At 9:35 pm last night a Google News alert told me that the Salem Statesman Journal had put a draft Measure 49 editorial up on its blog. The editorial is scheduled to appear in the Sunday paper.
I immediately clicked on over and read one of the most misleading gutless editorials I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot.
This must be a first: a recommendation for a "no" vote on a ballot measure that doesn't mention a single thing the measure would do.
Dick Hughes, the lead writer for the editorial, doesn't get into the substance of Measure 49 at all. He's only concerned about process – how the measure is 13, 314 words long, how this is one more chapter in Oregon's long history of wrestling with land use issues, how he'd prefer that the Big Look effort propose reforms rather than Measure 49.
No meat (or tofu) to the editorial at all. It's a piece of fluff with zero relevance to the real issues Oregonians are facing after three years of Measure 37.
Should large subdivisions pave over irreplaceable farm, forest, and groundwater limited land? Should Measure 37 claimants be given transferability and inheritability of their waivers, thereby allowing them to develop their land and pass on a claim to heirs after they die? Should industrial and commercial uses be allowed on rural farmland?
We've alerted as many people as we could about this gutless editorial and urged them to send comments to Hughes and the Statesman Journal editorial board.
It's gutless because Hughes' "no" position implicitly favors all of the negative impacts of Measure 37, while rejecting all of the benefits that Measure 49 will bring both to Measure 37 claimants and Oregonians in general.
I've sent Hughes several email messages. So has my wife. Thus far he hasn't responded to any of our substantive comments.
And believe me, we've made a lot – as have many of our neighbors. It sure looks like the Statesman Journal knows next to nothing about Measure 49, because there's no sign that Hughes or anyone else at the newspaper understands the Measure 37 problems that 49 fixes, and why it will be a disaster to leave Measure 37 unchanged.
Here's my most recent message to Hughes. I make a lot of sense. The draft editorial doesn't. I encourage you to read this ridiculous attempt at editorializing and tell Dick Hughes and the editorial board what you think about it: dhughes@StatesmanJournal.com and Salemed@StatesmanJournal.com .
Dick, thanks for the replies. But here's one of my main gripes about your draft editorial: it doesn't say what Measure 49 will do. How the heck can you come out against something that you don't even describe?
I, like lots of other readers, am going to assume that you don't know anything about Measure 49, because all you do is criticize it in extremely broad generalities. That's terrible editorial writing, and horribly unfair to Measure 49.
So if you're going to endorse a "no" vote on 49, at least say this:
"We're opposed to giving claimants for 1-10 home sites transferability rights, so they can easily sell their lots to buyers who want to build a home. We're against allowing Measure 37 claimants to be able to pass their claim on to a spouse when they die.
We favor allowing large subdivisions on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land. We believe the best use of vineyard-ready acreages in the south Salem hills is to pave them over and make them into ranchettes. We like how Measure 37 allows gravel pits, mini-storage businesses, and other commercial uses on rural farmland. It's fine with us if farmers aren't able to continue to farm because they're surrounded by Measure 37 subdivisions."
That's what your draft editorial really say. Except you don't have the guts to say it. You have a fantasy that in couple of years, or whenever the Big Look process comes up with some recommendations, Oregon won't be drastically changed by Measure 37 developments.
You haven't heard Rep. Brian Clem say repeatedly, as I have, that this is Oregon's one chance at fixing the problems with Measure 37.
Again, what I'm most disappointed in, Dick, is that you aren't being straight with your readers. You're taking the easy way out by not describing what Measure 49 will do, and why you're against this (allowing transferability and inheritability of Measure 37 claims, restricting subdivisions on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land, and so on).
Come on. Stand up for what you believe. Support paving over Oregon and continuing to make it almost impossible for small Measure 37 claimants to develop their property.
Lastly, what's the point of your editorial blog, where you solicit feedback from readers, if you've already made your mind up? This is a farce. I suspect the editorial board isn't even going to seriously consider all of the comments in support of Measure 49 that you've gotten from readers in response to your blog post last night.