facing the same challenge and fighting the disease every day,” Hailey added. “Colon cancer is highly curable if detected in its early stages, and I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of regular testing and screenings.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk men and women over 50 have a fecal occult blood test yearly and a screening colonoscopy every five years. People with a strong family history of cancer should start screening at age 40.

Hailey, his wife and family expressed their appreciation for the many messages of encouragement from well-wishers.

"We have been heartened by the thoughtful show of support from our friends, both at home and among legislative colleagues and staff in Olympia. We are very grateful for everyone's concerns and prayers,” Hailey said. "The prognosis is favorable. My doctors and I are confident that the treatment protocol will be successful, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free recovery.”

To respect the family’s wishes for patient privacy and medical confidentiality, further updates on Rep. Hailey’s condition will be released when appropriate.

“Representative Hailey’s forthright honesty about his health is exactly what I would expect of him, and reflects the integrity and character of the man we know and admire," said 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler. "I urge everyone to keep Steve and his family in their thoughts, but also to respect their privacy during this difficult period."

“Steve’s a courageous guy, and together with his wife and family, he will rise to meet this challenge with his normal determination,” said Colfax Rep. Joe Schmick, Hailey’s state House seatmate. “He’s a well-liked, dedicated representative, a key part of our legislative team, and folks throughout the district are pulling for him."

The Mirror Has Two Faces

I also agree with others who have written in before on these issues who have complained the driving all the way from Pullman to the sprawl area where Hawkins would wish to build is a waste of gas and not environmentally sound.
- PARDner Christopher Lupke, online comment, Moscow-Pullman Daily News website, January 30, 2008
Burma seems to have forgotten there is a Wal-Mart seven miles away. If she has trouble getting there, I’d be happy to do the neighborly thing and take her. She has a right to shop for shoddy sweatshop-made goods if she wishes.
- PARDner T.V. Reed Monday, letter to the editor, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 1, 2007
10. We already have a Wal-Mart 7 miles away, and a new Supercenter is being planned for Moscow
- "Top 10 Reasons a Wal-Mart Supercenter Would Be Bad for Pullman," PARD Poster at 2005 National Lentil Festival
While we understand some people in Pullman who think it only fair turnabout to gain sales at the expense of Moscow, for a number of reasons that is highly unlikely to happen. Moreover, at a time when the Pullman and Moscow governments are seeking to cooperate on a number of projects, including responsible development of the Route 270 corridor, this is no time for store wars to ruin good will.
- PARD Position Paper

The Hawkins "sprawl area" to which Lupke refers is directly adjacent to the existing Wal-Mart that the PARDners direct folks to, as well as the Moscow businesses which they are so deeply concerned about.

If you are getting motion sickness trying to follow all of PARD's gyrations on the various issues, don't worry. You're not alone. Fortunately, Lu Laoshi's hypocritical rantings on the Hawkins development will remain just that: the inane, incoherent, illogical ramblings of an academic with a hugely overblown sense of self-importance. PARD has no big labor sugar daddy to bankroll an appeal of the Hawkins project.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hope for the future

Hans Rosling's 2006 and 2007 20 minute videos describe (with amazing graphics) how there will soon be NO ‘third world.’ I highly recommend them.

Improved health and wealth are taking over the planet and we hardly noticed. Rosling's presentaions are to me the most interesting analysis of the world’s population since the idiot Paul Erlick wrote “The Population Bomb”. Erlick, whose book I read while I was in high school in the 70’s, predicted that all was lost. We’ll soon run out of food, and we’ll all die - if we don’t force people to stop reproducing. That sort of short sightedness has always affected my politics. The correct answer to Erlick’s 'dilemma' was of course staring him in the face: free market economies and the green revolution would totally transform the planet. Though Rosling is from socialist Sweden you’ll see he can’t help but come to the same conclusion.

You can run Rosling’s software at http://www.gapminder.org/ but check out his talks first.

The Geographically Challenged

Let me get this straight. Hawkins, a development company from Boise, got a good deal on some Palouse farmland and wants to build a sprawl-mall there. However, because the land does not have all utilities and is distant from either Moscow or Pullman, Hawkins wants either the Whitman County taxpayers to underwrite this mall with a bond, or the Moscow taxpayers to underwrite this mall with utility access.
- Bill London, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 29, 2008.

The Hawkins development, of course, will be directly adjacent to Moscow, hard against the state line. Don't laugh. It's sad, really, that our no growth moonbats have been reduced to this level of intellectual bankruptcy. It's much more fun when they have a sporting chance.
Numerous conservative commentators in our own community find time to comment on their lack of faith in the environmental certainty of global warming, as well as their belief that there is a vast liberal conspiracy behind anything to do with environmental protection.
- Chuck "Mr. Civil Discourse" Pezeshki, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 29, 2008.

You have to forgive Chuckie Sandiego's poor timing on today's column. He's in Denmark at the moment, not shoveling a foot of snow out of his driveway like the rest of us in Pullman.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

"Hawkins vote could come Monday in Whitman County"

"...the best way to keep shoppers in Pullman and, crucially, attract shoppers from Moscow and other nearby communities, is for Pullman to 'differentiate itself' from its neighbors, to offer shopping and dining opportunities not already available in our area."
- PARDner Chris Lupke, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, June 16, 2006

"I see Whitman County and Latah County as having somewhat of a fixed revenue source. I don't know if there is enough dispensable income to support this kind of project."
- PARDner Don Orlich, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 29, 2008, on the Hawkins Companies retail development in the corridor which will bring a variety of new shopping and dining opportunities to the Palouse, including a Lowe's Home Improvement and another undisclosed large retailer.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Commissioners say they won't be rushed in making decision to sell bonds to pay for infrastructure at development site

Whitman County commissioners have tentatively set Monday as their target date for a vote on the proposed public-private partnership with Hawkins Companies and the selling of roughly $10 million in bonds.

The bonds would be used to pay for public infrastructure at the site of Hawkins' proposed retail development in the Pullman-Moscow corridor, just west of the Idaho state line.

Commissioner Michael Largent said at a public meeting Monday in Colfax the commissioners would not be rushed in making their decision.

"We will not make a decision until we are ready, regardless of a timeline," he said.

Monday's meeting was not as well attended as the previous two public meetings on the topic, with only four Whitman County residents attending.

Donald Orlich, a Pullman resident, was one of two residents who spoke against the proposed development. He told the county commissioners it was not the government's place to provide money for private businesses. He also said it was not the time to burden the county with debt, given the declining state of the country's economy.

"What we have in front of us is whether the county will commit to financing public infrastructure," Orlich said. "I don't think we should be subsidizing private companies.

"I really think this would be bad timing all around and I am opposed to this."

Orlich also questioned the profitability potential of the proposed 700,000-square-foot shopping center.

"I see Whitman County and Latah County as having somewhat of a fixed revenue source," Orlich said. "I don't know if there is enough dispensable income to support this kind of project."

