Archive for December, 2007

Dec 31 2007

Dairies, laundries

Published by under Idaho

Those mega-dairies have impacts way beyond what you might expect. This is from a letter in the Twin Falls Times News:

I live in Filer. We have only one public Laundromat. In the last two years, I have noticed two white-beige older vans sitting outside this Laundromat filled to the ceiling with duffel bags filled with towels and rags used on local dairies.

My concern, you ask? Simple. Why should our only public Laundromat in Filer be used for the dairies? When my own private washer and dryer went out of service to me, I tried to use the washers and dryers. They were in use from dawn to dusk. Then, from a sanitary point of view, they are not being sanitized or disinfected after each use.

My suggestion, you ask? Simple. With the cost of the washers and dryers at our coin Laundromat, why don’t the dairies purchase this Laundromat and have another Laundromat built for the human residents of Filer and/or build their own on their property and give us back our Laundromat but only after a total sanitizing and disinfecting of the Laundromat we now have.

So let’s hear again how the owners of dairy property have no impact on other people . . .

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Dec 31 2007

Inside and outside campaigns

Published by under Washington

We’re likely going to see more of this on a national scale. But we’ll note here David Postman’s recent post that it’s turning up in the Northwest at present.

There are presidential campaigns, and then there are campaigns in support of (or opposition to) presidential campaigns. This fact is significant in the case of all, maybe most significant in the case of Democratic candidate John Edwards, who is taking federal matching money and thereby limiting his campaign funds. But what about other organizations that run their own ads and messages?

This is a sticky and uncertain area, legally and ethically – there’s supposed to be no coordination between the ins and outs, but what that means can be unclear. Postman is noting that one of Washington’s biggest and most influential unions, S.E.I.U. local 775, has been organizing support for Edwards. (The national organization has not endorsed in the Democratic contest.) One local leader told Postman, “At that point no one is really making any strategic decisions. It was just listing a number of things that are obvious that the union could do for Edwards. That includes things you could coordinate and things you couldn’t coordinate.”

As noted, there will be more of this.

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Dec 30 2007

Fancher goes blogging

Published by under Washington

There’s something symbolic, maybe, about the whole idea: Mike Fancher, the been-there-forever editor at the Seattle Times, writer for 16 years of the “Inside the Times” column . . . ending the column and turning blogger.

Sign of the Times.

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Dec 30 2007

Baseline 08: The Majors

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

So we’ve run through our three lists of races to watch in the legislatures of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, 10 races each; today, a quick overview of the top races in the region. Nothing especially obscure here, but a tad of perspective might be helpful in seeing how the year shapes up.

The numbering logic in similar to the legislative rundown: These are the contests which, from this viewpoint, seem to have the most significance or analytical interest as we look to where Northwest politics goes from here. It isn’t a list of which seats are most likely change parties (though we think there’s a good shot some may) or which incumbents are most endangered. Rather: Which contests stand to say the most about local and Northwest politics? Some of these races tell us something apart from what the partisan balance will be: They tell us something about how people see their community and their state.

One other highly cautionary note: Candidate filing deadlines are quite a ways off, in March for Oregon and Idaho and not until the first half of June for Washington, meaning that surprises in personnel doubtless will continue to unfold. What looks of interest may well change; but this is how it looks at the moment.

(The list is below the fold.) Continue Reading »

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Dec 29 2007

“a few dollars more”

Published by under Oregon

Campaign finance reports for 2007 won’t be out for a while yet (the end of the year is, of course, generally a significant deadline not for filing but for end-of-period). An interesting note via e-mail from Steve Novick, one of the Oregon Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate: He says he’s at about the half-million-dollar mark. Will be interesting to see where his main primary competitor, House Speaker Jeff Merkley, lands on the end of year report.

