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Posts published in November 2008

How many left?

There can't be, at this point, very many elective governing boards that never have elected a woman to the group.

We now know of at least one - at least, that has applied until now. Last week, Helen Price Johnson was sworn in as a member of the Island County Commission, the first woman in its 155 years of existence. Owing to an election still unresolved, she may actually be joined by a second before long.

How many other such groups are there out there?

An industrial park that worked

Travel around small towns in the Northwest and it'll seem half of them have something designated as an industrial or business park - a place where businesses, especially but not exclusively manufacturers, are given encouragement to take root. It often seems a good idea but so often fails to pick up steam. A lot of them look sadly underpopulated.

So, an interesting piece in the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce about an industrial park success story at Estacada, a hidden-away (in a pretty area in the Cascade foothills) little town, not long ago a post-timbertown depression story, which seems of late to be finding its economic footing. In 2003, only one person worked on the 25-acre tract. Now: ". . . the once paltry property has exploded, morphing into the Estacada Industrial Park. The new center of all things industrial – typically steel fabrication and mechanical work – now employees more than 100 people at 12 locally owned companies."

There seems to have been no single silver bullet, more a confluence of good fortune. (And locals are talking about finding ways to accelerate further.) But it's a story worth considering as businesses, and people, hunt for answers in tougher days.

Less jammed up in winetown

At winetown

Heavy traffic on Main Street, Carlton, Oregon, on Thanksgiving/Stapilus

Talk in news reports about substantial crowds (reflecting lower gas prices) but low-level shopping (reflecting the general economic troubles) on this post-Thanksgiving weekend found reflection in smaller locales as well as larger.

Carlton wine shops

Carlton wine shops

In Oregon wine country, there are two especially large-scale weekend events, one on Memorial Day weekend, the other on Thanksgiving weekend. Mass crowds run through the wine towns, and wine tasting rooms are packed. In our small town of Carlton (population about 1,800 people, 20+ wineries or tasting rooms) this weekend is as busy as the year gets. So what was business like?

The story from place to place was consistent. The number of visitors was comparable to last year, maybe down a little. The number of cars was fewer, the traffic jams a little less jammed, because of a shuttle bus program recently established (a wise move, in intensive wine-tasting country), but the number of people seemed similar. But the number of buyers was definitely down. After a strong Friday, the number of buyers on Saturday was definitely down.

Not much disagreement from what we heard: The economy is definitely putting a crimp in things. For whatever it's worth, wine country isn't immune. And may be a good indicator.

ID: Outgoing web

In the going-away department, we checked in on the congressional web sites for Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representative Bill Sali, both leaving office soon but not yet through with their terms of office, or work for constituents.

Craig's web site seems to be unavailable - drawing error messages. (Let me know if you find otherwise.)

Sali's is up, but it hasn't been updated since October. (Craig's has been.)

UPDATE We may need to amend the report on Craig's site - some other Senate sites seem to be down also.

Civil War and Barack Obama

Oregonians know that come this weekend is the mighty Civil War: The annual football game between the University of Oregon (at Eugene) and Oregon State (at Corvallis). It's a hot deal. Word is that tickets are going for $1,000 and more on eBay.

Someone, naturally, has pulled a political perspective (the one from the right) out of this. There is no escaping politics any more . . .

Them who show up

Awhole lot of politics, like a lot of the rest of life, gets determined by whoever it is that makes the effort to, you know, show up. As in this case from Seattle (on an issue expanding rapidly all over the west coast). From the Stranger's Slog:

"The anti-bag-fee 'coalition' — AKA, the American Chemistry Council, which advocates against regulation on plastics and toxic chemicals — has collected more than $227,000, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reports, for its campaign to repeal the 20-cent fee on disposable grocery bags. Fully $217,000 of that came directly from the chemical-industry lobby group. At the moment, there is no pro-bag-fee campaign. For this and other reasons, I'm certain that the well-intentioned bag fee—a voluntary charge for those who choose not to carry their groceries in a backpack or reusable 99-cent canvas bag—will be overturned by voters when it's on the ballot next year."

And if you're not a Seattlite, coming to your community next . . .

