Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Political parties draw their strength from organization. Political parties that win are those able to generate numbers on the ballots, and they don’t do that by osmosis.

They do it on ground level, through people working in their counties and neighborhoods, and representing their party too – putting a human face on them. These things may sound old-fashioned but they’re not: Just ask the hyperlocal Obama campaign of 2012, probably the best-organized political campaign ever.

That makes a headline from last week in the Pendleton East Oregonian, about a small meeting in a rural house out in small Morrow County, of some larger interest and maybe importance.

Morrow County is, politically, what you might expect. It is a small-population and rural county well east of the Cascades, with little tie to many of the interests that help staff and underwrite Democratic organizations in places like Portland. It is solidly Republican. In recent years Republican voter registration has run around 41% and Democratic has fluctuated around 28-31%. It routinely votes strongly for Republican candidates for major office and for the legislature.

That doesn’t mean morrow doesn’t have Democrats, but Republicans here have tended to do better than registration might suggest. One reason may be that Democrats here simply haven’t been organized. That isn’t a swipe at anyone; the East Oregonian said there’s not been a Morrow County Democratic organization for 22 years.

The news was that Greg Hall, a relatively new resident new Boardman, decided to do something about it. A former North Carolinian, accustomed to a Democratic party sometimes outvoted but never nonexistent, he filed on September 5 to form one. Then he called for an organization meeting at his rural house early this month.

The article held a focus on Hall as he waited for people to arrive, and began to wonder if anyone would.

They did, no great crowd but a substantial number.
From the East Oregonian: “Every person who arrived was Hispanic. Because Morrow County is 36% Hispanic, according to the 2012 census, Hall hopes to find unregistered Hispanic voters to gain ground in an established Republican stronghold.”

They start, of course, from an underdog position; they’re not going to outnumber Republicans in this county any time soon. Nor is this going to change the social sea water in this county.

But activity like this is where it starts: With county officers and precinct leaders, who in turn can bring into play people who hadn’t been involved in politics before. From one voice in the county, you move to two; from non-competitive you may move, over time, to competitive.

And change is made.

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Oregon Oregon column

news

Again, the top stop of the day was Idaho’s struggle over gay marriage, and how the elimination of the same-sex marriage ban by the 9th Circuit Court was put on hold by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. the stories also told how word of Kennedy’s stay hit courthouses just as they opened for business in the morning, and the word arrived so close to the initial applications that one couple in Twin Falls County actually walked away with a marriage license before issuance stopped.

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)

Idaho gay marriage ban stays, for now (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Another look at higher tuition at BSU (Boise Statesman)
Rexburg July flood victims blaming city (IF Post Register)
Overview of state treasurers campaign (IF Post Register)
Idaho County asks to cut more wood (Lewiston Tribune)
Legislators urge change on teacheer certification (TF Times News)

Benton schools slip a bit in rankings (Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene will consider marijuana tax (Eugene Register Guard)
Whole Foods seeks some Eugene city wivers (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath research district needs petitions (KF Herald & News)
Timber acreage sold by JWTR to Green Diamond (KF Herald & News)
New studies set for Emigrant Lake (Medford Tribune)
Medford area schools improve in state report (Medford Tribune)
PacifiCorp asks to add renewables to mix (Pendleton E Oregonian)
VP Biden campaigns for Merkley (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
State schools report shows general improvement (Portland Oregonian)
Marion Co child report shows poor numbers (Salem Statesman Journal)

California company plans 2 WA mental hospitals (Bremereton Sun)
Kilmer critizes military per diem cut plan (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbrige rejects police, sheriff center combo (Bremerton Sun)
Oso homeowners can get financial help (Everett Herald)
State may update distracted driving laws (Olympian)
Supreme Court will consider Amazon pay case (Seattle Times)
Mercer businesses hit in e coli scare (Seattle Times)
Gay marriage in Idaho halted again (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane Co will pay 350K in jail lawsuit (Spokane Spokesman)
Lewis-McChord airmen fly ebola missions (Tacoma News Tribune)
Judge rejects order on jailed mentally ill (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark Co computers damaged by water (Vancouver Columbian)
More lights planned for Snoqualmie Pass (Yakima Herald Republic)

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