Monday, July 31, 2006

In which we call bullshit (again) on Ron Saxton's ads.

Vote for Ron Saxton cuz....he thinks you're stupid.

If his campaign were telling the truth, that's exactly what their slogan would be.

Prominently displayed on the left sidebar of GOP goobernatorial candidate Ron Saxton's website is a link to his TV ad called "Money's Worth". Last April we here at LO outed that ad as a lie:

Saxton lies (right into the camera) and claims that it's all about managing the tax dollars. Not only does Grading the States beat up on our tax structure, it actually gives Oregon a reasonably good write up on how the money is being managed.

Ron Saxton: proving that Karen Minnis isn't the exception.

Saxton's new radio ad isn't much better than his TV spot.

The new ad called "Fires" bellyaches about Kulongoski not supporting federal legislation that allows for the removal of dead and dying trees.

The only forest legislation I know of which touches on the issue of harvesting dead and dying trees is the "Healthy Forest Initiative" which Kulongski has in fact supported.

Saxton also accuses Kulongoski of being in opposition to "sound forest management". In Republicanspeak, that means opposition to logging in roadless areas and in old growth forests.

Or perhaps Saxton means something which case he should consider using language that isn't vague and doesn't talk down to his potential constituency.

Update (11:30): The Oregonian isn't impressed with Saxton's radio ad either.

Breaking: TABOR spending trap qualifies for ballot

Ron Saxton's going to have to come out from under his rock now. TABOR is on the ballot.

TABOR needed 100,840 to qualify and managed 109,031 valid signatures. No word yet on the validity rate--but we'll post it when we get it.

So does Saxton support the TABOR spending trap or does he not? Perhaps we'll have to show up at an event and wring it out of him.

Update (5:49PM): Ed Walsh at the O cites the validity rate at 70.76 percent.

Billy Dalto: Sit down, shut up and stop asking questions about your tax dollars

I took a short getaway for the weekend to decompress from the world (and celebrate my 42nd year). So my followup to Friday's post regarding Representative Billy Dalto's use of Oregon taxpayer dollars had to be put off until this morning.

Dalto himself appeared late in the day on Friday to comment on the post. After careful consideration I've decided that Dalto is indeed a Republican. That's evident from the neck deep waders it takes to get through the pile of BS he dished out on this blog:

Well the lefty blogosphere has hit a new low. That’s the problem with blogs – they’re more gossip than objective journalism. How low will my opponent stoop? First he lies to voters, then he attacks my mother. My mother is a very special lady who had some financial trouble and this attack is hurtful and bad enough, but to use it as a campaign issue is an obvious sign of desperation.

Do they teach this "kill the messenger" crap in Republican School or is it just on a memo-by-memo basis? If Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian or Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week had published this information, I'm thinking Dalto would have gone on the stump to blame the "liberal media" for "attacking" his poor mother.

I suppose I should feel honored. Its obvious that the post hit a big, fat nerve. The post wasn't about Dalto's mom and he knows it. Instead of addressing the legitimate questions about the use of taxpayer funds, Dalto waves his arms like a windmill and begs readers to look at everything except those questions.

Dalto's opponent in the House District 21 race is Brian Clem. I've never met or spoken with Brian Clem or anyone on his campaign staff. None of them had anything at all to do with this post. Dalto's attempt to credit Clem with the work of others is annoying, stupid and unsurpisingly ill-informed.

But even if I had spoken with Clem or his what? Since when are Oregonians not allowed to ask questions about the way their tax dollars are spent and accounted for? That's the essence of what Dalto is saying here: sit down, shut up and stop questioning how I spend the money you send to Salem.

My mother struggled to raise my brother and me by herself after my father died following a prolonged bout with cancer. She was left with huge medical bills and worked several jobs, often late at night, to provide for our family and buy us clothes for school. But she never missed a beat – she’d wake up early to make me breakfast and talk to me before school after working long nights.

I don’t know much about mom’s financial affairs but she is not a public official so to make her personal financial situation public like this is beyond the pale. My opponent should be ashamed of himself. Stooping to attack my mother, a very special lady, is indicative of his dirty brand of politics.

Yeah, yeah. I'm sure you walked to school with no shoes in the snow and had to travel uphill both ways. Everyone has a story and I have no reason to doubt that Mrs. Dalto is a hard working woman. But of course that's not what this is about.

Its about the use of Oregon taxpayer funds for wages for an individual that went undeclared on legal documents at the risk of perjury.

Its also about whether that individual was overpaid for the work that they allegedly did.

I say "allegedly" because after speaking with Employee Services again this morning in Salem, I've found the only way so far to independently verify if Adela Dalto showed up to work in her son's Salem offices at the Capitol is to review security tapes filmed during the 3 month period she was supposed to have been there. Either that, or someone not affiliated with Billy Dalto, his staff or his campaign would have to come forward to say that they saw her and/or spoke to her during that time.

Mom came to Oregon at my request to help me in my legislative office after session ended. I was headed back to work and I needed reliable short term help in my office with constituent calls, emails, letters and other office responsibilities. She lived and worked in Salem and mom filled the responsibility well, helping my constituents with tasks like getting copies of missing medical records and connecting them with state agencies. She was paid directly by the Legislative Assembly and paid taxes on the income she earned.

I already demonstrated that Employee Services says Mrs. Dalto was paid by the Legislative Assembly. That was never in question. I would imagine she'd have to pay taxes on that money because the Legislative Assembly would have reported it to the IRS. Again, not in question.

As I said, I don’t know much about mom’s financial affairs. It’s none of my business. As far as I understand, mom worked with an attorney to start the process of filing whatever paperwork you’re referring to prior to me asking her to come and help me in my office. Her income was minimal because she was going back to school – something she didn’t have time to do as a single mother to two boys. If there are any mistakes in the filing, they would have come as an oversight and will be corrected. Why would my opponent automatically assume that there was some kind of malicious intent?

I honestly could care less why Mrs. Dalto filed for bankruptcy. I care even less that she did it at all, its none of my business. What I care about is why money she was supposed to have received from Oregon taxpayers wasn't declared on the paperwork she signed.

That paperwork was filed WEEKS after Mrs Dalto was hired to work for $3500 per month. She obviously had a lawyer or two helping her out on this as well because there are $800 of legal costs declared on the paperwork. Its not like she didn't have legal aid.

It simply doesn't make sense. And Oregonians have every right and responsibility to know what's going on with their tax dollars whether Billy Dalto likes it or not.

The fact is that campaigns should be about issues important to voters like the economy, education, and the health and safety of their families. My opponent is clearly so desperate to win that he feels the need to make disgusting personal attacks on my family. Fortunately voters are smart enough to see through this.

Interesting. So the use and accounting of Oregonian's taxpayer dollars isn't an issue important to voters? I think perhaps Representative Dalto is underestimating the electorate. It seems to me that this isn't about voters being "smart enough". Its about Billy Dalto thinking that voters are stupid and will buy into more spin.

One final note, Marilyn Shannon has no idea what she’s talking about – she’s a political gadfly who wasn’t even there. Marilyn has her own axe to grind – she twice tried to recruit a primary opponent against me. I didn’t respond to her comment because Republicans don't take her seriously. Ironic then that her comments would be picked up here – one would think that her credibility with this blog is about zero.

So Dalto wants a campaign about issues...but has no problem taking a nasty swipe at Marilyn Shannon. What axe specifically does Marilyn Shannon have to grind--especially as a commentor on a Republican blog? The primary is long over. Its not as if she is cheering Brian Clem on to victory, for crying out loud. I'd imagine as a conservative, Shannon would rather see Dalto in the seat than Clem.

Dalto certainly did learn that "kill the messenger" lesson well. Looks to me like he could teach the class on it.

Legitimate questions about the use and accountability of taxpayer dollars through the office of Representative Billy Dalto remain unanswered. Oregonians deserve to know.

Step up and answer them, Representative Dalto.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sunday Whiparound--Dialup Blues Edition

Time for the Sunday trip around the state. Carla will be back tonight, and meantime I'm still spitting out the goodness from the humid climes of bayfront Virginia via dialup. Often the whiparound has some feature stories or items of strict local concern, but there's a pretty good slate of hard news out this weekend...

Grant Gallaher, the Baker City USPS worker who unfortunately lived the stereotype and went postal on his supervisor last April, agreed to waive appeals in exchange for a life sentence and a minimum 35-year stay in prison. Pretty quick justice out there, I'd say--getting a solid sentence without a long trial and the worry of continual appeals is great work for the prosecution team (and I'm generally sparing with praise for prosecutors).

Out La Grande way, the Foster Gulch complex of fires is threatening to take a big leap forward, with 40 mph winds expected and only about 20% containment as of yesterday. Let's hope if the governor sees firefighters on their way back from fighting the fire, he'll thank them instead of berating them.

In other fire news completely across the state, an accidental causeway fire at the Port of Astoria highlighted a major deficiency in emergency preparedness--the fireboat is permanently out of commission. Putting aside for the moment the crazy idea that a shipping port would have no fireboat, this is a national security issue in some ways. Astoria is a historical point of vigilance, given its status as an entryway to both the West Coast and one of its major waterways. I don't sit around worrying about North Korea or China lobbing missiles and staging ground attacks, but if there is anywhere in Oregon that is a strategic location for that kind of thing, it's probably Astoria. To not have the ability to counter fires near the water is stupid, stupid, stupid--get these people some DHS funds, stat!

