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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (July 11, 2019)
Thursday, July 11, 2019
KATHRYN B. BROWN
WYATT HAUPT JR.
Founded October 16, 1875
A fine recipe for disaster
ot many will admit it, but the
fact is a lot of us text while
we are behind the wheel. And
many more talk on the phone while
Both of those by now ingrained hab-
its for most of us will be under the
spotlight, thanks to a Distracted Driv-
ing Enforcement Grant the Hermiston
Police Department recently received
through Oregon Impact, a nonprofit that
advocates against impaired and dis-
The $4,000 grant is the first of its
kind received by the HPD, which also
pursues grants supporting high visibil-
ity and DUII enforcement.
And, according to the numbers, it’s a
grant that can be put to good use.
According to the Oregon Depart-
ment of Transportation, there are four
types of distracted driving — visual,
auditory, manual, and cognitive. One of
the most prominent behaviors, which
can involve all four types of distracted
driving, is cellphone use.
Between 2013 and 2017, 20 people in
Oregon died and more than 1,500 have
been injured due to crashes involving
cellphone use behind the wheel. This
EO Media Group File Photo
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, there are four types of distracted
driving — visual, auditory, manual, and cognitive. One of the most prominent behaviors,
which can involve all four types of distracted driving, is cellphone use.
includes 158 people who were injured
while in the car with a driver between
the ages of 16 and 18, who was using a
cellphone at the time of an accident.
Those numbers are up from a sim-
ilar ODOT report from 2011 and 2015
where drivers using cellphones caused
917 crashes that killed 14 people and
inflicted 1,330 injuries.
The number of crashes in the city of
Hermiston has increased 10% the past
five years as the city’s population has
expanded from over 17,340 to 18,200
Those are eye-opening numbers.
Especially when the event that triggered
the crashes — cellphone use — could
be easily avoided.
The fact is even one crash that
injures or kills an Oregonian is one
crash too many.
“There’s a significant difference
between talking on a cellphone and tex-
ting on a cellphone,” said Hermiston
Police Department Chief Jason Edmis-
ton. “There may be some sort of justi-
fication for someone talking on a cell-
phone. Texting on a cellphone, there’s
no rhyme or reason. Pull over if it’s that
Cellphones have changed our cul-
ture. And they are a useful, handy tool
most of us count on. Yet their very use-
fulness has lulled drivers into a sense of
apathy regarding just how dangerous it
is to utilize them behind the wheel. For
a car accident to occur, it takes only a
few seconds, usually far too fast for the
driver to react to avoid a collision. Add
that fact to the distraction of talking on
the phone — or worse, texting — and a
fine recipe for disaster is in play.
Let’s face it, we all have spent time
talking on the phone and texting while
driving, and for the most part we get
away with it. Usually. But not always.
District voters get
final say on Boquist
overlooked in town hall
A recent news article in the East Orego-
nian about Congressman Walden’s town hall
in Athena made it appear that it was full of
disagreement and strife. In reality, the town
hall was friendly and welcoming just like
the people of Umatilla County. The town
hall focused on support for Walden’s efforts
toward forest management reform done in a
way that can reduce the chances of wildfires
and thereby also reducing carbon emissions.
Rather, the news article fixated on one man’s
question about the Green New Deal, which
is a piece of extreme and costly legislation
that will only hurt people in Umatilla County.
Congressman Walden has been both a great
friend and supporter of people living in rural
Oregon and it is a shame that this article did
not reflect that point.
I attended Congressman Walden’s town
hall event on June 30 and wanted to high-
light an important topic to me that your recent
news article conveniently glossed over.
It seems like every day I get an automated
call requesting my personal or financial infor-
mation. Not only do these calls annoy me by
interrupting my day, but their access to my
personal phone number feels invasive.
I was pleased to hear that Walden has
taken action on this issue in Washington. He
is currently championing legislation to stop
these robocalls from scamming Oregonians
and pestering us constantly.
I appreciate him addressing issues like this
that affect Oregonians like myself every day.
It’s how he’s earned my support.
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.
Balance needed when
reporting on Walden
When I read your recent article on Con-
gressman Greg Walden’s town hall in Athena,
I wondered at such a different experience that
reporter had from mine.
