Archive for October, 2007

Oct 23 2007

Spokesman downsize

Published by under Washington

An estimated 40 jobs will be going away, 30 of them through layoffs, at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Tough times which had been earlier foreshadowed.

Publisher Stacey Cowles said the paper is going through a transition, but “we’re unsure where it is to.”

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Oct 22 2007

49, 50 and change

Published by under Oregon

Our general election ballots showed up last weekend, and we’re back from a walk to deposit them in the local ballot box. Filling them out didn’t take long since on our ballots there were only two questions to decide: Measure 49, and Measure 50.

The campaigns around both are ferocious, and as light as many Oregonians’ ballots are this season, most people in the state nonetheless probably know well that an election is on. There are too many road signs to miss.

Our votes went in favor of both measures, not because either is necessarily perfect, but because they represent an improvement on what currently is. And that’s enough. If they turn out to have problems, which could happen, there’s a legislative session nearly next year and another election a year from now, for dealing with that. The endless commercials blasting both seem overblown at best, or maybe deeply dishonest, when you bear in mind the changeability of legislation.

Measure 49, after all, is aimed at exactly that: Amending an earlier ballot issue, Measure 37 from 2004, which dramatically changed Oregon land use law.

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Oct 22 2007

Charley Clark

Published by under Idaho

Charlie Clark

Charlie Clark

Back in 2001, we had this to say in describing Union Pacific lobbyist Charlie Clark (as one of the 100 most influential people in Idaho):

Once an inherently powerful lobby in Idaho, Union Pacific (with its diminishing rail mileage) is less so now, though it still has a substantial employment base in the state, and quite a few farmers and businesses still rely on it for transport service. Clark’s experience and background, however, give UP a strong voice. He’s been at the Legislature since the early 70s (when, still a college student, he served as House Sergeant at Arms), and his close ties with a wide range of legislators and others, and sense of the ebb and flow of legislation, matter. UP took a loss in 1998, with passage of a truck weight bill; but Clark remains a major lobbying presence. He received votes for influence in the transportation field and in eastern Idaho, as well as statewide.

Those are some of the public facts, valid enough as far as they go. There are also the private, or at least less public facts, and Clark was one of those people who understood how they are as important.

Charlie Clark, whose formal title was special representative of the president (of Union Pacific Railroad), and whose government relations territory this year (it had been shifting) covered Idaho, Montana and Utah, died on Sunday. It came as a shock, completely unexpected: He had been walking his beloved dog Rags (who traveled with him almost everywhere), returned home, sat down, and passed away.

He was a good friend of many years duration, from the mid-70s when he was a new (and the youngest to date) sergeant at arms at the Idaho House, and I was starting to cover the Idaho Legislature. Just over a month ago, September 19 by the calendar, we lunched at Old Chicago in downtown Boise, hashing over as usual Idaho and its politics – Charlie was one of its best and closest observers, and professionally a fine participant too.

Charlie Clark was a corporate lobbyist, and here’s the thing: What sticks in memory most about him was the depth of humanity he brought to politics and to his trade. One mutual friend today described him as a “gentleman,” somewhat of the old school, and he was, though lacking entirely any stuffiness or pretense. But that doesn’t quite cover it, any more than saying he was a solid professional, which he also was. I’d call him “Idaho old school.”

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Oct 21 2007

Next on “Boston Legal”

Published by under Idaho

Series television, ripped from the Northwest’s headlines (courtesy Spoilerfix) . . . Up next on the Tuesday ABC show (and one of our favorites) Boston Legal (and no, we didn’t make this up) . . .

“Oral Contracts” [Airing November 13]: Alan defends Denny when he is accused of soliciting gay sex in a bathroom by two undercover cops.

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Oct 21 2007

Prop 1, visually

Published by under Washington

The Seattle Times has a great graphic out today on Proposition 1, the mega-transport funding proposal, showing in clear visuals where money would be given from taxpayers and car licensers, and where it would go toward road and Sound Transit projects. Highly recommended as a clarifier of a much bashed-around topic.

