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Posts published in May 2006

Creating balance

Awhole lot of the premises in our society - the concept of a free market, for one among many - stems from the idea of arms'-length negotiation and agreement: Parties with comparable leverage reaching a deal that works for both. In the real, non-theoretical world, such equation of leverage is relatively uncommon, but we've gotten away from the tools and procedures that could help compensate.

As a boat against the current, then, consider the foster home parents of Washington state. They have had a group organizaton - the Foster Parents Association of Washington State - since 1973. Now they're planning to link with the Washington Federation of State Employees, a labor union, to put a little more muscle behind their efforts.

We'll keep a watch on how this turns out.

Manufacturing outrage

Credit University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer with pulling the plug on the latest cycle of insanity-cum-outrage, a cycle spinning fast courtesy of a small group of UO students on one side, and none other than Bill O'Reilly on the other.

Student Insurgent flagStarts with a group of students who for some years have been publishing something called the Student Insurgent, which proclaims, "We are unaffiliated with any partisan organization. We seek to provide a forum for those working towards a society free from oppression based on class, gender, sexual orientation, race, species,and free from the threat of ecological collapse." Sounds predictably far-left-wingy, and it is; it seems to be trying to make a point of being farther out there than anyone else. It is funded in part by student fees and has used campus mailing to get a discounted rate, though it is not a student newspaper (that would be the Daily Emerald).

The editors of the Insurgentdecided in their March edition to provoke some thought (thought? or just yelps?) about the recent battle over cartoons in Europe on the subject of Mohammed and Islam; the cartoons published in Eugene would be cartoons of Jesus. Some of them were graphically sexual in nature, were designed to provoke, and to that extent succeeded. Uproar quickly ensued. (more…)

MSM blogging

To read opinion pieces about blogging in newspapers (and see them on the tube), and to read about the MSM (mainstream media, to you dead-tree folks) in many blogs, you'd think a kind of trench warfare between two opposing sides is underway. It isn't true; the lines have long since been breached.

Blogs have from the beginning relied heavily on other media for news and other items (and we reference them regularly). For their part, newspapers have increasingly been using blog-developed information too. And the key bridge between the sides may actually be the growing number of blogs by newspaper writers, under the aegis of those newspapers.

Our immediate hook for this discussion is the launching (okay, it was last month, but we just spotted it) of a blog in the Olympian newspaper by reporter Adam Wilson. But let's take a look at the newspaper politics/public affairs blog scene around the Northwest; there's more here than you might think. (more…)

Up in the mountains

Given the location of ski resort complexes, you might expect the sort of thing now bedeviling the Schweitzer Mountain ski area near Sandpoint to be a periodic occurence. And maybe over years to come, it will be.

Areas in the mountain turf near Schweitzer have developed some serious geologic problems, cracks in the mountain and landslides - generated at the moment by sudden spring heat - that have virtually wiped out two condo complexes and apparently have rendered a third a hopeless cause.

The damage apparently did not occur on the ski resort's property, but its managers may have some cause for concern anyway - even if only as a matter of perception. The ski complex, located at a beautiful sites in the mountains above Sandpoint (which is one of Idaho's prettiest city locales), has been a major draw for the region for some time now. Quite a bit hangs in the balance as specialists re-evaluate the mountain.

Others with comparable interests may want to take note of what happens there next.

A dance of the long knives

It wasn't boring. If you're in the mood for some offbeat TV drama, and you haven't seen it already, consider this a recommendation to check out the Idaho 1st congressional district Republican debate on streaming video from Idaho Public Television.

For sheer slash and burn, you won't find much better reality TV. Republican politics does not get blunter - in public - than it did here.

It may have been the single most attack-packed major debates in the Northwest in years; not until its last quarter or so did the action let up. There was little subtle here, and few punches withheld, even from unlikely sources. A prospective voter planning to vote Republican but knowing nothing about the race save the content of the debate must be left with a deeply uneasy feeling. Did the debate produce a winner, or a single loser? It's hard to imagine. No one stayed entirely above it all; everyone got burned, to some extent or another. (more…)

Tom Luna: The Missing Years

Four years have passed since Tom Luna became the only statewide Republican candidate in Idaho to lose in November. His chances for the same office, superintendent of public instruction, look good this time: He has the odds to win the Republican nomination (he was unopposed for it last time), and probably throws the Democratic nominee into presumptive underdog status. All this owes something to early planning, good organization and solid campaign skills, which were not bad in 2002. It seems to owe little to the four years in between, during most of which Luna was a high-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Education.

Tom LunaThat piece of his track record isn't ignored, exactly. It's appropriately referenced on his resume, and mentioned in passing. But it's hardly the focus and highlight you might expect. In running for the top education job in Idaho, his years on the Nampa School Board really aren't an especially great recommendation, or his work on some state advisory committees.

Luna was a Bush Administration official from early in 2003 into 2005, and one online resume lists him as senior advisor to Secretary of Education Rod Paige, director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities (2003-04) but primarily, apparently, he was executive director of the U.S. Rural Education Task Force. One might expect Luna to speak at length about these experiences; instead, they tend to get perfunctory mentions. Why?

