A4 THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, AuguST 17, 2019 OPINION email@example.com KARI BORGEN Publisher JIM VAN NOSTRAND Editor Founded in 1873 JEREMY FELDMAN Circulation Manager JOHN D. BRUIJN Production Manager CARL EARL Systems Manager OUR VIEW Finally, Warrenton says ‘enough is enough’ Mayor signals restraint, stresses self-determination A t last. Mayor Henry Balen- sifer’s recent “state of Warrenton” address was certainly a breath of fresh air. For more than two decades, observers on the North Coast have been watching zip code 97146 mushroom into a cluster of con- crete and big-box stores. Years ago, there was a rather cynical saying that observers used to mutter when previous commis- sions and managers at City Hall embraced unchecked growth — “They didn’t meet a development they didn’t like.” Perhaps that’s a little harsh. But there is no doubting that Warren- ton was open for business, and it grew and grew. Unlike everywhere else on the North Coast, which saw modest or minor growth, that com- munity doubled in size between the past two two census counts. And while a much bigger Costco and a new Walmart added to the tax base and lured shoppers to boost the economy, the associated development plus the growth of the residential areas has put a sig- nificant strain on services. Prior administrations allowed entire neighborhoods to be built with no street lighting, narrow roads and no thought of how they would grow. And all this has happened with- out significant extra help at City Hall to guide the way. It is no wonder that Balensifer is willing to take the political heat and cry “enough!” “It’s high time Warrenton asks for better,” he said. “It’s time we invest in ourselves, not for others but for our own sakes.” Seeking to enhance quality of Colin Murphey/The Astorian Walmart employees celebrate the opening of the store in Warrenton. Nicole Bales/The Astorian Traffic congestion has been an issue at the new Wendy’s in Warrenton. life and reconnect people to War- renton’s past, city leaders plan to declare heritage districts to com- memorate the historic towns and neighborhoods that dissolved to form modern-day Warrenton. The first will be in Hammond, which old-timers have always proudly maintained is a community with a character all of its own. They hope changes at the marina and infra- structure improvements will inject fresh energy into the downtown. In the last 30 years in the west- ern states, successful and for- ward-looking communities have adopted a strategy that develop- ment charges and other provisions should put the burden of the costs of growth on private developers, not on city or county governments. But too many cities, blinded by the prospect of jobs and potential extra tax revenue, have failed to grasp this. And they have been the ones to count the cost. It is pleasing that Balensifer and colleagues are now consid- ering that “growth should pay for growth” is a mantra worth embracing. While commending the mayor for his courage and insight, we sin- cerely hope his colleagues on the commission and others who care about Warrenton join him. It is a positive change of direc- tion and we hope Warrentonians will play their part to help make it happen. OTHER VIEWS Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers Mail Tribune, on state procedures for issuing driver’s licenses B ill Greenstein’s lawsuit alleging the state of Oregon wrongly issued a driver’s license to the repeat drunk driver who killed his wife is now settled. What’s not settled is whether Oregon is still issuing licenses without obtaining the driving records of out-of-state applicants, five years after the horrific crash that took Karen Greenstein’s life. Karen Greenstein was on her way home from a late shift as an emergency dispatcher when a man driving the wrong way on Interstate 5 slammed into the driver’s side of her car at 3 a.m. March 27, 2014, near Phoenix. Richard Webster Scott Jr.’s blood alcohol level was two and a half to three times the legal limit in the hours after the crash. In 2016, a jury sentenced Scott to nearly 12 years in prison. In his lawsuit, Bill Greenstein argued the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services office failed to check Scott’s driving record in California before issuing him a license. If it had done so, the suit argued, the DMV would have learned that Scott had five con- victions for driving under the influence of intoxicants, and his license was suspended and revoked. In its response to the lawsuit, the state said its computer systems were not able to obtain full driving records for individu- als applying for regular licenses, and Cali- fornia won’t release that information with- out a legal document such as a subpoena. Bill Greenstein argued that’s not true, and furthermore, Oregon law bars the DMV from issuing a license to anyone with a sus- pended or revoked license. DMV spokesman David House said he could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, even