Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Carla and Les AuCoin have Vulcan Mind Meld

Okay we didn't...but we're definitely on the same page:

At last week's oversight hearing on forest science in Medford, Daniel Donato, a graduate student at Oregon State University's School of Forestry, was taught a harsh lesson in political science: In today's climate, if a scientist follows his findings to wherever they lead, he risks sticking his neck into a congressional noose.

Heh. Not bad, Les. Maybe TJ and I should consider asking you to guest blog for us.

After all, you did pick up on some stuff I missed:

Although Donato's findings are far from the last word on logging charred forests, they were peer-reviewed and published by the editors of Science magazine, one of the nation's premier scientific journals.

On the other hand, the spiritual sire of the Walden-Baird bill is a 2002 report by John Sessions, a professor at the OSU School of Forestry. Sessions' report contended that up to 2.5 billion board feet of timber could be commercially harvested in the area of the 2002 Biscuit fire in Southwestern Oregon -- in contrast to a 278 million board-foot cut that same year in Oregon and Washington combined -- with salutary effects on the Siskiyou National Forest. The Bush administration seized on those findings to propose one of the largest timber cuts in history.

I wonder if Mike Dubrasich knows that the guy whose research he's ass kissing isn't a forester??? After all, Dubrasich says that nobody but foresters know how to conduct forest research.


The dithering crap about Donato's research not having scientific cred is is garbage. Especially in light of the fact that Sessions' research hasn't undergone near the same rigorous review as Donato's.

This is about the money and where it leads. Not about good science inquiry.

Crack whoring the OSU forestry dispute

I suppose if I were willing to whore myself out to anonymous blog underwriters, I too would be willing to abandon all pretense of ethics and be a shill.

But I'm not and I won't.

Would that Mike Dubrasich could say the same thing. Dubrasich claims to be forester, working in the private sector since 1982. He's also got himself a very nasty "kill the messenger" post on his bought and paid for blog:

There is a hidden issue in the latest salvage-logging-after-catastrophic-forest-fires hoo-rah that strikes me as important. Dan Donato is just a kid, to me. He is a twenty-something Masters student. He has no significant background, training, or experience in anything. Did you when you were twenty-something? Me neither.

Dan was set up. He applied and was admitted to grad school at OSU CoF. He was assigned a major professor, Bev Law.

Dr. Beverly E. Law is Associate Professor of Global Change Forest Science in the College of Forestry, and she has an adjunct appointment with the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.

Bev had already wangled the funding for the Biscuit Burn Study as part of an OSU/BLM joint research effort. Bev assigned the field work to Dan, as is the practice. That’s what grad students are for.

Jeez. That's not just whoring, that's CRACK whoring. And its not even entertaining, well-informed crack whoring.

I've not interviewed Donato so I have no idea how his grad study assignment went down. I'm willing to bet the bill for my son's orthodonture that Dubrasich hasn't talked to Donato either. He's pulling this out of his ass.

The accusation that Law "wangled the funding" for the Biscuit Burn Study is laughable on its face.

Had Dubrasich taken a few minutes to read the OSU College of Forestry website, he might not have made such a monumental ass out of himself.

Linked to the OSU CoF site is a Bureau of Land Management Overview (warning: PDF) The BLM Overview unequivocally states that the Biscuit Fire project was funded through the Joint Fire Science Program(JFSP).

According to its website, the JSFP is "a partnership of six Federal wildland and fire and research organizations". Its unlikely that this group is interested in any leftwing librul fringe stuff. In addition, the JFSP website FAQ notes that part of their mission is to solicit proposals for science projects that answer questions or solve problems having to do with wildland fuels issues. The scientists within those six agencies would have to be the ones that decide who gets the money. I have a call in to the communications director of JSFP to confirm their process.

Its a straightforward competitive grants process. Law didn't "wangle" anything.

Dubrasich continues his pixel diarreah:

Dan did two summers of field work. His study design was funky, but it was the design he had been assigned. Dan did not use standard forestry sampling methods, perfected over a hundred years of practice, critique, and improvement. He used some goofy method, dumped on him by his major professor, who herself is not a forester, or a forest mensurationist, or a forest biometrician, and has zero experience at measuring anything.

His design was so funky that the most presigious scientific journal in the country, after reviewing the work, decided it was worthy of publishing. The staff at Science conduct a peer review before publication. They specifically noted that Donato's project had a "robust design".

So much for that.

And then there's another obligatory swipe at Law:

Bev is not a forester, but she is as political as all get out, and hugely biased. She is the one who suggested and oversaw the crappy methodology. She is the one who helped Dan directly with the faulty analysis and the cheap, political wording. She is the one who decided that the pseudo-ersatz Science Mag was the proper outlet. She is the one who set all that up. She is the one who jumped the BLM and violated the contract. She is the one who skirted all true peer review. Her name appears last on the paper, but the paper, its content, its review, and its publication are entirely a result of Bev’s exercise of her professorial responsibilities.

Many well respected, knowledgable scientists who work on forest research aren't foresters. That's a serious red herring. In fact, I couldn't find a single self identifying forester in the OSU Department of Forest Science. As far as "true peer review" goes, that's what getting published in a major journal IS--peer review. Dubrasich is either outright lying or he's completely ignorant of how peer reviewed scientific research is published. Neither makes him especially qualified to offer comment on this issue.

I have no idea if logging and reforestation in burned regions is best or if allowing the forest to regenerate on its own is best. No honest scientist can say that they know for sure. Smearing the scientists who do work in which you don't like the outcome is cowardly, unethical and smarmy.

If Dubrasich is really that torqued about the methodology, he should be a man and submit his "review" of Donato's paper to Science. When real scientists disagree with research methods or outcomes..they submit letters to the journal that published it. That gives those who conducted the disputed research the opportunity for rebuttal and clarification.

Instead Dubrasich hides behind his paid for blog--spouting smears and misinformation.

Breaking: First Things First Repeal Fails, Again!

So much for that hope:

PORTLAND, OREGON - CITY HALL -- The City of Portland announced today that the campaign to repeal the City's public campaign finance program has submitted 25,855 valid signatures, 836 less than the 26,691 required to qualify for the ballot.

This revised final signature count comes after the City, Multnomah County and State of Oregon elections officials discovered a technological error in the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration system and a procedural error in processing the petition sheets.

Multnomah County elections officials recertified and released the results to the City of Portland this morning. As soon as elections officials became aware of the potential errors, they requested advice from the Secretary of State's Elections Division. The County, City and State then undertook a full and thorough review of the petition to ensure that every valid signature was counted and that all applicable laws and procedures were carefully followed.

The technological error mistakenly excluded 49 registered voters from the valid signature count, while the procedural error mistakenly included over 180 petition sheets that contained circulator errors. The technological issue in the Centralized Voter Registration System has been resolved and city and county procedures have been reviewed to avoid future errors of this nature.

You win some (49 signatures), you lose some (180 pages).

According to The O this morning (not found online as far as I can tell), FtF is seeking an investigation of the process. I'm sure this will only deepen their resolve, but at the moment, the repeal is once again dead.

Update, 1pm:
I spoke with Diane Betcher, spokesperson in the Auditor's Office for the City. The person with primary responsibility for such matters is out of the office this week, but Betcher was able to describe the "circulator errors" in question. For the most part, they revolved around the process whereby the circulator affirms the information on each sheet of signatures. The circulator is to review each sheet, then sign AND DATE each sheet as an affadavit.

What was found was that the process was not followed: no date was given, the date was crossed out and not restated, or restated and not re-signed, and--most damagingly--signed PRIOR to the completion of the sheet. Because the signature stands as an affadavit that the circulator has reviewed the COMPLETED sheet, if citizen signatures appear that are dated after the date the circulator signed it, logically the circulator did not verify those signatures.

Betcher indicated that the rules on signature gathering were changed by the Secretary of State's office in 2004, but that in some cases the City did not receive the documentation of those changes until recently. Not having the proper point person available, Betcher could not say if the FtF petitioners were possibly given incorrect information on how to fill out the sheets, or even if the rules governing dates had changed in the latest version. I'm hunting down the SoS's office, and a copy of the rules, to see if that can be cleared up. Stay tuned...


Ashland Islamic Charity Sues over NSA Wiretaps

It's certainly possible that I've missed other reports*, but this is the first instance I'm aware of where a group has sued the US government over its program of NSA wiretaps, related to procedures set out in the FISA statutes. Perhaps more ominously, from the details it appears that not just one, but BOTH ends of the conversation took place in the United States.

