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Posts published in July 2007

Craig, Iraq and oil

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig's Senate floor statement on the consequences of destabilizing Iraq - throwing the supply of oil into that mix - is less sweeping or conclusive than some sites are suggesting. The indication is that Craig was saying we're in Iraq because of oil; a reading of his floor statement shows that he didn't say that. (His floor statement in full appears after the jump.)

Some of what he did say was striking enough, though.

Craig is a capable, even gifted, floor speaker, and some of his comments - especially in the earlier sections - wandered and recycled quite a bit. He was quick to say the late-night Senate Iraq debate was political, which of course it was at least in part. He also entered a shot that the Senate was trying to get into battlefield decisions (which it wasn't; it was debating the policy matter of whether the country should be in the battlefield at all). And there was some discussion about veterans legislation, which didn't seem on point to the issues at hand. He reiterated some "cutting and running" rhetoric.

After all that, he found some focus on a serious and difficult question: What happens after departing Iraq? "What happens if we don't find a strategic way out?" he asked. "It is important that we put ourselves in perspective of the world that involves Iraq and its surrounding neighbors. You have heard a lot of rhetoric about the instability, about the role of Iran and certainly what's going on in the north here with the Kurdish population and what Turkey is doing, amassing troops along this border. You've heard about what's going on in Lebanon and certainly the traumatic reality that is happening there. Premature withdrawal from Iraq would risk, I believe, plunging this--that Nation into chaos which could spill over its borders into the gulf region that you see here."

Serious points. From there he moved to this:

Tehran would extend its destabilizing activities to another very important part of the region - Kuwait - and the oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia along this border here, one of the larger producing oilfields in the region and the kingdom could well fall. And those are the realities we face at this moment that I think few want to talk about. Let's talk about another consequence.

I will put the balance of my statement in the record. But the other
consequence, Mr. President, that we've not talked about is what happens when 54 percent of the world's oil supply goes to risk with a collapse of the region. And this is a reality check that we only talk about in hushed terms, because we don't like to talk
about our dependency on a part of the world that is so unstable.

Not the same thing as saying, "this is why we're there." But it does translate to saying one of the key reasons we're still there is, "because of oil."

And that does provide his Democratic challenger, Larry LaRocco, with the grounds for responding (as he did to New West) with this: "Craig’s silence all along on the Iraq war and his failure to challenge the Bush administration’s failed policies - even after the casualties mounted - led me to suspect there is something else beyond terrorism in his silence. And now we know."

Craig's floor statement:


Slam dunk

The Boise mayoral debate between incumbent Dave Bieter and challenger (and council member) Jim Tibbs emerged about as lopsided as we suspected it might, and for the same reasons: Tibbs has utterly failed to develop a rationale for his candidacy. A (well-regarded) career in the Boise police force, and a long stretch as a respected community figure, isn't it, and he's giving no evidence he knows that.

The 55-minute debate, sponsored by IQ Idaho (a business magazine), is posted on the KBOI radio site; watch for yourself. What we see boils down cleanly.

There are more eloquent speakers than Beiter, but he concise and clear, and displayed a sweeping grasp of the city's situation and its options. He cited specifics (more park space, Community House resolution, expanded library services among them) in making a fair-sounding case for a successful first term and a rationale for a second.

Tibbs was maddeningly vague. He spoke of how better relations with extra-city officials (other local agencies, legislators and others) would be good; to accomplish what exactly, he doesn't really say. And how he's been disappointed that the city hasn't done better in recent years. Thought it's done good. Though relations between the mayor and the council (on which he sits) are okay. He guesses. Boise can do better, he said; but how? He never said. What would make it better? Didn't say. Boise is special, he said; but you'd have to scrape through the debate to get any sense of what he think specifically makes it so. Specifics were so lacking through so much of his talk that in many places you had to remind yourself that this really was a guy with deep roots in Boise - the bulk of what he said sounded so generic it could have been ghost written by someone who'd never visited Boise.

