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Posts published in September 2006

WiFi – you’ll never guess

An Idaho city is planning a pilot wireless Internet - WiFi - project to cover a downtown area. And which one is it?

Meridian subdivision image - City of MeridianYou might logically guess Boise. Wrong. Or Pocatello, with Idaho State University close by, or Moscow with the University of Idaho. Wrong again. Tony Ketchum or Hailey? Nope. High-tech Idaho Falls? Guess again.

The first, apparently, will be Meridian, which plans to set up a WiFi network in its downtown.

You might call this counterintuitive. Meridian is one of Idaho's hottest growth spots, certainly, and sometime this year - if not already, then probably soon - it leaps past Pocatello to become the state's third largest city. But its growth pattern is more like Henderson, Nevada, or Phoenix, Arizona, than like any of those other Idaho cities - it is spreading out over scads of new subdivisions, miles in every direction from downtown. And the downtown area looks, considering the astonishing change around it, not sio drastically different than it did a decade or two ago. It is not a downtown area in the same sense as Pocatello's, or Idaho Falls', or Nampa's. It is still a small-town downtown, characterized most obviously by the heavy traffic passing through it on the way to residential and shopping centers out on Fairview or Eagle roads, or somewhere else.

That said ... maybe Wi-Fi is a good idea. Meridian would probably be well served in efforts to develop its downtown area into something more (which at least to some extent its overwhelmed city staffers have tried to do). An a Wi-Fi system might be a useful tool in that effort.

What it costs

Asuperb sum-up paragraph on Oregon campaign finance in the Oregon Catalyst blog, from Dan Meek:

money

Oregon is one of just five states with no limits on campaign contributions. Laws are so lax here that what Tom Delay was indicted for in Texas, channeling corporate money to state legislative races, is not only legal in Oregon but would hardly be noticed (since it was only $155,000). Corporations routinely contribute 100 times that much in an election cycle in Oregon.
The 2002 race for Governor broke all records, with each major party candidate spending over $4 million and each serious primary contender spending over $1.5 million. The unions contributed over $1.2 million to Ted Kulongoski's campaign, while Loren Parks and the timber companies were generous with Kevin Mannix. This year, Ron Saxton's campaign for Governor plants to spend over $6 million, and Kulongoski will not be far behind. It now typically costs over $500,000 to win a contested race for State Senate and over $250,000 to win a contested seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. In legislative races over the past 3 cycles, the candidate spending the most money has won over 90% of the time, and the few exceptions are candidates who almost outspent their opponents and had the benefit of name recognition from service in the other body of the Legislature.

The article is in support of Measures 46 and 47, which seek to limit campaign contributions. We're a little torn on this, supportive of the concerns Meek has about heavy contributions but uneasy that the measures may be structured in such a way that they allow some lopsided loopholes. Campaign contribution reform is awfully difficult; we refer back to the old analogy of planting a thumb on a drop of mercury to pin it down.

By the way, the first of Oregon's C&E reports (contributions & expenditures = campaign finance reports) are due next Monday, October 2, and the Secretary of State's office says they expect to post them on line that day, though the crush of work is likely to push the posting into the evening.

Those reports will be eagerly read, not least by this site.

One in a million

When we started voting in elections back in the mid-70s in Idaho, the procedure was that we'd walk into the polling place, announce our names, receive a ballot, vote, and drop the ballot into a box, at which point one of the poll workers would announce that we - by name - had voted. It was a simple process, and there wasn't a lot of special security attached to it, but it seemed to work. Hardly ever did you see a report of anyone casting a ballot who shouldn't have done.

In that, that's close to how it's still done, and it still works. In some places in recent years you're required to show some form of identification, but that's usually not too difficult a task - most of us have some sort of identifying paperwork.

The new Federal Election Integrity Act, on the other hand, is another in the long line of federal measures in recent years which is closer to the opposite of what its name portends, because elections of integrity are in no way being addressed and are actually being attacked. The more serious threats to election integrity involve such concerns as hackable voting machines and efforts to suppress voting; this bill does nothing to help in that area. On the other hand, this bill does its bit to suppress voting, by imposing ever more intensive document requirements ("are your papers in order?") to cast a vote. The effect is going to be a discouraging of people to vote.

