Midday Scan: Reardon's lame excuses; the Canada conundrum; a farewell to Joan Thomas

Aaron Reardon won't own up to cellphone records' implications; Joel Connelly thinks we're giving Canada too much cred; Washington loses an environmental icon.

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A Chinook salmon. (U.S. Geological Survey)

Aaron Reardon won't own up to cellphone records' implications; Joel Connelly thinks we're giving Canada too much cred; Washington loses an environmental icon.

The criminal investigation of Snohomish County Executive, Aaron Reardon, is reducible to an iconic line from the 1933 Marx brothers' film, Duck Soup. "Who are you going to believe," Chico said, "me or your own eyes?"  

As the Everett Herald's Noah Haglund and Scott North write, the ongoing investigation has uncovered evidence that Reardon used his county cellphone to make hundreds of election-related calls. "Patrol investigators likely will pore over the phone records, which cover 2008 through last month, looking for evidence that Reardon had repeated contact with a woman who has claimed she accompanied him on out-of-town trips that he said were for county business," Haglund and North write. "The phone records show hundreds of calls and text messages between Reardon and key members of his political campaign over the past year." Reardon doesn't deny the facts, only the connect-the-dots inference.

"I only used the county phone when I had to reschedule. I didn't use it in any campaign at all," Reardon said. Alas, Reardon's denials run counter to Chico's your-own-eyes dictum. "Throughout 2011, Reardon exchanged 109 calls or texts with the Nashville, Tenn., media-strategy firm Fletcher Rowley, which produced withering attack ads directed at Reardon's campaign opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens," Haglund and North write. "Reardon said those calls also were for scheduling purposes only and that substantive campaign work would have involved more time. However, the cellphone records show calls with the campaign consultant lasting up to 43 minutes in August."

The Reardon investigation tracks the story arc of a predictable, fall-from-grace narrative. Northwesterners forgive mistakes. Lying to avoid acknowledging those mistakes? Not so much.  

The Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly is a born-again Cold Warrior, applying a Reagan axiom to the always wily Canadians: Trust but verify. Continuing his spot-on, comprehensive coverage regarding infectious salmon anemia (ISA), Connelly dons his editorial hat. "Marching in lockstep with the salmon-farming industry, the Canadian government has a record of acting, well, fishy," Connelly writes. "When President Obama meets Prime Minister Stephen Harper next Wednesday, the U.S. should ask for: a) immediate creation of an international evaluation board consisting of governments, fishers, and Native groups;  b) testing of salmon up and down the West Coast, in waters of both countries; and c) unrestricted testing by scientists of sample fish taken from salmon farms." 

The renewed vigilance and recommended bird-dogging flow from Canada's denial last week of any confirmed ISA cases in farmed or wild salmon. Connelly cites an earlier statement from U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, Lisa Murkowski, and Mark Begich that "we should not rely on another government — particularly that may have a motive to misrepresent its findings — to determine how we assess the risk ISAV may pose to American fishery jobs." Canada is not the axis of salmon evil, but this virus could be a ticking bomb. "This is not a fish story; it is a fishy story. Salmon that spawn in Alaskan and West Coast rivers commingle with B.C. runs that swim through narrow passages past pens of the Broughton Archipelago and Campbell River," Connelly writes. "The need for verification trumps trust."  

Not all mail service is equal, even if universal service and uniform rates are commonly accepted. As this morning's Anchorage Daily News reports, the Alaska Congressional delegation has come out swinging against a federal report critical of the state's bypass-mail program. As the paper explains, "The bypass mail system uses commercial air carriers in Alaska to ship mail and commodities to rural communities at subsidized rates. The report said the Postal Service lost $73 million on bypass mail last fiscal year and has little means to control costs." The members reject the idea that bypass mail generates a false demand for airline service.

The feds had the temerity to tread on an Alaska sacrament — the state's oil windfall. "The delegation also questioned the suggestion that the state use its $40 billion Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for bypass mail or improve ground and air infrastructure. Alaska already spends $33 million annually to maintain the rural airport system, the delegation noted."  

There are sensible, compelling arguments to ban plastic bags. The challenge, however, revolves around timing, adaptability, and the perennial, "Aren't there more important things to worry about?" question. As Lynn Thompson writes in this morning's Seattle Times, "opponents of the ban, including the plastics industry and some independent grocery stores, say plastic bags represent a fraction of the litter that ends up in the water. What's more, they argue, plastic bags are convenient, reusable and recyclable."

Hopefully this debate won't devolve into a toothless or heavy-on-symbolism final proposal. Seattle-ites, battered by the Great Recession, are less patient with otherwise well-intentioned brainstorms. Citizens, at least, will have a say. "The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Monday night on the proposal to ban plastic carryout bags from grocery and retail stores. The bill also would impose a nickel fee on paper bags to offset the higher cost of paper to stores and to remind shoppers to bring in reusable bags," Thompson writes. 

Lastly, the Northwest has lost a legendary environmentalist and public citizen in Joan Thomas. As the Seattle Times Lynda Mapes writes, "Mrs. Thomas' legacy is both broad and deep. With the Washington Environmental Council she helped expand state water law to enable protection of flows for fish and wildlife all over the state." It's a remarkable legacy of service, all the more so because, as Mapes writes, "For all her accomplishments, she eschewed titles, recognition, or even credit, preferring instead to just get the work done, those who knew her best said." An example and a lesson for all of us.        

Link Summary

Everett Herald, "Aaron Reardon used county phone for campaign-related calls, records show"

Seattlepi.com, "No virus in salmon: Canada's claim needs U.S. verification"

Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska delegation calls bypass mail report inaccurate" 

Seattle Times, "Ban plastic bags in Seattle? Fight heats up"

Seattle Times, "Joan Thomas, 80, steward of the environment" 


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson