Friday, March 31, 2006

Bend Becoming Its Own Media Market?

Courtesy of the Ridenbaugh Press, a great blog-and-other-stuff site featuring noted Idaho journalist Randy Stapilus, some slowly developing news about the possible expansion of network TV affiliates into Central Oregon:
KTVZ-TV, which has been an affiliate of NBC, long has been the only important TV player there. Bend residents get the other nets from their Portland affiliates via satellite or cable. The only other local Bend station is KFXO-FOX, a Fox affiliate without local news. KTVZ for years has been walloping it, taking about 84%-16% of local viewership in the ratings.

But on April 17 KFXO is planning to launch local news, which should increase their share somewhat.

Maybe more significantly, Chambers Communications Corporation of Eugene (which runs KEZI9 ABC - Eugene, KDKF31 ABC - Klamath Falls, and KDRV12 ABC - Medford) was reported as planning a new station - presumably, given its other assets, an ABC affiliate - for Bend. If that happens, can CBS be far behind?
It may seem a little esoteric, but I'd wager the existence of a full slate of local TV stations can have a galvanizing effect on a city, especially in a region growing like Bend is. If you watch Portland stations, think about the last time you saw a story on Bend or Redmond or Sisters. Now think of one that didn't involve a homicide or disappearance or major fire (or ski conditions). While I certainly cannot hold up TV journalism as the sine qua non of a city's civic growth, anything that supports the idea of Bend as its own viable region instead of "Not Portland/Not Eugene" is probably a positive. The Oregon Central High Desert--your nation's 196th TV market...and climbing!

Welcoming Back B!x and His...Nads?

(Communique image currently unavailable...)
[Assuredly The One True B!x does not require introduction to many of our Will-Valley readers, but for everyone else, here rests his prior legacy--and if you really want a comprehensive look at what he's brought to both blogging and knowledge about the City, you should check out (but not buy)the published archives.]

It came slowly, gradually. After shutting down operations of Portland Communique last September, Christopher Frankonis (known as B!x for reasons as odd as why I'm known as Torridjoe) took an apparently much-needed hiatus from the blogosphere--at least, as much of a hiatus as a person can take when they contribute to or maintain seven other websites. But after the new year turned, every now and again you'd see the stray comment at Blue Oregon or Jack Bog's playhouse of thrown feces. As noted, his break from blogging was really only a cessation of the Communique; starting in November of 2005 he began writing quick hitters of a more personal nature at Furious Nads!, shrouded in dark colors and muted as if he really didn't want everyone to know he was back at it (maybe he didn't).

January was mostly dark, February a time for battling with server issues. With March however, I think it can safely be claimed that the B!x, the B!x is back. Churning out four or five or six or even more substantive posts a day, and beginning to concentrate more on local issues like Council elections and public campaign finance, dare we hope that a regular stream of Portland-centric entries is in the Stumposphere's future? Cross your fingers. Here are excerpts from two highly topical pieces today about candidates for Council, both of which I'm in solid agreement with (click at the bottom of each piece to see the whole thing and read the links I have excised from the quotations). Welcome back aboveground, buddy!

First reported in Theo yesterday, a followup today includes a rather odd accusation from one of the candidates.

In a faxed statement Thursday, Boyles accused the newspaper of religious discrimination against Christian conservatives and Slavic Christians in particular. She did not return two phone calls but said in her statement that she and Golovan "followed the regulations to the best of my knowledge."

Take a look at the original Theo article to which Boyles refers. I'm hard pressed to find evidence of religious discrimination, unless Boyles believes the term to include mere mention of the religious or conservative characteristics of herself or her supporters.

Whatever her rationale for making such a charge, in terms of how such a bullshit accusation plays out here it reeks of desperation.

Were we dealing with a political professional -- be they candidate, elected official, or campaign manager -- we'd all be chattering about how it looks for all the world like a smokescreen meant to divert attention.

Either that, or Boyles is of the overly-sensitive type who leaps to the presumption that any mention of someone's religious conservatism must inherently be meant as an attack.

I, for one, don't find either possibility particularly comforting.
[from Emilie Boyles' Discrimination Smokescreen]

Lister's complaint is that if local business-owners were unable to toss their hard-earned cash at candidates for local office, their only route to participation would be to directly engage elected officials at Council sessions and the like -- something Lister argues they'd be loathe to do.

In other words, it's only through cash, in Lister's argument, that business-owners exert their influence over elected officials.
To tally this up, then: Lister's piece is derogatory towards Portland residents, false in its insinuation that business-owners somehow are barred form contributing to candidates not participating in publicly-financed campaigns, and when extended to its clear implications admits that money is how business-owners influence candidates and elected officials.

I don't think this qualifies as "sense" in any legitimate way. But, lamentably, this sort of unthinking babble certainly is all too common.[from Dave Lister's Common Nonsense]

Phoenix (OR) Police Dept. Closes as Chief Faces Indictment

Man, for a smallish county tucked away in Southern Oregon, Jackson County makes its fair share of news. In just the last couple weeks, the area has seen: a lawsuit originating in Ashland that could blow the doors off the NSA wiretapping affair; a disoriented and partially drug-addled family rescued off a logging road after two weeks, Congressmen from multiple states gathered in Medford to highlight the charged academic battle over burned-forest logging; and now this from the small town of Phoenix:
Visitors to the Phoenix Police Department were greeted with a locked door Thursday for reasons neither the mayor nor the Jackson County sheriff would explain.

The closure came a day after Phoenix Police Chief Bob Kershaw, 64, resigned following a sheriff’s investigation alleging he altered a police report to absolve his son — a Phoenix community service officer — of possible criminal charges related to a January party at Kershaw’s home where marijuana was present.

The apparent closing of the police department followed a Wednesday evening executive session called by the Phoenix City Council in which possible disciplinary action against Kershaw was discussed.
Before you hop in your car to head down to Phoenix so you can exceed the speed limit and smoke grass while driving around without a seatbelt, know that county sheriffs pledged to pick up the slack for the 4,500 people in Phoenix proper, as they often do. City Hall workers forced to answer the phone and handle the likely influx of "what do you mean, the police station is closed??" calls were probably less sanguine.

I missed the story as it broke locally on Wednesday, but the Oregonian picked it up as a blurb yesterday morning that caught my eye, and gives more details about what Kershaw allegedly did:
A Phoenix officer went to the home to help police from nearby Talent search for a missing juvenile believed to be at the party, Winters said.

Winters said the police chief initially tried to lead the investigation, but reluctantly turned the case over to the sheriff's department on Feb. 8.

But, Winters said, his deputies found that the reports they got were not the ones made by the initial investigating officers and that portions implicating his son and a witness statement were deleted.

The charges against the police chief are forgery, hindering prosecution, official misconduct, tampering with physical evidence and tampering with public records.
Those are generally not charges you want your police chief coming up on, but it's hard to say the city should be surprised; trouble has followed Kershaw around. He was fired from his job as sergeant for the Keizer police force in 1993, then sued the city and in the subsequent settlement got his termination status changed to "resigned."

The Mail Tribune documents other incidents of lawbreaking in 1999 and 2003 by officers under Kershaw's command; how much blame he should receive for those incidents beyond normal supervisory responsibility is unclear, but for a department with only 10 sworn cops on staff to have four of them in trouble over six years seems a little out of control. And you have to wonder if Phoenix had a good grasp of Kershaw's history, given that they hired him after the previous chief resigned in a mismanagement scandal. Can't win for losing, I guess. Now the only thing that would complete this story and truly make it Oregonian--since it seems to accompany nearly every oddball story in this state--would be if the chief were discovered to be a meth tweaker. So stay tuned for that...

Oregon media continues to give Gordon Smith a pass

Either Gordon Smith has greased a lot of media palms in this state or Smith has some good dirt on all of them.

What other explanation is there for the fact that so many of his crappy, anti-Oregon votes go unreported?

Today over at Senate Majority Project,Srinu Sonti has a write up on Smith's vote to kill lobbying reform in DC:

Senator Gordon Smith joined fellow conservatives in killing a proposal to create an independent ethics commission. The vote, which was the only significant response to the spate of GOP lobbying scandals, would have had a non-partisan outside government agency conduct ethics investigations into the actions of members of Congress.

With so many lobbying and ethics scandals plaguing the Republican Party right now, you'd think the media would notice if our Reps and Senators were voting against independent ethics commissions.

Apparently not. I can find no Oregon newspaper or Oregon television story on this vote.

Last week, this same Oregon media completey ignored Smith's vote FOR drilling in ANWR.

Look for yourself.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Meas. 37: Strangling the Golden Goose That Birthed It

While setting Jack Bog (and the record) straight on Portland's disdain for Measure 37 a couple days ago, I was reminded of the way in which the law resembles a snake eating its tail: we are certainly not far from a scenario where a landowner files an M37 claim based on the loss of value resulting from a neighbor's prior M37 claim. Over at HinesSight, Brian and Laurel Hines would seem to be prime candidates for such a "countersuit":
Nearby, a Measure 37 claim has been filed on a 215 acre parcel that currently is zoned EFU (exclusive farm use). As noted in “Measure 37 hits close to our home,” the owners want to put 80 homes on the land. They believe that the land is worth $18 million with AR zoning compared to $650,000 with EFU zoning.

