Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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FAA Furloughs
12:01 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Alaska Air CEO calls FAA furloughs 'unfathomable'

Gordon Werner Flickr

The head of Alaska Airlines has choice words for the air traffic controller furloughs that started Sunday.

Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden on Thursday called the travel impact of automatic federal budget cuts "unfathomable."

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U.S.-Canada border
4:03 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

U.S. border agents to work on Canadian soil for pilot project

A CBP UH-60 Blackhawk flies over the northern border in Washington State near Canada.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The federal government announced a pilot project Wednesday to pre-inspect some trucks before they cross into the U.S. from Canada.

The proposed project will have U.S. officers working on Canadian soil. The ultimate goal is to reduce congestion and wait times at busy border crossings.

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New White Pages Policy
4:07 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Wash. hangs up on mandatory delivery of White Pages

File image
Life On 45 Flickr

Utility regulators on Tuesday ordered an end to the automatic delivery of White Pages phone books to Washington households.  

For decades, Western states commonly required their local phone companies to deliver a phone book to each landline customer. But telecom companies contend most consumers no longer want a printed copy of the White Pages dropped on their doorsteps.

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sequester
5:00 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Some Northwest cities explore ways to keep airport control towers open

Control towers at 13 small to medium sized airports across the Northwest are slated for closure by mid-June.
Beth Redfield Northwest News Network

Some Northwest cities and counties are exploring whether to use local or private money to keep their airport control towers open. By mid-June, the federal government plans to close the control towers at 13 small to medium sized airports across the region.

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Arts
6:00 am
Sun March 17, 2013

Laura the Luthier kept Gibson strumming during WWII

This 1944 staff portrait piqued author John Thomas' curiosity.

During World War II, a popular song called "Rosie the Riveter" turned female assembly workers into icons.  Women filled in at places like the Boeing airplane factory in Seattle and the Kaiser shipyards in Portland while the men went off to war. 

But one famous guitar company allegedly tried to hide the fact that it was using female replacements to keep making its musical instruments. Now, seven decades later, a Portland guitarist is helping tell that story.

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sequester
5:30 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Sequester suspends tuition assistance for troops

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 3:13 pm

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Defense Department has suspended a workplace benefit cherished by many soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. The agency has put tuition assistance on indefinite hold because of the automatic federal budget cuts known as the "sequester."

The paychecks of active duty military are exempt from the across-the-board federal budget cuts. But some of their fringe benefits are not, as we're now finding out.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I Corps Command Sergeant Major John Troxell says the suspension of tuition assistance stings.

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Politics
3:36 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Iranian-Americans test political 'glass ceiling'

Washington Legislature

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 10:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In the decades since the Iranian Revolution, immigrants from there have made it to the corner offices of corporate America, academia and Hollywood. But they're largely absent from the political scene.

In the U.S., the highest ranking Iranian-American elected official is a freshman state representative from suburban Seattle. But his heritage is not the only thing worth noticing about Representative Cyrus Habib.

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Tsunami
9:15 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Did 2011 Japan tsunami change preparedness on our coast?

Oregon Emergency Management Division

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 2:59 pm

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

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Other News
3:22 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Washington records unusually strong job gains in January

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state of Washington recorded unusually strong job gains in January. That's according to new numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department. A regular survey of businesses found more than 24,000 new jobs created.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, says there's evidence of gathering "momentum" in the economy. But the January job gains are so strong, he doesn't quite believe them.

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Other News
5:10 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Regional airlines intend to keep flying if control towers close

Beth Redfield


According to an airport industry association, control towers at 14 small to medium sized airports around the Northwest will close on April 1 in response to automatic federal budget cuts: Four in Idaho and five each in Oregon and Washington. But regional airlines intend to keep flying to those cities they now serve.

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Business
6:05 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

One Grain Exporter Reaches Labor Deal; Picket Lines At Another

Colin Fogarty Northwest News Network

There are several new developments Wednesday in a long-running labor dispute between unionized longshoremen and Northwest grain terminal operators. One grain exporter announced it reached a contract agreement, while another locked out its union workers after discovering what it called sabotage.

Picket lines sprung up almost immediately in front of the United Grain terminal at the Port of Vancouver, Washington. This, after the terminal operator notified the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 of a lock out.

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Education
4:59 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Universities Say Research Funding Cuts May Bring Job Cuts

Jimmy Emerson Flickr

The Northwest's public universities pull in massive amounts of federal research dollars. It totaled $1 billion last year at the University of Washington. Oregon State University won close to $200 million in federal research funds. The University of Idaho is counting on $100 million this year. So it's no surprise that university administrators are hanging on every scrap of news about imminent automatic federal budget cuts.

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Politics
3:32 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Local effects of automatic federal budget cuts hazy

I Corps, US Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect on Friday, March 1. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone.

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Law
8:34 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Self-driving cars can't be driverless under proposed state laws

Google

OLYMPIA, Wash. - What if you could just start your car, tell it where you want to go and then sit back and relax until you get there? Well, Google and many automobile manufacturers are hard at work on self-driving "robocars." Now lawmakers in Salem and Olympia are trying to figure out how to update the rules-of-the-road to keep pace with the cars of the future. But automakers are flashing a stop sign, saying it's too soon for new regulation.

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Environment
4:32 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Structural engineers developing tsunami design code for coastal buildings

Ecola Architects, PC

SEATTLE - Building codes cover fire prevention, energy efficiency, and seismic safety among other things. Now a group of civil engineers from around the West is developing additions to the code to cover the threat of a tsunami.

Kent Yu of Degenkolb Engineers in Portland is one of the members of an American Society of Civil Engineers subcommittee drafting standards for "tsunami loads and effects."

"I think it is going to help make our communities more resilient."

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