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Tim Hibbits: Measure 92 going to a recount

November 20, 2014 - 11:34am

According to pollster Tim Hibbits, the Measure 92 campaign is headed for a recount. Hibbits had previously declared -- on the day after election day -- that it had failed. From KPTV:

After analyzing the final election returns released by 15 counties on Wednesday, Hibbitts noticed a trend that had a higher percentage of "yes" votes than previous returns.

This also comes as the Yes on 92 campaign has been reaching out to 13,000 voters whose ballots had signature problems and weren't counted.

The Secretary of State's office released the names of contested ballots for the first time this year and Hibbitts said that could be playing a role in making the margin even closer.

“The only thing I'm certain about right now is there will be a recount,” said Hibbitts. “The margin of error is 3,000. I'm completely comfortable it's going to be way inside of that; we are going to go to a recount.”

This latest development does not include more than 13,000 ballots still being counted in Multnomah, Lane and Deschutes counties.

Wow. It still seems to me that the gap is too large -- but if Hibbits is right, we could be in for a long slog ahead.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Portland City Council: Do your job. Don't punt.

November 19, 2014 - 10:27am

Portlanders are beginning to beseiged with the message that we “have” to vote on the street fee being proposed by Hales and Novick. My response: Sez who?

People forget that in the U.S., we govern by "representative democracy". We elect representatives to act on our behalf in government. We do not govern by direct rule. Direct rule by the people is unfeasible in so many different ways, from the vast range of issues involved to the size of our polities (i.e., too many people) to the fact that few citizens have the knowledge needed to make good policy decisions.

Yet time after time, when those we elect go through a deliberative process, one that at times includes being shamed for their initial decisions; when they work with the public, interest groups, etc; when they spend countless hours studying an issue in all its messy detail; and then they come up with a plan that the entire government body agrees on (or a majority does) — our elected representatives do that painstaking work we don’t want to do and then we turn around decide to turn the final decision over to the most uninformed, ill-disciplined, unqualified body of people possible. The voters.

That is not democracy. That is stupidity.

No matter how outraged they are about “raising our taxes”, the voters won’t become informed on the complex range of issues involved in devising this fee. They will watch a few tv news segments that probably lack any substance (and may contain false info). They will throw away all the expensive propaganda that is mailed to them. They’ll get angry at all the online "garbage", unfriend people on Facebook over it, and, otherwise waste their time not becoming informed.

When ballots are mailed, over half the voters will ignore them. Of the minority that does vote, a plurality will make up their mind based on their “gut” or their hatred of taxes or the belief that there’s already plenty of money and it’s just being wasted or you can’t trust politicians. The majority of votes cast will be little more than capricious guesses. The result?

Shitty public policy that may or may not reflect the public will. And will not fix a single pot hole but will continue to cost taxpayers more, now and in the future, as damage to vehicles continue and costs are kicked down the road to future taxpayers.

So, Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz: Suck it up and do the job you were elected to do. If you do not have faith in your ability to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of the people of Portland, resign and let someone fill the seat who does. Maybe a group of Outraged Citizens will be able to refer the new fee to the voters; or maybe the people of Portland will surprise you and decide to trust your informed judgment.

If enough petitions are gathered to refer this to the ballot, that’s a stain on the voters themselves who put you in office and then believe that in their vast ignorance they can do a better job with almost none of the resources you used in doing your job, the people’s business. But don’t you dare run and hide from your obligation to serve the people by copping out on this. I’m no fan of Charlie Hales, but at least he’s got the guts to move this forward and try to get it right. He and Steve Novick, of whom I am a fan, took their lumps on Street Fee 1 and have now presented a much better version that has, from what I understand, the full Council’s support.

(The Portland Business Alliance opposes it, so that must mean it’s on the right track.)

Now have the guts, and the integrity, to stand behind your colleagues and your own judgment. If a small group of voters want to foul up the system by circulating petitions, let them. Do your job. Vote for the fee, or vote against it, but don’t punt.

We didn’t elect you so you could pass your responsibilities back to us.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Punditology 2014: Which political nerd reigned supreme?

November 18, 2014 - 10:45am

At long last, it is time to report on the results of the 2014 Punditology Challenge.

It's two weeks after election day, but we had late calls on a number of US House seats -- not to mention the delayed election results out of Alaska, and our own race in SD-15. (Congrats to Chuck Riley!) Thanks for your patience.

First, a note about our conventional wisdom.

As usual, as a group - all 201 of us - were mostly right, except when we were wildly wrong.

This year, we were right on 25 out of 27 races here in Oregon. But we were terrible on the national scene, getting just 8 out of 18 right.

Overall, our consensus picks -- had a single individual made them -- would have placed in the top 20. As usual, as a group, we're smarter than most of us are individually.

  • As a group, we picked every single Oregon ballot measure correctly. We picked every single Oregon House race correctly. We picked every single Oregon Senate race right, except Chuck Riley defeating Bruce Starr. The only other race we got wrong was for Clackamas County Clerk. (GAHHHH! Sherry Hall survived!)

  • And while we got Kitzhaber (win by <10%) and Merkley (win by 10-20%) right, of course, we had no idea that Jeff Merkley's win would be a 17-county victory. Just 9% said it would be 14 or more, and our median pick was 10 counties. For Kitzhaber, our median call was 8 counties, and he got 7.

  • In the US Senate races, we were sure of victories by Kay Hagan and Greg Orman, and we fairly evenly split, but called it in favor of Mark Udall and for a run-off in Georgia. The wipeout got us.

