Saturday, June 30, 2007

Summer of Steve Day 6--Utter Begging Edition

Well here we are at June 30th, the last day of the second quarter for fundraising if you're a federal candidate. And when those reports come out in the middle of next month, donors and inner-Beltway politicos will look the numbers over and decide whether it's worth considering that candidate as "serious." We've said all along that Steve may have to run against the DSCC's chosen candidate, so we already know that it may be a fight waged at the ultimate retail level if that's the case. But it's certainly going to be easier if Steve IS the chosen candidate of the party elites, and so it's vitally important that he show the ability to raise money.

And that's where you come in. Not only amounts but number of donors are important. So don't be embarrassed about your $5 or $10 or $20. It's waaaay early in the cycle, and there's time to do more later. But now is the time to put your chit down and tell the opinion makers that you want to see someone like Steve given the chance to show Oregonians what he's capable of. Just through gifts over ActBlue, nearly 500 contributors have put over $100,000 into the kitty. We're proud to be the top non-Novick fundraising page for him, even if it is just $330. Can you help bring us to $500 by midnight? We've had a couple of $50 and $100 donors who have been very generous, but a dozen of you at $20 would do the trick as well.

Can you help? Go to our page and drop down whatever you can for now. We all say we WANT fresh blood and a new kind of politician in Congress, but it doesn't just happen. You have to help make it so. We're doing our part. Are you?

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The O Runs Fish Kill Op-Ed, Gordon AWOL

Middle Earth says it best:
Where's Gordon?
Yes, ask those questions Mr DeFazio but unlike the Oregonian make sure Gordon Smith's name comes up. Even if the Oregonian doesn't recognize it Mr Smith is a key player in all of this.

Amen. You just knew they'd come around to the story eventually...and sidestep the part specifically relevant to Oregon.


Pantry Pride: Gordon, You Suck. Thank You, Come Again!

As Gordon Smith continues trying to find the sweet spot of re-electability, tacking rightward again this week by rejecting the immigration bill in a move that some conservatives say will bring them home to him, he has found the intersection of his promises--at the corner of Marlboro Way and Joe Camel Lane.

Smith's support for both the Oregon Healthy Kids plan that funded child health care by taxing cigarettes, and the federal excise tax for funding child health care (sound familiar?) was not exactly a reach, since as many as 3/4 of Oregonians are OK with it. So while surely he imagines it to be a feather in his "I'm not really all that Republican" cap, many regular Republicans agree with the plan as well. The hardcore anti-tax wing of the party is pissed, however:
Plaid Pantry Inc.'s president and CEO Chris Girard said he will no longer support the lawmaker either financially or personally, due to the senator's current stance on tobacco tax legislation.

Early in his campaign, Smith and Girard discussed the importance of the tobacco and alcohol categories to Plaid Pantries, and Smith's support of small business, according to the letter. Now, with Smith supporting a federal excise tax and state cigarette tax increase, Girard wrote that he can no longer support the senator.
That kinda reads like a Dear John letter, doesn't it? I actually have a real problem with the CEO of Pantry Pride being so shortsighted and self-interested that a vote like this regarding his business overrides anything else the guy has ever done. I could see you leaving a politician over the war, or scandal, or even being "too weak on immigration" I guess. But even after acknowledging he'll probably sell fewer cigarettes because of the tax, is he really predicating his vote for US Senate--a body of 100 serving 300 million people--on his bottom line for smokes? Seems awfully shallow.

Shallow or not, Girard doesn't just own a few stores (and really, 104 stores with about $115mil in business {pdf} is not anybody's idea of "small"), and he also happens to be head of the Oregon Neighborhood Store Association, a small player in the Salem money game but with a visible presence that serves as the Oregon face of the National Association of Convenience Stores, which IS an active national lobbying player. He may not be a small businessman, but many people who own little stores like that are. And who knows how many Girard is taking with him.

CNN very helpfully provides a PDF of the letter from Girard to Smith. Damn, he's all totally ticked off and stuff (pdf}, isn't he?

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Blazer draft analysis: giving a shit so I don't have to

I think between the two of us, it's a hands-down easy bet to make that TJ is the more interested in the goings-on of the NBA. I'm much more of a baseball and football kinda girl.

Ross Day (yeah, the Oregonians In Action dude), has a sports blog in which he offers his own take on the Blazer's draft day grade.

Despite his absolutely whacko beliefs on land-use, Ross is a great guy. And he's done a pretty extensive check it out.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer of Steve--two more days of mojo!

While Gordon Smith is down at Bandon Dunes this weekend yukking it up with his fat cat donors, I wonder which of them will be writing an extra big check to his campaign? Will it be the ones who benefit from Smith's votes screwing over attempts at alternative energy sources?

The fact that this guy has been able to get away with the "moderate" label is complete garbage. His complicity in voting to submarine legislation that would help secure energy that has nothing to do with Middle East oil is shameful.

We need a Senator in Washington that isn't beholden to big oil.

We need Steve Novick.

Give Steve some MOJO and let's kick Gordon Smith's ass out of DC.

Speak Arabic? Got your affairs in order?

If you can answer "yes" to both of those subject headline questions, then Pena Solution might have a gig for you:

Pena Solution is accepting resumes while this is under construction. You can apply for the following positions: Arabic Linguist categories I,II, and III for Centcom contract in Iraq, System Adminstrators for Iraq, Registered Nurses and Radiologist Positions for stateside locations.

Interested parties should submit their resume to, apparently.

I discovered this job opening while perusing the Portland job listings on Craig's List. That's where I've previously seen Tim Trickey pimping his wares.

It's fairly disconcerting that the US military (after 4 years of occuping Iraq) can't figure out how to train enough Arabic translators to conduct meetings for CENTCOM. We apparently have to farm out this out to civilians. Lovely.

I'm curious about how much of our tax dollars are going to the salaries of these contractors--and how much oversight is actually conducted over their activities and spending.

Perhaps if the Bush Administration wasn't so busy trying to weed out the gays from the military, we might have enough translators in the military to get the job done.

Golden More Likely To Run--Now That He's Out of Work

From the Ashland Tidings, which has to be enjoying the attention, this web item about radio host Jeff Golden's calendar suddenly being totally freed up:
Ron Kramer, executive director of JPR, said after the Daily Tidings first reported that Golden is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, the station and Golden “reached a mutual agreement that it was not feasible for him to continue” hosting “The Jefferson Exchange.”

Kramer said he was “entirely unaware” that Golden, a former Jackson County commissioner, had political aspirations until Tuesday, the day before the Tidings ran its front page story.
Does this sound entirely mutual? I think somebody panicked. But it's true; the smart move is definitely to disassociate with any free media voice you have while acting as a candidate.

Shouldn't someone tell that to ABC in reference to Fred Thompson, who blogs on happily as late as yesterday? Golden was just thinking out loud, for all we know, and may never have decided to run if not for being essentially fired. Thompson has an exploratory committee, and yet he's still an ABC go-to guy. I love our media!

We'll try to get a hold of Jeff and see if this has caused his plans to coalesce. Some choose runs, and some have runs thrust upon them...

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

BREAKING: Blockbuster Trade Sends Randolph to Knicks

Wow--the Blazers have not only snagged the consensus potential center of the decade in Greg Oden, at the draft they just announced that the Knicks have agreed to take Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau and Fred Jones for Steve Francis and Channing Frye.

Holy smokes--the one part of taking Oden that people thought might not be a fit was that it didn't look right with Randolph in it. LaMarcus Aldridge was the natural player there, and so Zach wasn't a fit. On top of that, he has a big contract and is also by far the worst remaining offender from JailBlazer days (Miles is more petulant but less dangerous).

The Knick fans looked like they were about to climax when the trade was announced; they are thinking they got the final major piece, and maybe that's true. Randolph is a huge player in the NBA, and that he was snubbed--twice--in the All-Star selections does not begin to tell what kind of year he had. But the Blazers have to be well satisfied that they've gotten something of use and are rid of the whole situation.

Steve Francis? Decent player, could be a big help, especially replacing some of Randolph's scoring--but he could be a chemistry killer in his own right. Frye is another talented young player that the Blazers can exploit if he blossoms, but he's raw. This is definitely a money deal, but the apparent combination of Randolph's low trade value and Pritchard's desire to get rid of Z-Bo has resulted in what you see here, agreed to in principle.

We'll see what happens here--maybe they flip something else with Miles, maybe not. The bottom line is that Randolph was always trade bait, so mission accomplished one way or another. His contract is off the team's back.

