East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 26, 2017, Page Page 4A, Image 4

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East Oregonian
D ays of a
T rump p resiDency
Founded October 16, 1875
Managing Editor
Opinion Page Editor
Regional Advertising Director
Circulation Manager
Business Office Manager
Production Manager
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
A reminder: On Saturday Donald Trump will have been president for
100 days.
To mark the occasion, we asked readers to submit 100 words on the pres-
ident’s first 100 days. The response has been excellent, and we want to make
sure everyone who wishes to participate gets their submission to us in time.
Tell us what you think of the new president’s performance, and if he
lived up to the promises he set in the opening months of his term. Keep that
response to 100 words so we can run a whole passel of them in the April 29
paper. The deadline for submissions is Friday at noon.
Drop off your thoughts at our Pendleton or Hermiston locations, or email
them to editor@eastoregonian.com. Please include a phone number and city
of residence, so we can verify your identity before publishing.
Control costs
before spending
This seems like a no-brainer: The Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose;
Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem; Rep.
Oregon Legislature should examine
the worth of current programs before Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene; and
Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner.
starting new ones.
Legislative leaders, let alone
That’s an idea put forth last week
by several legislators.
public-employee unions and outside
interest groups, did not seem keen
Don’t public officials do that
on some of the ideas. However,
already? No, at least not always.
Senate President Peter Courtney
And that reality shows why the
and House Speaker Tina Kotek
Legislature has failed to curb its
deserve credit for appointing the
spending, regardless of whether the
cost-containment group and taking
Democrats or the Republicans were
its ideas seriously.
in control.
As Sen.
The 21st century
The Legislature Johnson
said in
opened with
Republican Senate
should examine presenting several
President Gene
current programs recommendations,
Derfler sounding
“These should
the alarm about
be considered a
starting point for
new ones.
PERS costs and
discussion and
unsustainable state
subject to further
budgets. Those
refinement, analysis
issues still confound legislators.
and negotiation.”
So it was with a bit of hope that
The Legislature, after all, is a
five veteran legislators — three
political entity. But it also is the
Democrats and two Republicans
state’s board of directors. It has
— unveiled on Friday a long list
the fiduciary responsibility to
of ways to control future spending.
institutionalize the ongoing cost-
They included something that, to
benefit analyses of existing agencies,
most Oregonians, should be routine: programs, laws and proposals.
“Review performance and need for
As our own Rep. Smith noted, the
current programs and services to
state budget has grown substantially
determine whether new proposals
during the past six years, and will be
are a higher priority than current
even larger during 2017-19.
programs and services.”
That growth rate not only may
That responsibility lies with the
be unsustainable but, ironically, it
executive branch — the governor’s
is insufficient to maintain existing
office, which runs the majority of
programs. Thus, “unspending”
state agencies — as much as with
should be as important as spending.
the legislative branch, which writes
As part of that, the Legislature
the state budget. It was disappointing should reach out more to the state
that Gov. Kate Brown ordered a
workforce — the front-line workers
hiring freeze only last week —
who see what works and doesn’t
after back in December asking
work — and seek their ideas for
departments to delay hirings for 60
refining government.
days — although the magnitude
Furthermore, the Legislature
of the state budget hole had been
should find more self-discipline.
known for months.
When issues arise, the Legislature
But a governor is the CEO of state should undertake a root-cause
government, and that role requires as analysis instead of assuming that a
much fiscal discipline and diligence
potentially expensive new law, task
as in any other corporate entity.
force or program is the answer.
However, as Gov. Ted Kulongoski
In fact, the Legislature could
once said, there is little political
make itself a test case: Refocus its
glory to be gained from the behind-
priorities to make government more
the-scenes, nuts-and-bolts work of
cost-effective, and accomplish that
streamlining government.
work without adding staff.
That is why legislative leaders
As the late Gov. Vic Atiyeh was
on Friday had high praise for the
fond of saying, it’s amazing how
cost-containment concepts from
much you can accomplish when you
Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin;
don’t worry who gets the credit.
Crime and different punishments
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.
ast week, the state of Arkansas,
set of penalties, would necessarily be
which had executed exactly
more inhumane.
nobody since 2005, put to death
This is the (deliberately
Ledell Lee for the crime of murdering
provocative) argument of Peter Salib,
Debra Reese in 1993. Why now — 11
a judicial clerk on the 7th Circuit,
years after the last execution, 24 years
in his new paper, “Why Prison?:
after the crime? Because the chemicals
An Economic Critique.” Salib’s
used for lethal injection were about to
claim is radical: “We should not
imprison people who commit crimes.”
