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Posts tagged as “Oregon”

First take/California

The hottest recent Oregonian story as measured by heated comments must be the piece about the vandal who's been slapping "No Californians" stickers on house for-sale signs. After the story made its way down to California, a bunch of Californians responded with the predictable "we'd never want to move there anyway" type comments. Some of the idea behind it may come from worries about gentrification and costs of homes, especially in the Portland area, being driven upward; although prices of homes in California are more widely variable than many people think. (San Francisco's through-the-roof prices aren't typical.) Some may have to do with ideas about who these Californians are; but in a state with tens of millions of people, who can say what's a typical Californian? The biggest fact about California is that it's big, and diverse, and the variations are vast. Of course, if you want to go back to the Tom McCall pull-up-the-drawbridge approach, covering entrants of any kind, that would be another argument entirely. - rs (photo/Alfonzo Jimenez)

A ‘top one’ primary

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In Oregon and nationally the independent movement continues to gain momentum which, here in Oregon with its closed primary, presents a real challenge to democracy.

In 2014, some voters rights activists got the Top Two primary Measure 90 on the ballot, which if passed would have changed Oregon’s closed primary to an open top two primary. It failed after the Democrats and Republicans joined forces to argue it was an infringement on their right to have their members select their own nominees.

But Oregon could have a primary system that protected a political parties right to select it’s own representative, allowed minor parties to preserve their place on the November general election ballot and still gave independent voters an equal vote and meaningful participation in the state financed May primary elections.

The Top One Primary wouldn’t replace Oregon’s closed Democratic and Republican Primaries. It would supplement it. Democratic and Republican party members would be allowed to vote for their party’s nominee in a closed primary with the winner moving onto the November ballot as their party nominee. Democrats and Republicans should be satisfied.

However, along with the closed major party primary, the state would also conduct an open Top One election.

Who would vote: The top one would be open to all non affiliated voters, and to any minor or major party voters whose political party opted into the top one election. So all voters in Oregon would be able to participate in the Democratic or Republican closed primary, in the top one primary, or in their minor party’s nomination process. All Oregonians pay for the primary election. All get to vote. An equal right to participate for all voters, without having to join a party they don’t want to belong to. And party unity is preserved for those major and minor parties who decide to hold their own nomination processes.

Who Could be candidates: Any registered voter would be able to run in the top one primary. Regardless of party affiliation or lack of affiliation. While there is a valid argument that a party should be able to decide who gets to vote for their nominee, there is no valid reason for a party to be able to say which of their party members can stand for election before the voters through an alternative nominating process. And, an optional provision would be to allow a candidate for their own party’s nomination to be a candidate in the Top One open primary as well. This would provide for cross nominations that are now allowed in Oregon. So, the winner of the Republican Primary may also be the winner of the top one open primary if they chose to opt into their party election and the Top One primary.

The benefits:

All voters feel like they have an equal voice and equal vote.
All taxpayers who finance the primary election would be able to fully participate
It may be less expensive and more predictable to run elections with a Top One than under current law which allows each major party to open or close their primary.
Political parties could protect their right to nominate their own candidates
A Democratic or Republican who felt they stood little chance of winning their primary (a pro choice Republican, an PERS reform Democrat), could opt to run in the top one primary without having to re-register.
If we also allowed a candidate to be included on both their party closed primary ballot and the top one open primary, then they couldn’t just run towards their base. They would have to appeal to the moderate independents if they wanted both their party and the top one nomination.

Imagine a Ballot in November that included the Democratic nominee, representing 38% of Oregon voters preference, a Republican nominee representing 29% of Oregonian voters preference, and the Top One candidate representing 29% of Oregonians preference. Imagine if major party candidates were allowed to be on the open top one primary ballot as well as their party closed primary ballot. In a swing district where the predominant party nominee generally wins by 8% the primary campaigning of both the dominant and less dominant party candidates may change because both would have to campaign and communicate with the independent voters in their district, not just their partisan bases.

