Archive for September, 2009

Sep 16 2009

Kitzhaber’s roster

Published by under Oregon

The list of endorsers today for John Kitzhaber, in his bid for a third term as Oregon governor, was pretty long – a large slice of the Democratic legislative contingent, three other state officials, and some former major office holders – enough to provide some more real demonstration that he clearly is the front-runner.

His expected rival, former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (appointed to that position by Kitzhaber, and expected to announce for governor within days) did pick up one from former Governor Barbara Roberts. But the Kitzhaber collection is looking like a juggernaut. Already.

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Sep 15 2009

On site

Published by under Idaho,Washington

An opinion piece in today’s Los Angeles Times by physicist Frank von Hippel makes the case that storing, rather than reprocessing, nuclear waste is the best way to go. The issue is of considerable interest in the Northwest, where nuclear cleanup activities in two areas – the Hanford site in southeast Washington and the Idaho National Laboratory area in eastern Idaho – are underway, and where eventual storage of waste from those areas at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain repository has been eagerly anticipated for some time.

The Yucca option seems to be fading rapidly (owing partly to intense opposition in Nevada), so the question hangs in the air: What should be done with the waste? One option could be reprocessing, which is done in France. von Hippel makes a strong case that reprocessing along those lines is bad idea, both highly expensive and unsafe. Storage, he argues, would be better.

Toward the end of the article, he suggests this: “The U.S. made the mistake with Yucca Mountain of trying to force a repository on an unwilling state. One alternative would be to follow the path of Finland and Sweden, which have placed their underground repositories in communities that already host nuclear power plants. They have found that once people in a community have accepted a nuclear facility, they view the addition of an underground repository as a relatively minor issue.”

Is it?

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Sep 14 2009

A chamber’s picks

Published by under Washington

So who does the Seattle business community want to fill the two big local open slots – mayor of Seattle and executive of King County? There’s something of a formal choice enunciated in the picks of the Alki Foundation, which in effect is the Seattle Chamber of Commerce public affairs division. And today, it delivered its endorsements.

On was more or less obvious: businessman (from T-Mobile) Joe Mallahan for mayor. Of the two candidates in the running – neither an apparent major front-runner – Mallahan has a substantial business background and likely would be more comfortable with the city’s business interests, and they line up on Alaskan Way replacement options. The other contender, Mike McGinn, is an attorney and environmental activist who probably would bump heads with a number of businesses more than Mallahan would.

The King County ran was less obvious, featuring a liberal Democrat, County Council member Dow Constantine, and former local news anchor Susan Hutchison, who is undeclared as to party but is assumed to be well to Constantine’s right. That might seem to make her the business community choice, but no – the nod went to Constantine.

Why? The Seattle Times asked, and in a blog post outlined the rationale: “Alki Chairman Michael Luis said the county exec’s race was a difficult one for the group. But Luis said it boiled down to this: ‘Susan Hutchison remains sort of a political unknown and just never made people totally comfortable that she was ready to take the reins of a complicated government.’ . . . Constantine is not perceived as a ‘business-type candidate,’ Luis acknowledged. But he is ‘well known’ and could walk into the exec’s job ‘knowing how the place works.’ The general sense among the Alki group was that Hutchison ‘hadn’t made the case she could do the job,’ Luis said.”

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Sep 13 2009

Fish in the Klamath

Published by under Oregon

The Northwest generally has had a decent water year, for the most part not enough water for flooding, but enough to at least come close to normal averages for purposes from agriculture to domestic to fish habitat. California has been less fortunate.

California is in a bad drought, and those conditions extend just about all the way north to Oregon. Conditions have actually resulted in street protests, and the biggest piece of failed legislation in this year’s legislative session (which ended on Saturday) was a massive collection of water efforts. (A special session might be called to revisit it.)

Close to Oregon, there’s some prospective Northwest impact. Fish are suffering in the northern river basins, including in the Klamath River, which straddles California and Oregon. The San Francisco Chronicle devoted a lead article to the subject today. As hot a topic as have been water flows in the Klamath, expect this subject to rise again in the next few months.

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Sep 12 2009

There’s cutting, and there’s cutting more

Published by under Idaho

For the states, what’s coming will be a season of budget cutting. In Idaho, budget holdbacks are likely – there may be no choice.

In doing that, there’s a temptation to do it simply and “fairly” by cutting across the board. An understandable reaction, but one that often creates as many problems as it solves.