So they either want Marion County to give them $17 million and change, or waive the land use laws that are preventing them from selling 80 lots. Now, $18 million divided by 80 is $225,000. That’s pretty steep for a two or three acre rural lot, but is fairly close to the market price—especially considering that many of the lots in this proposed development would have nice views.
This phenomenon has been brought up before, as I mentioned; people who used to live next to open space but will now be adjacent to a subdivision or resort community are themselves likely to suffer land value losses based on the changing character of the surrounding land.

But Hines takes a further step back and exposes the illogic of many M37 claims to begin with: it was the regulations themselves that created much of the value in the first place!
Oregon’s land use laws limit the supply of rural acreages zoned for housing, so this increases the price per acre. Thus the only reason this Measure 37 claimant may make as much money as he thinks he will is because the laws he wants waived have produced the land value that he wants to reap.

In other words, most Measure 37 claims are parasitic. They’re sucking up benefits produced by the very land use laws property rights advocates hate so much. And in the process they’re reducing the value of neighboring properties. People in our area thought they could trust that EFU acreages would remain farmland.

With Measure 37, surprise! You can wake up one day, hear the sound of fir trees being felled, and find that your rural home is about to be surrounded by a subdivision.
Lest you believe that this concept of shifting value based on regulations is simply the random musings of a blogger, Rogue Pundit fills us in on a Jackson County claim that has been approved. All good for the claimant, right? Not so fast--since waiving the particular zoning regulation for a single parcel means that the regulation essentially doesn't exist (and never did), that parcel is now subject to back taxes. Turns out some areas have decided that if the landowner wants the locality to let them pretend the regulation doesn't exist, the locality should ALSO pretend--and thus tax the land under the previous zoning classification, starting from the day the new classification (never) happened.

The landowner's lawyer in this case wants to argue that taxes shouldn't be assessed until the land is developed or sold, in essence claiming that the new "value" doesn't exist until actual improvements or sale records are realized. But he's caught in a Catch-22 on that one, since the basis of his client's M37 claim is formed by value that only exists hypothetically as well. I've argued that point many times with M37 supporters: how on earth can you claim a devaluation on land without concrete knowledge of what the "new" value is? Supporters invariably point to county assessments as their value crutch. But when those same assessments are used to rejudge the value of newly unrestricted property after a successful claim--i.e., you can put homes there now, so it's worth more--suddenly value becomes only an unfair hypothetical. Pffffft.

Finally, back in February at New Frames I ran across a good idea for making sure "costs" and "value" are fully considered in an area where no growth has previously existed: make the claimaints pay for infrastructure:
This is what I propose: Property owners and developers who want to build subdivisions and the like outside of urban growth boundaries, and therefore away from established infrastructure, should pay for 100% of the cost of roads to and from the developments, the upgrading of existing roads near the developments, sewers and/or septic tank impacts, public water lines that may be required due to the likelihood of low water tables in rural areas, impact to the local school district (a formula could be established that would calculate the cost each new house would have on nearby schools), a percentage of the future costs to upgrade the rural freeway interchanges that feed into these new developments (the cost could be calculated based on the number of homes in new developments that are dependent on particular freeway entrances and exits) and any other required services such as electrical lines.

Oregon taxpayers should not be responsible for paying a single penny of any development costs outside their cities' urban growth boundaries. If property rights activists believe that property owners can do whatever they want with their property or be compensated by the government for not being able to develop, then those owners should pay for the cost of their development in full, thank you very much.
As many of us have tried to explain in the past, landowners who want the state to treat a single parcel of land in a vacuum as if nothing borders it, will soon find that there's similarly no boundary protecting it from all the other laws (and landowners) out there.

The Albany Democrat Herald gives us a lesson in cheap shots and dishonest dealings

Last week over at Blue Oregon, Anne Martens wrote a piece discussing the racist language and overtones of a commentary in the McMinnville News Register by Jim Ludwick. Martens also noted that Ludwick had sent a letter to the Secretary of State's Office regarding a "How To Start A Business In Oregon" Guide written in Spanish. Ludwick's commentary built a very racist bridge from illegal immigrant to Mexican. Martens piece legitimately criticized what was very obvious racism coming from Ludwick.

Martens' piece additionally criticized an anti-immigration rally to be held in Salem in which Representative Linda Flores would join Ludwick and others. Martens snarkily but accurately wondered aloud if Flores would need to cover up her name, given Ludwick's previous racially tinged statements.

Martens comments touched off a rightwing blogosphere temper tantrum, including casting aspersions at her job in the Secretary of State's office. Martens posted a disclaimer, reminding the toddler tempter tantrum set that she is a private citizen entitled to her opinion, and was not speaking for anyone but herself when she published at Blue Oregon.

Fast forward to today's Albany Democrat Herald, where the editorial staff has issued this melodramatic tome worthy of lining the birdcages at your local pet shop:

Anne Martens, the communications director for Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, last week felt moved to post a disclaimer on Blue Oregon, a liberal Web site. She stressed that a commentary she had written earlier was her own opinion and had nothing to do with her employer.

Would that things were that easy in public life. But they’re not. A person is a single entity, not two or three different parts who can separate themselves from what the other parts are doing.

As the spokeswoman for Bradbury, one of the top state officials, she must have realized that her private views on a hot political issue would inevitably reflect on her role as a person on the public payroll.

Had Martens been bragging in the piece about her job with the Secretary of State, or used her tax payer funded job as a platform to express her ideas, then this commentary from the DH might make sense. However private citizens have the right (and the duty if they feel strongly) to express themselves politically. Its apparent that she wasn't speaking for Bradbury or anyone but herself, as a private citizen. This is a cheap shot at Martens..and betrays the editorial staff at the DH as having an agenda beyond that of keeping government employees on the straight and narrow.

The DH piece continues:

In her commentary, she had likened opposition to illegal immigration to racism. She slammed one of these opponents, state Rep. Linda Flores, saying she “must make an extra effort to overcome the ill effects of her Hispanic surname.”

Another cheap shot, offered up without any context whatsoever. The DH completely disregards the main idea of Martens post: the racism in the things stated by Ludwick. In fact, the DH makes no mention of Ludwick in their entire editorial. These two sentences are nothing more than a dishonest set up to make Martens look bad for not sitting down and shutting up, like a good girl.

I'm sometimes confused by what the media in this state considers worthy of column inches. But this tripe by the DH seems clearly motivated by a conservative, hard right agenda. These editors aren't interested in giving their readers the whole picture. They cherry-picked bits and pieces, completely disregarding the context of the commentary Martens offered.

We can agree and disagree on key issues involving this state and this nation. But when our media decides to deal dishonestly with the public--those conversations become impossible to have in an informed and necessary way. The editorial staff at the Albany Democrat Herald has done a grave disservice to their readers.

I owe Chuck Butcher an apology

When candidates started coming out of the woodwork to run against Greg Walden in Oregon's 2nd Congressional District, I was thrilled to see so many passionate and capable folks willing to take him on.

But when I first laid eyes on the photos of Chuck Butcher, I was a little nervous. Chuck has a full beard that reminds me a lot of Grizzly Adams. Not exactly the buttoned up suit, clean cut look sported by Walden.

Turns out that Chuck is on the cutting edge of fashion.

So Chuck, here's to you and your fashionable, haute couture beard. With my apologies. there are some kinks to iron out

Voter Owned Elections may be suffering a bit from the laws of unintended consequences:

For fans of so-called "voter-owned elections," Emilie Boyles is precisely the kind of candidate the new public financing fund was designed to attract: She's enthusiastic, creative and a longtime activist with little financial firepower.

For opponents of so-called "taxpayer financing," Boyles symbolizes all the problems they predicted: She's eager but awkward on the stump, touting ideas that can seem as impractical as they are innovative. And the way she collected her money -- the 1,000, $5 contributions needed to qualify for $150,000 in taxpayer help -- illustrates the broad constructs of the law and the lack of direct accountability inherent in this new system.

Nearly 950 of her seed donations came from Russian, Croatian and Slavic immigrants living in east Portland -- at least nine of whom say they don't recall contributing.

Boyles apparently relied on a man named Vladimir Golovan to raise a good chunk of this seed money. Golovan is the head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce in Oregon. According to the Oregonian, Golovan filled in the information on the collection sheets for many of the donors. Some of whom don't recall giving to Boyles.

It appears that a more careful process might be needed to make VOA a cleaner process.

Ironically, the Oregonian chose to take commentary from Jason Williams of Oregon Taxpayers Association. Williams, who is against VOE says that he believes contributors should have to be at least 18 years of age to donate to a VOE campaign. I don't necessarily disagree. But coming from Williams, that's a bit of a crock. Especially given his own attempts to make a mess of the ballot initiative process in Oregon.

