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Hockinson, Ridgefield schools consider levies
Author: Columbian staff writer

Two Clark County school boards next week will consider putting school funding levies on an upcoming ballot, including one whose voters just rejected the same measures.

Hockinson and Ridgefield school districts’ school boards will consider placing educational program and operations levies on an upcoming ballot, and Hockinson will consider an additional technology levy.

Hockinson voters just rejected an operations levy, with 47.4 casting ballots in favor of the three-year replacement levy. Levies require a simple majority to pass. The district was seeking $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value, which the district said would maintain small class sizes, fund special education programs and support extracurricular activities.

Voters also said “no” to a technology levy, with 46 percent of votes favoring the three-year levy. The levy, which would have started in 2020, asked for about 40 cents per $1,000 in assessed value for technology improvements, safety upgrades and heating and cooling improvements.

Superintendent Sandra Yager said in January that if this latest batch of levies failed, the rural district could face budget cuts. There are about 2,000 students in the school district.

Hockinson did not release details of what its latest ask would entail, but under state law, local operations levies are capped at $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value.

Ridgefield’s proposed three-year levy would start in 2020, replacing the district’s existing levy. That measure, if approved, would also collect $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value from district property owners.

Ridgefield voters just rejected a school bond that would have paid for the construction of new facilities, but bonds and levies provide different streams of revenue for different expenses.

According to a news release, the district will use levy funds to pay for expenses that exceed what the state funds, including professional development for teachers, classroom support, extracurricular activities and early childhood education.

“The operations levy is vital to the successful operation of the district,” Superintendent Nathan McCann said in a district news release. “Renewal of levy funding ensures that we can continue to deliver the comprehensive, high-quality education expected by our students and families.”

Levies require a simple majority to pass.

The Ridgefield School District Board of Directors will meet 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center, 510 Pioneer St., Ridgefield. The Hockinson School District Board of Directors will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at district offices, 17912 N.E. 159th St., Brush Prairie.

Still Importing Steel Despite Tariff
Author: RICHARD LARDNER and LARRY FENN, RICHARD LARDNER and LARRY FENN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade, his administration has granted hundreds of companies permission to import millions of tons of steel made in China, Japan and other countries without paying the hefty tariff he put in place to protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The waivers from the import tax show how pliable his protectionist policies can be. Trump has positioned himself as an “America First” trade warrior, using tariffs as a club against countries he’s accused of playing unfairly. Although China has been the principal target of Trump’s ire, he also has criticized Japan and American allies in Europe.

“I love tariffs, but I also love them to negotiate,” Trump said Friday during a Rose Garden news conference.

Behind the scenes, however, his Commerce Department approved tariff exemption requests from 370 companies for up to 4.1 million tons of foreign steel, with roughly 8 percent of the total coming from China and close to 30 percent from Japan, according to AP’s review of thousands of applications for relief from the import tax on steel. Many recipients of the waivers are subsidiaries of foreign-owned businesses.

Although Trump has sought to rebuild America’s steel industry by curbing imports, tariffs are fraught with economic risk — a message that came through loud and clear in many of the waiver applications. Companies that use steel in their products warned the Commerce Department that the 25 percent tariff could do serious damage to their businesses.

The numbers also provide a window into a steel tariff exemption program that has vexed many applicants as well as lawmakers who’ve questioned the pace, transparency and fairness of the process. The flood of applications overwhelmed the system the department set up nearly a year ago to review them, and more than 38,000 requests still await rulings.

The Commerce Department has received waiver applications from 45 states and Puerto Rico, evidence of the geographic range of companies angling for exemptions.

Tioga Pipe in Philadelphia, which supplies a variety of industrial customers with pipe, fittings and flanges, received approval to import as much as 86,500 tons of Chinese steel duty free; that was the most of any company with approved waivers. Tioga did not return calls and emails seeking comment, but its applications indicate the material isn’t available from domestic suppliers in the sizes and shapes it needs.

