Archive for December, 2011

Dec 31 2011

Pushing it to the edge

Published by under Washington

NOTE: Oops – the commission had one more day, January 1. (There had been some confusion about whether midnight January 1 applied to the beginning or end of the day.) It’s still rolling, as of midday still unsettled. The remainder of the comments in this post still apply …

Give a schoolchild a deadline of Wednesday morning to deliver a paper, and you can bet they’ll be jamming on it Tuesday night and into the a.m. Reapportionment commissions seem the same.

As it stands, as this is written, the Washington commission is eight hours and change away from turning into pumpkins. They’re scrambling, and maybe they’ll get it done. They’re close enough, they might. But it’s hard to know. The first Idaho commission seemed on the verge of getting it done, and it didn’t. By the time it actually submitted a commonly-agreed on plan, their deadline had passed.

Hope rose last week when the Washington panel appeared to have settled on a congressional map, on which just about everyone weighed on, and candidates entered races. It seemed to be a done deal, especially since no one was strenuously objecting and the only hitch in getting the legislative map done was a minor disagreement in the boundaries of a single Yakima-area district.

And here we are. That one minor disagreement has ballooned, and now everyone seems to be withholding approval. And evidently, if the legislative plan isn’t approved as well, the congressional map is just so many wasted pixels as well – both have to be provided at once.

Will the Washington Supreme Court get to pull out its marking pens? A few hours from now we’ll know.

You can by the way watch the remaining action live. At this writing, they were supposed to return at 3 p.m., and they’re 22 minutes late …

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Dec 28 2011

Alcohol and the Idaho legislator

Published by under Idaho


Scott Andrus, a Twin Falls resident described in an Idaho Statesman article as a former driver under the influence who has turned sharply against alcohol consumption, is pitching a pledge to Idaho legislators. Not, thankfully, a policy pledge – this one wouldn’t require a vote for or against something. Rather, it’s a request that legislators pledge not to drink alcohol during the session.

This seems to call for reflection on what’s likely the premise here: That legislators come from their hometowns to go to the big city, where they get into spending nights out, get drunk, and proceed to do stupid things when they write bills and cast votes at the Statehouse.

This is probably not a rare image or presumption, and every so often some specific instance comes along – the Senator John McGee case in Idaho earlier this year, for example – to give some weight to it.

What people should know is that cases like McGee’s are pretty unusual. And more now than once was the case.

Your scribe recalls, in the 70s and 80s, considerably higher levels of nighttime tippling than in the years since. At a peak back then, maybe a dozen legislators, probably fewer, might have been considered problem drinkers. That’s out of 105 total. I can recall no more than two or three under the influence while working at the Statehouse. A large portion of them, as now, didn’t drink at all. (There are as for many years a lot of Mormons in the Idaho Legislature, and over the years I’ve not seen many violate the rule against alcohol.) Legislative nightlife seems for whatever reason to have dulled down considerably over the last generation. Hang around the legislature any time in the last couple of decades and you’ll find it’s a pretty sober bunch, as least as regards chemical stimulants.

I’d make the argument that those harder partiers of years past tended to be better legislators as well (though whether alcohol had anything to do with it might be an open question).

Andrus apparently has gotten 13 or so legislators to go along with him. Since the number of teetotallers in the chambers is considerably higher than that, his numbers stand to grow a little more.

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Dec 28 2011

WA plans drop: The congressional

Published by under Washington

wa congressional

The deadline was New Year’s, and the Washington Redistricting Commission seems to have hit the end line just barely before it. Today (as was promised yesterday), they unveiled their new remaps for congressional and legislative districts.

A look at the congressional first.

This was complicated a bit by the need to add a tenth district, which meant a little more shifting of boundaries than usual, and inevitably some district in which none of the nine current U.S. House members reside. That district will be centered, as was most widely speculated, on the Olympia area.

At first blush, these look like five Democratic and four Republican districts

Let’s move from east to west as we consider what’s changed and what the implications may be.

