Writings and observations

harris ROBERT


Because of the rules of the Senate, and because both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate vote with unity, a Senate general election isn’t solely about which candidate you like or are closer to agreement with. It is as much about which party you like more based on their national platform and leadership behaviors.

That’s why Jason Conger is the best choice to represent Oregon Republicans against Sen. Jeff Merkley in November.

First a reality check. There is very little chance that enough Oregon independent moderates are going to put the National Republicans in charge of the US Senate. Because while the OR GOP sometimes seems to be on its way towards being more modern party, the national GOP does not.

Dr. Wheby is more pro choice? So what? That will carry exactly zero weight in the general election because we know that her position on that issue will have zero effect in the US Republican Senate caucus. In fact, her pro choice position probably hurts her chances for party leadership if she were elected At least if independents vote for Merkley we know that his leadership stock is rising and he can protect Oregon financially at the leadership table. And if we are able to vote for Conger his social policy positions are more like a non-elitist blue collar Reagan Democrat and could help him within the GOP caucus.

What could a Conger nomination do for Oregon Republicans? It would elevate a strong leader with deep roots onto the State leadership stage. A candidate who didn’t just parachute into politics and who you can count on to continue working to make the Oregon GOP a better party – win or lose.

So, OR GOP’ers should do themselves a favor here. Think about which candidate would be better for the Oregon GOP win or lose. Though there’s nothing wrong with believing that lightening will strike at the same time as all the stars align and that candidate Conger will pull a big upset of Merkley. And that’s just as likely to happen with a Conger candidacy as with a Wehby candidacy.

If the Oregon GOP wants to get back in the game. Vote for Jason Conger.

(The opinion expressed here is solely that of the author and not of any other authors associated with Oregon Outpost)

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Harris Oregon


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)

Supreme Court race reviewed (Boise Statesman)
Boise aquarium renamed and organized (Boise Statesman)
Latah’s community college fund underused (Moscow News)
Extended stay notel opens at WSU (Moscow News)
Profiling Rule, Canyon commissioner (Nampa Press Tribune)
Candidate Rice spent a decade in prison (Nampa Press Tribune)
Stevens-Henager college complaint filed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Major Yellowstone Ave project starts (Pocatello Journal)
ISU’s hillside I being pulled (Pocatello Journal)
Campaign finance in 2nd district race (TF Times News)
Drive in movie firm future cloudy (TF Times News)
Blaine, Custer disagree on White Clouds (TF Times News)

Considering KF high school remodel (KF Herald & News)
KF strike catches 30 in food stamp fraud (KF Herald & News)
Debate over high-density area at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Inquiry over candidate Sergi dropped (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Many thefts of railroad ties in area (Medford Tribune)
South OR farmers see net loss (Medford Tribune)
Wildhorse casino sees economic development (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Insurance agents owed $900k by Cover Oregon (Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Troubles in deaths, staffing at Oregon Zoo (Portland Oregonian)
OR lacks planning for oil train spills (Portland Oregonian)
OSP executive placed on leave (Salem Statesman Journal)

Adam Smith on immigration detention (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
What to do with cloaed PA theatre (Port Angeles News)
Cruise ship arrives at PA today (Port Angeles News)
Spokane mayor speaks of lean government (Spokane Spokesman)
17 teachers may be lost at Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
State commission approves Cowlitz gaming plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Special federal money for 4 Yakima schools (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

ridenbaugh Northwest

From a press release by Idaho gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher, about the number of registered lobbyists working on the campaign of his opponent, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Senator Russ Fulcher today said the hiring of yet another lobbyist to work on Gov. Butch Otter’s re-election campaign raises troubling questions about the influence of special interests on Idaho politics.

“The governor now has staffers from the state’s largest lobbying firms working on his re-election campaign. These relationships give people reason to suspect their government of wrongdoing, even when nothing illicit is taking place,” said Fulcher. “It makes people wonder whether the governor’s re-election is about advancing and empowering Idahoans, or advancing and empowering people with cash and connections.”

Lobbyists on the campaign staff represent companies that have contractual relationships with the state or have an interest in legislation expected to be considered in the 2015 legislative session.