  • We were even worse on Governor's races, getting it wrong in Alaska, Florida, Georgeia, Illinois, Kansas, and Maine.

  • A bit of good news (that's really bad news) is that we correctly called the historic GOP majority in the House, with a 37% plurality pegging it at 240-245 (it's now at 244, with three still in play.)

Go back and review our conventional wisdom here.

Now, on to the real question you care about: Who won? Which political nerd reigns supreme?

Top marks, with 40 of 51 correct, go to Jake Oken-Berg and Nathan Rietmann. Jake ran for Mayor of Portland in 2000 and now serves as an aide to Senator Merkley. Nathan is an attorney in Salem, who once represented Bill Sizemore. Tiebreaker goes to Jake - who pegged Aelea Christofferson's vote total at 60,000. (It was actually 72,186.)

Congratulations, Jake! We bow down to your crystal ball!

Runner-up honors, with 39 of 51 correct, goes to Richard Gray -- a contracts manager at the City of Portland.

Our third tier of punditologists, four people with 38 of 51 correct, includes Metro's Ken Ray, attorney (and self-described "recovering politico") Joel Shapiro, Rep. Brent Barton, and lobbyist Meredith Shield. Big credit goes to Ken Ray, who damn near nailed the tiebreaker -- calling it a nice, round 72,000 votes.

And there were nine in our fourth tier, each with 37 right: John McGovern, Jamal Raad, Jared Mason-Gere, Jon Bartholomew, Jesse Cornett, Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, Josh Goldberg, Julie Fahey, and Logan Gilles.

Jon Bartholomew stands out as having beat everyone on the state level -- with 28 of 31 right; and Barbara Smith Warner (a former Wyden aide) beat everyone on the federal level -- with 15 of 20 right.

The median number picked correctly? 31 out of 51. (Me? I got 28 right. Yeah, I'm an optimist.)

Honorable mentions go to James Sunshine and Teddy Keizer. They called the Christofferson vote total at 72173 and 72123 - just 13 and 63 votes off the current count.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We'll do it again in two years!

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

No, really, Monica Wehby wants to run Obamacare in Oregon. Really!

November 18, 2014 - 6:48am

Hilarious? Sad? Some of both, I guess.

It seems that Dr. Monica Wehby -- who ran as a single-issue anti-ObamaCare candidate -- called Gov. John Kitzhaber and offered herself up as a candidate to run the Oregon Health Authority.

From the O:

A day after losing her bid for U.S. Senate, Monica Wehby picked up the phone and reached Gov. John Kitzhaber on his cell. ... According to multiple sources, she asked about a job opening: director of the Oregon Health Authority.

Here's Rachel Maddow's take (fast-forward to 2:25). It's kind of awesome.

And here's another important reaction that seems spot-on:

Jeff Heatherington, president of FamilyCare Health Plans, chuckled when he heard about Wehby's interest.

Heatherington, whose company contracts with the state to provide managed care to low-income families on the Oregon Health Plan, said the Health Authority needs a strong administrator to clean it up, then manage it with a great deal of political know-how.

"About $16 billion runs through the Oregon Health Authority," he added. "You don't put a novice in there."

You can't make this stuff up.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Measure 92 - November 18th Deadline for Contested Ballots

November 16, 2014 - 1:58pm

From Rick North of the Yes on 92 Campaign:


Click (and share this link) to find out if you or someone you know has a contested ballot that can be corrected and counted. Voters who forgot to sign their envelope or whose signature doesn't match must go to their county office by Nov. 18th.

Measure 92 is still alive, and if the trends continue, it’s going to start kicking soon. Check out the number of votes we’ve been behind and the dates:

November 11: Down 6,634 November 12: Down 6,371 November 13: Down 5,182 November 14: Down 4,539

There are about 20,000 votes statewide either “challenged” or just not counted yet. Again, I won’t sugar-coat this. We still only have a slim chance of pulling ahead, but with each passing day, our odds keep getting better. And the possibility of triggering a recount, which is at around 2,900 votes or less, is very real.

The deadline for submitting challenged ballots is next Tuesday, Nov. 18. On that night, county elections officials will send their final vote totals to the state. The Secretary of State is expected to release the statewide totals then or Nov. 19.

That’s not a typo – we’re only down 4,539 votes. This is out of 1,486,373 votes cast, a razor-thin difference of 50.15% to 49.85%.

Four days left, and I don’t have a clue how this will turn out. What I do know is that the volunteers, donors and staff of Measure 92 are doing everything in their power to make this happen."

To keep up to date on this issue, please visit the Oregon Right to Know campaign website @ http://oregonrighttoknow.org/challenge-ballots/

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

National Democrats look to Merkley's win for lessons

November 14, 2014 - 11:20am

In the aftermath of the big wipeout last Tuesday, Democrats are doing the ol' "soul-searching" and "post-mortem" thing. It's the long-running battle between the corporate-oriented moderates and the progressive populists.

Nevermind that it was mostly a function of being in the sixth year of a presidency, which always means defending the Senate seats that were won in a change election -- on top of which, it was a home game for Republicans. (If the 2012 election were held only in the 2014 Senate race states, Mitt Romney would be President.)

Nonetheless, as Democrats back in DC are trying to figure out the lessons learned, some are pointing to Senator Jeff Merkley's success as a model for how a progressive and populist campaign can actually connect with voters. From the NY Times:

There were a handful of bright spots in an otherwise dismal year for Democrats, and progressives are holding up as models the success of three Senate candidates who ran as populists: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Senator-elect Gary Peters of Michigan.

