Archive for November, 2008

Nov 30 2008

How many left?

Published by under Washington

There can’t be, at this point, very many elective governing boards that never have elected a woman to the group.

We now know of at least one – at least, that has applied until now. Last week, Helen Price Johnson was sworn in as a member of the Island County Commission, the first woman in its 155 years of existence. Owing to an election still unresolved, she may actually be joined by a second before long.

How many other such groups are there out there?

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Nov 29 2008

An industrial park that worked

Published by under Oregon

Travel around small towns in the Northwest and it’ll seem half of them have something designated as an industrial or business park – a place where businesses, especially but not exclusively manufacturers, are given encouragement to take root. It often seems a good idea but so often fails to pick up steam. A lot of them look sadly underpopulated.

So, an interesting piece in the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce about an industrial park success story at Estacada, a hidden-away (in a pretty area in the Cascade foothills) little town, not long ago a post-timbertown depression story, which seems of late to be finding its economic footing. In 2003, only one person worked on the 25-acre tract. Now: “. . . the once paltry property has exploded, morphing into the Estacada Industrial Park. The new center of all things industrial – typically steel fabrication and mechanical work – now employees more than 100 people at 12 locally owned companies.”

There seems to have been no single silver bullet, more a confluence of good fortune. (And locals are talking about finding ways to accelerate further.) But it’s a story worth considering as businesses, and people, hunt for answers in tougher days.

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Nov 29 2008

Less jammed up in winetown

Published by under Oregon

At winetown

Heavy traffic on Main Street, Carlton, Oregon, on Thanksgiving/Stapilus

Talk in news reports about substantial crowds (reflecting lower gas prices) but low-level shopping (reflecting the general economic troubles) on this post-Thanksgiving weekend found reflection in smaller locales as well as larger.

Carlton wine shops

Carlton wine shops

In Oregon wine country, there are two especially large-scale weekend events, one on Memorial Day weekend, the other on Thanksgiving weekend. Mass crowds run through the wine towns, and wine tasting rooms are packed. In our small town of Carlton (population about 1,800 people, 20+ wineries or tasting rooms) this weekend is as busy as the year gets. So what was business like?

The story from place to place was consistent. The number of visitors was comparable to last year, maybe down a little. The number of cars was fewer, the traffic jams a little less jammed, because of a shuttle bus program recently established (a wise move, in intensive wine-tasting country), but the number of people seemed similar. But the number of buyers was definitely down. After a strong Friday, the number of buyers on Saturday was definitely down.

Not much disagreement from what we heard: The economy is definitely putting a crimp in things. For whatever it’s worth, wine country isn’t immune. And may be a good indicator.

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Nov 29 2008

ID: Outgoing web

Published by under Idaho

In the going-away department, we checked in on the congressional web sites for Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representative Bill Sali, both leaving office soon but not yet through with their terms of office, or work for constituents.

Craig’s web site seems to be unavailable – drawing error messages. (Let me know if you find otherwise.)

Sali’s is up, but it hasn’t been updated since October. (Craig’s has been.)

UPDATE We may need to amend the report on Craig’s site – some other Senate sites seem to be down also.

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Nov 28 2008

Civil War and Barack Obama

Published by under Oregon

Oregonians know that come this weekend is the mighty Civil War: The annual football game between the University of Oregon (at Eugene) and Oregon State (at Corvallis). It’s a hot deal. Word is that tickets are going for $1,000 and more on eBay.

Someone, naturally, has pulled a political perspective (the one from the right) out of this. There is no escaping politics any more . . .

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Nov 28 2008

Them who show up

Published by under Washington

Awhole lot of politics, like a lot of the rest of life, gets determined by whoever it is that makes the effort to, you know, show up. As in this case from Seattle (on an issue expanding rapidly all over the west coast). From the Stranger‘s Slog:

“The anti-bag-fee ‘coalition’ — AKA, the American Chemistry Council, which advocates against regulation on plastics and toxic chemicals — has collected more than $227,000, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reports, for its campaign to repeal the 20-cent fee on disposable grocery bags. Fully $217,000 of that came directly from the chemical-industry lobby group. At the moment, there is no pro-bag-fee campaign. For this and other reasons, I’m certain that the well-intentioned bag fee—a voluntary charge for those who choose not to carry their groceries in a backpack or reusable 99-cent canvas bag—will be overturned by voters when it’s on the ballot next year.”

And if you’re not a Seattlite, coming to your community next . . .

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Nov 27 2008

Reviewing Ron Sims

Published by under Washington

Ron Sims

Ron Sims

He’s been mentioned as a prospect for the Obama Administration, and maybe he is. But first maybe a look back at the administration of King County Executive Ron Sims would be worth while.

The Seattle Weekly does just that this week, in prickly fashion. It’s detailed and expansive enough to b be worth the extended read.

Core quote, from Rollin Fatland, who worked on two Sins executive campaigns: “Somewhere along the line, the county lost its focus, its mission of providing basic services like jail, Metro [buses], and elections. It ran into trouble straying and getting into areas that may not be a county mandate. On a personal level, I have affection for Ron. He’s a nice man, but somewhere along the line he got off track.”