DS Containers, a subsidiary of Japan’s Daiwa Can, makes aerosol and liquid pour cans at factories in Illinois using laminated tin-free steel that U.S. suppliers have shown no interest in manufacturing, CEO Bill Smith told the Commerce Department. Smith received the go-ahead to import up to 390,000 tons of the material from Japan, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. If the waivers had not been granted, Smith warned, DS Containers might have been forced to shut down production lines or lay off employees.

A 25 percent tariff “is a very heavy burden on any company,” Smith told AP last year.

The department declined interview requests. A spokesman said in an emailed statement that exemptions can be approved if the department determines the metal “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality or should be excluded based upon specific national security considerations.”

Overall, the department has so far approved nearly 14,000 requests for exemption from the steel duty, with 59 percent of the total going to firms with a foreign corporate parent. Most of the waivers last for a year. More than 4,400 applications were denied.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who this month declared herself a Democratic candidate for president in 2020, told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in late October that giving exemptions to foreign-owned businesses “appears to be massive loophole.” The purpose of tariffs, she said, is to benefit U.S. manufacturing, not undermine it.

Warren said in a statement to AP that Trump “claims to be implementing trade policies that put America first, but here’s what the data show: this administration is handing out special tariff exemptions to foreign-owned companies at the expense of American companies.”

9/11 fund running out of money
Author: KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press

NEW YORK — The compensation fund for victims of 9/11 is running out of money and will cut future payments by 50 to 70 percent, officials announced Friday.

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund special master Rupa Bhattacharyya said she was “painfully aware of the inequity of the situation” but stressed that awarding some funds for every valid claim would be preferable to sending some legitimate claimants away empty-handed. “I could not abide a plan that would at the end of the day leave some claimants uncompensated,” Bhattacharyya said.

Nearly 40,000 people have applied to the federal fund for people with illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pa., after the 2001 terror attacks there, and about 19,000 of those claims are pending. Nearly $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.3 billion fund.

Bhattacharyya said fund officials estimate it would take another $5 billion to pay pending claims and the claims that officials anticipate will be submitted before the fund’s December 2020 deadline.

Absent that funding, officials determined that pending claims submitted by Feb. 1 would be paid at 50 percent of their prior value. Valid claims received after that date will be paid at just 30 percent.

Members of Congress responded to Friday’s announcement by vowing to reauthorize the compensation fund.

“This is devastating news to the thousands of sick and injured 9/11 responders and survivors who were promised, and have been counting on, being fully compensated for the losses they have suffered,” Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney and Republican Peter King said in a statement.

They said they would introduce legislation to make the compensation fund permanent and to compensate all legitimate claimants. “Our bill would restore any cuts to awards, ensure that future eligible recipients are fully compensated, and make the VCF program permanent,” the lawmakers said.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, said the fund is supposed to provide “peace of mind to those sickened after the horrific attack.”

“For too many, ailments and disease from exposure to that toxic airborne brew have taken years to show up and — as the need for the fund grows — the chance it may not have adequate resources to take care of our heroes is just unacceptable,” Schumer said in a statement.

In the 17 years since, many have seen their health decline, some with respiratory or digestive-system ailments that appeared almost immediately, others with illnesses that developed as they aged, including cancer.

Will the 2020 census ask about citizenship?
Author: MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will decide whether the 2020 census can include a question about citizenship that could affect the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal money.

The justices agreed Friday to a speedy review of a lower court ruling that has so far blocked the Trump administration from adding the citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950.

Both the administration and opponents of the question agreed the court should settle the matter quickly because census forms need to be printed soon.

Arguments will take place in late April. A decision should come by late June.

The case pits the administration against immigrant advocacy organizations and Democratic-led states, cities and counties that argue the citizenship question is intended to discourage the participation of minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats from filling out census forms.

The challengers say they would get less federal money and fewer seats in Congress if the census asks about citizenship because people with noncitizens in their households would be less likely to fill out their census forms.

The Constitution requires a census count every 10 years. A question about citizenship had once been common, but it has not been asked of every household since 1950. At the moment, the question is part of a detailed annual sample of a small chunk of the population, the American Community Survey.

