Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oregonians provide a lesson for South Dakota?

Jeff Mapes has a fascinating piece on the likely possibility of South Dakota's abortion ban being overturned. Mapes notes that the OCA's similar attempts to ban abortion in Oregon were trounced in 1990, even in hardcore conservative regions of Oregon.

In fact, the OCA's measure failed to win a single county.

I'm also interested in the fallout for conservative Republicans on this when it comes election time. Will this be something that South Dakota progressives can run on?

Sleight of hand

The Republicans have once again succeeded in choosing a divisive, ugly issue to hump during the election cycle. Last time it was gay marriage. This time it's immigration.

There are no doubt problems with immigration in this country. Lots of folks make it here illegally and stay. But the GOP both on the national and state level are using immigration to divide us once again. The Minutemen want to stand at post along the fenceline to shoot anything that moves. There's talk of building a big, Great Wall style edifice at our border with Mexico.

And if you don't buy into this mantra, you're an unpatriotic stooge who hates your country:

In regard to the clueless people, their liberal attitudes and their disrespect towards the Americans who adhere to our nation's laws, what part of illegal don't you understand?

America is a land of immigrants, legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants should be required to go through the normal processes to become a legal citizen. For illegal immigrants to want an exception to the rules and laws would be a slap in the face to those who followed the normal immigration procedures. I always welcome people who are willing to follow the laws of the society and not expect special treatment.

Who do you think took the supposedly "unwanted jobs" before the illegal immigrants were here? As with anyone in a job, "if you don't like it, don't let the door hit you in the back end on the way out!"

If in fact we are created equal, why do we have "affirmative action" that gives groups of people preference over others only because of who they are, and not what they know?

We have laws for the good of our society. How about, instead of trying to sidestep the laws and procedures, we just follow them for a peaceful, functional world.

-- Edward Stuckart, Stayton

My liberal attitude not withstanding, I'm curious as to why Mr. Stuckart doesn't address the people that hire illegal immigrants (and why laws against employing them aren't enforced) or why we have "affirmative action" in the first place. Why aren't folks like Stuckart demanding that laws against employment of illegals be enforced?

I find his conservative attitude not only dissrespectful and smacking of racism, but unjust and ugly in its tone.

And while we're on the topic of "clueless", exactly how are the laws felonizing illegal immigrants going to solve the problem? Is Mr. Stuckart planning to raise my taxes to allow law enforcement to pursue and incarcerate the 20 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States?

While Stuckart and the Republican Party beat the drum against illegals, the nation suffers from other problems with a much more pressing urgency.

But just like the gay marriage issue, those who seek to continually divide us and hide behind a veil of trumped up BS will work to draw attention away from the real issues at hand: massive corruption, out of control debt, a foreign policy that continues to erode our allies and a war that the vast majority of Americans disagree with and want out of.

But hey..why address the very real and serious problems when you can trump up something like immigration and pretend its what really matters? This sleight of hand worked last cycle. And Republicans are nothing if not consistent when it comes to using old tricks.

Grover Norquist: f-ing up a government near you

Grover Norquist has a major "thing" for Oregon. He seems to have his nose in all sorts of various and sundry Oregon initiatives and issues. For a guy who works (and presumably lives) on the other side of the country from here, funding rightwing measures in Oregon appears to be high on his priority list.

Norquist's Americans For Tax Reform is helping to bankroll a term limits initiative in Oregon. The initiative is being led by a a retired dentist who moved to Bend in 1992. ATR has contributed at least $40,000 to Initiative 39 for term limits according to the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.

ATR has given to another other rightwing initiative as well. The taxpayer spending trap (affectionally known as Taxpayer Bill Of Rights or TABOR) has taken $40k from Norquist's group.

Both can be verified by checking the Contribution and Expenditure reports at the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.

Initiative 39 is especially reliant on funds from Norquist and another group called US Term Limits out of Illinois. While the Bend dentist claims that the term limits bill enjoys great support in Oregon, the contribution reports demonstrate that very little of their cash is coming from Oregon.

Why is Norquist dumping so much cash into state initiatives that have nothing to do with him and that he doesn't have to live with if they're passed?

Gordon Smith Tells All: I Do Conservatives' Bidding

Well, Srinu Sonti over at the Senate Majority Project is taking it a little further than the context in which Gordy said it, but it's certainly true that in The O's Paen of Moderacy bestowed on Smith in Friday's editions, he did say if someone checks his votes, "I've done everything that conservatives want." He was speaking of trying to hold a middle position on immigration, keeping the left and middle happy while sweet talking Oregon's angry right.

Even if he didn't put it that way, the hard truth for Smith is that he doesn't have to admit it in a universal context for it to be true. Sonti serves up Congressional Quarterly's annual ratings, claiming "conservative" vote patterns in the high 80s-low 90s range of compliance since 2003. Toss in a couple of selected hard-right advocacy group scores showing nearly-pure fealty, and you've got your standard boilerplate political attack.

I say it's a hard truth, because the reality is that Smith is a moderate sort of guy, personally speaking. He's not a fire breather or an absolutist. I think he's mostly wrong for the state of Oregon, but he's not Rick Santorum--heck, he's not even John Warner, and I LIKE John Warner. So while it's sadly true that Smith usually lacks the will to go against the team, and is one of the more vanilla of Capitol Hill's 100 flavors, most voters understand in what ways Gordon Smith is a moderate. And so as a mid-term shot into the bunkers from an offshore armada, it's good politics. As 'news' and rhetoric that will stick, unlikely.

But I wanted to talk about how much more revealing Smith's statement is than mere votes on bills and amendments. Look at all the substantive things he says supporting his "see all sides" strategy on immigration, and of course if those are his views he really has nothing to offer the militant right. But he does indicate the one thing that may resonate even better than results: loyalty.

When Smith says he's done everything conservatives want, it's more of a complaint than a note of pride. I don't know whether there's pride in his fealty to Bill Frist, but frankly I suspect there isn't. Seomtimes Smith has taken an early, hesitant tack regarding a bill, only to find himself on the wrong side and having to switch his ballot to the party line come vote time. Or he simply hedges his bets until the leadership indicates which version to support. He danced for months on Bush's Social Security plan, not committing to anything while the court of common opinion ruled on it first. (One assumes he eventually came out against; it was probably best he make that 'tough' decision quietly, after the way Bush's plan flamed out).

So let me be the 414th political writer to tell you that for the current GOP leadership, from the top down, getting good results for the country ranks about fourth in importance--well behind loyalty, somewhat behind ideology, just behind personal or peer-group enrichment. In an atmosphere intentionally fraught with incited fear, and stereotypical 'others' manufactured on which to vent that fear, loyalty is indeed the best weapon. (Even if the fear and 'others' are real, loyalty is crucial--but the point here is that the public's political adrenal gland is being vastly overprimed by Republican leadership in order to manipulate opinion).

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. What I really wanted to get across, he said in another classic case of burying the lede, is the projection Republicans make onto their view of Democratic politics. I won't dignify it by providing a link to the GOP direct-mail strategy machine, but I'm on their list and I can tell you that an explicit campaign of the Republicans this fall will be that if you let Hillary, Reid, Pelosi and Dean take over Washington...fill in the apocalyptic blanks here. If you're Karl Rove, it's that impeachment and hearings will stifle government. If you're business it's that taxes will shoot through the roof. And if you're the religious right it's that they will allow 38 week abortion on demand by 9 year olds. It's an effective argument: demonize the leadership and then say, "Look where these fringe zealots want to take the country, by their sheer political will!"

But it's effective because it's being sold to people for whom loyalty is the key test. There is no cognitive dissonance involved at all, for conservatives to imagine the Democrats marching us towards a Cuba-style government in merciless lockstep. Why? Because if that's what the Republican leadership asked of them, they'd do it faster than you can say "I don't believe the Gospel of Judas."

I wish I could call it the dirty secret, but it's an entirely open one and I'm still a little disbelieving that the Republicans aren't aware of it: the Democratic leadership can't control shit. Sure, they've held the line on a couple things that were important, and they've done a lot of stuff temporarily that stalled the inevitable, but as a caucus they neither get nor expect full fealty to leadership. There is definitely some whipping of the fringe members, but not even when in the majority did the Democrats practice leadership tyranny from the Majority Leader's office.

But it goes deeper than that. The GOP machine throws all four Democratic guns together in their political view as if they work as a seamless team, attracting the same wide body of adherents. The reality is that if the Deaniacs and Hillarians had to work a ribbon cutting ceremony together, there'd be blows before the scissors sniffed the tape. The Reids aren't especially impressed with the Pelosis, and they're only keeping their mouth shut about the Deaniacs. It's that way with the Democrats, and always has been.

