fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

Get out of the mud

Editorials

Kulongoski and Mannix owe the voters a serious discussion on the state budget

You could make a good case about what we don't need in this year's gubernatorial campaign with the candidates' approaches to the race since winning their parties' nominations Tuesday.

Republican Kevin Mannix tells us that Democrat Ted Kulongoski represents the same old, same old liberalism and mushiness on specific issues.

— — — — — Scroll down for two guest opinions, as well as a commentary by the Mail Tribune's retiring Tempo editor, Cleve Twitchell. — — Kulongoski calls Mannix extreme and says he'll run a campaign of fear.

What we fear from this campaign is that the candidates will stay on the same track until November.

Have they overlooked the fact that while they gleefully take off the gloves to get down and dirty, much of Oregon is focused on how the state can come to grips with a budget deficit that appears larger by the day?

When economists release the new state budget forecast Tuesday, they expect it will outline a shortfall of as much as &

36;1 billion for the second half of the current budget period ' in other words, for the coming year.

That's right: &

36;1 billion.

Do legislators and the governor further chop away at schools and social services, the already-battered big spenders of state government? Do they raise taxes or impose a surcharge on our income taxes? Or is there a better solution yet to be suggested?

The candidates seem to imply that's the case, but neither has made clear exactly what he has in mind. Kulongoski came the closest to signaling a direction after the primary, saying legislators should temporarily increase income taxes.

But most of the talk so far has settled on other issues, including the many on which the pair disagree. That they hold conflicting views on almost everything, Kulongoski says, will provide for a good debate about Oregon.

That's all well and good. But the jousting about who's extreme, who's mushy and who's right on issues like abortion, crime and gay rights should come later. Oregonians need to know ' soon and in detail ' what the candidates think about the issue that will inevitably be at the top of the next governor's to-do list.

Whoever wins will have to navigate budget trouble for at least his first two years in office. Forecasters have predicted shortfalls in the next biennium of at least the seriousness Oregon faced this time around. This will be the new governor's big issue.

We need to know how he will approach school funding, social service requests and costly repairs to state roads and bridges. We need to know whether he will support having Oregonians pay higher taxes when the state is short of money. Kulongoski has vaguely suggested government could be made more efficient. We need to know, specifically, what he has in mind.

The six top gubernatorial candidates spent most of the primary avoiding the budget debate entirely. That's not an option here. The state's budget situation provides an unusual opportunity for voters to observe, on an issue that will be at the center of Oregon's future, how the candidates would lead.

We expect Kulongoski and Mannix to rise to the occasion instead of serving up a season of politics as usual.

Remember the day

As you take some well-earned time off for the long holiday weekend, we urge you to pause and reflect on why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor soldiers killed in the Civil War. Now, the last Monday in May honors all American soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country.

Please take a moment tomorrow to think of those men and women who sacrificed so much.

Guest opinion

Omaha Beach visit brings new respect for soldiers

I've spent much of my life with military types around me: My husband, Tom, was an Army lieutenant on the Demilitarized Zone in Korea in the '60s, my Dad fought in World War II and my father-in-law flew a C-47 during the D-Day invasion. Now my own son has become a Marine officer and, as a McGill University graduate in history, admires heroes such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Theodore Roosevelt.

I've kept my patriots in the closet; after all, I'm an Ashland liberal as well as an artist, activist and environmentalist. These things don't fit

the military picture.

But I'm a walking contradiction. Check out my favorite films:

El Salvador and Memphis Belle. Knee-jerk liberalism annoys me, but I also can't stand the false patriotism following the events of Sept. 11.

Life is complicated.

But during a recent visit to Normandy's Omaha Beach, I experienced a sudden enlightenment, as Jack Kerouac did in Satori in Paris. He'd traveled to Brittany to trace his ancestry and confront the meaning of his life, but I don't know if the beat poet would have approved of my quest: I have a new respect for soldiering now.

A wave of sorrow cut through me as I stared at the stretch of dazzling, reddish-colored sand at Normandy. Something was incongruous about so many infantrymen dying on such a strand. It is so beautiful, the channel's rolling surf too inviting. I expected a dark, Gothic place, perhaps influenced by years of viewing black and white Robert Capra-esque photos of the D-Day invasion.

Little is left on the beach to remind one of what took place there. Just a few forlorn and rusted markers sit on the bluff above. The French-built German bunkers are full of garbage and covered with grass and dirt.