Consensus seems to be that the sides are closely enough split on the measure that its outcome is too close to call.

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Oct 20 2007

Net discrimination

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Awhile back we drew some scoffs with the suggestion that the issue of “net neutrality” could become a political hot spot. It didn’t (in a major way at least) in 2006, and hasn’t this year (owing in part to some backing off from some of the big telecoms). But it’s coming. The only question is when – and how it will be shaped.

We draw attention to this Associated Press piece on Comcast Corporation partly because Comcast is a big Internet as well as cable provider in the Northwest, and also because so many people in the region are affected by shifts or alterations in Internet traffic structures. The AP ran a sophisticated series of nationwide tests and found at Comcast “the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.”

There may be some customer-service rationale to what Comcast is doing. Essentially, it seems to be redirecting and second-tiering traffic in file sharing – transmission of often large data files – in the interest of keeping other traffic (emails, web access and so on) flowing more smoothly. File-sharing sometimes takes a hit because some of it is illegal (such as sharing of copyrighted music or videos). But a whole lot of it is legitimate; the whole field of open-source software, for one example, is absolutely reliant on it. (The Northwest’s large Linux community, for one, has been snapping to attention on this yesterday and today.) This kind of activity could seriously disrupt key file-sharing outfits like BitTorrent.

The AP describes: “Comcast’s technology kicks in, though not consistently, when one BitTorrent user attempts to share a complete file with another user. Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer — it comes from Comcast. If it were a telephone conversation, it would be like the operator breaking into the conversation, telling each talker in the voice of the other: ‘Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye.'”

One Portland area Linux user with some knowledge of how the cable net systems work sees it as a little more benign, involving trying to move large transfers toward more local networks, in an effort to conserve bandwidth. And apparently plenty of other cable companies are moving into similar technology.

Regardless, this whole territory, even if specifically justifiable, ought to make net users generally uncomfortable. At the least.

This territory is going to turn political, in significant ways. Give it time. The seeds have been planted.

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Oct 19 2007

Advance look: ID Senate ’08

Published by under Idaho

We had forgotten about this, and thanks to the brief cite at Red State Rebels that served as a reminder. To wit:

Turns out that Jim Risch, the probable Republican nominee for the Senate, delivered answers in full to the Gem State Voter Guide when he ran last year for lieutenant governor. (His opponent then and probably next year as well, Democrat Larry LaRocco, didn’t respond to the survey.) Risch’s answers are still posted on line.

The voter guide was developed by the Idaho Values Alliance, whose main spokesman is Bryan Fischer.

A sampling of the responses: “Embryonic stem cell research in Idaho” oppose; “Require state testing of home-schooled students” oppose; “Remove jurisdiction from the U.S. Supreme Court over religious liberty issues” support; “Pledge not to raise taxes, fees or rates” support; “Allow teaching in public schools that man is a created being, not an evolved being” support; “Allow teaching in public schools that the proper role of government is to protect rights given to man by God” support . . .

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Oct 19 2007

Kulongoski’s responsibility

Published by under Oregon

Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski screwed up earlier this week when he stalked out of a press conference rather than answer a TV reporter’s question about what he knew, and when he knew it, about Neil Goldschmidt‘s sexual involvement with his 14-year-old babysitter. (Oregon saw his walk-off – it was caught, on tape.) He seems to have recognized that, offering a little more response yesterday – essentially to say that arguments that he knew about the case but wrongly did nothing, were meritless. He says he didn’t know.

That is of course not ending the situation, notably since Portland talk show host Lars Larson has filed a formal complaint with the Oregon State Bar. Larson said Kulongoski had learned about it around 1991, by say of former Goldschmidt speechwriter Fred Leonhardt, who had been told by Bernie Giusto, once a driver for Goldschmidt and currently sheriff of Multnomah County. Giusto is under inquiry himself, in part for the same cause: withholding the knowledge.