The case stems from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision in 2018 to add a citizenship question to the next census, over the advice of career officials at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. At the time, Ross said he was responding to a Justice Department request to ask about citizenship in order to improve enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York ruled in January that the question could not be included, saying that fewer people would respond to the census and that the process Ross used was faulty.

Former Mass. Gov. William Weld explores GOP bid
Author: The Associated Press

Several Democratic presidential candidates are spending the long holiday weekend on the campaign trail, while a Republican has announced he’s creating an exploratory committee for a possible 2020 run.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California are visiting early voting states on Friday that will be critical to securing the Democratic nomination next year.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, said Friday that he was considering challenging President Donald Trump in a 2020 Republican primary.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand, in New Hampshire, participated in a walking tour of downtown Concord before visiting businesses in Dover and meeting members of the LGBT community in Somersworth.

On Friday, she called Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border “inappropriate” and said Trump manufactured a crisis to justify the move.

The only national emergency, she said, “is the humanitarian crisis that President Trump has created at our border from separating family from children and treating people who need our help inhumanely.”

Kamala Harris

Harris, who is campaigning in South Carolina, visited Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the 2015 shooting that killed nine African-American churchgoers.

Speaking to reporters after a lunchtime stop, Harris said she’d visited the church, known as Mother Emanuel, earlier Friday and called it a “very tragic symbol of failure of people, in particular in the United States Congress, to pass smart gun safety laws.”

At a town hall in North Charleston later Friday, the scoreboard overhead in the gymnasium was changed to reflect the date of South Carolina’s Democratic primary: Feb. 29, 2020. Harris talked about the bill that the Senate passed this week that would explicitly make lynching a federal crime. .

William Weld

Weld, who is little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP, announced the creation of an exploratory committee for president on Friday.

The move makes Trump the first incumbent president since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.

Weld served as Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997 and was popular despite being a Republican in a heavily Democratic state.

Bills address Native disappearances
Author: MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lawmakers in at least seven states have introduced legislation to address the unsolved deaths and disappearances of numerous Native American women and girls.

The legislation calls for state-funded task forces and other actions amid deepening concerns that law enforcement agencies lack the data and resources to understand the scope of the crisis .

On some reservations, federal studies have shown Native American women are killed at more than 10 times the national average.

“This is not about a trend that is popular this year,” said state Rep. Derrick Lente, a Democrat who is co-sponsoring a measure in New Mexico. “It’s really to bring to light the number of indigenous people who are going missing.”

An Associated Press review of the bills found that mostly Native American lawmakers in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona have sponsored measures on the issue.

In AP interviews last year, families described feeling dismissed after initially reporting cases of missing female relatives to police. An examination of records found there was no single government database tracking all known cases of missing Native American women.

In Montana, a bill named for Hanna Harris — a 21-year-old found slain on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in July 2013 — proposes that state authorities hire a specialist responsible for entering cases into databases.

Under Hanna’s Act, the state Department of Justice employee would also serve as a liaison for tribal, federal and state authorities and families after a Native American is reported missing.

“To us we’ve seen study bill after study bill,” said Rep. Rae Peppers, a Democrat. “Why waste money on a study bill when the issue was right in front of us?”

Peppers, whose district spans the Northern Cheyenne and Crow reservations, lives in Lame Deer, a small community where Harris’ body was found days after she was first reported missing.

Peppers said she and other lawmakers decided to name the measure for Harris in part because her mother had led an early push for more awareness of the cases.

Other cases in Peppers’ rural district include the death of 14-year-old Henny Scott. Her body was found by a search party two weeks after she went missing in December.

Harris and Scott’s families complained authorities were slow to search for the victims after they were reported missing.

“It’s always been this way. We’ve always had missing women and children,” Peppers said. “The voices are just louder now.”

In New Mexico, Lente said his measure would call for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department to lead a task force joined by authorities across jurisdictions.

The legislation was welcomed by Meskee Yatsayte, an advocate in New Mexico for families with missing loved ones on the Navajo Nation. She said she hoped lawmakers and officials would include victims’ families and advocates in their discussions.

