Ridenbaugh Press Northwest pages

May 12, 2008

ID: Developments & Reports

Filed under: ID: Developments & Reports — Randy Stapilus @ 11:42 pm

 The last of the Idaho Democratic superdelegates who had not already declared a preference in the Obama-Clinton contest did today. That was state Chair Keith Roark, who said he would vote for Obama; he became one of at least four new Obama superdelegates on Monday.

OR: Developments & Reports

Filed under: OR: Developments & Reports — Randy Stapilus @ 4:20 am

bullet The Saturday appearance at Bend by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama marked the first visit by a major presidential candidate to Oregon east of the Cascades in 40 years - since the hot 1968 Democratic contest between Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy (neither of whom wound up with the nomination). Obama drew about 2,300 people - more Democrats than some might have guess live at Bend. Meantime,  former President Bill Clinton stumps in Pendleton, Baker and Redmond - other places that have not often seen national figures.

WA: Developments & Reports

Filed under: WA: Developments & Reports — Randy Stapilus @ 12:07 am

bullet width=10 A perspective piece in the Seattle Times gives an overview of how rapid development has an environmental effect on the Puget sound area. Very much an overview, but pulling in developments (such as creation of mid-sized subdivisions) not often discussed in environmental impact stories.

bullet width=10 One of Washington’s top private higher-ed institutions, St. Martin’s University at Lacey, has a new president: Bryan Johnston, currently head of a human services agency in Oregon state government, and is a former Oregon state House member. No indication of any major changes ahead at the institution.

bullet width=10 A just-released report on human trafficking in the Northwest [RP document], developed by Spokane-area entities, doesn’t include specific statistics or some other key details but does outline the parameters of the problem.

May 9, 2008

The meaning of the 20th

Filed under: Uncategorized — Randy Stapilus @ 4:36 am

We’re among those thinking the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination is strategically over - all that’s needed is for the next steps, over the next few weeks, to play out. (Actually, we’ve thought that for a couple of months; only the precise percentages in specific contests, not the overall structure and dynamic of the race, has been in doubt since early March.)So what does May 20, Oregon primary election day, mean in that context?

Spokesmen for the Barack Obama campaign have said they see it as a big milestone. And it may be, to a point. The Democratic procedure for apportioning delegates, giving both major candidate similar numbers of delegates out of each state whether they win or lose (Pennsylvania did not massively wipe Obama in the delegate count, nor did North Carolina cost Hillary Clinton much margin). Rather, once one candidate early on was able to establish a majority of delegate votes, that majority would become almost impregnable thereafter if both candidates had comparable strength. And since early March, that scenario - no matter all the hoorah in the headlines - has been playing out smoothly. In the next few weeks it will play out again. At this point, Obama has collected enough pledged (elected) delegates that he needs just 38 more to have collected more than half of all pledged delegates - a major marker other delegates are watching closely.

After next Tuesday’s election in West Virginia (which Obama likely will lose decisively) he probably will gain another 10 or so delegates. Week after that comes Kentucky (which Clinton will probably win) and Oregon (probable for Obama), which between them should yield to Obama another 45 or so delegates. Which crosses the line.

This whole thing is psychological, though; Obama will need to continue trudging on after that. And getting the majority of pledged delegates will not translate to the nomination: He will need additional superdelegate votes for that.

But after May 20, those superdelegates may become easier to get. And that may be a mark the Obama forces will want to celebrate.

May 1, 2008

ID: Tax revenue

Filed under: ID tax revenue — Randy Stapilus @ 7:20 pm

From the Division of Financial Management.

General Fund revenue was $8.3 million lower than expected in March, and now stands $22.1 million below the amount predicted for the fiscal year to date. These results are based on the updated General Fund revenue forecast that was produced in February 2008. March’s shortfall was due to a combination of weakness in the individual income tax, the sales tax, and miscellaneous revenue. These three areas of weakness were partially offset by modest gains in the corporate income tax. The product tax category was on target.

Individual income tax revenue was $3.7 million lower than expected in March. Filing collections were $6.2 million higher than the month’s target, and now stand $3.6 million above the amount expected for the fiscal year to date. Withholding collections were $2.8 million lower than expected and now the fiscal year to date. Refunds were $5.8 million higher than expected for the month and are now $24 million lower on a fiscal year-to-date basis. This brings the overall individual income tax fiscal year-to-date shortfall to $22.5 million. In recent years the acceleration in the timing of refund processing has produced a similar pattern of higher-than-expected refunds early in the filing season (January – March), followed by lower-than-expected refunds later in the filing season (April – June). This appears to be continuing and should shrink the refund gap as the fiscal year-end approaches.

Corporate income tax revenue was $1.5 million ahead of expectations in March and now stands $1.8 million ahead on a fiscal year-to-date basis.

Sales tax revenue was $2.0 million lower than expected in March and now stands $6.2 million below the fiscal year-to-date predicted amount. March was a small-scale repeat of what happened in February, with gross collections expected to grow 1.6% but actually falling -0.5% (February was expected to grow 1.7% but actually came in at -3.7%). The spread is closer on a fiscal year-to-date basis, with growth of 1.2% expected, but actual growth achieving a more modest 0.5%. The growth forecast for the full fiscal year is 0.8% (this is on a normalized basis to remove the effect of the rate increase partway through FY 2007).

