Archive for February, 2010

Feb 16 2010

Maybe about where it is

Published by under Oregon

The primary poll numbers in the Oregon Democratic gubernatorial, conducted and released by the John Kitzhaber campaign, are about as you might expect from that source: Kitzhaber 55%, Bill Bradbury 21%, Jerry Wilson 2%, and undecided 22%. (There was a released split by congressional district, which among Democrats said Kitzhaber was strongest in the 4th and weakest in the 2nd.)

The response from Bradbury, the former secretary of state who has been running as underdog (though with some strong out of state endorsements, like Al Gore and Howard Dean), might have been to dis the poll. Instead, the emphasis was this: “This Kitzhaber poll is actually good news for our campaign. For a two term Democratic Governor to be polling barely over 50% in his own party shows a real weakness and an opportunity for us to get our message out that Bill Bradbury is THE democratic candidate in the race.”

It’s a sounded geared at hopefulness rather than irritation, but if you assume the numbers are somewhere close to realistic, they don’t bode well for Bradbury. Other numbers from the poll give Kitzhaber a 69% favorable among Democrats – not super-strong certainly, and now what he should want if running against a strong Republican, but good enough for a solid base at this point among fellow Democrats.

Three months to go for Bradbury to turn it around.

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Feb 16 2010

Common thread

Published by under Oregon,Washington

Look at all the protests – the anti-tax and the countering anti-cut protests at Olympia and Salem this week.

The two sides would seem to be totally opposite in motivation. But look again – turned down the volume and squint at the signs, and what do you see? Anger, simply. This is a time of anger, all over the place.

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Feb 15 2010

The role of a representative

Published by under Washington

There’s no perfect answer, and there are always situational answers, to the question of whether elected officials should rigorously follow the polls in deciding what to do. Veer too far from what the public wants, or will accept, and you’ll be thrown out of office, and maybe should be. But the questions facing voters are often different from those facing their representatives.

Public attitudes can be hard to gauge, and they aren’t always what you think they are. Have you seen the recent articles about the polling on whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military? A CBS poll says that 51% of Americans favor allowing “gay men and lesbians” to so serve – but just 34% of “homosexuals.” Draw what conclusions you will from that.

Ballot issues should in theory be a more solid base for assessing opinion; but the questions they ask typically are narrow. Would you like lower taxes? You probably would. How about this: Would you prefer a tax cut of x amount with a cut in public services at x level, or not? That result might be a little different, especially depending on the variables.

Washington legislators are grappling with this as they deal with cutting ot the most stringent portions of Initiative 960, which said that “for the Washington State Legislature to raise taxes, the legislature would have to approve any tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority vote or submit tax increase proposals to a statewide vote of the electorate.” It passed in 2007 with 51.2% of the vote (a lot less than it would ask of the legislature to transact conventional business).

Initiatives ordinarily are considered close to untouchable – the people have, after all, spoken directly in those cases. But they periodically are adjusted, in many states (Washington has amended them before), and ordinarily there’s less political blowback than you might expect. (A notable case from Idaho in 2002, when voters passed a term limit initiative aimed in part at state legislators themselves. The legislators swiftly and overwhelmingly repealed the voter-passed limits, with votes so strong they overrode a governor’s veto. The whole subject hardly even came up in the next election.)

When Tim Eyman, I-960’s key backer, tells legislators that there’s strong support for keeping a limit on taxes, he’s undoubtledly right. But consider that point in context.

You can consider, for example, the anti-tax rally at Olympia today, which drew 3,000 people – a substantial crowd. But then, there were also the 6,000 people who showed up at the anti-budget cuts rally.

Then there was the Elway Poll (403 Washingtonians, January 29-31, margin of error 5%) for Eldercare Alliance released today, indicating 47% favoring for lawmakers who “voted to raise taxes in order to maintain services for elderly and disabled people;” 24% disapproved and the other 24% said it would make no difference. Complicating the situation: If a legislator voted to increase taxes “to maintain statewide public services,” support drops to 23% and opposition rises to 37%. In other words, there’s empathy and willingness to pay for specific needs, but not for bland, generalized government – although a large chunk of what government does as an ongoing matter is providing those services.

What seems to be at issue, as a matter of politics, is not whether legislators are upholding an initiative; it is a somewhat broader picture of what legislators are doing. What people think of what their legislators are doing seems to depend a great deal on how you paint that picture.

