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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The latest wage gap study for the Northwest is out, published as usual by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, and once again required reading for anyone trying to evaluate the realities of life in the region, even if the results aren’t all that different from last year.

Living wage reportWages have been rising in recent years, a little, but the report documents how the amount needed for a “living wage” – the amount of money needed to practically support a person or a family in a given place at a given time, has been steadily rising – in larget part because of the explosion of health care and insurance costs.

Is full-time work enough to aff ord a family’s basic needs and ensure an adequate standard of living?
While most people would suggest that work should be enough, the data presented in the Northwest Job Gap Study show that often this is not the case. Even as economic reports herald a strong and growing economy, this prosperity continues to be a false promise for many families, for whom living wage work remains out of reach. In the Northwest and around the nation, many people – particularly people of color – are finding that working full time does not provide a sufficient salary to meet their basic needs.
The Northwest Job Gap Study: Living Wage Jobs in the Current Economy demonstrates the reality that working people experience. Using an analysis of public data from a range of state and federal sources, this study calculates a basic family budget for different family structures in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Based on this “living wage,” the study then estimates the number and proportion of current jobs in the Northwest that provide a suffi cient wage to support an individual or a family’s basic needs without relying on public assistance.
The findings show that working full time is often not enough to maintain an adequate standard of living. Even dual-income families, where both adults are using all of the resources at their disposal to earn a living, often find they are not earning enough.

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As this is written a couple of counties, Asotin and Skagit, are still out, as are some additional scattered precincts. But there’s enough in to get a fair idea of the partisan balance in this primary election – the first time Washingtonians have had to choose between parties in the primary.

Neither party had compelling primary contests; there’s no reason one ought to have outpolled the other based on immediate reasons. So how does the state break down?

Grand total (again, at this point, just before midnight election night): 304,208 Democratic ballots to 236,203 Republican – 49% to 38% (the remainder choosing neither party’s primary).

Most of the counties – especially most of the rural counties – held a Republican edge. Those were counterbalanced by the larger counties including King (41,761 to 14,697), Pierce (41,455 to 27,914), Snohomish (36,569 to 21,748), Kitsap (21,048 to 11,150) and Clark (27,855 to 19,816). The biggest Republican county was Spokane (26,902 to 35,055).

A playground for political analysis. We’ll be back to this.

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This isn’t a runaway; at this writing, the Alexander-Groen contest for Washington Supreme Court isn’t yet settled. But while a broad swath of opinion suggested that the swampingly large pileof money supporting John Groen’s effort to oust incumbent Chief Justice Gerry Alexander would be enough to prevail, indications now are that … it was not.

Gerry Alexander Several possible conclusions can be drawn from this. We’ll highlight two that could be significant for the election, and the election cycle, ahead.

One is that the message got through that a narrow band of interests was the basis of the Groen candidacy, and that was wrong. This may be somewhat unfair to Groen, who likely has interests and abilities well beyond those of concern to his supporters. But it isn’t unfair to the movement that backed him, and to them this result – so far (with thousands of ballots yet to come), an Alexander win at about 53% – serves as a rebuke.

Separately, this race together with the other one hotly contested, involving Justice Susan Owens and her main chellenger, state Senator Stephen Johnson, should generate concern to Washington’s Republicans. The judicial positions are of course nonpartisan, but to a considerable degree the lines behind the incumbents and the challengers seem to have matched with partisan lines – Democrats probably voted strongly for the incumbents and Republicans for the challengers.

Considering that neither party had within its own ranks any strong primary contests (the U.S. Senate primaries were non-events), the judicial battles served to a degree as useful surrogates. in that battle, the challengers (the Republican side) had significant advantages. In seat 8 (Alexander-Groen) the challenger had a huge money advantage, and in seat 2 (Owens-Johnson) the incumbent was considered the most liberal member of the court and his challenger won a raft of newspaper endorsements, along with other advantages. Neither were enough. To be sure: The Owens-Johnson battle isn’t over, since she didn’t reach 50% of the vote (other candidates were also running) and will face Johnson again in November. But the margin at present is 45.6% to 32.6% – a big lead, hardly a promising start for Johnson.

An early indicator for November 7 in Washington? Wouldn’t be surprised.

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So why, coincident with his refusal to join in a debate on Idaho Public Television (sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters), did Republican gubernatorial candidate C.L. “Butch” Otter agree to a debate with Democratic candidate Jerry Brady on KTVB-TV?

There’s been a lot of discussion about that. There’s the idea that Otter has effectively taken a shot at the Idaho Press Club, but that doesn’t seem right; he’s gotten some bad press this year all right, but the Press Club isn’t responsible for that and he’d be facing journalists at the KTVB event too.

Then there’s the idea, floating as well, that he’s just more comfortable with Boise’s Channel 7; a number of people who have been key long-time staff there have had substantial conservative and Republican associations. That’s not an accusation of skewed journalism, but even if the product is solidly neutral, there may be on a personal level a feeling of greater comfort for Republican politicians.

We were inclined to dismiss that theory too, but the surfacing Wednesday of the Otter-KTVB emails, by rival KBCI-TV does give us pause. Someone apparently leaked a batch of communications (18 faxed pages) between Otter’s campaign and people either at KTVB or associated with its planned debate, written and sent in August and early September.

KBCI noted “The Brady campaign suggests that KTVB and the Otter campaign were engaged in a one-sided negotiation, according to the communication director for the Brady campaign. ‘He (Jerry Brady) is disappointed that his opponent and this particular news station have developed such a cozy relationship. You combine this with his attempts to manipulate the debates and what you have here is insider politics,’ Michael Ames told CBS 2 News.”

