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Postgame: A cheer for those on the hard seats (and don't bench the sense of unity)

Jan. 12, 2011

On Monday, there were two major news events for Oregon: Monday's National Championship football game, and the start of the new Oregon Legislative session. With the latter came the inauguration of John Kitzhaber as the only person ever to take the oath of office of governor for a third time. Harbingers to the tough 22-19 loss to Auburn included the first two sketchy plays from scrimmage by the Ducks, and, moments before during the coin flip, the official's mispronunciation of our state as "Ore-GONE." Earlier in the day, in the Oregon Senate, interim speaker Sen. Ted Ferrioli had to be corrected when he made reference to the "75th session" of the Legislature. "Oh, yes, that should be the 76th. Where does the time go?" Ferrioli quipped.

We had our own momentary attention lapse in our Jan. 5 edition, as we paid brief tribute to elected officials, new and returning -most of them, that is. The list of servants deserving of our best wishes should certainly have included our new and returning judges. Cindy Mitchell was voted to her first full term as Cascade Locks Justice of the Peace, and Janet Stauffer and John Wolf of Wasco County take office in the 7th Circuit Court, joining fellow justices Paul Crowley and Donald Hull of Hood River County. We point out that there is a unique job-sharing arrangement among all 7th Circuit judges because of some family circumstances. (Details on page A3.) All those who preside over our courts of law carry a burden in decisions they make in civil and criminal proceedings. Our judges help protect society while interpreting and administering laws, which affect victims, the accused, and witnesses, along with agencies, businesses and individuals. The lack of mention of our judicial servants in the earlier editorial was not an intention to omit - to "bench" the members of the bench, so to speak. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches (freestanding or against a wall) when presiding over a court. After all, these days the judges' chairs are more comfortable, but the demands are not.

The championship game has tended to get the biggest headlines, but what happened in Salem Monday - and in the weeks to come - will mean much more in the long-term to Oregonians than what happened in Glendale. The game was a worthy sideshow, and now that it is over, more attention can be paid to the strategies, emotions, end runs, and, yes, even the punts and fumbles happening in the halls of the Capitol. Few with a gavel or microphone in hand on Monday could resist some "Go, Ducks" reference, and that is how it should be. It gave a sense of fun to the solemn event, and the collective attention to the game gave Oregonians a sense of unity, which is a strategy we all can get behind.

Flags lowered

Arizona shooting victims remembered Monday morning then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski ordered that all flags at public institutions be flown at half-staff throughout Oregon in honor of the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that occurred on Saturday, Jan. 8. The order is at the request of President Obama, who ordered today that all U.S. flags be lowered immediately and flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday, Jan. 14. "In lowering our flags, we pay our respects to the victims of this tragic and senseless act of violence," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said. "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this very difficult time." For the text of the Presidential Proclamation, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/09/presidential-proclamation-honoring-victims-tragedy-tucson-arizona.

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