Incoming Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler, who doesn't take office until January, is giving his diplomatic skills an early test drive by trying to calm the furor over cuts to the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program.
A majority of county commissioners appear ready to accept Wheeler's offer to lead a study of how SUN has worked and how it should be funded. We hope they will go further and agree to delay SUN reductions until the analysis is complete.
Wheeler, who has firsthand knowledge of SUN's benefits through his previous community involvement, advocates an independent analysis of the program. He believes such an evaluation should come before a budget decision.
Although county commissioners voted Thursday to move ahead with $1.7 million in SUN cutbacks, they also asked the county staff to bring back a report in a month detailing how the reductions would be implemented. Once they see just how damaging the cuts would be to the program, commissioners ought to agree to wait even longer - until Wheeler's deeper analysis is completed.
It makes no sense to decimate a program that has helped many families only to find out later that it ought to be restored. And SUN's obvious public popularity should give commissioners pause - enough pause at least to compile the facts Wheeler seeks.