OK, so we passed that new county tax. Now can we please talk a little baseball?
Oh, I realize if you work in Salem as a senator or representative, you're a little embarrassed to be caught speaking about or, heaven forbid, even advocating the construction of a new big-league ballpark in Portland Ñ even though it won't cause any rise in income tax or property tax.
You seem so frightened. You're so afraid. We've seen the quotes now for months. The daily paper peppered us with some of them this week:
'A lot of people are venting over baseball because it looks like we're fiddling while Rome burns,' said Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland. 'It looks frivolous to people.'
I'm sure it does. But I would also hope that people elected to public office would have enough courage to stand up to those folks. They could explain to them that when unemployment is raging in this state, raising taxes on the people who are lucky enough to have jobs isn't part of the solution Ñ it's part of the problem.
You see, at some point, you have to begin to put the others to work. It's estimated that the construction of a new ballpark could mean as many as 1,500 new jobs.
With all due respect, Ms. Burdick, that's not frivolous. That's putting more people in position to pay taxes.
You also hear things like this:
'The more important bills will come first before there is any discussion of baseball,' said Senate Republican leader Bev Clarno of Redmond. 'It's not up there on the priority list right now.'
Sorry, Ms. Clarno, but it's every bit as important as that bill that flew through the Legislature quicker than a Ric Flair arm drag Ñ the one that deregulated pro wrestling in the state. You got that one through and, I'm sorry, it was nowhere near as important as a bill that would put Oregonians to work in very big numbers.
This bill also is more important than the one the Legislature passed this session that would get your kid a $25 fine if he's under 16 years old and riding a skateboard without a helmet. I mean, come on: We really don't have the time or money these days for skateboard police.
I'm sorry if I come off sounding a little bit impatient here, but it's time our politicians found some direction. I don't think that's too much to ask. I'm tired of the simplistic attitudes of people like Sen. Roger Beyer, R-Molalla.
'I think baseball is a great private enterprise,' he said. 'At this point in time, I have no intention of involving the state in baseball.'
Yeah, baseball certainly is nothing for this state to endorse. It's probably way too wholesome.