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Nov 26 2008

DUI in action

Published by under Idaho

Per arrival of the holiday season – drinking season, for a lot of people – a recommend for reading – a nicely-focused and detailed piece in the Idaho Statesman following a DUI-tasked state trooper, as he watches for and eventually arrests a string of drunk drivers.

Several points jump out among the details. One is the sheer level of drunkenness: Assuming the machine readings were right, these people ranged between .12 and .20 blood alcohol level. That isn’t a little tipsy: That is seriously, raging blotto. And while some acknowledge that situation (one, who said “I can’t stop drinking – it makes everything go away”, said he’d probably just had 36 cans of beer to drink) another (who was upward of .12) remarked, “I don’t feel drunk.” Probably didn’t feel much at all . . .

A hat tip for the pointer by Dennis Mansfield, whose own blog entry on the subject also is worth reading.

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Nov 25 2008

Two at the Federalist Society

Published by under Washington

Richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

You may recall the news brief from last week about Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, who while delivering a speech in Washington collapsed – lost consciousness – and was rushed to a hospital. Reports indicate he has fully recovered since. Which would not occasion a post here, except for an incident that preceded the collapse, and where the speech was delivered.

The speech was delivered on the one-year anniversary of the department of Mukasey’s predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, and was a strongly-worded endorsement of the Bush Administration’s expansion of assumed powers in areas of habeas corpus, torture, eavesdropping and others: “I am afraid what we hear is a chorus with a rather more dissonant refrain. Instead of appreciation, or even a fair appraisal, of the Administration’s accomplishments, we have heard relentless criticism of the very policies that have helped keep us safe.”

The New York Times reported that “There was no immediate indication of the cause of his collapse” toward the end of the address, but some in the audience pointed to one – a verbal riposte from someone in the audience, about 15 minutes before the collapse. Several witnesses said that a person at one of the tables exclaimed, “Tyrant! You are a tyrant!”

That person – though he maintains that he exclaimed only the word “tyrant!,” then left – turned out to be a judge: Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders. Sanders today acknowledged his commentary, and released a memo on it. An excerpt:

Mr. Mukasey said those who criticize the Administration for abandoning provisions of the Geneva Conventions fail to recognize that “… Al Qaeda [is] an international terrorist group, and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions.” Although the United States is a signatory, and these Conventions prohibit torture, the audience laughed. Attorney General Mukasey received a standing ovation. I passionately disagree with these views: the government must never set aside the Constitution; domestic and international law forbids torture; and access to the writ of habeas corpus should not be denied.

The program provided no opportunity for questions or response, and I felt compelled to speak out. I stood up, and said, “tyrant,” and then left the meeting. No one else said anything. I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice.

The group to which Mukasey was speaking, and from which Sanders excused himself, was the Federalist Society, as Sanders said, “a conservative and libertarian legal group of which I am a member.” It is also more, a very powerful interest group which has had great sway over the selection of federal judicial appointees; prominent members have included Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, who you might recall are now on the U.S. Supreme Court. Its members have often, widely, been big supporters of the Bush Administration and its expansive approaches.

It was a hotter group in times of Republican hegemony. On Friday, the Washington Post led an article on the group this way: “Last year, there was a candlelight dinner at sold-out, shut-down Union Station to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Federalist Society, with President Bush on stage and three Supreme Court justices in the audience. This year, it’s ‘welcome to the wilderness,’ as a former Clinton administration appointee good-naturedly told the group of lawyers yesterday at its annual meeting.”

But Sanders’ reaction at the dinner could presage something more: Some emerging differences of opinion about what a conservative interpretation of the law ought to be. Ad that might be a thought enough to make more than a few Bush Administration supporters among the Federalist society more than a little woozy.

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Nov 24 2008

WA/OR: The Obama percentage

Published by under Oregon,Washington

Very possibly someone else somewhere has made note of it, but we can’t recall seeing it anywhere, and merits some mention here regardless:

Turns out that the percentage of the vote Democrat Barack Obama received this month in Washington (57.6%) and in Oregon (56.8%) was the highest any presidential candidate has received since Lyndon Johnson (whose numbers were 62% in Washington and 63.7% in Oregon) in 1964. Higher than Clinton, Reagan, Nixon/72. He was the most popular presidential candidate in those states in the last 44 years. Duly noted.

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Nov 24 2008

Boise and Micron

Published by under Idaho

Credit the Idaho Statesman with running the kind of hard-headed business analysis piece that dares to make their readers go gulp – apart from their morning coffee . . .

The article asks the question, Is Micron Technology on track to phase down or out of Boise? There aren’t any definitive answers, as there couldn’t reasonably be (barring an abrupt blast of sunlight from within Micron corporate leadership). But the relevant factors and the parameters and possibilities are cleanly laid out. (At least one very long-time economic consultant of our acquaintance, Richard Slaughter, is quoted: “Micron is likely to go away.”)