The small-town recalls continue--this time it's Douglas County Commissioner Marilyn Kittelman. Opponents were close to having the needed signatures to place the recall on the ballot {reg possibly reqd}. It doesn't look like a big scandal; opponents just seem sick of her. For the other side, you can read the response here {pdf}.

And finally, a wire story from AP Oregon discussing Ron Saxton's appearance before the GOP state convention, in which he and they tied their kite strings firmly to the crazy TABOR scheme for destroying state government. Saxton is still hedging on whether it makes the ballot, which makes no sense--it's not like the text will change between now and then. Either he supports it or he doesn't, and if he doesn't he's a pariah in his own party. Listen:
"Government has got to get control of its spending," said Lee Golder, a GOP delegate from North Bend who strongly backs the spending limit.


One of the leading backers of the spending limit, Russ Walker of FreedomWorks, on Saturday called those assertions "scare tactics." He also said the Republican Party's endorsement would help build support for a new spending limit for the fall campaign.

"The average guy knows that government is not spending his tax dollars wisely," said Walker, who was at the GOP convention.
Have a great Sunday!

Campaign Finance Makes the Ballot--Barely

By the skin of their signature validating teeth, both the constitutional and statutory measures designed to limit campaign finance spending unofficially cleared the ballot hurdle and will go before Oregonians this fall. From Our Oregon:
IP8 (constitutional) got 101,332 validated signatures with a verification rate of 66.61%. This initiative petition needed 100,840 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Note: this squeaked by within 0.49% of qualification

IP37 (statutory) got 79,760 validated signatures and a verification rate of 65.99%. This initiative petition needed 75,630 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Look again at those verifcation totals--as with other measures gathered by circulators being paid on the basis of signatures, these made it by the skin of their metaphoric teeth. Are you paying attention, Dan and Tim? Are you ready to admit that by-sig payments creates slopper work in the field? I don't know of a single hourly-pay initiative that has gotten less than 70%, and the only hourly-wage measure to be evaluated cleared 71% validity. It's too bad the Trick(e)y measures are on the ballot, but their inefficient practices for getting them there have to be of pocketbook concern to them (and especially Tim's subcontractors, who apparently would take the fall if payments didn't get made because the contract called for a 70% minimum).

Still waiting on TABOR, and Portland's pot initiative looks like it will wait until Aug 7th.

Ted Cites Pseudo-Internal Poll Showing Big 3-Way Lead

Well, we may or may not have some fresh insight into the state of the goobernor's race, but we know that the AFL-CIO gave their endorsement to Ted Kulongoski this week only after putting a finger into the wind, and a poll into the field:
Kulongoski is well ahead of his opponents, posting a 17-percentage point lead over Saxton (42% to 25%). Westlund receives just 5% of the vote and Starrett, Morley and
Keating earn 4% combined. To sum up, Kulongoski is well-liked by a substantial number of Oregon voters, while Saxton struggles to simply garner a net favorable rating from the electorate. Kulongoski has been able to convert his popularity into a strong double-digit lead that will be very hard for his opponents to overcome. And Westlund has a very big hill to climb. Given these results, it appears that Kulongoski is very well-placed to win reelection to the Governor’s office. sayeth Lisa Grove of Grove Insights, a generally Democrat-friendly place. This isn't an internal poll per se, but it's not exactly an independent observance, either.

A couple things to note:

  • I'm in contact with the campaign to get some of these data, but as of yet there's no information on who was polled (were all Oregonians equally likely to be selected, and how did they determine likely voters) and whether results were adjusted to more closely resemble the geopolitical realities of the electorate. That makes validity hard to judge.

  • Note that, despite only 34% of the respondents chose someone else, Kulo is still pulling only 42%, well below the typical 50% safety threshhold for an incumbent. True, he's running against four other candidates, and in a 3-way race between majors, 40% could well make the nut for the winner. But given the fact that all three "outsider" candidates garner less than 10% of the vote, it's hard to give Ted credit for a 3-way outcome. In other words, even this wildly favorable-looking poll echoes what others have found: there are a lot of people still unsure about Ted.

  • Relatedly, note that the figures cited reflect what are called "leaners" in the business--that is, the interviewer presses people who say they don't know, and asks them to say who they're leaning to at the moment. Obviously these folks are a candidates weakest supporters. Further, the question distinguishes between strong and weak support, but the results combine the two. For all we know, Ted has 10% strong support and 30% weak support, meaning his numbers are soft.

  • Still further along those lines, even after accounting for leaners, almost 1/4 of the respondents still have no idea who they're going to vote for. Usually adding in leaners takes the true undecided vote way down; it'd be nice to see what the original "don't know" total was. And for an incumbent, the more sizeable and entrenched the body of uncommitteds is, the worse the news. The candidates' approval ratings are similarly bunched, leaving us in the dark as to the depths of their support.

  • Still--and this assumes a random sample as described above--Kulo indeed appears to be in a favorable position. For a major party candidate like Saxton to be hovering at the 25% mark is disastrous news for their camp, especially given the fact that he's not bleeding points to Westlund or Starrett. And let's note that, contrary to the accepted media wisdom to date, Ted's not bleeding much of anything to Ben at all. Ben could certainly gain on those totals, but they're going to come out of the undecided pool, and not Ted's base. And what's really bad for Ben about that is that even if this poll's respondents are heavily slanted toward Democrats, those are voters Westlund is hoping to poach in great enough numbers--and so far it's not happening.

I'll update this story once I get more information on polling methodology. Ted's not wasting any time touting the poll, and why not--it's easily his best review of the still-young general campaign. Brace yourself for a string of "17 point lead" platitudes from the campaign until the next survey comes out, with Ted's people trying to convince the electorate that voters who oppose him are wasting their time. That's why I'm wary of this poll--it seems a little too conveniently timed. But on the face of it, it's the best news he's had all year.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Dead Zone Returns to Oregon's Coast

As if things for the state's fishing industry couldn't get any worse this summer, there's something else to worry about--waters being sucked of their oxygen and turning nature's bounty into a hypoxic graveyard. For the fifth year in a row, and in the most severe case yet, a "dead zone" is literally sucking the life out of marine animals:
In May and June, strong winds over the ocean pulled cold, oxygen-poor and nutrient-rich water from deeper areas and brought it closer to shore, a process known as "upwelling." Normally, upwelling is good news for the Dungeness crab, rockfish and other species that thrive on plant life.

"Then the winds quieted down. We had no upwelling winds, a couple of weeks of very calm seas and all those microscopic plants that had been growing like gangbusters started to die and sink," [OSU marine ecologist Jane] Lubchenco said. "And the bacteria that began to decay used up all the rest of the oxygen in the water."

Ocean water generally has about 2 to 4 milliliters of dissolved oxygen per liter of water. Anything less than 1.4 milliliters per liter can kill a wide range of marine life. Levels in the current hypoxic dead zone have dropped to as low as .55 milliliters per liter.
Not good, obviously. What's causing it? It's a naturally occurring phenomenon, but you'll never guess what makes them worse--or actually, you probably will:
The lack of correlation with any El Niño or La Niña events combined with the dramatic swings of recent years could suggest a human link, OSU oceanographer Jack Barth said.

"What I do know is the climate change models for this part of the world say if you heat up the land more, you get a change in upwelling winds," Barth said. "They'll be delayed in the spring and stronger late in the year. That's exactly what we saw last year. What I'm comfortable saying is it's consistent with climate change"..."Something about the system that's very fundamental has changed," said Jane Lubchenco...
We're not the only ones in the dead zone; half of Washington state's coastline has been hit by the same phenomenon. Not all species are affected the same; faster moving fish like the salmon--already in enough danger from dams and diverted river water for farming--are able to sense the depletion in oxygen and swim away. But for the tasty Dungeness crab, feeding an industry that brought an estimated record of $150 million {swf} to Oregon's economy last year--making it the largest producer in the world--there's little way to escape. Almost all of this year's harvest had already been completed by the time of the decay, and as noted things are pretty good for crabbers recently, but they could have been even better--and big kills could adversely affect the 06-07 season:
Florence crabber Al Pazar figures that he lost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars last year after pulling up pots full of dead Dungeness crab during the 2005 dead zone event.

"There were little baby octopus, an inch or two inches big, climbing up my crab lines, trying to get away," Pazar said. "It's kind of a sad affair."

This year he's heard reports from fishermen who've hauled in pots with everything inside them dead.

"You can smell it," Pazar said.

"Almost fraud": Some questions for Billy Dalto

I'm an unabashed lefty blogger. But I've recently discovered that some of the best ideas for things to dig into come from the righty blogosphere.

Case in point: In May, Ted Piccolo over at NW Republican posted his prognostications for the GOP primary. What's interesting here isn't the post, however. Its the comments.

