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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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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Other News
9:35 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Sun Valley becomes hub for healing vets through sports

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 5:34 pm

KETCHUM, Idaho - A ceremony in Sochi, Russia a few days ago started the one year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games. Here in the Northwest, the Sun Valley, Idaho ski team has set a goal to get at least six of its skiers or snowboarders on Team USA in Sochi.

The Paralympic Games for physically disabled athletes follow right after the Olympics. That U.S. team will also likely have lots of Northwest ties. Sun Valley is developing a reputation for uncovering exceptional paraplegic and amputee athletes through programs geared toward injured veterans.

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Other News
9:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

The journey from soldier, to double-amputee, to pro athlete

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 3:39 pm

KETCHUM, Idaho - A winter's worth of racing and training for the best disabled skiers and shooters culminates later this month at the Paralympic Nordic World Championships in Sweden. For the first time, the U.S. team headed to the competition is made up entirely of disabled veterans. It's a good example of how some wounded soldiers are finding a new mission and purpose.

Sun Valley, Idaho has become a hub for healing veterans through sports and one ex-soldier went from infantryman to badly wounded warrior to pro athlete.

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Food
1:54 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Local dogs earn their keep sniffing out truffles

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:36 am

TURNER, Ore. - When a dog finds its first truffle -- the fungus, not the chocolate candy -- the sound you hear will most likely be the voice of a very excited dog handler.

And you might be as excited as Mia MacCollin of Bend if your pet showed an aptitude to find buried treasure. And treasure it is. The native Oregon white truffle can fetch several hundred dollars per pound at retail.

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Business
8:41 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Northwest On Verge Of Becoming Pacific Crude Oil Gateway

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 7:19 pm

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Northwest is on the verge of becoming a gateway for crude oil. Three different developers have plans to use docks on Grays Harbor, Washington to transfer crude oil from trains to ships. Other projects are getting off the ground in Tacoma, Vancouver, B.C. and on the lower Columbia River.

There was a huge turnout Wednesday night at an introductory public workshop in Aberdeen, Washington. The response indicates crude-by-rail may be the region’s next big environmental controversy.

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Other News
4:33 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Women soldiers reflect on new army career options

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:53 pm


JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.


Army Spc. Heidi Olson received a Purple Heart last year for shrapnel injuries she got during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. She feels she's earned the right to call herself a combat medic.


"Originally as a female, I wasn't allowed to be titled as a combat medic," Olson says. "It was a 'health care specialist.'"

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Environment
11:49 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Authorities seek tougher penalties for false labeling of fish

Tom Banse Northwest News Network


OLYMPIA, Wash. - When you order that special filet at a restaurant or store, you're often going on trust that the fish actually is what the menu or label says it is. In Washington, two state agencies are asking for tougher penalties to deter seafood fraud.


Investigators for Consumer Reports recently found more than one-fifth of the fish they submitted for DNA identification was mislabeled at the point of sale.


Washington Fish and Wildlife police deputy chief Mike Cenci says the penalties for false labeling need to be stronger.

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