Thumbs up to Brown, down to Breidenthal
Cheers — to Gov. Kate Brown for calling on federal authorities to step up efforts to end the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by armed militants. Brown had been quiet about the standoff, and federal authorities were taking a careful, measured approach to avoid escalating the situation and risking a violent confrontation. But the militants have reportedly increased their illegal activity, issuing threats to refuge employees, hacking into government computers and plowing new roads on sensitive refuge land. The governor says she plans to bill the federal government for enforcement costs to the state that now stand at half a million dollars. Maybe that will get their attention.
Jeers — to Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal who is trying to blame County Administrator Danny Jordan for ordering the county auditor to file the complaint that led to a state investigation, even though he insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing. At the same time, Breidenthal has declared he is "ecstatic" at the investigation because it will avoid the perception that anything is being "swept under the rug." That statement would be more convincing if he had disclosed the donations he received in the first place.
Cheers and jeers — to the Grants Pass City Council. Cheers for putting on hold a policy that could have barred individuals from council meetings for up to two months at a time for disruptive behavior. Jeers for voting to adopt such a policy in the first place. Public bodies shouldn't have to put up with people who disrupt meetings, and they don't: Such individuals are asked to leave and removed if they don't comply. But barring them from future meetings is excessive and — as a court ruled in a similar situation in Portland — violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.
Cheers — to a major technical education grant to the Southern Oregon Education Service District, in collaboration with Medford and Grants Pass schools, ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum and the Malheur Education Service District. The $500,000 grant will outfit manufacturing labs at Grants Pass and both Medford high schools and establish two mobile labs that will circulate to middle and elementary schools throughout the area. Students will have access to 3-D printers, welders, laser cutters, plasma cutters and drones, introducing them to cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that will help prepare them for jobs in the field.