District 5, which has been roughly the easternmost fourth of the state from Canada to Oregon, is smaller and is now more like the easternmost fifth – it loses Okanogan, Adams and southwestern Walla Walla (but not that city itself) to the 4th district. These are all very Republican areas, and should move the district a little closer to competitiveness. It will clearly remain Republican overall, however; incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris-Rodgers should have no trouble with it.

District 4, which has taken in the rural country north of Wenatchee south to the Oregon line, and including both the Tri-Cities and the Yakima area, gains Adams, Okanogan and the slice of Walla Walla, but loses Chelan (Wenatchee), Kittias (Ellensburg) and, facing the Columbia River to the south, Klickitat County. It becomes a more ungainly district, its population centered more directly on the two big urban centers with the substantial Okanogan population left far to the north. It should not change much as a partisan district; it has been very Republican, but the swaps are of Republican territory. Not much change there; and again, Republican Doc Hastings should be untroubled. Continue Reading »

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Dec 28 2011

Carlson: Two of service

Published by under Carlson,Idaho

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Two of Idaho’s finest non-elected public servants, Darrell V. Manning and Marty Peterson, retire soon with a combined 100 years of service to the state between them. Their nature is to slip quietly into retirement, but Idaho owes them a hearty “job well done.”

Their service exemplifies the best and brightest rising to the top in the Gem State. Their works provide them with the satisfaction of knowing they helped improve the lives of many who will never know how much they owe these fine public servants.

Every governor from Cecil Andrus to Butch Otter would heartily agree.

Manning is retiring as chair of the Idaho Transportation Board, but his resume reflects how indispensable governors have found him to be. It includes director of Idaho’s Aeronautics department, the first director of the reorganized Department of Transportation, adjutant and commanding general of the Idaho National Guard, chief of the Bureau of Disaster Services, administrator of the division of Financial Management, executive director of the Idaho Board of Education as well as a member of that board and a regent for the University of Idaho, acting director of Health and Welfare, and special assistant to several governors.

Peterson is retiring after 20 years as the special assistant to the president of the University of Idaho in charge of coordinating the university’s government affairs programs That he served seven different presidents over those years speaks to his ability to earn respect and achieve results for the state’s land grant university.

Peterson’s career includes serving on Senator Frank Church’s staff, as the executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, and stints as budget director for both Andrus and Governor John V. Evans. Andrus also tapped Peterson to be the planning and administrative director of Idaho’s highly successful Centennial Observance in 1990.

An avid Idaho history buff, Peterson maintains a summer home in historic Silver City, is a sought after speaker on Ernest Hemingway, serves on several boards including the Idaho Humanities Council, and like Manning, though a “business Democrat,” has adroitly served governors of both political parties.

Both cut their teeth on politics early: Manning, a graduate of Utah State, came right out of the Air Force in 1960 ran, and won a seat in Idaho’s House of Representatives from Bannock County at the age of 28. He became friends with a newly elected State Senator from Clearwater County, 29-year-old Cecil Andrus. After four terms in the House, Manning joined Andrus in the State Senate in 1968.

Besides working on Senator Church’s staff, Peterson, a native of Lewiston and a graduate of the University of Idaho, was a “loaned” campaign worker to the 1970 Andrus gubernatorial campaign.

Both Manning and Peterson have a reputation for probity. Both at one time ran the Division of Financial Management. Both have charming wives.

Few will recall though how close both came to meeting their Maker early in their careers.

In April of 1973, Darrell and Rochelle, Marty and Barbara, and Dr. Sam Taylor, from Nampa along with his wife, Jean, who was Governor Andrus’ appointment secretary, undertook the 36 mile backpacking trip through Hells Canyon from Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon Dam downstream to Pittsburg Landing where they would be picked up by a jet boat and taken the 76 remaining miles back to Lewiston.

Picking them up would be Eddie Williams, a former state legislator from Lewiston who was then Andrus’ chief of staff, along with Ed’s good friend, Jack Bowman.

