East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 05, 2017, Page Page 4A, Image 4

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    Page 4A
OPINION
East Oregonian
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
OTHER VIEWS
Founded October 16, 1875
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Publisher
DANIEL WATTENBURGER
Managing Editor
TIM TRAINOR
Opinion Page Editor
MARISSA WILLIAMS
Regional Advertising Director
MARCY ROSENBERG
Circulation Manager
JANNA HEIMGARTNER
Business Office Manager
MIKE JENSEN
Production Manager
OUR VIEW
Online privacy takes
a hit from Congress
Congress did American consumers
a great disservice last week when
it dismantled an online privacy
regulation that would have prevented
internet service providers such as
Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from
selling the browsing habits and other
information about their customers.
The move came in a bill sent to
President Donald Trump that will
kill a Federal Communications
Commission rule that was issued in
October and was designed to give
consumers greater control over how
internet service providers share
information. The rule was scheduled
to go into effect later this year, and
the decision essentially reverts to
the status quo rather than giving
consumers additional protections
that the Obama administration
sought before leaving office.
The decision was decried by
consumer groups and Democrats
but lauded by most Republicans and
telecom companies. The 215-205
vote in the House, though, was
closer than many expected with
15 Republicans siding with the
Democrats in the failed effort to
keep the rule in place. The Senate
had already voted to repeal it and
Trump is expected to sign the bill
despite the American Civil Liberties
Union’s populist appeals for a
presidential veto.
Opponents of the rule argued that
ISPs like Comcast and AT&T should
not face more stringent privacy
rules than online companies such as
Facebook and Google, which collect
user information and generate
billions of dollars selling it.
Privacy proponents, however,
countered that ISPs are far different
because they have access to users’
full web browsing habits, what
devices and applications they use,
their online locations along with
their physical addresses, their
financial information and even
whom they exchange emails with.
That robust amount of information
is particularly useful for marketers
to craft highly targeted ads, which
is part of the fundamental business
model of many online companies.
With the repeal, internet
providers won’t be required to notify
customers they collect data about or
even ask permission beyond a
user’s initial approval of the terms
of service agreement. As a result,
many people may not even realize
their patterns and profiles are being
brokered.
So what steps should online users
and consumers take?
Privacy experts recommend
consumers thoroughly familiarize
themselves with the privacy policy
of their ISP and specifically try opt
out of data collection.
Another potential option is to
use a Virtual Private Network,
which provides private end-to-end
internet connections and are
typically used to keep out snoops
when using public Wi-Fi. There are
free and paid-for VPN providers,
but they are also in a position to
track online activities. Choosing a
trustworthy provider, as Wired.com
points out, can be a “tricky thing to
confirm.” Additionally, VPN privacy
protections are limited because
once a user logs into a website like
Netflix or Amazon, those sites track
users’ activities so they can suggest
tailored products and services.
According to Nuala O’Connor,
president and CEO of the Center
for Democracy & Technology,
a non-profit digital rights group,
the best course of action for those
concerned about what’s collected
about them is to practice “digital
privacy hygiene” by giving as little
information as possible when doing
things online, to minimize the digital
footprint available to companies.
Importantly, if there was any
question before, consumers should
now know that Congress isn’t on
the side of their online privacy
protection.
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
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
How to end the
politicization of the courts
M
ainstream news coverage has
thanks to Russell Wheeler of the
a hard time making subtle
Brookings Institution) apply only
distinctions between the
to two-term presidents, to keep
behavior of the two political parties.
comparisons consistent. But the sole
When Democratic and Republican
recent one-term president makes the
tactics are blatantly different — on
point, too: In 1990, a Democratic
voter suppression, for instance —
Congress created dozens of new
journalists are often comfortable
judgeships, even though George H.W.
saying so. And when the parties act
Bush could then fill many.
David
similarly — both soliciting large
Can you imagine Republicans
Leonhardt expanding the judiciary for a
donors, say — journalists are good at
Comment
producing “both sides do it” stories.
Democratic president?