Commissioner Jerry Finch responded to Orlich's comment by citing a recent study that concluded the Palouse loses $80 million a year in potential retail sales to nearby cities like Spokane and Lewiston.

"If we capture 10 percent of that, which I think is realistic, those numbers are doable," Finch said.

Finch also said the county and Hawkins have been careful in their estimates.

"Everywhere we have done this we have done this very conservatively," Finch said.

Russ Coggins, a Pullman resident, spoke in favor of the bonding and the development.

"I think the proposed bond as proposed is going to be a good thing for Whitman County," Coggins said. "It is a heck of a bargain. I don't see how Whitman County can pass on it."

The commissioners also said during the meeting that representatives from Hawkins have indicated that a second "major retailer" is ready to commit to the development.

The county has made available an informational packet on its Web site (whitmancounty.org) in response to the many questions raised by residents during last week's public meeting and to clear up some of the public's questions.

One of the questions addressed in the packet was what would the total cost of the bond be to the county once interest is included. According to the packet, the county has not decided on the length of the bond, but if the county elected to sell 20-year bonds, the cost of a $9.1 million bond ultimately would be $14.2 million.

Another question addressed how the county will pay for the bonds. According to the packet, the county expects sales and property taxes generated from the development will "more than pay for the costs to the county."

The county also expects to see a tax revenue profit from the development of $9 million over the first 20 years, "over and above the costs in principal and interest to pay for the infrastructure."

If the estimates aren't reached, the county still would have several options to pay for the bonds, including using .09 funds - money provided by the state and awarded by the county to assist rural communities with economic development - or dipping into the county's general fund, according to the packet.

Hawkins representatives were scheduled to meet with Moscow representatives today in Spokane, with a goal of resolving their differences over a water-rights transfers granted by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Moscow has appealed the Department of Ecology's decision, arguing that the water rights were located in two different bodies of public groundwater and the transfers would impair existing water rights, not be in the public's interest and would improperly modify the manner of the rights' intended use. The appeal also cited Ecology's failure to conduct an analysis of the average amount of water use from the rights over the past five years.

New Motto for Moscow

"Moscow - We Are Appealing"

Courtesy of Bill Weed, The Morning News on NewsTalk 1150, KQQQ

Timing is Everything

With nearly a foot of snow on the ground and several more inches due to fall today, Pullman continues to suffer through its snowiest winter in recent memory.

It's much more severe, however, in China, where the worst blizzards in 50 years have killed over 50 people, stranded hundreds of thousands of travelers, destroyed homes and crops, and caused widespread power blackouts that forced the Chinese premier to apologize.

However, the Alcolytes are preparing to sacrifice a goat to the God of the Boiling Planet on Thursday. According to yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
University of Idaho professor Bruce Haglund believes global climate change is more of an issue than people give it credit.

"Ninety-nine percent of scientists agree that it's happening," Haglund said. "They've been telling us this since the mid-1980s, and now we're seeing some of the more extreme consequences."

To bring attention to the issue, the UI chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students will take part in an event titled "Focus the Nation" on Wednesday and Thursday. Students and residents will be informed about the problems associated with carbon dioxide emissions from buildings and presented with viable solutions.
The weather forecast is calling for 5-12 inches of new snow on Thursday...

UPDATE: From the Janaury 30, 2008 edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The snowpack on the Palouse is the highest it's been in years, and it's about to get worse.

Meteorologist John Livingston with the National Weather Service in Spokane said a winter storm warning has been issued for a storm that could bring 4-8 more inches of snow.

The storm should start today between 8 p.m. and midnight and continue through Thursday, Livingston said. There also will be 15-20 mph winds with some gusts up to 30 mph.

Another storm is expected Saturday, but it's unclear how much snow it will bring, he said. It will likely be less severe than Thursday's storm.

Livingston said there is about 18-30 inches of snowpack in Latah County lowlands, including the 8 inches that fell during the weekend.

He said it is the most snow on the ground since the winter of 1996-1997.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Gibney, Wright apply for City Council seat"

In the fine Stalinist "progressive" tradition of upholding the First Amendment we have seen demostrated previously by David Leonard and Alex McDonald, Dave Gibney's friend, uber-nutroots Noemie Maxwell, had Blogger remove the picture of Dave at the Northwest Progressive Conference I had posted. Democrats like Peter Goldmark will never get elected in Eastern Washington as long as they are supported by snooty, intolerant, condescending, anti-Christian West Side moonbats like Maxwell. She wouldn't know anything about a "farmer's protest" if it jumped up and bit her in the ass.

You can still view it
here. Scroll to the bottom of the page. Why are liberals so camera shy?

Here's some info that wasn't included in the article below.

Dave Gibney is a former state committeeman and current Precinct Committee Officer for the Whitman County Democrats. He is also a prolific commenter on various liberal Washington blogs, such as Washblog, where he left the following comment:
I know the Young Democrats of WSU were also part if this effort, but since they are particularly politically savvy, they kept their participation in the background. The young R's here are sorta distruptive.
From Friday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Dave Gibney and Patricia A. Wright recently submitted their applications for the vacant Pullman City Council Ward 3 position.

Gibney is a systems programmer at Washington State University. He first came to Pullman as a WSU student and has remained here since 1981. He serves as treasurer of the Friends of Gladish Board of Directors.

Wright has been a Pullman resident since 1975 and recently retired as general manager of The Bookie at WSU. She sits on the boards of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and Pullman Education Foundation. She also is active in the Pullman Civil Service Commission and the Pullman Regional Hospital Auxiliary.

The council will interview candidates and choose a new member at its Feb. 5 meeting. The selected individual will take the oath of office the same evening.

The Ward 3 seat came open when it was determined that recently elected Devon Felsted would have to step down due to a conflict of interest. David Stiller, who was voted into the position in 2003, did not seek re-election.

Terence L. Day of Pullman also has applied for the Ward 3 seat.

The Ward 3 application period will close at 5 p.m. Thursday. Applicants must be registered voters over the age of 18, a Pullman resident for one year prior to appointment and reside in Ward 3, which encompasses Pioneer Hill and portions of College Hill. Interested individuals should submit a letter of application and answer a set of standard questions. Copies of those questions are available in the mayor's office in Pullman City Hall.

The Looming Dirt Shortage on the Palouse

The Palouse is running out of water, coldness, Giant Earthworms and now dirt.

Mixed Econuts: The Moonbat Open

Even after appellant Scotty Cornelius stated "I can't say it's because of anything WSU did ... There's not enough data for me to draw any conclusion." and after being eviscerated by a Palouse hydrogeology expert from the University of Idaho who testified that the golf course will not be a threat to existing wells, the attorney for the aquinuts opposing the Palouse Ridge Golf Course at WSU "said she plans to take the case to the Washington Supreme Court regardless of the outcome of the hearing." Can someone please tell me where in the hell these people are getting the money for all these lawsuits and appeals?