Disaster struck in the Imnaha Rapids, the boat swamping with all eight being tossed into the incredibly cold waters of the high flowing Snake River. Swollen by the spring run-off, the river was fast, full of whirlpools and even with life jackets on, one could still be swept under the surface.

Years later Manning would recall the anxiety he and Rochelle experienced being swept under several times, caught in whirlpools they could not seem to get out of, and helplessly floating seven miles downstream to the river’s confluence with the Salmon before making land and safety.

As they were swept along Manning did note how the Taylor’s and Peterson’s managed to get out and upon several rocks at various spots in the middle of the stream. With night coming on hypothermia was an immediate concern but fortunately another boat came along able to pick up the survivors.

Unfortunately, neither Eddie nor Jack had life jackets and were last seen clinging to seat cushions as they too were swept away. Bowman’s body was recovered a few days later but the river never yielded Ed’s. Andrus, devastated by the tragedy, personally searched the river by helicopter.

Manning and Peterson still acknowledge how fortunate they were to survive. The state of Idaho has been the true beneficiary of their survival. Join me, please, in saying to them both “thank you for jobs well done.”

CHRIS CARLSON is a former journalist who served as press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andurs. He lives at Medimont.

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Dec 27 2011

Lonely at Christmas

Published by under Idaho

For the Idaho connection, take note of the Los Angeles Times article on the sole staffer manning the Mitt Romney headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, on Christmas Day: Jacob Fullmer, a native of Rexburg, son of a Sears franchise owner there.

Two points. One is that the stereotype is almost too obvious. Even if the article didn’t say so specifically, Fullmer’s background notes him as a fellow member of the LDS Church – in Iowa, rather than take an apartment, he’s staying with a member of the church. A question comes to mind: How much of the active Romney organization has church connections? There may be a church-related angle to the Romney story that speaks to matters other than theological.

The article was mainly about the Christmas loneliness of those stuck in Iowa in prep for the January 3 caucuses. Something it did not say, and would have been interesting to know: How many staffers, compared to Romney’s one, were on hand at campaign headquarters for Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and the others? Might have been a useful indicator to know.

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Dec 23 2011

Tis the season for Washington politics

Published by under Washington

You’ll be humming those familiar tunes (that you can’t get away from anyway this time of year) in no time, with an added bonus.

Just click on over to Peter Callaghan’s latest at the Tacoma News Tribune.

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Dec 22 2011

Another rate case, another enrollment drop

Published by under Oregon

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, which only five months ago (on July 19) was granted by Oregon regulators a 12.8% increase, today filed for a 4.5% average premium increase, effective in April. It’s an adjustment of the rate increase already granted earlier this year, a change Regence said actually amounts to a 2.2% reduction from the earlier-granted increase (because of lower than estimated usage of medical services). Despite that, for some ratepayers, the increase could amount to as much as 8.5%. (Some may see a decrease in payments.) A hearing is planned for January 5.

The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which has been acting as the consumer advocate in recent health insurance cases in Oregon, noted that the new case affects 47,806 Oregon workers with small-employer-sponsored coverage. Then notes: “Regence appears to have lost over 11% enrollment in its small business plans since the insurer’s last filing in March of 2011, when it reported enrollment of 54,299.”

Between 2007 and the summer of 2011, Regence enrollment, in a period of ongoing rate increases, fell by 40%.

How many more rate increases will it take to knock Regence down to 30,000 insurance, to 20,000, to 10,000? As the risk pool gets ever smaller, the rates will shoot ever higher. Where is this going to leave us all a few more years down the line? What will it take to fix a system so obviously broken?

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Dec 21 2011

Preventable error

Published by under Washington

And sometimes it really is just the one more straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn seemed to be hanging in there with the Seattle Police Department after the highly critical report by the Department of Justice, which said the department has had a bad practice of using excessive force. In the early part of this week, he seemed to be taking their side fairly consistently.

