Death penalty: What if voters keep it?

An issue before the House: Risk a new election on the death penalty?

An issue before the House: Risk a new election on the death penalty?

What if Oregon voters did get the chance to vote again on the death penalty, and what if they affirmed it? The question for Governor Kitzhaber then is whether he would keep standing in the way of it being carried out.

As we've been discussing, capital punishment has been carried out only twice since Oregon voters approved it in 1984. In both cases, the condemned men volunteered to be executed by forgoing the appeals they could have pursued. Now Kitzhaber refuses to carry out the execution of Gary Haugen, who is challenging the refusal in court.

In the legislature, some opponents of the death penalty want to ask the voters next year to amend the constitution to repeal it. But it sounds as though some others are afraid the voters might turn down their measure, thus affirming rather than repealing the death penalty. And then what?

Assuming the governor remains in office after 2014, would he then continue to insist on giving death penalty candidates reprieves? During his most recent campaign in 2010, Kitzhaber said nothing about intending to resist the death penalty laws. Maybe nobody asked him about it.  I know I didn't. After all, it was not a burning issue, considering that the courts on their own were doing all they could to prevent executions.

In any case, now that the death penalty issue has been revived -- sorry -- it would be helpful to have the voters once again say what they want. It would clarify things, especially for whoever runs for governor next year. (hh)

From Hazel Siebrecht: My question for Kitzhaber and the rest of the bleeding heart liberals who morally oppose the death penalty: what about defenseless aborted babies? Are they morally opposed to that?

Sportsman’s Warehouse eyes Albany

This is where Sportsman's Warehouse wants to go.

This is where Sportsman's Warehouse wants to go.

Albany city planning officials have met with developers for Sportsman's Warehouse, a nationwide sporting goods chain that has its eyes on space in the Albertsons shopping plaza off Waverly Drive. The planning department says no land use applications have yet been submitted, but the city has pending building permit requests for interior relocation and remodeling of tenant space at the southern end of the plaza. But there may be a hangup over signs.

In a report on difficulties with the city sign code and efforts to revise it, community development Director Heather Hansen cites a Sportsman's Warehouse sign request as an example of the problem. The company wants one main sign and several smaller ones. A diagram in her report shows a Sportsman's Warehouse sign over the entrance. Smaller signs along the front wall would say Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Reloading, Outerwear and Footwear. This "far exceeds the 100-square-foot allowance and would be considered three signs, which is not allowed." But she says she's exploring sign code revisions to allow such signs. Hansen's report went to the Mayor's Business Ready Task Force, which meets at 4 p.m. March 4 at City Hall.

Sportsman's Warehouse has stores in 17 states, according to its website. which shows only one in Oregon so far, in Medford. No word yet on the timing or other details of the plans for the Albany outlet. (hh)

Even police inspections of homes?


This antique-shop sign has nothing to do with the current Oregon legislature, where firearms bills are still pending.

This antique-shop sign has nothing to do with the current Oregon legislature, where firearms bills are still pending.

Even though the word from Salem was that supporters of gun bans were backing off a little, it's worth taking a look at one bill and who proposed it. This is House Bill 3200, which would ban some common rifles and pistols, calling them assault weapons. It is an extraordinary piece of legislation, even calling for police inspection of gun owners' homes.

The bill applies to semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines if they have certain features, such as a shroud on the barrel or a thumb hole in the stock. It also targets pistols with magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. Owners of such firearms would have to turn them in to the police or sell them to a licensed dealer. They would be allowed to keep one, for a fee, if they register it with the state police. The bill provides for the police to make house inspections to make sure the requirements for secure storage are met. And for a violation, the maximum penalty would be 10 years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine.

The sponsors and cosigners of this proposed gun grab are 15 Democrats, eight in the House and seven in the Senate. These 15 Democrats, led by Greenlick in the House and Burdick in the Senate, are willing to send the police to your house to enforce a breach of your constitutional rights. And if anybody stands up for his rights by refusing to comply, it's off to prison for up to 10 years. Look up the bill, HB 3200, and remember the sponsors' names. Their eagerness to confiscate possessions and limit our freedom is frightening indeed. (hh)

Wrong move: Postal Service sues

Mail users may not believe it, but the Postal Service's studies showed it benefited from sponsoring Lance Armstrong and his cycling team.

Mail users may not believe it, but the Postal Service's studies showed it benefited from sponsoring Lance Armstrong and his cycling team.

Mail users may not believe it, but the Postal Service's studies showed it benefited from sponsoring Lance Armstrong and his cycling team.

The U.S. Justice Department has announced it is joining a lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who won the Tour de France seven times but was stripped of the titles because he used banned substances to boost his performance. The lawsuit, originally filed by fellow cyclist Floyd Landis under the whistleblower law, charges that Amstrong and his team defrauded the Postal Service by their illicit conduct. The post office sponsored the team from 1996 through 2004. But taxpayers and users of the mail -- meaning all of us -- have a few questions.

Why did the U.S. mail service sponsor a cycling team in the first place, a team that raced mainly in Europe? Why did it pay Armstrong and the team $30 million, as the Justice Department said it did? Evidently it figured the advertising value -- when Armstrong's exploits were covered in U.S. media -- was worth the expense. In fact, the Washington Post reports that studies done for the Postal Service claimed that the service gained at least $139 million in so-called "brand exposure" over four years. Why the post office needs brand exposure is another question. But its own studies evidently show that it got more than it paid for by sponsoring the team.

This suit should be thrown out. Nobody forced Landis to join the doping, and the post office itself was not damaged, either then or now. What cycling needs is a "truth and reconciliation" process to make up for many years of lies. Suits like this don't help. They cause everybody to lawyer up instead of coming clean. (hh)

Obama and the ‘first responders’

The White House posted this photo on its  website.

The White House posted this photo on its website.

Firefighters and police lined up behind President Obama on Feb. 19, when he made a speech at the White House blaming House Republicans for not preventing automatic budget cuts he and Congress had agreed to before.  "Emergency responders like the ones who are here today," the president said, "their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded." He cited other calamities too: less border protection, letting criminals go instead of prosecuting them, teachers being laid off, and parents unable to find day care. It's hard to see how all that can result from a slowing in the overall increase of federal spending. But just how is the federal budget linked to local fire departments?

Here's how. Last August, the Albany Fire Department reported it had received approval of a $1.2 million federal grant in order to hire six firefighters for two years. It planned to fill three jobs left vacant because of local budget constraints and hire three more.

You may recall that the government now has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Remember, too, that the federal debt, more than $16 trillion, will keep growing because the national government -- under many presidents and congresses -- has promised far more than it can deliver. And one small part of this mistake is filling out the routine payroll of towns like Albany all over the U.S.

Obama lined up those uniforms as props to support more spending. They also were a symbol of a federal budget policy that Obama has made worse. (hh)

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