I’m tired of the Oregon Legislature-raiding-the-Oregon Cultural Trust story. You’re tired of it. We’re all tired of it.
Unfortunately, as the Legislature moves on from the distress of trying to plug an $855 million budget hole to the mind-boggling challenge of filling an estimated $3 billion shortage for the 2009-11 cycle, the pattern’s been set. The Legislature appears to have got away with its $1.8 million hijacking of Trust money — it’s not tax money — and is sure to notice there’s another $10 million or so sitting there just waiting to be grabbed. State Democrats (with friends like these, etc. etc.) have made it clear they’re using the bash-the-arts card to establish their credentials as tough guys on the budget, even though they must be aware that by confiscating money donated in trust they are violating every normal rule of fiscal stewardship and are very likely trashing the Trust for good. That’s as in, trashing a state program that until now had actually worked as it was intended.
So, keep on the alert. This game is far from over.
In the meantime, thank goodness for Eugene. Oregon’s Second City gets it. (I know Salem’s passed Eugene in population and is technically No. 2, but Salem is also the seat of state government, and I’m feeling a little peckish on that subject right now, so in terms of intellectual and ethical heft, Eugene gets the nod). While The Oregonian has largely ignored the Trust raid issue except for fellow Scatterer Barry Johnson’s tough questioning on his Portland Arts Watch blog, the Eugene Register-Guard has been reporting it hard and also editorializing. So I want to say, thanks, Eugene, for doing your job.
Here is the Register-Guard’s editorial on the subject, and here’s a news post from this morning from the Yamhill County News Register, not exactly a paper with overflowing resources but one that’s willing to cover the news. Both are worth perusing. Thanks, R-G and NR. Keep up the good work.
Illustration: From Sketches of Japanese Manners and Customs, J.M. W. Silver. Litho, 1867. Project Gutenberg via Wikimedia Commons.