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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 24, 2018)
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
Trading an event center
After successfully hosting its first fair
and rodeo, EOTEC has been plagued
by too many people expecting too many
contradictory things from the property
south of Hermiston.
On Monday, the city of Hermiston and
Umatilla County — currently co-owners
of the multi-million dollar project —
came up with a plan to take at least one
cook out of a too-crowded kitchen.
The deal is complicated, but it
revolves around one surety: The county
would relinquish all ownership and
liability of EOTEC and Hermiston
would take on full ownership and
full responsibility. To get out of the
partnership, county commissioner George
Murdock proposed that the county pay
more than $1.4 million through 2022, and
increase its annual fair lease payment to
$100,000 per year in perpetuity.
We think it’s a smart move at this
point, though we know it is sure to ruffle
some feathers. Many people donated
big bucks with the understanding that
the former arrangement would continue.
State and county taxpayers threw in
many millions, too.
And the Umatilla County Fair — in
many people’s eyes the whole reason for
this project — will cede their ownership
stake. Sure, promises have been made
to the fair board and there are reasons to
be optimistic. But someone else will be
making the decisions from here on out,
and dollars are bound to be hard to come
by. The fair has a right to be nervous
about the county backing away.
Underlying this proposal is the fact
of a changing of the guard on EOTEC.
Many members of the EOTEC board,
who have been volunteering for this
project for near a decade, will give
way to a new generation that will now
manage EOTEC day to day.
Things will be lost in the transition,
priorities rearranged. There is no way
to please everyone and something is
always lost between the planning and
But the last year has made clear that
changes are needed in how EOTEC is
managed and operated. Hard truths need
to be reckoned with, and that’s easier —
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock reads a proposal to dissolve the
agreement between Umatilla County and the city of Hermiston on Monday.
and better — done when a single set of
priorities are in place.
The city, the county and EOTEC
are dealing with reality now. Mayor
Dave Drotzmann described EOTEC as
“another pool” — meaning a city asset
that takes a lot of maintenance, money
and management without bringing in
enough revenue to cover costs.
But, like the pool, it makes
Hermiston a more desirable place to
be, and has the potential to make a real
difference to local businesses, especially
hotels and restaurants.
The city of Hermiston is going
to make some difficult decisions
in the coming months. After those
decisions are made, we’ll have a better
understanding of what EOTEC is and
what its future will be.
Nevertrumpers face vexing question:
What to make of Trump successes?
Transparency needed about
how county divvies SIP tax
On Jan. 2 I attended a regular Port
Commission meeting at the Port of
Umatilla. I was there as a representative of
the Umatilla Hospital District #1 hoping to
gain an understanding of how the strategic
investment program (SIP) money would be
The funds will be paid by Vadata Inc.
as part of a 15-year tax abatement program
for the three Vadata projects. Two of the
projects, the McNary and the Bonney
property located west of Lind Road, are in
The hospital board received a letter dated
Dec. 7 from Umatilla County Counsel Doug
Olsen, along with an agreement he expected
the district to sign. The letter indicated
that the district would receive a portion of
the community service fee. However, the
letter did not explain how the county will
calculate the fees or how the fees will be
shared among the districts in the two code
areas. (The letter also did not accurately
explain how much tax revenue the district
would lose as a result of the SIP agreement.)
Many public service districts are
impacted by the SIP agreement. The
county is responsible by law to administer
the funds. Umatilla County, the city of
Umatilla, Umatilla Rural Fire Protection
District and Umatilla Fire District #1, the
Hermiston Cemetery District, Umatilla
Special Library District, West Umatilla
Mosquito District Control District, Umatilla
Morrow Radio & Data District and the Port
of Umatilla will all receive funds.
My reason for writing this letter is to
question why the city and the districts were
not included in negotiating how the funds
are to be distributed and how the county
commissioners arrived at the formula that
Darla Huxel, board chair of the Umatilla
Rural Fire Protection District, asked this
question at the Port meeting and was told by
Olsen and County Assessor Paul Chalmers
that county could not answer the question
since she is a city employee and the city had
retained an attorney to negotiate with the
county. That opened up more questions as
to why attorneys are involved and why the
county is not being transparent.
In my opinion all stake holders
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
should have been involved. The lack of
transparency is disturbing. Let’s call a
meeting to get answers to these questions
and hold the county commissioners
What you don’t know about
the federal payroll
I encourage readers to check into
openthebooks.com. This is a nonprofit private
agency that takes no federal funding or
grants. They expose some surprising — and
sad — statistics on how tax dollars are spent.
Here are some things they have uncovered:
• The federal government pays its
“disclosed” workforce $1 million per minute
— $66 million per hour — $524 million
per day. In 2016 the federal government had
1.97 million employees whose compensation
was $136.3 billion.
• Over a six-year period the number of
federal employees making over $200,000
increased 165 percent. Those making
over $150,000 increased 60 percent. Over
$100,000 increased 37 percent.
• On average federal employees get
10 federal holidays, 13 sick days and 20
vacation days. If each one took 13 sick
days and 20 vacation days (added to the 10
federal holidays) that would cost taxpayers
• In 2015, 406,960 federal employees
made a six-figure income (1 in 5). Of those,
29,852 made more than each of the 50 state
• A federal agency in San Francisco,
Presidio Trust, gets the prize for the highest
paid bonus — the HR manager received a
bonus of $141,525.
