Insider Baseball : The Best We Can Do?: A pox on both our houses.
Viewpoint : Voice of Dissent: Barbara Lee' gutsy stand honored.
Letters: EW readers sound off.
The Best We Can Do?
A pox on both our houses.
My column this week is the ultimate "insider baseball": my floor speech in the Senate Aug. 15 on the "school funding shift."
Mr. president and colleagues: I ask you today to sustain the governor's vetoes. But, in actuality, I'm raising the white flag. You Republicans have won, I doubt I can convince you to put aside your hatred of Dr. No, your relentless attacks on the governor. But my remarks and criticisms are for both parties.
With all due respect to my friend, the good senator from Ashland, the governor has been consistent throughout: Pay as you go, no one-time fixes.
As an aside, I would be surprised if we have enough votes to actually override these vetoes. After all, most of you Republicans actually voted against your own Republican leadership and against the very bills whose vetoes you threaten to override today. But as one of my learned Republican colleagues once said: Consistency is the hobgoblin of the small mind.
I rise to tell you that the Senate Democratic leadership has failed the citizens of Oregon. Democrats have lost their voice, that of the loyal opposition, by conspiring with the Republicans. Bleeding heart liberals out to save the world have made Oregon a worse place.
One of our Republican Senate colleagues was bragging recently to a House Democrat that the Republicans have a win-win situation here: If we sustain the vetoes, the Republicans will blame the governor for the cuts to schools. If we override the vetoes it will prove that Democrats agree with the Republicans that this was the best we can do. Give me a break! If we sustain the Governor's vetoes — even the august members of the Oregonian and Register-Guard editorial boards agree — apparently no one in the state disagrees: that this is a bad budget. At least we could give Oregon voters a chance to weigh in on this. If the public doesn't want to pay for schools, for community colleges, for universities, for seniors, the disabled, kids-at-risk — then let them say so. But why not give them the chance? If anyone in this chamber thinks that it's politically feasible for the Republican leadership to underfund schools to the tune of $317 million — if the vetoes are sustained — they're suffering from smoke inhalation, they're whistling through the graveyard, and they'll suffer even worse in November.
Let me tell you, Oregonians are really mad at all of us right now. Both parties. A recent poll of motivated voters in the Portland area — without partisan separation — unilaterally condemned our Legislature. Our approval rating was right down there with Enron executives. Only 20 percent approval. Not just Republicans, not just Democrats — it was a pox on both our houses. Oregonians are right: We failed.
I've publicly criticized my own Democratic leadership for cooperating with the Republicans to produce a bad result: $600 million in one-ime theft of every piggy bank in the state — for one-time money to solve an $850 million shortfall is atrocious public policy, parties aside. It leaves us with a huge hole in the next biennium. Even the Irish with their bad math skills know this is a bogus business practice.
If nothing else, I've been consistent in my criticism, starting from the first special session. From the get-go I've said that this is a Republican problem. You've had eight years of control of both chambers and have not produced a long-term solution to adequate education funding — from pre-kindergarten to community colleges to our universities. From the first special session, I've insisted that Democrats should not supply the votes for bad public policy — untenable cuts to seniors, the disabled, children at-risk, working families, small businesses, and our education system — while granting corporate welfare tax breaks.
Our Democratic leaders did it anyway. But, as the bumper sticker says: That was Zen, this is Tao. With the vetoes before you, any hope of dealing realistically with the budget shortfall goes up in smoke along with the Biscuit fire.
Soon, voters will face a clone of the recently defeated Ballot Measure 13 in September: this is perhaps the most instructive example. Oregonians will be asked to sacrifice 7,000 need grants for income-eligible Oregon college kids who attend Oregon's public colleges and universities for a one-time payment to K-12. The Education Endowment Fund was originally placed in the Oregon Constitution by former Senate President Gordon Smith so that greedy legislators could not get their hands on the corpus of that fund the first time they needed it. The current Republican leaders ignored their own guy. What more can I say? Stealing from one group of Oregon citizens, our needy college students, for a one-time fix another needy group — our K-12 kids — is truly robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The Republican legislative leadership has proven itself fundamentally incapable of dealing with this problem during the best of times and now they say they can't solve it during the worst of times. That doesn't leave many alternatives, does it colleagues? If not you, who? If not now, when?
