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Posts published in January 2013

Splitting the house

The House delegation from the Northwest split in some uncommon ways on the big tax/budget bill Tuesday - splitting the parties in the region on some not totally expected lines. (See this excellent New York Times map.)

The Senate delegation was united in its vote in favor of the bill, as the Senate overall was lopsidedly in favor.

The House was more deeply split, and unusual in this cycle has featured a bill passing the House with a strong majority of the Republican caucus in opposition. 151 Republicans voted no, almost twice as many as the 85 who voted yes; Democrats basically passed the bill, with 172 in favor and 16 against.

The Northwest delegation, given that kind of split, didn't vote as you might expect.

Of the seven Republicans in the region's House delegation, just one voted against the bill - Raul Labrador of the Idaho 1st. All six of the others - Idaho's Mike Simpson, Oregon's Greg Walden, and Washington's Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dave Reichert - all voted in favor, on the minority side within the Republican caucus. Might it matter that Walden and McMorris Rodgers are in leadership, Simpson is fairly close to leadership (well, presumably, the John Boehner side of what now looks like a split leadership) and Beutler and Richert come from relatively marginal districts?

On the Democratic side, you see an interesting split as well. Most of the Oregon Democrats voted no - Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader - while Suzanne Bonamici in the 1st district voted yes. Washington was more deeply split: Norm Dicks (the senior member of the region's delegation), Suzan DelBene (the junior member) and Rick Larsen voted yes; but Adam Smith and Jim McDermott voted no. Overall, the Democrats in the region voted 6-3 in favor of the bill, a closer margin than in the caucus overall.

You'll hear a wide range of explanations for all this in the days ahead.

An open letter to DOE (part 1)

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

An “Open Letter” to Jeffrey Sayer
Chair
Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission

Dear Mr. Sayer:

Former Governors Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus have once again rendered their fellow citizens a tremendous service - indeed, service above and beyond the call of duty.

Both governors saw through the smoke screen of wishful thinking by blind Idaho National Laboratory partisans who with dollar signs dancing in their eyes thought they could hornswoggle the two governors into accepting amendments to Governor Batt’s 1995 agreement with the Lab, Do E and The United States Navy severely limiting the importation of any more (other than a small amount for research purposes) nuclear waste and mandating it all be gone from the Site by 2035.

Idahoans ought to thank the members of Governor Butch Otter’s LINE commission for being, choose your word: dumb or naïve, enough to think that dangling a carrot of vague, unspecified additional economic development might possibly entice Idaho ’s current leadership to amend the 1995 agreement.

There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Butch will buck two governors who he served as Lt. Governor and cross their emphatic response to even the hint of amending the agreement with their firm not just NO!, but Hell No!

Batt and Andrus understand that Idaho has the only agreement of any state NOT to be turned into an interim waste or possibly permanent waste repository. The 1995 agreement gives Idaho the only real leverage it has and it is reinforced by having been held up as binding in a Federal Court of law.

To deal away a “hole card” would be the height of folly when dealing with a Federal government that did not begin to keep many of its promises until the 1995 agreement was in place.

One cannot be any clearer than Governor Andrus was in his letter to the LINE Commission chair, Commerce director Jeff Sayer. He told Sayer he had carefully read all 50 plus pages including the recommendations and “nothing in the (Line Commission) report warrants any amendment for any reason to the Batt Agreement of 1995.. . .”

To have Governor Batt follow suit immediately with his own strongly worded letter to the Idaho Statesman ensured that folks would still see the two governors from different political parties were absolutely tied together at the hip on this matter.

It was meant to signal to anyone who might try to make this into a partisan matter that that too was a non-starter. The governors had obviously been talking and had coordinated their responses. One could almost hear the gnashing of teeth in far away north Idaho emanating from the INL booster types in Idaho Falls. (more…)

Our neighborhood’s getting rougher

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

There’s really nothing remarkable about Kelli Lee Fields. You’d walk past her on any Eugene, Oregon street and probably never notice her. Except, she might be wearing the biggest smile of her life.

You see, Kelli Lee Fields was driving her car in Eugene late on a November evening. In the space of a couple of minutes, she was to blame for two wrecks and sending several people to the hospital – one with life-changing injuries. She was drunk. Legally sloshed. Before the officer finished writing up the incident report, she had more than a dozen charges against her. Pretty serious stuff. And, it wasn’t the first time.

Then the lawyers got into it. A little give here – a little plea there – and the list was pared down to nine counts to which she pled guilty. Drunken driving, third-degree assault, hit and run and criminal mischief among them. The judge bought off on the agreement and sentenced her to 15 months in the lockup. And off she went to the Lane County jail to serve her sentence.

Except – after she was processed in and ready to be shown her cell – she was out the front door with papers showing she had served her entire sentence. She was a free woman. She was free because the Lane County jail – built to house 500 prisoners – has laid off most of its staff and the 135 beds still active are full. So Kelli Lee Fields walked on her first day! To drive Eugene streets again.

About a month ago, a Eugene fella with a long criminal record – including bank robbery – was arrested for the second time in 90 days. He was taken to the Lane County jail, booked, and released. Less than two hours later, he held up another bank and was back again. Sheriff must have cut somebody else loose because – this time – he stayed.

You’ll find the same sort of thing happening in Josephine County where law breakers are routinely arrested, charged, booked and – released. Not unusual to see the same faces coming back again and again. The jail in Grants Pass has only a few beds occupied because so many jailers and other deputies have been laid off.

In the western parts of Josephine, armed civilians are prowling the streets and forest roads – “citizen patrols” they like to call themselves. Sheriff says it’s just a matter of time until somebody’s shot. The citizens claim, if the County can’t afford patrol officers, they’ll do it themselves. (more…)