May 03, 2001 11:00 pm

An east-side legislator has a good idea about improving the economy of Eastern Oregon, but his talk about cutting the region loose from the rest of the state is ridiculous.

Rep. Tom Butler, R-Ontario, is right in saying that Eastern Oregon sometimes is a stepchild or stepcousin of the west side. Butler wants to create a task force that would consider how state laws could be changed to bolster the economy of Eastern Oregon, where unemployment in most counties is at least double that of the Portland metropolitan area.

Butler would like the task force to discuss charging less in taxes and fees or making changes in land-use laws on the east side to boost our economy.

It would not hurt to look at specific ways to help the troubled region, but Butler has gone overboard by suggesting that if job growth and employment in Eastern Oregon does not match that of Western Oregon in six years, the task force would be required to recommend that Eastern Oregon be allowed to form a separate state.

One wonders how funding a new science building at Eastern Oregon University or the recent repaving of La Grandes Island Avenue by the Oregon Department of Transportation would fare if such projects were not bolstered by west-side funding. Our region might find ourselves stifled if we have to rely on the tax dollars being generated in the 51st state of Eastern Oregon alone.

Creating the nine-member task force at a cost of $64,000 to look at ways to help Eastern Oregon makes sense, and we hope the Legislature finds the funds to make this possible. Butler should stifle his tongue on the issue of forming a new state, however. Such rhetoric is divisive and will gender little good will for his task force idea.


By the numbers, University of Oregon womens basketball coach Jody Runge had a very impressive tenure. Runge, 38, led the Ducks to a 160-73 record in eight seasons, including eight straight NCAA tournament appearances.

Runges .687 winning percentage is remarkable. It is the best of any basketball coach in the universitys history.

So why did Runge, who was expecting to add some quality players to her program next fall, resign this week? The coachs decision came after a group of eight players met with Athletic Director Bill Moos March 4. They were concerned about Runges style that reportedly involved criticism of the team members in private and public. The coachs alleged attacks fostered ill will.

Runges resignation serves as a reminder that coaching young people involves much more than Xs and Os on a chalkboard or win-loss records. It includes building bridges of understanding with players. Quality coaches will inspire confidence in their players, encouraging them to perform at their highest level.