According to the Jackson Mail Tribune:
A chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a defunct Saudi Arabian charity, was established in Ashland in 1997 as a prayer house that also distributed Islamic literature. The chapter was indicted in February 2004 on tax charges alleging it helped launder $150,000 in donations to help al-Qaida fighters in Chechnya in 2000.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland alleges the NSA illegally wiretapped electronic communications between the chapter and Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, both attorneys in Washington, D.C.

The complaint, which also names President Bush as a defendant, seeks “an order that would require defendants and their agents to halt an illegal and unconstitutional program of electronic surveillance of United States citizens and entities.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the two Washington attorneys and the Al-Haramain chapter by three Portland civil rights lawyers: Steven Goldberg, Zaha Hassan and Thomas Nelson.

“This case will show how the illegal program was implemented and used to the injury of United States citizens and charities,” Nelson said.

Last time I checked, both Ashland--the town in southern Oregon most noted for its annual Shakespeare Festival and 80% Kerry vote in 2004--and Washington DC were within the US. And if as the complaint notes, the NSA failed to secure a court order for the surveillance that ultimately led to a 2004 indictment on money-laundering to al-Qaeda sympathizers in Chechnya, it would establish that the parameters of the NSA's spying go beyond what the Bush administration alleges.

Owing to the sensitivity of the information involved, don't expect to see many details of the trial made public, and of course this is just the very first step in what stands to be a long and drawn-out process of ajudication. But we now appear to have an important threshhold met: a party who claims actual harm from the surveillance procedures set in place by the Bush administration. Without that necessary standing, legal motions to declare NSA actions as improper would have a much more difficult time gaining a hearing.

Stay tuned, obviously...depending upon the uniqueness of this filing, it could quickly become a national story.

Update, 230pm--
Based on this rundown from Wikipedia, while there are challenges currently under suit, it does appear that this is the first party that alleges actual harm from wiretapping. The al-Timimi case may turn out that way, but apparently the question of whether he was surveilled outside of FISA law is yet to be discovered.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Rasmussen: Teddy the K -AND- Jim Hill Whipping GOP Candidates

Noted (and mildly right-leaning) robopoller Rasmussen has released their latest poll on the Oregon goobernor's race, and for all the intraparty tussling by state Democrats, among the electorate anything with a (D) is still good enough for them:
Both Democrats lead all Republican challengers, but Kulongoski does better than Hill against each Republican campaigning for his job. Kulongoski leads Kevin Mannix 51% to 36%. But Hill also enjoys a comfortable lead over Mannix, 47% to 35%.

Kulongoski leads Republican Ron Saxton 47% to 33%. Hill leads Saxton 44% to 31%. When the Republican opponent is state Senator Jason Atkinson, Kulongoski leads 48% to 36% and Hill leads 42% to 36%.
As I said, editor Scott Rasmussen tends to trend right, so it's no surprise that his lede is not "Democrats currently a lock to retain executive," but that Kulongoski holds just a 50% approval rating and faces a strong primary challenge*. Even that spin looks like good news, since Survey USA's last goobernor's poll had Teddy the K at a dismal 38% approval and trending downward.

Somewhat more remarkable is Jim Hill's performance; despite generally low name recognition throughout the state, he still pulls over 40% regardless of his general election opponent. In fact, all three GOP candidates' numbers are similar vs either Dem candidate, which strengthens the notion that whatever happens in May, at the moment Oregon is a safe "hold" for Democrats in November.

As one more subtle indication of Rasmussen's bent, note that even Jim Atkinson got a test ballot; but not his Democratic equivalent, Pete Sorenson.

*not only does he have an odd lede, the headline for the Oregon story gives Colorado candidate for governor Dave Ritter the edge...!

Update, noon: As Blue Oregon notes and I neglected to mention, the poll does not include Ben Westlund, the independent candidate. While there has been much debate about which party's base his candidacy hurts more, for now I think it's reasonable to assume that voters would back Westlund in roughly equal proportions from either party. If anything, it may take more votes from the Republican side given Westlund's party history. So while it would have been nice to include Westlund, at this stage I don't think including him would have significantly altered the overall results.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

MAX System Anagrams

I gotta say, this rules. It's a map of the Portland MAX System, with all stops anagrammed. See if you can remember what the original stops were called.

My favorites?
* Has Germ
* No Bare Vet
* Sob Hill, OR
* Let 815 Warheads Vroom
* Acne Voter Owns 312
* Down With Toon Clan
* Slimy Ditch Trails
* Open Squirt Near Hero
* Simian Lips Sip Bias
* Love Pork Okra
* Never Naked on Vent

It would've been way creepy if "Sent to CPR" was where Kaiser Interstate was, but alas that's Love Pork Okra next door--although I suppose if you love pork okra, eventually you get sent to CPR.

Major Clanger's page has several great photo captures of the City of Roses.


PGE: Can't We All Just Forget the Past?

In another episode of the continuing attempt by PGE to prop up The O's ad budget and cleanse itself of dirty Enron afteraffects, CEO Peggy Fowler stared (unconvincingly) warmly back at me this morning and declared "It's Time to Focus on PGE's Future as an Independent, Oregon Company." Since print ads don't appear in the online version of the paper, I apologize for the scan job. To read it, click on the picture and then zoom in. While the headline is appropiately focus group-ready, don't be fooled--the entire ad is a reply to Portland City Council's request to review documents that may indicate overcharging and bilking of ratepayers for several years and many millions of dollars.
It follows a public rebuke in Saturday's O of the effort led by Randy Leonard:

PGE on Friday refused to turn over a slew of internal documents sought by the city, contending Portland officials are overreaching in their inquiry into the utility's income tax and power-trading practices.

"We concluded that the city doesn't have the authority to go ahead with an investigation of this sort," said Jay Dudley, PGE's associate general counsel.

Leonard's reply? Bring it: "Obviously, they're going to have to explain themselves to a judge."

Let's walk through a little of the ad. Fowler's statements are in normal text; my comments in italics:
In October, we voluntarily [eventually, and under duress] responded to a City of Portland data request and made ourselves available to answer [obliquely] any questions about the information we provided [and no answers to any questions NOT about the information provided.] Our response was met with an alarming lack of process on the City's part [the process we were looking for was rolling over and thanking us for the non-nutritious documentary biscuit we already gave them.]

The City has now asked PGE to produce an extraordinary amount of additional information [extraordinary being anything beyond what doesn't incriminate us] for their consultants to review--information that would take PGE tens of thousands of staff hours to produce and even more for the City to review. We have decided not to respond to the second request [in roughly the same way one 'decides' not to put their hand into a pizza oven.]
The process the City seeks to undertake would duplicate the work of other government agencies [were other agencies actually making the same request as Portland, in Portland's interest]. The OPUC, several federal agencies and the courts have the authority to investigate the types of concerns raised by city commissioners [and as we all know, authority equals action!] In fact, virtually all of the City's questions have been examined and resolved by other agencies or by the courts [virtually all--except the ones revolving around whether PGE has been pocketing Portlanders' tax money.]

What's interesting with this ad is how adroitly it avoids the tone expressed by spokespeople in the Oregonian piece the day before. Here's what they sent to City Attorney Linda Meng:
PGE's Dudley said the state law cited by the city, with roots in the 1911 Public Utility Act, doesn't specifically allow municipalities to investigate utilities.

"Because the Legislature has not expressly granted cities investigatory powers regarding utilities or their rates, the city has no authority to conduct the current investigation," Dudley wrote in his letter to Portland City Attorney Linda Meng. The state law pre-empts the city charter, Dudley said.
Now look again at the three reasons given by Fowler:
1. We're really good people!
2. Other agencies really should be the ones to look at this.
3. Letting the City look at it could cost YOU money!

The only one that comes close to addressing their actual position is #2, and even that sidesteps the "authority" issue in favor of "appropriateness." When talking to the masses, clearly Fowler wants to give the impression that City Council is just off on another one of their red herrings, well-meaning but misguided. But when the rubber meets the road and a formal response is required, "inappropriate" becomes "illegal." Obviously, responding to the question "Are you ripping us off?" with "you don't have the right to ask us that" didn't test well.

We'll try to get Commissioner Leonard over here for comment if we can...


Interesting tidbits from around Orygun

Color me impressed--the folks over at La Grande Observer understand the Measure 37 Mess:

Measure 37 isn't the answer to Oregonians' frustrations. Over time it will simply beget new frustrations, conflicting uses and unintended impacts. Measure 37 was a wake-up call to state and legislative officials who for years sat on their hands and refused to address the problems and inequities that had developed. And that's where Oregon's new task force on land use fits into the equation. Periodic review of the system is long overdue.

Who says that the east side and the west side of the Cascades have no common ground?

The Jackson County Mail Tribune has noticed a distinctly bad odor permeating from the Dubai port deal and the Bush Administration. The Mail Trib also remarked on the bipartisan concern on this issue: both DeFazio and Walden expressed reservations. The Dalles Chronicle has a very similar editorial.

