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Posts published in September 2008

The church, Kerry and Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

We saw this before nationally, in 2004, when there was talk of Roman Catholic church officials taking (internal church) action against presidential candidate and practicing Catholic John Kerry, because of Kerry's pro-choice views on abortion.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is a practicing Catholic too, and he too is pro-choice. The tension hasn't come up publicly in Oregon until now. Today, Portland Archbishop John Vlazny criticized the governor for hosting a pro-choice event locally: "For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the church."

Is he saying that a Catholic governor must draw all his policy decisions, and official actions, within the confines of the church, and whatever it might teach?

We just finished reading a fine book, "1960 - LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies," by David Pietrusza, which included a detailed account of the concerns people at that time had about the idea of electing a Catholic to high office - whether he might be beholden to, or dictated to by, his church. John Kennedy put that partly to rest by saying forcefully that while he was a loyal Catholic, his church never would dictate policy to him when he was acting as a public servant. And that line seems to have been broadly accepted, nationally and within the church.

Would Archbishop Vlazny say now that Kennedy was wrong? And if Kennedy's rationale was wrong, should non-Catholics have the old concerns about electing someone of that faith?


It's been more than 3 years: Can we please do away with the whole "-gate" thing, revived recently in Alaska with Troopergate and now in Washington with buildergate. Please: A little rhetorical imagination.

Having said that, David Goldstein of Horse's Ass seems to have got hold of a juicy thread that more or less fits the pattern: An initial piece of hard, albeit small, evidence, a run of denials and a slowly emergant extended story as the string is pulled.

In this case, that initial chunk comes from a seemingly unlikely place, the minutes of a Master Builder's Association meeting of May 21, 2007, which includes these sentences: "Doug moved into discussion regarding the request from BIAW to use excess money from the ROII refund to fund the BIAW's war chest. . . . Doug, Joe and John reported that they had received a call from Dino Rossi. John stated that he reiterated the board's sentiment to Rossi, stating that it was to early, and the association had building issues that needed to be resolved."

Talk of managers of an independent political committee coordinating with a candidate? As a strictly legal matter, this may be iffy. Rossi didn't formally announce his candidacy for governor until later in the year, for one thing. The level of "coordination" involved here also doesn't seem very strong.

Politically, though, it constitutes ongoing evidence of just how close Rossi and the Building Industry Association of Washington are, and that may not sell well.

Every bit matters in a close race.

Northwest on the bailout

So how did the Northwest U.S. House delegation break on this morning's bailout vote? The vote was reasonably close by the way, with the bill losing 205-228.

state in favor opposed
Idaho Simpson (R) Sali (R)
Oregon Walden (R)

Hooley (D)

Wu (D)

Blumenauer (D)

DeFazio (D)

Washington Larsen (D)

Baird (D)

Dicks (D)

McDermott (D)

Smith (D)

Inslee (D)

Hastings (R)

McMorris Rodgers (R)

Reichert (R)

As in the Northwest, the vote split both parties deeply, though a majority of Democrats voted for and a majority of Republicans voted against.

But for anyone who follows the region's delegation at all, the splits in the vote here are a little amazing. Bill Sali lines up with Jay Inslee; Jim McDermott lines up with Greg Walden. Strange bedfellows indeed.

Although it might be noted that the candidates in serious races this cycle - Reichert and Sali notably - voted in opposition. May say something about public attitudes.

A real turkey

Apublic policy issue for Philomath: What exactly do you do when turkeys - the animal kind - overrun your town?

That's what they're grappling with. From an AP story on the situation: "About 20 of the big birds hang out in west Philomath, scratching or tearing up landscaping and roofs, leaving calling cards on lawns and decks and making noise during the early morning, fish and wildlife officials say."

Chase them off? (Been tried.) Kill them? (Maybe the last resort.) Or is there another option?


So where might you find maybe the only group of surveyed independent voters Friday night who thought that John McCain rather than Barack Obama won the first presidential debate? Not the group at Fox News . . .

No: It was in the Washington state. Narrowly, 40%-38%, but still.


At the University of Idaho Argonaut (the school newspaper - celebrating its 110th anniversary this fall) blog, this note about national/international media excess:

It’s not just the University of Idaho cheerleaders getting tired of hearing about their uniforms. We are, too. The Argonaut has had information and photo requests from the likes of USA Today, Inside Edition, The Associated Press, Fox News, Fox TV and a myriad of other local news sources. We’ve had more outside news sources contact us about this than when UI alumna Sarah Palin was added to the Republican presidential ticket. May it end soon, for all of our sakes.

We've not said a word about it so far, but the massive media attention - and the Argonaut is not exaggerating here - certainly deserves note.

The Macpherson appointment

Greg Macpherson

Greg Macpherson

The appointment of state Representative (and former attorney general candidate) Greg Macpherson to the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission has drawn enough fire to be slowed down, if not necessarily nixed. But it could say something about what that commission should be like in the months to come.

