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Hot Air Society

June 2, 2016

The scene for Oregon’s November general election just got clearer with the primary results. Although I haven’t seen detailed demographics, one statewide fact sticks out: Democrats turned out; Republicans didn’t. According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, Dems turned out more than 66 percent of their party members, while R’s turned out less than 58 percent. Doesn’t sound like much of a margin until you consider that statewide the D’s turned out more than 230,000 more voters than the R’s. 

May 19, 2016

OK, you won’t read this until after the Oregon primary results are in, and I’m submitting these notes on the Monday before the election. As I’ve mentioned before, turnout in Oregon’s primary will be another opportunity to read the tea leaves in this sci-fi political year as we move toward November.  

May 12, 2016

I see all 19 loyal readers of this senile soliloquy heeded my request last column to quickly register to vote in the May 17 Oregon primary. In fact, between new motor voters and locals who switched parties to vote in closed primaries, the R-G reported that 12,000 Lane County residents received two ballots in the mail! 

April 21, 2016

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork. — Edward Abbey

I confess I may have too much time on my hands as a geezer/retiree. These days, instead of plowing through unemployment cases as I did in my last 12 years with the state appeals board, I’ve gone back to enjoying some of my favorite desert rat ecologists. 

March 31, 2016

Wolf update: Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 4040 into law on March 15. Opponents of the original de-listing (and this bill) believed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) previously broke the law when it removed state endangered species protections from gray wolves; so they sued. They contend de-listing was premature and not supported by independent scientific review: bad science, bad bill. That case against de-listing is currently before the Oregon Court of Appeals (COA).

March 24, 2016

OK, enough about Oregon’s February legislative session. Nothing happened except the minimum wage increased and Oregon banned coal as an energy source. Democrats bragged about those issues and about fixing Portland’s affordable housing crisis. In their press releases, Republicans described February as “the most destructive month in Oregon legislative history,” and predictably bragged about their obstruction and attacked the “one-party” Democrats. Whatever. I’m still pissed that the Democrats used a Trojan Horse bill to make Canis lupus a sacrificial lamb. Bad biology, governor.

March 10, 2016

Warning: This column contains graphic depictions of political sausage-making and may cause an involuntary gag reflex.

March 3, 2016

Just when you thought our Oregon Legislature couldn’t get any more dysfunctional than it was — it did. Senate Republicans took a page from the old Democrat playbook and refused to meet last Wednesday, denying the Senate a quorum. The immediate feedback even from Republicans was that their minority leader Ted Ferrioli’s latest move to obstruct the process backfired from a public relations standpoint, making his caucus look clownish and incompetent. Worse than our Republican U.S. Congress even — a sad comparison.

February 18, 2016

Just when you thought that the only strange birdwatching this time of year occurred at the Malheur Refuge — two strange red and blue flocks were spotted last week at the state Capitol. 

February 11, 2016

When I returned from my last visit to Malheur in early January, my friend Gail Hoelzle told me about another Cottage Grover named Jessica Campbell, who was over in Burns during the occupation, working as a community organizer for Oregon’s Rural Organizing Project (ROP). Gail’s description of what this young woman has been through was compelling. What follows derives from two interviews I did with Jessica Campbell.

January 28, 2016

My, how the world of Oregon politics has changed in two years. Twenty-two months ago The Oregonian reported that John Kitzhaber, then preparing to run for an unprecedented fourth term in November 2014, held a press conference to announce a “grand bargain.” In a series of backroom meetings, Dr. John had persuaded rival union and business groups sponsoring several competing proposals to back off from going to the November ballot two years ago.

January 21, 2016

The Pacific Patriot Network (PPN) issued a press release Jan. 10 regarding a “Proposal for Resolution of the Peaceful Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.” This is the armed convoy that disrupted the press conference I attended Jan. 9 while out in Burns checking out the Malheur occupation. 

January 7, 2016

Welcome back, students, to the cold wet winter of your discontent, otherwise known as the dark term before spring break 2016. It’s time to shake the shards of sugarplum fairies out of your sensory-savoring limbic systems and pay attention to politics. The Oregon Legislature returns to Salem in less than a month. Beware! 