Talk about digging a log out of your own eye before examining the speck in your neighbor's. Sheesh.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mannix--fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice--ain't gonna happen

Kevin Mannix should really just pack his governor candidate bags and call it a campaign. Nobody likes this guy.

Today's editorial from the Jackson County Trib really lays down the smack on ol' Kev:

In 2002, when Mannix opposed Ted Kulongoski for the governor’s chair, he said he’d reduce government spending without cutting services. Not quite possible, it turned out.

In 2003, as Republican Party chairman, he criss-crossed the state touting a "secret plan" for rescuing Oregon’s budget. When the secret was out, it became clear no real plan existed.

Now we come to 2006. Mannix, in a race to unseat Kulongoski, explained this month to a property-rights group that as governor he’d deal with the problems he sees with Oregon land-use laws by telling the state’s Land Conservation and Development Commission, "I won’t fund LCDC unless we reform the law."

"That’s the kind of governor I would be," Mannix told the group.

The unrealistic kind, then?


Taking my libertarian streak out for a breath of fresh air

Along with my rather wide progressive streak is a sprinkling of libertarianism. I'm widely opposed to government interference in the lives of individuals. I expect that sets me apart in some respects from some of my progressive bretheren. Especially on the subject of gambling and casinos.

Oregon is preparing to tackle the issue of nontribal casinos. While casinos are not individuals...they're places of entertainment where individuals pay to participate. Its a legitimate business. And while I've read arguments against it, I'm disinclined to come out against nontribal casinos or casinos off of tribal lands.

This doesn't mean I'm against the regulation of casinos that do end up off of tribal lands. Its absolutely the job of government to hold any business accountable that preys on individuals or is dishonest with them in some way. Its also appropriate for government to regulate whether or not children can participate.

I do think that we need to be honest with ourselves and not allow gambling to be couched as "family entertainment". I agree that those sorts of labels are at best misleading and at worse a nefarious attempt to talk voters and legislators into something. But I have yet to hear appropriate reasoning for disallowing these casinos altogether.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dave Lister, Jack Bog, and the Truth

When it came to his endorsement for City Council Position 3, Curmudgeon-in-Chief Jack Bogdanski wasted no time in backing the Bogdanskiesque candidate in the race, Dave Lister. Fair enough--Dave's not a whackjob, and he has a perspective seemingly shared by many in the community. If Jack wants to support his candidacy, that's swell.

I'd tell him it's swell myself, by the way, if I could post comments at his blog. Alas, I am a two-time loser on the Jack Bog Wall of Shame. Apparently, calling him "Johnny three-note, all of them in a minor key" in the midst of a substantive debate was a death penalty offense, similar to my first banning for posting 2 comments in a 24 hr period. Like Carla, I chafe at needlessly repressive authority, but I take responsibility for my bannings. It is 100% allowable and fine for Jack to decide who comments on his blog, and how. I was a bad person, and I have been punished. Again, fair enough.

What's _not_ fair, or at least something I cannot abide silently, is Bogdanski's distortive effort to pump up Lister's campaign and knock down Erik Sten's. In his own post and his comments that followed, Jack makes at least two statements that are either factually false or empirically dubious. Since I can't set the record straight for his audience there, I'll do it on my own nickel.

In the first case, it was hypothesized by another commenter that "Portland is not going to elect a Pro-37 conservative." It's not provably clear that's true, but on balance I'd have to agree with that assessment. Jack's response was "Measure 37 is very popular, even in Portland."

Er, what? This didn't sound right to me. I knew that very few localities in the state actually voted down M37 outright, but even if Portland approved it overall, I knew it had to be close--and thus to say "very popular" seemed quite a stretch. A third commenter helpfully supplied the Multnomah County totals, which were just 51.5% in I said, not really "very popular."

I gave those figures a second thought, and then realized that of course the totals reflected all of the county, including Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village, etc. Dave Lister cannot get votes from East County, and in any case Jack was quite specific about Portland. Since the county helpfully summarizes the votes by precinct , it was a relatively simple matter to cut out just the Portland numbers (pdf) and see how the city voted:

YES: 47.9%
NO: 52.1%

In my book, less than 48% <> "popular," much less "very popular." You may argue that Lister can overcome his position on M37, but don't try to dismiss the question entirely by saying Portlanders supported it when they didn't.

When it comes to taking Sten down a peg, Jack's taste for hyperbole can also get the best of him. In the City Club debate, Lister's response on how to combat homelessness was a bit of a surprise, since in essence the response was "I don't have a plan, and I don't see that as a problem." Especially in a race where the incumbent is staking much of his claim on addressing that very issue, it was a curious answer. No matter, says Jack:
I understand that Lister's taking some heat for not spouting the prevailing party line on the homeless last week at the City Club. Sten apparently paints himself as the champion of the downtrodden. But ask yourself, folks, after 10 years of Opie in City Hall, are Portland's homeless better off or worse off than before he got there? To me the situation appears as bad as ever. He's had his chance, made 10 years' worth of speeches, and he's gotten next to nothing done.[emph mine]

I suppose the factual meaning of "next to nothing" is open to debate, but it's patently absurd to suggest that Sten's Council career has not had a positive impact on the city's homeless community. As mentioned in the debate, the first year of the 10-year plan has gone far better than anyone hoped, putting over 600 chronically homeless people into housing and keeping most of them there after a year. In addition, high-cost events such as jailing and hospitalization are sharply down among this group, saving the city those costs. I challenge Jack to gather those 600 people in a room and ask them whether Portland has gotten anything done to help the homeless. Furthermore, this project represents a continuation of the Shelter Reconfiguration Project started by Gretchen Kafoury, which also got people off the streets and into affordable housing--places like The Ritzdorf, a direct result of funding championed by Sten and former Mayor Katz. And then there's New Columbia, the redeveloped housing project built with $20mil of City money, currently running under budget (pdf).

Defend Lister all you want, Jack. If he's your guy, work hard to get him elected (and no, sitting up in your office space at home tapping out screeds for the blog doesn't count). But don't delude your readers into thinking that your guy's weaknesses are strengths, and his opponent's strengths, weaknesses. Grumpy, I suppose I can tolerate from you. Distortive and inaccurate? Not so much.

And by the way, feel free to comment! :)

Whack-a-mole with Westlund

Apparently my consideration of why I can't support Ben Westlund had some smoke and mirrors to it that I wasn't aware of.

I lifted information from Westlund's website which brought me to write:

He's got a 100% rating from NARAL, which is a biggie for me. In my experience, prochoice legislators also tend to be consistently strong on civil rights.

I think I gave Kari Chisolm a heart attack. From comments:

WTF?! Are you kidding me?

He might have a 100% NARAL rating (because not many bills made it to a vote) but he co-sponsored the following bills authored by Oregon Right to Life:

HB 2020 – "Unborn Victims of Violence"
HB 2532 – "Women’s Right to Know"
HB 2605 – "Parental Notice"

Look 'em up.

Ben is playing the Gordon Smith game -- trying to appear moderate to the public while using the dog-whistle on the conservatives.

Fournier at Privilege Judo also had exchange with Stacey Dycus of Westlund's campaign on this issue. And from my reading, its a pretty vague and dodgy response, which is too lengthy to excerpt here, go read it for yourself.

So I'm putting the call out to the Westlund campaign. Defend your guy's stance here.

What is Westlund's exact position on the abortion issue?

(fyi: If you respond with Roe protections, you'll lose me immediately. That's federal. I want to know exactly what he would work for at the state level)

TJ's update, 530pm--
Ms. Dycus has been quite responsive to our efforts to gain information on Sen. Westlund's positions, and we thank her sincerely for that. By taking time to address concerns at LoadedO, all voters benefit from the exchange. You can read some of her response in the comments, below. For the purposes of the main storyline, however, I cut to the chase:

Both HB2020 and HB2065 were passed by the House and subsequently died without vote in the Senate. Had they come to a vote, would Sen. Westlund have voted for or against these two bills? Whatever else you want to say about them, please make sure to include "yea or nay" on both bills in the answer.

Stacey's response, which she admits was crafted quickly so don't hold the brevity against her:
HB2020-- I'm not sure- it never would have come to a vote as is and he knew that when he signed on. Ben supports adding criminal penalties for murder of a pregnant woman -Kate Brown had a similar bill, he thinks a family deserves justice when violence ends the possibility of life for a wanted pregnancy. He recognizes that those families feel an additional loss and that, in the case of Laci Peterson, the model for this type of legislation, her pregnancy became a reason for her murder. He opposes the use of this type of legislation to establish personhood to erode Roe. Sorry if it sounds evasive. Punish criminals yes, Establish fetal personhood, no.

HB2605-- nay Ben believes administrative law judge is too limiting as most towns don't have one. He understands RTL wants to create barriers to restrict access by pushing them into 2nd trimester. That is not his motivation. He supports the concept of parental involvement but not adding barriers for teens that add time.