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Feb 14 2010

D.C. connections

Published by under Idaho

Candidates for Congress stress any and all connections they have in the home district and shuffle off to the side their links to money and connections in D.C. But those money and connections often (not going to say always) play a big role in just how well a campaign comes together, and whether it ultimately wins, and what directions it takes (at campaign level, or in office).

So a blog post by former Boise City Council candidate Lucas Baumbach is worth note for some of the ties that might, or might not, come into play in the Idaho 1st district race.

Baumbach has had some issues with the 1st District Republican front runner, Vaughn Ward; his primary opponent is legislator Raul Labrador, and both are seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick. In a look through Ward’s campaign finance reports, he frequent crossed the name of Erin Casey, a Washington-based fundraiser.

To pause here: Consulting fundraisers have in the last couple of decades become a big part of the scene for both political parties, and a lot candidates use them. (The distortions in politics their trade has led to, for both parties, are serious, but the subject of some other post.) Ward’s federal finance reports show his campaign paying her $17,570 last year (for fundraising), in monthly payments starting in late spring. Baumbach writes that “It’s clear that without her his campaign would be as broke as it was last April.” Maybe: Looking at the campaign from the outside, we’d suggest that’s impossible to know for sure.

But there are a couple of other things we do know.

Casey started her fundraising and events company last spring – just about the same time Ward hired her. A great leap of faith in a newcomer, perhaps. But her most recent job before that may also have been relevant: Before starting her company, she was director of special projects for the National Republican Senate Committee, and before that was field finance director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and before that was the NRCC director of finance events.

This falls into focus when you wonder about Ward’s early de-facto (if unofficial) endorsement by a number of key national leadership Republicans. The architecture of connections and funding were being built in from an early stage. Very early.

To pick up again with Erin Casey: A job or two before the NRCC, she was working on campaigns for former U.S. Representative Chris Chocola, R-Indiana. He is of interest here for this reason: In April of last year, he was named president of the Club for Growth, which was the key national group that helped power former Representative Bill Sali through his primary and general elections in 2006, when he won (but did not provide support in 2008, when he lost). The Washington Times has reported Chocola “has become the ‘go-to guy’ for endorsements and money for a growing clientele of fiscally conservative Republican candidates for Congress.” There’s been no visible link of Club for Growth to Ward’s campaign so far, but you wonder if it may be coming (some positive notes from them about Minnick notwithstanding).

Sali, we might note again, has not publicly ruled out a race again in the 1st, but has made no active moves toward it, either.

All of this is only part of the story. But a relevant part.

QUOTE OF NOTE In rummaging through the web record, we ran across an interview Casey gave with National Journal magazine, and this Q&A: “If you could only watch one TV news show, what would it be? None – I prefer to read news clips and stories online than watch the news shows. All the TV shows seems to slant one way or the other.” Bravo. Take her counsel: With uncommon exceptions, most news on the tube isn’t worth watching.

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Feb 12 2010

Shoring up the levies

Published by under Washington

Mostly, we don’t take great notice of school finance and bond levies (other than our own), because often the issues involved are local and not very indicative of wider trends.

But. In the context of the economic downtowns, and passage of two statewide tax measures in Oregon, and widespread assumptions (weakly based, in our view) that the country has turned anti-tax, the latest election news out of Washington state merits some attention:

In the Seattle Times: “Voters were showing their support for most area school districts, with partial returns from Tuesday’s special election favoring passage of billions of dollars in levy and bond measures to operate, maintain and build schools. According to unofficial results released shortly after 8 p.m., ballot measures in 20 of 23 King and Snohomish County school districts were winning approval, although some by very narrow margins.”

In a comment on this at the Horse’s Ass blog: “I did a quick look at election results around the state last night, and most levies were being passed by wide margins, even in very conservative counties in Eastern Washington. Coupled with the results from OR a few weeks ago and the defeat of 1033 last year and populist voter anger over bailouts of big banks, maybe it is time for our elected leaders to look at the creation of a progressive income tax in WA.”

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Feb 11 2010

The February Idaho Digest

Published by under Digests


Our February 2010 Idaho Public Affairs Digest is out, with reports on the opening of the new legislative session, the governor’s proposals for the state, a Tea Party event at the Statehouse and much more. We also take a look at how area businesses and employees are holding up in the recession.

This was not a more substantial month for publication of state rules and regulations. And we include the usual rundown of important court decisions, federal actions, calendar of upcoming events and much more is in full review.

