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Posts published in “Day: April 8, 2013”

Bend or break

cascades RANDY
West of
the Cascades

Politics - in the campaigning end of it, that is - is full of people "stand firm", who are resolute, who have the backbone to stick fiercely to their principles.

Most of this is garbage, of course. Effective political people know that blind adherence to points of view often generates either little accomplishment or, sometimes, deep defeat. For a politician, it can put you at risk. For an organization, too.

Which brings me to two widely disparate kinds of groups with similar problems: The National Rifle Association, and Oregon's public sector unions.

After the Sandy Hook shootings late last year, my thought about what the NRA ought to do, as a matter of self-preservation and in the real interests of its membership, was simple: Compromise. Give in a bit on some of the ideas, such as universal background checks, that even President Wayne LaPierre strongly supported only a decade ago. A few such modest moves would be enough to position the NRA, and by extension many gun owners, as well within the mainstream, without giving up anything very important to their interests. Politically, that was the smart move.

As we know, they didn't do that. Short term, this may not matter, but long term, after a few more mass shootings (which as we all know will happen), this will be an over-stiff branch that rather than bending with the wind may be broken by it.

Similar point, and the real subject today, applies to Oregon's public section labor unions.

The topic of the day for them is singular, but in-state significant: What to do about the heavily escalating cost of PERS, the public employee retirement system, which is one of the most generous in the country.

The costs of paying for those obligations is cutting deeply into budget for public schools and almost everything else, and probably only a sliver of people in Oregon would argue that costs ought to be trimmed. That could be done with no substantial damage to retirees, as part of an overall budget and revenue package. The Oregon school boards association has proposed a PERS change that might in fact bear down in some retirees, but Governor John Kitzhaber has proposed one that seems to hit a sweet spot - saving quite a large chunk of money but impacting retirees only very lightly or, in most cases, not at all. Proposed in his state of the state, it would objectively seem easy to support. (more…)

In this week’s Briefings

portneuf exhibit
One of the images on display at the exhibit “Nature Photography of The Portneuf Valley in Spring” sponsored by the Idaho Museum of Natural History, on display in the Cordillera Gallery at Walrus and Carpenter Books April 5. (image/Idaho State University)


Legislature wrapup was a key subject last week in Idaho, and showdowns in Washington as well; the setup for a possible jam-through of the budget chairs' PERS bill may be the big deal this week in Salem.

Meantime, and not unrelated, springtime seems to be kicking in.

More followup in next week's Briefings.

First Take: Zero TV, pot impairment


ZERO TV Not a totally local story, but this comment in the Seattle Times website was irresistible: "If cable companies would let us pick the few channels we DO want to have, instead of making us pay for loads of toilet bowl filler that we don't want, they'd have more subscribers." The article, originally in the Los Angeles Times, is about corporate concerns over the growing number of people cutting cable TV, and even broadcast, and using online steaming and other Internet sources for their viewing entertainment. (We do, almost entirely, in our household.)

POT IMPAIRMENT A possibly significant decision out of the Idaho Court of Appeals on a case involving a man who had consumed marijuana - at some point fairly recently - and was arrested on DUI, charged with under the influence of pot. His erratic driving doesn't seem to be at issue, but the cause of it was: He said that he has paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (sounds like a great guy to get out on the road in the first place), and there was no evidence he had ingested the pot recently, as in the last day or two. The pot-longevity question may be of some significance in places like Washington state, which are in the process of reviewing a number of laws in that area.