The Haldol Goobernor Candidate

If Oregonians are in the mood to wax fondly for the days of yesteryear, perhaps they'll hire this guy to be the next goobernor:

Gordon Leitch, Republican candidate for governor, surprised state elections workers when he paid his $100 filing fee in gold, handing over five gleaming $20 Double Eagles.

His candidacy was rejected, however, when elections officials were unable to deposit the money in a bank.

"There was just too big a discrepancy" between the cost of the filing fee and the actual value of the gold coins, said Fred Neal, campaign finance manager for the state Elections Division. The state gave back the gold coins.

That was in December. Earlier this month, Leitch was back at the division office, this time with 100 silver dollars to pay his filing fee, plus two other bags containing a total of 1,000 silver dollars to cover the cost of a statement in the Voters' Pamphlet.

Both times, Leitch brought along a photographer with a video camera.

"I've got a record of it," he told The Oregonian. He said he believes gold and silver is the only legal monetary system.

Gordon Leitch--Your 19th Century goobernatorial alternative.

I might believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and that gorgeous woman looking back at me in the mirror is really Jackie Kennedy Onassis--but the only thing I'll yield from those beliefs is a straight jacket and a big dose of Haldol.

And while I think someone would have to be crazy to run for governor of this state (or any state--its a very tough job)...not THIS crazy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

City Club Council Debate--the Good, the Bad, the Stepford

Unfortunately I was not able to see the debate in person on Friday, much as I did really want to be in the back with the rabble, straining to see. I would have liked to have seen things like body language and the reaction of the audience, but the mp3 of the event (provided by News4Neighbors) is a pretty darn good substitute. Plus I've been able to listen to it multiple times and draw conclusions from that review. I won't try to give it a full rundown in terms of all the questions asked and the response/rebuttals, but there are points I found telling, and also I have generalized reactions to how each candidate did.

A note about the format: some parts I liked, some not so much. Dave Lister had to beg his way onto the dais, and thus the City Club pleaded circumstance for the way they set up the debate. Aside from the opening and closing statements, each candidate was asked a couple of questions, with the other three getting a chance to "respond," whether related to the question, the answer, or something else. The timing was a little short, but I also didn't like the lack of opportunity for the person being questioned to give a short rebuttal. It allowed some hyperbole or arguable charges to go unargued. But I really did like the Club panel calling BS on answers, asking for a repeat that actually addressed the question if they found the first response wanting.

The opening statements were uneven, to say the least. I have been waiting to hear what Emilie Boyles had to say in her first major appearance as a legitimate candidate. I knew her background, but not anything about her personal style other than a couple of pictures. I'm willing to concede both the point of opening night jitters, and the point that smooth oratory is not a good litmus test for governance. But I can't picture in my mind having Emilie Boyles sit on Council. She was quite rushed, at times folksily irrelevant, a little arch (taking care to list the credentials of her mentors)...the word I want to use is hectoring, because she was fairly shouting, even about her own resume'! There was a sense of nervous agitation and rhetorical looseness that bugged me the entire hour. I'll talk about what Boyles said, too--but on many levels elections are decided on gut feelings, and my gut feeling here--Harlan Ellison as a political advisor?--is that she's not ready.

Ginny Burdick followed alphabetically, and you couldn't have bookended two more different speakers. Where Boyles was nearly pushing the lecturn into the orchestra pit, Burdick spoke in a conference-room monotone that sounded like an 8AM software class led by programmers. She doesn't need to be David Lee Roth ("Hellooooo, Portland! How's the fuckin' veal, people? Who's ready to par-tay? Speaking of partay, I just saw two young creatives getting creative in the cloakroom..."), but it's your coming out lunch for city politics--show a little enthusiasm, eh?

I shouldn't imply that Burdick was listless; far from it. Ditching a possible "morning in Stumptown" vision from the get-go, she lit into Sten for "self-inflicting" the many crises she saw at City Hall. Tram, Water Bureau, PGE, VOE--you name it, she fit it into 180 seconds. I'm sure if she had evidence Sten tipped on the credit receipt at restaurants instead of leaving cash, she'd have mentioned it. She has every right to go after Sten in this fashion, of course, but it has to fit properly in the context of the race, and I'm not sure she's getting the right advice. If you're going to be the kind of candidate who builds a campaign out of directly attacking the incumbent, you have to bring some kind of charm to the table or you will just seem like a complaining downer (cf John Kerry).

Dave Lister seemed the most relaxed, as befits someone with seemingly nothing to lose. He spoke with a fair amount of conviction, and made some logical points--but like Burdick, he was enamored of the attack, declaring as unsustainable the way the City is run, and badly in need of repair. Beyond that, Lister came off to me as overly flip, cheerfully disdainful of any issue he didn't find important, and someone who puts way more faith in the qualifications of "running a business" than typically warrants.

Interestingly, while Lister took shots at the mismanagement by Council ("the sham process of public input;" echoing "who's been minding the store" and adding "who's been tapping the till"), he also laid blame on the one area that everyone except Burdick mentioned: PDC. I'll get into this more in a minute, but while I agree with the focus on PDC as part of a broken culture, doing so tends to only tar the Council incumbent insofar as they can be associated with PDC--and that's going to be a tough sell against Sten.

Speaking of Portland's Happy Elf, the fact that Sten has been doing these kinds of appearances for over a decade now was abundantly clear in front of City Club. Despite being the obvious target of the debate, his tone was measured, friendly and usually substantive. It took fewer than 30 seconds of his time to not only dismiss complaints about Council performance as carping belied by continued migration to Portland, but to make troubles sound like a virtue: "Portland is the place that takes on the problems that other people have given up on."

Rather than admit a failure of focus in trying to take on big projects, Sten managed to make Council's efforts sound like a change in themselves rather than same old, same old: instead of the quest for PGE being a wasteful failure, it's a refusal to let powerful utilities shake down city taxpayers anymore. Rather than "politician welfare" to keep the old guard in power, using city funds for election financing is a bold stroke to take "big money" out of the process. Assuming that Sten considers Burdick his most important foe for the primary, his responses Friday look tailored to make HER seem like the ultimate insider, and himself the gap-toothed maverick trying to change from within the system. If that's indeed what he's doing, it's pretty brilliant strategizing IMO, and Burdick doesn't yet have an answer for it.

This is why Burdick steered clear of mentioning her Gard&Gerber credentials, the links to OHSU/South Waterfront/Tram/PGE, and the quasi-autonomous partnership of PDC and their methods of driving development in Portland. Because her clients benefit from the status quo that allows PDC to favor them and generously enrich their investment in the city, Sten may be the incumbent, but Burdick is really the representative of the oligarchy the other three want to rid Portland of. Ironic, isn't it?

So that's the overview of the candidates; following are somewhat random takes on what specifically was said:

**When you're asked why something isn't being done or is being done wrong, and there are other parties at fault to share the blame, don't bluntly blame them just to let yourself off the hook. When asked why the state legislature was unable to fix school funding problems (thus necessitating her drive to make City Council pick up the slack), Burdick raised a fair point: voter initiatives in the 90s and generalized anti-tax sentiment in the last few years have hamstrung the state's ability to seek creative solutions for funding schools. But how did she express her point? By blaming the voters, essentially saying she'd have things fixed by now if not for those meddling citizens.

On the other hand, the first question to Sten reflected the worry of downtown business that the overlap of too many construction projects (Naito, Burnside/Couch, Transit Mall) happening at one time would force the area into gridlock. His answer was roughly patterned after Burdick's--hey, the downtown biz assocation not only asked for the main project, they're helping pay for it, so why are they complaining?--but he did not simply blame the DBA and leave it at that. The rest of the answer (we did planning; we'll pay for citizen education; we'll all get through it eventually) was not necessarily a response to why gridlock has to happen, but he'd already taken the teeth out of the allegation by subtly saying, "Whaddya want for nuthin, DBA?" and then finished the trick by pledging to work together with them anyway, turning the problem into a virtue of private/public cooperation.

**Boyles lost points with me by not being particularly accurate or relevant in her attempt to paint Council as needing a change. She called for abandoning the Transit Mall plan on the basis of poor safety for the disabled, which does not square with the involvement and approval of disabled rights groups (via the Citzens' Advisory Council) for the final Mall plan. Her false choice of "funding schools or funding the tram" was patently ridiculous. Her response to whether the City should involve itself more heavily in school affairs--PPS is failing academically, spends too much and should model itself after suburban districts--was wholly unsupported (OK, she only got 30 seconds) and frankly dead wrong IMO. And really, it didn't even speak to whether PPS problems should be part of the City's bailiwick. She claimed that the space formerly used by Powell's Travel in Pioneer Square remains empty because of high business taxes and license fees, not because, well, it's a crappy location. You get the idea. I don't mind stridency, but being strident, wrong and tangential is not a good combo.