So to make a claim that reinstalling the Democrats will result in a dynastic reign of tyranny wherein the Liberal Machine will roll across the midwestern landscape, replacing Dairy Queens with Starbucks and McD's with Chipotles, assumes that the rest of the Democratic Party pledges to follow those four in lockstep towards their goal of world domination. And let me be the first to say, HA! to that. I just laugh when I see the ads; all I can think is, "Fear the intractable political control in the unyielding iron hands of...Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean..." and that's when I start to laugh.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When Ron Saxton runs hard to the middle..the wingers can vote Starrett

Oh my...this could put a hitch in Saxton's giddy-yup:

Former TV host runs for governor

Mary Starrett, who hosted a popular morning talk show on Portland television for more than a decade, is planning to run for governor under the banner of the staunchly conservative Constitution Party.

Starrett, 51, told The Oregonian Tuesday that she will seek the party's nomination when it holds a convention in Lake Oswego on Saturday. Bob Ekstrom, the party chairman, for weeks has hinted that his party will have a stronger-than-usual candidate, but he's refused to say who it is.

If Starrett does indeed receive the nomination, she will become the only firmly anti-abortion candidate in the race. She expressed no concern when asked if her presence in the race would pull votes from Republican Ron Saxton and help re-elect Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski.

"Your point being that there is a difference between Ted and Ron - and there isn't," she said. "If the Republicans were doing their job, I wouldn't be doing this."

Damn! Christmas in May.

No difference between Ted and Ron...right. I'm not a huge Ted fan. But no difference at all? Please, Mary. At least don't insult your potential constituency.

I do love the idea of Saxton having to debate her. So much for getting to make a hard run to the middle.


Amy of the Oregon GOP tells us that evangelicals heart corruption

A little blurb over the AP wires just caught my eye. The piece is a writeup on Howard Dean's pending appearance at the State Democratic Convention to be held this weekend in Eugene.

The article is mostly about Dean's work getting Democrats to appeal to Christian evangelicals.

In an apparent effort to provide balance to the piece, the AP writer includes a quote from the executive director of the Oregon Republican Party, Amy Langdon:

"I think they'll be hard-pressed to make the case to the faith community that somehow the Democratic Party serves their interests," she said.

I had no idea that going to war on false pretenses, having hundreds of dead Americans and Iraqis and those from other nations, jacked up deficit and national debt and irresponsible tax cuts and corruption were in the "best interest" of evangelicals. I'm so glad Amy set me straight.

Since evangelicals are clearly in favor of these immoral, disgusting activities (And the first person that says "both parties are are guilty of it" gets a smack. Not true) according to Amy Langdon, there's no sense in Democrats going after that vote.

How good of Amy to tar Christians in such a flattering light.

Highlighting Portland's Non-Uniquely Bad Biz Sense

In the primary season, and in general from some quarters, a major knock on Portland's Council is that it simply doesn't handle business well. It's being taken for a ride by Homer Williams and OHSU, goes the narrative. They knew they couldn't build a tram for $15 million, but they believed it hard enough to say yes. At least, that's the theory. Some would say it's more a case of being on the take, but from places like Jack Bog the word I hear most often is "incompetent."

No excuses--there are definitely favored developers and causes, and no small amount of failed oversight on projects gone over budget--but much of the issue lies with PDC's profligacy, and there are certainly model projects well conceived and realized under budget (cf Yellow Line). And then there's always the issue of perspective: how much error do we allow ourselves in the normal course of society? It's fashionable to speak of government in the third person, as if it were a disconnected cadre of alien robots. But it's us, everyone, or at least made of us, better and worse alike. Can we legitimately fill each office with rational, parsimonious legislators immune to temptation, or are hiccups caused by simple human frailty inevitable?

It's in that vein that two stories struck me from the Tigard/Tualatin/Lake Oswego corner of ClackaWashingmas County. In Lake Oswego, the city council discovered the downside to spending money they might not have, being told last week that $20 million already appropriated in development funds were needed instead to pay for the ultimate civic mundanity, sewage. I wish I could give you the link to this story in Thursday's LO Review, but perhaps for holiday reasons the online version is not updated. I can however link you to last week's story, which explains what went wrong--and it sounds amazingly like a tram story:
Engineers told the city of Lake Oswego Monday that replacing their sewer interceptor, a 20,000-foot pipe that carries sewage through Oswego Lake, will cost $65 million if funded according to its current design.

Likely, the project is five or six years away and its costs will steadily increase with inflation and rising steel costs.

The price tag was a shock for city officials, who asked engineers to explore two other potential designs in hopes of curbing the price.

Though the cost of the replacing the interceptor has previously been estimated at about $25 million, engineers say geophysical data shows the figure will be much higher because sediment and algae have turned the bottom of the Oswego Lake to “fluffy muck.”
Steep anchor point and no-vibration specifications? Meet "fluffy muck." Could someone with a bit of historical understanding of the lake probably told them the likely composition of the bottom? Probably. And furthermore, has the City known about the problems and need for repairs/replacement of their sewage line through the lake since the 90s? Of course. In fact, isn't the health of the lake a well known, ongoing problem (although one mostly underwritten by the private ownership of the lake)? Indeed. So why was the City putting its money and bond rating on the line with vanity projects like the Safeco HQ purchase? And doesn't the pattern sound familiar to a certain "socialist" city just northward? If there's one thing Lake Oswego is NOT, it's socialist. In 1998 in fact, voters opted to curtail urban renewal funding and reject new indebtedness for development.

Just across the county line in Tualatin is the newest metro area mall, Bridgeport Village. I have some grumbles with it, but even as someone generally predisposed against malls, I have to admit it's got some great stores and aesthetically is really quite pretty. And the parking lots and garage are perpetually full, so near as I can tell it's been a grand success. Tualatin--and by extension Washington County, which sold the land to developer Opus for the purpose of building the mall--was thrilled to offer up the former quarry and pet food factory site for avant retail. Of course, they also thought the county should make a bundle on this potential retail windfall as well. So they rejected a flat price of $18 million, for a revenue-sharing type of contract that the county believed would net them anywhere from $50 to $150 million. Nice deal! You've got to support letting the county be a player and getting fair value for relinquishing land over to private development, right?

Well, things didn't turn out so well. Surrounding infrastructure costs ended up higher, and the discovery of methane underground also pushed the final price tag above the trigger threshhold, meaning that the hoped-for big payoff for big profits turned into no payoff for merely 'good' profits. After turning down $18 million, how much did they get from their negotiated deal? $12.5 million. One wonders whether the county used Master P for their negotiations, trusting that ridiculously high incentive clauses would be easy to meet and then they'd all be players, drowning in Beaverton bling.

True, in Tualatin's case the money wasn't lost, it simply wasn't earned. But don't tell me that county commissioners hadn't already written up lists to spend that money when the deal was struck. The final settlement price will cause some of those wishes to have the rug pulled from under them, no doubt. And in the end, the problem is the same as Lake Oswego's, and the same as Portland's: public-private partnerships can be good deals for cities, but if they are negotiated on faith and monitored like a sleeping night watchman, they can be major, embarrassing headaches. It's not necessarily about socialist do-gooders blithely ignoring good business sense--sometimes, it's just people messing up or not being savvy enough to find success. For one thing, the private guys are so much better at guaranteeing their end:
County Commissioner Andy Duyck, whose district the fairgrounds land lies in, said he learned his lesson and the outcome of the Bridgeport Village deal will affect how he approaches a deal with Opus in the future.

“I would be very reluctant to enter into any complicated deal like (Bridgeport),” Duyck said. “It would have to be straight-forward. They do this for a business. They could run circles around us.”
In looking at future deals the county may strike with the developer, [county chair Tom] Brian added, however, that he would be more cautious.

“We did learn,” Brian said. “They’re darn good business people.”

Monday, May 29, 2006

David Reinhard: looking for a perp walk

For someone who declares himself a conservative that believes in small government which stays out of the lives of people--David Reinhard sure makes excuses for the FBI's efforts to obtain a random nark in Portland city government.

Reinhard plays the baffled fool brilliantly:

In asking a City Hall employee if she would pass along information about public corruption "relating to people who work for city government" after he showed her his badge and gave her his card, the agent was engaged in basic policing -- basic community policing, even. You would think a mayor who was once a police chief and remains a champion of community policing would recognize this.

Unless, of course, Potter and the city have something to hide?

After all, this is what FBI agents and presumably Portland Police officers do all the time. They head out into the community and meet people -- in banks and private businesses, in government agencies and nonprofits, in one walk of life after another. They let people know what their areas of jurisdiction are and what kinds of crimes they investigate. They tell people to give them a call if they become aware of any suspicious activity that might be worth investigating. They open up channels of communication with potential sources of information and cultivate informants. They put a human face on investigative agencies and make it easier for people to report wrong-doing, since they're not calling a number in a phone book and giving sensitive information to someone they don't know.

So according to Reinhard, the Portland Police Department is eating up man hours driving into the community and asking citizens to just randomly keep an eye on things, with absolutely no probable cause whatsoever.

Not likely.

If the FBI were caught going after the local chapter of the National Rifle Association with absolutely no probable cause, Reinhard would be outraged.

What Reinhard (and many other conservatives, from what I've read) don't get is that this expansion of Executive powers in DC along with the FBI's efforts to go after entities without probable cause can cut both ways. Once there's a Democrat in the Oval Office, they'll have a set of extremely broad powers left over from the current resident. Only then, it won't be quite as politically favorable to the likes of Mr. Reinhard. But it will be too late. The ability for that Democratic President to use the office to go after innocent Americans will be established.

