Category: SW Editorial

A YES VOTE ON THE LIBRARY BOND MEASURE IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK

For all of its 105 year history, the Salem Public Library has been a cheap date for the residents of Salem. It’s been a low cost, discount, bargain basement public library. It’s been that way from the beginning. The library started with a “book social” hosted by the Salem Woman’s Club in 1904 at which about 50 books were donated. When the club approached the City fathers to let them put their collection in the City Council chambers, Mayor Frank Waters agreed, “provided it should not cost the Council anything.” In 1909, when Andrew Carnegie was giving away libraries to cities that would provide a site and an operating budget, it was the Women’s Club that bought the site at the corner of Winter and State streets. But when the City refused to appropriate sufficient funds to operate the library the deal fell through. A year later the Club tried again, and this time got the City to appropriate $3,000 in operating funds to secure the free Carnegie library that opened in 1912. The free Carnegie library (which still stands today) housed the Salem Public Library for six decades and was seriously outgrown and undersized when the library was finally able to relocate to the present library in 1972. That library was paid for with a 1968 bond measure that also built City Hall and the downtown fire station....

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TAX CUTS HURT THE ECONOMY

A protracted congressional consideration of tax reform looms menacingly in our near future.  This is a prudent time, before the predictable partisan bombast begins, to take an analytical nonpartisan look at exactly what a tax cut means and what it accomplishes.  Especially, we need to anticipate the familiar clarion call for the most misleading “axiom” you’re about to hear: a tax cut to stimulate the economy. From a strict benefit/cost perspective, who is helped and who is hurt?  Technically, a tax cut is merely a transfer of spending power from public hands to private hands. Thus, it means that the expenditure of those dollars will be controlled by private “former” tax payers, and not by those who control the public budget.  Private spending replaces public spending. An important proviso must be mentioned.  The analysis assumes that public spending will be reduced by the amount of the tax cut, or in other words it is deficit neutral.  Of course, we all realize that this is rarely the case in practice, which is ironic in that those who usually argue for tax cuts and less public spending also tend to abhor the government deficit.  However, cutting taxes and simultaneously reducing spending by more than the amount of the tax cut is both a skill our political system is yet to master and potentially devastating economically.  Whether possible or desirable or not,...

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Health Insurance for All

As the Republican-controlled federal government attempted to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this summer, Oregon’s government moved in the opposite direction.  Instead of stripping hundreds of thousands of Oregonians of their health insurance, bipartisan legislation raised $600 million in revenues needed to trigger $5 billion in federal funds to shore up Medicaid and ensure that one million people continue to receive health coverage.  In addition, the state’s expanded coverage for reproductive services, including abortion, places it in the forefront of providing high-quality care for its citizens.  These actions, along with ACA subsidies for hundreds of thousands of privately insured Oregonians, represent important steps toward providing universal access to health care in our state. But they are not enough.  Five percent of Oregonians still fail to qualify for coverage even under the ACA and, as even the ACA’s supporters concede, the system is riddled with problems.   Premiums continue to rise rapidly in some places, some rural areas lack a choice of providers, and many people remain underinsured.  In addition, out of pocket costs for many plans remain high, many small businesses have difficulty covering their employees, and costs for drugs and medical services continue to increase well beyond the inflation rate. Many of these problems could be fixed if Republicans in Congress were willing to work with Democrats to address them, but even if they improved the ACA...

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Time to End the Salem River Crossing Project

Last fall Mayor Anna Peterson and her pro-3rd Bridge majority on the Council had a problem. In May of last year three new City Councilors were elected, all of whom ran on a platform opposed to moving forward to complete planning on the 3rd Bridge. The three would take office in January, joining long-time 3rd Bridge opponent Tom Andersen. So half the Council would be anti-bridge, and might be in a position to stop progress on a Final Environmental Impact Statement which the Council had been working on for years. What to do? The answer was to rush, and to get as much done as possible before the new Councilors took office. The immediate need was to expand the Urban Growth Boundary for the path of the bridge and to add the project to the Transportation System Plan and Comprehensive Plan. The Council sprang into action in October and held one mega-public hearing bringing together all the inter-governmental partners in the project. Then they rushed through the needed land use actions at their second to last meeting in December. Now this strategy has backfired on the remaining pro-bridge Councilors. On August 10th the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruled that the strict procedures required under Oregon law to expand an Urban Growth Boundary and pass related land use actions were not followed to the letter. They have remanded...

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A Message to Parents About CTE

Last November the Salem Weekly Editorial Board called upon the Salem-Keizer School District Board and Superintendent Christy Perry to convene a committee of doctors who have expertise in neuropathology and bioethics to make recommendations about the future of football and other contact sports for students in our district. See November Editorial here. We recommended this based upon the scientific evidence that has been mounting in recent years concerning Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a condition caused by repeated head trauma, as is common in football and other contact sports. CTE has been found to be the cause of severe memory loss, depression, dementia and even suicide, as in the case of a number of former NFL players. In that editorial, we quoted Dr. Bennett Omalu who is credited with the discovery of CTE. The quote bears repeating: “If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms. If that child continues to play over many seasons, these cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage.” Now we learn in a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on July 25th of new evidence that is even more definitive about...

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