Sunday, July 15, 2007

We've moved!

Goodbye Blogger..hello community blog!

Loaded Orygun is no longer a blogspot blog. Starting today, we've moved to

See you there.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Showing Portland the Love--Times Four

It's summer, which means it's time for tourism articles about what a great place Portland is. I dedicate these links to Jack Bogdanski:

Suck it, haters!

Shafting in Progress on M37 Claim

More bad news from our friends Brian and Laurel Hines, who are helping lead their neighbors against a well-sucking development that the Marion County commissioners seem hell-bent to approve:
[H]ere's the worst part, the most outrageous outrage. Commissioner Janet Carlson pointed it out at the Board meeting:

This issue is complicated by the Measure 37 referendum [Measure 49]. If this wasn't the case, different decisions might be made.

Thanks for telling it like it is, Commissioner Carlson.

But you're being generous toward your colleagues when you said "maybe." It's obvious that "almost certainly" would be more accurate. Obvious, because this was the big concern of Brentano and Milne at the meeting where the Laack subdivision was approved.

They were deeply concerned about whether the Measure 37 applicant would be able to move ahead with the subdivision if a Hydro Study of the water situation was required, as the county ordinance demands.

They were told that a Study would extend well past the effective date of the Measure 37 fix (Measure 49), which would mean that only three homes could be built on this groundwater limited farmland.

So Brentano and Milne voted to allow 42 more wells in our neighborhood, even though independent water experts hired by the county said this would put surrounding wells and springs at high risk. They cared a lot about the Measure 37 applicant. They didn't care at all about the rights of hundreds of people already living here.

That's an outrage.
Politics over science--hmmm...where have I heard THAT before? I just can't recall. We agree with Brian that the Laack claim is a prime example for the M49 fix supporters to highlight.

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OSC to LDS: How Rich ARE You, Anyway?

This may be one of the more ingenious ways to induce a settlement in recent memory:
The Oregon Supreme Court rejected an effort by the LDS Church to withhold financial information from the lawyers for a man who claims a home teacher frequently molested him about 20 years ago.

Despite the legal defeat, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not immediately release the detailed financial information about its net worth, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

Kelly Clark, an attorney for the Oregon man suing the church, said it would be good for a jury to have the information before considering his request for $45 million in punitive damages. A trial is scheduled for Aug. 6.

"A jury needs to know the entire financial context to know whether a punitive award is too much or sufficient or not enough," Clark said.

The LDS church sought emergency relief from a trial court order to turn over the financial information, but the Oregon Supreme Court late Monday rejected the appeal. The pretrial decision was reached on narrow pretrial grounds and doesn't mean the court would not ultimately side with the church's position that the Constitution protects its right to keep financial information private.
That last part's important; it may never come to the point where the church is forced to open their books.

But what it does is put enormous pressure on them to settle, as they did in 2001 for another Oregon man who claimed he was abused by an LDS Sunday school teacher--an eerily similar case as the current one being handled for the plaintiff by attorney Kelly Clark. Not only is Clark now holding the cards on whether the church caves in on another sex abuse case, he has already named his price to call: $45 million. Church officials may not believe avoiding a trial and negative publicity in this case is by itself worth that kind of jing, but the ramifications of revealing global asset holdings may well be worth the retreat:
Mormonism is unique in the way it collects tithes and offerings from local church units into a common pool at its Salt Lake City headquarters, then disperses the money to areas as needed. An all-volunteer clergy governs the church, but chapels and temples, missionary allowances and educator salaries are paid out of general church funds.
Because LDS assets are listed together, rather than by region, financial disclosure of any part of the assets would reveal all the church's holdings. To Mormon leaders, that's an unfair expectation.
"I'm not aware of any group or denomination that would funnel all money into the central repository. That would be totally unheard of in Protestantism," Busby said. "Most denominations require that local churches pay a percentage or per capita amount to headquarters, but usually only 10 or 15 percent used to fund headquarters operations."
Even the Catholic Church, which has a centralized leadership at the Vatican, is financed at the diocesan level. That's why several U.S. dioceses have filed for bankruptcy after being hit with millions of dollars in abuse awards, but no one asked to see all the Vatican's records.
The rest of that article also has a good treatment on why the Church stopped revealing their finances in the mid 20th Century. So, it's not just what the Mormons in Oregon have that would necessarily be revealed, it would be their holdings worldwide. As I said, I think Clark has really done a smooth job of putting the LDS behind the 8-ball on this one.

And is that a surprise, really? If you don't recognize the name, he's most recently famous for helping orchestrate the enshrinement of discrimination into the Oregon Constitution regarding same-sex marriage--but he's about as hard to pigeonhole as they come. A sex offending former alcoholic who ruined a promising career in Salem as the rep from my District 38, (having originally ousted current Lake Oswego mayor Judie Hammerstad) he's certainly bounced back and enjoys taking on big interests like governments and churches. He's handed it to the Catholics a number of times, so he doesn't play favorites when it comes to denomination. Whatever else he is he's canny, and whether or not the LDS has to show what they know, Clark is likely to see a tasty payday--and a win for his client. And if the allegations are true, $45 million is easy apology money for the LDS, so they get no sympathy.

By the way, this isn't the first time the OSC has pissed off the Mormons. Two years ago they ruled that the City of West Linn had the right to prevent them from building a church in a residential area. No Christmas cards for the Justices this year, either!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Michele Malkin and Lars Larson get their panties in a twist over PDX airport art

It's been awhile since I've flown out of PDX airport, but it appears at least one piece of art out there has Michelle Malkin and Lars Larson all bunched up.

Malkin trots out her usual bloviating bitchiness about how public art shouldn't be offensive to anyone:

Christian-bashing? Check.

Anti-gun message? Check.

Anti-war zealotry? Check.

Anti-capitalism symbolism? Check.

American flag mockery? Check.

You'll understand if I have little sympathy for Ms. Malkin's goofball opinion, as entitled to it as she is.

We've spent the last seven years with an administration that has made a mockery of Christianity while shooting thousands of innocent civilians overseas in their ridiculous, trumped-up war while wrapping themselves in the flag. And Malkin scratches her brain cells wondering why public art is reflecting this?

Malkin's attention was brought to the matter by former Oregonian and winger gadfly Lars Larson, whose issues of compensation are only eclipsed by the mouth he puts that cigar in.

It fascinates me how the murder of innocent civilians doesn't cause these people to bat an eyelash. But art that reflects a large swath of the public consciousness is fodder for outrage.


TJ's update, 7/14 12:30pm--
Malkin has updated her blog with the bad (good) news: Port of Portland officials aren't taking it down. So sad, too bad. The Taliban doesn't live here, honey.

Novick Makes the Rounds

For those of you who like tracking Camp Novick as they traipse about Oregon, here's tonight's agenda courtesy of the campaign:

I'll be in Corvallis this eve for a house party hosted by former State Senator and Democratic Leader Cliff Trow, then in Astoria Sunday for a Democratic ice cream social. cream....

Steve also clued us in on some upcoming media:

Listen closely to NPR next week - they're doing a profile of Gordon Smith, and Colin Fogarty interviewed me yesterday; hopefully they'll use some of it, and we'll get some national exposure.

NPR is doing a profile of Gordon Smith? Will they be the first mainstream media outlet to do the reporting of Smith incahoots with the White House in circumventing the law in the Klamath Basin? Will we get actual--REAL--news and not just some fluff piece about frozen fries and Prell hair?

(fingers crossed)

TJ's Update, 11pm--
Thought it might be useful to include this Reg-Guard profile of Novick out on the hustings in his hometown of Cottage Grove.
"It really is a grassroots, populous campaign at this point," said Jake Weigler, Novick's campaign manager. "At this point it's really about connecting with voters - not only getting to know them, but allowing them to actually engage him."

Novick said he's been encouraged by the response he's received so far, both from media coverage and Oregon voters. The Portland resident plans to continue traveling across the state in the coming months, speaking at intimate gatherings and events as he did Thursday, when about 20 people turned out.

While he's started small in the early stages of his campaign, he said his basic strategy of "just telling the truth" and connecting with voters will continue through the primary in May 2008.

Hunt retains Dem House Leader job

Word came in late last night that House Majority Leader Dave Hunt ran an uncontested election to keep his job.

Hunt helped lead what is considered by many to be one of the most productive state legislative sessions in years.

