Writings and observations

harris ROBERT


We know that the Oregon Republican Party is in financial crisis. Not necessarily individual candidates or officials, many had well funded campaigns and were able to raise money and had money spent on their behalf by independent expenditure organizations.

But the Republican Party of Oregon itself has done little in the way of fundraising or candidate support. Here is some data from ORESTAR for December, 2014. And while the graph above displays cash balance, just as important is the data on money raised and money spent in support of organization and candidates. If the GOP had raised and spent $2,000,000, their cash balance wouldn’t be concerning.

PARTY 2014 Income 2014 Expenses Current Cash

Democratic $ 2,359,768 $2,328.974 $ 148,201
Republican $22,436 $29,836 $ 600
Independent $15,553 $11,050 $15,562

Of course each county has a local Democratic and Republican Party. Perhaps the Republican focused their party building efforts locally? A spot check of the larger counties dispels that theory.

The Multnomah and Washington County Democratic Party organizations combined raised $131,133, spent $180,148 and were left with a cash balance of $82,198.

The Clackamas and Washington County Republican Party organizations combined raised $38,884, spent $60,670 and had a cash balance of $12,167. So while the local Republican Parties did provide more candidate support than the State organization, they still trailed the local Democratic Organizations badly and don’t come close to providing the type of candidate support that the Democratic State Party provided.

Do State Parties still matter? Today campaigns can be run separate from the Party so do these stark differences mean anything? Dark money groups and individual expenditure committees funded by wealthy individuals and corporate interests can and do finance individual candidates. But that strategy takes a toll on central organization and the ability to build a coherent brand, strategy and volunteer base. And the drawback of candidates going it alone is that their party is abandoned to the most active and partisan volunteers. Without adequate funding and investment by the candidates and party financiers, a Party’s brand can be hijacked by narrowly focused interest groups with a zealous agenda. And if the brand is tarnished in the minds of 60% of the voters, candidates in swing districts will be more harmed than helped by association with the Party.

Of course this could be a chicken and egg question for the Oregon GOP. Did the financiers abandon support for a centralized Republican Party because of zealous over reach by Party activists? Or did the zealous activists simply fill a void left when the financiers decided they could have more influence and control by more directly funding individual candidates. And if its the latter, can the Oregon GOP donors rebuild the brand by focusing on statewide party building efforts rather than individual candidates?

Regardless, there is currently no organization that adequately represents Oregon voters who are more economically conservative than the Democratic Party base, but more socially liberal than the GOP base. That void is evidenced by the boom of the independent voter movement and by studies that show both the Democratic and Republican Parties become more polarized and partisan. Whether the Independent Party of Oregon can fill that void and actively recruit and help finance candidates in Oregon Swing districts could be answered by the amount of funding it is able to attract between now and 2016, when its candidates will be appearing on the May primary ballot with the big kids.

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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)

Challis area earthquake swarm reported Monday (Boise Statesman)
Wave of package thefts on Christmas Eve in Palouse (Moscow News)
Magnida, ConAgra agree on new American Falls plant (Boise Statesman, Pocatello Journal)

Review of new laws effective January 1 (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing 2014 environmental stories (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing Olympia’s Quixote Village for homeless (Olympian)
Carbon emissions in WA falling (Olympian)
Baby Jesis stolen from capitol nativity scene (Olympian)
IRS sues Ballmer, others over Microsoft taxes (Seattle Times)
Supreme Court throws out charges in Clemmons case (Tacoma News Tribune)

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First Take



I have told this story every year since 1991 first because it happened, and second because there has to be someone else out there who can relate to it.

Christmas was the best kind of adventure for us kids. Growing up on the east coast of Vancouver Island, in a small coal-mining, fishing and pulp town, Christmas meant a blizzard-backed trip down-island over the Malahat Pass to Mecca, which went by the very English name of Victoria.

I cringe now at what the drive must have meant to my folks. It was like going over Camel’s Hump in the dead of winter, packed with traffic. But to us kids it was plain high excitement.

I had been to Disneyland and I had been to Victoria. They did not compare. Disneyland had paper mache mountains and long lines, but Victoria had teak and brass, the Empress Hotel, the Crystal Gardens, the ship’s chandlers, a wax museum and the roundabout.

It had also T. Eaton, Simpson-Sears, and the Hudson Bay Company, plus a place where you could buy Spode china, and a Wilson’s, which meant pure English wool and tweed.