I ask you for once: do what's right. Do what another Republican leader, Governor Vic Atiyeh did in an earlier economic crisis: Face the facts. Vic did it, why can't you?
For one day, one vote, forget your partisan rancor, and forget the weak Democrats who sold out for an easy election-year result. Veto the shift, veto the bonding.
The Oregonian editorial board recently threw in with the right-wing of the Oregon Republican Legislature, lamenting the governor's final days as a Shakespearean tragedy ("… Portland legislators should lead the way in voting to override the governor's budget vetoes," Aug. 10). There is a Shakespearean tragedy here, but it's not of the governor's making. Here's some more Shakespeare for you, from King Lear:
"We have seen the best of our times. Machinations, hollowness, treachery and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves."
Let us not be marked with this black spot on this legislative body. Let us do what is right.
[Note: In the end, seven Democrats voted with me to sustain the governor; six voted along with the Republicans to override: 22-7 was the final result.]
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Voice of Dissent
Barbara Lee' gutsy stand honored.
BY KITTY PIERCY
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (Oakland, Calif.) is coming to Eugene this Sunday, Aug. 25 to accept the 2002 Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award. This award honors an elected official who, like the late Senator Morse, demonstrates integrity and independence in politics, even at great political cost. Rep. Lee was chosen for this award by three national scholars because of her gutsy vote against the congressional resolution that approved the administration's "war on terrorism."
In a time when most politicians feared challenging a presidential request, Rep. Lee spoke out about her concern for the future of this country and the larger world community. She said she felt the resolution "was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events without regard to our nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interest and without time limit."
Her vote met with harsh criticism even though it exemplified a high level of honest patriotism and a strong sense of international responsibility. It stands out because most political voices have been carefully absent from public discourse about the "war on terrorism."
Since then, U.S. citizens have been incarcerated without access to legal representation or the legal process. Civil liberties have been eroded in the name of wartime need. Our country stands on the brink of attacking Iraq. Now even Republican leaders are emboldened to question the wisdom of such an invasion and at what cost. Bush supporters back in Texas are reportedly asking if our government really intends a non-ending series of attacks on all countries we disagree with.
Lee's lone vote reminds many of us of a time when no one spoke out against another war, the war in Vietnam. Americans backed their presidents and asked few questions. Then two men in Congress spoke out. They voted no. They were Ernest Greuning of Alaska and Wayne Morse of Oregon. Morse paid a heavy price for his stand on Vietnam, ending in political defeat. Morse said, " I will exercise an independence of judgement based on the evidence of each issue. I will weigh the views of my constituents and party, but cast my vote free of political pressure and unmoved by threats of loss of political support."
His leadership remains bright in our memories. In recent months, commentaries have linked Lee with Morse when they ask, where is the voice of dissent? Many will celebrate Lee's award Sunday but don't count on seeing many public officials brave enough to welcome the gentle congresswoman from California.
There is something outrageous being proposed in Eugene. Now, being from the Bay Area, and involving myself in the modeling world of San Francisco means that I qualify as a person with exposure to both colorful gender issues and tolerance of such issues.
I, myself, am a very tolerant person. I've argued for equality in health care for gay couples, and I've danced in front of the S.F. City Hall during the Gay Rights Parade. I've seen cross-dressers, I've seen men holding hands, and I've been exposed to a lot of literature about sexual tolerance, both in schools and off campus. But how far can I be wrestled into "tolerance" of something that is bizarre, potentially dangerous, and disturbing?
