Thursday, August 24, 2006


It's been a week or so since I've posted, and have a few unconnected topics to comment upon.

1) Mary Starrett. Her apology to Kelly Clark was backhanded at best. In the text of her apology she basically called him a sexist and accused him of being part of a "mob." Kelly, always gracious, unconditionally accepted her apology. But that doesn't change the fact that she used it to take another swipe at him.

2) Murray Hill Little League at the World Series. I am a big fan of youth baseball. My son went through the Lake Oswego Little League, then the Junior Baseball of Oregon program, and now plays at LO High. Murray Hill0 is L.O.'s arch-rival in the District 4 All-Star tournament.

Most every year, it seems, the 15 or 16 team District 4 tournament comes down to a Murray Hill vs. Lake Oswego final. Most every year Murray Hill wins, and then goes on to win the state tournament, which qualifies them for the regional tournament in San Bernadino.

This year for the first time Murray Hill won the regional to get to the World Series.

Hard as it is to root for your arch-rival, I hope they win the whole thing. They have played great, won by coming back with their backs against the wall - much like the OSU Beavers did in the college world series.

Wouldn't it be something to have both the college and Little League world series champs be right here from Oregon?

Oregon - the new baseball capital of the world!

3) I think it is important to understand the depth of the hatred our terrorist enemies hold for America. The Muslim religious extremists who want death to America are not a fringe group in the middle east. It is more and more a mainstream attitude, fed by their popular culture and their societal institutions such as the schools.

Take a look at this video which shows Nazi-like youth indoctrination camps and tens of thousands of Hezbollah followers chanting "death to America." Then look at this video in which two beautiful, poised and articulate Palestinian 12 year olds explain to a questioner why they love the idea of "Shahada."

This is a clash of civilizations. We have to understand that this isn't just a few radical extemist muslim terrorists who are pissed off at America because we support Israel. Rather, we are at war with a culture that views us as evil and wants to eradicate us. That is a much tougher - and longer - war to win.

4) Judge's decision on the NSA wiretapping. Read Dave Reinhard's column about it in the Oregonian today. The fact that the judge would "forget" to mention a FISA court opinion that spoke directly to this kind of surveillance says it all.

5) School stuff: Clackamas Superintendent Ron Naso is going to get an additional $25,000 "stipend" because he has taken up the slack for the duties of the assistant superintendent who left last year. Apparently he didn't ask for the money, but the district board gave it to him anyway. Kudos to Board member Lee Remmick, who was the only no vote.

This is just outrageous. Naso is near retirement, and that little $25K bump in his salary is going to show up forever in his PERS benefits calculation. Taxpayers get screwed again.

Kudos to Sherwood School District, which has decided to increase its own academic achievement targets because the state's assessments are too easy, especially at the elementary levels. They are discarding the state's "meets standard/exceeds standard" measure because they know the level of test score the state deems sufficient to meet standard is way too low. So they say they want at least 95% of their kids to be at or above the 55th percentile in test score.

This is a REAL learning goal, and one that cannot be faked by low "passing" scores. Good for them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bravo Dwight Jaynes

If you haven't already seen it, you HAVE to go read Dwight Jaynes' column in the Tribune today.

I was going to quote it here and develop some of his points, but really, it wouldn't add a thing.

Just go read it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Great example of anti-growth attitude

Today's lead editorial in the Oregonian gives us a primo example of an attitude common among a good deal of Oregon's socio-cultural "leaders:" an almost hysterical opposition to wealth creation and economic productivity.

The Oregonian editors think they found the poster child they were seeking that would get us to agree with them that Measure 37 would have all sorts of bad consequences. Their example: a guy who owns 157 acres near Bend, inside of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. He wants to mine some of the pumice on his acreage, build 100 homes and a geothermal power plant. His claim is for $203 million, or just let him develop the land.

The editorial's tone presumes that readers will think this is an outrageous consequence of Measure 37, apparently because his land lies within this national monument, or because of the size of the claim. But I read it and thought: "Wow, $200 million in wealth created because of Measure 37!"

The Oregonian says Measure 37 is a "terrible law" that is simply "triggering a high-stakes development bonanza."

In the Oregonians' universe, a development bonanza is a bad thing. People who want to use natural resources to create wealth are to be viewed with suspicion, as if they are doing something immoral.