But when reality falls somewhere
• Republican nominees have been
in between, the media often fails to get the
less centrist than Democratic nominees.
story right. Journalists know how to do
Republican activists have built a
50-50 stories and all-or-nothing stories. More strongly conservative network of judicial
nuanced situations create problems.
candidates. Democratic candidates are more
The 2016 campaign was a classic example. idiosyncratic. Some are more sympathetic
Hillary Clinton deserved scrutiny for her
to prosecutors, others to the defense. Some
buckraking speeches and
are more pro-business than
inappropriate email use. Yet
others.
her sins paled compared
No wonder, then, that
with Donald Trump’s lies,
Samuel Alito, Clarence
secrecy, bigotry, conflicts
Thomas and Antonin
of interest, Russian ties
Scalia are among the most
and sexual molestation.
conservative justices ever,
The collective media
according to research by
coverage failed to make this
Lee Epstein of Washington
distinction and created a
University. By contrast,
false impression.
every Democratic-nominated
Now the pattern is
justice of the last 50 years has
repeating itself, in the battle
been closer to the center.
over the federal courts.
• Merrick Garland, Merrick Garland,
Democrats are on the verge of filibustering Merrick Garland.
Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.
The Republicans’ strategy has been
If they do, Mitch McConnell, the Republican
straightforward. They have tried to deny
Senate leader, has signaled that he will
Democratic presidents a chunk of judgeships,
change the rules and bypass the filibuster. The hoping the nominations will roll over. Then
move may change the nominating process for Republicans have made sure their nominees
years to come.
are very conservative.
Much of the media coverage has described
The strategy reached its apex last year,
the situation as the culmination of a partisan
when the Senate blocked Obama from
arms race: Both sides do it. And that
filling a Supreme Court vacancy, even with
description is not exactly wrong. Democrats
the highly qualified, and notably moderate,
have engaged in some nasty judicial tactics
Garland. It was unprecedented. Republicans
over the years.
set out to flip a seat and succeeded. Now the
Most famously, they blocked the highly
Senate is preparing to confirm Gorsuch, likely
qualified, and extremely conservative, Robert to be another historically conservative justice.
Bork from joining the Supreme Court in
Republicans are bragging a lot about
1987. Democrats also blocked a few qualified Gorsuch’s qualifications, which are
George W. Bush nominees to lower courts,
legitimate. But this debate isn’t really about
like Miguel Estrada and Peter Keisler.
qualifications. If it were, Gorsuch wouldn’t
But if judicial politics isn’t an all-or-
have been nominated, because Garland would
nothing story, it’s also not a 50-50 story.
be on the court.
Too much of the discussion about Gorsuch’s
What can Democrats, and anyone else
nomination misses this point.
who laments legal politicization, do about it?
Anecdotes aside, Republicans have taken
Absorb the lessons of game theory.
a much more aggressive, politicized approach
Republicans have benefited from their
to the courts than Democrats. The evidence:
partisan approach. They won’t stop just
• Republicans have been bolder about
because Democrats ask nicely and submit
blocking Democratic nominees than vice
to Gorsuch. Democrats are right to force
versa.
McConnell to be the one who takes the
The failure rate of Democratic nominees
partisan step of eliminating the Supreme
to federal trial courts since 1981 has been
Court filibuster. Likewise, Democrats should
almost twice as high as the Republican failure be aggressive in blocking Trump nominees to
rate: 14 percent versus 7 percent. There is
lower courts.
also a gap among appeals court nominees: 23
Paeans to bipartisanship may sound good,
percent to 19 percent.
but in this case they don’t ultimately promote
The gap between the parties would be even bipartisanship. Right now, the status quo is
larger if Democrats hadn’t eliminated the
working quite well for one of the two parties. The
filibuster on lower-court nominees in 2013,
country won’t return to a less politicized judiciary
allowing Barack Obama finally to fill more
until both parties have reason to want it.
judgeships. Even so, Trump has inherited a
■
huge number of vacancies.
David Leonhardt is an op-ed columnist for
The numbers above (which I put together
The New York Times.