Waaaay down in the comment thread comes a fascinating little tidbit from former GOP Oregon State Senator Marilyn Shannon:

I predict Billy Dalto will lose. I know his opponent. He has the ability to appear honest, down to earth & home grown, but he's still a liberal Democrat.

Billy's made some pretty dumb decisions. Like hiring his mother to be his legislative assistant during the interim........while she is living in New York and doesn't know snot about helping constituents in Oregon get their problems with state agencies solved. It is nice he is sending some Oregon taxpayer money to his elderly Mother, but it is almost fraud and Brian Clem knows how to exploit that issue to the maximum.

"Almost fraud"? Now that's worth looking into.

As it turns out, Dalto in fact hired his mother to staff his office at the Capitol. The O says that she was brought from New York to Oregon to answer email and do administrative work for 3 months.

According to Employee Services down at the Legislative Fiscal Office, Billy Dalto's mother Adela Dalto was hired on 8/8/05. Her salary was $3500 per month and she was termed on 10/31/05.

I also discovered that Adela Dalto is a renowned jazz singer. She's cut several albums and is apparently quite a wonderful vocalist.

So why would a jazz singer with a fairly successful career come out to Oregon to shuffle emails and paperwork for 3 months? Or was she really out here at all, and just sent the money?

Either way, in the late summer of 2005, Adela Dalto was in serious financial trouble. On 8/29/05, she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the State of New York.

But when Mrs. Dalto filed her petition she either made a serious error or didn't tell the truth. Her petition states that she was making only $1400 a month and none of the income from working for her son Billy is declared on the documents. Further there's a declarative statement at the bottom that says, "Describe any increase or decrease of more than 10% in any of the above categories anticipated to occur within the year following the filing of this document". "None" is what's described.

To recap, Adela Dalto filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without declaring the income she was receiving from Oregon taxpayers via her son,Assistant House Majority Leader Representative Billy Dalto (R-Salem). She also declared under penalty of perjury that all of the information she was giving on the bankruptcy paperwork is "true and correct".

This poses a number of questions, obviously.

Is it appropriate for Billy Dalto to hire his mother to work for him when she's not even from Oregon and doesn't know how to serve the constituents? Is there evidence that Mrs Dalto actually worked in her son's offices? Did Representative Dalto know about the bankruptcy filing? If so, was he aware of the fact that his mother wasn't declaring the income she was getting from the Oregon taxpayers?

Or did Mrs. Dalto tell the truth on her bankruptcy papers and she never received money from working for Billy Dalto? In which case we have to ask--where's that money?

Is this "almost fraud" or is it something a little bit more?

At the very least, Representative Dalto owes Oregonians an explanation.

[Apologies if the links to Mrs. Dalto's paperwork appear small on your screen. I believe if you print them out, you can read things more clearly. Blogger appears to shrink the images and I don't know how to correct it--Carla]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

HOPE doesn't make the ballot


A proposed constitutional amendment that would have made access to health care a "fundamental right" and directed the Legislature to adopt a plan to expand health care coverage failed to qualify for the November ballot, the state elections division in the secretary of state's office announced Thursday.

State officials said there were 81,058 valid voter signatures in support of the initiative, well short of the 100,840 needed to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Supporters had a relatively high rate of 76.2 percent valid signatures, but because they collected only a total of 106,338 signatures they left themselves little margin for error.

Wow. This sucks.

In large part this failure can be attributed to those chief petitioners of other initiatives who were violating Measure 26 and paying by the signature. Signature gatherers can make a lot more money when petitioners are willing to pay fat bonuses for more signatures, so they'll carry those petititions instead.

Ted Blaszack at Democracy Resources whose employees worked on the HOPE initiative, couldn't get enough circulators.

Its pretty pathetic when an honest company that follows the law finds itself on the short shrift end of slimeballs like Bill Sizemore.

Oh the bullshit is flying fast and thick

The O and BO reported yesterday that Jeff Kropf dropped out of he reelection race for House District 17.

The stated reason? Kropf has a three hour morning gig on the weekends over at KXL. They're saying that the "equal time" law would begin to apply to Kropf's opponent Dan Thackaberry.


Kropf could easily give up his radio show for the duration of the campaign in order to avoid this law--and then pick it up again once the election is over. Much greater radio hosts have done that.

Instead, he's dropping out of the House race and keeping a weekend radio gig?

This doesn't make any sense at all. There has to be more to this story.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Initiative breaking news: IP122 to make ballot

The petition initiative to ballot measure announcements continued yesterday with the Secretary of State's office disclosure of IPs 51 and 57 qualifying for the ballot.

51 is the one that would require the parents of pregnant 15-17 year olds be notified if their daughter is having an abortion, but no other medical procedure. 57 would limit the government eminent domain powers and is heavily funded by one of LO's favorite punt tees, Love God Loren Parks.

And finally in a bit of good initiative news (for a change), it appears that IP122 has made the ballot as well. IP122 would expand a state prescription drug discount program to all Oregonians.

Jeff Alworth over at Blue Oregon has the inside skinny on other initiative goings on--so there's no need to list it here.

However it is noteworthy that IP6 (TABOR) and IP39 (Term limits) may be in hot water over sloppy petition gathering has caused 15,000 signatures to be DQ'd. Not that this will keep them off the ballot, unfortunately. But it does seem that IP6 and IP 39 are deserving of further scrutiny. Especially when it comes to who is funding them and how they managed the petitions.

Over at KATU, Melica Johnson opens up a can of whoop ass on both the term limits and TABOR initiatives. Johnson discovered that both are almost exclusively funded by out of state interests. Most noteably, Johnson pointed to Howard Rich of Americans for Limited Government. Becky at Preemptive Karma has been going to town on Rich in several posts which you can read here,here and here. Rich's organization is also bragging about the fact that they're the ones backing these initiatives--noting that they've done it all over the country.

Becky also made mention of the fact that TABOR and TERM limits have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars while Sizemore reported vastly smaller spending. Becky (and I) are asking, has Sizemore found a way again to funnel money into campaigns without reporting it? Its not like he isn't experienced at doing that.



"Portland needs an ism," I announced at a recent artist's opening, a Gertrude Stein-style salon that also featured a storyteller and a poet. "Something that defines the culture of this city."

The crowd around me (which included a milliner and a self-proclaimed "creative conduit") disagreed. Author Cai Emmons spoke for the group: "Our interests are too different to be defined by one movement. Everyone just does their own thing."

"That's it," I said. "We're defined by our refusal to be defined."

That's Portland Bohemianism.

The term Bohemian comes from the erroneous perception that Gypsies came from Bohemia in central Europe. In the 19th century, the idea extended to any artist or intellectual who flouted conventionality.

Portlanders are good at that.

For instance, the staff at Rimsky-Korsakoffee House once found a customer so fascinating they tied him up in the kitchen so he couldn't leave. Another time, owner Goody Cable mistook The Oregonian's Margie Boule for an employee and made her wash dishes, starting a 20-year friendship.

That's PoBo.

Am I the only one that finds this unecessary and honestly..dumb?

Why do we need a name for such stupid shit as this?

Severe Storm

Not being big into network TV, I sometimes miss out on the pop culture phenoms that make up the water cooler buzz.

Last night I discovered that I've been keeping myself away from something exceptional.

I decided to tune in to CBS' RockStar: Supernova after reading about local rocker chick Storm Large during one of my typical morning news trolls at the O online.

No wonder this chick is packing Dante's. She's fanfuckingtastic.

Few people that know me in person would believe this, but I'm somewhat of a closeted metal head (I have an appearance like your local Republican girl-next-door, I'm told). So when Storm struts out in her thigh highs and mini skirt with that edged out makeup and wild-eyed, manic appearance--she had me from note one. Her take on "Anything, anything" by Dramarama was jaw dropping good.

The Rockstar:Supernova show itself? Terrible. I mean really, really awful.

Who told Tommy Lee he's TV material? The guy looks like he hasn't bathed in a month. And I like a tatoo as much as the next girl..but Lee looks like a kindergarten art show on acid.

Former GunsNRoses guitartist Gilby Clark creeps me out. Every time the camera goes to him..all I can think of is "serial killer". And I don't know if Metallica bassist Jason Newsted fried his brain with drugs or if he's always been stupid and inarticulate. Either way, it ain't pretty.

The only one who seems to be able to string two sentences together is Dave Navarro.

Worst of all though is Brooke Burke. I'm sure she's there as the window dressing. But that's all she is. CBS could turn the audio completely off and her contribution would be roughly the same.

Red Dawn or Red Yawn?--Part One

The July 12th edition of the Willamette Week featured what was surely intended to be a jolt of a cover to the complacent, dare I say optimistic leftists of the Beaver State: RED DAWN. The evocation of the communist invasion movie of the same name (Wolverines!!!) sets an ironic tone, given who's purportedly doing the invading here--Republicans. In writer Nigel Jaquiss' analysis, a longstanding Democratic registration edge has eroded to the point where status as the minority Oregon party is all but assured.

