Thursday, May 31, 2007

Betsy Johnson F's Up

Nigel Jacquiss at Willy Week and the Walth/Esteve team at The O are serving up a double scoop of trouble for Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose).

The O team notes that Johnson failed to disclose a land sale on her Standards and Practices paperwork--and that sale and subsequent legislation helped Johnson rake in some cash:

In late 2004, state Sen. Betsy Johnson bought 36 acres of farmland for $635,000 in her hometown of Scappoose next to the airport.

Three months later, she sold the land to a developer for a $119,000 profit.

And within weeks, Johnson introduced a bill in the Legislature to promote special airport access for private landowners -- something the developer needed to turn the land into an industrial park catering to the aviation business.

Johnson, D-Scappoose, failed to disclose her ownership and sale of the 36 acres at the time, as state law requires. The Oregonian on Wednesday questioned Johnson about the deal, and she acknowledged that she should have listed the property on her state ethics forms.

"I readily admit I made a mistake," Johnson said in an interview at the Capitol. "I am culpable."

Johnson reported the deal to the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission after being interviewed by the newspaper.

The commission probably will review Johnson's failure to disclose her interest in the property. If an investigation shows she broke the law, she faces a fine.

Nigel makes note of Johnson's support of Senate Bill 30 which would keep destination resorts away from the Metolius River Basin:

One bill that has raised questions is Senate Bill 30, which passed the Senate last week. The bill aims to ban further development near the Metolius River, whose headwaters Johnson's family donated to the state and near which she owns a 160-acre retreat. Johnson has been criticized by the Bend Bulletin and others because by cutting off further development in the area, the bill will increase the value of her property.

I tried to call Senator Johnson's office this afternoon to find out some specifics on the retreat and anticipated land values. No answer--but I did leave a message. I'm curious to see if they'll Larry George me or if they'll actually call me back.

Of course the rightosphere bloggers think they've uncovered some sort of seeping Democratic corruption because one person was a bonehead. Yet they're all strangely silent when GOP legislators loudly crow their support for M37 while prepping their own M37 claims. And barely a note about the Oregon GOPs serious corruption problem with lobbyist paid trips to Hawaii.

The Oregon GOP truly has a culture of corruption. Bellowing about Johnson doesn't begin to fix their problems.

Johnson should have to take her lumps. She deserves them. But she's hardly representative of the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature.

Gordo Won't Even Answer the No-Brainers

Given the fact that the President has endorsed an occupation for Iraq that models our time in Korea--which you may remember has lasted 50 years--I wondered if the ever-slippery Senator Smith (or his staff, natch) would be able to answer the simplest of questions, one that even a brain-dead aide could answer off the top of their heads. A question like, say, "Does the Senator support the legalization of fresh puppy milkshakes?" or "Would the Senator co-sponsor my bill for 'Ru Paul's Get Fucked by a Drag Queen Day'," or even "Does the Senator support the President's call to occupy Iraq for the next 50 years?"

The office in DC had just closed, so I tried Portland. The woman answering offered that she had "no idea." I wondered, "So the fact that you're not saying no right off means that you think there is a chance he might?"
"I have no idea, sir."
"But that lack of a no response means you think it's possible, right?"
"I couldn't say one way or the other."
"Right--and that you can't say either way, means that either answer is possible."
"If you'd like to leave a comment for the Senator..."
"I'll take that as a Yes, thank you."
"OK." (!!)

Remember, her boss has said publicly he thinks it's a possibly criminal war. He thinks we're going about it all wrong, and we can't sit and referee a civil war. You'd think that a proposed 50-year occupation would seem somewhat in conflict with those positions. But Smith's staffers are hedging their bets nonetheless.

All right, I'll come clean: I didn't expect an actual answer, especially from the Portland office, and especially from someone who is likely an intern and can't put any words in the Senator's mouth, lest her stay there be a short one. But it's a serious question, and it's an answer the Senator frankly owes us. So won't you take a moment and see if you can find out? Call (or visit) and ask to talk to/make an appt. with an aide who can speak to the Senator's position. Good luck; if you make progress you're doing something right that I've done wrong. And watch out for the voicemail at the DC office, that staffers turn on as soon as it sounds like you're not calling to ask if you can blow him sometime. Having your first words be "PLEASE DO NOT SEND ME TO VOICEMAIL!" might be effective in that vein.

Washington, DC Office
404 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202.224.3753
Fax: 202.228.3997

Portland, OR Office
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1250
Portland, OR 97204
Phone: 503.326.3386
Fax: 503.326.2900

Pendleton, OR Office
Jager Building
116 South Main Street, Suite 3
Pendleton, OR 97801
Phone: 541.278.1129
Fax: 541.278.4109

Medford, OR Office
Security Plaza
1175 East Main, Suite 2D
Medford, OR 97504
Phone: 541.608.9102
Fax: 541.608.9104

Eugene, OR Office
Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse
405 East 8th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Phone: 541.465.6750
Fax: 541.465.6808

Bend, OR Office
Jamison Building
131 NW Hawthorne Avenue, Suite 208
Bend, OR 97701
Phone: 541.318.1298
Fax: 541.318.1396

"REAL ID" Rules Blocking Citizens, Not Illegals

I've sort of sat on this story for a bit, and I'm glad I did. I think something else came up the day I wanted to discuss it, but after that I wanted to see if any other parts of the blogosphere and/or tradtional press would pick it up. No one really has.

"It" is the recent release by DHS regarding the effects of new rules on the federal health care system as administered in Oregon--specifically the part about recipients having to recertify or newly apply with original, notarized birth records. The report came out in early May and was ably described by our friends at Oregon Center for Public Policy:
New federal rules that require Oregon to verify the identity and citizenship of individuals applying for Medicaid-funded programs have barred over 1,000 Oregonians, mostly children and citizens, from getting health care, a new report by the Department of Human Services finds.

More than 1,000 Oregonians, almost all of whom the State believes to be US citizens, were denied health care services because they were unable to comply with restrictive paperwork requirements created by the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). The DRA requires individuals applying or recertifying for services to prove their identity and citizenship by providing specified documents according to a limited list of those acceptable. The Department of Human Services report analyzes the impact of the harsh new paperwork rules in Oregon over the first six months the new rules were in place, September 2006 through February 2007.

“The new rules were imposed in a misguided attempt to keep non-citizens from receiving health care benefits for which they are not eligible. Ironically, the primary impact has been to keep citizens from receiving health care benefits for which they are eligible,” said Janet Bauer, a policy analyst at the Oregon Center for Public Policy. Bauer noted that 91 percent of denied households spoke English as their primary language.

The report also shows that children have been disproportionately harmed by the new provisions. The state study found that nearly two-thirds of those who were denied health services were children.

“The federal rules have backfired in Oregon and kids are getting the brunt of it,” said Bauer.
OCPP never pulls any punches in their rhetoric, but they have the advantage of almost always being right. And the report, which you should download as a pdf from here and read, goes pulled punch-less as well--the imposition of citizenship mandates on indigent health care has been a disaster for many of those who most need it.

I wanted to see if others jumped in on this because it seemed to be of a piece to so many other stories in the news. The true motivation behind the whole REAL ID movement is not particularly hidden by its right wing champions; the fear is that La Raza is coming to Oregon to register everyone and then start stuffing the ballot box to set up free tax money giveaways for anyone named Hector or Consuela. Whether it's the vote, health care benefits, driver's licenses, whatever--the point is to thwart the Mexican horde.

The only problem with this theory is that no one has successfully shown it exists, and in fact the most thorough looks at it have reached the opposite conclusion, that there really isn't any problem of mass benefits-taking after all. And if that were the end of it, that the whole process was redundant to a problem that didn't exist, maybe it's worth merely a grumble if not a whole angry column.

But the deeper goal at work is that Republicans don't even care if there's a problem or not. A large part of their purpose is to wage what I'd call regulatory terrorism. The desire is to not only set up barriers to illegal benefits, but to scare off or incidentally bar some of those who are actually eligible. Why? Because almost all of the people who would find themselves in that situation and can actually vote, usually vote against Republicans.

Guv Ted issued a proclamation after the rules were announced, assuring everyone that the recoginized the danger of supression by intimidation, and the difficulty in procuring documentation to the standard required. (What the hell do you do if you're 87 and your birth record was in a town hall that burned to the ground in 1949?) The state actually has done a decent job of tracking people's documents down if they were born anywhere in Oregon. But that still left over 1,000 people empty handed who should have been helped. Happily it seems to be a lot less than was predicted prior to the law's passage, but it's still simply wrong, and what's infuriating is knowing what it's occuring in service to-- the effort to make sure you stop exercising your rights or at least don't fully understand what they are.