Down in Roseburg, the News Review has coverage of the arraignment of Vincent Wayne Leodoro, the young man who witnesses say shot a classmate last Thursday at Roseburg High School.

And last but in my opinion not least, Willamette Week's Ivy Manning has the inside baseball on Portland's Liquid Revolution. AKA: If you want a great cocktail, Portland is the place to be.

That's something that the peeps on the east and west sides of the state can come together on as well: booze.

Shout It Out, Howard!

Oregon Democratic Party Chairman Jim Edmunds has an LA Times guest column homage to one of my personal political heros, Howard Dean:

Howard Dean's election as Democratic National Committee chairman was a shot across the bow of Washington's power clique, so it does not surprise us at the state-party level in Oregon that he is making our kin inside the Beltway nervous.

In fact, it delights us.

Dean speaks loudly about things our folks in Washington tip-toe to avoid. He condemns the Iraq war as misguided. He wonders why we don't worry more about nuclear weapons in North Korea.

Republicans preach morality, he says, but ignore poverty in the United States. Where is the respect for privacy when Republicans want to legislate end-of-life decisions for a brain-dead woman?

And Dean, the white Christian, acerbically grumbles that our nation is not stronger if we are viewed only as Caucasian mono-religious.

Are those comments misguided, or are they timely? The way we see it from this end of the country, the former presidential candidate is catching the wave.

Oregon isn't middle-America. When I hear the pundit class talking about Howard Dean not having appeal in the Heartland as if its some sort of negative--I cheer. The Heartland brought us the likes Joe McCarthy and has consistently voted disastrous politicos.

The well educated, tuned-in Oregonian knows better than that.

Yes..I said "well educated". Going to school and learning from educated people IS NOT A BAD THING, as much as the right would have us think so. Dean appeals to the well educated, engaged individuals who find the direction our nation is heading to be nothing short of catastrophic.

Moreover, Dean has a reliable way of being right. Something as Edmunds notes, drives a shot across the bow of the Washington power clique elites.

So keep on shouting, Howard. Give em hell.

Oh--so that's why Brian Baird is supporting Walden's logging bill

Friday's hearing in Medford had one puzzling aspect for me: Why is Brian Baird (Wa 03), a Democrat who has traditionally been a fervent critic of the Bush Administration's anti-science stance, grilling this grad student so hard in an attempt to subvert the science of his paper?

One possible answer: campaign money.

According to Noemie Maxwell at Washblog, Baird has been the happy recipient of $10,000 from Weyerhaueser and Simpson Investment Corporation between 2000 and 2005.

Open Secrets notes that Congressman Greg Walden is the top recipient in all of DC for Forestry and Forest Products campaign cash.

Bread, meet your butter.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Attacking Science--the opiate of the conservative

Just Some Poor Schmuck:

So, one page in one study by one graduate student (not even a credentialed scientist) is enough to discard years of prior research? Why is that?

Because it is the environmentalist equivalent of the Resurrection. It fulfills their quasi-religious prophecies and is therefore accepted without contention.

I guess this means that the Forestry scientists that thought their studies showed otherwise are idiots and should be terminated from whatever positions they hold. After all, we've been told to trust the science and according to the faithful, this study has shown the science to be all wrong.

But what will happen if someone does another study showing that this one is wrong?

Nothing at all. This is now the Gospel and anyone questioning it will be damned as a heritic.

One study doesn't negate years of research. It validates years of research not necessarily connected to the OSU/John Sessions/Mike Newton data. It does jive with data found in the Willamette National Forest Warner Creek Fire.

Post fire logging was limited in this region due to steep slopes. A more diverse forest in good health (Warning: PDF) remained without salvaging logging and hand planting.

The problem here isn't that Donato is negating years of research. He isn't. The problem is that Donato is challenging conventional wisdom of research backed and funded by the timber industry. There is plenty of research that runs contrary. It just isn't as popular with people who want to use the resource.

It comes down to honesty, when you think about it. Oregonians have been fed the notion that economics isn't the main reason for doing salvage logging. They're told its what is good for ecology of the forest. That's not the honest answer--and those scientists making these claims know this. That's not to say that they're entirely wrong, we don't know for sure because there's conflicting evidence. But that's not what people have been told.

In my view, most Oregonians would have absolutely no problem with salvage logging IF they were told it was for economic reasons and it was done in a reasonable, sustainable manner. Where people like Sessions at OSU are losing folks is with the dishonesty--and the apparent attempts to bully Donato.

OSU research paper sparks heated subcommittee hearing in Medford

Damn. I knew I should have taken the day off and made the trip to Medford.

Yesterday's hearing down south on the controversy surrounding OSU grad student Daniel Donato's paper has hit a very sensitive nerve. The legislators backing the the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (HR 4200) believe that Donato's research threatens their pet bill. But Donato wasn't backing off his research:

The controversy was sparked during intense grilling of Donato by U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., co-sponsor with Walden of the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (HR 4200), a forestry bill that would speed decisions on post-fire salvage.

"Our goal was present the data and let people draw their own conclusions," Donato said. "We didn’t want to make any specific management recommendations."

"I find that disingenuous," interjected Baird, who seemed particularly upset by the title of the article.

"The grammar of it, my friend, is a generic continuous generalization," he added. "If I was your reviewer, I would have said your title was deliberately biased ... people are taking this to imply far more than the study suggests."

He charged the study was published to influence policy, an accusation Donato repeatedly rejected.

"This does not preclude salvage as a management option," he said of the study results.

Baird's challenge of Donato seems pretty shallow--especially given that Donato's study makes no recommendations. Getting his back up about the title is a reach, at best. Baird's grilling of Donato is a dissapointment. I would hope that Democrats could at least agree as a group to allow science inquiry to go forward and allow for an understanding of that science.

The study is funded by the Bureau of Land Management--who pulled the funding saying government funded research cannot specifically reference bills before Congress. Donato's paper was published in the journal Science. The journal, rather than Donato, inserted a reference to a congressional bill, giving the BLM an excuse to yank the money. But the funding was restored due to public outcry and political pressure.

Several members of Congress have asked for an investigation of the BLM, noting the Bush Administration's history of trying to subvert anything scientific that interferes with their ability to make a buck. Given that the funding was restored, I doubt that will happen.

Retired BLM Medford District Field Manager Rich Drehobl also testified. Drehobl was the individual who originally asked for the study. Given the reports of Drehobl's testimony, he was hoping for a different outcome:

"The notion the BLM is stifling academic freedom is absolutely false," he said, noting the agency’s concern was that the contract was not being met.

While he disagreed with Inslee on nearly every point, he agreed that an investigation was in order, but one which considers why the study is being allowed to continue.

I wonder what size waders Drehobl wears when he makes these kinds of unadulterated bullshit statements. There was absolutely no problem for the BLM with Donato's project until the outcome didn't work for them--then they tried to pull the money. It was a blatant political overreach by some eager beaver Bush appointee at the BLM. Drehobl should be ashamed of himself.

Donato appears to have handled the public pressure and heated debate with humility and grace, something a few of these local government employees could take a lesson from.

Another individual who has shown himself to be an honorable person in this is the dean of the OSU College of Forestry: Hal Salwasser. Salwasser stepped forward to offer public regret for his role in not curbing professors who tried to block Donato's study and for not congratulating Donato on his achievement. Salwasser has also worked to make sure that legislators and the public understand that Donato was not responsible for the insertion of the bill into the Science article.

Salwasser is in a delicate position. As dean, he needs to draw money and prestige to his school--much of which comes from the timber industry due to shrinking state funds. But at the same time he must maintain scientific objectivity and integrity. Its clear he's trying.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Atkinson: Don't Judge the Law; Vote with the Majority!

reprinted in full from Resistance is Futile, because Atkinson doesn't seem to have it up on his own website:



February 21, 2006

Contact: Lara Wettig

Atkinson Statement on Measure 37 Decision

Tigard, Oregon – State Senator and Candidate for Governor Jason Atkinson commented on today’s Oregon Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of Measure 37.

"Today’s Oregon Supreme Court decision on Measure 37 is great news for Oregon and upholds my view that the will of Oregonians should be respected," said Atkinson. "Our state is governed by laws created by the Legislature and by the people through the initiative and referendum process as equal partners. In recent years, Oregon’s courts have been all too willing to strike down measures passed by majorities of their fellow citizens. As Governor, I will respect the decisions made by the people of this state, and appoint judges who will do the same."

First of all, what the hell is that logo about? Is he the Junior Birdman? Does it signify his position as the flyweight candidate?

