Archive for February, 2006

Feb 28 2006

More on the ports

Published by under Washington

Won’t be piling on, but this comment on the Dubai ports issue is particularly striking coming as it does from the member of Congress recently rated as the most conservative Republican in the Northwest.

Cathy McMorrisThat would be freshman Representative Cathy McMorris, who generally has been a Bush Administration supporter. But not on its ports proposal. Her statement:

“One of my top priorities is to ensure our national security and I am greatly concerned with the President and the Administration’s decision to move ahead with this deal that impacts several of our biggest and busiest ports in the U.S.,” said McMorris. “Ever since September 11th, our country has had a heightened awareness in national security issues. Our ports play a large role in our nation’s economy and we must ensure they remain protected.”

“I remain disappointed with the President’s firm stance on this issue and believe we must take a hard look at it before moving forward. It is appropriate for Congress to ask questions, further examine any potential security risks, and gain a firm understanding of any consequences associated with this deal.”

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 28 2006

Ports in a storm

Published by under Idaho

How is the national controversy over port security playing in places like Idaho? We may get a clue in the latest from 1st District House candidate Norm Semanko, who may have been the first put out this statement (but likely not the last to say something similar):

Semanko said “these ports are a direct link to the rest of the nation and we need to make sure security is handled correctly”. Semanko also stated “that in the post 911 world we have to do whatever is needed to make sure we are secure and we don’t need to apologize to anyone for that”.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 28 2006

Logo-ing King

Published by under Washington

The decision to adopt a new logo isn’t usually a major decision for organizations, county governments included. But maybe there’s a little more going on in the case of King County.

King County logos since the 1950sProbably not one person in ten thousand in King County could tell you who it was originally named for: William Rufus DeVance King, a politician of the mid-1800s whose primary distinction is that he is the only person ever elected vice president of the United States who never actually took office, on account of his death before he was able to get to Washington to be sworn in. He is an obscure and not altogether wonderful character, a peculiar namesake for one of the nation’s large counties. (You can read more in the book Washington State Place Names by James W. Phillips, University of Washington Press.)

King County’s leaders may have recognized that a while back, since for half a century the county’s logo has been some variation on a crown design. That makes design sense, but does it in any other way? Why should an American government, even at the county level, celebrate monarachy? And, in these days when other people across Washington worry about King County and Seattle taking over everything, why should the name and symbol of the county rub it in their faces?

King County Council Member Larry Gossett has been on this case for some years, with a proposal that the county’s formal namesake designation be changed to Martin Luther King, and its logo reflect him. And on Monday the council agreed to do just that. The logo itself has yet to be designed.

Gossett’s comment: “King County is the first government in the nation to adopt the image of our foremost civil rights leader as its official logo. This is truly a day to celebrate. This change gives respect and visibility to the fact that our county is named in honor of Dr. King. The image of Dr. King will be a powerful and influential symbol for the many thousands of visitors to our region now and in the future. They will immediately see that our logo reflects a government committed to diversity, peaceful resolutions to differences, racial and religious tolerance, and social and economic justice for all of its residents.”

Probably not everyone agreess, but an improvement, surely, over the honorific to the veep who never was and the symbol of a monarchy.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 27 2006

Opening advantages

Published by under Oregon

There is some talk that one shouldn’t put too much weight on the just-released Rasmussen Poll on the Oregon governor’s race. But while there’s something to that, the poll does suggests some points worth bearing in mind.

First, the poll results, then qualifiers and thoughts.

The poll – apparently the first of one-a-month measures expected from here to November – does not measure the primary contests, only how two of the Democrats and three of the Republicans would match up against each other in a hypothetical general election.

Overall, incumbent Democrat Ted Kulongoski comes off pretty well. He defeats all three Republicans by clear margins: Kevin Mannix by 51%-36% (15-point lead), Ron Saxton by 47%-33% (13-point lead) and Jason Atkinson by 48%-36% (a 12-point lead).

Former Treasurer Jim Hill, challenging Kulongoski in the Democratic primary, does more or less as well: He beats Mannix 47%-35% (12 points), Saxton 44%-31% (13 points) and Atkinson 42%-36% (six points).

What can we reasonably draw from this? Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 25 2006

NRA state, er, plate

Published by under Idaho

Hadn’t seen note of this Idaho state legislation anywhere else, so be it noted here that House Bill 608 would establish a National Rifle Association motor vehicle license plate. (The bill describes the plates as national rifle association plates – lower case – apparently suggesting that the association is of such sweeping magnitude that the specific designation suggested by caps is unnecessary.)