And if they follow the Bush Administration pattern--it will be political enemies who get the focus.

And while Reinhard can't reasonably count himself as an influential voice in the rightwing political scene, he is nevertheless a voice. And that could make him a potential target for an FBI perp walk.

Wrong is wrong, Mr. Reinhard. No matter who is doing it. The FBI and the President are wrong on this. At least try to muster some courage of conviction here and finally shun your personal myopia.

Or at the very least have the courtesy not to paint a target on others that you don't want painted on yourself.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale....

The good folks at Oregon Voter Rights Coalition are announcing the kickoff of Greg Palast's book tour in Portland. Palast will be speaking on election problems in the US in the lead up to 2008 among other things.

Greg Palast is the creme de la creme of progressive investigative reporting. His work on the 2000 and 2004 elections is top notch.

Preorders for his book Armed Madhouse are available here.

Palast's event is sponsored by The Portland Alliance,Oregon Voter Rights Coalition and KBOO.

The specs:

Greg Palast Book Tour Kickoff
Monday June 5, 2006
First Unitarian Church
1011 SW 12th Ave @ Salmon
Portland, OR


(via Ginny at Blog For Oregon)

Spanning the State--Who'll Stop The Rain, Edition

Yes, its Oregon. Yes its Spring. But damn! Ever since I touched down last Sunday from my vacation, its been raining. So with an homage to CCR, lets span the State!


Baker City is attempting a foray into hydroelectric power. Initial studies indicate a green light for the project but US Fish and Wildlife Service may put the brakes on: endangered Bull Trout may keep the licensing process tied up.

There's a new organization in the Bend area that seeks to promote sound land use planning and liveability. Central Oregon Landwatch is a watchdog group that plans to keep a close eye on local development projects in Bend. The goal is to insert more of a community presence in the land use planning process.

If you're hanging out in Lane County, you might want to think about investing in LoJack. The county's car theft rate is far outpacing the state average.

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot destroyed the last of the nation's MK94 bombs containing GB sarin agent on May 18.

Being a dickhead bigot doesn't win you points in Yamhill County court. Hint: Don't refer to your arresting officer as a "nigger" and tell him "I'm no closer to being drunk than you are to being white,". Bad, bad plan.

Biologists and criminalists in Ashland are working together to develop crime scene investigation techniques that work under water. The work is being done in order to report and preserve findings from events such as oil spills, dam bursts or other man-made events that damage coral reefs and other sensitive underwater wildlife areas.

Students at Oregon State have prepared their agenda and are planning to lobby the Oregon Legislature during the next legislative session. They plan to bend ears in Salem on funding/tuition, need based aid and tuition equality.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I decided to drag my work weary carcass out of bed this morning and head into Beaverton for the Beaverton Farmer's Market over in downtown Beaverton.

The market in Portland's Park Blocks is really good but generally overwhelmingly crowded. Its also really miserable down there when it rains. So Beaverton seemed like a good choice.

I figured the crowds would be lighter with the constant downpour. Given that its Memorial Weekend they probably were. But nevertheless the market was bustling.

Its still a little early in the growing season but there appeared to be a wide variety of produce available. My own garden is providing heaping amounts of lettuce in a multitude of varieties which easily matches what's at the farmer's markets. But they had some fantastic fresh asparagus...the really skinny kind that cooks up so tender and tasty. They also had some of the most expensive tomatoes I've ever seen.

The real draw for me are the plants. I'm a total plant nerd. I've been on the lookout for some interesting and colorful shade plants for my yard. Today was a jackpot of good plants at very good prices. I even scored some end of the season dahlia tubers which will (weather permitting) make their way into one of the choice sunny spots remaining in the bed next to my house.

After getting rainsoaked in Beaverton I figured I may as well finish the job out in Hillsboro at their much smaller, better priced market. I scored a really beautiful hosta for $6 (probably could have got a smaller plant--just as beautiful--for $3.50 at a booth around the corner). They also had a vendor selling amazing looking finished wood doo-dads. It was worth showing up just to chat with that guy. Truely interesting and genial fellow.

I try to get out to the farmer's market on the weekends to buy the week's produce that I don't grow myself and its really a rewarding way to shop. I get to be among a lot of interesting people and pick up very fresh fruits, veggies, meats and breads.

In fact my area of focus at the markets in the coming weeks are strawberries. Its almost time to start making jam.

Bet you never thought of me as the domestic type, eh?

Get off your ass!

Man oh man I am sick to DEATH of people whining about the choices we have for candidates. It seems like every single cycle there are a group of individuals who sit and spin on their thumbs, opining what they see as a lack of quality people running for office. Its tedious as hell.

A prime example of this unflattering blather appeared in the Letters To The Editor of the Oregon paper of record:

Give voters more choices

If it is true that 62 percent of registered voters in Oregon did not vote in the May 16 primary election, what does this say about voter apathy? Are voters apathetic or simply bored with the choices? Good question.

As a registered Democrat who prefers to vote independent, I believe the problem is one of choice. Two party candidates, only Democrat or only Republican, and possibly an independent, are the only choices. And [in a primary, they are] choices only for those with a party affiliation; independents have no vote.

Whatever happened to the concept of voting for the best person? We could vote for the best person if there were a universal voter ballot. On this ballot would be listed everyone running for office, no matter their party affiliations. Voters, when registering to vote, need only prove their age and citizenship to vote, and not declare a party.

On the universal voter ballot, we could vote for whomever we preferred. The two with the highest amount of votes in the primaries would have a runoff in the final election.

People don't vote because they don't like the choices, even in their own party. Let's give voters all the choices they want and let the best person win.

DAVID EASTMAN Northeast Portland

Jaysus. My kids didn't whine this much when they were toddlers.

If you don't like the choices out there..get off your ass and run for office. Quit pissing and moaning about how the choices are so terrible and actually DO something about it.

Either that or SHUT THE F UP. Its completely tedious to consistently read or hear this BS from people who don't actually do anything about it.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Joe Keating hearts PGE going to public power

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Jeff Keating wants to see PGE become a public power utility.

Now THAT'S progressive.

PGE: still screwing us every day

Over at Steve Duin's blog there's a nasty laundry list of problems with Portland General Electric:

-- Even as the utility asks the Oregon PUC to approve an 8.9 percent rate increase, The Oregonian's Gail Kinsey Hill reports that the annual base salary of CEO Peggy Fowler just jumped from $384,000 to $610,000. When PGE -- er, Enron, which still owns more than 50 percent of the utility's stock -- throws in bonuses and incentives, Fowler's total compensation may exceed $1.5 million.

-- PGE's coal-burning plant at Boardman is polluting a dozen parks and wilderness areas, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and PGE has no plans to upgrade the plant, and deal with the problem, for the next five years.

--All the while, PGE and PacifiCorp continue to spend hundreds of thousands of lobbying dollars in an ongoing attempt to scuttle or eviscerate Senate Bill 408, which requires that when the utility bills customers for state and federal taxes, it actually forwards those sums to the proper taxing authorities.

Its time to revisit the idea of public power. Other regions do it very successfully.

What are people so afraid of when it comes to public power? It can't be a helluva lot worse than what we're getting now.

Early Deadline Day for State Petitions

The Elections Office has a customer-friendly feature for those submitting petitions in an attempt to get their idea onto the ballot: early review partway through the signature gathering season, to give petitioners who think they have enough qualifiers to submit them and see if they need more. All campaigns seeking a November ballot line must meet the required number of signatures by July 7th, but if you make your threshhold by close of business on May 26, they'll count them for you before the deadline.

So far (there's about 4 hours left for new submissions), four petitioners have submitted the required number of prospective signatures for certification. They are:

  • #14, "Guarantees Same Deductions As On Federal Return," has not the catchiest title yet, but it's got catchy money behind it--Loren Parks, who is bankrolling notorious petitioners Abner and Carol Bobo. They need about 75,000; they've gavin the SoS 86,000 to count.

  • Another winningly titled effort from the Bobos (along with Russ Walker)--#24 "Districting of Judges"--needs 100,000 and purports to have 110,000.

  • I've been ragging on the petitioner-submitted titles so far, because the next group to submit today call theirs the Government Can't Steal My Property And Give It To A Developer Act (#57). It's essentially a Kelo fallout case like the many that are being propagated across the country in the wake of the Kelo v New London Supreme Court decision: with passage, government could not convey land seized by eminent domain to private interests. If you're looking for the first lock to be on the ballot, this one is it: supporters have turned in over 116,000 signatures, needing only 75,000.

  • Last to submit so far is #102, which seeks to force corporations to disclose their tax liability and asset information, in order to make sure they are paying required state taxes.

Quite often the petitioners don't get the certifications they're looking for from the verification sample, and have to go back out onto the streets (although I'd be shocked if the eminent domain measure didn't certify now). But given the number they've collected so far, by the final deadline you can guess that most if not all will eventually qualify.