The core point is put finely at Northwest Republican: “Why would you believe Fred Leonhardt over Kulongoski? Well a couple of reasons. First see the video from KGW. Second Leanhardt has taken and passed a polygraph backing up his story. And finally Kulongoski is a politician and closely tied with the child molester Goldschmidt. Remember folks, this is not just about Kulongoski hearing some rumor of a former governer. No he had heard about it and still… still decided he would appoint a child molester to the state board of education.”

And the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin blasted, “It is Ted Kulongoski’s good fortune, apparently, that ‘moral fitness’ and ‘honesty’ are standards for police officers, not governors.”

All of this certainly has a sleazy ring to it. But, leaving aside the issues of who’s telling the truth and who isn’t, it looks a little different when you untangle the pieces and put them in perspective. And it raises the question of what were Kulongoski’s – and our – obligations.

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Oct 18 2007

Shifting balances

Published by under Washington

We haven’t gotten particularly interested in the new revisions of public statements on just how much money the ’08 campaign of Representative Dave Reichert has. His spokesman’s explanation that it was an honest error – albeit one that mistakenly resulted in his campaign seeming to out-raise Democratic challenger Darcy Burner – may hold up.

But Daniel Kirkdorffer, a blogger who has been tracking 8th district campaign funding in some detail, has a larger picture that suggests some change in the contours of the congressional race:

We have a year to go, but unlike in 2005, when Reichert held a 10 to 1 money advantage at this point, this time both candidates are heading into the next 12 months essentially neck and neck in the fundraising race, with an edge to Burner due to her having more cash on hand, far less disbursements by not having any left over debt from the last election cycle to retire, and a greater upside in small donors that can be tapped further over the coming months. Reichert has 25% less cash on hand as he did at this point in 2005 despite Bush’s help, while Darcy Burner has 842% more than she did at the same point in the last race.

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Oct 18 2007

Hip Portland

Published by under Oregon

Evidently – according to a post in the Slog, admitted anecdotal but still interesting – Portland is becoming the talk of the Big Apple. But what reason exactly, doesn’t seem clear. But nonetheless.

Conclusion: “It felt like when I first went to New York, in the late 1990s, when talking about the Northwest inevitably meant talking about a certain hip new city. Back then it was my city, Seattle. Now it seems to be our southern neighbor.”

But see also the comments.

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Oct 17 2007

Entrepreneurial

Published by under Oregon

Why do incumbents, especially those in higher offices, start with such advantages? One reason is that many of them have staff who, if they’re good, look out carefully for their bosses, and seek out opportunities. Like this, from the Silverton Appeal:

Josh Thomas, a Silverton 12-year-old, had won a writing contest held by Inc. magazine, the Best Lemonade Stand in America Contest; Thomas wrote in about his own lemonade stand (Josh’s Old Fashioned Lemonade Stand, which seems to have grown into a small cottage industry). The award landed him on a Portland radio talk show. Then:

“While he answered questions and shared laughs with the radio hosts, he got a second surprise as Senator Gordon Smith, R-Ore., came on the line and offered his own congratulations and offered Josh the best of luck with his future business ventures.”

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Oct 17 2007

Blogger for -

Published by under Washington

There are some – a growing number – of candidates for office who turn to blogging as part of their campaigns (or, at least, hire it done). But so far there haven’t been a lot of consistent bloggers who have taken the plunge and filed the papers to run for office.

Jim McCabe at Richland, of the often interesting McCranium blog, has done just that – filed (as a write-in) for city council. “Butterflies in my stomach and all. Needless to say I didn’t sleep well last night,” he writes. It was prompted, apparently, by the surprise resignation of Richland Mayor Rob Welch; Welch will go to work for an organization working on combating child sexual abuse.

A campaign evidently is going to ensue, and here’s hoping McCabe records his experiences at McCranium. We’ll read with interest.