Trucks over 26,000 pounds could not use them, but other vehicle licensees could. The bill doesn’t specifically give a rationale for the plates. The money raised would cover administrative costs and be deposited into the state highway fund.

The sponsor is state Senator Skip Brandt, R-Kooskia, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, through which the bill has already passed to the Senate floor. (A floor vote probably will happen Monday or Tuesday.)

So far, the National Rifle Association apparently hasn’t endorsed in the 1st District congressional race.

And, FYI, Brandt’s two large organizational contributions thus far have come from Qwest Communications ($1,000) and Union Pacific Railroad ($3,000), which periodically appears before the transportation committee.

There’s no specific available indication of whetber the NRA is in favor of HB 608. It is, however, on record as in support of Senate Bill 1402, which would, in its most significant provision, allow people in the state to carry guns concealed from view in more places, such as in their cars. The key exemption provision it seeks to add to law is “on property in which the person has any ownership or leasehold interest, or while the person is in any motor vehicle.” (It does add a requirement that if you’re carrying a concealed weapon for which you don’t have a concealed weapons permit, you have to – upon being approached by a law officer – say that you’re carrying. On the other hand: “provided however, the provisions of this section shall not apply to an ordinary pocket knife nor any lawfully possessed shotgun or rifle” (emphasis added).

Law enforcement, as one might expect, is opposed to the measure; Nick Albers, a former sheriff now speaking for the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, was quoted as saying “There’s nothing in there that says if you have a criminal record you can’t be carrying it concealed.”

That measure currently is in the Senate Judiciary Committee; given its makeup, we’ll speculate it stays there. But SB 1402 does have this distinction: Among its four sponsors, two senators and two representatives, is Representative Bill Sali, R-Kuna – like Brandt, a candidate for the U.S. House.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 25 2006

Taking offense

Published by under Oregon

At the opening of its sound decision Friday in Edward Gathright v City of Portland, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong.

Its opening line defined the issue at stake this way: “This case concerns the intersection of two First Amendment rights: on the one hand, the classic right of an individual to speak in the town square; on the other hand, the interest organizations have in not being compelled to communicate messages not of their choosing.” The first is correct, the second is not, and – even if ironically – that is why the decision, sustaining free speech, was spot on.

Gathright is a well-known Portland character often seen preacing his version of the Word of God in downtown area locations, including two spots usually considered public squares, places where people periodically do stand and speak: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, on the Willamette River, and Pioneer Square, in the middle of downtown. Both also are often used for arts and other events. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 24 2006

Kulongoski’s state

Published by under Oregon

Astate of the state speech delivered to something other than a legislature may be useful (whether or not required), but it functions quite differently than a normal statehouse annual speech. Inevitably, it is delivered in a governance vacuum, and – in its most pertinent sense – to a political audience.

Ted Kulongoski preparing his addressFriday, instead of reaction from legislators on the prospects for passage of a governor’s program, Oregonians heard reviews from the men who would like to replace Ted Kulongoski as governor.

Everything enunciated Friday was predictable. The governor said the state of the state was good, better than it was four years ago: Even in the overtly governance parts of the speech, it evidently was delivered with a direct view to the campaign ahead. As at the beginning: “And together, we have done things, things that have improved the lives of thousands of Oregon families. So today I say to you: The heartbeat of our state is stronger – and hope burns brighter. Oregon is back!”

There was, scattered through the speech, some acknowledgement of problems (notably a weak job market – though not framed that way; he spoke instead of individuals job seekers or holders who need help). But the overall tenor was of solutions in the works.

Is Kulongoski basing his campaign on the proposition that people are upbeat about the state? Sounds that way; and if so, it could be an iffy strategy.

So too, however, could be gloomy opposition campaigns. As the other candidates for governor were canvassed in news reports, you heard a lot of “too little, too late,” “why didn’t he act earlier on?” and similar. Problem is that those points have no emotional resonance for most voters, who tend to respond better to upbeat optmists.

That seems to be where Kulongoski is positioning himself. His gamble is that enough Oregonians are happy enough to buy in. It seems likely to work to this extent: His opponents will have to be careful how they frame their ongoing response to it.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 24 2006

The spectrum

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Before we get back into that nonsensical mess of figuring out who’s more “liberal” or “conservative” than who, among the candidates for office, let’s pause and reflect on how little those standards mean.