Confirmed here.

Also, the video of the crowd at the Rose Garden when it was announced is pretty cool.

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Senate Dems choose Devlin

Richard Devlin has been chosen to replace Kate Brown as Senate Majority Leader for the Oregon Democrats.

From the press release:

Kate Brown, who led the Senate Democrats to a successful session in 2007, turns over the reins to incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin.

The Dems get Santa!!


Summer of Steve! Day 4--Enviro Warrior Edition

[putting the money shot at the top--give to Steve Novick's campaign today, to show the Democratic establishment that Oregonians believe in a new, people-oriented direction for the Senate...remember, if you file taxes in Oregon you can get a $50 credit per person for your contributions in each year. It's like the first $50 is free!]

We're on Day 4 of our 6-day drive to the finish of 2Q fundraising, Steve's first quarter as a federal candidate. Here's what he has to say about why it's so important for you to give this week if you're thinking of giving:
We have forty-eight hours to prove our strength. Forty-eight hours to show that this campaign is not a long shot, but a juggernaut.

Forty-eight hours to show that we are the campaign to dislodge Gordon Smith ... who this week struck another blow against working Oregonians with his vote against the Employee Free Choice Act.

As I mentioned the other day, Saturday, June 30 is the end of our first FEC reporting period. We will be judged by how much money we have raised as of that date. We've raised a mess of money already, from over 500 of you. But we can be, we must be, even more impressive.

Some of you have already given all that you can afford, and for that, I thank you profusely. But if you think you could help a little more, or can find someone else who would - now is the time. Go to and start hitting buttons.

Thank you so much for everything you have done and will do. It really does matter...
Amen. And to continue our pattern of comparing and contrasting Steve with el Gordo on the issues, look no further than our story this morning on the latter's active participation in putting politics before science. There's no official comment from Steve at this time on those revelations, but his record on the environment speaks for itself:
After stops in law firms in New York and San Francisco, Steve joined the Environment Division (then known as the "Land and Natural Resources Division") of the United States Justice Department in 1987. He brought successful lawsuits against polluters for violations of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. He also served as lead counsel in the notorious Love Canal case. On that case in 1995, Steve and his team negotiated a settlement in which Occidental Chemical repaid the taxpayers $129 million in cleanup costs and interest. Announcing the settlement, Attorney General Janet Reno said: "Today we celebrate a transformation of an environmental disaster called Love Canal into a success story .... It [the settlement] stands for the principle that when people make a mess, they should pay to clean it up."
If the environment is your big issue, this race is no contest. Vote Hook!

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BREAKING: Minnis Announces Retirement

The word from Salem is that moments ago, former House Speaker Karen Minnis announced her retirement from the floor, saying this will be her last session. It was expected, rumored, conventional wisdom--but now it's official: it's an open race in HD49! If former Majority Leader Wayne Scott also bows out, the last vestiges of the awful Minnis/Scott cabal that nearly trashed our state will be gone and (hopefully) politically buried.

So who's up for another run? Rob Brading, call on line 1...

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Investigation of Cheney/Smith Klamath deal in the works

It looks like Darth Dick Cheney is going to have to deal with yet another investigation into his dirty dealings:

Late Wednesday evening, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, received a letter from 36 House Democrats from California and Oregon calling for an oversight hearing on the alarming role Vice President Dick Cheney may have played in Klamath River Basin decisions. As reported by the Washington Post on June 27, 2007, Cheney’s intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River resulted in a 2002 die-off of around 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border – the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West.

Today, Rep. Rahall released the following statement in response to the request from House Democrats:

“This Committee has already begun examining the penchant for this Administration to favor politics over science in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, which was highlighted during a May 9th hearing and in the resignation of the Interior Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks over the fiasco.

“In light of the revelations being made over the situation in the Klamath River Basin, it is my intention to again convene the Committee to delve into the issues raised by the Members of Congress from California and Oregon. It certainly appears this Administration will stop at nothing to achieve political gain from natural resources disasters. Ultimately, it will be hardworking Americans and their healthy environment that will lose if we fail to act.”

Interestingly, the local daily couldn't be bothered to write such a significant story. We have to look all the way to Seattle:

WASHINGTON — West Coast Democrats called for a hearing Wednesday into the role Vice President Dick Cheney may have played in the 2002 die-off of about 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border.

An article in The Washington Post on Wednesday said Cheney played a crucial role in developing a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River that courts later called arbitrary and in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Democrats charged that Cheney's action resulted in the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West.

"The ramifications of that salmon kill are still being felt today as returns to the Klamath River are so low that commercial, sport and tribal fishing seasons have been curtailed for the past three years," Democrats said in a letter calling for the hearing.

I live in hope that the Oregonian will actually assign this story to a local investigative reporter with the actual chops (Walth) to follow it where it leads.

I'll try not to turn blue holding my breath, however.

[Update: 10:55--TJ tells me that the O has this in their print edition. I scoured the online version at Oregonlive and couldn't find it, so its either buried online or it isn't there, I guess]

[Update: 11:30--Here is the O's story online. The update says 10:40, which is when I was wrapping up writing the initial piece, which probably explains why I couldn't find it]
(h/t: The Gavel, aka Pelosi's blog)

Gordo Passive In Fish-Killing Politics? Think Again

The Klamath water controversy that flared in 2001 and 2002 and goes on to this day has become something of a national story, most vividly wrapped inside a devastatingly precise indictment of Dick Cheney's term as Vice President. Jason Leopold's story that we looked over on Monday reminded everyone of Karl Rove's intervention and subsequent airy clearing of wrongdoing by the Interior IG (fedora doff to Bill at P3, noble work). Now Darlene Hooley has asked for an investigation into Cheney's role--it has truly been a shitty week for that guy, and I hope it continues and also he suddenly can't shake the hiccups. Hah.

What did both evildoers have in common as their motivation in the Klamath case? If you said the reelection of Gordon Smith in 2002, score one on your personal chalkboard. Where, in each of these storylines of politics over science and the electoral jimmying of a Senate office, does Gordon Smith appear? If you said "only in the context of being the guy people seemed to be doing awfully nice things for, convoluted and difficult things to try to keep him in office and hold power in the about-to-be-Democratic Senate," hack into this account and start writing my columns for me.

I hope he takes it as a compliment if he finds out I'm calling him a smooth, dirty bastard, although it's more in awe than any respect. Because of course that's exactly what everybody wanted for Gordon, and it's certainly what Gordon wanted for himself--personal distance from the dirty work that is sometimes necessary to make things go, when following the law as written becomes unfruitful. It certainly is important to see if Dick and/or Rove can be busted for jiggering the evidence, but aren't we forgetting somebody? Why is there no examination of Gordon Smith's role in the greatest fish kill in recorded Western history, on his own electoral behalf?

The pieces have come out in dribs. They haven't been connected, but the evidence has been there all along of Smith's very active efforts to do whatever he could to prioritize the farmers of the lower Klamath . You have to pay for the archives of the Klamath Herald and News, but the since-departed John Bragg followed Smith's involvement from the very beginning in early 2001, as the Bush administration sauntered in after Inauguration Day and the water level crisis began. If you want to see any of the articles in their entirety I will email them to you for educational use.

On March 30 in 2001, here's how passive Gordo wasn't being about the looming situation:
Sen. Gordon Smith has asked President Bush to step into the debate over what should be done with Klamath Basin water. In a letter to Bush Thursday, Smith outlined the situation which pits the needs of irrigators against the needs of endangered species.

"I have been working for several months to try to head off the crisis that the farmers I represent are currently facing," Smith wrote. He requested Bush to make emergency funds available for farmers this summer.

"I respectfully request that your domestic policy team become involved in this issue today," he wrote.

Smith, R-Ore., told Bush that while the Klamath Basin farmers "no doubt" are suffering the effects of a severe drought, they were suffering more from the effects of the previous administration.

"Added to the natural drought is a regulatory drought that could leave them with no water for their crops. This should not happen on your watch," Smith wrote.
Note that Smith didn't actually ask Bush; he asked the "domestic policy team." Karl Rove is the head of domestic policy in the White House.

