Archive for April, 2011

Apr 13 2011

What’s in a name

Published by under Oregon

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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Apr 13 2011

Carlson: The flagship?

Published by under Idaho

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. Continue Reading »

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Apr 11 2011

Rainey’s Second Thoughts: The Ryan plan

Published by under Rainey

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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Apr 10 2011

OR remap: A GOP congressional

Published by under Oregon

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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Apr 10 2011

OR remap: The MultCo effect

Published by under Oregon

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. Continue Reading »

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Apr 09 2011

A rally of note

Published by under Washington

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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Apr 09 2011

OR remap: And Clackamas to the south

Published by under Oregon

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. Continue Reading »

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Apr 08 2011

OR remap: Washington County conundrum

Published by under Oregon

Redistrict hearing at the Portland Community College campus at Rock Creek. (photo/Randy Stapilus)

Washington County, which has a bunch of legislative districts, will have more when redistricting is done. How that addition will be made, and how the current lines will shift, is wide open, though. And there are political implications, both because Washington has plenty of both Democrats and Republicans, and because some of the districts have some odd qualities.

Washington County, the suburban county west of and abutting Portland, is the biggest single wild card in Oregon politics: Its shift from majority Republican not so long ago to majority Democratic in recent elections has had a lot to do with the changing fortunes of the parties in the state. But the margins still aren’t enormous for anyone, and there are plenty of Republicans as well as Democrats. The exact contours of the legislative districts here will matter a lot after 2012 in a legislature now split nearly evenly.

The redistricting committees know it, too. The Senate redistricting chair (Democrat Suzanne Bonamici) and the two House co-chairs, Democrat Chris Garrett and Republican Shawn Lindsay) all are Washington County legislators; half of the House committee members and a third of the Senate members are from Washington. The fine points of redistricting in that county will not go untended.

And at present, there are some peculiarities. If you drive north on Highway 47 from our home base of Carlton and about 11 miles on cross the line into Washington County, you encounter, the space of 15 miles or so along the road, the communities of Gaston, Dilley, Forest Grove and Banks. You also pass through four Oregon House districts driving that distance.

One of those districts, as Senator Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, pointed out, runs from Gaston to Newburg to Keizer. An eastern Oregonian might sniff at that, in terms of raw square mileage; but this district (the senator is Larry George, R-Sherwood) includes at least three totally distinct community areas that have little to do with each other, an odd mashup from the perspective of anyone who lives there.

At today’s redistricting public hearing at a community college campus near Beaverton (more or less; it’s hard to be sure in that area whether you’re actually in the city of Beaverton or not), those concerns arose loudly, from a string of witnesses pouring in from North Plains, Gaston, Forest Grove and nearby points. Some made the complaint about the 1st congressional district that their rural regions have little in common with Old Town Portland, which is also in to the 1st; but then, congressional districts are big enough that they necessarily have include some varied terrain. (Garrett did offer the idea, likely to pick up some steam, that Portland ought to be in a congressional district of its own.) But most of the talk was about the legislative districts.

Figuring out which parts of the Beaverton/Hillsboro region ought to be kept together isn’t an especially easy task either. Witnesses pointed out that there’s a large Latino community in Hillsboro, and it’d be legally inadvisable to split it. Some argue that the Tanasbourne area (north of north of but between Hillsboro and Beaverton) should be kept together.

Representative Chris Harker, a Democrat attending the session though not a committee member, said he has a Portland mailing address and his nearby business has a Beaverton address, but both locations actually are in unincorporated Washington County. The question of linking west Portland with eastern Washington County came up repeatedly; a Beaverton Chamber speaker argued that Beaverton looks more toward the west, to the rest of Washington County, than it does east to Portland and Multnomah. Beaverton was described at one point as “patchy” and looking like a be-tentacled octopus, its boundaries very hard to describe.

But the “communities of interest” can be awfully slippery here. Senator Mark Hass, a Democrat also from the Beaverton area, pointed out that the Beaverton farmer’s market, the largest in Oregon, is one of many attractions across from Portland that draws people from all over; and he pointed out that the neighborhoods along the Multnomah/Washington county lines aren’t all that different. A number of speakers pointed out the heavy commuter traffic (most notably on the often-clogged Sunset Highway, U.S. 26) between Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro. It’s not only heavy, but heavy in both directions, in morning and evening rush hours. Continue Reading »

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Apr 07 2011

ID: Notes on a sine die

Published by under Idaho

A few notes on the adjournment for the year of the Idaho Legislature.