Fritz Back Doing What She Does Best

Amanda Fritz's political career in Portland does not appear over, either by defeat or lack of will to try again. But while she waits for a chance to pounce on an open seat, it's back to doing what has been her bread and butter for over a decade: pestering government to give more account to citizen input.

As Mercury Blogtown tells it (and curse them for cheating and using paid reporters to offer lightning quick updates and ongoing journalism between issues), Fritz "totally schooled" City Council, and from her testimony and the results it looks like they're right.

Quick background: The "Adjustment Committee" is a citizen-composed appeals board for exemptions in the zoning code granted by the City. The Bureaus of Planning and Development Services naturally are heavily involved with zoning decisions, so when they came to Mayor Potter and claimed that the committee was stymied due to unfilled vacancies among the citizen volunteers, he put an item on the agenda to suspend its operations and give appeals authority to the City hearings officer.

Who should be monitoring the City Council agenda but citizen's champion Fritz? She immediately pounced on the structural flaw in the resolution, when speaking Wednesday morning:
If you want to change the rules in the zoning code, you must change the rules, not ignore them. You are not allowed to amend them by administrative action. State law requires that changes to the zoning code must be reviewed by the Planning Commission and adopted by the Council. A vote to suspend the Adjustment Committee would be out of compliance with state law. The Zoning code [section 33.710.070] assigns review of adjustment requests to the Adjustment Committee. [Section 33.710.080 defines the role of the Hearings Officer.] It states the Hearings Officer acts to decide matters assigned by the zoning code. Adjustment requests are not one of the land use reviews assigned to the Hearings Officer in the code.
That may have been enough to cause Commissioners to actually take two seconds and reflect on the matter, but the right hook that always follows the left jab was quick in coming:
The proposal states the reason for suspending the Adjustment Committee is that you don't have enough volunteers for members. No request for volunteers was publicized prior to bringing this action today to suspend the committee. I heard about the proposal last Thursday. Since then, I have recruited a list of 12 volunteers in addition to myself, for the four vacancies on the committee. They include 7 nominees for the 2 at-large positions, 1 for the urban design professional category vacancy, and 3 for the construction/finance professional category vacancy, plus one person willing to serve if the meeting times fit around a regular work schedule. The volunteers come from all five sections of the city, from Lents to St. Johns, and all seven neighborhood districts and coalitions.
At this point, according to the Merc there was awkward embarrassment, particularly among the Bureau representatives who had cried vacancy. Saltzman opted to "study" the issue for a month or two, but Potter (to his credit) realized he'd been had, and pulled the ordinance. I'm reminded of the Billy Joel lyric back when Billy Joel was an impressive songwriter: "She's so good with her stilletto/you don't really mind the pain." Fritz was pretty stoked as she wrote supporters:
Thanks to the 12 good neighbors who volunteered to join me in offering their time and talents to serve on the Adjustment Committee, this morning Mayor Potter pulled the ordinance to suspend it from consideration...I doubt anyone, even I, woke up last Friday thinking, "gosh, if only I could be on the Adjustment Committee, my life would be complete". Yet 13 of us heard the need, and stepped up.
I don't think there's any doubt that Fritz relished the opportunity to show the Council--and voters--that she was worthy of the chair Saltzman kept from her last week. Her position as neighborhood catalyst has apparently put a ready militia at her side whenver she needs it, however, and when Frtiz flexes those citizen advocate muscles it's a pretty impressive sight.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Slaying dragons. One radio wave at a time.

Chuck Currie rocks.

If I ever decide to go back to my Christian roots, I'm going down the Currie road for sure.

Oregon Conservatives: murderers have to make a living too!

A footnote in the May 10 online issue of Willamette Week originally slid under my radar but came back like a boomerang while I was doing some research yesterday on Measure #6, the TABOR Spending Trap.

As a reminder, the TABOR bill would link state spending to inflation rates and population growth while ignoring things such as demographics. A similar law in Colorado was recently handed a bipartisan five year suspension by the voters due to its devastating effect on the Colorado State budget.

Measure #6 is sponsored in Oregon by Don McIntire and Jason Williams of Taxpayer Association of Oregon--the duo notorious for foisting a laundry list of frivilous, antigovernment initiatives on the Oregon ballot. According to Our Oregon, 100% of the funding for this measure comes from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and Americans for Limited Government. In other words, it has no Oregon support.

Now to the point: McIntire and Williams have hired Good Impressions printing, presumably to print their campaign literature. Good Impressions made headlines in the late 90s when a US District Court in Portland returned a multi-million dollar verdict against its general manager, Andrew Burnett. If you haven't clicked on the website's link I provided above, do it now. Burnett's photo and "general manager" title are in the upper right hand corner of the site's main page.

For those with short memory spans, Burnett's court troubles stemmed from his association with the domestic terrorists of the Nuremburg Files website, who published the names and addresses of doctors who perform abortion services. Four men were murdered and one woman was injured based on information gleaned from the Nuremburg Files.

Ironically, one of Burnett's cohorts, Paul deParrie--died last week of a heart attack. ZEO12 at NW Republican blog eulogized deParrie as "an uncompromising, passionate Christian warrior who combined a powerful faith with a keen intellect and an activist’s heart."

Odd how deParrie's calls for murdering his fellow man are expunged from ZEO12's piece.

As for Burnett--two other ballot measure organizations are using his services too: Measure #14's tax code change (of course sponsored by Loren Parks) and anti-emminent domain Measure #47 (sponsored by Oregonians In Action, natch).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jack Bog's Kryptonite: Context, Delivered Relentlessly

Regular readers of LO know our high distaste for the unyielding dirge of disaster that is Jack Bog's Blog, both in substance and outlook. You just knew that after an election in which the things he wanted were fairly resoundingly rejected by a majority of Portlanders, Jack was going to be cranky. I don't want to spread too much of the bad vibe, but here's today's heaping helping of knee-jerk snark:
I can't believe that the majority of Portlanders want to continue down this path. But let's face it. More than half the people who mailed in their ballots (and their spouses' and significant others' and dead relatives' ballots) want the current juggernaut to continue. My best guess is that the vast majority of Portlanders don't understand, or don't care. And so hey, we soldier on. Read up on municipal bankruptcy, stock up on canned tuna, get a referral on handgun training from Ginny Burdick, stay friendly with your realtor pal, and watch the wheels of incompetent socialism roll on.
I don't think "soldiering on" involves whining like a young girl whose birthday party wasn't as good as Janey's, who got a pony for hers last month...but I've never served.

You want to talk about soldiering on, try being a beacon of reality amongst those grumbling masses. I'm a three-time loser when it comes to commenting at Bog's place; my ability to stay bland and nonbuzzkilling only lasts for a few comments before I'm booted. So here's a heroic effort from someone known only as "Richard," who puts it all into perspective:
I'm a long-time Portland resident. I know the city well, and I'm very fond of it. I think it has improved in many ways over the past 40 years: better mass transit, richer cultural life, more vital downtown, increasingly vital neigbborhoods, greater entrepreneurial spirit, larger proportion of people who really want to be living here rather than just happen to be living here.

More specifically, I think that many of the things that Jack and most of his commentators rail against are on balance positive for the city: the development of South Waterfront; the expansion of light rail; the Pearl district; condominiums (many of which are quite handsome and few of which replace good historic structures) that increase density and bring with them the cultural and economic benefits of more people living within the city.

The "Golden Age" of Portland that existed some 20, 30 or 40 years ago is a lie or a nostalgic dream. Maybe what the anti-change, anti-Californian, anti-Sten, anti-Homer, anti-planning crowd really misses is their own youth, or the feeling that Portland was somehow "my town" before it caught on with other people across the country.

Like all big cities, Portland faces big challenges and has to deal with a wide variety of problems. But all in all, it's a pretty great place. I hope that those who support the main theme of this blog--"Portland is going to hell because its leaders are corrupt and incompetent"--will at least pause and consider the possibility that there might be some informed and intelligent people within this city who actually approve of its general direction; those who disagree with the Bojack and Lars Larson line aren't necessarily ignoramuses or dupes.

And by the way, I'd like to express my appreciation for TK and Libertas, who so tirelessly offer intelligent comments that challenge the prevailing opinions on this blog.

(And no, I do not work for the city.)
Stay weird, Richard!

Loaded O Joins the PNW Portal

Carla and I are both veterans of the Pacific Northwest Portal, a really great aggregator of leftist blogs from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and now also Montana and Alaska. Preemptive Karma is one of the founding members I believe, and Also Also, the blog I did with a friend from Cali, was right behind them. So we're big supporters.

Here's the deal: for some of the top blogs in the region, you can browse the front page of the Portal and see what's new at each of them, opting to click on those that interest you. It works a little like LeftyBlogs over on our right sidebar--------------------------------------------------------------------------->,
but arranged by blog and THEN chronologically, rather than just "newest on top," whoever's most recently added something. That lets you review several of your favorite blogs at once, seeing who's updated and who hasn't, saving yourself the trouble of clicking over there. And at the same time, you won't miss topics of interest just because they've scrolled off the screen in a couple of hours. Beyond the syndicated top blogs, there are literally hundreds of others linked from inside pages of the Portal.

