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.”

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Oregon

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.

But – the John McCain we see today – and see far too often – is not that man of strength and professionalism. He has become – on far too many Sunday talk shows and in far too many other appearances – a bitter and, at times, a confused old man. He’s jousting with demons and devils only he sees.

The Benghazi story – with the loss of four American lives to Libyan violence – while certainly tragic, could be McCain’s Waterloo. Between his outrageous behavior – and the totally unbelievable witch hunt sponsored by Fox News backing him – McCain’s public credibility has taken some major hits. On this issue alone, he and his cohorts have gone too far.

McCain took to our living rooms many weeks ago, loudly criticizing the Obama administration over the Benghazi attack. He did so even before the intelligence services could factually reconstruct events. Long before. He kept it up with fact-free assistance from Fox. Then he announced he would singularly block any attempt to make U.N. Ambassador Rice our country’s new Secretary of State. Two days later, Graham and Ayotte – “Us, too.”

When the CIA, FBI and National Security Directors went to Capitol Hill a couple of weeks ago, to present a classified briefing with all the then-known official facts of the tragedy, McCain boycotted that hearing he – HE – had previously demanded. At the same hour, he called a press conference to loudly criticize Obama, Rice and everybody else involved. Said he “still had questions” while those “questions” were being answered less than 100 yards away from the cameras.

Next, he wanted to violate Senate rules by creating a completely new committee to deal just with Benghazi. He, of course, would be chairman. The unprecedented effort was quickly killed by leadership.

Then he wanted to personally meet with Ambassador Rice to get his own private briefing. The guy who skipped out on the first presentation decided he wanted a second – just for him. With the President’s support, Rice and several others from the national security agencies complied. Within minutes, McCain and his sycophants were before the cameras – again.

“Now, I have still more questions,” he complained – accompanied by the requisite “Us, too’s” from the others. And, interestingly, all three had written talking points on the rostrum in front of them which they read. Did you notice? Curious, that. Must have been excellent staff work.

While it’s sad to see a respected public figure like McCain disintegrate in our living rooms, that appears to be what’s happening. With national media encouragement, he’s being ably assisted in making his anger and resentment over the loss of his 2008 presidential campaign very, very public.

McCain is an old hand with combined military and political experience far more extensive than most in Congress. He’s been a leader and deeply involved since his freshman term. He knows the rules. He knows the structure. He knows military and civilian intelligence operations and has participated in hundreds of their classified briefings. His knowledge and experience are deep.

From lesser voices, this criticism over Benghazi and other intelligence matters would be simply what we’re all too used to from our members of Congress – open mouth, insert foot, bite down firmly. From McCain, the response has become entirely inappropriate and wrong. It’s no longer credible or believable. He holds a deep hatred for the President – personal as well as political. And it’s destroying an otherwise fine man.

That’s why I’ve reluctantly put him on the list of people from whom I want to hear no more. I’ve had high regard for John McCain for years. Still do. This is not that John McCain.

“They have their exits and entrances,” ol’ Will said. It’s time for Sen. McCain to find his exit.

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Rainey

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.

For example, how many inmates are there who were convicted of minor possession and were strictly just personal users. Given where the law is going in other states could Idaho decrease the numbers in our prison by releasing those there for minor drug possession?

#3. Take the lead on putting together a review of the needs for reforming and putting on a firm financial footing public education in Idaho. And keep Tom Luna at arms length. He has rightly been tarred with the brush of politicizing the reform process. Only you have the prestige of an office that can put together all the players and work for a consensus from the ground up process that has everyone sitting at the table truly listening to each other.

Leave the guns and cell phones at the door. Give them a year to discuss and debate and the come back to you and the Legislature with recommendations. And please don’t put any Grover Norquist like constraints on them either.

#4. Support Second District Congressman Mike Simpson’s White Clouds wilderness bill. You of all people ought to respect the careful process he went through to reflect all the stake holders views and the compromises he came up with.

Do these four and you’ll have a legacy your grandchildren will be proud of and your fellow citizens will be truly grateful they chose you to lead them for eight years.

Respectfully,

Chris

Chris Carlson is a writer at Medimont.

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Carlson Idaho

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

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Idaho

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.

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Stapilus

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.

For my money, that item – better state and national candidates – is the real key. It’s also likely the one that has the least chance of being realized. In our just-completed Republican presidential primary, who did the party toss in the garbage pile first? Pawlenty and Huntsman – two guys who were probably the most widely acceptable candidates to non-Republicans. And Romney – the guy no one wanted – got the brass ring. That won’t change. Not next time.

Within a day after Obama won, Marco Rubio – the guy who lied about his own life history in his own biography and who hasn’t been in the Senate long enough to know where all the men’s rooms are – Little Marco was in Iowa a full three years before the next presidential campaign filing. He was waving and posing and saying “I’m first. I’m first.” Within 24 hours, Rand Paul told the Party, “Me, too. Me, too.” The line has already started to form. To the right. To the very far right.

