Archive for the 'Oregon column' Category

Aug 31 2014

Hatfield? McCall? U’Ren?

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Maybe states should do this every so often: Consider the people whose visages grace the statuary at the U.S. Capitol, and whether there might be better choices.

Oregon is doing that now, by way of a panel selected by the governor (see the Culture section), reconsidering whether the state’s two representatives at the nation’s capitol ought to be John McLaughlin annd Jason Lee.

McLoughlin seems a logical enough choice, even he was in Oregon as head of the British-based Hudson’s Bay Company; he eventually helped Americans organize the area and has been called the “Father of Oregon.”
Lee, though, was a missionary who played a significant but not decisive role in the early development of Oregon. Even a century ago better choices could be made.

If Lee is to be replaced – and let’s say the betting might reasonably run that way – who should take his spot?

Right now, the inside track may go to Mark Hatfield, the former governor and senator who served as a Republican but for many years has been pointed out by people in both major parties as an exemplar of Oregonian public service. His relatively recent death would make him a sentimental favorite too.
A couple of other choices, at least, might also get some consideration.

Probably Oregon’s best-known political figure of the last few generations, even more than Hatfield, is Tom McCall, the flamboyant governor more controversial in his own time than many people remember now, but can fairly be pointed out as an innovator and true leader. Some of what people think they recall about McCall doesn’t hold up perfectly to scrunity – he had less, for example, to do with the state’s bottle bill than many now would suspect – but what he stood for matches up well with the way Oregon likes to present itself.

Or you could back a little further, to early in the 20th century, and seize on a man who never held a major public office but changed the state’s politics and political outlook more than many who did.

William U’Ren was a legislator, but he did his major work as an activist, pushing through the initiative and referendum (often called the “Oregon system”) and a list of other reforms.

Oregon has some good choices for the capitol, if it chooses to make them.

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Aug 08 2014

On the hamster wheel

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

It was a little while after word of the departure of University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson that a key point about the terms of departure became clear.

The basics about the departure were released immediately, though there wasn’t much clarity as to why he was leaving. The only explanation was that he wanted more time with his family, but really: He’d only been in the job for two years. He seemed to do well enough as president, made no major (visible) errors and from the outside looked to be headed toward a tenure of a number of additional years. And this guy they’d just hired, after an expensive year-long national search, was leaving, and they apparently gave him an immediate okay to go. Even an incentive of nearly a million dollars: $940,000, which apparently was a gift, not at all contractually required in the event of his resignation. (The figure came from the combination of a year’s pay as president and a year as a tenured professor, which he also contractually has been.)

The first matter at hand, of course, is: Why such a generous departure payment for someone who simply quit early? The governing board made a reference to the “contributions” he made – but isn’t that part of the job, what he was being paid for as a matter of course? What were the contributions that were so massive they qualified for a million-dollar gift?

Then there’s: Why is he leaving? (Apparently it isn’t for a higher paycheck elsewhere; he said he has no other job lined up.) You can count on this much: We haven’t heard all of the reason, whatever it may be, yet.

And this: Is this the prompt for yet another year-long nation-wide search, the leadership status in which most of our universities seem to spending about a quarter to a third of their time? It seems a peculiar kind of status for institutions where brilliantly inspired top leadership is taken to be so important.

As a matter of going forward: UO has chosen its provost (academic vice president) Scott Coltrane as interim president. Based on their description of him, he seems a perfectly decent choice, a university administrator for a decade and a dean, then provost, at UO since 2008. He’s apparently a respected administrator, and he knows something about UO. Why not save themselves the trouble and just strike the “interim” from his title, and be done with it?

Much better than the hamster wheel they’re likely to fire up yet again.

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Jul 27 2014

Vic Atiyeh, and another governor

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

During the late 70s and early 80s I was covering politics in Idaho, not Oregon, so the governor I was watching at close range was not Vic Atiyeh but rather John Evans.

Both of them died this month.

And the comparisons between the two, as I thought about it, became eerily extensive.

They were mirror images of opposing parties. Atiyeh was a Republican who had to deal with strongly Democratic legislatures; Evans a Democrat who had to deal with strongly Republican legislatures.