And that permeating goal is the infection that has fed the US Attorney scandal--the DOJ's purpose was being perverted to harrass marginal people, citizens and non-citizens alike. The charges of vote suppression and illegal voting in Washington brought Carla and I together as bloggers, and the revelations keep coming about just how hard Republicans tried to pretend it was happening. This is Bush's Watergate story--the desperate attempt to cover up a whole rat's nest of shit designed to keep them in power, much of which fairly clearly played keepaway with the Constitution. So I thought this story--not only is the REAL ID concept a solution in search of a problem, it's a problem in and of itself--might generate some play.

A few days after OCPP's treatment, The O ran a fairly extensive and solid piece on the way things were working out pretty much as the goobernor predicted, and in the initial burst that seemed to be it. The blogs were silent. And then a couple of days ago there was another little flurry. Last week in Eugene, the CEO of Southwest OR's Planned Parenthood described the same scenario as DHS's study, this time concerning women coming for pregnancy services: the documentation barrier is blocking legitimate patients from getting them. On Sunday the Birmingham, Alabama News essentially replicated the findings from Oregon: Legitimate Medicaid recipients were being rejected only because they could not produce the proper papers. The article earned a diary at DailyKos, which sparked further discussion, but that's been the extent of it.

I know there's at least one bill alive in the statehouse that would impose these moronic restrictions on the application for a driver's license, and it's still unclear whether it's waiting its turn in Ways and Means, or it's been buried in Ways and Means. All the usual suspects have signed onto it in the House, but in the Senate it has some curious bipartisan support, including from Sen. Rick Metsger--although he had seemed to hedge lately. Hedge or whatever, it's not what we need in Oregon.

Update, 1230pm--

Whaddya know...while trolling through The O's politics blog for something else, I found yesterday's note that our friend Dennis Richardson tried to pull 3554 onto the floor to get a full debate. He actually got Chris Edwards to vote with him, but the motion failed on a 30-30 tie. Richardson also tried to bring out a bill (3553) that would allow cops to detain people on suspicion of being undocumented, and also force prosecutors to see whether convicted persons are undocumented, and alert federal authorities. That one failed 31-29. Elections matter, people.

SPELLBOUND: Oregon style

Tigard resident Shelley Clark made it through the first three rounds of the National Spelling Bee held this week in Washington DC. She moves on now to the semifinals which run today from 10AM to 1PM EDT.

If Clark makes the finals, she'll be on national television later tonight. The finals are scheduled to be rebroadcast on KATU at 8PM.

If you've never seen footage of this event--it was brilliantly captured in the 2002 documentary Spellbound. The families that participate in the National Spelling Bee aren't fooling around. This is serious stuff.

Clark also competed in the Bee last year--but was knocked out in the third round.

Bend resident Katie Nye also competed in this year's Bee but was eliminated in the fourth round.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fawning Over Portland From Afar

For all you Portland-haters, or at least those who seem to have made it their life's mission to discuss what's so hopelessly wrong with the city (cough-Bog-cough}, here's an outsider's view from Texas--specifically Houston, Texas, a place that seems to come up a lot when defenders of the Rose City want to explain what you get when you don't do things like Portland does.

The title of the post is 10 Reasons Why I am Moving to Portland, Oregon, and I think it's an illuminating view from someone with what one imagines is a fairly objective standpoint. The line that will shock people the most, probably, is this one: "In fact, it would be a lot easier to do business in Portland then it would be to try to do business in Houston." Hah! Don't let Dave Lister hear you say that, dude! Here are some other pearls from those who perhaps covet The Pearl:
Public Transit is much better - In Portland, the public transit service (dubbed Tri Met) is actually better than the Metro system that Houston has or Calgary Transit. It may take a bit of getting used to (based on what I saw when I got off the Amtrak) but Calgary Transit took a lot of getting used to as well. And once I got used to it, I was able to use it more and more effectively. Plus, it runs to Beaverton and Gresham as well. This is really a good thing because it would allow me to get in touch with a lot more people and do a lot more work for other businesses. Also, Portland has it’s own airport, Amtrak station and Greyhound station. This give it a much stronger transportation infrastructure.

Lots of cool people - The people who run Panic, Janrain, Swift Communications and a lot of other cool little businesses all have shop in Portland. There is also this really cool Internet cafe that I found when I was in Portland and even the personnel at the Bank of America branch in Portland were nicer. In fact, there were these people who were hanging out and smoking around the Greyhound station and I found that they were some of the most helpful people in Portland. Really nice place. [!!!!--ed]

Not everything is a chain - One thing I’ve noticed about Portland’s downtown area, it doesn’t have a lot of chain restaurants. Maybe the city is like that too. Of course, that’s probably not the case, but hey - one can dream. Plus, chain restaurants are not all bad. I really LOVE Taco Bell and I was very happy when I found one in Calgary. Of course, it only stayed open until 3pm and it was in the Transcanada Tower.

Oregon isn’t homophobic - Okay, this doesn’t affect me directly, but it just feels wrong when the Government tries to tell you who you can or can’t love. Or how about when they tell you who you can or can’t marry? There are still sodomy laws around but fortunately, they are dying down. And I believe this is a step in the right direction, because there are so many gay couples that are perfect for each other. And to deny them the right to marriage is just wrong.

Amen, brother. Welcome to Portland, call us when you get in. :)

Larry George's Diarreah of Diatribe--the video version

Yesterday I posted the transcript and my rebuttal of Senator Larry George's batshit crazy speech on the floor of the Oregon Senate.

Now you can see George in full wingnuttery regalia!

When the Measure 37 fix goes on the ballot and passes--will George then complain about how the voters of Oregon are stupidly screwing their mommies and daddies and grammas and grandpas...and all the other "little" Oregonians out there?

Make sure you watch this with a trash can nearby. You'll need it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

OR Kids Smoke Pot More Than Tobacco--This is Bad, Why?

From the AP and KTVZ in Bend today, a somewhat curious attempt to keep the sentry at the ramparts in the War on Drugs:
State officials released new numbers Tuesday about drug and alcohol use in Oregon, and they call the information startling.

For instance, the Oregon Department of Human Services says, eighth and 11th graders surveyed are more likely to smoke marijuana than tobacco.

And Oregon ranks fourth nationally in alcohol-related deaths. The rate of those deaths has risen by 50% in the last five years.

The rate of 8h-graders who have used alcohol in the past 30 days is 76% higher than the national rate.

Not all the news is bad: Use of Ecstasy is down significantly, and fewer adolescent males report that they drive after drinking.
Those are the headlines; there are some other blurbs on the studies' findings, and you can read the reports in pdf form posted at the Oregon DHS site. I'll say that with respect to regular alcohol use among 8th graders compared nationally, Oregon seems to have a problem. And it's certainly not good to see alcohol-related deaths so high. On the other hand, my sense is that most alcohol deaths are transportation-related--that is, they occur because of drinking and driving, or drinking and boating, etc. One wonders whether cuts in public safety among our highways and waterways over the last decade is more the culprit when it comes to deaths, as opposed to simple abuse.

But as many LO readers know, my antenna start twitching most strongly when I see the assertion made that marijuana use should be of priority concern to Oregonians, and calling the finding that kids experiment with pot more than tobacco either "startling" as DHS does, or "bad news" as KTVZ notes, is itself rather startling to me. And once I dug into the actual reports, I was stunned to see that in point of fact, the news is actually pretty good, especially as concerns smokes and illict drugs.

Let's get the disclaimer out of the way: yes, pot is illegal, and no drug--alcohol, illict or (unprescribed) prescription--is appropriate or harmless for kids. In a perfect world, the rates of use among minors for all three types of substances would be negligible. Being an advocate of adult marijuana decriminalization (as I am) in no way should suggest that making it legal means making it legal for kids.

That said, let's be honest here. In 2003 tobacco accounted for more than 7,000 deaths {pdf}; as far as I know, the death rate attributable to marijuana was (as in every year) zero. Furthermore, what we know about adult smokers is that almost all of them were youth smokers. Thus, what we really want to see is a decline in tobacco use among youth, particularly early experimentation. As placed alongside pot use, in order of preferred outcome we'd like to see:

1) Lower/status quo tobacco use; lower/SQ pot use
2) Lower/SQ tobacco use; higher pot use
3) Higher tobacco use; lower/SQ pot use
4) Higher tobacco use; higher pot use

We won't root for higher youth pot use, so having them both go down is best. But forced to choose, I can't imagine a single doctor or health researcher who'd wouldn't sensibly prefer upward movement in youth pot use to upward movement in tobacco use. So to suggest that choice 2) represents "startling" or "bad" findings is a little bizarre--even if pot use is up, we know that what really messes kids up is to be hooked on smokes before turning 18, and therefore a decrease in those numbers can't be anything but good.

