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Posts published in November 2012

Oregon, the commercial landlord

I'll be writing more about this topic come the weekend, but an interesting tidbit emerged in research and it seemed worth sharing now.

In Idaho, there's been some discussion and debate (and criticism, in places) of a relatively new state lands management effort that involves owning and managing, for profit, commercial property, such as storage buildings, apart from traditional endowment lands.

Oregon, it turns out, is doing something similar. A spokesman at the Oregon Department of State Lands had this to say today:

The answer is yes. In the past two and a half years, DSL has acquired two commercial properties and is actively seeking more. The first, acquired in 2010 from another state agency, is a former state motor pool in Eugene. It includes a parking lot with 135 spaces, and a couple of warehouse type buildings totaling about 7,000 s.f. The property is leased to a retailer in downtown Eugene which uses it primarily for free customer parking and paid employee parking, and storage. We anticipate future redevelopment of the property.

Earlier this year DSL acquired a 2 ½ year old light industrial property in Hillsboro outside of Portland, that is fully leased to four companies. We continue to seek revenue producing properties to increase our investment returns. To finance the acquisition, we are selling low or non-revenue producing properties. Our full strategy is outlined in the Real Estate Asset Management Plan adopted by the State Land Board in February 2012.

No immediate specific conclusion here whether this is right or wrong, but it seems worthy of discussion. - Randy Stapilus

ALSO: The department sent along an update via email, noting "we also own our headquarters building in Salem (built in 1991 I believe), and rent the second and third floors to other state-agency tenants."

Their dissolution is hard to watch

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances;”

Why Willie Shakespeare put “exits” before “entrances” has always been a mystery. Had I been writing “As You Like It,” I’d have put them in reverse order – the way they really work. Well, so be it.

The need of some people to “exit” from the overwrought, noxious media stage and my life has been on my mind lately. An already limited patience is at an end when I hear certain names. I’ve even compiled a list – in no specific order – and herewith post it for those interested to see if they’re on it.

One name is “Kardashian” or any kinship thereto. The term “reality” has been attached to their grotesque lives. There’s nothing remotely real about any of ‘em – including the many silicone enhancements.
Speaking of “reality,” all those TV programs masquerading as such – which get no play at our house – made the list. All. They exist because they’re cheaper to produce than most other shows. Also, they require no talent to be on them – just strong stomachs and a has-been career in something else.

Keeping to false “reality, Bieber, Sheen Jr., Lohan, Jolie, Spears, Gervais, Beck, Limbaugh, are on the list. And Bachman, Gohmert, Gingrich, Santorum, Brewer, Walsh, West, Smith (2), Scott, Paul (2), Akin and the entire legislatures of states trying to discriminate against minority American voters. And, of course, for local Oregon consumption – Robinson. Time is long-past for them to “exit stage very far right” given the paucity of their contributions.

A special engraved “get outta my life” invitation goes to Trump – he of the squirrel-like hairpiece. We’re talking “unreality” here. Whatever credibility he has left is not measurable by any device known to man.

Then there’s John McCain and hand puppets Graham and Ayotte. While Graham has suffered previous humiliations of intellectual over-reach as a senator and McCain sycophant, Ayotte is new to the mix. Voters in New Hampshire got her out of the state by sending her to Washington. She’d do less harm there. Idaho did that with George Hansen and Steve Symms years ago. But I digress.

Why Ayotte has hitched her little freshman political wagon to the other two elephants is beyond me. Both McCain and Graham are existing on previous contributory credits and those credits are wearing thin.

It’s not hard to fault Graham – with his mediocre career – for looking like a fool recently. Allowing McCain’s hand up his back, he’s done things and said things at the senior senator’s behest- apparently without much thought to what he was doing – for several years. They’ve gotten so good together you can hardly see McCain’s lips moving when Graham is “talking.”

