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Posts published in “Day: July 18, 2014”

The nature of the debate

idaho RANDY

Debates are about perceptions, and the two gubernatorial candidates at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association debate hit in that hard enough. Both were a little hamstrung, but not barred from pitching their case.

The core case that Republican state Representative Dennis Richardson made against Governor John Kitzhaber was not one that this very conservative (in the conventional sense of the term) might have been expecting to make. It was not at all ideological: Instead, he described the governor as detached, disinterested, too often not showing up, “not tuned in to governing.”

“The first principle of leadership is showing up,” Richardson said near the start of the debate, and said near the end, “Our governor no longer has the passion to serve . . . The governor has been AWOL, and when he's here has been distracted.”

He did not make any strong suggestion of a basic, fundamental change in direction, limiting his areas of dispute to more specific ideas – Kitzhaber's handling of Cover Oregon or aspects of his support for the Columbian River Crossing bridge, for example, rather than the overall need for action on health care or bridge infrastructure. He almost seemed – whether it was the case or not – to have conceded those issues. On the subject of legalizing marijuana, he sidestepped completely, saying only that he would enforce whatever law Oregon voters passed; it fell to Kitzhaber to say that he would vote against the measure (and, like his opponent, try to learn from Washington's experience and enforce whatever the voters ordered).

He did not, as most Republicans would, blast away at the idea of big government, even to the extent that Kitzhaber's last opponent, Chris Dudley, did.
Richardson is known as a philosophically-oriented conservative, and won his seat in the legislature originally on that basis, but in a day of sharply-drawn philosophical lines, almost none emerged here. He seemed to stake his gubernatorial bid on the idea that Kitzhaber has been phoning in his job as governor, even pointing out more than once that he's been in Salem a minority of the time.
That may not be an easy sell, and Kitzhaber's de facto response was telling. He did not specifically say that he still had a passion for the job or worked hard at it, which would have sounded weak and would have simply repeated Richardson's argument.

Instead, he pointed to the things he has done, over a third term in which the length of large-scale accomplishments – from education reorganization, health care policy, PERS changes and many more items – is quite long. And he could, and did, point out that he had Republican support (including, in several key places, Richardson's) in doing those thing.

Kitzhaber's best piece was his closing, when he describes, after falling short on several objectives in the 2013 legislative session, he spent months traveling around the state crafting a legislative package which, in three days last fall, passed in spectacular fashion. It was an effective rebuttal to the notion of a passive or disinterested governor.
Both said they supported open primary elections, ad Richardson even said he saw a benefit in the tendency to press candidates on both sides toward the electoral middle.

In one place, Richardson called for a truly massive government project I've never heard anyone else propose: “A freeway from Coos Bay to Burns to Ontario.” (The price tag on that would be interesting to read.)

Interestingly, Richardson never bore in specifically on the matter of Kitzhaber's long tenure of what would 16 years in the state's top office if he wins. He suggested only that he would do it better.
With one major exception, one place where he specifically sounded more clearly like a conservative Republican.

That concerned federal lands, which amounted to 53% of Oregon. Kitzhaber, who dryly noted that “I don't think the feds are going to hand over control of federal lands,” spoke with some optimism about “federal forest management reform.” In this area, Richardson said he would press for exactly that, a turning over of federal lands to the state: With like-minded governors, he said, “I will lead that charge, I will be in Washington. D.C.”

That much formed a basis of a major policy difference between the candidates. How far it sells in the more populated sectors of Oregon may be another question – as is whether it constitutes a argument for firing John Kitzhaber.

Facts more than balance

rainey BARRETT


A small, informal discussion has started in some media circles - the first quiet conversations about a most basic journalistic tenet - balance. Balance in coverage of the news. Balance in representing all sides. Balance to assure fairness. The discussion is long overdue. It’ll call for judgments and - for that reason - there’ll probably never be a satisfactory solution.

There isn’t much left of the days of really responsible journalism - the professional output that was traditionally expected and - for the most part - traditionally produced. Given more than one side to any story, efforts were made to present all. That, of course, was in the days before “gotcha” journalism, reporters mixing opinion with reporting and the need to report otherwise worthless B.S. that fills too many pages and far too much airtime.

The most recent stimulus for this self-examination is climate change. Yep, simple as that. Or, if you will, as complex as that. With the preponderance of scientific evidence that such change is happening all around us and our world is already the poorer for it, some news organizations are asking how much time - how much ink - should be given those who deny both the science and the reality. What is the media responsibility for reporting the scientific facts accepted by the overwhelming majority of experts, then giving time and ink to the distinct minority denying reality? Denying fact?

It’s long been said the media should just report the facts and let those facts speak for themselves. I buy that. But when what’s on the front pages and what’s leading the nightly news contains no factual merit - climate change denials - irresponsible and baseless impeachment ranting - conspiracy claims without proof - phony stunts of one branch of government to sue another - what facts are being reported? Where does news start and “Entertainment Tonight” end?

Take the climate change story, for example. One very significant fact is that the chairman of the House Science Committee is a climate change denier and flat-earther who loudly proclaims his ignorance by telling all who’ll listen the earth is just 6,000 years old and man lived with dinosaurs. Why is that not reported with such a repetitive assault that he and half a dozen other “deniers” on that important panel are removed? This nation and the world needs strong, responsible and effective political leadership to deal with the terrible realities of climate change. But the power to do that is in the hands of idiots - a distinct and irresponsible minority - who’re blocking attempts to deal legitimately with facts that - ignored much longer - could end our world. Why? (more…)

On the front pages


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)

Boise library changes may be ahead (Boise Statesman)
Southern Idaho fires growing fast (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Commercial gas producers push ahead at Payette (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Phone scam imitates IRS (IF Post Register)
Problems come from Lewiston's Internet outage (Lewiston Tribune)
Republican Party fight hits courtroom (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello water, sewer rates rise (Pocatello Journal)
Magic Reservoir will shut off early (TF Times News)
Fire prevention methods to be discussed (TF Times News)

Springfield mill leveled by fire (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT basketball coach leaves in two years (KF Herald & News)
Fires grow, declared an emergency (KF Herald & News)
A look behind recent food stamp fraud (KF Herald & News)
Jackson library district raises taxes (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Battle over closed pot dispensary (Ashland Tidings)
Gas plant at Arlington will double capacity (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Looking at KF food stamp fraud (Portland Oregonian)
Massive cuts in Microsoft work force (Portland Oregonian)
The case of Casey Runyan and his rap sheet (Salem Statesman Journal)

Supreme Court: gun owner not liable for child shooting (Bremerton Sun)
Boat launch approved for Point No Point (Bremerton Sun)
Big wildlifes at large in eastern WA (Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Reviewing Snohomish County executive race (Everett Herald)
Just 8.65% in WA are medically uninsured (Kennewick Herald)
Pot shops searching for supply (Longview News)
Good grow season for lavender at peninsula (Port Angeles News)
Clallam Commission candidates at debate (Port Angeles News)
Massive cuts at Microsoft (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark job offer relating to charter? (Vancouver Columbian)