Archive for November, 2005

Nov 29 2005

From the other side of the world

Published by under Oregon

Not too often does the Arabic news agency al-Jazeerah take note of Northwest figures. It did in this passage from an opinion piece posted today:

The strategy to militarize the country is moving forward as planned despite apparent setbacks in Iraq. As the Washington Post reported on Nov. 27 the Dept of Defense is expanding its domestic surveillance activity to allow Pentagon spies to track down and “investigate crimes within the United States”.

An alarmed Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said, “We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without a congressional hearing”.

Is this the first time that the naïve Wyden realized that the war on terror is actually directed at the American people?

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Nov 29 2005

Courier

Published by under Idaho,Oregon

On the senator’s part, he’s just doing what senators usually do by way of passing along information. The question is, why is Senator Larry Craig – and no doubt he isn’t the only 0ne in this position – being used by federal agencies as bearers of bad tidings?

Larry Scott of VA Watchdog, who lives in Washington and is heard on Portland radio, has a peculiar story to tell. Here’s an excerpt from his post on Op-Ed News.com: Continue Reading »

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Nov 29 2005

Who cares about campaign money

Published by under Oregon

The traditional take on the p0litics of campaign finances is that most people don’t care where the money for their candidates is coming from, and that it will not likely affect their vote.

If that is beginning to change – this being a debatable proposition – blogs could be one of the key reasons why.

Jim FeldkampBroadcast news media seldom mention campaign finances at all, as a matter of specifics about specific candidates. Newspapers sometimes note the totals, and occasionally list a major donor or two, but that’s generally as far as it goes.

Some of the political blogs, however, have been digging deeper. Now, today, we’re seeing specific impact affecting a substantial candidacy.

The candidacy is that of Republican Jim Feldkamp, who is rerunning his 2004 matchup against long-time Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio. Feldkamp is an underdog, but he has started early and apparently has been working hard. And fundraising hard; and maybe a bit incautiously. Continue Reading »

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Nov 28 2005

The new(er) Aspen

Published by under Idaho

The comparison of Ketchum/Sun Valley to their peer ski resort towns – Jackson, Aspen, Park City, Telluride, and others – is no new thing. But the specific head-to0head comparison between K/SV and the “granddaddy” of these places – Aspen, Colorado – gets a good going over in the Idaho Mountain Express.

Basic conclusion: The parallels aren’t perfect, but yeah, they have a whole lot in common.

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Nov 27 2005

Whose quality of life?

Published by under Idaho,Washington

And sometimes you just drop your jaw however much you may expect it. Such as the instance of an immigrant family settled into Cataldo, Idaho from Yakima, Washington, moved there for reasons having little to do with “quality of life” – at least, as most people are led to understand it. Next time you hear someone say they’ve come to Idaho for the “quality of life,” ask for a definition: Some people view it differently than others.

The facts apparently are not at issue. Dotys, who have become a cause celebre in some circles, have seven children, and they run a house-moving business. The interaction of the two is the issue: Two of the older children, Zach, 13 (when the dispute began) and Stephen, 11, were put to work as employees, operating heavy machinery such as bulldozers and backhoes. They also were assigned to ride on top of houses moving down the road, to push low-hanging electric power and telephone lines out of the way. All of this is part of the home schooling (you were expecting that, weren’t you?) which is the education for all seven children.

Washington officials had a few problems with this, including violations of child labor laws and failure to pay worker compensation insurance, and fined Jude Doty $100,000. Doty’s response was to contest the fine, and decamp to Cataldo. There – Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas is quoted as saying – the state simply doesn’t regulate child labor in businesses which take in less than $500,000 in revenue annually and operate entirely within the state. The Dotys are free in Idaho, to put their pre-adolescent kids befhind the controls of heavy machinery, balancing on the roofs of houses moving down the highway while handling high-voltage power lines.

Unregulated free enterprise in action. Continue Reading »

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Nov 25 2005

Dicks’ Murtha moment

Published by under Washington

The significance of the U.S. House firestorm over Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha, a generally hawkish Democrat who has proposed a six-month pullout from Iraq, hits home in today’s Seattle Times piece on Norm Dicks.

Norm DicksDicks, who has been representing a southwest Puget Sound area (roughly centered on Kitsap County) in the House since 1976, has long fit much of the same description as Murtha: A liberal out of the old Henry Jackson mold, strongly pro-military and not particularly averse to approving military action. His district, packed with military installations, is a match. He is one of those Democrats respected by Republicans, and who has long worked smoothly with Republican as well as Democratic administrations (like not only Jackson but also his old boss, Senator Warren Magnuson); he long has been one of the most keenly effective, if headline-quiet, members of the Northwest delegation.

He is a long stretch from a Democrat like Representative Jim McDermott, the Seattle liberal who opposed the Iraq war before it began; Dicks’ friends are people like Murtha, and Dicks voted to authorize the war. The Times piece recounts how, as the House exploded in anger over stands on the war, Dicks sat with Murtha in the clockroom, and reflected on how things had come to this. Continue Reading »

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Nov 23 2005

Wash

Published by under Oregon

In partisan terms, you can call the latest Oregon legislative announcements as more or less a wash.

The least surprising was Senator Rick Metsger’s statement that he won’t run for governor, but would seek to stay in the Senate. Metsger would have been a long-shot, especially with his late announcement of interest and the pleentitude of other possible Democratic contenders. Democratic strategists concerned about maintaining control of the Senate probably felt a bit better, since Metsger would be in good shape for re-election. He won last time with 54% in a rural district consisting mostly of Clackamas, but also Democratic-trending Hood River County.

