The Lege gavels to follow

Carla Axtman

I fully intended to post today a whole slew of photos from yesterday's festivities at the Capital in Salem. However, my best laid plans were shot to hell because I took too many frames and haven't had time to properly edit the collection. With some luck, I might get them up here tonight.

I've been to Salem during session a few times, but this was my first opening day. Just about every Oregon politico I know was there--and a whole bunch more that I don't know. Lots of suits, ties and flashy heeled shoes (except for me--I showed up in jeans and a sweater, natch. And Alex Aronson of the Bus Project... but I'll go into that in a moment).

First of all, allow me to indulge in a gripe about the parking situation around the Capital. It sucks. A lot. They're still using really crappy coin operated parking meters, many of which only allow for 2 hours. If you've gotta be there for a whole day, you either have to go inside the building and buy a pass for your car (but don't forget to feed the meter long enough to get you back and forth) or you have to keep schlepping out to dump coins into the thing so you don't get a parking ticket from one of the hovering meter police. Can we really not bring our seat of state government into the current century? /gripe

Things got underway on the House side--with the election of Speaker Dave Hunt. Hunt's speech was actually pretty good. But what I found interesting was the quick and unanimous approval of the House Rules. As I understand it those were hammered out last week in negotiations between the D's: Hunt, Roblan, Nolan and the R's: Hanna, Maurer and Cameron. The minority party seemed pretty chill with the whole thing--no dissent at all.

There was also a strong contingent of Oregon press there. Several TV cameras, a number of print media (I recognized Harry Esteve of the Oregonian, Peter Wong of the Statesman Journal, Brad Cain of the AP and Dave Steves of the Register-Guard). The press gallery was pretty full but I managed to get a good spot for photos. No flash allowed, tho. Unfortunately that made my efforts at photography a little shaky.

I made my way over to the Senate side briefly to watch their swearing-in. Much quieter over there than in the House. Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) started things off--and after some pomp and circumstance recognized Senator Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), who nominated Peter Courtney as Senate President. Say what you will about Courtney--but the guy knows how to give good speech.

The highlight of the day's events was back in the House chamber, where lots of black robed justices and other statewide electeds were escorted into the arena, with varying amounts of flair. Former Guvs Atiyeh and Roberts sashayed in with escorts as well. The whole thing reminded me of when I've watched the State Of The Union address..only on a much smaller scale.

Guv Kulongoski entered last and made his way to the podium area. Loved the red tie, incidentally. Kari has already posted on the Guv's speech, so I'll refrain except to say that it was well-written--and the delivery was solid. Ted even managed to get fired up a few times--which I enjoyed.

After all the speechifying was completed and the chamber emptied out, I headed downstairs to the foyer to watch the meet and greets. If you're a networker in Oregon politics, this had to be your version of Nirvana. Business cards were flying around like crazy. Lots of handshakes and introductions and embraces.

I did manage to make my way up to the remodeled offices on both the Senate and the House side. The remodel is professional and not especially extravagant. For those who frequented the offices prior to the remodel, you know what an unsightly and ugly mess that place was. The furniture looked like Laugh-In had upchucked its leftovers. The carpeting was cheap and reminded one of astro-turf (or Orange Julius, depending on the set of offices). The various offices weren't especially private, either. Now they've got some actual walls and clean furniture. The carpet is much better quality and looks like it belongs in a professional office setting. Its finally an appropriate place to conduct the work of the people.

A couple of random thoughts: The Oregon House is YOUNG. Really young. Its amazing to think that such accomplished people could be so short on years. Several members have babies and/or about to become parents. I have a great shot of Rep. Chip Shields and his family that I'll post later. Lots of kids in the chamber yesterday.

It cracked me up to watch the newbies in the House sit down at their desk--opening up all the drawers and shuffling the papers, while the more established members walked around greeting their counterparts. Lots of awestruck faces, too.

Finally, props to Alex Aronson of the Bus Project for his fantastical gold lame' costume invoking gold pioneer guy who resides atop the Capital building. The pictures of Alex are...amazing. Hopefully they'll be up tonight.

  • SCB (unverified)

    Parking meters. Used to be not only did you have to feed the meter every two hours, but if you didn't move your car, you'd get a tickey anyway for being at the same meter more than 2 hours. Hope that has changed.

  • LT (unverified)

    SCB---there are 2 and 3 hour meters where that applies.

    But there are lots of 10 hour meters (quarters only) where that does not apply.

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    Pet peeve--the city is the "capital." The building is the Capitol.

  • billy (unverified)

    Carla, why are you wasting energy and emitting CO2 by driving when you can take transit to Salem?

    Its fast too - only takes about twice as long as driving.

    Thanks JK

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    You're right, TJ. Homophones are an achilles heel of mine. Sorry.

  • Dil Mirch (unverified)

    BTW, is it the security that will be so pricey at the inaugural?

    <h2>Maybe after "Change" he should have added, "and I don't mean small".</h2>

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