“It’s a good step forward,” Yatsayte said. “But it can’t be something where they meet and then nothing is done about it.”

Bills in South Dakota and North Dakota include mandates for law enforcement training programs on conducting investigations.

Rep. Tamara St. John, a South Dakota Republican and member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, said she’s co-sponsoring the measure to put a spotlight on the cases.

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, a Washington state Republican, introduced a bill signed into law last year that requires the Washington State Patrol to provide an estimate by June of how many Native women are missing in the state. That measure paved the way for similar legislation in other states.

This year she proposed another measure that would require the state patrol to have two liaisons on staff to serve tribes seeking information about cases.

“I truly believe this is an intense emergency and we have to put this on the front burner,” Mosbrucker said in a committee hearing late Tuesday.

Section of Northwest Pacific Highway near La Center caves in
Author: Columbian staff writer

A small stretch of Northwest Pacific Highway near La Center gradually caved in last week, creating a traffic nuisance for, likely, the next several months.

The roughly 100-foot portion of the highway just north of Northwest Wellman Road closed Tuesday afternoon after snow and heavy rain caused a washout underneath the road. A 17-foot gap opened between the thin layer of pavement above and rushing water below, before some of it finally caved in Thursday, according to Clark County Public Works.

“This is a significant road, and it is a significant closure. It’s going to take time to fix,” Clark County Public Works spokesman Jeff Mize said. “It will have a significant affect on the surrounding community.”

Concrete panels kept the road intact, but it was sinking before Thursday, Mize said.

The county is still deciding how to fix the road. A 30-inch culvert that currently sits under it will likely be replaced with a bigger one, leading to a longer time frame than was announced Tuesday, Mize said.

“We are moving toward a complete fix rather than a temporary fix,” Mize said. “A permanent rebuild would be far less disruptive on the community, as well as a better use of public resources.”

That will likely increase emergency response times for residents living near a 3-mile span of the highway north and west of the closure.

Clark County Fire & Rescue’s La Center station is located southwest about 2 miles away — a roughly five-minute drive. To reach houses just north and west of the damaged road, responders from the station would need to use an alternative route, adding at least another 10 minutes, Chief John Nohr said.

With the closure, a unit from Woodland will likely be the first to arrive in emergencies, but the response time will still be at least three minutes longer, Nohr said.

“If we’ve got critical patients, that really puts us in a bad spot,” Nohr said. “It’s a low call volume area, but it still means that (a handful of) calls may be affected by that. If you’re one of the folks living on a road affected by a lot of that, it would be important to you, I think.”

For those driving southbound into the area, Northwest Eddy Rock Road is the last place to turn before coming to the closed section. For northbound traffic, Northwest Wellman Road is the final turning point.

Concrete barriers, barricades, cones and hazard tape are blocking off the area. While onlookers have ventured there to survey the damage, it is not recommended due to the unstable surface, Mize said.

 

Curry family reunion an All-Star affair
Author: STEVE REED, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dell Curry looks forward to those nights when he can open a bottle of wine, take a seat on his recliner in front of the fireplace alongside wife Sonya and watch their NBA sons play basketball simultaneously on two large-screen television sets in his living room.

Those are the nights he has to pinch himself realizing how blessed his family is.

Everyone in the Curry clan has been pinching themselves lately; the family has been downright giddy about NBA All-Star Weekend.

“It’s going to be incredible,” said Curry, a former NBA player and color commentator for the Hornets TV network who still lives in Charlotte. “It’s going to be a mini family reunion.”

There will be plenty of fellowshipping in Charlotte, including family dinners and group outings. Of course there also will be a little basketball. Stephen and Seth Curry will be returning to their hometown for the festivities. Stephen, a two-time league MVP, will join younger brother Seth in the 3-point shootout Saturday night at the Spectrum Center and then play in his sixth straight All-Star game Sunday.

