"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

Interested in a statistical chart of who’s most conservative in the Idaho Legislature – and what conservatism currently is taken to mean in Idaho?

Here’s a pretty good one-page chart, showing how Idaho legislators voted on a collection of flashpoint issues in the last session (with session rankings for 2010 and for career included), courtesy of the Idaho Conservative blog.

Neither the descriptions of issues (or, certainly, the stance on them) that the blog takes would be the same as ours, but you can easily work out what’s under discussion. And then you can discuss.

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We got the word on Sunday night about Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian talking, this morning, about whether he will run for Congress. Sounded like a last-minute deal; maybe he’d be announcing an exploratory committee. The campaign semi-apologized for the late word, and the room it had obtained for the announcement was small, suggesting they didn’t expect much of a crowd.

The indicators were misleading. Avakian turned out to be all in – this was an announcement that he’s running for the House seat held now held by fellow Democrat David Wu. He had campaign staff at the read, even a campaign logo on the handouts – and a large stack of envelopes of campaign contributions. And the small room was packed with 60 or so people; discounting for maybe a dozen media types, that was a fairly large and enthusiastic turnout for a primary challenge.

He had a solid group of endorsers present, including Metro President Tom Hughes (there was a cute story about how Hughes was teaching the high school class where Avakian met his wife), and Roy Jay, the president of the area African American Chamber of Commerce. And, maybe most notable (in this challenge to Wu), Stephen Ying, executive director of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. A longish list of endorsers also included people like House Majority Leader Dave Hunt and a number of local government officials. Such a long roster of endorsers isn’t usual for an in-party challenger of an incumbent officeholder.

But the situation is unusual. Wu has had a series of personal problems and incidents over the last year or so, unusual or hard-to-explain behavior, and a high number of departures of key staff, and all of it very visibly reported (especially in the Oregonian). He has made little progress since putting those concerns to rest. The Avakian announcement was a clear indicator that many of the leading Democrats in the area aren’t conmfortable with Wu continuing as the 1st district flagbearer.

Ad the early announcement sounds like a signal that many of them have decided to sign on with Avakian, probably foreclosing the possibility of a splintered field of major challengers.

Avakian and his endorsers didn’t much mention Wu at all, saying only that the district was in need of “tough and effective” representation, not just the right decisions on floor votes. (Probably wouldn’t be a lot of daylight between Avakian and Wu on those.) The closest to a shot at Wu was when Avakian said he planned to hold plenty of meetings around the district, everyone was welcome and “you won’t need an appointment” – a reference to Wu’s recent one-by-one, by-appointment series of meetings with constituents.

The decision not to has on Wu at the announcement, or likely in upcoming events, is easy enough to understand: Avakian is seeking support from many of the same people who have been voting for Wu, and wants to talk about his own agenda, which he outlined effectively this morning. There’s also the possibility that Wu might opt out if he isn’t pushed too hard (though his recent announcement of substantial campaign contributions last quarter would argue against any soon opt-out).

That kind of a hard to head may be coming, though. Avakian is now asking his fellow Democrats to fire the Democrat who has represented them in Congress for more than a decade. At some point, if Wu stays in, he’s going to have to deeper into the sticky question of why they should do that.

UPDATE: Avakian’s web site is up.

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Redistricting at Albany/Randy Stapilus

Saturday’s last of the road trip public hearings on Oregon redistricting brought to mind an old newspaper story.

Some years ago the company that owned the two daily newspapers at Albany (the Democrat Herald) and Corvallis (the Gazette Times) decided that the two papers, located only 10 miles apart on opposing sides of the Willamette, should be merged. Not an unusual idea; the Northwest has plenty of such examples. But in this case when the idea was announced, both communities erupted into such uproar that the company actually backed off, settling for a merger only of the Sunday edition.

Corvallis – as witness after witness noted at the hearing at Linn-Benton Community College at Albany pointed out – is a university and high tech town, while Albany is blue-collar, a farm and manufacturing town. And never the twain should meet in a legislative district, apparently (notwithstanding the irony of meeting at an institution called “Linn-Benton”). Although both cities are located in one Senate district.

As everywhere else, no one wanted their own community divided between districts. But also as everywhere else, almost every value judgement was countered by another. The hearings demonstrate that, among other things, it’ll be possible to offer some kind of justification to almost any map that emerges.