As of today, no more: He has specifically ordered Chief John Diaz to execute the recommendations in the DOJ report. The tone, certainly, has changed. Maybe the policy too.

What happened is something only McGinn can say specifically. Speculation here is that it may have something to do with this:

Acknowledgement by a police spokesman that the police department (on Diaz’ orders) paid a laws firm $12,000 to find out who leaked information about (the Seattle Times reported) “the department’s internal investigation of an incident in which Officer Shandy Cobane threatened to beat the ‘Mexican piss’ out of a prone Latino man.”

Apparently the police department wasn’t able to conduct its own investigation.

For $12,000. Just wait for the Facebook items to detail what else $12,000 could have bought in these tight economic times.

It’s enough to generate a little irritation in a mayor’s office.

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Dec 21 2011

Carlson: Reflections behind and ahead

Published by under Carlson

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

As 2011 closes, some disparate items of passing interest:

Best apocryphal item. Heard that a prominent businessman had bumped into Jesse Jackson early one morning just after breakfast in a downtown Chicago hotel earlier this year. He asked Jesse what he was doing up so early? Jesse replied he’d just come from a private breakfast with the next president of the United States——Mitt Romney! Given Chicago politics, and Jackson’s personal pique at not getting his due for paving the way for Barack Obama, it’s plausible.

Best GOP challenger to the President. Hands down it is former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. Fiscal conservative with compassion who knows there is a proper role for government in people’s lives and the only one who understands the growing threat of Chinese plans to dominate the world by 2050. Unfortunately doesn’t stand a chance of being nominated. The process is driven by the extreme right of his party—folks more concerned about ideological purity than having a moderate win because of an ability to attract the independents. Only plausible scenario for Huntsman is to wait. If Ron Paul forms a third party independent candidacy, Huntsman should follow suit. He could win a four-man race.

Best GOP challenger from the D standpoint. Hands down, Newt Gingrich. Most women voters hate him. If they know one thing they know he went to the hospital bed of his dying, cancer-stricken first wife to tell her he was divorcing her. “You can’t win a horserace with a dog.”

Best small college in the nation you’ve never heard of. Helena’s Carroll College, and not just because of its incredible string of NAIA national football championships. This small, diocesan-owned college continues to produce outstanding graduates with well-formed character, values and a solid work ethic along with creative minds capable of adapting to the changing economy in a dynamic world. Only the NCAA bias against NAIA schools has kept Carroll football coach Mike van Diest from taking his winning ways to a larger school where his formula would work its magic as well.

Institution most likely headed for a major fall. The aforementioned NCAA. Too many inconsistencies exist for it to last. The joke that is the BCS system is going to be changed to a play-off either by congressional or judicial mandate. The NCAA’s ability to maintain the fiction of scholar-athletes is going to be exploded and the rights of collegiate athletes to profit from the use of their name and image will be upheld by the courts. Collegiate athletes will be paid above the table in a market-driven manner. Schools in major media markets will be the winners and those in minor markets will be the losers.

Saddest commentary on American life. Most people will care more about all that meaningless sports stuff than the harder to grasp more life-threatening social and political issues swirling about them. A perfect storm is converging on a frightened body politic that takes refuge in the opiate of sports because it is at a loss to understand the complex forces driving change. Nor does it grasp the significance of greed and selfishness at play in an ever-increasing survival of the fittest Darwinian world. Rather than try to understand those forces too many take refuge in simplistic political bromides that only exacerbate issues and rarely deliver solutions.

Political predictions for Idaho in 2012:

1) Governor Butch Otter quits “mailing it in.” Citing health reasons, he resigns, which passes the governorship to Lt. Gov. Brad Little. Continue Reading »

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Dec 19 2011

The roadkill caucus and 2012

Published by under Washington

If the Washington state special session that just ended seemed to have ended with a whimper, and little major action, there’s a reason … that’s pretty much what happened. As the highly popular saying goes, they “kicked the can down the road.” To January, when they come back to town for a regular session.

(Might some of the Republicans calling for no regular session next year have had a point: That an inability to kick the can might have forced more action this year?)