From last Thursday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Expert: WSU wells not threat to nearby wells

Opponents will have opportunity to rebut testimony of UI professor

A local hydrogeologist said Wednesday the well system at Washington State University should not impair the wells of neighboring domestic properties.

James Osiensky, a professor at the University of Idaho, testified on behalf of WSU and the Washington State Department of Ecology during the second day of an appeal hearing over the state's decision to allow WSU to consolidate its water rights.

The first two days of the appeal to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board took place at the Lighty Student Services building at WSU. Each side was given six hours to present testimony, and the board will render a verdict within 90 days after the hearing is complete.

That could be some time after a board decision allowing the group of appellants to provide rebuttal to Osiensky's testimony.

The appellants - the Palouse Water Conservation Network, the Palouse Group Sierra Club and Pullman-area resident Scotty Cornelius - claim the consolidation will allow the university to pump more than three times as much water per year as it currently does. They argue that the university has contributed to the dropping levels in the Grand Ronde aquifer, and point to an 18-hole golf course under construction as a project that will create more drawdown of the area's primary water source.

Cornelius, who lives outside Pullman, has said his well is decreasing at a rate of 10 inches per year.

WSU currently has the rights to operate seven wells, though two large wells pump a majority of the water needed on campus at 2,500 gallons per minute. Additional wells can be used in case of emergency.

Wednesday's testimony was dominated by expert witnesses who said measures were taken to ensure the university's consolidation would not decrease water availability on neighboring properties.

Osiensky said he has determined the drawdown of the Grand Ronde aquifer should not exceed two feet every 10 years through any combination of the university's seven wells pumping water. His research has shown that the aquifer will decrease 1.95 feet in 10 years if WSU continually pumps water. The aquifer will only decrease another half-inch in the same time frame with WSU operating its wells under the consolidation.

"Drawdown is a necessary evil," he said. "You can't get water without drawdown."

Rachael Paschal Osborn, the appellants' lead attorney, made a motion to strike Osiensky's testimony from the record. She said the respondents pulled a "bait and switch" by bringing in Osiensky when another expert witness could not take the stand due to a scheduling conflict. She added that the respondents did not disclose Osiensky's testimony and strayed from questions relevant to his deposition, which was taken last fall.

"We think allowing Dr. Osiensky's testimony is a violation " Osborne said. "They come in and it's trial by surprise."

Board members met in private to discuss the motion. Board Chairwoman Andrea McNamara Doyle said Osiensky's testimony does violate the respondent's duty to disclose, but instead of striking the testimony from the record she allowed the appellants to provide rebuttal to his testimony at a later date.

The board will have a conference call this afternoon with attorneys from both sides to set a time and place for closing arguments and the appellant's rebuttal to Osiensky's testimony.

The appellants agreed to proceed with the cross examination of Osiensky on Wednesday, questioning the equation he used to formulate the data from his testimony. They argued the method he used assumes the aquifer is not confined to an infinite area and is not isotropic or uniform in thickness, among other things - most of which do not pertain to the Grand Ronde.

Osiensky said there may be "some discrepancies" because the data used in his method was not spot-on regarding the Grand Ronde. He noted that the drawdown would be slightly more in some cases, although the "relative impact would stay the same."

Osiensky said the drawdown in Cornelius' well is a sum of drawdowns from all pump wells in the Pullman-Moscow area.

Guy Gregory, a senior hydrologist with the Department of Ecology in Spokane, testified that he did an analysis of wells that could be affected by the consolidation. He found no evidence that the change would impair the water rights of other wells.

"We know there's water in the area," he said.

Osborn said she plans to take the case to the Washington Supreme Court regardless of the outcome of the hearing.

She said the appeal in front of the board only addressed whether WSU was impairing the water rights of other residents in the region. It's on more-complex issues, such as the university allegedly "water hording" unused water rights and the interpretation of the municipal water law, that demand an appeal to a higher court.

"This isn't over," she said.

Mixed Econuts: No Growth Worms

I love this quote: "The giant Palouse earthworm and the Palouse habitats that it depends on are on the edge of extinction and will be lost forever if we don't act soon."

Is it any wonder people can't take the filthy, treehugging econuts seriously? Where is the science? We don't know where the giant Palouse earthworm's habitat is. We don't know how many there even are. They could all already be dead or there could be millions. BUT WE MUST ACT NOW AND HALT ALL DIGGING OR THEY WILL BE GONE FOREVER!!!! Everyone can see that this is a embarrasingly transparent attempt by the dopey local hippies to halt growth on the Palouse.

From last Friday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Environmental group files suit to save earthworm

Group suing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over decision not to list the giant Palouse earthworm as endangered

The battle over the giant Palouse earthworm is heading to the courts after an environmental group filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its October decision to deny protection for the worm under the Endangered Species Act.

The environmental group - which includes the Palouse Prairie Foundation, the Palouse Audubon Society, Friends of the Clearwater, the Center for Biological Diversity and three private citizens - sought protection for the earthworm in August, claiming that the threat of destruction and modification of habitat, disease and predation, the inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms, and other natural and man-made factors make the earthworm a prime candidate for the Endangered Species List.

In its denial, the Fish and Wildlife Service indicated the group's petition did not contain enough information regarding the range, distribution and population size, and that data on the earthworm was too limited to add it to the endangered list. There also was not enough data to conclude the potential threats discussed in the petition posed a risk to the existence of the species now or in the future.

In a news release issued Thursday, Friends of the Clearwater board member Steve Paulson stated there may not be much time to waste if the earthworm is to be saved.

"The giant Palouse earthworm and the Palouse habitats that it depends on are on the edge of extinction and will be lost forever if we don't act soon," Paulson stated. "The earthworm needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act to survive."

The giant Palouse earthworm is the largest and longest-lived earthworm on the continent and can reach a length of three feet. It has a pinkish-white color and is reported to have a flowery smell. It lives in permanent burrows as deep as 15 feet and has been reported to spit at attackers.

The earthworm's only known habitat is the grassland of the Palouse in west-central Idaho and southeastern Washington, much of which has been destroyed by agricultural development, invasive species and pesticides.

The earthworm was described as very abundant in 1897, but has not been sighted since May 2005. Before that, it had not been sighted since 1988.

Mixed Econuts: Unfunded Mandates

Get ready to reach into your wallets to protect the non-existent Palouse River salmon. Dino Rossi needs to clean house at the Department of Ecology after he is elected. From last Wednesday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pullman accepts state money for stormwater work

Pullman City Councilman Keith Bloom doesn't mind being a rebel.

Bloom cast the lone opposing vote Tuesday as the council voted to accept $50,000 in state funding to help the city institute elements of statewide municipal stormwater permits issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology in February 2007.

The permits have been viewed locally as a heavy-handed way to manage runoff from development and control stormwater discharges into sewer systems, with a goal of reducing pollution and contamination of downstream waters. Permits also require municipalities to manage construction stormwater, detect and eliminate illegal discharges, create good housekeeping practices for existing systems and educate the public.