Could it be because there's not much to tell? Or because the telling might make for some uncomfortable juxtapositions? (more…)

A blog endorses

No, not this one - we haven't and won't, in any political race. (At least that's our past and current policy; like all things blog, it could change in future.) But what does it mean to say that a blog has endorsed a candidate?

The question is a little trickier than it might appear at first.

Some blogs, like this one, are relatively controlled-access and have some control of viewpoint. You can comment about our posts, and we encourage that, but anyone who says this space has endorsed someone or something because a commenter has, is simply wrong. On the other hand are blogs like Blue Oregon or Red State Northwest which are joint efforts by a number of bloggers; if one of those bloggers urges the election of a specific candidate - as occasionally happens - you still can't easily say that the blog has done that.

And there's a secondary question: What does it mean to endorse? Is writing favorably about the idea of someone's election enough? Newspaper endorsements are typically clear-cut; they say that "we endorse X for election," or something clearly similar. On the web, the situation is a little less certain.

All that preface to a response by the campaign of Keith Johnson, a candidate for the U.S. House in Idaho's 1st district, to a question posed here about one of its messages. The message said that "2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said.”

So, we asked, who were the bloggers? The campaign responded today, and here are the links: (more…)

Giving due notice

How far does a government's responsiblity to warn people extend? Consider the just-decided case of John Osborn, et al., v. Washington before you answer - but first, here are the underlying facts.

Neither party disputes the tragic facts of this case. Rosenow was a registered sex offender. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to third degree rape of a woman at knifepoint, and in 1999 he pleaded guilty to second degree assault for choking unconscious a former sexual partner. When Rosenow was released from prison in June 2000 he moved to Hoodsport, Mason County.
The prison preliminarily classified Rosenow a level II sex offender, but Mason
County reclassified him a level III sex offender.1 Detective Jason Dracobly handled sex offender registration and community notification for the Mason County Sheriff's Department. Before Rosenow's release Shannyn Wiseman, a resident of Mason County, contacted Dracobly who said he would post fliers and otherwise notify the community of Rosenow's presence. Dracobly registered Rosenow and posted a notice identifying him as a sex offender on Mason County's website, but did not distribute fliers. Wiseman contacted Dracobly again, informing him that Rosenow had followed two minor children, reporting Rosenow's change of address, and asking whether Dracobly still intended to distribute fliers. Dracobly told her he was too busy to distribute fliers and discouraged her from doing so herself. In December 2000 Rosenow moved from Hoodsport to Shelton. But on February 24, 2001, he returned to Hoodsport where he raped and murdered Osborn.
Osborn's parents sued Mason County for failing to warn them of Rosenow's
presence. Mason County moved for summary judgment, arguing that the sex
offender statute then in effect, former RCW 4.24.550 (1998), imposed no
duty to warn and conferred immunity from liability for failure to warn and
moreover no duty to warn existed under the public duty doctrine.


And they are who, exactly?

Last week we e-mailed the Keith Johnson congressional campaign with a question. We haven't gotten a response to it yet. If we get one, we'll post it, but for the moment - what the with the Idaho primary election scant days away - we thought we should note the inquiry here.

Johnson's web site includes several clever "enough said" videos. One of them says this: "2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said."

Well, not quite: Who exactly were the three "left wing, Idaho bloggers"? Or was the campaign just trying to make a satirical point, while stating it in the form of a flat, factual allegation?

Is it possible that Johnson's statement is true? Maybe . . . but we monitor the Northwest blogosphere fairly closely, and can't come up with a single "left wing" blogger endorsing either Vasquez or Sorensen. (Several of them have effectively endorsed Larry Grant, the leading Democrat in the race.) So who exactly are these bloggers? - we'd be interested to know. Or are we to be left with the speculation they don't exist outside the Johnson campaign?

UPDATE (5/18/06) The Johnson campaign has responded with three blog links. See the more recent post "A blog endorses" (above) for discussion.

Day-after and recurring patterns

There will be more as the weeks roll out, but enough numbers are in and crunchable to sketch a few preliminary notes about the contours of the just-ended Oregon gubernatorial primary, and the larger shapes and sizes it suggests.

Maybe the point most noted about the election, other than the actual results, was the low turnout, apparently the lowest for a primary in Oregon for decades. (The exact number of ballots and party designations on them aren't available yet, and we'll revisit this when they are.) A note here: The numbers for 2006 that follow are neither final nor official, but they do seem close enough to final for the statistical uses we make of them here.

The low turnout rate might have been accounted for in part by voting not keeping up with population increase. But no: The actual numbers of voters dropped. A question: Did more of that falloff occur on the Republican or Democratic side?

To judge from the votes cast for governor, the one major office up for grabs Tuesday, the falloff seemed almost perfectly split. Take the number of voters in the 2002 Republican primary for governor (332,575), compare to the 2006 combined votes (285,457), and you get 85.8% of the vote in '06 compared to with '02. Run the Democratic numbers for 2002 (354,284) and 2006 (303,350) and you get 85.6% - remarkably, almost exactly the same. If the decline in vote had to do with disinterest, which seems plausible but isn't easily provable, the malaise must have crossed party lines. Or maybe (just as plausibly) each side had its own set of issues. (more…)