POSTSCRIPT Yeah, that’s right – your scribe did “run,” last year, for the Carlton (Oregon) Fire District board of directors, wherein he proceeded to get stomped. That filing occurred, however, only because there appeared to be dramatically more openings for the new board than there were candidates, a situation that changed just before filing deadline; and it did not involve campaigning of any sort. McCabe’s situation promises to be more lively.

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Oct 17 2007

M 50: Working it through

Published by under Oregon

Ahighly recommended read and a treat: A thoughtful wrestling with Oregon’s Measure 50, up for election in the next few weeks, which would raise tobacco taxes to pay (mostly) for health care insurance for children.

Blogger Patrick Emerson at the Oregon Economics Blog arrives at the issue conflicted. He eventually concludes he will vote for Measure 50, but not very happily.

Much of the post consists of an economist’s take on the measure. He estimates that the measure will, as a matter of dollars and cents, mostly do what its proponents suggest it will. Toward the end, through, he wraps with this:

Finally, the last issue is a population without adequate health insurance. This is not really related to smoking and is probably the reason I have so much trouble with this bill. Perhaps I am hopelessly naïve, but this bill is pure populism: let’s tax smokers (boo) and give kids health insurance (yeay). If smoking and its affects are the point of concern than create policy that deals with this. Use tax revenues to support health care for uninsured sufferers of emphysema and lung cancer. If uninsured children are a concern than create a new plan that is funded from general revenues. This creating and ear marking of specific taxes is troubling to me. I don’t like the ends-justify-the-means arguments and I don’t like it in policy either. ‘Sin’ taxes are a political expedient, but are not necessarily good policy (see the beer tax debate from the last legislative session).

But in the end I’ll probably vote for it. What the hell? I don’t smoke!

Next up: A look at Measure 49.

(Hat tip to Blue Oregon for the find.)

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Oct 16 2007

Re-viewing Craig

Published by under Idaho

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

This, the Larry and Suzanne Craig interview on NBC by Matt Lauer, came a month after Craig hired heavy crisis control guns, and so it had a carefully defined purpose. It was the same purpose as the famous early 1992 interview on 60 Minutes with Bill and Hillary Clinton: Rehabilitation on a personal level.

It may have worked to a point. To a point.

That point is that the hour-long program gave exposure to not a punchline, not a caricature, but an actual human being. He strikes as humble; his typically strident speaking style is muted, he seems calmer and more reflective, and he comes off as more likable for it.

Did Craig’s claims of innocence convince? Probably not. Most minds long since have been made up about that – too many weeks have passed – and the string of what Craig argues are fluke coincidences surrounding the Minneapolis incident are just too many.

But it may soften some attitudes, especially among people who would like to feel better about Craig. It could make some difference in D.C.; it may help Craig a bit when he travels around Idaho. Somewhat the way the Clintons interview did them. (That interview didn’t, after all, convince many people that Clinton hadn’t philandered.) And Craig did pretty well in the interview; he is naturally articulate, and doubtless extremely thoroughly prepped on top of that.

One other thing, can’t help it. Matt Lauer and Steve Carrell: Separated at birth, right?

VIEWS Probably the program didn’t change many views of people who had strongly-held views beforehand. The Idaho Statesman followed up with an editorial reiterating its call for Craig’s resignation. At New West/Boise, Jill Kuraitis wrote, “The stunning miscalculation that more exposure for Craig would ‘set the record straight’ defies common sense. It’s that when-you’re-in-a-hole-stop-digging thing. The predictable over-rehearsed impression made by the skillful politician put Craig’s unctuous speaking style on display for a whole hour. It was two hours for those of us in Boise who first watched an hour of KTVB’s anchor Mark Johnson interview Craig with mostly softball questions, which also didn’t help Craig. Obvious is obvious.”

That sounds about right, in part at least, but consider also the response from Talking Point Memo’s Josh Marshall: “I watched a portion of Larry Craig’s chat with Matt Lauer. And his denial was so thorough and complete that I had moments where I was almost lulled into the thought that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding.”