From Novick’s mail: “We’ve now passed the $500,000 threshold for the history of the campaign, but to meet our target for midnight December 31 we’re counting on you to send us a few dollars more. In perspective, that’s more than Bill Bradbury had at this point in 2001 (almost more than he had in April right before the primary). More than Jon Tester had at this point in 2005, more than Ted Kulongoski had at this point in 2001 and way, way more than Paul Wellstone had at the end of 1989. We’re really in a great position to make our case to the voters next year.”

PROMO Novick picked up a favorable review/interview in an online Harper’s Magazine piece, “Watch Out for Left Hook: Six Questions for Oregon Senatorial Candidate Steve Novick.” It mentions, naturally, that he’s running to oust Republican Gordon Smith, but curiously fails to notice at all that Smith isn’t his current opposition: That would be fellow primary contenders Merkley and Eugene real estate broker Candy Neville.

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Dec 29 2007

Baseline 08: Washington Legislature

Published by under Washington

Oregon statehouse

Washington statehouse

The generic look for Washington legislative politics seems to be, will the Democrats solidify gains which in the last couple of cycles have put them in decisive and almost overwhelming control? An early look suggests that if on one hand they’ve pretty much picked off not only the low-hanging but even most of the reasonably accessible fruit, they’re still not necessarily done. And for all the Democratic targets out there, not a lot of them look especially vulnerable.

So. What we have here is the third of three lists covering the legislatures of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, with one covering major offices for the three states coming tomorrow; 10 races each. The numbering logic in similar for all: These are the contests which, from this viewpoint, seem to have the most significance or analytical interest as we look to where Northwest politics goes from here. It isn’t a list of which seats will change parties (though we think there’s a good shot some of them will) or which incumbents are most endangered (among other things, some of these are open seats). Rather: Which contests stand to say the most about local and Northwest politics?

There’s little chance, to be sure, that Republicans will be able to retake the Senate in 08, and odds are less than even (though closer than remote) for a recapture of the House. But the House margins are still close, and every one of those 60 contests will have some significance. And, as is often so, some of these races tell us something apart from what the partisan balance will be: They tell us something about how people see their community and their state.

One other highly cautionary note: Candidate filing doesn’t happen until early June, meaning that surprises in personnel doubtless will continue to unfold. However, we do have early filings with the Public Disclosure Commission to work with, and though those are mainly pro forma filings by incumbents, they are in some cases early indicators.

(The list is below the fold.) Continue Reading »

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Dec 28 2007

Down again

Published by under Washington

The Seattle Times is reporting, but is not commenting on – did you get that? – a memo from Publisher Frank Blethen that next year will see the paper’s “most difficult and painful downsizing” ever.

That is in line with what other papers around the region have been doing. But it has to give the newsroom a bad case of the jitters.

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Dec 28 2007

Baseline 08: Oregon Legislature

Published by under Oregon

Oregon statehouse

Oregon statehouse

Or Oregon Legislative Assembly, if you prefer, in the second of four lists for the end of the year, of what now look like some of the most noteworthy and watchable political contests to come: Three lists covering the legislatures of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, then one covering major offices for the three states, with 10 races each. The numbering logic in similar for all: These are the contests which, from this viewpoint, seem to have the most significance or analytical interest as we look to where Northwest politics goes from here. It isn’t a list of which seats will change parties (though we think there’s a good shot some of them will) or which incumbents are most endangered (among other things, some of these are open seats). Rather: Which contests stand to say the most about local and Northwest politics?

There’s little chance, to be sure, that Republicans will be able to retake the Senate in 08, and odds are less than even (though closer than remote) for a recapture of the House. But the House margins are still close, and every one of those 60 contests will have some significance. And, as is often so, some of these races tell us something apart from what the partisan balance will be: They tell us something about how people see their community and their state.

One other highly cautionary note: Candidate filing is open until March 11. Surprises in personnel doubtless will continue to unfold. (Consider, for example, the recent presumed legislature departure of Brian Boquist from the House, except that he then opted into a race for the Senate, for a seat he likely will win.)