Reasonable people can disagree
Douthat Instead we should force criminals
on the death penalty, but everyone
to work, under monitoring, in the
should recognize the dark absurdity
highest-value available jobs in order
of an execution timetable set by a
to make financial restitution, while
drug’s expiration date. And that absurdity
adding additional deterrence in the form
provides a useful opening for this week’s
of “nonmonetary sanctions.” Writes Salib,
entry in my ongoing series of implausible
“this paper does not endorse any particular
proposals: Our modern way of punishment
nonmonetary sanction,” but he notes that
should be reconsidered, and punishments long “history presents a startling array of options,
dismissed as inhumane should be pondered
including: flogging, pillory, running the
as alternatives to medicalized executions and
gauntlope, tarring and feathering, branding,
“civilized” incarceration.
and many more.”
That phrasing sounds too reasonable for the
The idea that a combination of financial
spirit of this series, so here’s
sanctions and corporal
the more outrageous version:
punishment could replace
Bring back the stocks and the
imprisonment seems insane,
firing squad.
even to a columnist floating
The tendency in modern
slightly crazy ideas. There
criminal justice has been
will always be a group
to remove two specific
of offenders sufficiently
elements from the state’s justice: spectacle
dangerous to require long-term separation
and pain. During the 19th and early 20th
from society. And most of our prisoners,
centuries, pillories and stocks and whipping
contrary to certain convenient myths, are
posts became museum pieces, the hangman
not nonviolent offenders; they have been
and the firing squad were supplanted by more
convicted of robbery, assault, rape and murder.
technical methods, and punishment became
But not every violent offender is equally
something that happened elsewhere — in
dangerous — a fact already reflected in
distant prisons and execution chambers, under sentencing, which releases many prisoners
professional supervision, far from the baying
relatively swiftly. So there would be room
to experiment with Salib’s proposal, to offer
All of this made a certain moral sense. But
some of the convicted the stocks followed
the civilizing process did not do away with
by supervised labor, without leaping to the
cruelty and in some ways it could exacerbate
abolish-prison stage.
it. With executions, the science was often
I recognize (and Salib acknowledges) a
inexact and the application difficult, and when strong historical reason not to conduct such
it went wrong the electric chair or the gas
an experiment: because of the memory of
chamber could easily become a distinctive
slavery, the role that public violence played in
kind of torture. During the last century lethal
maintaining racial hierarchy, and the fear of
injection, now the execution method of
resurrecting that violence in a country whose
choice, had a higher “botch rate” by far than
prison population is still disproportionately
every other means of killing the condemned.
Meanwhile, the lowest rate of failure (albeit
This argument is powerful, but I still
out of a small sample size) belonged to that
wonder if it is not a little self-deceiving. I
old standby: the firing squad.
would rather face the firing squad than be
Few prisoners face execution, and anti-
strapped down and get injected into eternity,
death penalty activists may yet reduce that
and I would choose a strong dose of pain and
number to zero. But botched injections are
shame over years under the thumb of guards
not the only ways in which we pile cruelties
and inmates and the state.
on the condemned. Our prison system, which
We tell ourselves that we have prisoners’
officially only punishes by restraint, actually
good in mind, and the higher standards of our
subjects millions of Americans to waves of
civilization, because we do not offer them this
informal physical abuse — mistreatment by
choice. But those standards may be less about
guards, violence from inmates, the tortures of
preventing ourselves from becoming like our
solitary confinement, the trauma of rape — on sinful ancestors, and more about maintaining
top of their formal yearslong sentences.
the illusion of clean hands — while harsh
It is not clear that this method of dealing
punishment is still imposed, but out of sight,
with crime succeeds at avoiding cruel and
on souls and bodies not our own.
unusual punishment so much as it avoids
making anyone outside the prison system see
Ross Douthat, a New York Times Op-Ed
it. Nor is it clear that a different system, with
columnist, writes about politics, religion,
a different and sometimes more old-fashioned moral values and higher education.
Bring back the
firing squad.
Pendleton needs new station,
but bond builds wrong one
For reasons mentioned in previous letters
to the editor, I believe a new fire station is
needed in Pendleton. However, the proposed
station is not the answer.
The size of the proposed station is
excessive. Per the Mackenzie report
prepared on behalf of the city (see city
website), the main floor office for a typical
day-shift staff of three totals 3,350 square
feet. This is larger than the vast majority
of homes in Pendleton. The meeting room
contributes another 2,600 square feet. This
exceeds the public space included in any of
the seven analyzed facilities in the report by
1,000 square feet.