Starting today, Loaded Orygun will be taking Also Also's place on the front page, right underneath Blue Oregon in the middle (OR) column. We're #2! We're #2! We're proud to be syndicated, and we're excited by all the updates and revisions the NWP team has done, resulting in the launch of Seaside 4.0. If you haven't been by in a while, check out all the new bells and whistles. If you haven't been at all, take a look. You may just decide to make it your morning start page, keeping you totally up to date on what's hot in the Northwest blogosphere. And when breaking regional news hits, you can catch all the coverage from one spot. Viva la Portal!

Potter: FBI Tried to Infiltrate City Hall--w/ FBI Response

This just came over the wires. A little cloak and dagger with your latte'?
On Thursday, May 11, 2006, a Special Agent of the Portland Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation stopped a City employee and showed her a badge and ID. He asked if she knew any City Council members. He asked if she would be willing to pass information to him relating to people who work for the City of Portland . He said that while he had duties in other areas, the agency was always interested in information relating to white collar crime and other things.


The only conclusion I can draw is that the agent in question was trying to place an informant inside the offices of Portland ’s elected officials and employees, in order to inform on City Council and others.

The actions of the FBI – even if they are the actions of one agent acting on his own - come at an uneasy time for many Americans. In the past few weeks, we have learned that our phone records are not private, and conversations are monitored without warrants. Journalists exposing these actions have been threatened with prosecution.

Even if this incident is nothing more than the work of one overzealous agent, it represents an unacceptable mindset within the agency. When there is no information to indicate ANY public corruption on the part of City Council members or employees, the FBI has no legitimate role in surreptitiously monitoring elected officials and city employees.
When will the FBI learn? Don't. Fuck. With. Portland.

Update, 1130AM--
From KATU, the FBI has released their response, which reads essentially as "Simmer down, Tom. Trust us!" The most interesting line may be "Many of our investigations start with a tip from someone who encounters corruption in the course of their work," since that's obviously not how THIS 'investigation' started; this one started with an agent trying to find someone to monitor City Hall and snitch if they saw anything. That's the difference the response is trying to mask: if, as the FBI claims, there is no suspicion of wrongdoing in Portland goverment, what are they doing snooping around? The last letter is 'I' for a reason; it's not E for Eavesdropping, or M for Monitoring.

Tom Potter is right--this is tantamount to suspicionless search, a practice the Bush administration thinks it has the right to pursue, statutes and founders be damned.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Saxton: Fire All Public Employees; Deport All "Illegals"

Over at Blue Oregon, Kari has pointed out the obvious: having lurched to the right during the GOP primary in order to subsume his Portland non-wingnut roots (which in turn had buried his Albany favored son upbringing), would Ron Saxton be able to move back to the center yet again for the general?

Some folks seem to think it's a lock, since his views are so mainstream and popular in today's climate. I find that awfully curious, since as we all know, Ron Saxton has said the best way to save PERS is to fire every public employee and then re-hire them under new rules. He's also said he'd like to have every undocumented worker (of course he doesn't use that term) criminalized and deported. And then there's the whole tax cut and reduce spending thing, but that's garden variety conservatism.

But fire every government worker in the state and deport all the undocumenteds? That's pretty out there, even for conservatives. Beside the point that the governor's ability to do the first is limited, and the latter is flatly impossible--not to mention totally out of his jurisdiction--they're just not mainstream positions, not even close.

I assumed these positions were known, certainly by Saxton's backers. Maybe not...I was asked,

When and where did Saxton ever say those things?

It took all of about 3 minutes to reply:

Brainstorm NW, last year?
In the May 2005 issue of BrainstormNW, Saxton wrote about PERS reform: “Thus, the radical idea is to ‘reconstitute’ the system by terminating public employees, and later rehiring them under new contracts with different terms.”

or how about the Albany Dem-Herald, earlier this year?

Ron Saxton, a Republican running for governor, has brought up illegal immigration as a campaign issue.

He says he would have “zero tolerance” for illegal aliens, oppose any amnesty for them and push for their deportation.

Now I'm not normally in the habit of reprinting my comments from other websites, particularly ones like Blue Oregon where there's a lot of reader overlap. But I was a little surprised that someone supporting Saxton had to ask where I had ever heard such a thing. And we're talking about people who frequent the Internets and by nature of their visit to places like Blue Oregon, are more plugged into politics than others. So as a public service, let's get it straight right away:

Ron Saxton's idea was to fire all the public employees in the state, in order to change the rules on them.

Ron Saxton's idea was (somehow) to deport all the undocumented workers. Afterplan? No.

We clear? Are those good ideas for Oregon in your view?

Wyden votes against Hayden

The white knight Senator from Oregon just keeps on keeping on even if its an exercise in futility. Today he was one of only 3 senators to vote against General Michael Hayden's nomination to move out of the Senate Intelligence Committee for consideration before the full Senate:


Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon told reporters he voted against Hayden because he ``could not resolve what the general said with what was later brought out in the USA Today article.'' Wyden cited a speech Hayden made earlier this year in which he discussed the monitoring of international calls but made no mention of the collection of domestic phone records that the newspaper disclosed.

The general consensus is that Hayden will sail through the Senate.

Another Bush nominee gets through with practically no legislative oversight to further erode our Constitutional rights and f-up our government.


The Trib, Still Trying to Convince Us VOE is DOA

[this is Torrid's take on the Tribune story. Want Carla's? Go here...]

Despite their endorsed candidate's failure to spearhead a repeal vote for clean candidate elections (or VOE) in Portland, and her even bigger failure in challenging incumbent Erik Sten primarily on the basis of his authorship of the VOE ordinance, the Portland Tribune is ready to move forward...with a vote to kill it ASAP. You'd think given the 23-point beatdown on VOE foe Ginny Burdick by the supposedly crippled Sten, if the Trib wanted to do a VOE post-mortem, their headline might have been "VOE wins out, for now?" Instead, they opted for the laughably less straightforward "Is Clean Money a Washout?"

There's no doubt that questions still remain about the VOE process, and among certain sectors there is a strong desire to see the ordinance (un)ratified by public vote as soon as possible. But that's a long way from the twin assumptions that there is a groundswell against VOE, and that the election only intensified the public's angst about it.

That doesn't stop the Trib, however--their handy stand-in for the editorial board is PSU Professor and elections critic Melody Rose, who says her biggest concern is
how its supporters have marginalized critics, suggesting that if someone doesn’t favor the city’s taxpayer-funded “clean money” system, they must favor “dirty money.” “There can be legitimate disagreement among progressives about this measure,” Rose says, “and there is legitimate disagreement.”
If you can find an example of that sentiment among supporters, please let me know. Otherwise, I think having the candidate with the biggest anti-VOE banner pull 27% in an election is pretty marginalizing all by itself.

Who is Melody Rose, by the way? Budnick makes a concerted effort, twice, to point her out as a "progressive" who nonetheless opposes VOE. There's some speculation that the Portland Business Alliance (also featured as prominent critics in the article by writer Nick Budnick) served her up as a "woman on the street" progressive, rather than the topic expert on political parties and elections that she is. I can't confirm how she came to Budnick, but Rose has a history of naysaying progressive electoral policy in Oregon; her editorial for The O in 2002 railed against the newly-hatched vote by mail system, calling it "a gimmicky, pale imitation of genuine voting reform," and that it "adds significant risk to electoral integrity."

That piece is reprinted on a website run by the Equal Justice Foundation, the Colorado affiliate of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, based in Colorado Springs right next to James Dobson's Focus on the Family. Not to tar Rose directly, but the ACFC is part of a movement that wants to use "father's rights" as a front for their "gays can't be good parents" homophobia. Don't believe me? President Stephen Baskerville is on record believing that
Granting gay couples the "right" to have children by definition means giving them the right to have someone else's children, and the question arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with them.
Chairman David A. Roberts takes aim not at gays but feminists [scroll down--ed], who from my reading of his views are pretty much just gay men with vaginas. Roberts is also a co-signor of a petition to make "misandry" and the "vilification of the male half of the species" as a hate crime. Does Rose know where she's been published, and who's doing the publishing? Maybe not, but in that case she's become an unwitting tool for others to advance their marginalized agenda--and I think that's what's happened in the Trib article as well.

But let's move on to the various biases and distortions that allow Budnick to present VOE as crippled by scandal, easy bait for those who seek to take it down:

  • Budnick says "Citing the ongoing criminal investigation of failed City Council candidate Emilie Boyles...there appears to be increasing momentum for moving up the date of a public vote on the system, now scheduled for 2010." Who is supplying that momentum in the article? The President of the PBA, and...Erik Sten? As we probably reported first in our interview with Sten, he is indeed open to an earlier vote than 2010--but that's hardly increased momentum. (Budnick even admits at the end of the piece that Council has been "noncommittal" to PBA's request).

