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Posts published in “Day: December 29, 2010”

#7 from 10: Highway 12 trucking

Highway 12 from Lewiston to Missoula is a pretty and highly scenic drive, but even drivers who are both experienced in mountain travel and driving low-center-of-gravity vehicles will find it a challenge. It has long been used by conventional truck traffic, though car drivers (and a lot of locals) dread spotting one - the clearance is often a little uncomfortable. It is twisting and in some places quite steep.

So the idea of sending indistrial loads so large they take up all of both lanes on this road, from the Port of Lewiston northeast to the oil. fields of Alberta, quickly sounded breathtakingly bad to a lot of people. As of this fall, oil companies planning such shipments had in hand state permits from the Idaho transportation department, and were about to roll when a series of court and other challenges began.

The battle, in courtrooms and hearing rooms, was still underway as the year closed out, though one major development - a hearing officer's report arguing that the shipments should be allowed - arrived just this week.

It will continue into the new year, though: The issue will go back to others at the state department of transportation. And maybe beyond.

#8 from 10: Art Robinson campaign

Some real news in this campaign: This is how far out politics got in 2010.

Art Robinson, running in the Oregon 4th district, had to be one of the most peculiar congressional candidates in the national in 2010 - and that's quite some company. A climate change denier who lives on what amounts to a remote compound, his rundown of contentions will hold up with any of the year's better known national odd candidates.

One sample quote will give some of the flavor: "Public education (tax-financed socialism) has become the most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism in the United States. Moreover, people who have been cut off at the knees by public education are so mentally handicapped that they cannot be responsible custodians of the energy technology base or other advanced accomplishments of our civilization. These ignorant people vote, and their votes are beginning to destroy our way of life. Can this problem be corrected? Yes. Can it be corrected by improving the public schools? No – only by abolishing them."

The arrival of such a candidate wasn't the really noteworthy thing. That would be mass of money, deep into six figures, spent on his behalf - though not through his campaign - aimed squarely at the Democratic incumbent in the district, Peter DeFazio. DeFazio himself went viral when, camera-accompanied, he took to the mean streets of D.C. to try to track down (Michael Moore style) whoever it was that financed the mass TV campaign against him. (The association which paid for it, whose title sounded like a mass grass-roots group, turned out to be a couple of wealthy guys - a hedge fund manager and a construction executive - on the east coast.)

A sign of things to come?

Oh, and there's this from Robinson's campaign web site: "Art Robinson will be running again in the 2012 election. We have made a tremendous amount of progress and if we all keep working - starting now - we will have a much better chance then."

#9 from 10: Intel expands in Oregon

In this year of depressing economic news (on levels of employment and investment within the United States, that is) - not a matter of things getting worse so much as of things stubbornly refusing to get better - the single biggest piece of business news in the Northwest in 2010 may have been a positive business expansion story.

Intel Corporation, whose largest operations (though not headquarters) long have been in Oregon, announced in the fall a massive expansion of its facilities at Hillsboro. Thousands of jobs are expected to appear in the next few years as a result of the billion-dollar expansion, which also signals a major boost to the area's high tech operations.

Watching the tech buiness news in recent weeks, in fact, some of this already seems to be happening.