Disclaimer time: perhaps I need to have my head examined for deciding to dig deeper into a Jaquiss story. The man could medal-whip me with his Pulitzer, and if anyone besides my wife and mom stood up for me I'd die from shock rather than the wound. Furthermore, it's no real secret that Loaded O has a strong working relationship with the folks at Our Oregon, where the primary source for Jaquiss' article, Kevin Looper, plies his trade. I don't generally have any reason to doubt Looper's contributions to the article, except to wonder a bit if it was designed to create a little alarm among the faithful on the eve of midterm elections.

Nevertheless, as I read WWeek's doomsday scenario for Oregon Democrats, it didn't click for me. Maybe I'm a pollyanna, but damned if I'll be an uninformed one--and since statistical analysis and demographics are my bag, I had to find out for myself if the warnings were worth heeding (and regardless of this piece, if Democrats fail to turn out in sufficient numbers this November, they probably deserve minority status).

The first rule when evaluating a claim like "Democrat registrations are way down," is to ask the question, "Since when?" Jaquiss selects 1976, the modern zenith for Democrats in Oregon, when almost 300,000 more Ds than Rs existed. Fast forward to the May primary this year, and there are actually 32,000 fewer Democrats registered now--despite over 1.3 million more people living here since then. By contrast, over 200,000 more Oregonians call themselves Republican than in 1976. That's a pretty big disparity, no doubt.

But it's also an entirely contextless figuring. The election year of 1976 was the nadir of Republican politics--the worst time to call yourself GOP since the days of Wendell Wilkie. It was the year that the power structure ascending since 1964 finally crumbled under its own weight, and voters took a shine to an obscure peanut farmer who became governor of Georgia and promised a return to integrity.

Where is the country thirty years later? Despite rumblings of a changing of the 2006 political guard, the US stands at its most Republican in many, many years. All three federal electoral elements are controlled by the GOP, the judiciary hasn't been this conservative since before Earl Warren, and much of the tenor of political discussion takes place on Republican turf of 'values' and a central government suited for little beyond militaristic endeavors.

Given that fundamental shift, the idea that Democrats would look their weakest, and Republicans the strongest since THEIR rock bottom, seems so self-evident as to not even require the numbers themselves. Furthermore, it portrays registration patterns as a single, linear phenomenon as opposed to the reality of cyclic variation. In fact, the touchstone figure of 790,000 Democrats has cropped up several times since 1976: in 1984 (792,208); 1992 (792,551); 1988 (791,970); and even as recently as January of this year (793,069).

Yes, by contrast the GOP registration rate has not followed the same herky-jerky pattern; excepting normal dropoffs from a presidential election year to a midterm, Republican registrations have pretty consistently trended upward. But it's clear that history has had its effect on those numbers as well. From the low water mark of 1976, Oregon's GOP showed a burst in Reagan's Republican breakthrough of 1980, and took another big step in 1984.

By 1988 however, GOP fatigue may have set in, as the party lost 4,000 registrants. It bounced back in Clinton's 1992 election year, but Democrats still gained 30,000 more voters (and non-affiliated voters exploded, doubling in the two years since 1990.) Then came the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, and by 1996 72,000 additional Republicans had signed up, as over 200,000 new Oregonians streamed across the border seeking a Silicon Forest payoff--compared to only about 13,000 new Democrats during the same period.

Rather than 1976, from my analysis of registration cycles it's the last 10 years that most aptly describe current trends: Republican registration falling off somewhat, Democratic registration falling harder, and independents showing another boom not seen since 1992. Both major parties saw their totals scaled back in the midterm year of 2002--Republicans with their worst total since 1994; Democrats their worst since 1992. Jaquiss does mention the spike in 2004, but doesn't note that Democrats signed up 100,000 new voters while Republicans added 80,000--and independents 77,000. And by the 2006 primaries, all three groups had fallen again: independents and Republicans off 50,000, Democrats down 68,000.

In the WWeek story, taking the 30-year view misses cyclic undulations that match national political events, and makes it seem as if Democrats are heading south and the GOP are making a steady march to majorityhood, by using as an endpoint midterm data that don't actually show ANYONE gaining registrations. And this line really bugs me, both for what it says and what it leaves out:
The current gap between the two parties is even smaller than it appears, because in every Oregon general election since 1964, the GOP has turned out a higher percentage of its voters than have the Democrats.
That's true as far as it goes, but what's the impact of that turnout differential if the results generally have been victories for Democrats? It's like saying the Yankees are in trouble because they're winning their games 4-3 instead of 6-2--and also, their fielding percentage is the lowest in the league. Secondly, if you're going to make the argument that lack of turnout is hurting the Democrats, it's awfully convenient to leave out the fact that both the 2004 general and 2006 primary featured a differential of 1% relative to Republican turnout--parity achieved in a general election by Democrats only two other times, in 1992 and 1964.

Jaquiss does mention that the registration pace of both parties is being topped by unaffiliated voters, but calls them an "unpredictable cadre." How they vote between candidates and issues may be hard to pinpoint, but where they live and the party they appear to share power with is actually fairly striking. Sorting the 2006 primary registrations by the percentage of independent voters, it quickly becomes apparent that the counties with the most Democrats also tend to have the most unaffiliated voters.

It's not a perfect correlation--GOP leaning counties like Morrow, Polk and Deschutes also have relatively high numbers of unaffiliateds--but six out of the top 10 independent counties are plurally Democratic, and purplish Washington County is the #3 home of nonaffiliated voters (NAVs). By contrast, all 10 of the least independent counties are Republican counties, including six (Grant, Klamath, Malheur, Harney, Wallowa, Lake) where the GOP has an outright registration majority. And when Oregon voted for President in 2004, seven of the eight counties that went for Kerry are at the top of the independent list, including each of the top six.

What does it mean for independents and Democrats to track so closely together, both in registration and candidate voting patterns? Generally speaking, it reinforces the concept that Oregon's independents are largely disaffected Democrats, and suggests that declining trends in Democratic dominance may be--as with overall patterns--a reflection of cyclical national political moods, leaving independents ultimately persuadable back to the fold once the pendulum takes its inevitable swing to the left. Even if they're not going to return to being Democrats, however, it seems clear they're not going to become Republicans--or if they are, they already have.

In Part Two of our analysis, we'll address claims that demographic realities suggest a worsening trend for Democrats, and go deeper into the numbers to see whether the shifting registration patterns portend any shakeup of local politics--an important consideration for discussing Oregon's "redness" that WWeek virtually ignores...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sweet Jesus I hate Bill Sizemore

Traditionally, ballot measures in Oregon that are tilted toward the conservative have tended to bring out conservative voters. This cycle I'm not convinced that will be the case.

The mood of the nation in general and Oregon specifically has worn thin against conservatism. While there are still some hardcore advocates who will always consider government to be "wasteful" or "bloated, Oregonians have watched the state budget slashed for years. I remain skeptical that the current slew of potential conservative measures will draw conservatives to the polls.

If anything it seems now like the opposite might be true. The same old crowd of same tired ideas keeps coming back again and again. Sizemore, McIntire, Ross Williams, David Hunnicut, Loren Parks..etc. I think the citizenry is wise to their scams now. It seems logical that this knowledge will draw out more voters on the left--and discourage moderate conservatives.

I believe Bill Sizemore thinks that the public is wise to him as well. That's why the smell of desperation permeates his commentary in today's Oregonian:

Tim Nesbitt and Ellen Lowe have sold Oregonians a bill of goods. Their 2002 ballot measure that banned in Oregon the nationwide practice of paying petition circulators by the signature has not "cleaned up" the initiative process as promised ("Assuring the integrity of the initiative process," July 17). In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

Before Measure 26, when initiative sponsors were allowed to pay circulators by the signature, Oregon had a small problem with petition signature forgeries. During a typical election cycle, two or three forgers would be caught; the other 99 percent of petition circulators played by the rules. Professional circulators knew that they would be blackballed if they were caught forging signatures -- their careers would be over.

Measure 26, on the other hand, has attracted a whole new breed of petition circulators. During this election cycle, nearly 20 signature forgers have been caught and turned in. That's approximately 10 times more forgers than when petition sponsors were allowed to hire professionals who were paid by the signature and had reputations to maintain.

That's one theory--gotta give Bill that. But not an especially plausible one.

The more likely scenario is that since M26 passed, there are more groups out there paying attention to signature gatherers and looking for violations.

There's nothing keeping professional circulators from gathering signatures right now. The difference is that they're required to be paid by the hour. If its true that they'd be blackballed for forgery, why shouldn't the same be true if they violate other laws in Oregon?

Or perhaps are some laws just so unimportant to Sizemore that flouting them doesn't really matter?

Oregonians should know that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated unequivocally that there is a First Amendment right to pay petition circulators. States cannot prohibit that right. And why should they? There is nothing inherently corrupting about paying signature gatherers. Newspaper editors are paid to write editorials. Ministers are paid to prepare and deliver sermons. Does that mean we should doubt the sincerity of their words? Since when does getting paid to do your job corrupt you?

Since Measure 26 doesn't prohibit paying signature gatherers, this paragraph is irrelevant to any reasonable point. But any keen observer of Sizemore knows that he's nothing if not a big fat kettle of red herrings.

