Thackaberry focusing on schools, drugs, jobs

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Dan Thackaberry is talking about schools, the meth problem and jobs as he campaigns for the state House District 17 seat in his challenge against incumbent Sherrie Sprenger in the Nov. 4 election.

Schools are failing, he said. “We’ve got to get more resources to the students.”

Some classes don’t have enough desks or books, he said. Class size is an issue.

“That’s where our schools are failing,” he said. “We’re not getting enough resources into the classroom.”

The state budget needs to be reprioritized, he said. In this case, he suggests diverting money from corrections to schools.

“We’re having a meth epidemic,” he said. “It’s fueling 90 percent of our property crime.”

Also, 90 percent of child abuse takes place in homes with meth users, he said.

Oregon attempts to solve the drug problem with a jail cell, he said. It’s not working. He wants to mandate drug treatment programs rather than incarceration. Addicts can be cleaned up in treatment and then return to the community as productive citizens.

The most expensive drug treatment program is only two-thirds the cost of incarceration, Thackaberry said. Shifting this spending means less spent on incarceration and more to spend on education.

Texas, he said, saved some $250 million last year by mandating drug treatment instead of incarceration.

To help prevent meth and drug addiction in the first place, he said, he would like to start running drug prevention programs in schools again.

“We’ve made the terrible mistake of cutting that funding,” he said. “We need to tell kids that particularly meth is such an addictive drug, you’re going to be addicted after one time using it.”

To further highlight his point, Oregon spends more on incarceration than on higher education, he said.

Thackaberry said he would like to see more funding for community colleges and reductions in tuition. When he was younger, “it was easier to go to college.”

A summer job would pay for community college the following school year, he said. Now graduates leave college as much as $50,000 in debt.

He isn’t solely looking for the savings by reprioritizing funds and the fight against meth, he said. Oregon is funded largely by income taxes. When drug addicts are successfully treated, they’ll begin working, providing more tax revenue.

While Thackaberry would like to direct meth users into treatment, he said, the state also needs hard penalties for those who manufacture and sell meth.

“They’re ruining our communities by supplying that dangerous drug,” he said.

Oregon doesn’t need to be using jail cells for addicts, he said. “At the rate we’re going, we won’t be able to build jails fast enough. They need to be cleaned up.

“(Thirty years of data show that) once you get that monkey off their back, they don’t go back.”

Thackaberry ties together solutions for the meth problem and education. He also links solutions for economic development and encouraging the growth an alternative fuels industry.

He would like to put Oregon forests back into use supplying cellulosic ethanol and, with a number of crops, biodiesel, he said. Oregon has an abundance of woody biomass and even straw grass that can be used as alternative fuels

“I believe Oregon can be an energy exporter,” he said. “We’ve seen what making ethanol out of corn has done,” and it doesn’t provide much energy for the cost.

“We have a lot of forestlands in this state,” he said. Any time it’s logged, there’s wood waste. Instead of burning the slash, it could be used.

Douglas County has a small plant doing just that, he said, and a large plant is coming on-line soon in southern Washington. Oregon has the infrastructure to handle the wood already in place.

“All it takes is possibly a tax incentive,” he said. The industry could use the waste, and forests need thinning.

“One of the problems is our forests are not being thinned,” he said. They’re catastrophic fire hazards.

“This is jobs,” he said. “This is a way to put people back to work. This state spends an awful lot of effort trying to bring jobs to the state. We’re looking the wrong way.”

He doesn’t expect opposition from environmentalists.

“Nobody is opposed to thinning,” he said. “A number of people are opposed to cutting old growth. We have a lot of second growth (even third growth) we need to get into. Currently, it has no value because you can’t do anything with it,” but the fight is over old growth.

The second- and third-growth timber may not have value as lumber, but trees less than 6 inches in diameter would have value as alternative fuels.

Wood is cheaper than using crops like corn for ethanol, he said. Trees can be planted and left to grow on their own, and they fix a lot of carbon.

“We need to wean ourselves off of imported oil,” he said. He supports drilling off shore for oil, but he insists that should come with new refineries, providing the jobs here rather than overseas.

Oil exported from Alaska’s North Slope is exported, he said. “It’s not doing us any good.”

He would like to drill right here in the valley too, he said. There’s oil and gas underneath the valley. His own farm, along with many farms throughout the valley, have oil leases already.

Thackaberry’s fourth priority is rebuilding Oregon’s transportation infrastructure, including roads and bridges, he said.

For further information about Dan Thackaberry visit his Web site at farmerdan.org.

Gun Control

Dan Thackaberry is a National Rifle Association member, he said. The regulations already in place on guns are enough.