TJ and I have been planning to do a write-up about the session but have been bogged down in other things. Hopefully we'll get to it next week.

In the meantime, congrats Rep. Hunt.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coming Sunday: LoadedOrygun.Net

It's been months of teasing. Before the elections we said "after the elections." After the elections we said "after the holidays." After the holidays we actually tried a switch to a new platform, but ultimately failed to achieve anything but shutting down a couple of host servers. And then we waited, mostly to see if we'd come up lucky on another round of BlogPac grant funding for state-based community blogs. And sure enough, we have. And so starting with Sunday's Spanning the State, we will have a new home, a new design, and a new format. Where do you go now?

And what is a community blog, anyway? The best two examples are probably DailyKos and MyDD, two of the largest political blogs in the world. The idea is that users can create their own account and very nearly become just as much a part of the site as the owner-authors. Sure, the drivel on the main column will continue for us, but down the sidebar other regular Oregonians and interested parties will (we hope) start their own blog posts, known as diaries, with topic and content of their choosing.

BlogPac is funding people like us in different states with a specific eye towards fostering these kinds of sites, which become hubs for activism and a place to check in and exchange with other like-minded folk. It's also--when it is well populated and active--a pretty major change in role for the owners. Not only does it create a built-in group of sycophants and detractors to hash over every one of your posts, but should whatever they say in their diaries make the news for its offensiveness or controversy, the world will look to YOU to explain what's happening on YOUR blog. Never mind that you were asleep at the time, watching Keith Olbermann, or perhaps refreshing the Mrs. It's your site, what are you going to do about it?

Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It's been fun, Blogger--but it hasn't been real fun. So far, the new Soapblox interface seems much easier to work with; we'll be counting on you to tell us what does or doesn't work as we move forward. But we're warning you right now, we dig the new logo and banner, so if you hate it you may just have to lump it.

We hope you'll come join us starting Sunday at We'll be leaving this site up for reference purposes, and holding onto a backup of the archives. But come Sunday, the lights will go dim at sure to put a gleam in the eye of the radio hosts who had to trip over that name. easier. ( would be easier still, but someone is currently squatting on that address. We're on it.)

We'll see you there!


This is what I get for relying on the O. Dammit.

Yesterday's musings about the upcoming candidate list for the Secretary of State race may have been flawed. My babble was based on Oregonian prognostications.

(I know. I should know better.)

Word from our tip email box (loadedorygun at gmail dot com) brings news that Jason Atkinson may in fact not be the SOS candidate for the GOP after all.

According to sources, Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) is in the Republican on-deck circle--preparing to announce a run for Secretary of State.

Starr's district continues to trend blue--so I'm wondering if he's giving up the seat before the constituency sends him packing.

The scuttle on Atkinson is pretty rumor-ish. Word is that he has a young family to support and isn't exactly rolling in cash. Atkinson will run for reelection to the legislature and bide his time until 2010. At that point he'll decide whether to run for Governor or Congress. The rumor is that Atkinson will run for whichever office Greg Walden decides not to go for.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ducks Un-Lose 2005 Holiday Bowl!

They don't technically get a win, but the team the Oregon Ducks lost to at the 2005 Holiday Bowl can no longer claim they got a win, either:
The penalties, announced today by the NCAA, stem from a case involving two players, including the Sooners' starting quarterback, who were kicked off the team for being paid for work they had not performed at a Norman car dealership.

The Sooners went 8-4 and beat Oregon in the Holiday Bowl to end the 2005 season. Records from that season involving quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn must be vacated, the NCAA said, and coach Bob Stoops' career record will be amended to reflect the penalties, dropping it from 86-19 in eight seasons to 78-19.
Hmmm...maybe that crazy loss to the Ducks last season, likely costing the Sooners a BCS Bowl berth, was a little bit of pre-karma before the NCAA got involved.

Oklahoma vs Oregon--gotta cheat to win!

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Oregonians for Relationship Equality, Straight Up

If promoting civil equality for gay couples is simply part of a (hidden?) "gay agenda," it would stand to reason that since heterosexuals have nothing to gain from the agenda, few of them would bother to rally for a cause that doesn't affect them, right?

Of course, that's not the case--lots of people who are straight nonetheless take up the banner for full relational equality, both in this country and specifically in Oregon. Carla and I are both "breeders," but we've always supported same-sex marriage, and at a bare minimum equal partnership rights. There are a lot of us, more than you may think--all believing that if some of us are still held back, then the fight for liberty is not over. Fifty Oregonians, from all parts of the state, have joined to help Basic Rights Oregon educate folks on why relational equality matters to all of us, and to form a bulwark against any referendum repeal of civil unions:
We know that families come in all varieties and it is our strong belief that ALL Oregon families deserve to have the rights, responsibilities and protections necessary to keep each other safe in times of crisis.

The 50 Voices For Equality campaign is meant to demonstrate the broad cross-section of straight Oregonians who support relationship equality for Oregon's committed same-sex couples and their families. These 50 Oregonians also believe that discrimination of any kind is wrong and ought to be against the law.

From the faith and business communities, to farmers and grandparents--freedom from discrimination for gay and lesbian Oregonians is a belief shared by a large majority of Oregonians.
They've also put together a pretty cool video you can watch here, to get you to meet some of those 50 voices and hear their stories.

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Walker and Brown announce for SOS. Is Atkinson next?

The June 29th announcement of Vicki Walker's foray into the Secretary of State's race as reported by Harry Esteve of the O prophetically batted Kate Brown's name around as a possible candidate for the job:

Others rumored to be considering a bid for secretary of state include Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, and Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point.

Just over a week later, Brown made her announcement that she was getting in.

To complete the trifecta, the aforementioned Jason Atkinson will need to wade in as well.

Hmmm...Vicki Walker, Kate Brown and Jason Atkinson.

" of these things is not like the other..."

Can you guess which? And can you also guess which part of this has the greatest potential for serious political entertainment value?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gordo's Fish-Fucking Ways, In Legislative Detail

Yesterday, we disinterred a TV ad Gordon Smith would probably prefer you'd forgotten about, featuring Klamath Basin farmers praising Smith for dealing with the bureaucrats and getting their water turned back on. Given the stink that's settling over the decision process to overrule the Endangered Species Act, Smith should want no part of a record where he eagerly took credit for getting the water going again, after having appealed directly to President Bush and Karl Rove for help. Alas, he hasn't had to answer many questions about that record...yet.

The supporters in the Smith ad praise him for not taking No for an answer, and certainly when not practicing his apparent evening job as a species hydrologist, Smith spent many days in Congress during the 107 Congress coming up with any number of ways to denude or subvert the intention of the Endangered Species Act, the mission of which is simply to prevent species from becoming extinct. We have not given this compendium of Smith bill activity during 2001 and 2002 the absolute fine-toothed comb treatment, but then again we haven't had to, in order to find any number of ham-handed ways he tried to lean the process in favor of the farmers and not existing law or the latest science.

For instance--remember I told you about the codicile Smith had placed in a bill in 2001, attempting to automatically elevate peer-reviewed data over that which was not? It sounds innocuous, but that was precisely the premise used by the National Academy of Sciences panel to refuse consideration of the "Hardy Phase II" flow study the original water decisions were based on. Because the study was considered a "draft," the NAS panel ruled in January 2002 that they could not accept it as the best available science. And on February 5, Smith tried to codify that very premise into not just a clause on another bill, but into its own law. (And before I leave the subject of that prior codicile, the rest of the bill also sought to bypass a mandatory Secretary of Interior review when planned actions potentially threatened critical habitat. Nice.)

Smith led the charge in compensating farmers and water distributors who lost money during the shortage, and most of the state delegation surely felt obligated to join him. Colleague Ron Wyden cosigned onto a bill to reimburse the water assessment fees and lost revenue to water providers who'd experienced shutoffs in the spring of 2001. However, even though the water was soon turned back on, everybody was also credited back for the whole year, to the tune of $5 million.

My favorite manipulation of the US Code to get money to Klamath farmers was in August 2001. Smith proposed to include under natural disaster relief status "any application of the Endangered Species Act that, in the determination of the President, causes economic hardship of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under this Act.'" As in, say, giving water to fish under ESA instead of farmers. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and failed potato crops from rerouting the water--you know, natural disasters.