If you take nothing else from this particular piece, and all the shitty little ways Gordon Smith interjected his personal and political gain into the supposedly scientific decision about who gets the water, continue to ask Smith this question until you get an answer:
Why is a US Senator asking the head of executive domestic policy to intervene in a matter handled normally by science agencies and in dispute by the courts? In other words, what business was it of Rove's, and for that matter what about Smith? Was that a proper thing to do?
That was just the beginning of Smith's attempts to reverse the conclusion that water levels had to be raised, costing farmers water. Just 10 days later, Smith stood in a banquet room of the Klamath Shilo Inn after the decision to protect the fish came down, and said "I am here to be your whipping post"--and whipped he was, by about 700 angry farmers telling him they wanted the law changed.

Smith was sympathetic, but "wasted no time in telling the small group he was seeking ideas to take back to Washington, D.C." (700 is small??) And he tried to spin the crowd. According the Herald, despite the angry mood of the crowd at Dick Cheney's decision to follow the law (at first), Smith was clearly in the loop on exactly the same thing a Cheney aide heard the VP say (as we learned today from WaPo:
Another person told Smith he was upset to hear that the decision had received the approval of Vice President Dick Cheney. "I thought Cheney was on our side," the man said.

But Smith said the decision, bitter as it was, constituted a victory of sorts.

At the end of March the outlook was no water for anyone in the Basin, he explained.

"Dick Cheney stopped that order from coming down," Smith said. "He ordered the biologists back to Washington" to see if there were some way to get around the conclusion that all available water must go to protect endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and threatened coho salmon in the lower Klamath River.

Sources told the Herald and News that more than 80 biologists from federal agencies and tribes attended a whirlwind of meetings last week in Washington to review the science behind the biological opinions.

"There wasn't a single scientist who would back the administration in court," Smith said. [you bet those are my emphs!]
I'm sure Smith intended to mean that no scientist concluded the initial findings were defensible. But of course the reality is that he was being literal--none would back the administration in court because they were there NOT to back the administration, in order to justify the administration's reversal. That they could make Gordon Smith look like the hero of the farmers, getting Dick Cheney to force those damn Washington scientists to redo their math and put irrigation first, was likely just a sweet bonus to Cheney, but it surely mattered all the world to electoral nerd Karl Rove.

How else did Gordon Smith work his own magic? How about telling an outright fib to distort the debate and color public opinion? From the May 8th, 2001 Herald:
When U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith came to Klamath Falls to offer his support to farmers April 7, he expressed puzzlement about the suckers that dwell in Upper Klamath Lake.

He didn't know, Smith told a crowd of 600 or more gathered to hear him at the Shilo Inn, how government could consider endangered a fish it had once tried to extinguish by means of poison.

Smith misspoke, and another Klamath Basin "rural myth'' was perpetuated.

There is no evidence that anyone ever tried to eliminate Lost River or shortnose suckers from Upper Klamath Lake, said Roger Smith, Klamath district biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Chris Matthews, a spokesman for Sen. Smith, said he did not know what was the basis for the senator's comment.
Notice this is the same gathering at the Shilo as in the previous story a month earlier, and the 30 days caused 100 attendees to vanish from the event! I love our media.

What else did Smith do? How about introducing a law for which he was the sole sponsor, making it easier to delist species from the endangered and threatened lists, giving more powers to states, and removing the requirement of the Secretary to evaluate regulations which would adversely affect habitat? And here's yet another sentinel from Smith that suggests he knew exactly where Cheney and Rove were headed:
(1) BEST SCIENTIFIC AND COMMERCIAL DATA AVAILABLE- Where this Act requires the Secretary to use the best scientific and commercial data available, the Secretary, when evaluating comparable data, shall give greater weight to scientific or commercial data that is empirical or has been field-tested or peer-reviewed.'.
In the NAS decision that reversed the initial finding and literally opened the floodgates, the central contention was that the so called "Hardy Phase II" reports that informed much of the scientific reccomendation was only a draft and had not been fully reviewed. How amazing is that kind of foresight, to put such a clause right at the top of your bill? Fascinating.

The initial thoughts of calling in the "God Squad," as laid out in the WaPo series and an idea that was later rejected, is noted at the time by the Herald on May 18 featuring that OTHER Republican:
The God Squad, formally known as the Endangered Species Committee, could be convened under a provision of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. The law contains a provision allowing a special panel to declare an exemption to the law's requirement that threatened or endangered species be protected before all other considerations.

"We have been contacted by several of our constituents who have posed legitimate questions about this statutory exemption under the ESA," Walden, R-Ore., and Herger, R-Calif., wrote in a joint letter sent to Norton Thursday.

Convening the God Squad might allow the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation an exemption to its operations plan that requires all available water stored in Upper Klamath Lake to be held to protect habitat for endangered suckers or sent downstream to protect habitat for coho salmon, Walden and Herger said.
Then in August Smith helped shepherd through a bill providing $20 million in direct relief to any farmer who suffered a decline in irrigation supply. As WaPo detailed, even more was coming, and Smith pushed for those as well (although it should be said that much of the Oregon delegation at the time was in favor of subsidies to the farmers).

That's just the stuff that happened in public. How did Smith become so canny at knowing what the next steps in the Cheney strategy were, before they were even implemented? He sure seems like an active listener, y'know?

More to come.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer of Steve! Give him some mojo.

Steve Novick has been out and about this week, raising up some cash in his effort to defeat (boo, hiss) Gordon Smith.

Here at LO, we've raised $220 for Steve's campaign! We'd love to double or even TRIPLE that total by Sunday, so please give 'til it hurts. We want to see Steve end this month with some big time mojo.

Our hero has been out and about, attending a house party earlier in the week hosted by the lovely and talented Bev Stein. He also had a house party last evening, a fundraiser in Seattle tomorrow AND is meeting supporters in Hermiston on Sunday.

That's right, I said Hermiston.

Steve is also planning on being in Ashland over the July 4th holiday.

A man working this hard deserves your love and your support. Let's rock Steve's world tonight with your donations.

Hooley: Investigate Cheney for Klamath Debacle

Darlene wants some answers:

Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., is leading the call for a congressional investigation into Vice President Dick Cheney's involvement in the Klamath Basin water dispute in 2001.

A story in The Washington Post Wednesday detailed Cheney's management of the situation as an example of his efforts "to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business." The story reported that he called mid-level Interior officials in an effort to divert the water to farmers at the expense of the salmon run.

Hooley and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., on Wednesday evening circulated a letter among their House colleagues asking Rep. Nick Rahall, chairman of the House Resources Committee, to investigate. Thirty-four of their colleagues signed the letter, including Oregon Democrats Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and David Wu.

Of course Greg Walden's name appears nowhere on the list of people who want to see oversight conducted of the Vice President's office.

Another Challenger for Gordo?

Chris Rizo at the Ashland Daily Tidings has the scoop:
Jefferson Public Radio talk-show host Jeff Golden of Ashland is considering a run for U.S. Senate.

While insiders said he is interested in the Democratic contest, Golden downplayed the speculation Monday, saying "it's too early" and "no firm decision has been made" on whether he will run.

A member of Golden's inner circle, who insisted on anonymity, said Golden's campaign announcement would unlikely come before September, if at all.

Paulie Brading, chair of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, said Monday that she has heard of Golden's political aspirations "from a variety of people," including Golden.

The Democratic National Senatorial Committee, she said, has done extensive polling in the state in hopes of finding a candidate to unseat Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, the GOP's only West Coast senator.

Golden, 57, an author and host of JPR's weekday radio show "The Jefferson Exchange," was a Jackson County commissioner from 1987 through 1990.

He was the target of an unsuccessful recall attempt spearheaded by logging interests in 1989, and was married to former longtime Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw, now an A-list Democratic strategist in Southern Oregon.

Golden left the county executive board in 1990 to run for state Senate, narrowly losing to fourth-term Republican incumbent Lenn Hannon of Ashland.

Soon after, he took a job as chief of staff for then-state Senate President Bill Bradbury, D-Bandon. Bradbury is now secretary of state, Oregon's chief elections officer.
The more the merrier! I know little to nothing about Golden, but every new voice talking about why Gordo needs to be replaced is fine with us.

If you have stories/news about Golden and/or his potential run, share it with us in comments...

Update, 6/28 3pm--
Chris has more today on Golden, including an assessment of his chances by none other than Alan Bates--who appears to have company in the "Dem candidate from Southern Oregon" sweepstakes, and doesn't seem to like it much.

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Sizemore:PhD in Dumbassery

Our Oregon's press release used the phrase "Sizemoronic" to describe rackateering dirtbag Bill Sizemore's latest attempt to sully the lawbooks. A truly appropriate sentiment indeed.

