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Posts published in “Day: January 22, 2014”

Stuck in Lodi, again

carlson CHRIS


Somewhere I lost connections/
Ran out of songs to play. . . .
Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again.

--Creedence Clearwater

Despite many folks citing principles, values and service to their community as reasons for participating in politics, one of the more direct reasons is related to pure self-interest: a job derived from political connections.

It’s called political “patronage.” It is not nearly as pervasive as in the days that Boss Tweed dominated New York City or the Daley machine ruled Chicago, but it is still a major element in our system’s form of government.

Lawyers get involved in politics not always for altruistic reasons, but rather because governors and senators either outright make or exert influence on the selection of judges, for example. Or a governor and an attorney general will get together to decide who might represent the state in workman’s comp cases.

When presidential Administrations change, there’s always a bevy of lawyers who see the next U.S. Attorney when they look in the mirror in the morning. Or a county sheriff sees the next U.S. Marshall. Or a farmer sees the next state director for the Farm Services Administration.

One of the most powerful and influential but little known “patronage” positions in the pacific northwest is the Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, the entity that manages and markets the enormous amounts of electricity generated by some 30 federally built and operated dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

The Administrator oversees the agency’s 3200 employees, and has a $3 billion annual budget paid from the revenues it receives for the power it markets, with a significant component of that budget being an annual payment to the Treasury to pay down the debt incurred in the building of the hydro system, the lines for transmission, and a mandated commitment to enhance the region’s threatened salmon and steel head runs.

Historically, there has been an unofficial practice regarding this post. The senior senator from the northwest’s senatorial delegation of the party in the White House “selects” the administration’s nominee who does have to go before the full Committee on Interior and Insular affairs for confirmation by the full Senate.

When an Administration changes, the administrator resigns. If the administrator leaves mid-term, then the lead rotates to that party’s next in seniority senator. This “patronage,” like all, has produced some fine executives as well as some turkeys. (more…)

On the front page


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Bedke intros business tax break (Boise Statesman)
UI pitches budget proposal (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow wants approval of water plan (Moscow News)
Martin juvenile hall in Washington may close (Moscow News)
Nampa Development Corporation may shake up (Nampa Press Tribune)
How many exchange enrollees were insured? (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello schools offer coach job back (Pocatello Journal)
Part of Inkom cement plant demolished (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint train depot future considered (Sandpoint Bee)
Trasmission line conflict heats in Cassia (TF Times News)
Blaine school board chief resigns (TF Times News)

DeFazio blasts Pacific trade deal (Corvalis Gazette Times)
Fred Meyer prusuing Civic center (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Transit warned on payroll tax (Eugene Register Guard)
Hermiston schools see falling enrollment (Hermiston Herald)
KF municipal utility district tabled (KF Herald & News)
Chasing out barred owls simpler (KF Herald & News)
KF considers downtown police shop (KF Herald & News)
Ashland allowing pot medical shops (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher negotiations (Medford Tribune)
Region at fire risk (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
School district considers PERS (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Intel tax breaks costing schools statewide (Portland Oregonian)
Portland port labor issues slow transit (Portland Oregonian)
Boise site renewal options considered (Salem Statesman Journal)

Tighter booking at Snohomish jail (Everett Herald)
Possible theft by former council member (Kennewick Herald)
Methanol export plants set for Longview (Longview News)
Easier clearance of barred owls (Longview News)
Local tech company gets patent (Port Angeles News)
Bill would bar ag tax breaks for pot (Port Angeles News)
Seattle looks to much-increase utilities rates (Seattle Times)
President of Eastside Catholic school quits (Seattle Times)
Backlog of homeless families at Seattle (Seattle Times)
Review of Spokane charter schools (Spokane Spokesman)
Olympic wilderness bill returns (Tacoma News Tribune)
Pierce Transit unpaid leave police (Tacoma News Tribune)
Bills would set up pot sales registry (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima city votes to ban pot shops (Yakima Herald Republic)
Cawley retained as mayor at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)