Just in general, Smith seemed to have it in for the fish. Apparently he didn't want Indian tribes messing things up for the farmers either; he proposed that if the Secretary of Interior designated a migrating fishway that utilities then had to account for, he or she then had to listen to proposed alternatives to the fishway, despite having already reached the conclusion to have the fishway in order to protect the habitat. He doesn't even want them spawning, dammit!

Heck, even as far back as 1998, Smith (and his House counterpart at the time Bob Smith) were threatening the government that they couldn't accept the idea that fish might get water when farmers don't:
"The Interior Department's latest water use plan is not the answer. We should keep working with the federal government to find a balance that recognizes the economic needs of southern Oregonians. This plan just doesn't get us there. It threatens our collaborative efforts and the Klamath Basin's agricultural community," Chairman Smith said.

"The Klamath Basin community has made significant inroads toward resolving difficult water rights problems in the region. A heavy hand from the federal government will only frustrate this progress. Water use in southern Oregon is too important to settle for what is at best a divisive issue," Senator Smith said.
But the king-daddy of them all, his 9th Symphony of legislative effort, was Amendment 899 to the House Interior appropriations bill of 2001. His speech on the floor dramatizes just where he's coming from when the contest is fish vs farmers, science vs emotion. His proposal? Ignore the decision and court rulings; go back to the way it was 10 years ago, when the fish didn't get first crack at the water, the farmers did. That's it--just turn back the clock and pretend no rulings or evaluative science had ever occurred. The amendment failed, but just barely, 52-48. Ballsy as it is, it may have been the most legislatively rational thing he tried. He recognized the ESA rulings as anathema to his goals, so he proposed simply repealing it. Honest, maybe, but we can still hold him accountable.

Some extended snippets from the Congressional Record as Smith introduced his amendment to turn back time to a simpler era, when we didn't give a shit if the fish lived or died, as long as people could grow potatoes (bless you
I am the first Senator to be elected from Oregon who comes from its rural parts--eastern Oregon--in 70 years. I represent all of my State, but I have a special passion to represent those rural parts that I have watched be devastated for too long by Federal action. I believe the Endangered Species Act is a noble act with noble purposes, but I believe it is being used by some to very ignoble ends.

My actions today are not to subvert the Endangered Species Act. This is not reform. This is an act asking that its terms be implemented in a way that will relieve genuine human suffering in a way that may prevent the violence that has already been visited upon Federal property in a contest between farmers and the Bureau of Reclamation for the essential ingredient to life in the West, and that is water.

What has happened to the community of Klamath Falls, by conservative estimates, will cost that county $200 million. I thank the Senator from West Virginia, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and others, who helped me to get $20 million of relief to these people. Obviously, it is 10 percent of what is needed, even by conservative estimates.

But now what we are doing is we are raising this lake 3 feet--it is a very big lake, very shallow, but it is being raised 3 feet--and cutting off all the water to farmers and fowl. It is being done to save the suckerfish, and now, while it is being saved, it is warming up. So the coho salmon that will soon be returning expecting to receive the cool waters of the Klamath will receive waters the temperature of a swimming pool. So, potentially, even the coho salmon--which is also a listed species--could be adversely affected by this biological opinion.

Well, there are two agencies of the Federal Government that are competing. One biological opinion is Fish and Wildlife with regard to the suckerfish. The other is the biological opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Commerce Department that affects the coho salmon.

Both biological opinions essentially ask for 100 percent of the water which means cutting off 100 percent of the people.

The point I want to make is that would not be necessary if the Federal Government over the last 8 years would have kept its part of the bargain and done what it could to mitigate the impact to the sucker so that farmers would not be victimized.

What I do is simply reinstate the previous biological opinions that were in effect before this spring until the Federal Government can complete action on numerous recommendations of its 1993 recovery plan. Again, they were not acted upon over the last 8 years. Why? They say budgetary reasons.

I want this to be a priority. I want the budget to fix this problem. I do not want the whole budget burden thrown on the backs of rural people, but that is what was decided to be done.

This is the land, the valley. I do not know whether my colleagues can see it, but this couple is overlooking the Klamath Basin--farms being developed, hay being raised, corn being raised, potatoes being raised that fill our shelves today. Look at the hopes and dreams in the faces of these people.

This is a little girl at an assembly of people at a rally a few weeks ago. Her sign says: ``Mommy says I can't eat, but fish can.''

That is what we are driving them to, and it is not right because they are being told they are of lesser value under our law than the shortnosed sucker.

This is a picture of the shortnosed sucker. It is a bottom-feeding fish. It lives in this shallow lake. It has gone through many droughts along with the farmers. It has survived, stressed, I am sure, just as humans are stressed in conditions of drought.

I am not saying this fish has no value. I have never thought the suckerfish is very good looking, but it has a mother, and that mother, I am sure, loves this fish. I know the Native Americans in this area value this fish, and I am not suggesting in any way that we are not interested in saving this fish.

I am saying the purpose of the Endangered Species Act was not to engage in a process of rural cleansing, of throwing off their property people who had been given great promise and hope for the future. They are meeting the mailmen with foreclosure notices because the Federal Government decided it is going to breach its promise.

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A lesson in how Gordon Smith can keep his Senate seat

According to Portland curmudgeon Jack Bogdanski, the very bestest argument that can be made to Oregonians for the defeat of Gordon Smith is to say don't vote Republican:

You cannot vote for Gordon Smith because he is a member of the Republican Party. Over the last six and a half years, the Republican Party has set this country back at least 50 years. They have made a mess of everything, domestically and internationally. Guys like Gordon Smith had their chance to run the country, and they botched it badly. So now it's time for someone else to get a chance.

Earth to Bog: Don't quit your day job for political consulting, dude.

First of all, there are a huge number of Oregonians that self-identify as Republicans, especially once a person takes off their Rose City colored glasses and pays attention. This is a STATEWIDE contest--not a PORTLAND contest. Pitching voters to dump a guy just because he's a Republican isn't going to work anywhere north, south, east or west of Portland, in general.

Second, people who aren't political wonks aren't going to the general election polls as a rule to vote for a party. They're going to vote for a PERSON. If the main argument for dumping Smith becomes "Republicans suck", there's nothing to actually identify with Smith, personally. One of the most common findings in political polling is the notion that Congress as a body is terrible--but folks tend to like the people that they elect to represent them. Until a campaign is able to break this general liking of Smith as a Senator and perhaps all-around good guy--the "Republicans suck" meme has no resonance.

The silliest part of Bog's post is actually not his post at all...but the back-slapping in comments from the "me too!" crowd. One would think with all that stroking they'd at least have insisted on getting dinner first.

Seven Wonders of Orygun

The recent vote on the New Seven Wonders of the World prompted a discussion last evening about Oregon's own wonders.

Tying Oregon's wonders to those on the world stage is problematic, mostly because the world wonders are structures. Oregon isn't exactly a mecca of architectural feat (Feel free to disabuse me of this notion in comments, btw). But it is interesting to me to consider what would be a "wonder of Oregon". I think the list ought to include whatever Oregonians say it should include--rather than restricting ourselves to man-made stuff.

Some of my thoughts:

The Painted Hills

Multnomah Falls

Kam Wah Chung Museum, John Day

Richardson's Thunder Egg Ranch

Fossil beds behind Wheeler High School in Fossil, Oregon

Devil's Punchbowl

Sea Lion Caves

As you can see, I'm way short on buildings. I've also considered that there might be some people who could make the list--Bud Clark for example.

I'd be grateful for some help adding to my list. I'm thinking about taking my progeny on some trips to appreciate their state and its wonders. Thoughts?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Torrid Goes Nationwide (Briefly) on Air America Wed

Yay. After a couple weeks of waiting and watching to see if the slightest sniff of recognition passed the noses of the regular media, we're upping the ante a little. Wednesday morning KPOJ stalwart Thom Hartmann is going to give me a little time to remind America about Cheney and Rove's meddling in Oregon's elections to protect the vulnerable Gordon Smith, how Smith was deeply involved in the temporary triumph of politics over science, and how ordinary people can help keep our representatives accountable as bloggers.

You can of course listen live to AM 620 if you're within earshot of their Portland studios, tune in to one of the affiliated stations nationwide airing Thom, or stream it live from their page. I'm scheduled for shortly after 10AM, after the news.