John McCain, however, is a whole other matter. His pre-political career was of such strength-of-steel stuff as to make him a legend while still in the Navy. Between what’s been documented and what’s been told by others who shared his Viet Nam P-O-W experiences, McCain showed the stuff of real courage. There is surely no doubt. Aside from military recognition, he’s earned many, many public accolades. Entirely justified. All of ‘em. (more…)

Governor: Time to build a Legacy

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Dear Governor Otter:

Allow this former bit role player on the Idaho political scene to make some suggestions to one of the major players for the past 40 years, as to how you can secure a legacy and bequeath to your fellow citizens one worth remembering.

Leaving a legacy is challenging and frankly most governors are really just caretakers. You have a congressional legacy of sorts. Many will always admire the manner in which you courageously stood almost alone against the excesses of the Patriot Act and its clear threat to many of our precious personal freedoms. Your stand is deserving of a chapter in any new publication of Profiles in Courage.

In looking at your record for the last six years I see nothing extraordinary. You’ll point to a reduction in the growth of government and ignore the reduction in support for public education that has taken place on your watch. You’ll point to the growth in business and your trade missions generating more business, but that’s expected of a governor. It’s not a legacy.

Here are four suggestions that would secure a legacy:

#1. Don’t back down on nuclear waste removal deadlines. Impose the fines contained in the Batt agreement and other follow up memorandums for the failure of INL to meet the year-end clean-up date for beginning to remove the liquefied waste from the site and continue the stance of not accepting any more waste above and beyond the limited amounts already agreed upon.

You are being asked to grant a waiver, but don’t do it. What good is accomplished by ignoring a reasonable timeframe every one at the table agreed upon and then letting it slip, and slip again, and slip again ad infinitum? Don’t be intimidated by those who say such a stance will mean less work for INL. The fact is with budget cuts coming regardless, there’s going to be less funding for INL period. Your responsibility is to see that Idaho’s aquifer is protected and that the waste is safely removed, all the waste, from above the aquifer by 2035, whether the federal government has steamrolled a renewed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada through or not.

You are dangerously close to letting Idaho become the de facto interim storage site for all nuclear wastes unless you take a firm stand and that includes not waiving deadlines or fines.

#2. Clean up the mess at the privately run prison south of Boise. Letting the prisoners run the prison is no answer to solving the woes of increasing costs for incarceration whether public or private. If even one fifth of the charges in the recent lawsuit are true you have a major problem on your hands. Have you looked at the video?

Don’t hide behind lawyers urging you not to comment because there’s a lawsuit involved. Take charge because if you don’t this item alone could condemn your tenure to infamy. Put together a task force with tight deadlines. Give it a charge and frame the questions. (more…)

Mirror districts

Talk comes up now and then, sometimes in the context of candidate recruitment, about which of Idaho's two congressional districts is the more Republican (or relatively more Democratic).

If presidential election numbers can serve as a proxy, a sort-of answer is now available: The two districts are almost identically partisan.

A congressional district breakdown of Idaho (through the Daily Kos site, along with breakdowns of other states) shows the two districts within a few tenths of a percentage point of each other. Republican Mitt Romney got 64.91% in the first district (northern and western), and 64.14% in the second (southern and eastern). Romney's best county in the state, meaning it has a claim on being the reddest in deep red Idaho, is Madison (county seat: Rexburg), at 93.29%. - Randy Stapilus

Rights of sucession

stapilus
Randy Stapilus
View from Here

Looking ahead to 2016 - yeah, a lot of people are - one of the things we know is that, conspiracy theories notwithstanding, it'll be an open election: No incumbent president on the ballot.

And probably it will be more open than that. On the Democratic side age considerations may preclude the vice president, Joe Biden, from running, and also former presidential candidate (and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. Running for president, as either could tell you, is rugged, stressful, and requires enormous energy and discipline. The Democratic nomination seems more likely to go to someone a few years younger, and there's no clear telling right now who that might be. But then, Democratic nominations, other than for incumbent president, often are hard to predict very far into the future.

Republicans traditionally have been a different matter. While many contenders may run, the nomination usually goes to someone who has an established claim on it. Leaving aside incumbent presidents, since Barry Goldwater in 1964 (the last more or less out-of-nowhere nominee), Republicans nominated a former nominee/former vice president in 1968 (Richard Nixon), incumbent president in 1976 (Gerald Ford), the previous runner-up for nomination in 1980 (Ronald Reagan), the incumbent vice president in 1988 (George H.W. Bush), an earlier nomination runner-up in 1996 (Bob Dole), a son of a former president in 2000 (George W. Bush), and former nomination runners-up in 2008 (John McCain) and 2012 (Mitt Romney).