Both grew up working in the family business (ranching and banking for Evans, a rug store for Atiyeh) and each expanded them substantially as an adult and after serving as governor.

Both were elected governor twice, in 1978 and 1982. In their re-election campaigns, each defeated a candidate of the opposing party who would go on to be elected governor later (Ted Kulongoski in Oregon, Phil Batt in Idaho). Each had run for office statewide once before serving as governor, but each also had an extensive state legislative resume. Neither ran for office again after leaving the governorship. (Evans ran for the Senate in 1986, but he was still governor.)

They even shared a name: Victor Atiyeh and John Victor Evans.

They were governor of their states during economic hard times, and focused (in different ways) on business recovery. As personalities, though serving as governor, both were often overshadowed in the public by other political figures of their own party (Atiyeh by Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield, Evans by Frank Church and Cecil Andrus), though that related more to charisma than to capability.

They had a lot in common as people, too. They were friendly and accessible – notably so, this being a quality appreciated more in hindsight than at the time. If they were a little short on charisma that may relate to a preference to stick to the job, to work for the state and to maintain a sense of humility under circumstances where that can be challenging.

I can’t say for sure whether Atiyeh and Evans liked each other. But I have a hard time thinking that they didn’t. For good reason.

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Jul 23 2014

Two of one party in November?

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Critics of Oregon’s proposed top two open primary say one weakness is that in some districts the top two who advance to the general election may be from the same party. A report from the Independent Voter Network, takes a look at California Senate District 28, where two Republicans advanced onto the November general election.

Their conclusion? It’s a good thing. With Republican voters making up just 40% of the voters in SD-28, it means that the two Republican finalists will now be forced to appeal not just to Republican primary voters, but to all voters. This has caused the candidates to minimize ideology and focus on local issues that matter to more voters.

Wedge issues aren’t nearly as effective when you have two candidates from the same party.

Frankly, all the wailing that a top two open primary will occasionally result in two Republicans or two Democrats taking the top two spots is a red herring. In fact, it’s one of the strengths of the proposal.

In Oregon, under the current closed primary system heavily Democratic or Republican districts produce a single candidate in November. In 20 of the 60 Oregon House races this November voters will get one major party candidate to vote for. In the 66 Oregon Senate seats up for election, 6 of them will likewise feature one major party candidate. Over one third of Oregon’s Legislature is basically uncontested and features a single major party candidate.

At least under the open primary system there’s a likelihood that these 26 races would feature two major party candidates, even if they are from the same party. This would give voters a choice. And for candidates in heavily R or D districts, they couldn’t just pander to either the public employee unions leaders or the Chamber of Commerce in their respective primaries and then prepare for their coronation in November.

When Our Oregon supporter or a tea party member claims that a top two open primary may result in two Democrats or two Republicans advancing to the November ballot. Say…GREAT! That doubles voter choice of major party candidates in a third of our Legislative districts.

Note: This isn’t an endorsement of the open primary initiative, on which I’m undecided. It is a critique of the Democratic and Republican hypocrisy in their criticism that the open primary reduces choices.

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Jul 18 2014

The nature of the debate

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Debates are about perceptions, and the two gubernatorial candidates at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association debate hit in that hard enough. Both were a little hamstrung, but not barred from pitching their case.

The core case that Republican state Representative Dennis Richardson made against Governor John Kitzhaber was not one that this very conservative (in the conventional sense of the term) might have been expecting to make. It was not at all ideological: Instead, he described the governor as detached, disinterested, too often not showing up, “not tuned in to governing.”

“The first principle of leadership is showing up,” Richardson said near the start of the debate, and said near the end, “Our governor no longer has the passion to serve . . . The governor has been AWOL, and when he’s here has been distracted.”

He did not make any strong suggestion of a basic, fundamental change in direction, limiting his areas of dispute to more specific ideas – Kitzhaber’s handling of Cover Oregon or aspects of his support for the Columbian River Crossing bridge, for example, rather than the overall need for action on health care or bridge infrastructure. He almost seemed – whether it was the case or not – to have conceded those issues. On the subject of legalizing marijuana, he sidestepped completely, saying only that he would enforce whatever law Oregon voters passed; it fell to Kitzhaber to say that he would vote against the measure (and, like his opponent, try to learn from Washington’s experience and enforce whatever the voters ordered).

