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Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to small businesses, the backbone of the local economy and the focus of a new Mail Tribune series, "Buy Rogue Valley." It may seem counter-intuitive, but the struggling economy actually has helped local artisans, growers and manufacturers, as people increasingly look for value for their dollar, and buying locally produced goods is a way to do that. As chef-turned balsamic sauce maker Jay Krebsbach said in a Mail Tribune story Thursday, the economic downturn "causes everyone to pause reflect, concentrate and make better decisions on where and what they are spending their money on."

Jeers — to University of Oregon faculty and students who still can't seem to understand that they don't get to dictate higher education policy and personnel decisions. The campus is in an uproar over the dismissal of UO President Richard Lariviere, who angered the State Board of Higher Education and the Oregon University System's chancellor by pushing for autonomy for UO at the expense of other universities, lobbying the Legislature, giving raises to faculty and staff against the state board's direction and failing to come to some board meetings.

A faculty assembly on Wednesday passed motions calling for an independent board for the UO and a strong voice in choosing Lariviere's replacement and demanding the state board vote on University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner's contract by the end of the year. Private sector employees don't get consulted when an executive is fired, and neither do university faculty. That's now how the real world works.

Cheers — to the cleanup of an eyesore property on Gilman Road near the Medford airport. City officials had planned to pay for the work and place a lien on the property to recover the costs, but the new owner, bank trust, agreed to foot the bill. Four days of hard work by cleanup crews left the property looking much better, to the delight of neighbors who had complained about the mess for years.

Jeers — to members of the U.S. Senate, who voted Tuesday to keep a controversial provision that lets the military arrest terrorism suspects and detain them indefinitely without charge or trial. The provision is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, and Tuesday's vote defeated an amendment to remove it from the bill.

It's interesting to note that the prospect of military detention of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil without trial is opposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the Senate's most conservative members, and by the American Civil Liberties Union. And by the White House, which threatens to veto the bill. All but two Republicans voted to keep the provision, and 16 Democrats joined them. It's not entirely clear why.

All we know is, it doesn't sound like America to us.