Interested in subscribing, or seeing a sample copy? (Subscribers also get access to the full archives, a detailed recent history of Idaho month by month, going back to 1999.)

Just send us a mail at [email protected].

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Feb 10 2010

The words he can’t say

Published by under Oregon

Last year the Oregon Legislature passed a bill imposing a 1% tax on certain health insurance premiums; the money from it would be used to pay for health insurance for 80,000 Oregon children who were uninsured. The governor’s office described it when it was signed last summer: “House Bill 2116 provides the funding to cover all children under the age of 19 through the Oregon Health Plan, a cost-share model with employers, or through a newly-created state sponsored private insurance option.”

This session it’s been targeted in House Bill 3603, a simple repeal, prime-sponsored by Representative Jim Weidner, R-Yamhill, and co-sponsored by a dozen other Republican House members. It has virtually no chance of passage, but it was granted a hearing before the House Health Care Committee. And there, Chairman Mitch Greenlick, D-Beaverton, asked Weidner the question about the bill: Are you okay with kicking 80,000 Oregon children off health insurance?

Weidner’s inartful, sheepishly grinning dodge to that question – repeated several times (mercilessly) – has almost to be seen (see the clip above) to believed. Of course, the only honest answer, short of coming up with another way to fund the insurance, would have been: “Sure, kick em off. Opposition to taxes is more important than the lives or health of thousands of children . . .”

There may be a reason that it was a first-term legislator who got stuck as the prime sponsor of this bill.

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Feb 09 2010

The nature of the protest

Published by under Idaho,Oregon

The Idaho House this morning passed 52-18 House Bill 391, which isstructured essentially as a protest to whatever the federal government might do by way of health care policy. (Several of the supporting legislators acknowledged, accurately enough, that they don’t yet know what that might be.)

The bill “codifies as state policy that every person in the state of Idaho is and shall continue to be free from government compulsion in the selection of health insurance options, and that such liberty is protected by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Idaho. The bill removes the authority of any state official or employee from enforcing any penalty which violates the policy. It also tasks the office of the Attorney General with seeking injunctive or other appropriate relief , or defending the state of Idaho and its officials and employees against laws, enacted by any government, which violate the policy.” It’s highly unlikely to survive a court challenge.

Two points of discussion by its advocates during debate, though, are worth a quick highlight.

Bill supporter Representative Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, said the issue was simple: This bill was supportive of the constitution, and “Either you believe in the constitution of the United States or you don’t,” and either you take your oath of office seriously, or not. A Democratic representative objected: The clear implication was that anyone who voted against the bill was trashing both the constitution and their oath of office. House Speaker Lawerence Denney, a conservative by any definition who voted for the bill, agreed that Barrett’s characterization amounted to hashing the character and motivations of the opposition (impugning the motives of another legislator in debate is counter to House rules), and asked her to withdraw her statement. She wouldn’t – she made completely evident that trashing the opposition and its motivations was entirely her point.

There’s a world of commentary in that.

The other point of interest came from Representative Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who took a distinctly different tack. We need health care reform, he said, just not on the federal level: “We need to have state reform.”

A question, then: In Idaho, where is it? And what does Labrador propose the state do to insure the uninsured, keep the sick and previously-ill insured, and cut costs of both insurance and health care? What has any sitting Idaho Republican legislator done along those lines?

ADDED THOUGHT This morning, at the same time the Idaho House was debating and then passing a measure blocking federal health care reform, the Oregon House was debating and then passing, unanimously, House Bill 3631:

“The House today unanimously voted in favor of a bill brought forward by Representative Suzanne VanOrman (D-Hood River/Sandy) that prohibits insurers from discriminating against victims of sexual violence by treating that victimization, or physical or mental injuries sustained as a result of that victimization, as a preexisting condition that would exclude or limit coverage.”

Would the Idaho Legislature pass that one? (No such bill has been introduced so far this session.)

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Feb 09 2010

Truck, meet loophole

Published by under Idaho

The idea is to increase security around the act of ballot casting – ensuring that only actual Idahoans who are legally qualified to vote actually do so. (The political point here doubtless has to do with the unlikely prospect of votes by people in the country illegally, but it would apply to anyone who legally can’t vote.)

The plan, in the bill by Idaho state Representative Mike Moyle, R-Star, introduced today, is that when people show up at the voting place, they have to show a valid picture ID before they get their ballot. On its face, that sounds reasonable enough, provided voters get ample warning of the requirement before they travel to vote.