“Is it legal? Probably. Does it look really, really bad? I sure think so,” said Fulcher.

Elli Brown, Otter’s latest lobbyist campaign staffer, most recently worked at Veritas Advisors, whose clients include the Idaho Chamber Alliance, which lobbied for an Obamacare insurance exchange and still wants Otter and the Legislature to pass a local option sales tax.

Jayson Ronk, Otter for Idaho Campaign Manager, took a leave of absence as Vice President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, which supported the insurance exchange and is pushing for more government healthcare via Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Lobbyist Lincoln Smyser was added to the re-election campaign after the 2014 legislative session. He recently lobbied for Corrections Corporation of America, which had a scandal-ridden contract to run Idaho’s private prison, and the Idaho Trucking Association, which pitched a plan to raise gas taxes last session.

Martin Bilbao, a former lobbyist for Education Networks of America, serves as the Finance Director for the Otter for Idaho campaign. ENA was awarded a contract after Governor Otter’s business partner and best friend bent procurement rules to guarantee a contract over rival bidder Syringa Networks.

“A governor should leave a clear separation between elections and the formation of public policy. The people who lobby state government shouldn’t be on a governor’s campaign staff,” said Fulcher.

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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)

Fulcher blasts Otter hiring lobbyists (Boise Statesman)
St Luke’s releases downtown growth plans (Boise Statesman)
IF fore chief plans departure (IF Post Register)
Bonneville Democrats reach out to Hispanics (IF Post Register)
WSU sorority hit on alcohol, other charges (Moscow News)
Gritman takes over county emergency voucher effort (Moscow News)
Pullman considers city finances (Moscow News)
Canyon commission candidate Freeman (Nampa Press Tribune)
Newly reorganized golf course to open (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bujak trial continues (Nampa Press Tribune)
New giant woolly mammoth finds in east Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
SkyWest adds a flight at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Simpson bill would raise truck weight limits (TF Times News)
Builder cited on worker risks (TF Times News)

Eugene to stay in Lane ESD organization (Eugene Register Guard)
Sexual conduct code explored at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Several businesses burn at Harrisburg (Eugene Register Guard)
KF council okays police contract (KF Herald & News)
Mt Ashland Association cuts general manager (Ashland Tidings)
Ashland council holds off on utility fees (Ashland Tidings)
Examining the Medford school budget (Medford Tribune)
Campaign funds pouring in on GMO fight (Medford Tribune)
Hospital payments from police funds (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Democratic US House candidate Christofferson (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Portland firms dinged over hedge fund (Portland Oregonian)
AG says Cover Oregon can switch to feds (Salem Statesman Journal)
No Fukushima radiation in area kelp (Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem city council battle in south district (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bremerton pot license sells for $150k (Seattle Times, Bremerton Sun)
No one sought Monroe pot license (Everett Herald)
Agriculture master’s program launched at WSU (Kennewick Herald)
Pot lottery results released at Longview (Longview News)
Longview PUD revises payment plans (Longview News)
Grain elevator at Sequim faces action (Port Angeles News)
Clallam Auditor Rosand will retire (Port Angeles News)
Landslide risk found at busy campground (Seattle Times)
UW research equipment may move away from rails (Seattle Times)
Glitchy amber alert system in Washington (Tacoma News Tribune)
Salal Credit Union provides pot banking (Tacoma News Tribune)
Two Spokane council ethics issues dismissed (Spokane Spokesman)
Examining alternative teaching at Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)
TSA PreCheck program comes to Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


The passage of time has been good to him. His hair is now a distinguished white and there’s still plenty of it. His smile is still infectious, his voice still stentorian, his personality still charming, his intelligence obvious, and his ability to conduct solid political calculus still considerable.

Twenty-eight years ago he came within 3300 votes of being elected governor and knocking off the acknowledged heavy-weight champion, Cecil D. Andrus, in Andrus’ bid to return to the governorship after an absence of ten years.

Now 66, looking every inch the prosperous attorney he has become, he and I sat down recently over a three hour breakfast to catch up. It was just two old war-horses reminiscing, but both of us still feel youthful in spite of the challenges of advancing age.