The editorial even explains that the landowner's purchase predated when the area was identified as a "monument," and that this fact is what allows him to argue that his rights to develop the property should trump the environmental restrictions that were placed on it.

Well, duh! This is precisely what Measure 37 was intended to do! Apparently the Oregonian thinks it is A-OK for the public to just screw a landowner if it wants to protect "the public's interest in preserving the uniqueness" of his property. Sorry, buddy, your 157 acres are now worthless to you because we really really like looking at your property, and if you develop it, we won't get to enjoy it as much.

The Oregonian frets that "Measure 37 has strengthened his hand, multiplied his price, intensified pressure on the county -- and made it less likely that the public's interest will be served."

"The public's interest." When liberals say these words, you know somebody is gunna get screwed. The issue here is the age old divide in world view that is at core the difference between liberals and conservatives: individual rights vs. collective rights.

For liberals, the collective always trumps the individual. If the collective (the public interest) wants your property, it gets to take it. The assumption is that this "public interest" is some kind of organic, knowable element. In truth, it is simply an expression of political power by whoever currently prevails in the current day political institutions.

For the Oregonian, in this case, the "public interest" is that the Newberry Volcanic Monument be untouched. If that means this landowner is in effect forced to donate his land for this purpose, so be it. It doesn't strike them as unfair that individuals have to pay for something that supposedly benefits the "public."

In fact, it strikes them as horribly unfair that the public should be required to pay for things that are in the "public interest," which is what Measure 37 does. In their world view, this "pays people to obey the community's rules."

In other words, there should be no restraint on the "rules" the "public" (read: the land use planners inside any municipality) can apply to your property. Whatever rules they layer on, you just have to obey. If the rule requires a 200 foot setback from a ditch that means you can't build on your property, tough luck. If the rule is an environmental overlay that prevents you from adding on to your house, tough luck.

The "public" should not be forced to pay for the private cost of the rules. That is unfair to the public.

In the collectivist mind, individuals have no property rights.

Ask a liberal this question: What is more important - property rights or free speech rights?

I guarantee you he will answer "free speech." Interesting.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

They say the Oregon rain will get you down

If you are a native Oregonian and my age (46) or older, then you probably remember the song "Oregon" that became a national hit in the mid 1970's.

You will probably also vaguely remember the story behind that song: it was about the longing for home of a young Coos Bay woman who was sentenced to a life term in Turkey for possession of hashish.

The song burned itself into my memory when I was in high school, partly because of its very rhythmic and plaintive tone, and partly because of the compelling story behind it.

The other day for some reason the tune popped into my mind. It was amazing how much of it I could still remember: every word of the very catchy chorus and a good bit of the verses. I got curious: whatever happened to the young Oregon woman?

Was she still rotting in a Turkish prison?

The wonders of Google - I did a search on one phrase from the song that I remembered: "They say the Oregon rain will get you down ..." and immediately found what I was looking for. One of the musicians who wrote and produced the song, a fellow named Bill Coleman who now lives in
Woodburn, has a section of his website devoted to the song and the story.

Turns out the woman, Jo Ann McDaniels, returned to the U.S. in 1980 in a prisoner exchange with Turkey, and was then almost immediately parolled by the U.S., getting her freedom after six years in prison. Just prior to coming back to the states she married Bob Hubbard, who was imprisoned along with her. Coleman saw her in 1980 when she came to thank him.

On his website, Coleman talks about how they wrote and produced the song, never expecting that it would turn into a nationwide hit. Profits from the song they contributed to Jo Ann McDaniel.

I wondered: where is she now? I did some more googling, but could find basically nothing since her return in 1980.

I contacted Mr. Coleman and asked. I got this e-mail in reply:


I can't tell you how many emails I've received with almost exactly the same statement ... how the song kept roaming around an individual's mind until they decided to "google" it to find out about poor JoAnn.

Yeah, her where abouts is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. She paid me a visit at my home in 1980 shortly after our initial meeting at the Hindquarter restaurant in Salem. She and Bob Hubbard spoke about maybe settling in Southern Oregon ... purchasing a mobile home with the $10K they received from a publisher as an advance on a book they were to write about their experiences.

