Archive for October, 2007

Oct 24 2007

The daily crises

Published by under Idaho

At the New West Boise blog, Jill Kuraitis has a nice first-person piece up about what happened after she heard a report suggesting that her in-uniform son might have been hurt, or worse, and how she got help and information (and, finally, word that her son was okay) from the office of Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.

She concludes, “In an election year, it’s often overlooked that winning political campaigns turn into government offices which serve the people. A lot of what a senators field staff does resembles my story, although most are not so easy. They may try to help a farmer whose crop has failed, or track down a scholarship for a deserving kid, or help a widow collect her social security or pension. All Congressbeings have staff who do nothing but constituent service, and they don’t ask if you voted for their boss.”

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Oct 24 2007

Where Rossi might go

Published by under Washington

Tomorrow Dino Rossi, the Republican once and presumably about-to-be (we try never to say that something will happen – you never can tell for sure) candidate for governor of Washington, is scheduled to make his big announcement, once in east King County and then in Spokane. (All right, the dual announcement is itself indicative of entry into the race.) At that point, with a formally announced candidate running, the games begin.

So what is Rossi’s strategy? The Seattle Times‘ David Postman has been mulling just that, and poses the question for readers: “What would you tell Rossi to say Thursday when he announces his second campaign for governor? For example, I’ve been wondering how much time he’ll spend in his announcement talking about 2004 and his drawn out battle against Gov. Christine Gregoire. Does it help to make this about a rematch and Rossi’s attempt to claim — or reclaim as he’d say — what Republicans think is rightfully his?”

There’d be temptation for Rossi to do that, coming so achingly close only to see his opponent do a whole bunch of stuff, acting very ambitiously, as though she had a landslide mandate (somewhat like a president of our acquaintance). Our thought is that, aside from maybe a quick reference or two, a wink/nod to the faithful who remain convinced he was robbed, he’d be much wiser to move quickly past it. Focus on his loss in 2004 would cast him as a sour-grapes loser, locked in with the might’ve-beens, stuck in the past, someone out for revenge – not the image of someone you’d want as governor. Besides, those who thought he was robbed already are in his camp; he won’t add to their numbers by emphasizing that bit of history.

How would Rossi be better advised to handle his rematch? By recognizing the political changes the state has been through (such as the overwhelming Democratic control of the legislature), and using them. He could say: “Look at what this all-Democratic state government has been doing – but most important, look at the trend line. I have plenty of concerns with the emphasis on tax increases over the last four years. But that’s not why I’m running again; that’s history. This election is about who will be governor for the next four years. My concern is: Where will four more years of unchecked Democratic control leave us? Do you really want four more years of government so completely in the control of one party, with no one to cry foul or be able to check the bad ideas that come up? Do you want only one set of ideas on the table – or would we be better off having a broader set of ideas in play? Like these that I want to put on the table . . .”

A cautionary note, but without hard-core attack; a call (implicitly, not so explicitly as to put off his partisans) for big-picture moderation; an indication of dealing with a range of ideas, rather than hard-core ideology; a look ahead rather than to the past; a call again (but with a fresh angle) for a partisan break in the governor’s office. (Note to Postman: Here’s your answer from this corner.)

As to what Rossi actually says, we’ll all find out tomorrow.

FLIP SIDE For a sense of the message problems Rossi does face, though, check out the crafty Democratic video about “Rossi’s rationale.”

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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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Oregon State Highway film from 1966. A few changes since then.

 

JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
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JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

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