Moderate Republican pros nearly all agree on one thing. The Party has no moderate, widely-acceptable “heir apparent” to challenge the hand-picked screwballs of the Party hierarchy. There is no second tier of candidates acceptable to the baggie people who control the nominating process. A moderate.

Try it yourself. Name one they’d accept. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

(Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.)

By the time the filing period for the next presidential race arrives, all of us will be sick of hearing Marco’s name and the media will have eviscerated his candidacy. We’ll have heard more than enough of Rand Paul’s Libertarian lunacy. Santorum, Gingrich, Bachman, Huckabee and unnamed others from the tri-cornered hat club will be vying for a place in the spotlight. Again. Unless, of course, more responsible Republicans can wrest control of the nominating process from the current crowd of looneys.

I’d put my two-bucks on the looneys. They own the national party nominating process. Took ‘em years. But they have it. And it’ll take years for anyone wanting to dislodge them to get the job done. Even if they started today.
This is not the government – or the political process – I was raised to support. Gridlock, extremism, hatred, rejection of valid elections outcomes, totally unqualified candidates vying to lead this nation in very troubling times, voices of reason drowned out by voices of division, “purity” tests and loyalty oaths. But it’s what we have.

Oh, wait! The conductor just hit the fat lady back.

Film at 11!

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Rainey

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.

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Idaho Idaho column

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.

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Reading Washington

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.

Not so in 2012. Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC spent $104 million of other people’s money in the general election and none of its candidates won. In the end, rather than declaring victory, all he could say was that without this funding support, the races wouldn’t have been nearly as close. Someone needs to remind him that close only counts in horseshoes.

Closer to home, there was Idaho’s own Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot is the Idaho Falls based billionaire who founded Melaleuca, an Amway clone that sells nutritional supplements, cleaning supplies and personal care products. His 2012 election passion was Idaho education reform and Mitt Romney. He spent $1.3 million in supporting the ill-fated Luna laws and another $1 million on the Romney campaign.

So what is the take-home lesson from all of this? Just as with the stock market, there are no sure things in politics. But there are ways in which people could minimize their losses. One such way would be for the U.S. to adopt the British campaign model and limit campaigns to thirty days. In addition, the British government imposes what they call Purdah before elections. This is a period of about six weeks prior to elections during which the government is prohibited from making public release of any proposed new programs.

Unfortunately, there is little chance that such common-sense changes will be coming to U.S. elections any time soon. The billions spent on the 2012 elections didn’t simply disappear, as in the case of a bad stock purchase. The moneys went to a wide-range of election stakeholders who weren’t running for office. They include campaign advisors, media strategists, political advisors, newspapers, direct mail firms, robo telephone calling firms, radio and TV stations, advertising agencies and others. There are also many others who benefit economically from lengthy and expensive campaigns, although not at the expense of the candidates campaign checkbook. These include media pundits and commentators. Political campaigns are big business and in America we strongly support big business.

Take no comfort in knowing that as you read this, plans are being hatched among both Republicans and Democrats for those first visits to Iowa and New Hampshire as the cycle begins for the 2016 presidential elections. It’s going to be another long four years.

Marty Peterson grew up in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. He is retired and lives in Boise.

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Peterson

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?

How many young people know Lincoln – while pursuing a devastating and bloody war with other people’s sons – tried to keep his own out of the army using presidential power to have his son’s enlistment rejected? How many know his own cabinet and party strongly opposed him? How many know he had his wife committed to an asylum? Or how he bored many contemporaries with fables, jokes and stories? Or that he made house calls on members of congress to get votes? And much, much more.

Are all – or any – of these things important for high school students to learn? Should these and hundreds of other little-known facts about Lincoln – the people around him – the gut-level battle to kill slavery – the human facets of all involved – the weaknesses and corruption and human frailties – should these be important and remembered by more Americans? You bet!

Spielberg and screen writer Tony Kushner stayed very close to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals.” The whole warts-and-all history is laid out on those pages. Excellent and award-winning history. Spielberg brought it to life in detail seldom seen in an adaptation. For nearly three hours, what we watched was life. And not one boring minute!

The actors seemed submerged in their characters – especially Daniel Day-Lewis who became Lincoln. His complete transformation erased any thought I had that he was just “playing a part.” Day-Lewis – more than any other actor or element of production – made history real and erased from my mind for all time any previous attempt to understand that complex martyr. It’s a characterization that’ll always define his career.