He did not, as most Republicans would, blast away at the idea of big government, even to the extent that Kitzhaber’s last opponent, Chris Dudley, did.
Richardson is known as a philosophically-oriented conservative, and won his seat in the legislature originally on that basis, but in a day of sharply-drawn philosophical lines, almost none emerged here. He seemed to stake his gubernatorial bid on the idea that Kitzhaber has been phoning in his job as governor, even pointing out more than once that he’s been in Salem a minority of the time.
That may not be an easy sell, and Kitzhaber’s de facto response was telling. He did not specifically say that he still had a passion for the job or worked hard at it, which would have sounded weak and would have simply repeated Richardson’s argument.

Instead, he pointed to the things he has done, over a third term in which the length of large-scale accomplishments – from education reorganization, health care policy, PERS changes and many more items – is quite long. And he could, and did, point out that he had Republican support (including, in several key places, Richardson’s) in doing those thing.

Kitzhaber’s best piece was his closing, when he describes, after falling short on several objectives in the 2013 legislative session, he spent months traveling around the state crafting a legislative package which, in three days last fall, passed in spectacular fashion. It was an effective rebuttal to the notion of a passive or disinterested governor.
Both said they supported open primary elections, ad Richardson even said he saw a benefit in the tendency to press candidates on both sides toward the electoral middle.

In one place, Richardson called for a truly massive government project I’ve never heard anyone else propose: “A freeway from Coos Bay to Burns to Ontario.” (The price tag on that would be interesting to read.)

Interestingly, Richardson never bore in specifically on the matter of Kitzhaber’s long tenure of what would 16 years in the state’s top office if he wins. He suggested only that he would do it better.
With one major exception, one place where he specifically sounded more clearly like a conservative Republican.

That concerned federal lands, which amounted to 53% of Oregon. Kitzhaber, who dryly noted that “I don’t think the feds are going to hand over control of federal lands,” spoke with some optimism about “federal forest management reform.” In this area, Richardson said he would press for exactly that, a turning over of federal lands to the state: With like-minded governors, he said, “I will lead that charge, I will be in Washington. D.C.”

That much formed a basis of a major policy difference between the candidates. How far it sells in the more populated sectors of Oregon may be another question – as is whether it constitutes a argument for firing John Kitzhaber.

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Jun 28 2014

What they use on the farm

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

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RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The chemistry of farming is becoming an unexpectedly heated subject of discussion which is about to go deeply political.

The issue of genetic modification has already gone political, of course, notably in Jackson and Josephine Counties, where voters chose to ban those substances. (The vote was advisory only in Josephine, since state law didn’t allow a by-county change anywhere but Jackson.)

That issue going statewide, with either legislative or ballot issue action almost surely just around the bend.

Then there’s the matter of pesticides, which have been popping up in headlines around the state more and more.

You’ll note in this issue, for example, the Department of Agriculture is taking additional steps to protect bees and other pollinators from exposure to specific pesticide products following multiple incidents of bee deaths this summer. In adopting a temporary rule, ODA is prohibiting the use of pesticide products containing the active ingredients dinotefuran and imidacloprid on linden trees or other species of Tilia.

Then there were the reports out of Eugene contending that trees which were treated with certain types of chemicals (mainly with the idea of protection against pests) sprayed on to trees could do harm to bee populations in the areas where the trees were replanted.

What seems to be changing about some of this, and is taking the issue more directly political, is the distribution element. Some groups of people long have been critics of various types of chemicals or bioengineering, but those complaints were not likely to become a big political deal as long as the people (and plants, and animals) affected by them were only those already inside a system of mutual agreement – contracting partners of some type. When wind can blow the substances elsewhere, making non-participants unwitting and unwilling participants, a totally new legal element has been introduced.

A new set of standards will be needed to cope with this. It may be coming soon.