Here's the kicker, though: in truth, the actual scenario playing out in Oregon is not option 2)...but option 1). Yes, although you'd never know from the article, BOTH pot and tobacco use are down among our youth--notably so for pot, but significantly so for tobacco. And while some of the ancillary numbers related to alcohol definitely aren't good, usage rates among kids are ALSO down for alcohol. That's right--the most startling thing about these reports is that drug use is down across the board over the last 10 years, startling because DHS apparently doesn't want success to impede further vigilance. Go to page 20 of the illict drug report {pdf} and you'll see the soft, warm facts:

Alcohol use, 8th graders (last 30 days)--
1997: 35.3%
2006: 31.9% (10% drop)

Alcohol use, 11th graders--
1997: 47.1%
2006: 43.9% (7% drop)

Marijuana use, 8th graders (last 30 days)--
1997: 15.5%
2006: 9.9% (36% drop)

Marijuana use, 11th graders--
1997: 21.9%
2006: 18.7% (15% drop)

Tobacco use, 8th graders (last 30 days)--
1997: 23.0%
2006: 8.7% (62% drop)

Tobacco use, 11th graders--
1997: 24.4%
2006: 15.4% (37% drop) [emphs mine]

OK, I've got a social stats background, but somehow I don't think it was all that necessary to bold the two tobacco trendlines in order to make it clear what the story is in these numbers: youth smoking in Oregon is down, way down, to the point where fewer than 1 in 10 8th graders is looking to experiment with tobacco. That is flat out GREAT news!

Of course it would be a shame if pot use was going up, which is the implication one gets from DHS and KTVZ when they note with alarm that more kids now try pot than cigarettes. But the reduction in early-experimentation with pot is as deep as that among 11th grade tobacco users, and even among 11th grade pot smokerss there was a double-digit decline in the last 10 years.

I mean, what the hell? I think it's smart to not rest on one's laurels, or to trumpet a reduction in numbers that are still much too high for anyone's liking, but DHS is taking that mission a little too strongly to heart. Only an agency seeking to maintain appropriate levels of hysteria would issue reports like this with anything other than a banner headline of achievement: "Pot, Tobacco, Alcohol Use Down Among Oregon Youth--Some Significantly." And beyond that, if one had to choose between pot and tobacco as what we'd prefer kids to be experimenting with, despite the feel of a Hobson's Choice on the surface no health professional in his right mind would want more kids sucking up to Joe Camel than Tommy Chong. And to focus on the reverse as something bad, when in fact both substances are seeing declines, borders on the dishonest in my opinion.

Sen Larry George's Diarreah of Diatribe

Today on the floor of the Oregon State Senate, Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood) piled up such a monumental mound of odiferously offensive bullshit to the point that the maintenance services for the building should send his office the bill for cleanup. You can listen by going here and then scroll down to SENATE chamber session (10:13AM). George's comments begin at about the 15:38 mark.

George began his screed using the tone that my kids used to use when they were toddlers:

I rise with a great deal of frustration today. Over the past few weeks, The governor's office and others have been in secret negotiations on Measure 37. Obviously the bill to gut property rights and M37 which is currently down in Ways and Means has huge political problems. What angers me about the process is that the governor's office has been calling special interest after special interest into meetings in an attempt to buy off these special interest groups.

Translation: Waaaaaaaaaa Waaaaaaaaa Waaaaaaaaaa...the Governor's office is talking to farmers and ranchers and nursery people and the various counties both rural and urban who have been deluged with problems stemming from this law. And George is pissed that the Governor is actually TALKING TO THEM-trying to figure out the best way to fix the consequences of this mess that people like George stuck us with. This whine isn't worthy of the Oregon Senate. Its worthy of those whiny kids in the checkout line at Target who are begging their parents to buy them the toy that they saw on Aisle 16.

George continues:
I have continued to urge open negotiations, but no. From the opening days of session the governor's office has used offensive rhetoric questioning the character and motives of those who want to protect their property from taking by the State of Oregon.

So in other words, George wants "open negotiations" where he gets to have a say--when his own party members didn't want him in on the negotiations. The problem isn't open negotiations and everybody knows it. The problem is that every time the GOP says they're ready to sign on the line with an agreement..they back off under pressure from their own special interest groups. There's nothing about good faith negotiating for these guys and everybody paying attention knows it.

More George:
This shallow political rhetoric attempted to assign special interest names to average Oregonians attempting to protect their property rights. The irony now is that the governor is now negotiating with these same special interest groups in an attempt to literally buy political support for gutting the state laws that protect private property rights for average Oregonians. Little regard for the average Oregonian using Measure 37.

The little landowner, the average Oregonian using M37, mothers and fathers, grandparents, have no seat at the political table and they're being left with no protection for their property. M37 is only the latest example of special interest control in this building.

Just so everyone understands: the political rhetoric from those who oppose Measure 37 is a shallow attempt to assign nasty names to poor citizens who just want to protect their property. But the political rhetoric from those who support Measure 37 claiming that average Oregonians--mommies, daddies, grandpas and grandmas are being squelched by the big meanies--that's just honest discourse.

What unadulterated crap. Did George have to wear waders when he spilled forth his diarrhea of diatribe?

George goes on:
This process is becoming corrupt.

The governor just might as well make it official and hang a sign in the front of the Capitol building saying this building and its contents are for sale. The governor has packed his office with political hacks who think nothing of paying back political contributors on almost every issue.

The governor's office ignores the desires of average Oregonians and cares nothing about good public policy for the State of Oregon. What's happening on Measure 37 is wrong. The process is corrupt and I've gotta tell you the frustration level is becoming very high.

So since the Governor's office is working with stakeholders and the legislature in an attempt to put something together that will go directly to the voters--that is what is really sticking in George's craw. He's pissed and frustrated because George knows that polling shows an overwhelming buyer's remorse by Oregonians for Measure 37.

The moms and dads and grandparents and other average Oregonians aren't being left out of the political process. Republicans like Larry George are trying to deny them the chance to fix a law that they overwhelmingly say they want to fix or get rid of.

Monday, May 28, 2007

LO Comments: Changes A-Go-Go

Dear LO readers and commenters:

In an effort to get rid of comment moderation (which we loathe) while still allowing Loaded Orygun to keep malicious comments at bay--we've installed the Haloscan commenting system.

Unfortunately, the installation of Haloscan forces us to hide comments previously made using the Blogger interface. Fortunately those comments aren't gone..they're simply hidden. And hopefully once LO moves to an upgraded platform--all those comments will be shuffled over to the new system.

We're sorry this has to be such a pain in the ass. Its not our preference. But the good news is that folks should be able to comment and have their stuff appear immediately without having to wait for us to get around to approving them.

Thanks for hanging in there with us while we iron out all this techy crap.

Loving Novick means never having to say you're sorry

Portland City Commish Randy Leonard lays it all out in his endorsement at BlueO of Steve Novick:

As Oregon’s next United States Senator, Steve will speak “truth to power” every day he serves in the Senate. Further, Steve’s truth will not be his truth but , rather the sacred, universal truth that is often held hostage by powerful lobbyist—lobbyists who find their strength in Senators whose service to the public has been blurred beyond recognition by too many corporate junkets and campaign contributions.

There aren’t many I will say this about, but Steve Novick could literally change the face of debate in the United States Congress. He will undoubtedly become a darling of the press corps that searches for someone who actually has something to say in response to a question like “Why are we in Iraq.” His impact upon arriving in the US Senate in January 2009 is nearly incalculable.

When TJ and I endorsed Steve, we did so believing that all of the other people who we'd considered before Novick had declined. But the more I read and hear about Steve from those who've worked with him and/or watched him in action, the more I believe that Novick isn't going to just pull off beating Gordon Smith--he's potentially going transform the US Senate.

Novick gets props from virtually everyone in Oregon politics for being intellectually wonky and strategically brilliant. But more--Novick takes on causes that no one else is watching not because its politically sexy--but because it needs to be done. And he does it in the face of lobbyists and moneychangers working against him.

This is the kind of person that Oregonians WANT in the US Senate. Steve has already raised $50,000 on ActBlue. Do yourself and all of Oregon a favor--send scratch Steve's way. Give Oregon the opportunity to have a Senator in DC whose not only going to work in our best interest--but do it in a way that makes us proud.

On Memorial Day

Every few weeks during my early childhood, my parent would pack my sibs and me in the car for a visit to my relatives in Ontario, Oregon. My mother was raised in Ontario and her family was scattered in the vicinity.

