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Posts published in “Day: December 22, 2008”

Snow, and snow, and snow

buried car

Car status in western Oregon/Stapilus

There's the news report that, in order to get to a game at Denver, the Portland Trailblazers had to head south to Eugene to fly out - as a practical matter, PDX is largely in a state of closure. As is a whole lot else.

There's a long list of closures of various sorts. North of Salem or so, everyone is best advised to go nowhere if at all possible. (Not many miles south of Salem, the temperature gets just warm enough to turn everything to rain.) Snow emergencies have been declared in Portland and a bunch of nearby locales. Amtrak has had delays and problems.

The two vehicles at Ridenbaugh Press are snowed in, and now look not a lot different than the vehicle in the picture. We're relatively fortunate: We can stay put in reasonable comfort for a while. Those who can't say that have difficulties, of one kind or another, ahead.

Dancing with who brung ’em

US capitol

The annual Congressional Quarterly ratings of members of Congress are out, meaning we have some detailed analysis of pieces of the voting record of the delegation.

The three key numbers in the analysis (delivered via the link in the form of a handy spreadsheet) are "participation" (the percentage of key votes actually cast), percentage support for their own party's position, and support for the position of the White House.

The participation score is easily disposed of, since the delegation uniformily did well there. The low number was for Oregon Democratic Representative Darlene Hooley, but that likely reflects a stretch during the year when she was under the weather, and it was a still-respectable 89%. The next lowest was Washington Democrat Norm Dicks at 93%, also pretty solid. Among House members the highest percentage (99%) belongs to two incumbents who were hard-challenged, Idaho Republican Bill Sali (who lost anyway) and Washington Republican Dave Reichert (who won). All six senators scored at least 96% participation. (more…)

Follow the bailout money


On December 2 we posted about the eight Northwest banks that had applied for and been approved to receive federal bailout funds. None of the banks gave the slightest indication they really needed the money, only that the funds would improve the looks of their books. They've been quiet (and there's been damn little regional news coverage about them) ever since. (See the excellent ongoing ProPublica reporting on the bailout.)

Those eight numbered six in Washington state, one each in Oregon and Idaho. They were (in order of size): Sterling Financial Corp in Spokane (WA), $303 million; Umpqua in Portland (OR), $214.2 million; Washington Federal in Seattle (WA), $200 million; Banner Corp in Walla Walla (WA), $124 million; Columbia Banking System in Tacoma (WA), $76.9 million; Cascade Financial Corp in Everett (WA), $39 million; Intermountain Community Bancorp in Sandpoint (ID), $27 million; Heritage Financial in Olympia (WA), $24 million.

Since then two small banks, both in Washington, have joined the list: Timberline Bancorp at Hoquiam, $16.6 million; and Washington Banking Company at Oak Harbor, $26.4 million.

Today, national Associated Press has out a fine article on the bailout recipients (more than 200 of them nationally) saying that "after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it." Read that story.

So what the Northwest banks doing with their money? There hasn't been a lot of specificity. Newcomer Timberline had this to say (and this is a typical statement from the banks) in its press release: "The additional capital will enhance our capacity to support the communities we serve through expanded lending activities and economic development. At September 30, 2008, we were well capitalized and will continue to be well capitalized following the addition of new capital through the Treasury program." Note the statement that "we were well capitalized" - that means they had plenty of money and didn't need the federal money. If they don't need it, then what are they doing with it?

We're trying to inquire of the banks: What are they doing, or will they be doing, with the money? We'll let you know what we hear - if anything.