This is a great opportunity to reinforce Gordon Smith's national profile as a vulnerable candidate, and why he should be replaced based on examples like the Klamath fiasco. If Cheney's role in Klamath is worth an investigation, and Senators like Doc Hastings and Pete Domenici can be under scrutiny for their active roles in another scandal of political end-aroundism, why isn't Smith's prominent role in a plan that was ultimately declared illegal worth discussing at dinner tables in Des Moines?

Thanks to Thom Hartmann and his staff for giving us the opportunity to be a voice in the debate! Think of the stature your words will gain with friends and neighbors when you don't have to say "I heard on a blog about Gordon Smith that he..." and watch their noses crinkle when you say "blog"--you can say "I heard it on talk radio" instead, and they will immediately accept it as gospel. I don't care whether you listen or not; just pretend you did when you spread the word about our little faux-moderate. Enabler's too light a label for Smith; Klamath proves he's part of the rot.

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Gordon Takes Credit for Carrying Their Water

Listen to what people were saying in 2002 about Gordon Smith's involvement in the Klamath water fiasco:

Some say you can't fight the federal government...they should meet Gordon Smith.

Water's our problem--and bureaucrats.

He took it straight to Bush.

He wouldn't take no for an answer.

That's Gordon. He stood up for us.

Gordon Smith carried our water.

Wow, for someone who wants to avoid scrutiny on this re-bubbling topic, those statements have to be a little inconvenient right now, don't they? The way these people tell it, when Gordon Smith found out that "bureaucrats" (read: federal biologists) wanted to give Klamath River water to fish instead of farmers, he not only got involved, he went right to the head of scientific inquiry in the US--President Bush! And somehow, though Republicans have been famous for taking whatever answer the President gives them, this time Smith wouldn't budge! He carried their water.

Could these people be any more obvious with what they're saying? Whatever it was that got the decision turned around in Washington to overrule the fish and slake the land's thirst instead, the people saying these things believe that Gordon Smith was instrumental in getting it done. Who could have put them up to say such things?

How about Gordon Smith?
Forgive the video quality, but the audio for this 2002 Smith re-election ad is crystal clear...right down to the sound of the irrigation sprinkler at the very end. Out of 30 precious seconds to the admen, almost five of them have that sound, and it's no mistake. There are only two things Gordon Smith really wanted his Klamath constituency to retain from that viewing experience: the name Gordon Smith, and chsh-chsh-chsh-chsh-chsh. It's like he's bragging to the farmers--"I got your water turned on, don't forget me this fall." Chsh chsh chsh.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Spanning the State--Prodigal Headline Edition

[For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me post a headline right now. I'll try to get one plugged in later. But for now this is a headline-free post. Ugh.]

update 1pm--fixed...TJ

Recently, free speech in the Portland metro area has taken a couple of interesting turns.

First is the appearance of The Freeway Blogger in Portland:

The Freeway Blogger had signs up all around the freeways in Portland. Click on the link to check out more.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is this piece by Becky at Preemptive Karma. Becky reports that private security in charge of the Portland Blues Festival were likely way out-of-free-speech-bounds:

A man was standing on the bridge overlooking the festival and holding up two signs. One read "Impeach" and the other "End the War." He was merely standing on the sidewalk showing his signs to festival-goers. He wasn't shouting, he wasn't in anyone's way, and he wasn't being disruptive. Nevertheless, two members of the festival security team began harassing him, one calling for backup on the radio and the other angrily talking with him. The man moved further down the bridge, but was gone a few minutes later when we looked again.

The Portland Blues Festival is held at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in the southwest part of the city. The bridge that overlooks the park is the Hawthorne Bridge, which is city property and not at all a part of the Festival grounds.

Private security kicking people off of public property? Hmmm...where have I seen that before...?

And now, let's Span the State!


I hate that Steve Duin doesn't cover sports for the O anymore. Today's column is a reminder of what a good sports writer he is.

A family from Lewisburg is getting a new home thanks to ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

A potential standoff is brewing in Canby. Some locals are unhappy with a proposal to build a large chicken farm operation near their homes. If the family who wants to build the farm is ultimately denied, they'll undoubtedly have a large Measure 37 claim. Clackamas County voted overwhelmingly to pass M37. Buyer's remorse, anyone?

The McMenamin brothers are looking to create another of their unique inn/restaurant destinations, this time at the former Multnomah County Correctional Facility.

Madras is beaming over native son Jacoby Ellsbury, who got the call this week from the Boston Red Sox to play with the big club at Fenway.

Molalla City Council has an apparent charmer in their midst. Newly seated City Councilor Steve Clark sent out an email asking city planning director Shane Potter if he's retarted and allegedly had to be asked to leave city hall a few weeks ago by a police officer after some of the staff felt threatened by him.

The newspaper of record in Prineville loves the 2007 Legislative Session.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Cracks of Light In The O (From Others) on Smith

We're not beating our heads against the wall yet, given that it's very early and we've only just started discussing it--but the mainstream notice of Smith's role in the Klamath fiasco has been minimal to negligent, at best. I have yet to see a single piece (link in the comments if you have) that mentions Smith's role in any way other than as passive beneficiary. That may change; we've got something to show you Monday that makes a strong visual case for portraying his direct involvement in getting the scientific conclusions overturned in favor of farm interests. And we're negotiating a chance to bring the story to a national audience outside the blogosphere, and of course if that happens we'll let you know.

OK, when I said there hasn't been a single piece that mentions Smith's active involvement, I meant a news piece instigated by reporters and/or editors. But there has in fact been a little indirect penetration on the issue, as The O allowed a regular citizen to make the case in their pages on Thursday:
Your editorial "Cheney and the Klamath salmon kill" (June 30) rightly took Vice President Dick Cheney to task for his illegal meddling in the 2002 Klamath Basin water issue. In chastising Cheney, however, you failed to even mention the direct involvement of either Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., or former Oregon politician-turned-lobbyist Bob Smith.

Were it not for the aggressive involvement of these two Oregon men, Cheney and Karl Rove would not have broken the law to supply scarce Klamath waters at the expense of endangered salmon and coastal fishery jobs.

The Oregonian too often gives Smith a pass, pointing to his occasional breaks with his Republican Party and painting him as some sort of genuine political moderate. He should not be let off the hook on the Klamath episode.

The Oregonian ought to dig a little deeper and shine the light on Oregon officials when they are playing a direct or complicit role in the Bush administration's unethical and illegal affairs.

CHRIS BECK Lake Oswego
Chris Beck, I've never met you but I think I love you. I couldn't have written it better myself. That's the rational view; also appearing in Thursday's edition was the scientific view from Steve Pederey, conservation director of Oregon Wild and an active observer during the period under scrutiny. Steve doesn't call Smith out specifically (and in fact kind of avoids it in the same way as the regular media) but he's certainly pointing at the methods Smith seems culpable for:
A Washington Post investigation uncovered Cheney's role in this tragedy, finding that he personally called natural resources managers to demand that they cut water for salmon during a drought year to favor agribusiness interests. According to the Post, Cheney wanted to reward political allies and help Republican Sen. Gordon Smith win re-election in Oregon.

That wasn't the first time politicians have sacrificed the Klamath's fish and wildlife to achieve political goals. In 2003, The Wall Street Journal found that the political motives of White House adviser Karl Rove, not science, had driven federal decisions in the Klamath. And in 2002, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden killed a $175 million restoration bill for the Klamath that would have benefited both salmon and farmers.

Today the Klamath Basin stands at a crossroads. This most recent scandal and the coming investigations into Cheney's actions are yet another example of why Congress needs to act to resolve the environmental crisis facing the Klamath. Continuing to leave the region's fish and wildlife at the mercy of politics is a recipe for disaster. It's appalling that the vice president used his influence to overturn science-based decisions that resulted in the largest fish kill in Northwest history. But it's even more appalling that five years after that fish kill little has been done to prevent a repeat.

If there's one example of Smith being a part of the effort to flip science on its head, here's a quote from the Klamath Herald News in April 2001 that we ran in our original story on the fish kill fiasco. It both sums up Smith's knowledge and support of Cheney's machinations, and actually explains how Cheney plans to use politics to trump science:
"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.
And when Cheney and Rove got the water turned back on, they let Gale Norton and Smith take the credit...and Smith even bragged about the accomplishment later.

Will anyone ask him about this example of his ideological marriage to the Bush administration? Will you?