My maternal grandfather served during World War II. I don't know very much about his service except that he was in the European theatre. In their home I recall a black frame with black velvet backing where his medals were displayed. There were 8-9 of them pinned to the backing. The frame hung in a hallway near their bedroom as a silent reminder of my grandfather's service. During our visits to their Ontario home I remember peering through the glass at the medals..wondering what sort of heroic deeds my grandfather must have done to earn such praise.

My grandfather died in 1977 of complications from Parkinson's Disease. I don't have a single memory of him discussing his experiences during the war.

Also living near Ontario at the time was my father's eldest brother, Bill. Uncle Bill and his brood lived in a neighboring town and they were one of the many pit stops we made on our rounds throughout the region as we visited. Uncle Bill was a fire and brimstone Baptist preacher with a wife and four kids. He was also a Vietnam vet whose souvenier of service was a more tangible daily event: his lower left leg and been left overseas. Its replacement was a prosthetic metal leg. He sometimes walked with a cane--and would rap the cane against his leg to gather the attention of the children.

Uncle Bill didn't speak much about his service, either. He told me about his replacement leg only because I was precocious enough at age 10 to ask what had happened.

And a few years ago while doing some geneological research, I discovered that one of my great grandfathers served in the Civil War. He fought for the Union--in one of the North Dakota regiments. I have a copy of his honorable discharge papers tucked away with other materials I gathered during my quest to find out more about my family history.

Today is the day set aside for honoring the memories of those who served. I honor these men from my family today by remembering them here and in my heart. I pass along these memories to my children--what little I know--so that they have a connection to not just their family's history, but to the sacrifices their family made in service to the nation.

Many of us are taking the time to recall those who've died recently in Iraq and Afghanistan--and rightfully so. I also wanted to take time today to recall those who've served in other wars and conflicts as well.

War is a horrible, ugly and (sometimes) necessary event. While many of us are angry and upset with the current events that have placed our military in harms way--its important that we keep in our hearts the service of those whose job it is to fight to defend our nation.

And to be grateful to them for what they do and the sacrifice that so many have made.

Vote for OR's Best Public Achievement; Then Party W/ The Bus

Having watched up close how efficiently and cheerfully the folks at Bus Project can put together a public event, LO is happy to endorse the next constructive/creative effort from our favorite volunteers: The Wheelie Awards, an event for "stuff that matters." And as usual, they're trying to entice you into becoming part of the process--you get to help nominate the winners! Here, let them tell you:
The Rubber Hits the Road Award: The Wheelie for Outstanding Public Interest Achievement

What has been the most innovative public policy accomplishment to hit Oregon in the twenty-first century (so far)? The 1970's brought land use planning; the 1990's produced Death with Dignity; the 1980's lent us acid-wash jeans. What will be the legacy of the first decade of the 2K?

Send us your nomination for the best new idea to come out of the last six years.

Submit a nomination and win a prize! Anyone who nominates will be entered into a drawing and be randomly selected for one of the following prizes:

* A gift certificate to Food Front Co-Op on NW Thurman
* Two beautiful bracelets from Lake Oswego artist Faith Walmer
* A cookbook from Bo Rinaldi, former Silicon Valley power agent and current owner of Blossoming Lotus
* A Bus Project pint glass

What the winner gets: A Wheelie! The Wheelie will be presented by the Bus Project at the Armory in Portland on June 9th.

How the winner will be picked: Nominations will be taken until June 1st, and attendees to the Wheelies Gala on June 9th will have the opportunity to vote immediately prior.

Criteria for nominees: The Wheelie will be awarded to a recent innovative Oregon public interest accomplishment. What do we mean by that?

1. Recent: We can't just rest on the laurels of the bottle bill. Nothing wilts faster than laurels rested upon. Anything this century is eligible; preference for even more recent.
2. Innovative: Showing public policy leadership.
3. Oregon: Makes Oregon better for the public – whether the whole state, or a locality. Local innovations count!
4. Public Interest Achievement: Something that got done – whether it's a law put in place or a program launched – that has real promise for positive public interest results.

Nominate now! So whether it's priority-based budgeting, fair-housing standards, or re-capturing power taxes, biofuels support, nominate the thing you think is making Oregon better.
Its late and ultimately kind of flaccid profile notwithstanding, my vote would be for gay anti-discrimination and civil unions protections. As much as it felt like a travesty to not have those things locked down in law by now, the truth is that Oregon is still waaaaay ahead of the curve when it comes to those rights, and that's a large part of the reason I moved back--I want to be around people who are at least trying to move forward, even if they succeed only in spurts.

The big gig (no relation) is a week from this Saturday, June 9 at the Portland Armory (a.k.a. Gerding Theatre a.k.a. Portland Center Stage), 128 NW 11th Avenue. If you want the standard party (doors at 7, event at 8), you can hook up for just $24, and can order them here. If you're feeling like getting your VIP on, come by at 6 when the doors open or 630 when things get going, and they'll reward you with fancy food, footrubs and girls waving palm fronds to cool you off*--for just $125. Of course, if you're a Bus Project Monthly Member, you'll catch a big break on prices--and you'll be earning your own Wheelie in your own small way by supporting the programs of The Bus.

*rubs and fronds not explicitly guaranteed

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Spanning the State--Mysterious Yellow Blob Edition

Early yesterday evening I arrived home after having been gone for the day and I noticed these weird looking yellow clumps in the gravel near my driveway. This morning when I went out to the car, the yellow clumps had come together in this weird brain-looking thing.

I suspect its some sort of insect-related situation...but I really have no idea. If anyone knows what it is and/or how to get rid of it, let me know in comments.

And now that we've covered the technicolor bizarro stuff from my yard...let's Span the State!


The Ashland Daily Tidings is reporting that Jackson County is considering a privatization plan for their recently closed library system. The paper reports that the plan is getting serious consideration because it would "save taxpayers money by reducing the number of librarians, the wages they earn and the benefits they receive". Cuz nothing makes improvements to the economics of a region by lowballing wages and benefits....

Due to dwindling funds, it appears that Coos County will be without county public health services in the near future.

Another city manager steps down, this time in Eugene.

A Fairview resident shares his memories of fighting in Afghanistan for the Oregon National Guard with the Gresham Outlook Newspaper.

A report recently released by the military outlining the investigation into the death of PFC Thomas Tucker of Madras shows "numerous acts of complacency and a lack of standards at the platoon level". The family of the slain soldier also learned from other soldiers that the platoon was "grossly understaffed". This same platoon had members accused of a rape and murder of a 14 year old Iraqi girl.

A bill before the Oregon legislature to increase the use of chemical castration for dangerous sex offenders is nearing passage. The chemical castration clause is tucked into the 07-09 Corrections Department Budget.

The softball team from my alma mater have captured the NCAA Division III softball championship. Go 'Cats!

An OSU professor is working to convince Oregonians that harnessing wave energy from the Pacific Ocean can solve the world's energy needs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carla the contract killer--Updated

[Updated--see bottom of post]

Last week I noticed this story on the Merc's Blogtown about an interesting piece in the paper Street Roots:

Street Roots reporters found that Portland Patrol Inc. (PPI) gets paid $439,824 a year by the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) to provide order maintenance services in the downtown core, but when they asked to see the contract between the PBA and PPI, they were refused, despite the city’s contract with the PBA stating that “contractors and subcontractors shall make all records relating to the contract available to the city.” So a supposedly public contract is being kept under wraps.

Stuff like this really pushes my irritation button. When the public is entitled to information, they ought to have access to it. It chaps me to no end when it doesn't happen.

That said, I'm completely unfamiliar with the PBA's contract with the City of Portland. So I contacted Commissioner Randy Leonard after reading the piece, to find out:
A. If the contract is really supposed to be made available to the public
B. If he could get a copy of it and pass it on to me so that I can view it.
Randy emailed Portland City Attorney Linda Meng to find out if the city is in fact entitled to a copy of the contract--and to obtain a copy for him if they are so entitled.

As it turns out, the contract is public information. And according to Matt Davis at the Merc, local newspaper folks have been trying to get a peek at this contract for about 6 months--presumably via the Portland Business Alliance.

It also turns out that Randy Leonard was able to get a copy of the contract to me three days ago.

The entirety of what was passed to me is 140 pages--and I don't have any way to make a PDF file out of it--I can only scan the individual pages and post them. Hence I'm posting just the parts that seem (so far) to be the most relevant to what Street Roots and The Merc are asking regarding the nature of the contractual relationship with PPI and PBA.

