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Posts published in January 2011

The four, and a fifth

So the four members of the Washington reapportionment commission are all chosen. Should make for lively meetings.

The second of two Republicans on the panel is the best-known figure of the four overall: former Senator Slade Gorton, the member chosen by Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt. House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt earlier picked former state Representative Tom Huff of Gig Harbor.

The Democrats, who haven't been elected officials, will be Dean Foster, the only commissioner (so far) who has served on the panel before (in 2001), and former Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Cies.

First job for the four will be choosing a fifth member who will serve as chair and presumably break ties.

Dave Ammons of the secretary of state's office advises that "The four voting commissioners are doing their orientration and their first task will be to agree on their chairman. They won't be able to do much actual mapdrawing until they get detailed census tract data in April."

Off to the charts, soon enough.

“Sacrifice zone for foreign jobs”

Quite a bit of interest on this video about the megaload issue in this video (h/t to the OspreySteelheadNews blog). It is not a news vid - it is activist. But hang in toward the end, where there's some discussion about the large picture financial and business implications - where the push for the loads is coming from.

As is so often the case, follow the money.

Two years post-P-I

Close to two year has passed since the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, as a large and print publication, ended its run. And what of all the people who worked there?

The blog Safety Net has a thorough review, suggesting the longer-term results are maybe a little better than they once looked, but still far from great.

And remember as you read this that the people who worked at the P-I had on their resumes employment at one of the larger papers in the country.

A first shot at fixing the Senate

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has been in the forefront of, well, an unusually large number of significant efforts over the last years, for newcoming senator. (Now he won't be in the crop of the most-new.) One of the most useful, not to downgrade others, is his current effort to change (not end) the filibuster procedure in the Senate.

Merkley is actually a national leader on this, organizing the vote and often serving as the public voice. Here, he does a neat bit of framing: Restoring the filibuster to something like what it was in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," instead of what it's like now, which is essentially filing a document with a clerk. Won't be easy to argue against that.

Tiernan’s departure

Bob Tiernan

Not all the dynamics are public, now or maybe ever, for this sort of thing. But the departure of Bob Tiernan as chair of the Oregon Republican Party, a job he's held basically for the last cycle, merits a little pondering.

The move wasn't entirely unexpected. A number of other candidates have been circulating, the most visible of those being Allen Alley, who ran for governor last year and treasurer in 2008.

Often when a party chair opts out, the idea is that his (or hers) is the head to poll after an unsuccessful election. And you could say that Oregon was one of the minority of states holding back last year's Republican tide, what with the ongoing failure to elect (ever since 2002) any statewide elected official.

But that would be a crimped view. Oregon Republicans actually have improved their situation significantly over the last couple of years. The biggest indicator was their return to clout at the legislature, where they now control an even half of the House, and picked up a couple of seats in the Senate. And then there was the almost-win for governor, the party's best showing for a major office since 2002.

There's more than that. Even more significant, maybe, than the even split in the state House was the candidate recruitment party people (including legislative leaders) did to fill legislative ballot slots. House leaders came close to filling the Republican line for all 60 seats, a remarkable achievement for a party in a significant minority, and probably a big part of the reason they did as well as they did in the general election.

The Republican press release on Tiernan's departure also includes the usual list of achievements during his tenure; taken together, you have to say they add up to some real rehabilitation in organization and structure. (more…)

HQ going away, but maybe not far

In a Seattle Times Jon Talton column today, this list of Puget Sound area corporate headquarters that have gone away - somewhere - over the last decade: "It's a painful list: Boeing, Washington Mutual, Safeco, Immunex, Puget Sound Energy during the last decade."

The point of the column was to add another: Todd Pacific Shipyards, where 800 people in the area have worked.

At least this one isn't going far away: The new owner, probably (the deal evidently isn't final), is Vigor Industrial of Portland.

Talton adds this significant point: "Publicly traded Todd is essentially in play, and other bidders might emerge. Vigor is privately held and less vulnerable to Wall Street's destructive whims (take note, Microsoft and others)."

#1 from 10: The flat-line stat

The change that didn't.

From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, the region's unemployment percentages remained steady-state. It was the kind of solid, stable number that could be a good thing if it were a great deal lower. Every month, the state employment or labor departments in Washington, Oregon and Idaho would report their unemployment numbers. And every month, they would change hardly at all.

In November, Washington's unemployment rate was 9.2%, exactly the same as the month before.

A couple of weeks ago, from our Oregon Public Affairs Digest: "Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.6% in November, essentially unchanged from 10.5% in October. The rate has been between 10.5 and 10.7 percent for the most recent 13 months. Oregon’s unemployment rate was 10.7 percent in November 2009."

In Idaho, a little more movement up and down, but not much: "Idaho's rate, a tenth below a recession high of 9.5% in February, remained below the national rate for nine years and two months. The state rate has exceeded the year-earlier rate for 39 straight months. The rate in November 2009 was 9%."

Sooner or later, it's gotta change. But it didn't in 2010.