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Posts published in “Day: November 25, 2007”

Of wetter days

Perry Swisher of Boise - this is a mere blog entry, so we won't recap here his almost endless activities in Idaho politics, society and government for more than a half-century - is among the relative handful of people who have been around and observed broadly enough to watch the change in the state's environment over a course of not just years but decades, and even quarter-centuries.

His columns, posted periodically for public access at the Idaho State Journal's political blog, are always worth a look. But we were struck by this recollection, as this year's winter climate starts to set in.

So much water was coursing through Hells Canyon of the Snake in the summer of 1986, that a great wave struck the steering paddle on one float vessel and knocked my cousin, a whitewater expert, into the river and drowned him. The torrent through the canyon was so inviting to rafters that a recent import into the staff of specialists at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission couldn’t stay out of it.
The result: He lost his wife because she couldn’t stand the risks he put her through and divorced him.
One serious proposal during that surplus of wet was to cut a channel west of Soda Springs and divert some of the surplus Bear River flow past Chesterfield. It would go toward Lava Hot Springs into the Portneuf River, and thence into the always thirsty Snake River at American Falls west of Pocatello.
There are geologists who say that geologically recent lava dikes formed in Eastern Idaho and rechanneled flood waters from Henry’s Fork back into the main Snake River’s flow, and thus ended a long inflow which had made what they call the Great Aquifer an underground resource to the Snake River Plain.
Had it not been for the delay in the formation of those lava dikes, this aquifer would never have become so enormous. It is still ranked as if it were the equal of one of the Great Lakes that lie above the Midwest and the New York-Ohio country.
When the big rains and snows invaded the Great Basin in the 1980s, there were those including Dr. Evan Kackley of Wayan who believed Idaho should blast a channel south of Hamer or Roberts into the lavas of the Arco desert so the prehistoric flooding could resume.
Weather and the human race are never long in agreement; maybe the Hamer-Roberts idea was all it took to dissuade the weather gods because 22 years have passed since we last saw “too much water.”
It’s true we would be tempting the fates, but we do that every time we reconvene the Idaho Legislature. I suggest the dreams we dream when in surplus be built into our plans in this time of genuine thirst.

The money spread

There's nothing especially startling in the Seattle Times piece today on fundraising in the governor's race. Snark at Sound Politics on this is duly noted on "the stunning story that persons and organizations with issues before state government are donating to an incumbent Governor after spreading their money around when the seat was open four years ago. Campaign hands across the state are floored."

From one Sound Politics comment: "That just goes to show how business-owners look out for their bottom line. Business is not like a labor union that will blindly go with the Democrat...Businesses support those who support them."

The point is still well worth noting, though, as a piece of the mosaic that goes into how relatively competitive the campaigns are. In 2004, running for an open seat, both campaigns spent in the neighborhood of $6.3 million. This time, as of the most recent reports, incumbent Democrat Chris Gregoire has raised nearly $3.6 million and Rossi somewhat under a half million; and the article notes that about $160,000 of the governor's money has come from people who donated to Rossi last time.

This picture will adjust, of course. Rossi has not been formally in the race, and has not been fundraising, for very long, and his totals should rise quickly over the next few months. Both candidates likely will shoot well past their 2004 totals; this race is not likely to be decided on the basis of money. (The last one wasn't.)

But it is a concrete indicator that the dynamic changes when you go from an open seat to an incumbent-challenger contest.