Molds can always be broken, of course. But if Republicans stick to their long-running patterns, who is most likely to get the nomination in 2016?

The list has to start with Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, and Rick Santorum, the 202 nomination runner-up. And if you want to extend the list, using the logic of recent history, you might add Mike Huckabee (a 2008 runner-up), Jeb Bush (another son of a president) and Sarah Palin (2008 VP nominee).

The last three all seem a little improbable, though Huckabee retains visibility through his cable TV program. But Santorum already is making sounds about running again, and he can argue that he did better in the Republican primaries, with marginal resources, than almost anyone expected him to do. And Ryan is likely to be highly visible in Congress for some time.

There are other contenders out there, of course, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both evidently moving toward entering the race. But in trying to reach the nomination, they'll be running against history.

These are the souls that try men’s times

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

There was a time – at the end of four quarters or after nine innings or nine rounds or the last vote was counted – the game was over, play was concluded. Everybody shook hands and got back to work. But no more.

Now parents punch referees – a winning out-of-town high school football team has to run for the bus ahead of an angry home crowd – a pro baseball player charges into the stands – the fat lady stops singing, then punches the orchestra conductor. Losing political parties feast on their own candidates. And some of the candidates don’t get the message that their adoring public has just devoured them. Right, Mr. West?

The amount of anger and mayhem lying just below the surface of our society these days is huge. And it doesn’t take much to set it off once something – or someone – scratches it. Whether it’s sports, lousy weather, bad restaurant service or politics, seems many of us are just looking for a chance to angrily attack someone or something for any perceived slight.

While the picking on Mitt Romney’s corpse has not degenerated into physical violence – yet – the verbal mayhem has become very excessive. Poor Mitt is being blamed by his fellow losers for not only costing the GOP the White House and some seats in Congress, but for angering Christians and making them stay home. That last claim is not true, by the way. Only Franklin Graham thinks it is.

What brings this “it ain’t over” discourse to mind was a headline today saying many on the far right do not accept Barack Obama as President. Not just the outcome of his winning the November election. No, Sir. They don’t accept his presidency. Going back to day one. Period. And some say they’ll fight it every day he’s living in the White House.

The always empty tea “pots” of our times have come up with a new high in low for craziness. An Idaho state senator is circulating a letter from on high. No, not God. The National Tea Party whizbang. He wants all the little baggies to spread the word: “We can elect Mitt Romney if we can get 17 of the 24 states he won to boycott the Electoral College.” It ain’t legal. It ain’t gonna happen. It can’t be done. So he can return to his breakfast routine of Jimson Weed and that weird black brew.

It’s not just the bonafide idiots, we’re talking here. If you check several of the less far-out blogs on the right – the usually accepted RedState.com, for one – you’ll find that crazed rejection crap even there. Ballot boxes have been stored – poll workers have gone home – all votes tabulated and even certified in some places – yet several million folk won’t accept the outcome.

“So what?” you ask. “Most of us do and, even if we don’t like what happened, we’ll live with it for four more years.” Yes. Yes, you will.

The problem is, you don’t run the national Republican Party. And a lot of that ignorant, outright rejection is coming from – wait for it – “leadership” of that national Republican Party! Not just the malcontents and crazies in the basement. No. Some of the people who actually run the place. The ones who decide who gets on future ballots – and who doesn’t. The ones who famously brought you Bachman, Gingrich, Santorum, Cain, Paul, West, Walsh, Akin, Gohmert, Robinson et al.

A lot of Republicans are engaged, once again, in the always fruitless circular firing squad of blame. Romney’s goose has been cooked to a cinder. We’re hearing about bad organization, no organization, lousy demographics, bad polling, needing more Hispanics or African-Americans or Swedish plumbers, raising more money and better candidates. “All we have to do is say ‘We’ve changed’ and they will come” you hear. (more…)

A speaker ouster?

idahocolumnn

Challenges to incumbent leaders in the Idaho Legislature are not rare. Successful challenges are.