The catch is . . . well, there are several. What about people who vote absentee, or by mail – military personnel, or Idahoans spending time in another country? Or what about elderly people, or others, who don’t have a drivers license or other picture ID? In such cases, apparently, the prospective voters would just have to sign a form saying they are who they say they are.

Considering that there seems to be no great problem of fraudulent voting in Idaho (or in most other states, either), the whole idea comes down to blocking what might be a handful of instances. Would those really be stopped by the high hurdle of having to sign an affidavit? A fence, after all, is only as strong as its weakest links . . .

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Feb 08 2010

Benton v. Murray

Published by under Washington


Don Benton

There is this to say about Vancouver Republican state Senator Don Benton‘s prospective run – which he said today he’s planning – against Senator Patty Murray: He would be the lead Republican in the field, and as matters stand would be well positioned to win the primary over six other prospects.

There’s that. But you have to suspect Murray’s not losing a lot of sleep tonight; at least not yet.

The move is in line in some respects: He has been raising his profile lately, especially with his testimony and argument against amending Initiative 960, aligning himself with Tim Eyman’s backers and the Tea Party people. So he could be starting with a base.

Benton has lots of political experience. He was a state Republican chair in 2000; he departed after eight months, a period the Seattle Times called “short and troubled.” He has been a legislator for a while now – elected to a term in the House in 1994 (a good year for Republicans), and to the Senate in 1996 (51%), 2000 (53.1%), 2004 (56%) and last year (51.1%). You can more or less tell from the numbers that Benton hasn’t been a towering vote-getter, and his run of wins isn’t unbroken: He was the Republican that Democrat Brian Baird beat in 1998 (55%-45%) to win the 3rd U.S. House seat he’s held since.

He’s had periodic bad headlines over the years. Some of the most interesting came in 2005 when he tried to launch (no, you won’t find it active), a web political report evidently related to Washington state politics. The Tacoma News Tribune reported his pitch (apparently aimed in part at Statehouse people including lobbyists) said to connection with the $565 annual fee, “What will it cost you NOT to subscribe? That could be a princely sum indeed! . . . If you want to continue to be the best informed and highest paid, frankly y’all better pony up quickly, to ‘put your money where your livelihood is.’ Otherwise, I’ll have to say: I told ya so, and you’ll be back to wondering why you were the last to know everything.” (Got harsher at the Seattle Weekly.) Then there was the hot exchange with state ethics officials in 2001 over campaign contributions (his campaign committees were fined by the Public Disclosure Commission). And there was the occasion in 2002 when he made the ethical but impolitic argument in favor of the state Senate keeping, during a budget crunch, a private chef and dining room. Don’t imagine this is the last you’ll hear of those items if the race actually heats up.

The items in the preceding paragraph, by the way, were noted in a scathing post at Sound Politics, a Republican-oriented blog. (The comments on the post continued in the scathing direction.)

Murray’s campaign people may even be looking forward to this.

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Feb 07 2010

About those jobs

Published by under Idaho

In Oregon, the campaign against two tax measures on the ballot – which passed – was centered around the idea that those taxes were “job-killing.” In Idaho, the very notion of a tax increase of any sort is way off the table, in large part because of that same assumption, that taxes imposed on people and businesses will kill private sector jobs. (There’s probably a grudging acknowledgement that public sector jobs would be saved, but that appears to be a lesser factor.)

But consider this point from the latest Idaho Reports program from this weekend, reviewing the state of the budget-setting Idaho. The matter of jobs may not be quite so simple.

The subject was the state budget and jobs, as discussed by three members of the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Here’s Democrat Wendy Jaquet:

“What bothers me as we lay people off because we don’t have this revenue, or we think we don’t have the revenue, then we have kind of a multiplier effect. I asked the director of the Department of Health & Welfare how many private sector jobs would be lost [under current budget proposals] because most of our [services] are done by private providers. And he estimated on the worst-case scenario, which is where we’re headed, it would be about 8,000 private-sector jobs. So its like we’re creating a downward spiral, and that’s what I find really worrisome.”

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Feb 07 2010

From * to politician

Published by under Oregon

The Oregon gubernatorial candidacy of Chris Dudley has prompted Salem Statesman-Journal Executive Editor Bill Church to ask whether athletes can make good politicians.

Best reply, from Tim Pfau:

Do investment bankers make good politicians?
So Union organizers?
Do porn stars?
Do editors?
Do aluminum window salesmen or ministers, or teachers, or unemployed factory workers?