Well. The new pressure seems to be coming from the conservative side of the Democratic side – the “roadkill caucus.”

Recommended reading: A preview what the “roadkill caucus” may be up to in January, from Austin Jenkins of public radio.

“They call themselves the “Roadkill Caucus” because they’ve often felt run over by the left and the right. Now they’re standing up,” Jenkins reports. Their proposals: “Repeal two popular, but expense voter initiatives to reduce class size and increase teacher pay. Require state employees to pay more for their health care. Suspend the “1/2 of 1 percent for arts” program. Then there’s the proposal to appoint an outside commission to recommend ways to shrink the footprint of state government. Senator Brian Hatfield, another “Roadkill Caucus” member, suggests putting that proposal on the ballot along with a tax hike.”

Watch this closely.

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Dec 18 2011

A mining death

Published by under Idaho

Didn’t seem to be a lot in the Idaho press about a mining death from last April. A federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inquiry into it wrapped up this week. Here’s some of what it had to say.

On April 15, 2011, Larry Marek, miner, age 53, was killed while watering down a muck pile in a stope. A rock fall approximately 90 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet high struck him.

The accident occurred because management did not have policies and procedures that provided for the safe mining of split stopes in a multi-vein deposit. Management failed to design, install, and maintain a support system to control the ground in places where miners worked and traveled. Additionally, management failed to ensure that appropriate supervisors or other designated persons examined or tested the ground conditions where the fall occurred.

The Lucky Friday Mine, a multi-level, underground silver mine, owned and operated by Hecla Limited, is located in the Coeur d’Alene mining district approximately one mile east of Mullan, Shoshone County, Idaho. The principal operating officials are Phil Baker, CEO; John Jordan, Vice-President; and Scott Hogamier, Safety Coordinator. The mine normally operates two 12-hour shifts per day, six days a week. Total employment is 270 persons.

Silver, lead, and zinc bearing ore is drilled and blasted in open stopes. Broken material is transported from the stopes with diesel powered load-haul-dump units and underground haulage trucks to ore chutes, and then hoisted to the surface for crushing and beneficiation. Concentrates are sold to an off-site smelter for final processing.

The last regular inspection at this mine was completed on March 3, 2011. …

The accident occurred because management did not have policies and procedures that provided for the safe mining of split stapes in a multi-vein deposit. Management failed to design, install, and maintain a support system to control the ground in places where miners worked and traveled. Additionally, management failed to ensure that appropriate supervisors or other designated persons examined or tested the ground conditions where the fall occurred.

Worth remembering the next time you hear about job-killing regulation. Sometimes the lack of regulation can be killing, period.

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Dec 16 2011

Polling favors Bonamici, 52-41

Published by under Oregon

That’s the top line in today’s Public Policy Polling survey. But there’s more of interest by way of establishing the context.

The favorables of the two candidates are distinctive, Democrat Suzanne Bonamici at 56-30 (favorable-unfavorable) and Republican Rob Cornilles at 44-42. Cornilles has run districtwide before and has gotten more negative headlines over time than Bonamici has. No great shock.

If we’ve been remarking here that Oregon 1 is a Democratic district, this poll shows it in item after item, and that’s probably the crucial factor. Asked “Would you prefer that the new representative from your district caucused with the Democrats or the Republicans in Congress?,” the respondents went with Democrats 50-39 – almost smack on to the top line results.

On President Obama, the favorables were soft at 49-46. The respondents still preferred him over Newt Gingrich 55-37, and over Mitt Romney 53-40. A Democratic district.

There was also this, though: “Would you support or oppose repealing Measure 36, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman?” This district, which surely is more Democratic and liberal than most of Oregon, opposed repeal 43-42. The forces pushing for repeal still obviously have some work to do.