• The post office and Dept. of Veterans
Affairs employ over half of the federal
• Only one third of the 35,000 federal
lawyers actually work in the Dept. of Justice.
The entire staff of federal lawyers were paid
$4.8 billion in 2015.
• The Dept. of Veterans Affairs employs
4,498 police officers at a cost of $172
million in 2016.
There is a whole lot more of this that
needs to be exposed.
he start of President Trump’s
for impeachment. Max Boot, of
second year in office has
the Council on Foreign Relations,
given Republicans and
worries that Republicans might
conservatives an opportunity to
maintain control of the House in
review a solid list of achievements:
November’s elections, which would
corporate and individual tax cuts;
lower the chances of impeachment
economic growth; wage growth;
to nearly zero. So Boot, a lifelong
a conservative Supreme Court
Republican, is pulling for
justice; a record number of circuit
court confirmations; deregulation;
“I worked as an adviser on three
the defeat of ISIS and more.
Republican presidential campaigns,”
Each is a development worth
Boot said recently, “but now I’m
celebrating, either by the standards of
actively rooting for Republicans to
conservatism, or the general welfare, or both. lose the congressional elections ... because
But for NeverTrump conservatives, the
the Republicans have shown they are
list presents a challenge. Many support
unwilling to uphold their oaths of office.”
the actions, like cutting taxes and reducing
At The New York Times, conservative
regulation, on Trump’s list. Yet some
columnist Bret Stephens, author of
have also staked their credibility and
the recent piece, “Why I’m Still a
prestige on declaring Trump’s election an
NeverTrumper,” argues that reflexive
unmitigated, historic disaster that will lead
NeverTrumpism actually harms the effort
to an autocratic, dystopian future. Many
to resist the president. Stephens recently
want to force Trump out of office, either by
took on Trump critics who denounce the
impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or, at
president even when news is good — as
latest, defeat in 2020.
when Apple announced that it will bring
So how to deal with the current good
back most of the $274 billion it has parked
overseas, pay a $38 billion tax bill, and
The most extreme NeverTrumpers,
create another 20,000 jobs in the U.S.
like The Washington Post’s Jennifer
Slamming Trump over a development like
Rubin, simply rail against everything the
that, Stephens wrote, does “damage ... to the
president does. But more sophisticated
NeverTrumpers are looking for nuanced
Stephens did not spell it out, but
ways to recognize the president’s
a reasonable inference for those in
accomplishments while maintaining that he
NeverTrump world is that giving the
is a menace — and that they have been right president his due on good developments
about him all along.
— rather than entering the la-la-land of the
One strategy is to concede some of
Resistance — will give NeverTrumpers
Trump’s successes while insisting that
credibility as they pursue the goal of getting
the sum total of NeverTrump objections
rid of him.
outweighs those gains.
Also at the Times, NeverTrump
At the Weekly Standard, for example,
conservative columnist Ross Douthat — all
the editors recently cited some of Trump’s
of the Times’ conservative columnists are
accomplishments and asked: “Isn’t it
NeverTrumpers, which assures the paper a
time for Trump’s conservative critics to
diversity of anti-Trump opinion — recently
acknowledge his election was worth it?”
debated NeverTrumper David Frum of The
Their answer: No.
Atlantic on whether Trump’s presidency has
While citing a few of Trump’s
so far been a tragedy or a farce.
accomplishments, the publication argued
Frum, author of the new book
that the president’s endorsement of Roy
“Trumpocracy,” voted for tragedy, while
Moore in Alabama, his firing of FBI
Douthat said farce. Douthat, who once
Director James Comey, his bombastic
hoped Trump might be removed from
tweets about North Korea, loose-lipped
office via the 25th Amendment, now seems
meeting with Russian diplomats, response
resigned to the president finishing his term;
to Charlottesville, and “shithole” nations
Frum, who helped get the 25th Amendment
remark, along with other things, more than
talk going the day after the election, is still
offset goods like wage growth, job creation
hoping for an early Trump exit.
and a victory against terrorism.
Within the range of implacable
The magazine’s founder and editor-
opposition to Trump, there is a lot of
at-large, Bill Kristol, remains committed
variation in the NeverTrump world —
to Trump’s defeat. Asked recently what
“9,000 cross-currents,” as Kristol remarked
Americans should do if Trump’s four years
in office turn out well for the country, Kristol
Before the election, NeverTrumpers
answered, “We should pocket those gains
were united by simple opposition to the
(and) heave an unbelievable sigh of relief.
Republican candidate. But Trump’s presence
“I am still very much for constraining
in the White House has made things more
Trump to four years,” Kristol added. “And
Trump will surely run into a major
nothing that could happen, honestly, at this
point could tell me Donald Trump should be reversal someday; that’s what happens to
presidents. When it does, NeverTrumpers
can say they called it long ago. But as
To that end, Kristol — who in 2016
long as Trump is piling up conservative
led a quixotic effort to find a third-party
candidate to run against Trump and last year achievements, life will remain complicated
for the nation’s NeverTrumpers.
said “disposing of Trump ... can’t be done
in a day” — said he is “quietly” working on
Byron York is chief political
efforts to mount a 2020 challenge should the
correspondent for The Washington
president run for re-election.
Other NeverTrumpers keep hope alive
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. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual
services and products or letters that infringe on the rights of private citizens. Letters must be signed by the author and include the
city of residence and a daytime phone number. The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published.
Send letters to managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email email@example.com.