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Posts published in “Day: June 22, 2006”

Waiting for an epic outcry

What might happen, one wonders, if the Oregonian were to run a story about how Portland's conservative talk icon, Lars Larson, had been muzzled by management at his station - on request on the ad sales department?

Would it be that "should listeners get a whiff of censorship, you'll have an outcry of epic proportions"? Maybe. And just such a report might be not far off.

That quote just above came from Brian Maloney of Inside Radio, who reported that at a recent industry seminar, "KXL Program Director James Derby stunned many in the audience by admitting outright that Lars Larson was prohibited from further criticism of a local hospital's practices, after it complained to the station. ... Making matters far, far worse, Derby admitted that it was pressure from the sales department that led to Larson's muzzling. According to him, the hospital in question had finally signed an advertising contract after a long period of lobbying by the station. As a result, account executives weren't happy to hear it criticized on the air." (A hat tip to Oregon Media Insiders for the link.)

There was no immediate response from Larson, and no, there appears to be no reference to it on his web site.

Maybe, back in Portland, everyone still is trying to figure out their next move. But you can bet that someone will make one before long, and it could result in an entertaining counterpart to the Independence Day fireworks.

Fire time

Our first thought about this year's fire season was that it should be a little lighter than most of those in recent years. After all, there's more water up in the hills, more water moving around, even a little flooding in spots. And so far it hasn't been an especially hot or dry summer.

But all that water is generating a lot more plants. (Our garden is doing much better this year than last, thanks.) And those plants seem to be generating a lot more fires.

Here's the national fire picture, from the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise, year to date, comparing the last few years.

2006 (1/1/06 - 6/22/06) Fires: 53,563 Acres: 3,187,940
2005 (1/1/05 - 6/22/05) Fires: 27,906 Acres: 745,959
2004 (1/1/04 - 6/22/04) Fires: 35,889 Acres: 790,941
2003 (1/1/03 - 6/22/03) Fires: 25,338 Acres: 520,384
2002 (1/1/02 - 6/22/02) Fires: 42,846 Acres: 2,283,493
2001 (1/1/01 - 6/22/01) Fires: 38,742 Acres: 861,714

The average through that period is 38,914 to this point in the year; you'll notice we're considerably exceeding it this year. In fact, on the averages so far, this is shaping up as possibly the worst fire year for a long time.

What's helped - and the main reason you've not been hearing about it much yet - is that most of these fires so far in 2006 have been small and unspectacular, and some have been controlled burns. At the moment no fires are reported in Washington or Oregon, and just one (near Wendell, but good sized at 8,700 acres) in Idaho. But the way the year is progressing, things may not stay that way. Keep a watch.

Message: Turnout is the key

When Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski hired consultant Jim Ross to run his re-election campaign on Wednesday, he apparently gave little indication why Ross, whose campaigns have centered in the San Francisco area where he lives, was his choice. (His previous manager resigned after the primary election.)

We can only guess what Kulongoski's reasons were. But after checking into Ross, his background, his campaigns and his views on the subject, we can suggest at least one very good one: He may have concluded that turnout will be the key to winning the November election, and he wants on board one of his party's top experts in making it happen - and Ross is, and has.

His signature race also has some hallmarks similar to this one. In 2003 Willie Brown was retiring as mayor of San Francisco, and a range of people filed for the job. The general election resulted in a mid-sized win for Gavin Newsom, a businessman who had won elective office in San Francisco a few times. But there would be a runoff, and polling quickly showed a very close race with second-place Matt Gonzalez; both were Board of Supervisors members, but Gonzalez seemed to have energized more of the liberal activist core - a key to winning in The City. (Does the dynamic - a close race as the two-way runoff begins - sound a bit familiar?)

Enter Ross. In a short but influential (certainly much linked-to) article on line, Ross described what happened that gave Newsom a strong runoff win. (more…)