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Jun 23 2014

Unremarked improvement

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

You really do get the sense sometimes that people pay attention only to bad news.
Oregon, like many other states (its neighbors among them), has been seeing not spectacular but steady improvement in its economic picture this year. More numbers to that effect came in this past week, with (for one major example) unemployment numbers running closer to the norms of reasonably prosperous times.
You have to qualify a lot of this. There’s been some diminishing of what’s considered the full work force, so practical unemployment is still higher than Oregonians would like to see.
But it is getting better.
Take a look too at the story (in the local government section) on Metro construction receipts, which starts, “It’s been a banner year for construction in the Portland region – so much so that the region’s construction tax has generated about 20 percent more than its original forecast for the current grant cycle.”
That’s not a small deal, and the overall pace of construction around the state seems to bear that out.
In a good many places, you do get the sense of people taking a breath of relief.
Now, of course, would be the right time to look at areas of restructuring the state could do with. The long-discussed talk about rejiggering the state’s tax structure would be a good thing to get underway at this point, maybe peaking about the same time the state’s economy does. Economic reorganization talk tends to yield a little more productivity during times when money is flowing more freely.
There’s work to do now, too.

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May 20 2014

The Wehby challenge

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

Pretty decisively, Oregon Republicans chosen Monica Wehby as their nominee against Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. Now we’ll see how that works out.

Yes, the theory is that sending in a women would help blunt the argument that the Republican Party is anti-woman. And yes, she’s a physician, and that gives her an unusual platform in campaigning against Obamacare, and Merkley’s support thereof.

Republicans are also, however, getting a nominee untrained in the rough and tumble of campaigns, in contrast to her chief rival, Jason Conger. (The business of running away from rough or embarrassing questions won’t cut it in the general.) They’re getting one who, according to a string of editorial boards, doesn’t seem much educated on many issues outside of health care. And they’re getting one entering the general election campaign with several newly-developed clouds overhead.

A great deal, of course, can still depend on the Oregon and national mood several months hence. But Wehby and her staff have some big challenges to overcome between here and there.

On the part of Oregon Republicans, however, they have once again cast their bet for major office on a candidate not necessarily beloved by the base, but presented as the most electable. It hasn’t worked out for several elections running; we’ll see now if it does this time.

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May 20 2014

Before election day

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The timing turns out to be fascinating. Could this be the court decision over Oregon law that has more political effect in the state to the east?

That’s on the timing and political side of things, as regards the Monday federal court ruling throwing out Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. There are of course many other effects, such as those on the people who actually got married in Oregon on Monday, and in the days and years ahead.

The decision was in no way a surprise. The opposition had expected it. The state, whose attorney general ordinarily is obliged to defend the constitutional provision in court, considered the case against it – in the light of recent Supreme Court decisions – such a slam dunk that it refused to mount any kind of defense. There was no legal opposition to an immediate launch to effects of the measure. Had the case not been brought, or moved more slowly, the issue was destined for a ballot issue in November, and seemingly no one – including its strongest critics – seemed to have any thought that it would fail.

A remarkable turnaround from 2004, when voters passed the same-sex marriage ban into the constitution. But then, much in politics is timing, and perceptions about the way things get done. Had not Multnomah County jumped the gun on the issue the way it did, the explosive force that passed the measure might not have succeeded.

And, simply, Oregon has changed some since then too.

The Monday decision does, as in places like Utah and Idaho, run in crosscut against the wishes of the state’s majority; in Oregon’s case, it is surely in line. So it may have little political impact in Oregon. Especially since, in this primary election, most people already had voted by midday Monday.

In Idaho, dealing at almost the same moment with similar legal issues, it may have some political effect on today’s election: Those deeply concerned about the issue may react to it.

We’ll know more about that in a few hours.

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May 11 2014

Twilight time

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

These stretches of the two to three weeks before “election day” – actually, the deadline day for completing voting – are a strange time.

The ballots for this year’s primary election in Oregon have already gone out, and a good many of them have been marked and cast. (Those in my household are among those already returned to the county clerk.) But not all of them, not by a long shot, are gone, and the more sophisticated campaigns are keeping a close watch to try to ensure that the ballots they would like to see returned, are.

So there’s that frantic nature of the work underground, and a bad case of nerves on the part of some candidates and their supporters. They’d be better off, on a personal level, if they had more practical work to do the way candidates in polling-place voting states do, right up to the last day before the mass of balloting occurs.

In places like Oregon and Washington the candidates, simply, have less to do. They still can wander out and shake hands, but most of the intensive work of the campaigns is done already, timed to hit before the ballots go out. Anything major happening from this point out will hit a lot of people who already have voted, and what would be the point of that?

