Thursday, August 31, 2006

Guess What? It's 2008 Initiative Season Already!

If the absurdly chaotic and lawless spring petition gathering season wasn't enough torture-by-democracy for you, and the big state races are boring you to tears, perhaps you'd like to familiarize yourself with the already-approved circulation of two new measures for the 2008 ballot. Yes, that's righ--two years and three months before the next general election ballot, guys like Bill Sizemore are coming up with more simply brilliant ideas for our state.

Sizemore's latest umbrage is Petition 25, Prohibits Using Money Collected With Public Resources For Political Purpose; Requires Segregating Funds; Mandates Penalty. Penalizes Person, Entity For Using Funds Collected With "Public Resource" (Defined) For "Political Purpose" (Defined)

Like many of Sizemore's measures, this one rests itself on a simplistic but popular premise: dirty political work is taking place at the expense of taxpayer resources. No doubt there is--but there are in fact rules and guidelines in place that restrict the use of public resources for personal gain, including political gain.

But the big difference is that Sizemore leaves no wiggle room whatsoever for what might be considered a violation. If an action uses public resources--meaning employee time, equipment, buildings, supplies--and features some kind of political contribution, even for a nonprofit that in turn supports a campaign, and even if it was only an in-kind contribution, that's a violation. See how many legitimate, manifestly legal activities you can think of that would be banned under Petition 25. I'll help you:

  • Building a website for a candidate on library computers.
  • Accepting donations at a Sierra Club table set up in Pioneer Square, if they're collecting to help repeal Measure 37.
  • The US Postal Service is considered a public trust and quasi-public agency--so no mailed donations.
  • Using the electricity in the jury pool lounge to power the laptop that helps create a BlogAd for Mike Caudle.
  • Calling a donor on your personal cell phone while driving over the Sellwood Bridge.
  • Conducting union business using City of Portland computers.
Well shoot, that's already illegal, isn't it? Nope. As long as it's part of your duties as a member of a public employees union, in Portland you are allowed to conduct union business with public resources. I trust other cities and perhaps even the state have this exemption, which now makes it clear why Sizemore wants the law: it completely hamstrings union activity.

The other potential measure is now known as Petition 43, and has the added burden of being a constitutional measure, which requires over 100,000 signatures right now. But it's got a catchy title so far: Allows Regulation of Strip Clubs. I can already see the early spin on this one, too: "We just want to give localities control to regulate the strip clubs in their area to keep them away from kids." You may remember that the far Eastern town of Nyssa was taken all the way to the state Supreme Court to block their 4-foot rule at Miss Sally's Gentlemen's Club, and ultimately they lost. Because of the broad freedoms of expression granted in the Oregon Constitution, a locality cannot arbitrate the time and manner of those expressions, much as they might like to.

First of all, are you people INSANE? The speech/expressions codicile makes Oregon one of the freest damn states in the union. It goes across the political spectrum, from porn to campaign finance. As much as I think we could use limits on contributions, that's not the issue--and as long as money is considered speech at the federal level, I don't expect Oregon to say otherwise. (Which is why I'm ambivalent on 2006's Measure 44, to amend the constitution and allow contribution limits).

Let's accept the fact that nude dancing is legal, and some citizens want to pay to see it. Regular zoning codes can do all that's necessary to keep clubs in certain areas of town where children do not frequent. Why do some people consider our constitution so pliant and fit for petty changes? Do proponents really think the deliberate attempt to maximize freedoms was written back when with a wink and a nod to the prudes--"don't worry, we don't mean the bawdy vaudeville?"

The mechanism used to allow control of the clubs is alcohol regulation--which essentially means the club is held hostage to the review of its alcohol license, and if it doesn't toe the line...boom, there goes the liquor license. I've seen it used as a weapon back in ol' Virginny, more than once. But here's what makes this petition another one of the loopy ones: remember the Nyssa case I cited above? Miss Sally's didn't serve alcohol. They wouldn't even be threatened by loss of a license. And are they hurting for business as a dry joint? Ask Miss Sally, but I doubt it.

The more initiatives I'm exposed to, the more I come to agree with those whose advice is Just Say No whenever one comes up. You might miss a couple good ones, but you'll also avoid a whole outhouse full of shitty ones. Add two to the pile!

Paul Evans gets visible at local stock car race

Hey..this is cool:

After Paul Evans works Saturday on his political race, he will see his campaign logo appear on vehicles entered in a stock-car race.

Evans, the former mayor of Monmouth and the Democratic nominee in Senate District 10, and his supporters will meet at 10:30 a.m. on the front steps of the state Capitol. They will conduct a door-to-door canvass in part of the district, which covers South and West Salem, Aumsville, Turner, Monmouth and Independence.

At 3:30 p.m., they will be at the Budweiser I-5 Challenge Series at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, where they will cheer for Ron Shinkle of Monmouth, who is defending his title as 2005 Classic Sportsman Division champion. Shinkle's cars will sport the dog-tag "Leadership for a Change"logo of Evans' campaign.

I'm wondering how bent out of shape his competition will be that Evans is going to be at the Budweiser I-5 Challenge. If Winters is using Chuck Adams (a la Minnis) as a consultant, will likely be hearing how Evans is pushing beer on little kids and sweet old ladies.

Nevertheless, this is very creative thinking on the part of the Evans Campaign. Its all about name recognition.

Well done, Paul!

Walden lies; Oregon yawns

Kari at Blue Oregon is reporting that GOP Congressman Greg Walden of the 2nd Congressional District in Oregon is lying in his latest ad:

First, Congressmen Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer proposed designating 77,500 acres of Mount Hood as protected wilderness in a bill that passed the House unanimously. Then, Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith one-upped 'em by designating 125,000 acres in a Senate bill.

Now, even before final passage, Congressman Walden is trumpeting his bill in a television spot. Watch the ad here.

There's just one problem. When Walden asks viewers to save places "like this" he's standing in front of Tamanawas Falls -- an area that's not protected by the bill.

Personally, I think its fair to bring this up. Walden's campaign is being dishonest. But in the grand scheme of things..does anyone really care about the fact that he's using deceptive video under these circumstances and parsing the language to pad his cred a wee bit? Probably not.

To be honest, I've never heard of Tamawanas Falls. I've lived in Oregon for 3/4 of my life. I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot of Oregonians who haven't heard of it either. Not that this justifies lying in an ad--but it doesn't feel a little "tempest in a teapot" to me.

I think the greater issue in the Oregon 2nd race is the fact that Walden's opponent has done virtually nothing to persuade the constituency to vote for her. In a climate where Republicans are on their heels, Carol Voisin is still largely unknown in the district. The campaign is a cypher in the media and despite repeated requests from the blogosphere, refuses to engage.

This cycle has been a complete waste for Democrats in OR-2. That's the real story here.

Blumenauer's plan to beautify the Oregon legislature gets underway

Congratulations to the recipients of the Earl Blumenauer fund to beautify the Oregon legislature (via Blue Oregon):

Even though we had originally planned on giving four winners $1,000 apiece, I've decided to go a step further and announce an extra winner. The tremendous outpouring of support, and the extremely close voting, made this an easy decision!

Cool! Five instead of four. The more the merrier.

They are:

Rob Brading (Fairview-HD49)

Brian Clem (Salem-HD21)

Jean Cowan (Newport-HD10)

Chris Edwards (Eugene-HD14)

Larry Galizio (Tigard-HD35)

There's still lots of time left to creak open your wallet and pass along some dough to a whole list of superb candidates.

PS--TJ, interrupting to mention that each winner's name now links to his or her ActBlue page, where you can make like Blumenauer and shower your financial love on Oregon's best. If you think you might, do it today--so that it shows up on their next financial report...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

OR's Prop-Rights Lesson Is WA's Better Angel

I suppose this isn't a story about Oregon per se, but we're anti-authoritarian at LO, and it does have some relevance to the state. For better or worse, Oregon is a national leader in bellwether legislation, and although its star has faded somewhat recently in that regard, it's still the home of the bottle bill and death with dignity and all-public beaches. And now, based on the number of eyes watching the fallout from implementation of Measure 37, Oregon's recent take on land-use issues is becoming bellwether legislation--a law that influences other states one way or the other in their own legislative efforts, based on the bellwether state's experience with it.

Every time one state jumps a bit off the grid, similar-minded legislatures in other states want to copy the original, like NFL coaches trying the Run n Shoot offense or '46' defense. For instance, Oregon is currently part of a multi-state rush on TABOR-style spending limit legislation, ironically based on a bellwether from over 10 years ago that Colorado has actually stopped using. But TABOR efforts are going on all over the country. Another example would be South Dakota's full ban on abortion. Several states are watching the legal scrum going on there, with an eye to trying it for themselves.

So it was with great interest to see this item from The Oregonian, liberally copped and digested from a earlier Seattle Times piece two days beforehand:
The Washington Association of Realtors says its members are deeply divided on I-933. The head of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties says the initiative is poorly drafted and could create as many problems as it solves.

