Archive for July, 2008

Jul 31 2008

Second readings

Published by under Oregon

Asingle instance of some kind of reading can always be a fluke, an outlier. Get a similar reading the second time, and it starts to look a little more solid. Certainly makes you interested in whatever comes around in reading number three.

In the U.S. Senate race in Oregon, between Republican incumbent Gordon Smith and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley, we’ve seen a couple of singular indicators that were interesting, but possibly outliers. Now, today, we have a couple of seconding confirmers.

One is in polling. Most polling this year has given Smith the lead, but on July 16 came a Rasmussen poll putting Merkley up, narrowly, 43%-41%. Interesting, but you have accept a number of caveats: It was the only poll to show such a result, the numbers were well within the margin of error, and so on.

Today, however, comes a Zogby poll putting Merkley ahead 38%-29%. There are some automatic question marks associated with it, notably the presence of Independent John Frohnmayer, recipient of 8%, who dropped out of the race several weeks ago. Against that, however, is news out today that the organization whose banner Frohnmayer represented, the Independent Party, has given Merkley its nomination. So, albeit in some limited ways, the Rasmussen poll finds some support here.

The other is in advertising. A few weeks back Smith ran out a much-touted ad pointing out how he has worked jointly, in the Senate, with Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate. There being no advertising touting his close relationship with Obama’s Republican counterpart John McCain, this was widely taken as an effort to distance himself from the national Republican Party, or maybe from Republicans and Republican positions generally. (A bunch of recent votes show Smith breaking from his caucus majority.) But maybe that was just an outlier.

Except that today comes an ad in which Smith talks about his work on helping homeowners deal with the threat of foreclosure – and about his work on that subject with 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. First Obama, now Kerry . . . can Gore be far behind?

Expect to see more interesting advertising in the next few weeks, as Smith’s campaign tries to correct what looks like a rough course.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jul 30 2008

Sali, oil, trees

Published by under Idaho

We’re unfamiliar with the basic source (an Idaho blogger named Byron Yankey) but it was related as a first-person account. If it needs to be rebutted, contact here and we’ll take note. But this from what Yankey described as a converation with Idaho Representative Bill Sali, if accurate, merits note:

Congressman Sali informed us that a solution to the high price of gasoline was to make petroleum from “all those trees in our forests.” Stunned by the comment, I suffered a momentary regret for not taking that high school chemistry class those many years ago. He continued by saying there ‘”could be up to 40 barrels of oil ” in a single tree.

UPDATE (reedited): From Sali spokesman Wayne Hoffman, came after the Spokane Spokesman-Review Huckleberries blog also posted the Yankey quote; Hoffman responded a little differently to it but also passed that along here: “I wasn’t in the meeting. But I have heard Bill talk about using wood sources for cellulosic ethanol. He has discussed and promoted using Idaho forest products as part of that effort.”

FOLLOWUP: The blog Unequivocal Notion points out that Sali made reference to oil/trees in the 2006 campaign. From an October 8, 2006 report in the Spokesman-Review by Betsy Russell (whose track record for accuracy is solid): “Sali said, ‘The answer clearly is that we’ve got to get the value off of the land if we’re going to have a sustainable system, and what that means, most people would say that means we’ve got to engage in logging. I don’t think it necessarily stops there.’ Sali favors tapping into forest timber for biofuel. ‘Forty percent of the mass of every tree in the forest is crude oil,’ he said. Going after that, he said, ‘could put Idaho in the oil business for the first time’.”

Share on Facebook

3 responses so far

Jul 30 2008

OR: Look also at who received

Published by under Oregon

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

The implosion of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, now facing seven felony indictments (and increasingly long odds against being sworn into the next Congress) has thrown shrapnel in al manner of directions, including those congressional candidates (mainly incumbents) Stevens supported financially. At least five Republican senators – John Sununu of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Oregon’s Gordon Smith – all facing serious election challenges this year, have quickly divested themselves of Stevens-derived money.

More interesting, though, are the contributions from senators to Stevens. Here, the site PolitickerOr.com has found something interesting: A $10,000 contribution (in two equal parts) to Stevens from the political action committee, Impact America, associated with Smith. More of interest: The donation came just three weeks after Stevens publicly acknowledged (in the Washington Post no less) that the FBI was investigating him, for just the sort of activities for which he was later indicted.

Sort of throws into question how appalled Smith is at the Stevens indictments, when his PAC delivered a big donation to him just after his legal issue went irrefutably public.

The whole Stevens issue aside, a scan through the Impact America paperwork and filings is worth a look too, throwing as it does some light on some otherwise obscure corners.

