Archive for November, 2007

Nov 23 2007

In celebration of the Prince of Peace

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Scenes from around the Northwest on the day after our giving of thanks, demonstrating why the day has gotten the nickname of Black Friday (and not just for the inkstains of retailer bookkeepers).

North of Seattle:

Alderwood Mall’s first crack at midnight madness on Black Friday became just down right maddening for some shoppers. The Lynnwood mall, following a national trend to open when the clock strikes 12 to lure early holiday shoppers, had an unexpected rush of consumers in the morning’s wee hours. Some screeching shoppers bolted through the doors right after midnight. . . . “I think this is the dumbest idea they have ever had,” said a frustrated Matt Carter of Snohomish. “This is not an environment for young kids. All it takes is for one person to fall down and you would get trampled.” . . . For Katy Brock and Samantha Brotherton of Shoreline, who arrived at Alderwood Mall at 9:30 p.m., it was the first stop before hitting the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip. “Then it’s bed,” said the 18-year-old Brock. “There will be no shopping tomorrow morning when the crazy soccer moms are out.”

Along I-5:

Washington State troopers made 178 traffic stops over two days on Interstate-5 near Federal Way as shoppers headed to find bargains at local shopping malls. In one hour this morning along a section of I-5 in Snohomish County, which is being patrolled by aircraft, troopers pulled over 20 vehicles for speeding. “There’s still a lot of activity trying to get to and from the big sales,” said State Patrol spokesman Jeff Merrill. “We want to remind people to slow down a bit.” He said in four hours Thursday morning, troopers made 118 stops with one car going over 110 miles an hour.

In Boise, at Boise Towne Square:

So many people surged forward when the mall opened that one of the glass doors was knocked completely off its frame, according to Darcy Shippey, marketing manager at the mall. At least one woman fell and was helped up by people nearby. A pregnant women was overcome and an ambulance was called. No details on her condition have been released.

In the Inland Empire:

“I dreamt that I didn’t get up until 7:15 and missed all the sales,” said Leslie Naccarato. That would have been a nightmare, according to the St. Maries woman, who clutched a handful of ads as she stood in line for Wal-Mart’s 5 a.m. opening in Post Falls. On her shopping list: three portable DVDs and a laptop. “I’m saving $350,” she said.

Season’s greetings.

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Nov 22 2007

Batter up in the WA 4th

Published by under Washington

George Fearing

George Fearing

Before long we’ll launch our revisable list of candidates for major office in the Northwest, so we’ve been watching to see who we might have missed. And ran across one this morning.

George Fearing, an attorney from Richland, is running for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Representative Doc Hastings, who has consistently won with strong margins since his first election in 1994.

The major piece on Fearing’s efforts so far has shown up on Evergreen Politics, which has posted a sizable interview with him. It makes for an interesting profile of a conventional Tri-Cities attorney at a mostly Republican law firm (whose clients, he says, include Hastings), who also sees fit to visit the Yearly Kos event and mingle with Seattle bloggers, while getting his campaign launched (much earlier than most other challengers). Worth a read.

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Nov 22 2007

A Melaleuca report

Published by under Idaho

Melaleuca

Melaleuca

Readers in Idaho even more than those in the Puget Sound may find of interest (hat tip here to one of our Idaho readers) a piece in the Seattle Weekly about the Idaho Falls company Melaleuca, and its top executive, Frank VanderSloot.

It’s a good backgrounder on a company and a man playing a large and growing role in Idaho politics. The article points out some of VanderSloot’s political involvement and his long-time support for Senator Larry Craig. It did leave out, though, the most recent bit of news, that Republican Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch, who is running to succeed Craig in the Senate, leased a Melaleuca aircraft in his state-hop for campaign announcement. The close involvement continues.

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Nov 21 2007

A revolutionary upholding of law?

Published by under Washington

Richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

Thejust-released decision in Washington State Farm Bureau Federation v. Gregoire by the Washington Supreme Court could almost be a straddler in its majority opinion, perhaps reflecting the variety of views that resulted in no fewer than five documents (including concurrances and dissent) in the decision folder today.