The last top-level ouster (there have been a few others for lower-level leadership spots) goes back 30 years to 1982, when then-Senate Majority Leader Jim Risch defeated president pro tem Reed Budge in a contest very much underground until near the end. Risch (the current U.S. Senator) was a master at caucus politics; six years earlier, he defeated future U.S. Senator Larry Craig for majority leader.

But we may see another ouster when the closed-door voting occurs in Boise on December 5.

Contests for open seats are more the rule than not; usually, there's no individual person in a party caucus that so obviously stands out as to preclude anyone else from giving it a shot. Not a lot is really required to enter a race for leadership – no paper filing, no fundraising, no public campaigning.

The public doesn't have much to do with these choices, and public campaigns for them would be difficult because they usually amount, mostly, to matters not of philosophy or floor votes but of personality and style. They are partly popularity contests in part, but also relate to how the person handles the job and the public perception of them – of a House speaker of Senate president pro tem is the public face of the chamber.

Idaho has a serious legislative leadership contest this year, for the most powerful single legislative position, speaker of the House. After the 2006 retirement of veteran Bruce Newcomb, the then-assistant majority leader, Lawerence Denney, took over. He was then the assistant majority leader, and the (incomplete) shorthand description of the contest was that he was the conservative defeating the more moderate Bill Deal of Nampa, who now is the state director of the Department of Insurance. In that case, philosophical differences may have been a factor in the voting process. (You can never be totally sure, since the choosing is done by secret ballot.)

This year, Denney is being challenged by the current assistant majority leader, Scott Bedke of Oakley. Bedke seems to be the betting pick to win. Denney has run up a string of bad headlines over the years, and maybe more pointedly there appears to be some dissatisfaction in the ranks. Bedke is said to be broadly popular by comparison, and said also to be campaigning hard. He also has been donating freely to campaign warchests for a number of House members, a fact remembered when time comes to ask for a leadership vote. Denney has made either few or no campaign contributions to other caucus members.

Denney and Bedke haven't often been on opposing sides of substantive issues; the House will not likely be much different in voting patterns either way. It may differ when it comes to such matters as handling ethical issues, deciding on committee assignments (a centrally key job for the speaker), managing appointments and overt politics. (Denney came under fire for trying to fire an appointee to the state redistricting commission).

If Bedke succeeds, he will be the first person to oust a sitting House speaker in many decades. In the more than five decades that Republicans have continuously controlled the chamber, every House speaker departed that job either to retire from the legislature or pursue another office. (That second category includes U.S. Representative Mike Simpson and former Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa.) It may be an indication, light as it is, that Idaho politics isn't totally unchangeable.

Gone viral: A police dept’s guide to pot

carlson
NW Reading

This may be the most readable police statement you've ever read. It's going viral around the net, and it's not even a video.

It comes from the Seattle Police Department, and its subject is, well, what about marijuana, now that voters in the state (albeit not the federal government) have legalized it? It's quite a read.

While cautioning about the federal provisions, Seattle police say they won't be enforcing them. Excerpts:

Can I legally carry around an ounce of marijuana?
According to the recently passed initiative, beginning December 6th, adults over the age of 21 will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Please note that the initiative says it “is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana…in view of the general public,” so there’s that. Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).

Well, where can I legally buy pot, then?
The Washington State Liquor Control Board is working to establish guidelines for the sale and distribution of marijuana. The WSLCB has until December 1, 2013 to finalize those rules. In the meantime, production and distribution of non-medical marijuana remains illegal. ...

Can I smoke pot outside my home? Like at a park, magic show, or the Bite of Seattle?
Much like having an open container of alcohol in public, doing so could result in a civil infraction—like a ticket—but not arrest. You can certainly use marijuana in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, if smoking a cigarette isn’t allowed where you are (say, inside an apartment building or flammable chemical factory), smoking marijuana isn’t allowed there either.