**Dave Lister is about as touchy-feely as Haystack Rock. That's who he is, OK, and he certainly provides a visible counterpoint to the attitudes generally proclaimed publicly by Portland politicians. His response on the problem of homelessness? After hearing Sten crow that over 600 chronically homeless people had been successfully relocated, Lister's response was first that homelessness wasn't really that big a deal because his teenagers taught him some homeless people like it that way--and then when called back for nonresponsiveness, he shrugged and admitted he had no plan. We can debate his point, and maybe it's refreshing that a politician is willing to say he doesn't have an answer for everything--but Lister gave the impression that he didn't know, and he didn't care.

'Not caring' is a dangerous strategy in this town, IMO--and using the phrase "choosing that lifestyle" reminds me too much of the debate over the origins of homosexuality. That's a highly visceral reaction; I certainly don't think he was talking about being gay in the slightest. But it's the same kind of "let the exception decide the rule" calculus, where the actions of a subset determine whether we should care about the group as a whole. I'm probably more enamored of statistics, probability and objective analysis than 95% of the country--but there's a limit to what you can do with quantitative decision making. At some point you reach the granularity needed to see the numbers as human beings needing compassion at a minimum. I get the sense Dave doesn't see it that close most of the time. Do you want that quality in a Commissioner? Doubtless some of you do; not me.

**Listening to Burdick talk about the virtue of small businesses and how much they mean to this town was kind of like listening to Sam Walton wax rhapsodic on the local True Value hardware franchise. She did take on big money in one fashion, though--she said downtown's seamy side is in part a reflection of "Lake Oswego teenagers who think panhandling is fun." Avaricious bastards, squeezing out the small-homeless community!

**Best "don't blame me" moment: Lister disassociating himself from the tram completely by saying, "I didn't vote for it, I didn't advocate for the company that wanted it, and I'm afraid of heights so I won't ride it."

**Most ignorable response: Burdick, on whether the purchase of PGE would have been a good idea.

**Tiny grab-bag of ideas award: Boyles, who suggested for nearly every problem the acquisition of federal grant money and services as a solution. Certainly something to look into and integrate into current funding plans, but not exactly panacea in an RFP.

**Sten is a pro at this, and it's going to take a much smarter effort than what the others gave in order to knock him off his perch. Each of the other three made rational, valid points for which Sten could receive blame, but each time he was able to shake it off and even turn it into a plus for his style of governance. Until they can wipe that goofy smile off Erik's face, this is his race to lose.

Why conservatives continue to lose in Oregon

No wonder the conservatives can't make headway in Oregon. When you've got bullshit like this substituting for content, you're bound to lose.

Every single time conservatives insist on demonizing and pigeonholing liberals--they'll lose more ground. It's lazy and stupid. And everyone sees it but them.

OH MY GOD--the Blazers suck

So you knew that already.

But still.


Why can't I support Westlund?

Something is keeping me from being able to support Ben Westlund and I can't quite put my finger on it.

He's got a 100% rating from NARAL, which is a biggie for me. In my experience, prochoice legislators also tend to be consistently strong on civil rights.

Westlund has an interesting tax proposal that I don't think has a shot in hell. Mostly because it doesn't eliminate income taxes before installing a sales tax. But its a can be tweaked..and its important to him.

He's big on the HOPE for Oregon healthcare plan--which makes healthcare a fundamental right for all Oregonians. Love that one, too.

So what is it? What's bugging me?

It might be the gay marriage issue. Westlund's website says he was big on SB 1000 (Civil unions for gays and lesbians). But he voted against gay marriage. I've had trouble with this from a lot of people. Its an advocacy of the "separate but equal" doctrine--and I can't stand it.

Maybe its because he was a Republican..and the Republican Party in this state and this nation has demonstrated such a complete and utter lack of competence in governance. Is Westlund tarnished by his association with them?

It could be that I'm skeptical he'll be able to really work with the legislature. Depending on how things shake out in November, the Dems could hold both chambers. This would be the chance for truely progressive legislation to come out of Salem to benefit the citizens of Oregon. How much of that is Westlund really willing to support? How much of the old GOP guard is he still beholden to, despite losing his GOP affiliation? And if the legislature is split..with the GOP still holding a chamber, how will he deal with them?

I'm absolutely open to seeing someone other than Ted in the job. Ted has demonstrated that he can't or won't work with the legislature. Progressives should have owned Salem last session. There's no excuse for it and Kulongoski was a major piece of that failure.

But right now I'm not seeing a huge improvement if Westlund takes those reins.

I'd love it if someone could really convince me otherwise.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

No Child Left Behind--the idiots guide to killing education

If students in Oregon only needed to know how to read and how to do math, No Child Left Behind would be a fabulous piece of federal legislation:

Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.

Apparently if you're a Schumck, its hunky dory.

The "logic" of NCLB hunky dory-ness seems to be that without the foundation of reading and math, none of the other subjects can be mastered.

Except that the other subjects are being reduced or eliminated.

No science. No history. No writing/grammar. No spelling. No foreign languages.

Not so hunky dory.

Randy Leonard kicks ass

You gotta love a guy who's willing to use the phrase "No shit, Sherlock" when writing a piece discussing the OHSU tram.

He bottom lines the tram situation brilliantly, too:

It is clear to me, unless one believe's Mr. Stadum's defense that he "...doesn't remember the message", that OHSU hid from the city council that they knew the final cost of the tram would be much higher than what was represented to us at the time.

Knowing that, it is shocking that a man of Dr. Kohler’s caliber would actually write something as misleading as he did here understanding as I do that OHSU was part of the cast of characters who intentionally misled the city council (pdf).

I am not trying to blame Dr. Kohler, Steve Stadum, city staffers or anyone else for that matter. I am just explaining what I understand the facts to be.

If OHSU adopted the more rational approach suggested by Issac Laquedem, I would have been more open to their arguments for increased city financial help.

However, while I will stick by my original commitment to building the tram, that commitment was based on a city contribution of $3.5 million. That contribution was based on a cost to build the tram that was represented to be $15.5 million...a number OHSU at the time knew to be wrong.

I wish every politico used this straight forward approach when dealing with the public/issues. Leondard could teach the spine-challenged Dems in DC a thing or two about standing up for the right thing in a direct, yet vocal way.

Sunday: Spanning the State

It's Sunday! Time for our traditional LO linkfest of goings on around Oregon.

How Much Greed Can We Afford? The editorial board at the Ashland Daily Tidings outlines a plundering of Oregon's natural and economic resources in the name of pandering to a few bottom line bean counters. Its an interesting look one aspect of capitalism that feeds into the law of unintended consequences.

The organic food craze has managed to push its way even to the small town of John Day. Hey..cowpokes needs pesticide free tomatoes, too.

Oregonians in the wood products industry are facing an aging workforce and large number of pending retirements through 2014 (the average age for a logger in Oregon is 47--wow). So while the forest industry continues to lose jobs, it appears that there will actually be a crisis in terms of replacement workforce in the industry.

Some folks in Central Oregon are grappling with the fact that all politics is local,but all homeowners aren't.

The Statesman Journal in Salem is looking for folks to rewrite their editiorials on topics from this last week's paper. It seems the editorial staff has been receiving complaints about their points of view and their style. They're looking for readers who are willing to pony up their own pieces for submission.

At least one real estate/investment advisor thinks Bend's housing market is about to undergo a major cooldown and is about to bail out.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wu Backs Fishing Industry against Administration in Astoria

Growing up in Oregon, one of the things my parents did not instill in me was an appreciation for salmon--although maybe I refused it as a kid. Salmon is about as far away from a fish stick as you can get. But my mom was a vegetarian and my dad not a fisherman, so the abundance and importance of the salmon to Oregon's character and bounty did not stick with me until I returned home a few years ago.

My interest is merely gustatory and historic-aesthetic, but there are also quite a few Oregonians whose livelihoods depend on the gallant swimmers with the highly prized flesh. Sportfishers. Commercial fishers. Guides. Tackle shops. Outdoor outfitters. Boating stores. Motels. Restaurants--great ones and otherwise. Convenience stores (ever fish without beer and snacks?) and fuel stations. Fish processors and packers--and I mean the people hunched over a table doing it. And those are just the non-Native peoples.

Things are tense among those people right now; the 2006 runs are showing early signs of a significantly poor harvest:
Through Monday, only two spring chinook had passed through the ladders at Bonneville Dam. That's comparable to the extremely low runs of the mid-1990s.

Through Sunday, only five spring chinook had been counted at Willamette Falls.

"I sincerely hope it's not as ugly as it looks right now,'' said Bill Tweit, Columbia River policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Washington and Oregon officials agreed Wednesday to conduct test netting on Sunday and to meet Monday afternoon to reassess the spring run and prospects for additional gillnetting in the lower Columbia.

A run of 88,400 spring chinook is forecast to enter the Columbia headed for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam. That would be the worst in six years.

A return of 46,500 spring chinook is predicted back to the Willamette, the worst in seven years.
That's not good. Something's gotta be done to rebuild the harvest, right? So to my untrained eye, a federal injunction against harvesting of salmon along Northwest rivers makes sense--less fish taken out means more fish left, right?

