Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in March 2008

Evacuation plan

Those tsunami warning and tsunami route signs around the northern Oregon coast may need some readjustment, if today's news on new state geology estimates are anywhere near correct.

For example, in today's Oregonian story: "Cannon Beach built its new fire station in 1996 high enough to be outside the reach of a tsunami, based on inundation maps drawn up under a 1995 state law. But the new projections show that larger tsunamis driven by a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake would flood the fire station."

Not good news. Possibly better, though, than later still.

Spinning out the rumor

Falling into the category of speculation and rumor, to be sure, but nonetheless a fund read for the political junkies among us.

The core of it, via McCranium in the Tri-Cities, is what may happen when Republican Representative Shirley Hankins run again this year - or doesn't, as the case may be. The Tri-Cities doesn't often see a lot of highly watchable politics, but this post gives a suggestion of where some could, just maybe, develop.

Mannix and Congress

Kevin Mannix

Kevin Mannix

Seemed here, too, that Kevin Mannix is more a state-race kind of guy than a congressional race kind of guy. Yes, the geography of Oregon House District 5 is fairly well suited to him. But there's also the matter his history with campaigns and campaign finance, and federal campaigns work differently than they do on the state level.

So that's by way of suggesting a look at the Blue Oregon piece on Mannix' entry in the Republican primary, in which he faces off against 2006 contender Mike Erickson. In all, the Oregon 5th looks like an exciting ride.

Ada County: With Filing Almost Here

Filing time - which starts on Monday - at Ada County is abruptly looking more interesting.

The most thorough rundown seems to be in the last couple of posts from Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman - on legislative announcements generally and David Langhorst's run for county office - and we'll refer you there for a fuller cheat sheet. Here, just a couple of thoughts.

When Langhorst, now the Democratic senator from District 16 (NW Boise, Garden City, nearby), first ran for the job, he was a decided underdog in a district that had been steadily going Republican for state Senate for quite a while. He's turned that seat into safe, for himself at least, and the district now elects three Democrats - it was majority Republican pre-Langhorst. There have been changes in the district since he first won, but some of it probably had to do with his personal attibutes. 16 will be going through a transition this year, and it'll be worth watching to see if the Democrats are able to hold it or if Republicans succeed in what we assume will be a serious pushback.

He will be running for the Ada County Commission, currently 2-1 Republican. Reichert accurately charts the difficulty via historic record: "However, the odds don't favor a Democrat winning a countywide election. Paul Woods won a commissioner's race in 2006 - but with 43 percent backing in a narrow three-way race. A decade earlier, Frank Walker squeaked out a victory over lightning-rod GOP incumbent Gary Glenn. More than 113,000 residents voted in the race; Walker prevailed by 77 votes." Boise city (where 16 mostly is) is now majority Democratic, but there's scant evidence Ada County as a whole is.

Langhorst has a high ambition here. If he wins, he will be a game-changer, throwing Ada County into an overall much more c0mpetitive category. Not only that: If the county is perceived generally as competitive, that could make some of the so-far colidly Republican seats in the western county more competitive over time. Langhorst's will be a race to watch seriously.

The other item of interest is the seeming shift in the contest for the House seat now held by Republican Mike Moyle, identified as a leader of the anti-tax rural Republicans. There had been a lot of talk that former Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill might take him on. That possibility seemingly remains, but now an alternative scenario is developing - that Chuck Winder, who has run for governor and mayor of Boise, might take on Moyle instead, with Merrill trying for the other House seat. That could be an equally interesting race, with a battle for the soul of the southwest Idaho Republican Party at stake.

And some other interesting tidbits. Fun times, these filing weeks.

The limits of opinion expression?

It was a difference of opinion - literally that, on the subject of abortion - between Washington state Representative John Ahern, R-Spokane, and a group of teenagers who (while on January 21 lobbying on behalf of Planned Parenthood) held a contrary view. Both sides got to express themselves, stoutly.

It led to a complaint filed with the Legislative Ethics Board, filed by parents of some of the students. They said Ahern "verbally abused" the students by "by berating them with the question, 'How many unborn babies did you guys kill last year?'"

One of the parents added, "It was just above and beyond anything a child should have to go through when they visit a state legislator." (Ahern has noted that this incident could be a factor in his campaign for re-election this year.)

The problem is that "visiting" wasn't all they were doing - they were trying to engage Ahern in debate. Whatever you think of Ahern's specific point, it was certainly pertinent to the argument.

Arguments do, after all, from time to time, get testy, notably in the real world of legislating.

The Ethics Board dismissed the complaint, for the (more or less unexplained) reason that it lacked jurisdiction over this case. Why exactly it didn't say. It also missed an opportunity: To engage in a little educating, of the parents of some students who ventured into the rough and tumble and might themselves have possibly learned something.

Getting testy

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter last year made some odd miscalculations when it came to working with the Idaho Legislature. This year mostly seemed offto a better start, but his new transportation letter may cause some issues.

Faced with the need for massive upgrades (and there isn't much debate that the need here is large-scale) in Idaho's road system, and recognizing that most tax increase proposals (something Otter is loathe to embrace anyway) are DOA, the govenror tried something else: A massive increase in the state auto registration fee, to $150. You know: Just the sort of thing that led to the huge Tim Eyman tax revolt-by-initiative in Washington some years ago. Legislators have rebelled, loudly. And now Otter has pulled back his bills.