To see why, consider this post from Dennis Mansfield of Boise, who developed a string of post-prison facilities called New Hope.

Offenders, who are drug addicts and are housed in prison, cost taxpayers a substantial amount per day (from $55-$75 per day per person – depending upon the source). Per day! Calc that out per month..and then per year….possibly up to almost $80 million or more per year…funds that could otherwise be spent to keep Idahoans safe from hardened criminals.

If the ex-addict/Offender is elgible for release, he or she may be released to a housing program like New Hope for a little over $11 per day, per person. If the now-ex-Offender/ex-addict can pay for it himself, he/she becomes a self-pay member of New Hope. If the ex-addict/ex-Offender cannot pay, an intermediate quasi-governmental organization called BPA determines if that individual is elgible to recieve a voucher – and therefore receive tax-payer funding of $11 a day (NOT $55-75 per day).

That’s an 86% savings for taxpayers…and that seems like the kind of Budget line-item cut that the Otter Administration wants to embrace.

But will the cut be line-item or more closely calibrated? We may see soon enough.

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Sep 11 2009

Ward or Roberts?

Published by under Idaho

Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts

Vaughn Ward

Vaughn Ward

As the weeks go by, two Republicans between them seem to be moving into place to lock down their party’s nomination for the Idaho 1st U.S. House seat held by Democrat Walt Minnick. Former congressional staffer Vaughn Ward and state Representative Ken Roberts have been pulling in substantial endorsements and money and have been developing campaign staffs and organizations – and doing much of this earlier in the cycle than often happens.

Unless some major name enters the field soon, these two seem very likely to be the serious options come primary election. Which of the two should be considered the front-runner, though, makes for a hard call.

First choice seemed to be Roberts, who in general appears to be more the establishment candidate – he certainly has very strong support from the Republican legislative community, and presumably much of its web of support around the district and beyond. And Roberts is an experienced candidate; and running for office is a different thing than simply observing or even helping. But Ward has been doing well too, raising money, probably making more headlines than Roberts (owing in part to participation from the extended Sarah Palin family) and pulling in some strong staff. Viewed externally, the campaigns seem at present to be fairly closely matched. And any major philosophical or policy differences between them, which might emerge, aren’t obvious yet. Both will call themselves strong conservatives, within the usual Idaho meaning of the term.

The immediate prompt for all this review is a post in the Idaho Conservative Blogger, headlined, “Why Do ICB Readers Support Ward Over Roberts?” The blog offered a poll asking readers who they would back in the 2010 election in the 1st, and it came back Ward 90%, Roberts 8% and Minnick 2%.

Polls like this are, of course, self-selecting, and maybe the Ward people got themselves more organized to respond. (If true, that in itself might be an instructive point.) But the blogger also points out that page hits tripled on a recent day when Ward’s answers to various questions were featured, as opposed to when Roberts responded.

What might be making a difference? ICB’s speculation:

Roberts sounds like a typical politician with the same old one liners we all have heard before. I warned Roberts about this problem back on August 12th, I quote “For this conservative, you will have to give me a reason to boot Minnick other than just having an (R) next to your name. Don’t be afraid to shake it up. Give me some substance not the usual talking points that I have heard a billion times. Otherwise don’t wast my time. I will keep an eye on Roberts and Vaughn Ward, the other challenger, and hope for the best, a reason to give them my support”. It seems Ward got the message but Roberts didn’t and ICB readers noticed. Although, ICB agreed with most all of Roberts answers to our Q&A exchange on August 20th, it all sounded like a stump speech. It was too safe. ICB threw Roberts a bone to go on the offensive and show why he should take over Minnicks seat and all he came back with was that Minnick voted to confirm Nancy Pelosi. That’s not taking chances. Come on! Local newspaper columnists, local radio commentators, and TV reporters read this blog. When ICB dedicates an entire post to you take advantage of it. Say something of substance, go out on a limb, take a chance. If you give the standard cookie cutter answer it’s a yawn. I know Roberts has been in politics a long time, the problem is he sounds like it. That will not work this coming election cycle. Again, ICB agrees with 99% of what Roberts says. The problem is how he says it. In what will no doubt be a very emotional and passionate election it just will not work. If Roberts does not figure this out he will have a very hard time.

The implicit message in this seems to be: Come on fiery, and throw those bombs. Which may be right among the Republican primary electorate. And maybe especially if the primary is closed to declared party members. If ICB is right, this could be an upcoming election where that point of law and procedure makes a difference.

