Category: SW Editorial

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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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...

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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...

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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...

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