In cahoots with Sizemore on this mess is Oregon GOP vice-president Russ Walker. Walker happens to also be the local headmaster for the Oregon chapter of Freedomworks, who will no doubt be funding part or all of this.

Yesterday Sizemore submitted the first of his stupendously inane ballot initiatives. No word on who is funding them yet...but where Sizemore treads Loren Parks is sure to follow.

One of these pieces of idiocy is Iniative 3, which would create a big, fat tax loophole for the folks who sit around the pool waiting for their dividend checks. The initiative allows for the total deduction of federal income taxes from state taxes. It would overwhelmingly favor the wealthiest in the state.

The other is Initiative Petition 19. This one really pisses me off.

IP19 would force all students in school to learn in English after their first two years in public school. NonEnglish speakers who enter the public school system during their K-4 years would get only a year and a half.

Who the fuck died and gave Bill Sizemore a PhD in Education?

One of the better ESL programs in Oregon (from my experience) is out in Forest Grove. They have a large migrant population and many new students enter the FG School District only able to speak Spanish. The District has created a track for students beginning in Kindergarten that's completely bilingual: one day students learn all in English. The next day all instruction is conducted in Spanish. Students who spend most or all of their K-12 years in the district are completely bilingual when they leave the system.

Under the Sizemore/Walker initiative, this stellar program would have to be eliminated.

What qualifies these two as experts in Education...or as experts in English, for that matter?

Wyden in The Hill--way bigger potatoes than LO

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is working the juice on his Healthy Americans Act. This time from the DC angle.

Wyden has a video up on The Hill's blog (which is a much bigger deal than anything we can do here) as well as an op-ed:

Some may question the fairness of requiring individuals to buy a basic health insurance policy. People who are insured today often ask why they should support any changes. Here’s why: as Senator Bennett has often noted, all of us already pay for universal coverage. Federal law entitles anyone who needs it to treatment in the nation’s hospital emergency rooms.

Its a little dry--but not a long read. But its worthy of your time because of its bullet-point overview of the Healthy Americans Act.

If you want to know what your Senator is doing to try and save you some serious cash, this is it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Johnson appeals directly to constituents

During one of my weekly excursions to the nether-regions of Washington County, I stopped by BJ's Coffee in Forest Grove for one of their top notch mochas. On the way in, the local paper caught my eye. Emblazened above the fold is a bizarre story about a bunch of kids hijacking a ginormous Shrek doll. As well as an announcement about the new invitees to the Tom McCall Forum hosted by Pacific University. Looks like we're getting the heinous John Bolton and the articulate (but rather ineffective) Lee Hamilton.

So I plunked my fifty cents into the blue paper box and bought the thing. If nothing else the Shrek thing might be fairly entertaining.

And then I opened up the Opinion section.

Staring me in the face is a piece of self-defense prose by State Senator Betsy Johnson. Johnson's district includes Banks, which is apparently serviced by the Forest Grove News-Times.

LO readers already know the drill on Johnson, so there's no need to rehash. But do click on the link and read about her in her own words.

Summer of Steve--On Employee Free Choice, The Difference is Clear

[putting the money shot at the top--give to Steve Novick's campaign today, to show the Democratic establishment that Oregonians believe in a new, people-oriented direction for the Senate...remember, if you file taxes in Oregon you can get a $50 credit per person for your contributions in each year. It's like the first $50 is free!]

It's Day Two of Summer of Steve Week! The last week of a federal fundraising quarter is always a frenzy for candidates; you're trying to raise as much money as humanly possible before the filing period deadline in order to impress other potential backers that you're not just a candidate--you're a movement! Steve's definitely got a movement going on, and we're part of it. We believe most Oregonians are sick to death of politicians who arrive in DC and immediately don their Protective Bubble of Political Caution(tm), and are hungry for a Democrat in particular who elucidates his or her positions without apology, actually proud instead of seemingly guilty to be holding them.

Speaking of positions Steve is proud of, there's an excellent example in the news today--the Employee Free Choice Act. The essential goal of the legislation is to greatly simplify the process by which willing employees may form a union and assert their rights to collective bargaining. In addition, it places strong penalties on companies who seek to deny or unduly pressure employees not to join. Basically, once a majority of affected employees sign a card authorizing their participation, they're all set.

Why is this important? In an exclusive comment sent to LO after the bill failed a cloture vote this morning in the Senate, Steve himself explains:
It's no accident that we had a fairer economy, with a much smaller gap between the rich and the rest of us, in the 1950's and '60's: More workers were represented by unions, which negotiated a fairer share of the pie for workers. But in the past thirty years, unionization has declined and - no coincidence - inequality has increased. The richest 1% of Americans used to get 10% of total national income; now they get 20%.

One major explanation for declining union density is that employers have taken advantage of the fact that if you illegally fire someone for attempting to organize, all you get is a slap on the wrist - so they fire and threaten people. And they take advantage of a cumbersome election process that increases their ability to threaten workers. EFCA would level the playing field, imposing real penalties on employers who break the law. Based on my experience enforcing environmental laws, I know that enforcement and penalties matter. EFCA would also simply the process of choosing a union. It's simple: A stronger labor movement means a stronger, fairer America.
There you have it. In a world where Steve Novick represents us in the Senate, he'd be a solid vote for Oregon's workers, their right to organize and to receive fair treatment in the labor marketplace. How about the guy sitting in DC now? From The Hill last Wednesday:
Smith opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, which would establish a federal right for a card check unionization process. Smith told The Hill, "It's a payback to labor for their [Democrats] support. It's not something supported by the American people."
I'd call bullshit on that last statement especially, and so would Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. See for yourself:
For the record, every Democratic candidate for President except Mike Gravel backed the bill, with Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Obama, and Kucinich all co-sponsoring it. Smith (and Walden) were the only members of the Oregon delegation to vote against it.

On issues like standing up for the people who awake each day and trudge off to work to put food on their families(!), there's just no comparison between Gordo and Steve Novick. Can you help put a shine on Steve's 2nd Quarter fundraising statement, by giving what you can to his campaign? Anything helps, honestly--just please do it by Friday so it counts in this quarter. Some people still don't believe Steve can overcome the obstacles and win. His whole life proves that wrong; now's your chance to offer a little proof of your own.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

OR House Dems--1 OR House GOP--suck

It must be hell to be a Republican in the Oregon House these days. The only thing they can do is dig in their heels with parliamentary procedures in an attempt to scuttle legislation.

Oh..and browbeat their caucus with threats of a primary challenger while using their legislative offices as defacto campaign headquarters, but I digress.

This afternoon, the House approved HB2575, creating a Family Leave Act for Oregonians. The bill establishes a $250 per week for a six week maximum for childbirth, adoption or serious family illness.

The House Republicans, in a lockstep show of immorality--attempted to scuttle the bill using various parliamentary procedures--and according to a press release from Dianne Rosenbaum:

" one point even threatening to flee the Capitol in order to deny the House a quorum. The Republican caucus--with the support of tobacco lobbysists, out-of-state corporations and national conservative groups--also repeatedly questioned a previous legal ruling declaring that the measure would require a simple 31-vote majority for passage."

The Summer of Steve starts NOW

Update, 330pm--
if you're a DailyKos account holder, it would be great if you went here and recommended the diary to give it more visibility. We'll probably be posting one every day, so if you're over there and you see it, you know what to do.

Every time we see a newspaper or tv fluff piece on Gordon Smith it's enough to make us want to scream. But given that screaming has a limited effectiveness ratio, we've decided to try something more constructive.

In our eensy weensy capacity to create ripples, we've decided to declare this the Summer of Steve Novick!

To that end, we're having a mini fundraising drive this week for the Novick campaign. This is the last week for Steve to raise money before the end of the reporting period and we want to give him some momentum.

Keep in mind that Steve is running against a man who says he changed his mind last July after reading Fiasco. Yet Gordon Smith was still declaring his support for the President until at least October. His words of epiphany didn't emerge until the following December. In other words, Smith allowed hundreds of US soldiers to die before he made his "true feelings" on Iraq known to the public.

Ironically, this declaration happened just after the election. Convenient timing, eh?

We know that some of you haven't made up your mind to support Steve's candidacy. It's very early after all. But we hope you'll still consider dropping some cash Steve's way, if for no other reason than Gordon Smith is really pissing you off.

Rove, Smith and the Salmon--the Deeper Story

[Warning: wonky detail threat is orange for this post...]