First, it looks as if the total compensation package for PPI isn't $439,824.

Unless I'm reading this wrong, it says that the total compensation for PPI is $935,256.00 for the 06/07 fiscal year.

There is an amendment to the original 2004 contract which is dated January 10, 2006. The amendment says that "the total amount of compensation shall be changed to $439,824 for parks" (emphasis Carla). That's up from $272,728.08 in the original 2004 contract. I think that's probably the number that was quoted to Street Roots for their original story--but its clearly NOT what PPI is being paid to provide the maintenance services to the downtown core. Street Roots' number is much lower.

Another interesting aspect to the contract is the geographical scope of PPI's patrols. According to what I've been able to glean from my read of it so far, these are the boundaries for the patrols:

Matt Davis told me earlier today that those patrols are also happening on the Esplanade over on the east side of the river.

Its possible (again) that I'm misunderstanding or misreading this contract. But so far, I see nothing that indicates to me either in the original contract or the subsequent amendments that the Esplanade is included.

Finally, there's the specific requirements for the patrols. What appears to be most relevant to the Street Roots/Merc investigation is what's on the pages below:I believe this page indicates what the patrol officers managing the Business Improvement District are supposed to do. Note 12.0:

Complete a morning wake up of all individuals who use sidewalk, and business doorways as sleeping locations.

Is it legal for these patrolers to wake homeless people from the public sidewalk and presumably get them to move?

The next two pages show that they patrols are supposed to do the same sorts of wakeups on the public sidewalks and pathways in the downtown parks (see 8.0 on page 45)

I'm planning to share this contract information with The Merc who has already asked for it and Street Roots (should they ask for it).

I don't have the resources here to conduct a proper investigation with all of the legal understandings necessary to do it right. So I'm passing this one off to the big kids. But I'll certainly keep track of what they find out.

I had initially noticed a line item on page 52 of the contract, requiring patrol officers to "attempt to stop offensive conduct wherever possible".

See 4b on the page--click picture to enlarge

Who is the arbiter of "offensive behavior"? Is it like porn? Do they know it when they see it?


We're Not Crazy; Novick IS Viable

Not that anyone said we were crazy, but many do labor under the belief that Steve Novick's candidacy for Senate is still just a placeholder, or a lopsided losing enterprise should he win the nomination more or less by default. This is unfair to Steve in the main, but at the same time you can't blame convention for providing the conventional wisdom, and the number of people who have been sent to the Senate without any previous elective or appointed service is mighty small.
Where we have made the evolved leap is in dismissing Novick's chances simply on the basis of that frame. If Oregonians find out who he is and like what he says, there's no fundamental reason why he can't win, no literal barrier to it happening. And call it spin if you like, but there is a distinct possibility that his non-politician approach to politics will serve as an advantage rather than a defect. In any case, it's wrong to focus on strategic considerations above the very simple test voters should apply: is he/she the best available serious candidate?

There is a standard for "serious," of course, and it's fairly subjective. Ty Pettit is not a serious candidate in my mind, as nice a guy as he might be. Whoever runs on the Constitution Party line, they're not serious either. But as Novick is going for the Democratic nomination, he's serious as long as he's got a plausible chance to win it--and it's not just us for whom Novick's campaign has shown strong signs of plausibility.

First up is the Ashland Daily Tidings, which continues to cover Alan Bates' possible entry into the race. I was contacted about the race again, and (forgive me) had this to say:
Torrid Joe, editor of the left-leaning blog Loaded Orygun, says it is indisputable that Smith is politically vulnerable, and said there is nothing wrong with a crowded primary field vying for his seat. "A full competition is a good thing," he said. "It brings the issues to the fore."

Joe said while he "can't find anything wrong" with Bates, he is throwing his support behind Novick because he is not a cog in the "mainstream political machine," as Bates is inherently, being a member of the state Legislature.

"People are hungry for something else," he said.
This is the point I was making above--the times just seem right for the candidate who doesn't remind people of the politicians they've grown to hate (not that people hate Bates personally). But beyond my speculations on the Oregon zeitgeist, party people and strategists are taking his run seriously:
[Jan] Waitt, who is the precinct organizer for the [Jackson] County Democratic Party, said Novick might be a more formidable opponent to Smith given his Portland connections and keen intellect.

She said Novick, a former Justice Department lawyer, has the "wit to maybe outsmart" Smith, who is known as an aggressive and experienced campaigner.

Bates and Novick would both make "excellent candidates" to go against Smith, said Sue Densmore, a 2004 Democratic candidate for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and president of a public relations firm in Medford that bears her name.

A primary race between Bates and Novick, she said, would be "hard to call."
That's got to be mighty encouraging to Steve, as he plots his summer tour of the state to drum up excitement--rural areas are receptive, and Democrats there are willing to consider fighting for him. Also encouraging has to be the re-evaluation by Ridenbaugh's Randy Stapilus:
The nascent Steve Novick campaign for the Senate picked up some useful support this week. During an interview on the Thom Hartmann talk show on KPOJ, the host disclosed he had donated to Novick’s campaign and urged listeners to do likewise, as some evidently did. Not a bad early hit.

Today, he picked up backing from a clutch of Oregon attorneys, a substantial group - a useful starting point. Not everyone in the Democratic sector, apparently, is holding back and waiting for a better-known figure to enter the Democratic contest against Republican Gordon Smith next year.


Novick could become an intriguing mix of political tough and personal appealing. Over lunch Tuesday he outlined some of his campaign steps so far and some of his campaign subject matter, the issues substance, and is nothing if not clear about that. His campaign rhetoric can come across, as indicated in the quote above, as take-no-prisoners. But Novick personally did not seem hard-edged; he may emerge as a likable personality with an unusual and compelling story. This isn’t a given. Novick doesn’t, in some ways, sound or act like a candidate. (You still get a feeling that you’re talking to a very savvy political pro, more than a candidate.) But that may come; as he settles into the role of candidate, probably will.

Leading to the other factor: Time. Novick is getting started early, he’s the only one who has, and time is a real, valuable, currency in campaigns. A better-known candidate entering this race in, say, late summer may turn out to be behind the curve. Novick is pulling his race together, and after a certain point other candidates may find themselves too far behind.

Two months ago our snap thought about the Novick campaign was that it was an interesting effort in the absence of a “bigger/better known” candidate, who probably would soon own the field. Looks now entirely possible that in the months ahead Novick may become that candidate.
The bigger the snowball we pack now, the faster it will roll when the new year comes around and the election process begins in earnest. If you want to add some snow, donate through LO's ActBlue page, so Steve knows where it came from. And better yet, become involved and take charge of your government--go to to see how you can help.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Watch Blazers Fans Go All Apey!

Courtesy of Amanda Fritz's son Luke, check out this pub full of delirious fans of the black and red as NBA Commissioner Stern continues to read team names that are not Portland's--meaning they're one step closer to the #1 pick. When Seattle is chosen as the #2, it gets crazy. I'm not a big NBA fan by any means, but I know what this pick will mean for the team and thus the it's hard not to get chills when I watch it:

Anyone know what bar this is, by the way?

Entire Oregon Delegation Votes Down Iraq Supplemental

Update, 430pm--
The funding bill passed, 280-142. The Democratic split was 86 for, 140 against. As noted below, all Oregon Democrats in the House voted no. 2nd District Rep. Greg Walden, of course, backed the President and voted for a summer of hundreds more dead Americans. The Senate may vote later today, perhaps tomorrow--watch to see how Gordo votes. If he goes along, we can clearly ignore his bullshit of the last 6 months--he's for the war.

Update, 7pm--
Ron Wyden makes it 5-for-5 among state Democrats by voting No on the Senate side. And Gordon Smith has eviscerated any pretension of being against the war, by voting to fund it indefinitely. Right on cue, DPO's Chair was on it:
“Oregonians have learned that Gordon Smith’s quotes don’t match his votes. Smith will talk to reporters night and day about his opposition to the war and the need for benchmarks. Then, in contrast to most of his state’s congressional delegation, he cowers to President Bush and his party and votes to continue the war, with no benchmarks. That’s not leadership and it doesn’t represent the will of Oregonians. That’s flip flopping cowardice.”
Good luck now, Gordo--you've fucked yourself.

[updated to note full confirmation of Hooley's vote...TJ]

After contacting the respective offices for David Wu, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Darlene Hooley, we're happy to report that all four appear slated to vote Nay on the Iraq Supplemental bill scheduled to come up today, based on the removal of binding withdrawal language.

