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Posts published in April 2012

The King legacy

Practically all of the people who buy and read the new memoir by Carole King, A Natural Woman, will be coming to it from the musical point of view - rightly so, considering her mass success as a songwriter and singer. But Idahoans will be looking for other material, because she has also been a public figure in Idaho, sometimes a controversial one.

The column today by Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman highlighted some of that. King, tiring of the urban life in New York, went to the far extreme and moved to backcountry Idaho, most prominently to the Robinson Bar area near Stanley. That this didn't go over so well in some of those areas says a lot about Idaho: People in the state want growth and immigration (from other states), and they like money. But something in the cultures clashed. In asserting claims and rights that many other Idaho landowners drew, she attracted criticism the likes of which many of them never see.

The Barker review is a good introduction to some of this.

The Lane County tug

If you're among those who think of Oregon's Lane County, seat Eugene, as a liberal bastion, take a look at today's Register Guard piece on the county commission race between incumbent Rob Handy and challenger Pat Farr.

The contest is technically non-partisan, but you wouldn't be far off describing Handy as the functional Democrat in the race, and Farr, a Eugene City Council member, as the functional Republican. There's also a third candidate in the race, but it will surely boil down to Handy and Farr; both have strong cadres of supporters, from the usual suspects. This is not one of the rural-based districts, either: This hot contest is in the north side of Eugene, which is more politically marginal than many people would expect.

And the five-member board is marginal too. It had an effective conservative majority after the 2006 election, then a liberal majority after 2008, then conservative again after 2010. So what will come of it this year? We'll be watching.

In the Briefings this week

Oxbow
The Broadway Bridge in Boise under the microscope. (Photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger said he will resign this summer to take over as president of Reed College. Governor Gregoire signed off on the state's supplemental budget, ending the last substantial legislative activity for the year. Oregon's secretary of state imposed a stiff fine on an initiative organizer. In Idaho, capitol mall demonstration rules were released by the state Department of Administration.

Personal income has taken a jump in Idaho. Hanford site operators are planning a major contract extension. Portland released an analysis of its economic development by detailed regions. Whooping cought cases in Washington are running well past 1,000. About 144 state liquor stores were sold, apart from the many more that were auctioned off, netting the state around $30 million.

Washington is bearing down on worker compensation fraud, and in Idaho the EPA is going after a dairy in Jerome. A major water diversion effort, backed by Representative Mike Simpson, is making its way through Congress. Oregon is looking for comments on management of parts of its state forest system.

Much more in the Briefings. Contact us for more.

The Idaho Political Field Guide

The Idaho Political Field Guide, the counterpart to the Oregon PFG and the successor to the Idaho Political Almanac series, is out!

It's been 10 years since Ridenbaugh Press published the last book in the series. This new one covers elections of the last decade, and the effects of reapportionment as well.

Several events are upcoming. Check back.

Carlson: Cry, Beloved Idaho

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Occasionally politics gives rise to an all-encompassing phrase that means more than the words themselves. During the mid-1950’s Senate hearings on the excesses of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting rhetoric the committee counsel asked a memorable question: “Have you no decency, Senator?

It was and remains a classic rhetorical question, one which answers itself.

In the wake of a recent report people who care about this state and its future should be asking Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter the same question. More pointedly, they should be asking the governor, as well as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, whether each honestly believes he is upholding their oath of office.

For those that do care about Idaho’s future - its children and their education, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear a convincing case can be made both could be charged with “dereliction of duty” and violation of their oaths.

Idaho’s Constitution is unequivocally clear that the primary duty of the state is to maintain a uniform and thorough system of public and free schools. No less an authority than the state’s former chief economist, Mike Ferguson, who ably served five Idaho governors and has an impeccable reputation for objectivity and honesty, has through the center he operates (The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy) issued a report that says the state is not fulfilling its constitutional mandate.

Dear Governor and State Superintendent, answer these questions honestly and preface each with an “Are you proud. . . .”: (more…)

Whither the Tea Party

Where heads the Tea Party, as this new election year kicks into gear?

Ridenbaugh blogger Barrett Rainey has some thoughts on that after seeing some activists in action at his town of Roseburg.

His conclusion: "(Dis)organized into many small groups, the T-P’ers don’t have the “fire in the belly” they did 24 months back. And a lot of other folk, who either shared some of their anger or weren’t paying much attention, are taking more notice of what’s been happening. Or, as in the case of congress, what’s not been happening. And why. And who. Or whom."

In the briefings this week

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Candidates Gone Wold. On stage.

Portland held its regular Candidates Gone Wild event - featuring Portland-area candidates - at the Bagdad Theatre.

A travel ruling affecting the Clearwater National Forest was upheld at the regional level; but another ruling, about the Whitman-Wallowa National Forest, was put on hold internally. In Washington, jobs are up but the unemployment rate remains flat. In Idaho, the jobless rate fell below 8%. Mountain Home Air Force Base formally installed a new commander.

Chicken pox cases were found at the Oregon state pen. The Washington state health agency is planning to expand its involvement with Medicaid activities. The last round of legislation from the 2012 Idaho legislative session was signed into law. Washington state government found a string of ways to reduce its ink pen purchases, cut its choices for printing paper building and reduced toner and ink cartridge buys by more than three-fourths.