Product taxes were on target in March and remain $0.1 million lower than expected on a year-to-date basis. Miscellaneous revenues were $4.2 million lower than expected in March due to weakness in the insurance premium tax. Overall the miscellaneous category is $4.9 million ahead of its target for the fiscal year to date.

ID: Employment

Filed under: ID employment — Randy Stapilus @ 7:18 pm

From Idaho Department of Labor:

Weak growth in construction and the loss of manufacturing jobs during March pushed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 3 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from the downwardly revised February rate and the rate for March 2007.

It was the largest one-month increase in Idaho’s unemployment rate since March 1982 when the U.S. was in the midst of a severe 19-month national recession. Still, this March marked the 32nd straight month that Idaho’s jobless rate has been below 4 percent—the level economists generally call full employment—and the 78th month that Idaho’s unemployment rate has been below the national rate, which increased three-tenths of a point to 5.1 percent.
Year over year, the national unemployment rate for March was seven-tenths of a percentage point higher.

In Idaho, total employment during March was stagnant from February at 733,700, less than 4,000 more than a year earlier, while the number of people without jobs rose over 800 to 22,400, the highest number of jobless workers since December 2006.

While jobs increased in a variety of industries, the overall growth appeared to be the lowest for March since the last national recession in 2001. Sluggish employment in construction, manufacturing, insurance, finance and real estate that became evident last October persisted into spring. Combined, construction and manufacturing, especially in the timber sector, shed nearly 8,000 jobs in the past year.

Cool weather slowed spring field preparation slightly but about 2,800 more people were working in agriculture in March. Great snow conditions continued to fuel additional job activity in the leisure and hospitality industries such as resorts, lodges and restaurants. Employment growth was also reported in retail trade, building and various support services, and temporary employment agencies.

Only two counties experienced unemployment rates in excess of 8% in March: Clearwater at 9.9 percent and Benewah at 8.3%. Unemployment rates at or below 2 percent occurred in seven counties: Bonneville at 2%, Madison and Oneida at 1.9%, Franklin at 1.8%, Butte and Owyhee at 1.6% and Teton at 1.2%.

Sali on the mexican consulate

Filed under: Bill Sali, illegal immigration — Randy Stapilus @ 7:15 pm

From an April 30 press release from Representative Bill Sali.

In a letter sent today, Congressman Bill Sali asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to delay opening a Mexican consulate in Boise until the government can assure Idahoans that a consulate will not foster the continued presence of illegal aliens in Idaho. The letter follows a meeting Sali had with senior State Department officials in which the Department’s bureaucrats expressed considerably more concern about whether the consular office would follow local zoning laws than whether it would aid people in breaking federal immigration laws.

“Our government has the moral and constitutional duty to take into consideration how foreign consulates affect our fellow citizens here in our own country,” said Sali.  “While I appreciate the important role that the Mexican and other foreign consulates play in facilitating trade and assisting their citizens in distress, just as our foreign consulates do, that is not the issue at stake.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of State seems unconcerned with the controversy surrounding the issuance of certain forms of identification that may be useful to illegal aliens in hiding their illegal status.  It makes sense to me to put on the brakes on approving a new consulate until these concerns are fully addressed.

“Zoning is important, but immigration is a matter of national security. It is up to the State Department to start assuring Idahoans that a Mexican consulate will not be used to provide aid and comfort to people who are here in willful violation of our nation’s laws,” said Sali. “The request for a consulate office in Boise should be delayed until the Department can provide those assurances.”

In his letter to Rice, Sali expressed disappointment that so far State Department officials have expressed little interest in assuring Idahoans that the consular office will not be used to aid illegal immigration. Reports from other states indicate Mexican consulate offices have been used to help illegal aliens receive identification cards.  Even though the cards are issued by a foreign government, reports indicate these cards are accepted as legitimate ID by some public agencies and businesses across the county.  Consulates across the country have distributed more than 1.5 million such cards in a span of two years.

“Idahoans deserve verification that Mexican consulate offices do not help illegal aliens receive identification cards which are then used to obtain the same benefits as those who are legally in our great country, including banking,” said the Congressman.

Sali asked Rice to answer the questions previously posed to her offices on assurances that a consulate office will not be used to foster illegal immigration and help illegal aliens “gain illicit ‘legal’ standing in Idaho by taking advantage of the good offices of a consulate in Idaho.”

“The people of Idaho are generous and compassionate, but they do not wish to have the good offices of a foreign consulate exploited by persons in our state illegally,” wrote Sali.

“Considering the seriousness of the issues reprinted above, I ask that the Department of State delay any approval of a Mexican consulate in Idaho until we may be assured that a consulate would not foster the continued presence of illegal aliens in Idaho. Additionally, I ask for your personal response to this matter.”

