From a statement by the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District – a complaint about how water is being distributed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

Changes proposed by the state in the way water rights are managed in the Treasure Valley would significantly and adversely affect individual and organizational rights to water from the Boise River System. In addition, the more senior the water right, the more devastating the proposal will be because it could lead to reduced water availability and impacts on property values, according to officials with the area’s largest irrigation district.

The potential impact of the change is so serious that Nampa & Meridian Irrigation leaders say the District will go to court if necessary to stop what they call a patently misguided process that is both unfair and contrary to a century of established Idaho water accounting practices.

“We and other districts in the Treasure Valley have exhausted nearly every effort to find a political solution or a negotiated solution to this issue with the Idaho Department of Water Resources so that serious injury to our water right holders will not occur. But we have been stopped cold at every attempt,” advised Daren Coon, NMID Secretary Treasurer.

“The more senior the water right, the more devastating the proposal will be to irrigation district water users. But this is more than just a Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District problem; all water right holders on the Boise River system will eventually be seriously injured if IDWR’s scheme is allowed to take effect,” Coon added.

The controversial Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) plan centers on how to account for “flood control” water released from the three Boise River reservoirs to make space for water running off as the snowpack melts. Under a protocol developed 30 years ago, controlled releases prevent reservoirs from becoming so full of water that huge amounts of water must be suddenly released to avoid overflowing the reservoir resulting in downstream flooding. When the flood period is past, melting snowpack water can then be stored in reservoirs to prepare for the irrigation season.

IDWR and the Idaho Attorney General’s office want to reduce the amount of water allocated to all water right holders, including tens of thousands of urban users, by charging water released for flood control against the senior right holders even though the water is flushed downstream and is never used for irrigation.

“Simply put, IDWR wants to institute a plan where water right holders would be charged for using irrigation water they had zero opportunity to actually use,” Coon explained.

That unused water charged against the user’s yearly allocation could reduce how much water was left for irrigation. In a high flood release year followed by a period of drought that could mean not enough water would be left in the user’s allocation to meet irrigation needs. That would be disastrous for crops such as corn, potatoes and sugar beets all of which require water later into the summer. It would also result in severe damage to urban lawns and gardens.

Boise River water rights are two types of rights: natural flow and storage water. Natural flow is the water in the river that cannot be stored and must be passed through the reservoirs. Storage rights entitle the right owner to have water stored in the reservoirs where it can be used to supplement the right holder’s water supply when the natural flow right is exhausted.

A third element of the right is the priority date. That is the date in which the water right was filed with the state. It dictates exactly what priority the right has relative to all other rights, a concept often called “first in time is first in right.” It literally means the oldest water right gets its water first, the next oldest second and so on until the available water is exhausted.

It is that combination of priority date, natural flow and storage water that permits the irrigation season in the valley to typically last through the first part of October. Without the ability to store water to supplement river flows in the hot summer, the irrigation season would normally end in late June or early July after the snowpack has melted.

This process of natural flow and supplemental storage water has provided a balanced approach since the first reservoir, Arrowrock, was completed in 1915. But now it is threatened by an inexplicable change of direction by State government.

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For a long time, Liberia was ground central for the recent Ebola outbreak in west Africa, accounting for close to half of all cases in the last year, and the largest concentration of cases. For a while it seemed an intractable problem. But yesterday, reports were that ebola was – this was delivered in fingers-crossed fashion – wiped out in Liberia. It can be done, which puts the lie once again to the fear-touting so prevalent in the United States only a few months ago. Remember that? Not many of the political and other figures so worried about ebola are saying anything about it now . . .

Oregon State University reports that a new international program partly based there is working on resolving water issues around the globe. From their statement: “Oregon State University, the University for Peace in Costa Rica, and the UNESCO-IHE Water Education Center in The Netherlands are creating an international joint education program aimed at addressing water conflicts in a more professional manner. The program will launch this fall with about 10 students enrolled to earn master’s degrees, eventually growing to 30 students from around the world. . . . The issues students will deal with are vast. In Oregon, for example, there has been a major conflict over water rights in the Klamath River basin, where agricultural interests compete with fisheries management and tribal rights. These kinds of issues are not unusual in the United States, Wolf pointed out, and can become even more contentious when an international component is added.” . . . – rs

