The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, August 17, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page 4, Image 4

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THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, AuguST 17, 2019
Founded in 1873
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Finally, Warrenton says ‘enough is enough’
Mayor signals restraint,
stresses self-determination
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
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
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
Selected editorials from
Oregon newspapers
Mail Tribune,
on state procedures for
issuing driver’s licenses
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
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
Corvallis Gazette-Times,
on governor’s vetoes
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
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
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
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.