Author: SW Editorial Board

TIME TO END SCHOOL FOOTBALL

A recent article in the Statesman Journal about moving junior varsity football from Thursdays to Mondays has some disturbing quotes about the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries. The Assistant Director of the Oregon School Athletic Association said, speaking of students who might play both in the JV and the varsity games: “Sometimes the kids that are concussed, it does not present itself the very next day. It might take a couple of days. So [moving the JV games from Thursday to Monday] gives longer to evaluate those type of kids.” How common is that? “The kids that are concussed.” Sounds pretty common. And the head coach at Sprague High School had this to say about the change: “We’re kind of in a battle right now; I hate to call it a battle, but we’re kind of in a battle with the medical community over the game of football. We certainly don’t want to lose the game that we love.” “A battle with the medical community”? Perhaps he was referring to the editorial in the New York Times by Dr. Bennett Omalu entitled “Don’t Let Kids Play Football.” Dr. Omalu is credited with the discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., that has resulted in the impairment and death of many former NFL players. Dr. Omalu wrote, “If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive...

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Remember Anita Hill?

We do. She was the woman that broke down the padlocked door on the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace. And she did it on national television, in front of the senate judiciary committee who was taking testimony on the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. This was 1991. In 1991, sexual harassment was still just, “one of those things” you put up with. If you wanted to keep your job, you cooperated and you didn’t complain. But Hill’s testimony on Clarance Thomas’s inappropriate comments and advances changed that. Here was an African American woman telling a group of white senators that the man they were about to appoint was a predator. If she can do that, in that setting, then so could others. So while the senators did not stand by Ms. Hill, women around the world did. Pandora’s box was opened, and women began to tell their stories and in an onslaught that has never been seen before, more women ran for and won office the following year than any time in previous history. Now we have Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, a man who was caught on tape boasting about assaulting women. For years his behavior has gone unchecked. In the incendiary tape that came out just over two weeks ago, Trump bragged to the smarmy Billy Bush, that as a “star”...

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SALEM WEEKLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE NOVEMBER 2016 ELECTION

LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES: Measure 94 (amends the Oregon Constitution to repeal the mandatory 75-year-old retirement age for judges) YES. Mandatory retirement ages are an antiquated and arbitrary idea for any profession.   Measure 95 (amends the Oregon Constitution to allow public state universities to invest in stocks) NO. Public universities ought to be fully funded via the state budget, not via private investments in the stock market.  Reliance on stock market gambling simply furthers the privatization of the public system.   Measure 96 (amends Oregon Constitution to dedicate 1.5% of state lottery net proceeds to fund veteran’s services) NO. It is the Federal government’s job to fully fund veteran’s services, not the state’s job.   Measure 97 (raises corporate income taxes on corporations that make over $25 million) YES. Oregon is tied for the lowest corporate taxes in the nation — time to end the free ride and avoid a big budget deficit in the next biennium.   Measure 98 (requires state funding for career education, college readiness and dropout prevention) NO. Local school boards can already decide to prioritize these programs if they wish — we don’t need a state mandate.   Measure 99 (funds Outdoor School for all 5th and 6th graders in Oregon) YES. Outdoor School is a terrific program and $22 million of lottery funds would be well spent providing it to all students in...

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Why We Need Measure 97

The United States used to do big things.   In World War II, for example, we almost tripled production to defeat fascism.  After the war, federal and state governments constructed the interstate highway system, built the world’s best system of public higher education, sent astronauts to the moon, created Medicare to complement Social Security, expanded the National Park system, and much more.  The country was rich and people demanded a growing array of public goods and services to enhance opportunity and the quality of life for all. Over the past forty years, however, such projects have become increasingly unrealizable.  It is not because the country is poorer.  Indeed, we are more productive and richer than ever.  What has changed, however, is the political context in which economic elites and politicians of both parties, but especially Republicans, have relentlessly attacked the public sector as “inefficient” and sought to shrink the resources available to the state.  They have altered tax policies in favor of corporations and the rich, while allowing public services to decline. Oregon, too, has struggled to satisfy demands that a growing population places upon our transportation infrastructure, state police, parks, schools, and health care system.  In recent years, many problems have become acute.  Roads and bridges are in disrepair and, except in a few cities like Portland, public transit is neglected.  Although our schools have the third largest...

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UNQUALIFIED FOR OREGON

What do Donald Trump, Bud Pierce, and Laura Morett all have in common? (In case you haven’t started paying attention, Bud Pierce is the Republican candidate for Oregon Governor and Laura Morett is the Republican candidate for the Oregon House seat in District 20, now held by Democrat Paul Evans.) Well they are all Republicans, obviously. But they are also all utterly unqualified for the offices that they seek. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in late June found that 64 percent of Americans believed Donald Trump is unqualified to be the next President. That number is certainly higher today. To restate the obvious, Trump was born into one of the richest families in America and has worked, more or less successfully, in the family business. He has never held public office, never worked in the public sector and never served in the military. He has shown astonishing ignorance of how our government works and of world affairs and does not seem inclined to buckle down and remedy his lack of knowledge. How the Republican Party could have nominated such an ignoramus is a question that historians will wrestle with for a long time. But is Bud Pierce, who Republicans in Oregon elected as their standard bearer, that much more qualified? Here is another man who has never worked in the public sector nor held any public office who wants...

