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Posts published in “Oregon”

Places of celebration

fireworksWe checked out the July 3 fireworks last night at the Oregon Garden at Silverton, and a fine experience it was.

(And we'll brook no snipes about the event's holiday-eve date. If we'd paid more attention to history, the big celebration would be happening on July 2 rather than July 4 anyway.)

The future of the Oregon Garden, a spectacular and beautiful collection of plant life from the state and around the world - probably without equal in the Northwest - has been in doubt. Intended as a major tourist draw, it has drawn fewer people than hoped for. It has needed financial bailouts, and has gotten them, so far. It has gotten solid community support too. But it can use all it can get.

So what they did, last night, was throw a fireworks - a fine show, with musical entertainment and catering from the fine Salem-based (and Silverton-founded) Roth's groceries.

The scale is not enormous. Silverton is a place of about 8,000 people, nearby coomunities are smaller, and though the event draws from the Salem area, Salem had its own events too. But a great big crowd poured into the garden, enough to create big traffic issues. All around, the event seemed a big success.

So: The curiousity of Boise, which will be fireworks-less again this year. From today's Idaho Statesman editorial: "This is sad and embarrassing. A vibrant city of 200,000 — with a proven record of throwing community and corporate support behind big events — ought to do a whole lot better. So let's resolve to do it. Come July 4, 2007, let's have a fireworks display to bring back memories of the Boise River Festival."

Memories of the Boise River Festival? You mean the cookie-cutter production (try Googling "river festival") that emphasized out of region vendors and productions and increasingly had less and less to do with Boise specifically until, finally, it financially crashed and burned? That one?

A suggestion: Find something uniquely Boiesan, something that could use some additional attention, and build a community fireworks around that.

Such a fireworks could become a double celebration, as it was last evening at the Oregon Gardens.

Gray power

The Oregonian story about low voting turnout among people in their 20s and 30s didn't really hit - "young people don't vote, dog bites man, yada, yada" - until we got to this graph well down in the story:

"Oregonians in their 20s and 30s outnumber Oregonians in their 70s almost four to one. But people in their 70s, with a turnout rate of 69 percent, cast more votes in May's primary election than all 575,000 registered voters ages 20 to 39 could muster."

That's dramatic.

Oregon impact

In Idaho we've from time to time run surveys and posted lists of the most influential Idahoans of the year just past and months just ahead, lists usually topped by the likes of governors and senators.

Were you to do a similar exercise in Washington state, only extend it out to the last 10 to 20 years, here's the top name you'd almost certainly come up with: Tim Eyman, the initiative king, who has had his share of losses as well as wins but probably has driven more politics in the state than anyone else.

And Oregon? A little less obvious, but it seems to adhere to the Washington track, at least to judge from one opinion-trawling effort.

Les AuCoin, the former congressman, has posted on his blog the query, "Who had the most impact on Oregon in the last 10 years?"

Of the responses received so far, the dominant names are three associated with initiative actions: Don McIntyre, who pushed through the tax-cutting Measure 5 in 1992, and Bill Moshofsky and David Hunnicutt of Oregonians In Action, who pushed through the land use Measure 37 in 2004.

Is the mere fact that such people - not elected officials, but gadfly-activists - are the main pushers of policies in these states? What would be the reasons underlying that? Comments welcome.

What we want

As much as bloggers like to rant, and as much as many partisan bloggers like to go ballistic, there's still plenty of room for the positive - saying what we like and approve of and hope for, as well as the opposite.

Campaign season is good for coming up with the bill of goods of critcism, but why not explication of what we want and need from our candidates - from the people who will hold office next term.

With that in mind, take Tom Simpson's 10 Things I Want From My Next Governor essay on the Republican Oregon Catalyst site as a useful template. Simpson here writes about a string of substantial, serious matters facing Oregon and suggestions for how the next governor ought to handle them.

It's not exactly the same as our list (though there's a good deal of overlap). Or, probably, yours. But that's partly the point: Draft your own, and measure it against the candidates. Or, even better, tell the candidates that these are your expectations . . .

Sparklers, and then

The cautionary note from Republican blogger I Am Coyote - that something significant appears about to break on the subject of state Representative Wayne Scott, R-Canby - appears to be breaking as predicted.

The aura of scandal is attaching to an unusual business operation: 4th of July fireworks.

Scott is president of Western Fireworks Inc., a firm based in Aurora (which is near Canby); apart from a person serving as registered agent, he's the only named officer. His ownership interest isn't clear. The firm's website describes it as "Oregon's oldest and largest fireworks company," established in 1948.

Willamette Week describes it: "Whether you stock up on sparklers this Fourth of July or snag a seat at bigger-boom displays, the company supplying the fireworks will probably be Scott's, which claims to be Oregon's largest."