Astute readers, or those who read most threads at Blue Oregon (and they are most often the same people) recall the new outbreak of stories about Karl Rove's potentially criminal--certainly greasy--influence on Gordon Smith's 2002 reelection. BlueO tips to the piece by Jason Leopold (a source I am not fully comfortable with) which uses the recently released deposition by Rove aide Susan Ralston {pdf} before Waxman's House Oversight Committee, to paint a larger picture of Rove repeatedly holding meetings in "target states" at federal agency offices to talk about how the political scene needed to be managed to support the President.

That's some crazy shit in it's own right; the White House is trying to weasel out by claiming no directives were given, but they were riding a razor's edge on the Hatch Act by holding partisan political policy meetings on federal property. So it's no wonder Leopold doesn't get sidetracked by the Klamath mention in Ralston's deposition. However for us there are key moments in her testimony that have direct impact on why Smith is running for reelection next fall, rather than sitting at home freezing peas. So the entire deposition is worth reading, and since we trudged over to Waxman's virtual office and rummaged through their files until we found it, you can read it too by following the link above.

It has been known for a fairly long time that Rove held a Powerpoint presentation in Klamath before the 2002 elections, and discussed the fact that Gordon Smith was running in Oregon and the farmers had always been staunch Smith voters (wink, wink). The scene as Rove set it:
On Jan. 5, Mr. Rove accompanied the president to an appearance in Portland with Mr. Smith. The president signaled his desire to accommodate agricultural interests, saying "We'll do everything we can to make sure water is available for those who farm."

The next day, Mr. Rove made sure that commitment didn't fall through the cracks. He visited the 50 Interior managers attending a department retreat at a Fish and Wildlife Service conference center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. In a PowerPoint presentation Mr. Rove also uses when soliciting Republican donors, he brought up the Klamath and made clear that the administration was siding with agricultural interests.

His remarks weren't entirely welcome -- especially by officials grappling with the competing arguments made by environmentalists, who wanted river levels high to protect endangered salmon, and Indian tribes, who depend on the salmon for their livelihoods. Neil McCaleb, then an assistant Interior secretary, recalls the "chilling effect" of Mr. Rove's remarks. Wayne Smith, then with the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, says Mr. Rove reminded the managers of the need to "support our base." Both men since have left the department.
Senator Kerry got so far as to ask the Inspector General to investigate, and as perhaps you might expect he found no undue influence by Rove--and validated the science used to make the decision to divert water to irrigation. That kind of killed the story, obviously. But how well did the IG's office do their job? Under questioning by Waxman's committee, even with her bureaucratically convenient hazy memory she recalled that Klamath and Smith were a popular topic of conversation:
In 2002, were you familiar with a dispute in Oregon over whether or not to divert water from the Klamath Rìver Basin to nearby farms?
A: I recall that.
What was Mr. Rove's involvement in that dìspute?
A: You know, I do not remember the exact details, but there were djscussions with Barry Jackson, and I guess it would have been Ken Plehlman at the time for the 0ffice of Politìcal Affairs, but as a policy matter, they did discuss it.
Barry Jackson, Ken Mehlman and Mr. Rove discussed this issue?
A: Correct.
Was anyone else involved?
A: Well, as I recall, this subject did come up frequently in our directors meetings. We had a directors' meeting every day, pretty much every day.
What is a "directors' meeting" ?
A: It would be, the participants would have been Karl, myself , Israet Hernandez, each of the directors of the four offices that he managed, and sometimes those directors would bring a deputy, and thjs meetìng was held in his office.
In Karl Rove's office?
A: Correct. And we met almost every day.
For how long was the subject of the "Klamath River Basin water diversion" issue a topìc of these directors' meetings?
A: Oh, I can't say specifically, but it was definìtely mentioned on multiple occasions.

Were you aware that the Interior Department's inspector general investigated the White House's involvement in the Interìor Department's decision about Klamath River water levels?
A: I do not remember that.
It kept coming up at Karl Rove's daily meetings of all the office heads and their deputies. Somehow, this did not raise the suspicion of the Inspector General--why it kept coming up in a political policy office what civil service agencies were doing in the Klamath Basin--for as Ralston notes, she can't even recall the investigation in the first place. How would the top aide to Karl Rove not remember whether there was an investigation? Come on, now--unless it was so feeble it could legitimately be forgotten.

Maybe it was--it's unclear whether White House emails were examined by the IG, but according to Ralston they certainly never asked to see any of the emails Rove sent via RNC servers, which now appear to be where all the skeletons were buried. Again, from the deposition:
Beyond Mr. Fitzgerald's requests, were there other requests from other investigators for Mr. Rove's e-mails?
A: There may have been, but the only other major investigation that I recall specifically was related to Enron.
Do you know when that would have been?
A: I believe that was in 2001 sometime.
And you think in 2001- that Mr. Rove searched his e-mails to respond to a request from investigators relating to Enron?
A: He or I searched.
And that search included a search of political e-mails sent over the political account?
A: Correct.
Were other White House officials aware that Mr. Rove in 2001- was providing e-mails from his political accounts to investigators who were looking at Enron?
A: I believe so, because all of the documents that we collected were then turned over to the White House Counsel's Office.
No wonder the IG didn't find anything to nail Rove with on the river diversion; either their office was ignorant of the fact that he was conducting most of his White House business over RNC email systems--or they knew and opted not to pry. And beyond the unexamined emails, there doesn't appear to have been much of any serious investigating going on, given that Ralston can't even remember there being one.

So let's be clear on what we have:
  • Karl Rove taking great interest in water policy in Oregon, coincidentally at the same time Gordon Smith was running for reelection
  • Karl Rove meeting on federal property to make clear that the administration sided with the farmers.
  • Karl Rove meeting with the farmers to make clear the administration sided with them.
  • Two federal agencies which cited their best available evidence (the appropriate standard for decisionmaking in this case) had their findings overruled on the basis of inconclusivity (which is NOT the appropriate standard), with the excuse that an important report used in the original findings was only a draft report and could not be considered definitive--even though the overruling report was itself an interim set of conclusions.
  • A federal judge rejecting the Bush administration's plan for allocating water in the basin, which favored farmers. One of the principal biologists working on the plan claims his drafted opinions were twice rejected by the Bureau of Reclamation, which created the plan, in favor of those which afforded farmers more water.
  • When Rep. Greg Walden discovered water might be restricted to farmers, his first call went to Karl Rove. The plan was dropped.
  • An investigation was done into the possible influence of the White House--but the prime target's top aide can't even remember that there was one, and no pertinent emails outside of White House channels were ever reviewed.
Something stinks, and it isn't old salmon.

[postscript--for further reading on this highly complex subject, you might try some of these sources...]

For info on the Endangered Species Act and how it applies to salmon in the Klamath Basin, this online book is rich with detailed information.

For the House Democrats' perspective on how dirty this all is, this is a good source.

For California state officials' endorsement and opinion on the "Hardy Phase II" report, which was the primary document suggested the need for higher water flows protecting the salmon, read this pdf. To see opposing views on it from the farmers, this doc is appropriate.

More documentation on the efficacy of reducing water flows is here; this report attempts to show that revenue from recreation well exceeds the potential for revenue from farming if water is diverted. Neither this report nor the Hardy study were ever allowed to go past draft form, House Democrats allege.

And for a rich trove of timelined links on both sides of the issue, here's a resource page from a UO professor on watershed science and policy.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Spanning the State--Oversight correction edition

TJ and I have jobs that we've divvied up between us for the management and operations of Loaded Orygun. One of my jobs is supposed to be to update and maintain the blogroll on the right sidebar.

Frankly--I suck at it. I don't remember to do it and I'm notorious for not adding really obvious links. This morning I've attempted to add a few things that should have been over there ages ago.

Specifically, I added a link to the Green Party, MIPRAP's blog,Our Oregon,The Portland Mercury and Blogtown PDX.

So please take a minute to review the blogroll on the right hand side. And if you have suggestions for additions, please feel free to let me know via email to loadedorygun (at) gmail (dot) com.

And now, let's Span the State!


Speaking of the Green Party, their State Convention is today in Corvallis.

The Tillamook Headlight Herald has a piece showing the growing pains in Pacific City.

OSU Beaver Baseball is on the threshold of back to back national championships. Yesterday's rout of the North Carolina Tarheels sets the stage for today's game. You can watch it this afternoon at 4PM on ESPN2 or listen to it on the radio: KBZY (1490 AM), KEJO (1240 AM), KUIK (1360 AM).