Bieter comparatively was far more specific, clear on foothills developmnt (he's generally against it), while Tibbs wove between concern for the foothills and private property rights - where he would wind up was anyone's guess. A Boise mayor probably should be more specific than Bieter is on Boise's long-range growth, but he has at least a general vision for how it ought to grow, and what specific considerations should be borne in mind. Good luck trying to summarize Tibbs' view on any of this.

None of these takes are especially unique to this site. New West has said some of the same. And the Idaho Statesman's editorial today led with this: "There's a long way to go until the Nov. 6 Boise mayor's election.That's a good thing for City Councilman Jim Tibbs, because he has a long way to go to make a case to replace incumbent Dave Bieter."

To run, or not . . .

Portland Mayor Tom Potter's immediate political future - that is, whether he runs for re-election next year - remains unclear; the man himself isn't sayin'. But with announcement time presumably getting somewhere near (not long after Labor Day, supposedly), interest is growing.

If he doesn't run, Council member Sam Adams is considered likely to run. Others are out there as prospects, too, including businessman Roy Jay, an interesting personality and prospect.

But will Potter run? The Portland Tribune is indicating not. A reader poll on Jack Bog's Blog is thinking he won't run (readers voting that way 89-29).

Increasingly, we're inclined to agree.

Shetterly out

Lane Shetterly

Lane Shetterly

That Lane Shetterly isn't an Oregon household name is a little amazing, and suggests the difficulty - his resignation now announced - Governor Ted Kulongoski may have in replacing him.

Chosen in 2004 to head the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, he settled into office just as Measure 37, which upended key parts of the agency's mission, was being passed, and becoming the highest-profile issue in the state. That alone would have been enough trouble for many people to handle. Atop that, Shetterly had another prospective problem spot. He was a Republican, a Republican legislator (one of the declining numbers of moderates) appointed to the directorate by a Democratic governor. Had he slipped seriously, on his trek through the hurricane, maybe Kulongoski would have felt some loyalty and tried to help, but neither political party would have had a great interest in going out of their way on his behalf.

He never really did seem to slip up, though. He seemed to manage the department with caution and care - two excellent attributes under the circumstances - and when he spoke in public, he projected openness and also measured his words. He entered into no big public squabbles. We recall an instance interviewing him during one of the Measure 37 transition points; his responses were clear and comprehensible and met the questions, open without being so casual as to trip any land mines.

If the new Measure 49, revising 37, passes this year, Shetterly's management at LCD may be one of the reasons.

Formerly a state House member from Dallas, he is returning to his family's law practice (Shetterly Irick & Ozias: his father was a firm founder, and he worked there too for many years) in that city. Kulongoski's task now is no less clear but may be more difficult: Finding someone who can maintain so sure a track in the months ahead.

Bellevue megahouse limits

The city of Bellevue appears to be moving ahead on something Seattle has been struggling with: Controlling the explosion in supersized megahouses.

No formal regulations yet; options are still under review. But restrictions do appear to be on the way.

WA: Launching the lands race

Peter Goldmark

Peter Goldmark

Doug Sutherland

Doug Sutherland

The last outcome, last year, wasn't all that promising: After a strong push and widespread word that the race would be close, Democrat Peter Goldmark didn't wind up especially close to taking out Republican Representative Cathy McMorris. Of course, he was then running in one of the most Republican parts of Washington, and this time he'll be running in Washington overall, which could change the picture.

So, Goldmark's announcement Monday that he's running for state lands commissioner, the job now held by Republican Doug Sutherland. It could be doable.

On one hand, Sutherland hasn't been an especially controversial office holder, seems to have generally good relations around Olympia. And he has background in the key swing area of Tacoma and Pierce County, where he was twice elected mayor and twice county executive, respectively. He's been elected commissioner twice statewide.

But those wins weren't spectacular. In 2000, he won by a close 49.5%-45.1%, although that involved beating a former (and controversial) governor, Mike Lowry. In 2004, when he might have been expected to do much better, his margin diminished: 50%-46.7% over Democrat Mike Cooper, who never caught fire but did fire shots at Sutherland that have echoes in Goldmark's now.