There is, for example, a long list of Impact America donation recipients; Stevens is just one among many. Most of the recent Republican members of the Senate have been recipients, and so has President George W. Bush, July 2003 for the 2004 campaign, in case anyone was looking for a formal, official expression of personal support. There’s also a $5,000 contribution to Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. And $10,000 (in March 2007) to John McCain’s presidential campaign. There’s $105,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $20,000 to the Oregon Republican Party. Impact contributed to Republicans across all ohilosophical lines, from former member Lincoln Chaffee to former member Rick Santorum.

Its 188 contributors make a fascinating list too. It is a very national list, dominated by D.C.-area names (with a number from New York and Los Angeles), and relatively few from Oregon (there are 30, but a lot of them are family relations, so the real number is less than you might think; there are five Pamplin family listings, for example, each contributing $5,000).

A look at the Impact America filings gives some idea of just how wired into national politics Gordon Smith is. And there’s at least one more way to look at it.

Smith’s name doesn’t appear on the main filing documents; its treasurer, and the most visible name, is Lisa Lisker. She is a partner in Huckaby Davis Lisker, a Virginia firm which specializes in accounting for political organizations, basically Republican. It has done extensive work for the national Republican Party, even contracting for large work with the party’s national conventions. Fellow partner Keith Davis has been treasurer for McCain’s presidential campaign, and for former Republican Senate candidate Katherine Harris, among many others. Lisker has been custodian of records for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s House campaign committee, and worked with a number of other PACs as well, including Purdue Pharma Inc PAC.

The ties and connections run almost astoundingly deep. Punch another link, and a whole new world opens up.

Share on Facebook

2 responses so far

Jul 30 2008

Money widgets

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Check out this neat little device, made available by way of Maplight.org – updated stats on campaign fundraising by candidates for Congress. (Sorry, Washington’s governor’s race would be good to add in, but isn’t included.)

Here’s a quick rundown, with the area’s two Senate contests and three major House races included. We may try for a permanent posting if we can figure out how to fit them into our space limitations . . .

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 29 2008

Your local SoDo

Published by under Washington

There is a SoDo (as in South of Downtown) district in Seattle – south of where the Kingdome used to be. (Part of the theory was that the acronym referred to South of the Dome, but that never really seemed right, even when the dome was there.) But by the time the name was used there, it was also used in lots of other places, including some not especially noted for their downtown areas (Orlando, Florida, say). And places much noted for them, such as the most famous of all in New York City.

A few years ago, a substantial commercial development was launched in Boise, also called SoDo (and also, properly, just south of downtown). [UPDATE: A commenter correctly notes that the Boise area is usually known as BoDo, but the other nickname has cropped up occasionally as well.)

Point being, there are SoDos all over the place. So why is the near-downtown area in Spokane, working to build a unique identity, fastening on SoDo to identify itself?

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jul 28 2008

Bagism

Published by under Oregon,Washington

You have to wonder if the bags will become a kind of tipping point, one way or the other: Either they tip people in the direction of reuse and recycling, or they tip a revolt.

Its just that this new plan, adopted today in Seattle, of requiring a fee (small, at 20 cents a bag, but still) for each bag obtained at a store, really is a daily-invasive kind of thing. It’s inescapably in your face, in a way most recycling-type activities aren’t. Attitudes could harden on this one.

It feels like a big thing, too, in whatever direction. Seattle is just part of the wave. San Francisco adopted it a while back, and if statements in the last few days from Portland Mayor-elect Sam Adams are any indicator, the Rose City will be on board before long. Nor is that all. Really notable was a sidebar story in the Oregonian indicating that a bunch of mayors and council members in the suburbs ringing Portland also are interested in launching these fees.

We don’t yet know how shoppers are going to react. But we should know before long.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 27 2008

Rossi: The missing years

Published by under Washington

Here is the Dino Rossi profile story that probably a good many people have been waiting for, for some time: What has he done over the last three and a half years, since he narrowly lost the 2004 governor’s race?

Today’s Seattle Times piece has no explosive revelations. His activities with the Forward Washington Foundation (which, in an interesting update, seems now to be nearly defunct – more evidence that it really was just a shell for the campaign?) were mostly reported months ago. And his professional, real estate, activities are generally of a piece with his pre-2004 business activities, though in one or two cases on a significantly larger scale.

Mostly, the review is useful as a piece, giving some sense of what occupied Rossi’s attention in lieu of the governorship. Recommended.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 26 2008

Pam Roach in China

Published by under Washington

Pam Roach

Pam Roach

If you’re a Washingtonian, your top means of following the Olympics in Beijing is here: State Senator Pam Roach is about to start blogging from China.