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Gordo Plays Dumb on Scooter, Claims to Support "Majority" in OR

Hat tip to DailyKos' mcjoan for finding some great Gordo video from this week in the wake of the Scooter Libby commutation scandal--boos to us for not seeing it. I probably don't troll the local TV websites as much as I should, but it's discouraging to wade through the dreck to find the good nuggets.

In the vid, Smith repeatedly says he can't understand why Scooter perjured himself, when "he wasn't charged in the case." He also fails to offer any insight on whether he thinks the commutation OR the sentence were justified, saying only of the former that the President has the Constitutional right, and of the latter that perjury "is a very serious thing." He also mentions that he wishes the case could have run its course, legally speaking. Does that mean he thinks that the case was wrongly decided, or that you shouldn't interject a commutation or pardon before all appeals are exhausted (which would potentially have taken us past Bush's term and thus made action on his part impossible)? Say it with me now--Smith doesn't make his position clear.

Smith says he spoke with the President a couple of days ago "for almost a half hour, about our differences, but also our common purpose to get it right for America, and hopefully get us in a different spot in Iraq come September." Parse that one if you can--what does getting it right entail? What "different spot" in Iraq will come in September, and how do Smith and Bush share that hope when Smith seems to be implying they have different expectations for September?

The best part of the interview may be when Smith describes how he will run next year. From my own transcription:
I believe in health care reform, I believe in low taxes, I believe in a government that promotes individual freedom, I believe in a strong national defense but I think we need to focus on the real enemy, and not on policing an Iraqi civil war between Sunnis and Shias, which isn't our fight and not something we can fix. But we have the war on terror from which we cannot retreat, for our own safety's sake. And so I'm committed to those things. I think Oregonians understand pretty well how I vote, why I vote that way, and my heart is to try to represent majorities in Oregon as much as possible.
How on earth can Oregonians understand how you vote, when your votes don't match the rhetoric--or you don't supply any rhetoric at all until the vote comes? Can you understand how he may vote on the next Iraq bill, based on the paragraph above? I sure can't.

But it kills me that a US Senator pretends to be that clueless when it comes to the details of the Plame/Libby story. But perhaps there's a chance that he's not actually playing, and actually DOESN'T understand the story. That's why we've bought a copy of Marcy Wheeler's Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy, the definitive current work on the entire scandal, to send to Gordon's DC office. Maybe he'll pretend to have read it.

Nelson Displays His Bio-Willie for Oregon

But it's a good thing:
Entertainer Willie Nelson will help Oregon's first commercial biodiesel plant celebrate its two-year anniversary in a big way, headlining a press conference and ground-breaking of the expansion of the plant. Also scheduled for concert dates in the area that week, Nelson will arrive in his biodiesel-powered tour bus for the July 6 event, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel plant in Salem (at Mill Creek Junction, 4725 Turner Road, Salem, Oregon).

"Oregon has always been progressive in its thinking, and has been out front in every way about most major issues. This is just another example of Oregon setting a good example for the rest of the country," said Nelson.
My man, Willie--he LOVES us! The Inside Greentech blog offers a little context:
In best hippie fashion, Pacific Biodiesel's Salem, Oregon plant has been converting recycled cooking oil from restaurants and food processors in Oregon and Washington, such as Burgerville and Kettle Foods. It's now starting to use canola oil grown elsewhere in Oregon.

(We're not slagging hippies. Heck, if anything, we love pointing out that they got it RIGHT... witness organic fuel, organic food, home schooling, etc.!)

When in-state production reaches its five million gallons per year capacity using raw materials from the Pacific Northwest, the statewide RFS included in the Biofuels Bill (HB 2210) will be enacted. The RFS will increase annual demand for biodiesel by approximately 10 million gallons, to total nearly twenty million gallons of biodiesel per year.
Notwithstanding the debate on the environmental efficacy of biofuels that I waded into over at Blue Oregon yesterday, the significant up-ramping of Oregon's production in service to our long term goals is well worth a tip of the hookah from the influential music icon. Oh, and I didn't make up the name "Bio-Willie" just to be salacious; it really exists, and they sell--what else--fine British Columbian marijuana. I mean, premium biodiesel.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mythbusters: Oregonians conservative? Nope.

With an exceedingly frustrating regularity, Americans are referred to as having by and large conservative political views. From taxes to abortion, the media (especially talk radio and cable infotainment) offer up the canard that US citizens have pulled a hard charge to the political right.

Oregonians haven't escaped this attempt to trap us into believing we're Goldwater bound. In fact we're inundated with right wing radio freaks whose sole purpose is to tell us how eeeevil and corrupt liberals are--so none of us will want to self-identify as such.

Except that we ARE liberal. According to the good folks at Media Matters for America, polling and studies prove as much.

Specifically relating to Oregonians, the Annenberg Election Survey of 2004 yields a pretty definitive result: Oregonians are NOT conservative.

For example:

“Providing health insurance for people who do not already have it—should the federal government spend more on it, the same as now, less, or no money at all?”
Percent answering “More”: 70%

The federal government helping to pay for health insurance for all children—do you favor or oppose this?
Percent answering “favor”: 73%

“The federal government helping employers pay the cost of their workers’ health insurance—do you favor or oppose this?”
Percent answering “favor”: 66%

“Providing financial assistance to public elementary and secondary schools—should the federal government spend more on it, the same as now, less, or no money at all?”
Percent answering “more”: 68%

“The federal government trying to reduce the income differences between rich and poor Americans—do you favor or oppose the federal government doing this?”
Percent favoring: 53%

“The federal government banning all abortions—do you favor or oppose the federal government doing this?”
Percent opposed: 72%

“Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that no state can allow two men to marry each other or two women to marry each other?”
Favor: 36% Oppose: 56%

“Restricting the kinds of guns that people can buy—should the federal government do more about it, do the same as now, do less about it, or do nothing at all?”
Percent answering “more”: 53%

These are our fellow Oregonians believing in providing health insurance for everyone,opposing abortion bans,opposing bans on gay marriage and restricting certain types of guns.

Nationwide results follow this trend:

Three-fourths of Americans polled would be willing to pay more for electricity generated by renewable resources, and 57 percent feel immigrants have more of a positive than harmful impact on the country. Two-thirds believe immigration is good for the country.

As presidential hopefuls begin to announce health care reform platforms, the report revealed that 69 percent of Americans believe it's the government's responsibility to ensure coverage for all, and 76 percent believe access to coverage should take priority over maintaining the Bush administration's tax cuts.

While a majority of Americans identify themselves as conservative, Paul Waldman, a senior fellow at Media matters and a co-author of the report, said that when questioned on individual issues they are progressive.

Despite the chatter on radio, the rightosphere blogtocracy and cable infonews shows Americans are decidedly liberal on an array of issues. Even though the demon-label "liberal" will often push people to call themselves "moderate", they'll vote liberal if shown the way. The groundwork is already laid.

Novick 6th-highest 2Q Earner on ActBlue

Not to construe it to mean that Steve Novick is a national fundraising monster, given the fact that (for instance) Barack Obama took in about $15 million in online donations and almost none of it came through ActBlue--but here are the stats for top ten dollar recipients in Q2 at that quickly-growing site:
Top candidates by $ raised (Q2)

amount | candidate
883,656 | John Edwards
134,904 | John Kerry
128,215 | Jared Polis
107,483 | Joseph Sestak Jr
103,264 | Tim Johnson
101,689 | Steve Novick
97,000 | Chellie Pingree
77,677 | Niki Tsongas
74,254 | Mark Leno
70,377 | Jamie Eldridge
In addition, with 501 donors he falls just out of the top ten in that category, given that #10 is BlogPac (our new favorite friends, and we'll tell you why soon) with 548.

If you made a contribution to Steve's campaign in order to boost his 2Q showing, well done. And thank you! We'll be talking to you in 3 months... :)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

All Men Are Created Equal. Unless W Says Otherwise.

Normally I wouldn't post a story involving the national political situation on Loaded Orygun.

But O editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman nails Cheney's exploits brilliantly.

And since he's the cartoonist for the local daily--and this is (half) my blog, I'm posting it.

So neener.

Right Rogue--Wrong Smith

Yeah, Bob Smith is sleaze who helped prompt Cheney to circumvent the Endangered Species Act and create one of the largest fish kills ever in the West.

But why aren't the local papers pointing to Gordon Smith's direct efforts to circumvent the ESA as well?