Well, yes--but it turns out the typical river harvest takes at most less than 10% of the population (pdf). What's holding back the salmon population in the Northwest? Dams. Three, four, five--even as many as nine out of 10 fish on the Snake River are killed not by a fisherman but by a power turbine. Here's a rather amazing endorsement list of newspapers, organizations, cities, tribes, fishermen, etc who support retiring four Lower Snake dams. When you compare Snake salmon who must pass eight dams, to the Columbia's four, logically and truthfully the Columbia salmon do better.

So the Bush administration's plan to stop fishing harvest does little to impact the salmon condition, ignores the science behind retiring the dams, and cripples industries and towns throughout the Northwest. It isn't Katrina, but it's pretty freaking inept. Or rather, pretty craven--the people who make money off the turbines' spinning are generous with their largesse to the administration. If there's one group still standing by George Bush it's the utility industry, because he rarely disappoints them. Very, very, rarely.

Thus a reason to protest, and we come finally to the lede: Dave Wu has the sense to recognize the importance of this issue to a good chunk of his district, and the awkward savvy to win those votes for him in the perennially tough 1st CD. He's clearly never going to play the captain in the House musical of Jaws, but he's earnest enough:
“What we don’t need is some pencil-necked presidential science advisor come in here to build a wall between us and our river, between us and our fish,” Wu said.

The salmon crisis is the result of the administration’s mismanagement of upriver water resources, Wu said, but the response to fishermen has been “a sharp stick in the eye.”

“We are not going to take this, we are not going to accept this,” he said.

He said that if the fisheries managers close the salmon season, fishermen should come back in August with a couple tons of dead salmon to dump at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regional headquarters in Seattle.

“If they dare to close our salmon season, we will lay the dead fish where they belong, at the doors of the people who made the bad water policy that caused the problem in the first place,” Wu said.
Ewwww. There goes the marine biologist vote. And why are they getting our precious salmon on their doorstep instead of in my frying pan?

I think Wu is booked for an easy ride this November, actually--the vote against the Iraq War now looks like a golden ticket, and Wu's got one:
"Make no mistake about it," he told the House. "With this first strike, with this first war, we will lose the high moral ground that has taken Americans 200 years to build."
So as you relax with your favored other in the Pearl, cutting up a flaky river coho this year, remember where it came from.

9 Acts of Determination

In the Portland area, we're used to being rebels. We speak out. We make noise. We fight the perceived injustices and try to make it better.

Sometimes though, we need to sit and reflect on just what we're making noise about.

The Sojourn Theatre is giving us that reflective opportunity right now.

Their 9 Acts of Determination is currently holding performances to wonderful reviews:

A surprising meditation on war that's both unsettling and memorable without preaching. Sojourn Theatre has blown apart the tenets of the normal drama, and 9 Acts is a work that's only partially reconstructed. The tone ranges from action movie to fairy tale to frank conversation with the audience, and there's nothing that resembles a plot. 9 Acts refuses to hand over any simple answers. Steady, honest justifications for why we fight counterbalance the theme that death is a tragedy that does not diminish with quantity. Every time the play arrives at a nice digestible conclusion, the actors yank it away and go on to deepen the conversation. Each actor inhabits dozens of characters that shift fluidly through the play. They tackle war and grief without ever edging into maudlin, and the moments of humor (yes, humor) are genuine and well-timed. Tahni Holt (Monster Squad dance company) gives the performance a remarkable physicality with her choreography. The play's rare weak spots really come when the actors are bickering over why we fight. It's supposed to highlight the intensity of disagreement, but there are moments when one is reminded that there's a fine line between watching an onstage argument and a high-school debate practice. The only static character is the director Michael Rohd, who's essentially playing himself. As the savvy director, he knows the futility of trying to discuss and evaluate the human propensity for war—after all, we've been doing it forever. He seems to admit that he may be tilting at windmills, but he tugs on the audience's sleeve anyway, as if to say, "Don't we at least need to try?" JONATHAN WEATHERFORD

Ticket information is available here.

Sizemore email saga: Part 3

The Bill Sizemore email exchange has been one of the more entertaining parts of my week this week (yeah, I should probably get out more..but still). I received his third reply yesterday. Here it is:

Nothing in my article was defending tax dodgers. The point is that liberals resort to the violence they say they abhor if someone doesn’t pay their taxes, which makes them hypocrites. I didn’t even say that the government ought not show up with guns when someone refused to pay, only that it is hypocritical for liberals to send them. It would not be hypocritical for conservatives to send them out. We know that government is ultimately about force, whether we like it or not. It is just that liberals act if it is not. Do you get my point now that I have spelled out the obvious message of my article? The article has nothing to do with defending tax dodgers. Everyone has to pay their taxes. If you don’t like the tax laws, change the law. That has always been my position and in fact my habit.

Dear Bill:

I understand that you think you weren't defending tax dodgers. But I've already demonstrated to you that this was exactly what you were doing. Your "liberals are hypocrites" point was a means to get there and a poor one at that, as I've also shown. If these weren't your intended points, then perhaps in the future you should more carefully word your articles.

I know that government is "of the people, by the people and for the people". It isn't the evil entity of boogeymen that you try to make it out to be. Government is US. We are the ones that give government power and take it away.

Taxes are our privilege and our duty. I'm proud to be an American and an Oregonian. I'm also very proud to be a liberal. In the future you might consider that there are liberals who love their country just as much as some conservatives say they do. Maybe more. And your broadbrush painting of all of us is unfair, unreasonable and dishonest.

Unless of course "unfair, unreasonable and dishonest" is what you're going for.



Friday, March 24, 2006

One-of-a-kind Election Moments

Crossing paths as they travel different roads of varying quixotic slope, Democratic candidate for Congress Chuck Butcher finds time to mug with Republican goobernor hopeful Jason Atkinson. I'll leave you to guess who is who. :)
Take hands with us for a moment, Gullyborg, as we sing a rousing rendition of "It's a Small 2nd Congressional District, After All."

..but buy your own cookies and punch. What are we, a snack bar?
Love, LoadedO

Snow-rescued Grandparents Wanted in Arizona

In another story where weird events somehow turn into a tale about meth (cf Kelley Wirth), the Jackson Mail Tribune reports that the grandparents of the family rescued from their snowbound RV this week are wanted on warrants for meth possession and sale:
The Ashland Daily Tidings said the warrant was issued after Arizona authorities saw TV coverage of the Higginbothams and the four others — Becky Higginbotham’s son, his wife and their two children.

“There is an active warrant for Mr. Higginbotham and his wife,” Deputy Commander Kelly Clark, of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Department, told the Daily Tidings.

Clark told the newspaper that Higginbotham and his wife were arrested last year in Arizona, but never charged, on three felony counts, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of a shotgun.

Clark said Higginbotham and his wife had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement so the couple was not charged at the time.

“We let them go because they expressed an interest in working with law enforcement,” Clark said. “We haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since. He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.”

In an interview with the Ashland newspaper, Higginbotham admitted he had been arrested on drug charges in Arizona. But he said the drugs were not his.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
I felt so relieved that no lives had been lost in a scenario seemingly doomed to tragedy, that I opted not to mention my wonderment at their witless attempt to navigate a logging road in winter mountains with a recreational vehicle. And even with this development, it's neither clear that anyone but the Higginbothams are involved in meth, nor that the grandparents had anything to do with events that got them stranded.

But it makes you ponder, doesn't it? I admit being a little surprised at video footage of the elders, noticing the rather scruffy look and sallow face of Mr. Higginbotham that Mrs. Joe readily identifies as the look of the meth abuser. But I figured if I'd been stuck in an RV for two weeks, I'd look pretty crappy too. Now I'm not so sure, and I'm not convinced of their assurances to family that they were off the stuff, given the extreme difficulty in kicking the drug and their apparent lack of any treatment. Accepting for a moment the version being pitched by the Arizona patrolman making the arrest, the Higginbothams were well-involved in the scene:
Lt. Clark then advised Higginbotham that we were at this residence because we received information that there may be illegal drug activity occurring here. Lt. Clark then asked Higginbotham if he knows anything about illegal drug activity going on at this trailer, Higginbotham said no. Lt. Clark then said come be straight up I’m sure you have a little head stash. Higginbotham then said to Lt. Clark, alright straight up, I have a little bit of meth. Lt. Clark asked Higginbotham where it was at. Higginbotham said that it was inside the trailer, and I’ll go get it for you. Higginbotham then invited us into the trailer. Detective Plumb and I followed Higginbotham into the trailer and Higginbotham made contact with a White female. Higginbotham then introduced the female to us as being his wife Rebecca.

Higginbotham then told Rebecca to go get the stuff, Rebecca then said what stuff. Higginbotham then told here the meth. Higginbotham told Rebecca that he was being straight up with the officers and he told them about the meth. Rebecca then began walking towards the rear of the trailer, Det. Plumb followed her. While they were in the back room I stayed with Higginbotham in the living room. Higginbotham told me that he was straight up with us because him and his wife are getting to old to be doing this shit anymore, and now maybe this will help them realize it is time to get out of it.
"Come be straight up, I'm sure you have a little head stash." That's Ashland cops working the street lingo, I guess.

