Archive for January, 2007

Jan 31 2007

The hurdles

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

The difficulties faced these days by Republicans in Washington and Oregon, and Democrats in Idaho, are underscored by a study released today by the Gallup Poll.

The study as a whole concerned how people identify themselves in terms of political party – Democratic or Republican, leaning to one or the other, or independent. It has been conducting the polls for some years. Nationally, it found that 34% called themselves Democrats or leaned that way, 30% Republicans or leaned that way, and 34% independents.

How do the numbers stack in the Northwest?

In Washington, which the poll again suggests is the most Democratic of the three, the Democrats accounted for 54%, Republican 36% and independents 10%. If that’s an accurate measure, Republicans in Washington have some serious work cut out, with an 18% gap to make up.

In Oregon, things are closer but not really close: Democrats 49%, Republicans 41%, independents 12%. (Oregon has one of the higher independent percentages in the country.)

In Idaho, as you might expect, things are reversed – very much so. Washington is the 12th most Democratic state (in this survey) among the 50, and Oregon ranks 24th – smack in the middle. But Idaho is the second most Republican state in the union, behind only Utah. In the Gem State, 54% call themselves Republicans, 35% Democrats and 11% independent – an almost perfect mirror image of Washington.

If Washington is becoming a mirror image of Idaho . . . well, we’ll go there another time. But if true, then the current Democratic domination of the legislature, for one thing, may not be a short-term phenomenon.

(See also the analysis of the polling on the MyDD site.)

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 31 2007

The adult population

Published by under Oregon

Reflect for a moment on what you know about the patterns of growth in Oregon, and then consider these numbers, included in the annual report on school enrollment issued by the superintendent of public instruction. The numbers reflect 2006-07 enrollment figures for the 10 biggest school districts in Oregon, and how they changed from 2005-06.

1. Portland 46,348 (-1.4%)
2. Salem-Keizer 39,585 (+1.7%)
3. Beaverton 37,719 (+2.9%)
4. Hillsboro 20,077 (+1.8%)
5. Eugene 18,312 (-0.7%)
6. Bend-LaPine 17,436 (+2.6%)
7. North Clackamas 16,987 (+2.7%)
8. Tigard-Tualatin 12,544 (+1.6%)
9. Medford 12,465 (-0.6%)
10. Gresham-Barlow 12,053 (+0.2%)

In the main, not far off from what you might expect. We know (have known for some time; it’s been the topic of headlines) that Portland’s under-18 population is diminishing, at least as a percentage of the total. The parallels in Eugene and Medford are intriguing, though.

It’s the Bend number that really catches our attention. By all accounts Deschutes County is the wild-growth part of the state. Portland’s suburbs may be adding people, and maybe more people in raw numbers, but Bend’s overall percentage growth has been much higher.

Not among kids. Note that Beaverton and North Clackamas both register higher increases in student population. Children are coming to Bend, of course; but is this an indicator of Bend more generally as an adult – maybe senior – hangout?

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 31 2007

Chat tonight

Published by under website

One more reminder about something new here: Chats, tentatively dubbed “Wednesday Wanderings,” with your scribe and a co-host, Idaho pollster Greg Smith. All are welcome to join in. The time is 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Mountain time. Topics Northwestern will be fair game.

To send, come to this page and then look down the right-hand column to a box asking you to fill in a nickname. You can use your real name (preferred) or something else (allowed). Click on “enter chat,” and you’re on. Type your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 30 2007

The evolution of a burn

Published by under Idaho

An Idaho burn
Smoke plume near Worley/photo Jessica Caplan/SAFE

In its decision effectively tossing out the state of Idaho’s ability to allow grass field burning in Northern Idaho, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remarks, “The current treatment of field burning in the Idaho SIP [state implementation plan, a revised version of which allows the burns] came about as the result of a thirty-five-year regulatory evolution.” An evolution from one set of intents (and one kind of politics) to another it certainly was; but it was the fact of the evolution, as much as anything else, that led the court to its conclusion.

