Jessica Robinson

Inland Northwest Correspondent

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to racial tolerance in small towns, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping communities east of the Cascades.

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network team, Jessica was the news director of Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon, where she produced a newsmagazine on Northern California and Southern Oregon. In 2010, she took a year to study Spanish in central Mexico and reported for an English–language newspaper in San Miguel de Allende. Jessica's stories for radio and print have earned awards from the Associated Press, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc.

A Northwest native, Jessica grew up in an off–the–grid log cabin in the Columbia River Gorge. These days, when she's not agonizing over the perfect piece of tape, Jessica enjoys camping and hiking, amateur photography, and learning the etymology of words.

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Gonzaga Grad Speaker
4:33 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Tutu To Speak At Gonzaga Graduation Despite Alumni Petition

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Photo courtesy Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

The president of Gonzaga University in Spokane is defending the choice of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the school’s commencement speaker next month. Some alumni say Tutu’s positions on social issues make him an inappropriate choice for the Catholic school.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu has expressed support for abortion rights, contraception, same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Next month, he’s slated to receive an honorary law degree at Gonzaga’s graduation ceremony.

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Selenium Pollution
5:58 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Two-Headed Trout Spur Scrutiny Of Mine Pollution

A study commissioned by the J.R. Simplot Company on selenium contamination in creeks in southeast Idaho includes photos of deformed Yellowstone cutthroat trout (top) and brown trout (bottom).
Photos courtesy J.R. Simplot Idaho DEQ

Here’s an image you usually don’t see without the help of Photoshop: two-headed fish. Pictures of deformed baby trout with two heads show up in a study of creeks in a remote part of southeast Idaho. The study examined the effects of a contaminant called selenium. It comes from a nearby mine owned by the agribusiness giant, J.R. Simplot. Critics say the two-headed trout have implications beyond a couple of Idaho creeks. Jessica Robinson reports.

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Wolf Poaching
6:24 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Washington Couple Plead Guilty In Wolf Poaching Scheme

A couple from Twisp, Wash., has accepted a plea deal in a wolf poaching case. Under the agreement with federal prosecutors, Tom White and his wife will not face jail time. Jessica Robinson reports.

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KKK Mailing
6:07 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Lawmaker Uses KKK Mailing To Discuss Bigotry In Idaho

Idaho State Representative Cherie Buckner-Webb.
Photo credit: Buckner-Webb campaign Northwest News Network

The African-American lawmaker in Idaho who received a flier from the KKK says she’s using the incident as an opportunity to talk about bigotry in the state. State representative Cherie Buckner-Webb and four other Idaho lawmakers have reported getting the mailings at home.

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Idaho Representative/Tax Evader
6:31 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Idaho Lawmaker Is Tax Crusader To Some, Tax Dodger To Feds

Idaho Representative R- Phil Hart is in danger of the U.S. Justice Department foreclosing on his home near Athol, Idaho.
Photo credit: Idaho House of Representatives Northwest News Network

ATHOL, Idaho -- Tax evasion will get you into hot water with the IRS. But in north Idaho, it won’t necessarily spell the end of your political career. A Republican state legislator who believes the federal income tax is unconstitutional is battling charges of tax evasion, even as he seeks reelection.

The federal government says Phil Hart owes more than $500,ooo in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. The U.S. Justice Department is threatening to foreclose on his home near Athol, Idaho if he doesn’t pay up. Meanwhile, Idaho tax collectors say Hart owes the state another $53,000.

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Tribal/Fed Settlement
6:00 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Non-Monetary Benefits A Big Part Of $1Billion Tribal Settlement

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the settlement Wednesday of breach-of-trust lawsuits filed by 41 American Indian tribes against the United States.
Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Justice. U.S. Dept. of Justice.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- A landmark settlement announced this week between the federal government and American Indian tribes is expected to have long-term effects beyond the $1 billion in the agreement. Nine Northwest tribes are part of the deal: Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock, Colville, Spokane, Tulalip, Makah, Nooksack, Swinomish.

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WSU Sociologist Smartgrid
3:49 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Why A Sociologist Is Part Of Building A Better Power Grid

A new research center at Washington State University will look for ways to modernize the country’s aging electric grid.
Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Energy Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Energy

PULLMAN, Wash -- Washington State University announced it’s created a new research center. It will look for ways to bring the country’s aging electricity system in line with 21st century power needs. Besides experts in energy and computer science, the assembled team of researchers includes sociologists and psychologists.

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Northwest Flu Season
6:23 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Flu Season Hangs On In NW, As Seen In Your Web Searches

Colorized negative stained transmission electron micrograph of the influenza virus.
Photo credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Photo courtesy CDC

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Flu season is hanging on longer than usual in parts of the Northwest say health officials. That’s shown in cases of the flu and also via web searches. Google queries for terms like “muscle aches,” ”flu symptoms” and “thermometer” are being used to track where flu is hitting now.

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Cheese Recall
5:26 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

FDA Shuts Down Del Bueno Cheese Producer

Del Bueno’s queso fresco was recalled in 2010.
Photo Credit: FDA.gov

The Food and Drug Administration has shut down a family-owned Mexican style cheese producer in Washington. FDA inspectors say Del Bueno isn’t doing enough to prevent Listeria contamination in its products, even after several recalls. Del Bueno distributes a variety of cheeses to Hispanic food stores across Eastern Washington, the Seattle area, and parts of Oregon.

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Mapping While Driving
3:40 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

No More Texting, But What About Mapping While Driving?

Idaho has joined Oregon and Washington in outlawing texting while driving.
Photo credit: Kevin Mooney Northwest News Network

Beginning this summer, texting will be illegal for drivers across all three Northwest states. Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a bill Thursday that outlaws texting while driving on Idaho roads. But in the age of the smartphone, text messages aren’t the only distraction on the tiny screen. Jessica Robinson looked into what else falls under the ban.

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