“I’m not in favor of any more control,” he said. The Supreme Court affirmed citizens’ rights to have firearms in this year’s case Heller vs. Washington D.C.

Abortion

“I’m like everybody,” he said. “Nobody is pro-abortion. Sometimes unpleasant circumstances come up, like rape and incest (and the mother’s life is endangered). I’m going to make sure that those people don’t become victims twice.”

Abortion should not be used for birth control, he said, but abortion on demand must be protected.

“In cases of rape and incest, the criminal justice system moves so slowly, they have to have abortion on demand,” he said. If a woman had to wait for a rape to be proved, it would be too late to allow her the option of abortion, and she would become a second victim.

“It’s a shame,” he said.

One of the reasons he is a Democrat is because when Democrats lead, the number of abortions always declines, he said. Democrats favor social programs, helping solve the dilemma faced by a young pregnant woman.

“It’s about caring about people even after they’re born, not just before, having compassion and being our brother’s keeper,” he said.

Illegal Immigration

He opposes unconditional amnesty, he said. He supports a case-by-case provision of amnesty to prevent breaking up families by sending illegal aliens back to Mexico.

“The problem is this country has been lax,” he said. “We’ve allowed people to come here for so long, (and now it’s like) ‘you’ve been here for 20 years and now you have to go back.'”

The federal government has dropped the ball, once again, he said, but “we do have a need for a labor force.”

In Oregon, he would like to see the state issue a blue card to legal immigrants, he said. That would take the burden off the employers to figure out whether an immigrant is legal or not. The illegal immigrants have access to fraudulent identification.

That’s the problem with the Oregon license fiasco, he said. People who have lived in Oregon all their lives must come up with ID while the frauds are able to fraudulently produce the needed documents.

Bailout

“I think that we shouldn’t be bailing out these large investment banks and insurance companies,” he said. “We’re going to have to do something, (but) it’s usually a scam or fraud when they come and say, ‘You’ve got to act right now.'”

He wanted to see the federal government act slowly, including checks and balances, he said. “The market may heal itself anyway. I’m not sure we need to rush into this bailout.”

Drug Testing

If a bill were written right, he may support drug testing for people who receive public assistance, he said. Ninety percent of child abuse occurs in homes where meth is used.

“We have to do something,” he said. “Part of that help, we’ll get you off this terrible drug.”

The state needs a way to identify drug addicts and get them treatment, he said. He is concerned about people who need assistance being too scared to come forward.

It needs to be a situation where “we’re here to help, particularly if they have dependent children,” he said. “We’re our brother’s keeper. We have to help.”

“Under God” in the Pledge

“I say it every time,” he said. “I’m a Christian. I belong to the First United Methodist Church here in Lebanon. But I’m not going to make somebody else say it.”

With freedom of speech, “you have a right not to say if you choose,” he said.

Iraq

“It’s time to bring the troops home,” he said. National Guard units from Oregon are deployed or ready to deploy.

“It’s hard on their families. It’s time we said, ‘Enough. Let our troops come home.’

“I certainly think until we do, we’re not doing enough to help families of National Guardsmen.”

For many, it’s a pay cut to serve, and that makes it difficult for them to make ends meet and make their house payments, he said. That’s an area where the state can help, and he would like to ensure that no Guardsman loses his job while away and that soldiers are able to transition smoothly to civilian life, providing resources for them to integrate back into civilian life and deal with post traumatic stress disabilities.

Education Standards and

No Child Left Behind Act

Oregon schools don’t have enough resources to do what the standards say, he said. “When you give someone a task and don’t give them the tools to do the task, of course there’s going to be failure.”

Economic Difficulties

and Tax Revenue

“We’re spending too much money on incarceration,” he said. Even in bad times, “we can save some money that way (mandated drug treatment instead of incarceration). It’s not good sense to raise taxes in tough times.”

One tax he does support right now is a new 7-cent property tax to support the OSU Extension Service and 4-H on the ballot in Linn County, he said. “It’s a good one. We have to do this because we lost the (timber) payments.”

The county is not going to be able to fund the service any more, he said.

He is not supportive of other taxes, he said. The state has a rainy-day fund after businesses offered their corporate kicker last year to fund it.

Universal Health Care

“That would be great,” he said. “it would be great if the federal government would do something.”

The United States has the most expensive health care in the world, but it’s not the healthiest nation, he said. Other countries have systems that work, and he thinks the nation could look to them, taking the features that work the best.

In Oregon, more than 100,000 children are not covered, he said. He would like to see the state do something, but “it’s going to be difficult in a recession to come up with something.”

Speed Limit

He won’t introduce a bill to raise state highway and freeway speed limits, he said, but he may support one.

Ducks or Beavers

Beavers.

Country or Rock ‘n’ Roll

Crossover.

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