The council and city staff have protested the permits because of the city's unique topography and because Pullman already has many protective measures in place.

The cost to implement the five-year permit is expected to exceed $4 million. The city was given a $75,000 grant from the state in 2007, and the council has discussed creating a stormwater utility district to help pay for the permit costs.

The city is appealing the permits along with several other members of the Washington Association of Cities.

Bloom said his opposing vote was meant to be symbolic.

"A vote 'yes' means we begin the process to raise taxes. It's blood money," he said. "It's giving us $50,000 so we can turn around and pay them $500,000 (in fees). ... I'm not going to march lock step with the DOE on this."

Public Works Director Mark Workman said the money likely will be spent to organize a fee schedule for the proposed utility district. Representatives from the city's stormwater consultant, Otak, Inc., soon will begin to evaluate the impervious surfaces on about 200 residential properties throughout Pullman. The numbers will be averaged and used to generate an Equivalent Residential Unit - a fee structure for the stormwater utility customers. Fees for industrial and commercial businesses will be tabulated individually.

The council also voted in favor of upping the city's contribution to appeal the permit to $33,333.33.

Pullman joined forces with 32 other Washington cities last year to appeal the permit, arguing it is too restrictive and goes beyond what is required by the Clean Water Act and the Ecology Construction Stormwater Permit. The city originally pledged to chip in $8,333.33 for the appeal.

Workman said the increased amount is needed for the cities to battle a cross-appeal filed by the Puget Sound Alliance, which claims the stormwater permits are not restrictive enough.

Husky Karma

Articles like this one aren't going to help the Huskies persuade Olympia to buy into their stadium scheme. And in the Seattle Times, of all newspapers!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Commissioners schedule third public meeting to discuss Hawkins proposal"

I applaud the county commissioners' efforts to clear up the misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright lies about the Hawkins bond proposal. However, I also hope that they pull the trigger quickly and not get bogged down in endless public hearings. The naysayers will only garner more press as a result, as we have seen with the WSU golf course. And private development does not have the fiat of the state government to keep things moving forward.

A comment on the Daily News website in response to Moscow Civic Association member Jack Porter's letter yesterday sums it beautifully:
What ignorant oaf first said Hawkins was looking for a subsidy and how dumb are those who keep repeating that falsehood?

Check the record. Hawkins is proposing a government entity supply it the same kind of services provided to most existing businesses within the political subdivision. For that service, it proposes to repay the capital and operating costs as well as providing a positive revenue stream into the foreseeable future through payment of taxes and fees. If the numbers available in public documents are correct, the Whitman County stands to do quite well by the deal.

Of course Mr. Porter is no ignorant fool. He's bright enough to see where a considerable sum of money which now flows into Moscow and Latah County will go and to use rhetoric proven to strike a chord with and manipulate both anti-growth activists and anti-government reactionaries.

Nice try, Jack but I think there are enough people in Whitman County who can “do the math” to win the day. Fortunately, it appears we can count our county commissioners among the enlightened.
From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Whitman County commissioners want to hear more public input before they make a decision on selling $10.5 million in bonds to cover the costs of public infrastructure at the proposed site of the Hawkins Companies' development just west of the Idaho state line.

A third public comment session is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday in the commissioner's chambers at the Whitman County Courthouse. The bonds and Hawkins' proposal to form a public/private partnership with the county for the purpose of constructing the infrastructure will be discussed.

The commissioners hoped to make a decision on the proposal Monday, but Commissioner Jerry Finch said they have decided to delay their decision after several county residents raised concerns about the development during last Tuesday's public input session.

"It was obvious after that meeting last week people had a lot of questions in their minds, and we want to clear up some of those misconceptions," Finch said.

One way the commissioners hope to clear up questions is by making a fact sheet available to the public, detailing the proposal and the county's plan.

Finch said the fact sheets should be available early next week and can be obtained by calling the courthouse at (509) 397-6200.

"Hawkins development: Residents query commissioners on public bond"

From last Thursday's Whitman County Gazette:
A standing room only crowd packed commissioners’ chambers at the county courthouse in Colfax Tuesday afternoon to gather more information on the county’s proposal to float more than $10 million in bonds to set up infrastructure at a shopping center on the Idaho stateline.

The county was asked two weeks ago by Hawkins Companies, Boise, to pay for roads, lighting and water and sewer systems for the company’s proposed 700,000 sq. ft. strip mall.

“I’m worried that we don’t have answers to specific questions, and we’re a week away from this decision,” said Pullman Resident Carol Chipman.

Most in attendance sought clarification.

Chipman asked for clarification on the company’s proposal on the bond, which delayed payment of the principle until the bonds mature.

Cheryl Morgan, also of Pullman, asked for clarification on the company’s construction cost estimates.

Hawkins Spokesman Jeff DeVoe called the bond and construction figures he put forth two weeks ago a “sketch on a bar napkin,” and not hard figures.

He said county bonding consultant Jack McLaughlin, VP of public financing for DA Davidson in Spokane, explained to him the necessity to pay a portion of the principle and interest over the term of the bonds.

DeVoe added the private-public cooperation between the company and the county has been in “infantile planning stages for a long time”.

Pullman Developer Duane Brelsford worried that obligating public funds for a private development would set a “dangerous precedent.”

Brelsford said his company, Corporate Pointe Development, has several large projects planned in and outside of Pullman.

“We’ll of course assume we would be treated the same,” he said.

Brelsford added dedicating funds to Hawkins would mean the county would have to, in fairness, extend similar cooperation to other developers looking to site in the corridor.

“If we choose to go that direction, I think we’re going to need a lot more than $10 million,” he said.

Thornton resident Carolyn Kiesz doubted the wisdom of dedicating funds to the retail development in the face of a nationwide economic slump.

“Now is not the time to encumber the taxpayer with this debt,” said Kiesz.

She suggested a manufacturing company would better benefit the regional economy, as it would close the trade gap and not encourage a shopping center filled with “cheap foreign-made goods.”

Kiesz also noted that jobs from the retail development would not pay enough to be of significant value to job-seeking residents of other parts of the county.

Morgan questioned the reasoning for the public-private partnership.

Morgan cited news accounts that said the increased costs in construction, and in the company’s pursuit of water for the site, as built-in costs the company could well have anticipated.

“They’re not new to this process,” said Morgan. “It makes me wonder if this was the whole plan in the first place.”

DeVoe replied that the lengthy appeals process over the transfer of four water rights to service the site was new to him.

“Three years ago, if you would have told me the interesting road we would have been down on the water issue, I would have laughed,” said DeVoe.

The company last July received approval from the county Water Conservancy Board to transfer four water rights.

Three of the Conservancy Board’s decisions were upheld by the state Department of Ecology, and one was denied because the DOE found the company did not adequately address pumping groundwater in drier summer months.

Hawkins has appealed that decision.

The city of Moscow appealed the other three on the basis that such a development would further drain the region’s declining aquifer levels.

