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Revenge of the pigs

On the front page of the Spokesman-Review web site (full story by subscription only):

"Rathdrum insurance agent Steve Nagel is battling city hall and his weapon of choice is pigs. Nagel plans to retaliate against Rathdrum and the Kootenai County Commission for denying a request to rezone property he owns at the edge of town for commercial use by instead putting hundreds of pigs on the 12-acre parcel along Highway 53."

Sounds from here like a good argument in favor of the necessity of land use laws ...

Rebellion in the ranks

Not sure what it was exactly that prompted Idaoh Senator Larry Craig to push with such determination on revision of the Patroit Act, but he now has gotten as solid on this issue as on any he has undertaken.

The difference here being, he is charging - hard - against an administration of his own party, which he has loyally supported. (more…)

Relicensing speedup?

Effective today, a new procedure in federal dam relicensing. From the Federal Register:

As required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the
Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, and Commerce are jointly
establishing procedures for a new category of expedited trial-type
hearings. The hearings will resolve disputed issues of material fact
with respect to conditions or prescriptions that one or more of the
Departments develop for inclusion in a hydropower license issued by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power
Act. The three Departments are also establishing procedures for the
consideration of alternative conditions and prescriptions submitted by
any party to a license proceeding, as provided in EPAct.

A little faster, to keep people on their toes.

Jobs up

The official stats out today show a positive picture for jobs - on the official unemployment front - regionwide.

Still, the improvement was spotty, and it still doesn't seem to do much for wage rates, which are at least as critical a factor. (more…)

912 and Gregoire

From the day it was pitched, Initiative 912 - the one seeking to roll back the road funding package passed earlier this year by the Washington Legislature and brokered by Governor Christine Gregoire - was billed as a referendum on Gregoire and unified Democratic control of the legislative and executive branches.

Given the closeness of the last election, and the deep anger among Republicans and many independents over the way it was resolved, there was some feeling that the initiative would be a slam dunk on that basis alone - not to mention the sterling track record of anti-tax intiatives statewide in Washington.

The counting in last week's election is nearly over now, and I-912 wound up failing 54.5% to 45.5% - a decisive nine percent. Now that the counting is nearly done, what conclusions can we draw from this intiative? (more…)

U.S. House vulnerabilities?

The opening piece of analysis from this site about the 2004 U.S. House races in the Northwest is a default to status quo. Even the one House seat we know will be open (the Idaho 1st) probably will stay with its current party. For every other House seat in the Northwest, barring unexpected retirements or something else out of the blue, the larger probability is that the incumbent will be returned in 2006 for another term.

Probable but not a lock, of couse - these things never are a lock until election day, and sometimes even then. Still, you have to look hard for many chinks in the armor. Probably only two members of the House delegation are representing districts whose partisan leanings are just a bit at odds with the incumbent's situation. And neither of those - Republican Dave Reichert in the Washington 8th, and Peter DeFazio in Oregon's 4th - look weak. Both won decisively in 2004.

Analysts over at the Democratic Daily Kos site, however, do list a few Northwest seats - three altogether, those two and one more - on their roster to watch, of potentially vulnerable Republican and Democratic seats. (more…)

Cantwell-McGavick polling

Presumption here is that Washington Democratic incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell starts with an edge - not overwhelming, but there - in her run for re-election next year against Republican SafeCo executive Mike McGavick.

Some confirmation comes from the new Rasmussen poll, wich outa her at 52% and him at 37%. His numbers are likely to improve as his name ID does in the months ahead, but an incumbent over 50% makes a challenger's job tough.

Upending K-R?

Washington and Idaho just finished a major newspaper ownership transfer, one of the biggest in a generation. Is it about to see a new one?

Knight RidderThe national backdrop is the decline in newspaper circulation, following a quarter-century of ever-tighter squeezing of profits out of newspapers. That is something the recent newspaper swap between Gannett Corporation and Knight-Ridder, which left the latter with the Boise Idaho Statesman, the Olympia Olympian and the Bellingham Herald, in addition to the 49% of the Seattle Times it already owned, did not address. But now Knight-Ridder's largest single shareholder is hitting it head on. (more…)