Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in March 2008

Nope to the “random and suspicionless”

Washington courts The concept that government officials need a specific, particularized reason to suspect wrongdoing before engaging in invasive searches and seizures seems clear enough, and bluntly enough stated in both th federal and most state constitutions, and yet the courts have to continue reasserting it.

But at least they generally do, as the Washington Supreme Court did today in York v. Wahkiakum School District. The shorthand version of the case: "The Wahkiakum School District (school district) randomly drug tests all student athletes under the authority of Wahkiakum School Board Policy No. 3515 (policy 3515). Aaron and Abraham York and Tristan Schneider played sports for Wahkiakum High School, agreed to the policy, and were tested. Their parents (York and Schneider parents) sued the school district alleging its drug testing policy violated article I, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. The school district claims random drug testing, without any individualized suspicion, is constitutional."

The Supreme Court thought not. It did acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court (which has been wobbly at best on the 4th amendment in recent decades) has ruled such searches don't violate the national constitution. But the state constitutions are relevant locally too. And the Washington court held, "The private affair we are concerned with today is the State's interference in a student athlete's bodily functions. Specifically, does it intrude upon a privacy interest to require a student athlete to go into a bathroom stall and provide a urine sample, even against that student's protest? Federal courts and our court both agree the answer is an unqualified yes, such action intrudes into one's reasonable expectation of privacy."

OR filings: A Senate in stasis?

The probability is that the next version of the Oregon State Senate, following this November's elections, will look a lot like the last one: 18 Democrats, 12 Republicans, a partisan balance narrowed by one.

With candidate filings in hand, arriving at so precise a number isn't especially daring. Our estimate could could change in the months ahead along with conditions, but probably not by much.

Run through the numbers, and you'll soon get the sense there's remarkably little in serious question.

The Oregon Senate has 30 members, half up for election each biennium. Of the 15 holdover seats (not up for election again until 2010), 11 are held by Democrats and four by Republicans. Some of those seats are likely to come open before long (Democrat Brad Avakian's, for example), but they will be filled for the rest of the term by fell0w party members. So those numbers are set. That means Democrats need only five more senators elected this year to secure a majority.

And they probably have them already. Four Democrats this year are unopposed for re-election (Joanne Verger in District 5, Diane Rosenbaum in 21, Margaret Carter in 22, Laurie Monnes Anderson in 23), and in District 23 the only candidates are two Democrats competing in the primary. Republicans could try a write-in effort for one or more of these, but all five look now like slam dunks. When you consider the three unopposed Republicans from eastern Oregon, that gives you totals of 16-7.

And the other seven competitive districts? Well, most of them aren't especially competitive. (more…)

OR filings: One house to consider

First of several posts on the recently-completed Oregon candidate filings.

Kind of amazing what an open seat will do to generate some interest - meaning, at this point, lots of candidates. And on the congressional level in Oregon, there's just one of those, Oregon 5.

For Oregon's five U.S. House districts, 21 people have filed as candidates. Of those, eight have filed for just the 5th, which is open now that incumbent Democrat Darlene Hooley is retiring.

And it's a busy deal on both sides. Both Republicans and Democrats have a couple of contenders who could be considered relatively serious candidates - among Republicans, Kevin Mannix (often on the statewide ballot before and a near-winner once) and Mike Erickson (the party's nominee in 2006), and among Democrats Kurt Schrader (an established state senator) and Steve Marks (formerly an aide to then-Governor John Kitzhaber). But three other Democrats and one other Republican have filed as well.

For now, our guess would be this evolves to a Mannix/Schrader race. But it could go in other directions.

At the other end of the spectrum is Oregon's 4th district, the seat held by Democrat Peter DeFazio: He is unopposed for re-election. That's a real admission of defeat by the state Republican organization, because the 4th isn't even one of the two most lopsided districts in the state.

Those would be the 2nd (strongly Republican, held by Greg Walden) and the 3rd (Democratic, held by Earl Blumenauer); unless one of them blossoms into something unexpected, the little-known challengers they have drawn from the opposing party can be considered little more than tokens. Pretty much the same situation has developed in the 1st district (Democrat David Wu).

At least we have some fun in the 5th.

A view from south of here

Posting here has been a little slow the last week - it'll pick up shortly - largely because it came from some distance, in place and in mind. Simply, Ridenbaugh Press spent the last week-plus in Costa Rica.

We'll not get here in any long report about it - the subject of this site is the Pacific Northwest, where the ocean water in this season is too cold for swimming or wading (it was in the 80s down there). Here, we'll note a couple of things. One is that a report on what we saw down there has been posted (and more pictures will be coming soon).