From Earl's office we heard that "unless the bill is vastly different than we expect, Earl's planning on voting against it. The first two were difficult enough votes, but at least they brought us closer to ending the war." Staff from Wu and DeFazio's office were slightly less eloquent, but both confirmed their No vote premised on a lack of binding redeployment language. (The word from Hooley's office is a bit more cryptic; I've received what appears to be a No, but things are so rushed on The Hill today that staff haven't had the opportunity to flesh out that "No" from her, into something that broadly confirms a vote against funding without binding strings and withdrawal language. I'm having a hard time believing Darlene would end up being the only one to side with Greg Walden on this one, and it's getting late in the day out East, so I'm going to run with the "No" that I've gotten so far. Be warned that it's not rock solid info at this time.) And after a bit of a delay to fully confirm her position, we've also gotten definitive word that Hooley will complete the 0-4 sweep for Oregon Democrats.

The full bill, with the grafted-on minimum wage hike we've been waiting for since January and a compromise conference amendment on timber county payments (one year at $400m), is likely to pass. Leadership has anticipated a large defection from Democrats, particularly those who voted for the McGovern redeployment amendment a couple weeks ago (which all four Oregon Dem Reps did), and so has split the bill into the war funding side and the extra goodies side. Few in either party will have the courage to vote down both parts--meaning passage is nearly assured--so any Nay is one of conscience and symbolism. Still, it's an important vote of conscience: do you support unending war, or do you want it to stop?

And if you're wondering what will happen on the Senate, I'm awaiting confirmation from Wyden's office on his vote, but past history suggests he is a reliable Nay as well. Gordon Smith doesn't tell us shit beforehand, but the smart money is on passage for him, which will once again blow holes in his protestations about the war. Criminal or not, Smith is still aiding and abetting it. Remember that. Gordon Smith supports this war, and this President. Now go repeat it to someone you know.

Smith's Approval Drops Below Key 50% Benchmark

The monthly Survey USA Senate tracking poll is out for May, and thanks to Senate Guru 2008 (who you should definitely bookmark now and begin following closely as we approach silly season*) we got the tip and can fill you in on the latest results. As the headline indicates, the most notable finding from this latest iteration is that Gordon Smith has fallen below the 50% approval mark, to 48/39. As we've noted before (and SG08 reiterates), any incumbent running with less than majority approval earns the label of "vulnerable" for his or her next election.

The 48% approval represents a 10-point dropoff since the beginning of the year, when Smith was basking in his "possibly criminal" speech about Iraq, and is the lowest since last June--only the third time in two years that his approval has fallen under 50%. It remains to be seen whether the May results represent a temporary blip, or a harbinger of further drops from the 50-51% baseline the last year (tossing out the post-speech spike that has now ebbed), but even the former is not encouraging news for Smith.

Beyond the top number, the most interesting context is provided by reviewing the subgroup result among Republicans (which you can find along with a host of other breakdowns by using the dropdown box in the upper left corner of the trend graph). As late as August of last year (when he was still demagoguing Democrats on the war), Smith enjoyed 71% approval within his own party. He has since tumbled a full 16 points, to May's 55/36 rating--equalling his lowest approval of the past two years.

Smith's approval among Republicans is just 55, down nine points since last month? That's absurdly low for an incumbent not beset by scandal. Hell, the Republicans just renominated a politically crippled and indicted Goobernor in Kentucky, with 50% of the vote. This is a party that can overlook a lot in their candidates, but something is definitely bugging state GOPers about their man (and one imagines it's Iraq and immigration). And how do we know that 55% approval from your own party is bad? Because Democrats give Ron Wyden a 75% kiss of approval, a positive 15-point difference from the overall rating of 60, compared to just +7 among Republicans for Smith.

Lest you think that party affiliation isn't as accurate as ideology, given the high number of independent voters in Oregon, Smith's numbers among self-described "conservatives" are an even worse 49/42--the first time since May of 2005 that they've dropped below 50%. He doesn't even have a majority of conservatives backing him--and people want to claim he's going to be unbeatable next year? Pfffffft.

The numbers aren't without worry for Democratic challengers, however. As lukewarm as Republicans are, Democrats and independent voters seem more comfortable with Smith than you might expect, both giving approval at around 46-47%. They've bounced around a bit over the last couple years--particularly among independents--but outside the Iraq speech blip, Democrats have rarely been more favorable than they are now. Indies are somewhat less enthused than at other recent times, but still give Smith a fairly strong rating, and in fact gave him a bit of an uptick from last month, going from a dead-even 44/44 to May's 47/40.

The caveat to assessing future affinity is that many Republicans will come back home to Gordo when faced with a desultory option on the Democratic side, and likewise some portion of the Democrats will vote a party ballot despite their collective ambivalence towards him. We've got a loooong way to go. Still, both the 48% approval and downward trendlines are what you'd expect to see from a vulnerable incumbent, and it's entirely fair to label Smith as such. With his expected vote today or tomorrow for a blank check on Bush's war, it will be interesting to see if he regains support from the right and/or loses it on the left. Guess we'll have to wait until June!

Update, 1pm--
Following up on the news, a quote from DPO head Meredith Wood Smith. The rapid response of the party has become excellent over the last couple of months. Keep it up!
“Gordon Smith’s determination to stand with President Bush and against Oregonians’ interests is eroding his support,” DPO Chair Meredith Wood Smith said. “Oregonians will not stand for a representative who votes with President Bush 90 percent of the time. Oregonians will not stand for a representative who earns a 15 percent score from pro-choice advocates and a 14 percent score from environmental advocates.”

*also known as election time

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

House GOP: "My Position Is [Insert Position Provided by Leadership]"

Did you know that every so often, Salem public access TV airs video reports from willing legislators? Well, neither did I--but whaddya know, there they are. Either Senators aren't aware either, or they are camera-shy, since only two of them recorded a spot for this go-round. Twenty-eight of the 60 Representatives did one, which is better but still less than half.

I don't particularly care who does and who doesn't, although especially in areas without strong media coverage (which I'm tempted to say is the whole state though I'll hold my tongue) they could be fairly valuable news updates--but if you're going to make a video for your constituents, number one make it decent to watch and number two make it your own. Be yourself, and talk to your voters about what's important to you. If you have a message that your caucus really wants to drive home go ahead and deliver that message, but at least explain why you feel it's important.

I say this because certain members of our House GOP seem a little cramped when it comes to telling us what's on their mind. Check out each of the three reports, below. Each one runs about 2 minutes, and you really need to watch the first one all the way through to see what's going on in the other two. First, Jerry Krummel:
Now Kim Thatcher:
And finally, partner in wingnuttia Linda Flores:
I must admit upfront that one flaw the Reps are probably not responsible for is the video quality; while they were not exactly HDTV before, I've exacerbated things a bit by uploading them at a fairly low bandwidth. So I apologize for the quality, but even if they were done in Cinemascope you'd still have to admit that these productions make South Park look like a Fellini joint.

Despite being good for a laugh, the off-camera stares, darting eyes and obvious cue-card reading are really not the point. If you watched enough of all three, the point becomes obvious: they're all reading the same script! Flores at least gets through it OK, while Krummel mangles his version and Thatcher provides lots of cheery inflection that--if you didn't now know better--might persuade you that it was coming from her brain. But 99.9% of what they say is EXACTLY the same for all three.

This isn't a major surprise; many GOP campaigns last cycle were run by people from the same consultancy outfit (the now-fired Chuck Adams and Co.), and they had a tendency to make their candidates say the same things on the stump, and give them astroturfed policy ideas which they were supposed to claim as their own (such as the warmed over "65% for schools" ploy). But it's uncanny how a caucus likely opposed to human cloning wants to turn its members into 29 differently-dressed versions of the same reactionary legislator. They must go through a shitload of batteries in Wayne Scott's office, trying to make sure everyone's bullshit processors don't fail at the wrong moment. Maybe that's why Wayne's people refuse to entertain us when we show up at his office--we keep getting there when they're rebooting the team.

I'm a Mac...
...and I'm a PC. (And I'm a PC too! And me! Also me! And me too!)

At least this way, if you have a question about how your Republican legislator feels about a given issue, you only have to make one call. The Oregon House--your one-stop shop for Republican opinion...literally!

Yay Blazers...don't forget the background check

Not being a follower of the NBA, I'm not especially sharing the rapturous collective orgasm of Blazer fans as a result of a surprise winning of the NBA draft lottery.

I'm not a fan of basketball in general--including college. Yesterday afternoon was the first time I ever heard the names Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

Given the recent history of the franchise, I hope the management scrutinizes the personal history of these two young men before they make their choice.

Just sayin'.

Rude TJ Update, 930AM--

I don't think there will be any problems with either Oden or Durant, character-wise. Oden in particular is viewed as a man of strong character.