The building costs also seem high.
Per the probable cost estimates in the
report, consulting fees are estimated at
nearly $800,000, contingencies as high
as $969,000, and as much as $440,000 is
budgeted for inflation. Counter tops are
estimated to cost $51,000, interior doors
$100,000, decorative street lamps $80,000,
and a staggering $64,800 for trees ($1,500
Fire stations appear to consist of three
basic segments: office, living quarters
and storage bays. Does the wheel need
to be re-invented each time a station is
designed? Is the Eastgate site so unique that
it necessitates spending over $600,000 on
architectural and engineering fees? Has the
city explored the possibility of purchasing an
existing plan from another municipality or
To be fair, the station has been designed
for growth and the cited costs include both
labor and material. The city must also pay
prevailing wage. Still, it is difficult to ignore
the significant amount of fat in this project.
Look to the two stations of similar size
referenced in the Mackenzie report. The
Buckley, Washington and Hood River
stations each are very similar in size to
Pendleton’s proposed 21,000-square-foot
station. The total construction cost of
these stations per the actual bids at the
time of construction were approximately
$160 and $140 per square foot of building
area respectively. The Pendleton station
is estimated to cost $209 per square foot
(excluding consulting fees and owner costs).
Granted, construction costs likely have
increased since these stations were built, but
this is a sizable difference — approaching
50 percent versus Hood River. This doesn’t
even account for the likelihood of building
costs being higher in Seattle and Hood River.
I encourage the city to rein in the size and
cost of the station and return to the voters
with a more reasonable request.
Steve Richards
Fire station is a clear need
for the city of Pendleton
The ballot you receive in the special
election this May is for one issue only:
Are we to build a new lire station or not?
Much has already been written in support
of replacing the old and obsolete fire station
with a new up-to-date facility. After 57 years
of use it is well past the time for replacement
of the present structure.
Do we really need a new facility? The
simple answer is yes.
I commend Mike Ciraulo, John Turner,
Robb Corbett and others who have worked
diligently to explain to the fullest the
shortcomings of the existing facility. The
reasons are well documented — why
the present site cannot and should not be
considered, the reasons the old theater site is
not the best place for a new facility, and the
problems with the Pendleton Grain Growers
The public has been invited, on many
occasions, to view the present fire station
and to attend any number of information
meetings with regard to its shortcomings.
There is a great deal of responsibility that
comes with this ballot as the new fire station
use, based on past fire station history,
will go well into the future. And here, as
any property owner knows, if you delay
construction to some later date the cost will
have increased dramatically.
All that is needed now is your well
thought out yes vote on the ballot.
Ron Gavette
Hermiston schools need bond
to remain a top district
On May 16, voters will be asked to
consider a $104 million bond for the
Hermiston School District.
The bond will address three challenges
that the district is facing while trying to
provide a premier education for our students.
The issues are enrollment growth, safety
and security and an aging infrastructure.
The current predicted growth trends indicate
that the district’s population will increase
24 percent in the next seven years. If new
construction and renovation does not happen,
by 2023, one fifth of the students would be
served in temporary, modular classrooms.
The funding for these would have to come
out of the general fund, taking away the
ability to hire additional staff, cutting current
programs and putting pressure on a very
limited maintenance budget.
The safety concerns at Rocky Heights and
Highland Hills are realities that need to be
In 2015, the Hermiston Police
Department’s independent safety audit found
these two schools to be inadequate to meet
current safety standards due to their design,
age and lack of life-safety alert systems.
Replacing both of these schools would be
the most prudent and cost effective measure.
The third challenge has to do with aging
infrastructure at the two elementary schools
and at Sandstone Middle School. Roofs,
mechanical units and utility mechanisms
need to be replaced.
The projects to be completed if the bond
passes would be: replace Rocky Heights and
Highland Hills at their present sites, build
a new elementary school on district-owned
property on Theater Lane, expand Hermiston
High School, make improvements on the
district owned fairground property and
address deferred maintenance and obsolete,
failing heating and cooling systems.
The board is very much aware that
the bond amount seems quite large. The
estimated cost being 90 cents per $1,000 of
taxable value. After much study, discussion
and consideration, the board unanimously
voted to place the bond on the May ballot.
Hermiston has always been a community
that strongly supports its young people and
by voting for the bond this support will
continue for students in the future.
Your consideration to vote in favor of the
bond is greatly appreciated.
Karen J. Sherman, chair
Hermiston School District Board
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Pendleton, OR 97801 or email editor@