I first became acquainted with David when I returned to Idaho in 1981 to accept appointment to the newly formed Northwest Power Planning Council following my service with Andrus at the Interior Department. Leroy was the Attorney General. We started jogging together over the noon hour.

We shared a common interest in Idaho history and politics. We both admired former governor and senator Len B. Jordan, and his wife, Grace. Though we had obvious political differences, I liked Leroy, even though he was one of the more calculating political personalities I’d encountered.

Many thought he was ruthlessly ambitious. Critics would point out details such as naming his daughter Jordan. Or they would cite his cultivation of the behind-the-scenes political power broker, Bill Campbell, a Boise insurance executive.

Or they would note his even then growing interest in President Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln connection to Idaho. The passage of time has proven that interest to be truly sincere. He and Nancy have spent thousands of dollars acquiring Lincoln memrobilia which they have generously donated to the state. Proving he can still give a heck of a speech, he has traveled the length and breadth of Idaho talking about Lincoln’s tie to Idaho.

When one jogs with another, you talk about a variety of topics from family matters to beliefs and you begin to recognize the outlines of one’s strengths as well as weaknesses. There also is an implicit sanctity of the confessional.

Suffice it to say, I discerned as a “weakness” in Leroy what others would see as a strength – he was, and still is, loyal to a fault. As the 1982 election loomed there were those urging Leroy to run for governor against John Evans. To do so, though, would mean Leroy would have to run over Phil Batt who many in the GOP felt had earned an uncontested shot at Evans.

Leroy knew the calculus well. Though a primary against Batt would have not been easy, as Attorney General he had more name identification than Batt, was younger, and could have won. His odds against Evans would have been 50/50.

When he asked my opinion, I simply said if he wanted to be governor he should make the move in 1982. If he waited until 1986, he would be up against Cece. Talented as he was, he would not beat Andrus. Leroy’s response was to be loyal to his party and to Batt. And he was. He instead ran and was elected Idaho’s 36th Lt. Governor in the fall of 1982.

Knowing then that Leroy was going to challenge the champion, I started much earlier than normal to round up key support for Andrus. When Leroy and campaign manager Helen Chenoweth (who handed David his only other campaign loss, a 1994 defeat in the Republican primary for the First Congessional District) met with Washington Water Power they discovered Andrus and I had locked up their support months earlier.

Still, Leroy ran the toughest race Andrus ever faced. He lost by 3300 votes. Under Idaho law he could have sought a recount. To his credit Leroy spared the taxpayers the expense and the uncertainty.

Four years later Leroy accepted an appointment from President George H.W. Bush to serve as the U. S. Nuclear Waste negotiator with Idaho. He returned to private practice in 1993.

As befits one for whom loyalty is all important, he returned recently from a Bush #41 birthday celebration at Texas A & M. He commented in passing that former Governor Jeb Bush gave some pretty good remarks.

If Jeb Bush is the GOP presidential nominee in 2016, I have a pretty good idea who will be his Idaho campaign coordinator.

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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)

Idahoans may be major fish eaters (Boise Statesman)
Otter critical of closed GOP primary (Lewiston Tribune)
Northwest and changing climate (Moscow News)
Battle for Ringo House seat (Moscow News)
Pullman deals with loss of no child exemption (Moscow News)
Nampa’s Dale may run for Canyon commission (Nampa Press Tribune)
New Bujak trial beginning (Nampa Press Tribune)
The GOP battle for state controller (Nampa Press Tribune)
Evaluating Bannock fair board battle (Pocatello Journal)
New Holiday Inn Express opens in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Sandpoint reviews sign ordinances (Sandpoint Bee)
Jerome okays canyon jump plan (TF Times News)
Gooding considers recall of school trustee (TF Times News)
McCain project delay worries potato farmers (TF Times News)

Corvallis parking plan heads toward finish (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Concerns about UO sex abuse investigation (Eugene Register Guard)
Criticisms arise of Klamath water deal (KF Herald & News)
Noonan farms plan reorganization (KF Herald & News)
Medical pot shop closes at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Restoration of Oxbow area flood plain (Pendleton East Oregonian)
The Wehby-Conger Senate contest (Portland Oregonian)
Child advocates at Salem losing staff (Salem Statesman Journal)
Climate change effects felt in region (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal)
Salem ward 2 race draws a battle (Salem Statesman Journal)