Most important to kids growing up in a one-storey town, Victoria had escalators and elevators. I realize that kids nowadays require a Mario Brothers distraction, but for Marc and me those moving stairs, and the little brass-trimmed rooms with the sliding doors that went up and down between floors, beat the socks off anything Disneyland had to offer.

Our parents parked us on the Hudson Bay Co. escalators, with a rendezvous time an hour later. Off they went to do serious Christmas shopping. So did we. This was my first big year for buying Christmas presents. I had dough. The source of my income was a newspaper route, which paid $4 per month. I had saved two months’ pay. Serious cabbage.

Ditching my younger brother, I cruised the Hudson Bay Co. from basement to top floor. When you are 8 or so, and a boy, your mother is the most romantic figure in your life. I sought something for her so sweet and so feminine that she would remember my remembrance forever. Zeroing in on the perfume deck, a new world of love and excitement unveiled itself to me. I sniffed all the bottles and all the spritzes, and after a good half-hour’s study, lit upon one. Its scent surpassed that of Butchart’s Gardens in bloom, or even the elegant leathery odor of a Trans-Canada Airlines DC-3. It was sweet, wonderful: her.

I peeled $3 off my wad of wealth, had the bottle gift-wrapped, and secreted it away in my coat pocket until Christmas Eve, when I laid it under the tree. I remember that Christmas Eve, not because it was the first one of my tender young life that I lain awake all night. Those come before conscious memory.

This Christmas Eve was special, its anticipation of a different sort. I could not sleep because I could not await Mom’s delighted reaction to the beauty and excellence of the gift I had purchased for her.
I had discovered giving.

And when on Dec. 25, 1959, mom tugged the wrappers off my precious gift, this bottle of Old Spice men’s aftershave lotion, her smile did not miss a beat. I learned, though did not know it until years later, that the best acting in the world is never recognized with an Oscar. Happy holidays, and may all your Christmases smell as good as our house did that day.

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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)

Not many store shootings in Idaho (Boise Statesman)
INL heavily involved in cybersecurity (IF Post Register)

Local theaters show “Interview” (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath commissioners on God and gun control (KF Herald & News)
Inmates barred from Pendleton projects (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Department Human Services hit by judgements (Salem Statesman Journal)

YMCA buys land for building at Stanwood (Everett Herald)
Baur reviews years as prosecutor (Longview News)
Two-year budget passed at Longview (Longview News)
Local theaters running Independent (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Lewis-McChord unit upsizes for overseas (Tacoma News Tribune)
Mild weather expected for holidays (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

strickland MICHAEL


“If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me.” Kyle Wiens in the Harvard Business Review.

While Idaho’s job market is slowly improving, the buzz around the Treasure Valley is still filled with stories of unemployment and underemployment. A business grammar course in the College of Western Idaho’s Business Partnerships /Workforce Development program suggests a way you can get an edge.

“Clear communication is the foundation for success in the business world, and grammar mistakes create barriers to this communication,” reads the introduction to the CWI student manual for the training. The consensus among teachers, scholars and grammarians is that clarity and correctness have taken a nosedive in the “information age.”

Employers often peruse Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages of job applicants that are filled with spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and textspeak. This is one of the quickest ways for a candidate to seal their own job rejection. According to Time, out of the 70 percent of hiring managers who utilize social media profiles to gather more information regarding an applicant — one-third have declined on candidates due to “poor communication skills.”

“The employer is more apt to question your professionalism if you show a pattern of misspelled words… or your commentary seems rash, uninformed or non-cohesive,” said Jennifer Grasz, a CareerBuilder spokeswoman.

According to John Stodder in the Idaho Business Review, CEOs have reported that “people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing.”

“If they can’t punctuate, if they can’t make a coherent sentence, then they are not, in my opinion, what we’re looking for,” says Thomas Anderson, director of HR at the Houston Community College System. “If they don’t punctuate properly, you get a sense that’s the way they probably write all the time.”

Virtual yelling is another eye sore, or more succinctly, an ear sore. According to Anderson, skipping over caps lock is social media etiquette 101, so if an applicant doesn’t seem to realize this, HR managers will assume he or she lacks “serious knowledge” in basic social skills.
Abbreviations can also cause you trouble. According to Time, textspeak can be “a turn-off for hiring managers if your conversations on social networks are riddled with this kind of short hand.”