They do, of course, have to keep themselves on a leash: The possibility of saying something foolish or worse remains there, and enough votes come in even on the last day to do prospective damage.

But most, for now, there’s not much else.

It’s mostly a matter of watch and wait.

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Apr 29 2014

Cover perspective

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The embarrassing decision this week about Cover Oregon – that its website operations in Oregon, under contract through Oracle Corporation, have filed so completely that the state will resort to going online via the federal website – most certainly calls for more answers than have been received so far. Heads have rolled already, and possibly more should as well.

We are after all talking about a couple of hundred million dollars that didn’t deliver what they were supposed to. That’s not a small deal.

But:

The uproar over the website should not obscure the larger picture, which is a lot brighter. The web site had to do with providing one option – not the only option – for people to sign up for health insurance policies. It was never intended as the only route to get that done. The website was not, many reports t the contrary, a complete failure: It did succeed in providing a good deal of information about what policies, at what costs, were available, and helped people locate assistance for finding human help to get covered. Personal testimonial: In our household, it worked in exactly that way. We got online, found relevant information and where to go for help, and got covered in the space of an hour and a half or so.

That one-time transitional element of the health insurance picture is a tiny slice of the overall, which is the expansion of health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who had not had it. That expansion, which is the point of the effort, has in fact happened, delivering results more or less as predicted.

A good deal more reporting attention ought to be focused on how well the new insurance regime is working. Our impression is that for the most part, it’s working not badly, but more inquiry in that area could be useful. Oregon’s health care picture is changing in big ways, and very little of that has much to do with the blinkered website.

Accountability is proper in a case like this. But one relatively small piece of the puzzle shouldn’t be so overwhelmingly preoccupying.

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Apr 04 2014

From the kernel

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

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RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux computer operating system (on which this publication is produced), doesn’t get out a lot, at least not to speak to groups.

Written into his employment contract is a provision saying he can’t be required to speak to groups. Although he has lived in the Portland area for about a decade, he has appeared at the local (and highly active) Linux users group, which just celebrated its 20-year anniversary, only twice. The most recent occasion was Thursday night.

Mostly, he said, he works at his computer, overseeing the “kernel” of the operating system named for him; “the kernel is my real life’s work.” His employer is an open-source foundation which is based in the area. A native of Finland but a United States resident for 17 years, Torvalds speaks with only a trace of his native land and with great clarity.

torvalds
Torvalds at Portland (photo/Randy Stapilus)

 

As the people who have felt the sting of his barbs could attest. (“C++ is a horrible [programming] language,” he said at point, and dismissing executives at one corporation as “horrible people” at another.)

“You never see my happier outbursts,” he said.
He spoke as well with a good deal of humor as well, reflecting on the progress 0f Linux and open source software – which he said are doing well and are far ahead of where they were just a few years ago – and technology as well.

While some tech corporations have been resistant to working with open source (including Linux) projects, Torvalds said that most have been highly cooperative, and are becoming more so.

Gaming – in which he said he has little personal interest – is important for Linux growth into the future, he suggested. It has been an area where Windows has been notably strong.

In his work, he said, he often finds “bugs” in the code as new upgrades evolve. The plus side is that they’re usually swiftly discovered and corrected. He acknowledged making periodic mistakes himself, but they’re almost never seen by the world because they’re caught before they get that far. Open source software is developed by large numbers of volunteer software coders who regularly review and correct new and existing code.

That concept of broad correction returned in some other ways as well. “You’d think banks are secure,” he said, but: “No, they’re not.” But he added that wasn’t a big problem, because banks have proven highly capable of fixing and correcting problems once they do happen, which is nearly as good.

Torvalds suggested focusing attention on computer privacy and security where it matters most (such as in financial areas), not as a broad subject for concern in all areas. The reach of information gathering, he said, “is not the end of the world. You want to care about some things, and not so much about others.”

Many people use Linux programming without know it, though “If you’re a user, you really really shouldn’t care.” Android smart phones, for example, use a Linux-based operating system, and many computer servers and embedded computers use it as well, because it is so inexpensive (free in many cases) and its coding is so efficient.