Eh, I digress. Here we have a theoretically serious candidate for Goobernor, openly calling for judges to ignore the law and the state constitution, and simply "respect the decisions made by the people of this state." Do we need to trot out the old "Measure 666: Bring back slavery" example to hammer home why "respecting the decisions of the people" is a ridiculous way to run a Supreme Court?

Why on earth would Oregon want a chief executive so poorly educated in the principles of jurisprudence? What kind of court looks at the polls or election results to determine what's constitutional and what isn't? Call me old-fashioned, but I kind of prefer the tried and true, humdrum process of days gone by: review case law precedents, refer to the founding documents, and then apply the law as directly related to the question at hand. It's neither flashy nor headline-grabbing, but it does prevent the application of dumbass laws that people will later regret passing.


TriMet, City: Full Steam Ahead

The Transit Mall decisionmakers met Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, and essentially congratulated themselves for putting together a good plan that had plenty of citizen input and "due dilligence." There was more than a hint of defensiveness, but also some valid information. And while there was accomodation for additional commenters to speak further up in the agenda to make sure there was time, the tone of the meeting was "time for talking is done; let's sign some papers."

Co-chaired by Mayor Potter and TriMet titan Fred Hansen, the conference table was ringed by spectators and media. I spotted Jim Howell, the retired TriMet engineer who gave the Neighborhood Association ammo to complain with, and he graciously gave me a copy of his statement urging a delay. Current Downtown NA president Renee Fellman was also there to give a statement, as were folks from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and others.

Potter pretty much played timekeeper while Hansen orchestrated the speakers. He began with himself, noting that the I-205 funding was one of five federal "start" grants to receive monies in the FY07 budget. Denver, Dallas and Salt Lake were the other cities; Portland also got money for the Willamette commuter rail project.

Hansen then turned it over to Neil McFarlane (also of TriMet) for a run of "myth vs reality" comparisons about the fate of 50,000 downtown TriMet riders per day:

'myth'-- "they intend to move buses to 3rd and 4th avenues even after construction..."

'reality'--"That is unambiguously untrue." The only streets being considered for permanent relocation are the east/west Jefferson and Columbia. Under the category of "not a bug, but a feature," [McFarlane] said the movement was a "strengthening" that would improve crossmall service that had been lacking in south Downtown.

"they're forced to move buses off the Mall to accomodate the light rail and through lane..."

'reality'--"It's very clearly NOT true that the new alignment forces the realignments of bus routes." There are 127 buses at peak hours, 134 with C-Tran (and it's not like they don't create traffic). While admitting that 134 is pretty much all the capacity the Mall can take, he called it a conservative estimate and still declared that no buses had to be moved in order to put rail in. Remember that when assessing congestion after the remodel.

McFarlane went on (while the Powerpoint presentation continued to malfunction), claiming that "safety was foremost in our minds," a reference to other concerns raised by such as those from the DNA. Others around the table nodded their heads in agreement. He claimed that computer, scale and even full-size modeling was done.

This became a good time to reference "our transit peers," meaning the American Public Transit Association report (pdf), which was included in the agenda packets. In an answer to the signature line being used by Mall opponents--"less than optimal operational design"-- he read the rest of that sentence from the report: "...the peer review panel is confident the Tri-Met team has reviewed relevant issues and will implement appropriate mitigation measures to ensure 'safe' operation."

And as if to balm any fears of change, he recalled that the Mall design itself was an entirely new concept that engendered lots of concern, as did the Banfield rail extension and the streetcar. And then a statement I'd not heard anyone make before: "anything we will do on the Mall, we do somewhere in the system today." I struggle to recall where light rail weaves among buses in the current system, but maybe I need to go all the way out to Gresham, or something.

At this point, still filling time while technical difficulties persisted, Sam Adams directed a question: "What's held you back from using Columbia and Jefferson in the past?" McFarlane acknowledged that as many as 45 peak buses ran those routes before the Westside rail was introduced, and now only two go between the waterfront and Goose Hollow. The new design calls for about 36-39 peak buses, up from the current eight. He also made the interesting comment that ridership surveys suggested some lines served more "south downtown" customers. Moving them would complete the east/west coverage of downtown, augmenting Glisan, Burnside, and Salmon/Washington.

Essentially giving up on the Powerpoint, it was time for the chair of the Citizen's Advisory Committee, Phil Kalberer, to speak. Here's where I thought I might hear some trepidation or grudging acceptance for moving forward. Quite the opposite; the CAC was right on board along with everyone else. Kalberer described a letter signed by all but one of the 24 representatives to the CAC, enthusiastically supporting the plan. The one holdout? Current DNA president Renee Fellman. Kalberer further endorsed the process as well as the project, saying "one thing we've done well is to involve the citizens of the city." Flanked by advocates for the disabled and elderly on the committee who were also fully supportive, it was a powerful statement to make.

In what I considered a specifically directed comment, Kalberer reminded the group of a meeting in June 2005 that he claimed was very important to the final design process. The DNA were "intricately involved" at that meeting, and both issues of construction and the realignment options were dealt with at that time. Representing the DNA during that meeting was current CAC member Stan Lewis.

Lewis was the keystone speaker at this meeting IMO. His unique role in the process gave him a rhetorical hammer that he used preemptively against Fellman, who was waiting to speak. Lewis has been a DNA member since 1992 (including a stint on the board), and participated in many of the CAC meetings in that role during the Mall plan evaluation. To quote directly, "I was astounded to read the first [Portland] Tribune article. I couldn't believe it."

Here was current President Fellman sitting right behind him as he spoke, smiling through gritted teeth, as Lewis explained all the ways that DNA had been exposed to information about the project. "Tons" of literature was given out, and he recounted having many conversations with DNA membership. He agreed there were certainly questions, but there was "no one with any criticism from members of the land use committee." If there were complaints, he said, they were not made. In fact, only one member of the land-use committee ever came to any of the Mall meetings according to Lewis. And as exclamation, he noted that he was "impressed" with the openness of the whole project.

CAC Chair Kalberer tried to respond in a little more detail to questions raised by the media and citizens' groups. He did try to softpedal the auto through-lane by pointing out that only 10 blocks did not have car access, and again raised the issue of dilligence by pointing out that 14 or 15 different alignments were reviewed, all with pros and cosn. Even the left-right design without cars that was pushed by the engineers from last week's DNA meeting was problematic, Kalberer said, because of the difficulty in transferring from bus to Max--essential especially at the south end where the Jefferson/Columbia buses would cross the Mall. But the implication--you've had your chance--spoke a little more loudly than the explicit call to "reconnect between the CAC and DNA." I have to admit, the documentation supports the claim of ample public input. For example, here's a CAC meeting from December 2004, where the committee goes over funding on a line item basis, questioning all the way.

The proceedings were then turned over for citizen comment, and I could not stay for all of them. Two should be highlighted, however. DNA President Fellman got up and immediately complained that they were not afforded agenda speaking time. She had asked committee member John Russell for help, and he had refused, calling last week's DNA meeting "the worst kind of democracy." [I was there, and while a little hysterical, it was absolutely democratic.] She was looking right at Russell, a developer, as she talked, and he spoke up frostily: "Renee, what I said was that I had no control over the agenda."

Fellman laid out a warning that was almost Shakespearean in its doomsday prophesy: if businesses go under, if the Mall is a disaster, if suburbanites can't get downtown due to reduced bus service, it won't be the fault of the DNA! "It's up to you, we hope you're right," she said.

Jim Howell, the retired TriMet engineer who has been arguing on technical grounds against the current design, continues to worry about the traffic load at the Steel Bridge. There is some discussion in the 12/04 CAC meeting about both the bridge and the special signals needed to alert bus drivers of a train, but Howell claims that no evidence exists of TriMet's review of capacity issues at the key points.

Portland Transport notes that the printed O for Thursday labels Potter and Sam Adams on board after the meeting. Adams--who discreetly got a refill on his iced coffee from a stealthy staffer during the meeting; nice work if you can get it!--seemed satisfied when his question was answered, and I think everybody breathed easier after Stan Lewis called out the current committee on their claims of being left uninformed. If there's evidence that the deal won't be signed next month, I haven't seen it.


Playing both sides of the fence--and landing on the wrong side

The editor over at the Hillsboro Argus takes a stab at sorting out the mess at Guantanamo Bay--and fails in such a miserably lazy way that its practically breathtaking.

To wit:

First let us say, this is war. And war prisoners are usually held until the war is over. If not, they intend to get back in it. That being said, torture is not acceptable on any level. But the credence the "just out" United Nations report is getting from the national press baffles us. Since its release, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has kept an arm's length from the report's recommendations.

