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Posts published in March 2009

Not enough to do?

Dick Harwood

Dick Harwood

The Idaho Legislature is in a slow state right now, for understandable reasons - more needs to be done on the matter of budgets and revenue before the pace can pick up to normal. But that seems to be allowing all sorts of . . . creative . . . stuff to take up some of the quiet time and committees.

Like the special from Representative Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, introduced today in the House State Affairs Committee (the vote was 13-4). It would have Idaho "declare its sovereignty" from the federal government.

Declare its sovereignty? As in independence, as in sovereign nation? Well, no.

The Harwood measure, a resolution, isn't on line yet. (We'll post a link when we see it.) But you can get a sense of where this is intended from the New With Views web site, which in turn cites a measure in Washington state. Read that touted measure, House Joint Memorial 4009, and what you find are, well, several indicative things. First, it is a memorial, which as people familiar with legislation know, is the same thing as a letter stating an opinion, just arriving on legislative stationary - it has no force or effect. (Harwood's seems to be a resolution, but it is evidently structured much the same way.) Second, its description says it is "Claiming state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment" - which is certainly a part of the constitution, and has been, for a very long time; the reach and meaning of the 10th amendment (like all others) is determined by the courts, not by state legislatures. And third, HJM 4009 isn't going anywhere; its been immobile in committee since January 30.

Which may be the fate of the Harwood measure as well. If it does go further, even if it passes, it will have no practical effect. How could it?

So why is a legislative committee spending its time with this? Only two reasons suggest themselves. One is that political people in Idaho never lose a cheering section by bashing the feds. And the other is that, well, they seem not to have a lot else to do right now.

The unhappiness metrics

Kari Chisholm does a nice deconstruction at Blue Oregon on the Business Week ranking of "unhappiest" cities in the country, and placing Portland at the top - a proposition likely to generate more guffaws than anything else from most Portlanders.

These national "best," "worst," and so on lists of metro areas around the country are mostly ridiculous beyond measure, mainly because of the metrics they use. (An honestly subjective list probably would be a lot better.) They doubtless make for nice handles for magazine articles, where lists are often prized, but almost never should they be taken seriously. That "almost" is there because someone, someday, may come up with one that's truly meaningful. We're not counting on it . . .

Shrinkage

A correspondent (who asked to remain anonymous) pulled together some comparisons of daily newspaper page size, on occasion of the Boise Idaho Statesman's switch today to publication on the press of the Nampa Idaho Press-Tribune - which is cutting the page size.

But it has been cut before, and it has been a process. A big process it has been, too. In 1986, space on a page of the broadsheet Statesman covered 323.1 square inches. As of today, a page is 233.7 square inches.

And we should note here that the Statesman is far from alone in the trimming; few if any daily newspapers publish today in the dimensions they did 20 years ago. (more…)

So, uh, how’s he doing?

Obama Robinson

Barack Obama and Craig Robinson/OSU, 2008

So, most Oregonians are well aware of the family connection in their state to the First Family - Craig Robinson, who coaches men's basketball at Oregon State University, is the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama. No lack of clarity there.

For those of us not following collegiate sports very closely, though, the logical followup question can be a stumper: How well is Coach Robinson doing?

John Canzano at the Oregonian answered the question cleanly in his column today, and added an implication. The background here is that the OSU Beavers were for some time serious cellar dwellers - this was a matter of breathing some life back in. Canzano: "Robinson's team (13-13, 7-8 Pac-10) has three regular-season games and the conference tournament remaining. OSU is flirting with a National Invitation Tournament berth. Which is only to say, the guy has been terrific. And also, someone is going to try to hire him away."

OSU, he advised, should make the effort to keep him, not so much on grounds of celebrity but because he happens to be a good coach getting results.