The congressional delegation from the Spokane area issued a statement in favor of the North Corridor project. The Oregonian endorsed candidates in primary contests in all five Oregon U.S. House districts. Washington released its mid-month regulatory proposals. Idaho was slated to receive more than $20 million from settlements in drug legal cases. Congressional campaign contributions were reported (and results show up in this week's Briefings).

Much more in the Briefings. Contact us for more.

New book: The Oregon Political Field Guide

OR political field guide

Today's release day for our newest book: The Oregon Political Field Guide.

We have a lot more information about it on a separate page. But a here's a little more.

First, you can order it through Paypal via this button here.





Second, it's one of a series. The Idaho counterpart (the Idaho Political Field Guide) will be coming shortly. The Washington book is under construction and will be released a little later.

Third: What is the Field Guide? And why do we call it that?

These books are relatives of the Idaho Political Almanac series Ridenbaugh Press published in the 90s (about, obviously, Idaho). They cover some of the same territory, but not exactly the same. The Political Almanacs contained more background about office holders and sometimes candidates, and their stands on issues, performance in office, and so on. The Field Guides are a little different: They're about campaigns and elections, with heavy focus on the voters - how the voters voted. This edition of the book (there may be more to come, later on) covers in some detail the last decade of elections. That allows you to see how various districts, counties and other areas elected people over time; how the percentages rose and fell, how the numbers of raw votes changed. It's intended to be a useful tool for political analysis down to a fine level.

If politics in Oregon is your thing, then the Field Guide needs to be at hand.

A quick word about the Oregon Blue Book, and how this relates to that.

We're enthusiastic fans of the Blue Book, a terrific and gorgeously general reference about Oregon, now celebrating its centennial. (A collection of 17 of the most recent sits prominently near where this is written.) It includes some information about elections, but not in great detail. And as a state publication, it probably shouldn't include a lot more than it currently does. The Field Guide is designed to fill the gap: To present elections and other information in a way that's non-partisan but also explanatory and analytical in a way that might be problematic for a state-backed book.

You can find out more at the book's main web page; a clutch of sample pages also is available. And stop by (and "like," if you would) the Oregon Political Field Guide page at Facebook.

The ever-scrambling WA 1 (on the D side)

Floyd McKay has in Crosscut a detailed look at the emerging - and it does continue to emerge - race in the new Washington 1st district, the part of northwestern Washington located roughly well east of I-5 and west of the Cascades.

He focuses on two key points (well, three if you could the lunacy of a prospective Dennis Kucinich campaign in the 1st).

One is that Republican John Koster, who came within a sliver in 2010 of ousting Democratic Representative Rick Larsen, has the Republican nomination sewn up and will be strong in the general election. He has lots of pluses, starting with having run strongly in much of this territory before, and strong organization and traditionally strong fundraising. We'd give him about even odds in the general right now.

The second is that the Democratic side is far from settled, and not yet even at the point where a front-runner can be easily discerned. The five Democratic contenders are all serious candidates with real advantages. Three (Suzan DelBene, Darcy Burner and Laura Ruderman) all have strong Microsoft backgrounds and have raised comparable amounts of money (some of it from that source), and all three have run for major office before (DelBene and Burner for the U.S. House, in the 8th district, and Ruderman for secretary of state, as well as election three times to the state House from King County's east side). DelBene got a vice of confidence in an endorsement from Governor Chris Gregoire, but none so far look to be pulling far out ahead. And the two men in the race, businessman Darshan Rauniyar and legislator Steve Hobbs, are also running highly serious campaigns. This one has yet to be won by anybody.

One of the most interesting contests in the Northwest this year.

Carlson: First test

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

The real test of a president is how well they make difficult decisions. Wisdom, insight, perspective, a sense of political necessity and public acceptability, are all critical factors.

The first insight one gets into the mind of the person seeking public endorsement for their pursuit of the highest office in the land is their choice of a running mate.

The simple fact is all too often the vice president has ascended to the presidency upon the death of the president. Sometimes the nation has benefitted as the vice president turns out to be surprisingly competent at holding and exercising judiciously the powers of the Office of the President.

For example, in the 20th century most presidential historians agree that Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson all turned in credible performances when called to center stage by the death of a president. Candidly, though, all four of those selections were based upon what were deemed at the time to be over-riding political concerns.

President William McKinley’s political mentor, Ohio Senator Mark Hanna, thought he and other GOP party bosses were putting the overly “progressive” Teddy out to pasture and out of the public mind. Imagine their shock when the young, ambitious, vain but brilliant Teddy inherited the Presidency upon the death of McKinley?

Twenty-two years later, “Silent Cal” became president upon the death of Warren G. Harding. The former governor of Massachusetts was considered by these same historians to have been a considerable improvement over the man he succeeded.

Truman of course surprised many by his ability to rise to the demands of the job. And LBJ, at last having reached his long-time goal, ushered through the Congress his “Great Society” legislation including the truly historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Each of these men won the office in their own right in the subsequent election.

Contrast those four with the four who succeeded to the presidency in the 19th century none of whom went on to be elected. Three of the four are viewed by presidential historians as “weak leaders,” the exception being John Tyler who set the correct precedents for a veep to succeed to and be able to exercise all the powers of the presidency. (more…)