Another stupid and inane recall petition has been filed, this time in Molalla. Based on my weekly review of newspapers and mainstream media outlets in Oregon, these type of recalls are done most often in more conservative areas of our state, demonstrating an abuse of the recall system. This abuse is an extreme waste of taxpayer dollars and valuable time of government employees. Ironic, isn't it?

A contentious feud over a Measure 37 claim in Yamhill County appears to have turned violent. Yamhill County resident Michelle Michelsen has been strongly and vocally opposed to a M37 claim filed by her neighbor, John Kroo. Wednesday morning Michelsen discovered that one of their minature horses had been shot to death with a pellet gun and another had been injured. Kroo has threatened Michelsen in the past with a letter warning of "consequences" for her attempts to throw up legal roadblocks to Kroo's attempts to develop.

Senator Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting in Burns to highlight his support of county timber payments.

The Bend Bulletin's gleeful hatred of Senate Bill 30 (which bans destination resorts at the Metolius River Basin) bubbles over into their latest news coverage of the bill. Interestingly, the Bulletin also includes photos of the two lobbyists trying to kill the bill in Salem, Rick Allen and Hasina Squires, who will certainly reap a windfall if the bill is scuttled.

A 12 year old boy from Baker City scored a once in a lifetime big horned sheep tag.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Must We Say "Told You So?"

What did we say? We said if more stories on Betsy Johnson come out without any seeming reason for their appearance, start believing that it's not a coincidence of newsworthiness that's behind it. Yesterday The O (along with other outlets at least including KATU by personal observance) ran a short brief noting that Standards and Practices agreed to conduct an investigation into the filing of Johnson's required forms; we're not talking about that--there's a completely legitimate reason to run that story. The fact that this is almost literally the only thing Johnson has admitted fault for makes it a rather unexciting story overall, but it's certainly worth reporting.

The one we're talking about is a six-page (online) retrospective and review of the allegations against Johnson, also displaying further reportage on the pass-through issue and land-sale circumstances in the context of the airport's development history. They make a new allegation--that a previous developer with a similar plan as Ed Freeman's (the Johnson buyer), had his application denied because he wouldn't play ball with Johnson in opposing a gravel mine venture on the same land she would come to sell a decade later. We'll have more on this next week, but the Johnson family denies that threat was made, and contend that the applications compared were not the same either in purpose or quality. In fact they claim the denied application wasn't even clearly aviation-related, so that should give you an idea of the quality of this new charge by the paper.

But again, pull back from the nuts and bolts of the story--if only because the various charges and deals or bills under scrutiny make this such a complex case to discuss. The O's editors are not deaf and blind; they know very well what we've written and what deficiencies we've made clear in their reporting. They also have watched the WWeek's coverage--and one theory given by a longtime Oregon political reporter is that this all started with The O's panic at being scooped yet again by WWeek--and surely saw the latest attempt to push the story retracted in embarrassment. Do they really think this new allegation, or the continued strength of the existing ones, merits six more web pages? Or is someone expressing a strong desire to see this set of non-stories continue?

Ask yourself, for instance, why reporters from The O continue to refer to a "fast $119,000," noting both some element of speed and that it was at least $100,000 that Johnson made. Now we've said this many times: the costs of rezoning, replatting and resurveying the land over the years by Johnson reduced actual profit to the $45,000 range--a little less than 6% on the sale, certainly nothing outrageous even in three months. And The O knows it too; in the broad retrospective piece the reporter mentions deep in the story the $45,000 figure. But up front, above the fold as it were, he calls it a fast $119,000.

And guess what? So did the blurb announcing the investigation, the one that we linked above. But as you'll see now, the $45K figure has been inserted there. The cached version--the one we saw yesterday--doesn't have it. Curious, that they just can't seem to remember to make that qualification so as not to mislead people. (Julia Silverman of AP can, by the way--here's her piece, and she's got both figures there.)

Oh, one other thing Silverman mentions is that "she reported the sale of the April of this year," which The O doesn't seem to want to relate to people either. In the profile piece they call it "a land deal with a developer she has repeatedly aided. She then failed to disclose the deal as state law requires." Well, not quite--unless you make sure to interpret the phrase as "not disclosing it as state law requires," rather than "not disclosing it, as state law requires." Even then, the truth as we'll discuss this week is that the sale was in fact disclosed, although the holding was not at the time. And we'll also go into our discussion with state ethics employees who admit the system is extremely hard to follow properly at times.

New (and shallowly explained) allegations, rehashes of old ones, accusatory language and avoidance of exculpatory evidence--where's the line? When does it stop being simply lazy reportage, and starts becoming active attempts to fulfill and agenda?

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The O's Curious Choice of Federal Rep to Fellate on Stem Cells

Seen The O's op-ed this morning supporting stem cell research? On point, there's certainly nothing to argue with:
This week, some of those scientists in other nations may have been secretly gratified, in fact, when President Bush again vetoed an expansion of U.S. funding for such research. That reaction to the veto may sound callous, but those scientists are only human. Bush's veto all but guarantees that other nations will continue to have an edge in the global race for cures.

Bush's decision in 2001 to drastically limit federal funding for U.S. research held back our own scientists, and, in effect, handicapped the global race in favor of other nations. Private foundations, companies and states are trying to fill the gap, but if they do, it will be unprecedented. Always before, it has taken federal financing to unlock a medical breakthrough.
The O's editors deserve credit for taking the smart position on stem cell research, especially in pointing out the economic disadvantage it puts the US in to block that research. But let's be real here; this is not going out on any kind of political limb to criticize the veto. And it's curious that they made no mention of the House GOP blocking similar legislation at the state level just yesterday.

What's even more curious, however, is the way The O chose to represent the concept that Oregon and its (federal) lawmakers are more in step with the electorate on this issue than the administration. They could have picked the entire group of our Representatives and Senators, because for the first time in recent memory that I can recall, ALL SEVEN of them voted against the President's wishes, Democrats and Republicans alike.

So who did they pick to celebrate as Oregon's champion of stem cells? One guess:
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., agrees that this is the best use for them. He differentiates such cells from a human life, which he believes begins with "Mom."

As Smith sees it, "If those embryos remain in a petri dish for a thousand years, they will remain cells only, the dust of the Earth. No mother is present, no life has been created."

As Sen. Smith said recently, "We cannot have tomorrow's miracles if we tie scientists' hands with yesterday's rules."
Un-fucking-believable. Not one mention of ANY of the other six legislators who back the research. No, they just happened to select the one guy who desperately needs to appear in step with his constituency, and out of step with Bush's. Hey there Stickel and Co.--I think there's a dab of semen still clinging to your collective chins. Was it good for you?

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Dennis Richardson Swings and Misses on Health Care

As we've noted a couple of times, GOP House member Dennis Richardson likes to pontificate almost blog-style in his weekly newsletters. In the June 15th missive Richardson concerned himself with HJR 19, which seeks to enshrine the right to health care into Oregon's Constitution. Here's a snippet:
[I]n my opinion, although Oregon has already traded the "limited government" enjoyed by our forefathers, for the post New Deal era of social-welfare programs passed by Congress and State Legislatures, HJR 18 will result in a new and historic, Constitutionally-mandated "fundamental" right to State-funded health care…in other words, Constitutional Socialism..

HJR 18 is new ground. If Oregon is going to blaze the trail to Constitutional Socialism by providing government guaranteed solutions and "essential safeguards to human life" for health care, what about other and even more fundamental human needs? IF the people are going to be asked to mandate the State to provide health care, should the people also be asked to mandate other "fundamental rights," such as for food and clothing and shelter?

Consider the logic. What benefit is health care if a person is malnourished, inadequately clothed or homeless? Should not a caring society that requires government mandated universal health care also address other, more basic needs for human survival?
Funny you should mention that, Dennis. Your implication appears to be that nobody would suggest with a straight face that Oregonians might approve of guaranteed health care, shelter and food. (Clothing? WTF?) However, just today Steve Novick's campaign has forwarded a tremendously insightful piece from Rick Perlstein of the Nation, suggesting that the electorate is far more progressively tuned than either the media or the GOP would have you believe:
Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007, a massive twenty-year roundup of public opinion from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, tells the story. Is it the responsibility of government to care for those who can't take care of themselves? In 1994, the year conservative Republicans captured Congress, 57 percent of those polled thought so. Now, says Pew, it's 69 percent. (Even 58 percent of Republicans agree. Would that some of them were in Congress.) The proportion of Americans who believe government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep is 69 percent, too--the highest since 1991. Even 69 percent of self-identified Republicans--and 75 percent of small-business owners!--favor raising the minimum wage by more than $2.

