Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to Scout leaders, Evergreen project; down to misleading campaign

Cheers — to local Boy Scout leaders, who made sure men convicted of molesting children were removed from the organization and prevented from any future involvement with Scouting.

County Commissioner C.W. Smith, who is a former Boy Scout executive board member, Medford police officer and Jackson County sheriff, credits his early police training in investigating sex crimes against children and the strong support of local Boy Scout leadership for making sure child abusers were removed and not protected.

Thousands of pages of documents were released last week by order of the Oregon Supreme Court after the Boy Scouts lost a 2010 civil lawsuit. In some parts of the country, Scout leaders apparently shielded molesters from the consequences of their actions, but not in the Rogue Valley, where several local men were arrested, charged and removed from Scouting in the 1970s and '80s.

Jeers — to the campaign for Ballot Measure 79, which is resorting to outright falsehoods to scare voters into approving a meaningless constitutional amendment.

Measure 79 would forever bar any level of government in the state from enacting a tax on real estate transfers. Local governments are prohibited from enacting such a tax under an existing state statute, but ads for Measure 79 talk about a "new property tax," making it sound imminent. In fact, a transfer tax is not a property tax — it's more like a sales tax — and the Legislature would have to repeal the existing statute before any local government could enact one. Anti-tax sentiment in this state is such that a state-level tax is extremely unlikely to be enacted.

Cheers — to the news that the Evergreen parking garage finally will be encircled on three sides by a commercial building as initially envisioned.

The Medford City Council and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency have struck a deal with three local corporations to build a $9 million, four-story office complex at West Main, Eighth and Fir streets. Two previous plans for the site fell apart for a variety of reasons.

The project will complement The Commons and the Lithia Motors headquarters to the north, adding new office space south of Main Street and contributing to the continuing revitalization of downtown.

Cheers — to the Rogue Outreach Center, which branched out this year from a drop-in center for middle school kids to an after-school enrichment program providing musical instruction — and instruments — to elementary school students in Rogue River, where music programs have fallen victim to budget cuts. With the help of local professional blues musicians, students last week learned the rudiments of playing blues harmonica, and each participant got a harmonica to keep.

The program also offers physical activity such as basketball and practical topics such as personal finance and anti-bullying.


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