I was so impressed with Congressman
Walden’s thorough knowledge of every sub-
ject that came up, whether the border crisis
(which he has personally visited) to the opioid
crisis, to the forests.
He advocates for improved forest manage-
ment for reduction of wildfires and the tons
of carbon and pollution they emit, when an
actively managed forest is an agent to seques-
ter carbon rather than emitting it like our cur-
rent neglected forest lands. We should be
getting good paying jobs for rural communi-
ties, whereas the Green New Deal the East
Oregonian seems to support will do just the
I was very interested when he mentioned
research developed at OSU in use in Idaho of
advanced nuclear energy with modular reac-
tors, no emissions, plus new developments in
hydropower when you need it in the amount
One commented on a desire for Congress
to work together. Congressman Walden men-
tioned all the many bills passed with bipar-
tisan support, but he said the media is not
interested in that, they only report on any con-
troversy. The EO fell right in line, ignoring a
mostly supportive group for a rude dissenter.
Congressman Walden won Umatilla
County by a 2:1 margin; it would be nice if
the local paper would report on the many sup-
portive comments and not refer to the meeting
as “testy.” Balance in reporting was missing.
erhaps the action taken by the
Senate Special Committee on
Conduct against state Sen. Brian
Boquist is meant only as a placeholder
until an investigation into his threats
against Senate President Peter Court-
ney and Oregon State Police troopers
In an extraordinary session held
on Monday, the four senators on the
committee decided against barring
Boquist from the state Capitol until
the investigation is complete; that
might take a couple of months. But
the senators, two Democrats and two
Republicans, eventually told Boquist
that he can only report to the Cap-
itol if he provides 12 hours’ notice.
The extra time allows officials to
arrange for additional state troopers
to ensure the safety of employees and
When the full investigation is over,
the Senate then can decide what sanc-
tions, if any, should be taken against
Boquist: It could vote to expel him,
but that would require a two-thirds
vote of the Senate, and no senator
ever has been expelled. It could elect
to censure him — essentially pub-
licly condemning his actions — but
that hasn’t happened since 1971. In
any event, judging by Monday’s hear-
ing, there doesn’t seem to be much
appetite among the committee mem-
bers for taking strong action against
So a final judgment on Boquist
may well rest among the voters in
his Senate District 12, a mid-valley
district that includes rural portions
of Benton County north and south
of Corvallis. But even assuming he
files for re-election in 2020, chance
are he would be a heavy favorite: In
his three races for the Senate, he has
never drawn less than 60 percent of
the vote in general elections.
As you know, Boquist is in trou-
ble because of his reprehensible com-
ments made just before Senate Repub-
licans walked out of the Capitol for
a second time in this year’s session.
Their goal was to prevent the Sen-
ate from achieving a quorum, which
requires 20 of its 30 members. With-
out a quorum, the Before the sec-
ond walkout, Gov. Kate Brown hinted
that she would consider sending Ore-
gon State Police troopers to round up
Republicans if they walked out.
Boquist didn’t care for that: On the
floor of the Senate on June 19, he told
Senate President Courtney that “if
you send the state police to get me,
hell is coming to visit you personally.”
Later that day, Boquist told report-
ers for a Portland TV station that any
troopers summoned to bring him back
to the Capitol needed to be “bach-
elors” and should “come heavily
armed.” Boquist has not taken back
the statements, although he has apolo-
gized to Courtney.
Some of Boquist’s defenders have
said that his statements were meant
as hyperbole and were rashly made in
the heat of the moment. That may be.
But it doesn’t matter: These are not
statements that a responsible elected
official should make. And consider
this: If a student at a university or
school campus or a worker in a pri-
vate business made similar statements
on social media, they’d prompt imme-
diate attention from authorities. They
are not the sort of statements that
can be blithely ignored, especially in
In fact, Brenda Baumgart, an out-
side lawyer hired to investigate the
matter, determined that Boquist’s
statements “constitute credible threats
of violence directed at the senate pres-
ident and Oregon state police.” She
also found that the threats violated the
Legislature’s rule against workplace
harassment. She urged the committee
to ban Boquist from the Capitol until
her investigation was finished, advice
that the committee did not follow.
The finished investigation may
change some minds, but at this point
we’d be surprised if Boquist faced
tough sanctions from the Senate,
although we think censure is war-
ranted. But it may fall to the voters to
issue a final verdict.
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