after it was settled, but he confirmed that department policy is not to issue a license until the applicant resolves any suspension or revocation in another state. House also said the multi-state sys- tem the DMV uses, called the Problem Driver Pointer System, is less extensive than the system used for commercial driv- er’s licenses, but it does list drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked. Without an official comment from the DMV — which is typical when a law- suit is involved — it’s impossible to say with certainty whether the state knew Scott was ineligible for a license and issued one anyway. But the state did settle the case for $500,000 — the maximum dam- ages allowed by law. Draw your own conclusions. What is certain is that no one with five DUII convictions should be issued a license to drive in this state or any other. The state’s assertion in the lawsuit that Scott would have driven anyway was a lame excuse. That makes about as much sense as saying perpetrators of mass shootings will get guns one way or another, so there is no point in expanding background checks. If the DMV has not taken steps to improve its system of checking out-of-state driving records in the five years since Karen Greenstein’s tragic death, there can be no excuse. Corvallis Gazette-Times, on governor’s vetoes G ov. Kate Brown whittled down her list of prospective vetoes to just a pair of line items last week, and ended up allowing a bill of consider- able interest to rural Oregonians to stand, in addition to a bill that will allow work to proceed on a project to replace dams in Newport. Whether her actions mark the unofficial start of a campaign to reach out to that part of Oregon that’s not the Portland metro area remains to be seen. Friday was the governor’s deadline to veto bills passed by the 2019 legislative ses- sion. Earlier last week, as the state constitu- tion requires, Brown identified the bills that she was considering vetoing. One of the bills, House Bill 2437, was supported by the Oregon Farm Bureau and farmers throughout the state. The legislation says farmers would need to give notice that they were going to clear an irrigation ditch, but would not need a permit unless they planned to move more than 3,000 cubic yards of material over a five-year period — a 60-fold increase from the current thresh- old of 50 cubic yards. The bill allows the material to be dumped in wetlands. The bill was the result of a lengthy group process that included legislators (both Dem- ocrats and Republicans), county commis- sioners, farmers, state agencies and some conservationists, who were looking to add clarity to a process that often left farm- ers scratching their heads about what they needed to do to keep their irrigation ditches clean. In a letter explaining her decision to sign the bill, Brown said that the “cur- rent system is completely unworkable and unused.” Still, Brown offered a peace offering or two to the conservationists who opposed the bill on grounds that it undermined the state’s efforts to protect wetlands — and who were outraged when she backed off her threat to veto the bill. “There is a possibility this bill goes too far,” Brown wrote in her signing letter. But one of the factors she said persuaded her to sign the measure was the collabora- tive nature of the group that crafted the bill. “Collaborative problem-solving is the Ore- gon way,” the governor wrote. (On a some- what more down-to-earth note, she added that the legislation requires analysis and reporting to the Legislature on removal-fill activities on Oregon agricultural land, and she noted — reasonably — that such infor- mation could help inform the development of best practices down the road.) We also were gratified to see Brown back off an earlier threat to veto a $4 mil- lion appropriation in state funds for a new dam in Newport. The city of Newport gets its drinking water for reservoirs created by two dams that could fail in an earthquake. Brown had said she wanted to wait for a statewide analysis, but there’s no doubt that the Newport dams would have landed at or near the top of any list of the state’s most at-risk dams. With local officials hoping to use the state appropriation to leverage fed- eral money, there was no need to wait any longer on this project. The governor has plenty of work ahead to repair her tattered relations with rural Oregon. But her decision to ease off on these veto threats is a small step in the right direction. As for a bill that we had hoped the gov- ernor would block, Senate Bill 761, it never showed up on the list of measures she was considering vetoing and it has yet to appear on the list of bills she’s signed. This is the bill that the Legislature slid through near the chaotic end of the session that essentially makes it harder (possibly much harder) for voters to put an initiative on the ballot. Our guess now is that the bill will become law without the governor’s signature, and that’s a shame.