But frankly, Measure 26 was not placed on the ballot to clean up the initiative process. That's not what it was really about. Measure 26 was a ploy by public employee unions to make it more difficult for conservatives to put measures on the ballot. Tim Nesbitt's claim that he was trying to clean up the process is almost laughable. If that were the goal, it would have been wiser to demand serious jail time for forgers. But there was no mention of that in Measure 26. Even today, after the measure has been shown to be a failure, its supporters are demanding punishment for initiative sponsors, not signature forgers. Could their motivation be more transparent?

Oh those boogeymen public employee unions! I don't know how Sizemore has managed to get his money laundering, scheming and various other dirty deeds done. Those public employee unions have made it so darned difficult!

The punishment for forging signatures on ballot petitions is up to a maximum of $125,000 fine and/or 5 years in jail. I believe that's for each infraction. So its clearly not a cakewalk when a forger is caught and prosecuted.

And whining about the fact the chief petitioners are responsible for the people that they hire to gather their signatures is very fourth grade. These people are trying to get new laws passed in Oregon. The least they can do is take responsibility for their workers.

This year, those of us sponsoring conservative measures caught and turned in nearly 20 people for forging signatures on petition sheets. If history is any indicator, not one of these cheats will do any time in jail. That's the real problem. There are no consequences for forging signatures. (Incidentally, the petitioners you actually saw on the street likely were not the forgers. The forgers were probably off in some dark corner somewhere.)

See that part in bold? That's an OUTRIGHT LIE. I called the Secretary of State's office and checked. And I listed the consequences: $125,000/5 years jail time-for each infraction.

Measure 26 has not deterred petition forgery, and it has not increased the validity rates of initiative petitions. But it has succeeded in greatly increasing the cost of placing a measure on the ballot. Given all of that, Measure 26 has been a dismal failure for the people of Oregon and a booming success for the public employee unions that sponsored it.

Indeed. Measure 26 hasn't fixed the problems with initiative petitions completely. Not yet. But then Sizemore hasn't been following the law and now the Secretary of State's office is investigating petitions--so that may very well change.

Rome wasn't built in a day, Bill. And if you had your way Oregon would be at your mercy while you sucked the state dry and padded your bank account with all that money coming in from out of state ideologues who try to use Oregon as their political petri dish.

Measure 26 is here to stay. Get used to it.

Update: Scott at the Merc's blog has discovered that Bill in fact had a convicted forger working on his initiative petition--likely a la Democracy Direct/Tim Trickey.

Gee..we have a law against forging signatures on ballot petitions in Oregon. But it hasn't stopped people like Trickey/Sizemore from hiring convicted forgers to circulate their therefore forgery law is useless and expensive, so we should get rid of it. Right, Bill?

Wyden's Long March to Tax Fairness

We've covered Ron Wyden's Fair Flat Tax Act proposal a couple of times in the past, so I won't go into much detail about the specifics of the idea, which you can read for yourself. But since its introduction, Wyden has worked very hard gently pushing the idea with not only those naturally disposed towards its structure, but potential foes like tax subcommittee chair Senator Charles Grassley and the head of the President's economic council.

It looks like what Wyden calls "grunt work" is beginning to pay off. Yesterday's Business section of the Washington Post featured not only a column on his efforts, but also a followup online chat, and although the tone was one of semi-admiring skepticism, it's a significant step forward for a real discussion of his plan:
The last full-scale revision of the federal income tax was 20 years ago. Since then, Congress has made about 14,000 tax-law changes, and very few of them are what anyone would call reform. A lot of the loopholes and exceptions that were excised by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 have been essentially restored.

Hence Wyden's effort. He has been making speeches around the country and talking to Washington insiders about the need to clean up the tax code again, for the sake of fairness and simplicity. Not many people bet that he'll succeed. But, then again, almost no one put much faith in the lonely crusade of New Jersey Democrat Bill Bradley when he laid the groundwork for the 1986 act.

"This is the beginning of the long march," Wyden said.
Birnbaum's coverage does a pretty lousy job of explaining the theory behind Wyden's plan, which is much less about closing loopholes and cutting taxes, than it is about restoring the balance between wage and wealth income, and individual and corporate income. He does however hit the nail on the head in identifying its most formidable opponent: big business interests, and the Congresspeople who coddle them. The chat is similarly somewhat off-focus, diverging (as online chats do) into discussions about the estate tax and carbon taxes, without using that valuable time to talk about how Wyden's plan would work.

Nonetheless, this is one more positive step for both the plan's chances of success, and Wyden's continuing ascent from obscure western Senator to one of the leaders in the national Democratic caucus. Should the Senate flip this November, his positions on the Finance, Intelligence and Energy committees would make him a highly influential member on some of the hottest issues before Congress in the near future. I'd like to see him replace the earnest but ultimately ineffective Senator Rockefeller as the ranking member in Intelligence, where his increasing facility for the bully pulpit is desperately needed to reverse the damage done by the current administration.

Keep on keepin' on, Ron.

PDX Potter Tours State to...Fight Osteoporosis?

Blogging via dialup from Virginia means you gotta take your quick hits where you can. To wit, the press release from Portland Mayor Tom Potter's office today. As some may know, the mayor is headed down nearly the entire length of Oregon coastline--sandwiched around Friday's state mayors' conference in Newport--to "reach out" and try to foster good relationships between the 800 lb gorilla and the rest of the state. Sounds sensible, like a worthwhile project--right?

But oh, the tangled web we weave when first we fail to spellcheck our emails. Here's what we got from the Mayor announcing the trip:


I hope wife Karin is taking her Geritol!

It could have been worse, I suppose. Think of the potential trouble for this item on the itinerary: "Thursday, 3:15: Blow Glass at the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio."

Giusto's Heart, Budget in the Right Place

You don't know it now, but last week Bernie Giusto may have saved your life:
On May 21, [Multnomah Sheriff's Lt. Michael] Shults was at the end of a challenging, two-week Oregon Marine Board course for public safety officials at Camp Rilea when he felt light-headed. He had just emerged from a pool where he had been put through numerous scenarios -- most that involved treading water in full patrol gear.

"I put my hand on the shoulder of the guy in front of me and said, 'Keep an eye on me. . . . I have to take a knee,' " Shults said. "When I went down on two knees, I knew I was in trouble . . . then I went out."

The stress of the exercise and a blockage in an artery near his heart had sent him into cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, Shults was one of about 166,000 Americans who suffers an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest each year.
Shults' near-death experience prompted Sheriff Bernie Giusto to find the money in his budget to purchase 20 automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, for deputies to carry in their squad cars. The deputies will use the devices to revive victims of heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest, accidents and drownings -- whether that's another deputy or the public they serve.

The simple-to-use devices will also be installed in strategic locations in buildings used by the sheriff's office.
This is a pet concern of mine, and Shults' experience encapsulates why--sudden arrest can happen to almost anyone at anytime, but if there's a thousand-dollar electronic gadget anywhere nearby, the chance that they'll survive their attack goes way up. And the best part is that it requires no foreknowledge for someone to save them--just the AED. Any idiot can use one; I know because I have. The recent development of user-friendly AED's has been a tremendous boon, and it coincides with the new knowledge that CPR is at best a tool for keeping someone alive long enough for trained medical personnel to take over--and not an effective lifesaver.

Unfortunately, there is another drawback to CPR: bystanders are understandably a little wary of putting their mouth on a stranger, and then pushing down on their chest hard enough to crack the sternum. (Maybe it's not always understandable; check out this tragic story of a W. VA police chief so petrified of AIDS--or perhaps just gay people--that he ordered another officer to cease CPR on a dying gay man). Those kinds of shocking incidents are what keeps Portlander Richard Lazar, President of AED Risk Insights, vigilant for opportunities to get decisionmakers to install AEDs both in public places and with emergency responders like Giusto's sheriffs.

Bernie did the right thing in this case, but everyone familiar with his ongoing battle with county commissioners over the proper funding for his department knows that coming up with an extra $30,000 was not an easy task. Ad hoc money out of budgets isn't going to cut it. The state Department of Health Services offered grants in 2005 to rural first responder agencies for AED placement, as part of an initiative spearheaded by the federal government. I'm seeking to get a comment from DHS on whether the program was continued in 2006, and it would be a damned shame if it wasn't. I guarantee you that if asked, counties with Amish Country Popcorn or an annual bean festival would rather have AEDs than anti-terror apparatus. Perhaps if they got creative with the grant application and instead of calling them AEDs, referred to them as "terrorist detainee electroshock interrogation assistance devices," we'd get every mall and water park a lifesaver instead of a moneywaster. For now though, if the sight of a Multno County Sheriff at your door literally gives you a heart attack, be glad you've got a better chance of pulling through. And the next time you think your taxes are too high, you might reflect on the fact that it's not always pissed away on stupid stuff.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Westlund signature update

The Westlund campaign is reporting that they've eclipsed the 36,000 signature mark.

