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Posts published in “Day: July 8, 2007”

Old dog leaves the porch

Jim Clements

Jim Clements

Curtis King

Curtis King

The political quiet of midsummer in an off year in the solidly Republican terrior of Yakima, a time when the old political dogs hang out on the front porch, has taken a turn. A challenge, actually.

Selah farmer Jim Clements, a former six-term House member appointed in January to the state Senate (replacing fellow Republican Alex Deccio), is up for election this year, first in the Republican primary. (That will be the decision-maker; the general likely will be a non-event.) Well-known in the area and a proven vote-getter, Clements started by saying he likely wouldn't raise any money, indicating he didn't expect to campaign hard. Self-described as an "old porch dog," he seemed likely to stay ensconced on the porch.

No longer. A businessman (cabinet maker) from Union Gap, Curtis King (who also sought the Senate appointment in January), jumped in and appears to be running one heck of a campaign. The Yakima Herald Republic story on the race starts with his campaign door-knock at a house; the woman who answered the door knew exactly who he was: "Curtis King? You're the one with the signs, huh." A solid website too, an unusually long list of endorsees, and a large campaign organization as well. He is said to have 850 signs posted in Yakima; that would be a lot.

Clements may have taken his time, but he's now actively out there campaigning. Maybe just in time: The paper reports that the contest is now considered too close to call. The election is August 21.

Some street lessons here, in Politics 101.

Out of the muck, under fire

The old saying about freedom of the press runs that it can be exercised by anyone who happens to own one. That's something of a limiting factor in the world of newspapers, large presses being expensive things to own. But in the larger world of print publishing, the field is much more widely open. Ridenbaugh Press is a small business, but we own our own presses - printers - and publish on paper, as well as on line.

Beyond that, of course, the glory of the Internet is its inexpensiveness; anyone can publish there at slight cost, and almost without limit. The ability of one person to publish in print or on line is not really blocked (other than in the world of larger newspaper enterprises) by the fact that someone else is already doing so.

The airwaves are different. Frequencies are limited in quantity, are deemed to be owned in common by all of us (publicly owned), and have to be apportioned out. The renewed discussion about the fairness doctrine, tossed out with the trash a couple of decades ago, is about that. Much of the discussion has been lopsided: Barely had the idea been brought into view before a critical piling on began. (A Google search will give you an idea of that.) And since one of the national leaders in the debate, Representative Greg Walden, is from Oregon, and others (such as Idaho Senator Larry Craig) have been speaking out on it, a few words here seem appropriate.

The fairness doctrine, which required that politics and public affairs discussion on air be handled in a balanced way, is built on the idea that no one should be able to dominate the airwaves, that they were too important, and too influential, to allow any small group (or large one for that matter) to seize. (First stop in a traditional military coup d'etat? Seize the radio stations.) Most of the broadcast law this nation used for half a century was based on the same idea. Over the last couple of decades, we've tossed out the principle of many voices and many owners, and replaced it with the principle that access to the airwaves is for sale - to fewer and fewer owners, who consistently have replaced many voices with fewer and fewer, most of which tend to reflect their view of the world and support their political aims.

That is what a renewed fairness doctrine would seek to (in part) turn around, and why you're seeing such a visible battle against it - a round of blasts much more visible than the proponents of the doctrine have been able to muster.


Executive counsel

Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote today's column aimed at the selection criteria for an interim superintendent for Tacoma's schools. We'd pretty much concur with its school-related point. But for those of us outside Tacoma: Most of it is good counsel for anyone moving into (or being considered for) an executive job, whether at a large big-city organization or a volunteer community nonprofit.

Starting with qualification number one: "You're not a jerk."

Really, everything else follows from there.