Writings and observations

On Wednesday (August 15), the Idaho Board of Education went into an executive session, as it is allowed to do to discuss certain specific things permitted under Idaho law. The default for public meetings is open doors.

The general subject was fairly well known, and of statewide interest, especially to football fans. The University of Idaho was planning to realign its athletics participation in intercollegiate organizations. The details get complex, but the Idaho Statesman summarized, “Idaho plans to play as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent and join the Big Sky Conference in other sports.” None of that has been especially secret; shift alternatives have been discussed for a while now.

So the question – why did the Board of Education feel the need, or justify, a closed executive session?

A correspondent (hat tip here) notes the language on the board’s agenda papers:

EXECUTIVE SESSION (Closed to the Public)

University of Idaho
“2. I move to go into Executive Session pursuant to Idaho Code §67-2345(1)(d) and (e) – “To consider records that are exempt from disclosure as provided in chapter 3, title 9, Idaho Code; … and to consider preliminary negotiations involving matters of trade or commerce in which the governing body is in competition with governing bodies in other states or nations” [emphases added]

So that’s what our public institutions are explicitly doing: Athletics are trade or commerce, in competition with other states.

Okay. Just wanted to be clear about that.

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The excellent New York Times Five Thirty-Eight blog (there’s hardly any more fun reading for those into presidential political statistics) has a piece out on Oregon, taking a look at its presidential voting proclivities. And coming up with an interesting idea:

“Mr. Obama’s 16-percentage-point margin of victory in Oregon in 2008 was very much out of character for the state. It was the largest win there by a presidential candidate in more than four decades. In 2004, Senator John Kerry won Oregon by four percentage points. In 2000, Al Gore eked out a win there by less than 7,000 votes. Oregon’s electoral trajectory is actually very similar to the arc Wisconsin has followed. The two states both sit right on the cusp of competitive and safely Democratic states.”

That feels about right. The Obama 2008 numbers were unusual. And the Democratic lead in voter registration, massive in 2008, has retreated a bit since.

The idea isn’t that Republican Mitt Romney has a substantial chance of winning Oregon. (He hasn’t been contesting it, and neither has Barack Obama.) But the gap between the two, in a state where the legislature is almost perfectly split between the parties and the governor had an extremely tight contest in 2010, is apt to be smaller this time.

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Oregon