What's to be baffled about? The United States of America is holding hundreds of individuals for years without allowing them access to an attorney, any system of jurisprudence and even their families. At least some of these individuals have been tortured. Yet the Hillsboro Argus is "baffled" that a common sense report by the United Nations wants the unlawful prison and torture camp closed. When did basic humanitarianism become such a puzzlement? Why is following the Constitution of the United States and the Geneva Conventions so difficult to fathom?

The report asks for the immediate closure of Guantanamo. For those of you new to the planet, Guantanamo or "Gitmo" is a United States prison camp located in Cuba for the detainment of terrorists, usually from al-Qaida. Remember 9/11? The report goes on to demand the trial of the detainees or their freedom. Among other things, it also cites the practice of not allowing hunger strikes by preserving the life and health of detainees as a "violation of their human rights and medical ethics."

Ahh yes...9/11. The oft cited excuse for all manner of lawbreaking and violations rears its head. When the British burned down the the entire US government infrastructure during the War of 1812, we weren't rounding up British soldiers, torturing them and keeping them without access to counsel. Why does 9/11 warrant it?

And now the UN is asking us to follow our own laws: charge prisoners with a crime or cut them loose. Baffling.

We don't believe in detaining an individual in perpetuity without at least a trial. But we also don't believe in letting deadly throat slitters loose to mastermind the next jihad against Western Civilization. So we don't advocate shutting down "Gitmo." The U.S. has invited groups to visit it to examine our practices. Maybe they should take us up on the offer. But be advised. It is a prison camp. Prison camps tend to be, well, prison camps. It's not a PR thing. As long as it's open, it will continue to be a Gitmo Gotcha.

You don't believe in torture. You don't believe in holding individuals in perpetuity without a trial--then you should be advocating for the closure of Gitmo. You have no idea if any of these people are "deadly throat slitters", "masterminds", "jihadists" or guys who were standing around playing bocce. Why? We're violating the Geneva Conventions.

Inviting folks down to eyeball the situation is a meaningless gesture under the circumstances. The load of bull being shoveled by the Argus here is illogical at best, disgusting at worst.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Baker Bishop Calls Pro-Choice "Heresy"

Not a word to drop lightly among Catholics, it nonetheless made a deliberate and published appearance in Eastern Oregon last week: profession of pro-choice belief may in fact be grounds for heresy.

OPB runs the story with some local reaction: "Francis Kissling with the abortion rights group Catholics for a Free Choice, says she's been called a heretic by lay people, but never by a Bishop." It also notes that the Baker diocese applauded the analysis if emails are an indicator; what little reaction I found echoes those sentiments.

Here's the bishop. See what you think:
As a point of information, the present Code of Canon Law does include a couple of canons on heresy. Canon 751 defines heresy as “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt, after the reception of baptism, of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith. . . .” There are a number of teachings of the Church that must “be believed by divine and Catholic faith.” We must believe, for instance, that Jesus is true God and true man. To deny or doubt this, with obstinacy, is heresy. We must believe the God exists in Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must believe that Jesus rose from the dead. We must believe that He ascended into heaven. These phrases will all be familiar because they constitute the Creed that we recite each Sunday. It may come as a bit of a shock, but there are a number of Catholic theologians who now seriously call into question these basic teachings, these Creedal tenets.

There are also moral teachings that constitute a part of the deposit of faith that must be accepted and adhered to, “firmly embraced and retained.” Canon 750 concludes: “therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.” It is certainly necessary to exercise a great deal of caution and care in arriving at a founded conclusion that someone accepts or teaches heresy. There is something terribly harsh about calling a person a heretic. This is not something that is ever done lightly or capriciously. Nevertheless, there are those of the household of Faith who obstinately deny some truth that is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith.

There is some question, for instance, about whether those who openly profess to be “pro-choice” are, in fact, holding to a heretical position. The teaching of the Church in the area of life is clear and unequivocal. Human life must be respected and protected from conception to natural death. Those who maintain that any and all decisions about the disposition of pre-born human beings are exclusively the right of the mother or the parents, at least implicitly, reject the clear and consistent teaching of the Church.

Once again, OPB: "The Bishop also said he did not mean 'to imply that anyone who votes for" what he called "an anti-life politician is denying some truth of Catholic faith.'" I don't think implication was necessary, do you?

Breaking--Review of signature process for repealing clean money elections under scrutiny

Portland City Auditor's Office:

Multnomah County, City of Portland and State of Oregon elections officials have discovered a technological error in the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration (OCVR) system and a procedural error that may have an impact on the certified results of the ballot measure initiative petition to repeal the City's public campaign finance program.

As soon as officials became aware of the potential errors, the parties undertook cooperative efforts to rectify the errors and carefully review the petition to ensure that every valid signature is counted.

Multnomah County has requested state assistance in ensuring that all election laws and procedures are followed. Multnomah County is conducting a thorough review of all the information related to this issue and will send the City of Portland a new official certification of the results as soon as this review process is completed. Once the review is complete and Multnomah County’s findings are presented to the City of Portland, City officials will release those findings.

If the review by the County and State elections officials results in a certification that the petition does contain the required 26,691 valid signatures, the City would follow City Code provisions for qualified measures. The Auditor would file the measure for Council discussion at the March 15 City Council meeting. If Council does not adopt the Ordinance, the Auditor would certify the measure to the County Elections Offices by the March 16 deadline for placement on the May ballot.

Looks like that pig might still get its lipstick after all. Stay tuned.

(Man--those guys at Blue Oregon are fast.)

WA County Dems: Rev Sorenson preaches to the choir

Last night I attended my very first Washington County Democrats Central Committee Meeting. I'm usually not one to participate in this kind of stuff because to be honest, normally its boring as hell. But since I knew goobernatorial candidate Pete Sorenson was planning to speak, I set my Ti-Vo to record American Idol and ventured out to the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue building in Aloha for the meeting.

First impression: great turnout. I'm terrible at crowd estimation so I'm not going to venture a guess at the number. But it was good sized room, butts in every available seat with almost all the available standing room taken.

After a quick going over of business, Chairwoman Lupita Maurer introduced Sorenson.

Pete Sorenson

Pete is a very mild mannered looking guy. His look kind of reminds me a little of Clark Kent--subdued and even a little brainiac. But then he started speaking to the crowd..using an inflection and tone reminiscent of a fire and brimstone preacher giving the business to the Sunday sinners. Pete is an unabashed liberal who loves Oregon. He speaks with a fiery passion about our state.

Sorenson was given just a brief time to speak and then answer questions. He really only managed to cover one main idea: tax reform. After rattling off a laundry list of negative statistics involving the current goobernor. He clearly had at least partial support with the crowd for his anti-Kulingoski rhetoric. With a caveat however: If not chosen in the primary, Sorenson vowed to support the Democratic candidate.

Also on the speaking docket last night was attorney Dan Meeks. Meeks showed up to advocate for Measures 8 and 37. Meek is an eloquent speaker who makes very sound points about campaign finance issues here in Oregon. However after having read the list of groups concerned about these measures, it will take a lot more convincing by Meek to get me on board.

Finally, Sarah Thompson of the SEIU Make Health Care Work Campaign addressed the crowd. SEIU wants Metro to create a Community Health Care Needs Board that would create a Comprehensive Community Health Plan to assess regional health care needs. The Board would also generate a Health Care Impact Statement before new facilities are built or existing ones closed.

This meeting was full of the kind of passion and energy that large groups of progressives tend to generate. Unfortunately I had to jet out early before the meeting was completed. But I left with a sense of spiritual uplift--the good guys really do have great ideas. Most of all though, they have an amazing passion for their liberal beliefs.

9th Circuit upholds M26: no petition signature payments

The Ninth Circuit gives progressive activist in Oregon a major victory:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld Oregon's ban on paying ballot initiative signature gatherers by the number of signatures they obtain.

The appeals court ruled that the restriction did not impose a "severe burden" on the First Amendment rights of ballot initiative chief petitioners.

Affirming a ruling by U.S. District Judge Ann L. Aiken in Portland, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the state had "an important regulatory interest" in preventing fraud in the initiative process. The panel found that those who challenged the pay-by-the-signature ban had failed to prove that it would reduce the pool of petition circulators in Oregon, increase the cost of signature gathering or lead to higher rates of invalid signatures on petitions.

We at LO have been churning up the pixel time posting about initiative signature gathering.

Here is the ruling (warning: PDF).

The Ninth provides a pretty definitive smackdown of the argument against 26, chiefly that M26 violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. In a nutshell, the court found that there is no violation of free speech when states enact reasonable regulations on the election process.