In an editorial titled “And in the end, hysteria triumphs in Idaho Legislature,” the (traditionally conservative) Twin Falls Times-News notes an online poll run on the blog of the (generally conservative) Dave Oliveria of the Spokane Spokesman-Review: “What scares you more: the Idaho Legislature in the Statehouse or wolves in the forest?” Legislature 74%, wolves 10%.

The editorial concluded that “our Legislature has completely abandoned reasoned discourse. Under every speaker of the House and president of the Senate we can think of — extending back to Pete Cenarrusa and Jack Murphy — lawmakers took pride in not wasting their constituents’ money on hysterical nonsense. That’s not the case anymore.”

It was, after all, a session dominated by such subjects as federal law nullification, allowing guns on campus, radical and high-speed changes in the public school system and deep stabs at the state’s already weak unions, and dismembering of basic health and social services relied on by tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Idahoans. In which the ending was spiced by birtherism and Obama-is-a-Muslim talk (described by the legislators involved as, you know, just a joke).

Right toward the end, on Tuesday, there was Senate Bill 1165, which bans abortion for any reason (other than the life or physical health of the mother) at the 20-week mark; no exception for rape or incest. Having already passed the Senate 24-10, it was on the House floor for final action. It passed there 54-14.

One of the speakers in opposition was Representative John Rusche, D-Lewiston, a retired pediatrician – speaking, then, with some professional expertise – who offered a number of arguments against, one of the most central being this: Determination of severe fetal problems and deformities, often at the point of not allowing a fetus to be carried to term, aren’t usually made until then. “These diagnoses were made right at about 20 weeks. To knowingly force someone to carry a baby to term when they know it’s not going to survive, I think, is cruel.”

The counter to that concern about state-imposed cruelty toward a pregnant mother?

State Representative Brent Crane, R-Nampa: the “hand of the Almighty … His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”

Sine die, meaning “without day,” except not really. They’ll be back next January, to do it all again.

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Apr 06 2011

Bryan Fischer update

Published by under Northwest

Bryan Fischer, the conservative social activist well-known in Idaho for a variety of issues, has been active since he left the state. Every so often, some off the wall comment emerges from him and shoots around the country.

You can see an update on that at the Raw Story site.

But note this also, the prime reason for taking note: He has a radio program (he meets the national central requirement for having one, since he’s conservative), and his guests have included presidential prospects Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Haley Barbour.

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Apr 06 2011

More like a business

Published by under Washington

This got a lot of attention in Washington state:

A general new policy at the University of Washington to accept many more out of state students – those who pay higher tuition and fees – than those from in state, locking out many in-state students with good grades and other advantages. A lot of Washington kids won’t be able to go to their leading state institution.

Why is that? Well, the out-of-staters pay more. They help the university’s bottom line more. The university is operating more, in other words, like a prosperous health insurance company.

Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times put it succinctly: “For decades now we’ve heard the demand that government needs to be more like business. Can’t it be more self-sufficient, more attuned to the bottom line? Well, yes it can. This is what it looks like.”

Pretty, ain’t it?

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Apr 06 2011

Carlson: Beware your friends

Published by under Carlson

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

One of many political verities in politics is that it is always your friends who get you in trouble. Jimmy Carter had his Bert Lance, Bill Clinton his Webb Hubbell and George W. Bush his Karl Rove.

From one’s enemies a public officeholder expects animosity and treachery. From one’s friends, though, there is an assumption of loyalty and that loyalty should preclude stupidity and/or treachery. More often than not, however, when controversy arises, an officeholder has let his or her reverse loyalty blind them to the folly a friend is exhibiting. And when the smoke has cleared, it is the friend that has been the cause of the downfall.

The Idaho Statesman’s political editor, Dan Popkey, prompted this reflection after reading his excellent March 22 column regarding Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s recent pattern of dodging the press and minimizing contact now that he no longer has to face re-election. After 28 years in the public eye, Butch apparently will be taking off the spurs and not be on the ballot in 2014.

Popkey ends his column deploring this turn of events and the attitude that undergirds it by pointing out that the Governor, while not available for the media, can and does make time for his lobbyist friends. He references the photo that appeared recently on their business website.

