Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: May 14, 2007”

Flipping sides

One of the political norms of the Northwest is this: Indian tribes vote Democratic. It's broadly the case, and in some places it sticks out. Jefferson County, Oregon, and Bingham County, Idaho, to cite two examples, are two strongly Republican counties; in each case, the one precinct that tends to go Democratic is the one holding most of the population of an Indian reservation (Warm Springs and Fort Hall reservations, respectively).

Which is what makes interesting the report today that the nine Indian tribes of Oregon (those groups, often including many bands each, recognized by the federal government) all have endorsed Republican Gordon Smith for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The numbers involved are not especially large; only about 1.4% of Oregonians are Native American. But Smith can take some useful symbolism from it.

Blind spot

Today's editorial in the Astorian points out a true regional oddity: "Watch television weather reports from around the Pacific Northwest and you will notice a curious thing. Radar shows our skies cloudless as the Sahara."

Not all the time, of course. But often, especially from late spring to early fall.

The explanation? "The answer is simply the Willapa Hills and the Coast Range, which block the sweeping beams of Doppler radar stations positioned around Puget Sound and the Willamette Valley, 100 or more miles from the ocean. Even when the radar does manage to peer down the Columbia River channel to the sea, it lacks the resolution to pick up some of the tightly packed little welter-weight weather systems that almost routinely pound our communities and fishing boats senseless in violent rounds of hours' or days' duration."

The edtorial calls for an additional Doppler radar station or two; correctly placed, they could resolve the problem.

You might think the Portland and Seattle television stations would be calling for something similar, if only to cut back on the cognitive dissonance.

“Dead, dead, dead”

We saw no lack of headlines during the Washington legislative session this year about the NASCAR effort, and that of its backers, to pass legislation so that a big-league race track would be built in Kitsap County. The effort failed; the track will not be built, there at least.

We saw little, during that time, about the successful effort to block it - that effort operated much more quietly. But it was well-organized and highly effective. And now many of the details are emerging, thanks to an effort by Kitsap Sun reporter Steven Gardner to piece together the e-mail trail linking legislators opposed to the track plan. (Hat tip to the Dave Postman blog for noting it.) It's one of the best uses of e-mail document requests we've seen so far, aided by the fact that the nine legislators involved simply turned them over to the paper rather than fight.

Gardner reports, "The e-mails show a concerted effort on the part of a few legislators to counter International Speedway Corp.’s lobbying efforts, which included courting by traditional lobbyists and NASCAR celebrities."

Nothing earth-shattering emerges - nothing as ill-considered as House Speaker Frank Chopp's offhand insinuation of a Richard Petty DUI that never was. But mail Gardner cites - as email often will be - was blunt enough that everyone's take on the situation, strategy and all, was abundantly clear. As Representative Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, wrote in one mail, "I want this dead, dead, dead."

They succeeded. The story outlines how.