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Dec 15 2011

Otter again? We’re dubious too

Published by under Idaho

Butch Otter

Apparently, this latest sort of dustup started with this short item yesterday in the Coeur d’Alene Press, a second-hand report which hasn’t much been expanded upon by official sources:

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced to a Governor’s Ball crowd of about 200 Wednesday night in Coeur d’Alene that he’ll seek re-election in 2014, The Press has learned.
Sources told The Press that Otter twice confirmed to the audience that he will be on the 2014 ballot for governor.

By this morning, the talk was all over: Was the 2014 governor’s race now just a pro forma, with C.L. “Butch” Otter automatically the gov for another seven years? No Brad Little, no Raul Labrador, no Tom Luna? (None of whom, surely, would primary Otter.)

Start with this: While serious won’t-run announcements occasionally are made as early as this (Cecil Andrus and Dirk Kempthorne both made them), serious will-run announcements almost never are. Even the won’t-runs aren’t typical, because it time-stamps the end of your clout. But will-runs, while they may be sort of presumptive (especially in the case of first terms), are a different matter. Few are willing to commit that far into the future, for good reason. Things can change, and often do.

In Otter’s case, one of those things simply could be age. When his current term is up, he’ll be 72; at the end of a term after that, 76. And they could be achievement: It’s not at all clear what Otter intends to achieve in this term that he didn’t in his last. What would be his fresh agenda for a third?

The Idaho Statesman‘s Dan Popkey has three other convincing and plausible reasons not to accept a will-run announcement at this point: He needs to project strength going into a tough 2012 legislative session; his campaign treasury is deeply in debt (to the tune of around $200,000), and a possible future campaign could help him with fundraising; and he may want to push back against critiques (like the one here in a recent Chris Carlson column) that he’s been “phoning it in” as a part-time, detached governor.

2014 is a long way off. Foreclose no options just yet.

UPDATE Two additional thoughts, both from credible sources, pointing in two different directions. Or maybe they mesh together, though both point to a retirement scenario.

One: Otter was caught off-guard and didn’t want to look weak in front of a supportive crowd.

Two: “Which is that Otter has announced to keep Luna, Wasden, and Labrador from being able to start fundraising… The lobbyists all know that Otter isn’t going to run again and that Little is the man afterwards.”
Otter is just buying Little more time to get his house in order

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Dec 14 2011

Carlson: You have the right

Published by under Carlson

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Most folks are familiar with the phrase: “You have the right to remain silent.” It is the beginning of the Miranda Warning, and is derived from a person a Federal judge ordered released because the arresting police did not inform him of his right.

He walked because he talked, incriminating himself, so his conviction was overturned. In the process this criminal became almost immortal.

Another figure of speech is “public figure.” How this is defined and who determines who is one has become a vexing issue especially in terms of the relationship between media and the public.

Do we really have a right to remain silent? In the legal sense one does appear to have a right to protection from self-incriminating statements. However, in a p.r./press sense it appears NOT to be the reality.

Think about the few professional athletes who have tried to protect privacy in their lives. To a person, they are crucified by a media which deems them public figures because of their exploits on a court, or a football field or a baseball diamond. Woe to the athlete who naively thinks what he does on the field speaks for itself. It makes no difference if he or she is shy and modest or hasn’t ever spoken to the media.

Somehow, if they don’t respond to some insensitive reporter’s inane questions they instantly become arrogant, aloof jerks who don’t understand the media has a job to do and the star has an obligation to satisfy the insatiable urge of fans to know everything about them, from the color of their underwear to what they eat for breakfast. They are, after all, public figures. But are they? Just what does it take to be deemed a public figure? Continue Reading »

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Dec 14 2011

Dennis Griffin at the State Board

Published by under books

Dennis Griffin, our newest author – of From Scratch: Inside the Lightning Launch of the College of Western Idaho – delivered a presentation to the Idaho State Board of Education on December 8, during the “open forum” portion of the meeting. He was there to discuss the publication of his new book, which he had talked about writing even while the development of the college was underway.

