The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Merkley reference in editorial a 'cheap shot'


September 19, 2018


Lest you believe that I am a transplanted “Big-City Liberal,” I should introduce myself and my background.

I consider myself to be a “middle of the road” progressive. I was raised rurally, most of that time on an Oregon farm, and served four years in the military during the Vietnam conflict.

I knew, and know many people who made their living in the timber industry, and several who died in that line of work (including my wife’s uncle Rex). I am sensitive to the needs of rural and semi-rural Oregon communities. I am a relative newcomer to Sweet Home, having moved here 5 years ago from the rural southern Willamette Valley.

Having stated that, I am increasingly bothered by The New Era “Editorial Staff” due to the manner that he, she, or they cannot seem to write clear, on-point opinions without wandering into areas that are not germane to the issue that they are supposedly writing about.

Case in point: The “Editorial Staff” of The New Era presented an editorial in the Sept. 5 issue of the New Era in which the focus was supposedly on potential problems associated with a quorum of councilors attending events and festivities in our nation’s capital during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree later this fall.

The editorial correctly pointed out potential issues of this possible out-of-sight quorum, from the “appearance of appearances” to actual violations of state ethics laws.

But by the sixth paragraph, the “Editorial Staff” segued off subject and attacked Sen. Jeff Merkley for supposedly failing to deal with the “problems that have left Sweet Home and other rural Oregon communities economically depleted for decades” (along with other miscellaneous attacks and derision).

The editorial (including the title of the editorial) was supposedly about city councilors’ avoiding quorum and ethics violations while representing Sweet Home during the National Tree lighting… But instead, not so unexpectedly, it turned into a broadside of one of Oregon’s two senators.

I say “not so unexpectedly,” because recently the “Editorial Staff” took a similar segue when opining on the issue of the new ordinance regarding supplemental housing being built in single-family-home zoned properties to help with “affordable housing.”

In that editorial, they segued from new small housing and accompanying rules, to homelessness, and home affordability and then, finally attacked any notion that maybe minimum wage should be increased, thereby helping people afford housing. The “Editorial Staff” at The New Era cannot seem to stay on subject.

In the instant case (the Sept. 5 editorial), the segue contained a cheap shot at Senator Jeff Merkley. Merkley has not been in federal office “for decades.”

Accordingly, he is not responsible for the plight that Sweet Home and other rural communities have suffered due to timber policy related issues. Jeff Merkley is from rural Oregon, and understands rural issues.

Sen. Merkley was the only U.S. senator to endorse Bernie Sanders for President. So, based on that, Sen. Merkley was clearly in favor of spending our tax dollars on us, the people, through government infrastructure projects similar to those of the New Deal.

His positions and platforms would have helped small towns and rural Oregonians if enacted. So, it is grossly inaccurate for “Editorial Staff” to accuse otherwise.

The Wal-mart-ization and Financial-ization of our economy is as responsible as anything else for the difficulty small towns have in securing a sound economy.

Secondly, the editorial brought up the fact that our city representatives would be meeting with our Oregon representatives (which may include Senators Wyden, Merkley and Rep. DeFazio). Does the “editorial staff” not understand that the staffs of Merkley, Wyden and DeFazio most likely monitor Oregon newspapers and may bring those remarks to the senator’s attention?

Does The New Era really think that taking shots immediately before the meetings between city representatives and lawmakers will actually enhance the possibility of fruitful discussions for the good of Sweet Home citizens?

The New Era is a valuable part of this community.

But just like the rest of us, it should know when it’s best to be temporarily silent. We have elected city leaders about to “bend the ears” of our elected federal lawmakers. Is it wise for members of this community to throw stones in the direction of any of those lawmakers in advance of those discussions?

Which members of our community benefit from such ill-timed “stone-throwing”? None that I can think of… and certainly not our city officials who are hoping to find sympathetic ears while they are in Washington DC.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Gary Jarvis

Sweet Home


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