(The list is below the fold.) Continue Reading »

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Dec 27 2007

A center-city remake

Published by under Oregon

ULI report

ULI report

Salem gets discounted too much: It’s a good small city, with a stronger-than-usually-given-credit-for downtown and a bunch of other assets apart from its state capitol role. It has a number of parks too, but one aspect of the city that jumps out as unrealized potential is its Willamette River waterfront, the bisector (toward the west side) of the city.

There’s parkland there, sure, but not a great deal of it. (Boiseans would look at the river frontage and act superior.) What’s there is good, but there are key blockages. And one of the most important of those, just southwest of downtown and across the street from city hall and the main library, is an old industrial plant, the Boise Cascade (now Boise) wood factory. Very old – BC and the companies that preceded it have owned the property and used it for wood production since 1862. The buildings that occupy 13 acres of its property most recently have been used for packaging and distribution; about 100 people work there. It’s not wasteland, but it is something of an eyesore, and it diminishes the surrounding downtown core area.

Turns out, we learn in an announcement today, a win-win is possible here: A change in location for the Boise company (with the company evidently working very cooperatively on it) and a new redevelopment of the area to bring out some of its underlying potential. An important chunk of Salem may be transformed as a result.

Continue Reading »

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Dec 27 2007

Baseline 08: Idaho Legislature

Published by under Idaho

Idaho legislative building

Idaho legislative building

It being that season again – yes, it’s the time of Lists – we have a few to close out the year. (Then we’ll have more lists next year. Gee.) Our point (excuse, if you insist) is that this is a reasonable point to pause and take stock of where we are or seem to be in Northwest politics – what it looks like as 07 slides into 08.

This is the first of four lists for the days upcoming, of what now look like some of the most noteworthy and watchable political contests to come: Three lists covering the legislatures of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, then one covering major offices for the three states, with 10 races each. The numbering logic in similar for all: These are the contests which, from this viewpoint, seem to have the most significance or analytical interest as we look to where Northwest politics goes from here. It isn’t a list of which seats will change parties (though we think there’s a good shot some of them will) or which incumbents are most endangered (among other things, some of these are open seats). Rather, it’s: Which contests stand to say the most about local and Northwest politics?

You may wonder if there are as many as 10 potentially significant Idaho legislative races for ’08; after all, aren’t Republicans essentially a lock to maintain a solid grip on the Legislature regardless? Well, yeah, probably. But there are places of potential or actual change, and places where politics is getting redefined. These races could matter even if the overall partisan balance in the Statehouse doesn’t greatly change.

One other highly cautionary note: There’s no candidate filing until March 10 (deadline March 21), so we don’t yet know for sure who’s running for any legislative seat. Could be that some of the reasons for interest in some of these races goes away by then. Just sayin’.

(The list is below the fold.) Continue Reading »

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Dec 26 2007

Clearwire emerging?

Published by under Washington

There’s dialup, DSL, cable, microwave, wifi, satellite – what Internet connection mechanisms does that miss? At least one: Clearwire, which sounds to be among the most interesting and maybe broadly useful.

Clearwire is a company based at Kirkland. An Associated Press review describes: “Instead of driving back to the office or hunting for a Wi-Fi hotspot, I booted up my laptop, plugged in a PC card, connected to the Internet and updated my story — all from a bench near the water, with a dreamy view of snowcapped mountains. Such a feat is no surprise to anyone with a wireless card from a cellular carrier, but I wasn’t connected to the networks of Verizon Wireless, Sprint or AT&T. Instead, I used an early version of the relatively new technology WiMax, which is being offered in Seattle by Clearwire Corp.”

Will Clearwire become an another major regional tech player? We may find out in 2008.

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Dec 26 2007

Ganged up

Published by under Washington

There’s gang activity spread out far from the metro areas – there are reliable reports of it in smaller communities far flung across the Northwest. Getting a handle on how large the problem is, though, is a little more difficult.

A swipe at this from Moses Lake turns up; there’s evidence of increasing gang activity in the Columbia Basin region, enough to prompt calls for hiring a couple of new prosecutors specifically to deal with it.