Reviewing Ron Sims

Ron Sims

Ron Sims

He's been mentioned as a prospect for the Obama Administration, and maybe he is. But first maybe a look back at the administration of King County Executive Ron Sims would be worth while.

The Seattle Weekly does just that this week, in prickly fashion. It's detailed and expansive enough to b be worth the extended read.

Core quote, from Rollin Fatland, who worked on two Sins executive campaigns: "Somewhere along the line, the county lost its focus, its mission of providing basic services like jail, Metro [buses], and elections. It ran into trouble straying and getting into areas that may not be a county mandate. On a personal level, I have affection for Ron. He's a nice man, but somewhere along the line he got off track."

DUI in action

Per arrival of the holiday season - drinking season, for a lot of people - a recommend for reading - a nicely-focused and detailed piece in the Idaho Statesman following a DUI-tasked state trooper, as he watches for and eventually arrests a string of drunk drivers.

Several points jump out among the details. One is the sheer level of drunkenness: Assuming the machine readings were right, these people ranged between .12 and .20 blood alcohol level. That isn't a little tipsy: That is seriously, raging blotto. And while some acknowledge that situation (one, who said "I can't stop drinking - it makes everything go away", said he'd probably just had 36 cans of beer to drink) another (who was upward of .12) remarked, "I don't feel drunk." Probably didn't feel much at all . . .

A hat tip for the pointer by Dennis Mansfield, whose own blog entry on the subject also is worth reading.

Two at the Federalist Society

Richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

You may recall the news brief from last week about Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, who while delivering a speech in Washington collapsed - lost consciousness - and was rushed to a hospital. Reports indicate he has fully recovered since. Which would not occasion a post here, except for an incident that preceded the collapse, and where the speech was delivered.

The speech was delivered on the one-year anniversary of the department of Mukasey's predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, and was a strongly-worded endorsement of the Bush Administration's expansion of assumed powers in areas of habeas corpus, torture, eavesdropping and others: "I am afraid what we hear is a chorus with a rather more dissonant refrain. Instead of appreciation, or even a fair appraisal, of the Administration’s accomplishments, we have heard relentless criticism of the very policies that have helped keep us safe."

The New York Times reported that "There was no immediate indication of the cause of his collapse" toward the end of the address, but some in the audience pointed to one - a verbal riposte from someone in the audience, about 15 minutes before the collapse. Several witnesses said that a person at one of the tables exclaimed, "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!"

That person - though he maintains that he exclaimed only the word "tyrant!," then left - turned out to be a judge: Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders. Sanders today acknowledged his commentary, and released a memo on it. An excerpt:

Mr. Mukasey said those who criticize the Administration for abandoning provisions of the Geneva Conventions fail to recognize that “... Al Qaeda [is] an international terrorist group, and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions.” Although the United States is a signatory, and these Conventions prohibit torture, the audience laughed. Attorney General Mukasey received a standing ovation. I passionately disagree with these views: the government must never set aside the Constitution; domestic and international law forbids torture; and access to the writ of habeas corpus should not be denied.

The program provided no opportunity for questions or response, and I felt compelled to speak out. I stood up, and said, “tyrant,” and then left the meeting. No one else said anything. I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice.

The group to which Mukasey was speaking, and from which Sanders excused himself, was the Federalist Society, as Sanders said, "a conservative and libertarian legal group of which I am a member." It is also more, a very powerful interest group which has had great sway over the selection of federal judicial appointees; prominent members have included Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, who you might recall are now on the U.S. Supreme Court. Its members have often, widely, been big supporters of the Bush Administration and its expansive approaches.

It was a hotter group in times of Republican hegemony. On Friday, the Washington Post led an article on the group this way: "Last year, there was a candlelight dinner at sold-out, shut-down Union Station to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Federalist Society, with President Bush on stage and three Supreme Court justices in the audience. This year, it's 'welcome to the wilderness,' as a former Clinton administration appointee good-naturedly told the group of lawyers yesterday at its annual meeting."

But Sanders' reaction at the dinner could presage something more: Some emerging differences of opinion about what a conservative interpretation of the law ought to be. Ad that might be a thought enough to make more than a few Bush Administration supporters among the Federalist society more than a little woozy.