One witness complained about Linn County being split into three districts; another pointed out that meant a larger legislative delegation. One liked the idea of including Oregon State University (Corvallis) and the University of Oregon (Eugene) in a single congressional idea, as a community of interest; another (on the OSU faculty) urged they be kept separate, on grounds that “two voices are better than one” and that a single member of Congress for both might be put in the position of advocating for one of them at the expense of the other. Is Philomath, a small town about five miles west of Corvallis, more aligned with Corvallis, or with the rural timber and farming communities to its north and west? Both sides were argued.

It was not a heavily attended meeting, and one of the shorter (about 90 minutes long). But as at the others, it did not lack for developing ideas to chew over.

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On the way out of Tillamook after a legislative redistricting hearing, I stopped for lunch at Main Street Pizza (near the cheese factory on the north side of town). The back of the menu said this was one two same-owner pizza places; the other was near the far end of a road I’d just traveled, at the small city of Banks.

That had an odd resonance: People had been spending the morning talking in considerable part about whether coastal communities like Tillamook (and Astoria, and others nearby) ought to be grouped together into as few legislative and congressional districts as possible, but together. The alternative view was that there are plenty of economic and other tie reaching inland, away from the coast. Wonder what the Main Street Pizza people would say about that?

On this rainy morning in Tillamook – is that redundant? – the people who showed up (about two dozen) for the legislative road show on redistricting mostly had the normal concerns: Don’t split our community; keep the coast intact … but as often happens, the problems of compliance have to do with the hard requirements. Such as the limited number of people in those areas, and the large numbers needed for congressional and legislative districts.

The hearing was held in Tillamook but by video (and there were some glitches) joined in Astoria, Lincoln City and Newport.

The majority view, upheld in testimony by the senator, Democrat Betsy Johnson, whose district runs from Tillamook County north to Astoria and along the Columbia past St. Helens and to the edge of Portland. “This district has a genuine feeling of community,” she said, and made a clear case for it. Told that her district is below the population level that will be needed for Senate districts in the new map, she had a ready answer for where to get the additional people: On the Portland outskirts, around Linntown.

Almost no point anyone could make came without its counters. A few people testifying railed at Portland and how its population diluted the districts occupied mostly by people in much more rural areas. One speaker from Astoria said that “sending these little fingers into Multnomah and Washington counties is unjust and unfair.”

A majority view seemed to call for concentrating representation on the coastal counties. (The coast is currently represented by three Senate districts, 1, 5 and 16, and about twice as many House districts.) “We have very unique interests here on the coast,” said one witness.

But there was a strongly-worded counterpoint. The coastal legislators have formed a Coastal Caucus who in recent sessions have become a fairly effective force for coastal issues in the Legislature. Would it be wise to cut the membership of the caucus? No clear conclusions emerged.

Nor on some other basic issues. One House district, for example, runs from just south of the Astoria city line to take in its next-door neighbor of Warrenton, and then south to Tillamook County; Astoria, and communities east nearly to Portland, are in another district. Astoria and Warrenton are all but one community (Astoria has the downtown, the restaurants and tourist center, and Warrenton and the big box stores.) Committee members asked: Is this split-up of Astoria and Warrenton a good or bad thing? Overall, people seemed to hedge. But one local speaker said the two-district approach is better: We effectively have twice the representation in the House than we otherwise would. Again, no definitive answers.

Next hearings, tomorrow: Eugene and Albany/Corvallis.

(A side note: This one was at the smallest community college in Oregon – one newly-built building – though the president said there’s room for two more, and some plan for expansion.)

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One key difference between the “nullification” bills some states (Idaho, for one) have been playing around with, and the marijuana proto-legalization efforts in some states, is this: The pot law proponents aren’t making the argument that (much as they might like to) they’re able to overturn federal law in the statehouses. They know they can’t do that. They can only change state law.

But there is that question: What effect would an overturning of a state law on the subject have on federal enforcement? Signals have been mixed: Sometimes saying the feds will enforce federal anti-drug law, other times seeming to say that state law preferences will be respected.

Both chambers of the Washington Legislature have passed versions of Senate Bill 5073, which expands the legality (under state law) of medical use of marijuana and limits law enforcement action against possessors.

