Category: SW Editorial

Protect Everyone’s Right to Privacy

With one major spectacle after another dominating the national news, it can be easy to forget that the new administration’s policies still reach us on a personal level. Possibly the most troubling example of federal policy impacting Oregonians’ daily lives comes in the form of the crackdown on undocumented immigrants who make up an important and valued part of the fabric of our state. More troubling still is that some of our own state politicians are working to bring the predatory policy to Oregon. Time magazine reported in May that detentions of those in the country illegally are up nearly 40% this year compared to the same time in 2016. Under the Obama administration, immigration authorities were encouraged to focus deportation efforts on immigrants who had committed violent crimes. Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order which expands the groups of people vulnerable to deportation; agencies like I.C.E. may detain criminals, but it doesn’t end there. Those accused of crimes that have not been adjudicated yet, those suspected of abusing public welfare, and anyone “considered a threat to public safety…in the judgment of an immigration officer” can be detained. These broad parameters have opened the door to immigration raids on communities throughout Oregon, and the result is a culture of fear in a state historically noted for its efforts to protect vulnerable immigrant populations. And in...

Read More

A Whiff of Fascism

During his campaign for the Presidency, Donald Trump won support by promoting slogans such as “Make America Great Again,” and “America First!”  Trump identified “America” with working class whites, who, he claimed, have long been exploited by the policies of the ruling elites and exposed to unfair competition from “un-American” groups such as undocumented Latin American migrants, whom he also labeled as dangerous criminals.  He argued that protests against police violence, led by communities of color, threatened American security from within, just as “radical Islamic terrorism” threatened it from without.  Thus, he succeeded in painting a picture of a beleaguered “America,” one that could only be saved from future “carnage” if he were elected. Trump’s mixing of fact and fiction would have won him the admiration of Mussolini and Hitler, who set the standard when it comes to creating myths about membership in the “national community.”  Both men attacked liberals, socialists, and communists as enemies of the nation, both appealed to the “common man” against plutocratic elites even as, like Trump, they allied themselves closely with the latter while betraying the former, and both argued that the “nation” should take precedence over everything else.  Hitler added a powerful dose of racial anti-Semitism to Germany’s brand of fascism, but the basic idea was always the same:  to conjure up feelings of national unity based on the exclusion of those perceived...

Read More

3rd Bridge Supporters Need a Topography Lesson

One of the arguments you commonly hear for a 3rd Bridge across the Willamette in Salem is the fact that we only have two auto bridges, the Marion and Center Street bridges, while many cities our size and even smaller have many more bridges. A certain right-wing radio talk show host in Salem, in arguing for the 3rd Bridge, likes to compare our town to his former place of residence, Des Moines, Iowa, which has at least seven bridges across the river that cuts through the center of that town as you can see in this Google Earth image: What’s wrong with Salem that we’ve only built two bridges in the 160 years that we have been a city? Are we cheap? Are we stupid? What is the problem? Simple. The problem is our peculiar topography. As with many cities, Salem’s founders had the wisdom to find just the right place to locate our city relative to its topography. At our location, the Willamette River has two huge floodplains, both to the north and to the south. They are nearly a mile wide, and they used to flood with great regularity before the Detroit Dam was constructed in 1953. They still flood during unusual weather events like many will remember in 1996 and in 2012. We have more recently learned that these floodplains are earthquake liquefaction zones that will...

Read More

Salem’s Vision and Mission

We applaud City Manager Steve Powers for initiating and funding a strategic planning process for the City of Salem. The council is now about half-way through the process that should be completed later this year. It’s been sorely needed. Our city council has been drifting for years with little direction. They have not taken the time to step back and chart a course for the future with measurable goals that represent the highest aspirations of our city. Now that’s changing, and at a good time, with new city leadership and new city management. That being said, the process thus far has had a few hiccups. There was the “stakeholder charrette” that became a vehicle for the mostly well-connected to try to exercise undo influence on the process. Luckily, enough ordinary citizens saw what was happening and pushed back to the extent that the results of the charrette have now been largely discarded, and the planning consultants do not plan to hold another one. But another flaw in the process that has gone largely unnoticed is the “Vision” and “Mission” that the City Council developed in a work session on January 30th with no public comment or participation. The city staff and city council are now using this Vision and Mission as if it has already been adopted, despite having had no public comment or approval in a regular council...

Read More

Keeping the Public in the Public Lands

The public lands, whether federal or state, belong to all of us. At a time when many Republicans in Congress are demanding that the federal government cede control of extensive public lands to the states, and others are calling on the states to privatize their own public lands – such as Oregon’s 82,000 acre Elliot Forest – it is essential to mobilize public support against such short-sighted policies. Of the 2.28 billion acres of land that comprise the United States, the federal government owns 637 million acres (28%).  The great bulk of these lands are in the West, with 52% percent of Oregon’s 61.6 million total acres federally-owned and managed by agencies such as the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.  The State of Oregon’s own public lands total a relatively modest 780,000 acres. Some public lands are managed to preserve – and provide access to – unspoiled wilderness, others allow visitors to engage in a wide range of recreational activities, while still others are used for natural resource extraction and grazing.  There is no question that these lands are a source of enjoyment and of great wealth for the people of our country.  Their use also comes at substantial cost, since all of these activities must be responsibly managed, and human created and natural disasters on the public lands, such as pollution...

Read More

sw-house-ad-for-web-donatepdffinal

sw-house-ad-for-web-donatepdffinal