The picture is worth the proverbial thousand words, and one need look no further than that to know the Governor has received only encouragement from those three to diss the media and disregard their existence. If the idea did not originate with one of those three, it certainly has been reinforced by them.

Of the three, Phil Reberger, an ex-officer in the military and the former chief of staff to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Sen. Steve Symms, is a likely candidate for either originating or encouraging the idea of cutting off the media’s access to the Governor. After all, that’s pretty much what he did when his horse was governor.

Not even Kempthorne, though, was foolish enough to bypass the annual invitation to address the “Headliner” luncheon of the Idaho Press Club. After all, the media is both an interest group and a power center. Like all “influentials” it expects to be courted, considered and respected.

Popkey correctly recalls the traditional annual appearances by a Governor started with then-Gov. Cecil D. Andrus in the early 1970’s. To be more precise, it was 1973 and Andrus addressed an issue near and dear to the hearts of the media: whether Idaho needed a “Shield Law” to provide further protection for the media from law enforcement demands that in some instances sources had to be revealed and notebooks turned over.

There were strong and conflicting views within the media on this subject, with some reporters and editors holding the view that the Constitutional guarantee under the free speech amendment was sufficient protection. Showing his deft touch for sticky wickets, Andrus took the position that the media should answer the question and give him a consensus view. If they wanted it, he would sign it. If they didn’t either he would work to see that it didn’t come before him or veto it as unnecessary if it did. Continue Reading »

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Apr 05 2011

Washington goes all vote-by-mail

Published by under Washington

Not a huge practical change for most voters, since nearly all have been voting by mail anyway in the last few elections.

But the vote-by-mail system hasn’t been uniform across the state until now. Today, that changes, and Washington joins Oregon in that (we believe more advanced) system.

From a statement by Secretary of State Sam Reed:

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 5124, requiring all counties to use the popular vote-by-mail system. As a practical matter, it won’t be a change for most voters, since 98 percent of the statewide vote is now conducted by mail. It will, however, mean that Pierce County, the lone holdout, will need to end use of polling places.

Vote-by-mail gained traction incrementally in Washington. In 1993, the Legislature authorized voters to sign up for permanent absentee voting, meaning a ballot would be sent out automatically for each election. Well over half of the electorate eventually signed up. That same year, a new law authorized nonpartisan primary elections to be handled by mail.

In 2005, six years ago, counties were allowed to decide whether to switch to all vote-by-mail, with the decision to be made by the County Auditor and the County Commission or Council. Counties soon signed up, with some also holding public advisory votes. King, representing 1 voter in 3, was the last major county to switch. That left Pierce as the lone outlier; the County Executive and Auditor supported the change, the County Council did not.

For several sessions, the Legislature declined to mandate that Pierce join the rest of the state, citing the state’s tradition of local control. As more and more Pierce voters themselves switched and as the participation rate for pollsite voters lagged and the price tag rose, Secretary of State Sam Reed, Auditor Julie Anderson, Executive Pat McCarthy, County Auditors and others again turned to Olympia for help. Sen. Scott White, D-Seattle, sponsored the bill and it passed both chambers.

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Apr 05 2011

Budget chat

Published by under Washington

As is so often the case, the questions in cases like this – a public online chat with a legislator – is at least as interesting as the answers.

The legislator is on a hot seat this week – Washington state Representative Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which with its Senate counterpart writes the state budget. Its proposal, just released, addresses the $5 billion gap between existing revenue sources and maintaining what the state now does. Doing that is the rub; it uses cuts in services, shifts of revenue use and other devices, including privatizing part of the state liquor system. It is leaving some unhappiness in its wake.

But also generating lots of fuzzy thinking.

One chatter complained, “every year we have run a deficit in this state.” Hunter pointed out that the state (like most states) has to balance its budget every year.

Justin asked why the legislature continued taxes paying for various sports arenas, including the long-demolished Kingdome. Hunter replied that “we haven’t decided to do that.”

Another asked why tax breaks for banks and for cosmetic surgery are left alone while money for schools is being cut. Hunter said that increases in taxes requires a two-thirds vote, which can’t be gotten.

Someone who voted against liquor privatization because of possible expansion of sales outlets last fall complained about the effort in the legislature now. Hunter said that (and this would be in contrast to the ballot measures) the new proposal would affect only warehousing, not the number of outlets.

And so on. An educational tour of the process and some of the substance. May it be done more often.