Here are some of his notes from the meeting:

I introduced myself as the founding president and served between Aug. 2007 – Aug. 2009 (several people are still on the board who where there then). I explained that when we went through it all, I kept saying “I really should write a book when this is over, nobody would believe us about all the balls we have in the air.”

When I retired, several reminded me of saying that. So for the past two years, I have been working on the project, and now it’s complete. Continue Reading »

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Dec 13 2011

1st at Mac

Published by under Oregon

Rob Cornilles at McMinnville/Randy Stapilus

It wasn’t a debate exactly – maybe something like an abbreviated Lincoln/Douglas, since Republican Rob Cornilles and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici each got an extended period, in sequence, to pitch themselves, and did not engage each other. But for those (such as us) who’ve seen them before individually, but not giving stump speeches, it was useful.

A few observations. (First, a disclaimer: The event was organized by the MacMinnville Chamber of Commerce and the McMinnville City Club, of both of which we are members.)

Cornilles is a gifted public speaker. The Oregonian article today outlining his business, which noted that at times he could speak for hours on end and still keep an audience attentive and interested, seems not far off. Though he spoke long enough at this event to put that to the test; his stump speech was longish, felt that way, and was about twice as long as Bonamici’s.

It was well organized, though, and simple. The rationale for his candidacy was based simply around creating jobs and his business experience. His plan was geared to three bullet points: Simplifying and making more predictable the federal tax code, encouraging foreign trade as long as it’s fair, and balancing the federal budget. His speech didn’t range far from those subjects. It did not have an especially partisan ring to it, and he even acknowledged some concerns from the left about trade and “mega-corporations” (his word, and one not often heard from Republican candidates).

He believes, he said, in solving problems rather than “pointing fingers.” Seconds later, though, he said this: “We’ve been electing lawyers turned politicians for years now. How do you like the results?” Bonamici, not coincidentally, is an attorney.

He also fired off in passing several other shots at the opposition, accusing her (implicitly) of being a lockstep partisan (using the 98% voting record stat) and suggesting that the million dollars national Democrats are reportedly putting into the race will go to negative TV spots (and “Let’s send the message that we’re tired of more of the same”).

Suzanne Bonamici at McMinnville/Randy Stapilus

Bonamici isn’t as polished, but she’s a tougher and crisper speaker than when the race began, and she outlined her economic approach at least as efficiently (emphasizing provision of capital for small businesses and infrastructure development, as well as trade). She brought up (in effect) the abortion issues which Cornilles hadn’t, contrasting her pro-choice views with his pro-life position. (That’s a rough shorthanding on a subject surely not done yet.)

She also responded effectively to Cornilles’ shots. She said a study of her legislative voting showed that she votes with Republicans about as much as with Democrats, since so much of legislative activity is necessarily bipartisan. And she got a useful question on the lawyer-as-politician idea from Yamhill Commissioner Mary Stern, who also happens to be an attorney. Bonamici said that her experience as a legislator and attorney is helpful in getting the work done, and she didn’t know any other line of work “where experience is a bad thing.”

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Dec 12 2011

$1 mill in the 1st – on just one side?

Published by under Oregon

The National Journal is reporting that national Democratic organizations are preparing to unload $1 million, basically for television time, in the special election in the Oregon 1st district that wraps up on January 31.

The Journal compared the buy to a massive Republican buy for an open House seat in Nevada a few months ago.

“The NRCC’s gamble paid off in the Reno district that only voted for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008 by 89 votes – Republican Mark Amodei won by a 22 point margin. While the Portland seat is far safer for Democrats – President Obama took this district with 61 percent of the vote – if you can take one thing away from this volatile climate, it’s that no one is safe. On the heels of their embarrassment in Weiner’s seat, and especially as the presidential race is amping up next year and Democrats are trying to make a case to donors that they can win back the House, a loss in Oregon would a fatal blow,” the report said.

A win by Republican Rob Cornilles over Democrat Suzanne Bonamici probably would be tough. That’s said with no polling having yet surfaced (interesting) and with weeks to go before the ballots hit.

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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.


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.