With a few weeks to go before signatures are to be turned in, its looking more and more to me like Westlund makes the ballot. From their press release:

Westlund Campaign Submits First Batch of Signatures to Counties
Over 36,000 Oregonians Support Westlund’s Campaign to Get on the Ballot

Bend, OR- (July 24, 2006) Senator Ben Westlund’s quest to qualify for the fall ballot as an Independent candidate for Governor reaches a major milestone this week as the campaign begins submitting signatures to county clerks for signature verification. The campaign has already gathered over 36,000 signatures statewide and needs to submit 18,368 valid signatures to the Secretary of State by August 29 to qualify for a spot on the November ballot.

[I've adjusted this post because the link I thought I could use was in fact not useable. My bad. Sorry to those of you were frustrated]

Kulongoski beats up on Saxton in poll...without the Ben factor

Zogby's latest poll gives Ted Kulongoski a commanding lead over GOP candidate Ron Saxton.

But once Westlund is factored in, the race tightens up significantly.

To get to the specific Oregon results, go to the link above and then click on "the full results of the polls" within the body of the story.

(via Jeff Mapes)

Incidentally, Blogger is giving me fits this morning. I'm going to walk away from the blog for a few hours and see if it straightens up. Its driving me crazy.

The Saxton Follies

Ron Saxton's hard charge to the right goes on, apparently unabated by the fact that rightwing conservatives don't win statewide office in Oregon:

But Saxton says he would bargain aggressively with state worker unions to get concessions on salaries and health benefits if workers want to keep their richer pension plans. And he says he would look at privatizing government services when public personnel costs are significantly higher than in the private sector.

So state workers are supposed to give up salary and health benefits in order to get the retirement they were promised? People who work for state government aren't worth less than those that are in the private sector. But that's exactly what Saxton intimates here. As if teachers and firefighters aren't quite up to the calibre of say a person who makes microprocessors for a living.

And since when did the Bush plan of privatization become something Oregonians are looking for? At the federal level we've watched the disastrous Bush Administration privatize sectors of the military and other parts of government, only to find incompetence and massive waste/fraud by contractors.

Those advising and supporting Saxton say that their ideas appeal to those who find government expensive and wasteful. I'm curious if those same backers could write a list of 10 state government programs that are wasting money or are unnecssary. Or that could be better managed through privatization.

Somehow I doubt it.

Platitudes are how conservatives get by politically these days. Just looking at what's gone on at the federal level--its pretty obvious that conservatism has no place running government.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm meeellllllting....meeeeellllllting......

Save me Matt!

Or at least drop me off a pint of Chubby Hubby.

Money magazine hearts Washington County

Beaverton sometimes takes a hit from the urban hip funky bunch that populates its big brother Portland. But apparently, Portland doesn't have the cachet with Money Magazine that Washington County does:

Three cities in Oregon – including two in the state’s high-tech corridor – were named among the top 100 Best Places to Live Thursday by Money Magazine.

Orenco Station has helped make Hillsboro one of Money Magazine's Best places to live.
Hillsboro, home to Intel Corp., TriQuint and other NASDAQ companies, ranked highest at number 63. It was followed by Beaverton (#79) and Bend, at 86th place.

All three cities showed double-digit gains in home prices during 2004-2005, and job growth increases ranging from 8.1 percent in Beaverton to 20.5 percent in Hillsboro over the past five years.

Suck on that, PDXers.

Spanning the State: Still too damn hot edition

The front page of the Sunday Oregonian says we're supposed to reach a high of 96 degrees today. According to the digital weather station that sits on my kitchen counter, its 95.9 degrees right now and its barely 11AM. I think the O may have been a bit optimistic.

So today I'll be staying inside my house, turning on the A/C and watching old movies. But before I go crank on the DVD player...let's span the state!


Today's O has a fascinating peek into an archaeological dig taking place in the Redmond area. A group from the University of Oregon along with some members of native tribes, are studying lava tube caves on the south side of Redmond. The group appears to have found evidence of people living in the area as far back as 6000 years ago.

The town of Ashland has an excellent Little League program. And right now, they're playing in the Oregon state baseball tournament taking place in Ashland. But the 11-12 year old team has a unique all star: a girl. And it turns out she's a better player than a lot of the boys.

Small town political upheaval is causing headaches for Burns. First, the city manager resigns under a cloud of controversy. Now they've lost the interim manager and have to rush to find a long term replacement. In addition, two city councilers have resigned.

The OLCC's Canby dragnet yields citations against three of 13 area businesses for selling alcohol to minors.

Bend's Drake Park is suffering from an abundance of goose poop. So much so that they're attempting to move the geese to other areas. Unfortunately its being met with only minor success. As a part of LO's service to greater Oregon, I'll be sending the City of Bend this article on how Seattle is faring against its own battle with a goose poop problem.

You couldn't pay me to live in Hermiston. And if I did happen to have a residence in that area, I'd probably have to scream at that woman.

The Corvallis Gazette has a good writeup on key Oregon House races. However I think the hopes of the GOP in Washington County are going to be soundly dashed. Its shading bluer out there all the time.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Portland Business Journal push polls on WalMart

I don't know if polls have a "reliability rating", but this one at the Portland Business Journal would have to rank in the upper echelons of stratospherically unreliable when it comes to gauging the public:

Poll: Leave WalMart Alone

We asked: "Should Wal-Mart be held to different standards than other retailers?"

Your response: 60 percent said "No," 34 percent said "Yes" and 4 percent were "Undecided."

This sounds like something Lars Larson would ask on his radio show. Followed by "When was the last time you beat your wife?"

The more reliable questions would be "Is Walmart a net positive for local communites?" and "Would you support a WalMart in your locality"?

Looking for a low wage, dead end job? Move to Bend.

Here's a note to all those joyful Bush-leaguers who crow about an improving economy: there's more to those falling unemployment numbers than just getting someone a job. They actually have to be able to make enough to pay for stuff.

Take Bend, for example:

"It's weird. We're just not getting the applicants this year," Kurzman said. "Most years we have dozens of high school applicants. This year, we've had none."

Kurzman said the bakery pay starts at $7.50 an hour for a two-week training period and then rises based on experience.

Other companies say they are desperate for help to keep up with demand in Central Oregon's strong economy. An economist says the demand for labor is outstripping the workforce supply in Oregon and nationally, but Central Oregon is feeling the pinch more because it is growing faster.

Jody Denton of Merenda Restaurant and Wine Bar recently filled a line cook position after advertising a $1,000 signing bonus. He had advertised two open positions for at least six weeks, with pay of $9 to $12 an hour depending on experience. Benefits included vacation but not health insurance.

$7.50-$12 an hour with no health insurance? With rising fuel and food costs..not to mention housing, how is anyone supposed to survive on those kind of wages? And how exactly does this mean the economy is booming?

If the jobs being created aren't the type that can allow people to buy groceries, cars, houses and other goods, exactly how is this a good thing for citizens?

The average wage in Deschutes County last year was $15.09 per hour, excluding benefits. That's $31,400 a year based on a 52 week work year.

Tiptoeing through the Bend real estate ads is a pretty bleak exercise with checks of that size.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mayor Potter/Sten kiss and make up on PDC reforms

Tom and Eric sitting in a tree...


Tim Trickey getting tricky with subcontractors?

As noted earlier today, Sleazy Sizemore has another of his initiatives on the ballot for the Fall.

In all the brouhaha surrounding the initiative making it to the ballot, I erred in not reading things more closely.

Sizemore used Tim Trickey's Democracy Direct to gather up his signatures. DD in turn subcontracted out the work to other companies--turning the signature gathering process into a messy maze of almost-impossible-to-follow events. No doubt this was done deliberately to thwart Measure 26, including an especially slimy pay-by-the-signature scheme with homeless people in Portland.

A close look at the contract reveals a clause that appears to allow DD to worm out of paying the subcontractors:

Section1.2: The validity rate of the aggregate of signatures turned in to DDI by (name withheld) must not fall below 70%.

IP 14 achieved a 65.9% validity rate.

Sizemore's other initiative that's made the fall ballot is IP23, which 66.3% signature validity rate.

It looks to me like Trickey gets to keep his money..and a bunch of subcontractors who were probably violating Measure 26 aren't going to get paid.

Oregon Goes Hollywood

If, like me, you felt compelled to see Are We There Yet--despite the fact that it looked like a crappy movie--because you saw shots of Portland and Oregon in the trailer, get ready for film voyeur heaven! Not one, not two but three major motion pictures are either filming or getting ready to film principally in Oregon.

That doesn't happen by accident, either, although it helps that filming costs--particularly things like union wage scales for crew--are becoming more and more ornerous in California. Like any other industry, the film business has to be wooed. They have to be made aware of what your area has to offer in the way of beautiful location sites and competent production crews. And like any other industry, sadly but truthfully you also have to grease the wheels with a little cash--thus the Oregon Production Investment Fund. If a film company contracts with the Oregon Film and Video Office to produce the film in accordance with their rules, and spends at least $1mil in state to do it, the fund will rebate 10% of those costs, up to $250,000.

It appears to be working out well for everyone--the filmmakers may share rebates totalling 3/4 of a million dollars, and the state stands to gain an estimated $26 million in spending by the film companies. So sayeth Governor Ted Kulongoski, who continues his quest to finally explain to everyone what he's been doing the last couple years:
“Oregon has worked aggressively to attract film production to Oregon through the provision of financial incentives and labor rebates,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “We think that our scenery is unique and the pool of talent for production is top notch. Oregon is open for the film business.”