Much the most striking was the dissent offered by Justice Richard Sanders, which ended with an unexpected bit of wit: “Aside from that, I concur in the remainder of the majority’s opinion.” Witty, of course, because he had ripped into practically every underlying premise the majority had; unexpected, because his own views are so . . . well, read them for yourself below.

The case was a response to Initiative 601, passed as the Taxpayer Protection Act by Washington’s voters in 1993, aimed at limiting the ability of the legislature to raise taxes. When in 2005 the legislature raised tobacco and alcohol taxes, a coalition (including the Farm Bureau) sued, saying it had violated the terms of the initiative.

The main decision skirted the key issues here, holding (though some of the reasoning here seems obscure) that the legislature’s action didn’t formally violate the initiative’s terms. But much of the argument centered on a point the majority seemed not to want to formally nail down: The relationship between initiatives and the legislature. The majority opinion suggested but stopped barely short of saying explicitly that Initiative 601 ran afoul of the constitution, because it tried to bind the legislature in a way that only the constitution itself could.

The basic rule, commonly understood around the country in states that allow initiatives, is that legislation passed by initiative has the same standing as laws passed by the legislature. Just as any session of a legislature can revise laws passed by earlier sessions, and as initiatives can amend laws passed by legislatures, so legislatures can – possibly at their political peril – revise or even toss out measures passed by initiative. All these variations have happened in many states, Oregon and Idaho included, and all of this is commonly accepted as understood process. The Washington Supreme Court majority apparently does too: “A law passed by initiative is no less a law than one enacted by the legislature. Nor is it more. A previously passed initiative can no more bind a current legislature than a previously enacted statute.”

Besides the main majority opinion, the case generated four other concurrences or dissent. There’s a broader and recommended overview of court reactions to the case on the David Postman blog. Here, we’ll focus more specifically on Sanders.

Continue Reading »

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Nov 21 2007

It seemed like a good idea

Published by under Oregon

Portland has a reputation of being a city where a variety of people can co-exist peaceably, without major uproar. But maybe we need to readjust that view: The heels seem to be digging in, and if the furies are getting this intense over the naming of a street, you have to wonder what will happen when decisions have to be made about something, you know, important.

We’re referring, of course, to the city civic issue in town for the last couple of months (maybe the city should be delighted that nothing more important has had to seize its attention), the proposed renaming of Interstate Avenue in Northeast Portland to Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Several Hispanic groups had sought the name change (noting that major throughways had been renamed for Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks), and Mayor Tom Potter jumped in with them.

But the proposal drew big resistance and angry meetings at the neighborhood, where Interstate Avenue had just in recent years become (owing to a MAX train line and revived commerce) something of a local brand name. The rest of the city council has been trying to deal with the situation for months now.

We thought they might have found an elegant solution in the proposed (four council members loosely expressing support for) A Chavez renaming of Southwest 4th Street, the street on which sits City Hall. How could the Hispanic activists, or even the mayor, dis that idea? Turned out, they did. And so did another ethnic group, the business and other people of the city’s Chinatown, through which 4th runs (for a short distance). (Potter, who declared himself “irrelevant” at one council session on the topic and consistently has rejected any but the Interstate option, seems to be ever more determined to lock in his own description as accurate.)

So now the report is that the city council is bagging the whole Chavez rename idea. Maybe just as well, at least until the concept of compromise returns to the discussion.

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Nov 20 2007

A recall update

Published by under Oregon

Following up on a post from few days back about local government recalls, we noted that a recall election had been set for November 20 in our home base community of Carlton, Oregon. The target was the veteran mayor, Kathy Oriet.

Results (most, with a few additional ballots likely to be added0 just in: The recall failed, 191-243.

AURORA UPDATE But – looks as if the mayor in Aurora will be ousted. The ballot count as of midday Wednesday showed the mayor losing by five votes (181-176). We haven’t heard yet what was the crisis so overwhelming in the town of fewer than 1,000 people so serious that the voters couldn’t just wait until the next election.

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Nov 20 2007

Thayn family values

Published by under Idaho

Steven Thayne

Steven Thayne

We were not among those who jumped on Senator Larry Craig’s case on grounds of pushing for one policy while (apparently) doing just the opposite in his personal life: Craig’s leadership issues have had to do with natural resources, balanced budgets and the like, more than with social issues.

