Are you one of the people who like the idea of electing someone from “outside” – a president who hasn’t been tainted by all that politics, who can just “tell it like it is”? Sound good? It’s a crock. Check out this piece by John Harwood pointing out some of the many problems with the idea, principally that most “outsiders” aren’t really outsiders, that most who are, don’t win, and the few who do tend to have weak records in office. “Some outsiders who managed to win statewide office found governance to be frustrating. Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, chose not to seek re-election as governor of Minnesota, while voters rejected a bid by the former Goldman Sachs chairman Jon Corzine for a second term as governor of New Jersey. The Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger limped out of the California governorship with a 22 percent approval rating,” Harwood writes. A better approach? Voters should hire their office holders based on experience, appropriate skill sets and their good judgment across a range of areas. That’s how you build a good organization. – rs (photo/”Hubert H. Humphrey 1968 presidential campaign.” by Kheel Center – Flickr)Share on Facebook
This could have been a very funny short story, or even short novel, but it’s real. From today’s Daily Kos politics report, based on a report in the Columbia Tribune . . .
Self-interested business owners successfully petitioned the Columbia, Missouri, city council to create a local Community Improvement District, which would have the authority to impose a half-cent sales tax increase with voter approval. However, the district lines were drawn in a manner that attempted to avoid containing any eligible voters, meaning that property-owners themselves would get to decide on the sales tax increase as a way to avoid further property taxes to pay for improvements.
Unfortunately for them, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. It soon became known that a single voter, University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, was registered to vote in the new CID. That means that she alone will get to decide whether or not to approve the sales tax increase. The CID has already gone into debt to finance planned improvements and was counting on the increased revenue from the sales tax increase.
Predictably, Henderson is not pleased with how manipulative this process has been. She was even asked to de-register so that the vote would revert to property owners. While Henderson hasn’t publicly stated which way she plans to vote, she sounded skeptical of the proposed sales tax increase and rightfully pointed out how it is regressive in nature while the benefits accrue mainly to incumbent businesses.
In a delicious twist of irony, if Henderson votes against the sales tax increase or the vote is called off entirely, the only way for the CID to pay off its debts will be to levy further taxes on property, which is exactly what these businesses were trying to avoid. Most of the time gerrymandering is successful and unfair, but instances like this show it can sometimes backfire spectacularly.Share on Facebook
When I left Idaho in 2004 there were – so far as I can recall – no traffic roundabouts anywhere in the state. Washington had a lot of them, especially in suburban areas off I-5 (Olympia long had had one at a lake crossing), and Oregon had some scattered around (there’s been one on the west side of Astoria for many years). The picture here shows one at Hillsboro, Oregon, that’s been around a while. But in the years since, Idaho has been building a number of them, and the Idaho Statesman even highlighted that on the front page today, noting the first one in Nampa in 2006 and another this summer at Boise, in the ParkCenter area. My sense of them is that they’re a little confusing at first but, once you get the hang of them, slow traffic a little, force cooperation and probably are safer than most other intersections. Like the song said, “Call it morning driving thru the sound and in and out the valley …” – rsShare on Facebook
Yes, the survey was ordered by the group Marijuana Majority, but that doesn’t mean it was badly done (the polling firm is reputable and has a good track record). And the results are striking; if the numbers seem, ahem, a little high, that doesn’t mean they don’t point in the correct direction. The issue was whether the federal government should leave states alone in developing their own policies toward weed, and the question was asked in two key states, Iowa and New Hampshire. (Which will be of interest since presidential candidates in those places are likely to be asked about this – and will need to bear in mind local attitudes.) Among Democrats, 80 percent in Iowa and 77 percent in New Hampshire favored federal laissez-fair. That may be no big surprise. Among respondents overall, 70 percent in Iowa, 73 percent in New Hampshire. But get this: Among Republicans, states rights on pot got 64% favorable in Iowa and 67% in New Hampshire. If that’s anywhere near right, a bunch of Republican presidential candidates are about to have a serious choking moment. Maybe the Democratic candidates too. – rs (photo/sroalf)Share on Facebook
