WE MUST LEARN FROM TAKI TOOO
People might be reluctant to book charter fishing trips off the Oregon coast following Saturday's tragedy near Tillamook until questions are answered and corrective measures are taken.
Eleven people were killed or presumed drowned when the 32-foot fishing vessel, Taki Tooo, headed into turbulent seas. At one point the boat, skippered by Doug Davis, turned north and was overtaken by a 20-foot wave, toppling the craft and spilling its passengers into the ocean.
Hard questions must be asked. If recreational fishing craft were prohibited from heading out that morning, why were charter boats allowed to enter the treacherous sea? Is there too much pressure on a boat's skipper to fulfill a promise made to customers, some of whom have traveled many miles for the outing? Should new regulations apply to charters?
And why were so few on board the Taki Tooo wearing life jackets? Of the eight who survived, four were wearing the safety garb. None of those who died were wearing life jackets. Should it be standard operating procedure that all passengers wear life jackets while crossing the bar? Was 19 people on board a small craft too many? And what about the hazard of boats passing out of Tillamook Bay to the ocean? The channel was last dredged 27 years ago. Is more work needed?
The National Transportation Safety Board says it could take several months before its investigation is completed. Meanwhile, before conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made, common sense should dictate that safety must come first in all charter operations.
Customers will want assurances that their welfare is of primary concern when signing on for charter fishing trips. Confidence in charter fishing is badly shaken. It will take some time to restore it.
Learn about taxes
Oregon's tax system, with its heavy reliance on a state income tax and to a lesser degree on local property taxes, will be closely scrutinized in the coming year.
Discussion will center on developing a tax system that is fair and yet is capable of providing a more consistent and predictable revenue base for the state whenever Oregon hits bottom in a recession.
It is important for Oregonians to understand the existing tax system. Those who would like to learn more about it can do so at a Blue Mountain Forum at 7 p.m. Thursday in room 142 of Eastern Oregon University's Zabel Hall. A representative of Citizens for Oregon's Future, which does not advocate for a certain type of taxation, will share the basics, explain how Oregon's tax system works and the problems associated with it. It will help all those attending beef up on their knowledge of the system.