Mark HassOn the other hand, what may be protended if Willamette Week is correct and Representative Mark Hass opts out?

Hass, considered a Democratic moderate, represents a small slice of Multnomah County but mainly Washington County, near Beaverton – an area of considerable civic turnoil right now. The area has been trending Democratic, even strongly Democratic (Hass landslid in 2004 with about 65% and was unopposed for re-election in 2002).

But it is in turnoil, and transition in the legislative ranks – and an open seat in the middle of it all – logically would suggest opportunity to Republicans. And remember: Washington County is, right now, the pivot of Oregon politics.

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Nov 23 2005

Risch, to *lt* governor

Published by under Idaho

Not to hammer the point too heavily, but, well, we thought this might happen. And so we can’t report ourselves shocked, shocked.

Jim RischSome Idahoans probably were surprised, though, this afternoon when Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch said that he would run in 2006, not for governor as many had anticipated, but for re-election as lieutenant governor. (To which office he very likely will be returned. A quick disclosure note here: Your scribe was the manager of the 2002 general election campaign for Risch’s opponent.)

One of them may be a Boise columnist who stated plainly that Risch would be seeking the governorship – as Risch, to be sure, had strongly indicated for quite a while. This space, on July 7, suggested caution in adopting that view. Continue Reading »

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Nov 22 2005

Pedophilia, in another church

Published by under Idaho,Washington

The comparisons are a long way from exact, and this is – so far – just one case. but what if it doesn’t stay that way?

The legal case is unfolding in Federal Way, in Washington, a state where so many pedophilia cases have developed to haunt the Catholic Church. But this one was in another church, another major regional religious organization: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons.

The case concerns two girls, now grown, sexually abused by their stepfather. All were members of the LDS Church. The elder of the girls brought the abuse to the attention of her ward’s bishop but, according to the lawsuit, was told that the family should work out its problems through worship. The abuse continued, and later extended to the girl’s younger sister.

What do you do with a case like that? The step-father’s culpability is clear enough (provided the abuse is clearly determined), but how liable should a church be? Continue Reading »

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Nov 21 2005

In for gov

Published by under Oregon

And they seem surprised. And they shouldn’t be. Governor Ted Kulongoski has been sending clear signals about seeking re-election for months. Now that he has filed, the race – which does have quite a few unknown elements – should start to settle down.

(His web site isn’t really established yet, but it does have a homey touch.)

Among the other major (prospective) candidates, by the way, only Kevin Mannix has actually filed. The other two who have filed are Republicans, David Breen and William Spidal.

Expect the first fallout from this filing to be a thinning of the Democratic field.

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Nov 18 2005

Oregon House, round 1

Published by under Oregon

Beaver State politics over the next year just might revolve around the governor’s race. (Willamette Week has a highly-recommended and fun read on its current formal and possible players.) But it could also fizzle. The battle of significance we know will be fought out is the contest for the Oregon House.

The last few elections in Oregon have been gnetly trending the way of Democrats, and as 2005 nears its end, the next cycle looks to head that way as well.

The Oregon Senate, now in 18-12 control of Democrats, has little low-hanging fruit for either party in 2006, and Republicans seeking to take back the chamber – as they must – will find the battle uphill.

The Oregon House is a different matter, what with all 60 seats up for grabs. The 2004 election left it with 33 Republicans and 27 Democrats; six seats would have to change hands for Democrats to take over in 2007. (Two changed in the Democrats’ favor last time.) On its face, that seems unlikely; we’re taking about a large turnover. And yet if the year trends Democratic, it could happen, especially if Democrats run a larger effort aimed at House Republican leadership, as they have started to do. The odds seem at the moment to favor ongoing Republican control. But a shift of just four seats would be involved; the odds are slim.

We’ll take several bites of the Oregon House apple. Below the fold, we’ll start with a look at the 10 closests Oregon House general election results of 2004, and what they suggest for targeting in 2006. Continue Reading »

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Nov 17 2005

Revenge of the pigs

Published by under Idaho

On the front page of the Spokesman-Review web site (full story by subscription only):

“Rathdrum insurance agent Steve Nagel is battling city hall and his weapon of choice is pigs. Nagel plans to retaliate against Rathdrum and the Kootenai County Commission for denying a request to rezone property he owns at the edge of town for commercial use by instead putting hundreds of pigs on the 12-acre parcel along Highway 53.”

Sounds from here like a good argument in favor of the necessity of land use laws …

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Nov 17 2005

Rebellion in the ranks

Published by under Idaho

Not sure what it was exactly that prompted Idaoh Senator Larry Craig to push with such determination on revision of the Patroit Act, but he now has gotten as solid on this issue as on any he has undertaken.

The difference here being, he is charging – hard – against an administration of his own party, which he has loyally supported. Continue Reading »

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Nov 17 2005

Relicensing speedup?

Published by under Idaho,Oregon

Effective today, a new procedure in federal dam relicensing. From the Federal Register:

As required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the
Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, and Commerce are jointly
establishing procedures for a new category of expedited trial-type
hearings. The hearings will resolve disputed issues of material fact
with respect to conditions or prescriptions that one or more of the
Departments develop for inclusion in a hydropower license issued by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power
Act. The three Departments are also establishing procedures for the
consideration of alternative conditions and prescriptions submitted by
any party to a license proceeding, as provided in EPAct.

A little faster, to keep people on their toes.

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Nov 17 2005

Jobs up

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

The official stats out today show a positive picture for jobs – on the official unemployment front – regionwide.

Still, the improvement was spotty, and it still doesn’t seem to do much for wage rates, which are at least as critical a factor. Continue Reading »

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