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Posts published in “Day: October 30, 2012”

The yagottabekiddin clause

Last weekend I wrote in a column that the financial terms of the computer deal between the state of Idaho and HP sounded, on a per-computer basis, not so terrible.

I take it back. The terms do turn out to be terrible. Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review read through the terms of the agreement, and she found this:

The company will retain title to the computers, and the state, which will just be renting them, will be liable for all risk of loss, including damage or theft. The contract, in Attachment 1 on Page 5, says, “Lessee,” which in this case is the state, “shall bear the entire risk of loss with respect to any asset damage, destruction, loss, theft, or governmental taking, whether partial or complete.” If a laptop is damaged, the state must have it repaired at state expense - within 60 days. If one is lost or stolen, the state would have to pay H-P for it.

I'd had the impression - and probably most Idahoans had - that the contract would include repair, coverage and maintenance on the part of the contractor, who is after all getting paid approaching $200 million. But no. A second-grader drops the computer on the way home from school, Idaho taxpayers pay. A fourth-grader downloads a virus that corrupts the bios, and maybe spreads it to classmates, Idaho taxpayers pay.

Tens of thousands of computers. Liability: Seemingly unlimited. Unbelievable.

Not necessarily so awful

Jack Bog's role is that of the cynic - he doesn't vary from it a lot - so his take on the new Oregonian poll, showing Charles Hales easily defeating Jefferson Smith in the Portland mayoral, meaning the strong probability of a Hales mayoralty, is par.

Of course, he doesn't frame it as a strong likelihood but as a done deal, which it isn't till the votes are counted. But it is a strong likelihood, and we didn't even need the O poll to know it. Hales has had some missteps this year, but Smith's crash and burn goes up on the top 10 list of Northwest political spectacle C&Bs in the last decade.

Jack's brief on Hales: "Portland's biggest problem these days is that its basic government services have been crippled by runaway bureaucracy, unfunded pensions, and City Hall subsidization of bad real estate development. Hales was an eager participant on all three fronts during the reign of Mother Vera, and despite whatever platitudes he's mouthing during the campaign, he is going to continue all of those unfavorable trends, with gusto in fact."

There's likely a good deal of truth in that, at least as regards Hales' back history. But as in any state, or state or country for that matter, problems and decisions come not in ones or two but en masse, which is why voters are best off trying to understand a candidate's thinking process - you never know what they might have to confront down the road.

And the new dynamic of a revised city council, which will among others include the balloon-puncturing Steve Novick. There is the potential, at least, for some freshness coming from that quarter.

Mayors can surprise you when they get into office. Hales might yet have a surprise or two in him.