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Posts published in “Day: May 6, 2007”

A smell beyond the metaphorical

Minidoka Internment Camp

Minidoka internment camp/National Park Service

You could call it the final indignity, if it come to pass. Which it may, cattle feedlot applications in the Magic Valley having the pull they have. But maybe not.

The location of this issue is the Hunt area north of Eden, Idaho, which is east of Jerome, near the middle of the Magic Valley. This is where, during World War II, a camp was built to house Americans of Japanese ancestry, citizens who were uprooted from their homes and packed off to the desert. It now is the site of the Minidoka Internment National Monument, a memorial to one of the sadder incidents in our national life, and an invitation to think more wisely in the future.

So going there would be a good thing for Americans to do. But Big Sky Farms LLP is proposing to launch a powerful disincentive to visitors: A cattle feed lot which would service more than 13,000 head of cattle. That many head of cattle will create smell, and the smell is almost certain to drift regularly across the mile and a half separating the feed lot and the memorial.

Other neighbors have issue with the feed lot, too. (Is there anyone who would want one across the street?) But the memorial ought to have a special call here: A national facility intended to redress with some dignity a wrong done to some of the people of this country, possibly being done in - as a tourist attraction - by cow excrement. We'll check back on this.

Doing the job, or else

Oregon statehouseCompared to a lot of jobs, there aren't many strict requirements for state legislators. There are a lot of things any legislator worth respecting should do, from attending regularly floor and committee sessions to working with constituents and researching legislation at hand. But, item by item, not many of these things are absolutely required, at least not all the time. Meetings can be missed (and, since conflicts develop, sometimes have to be). No lawmaker can become expert on all legislation. On most of these things, you're talking matters of degree.

In the Oregon Legislature, one of the few things the rules say you must do, if you are a legislator, is this: If you are on the floor and a vote is called, you have to vote.

We (along with others) noted just a few days ago a case of a legislator who opted not to vote. The bill in question concerned a cigarette tax increase, and the legislator who said from the floor, "Mr. Speaker, I am not going to vote on this issue," was Representative John Lim, R-Gresham. Speaker Jeff Merkley advised him that he had to vote; Lim said he would vote later. Which, according to the rules, he also wasn't allowed to do.

Merkley seems to have had time to think this over, and now he has a proposal. The Salem Statesman-Journal's legislative blog is reporting that Merkley is proposing an amendment in House rules to impose a $5,000 fine on any legislator who refuses to vote when on the House floor. "At that rate, lawmakers would plow through their entire salary after four violations," the blog noted.

You wouldn't think this would be necessary. Evidently, however.