Why can't men piss in their own bathrooms? Instead of arguing for other's rights, gay, bi or straight, I am going to argue for myself. Call me selfish, but I don't want to share the bathroom with Joe Schmoe the transgender barber — I don't care if his stilettos do match the Moschimo evening gown from this fall's collection. I'm concerned about my safety, and the safety of all women and little girls who use public restrooms.
Women are hunted in today's society. We have to be careful walking down the street at dusk, we carry pepper spray on hikes, we have to watch our drinks. Unless there's some sort of discriminatory "bathroom pass," that says, "Yes, I am an actual transgender individual," who's to stop any transgender poser from waltzing in and attacking, raping or kidnapping a little girl using the potty? Who's to stop the abusive boyfriend from chasing his girlfriend into the ladies stall — a place she used to go for escape?
Who's going to stop sick people from dressing up and loitering for the ladies — must we also have police in the rest rooms, dusting our coats and drying our hands? Must we have safety buttons, to be pushed in case of an emergency?
I am ready to be tolerant. I read about women fighting for their rights to kiss other women and be respected. I believe in breastfeeding in public. I will protest and be arrested for gay rights, the environment, and anything else that I feel strongly infringes on the liberty and safety of others. Thus, I strongly take a stand — for myself. I would like to be respected with the right to have a ladies rest room stay that way. I would like the right to let my little girl use the park bathroom without scoping it out for "strange men." I would like the right to ask transgender individuals, straight, gay or bi, to be tolerant of women's rights.
Gov. Kitzhaber was absolutely right to veto the two education spending bills presented to him last month by the state Legislature. House Republicans think that using tricky accounting practices and borrowing from future education revenue to solve current budget shortfalls are sound policy. And they proclaim that the governor's vetoes are "stunningly irresponsible." Yet anyone who is paying attention can see what is really happening: under the current Republican leadership, our state school system is being systematically eroded. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that this has been their real goal all along.
Whether intended or not, this year's Enron-style accounting methods and theft of future revenues amount to another step toward the eventual destruction of our public schools. By vetoing the two spending bills, our governor is trying to stop that from happening. He should be applauded for his courage.
Just as the leadership at Enron and WorldCom have done to their companies, the Republican leadership in Salem is driving our school system into the ground. It is they who are stunningly irresponsible. If you want leadership that understands the value of public education, please work to elect Democrats to our state Legislature this November.
It's too bad — I was just getting to (almost) like Oregon. But the effect of Gov. Kitzhaber's recent veto (SB 1022) is sending me packing — I'm off to find a teaching job in pastures which, while perhaps not as green, are more honest.
Many would like us to believe that Gov. Kitzhaber's veto is a courageous move — doing what no one else will do to improve the picture of funding for education in Oregon. My question is this: Since the problem has been brewing for years, and he's (supposedly) so courageous, why did he wait until it could have no affect on his personal political career?
It's because this is the move of a coward, not a courageous man. One of the popular arguments in support of his veto is that it will take a "train wreck" — complete devastation of the Oregon education system — to get the voter's to pay attention. A courageous man would have put his own job in that train wreck — not hundreds of other people's, as well as the education of our children. In (futile) search of an honest politician,
For months, I and thousands of others in the Northwest have been anxiously awaiting old-growth protection legislation that Sen. Ron Wyden has been working on. Last week, I was shocked to see what was finally revealed, and many working to protect the last of our old-growth forests had their worst nightmare come true: Eastside forests in Washington, Oregon and all of Idaho would be the sacrificial lamb in the effort to protect forests 120 years and older on the west side. Worse yet, public participation in the planning of these eastside sales would be curtailed. Old-growth protection or old-growth sell out?
The public, regional scientists and economists have called for an end to the logging of our remaining mature and old-growth forests, for the health of the land and the recovery of species nearly gone forever. There is a practical alternative out there: planning timber sales in younger managed stands. According to the Conservation Biology Institute in 2001, there were nearly 1.7 million acres of tree plantations 30-80 years old on the west side of the Cascades. If we want to talk about employment potential, this is a great place to start. When the BLM and Forest Service continue to plan sales in mature and old-growth forests, they will continue to create the gridlock they are so opposed to.
