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The return of the Citizens Guide

Idaho Citizens Guide
Sample pages from the Citizens Guide 





 

The timing seems right, in a new political era when there's too often not agreement about facts - a time when, as we may hold varying opinions as a matter of judgment, we no longer seem to be drawing from the same well of common information. This book, in the case of Idaho at least, is an attempt at pulling together a common well of information - data, at least, and some reasonably well informed perspective.

Three of us - Mark Stubbs, James Weatherby and myself - wrote the Idaho Citizens Guide in 1999 (it has been in preparation for a while before that), and we had no trouble agreeing on the facts of the matter, the matter being Idaho government, politics, special interests, civic involvement and related subjects. Stubbs, now practicing law in Utah, was a conservative Republican state representative from Twin Falls, just off the campaign trail running for the Republican nomination to a U.S. House seat. Weatherby was a professor of public affairs at Boise State University, and previously a lobbyist and executive director of the state's cities association. I had been a newspaper reporter and editor, and was publishing books and periodicals on Northwest government and politics.

We had three very distinctive world views (still do), and our value judgments differed. But as to the facts of how Idaho government, politics and society generally actually in fact operated, we complemented each other but disagreed virtually not at all. We drew from the same well of information.

The result was a book that, we thought, would be useful to anyone thinking about (or already) active in Idaho's civic life. It offered a guide to what all the pieces were, what the terminology was, how things happened.

We got some solid backing, from ex-governors from both political parties. Cecil Andrus: “You can’t read the Idaho Citizens Guide without increasing your knowledge enormously … I anticipate that it will become a standard reference volume in the libraries of every school, community, government office, elected official and campaign headquarters.” Phil Batt: “As a long-time Idaho businessman, I also appreciate the need of citizens to be able to understand their government and how to get things done. The Citizens Guide can help.”

It ran somewhat over 350 pages. We sold some copies, and then it dropped from sight, and has been effectively out of print for about a decade.

That is what we're reissuing now - well, to be available next week. With a few minor alterations (the original included some maps of the Statehouse that would only confuse since the recent remodeling there), we've returned the book to publication as it was then.

There are a few pieces out of date. Some government agencies, not many, have been reorganized, for example. But in reading through it, what you find is that the well of facts now is very much like the well of facts then.

If you're thinking of getting active in Idaho in some way, even to the point of voting, the Citizens Guide would be a good place to start to get yourself well informed.

“Idaho Needs Poets More Than Judges”

Byron Johnson

Originally, Byron Johnson's Poetic Justice was going to be just a private memoir, intended to consumption for family and friends. (We still have a spiral-bound copy of that version, not drastically different in content from the new one.)

A good thing for the state that he decided otherwise, and the title of this post - taken from the title of one of the poems strewn through this book - suggests why. Poetic Justice doesn't read like the brief of a former Supreme Court just, probably because Johnson was an unusual justice, and an unusual Idahoan, and much of what he has to say the state should hear.

The book was released last week, and its release event drew around 100 people including justices, politicians, activists and people of widely varied description. The variety suggests a writer who has lived several different lives, and Johnson has.

He was a Boise attorney, regarded highly enough that though in solo practice he was chosen for a seat on the Idaho Supreme Court - not a common happening. He was a political figure, a Democrat in Boise when there were few Democrats in Boise, and a Democratic candidate for the Senate (in 1972) when that was very much an upstream swim. (He wasn't elected.) He worked in some extraordinary service to Idaho history (notably in Idaho City) along the way. When he left the court (he set something of a revived precedent in serving out his term rather than resigning midway, letting voters choose his replacement), he was asked what he would do next, and initially answered: Whatever I choose to. When that didn't suffice, he said he planned to write poetry. And so he has.

You can read this memoir for some useful background in recent Idaho politics and law, and those of us absorbed in such things will relish that. But what's unique here is an uncommonly distinctive voice and personality. There's this slice, for example, spotlighting one of Johnson's quirks.

Beginning in 1972, when I ran for the senate nomination, I wore a tie only very infrequently, and not in court, except in a few instances. In the late 1970's, I argued before the Supreme Court without a tie, wearing a turtle-neck sweater under my jacket. Justice [Robert] Huntley wrote to me, saying I was jeopardizing my client's interests. My client won the case. The next time I appeared before the Court, however, I wore an old hand-tied bow tie from my college days. Huntley had the clerk, Fred Lyon, hand me a note that said, "I meant a real tie." In 1986, when I was preparing to argue before the Court in Crooks v. Maynard, representing the District Judges Association as amicus curiae, I agonized about whether to wear a tie. Finally, I did, reaching into my closet to get an expensive tie I had purchased several years before. Huntley sent a note to me after the argument, saying, "Now you look like a real lawyer." I wanted to throw up.