The court offered insight into how it makes decisions on the First Amendment:

For purposes of determining whether a state election law violates an individual's First Amendment rights, we:

weigh the character and magnitude of the burden the State's rule imposes on those rights against the interest the State contends justify that burden, and consider the extent to which the State's concerns make the burden necessary. Regulations imposing severe burdens on plaintiffs rights must be narrowly tailored and advance a compelling state interest. Lesser burdens, however, trigger less exacting review, and a State's important regulatory interests will usually be enough to justify reasonable, nondiscriminatory restrictions

In a nutshell: if the election regulation can be justified based on legitimate concerns, doesn't discriminate and doesn't provide an undue burden--it doesn't violate the First Amendment.

There are other, more wonky parts to the decision that I don't want to comment on--most because that kind of legalspeak makes my eyes glaze over. I 'll leave that to TJ, who seems to gain a perverse pleasure from such reading.

This decision should go a long way to cleaning up the petition process. Next perhaps we can find a way to better regulate the financing of initiatives. Although I don't know how it can be done without the SCOTUS finding it unconstitutional.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

M37 victors gloat, Rome burns

I see the OIA folks are doling out their thanks to the individuals who assisted them in raping Oregon's land use laws. I suppose that's the least they can do. Of course as soon as some corporation wants to build a stinking pile of corporate excess next to their kids' backyard play structure, they'll be screeching like spoiled children in the checkout line at WalMart.

Not all the M37 victory kids are doing cartwheels today, however. Some are mighty pissed that The O and the Statesman Journal aren't offering glowing headlines of this phyrric victory:

The Salem Statesmen Journal has these three:

Mixed opinions greet court's land-use ruling
Measure 37 legal interpretations remain unresolved
High court doesn't address Measure 37's reach

While The Oregonian has this one:
Court clears the way for 37 kinds of damage

Now I'm not a lawyer but I think that once the Supreme Court decides something that the "legal intrepretations" are no longer "unresolved." As for "mixed opinions" there is nothing that will ever be unanimous but 67% is pretty damn close in politics.

As for the state's largest Fishwrapper, what can I say: They hate everyone who doesn't live in the Pearl District.

No Daniel, you're not a lawyer. That much is obvious. But did you bother to read any of those stories from where you took the headlines?

Oregonians are in fact divided on this issue. I think at least some feel snookered at the way it was marketed to citizens. And even some who support it want the legislature to narrow its scope. What's so tough to figure out?

Further, the Oregon Supreme Court didn't address the legal interpretation of 37. That's left the state with various local governments to make individual interpretations of their own. Hence the 37 kinds of damage that the O alludes to.

As far as the Oregonian hating "everyone who doesn't live in the Pearl District"..nice chip on your shoulder. Who says elitist snob classism isn't part and parcel of conservatism?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

AARP urges rejection of TABOR

Oregon's chapter of the AARP is asking Oregonians to reject TABOR:

"Tabor sounds great, but it's really a taxpayer's bill of baloney," said Johnnie Martin, AARP Oregon advocacy volunteer. "TABOR may sound good in theory, but in practice it's terrible."

According to Our Oregon, TABOR is being pushed on the citizens of Oregon by DC power broker Grover Norquist and the other national group "Americans for limited government". Not one dime of the funding for this measure has come from Oregon.

The AARP is basing its rejection of TABOR in part based on it's massive failure in the State of Colorado:

Colorado ranks 47th in K-12 education funding as a share of state income.

- Colorado ranks 50th in the nation in on-time immunization rates.

- The share of low-income individuals enrolled in Medicaid is lower than in all but five other states.

- Colorado has eliminated its affordable housing loans and grants program.

- Due to underfunding, court hearings that are required by statute to occur within two days of a filing routinely take 30 days.

The citizens of Colorado voted to roll back TABOR in their state over the next five years in order to keep their state from having to enact massive budget cuts that would have crippled state services.

When you've lost Corvallis...have you lost the American people?

One city at a time, one county at a time, one state at a time....

Corvallis Gazette-Times:

Council majority favors call to withdraw troops; vote due today on resolution

Gazette-Times reporter

Despite a threatened lawsuit, complaints of partisan politics and objections from the mayor, it appears a majority of the Corvallis City Council favors a resolution calling on the United States government to make plans to bring troops home from Iraq.

At least five of the nine elected councilors — Jerry Davis, Trish Daniels, George Grosch, Rob Gandara and Emily Hagen — have made comments endorsing the resolution, which the full council will vote on at its noon meeting today. Two councilors — Scott Zimbrick and Betty Griffiths — have said they are opposed to the resolution. Councilor Hal Brauner said he is leaning toward supporting the resolution, and Council President Charlie Tomlinson hasn’t publicly expressed his view.

Councilors are considering sending a letter to President Bush, Oregon’s congressional delegation and other state and local officials on behalf of Corvallis residents.

Proponents of the resolution say this bottom-up message is the way to sway the administration to change its course of action in Iraq.

Bush is already changing course in Iraq, basically following most of the Murtha Plan. But anything we can do as Oregonians to speed the process along--by all means.

Some in Corvallis believe that the city council shouldn't draft such a resolution..that it isn't the job of city government to deal with US foreign policy:

Opponents of the resolution, including many who are opposed to the war, say it isn’t the business of city government to get involved in foreign policy.

David Smithe is outraged that the council would deprive people of their right to voice their own opinion.

“A lawsuit against your city is being considered, and it will be taken as high as we can get it,” Smithe wrote in a Feb. 14 e-mail to the council. “It is the process of stealing the beliefs of others and forcing political values onto others for ‘group think’ and good dog/bad dog concept that is going to bring your city to its knees.”

In letters and public testimony regarding the resolution, Smithe and other opponents have warned officials of possible consequences if the resolution passes. Many people have characterized the council’s discussion of the war as “divisive.”

Bullcookies. We have young men and women coming home in coffins from cities around the country. More yet coming home alive but irrepairably damaged. Municipalities and counties and states will bear the burden of this generation lost to an unnecessary war. The longer it continues, the greater that burden will be. A city has every right and authority to demand that the federal government stop sending them this burden that the feds certainly aren't going to pay for.

Breaking: OR Supreme Court Re-Instates Measure 37

Opinion here.

To put it bluntly, a thorough (and unanimous) beatdown for Marion County Judge James.


(on justiciability)
We first address the various justiciability issues that certain intervenors have raised. Intervenor English contends that the trial court erred in holding that plaintiffs have standing to assert their claims because none of the plaintiffs can show an actual, concrete impact stemming from Measure 37. We reject Intervenor English's standing argument for the reasons described below.

As noted earlier, plaintiffs brought this action under ORS 28.020, Oregon's declaratory judgment statute. To establish standing under ORS 28.020 in a case in which there are multiple plaintiffs, only one plaintiff must show "some injury or other impact upon a legally recognized interest beyond an abstract interest in the correct application or validity of a law." League of Oregon Cities v. State of Oregon, 334 Or 645, 658, 56 P3d 892 (2002).

(on abuse of legislative plenary power)
In our view, the trial court misunderstood the nature of the plenary legislative power. In Oregon, the Legislative Assembly and the people, acting through the initiative or referendum processes, share in exercising legislative power. See Or Const, Art IV, §§ 1(1), (2)(a), (3)(a) (vesting in both bodies the power to propose, enact, and reject laws). Respecting the nature of that power, this court previously has explained that

"[p]lenary power in the legislature, for all purposes of civil government, is the rule, and a prohibition to exercise a particular power is an exception. It, therefore, is competent for the legislature to enact any law not forbidden by the constitution or delegated to the federal government or prohibited by the constitution of the United States."

Jory v. Martin, 153 Or 278, 285, 56 P2d 1093 (1936). Thus, limitations on legislative power must be grounded in specific provisions of either the state or federal constitutions. See, e.g., State v. Hirsch/Friend, 338 Or 622, 639, 114 P3d 1104 (2005) ("any constitutional limitations on the state's actions must be found within the language or history of the constitution itself" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).
Not only have plaintiffs failed to ground their argument in the Oregon Constitution, but the premise of their argument is also mistaken. Contrary to the assumption underlying their argument, Oregon's legislative bodies have not divested themselves of the right to enact new land use regulations in the future. Nothing in Measure 37 forbids the Legislative Assembly or the people from enacting new land use statutes, from repealing all land use statutes, or from amending or repealing Measure 37 itself. Simply stated, Measure 37 is an exercise of the plenary power, not a limitation on it. (8) The measure does not impair the plenary power of the Legislative Assembly or the people's exercise of their initiative power. The trial court's contrary conclusion was error.

(on unfairness by virtue of differential treatment of classes)

After concluding that Measure 37 implicated "true classes," the trial court applied a so-called "rational basis" review and concluded that Measure 37 was not rationally related to any legitimate government interest that would justify treating those "classes" differently. For the reasons set forth below, we disagree with that analysis.

