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Posts published in “Day: June 24, 2006”

Let’s appoint a commission

Now assuming the news reports on this are correct (and please do alert us if they're not), here's the situation in Boise:

Somehow, at some point in the past, an ordinance was put on the books in Boise banning businesses from allowing customers to use sidewalk cafes after dark. Why they did this, no one seems to know. The ordinance has been obscure enough that numerous businesses around town have allowed such cafes to operate extensively, and they're often integral to those businesses. There have been, apparently, no complaints about the practice. The ordinance has not been enforced for years at least, if ever. The facts of the situation recently were brought to the attention of Boise Mayor David Bieter.

There are several ways this could have been handled. Two, primarily.

One is the slam dunk. Since there's no civic controversy here - just about everyone interested is on one side of the matter - the solution seems simple: Draft and pass a new ordinance reflecting an existing reality which is apparently fully acceptable around town. If anyone has a problem with it, they can surface during the ordinance hearing process to say their piece. Most likely, the issue would have been over with already, and Bieter would have gotten points for decisiveness.

The other is what Bieter actually did. He appointed a task force to consider the matter. It plans to deliver a report to the city council on Tuesday. The council will then consider what to do. In the meantime, a lot of people will be on pins and needles over an issue that needn't have been.

There's a lesson in the subtleties of governance here.

UPDATE: As hoped for, a reader brings forth more information (a tip of the hat) which suggests the issue is a little different than the news report had it. (We're not shocked by that.) At the same time, we're not sure our conclusion is much changed - other than that the city's, as it turns out, is closer to it than we thought. Regardless, anyone reading the previous also needs to know the following. (more…)

Open to the world

There's such a thing as blurring the lines between government and private interests to the point that a government supported by all of us might operate to the benefit of some. It's a reasonable ethical issue.

Oregon Legislature siteBut there's also such a thing as shutting government off from from people and the world around it - of shutting down interaction and communication in the interest of ethical purity. And that's hardly any better.

Credit the Legislative Administration Committee, meeting Friday at Salem, with seeing as much. (more…)

The voting shot

Idaho Democrats peel off a really strong shot at Idaho Republicans so seldom it's worth notice when they do. And notwithstanding that the speaker in this case, Boise attorney Grant Burgoyne, is a friend of long standing, it should be noted too because it could carry some resonance.

The target was a proposal adopted last weekend by the Idaho Republican Party, then as the Democrats are now meeting in convention at Idaho Falls. That party chose to adopt a voting system much that like used in Oregon and a number of other states, a party registration system: Voters declare which if any party they declare, and then vote only for those candidates for nomination. Idaho's current system allows people to enter the voting booth and vote for the candidates of any (single) party they choose.

In years past, Republicans have been wary of such approaches, because Idaho has so many voters who consider themselves independent but ordinarily vote for Republican candidates. If you force them to define themselves more closely, the logic has gone, they might take that independent tag more seriously, and start splitting their votes instead of voting straight Republican. That's the viewpoint that exudes confidence. The alternative, where the Idaho Republicans went last week, was to worry about Democrats and others crossing over to weaken the Republican position. In truth, there's seldom been much evidence that's been a significant factor in Republican primary results. But the Republicans opted for the party-registration approach.

Burgoyne's riposte: "There are a lot of people in this state that refuse to identify with a specific party. ... What the Republicans are really proposing is to take away the rights of people to vote."

Try coming up with a positive-sounding response to that one.