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Local editorials

Now is the time for leadership

Give the governor credit for honesty, but he should step up, not step aside

Give Gov. Ted Kulongoski top marks for realism in his proposed schools budget. Give him a B-plus, at least, for his dedication to being practical with Oregonians' money. But get out the red pencil when it's time to talk Kulongoski and leadership.

Give the governor an 'I' for his incomplete approach to governing.

That's what Oregon seems to get too often from Kulongoski's office: incomplete leadership. As it finds its way to a new biennial budget this spring, the state needs a passionate voice from the top. Kulongoski's, it seems, tends to detachment instead.

The latest example came Monday, when the governor issued a report required every two years on the progress of Oregon schools. The &

36;5 billion he has proposed spending on schools in 2005-2007, he said, is &

36;300 million short of what schools need to do what they do now. If the Legislature gives his plan a thumbs up, he acknowledged, it will mean some combination of a narrower curriculum, fewer school days in a year, more kids per classroom and less help for students with special needs.

Kulongoski has said repeatedly that Oregonians need to hear and understand the truth about the state's financial picture, and he's right. He's right to lay it out in black and white, and he's smart to keep his promise to avoid new taxes while working to improve government's credibility.

So what's our beef? That the governor finds it so simple to repeatedly deliver the message without also doing anything at all to lead Oregon where he knows it needs to go.

— Leadership isn't just laying out the facts and then stepping back into the shadows to wait for others to take action. Education is critical to everything else that happens in Oregon, and the governor's role in it should be greater than issuing a report or two and moving out of the Legislature's way.

Kulongoski has an opportunity and a responsibility to set a tone for the state, to be Oregon's top booster for a positive direction even as he acknowledges the reality of the state's finances. He should be the inspirer, the motivator, the challenger. He should be the voice in legislators' heads that won't quiet down until they've done their best for education.

Come June, the outcome might be just as it would have been otherwise. Who knows?

But maybe with some leadership from the top, we'd get a glimpse of the Oregon we'd all rather see.

Prepare for tsunamis

Senators from some of the states that are susceptible to tsunamis introduced a bill Monday that would upgrade the nation's tsunami warning system.

We urge Oregon's congressional delegation to support the measure, too. Our coastline is vulnerable to major seismic activity, and hence to tsunamis.

California and Alaska have faced tsunamis and major earthquakes in recent times. The closest to the Rogue Valley was a tsunami that wiped out much of Crescent City, Calif., after the Alaska earthquake of 1964.

The bill would expand a Bush administration plan to erect a tsunami warning system to protect the Pacific and Atlantic coasts by 2007, upgrade tsunami detection and warning on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, expand tsunami research and require the federal government to immediately repair malfunctioning tsunami buoys.

This bill is important to the coastal states. Although scientists don't expect another major tsunami for many years, the reality is that one could happen tomorrow. We must be ready.