Will police officers be able to smoke marijuana?
As of right now, no. This is still a very complicated issue. ...

What happens if I get pulled over and an officer thinks I’ve been smoking pot?
If an officer believes you’re driving under the influence of anything, they will conduct a field sobriety test and may consult with a drug recognition expert. If officers establish probable cause, they will bring you to a precinct and ask your permission to draw your blood for testing. If officers have reason to believe you’re under the influence of something, they can get a warrant for a blood draw from a judge. If you’re in a serious accident, then a blood draw will be mandatory.

What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K9 buddy smells the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk?
Under state law, officers have to develop probable cause to search a closed or locked container. Each case stands on its own, but the smell of pot alone will not be reason to search a vehicle. If officers have information that you’re trafficking, producing or delivering marijuana in violation of state law, they can get a warrant to search your vehicle.

SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?
No.

Losing money in a weak economy

peterson
Martin Peterson
From Idaho

There has recently been a lot of talk about the group of Americans known as The One Percent. The term refers to the one percent of Americans who control something like forty percent of the nation’s wealth. Presumably, the wealthiest of these individuals, unless they inherited their wealth, are people who are intelligent, have a high work ethic and think strategically when making business decisions.

So, at a time when there has been so much talk about the overly long recovery from the last recession, where do these wealthy individuals invest their money? Following tips from their Fox News advisors, the smart investment was in Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates.

The talking heads on Fox said for months that this was a sure thing. As it turns out, as financial advisors, they were right up there with Bernie Madoff.

Take the billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson. He made his billions off of people who bet and lost and when it came to making political donations, he proved no luckier than most of his customers. He spent $53 million on nine political races and had only one winner. The one winner was in the Texas Senate race where he actually supported two candidates.

Then there are the Koch brothers, Charles and David. They were reported to be prepared to donate something in the neighborhood of $400 million to a variety of tax exempt groups that are not subject to federal campaign finance disclosure. Their top priority was to support candidates who will weaken environmental regulations and stop the move away from coal to cleaner sources of energy. Presumably, that would have come with Republicans solidly in control of the House, Senate and White House. In the end, it was not one of their better investments.

One of the super PACs into which many of those wealthy one-percenters poured contributions was the one run by the former Bush political operative Karl Rove. Rove has been largely
viewed as one of the shrewdest and most effective political operatives of the current generation. (more…)

An entertaining civic education

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

I’ve just seen Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Were I put in charge of this nation’s public education system, no student would graduate from any high school without seeing it. Twice. Once in the freshman year – again as a senior. It’s that important.

As I remember, when a kid of about 13-14 is assigned American history studies, most approach the task with as much zeal as being asked to eat sawdust. The pages are flat. The information is boringly black and white. The names uninteresting and hard to connect with reality. Watching “Lincoln” at that age would change all that. These are real people sprung from dusty and mostly forgotten lessons. You cannot see and hear them without learning. And feeling. It’s just not possible.

William Seward, Salmon Chase, Edwin Stanton, Edward Bates and ol’ Abe himself are now – to those kids – just so many names to remember for some meaningless test. But in the hands of Spielberg and the superb actors he chose for those parts, there is flesh and blood – depth of character – motivations for their actions – ample reasons why they should be remembered for their importance to our history.

The second required exposure – at age 17-18 – would provide a review and a perspective not possible the first time around. It would bring together lessons learned since the first exposure – lessons about real people – fleshed-out, ambitious, patriotic, honest – and not-so-honest. They would understand how things happened. And why. Added to other lessons learned over those intervening years – and with more maturity – the second viewing would create an indelible memory “stamp” to last a lifetime.
All of us learned Abraham Lincoln was a great president who ended slavery and was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. As a kid, you accepted those facts and closed the book. History learned.

But scholars want us to know more. Republican Lincoln was a wheeler-dealer who “bought” votes to abolish slavery using the power of patronage. He passed out government jobs as rewards to those who’d abandon their own political party or their pro-slavery positions by voting for the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many were offered to Democrats who’d been losers in recent elections and were looking to hang on. Do most people today know Lincoln used paid lobbyists to win his victory? (more…)