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And late, too

The timing was not good. Just days after announcing the upcoming $3 toll at the rebuilt Tacoma Narrows bridge, there's more news: The April 2007 opening has now been moved to July 2007.

Presumably, the contractor is not happy about this either; apparently the delay wil lbe costly on that front. The question here: Will the delay make the toll a tougher sell?

To Bend (v)

Alot of people in the Bend area take great pride in the rapid growth that area has seen in recent years. A city of just 13,710 people in 1970 (and just half again as many in 1990), its population now is estimated to clock in at 70,328.

All of that has not come without its pressures, which get reflected in the way other communities consider it. Hence, an article in the Bend Bulletin about the reputation that city has to the northeast, in Walla Walla.

The keynote was this quote from Walla Walla lawyer Daniel Clark: "(Bend) certainly has a reputation for that type of very rapid growth that has overwhelmed the pre-existing community. That’s not something that people who value their community and their culture and their environment really ask for.” Or, to sum up from an increasingly popular bumper sticker seen in town, "Don't Bend Walla Walla."

Walla Walla, a pleasant southeast Washington town of about 30,000 - its population has been generally steady state for a generation - has a varied economic base: The state prison, a substantial private college (Whitman), a well-known apple crop, and a fast-rising and highly-regarded wine industry. Some locally are wondering if the place is beginning to develop the kind of cachet that could lead to big-time growth. It may be on the verge of being "disocovered."

The point of the Bulletin story: A number of local people seem to be getting out ahead of the curve, not to stop growth or change but to manage it, so the small city doesn't lose its character and special qualities, which it does have.

That alone would, in a number of respects, put it out ahead of Bend.

The infamous poll: Another take

Not long after we ran the Tuesday post on the Sorensen poll, we started hearing about it.

The poll is a campaign poll, from the campaign of Sheila Sorensen, one of the half-dozen candidate for the U.S. House in the

We heard personally from one of the other candidates, who disagreed with the analysis (which was only partial and limited in that post). The Nampa Idaho Press Tribune ran a story today about the other candidates reacting to the Sorensen poll. (No free link to that available.) We also got this from a reader:

I can’t help but wonder if you have suddenly become her press secretary. Who conducted the poll? From people that I have talked with, it is evident that this is push polling.Do you have the questions that were asked? What is the name of the reputable company that has done this polling? Then, why doesn’t she have this info on her web site?

Taking these points in reverse order . . . (more…)

Choosing questions

Some states, Washington and Oregon for two, develop statewide and localized voter guides which include information about the candidates for office, and information from the candidates - campaign statements and so on - included as well. They can be helpful assists to voting.

Idaho doesn't have such a publication, but it does have this primary season something called the Gem State Voter guide, published by a collection of very conservative groups - Idaho Values Alliance (conservative Christian, led by Bryan Fischer) , Education Excellence Idaho (principally backing charter, private and home school options), Idahoans for Tax Reform (an anti-tax group, led by Laird Maxwell), This House is My Home (another Maxwell group, aimed at undercutting land use planning), and Idaho Chooses Life (anti-abortion, led by David Ripley). Word is that their voter guide will be distributed through churches and allied organizations around Idaho.

What's interesting in these surveys is both the nature of questions asked, and who responds, and how. (more…)

Quarter view

The state quarter design choices have been an intriguing proposition all around: How do you effectively summarize what your state is about in a simple, and small, image?

Washington quarter designIt's an imperfect thing, but the idiosyncrasy of it can be charming. Does Crater Lake really sum up Oregon? Well, no. But it's a pleasing design, and you could say that some of the things you can say about Crater Lake can be said - metaphorically - about the state.

And so maybe Washington's choice too, chosen by Governor Chris Gregoire and just released, with the salmon and Mount Rainier. Think in terms of metaphor, and some of the connections with the state;s life and society and economy and even politics can come a little clearer.

Is it Saxton?

The just-out Oregonian and KATU poll shows Ron Saxton in what looks like a decided first place, poised to win the Republican nomination for Oregon govenror in the election now underway. (Yes, under way, ballots already having hit home mailboxes and started making their way back to the counties).

Maybe he will. But call us a little uncertain just yet.

The poll, which gives Portland lawyer Saxton 31% of the vote (favorable or leaning toward), while 2002 nominee Kevin Mannix gets 24% and state Senator Jason Atkinson 18%. There's a 5.6% margin of error, which could render the race fairly close.

(There's a bigger gap on the Democratic side, with Ted Kulongoski predictably well ahead of Jim Hill and Pete Sorensen.)

So does that suggest a Saxton win in the making? Certainly, a win is quite possible; he's heavily outspending his opponents, his ads have been hard to miss on the tube, and he's been picking up plenty of endorsements, notably newspaper endorsements. But then, in 2002 he picked up 24 of 25 of those around the state, and still came in third.

The variable in the equation is: Who actually votes? Traditionally, the extreme and the party activists do, and that would help Mannix, out of proportion to his poll numbers. On the other hand, good headlines for Saxton during the voting period might shore up his numbers.

Don't assume a done deal.

Unlikely to soothe

Could be an easy thing for Senator Maria Cantwell to do. With a clear majority (55% or more in recent poll) among Americans in disapproving - now - of the nation's entry into Iraq and of its ongoing effort there, might be easy for minority senators like Maria Cantwell to "solidify the base", renounce the entry into the war and urge immiedate troop withdrawal.

She han't. Her statement Wednesday on Iraq doubtless was ment to soothe the distressed, but it gives little ground and seems unlikely to do so.

Idaho 1st: One take

Headed toward the finish line a three weeks hence, the six-way Republican race for the the House in Idaho's 1st district appears to continue fluid, its outcome not yet nailed down. The contours for the end game do at least start to take a more definite shape.

Sheila Sorensen billboardThe bottom line seems to be a probable win by either state Representative Bill Sali or former state Senator Sheila Sorensen 9with a small edge to the former). That's not a rule-out of other possibilities, just an expression of what seems now to be the likelihood.

That's based in part on the appearance of activity, the way the candidates have been responding to each other and what looks like the shifts in base that each candidate can call their own.

It isn't much based on the one bit of recently-released polling information - for reasons we're about to mention - though it does give some useful cause for reflection. (more…)

Where it hits hard

This is where people get really upset about regulation, and you can understand why . . .

Baker City is out there by its own self, quite a distance from other communities. I-84 runs through it, but the 10,000 people of Baker are a distinct community - about 40 minutes from La Grande, the nearest community of similar size, and well over an hour from Ontario. You drive over substantial mountains to get to anywhere else, and those roads - this includes the freeway - get tricky at various points in the winter.

Baker City, and Baker County for that matter, has one movie theatre, the Eltrym Theatre, and you just know that's an important fixture in town. A lot of small-town theatres like it have closed over the years, but the Eltrym has stayed afloat. And now the big movie season, summer, is just about to begin . . .

Maybe. The theatre apparently hasn't met fire safety water sprinkler codes, hasn't for some years, and now the Baker City Council has given its owner until June 30 to at least come up with a plan to meet the requirements. (We're not belittling that; yes, we know about the fires that have taken lives in firetrap buildings.) If the requirements are strictly adhered to, there's a good chance that the owner might just walk away, and the theatre may close.

You get the feeling that a lot of people in Baker are going to be very unhappy if there's not a serious attempt to find some ground everyone can live with . . .