Respect the Founders--Fight For Your Country

I have a friend who is refusing to "celebrate" the 4th of July today. It's not an echo of Fredrick Douglass' iconic "What to a slave is the 4th of July?" speech; they come from a middle class white family, of the kind who have much to be thankful for because of the fight for independence. They're just not celebrating it because they agonize for the health of the country in these times, and can't muster the enthusiasm to wave the flag and give another "rah rah" for imperialism this year.

I can definitely sympathize, but I can't agree. For me the 4th is a re-energizing event--although in a nod to my friend, the fact that my patriotic energy needs boosting is definitely a sad sign of trouble. While I can understand the impulse to retreat and lick the metaphoric wounds of our national embarrassment and shame, not to mention the actual wounds suffered by real Americans in combat, to do so is to admit defeat.

I can't do that. Regular readers know that Carla and I both can be stubborn folks, and I'll be double-damned if I'm going to let the likes of George Bush and Dick Cheney force me into despair for my nation. I can't let them kill the true American spirit, the one that guided our founders into rebelling against tyranny and proposing a government that seeks to prevent one at all costs. Going into a protective shell is the last thing we should do; our voices need to grow louder, not softer.

We hear a lot about those men and women who fight for our freedom today, and it's absolutely true. But there is another group of men who made today's sacrifices possible, and they fought no less bravely to secure freedom and the rule of law for their countrymen (at least the ones with white dicks and land.) It is their ideals and their reputation that most need upholding, their banner that we must raise highest. It is not a time to retreat and weep for what we have lost; we must demand restoration of that which has been ripped from us--our pride, our dignity, our confident sense of righteousness.

Don't be quiet this 4th of July. Take up the flag of our founding fathers and renew their ideals. Remind yourself from whence we came, and where we can one day be again. Do not sleep, do not despair. But do not demur.

Happy Independence Day, Oregon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Becoming Absurd: Jaquiss Blows ANOTHER Johnson Story

Lord, how we have tried. We have given reporters and editors at both The Oregonian and Willamette Week numerous opportunities to correct their work, explain how or why they missed crucial details, and to look askance at further "tips" on Betsy Johnson before putting together another half-researched set of accusations and innuendo like the ones they have already produced.

And yet, whether it's because they think our voices are still too quiet in the mass media to endanger theirs, figure they can outlast the indignation, or--apparently like the President--sense that their public credibility is already so poor that little chance exists that things will get worse if they keep doing dumb things, they persist. Carla explained on Monday how The O screwed the pooch on their most recent smear attempt, failing to verify the claims of a rejected suitor for Scappoose Airpark privileges while repeating previously admitted debunked claims of profit for Johnson.

As for Willy Week, after Nigel Jaquiss' embarrassment of a column linking Brookings Airport with Bandon Dunes (check the map) which necessitated a full retraction, we figured the Pulitzer Prize winner would flinch before touching the stove again (unless something beyond pure journalistic pursuit was pushing their efforts on the story.) In last week's edition of the paper, however, Jaquiss not only touches the stove he sticks his whole hand into the lobster pot:
Several people familiar with the value of metro-area industrial land say a property deal state Sen. Betsy Johnson brokered last September represented an extraordinary bargain for the buyer.

In the transaction, records show Stanley Wagner, now 80, sold 232 acres on West Lane Road in Scappoose to developer Ed Freeman for $2.385 million.

Johnson, a Scappoose Democrat whom political insiders call a top contender for her party's 2010 gubernatorial nomination, says she earned no money in the deal but merely acted as a go-between.
Mistake #1--saying that Johnson "brokered " the deal. In most other contexts I wouldn't say anything, but in a real estate transaction to "broker" something has a definite and specific meaning--for example, "An intermediary who receives a commission for arranging and facilitating the sale of a property for a buyer or a seller." At BEST Johnson 'facilitated' the sale, but she neither arranged it nor received payment for it, and Jaquiss fairly well acknowledges that in the last sentence I quoted. So was he just being sloppy to say she brokered real estate when she's not a broker? Or was the intent to imply more than what really occurred?

SB 680 created a program for three rural airports—Scappoose is one—that would promote development and ease runway access for adjacent property owners such as [developer Ed] Freeman. SB 807 would create taxing districts to funnel property taxes back into airport-related projects for 25 years.
Wrong. SB680 couldn’t have increased the land value as "through the fence" permits already existed at Scappoose Airport prior to its introduction by Johnson. And Freeman denies any knowledge at all of 807 prior to his purchase.

Would that these were the only kinds of errors Jaquiss made, but they become much more serious as you progress through the article. The main contention is that Johnson set up a deal for Ed Freeman (the developer in both this story and the original story about another land deal involving the three parties) whereby he would reap an enormous windfall by getting the land for far less than its actual worth, and then reselling it for much more:
"That's a hell of a deal for the buyer," says Bowlus Chauncey, who operates a company called Beaver Bark on 30 acres about a mile from the Wagner property.

Chauncey and Dave Molony, who separately owns 34 acres of industrial land along West Lane Road, say industrial property inside Scappoose's city limits and urban growth boundary is worth about 10 times the per-acre price of about $10,300 Freeman paid Wagner.

Those familiar with industrial land agree that it is a valuable commodity.
What Jaquiss says here about industrial land inside Scappoose and within the UGB is in fact true--it's pretty valuable turf. But there's one problem: the land was neither zoned industrial nor within the UGB when Freeman bought it. Even in its current formulation, less than half of the original parcel is zoned for industrial use. At a bare minimum, the flurry of comparative value calculations should have accounted for that.

Regardless, Jaquiss' framing reflects a core dishonesty in presentation, just as surely as if I claimed outrage that New Seasons Market is charging me $4 a pound for pineapple, when a farmer in Hawaii sells his to Del Monte' for 50 cents a pound. Wouldn't you think it pertinent to mention that a) New Seasons is paying for an organic pineapple rather than one treated by pesticide, and b) somebody had to pay to bring it to Oregon so I could buy it? If so, the fact that the land was agricultural rather than industrial when Freeman bought it should mean something to you.

Obliquely, Jaquiss admits that the property Freeman bought is not the same property he's trying to sell; he had to get it annexed into Scappoose and rezoned. But the very clear intent of the article is to suggest that this was a simple, inexpensive process that the original owners (octegenarian Stan Wagner and his wife) could have undertaken themselves before selling, thus locking in that profit for themselves:
Getting the land annexed, which automatically brought a zone change to "industrial," is a process Scappoose city manager Jon Hanken says is "not difficult at all." Annexation is something the Wagners' trustee, Murray-Lusby—or a higher-paying buyer—could have accomplished.
Apparently however, "difficult" is in the eye of the beholder--particularly if that beholder wants to selectively quote a source to suggest conditions for scandal. We talked to Hanken ourselves and got a much different picture. According to him, the process of annexation requires a lot of oversight/shepherding by a property owner. Once a parcel is identified for the UGB by a municipality as a part of their planning, they must designate its potential land use. The property owner then requests annexation and plans are submitted to the city. A series of steps then takes place at the city level via the planning commission and the city council. Then the city council votes. After they vote, it then goes to a vote of the people whether to annex the property inside the UGB.

Are you clear on that? Getting the property rezoned and annexed is EASY--all it takes is putting your request on a referendum ballot after a series of lengthy and complex steps! Freeman estimated to us that he spent about $30,000 in planning, engineering and surveying fees, along with a bunch of his own time, in order to get the land included as part of Scappoose. Oh, and did I mention the sewer line? As Freeman put it, “the property isn’t worth anything without sewer on it,” and so he forked over about $2 million to have that taken care of.

Jaquiss implies that the Wagners could easily have taken care of this themselves before selling to Freeman, thus reaping much greater profit. It's true that the Wagners likely could have covered the application fees and prep costs for annexation, and with proceeds from another recent sale of land they held in North Portland the couple might have been able to pay upfront for sewer extension to the property as well. But financial cost is only one consideration; you'd have to ask yourself whether babysitting your annexation proposal through City Council and onto the ballot is how you want to spend your time when you're sick and 80 years old.

No, the Wagners were not interested in becoming the Trumps of Columbia County. What they were concerned with was that their property not fall into the hands of people who wanted a gravel mining operation on their land, which is why they dealt with Johnson--who had promised she wouldn't let that happen. But what about this long-time acquaintance of the Wagners?
Tom Heckman, a West Lane Road property owner who says he's known Stan Wagner for more than 50 years, disagrees.