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Oct 16 2007

Walden’s SCHIP spot

Published by under Oregon

The Northwest’s congressional delegation has run strongly in favor of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. On the crucial House side, just three of the region’s 16 House members seem to be against it: Bill Sali and Greg Walden.

Sali is easy to figure, is an opponent generally of social services spending: “This bill is very harmful. It takes money from hardworking Americans while opening the door to provide health insurance to undocumented foreign nationals, including gang members, drug cartel operatives and terrorists. Further, it taxes Idahoans to provide health insurance to people already covered by private insurance or can afford to get it.” (The other Idaho representative, Mike Simpson, who had been a dentist in private life, went the other way on SCHIP.) Washington’s Doc Hastings has similarly anti-spending views.

But Oregon’s Greg Walden is a more complex case. A post on Blue Oregon had this useful background:

In 1993, after Oregon received federal approval to implement the Oregon Health Plan, then-House Majority Leader Greg Walden negotiated the political deal to jumpstart the plan with a 10-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes. Through these negotiations, Walden demonstrated that he was not an ideologue. To the contrary, Walden was a skillful pragmatist. The deal served his interests since, as commentators at the time noted, Walden had his eye on a future Governor’s race.

Fast forward to 2007 and the present debate between Congress and the Bush Administration about extending and funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Walden began the year lending his name to a letter to the House budget committee arguing for more money for CHIP in the budget. But something happened to Walden by the time the reauthorization and appropriations bill came up for a vote in the House – he backed the President and opposed the CHIP measure. When the compromise conference committee version came back to the House floor, he voted against kids’ health insurance, again.

The next key House vote on SCHIP, veto override vote, comes on Thursday.

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Oct 15 2007

Back atcha

Published by under Idaho

We were sort of noting, repeatedly, back when Idaho Senator Larry Craig was supposed to have been planning to resign, that if he didn’t, he would be in the unusual position of being able to say what he really thinks about people and politics, including many of those at the highest levels.

He has some reasons of loyalty for not bashing some of those Idaho Republicans, such as the other members of the state’s congressional delegation, who haven’t turned on him. But a whole lot of other Republicans may have to watch out.

That was our thought today when we saw Craig’s quote, to NBC, about presidential candidate Mitt Romney: “I’d worked hard for him here in the state. I was a co-chair of his campaign on Capitol Hill. And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.”

Having established some cred with that quote – because what that metaphoric depiction is what happened – you wonder what observations are next.

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Oct 14 2007

Train, train

Published by under Idaho,Oregon

Can’t recommend holding your breath in waiting for this, but the political stars in favor of the Pioneer line just might be calling into place for the first time in a lot of years. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is on board with it again, as he has been in years past, as are the two Oregon senators, but perhaps in the next few years the political environment will be less daunting than it was.

A new Senate billS. 294, Amtrak reauthorization – which, among other things, would do a preliminary Pioneer evaluation, moved out of Senate Commerce in May, and now may be getting some of the floor push it needs – the list of co-sponsors is approaching 50 names. An evaluation might or might not pass this year. But if the Senate moves increasingly Democratic after the next election, as seems likely, public transit ideas already in the pipeline may get considerable push. And there’s excellent prospective support in the House, where Oregon’s Peter deFazio is the go-to guy on transportation funding these days.

A lot of this has to do with the standards used to maintain transit lines. Pioneer, which once carried passengers (your scribe, periodically) on a line that included a run from Ogden to Pocatello to Boise across Oregon to Portland, shut down 10 years ago; it was reported to have lost $20 million in its last year. But, of course, that depends in part on how you count.

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WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.

 

 
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This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
 
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100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
Idaho
 
 
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.

 

Hardy

 
"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
 
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Drafted
 
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Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
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The CONVERSATIONS WITH ATIYEH page.

Atiyeh
 
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One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.


 
Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and 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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Diamondfield
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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.
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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  
 
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