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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (March 28, 2017)
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Founded October 16, 1875
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Regional Advertising Director
Business Office Manager
Port weighs container
There may be hope yet for the Port
of Portland’s container operation,
which has been in mothballs for two
The demise of Terminal 6 is
attributable to several important factors.
The trans-Pacific shipping industry
overexpanded in recent years, meaning
most companies were financially
stressed. The Port of Portland is 100
miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean
and the largest container ships could
not call there while fully loaded. The
International Longshore Workers
Union made a career of creating as
much havoc as it could, picking fights
with the terminal operator and other
unions and slowing down container
traffic to a trickle.
That toxic combination spelled
doom for the port’s container operation.
If and when a container shipper will
return to Terminal 6 is anyone’s guess.
For agricultural exporters, that’s bad
news. Containers of hay, straw, produce
and other commodities now must be
trucked to Tacoma or Seattle to be
loaded onto ships for the trip overseas,
adding to the time and cost of doing
But there’s hope the port can
play another role that would benefit
exporters. At a recent meeting of the
port’s board, managers suggested
that the port’s rail link could be used
to take containers from Portland to
the Puget Sound ports. That would
take truck traffic off Interstate 5 and,
presumably, save exporters money. If
the cost savings are real, such a service
would be worthwhile.
In the meantime, the port is trying
to land another container shipper. With
the location of the port, that will take
some doing. Keeping the Columbia
River dredged to accommodate larger
container ships, maintaining a truce
with the ILWU and finding an operator
for the facility now that ICTSI Oregon
Inc. is gone are all tall orders.
We hope it can be done. Fingers
But in the meantime, a rail shuttle
or other possibilities for helping
agricultural exporters in the region will
be much appreciated.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board of publisher
Kathryn Brown, managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, and opinion page editor Tim Trainor. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessar-
ily that of the East Oregonian.
Not either/or but both/and
his op-ed piece had its
Please rest assured we are
beginnings in a recent phone
working on a balanced budget;
call I had with a longtime
constitutionally we are required to
Pendleton friend, Russ Hensley.
do so. It will happen.
What I didn’t know at the time was
The second question was: Why
Russ had also submitted a letter
am I working on unimportant stuff,
to the East Oregonian, which ran
and taking up legislative time on
the day before he called, which
trying to get these bills passed? This
summarized what he shared on the
is where Russ and I might have a
phone. Russ was frustrated with
Hansell disagreement. Every bill I sponsor
those of us in Salem, and with me
and try to get passed is important
in particular, for not tackling the
to someon, and, as their elected
major problems facing our state,
representative, important to me.
and for spending time, energy, and effort
The vast majority of the bills I introduce are
passing bills that he felt had little or no
constituent bills — bills that were written
importance compared to other big item
to answer a need or problem. If I don’t
issues. Rearranging chairs on the Titanic,
represent the good people of District #29,
was how Russ described my efforts.
who will? It is my privilege, honor, and
Russ is articulate and sincere, and as
responsibility to be your voice in Salem.
I tried to answer his questions, we both
This is one of, if not the most important
thought it might be helpful to do this op-ed
thing I do. And I offer no apologies for
piece to explain what is happening, or
spending legislative time helping constitu-
not, in the legislative process. One thing I
I received a phone call from the mayor
want to make clear, I very much appreciate
Russ taking the time to call and express his of Joseph asking for assistance regarding
the city’s deer population issue; we have
views to me and in his letter to the editor.
an answer, SB 373. I was speaking with
His two questions to answer: First, why
Pendletonian Barbara Clark regarding
doesn’t it appear anything is being done on
the very serious issues facing the state? And human trafficking and she asked why we
don’t have assistance hotline numbers
second, why are you taking up valuable
in rest stop bathrooms like they do back
time working on issues that aren’t all that
east. This conversation created SB 375.
I received a letter from a constituent, Mr.