The Pew study was not just asking about do-good, something-for-nothing abstractions. It asked about trade-offs. A majority, 54 percent, think "government should help the needy even if it means greater debt" (it was only 41 percent in 1994). Two-thirds want the government to guarantee health insurance for all citizens. Even among those who otherwise say they would prefer a smaller government, it's 57 percent--the same as the percentage of Americans making more than $75,000 a year who believe "labor unions are necessary to protect the working person." [emphs me]
Let's repeat so it sinks in: at least 2/3 of Americans believe that the government should guarantee health care, food and shelter for all citizens. And a majority are willing to go into debt to accomplish those things.

I urge you to read the whole article; it goes into much greater detail about the conflict between American values and the Democratic Party's inability to champion those values, despite their obvious popularity. And I believe Steve's point in sending folks the link is to suggest that he not only recognizes those values, but believes in them and will stand up for them regardless of what the consultariat tells him. And that's why we endorse him for Senate.

And maybe, just maybe, instead of asking Dennis Richardson why he thinks this is a bad bill for Oregon, we should be asking why the Democratic majority is afraid to take it a step further and enshrine food and shelter as guaranteed commodities for all Oregonians as well. But considering he and 26 of his party colleagues wouldn't even vote for the chance to see what Oregonians think about the idea, this week's Tone Deaf Award goes to Richardson and the state GOP. Wake up and smell the progressivism!

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She writes letters (or in this case emails)

Yesterday TJ inspired us all to write letters to our GOP Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli to tell him what we think is the worst bill of this legislative session. TJ's call to action was in response to Ferrioli and the Senate GOP's request to hear from Oregonians about this topic. Specifically, they asked for the bills that made our "eyes roll".

Thus with pixels in hand, I sent to Ferrioli an email detailing my thoughts on the matter:

Dear Senator Ferrioli and Senate Republicans:

My nominee for the "worst bill of session" is HB3415. For your reference it can be found here:

I don't see how its possible for Republicans in the legislature to be any more out of step with Oregonians on the matters of abortion and choice. Not to mention "fetal death"...that is an "eye-roller" if I ever saw one.


You can send your own thoughts on these matters to Senator Ferrioli. Despite all instincts to the contrary, please be polite in your correspondence.

TJ offered up some good ideas to get you started, but maybe you've already got your own. Send them via email to

Have fun!

Your AM "Carrie" Flashback

Stephen King-esque:

A valve on a truck hauling animal waste from a Klamath Falls processing plant broke, spilling 4,000 pounds of pig blood.

For those who don't get the Carrie reference, click here. (And if you haven't seen this movie, run..don't your local video store and rent it).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will The O and WWeek Quit While They're Behind on Johnson?

I won't bore you with a long rehash of all the stories we've done the past three weeks on L'affair du Betsy Johnson*, but if you're totally out of the loop you may want to peruse Carla's primer on our coverage before coming back here.

Since the stories first began to appear May 30 in Willamette Week and then The Oregonian, each has done several updates and further references to the controversy, generally expanding the story rather than retrenching on it. WW's Nigel Jaquiss in particular has continued to pump out stories--at least five that we count--that allege conflict of interest and influence peddling for her aviation friends. The O has been slightly less prolific, with what appears to be three more stories since the original one that deal specifically with her, and then another one Sunday discussing the broader question of conflict in the Leg, using Johnson as one example and focusing on her involvement in SB807. (Interestingly, an op-ed on June 10th called attempts to pin SB30 on Johnson's personal interests "cynical"; Jaquiss has been more of the reverse, exploring the SB30 angle in more depth but not burrowing as much into the SB807 part.)

While both outfits have staunchly stood by their stories in our conversations with them, it seems to us that they are no longer as aggressively investigating and reporting on the issue. Neither outlet has either publicly acknowledged LO's findings or criticisms, but after the initial flurry of stories nothing new has emerged in their pages to further support their positions, despite the obvious previous attempts to do so--such as The O's unearthing of a video where Johnson berates Port of St. Helens commissioners on behalf of developer and land-sale partner Ed Freeman, or the "disclosure" that they'd had dealings before, or the news that Johnson had written a letter on behalf of a failed candidate for the Oregon Board of Aviation.

The final straw of embarrassment may have occurred late last week, when Jaquiss attempted to extend the story to Johnson's influence over the Brookings Airport and its potential impact on Bandon Dunes Resort. Adept readers immediately commented that Jaquiss needed a new map of Oregon if he thought the airport was anywhere near Bandon (it's not), and WWeek was forced to pull the piece entirely. It's certainly not often you get to call out a Pulitzer winner for failing to do his homework, and while they did the right thing in yanking the piece (but leaving the comments up) , you know taking that step had to be extremely painful. If I'm Jaquiss' editor, I might say to him privately, "ENOUGH please on Johnson, OK? This shit we clearly do not need."

In fact, although I'm not anyone's editor, I'm willing to wager that among actual, sensible editors this would be the likely response. After all, while they've defended their work in public, they have each tacitly admitted making errors by dint of removing reference to those errors in future copy. As the famous saying goes, "if your mother says she loves you, get a confirmation before you print it"--in other words, nothing's worse than fucking up the facts. And after all the work we've done on this story, there's just no way to phrase it much more delicately without euphemizing...they fucked up the facts.

So, given that context do I think the stories are really over? Well, yes and no. If the genesis of the story was relatively normal, I'd say they are probably finished trying to run the Johnson corruption scandal up their respective flagpoles. They got a tip, they ran it, they got pushback, they defended themselves but subtly started changing their subsequent stories--done.

But what if this isn't any ordinary story tip? What if, as we are coming to believe, this was an orchestrated attempt to bring trouble to Betsy Johnson's doorstep? What if there are those who would either like to a) develop on the Metolius, b) kill Johnson's gubernatorial aspirations before they gestate, or c) both--and they are continuing to push more allegations on the media? In other words, what if their sources aren't taking no for an answer, and WW or the O aren't necessarily predisposed to tell them no?

So watch the papers over the next week or two. If nothing more comes out on this story, The O and WW will have licked their wounds in private and moved on, hoping by their non-acknowledgment of error they can escape with reputations mostly intact. But if they keep bringing her up one way or another like The O did in Sunday's piece on legislative conflict in general, we think there's gotta be some other reason behind it--some other reason being pushed by some other entity. Papers don't print stories they know may get them into trouble unless they have other reasons for doing so. While we can't show them to you because they're behind a firewall, The Bend Bulletin has also gone nearly apoplectic in their editorials about Johnson and SB30; they're wingnutty at the Bulletin but I'm not convinced they got that way on their own.

Will they quit while they're behind? We'll see. And if they don't, ask yourself--"why are they still running these stories? Shouldn't they at least try to close up the holes in the ones they've already run, before they ask us to swallow more?"

Better yet, ask them.

*don't bother correcting my French; I already confess ignorance

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Freep the Senate GOP's "Worst Bill of Session" Poll!

Wanna have some fun?
As the final hours of session tick off the clock, the Senate Republican Office wants your thoughts:

What is your vote for the worst bill of the session? There are plenty to choose from whether your pet peeve is increased taxes, more of big brother, or just really stupid ideas.

Please let us know what bill made you roll your eyes and throw something across the room, and we will tally the results for a future Capitol Update. You can contact us either by replying to this e-mail or sending a new one to
I guess asking Republicans about really stupid ideas makes sense, since they're the ones pushing most of them this session. Here are some choices, or suggest your own!
  • HB 2680, to turn the DMV into the Homeland Security Department in order to check driver's citizenship papers.
  • HB 2682, which does the same thing to local cops, allowing them to arrest those with "probable cause" of being here illegally. What would the standard of cause be exactly--hanging around a tapas bar?
  • HB 2684, making English the "official language of Oregon."
  • HB 3415, requiring a 24-hour waiting period to get an abortion, and changes the record of an abortion from termination to "fetal death."
  • SB 698, "to repair stairwells in old part of State Capitol."
  • SB 585, eliminating taxes on capital gains entirely.
  • HJM 16, asking the federal government to cease "over-regulating
    Oregon's public lands and water."
You get the idea. If you want to look through the bills yourself to find some gems, here's a good start page. And here's a hint--if you use the House and Senate tables (both pdf) to see which ones were sponsored by which lawmaker, you can zero in on people like Kim Thatcher, Dennis Richardson and Gene Whisnant and find some doozies. I've barely scratched the surface here...

