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Posts published in July 2007

WA: House Rs slipping on funds

The Seattle Weekly has totaled the numbers on legislative campaign finance so far, and come up with this:

". . . the House Democratic Campaign Committee (formerly the House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee) already has more than $450,000 in the bank— 10 times more than the Republicans have saved up. The House Republican Organizing Committee reports just $40,621 for the period ending June 30, according to the state's Public Disclosure Commission."

Slipping into extreme minority position makes the work a lot harder - a sequence of negative expectations starts to kick in. As hole get deeper, they get ever-harder to climb out of.

The Spokane torture connection

Part-way into this fine Vanity Fair piece on the development of torture as a foreign policy tool (you'll find the start of it on the second page), you'll run into something startling - the strong Spokane connection to the torture research & development industry.

Two of the main figures involved, "James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a key role in developing the Air Force's sere program, which was administered in Spokane, Washington. Dr. Bryce Lefever, command psychologist on the U.S.S. Enterprise and a former sere trainer who worked with Mitchell and Jessen at the Fairchild Air Base, says he was waterboarded during his own training." (Much of the article's focus, by the way, is on how invalid most torture-obtained information is.)

Hat tip to Jack Bog's Blog, which has been following this.

Ever-helpful friends

Steve Novick

Steve Novick

From an e-mail Democratic Senate candidate Steve Novick shot around Oregon today, making the point that one's friends can be as much a hazard as the other guys.

(You get some sense of Novick's personality in the process . . .)

So today "Just Out," the Portland newsweekly of the gay community, puts me on the cover, which is nice, but then quotes me as saying that we need to "ask people in this country to pay higher taxes" and that "our opponents will convince the public that we're doing things that are way too dangerous." Of course, what I actually said was that we need to ask SOME people (e.g., people who make all their money from capital gains) to pay higher taxes, and that if we try to really deal with the problems of the country - health care, global warming, the Federal fiscal mess -- our opponents will TRY TO convince the public that we're doing things that are way too dangerous. (If I were convinced our opponents would always win, I wouldn't run!) I'm
sending you this note as a pre-response to the Smith ad next year highlighting the tax misquote ... Still, it's nice to be on the cover holding my copy of the Schlesinger book on Bobby Kennedy ...

Cone of silence

City clubs with their luncheon speakers like to say, through their slogans, that nothing happens until people start talking. There's truth in that. But also in this: When people abruptly quit talking, something almost certainly already is happening.

Eyes once again, then, to Micron Technology at Boise.

The Boise Idaho Statesman this morning ran a richly provocative interview by columnist Dan Popkey with Gordon Smith, a board director at Micron, and formerly an executive at the J.R. Simplot Company. A view into the company via the Statesman at all is rare these days, since it hasn't been officially talking to the paper or most anyone in the Boise media except for KTVB-TV (Channel 7). But Smith, speaking for himself, did speak up, and he had some fascinating things to say. (The paper ran a story on the Smith interview, but the transcript is the thing to read.)

In a sense, there are no surprises here; but hearing it from the inside - of the board - did give confirmation to the already widely suspected.


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?