Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: November 1, 2017”

Competition in the 5th?

carlson

Cathy McMorris Rodgers doesn’t know it yet, but she is in for the fight of her political life to turn aside the challenge from former Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. The former Eastern Washington University professor of economics is smart, tough, tenacious, fearless, hard-working, politically sophisticated, and plays to win.

Recently married and also retired from her position as Chancellor of the WSU-Spokane campus, where she was one of the leaders in bringing a medical school to Spokane, Brown thought her years of public service were at an end. The more she read about the divisive policies being embraced by President Donald Trump, and the more she saw Spokane’s member of Congress, McMorris Rodgers, blindly endorse policies punitive to the middle class and the poor while helping the top 1% accumulate even more wealth, the more she felt the call of continued public service.

Brown believes McMorris Rodgers has got caught up in the national issues swirling around the nation’s capitol and seldom pays attention any more to the needs of the district. She points to the passage of the 2014 Farm Act Reauthorization and contends the Fifth District Congresswoman was AWOL, that she wasn’t a player, and knew next to nothing about proposed changes in farm policy.

She says it is a well known fact that lobbyists for the various ag groups by-passed McMorris Rodgers and instead worked with and through the office of Washington’s senior U.S. senator, Patty Murray.

Brown is quick to point out that she is running on a platform that stresses the successes she has had in bringing people together, forging compromises and producing solutions. She believes she will work harder and listen better than the incumbent.

She knows Democrats will try to make the election a national referendum on President Trump , but she says she is running a positive race related to providing better representation in Congress. She intends to stress ways to expand the economic pie by growing the economy and cites her Ph.D in economics from the University of Colorado as giving her a leg up on economic issues.

She will continue to be a strong advocate for education and for common sense environmental protections, she says, as she has done her entire career.

She fully expects Republicans to run an independent campaign against her that will try to label her as a liberal, outsider, a sympathizer with the Sandinista movement in Central America many years back, anti-gun rights, pro-abortion and a Hillary Clinton clone.

She’s not worried as she knows facts belie many of these deliberate distortions and knows that once people have the facts in hand their vote will not be fear-driven. She points out that she grew up in a rural Illinois community and that her father taught her the proper use off firearms.

She understands that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion establishing the qualified right of individuals to own firearms at the same time also reinforced the right of government for the common good to restrict firearms from being brought to public gathering places such as schools, courthouses and arenas.

She has no intention to get sucked into debate over divisive social issues but intends to stay focused on economic and service issues.

She feels there are residual good memories of her service as a State Representative and State Senator representing the Third District that will help her. She also knows that Spokane is becoming increasingly a Democratic-leaning community.

She hopes McMorris Rodgers will agree to several debates and joint appearances where she feels her knowledge of the issues will be much better than the incumbent’s and voters will see the kind of difference that will cause them to recognize that it is in their best interest to retire Cathy and elect Lisa.

Open doors

stapiluslogo1

The raft of sexual harassment charges lately has mattered but it also has been hamstrung, in some ways, by a lack of specifics.

Not that most of us would want to wallow in them. But it's hard to judge what happened, case by case, without knowing more than, in most cases, we do.

Does sexual harassment - at least, as we've defined it (roughly) in recent years - exist? Absolutely. Is it common? It is certainly, at least, not rare. We've seen or heard of enough specifics recently in enough cases to establish that much conclusively. A good number of these cases would be considered harassment or worse by nearly anyone in modern society, and shouldn't be tolerated, and repercussions should be serious.

There's a catch, though: They're not all exactly the same. Is a violent rape exactly the same as a leering come-on - sans any follow-up physical activity - in a hotel room? Both could be considered harassment, neither (in the kinds of contexts we've been hearing about lately, where there's a power imbalance between the people involved) should be tolerated, but the degrees surely are different. How do we address that?

I have no easy or immediate answer. It does however become a pressing matter when action has to be taken.

One answer though in many cases probably is to redress, at least to a degree, the power imbalance that creates many of the problems. Often the real underlying problem (as in the hotel scenario) is the fact that one of the people in the room has a big hammer over the head of the other. Were that not the case, the problem in some cases might be lessened, or (in the absence of an actual physical attack) might go away.

The Weinstein Company did that to its namesake Harvey by removing him from all power positions in the organization and then firing him. That's one way to handle it.

Then there's the case of Jeff Kruse, the Oregon state senator (R-Roseburg) who has been accused of "ongoing workplace issues."

This one is a little more complicated. Kruse was quoted as saying, "I have never done anything that I believe anybody could portray as being sexual. And it's never been my intention and never will be."

That's countered by state Senator Sara Gelser, "another female senator and one other woman who works at the Capitol [who] have reported to legislative officials that Kruse touched them inappropriately. But the exact nature of those three women's complaints has been kept confidential. Gelser said she should not have to spell out exactly what she says transpired in order to be believed."

No, of course she shouldn't have to spell out anatomical detail to be believed. But what is it exactly that Kruse is said to have done, other than that it was "inappropriate"? Where on the scale does it fall? What does that indicate about an appropriate response, or penalty? It's a little difficult for most of us to know how to assess the situation knowing no more than that.

Presumably, Senate President Peter Courtney does have more specific information; he would know at least what legislative staffers have found, likely in detail. And his actions were definitive. He took away Kruse's committee assignments (which as any legislator in Oregon or elsewhere will tell you, is taking away most of their ability to influence legislation). And he did something else of both symbolic and practical effect: He had the door to Kruse's office removed (see the picture), leaving the office permanently open.

That does have the effect of reducing power imbalanced and of diminishing hidden corners where unfortunate incidents may occur. It may in fact, as he suggested, support the idea of keeping the legislature as a safe working space.

It gives us an indicator as to the seriousness of what's happening. But it's still hard to know without knowing more.