Mr. Merkley won by 19 percentage points with a campaign centered on the loss of well-paying jobs, the spiraling cost of college tuition and his opposition to trade deals that he said send jobs overseas. While Democrats nationally were losing whites without a college degree by 30 percentage points, Mr. Merkley narrowly carried that bloc of voters.

“We didn’t lose them here in Oregon because we talked about what they care about,” Mr. Merkley said.

What do you think? Is Oregon an anomaly? Or should the rest of the country learn a lesson from what happened here?

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Oregon now one of just four states where you can get stoned at a gay wedding

November 8, 2014 - 9:00am

Well, 2014 was an eventful year for Oregonians. The voters legalized recreational marijuana. And a court legalized same-sex marriage, right before the voters were going to do it themselves.

We may be the least church-going state in the union, but it seems we're all about the biblical mandate in Leviticus 20:13:

If a man lays with another man he should be stoned...

Vox.com did the research and reveals that on Election Day, Oregon (and Alaska) joined a very select club -- those states where you can attend a legal same-sex wedding and consume recreational marijuana at the same time.

At this time, Ohio allows neither, even though their state capitol is just two blocks from the intersection of High and Gay. Go figure.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

On Pollution, the Difference Between Cost and Price

November 7, 2014 - 9:55am

The Oregonian's editorial board continues its bumbling assault on Oregon's effort to fight pollution, this time through a misleading equating of cost and price.

Today's editorial attacks the effort to make Oregon's fuels cleaner, arguing it will raise costs of "everything else people do with their cars."

While the assertion that prices (what the O calls costs) will go up is questionable, the statement misses the basic difference between something's price and its cost. Roughly, the price is the amount of money exchanged for a good. The cost is what it takes to produce a particular product or service - a calculation that needs to include externalized costs, costs imposed on those outside of the transaction.

The clean fuels standard would mean some costs that have been externalized become internalized. That is, the polluter, who previously imposed costs on others by polluting, pays for his or her pollution (or avoids that cost through polluting less). If one believes in the power of market signals, it's the sort of effort that needs to be applauded. While The Oregonian argues the clean fuels standard would subsidize some, in fact we're currently subsidizing polluters.

The editorial further tries to quantify what having clean fuels will cost Oregonians, while ignoring how global warming, if unchecked, will deeply harm our economy and personal well-being, as well as resulting in millions of deaths across the globe. And it continues its absurd Zeno's Paradox argument, as if global warming, a problem created by millions of decisions and policies, can only be addressed with a single, planet-sized silver bullet, instead of many policies and jurisdictions doing their parts.

This all comes on the heels of the starkest warning yet by the world's scientists on the urgency of addressing global warming. From The New York Times:

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report found.

In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.

The earth's atmosphere will change, oblivious to The Oregonian editorial board's sloppy claptrap and amateur economics. As we know, Mother Nature bats last - and doesn't give a hoot about what anyone says about such things. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said,

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message,” Mr. Ban said. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Let My City Go!

November 6, 2014 - 11:16pm

The election story in Oregon is about the Democratic gains in the state legislature, which ensure a solid majority and eliminates the Betsy Johnson “I’m against everything” roadblock to progressive legislation. Already, I’m intrigued by what I hear from the rumor mill regarding carbon taxes, background checks, and especially a potential repeal of the current state preemption on inclusionary zoning, which allows cities and counties to require a percentage of new construction to consist of affordable housing. In Portland, this is a much needed tool for protecting precarious workers and the poor from what so far has been a tsunami of rising rents and shiny, new expensive housing as a consequence of the current development boom.

While inclusionary zoning is extremely important in Portland’s quest to create a just and equitable city, the residents would also benefit immensely from the repeal of two other state preemptions: (1) minimum wage, and (2) rent control.

Though the Oregon Democratic Party’s platform fails to mention raising the minimum wage, Democratic politicians, such as Brad Avakian, have hinted that a minimum wage of $12 could be on the way. Regardless of what happens at the state level, Portland needs to be able to raise the minimum wage right now (preferably to a nearer-to-living-wage of $15/hr) to help working families offset the enormous increases in the cost of housing and basic goods and services. Already, the $15/hr frame is winning in Portland, with Multnomah County agreeing to pay its employees at least $15/hr and seasonal parks workers and Home Forward employees successfully negotiating an above $15/hr minimum wage. In addition, numerous members of city council (who I’m sure weren’t just posturing because they thought the preemption would prevent the possibility of acting on the sentiment) have claimed publicly that the minimum wage must be raised in Portland. The stage is set and we just need the legislature to allow us to govern ourselves.

Rent control is also an important tool in a city that currently does little more than nothing to protect renters. In Portland, development policy is completely aimed at satisfying developers (including large and corrupt realty companies) and financiers. At present, the best the working class can hope for is that supply and demand dynamics will lead to lower prices (which is a highly dubious assumption for reasons I won’t get into at present). Even the affordable housing programs in Portland are woefully inadequate and exclude large swaths of the working poor who are being priced out of the city. In Seattle, socialist Jess Spear was able to move newly re-elected Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp to support the removal of Washington’s rent control preemption. Oregon Dems should follow his example and lift this state’s preemption on rent control.

If we want to be the most equitable city in the nation, we can’t just attempt to make Portland barely affordable for the lucky ones. We have to go above and beyond what is currently the political common sense and do everything we can to improve the lives of residents. Right now, that means controlling costs, ensuring affordable housing, and mandating a living wage. In three simple steps, the Oregon legislature can get us closer to that reality.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

This too will pass

November 6, 2014 - 10:41am

By Naseem Rakha of Silverton, Oregon. Naseem is a former political reporter for public radio, her stories often heard on OPB and NPR. She is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Crying Tree. Learn more at NaseemRakha.com.