But the reason for the update is that in some highly serendipitious timing, the Blazers have cast their lot with Comcast for broadcast rights next season, dumping Fox Sports Northwest in favor of the new SportsNet Northwest from the cable provider:
Sides say talks broke down between Fox and the Blazers. Fox says the team was asking too much, especially after a dismal year.
Is this another ASCN? I don’t think so. Comcast has proved this can work in other markets.

This leaves FSN alone in Seattle (they could change their name to “FSN Seattle”) with almost all their content there.

Portland is the smallest market for this type of channel. Other region-specific channels are just that, region-specific. Besides community access and Comcast-14, this will be Portland’s first all-sports, all-oregon channel.
I bet Fox is wishing they could re-evaluate the deal now; interest in watching the Blazers next season is going to be sky-high. Whooops! And in general, the new channel should be a good thing for Oregon sports, since FSN is mostly a Seattle-based channel. Look for events like OSU Beavers baseball and OSAA Level 6 high school championships to be more broadly televised, along with things like the Winterhawks and maybe even the Lumberjaxx and Timbers, and perhaps the Prefontaine Classic from Eugene.

If you're a sports fan in Portland, this is turning out to be a kick-ass day for you!

Wayne Scott possibly violating House Rules--uses legislative office to solicit campaign support

Much has been made of the deteriorating relationship between Dem House Majority Leader Dave Hunt and GOP House Minority Leader Wayne Scott. Scott claims that all of Hunt's motives are political and that he thinks its safe to say that they don't respect each other.

I doubt Hunt would say that he disrespects Scott. But I do think that Scott is doing everything he can to undermine this legislative session.

Its no secret that Scott is very unhappy being in the minority. The loss of power and control has grated on the point where it appears he may have broken the House Rules (PDF page 3--see House Rule 19.20 regarding the solicitation of campaign contributions during session).

Recently, Scott sent out a letter to supporters. Both pages of this letter appear below. Click on them individually to enlarge them.

The verbage at the bottom of the second page is unmistakeable:

As we look to the future, I hope I can count on your support for our efforts to return sensible leadership to Oregon's Capitol.

In reality, Scott could claim he means something other than money when he says "support", so I doubt anyone will actually make a formal complaint with the House Clerk. But its quite obvious that he is asking them to open their wallets for his PACs and for the Oregon Republican Party.

While Scott didn't use any taxpayer money for the letter..its also clear he's using his post as Minority Leader to collude with other legislators, his PACs and the Oregon Republican Party to send out hit-piece mailers.

Its not as if Scott hasn't already been caught colluding with Freedomworks. And while Scott would like everyone to believe that its simply coincidence that the hit mailers against Democrats just happened to fall THE NEXT DAY after he had a bill manipulated via procedural bullshit--those of us watching the legislature know better.

Beginning at the start of session with a negotiated deal on limits on gifts from lobbyists to attempts to yank the K-12 funding bill out of committee before the May revenue forecast came out, just so they could use them as press release and fodder for hit mailers, Scott has been a dishonest broker with the House Democrats.

If the Oregon media really wants to make note of a deteriorating relationship, its looking in the wrong place. It isn't with Hunt and Scott. Its with the Oregon Republican Party and Oregonians.

We send our legislators to Salem to deal with legislation--not use the legislature as a de-facto campaign office. Unfortunately, Wayne Scott has abandoned all pretense of being a legislator. He's in full campaign mode from his office in the Capitol building. And his Republican colleagues in the House are falling right in line to do it with him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A most excellent catch

Getting Wu-ed

For those of you who living in the First Congressional District, a chance to see your Congressman is imminent.

Who: David Wu
What:7th Annual Wu Environmental Forum
When: Tuesday, May 29 4:00-5:30PM
Where:Cornelius City Council Chambers, 1310 N. Adair Street,Cornelius, Oregon

A footnote: This information came from my personal email, not the Loaded Orygun mail. The Wu people aren't that thrilled with us--cuz we're rather brutally honest (This is me too, btw). Oh..and then there's this.

I'm going to make an effort to show up for this, although this is going to be tough for me to work into my schedule, as I'd imagine it'll be for most. This event is being held in the middle of the week during a time when most people are still at work--out in the most rural part of Wu's district.

I have a hard time believing this isn't by design.

Congressional Quarterly on OR-Sen: Get Local Help!

Well, I suppose it's nice that the Oregon Senate race is gaining national attention, but yesterday the well-regarded Congressional Quarterly's CQPolitics blog served up a piece on the aftermath of Blumenauer's "no" response that generally reflected the status of the race correctly, but showcased a host of embarassing factual errors. At least, I hope they're embarassed. Check it out:
Democrats have targeted Smith because Oregon, traditionally a partisan swing state, now gives Democrats the edge in voter registration and, for the most part, in election outcomes — due in part to the state’s large numbers of left-leaning independent voters.
"Now gives Democrats the edge?" The Secretary of State's office helpfully points out that Democrats have had the registration edge for every general election since at LEAST 1964. If anything, Oregon has traditionally been a Democratic state that elected non-mouthbreathing Republicans when it so chose--notice that the gaps in registration used to be much more heavily in favor of the Dems.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry carried the state with 51 percent of the vote to 47 percent for President Bush in 2004, putting Oregon in the Democratic column for the fifth consecutive presidential contest. In 2006, Democrat Theodore R. Kulongoski was re-elected as governor, and his party’s takeover of the Oregon House gave it complete control over the state’s government.
Kerry actually got 51.59% of the vote, which by normal journalistic standards means he won with 52%, not 51%. (Bush's total was 47.4%, so that's right). And the author has changed it now, but this paragraph used to say "and his party's takeover of the Oregon Senate..." Whoops.
State Sen. Alan Bates, for one, has said he is “seriously considering” taking on Smith. Bates is a doctor and has made a name for himself working on health care policy.

“He’s a Democrat coming from a Republican-leaning district . . . The Democrats need someone who can win downstate in Clackamas County and pull at least some votes in eastern Oregon,” Gronke said. “Bates has that kind of style.”
A two-fer here. The first is a bit mushy--it's actually a quote rather than an assertion by the author, and it's true his entire district is Republican by less than 2 percentage points--but Bates is from Ashland, about as blue as it gets. But ignore that one if you like; the only people for whom Clackamas County is "downstate" are those living in Portland. It's an immediately adjacent suburb of the Rose City...!
“It’s hard to imagine Westlund getting reelected to the state Senate,” Lunch said, noting the distinct Republican lean of voters in his district centered in the eastern Oregon city of Bend, who may be alienated by Westlund’s party swap. “It makes a lot of sense for him to be looking down the road.”
Again, get this guy a map. Eastern Oregon? That's news to the people of Bend, who consider themselves the heart of CENTRAL Oregon.
While Democrats mull their options, there’s also a chance Smith might have to field a challenge from the right. John Frohnmayer, University of Oregon president and former head of the National Endowment for the Arts under President George H. W. Bush, has said he is considering running as a right-of-center independent.
John is not UO President; that would be his brother Dave.

Maybe we're better off laboring in obscurity after all.

Rogue's Followup: Curry Begs State for Help

As we mentioned yesterday, the Rogue Pundit is serving us well as the blogger's conduit to Southern Oregon news. We learned that Jackson and Josephine Counties are making deep cuts to core services like public safety, and RP hinted that things were even worse in Curry County.

This is what worse looks like, reported via the Curry Pilot:
Commissioners in Curry County told the governor on Monday that they can't keep their citizens safe. Commissioners say it's because they don't have the money for any sheriff's deputies. That's after a tax levy to replace timber funding failed last week.

Curry County Commissioner Marlyn Schafer says they sent a letter off to the governor's office telling him they need additional state police stationed in the county because there won't be any deputies. She says that the letter indicates if there is a disaster or crime, the county can't do anything and the state needs to step in. Schafer says they communicated to the governor's office that "we expect the state to help us immediately."

Curry County commissioners haven't announced which county workers will lose their jobs. Commissioners are expected to meet Tuesday to work on a list of workers they must let go. They expect to have that list by the end of the week.

(Commissioner) La Bonté said the declaration was to draw the attention of the president and Congress to the fact it is an emergency.

"We're getting the message, especially from the president, they don't believe this is an emergency. We're hoping this will draw a little more attention," La Bonté said.
I guess if your thing is burning up Honda CRVs, you might like to know that there are probably a few in Curry that are going unprotected. And that may go as well for four other counties who will similarly declare an emergency, according to one of Curry's commissioners.

The ThirdWorldification of our country continues...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bumping and grinding against ridiculous

If the Democratically controlled state legislature cannot increase the ridiculous $10 corporate minimum tax, they owe the electorate an apology.