Preserve Party prerogatives and rights. All voters have meaningful participation. Encourages consensus campaigns, not just campaigns to the partisan base. Provides a path for moderates from both major parties a chance at securing a major nomination, major media coverage. Most importantly, it provides real options in November for not only independent voters, but for Democratic and Republican registered voters who prefer consensus to confrontation.

Whats not to like?

(For purposes of this article, my reference to major party includes only the Democratic and Republican Parties and not the Independent Party of Oregon which just recently reached major party status)

First take

A little sad to see the selling out of Dave's Killer Bread in Milwaukie, Oregon. It' been an independent for about 60 years, starting as Nature Bake. It has one (large) bakery in Oregon. It came by its current name after its co-founder, Dave Dahl, ran into some legal problems; but the bread long has been considered to be of high quality, and holding to high organic standards. That's what led Flower's Foods of Georgia to seek it out and buy it: Customers are much attuned to the kind of bread Dave's produces. Sales price was reported at $275 million. Of the sale, Dahl said, "It is bittersweet but I've been working on getting my head right for the baby to grow. It's happening. And now I'm just going to kick back, and watch it grow and enjoy my life." He's straight up about it. - rs

First take

Here's a sentence from the Associated Press article on the fire: "The fire blew across U.S. Highway 95 and moved a mile and a half in 8 minutes, said fire spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management." A mile and a half in eight minutes . . . that's moving. And the fire, called the Soda Fire, is big, approaching 200 square miles (it's passed 200,000 acres) out in in the desert region of southwest Idaho and (the smaller part) in southeast Oregon. Evacuations have been ordered. This is the first really big wildfire so far this year in Idaho or Oregon, but it arrives on schedule at the time of year when the big ones normally hit. Little wonder senators from Idaho and Oregon are pushing hard for more federal effort in fighting wildfires. Get ready for more. - rs

First take

For 20 years, the top sector of the Oregon agricultural economy was nurseries - not something most people would have guessed, but there it is. This week, the state Department of Agriculture is reporting that order of finish has been upended, as cattle/livestock has moved into first place. This comes at a moment when a number of the state's larger cattle operations want to expand the head of cattle they can have. (The largest examples are in the Tillamook area, which is already is the state's biggest dairy center.) Here's some material from state Ag's statement on the economic order:

For the first time in 20 years, there’s a new leader among Oregon’s diverse agricultural commodities in terms of production value. Cattle and calves has regained the top spot with a record breaking year in 2014, overtaking greenhouse and nursery products. It was 1994 when greenhouse and nursery supplanted cattle and calves as number one.

Newly released statistics from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) provides a preliminary picture of last year’s crop and livestock value of production. The numbers indicate that Oregon agriculture continues to be a major economic contributor to the state. The overall estimate for total production value in 2014 is about $5.4 billion, which is roughly unchanged from the past couple of years. Some commodities have shown tremendous increases while others have declined. The successful ones rely on a formula of good production and high prices for what was sold.

With Oregon producing more than 220 commodities as part of its agriculture, there will always be some winners and some losers any given year. In general, the results of 2014 show more pluses than minuses. The value of agricultural production in Oregon last year includes a top ten list that reflects the new leader, but most of the names are familiar. ...

In addition to cattle and calves swapping places with greenhouse and nursery products from the previous year’s list, wine grapes cracked the top ten while onions dropped out. All top ten commodities showed an increase in production value from 2013 with the exception of wheat and potatoes. For the first time in history, Oregon had two commodities above the $800 million mark in production value and four commodities valued at more than a half billion dollars. Onions, Christmas trees, and blueberries just missed the top ten list yet still eclipsed $100 million in production value.

“It was generally a great year for Oregon’s farmers and ranchers,” says Kathryn Walker, special assistant to the director for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “When you have so many commodities with a production value above $500 million, that’s impressive.”

By far, the most dramatic rise in production value in Oregon comes from cattle country– a nearly 38 percent increase from 2013 to 2014.