Goldmark's rationale is simply put: "From the perspective of rural communities, school districts, users and neighbors of our state lands, we see a Commissioner that is too tied to corporate interests, too focused on short term profits at the expense of long term planning, and frankly not listening to the people impacted by his decisions in Olympia. I'll bring a unique perspective to the office-a voice for rural Washington, for long term conservation goals, and sustainable resources and revenues for our communities and educational institutions."

His early start will help. And hailing as he does from Okanogan County, he may be able to dig a little (not to overstate the matter) into the normal Republican numbers east of the Cascades. And, of course, Washington has been trending Democratic in the last few elections, and Sutherland has scant margin to lose.

Sutherland may need to jump in soon himself, if he wants a third term.

ALSO As David Postman writes, and the Post-Intelligencer has reported, state Senator Erik Poulsen, D-West Seattle, and King County Councilman Dow Constantine have been noted as expressing interest. Will Goldmark's nearly official entry dampen theirs?

Latest departure: Dallum

John Dallum

John Dallum

The outlook for a Republican re-control of the Oregon House continues to worsen: Representative John Dallum, R-The Dalles, said today he will resign as of the end of the month. He had been thought likely to run again; as it is, a Republican successor will likely be named in August.

Politics and the shift to the minority evidently aren't the reason. An e-mail that went to The Dalles Chronicle explained, “I have been offered a job in Valier, Montana, a town that is less then two hours away from my grandkids! Dorthy and I could not pass up the opportunity to move back to Montana where we could be close to family."

There is political impact, however.



The single most striking number on the regional quarterly congressional campaign finance reports may have been this: $1,568,720. That's the amount Mike Erickson, who ran against Democratic incumbent Darlene Hooley last year, says his campaign remains in debt. (Consider for a moment the pressure for hard and immediate fundraising he would have been under as an incumbent had he won. Consider the difficulty of it now.)

All right - according to the FEC paperwork, he owes it to himself, at least as a direct matter. But is it not forgiven, or wiped off, for some particular reason?

Apart from that, the most striking thing to emerge from the Federal Election Commission database - the day after the filing deadline - may have been an absence: In Idaho, only two people, incumbent Republican Representative Mike Simpson and 2006 candidate Sheila Sorensen, have filed their second quarterlies. (Simpson reports a modest $74,789 on hand, but better than the $219,597 debt Sorensen reports.) There's no filing yet in the database from any of the active or prospective 1st district candidates in this cycle.

Nor much from challengers in Washington and Oregon. The region's House leader for cash on hand - and no debt - is Washington Democrat Brian Baird, at $817,165. Oregon Democrats David Wu and Earl Blumenauer and Republican Greg Walden, and Washington Democrat Adam Smith all have more than $400,000 on hand. The rest have smaller amounts, mostly somewhat over $100,000.

Ahead in Idaho

Polling is out in presidential preferences in Idaho, and while there's no enormous shock, they're worthy of note.

The new results come from Greg Smith Associates of Eagle; the report cautions any reading of them, owing partly to a smaller than usual sample size.

Smith, who is a public supporter of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, must have been heartened by the Republican results, which gave Romney a big lead (especially in eastern Idaho), 38% to 20% for second-place Rudy Guiliani; not-yet-candidate (depending on how you describe him and who he describes himself to) Fred Thompson is third at 18%. Of course, Idaho would be expected to be one of Romney's best states; most of Idaho's Republican political establishment is already in his camp.

Among Democrats, top place went a man not in the race, former Vice President Al Gore, at 31%, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton basically tied, for second after Gore or for first place if Gore is excluded.

A comment: “Note that no candidate in either party, except for Romney, currently garners more than a third of support among primary election/caucus participants. The contest here in Idaho, like in the rest of the nation, is by no means a lock for any candidate, although it is interesting even at this early stage how small the “soft” support level is for any candidate.”

Friendly advice

Washington gubernatorial maybe-candidate Dino Rossi is taking some bruising over the Forward Washington foundation, which is in essence a campaign front - something the state's disclosure commission is looking into.

Its benefit was supposed to be the development of useful ideas for governing Washington. Problem for Rossi, his second big one in connection with this project, is that the ideas generated have some, ah, problems attached.