And note that those recent posts on Northwest politics and related matters over the last week or so (from departure on March 4 until return to Portland this morning) were researched and written in a small hillside city in Central America. The world really is getting smaller.

But why need you read more?

There was this tag for a Betsy Russell compendium about the doings of the Idaho House, all of which happens to be good reading. But really, what more do you need than this tag on her blog?

Here’s a link to my full story on today’s Rev & Tax hearing and passage of the new grocery tax relief bill, in which Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, says, “If we go ahead with this bill, it would be like throwing a pound of hamburger to a junkyard dog to get him off your tail.” And you can click below to read a pair of stories from the AP’s John Miller today, one on how the House Health & Welfare Committee cut short a debate on an abortion bill so GOP members could catch a private plane to a partisan rally, and another on how 10 Republican lawmakers flew across the state for that party event on private planes owned by Frank VanderSloot and one of his closest associates, at a time when the Legislature is considering a bill VanderSloot is pushing regarding employee non-compete agreements. Hours after they returned on the planes, three of the lawmakers voted in favor of the bill.

Portland mayor: An emerging race?

Our sense of the Portland mayoral race, up to this point, has been that probably it wasn't going to be much of a race . . . only to be gradually shaken from that complacency. Maybe a little like four years ago.

Back then, when the seat was also open due to the retire of an incumbent (then Vera Katz, now Tom Potter)there was a guy named Jim Francesconi, who was a member of the city council, well-known and mostly well regarded in town. He amassed loads of prominent endorsees and a huge campaign budget, and he was better known than any of the 20-plus other contenders. Looked like a slam dunk. Except that it didn't turn out that way. The mega-campaign actuallybackfired, and a likable challenger, the former police chief Potter, came within shooting distance in the primary and beat Francesconi decisively in the general.

This cycle, no sooner had Potter opted out - literally no sooner than - City Councilman Sam Adams roared in as something approaching mayor-in-waiting. His odds have looked awfully good. He is a finely-skilled candidate, a good organizer and doubtless has plenty of bucks in the bank. So we've been wondering about how much attention sh0uld be paid (regular, even heavy-duty, coverage in the Willamette Week and Mercury notwithstanding) to the seeming insurgent candidacy of businessman Sho Donozo. (Some of that has been negative in tone, concerning questions - now apparently resolved - about Donozo's campaign finances.)

Unless, of course, you bear in mind Portland political history. And the endorsement out today from Mayor Potter.

Not that the endorsement itself is a major electoral lever; hardly any endorsements for any office really are. But it does seem an indicator that Donozo is punching some significant buttons and it could be an indicator that anyone in the city displeased with something in the record of Council member Adams might now have a designated opponent to support. Or at least the potential is there for a replay of four years ago.

Of the race between Potter and, uh . . .

ID: And the filing begins

If you're into tracking the candidate filings in Idaho - if you're reading this, there's a fair chance you are - you can see regularly updated filings from the Idaho Secretary of State's office posted online.

The two most interesting times during filing, which started today and ends on the 21st, usually are around the beginning and end. A sizable chunk of the known quantities - those who of course were going to run for something - often show up in the first few days, partly so as to send the word to other prospects that no, this seat isn't open. (A large bunch of legislative incumbents already have filed - they make up most of the early filers.) The other interesting stretch comes near the end, when the seats get filled and last-minute decisions are revealed. The final afternoon can be the most interesting piece of all.

The most interesting note in early filings was the appearance of a Supreme Court contest, in which Lewiston attorney John Bradbury is filing against newly-appointed Justice Joel Horton. This may have a different dynamic than most recent Supreme Court contests.

Back with more, as it develops.

Under the radar in Seattle

We're always interested in those lesser-known names creating and pushing things that become important and sometimes even visible. The Seattle Times has a good piece today on one such - Gordon Bowker.

No, we'd not heard of him. But he's been around some interesting places in Seattle. The Times: "After co-founding Starbucks, he co-launched Redhook Ale Brewery and pushed David Brewster to start Seattle Weekly — investing in and freelancing for the tab. He served on the board of Childhaven, a nonprofit that cares for neglected and abused children, and renamed it."

He's been a quiet guy, and from the sounds of it the Times had to work for a while to persuade him to a sitdown. The resulting story may persuade you it was a good idea.

Spokane party matchups

Following up on an earlier map at the Spokesman-Review's web site - matching Obama and Clinton votes - there's a new one, matching up ballots cast for Republicans and Democrats.

It shows what you might suspect it shows. But it's well worth a look anyway.