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We need action from lawmakers


Dwindling police patrols, bulging classes are not the Oregon we want

We hear plenty about Oregon's budget cuts. Usually the news is easy enough to ignore. We've heard a lot of it before, or we think we have. We stick the new stuff with the old, like stacks of paperwork whose contents have lost their significance.

Then there are the facts that push the real ugliness of the situation back into the open, where it's exposed for all to see. We realize anew that there is real hurt in the reductions, and that the hurt has spread to services valued by nearly all Oregonians, not just those liberal with the checkbook.

Examples? This newspaper reported Sunday that the Oregon State Police has about 300 officers to patrol the state today, roughly half as many as it had 25 years ago. Fewer than 50 patrol Southern Oregon freeways and highways, a region that includes everything south of Eugene. That's 50 officers to cover seven days, 22 hours a day for an area that's the size of many states. One officer per shift is common, a State Police official told the newspaper.

Then on Tuesday a story detailed the preliminary sizes of some classes in the Medford district as students prepared to head back to school. The information was anecdotal but real: 38 kids in a fourth-grade class, 35 second-graders to a room. A teacher with 219 students to supervise, up about 30 percent. Classes where students will sit in folding chairs instead of at desks. Concerns about whether some classes would be so large they would violate building codes written for safety.

Reasonable people can disagree about the details of the state budget, but we don't think these examples represent the Oregon anybody wants to see.

We don't think they represent the Oregon anybody should have to endure any longer.

— As legislators get ready to head back to Salem for the session that begins in January, Oregonians need some assurance that they won't simply spend another half year pretending to do our business.

We don't need party posturing, and we don't need attempts to sidetrack the entire body on non-issues. We need thoughtful solutions that make the best of the money we have, and we need plans that lead Oregon in a positive direction for the future.

We may forget that from time to time as the bad budget news drones on. Then the facts jump out at us and make it clear all over again.

Pay attention

Physicians want people to pay better attention to their physical well-being lest they end up in the same or similar plight as former president Bill Clinton, who on Monday had a quadruple bypass operation.

The Associated Press earlier this week described the former president as an active, jogging, jovial time bomb ' close to a heart attack and possibly death despite years of topnotch health care.

Cardiovascular diseases are still the leading causes of death for both men and women. Half the time a heart attack is the first sign of problems. With all the information available about heart disease, it should be diagnosed sooner.

The AP story noted that Clinton is male, over 50, with a family history of heart disease ' all uncontrollable risk factors. He also smoked cigars, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was overweight. The two risk factors he didn't have were diabetes and lack of exercise.

As one researcher said, heart disease is an equal opportunity killer. It is incumbent on all of us to pay attention to the risk factors that accompany it.