Grant’s statement

Filed under: Larry Grant, Walt Minnick — Randy Stapilus @ 7:14 pm

Comments on April 10 by Larry Grant, delivered as he withdrew from the race for the 1st District U.S House seat now held by Republican Bill Sali. He endorsed fellow Democrat Walt Minnick.

“I’m standing here with Cecil Andrus and Walt Minnick. We have stood shoulder to shoulder on many Democratic campaigns. We will stand together on many more, including, most importantly, this one.

“My campaign has never been about my personal ambition. I have spent the last three years on the campaign trail doing my very best to build the Idaho Democratic Party from the ground up. I’m proud of what I and my campaign team have achieved.

“There isn’t ten cents worth of difference between my view of the world and Walt Minnick’s. That’s why we need to be working together to beat Bill Sali, not spending valuable time and resources in a contentious primary.

“For that reason, I am withdrawing from the race this morning.

“Bill Sali is one of the most ineffective and embarrassing Congressmen we have ever had. Governor Andrus and I will be leaving here today with one objective in mind, to claim this seat for a responsible and respected voice for the people of Idaho, Walt Minnick.”

Media protocol

Filed under: Butch Otter, Idaho news media, Mark Warbis — Randy Stapilus @ 6:49 pm

Text of a memo from the office of the governor to state agency executives. It was first publicly released on the blog operated by Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Subject: Media Contact Protocol

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to thank those of you who have consistently and in a timely manner kept the Governor’s office informed of ALL media inquiries––as we all discussed from the beginning of Governor Otter’s administration. I particularly want to cite the work of DEQ, Health and Welfare, Correction, Lottery and Finance. The Governor, Chief of Staff and I appreciate it.

Unfortunately, a number of you either are not getting word from your PIOs or field people when your agency receives media inquiries, or your PIO is not following through with those reports to me. This has resulted in a number of instances of the Governor’s office finding out about agency representatives’ interactions with the news media from the newspaper clips. In some cases those media reports actually have involved what amounts to public disagreements between state agencies over a point of policy. That is entirely unacceptable, and something we must address. As you know, the Governor puts a premium on all state agencies cooperating and working as a team to serve the people. Public disputes on points of policy are inconsistent with that goal. Our media policy is designed to prevent those, but it requires your full compliance.

This does not have to be an overly time-consuming or cumbersome process. I am not looking for a treatise on each media contact, but we DO need the reports to be complete and timely.

Regarding press releases: As you know, if a release involves anything more than routine, SOP information—if it goes to a policy change or anything that might be controversial at all—then it needs to be sent to me for review BEFORE it is released to the media. We are not looking to usurp the role of agency directors in any way, but only to ensure a level of consistency and uniformity in our public and media messaging.

If you have any questions about these protocols, please contact me. Thanks for your help.

Mark Warbis
Communications Director
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

Hansen back to the Democrats

Filed under: Idaho Democratic Party, Jim Hansen, Uncategorized — Randy Stapilus @ 6:42 pm

If resume and background brought to the table has much to do with it, Jim Hansen could be just about the ideal choice for an Idaho Democratic Party executive director, which is what he became as of April 15. Of course, past isn’t always prologue. But take a moment here and consider the background, hold it in mind, and then return after two or three years; what emerges may tell quite a story.
The point is that Hansen has almost the perfect background for this particular job—you could hardly invent what looks at least on paper like a closer match.

He comes from a large and prominent family with deep Idaho roots, and married into another one. The extended family is bipartisan; Hansen’s father is a former Republican U.S. representative (Orval Hansen, 1969-75). Professionally, Hansen has been lawyer with substantial connections into that community. He has been a state representative, showing the skills needed to win office as a Democrat (winning it in the presidential election year of 1988, ousting not just a Republican but the popular Republican House majority leader). He also has run, albeit unsuccessfully, for major office: the U.S. House, second district, in 2006. So he’s experienced Idaho’s political realities and potentials both.

Maybe more relevant than any of that is his work as an organizer, in two directions. First, his own election to the House was preceded by his work as campaign manager for another Democrat who the cycle before won election to the state Senate; Hansen has significant background as a campaign manager.

The other direction is in issues organizing. In the early 90s Hansen quit his job as a lawyer and went to work pulling together a collection of left-of-center organizations, all of them then small and largely voiceless, with the idea that they might gain strength if they worked together. You can argue that the organization, United Vision for Idaho, has been running into the political brick wall of Idaho Republican conservatism ever since, from the standpoint of policy objective achieved.

But it’s also true that Hansen built the organization from scratch, that it has grown, prospered, and developed substantial visibility and has become something of a Statehouse player. Hansen is the central reason it exists—it wouldn’t have without him—and a demonstration of genuine grassroots organizing ability.

About the only base not touched so far is deep involvement in the state Democratic party structure, which probably is also an asset: He’s not had to deal with the petty wars that periodically fester there. But he’s doubtless quite familiar with the party’s internal workings; he certainly knows all the players. And he brings a personality that comes across as energetic but doesn’t seem to foster conflict. (UVI would have blown up long ago if that weren’t the case.)

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