You can beat the trend. The Economic Times reported that “many employers are likely to hire the candidate if they find on social media platform that the individual’s background supported their professional qualifications, their personality was clearly a good fit within the company culture.” had great communication skills, is creative and has wide range of interests, among others.”

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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)

New Boise police chief to stay on track (Boise Statesman)
2 wolves spotted in Asotin County Lewiston Tribune)
Free clinic in Lewiston stretched for resources (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho owes more than $400k lawyer bills in marriage case (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
Caldwell may soon widen 21st Avenue (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bogus Basin prepares for opening (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pebble Creek skiing area opens (Pocatello Journal)

Highway 101 reopens from flooding (Eugene Register Guard)
New architect for Medford fire station (Medford Tribune)
Harkenrider ends 54 years on Hermiston council (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fish/wildlife using drones to gather data (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon electronic recycling will accept more (Salem Statesman Journal)

An aircraft carrier heads to scrap yard (Bremerton Sun)
Koster bounced from Snohomish ombudsman job (Everett Herald)
Chief deputy prosecutor at Cowlitz dismissed (Longview News)
KapStone and union keep on talking (Longview News)
Federal court banning jail waits for mentally ill (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Three more pot stores okayed near Tacoma (Olympian)
Deadline for health insurance arrives (Seattle Times, Olympian)
Tunnel work expected to end 2 years late (Seattle Times)
Spokane downtown seeing high tech light show (Spokane Spokesman)
Inslee will appointent new legislator (Tacoma News Tribune)
New sheriff takes over in Clark
Land trust gains 3000 acres near Mt St Helens (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS


It always comes as a surprise, though it should not, when one sees “a man with a collar,” prove he is as fallible as the rest of us mere mortals, capable of misleading conduct and apparently as misguided by “the end justifies the means” philosophy as any other rudderless politician.

Such is the case with Archbishop Blasé Cupich, late of the Spokane diocese and the new Archbishop of Chicago.

In a recent article in the Spokesman-Review, the Archbishop impugns the integrity of Father Steve Dublinski, the current pastor at St. Augustine’s. This good priest served faithfully and well as the Vicar General (in effect, the chief operating officer for the Spokane diocese) for the past 12 years, first for Bishop William Skylstad and then for the Archbishop.

Anyone who knows, or has met or has worked with Father Steve knows he is a person whose integrity and commitment to truth and justice is above questioning and beyond reproach. He is devoted to the truth and the mission of the diocese.

Even if one does not know Father Steve, his action in resigning speaks volumes for him. It should be clear that such a resignation was an act of conscience on his part. It took courage to publicly split with the Bishop. It should also be obvious that the reason for Father Dublinski resigning as Vicar General was his refusal to go along with Cupich’s lawsuit for malpractice against the diocese’s outside legal counsel, the venerable Paine, Hamblen law firm.

If one reads carefully the article that appeared on December 16th in which Cupich is trying to undo the damage done to the diocese’ alleged case against the law firm, Cupich never denies having said to Vicar General Dublinski that he would “just throw some mud against the wall and see what sticks.

Rather, he says he never directed his lawyers to throw mud and see what sticks. It is a classic misdirection ploy that in the process has him implicitly questioning Father Steve’s integrity. This is simply outrageous and an insult to our intelligence. Ask yourself what would Father Steve gain by resisting Cupich’s apparent pressure to be supportive of his desires in this matter?

In filing his lawsuit for malpractice, Cupich was obviously hoping that the diocese would win and be able to collect $4 million in damages from the firm’s liability insurance carrier.

We’re all too familiar with that gambit – we’ve all heard the plaint “It’s not the people we’re suing that will pay, it’s their insurance company.” The implication is those sued shouldn’t care because someone else will pay for the damages.

So what if in the process one trashed the reputation of a venerable law firm’s attorneys, not to mention one of the diocese’ fine priests as well as his distinguised predecessor, Bishop William Skylstad? One cannot help thinking that Archbishop Cupich must view this in terms of what the military calls unfortunate collateral damage.

As an aside, the diocesan interim administrator, Father Mike Savaleski, has a moral obligation to step forward to make sure the diocesan family knows that he was the lead negotiator for the Association of Parishes with plaintiff attorneys who hammered out the future claims section of the Diocesan Plan of Reorganization.

Somehow we always expect more from those that wear collars. We really shouldn’t. Cupich may mouth the new vocabulary of Pope Francis, but his actions belie his words. I may feel he is ethically-challenged but others may find no fault with his conduct.