The Oregon Ship of State, like the
Titanic, is sailing in rough waters. We have J.P. Bailey, regarding state park stays
for disabled veterans – this provided the
some serious budget issues. Among the
background to SB 380. A conversation
four biggest are PERS, the Oregon Health
about house foreclosures with the former
Plan, transportation, and the state budget.
mayor of Adams created SB 381. When
Even though the legislature has over a
$1.2B, yes that is billion, in new revenue to prison guards Jeff Coffman and Bryan
Branstetter came to me with a need for
spend, the state is still $1.8 billion short of
protections in prison facilities, I quickly
current service level. Unlike the captain of
drafted SB 368 and SB 366. Umatilla
the Titanic, we are well aware of what lies
County Commissioner Bill Elfering
ahead, and we the legislature are working
asked why juveniles were not covered by
diligently on both sides of the isle, and in
their insurance when they entered county
both houses, to craft a balanced budget.
We Republicans don’t feel we have a
detention. Adults have that coverage based
revenue problem, but a spending problem.
on a bill the legislature passed in the 2015
And before we consider any new revenue,
session. Turns out juveniles were left out
we want to work on the spending side of
in error, so I have sponsored SB 367. Of
the budget. We cannot continue to sail this
the 26 bills I have chief sponsored in the
ship of state, with the resources available,
Senate, 16 came from constituent-driven
without running out of fuel.
requests. The rest are concerns that other
So, in answer to the first question, every legislators or organizations brought to my
legislative day, and sometimes even into
attention and I agreed to sponsor.
the evenings, different committees are
I would argue these are not like
working on these budget issues. Not every
rearranging the Titanic’s deck furniture.
legislator works on every issue. But we are
Nor was working to get more water for
all assigned to work on something. For me
our irrigated agriculture, or getting two
it is PERS. I am a member of the Senate
different wolf bills passed in previous
Workforce Committee, which is the only
legislative sessions, just moving deck
committee in either chamber assigned to
chairs. All these are important to our region.
deal with this huge issue. We have been
Again, my thanks to Russ for taking
meeting for weeks learning about the
time to share his feelings honestly and
issues, learning about the court cases,
forthrightly with me. For me the answer
taking testimony from citizens, meeting
is not an either/or, but a both/and. I am
with legal experts as to the constitutionality helping to find solutions for the big
of different reforms, and meeting with the
icebergs floating in front of the good ship
Oregon. They will not sink us. And I will
Because most of our work on PERS and continue to work and do my best to help
other big budget issues are not garnering
find solutions for the people of Oregon,
much publicity, citizens could be unaware
especially my district — real solutions, not
of the work that is being done. We are
just shifting furniture.
exercising due diligence in determining the
best public policy we can forge. We are not
Senator Bill Hansell is in his second
going to sink the ship because of neglect to term representing Senate District 29,
duty. My colleges and I are working hard
which includes Wallowa, Union, Umatilla,
to find solutions, and in the next several
Morrow, Gilliam, Sherman, and half of
months, bills and budgets will begin to
Wasco counties. He and his wife of 50 years,
Margaret, live in Bill’s home town of Athena.
How to build on Obamacare
obody knew that health care
about a third lower than it originally
could be so complicated.”
expected, around 0.7 percent of GDP.
So declared Donald Trump
In fact, it’s probably too cheap. A
three weeks before wimping out on
report from the nonpartisan Urban
his promise to repeal Obamacare.
Institute argues that the ACA is
Up next: “Nobody knew that tax
“essentially underfunded,” and would
reform could be so complicated.”
work much better — in particular,
Then, perhaps: “Nobody knew that
it could offer policies with much
international trade policy could be
lower deductibles — if it provided
so complicated.” And so on.
somewhat more generous subsidies.
Krugman The report’s recommendations would
Actually, though, health care
isn’t all that complicated. Basically,
cost around 0.2 percent of GDP; or to
you need to induce people who
put it another way, would be around
don’t currently need medical
half as expensive as the tax cuts for the
treatment to pay the bills for those who
wealthy Republicans just tried and failed to
do, with the promise that the favor will be
ram through as part of Trumpcare.
returned if necessary.
What about the problem of inadequate
Unfortunately, Republicans have spent
insurance industry competition? Better
eight years angrily denying that simple
subsidies would help enrollments, which in
proposition. And that refusal to think
turn would probably bring in more insurers.
seriously about how health care works is the
But just in case, why not revive the idea of a
fundamental reason Trump and his allies in
public option — insurance sold directly by
Congress now look like such losers.
the government, for those who choose it? At
But put politics aside for a minute, and
the very least, there ought to be public plans
ask, what could be done to make health care
available in areas no private insurer wants to
work better going forward?