The opposition is not qualitative in terms of qualification for the job - Macpherson, who has a legislator and elsewhere has been immersed specifically in land policy for years - is well past that threshold, likely playing into the appointment by Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Oregonians in Action, which has spearheaded the opposition, takes issue instead with Macpherson's specific stands (this from a press release appearing on Oregon Catalyst):

As many of you know, Mr. Macpherson is the state legislator from Lake Oswego who led the charge to draft Measure 49, run it through the legislature on a straight party line vote, and craft an exceedingly deceptive ballot title for the Measure without any public input.

As a reward, Governor Kulongoski has nominated Macpherson for a vacant spot on LCDC. If Macpherson becomes an LCDC commissioner, he will have no sympathy for Measure 49 claimants, rural Oregon property owners, or anyone who wants to make reasonable changes to our broken statewide land use planning system.

During his legislative career, Macpherson has opposed the most reasonable changes to Oregon’s land use laws. The last thing that LCDC needs is another hyper-partisan Portland area legislator who cares nothing about fixing a broken set of laws that are nearly four decades old.

Macpherson's central role on Measure 49 is a matter of record; the rest is interpretative, and if you're a fan of Measure 37 (the more ragged measure that 49 replaced), as OIA is, then you're not going to be a Macpherson fan.

OIA said yesterday that a proposed Senate vote to confirm Macpherson has been put off, owing to calls generated by the group, but also noted that a vote still could come later this year (or presumably in January). There may be an opportunity in this for more discussion about Oregon land law, which the state could well use. Macpherson might even welcome it; he was, after all, on the big majority side in the vote on Measure 49.

UPDATE Turns out that Oregonians in Action had less to do with the timing of the Macpherson appointment than they claimed. We got some some background on it from a correspondent yesterday, and now this has shown up on the Oregonian's opinion blog, from Doug Bates:

"When the Senate Rules Committee met last week for a confirmation hearing on Macpherson's appointment by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, the panel's vice chairman, Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, raised a legal technicality. He asked whether a sitting member of the Legislature could be lawfully confirmed for such an appointment. Legal counsel didn't have a ready reply, although Kulongoski has made several such appointments in the past without challenge. Macpherson told the committee he'd prefer holding up his confirmation hearing until the legal question can be addressed. There's still plenty of time for that to happen between now and January, when Macpherson's term in the Senate is over."

The seizure of WaMu

The biggest savings and loan in the country, and one of the leading businesses in the Northwest, Washington Mutual, has been seized and decomposed.

The company doesn't even mention the development on its news release page. But what happened is that federal regulators with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation today seized ownership, and sold most of it to JP Morgan Chase. A press release from the latter says:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) tonight announced it has
acquired all deposits, assets and certain liabilities of Washington Mutual’s banking operations from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), effective immediately. Excluded from the transaction are the senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt, and preferred stock of Washington Mutual’s banks. JPMorgan Chase will not be acquiring any assets or liabilities of the banks’ parent holding company (WM) or the holding company’s non-bank subsidiaries. As part of this transaction, JPMorgan Chase will make a payment of approximately $1.9 billion to the FDIC.

The acquisition expands Chase’s consumer branch network into the attractive states of California, Florida and Washington State and creates the nation’s second-largest branch network – with locations reaching 42% of the U.S. population. The combined 5,400 branches in 23 states will also serve as an excellent base to extend the reach of the business banking, commercial banking, credit card, consumer lending and wealth management businesses. The acquisition also extends Chase’s retail branch network to additional states, including Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

Oh joy - another corporate buyout of a formerly Northwest-based business. How do you suppose the customer, employee and community-relations components of this one will play out? Along the lines, perhaps, of those previous?

A little more attention

Peter DeFazio

Peter DeFazio

Maybe as the article suggests, this is an idea getting little traction - now. But our guess is that if the thought got some serious exposure, it could poll strongly nationally: An idea that a whole lot of Americans probably would sign up for.

From a Congressional Quarterly article on a meeting about the proposed finance bailout (Tyson is Laura Tyson, formerly of the Clinton Administration):

"Tyson got an earful from a number of liberals including Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who advocated a new government fee of .25 percent of every stock transaction to ensure that the government can recoup funds to pay for the aid that it provides to lenders. 'If this is truly such a catastrophe, I don’t see how anybody can object to a one-quarter of one percent fee,' DeFazio said. Others who attended the session said that proposal seemed to be gaining little traction. Tyson rejected DeFazio’s idea and said she believed the government could recoup any funds it pays for troubled investments 'deal by deal,' by negotiating terms for financing rather than charging a fee on each transaction."

Millions of deals by millions of deals? Really? Who would do all that negotiating? DeFazio's approach could pick up steam, if it crosses the visibility threshold.