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

New apartments planned for former trailer park (Boise Statesman)
Sugar-Salem schools may see cuts (IF Post Register)
New manager of transit in Pullman (Moscow News)
Charter school buys Caldwell land for auditorium (Nampa Press Tribune)
Democrats hold livable wage rally at Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Two legislative Democratic candidates drop out (Pocatello Journal)
Massive spontaneous explosion of alfalfa at Hansen (TF Times News)

Eugene cops kept list of disliked people? (Eugene Register Guard)
KF downtown getting bike corrals (KF Herald & News)
Oregon Caves monument may expand by 4,000 acres (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Reviewing the adult business collection at Umatilla (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New travel time reader boards set by ODOT (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap library plans new Silverdale branch (Bremerton Sun)
BrewFest at Bremerton gets new location (Bremerton Sun)
Still searching for the last Oso victim (Everett Herald)
Everett says Kimberly Clark cleanup not yet done (Everett Herald)
Big wildfire growing fast near Entiat (Kennewick Herald)
Pot remains in short supply at stores (Seattle Times, Longview News)
High court: bicyclist box not subject to search (Longview News)
Inslee pushes increase in fish consumption (Port Angeles News)
STDs spreading more rapidly (Spokane Spokesman)
Sockeye salmon have record run at Bonneville (Spokane Spokesman)
Fire balloons at Lake Spokane (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver opens second pot store (Vancouver Columbian)
Heat rising quickly in region (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima council member proposed utility tax cut (Yakima Herald Republic)

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rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

“From sea to shining sea” across our national landscape, we are awash in unnecessary, racist, homophobic and outright despicable efforts to legislate against us and our neighbors – to control what we think and do. It’s being done in the name of someone’s “God” or someone’s corporate interests or others with self-serving, underhanded – often dangerous – attempts to prolong their worthless political lives at the public trough.

We’ve been inundated by media coverage of one of the worst of the crop that made it to a governor’s desk. A piece of legislative trash – sponsored mostly by a Colorado group calling itself “christian” – to allow “religious beliefs” to trump citizenship rights of those whom the “believers” disapprove. While the media made it mostly a matter of sexual orientation, it was, in fact, an effort to legislate absolutely any person’s activities if those activities ran counter to someone providing a public service or product. That’s all of us.

The governor vetoed the bill. Not, I think, because it was the right thing to do. Which it was. Remember, this is someone running for re-election. I’d bet she suddenly realized overwhelming public – and corporate – opposition was a prime indicator of Arizona political winds and that she’d be better off temporarily angering her right-wing base than running afoul of possibly a much wider – and likely corporate “contributor” – constituency.

But her political fortunes aren’t the issue here. What IS the issue is eight other states are dealing with the same piece of phony moralistic garbage. Legislatures in Oregon and Idaho appear to have bottled up those bills in committee. For now. But they’ll be back. You can count on it. What the other six states will do is anyone’s guess.

This is just one area in which wrong-headed, narrow-minded, moralistic minorities are trying to do through law what they can’t do any other way – infringe on the rights of the rest of us by making our conduct in various issues illegal if our conduct flies in the face of their “moral beliefs.” There are many, many more similar legislative land mines out there..

Whether it’s gay rights, voter rights, abortion rights, access to medical care, privatizing schools or the post office or prisons or other public institutions of choice, a network of these ideologically vacant “moralists” has been created to raise havoc with our society. We hear and read so much about their efforts that it’s hard to keep in mind they’re minorities. But they are.

It’s no secret who’s behind them. James Dobson and other fundamentalist church leaders, the Koch brothers and their various 501(c)3 and (c)4 fronts, the John Birch Society, Family Forum, the NRA, Heritage Foundation and dozens and dozens of small, tin-hat groups and billionaire self-appointed keepers of the national moral flame. Some are new- some aren’t. But the Internet and other recent technologies have given them the means of spreading their societal undermining so they seem much larger and more important than they really are.

I tangled repeatedly with the little Idaho nest of the Birch Society in the 1960’s. The message then was the same as the message now – this country is “going to Hell in a handbasket “ because of (insert your favorite conspiracy). The focus 50 years ago was mostly on “Communists” hiding in our government. But abortion and subjugation of the rights of minorities were – and are – also Birch menu items.