It was election night. Early results were coming in from Rhode Island, South Carolina, New York. I woke up my dog and we went to the pond and sat, watching a storm roll in and listening to redwing blackbirds shout out warning. It was warm out. Too warm for early November. My memories of previous election nights are mainly of cold rain and wind slapping me hard while running from one political party to another trying to get in interviews and record speeches for a story for public radio.

Democrats typically would gather at some unadorned union hotel, often the Hilton, where there'd be dip with chips, veggies, squares of cheese, and a free bar with cheap wine and beer. Republicans would be blocks away, nestled in some Grand Barron of a place, dim lights, arched ceilings, filigreed pillars, and, of course, a cash bar with the hard stuff. At the parties, I would poke at balloons and phone in updates, while speaking with politicians and their supporters. When the results finally came in, I would tape the oh-so-predictable platitudes, while watching red, white, and blue clad people spout red, white, and blue clad tears.

Now, no longer a reporter, I just stay home and give half an ear to NPR while they talk exit polls, approval ratings, and the death of the Democratic party. This too will pass, I tell myself. This Republican wave. This handing over power to a group of bullies who seem to have far more ideas on how to take down a country than build it up.

This too will pass.

But it's hard, even for this former geologist—who still takes comfort in human's miniscule imprint on geologic time—to accept. We have given the reigns of Congress over to people, many of whom who do not believe in the science of global warming or evolution, people who wait eagerly to sell off our natural resources, who believe corporations are as human as the people they supposedly represent. These are politicians who work to make it harder to vote, not easier, harder to get a college degree, harder to drink clean water, or get health care, or earn a living wage. People who measure the character of a person by their commitment to guns and god, not intellect, nor compassion nor logic. These are individuals who serve the rich, and eschew the poor; and eat three square meals of fear every day, then fart it out all over the country on radio, on TV, in magazines, over the internet. They tell us it is not disparity of wealth we should crusade against, but immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics, the homeless, the disabled, single moms, Planned Parenthood and young black boys. Don't fear fracking, fear hoodies, fear Ebola, fear taxes, fear liberals, fear liberation. Don't vote Democratic—it is too close to the word demon.

It was during Iowa Senator-elect, Jodi Ernst's acceptance speech that I finally gave up my half hearted election night vigil, and went to bed. My, this too will pass, mantra falling flat against her shrill words. "We are heading to Washington and we are going to make them squeal." The words lifted straight from the 1972 Academy Award winning film, DELIVERANCE, where deep in the hills of Georgia, toothless attackers force Bobby Tippie, played by Ned Beatty, to "squeal like a pig" while being raped. Of course, I am sure Jodi Ernst, who grew up castrating pigs and presumably making them squeal in the process, would say she was not referring to that movie at all. Not that that would make her statement any more acceptable.

This too will pass, I tell myself. This woman. This partisan bullying. This unhealthy way we have of treating elections like gladiator games where the goal is to make the other team squeal, rather than reach out and cooperate to help the people in the stands, millions of us, waiting there, shouting out, hoping we will be heard.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

A bloodbath. But not in Oregon!

November 5, 2014 - 10:09am

Oregon once again proved that things look different here.

Senator Jeff Merkley's resounding victory was huge, but was by no means a certainty. In the years to come, some will chalk up his victory as a "gimme" -- but it was hardly that. Everyone on Team Merkley -- including hundreds and hundreds of volunteers -- worked very, very hard to make it look that easy. Amazingly, his margin of victory was larger than that of Cory Booker, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Tom Udall -- and none of them faced millions in attack ads from the Koch Brothers.

Our entire congressional delegation was easily re-elected, including Rep. Peter DeFazio who faced a $675,000 superpac onslaught in the last week of his race.

As Senate President Peter Courtney said last night, Oregonians chose the Democrats to govern again in Salem. They returned John Kitzhaber for an historic fourth term -- and by a bigger margin than 2010. Our Senate majority is now up to at least 17, with Senator-elect Sara Gelser on her way. (The SD-15 race between Bruce Starr and Chuck Riley is still too close to call, though Starr is leading narrowly.) Our House majority is up one seat to 35 -- with the addition of Rep.-elect Paul Evans.

The big shocker of the night in Oregon was the failure of Treasurer Ted Wheeler's campaign for Measure 86 -- the endowment for student aid. It was seen as such a sure thing that I didn't even bother to put it in the Punditology Challenge. It lost badly, 58% to 41%. I expect the post-mortem will be about that phrase "incur debt" in the ballot title.

As was widely expected, Measure 87 (judges) passed, Measure 88 (driver cards) failed, and Measure 89 (equal rights) passed.

The top-two primary, Measure 90, wasn't even close -- with 68% of voters rejecting it. The story that will reverberate for months to come is the legalization of marijuana -- as Oregonians voted 56 to 44 to be the third state to make the leap.

And finally, while the Oregonian has called the race for the No on 92 side, with just a 17,000 margin, I'm not so sure. Stay tuned on the GMO labeling measure.

What's your reaction? What else are you paying attention to?

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Election Day: Discuss!

November 4, 2014 - 3:08pm

It's election day, and the polls have already started to close (in the eastern half of Kentucky, where the polls close at 6 p.m. eastern.)

Use this thread to discuss rumors, complaints, and actual results as they roll in -- both across the country and right here at home.

Here's a map of poll closing times across the country, courtesy of Daily Kos:

So, what are you paying attention to?


Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Election Night Parties!

November 4, 2014 - 2:21pm

It's election day! And that means that tonight, it's time to celebrate with the winners and console the losers -- and make plans for whatever comes next.

Here's a list of all the public parties we could find. It's definitely not comprehensive, so feel free to add more parties in the comments. The more the merrier! (But please don't post private parties at candidates' homes without their permission.)

  • The main Democratic Party of Oregon party is at the Portland Hilton, 921 SW Sixth Avenue. There, you'll find Jeff Merkley, John Kitzhaber, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Yes on 88, and No on 90.

  • Peter DeFazio and local Lane County candidates will be at Cozmic Pizza, 199 W 8th Avenue, Eugene.

  • The Yes on 89 campaign will be at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland.

  • The Yes on 91 campaign will be at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, Portland.

  • The Yes on 92 campaign will be at Leftbank Annex, 101 N Weidler St., Portland.

  • The Yes on 90 campaign will be at Sentinel Hotel, Renaissance Room, 614 SW 11th, Portland.

Good luck to all those that have been working hard for tonight's victories!

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Punditology 2014: Our collective, conventional wisdom

November 4, 2014 - 6:54am

Phew, Election Day is finally here. And, as promised, here's the conventional wisdom from 201 people who think they're smart enough to call 'em all in 2014. Our participants include journalists, lobbyists, campaign hacks, political consultants, elected officials, and a whole lot of political junkies and activists.

An important caveat: In years past, we've learned that the Punditology conventional wisdom is usually right -- but when we're wrong, we are spectacularly wrong. It is certainly possible for everyone to be surprised. (And if your favorite campaign is on the wrong side of the C.W., get to work today, and prove us all wrong!)

Also, note that these percentages say nothing about the expected vote totals. If 100% of us think that a candidate is going to win 51% to 49%, the number you'll see here will be 100%.

To the predictions!

First, our in-state federal races and the gubernatorial race:

There is a strong consensus about the Governor's race. 98% picked Kitzhaber to win, though 76% said he'd win by less than 10 points. 19% of us think he'll 6 or fewer counties; 24% say it's 7, 28% say it's 8, 15% say it's 9, and 14% picked 10 or more. The median pick is 8 counties.

There is also absolute unanimity about the Senate race. That's right: 100% of punditologists say Merkley wins. 16% say he'll win by 20 points or more; 81% says it's more than 10 but less than 20 points. 19% of us say Merkley will win 8 counties; 10% say it's 9, 23% say it's 10, 10% say it's 11, and 27% say it's 12 or more. The median pick is 10 counties.

And yeah, 100% of us say DeFazio will win -- 85% calling it a win of more than 10 points. 100% of us say Schrader will win -- 57% calling it better than 10 points.

Second, the federal races outside of Oregon:

  • Alaska: 60% picked Dan Sullivan (R)
  • Colorado: 53% picked Mark Udall (D)
  • Georgia: 43% picked David Perdue (R) leads, runoff election (11% call it outright)
  • Iowa: 71% picked Joni Ernst (R)
  • Kansas: 66% picked Greg Orman (I)
  • Kentucky: 80% picked Mitch McConnell (R)
  • Louisiana: 48% picked Mary Landrieu (D) leads, runoff election (15% call it outright)
  • New Hampshire: 88% picked Jeanne Shaheen (D)
  • North Carolina: 77% picked Kay Hagan (D)

41% of us think the GOP will end up with 49 or fewer Senate seats, while 44% think it's 51 or more -- and 14% are pegging it at 50. In fact, the median pick was exactly 50 seats. (Oh, wouldn't that be fun.)

But our picks don't quite match up to that. If our collective wisdom is right, that's just two GOP pickups among these races -- but a loss in Kansas. And if we also toss in Arkansas, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana -- all above Nate Silver's 95% confidence level -- that, folks, would be just 49 seats for the Republicans (assuming Orman caucuses with the Democrats, or no one at all.)

As for the U.S. House, just 20% of us think the GOP will hold steady or lose seats. 35% think the pickup is five or fewer seats. 37% think it's six to twelve seats. And 6% think it's thirteen or more.

Third, the gubernatorial races around the country:

  • Alaska: 51% picked Sean Parnell (R)
  • Colorado: 84% picked John Hickenlooper (D)
  • Connecticut: 81% picked Dannel Malloy (D)
  • Florida: 79% picked Charlie Crist (D)
  • Georgia: 43% picked Nathan Deal (R) leads, runoff election (30% call it outright)
  • Illinois: 89% picked Pat Quinn (D)
  • Kansas: 63% picked Paul Davis (D)
  • Maine: 70% picked Mike Michaud (D)
  • Wisconsin: 65% picked Scott Walker (R)

If our picks are right, then we're calling a bunch of big Democratic wins in the statehouses. If that comes to pass, it's surely a bit of a curiosity, as compared to the Senate races. (Why? Well, it's obvious when you realize it -- we're dealing with the 2010 Tea Party class of Governors, but the 2008 Obama class of Senators.)

Fourth, the Ballot Measures:

  • 85% predict that Measure 88 (driver cards) will fail
  • 94% predict that Measure 89 (equal rights) will pass
  • 78% predict that Measure 90 (top-two primary) will fail
  • 77% predict that Measure 91 (marijuana) will pass
  • 71% predict that Measure 92 (GMO labeling) will fail

Fifth, the Oregon Senate* races:

  • SD-3: 87% picked Alan Bates (D)
  • SD-8: 87% picked Sara Gelser (D)
  • SD-11: 98% picked Peter Courtney (D)
  • SD-13: 79% picked Kim Thatcher(R)
  • SD-15: 67% picked Bruce Starr (R)
  • SD-20: 67% picked Alan Olsen (R)
  • SD-26: 82% picked Chuck Thomsen (R)

And that jives with our median pick of 17 Democratic seats in the Senate. 7% project 15 or fewer seats; 24% project 16 seats; 48% project 17 seats, and 20% project 18 or more.