“That industry hasn’t been number one since the early 90s, so I’m sure it’s exciting to them to be a leader once again,” says Walker. “There have been some very strong cattle prices the last couple of years and that is reflected in the value of production for cattle and calves.”

The cattle and calves category is also approaching a status enjoyed only once by an Oregon agricultural commodity– the billion dollar club. Greenhouse and nursery products reached $1.039 billion in 2007. A year later, the economic recession took its toll specifically on nursery products and grass seed. Nonetheless, greenhouse and nursery is making its way back and recorded an increase of 11 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Commodities with other increases in production value in 2014 include milk (+23 percent), pears (+14 percent), hay (+11 percent), wine grapes (+10 percent), grass seed (+9 percent), and hazelnuts (+7 percent). Wheat (-22 percent) and potatoes (-3 percent) were the only commodities on the negative side of the ledger.

Some commodities outside the top ten recorded large increases in production value, including sweet corn (+29 percent) and blackberries (+18 percent). Blueberries, which occasionally reaches the top ten, saw a healthy increase (+8 percent) and continues to show strong gains each year.

Money hardball ahead

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GoLocalpdx.com is a startup online news site. Every Friday they publish a who’s hot and who’s not column by Douglas Fasching.

In todays column Senator Richard Devlin is skewered as a “not hot” because Devlin has signaled his intent to run for Secretary of State and:

“The speculation is that he is not giving up his Senate seat while he runs for higher office. He intends to hold onto his leadership role whilst campaigning. While it is not required to give up one’s seat, it is still poor form. Lastly, the rumor has him intending to dip into his campaign war chest to finance his campaign. A war chest that now stands at about 272k. Money he raked in by being the 3rd most powerful person in the Senate chairing the most powerful committee in the legislature. Money that should be going to help get other Dem Senators elected not financing your own aspirations. Using your position and a shit-ton of money to deter others from jumping in a race really isn’t fair. Nobody likes a bully”

Bam!

Who could have “speculated”? Who could whispered to Mr. Fasching the “rumor” that Devlin’s dipping into his campaign war chest to conduct his campaign? Who would have the motive to do that?

The Devlin spot ends with “Cheer up, Val, at least you don’t have a recall to deal with.” So apparently Someone named Val who was recently facing a recall was on Mr. Faschings mind when he wrote the article. For some reason.

This story could have been suggested to Mr. Fasching by someone partly as a response the Oregonian article about Hoyle’s announcement. That article tells the story of Hoyle starting well behind potential rivals for the SoS office Devlin and current Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian in the money race (Hoyle has only $30,000 on hand versus Devlin’s $272,000 and Avakian’s $133,000)

If there’s one thing you need to have in Oregon’s no holes barred campaign finance and spending anarchy, its a boatload of money. And money attracts money. Anyone starting with a real and significant deficit of money may quickly fall behind in a race. No one wants to be on the losing team. And while one way to compete is to raise money, the other way is to see if you can keep your opponent from raising – or using – money, by for instance shaming them into limiting the use of their campaign treasury.

So, while we don’t know who planted the seed for the GoLocalPDX story, we can draw reasonable inferences.

With the real meaningful political races in Oregon now being waged in the Primaries, we can expect some real hardball between Democrats. And some players are more willing to slide hard into second with their spikes up.

First take

Is Oregon really "allowing 15-year-olds to get state-subsidized sex-change operations”, as Fox news has it? And thereby unleashed an uproar among the gotta-have-something-new-to-be-angry-about-today crowd? It's one of those cases, one of those many cases, where there's a piece of truth surrounded by misinformation. You'd get this impression from the article that this is a new ruling by Oregon liberals gone wild. The medical age of consent in Oregon has been 15 since 1971 - a long time, and without significant debate - and, the Oregon Health Authority told KOIN-TV, "Patients should be able to demonstrate the capacity to make a fully informed decision and to give consent to treatment, regardless of age. However, nothing in Oregon law requires a health care provider to provide medical services to a minor or safeguard the confidentiality of a minor. In most cases, providers will encourage (and in some cases require) family engagement and supports unless it would endanger the patient.” Are gender-changing medical procedures included in procedures covered by the Oregon Health Plan? Yes. But stopping there ignores that the nearly 500 procedures are prioritized, meaning that in most cases procedures toward the bottom of the list won't make the cut - and this one is close to the bottom of the list. And so on. Such facts are more reflective of reality, but don't fit so easily on a bumper sticker. (photo/"PortlandTramCar3" by User:Cacophony - Own work.)

