August 26, 2001 11:00 pm

That gloom capital of Oregon, where the sun peaks out from behind the clouds about once in six months during fall and winter, has finally seen the light. Eugene will get back its Christmas trees in city offices this holiday season after City Manager Jim Johnson reversed himself and ruled the Christmas tree is a secular, not religious symbol. Johnson is right, however, in asking employees to tone down overt religious displays that could not only offend the public but also co-workers.

The city had told employees last November that Christmas trees were religious symbols that couldnt be displayed in shared work spaces or areas open to the public. Many residents thought that this was political correctness taken to an extreme. A deluge of letters and phone calls rightly poured in to protest the policy. Johnsons reversal of policy proves that citizens getting involved does pay dividends.

CERTAINLY, workers should be concerned about the sensitivities of others. This should be especially true of people who practice various religions; hanging symbols all over the place or playing religious programming on a radio loudly is not likely to win many converts. Its important to remember some people like preaching, and some people find preachiness annoying.

Eugene needed to be more flexible and adaptive in its Christmas tree policy. The citys compromise on the issue is a worthy one for other cities to follow. The end result shows the power of constructive dialogue between a city and its constituents and should help Eugene chase away the gloom.

Diluted drugs

Perhaps youve read about the millionaire pharmacist who has been charged with mislabeling and tampering with chemotherapy drugs.

If the charges are true, officials should throw the book at Robert R. Courtney, 48. If cancer patients died because their drugs were tampered with, the man should be brought to trial for


Most pharmacists, of course, are true professionals concerned with the well-being of patients. These pharmacists have many years of training, and do their jobs with painstaking care and concern for the people they serve. They have a commitment to excellence and it shows.

But the charges against Courtney cast a pall over the profession. And there are no easy answers to the questions the Courtney case raises: What can be done to prevent pharmacists from tampering and mislabeling drugs? What can be done to rebuild the trust between patients and pharmacists that this case, no matter what the final verdict, has eroded?

We should remember the alleged Courtney tampering with drugs is an isolated incident and not let the alleged greed of one pharmacist undermine our trust in a noble profession.