Field burning has been used for many years as part of grass seed production, not just in Idaho (it is used in parts of the souther Willamette Valley as well), and is thought to improve the quality of the crop. There are arguments that it has beneficial environmental effects. There’s no question, though, that it also produces air pollution – very visibly, and easily smelled. It is obvious enough that one of the farmers’ biggest adversaries long has been Duane Hagadone and his news organizations; Hagadone well understands what tourists think of smoked-up lakefronts, such as where his resort and gold course are located. But the most powerful arguments come from people with respiratory impairments; some of them are literally put at risk of their lives from the smoke. There is a care active organization battling the burns, called Safe Air For Everyone, which has picked up a number of larger allies.

When the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970 and Idaho, like other states, submitted an implementation plan – which, once adopted and approved by the EPA, has the effect of federal law – it mentioned the burns. The burns were allowed, with limitations, such as that “When such burning creates air pollution or a public nuisance, additional restrictions may be imposed to minimize the effect upon the environment.” In 1993, Idaho proposed and the EPA accepted a revision of the implementation rules that deleted field burns from the list of acceptable burns in the state. There were more minor, technical, changes in 2003.

In 2005, the state of Idaho Idaho made another revision, to add this: ““The open burning of crop residue on fields where the crops were grown is an allowable form of open burning if conducted in accordance with the Smoke Management and Crop Residue Disposal Act and the rules promulgated pursuant thereto.” There were protests to the EPA, but the agency approved the change.

Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 29 2007

Water, not so much

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

running waterAfter the ferocious storms of November and December – especially on the western side of the Northwest but to some extent through much of the east as well – you’re probably thinking that the Northwest’s water picture for the year is secure, if not cause for concern about flooding.

Not so fast. January has been dry, almost region-wide. It turns out that the accumulated precipitation percentage – basically, the amount of water buildup in places like the snowpack that would be normal for this time of year – has fallen substantially from a month ago. That doesn’t mean drought is imminent, but it does mean the Northwest actually could see shortages in some places.

In Washington state, where the accumulation percentages all are still well over norma, there were drops from late December. The Chelan-Entiat-Wentchee system fell from 146% to 126%; Lewis-Cowlitz from 139% to 120%; the Columbia River above Methow from 126% to 114%.

In Oregon the declines were a shade more modest, but they were universal. On the Coast Range, for example, the drop was 126% to 107%; in the Willamette 123% to 112%; in the Lake County area 91% to 75%; in the Malheir River basin 102% to 87%.

In Idaho, where the snowpack was running almost exactly at normal in December, the numbers have fallen a little below: form 126% to 114% in the Clearwater basin (the second-best, after the Pndhandle basins at 117%); 102% to 86% in the Weiser; 112% to 94% in the Payette; 109% to 89% in the Boise River basin; 99% to 82% in the Big Lost; 100% to 86% in the Willow-Blackfoot; 100% to 83% in the Owyhee.

No time to panic, but it is time to keep a little closer watch on the water.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 28 2007

Chats

Published by under website

Starting Wednesday, we’re starting something new here: Chats, with a co-host, Idaho pollster Greg Smith. All are welcome to join in. The time is 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Mountain time. We’re dubbing it “Wednesday Wanderings” . . . for now, at least.

Our planned topic of the week will be legislative, but it’s not limited to that – anything related to the Northwest will be fair game.

To send, come to this page and then look down the right-hand column to a box asking you to fill in a nickname. You can use your real name (preferred) or something else (allowed). Click on “enter chat,” and you’re on. Type your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

We plan to make this a weekly event – same time, same url – and look for ways to improve on it as we go. Suggestions are welcome.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 27 2007

Assessing the problem

Published by under Washington

Luke Esser
Luke Esser

After the vote which removed Diane Tebelius as chair of the Washington state Republicans and replaced her with former state Senator Luke Esser, the new chair issued a statement in which he remarked, “The first step towards recovering from our defeat in 2006 is recognizing that we have a problem, and today we did that.”