December 3, 2015

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. Hopeful, bloviated thankfulness is in the air. As a Democrat, for example, I am incredibly grateful to the Republican Presidential Debate Club for designing that cute circular firing squad format. This nation of immigrants welcomes their wholehearted endorsement of Latino displacement and Syrian xenophobia. The math is so simple: We deport 11,000 illegal immigrants and we refuse entry to 2,000 immigrants fleeing genocide — 13,000 reasons to demonstrate America’s continued commitment to human rights. 

September 17, 2015

Hope everyone’s had a great summer. Since our state Legislature left Salem in July, I’ve been mostly readin’ and snoozin’ and tending to my garden. 

July 16, 2015

The Oregon Legislature fizzled to a halt as expected. Now the real fun starts. You think paid sick leave for workers and carbon emission standards will not exact a price at the ballot box in 2016? The lack of compromise and the partisan fights over a transportation package and the minimum wage now spill over into the next initiative season, and it’s going to be an expensive ride. 

July 9, 2015

I submitted this column at 9 am Monday, July 6. I just got off the phone with Val Hoyle, who has not been recalled … yet. As of 9 am the Oregon Legislature has the capability, but not the will, to be done. 

The last major roadblock was the bonding measure that passed on Friday, July 3. The Republicans threatened to skip work that weekend because, after all, they don’t really have to adjourn until July 11, and to work on the 4th of July would be unpatriotic. Republican legislators still get paid you see, not to work, but to work on the 4th of July is unpatriotic

July 2, 2015

The tension in Salem at the end of any legislative session is attractive if you’re an unrelenting sociopath who loves pain and heartbreak. With the preceding five months of plodding public process behind them, partisan legislators will finally cast their votes in stone in early July. The game will only finish when the budgets are decided. It’s one of the things I miss most about being out of the Legislature for the past 12 years. I loved counting votes.

June 25, 2015

I’m a little nervous here, a little distracted. But don’t worry, I’ll cover the slug-like inactivity of the Oregon Legislature in a moment. 

Frankly, a bigger issue looms at the moment. We may be headed for a global theological/scientific Mongolian clusterfluck — not to be confused with climate change or global warming or the Sixth Great Extinction. This is much seriouser! I can see the donnybrook coming.

June 18, 2015

June is a tough month for Oregon legislators for a variety of reasons. There’s pressure to get out of the building by the 4th of July. Since it is a citizen Legislature, many of the members are missing work, and employers want their employees back. And, five months into session, members have listened to their colleagues’ positions and those of the other three caucuses ad infinitem and ad nauseum.

June 11, 2015

This first week of retirement has been pretty uneventful so far … except for my new top-secret assignment from Gov. Kate Brown. But more about that later. 

May 28, 2015

No, unfortunately for you, dear readers, it’s not “Last Writes.” Yes, sports fans, the geezer moment has come. If you open your May 28 EW and read this after 5 pm, I will officially be free at last! 

May 21, 2015

I’m worried about the future of one of our local newspapers. Granted we all have our obsessions and addictions, some healthy, some not. My parents, tough Catholic conservatives that they were, forced me to read our local newspaper early on. As I’ve told my young nieces and nephews: Third grade was the hardest four years of my life! Anyway, for the last 50 years, because of my parents’ unrelenting insistence on literacy, I resorted to newspapers — a total junkie.

May 14, 2015

During the last six regular sessions of the Oregon Legislature, I have had the honor and privilege of serving with Marla Rae and Jon Chandler — two of the most profanely funny bipartisan lobbyists in the business — as a judge in the Golden Gobbler Awards honoring the worst bills introduced each session. This party has been around forever, hosted by Pamela Jones, Mark Nelson and his lobby firm, Public Affairs Counsel, at their beautiful home on the Willamette. Mark invites legislators, staff and lobbyists, and the price of admission is a sense of humor and a bill that should not be.