Today’s lesson comes from the National Journal, one of the best political publications in the country, rigorously nonpartisan and usually about as fair as any you’ll find. Annually, it publishes a set of rankings of members of Congress, from one end of the spectrum to the other, and the new one is just out. (It does two lists, actually, one noting most and least liberal, the other most and least conservative. In the interest of efficiency, we’ll just use the “most liberal” one here – the measures are easy enough to follow from either end).

You could argue forever what criteria should determine “conservative” and “liberal” rankings, but the Journal’s are considered roughly mainstream. So: Here are how the six senators from the northwest rank among the 100, in terms of liberal standing: Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 23 2006

Strong benchmark

Published by under Oregon

Starting point in figuring the chances for an independent candidate for major office is, well, behind the major-party candidates, if only because that’s what history tells us. If Oregon has previously elected an independent to governor, as it has, then it is also true it has not in 76 years. It never has to the U.S. Senate. (Wayne Morse doesn’t count; his switch from R to I came after one election, and he switched again to D before the next one.)

But such considerations are starting points only, and newly-minted Independent Ben Westlund of Tumalo is sprinting in his new governor’s race.

A news release from his campaign touts that he “attracted significant support in his first week as financial pledges and contributions passed the $100,000 mark Wednesday afternoon. Over 100 volunteers have also registered online to help gather over 18,000 valid signatures he needs by August 2006 to qualify for the ballot. The financial support came from over seventy contributors including $4,000 raised through Westlund’s website ( www.benwestlund.com). The petition sheets to place him on the November ballot are available on his website.”

That’s not a bad start; a couple of strong fundraising months at somewhere near that level could put him in a competitive position financially. And the 100 volunteers are not a bad beginning either.

Could there be more than first met the eye? Let’s see what sort of consistency the Westlund campaign develops this spring.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 21 2006

Reincarnated

Published by under Oregon

Measure 37 is back in full, and not. Legally, it has returned to status as functional and operative law of Oregon. Politically? That may be another matter.

Its constitutionality was upheld firmly in today’s decision by the Oregon Supreme Court in Hector McPherson v. Department of Administrative Services – it left no part of the legal attack on the land use law standing. Most basically, the court held that a lower court judge and the plaintiffs misunderstood the relationship between the measure and the nature of legislative power in Oregon.)

The summary paragraph read this way: “In sum, we conclude that (1) plaintiffs’ claims are justiciable; (2) Measure 37 does not impede the legislative plenary power; (3) Measure 37 does not violate the equal privileges and immunities guarantee of Article I, section 20, of the Oregon Constitution; (4) Measure 37 does not violate the suspension of laws provision contained in Article I, section 22, of the Oregon Constitution; (5) Measure 37 does not violate separation of powers constraints; (6) Measure 37 does not waive impermissibly sovereign immunity; and (7) Measure 37 does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court’s contrary conclusions under the state and federal constitutions were erroneous and must be reversed.”

Every challenge posed so far was rejected, and that probably means Measure 37 will not be thrown out by the courts, period.

There may be other meanings as well, though. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 20 2006

Not having to say you’re sorry

Published by under Idaho

It may help to know that the chief lobbyist working on the new Idaho doctor-apology legislation is also one of the key figures, stretching back some years, behind the state’s “tort reform” legislation – attorney Ken McClure.

But that may mean more than one thing.

Here’s the skeptical take. When you get legislation in hand which blocks prospectively important evidence in cases of medical malpractice, as is the case with House Bill 634, now on the House floor, careful consideration is called for. And bear in mind that “tort reform” means limiting the scope of what can be sued about, and for. Is this simply a device to allow malpracticing physicians to slip out of legitimate lawsuits?

That would be the dark view; a reasonable counter view (which McClure clearly notes) is that fear of lawsuits has chilled a great deal of honest discussion between physicians and patients. It has led to all manner of unfortunate results, from dispensing drugs which probably aren’t needed but will serve to cover a doctor’s behind, to an inability to say the simple but highly important words, “I’m sorry.” A great deal of civilization has been lost to our lawsuit-happy ways – a fact no less real than the malpractices that do occur and should be litigated.

When we attended journalism conferences in years past, we often heard a piece of advice from gurus on media litigation. It was this: If you did something wrong, apologize. Very often, that simple response is all someone is looking for, and often it will end the prospect of lawsuits before it begins.