Oso will feature in land use court case (Everett Herald)
Possibility of WSU tuition freeze (Kennewick Herald)
Climate change effects felt in region (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Benton approves more staffing for jail (Kennewick Herald)
Under-free city councilor Franklin praised at meeting (Longview News)
Considering Olympic peninsula historic buildings (Port Angeles News)
Fishermen upset by steelhead agreement (Port Angeles News)
Big-money fighting on transport projects (Seattle Times)
Evaluating Spokane downtown renovation (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma chrter change may include strong mayor (Tacoma News Tribune)
What’s the DUI line on pot in WA? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver backs off air museum takeover plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima parks issue goes to November ballot (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

harris ROBERT


Powerful State Senator Richard Devlin may face a challenge in November after all. Though no Republicans filed for Senate District 19 (Lake Oswego, Tualatin, West Linn), Independent Party Member Rick Miller has formed a committee and has conducted polling to test the viability of an Independent candidacy.

SD-19 registrations are: Democratic 43%; Republican 31%, Non Affiliated 21%, Independent Party 5%.

In 2010 Devlin easily defeated Conservative Charter School advocate Mary Kremer (spouse of Republican right wing activist Rob Kremer), 55% to 45%. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the District is reliably Democratic.

Back in 2010 Republican Steve Griffith, who polling showed would have likely been a much tougher general election opponent for Devlin, was defeated in the 2010 Republican primary by Kremer. Griffith had a stellar resume of accomplishment, including serving as Chair of the Portland School Board. But his candidacy ran into the conservative buzz saw that is now standard Oregon Republican primary politics.

Absent a surprising write in campaign for the Republican nomination, there will be no one appearing on the ballot in November as a Republican.

If Millers polling is similar to Griffiths back in 2010 then a right of center moderate nominee of the Independent Party could result in a dynamic one on one general election.

Particularly if Miller is intent on devoting even a small portion of his abundant assets to the race. In 2010, Devlin spent over a million dollars to protect his seat, while Kremer spent about $280,000 challenging him. If Miller decides to run, then the resources should be much more equal. And this could be the most expensive Legislative race in the history of Oregon politics.

Which brings up one interesting issue – Will Senator Devlin and Mr. Miller actively seek to secure the Republican nomination through a write in campaign? It could make sense for Miller to secure the Republican nomination. Given Oregon’s cross nomination law, it would allow Miller the option – though not the requirement – of listing himself on the ballot as first an Independent, and secondly a Republican.

While Devlin would never include the Republican nomination on his ballot line, he may want to prevent Miller from listing both nominations. More remotely, Devlin may even recruit a Republican write in candidate to campaign for the Republican nomination. That would be a potentially fatal blow to Millers candidacy. If a Republican write in candidate does suddenly appear in the next week, look for Devlin supporters to be financing that candidacy. Of course, I’d recommend they save their treasure for the general election. It’s going to get expensive.

UPDATE: 3:42 PM 4/17/14: Willamette Week has a nice article with a statement from Miller. And, if you read the comments section, it looks like Democratic forces have already started their personal smear campaign.

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Harris Oregon

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Kevin Richert, who for more than a decade was one of the best editorial writers in Idaho, has a new bragging right. He’s also one of the Gem State’s reporters, earning the title of “Reporter of the Year” by the Idaho Press Club.

The award was richly deserved – and made more impressive by the fact that he beat out two high quality reporters from the Idaho Statesman, Sven Berg and Katy Moeller. It’s ironic that the top award goes to someone who does not work for the traditional print media. Idaho Education News is based online, but it’s the best place to find out what’s happening in education and Richert does a great job.

The Idaho Press Club also has proclaimed a new kingpin on the print side in the Treasure Valley. The Idaho Press-Tribune was given the top award for general excellence, beating out the Times-News of Twin Falls and the Idaho Statesman. That award is surprising, because the Press-Tribune was in the top three in only a a few categories. The Statesman, which has an outstanding reporting staff, has enough awards to decorate a wall. The Times-News also has a generous number of awards.

