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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (March 7, 2018)
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
As the state legislature wound to
a close, the powerful Joint Ways and
Means Committee — the group of
legislators who control a big pot of
money — wrote a bunch of checks.
Luckily for Eastern Oregon and
District 57, Rep. Greg Smith — the
nine-term House Republican — is on
that committee. He was able to secure
more than $7 million for projects in
and relating to his district, everything
from construction projects at Camp
Umatilla, Oregon Food Bank projects
in Eastern Oregon, the Center for
Prevention Research and the Oregon
Psychiatric Access Line program. That’s
not to mention $9 million for an Eastern
Oregon University facility outside his
boundaries, which he had a part in
Smith also helped direct $1 million to
the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce,
just days after that organization honored
him with a newly-created “Nobel
Laureate” award. It has the appearance
of a back-scratching kind of relationship
that could rub everyone else the wrong
Perhaps $1 million to build an office
and larger conference room for the
Hermiston Chamber of Commerce isn’t
a complete waste of taxpayer money.
But it’s hardly a priority when measured
against the fact that the ill-equipped and
dangerous Umatilla County Jail went
unfunded, despite asking for the same
dollars. If local voters had their choice
on which project to invest in, our guess
is the jail would win in a landslide.
There are many reasons, however,
that the jail did not secure the funds.
Maybe Umatilla County Sheriff Terry
Rowan and County Commissioner
George Murdock hatched this plan
too late. Maybe Rowan and Sen. Bill
Hansell did not make an impact with
testimony before the subcommittee.
Maybe it’s simply because the
committee’s raison d’etre is to make
investments that create economic
development, and mental health
upgrades don’t directly fit the bill.
Rep. Greg Barreto, who represents
Pendleton where the jail is located, took
little to no ownership in the project.
Voters deserve some blame then, too, for
electing someone to represent them who
has little ability or desire to assist.
Whew. That’s a lot of maybes and
blame to go around. And we all feel it.
But we must acknowledge the facts.
Many on these powerful committees
have never visited Umatilla County,
much less its overcrowded jail.
They rely on presentations and
connections, and those outside District
57 must do better at both.
We’re not naive: Glad-handing and
horse trading are part and parcel in
politics. But we must try to make the
process of funding capital projects fair
Photo courtesy Eastern Oregon University
Artist’s rendering of the $9 million fieldhouse and event center planned for Eastern
Oregon University, paid for by the state of Oregon.
In the last five years, Pendleton’s
convention center has seen two direct
competitors pop up to the east and west.
EOU in La Grande recently received $9
million from the state and EOTEC in
Hermiston received roughly $7 million
from the state and federal government.
At the same time, Pendleton’s event
space has been supported on the backs
of local taxpayers and a tax on hotel
That’s a clear example of government
creating winners and losers on an unfair
economic playing field.
Pendleton, and others municipalities
in Eastern Oregon, deserve better
from its state government and its
“I hope that when they get to the
end of the session and there’s money
laying around that they stick their hand
up and ask for it. Because we need it,”
said Pat Beard, director of the Pendleton
Rep. Smith is good at his job. He uses
his connections in Salem to benefit his
district. He has a well-earned advantage
and he makes the most of it. He even
threw in a brief pitch at the end of the
capital committee hearing on behalf
of the jail, which is in a neighboring
district but would clearly benefit his
But advantages misused have plenty
of negative consequences. Even Rep.
Smith’s district is not served by the
fact that the chamber of commerce
is getting shiny new office space, yet
mental health services continue to go
unaddressed in Umatilla County.
Donald Trump’s most
casually broken promise
Demand change that
reduces mass shootings
Another day in America — another
mass shooting. I was appalled that after
the deaths of six-year-olds at Sandy Hook,
nothing changed in America’s response to
these tragedies. And now we are grieving
those in Parkland.
We, the American people, expect that our
representatives will sit together and agree to
achieve this simple goal: Americans must
stop dying at the hands of mass murderers.
I believe we have elected people that are
talented enough to find answers that will
make progress toward that goal. Until then,
I realize that our new normal is not that
deaths will happen, but only how high the
number will be the next time.
On March 24, Americans across the
country will be gathering to send a message
to our legislators that this carnage must
stop. Plan to be there.
Witnessing what may have
been a Japanese attack
The story of the Triple Nickles being
sent here to fight forest fires caused me to
reminisce about the Japanese balloons that
were sent to start forest fires.
In late May 1945 I was 10 years old.
My two younger brothers and I lived on the
Oxbow Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks.
We witnessed a balloon pass over our home.
Our parents were not there at that time.
When they returned we told them what
we had seen and dad contacted the Forest
Service. They told us not to tell anyone.
The next morning our dad picked us up
at school and took us to a secluded spot
where we met three military officers. They
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
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express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
asked what we had seen. They especially
wanted to know if we had seen anything
hanging down from the bottom of the
balloon. The answer was no. They wanted
to know if we had told anyone. Again the
answer was no. They said good because
this was a war secret and we were not tell
Ten days later school was out. A fire
broke out about 200 feet from our house.
