The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 20, 2017, Page 4A, Image 4

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Founded in 1873
DAVID F. PERO, Publisher & Editor
LAURA SELLERS, Managing Editor
BETTY SMITH, Advertising Manager
CARL EARL, Systems Manager
JOHN D. BRUIJN, Production Manager
DEBRA BLOOM, Business Manager
Congress should
reinvest in our
national parks
ipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate
in March to start catching up with a shameful $12
billion deferred-maintenance backlog in our national
parks — the National Park Service Legacy Act, co-sponsored
by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
We all should take time to encourage federal lawmakers and
the president to support this long overdue reinvestment in these
assets of premier national importance.
Locally, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park has
nearly $1.5 million in overdue work to restore and maintain a
bistate complex of facilities key to understanding America’s
westward expansion and the ancient civilizations disrupted by
our arrival. A result of intense involvement by local residents,
helped by the Oregon and Washington state congressional dele-
gations in the years surrounding the 2005-06 expedition bicen-
tennial, Lewis and Clark should not have to languish until the
tricentennial before again receiving the in-depth attention it
Elsewhere in Oregon, Crater Lake National Park currently
requires $84 million to catch up with the 21st century. The
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument needs $1.6 million.
Nez Perce National Historical Park has the smallest to-do list,
a not-inconsiderable $133,000. Washington state, with substan-
tially more national park assets than Oregon, has more than
$500 million in work that ought to have been part of routine
federal budgeting.
Like neglected dogs
This must become a top national priority. We simply aren’t
fulfilling our responsibility to future generations when we treat
these assets like neglected dogs to be chained outside and for-
gotten. As we observed years ago, weeds and duct-tape may be
more truthful symbols of our nation’s parks than shaggy bears
and wild ducks.
There’s plenty of blame to go around — not least the good
intentions that lead Congress to designate new parks, but
without forming a tangible plan for keeping them up. Our
still-growing nation needs to set aside recreational and heritage
lands for future generations, but it’s irresponsible to keep add-
ing to parks if we’re unwilling to pay for upkeep.
This has been a matter of local concern for decades. In
February 2007, when the maintenance backlog stood at $5 bil-
lion, we favorably commented on President George W. Bush’s
Centennial Initiative to resolve the problem before the 100th
birthday of the National Park Service in 2016. Aiming to raise
$2 billion via private donations and matching federal funds,
it ended up generating less than 1/20th that sum. It was wish-
ful thinking. Funding essential park functions with donations
was “an illusion,” a congressman commented at the time. “Our
national parks are national treasures — and their funding is a
national responsibility,” he said.
Fantasy of private funds
So what’s different about the new Senate legislation? It
doesn’t rely on the fantasy of private funds for parks, but does
encourage private-public collaborations. Private firms might,
for example, be tasked with staffing park entry booths, freeing
rangers to care for parklands and help visitors enjoy them.
It sets up an earmarked account, appropriately funded with
revenues from oil, gas, coal and mineral extraction from fed-
eral lands. Eighty percent would go to repairs and rehabilita-
tion. Twenty percent would pay for park roads, bridges and
tunnels. Discretionary spending and land acquisition would not
get any of this money.
President Donald Trump and new Secretary of the Interior
Ryan Zinke, formerly a Montana congressman, are fans of
national parks. This week, Zinke noted a record 331 million
visits were made to park facilities in 2016, producing $34.9 bil-
lion for the U.S. economy — $2.9 billion more than in 2015.
National parks supported 318,000 U.S. jobs last year, he said.
“In the coming years, we will look at ways to make inno-
vative investments in our parks to enhance visitor experiences
and improve our aging infrastructure,” Zinke said.
But we don’t need to wait for “coming years.” The National
Park Service Legacy Act is the tool we need today, a way
to support many more jobs through reconstruction of obso-
lete park highways, bridges and other aging infrastructure like
sewer and water systems. “These would be American jobs.
American jobs to help restore our parks and help local commu-
nities — it’s hard to beat that,” according to the Pew Charitable
Not everything needs to result in conflict. If we can’t all
enthusiastically support national parks, just what can we sup-
port? Let’s get behind this initiative for the sake of our children
and grandchildren.
One hundred days of horror
New York Times News Service
ith Donald Trump’s
100th day in office fast
approaching, White
House staffers are reportedly trying
desperately to “rebrand” the colossal
failure of the first 100 days as some
kind of success.