Which brings us to the letter Governor Chris Gregoire this week sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The key paragraph:

“Within the next week lawmakers will be considering the differing versions of this legislation and determining what provisions of state law they will enact and forward to me, as Governor, for approval or disapproval. It would be very helpful to receive clear guidance on the Department of Justice enforcement position … Also, it would be helpful if the guidance addressed whether state employees involved in inspecting the premises, auditing the records or collecting fees from the licensed dispensers, producers or processors would be immune from arrest or liability when engaged in the enforcement of this licensing law.”

Something says we’re approaching a turning point here. The response, whatever it is, should be highly illuminating – and provocative.

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Among the more peculiar pieces of legislation at the Oregon session this year is House Bill 2442 – “Prohibits use of word “independent in name of major or minor political party.”

It seems an odd and arbitrary choice. You could as well ban the use of the words “Democratic” or “Republican” since those are basic descriptors of our form of government. But those are the parties in power, and the Independent Party of Oregon, while growing at a rapid clip (and it may have had some effect on some major-party races last year), is still well shot of major-party status. And has few shields against snipes form the major parties, including shots aimed maybe at its heart.

The House Rules Committee held a hearing on the bill this afternoon. One Republican candidate who won the party’s cross-nomination last time, in opposition to the bill, said there are reasons people are attracted to other than the major parties – including a lot of younger people.

Linda Williams of Portland, one of the founders of the Independent party, pointed out that her group has explicitly described itself as a party, not as a category for non-affiliateds. “I’m a little skeptical if people who tell me that’s very confusing,” she said. The party has invested a lot of time, money and publicity, after all, in promoting itself under its banner.

But the new bill may be specially problematic because of the likelihood that it’s unconstitutional.

Sal Peralta, one of the party’s organizers, said he wasn’t sure how seriously to take the bill since it seemed so clearly unconstitutional. (Two former secretaries of state suggested that it probably ran afoul of the constitution.) “This bill is cynical political mischief at its worst,” Peralta quoted. (He also pointed out that the current Independent Party isn’t the first with that name in Oregon; one set up by Ross Perot did so as well.)

“There is no apparent proponent of the bill signed up to testify,” the chair, Representative Dave Hunt said, and the backing of it remains a little unclear. No legislator visibly supporter it as a sponsor. (There was some suggestion that it came from an interim committee, but that idea was spiked by a member of the interim committee.) Hunt acknowledged that the lack of visible support was a little unusual.

Representative Chris Garrett D-Lake Oswego said it was “inherently confusing” that the party called itself “independent” in the face of lots of voters who consider themselves independents. Might a quarter of the party members really think of themselves as lower-case independents?

Williams said that the party ran surveys to that effect – to try to sift out people who didn’t think of themselves as member of an Independent Party. They simply didn’t find a significant number of them. “People make mistakes with forms all the time,” she said. “If someone had intended to be nonaffiliated voter,” she said, they would not have been deprived of any voting opportunity. Where, exactly, is the harm?

A committee decision on the bill still lies ahead.

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Ten years ago, if anyone asked which university in this state was the “flagship” institution of higher ed, the top undergraduate and graduate school, the state’s Land Grant school, the University of Idaho at Moscow, would have been the response.

Today that is not the perception. Many Idaho residents, especially in the Treasure Valley where one-third of the state’s population resides, would without hesitation say, Boise State University. The fact is indisputable: people equate success on the football field and the hardwood court to dominance as an educational institution.

Boise State’s remarkable run of success in imprinting itself not just on the consciousness of the state but the nation as well, as a legitimate contender for the national championship in Division I football, is rewarded. And those rewards are tangible in greater donations from alumni and student applications.

You have to doff your hat to the five-year strategic game plan conceived, implemented and executed by BSU president Bob Kustra. He and his staff have even done a brilliant job of changing perceptions by little things, such as always referring to the school as Boise State University. Rarely does one hear or see in print a reference to BSU, or the initials. Even the logo on the football helmets changed.

If nothing else, one has to concede that President Kustra and his team know how to market success.

To a large extent, Idaho’s Legislature and Board of Education have bought into the perception that BSU is No. 1, a notion that has been fostered skillfully. The bottom line is Boise State appears to have garnered ever more of the diminishing pie of state support. Without question, the highest paid person on a public payroll in Idaho is Boise State’s football coach, Chris Peterson.