I saw nothing of the book, nor did I ever hear from JoAnn again.Frankly, it would not surpise me at all if they returned to Turkey, or somewhere in the middle east.

Their homecoming to America, after spending nine years in a Turkish prison, was fraught with an extreme case of future shock and they didn't seem to be adjusting well to the "America" that had developed since their arrest. You understand, they had never seen an ATM machine; a compact disk; had no clue how to operate a computer; never seen email; never spoke on a cell phone; had no clue of John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever; and missed out on a literally hundreds of other conveniences that we daily take for granted.

In that relatively short span of time the baby boomer generation had all gone from irresponsible "hippies" to family oriented "thirty somethings" ..... all, except for JoAnn and Bob. They still dressed and spoke like "hippies" ... it was as if they has stepped out of a time capsule .... like lost children playing grown up, they wandered through that day with little or nothing in common with the America they had returned to.

They were, in all honesty, like ghosts from the past, and they felt very uncomfortable in this future world. During her visit, she couldn't say enough about how much she loved the middle east and, we discussed at length the very real possibility of their returning to Turkey permanently. Perhaps they did ... it would not surprise me in the least.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Perhaps you'll find her one day, and can ask her yourself. When you do, tell her I miss her too.

Sincerely;Bill Coleman
Blackhawk County

PS: Thanks for remembering "Oregon" ... pass it along to your friends.

What an interesting story. Go to the web site and dowload the song - Mr. Coleman encourages it. If you grew up here, I guarantee you that listening to the song will bring memories of the 1970's flooding back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

News Flash! Oregon's tests are too easy!

For about a decade I have been shouting in the wilderness about the fact that Oregon's statewide tests are being manipulated to show test score growth that isn't really there.

I've written about it in my BrainstormNW column, on this blog, and in the Oregonian. I've commissioned a statistical study done by an OSU economist that showed the elementary math test score increases are phony. I've authored and personally lobbied legislative solutions to the problem. I've spoken about it my radio show time and again. I ran a statewide campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction with the assessment system as a central issue. I've met with assessment experts all over the nation to discuss it, including Oregon's own assessment "experts."

Every single thing I have done has been opposed by the Oregon Department of Education bureaucrats, and basically ignored by the Oregonian.

Throughout this time, as I repeatedly predicted, Oregon's tests have time and again been proven to be unworkable. They have had to throw out entire years worth of tests because of validity problems. They have been threatened by the federal government because their reliability was not up to snuff.

I've pointed out that the big gains in Oregon's test scores at the elementary level are not validated by Oregon scores on other tests. I've pointed out that despite the rhetoric of Oregon's so-called 21st Century School Act, Oregon SAT test results have lagged the gains of other states.

I've pointed out that it makes no sense at all to allow Oregon bureaucrats to design the tests that measure the effectiveness of the school reform efforts that they are in charge of implementing.

It has fallen on deaf ears.

Today we learn in the Oregonian that the state has set the bar very low for children to "meet standard" at the elementary level, which is why it appears that our elementary schools do very well while our middle schools do poorly. Fifteen years after our genius bureaucrats started cooking up these tests, they finally admit that maybe the roughly 50 percentage point gain in students meeting standard might be caused by lowering the bar.

And now they are going to appoint a panel to review Oregon's test? What a crock of bull.

We don't need another "fact-finding" committee. We need a fact facing committee.

And we need the Oregonian to at long last report this long term story honestly. They have been complicit in the coverup for years. The fact is, the Oregon Department of Education has wasted billions of dollars to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Oregon, and the Oregonian sat idly by and gave them a pass.

There is no excuse. The only question is will they allow it to continue?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What the governor race is really about

Saxton vs. Kulongoski is a proxy race.

In Larry Huss's latest column he quotes Governor Kulongoski from a speech he gave on July 25 to AFL-CIO, which is dominated by the public employee unions. Kulongoski said: ". . . I've never lost sight of who I represent, and that's you."

There you have it. From the horse's mouth.

The real race is for who will control the state government, and determine in important ways the economic future of the state.

Will the public employee unions be in charge? Or will the private sector set the agenda. Does Oregon want to grow and be a part of the global economy, or does it want to pretend that it can have its own sandbox and just play with toys like light rail, sustainability and smart growth?

That is the big picture. Everything else is just details. Please keep your eye on the ball.