But Idaho state Representative Steven Thayne, R-Sweet, has made himself the point man for the state’s setters of policy – the Idaho Legislature – both by his positions and comments and formally as chair of the interim Family Task Force, set up “To study the magnitude of the decline of the family since 1950; the effects the decline has had on state social policies; the reasons for the decline, and ways to strengthen the family.”

Moscow Republican Senator Gary Schroeder remarked of the group, “Basically, they are people who think women ought to stay home and take care of the kids.” And the Idaho Statesman added, “Thayn does not shy from this view, calling pre-kindergarten education a ‘free babysitting service’ and suggesting that early childhood education, day-care and Head Start may hurt families by keeping mothers away from home.”

Thayne’s own approach to family values, noted distinctly in his campaigns, has cropped up occasionally. Back in February we quoted from an email by Thayne concerning the Idaho Summit on Hunger: ‘Hunger is not always a negative as the report indicates. Without hunger or the threat of hunger probably half of humanity would not get up in the morning and go to work. Hunger is one of the great motivators of humanity. It is one of the tools that I used as a parent to encourage my children to do their choirs [sic] as young children. When used properly, hunger can motivate people so they can experience the joy of work and accomplishment.’” Hunger, in other words, can be a family value.

And apparently the picture fills in further with a post on Mountain Goat Report, about the April 4 arrest of Thayne’s son on charges of domestic battery against his newlywed wife. (That post has a thorough rundown of the situation.)

So the policy question logically presents itself: If, as Thayne suggests, it is the breakdown of the traditional family structure that causes such problems as domestic violence, what was the cause in the case of his own family? Might not his proposed view of women have something to do with it? And should not the Task Force address that?

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Nov 19 2007

Accumulation of

Published by under Oregon

Irresistable news story lead of the day, from a report ut of Central Point by the Medford Mail-Tribune:

“Attempting to remedy what city officials say has been an ongoing code violation, former Mayor Rusty McGrath was cited for accumulation of junk on his Freeman Road property last week.”

Write your own commentary on that one . . .

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Nov 19 2007

Presidential, fresh

Published by under Washington

We’ll cop to having long ago had a bellyful of presidential come-to-town events: They are neither informative nor fun. Increasingly as campaigns have gone on, they have become wrapped in security and conditions and determination from candidates and campaigns to say absolutely nothing that might be in any way be damaging, which usually means saying nothing of any interest.

With that attitude firmly in hand, a piece in the Slog today came as refreshing. Posted by Ryan Jackson, it describes a Seattle Stranger reporter’s first exposure to the presidential candidate come-to-town scene. Conclusion: “It was a weird kind of fun.”

Okay. It seems that way. For a while.

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Nov 18 2007

The church page

Published by under website

Drawing your attention to our latest page, “At the churches,” a list of major churches around the Pacific Northwest – primarily those called megachurches.

The idea is not that they’re politically active (though some do have roles that relate to politics in various ways). More, the idea is that these churches are major contributors of ideas in our society, developers of world views that in turn come to influence voting patterns and political activity, even if only very indirectly. We’ve been quietly watching activity in this area for a while; in the weeks and months to come, you’ll see somewhat more posts here on this subject. Consider this page an opening of marking of territory of interest.

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Nov 18 2007

Why Idaho Ds like Obama

Published by under Idaho

Sometimes the reason partisans in a given area support a particular presidential candidate are clear enough, sometimes a little less obvious. Of the three Northwest states, Idaho offers the most educational instances of both with the evidently really decisive levels of support within each party for a particular candidate: former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among Republicans, and Illinois Senator Barack Obama among Democrats.

The Romney connection is clear enough for several reasons, starting with the Mormon connection but moving on to other factors. The Obama support level, which seems very high among Idaho Democrats, has been a little less obvious.

