Our Opinion: Our wishes for 2020
At this time of year, we traditionally outline our editorial board's wishes for the coming year. Now, as we enter a whole new decade, we'd like to offer some visions for 2020 and beyond.
n First, we're hoping the new decade brings a return to bipartisanship in Oregon. The state Legislature has typically been a far less polarized than the U.S. Congress. But in 2019, that appeared to change. Several lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — cite a new, heightened sense of partisan bickering, even tribalism, in Salem. Some are choosing to leave the Legislature.
This is just two years after 2017's biggest bill, a $5.3 billion statewide transportation package, passed with praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. The legislation, which benefitted urban, suburban and rural Oregonians, was based on an extensive listening tour by liberal, moderate and conservative lawmakers, taking in most of the state.
Then came 2019, with its $1 billion-per-year tax increase for public K-12 schools; two Republican walkouts in the Senate; a failed bid to protect more children from the measles; and a cap-and-trade carbon emissions bill that stalled.
All of which led to a much more divided Legislature than Oregonians are used to.
As we head into a short session for 2020, beginning in February, let's hope for a return to Oregon's bipartisan traditions.
Other wishes for the New Year:
• We hope for a less violent 2020 in Washington County, where too many shootings, stabbings and mysterious disappearances found their way into the pages of both the News-Times and our sister newspapers on the other side of the county.
It was as if the dam broke after a shootout at Henry Hagg Lake in August 2019 that was, by some miracle, not a deadly incident. Hillsboro police fatally shot a man in October. In December, a man was gunned down at the Quatama MAX Station in northeast Hillsboro. A week later, a woman was stabbed to death at a Wells Fargo in Beaverton. There was a series of armed robberies reported in Tigard the following weekend. Just last week, a young woman disappeared near North Plains; as of press time, it wasn't clear what happened to her.
Crime is an unfortunate fact of life, and it's also an unfortunate fact that sometimes, our police officers have to take a life in order to protect the lives of others. But in 2020, we hope to be writing about it a lot less. Our wish is that troubled people in our community can find peace in the New Year before doing something they and their loved ones will regret for the rest of their lives.
• As TriMet enters the new decade, we hope to see the transit agency follow through on its "green dreams." The bus fleet needs to make the transition from fumes to electricity, at long last.
Along those lines, cars and buses alike could benefit from more lanes, fewer potholes and smarter road technology. Let's just hope Metro, which plans to take a transportation measure to the ballot in November, can find an affordable way to fund these priorities.
• Everyone wants a practical solution to the metro area's homeless situation that includes kindness and respect for the homeless community and greater consideration of the effects on homeowners and businesses.
It's worth repeating what has become our mantra these past few years: This is not Portland's problem alone. Every city on the West Coast struggles to find the solution. Every suburban city feels it. Rural communities feel it. It will take smart and heartfelt resolve by cities, counties, Oregon and the federal government — along with the business communities and faith communities — to turn this around.
• Similarly, a happier future for affordable housing is needed. Voters have approved money for more government-funding housing initiatives in the tri-county region, and those projects will begin to bear fruit in 2020.
The Legislature has required all large cities to expand the definition of "residential neighborhoods," paving the way for more of the so-called "missing middle housing," such as duplexes and stand-alone "granny flats."
Every community must do its part to address the housing and affordable housing shortages. We would like to see real progress throughout the region in this coming year.
• We're hoping that the state of Oregon clarifies and strengthens the rules on governmental transparency. Public records should be made public, and without an undue burden on the person or group seeking those records.
This is not an issue facing journalists alone. It's an issue facing every citizen who wants to know how tax dollars are spent, how policy is enacted and how elected officials use the power we give them when we elect them.
n In the past, the business model of community newspapers like ours meant aggregating as many readers as possible and then selling advertising based on the size and quality of that audience.
But that business model is changing.
At the Pamplin Media Group, we're asking readers to help fill the void by subscribing to their hometown paper if they haven't before, or by expanding their subscriptions to include online access to all Pamplin websites.
No other media — TV, radio, the internet or anything else — covers your town's Little League scores or your school board. No other media finds those profiles of your neighbors. But to do that, readers have to support the local newspaper.
Find out more at savinglocalnews.com.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.