That isn't the relationship glitch part. This is: The Idaho Statesman is reporting that Otter has sent a letter back to legislators, an angry letter. It indicates that the legislators are simply rejecting his leadership, although what's going on here is a difference over policy - though if he wants a rejection, he could get one. Especially by adding this: “The response of some in the Legislature left the impression that they instead desire political cover behind which they can continue avoiding a difficult but necessary responsibility of government.”

Can this marriage be saved? Time could be running out.

Noting the hired help

Steve Marks

Steve Marks

The second Democrat into the 5th District House race, Steve Marks, has a plenty interesting background, but what jumped out at us was a name from his list of advisors.

Marks, best known around Oregon as a chief of staff for former Governor John Kitzhaber, goes up against state Senator Kurt Schrader, who jumped in last week. (And one of them presumably will be up against either Mike Erickson or Kevin Mannix, who each seem to be after the Republican nomination; at present, they look to be the two most likely major contenders.) Schrader has a strong reputation as a legislator, and he's a proven candidate, winning strongly in what had been considered Republican turf.

Marks may be able to pull in some of that Kitzhaber magic. But we also took note of this paragraph in his announcement statement: "Overseeing the Marks' campaign is Joe Trippi who is heralded as the man who 'reinvented campaigning' by The New Republic. Most recently, Trippi worked with the John Edwards campaign. He earned a national reputation for his work on Howard Dean's presidential campaign for his internet campaign inventions. Trippi knows the 5th Congressional District well, Marks noted, from Trippi's previous work on behalf of Congresswoman Darlene Hooley."

High-powered help with relevant Oregon background. We'll be watching.

Westlund and the Republicans

Ben Westlund

Ben Westlund

When Oregon state Senator Ben Westlund completed his journey from Republican (which he was when last elected to the legislature, in 2004) to Independent and then to Democrat, Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli had a witty riposte: "I can only wish him all the best success and hope that he is able to do for the Democrats what he has done for Republicans."

Wrapped inside that was the recognition that Westlund had turned on his own, and the followup implication that this would not go without response, of the serious campaign kind. Of all the Democrats running for major office in Oregon this year, Westlund should logically be the target of the fiercest Republican opposition.

Yet Westlund, who formally filed for state treasurer last November 9, and publicly announced his candidacy more than a month before that, still hasn't drawn a filed Republican opponent. He still may, of course, and probably will, since the candidate filing deadline is yet a week off. But the absence of Republican response so far is striking.

And so was this: A substantial batch of Republicans who have endorsed him.

When you see a "Republicans for" or a "Democrats for" list of cross-party endorsees, they're usually lower-level and no longer active, and often philosophically close to the other party anyway. This list is a little different. It actually includes incumbent Republican office holders: Senator Gary George (Newberg) and Representatives Patti Smith (Corbett), Bill Garrard (Klamath) and Bob Jenson (Pendleton). (George is especially striking; by about any measure he's among the most conservative of senators.) And there are recent former former Representatives Alan Brown (Newport), Rob Patridge (Medford) and Lane Shetterly (Dallas) and former Senator Len Hannon (Ashland). Three other figures move a little further into the past, but are major names: former Secretary of State Norma Paulus and two former House Speakers, Lynn Lundquist and Mark Simmons.

So far, the Democrats don't have a lot of cause for dissatisfaction.

OPPOSITION? At his blog, the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes is reporting that Allen Alley, a Republican who has been deputy chief of staff to Governor Ted Kulongoski (who has endorsed Westlund), may enter the race for treasurer. No final word on that yet, though.

Alley would have substantial self-funds from his business (he was a founder of Pixelworks) but he has never run for office.

Education out of towners

Correspondent Laurie Boeckel, who intensively follows Idaho education matters, had a suggestion following up our recent post about out of state organizations which have a lobbying presence in Boise: How about those from out of state that have an interest in Idaho education?

There are several, and worth noting. Here's some of what she pointed to, and some of our notes:

bullet Data Recognition Corporation (Maple Grove, Minnesota). It remarks, "We customize state testing programs to meet your requirements and exceed your expectations. DRC currently partners with state departments of education across the country to develop and administer full-service large-scale student educational assessment programs." This is the firm that underlay some of the big headlines connected with state Board of Education budgeting problems and overspending; it had a $22 million contract with the board for managing the Idaho Standards Achievement Test. In January the board voted 5-2 to amend the contract, canceling testing in the second and ninth grades. Talking with legislative budgeters about the testing situation, Board President said that "Somewhere within the (contract) response, those things were overlooked." Lobbyists: Lyn Darrington, McKinsey Miller.

bullet K 12 Corporation (Herndon, Virginia). You hear a good deal in the headlines about the Idaho Virtual Academy, an on-line school which has considerable support among top Idaho elected officials. The company that provides the curriculum, that is essentially the key plyer at the IDVA, is K 12. Lobbyist: Suzanne Budge.

bullet Connections Academy, LLC (Baltimore, Maryland). Another cyber-school, with programs in Idaho. Lobbyist: Jeremy Pisca.

bullet University of Phoenix (Phoenix, Arizona). A note here: The University of Phoenix home base is listed in lobbyist reports as Meridian, Idaho, where it does have operations, but the organization is based in Arizona. (Idaho is one of 39 states with UP locations.) It is owned by the Apollo Group, which has its own fascinating history. Lobbyist: Jeremy Pisca.