At the end of the day, though, one does not have to know either Father Dublinski or Archbishop Cupich to know which is the one who has acted with devotion to integrity and the truth. Father Dublinski’s conscience is clear. I have to believe the Archbishop’s conscience at best is cloudy.

There’s an old expression the Archbishop should remember: Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

(Chris Carlson is the former long-time press secretary to Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus, a parishioner at St. Augustine’s, and is privileged to fly fish with Father Dublinski on occasion.)

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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)

Nuclear waste outgo held up at INL (Boise Statesman)
Inslee caught up in local levy variances (Moscow News)
Survey on dowtown Caldwell at C of I students (Nampa Press Tribune)
Questions arise about instant racing at Les Boise (Nampa Press Tribune)
Illnesses leading to more school absenteeism (TF Times News)

Highway 101 still closed by flooding (Eugene Register Guard)
Portland officials still battling over Mt Tabor (Portland Oregonian)
Attorney general shows list of bad charities (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard utility rates may rise (Bremerton Sun)
Snohomish ombudsman Koster apologizes on unions (Everett Herald)
Local officials call paving Mountain Loop road (Everett Herald)
Inslee not addressig school levy variance (Tacoma News Tribune, Longview News, Olympian)
Veterans Administration hiring more docs (Olympian)
Traffic getting much worse on I-405 (Seattle Times)
Frontier Airlines leaves Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)

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First Take

idaho RANDY

In 2016, Governor Jay Inslee will be up for a re-election that, presumably, he will be pursuing.
In 2015, he will be presenting (well, sort of already last week presented) a budget and legislative package that would have to rank as one of the most ambitious of recent years.

The headlines on four of his press releases from last week all by themselves give some of the flavor: “Inslee proposes sustainable, responsible, fair budget to ‘reinvest in Washington’;” “Inslee announces slate of proposals to curb pollution, transition Washington to cleaner sources of energy”; “Gov. Inslee calls for comprehensive statewide transportation program,” “Inslee proposes boldest new efforts in improving full continuum of education in 2 decades.”

He does this at a time when Republicans have come back into outright control of the state Senate, and Democrats maintain only the thinnest control of the state House. The Republican response to Inslee’s push is about what you might expect: Good luck with that.”

At this point, the probable outcome is that Inslee does push through a small number of relatively uncontroversial measures, but that most of them go no further.

Facing with this kind of situation, most governors (of whichever party) faced with a similar situation might tack toward the cautious and basic. Why simply offer a batch of proposals likely to get shot down, unceremoniously, in the legislature? (And yes, that
mostly does seem to be the likely result.)

The best answer that comes immediately to mind is that Inslee is planning to campaign for re-election in 2016on a package that looks a lot like this year’s budget proposal.

While the proposal package may have trouble at the statehouse, it might not make a bad basis for a campaign message and rationale, as well as forming a platform to running against the legislature as well as whatever Republican opponent solidifies. It may sink rather quickly in the next few months, but there seems to be a good chance it will re-emerge in 2016.

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Washington Washington column


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 gets health cre improvement grant (Boise Statesman)
INL at work on clean energy options (Boise Statesman)
Nuclear waste shipments at INL held up (IF Post Register)
Idaho agriculture hit by shipping slowdowns (IF Post Register)
What happens next with Idaho school broadband? (IF Post Register)
Breakout cows reaptured by meat processor (Pocatello Journal)
Newer churches under construction (Pocstello Journal)
Predator derby continues on track (TF Times News)

UO was a big subject in the news in Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Group finds illegal road in Crater Lake park (KF Herald & News)
Klamath still searching for new airline (KF Herald & News)
Oregon help for addicts a flawed system (Portland Oregonian)
Flooding possible in Salem area (Salem Statesman Journal)

Harrison hospital leader looks at transition (Bremerton Sun)
Puget Sound hit by dirty runoff (Everett Herald)
Longview city manager prepares to depart (Longview News)
Mount Rainier wearing away with climate change (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Publisher at Olympian will retire (Olympian)
Looking at orca die off (Seattle Times)
Military equipment goes to small police offices (Seattle Times)
The complexities of Spokane medical school growth (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislator/county commission at the same time (Vancouver Columbian)
Gorge Commission limited by funding (Vancouver Columbian)
Nitrate polling foundin Yakima valley (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take