Of course, we’re a long way off from next May. But this is suggestive of the shape of politics to come.

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Sep 10 2009

A study in motivation

Published by under Oregon,Washington

Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian calls the story “truly disturbing,” and it is. One of the disturbing aspects of it is a question of both private and public import that ought to be raised by now.

Today’s specific case is that of Tony Marino, in 2008 a Republican candidate for the state House in the suburban Portland district based around Tigard. A comment on one Republican blog: “I got to meet Tony at Dorchester this year, and was very impressed. We need more candidates like Tony Marino.” He was swamped in the fall (64%-36%) by Democratic incumbent Larry Galizio, who recently resigned the seat to take a state job. Marino described himself as a “Business Consultant; Author; Radio/TV Broadcaster; Web Designer; Online TV & Radio Producer.”

But by the time of the general election, he had more to report: “bankruptcy, divorces plural, a federal tax lien and a degree from an on-line university that’s not accredited in Oregon.” Also emerging later: He ran an on-line religious seminary that offered ordination as a minister for $95.

During the middle of the legislative campaign, in August 2008, Marino and his adult daughter stayed at the Emerald Queen Casino and Hotel in Fife, Washington. This February the daughter told local police that during that stay, “her father had nonconsensual sexual intercourse with her while she said she was intoxicated.” Marino has pleaded guilty to second-degree incest, and is in the Pierce County Jail; sentencing is in a couple of weeks. The original charge was rape.

You could say all sorts of things about this appalling case. Here’s one question: What is the seeming magnetic attraction in so many recent cases around the country (and the Northwest has had its share in recent years) between major sex scandal activity, often (not always) involving illegality of some sort, and the intersection of politics, religion and “family values” activism? These cases keep arising with stunning regularity (you’ve surely heard just earlier this week about the hot-microphone bragging by the now-former family-values California state representative). The occasional instance, the unusual case of someone who breaks bad, should be dismissed of having larger meaning; but this is a powerfully and repeatedly recurring pattern. What is going on in the minds of these people?

A serious psychological study, if none has been done yet, is badly needed.

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Sep 10 2009

A home of one’s own

Published by under Idaho,Oregon

John Bradbury

John Bradbury

Yesterday Multnomah County Sheriff Bob Skipper said that he will resign from that job effective in a couple of months because he failed to pass a test which he had to take – under state law – like that administered to newly-minted cops, on law enforcement. Skipper, who had to take it because he had been away from law enforcement for a number of years before agreeing to take over the troubled department a couple of years ago, led it successfully for many years and capably in his recent stretch. The test, which has to do mainly with beat cop work, has little to do with the Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, which mostly runs the county’s jail.

The Oregonian this morning commented that “in other words, Bob Skipper is being pushed out of a job for which he was duly and overwhelmingly elected because he doesn’t have a basic certificate that is more or less irrelevant to his actual job.” It is happening not because of any political battle, but simply because that’s the way the law is. Which suggests more problem with the law than with Skipper

The case, and that latter point, come to mind in reading the Idaho Supreme Court decision out today in John Bradbury v. Idaho Judicial Council, an unusual case of a lawsuit between a district judge and the state’s judicial oversight board.

John Bradbury, a Lewiston who became a 2nd district judge in 2003, was elected to the judicial seat for Idaho County, though his actual judicial work would range elsewhere too, as to Lewiston, Moscow, Orofino and Nezperce. He bought a house in Grangeville, the Idaho County seat, and changed his voter registration from Lewiston to Grangeville.

In May 2006 the Judicial Council started an investigation into whether he really lived in Idaho County. (Of note: Bradbury has run crosswise with a number of people and institutions around Idaho law, having once sued the Judicial Council in 1998 and run, nearly winning, for the Idaho Supreme Court in 2008. Bradbury maintains that key people in the system were prejudiced against him, but we’ll bypass that argument here.) While acknowledging he had a home in Grangeville, had a homeowner’s exemption on it and voted there, it also said that “he spent practically none of his nights in Grangeville, or, that in the prior six (6) months he had spent fewer than ten (10) evenings in Grangeville.” Bradbury acknowledge in one interview that he spent few evenings in Grangeville, licensed his cars in Lewiston and got his personal mail there. The Judicial Council proposed to suspend Bradbury until he “resides” in Grangeville. Bradbury appealed.

