Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:
The Bend Bulletin, Oct. 16, on having no need for Buehler’s tax returns:
It should come as no surprise that two former Oregon governors, both Democrats, have asked Republican Knute Buehler to make his full tax return public. He should just say no.
The idea behind the request is, of course, to embarrass Buehler, a successful surgeon and, among other things, inventor. Orthopedic surgeons like Buehler tend to make more than many other people.
Again, that should come as no surprise. Surgeons cut people open, often restoring their ability to walk and otherwise use their limbs. Should they not be paid well?
No doubt former governors Ted Kulongoski and Barbara Roberts are far less interested in seeing Gov. Kate Brown’s tax returns. For one thing, she’s already made them public. Too, her earnings as governor are a matter of public record and can be found with a quick Google search.
Her income is, no doubt, less than Buehler’s, but then, she can’t solve the life-and-death problems her opponent can.
Nor is anything wrong with the fact that Buehler took advantage of the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit program in 2008. He was not a politician then, and BETC was not yet the embarrassment it was to become.
In any case, he used the BETC program in exactly the way it was supposed to be used, serving as a “pass through” partner and allowing an Oregon biofuels company without taxable income to take advantage of the credits.
Buehler comes from surprisingly humble roots, given what he’s accomplished as an adult. Voters worried that he may not identify with their struggles should keep that in mind. They also should ignore the latest attempt by Oregon Democrats to paint the candidate as something he isn’t.
Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oct. 16, on getting answers on OHSU heart program:
It’s been more than six weeks since Oregon Health & Science University shut down the state’s only heart transplant program, and we’re still waiting for answers about what happened.
For some in the mid-valley, it’s a wait of considerable urgency.
Dianna Howell of North Albany was one of 20 patients on a waiting list for a new heart through OHSU when the Portland hospital suddenly closed its transplant program. The closure came after all four of the program’s cardiologists quit.
It’s still not clear what happened to prompt the mass resignations: At the time, OHSU said internal issues along with career and family reasons were responsible for the departures.
Danny Jacobs, the new president of OHSU, has called for a review of the program to see if there’s more to the story than that. (And, without prejudging the investigation, there certainly is a sense that there is more.)
Jacobs told The Oregonian newspaper last month that he wants an outside group of experts to interview the transplant team members and others. He has said that those discussions will be confidential - but promised that OHSU would make its findings public. The review wasn’t scheduled to begin until October, and likely will take months.
Jacobs also said it was his goal to revive the transplant program at OHSU, but that will take additional months, if not years.
In all likelihood, Howell doesn’t have that much time.
Howell is still waiting to be accepted into a similar program elsewhere. She has made trips to Seattle to meet with doctors in the University of Washington system, and while those visits have been encouraging, she’s still not enrolled in that program. And she may only have another two months to live without a new heart.
While she still has hopes that the Washington program will find room for her, Howell and her husband, Jeff, also are checking out a Mayo Clinic program in Phoenix.
Howell said the remaining staff members at OHSU have been supportive, calling frequently to check up on her. The hospital also is helping to pay for her travel to Washington and Arizona.
All of that is helpful. But it would be particularly helpful if OHSU moved heaven and earth to be certain that each of its 20 patients left in limbo found a place with another transplant program. We understand that this may be difficult. But it also seems to us that this is something that OHSU absolutely must do - and time is of the essence.
The Register-Guard, Oct. 13, on teachers being more valuable than their salaries reflect:
Every weekend, off-the-clock, teachers are home grading papers, crafting assignments and even scouring garage sales for classroom “finds” that they pay for out of their own wallets. This is the work of devoted teachers, those entrusted to help mold the next generation of Americans. It’s time they received the respect they deserve.
Teachers today are expected to teach to the test, help children learn to think creatively and, in some cases, blot out a child’s chaotic home life. It’s hard work and important work. Yet Americans clearly undervalue these college graduates, many of whom hold advanced degrees. Sure, we can tell ourselves that teachers know the pay scales before they enter the profession. But just because teachers traditionally have been modestly paid is no excuse to continue doing so.
A study published last month by the Oregon Center for Public Policy says school teachers in Oregon are paid 22 percent less in weekly wages than private sector workers with similar levels of education and experience. Even when Oregon’s generous public retirement and health care benefits are factored into the calculation, teachers still make 9 percent less.
OCPP’s analysis had shortcomings. For example, it lumped some high-demand, high-paying science, engineering and math degrees into the calculations. That’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.
Meanwhile, OCPP itself is a left-aligned think tank that supports public sector unions and receives some of its funding from them. It has an agenda.
Furthermore, research at Portland State University has found the total compensation of studied school districts in Oregon was comparable or better than peer districts in Washington and Idaho. The big driver of differences was health care costs. Oregon schools spend far more on health care for teachers than other states.
Oregon public school teachers are also beneficiaries of the extremely generous Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), which is so badly underfunded that it is siphoning education dollars out of classrooms to remain solvent. Plenty of private sector employees face much less lucrative retirement benefits.
Yet, the financial disparity remains and needs to be part of a broader civic conversation. It’s time communities show their support for the importance of teaching both in pay and respect.
In general, workers are paid based on how much someone values their skillset. Teachers train for years and have highly specialized skills honed to teach children, whether it’s the ABCs or calculus. Surely society should place greater value on their work.
Teachers arguably have some of the greatest influence on a community of any group. We entrust and ask them to prepare our children for lifetime success and to shape young minds. That starts at the earliest school age and carries on through high school.
For some families, it’s perfectly acceptable to shell out more than $150 a ticket to see an Oregon Ducks game. If only more families - and lawmakers - would exhibit the same level of passion for supporting educators. If we really want the best and the brightest to be at the front of classrooms, we need to demonstrate that we recognize and reward how important they are.
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