Western Washington University political scientist Todd Donovan says those organizations' minimal involvement in the I-933 campaign may signal they have made their peace, to some extent, with the land-use and environmental laws that pushed them into the property-rights camp a decade ago.

"The Growth Management Act has been around a long time," Donovan says. "It's the status quo now."

Aaron Toso, spokesman for the anti-933 campaign, said many in the building and real-estate industries share opponents' concerns that the initiative would create regulatory chaos: "They see this is going to be costly and bring instability to the real-estate market."
These concerns didn't just materialize out of thin air--they've been watching what's gone on in Oregon, with all the claims and counterclaims and overwhelmed county offices and capricious decisions, and are understandably wary about copying the idea. And make no mistake; the petitioners are explicitly copying M37:
Initiative 933 was inspired by a similar measure Oregon voters approved in 2004. In many instances, it would require state and local governments to compensate property owners when regulations reduce property values — or governments would have to waive those rules.

Regulations to which the initiative's pay-or-waive requirements would apply include those that:

• Require that any portion of a property remain in its natural state.

• Restrict logging.

• Prohibit any uses that would have been legal before 1996.

I-933 is reminiscent of a measure that reached the Washington ballot in 1995 as Referendum 48. It would have required government to compensate landowners for regulations imposed for "public benefit" that reduced property values.
1996? That's an even broader recipe for trouble than Oregon's. Oregon bases its claim structure on rezonings or redrawings that happen after the landowner purchased the property. Washington's is apparently a blanket waiver on any rule promulgated since 1996, whether you lived there to be affected by it at the time or not. That's a lot larger pool of potential claimants, given how many people spend 10 years owning property (as opposed to 30 years or more, back to the genesis of most of Oregon's land management laws).

The hard facts of implementation in Oregon--particularly the issue of transferability, whereby the waiver, once secured, could be passed to a new owner for development--have effectively jolted builders from their dream of new territory ready for unfettered constructuion. The reality turned out to be just one more layer of delay and court battles in trying to get something built, one more set of paper hoops to jump through and one more set of lawyers to retain.

Astutely, from this report the building and housing industry in Washington therefore isn't gnashing its teeth for passage of I-933. Their lack of support (read: money) can only be the result of seeing Measure 37's effect on Oregon, and not liking what they see. The article tries to foment the idea that part of the lack of fight is the result of builders and developers giving up the ghost and being resigned to working under some framework of land-use rules. But their slip shows a bit--rather more cravenly, they like their profits and litigation savings better the old way:
[BIAW Exec VP Tom McCabe] said some builders are more comfortable now than they were 11 years ago operating under the state's 1990 Growth Management Act, which established urban growth boundaries and severely restricted development beyond them.

"Let's just say there are some builders that do very well when property values increase," McCabe said.[emph mine]
Are you listening, Oregon?

Update, 3pm--
In my typical late-night, half-assed way, I neglected to root around for other points of reference supporting my contention that other states are watching Measure 37's implementation warily. I should have stopped by the nicely focused blog Land Use Watch, and followed some of their coverage. I would have found and relayed items such as a Columbian editorial by the editor emeritus,warning against I-933:
Look at Oregon: After Measure 37 was passed Nov. 2, 2004, and upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court, 1,994 claims were filed, seeking $4.2 billion in compensation. That is the summary through July 7, 2006, according to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Then check out for Measure 37 effects: Bill Rose, who lives 20 miles south of Portland in the Willamette Valley, supported the measure to relax regulations. Now, a neighbor has filed a claim to convert a 40-acre berry farm into 280 houses. "Measure 37 will destroy this valley the best place to live and farm that I know of," Rose said.

Renee Ross of Molalla, southeast of Portland, liked Measure 37. Two neighbors filed claims, one to build 10 houses on 60 acres, and the other for a gravel mine on 80 acres. Clackamas County approved both. Ted Schroeder, a doctor in the Grande Ronde Valley of northeast Oregon has serious regrets: " People got bamboozled, they got suckered in. I kick myself for being so naive."
Via 1000 Friends, there's also the good news that another similar measure failed in Napa County, CA. And guess what the locals cited as the reason for such a strong defeat?
“When we looked to what has happened in Oregon, Napa voters saw through this irresponsible attempt to dismantle community protections and voted it down,” said Nicole Arnold, Solano-Napa Field Representative for Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area land conservation and urban planning non-profit organization.

Write Your Own Caption: Howard Rich Edition

Update: Troutdale City Councilor still an idiot

Apparently not having what it takes to come to LO and comment directly, Troutdale City Councilor Robert Canfield responds to us in comments to his own blog. What a dope:

I am SO ashamed of offending the lefties at Loaded Orygun! You people crack me up.

I doubt we cracked you up that much, Bob. Otherwise the tone of your response wouldn't be so defensive and you'd have addressed the very real issues I brought up.

Brading's background, as illustrious as it may be, has nothing to do with the topic at hand. And I'm not sure what his wife has to do with this topic- she isn't, as far as I know, on the library's advisory board.

The Minnis Mafia (that you're essentially defending) is accusing Brading of wanting little kids to view porn. You really think Brading's background isn't a factor in whether or not this is a legit accusation? I know I accused you of being stupid..but I honestly didn't think it went this deep, man.

But at least you're a consistent supporter of the government taking over the role as parent for our kids, if only rhetorically:

Why did Brading vote to recommend cutting off federal funds in order to bypass the requirements of CIPA?

Does Brading agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decision?

Does Brading agree with CIPA? Does he believe as the U.S. Supreme Court does, that minors should be protected from harmful internet content?

If Brading does, then why did he vote to recommend the bypass of the CIPA requirements?

Why wouldn't Brading support the library spending local dollars and allowing parents to take responsibility for their own children? Those are the kinds of ideals that Americans stand for. Why do you hate our freedoms, Bob? Why are you against the very fabric this nation was built upon? (Anyone hear the fife and drum corps playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic?)

Hey Troutdale--are you watching this? This is what you elected to help run your city!


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Troutdale City Councilor Robert Canfield: I heart the nanny state!

Apparently the City of Troutdale isn't especially picky about who it elects for City Council.

Meet Troutdale City Councilor Robert Canfield. And he even has a blog.

As with every person in the US, I defend Councilor Canfield's right to be an idiot of epic proportions. This is America, after all.

And then I get to exercise my right to call him an idiot--and tell you why!

Its apparent from Canfield's post that he believes the government knows better than parents how to monitor what their kids see on the internet at the library. Canfield also believes that local libraries should be taking federal tax dollars to implement the GOP nanny state agenda.

I don't want the government telling me how to raise my kids, Mr. Canfield. Why do you? Why are you so offended by individuals who demand that parents take personal responsibility for their own children?

This is what they see fit to elect in Troutdale, Oregon.


Reinhard: TABOR isn't TABOR because I say so

The TABOR supporters are sweating bullets. Apparently the Norquist brand of government hasn't been working out so swell.

We know this because they put their boy Reinhard out front Sunday morning to spout off about it:

This Tabor is an acronym for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights that Colorado voters passed in the early '90s. Opponents of Measure 48 -- our state's public unions and spending lobby -- would like you to think the Colorado law has something to do with the "Rainy Day Amendment" that's on this fall's Oregon ballot. It's easy to see why. Measure 48-equals-Tabor is a potent, if deceitful, political argument that goes something like this:

Measure 48 is a spending limit. So is Colorado's Tabor. Colorado's Tabor has some problems that became obvious even to its boosters in economic hard times, and Coloradans voted last November to temporarily suspend Tabor. Ergo, Oregon voters should reject Measure 48.

"We never copied" Tabor, Greg Howe, a co-author of Measure 48, told The Oregonian editorial board last Monday.

Shorter Howe: We're not copycats so neener neener.

Howe is stuck because in fact the TABOR plan for Oregon under Measure 48 is very much like Colorado's. The only difference is that monies not spent in the cap wouldn't immediately go back to taxpayers. That would likely come later when the rabid righties decide that the personal kicker isn't enough anymore after the corporate kicker is repealed.

The M48/TABOR folks want us silly socialist libruls (are you listening, Gordon Smith?) to believe that the revenue is going into a rainy day fund. Of course it doesn't actually say anything about a rainy day fund creation in the proposal they want voted in.

That's the only difference between Oregon's TABOR and Colorado's. The spending cap trap is exactly the same. But because Oregonians know what a mess it made in Colorado, the righties have to say blunt what TABOR will do to Oregon.

Reinhard tries his best at the end of his column to do just that:

Of course, if you oppose spending limits, Measure 48 is not for you. If you think Oregon's problem is that the state is just not spending enough taxpayer moolah -- and many Measure 48 critics wanted the state to spend more, even during the roaring, high-spending '90s -- limiting state spending growth to "popu-flation" is a crime against humanity. Or, at least, a crime against the public-employee unions.