It will have special impact on mail-voting places like Oregon, where voters will have to send copies of documents like birth certificates through the mail to cast a vote. (more…)

Linda Smith’s uncommon road

In the last decade, Linda Smith's travels as an activist conservative Christian took her into politics, successfully for a decade and a half, through the state legislature, to the U.S. House and finally to a ran for the U.S. Senate, for which she won a tough contested primary and lost the general, to Democat Patty Murray.

Linda SmithHer path as an activist conservative Christian then took an abruptly different direction. It might have led to a comfortable job lobbying or at a D.C. think tank. Instead, she visited places like the child sex depth of the red light district in Mumbai (Bombay) and the sex clubs of Tokyo.

At Bombay, she paused to try to communicate with one of the child prostitutes, and recalled, "It was as if God himself were whispering, 'Touch her for Me.' I reached out to touch her shoulder. In that moment, my life changed forever. She was so utterly unloved in the world that my simple gesture overwhelmed her. God used that desperate, foul-smelling little girl to send me down a remarkable path. Out of that experience came the birth of our ministry."

Smith apparently remains the conservative Christian she was back when, but now notes how she works with feminist organizations in mutual efforts. Her organization, Shared Home International - self-described as "Leading a worldwide effort to eradicate the
marketplaces of sexual slavery...one life at a time" - evidently makes alliances wherever useful, something probably easier to do outside of the partisan political world. Her organization has an office in D.C., but is based in Vancouver.

All of this comes up in a fine profile piece in the Vancouver Columbian, recommended reading.

Strange consolidators

Time was not so long ago when most local radio stations had their own newsgathering organizations - often just one person, but freestanding nonetheless - as did, separately, each television station. In the last decade especially we've been seeing diminishing numbers of broadcast reporters and distinct units, and the trend is accelerating.

It has even led to some peculiar situations. Consider this, from the Idaho Radio blog:

Clear Channel Boise and KIVI-TV/Today’s Channel 6 are now sharing newsgathering and promotional resources.

Seems perfectly natural - until you realize that KIVI is owned by Journal Broadcast Group, which also happens to own six radio stations in the Valley.

Figuring status

At at a little over six weeks out from November 7 - less than four till Oregonians start marking ballots - where does the race for governor stand?

Let's project a little.

Start with the averaging numbers at pollster.com, which compiles figures from a range of polls, including Moore, Zogby and Rasmussen. Pollster averages the numbers from the last five polls conducted in the race to weed outliers, and accounts for variable polling methods. Viewed since May, that rolling average has stayed remarkably stable, never significatnly widening or closing, consistently showing a seven- to nine-point lead for Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski over Republican challenger Ron Saxton. Kulongoski leads in that range prevailed last spring and, up to and through the most recent poll (a Rosmussen), it holds today. That follows a range of activities on both sides, including a major Saxton TV blitz, just now resuming, a small early one by the governor, and a good deal of publicity about the race.

Okay. Suppose the current 46%-39% polling numbers are close to accurate and remain stable, as they have the last five months, for one more month. How would that play out in the election?

First, let's assume the remaining 15% is all other, including votes for the three minor party candidates. Suppose we assign 5% of that to the minors; it could go higher, certainly, but groups of minor-party candidates like these in a field with two major-party contenders often tally in the 4%-7% range. So far, the limited public polling on the three has given Constitution Party nominee Mary Starrett around 3%-4%, with the others far behind. (Higher numbers, we suspect, would mean Starrett is eating into Saxton's support.) We'll stick with 5% total for now.

Of the remaining 10%, let's figure about two-thirds goes to the challenger. Ordinarily, undecideds tend to break to the outsider, because although they have had more time to get to know the incumbent and haven't been willing to sign on. That could be a little different this year, if a Democratic tide sweeps hard and encourages more down-the-line Democratic voting. Let's say Saxton gets 7% of the undecideds, and Kulogoski 3%.

Results: Kulongoski 49% or slightly more, Saxton 46% or slightlyless, Starrett 3%, the others about 1% each.