So far, so good - but then WW comes up with this: "In the 2003 Legislature, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 667-A, a seemingly innocuous bill dealing with nonagricultural operations on land zoned for exclusive farm use. The bill included an amendment from Scott that lets his aerial fireworks company, which puts on Fourth of July shows at venues such as the Blues Festival on the Willamette and Oaks Park, operate regularly on farmland instead of needing to get temporary-use permits each year from local authorities. Typical fireworks operations on farmland that require permits include storing fireworks as well as testing, shipping or directly selling them. But the bill applied only to aerial fireworks companies in continuous operation on land zoned for exclusive farm use since Dec. 31, 1986. And Western was the only business that met that standard, according to at least two legislators who voted for SB667-A, Sen. Gary George (R-McMinnville) and Rep. Gary Hansen (D-Portland)."

Where the story goes from here is unclear. But it dosn't sound done yet.

And do we hear a third?

The Independent caucus in the Oregon Senate has just doubled in size. And maintained the partisan balance in the process. But all that may be the least of it.

Last winter, Senator Ben Westlund, a Republican from the Bend area, said he switched his party registration to independent. He's now running for governor under that label.

Senator Avel GordlyFriday, another senator joined his bolt from the parties: Senator Avel Gordly, a Portland Democrat.

In some ways her departure is even more striking than Westlund's. If in a number of respects Westlund seems to have been diverging from the Republican Party in recent years, it's a lot less surface-obvious in Gordly's case. Her background could hardly fit a Portland Democratic legislator more tightly: Coordinator of Albina Head Start, member of the Albina Community Bancorp Board, director of the American Friends Service Committee, Youth Director for Urban League of Portland (although she also was a parole and probation officer). Her key areas of interest include social services and education, and she has gotten a 100% rating from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Her northeast Portland district (23) is solidly Democratic. She's now in her third Senate term.

There's no overt evidence of a philosophical break with her party, with which she's served in the Legislature for 16 years. So why the change?

A short report on the Oregonian's political blog said that "Gordly has made no secret that she believes extreme partisanship gets in the way of doing what's best for the people of Oregon. She's talked for months about switching from Democrat to independent. She stopped going to her party caucus meetings months ago, when Democrats voted to close them to the press."

In other words, the reason seems to have less to do with differences with her own party (apart, maybe, from the closed caucuses) than it does with the whole idea of partisanship. That may make her a more powerful advocate for the idea even than Westlund.

Might she be the precursor, then, to yet another breaker of the ranks?

Small but not forgotten

Pretty much all daily newspapers across the United States, and some sub-dailies - some twice- or thrice-weekly or larger weekly papers - along with most news-providing broadcasters are members of the Associated Press, which supplies all those stories with the (AP) tag 0n them. The AP has has its own large newsgathering staff, but most of those stories come from the member newspapers. That creates an enormous reservoir of potential news items, but there's still a large gap: What about all those stories in weekly or other newspapers, stories coming from the smaller communities which aren't picked up?

Small Town Papers News Service, founded (ironically?) in Seattle, aims to remediate that, spreading news from smaller communities.

It's a national service, but Washington seems to be one of its strong points. Its list of participating titles there includes the Edmonds Beacon, the Mattawa Area News, the Mukilteo Beacon, the Bonney Lake & Lake Tapps Courier-Herald at Enumclaw, the Boomerang at Palouse, the Enumclaw Courier Herald and the South County Sun at Royal City.

Oregon papers are the McKenzie River Reflections at McKenzie Bridge, the Clatskanie Chief and the Elgin Times. In Idaho there's the Latah Eagle at Moscow, the Aberdeen Times and the Power County Press at American Falls.

Open to the world

There's such a thing as blurring the lines between government and private interests to the point that a government supported by all of us might operate to the benefit of some. It's a reasonable ethical issue.

Oregon Legislature siteBut there's also such a thing as shutting government off from from people and the world around it - of shutting down interaction and communication in the interest of ethical purity. And that's hardly any better.

Credit the Legislative Administration Committee, meeting Friday at Salem, with seeing as much. (more…)

Waiting for an epic outcry

What might happen, one wonders, if the Oregonian were to run a story about how Portland's conservative talk icon, Lars Larson, had been muzzled by management at his station - on request on the ad sales department?

Would it be that "should listeners get a whiff of censorship, you'll have an outcry of epic proportions"? Maybe. And just such a report might be not far off.

That quote just above came from Brian Maloney of Inside Radio, who reported that at a recent industry seminar, "KXL Program Director James Derby stunned many in the audience by admitting outright that Lars Larson was prohibited from further criticism of a local hospital's practices, after it complained to the station. ... Making matters far, far worse, Derby admitted that it was pressure from the sales department that led to Larson's muzzling. According to him, the hospital in question had finally signed an advertising contract after a long period of lobbying by the station. As a result, account executives weren't happy to hear it criticized on the air." (A hat tip to Oregon Media Insiders for the link.)

There was no immediate response from Larson, and no, there appears to be no reference to it on his web site.

Maybe, back in Portland, everyone still is trying to figure out their next move. But you can bet that someone will make one before long, and it could result in an entertaining counterpart to the Independence Day fireworks.