On the border

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Across the border from Idaho, people are buying, selling and consuming marijuana – legally under state law.

As of July 1, the rules changed in Oregon to more or less throw the doors open, at least within a tax-and-regulate system.

If you think about the way Idahoans interact with their liquor sales system, you could draw a rough comparison, factoring in private businesses (not state stores) that can sell pot and some limitations on how much of it a single person or household can possess, or grow. But balanced out, the sense of the rules is not far from the level of regulation Idaho has for liquor; the Oregon argument called for legalizing, regulating and taxing it. (The Oregon agency charged with overseeing it is its state liquor control agency.)

The activity is likely to be thinner in the areas near Idaho, east of the Cascades, because a new state law made it a little easier for local cities and counties to limit or ban pot-related businesses (though not pot possession or use) locally. The provision applies to counties which opposed legalization, all of which are east of the Cascades. You can expect to see some headlines about whether Ontario and other border communities, for example, will allow pot shops within city limits.

That may soften the borderline effect a little, but it won’t do away with it.

The changes in Oregon mean, adding in the similar system in Washington state, the whole west side of Idaho now faces states where under state law – if not fully federal – the marijuana marketplace is largely open. There’s also Alaska, for good measure. And, of course, one state over, Colorado is the fourth state to approve full legalization. In each of these states, businesses are developing, local societies are adjusting and legal marijuana is becoming a billion-dollar industry.

That’s the recreation pot picture, but bear in mind that most western states now allow for medical uses. West of Texas and the Dakotas, all but three states (Idaho, Utah, Wyoming) have at least partial legalization. Nevada and Montana allow for medical use, and there’s a good chance one or both will move toward full legalization in the next election or two.

Idaho, Utah or Wyoming, of course, seem no more likely today to legalize than they ever have. What’s happening – and the change in Oregon last week emphasized it again – is that those three are becoming an island in the West.

To be clear, of course, that’s not the same thing as being an island in the nation. Across the Great Plains, the old South and the mid-Atlantic states, the rules on marijuana are mostly still unchanged. But the West (and the Northeast, and part of the Great Lakes area) have moved into a new regime, and in sharp contrast to a decade ago, Idaho is becoming part of the aberration.

This is of course just one issue, and most directly it affects only a minority of people – the number of legal pot users in the “legal states” surely will be limited, and the number of illegal users in the prohibition states even smaller. But the effects could be broader, especially if people from the “legal states” – including non-users – start reporting persistent experiences of being stopped and searched across the border.

There’s been some of this already, and the fact that most of the enforcement activity in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming doesn’t seem to have changed in recent years may not matter a lot.

The gaps in laws and permissions between the states long have been significant, but the change in marijuana laws is ratcheting things up significantly.

First Take

The Los Angeles Times today runs a fine scene-setting story from inside the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise, as tension slowly rises and staff look closely at the development of wildfires around the west. It reports: "On this morning, the picture isn't pretty. It's ominous in a hold-on-to-your-seat way that casts a pall over two dozen fire analysts, meteorologists and forest experts. They see a growing scourge of fierce yellow and red dots, each representing a new fire, and they furrow their brows." At the moment, most of the fires are in Alaska and California. But that will change. (photo/BLM, as used in the LA Times)

Eugene has spent a long time working on a replacement for its old and somewhat revered Civic Stadium - it has routinely provided front page headlines for months. Now, yesterday, it burned down, a total loss. The stadium had been run by Eugene city and the local school district; a private local alliance planned to renovate it. Eugene is in shock.