When I went to see Justice Huntley and tell him I would not be wearing a tie when I took the bench, he said, "I thought so." When I told Chief Justice [Allan] Shepard, he sat and pondered for a moment or two and then said, "How do you feel about the robe?" I told him I had no problem with the robe. I later learned that the members of the Court did not wear robes until the 1930's. It was considered elitist by the early justices.

Idahoans like to talk about the individuals, the real individuals, in their midst. There are fewer of them these days than there once were. But you can still pick up Poetic Justice and read the words of one of them. And you should.

241 pgs. Available through Limberlost Press, Boise.

The Idaho Political Field Guide

The Idaho Political Field Guide, the counterpart to the Oregon PFG and the successor to the Idaho Political Almanac series, is out!

It's been 10 years since Ridenbaugh Press published the last book in the series. This new one covers elections of the last decade, and the effects of reapportionment as well.

Several events are upcoming. Check back.

New book: The Oregon Political Field Guide

OR political field guide

Today's release day for our newest book: The Oregon Political Field Guide.

We have a lot more information about it on a separate page. But a here's a little more.

First, you can order it through Paypal via this button here.





Second, it's one of a series. The Idaho counterpart (the Idaho Political Field Guide) will be coming shortly. The Washington book is under construction and will be released a little later.

Third: What is the Field Guide? And why do we call it that?

These books are relatives of the Idaho Political Almanac series Ridenbaugh Press published in the 90s (about, obviously, Idaho). They cover some of the same territory, but not exactly the same. The Political Almanacs contained more background about office holders and sometimes candidates, and their stands on issues, performance in office, and so on. The Field Guides are a little different: They're about campaigns and elections, with heavy focus on the voters - how the voters voted. This edition of the book (there may be more to come, later on) covers in some detail the last decade of elections. That allows you to see how various districts, counties and other areas elected people over time; how the percentages rose and fell, how the numbers of raw votes changed. It's intended to be a useful tool for political analysis down to a fine level.

If politics in Oregon is your thing, then the Field Guide needs to be at hand.

A quick word about the Oregon Blue Book, and how this relates to that.

We're enthusiastic fans of the Blue Book, a terrific and gorgeously general reference about Oregon, now celebrating its centennial. (A collection of 17 of the most recent sits prominently near where this is written.) It includes some information about elections, but not in great detail. And as a state publication, it probably shouldn't include a lot more than it currently does. The Field Guide is designed to fill the gap: To present elections and other information in a way that's non-partisan but also explanatory and analytical in a way that might be problematic for a state-backed book.

You can find out more at the book's main web page; a clutch of sample pages also is available. And stop by (and "like," if you would) the Oregon Political Field Guide page at Facebook.

OR: At-risk in the House by registration

In a 30-30 state House like Oregon's, with an election coming up, every seat matters. A lot. So who's sitting on the hot seats?

You can look at this from various directions, not all of them strictly statistical. Such matters as quality of candidates, gaffes and other negatives and the strength of a challenge matter. And, of year, money too. But party identification, in these very partisan times, matters a whole lot, and one useful place to start may be a look at what legislators are representing the most politically divided districts - or districts in which the other party has a registration advantage. (The registration numbers are those for February, posted by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.)

OR political field guide
Based on material from the upcoming Oregon Political Field Guide

In that last category, of legislators who have partisan minorities in their districts, there are six, all Republicans.

By this standard, the single most endangered Republican should be Katie Eyre Brewer of Hillsboro, in District 29. The district has a Democratic edge of 6.62%, and Brewer won with 53% in a relatively low-turnout year. She pulled a record Republican vote in this district, but Democrats exceeded her raw totals both in 2008 and 2004; and this year, like those, is a presidential. She's at high risk.

The second most endangered Republican on this list would be Patrick Sheehan, of Clackamas, in House District 51. This district (well, its analogue before redistricting) was Republican a decade ago, and decisively into 2006, but clearly Democratic in the last two cycles - presently by a margin of 6.47%. Sheehan won his first term in 2010 with a respectable 54.57%, but his vote total was lower than the last Republican there, Linda Flores, had two years before that when she lost the seat. If turnout is up this year, Sheehan could be at big risk.