Politics as such barely entered in. The main exception was when a chatter asked what useful lessons Hunter would draw from the budgeting issues in Wisconsin. Hunter: “Extreme positions that create political theater might be fun to do, but don’t advance the state. His economic proposals are dominated in public by his theater. Our cuts to employee benefits and compensation are deeper than the ones he proposed in Wisconsin, but we negotiated ours.”

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Apr 04 2011

This week in the Digests

Published by under Digests

Shearing sheep in a late Oregon winter. (photo/Linda Watkins)

Washington and Idaho legislative sessions moved toward final budget decisions as March moved into April, while Oregon’s legislators began rolling out their major initial proposals – though final action there may be several months away.

Economic indicators in Oregon and Washington continued cautiously upward, though on a slow trajectory.

Some of the larger stories in the Washington edition:

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet Still little consensus over Alaskan Way

bullet Highway spending report

bullet Efficiency projects launched at UW

In the Oregon edition:

bullet Budget committee chairs release proposal

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet Not all Portland utility money goes to utilities

bullet New biodiesel fuel requirement

In the Idaho edition:

bullet Third bill in Luna proposal passes

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet PUC rejects conservation fund proposal

bullet A child abuse proclamation

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Apr 03 2011

Higher virtues

Published by under Washington

Most times, most places, efficiency is a virtue, even a pretty high one. But there are times and places where higher virtues should rule. Legislatures, for example.

Legislators (in many states) tend to place a lot of stock in getting things done swiftly and keeping legislative sessions brief. Or, in Washington’s case – since the regular session is strictly limited by the constitution – avoiding a trailer special session, which could still happen this year. As an expression of avoiding wasted time or money, that’s reasonable enough. But running through carefully-crafted legislation that has been vetted by the public would seem to be a stronger priority.

This comes to mind with the increasing use this year of “title only” (or “ghost”) bills – measures in which only the legal framework and none of the content is moved through the legislature, with the critical content being added at the last minute. It’s about to be happening a lot, apparently, with budget bills.

Representative Ross Hunter, D-Medina, reportedly said “that staff members told him it must be done in order make sure lawmakers don’t get stuck at the end of the session without the ability to pass a budget.”

In other words, if the numbers come out earlier, there might be protests, blowups and loads of proposed amendments. In fact, there probably would be.

But how would those people react if the harsh reality is simply dumped on them as legislators scram out of town? Would that really be better?

Washington’s legislators could be on the verge of finding out.

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Apr 01 2011

OR remap: Southern views

Published by under Oregon

Some takeaway thoughts after watching (the stream) of the Medford-based hearing today of the Oregon Legislature’s reapportionment committees …

Everyone wants their city or town kept unified in legislative (and congressional) districts. Well, join the club. The people here do have some concerns, though. Grants Pass, for example, is basically included in U.S. House district 2 (which mostly runs east of the Cascades), but almost all of the rest of its county (Josephine) is in district 4. The former has been voting for Republican representatives for many years, the latter Democratic. Some whipsaw going on in Josephine; an issue to fix, if possible.

The prevailing view seems to be that a real community of interest runs along state Highway 140, from Medford through the White City/Eagle Point area north of it, east to Klamath Falls, and continuing east to Lakeview. As opposed to running north-south; the people in Klamath Falls said they feel a lot closer to the Medford area than to Bend (which is a straight shot north on U.S. 97) though the distances are comparable. Why? 140 was described as an easier road to run in the winter; commerce runs much more east-west than north-south; media links Klamath (and Lakeview) with Medford but not with Bend; school and service connections run that way; even a commuter bus line connects on the east-west route. The testimony on this point was consistent.

So too, though, was the view that the Chiloquin area, about 40 miles north of Klamath Falls but still in Klamath County, ought to be united with K-Falls in a House district (they’re presently in the same Senate but different House districts).

There was little testimony to the effect of unity between Medford and Grants Pass, though they’re geographically nearby and along a short run on I-5.

There were some odd cases – geographical oddities, that is. The Applegate Valley, for instance. The valley hammocks from Grants Pass to Medford, south of I-5, and separated from the freeway by a mountain range – the valley is its own distinct community. But it is split between Jackson and Josephine counties, and between legislative and congressional districts as well. What the reapportioners can do to help them out is anyone’s guess.

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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.

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.


How many copies?
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.