Ron Wyden needs to step up and offer the legislation that the majority of the public has been demanding: the end of mature and old-growth logging, and more importantly, with no eastside strings attached.
Your greed reeks, Mr. Castle (8/8). Are you under the assumption that you are the only person within this area with bills to pay? You are aware that this is a college town, many of these "young people" to whom you refer are also paying off student loans as well as domestic and other bills.
I have had the pleasure of working within the service industry three years ago in Colorado. Colorado does things a little different; you only work for tips because the minimum wage for servers was $2.35 an hour, just enough to pay Uncle Sam. I know here in Oregon you are making $6.50 an hour.
I cannot stress the fact that you have it much better than you think. An average night can yield you over $10 an hour, that's counting your $6.50 an hour pay check. Many of these "young people" only make $6.50 an hour — anything but substantial — and you're saying what they have to give is not enough?
OK, so the campaign finance reform measure didn't make the ballot for various undemocratic reasons. For one, you must be an ACTIVE registered voter, which means you must re-register if you move, or your signature will be invalid if you sign petitions. Then there is the subtraction of 400 signatures for every duplicate found.
We are not going away. We're going to do it again. But this time let's do it different. I'm tired of the Margaret Mead quote of the small group doing all the work to change the world — let's make it to a LARGE group of committed citizens. If all the people and organizations that endorsed the initiative would fill out five sheets, we could get this thing done in record time.
The corruption in government by big corporations is more apparent now than ever before; it's time to stand up and do something about it! Our precious citizens' initiative process is being undermined, and frankly, I don't trust our legislators — and I bet they wouldn't mind not owing "favors" to big money either. They might sleep better at night.
Concerning Martin Henner's letter ("Joint Promotion," 8/8): how dare EW support the Em's, and how dare the Em's charge admission and sell concessions? I suppose that if I go to the Bijou and buy popcorn, another local business suffers that much more. And don't mention what happens when I get thirsty at the Hult Center.
I'm not a sports fan, and I'll probably never attend a game. However, I realize that the Em's are a much-loved part of the community that many people are happy to support. I think it would behoove people like Henner to cut the self-centered whining and accept it.
Eugene is filled with wonderful independently owned businesses that I'm happy to support, but I'm tired of owners (not to mention musicians, artists, etc.) who expect us to raise statues in their honor. Yes, you all are a big part of what makes this place so special, but sometimes we have other things happening in our lives.
Maybe we want to unwind with a quiet night in, or maybe (gasp!) we want to take in a ball game.
ARE NO ANGELS
Am I the only one who found Jim Carlson's response to the anonymous letter concerning Angel Jones a little bit disturbing? Launching a witch hunt to locate the letter writer! Wouldn't we all like to know what would prompt a city employee to write such a letter? Why would such a letter be so offensive if the alleged offenses were not true in whole or in part? Wouldn't we like to see him ask his departments to promote teamwork and a healthy work environment? No, he launches an investigation empowering city managers and employees to become suspicious of friends and co-workers. This fulfills the fears of the letter writer and proves the city executives are not as innocent as they would like us to think they are.
Why would Carlson warn off councilors against conferring with city employees? What gives Carlson the right to run a dictatorship over access to city employees by the council? The councilors were elected to run the city by the average citizen using taxpayer dollars.
Being the spouse of a city employee that works under the Angel Jones regime, I am decidedly for making some serious changes. There is an undercurrent of a Southern good ol' boy attitude among management in the city. Please write your union. Call your mayor. Let's get these issues out in the open so, as a city, we can flush this inappropriate behavior and get on with providing the services we are there to provide.
