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The cow that is a cow

We expressed somewhat similar thoughts 9though less fully developed) a while back about the mega-luxury box development at Bronco Stadium, but Quane Kenyon's take on the subject, a guest opinion in today's Idaho Statesman, should not be missed.

Kenyon is retired from a career at the Associated Press in Boise, so he knows something of how state government works. This is one of the most pungent and incisive pieces on what talks and what walks in Boise these days, that we've seen in a while.

Not Hooley either (or is it either?)

Darlene Hooley
Darlene Hooley

Tis a little striking how steadily the leading Oregon Democrats keep taking themselves specifically out of contention for the U.S. Senate next year, to challenge Republican Senator Gordon Smith. But as well, we're starting to notice the trap doors alongside the hitherto flat demurrals.

Representative Darlene Hooley (5th district) is the latest to say that nope, she won't do it. (The item shows up on the Oregonian's political blog.) And in her case, that seems to be that. She hadn't really been expected to run, or thought likely to, partly given her improved status in the House.

That point also evidently has been influencing decisions by the other three Oregon House members. One of those three, David Wu (1st district), similarly opted out, with no further discussion since. But the Oregonian piece intriguingly adds (from his spokesman), "if that opportunity were to present itself, he would definitely consider it." Which is more than he seemed to before.

Peter DeFazio (4th district), likewise has said in clear terms that he wouldn't run, but we're perceiving a slight crack in the door, based partly on some chatter in DC and partly on the qualification in his spokesman's statement that he "has not changed his position on running at this time" [emphasis added].

Finally, Earl Blumenauer (3rd district) has never committed himself one way or the other, beyond saying that he isn't ready to say anything yet, other than (in the Oregonian piece) saying the Democrats would likely have a candidacy rolling by Labor Day (more than five months off).

Okay: Odds are none of them run. But we do start to run if some serious discussions are quietly underway in the cloakrooms . . .

Clear Channel to Peak

It may be a ripple in the corporate context of Clear Channel, but it's a big deal in radio Idaho: Selloff of a half-dozen Boise radio channels, including some of the leading stations, to Peak Broadcasting of Fresno, California.

The most notable of the stations from a public point of view may be KIDO-AM, which has been home for much of the local talk radio in the Boise area (and beyond). Others include KCIX-FM (hot adult contemporary), KSAS-FM (contemporary hits), KFXD-AM and KTMY-FM (country) and KXLT-FM (adult contemporary).

Peak is a much smaller outfit, and new, and private (with prospective more flexibility in its options); the Boise stations are only its second substantial buy, the first being a smaller group of stations at Fresno. The deal becomes final in April.

The good folks at the Idaho Radio blog have been discussing this, and the prospect of it, for several days. A number of useful points emerge from the extensive comments you'll find there.

One is the reason for the selloff - "The sale is part of Clear Channel’s ongoing effort to take the company private. The company announced it would shed all radio clusters outside the top 100 markets - with Boise being the largest group up for sale." Clear enough.

There was much debate over the stations may change, if at all. Unresolved, for now.

The return of Strippergate

Abunch of Seattle political people, and not just the Colacurcios and their friends, must have been made unhappy this morning by the Washington Supreme Court decision in Washington v. John Phillip Conte et al. It seems, after all, destined to return "strippergate" to the area's political lexicon, long after it seemed to have faded away.

The legal issue involved may shale up a few political people, too. In Conte, the court is holding that the state Public Disclosure Commission's actions against campaign law violations don't overlap with, and don't preclude, the possibility of a local or state prosecutor filing criminal charges covering the same territory: You're not necessarily done with law enforcement when the PDC is done with you. It was on that basis, that PDC action precluded other legal action, that a trial court dismissed a clutch of charges of violations of the campaign finance law. The Washington Supreme Court said it was wrong to do that, and reinstated the charges.

As the court wrote, "the State's ability to charge under two statutes is not a reason to hold that one of the statutes must prevail over the other."

The decision includes a fine summation of this complicated case, which a couple of years back was all over the Seattle headlines but has died down since. A key part of it has to do (incredibly enough) with a parking lot, and the need to expand parking space, and the effort of the owners of the Rick's strip club to get city approval for the expansion of parking onto nearby property they own, parking they installed without city approval. At the city planning department and commission level, they ran into turndowns - all of this went on over the course of more than a dozen years - and then in 2003 appealed to the city council. (As a side note, we've never grasped the argument at that core level of the case, of why such an expansion should be objectionable.) The city council turned out to be more amenable, approving the rezone on a 5-4 vote. The problem was that, as a Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission investigator reported:

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The cutoff, described visually

from Mulick cutoff videoToday was the Washington Legislature's cutoff day - any bill which hasn't passed out of the House or Senate to the other chamber, is dead for the session. That makes it a day of legislative intensity, frenzy almost, as interests scramble to make sure their bills aren't (or are) left for dead.