So what it mean to “reside” in a specific place? Continue Reading »

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Sep 09 2009

Blue urban, red outlying, of course

Published by under Washington

king co

King Exec map/Seattle Times

This is a slice of a map developed by the Seattle Times showing where the candidates for King County executive, in the recent primary election, came in first. First-place Susan Hutchison, widely viewed as the relatively conservative Republican candidate (bearing in mind that this is a nonpartisan office and there were no party tags on the ballot) took first in the areas in red. Second-place Dow Constantine (a Democrat) came in first in blue. The smatterings of green show wins by Fred Jarrett, another Democrat (and formerly a Republican).

The larger map (follow the link to see the whole thing) shows the picture more thoroughly, but this slice will give you a sense of what’s there: Heavy Constantine wins in nearly all of the city of Seattle and Vashon Island, while Hutchison takes the bulk of the rest.

Of course in looking ahead to the general election, Constantine is likely to pick up many of the votes split among four Democrats, which allowed Hutchison wins in many of those red areas. But this gives you an idea of how the geographical battle shapes up.

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Sep 07 2009

Speculation, state and federal

Published by under Idaho

Could not help but add a concluding thought to a letter to the editor in today’s Twin Falls Times News, from a retiree (from the College of Southern Idaho) who has been enrolled in the state government’s Blue Cross supplement for Medicare.

“Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Blue Cross stating that as of Jan. 1, 2010, all state retirees over the age of 65 were going to be kicked off the policy. Guess we are just too old and feeble? . . . If our state Legislature can pull this kind of a stunt, imagine what our national people will do if we turn health coverage over to Congress.”

Just imagine. Bearing in mind that it was Congress that authorized Medicare, something it did 44 years ago and has sustained since, it being – you might recall – one of those hated federal programs. So why is it that this letter writer would find the state legislature any more trustworthy on this than Congress? []

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Sep 06 2009

A bigger transformation

Published by under Washington

The McMenamins brothers have done some spectacular rehabs over the years, saving a whole bunch of buildings in Oregon and Washington (stretching some distance from their base in Portland) that probably would have gone the way of the wrecking ball otherwise. The indications from this next one may suggest an expanded level of ambition even beyond that.

That would be the Tacoma Elks Temple, a large and empty structure across from the city’s old city hall building. Mike McMenamim was quoted as saying, “That’s one of the most fun buildings I’ve ever come across.”

Could be a great bonus for a slice of Tacoma that could use one.

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Sep 04 2009

Closed primaries, maybe

Published by under Idaho

Those of us interested in political analysis will be poring over what the parties in Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa provide in the coming weeks and months: Nothing less than evidence of who, exactly, votes in Idaho Republican Party primaries. Dry to some people, true, but lip-smacking to some of us.

All this comes out of a decision – a partial decision out today – in that case, where the Idaho Republican Party is seeking to get federal court, in this case, through Judge Lynn Winmill, to change Idaho election law.

For a couple of generations, the procedure for Idaho voters in primary elections has been that anyone can vote for any party’s nominees. You can vote in the intra-party races in the Republican or Democratic parties or neither, but only for one. That’s a little different from the “blanket” primaries – where you can bounce back forth between parties, voting for a Republican for the Senate and a Democrat for governor on the same ballot – which have been thrown out by courts. But not all that different. The closed system, backed by activists like Rod Beck and supported by current Idaho Republican Chair Norm Semanko, presumably would mandate a system something like Oregon’s: You register to vote as a member of a party or as non-affiliated, and then you can vote for that party’s nominees. And only that party.

The point is that people who are not members of a party can, under the current Idaho system, cross over to vote in another party’s primary. Since so many Idaho elections are essentially settled in the Republican primary, the presumption has been that a good number of independents and Democrats do cross over to influence the outcome. That violates the right and ability of people to decide with whom they want to associate, an important point in many places but especially in a political context.

That can get overstated. For all the talk of crossover voting, you can’t find a lot of examples in recent elections where it seems likely to have changed the outcome. The elected officials of the Idaho Republican Party are, with remarkable and even monotonous near-unanimity, conservative. And it’s hard to buy Semanko’s contention that (as Winmill described it) “‘every single Republican who has been on the primary ballot since 1988′ has modified his or her political message, ideology and position on public policy issues in order to persuade nonparty members to vote for him/her in the primary election.” Really? Even such conservatives as Bill Sali? Modified from what?

