Our wishes for the New Year in Oregon
With the advent of the New Year, all things seem possible - if ever so briefly. While there's still time to dream, here are some of our hopes and wishes for the year just beginning:
* For TriMet: the opportunity - just once - to prove that it can get people from Point A to Point B during a snow or ice storm. No one should blame the bus drivers and rail operators who did their best under trying circumstances. But shouldn't the public's multi-billion dollar investment in mass transit mean something more when it matters the most?
* For Lake Grove, Lake Oswego and Tualatin residents who are opposed to the strip club Stars Cabaret - Bridgeport moving into the Lake Oswego side of Interstate 5: New tools to deal with nude dancing establishments. While local citizens are up in arms about Stars coming to town, constitutional protections related to freedom of speech make it difficult to block the location of a nude dancing club. Tualatin residents should also be mindful that the city has long been the host to Jiggles - a nude dancing club along Interstate 5 that doesn't serve alcohol.
* For Blazermaniacs: The wisdom to get off Greg Oden's back. Give the big guy some time, some space, some whatever he needs. The NBA's great centers, from Wilt Chamberlain to Shaquille O'Neal, weren't built in a day.
* Here's hoping that the Lake Oswego and Riverdale school districts have done sufficient budget planning, timely cutting and creating rainy day accounts for bad economic times. With the financial prospects for 2009 looking very grim, state funding for schools is in jeopardy along with just about everything else. We hate to think that kids will suffer not only next year, but in years to come as the state and the economy dig out from this recession.
* For local high school athletes in all sports: Some fans. These young people play a lot of sports very well, but few of their teams - except in football season - draw the attention and attendance they deserve other than from parents and grandparents. Let's all make a New Year's resolution to support athletics at these high schools. Sporting events can serve as a community gathering place as well as an occasion to see great young people win, lose, grow, learn and represent their communities. Sports don't have to be on ESPN to be entertaining or valuable.
* For the 2009 Oregon Legislature: Patience in dealing with all the requests from Portland and its suburban communities. The region has a number of unique needs. Sometimes the region's requests for funding or new laws can strike downstate and rural legislators as demanding special treatment - and sometimes they are. But Clackamas County and its Portland-area neighbors have legitimate needs, too.
* For bar and tavern owners: Hope that the new smoking ban won't drive away all their customers. Long-suffering employees won't appreciate the benefits of a smoke-free workplace if there's no work.
* For everyone: A quick and robust economic recovery that restores all the lost jobs and investment funds. Since few economists expect immediate relief, at least we hope local, state and federal governments work together to help the most vulnerable among us and encourage those who can create jobs to do so.