The idea of Joe Biden entering the presidential contest hasn’t seemed especially plausible for some months now, if just because so much oxygen seems to have been consumed already in the Democratic side – so much of the establishment side by Hillary Clinton, so much of the insurgent side by Bernie Sanders. What’s the very large niche Biden would fill if he entered? If Clinton recovers from her current email malaise – which would seem to be a recoverable situation, though she’s been doing a poor job of it lately – that would be a limiter. And if Sanders, who has never sought a Democratic nomination until this year, turns out not to have a low ceiling and actually is able to match or exceed Clinton in partywide support – that would be a limiter too. But if Clinton’s campaign really is faltering, at this early stage, and if there turns out to be a low ceiling on Sander’s enthusiastic support, that could be different. Biden could bridge the sides. He has long-running establishment and party cred, but he also could have cred on the activist side; his meeting a few days ago with Elizabeth Warren seemed to be a hint in that direction. This could be a challenge to Clinton and Sanders: Can you two overcome your challenges? If not . . . – rs (photo/Daniel Schwen)Share on Facebook
A little sad to see the selling out of Dave’s Killer Bread in Milwaukie, Oregon. It’ been an independent for about 60 years, starting as Nature Bake. It has one (large) bakery in Oregon. It came by its current name after its co-founder, Dave Dahl, ran into some legal problems; but the bread long has been considered to be of high quality, and holding to high organic standards. That’s what led Flower’s Foods of Georgia to seek it out and buy it: Customers are much attuned to the kind of bread Dave’s produces. Sales price was reported at $275 million. Of the sale, Dahl said, “It is bittersweet but I’ve been working on getting my head right for the baby to grow. It’s happening. And now I’m just going to kick back, and watch it grow and enjoy my life.” He’s straight up about it. – rsShare on Facebook
More and more in politics, I get the urge to reply back that “no, that’s not self-evident,” when I hear a politico delivering a seemingly axiomatic platitude about something or other. For example, there’s the matter of (federal) government debt: People have to balance their budgets, shouldn’t the government? And especially: Having big, long-running government debt is wrong and dangerous and wrecks the economy and will crush our grandchildren. (I’ve seen a long string of Idaho politicians in particular build careers around that case.) But it isn’t true. As no less than semi-libertarian Rand Paul has remarked, the United States government has carried a debt since 1835 – and we seem to have done well in the nearly two centuries since. Great Britain’s government has been in debt since before the Industrial Revolution, and managed to create a world empire nonetheless. In his latest column, Paul Krugman takes on the subject, noting (in contrast to so much of what you hear) that “Believe it or not, many economists argue that the economy needs a sufficient amount of public debt out there to function well. And how much is sufficient? Maybe more than we currently have.” Check out his argument, and then take a fresh look at the debt worriers. – rs (photo/Andrew Magill)Share on Facebook
Well, this is comforting as I take my usual sip of coffee this morning: “Italian researchers who looked at a group of adults ages 65-84 found that “moderate and regular” coffee drinkers were at a lower risk of developing cognitive problems than those who rarely or never drank coffee.” That, they said, translates to one to two cups daily being in the positive range. But this is one of more those cases where moderation is a virtue: Much more than that, and risk of cognition problems rises. Okay: No more coffee in the afternoon. – rsShare on Facebook
Former President Jimmy Carter, the best ex-president this country has ever had, is suffering from liver cancer and could be crossing the Jordan River soon. He is now 90 years old and just finished his 25th book. The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has become a model for the good works a former president can do both in this country and around the world.
Without question the top achievement legislatively from the four years President Carter held the wheel was passage of the Alaskan lands legislation which overnight doubled the size of the National Park system and the Fish and Wildlife system of bird refuges. Almost 100 million acres, including entire ecosystems received protection.
I have a new book out, Eye on the Caribou, published by Ridenbaugh Press that tells the inside story of the critical role played by former four term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus in securing the historic legislation while serving as President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of the Interior.
I’ve long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history, so I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy.
This new book joins a well reviewed biography (Cecil Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor) on the governor published in 2011, and a book of 13 essays (Medimont Reflections) in 2013 that covered other issues and political figures Governor Andrus and I worked on during my 40 years of public involvement.
Andrus has always been quick to say that “success has a thousand fathers and mothers” and has especially singled out the Alaska Coaliton and the critical role played by Chuck Clusen, Brock Evans and Doug Scott for their contribution to successful passage of the legislation.
Future historians will find some heretofore little known jewels of information in this latest book. For example, during the summer of 1978 when Andrus and President Carter spent four days fly fishing and floating the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River, they settled on the fall back strategy of President Carter using his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the largest national monuments in history. They guessed correctly this would bring the Alaska delegation back to the bargaining table to undue the more restrictive form of protection monument status requires.