Back then, they were isolated. Now, with the push of a computer key, they flood the Internet with hundreds of thousands of email messages of hate, suspicion, conspiracy and nut-ball fantasies. Their presence is so much more noticeable because of the ease of access to the rest of us., But, if you pull back the electronic curtain, you’ll likely find the same scared little people – resistant to change – unable to cope with our quickly moving technologies – afraid of the government bogeymen they still see in every dark corner – frightened of the “Communist infiltrators” of years gone by.

But there have also been at two very real changes for these small, disparate groups of haters and conspiratorial nuts. First, largely by years of hard work in mostly local and state Republican central committees – coupled with the normal political indifference of most Americans until it’s one of theirs in the wringer – they’ve captured party nominating control and, in some cases, frozen out otherwise normal candidacies. Our political zoos are now filled with the likes of Bachmans, Ghomerts, Brouns, Cruzes, Issa’s, Lees, Kings, etc.. Check your local legislature for carbon copies.

The second change is the proliferation of dangerous front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Sponsored by the Koch’s and other corporate interests with a right wing agenda, ALEC and others are clearing houses used to create sample bills for introduction into the 50 legislatures and Congress. The current rash of anti-gay, “religious freedom” and voter suppression garbage can be traced back to these various sources. They’re “one-size-fits-all” copies intended to flood statehouses and Congress. Some die Some don’t.

For those who want additional proof – check out what’s happened to the anti-gay bills signed into law in nearly a dozen states. As one federal court after another strikes them down one by one, the wording in the decisions is almost as uniform as wording in what’s being tossed out.

Something dangerous is afoot here. As state after state passes this junk – and as court after court cancels much of it – judges are in the position of making law rather than deciding it. They do so by overruling legislature after legislature. One state loses and ten more lose as well.

There’s also the issue of those few bad laws that might survive lower federal courts moving up to the U.S. Supreme Court. That puts SCOTUS in the position of not just deciding federal constitutional questions but also state laws by the handful. So, what happens to the balance of power among the three branches of government? Or the sovereignty of states? Or, if SCOTUS refuses to hear the appeals, then what?

There’s much more at stake in examples like the Arizona Legislature making bad law. Or Idaho. Or Oregon. We’ve got a cancer of single-minded minorities shoving self-serving agendas through the 50 states – agendas that don’t respect the rights and privileges of the citizenship the rest of us enjoy and are entitled to by law.

You may be comfortable on your pillow at night with having SCOTUS and Chief Justice Roberts acting as freedom’s backstop for this legislative effluent. Me? I’m not sleeping nearly as well.

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The whole question in health care of who gets the money – which relates directly to how much money is in the system – hasn’t yet gotten near enough attention. But all it would take is the asking of a few pertinent questions.

Here’s a press release (in e-mail, from the Oregon House majority) about an Oregon bill that poses some of those questions. If it now passes the state Senate and is signed into law, it could turn into one of the more consequential measures of the session in its reverberative impact.

A bill that will provide equal pay for Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants who perform the same services as physicians passed the House today.

HB 2902A would help build the skilled and workforce that Oregon needs in order to meet the diverse healthcare demands throughout the state.

“Oregon is shifting toward a healthcare system that focuses on preventative and community-based care,” House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D – Eugene) said. “Providing equal pay for equal work will help us grow Oregon’s healthcare workforce and improve access to care for more Oregonians.”

HB2902A would require insurers to pay health practitioners the same rate for the same services and reimburse based on an unbiased coding system.

“If two people are trained to perform the same procedure and it’s within their scope of work, they should receive equal payment,” Representative Mitch Greenlick (D – Portland), Chair of the Health Care Committee said. “This bill solves one problem within our healthcare system by following the fundamental principles behind equal pay for equal work.”

House Bill 2902A passed the House 39 – 20 and now heads to the Senate.

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From a November 21 article by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

carlson
NW Reading

The distinct sound of gobbling turkeys in Oregon has generally grown silent for nearly 20 years. What was once a thriving agricultural industry left the state– a rarity among Oregon’s diverse list of commodities. While there are a few locally-grown birds sold to niche market consumers this year, most Oregonians will sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner featuring a turkey produced in California, Utah, or Minnesota.

“At one time, Oregon was a large producer of turkeys, probably producing up to 30 percent of the West Coast supply from the Willamette and Yamhill valleys,” says recently retired Oregon Department of Agriculture Assistant Director Dalton Hobbs. “Due to consolidation of the turkey processing industry and a few other factors that hit during the early 1990s, all that commercial production has gone away.”