But read a post on Red State Rebels and at least part of the reason comes clearer: “Many people support Senator Hillary Clinton for President because they believe she is strong, smart, and capable. I agree. Would she make a good President? I believe she would. Can she win? Maybe. But is the 2008 election strictly about taking back the White House? I humbly decry that it is not. The 2008 election is also about restoring hope to our nation and scoring victories here at home, in Idaho. I have been approached by scores of Democratic Party leaders across our state for nearly 8 months with increasing concerns, who are not scared of a Hillary Presidency, but of a Hillary candidacy and what a successful nomination would mean for our local and state-wide candidates running for office.”

The post goes on to talk about Obama’s positive qualities as well. But certainly not many Idaho Democrats are looking forward to the idea of running down-ballot from Hillary Clinton.

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Nov 17 2007

Ron Paul country

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Ron Paul

Ron Paul

The Ron Paul campaign continues to surprise and do well in the Northwest. We’ve spotted no lack of Paul signage all over the region in recent weeks; could it be his fiscal conservatism combined with his anti-war stance? Both of those things would sell reasonably in the Northwest, to some extent, anyway. Whatever it is, Paul is going very well in this corner of the country.

There’s a striking map on the Paul campaign well site (hat tip to Oregon Catalyst for the pointer) showing the number of fourth-quarter donors per capita, by state. Excepting New Hampshire, where he also does well, Paul’s support seems heavily weighed to the western states (excepting California). Of those western states, Montana and Nevada are in the top tier, and Idaho and Washington are just behind, with Oregon also doing well for Paul in the next rank.

Oregon Catalyst has a fine – and intense – discussion about this.

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Nov 17 2007

A three-way

Published by under Idaho

The entry this week of Boise businessman Walt Minnick into what’s now a three-way Democratic primary for the 1st U.S. House seat raises some issues – most immediately: Who winds up taking the primary?

And there we have no obvious answer – less obvious than some advocates probably think. Leaving aside the matter of the general election (any Democratic nominee will, as matters stand, be looking at a steep uphill against incumbent Republican Bill Sali), the primary is shaping as a seriously contested three-way contest that realistically could go in any direction.

Early presumption, months ago, was that 2006 Democratic nominee Larry Grant would have the nomination for the asking. And Grant is asking: He has announced his 2008 campaign. The arguments for a clear enough. Grant came across fairly well as a candidate last time (go back and read the at-the-time descriptions if you doubt that; a lot of revisionism has been underway this year). His campaign had faults, as all do, but it ran energetically, and Grant displayed substantial campaign skills. For ’08, he can draw on experience and much of his existing organization, and build on his mostly positive name ID.

The counter is that he’s never won a race, either, and the vocal criticisms of last year’s candidacy which have emerged this year from within his own party have sapped some Democratic confidence (and helped lead to the other candidacies). He’s not a new face this time. And his campaign hasn’t been super-visible since his announcement in July. (The most current press release on his web site is dated September 27.) Some Democrats will back him out of loyalty; others may question whether he pulled his weight last time.

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Nov 16 2007

Another one gone

Published by under Idaho

Washington Group International

Washington Group International

The roster of big home-grown Boise businesses slims down again, as stockholders at Washington Group International – formerly and long known to Boiseans as Morrison-Knudsen Corporationon Thursday agreed to sell the company to URS Corporation of San Francisco.

M-K was a pride of Boise for many years, whose origins run back to the construction in 1905 of an irrigation canal in the Boise area. It long has been a major international building contractor and a big player in the city and state and the politics of both.

It ought to register with Idahoans as a major event – and it is – but it may not. At this point, a lot of Boise’s history has begun to recede. We talked this morning with one long-time Boisean who said he nearly ran off the road when he heard on his car radio an announcer talk about “Morrison-Nutson” corporation . . .

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Nov 15 2007

City Hall at Chavez

Published by under Oregon

This sounds supernally clever: How can you possibly say Portland Latinos would be dissed by the failure to rename Interstate Avenue for Cesar Chavez, when the street to be named for him instead would be SW 4th – the street that runs right in front of City Hall?

It might well be an easy street to rename compared to many. There’s no “name” identification to redo with a numbered street, and mail sent to SW 4th would still no doubt make its way to destination. At the same time, a renaming for the street on which City Hall sits can hardly be considered minor.

A neat solution. One would think. One will see.

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