But the U.S. Veterans Cemetery looms overhead and is strangely comforting. It is beautifully maintained, home to 10,000 white crosses that march across the green-grassed slope and, in unending rows, blinds one's eyes. This cemetery ' and not just Omaha's but those at Arlington, Flanders or Kanchanburi, Thailand ' should be required study for every high school student. How young the soldiers are who lie there above the beach. So many unmarked graves.

Seeing the Holocaust photos in the Peace Museum in nearby Caen in Normandy reminded me why we'd fought. We avoided World War II until we were forced to and the Brits still blame us for letting them endure the Blitz alone. A woman I met on the ferry from Dover was forgiving but remindful: Stop waiting for the world to affect you before you come to help. We're allies, you know.

In recent times, after years of terrorist attacks on embassies or battleships in foreign ports, we've been cautious, reluctant again to enter battle. I guess we feel that now, enough is enough. I myself doubt if we can stop anything with military might. New terrorist attacks threaten and it is difficult to imagine what diverse troops in Afghanistan or the Philippines can do to stop them. Instead, it seems like pay-back time for centuries of colonization, exploitation, and expropriation of foreign lands. Who thought we'd get off without paying a price?

But now, despite his mother's hesitation, my son is entering the fray.

He goes not only for patriotism. He looks for physical and mental challenge, fed up with cell phones, dot-commers and sedentary pop culture. Henry V's band of brothers calls him, and I wish him well. The cause is not only to stop al-Quaida, just as during World War II it was not solely about keeping Hitler back. It didn't then, nor does it now, have to do with individuals, politics or morality.

My son respects the old platoon spirit: Never ask a man to do something you wouldn't do nor leave a friend behind. This esprit de corps is missing from contemporary culture. There are few rites of passage for our youth now and I worry about how they will feel as old men.

I learned this all in Normandy. The stories I heard ' what tales they are: an officer reciting The Shooting of Dan McGrew, boosting morale as his men stormed the beach. Brave Rangers climbing the 100-foot-high cliffs with nets at Pointe du Hoc; with 60 percent casualties, they still took out the German batteries. My own father-in-law dropping paratroopers on the Cotentin; almost felled by German flak, he didn't even tell me about it until just a while ago.

I hadn't realized what had happened at Omaha Beach. The memory of D-Day has washed away in the surging surf. A few old vets visit there, but for how much longer will they come?

Tom Brokaw's greatest generation are true legends in a time, now, when even carriers of United Parcel Service, in the hoopla after 9-11, are depicted in television commercials as heroes. Perhaps my son will have a chance to do these D-Day soldiers justice.

Thank you, vets, and please watch over him.

Susan Lloyd of Ashland teaches photography at Southern Oregon University. She is writer and a maker of documentary films.

Guest opinion

We need hard facts and tough decisions WILLIAM G. CARTER

OK, the voters rejected Measure 13. Sen. Lenn Hannon accurately says there aren't enough drinkers and smokers in the state to balance the budget on them. Gov. John Kitzhaber speaks of a one-time income tax surcharge, acknowledging that isn't a permanent fix. No-tax pledger Mannix now says a tax increase would be OK only if they refer it to the voters, but provides no details.

Our school superintendents are unanimous ' find the money or we will in effect be closing down. There will be another legislative special session in June, convening the good folks who brought all this to pass in the first place.

Oregon's traditional, stable school funding source was the property tax, whereby school needs, budgets and levies were determined locally. It was a system that worked well for generations.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a coalition of tax protesters and retired newcomers with grown children were instrumental in passing Measure 5, eliminating the property tax as the primary source of school funding. This transferred responsibility for schools to the state, the main revenue source for which is the income tax.

Businesses and corporations, not wanting to lose the game of musical chairs, contributed heavily to friendly legislators to assure income tax breaks for business.

The third of the big three revenue options is the sales tax, and thus far, the voters, undoubtedly including many California and Washington transplants, have rejected that idea. the way, have you ever wondered how much those summer tourists from our neighboring states, accustomed to sales taxes, could leave with us if we just let them?

So what to do? I have a radical proposal ' gather some facts. For example, we now know that, contrary to tax protester claims, we pay less in per-capita state taxes than most other states ' we're 37th.

But another problem is even getting honest information. A recent Oregonian article explains that the current gridlock is due to legislators' fears that virtually anything they do is fair game for a future hit piece. We've just experienced several weeks of grayed-out, slow-motion commercials with the ironic voice-over, generally misstating the opponent's record.

State Sen. Peter Courtney says the way we campaign against each other today is the major reason why the legislative process is struggling. Perhaps these are not the best people to designate to ask hard questions and get truthful answers.