But if you think it's wise to curb state spending in good times in order to stabilize funding in bad times, the proposal on this November's ballot may be your measure. Unlike Colorado's Tabor, Oregon's Measure 48 is a spending limit for all seasons.

In other words, if you oppose spending limits then you're a socialist liberal who wants to drain Oregonians dry with every frivilous government program out there.

This is the same old tired, conservative argument that brought us the Bush Administration and a GOP federal legislature. And we know what an unholy mess that's turned out to be.

Of course people wanted us to spend more in the 90s. That's when WE HAD MONEY TO SPEND. That's when we could have restored cuts to schools and increased the public safety sector with more police and firefighters. We could build roads and improve other infrastructures. We're supposed to do those things when the state economy goes on an upswing and can bring in more tax revenue.

Instead..asshats like Reinhard argue that we should return the money to taxpayers. There's never a time when the state is allowed to take in more revenue to prepare for the bad times.

David Reinhard and those like him espouse the ideology of the lowest common denominator. He just isn't man enough to tell you that himself.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wyden, Hidin'

There's no doubt Ron Wyden is one of our favorite Senators, and that'd be true whether we were lucky enough to have him represent us or not. The main reason we like him is that he's generally not afraid to step out in front on the important issues, stake his claim and hold his ground. Whether it's voting against cloture for Samuel Alito, being the first serious Democrat to propose a major overhaul of the tax system for REAL fairness, or holding up all telecomm legislature until net neutrality is passed first, once Wyden takes a position he holds no fear being public and resolute about it.

Which (you had to guess this was coming) makes the Senator's feeble response on perhaps the defining issue and race of the 2006 midterms such a head-scratcher. In the wake of last week's revelations that Joe Lieberman (Con-Lie) would hit the hustings with GOP candidates for office and refuses to endorse their Democratic House opponents, here are the questions I asked the Senator's Portland office last week:
Please ask the Senator if he believes that it's acceptable for a Democrat to appear with Republican candidates campaigning against Democratic candidates for the US House, and whether he believes Sen. Lieberman should withdraw from the race, or would benefit the party by doing so.

Will Senator Wyden ACTIVELY support the Democratic candidate for Senate in CT? With money, or campaign support? Furthermore, will the DSCC fulfill its mission statement and ACTIVELY support the Democratic candidate?
Fairly direct, I thought. But leave it to politicians to take the long way home in their spokesman-filtered answer:
Sen. Wyden has now raised millions of dollars for DSCC-supported candidates, including Ned Lamont, whom the DSCC is now actively supporting. When it comes to personal appearances, Ron is, shall we say, a bit more persuasive with Northwest voters than with Connecticut voters. This past week, Ron personally campaigned for Peter DeFazio, Ted Kulongoski, Vicky Walker, Chris Edwards, Paul Evans, Larry Galizio, Betty Komp, Brian Clem, Jeff Merkley, Chuck Lee, David Edwards and Chuck Riley. He will devote countless additional hours to campaigning for Oregon candidates (and, as DSCC Western Vice Chair, for Sen. Maria Cantwell) straight through to election day.
That's all swell, but--how shall I put this--who cares? I didn't ask whether he'd raise money for Brian Clem; I asked about Ned Lamont. There are one and a half answers to my questions here: yes-and-no (I won't support Ned with money personally, but I'll give money to the DSCC and they say Ned will get it); and no (I won't campaign for Lamont). So I tried again:
Wyden has raised money on behalf of the DSCC--but I'm talking about Wyden. He personally has a million dollars cash-on-hand, and in any case his money has more symbolic value to Lamont than monetary value. Is the Senator considering a potential personal contribution to Ned Lamont?

Does Senator Wyden believe it is appropriate for a Democrat to appear with Republican candidates who are campaigning against Democratic Party members seeking to help retake Congress for the Democrats?

Does Senator Wyden believe Senator Lieberman should withdraw?
Does Senator Wyden believe it would be best for the party and/or country to him to do so?
For my trouble, I got the note that Wyden raises all money for other Senate candidates through the DSCC, of which he is Western Vice-Chair--and a little defensiveness about the Senator's bona fides regarding his Democrat-ness. That's totally not the issue to us; we've got plenty of faith in Ron. It's JOE's faithlessness we were asking about, and here's their answer (sort of) on that:
Sen. Wyden has never called for a third-party candidate to drop out of a race (for example, he never called for any of his third-party opponents in the 1996 special election to withdraw, and that was a very tight race…and he’s not calling for Mary Starrett or anyone else to drop out of this Governor’s race). Ultimately, it’s up to the voters of Connecticut to decide; as for Sen. Wyden...he endorsed the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont.
Note how smoothly Lieberman's supreme act of petulance and entitlement was morphed by Wyden's office into just another third-party run. Ron, did any of those special election opponents already LOSE TO YOU in the primary, then run to the other side for money and endorsements while claiming he was still in your party? Mary Starrett's not at all like Joe Lieberman; the party found her, not vice-versa...and she WON her party's nomination, remember?

Finally, it may be CT's job to decide who will win the election--but it's YOUR job, Senator Wyden, to respect the party and defend it from those who wish to tarnish it and make it less effective. It's YOUR job to act with the authority of your position in party elections leadership, and to hold members--even the most senior--personally accountable for their actions against it. It's YOUR job to energetically dispute the shameful ridiculousness that electing Ned Lamont emboldens al-Qaeda.

And yet you won't, for reasons we simply cannot fathom. Why? Joe got your tongue?

Fitting the Minnis Mafia with cement shoes

On Friday, Multnomah County Judge Dale Koch failed to enact a restraining order against against the dubiously named "Friends for Safer Libraries" (a more apt name would be Karen Minnis'/Chuck Adams' Duck Blind for Throwing Shit Against The Wall To See If It Sticks).

But Judge Koch didn't leave it at that. He ordered FSL to turn over emails and other documents.

Frankly, I think this is a better outcome in the end.

We now have a discovery phase in which the connections from Chuck Adams, Tim Nashtif and the Minnis Campaign and the front group FSL can be investigated.

I'm hopeful that this will establish a precedent that campaigns can't use front groups to flout Oregon campaign laws. And it potentially gives the Brading Campaign a huge trough of Minnis Mafia goings on from which to demonstrate the unethical behavior of the Republican House Speaker.

On a related matter, the FSL people are trying a weak pushback on the issue. At their website is a woeful tale of a child who accidentally viewed pornography at the Multnomah County Library. Why this child wasn't using one of the rooms with the many filtered computers specifically designated for children is unclear. But is seems they'd prefer rest of us have to pay for the stupidity of a parent who can't follow basic library netiquette.

Its incumbent upon the parent, not the government, to monitor what children read and see. I recognize the the current crop of SCOTUS disagrees--to their discredit, IMO. This isn't really about protecting kids. If it were, there'd be avenues of discussion on how parents can do that by taking charge of their own children. Instead its about handing the government more power to regulate the lives of every day citizens..because some people aren't responsible enough to regulate their own.

Some days it doesn't pay to read the comments over at Blue Oregon

The Blue Oregon-ites have a piece highlighting a letter to the editor from a SW Portland resident who has had it with the "Gordon Smith is a moderate" bullshit.

When I surfed down to read the comments to the post, this particular David Lister one caught my eye:

My question would be: How does Gordon Smith's record of voting along Republican lines compare to Wyden's record of voting along democratic lines. Is it significantly different?

Jeezus. This makes me want to reach through my computer and throttle the crap out of Lister. No wonder the guy lost his city council race.

This isn't about voting down party lines. Its about couching Smith as a dyed-in-the-wool moderate when he quite obviously is nothing of the sort.

The Oregonian isn't working overtime to portray Wyden has a moderate. If his voting record runs down the Dem party line (which it likely does quite often), that would be in line with how he's painted in the state.

It can't possibly be that difficult to discern this point.

Kulongoski Challenges TABOR Astroturfer to Debate

Now THIS is tackling an issue head-on, and being out in front on an issue:
Portland, Ore - Today, Governor Ted Kulongoski challenged New York multi-millionaire developer Howard Rich to a debate on the proposed state spending limit, Measure 48. Rich is the chief financial backer of the Measure, frequently referred to as TABOR, which would require billions of dollars in cuts to the state budget.

"If Measure 48 passes, it will mean larger classes for our children, cuts to vital senior services, and fewer police on our streets," Governor Kulongoski said in issuing his challenge. "If Howard Rich thinks it is worth pouring millions of dollars into shaping our future, he can certainly afford a plane ticket out from New York to explain himself to the voters of Oregon." [emph mine]

As the Oregonian recently reported, Rich provided more than 85 percent of financing to get the initiative on the ballot. [8/5/06]
The part I've highlighted is simply awesome rhetoric--it not only directly challenges Rich, demanding that he put his mouth where his money is, but not-so-subtly reinforces the point that Rich's influence comes far removed from what Oregonians are experiencing at home.

