Spanning the State: Gloomy weather, gloomy state budget edition

Carla Axtman

As Representative Dembrow noted yesterday, the gloomy skies that blanketed much of Oregon this past week reflect the very gloomy budget forecast for our state. Fasten your seatbelts, kids. It's gonna get ugly.

The budget news threatens to overshadow the entire political and policy discussion for the state. Budget cuts and tax overhauls will certainly be part of that conversation. But there's more to Oregon than just red ink and the long term effects of Measure 5. It's time to take a look at what else has been pinging the radar of the gaggling class. So....let's Span the State!


Baker City has quite an ongoing brouhaha that makes the script for Days of Our Lives seem tame. Former City Manager Steve Brocato is suing the city, four city councilors and a local resident. Brocato was fired from his job by the city council and the local resident wrote letters to the editor of the paper that were critical of Brocato. So Brocato has filed a million dollar lawsuit seeking all kinds of damages. Frankly, it's quite a mess. Local citizens seem to be on the side of the councilors, however. They keep voting them back into office--by significant margins.

Gold Beach is about to go all Star Trek, at least in health care. Stroke victims at Curry General Hospital will now be examined by a special robot, used remotely by an on-duty vascular neurologist at St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. The doctor will be able to see and talk with the patient, nurse and local doctor and conduct a detailed neurological exam. He/she can review lab results, CT scans, etc. streamed from the ER to Portland on a secure encrypted broadband channel. Way cool.

If there's a special place for people who've sown more than their fair share of bad karma, this guy should be at the front of the line to get there. Jeez.

After a rash of livestock kills by wolves, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is issuing permits to landowners in Wallowa County to kill them. This is a change of course for ODFW, who was under pressure after ranchers began to protest following wolf attacks on calves.

Last April, the Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene uncovered a cache of racist and otherwise inappropriate emails that had come from the City of Eugene Springfield Department of Public Works. The head of Public Works had been given some of the emails in February and the City had already begun to investigate the problem before the RG brought it to light. City officials are still apparently struggling to develop and implement a comprehensive response and fix. A general consensus appears to be forming that the problem may stem, in part, from a lack of diversity in the work place. One observer noted that budget slashing has forced staff cuts for positions that focus on multicultural hiring and training. Seems reasonable. But one hopes that the city could simply hire grown-ups who don't feel the need to tear other people down. Apparently that's just too much to ask without diversity training.

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