Back in the mid-1980s, Oregon produced about 2.5 million turkeys and had a strong, viable industry. The state’s climate was amenable to turkey production and suited growers and the local processors. Turkeys were part of Oregon’s diverse agricultural product mix. Now there are only a handful of small-scale producers who specialize in organic, pasture raised, or so-called “heritage” turkeys– birds produced through natural mating, not through artificial insemination as is the case with commercial turkeys.

Many factors led to the demise of Oregon’s turkey industry in the early 1990s. But the bottom line is that it’s cheaper to grow turkeys in California, Utah, the Midwest, or in the southeast US and ship them to Oregon for sale than it is to actually grow them locally. Turkeys are generally raised where the feed is produced. The closer the turkeys are, the lower the production cost. Unfortunately, Oregon is rather distant from the feed sources of soybeans and dry corn.

That wasn’t much of a problem prior to 1993, when Oregon still produced a few million turkeys. That’s a far cry from the present day turkey production of Minnesota (47 million), North Carolina (30 million), Arkansas (28 million), and even California (15 million). Still, Oregon had enough critical mass to sustain the turkey industry and offer consumers an Oregon-grown product.

Then, a series of events eroded the industry.

The Oregon Turkey Growers Association, a local cooperative with membership in the national marketing cooperative Norbest, went through several managers at a time when continuity might have helped, according to Jim Hermes, poultry specialist with Oregon State University Extension. With several states producing turkeys under the Norbest label, Oregon growers had to settle for the national price on turkeys. Being far from feed sources, growers in other member states enjoyed a competitive price advantage. At about the same time, a batch of contaminated turkeys was shipped from Oregon to Utah– something that hit the news headlines at an inopportune time. For all intents and purposes, that was the final straw for Oregon’s turkey industry.

“The most visible problem was the recall of some 70,000 turkeys just prior to Thanksgiving 1992,” says Hermes. “The industry just couldn’t recoup from that event.”

Yamhill County, with about 85 percent of the state’s turkey production, shouldered the brunt of the loss. However, just as the entire state absorbed the loss of the entire turkey industry, Yamhill County was able to fill the vacuum through such successful commodities as nursery crops.

“Towards the end of the industry, there were about 25 turkey growers with 10 of them primarily responsible for most of the state’s production,” says Hermes. “Today, some of those same growers are producing fryer chickens inside the same facilities that were producing turkeys. Others have modified their buildings to store grass straw or some other commodities.”

Today’s consumers who prefer to buy a local product do have the option of purchasing from small scale producers. These customers reserve a bird in the spring by pre-ordering even before the turkey is raised. By the time holiday season rolls around, the turkey has been fully grown and slaughtered, and is ready for the dinner table.

The return of a large scale turkey industry in Oregon is unlikely, according to Hermes.

“There have been some inquiries into having breeder flocks of turkeys in the state to produce hatching eggs,” he says. “Normally when that occurs, there might be a few producers who may want to grow some commercial birds. However, Oregon’s primary problem is that there is no place to process the turkeys. We do not have a slaughter plant. The Oregon Turkey Growers processing plant in West Salem was sold and today is used for processing and freezing other food products.”

For Oregonians, there has been little impact from the loss of turkey production statewide. There is no shortage of turkeys available year around, let alone during Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the rare exception of those who prefer a fresh vs. a frozen turkey, shoppers don’t seem to care if the bird comes from California or North Carolina. Even when Oregon produced turkeys, most headed out-of-state anyway.

While Oregon never likes to see the loss of an industry, the demise of the state’s turkey production can serve as a valuable lesson.

“With this inexorable trend towards consolidation in agriculture, our growers need to understand that the ways of the past may not be the ways of the future,” says ODA’s Hobbs. “We need to be nimble, creative, and proactive in our production strategies and offering a product that fills a need.”

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carlson
NW Reading

When you’re talking about digital information, the line between using public resources for official and unofficial purposes can get awfully blurry. A note out today from the Washington Legislative Ethics Board:

If you have a personal smart hone, tablet, iPad or similar device commoni referred to as a PDA, and you use your PDA to connect both to the legislative e-mail system and non-legislative e-mail, please pay attention to this message.