The whole letter is pretty damned good (except for the pair of typos), so I'll reprint it in entirety:
August 28, 2006

Howard Rich
73 Spring Street, Suite 408
New York, NY 10012

Dear Mr. Rich:

Since you are the chief financial backer of Oregon ballot Measure 48, I invite you to Oregon to publicly debate the merits of the measure. You have already put $1.1 million dollars into this effort, so I am certain that you can afford the price of a plane ticket.

When I took office as Governor, Oregon faced a multibillion dollar budget deficit and the highest unemployment rate in the nation. I have lead the efforts to get our economy back on track and to repair the damage done to our schools, human services and public safety programs from the revenue losses we suffered during the last recession.

Measure 48 will derail these efforts. Just when our economy is recovering, Measure 48 will take us back to the days when schools had to close early, courts were cut back to four days a week, and we couldn't afford to maintain coverage for thousands of low-income working families in the Oregon Health Plan.

If this Measure passes, we will again be forced to cut billions of dollars from a budget that is barely adequate to support our schools, senior services, health care, and public safety.

For too long out-of-state special interests have used Oregon as a laboratory for their failed ideas. As Governor, I feel it is my obligation to stand up to the special interest groups you fund and protect the most vulnerable in our population - kids and seniors - who depend on services you are proposing to cut.

Your subordinates may try to help you avoid the publicity by offering to debate in your stead. I do not see such an arrangement as acceptable. If you are willing to pour millions into our state as a social experiment, the least you can do is come here and explain in person to Oregon voters why the face of our future is so important to you.

I welcome my Republican opponent join me in this discussion with you, but while he opposes this measure, he refuses to campaign against it. Please contact my campaign as soon as possible so that we can finalize arrangements for the forum.


Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski
Chuck Sheketoff couldn't have said it better himself. If the Goobernor keeps up this kind of direct approach not only will Measure 48 fail, Kulongoski will win re-election in a walk.

Oregon's Loving, Empowering Katrina Connections

One of the first reactions of a local news editor in the wake of a defining national or global event is to send his minion into the field to get "the local angle." Somehow, somebody somewhere nearby has a touching story to tell that is someway linked to the bigger one, and the reporters better find it, tenuousness of the link be damned. It's a logical idea, and one that does try to bring the story home.

Indeed, in those first few days of aftermath, they can be very interesting stories to read. But I shy away at forced-anniversary retrospectives, and as we come upon the first full year since Hurricane Katrina, I can't help but be cynical about the rush of stories this weekend--especially to know that so little has changed, and so little has been written about it in the interim. And even now it fights Jon-Benet Ramsey for TV time and column inches.

But on Friday I read a fine story that not only involved Oregon people, but Oregon ideals being offered in a way to teach citizens of New Orleans how to fish, so to speak--helping neighborhoods form associations from which they could begin to gain control of their area's destiny. My Katrina contributions were done through Mercy Corps, and it's such a pleasant thought to know that they didn't just do the acute disaster relief work they're known for, but have stuck around to help defend residents from the carpetbaggers:
Into this mix come developers. Before the hurricane, "we couldn't even get the potholes fixed," [local activist Tricia] Jones said. Now "developers are breaking their tails to get over here to acquire that land."

Property values are rising, and many displaced homeowners are vulnerable to low-ball offers from speculators. Many residents have paid off their homes and, now elderly and living on a fixed income, can't afford to pay the second mortgage necessary to rebuild...
I intended to write about that one story this weekend, but before I could do it three more had appeared in Sunday's O, each as personable and somehow important as the first. I certainly didn't intend a Katrina-Oregon retrospective to be something I'd write about, but my conscience is still a little raw from rewatching on HBO how badly we collectively let down our fellow Americans last summer.

At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC you travel in a circular fashion up four floors through unspeakable horror...and then crest in an exhibit of personal sacrifice and acts of life-saving heroism that rescues the human spirit from itself, at least partly. If you've been newly repulsed by the reminder of what happened on the Gulf Coast a year ago, maybe these items will cut through some of the despair and restore a little humanly faith:

  • Here's one about an organically blooming partnership between Corvallis and Portland residents that started out as a vague idea of helping to build a Habitat for Humanity home, but ended up being a huge project to open a free clinic. Like the Mercy Corps story, it's the kind of concrete, forward-looking relief that it seems the government agencies still aren't able to fully provide. And also like that story, it wasn't a group barging in and deciding what they'd do--they asked the people who would be most affected what they wanted, and adjusted to their requests. The people of New Orleans more than anything may need the confidence that they can get what they want if they stand together and don't wait for the government to help.

  • Some of Oregon's most well-off young people are getting a chance to see the realities of life close up as they spend summertime helping on the Gulf Coast. I could take or leave the ministry that surely went along with their assistance, but bitching about the method sullies the good works being done so I'll leave that alone. Kudos to the parents for shattering their kids' safety bubbles:
    [Teen Lauren] Marschall remembered her first mission as a freshman. "I did not want to go," she said. But her mom put her on a bus to a Montana reservation anyway. "I was so mad at her," Marschall said.

    A week later, she called to thank her mom. "I understand a lot more things about myself and about God. It was eye-opening," she said. Now she sees the mission work as a "privilege." The students don't have such opportunities to help others in their hometowns, which are among the wealthiest communities in Oregon. "It gave me a better grasp on reality," Bernal said. "Every time I go, it's a reality check."
  • As much as art can be therapy and reconnect a community to itself, this exhibit of Katrina-warped photography by Corbett artist Thomas Kieffer shows how even the expressions of disaster can create something beautiful. The chemicals in the toxic sludge that flooded the city altered Kieffer's finished photographs--but out of the destruction came something new.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Spanning the State--Is it raining yet? edition

Is anyone else about done with the hot weather? I live in Oregon for a reason, dammit.

Ah well. I have to get outside before it gets too hot. I've got bulbs to plant, deadheading to do and a bunch of dahlias that need cut and brought in to the house. So I'll stop my weather whining and commence with Spanning the State!


The Wasco County Sheriff is sounding a little more than grumpy toward the folks running the government in Salem. It seems there's a study going on to see if more cuts can be had to the State Police. But no one is asking Sheriff Eisland how he feels about counties having to pick up the slack if there aren't any more State Police Officers to patrol the area. So far Eisland can't find a single sheriff in Oregon that supports the move. But hey..its only public safety--what's a few more cuts? I'm sure those asshats who support TABOR won't mind seeing accidents caused by drunk drivers or massive speeding. What's a few more dead bodies on the freeways if it means lower taxes, right?

The paper in Sisters is all fires, all the time. They've even got folks from down under helping out. Not to mention the waxing reminiscent over the now defunct Black Crater Fire. And for those of you who thought smoke was good for your lungs, there's even an educational public service to disabuse you.

The Oregon State Fair is underway down in Salem. Last night the event drew in a myriad of concert goers who weren't there for the usual fair fare of country twang. They came to rock to the sounds of the Violent Femmes, Cake and the Decemberists. What a weird combination: livestock, mohawks, homemade jam and nipple piercings. Wow.

Another frivilous effort to abuse the recall system fails. This time in Mitchell.

Portland's Jewish Review contains an indepth piece about mounting anger in Israel over the way their government handled the war with Lebanon. Public protest is building, led by reserve Israeli soldiers. According to the story, "The reservists complain that operative plans were continually changed and that the military objectives were not clear". Sounds familiar, eh?

Over at Willy Week, Byron Beck writes the hell out of this piece on the weekly Storm Large report at Local Cuts. Byron and I both want to smack the Supernova band. What a bunch of twits. But Byron slays their ass kissing of Dilana beautifully: They’re so far up Dilana’s ass I’m surprised we can’t see their horns popping through the top of her head. That's exactly what I'd say if I could think of how to phrase it. Damn you for being better than me, Byron!

You know your town is boring (not to be confused with Boring) when the big news event of the week is the re-opening of a Rite-Aid. Zzzzzzzz

Folks up north in Walla Walla are bracing for an explosion of growth. And they're looking toward Bend, Oregon as example of what NOT to do. Some residents of Walla Walla believe that Bend has sacrificed its local charm, liveability and character in service to the almighty dollar.

Some homeowners in Eugene are learning the meaning of caveat emptor the hard way.

I'm a little late in noticing this LaGrande Observer editorial about Westlund's exit from the goobernor race. But I couldn't resist when I saw the headline: SAXTON BROADENS BASE AS WESTLUND EXITS CAMPAIGN. Uh....really? Maybe we'd better send the Observer editorial board a link or or two to LO. Or maybe they could just try the O's political blog. I don't know what polling they're reading over in LaGrande, but it sure as hell seems to be a far sight away from reality.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mike Caudle, King of the Oregon Netroots

I watched Markos Moulitsas on Bill Maher this evening, and Maher tipped his hand early by pushing the tired line about him being a kingmaker. Could you not even head to the website and seen for yourself? For whatever it is with flaws and pluses, it's one of the least top-down oriented blogging experiences. It's a vast and sometimes out of control community that feeds on a Red Bull-amped jones for some kind of data or quote or fundraising news or embarassing video or dirty trick...but it's not kos's plaything.