Sure, issues are important, and for most of us certain issues are paramount. No movement conservative wants the Republican candidate to take a powder on his or her pet issue. We all care about things like parental notification, spending limits, gun rights, illegal immigration, school choice, fiscal restraint, low taxes and the host of other hot button issues.

But at the end of the day, this race is about Oregon. Do we want to grow, or not? Do we want to be a part of the economy, create wealth, and have a robust private sector? Or do we want choo-choo trains, trams, bureacrats and unions calling the shots?

I'm sad to say that this is a tossup in Oregon.

I grew up in this great state. I left for ten years to find my fortune in Chicago. When I moved back with my fortune (Their names are Mary, Jessica and Jeffrey) I was stunned at what had happened to Portland and Oregon.

Our political and social institutions were taken over by people with decidedly different values from the Oregon values I grew up with. They took control of the government, grew planning bureaucracies, took property freedoms, handed the budgets over to the unions, and ruined what was a terrific transportation system.

Has this state had enough? Are we going to grow, or die? That is the choice. Every organic organism either grows or dies.

Clark County has chosen. Bend has chosen. Seattle has chosen. They all want to be competitive, and they choose their public policies carefully because they know capital has quick feet.

Portland has made the opposite choice: it doesn't want to compete. It wants eco-roofs and trams. But does Portland speak for the state?

If so, Kulongoski will win, and the unions will control the schools and the government and planning will reign supreme.

If not, Saxton will win, and we have a chance to get the economic train back on the tracks.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ron Saxton and Measure 48

Ron Saxton came out against Measure 48, the state spending limit measure that would establish a rainy day fund in Oregon.

I support this measure, because even if Ron Saxton wins, Oregon won't always have a governor who will be as much as a fiscal hawk as Ron will be. That said, I completely understand why Ron would come out against this measure.

Ron basically said that it is the governor who should be the spending limit, and I agree. Unfortunately, we've now had 24 years of Democrat governors who simply will not exercise any restraint on spending. We've also had enough experience with a Republican legislature to know that they have no penchant to do anything but spend every dime that comes in and support tax increases for yet more spending.

So I like the idea of a hard cap on spending. I simply don't trust the system to do anything but spend it all and then some.

But should Ron Saxton support Measure 48? No. He has his own campaign to run, his own issues to run on. He's been putting this campaign in place for two years, and he cannot allow it to be connected to ANY ballot initiative.

His opposition to M48 does not signal a softening of Ron's position on fiscal restraint. The statement he issued that explained his position was anything but soft on spending. He just knows it is not at all politically smart to allow a very controversial ballot measure to define his candidacy, and I fully support Ron's decision on this question.

Now, to the Oregonian. Their lead editorial today lauded Ron for his position, but it was really dishonest in how it described the measure in question. They repeatedly called it the "TABOR," which is the name of the Colorado spending limit.

Obviously they want to do anything they can to attach M48 to the Colorado spending cap because it fell out of favor and was suspended, but in doing so they are being dishonest about the very substantial differences between M48 and Colorado's TABOR.

First, Colorado's measure applied not just to state spending but to city, county and school budgets as well. Measure 48 is just for state spending. Second, Colorado's measure does not allow a rainy day fund to be created - while M48 would absolutely result in just ahat.

Finally, Colorado's measure prevented tax collections in excess of the spending limit. Measure 48 does not affect tax collections at all - the same amount of money would be collected, but funds in excess of the spending limit (set at the sum of population and inflation) would accumulate in a rainy day fund (unless you want to pretend that the legislature would send it back to the taxpayers - ha!)

Once the fund is established, when revenues are not high enough to fund the popuflation increase, the fund fills in the rest. Further, if and when the legislature wants to use some of the fund for some specific purpose, say, to build a westside bypass, they can pass out a referral to the voters to do so. This puts the people in charge of important spending decisions.

This coming biennium, if M48 passes, the growth in the state all funds budget would be reduced by about $2 billion from the roughly $45 billion it expects to take in in 2007-09. Hardly draconian, especially since this still represents a healthy growth of more than 8%.

I understand why the Oregonian and all the spending lobby hates Measure 48. But it really irritates me when they are so openly dishonest in their portrayal of the measure, to the extent of even giving it a name that the measure's sponsors oppose.