One of the key people on the foundation's "idea bank" group is Lou Guzzo, a former journalist for both Seattle dailies and a staffer long ago for former Washington Governor Dixie Lee Ray. This video of Guzzo has been posted (at the Slog and Horse's Ass, among other places) as a shot at Rossi (who is in it). It may hit its mark.

So often in politics, it's your friends who kill you.

Zero to 40,000

Blue Lakes Blvd

Above, Twin Falls's busiest, Blue Lakes Boulevard, a century ago/TF Library via Times News; below, Blue Lakes nowBlue Lakes Blvd

Twin Falls is taking some note, amid its substantial growth, of a population mark estimates now project: It is over 40,000 people. The Times News there is reflecting a little on that - is it good or bad, and does it make the community more a large small town or a smallish city?

What it is, of course, is a regional center - the main economic, cultural and governmental center of a large area, dominant about half way to Boise to west or Pocatello to the east - each of those cities being more than 100 miles away. It is, in other words, the center of the Magic Valley, the closest thing to an urban hub. It fits much the same role as a number of mostly larger cities around the Northwest - Yakima, Wenatchee, Idaho Falls, and maybe Bend or Walla Walla come to mind.

Some other parts of the Magic Valley haven't been growing so much, and Twin Falls has been pulling from them - places like Gooding, Wendell, Shoshone, Buhl, and a string of smaller towns. While Twin Falls' Blue Lakes Boulevard is as busy and franchise-full as comparable retail streets in much larger urban areas, many of the satellite small communities have been struggling. Some of those may look at the shot of Blue Lakes Boulevard from a century ago, and shudder rather than smile.

Port in a storm

Gael Tarleton

Gael Tarleton

Port politics is often not for the squeamish, either on its own merits - the ports have had their ethical challenges over the years - or in the sometimes roughhouse nature of their local battles. (Ask Oregon's Betsy Johnson about her years with the relatively small Port of St. Helens.) Bloggers have begun to find undercovered territory here, and the Port Observer site in recent months has been looking more aggressively at the Port of Seattle.

Consider this summary from a report the Observer site posted a few days ago:

Port of Seattle Commission candidate Gail [actually Gael] Tarleton says she wants to restore accountability and transparency to the Port of Seattle. But an investigation by The Port Observer of Tarleton’s own involvement with a controversial ports contractor raises troubling questions about her own ties to special interests.

Prior to her current position at The University of Washington's Office of Global Affairs, Tarleton was a long time employee (1990-2002) of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a large contractor for the U.S. defense and intelligence communities with a troubled history.

The Port Observer has learned that in addition to a wide array of other business, SAIC sells multi-million dollar gamma ray container scanning equipment to ports around the world. In recent years SAIC has been aggressively courting U.S. Ports in an attempt to sell this equipment.

The port has five commissioners, and this year election is up for two of the seats, those held by Bob Edwards (seat 2) and Alec Fisken (seat 5). There's plenty of interest in both, with five challengers (Tarleton among them) for Edwards' seat and three for Fisken's.

You might gather from the Port Observer's report that Tarleton is a connected insider, but apart from her role as a challenger to Edwards (who has been on the commission nearly eight years, is very well connected around Renton and other King County local government) there's her campaign rationale: "King County citizens deserve decisive and open leadership from the Port of Seattle. Furthermore, our citizens want their elected officials to focus on the real issues of environmental standards, port security, living wage jobs and of course, accountability. The Port of Seattle, to date, has failed us on each." And adds, "Never-ending scandals, mismanaged property tax dollars and a complete lack of transparency have all contributed to a severe public distrust."

That said, she's pretty well connected herself: Her list of endorsees includes a large portion of Seattle's Democratic legislative delegation, most of the local Democratic Party organization and - showing some breadth here - the Alki Foundation.

Her web site doesn't shy from the SAIC Global Technology connection; it's prominent in her campaign bio, along with her earlier role as an analyst for the Department of Defense. Interesting background for a Democratic-backed candidate. Most of the facts don't seem greatly in dispute. More to the point is, what will Seattle voters make of them - solid experience that could help improve a troubled district, or a list of ties and links that could lead to hard questions down the road? An investigative story, or a proudly-cited piece of relevant experience?