LO is much more the typical blogmodel--one or more people talking at you and trying to keep you informed and entertained while feeding their Red Bull amped jones for...yeah. But we've got a fine community, and it seems some of you have been generous to the point of making a little netroots giving history.
In the month since ActBlue, a federal PAC and website that enables anyone to fundraise for the Democratic candidates of their choice, opened its virtual doors to candidates for state office in Oregon, Caudle has raised more money through the service than any other Democrat in the state. In fact, Caudle’s neary $500 in online contributions from 17 unique donors ranks him among the most prolific online fundraisers of any
state House candidate in the country.
I noticed this a while ago. If you go to the ActBlue page for Oregon state house candidates, you'll see that not only is Caudle outpacing everyone else's returns from the process, he's being nice: he's crushing everyone else combined, and sadly I have yet to find anyone who has ANY money raised this way. Look up the candidates deemed hot picks these days: Arnie Roblan--nothing. Jean Cowan--nope. Chris Edwards--bupkus. Dan Thackaberry, Brian Clem, Sal Peralta, Tobias Read, Larry Galizio, Tina Kotek, Rob Brading. Rob Brading? The Great White Hope of Oregon progressives has zero dollars contributed electronically through one of absolute key tools of the netroots fundraising revolution? And the guy the party keeps kind of half-heartedly supporting for lack of confidence and competitive vision, he's got $500 from 17 people. That's not going to beat Wayne Scott by itself, but $0 sure as hell isn't either.

The strategy of engaging and empowering people looking for a confident shift in direction based on common sense, and using small viral technologies like moneyraising at the retail level, is taking candidates large and small into office around the country. The blogosphere as instigator and conduit for connecting local politicians with voters can work at a very small level, with low financial inputs and low-level engagement. It's word of mouth on the cheap, but as Mike proves it more than pays for itself. I don't reprint this to be immodest, but to make a point, which I'll do afterwards:
Much of this success is tied to the efforts of two
political blogs. Loaded Orygun, a popular progressive
blog in the state, offers its readers an opportunity
to donate to Caudle’s campaign through a link on its
website. The Blue America communities, a coalition of
three leading national political blogs that has raised
more than $160,000 for candidates around the country,
recently added Caudle as one of just two state
legislative candidates it is supporting.
Now I know BlueAmerica was a big push for him, and much of his netroots money must be from there. But he seems to be saying that the button we have to donate to Mike Caudle in our sidebar has resulted in people giving him money. That's outstanding. And you know how he made that money? Because Caudle and campaign manager Jonathan Singer asked me to put it there. Carla and I haven't decided on a donations policy--whether it would be open door or at some kind of endorsing discretion or maybe just to limit the clutter--but we haven't had to. I put up Carol Voisin's page link (which no one from here has hit on) because she's getting hammered by Walden on money, so the only candidate in the entire state who's asked we've been happy to say yes to. Use the tubes, people! Follow Mike's lead and begin pushing your message up from the bottom.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Minnis campaign "push polling" against Brading

Apparently its not enough to get your ass handed to you for sending out mailers that lie about Rob Brading, Karen Minnis and Chuck Adams are push polling with those same lies:

Before the piece was distributed, I was telephoned to participate in a survey. I was told good things about Karen Minnis and Rob Brading. Then the interviewer asked if I were told that Rob Brading was responsible for children viewing Internet porn in the Multnomah County Library, would I be more or less apt to vote for Rob Brading.

For those of you still operating under the delusion that Karen Minnis has nothing to do with the "Rob Brading wants little kids at the library to view porn" campaign tactic--time to wise up.

Billy Dalto's "almost fraud" finally makes the MSM

Thanks to TA Barnhart at Blue Oregon, I found out that the Statesman Journal picked up on the story of Billy Dalto hiring his mother and the income not declared on her bankruptcy statements:

Democrats and liberal bloggers are attacking state Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, for hiring his mother -- a Latin jazz vocalist from New York City -- as his legislative aide last summer, just as she was experiencing financial woes.

The issue could pose a problem for Dalto's re-election race against Democrat Brian Clem. It widely is considered one of a handful of House races that could tilt control of the chamber in November.

Republicans control the House with a 33-27 majority, but Democrats expect to make gains in the fall.

Dalto said the race should hinge on issues facing his constituents in east and central Salem, not his mother, a nonpolitician.

"This is a concerted effort by the Democrats to practice the politics of personal destruction to try and get the House back," Dalto said.

Clem said he will steer clear of discussing the financial problems of Adela Dalto, a veteran performer and recording artist. But Clem polled district residents about Billy Dalto's hiring decision and said the issue resonates with many voters.

There is a legitimate issue about Adela Dalto's lack of qualifications and "inordinate" pay, Clem said, because public money covered her salary.

"I do think he's got some questions to answer," Clem said.

Nepotism common

Legislator hiring of family members to run their Salem offices is a widely accepted practice in Oregon because legislators are paid only $17,244 per year and often are separated from spouses while toiling full-time during legislative sessions.

"I think that's a smart move for some of them," said Dawn Phillips, who has worked as an aide for 12 lawmakers. "A lot of these legislators look for someone who was by their side through thick and thin through other sides of their life. That's who they trust."

A recent survey showed that 13 of the 30 state senators hired family members and that 24 of the 60 House members did the same, said legislative administrator Dave Henderson.

Lawmakers are free to hire who they want at the salaries they choose within a limited budget. Staff salaries range from $200 per month for part-time duties to $3,500 or $4,000 per month for full-time work, Henderson said.

Dalto said he was in a bind when his aide left before the 2005 session ended. So he hired his mother to answer phones, check mail and e-mail, make calls and help constituents.

"I was kind of stuck without a legislative aide," he said. "I trust my mom."

He paid his mother the equivalent of $3,500 per month for nearly three months' work, compared with $2,600 paid to her predecessor.

Bankruptcy complicates issue

The issue grew political legs July 28, when liberal blog Loaded Orygun revealed that Adela Dalto had filed for bankruptcy right after she was hired by her son and failed to report her legislative income in bankruptcy filings.

Better late than never.

Its unfortunate that the Steve Law, the writer of the SJ piece didn't contact me for a quote, at least. Especially given that he published Dalto's lame-assed response from our comments:

Dalto also felt compelled to submit a response on the Loaded Orygun blog.

"My mother is a very special lady who had some financial trouble," he wrote, "and this attack is hurtful and bad enough, but to use it as a campaign issue is an obvious sign of desperation."

What a load.

I didn't attack Billy Dalto's mother. I don't care that he hired her (except that he paid her a lot more for the job compared to what he's paid previous staffers). I don't care that she had financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy--not my business. What I care about is that she filed bankruptcy while accepting Oregon taxpayer dollars and then didn't declare that income.

I also find it very difficult to believe that Billy Dalto didn't know of his mother's situation. Yes, that means I think he's lying. He was close enough to her to bring her all the way across the country to work for him at an inflated salary. But he's not close enough to her to know that she's in serious financial trouble?

That doesn't add up.

But at least the story is out there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Write Your Own Caption--Kelly Clark edition

Breaking--SoS Tells Clark to Shut Up; Starrett Remains

from the AP wires...
State officials said Thursday they won't take minor party gubernatorial contender Mary Starrett off the Nov. 7 ballot despite a complaint by a Republican lawyer who said her party's nomination process was flawed.

The elections complaint, filed Friday by West Linn attorney Kelly Clark, asserts that the Constitution Party failed to properly publicize the party's June 3 convention in Lake Oswego, where Starrett was nominated for governor.

In a letter Thursday to Clark, the Oregon attorney general's office said the alleged violation — even if it's found to be true — "would not disqualify the challenged nominee from the ballot."

"Especially in light of the posture and timing of the alleged procedural defect, exclusion from the ballot would not be an appropriate remedy," the attorney general's office said.
"even if found to be true"--man, that's generous of Bradbury AG Hardy Meyers. As was pointed out last year (and we told you earlier this week), the violation doesn't even apply.

The article notes that Clark claims he will file a complaint in Marion County Circuit court, an angle that worked in 2004 when challenging county candidates from the CP, but which the state has already said is irrelevant for statewide candidates.

We're in contact with Mary to see if we can get a copy of the letter; the party was cc'ed on last year's version. And when there's an official filing in court, we'll try to get our hands on that. And we're scheduling some time to talk to Starrett about the episode and her campaign in general, too. We should have a good ol' time bitching about "the neocons" together...! Starrett almost seems to be enjoying this; her comment on the potential filing was "I MUST BE STOPPED!!!"