Here is my two-bits' worth. Pass the one-time income tax surcharge to get us out of the current crisis. Concurrently, appoint a commission, free of politicians and lobbyists, with sufficient funding for a staff of technicians (economists, budget experts, demographers, actuaries) to collect information needed to make some reasoned choices.

The questions should include:

Proportionally, how much less are corporations and businesses paying now than they were, in, say, the 1970s?

Same question for real property owners.

How much of a (grocery exempt) sales tax would it take to put the budget on a stable, predictable basis? How much would out-of-staters contribute to this?

Would a rearrangement of our tax structure really hurt business, or would a stable state budget, well-funded schools, work on roads and bridges and a smoothly running social service system actually encourage businesses to locate here? Would it stimulate the economy by creating new jobs?

If answers to these and other questions were obtained, and the results widely discussed, the public, instead of being harangued and turned off by childish charges and counter-charges, might be more engaged, and could make some intelligent decisions.

William G. Carter is a Medford attorney.

Commentary

You're no dummy if you don't get newspaper lingo Editor's note:

Mail Tribune editor and columnist Cleve Twitchell is retiring this month after more than 40 years with the paper. This is the second of three columns on his recollections of newspapering in the Rogue Valley.

CLEVE TWITCHELL

Mail Tribune

Just about every profession has its special lingo, words and phrases that would be meaningless to outsiders. The newspaper field is no exception.

Some expressions can seem quite humorous to the general public. And some don't mean what you might think.

— — — — — For a feature story about Cleve Twitchell, see the Life section of the Mail Tribune's Web site for Sunday, May 26. — — One time, I heard an editor tell someone on the phone, I've turned down that picture.

Did that mean he declined to publish it?

Wrong.

To turn down a photo, in those days, meant to turn it ' or send it ' downstairs from the second story newsroom to the folks on the first floor who would process it and put it in the paper.

You might have been puzzled to pick up the telephone and hear a voice say, We need some more 32s and 35s.

In the 1960s, certain sizes of headlines were assigned numbers so that you didn't have to remember any other specific details.

A 32 was a short story, two to four paragraphs, with a 1-column, 2-line headline set in type about a third of an inch deep.

A 35 was similar, only smaller.

Both were used as fillers.

On other occasions, the phone would ring and a voice would simply say, Send me some numbers.

The caller was a man whose job involved setting wire stories in type. Each wire story had its own number.

Sometimes the fellow who called would hit a slow time in the morning. Instead of waiting for crunch time, he'd try to get a head start on setting stories that were likely to be used in the paper that day. Hence the request, which meant give me the numbers of some stories you will probably use.

Let's dump that story now was an expression heard in the newsroom until just a few years ago.

Did that mean to kill it?

No. To dump a story meant to dump it out of the computer so that it could be pasted up on a page and published.

You might feel insulted if someone asked you, How's the dummy today?

Don't worry. That word has a different meaning among newspaper folks.

The dummy is a replica of a newspaper page. It usually shows where the advertisements have been placed, so that the copy editors know exactly what space they have available for stories and photos.

The word is also used as a verb, as in I've gotta dummy that page by 8 p.m., meaning the layout must be completed by that hour.

With advances in the electronic era, computers and all that, the days of the word dummy may be numbered.

Computer advances did do away with another form of journalistic language you used to see around the Mail Tribune, and elsewhere.

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, wire service stories arrived by teletype machine. Stories were printed on paper, one at a time.

Today, they magically arrive in one's computer, hundreds at a time.

During the teletype era, wire service bureaus and client newspapers communicated by sending messages in between stories.

A mix of abbreviated English, slang and acronyms was used. I gave it a name wirese.

Guv's MF stam meant the governor's Medford statement.

Pox meant police.

If an editor felt a story did not make sense, he or she might message Ure stry unreads. Pls upfix.

We were affiliated with United Press International at the time, and I had a four-letter identification, CT/MF, meaning, of course, Cleve Twitchell, Medford.

MF makes sense as an abbreviation for Medford. Some other UPI designations had a more circuitous explanation.

Salem was known as GP, so named for the late George Putnam, who was editor and publisher of the Salem Capital Journal for many years (prior to which he was the first editor and publisher of the Mail Tribune).

And Portland was JO, named for the Oregon Journal which was the UPI newspaper in Portland at the time (it later merged with the Oregonian).

Some wirese lingers.

To this day, if I am taking notes and need to write Portland I put JO.

It's short, and I know what it means.

Reach editor and columnist Cleve Twitchell at 776-4486, or e-mail