Recently, some legislators have inadvertently sent carnpaign­related or personal messages from their PDA, only to learn later that the message was sent from their “leg.Wa.gov” address. Use of the legislative network to assist a campaign, to support or oppose a ballot measure, or for most non-legislative purposes is a violation ofthe Ethics in Public Service Act. How do you avoid this? in this situation you must pay careful attention to which e-mail address mail is being sent from and you must use a campaign or personal e-mail address for campaign-related business. To be safe, you should probably set the campaign or personal e-mail account, not the legislative account, as the default or account for sending of e-mail. That Will help avoid inadvertent use of the legislative e-mail address and servers’.

The Legislative Service Center (LSC 360.786.7000) will assist legislators with setting up legislative on a PDA and establishing appropriate default settings, but it is each individual’s responsibility to not use legislative facilities for campaign or inappropriate personal purposes.

In addition, if you are using a PDA that was purchased with public resources, it is treated the same as your legislative computer, laptop, phone, etc. – it is a violation ofthe Ethics Act to use any public resource for political campaigns.

The use of the internet as a communications medium can have unintended consequences. Whether through a YouTube video, a tweet on Twitter, or a Facebook posting, such communications can reach audiences While posted and also have a potentially unlimited life. Literally anyone in the World With access to the Internet can access such communications long after the time they were intended to be available.

In a recent case, a legislator asked for his YouTube video to be removed upon learning there Were ethical concerns about his use of public resources in the production of the video. However, materials on the Internet are generally cached and, are diflicult if not impossible to eliminate completely. Although the video in question should never have involved the use ofpublic resources in the Hrst place, its placement on YouTube prolonged the life of the Clear, visual representation ofthe use of public resources for campaign purposes and may, far into the future, reHect upon the ethics of the Legislature as a whole.

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What did the founders intend for the Constitution to do – what did they intend for it to accomplish?

We don’t have to guess. They told us, right at the beginning, in words that should trump any narrow or extreme interpretation of the specific provisions in what followed:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

That’s what they had in mind. That’s what they intended our government do.

As we move on from Independence Day, ask: How are we doing?

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Tom Trail

The Idaho medical marijuana bill has been introduced, by Representative Tom Trail, as he had said last year he would do. House Bill 370 does not have much chance of passage, or of clearing its first committee vote – if it gets one. (If it does, we’ll be curious to see who else votes for it.)

Proposals along these lines, or further down them, have either become law in Washington and Oregon or have been strongly discussed for years. Outright state legalization (which still wouldn’t mean federal legalization) is likely on the Washington ballot this year. But the subject has gotten no traction in Idaho.

How little traction? For some years, Trail has proposed (last year, along with Representative Brian Cronin, D-Boise) resolutions backing legalization of industrial hemp. Though biologically related to marijuana, it cannot be used to get high: Its uses are industrial, and many. It could be a major crop in Idaho, as Trail has noted. Many of the founding fathers, including George Washington, grew it. But last year it failed in the House Agriculture Committee.

Still, the rationale language in the new medical marijuana bill is strong: “Compassion dictates that a distinction be made between medical and nonmedical uses of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties those patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians, primary caregivers and those who are authorized to produce marijuana for medical purposes.”

We’ll see how far compassion gets this bill.

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If insurance companies may be generating less and less trust these days – this concerning companies whose business it is to provide and whose advertising promotes a sense of security and peace of mind – there may be some good reasons for that.

Look at the Washington Supreme Court case out today in Laura Holden v. Farmers Insurance Company of Washington. Here’s the Washington Supreme Court’s summary:

Laura Holden purchased a renter’s insurance policy from Farmers Insurance Company of Washington. In the event of property loss due to fire, the policy provides coverage for the “actual cash value” of the damaged property. ACV is defined as “fair market value” at the time of loss. FMV is not defined. After a fire at her rented home damaged some of her personal property, Holden sought coverage under the ACV provision, which states that payments will not exceed the lesser of either policy limits or “the amount necessary to repair or replace the damaged property.” Farmers refused to account for Washington State sales tax when calculating the value of the damaged property. We are asked to decide whether, under the terms of this policy, the ACV provision unambiguously supports Farmers’ interpretation, or if instead it is subject to a reasonable interpretation that accounts for sales tax in calculating the FMV of damaged property. Because the ACV provision is ambiguous and accordingly must be construed in favor of the policyholder, we reverse the Court of Appeals and reinstate the trial court’s order granting Holden’s motion for summary judgment.