Update, 3pm--
I called the AG's office, and got a bit of a "we're still looking to see if it's releasable; we'll call you back" runaround. Apparently it got releasable quickly, because Jeff Mapes of The O has it up at Political Blog {pdf}. I smell traditional media favoritism (or Mapes got it from Clark's people...)!

The letter was actually written by David Leith, out of Deputy AG Peter Shepherd's office. In it, he clarifies that an official response on the complaint will come from Bradbury's office, but as noted above, it has already decided that even a validated complaint wouldn't cause him to remove Starrett from the ballot. So we get to look forward to another likely smackdown letter after Labor Day.

Breaking: Brading campaign files legal request against Chuck Adams and front group

Attorney Jeff Merrick is filing a request for a restraining order on behalf of the Rob Brading campaign. Its against Karen Minnis' paid attack dog Chuck Adams and front group Friends For Safer Libraries. The request for the order is in response to the mailing accusing Brading of wanting little kids to view porn on Multnomah County Library computers.

More information on which court, the exact nature of the request/complaint and anything else I can dig up as it makes it to me.

Update (11:20): The court filing is with Multnomah County Court for the State of Oregon, according to initial sources.

Update (11:42): A hearing on the matter is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30 PM at the Multnomah County Courthouse.

Update (4:08): Janie Har at the O's political blog has more detail on the specifics of the filing:

The complaint, filed by attorney Jeff Merrick in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges the political committee and consultant Chuck Adams are responsible for “a false statement of material fact” in violation of state campaign finance law.

I actually had this information earlier today, but didn't quite understand what I was reading. This complaint would fall under ORS 260.532.

Ron Saxton: Not allowing truth to slow him down!

The wanna-be goobernor of the GOP strain is having a bit of trouble with the truth.

SaxtonWatch has the goods...but here are the lowlights:

Oregonian's Average Income Ron claimed that Oregon's average income ranks 38th in America. It's actually 29th, and, perhaps more relevant to the gubernatorial race, average personal income for Oregonians has increased nearly $3,000 (10 percent) since Governor Kulongoski took office.

Law Enforcement in Oregon Ron told the paper that "citizens in Oregon have less police protection per capita than any other state in the nation." Not even close to true. According to the most recent data from the Department of Justice, Oregon was 14th in the nation in per capita expenditures on public safety.

Growth in State Government Ron also claimed state government has grown 150% in "recent years." If by recent years he means the last decade, then the total state budget is up 131 in real dollars since 1997. And not to forget that the population of Oregon has also increased 113 percent during that period.

He's got no strings on Geppetto?

(Is that too esoteric a reference? I'm soooo old...)

Bang your forehead against the wall and what do you get? A bloody forehead

Its been one of those weeks where no matter how hard I try not to get pissed off at local media, its apparently unavoidable. I've considered that it might be part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's master plan to push me over the edge in an attempt to thwart my modest efforts here. Or perhaps Bill Sizemore has finally taken over the state via ballot measure fiat and local newspapers were folded in to sweeten the deal.

First there was the mystery meat equivalent of emailing local print media mini-mogul Dwight Jaynes. Then there's TJ's own bloody forehead courtesy of the Oregonian, which he deftly replies to below.

And now its another email exchange, this time between myself and Gresham Outlook Publisher Mark Garber. I emailed Garber to let him know that I had blogged about the editorial in his paper. I wrote to him thusly:

Dear Mr. Garber:

I wrote a blog post today taking umbrage with the editorial in the Gresham Outlook regarding the Minnis-Brading issue.

There is definitive evidence that at least one individual paid by the Minnis Campaign helped to draft the language in the mailing that went out against Brading:

In addition, another of Minnis' closest advisors (I don't know if he's paid by Minnis or not) also helped to draft the mailer. This information comes from an interview with (name withheld) of Friends for Safer Libraries that was conducted in conjunction with the blog piece I wrote. Janie Har from the Oregonian also investigated this and wrote it up as well.

I believe that the editorial that was published in the Outlook is incorrect and that your paper owes Rob Brading an apology.


I'm so fucking polite, aren't I?

Garber replied rather quickly. I don't know if he's got so many emails that he's drafted a canned response or if he's a kick ass typist. But here it is:

Hi Carla:
The editorial clearly stated that people sympathetic to Minnis were
responsible for the piece. It also said that the charges against Brading
were ridiculous. The purpose of the editorial was to caution both sides
against going down the negative road they went down in 2004.
I have no confidence that either side will pay heed to that advice.
However, your conclusion that the editorial was an attack on Brading is
inaccurate. I have a lot of respect for Rob and in fact serve on the
Library Advisory Board with him.
I think you are viewing this through a partisan prism, whereas I'm trying
to maintain a sense of balance.
I interviewed Manning, who said she never spoke with or met Minnis. I
interviewed Minnis, who said that she had nothing to do with the piece in
question. Unless you want to accuse her of lying, the fact that two of her
allies are involved doesn't change my conclusion that she wasn't
personally responsible, which are the words I used in the editorial. Rob
chose to elevate the issue now so that he could dispense with it early in
the campaign. That may yet prove to be smart political strategy, but it
probably won't sit well with supporters of the library, who are trying to
pass a levy in November and would have preferred that this issue not be
raised to this threshold.
Although we spliced it for the web site, the editorial was part of a
longer piece that dealt with negative campaigning in general.
It is somewhat amusing to be accused of having a conservative bias, since
90 percent of the time our readers accuse us of the opposite.
Anyway, I did enjoy your blog entry.
Best regards,
Mark Garber

I'm not sure where I accused the guy of having a conservative bias. But maybe my why-are-you-ignoring-obvious-direct-connections-to-Minnis-which-are-right-in-front-of-your-face hit a nerve. Only Mark can say for certain.

By this time, its pretty obvious that I'm banging my head against a wall with this person. But not being one to let a cracked skull get me down, I've pushed on:

Dear Mr. Garber:

Thank you very much for your reply. I'm sure your office gets lots of emails. I appreciate you taking the time to give me such a detailed response.

While I understand that the editorial was framed to suggest the mailing went out from people sympathetic to Minnis, its very clear from my research that this goes much deeper than that. These are not just folks who support her.

Chuck Adams is paid by the Minnis Campaign and has been in her employ for quite some time. Mr. Adams is directly responsible for drafting the mailing. Adams put together a PAC just last cycle to make the exact same accusations against Brading--while under the employ of the Minnis Campaign. And somehow back then Minnis didn't know about it either. Weird coincidental pattern, eh?

Tim Nashtif is a long term advisor to the Minnis Campaign as well--and is also directly responsible for drafting the mailing. These aren't part of an independent group.

Either Minnis knew all about this and is lying or she is unaware of what her closest campaign workers and advisors are doing to smear her opponent. If she is unaware of this very public smearing--what else are they doing that she's unaware of? Neither scenario is especially comforting.

In addition if Minnis is not personally involved, why is she refusing to condemn such scurrilous attacks against her opponent--despite the fact that last cycle she apologized for these same attacks (conveniently after the election ended)?

I also understand that you would like to see less negative campaigning. Unfortunately, negative campaigning has been shown to be highly effective. Until the voters decide that they'll stop electing candidates who campaign this way, it will continue. Chastizing the candidates won't end this practice.

I sincerely hope that you consider a deeper investigation on this matter. Its unfortunate when local papers allow such campaigning to go on without reporting the full story.


No reply yet. But I don't expect The Mountain to move. Not many local print media figures that I've dealt with are in any hurry to gobble down their deserved plate of crow.

In the meantime, I've got to go ice my bloody forehead.

Not The Coverage of Smith I Had in Mind, Oregonian

Back in July when the reworking of Gordon Smith, Ignoregonian was published as a guest commentary in The Oregonian, I didn't really expect the paper to suddenly discover that they'd been giving our junior Senator a free pass for most of the 109th session, and begin more ardently scrutinizing the relationship between his public statements and his votes on the floor. Despite it being well-received as far away as inside the DC Beltway (or so one such insider told me yesterday), one lousy article wasn't going to actually make the editorial board seriously rethink their practice of pretending that Smith walks some kind of moderate tightrope.

That pragmatic realization didn't keep me from retching into my coffee yesterday, as I read the front-page headline Smith Stands for Beliefs on Middle Ground. Are you trying to taunt me, Oregonian? The piece opens with a supposedly deep conversation about the pros and cons of net neutrality (none of which we were actually made privy to), a concept Smith rejected in his capacity on the Commerce committee. There was one GOP defector, but otherwise Republicans voted in lockstep to prevent legislation that would keep all internet traffic on an even delivery footing. Part of the rationale, as Ted "series of tubes" Stevens indicated, was a desire not to mess up the chance for passage of the broader telecommunications bill the net neutrality provision was to be a part of. All right, fair enough I suppose--Smith didn't want to be in the position of voting yes on a bill that contained something he opposed.