The Affordable Care Act deals with the
There are other more technical things we
fundamental issue of health care provision
should do too, like extending reinsurance:
in two ways. More than half of the gains
compensation for insurers whose risk pool
in coverage have come from expanding
turned out worse than expected. Some
Medicaid — that is, collecting taxes and
analysts also argue that there would be
using the revenue to pay people’s medical
big gains from moving “off-exchange”
bills. And that part of the program is working plans onto the government-administered
fine, except in Republican-controlled states
that won’t let the federal government aid
So if Trump really wanted to honor
his campaign promises about improving
But Medicaid only covers the lowest-
health coverage, if he were willing to face
income families. Above that level, the ACA
up to the reality that Obamacare is here
relies on private insurance companies, using
to stay, there’s a lot he could do, through
a combination of regulations and subsidies
incremental changes, to make it work better.
to keep policies affordable. This has
And he would get plenty of cooperation from
worked well in some places. For example,
Democrats along the way.
in California, which has tried hard to make
Needless to say, I don’t expect to see that
health reform work, the number of people
happen. Improving Obamacare requires
with health insurance has soared, while
doing more, not less, moving left, not right.
premiums are still well below expectations.
That’s not what Republicans want to hear.
Overall, however, too few healthy people
And the tweeter-in-chief’s initial reaction
have purchased insurance, despite the penalty to health care humiliation was, predictably,
for failing to sign up; this is partly because
vindictive. He blamed Democrats, whom he
many of the policies offered have high
never consulted, for Trumpcare’s political
deductibles, making them less attractive. As
failure, predicted that “ObamaCare will
a result, some companies have pulled out
explode,” and that when it does Democrats
of the market. And this has left some areas,
will “own it.” Since his own administration
especially rural counties in small states, with
is responsible for administering the law,
few or no insurers.
that sounds a lot like a promise to sabotage
No, it’s not a “death spiral” — subsidies
Americans’ health care and blame other
keep insurance affordable for most people
people for the disaster.
even if premiums rise sharply, and the
The point, however, is that building on
Congressional Budget Office believes that
Obamacare wouldn’t be hard, and wouldn’t
markets will remain stable. But the system
even be all that complicated.
could and should be improved. How?
One important answer would be to spend
Paul Krugman joined The New York Times
a bit more money. Obamacare has turned out in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page
to be remarkably cheap; the Congressional
and continues as professor of Economics and
Budget Office now projects its cost to be
International Affairs at Princeton University.
Growing city, active business
helps decrease tax burden
I came to Hermiston in July of 1991 as
superintendent of the Hermiston School
District. Our enrollment was just over 3,800
students and the city population was 11,500.
Since that time, Hermiston has become
one of Oregon’s fastest-growing areas. Our
school population now is 5,630, up 1,830
students; and the city population is 17,700,
up 6,200 residents.
While superintendent for almost 10
years, we built two additional schools,
Sandstone Middle School and Desert View
Elementary School, creating more space
for approximately 700 students. Since that
time and due to aged facilities, the district
has demolished and rebuilt four schools —
Hermiston High School, Armand Larive
Middle School, West Park Elementary and
Sunset Elementary — creating a small
amount of additional space. However, we
are still overcrowded by approximately 800
students. Plus, the district will continue to
grow at the rate of about 80-100 students
per year in the future. The growth we
have experienced in our city and region is
generally good news, but it is also causing
growing pains. It is a little like a family of
nine living in a house with one bathroom and
I realize that no one enjoys paying more
taxes. However, the need for more school
space is evident NOW, not to mention the
80-100 student growth we will continue to
receive each year. The new bond will address
this problem. The good news is, as home
owners, we pay only about 48 percent of the
schools’ bond levy. Businesses and utilities
pay 52 percent. Businesses do not create
students. Residents do. So this is a pretty
attractive deal for homeowners. Also, as our
area continues to grow with more residents
and businesses, the tax rate will be lowered
each year since more people and businesses
will be included to pay the bond, thus
lowering individual tax bills over time.
In closing, each one of our Hermiston
students gets one chance at 13 years
of education in our district. A quality
experience can make all the difference
for their future success. Good schools
with good teachers in uncrowded, quality
classroom spaces are critical ingredients for
achievement and success.
I strongly urge you to support the
Hermiston School District bond levy.
Dr. Jer D. Pratton,
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