Here are excerpts from recent editorials published in other Oregon newspapers:
The Bend Bulletin, Sept. 10, on funding for forest health:
For years the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have had a problem: While federal budgets have included money for fighting wildfires, it often hasn't been enough to get the job done. The budget shortage could be made up by taking money earmarked for forest health restoration, a practice called fire borrowing, leaving the very work that would reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fire short of money.
That's about to change. Maybe. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 included a provision that would end fire borrowing in the federal 2020 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
That was then. Today, just weeks before the fiscal year begins, the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, which oversee the two land management agencies, have failed to include the money Congress hoped would improve forest health even in the event of catastrophic fires.
The lack hasn't gone unnoticed. Oregon's two senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats, joined six other Western Democratic senators in March to write to the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture departments, urging them to include more money for forest health. They note that ending fire borrowing will allow the agencies to save $649 million in fire suppression costs in the 2020 fiscal year, yet none of that money has gone to work on correcting the problems that lead to such fires in the first place.
The two, fire suppression and forest health, are inextricably linked, and funding one half of the pair — fire suppression — without funding the other leaves the country's public lands prone to more, bigger, and more expensive fires in the future. If the proposed federal spending is adopted, there are funds to restore only 3.4 million of the nation's 90 million acres of forest land in need of the work in the coming year.
That's not enough. The administration and Congress must do better.
Recall long shot
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The Medford Mail Tribune, Sept. 4, on recall petitions against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown:
When reporters from the Oregon Capital Bureau interviewed about 30 voters signing recall petitions against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown at the Oregon State Fair, the majority of them had trouble saying exactly why they wanted to recall the governor. That's the first clue that this recall is going nowhere.
The Oregon Constitution doesn't specify reasons for recalling elected officials either; it merely lays out the required number of signatures to put a recall on the ballot — 15% of the number of votes cast for governor in the most recent election — and specifies what happens after enough signatures are turned in. In Brown's case, that means recall supporters need 280,000 valid signatures by Oct. 14.
The official being targeted has the option of resigning. If the official does not resign within five days of the petition being filed, a recall election must be held within 35 days.
Recall has generally been, and ought to be, reserved for corruption or malfeasance, not for policy differences. But even those fair-goers interviewed last week who could clearly state their reasons for signing the petition mentioned legislation, such as a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that failed to pass, not any perceived wrongdoing. Others mentioned business taxes, environmental policies and legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.
In general, signers said Brown was responsible for turning Oregon into a pro-tax, anti-gun and anti-business state, in contrast to what they said was the will of the voters. Beyond that, they just don't like her.
Love her or hate her, Brown has won two elections since taking office upon the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who left under the cloud of an ethics investigation. She won the first contest by nearly 140,000 votes, and the second, for a full term, by almost 120,000 votes in 2018. She cannot run for reelection in 2022 under the state's term-limits law.
Complicating the recall proponents' case is the fact that there are two separate petitions, one sponsored by Michael Cross, a Marion County man with a record of criminal convictions and civil lawsuits against him and his former businesses, and the other by the state Republican Party. The two campaigns are not cooperating, and in fact are sniping at each other. Both appear to be operating in the red, and Cross is accused by former supporters of mismanaging money.
Even if the petitioners manage to collect enough signatures to force a recall election, winning it would be an even longer shot. Proponents would be better off concentrating on finding and supporting a strong candidate to run in 2022 for what will be an open seat.