Media coverage
has described
the situation as
the culmination
of a partisan
arms race.
YOUR VIEWS
Bond would increase
capacity by 24 percent
Voters in Hermiston will have
an opportunity to vote on May 16
to authorize a $104 million school
capital improvement bond. I am
writing today to encourage readers
to vote in favor of this bond.
Hermiston School District
has been dealing with significant
enrollment growth for the past
several years. Predictions from
the Portland State University
population study commissioned by
the district suggest that enrollment
in Hermiston’s schools could
increase by as much as 24 percent,
or 1,100 students, in the next seven
years. In schools where capacity
is already a significant concern at
current levels, adding this number
of students would create significant
challenges for educators and
students alike.
Adding even more temporary
classroom space in the form
of modular buildings is not a
sustainable way to accommodate
this enrollment growth. Based on
the PSU estimates, an additional
56 modular classrooms would be
needed to accommodate anticipated
student growth. The infrastructure
at our oldest schools is not designed
to handle the additional students
housed in modular classrooms.
Cafeterias, libraries, and other
common spaces in schools are not
equipped to handle the additional
number of students above and
beyond the original designed
capacity in each building.
Additionally, funds to either
purchase or lease modular
buildings and install them at each
location come directly out of the
district’s general fund. Adding
more modular classrooms could
directly impact the educational
program of the district, potentially
leading to staffing reductions,
delaying important curriculum
adoptions, and possibly leading
to the reduction or elimination of
important programs that enhance
student achievement.
Please join me in voting yes
for the Hermiston School Bond on
May 16.
Josh Goller, member
Hermiston School District Board
Bond will keep
Hermiston growing
As long-time Hermiston
residents, our five children were
raised in this community and
educated in Hermiston School
District schools from kindergarten
through grade 12.
From the time our oldest child
entered first grade through the
graduation of our youngest — a
27-year span — we joined many
other parents and community
members and proudly volunteered
alongside teachers, staff and
HSD officials as they worked
to ensure that the community’s
expectation of quality education
would be fulfilled. And, when
faced with harsh realities of failing
infrastructure in old facilities and
exploding student populations, the
Hermiston community has stepped
up, passing bonds that built new
schools and modernized other
existing schools to extend their
years of useful life.
Hermiston, now the largest
community in Eastern Oregon,
continues to grow — in jobs, new
businesses, and record enrollment
numbers. Since 2008, when the last
bond passed, enrollment of more
than 600 new students has pushed
existing Hermiston facilities to
capacity and necessitated the use of
more and more modular classrooms
at elementary school campuses.
The proposed HSD bond will
deal with these enrollment growth
issues as well as addressing
aging infrastructure and safety
and security needs. In 2015, an
independent safety audit of HSD
schools by the Hermiston Police
Department found that the district’s
two oldest facilities, Rocky Heights
(built in 1962) and Highland Hills
Elementary (built in 1980), failed
to meet current safety standards.
The horrors of Sandy Hook
and other school tragedies closer
to home highlight the importance
of making our schools as safe as
they can be. This bond allows for
replacement of Rocky Heights and
Highland Hills and construction
of a new elementary school on
district-owned property. Building
designs will incorporate elements
that better control access to campus
and classrooms and limit numbers
of doors to outside for greater
safety of students, faculty, and
staff.
The bond will also address
deferred maintenance and
replacement of failing heating
and cooling systems at Sandstone
Middle School and fund expansion
and safety/access project at
Hermiston High School.
This school bond is an
investment in the future of
our growing community and
will provide safer and more
accommodating learning
environments for Hermiston
students for years to come. Please
join us in voting yes for Hermiston
School District Bond this May.
Steve and Kathy Eldrige
Hermiston
LETTERS POLICY
The East Oregonian welcomes
original letters of 400 words or
less on public issues and public
policies for publication in the
newspaper and on our website.
Send letters to 211 S.E. Byers Ave.
Pendleton, OR 97801 or email
editor@eastoregonian.com.