At least, it's a frenzy in some places. Tri-City Herald reporter Chris Mulick, recently equipped with a video camera, has figured out how to tell a useful part of the story visually, efficiently and memorably. He has the video posted on his blog.

Reviewing note: Gotta love the sound effects in the second half.

The shrinking connection

Connecting IdahoThe mega-highway project was touted, a couple of years back, as Connecting Idaho - an ambitious proposal (by then-Governor Dirk Kempthorne) to develop and improve the highway system around the state so that its myriad needs could be largely met, in one swoop.

Opinions about it varied widely, but it seemed here like a noble attempt to fix a transportation network badly in need of it.

Since then, Kempthorne has gone on to other things in Washington, and the wheel have begun peeling off "Connecting Idaho". There was always some financial risk involved, of course, and always the question of who would financially benefit when so much money was being flung around so dramatically. Quite a few legislators had objections, and many of those objections made sense. It was never a perfect proposal; it was an attempt at a grand gesture, at thinking about transportation in a different way in a state where getting around involves limited options.

The project has been whittled down considerably over the last couple of years. Here's what the legislative budget leaders did about it today: They "backed selling $246 million in bonds for the "Connecting Idaho" highway plan in the year starting July 1, with more than half to be spent on Interstate 84 near Boise, Nampa and Caldwell."

Maybe in the next generation . . .

Tonight’s chat

Our weekly reminder, that our regular Wednesday chat is on for tonight at 6 pm Pacific, 7 pm Mountain, accessible off this page. (Scroll down to the right to the “nickname” box, enter your name, click the button, and you’re in.) It lasts about an hour; feel free to jump in or out any time.

So far we’ve had enjoyable discussions with an eclectic group of people. Greg Smith, a co-founder, should be back on board this evening. Along with, well, who knows who.

Double-no

Alaskan Way at SeattleNot a great surprise, after the tenor of things in the last couple of weeks especially: In the vote released this evening, Seattle voters decisively rejected both ballot options for fixing the Alaskan Way viaduct, the reconstructed elevated highway (no: about 55.5% in the first round of vote releases) and tunnel (no: 69.9%).

So there.

What this should, logically, suggest is a revisitation of the ground-level highway option, a proposal dismissed out of hand by almost everyone much involved (and not given a lot of credence here either, we might add). Yet it looks better the more you think about it; and we keep thinking about the recent Danny Westneat column pointing out that the downtown area underneath the viaduct is little more than wasted space at present. And how either of the two main proposals, shot down now by the voters, would remove the viaduct from use by the public for possibly a decade - that being how long the construction project might last.

The vote was a take-down of both tunnel advocates (main in city hall, including Mayor Greg Nickels) and reconstruction acolytes (including Governor Chris Gregoire and House Speaker Frank Chopp). As a comment on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's site suggests, "Gregoire would have to be crazy to try and stuff the viaduct/eyesore onto the city now. It would be political suicide." Same, for that matter, for the other office holders.

The situation is unsettled. One commenter suggests, "So the real vote is 30% tunnel, 45% viaduct, 25% surface street. I wonder which option should win?"

Still, in our view: Look for street-level to gain some traction.

FOLLOWUP One of the rebuild-the-elevated advocates, Seattle City Council President Nick Licata, this evening told the Seattle Times that the losing 45% vote was “a pretty solid base for elevated. . . . It will definitely keep it alive."

Never say die, apparently. But we suspect state Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, was closer to the mark when he told the Stranger's Slog: “A loss is a loss. Legislators who lose 55 to 45 don’t get to be legislators.”

Private mail

old Seattle post officeAnother spooky note (via Blue Oregon), about the Post Office beginning to contract out mail delivery, to relatively low-paid workers. It comes in a piece in the Beaverton Valley Times written by Peter Shapiro, a Hillsboro mail carrier who edits B-Mike, the monthly publication of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82.

Yes, there's a union issue here, but also an issue for anyone who depends on reliable and safe delivery of the mail. He writes, "Across the U.S., the Postal Service is experimenting with hiring cut-rate private contractors to deliver your mail. Local postmasters who once had the authority to approve new addresses for delivery service must now get approval from higher-ups. Here in Washington County, mail service for 374 new addresses in the Arbor Park development near Bethany are slated to be contracted out. Additional addresses are being contracted out near Orenco Station."

Where's this going? "There’s always the temptation to farm out the work to private entrepreneurs who claim they can do it on the cheap," he writes, and the point is compelling: You often do get what you pay for. But will your important mail (such as money mail, and mail with sensitive personal information enclosed) arrive as it should?

Shapiro said that an informational picket line at the Beaverton post office will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. on March 15.

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