Most of the time, perception is reality. In the world of academia, however, reality is the ranking of universities in terms of real dollars expended for research and in attendant doctoral offerings. Here is where the rubber meets the road.

Despite new marketing programs that tout Boise State as a research university, the facts belie the claim. It is here where even the adoring Idaho Legislature is shirking its responsibility to decently fund Idaho higher education. The consequence is a real dearth of Idaho’s top students attending its leading universities; they chose to seek their higher education out of state, and usually never to return.

Idaho’s major businesses can also be indicted for getting caught up in the fervor of football success, largely ignoring that the state’s system of higher education isn’t producing the quality workforce many of these businesses need to succeed in the world marketplace.

There are eight classifications that academia follows in ranking colleges and universities, put out by the prestigious Carnegie Institute. The highest category is for research universities, private schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice and public schools like the Universities of Washington, Michigan and California.

The next category, the second highest, are universities with high research activity.

The University of Idaho and, surprisingly, Idaho State University, despite being constantly subjected to less state support, are in this second tier.

When the list came out this year some observers were surprised by ISU because the Pocatello school has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country (16%) and its enrollment declined 2.5% this year from last.

The enrollment decline for ISU was predictable as the state stood by and watched as the LDS Church converted the two-year Ricks College in Rexburg into Brigham Young University-Idaho with four-year course offerings and graduate-level courses. BYU-Idaho’s enrollment is approximately that of ISU with the Mormon school on the rise and ISU on the decline.

And where is Boise State University? Carnegie puts it in the fourth of eight tiers where it is classified neither as a research or a doctoral university but rather master’s colleges and universities (larger programs).

Those are the facts. No amount of football success, marketing, or political cheerleading can erase this academic evaluation. It will take real dollars invested in real research tied to real doctoral programs. The perception may be that BSU is the flagship. The reality is that the University of Idaho retains the title as far as the world of academia is concerned.

The real question, though, given declining state support, is how long Idaho and ISU can even retain the second-tier status, let alone a flagship designation?

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From Barrett Rainey of Roseburg today, on his Second Thoughts blog:

Lest you think we media opinion types make up all this stuff about Republicans in Congress further dividing our society by giving more to the “haves” and taking away from the “have nots,” you need look no further than the federal budget prototype introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). … To pull apart and analyze such a document would take far more space – and wonkish political interest – than we have here. For the purposes of supporting my premise about the “haves” and the have nots” we need only look at two items. Health care and the military. Here is the stark reality. While Medicare and Medicaid could stand some restructuring, Ryan proposes cutting both while not diminishing the Pentagon budget by a single dime! Not one! You can’t get much “starker” than that.

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As a Republican looks at the Oregon congressional redistricting picture, the question at hand is this: Is there a way to move the probable partisan split of the (now and future) five House districts from a 4-1 Democratic majority, to just 3-2?

It would seem not too difficult a task, in the sense that Oregon’s voting population is close enough that control of 40% of the state’s congressional districts ought to be out of reach. It proves a slippery goal, though.

Consider this map, posted on the Republican-leaning RedState site (not recently – this was in 2009) as a GOP option for getting from one to two districts out of five. (H/T here to the correspondent who pointed it out.) A larger version and a close-up of the metro area are available at the link.


The population split looks more or less reasonable, recognizing that it was drawn before the 2010 census was conducted.

One clearly-Republican district is, as now, easy to come by – draw in Oregon east of the Cascades and a slice of population on the west end (that would be the green district). The tricky part is the four districts on the west side. The drafter here was able to craft a district that credibly would be majority-Republican. That yellow district looks Republican and probably would be (the drafter estimates a 9% Republican advantage there). The other three districts would be solidly Democratic; there are no swings.

But see how strained the yellow district looks – using a tiny isthmus to connect interior northwest counties (such as our home of Yamhill, which is close to Portland) with the California border country. It can do that only through bypassing Lane and Benton counties and their mass of Democratic votes – a too-obvious gerrymander.

Study that map for a bit and the difficulties of moving Republican House seats in Oregon from one to two come ever clearer.

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tricounty districts
Districts in the three counties

As Oregon’s legislative reapportionment hearings moved last week toward the Portland metro area, an obvious point – in legislative redistricting, if not congressional – came up: What about all those partial Multnomah districts?