The three films are expected to have an overall economic impact of $26 million in the state and each chose Oregon due in large measure to Oregon’s recently enacted incentive programs.


In 2003, Governor Kulongoski and Oregon legislators created the Oregon Production Investment Fund, which offers an incentive to qualified productions. Governor Kulongoski also traveled to Hollywood to meet with studio executives and talk about other ideas to increase production in Oregon. Greenlight Oregon was formed at those meetings, which help make Oregon a serious player for major film and television productions – productions with the potential to create jobs throughout the Oregon economy and generate millions of dollars in economic activity.
Two of the films are already underway, and one will start shooting in the fall. And you think Ice Cube is a big star; how do Sean Penn and Morgan Freeman butter your popcorn?
“INTO THE WILD”, directed by Sean Penn (“All the King’s Men”, “Mystic River”, “I Am Sam”) has just begun filming at the Oregon coast, and will also film in the Cascade Mountain Range and several other Oregon locations this summer and in early fall. The film stars Emile Hirsch, (“Lords of Dogtown”, “Imaginary Heroes”), Catherine Keener (“Friends with Money”, “Capote”) and Vince Vaughn (“The Breakup”, “Wedding Crashers”). “Into The Wild” is based on the bestseller by Jon Krakauer and is the story of Christopher McCandless who abandons life as most of us know it for the Alaskan wilderness.

The second film, entitled “FEAST OF LOVE”, has opened its production office in Portland and is being produced by Lakeshore Entertainment. Principal photography will take place from early-August through late-September. The film, directed by Robert Benton (“Places in the Heart”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”), stars Morgan Freeman (“Lucky Number Slevin”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Shawshank Redemption”) and Greg Kinnear (“Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Matador”, “As Good As It Gets”). “Feast of Love” is described as a meditation on love and its various incarnations, set within a community of friends in Oregon.

Filming is also currently underway in southern Oregon for a third film titled MY NAME IS BRUCE. The production is employing approximately 150 local cast and crew and will wrap filming in mid-August. In this feature, Bruce Campbell (“The Woods”, “The Evil Dead”, “Bubba Ho-tep”), is mistaken for his character Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy and forced to fight a real monster in a small town in Oregon.
Are we cool yet?

Breaking: Sizemore scam makes ballot

Looks like another one of Sleazy Sizemore's initiatives is making the ballot.

Liz at Our Oregon has confirmed that Ballot Initiative 14 has qualified with 79,176 signatures. 75,630 were needed to qualify.

Sizemore turned signatures in for this initiative in May and twice in July, achieving a 65.9% verification rate overall.

According to the Defend Oregon Coalition, this is a particularly nasty measure:

Another false promise from Bill Sizemore.
Sizemore calls this measure a tax cut, but in the end we’ll get far less money than he promises, and it won’t do anything to slow down the skyrocketing costs of living we all face.

Oregon’s kids can’t afford this tax scam. Under this measure, we’d face an effectively retroactive cut of $151 million from the 2005-2007 budget and the "kicker" will be cut by the same amount. In the 2007-2009 budget, revenue for public services will be slashed by and $641 million.

We’ll say it again: This measure is effectively retroactive.
If the tax scam passes, our state schools and other services could lose money they’ve already budgeted.

Oregonians are already consistently faced with a state budget that doesn't meet the needs of public schools. Sizemore is in it to rape us again with another of his false promises--and undermining our kids' education in the process.

Gold Hill Mayor Redefines Huff, Quits Immediately

Sometimes the smallest burgs in our fair state offer the most interesting stories. Remember the City of Union's husband-wife recall? Good times, good times. And so it is that the Jackson County Mail Tribune brings us the climactic moments of the doings in Gold Hill:
Gold Hill Mayor Sherry Young has resigned effective immediately.

"I'm out of there," said Young. "It's all so crazy."

Young's two-year term was due to expire in December. She had planned to present her letter of resignation at tonight's City Council meeting.

But instead Young turned in her keys and documents to City Recorder Mary Goddard this morning, she said.

"I figured I didn't need to get beat up again at one more council meeting," said Young. "I'm at that point in my life where if it's not fun I don't want to do it."

Council President Donna Silva will preside over council meetings until a new mayor is elected in November, city staff said.
With a little digging, we've discovered some of the backstory that led to Young's Take This Job and Shove It swan song. Go back to last November, and we discover that Young and Police Chief Dean Muchow complained bitterly about a judge's decision to dismiss a series of parking tickets issued by Mulchow's department, which had increased fivefold in two months. Why did he dismiss them? Because Young allegedly told him (twice) that the city was trying to raise money to fund another officer:
Leahan — a 25-year veteran officer with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Narcotics Division — said he verified his information with the city and explained his position to Young before Monday’s court session, when he cleared about 35 cases by slashing fees and dismissing those citations he found questionable.

"I understand Gold Hill needs funding," said Leahan. "But now they’re lying or denying what they told me. I talked to the mayor twice and she told me they were trying to fund a third officer. For her to deny that is self-serving, unprofessional and untrue."

Leahan said Young named reserve officer Chris Hansen as the third policeman the city hoped to hire.
Here's where the conflict starts. Young and Muchow wanted to blame the judge, but other Councillors pointed the finger right back at them:
Police liaison and Councilwoman Jan Fish disagreed with Young’s characterization in the Rogue River paper of Leahan’s actions as "totally inappropriate." The city has a long- standing problem with speeders, she said. But it is the chief’s inability to follow a budget that has placed the city in an embarrassing position — and the future of the department in peril, said Fish.

Excessive staff overtime has tapped out the police budget, she said. So did Muchow’s credit card purchases of gift certificates, alcohol and celebratory dinners made during the department’s remodel earlier this year, she added. And paying for gas, insurance and repair bills on six vehicles for a two-officer department doesn’t make sense, she said.

"I’m not happy with the course of events since the new chief has been here," Fish said. "The department is in trouble now."

Just prior to the ticketing spree, Muchow wrote in his September department report, "A way to finance this (third) officer, and also help pay for gas, citation books and other forms, would be through traffic and ordinance citations."
The smoking, uh, pen! Things appeared to get even worse when Muchow was indicted on felony theft Union County. He was eventually acquitted, but bad feelings remained. That led to a healing workshop of sorts in March, on the theory that it might clear the air. The noises were hopeful that things had been patched up, but I guess it didn't take?

Good luck to the citizens of Gold Hill on their political housecleaning...!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

BRO picks Ted over Ben...but we knew they would

Basic Rights Oregon gave their endorsement for governor to Ted.

Scott seems to find this a more shocking development than do I:

Ok, yeah, Westlund is a former Republican, and even wrote an argument in favor of Measure 36 for the voters pamphlet. But he was also a sponsor and chief proponent of SB1000, the failed bill that would have combined nondiscrimination and civil unions for same-sex couples. His support for it riled up his GOP comrades, who threatened to put him through a primary against someone even further to the right. He responded by dropping his party and running for governor.

It’s no secret among political watchers that Westlund carried the ball on SB1000, while team captain Kulongoski sat on the sidelines. It led to a number of questions: Would/could BRO endorse Westlund just because of his work on SB1000, despite the fact that his other political stances would most likely make BRO’s allies (unions, pro-choice groups, environmentalists) bristle? Or would they endorse Kulongoski, as a staunch Democrat, even though he wasn’t exactly jumping for joy over Multnomah County’s same-sex marriage licenses and screwed the pooch on civil unions?

I understand that Ted wasn't pulling his weight on the civil unions bill. That much is evident.

But Scott really glosses over what Westlund did with Measure 36. He didn't just sign the paper on the voter's pamphlet. Westlund worked for and voted to deny gays and lesbians the ability to equal access in Oregon.

This stands in contrast to what Westlund articulated to me in our interview:

I can do the big tent thing even while they're bashing me on my tax increases. I can understand and simply disagree with people when they're doing the social conservative thing: prolife vs my prochoice position. I understand those are heartfelt, deeply personal issues. So is the gay rights issue. But wait a minute. Let's not "are you pregnant?" "Should you get an abortion?" "Is that fetus a child or a baby"? Those are different discussions than you're validity as a human being. When you start demonizing not just the gays--you can see it now in the undocumented worker issue. This whole demonizing of whole segments of society. That was the final straw. It isn't just the increasingly espoused dogma that's not good for Oregon. The real tipping point is this increasing intolerance and dissrespect of the family of human beings. That was the big one.

The problem isn't that Kulongoski didn't carry his weight on SB1000. The problem is that Westlund articulates a postion in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians. But has actually worked counter to achieving that goal.

Parental Notification laws...a solution looking for a problem

On the surface, a parental notification law for older teens who wish to have an abortion might seem like a logical, reasonable regulation. I've heard the pro-notification folks say that nowadays the schools can't even give kids an aspirin without parental therefore shouldn't parents at least get a note in the mail if their daughter is going to end a pregnancy?

