- Bill Schaffer
- Central Oregonian - News
WEB - NEWS - Wyden visit
Sen. Ron Wyden visited Prineville last Wednesday to get his "to-do list" from Crook County residents.
Wyden, whose combined service in the U.S. House and Senate totals 24 years, makes his way to all 36 Oregon counties every year.
"In the beginning, I had a full head of hair and dashing good looks," joked Wyden.
Crook County residents questioned the Democratic senator on a variety of topics, ranging from signing an international landmine treaty to granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
"No subject is off limits," Wyden told attendants.
However, the central issue at the meeting was natural resources, although health care and Social Security came in a close second.
At the meeting, Wyden said he believes that pieces of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) need to be reformed.
The senator explained that communities need more flexibility over the ESA.
"We have sort of a one-size-fits-all approach now. What works in the Bronx may not work in rural Oregon," he said.
Wyden also expressed that the government needs to do a "better job of getting objective science."
Crook County citizen Dick Faye expressed his concerns over the privatization of Social Security to Wyden.
"I do not think privatization will solve the problems with Social Security," Wyden stressed.
"There are a lot more people retiring, and less people paying in," he continued.
Wyden proposed that on top of offering Social Security, to create accounts for "young people" to save for their retirement. Wyden referred to the idea as "Social Security plus."
Another attendant suggested a safeguard for the Social Security accounts, so citizens could not use the account before their retirement.
Wyden was also questioned about Oregon's methamphetamine problem. Although the U.S. senator commended Gov. Ted Kulongoski for his work addressing the problem, Wyden said, "There is still a lot more to do."
"I always get some good ideas when I come to Crook County and there were some good ones today," Wyden said.