"Stan got screwed on the deal," says Heckman. "When I was over at their house helping them pack up, I told Mrs. Wagner, 'You got robbed.' She said, '[$2.385 million,] that's enough for me and Stan.'"
I said 'acquaintance' for a reason, because while Jaquiss tries to make Heckman into a lifelong friend, sources in Scappoose say that Heckman tried to buy the Wagners property and was rebuffed because he wanted to sell it off to be mined. That would have been useful information to have, wouldn't it? Yet again, someone cited by the papers as a source claiming dirty dealings turns out to have an axe to grind (cf Pete Williamson, Greg Jenks, Tim Bero.)

If you're still with me, one other way Jaquiss tries to impugn the sale is by using sources who suggest that the supply of industrial land in the area is nearly nonexistent:
Port of St. Helens operations manager Kim Shade says the Port has only 40 acres of industrial land for sale. That land is more fully developed but five miles farther from Portland—which lessens its value—than the property Freeman bought in Scappoose.

The Port's asking price is $4 per square foot, or about $175,000 per acre—17 times what Freeman paid Wagner. "There's just not a lot of industrial land for sale," Shade says. "We're getting a lot of inquiries for our property."

Shade says the Port based its price on a November 2006 appraisal that evaluated recent property sales in cities such as Canby, McMinnville, St. Helens and Ridgefield, Wash.

Andy Kangas, an industrial-property broker at CB Richard Ellis in Portland, recently closed the sale of 14.23 acres of land in Gresham for $204,000 an acre. He echoes Shade's assessment.

"There's basically no industrial land left in the metro area," Kangas says.
We're not clear on what land Shade is talking about; we've gone to the airport and identified about 30 industrial acres for sale by the Port...on land immediately adjacent to Freeman's parcels, not any '5 miles away.' As for Kangas, "full of crap" is the best way to characterize his knowledge of the area. This study of regional industrial land availability from Metro in 2001 {pdf} includes a table on page 16 of supply and demand projected to the year 2025. Columbia County's estimated demand is for 50 buildable acres; in 1999 the number of vacant acres for development was 883...and 70 of that was ready-to-develop. Even if many of those buildable acres have since been utilized in the intervening 7 years, remember that when Freeman bought from the Wagners NONE of those 232 acres were development-suitable, so the appropriate comparison would be to 883 acres, not 70. Some shortage.

Some among the readership consider our partisanship to be the driving force behind the continued defense of Johnson. No amount of protest to the contrary is likely to convince those folks otherwise, but our interest has long since surpassed merely defending a politician against unsubstantiated charges and allegations. At this point, we are far more concerned with the professional atrophy of what are supposed to be the premier daily and weekly papers in this state. We considered Nigel a friend, and still do--to his credit, he has at least retracted a piece that didn't meet journalistic muster, and took a considerable amount of time to defend his work to us privately.

But we're still concerned. We can no longer trust what comes from Jaquiss' keyboard, because we have run out of plausible explanations for the repeated one: someone desperately wants to see Johnson hurt, and/or wants to block legislative efforts that would hurt them financially, and has convinced WWeek and The O that there really is something there. And by repeatedly failing to check and seek the motives of the sources for their reportage, they are at best doing that someone's bidding, at worst actively contributing to it. And dammit, that makes us mad.

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Haloscan Flaking; Not Long for this Blog Anyway

The Haloscan comment system is down intermittently today it seems; we apologize if you had something you wanted to say about our posts. I've noted if you try right after you get a bad response, sometimes you can get in.

And I know we've said this a bunch of times since Thanksgiving, but this time it really looks like we'll be on the move soon. We'll keep the "old" LO up, but in the near future look for a new new interface, and a whole bunch more opportunity for you the reader to participate. We can leave these old problems behind, and move on to a whole new and different set!

Seriously, unless something falls through big changes are coming soon...


Emilie Boyles: Ego creepy

A person would have to have one hell of an undifferentiated ego mass to be Emilie Boyles.

Her boy Vladimir Golovan took it in the shorts yesterday for his role in trying to swindle the City of Portland out of public campaign money.

This after Boyles skipped town with the public's money while claiming herself an innocent victim of mean Mr. Golovan.

Yesterday, the cool kids over at the Merc discovered Boyles' MySpace, prompting her to shut down the comments.

This is a woman who likes to bill herself as a champion of the little guy, but has no problem stealing other people's money and walking away like it's no big deal.

And that picture she keeps using is way creepy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

LO Files FOIA Requests on Smith's Involvement in Fish Kill

As of today I have filed five Freedom of Information Act requests with various agencies of the federal government, asking each for their communications received by or sent to Senator Gordon Smith between February 2001 and March 2002. The intent is to discover the extent of Smith's active role in the decisions leading to the worst adult salmon fish kill in recorded Western history.

The requests have gone to:
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1 (OR) and HQ separately
    (FWS was responsible for decisions regarding the suckerfish under the Endangered Species Act, and participated in the initial ruling that cut water to farmers)
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service, part of NOAA
    (NMFS was responsible for the same decisions as above, concerning coho salmon)
  • The Department of Interior, Secretary's Office and Inspector General's Office separately
    (Interior Secretary Gale Norton oversaw the agencies involved in making the Klamath call; her Deputy Chief of Staff was cited in the WaPo series on Cheney as the woman "handling" the issue for DOI. The Inspector General issued a short finding of no influence in 2003 in response to a request for investigation by Senator Kerry)
A total of five requests have been sent. I have asked for a rolling return of items, meaning they'll send me what they have as they find it--but I'm not holding my breath. They are supposed to respond within 20 working days as to their ability to comply; the actual time to receive anything could be months, and what we get back could be exactly nothing. But you don't find out if you don't try.

Below is an example of one of the letters:
July 3, 2007
Office of the Secretary
Sue Ellen Sloca
MS-120, SIB
1951 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Ms Sloca:
Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, I am requesting copies of all correspondence from February 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002 with U.S. Senator Gordon Smith and his staff regarding water use, endangered species protections or agricultural irrigation in the Klamath River water basin.

This request includes communications from the Senator, his Senate Washington D.C. and Oregon offices and any members of his campaign committees, as well as all officials within your office. Communications covered include, but are not limited to, mail correspondence, email, facsimiles or phone logs.

For your purposes in filling this request, please consider me under the category of “all other organizations,” as defined by the Freedom of Information Act. If there are any fees for copying or searching for the records I have requested, please inform me of the cost prior to searching or copying, and only if the total exceeds $40.

If all or any part of this request is denied, please cite the specific exemption which you believe justifies your refusal to release the information and inform me of your agency's administrative appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Please provide all information on a rolling basis if possible. I appreciate your handling of this request as quickly as possible and I look forward to hearing from you within 20 working days, as the law stipulates. I can be reached at the email address "", or by phone at (xxx) xxx-xxxx if there any questions about my request.
[torridjoe--no, I did not put that down!]

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Novick Threatens 200K for Quarter, and Threatens it Good

Well, they sure do count fast over at Novick Central:
Today Steve Novick for U.S. Senate announced that the campaign had raised over $190,000 in the second quarter and was adding two paid staff, Jake Weigler as campaign manager and Aviva Groner as its finance coordinator.

“It is great that so many people share our vision of how to help Gordon Smith to a well-deserved retirement,” said Novick. “The fact that over 600 of them have already contributed to our campaign is a clear signal that we are well on our way.”
Ah yes, the other news is the apparatus. Weigler did a fine job in his prior role as Deputy Communcations Director for GuvTed as the parade of bills made their way from the dome to Mahonia, and Groner is a veteran of successful campaigns.

Regardless of whether he plans to run an insurgency-style campaign or not, Novick is surrounding himself with known players in the Oregon Democratic sphere. As he attempts to transition from "friends and family money" to stranger money, the comfort level with those professionals--particularly Groner--will be important. According to Novick's release, Cliff Trow, former Corvallis State Senator and leader of the Senate Democrats from 1996 to 1999 said, “Steve's campaign is clearly gathering momentum around the state. Those of us who worked with Steve when he was chief of staff to the Democrats in the State Senate know how good he is at building a team and generating energy and excitement. That's what he did for us in 1997 and '98, and that's what he's doing now.”