The "you can't give my kid an aspirin" arguers are in part a section of the Right To Life movement, who've submitted Ballot Initiative 51. 51 would require parental notification for abortion for women agest 15-17 in Oregon.

But this sort of notification isn't reasonable and it isn't logical. The state can't regulate good families. If parents want their teenagers to talk to them about sex, pregnancy and abortion then they must raise them in an enviornment conducive to such discussion. Forcing the issue through this kind of regulation is unnecessary and unproductive.

Teen pregnancy rates in Oregon are on a steady decline. Its not as if we've got some sort of rampant, uninformed teen abortion thing going on here.

And frankly, Oregonians should be tired of having religious zealotry shoved into their law books.

But even if you don't mind the zealotry--you should mind the goofiness behind this initiative.

Firstly, Oregon allows teenagers age 15-17 to make their own medical decisions under the law. If they didn't, this initiative wouldn't be necessary in the first place. Why is this just about abortion? Why didn't these do-gooders write an initiative that would force all medical decisions for 15-17 year olds to have parental notification? And why doesn't the law require the parents of the young men to be notified? Why is it only the person having the abortion? After all, it takes two to tangle. That fetus wasn't created through an immaculate conception.

In addition, Planned Parenthood reports that most teens already have at least one parent involved in the decision to have an abortion.

There is an alledged "safety valve" in the bill to avoid the notification process.

Young women who want to bypass the notification process are required to go through an administrative law judge via the Department of Health and Human Services. These are the types of judges who deal with license disputes and permits. There's no requirement that they be a lawyer. What's the point? To delay the procedure so maybe the woman will change her mind? What gives this person any insight into a situation like this, that a doctor and a woman couldn't determine together on their own?

This law further ironically supposes that a young woman isn't old enough to make a decision about whether or not to have an abortion, but she's old enough to give birth to a baby and raise it.

Initiative 51 is just another law seeking to exert control over people's lives. Oregonians should soundly reject it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Breaking--1st Initiative Looks Ready to Qualify

Nothing's official until August 6th, but according to Our Oregon Bill Sizemore's "insurance credit check" bill, known currently as IP-23, will qualify for the ballot. Just over 84,000 valid signatures were credited to the initiative, well above the required 75,630. Note the validation rate from what was turned in, however: 66.3%, based on the sample done by the Secretary of State's office. That's well below the typical 70% target, and in line with signatures turned in earlier this year by the Sizemore/McIntire/Loren Parks cabal for their other petitions. Notably, it's also below what Ted Blazsak's petitions achieved in their early-turn in period. Could it be that violating Measure 26 and paying by the signature is not only illegal, but also bad for business? We can only hope.

Frankly, as petitions go from this crowd, IP-23 seems like a relatively good idea--why do insurance companies get to run a credit check on you in order to give you a rate? If there's one group of people who don't wait long before pulling the plug on service you've bought but haven't finished paying for, it's the insurance companies. Still, given Sizemore's history, and the history of people and causes Parks has bankrolled in the past, I'm suspicious. But it looks like I'll have to stay suspicious all the way to November, because it's going to be on the ballot. And call it a hunch, but I'm going to guess it gets the biggest Yes vote of any initiative on the ballot this year (with parental notification being #2, sadly).

Stay tuned--as OO hears word about petitions making the grade or not, we'll pass them on.

Portland's Park Envy

What an enormously slow newsday at the Portland Tribune on Monday. Apparently there were no hot leads left about wasted money or illicit police affairs (violent OR sexual), so Bob Pamplin's Tuesday top-of-the-fold "good morning" was a bit of distasteful medicine to those who like to crow to visitors, "Did you know Forest Park is the largest forested city park in the country?"

Talk about being a downer!
Forest Park is the 14th largest city park, No. 10 if the list is restricted to municipally owned parks (as opposed to state, county and national parks within city boundaries).

And as for the city’s Parks & Rec claim, well, that may depend on what you classify as forest. But even with the strictest interpretation, Forest Park loses out to Jefferson Memorial Forest in Louisville, Ky. (a johnny-come-lately city park, mind you, called Jefferson County Memorial Forest until Louisville merged with its surrounding county in 2003), and Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis (which has the nerve to allow a golf course amid its forest).

Forest Park as No. 1? “That urban myth goes back to 1948,” said Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence. “It was the largest park, but not anymore. But don’t feel bad, because people in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park think it’s still the largest park, and that was true until 1896.”
Oh, so now we're not only mistaken, we're hopelessly lost in a time warp of outdated boosterism? I feel like I've been stabbed with a trail sign.

But in taking a closer look at this late-breaking newsflash, it seems not even the Trib's account of 10th or 14th is right. If I'm guessing correctly, the source of their reporting on that is the Center for City Park Excellence(!), who compiled a list {pdf} of the 100 biggest city parks. They helpfully distinguish between municipally-owned parks and those run by other entities like the county or state, and by their numbers, Forest Park indeed finishes 14th (all city parks) or 10th (just the city-owned ones). But someone appears to be feeding the Excellence Center some bogus acreage info. Portland Parks lists it not at a puny 4,300 acres, but a whopping, gigantor 5,155 acres. Assuming they're right (and wouldn't they know?), that makes Forest Park either 11th...or 8th overall!

Perhaps there are people out there who just say "largest city park," but I've always restricted myself to qualifying it with "natural" or "forested," intending to imply that it's the largest unspoiled, undeveloped park in an urban area--because that's what's special about Forest Park. So I tend to agree that having some kind of forested area, and a lack of park-like development such as picnic structures, parking lots and playgrounds, are what would put other parks in Portland's class.

On this basis, the Trib puts Forest Park 3rd---but as we see from the Park Center's rankings, using corrected acreage Eagle Creek Park actually falls behind ours. And really, a golf course? Clubhouses and girls in shorts driving beer carts around, doesn't exactly scream "unspoiled wilderness."

As for the Jefferson Memorial Forest in "Louisville," that's simply cheating. Sure, if Portland wanted to annex everything for 15 miles around it, they could scare up a bigger park space--which is what Louisville did in order to claim the "title." But if you're mailing them a postcard to congratulate them, be sure to address it FAIRDALE, Kentucky--since that's the actual address of the park. Look at a map and you'll see that it's far outside the urban zone of Louisville, and in fact is beyond the interstate 265 loop surrounding the city. And while it looks like a lovely place to go (in a city I really liked when I visited), conference centers and wedding venues may tend to distract from the wonders of nature, especially during , say, Derby Week.

So let the word ring from one end of Wildwood Trail to the other: Forest Park is the country's largest municipally owned, within-an-actual-urban-area, undeveloped, forested park! And if you try to tell us different, be looking for a fight!* Meet us at any one of Portland's strip clubs--the most anywhere! In the US, at least. Per capita. If you mean all nude.

By the way, in case you were wondering, Portlanders are the #10 Googlers of the word "petty." But we're #2 when it comes to "forest"! Take THAT, Phoenix!

*We'll start by picking one with Portland Park and Rec, who required all of one day to change "biggest ever, anywhere" on their website to "one of the largest forested natural areas within city limits in the United States." Booooooo.

Cutting Gordon Smith Slack on Stem Cells

Brian Hines offers up the proper amount of righteous anger at President Bush for threatening--and apparently planning to make good on the threat--to veto a stem cell research expansion bill that would allow harvesting of new lines. Hines points out the hypocrisy and convenience represented by frozen embryos that will ultimately be destroyed. It's a political game being played by the President at Karl Rove's behest, to excite conservatives towards the ballot box.

I wrote a fairly well-read Oregonian piece about the rightward lurch of Gordon Smith, who has managed to elude scrutiny or comment in the major media for his prodigal turn. (It was nice to see four letters to the editor in response, odd to notice that none of them really addressed the true point of my ire, which are the major media themselves. Everybody just wanted to talk about Smith, yea or nay.)

Given all that, I probably owe it to the guy to congratulate him on the decision to buck the President at this juncture (an admittedly easy vote if you know he's going to veto it. The harder vote is the next one, to sustain or not--and of course he won't). Smith offers a rationed defense of research that seems to address opponents to research on a humane level, and so despite firm ideological differences on most days, today all we can offer are hallelujahs and amens:
I believe it would be a tremendous loss to science and to all humanity if we choose to hold back the key to unlocking mysteries that have long mystified scientists and physicians. That is why it is so important that my colleagues cast a vote in favor of HR 810, a very pro-life vote.

…After years of reflecting on this issue, it has become increasingly clear to me that being pro-life means protecting both the sanctity and the quality of life. By allowing research on stem cell lines derived from unused IVF [in vitro fertilization] embryos, we could forge a path that will one day lead to cures for some of mankind’s most dreadful medical maladies.

…I do not believe that religion and science are in conflict on this issue. I believe that one of the great gifts of the United States, the best example of the United States to the world, is our pluralism—religious pluralism. It is something that we see in absence, tragically, in too many places of the world

You see blood running in the gutters of the Middle East as we speak, because of sectarian views which are held to the point of murder. We therefore do not serve the public well by taking the narrowest theological positions and trying to impose them on public policy. We should be open enough to include other considerations of ethical ideas, of scriptural interpretations, and scientific hope.