No doubt she (and family; fellow legislator and son Dan Roach will also be there) will be simply taking in events, but she’s also there on an official mission:

“Representing Gov. Gregoire, on August 7th I will present the leaders of Sichuan Province, our sister state, with the promise of a new, privately-funded school building. Chengdu was largely spared, but the very poor rural area was hard hit. Hundreds of schools will be rebuilt.”

If you’ve followed the senator’s many adventures in and around Olympia, you’ll know: Must-read for the days ahead.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jul 26 2008

Independence and external influence

Published by under Idaho

In most places around this country, the political facts as they now line up in Idaho’s 1st district would mean highly probable catastrophe for Republican incumbent Bill Sali. Here we have a Republican incumbent massively behind in the campaign finance race, rarely a positive sign. (By one analysis, only three House races in the country put an incumbent at a greater financial disadvantage.) The Democratic nominee, Walt Minnick, has been running an energetic and (from all we’ve seen) a capable and visible campaign, on top of that ace fundraising. Sali recently has delivered himself of sundry quotes and votes (timber funds and Madicare among others) that offer great material for the opposition. And this is, again, about as strong a year for Democrats as this nation has seen in a generation.

As matters sit, though, we still think Sali has the odds. The reasons have to do not with the candidates or the campaigns, but with the voters.

You can get some of this from a post by Dennis Mansfield, himself (in 2000) a former candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1st district. Writing in part about the announcement of a planned $350,000 ad buy in support of Minnick by national Democrats, Mansfield had some thoughts: Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jul 25 2008

Where the line is crossed

Published by under Washington

The Building Industry Association of Washington has no obvious counterpart as a political action organization in Oregon or Idaho. There are, of course, plenty of politically active organizations in those states on left and right, and plenty of others in Washington too, but the organization’s size, willingness to throw in serious money and act directly – not through regulated political action committees – make it unique. No other single organization in the region plays such a large, direct role in major races as the BIAW does. Two years ago, the state Supreme Court races stood out; this year, the governor’s race.

Its politics are rough and tumble (you can get some feel for that from the web site), and increasingly the opposition is biting back. A group including two former state Supreme Court justices (Faith Ireland and Robert Utter) are demanding regulatory crackdown, or in lieu of that a lawsuit.

From a summary: “Washington’s public disclosure law stipulates that any organization soliciting money for the purpose of achieving of influencing electoral goals must register as a political committee with the Public Disclosure Commission, and records such as contributions and expenditures must be made available to the public. The Building Industry Association of Washington and the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County (MBA) are not registered as political committees, nor have they disclosed the sources of their campaign money. The plaintiffs have obtained evidence (including meeting minutes and internal emails) that the BIAW and its affiliates misappropriated trust funds to build a campaign war chest totaling at least $3.5 million, intended to sway this year’s gubernatorial race.”

They could of course set up a separate political committee, as lots of other organizations do, to create a kind of wall between the core purpose of the BIAW (advocating for and assisting the building industry in the state) and its political activities; right now, there seems to be no such wall, no such division.

The BIAW’s Tom McCabe described the new action as “just one more attack … to try to shut us up.” He might not think so, but from here it looks like an attack that might do just that.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 24 2008

A latter-day McCall?

Published by under Oregon

Joel Haugen

Joel Haugen

The campaign web site for Joel Haugen, the Republican nominee running for the 1st U.S. House district in Oregon, has a FAQ which leads with this question: “I’m confused. You’ve endorsed Obama, you’re anti-Iraq War, you’re an environmentalist… and you’re a Republican?”

With a question like that, do you necessarily need the answer? It tells you quite a bit right up front, such as that Haugen is probably not super-close to most of the area’s Republican organization.

Sal Peralta, the 2006 Democratic candidate for the state House in Yamhill County, and now an Independent Party member, recently interviewed him and described him as “a poster-child for progressive Republicanism.” Haugen himself likes to harken back to former Governor Tom McCall.

Haugen did win the Republican nomination (to oppose incumbent Democrat David Wu), and did it by defeating a social conservative much more in tune with the party activists, Claude William-Chappell. But area party leaders say, simply, that Haugen isn’t really a Republican, and they’d much prefer he just . . . go away. The party isn’t giving him any help.

Today, the McMinnville News Register reports that Haugen is talking to Independent Party leaders about possibly switching over to their group.

Which could mean that the Independent Party has a candidate in the 1st District race, but the Republicans do not. At least, the Republican Party as it is today.

Share on Facebook

2 responses so far

Jul 24 2008

Death/Assisted qualifies

Published by under Washington

When 11 years ago Oregon voters approved what called “death with dignity” – aka “assisted suicide” – an unanswerable concern was in the air: Do we really know what the effects might be? In fact, no one could be entirely sure. That ma y be true of most new laws, of course, but the consequences in this case were a little higher than most.