That's just crazy.

If it isn't increased, an increase should absolutely be on the ballot in 2008.

Steve Novick for Senate: Updated

[Editor's note: This post was drafted by Carla and TJ--together. It was a joint effort. Readers should understand that our endorsement of Steve is for both of us as a team even though the piece appears under TJ's handle]

Aren't we just a touch late in announcing this, you may wonder? Steve's been officially a candidate for just over a month now, and has certainly been the subject of much discussion around the blogosphere as well as the state's media outlets. So why the headline now?

Quite simply, because it's time now. When Steve declared we were still seeing if Peter DeFazio had a mind to take on Gordon Smith, and in fact it was a bit awkward to talk about Peter without acknowledging that we were virtually ignoring someone who was willing to enter the race, in favor of someone who turned out to be indefatigably unwilling.

And then the question turned to Earl Blumenauer, who was somewhat less attractive as a statewide galvanizer but much more palatable as a risk option. That combination proved unenticing to Earl, who like DeFazio was enjoying his rare taste of power too much to roll the dice on a freshman seat in the other body. In his wake, a roll call redux of other "establishment" candidates revealed their own non-intentions this week. Virtually no one on the tip of anyone's tongue seems willing to toss his hat.

There are several legislative candidates now hearing rumblings around their names, and we'll touch on that in a bit. But with the departure of Blumenauer, we think it's time to step up and cast our lot in the primary with the kind of candidate progressives always claim they want, but are often too frightened to fight for--Steve Novick.

The rule for judging candidacies should be to elevate the issues and squelch horse race considerations whenever possible. Obviously a candidate who is perfect on the issues but has a worrying tendency to gaffe on the stump or carries some personal anvil isn't going to work out. We initially found Novick's candidacy a touchy subject because we concentrated on his theoretical "electability' weakness while foregoing his substantive strengths. No more.

The truth is that the only major barrier Novick faces is that almost no one outside the Oregon political bubble has any idea who he is. This is an eminently fixable problem. For many unknown candidates, they are simply too bland, too safe or too same-y to break through the noise and develop Q rating. Steve's physical characteristics, whipsmart mind, rapier wit and compelling story make an immediate impression wherever he goes. Once hooked (bad pun, sorry) he is able to hold audiences with his position on the issues.

So what about those other potentials? This week Senator Alan Bates said he was seriously thinking about thinking about it, while names like Jeff Merkley and Kate Brown popped into speculative brains. Any one of the people we've heard named could be effective candidates and Senators, but two things collectively hold them back:

1. At best they're no better on the issues than Steve
2. They're not running (so far).

As TJ tried to explain for the 10th time to Mrs. Joe why we were pitching for DeFazio, she would ask, "Why are you pushing for someone who doesn't seem to want it? They should already be in, asking you for help."

As is often the case, she turned out to be right: gumption and initiative count for an awful lot. We welcome new entrants to the race; anyone who wants to explain to Oregonians why Gordon Smith needs to be replaced is OK with us. But unless something changes radically, we've already got a candidate who CAN beat Gordo, who SHOULD beat Gordo, and who will definitely OUTGOVERN Gordo on our behalf. His name is Steve Novick. Donate here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spanning the State--They think you're stupid, edition

The twice-weekly waste that is David Reinhard's Oregonian column continues to remain consistent. Today, Reinhard postulates that opponents of Measure 37 think that the electorate is stupid. Reinhard makes this claim because opponents say that voters didn't know what they were getting when they voted for the Measure. Reinhard says they did. But as per usual, the facts don't jive with what Reinhard writes. In reality, its Reinhard who thinks we're stupid.

And now, let's Span the State!


Due to a shortage of domestically trained nurses, Rogue Valley Medical Center is hiring foreign trained nurses. RVMC expects to hire a lot more of their nursing staff from the foreign-trained pool as they lose more of the American trained staff to attrition.

The Albany-Herald's editorial staff published a joke of an editorial this week about gas prices. First, they quote a mysteriously unnamed "state economist" about the drag on the economy due to gas prices. But their solution may have been written by Exxon-Mobil: more drilling in the US territories. No calls for alternative fuel cars and sources. No discussion of collusion by refinaries to jack prices up. Just the old canard that despite massive evidence to the contrary, drilling in ANWR is the solution.

A social studies teacher at Baker Middle School has facilitated staff and student participation in raising funds to give loans to low income entrepeneurs in developing countries. Teacher Bill Mitchell learned of the KIVA program of sponsoring these small businesses last summer. Their efforts fit in perfectly with this year's school-wide theme: "service to others". So far, they've been able to use their $725 in donations to give loans to eight different businesses.

The Bend-LaPine School District is seeing a sharp rise in the number of students diagnosed with autism.

A catfight of soap operatic proportions is brewing in North Bend. Ocean Air Aviation owner Ed Langerveld and Coos County Airport District Board Director Helen Brunell Mineau are having a very public spat about activity and conduct at the local airport. Charges of favoritism and unethical behavior are flying. The airport is becoming a crucial part of the local economy due to the wildly popular Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

The Eugene Weekly has noted that Eugene City Manager Dennis Taylor is asking the city for a raise BEFORE his performance evaluation. EW says that historically, Taylor's reviews have been mixed--conservatives on the city council tend to like him, progressives on the council find him lacking. Mayor Kitty Piercy appears in favor of the pre-review meeting, saying that the council should make sure that the City Manager's salary is commensurate with other city managers around the nation.

A really creepy looking pharmacist in Hermiston has been busted for 24 separate violations of pharmacy rules/statutes.

The Madras Pioneer paper has a considerably one-sided piece on Senate Bill 30, which would ban destination resorts within 3 miles of the Metolius River. The bill is sponsored by Ben Westlund--who reporter Holly Gill doesn't bother to quote in the piece. But Gill happily quotes Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day).

AP writer Brad Cain has a nice write-up about Steve Novick.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Les Schwab, RIP

It's the rare corporate titan who earns a eulogizing obituary from me; you've got to have some mighty good karma about the way you rake in the dough. Les Schwab did it the right way:
``There will never be another Les,'' Phil Wick, chairman of Les Schwab Tire Centers, said in a statement. ``He was a visionary, and all of us who worked with him will stay true to his vision of integrity, service and treating people right.''

Until about a decade ago, Schwab appeared in nearly every commercial for his company, making him one of the best-known faces in the West and fixing himself in the region's collective consciousness.

Employees wear their hair above the collar and sprint to customers' cars when they pull in.

``They are known for their service and dealers from around the United States will travel to Les' stores to see how he does business,'' said Bob Ulrich, editor of the Modern Tire Dealer.

``Superb customer service is the key and Les just happens to be better at it than anyone.''

Schwab's profit-sharing program put 55 percent of profits - or more than $60 million - in employees' pockets in 2002, which encouraged worker loyalty. And Schwab liked to promote employees from within.

``Why wouldn't you work for him? You've got to work hard, but what if you were guaranteed to retire wealthy?'' Ulrich said. ``His profit-sharing is a great program, and it's rare.''
You can't underestimate the power of employee loyalty to a company's success, but the covenant between owner and employee that used to exist--work hard for me and you've got a job until you drop--dissolved a number of years ago. It's just too tempting to muck with your labor force, given the percentage of most owner's costs represented by labor. And so in return, employees take no investment in the fortunes of the company on a daily basis, and leave on a whim taking their training and experience with them. Maybe Les just understood what hard work was worth:
His mother died of pneumonia when he was 15 and his father, an alcoholic, was found dead in front of a bar just before Schwab's 16th birthday.

An aunt and uncle offered to take him in but he rented a room at a Bend boarding house for $15 a month and delivered newspapers for The Oregon Journal while struggling to finish high school.

He got the coveted downtown delivery route and added another, and at 17 was making $200 a month, about $65 more than his high school principal, and owned the only new car at school, a Chevrolet sedan.

After graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Harlan, and continued selling newspapers full time. At 25, he took a job as circulation manager of The Bend Bulletin, but wanted to try something more lucrative.

He borrowed $11,000 from his brother-in-law in 1952, sold his house and borrowed on his life insurance policy. He walked away with O.K. Rubber Welders, a dilapidated tire franchise with no running water and an outdoor toilet. He knew nothing of tires and had no formal business training.

But by the end of the first year, Schwab had done $150,000 in business, five times more than its previous owner - and by 1955 he had opened four more stores, two under the name Les Schwab Tire Centers.
We'll miss your corny commercials, but we've got the people running out to meet our car, and the free beef, to remember you by. And that's probably how Les wanted it.