Trump’s legislative agenda has
been stymied. The
drip, drip, drip of
negative news about
connections between
campaign associates
and Russia — and
Russia’s efforts to
affect our election
— continues unabated. He seems to
have no real strategy for governance
other than pouting and gloating. His
advisers are at each other’s throats.
And the public has soured on him to
a historic degree.
His failures so far, I suppose,
should bring resisters like me some
modicum of joy, but I must confess
that they don’t. Or, more precisely,
if they do, that joy is outweighed by
the rolling litany of daily horrors that
Trump has inflicted.
The horrors are both consuming
and exhausting. For me at this point
they center on an erosion of equal-
ity. This by no means downplays
Trump’s incessant lying, the outrage
of him draining the Treasury for his
personal junkets, or his disturbing
turn toward war. But somewhat
below the radar, or at least with
less fanfare, our access, inclusion
and justice are being assailed by a
man who lied on the campaign trail
promising to promote them.
As a candidate, Trump blasted
Jeb Bush, who while answering a
question about defunding Planned
Parenthood suggested that the
federal government had overfunded
women’s health care.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,”
Trump prattled to Mika Brzezinski:
“The women’s health issue, which
Jeb Bush so amazingly blew about
four or five days ago when he said
‘no money going to women’s health
issues’ or essentially that. With
me, Mika, I would be the best for
women, the best for women’s health
Well, last week that very same
man quietly signed legislation
“aimed at cutting off federal funding
to Planned Parenthood and other
groups that perform abortions,”
according to the New York Times.
As The Times explained, the bill
would allow state and local govern-
ments to withhold “federal funding
for family planning services related
to contraception, sexually transmit-
ted infections, fertility, pregnancy
care, and breast and cervical cancer
screening from qualified health pro-
viders — regardless of whether they
also performed abortions.”
As a candidate, Trump claimed
to be a better friend to the LGBT
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump waves as he walks with first lady Melania
Trump during the inauguration parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in
Washington, D.C., in January.
community than Hillary Clinton,
tweeting of that community “I will
fight for you,” and saying during
an interview on NBC’s “Today”
show that transgender people should
“use the bathroom that they feel is
He seems to
have no real
strategy for
other than
pouting and
As president, his administration
rescinded Obama-era protections
for transgender students in public
schools that allowed them to use
bathrooms that correspond with their
gender identity.
As a candidate, Trump disparag-
ingly chided black voters with the
question, “What the hell do you have
to lose?” and issued a “New Deal for
Black America” in which he prom-
ised: “We will apply the law fairly,
equally and without prejudice. There
will be only one set of rules — not a
two-tiered system of justice.”
As president, his Justice
Department has dropped its objec-
tion to a racially discriminatory
Texas voter ID law. Just last week
Time reported: “A judge ruled for
a second time Monday that Texas’
strict voter ID law was intentionally
crafted to discriminate against
minorities, which follows another
court finding evidence of racial
gerrymandering in how Republican
lawmakers drew the state’s election
This Justice Department has also
“rescinded a 6-month-old Obama
administration directive that sought
to curtail the government’s use of
private prisons,” as reported by NBC
News, and “ordered a sweeping
review of federal agreements with
dozens of law enforcement agen-
cies, an examination that reflects
President Trump’s emphasis on law
and order and could lead to a retreat
on consent decrees with troubled
police departments nationwide,” as
The Times reported.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
said Thursday that consent decrees
“can reduce morale of the police
Furthermore, the Washington
Post reported last week that Sessions
had appointed Steven H. Cook to be
one of his top lieutenants, noting:
“Law enforcement officials say that
Sessions and Cook are preparing
a plan to prosecute more drug and
gun cases and pursue mandatory
minimum sentences. The two men
are eager to bring back the national
crime strategy of the 1980s and ‘90s
from the peak of the drug war, an
approach that had fallen out of favor
in recent years as minority commu-
nities grappled with the effects of
mass incarceration.”
The clock is being turned back.
Vulnerable populations are under
relentless attack by this administra-
tion. This is a war, and that is not
hyperbole or exaggeration. While
folks are hoping that some Russia-
related revelation will emerge from
the darkness to bring this adminis-
tration to a calamitous conclusion,
the administration is busy rebuilding
and reinforcing the architecture of
oppression in plain sight.
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