Still, the larger point is a serious one, compelling at the least. And the tone of Winmill’s decision today suggests he is more persuaded by it than not. He did not reach a final decision because the hard evidence that primary election results are or have been affected by crossover voting simply hasn’t been provided. He invited both sides to present such evidence. Similar kinds of numbers have been developed for “blanket primary” legal cases, and likely comparable work could be done here too. At a guess (with such information as yet sight unseen) we’d suppose Winmill will grant the Republican request, if he gets evidence to reasonably support it. And there’s a good chance that can be gotten.

And that evidence should be fascinating. Not to mention what happens if Winmill does ultimately side with the Republicans, and close the primaries.

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Sep 03 2009

Ever consolidating

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

St Alphonsus

St. Alphonsus RMC

One of the problems that the “let the market solve it” crowd – in the health care debate – has is that there’s little real competition among many providers. And there’s less and less all the time.

Most communities, of course, have only one major medical center. (And don’t mistake this for an argument that we should be building more.) Increasingly, whole regions have but one, or maybe two, corporate organizations running them. Some are for-profit, some not-for-profit (though that term as often applied truly is a term of art), but the number of separate masters is shrinking. From a Wednesday press release from Trinity Health of Novi, Michigan:

Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health announced today they have signed a letter of intent to combine their four Eastern Oregon-Western Idaho hospitals into a single local system. The agreement calls for transferring the three CHI facilities to Trinity Health, thus creating a new regional healthcare system to be operated by Trinity Health.

Three of the hospitals – Mercy Medical Center, Nampa, Idaho; Holy Rosary Medical Center, Ontario, Ore.; and Saint Elizabeth Health Services, Baker City, Ore. – are part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) of Denver, Colo. The fourth hospital is Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (SARMC) of Boise, a part of Trinity Health of Novi, Mich.

Trinity describes itself as “the nation’s fourth-largest Catholic health care system with 45 acute-care hospitals, 379 outpatient facilities, 29 long-term care facilities, and numerous home health offices and hospice programs based in seven states. Trinity Health employs 45,000 full-time staff, had $7 billion in annual operating revenue . . .”

Catholic Health Initiatives “operates in 20 states and includes 78 hospitals; 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; and two community health-services organizations. . . . With annual revenues of $8.2 billion, we rank as the nation’s second-largest Catholic health care system.” It has operations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho: In Washington, at Tacoma, Lakewood, Gig Harbor, Federal Way and Enumclaw; in Oregon at Ontario, Roseburg, Pendleton, and Baker City; and in Idaho at Nampa.

This is, of course, actually just a shift of properties from one mega-organization to another. But it does tend to further consolidate ownership control within regions. The celebratory tone in the release suggests, of course, that the people of the Northwest are meant to celebrate this.

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Sep 02 2009

Kitzhaber takes the plunge

Published by under Oregon


John Kitzhaber

John Kitzhaber, governor of Oregon from 1995 to 2003, thought about running for governor in 2006 and the Senate in 2008, but he couldn’t quite pull the trigger on either. (As running for the Senate was an untaken option in 2002, too.) So until he actually announced, there had to be some inevitable weighing of probabilities. It happens when it happens, and not before.

What Kitzhaber announced today was actually somewhat less than a formal announcement; technically, quite a bit less. But it was sufficient as a statement of intentions. As a matter of practice, the Hamlet period is over, and he’s in the race.

As a strategic concern, a key matter is to what extent he clears the field, on both sides of the fence.

You can start on this with the KATU-TV/Survey USA poll just released showing favorable and unfavorables for Kitzhaber, incumbent Ted Kulongoski, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Bradbury and Republican Allen Alley. It does not indicate any overwhelming strengths for anyone, and Kitzhaber’s 33%/36% favorable/unfavorable is less than commanding. But it’s better than anyone else’s. And once his visibility starts to rise, odds are it will improve.

State Representative Brian Clem, who has been exploring a run for governor, is likely to drop out by week’s end. Bradbury sounded as if he plans to stay in, but who knows? Kitzhaber is simply going to be a formidable presence in the Democratic primary. It’s hard to see him not winning it strongly.

There’s some talk that former Senator Gordon Smith, defeated for re-election last year, may take a run at this race. A Kitzhaber-Smith contest would be high-profile and a lot of fun to watch. But Smith’s path in a governor’s race doesn’t seem very clear. He emerged from last year’s race not only defeated but also somewhat damaged, his nice-guy persona battered and identified with the distinctly minority party in Oregon. He would have serious recovery work to do if he wants to run for a major office again. The idea of running against Kitzhaber may make it less appealing.

