Wednesday, December 28, 2011

McMorris Rodgers loses her district

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 3:27 PM

OK. Not really. She's only losing part of her district.

A bipartisan plan on how to fit 10 congressional districts into our tiny state was unveiled today, and some big changes are in store for our congresswoman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. As she faces re-election this year, she'll have less land to roam around in.

Here's what the state's districts have looked like for the past decade: 


Here's what they'll look like starting next year:


The reason for the change is the bump in population reflected in the recent Census. Most of the growth was on the West Side, which is the reason for that strange Eighth District crawling over the Cascades. (Spokane's City Council districts, and the boundaries for county commissioners, are also changing.)

It's unclear how the change will affect the voting patterns of McMorris Rodgers district, but a quick read could say the proportion of left-leaning voters might have increased a smidge. But given the congresswoman's blowout wins the last couple of cycles, she's probably safe. 

(Images from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Idaho senator named one of the "Ultra-Rich Congresspeople" who represents one of the "Most Financially Screwed Districts"

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Yesterday, we blogged about the wealth of Washington's Congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican who represents Eastern Washington, is the second richest politician Washington state sends to Washington, D.C. 

We neglected to talk about Idaho's pols. Thankfully, Alternet put out a little story ranking the richest electeds in the nation's poorest districts. Idaho Sen. James Risch, a Republican, placed fifth.

Here's their write up: 

Sen. James E. Risch, Republican, Idaho

Risch was elected to replace the disgraced Senator Larry Craig (who was arrested for soliciting in an airport bathroom). He's the 16th richest member of Congress, with an average net worth of $54,088,026. A longtime politician and former Idaho governor, Risch apparently came to his wealth through his time as a lawyer. According to the Spokesman-Review, “Risch is well-known in Idaho as a self-made millionaire who built a fortune as one of the state’s most successful trial lawyers while also building a political career as a longtime state senator from Boise.”

Meanwhile, back in Idaho, 15.7 percent of the population are living in poverty, including 80,316 children. Thirty-two percent of the state's Native American population also fall beneath the poverty line. The median household income is only $43,490, and only 1.8 percent make more than $200,000. Ten percent of Idaho's civilian labor force is unemployed, and 12.5 percent were on food stamps at some point in the last year.

Wow: $54 million. Nice work, Mr. Richy Risch.

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Happy Hour

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 11:38 AM


Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)

Dewey's Burgers and Brew, in North Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 2-6 pm. Specials include: $.50 off domestic drafts, including Coors Light and Blue Moon, and $.50 off wells.

John's Alley, in Moscow, serves up happy hour from 2-7 pm. Specials include: $1.50 PBR and Rainier pints and $2.50 domestic pints.

Monterey Café, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include: half priced appetizers and $1 off all drinks.

Rock Bar and Lounge, in Spokane Valley, celebrates happy hour from 4-6 pm. Specials include: any two domestics, including drafts, bottles or cans, for $3.

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Our top stories and blogs from 2011

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM


Most-Viewed Stories

1. Project Censored (Sept. 28) — The truthseekers at Sonoma State University dish on soldier deaths, prison companies, nuclear power and more.

2. Off the Bus (Nov. 2) — Three transexual Spokane teens are kicked off an STA bus for discussing sexuality. (STA apologizes after our story runs.)

3. Elkfest 2011 (June 1) — The starting lineup for the Browne's Addition party, which featured Crickets of Cascadia, Strength, Sallie Ford and more

4. Best of Food and Drink (March 23) — Our readers' picks for the best sushi, pizza, wings and everything else

5. Eating Cheap in the Inland Northwest (Jan. 26) — The scoop on 42 new eateries

Most-Viewed Blogs

1. Spokane River Bigfoot sighting (May 24) — Luke Baumgarten explores video of a local 'Squatch sighting

2. Sasquatch Line-Up Revealed (Feb. 7)

3. Empyrean is closing (Jan. 3) — One of Spokane's hardest-working local-music venues calls it quits

4. The problem with Fringe (May 4) — Daniel Walters gets critical

5. Rod Stewart's son playing for the Chiefs (Sept. 22) — How the hell did Liam Stewart end up in Spokane? (And does he know now the things that Rod knew when he was younger?)


These three blogs from 2010 actually garnered more hits than many of our 2011 posts.

Ah, Hillyard (July 21, 2010) — In which I have a freaky bike accident in Hillyard, bad-mouth the neighborhood in frustration and never hear the end of it.

New Year's Resolutions for TV show writers (Dec. 29, 2010) — Daniel Walters, looking forward

Menu Porn: Sushi Maru (Dec. 12, 2010) — People were apparently really psyched about this place opening at RPS (or was it just the "porn" in the title?)