Other examples of anecdotes in the book include a heretofore unreported 1979 secret meeting between Alaska Governor Jay Hammond and Secretary Andrus in which the two by themselves spent a day fishing at some of Hammond’s favorite fishing sites in and around Lake Clark and Lake Iliamna. The two would set aside their fishing rods from time to time, get out their maps and pretty much settled on the boundaries of the soon-to-be new additions to the Nationl Park Service and to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s system of bird refuges.
The book also details the massive cross-over vote in 1980 orchestrated by the late Senator Ted Stevens to defeat in the Democratic primary his senatorial colleague, Mike Gravel. Stevens held Gravel directly responsible for the circumstances leading to his wife Ann’s death in a plane crash on December 4th, 1978.
The book also details the adverse impact the legislation had for the owner of a properly proven up mining claim owned by a partnership that included a Spokane exploration geologist, Wallace McGregor.
Even universally acclaimed legislation can still have adverse impacts on some people, and while Mr. McGregor’s dispute with the Park Service over his inholding is complex the fact remains that 40 years have gone by without any compensation to them for a de facto taking.”
The book retails for $16.95 and is now available directly from the publisher, Ridenbaugh.com, or Amazon.com, or directly from the author, or at your nearby Hastings outlet in Idaho and at Aunties in Spokane, as well as The PaperHouse in St. Maries.Share on Facebook
There’s been the sense over the last couple of years that the economy has been improving gradually, and it has, but now for the first time in a long time we see the B word – for “boom.” It’s being spoken of in Oregon, though, even as the unemployment rate bumped last month to 5.9 percent from 5.5 percent the month before – the reason being that the labor market is growing rapidly, with more people arriving in the state and otherwise entering. The key bit of news was that Oregon picked up 4,600 new jobs, just about doubling the number from the month before. Yet to be seen: Thorough breakdowns of where and what they are. – rsShare on Facebook
The Washington Secretary of State office reports a runoff election for an open seat in a House district bordering Idaho: “The 34 counties that conducted a primary this year certified their returns on Tuesday. Statewide, about 818,000 ballots were counted, or 24.4 percent, about average for an off-year primary with no statewide races or issues on the ballot. One interesting angle is that an automatic recount shaped up in the special election in the 9th District House race in six Eastern Washington counties (Adams, Spokane, Asotin, Garfield, Franklin and Whitman). Richard Lathim, R, finished just 47 votes ahead of Kenneth Caylor, D, for the second runoff spot for the General Election. The difference of 0.48 percent triggered the state’s automatic recount law (if it’s under 2,000 votes and less than one-half of 1 percent separating two candidates for either the first or second place spot). Secretary Wyman will certify the election on Thursday, and the recount will be ordered at that time. The recount can begin as early as Friday. If Lathim retains his lead, he would face Mary Dye, a fellow Republican who was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Susan Fagan. Under the Top 2 system, occasionally two people with the same party preference make it through to the General Election, usually in one-party districts such as Seattle or Eastern Washington. Last year, the 4th Congressional District also had an all-GOP final.” Two considerations: one, that the Republican remains highly likely to win in November; two, that a Democrat was actually able to make it something of a contest this time. – rs (photo/Charles Knowles)Share on Facebook
From today’s political roundup on Daily Kos: If you’re a fan of the Little Perennial Candidate Who Couldn’t (and we know there are lots of fans of that genre at Daily Kos Elections), here’s a heartwarming story. Goodspaceguy is one of the best-known examples, perhaps thanks to his odd adopted name as well his decades of futile bids; he runs every year for something or other in King County, Washington, and he’s finally managed to advance from the top-two primary into the general election, for the first time since Washington adopted the top-two system. (If you look at the sidebar in the linked article, you’ll see that he did participate in several general elections as an independent candidate for King County Council, but that was under Washington’s old electoral regime.) So who’s the sad sack who managed to finish third, behind Goodspaceguy, in the election two weeks ago? It’s John Naubert, who was so explicitly old-school socialist in his voter’s pamphlet description that slightly more voters actually preferred Goodspaceguy’s libertarian-meets-futurist-space-exploration-themed mumbo-jumbo. Don’t look for his luck to continue in the general, though: The incumbent, Courtney Gregoire (who’s ex-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s daughter) took 83 percent of the vote.Share on Facebook