“This just has the feel of the Curry family All-Star weekend,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

The fact that Seth is involved makes it extra special. Stephen said that the family group text was “buzzing” when everyone learned Seth was invited to compete in the 3-point contest.

The Currys have been prepping for this weekend for months.

Sonya is taking care of the family’s logistics, including tickets, travel plans and hotel reservations. On top of the invite list are the boys’ grandmothers, who haven’t been to an All-Star weekend since Dell competed in the 3-point shootout in Orlando in 1992.

“It was very important to us that they were here to see this,” Dell said.

Former coaches including Davidson’s Bob McKillop and other family friends will be there, too.

The NBA is accommodating the Currys with extra tickets, knowing how big of a weekend it is for the family. Stephen has his own guest list — separate from the rest of the family — and hopes to limit it to 30 people.

“I want you to write that loud and clear so you can help me keep the list small,” Stephen said with a laugh.

Most of the out-of-towners will be staying in a downtown Charlotte hotel, and Dell and Sonya are considering bunking there, too, so they can be close to everyone and not miss a minute.

“I want to see my grandchildren as much as possible,” Dell said.

Stephen and Seth arrived Thursday together in Charlotte after Seth’s Trail Blazers hosted Stephen’s Warriors on Wednesday night in Portland.

Their families came here, too.

Stephen is married to Ayesha and the couple has three children. Seth has a child with Callie Rivers, the daughter of NBA coach Doc Rivers. And the players’ sister, Sydell, who recently married Stephen’s Warriors’ teammate Damion Lee, a two-way player with Golden State, will be in town, too.

The Curry family has a community event planned in Charlotte in association with Stephen’s partnership with Under Armour.

“We want to give back and remind people, hey, this is where they were raised,” Dell said. “We want to make this a special weekend.”

One of the highlights of the Curry family reunion weekend might be the 3-point shootout where the highly competitive brothers will square off against each other on a national stage.

Trash talking is almost sure to be part of the event.

Dell doesn’t know what to expect once his sons take the floor. He said both are equally competitive, whether it’s on the golf course or at family get-togethers.

“At my daughter’s wedding we played Liar’s Dice for about two hours and that was the most competitive thing I have seen in a long time,” Dell said with a laugh. “Anytime there is a game that somebody has to win or lose, you can’t give anyone the edge as to who is more competitive. We all are competitive.”

Added Seth: “I’m trying to win it, so I’m going to target everybody. It should be very entertaining to watch us both shoot out there. But I gotta beat everybody, not just him, to win it.”

Warriors All-Star guard Klay Thompson said he decided not to participate in the 3-point shootout this year simply so he could just sit back and “be a fan” and watch the Currys go at it.

For Stephen, the whole idea of the amped-up circus-like atmosphere that is looming has him excited about the weekend.

“It will be a packed house with our family supporting us for sure,” Stephen said.

“It’s rare when we are all together during basketball season,” Seth said. “So to have everyone there, it’s always fun. It’ll be a good weekend.”

Speed cited in 3-vehicle crash on Interstate 205
Author: Jerzy Shedlock

A distracted driver was speeding when she rear-ended another vehicle on Interstate 205, causing a three-vehicle crash, according to Washington State Patrol.

Arzoo Ghadami, 25, was cited for driving too fast for conditions, according to a WSP crash memo.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, Ghadami was driving a silver Toyota Camry in the southbound lanes of the freeway near the state Highway 14 exit when she crashed into a gray Subaru Tribeca that had slowed for traffic. Then, a blue Toyota RAV-4 SUV slammed into the back of Ghadami’s car, troopers said.

Ghadami “was distracted and exceeding a reasonably safe speed,” troopers said.

She was injured in the crash and taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. A hospital spokesperson said Friday that she was treated and released.

The other drivers were uninjured.

NYT Politics

Mueller’s Office Recommends Paul Manafort Serve Up to 25 Years in Prison
Author: SHARON LaFRANIERE
Federal prosecutors, who also recommended Mr. Manafort pay up to $25 million in fines, said that a tax and bank fraud scheme allowed him to hide millions of dollars in “ill-gotten gains.”

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