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May-31-2007 21:04printcomments

Op Ed:
Oregon Loses Voter Credibility
As Legislative Session Stalls Out
Cooperation-Promised Never Developed

Where’s that solid list of supremely needed changes and accomplishments we were promised early-on? With due satisfaction for ALL Oregonians?

Mudslinging art
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(SALEM, Ore.) - Faced with sure surrender to full-depth corporate contribution sources --and despite desperate dual-party promises of “cooperation instead of confrontation”-- this gang-up operation of an ostensible Oregon “representative assembly” is stalled and stagnant; instead of confident and comforting for all Oregonians.

At the very point where prominent members --one can hardly and truthfully call them “leaders”-- should be celebrating solid accomplishment on policies and programs and pertinent funding, from equally-solid sources, we see something far less satisfying and far more ominous: Return of the irrational and irresponsible party-based “political-assassination”-attempts; obviously paid for by those ubiquitous corporate campaign contributions.

“2008 is close,” the perpetrators state, ”and sure to be tough and contentious”; making inter-party competition a compelling reason for killing off cooperation-promised to end thirty years of commonweal-killing “contention”; clearly disemboweling much of what Oregonians once were proud to call “the Oregon pattern.”

Where’s that solid list of supremely needed changes and accomplishments we were promised early-on? With due satisfaction for ALL Oregonians ?

More than one member of this promised “fully cooperative” session has found reprehensible and surely infuriating political “smear-and-smell” materials sent to their constituents.

That symptom of continuing salacious political-party operational irresponsibility sets the tone and reflects the tenor of what sharp examination of reality now reflects.

It has happened sometimes at the very moment when with a crocodile-bright smile these same opponents offered “discussion” and “dialog” under the Capitol dome; but not goodwill and good governance and solid cooperation for the commonweal we really need now.

One published pertinent-bit even discloses that one member, leaving the floor briefly for body-reasons, was prevented from voting on return; having technically “missed the vote” by the momentary run to the bathroom!

It’s not even pertinent which party did what to the other party at this point; similar and ongoing barriers to common sense and promised cooperative effort exist and can be cited for each.

Both “sides” are guilty and should be roundly and substantially chastised, in any and all ways possible, for their performance --or, rather, reportorially speaking, lack of same-- on each and every occasion now open to voters.

The Oregon press-and-media have gone a far piece to make this session seem reasonable, balanced and productive --reflecting a far more rational and surely relatively sensible situation than reality reveals.

One reason, for sure, is to promote and encourage precisely what Editorials around the State have declared is absolute necessity “for this session, now.”

A long list of pertinent and especially important portions of the known-demanded work for these ostensibly-cooperating “representatives” in this session could easily be inserted here; for your edification, if not true satisfaction.

Instead, simply see the wide and intense subject-matter included in all those “Guest Opinions” and political-interest ads appearing across the State; in nearly every daily, nearly every day; to “make the case” on a continuing basis for the many matters left hanging so far into this clearly most UN-productive session.

From whence-and-why does any such cry of desperation and destroyed-promise come, if not from reality of responsible accomplishment?

Surely that’s to be expected given those promises for “cooperation uber alles”, “this time”, “for sure ..!”

SO we now have a “rainy day fund”, garnered from precisely the high-piled corporate-take for outside-of-Oregon receivers.

That may be political accomplishment, but surely still rates only as overdue commonsense with voters; and is so long overdue as to wipe away any blush of real accomplishment.

SO we still have the same “minimum tax” of $10; now more than SEVENTY YEARS old, remaining from the ‘29/’31 real-Depression days; with multitudinous millions of monies managed into massive depredation vs real Oregon needs, for all those decades.

We are told that “23,000 Oregon corporations and businesses paid that minimum.”

Can it truly be true that every one of them made NO PROFIT at all from Oregon-based business-work?

SO it may be “legal” to work the ways of such corporate contrivance and “business law”; to make such matters “operate well and efficiently” vs the real needs of this State: IF SO, then we need to change whatever laws there may be allowing such rapacious reluctance to shoulder as honest cost-of-doing-business the fair share of the true burdens we all know exist; and can be fairly shared only by our State tax system, reformed for the 21st Century needs we now know.

Do you see anything to bring this about, rapidly-and-fairly, in this Legislature, after all these years?

At the conclusion of the period in which corporate share of overall tax burden has been decimated and driven to new lows?

SO we still have “heavily under-funded” community college, university and even K-12 education: With the 21st Century need desperately now to build and expand and strengthen and improve and provide for Oregonian entry as a workforce into worldwide competition.

We remain essentially “in the same leaky-boat, with water-rising rapidly”; despite all the now-despoiled decisive-promise of both political parties.

SO we still fight and feud over such simple, commonsense actions as additional tax on cigarettes; with the solid and sensible joint intention of cutting down air pollution and comprehensive impact on health; while supplying sensible funding for healthcare necessities for children, literally dying for dollars.

SO we substitute partial-planning and potential even-more-deadly demands for healthcare for all; while questioning and querulously delaying what common sense tells us must be done by due-process leading to a true plan; worthy of adoption by the entire nation.

It is not for us to speak of “Oregon - She Flies With Her Own Wings !”, while we allow such subterfuge for solid, substantial, democratic-dialog/driven decision for real action to be undertaken in our name; in this, OUR STATE.

We know what is needed, and why: After those thirty years of competition for party prominence rather than commonweal progress.

We chose --AND voted-for !-- those who can plan and provide and proceed with what is demanded --in this, our 21st Century Oregon. Then THEY promised US what they could-and-would do, too.

What ARE we waiting for NOW?

More “campaign contributions” --OR inevitable voter retaliation for “the truly guilty” in both parties?