There's a long way to go, and now that the 1st tier group has abdicated the race there appears to be no shortage of folks considering a run. Among speculated newcomers are Jeff Merkley and Paul Evans, adding to the four or five other potential candidates already said to be mulling and ruminating. Who actually enters will have an impact on how Steve positions himself and what kind of campaign he'll run.

Of anyone mentioned, Merkley changes the game the most by placing a traditional Democrat with the traditional resume' and strong Portland ties into the fray. As someone said elsewhere, the debates could approach Lincoln-Douglas stature. But it would also force Novick into the insurgent's role, the gadfly's gadfly. And that's not necessarily Novick's sweet spot. Steve's angle is that he arrests you with his story and the confidence in his vision and principles.

Presenting as a new kind of candidate is more difficult with Merkley in the race, because it looks like a reaction to a perceived fault--that Novick has no electoral experience and Jeff is filthy with it--and more importantly Merkely can spin it as a positive where Gordon Smith cannot. In a general against Smith Novick can use Smith's experience against him; in a primary against Merkley the job is much tougher and exposes the only serious hole in his own profile.

All that's down the road, though. Right now Steve has to feel pretty good about where he sits, still the only candidate every news story mentions because he's the only one in. He has the foundation of a solid team, has put together good base funding in 10 weeks this far out (including an impressive $100,000 in netroots contributions), and is watching Gordon Smith's pedestal shake ever so imperceptibly the last couple of weeks. It's going to be a wild year and a half, people.

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Another O Johnson Story--More Missing Relevant Info

On June 22, the Oregonian published its latest piece on Betsy Johnson. It was a fairly lengthy and in at least one case flawed look at the State Senator from Scappoose.

First, the O trots out the consistently debunked financial numbers on Johnson's 2005 land deal:

But the image she has built as a selfless champion of her district has been scuffed by the revelation that she made a fast $119,000 in a land deal with a developer she has repeatedly aided. She then failed to disclose the deal as state law requires.

Johnson yielded about $45-50K from that deal. No matter how many times reporters click their heels together and write otherwise, $119k is incorrect.

Along with the consistently incorrect financial figures are the stories consistently lacking perspective (as well as using questionable sources for quotes) on articles accusing Johnson of wrongdoing. For example, the above cited Oregonian piece goes here:

In 1993, Vernonia businessman Tim Bero wanted to develop an aviation business park adjacent to the Scappoose airport. He needed Port of St. Helens approval for a "through the fence" permit so planes could come and go between the airport and his development.

The Port Commission -- with Johnson on the board -- would decide whether he got the permit.

"The day before the vote, Betsy called me and told me I had to line up behind her to fight this gravel pit or she would fight my plan," Bero said.

He refused and says Johnson led a successful fight against him -- leaving her husband's business holding the airport's only "through the fence" permit.

It's entirely possible that Bero had this conversation with Johnson. I have no proof that it didn't take place. But based on the date Bero is using in the quote above, his accusations makes little sense.

For Bero to get the "through the fence" permit in 1993, he went through the Scappoose Industrial Airpark Advisory Board, which makes its recommendation to the Port Commission. Based on the November 1993 Advisory Board meeting minutes (PDF--start on page 3), Johnson was a champion of Bero's proposal, going so far as to recommend that it be considered. Bero's answers to the Board's questions about his business seem vague at best, yet Johnson is quite clearly not speaking out against it.

The Board met again in January of 1994 and again spoke about Bero's proposal. Opposition to the Bero proposal came from Jim Wold and not Betsy Johnson, based on the meeting minutes. It's possible that Wold and Johnson could have colluded to hatch up a submarining of Bero's efforts. But based on the dates Bero is citing and Johnson's articulated support, it doesn't seem likely.

I also spoke with Airport Advisory Board member Mike Griesen--who says that the Advisory Board wanted to work with Bero to get his "through the fence" access in a way that would satisfy the FAA. Griesen said that at no time did anyone ask him to not support Bero's proposal. Griesen also told me that to his knowledge, no one asked any of the Board members to not support Bero's "through the fence" permit.

Once again, these stories accusing Johnson of wrongdoing (in this case blackmail) don't seem to include pertinent information. It would seem relevant to check with the Airport Advisory Board to find out what really happened to Bero's "through the fence" permit, rather than just accepting his word--yet that doesn't seem to have happened.

TJ Talks Smith's Role in Fish Kill on KPOJ This AM

Coming round the horn of Monday at about 7:20 this morning, TJ will be talking about the very active role Senator Gordon Smith played in the Klamath Basin fiasco with Heidi and Carl at KPOJ AM 620. (Heidi and Carl didn't play any role with Smith; they're who I'll be talking to!) Listen or stream it or hear the podcast of the 7 o'clock hour later. And follow along in your LO hymnals, set to this page wherein we examine Smith's many telling moments as the crisis developed, and how they intertwine him inextricably with Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Two great guys to have intertwined with you going into the next election, aren't they?

Get some sleep now; we'll wake you before the show tomorrow. Promise.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Spanning the State--GARDEN! Edition

I'm a woman of limited passions. If I spread my interests too thin I become frustrated with the restrictions that come with the number of hours in a day. So besides politics, my only other serious hobby is gardening.

I don't write about gardening all that often because I'm emminently unqualified. I've considered taking the Master Gardener course through OSU. But the volunteer hours required are prohibitive for me until I have a LOT more free time. So I'll continue to fumble around in my limited capacity--figuring things out as I go.

This year is my first attempt at growing blueberries. My neighbors have grown them for years with great success. So this year I created a blueberry bed. The first few years apparently come with a meager harvest (I'll probably get a quart or two from my four plants).

But once they're well established I've been assured that they'll fruit like crazy.

The back raised bed garden was built 3 years ago. I grow vegetables, tomatoes and dahlias in it for the most part. Last year I grew dill which went to seed when I wasn't paying attention, so this year I'm pulling dill out of all the beds like weeds. The black shade cloth is up in front of the squash because I had to move the plant--which had volunteered right up next to a tomato plant. This garden gets heavy western exposure and the late afternoon/early evening heat was doing it in.

Last week I stopped at a garage sale on my way home and found this old, painted milk can. I have no idea how old the can (or the painting) is.

I've seen similar items in antique malls for upwards of $50-$100. I got 2 of these for $5. I sprayed this one with a few coats of clear lacquer to help keep the remaining paint from peeling away--and I gave the other one to my neighbor.

This is a pot of Mimulus that I started from seed. If you look closely, you'll see a little garden statue frog in the middle of the pot. My daughter gave that to me last year for my birthday.

Below is Queen-of-the-Prairie, which has grown in this location since before I moved into my house.

It's thrived in this location and despite its tendency to take over, I love it so I haven't dug it out.

Last Fall I decided to create a new garden at the side of my house. So I covered the lawn with newspaper and a heavy coating of new garden soil, and left it to winter over. The grass died off pretty well and I tilled the whole thing up with a generous amount mushroom compost this Spring.

Its still a work in progress--but this is what I've managed so far:

And now that you've indulged my garden hobby, let's indulge in my other. Let's Span the State!


In a Pamplin-esque move, Evanite Fiber Corp is offering to gift the city of Corvallis with a chunk of riverfront acreage along the Willamette River. The catch? Evanite wants the city to help get the company out from under state regs that "hinder operations" at the industrial site.

A federal judge has halted a US Forest Service timber sale with a restraining order. The judge will hear arguments on July 12 from conservation groups claiming that the Forest Service distorted scientific evidence on spotted owl habitat and the flouting of the Northwest Forest Plan's prohibition on logging old growth for commercial purposes.

A proposed mining operation near Coquille is under threat from locals who say that the proposed mine will threaten their health and their way of life.

The Register-Guard in Eugene gives the legislative session a B+.

If I was getting my electricity from Coos-Curry Electric I would be pissed. Their board just voted to close its meetings from members. Members may only attend meetings if they request to attend a session and be approved by the Board.

A Prairie City man is looking for a new home for his 2000+ can and bottle collection.

The LaGrande Observer notes that The Office of Rural Policy in Salem is riding on a razor's edge--looking at the business end of the budget ax for the 2008 session. The Observer believes that the Office is crucial to bridging the urban-rural divide in Oregon and is complaining that legislators aren't giving it a real chance to succeed.

Costco is cruising McMinnville in an effort to find a new location.