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Morning Briefing: Car vs. house, bleak Spokane jobs report

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Around Town

Car drives into Spokane house (KXLY) 

Spokistan, er Spokane, has worst new jobs outlook in nation (KREM) 

Spokane rower one boat ride from the Olympics (SR) 

Out There

GOP dishes out the religious lingo in presidential race (NYT) 

Under Obama, a deadly drone network grows (WashPo) 

What's up with Sexonomics? (Chronicle of Higher Ed)


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'We're rich!' say our Congress members

Posted on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM


The big news over the weekend came from the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which did big stories on the wealth gap between members of Congress and the people who elect them.

The gap, in a word, is GINORMOUS. They are nine times richer than the typical voter who elects them. They are part of the one percent.

The reasons for this gap are many, but it comes down to a couple of things, says the Times. First, running a campaign can be prohibitively expensive, thus chasing away the poorer fools who want to go to D.C. Second, members of Congress — surprise — have inside information and great connections. 

The richest member of the entire Congress is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is worth more than $220 million. But he is far from the only millionaire. Nearly half of Congress is made up of millionaires — 250 in all. (See a fancy graphic at The Atlantic.)

Of course, the context to all of this is the current push by conservatives to cut spending on social programs for the needy, and by liberals to put a heftier tax on millionaires. 

But where do Washington's elected officials fit in? Seattle Weekly crunched the numbers and figured out that our Congressional delegation is worth at least $10 million collectively.  

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, tops the list. Not a shocker there, since she touted her private sector success when she first ran for Congress. She's worth more than $3 million. (Or as much as $7.5 million. Members don't have to give exact numbers of their wealth. Just a range.)

The second richest member of Congress from Washington is our very own Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican whose wealth spiked when she married Brian Rodgers. She could be worth as much as $2.2 million. 

The poorest member of the delegation is freshman Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Camas who once worked for McMorris Rodgers. Herrera Beutler listed assets at less than $15,000.

Give her some time in Congress. She'll be doing fine in no time. 

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Morning Briefing: Five dead in holiday accidents. Oh, and a machete assault

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Around Town

Five in Inland NW dead in holiday accidents (SR)

Mayor David Condon will be sworn in Friday (KREM) 

Jesus, Moses Lake man, assaulted with machete (KXLY) 

Out There

 GOP presidential race in Iowa still up for grabs (NY Times)

 Snow owls are all the rage in Washington (Seattle Times)

 Why is Madame Tussauds' wax museum so popular? (Prospect)

From your lips to God's ears, brother (or sister) 

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Ski Trip Memories

Posted By on Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM


It's this time of year where I remember back to my only family Christmas ski vacation.  It was December 1989.  I was a freshman in high school.  My family had moved to the suburbs of Chicago two years prior from the foothills of Mt. Hood outside of Portland.  While living in Oregon, I had been introduced to skiing, hiking and the wilderness but in those first two years living in the midwest, I had quickly transformed into a 'flatlander'.  

For my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, my Dad took us on a family ski vacation to Panorama Mountain Village in British Columbia.  Our journey began one early morning flying out of O'Hare International in Chicago, over to Seattle where we would be joined by my Aunt and cousins then on to Moses Lake to pick up my other Aunt and Grandparents.  There were 11 family members in total.  Our caravan would eventually land us at Panorama where we had a condo waiting upon our arrival.

As I am writing this over 20 years later, memories are starting to pop back up about that trip; the Panorama Springs hot pools, listening to the "Moonstruck' Soundtrack on repeat during the entirety of the trip, the day trip to Banff and the first and only time I attempted snowboarding - my cousin, Stephen, got one for Christmas so we all tried to descend outside the condo on a snow covered golf course, crashing and burning several times over the course of the 25 yards.

A ski vacation isn't a ski vacation unless there is skiing involved so one day was spent at Panorama.  There might have been additional days for my cousins and siblings but for me, I only remember one day.  As I recall, it started off casual.  I was a little intimidated by loading a 4-person chairlift.  I had never seen one of these before and wasn't too comfortable with the idea of having someone on both sides of me.  This became apparent when I went to unload the chair.  When my nerves got the best of me, I thought it was a good idea to take my Dad down with me.  So, there I was, my first experience skiing in the Canadian Rockies, and there my Dad and I are, laying on the ramp with ski gear intertwined.  My Dad was less than stoked.  Still, to this day, less than stoked. 

The day got better as I started to feel good and found my comfort zone.  As the day was nearing to an end and all the cousins, siblings, Dad and Aunt got back together, the suggestion of 'going to the top' came up and I was convinced that I was proficient enough to be able to descend down from the top.  Trusting this was the case, I clicked back into my skis and loaded the chair with my family.