So, how does the Press-Tribune get first place and the Statesman get third? I suspect the difference is on the editorial page, which is the heart and soul of any newspaper. The Press-Tribune under Phil Bridges, another Statesman alum who is making good, produces editorials that are worth reading. At the Statesman, the in-house material on the editorial page is the newspaper’s weakest link.

No doubt, there are high fives going throughout the newsroom in Nampa. But I can’t take the Press-Tribune seriously for “general excellence” until it upgrades its political and Statehouse coverage. Nampa is Idaho’s second largest city, the politics in Canyon County are hot and heavy, and there’s no excuse to leaving coverage to a depleted Associated Press staff.

The top award in that editorial writing category went to Jon Alexander of the Times-News, who has shown that longevity is not the only criteria to producing quality material. Third place went to Michael O’Donnell with the Idaho State Journal, which over time has gone from one of the worst pages to one of the best.

Of course, no award in the editorial writing category would be complete without entries from Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune and Corey Taule of the Post-Register – who are two of my favorites. But neither they, nor their newspapers, submit entries for the Idaho Press Club awards.

Critics refer to Marty as “Shrillhaase,” but nobody has a greater passion for the job or deeper institutional knowledge about state politics. Corey has a more laid-back personality than Marty, but he’s not afraid to challenge the political establishment, which is what an editorial page is supposed to do.

My top three are Trillhaase, Alexander and Taule in that order. But Bridges and O’Donnell are not far behind. This Fab-Five gives Idaho a good variety of commentary.

I know, awards don’t tell everything about journalistic quality. In the few I’ve won, I thought the judges must have been some of the brilliant people ever born. When I’ve lost out, I questioned the judges’ ability to read and write.

But the awards serve a useful purpose, both on the print (the area in which I am more familiar) and the electronic sides. They give managers an indication of where their news operations are strong and where improvements are needed.

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Idaho Malloy


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)

Ruling ahead on Idaho same sex marriage rule (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Another Bujak trial gets underway (Boise Statesman)
Looking at race for state treasurer (IF Post Register)
Lewiston school board may take building to ballot (Lewiston Tribune)
Whitman Co still working on credit rating (Moscow News)
WA college tuition growing rapidly (Moscow News)
Otter campaigns through Latah County (Moscow News)
Census finds fewer farms but more acreage (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa plans stoplight changes (Nampa Press Tribune)
Children wandering off in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Building a Pocatello semi-pro baseball team (Pocatello Journal)
Flooding disaster called at Bingham Co (Pocatello Journal)
Working the details on TF canyon jump (TF Times News)
New Gooding school leader hired (TF Times News)
McCain Foods development at Burley ‘on pause’ (TF Times News)

OSU dismissed basketball coach Robinson (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
No sex assault charges for UO players (Eugene Register Guard)
Geothermal plant at Paisley this summer (KF Herald & News)
Juggling foster home availability (KF Herald & News)
Low supplies on gun ammo in area (KF Herald & News)
Ashland may raise utility rates (Ashland Tidings)
FAA still considering east Oregon drones (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Kitzhaber helps with heart attack (Portland Oregonian)
Trail blazers head to semi-finals (Portland Oregonian)

Snohomish slows land use planning for Oso (Everett Herald)
Bill Frank, tribal leader, dies (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Rattlesnake Mountain tours allowed by judge (Kennewick Herald)
Clallam development director inquiry done (Port Angeles News)
Boil keeps Nippon biomass firm closed (Port Angeles News)
Tuition rising fast at WA colleges (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver Council reviewing oil shipping (Vancouver Columbian)
New Clark commissioner hiring held off (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

murray minimum wage
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today announced the details of a broadly-supported plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, the highest of any major city in the nation. (Photo/Office of Mayor Murray.

Seattle’s move toward adopting a $15 minimum wage may have been the big news in the region last week, marking the adoption of a high wage in a major jurisdiction – in a state that already has the highest state minimum wage in the country. Expect aftershocks from that to ripple along in coming weeks.

Primary election day (or, in Oregon, mail-in deadlines) are fast approaching, and political campaigns in Oregon and Idaho are heating up. In Idaho, both incumbent and challenger in the governor’s race have gotten plenty vocal. And debates are continuing there this week.

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