As much as things stay the same, sometimes they also change
Scrolling through the Opinion page of BendSource.com at the end of the year gave the Editorial Board a bird's-eye view of the issues important to us and the wider community. It's a good exercise to help distill down the issues that pop up over and over. Sometimes you can see small changes, sometimes only a rehash of the same players and the same challenges. Because this section of the paper is, by its very nature, intended to point us all toward forward progress, it's interesting to note when things change and when they stay the same—and why one or the other may be the right move for our community.
As we move into 2019, here are some excerpts from the editorials we wrote this past year. These represent some of the ongoing issues we covered and where they stand now.
On accountability among public figures
"Since the advent of the #MeToo movement, more than a few people have wondered, perhaps overly dramatically, where it all ends. In this fraught social moment, how can they ever ask another person out on a date, they've wondered. And what's to become of them if they're accused—even falsely—of impropriety against someone else? While it's a vast oversimplification, let those two words be guides: consent and accountability."
This editorial covered the allegations a local woman made against Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie, who was running for House District 54. The woman said Boddie groped her in 2012—an accusation which Boddie responded to by accusing the woman of substance abuse. We argued that Boddie's behavior in the wake of the incident failed the tests of consent and accountability. Boddie remained in the House race, but lost to Cheri Helt.
On the value of journalism in society
"We aren't the enemy of the people. We ARE the people" – 8/15
"We've been complacent. We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is. But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president."
This editorial—a version of which was published in thousands of media outlets across the country—represented a collective effort among journalists to remind Americans of our vital role as the watchdogs of society. Also as members of this society, we have a vested interest in progress, accountability and justice. The president continues to paint journalists as "enemies of the people," while at the same time, former members of his staff face criminal charges and ongoing investigations stemming from foreign influence in the 2016 election.
"...even with legislative progress, it's hard to ignore that so much of the fire problem is already a result of human activity."
In the wake of a devastating fire season throughout the West, this was a reminder that a legislative solution to handling fires is just part of the equation.
On regulation of the legal marijuana market
"Don't let legal businesses get the short shrift" - 11/14
"Republicans pride themselves on a pro-business stance, advocating in favor of allowing the free market to reflect the will of the people. Republicans usually say that when people are gainfully employed, they require fewer social services. With jobs, people can pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps and take care of themselves. All of that is why it is so puzzling that the Deschutes County Commissioners would take so many actions to effectively squash a local industry—one that continues to gain support nationwide."
Here, we shed light on the challenges legal marijuana businesses face, and the positive economic impact those businesses have had on Oregon—all as they continue to face further restrictions on their industry from the Deschutes County Commission, who says it's in the interest of "safety."
On the City of Bend's septic-to-sewer conversion
"Much effort and collaboration has gone into finding a realistic solution to the septic to sewer conversion issue, and our elected officials at the city, county and otherwise should recognize that collaboration, and stop proposing more ways to kick the can down the road."
This editorial pointed out some of the back-and-forth legal wrangling involved in attempting to move hundreds of homes in Bend to a new sewer system. While we acknowledge that the City decided to build a sewer without making provisions for how homeowners would pay for the conversion, we posited that asking the Department of Environmental Quality to relax its rules would not be a viable solution to fix the current mess.
As we move into 2019, here's hoping it will be a year of even more forward progress and accountability in our community and nationwide.