Perhaps because Higginbotham was "straight up," or because there wasn't room in the local jail for them, Ashland essentially put them on their own recognizance with assurances that they'd "cooperate." The Stivers family did the same after their ordeal, and they appear to regret it now, too:
Hill-Stivers' mother, Rose Hill, said the couple had left the Higginbothams at a family apartment in Ashland on Thursday afternoon and hadn't heard from them since then.

"We have no idea where they are," she said. "We haven't heard or seen them since then."

She speculated that the Higginbothams may have gotten a motel room in Ashland. So far as she knows, she said, the Higginbothams don't have a vehicle. Their recreational vehicle was to be pulled out of the mountains Friday afternoon, she said.

She said any legal difficulties "have nothing to do with Marlo and Pete."
Peter Stivers was raised by grandparents and had little to do with his mother, Becky Higginbotham, while growing up, she said.

Rose Hill told KTVL radio that "it's very wrong of them to leave like that," leaving the Stivers to answer media queries about the Higginbothams' past.
I'm not attempting to make a scandal out of this story, and the revealment of the grandparents' criminal history doesn't make me any less glad that they were found in good health. But I can't say I'm not less charitable about the family's egregious driving error now, and as in any case involving meth, I'm wondering about the safety of the two children caught up in all of it--not to say they are certainly in danger, but I wonder. And given the breathless coverage we gave the story when it broke, we owe you the update.

State Dems file complaint against Feldkamp

Looks like DeFazio's opponent has some 'splainin' to do:

Neel Pender, the head of the state Democrats, said Feldkamp did not account for how he was able to make a $77,500 loan to his own campaign in the 2004 race.

Feldkamp's personal financial disclosure form — filed with the clerk of the U.S. House of Representative — stated that he earned no more than $10,200 in 2004, had bank accounts with less than $5,000, and neither sold nor took out loans against his inheritance and other assets.

Does Feldkamp have a sugar daddy? Does he have the hotline number for Loren Parks? I remembering hearing DeFazio complain about some possible unethical or illegal activity that Feldkamp had going down as well.

If I can get to it later today, I'll see if I can dig that up.

So I guess Sizemore won't be inviting me to his next soiree

Bill and I have quite an exhange going:

You wrote to me, Carla. I didn’t write to you first and didn’t write my article about you.

Do you support a sales tax? If not, then you are a tax protestor by your definition. Do you support tripling your property taxes? If not, you are a protestor or would be if someone proposed a bill doing that.

In other words, you make little sense. I have been accused by sharper folks, and more polite ones

I guess this means I'm supposed to feel all chastized now.

My reply:

Dear Bill:

You in fact did write your article about me. When you decided to make sweeping generalizations about liberals (and we've already established that I am one) you wrote about me. I don't know if I support a sales tax. Its unlikely, but I'd consider the proposals if they were made. I certainly wouldn't be defending people who refused to pay it, were it made legal.

The point that's eluding you here Bill is that you are defending the practice of tax dodging. It's anti-Constitution and absolutely unAmerican.

Were you to consider me "sharp", I'm not so sure that would be a compliment under the circumstances. Given that you are mounting a defense of tax protesters couched in a broadbrushed backhand at liberals, your definition of "sharp" is suspect.

And why you'd expect to be treated politely after the shabby way you've spoken about so many of your fellow Americans, is a mystery.



Thursday, March 23, 2006

The truth will set you free--unless you're a rightwinger. Then it chafes.

Oh my. It seems Anne Martens has hit a nerve:

So Anne Martens has a piece over at BlueOregon that calls people who oppose illegal aliens racist.

"There has been more and more anti-immigrant sentiment lately. And by anti-immigrant, I mean anti-Mexican. I'm sick of it. It's time to call this what it is: racism."

She goes on to cite a quote from 1885 as evidence of this apparent racism. It's like listening to Avel Gordley talk about slavery like it was yesterday. (Remember how the Democrats opposed slavery and worked hard to abolish... oh wait...)

Now had this been Anne's only quote, this might be a good point. But since the vast majority of Anne's piece was about some screeching in the McMinnville News Register from last Saturday about racist, anti-immigrant clap trap, it isn't. Apparently even at the local level, conservatives lie by omission for no good reason.

Anne seems to be on Victoria Taft's last nerve,too. But since no one listens to Taft on the radio anyway, there's no reason to care what she says on her blog about it.

If you haven't read Anne's piece at Blue Oregon, you should. Its excellent.

Carla gets letters--from Bill Sizemore!

Not exactly friendly...but in response to my letter/post here it is in its entirety (it didn't come to me in a letter form, btw):

If you made a logical point, perhaps I could respond intelligently. But you don’t. Nothing in my article implies that I believe that citizens should not pay taxes. I pay mine. I do not believe property taxes, which are unrelated to a person’s ability to pay, are a good way to finance government.

I am not a tax protestor, though I believe taxes and government spending are too high. In fact, I am sure they are.

So, do you have guns? Are you a liberal? Do you think government is benevolent, or a dangerous master? Do you think government has become too big and too powerful.

Dear Bill:

I'm dissapointed in your response. The point I made was very logical. If you don't feel you can deliver an intelligent response, I feel comfortable in saying that it has nothing to do with anything I've said.

In your original piece you said:

But I have one question for all you anti-gun, anti-violence liberals. Why is it, if I don’t pay my taxes, you want to send gun toting government agent out to my property to physically take my house away from me?

Please allow me to explore that a bit. Let’s say some conservative doesn’t believe in property taxes and thinks he has a right to really own a piece of property without paying rent to the government to keep it. That’s not such a novel concept, you know. A lot of people feel that way.

I am just speaking figuratively here, but let’s say the sheriff comes out to kick this non taxpaying conservative out of his house and forgets to bring his firearm, or better yet, announces that he will not resort to violence to enforce the law. If that happened, there’s a good chance the conservative, non taxpaying property owner would keep his house and tell the sheriff to go pound sand.

That looks an awful lot to me like a defense mounted to protect people that won't pay taxes.

Further, you say that you're not a tax protester but you're against property taxes. Based on your efforts to roll back those taxes in this state, you do in fact appear to be protesting them. But that's picking nits, I suppose.

What confuses me is the hypocrisy of considering yourself a patriot but be willing to defend those who flout the Constitution by not paying their taxes.

To answer your questions, no I don't have a gun. But I've been around them most all my life and was taught how to use them (I am a fair archer, too). And yes, I'm a liberal. I think government is neither benevolent or a master. I think government is "of the people, by the people and for the people". Is government too powerful? Only when they don't follow the law and aren't held accountable for it.

Perhaps next time in your search for hypocrisy, you could should consider the log in your own eye before investigating the speck in your neighbor's.



Blumenauer and Walden, Bridging the Gap

We've become such a rude fucking country. I say that with more than a hint of irony of course, but it also proves the point--swearing on a blog is commonplace if not de rigeur, and what could be more of a cultural pressure point than blogging/MySpacing/podcasting, etc--the personalization and commodification of information? If our myriad expressions of personal livelihood are as fraught with naughty talk as they clearly are, and these exploding expressions exemplify where we are as a society right now, then QED, right? This has become a rude fucking country.

My first realizations about the gradual move into the abyss began with Morton Downey Jr., who was kind of like Phil Donahue with a vendetta. He'd skulk the aisles with a cigarette and a microphone, and berate audience members and callers--just slay them with insults. He was Limbaugh without the fan club, and somehow this became entertainment.

So I had already been gone from Oregon for a decade when I realized that things like political partisanship were beginning to become more polarized. But I always remembered the reputation of Oregon politicians defying party label and making a hallmark out of working together in Congress for Oregon-benefitting legislation. They always came together for the good of the state.

When I returned to the state, as I'd feared even Oregon had fractured itself into halves, and the sides were rarely in a mood to talk. What's more, the odd scenario occurred where Democrats dominated the state caucus 4-1, but the one was favored because he was of the majority party. That certainly didn't help. But that consensual instinct for what's right for Oregon seems lost.

Maybe not totally, however. Succumbing to the wonky wiles of an Earl Blumenauer press update, I was reminded that there are still some things to agree on--like Mount Hood. Along with Crater Lake the most iconic symbol of the state, the Hood area has a psychic power for many Oregonians, including Blumenauer and Greg Walden. The pair (who were in Walden's Hood River backyard) did a 41-mile hiked circuit around the mountain in four days, and you don't do that kind of thing for every bill.

