Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
December 17, 2008     The New Era Paper
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December 17, 2008

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11~ ~ '~ra - December 17, 2008 COMMUNITV OPINION Page 5 J By Sreya Sarkar The driver's license was originally created to ensure public safety by settmg standards for driving competency. Accordingly, licensesuspensions were a legal mechanism to remove unsafe drivers from the road. But in the last fifteen years, federal and state lawmakers have viewed the license as a "good citizen" trophy and sought to suspend it for a number of non-driving-related reasons. The list of non-driving misdemeanors resulting in license suspension includes failure to pay parking fines and failure to appear in court, even for reasons completely unrelated to driving. State agencies are mcreaslngly using driver's license suspension to enforce laws and public policies that have nothing to do with driving or even motor vehicles. The problem is that suspension of driving privileges makes it much more difficult to keep or find a job, and thus makes it even harder for individuals to comply with whatever rule was broken in the first place. In Oregon, as in many other states, more than 50 non-driving- related offenses can lead to a driver's license suspension. Some typical non-driving-related reasons that lead to suspension are: failure to comply with court orders, failure to appear in court, failure to pay child support, and failure to pay certain fines. In a recent report, the Mobility Agenda (a Washington D.C.-based think tank that seeks to stimulate support for strengthening the labor market and benefiting workers) discusses how driver's license suspension can have negative economic and social effects. especially if a license is suspended for non-driving-related reasons. Local communities, employers and employees experience serious negative consequences as a result of license suspensions, including unemployment, lower wages, and fewer employgaent opportunities and hiring choices. Some employers, particutarly in the construction and healthcare fields, require a driver's license as a precondition of employment, either because driving is part of the job or as a way to screen applicants. In addition to these negative effects, other costs can be associated with license suspension, like the expensive license reinstatement process that includes court appearances and legal assistance. In some states, automobile insurance costs automatically increase after a suspension, even if the suspension is for non-driving reasons. Low-income workers are likely to be disproportionately affected by license suspensions arising from inability to pay fines and fees. Suspending low -income workers' licenses can lead to additional economic distress both for employers and the extended community when people are unable to reach or to apply for jobs inaccessible by public transit. This is yet another barrier to a low-income worker's economic opportunity and stable income. The Mobility Agenda report also discusses state-level policy changes making a crucial impact in reducing license suspension for non- driving-related reasons. For example, in Milwaukee. Wis., community leaders succeeded in facilitating some statutory changes resulting in fewer license suspensions due to non-driving-related reasons. This change significantly decreased the number of drivers with suspended licenses in Milwaukee. The driver's license is a Vital link to employment for many workers and should not be suspended for reasons unrelated to driving at the whim of policymakers who would like to convert the driver's license into a "good citizen" card. Sreya Sarkar is director of the Asset Ownership Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon's free market public policy research center. From page 4 good English, make some phone calls, read some e-mails, watch a Web camera, and produce a story about the Sweet Home City Council doing such-and-such. But do you want a newspaper full of stories written by people who barely know where Sweet Home is? Dowd cites an Indian reporter she contacted as saying that she thought the Rose Bowl was "'some food-related event but then found that it related to sports field." Pasadena, as I think anyone who's been there will agree, is a big town with a strong sense of self-awareness. It's one of the older cities in southern California and has a lot more character than many others, thanks to its venerable institutions (such as the Tournament of Roses) and the fact that many old, wealthy and active families live there." You would think these people would demand a home-grown product. But maybe they aren't demanding that because, compared to 20 years ago, there's so much more competition for people's time and attention today from the Internet, videO games, cable and satellite TV channels, satellite radio, iPods and similar devices, cell phones (texting) and all the rest of the stuff out there. Maybe too many people have gotten out of the habit of reading anything longer