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Archives - August 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Finding the balance for water needs

Water issues in Oregon are complex, divisive and serious. The demands on water supply are growing, endangered fish are struggling and Oregon is behind most Western states in planning for future water needs.

According to this month’s Input survey, conducted by research partner Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, the 755 respondents clearly see the importance of protecting both fish and wildlife, while at the same time recognizing agriculture needs. But asked to rank the priority, the majority goes slightly to fish and wildlife.

An effort by Eastern Oregon irrigators to extract more water from the Columbia River during critical summer fish months died in the Legislature this session (RELATED STORY), but the debate brought forward many long-simmering tensions. Much was made by supporters of the bill (irrigators, business and farm groups) of how Washington has moved forward with plans to use more water from the Columbia and that Oregon is falling behind economically. Opponents (water officials, fish conservationists, tribes) saw it as a direct assault on salmon recovery and current water agreements. The debate is likely to continue into the next legislative session and beyond.

Outside of the realm of lobbyists and politicians, it’s interesting to note this: 74% of the Input respondents live in either the Portland Metro area or the Willamette Valley, yet 44% favors increasing water for Eastern Oregon irrigation. This suggests that despite the urban-rural divide, some urbanites understand the farmers’ point of view.
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To participate in the Input survey, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Research conducted by Conkling Fiskum & McCormick.

 

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

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