After reading the faxes (KBCI posted them on its site at the link above), the matter seems a little less clear-cut. There was some discussion about a KTVB website headline the Otter people found objectionable, and discussion about whether the minor party candidates should appear as well as Otter and Brady, and a few other matters. You don’t get the sense of secret negotiations going on, or of favors secretly handed out. (Otter’s main suggestion, that all five candidates appear, evidently was rejected, peremptorily.) The faxes don’t seem to contain any smoking guns.

At the same time, KTVB and its debate partners would have been well advised to cc: those e-mails to the Brady campaign as they were sent. These ex parte communications open the station to charges that they’re working more with one side than with the other, that the debate might be somehow skewed as a result. (It’s the same reason judges usually disallow ex parte communications.)

Our impression is that nothing nefarious was going on. But a little more openness would have saved some trouble, and defused the suggestion that maybe Otter had reason to feel more comfortable at KTVB than elsewhere.

AMENDED: The reference to conservative associations on the part of KTVB staffers has been changed.

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Agreat deal of the residential development growth in the Boise area has centered on projects to the east, north and west. But let us not forget the south.

Pleasant Valley South LLC is asking for zoning permission and annexation for about 800 acres south of Boise, along the southern reaches of Cole Road (due south by a miles or so of Governor Jim Risch’s residence). Some business development and about 1,800 homes would be built there, presumably providing residence for about 5,500 people. The legal process involved is underway at Boise city hall.

Boise is already considering annexation of an area just north of that.

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Comedian Ron White has a crowd-pleasing bit about his arrest for drunken behavior at a New York bar, and his conversation during that event with the police. Alcohol had loosened his tongue, and he baited them, playing the smartass. As he recalled, “I knew I had the right to keep silent. I had the right. I just didn’t have the ability.”

Now federal prosecutors are jumping into the ability of people to maintain their rights, and it should chill anyone interested in preserving their rights should they ever have a run-in with the law.

One of our well-known rights, as anyone who has watched a police show in the last generation well knows, is the right to be represented by an attorney, to the point that one will be appointed and paid by the state if one cannot otherwise be afforded. The idea is that people charged with a crime ought to have some support and counsel on which they can rely and in whom they can confide, so they aren’t simply railroaded by overmatching expertise. That is why attorney-client confidentiality is so strictly protected in legal proceedings.

Or at least it has been. But suppose you’re in a legal jam and you want the advice of a lawyer. How candid will you be with that lawyer – and, as a result, how effective can he be – if you knew that everything you said might wind up in the hands of the prosecutors? That pretty much wipes out your right to legal help, doesn’t it? Under those conditions, you’d probably be as well off representing yourself. (Which – don’t get us wrong – is poorly.)

Can’t happen because of the attorney-client privilege, you say? Guess again.

The Eugene Register Guard reports about Roseburg attorney David Terry, apparently the lawyer for several people who have been either suspected or charged with drug offenses. On September 13, the RG says, “More than a dozen [federal] agents with a search warrant approved by a federal magistrate judge walked into the office of David Terry just after 7 a.m. and seized financial, property, business, travel and personal records of 17 people. Terry, a lawyer for 27 years, is not charged with any crime. However, he is obviously the unnamed ‘Attorney A’ in a 196-page federal indictment issued Wednesday that named 12 men allegedly involved in an international conspiracy to smuggle marijuana and cocaine, grow marijuana and make methamphetamine.”

Terry, who has been an attorney more than 30 years and was a prosecutor for Douglas and Union counties, told the Roseburg News Review that the feds apparently think he’s involved in laundering money for his clients, several of whom are accused of illegal drug sales and transfers. The investigation and any indictment, by the way, come not out of Oregon-based agencies, but out of the U.S. Attorney’s office and a grand jury at Boise. (The story is told at length in the linked News Review piece.)

The News-Review added, “He said he believes that at least a portion of the information collected by the government against him came from his former law office partner, who was fired and later sent to prison for trading legal services for sex with an underage client in Coos County. Terry said he wasn’t sure whether he would be indicted. ‘I have no idea. If they are going to take evidence from perjured convicts, you never know,’ he said.”

Running back through the history of drug cases, the list of disreputable and – to say the least – unreliable – people whose stories are bought (and often paid for) by supposedly savvy professionals in the pursuit of drug cases is absolutely astounding. We’re not talking about a handful of such cases, but of boatloads of them, all over the country and notably in the Northwest.

We don’t mean here to prejudge entirely – obviously, we haven’t all the facts. But we are talking here about a long-established, older professional, long ensconced in a smallish and modest town (the words “pretentious” and “Roseburg” do not go together), apparently respected by peers and with an apparently unblotched history in law enforcement. If he actually did what he apparently is accused of, Terry would be one of the very oddest drug kingpins of all time.

You think this couldn’t happen to you? Guess again.

So the thin line that protects us all from the arbitrary or wrongful use of official power gets thinner.

FOLLOW NOTE: In 2000, Terry was one of the attorneys who worked in Oregon v. Jerry Fleetwood, a criminal drug case case that went to the Oregon Supreme Court; Terry was working with Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association attorney David E. Groom of Salem, filing a brief for amicus curiae. The appellate case turned on the legal requirements needed for using evidence obtained through use of a body wire. The court held that a court order was required in such a case. The prosecution’s attorney roster in that case includes some familiar names: “Rives Kistler, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause for respondent on review. With him on the briefs were Theodore R. Kulongoski, Attorney General, Virginia L. Linder, Solicitor General, and Janie M. Burcart, Assistant Attorney General.”

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