Goofy questions, aren’t they?

Does Dudley? That’s a better question and maybe what you meant to ask.

Not so far.

So far, he’s just delivered canned, and remarkably empty speeches.

I have no more idea what his policy positions are now than I did when he played semi-pro basketball for the Blazers.

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Feb 06 2010

Jim Campbell

Published by under Idaho

Jeff Kropf

Jim Campbell (left) and Buckskin Bill on the Salmon, 1980, shortly before Bill’s death/Judy Lemmon

The river guide and travel business in Central Idaho’s River of No Return-Frank Church Wilderness seems as though it has been around forever, but floating and guest ranch activity is actually fairly young as a major tourist business. It kicked into high gear in the 70s when a number of central players figured out how to make it work in a very effective way. With float permits in Hells Canyon, the Middle Fork, Main Salmon, Owyhee and Lochsa rivers, the Wild Rivers Idaho business that Jim Campbell created and developed was one of the handful of businesses that contributed to building float trips into a mainstay.

Campbell was a researcher at what is now Idaho National Laboratory in the 60s before the backcountry drew him in. With two of his work associates, he started river trips which grew into operations in river running and resort ranches, and those were among the central activities in turning the region into such a popular visiting location. With his love of the country and its history he gathered a group of premier river guides outfitter/ranchers who taught him the back country history. (Two of the people in that group were Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley, who went on to tell those stories in a series of books about that area.) Few guests departed the rivers or Shepp Ranch without an appreciation of those who originally settled that rugged, inaccessible area.

After selling Shepp Ranch, Jim moved across the river to the Polly Bemis property where he built what he’d planned as a retirement home – but retirement was not on his agenda, and he began the development that became the Polly Bemis Resort. He left the backcountry in the 90s, and spent time after that in Las Vegas and Phoenix before settling, in this decade, in Costa Rica. He died there this week.

Linda Watkins, who spent time with Campbell in the backcountry in the 70s and 80s, has a recollection.

It’s hard to know where to start, or what to say about Jim Campell’s death last Thursday. He’s been a part of my life for over three decades (more than 2/3 of my life) – in some ways, more of a family member than most of my own blood relations. I think of his death as I did of my father’s: Relief that he’s finally free of the pain and frustration at growing old that he’s lived with for the last several years. Continue Reading »

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Feb 05 2010

Who lobbies

Published by under Idaho

Idaho law says that lobbying generally means trying to influence the crafting of law or some other official action in the legislative or executive branch, and that in general, anyone who does is a lobbyist – even you or I, if we write a letter to a legislator expressing a point of view on an issue.

Not a big deal, though – nothing to worry about if you’ve not registered with the state as a lobbyist. The state has a number of exemptions from registration, and one of them is this: “Persons who do not receive any compensation for lobbying and persons whose compensation for lobbying does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) in the aggregate during any calendar quarter, including persons who lobby on behalf of their employer or employers, and the lobbying activity represents less than the equivalent of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) of the employee’s time per calendar year quarter, based on an hourly proration of said employee’s compensation.” Simplified, that means if you’re not paid more than $250 to lobby, you don’t have to register. (Sometimes you don’t even if you are paid more.)

If you scan through the monthly reports of Keith Allred‘s lobbyist filings (like this one), then, you have to wonder: Why did he file at all? He was busy in the last few years at the legislature, trying to influence legislation (on behalf of his group the Common Interest), but he wasn’t getting paid for it. He didn’t have to file. Presumably, he filed because he felt like it; he remarked today, “I chose to do so in the interest of full disclosure.”

He didn’t, as it happens, file an annual report for 2009, as must-lobbyists have to do. That led to a press release from the Idaho Republican Party today: “Democratic Candidate for Governor Keith Allred missed the deadline to file his 2009 annual lobbyist report with the Secretary of State. Allred registered with the Secretary of State as a lobbyist in 2009 for The Common Interest.
According to Idaho Code, any lobbyist registered under Section 67-6617 is required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s Office. Failure to file a report could result in a penalty of up to fifty dollars a day, at this point according to statute Allred could be subject to hundreds of dollars in fines. The Secretary of State office’s confirmed earlier today that Allred missed the filing deadline.”

Since he’s never had to file at all, any fines would seem problematic. Allred, as the presumptive Democratic nominee for Idaho governor, is a logical target for shots from the Republican, but this particular blast seems ill-aimed.