Conservancy Board Chair Ed Schultz questioned the wisdom of issuing millions of dollars worth of bonds without any guarantee that the development would be supplied with water.

Next week’s announcement, Commissioner Michael Largent explained, would declare whether or not the county intends to float the bonds.

Commissioner Greg Partch explained the company must have water rights in hand and an anchor tenant committed to occupancy before the county would issue the bonds. To date, only Lowe’s home improvement stores has committed to occupy the space.

DeVoe assured the crowd that the company will not ask for the bond without water and that anchor tenant.

“If I’m a taxpayer, I’m going to ask myself, ‘what if Hawkins goes away, are we left to pay off this bond?’” he said.

DeVoe said if the company acquires the water rights, it would then donate them to the county, as state requirements prohibit a private company from providing water and sewer service.

That transfer, he added, would not be as difficult a process as the company’s pursuit.

Kiesz then asked if commissioners would be open to other types of businesses in the corridor, or if this was an effort to help out the company.

“No one else has come forward, that I know of,” said Largent. “Whether Hawkins makes a profit or not is not our concern.”

Partch said commissioners were “not married” to this project or to the Hawkins company itself.

“We are married to the corridor,” he said. “Our future is hanging out there.”

He pointed to the lengthy re-zoning of land in the corridor as proof that commissioners focused on it as their main focus in economic development. County code was shifted for more than two years to allow such zoning.

“People in the past didn’t attempt development in the corridor because they couldn’t develop anything in this county,” said Commissioner Jerry Finch.

Finch pointed to developments such as the Garage Mahal storage units and James Toyota’s planned move to the corridor from Moscow as evidence that those re-zoning efforts have paid off.

Any growth, retail or otherwise, in the corridor, Partch noted, will help to stave off the impacts of a national recession on the Palouse. He also pointed out that the county’s treasury was seriously impacted by voter-approved initiatives that removed tax revenue and limited tax increases.

“If we put together this shopping center and they do it the classy way that they do, it will set the tenor for all development in the corridor,” said Finch.

Without such a development, Finch worried that in 20 years the corridor would be filled with “ramshackle steel buildings sitting in a hodgepodge.”

"The other side of state line, and looking glass"

What an unbelievably sloppy, selective, biased and outright false editorial from Jim Fisher in today's Lewiston Tribune, even by his leftist standards. I love it when liberals start trying to lecture us on what conservatism really is all about.

Sure, a developer and Pullman businesswoman expressed reservations over the Hawkins bond proposal last Tuesday. But a developer and a Pullman businesswoman expressed support for the bond the previous Monday. And this statement by Fisher is patently false: "despite reservations from constituents who are hardly starry-eyed radicals." What the..? PARDners Chris Lupke, Don Orlich, Janet Damm, and the Liberal Women Voters are not starry-eyed radicals? How about anti-everything activist Cheryl Morgan? And let's not forget Carolyn Kiesz, who compared shopping to tuberculosis.

If the Hawkins deal falls through, development in the corridor is finished. All those who say we should stop and look back at the last 25 years will be looking at no more growth for another 25 years. I'm sorry, but I am just sick to death of all this small-minded myopia, this whole attitude of "let's go slow" and "let's not change a thing." I'm sick to death of all these petty jealousies, internecine squabbling, and the whining about "so where's my handout from the commissioners?" Some in Pullman are jealous of the county getting the development instead of Pullman.

If you ever wonder why Pullman and Whitman County are so backwards, take a look in the mirror.

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
How many Moscow residents who resent their city officials discouraging certain developments because of potential effects on the community wish today they were residents of Whitman County? There, commissioners are preparing to obligate county taxpayers to subsidize work for a private shopping center.

It is a strange kind of conservatism that proposes floating $10 million in revenue bonds to provide infrastructure for the retail development by Hawkins Companies of Boise. Yet that is what county commissioners are rushing to do, despite reservations from constituents who are hardly starry-eyed radicals.

"I'm worried that we don't have answers to specific questions, and we're a week away from this decision," Pullman business woman Carol Chipman told commissioners Tuesday afternoon, according to the Whitman County Gazette.

More pointed was the warning from Pullman developer Duane Brelsford that commissioners were preparing to set "a dangerous precedent."

Saying his Corporate Pointe Development is planning several large projects in and near Pullman, Brelsford said, "We'll of course assume we would be treated the same."

"If we choose to go that direction," he added, "I think we're going to need a lot more than $10 million."

Do commissioners believe they can say yes to an out-of-state developer's request for up-front public financing, even if it is intended to be repaid by private revenue, and then say no to such requests from within their own county?

That is a separate issue from Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney's challenge to the shopping center's water rights, some of which were transferred from the city of Colton to the proposed development on the Pullman-Moscow highway abutting the state line. Chaney says she fears the 700,000-square-foot center will deplenish underground sources of water for Moscow and the entire Palouse.

Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch blames Moscow's resistance to the development for increasing Hawkins' costs, which he says justifies using public money to provide water and sewer service to the center.

"I think in a perfect world, they should do this 100 percent on their dime," Finch has said.

The question remains, however, whether commissioners can tap taxpayers for the cost of this development and ever hope to require future projects, by Brelsford and others, to pay their own way.

Putting public dollars into private development might be considered pro-business, but it is more reflective of socialism than conservatism.

"Wrangling over water rights will move to Spokane; Mediation set in dispute over Moscow-Pullman corridor work"

Another great article from David Johnson in last Thursday's Lewiston Tribune. Johnson uncovers the Imperial Mayoralty of Queen Nancy:
MOSCOW - The politics of water will move from the Palouse to Spokane Tuesday as officials meet in a closed-door mediation session to discuss the proposed Hawkins Companies shopping center.

Hawkins, a Boise-based development company, secured water rights transfers for its 700,000-square-foot mall in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. But Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney appealed the transfers, igniting criticism the city is unjustifiably wielding legal clout across state lines.

Chaney said the appeals, which were filed with city council consent, stem from a genuine concern for the region's groundwater resources. Critics contend the mayor is more interested in stopping retail development in the corridor and elsewhere.

That view was voiced Tuesday night by developer Art Schultheis of Colton, who told Chaney and city council members that Moscow's appeals have effectively stopped housing construction in his Whitman County town. The city of Colton and Hawkins were about to exchange water rights when the appeals stopped the process.

"I'm here tonight to ask your city council of Moscow to rescind your appeal of the water rights transfer," Schultheis said.

Others, including Hawkins representatives and the Whitman County commissioners, have blasted the Moscow appeals as little more than a legal lever geared toward halting development.

Moscow City Attorney Randy Fife said Wednesday the mediation session may help iron out differences. He also confirmed the new city council could, by majority vote, simply rescind the appeals.

"As far as I'm concerned, the city of Moscow should have no standing in the state of Washington," Schultheis said.

But when it comes to water rights and resources, Fife said, laws in Washington and Idaho recognize that groundwater flows beneath borders.

