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Posts published in “Day: June 17, 2006”

Only now

The old line about newspaper editorialists was that they're the guys who ride onto the battlefield after the fighting is done, and shoot the wounded. Could something similar be said about the latest report of a federal investigation in Oregon?

To be sure, Oregon's state mental health hospital has been a disgrace for years - it may not have been fully up to the times for a century or more. The Salem facility has been crumbling and probably is a serious physical risk for the people in and around it.

But there are efforts at change. A few years back Governor Ted Kulongoski started an effort to rebuild, and two years ago Senate President Peter Courtney took it on as a crusade. Last year the Portland Oregonian ran a strong serious of editorials on the need for repair and new construction, and won (this year) a Pultizer prize for them. And just a few weeks ago, Kulongoski, Courtney and House Speaker Karen Minnis agreed on a $330 million construction plan for four new hospitals.

Sounds as if progress is getting made. So why now, after all that, is the U.S. Department of Justice launching an inquiry into possible violations of rights on the part of patients, in years past, because of the state's failure to reconstruct? Isn't this a little behind the curve? Or was that the point?