Allred filed a report, post-deadline, on Friday, and “expressed regret” for the late filing. But why express even regret for filing late a report he didn’t have to file at all?

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Feb 04 2010

A simple revision

Published by under Washington

Quite the knockdown drag-out in Washington Senate Ways and Means today: initiative organizer Tim Eyman and Senator Adam Kline, D-Seattle, blasting off at each other. And it wasn’t personal: It was policy.

Eyman: “citizens are watching arrogant Democrats decide rules don’t apply to them … The taxpayers have to follow the law but this bill exempts you from it.”

Kline: “I’d like you to talk about the other side … the necessary expenditures that deal with people’s lives that we don’t have enough money to pay for.”

Maybe most pertinent: “We have to deal with both sides of the equal sign.”

(You can see the action via the TVW blog. Eyman comes on at about the 27-minute mark.)

Both, in fact, had a fact-based point to make. The object of the bill in question, Senate Bill 6843, calls for “Preserving essential public services by temporarily suspending the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases and permanently modifying provisions of Initiative Measure No. 960 for improved efficiency and consistency with state budgeting.” It modifies 960 all right – pretty heavily, by eliminating the requirement of a two-thirds legislative approval for a tax increase (which would be effectively nearly impossible in the current climate) through 2011, returning to simple majority, and some other changes as well.

Eyman seems to be convinced enough it will pass to propose a new measure, I-1053, to counter the bill that hasn’t even passed yet: “The 2/3’s requirement is the only thing saving struggling taxpayers and our fragile economy from recession-extending, job-killing tax hikes from Gregoire and the Democrats who control Olympia. It has saved taxpayers BILLIONS OF DOLLARS over the past two years and we need to keep its protections in place. Their arrogant effort to take away Initiative 960’s policies – which have been approved by the voters 3 times and which have survived 2 court challenges – is the reason the 14 of us are sponsoring I-1053, the “Save The 2/3’s Vote For Tax Increases Initiative.”

Kline’s point seems worthwhile too, though, and to the extent that the public is going to become involved in directly setting fiscal policy for the state, maybe this ought to be a rule to adopt:

If you’re going to call for changes in the tax laws, then you have to account – in the initiative – for the spending on the other end. If you’re calling for a tax cut, and that tax cut will have the effect of lowering revenue by (whatever amount – say $200 million), then you have to say specifically what cuts will be made on the other end.

If you’re going to ask the public to make legislative decisions, then they should have to behave like legislators – balancing both sides of the books.

Wonder what Eyman would think about that?

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Feb 03 2010

Not the speed, but the prep

Published by under Washington

New Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is getting some blowback for his batch out of out-of-the-chute decisions, coming in the days after he took office. He told the Seattle Times on Monday, “I think we came out probably — we did come out pushing a little bit too hard, too fast.”

Those have to do with his intent to end or downgrade about 200 city jobs, a bond issue for a Puget Sound seawall (without a heads-up to the city council), and things.

A thought: The rightness or wrongness has nothing to do with an accelerated schedule. The complaints McGinn is getting how are on the substance, not the speed.

What’s needed in terms of time is just enough to do your homework first. That may be what McGinn didn’t do – a rookie’s failure to recognize that there may be factors or layers to a situation that weren’t initially appreciated. He may be getting some of that education now.

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Feb 02 2010

Oregon school direction

Published by under Oregon


Ron Maurer

All three northwest states elect a superintendent of public instruction; Idaho’s is partisan, Oregon’s and Washington’s nonpartisan. But that’s often just a formality; often, voters have a pretty good idea of what they’re getting on the partisan scale.

Oregon’s superintendent, Susan Castillo, was appointed and later elected to the state Senate as a Democrat, and was an assistant Democratic floor leader in 1999 and 2001. She won election as superintendent in 2002 – defeating incumbent Stan Bunn, who had been a Republican state legislator – and 2006, with about two-thirds of the vote.

Today she appears to have a substantial challenger, state Representative Ron Maurer of Grants Pass – a Republican.

He has substantial education background in education (including a doctorate),but that doesn’t seem to have been a top focus on his legislative work. His 2008 voter guide description contained these issue headings: “Southern Oregon Roots, Southern Oregon Values,” “Oregon’s Conservative Voice for Healthcare Reform,” “Public Safety is a Top Priority,” “Advocate for Seniors and the Disabled,” “Defender of Property and Second Amendment Rights” – nothing related to schools.

But we should be hearing more before long.

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WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.



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.

How many copies?


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.