No less could be true in medicine. And that could be helpful all around.

Post Script – Note the medical/legal deal just announced at the Washington statehouse, a component of which is a similar version of the “no-fault apology” provision.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 20 2006

Not having to say you’re sorry

Published by under Idaho

It may help to know that the chief lobbyist working on the new Idaho doctor-apology legislation is also one of the key figures, stretching back some years, behind the state’s “tort reform” legislation – attorney Ken McClure.

But that may mean different things.

When you get legislation in hand which blocks prospectively important evidence in cases of medical malpractice, as is the case with House Bill 634, now on the House floor, careful consideration is called for. And bear in mind that “tort reform” means limiting the scope of what can be sued about, and for. Is this simply a device to allow malpracticing physicians to slip of legitimate lawsuits?

That would be the dark view; a reasonable counter view (which McClure clearly notes) is that fear of lawsuits has chilled a great deal of honest discussion between physicians and patients. It has led to all manner of unfortunate results, from dispensing drugs which probably aren’t needed but will serve to cover a doctor’s behind, to an inability to say the simple but highly important words, “I’m sorry.” A great deal of civilization has been lost to our lawsuit-happy ways – a fact no less real than the malpractices that do occur and should be litigated.

When we attended journalism conferences in years past, we often heard a piece of advice from gurus on media litigation. It was this: If you did something wrong, apologize. Very often, that simple response is all someone is looking for, and often it will end the prospect of lawsuits before it begins.

No less could be true in medicine. And that could be helpful all around.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 19 2006

Ahead, Tuesday

Published by under Oregon

Not much attention to this elsewhere yet, so be it noted: The Oregon Supreme Court decision on Measure 37 is expected to be released on Tuesday morning.

That is courtesy of the McMinnville News Register, which quietly broke the story Saturday.

No word yet, of course, what that decision will be. We’ll be watching.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 18 2006

Fact checking

Published by under Washington

Our political discourse could use a lot more fact checking. On the national level, a number of well regarded sites (FactCheck.org for one) have made it their business to check the accuracy and reasonableness of statements, allegations and articles. The Northwest has nothing like that.

This site has tried to do such work occasionally, and will continue to. More emphatically, it will try to link to fact checks on other sites, and do what it can to encourage the practice.

With that in mind, first up: A piece on Washblog, “WA Farm Bureau misrepresents facts to support ballot Initiative.” Writer Noemie Maxwell parsed the remarks of Steve Appell, president of the Washington Farm Bureau, as he pitched the case for an initiative (tagged the Property Fairness Initiative) intended generally to match Oregon’s Measure 37 in its intent of allowing certain property owners to bypass land use regulations.

Maxwell turned to committee minutes, official filings, recorded statements and other original material to conclude that important parts of the Appell speech were misleading at best. It is worth a read.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 17 2006

A departure

Published by under Idaho

Steve Ahrens has been a fixture at the Idaho Statehouse for 31 years, and we’ve known him nearly that long. That makes the idea of his retirement, which he has announced will happen this fall, the more startling: Hardly anyone now around the Statehouse knew it pre-Ahrens.

Steve AhrensIn just about all of his time there as a (first) reporter and (later) lobbyist and (for 16 years) president of the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry, he has also been more than a fixture: He’s been a major presence. That’s accounted for in some part by his employers, the Idaho Statesman newspaper, Boise Cascade and IACI, which represents most of Idaho big business along with a chunk of medium-to-smaller business. But that’s not all. Ahrens is courteous and has a sense of humor and a sometimes surprising informality, and an interest in helping out the newbies who regularly show up, and all that helps over the long haul. (In our Ridenbaugh Press lists of influential Idahoans, Ahrens has almost always ranked high, and a lot of people would have been shocked if he hadn’t.) But that’s not all either.

There is another thing about Ahrens that non-professionals might not get: He’s a hardcore legislature addict. The minutiae of the legislature, the personalities, the political campaigns, the vote counts, the structure of the committees, the rules and the process – Ahrens has immersed himself into it all deeply, for a very long time, and he can talk about it with the kind of attention to intricate detail that a really good mechanic could use in describing how his favorite make of car works. He is evidence that, apart from all else, information is power.

No small thing, as 31 years will attest.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Next »

 


A truly down-home ad for Oregon Senator Merkley.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here