I can only assume The O's fawning reporter failed to do any research on Smith's voting history regarding netneut ANWR, or he wouldn't have let Smith get away with utter claptrap like this:
[Smith] says every vote is guided by core stances that haven't changed since he was first elected in 1996.

"I call them as I see them as they come up for votes," Smith says, "and hope that on balance I'm making a majority of Oregonians happy a majority of the time."
During his 2002 campaign, Smith sided with environmentalists and opposed drilling there. And whenever the Senate voted specifically on drilling in the refuge, Smith voted against it. That angered Republican supporters of drilling.

But last year, Smith voted for a budget bill that contained a provision to allow drilling. That enraged environmentalists.

Smith says the budget bill contained his provision to prevent drastic Medicaid cuts and to provide much-needed funding to the military.

"Every time drilling has come up stand-alone, I have voted against it or to pull it out of the bill," Smith says. "But when it came up last time, it was attached to the reconciliation bill in which I had fought very hard for my view of Medicaid reform."

The vote represents Smith's philosophy on legislating.

"I will not govern on the basis of a single issue," he says. "I'm not an ideologue. You have to weigh the good and the bad in each bill and find out where the scales bring you out."
So when it came to netneut, it was too unpalatable to vote yes on a bill that might contain something he didn't necessarily want. But for ANWR, something he had promised Oregonians he would vote against, suddenly it became OK to suffer a poison pill? And what does "governing on the basis of a single issue" have to do with breaking his promise? I don't recall him saying "I'll vote against drilling...unless it's tied to something else that I want, in which case fuck Alaska."

The reporter also finds a way to make fighting for smaller Medicaid cuts (so he could help retain tax cuts skewed towards the wealthy) sound like a principled stand to save the program. But the most galling part of the story was the feeble attempt to point out what I noted in the op-ed: when it came time to vote on a number of bills designed entirely to excite the conservative base, Smith tossed his moderation away like a peach pit and voted just like Rick Santorum and Ted Stevens. The reporter calls the votes "controversial," but makes no effort to place them in their proper context--they were show votes everyone knew from the jump had no chance of passing.

What were Smith's excuses? "I promised the veterans I'd vote for" banning flag desecration. (No comment on whether he'd have voted for it if it were part of a bill cutting Medicaid). But what really bugged me was his ridiculous spin on the vote to place discrimination into the federal Constitution by banning same-sex marriage:
"I'm the sponsor of more gay-rights legislation in the Senate than any other Republican, but I have always told Oregon where I draw the line, and that's at marriage," Smith says. "And guess what: that's where Oregon draws the line, too."
You insufferable ass, Oregon drew the line for OREGON. Not only would a federal amendment have zero effect on Oregon's ban already in place, it would theoretically invalidate the will of voters in other states such as Massachusetts. There's absolutely no evidence that Oregonians wanted what Smith was doing, which was to ban it for everyone, everywhere--and for him to suggest that he was doing his constituency's bidding is a total crock of butter-like spread. And then he calls a majority of Oregonians believers in "socialism." Yeah, nothing says you're a fighter against socialism like deciding for an entire country which behaviors are good and proper--and nothing screams "moderate" like distorting the debate by tossing around words like socialism. As if!

So thanks for printing my piece, Oregonian--next time when you're typesetting a guest commentary, you might want to READ the fucking thing, too.

(Kudos to Ron at Middle Earth Journal, and the relatively new Cwech Blug for calling BS on The O's piece as well. Cwech does a nice job explaining the idea that Smith's purported moderacy is mostly a mask for how monolithic the Republican vote actually is.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ted on Debates: Bring it, Ronnie!

Perhaps Goobernor Ted Kulongoski is feeling a little frisky after yesterday's polling results from Rasmussen that showed him with a double digit lead over his Republican challenger Ron Saxton. Perhaps he's never felt this confident about re-election, and wants to press his advantage. Or perhaps he's totally on the sauce and blurted out instructions to his staffers just before blacking out.

Whatever the reason, Kulo has taken the fairly unorthodox position for an incumbent that more is better when it comes to debates:
"With five debates covering a statewide audience and a range of issues for discussion, Oregonians will have multiple opportunities to see a clear contrast between the candidates for governor," said campaign manager Jim Ross. "The dozens of requests we received demonstrate the public's interest in this election and this debate schedule will let us reach voters in every part of Oregon."
Pretty ballsy, but possibly also pretty smart. In a race where both candidates are relatively well known, the risk that voters will be introduced to the challenger and form a favorable first impression is lessened. Kulo's people also may be betting that some of Saxton's proposals are likelier to hurt him than help him, such as his prior suggestion to fire all state workers and rehire them as a way to "reform" PERS, or yesterday's idea to let Portland-area school kids choose any school in the region regardless of residency.

But one often runs into danger trying to worry about the other guy. The best reason for agreeing to five debates, may be that what holds Kulongoski back from greater and stronger popularity is the perception that he's been a cipher in his first term. By showing up to debate so many times, he can feed the idea that he is in fact engaged, does have a plan, and isn't hiding out at Mahonia Hall.

Here's when you can catch Ted v Ron hashing it out for our putative benefit:
Sponsor: Oregon Public Broadcasting/Stand for Children/Children's Institute/Children First for Oregon
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2006
Time: Afternoon - specific time TBD
Broadcast: Open to the media and broadcast live to a statewide audience on radio; re-broadcast on OPB television.

Sponsor: City Club of Portland
Date: Friday, October 13, 2006
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Broadcast: Open to the media and delayed-broadcast to a statewide audience on OPB radio and television.

Sponsor: KGW/The Oregonian
Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Broadcast: Broadcast live on NW Cable News (statewide) and KGW Channel 8 (Portland)

Sponsor: KOBI
Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Broadcast: Broadcast live on KOBI Channel 5 (Medford) and KLSR Channel 34 (Eugene)

Mike Caudle Interview, Part Two

Welcome back to our interview with Mike Caudle, the Democrat challenging House Majority Leader Wayne Scott for the 39th District seat that includes Oregon City and Canby. We talked in Part One about his motivations for entering the race, his views on Scott's negative impact to his district, and his positions on some of the more notable Oregon issues. In Part Two we shift gears a little and talk about the race itself and also his personal connection to the district, including an impassioned sales job for community colleges.

Rob Brading has a special place in the legislative elections, since he's running against Speaker Minnis. You are working to essentially oust the #2 man in the House. Do you feel a larger sense of party purpose in your candidacy? or is it that Mike is just a better choice than Wayne?
I would love to tell you I'm running to make a real change in how Salem works in general. If I had a list of goals, that'd be the dream goal. But in the middle of the campaign, I'm running because I think my politics fit this district better than Wayne's. I don't think Wayne is in touch with what's happening on a day to day basis with the vast majority of our citizens, and that's why I'm in this race. The larger benefit is huge: if I can manage to beat Wayne, that is a coup for the party, and that's important. That's a direction we need to be heading, we need to have a majority in the state House of Representatives.
Are Jeff Merkeley and the House Dems working with you as a key candidate in taking down the Republican power structure?
I don't have regular conversations with Jeff; he and I have sat down and met. I sit down 3 times a a week maybe with Representative Hunt. He's been--because he's closer, we talk on the phone all the time, we strategize and prioritize. He's given me a ton of support. He's come out and endorsed my campaign...he's been really helpful. Incredibly supportive. And Rob too, he's really excited and motivated.
Community college has obviously been an important thing for you personally. What kind of general role do you think they play in a district like yours, and in what ways do you believe you can support their mission as a legislator?
Community colleges play a huge role in every community, but I believe particularly in this community. They're open enrollment institutions; everyone gets in. It's a fresh start, it's a new beginning, it's a chance to move forward. They're low cost so if you want to get a low cost start to your bachelor's degree, you can do that. If you've been laid off or downsized or outsourced, you can go back at a low cost and get retrained in a professional, technical career. They play a huge role in terms of the education of the area.

But they also play a role in a ton of other ways. Our relationships with business--we have a small business development center, and we have a greenhouse program for starting small businesses. English as a Second Language programs--every segment of this community is touched by Clackamas Community College up on the hill there. It's a key piece of the district's economy, and its vitality, well being and health.

As far as what I can do, I think there are two things I can do: One, is to continue to be a huge advocate for education in general, and community college as a great place to start that education. And then, helping other legislators understand the different roles they play. Community colleges are an amazing bang for your buck investment.

There is still a need for increased financial aid for the people who are most needy. We have a program called Swindell Scholars on our campus for part time students who are highly motivated who may not be in college otherwise, who are working. It's a small program, 15 students, but you can see on a macro scale how that starts to play itself out.
What makes the Canby-OC area special to you? Where's your favorite place in the District to go?
I've lived here most of my life. Graduated from Canby High School, and living in Oregon City now. I think probably, maybe every person running for State Rep says this, but it's what I believe: It's a really unique community, because you've got the suburbia folks living in a development who are commuting into Portland every day, just trying to earn a living, matched with a lot of rural, farm, down home, country good living [--people who go to Portland every day, and people who never go to Portland...?] exactly!