A necessary read, for those interested in Boise’s (and Idaho’s) near-term economic future.

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Nov 23 2008

Behind the ‘assasination’ chanters

Published by under Idaho

After the news story broke about the young school bus riders at Rexburg chanting “assassinate Obama” there were a few comments from that area – one thoughtful statement from the mayor, for example – about how wrong it was, and how people in the area need to think hard about where the mentality behind this came from.

That subject has come up on a Huckleberries blog post (Dave Oliveria, blogger) and most interestingly in the comments section. The whole thing is recommended reading, but two quotes beg for pulling . . . One from a teacher in the Rexburg area:

Before the election, I constantly heard horrible, negative remarks about Obama. Things like babykiller, he is black, he is stupid, he doesn’t deserve to win, my parents will move out of the country if he wins, and worst of all, he is a democrat. I often heard from students that he should be shot before he gets in office. It sickened me but at the time I thought that they were just trying to get to me because of my Obama sticker on my desk. Seriously, what 8th grader cares about politics? Most don’t pay attention in class anyway so I wonder where they hear these things? Believe it or not, most people in this town have money–enough money to have a newspaper, internet, satellite or cable. However, most of my students cannot do assignments that involve the news because they do not get the newspaper, have a TV in the house, or the internet. It is not just a few random students but many. Some students come to school to take band, orchestra or a math class (not to mention Seminary) and then are home schooled the rest of the day. It is a fallacy if the kids are learning it from someone other than their families.

And this one from a Rupert-area resident:

I’ve seen it before, and although it saddens me, I am not surprised. There are some VERY narrow-minded people in that part of the state.

The big difference – in North Idaho people with that kind of view are more likely to be “white trash” or “anti-government hillbillies.” People who dress in camo, have jacked up pickups, etc etc. I mean no offense, just trying to form a picture.

But in SE Idaho, that point of view is attached to bankers, church leaders, and others in the “professional” class. The squeaky clean people. And that is far scarier.

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Nov 22 2008

Pierce Republicans

Published by under Washington

Pierce County council

Pierce County Council

Washington’s Pierce County has some of the hottest politics going for those who enjoy watching the unpredictable. It has emerged as Washington’s key swing county.

Its raw numbers are significant – it is the second largest county in the Northwest, behind only King. Its key central city, Tacoma, is solidly Democratic, but accounts for less than a third of the county’s population, and the rest is widely variable. Pierce went for Democrats for most of the major offices – for president, for governor, for U.S. House, all candidates winning decisively around the state.

Below that, things get more complex. Pierce voted for the losing Republicans for lands commissioner (incumbent Doug Sutherland) and treasurer (Allan Martin). It also voted for Republican Rob McKenna for attorney general, which – since McKenna won strongly overall – wouldn’t be a big deal except that his Democratic challenger, John Ladenburg is the current Pierce County executive. And a string of Pierce-area legislative seats were hotly contested and very close.

The race to replace Ladenburg has been heated and very close. Evidently – and based on current run-throughs of the county’s ranked voting formula – Democrat Pat McCarthy seems to have defeated Republican Shawn Bunney, but only 50.7% to 49.3%.

And there’s this: Pierce has a seven-member county council, and five of its members are Republicans; the two Democrats are based closely on Tacoma. One of them, Tim Farrell, “half-jokingly said he sees himself as ‘the leader of the resistance’ on a council with a Republican supermajority. Farrell said he works well with chairman Terry Lee, Dick Muri and Shawn Bunney. He described them as moderate Republicans. But he fears a Republican supermajority could lead to a shift to more conservative policies.”

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Nov 21 2008

The closest in Idaho

Published by under Idaho

We’ll give the award for closest general election result this year – possibly not statistically, but in raw numbers – to the contest for Washington County (Idaho, not Oregon) sheriff.

Incumbent Republican Melvin Williams defeated Democratic challenger Scott Crimin by one vote – 2,125 to 2,124. One more time: Don’t ever let anyone tell you a single vote doesn’t matter.

That’s lot tighter than the commission race over in Clark County (Idaho), where Republican William Frederiksen beat Democrat Ernest Sill by five votes (out of 373 cast in the race; it’s the smallest county in the Northwest). And there were, to be sure, just two state legislative decided by fewer than 1,000 votes, both involving Democratic incumbents, one who survived (Brandon Durst in Boise, 431 votes) and one who lost (Jerry Shively in Idaho Falls, 270 votes).

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Nov 20 2008

Layoffs by the number

Published by under Washington

Others could be doing this in other states too, usefully: The Seattle Times now has up a database of layoff announcements from this year around Washington state.

The list covers layoff announcements of at least 20 jobs each.

The database shows eight such announcements in October, with job cuts upward of 1,700. (Remember that these are are only private and only those done in batches of 20 or more.) November has five such announcements involving somewhat over 600 jobs; but there’s time left in the month.

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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.


 
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JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

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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)

 
 
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WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

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


 

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