Other prospects, from Alley (who is in the race) to Jason Atkinson (who might be), seem murkier still. Any Republican running statewide in Oregon starts from the double-bind of a need to appeal to the right in the primary and the center in the general, a problem that looks to be getting worse this year instead of better. Will an Atkinson run? Guess here is, maybe, but odds are less than even.

The unexpected happens, from here to November 2010 is a long opportunity for just that. But Kitzhaber enters this with a better than even chance of election next year.

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Sep 02 2009

Two sides, sort of

Published by under Idaho

Business interests ordinary get a lot of respect and leeway in Idaho, so count this – the Dispel the Myths/Squash the Fear Rally in Boise today – as something of an unusual case. Here we had owners of small and medium sized businesses making both a business and human interest case that was being shouted down, literally, by a flash crowd from their philosophical right.

The rally had to do with health care reform, which drew the business people because they want provide health insurance for employees – or at least would like their employees to have it – but prices and conditions are putting it out of reach. They made the case compellingly, and one would think this is a serious problem worthy of address.

The 80 or so at the Dispel the Myths rally were met by 50 or so protesters, who (in Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell’s account) shouted down the speakers and tried to keep them from being heard.

One paragraph from Russell’s account: “Wendy Somerset, owner of Furniture and Appliance Outlet in Twin Falls, said her employees won’t take the insurance she provides because of the cost: ‘It’s groceries or health insurance,’ she said. ‘We need reform and we need it now.’ As she spoke, flag-waving protesters in back yelled, ‘Take your socialism!’ and ‘Read the Constitution!’ and a woman shouted, ‘We’re not going to pay for your abortions!’ When rally organizer Nancy Snodgrass of the Main Street Alliance appealed for quiet and respect from both sides, protester Lucille Verdolini shouted from the back, ‘Let’s pray that you don’t get breast cancer and die.’ The group in back then chanted, ‘Obama lies, Grandma dies.’”

It would be nice, in writing about this subject as in many others, to describe the sides as if they are simply both saying their piece, and both sides have something useful to offer. But there’s no realistic case these protesters are offering anything useful. Their repertoire extends to slogans, falsehoods, narrow ideology and purveyance of hatred. They’ll deserve to be taken seriously when they offer (as the business people asked them to do) something resembling solutions and a willingness to behave like adults.

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Sep 01 2009

Culture war time

Published by under Washington

The speculation here (and elsewhere) has been that attitudes toward same-sex marriage have been changing considerably through this decade. When Washington’s legislature passed its Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, that seemed like the clear majority-popular thing to do. When the legislature this spring passed the “everything but marriage” bill (Senate Bill 5688) to allow state-recognized same-sex partnerships, that was by then thought to represent a majority (if, obviously, far from universal) view. And now?

Well, now, we sort of get to find out where the public stands. Referendum 71, which would repeal the “everything but” law, was just declared ballot-qualified – it got barely enough signatures to clear the bar, just over the 120,000 or so signatures it needed. It was a close enough call that for the last couple of weeks the outcome was unclear.

That suggests the proponents have an uphill battle ahead of them. A little over two months, and Washington should be an interesting test of where the public stands now in this front of the culture wars.

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Sep 01 2009

Vouching for Kristof

Published by under Oregon

Some skepticism of unnamed sources as the basis for news stories is understandable, and sometimes warranted. But in the case of Nicholas Kristof’s Sunday New York Times column on health care – which revolves strongly around the story of a woman called “M” – we can personally vouch for the story. We happen to know personally the people in question, have followed this story for some time, and can affirm to you that Kristof got it right.

If you’ve not read the column yet (and please do), the story has to do with a woman and her husband who has progressive dementia and has begun racking up large medical bills, which are likely to get larger. As she sought out financial answers, the piece of advice offered her repeatedly and strongly was: Get a divorce. Fast. Her hospital told her that, and so did her lawyer.

They are certainly not the only married couple in this boat.

Remember that the next time you hear one of the irrationals talking about how America’s health care is number one: We have such a wonderful health care system we’re forcing happily married couples to divorce. We lead the whole rest of the world on that metric.

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This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015. By Randy Stapilus; published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 202 pages. Softcover. List price $16.95.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.



"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
Drafted! Vietnam in War and in Peace. by David R. Frazier; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton OR. 188 pgs. Softcover. $15.95.
The DRAFTED! page.


Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.

Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
Conversations with Atiyeh. by W. Scott Jorgensen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 140 pages. Softcover. $14.95.

"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.

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.


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 (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.

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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 (softcover)


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 (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.


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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.
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, 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 For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.