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Posts published in “Day: August 17, 2006”

SUSA: Riding above and below the wave

Latest polling numbers on approval of President George W. Bush show no great change or surprise from the last few months. But it's been a while since we've posted the Survey USA numbers, so here's a recap.

In Oregon, Bush is at 33% approval and 64% disapproval. That's not quite as negative for Bush as the 31%-67% numbers from May, but it is more negative than in June or July, when the negatives had softened slightly. Only 10 other states currently view Bush more negatively.

In Washington (Bush's 13th-worst state), the picture is closely similar, at 34% favorable, 64% unfavorable. As in Oregon, a slight move toward a more favorable view of Bush in mid-summer snapped back in August.

Finally, Idaho remains positively disposed toward Bush, the president's second-best state (after Utah), where he gets 56% approval and 41% disapproval - one of four states where he tops the 50% favorable mark. In contrast to most states, Bush gained in approval in August over the previous couple of months.

Nationally, Bush is at 38% favorable, 60% unfavorable.

Out too soon

In the category of good intentions gone awry, place an Oregon corrections program aimed at providing alcohol and drug treatment for inmates. A perfectly sound idea, it has created some awful problems because it has allowed a number of inmates, including some violent offenders, to get out of incarceration much earlier than expected - to the surprise of judges, prosecutors, victims and others.

The biggest problem here (alongside some bad calls on releases) seems to be transparency. The program got almost no attention when it was approved in the Oregon Legislature, and the man in whose department it is operated, Max Williams, is the former legislator who championed it. That may have led to an internal cultural problem: This is our program, we started it, we know how to operate it. That shut-down attitude - reporters have had to deal with persistent blocks in their requests for state information and documents on this program - apparently has led to denials, maybe including self-denial, that problems with the program are significant.

We're not talking about an epidemic of bad early releases, but we are talking about considerably more than the odd fluke or two, and some of those people reoffend as soon as they're able. This could have a bearing on the governor's race, since Governor Ted Kulongoski (a lawyer, a former attorney general and a former Supreme Court justice) is involved in this, in a mixed way - partly defending the program and partly acknowledging some need for fixes.

All of which is mentioned here in part because it isn't (yet) visible many other places. This story was broken by the McMinnville News-Register, not one of the larger papers in the state; nevertheless, it threw in the resources to do a thorough job in its Thursday edition and will continue with another by Saturday.

By that time, it may not be publishing on this subject alone. Look for more on this in coming days.