There are layers of meeting involved in that simple statement. The collected Republicans may indeed have recognized that they have a problem; but did they understand what it was? If they think the problem was Tebelius, then they have some more thinking to do.

That’s neither particular endorsement of Tebelius nor criticism of Esser, just recognition that party chairs – while a visible person on whom to take out frustrations – has only a limited amount to do with a political party’s larger fortunes. Several of the key arguments against Tebelius (the suggestion that she withheld state party money from candidates) seem to fall apart on examination. The party organization doesn’t seem mismanaged, which would be the logical argument against her if it were the case.

The Seattle Times‘ David Postman quotes Esser after the meeting saying that 2006 “It was a terrible year and people are looking for a way to make sure that never happens again.” What way would that be? One significant reason for the Democratic push was the national scene, not in control of the state party. Another was a continuation of the trend of Seattle suburbs edging Democratic; that had been a development underway for a decade. The Republican candidates were, in many cases, just the sort of strong candidates the party wanted to run; recruitment was not a big problem. (It could be tougher in some places in 2008.) Nor was 2006 fundraising all that bad, under the circumstances.

We’re not suggesting Esser doesn’t recognize all this; he well may. As one of the Republican state legislators who lost his seat to a Democrat last fall, Esser’s understanding of the party’s problems may be both painful and personal and well as detailed. Esser likely will be an aggressive chair, maybe more so than Tebelius was, so he may be the right choice for the time. But the problems facing the organization run a good deal deeper than simply whoever is running it.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jan 27 2007

Private power

Published by under Oregon

roadcam on I5Toll roads generally are not a good idea; roadways are community assets that should be available to us all, and we should all pay. However did we manage to build the interstate road system without (for the most part, and exclusively in the West) tolls? We did it the old-fashioned way: We raised the money and paid for it. Granting that some of the new road projects being contemplated in the Northwest are likely to be highly expensive, that generally remains the best approach. The best cases we can see for tolls would be bridges – discrete projects – provided that the tolls come off when the project is paid for.

One of the glories of our country has been the easy transportation around it; we have a wonderful ability to come and go as we please, subject only to how much gas we can put in the tank. (That being, we suppose, a related but separate issue.)

Much worse that government toll roads, though, are private ones – which simply should be prohibited in this country. We had private toll rolls in many parts of this country early in our history (many early roads were hacked out that way). But we got rid of them when we could, and we mostly did. No private entity, non-accountable to us, should have power over our ability to get from Point A to Point B, which the private manager of a toll road would.

In Oregon, the big private player in the toll road arena has been an Australian firm, Macquarie Infrastructure – and it is perhaps the largest player in that arena nationally and internationally. With the recent boom in interest in tolling roads (Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has expressed interest in a couple of such projects) its services have been in demand. From Wikipedia: “MIG has a 100% stake in the M6 Toll road in the UK, which was constructed to relieve congestion on the M6 motorway—one of the UK’s busiest motorways. Additionally, as part of a consortium MIG has taken over operations of the Indiana East-West Toll Road and the Chicago Skyway, both part of Interstate 90 in the United States; and by itself has a 100% interest in the Dulles Greenway and the greenfield South Bay Expressway, scheduled to open in mid-2007, also in the United States.” Among others.

Lately, it has developed studies on the feasibility of tolling a road out to a fast-growing part of Clackamas County, and two roads (including Highway 99) in Yamhill County. It has recommended against proceeding with the first, and its stance on the second seems a little ambiguous in that what it has recommended probably is not politically feasible. That feasibility may be blocked for good if two Oregon legislators pass their legislation seeking to block a Highway 99 toll.

Oregon may consider it a bullet dodged. It is a basic tenet of this site that concentrated power should be viewed with suspicion; and in this case, maybe more than that.

Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 26 2007

What’s news

Published by under Oregon

televisionAs indicated earlier, we’re taking a look at the content of two news reports, following up on the description on Blue Oregon of a KOIN broadcast. We’re running through the stories as they appeared up to the first weather or sports segment. So here we go . . .

KPTV Fox 12, at 10. This is Portland’s second-ranking station, and this is an hour-long program, which would afford plenty of time for news of substance amid, ah, the rest. With two minor exceptions, it didn’t happen. The graphics, sound design, pacing, promotion of exclusivity and teasers for upcoming material closely resembled the tabloid shows (“Hard Copy” etc); the station has been said to be crime-heavy, and this evening’s broadcast certainly did nothing to counter that. Consider the long string of crime stories in this list of all the stories they ran, in order.

Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

3 responses so far

Jan 26 2007

A KOIN in the bloody fountain

Published by under Oregon

televisionYou can understandably argue, as some did in response to Kari Chisholm’s Blue Oregon post on local TV news today, that focusing for criticism on Portland’s KOIN (Channel 6) is, as one put it, “shooting fish in a barrel.” The newsroom has been heavily destaffed and defunded since new ownership took over last year on what the local industry now knows as “Black Friday.”

The problem is, the list of stories he cites for a recent KOIN newscast – an endless litany of crime, reported crime, maybe there might’ve been a crime, someone thought there might be a crime, there wasn’t a crime here but here’s video of one 2,000 miles away – seemed out of the norm only for the surprising absence of auto accidents and house fires (again, if not local, then somewhere else). The problem he cites is real enough on local television news almost everywhere in this country and certainly across the Northwest: There’s very little news worth watching on local TV news. (The Chisholm post above and all the many comment attached are well worth the read.)

A sample comment (with which we have some sympathy): “How is it possible to have a well informed debate among the electorate when a huge percentage of eligible voters are being dumbed down by endless mindless drivel on local and national television? Granted it is everyone’s constitutional right to watch as many hours of Dukes of Hazard reruns as they choose (God Bless Daisy Duke!), but how can I be expected to sleep at night knowing that the future of my children and grandchildren will be determined by the same people that made ‘Dancing With the Stars 2′ the most watched ABC non-sports show in 5 years?”

We’d like to continue this discussion. Here’s what we’ll do: We’ll watch two other better-funded stations, second-place KPTV Fox 12, which airs local news at 10 p.m., and market leader KGW NBC 8, which airs at 11. (The earlier evening news is not scheduled to air on KGW owing to a Trail Blazers basketball game.) We’ll see what stories each covers before their main weather or sports break, whichever comes first. And compare those stories to the local lead stories in today’s and tomorrow’s Oregonian.

Back after this . . .

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jan 26 2007

Compromise

Published by under Idaho

There’s something likable in this as a matter of procedure, stance and politics, whether or not as policy: Announcement of a compromise over $43 million (to date) of Statehouse construction, in the dispute between Governor Butch Otter and leaders of the legislature.

The legislature was firmly committed to construction of two new floors of office and meeting space underneath the current basement floor. Otter, as he had said bluntly in his campaign last fall, was opposed.

Apparently, the deal struck involves one floor instead of two, and there may be other elements as well.

However that eventually looks, there is this: A governor and legislature in Idaho that had a disagreement and then – instead of getting huffy about it, as so typically has happened – they compromise.

What a concept. Here’s an idea that, whether either side realizes it at the moment, can make them both look good.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 25 2007

Vista mania

Published by under Washington

Next week will be the peak of ballyhoo for the new Windows Vista operating system from Microsoft, as founder Bill Gates does time on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a wave of commercials hit the air, and stores open early on Tuesday to accommodate the crush of buyers of the new OS.