Regarding the "Feral Frenzy" article (8/15): As a cat lover who can't keep a cat because of a previous commitment to a large dog that has the wrong kind of fascination with felines, I'd like to ask if there is any room for a follow-up story on the effects that feral/free-roaming/stray animals can have on creatures other than overly sensitive humans.
Dogs allowed to roam have had a negative effect on the delicate sensibilities of human neighbors and their desire to keep a nice lawn, but these dogs can also have an influence on the lives of other animals by spreading disease, fighting, stalking and sometimes killing wild birds or mammals, cats — and lest we forget — livestock.
Feral cats have a "right" to life as a domestic animals, but their freedom shouldn't require that wild birds and mammals adapt to survive a species introduced by humans.
Just look at the effects that dogs, cats, goats, rats, pigs and other assorted domesticated animals have had on island populations of wild animals. Wild species of birds, mammals, reptiles, etc. are on the brink of extinction because of their inability to evolve in the face of the human introduction of new species. Is it the fault of any of the "free" domestic animals? No, the fault lies with the misguided and sometimes irresponsible liberty given to animals like our very domesticated pets so that we can enjoy a little slice of "wild" in our yards.
I appreciate the efforts of organizations like TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release), but I wonder if its supporters would be as interested in funding studies on the destruction strays can cause because of our selfish interest in seeing these animals roam "free."
I believe that it is time to introduce legislation that would make certain white collar crimes fit a new definition of treason. This would be a civil definition of treason resulting in no jail time, and it would be in addition to any other penalties, but would result in the loss of U.S. citizenship and being expelled from the U.S.
This statute may never be used, but it could be a tremendous deterrent to white collar crime. After all, everything is a matter of degree. A little fraud can be dealt with by existing statutes but massive fraud needs another penalty. At this time, with all of the other white collar crime coming to the surface, who is going to vote against this legislation?
If every country in the world adopted similar legislation, the white collar criminals may finally get the message.
Yet another news article (R-G, 8/9, "Thinning of forests, use of fire supported") about the state and federal forestry wish to use what will be called the Flame Thrower Method of forest management.
The same old, tired and failed-in-practice statements about how the Native Americans used fire on the old forests (not in five-mile backfires, the Natives like to have some game still alive to hunt), then there is the ever-popular concept of an "open" forest with spaces between the trees. Anyone with any brains and having spent even one vacation in any forest knows that it is sunlight on the forest floor that causes undergrowth to flourish, and that is the stuff that burns first.
So, the problem is: Just where did the federal and state forestry get these alleged "new ideals?" They got them from very small, war-torn countries in Europe. Yes, we are talking about former Nazi Germany that destroyed its forests gifting the world not only one but two world wars. It is the mechanical German method of forestry care that is being used in a war against nature and every living thing in the forests of the U.S. The "benefit" is to log every four old-growth trees around any "save" tree, as well as to continue to steal the former funds that used to be used to fight fire as well as plant new trees in the logged areas.
How badly does the government want this? They will burn your home and the innocent animals in the forest to get it.
You are nobody, nothing, compared to this misconstrued hunger. Shut up, suffer; you're a terrorist if you don't comply. You will comply.
Daniel J. Moore
Former Assistant Fire Chief,
California Division of Forestry
Prof. Greg McLauchlan (Viewpoint, 8/8) argues that a living wage would "provide a 'no frills' budget for a working parent with one child that comes to $23,500 a year, still well below the national average of $32,000." Heck, my hillbilly mama raised six of us on less than that (in present dollars). This is not an income problem, it's a budgetary problem.
I will be glad to show a single mother with one kid how to make it on $15,000 a year, frills included. Part of the bargain will be a healthy diet and a physical activity regimen. All I ask is that you turn off the TV and start going to the library. In return, I'll teach you how to precycle, recycle and scrounge your way through the system.
The professor might consider accepting a salary — donated by the taxpayers — of $23,000 a year. That would help to lower the national average if he's concerned with it. He might also consider that on the morning the Berlin Wall came down, the people prying apart the monstrosity had the sun to their backs.
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