Brewer and Sheehan both represent districts with higher Democratic edge than the district held by the top-ranking House Democrat, Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay.

The other four Republicans in tough terrain are Shawn Lindsay of Hillsboro (District 30), Mark Johnson of Hood River (District 52), Jason Conger of Bend (District 54) and Julie Parrish of West Linn (District 37). All but Parrish unseated Democrats in the Republican tide year of 2010.

And it should be noted that the comparisons aren't totally apples and apples, since the districts have been redistricted. But in most cases that doesn't seem likely to make a big difference.

If that sounds like the makings of a Democratic target list, who should be the Democrats on the Republican short list?

There are no Democrats representing Oregon House districts with Republican registration leads. The closest would be District 9 - the Coos Bay district Roblan, the current House co-speaker, is leaving to run for the Senate. That district could have the makings of a serious contest.

After that, the going gets tougher. The Democrat in the next most marginal district is Deborah Boone (of Cannon Beach) in District 32 (Democratic edge: 8.8%), based in Clatsop County. She had a close race in 2010 (winning with 52.31%), but won easily earlier; and her new district should be more helpful to her than the old one was.

The next three districts in relatively small Democratic advantage are districts 40 (an open seat, with Dave Hunt's departure for a county race), 50 (Greg Matthews of Gresham) and 22 (Betty Komp of Woodburn). None look like easy catches.

In a race where such large results can turn on small conditions, the future of the Oregon House is far from settled. Based on party registration, Democrats have an early advantage.

What about other measure?

Dennis Griffin at the State Board

Dennis Griffin, our newest author - of From Scratch: Inside the Lightning Launch of the College of Western Idaho - delivered a presentation to the Idaho State Board of Education on December 8, during the "open forum" portion of the meeting. He was there to discuss the publication of his new book, which he had talked about writing even while the development of the college was underway.

Here are some of his notes from the meeting:

I introduced myself as the founding president and served between Aug. 2007 - Aug. 2009 (several people are still on the board who where there then). I explained that when we went through it all, I kept saying "I really should write a book when this is over, nobody would believe us about all the balls we have in the air."

When I retired, several reminded me of saying that. So for the past two years, I have been working on the project, and now it's complete. (more…)

Review: Andrus, by Chris Carlson

Andrus book

The title, Andrus: Idaho's Greatest Governor, would give you to think that this is a biography, albeit a hagiographic one. It is better taken as the writer, Chris Carlson (whose columns show up here about weekly), indicated in his substitle, as a reminiscence - a work of memory, through his eyes, in considerable part unchecked in any rigorous way. And, within that frame, it might be taken as this: The story of the mentor relationship between Carlson and Cecil Andrus. That's the thread that runs through the book.

The first part of the book, about Andrus' early life and early political years, is relatively biographical, and those interested in Andrus' background will find plenty of new material here. Carlson has a number of stories to tell from his years working for Andrus, mainly in a press and public relations capacity. He also tells some of his own story, his short time on the Northwest Power Planning Council (as it was called then), the founding of the Gallatin Group, and more. There's a long chapter as well concerning concerning the campaign surrounding the Washington death with dignity/assisted suicide ballot issue (Initiative 1000, which passed in 2008); Carlson was one of the leading organizers against it. Andrus did not take a role in that campaign (so far as Carlson relates), but the lessons he imparted over the years were taken into that campaign.

That suggests some of the results of the mentoring relationship that is Carlson's main subject here. Andrus, elected governor four times and Interior secretary for a full presidential term (the only one to last all of Jimmy Carter's administration), is one of the strongest personalities Idaho has had in the last half-century. If he enters the room, you know it - and you enjoy it (ordinarily). He's among the rare people seemingly at home anywhere, with just about anyone. And he learned, along the way, a lot about how the world works - another major theme of Carlson's.

On one occasion, some years back, I had occasion to ask Andrus for advice on a matter relating to a political campaign. The exact bedeviling problem at hand is now forgotten (by me anyway), but Andrus' advice was not, and especially the effect it had: It lasted no more than two or three sentences, and he hadn't finished speaking before I knew he was exactly correct. And he was. It was the gift of cutting through clutter.

Carlson also subtitles his book, "Idaho's Greatest Governor," and the back cover text says he "inarguably, has had the greatest impact on Idaho in modern times." That raises a subject we'll be addressing here a few months from now in another book, looking at the influential people in Idaho history. However exactly you rank him, Andrus has been powerfully impactful on the state. And, as this book maintains, on a lot of individual people as well.