The flames were intense and they rose to
a height of about 25 feet through the tree
branches. Fortunately it had rained that day.
Ten gallons of water pumped onto the base
of the fire had no effect and it eventually
Dad notified the military. After several
trips taking samples of soil, fir needles and
tree bark, their analysis to us was it was a
new incendiary substance they described as
Security about this was so important they
didn’t want us to tell anyone. That included
the Forest Service, the fire department or
the police. We later learned the newspapers
had agreed not to publish anything about
these balloons until after the war because
they didn’t want the Japanese to know they
Security about these balloons was so
tight that they told the Forest Service the
balloon we saw was a weather balloon.
That is what they told us initially, but since
it was a special weather balloon we were
not to talk about it. When we had the fire,
of course they had to admit it had been a
Japanese balloon. The Forest Service did
know to be looking for them.
It would not have surprised me if the
Triple Nickles were told they were here
to fight fires and didn’t know about the
balloons. Security was that tight.
oliticians break campaign
promises all the time. Some
“He’s played more golf than most
are big promises; some are
people on the PGA Tour, this guy,”
small. But few have been broken
Trump said in November 2016.
as completely, as brazenly, and as
“What is it, over 300 rounds?”
casually as Donald Trump’s promise
Trump was not the only critic
not to play golf, or at least not to
of Obama’s golf habits. There
play a lot of golf, as president.
were others — like me. During
Candidate Trump told campaign
the Obama years I often tweeted,
crowds many, many times that a
sometimes with an edge of snark,
President Trump would be so busy
about Obama’s trips to the course.
serving the American people that
In August 2011, I tweeted,
golf would be out of the question.
“Obama motorcade leads reporters
“I’m going to be working for you,” he
on winding drive to ... guess what? More
told a campaign rally crowd in August
2016. “I’m not going to have time to play
In April 2012, I tweeted, “Obamacare
in peril, hot-mic embarrassment, economy
“I love golf, but if I were in the White
still terrible. For Obama, there’s only one
House, I don’t think I’d ever see Turnberry
again,” he said in February 2016, referring
In 2013, I tweeted, “Now watch this
to the famous course he owns in Scotland.
drive: Pretty amazing Obama would make
“I don’t think I’d ever see Doral again,” he
big statement on Syria, then head straight to
added, referring to the famous course he
golf course. But that’s what he’s done.” The
owns in Miami. “I don’t ever think I’d see
now-watch-this-drive part was a reference
anything — I just want to stay in the White
to an infamous moment in the George W.
House and work my ass off, make great
Bush presidency in which Bush, beginning
deals, right? Who’s gonna leave?”
a round of golf, spoke to reporters on the
It hasn’t turned out that way.
first tee to denounce a foreign terrorist
As president, Trump has not only found
attack. With barely a beat in between,
time to play the occasional round of golf — Bush segued to “Now watch this drive.”
he has found time to play lots of golf.
The cringeworthy moment was featured
prominently in the Michael Moore anti-war
The White House is not particularly
documentary Fahrenheit 911, and led to
forthcoming about what the president does
Bush’s deciding to forgo playing golf for
when he visits one of his golf courses, so it
is not possible to say with absolute certainty the rest of his presidency.
I noted Obama’s golf so much because
how many times he has played. “No word
in the past many liberals had held
on the president’s activities at the golf
Republican presidents to account for their
club,” read one recent White House pool
golf — for their devotion to a supposedly
report on a visit to the Trump International
rich-guy, country-club sport that revealed
Golf Club in Florida.
just how elitist and out of touch with
But Trump has visited one or the other
of his golf properties about 100 times so far, ordinary Americans they were. In light of
that, Obama’s love of golf needed some
often on beautiful days. On the assumption
that when the president visits a golf course
Now, Trump’s golf gets plenty of press.
on a beautiful day, he is there to play golf,
In literally the last 48 hours, it has been a
it’s reasonable to guess that most of those
feature of stories on CNN, the New York
100 visits to golf properties involved
Post, Mother Jones, Pro Publica, Slate,
playing at least a few holes.
Whatever it is, it’s a significantly faster
Salon, the Daily Beast and more.
clip than predecessor Barack Obama’s golf
Trump made a point in November 2016
numbers. By a count from CBS’s Mark
in which he noted Obama had played about
Knoller, a keeper of presidential records,
300 rounds. “Hey look, it’s good,” Trump
Obama played 29 rounds in his first year
said. “Golf is fine. But always play with
in the White House. But Obama sped up;
leaders of countries and people that can
help us. Don’t play with your friends all the
according to Knoller, he played 64 rounds
in 2016, his last full year in office. Obama’s time.”
It was the most moderate thing Trump
total for two terms was 333 rounds of golf.
said about Obama and golf. Now that he is
Although it’s impossible to say for sure,
president, Trump’s golf is under near-daily
Trump’s first-year total could be in the
scrutiny. Given the broken promise of the
ballpark of Obama’s final-year total. The
campaign, how could it not?
problem for Trump, of course, is that he
slammed Obama repeatedly for playing so
Byron York is chief political
correspondent for The Washington
“He played more golf last year than
Tiger Woods,” Trump said of Obama in
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