Two points are most relevant to the critics of the current lines, and they raise reasonable questions. One is the political leaning of Multnomah County, Oregon’s largest – and overwhelmingly, as a whole, Democratic. The other is the plainly visible fact that a good many districts which include territory in the two neighboring suburban counties, Washington and Clackamas, reach into Multnomah for more voter-equalization population. Politically, Washington overall leans gently Democratic now, and Clackamas is a close call. So are these infusions of Multnomah people making more Democratic a bunch of Washington and Clackamas legislative districts that might otherwise be electing Republicans?

And there are a number of such districts. In the Oregon Senate there are four districts including parts of Multnomah and Washington, three with pieces of Multnomah and Clackamas, and one that has slices of all three counties. In a Senate of 30 members where the majority party maintains control by one seat, that matters. In the Oregon House, which is evenly divided between the parties, you can roughly double the number of seats split between the big three counties.

If you’re an Oregon Republican looking for avenues of improvement – or reasons why your party hasn’t done better recently – these are serious considerations.

A closer look at the vote totals of the legislative districts involved suggests that while the idea isn’t groundless, it also hasn’t made much practical difference. The reason is that the various parts of the three counties do not find the parties evenly scattered. In Washington County, for example, the rural western parts of the county are strongly Republican, but the eastern precincts – those around Beaverton and close to Portland – are nearly as Democratic as those across the line in Multnomah.

A second point is that most of these split-county districts are heavily based in just one county, and the small number of votes in the other would be enough to influence only the closest of races.

Did the Multnomah pie-slice lines alter any 2010 legislative elections? If you examine the numbers, it’s hard to make an argument that they did.

For a little more clarity, here’s how this plays out in the districts involved, using the voting results in 2010.

Senate 16 – Democratic Senator Betsy Johnson won here overall 28,182 to 22,657 for Republican Bob Horning, and she won Multnomah County. But MultCo’s contributed only 503 votes in grand total to the race: It made only a sliver of the difference; Johnson got most of her winning margin in Clatsop, and won four of the five counties in the district (Washington, a rural western slice of it, being the exception).

Senate 17 – Well over 80% of this district is in Washington County; there’d not be enough Multnomah County votes available to save a Democrat decisively losing in Washington. But Democratic Senator Suzanne Bonamici didn’t need the assist. While she did win the Multnomah piece of the district heavily, almost 3-1, she also won the Washington County portion by 3-2.

District 19 – In this district, with elements of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas, there’s a little better argument than in most for a “Multnomah effect.” But not by much. Democrat Richard Devlin won re-election over Republican Mary Kremer boosted by a 2-1 margin in the Multnomah section, but he also more narrowly won both Washington and Clackamas.

Senate 24 – Another district heavily based in just one of the counties – this time, more than 80% of the voters are in Multnomah, and just a small slice in Clackamas. Democrat Rod Monroe did lose the Clackamas portion, decisively, but his win in Multnomah was not overwhelming (taking 16,355 to 13,375 for Republican Rob Wheeler). This is basically a Multnomah district with a little Clackamas infusion.

Senate 26 – In this three-county district (Hood River along with Multnomah and Clackamas) Republican Chuck Thomsen won all three counties, and by comparable margins.

House 27 – Here as in a number of the other districts, Multnomah is only a small piece of the overall district – it contributes about a tenth of the voters here. And Democrat Tobias Read got similar margins in both the Washington and Multnomah areas, taking both decisively.

House 33 – An unusual case of a district split fairly closely between Washington and Multnomah. Democrat Mitch Greenlick cleanup in Multnomah with a 3-1 win there, but he won Washington by a healthy (if smaller) margin as well.

House 35 – A case somewhat like 33, where Democrat Margaret Doherty won more strongly in Multnomah (which is much the smaller part of the district) but prevailed in the Washington precincts too.

House 38 – In this three-county (Mult/Wash/Clack) district, Democrat Chris Garrett got his biggest margin (more than 2-1) in Multnomah, but won the other two as well.

House 41 – Democrat Carolyn Tomei won most strongly (about 4-1) in the smaller Multnomah section of the district, but she also won by about 2-1 in the larger Clackamas portion.

House 48 – More than two-thirds of the vote here is in Multnomah, which went decisively to Democrat Mike Schaufler. He lost the smaller Clackamas portion, but not by a lot.