Get to it! And if you have room in your email, ask them: "Is this REALLY what the Senate Minority Office thinks is important with a week left to go in session? Is this actually how they're spending their time supposedly doing our work?"

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CQ: Smith's Senate Seat is "Republican Favored"

Congressional Quarterly has come out with its latest ratings for the thirty-three 2008 Senate races. Here's their take on Oregon and Gordon Smith:

Incumbent: Gordon Smith (first elected in 1996) Rating: Republican Favored

The 2008 Oregon Senate contest, in which Smith will try for a third term, began the election cycle with a more competitive “Leans Republican” rating from, and could eventually move back in that direction. Oregon, though not quite a Democratic stronghold, has been trending in the direction of that party, which has carried the state in the past five presidential elections.

Yet Smith’s odds for winning re-election have improved in recent months. Part of this is because of some very public breaks with President Bush — particularly over his handling of the war in Iraq — that reflect public opinion in Oregon and also burnish Smith’s reputation as a Republican centrist.

But perhaps the bigger reason for his improved outlook is that no state has produced more frustration for Democratic recruiters so far in the 2008 cycle. Their early efforts focused on the state’s U.S House delegation, in which Democrats hold four of the five seats. But one by one, Reps. Peter A. DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and David Wu took themselves out of the running, joined by the fourth House Democrat, Darlene Hooley, who never was seen as seriously considering a Senate bid.

Currently, the only Democratic candidate is lawyer and activist Steve Novick, best known for leading the successful fight against a state anti-tax ballot initiative last November. Novick has considerable credibility in the Portland political community, but is virtually unknown outside of it. Other possible candidates could include Republican-turned-Democrat state Sen. Ben Westlund and Senate Majority Whip Alan Bates.

There also is the possibility of an independent candidacy that could require the recalculation of the political odds in Oregon: John Frohnmayer, who headed the National Endowment for the Arts under President George H.W. Bush, has hinted at such a bid next year.

Regardless of who runs against him, Smith will not lack for resources. He reported $2.8 million on hand and has said he could raise as much as $10 million for the race.

This seems to be a fairly reasonable assessment of what we're up against.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What all the fuss is about

I didn't manage to get the summary of the legislation bridging the M37 fix into a JPEG.

But no matter.

The entire bill is now up on the legislature's website.

Roar your terrible roars and gnash your terrible teeth at your own risk.


When policy disagreements attack....!

The LO email box was the recipient today of a link to Oregon Aviation Revealed, sponsored (and presumably written) by Miki Barnes and her husband David--although their names don't appear anywhere on the site. Miki sent the email to us, and when we inquired about the owner/propietor of the site Miki told us that it was herself and her husband.

If you click the link, you can see that Mrs. Barnes claims that Senate Bill 807 is an inconsiderate piece of legislation which allows public funds to be used to "subsidize" private aviation:

Oregon Senate Bill (SB) 807, sponsored by Senator Betsy Johnson, makes provisions by which surrounding communities may be taxed on behalf of rural airport owners and operators eager to line their pockets at public expense by engaging in flight training, aircraft sales and maintenance, helicopter and fixed wing scenic tours, and various other for-profit aviation activities. This legislation gives no consideration to residents in both urban and rural communities who are opposed to loud, intrusive, polluting aviation activity as well as the safety and security risks that are direct result of aviation growth and expansion.

That the legislature would even seriously consider taxing surrounding communities for airports many residents don't even want and that serve the private owners and operators rather than the public good is galling beyond belief.

Among the provisions in Senate Bill 807 is a section that allows for the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department to "enter into agreements providing for a partial rebate of new property tax revenues to the airport sponsor that operates and maintains the airport within the airport tax increment financing district."

Barnes also takes a swipe at Betsy Johnson:

Senator Betsy Johnson was highly instrumental in establishing the Oregon State Department of Aviation (ODA) as separate from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Since its inception in 2000, the (ODA) has funneled more than $66 million into the aviation industry - a substantial portion of which came from federal tax dollars. ODA also receives money from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

According to its website, the purpose of the ODA is to advocate for the growth of airports in Oregon and to provide "assistance to aviation constituents, airport owners/sponsors and aviation system users throughout Oregon."

In other words, Oregon has an entire government department designed to channel public funds into private aviation business interests.

What will the Oregon Legislature come up with next --a department to fund golf courses, country clubs, and yachting events?

And then this gem:

Transwestern Aviation, a business founded by Johnson and now run by her husband John Helm, sells fuel, offers sightseeing tours, and provides aircraft maintenance. It is located at Scappoose Airport, a facility that has positioned itself on the receiving end of more than a half million dollars of ODA funds over the past 5 years - $144,000 in 2006, $72,000 in 2005, $10,000 in 2004, $59,041 in 2003, $110,000 in 2002, $150,000 in 2001. Clearly Johnson and Helm have benefited greatly from creating a department of government that uses taxpayer dollars to underwrite the private aviation interests of themselves and their cohorts. But they are not alone - other GA airports throughout the area that have also profited from this arrangement include Aurora - over $3 million, Mulino - $823,000, Hillsboro - over $15 million, Troutdale - $695,000, and McMinnville - $1,419,000.

No word from Barnes as to exactly how the measly $100+k per year that Scappoose Airport got from the ODA was used. Perhaps to fill potholes in the runway? Perhaps to repair or replace damaged equipment? These are PUBLIC airports, after all.

I'm not in a position to necessarily defend or negate the points of SB807. But I tire of these lame attempts to link Johnson to some sort of nefarious activity that benefits her and this laundry list of cronies--when its clear that this is not the case.

Especially when Barnes' issue isn't about the money. Its about noise.

Barnes apparently doesn't like airports very much. In fact, she's gone out of her way to make herself heard on the issue repeatedly.

Barnes doesn't want airports expanded and economically stable because they're NOISY.

So this is a policy disagreement having nothing to do with unethical or corrupt behavior by Betsy Johnson.

Interestingly, Willamette Week's error-problemed yanked piece, built part of the piece's premise on the question of whether or not public money should be used to promote rural aviation-related businesses.


M37 fix attempts to create "bridge to Election Day"

One of the best parts of political theatre for me is watching right wingers run around screaming like their hair is on fire!:


Wow! Caps and exclamation points GALORE!!!!!! Now if only they had bolded the text we'd get to see such a trifecta of pants wetting that at least one bowl of microwave popcorn would be in order. But alas, the author failed us. Oh well.

I'm still playing catch up on Berger and Clem's bill--and frankly so is the author of this blog post. The text of the bill was only placed on the desks of legislators just this morning, so this blog author has no fucking idea what the bill does. But righties are nothing if not alarmists and scare these tactics are not surprising.

I managed to acquire a summary of HB3569 this morning. According to the summary, the bill is sponsored by Brian Clem (D-Salem) and Vicki Berger (R-Salem) at the request of former Guvs Vic Atiyeh and Barbara Roberts and a guy named John D. Gray (Who apparently I should know--but I don't. Enlighten me in comments, please).

Here are the "key components" listed on the summary:
• Rights to develop 1- 3 lots in an approved waiver located outside urban growth boundaries are transferable. Section 2(1), 2(2).

• No matter what happens to HB 3540 on the November ballot, transferability approved for 1 - 3 lot waivers under HB 3569 remains valid.

• 3-lot cap on claims on high-value farm or forest land, or in groundwater restricted areas.

• 4-10 lot claims not on high-value farm or forest land or in groundwater restricted areas are streamlined by HB 3569.

• Claims greater than 10 lots are limited to 10 lots until 12/06/07; limit continues if voters approve HB 3540.

• Requires that permits to implement any waiver must conform to HB 3569 until 12/06/07. Section 2(4).

• Allows existing claims may be “amended down” to seek 1-3 lots on high-value land, or 4-10 lots on non-high value land. Section 2(5)(b).

• The bill “sunsets” December 6, 2007. Section 3.

• Goes into effect immediately on passage. Section 4.

This looks to me like an effort to keep big money developers from pushing forward with their claims using their hefty resources before the Measure 37 "fix" is decided. So the author at NW Republican is takes away "an option" for big developers to shove through their developments before the public has a chance to weigh in on the fix.

So once again, the right goes to bat for big monied interests and the left crafts a bipartisan bill in an effort to work with the people.

If I can get this summary converted to a JPEG file, I'll post it on the blog later.