  • Budnick uses Emilie Boyles' disastrous campaign as an example of the problems of VOE, which is half true; her method of gathering signatures did appear to exploit loopholes in the system. But Budnick attempts to make her post-qualification activities part of the problem as well. He indicates that her spending practices triggered an investigation by the state AG, when only her signature gathering activities are part of the probe; and he notes that "Boyles also spent the money in questionable ways, including paying her 16-year-old daughter $12,500," without explaining that paying family for campaign work is fully legal--as long as they're paid market rate for a bonafide service.

  • What would a Trib story about the election be without a nod to either Dave Lister or Jack Bogdanski? It's Dave's turn this time:
    Boyles’ campaign style underlined this concern for people like candidate Dave Lister, who said his opposition to the ordinance was heightened after seeing Boyles in a City Club debate [where] her erratic speaking style had audience members laughing at her.
    OK, she has a terrible public persona, I agree. But what does that have to do with the stated point of disagreement--that VOE funds candidates you might disagree with, using your tax money? Lister (and Budnick) appear to be suggesting that tax money shouldn't go to stupid or crazy people. If that's the case, thank heavens for VOE--as Boyles' media viability only went into the toilet after her violations of the ordinance became known. If she was taking private money, would we ever have found out she was spending campaign cash on her home phone and a sprawling HQ she planned to use after the election?

  • Budnick re-raises Burdick's late-game canard about VOE being "incumbent protection," on the grounds that it was impossible for her to bury Sten with a huge campaign war chest. Which is rather the point, I thought--that wealthy candidates or those with access to large sums could not buy their way to an election. In fact, the Trib tries to make it seem like the other way around, with their continuation headline "Money: Incumbents keep their positions." The article gives us Burdick's view, 2002 failed Sten challenger (notice a pattern?) Liz Callison's corroboration, and then essentially uses Amanda Fritz against herself, noting quickly that she still supports VOE,
    but agrees that it is extremely difficult to knock off an incumbent...while political professionals didn’t think Fritz waged a strong campaign, this was an election season in which pollsters saw the strongest anti-incumbent streak in a long time — and she still was trounced.
    Does Fritz believe that she lost because VOE is bad or ineffective? Not that she's explained to me. Furthermore, notice the way that Budnick strains to avoid counterfactuals to his theory. Could it be that Fritz lost because she didn't run a strong campaign? Could it be that at least one political insider called her a freak and a loon* when I asked them about why Fritz lost? was VOE holding her back the whole time!

  • After the Fritz comments, there is indeed a section where VOE supporters get to make their case (and in fairness, as with Melody Rose, Budnick probably should have noted that "activist" Chris Smith was in fact a key player in bringing VOE to Portland, and let his comments interpreted in that context). But then it's back to the litany of problems--including one that never came up at all:
    Under the city’s system, if an independent committee dumps $50,000 into a campaign against a publicly funded candidate, the candidate receives an extra $50,000 from the city. But if that money is spent in favor of a publicly funded candidate against a privately funded candidate, then the latter candidate is out of luck. The committee’s spending does not count against the publicly funded candidate, and the privately funded candidate does not receive any public funds to offset it.
    Aside from the fact that nothing even remotely like this happened in 2006, it makes it seem as if the private candidate has no control over their situation. Could they get matching funds and make sure they're not outspent by the public candidate? Sure--they could become one as well. Of course they don't receive public funds; they opted not to take them!

To the extent that Budnick and the Trib try to make the 2006 primaries a performance referendum on VOE, they ignore the fairly salient point that the person most easily tarred with their brush, whipped the ass(es) of the candidate(s) who backed their position. As a rhetorical point, I might have accepted the argument that Boyles' tally of 5,000 votes was an indication that even sternly punishing a VOE offender gives them too much notoriety, creating a false viability for the candidate that might not have otherwise existed. But if this is all VOE opponents have, good luck on forcing a vote. We just had a vote, and the canary emerged from the coal mine a little dirty, but sailing on clean (money) wings.

*disclaimer: that's not my view of her at all, but others clearly disagree...

The Trib: carrying the Portland Business Alliances anti-VOE water

[This is Carla's take on the Tribune story. Want Torrid's? Go here...]

The Portland Trib continued its insufferable anti voter owned elections bias today by trotting out some PSU professor by the name of Melody Rose.

Rose is described as a "self styled progressive" (what in the world does that mean?)who has strong concerns about the VOE system. Namely that the VOE critics are marginalized as being in favor of "dirty money". Uh..okay. So Rose is upset that a spade is being labeled a spade? The money coming into campaigns by corporations and folks entrenched in the power structure isn't coming in for nothing. There is an expectation that the recipient candidate will give them something for that money. That inherently makes that money dirty. Rose's discomfort with this characterization doesn't change what it is.

The bigger question I have is did Trib writer Nick Budnick dig Melody Rose up on his own..or did connections with the Portland Business Alliance (the STRIDENTLY anti-VOE, pro current power structure group) make it just a little bit easier for Budnick to find her? This whole article looks as if it has PBA fingerprints all over it. It would have been more honest to just cut Budnick out and let the PBA publish the piece in the Trib themselves.

Interestingly, Rose's views seem vastly out of step with women and VOE organizations.

For example, Arizonan Betsey Bayless was originally not a clean elections supporter in her home state. But after it passed she says their state noticed "a substantial increase" in the number of candidates. Many of those candidates said that they'd not have been able to run (at least competitively) without clean elections laws due to lack of access to campaign funds. In Maine, Marilyn Canavan was initially skeptical about that state's voter owned elections laws. But after deciding to run for office, she said,
“As a Clean Election candidate,I feel completely unencumbered—free to decide issues strictly on their merits. My first term, I served on the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services, one of the most heavily lobbied committees in the Legislature. Walking through the State House the first week was like running a gauntlet. It didn't take lobbyists long to see I was a lost cause,though. I'm open to all sides of an issue, but in the end, thanks to Clean Elections, I'm answerable only to my constituents and I wouldn't want it any other way.”

Not exactly on the same page as Melody Rose, are they?

The Trib piece also has some nasty, not-so-hidden biases against VOE. This one stands out:

In the election that just concluded, three candidates qualified for public financing, including Sten and neighborhood activist Amanda Fritz, a nurse and former planning commissioner.
But to the dismay of the system’s proponents, the candidate whose campaign drew the most attention — of a negative sort — was Boyles, consultant to nonprofits and an activist who now is under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice after a series of articles by Oregonian reporter Anna Griffin questioned both the means Boyles used to gather signatures, and how she spent the money.
Specifically, Boyles employed Volodymyr Golovan, a Slavic church activist, to gather signatures largely from the Russian and Ukrainian immigrant communities. Many of the signatures appear to have been written by the same person, suggesting they were forged. Some of the signers who supposedly gave Boyles money told The Oregonian they had no recollection of doing so.
Boyles also spent the money in questionable ways, including paying her 16-year-old daughter $12,500.
Even before the Boyles scandal blossomed, her receipt of public funds for her campaign chafed critics who felt their taxes and water and sewer bills should not subsidize the campaign of someone with whom they disagreed. Boyles’ campaign style underlined this concern for people like candidate Dave Lister, who said his opposition to the ordinance was heightened after seeing Boyles in a City Club debate. There, her erratic speaking style had audience members laughing at her — Oregonian columnist Steve Duin described her as an “energetic train wreck.”

What the Trib is shaky on here is that Boyles violated VOE laws and the system caught her. It worked. Boyles was indeed a mess...and the VOE system weeded her out. It did what it was designed to do. But the Trib couches it as a failure rather than the law working correctly. This entire passage leaves any halfway informed person scratching their head wondering why the Trib has such a passionate need to see VOE take a dive.

Rasmussen Post Primary: Ted 43%, Ron 41%, Ben Still AWOL

Yesterday they were locked behind the Premium Data area, but pollster Scott Rasmussen has thrown us Oregonians a scrap, giving the bare bones result on their first post-primary poll of the goobernor's race. The news is not altogether swell for Ted--he's well under the 50% safety mark for incumbents--but he's also at his popularity nadir after a bruising primary battle, and in previous polling appearing to be trending back upward after a long slide. Ted has both higher favorables and unfavorables than Ron, although at 52% favorable there is a fairly solid base of support on which to build (twice as many can't stand him as can't stand Ron, but Saxton's familiarity is also lower).

But the biggest mystery on this poll continues to be the absence of potential independent candidate Ben Westlund. Back in February perhaps it made sense, but it's either stubbornness or pure ignorance that leads Rasmussen to leave Westlund out of the poll. It's possible his number is buried in the 16% of voters not choosing Ted or Ron; that part of the survey is still behind the firewall. They may be don't knows and refusals, or "someone else" choices; we don't know. And with a 4.5 margin of error, Ted could be as high as 48 and as low as 38; Ron as high as 46 or as low as 36.

Interesting results; obviously we'll keep an eye on their progression during the campaign. And if Scott writes us back to explain Where's Westlund, I'll let you know.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hang your chad somewhere else

With at least some evidence of voter fraud taking place at traditional polling sites in America, it would appear that Oregon's vote by mail process is more important than ever.

