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Posts published in July 2006

Places of celebration

fireworksWe checked out the July 3 fireworks last night at the Oregon Garden at Silverton, and a fine experience it was.

(And we'll brook no snipes about the event's holiday-eve date. If we'd paid more attention to history, the big celebration would be happening on July 2 rather than July 4 anyway.)

The future of the Oregon Garden, a spectacular and beautiful collection of plant life from the state and around the world - probably without equal in the Northwest - has been in doubt. Intended as a major tourist draw, it has drawn fewer people than hoped for. It has needed financial bailouts, and has gotten them, so far. It has gotten solid community support too. But it can use all it can get.

So what they did, last night, was throw a fireworks - a fine show, with musical entertainment and catering from the fine Salem-based (and Silverton-founded) Roth's groceries.

The scale is not enormous. Silverton is a place of about 8,000 people, nearby coomunities are smaller, and though the event draws from the Salem area, Salem had its own events too. But a great big crowd poured into the garden, enough to create big traffic issues. All around, the event seemed a big success.

So: The curiousity of Boise, which will be fireworks-less again this year. From today's Idaho Statesman editorial: "This is sad and embarrassing. A vibrant city of 200,000 — with a proven record of throwing community and corporate support behind big events — ought to do a whole lot better. So let's resolve to do it. Come July 4, 2007, let's have a fireworks display to bring back memories of the Boise River Festival."

Memories of the Boise River Festival? You mean the cookie-cutter production (try Googling "river festival") that emphasized out of region vendors and productions and increasingly had less and less to do with Boise specifically until, finally, it financially crashed and burned? That one?

A suggestion: Find something uniquely Boiesan, something that could use some additional attention, and build a community fireworks around that.

Such a fireworks could become a double celebration, as it was last evening at the Oregon Gardens.

Gray power

The Oregonian story about low voting turnout among people in their 20s and 30s didn't really hit - "young people don't vote, dog bites man, yada, yada" - until we got to this graph well down in the story:

"Oregonians in their 20s and 30s outnumber Oregonians in their 70s almost four to one. But people in their 70s, with a turnout rate of 69 percent, cast more votes in May's primary election than all 575,000 registered voters ages 20 to 39 could muster."

That's dramatic.

Oregon impact

In Idaho we've from time to time run surveys and posted lists of the most influential Idahoans of the year just past and months just ahead, lists usually topped by the likes of governors and senators.

Were you to do a similar exercise in Washington state, only extend it out to the last 10 to 20 years, here's the top name you'd almost certainly come up with: Tim Eyman, the initiative king, who has had his share of losses as well as wins but probably has driven more politics in the state than anyone else.

And Oregon? A little less obvious, but it seems to adhere to the Washington track, at least to judge from one opinion-trawling effort.

Les AuCoin, the former congressman, has posted on his blog the query, "Who had the most impact on Oregon in the last 10 years?"

Of the responses received so far, the dominant names are three associated with initiative actions: Don McIntyre, who pushed through the tax-cutting Measure 5 in 1992, and Bill Moshofsky and David Hunnicutt of Oregonians In Action, who pushed through the land use Measure 37 in 2004.

Is the mere fact that such people - not elected officials, but gadfly-activists - are the main pushers of policies in these states? What would be the reasons underlying that? Comments welcome.

The practicality of idealism

Two ways of looking at politics. The first is the norm: Call it "give the people what they want," or at least what you think they want.

Intuitively, that sounds about right. But it doesn't square with much of recent reality. Ronald Reagan was a very popular president and won his re-election in 1984 overwhelmingly, but his policy positions - point by point - weren't especially popular. The key policy stands of George W. Bush 20 years later, on almost every subject save terrorism and maybe Iraq, had very weak support among the American public; if the voters were votingpolicy positions, he'd have crashed and burned decisively. The fact that these presidents pushed unpopular ideas may even have added to their support on a personal level.

This comes up because of an exchange between two Idaho political figures. Bill Cope is a former Democratic legislative candidate who for some years has been writing a column in the alternative Boise Weekly. The man who hired him as a columnist, Andy Hedden-Nicely (who has long since departed the Weekly), has run for office as a Democrat in the past, but this year has bolted the party to run under the banner of the United Party. Both parties disgust him. (more…)

What we want

As much as bloggers like to rant, and as much as many partisan bloggers like to go ballistic, there's still plenty of room for the positive - saying what we like and approve of and hope for, as well as the opposite.

Campaign season is good for coming up with the bill of goods of critcism, but why not explication of what we want and need from our candidates - from the people who will hold office next term.

With that in mind, take Tom Simpson's 10 Things I Want From My Next Governor essay on the Republican Oregon Catalyst site as a useful template. Simpson here writes about a string of substantial, serious matters facing Oregon and suggestions for how the next governor ought to handle them.

It's not exactly the same as our list (though there's a good deal of overlap). Or, probably, yours. But that's partly the point: Draft your own, and measure it against the candidates. Or, even better, tell the candidates that these are your expectations . . .