New: The Intermediary

intermediary

What happens when cultures clash, and one person tries to get them to live together?

That's the most basic subject of the new book from Ridenbaugh Press, The Intermediary: William Craig among the Nez Perces. The book is available online (see below) and from several regional outlets.

At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. A native Virginian on the run, Craig became a mountain man, married into the tribe, immersed himself in two cultures on a collision course. Craig’s story takes us from his flight from Virginia to his days as a mountain man – exploring and trapping for the Hudson’s Bay Company and celebrating at the fabled rendezvous. He married into the Nez Perce tribe and settled on the banks of the Clearwater River, but his travels didn’t stop. William Craig worked with government appointees, the military and the missionaries as well as major leaders of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Cayuse, and other Inland Northwest tribes trying to find a way for them all to peacefully co-exist.

Craig understood that for the tribes to resist the westward movement of the whites was futile; he’d seen the harsh results of armed resistance that eastern tribes experienced and he tried to bring reason and common sense to both sides where fear, anger, and often greed prevailed. His efforts were not always welcomed and his journeys between the Clearwater country to The Dalles and the Willamette Valley we often taken at great risk. He continued in his efforts because to stop was to allow an even greater tragedy.

Told here for the first time, Craig’s story mixes bravery, cowardice, courage, deceit, intrigue – and timeless lessons about the challenges awaiting those who would be peacemakers.

Lin Tull Cannell was born in Coeur d’Alene, raised in the Northwest, and earned a degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She worked in the legal and library fields and as a senior analyst with Yolo County in California. She and her husband, Merk, and children, Scott, Sandi, and Casey, often explored America’s west. She has written on William Craig for the University of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Lin lives in Orofino, Idaho.

Cannell said that she is “a native wanting to learn how my little area of north central Idaho got to be how it is. This work is simply an honest effort to capture and share our history.”

She wrote that “I was born and bred in the interior Northwest, but it was not until I had spent almost 30 years working elsewhere and retired back to north central Idaho that I questioned that which I had always accepted. Returning to my childhood home with the “new eyes” of experience, I especially noticed—and puzzled over—the predominance of non-Indian residents (even towns occupied mostly by white people) on the Nez Perce reservation. Curiosity up, I read old treaties between the United States and the Nez Perce Indian tribe: those, and Francis Paul Prucha’s The Great Father, answered many of my questions about how non-Indians could now be living on Indian reservations.

“As I meandered through the hills and canyons around Orofino, I noticed the name “Craig” here and there on the Clearwater River watershed: the village of Craigmont on the Camas Prairie, Craig’s Ferry on a sign along the Clearwater River, and, in the Lapwai Valley, a Highway 195 marker declaring that William Craig, a former fur trapper and a “bluff, jolly good fellow,” had once lived there. But local libraries yielded little information about Craig. There was no Craig biography other than a magazine article by a local historian, and the usually verbose literature of the fur trade offered but scant paragraphs about him.”

His dramatic story turned out to be central to how the Inland Empire region of the Northwest developed.

Fifteen years in the making, the book was published by Ridenbaugh Press, of Carlton, Oregon, a publisher of books on Northwest public affairs and history.

* Paperback: 244 pages
* Publisher: Ridenbaugh Press
* ISBN-10: 0982466838
• ISBN-13: 978-0982466834

Available through:

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Ridenbaugh Press estore
amazon.com
area retailers

New: 50 Meds for a Sick Health System

50 Meds
ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

More about this book by Randy Stapilus

One or two won't do. Most books (articles, speeches) about fixing America's health care mess address two or three very real problems and corresponding solutions. But they don't cover the waterfront, and the problem areas are too many to be cured by only a single silver bullet or two. This book for the first time compiles an extensive list of changes, some of them simple and some complex, that could cut costs and re-wire our system so it works better for all Americans. 50 ideas in a short and easy read - just 168 pages packed with solutions that can work. Available now from Ridenbaugh Press, $13.95

Upstream: Adjudicating the Snake River

Upstream
ORDER IT HERE
and now on Amazon.com

The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here is how it happened, drawn from the pages of the SRBA Digest, which for 16 years has been tracking the details of the massive case - the advances, the slips, false starts and unexpected leaps. The Digest is the key independent source for anyone watching the SRBA.