Cheers — to the local financial service firm that will consolidate its four offices into new digs when it finishes remodeling the Mary Phipps building overlooking the new park blocks at The Commons. The decision by Jennifer and Derek Davis, owners of SkyOak Wealth Management, to take "a little chance" on downtown Medford's renaissance is good news. Coupled with Lithia Motors' remodeling of the Monarch building, the SkyOak move will add to the growth of Medford's core and should encourage other businesses to follow its lead.
Cheers — to the Medford Jazz Festival's Instruction in the Classroom program, which is providing a guitar class at Central Medford High School, a vibraphone and percussion class at McLoughlin Middle School and a music class at the county's Juvenile Detention Center. Studies have shown repeatedly that students who learn music do better in academic subjects and music opportunities can keep students in school who otherwise might drop out. Public schools have struggled to keep music instruction going, and any help a community group such as the Jazz Festival can provide is welcome.
Jeers — to President Obama, whose administration is criticized in a new report by a journalism group as the most aggressive since Richard Nixon's in preventing the free flow of information to news reporters and to the public. Former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr., who wrote the report for the Committee to Protect Journalists, noted the administration has prosecuted six government employees and two contractors on felony charges of leaking classified information. Before Obama, there had been three such prosecutions in U.S. history.
For a president who took office pledging to run the most transparent administration ever, Obama has been a tremendous disappointment in that regard.
Cheers — to a $160,000 federal grant that will fund a full-time advocate to help domestic and sexual violence victims navigate the court system as their accused abusers are prosecuted.
One of the biggest obstacles to holding abusers responsible for their actions is the fear and confusion of victims who don't know how the criminal justice system works and are intimidated by the process. Officials of the Victim's Assistance Program at the Jackson County District Attorney's Office said the advocate position would have been cut without the grant.
Cheers — to a $3 million grant to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival from longtime patron Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The money will support plays, marketing efforts, and maintenance and restoration of buildings at the festival. The latest grant brings the Allen foundation's support over the years to $11 million.