---------------------------------------------------------- Reader’s Note:
Published press-and-media statements and other documentation for this Op Ed count more than fifty items. Quotes are verbatim or condensed to summarize sense from longer statement. The complete list of items, collected over past months, is available on request. Even the most important items are NOT listed here since far too many reflect the same realities. You are invited to “see with your own eyes” --and then decide for yourselves -- the ongoing coverage available in all Oregon dailies, weeklies, and other media --and then make your own judgment on this Legislature.

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Bewildered June 4, 2007 10:00 pm (Pacific time)

I at least have gotten you to focus on the 'faction' instead of just lumping the entire Legislature together again. Once again, your complaints should be against those who are actually guilty. There is not a 'whole' group of Legislators, there are those who vote yes and those who vote no individually. You I guess didn't hear about the House's ban on all gifts over $10 dollars on opening day and the new DOUBLING of the Ethics commission budget reported last week in the Statesman? Also, I think you must know that a cigarette tax vote has now been taken in the House and Senate and there are voting records to indicate who did or didn't 'touch it' Tighten it up hank!!

Hank Ruark June 3, 2007 10:50 am (Pacific time)

To all: Then there is "The Fractions Faction" detailed by OCPP's Chuck Sheketoff --how a very small minority blocks solid, exceedingly important action in this "representative assembly". "See with own eyes":

Hank Ruark June 2, 2007 7:01 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Further, lack of any real full-bore corporate tax reform and reluctance to even touch cig-tax show who runs what and how, now...which was why I bore down on those two. Then, if you demand detail, there's continuing delay in real-deal action on ethics, from all angles, while the Metolious Madam continues the same old situation in plain sight. Change is small and still far too slow. Op Eds are "opinions" - NOT fullbore detailed reports; and should be evaluated on pain and tumult they bring about by those forced to consider -- OR re-consider !! On that scale, do believe S-N generating solid dialog which is heart of any and all democratic decision by those ultimately responsible: every citizen. That same component is a demanded and essential part of any effective representative assembly, now painfully NON-present both in Oregon and nationally.

Han June 2, 2007 7:46 am (Pacific time)

To all: "See also" Big O Editorial on May 31: "When the right thing is the prudent thing". Do believe they playing my continuing song..."dangerously shortchanged", "wrong for Oregon", "most pressing but currently unfunded needs", and finally: "...also true of community mental health programs, the Oregon Health Plan, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, programs for seniors and the disabled, and many other critical human service programs. Funding levels have not been restored after years of cuts. Programs serve too few people and often serve them with greatly reduced benefits. "This approach to budgeting amounts to a shell game..." "If state costs were set for a generation rather than a biennium, we'd be forced to consider the true costs." One can only do so much in an Op Ed; for details READ and THINK -- and then VOTE for any who will,finally,ACT instead of QUARREL for more malign political purposes already demonstrated nationally, too.

Hank Ruark June 2, 2007 5:53 am (Pacific time)

B-W: You make even clearer and more intense my point: Full-ahead frustration still occurring despite both-sides promise for cooperation. Facing 30 years of damages done, Oregon is still far from "Flying With Own Wings !" and will never get off ground till this session suddenly gets "civilized" --with little time left to do what voters demand. No question on perpetrators but simply on how long this whole group will allow itself to be muscled, manipulated and "managed", while real-needs reflected from long list of work-yet-to-be even-started.

Bewildered June 1, 2007 11:02 pm (Pacific time)

Henry you need to be specific please. There are HUGE accomplishments from this Legislature. Banning gifts over $10 from Lobbysist, the Rainy Day Fund, the Bottle Bill expansion, the Renewable Energy Standards, 1 billion more for K-12, 80 million more for Community Colleges, 47 million more for low income financial aid, 100 more state troopers, Domestic partnerships, ANti-Discrimination, Parity coverage for Birth Control...all law or have passed both chambers now and await Governor signature. The 2 things you pick on Cigarette and Corporate Minimum both have 31 Democratic Votes but need 36. Don't blame the "Legislature" Blame the 28 Legislators (all Republicans) who voted no on Healthy Kids and blame the Legislators (10 Senate Republicans) Who backed out on the Corporate Minimum agreement between the other 3 caucuses. Lumping the whole Legislature together and ignoring the accomplishments listed is sloppy reporting and I expect better from you of all people Hank.

Hank Ruark June 1, 2007 4:57 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Not since 1974 has our Legislature studied its own record for ways to improve. The Legislative Assembly set up the Legislative Commission whose statement from Final Report follows, last November. For all seeking solid and authoritative study results for improvement to guarantee both credibility and rational responsibility, the Commission Report is the place to start. I hold PDFs covering the entire report, available on request. With approval of Senate Bill 1084 and creation of the Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature, the Legislative Assembly acknowledged the need for study and evaluation of the legislature’s administration, procedures, facilities, staffing and overall capacity, and the need for study and evaluation of ways to improve those functions. The last comprehensive review of the legislative branch, by the legislative branch, took place in 1974. Although others have reviewed the legislature since then, this commission, with the support of legislative leadership and the authority to introduce legislation, has a unique opportunity to suggest changes to strengthen the authority, credibility and effectiveness of future legislatures.

S. LaMarche May 31, 2007 9:41 pm (Pacific time)

I lost all confidence when congress imploded on the Iraq-Afghan funding bill, feeling like none of them give a damn, they lied to us en masse, all promising to "change the course of America".., nice speeches. This month's U.S. killed in action was the third highest since this administrations decision to make war in Iraq. The micro-cosmic appears to reflect D.C.'s "comfort zone" of speechmakers, it's the new Hollywood!

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