Canby's a perfect example. You go from a HUGE Fred Meyer's and a Starbucks, to Millar's Highway Tire. With honestly, a big tractor sitting out front. They're servicing BMW's and SUVs and tractors and's an interesting community, both communities are interesting, and it's a really great place to be from. By nature, the people you interact with come from all those different areas. It's not the same type of vibrancy maybe that NW 23rd would claim that it has, but it's a really interesting, eclectic, set of communities. Hard working, really good living....

I love the river down here on the Willamette. I love the drive out to my parent's place...they don't live in this district, but they live on the other side of Canby from here. My house with my family is probably my favorite place right now, because I don't see them often enough. The rural parts of the county and out towards the no-man's land in between Canby and Oregon City, it's so beautiful. Sunday morning, driving out to my parent's place, it's amazing. Sun's coming's awesome.
Your website shows an extensive resume' of volunteer work. What's been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
Can I pick two? I love coaching. I coach wrestling at the local high school here. I like coaching, I love wrestling...wrestling brings in a unique type of guy. There's the really academic guy, smart, motivated, driven. And then you've got the kids who don't have the best home life or got a lot of stuff going on...they want some place to--physically, and within the rules--get all that aggression out. Just to have the opportunity to be a positive male influence in a young man's life is awesome. I wouldn't trade that for anything under the sun.

And then, I really enjoy the work that we've been doing with March of Dimes. Obviously that's been near and dear to me, around prematurity and all that kind of stuff. We do the March of Dimes walk every year, and it's just amazing...we bump into people we haven't seen in a year. And it's instantly right back to that place where we remember what we were going through and how hard it is, and how important it is for us to be spreading that message.
Clearly Caudle has an uphill battle--Scott is entrenched, empowered and old school. And based on the polling results, Caudle is virtually unknown in his district except by the very young and very old. However, Scott's support is amazingly soft and independents have an even more unfavorable view of him than Democrats. If Caudle can establish any kind of name recognition, he could take advantage of a general surge by Democratic voters and take the seat. Once you talk to him, he becomes an easy sell.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Rasmussen: Kulo Gaining, GOP Flailing

In what hopefully will continue to be a monthly iteration, Rasmussen Reports has released a new poll on the OR goobernatorial race, along with some odds and ends on the national scene. If your political parachute is blue, the news is all good:
[The survey shows] incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski is on the move while Republican challenger Ron Saxton remains in limbo. The current survey shows Kulongoski ahead 49% to 35%...Kulongoski’s lead last month was 45% to 35%.

Saxton earned support from 41% of voters in May—immediately after his primary win —but he has since taken a tumble and is holding steady at 35% for the second straight month. Kulongoski’s numbers have risen steadily during that same period. Only two points separated the candidates in May; the incumbent governor now leads by double digits.
Twelve percent (12%) of voters report a very favorable opinion of Kulongoski versus 9% for Saxton. On the other side of the spectrum, 16% say they have a very unfavorable view of the governor and 22% say the same of his challenger.
Don't mind us as we offer a little "told you so" on this one; we minimized the long term effects after the primary and figured that Ted would bounce back from his low point, and that the deck remained stacked against both Westlund AND Saxton. Yay us. Look at those approval/disapproval figures! I wish Rasmussen had published the full result on that question, but it's still fascinating to see that almost one in four Oregonians "strongly disapprove" of Saxton.

There are still 11 weeks to Election Day, but as long as Ted doesn't do anything stupid, and Saxton continues to say dumb things to the electorate like "let's allow kids go to any school district in the Portland area!" (as he did in today's print version of The O Tuesday's Trib), Ted should keep his throne for another few years. Let's just hope he doesn't fade back into the woodwork once the election's over.

Also interesting in the poll are some questions that we rarely get to see solid Oregon-only numbers on:
Most Oregon voters (53%) strongly disapprove of President Bush’s job performance. Just 20% strongly approve.

When asked about managing the nation’s economy, 52% say they trust the Democrats in Congress more than the President. Thirty-three percent (33%) chose President Bush. Congressional Democrats also beat the president when it comes to matters of trust regarding national security and the war in Iraq (48% to 37%.)

Only 36% believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror. Thirty-five percent (35%) say the terrorists are winning and 26% say neither side has the advantage.
That's not a 53% total against Bush; it's a majority of Oregonians who strongly disapprove of the job he's doing. When half the electorate thinks you outright suck ass, you've come close to hitting bottom.

The usual rejoinder at this point to Bush ratings is that he can't run again; so what? It's a fairly strong polling truism that there is a relationship between Presidential approval and Congressional election turnover, although rarely if ever has a 2nd term President ever been anywhere near this low--so predictions are tenuous. But if there's no causality, there sure is a lot of correlation. Oregonians trust the Democrats in Congress over Bush by almost 20 points, and even on the President's former strength, national security/Iraq (a somewhat unwise polling conflation, I'll admit), Dems are favored by 11. As far as the outcome of the "war on terra" goes, over 1/3 of the state thinks the terrorists are winning--this despite the big splash made by the UK terror arrests. Thanks for the dead cat bounce, Mr. Prime Minister!

The most pressing statewide question on the heels of this report, is how voter unrest on national issues and disatisfaction with members of the GOP will translate in Oregon's legislative elections. With none of the federal or major statewide offices looking close, will voters move on to transfer their ire to Republicans in Salem? Still hard to tell, but various polls in individual races give hints that the potential is there. Democratic candidates in the state House and Senate would be wise to attempt the same thing their national bretheren are succeeding with: tying Republican candidates to the misdeeds and failures of their leadership. Rank and file GOP incumbents will not be well served by having their fealty to the Minnis/Scott team put under the microscope.


We step into the Dwight Jaynes Twilight Zone of Irreality--and feel the spin

We are a critical lot here at LO. We see it as part of our role to scrutinize the local media. And we're not ones for holding back either.

I have what some consider an overdeveloped sense of fairness and justice. So if I criticize a journalist or a writer, I generally send them an email with a link to my piece offering them a chance to explain or rebut on the blog. Especially if its a writer who I think probably doesn't darken our doorstep on a regular basis.

Hence I dropped an email yesterday morning to Tribune sports columnist and Executive Editor Dwight Jaynes. I wrote what I consider to be a minor trip to the woodshed against a Jaynes piece from last week.

Little did I know that this email would burgeon into a 40+ mail exchange. I was sucked into the Dwight Jaynes Twilight Zone of Irreality (yeah--I made that word up) and it was not pretty.

It began with me politely letting Jaynes know I had written about his piece with the requisite link to LO.

What I received in return was a snarky response from Jaynes:

yeah -- on SOME days portland has a little congestion! we're in the top 10 in the country! funny stuff -- comedy central is calling!

I replied, making light of the Comedy Central line:

Relative to other places (LA, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego Las Vegas) Portland is pretty mild--and as the article I cited notes, Portland has the lowest car use growth in the US.

I think you were looking for an excuse to be pissy about the city because of the Blazers..and ignored stuff that's right in front of your face that's contrary to what you were saying.

Portland is making efforts to improve using mass transit that appears to be working.



PS. I won't quit my day job for Comedy Central if you won't.

Jaynes then accused me of "drinking the Kool-Aid" and that I should notice that Portland is "gridlocked".

I responded that I was relying on various studies and articles to form my opinion.

So next, Jaynes ripped off another email to me citing this(PDF) 1999 Surface Transportation Policy Project study, ranking Portland at #8 in the nation for worst rush hour traffic congestion.

1999? I was a bit surprised that a journalist would be relying on a 7 year old study. Especially when more current articles and studies are readily available.

TJ jumped into the fray, noting an even more more recent study, as well as the PDX Metro Transit System report with the media noting a decrease in average daily commute time by car.

Jaynes then informed me that I was missing the point. He's not upset at "mass transit". Just MAX, trolleys and bikes. Buses are supposed to be mass transit, not the rest of that stuff, according to Dwight. I'm still drinking the "Kool-Aid", he says.


The whole thing then devolved to an even more bizarre place, with Jaynes accusing TJ of not knowing what the "downtown" area really is (even though he neglected to tell us what he thinks it is--except perhaps the area around the Transit Mall seems to count). But we know what Jaynes thinks it isn't: the Pearl District and South Waterfront. Which seems to run contrary to everyone else thinks downtown is.

This was really a whacky set of responses from a guy who is supposed to be the Executive Editor of a newspaper trying to make its mark in the Rose City. He uses lame excuses and outdated material to slam the city. And then barks that the City itself (and those who work and use it) don't know shit about it because clearly we're just not smart and cosmopolitan enough.