Sixth, the Oregon House races.

  • HD-20: 68% picked Paul Evans (D)
  • HD-25: 67% picked Bill Post (R)
  • HD-29: 69% picked Susan McLain (D)
  • HD-30: 88% picked Joe Gallegos (D)
  • HD-40: 85% picked Brent Barton (D)
  • HD-51: 92% picked Shemia Fagan (D)
  • HD-54: 78% picked Knute Buehler (R)

Barring any shockers, those picks suggest a one-seat Democratic pickup (due to Paul Evans) and a 35-seat majority. But oddly, our median projection is 34 seats -- which suggests that most of us have at least one pick that's running against the consensus.

4% are projecting a Democratic loss of the majority. 7% think we're back to 31-29. 19% think it's a two-seat loss and a 32-seat majority. 19% think it's a one-seat loss and a 33-seat majority. 27% say we sit tight at 34 seats. 16% say it's a one-seat pickup to 35 seats. And 7% think the Democrats lands a 36-seat supermajority.

Finally, the local races:

  • 54% of us think David Robinson is going to finally end the reign of error of Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall.
  • 94% of us are projecting a win for the Portland Parks bond.
  • 80% of us are projecting a win for the Metro density measure.
  • 91% of us are projecting a win for the PPS levy.

Oh, and the tiebreaker:

  • The median number of votes for Aelea Christofferson in the 2nd congressional district is 72,123 votes -- with 23% of us projecting her total between 70,000 and 80,000 votes (though 16% projected her total as less than 5000 votes, go figure.)

And now, we wait. And work.

Good luck, everyone!

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Punditology 2014: Which political nerd will reign supreme?

November 1, 2014 - 10:37pm

You're smart. You're political. When people whisper, "that's what THEY say," you're the one they're talking about.

With just a few days left in this election, it's time for the 2014 edition of the Punditology Challenge

Will John Kitzhaber and Jeff Merkley win big? What about marijuana, GMO labeling, and the top-two primary? Will the Democrats lose the Senate? Could Mitch McConnell and Scott Walker lose? And oh yeah, is this the year that Clackamas County finally ousts their incompetent and corrupt county clerk?

Correctly predict the the election results and we'll make you famous. There's no money in it, but if your crystal ball is the finest of them all - we'll bow down before your greatness and proclaim it to the world. (But don't worry. Unless you're among the top punditologists, we won't tell anyone you participated. Got a broken crystal ball? Your secret is safe with us.)

The deadline for your picks is Monday at 5 p.m. So make your picks now, before it's too late!

Good luck!

Fill out my online form. var m2swgkx1t0lbjy;(function(d, t) { var s = d.createElement(t), options = { 'userName':'takeaction', 'formHash':'m2swgkx1t0lbjy', 'autoResize':true, 'height':'1568', 'async':true, 'host':'wufoo.com', 'header':'show', 'ssl':true}; s.src = ('https:' == d.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'www.wufoo.com/scripts/embed/form.js'; s.onload = s.onreadystatechange = function() { var rs = this.readyState; if (rs) if (rs != 'complete') if (rs != 'loaded') return; try { m2swgkx1t0lbjy = new WufooForm();m2swgkx1t0lbjy.initialize(options);m2swgkx1t0lbjy.display(); } catch (e) {}}; var scr = d.getElementsByTagName(t)[0], par = scr.parentNode; par.insertBefore(s, scr); })(document, 'script');

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

OR-SEN: Koch Brothers commit new $200k ad buy against Merkley

October 31, 2014 - 10:06am

Even as Monica Wehby circles the drain, the Koch Brothers can't resist one more parting shot before they slither away, via their American Future Fund. AFF is bankrolled by the Koch boys.

The two have dropped $200k on a new anti-Merkley ad, because apparently they can't think of anything nice to say about Monica Wehby. Not that I can blame them for that.

It's the same old recycled crap they've been dealing out all over the country.

You can help Jeff out by throwing some non-Koch money his way.

In other news, apparently the AFF is not well-funded enough to actually fill out the copy on their "About" page, unless AFF is actually a dessert menu.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Nearly All Poor Latino Families in Oregon are...

October 30, 2014 - 10:39am

Working poor.

Nine out of 10 poor Oregon Latino families with children had at least one parent in the family who worked in the previous 12 months. By comparison, the figure was seven out of 10 for the state’s poor non-Hispanic white families with children.

It’s tough being poor despite work, and it’s worse if you cannot drive. It’s one of the reasons why Measure 88 is important to many working families.

See two-page fact sheet Nearly All Poor Latino Families in Oregon Are Poor Despite Work

Chuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Why Monsanto and pals are working so hard to defeat Measure 92

October 30, 2014 - 10:18am

By Eecole Copen of Portland, Oregon. Eecole is a registered dietitian and an advocate for sustainable food systems. Last week, she received the 2014 Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Excellence Award at the national conference for dietitians in Atlanta, Georgia.

Let's talk about labeling GMOs. We need to look at the bigger picture. Some are saying that measure 92 may not be written effectively and that it may increase the cost of food, hitting poor families particularly hard. People are afraid of the repercussions.