One of the great failures of our educational system is all-too apparent in the lack of knowledge of government by far too many citizens in this country. Our most recent election – clouded in off-repeated lies and smothered by nearly a billion dollars of excess – was the latest proof. Some knowledgeable estimates are that – nationally – more people voted against something than for something. Many in exit polling exhibited little to no understanding of real candidate positions or many of the ballot measures they’d just acted upon. Asked to explain their votes, far too many could not.

Many voices of protest and ignorant outrage raised in our nation are those of people who don’t understand their own government. They fear it largely because they have so little knowledge of it, why it exists, how it works or their role in it. They see it as some far-off, impersonal object they can’t define. “Them” or “it.” They want “it” to do things “it” can’t or stop doing things “it” is supposed to do. Widespread civic distrust – centered in such lack of understanding – is threatening our institutions.

All voices of ignorance? Of course not. But when someone lacks the basic knowledge of what is real – of what is right – subsequent exposure to information that is NOT real or which doesn’t comport to actual fact, serves to undermine our civic process.

If more protesting voices had been exposed to history as told in “Lincoln,” I believe they’d better understand government, its role and how it works. Or, when it doesn’t. And why. What we need is more such information masquerading as entertainment. Not less.
I”m grateful to Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tony Kushner and every actor and production member of “Lincoln.” The excitement – the understanding – the experience – the knowledge. It should be required education.

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From a November 21 article by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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NW Reading

The distinct sound of gobbling turkeys in Oregon has generally grown silent for nearly 20 years. What was once a thriving agricultural industry left the state– a rarity among Oregon’s diverse list of commodities. While there are a few locally-grown birds sold to niche market consumers this year, most Oregonians will sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner featuring a turkey produced in California, Utah, or Minnesota.

“At one time, Oregon was a large producer of turkeys, probably producing up to 30 percent of the West Coast supply from the Willamette and Yamhill valleys,” says recently retired Oregon Department of Agriculture Assistant Director Dalton Hobbs. “Due to consolidation of the turkey processing industry and a few other factors that hit during the early 1990s, all that commercial production has gone away.”

Back in the mid-1980s, Oregon produced about 2.5 million turkeys and had a strong, viable industry. The state’s climate was amenable to turkey production and suited growers and the local processors. Turkeys were part of Oregon’s diverse agricultural product mix. Now there are only a handful of small-scale producers who specialize in organic, pasture raised, or so-called “heritage” turkeys– birds produced through natural mating, not through artificial insemination as is the case with commercial turkeys.

Many factors led to the demise of Oregon’s turkey industry in the early 1990s. But the bottom line is that it’s cheaper to grow turkeys in California, Utah, the Midwest, or in the southeast US and ship them to Oregon for sale than it is to actually grow them locally. Turkeys are generally raised where the feed is produced. The closer the turkeys are, the lower the production cost. Unfortunately, Oregon is rather distant from the feed sources of soybeans and dry corn.

That wasn’t much of a problem prior to 1993, when Oregon still produced a few million turkeys. That’s a far cry from the present day turkey production of Minnesota (47 million), North Carolina (30 million), Arkansas (28 million), and even California (15 million). Still, Oregon had enough critical mass to sustain the turkey industry and offer consumers an Oregon-grown product.

Then, a series of events eroded the industry.

The Oregon Turkey Growers Association, a local cooperative with membership in the national marketing cooperative Norbest, went through several managers at a time when continuity might have helped, according to Jim Hermes, poultry specialist with Oregon State University Extension. With several states producing turkeys under the Norbest label, Oregon growers had to settle for the national price on turkeys. Being far from feed sources, growers in other member states enjoyed a competitive price advantage. At about the same time, a batch of contaminated turkeys was shipped from Oregon to Utah– something that hit the news headlines at an inopportune time. For all intents and purposes, that was the final straw for Oregon’s turkey industry.

“The most visible problem was the recall of some 70,000 turkeys just prior to Thanksgiving 1992,” says Hermes. “The industry just couldn’t recoup from that event.”

Yamhill County, with about 85 percent of the state’s turkey production, shouldered the brunt of the loss. However, just as the entire state absorbed the loss of the entire turkey industry, Yamhill County was able to fill the vacuum through such successful commodities as nursery crops.

“Towards the end of the industry, there were about 25 turkey growers with 10 of them primarily responsible for most of the state’s production,” says Hermes. “Today, some of those same growers are producing fryer chickens inside the same facilities that were producing turkeys. Others have modified their buildings to store grass straw or some other commodities.”

Today’s consumers who prefer to buy a local product do have the option of purchasing from small scale producers. These customers reserve a bird in the spring by pre-ordering even before the turkey is raised. By the time holiday season rolls around, the turkey has been fully grown and slaughtered, and is ready for the dinner table.

The return of a large scale turkey industry in Oregon is unlikely, according to Hermes.