These areas interest Torvalds less, however: “For me, the main target is the desktop, and always has been.” That he suggested, is where the broad range of what a computer and an operating system can do really comes into play.

He acknowledged that a decade ago, Linux was not able to fully hold its own as a desktop operating system, but said that has changed. It has been picking up some steam in the United States, but growing faster in some other places, such as much of Europe and – for reasons unclear – South America.

The large open-source community in the Portland area only occasionally gets some visibility. But it gets some real encouragement from the fact that the founder and still final arbiter of one of the globe’s leading operating systems lives close by. And, now and again, shows up at a users meeting.

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Mar 09 2014

Only a short session

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

It was only a short session, and if not a lot got done outside the budget basics, you can more or less understand that. The idea of these shorter even-year sessions – of which this was the second – wasn’t to address the whole smorgasbord, but rather just do some touch-up and adjustment on items that needed to be handled right away, or on an emergency basis.

Fine Having reached that understanding, legislators would do well to remember it in 2015 … as they didn’t remember it in 2013, when a string of items including a number that some legislators just didn’t really want to deal with (from pot to guns to the Columbia River bridge) were pushed to the side, occasionally with the remark that they could hold another year.

The idea of a 2014 ballot issue on liquor privatization or pot legalization, both of which probably could have been handled better within a legislative context than through the writing of ballot issues, were among the items legislators didn’t really want to deal with in 2013. Part of the argument? It doesn’t have to be handled now, because the ballot issue wouldn’t come up until more than a year away anyhow.

After this session, that kind of argument never should be heard again at Salem in the odd-numbered years.

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Feb 24 2014

Coming out of the strike

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

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RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

So what emerged out of the Medford teacher strike, the labor uproar that dominated news in southern Oregon virtually all of the first part of this year?

Medford Superintendent Phil Long said the settlement means “moving forward, putting our schools back together and repairing relationships with people.”

You might think they could have gotten that far without a strike.

In fairness, the details of the terms weren’t supposed to be released publicly until the teachers had a chance to see them and vote. That is the way these things usually go.

But you might think too a little more transparency would help.

It might have in Portland too, where teachers and administration came very close to what would have been the district’s first strike ever. (For some reason, the leadup to strike got a lot more media and local attention in Medford than in Portland.)

Portland is a fairly union-friendly city, but many people there may have felt a little confused: What was the dispute really about, at base? What was each side asking for, what did it insist on? The district’s patrons and taxpayers might have been better able to decide who to root for if they had known.

There wasn’t much such information last week. Spokesmen for negotiators seemed to characterize the outcome as a compromise, which might at least make the patrons feel better. But, a compromise between what?

The main indicator at Medford seemed to be that the issue related to “the financials” – but exactly what that translated to was less than clear.

Strikes, and near-strikes, often leave hard feelings behind. Best way to resolve that, to move forward and maybe avoid conflict to this level next time around, might be opening the process to a little more public airing.

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Feb 09 2014

What the storms may do

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

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RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The latter half of last week was dominated by weather, some serious weather. Snow dumped hard on western Oregon, and across much of the Cascades and parts of eastern Oregon too.

The storms weren’t fierce (the snow wasn’t accompanied by much wind), but the sheer volume of snow was greater than the region had seen in five years. It was enough to shut down the Legislature, along with all sorts of other organizations – schools, universities, some businesses and a lot of what didn’t really have to be open.

As Oregon moves past that unexpected mass of weather this week, what will be most notable to watch will be … statistics.

Thing is, Oregon (and most of the west) has badly needed a lot more precipitation this winter than it has been getting. Look at this week’s snowpack chart (in the environment section), and you’ll find that while most all the basins around the state last year at this point were running about normal in terms of available water, this year they tend to be running about half as much – low enough that if the trends up to the last week or so maintains, Oregon could hit some serious drought this summer.

That conclusion isn’t foregone, though. There are meteorologists who think Oregon could have a wet spring, and that surely would help avert a bad case of the dries. So would some good snowfall now.
So watch the numbers on the chart this week, and then again next week. They could be something of a forecast of the months ahead.

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Oregon State Highway film from 1966. A few changes since then.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

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    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    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. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or 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's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here