than a few sentences and are content to surf along on the wave of mass media offerings. But the biggest reason, I believe, that so many of our larger newspapers are in decline is the heavy emphasis over the last few decades on the business of newspapers, turning them into cash cows for investors. That approach has so decimated the news product that readers don't even know what quality journalism - faithful reporting of local public events, chronicling interesting people and important trends in the community -is. When profit margins stop dropping and newspaper publishers slice and dice their editorial staffs to maintain their cash flow. guess who suffers? You. the customer. You're reading more wire stories, and seeing less news and photos of local people and events, because there are less journalists to produce that local news. Of course journalism is a business. As publisher of your local newspaper one of my respOnsibilities is to make sure the ship stays on top of the water. Business reqmrements do dictate. to some extent, what we can do in the newsroom. I'd love to hire several more journalists to help make sure we stay on top Of everything, and I'd love to run all the news and photo coverage they would provide on full-color pages in a newspaper twice the size of the one we have now. But that would sink the ship. At the same time. though, journalism is a service, and that's what too many newspaper publishers have forgotten. LETTERS TO TIIE EDITOR SingingChristmas Tree great again Editor: I consider the Singing Christmas Tree's carols my first Christmas gift and one my best. It was so heartwarming to be greeted with "Joy to the world, the Lord has come. let earth receive her king." Scriptures of Christ's birth read, interspersed with "Oh. Little Town of Bethlehem," "Mary, Did You Know?" and "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," were grandly done. I can't wmt to stand and hear the hallelujahs in Handel's "Messiah" sung. Handel worked on "Messiah" for 24 days and when finished said to his servant: 'I did think 1 saw all heaven opened and the great God Himself." So many months of practice go into this yearly rendition. hope everyone in Sweet "Home decides to take it in next year. Not many towns have singirrg Christmas trees making Sweet Home special. Blessings on the director, Ben Pickett, and everyone who took part in the grand gift of real Christmas. Alice Yoder Sweet Home Remembering a terrific teacher Editor: I read that Mr. Doyle Johnson passed away on Monday, Dec. 1. Mr. Johnson taught in the Social Studies department at Sweet Home High School for years. He was my senior government teacher. He sang songs about land use planning. He taught me it was better to be red than dead, because I still had a fighting chance. He walked into class wearing his Korean War uniform. He showed me political cartoons on an overhead everyday. He expected me to learn, care, and become something. When I returned to Sweet Home in 1995 to teach in the Social Studies Department he came to my room and treated me not as a student, but as an adult. He asked me about kids. about learning, about teaching. Mr. Johnson was an incredible human being, He moved me my senior year in high school. The amazing part of it was that my senior year, 1985, was his last year of teaching. Doyle Johnson inspired kids until he stopped teaching. Doyle inspired me to be a better teacher. 1 will miss you, Mr. Johnson and I can still remember the tune to that silly little song, "Critical Concems." Thank you. God bless your family, and ! hope you spend eternity where you belong.., with a greater being. Steve Hummer Sweet Home Reader offers Christmas poem Editor: Christmas In Bethlehem, there was a cave Where cattle often fed. There Joseph and Mary found and used A manger for the bed Of baby Jesus who was born While they were staying there. On that same night, some shepherds heard Angelic songs that filled the air. Oh, what a wondrous night that was. The Son of God, by human birth, Willingly left the heavenly realm And came to dwell upon this earth. You know He came as sacrifice To take away our sin and shame, So by His cross we can accept Forgiveness in His holy name. T'was love that made this perfect plan. Give Him your heart, you will be glad. Forgiven, you can rightly say, '.'It's the best Christmas I ever had.'" Euniee Hoien Dahlgren Vancouver, Wash. (Former Sweet Home resident) I cmartin @ci.sweet-home.or. us | m Jim Gourley, President Pro Tern, 367-55t7 i Jim Bean, Councilor, 367-8467 " Diane Gerson, Member at Large,- 367-2979 e-ma : http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/ e-mail: http:/ldefazio house,gov/emaitme.shtml I I I I I Scott McKee Jr., Councilor, 367-4'535 367-7126 Linn County Commissioners . -Roger Nyquist, RNyquist@Co.linn.oi~.Us John K. Lindsey JLindsey@eoJinn.or.us Cliff Wooten CWooten@coJinn.or, us Sen, William Morr sette'fD, Dist, 6) . I (503) 986- 706 e-mail: sen.billmorrisette@state.or.us I Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R, Dist. 1T) (503) 986-1417 e-marl: reD.sherriesprenger@state.or.us I I