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The ties that blind

Mail Tribune editorials

A court case over the tie worn for a Voters' Pamphlet photo is much ado

Oh, the troubles we've seen in Oregon. Too many wildfires. Too little school funding. And of course, the stars-and-stripes neckties.

You haven't heard?

Oregon gubernatorial candidate W. Ames Curtright of Jefferson wore a stars-and-stripes tie for his official Voters' Pamphlet photo for the May primary, only to have it digitally doctored to black at the Secretary of State's Office.

In response, the Oregon Republican Party sued Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, claiming candidates should have a right to wear patriotic ties and lapel pins in their photos. And charging that Bradbury's office too severely cropped Curtright's photo after requesting a photo showing hands, neck and shoulders.


We think Marion County judge Paul Lipscomb gauged the gravity of this issue accurately Wednesday when he appeared in court wearing a stars-and-stripes tie of his own, saying he couldn't resist the playful approach.

Now if others could see its merits as well.

The state, first, has made too much of what is essentially a non-issue by deciding it can and will remove stars and stripes from neckties. State law prohibits Voters' Pamphlet photos from showing the uniform or insignia of any organization, and the state's lawyers have decided flags fall into that category.

That's just weird. If Curtright can be accused of anything, it is of wanting to look patriotic. That might be an ineffective way to get elected, but why should it be illegal?

And what of Republicans' decision to march off to court in response to the tie-blackening? The phrase frivolous lawsuit came from claims like this one, which appears to be more a backward attempt to hurt Bradbury's Senate campaign by questioning his patriotism than a legitimate concern about politicians' neckwear.

Just about every issue raised here is negligible: the flag-themed ties, the injury to Curtright and the potential effect on any candidate of wearing or not wearing a certain tie for the Voters' Pamphlet photo.

Any chance we can move on to something that matters?

What's in a name?

Firefighting agencies in southwestern Oregon have renamed the huge Florence fire the Biscuit fire after getting a bunch of calls about confusion between the fire and the coastal city of the same name.

There was no compelling reason to leave the name of the fire as it was. The fire, after all, is 150 miles away from the city. Leaving it with the same name as the city of Florence caused unnecessary confusion and jeopardized the tourist season in Florence.

The fire was initially named after Florence Creek in the Siskiyou National Forest.

Fire agencies certainly could have been forgiven had they decided they had more important things to do than rename a fire. But to their credit, they did rename it.

The name change caused relief among Florence residents and merchants. City Council members and hotel managers had been swamped with calls from vacationers worried that the resort town had been engulfed in flames and thick smoke.

Nope. All the smoke and flame is in this direction. The residents of Florence can breathe easy for the time being.