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Posts published in “Day: February 24, 2008”

Obama/Clinton in Spokane

Just a pointer here to a fascinating precinct map of Spokane County on the Spokesman-Review web site. In last week's Washington primary election (which was for Democrats, remember, a beauty contest only and not contested by the candidates), Spokane County split closely between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama apparently gained a thin lead in the most recent counting, but thin enough it could easily switch back.

The map shows where Obama and Clinton led. In Spokane itself, Obama did best on the south side (south of I-90, generally) and Clinton best to the north. Obama did well in most but not all of the rural areas. Clinton did well in many of the developing suburban communities such as Airway Heights, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Have a look.

Vanishing records

Not so very many years ago, a dozen maybe, Idaho had a state library, a solidly-staffed agency which managed a lot of books, documents and other resources. It served a while range of missions, from serving as a check-out and research library for the general public to providing information and reports for state agencies to serving as a repository for a official records from state agencies. And, on top of that, it served as a coordinating and assistance service for public libraries around the state.

Then, over a period of years, the Idaho State Library was gradually dismantled, and virtually destroyed. Comparatively little of it - mainly the library-assistance function and a few other things - is left. And so too has gone much of the reference and state recordkeeping function: Just gone. Poof.

We've made a few notes of this over the years. Today, a Betsy Russell article in the Spokesman-Review takes a more thorough look at some of the impacts. The eventual up side may be that agencies moving toward digital documentation may be able to easily develop storage in large databases; and that could resolve some of the ongoing problem. But the issue is too complicated for that as a simple resolution.

The Weiland donation

Not too often do you see a single donation that realistically could become a significant political game changer. But the Seattle Times has a story today about one such that could have real impact over time.

The background to that is the heated political battles over gay rights issues, from anti-discrimination to same-sex marriage to other matters - a hot political topic.

The news is a donation from Ric Weiland, who was one of the first five employees at Microsoft and consequently, wound up with a lot of money. After his suicide in 2006, most of his estate, $160 million, went to charities. (Most of the time since has been spent in sifting through the many legal details.) More than $19 million is going to a group based in Seattle called the Pride Foundation.

The Pride Foundation works in the Pacific Northwest, based around Washington, Oregon and Idaho (and somewhat beyond); its website says it "connects, inspires and strengthens the Pacific Northwest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in pursuit of equality. We accomplish this in rural and urban areas by awarding grants and scholarships and cultivating leaders." It has done this actively, apparently, but on midest scale; it operates in part off a $3 million endowment. Up to now, that has made it not so different from a range of many other social interest organizations.

Weiland's donation increases that endowment to $22 million - an order of magnitude at least. As for how the money will be used, the Times summarizes, "The money will support anti-discrimination campaigns and programs to help youths, develop future leaders and provide scholarships."

This not a small deal. And it will have an effect on politics, gradually but clearly over time, all over the region.