Oregonians are used to being mavericks..teaching the rest of the Union how to do land use management and recycle. And now our voting by mail system is teaching the rest of the states how to avoid the kind of fraud that we saw happen in Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000.

Even with the hand wringing of the traditionalist whining set, its evident that vote by mail is the safest, most secure type of voting. Oregon doesn't have "hanging chads" or Diebold voting machines that are rigged to tally votes for Republicans. In addition, it costs the taxpayers roughly 30% less than traditional poll voting and generates higher voter turnout.

There's been virtually no evidence of fraud or vote tampering in the Oregon vote by mail system. No incidents of vote buying or coercion have been reported either. Vote by mail allows voters time to double check their ballots and do more indepth research on issues during the voting process. And now we vote by mailers can even track our ballots to ensure they're counted.

I dig how we Oregonians show everyone else the way.

Did Anyone Notice Les AuCoin is Blogging?

Besides Chuck Currie, I mean? He ran a blurb just 3 days after Les' first piece, and since then I haven't heard a peep from anyone about it. Perhaps it's that he's only got 10 more posts in the month since then, and in this 'business' that's a ticket to poor traffic--although he's picked it up with five pieces in the last 10 days, one of them echoing the OSU/Salwasser story that Carla is digging into as we speak.

But I mean, how many state political icons start a blog every day? AuCoin made it to DC just as I was moving to the area myself, and was one of the OR Congresspeople (along with Hatfield and Packwood) I kept an eye on over the years. Before going federal he was the youngest Oregon Speaker of the House House Majority Leader ever, and with 30-year-old Neil Goldschmidt taking over the mayor's job in Portland (and a young-at-heart Tom McCall pulling all kinds of hippie moves like public beaches and bottle deposits), it must have felt like the new blood threatened to fairly burst from the state's political arteries.

Not everyone remembers AuCoin so fondly, whether it be from the hard right (pesticide lobbyists Oregonians for Food and Shelter {pdf}--"with all that Les AuCoin has done to undermine our Oregon timber businesses") or hard left (Counterpunch's Michael Donnelly--"the craven creator of an on-going inter-species holocaust"), but as far as the vast middle goes, he was one of Oregon's best. So when he tells you that Bush's plan for using missile defense technology to protect us from Iran is pointless, stupid, and ill-fated anyway, you might want to listen. After all, how many bloggers get to say, "I studied anti-missile missles as a member of the House defense appropriations committee, and..."? Blog on, Les.

Update, 5/23 930AM-- Blue Oregon reminds me that AuCoin is also doing a lot of writing these days, and a little bit of reading too: his review of the important David Sirota book Hostile Takeover appeared in Sunday's O.

Two New Foodish Publications Coming Out of Portland

There are two new magazines out this month emanating from Portland publishers and/or editors, both surrounding the topic of food. One is mostly about food, but is also about being local and sustainable, and is a very granola, small-scale pub while still being part of a national chain. The other comes from here but is a national play, complete with major bookseller chain shelf space and nationally recognized authors--although it's not about food at all, but beverages. One I've read, one I've read of, but both look like great additions and representations of Portland as a growing culinary destination and touchpoint. (Notwithstanding the Hebberoy implosion that's leaving closed examples of high Portland cuisine in its wake...!)

Food culture here is quickly reaching world-renowned status (at least as long as local/sustainable stays hot as a food fashion). The Willamette has always been known for its bounty of produce, particularly fruits. Hops grew as a boutique item when the microbrew revolution hit, and now Portland is one of the world epicenters of beer. The gourmet mushroom craze made the famously fungus-fometing climate a happy place for shroomers. Oregon country beef has gained market as hormone-free cows become sought after, and in perhaps the most curious example of serendipity, the buzz for Pinot Noir wine after its paen in the movie Sideways has dovetailed perfectly with the growth in Oregon acreage planted with the delicate varietal.

But it's the new fashion in fresh, local, sustainable ingredients that has fused all those elements together and made Portland cuisine suddenly recognizable--it has a style now. Embracing the small-scale, handcrafted and artisan values and putting them to work in a diversely positive way has made observers stand up and take notice.

In this climate, both magazines have a chance to flourish. Edible Portland is the local affair, and like its subject and intended audience is low-key, politely but ideologically driven, and ultimately celebratory about the wealth of good things afforded to those of us living close enough nearby to enjoy them. Which is not to say it's printed on hemp (I don't think!) or is printed on corner-stapled sheets from failing inkjet toner. It looks more like an admissions brochure from Reed--four color and all, impeccably laid out...but non-threatening rather than slick. Ecotrust backs the publication, which has already appeared in cities like San Francisco, Cape Cod and Phoenix.

The inaugural issue takes up the pinot boom, in an article about Valley growers enjoying the boost but recognizing that the charm is in staying well-scaled. Other articles include the logistics of bringing fresh wild salmon fast from the coast, foraging and recipe help seeking the tasty morel mushroom (told you), and a theoretical piece on how eating habits affect metropolitain agriculture. I wish you could read some of these articles online, and the website promised they'd be there, but they are not. It's free though, available at all New Season's Markets and by subscription.

The other magazine is devoted entirely to beverages, which according to editor Karen Foley would make it the first ever to focus on drinks as a cuisine topic worth of its own monthly. It appears she's right, and Imbibe is a smashing entry into an untapped field. This one isn't really as much about Portland, although it has its hints of it and certainly appeals to the Portland drinker. As noted, beer and wine are awfully big here, and so is the other member of the Even Portland distilleries are beginning to make their mark. Once again you can't read anything online, but click on the link above for a really great applet that lets you physically flip through pages of the mag with a mouse, showing you key pages. I have only read reviews from the industry and the forum chatter (which actually features two employees of the magazine in the comments), but the response seems to have been positive. It seems like the properly sophisticated yet ultimately immature subject (drinking stuff to look cool) to get the pseudoelites hooked on it, and lord knows advertisers love pseudoelites almost as much as the real kind. Good luck to both; they do the town up well.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

She's baaaaaack

I have returned!

Thanks to TJ for his herculean efforts while I was away. What great election coverage! But let's get down to it. Did ya miss me? :)

I'm definitely in "catch-up mode" having deliberately cut myself off from news in order to concentrate on my vacation. It looks like I have A LOT of reading to do.

I see from an initial quick read that the election went well for Sten, but not for Fritz. Walden has himself a good challenger in the 2nd and Salwasser is taking a smack down at OSU for the Donato Scandal. And did the Westlund campaign really hire Democracy Direct to do their signature gathering???

Busy week indeed.

What other juicy stuff did I miss?

Sunday State News Whiparound: Is Carla Home Yet?

[Monday, I think...]
Time to traverse the Cascades and run the mighty rivers of the Beaver State, as we do each Sunday seeking news from far and wide across Oregon...

  • Think Portland's the only town with divisive battles over downtown planning? Think again, Multnocentrics! In Ashland they got fed up and decided to do nothing for another year. In a tie broken by the Mayor, the pricetag of just thinking about it--around $600,000 for a full plan--proved too great a cost. RGood result? Depends on who you ask. The business community looks happy:
    "I don't think the situation is as desperate as some people are saying," [Councilman and local restauranteur] Alex Amarotico said. "I'd love to have a new car this year but my old one is still working. If I put it off another year, everything will still be OK."
    Unsurprisingly, the developers are bummed:
    "Basically, as far as I'm concerned the council is disabled," [developer John Fields] said. "Everybody is fighting about the details and nothing is getting done...I don't know who Ashland is. It's a big mess."

  • William LaForce is looking forward to getting his diploma like every upcoming graduate of Douglas County's Newport High. Don't expect him to show up at many of the graduation parties, however; curfew's pretty early for 71 year olds. Having dropped out to join the Korean War for the Navy, LaForce is just now using his military and work experience (as an air traffic controller) to qualify for his diploma, to go with his GED earned earlier. Make It Home Alive, William--no, seriously: make it home alive, buddy.

  • The much needed wave of change is happening at La Grande High July 1st; the school will purge itself of junk food and soda, as part of a national effort to rid schools of crappy food and promote wellness. Other districts around the state and country will follow, in the wake of the agreement reached with soda companies to end their lucrative contracts with districts nationwide. (Some state districts like Lake Oswego's, with schools who do their own vending negotiations and already monitor the junk levels in their machines, may see little change.) Unfortunately, there really is no choice anymore in the matter. The radical rise in childhood obesity and early onset of Type II diabetes has mandated this approach. But it's great to see it happening, especially after efforts in Oregon to legislate it failed last year under lobbying pressure and weak-kneed legislators.

  • Think Portland is the only town to have traffic snarled by Critical Massers? Be ashamed, you arrogant Gard and Gerberites! In Eugene, perhaps the only town more ideologically militant on all sides in the state, the police and the riders are struggling to find the relatively happy medium achieved by Portland and other larger cities with Critical Mass rides. Right now Eugene's Finest are in "Show up in force and give out tickets for any kind of BS violation" mode. Eventually they'll figure out that doesn't work, and just try to keep everything moving along, so that any one person's inconvenience by the First Amendment is as fleeting as possible. And since you don't often see the origin of the name, here it is:
    The term was coined by riders in the early 1990s who learned how cyclists in China were able to get through Beijing's busy intersections only when enough of them had massed together to command the attention of motorists.