“There have been some inquiries into having breeder flocks of turkeys in the state to produce hatching eggs,” he says. “Normally when that occurs, there might be a few producers who may want to grow some commercial birds. However, Oregon’s primary problem is that there is no place to process the turkeys. We do not have a slaughter plant. The Oregon Turkey Growers processing plant in West Salem was sold and today is used for processing and freezing other food products.”

For Oregonians, there has been little impact from the loss of turkey production statewide. There is no shortage of turkeys available year around, let alone during Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the rare exception of those who prefer a fresh vs. a frozen turkey, shoppers don’t seem to care if the bird comes from California or North Carolina. Even when Oregon produced turkeys, most headed out-of-state anyway.

While Oregon never likes to see the loss of an industry, the demise of the state’s turkey production can serve as a valuable lesson.

“With this inexorable trend towards consolidation in agriculture, our growers need to understand that the ways of the past may not be the ways of the future,” says ODA’s Hobbs. “We need to be nimble, creative, and proactive in our production strategies and offering a product that fills a need.”

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

At first glance there could not be two more different people than Frank Church and former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Surprisingly, though, there were more similarities than one would think.

Both men were terrifically ambitious; both had talented wives who played crucial roles in their success; both could be excellent “stump” speakers; both loved publicity as much as they loved being senators; both relished the give and take of politics; both authored legislation that has touched for the better the lives of millions of Americans past, present and in the future.

Most interesting though is both first came to the Senate courtesy of a missing ballot box in a key county controlled by friends of theirs.

Robert Caro, in his massive yet to be completed five volume biographies of Johnson documents with a story teller’s flair how Johnson finally got to the U.S. Senate by an 87 vote margin over former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson. The key to that “victory” was ballot box 13 in Duval county controlled by one man, George Parr, a Johnson supporter and a true loyalist who was well rewarded for his loyalty.

There’s even a picture of the wayward ballot box sitting on top of the hood of a car with several deputy sheriffs, as well as cronies of Parr’s, one with his foot on the bumper, posing for posterity before the box went into the mists of history.

Less well known is Idaho’s remarkably similar story. Seven years after Johnson took his Senate seat courtesy of a missing ballot box, in August of 1956, young Frank Church defeated former U.S. Senator Glen Taylor in the Democratic primary by 170 votes.

The winner would be up against the already dying and somewhat disgraced Senator Herman Welker, one of the few supporters for the red-baiting activities of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy.

Idaho’s usually Republican leaning business establishment, including the state’s dominant paper, The Idaho Statesman, was beginning to recognize the damage being done by “Little Joe from Idaho’s” support for McCarthy. Behind the scenes Church’s friend and campaign manager, Carl Burke, was thought to have enlisted some key establishment support for Church’s bid.

For years afterwards Taylor maintained the nomination had been stolen, and wouldn’t you know it, a key ballot box could no longer be found. The county was Elmore and the finger of allegation has long pointed at veteran State Senator Bob Wetherell, the “Duke” of Elmore county and the counterpart to George Parr, the Duke of Duval county. By all accounts Wetherell’s influence included dominating the Courthouse.

Stories are mixed, facts are few but the consensus is there were more Democratic votes in a key precinct than there were registered voters. When Taylor drilled down on the vote in the key precinct it did indeed appear to have delivered an excessive number of votes for the young Boise attorney. The ballot box that should have been part of any mandatory recount, however, had “disappeared.”

Rumor had the box being tossed in the Anderson Ranch reservoir by the county sheriff on orders of “Duke” Wetherell , where it lies to this day.

Taylor filed a complaint with the Senate which conducted a cursory investigation. During his single term in the Senate (1944-1950) he had not endeared himself to his colleagues. Thus, there was little interest in seeing the flamboyant Taylor¸ who had run for the vice presidency on the Progressive ticket with Henry Wallace in 1948, resume his old seat.

Taylor, at his own expense, went door-to-door in the key precinct in Mountain Home getting affidavits from voters saying who they had voted for, and buttressing his circumstantial case that Church could not possibly have gotten the margin out of the precinct initially reported.

Of course with the key box missing for any recount he could not prove his case and the complaint was dismissed. The cloud over Church taking the seat he won that November was removed.

No one has ever speculated,¸ alleged or charged that the Senator himself had any knowledge of this “favor” being done for him by the Duke of Elmore though Taylor surely must have wondered. If any one might know it would be Carl Burke, but if there is a secret here, he took it to the grave. Garry Wenske, guardian of the Church legacy as curator of the Church papers at Boise State dismisses the speculation out-of-hand as baseless.

Perhaps, but the missing ballot box has a long and infamous history in many states, not just Texas, and maybe even in Idaho. The real conclusion should be that while politics can bring tainted births there can still be much good for society despite the origins of the politician.

Chris Carlson is a former staffer for Governor Cecil Andrus, and a writer now living at Medimont.

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