Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to withdrawn measures; down to FCC study, GOP infighting

Cheers — to the withdrawal of a dozen potential ballot measures that could have reignited the political battle between public employee unions and anti-union groups. Gov. John Kitzhaber convinced sponsors of the measures to back down and instead work with his office to find a compromise on tax reform. The union-backed measures would have increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy; the competing measures would have barred unions from using members' payroll-deducted dues for political purposes and eliminated a requirement that union-represented workers pay dues. Tax refom efforts have a poor track record in Oregon, but avoiding a pitched battle over politically motivated ballot measures is a plus in our book.

Jeers — to the boneheaded idea that the Federal Communications Commission should survey broadcast journalists about how they decide what to cover and ask them whether they ever had disagreements with management over coverage decisions. The FCC is required to report to Congress periodically on barriers to entry in the communications marketplace faced by entrepreneurs and small businesses. How that morphed into a study that raised the specter or government interference with freedom of the press is a mystery.

Cheers — to Rep. Greg Walden, among others, for denouncing the FCC study and demanding that it be scrapped. Walden, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, was one of several voices denouncing the study. In response, the FCC first announced it was suspending the study and then canceled it altogether.

Jeers — to plans by a handful of Oregon conservative leaders to skip the annual Dorchester Conference held by Republicans in part because organizers plan to discuss same-sex marriage. Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said she and other conservatives felt "punched in the nose and poked in the eye" by plans to debate gay marriage and by a promotional video in which Dorchester founder Bob Packwood says his "favorite moment" was when attendees voted to oppose a ban on abortion.

Atteberry, Jack Louman of Oregon Family Council and Kevin Mannix of Common Sense for Oregon say they will hold a "Freedom Rally" in Clackamas while Dorchester is taking place in Seaside. At a time when the tea party movement is losing support nationally and the Oregon Republican Party is trying to regroup after a string of losses in statewide races, further division is hardly helpful.

Cheers — to Southern Oregon University faculty members for agreeing to forgo cost-of-living raises in their new contract. Faculty members said they hope the savings will help the university avoid some academic cuts that otherwise might occur through the "retrenchment" process now under way. Congratulations to a group of educators willing to share the burden of tough economic times.


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