A little back story on the day.  I had been skiing on the bunny hill under low cloud cover.  I had no concept of what an inversion was or what might be up there except for more clouds.  As the chairlift made it's way over the terrain I had been skiing and through the clouds, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of what was above the inversion.  A cloud layer that looked like a white sea that was complimented with some of the most amazing mountain peaks I had ever seen.  The chair went forever and finally I was informed it was time to unload.  So I did.  Unfortunately, the beauty of what surrounded me also intimidated me.  I couldn't see the bottom.  I had gone from skiing a 'green circle' all morning to having only one 'blue square' and several 'black diamond' options.  Needless to say, I was scared stiff.  The memory still holds pretty clear in my mind but there are certainly details that have been forgotten.  Mainly how many turns I attempted before I finally took my skis off and started walking down the mountain.   To this day, my Dad likes to remind me of that adventure.  Me, walking down the mountain, grasping my rental skis and poles.

Over 20 years later and this memory is vivid.  Every day there is an inversion, I think about it.  Every year when I see the arrival of families from all over the country unloading their cars on the start of their ski vacations, I think about it.  Every time I see an intimidated skier attempting to walk down a slope greater than their ability, I think about it.  But mostly, every time I think about it, I think about the time that was shared with family and the memories that were created and now remembered on my first, and only, family holiday ski vacation.   

Enjoy your holidays and may you create memories that will last a lifetime. 

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Friday, December 23, 2011

HUMOR US: This Weekend in Comedy

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Woe are we, for this weekend appears to be particularly bleak (comedically speaking) as venues have shut down in honor of Christmas eve. As if the holidays don't attack the very fibers of our being enough, now we have a surplus of unwanted crocheted items and no way to make laughs.

What the hell.

So it looks like you have two entire options for this weekend, both tonight. They are as follows: 

The Season's Greetings show at the Blue Door, which should be pretty sweet for any and all lovers of improv. Show starts at 8 pm, and prices are $7-$9. Oh, and if you're struggling for last minute gifts, we should mention that the Blue Door is selling special gift tickets as stocking stuffers. They're $6, which you may notice is much cheaper than their regular tickets, and they're good for ANY Blue Door production. Pretty sweet stuff. Call them at 747-7045 for the deetz.

In a show that, now that we think about it, may rectify the entire weekend being void of other comedy, Mr. Tom Meisfjord will be performing with fellow Rube Goldberg Device comedians Jason Komm and Will Gilman at Uncle D's. They've got a special "holiday-ish" show planned, which means the whole thing should be totally awesome. Go at 8 pm, pay $10 and weave yourself a protective blanket of hilarity enough to last you through the weekend. It works; it's science. 
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The Washington State's $100,000 Indonesian Celebrity Chef Show makes The Wastebook

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Republicans love filling speeches with little outrageous tidbits about the ways they say the federal government is wasting taxpayer money. In fact, Tom Coburn, Oklahoma's Republican senator, put out something called The Wastebook: A  Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low-Priority Government Spending of 2011.

And, No. 12 on the list of 100, after “Video Game Preservation” and before the “Remake of Sesame Street for Pakistan,” is an entry decrying $100,000 in federal money being spent for fruit growers to put on a celebrity chef show in Indonesia. That $100,000 is given to the Washington State Fruit Commission, in Yakima, Wash.

Celebrity chefs, The Wastebook argues, don’t necessarily spur economic growth. And Indonesia, it says citing the Center for Tropical Fruit Studies at Bogor Agriculture University, already produces twice the amount of fruit that the country consumes — and most Indonesians prefer bananas to apples, pears or cherries.

But B.J. Thurlby, from the Washington State Fruit Commission lays out the plan for the show in more detail. The celebrity chefs wouldn’t be Emeril or Wolfgang Puck or Anthony Bourdain — they’d be local Indonesian chefs. They’d be partnering with the Washington Apple Commission, and the Pear Bureau Northwest, providing money for those celebrity chefs to give high-end cooking demos for cherries, apples and pears in Indonesian grocery chains. The money came from the federal farm bill funds, but those funds have been distributed through the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Indonesia is one of the four fastest growing middle-classes in the world. Last year, Thurlby adds, Washington state shipped 2.8 million boxes of apples and 30,000 boxes of pears to Indonesia, but only a mere 2,500 boxes of cherries.

“If you were to look at an economic model, and the trickle down effects of exporting, it’s an incredible lift to the U.S. economy,” Thurlby says. “For every box of cherries we export, by the time we deliver it, we create $11 of tax revenue.”

He hopes that in total the demonstrations will add an additional 50,000 boxes of Washington fruit exported to Indonesia a year.

He says he understands Coburn’s criticism. Budgetary times are tough, and if this funding is cut, “so be it.” Yet, he thinks that the Indonesian chef shows will use the money effectively. Washington has the types of specialty crops that can use advertising, he says. (The state is the No. 1 producer of cherries, for example.)

“One of the things that I know about Oklahoma, I look at what they’re exporting,” Thurlby says. “It’s pretty limited. They don’t have many specialty crops.”

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