House 51 – Republican Patrick Sheehan, who won here, did lose the Multnomah part of the district while winning (about 4-3) in Clackamas. But Multnomah’s voters amount to only about 5% of the voters here, hardly enough to make a difference except at the margins; and this is one of the more politically centrist parts of Multnomah.

House 52 – Includes Hood River County as well as Multnomah and Clackamas. Republican Mark Johnson won all three (including Multnomah) by similar margins.

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Most of the larger rallies we’ve seen in the last few years that are ideologically-based have been on the right. But check out this one Friday in Olympia, apparently drawing upwards of 7,000 people:

“Thousands of union members from all over Washington have poured into the state Capitol to demand an end to corporate tax breaks and painful cuts to public programs,” says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “The rally is the largest of four days of boisterous demonstrations in Olympia over spending cuts lawmakers are considering to help close a looming $5.3 billion operating budget deficit for the next two years, The Associated Press reports.”

More on this at the Washington State Labor Council site.

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If Washington County is the largest pivot in Oregon electoral politics, Clackamas County to its southeast – and, roughly, south of Portland – would be the secondary pivot. It is more Republican than Washington County, but its voting base – the third largest in Oregon – is closely enough balanced that it’s a major target for political strategists. Its legislative districts are closely enough balanced that they’re also often battlegrounds. Ad it is a growth county – changes will happen.

The reapportionment hearing here this afternoon drew an audience of 50 or so in addition to the legislators, some locals, plus the committee members. Most of them spoke.

Representative Bill Kennemer, the Republican from District 39 (which includes Oregon City, where today’s hearing was held) and also a former Clackamas County commissioner, suggested that in some ways Clackamas has been “regarded as the stepchild in the urban area”, its legislative districts interstiched with Multnomah County. (Similar arguments came up about Washington County on Friday.) But he did say that his own district, centered on Oregon City and Canby, has a distinct internal community of interest.

Not all of the areas of Clackamas fit in. A speaker from the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce pointed out some relevant anomalies about it: Fast population growth (almost 40% in the 00s) but also that much of the business development has been apart from the population base. It’s a very different kind of place than Oregon City or Canby, which are not far away. To what should it be linked – Tualatin and Sherwood, or somewhere else? The Wilsonville speaker said that there are contacts with Washington County even closer, in some ways, than to the rest of Clackamas (though a piece of Wilsonville is in a far-flung part of Washington). The connection to Sherwood and Newberg are fairly tight, he suggested. (The city of Wilsonville is split between both two House and two Senate districts.)

That led Representative Chris Garrett, D-Lake Oswego, to muse about the difficulty of using any one standard as the basis for drawing lines. County lines are often considered important boundaries, but they may not be the most important in all cases.

Representative Patrick Sheehan, a Republican representing a large chunk of the fast-growing northeast Clackamas area (Damascus, part of Happy Valley), noted that the communities in his area are often split by lines, and asked an attempt be made to keep them together. But he also noted that the parts of the district that bump up against Portland are a lot different from the newly-growing areas of unincorporated Clackamas.

Not everyone drew the lines and distinctions the same way. Jill Thorn of Lake Oswego said that “Clackamas County is not an island. We are part of the metro area, though it is a very diverse area.” Look at what the districts have in common, not in which county the area is located. (Seems here that the split of Lake Oswego and West Linn, which invisibly bump up against each other and have common transportation and other links, into separate legislative districts makes little sense. But some speakers see very distinctive differences between them and argued they’d best be kept apart.)

And a speaker from Tualatin said that linkages there are much stronger with communities to the west – Sherwood, Tigard – than those along I-5 like Lake Oswego or Wilsonville.

Another interesting idea arose: Keeping some unity for informal areas. There is a region, south of the Lake Oswego-West Linn area, called the Stafford Triangle – a partially developed region which retains a rural feel. What should be done with it – develop it or keep it more or less as it is? Whatever the choice, the decision will be made with the involvement of the communities around it (those two, Wilsonville, Canby). Should those areas be kept together?

Few seemed particularly to want to just be lumped in with Portland, though. A fair amount of knowing laughter, for example, for one speaker: “Let Portland keep themselves weird,” said one.

But even that was not unanimous: One couple in northern rural Clackamas felt kinship to southeast Portland, and wanted districts that linked to that area. “We head north from where we live, and most of our friends are in the Portland metro area.”

There won’t be any pleasing everybody.

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