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LET THE NEW COUNCIL DECIDE ON THE 3RD BRIDGE

In her last four months in office, Salem Mayor Anna Peterson plans to insert plans for the 3rd Bridge (aka Salem River Crossing Preferred Alternative) into the Salem Transportation System Plan and Comprehensive Plan. Formally adopting the plan in this way is the next step in the decade-long process to complete an Environmental Impact Statement approved by the Federal Highway Administration that would allow the project to be built and to qualify for state and federal funding. For the past 19 months the plans have been on the back burner. The Salem River Crossing Oversight Team has not even met since December of 2014. The last time the Council looked at the plans was in November of 2014 when three of the current Councilors had not even taken their seats yet, having just been elected. So why the rush all of a sudden to formally adopt the plan? The answer is simple. In January, Peterson will be gone, and three new progressive Councilors, all of whom ran against the 3rd Bridge in their campaigns this year will take their seats. They will join Councilor Tom Andersen who won his seat in 2014 in no small part because of his opposition to the 3rd Bridge. So in January the Council will be split between four foes of the 3rd Bridge and four supporters. Mayor-elect Bennett is a 3rd Bridge supporter,...

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A FINE LEGACY

City governments in the U.S. have been the most aggressive in working to end our addiction to fossil fuels and to create a renewable energy future A few states like Hawaii and Vermont have set ambitious goals to transition off of fossil fuels, but they are the exception. In June, Hawaii became the first state to plan to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources, in their case, by 2045. Hopefully we’ll see more action from the Oregon Legislature in 2017. But for now, it’s cities that are taking the lead, in Oregon and elsewhere. Washington D.C. just adopted a plan to get 50% of its electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2032. Their plan will outfit 100,000 low-income D.C. households with solar panels over the next 16 years. What a great idea! Not only does this help them meet their goal, it helps the neediest citizens with their utility bills. In Oregon, the cities that have been leading the way to a renewable energy future include Portland, Eugene, and Ashland. No surprise there. But they may be joined soon by Bend, a city not known for having a surplus of lefty tree-huggers. Maybe that’s changing, or maybe the good folks in Bend are realizing how much their economy and way of life depend on a stable climate. In May, the Bend City Council empowered...

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WHAT TO DO ABOUT BREXIT (AND OUR INITIATIVE SYSTEM)

Does the Salem Weekly Editorial Board have the audacity to advise the British what to do about Brexit? Of course we do. For us the answer is simple. Great Britain is a representative democracy, a republic. Direct democracy has no place in a republic. Therefore elected representatives in Parliament ought to consider the results of the recent close election and all of the facts and arguments for and against staying in the European Union and decide for themselves the best course of action. They may decide to stay or they may decide to go, but the decision should be theirs. The recent referendum results should be totally non-binding. Our thinking on this follows that of the distinguished philosopher Peter Singer in a recent opinion piece of his www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/direct-democracy-and-brexit-by-peter-singer-2016-07. He quotes the 18th century conservative philosopher Edmund Burke who once served in Parliament. Upon being elected he told his constituents, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” And if we were to be consistent in our thinking, we would also call for reform of our own initiative system here in Oregon. Can anyone argue that our 114-year-old experiment in direct democracy has been an unqualified success? Yes it has brought us such things as women’s suffrage, “death with dignity,” and vote by...

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BRING IT ON

On June 10th, former Governor John Kitzhaber criticized Governor Kate Brown for not doing something to head off  Initiative Petition 28, which is likely to be on the November ballot. The initiative would raise corporate taxes in Oregon which along with Connecticut are currently the lowest in the country, according to the Council on State Taxation. We think Kitzhaber would have done better to keep his opinions to himself. And not because he and Cylvia Hayes are still under investigation for misconduct, though that would be a pretty good reason. It’s because he served three terms as Oregon’s governor, 12 years, and did nothing to halt the precipitous decline in corporate taxes. Time and again he promised that he would tackle what he called “tax reform,” but he never did. Instead he led the way in giving big tax breaks to some of Oregon’s largest corporations. In 2012, he called the legislature into special session in order to give Nike a tax break estimated at $16 million a year for 30 years. A year later Intel got the same deal. After Intel got its tax break, Kitzhaber told the Oregonian editorial board, “This is not a revenue loser for the state, this is tax certainty.” Yeah, right. Both companies get to pay taxes based only on sales within the state, a very small portion of their worldwide business. So...

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TOP DOWN

The Council Chamber at City Hall was mostly empty because it was a Wednesday night and the meeting was poorly promoted. Predictably, there had been no articles about it in the Salem Statesman Journal in the days before the public hearing to inform the public about what was at issue. The public hearing conflicted with several meetings of neighborhood associations including one that was having their annual meeting. At issue was whether to move forward with an $82 million bond measure in November to construct a 148,000 square foot police facility, which, if constructed, would be one of the...

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