Let’s take a look at the effectiveness of this bill first.

Whether or not Measure 92 is the perfectly written law, it is a great first step. If it weren’t going to be effective on some level, Monsanto and their industrial allies would not be spending over $14 million in attempts to make it fail. They could be putting that $14 million into labeling, if their priorities were something other than bottom line financial profiting. No, they are more concerned that GMOs continue to progress without any barriers. And this is critical for them, because they need the next few years to take GMOs to the point of no return.

Just this last year, Syngenta (Swiss company who makes GMO seeds) was found to be strategically checkerboard planting their genetically modified sugar beet seeds in Southern Oregon. Whatever their reason, the inevitable result was that all of the surrounding family farmers who grew non-GMO or organic seed would find some portion of their seeds crossed-pollinated with Syngenta’s GMO seed. According to Raymon Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, these seeds have been known to contaminate fields 11 miles away.

What are the repercussions of this? Family farms would no longer be able to sell to the Organic or foreign export market. This puts farmers out of business. This takes our opportunity to buy organic away. This is sneaky and strategic. This was a secret... until some farmers figured it out. Then they banned GMO seeds from being planted in their county.

This is intentional. GMO makers need to get their seeds dispersed far and wide, so they can claim patent rights and ultimately, claim our food rights. We think it’s scary to have our water privatized? Think if all of our food is privatized. It won’t take long. GMO canola can cross with Brassicas... think broccoli, chard, kale, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. And until we decide that corporations are no longer people, their patent interests will continue to take over our food system. This is one hell of a greedy & hungry big brother.

And cross contamination is just one scary road eerily travelled. Let’s talk about microbes, pesticides and gene transfer.

Right now, the 2 major genetic modifications approved by the FDA are “Round-up Ready” crops, which confer resistance to the well known herbicide, Roundup (glyphosate), to corn, alfalfa, soy, canola and sugar beets, and the Bt gene which enables corn, sweet corn and potato plants themselves, to manufacture an internal pesticide that kills unwanted pests. Round-Up ready crops depend on all surrounding weeds to fall victim to Round-Up. However, studies tracking the use of glyphosate show that the “annual increase in the herbicides required to deal with tougher-to-control weeds on cropland planted to GE cultivars has grown from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011.” And as of Sept 17th, the USDA “plowed ahead with a highly controversial decision to deregulate new seed varieties of “Agent Orange” corn and soybeans, so-called for its ability to withstand the weed killer 2,4-D, a major component in the infamous dioxin-laden defoliant used in Vietnam. The USDA environmental impact study predicted that approval of the crops would lead to a 200 to 600 percent increase in the use of 2,4-D nationally by 2020, but deferred to the EPA for analysis of the effects of the increase. The idea is that these seeds will have both genes to now resist two herbicides, since they see the ultimate failure of Round-Up ready alone. When does it stop? How much herbicide can our soils, our water system and ultimately our bodies handle? There is no lack of evidence around the links between herbicides and cancer, reduced fertility, fetal abnormalities, etc., and there is an unfolding story on the horizon…

Bear with me through this logic…

We’ve all heard that gut bacteria play a role in our digestion. And now we are finding that gut bacteria have many other jobs like harvesting energy, producing vitamins, metabolizing drugs & modulating the immune system (Cerf-Bensussan and Gaboriau-Routhiau, Nat Rev Immunol, 2010). And studies show that they likely play a role in our body’s response to all sorts of issues, including hunger signaling, chronic inflammation, auto-immune diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and much more (read Dr. Gerard E Mullin, “The Inside Tract”). There are even services now available to get your gut flora analyzed for $100.

We are finding that certain bacteria predominate with certain diseases. Could it be that the kinds of bacteria fostered by our bodies determine our health? What we know is that diversity of gut flora increases resilience for our immune system. And where do these bacteria come from?? Our food. Both literally attached to the food we eat, the dirt on our fingers, & the soil our food is grown in. These are called probiotics. Plus, food acts as food not just for us, but for the bacteria in our guts, called pre-biotics. The kinds of foods we eat will determine the kinds of bacteria that will proliferate.

Now consider that the average farm is 441 acres and is usually planted with very few crops at a time, essentially creating large swaths of land that are mono-cropped. In 2012, 88 percent of corn (maize) and 94 percent of soy grown in the United States were genetically modified, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The big farms are filled with mostly GMO crops.

As mentioned, these crops are requiring increasingly heavy doses of herbicides in these fields, decimating bacterial diversity, and thus decreasing the resilience of the soil’s immune system. As crops become more susceptible to disease, more chemicals are needed to keep the pests out, and the plants growing. Does this situation sound familiar? The health of our bodies is reflected in the health of our soils. And literally, when we kill all the diversity in microbial organisms in the soil, we diminish the diversity of bacteria available to our own guts to help us resist disease. The more GMOs planted, the more herbicides & pesticides needed to deal with super weeds and resistant bugs, the less diversity in our soil bacteria, the less diversity in our gut bacteria, the more risk both humans and plants have for disease.

There’s one more super scary element. The Bt gene that helps the plant manufacture its own pesticide originally comes from bacteria in the soil. Genes are exchanged all of the time in the bacterial world. According to Dr. Robert Kremer, Ph.D., microbiologist formerly with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Adjunct Professor of Soil Microbiology at the University of Missouri, gene transfer is totally possible from plant to other organisms. So, the feasibility exists that our own gut bacteria could pick up the pesticide making genes, making our guts into pesticide factories.