"One of the problems is that it was initiated in executive session and nobody will talk about it," Schultheis said of the Moscow appeals. Fife said Chaney, under the city's strong-mayor type of government, has authority to file such appeals after seeking general agreement from council members during an executive session.

The new council, with five professed pro-development members, appears willing to continue closed door talks at least through next week's mediation session.

Overall regional water supply issues aside, Fife said Moscow is concerned specifically that the Hawkins development could have an adverse effect on a city well located near the development site.

If water supply is the real fear, critics have said, Moscow should have a moratorium on new housing developments and challenge other construction projects, such as the new Washington State University golf course, which will use much more water than the proposed Hawkins shopping mall.

Water experts have said Moscow and Pullman share underground aquifers and water levels have been dropping by about 1.5 feet annually.

Moscow hired water rights attorney Peter Scott, of Helena, Mont., as lead counsel in the appeal process. Fife estimated Scott's services are costing the city about $200 an hour. In addition to Moscow officials, representatives from Whitman County, the city of Colton, Hawkins Companies, and others are expected to attend the mediation session, Fife said, adding mediation provides a vehicle for much needed dialogue.

"Everybody has been talking about talking," Fife said. "Now Hawkins gets to sit down and tell the city what it needs and wants.".

Hawkins spokesman Jeff De Voe has said his company needs water and wants Moscow to share its municipal supply or stop interfering with attempts to secure water rights for their own wells. De Voe declined additional comment because of the pending mediation.

Mediator Cassandra Noble, of the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board, is scheduled to oversee the Tuesday session. Fife said mediation might last longer than one day and an accord won't necessarily be struck.

In addition to Chaney and himself, Fife said Councilor Wayne Krauss and Public Works Director Les McDonald are expected to attend the mediation session.

"Hawkins, Moscow will talk water"

From last Wednesday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Developer, city will try to resolve differences next week in Spokane; Whitman County residents voice concerns about plan to pay for infrastructure

Hawkins Companies representatives said Tuesday they plan to meet with officials from the city of Moscow in an attempt to resolve water-rights issues surrounding the company's plans to build a shopping center just west of the Washington-Idaho state line.

Hawkins spokesman Jeff DeVoe said Moscow is seeking mediation with the company in an effort to reach an agreement over four separate water rights that are being appealed with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

"We are willing to listen and come in with an open mind," DeVoe said after a public meeting in Colfax to discuss the proposed sale of $10.5 million in bonds to build infrastructure at the development site. "We are a shopping center developer and that's our goal. We are willing to do whatever makes sense."

Moscow City Attorney Randy Fife said the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday in Spokane.

Fife said a mediator will direct the meeting, ask questions, and offer scenarios and solutions until a resolution is reached. The Moscow City Council would have to approve the resolution before it could become official.

If a compromise or deal isn't reached, a hearing with the PCHB is scheduled to take place June 2-6 in Spokane.

During Tuesday's meeting with county commissioners, several Whitman County residents voiced their concerns over the proposed development and the county entering into a public-private partnership with Hawkins to sell bonds that would pay for public infrastructure necessary for the development. County commissioners plan to eventually pay back the bonds through property and sales taxes generated by the development.

Carolyn Kiesz said it took a lot of guts for the county commissioners to even float the idea of a bond meant to help a private corporation.

"Some of us in this county really don't want to let you get away with that," she told commissioners.

Kiesz said this is not the time for the county to potentially burden its taxpayers. The nation is facing the possibility of a recession and the development would only provide another outlet for foreign products, which means money going out of state and out of the country.

"I just don't think you should be asking for $10 million with no assurances of a return," Kiesz said.

She also said a retail shopping center would not help Whitman County reduce its high poverty rate, which is tops in the state of Washington according to recent statistics from the 2005 U.S. Census. The development would likely provide low-paying jobs and jobs to Moscow residents, and not to people in towns like Malden and Tekoa who really need jobs.

"I think you should be embarrassed" by those poverty-rate numbers, she said. "Bringing retail business is not going to fix that; bringing in manufacturing will help."

Duane Brelsford, president of Corporate Pointe Developers, said he has nothing but praise for Hawkins, but he is skeptical about providing more than $10 million for public infrastructure for the development unless the county is prepared to do the same for other developers. The cost of that would likely approach $100 million.

"I think we are setting a very dangerous precedent by providing infrastructure for this development," Brelsford said. "If we choose to go that direction I think we are going to need a lot more than $10 million because there are a lot more projects that are going in the corridor ... "

Commissioner Michael Largent said he welcomes opinions from those in favor of the bonds and those against the idea.

He also said he does not have all the answers yet, but he told people the commissioners are looking out for the public's interest.

"When we asked the public to give us their comments and start deliberating it didn't mean we had all the answers," Largent said. "Our responsibility is to the taxpayers of Whitman County and not Hawkins."

Commissioner Greg Partch stressed Whitman County would only move forward with the bonds if the deal was right for the county.

"This is not a done deal," Partch said. "We are not married to it. We are married to development on the corridor."

DeVoe added that Hawkins would not go forward with the development unless it was certain several issues - outside the control of Whitman County - could be resolved.

"Without water there is no bond," DeVoe said. "Without a tenant there is no bond and no infrastructure. We are not going to ask for a public-private partnership until those things are secured."

Commissioner Jerry Finch told meeting attendees the Hawkins development would lead to positive growth in the corridor, rather than "a hodgepodge of something we are all embarrassed with."

"I think if we put this shopping center in we will set the tenor for the whole corridor," Finch said. "If we don't, I am convinced there will be a series of steel buildings and parking lots. Whitman County and its citizens will be no better off than they are now."

Largent said the commissioners still hope to make a decision by the end of the month, but that it may be delayed if they aren't satisfied with all the information available.

Jackie Broyles For President

I've gotten past denial, negotiation and anger and I'm in the acceptance stage of dealing with Fred Thompson's withdrawal from the race for president. It's time to move on and choose another favorite. I've settled on Jackie Broyles.

Although he'll need to get over his campaign finance problems.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Bonding idea shows promise for corridor plan"

In land navigation, you orient yourself and figure out where you are standing by looking at what's around you. The same goes with politics.

To all of you Hawkins development skeptics and opponents, I realize there are still unanswered questions and the bonding proposal is not 100% risk free. But what great accomplishment has ever been obtained without risk? Do you want to be on the same side as CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) people like Chris Lupke, Don Orlich, Janet Damm, Cheryl Morgan and the Liberal Women Voters?

From last Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
It's getting closer now.

Corridor development in the past few years has gone from a subject for casual conversation to that for serious discussion.

The planning stage is next and, to that end, one of the latest ideas has positive economic potential for Whitman County and the region.

Boise-based Hawkins Companies plans to build a 700,000-square-foot retail center in the corridor along the border with Idaho.

Hawkins officials have proposed the center's infrastructure be paid by $10.5 million worth of bonds sold by the county. The money would pay for a well water system, roads, sidewalks and a sewer system. Hawkins also has stated it will build a fire station for District 12.

The resulting public-private partnership would have Hawkins constructing the infrastructure and the county purchasing it back at a predetermined price.

That's a sound idea.

Development in the corridor has been stymied by the lack of available water and sewer hookups. To extend those services from Pullman would cost millions per mile.

Most developers and business owners can't afford to foot that kind of bill, and Moscow thus far has not indicated an official willingness to sell those services across the state line.

For the past few years much has been debated about how to proceed with economic growth on the Palouse: some want to control it, some want to encourage it and still others want to find a middle ground.

The Pullman-Moscow corridor will be developed - it's just a matter of time.

Hawkins Companies has the ability to see its development to fruition. The result will be that economic boom many look for in the terms of jobs, tax revenues and money spent on the Palouse.

There are many hurdles left in the process and more opportunities for the public and entities to share input. The dialogue should be extensive - surprises tend to alienate people, and we all know what transpires when that happens.

Nothing is perfect. The bonding plan has a slight risk but such projects rarely fail. And this is a risk worth taking.

Giving Back

I haven't seen any letters to the editor from the PARDners concerning this story. There too busy mounting a fake campaign of impotent outrage against the Hawkins development. From last Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Moscow Wal-Mart donated $10,000 on Monday to the Central Lions Club of Moscow to help develop the club's playground project.

The money was from winning a regional Wal-Mart sales contest during October.

The contest involved the sale of environmentally friendly products: CFL light bulbs, water filters and concentrated laundry detergent. The Moscow Wal-Mart sold $12,000 worth of the bulbs during the contest as well as $8,550 worth of filters and $8,532 in detergent.

"We have a bunch of different people and organizations that come in for grants and we pretty much give to everyone who asks," said assistant manager Holly Zumhofe. "We chose the Lions because they were working on a playground at the fairgrounds."

The money will allow the Lions Club to complete Phase 2 of the playground located in Lions Park at the Latah County Fairgrounds.

Phase 2 playground equipment will be designed for toddlers through age 5 and for disabled children.

Phase 1 of the playground was completed last June and is designed for children 6 and older.

"We didn't know if we would be able to do (Phase 2) this year and Wal-Mart came forward and said, 'we liked what you did last year' and gave us the money," said Jim DeShazer, Central Lions Club president.

Phase 2 will be completed in June. The community is invited to participate in the Build Day as they did for the first phase. Work will be done on a Saturday to be announced at a later date. About 109 community members participated in Phase 1.

Lions Club members will do the preparation work and perform the annual maintenance to keep the playground safe.

Area Eagle Scouts will install benches around the playground so parents can rest and watch their children.

January 24 Republican Debate Report Card

Mark Halperin, political correspondent for Time magazine, has another report card on the January 24 GOP candidates MSNBC debate in Boca Raton, FL.

Mitt Romney
Grade: A-

Despite months of floundering, and his unofficial coronation as Most Unpopular by the media and his rivals, Romney is suddenly re-energized. Buoyed by his Michigan win, his delegate count, his promising poll numbers and a chaotic economy that boosts his CEO platform, Romney came out strong, unapologetic and on message. The man l-o-v-e-s to talk about the economy and it shows. Was less on edge—and less edgy—than in the last few debates, and settled comfortably into the 'looks and sounds like a president' zone that is one of his chief assets. Swiftly back-pedalled from a too-pointed barb about Bill Clinton, transforming his response into a crowd-pleasing poke at Hillary Clinton. Seemed to anticipate an eventual one-on-one contest with McCain, and displayed the confidence of a man who feels certain he has a spot in the finals. Bottom line: Benefited more than anyone else from the oddly low-key nature of a high-stakes forum.

John McCain
Grade: B+

Sober or grim? You make the call. Handled some early light jabs from questioners and rivals with ease, although he fumbled a bit when apparently denying his own quote about lacking economic expertise. Eagerly welcomed another opportunity to rhetorically run against Hillary Clinton on Iraq. To his great benefit, his elegant, vital, and sharp-tongued mother was more prominently referenced than either Clinton, and he charmingly parried a question about her televised comment that he had limited support from the Republican Party. Graciously offered unsolicited praise of Giuliani's 9/11 record. Overall, though, was too often tense and forced in his delivery, rather than presenting himself as the happy warrior with a frontrunner's breeze at his back.

Rudy Giuliani
Grade: B-

As always, showed up without any strategy to win—on the night he most needed to win big. Offered shrewd, vigorous answers but without a schematic purpose that would define a rationale and theme for his candidacy. Nevertheless, he was a cool customer, with the same unflappable, calm delivery he has presented in every debate for nearly a year, regardless of polls, news-of-day, or media expectations. That persona was good when he was the national frontrunner, but on the eve of the most important election of his presidential career, it just wasn't good enough.

Mike Huckabee
Grade: B-

Low-key to the point of soporific. His patented one-liners did not seem to win over this audience as they had past debate audiences, although he kept on zipping and zinging whenever possible. Seemed to be playing out the string as a sidekick and quipster rather than a man who won Iowa three weeks ago.

Ron Paul
Grade: C

Did not stand out as a rousing alternative to the establishment, unlike in past debates. Didn't pick fights, wasn't the target of attacks—and launched no dramatic speeches, passionate outrage, or singular ideas. As always, however, he struck a chord with the anti-war wing of the party whenever he mentioned Iraq.

Chris Lupke: Working Class Hero

Fear not, gentle reader, The PARD of Avon is back. He wrote the following on the Daily News website last Friday:
I am pleased to see Alice Schroeder speak out against this ill-conceived plan to prop up the Hawkins Project on the back of Whitman county residents. It was shocking to me to read the coverage in this newspaper that mis-lead the reader to believe that residents support this boondoggle. There has been one half-hour meeting and another is scheduled for next week. Both are in Colfax. For those of us who work for a living, it is difficult to take time out of the middle of the work day to drive so far. But even if we did, what is the message being sent by the county government by scheduling only a half-hour for such a meeting?
Apparently, however, working stiff tenured professor Lupke did find the time to take out of his busy work day to drive home this afternoon and post this on the Daily News website at 1:19 PM (ironically, the approximate starting time of the first hearing in Colfax on Hawkins):

I'm still waiting for you to publicly reconcile a government handout to the Hawkins corporation with your expressed libertarian beliefs.

The good news is that after a small amount of fanfare by a couple radicals and the conservative editorial board of this paper, it now looks certain that this half-baked idea is going nowhere. It is even being vocally opposed by major, local developers, because it unfairly supports one corporate interest while ignoring local businesses in Pullman and the county who could use the subsidy too.

Of course, there are other problems with the project too.
I am assuming, of course, that Lupke, taxpayer champion that he is, drove home to post his personal political views from his own computer rather than utilizing the taxpayer-funded network and computer provided to him by WSU.