Windows Vista logoWell, maybe. Or maybe the days of big excitement over new big OS developments is over; the air doesn’t feel like it did when Windows 95 (which was a good deal more revolutionary for the Windows users of its time than Vista is now) made its deservedly big splash.

Here’s a contrary point of view from Jeremy Allison, an open source advocate, at ZDNet:

There’s simply no excitement about it. Most quotes from businesses are about how much of a chore it will be to upgrade, with warnings about how much old software will be incompatible and how people will have to buy new machines just to run it. No one actually wants this new system, except Microsoft and some of the hardware vendors who are desperately hoping Vista will revitalize moribund computer sales.

I think the day of the big-bang operating system release will die with Vista. This kind of upgrade has become obsolete. It might have made sense in the age of disconnected computers, where an upgrade involved a PC technician going to each desktop with a CD-ROM, but with the advent of Internet-connected PCs it’s crazy. People want to simply keep patching their existing systems remotely and securely until eventually all of the original code has been replaced and you’re running a new operating system.

He sees Vista, in other words, as overreach, as a kind of tipping point (he uses the phrase) where the Microsoft business model of the 90s – new operating system, all new applications, loads of money on the table – no longer works so well, and progressively less well, partly because there’s too little practical benefit in exchange for too much money spent.

We’ll see. The next year or so should mark interesting times at Redmond.

DISCLOSURE Ridenbaugh Press uses Windows, Apple and Linux OS computers. We started moving harder into the Apple and Linux worlds last year in part to avoid being caught up in the eventual Vista-related expenses. A year ago, the bulk of our work was done on Windows machines; now, a majority is on Macs, with more transition toward Linux in the works.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 24 2007

Airless

Published by under Idaho

The current number of bills introduced in the Idaho House so far this session is 50; we can remember when more than that were introduced before the session even commenced. The number in the Senate is 45. These seem like unusually small numbers.

When we inquired of the legislature’s bill-writing staff, we were told the numbers aren’t radically smaller: “There are six fewer bills introduced this year than last at this time. Typically the first session has a lower bill volume than the second. The only thing I can think that might be a bit of a curb at this point is the Capitol Restoration.”

That’s one way to look at it. There’s also this, from the bottom of an Associated Press piece on the Statehouse project: “Lawmakers say the focus on the wing standoff has sucked the oxygen out of the 2007 Legislature. Amid the distraction, the total number of bills drafted this year is at a five year low.”

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 24 2007

Spreading it around

Published by under Washington

Aquick stat: This from a David Postman blog post on Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp’s press conference today. Can hardly imagine the ingenuity it took to accomplish what Postman notes:

“Of 62 Democrats, 58 are either committee chairs, vice chairs or hold a leadership position. I don’t know who the four are that aren’t leaders, but I’m sure they get plenty of direction from the 58 that are.”

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jan 24 2007

Earmarked

Published by under Idaho

Aizona U.S. Representative Jeff Flake, a Republican, evidently is going to war (now) on congressional earmarks – those specified pieces of federal spending which members place to benefit their home turf. He has, for one thing, introduced legislation (HR 631) to combat them: “A bill to prohibit Federal agencies from obligating funds for earmarks included only in congressional reports, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.” His co-sponsors include one member of th Northwest delegation, new Idaho Representative Bill Sali, whose district includes northern Idaho.

Maybe of more moment (and somewhat like long-ago Senator William Proxmire), Flake is taking to highlighting an earmark of the week: Such declarations can sometimes pick up considerable national attention. His most recent such, as it turns out, is aimed at Idaho, specifically northern Idaho:

“This week’s egregious earmark: $150,000 to Lewiston, Idaho for completion of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project. ‘Any more earmarks like this and not even Sacagawea will be able to lead us out of this fiscal wilderness,’ said Flake.”

[And a hat tip to the correspondent who alerted us.]

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Next »

 


Pike Place's plans for a new waterfront entrance.

 

THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and how they're dealing with the day of the Internet. New Editions tells you where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here