All these years later, we do pretty much know what the effects are, and they have been of smaller scale that most people who voted up or down probably anticipated. The law “allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose,” and the state has collected detailed information on what has happened as a result. In those 11 years, 341 people have died using physician-assisted medications, about 30 a year. (The number of prescriptions is somewhat higher, showing that not everyone who asked for the assistance made use of it.)

Voters in Washington, now that Initiative 1000 – that state’s physician-assisted suicide measure – has qualified for ballot status in November, have an advantage over those Oregon voters. They don’t have to guess what the effects are likely to be. Unless something about the terminally ill in Washington is somehow a lot different from those in Oregon, the effects are likely to be similar. Smaller in scale, in other words, than a lot of people who work themselves up on this issue are likely to think.

Not unimportant, of course – this is a matter of life and death. But no massive sweep of deaths around the state, either.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 23 2008

A list to conjure with

Published by under Oregon

We love lists, and this one was irresistable: The 50 most influential political people in Oregon, leaving aside the actual officeholders and candidates.

Topping out: The governor’s chief of staff and the staff chief for the senior senator – sensible enough. Of the former, Chip Terhune: “If you want the attention of the governor, Terhune is the only in.” Of the latter, Josh Kardon: “When it comes to Oregon political strategy, no one does it better. That might explain why U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign tapped Kardon to head up her Oregon team – even though he didn’t have much to work with.”

Elsewhere, labor accounts for a bunch of top names, and top staff people, along with pollsters and campaign operatives, account for another large group. Oregon’s richest man, Phil Knight, checks in at #19. It’s a good read.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Jul 22 2008

They could have fun with this

Published by under Oregon

Nah, not expecting that they will. But be it noted that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (which for some time has, of course, had a web site) has launched a blog.

No, nothing too exciting yet; the main post up so far reviews the reasons why self-serve liquor isn’t legal in Oregon. And the writer ends his post, “respectfully.” But we’ll check back in from time to time.

Notable quote: “Alcohol is a drug that impairs judgment. People who are consuming alcohol can’t be expected to monitor their own service and behavior.” But don’t we expect just that, what with DUI laws and such? Ah well.

Hat tip to the Portland Mercury Blogtown.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Jul 21 2008

$2.6m in three slots

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

There are three U.S. House races in the Northwest this year which bear serious watching, one in each of the three states. And now the national Democratic House organization – the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – is dumping $2.6 million into those three seats.

There will be (and to a small extent have been) contributions from the Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee; but the NRCC has been badly outraised (the Ds had $55 million at end of June, and the Rs $8.5 million), and has to spread its money more thinly because so many Republican incumbent nationally are threatened this year.

Of the three key Northwest seats, one is open, the Oregon 5th, now held by Democrat Darlene Hooley. A few months back Republicans were looking at this district, where the party balance is close, as a realistic pickup; now, with a damaged nominee in Mike Erickson, the odds are favoring Democrat Kurt Schrader, a state senator who already has a solid base in the district. Erickson is, however, well ahead in money – his receipts are at $1.9 million – because he can and does self-fund his campaign ($1.6 million of those receipts are from himself). Schrader has raised a little over a half million, a respectable but far smaller amount, raising some worry about being swamped by Erickson’s money, which he showed in his 2006 race for this seat he’s willing to spend freely.

Enter the DCCC, which said July 11 it is tossing in (at least at present) $1.2 million for media buys, presumably mostly TV. That, with Schrader’s own money, would level the field. (The buy hasn’t actually happened yet and could be amended, though probably it would adjust downward mostly if Schrader wound up raising a lot more money quickly, so he needed less.)

The dynamic is a little different in the other two races: There, the national Democrats (they announced today) are feeding Democratic challengers who actually have been outraising Republican incumbents (which isn’t something you saw a lot of before this year, and still don’t see in many places).

In the Washington 8th District, the DCCC is marking $949,000 for Democrat Darcy Burner, running her second race against Republican incumbent Dave Reichert, and this time outraising him already. This donation gives her a clear, marked financial advantage in the race.

And in the Idaho 1st, where Republican Bill Sali‘s financial situation has been surprisingly bad (weak fundraising, slow debt payoff, still-high debt from the last campaign, difficulty getting proper reporting done), the national Democrats weighed in too. Democrat Walt Minnick has had solid fundraising (he ended the last quarter nearly doubling Sali’s cash of hand, and Sali’s debt amounted to about half of the cash on him). To that, the DCCC has added $349,000 for media, which at the moment would mean that Minnick has an unencumbered $800,000 or so, while Sali has an unencumbered (debt-free) $125,000 or so. It makes for a hell of a disparity.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

Next »

 


A truly down-home ad for Oregon Senator Merkley.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here