Say What? Part Three

Does anyone who attended Tuesday's Whitman County Commissioners meeting know if any of the no-growth moonbat PARDners actually showed up to comment, or are they just going to content themselves with chucking arrows from the sidelines? I guess there is no union willing to haul Hawkins Companies into court, which just makes them powerless, insignificant buzzing little gnats in this case:
If you lived in Whitman county and you knew that your tax dollars were subsidizing sprawl, you would likely feel differently about the matter.
- PARDner Chris Lupke, online comment at Moscow-Pullman Daily News website, January 22, 2008
Mr. Forbes insinuates that I am left wing and maybe even a communist, but what he fails to point out is that I have previously advocated encouraging Costco to build in Pullman. This would make a lot more retail sense to me than Wal-Mart. That being said, many people in the community actually stand to the left of me on this issue, opposing any further big box development at all. This illustrates the fact that actually I am in the mainstream not on the radical left, as Mr. Forbes’ so desperately wishes to paint me.
- PARDner Chris Lupke, online comment at Moscow-Pullman Daily News website, November 29, 2007
To that end, we should develop a regional plan for retail growth that attracts Moscow residents to Pullman not because we wish to replicate them but, as the C.L.U.E. study concludes, because we are adding new and unique “products and services not currently available within the region.”
- PARDner Chris Lupke, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, June 16, 2006

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Say What? Part Two

We don't want any of our tax money subsidizing development, retail or housing.
- PARDners Janet and Leroy Damm, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 21, 2008
An interesting idea that emerged from the discussion was that of a community trust that could work with groups like the Community Action Center to help families in Pullman find homes in their price range, keeping these homes in trust to ensure that when the owners decide to move, these homes remain affordable. It’s a win for the community, a win for the home owners and a win for Pullman.
- Deirdre Rogers, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, December 14, 2007
Susie Law-Godat, with the Portland Community Land Trust, discussed how the program helps provide people with home owner opportunities in the Portland-area. Through the program, people purchase their homes but the agency owns the land.

The idea, she said, is to keep the land to be used for affordable housing.

"It's a lot of bang for your buck," she said. "It's a great way to keep your subsidy in the same property."

Because the agency owns the land, the family's mortgage payments are lower. When and if a family decides to move, they often have acquired enough equity that they can purchase a home on the open market.
- "PARD forum tackles issue of affordable housing in Pullman," Moscow-Pullman Daily News, November 30, 2007

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Say What? Part One

Break out your shovels and hip waders. The PARDners are at it again, this time going after the Hawkins corridor development:
The "2006 Idaho Job Gap Report" noted that a living wage in Idaho for a family of three is $22.23 per hour. No business associated with Hawkins will ever pay that hourly wage. Again, there is no addition to the overall economy.
- PARDner Don Orlich, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 24, 2008
I also have been asked the question, “If Target was planning to build in Pullman would there be the same opposition?” The answer is no. I think Pullman would welcome Target with open arms.
- PARDner Leilani Alamillo, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, January 11, 2006
A Target, if of modest size and located away from Bishop Boulevard, will cause far less disruption and will actually accomplish the stated goal of super-center backers to bring people in from Moscow and even Lewiston.
- PARDner TV Reed, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, November 2, 2005
Target pays between $6.25 an hour to $8 an hour for entry-level, hourly positions in its Twin Cities stores, according to a recent survey of local Target workers by the UFCW. That's in line with what Wal-Mart pays in this market, though some starting-level Wal-Mart workers can earn $9 to $10 an hour, the UFCW said.

Both companies offer health care insurance to employees, but Target's is considered more restrictive. Two years ago, Target dropped health care insurance coverage for all part-time workers. By contrast, Wal-Mart makes its medical plan available to all workers, full- and part-time.

Union groups that have analyzed the two companies' policies maintain that Wal-Mart's also is more equitable.

All Wal-Mart's employees, from store cashiers to chief executive Lee Scott, are covered under the same medical plan. All employees can choose from the same four deductible options and receive unlimited coverage for catastrophic expenses -- such as organ transplants or cancer treatments -- that can financially ruin an employee.

Target, however, offers multiple health care plans to its employees that vary by geographic location, according to the company's employee handbook. At Target, store employees do not receive catastrophic coverage and deductible levels vary, according to former and current employees.

Wal-Mart estimates that 56 percent of its employees receive health care coverage. Target declined to disclose its percentage of insured workers, but the UFCW estimates based on surveys of Twin Cities employees that less than half the company's workers receive coverage under its plan.
- Chris Serres, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, May 22, 2005

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Wal-Mart Trying To Buy Favor With The Left

However well intentioned they are, Wal-Mart is deluding itself if it thinks that the angry left will be mollified with gestures like this. They will only smell blood in the water.

Wal-Mart chief pledges higher prices for sustainable suppliers

By Dominique Patton
24/01/2008- The chief executive of the world's biggest retailer yesterday promised to favour suppliers providing high quality and ethically sourced products.

Wal-Mart will launch a major retail-industry effort to improve social, ethical and environmental standards in the factories of its suppliers, CEO and president Lee Scott told a meeting of store managers.

"The drive will see the retailer favour - and in some cases even pay more - for suppliers that meet our standards and share our commitment to quality and sustainability".

"Paying more in the short term for quality will mean paying less in the long term as a company. Higher quality products will mean better value, fewer problems, fewer returns and greater trust with our customers," Scott told the audience.

But the firm will also raise the bar for suppliers on sustainable sourcing, putting pressure on them to provide evidence that they are meeting ethical and quality criteria.

Wal-Mart says it is already demanding that some of its suppliers demonstrate that their factories meet specific environmental, social and quality standards and this will increase in coming years. It will also make certification and compliance part of its supplier agreements and ask suppliers to report on their activities regularly.

"Any supplier that fails to keep its word will be required to take prompt and serious action. If a supplier fails to improve and fix the problem, we will stop working with that supplier," said Scott.

The speech comes after a series of recalls linked to products made in China have made consumers increasingly aware of risks associated with a global supply chain. Scott said he would also put pressure on Chinese suppliers to comply with environmental regulations.

He also called on all major global retailers to join Wal-Mart and CIES, the global retail and consumer goods network, in its effort to improve sustainable sourcing and pledged to meet with CEOs of its competitors to make socially and environmentally responsible sourcing a reality across the entire retail industry.

The speech also included commitments to a reduction in energy use of 25 percent on products sold in the store. Wal-Mart plans to increase its sourcing of products that are more energy efficient but also more affordable. Coming months will see the US retailer asking suppliers to reduce prices on energy-saving items, with the goal of doubling the sale of products that help make homes more energy efficient, according to the chief executive.

It will also take the lead on informing customers about the energy required to make and use more energy-intensive products.

"Our customers want products that make them feel good about their purchases," said Scott. "They want to walk into our stores and be confident that the products on our shelves are safe and durable. They also want products that are made in a way that is consistent with their own personal values."

I expect to hear Hillary Clinton or the Breck girl taking credit for this, just as Hillary took credit for the success of the surge.