Article I, section 20, provides:

"No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens."

Article I, section 20, guarantees equality of privileges to each individual citizen as well as to "classes" of citizens. See State v. Clark, 291 Or 231, 239, 63 P2d 810 (1981) (Article I, section 20, is a guarantee against unjustified denial of equal privileges as much as against unjustified differentiation among classes of citizens). Some litigants seeking the protection of Article I, section 20, claim -- as do plaintiffs here -- that a particular "class," of which they are not a member, unlawfully has been accorded a special privilege or status. Other litigants claim that they are members of a "class" suffering disparate treatment without legitimate reason. In either situation, this court consistently has held that the protection that Article I, section 20, affords is available to only those individuals or groups whom the law classifies according to characteristics that exist apart from the enactment that they challenge. See, e.g., Sealey, 309 Or at 397 (classes that the challenged law itself creates are not considered "classes" for purposes of Article I, section 20). That is so because, "every law itself can be said to 'classify' what it covers [as distinct] from what is excludes." Clark, 291 Or at 240.
A moment's reflection illustrates that the foregoing refutation of plaintiff's theory must be correct. Were it not, plaintiffs' theory would mean that the legislature would be precluded from enacting a law benefitting, for example, Vietnam veterans or Gulf War veterans, both closed classes. Here, the postowners' inability to "bring themselves within" the class of preowners does not render Measure 37 invalid. We conclude that Measure 37 does not offend Article I, section 20, as plaintiffs contend.

(on impermissible suspension of law)

We first address the wording of the suspension clause of Article I, section 22, which has remained unchanged since the adoption of the Oregon Constitution in 1859. See Charles Henry Carey, The Oregon Constitution and Proceeding and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1857 403 (1926) (citing original constitution). A nineteenth-century dictionary defines "suspend," for our purposes here, as "to interrupt; to intermit; to cause to cease for time"; "to stay, to delay; to hinder from proceeding for a time"; or "to cause to cease for a time from operation or effect." Noah Webster, 1 An American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. "suspend" (Johnson 1828); see also Rico-Villalobos v. Guisto, 339 Or 197, 206, 118 P3d 246 (2005) (when analyzing terms in original Oregon Constitution, court examines meanings of terms as framers would have understood them). Applying those definitions, it is clear that Measure 37 does not "cause to cease for a time," "delay," or "interrupt" any land use regulation. Instead, it authorizes a governing body to "modify, remove, or not * * * apply" certain such regulations in specific situations. The measure is, in effect, an amendment of the land use regulations in those particulars. No law is "suspended"; all laws not amended remain in effect.

(on violation of separation of powers)
Plaintiffs also assert that Measure 37 delegates legislative authority without providing adequate safeguards against "arbitrary and deleterious exercise of the power" so delegated. We continue to take the following view, first expressed by this court nearly a half century ago: "There is no constitutional requirement that all delegation of legislative power must be accompanied by a statement of standards circumscribing its exercise." Warren v. Marion County, 222 Or 307, 313, 353 P2d 257 (1960). Rather, the procedure established for the exercise of that power must furnish adequate safeguards against the arbitrary exercise of the delegated power. Id. at 314. Measure 37 does just that. The measure provides a cause of action for claimants seeking compensation. ORS 197.352(6). Further, avenues exist for both claimants and interested third parties, such as plaintiffs, to obtain judicial review of the decisions that local governing bodies make in accordance with the measure. Those avenues provide adequate safeguards against the arbitrary exercise of power, as Warren requires. We therefore hold that Measure 37 does not violate the separation of powers principles encompassed in Article III, section 1.

(in sum...)

In sum, we conclude that (1) plaintiffs' claims are justiciable; (2) Measure 37 does not impede the legislative plenary power; (3) Measure 37 does not violate the equal privileges and immunities guarantee of Article I, section 20, of the Oregon Constitution; (4) Measure 37 does not violate the suspension of laws provision contained in Article I, section 22, of the Oregon Constitution; (5) Measure 37 does not violate separation of powers constraints; (6) Measure 37 does not waive impermissibly sovereign immunity; and (7) Measure 37 does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court's contrary conclusions under the state and federal constitutions were erroneous and must be reversed.

The judgment of the circuit court is reversed, and the case is remanded for entry of judgment in favor of defendants and intervenors.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oregon--The Quiz

How much do you know about Oregon? Daring enough to find out?

I lifted this quiz from the Baker City Herald. Check the comments for the answers and to see how I did.

1. The Universal Almanac lists the following "noteworthy places" in Oregon. Add one point for each place you've visited (Internet sites don't count):

Bonneville Dam; Columbia River Gorge; Columbia River Museum in Astoria; Crater Lake National Park; Fort Clatsop; Hells Canyon; High Desert Museum near Bend; John Day Fossil Beds; Mount Hood; Oregon Caves; Oregon Dunes; Cape Perpetua; Timberline Lodge.

2. Any state can have its own flower and tree (and most of them do). Oregon's official flower is the Oregon grape, and its tree is the Douglas-fir. But our Legislature wasn't satisfied with designating flora alone. Name Oregon's state dance, insect and drink (one point each):

3. In February 1999 a freighter ran aground off the Oregon Coast. The ship proved quite obstinate, resisting the Navy's attempts to set it afire, then breaking into two pieces, one of which, after being towed 40 miles away, drifted back toward shore when the tow line snapped. Name the ship (one point):

4. The Oregon Coast Aquarium was the temporary home for a killer whale/movie star. Name the whale and the movie (two points):

5. Name the Oregon governor who famously suggested that non-Oregonians were welcome to visit the state, but that they shouldn't stay (one point, with two bonus points if you know that governor's political affiliation):

6. Some of Oregon's colleges and universities have unusual mascots for their athletic teams. Match the mascot with the school (one point each):

Boxers, Ducks, Pilots, Beavers, Owls

University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Portland, Pacific University, Oregon State University

7. Western Oregon is renowned for rain (although climatically uninformed people often describe the entire state as a damp place, even though two-thirds of Oregon's land more resembles a desert than a rainforest). Which of these cities is wetter, on average, than Portland?

New York City, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Miami

8. Two Oregon towns share the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state. Name the towns (one point each, plus a bonus point if you know the record temperature):

9. Oregon borders four states. Name them (four points, one bonus point if you can name which state you'd enter if you drove south from Lakeview on Highway 395):

10. Oregon has 29 mountains taller than 9,000 feet. Which range boasts the most — the Cascades, Wallowas or Klamaths? (one bonus point if you can name the alternate name for the Klamaths):

11. Name the three 9,000-foot-plus peaks that aren't in any of the three ranges listed in question 10:

12. What's the most populous city on the Oregon Coast — Newport, Florence, Brookings, Astoria, Seaside or Coos Bay? (one point):

13. Oregon's only major professional sports franchise is the Portland Trail Blazers. What year did the Blazers win their only NBA championship? (one bonus point if you can name the team they beat in the NBA Finals):

14. Name Oregon's smallest and largest counties, by size and population (four points, one point each):

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More on Multco Dems Endorsement Meeting

As fans of the late Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa know, his classic Rashomon is a masterpiece of the notion that truth is largely informed by the perspective of the teller. Intentional bias, unintentional prejudice, and simply poor communication all contribute to an event that looks different depending on who you ask.

In the wake of an event that passed without prior mention at LoadedO or elsewhere (perhaps wrongly), some stories have cropped up after the fact. As Carla reported this afternoon, the Multnomah County Democrats met for three days and hammered out their recommendations for all the local races, partisan and non-. Most of the endorsements were uneventful, although there were some interesting notes that I'll get to.

But before we had even read over their choices, anonymously strange comments appeared in an entirely unrelated thread, talking darkly about malfeasance and discord at the meetings. It had almost the same flavor as random anonymous comments about Ben Westlund at Blue Oregon this past week. Couple that with the stage whispers about "signature conspiracies" for the failed VOE repeal, and you've got a sudden pattern of unsubstantiated...bullshit is really the best word for it.

Back to the meeting, however. The O ran a blurb in the printed editions today, running the headline that Kulongoski failed to get the endorsement. It wasn't too surprising, I figured, given available candidates further to the left. But it turns out that there were far less ideological reasons at play:
Gavin White, chairman of the Multnomah Democratic Central Committee, said the biggest reason Kulongoski didn't receive an endorsement is that he failed to show up for a meeting at Portland State University, where about 35 candidates for various offices fielded questions.
"Had he been in the room, he probably would have been endorsed," White said. "Pete Sorenson and Jim Hill both made powerful speeches that spoke to our values and out platform."
The governor didn't show up because he was at a previously scheduled event, said Cameron Johnson, Kulongoski's campaign manager.