Is the research final on all this? Not yet, but it’s coming. And the longer we wait for absolute conclusions, the more time we give to industry to weave their GMO seeds into our food system in this country. Europe has already banned GMOs and labeling happens in 64 countries around the world. We are one of the only 1st world countries available to enable this industry’s success. They need us. And they will do anything to keep the barriers from forming.

Finally, the last point is about whether poor families are going to spend hundreds of dollars per year in extra food costs. Industry is malleable. They have an incredible amount of flexibility to please the consumer. In 2014, General Mills’ net profit was 1.82 billion. If they see the consumer interest shift away from their products, you better believe they will find a way to attract their customers back. They don’t want to lose business. And they won’t inflate their prices and risk that loss. And, if 64 countries have already labeled GMOs, and the poor didn’t go hungry there, what makes us think it will be any different here?

We can’t afford to give industry any more time to spread their seeds via a technology that is diminishing our capacity for health on so many levels. This has to be stopped as soon as possible. We have an amazing opportunity to put up one of America’s first major barriers to their progress.

Carpe Diem. Let’s seize this day on November 4th and exert the power of our vote to stop this harmful progress. Yes on Measure 92.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

The fatal flaw in Measure 90, and the election that proves it

October 30, 2014 - 7:00am

Over at the O, Jeff Mapes writes about "five elections that could have been different" under Measure 90. But mostly, he talks about general elections that wouldn't have included third-party candidates. But the bigger change under the open primary measure would be in... primaries.

And you don't have to look very far. In fact, just back to the last time we had an open seat in Mahonia Hall.

In 2010, Chris Dudley came darn close to beating John Kitzhaber in the general election. It was a margin of just over 22,000 votes out of 1.4 million cast -- or 49.3% to 47.8%.

But if Measure 90 had been in place, it's entirely possible that Dudley wouldn't have even been on that ballot. Consider the primary election results:

td.votes {padding: 5px; font-size: 11px;} DJohn Kitzhaber242,54534.6% RChris Dudley122,85517.5% DBill Bradbury110,29815.7% RAllen Alley99,75314.2% RJohn Lim47,3396.8% RBill Sizemore23,5223.4% DRoger Obrist16,0572.3% RW. Ames Curtright12,4971.8% DWrite-ins5,5040.8% RRex O. Watkins3,0600.4% RWrite-ins2,0010.3% RClark Colvin1,2060.2% RDarren Karr1,1270.2% RBob Forthan7270.1%

In 2010, if just 12,558 Republican primary voters had swung their vote from Chris Dudley to any other Republican, the top two would have been John Kitzhaber and Bill Bradbury.

Or, for that matter, if just 12,558 more Democratic primary voters had decided to vote for Bradbury instead of Kitzhaber, that would have been enough for an all-Democrats general election.

That's a shift of just 1.8% of the total primary electorate.

Of course, it's entirely plausible that under Measure 90, the field and the campaign would look completely different. Maybe a wealthy independent would have jumped in. Maybe a moderate Republican with actual political skills (not Allen Alley, please) could have assembled a coalition of voters across the parties. (And, of course, the electorate would have included all those third party candidates and nonaffiliated voters, which -- yes -- would have an effect.)

But the most likely change -- in fact, an almost certain change -- is that the two major parties would have pressured the candidates (probably through their major donors) to ensure that only one well-known Democrat and one well-known Republican would have run at all.

That's the big flaw in Measure 90. It's supposed to give more voters access to the decision-making process that takes place in the primary election. But it won't. The primary elections will become general election dress rehearsals -- with the same limited set of candidates.

And the "primary election" will take place behind closed doors and will be decided by money, not votes.

How exactly does that open up our democracy?

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

I'm all about that Face, bout that Face, No Twitter!

October 29, 2014 - 2:37pm

Q. What do you have that Monsanto doesn't have?

A. Facebook friends

That's right, you have the ability to be the best Get Out the Vote effort this world has ever seen, and it will just take you a minute.

Visit DidTheyVote.org

In under a minute, all of the friends you have on Facebook in Oregon (whose ballots have not yet been received by the elections office) will appear with the opportunity for you to send them a friendly, custom tailor-made message encouraging them to vote. And, my version has an extra kicker - encouraging them to encourage their friends via using the site.

For example:

Dear Wilma,

Have you voted yet? If not, I think the most important vote on the ballot is for our health - and that's a YES vote on Measure 92 to require labeling of GMOs in our food. I hope you will vote YES on 92 and then also take a moment and encourage your friends via DidTheyVote.org to do the same.

Thank you,

Your friend, Albert

Feel free to cut and paste this message into your own message to friends. Another example:

Hi there Fred,

If you haven't voted yet, please take a moment to vote yes on Measure 91 which will legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon. I hope you will vote YES on 91 and then also take a moment and encourage your friends via DidTheyVote.org to do the same.

Your friend, Albert

We have a short window of opportunity to make a huge, historical change in Oregon and the Country. We cannot outspend Monsanto, PepsiCo, Syngenta and the other multinational "food" companies. We suddenly have a very useful tool that can be used to counter their money on Measure 92. Let's use it!

PS: I have noticed that the results provided of who in your life hasn't voted yet, changes from day to day. Try returning to DidTheyVote.org more than once and see if someone new pops up.

Have stamps handy.

Know where the ballot drop-off stations are.

Last moment to get ballots to a drop box - 8 p.m on Election Day, November 4th

Now, get out there and let's get those ballots in!

P.S. A few friends and I put together ballot endorsements here

P.S.S. - Feel free to share a link to this article, widely!

P.S.S.S. Here's A short video about Did They Vote?

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs