Commentary

Should visitors to Portland be afraid? Not really.

BY: - October 3, 2022

Earlier this month I sat with several friends at a sidewalk table at a coffee shop just south of downtown Portland. The scene was nearly identical – same businesses, same kind of traffic, human and vehicular – as when we’d met in the same place several years before. It looked friendly, prosperous and safe.  I […]

Governor’s debate fractured, with 2 candidates on one side of an issue, another opposed

BY: - September 29, 2022

In a group of three, two usually line up – and did in the latest Oregon gubernatorial debate A two-way contest of any sort is a relatively simple matter of one side gaining more than the other. Add a third side to the picture and it becomes much more complicated.  In Oregon’s race for governor, […]

Clean Fuels Program cuts pollution, invests in health

BY: - September 22, 2022

That climate change is a public health crisis, as well as an environmental crisis, should come as no surprise.  Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division now recognizes wildfire smoke as a threat to workers, and extreme heat killed over 100 people in Oregon during last year’s heat dome. The heatwave in July was one of […]

Is Oregon ripe for ranked choice voting?

BY: - September 20, 2022

With three serious gubernatorial candidates on the ballot in November and the theoretical possibility of a new governor elected with 34% of the vote, Oregon might consider an election tool that recently got a lot of attention in Alaska and seems ripe for consideration here: ranked choice voting.  The probability – at least, if polling […]

Official ballot site election

Let’s not give up on democracy but agree on how to make it better

BY: - September 15, 2022

This column is part of a project called Democracy Day, in which newsrooms across the country are shining a light on threats to democracy. We have long celebrated states as laboratories of democracy. But many states have begun to apply their experiments to the workings of democracy itself – reassessing who should be able to […]

Oregon burns again in September, bringing more evidence of climate change

BY: - September 13, 2022

It is September, and once again Oregon is burning.   From my perch in a fire tower in the central Oregon Cascades, I can see nothing but smoke. Satellite images confirm that the Northwest is engulfed in dark, ashy clouds. And I wonder: Will we ever again feel that end of summer swoon that comes as […]

Planned Easterday Dairy in Morrow County racks up violations and is proposed on an ill-suited site

BY: - September 12, 2022

The family saga of a proposed mega-dairy in Morrow County, in the wake of a  multimillion dollar fraud involving imaginary cattle, has a new twist. The Easterdays, who’ve been pushing since 2019 to open a huge dairy in Boardman, have already racked up 11 separate environmental violations, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. And […]

Oregon’s unaffiliated voters: more partisan than you might think

BY: - September 5, 2022

If Oregon’s registered Democrats vote Democratic in this November’s general election, and the Republicans vote Republican, those numbers alone won’t come close to settling the deal.  A big reason: The largest group of voters in Oregon are the NAVs – those who register as “nonaffiliated.”  (Disclosure: I’m one of them.) But what does that mean […]

Heat pumps can help Oregonians achieve clean cooling

BY: - September 2, 2022

Extreme heat has blanketed Oregon this week, as it has in recent sweltering summers.  To stay safe, some residents of the four in 10 Oregon households that lack air conditioning are seeking relief in community centers, shopping malls and libraries.  But what happens when it’s time to go home? What relief do seniors or the […]

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan corrects only one problem of unsustainable college debt

BY: - August 30, 2022

President Biden’s decision to forgive up to $20,000 in unpaid college loans has reignited debate over the responsibilities of taxpayers, students and their families to sustain a “learn now, pay later” system that has become for many a path to indentured obligation rather than a portal to expanded opportunity.  It has also exposed yet another […]

Oregon’s public defense system needs an overhaul

BY: - August 29, 2022

One of the recurring plot points in the much-praised and just-ended TV series “Better Call Saul” concerned the stretched resources and minimal pay of public defenders, the attorneys who represent accused criminals who otherwise can’t afford to hire legal help.  The show was set in New Mexico (which does have public defender problems) but the […]

Oregon, Washington 3rd districts might decide control of U.S. House 

BY: - August 26, 2022

Are the two districts most directly facing each other across the Columbia, the third congressional districts of Washington and Oregon, really the same kind of district – only on opposite sides? Control of the U.S. House next year could hinge on the answer.  Washington’s Congressional District 3, site of a dramatic primary election and possibly […]