Sign struggle — sigh! — ends

West's current sign last month.

Albany's prolonged fussing about electronic message signs at schools and the like now seems to be at an end. It seemed to be a lot of anguish over not much.

It started when the booster club at West Albany High School wanted to replace the school's aging sign out front on Queen Avenue with a new one. The new one would have messages that can be changed with a computer keyboard. Turns out, though, that the school is in a residential zone. and signs like that are not allowed.

The city wanted to help. So it proposed an amendment in the development code. But first there had to be an open house. Then there had to be a public hearing before the planning commission. This was followed, in due course, by a public hearing before the city council. The proposal was to allow so-called "changing electronic message signs" for institutions -- such as schools and churches -- that exist in residential zones as conditional uses.

Last month the council balked at some of the provisions. One issue: Should the law allow scrawling or fading transitions in messages? Another: Should owners have to install automated equipment to turn off those signs at night, or should they be allowed to figure out on their own how to comply with the requirement that signs be turned off between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.?

On Wednesday night, this issue was finally laid to rest. Voting 4-3, with the mayor breaking a tie, the council adopted the law change, allowing only static messages, no fading or crawling transitions; and leaving it up to owners how to make sure the signs are off at night.

You can't say the Albany council doesn't take even small issues seriously. But after all this, I wonder if any school club or church will want to go ahead and spend money on a new sign. (hh)

After the election…

Fresh air? Forget it

Things must really be going great in Oregon. How else to explain the results of the general election? At the state level, all the office holders got re-elected. All our five members of Congress will stay in the House. And the Democrats, who have been in charge of state government for years, regain full control of the legislature by winning a majority in the state House. In short, if you were hoping that this election would pump fresh air into public affairs in Oregon, you hoped in vain.

The idea of more personal freedom and responsibility lost too, in the defeat of the measure to legalize marijuana and get law enforcement out of what people grow and smoke. And Oregon's reputation as being hard on business -- compared to states like Idaho and Texas -- got another black eye with the approval of the measure to cancel the corporate tax rebate or credit if the state has a revenue surplus.

About the only bright spot -- from the standpoint of common sense -- was the defeat of the casino measures. Apparently Oregonians are not ready for the possibility of casinos in every town if an election approves one. Wait a second, we already have little casinos or gambling rooms at every corner where there's a pizza joint or a pub. That won't change.

So, with a few exceptions, as in Lebanon for instance, which will have a new mayor, nothing changes as a result of this election. Oregon by and large is happy with the way things are, stangant though they may be. And if things have been bad for you, too bad, you're out of luck. (hh)

Election night: Get over it

BPA line replacement: An update

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