So they didn't endorse him out of spite? Because he had another gig and wasn't there? That's a poor reason. Maybe it wasn't the only reason, but complaining because you didn't get the rousing speech from the governor is a little petty.

The state committee agreed, according to the O's article, saying that counties are discouraged from endorsing in an uncoordinated fashion, and that Portland's was poorly organized (and thus perhaps not such a smart use of Kulongoski's time). I won't step into the middle of that one, but while it's a failure to endorse the titular head of the state party, it's also NOT a statement of opposition. As White indicated, the county will support the eventual Democratic nominee. But Ted will know he's choice #3 from the state's biggest Dem office, if and when he gets the primary nod. Suppose the Gov is cruising in September and October; will he be considering raising money for vital Multno races like Rob Brading's?

While Kulongoski may not have noticed, Jim Hill did--at first, anyway. As of 10pm tonight, one of the top 5 headlines at LeftyBlogs.com was this one: "Multnomah County Dems Endorse Two Candidates - Neither are Ted," by the Jim Hill for Governor site. I read it earlier, and essentially it crowed about the fact that Ted must not be all that popular, if he couldn't even get the endorsement from the Multco Dems. I wish I could link to it for you, but this is what's there now--nothing. I'm guessing he read White's comments and realized it was a scheduling tiff, not a bold ideological rejection of Kulongoski.

As for White and the Dems, Treasurer Moses Ross gives an eyewitness account minus discussion of any cranks, and White backed that up in response to questions about the meeting. The only controversial thing about the meetings would seem to be the Ted snub, and that's clearly not what the commenters are referring to. I suppose if this is the last we hear of them, we'll know it's the same kind of commenter hit-and-run hackjob I described above.

By the way, how does Pete Sorenson feel about being endorsed? Silent, if you ask his website. In fact, he's not really said much of anything since last September (although he's keeping his events schedule current). Here's your big moment, Pete! Ted passed up the props, and Hill is busy retracting! What's your reaction?


State sues signature gathering firm (again)

The Oregon Department of Justice has decided enough is enough.

Signature gathering firm B&P Campaign Management and its owner Brian Platt are being sued by Oregon Justice in Multnomah County on behalf of the Bureau of Labor and Industries to collect unpaid wages and force the business to pay minimum wage.

Platt's firm historically gathers signatures for rightwing conservative ballot initiatives. The Oregon Justice Department has already filed filed charges in Marion County against B&P (and another signature gathering firm called Democracy Direct Inc) for failing to comply with a subpeona from the Secretary of State's Office.

Platt is an invertebrate sleazebag. But after having read this I'm wondering if this sleaze doesn't translate to all of the signature gathering firms:

The doorbell rang one night and the woman at the door said she was gathering signatures for a petition "to keep taxpayer money from going into politicians pockets and to support schools instead."

It smelled funny to me.

I asked her whom she was with and she said the City of Portland. Now I know that the City does not go door-to-door collecting signatures. Duh. I looked at her really weird and repeated, “You’re saying you are from the City of Portland?” and she flubbered some, and I asked who is behind the signature gathering. She couldn’t answer but continued to press me to sign the petition. At that point, there’s no way in hell I’m going to sign this petition, but let’s see what this is really about…. I pressed her for who is supporting the petition, she didn’t have any paperwork to show me nor could she tell me anything more, and when I explained there’s no way I’m going to sign something when I don’t know who’s behind it, what it’s about, or what group she’s representing, she looked at me and overly-clearly and loudly asked (as if I couldn’t possibly understand her), “Do you have access to a com-pew-tor? Maybe you could look it up on a comp-pew-tor.” She didn’t have a website for the First Things First committee, whose name we found together hidden somewhere in her paperwork, but thanks to her great incite I could look it up after she left.

No wonder the pro buyable elections people couldn't get enough signatures. Jeez.

Awhile back, I was emailed the following testimonial about the sneaky operating procedures of signature gatherers:

Sometime in late November I think, a young white man came to the door and asked us to sign his petition about campaign finance reform. We were interested because, well, we are interested in reforming campaign finance. But once he explained that they were looking to have a previous reform initiative overturned by getting another initiative on the ballot, we got skeptical, and decided not to sign.

A month goes by and another young man comes to our door, a young black man, and he tells me that they are looking to create a campaign finance reform that goes farther than the one that the city council passed without putting to the voters. That they want to hold city council accountable for not getting their initiative voted on by Oregonians and that this democrat organization and that democrat organization are behind the initiative that my signature would help get on the ballot. He must have looked over the progressive bumper stickers (Vote for Kerry, No on 36, etc.) on our cars because he really let me think that he wanted to see the most aggressively reformative initiative regarding campaign finance go forward. He worked on me for awhile and I gave in, yes in part to be allowed to go inside and eat dinner, but I also bought his bullshit. He was very good at presenting himself as being someone like me (liberal).

It wasn’t until about a week later that I realized that this was a big deal repeal, that I’d made a mistake and I’ll tell you, if I could find out how to get my signature removed from their petition, I would do it. Argh…now I read all these blogs about how much money from outside OR has been funneled into this kind of signature gathering and these measures backed by Freedomworks, etc. and I keep kicking myself. Again, ok, so it’s one signature, but I can see how they conned many more people into signing something out of ignorance as well.

This one also looks like a First Thing First signature gatherer.

When a person asks you to sign their petition--if it sounds like they're selling you a bill of goods--they probably are. And while you've got them, find out how they're being paid. Is it hourly? Is it minimum wage ($7.50 per hour)? Are they docked pay if they don't meet a minimum signature amount?

The initiative signature gathering frenzy for the November elections will be getting underway shortly. Affixing your signature to an initiative just to get the guy out of your face is what makes these guys effective. And its also what gets these bullshit measures on the Oregon ballot.

Unhappy campers emerge from Multnomah Co Dem Mtg

The proposed Working Families Party may start gaining a rapid following if comments here at LO are an indicator:

Ever wonder why some progressives are seriously talking about the Working Families Party as an alternative to the Demo's.

To find out all you had to do was attend the fiasco at Portland State this weekend to see why some are trying to find a party that means something. Just ask Cindy Banzer, Tina Kotek, Lynn Partin or Mary Botkin about over-doses of disrespect and outrageous treatment.

If you are prone to abuse want to get run over by a bunch of no names with no history, no memory and no concience just attend the Mult County Dems for a treatment. If you don't like the way they do business just wait - they'll change the rules while you take a break and then refuse to give you a copy. No wonder they suffer from a lack of quality officials and money.


the mult dems endorsements were bizarre

looks like they're going the way of the eastside democrats - the people with the area 51 and jfk conspiracy theories

I have no idea if these comments are just sour grapes or if something inappropriate took place at the Multnomah County Dems Primary Endorsement Meeting yesterday afternoon. I didn't attend and I don't think TJ did either.

Where does this frustration and discontent come from? If you attended the meeting..what happened? Please don't post rumor and conjecture. If you were there, tell us what went on.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Note to self: Never piss off Nigel Jaquiss

You know it's not going to be a flattering article when your face is photoshopped inside a washing machine.

Spin Ginny

WW's premiere journalist takes Portland City Commissioner Candidate Ginny Burdick to the woodshed..and Ginny comes out looking pretty lame-assed:

Befitting a longtime politico and PR consultant with Gard & Gerber, Burdick's communication is slick. To answer the question of whether it's accurate, here's a comparison of what she says and what she's done:

The Spin
A self-styled outsider, Burdick refers on her website to Sten as a "10-year incumbent" and says she'll run a "grass roots campaign."
The Truth
Burdick, 58, is also a 10-year incumbent, representing Southwest Portland and part of northeast Washington County in the Oregon Senate since 1996. Her insider status began a decade earlier when she was the spokeswoman for Neil Goldschmidt's 1986 gubernatorial campaign. After Goldschmidt won, he appointed her to the powerful Land Conservation and Development Commission. Burdick's campaign manager, Ed Grosswiler, nevertheless insists that the 38-year-old Sten is the career pol, having worked full-time at City Hall as an aide and commissioner for 16 years.

That's just a small taste. Go read the rest on your own. Jacquiss eviscerates Burdick's campaign claims, going after specific parts of Burdick's previously held convictions that don't stack up with what the campaign literature says.

I don't have a horse in this race because I don't live inside the area where the Portland City Commission has authority. Sten seems to have his share of critics that want his ass out of there.

If I lived in the Commission's jurisdiction, I'd be wary of voting for Ginny Burdick. Maybe she's just having a string of bad press. But when I stack this Jacquiss piece up with the double dipping revelations, Burdick isn't coming out smelling like a rose.