Beyond Hood's aesthetic power is its massive economic impact. Not only as a tourist destination drawing 4 million people a year, but as the water supply for the entire Willamette Valey and all of the food products that come from there, not to mention the electric power from the snowmelts in spring that powers Portland. So it's a bit of a no-brainer, easy to come to agreement on. But it's no joke when a member of the majority party proposes to submit a bill to his bosses to put 77,000 acres off the table around Hood. That's not the way Gale Norton leaned on these kinds of things, that's not the way Kempthorne looks to view things, and it's definitely not the way George Bush likes to view things. So it's both a favor and a risk for Walden, and I think that's a good thing done for the benefit of Oregon.

But wait, there's more: Blumenauer and Walden get even chummier on a subject that is much more political in nature: ethics reform. Specifically, the task of policing ethics in Congress. Cosponsoring a bill to establish an independent Ethics Commission to review charges against Members is again not good party loyalty by Walden. This is a vindictive party right now, run by a guy who wants to make Tom DeLay look like Richard Simmons as Majority Leader. So any movement away from the Mussolinites is good news for Oregon and the country at large.

One other thing Blumenauer's doing that Walden is not, is putting a timetable on the war: two years. That's double Murtha's general timetable, and is more vague on the stationing of a "safety force" and the creation of a Middle East Council to help guide Iraq, but essentially it's the same plan. However, in Blumenauer's vision it's focused on returning Guard troops to their rightful place in Oregon and all states--thus the name "First Step to Redeployment Act," which I gotta say Earl, clangs on the tongue like a tarnished spoon. Nonetheless, it's the right idea and it should be heard. And there's no reason why all seven Members of Congress can't get behind a bill bringing our ONG troops back home. They've been gone long enough, and gave the most when they were given the least. Have your people call DC and tell them to get on this bill with Earl.

Walden is still worth beating in OR-2, but he does have his moments. Blumenauer remains one of the very best Congresspeople out of all 535. He was born to legislate.
And when they can, they do work well together. Brings back memories, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When I look up "intellectually lazy" in the dictionary, there is a picture of Bill Sizemore.

Dear Bill:

I had no idea that one man could bring "intellectually lazy" to the dizzying heights you've managed. I sit in awe at how readily you're willing to go straight to vapid, pigeonholing dialogue in an effort to make a meaningless point. To wit:

Most liberals don’t like guns. In fact, it is probably fair to say that most liberals eschew violence in all its forms. That means no capital punishment, no boxing matches, no torturing information out of terrorists, no shooting bad guys who break into my house, no murdering trees with a chainsaw, and no killing critters, especially if all you are going to do is skin ‘em and keep the hide. Oh yeah, and no nuclear weapons.

Its probably fair to say that some liberals don't like guns. Its probably fair to say that some conservatives don't like guns either. There are probably some men who don't like guns, as well as women. Some liberals eschew all forms of violence. As do some conservatives. I'd be willing to bet we could find folks on all sides of the ideological spectrum who believe that torturing people, even in an attempt to glean information, is bad. The same with the rest of your laundry list. Now that we've eliminated incredibly lazy and careless attempts at broadbrushing an entire group perhaps we begin a real understanding.

Okay, I get it. But I have one question for all you anti-gun, anti-violence liberals. Why is it, if I don’t pay my taxes, you want to send gun toting government agent out to my property to physically take my house away from me?

Since you appear to be one who isn't bothered by guns, why would you care if an individual sent to enforce the law is carrying one?

But the real question, beyond the faux indignance at the gun toting sheriff, is why do you have such disregard for the Constitution? According to Article One Section Eight, it is the charge of the Congress to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States...

I can't understand why someone who purports to be a patriot would work so hard to shrug his most basic patriotic duty--to pay his taxes. Taxes are how we pay to defend this nation. Its how we pay for our highways and basic infrastructure. Its how we pay to defend our homeland from terrorists and keep bad guys off the streets. Paying taxes is the dues we pay to live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Every time some tax dodging corporation or individual shirks their taxpaying duty, it makes it that much more difficult for the government to fulfill its Constitutional mandates. The shameful act of blaming liberals because you don't love and respect your country or its laws is disgusting.

Its no different than burning a flag or urinating on a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Working to dodge taxes is just as disrepectful and disdainful of our nation as doing those things.

You don't get to live under the blanket of freedom for nothing, Bill. There is a financial price to be paid. The rest of us shouldn't have to foot your share of the bill. We're not here to be your welfare state.



Oregonian: Get ready for Al Jazeera

The O's Editorial board is bracing itself:

The new English-language channel will be a cleaned-up version of the controversial broadcasts in Arabic that dominate the Middle East. Set to launch globally in May to an audience of 40 million mostly European homes, Al-Jazeera International promotes itself as a purveyor of "accurate, impartial and objective reporting," mostly from an Arab perspective but with journalistic standards similar to those of America's ABC, NBC and CBS.

We'll see. The Qatar-based network has such an atrocious image in the United States that it's going to take more than British interviewer David Frost and other English-speaking correspondents and news anchors to win over skeptical American viewers.

It's even possible the May launch will happen without U.S. participation. Al-Jazeera still has no signed contract with any U.S. cable operator, satellite provider or broadband service. Even when a deal is struck, where will the channel find American advertisers?

That's going to be a stretch. Since its inception in 1996, Al-Jazeera has aired a deplorable gusher of anti-Semitic rhetoric, mostly directed at Israel. Although the network also denies that it has ever broadcast a beheading, it certainly devotes a lot of air time to those who commit beheadings.

Networks like FOX and CNN commit loads of airtime to guys like Scott Peterson, OJ Simpson, Robert Blake, Natalee Holloway, etc. Those networks will show hate filled rants by the likes of Ann Coulter, Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity..directed entirely at liberals for the purpose of persuading the nation to despise the American left.

You'll forgive me if I'm having a little trouble understanding what all the fuss is about.

But among the O's apparent discomfort at the possibility of Al Jazeera, they direct our attention to a quandry for those who support Bush and the Republicans:

Predictably, voices on the American right are demanding that the Bush administration block plans for Al-Jazeera broadcasts in this country on security grounds. That's not likely to happen, and not just because it would thrust the White House into the role of suppressing free speech.

Al-Jazeera is owned by the emir of Qatar, an Arab ally of the United States. So is the emir of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates and home to Dubai Ports World, the company that the Bush administration deemed perfectly suited to managing several of America's largest ports.

After the noisy commotion about that unpopular idea, imagine the awkwardness of the president trying to argue that America's airwaves are more vulnerable to enemies than America's harbors.

Come on now you righties. What kind of message are we sending to our good faith partners in the War on Terrah if we don't allow their television station to broadcast in the United States?

Goverment for free: not so legal

When is the law not the law? When its a school funding requirement.

The big guns over at Blue Oregon are reporting that the Oregon School Funding Defense Coalition (warning: PDF) has filed a lawsuit against the State of Oregon for not fully funding schools according to their constitutional mandate.

They appear to be filing based on the following Constitutional areas:

Article VIII, Section 8. Adequate and Equitable Funding. (1) The Legislative Assembly shall appropriate in each biennium a sum of money sufficient to ensure that the state's system of public education meets quality goals established by law, and publish a report that either demonstrates the appropriation is sufficient, or identifies the reasons for the insufficiency, its extent, and its impact on the ability of the state's system of public education to meet those goals.


Article VIII,Section 3. System of common schools. The Legislative Assembly shall provide by law for the establishment of a uniform, and general system of Common schools.

The entity in Oregon charged with determining how schools meet the quality goals set by the legislature is the Quality Education Commission. They are required to use the Quality Education Model (QEM) to come up with the changes needed in schools to meet the goals. According to the Oregon School Funding Defense Coalition Q&A, until the legislature changes this law, that's their legal mandate:

Is the QEM (Quality Education Model) relevant?From a legal perspective—and that is what this case is about – the QEM is not only relevant, it’s dispositive. Article VIII, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution requires the Legislature to provide funding sufficient to attain the statutory quality goals established by the Legislature in 1991. The Legislature, in turn, vested the Quality Education Commission with the authority to determine—using the QEM—the specific qualitative changes that were required for our schools to attain those quality goals. The Legislature has never adopted an alternative standard.

Can’t the legislature just change the law?The key point is that, whether or not the Legislature could change the law, it hasn’t. This case, like any other legal case, has to be decided based on what the law is, not what the law might be. Pursuant to statute, the Legislature may “make a determination that the report of the Quality Education Commission should not be used as the basis for carrying out” the Legislature’s reporting requirements. In that case, however, the Legislature
must “identify the reasons for not using the report” and must “outline an alternative methodology” for making its findings, which must be based on “(A) research, data and public values; and (B) the performance of successful schools and/or professional judgment.” The Legislature has not done so. And at least with
respect to the 2005-07 biennium, it’s too late.

This one starts in Multnomah County Circuit Court. My guess is that it makes it all the way to the Oregon Supremes.

Its about damn time this happened. Its time for us to face reality as a state. We're not collecting enough taxes to cover the things mandated by the state constitution.

Since the Reagan Administration, Oregonians and Americans in general have been conditioned to believe that government can provide services without taxpayers footing the bill. I'm hopeful that this lawsuit will begin to disabuse Oregonians of this notion for good.