There wasn’t any question that the policy was in force, and that it covered the burned items. But the company was determined to contest any payout it could – up to and including the relatively minor sales tax component. Our personal experience with insurers in years past hasn’t been so negative. But it seems to be getting that way, more and more. Just read the appellate court decisions that keep coming down on topics like this.

Count your fingers when you sign their contracts.

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At the debate: John Kitzhaber (left), Bill Bradbury/Stapilus

The two main Demcratic candidates for Oregon governor, former Governor John Kitzhaber and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, have debated before and fairly recently. But this evening at the Multnomah County Courthouse was the first since filing for the office closed – since, you might say, the campaign period more or less formally begins.

Both, at a crowd somewhere upward of 100 people, were readty to roll this evening.

Both put some emphasis, opening their discussion, on Democratc bona fides. Kitzhaber painted himself, for one thing, as the bulwark against the Republican tide of the mid-90s, saying of his many vetoes, for example, that “without those vetoes Oregon wold be a far different state today”. (Although he would speak later, passionately, about working with Republicans.) Bradbury spoke about a range of fronts, from his Bank of Oregon proposal to his call for much higher education funding levels. Both made a point of addressing the state’s economic problems.

Bradbury was quick to be up front about his muscular schelosis, point out his entry into the room on his segway. But he said the disease was diagnosed back in 1980 and didn’t stop him from serving as Senate president or secretary of state.

The most striking single policy idea (not new to this debate, but highlighted at it) was Bradbury’s for a Bank of Oregon, as a means of keeping Oregon money in state to a greater degree. Kitzhaber said he thought it was an idea worth investigating further, among others, but noted that North Dakota (the only state now with a state bank) and Oregon may have a number of structural differences.

Broadly, they agreed on quite a bit – both, in loose terms, are liberal Democrats. (Their disagreements had mainly to do with means, not ends – Kitzhber sometimes questioning the practicality of some of Bradbury’s ideas.) But Bradbury’s framing sounded more like traditional Democratic talk (he, more than the crisply wonkish former governor, had that earnest-Democrat sound), while Kitzhaber’s approach and conceptual framework was a lot different on a range of issues. One brainy Idahoan was asked, years ago, whether in the area of utility regulation he considered himself a consumer advocate; he said not really, because he wasn’t a fan of consumption – his way of looking at issues was simply different. Analogous with Kitzhaber, who seemed to scale down the current talk on health insurance (considering it one one slice of the issue), for example, in favor of a large-concept look at health in terms of promoting better health as the essential solution to the problem.

Kitzhaber was asked about the choice between bipartisanship and sticking with principles; he described it as a false choice, that “we have to recreate some kind of a political center.”

Bradbury’s supporters seemed more in evidence than Kitzhaber’s. They were sign-waving outside, and they were more evident in the commission meeting room too (they live streamed the debate). But the crowd seemed laid back; it was a group of Democrats, do supportive of both candidates, but didn’t seem strongly weighted toward either.

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At just over a year to the next general election – close to the midway point – seemed a useful point to review the party voter registrations in Oregon.

A note: Ind refers to the Independent Party; non-af is nonaffiliated. None that the drops in the interim (which are across the board) are generally explained because of standard records purging.

Month Dem Rep Ind non-af
Aug 909,414 679,934 47,563 423,711
May 907,700 679,624 44,752 419,486
Feb 930,649 692,610 45,358 429,858
Nov 08 931,318 694,589 43,030 429,758

.

Very stable.

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How much longer can this go on before local newspapers have to simply say they’re no longer providing anything resembling meaningful news coverage? They’re not there yet, and hats off to those in the newsrooms struggling to do the job. But be clear: The job cutbacks are cuts to the core; whatever fat there was, was dispensed with long ago.

Today’s news is impending job cuts at three McClatchy newspapers in Washington, the Tacoma News Tribune, the Olympian and the Tri-City Herald. At all three, most newsroom employees are being offered buyout options. That doesn’t mean most will be leaving, but word is that if enough don’t, substantial layoffs will be next. The size of the newsrooms cuts expected isn’t made clear – an ominous thought all by itself.

At Olympia, Publisher John Winn Miller was reported as saying “he thinks The Olympian, which has 180 full- and part-time workers, will survive as an independent news voice in the state capital.”

Note the language: He thinks it will survive.

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