  • If you have mountains or steep coastlines and try to put roads through them, realize that they will sometimes be closed--from snow, mud, or rocks. Last week a major interstate closure near Hood River was finally reopened, and this week from Port Orford the happy news that Hwy 101 will reopen by Memorial Day {pdf} just south of town (milepost 303, to be exact). Considering that 101 is the main drag through the middle of town, I'm sure folks are excited.

  • Finally, in honor of primary week, an editorial about hometown boy Ron Saxton, from the Albany Democrat-Herald. Ron's dad was a prominent politician in town, described as a "progressive Republican," using as an example his successful effort to get cigarette machines banned from places near children. Too bad they died out--progressive Republicans I mean, not cigarettes...or children. The editor, a near-40-year veteran of the Albany political scene, doles out the anecdotes and comes to the conclusion that the son will be as good for Oregon as the father was for Albany. Despite the editor's obviously advancing senility, it's a nice slice of political homily.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

WattleDome? Portland Hollywoods? Blazer Gallery?

Apparently tired of having what happens to him staying in Vegas, Mark Wattles wants to move back...and he has his eye on a nice 785,000 sqft bungalow in the Rose Quarter. That's right, the former CEO of Hollywood Video (still called that but now owned by Movie Gallery) is looking to move back from the desert and try to make some more money, by buying the Portland Trailblazers from Microsoft magnate Paul Allen. As usual, his bid is to do things solo, so he won't be helping make Terry Porter's nut (or even taking it over and making it his nut). Wattles claims he has the money from his current holdings to make a bid, and I don't necessarily doubt it.

For whatever else he has done in his life, Wattles holds a fairly unrecognized place in American culture. It's fairly well known that Blockbuster Entertainment is helmed by conservative interests, who are not afraid to apply their values to their business. The company has banned unrated or NC-17 movies from their stores, and even claimed the right to edit "their" versions of movies for rental, shorn of whatever they deemed unsavory. They claimed to get rid of "late fees," exchanging them for stocking fees...and then eventually charging a fee for when it was really late, which I guess is a "really late fee." And somewhat like Wal-Mart in that respect, in many places Blockbuster was the only game in town. Sure there were (and still are) indie stores all over the country, but they are notoriously hard to keep open--mostly because they cannot hope to compete with the selection of major video stores.

Without understanding the stranglehold Blockbuster had on the movie rental market, it won't strike you that if Blockbuster decides not to carry a film, or carries its own version, then that company holds the power to drive production decisions made by filmmakers. If Blockbuster won't stock it, and they're the only game in town, movies they won't carry have a smaller likelihood of being made.

That's why I've cheered on Hollywood from the first day I saw one back in Virginia--here was a company who could potentially force Blockbuster to respect the market a little more. Hollywood did not censor their movies, and opted to let customers choose which would be the most popular to stock (although they drew the line at X-rated films as well). This is true despite Wattles being a prominent member of the Mormon church. Additionally, he was known to offer his employees better benefits and a stronger sense of belonging. Blockbuster employees and customers, on the other hand, write "I hate Blockbuster" fanzines and forums.

So if Wattles wants to take it over and has the money, by all means more power to him. Paul Allen's team runs kind of like a Blockbuster--financed on the cheap, with an eye mostly to appearances rather than true integrity and quality, and the sense that the employees all hated working there. Given Wattles' ability to make something out of nothing, and work complex financing to his own advantage, I wouldn't doubt for a second that he were capable of turning the team around. Welcome back, Mark!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Final Election Recap

I say "final" because if Sten still wins and Cornett still loses and Read still wins and Boyles doesn't morbidly fascinate her way to 5,000 more votes, we probably won't mention it when it's officially official. It's generally regarded as bad form to un-concede, and Ginny got hers out of the way quickly Tuesday morning as we reported earlier. Plus as one of our commenters pointed out, 3,500 votes isn't going to change a whole lot. It's not like American Idol, where out of an amazing 50 million votes yesterday, less than 7/10ths of a percent separated top from bottom. The gaps are pretty big in even the closest races, and there just aren't enough votes to swing the tide all the way. It's possible, but not likely.

So Sten tops out right around 50.5%. Comparing him directly to Saltzman's 57% or so, he doesn't fare so well. But Sten had by far the more challenging field, and had the tougher record to defend. And then there's this: failed VOE Saltzman gadfly Lucinda Tate, not mentioned hardly at all in the media--3%. Failed VOE Sten gadfly Emilie Boyles, treated in the press as the columnist's gift that keeps on giving, and (rightly) savaged as a total loon--6%. Will the people who voted for her admit it to the press? How many husbands filled out all the ballots for their family, I wonder?

You can't tell me that having a thoroughly erratic woman blaming him for everything from Peak Oil to Lyme disease, with the press smirking as they scribbled, didn't take an electoral toll on Erik Sten--the guy who gave her $150,000. He made some of his own troubles, but it should be said he fairly withstood all comers and did it on $200,000, beholden to no one for more than 5 bucks (OK, a few $100 seed money people).

So the guy's earned the right to poke his finger into a few chests around town and tell them to sit down. Not that he'll do that directly, but Sten can be cocky, and isn't afraid to name names and describe deeds. He is entirely unselfconscious about his successes, and while electorally speaking it's not his strongest showing by any means, it's probably his greatest success as a candidate. If I had control of his hand I'd blow it up real big like a balloon and knock the PBA's whole fucking building over--"you cannot have City Hall for your own, yo."

Burdick (before giving up) said that 55% (50%) of Portland didn't want Sten. Well, we've got the 70+% who didn't want Burdick to thank, for keeping the PBA's barons from controlling the City trough for periodic feeds. (Dave Lister knew it; that's why he said he'd back Sten in a runoff.) Everyone's talking about Diane Linn getting utterly repudiated--what about Ginny? She had strong name recognition, a well qualified resume', the backing of an influential community, and money in $5K and $10K chunks. And she couldn't clear 30%. We may bicker about how we want our Democrats, but in Portland we can agree that we don't want them shilling for PGE and Qwest.

The sorrows are abounding over Jesse Cornett's loss, with a lot of handwringing about wanting to do more. His friends are doing the Schindler thing: "This watch! This watch could have bought 10 more yard signs! 10 beautiful Cornett mylar yard signs--WITH the holes in them to protect against the wind! And these earrings...1,000 postcards to swing voters in Hillsdale! I could have done more!" Now THERE is a guy who put together a campaign on a shoestring in a hurry, and made it sing. Your time will come, Jesse.

Gotta love the runoff for Multno Commissioner. Frederick was not supposed to be in it, but he's done a fine job to match up against Cogen and his insider might.

I've already said it, but thanks for the headlines Diane. It's OK to hit the sauce for a while, but if you're not getting up until 4pm most days six weeks from now, call me. Ted Wheeler struck me as an earnest, decent guy. I think he'll actually turn things around fairly quickly. Lord knows he's starting with a nice honeymoon.

Steve Duin wants you to know
this was a great primary for Ben Westlund, on the developing premise that low turnout means disaffected voters means people looking for an ex-Republican independent who's not yet in the race. Yet he's facing the majority party incumbent who has led without major scandal in a rebounding economy, in what is shaping up to be a very favorable national political environment for his party, and he's got plenty of money. The deck is stacked not only against Ben, but also Saxton in this race. I don't by any means suggest he can't lose, but when tradesports has him at 66 to win, that tells me he opens as good money, which is NOT good news for Ben, obviously. (If you don't know about these kinds of sites, they turn out to be pretty darn accurate--anything over 50 means better than even money the named event will happen.)

I think Ben was actually hurt a little, having to run to the left of Saxton, who will doubtless push himself back leftward now that the primary's over, and go back to being the Portland lawyer and school board guy. There will be a push towards the center for both. With Mannix, Westlund would have a clear position to stake out on the ideological spectrum in the race. He could play tetherball in the space left between Mannix and the center. But with Saxton, that gap is much smaller. Meanwhile, Kulo is pushed by who...the Greens? My advice to Ben: make the ballot first (or at least tell me you have 30,000 collected), then talk about your momentum.

I was disappointed that Hallman didn't do better for OSC, but Linder is a qualified candidate, and should get most of Hallman's votes. I'm not as dogmatic about the value of "having a woman on the Court," but it's certainly not a negative.

Alexis Dow got booted as Metro Auditor; sounds like it was time for a change, and time for Multno County's great assessor to take the job. When those allegations hit the papers, that was it for her.

Tina Kotek won big in her race--another victory for an openly gay candidate. It passed almost entirely without notice, which is a great thing.

And to Gordon Leitch, better luck next time. I'd be happy to consult on your next campaign, and I'll only charge you $500 for the whole time--as long as you pay me in those 20 dollar gold coins. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Feel free to chat about other races in the comments, if you're not ready to look ahead to November.