How major is it? There’s also this in a news story today: “Moses Lake School Superintendent Steven Chestnut disagreed, saying gang activity was not that big an issue. Wearing gang-associated colors and displaying gang symbols in schools is prohibited, and only 3 percent of the 171 suspensions and expulsions in the first quarter of the school year were gang-related, Chestnut said.”

Doesn’t mean there isn’t any, though.

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Dec 25 2007

Merry Christmas – snow and all

Published by under Oregon

Christmas snow

Christmas snow

Not a great shock to see Christmas snow in the more elevated parts of the Northwest, but in the more populated lowlands, as around our base, snow on Christmas is unexpected.

It was unexpected today – saw no weather reports in our region predicting anything other than same-ole rain (same as almost every day for the last three weeks or so) but here it is. It isn’t much – just a skiff, and it likely won’t stick. But we can say Merry Christmas on a day that not only feels like the holiday, but looks the part too.

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Dec 24 2007

“go out and cause it”

Published by under Idaho

Aquick note here on why a graduation slogan for Basic Patrol Academy Class #156 is chilling. It’s not organizational; rather, it raises questions about the officers being sent out to patrol. (Good catch here, by the way, to Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review.)

The slogan was “Don’t suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it,” PTSD being Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. It appeared on a list of patrol academy graduates for this year.

The problem – and the issue here should be obvious enough – doesn’t seem to lie with the academy, which didn’t develop or choose the slogan. The slogan was chosen, by vote, by the class itself: This was the graduating class’ slogan for itself.

Does that say something disconcerting about the outgoing class? Whatever happened to, “Remember – let’s be careful out there”?

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Dec 24 2007

Meshing the pieces

Published by under Idaho

Nicole LeFavour

Nicole LeFavour

Let’s take two pieces of political information and see if there’s a way to mesh them. Warning: This will not be easy.

One is poll results released late last week by Idaho state Representative Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, partly on the subject of attitudes toward gay people and gay-related issues. (We should note here that LeFavour is Idaho’s one openly gay state legislator.) Her conclusion (this was in e-mail and not posted so far on her web site): “I think people have long assumed that a vast majority of Idahoans are anti-gay. Clearly that’s not the case. Most people know someone who is gay, as part of their family, as a friend, or from work or school. That was not true of a majority of Idahoans a decade ago. I think this has helped change attitudes and create greater understanding and respect for gay people all over the state.”

A reasonable interpretation of the numbers. Asked if “Homosexuality should be discouraged by society” the strongly agrees were 29% and somewhat agrees were 15% – 44%, less than half. Of the sample group, 20% (probably less than the percentage in the state overall) were listed as Mormon; of the self-identified Republicans 47% were in the strongly or somewhat categories. (Polling was done by Myers Research; 600 respondents statewide; no margin of error noted.)

So what do we make of the recent request by six Republican legislators for an attorney general’s opinion about a city’s health benefit policy?

That policy is the city of Moscow’s, noted here last week. The policy doesn’t refer directly to gay people but it does extend health insurance coverage (in a form fairly standard for its private insurer, Regence Blue Shield of Idaho) to “domestic partners,” which presumably would include gay couples.

That was enough to set off alarm bells for the six – Senators Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, Michael Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and Representatives Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, Curtis Bowers, R-Caldwell, and Phil Hart, R-Athol. They pointed out that voters in 2006 passed a constitutional amendment that not only banned gay marriage (the subject of most of the attention) but also “to provide that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state”.

Resolution of the legal issue here (which comes to whether insurance coverage can only be extended to state-recognized domestic unions – are private corporations subject to this?) isn’t immediately obvious. What clear enough is the impetus behind the legislators’ action: A determination to swiftly quash anything remotely resembling a public acceptance of homosexuality. There was no pause, no hesitation, between the arrival of the issue in the news, and the legislators’ response.

So where do the people of the state come down on this? Did they lie to the pollster, and so quietly approve of six of their legislators doing this? Or not?

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