By editorial board • 

Editorial warnings of the past come true in three local cases

The juxtaposition of National Newspaper Week and a trio of news stories breaking on the local front prompts us to take readers on a tour of editorial memory lane.

Admittedly, there’s a thread of “we told you so” in these elements. However, our aim is not to gloat. It is to urge  greater appreciation for the only source of local news and opinion unencumbered by a subterranean tangle of financial, political and ideological obligations.

The flood of propaganda dominating the airwaves, social media channels and U.S. mail is predicated on such obligations — something the self-dealing purveyors typically do their best to obscure or distort. National Newspaper Week’s core goal is making the contrast clear, which is essential to the long-term health, if not the very survival, of our democracy.

The stories we have in mind reveal legal action the state Department of Justice is taking against Yamhill County over its hollow gun sanctuary gamesmanship; the slick end-around the nursing home industry has taken to continue forcing taxayers to subsidize its private, for-profit operations; and sanctions the federal Evironmental Protection Agency is imposing on Riverbend Landfill for its disregard of longstanding clean air standards.

On May 8, 2020, we warned against electing a strident ideologue like Lindsay Berschauer to the county board of commissioners, noting, among other things, that she favored “declaring Yamhill County a sanctuary from enforcement of gun restrictions.”

On March 5, 2021, after Berschauer won election anyway, we argued that county declaration of a so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary would be “symbolic rather than substantive” and prove “dangerous, divisive and foolish.” We went on to note its constitutional flaws would “subject the county, and thus all of the country’s taxpaying citizens, to potential legal fees.”

Unfortunately, that has now come sadly and expensively true.

In 2018 and 2019, we applauded the city of McMinnville when it moved to start charging the nursing home industry for routine non-emergency care services, such as using highly trained medics to lift patients into bed or ferry them to the hospital for an after-hours prescription. We noted those had come to account for more than one-third of local EMS calls, which are underwritten by taxpayers at great expense.

On Oct. 18, 2019, we urged voters to reject repeal of the new charges in a special referendum election drawing a record $160,000 investment, $40 per voter, despite lack of any organized opposition. We accused the industry of mounting a “con” based on a “barrage of scare tactics.”

But big money prevailed, as is so often the case. And the industry quietly followed up with legislation banning such moves statewide, even though an enterprise piece in The Oregonian shows it is riding on taxpayer coattails everywhere, imposing a backbreaking burden on thinly stretched emergency services in the process.

On March 8, 2019, we argued that any justification for Riverbends’s continued riverfront run in our tourist-oriented wine industry town had long since “come and gone.” We said, “The time has come for the company to initiate an orderly closure and reclamation process,” saying it “owes that to the community.”

But thanks largely to a seemingly endless flow of support from the county, including a recent sweetheart deal substantially reducing its fee burden, the longstanding blight on our local environment continues. A county commission majority still seems to harbor hope of facilitating an expansion in lieu of a shutdown.

We base our editorial advice on measured, fact-based assessment of what’s best for the community. We don’t promise revealed truth, but do promise independent evaluation, untainted by oft-hidden special-interest ties. And that’s worth a lot in today’s toxic political environment.