For the moment, we'll figure that as a reasonable default estimate. If nothing changes.

Served up a little redder

Whether a matter of intention or slippage we do not know, but the one extended report of the Lewiston debate between 1st congressional district candidates Bill Sali and Larry Grant appear to have sounded a little different note.

We weren't there, and it wasn't televised or streamed. But we do have the first debate, a week ago at Coeur d'Alene, to compare it to.

The Grant performance at Lewiston sounds generally similar to the first in Coeur d'Alene. (It was quite solid.) The Sali performance sounds partly similar, partly different. In Coeur d'Alene Sali hardly took note of the Democrats - bypassed the opportunity to attack - and barely gave note to such signature issues as same-sex marriage and abortion.

Apparently Lewiston was a little different in that regard. Sali described Grant as a "liberal," which we do not recall him doing at Coeur d'Alene. He equated Democratic control of the U.S. House with, in effect, an automatic tax increase. And on abortion, he came back to this: "I do maintain there is an abortion, breast cancer link as far as I can tell from the literature out there."

So what will Sali's debate sound like when it gets televised?

Lake front to desert mountain

Somehow seems odd that a man who has spent so much of his life ensconced on a beautiful lakefront would opt now to build his megamansion at Palm Springs, way out in the desert.

Duane HagadoneSo it goes for Duane Hagadone, and that probably means something new for the city of Coeur d'Alene.

None of Idaho's larger cities, and none really anywhere in the Northwest, is so tightly identified with and socially dominated by a single figure the way Coeur d'Alene has been, for more than a generation, with and by Hagadone. He has owned its local mass media (and nearly all the locally-based newspapers in the Panhandle), owns its dominant commercial structure (the Resort on the lake) and the main upscale social attractor (a golf course on the lake), and has reshaped downtown, sweepingly, and more than once. He is not the only important factor in town and he has not always gotten his way, but he has been the overwhelming figure there for a very long time. He was that, albeit in a somewhat smaller way, back in 1973 when your scribe first came to live in Idaho, at Coeur d'Alene, and was a (lowest-level and short-term) employee of his operations at the predecessor lodging of what is now the Resort.

For some years has been building a big new house at Palm Springs, and his plans to move there. For four years it has been in planning and early work, and now it is expected to be completed in January next year. Business Week is reporting that "Billionaires like both Bill Gates's (Sr. and Jr.) and Roger Penske have second, third, or fourth homes here. Still, the community was all ooh and ahhh when word got out about Duane Hagadone's new, 32,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor house ... . The house is nothing if not spectacular. Built into the side of a mountain, and overlooking 11 golf courses in three directions, the futuristic spread has 19 electronic, moveable glass walls that can open onto the mountain air and the vast network of pools that weave through the property." (A tip to Huckleberries Online for its note on this article.)

It hasn't been built without controversy. Local planning staffers have recommended against approval, and others in the area have complained as well. So far, though, all the commissions and other actual decision-makers have signed off with approval.

Our interest, though, is in its short quote from Hagadone: "I'm 74 and I'm not getting younger. I want to enjoy it."

Hagadone leaving Coeur d'Alene. That's a sea change, or at least a lake change.

Communities, beloved and not

Asuggested reading for a reflective moment: An essay called "Beloved Community," written by Portland Buddhist Sallie Jiko Tisdale about a series of meetings between people at the Dharma Rain Zen Center and students and instructors at the conservative Christian Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. The article appeared in the Buddhist magazine Tricycle in August.

It's a thoughtful piece about two groups looking for ways to bridge their differences - an uncommon challenge since those differences are so very wide. They differ not just about policy and politics but about the nature of the cosmos.

There are some striking passages. There was this, from one of the Christian leaders:

“I like the word ‘orthodox’ better than the word ‘conservative,’” he says. “I find it hard to call myself a conservative because of the negative connotations.” One of Paul’s concerns is the significant difference between “theological conservatism” and the conservative politics with which it is usually associated. He mentions Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. “We agree on basic doctrine,” but it stops there. He adds, “It’s shameful to me, some of what they say.”

The effort at reacing out and listening sounds like a substantial educational effort in itself. A recommended read.