Are people in Salem talking about matters of importance to rural Oregonians? Is the rural/urban divide that people mention so often just a figment of people's imagination? Or is it a reality? What place does Oregon's countryside have in Salem's urban political offices?
As much as I would love to comment on live radio, I have work to do and just happened upon this thread at an early hour and decided to comment on each question posed.
No - the cretins in Salem only answer to local miscreants and those of us in the rural areas are without representation and that might change pretty soon.
A figment of imagination? Not even - the rich live in the inland and not-so-rich live in the out-land and there is definately a line between the two. Well, perhaps there are those of the rich that live in the out-land that call the shots, but most of us know who they are and call their garble, but we really have no chance when it comes to wealth.
If Salem's outreach has anything to do with the saving of the countryside, you folks had better get a grip on the developers that have only one thing on mind and that is growth. As I have opined before, money talks and shit walks and there is no doubt that the politician's will cave in regards to progress and growth....
I don't think anyone even knew about this 'office'; if Salem politicos knew, the physical gesture of disdain made by (an older portly man), a member of the Legis. Health Co., at the last (televised!) session, said it all--unless a citizen is part of the Salem-Portland region, we don't count!
I grew up in Coos Bay and moved to Portland in early adulthood. The rural areas of Oregon are considered when issues are discussed in Salem. The problem is that rural Oregonians seem to view the resources of the countryside as theirs to exploit. Additionally the mentality of rural Oregon is an us versus them attitude which is simply not the case, we all work together in Oregon. Rural areas benefit from urban areas (hospitals and business to name two benfits).
I just returned from 5 days in rural Oregon, to me it looks like there is plenty of wealth. The real problem is that the lifestyle of the rural Oregonian needs to change, and those that live there do not want that change.
When you comment today, it would be great if you could tell us where you live -- or, perhaps, where you have lived. It might provide good context for our conversation.
There is a divide between rural and urban and it hinges on distance. Those in the urban environment just don't get what it takes to live at the end of the road. It's 60 miles to a doctor or hospital or any services. Even public services are not available to rural citizens and public employees don't seem to understand that running down to their office to discuss a problem is a major decision for rural residents. When we do show up it is serious business for us but we get treated like we can always come back tomorrow. Most decisions get made by the urban majority. These decisions affect rural citizens without any understanding by and no consequences to urban citizens. JIM YOUNG, Halfway Oregon
There should be an AUDIT conducted on the graft,corruption,nepotism and just plain stupidity that exists even in a growing city like Bend.
Recently: housing developments were completed without the city even knowing they existed; even though the city/co. have had 18-20% growth in their income as a result of growth they have added excise taxes to every service we receive (where has all that $$ gone?); Bend city staff decided to buy buses, but failed to even contact anyone outside the city who had experience. Bend ended up with 'lemons' and the person who supervised project wasn't disciplined because "...feelings might be hurt...". Last, sure not least, the Manager failed to notify city staff of the 'earmark' deadline set by Rep Sen Gordon Smith...zero Fed. help!
The State needs to dispatch auditors over those mtn. passes (we do have autos now, I hear!)
I think the rural/urban divide is evident in health, particularly. Two cities in Eastern Oregon, Elgin and Union, are facing possible closure of their town's clinics. These are the ONLY sources for health care for people in these communities, and the surrounding communities, if people have the resources to get to them, are often not accepting new patients.
I wrote a story for Oregon Health News on this issue in the February 2008 edition. Here is an excerpt:
[quote]For decades, Oregon?s rural clinics have struggled to survive in the face of provider shortages, negligent operating margins and slow reimbursement rates while trying to provide otherwise-nonexistent care to rural, underserved communities.
?Quite frankly, every single rural health clinic in the state is facing a crisis,? said Dr. Lisa Dodson, director of Oregon Health & Science University?s Area Health Education Centers program. The majority of the state?s clinics run at razor thin margins.
Oregon has 53 Rural Health Clinics, a federal designation established by the Rural Health Clinic Service Act of 1977. The purpose of RHCs is to increase primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities by reimbursing rural clinics at a higher rate than their urban counterparts. RHCs can be public, private or non-profit entities. A public clinic is operated either by the state or a charter approved by the state and is accountable to elected public officials; a private clinic is a for-profit business, typically owned by a lone or small group of practitioners; a non-profit clinic is governed by a community-based board of directors and is tax exempt.
The chart on page 14 shows the breakdown of public, private and non-profit RHCs in Oregon. One private RHC in Oakridge closed in 2007.
One disadvantage of an RHC designation is the slow rate of reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare services. Legislation was introduced in the 2008 Supplemental Legislative Session to streamline the reimbursement process between RHCs, managed care organizations and the state. According to 2005 data from the Oregon Office of Rural Health, the average payer mix for Oregon?s RHCs was 23% Medicaid and 26% Medicare; 77% of Oregon?s RHCs have a negative operating margin.[/quote]
If anyone would like to see the story in its entirety, please email me at email@example.com.
Lobbying power is often not found behind rural issues, so legislators may not be exposed to them as much. It's an unfortunate situation. Thank you for the great show!
The legislature, led by Jeff Merkley, only funded the Rural office for 9 months...now they have shut it down. Does that mean Merkley only thinks rural Oregon should be open 9 months a year, or rural Oregonian should only have access for 9 months a year, then shut it down?
If anything, the views of rural voters are over-represented in Oregon and nationally. Farmers et al are the cliche poster child for politicians all over the country.
There is nothing like pointing out the obvious: the very nature of being "rural" and scattering yourself to the hinterlands means less access then you would have in a dense city. People can't have it both ways!
Thank you very much for tackling this subject! I decided while researching Oregon's Promise: An Interpretive History (published by OSU Press in 2003), that Oregon's urban/rural divide is extremely important. I grew up 1.5 miles south of Fort Clatsop, where our family had its own water system, and now live in trendy NE Portland, where many families think nothing of spending $1,500 a year for a child in elementary school to play classic soccer. We notice the political and cultural differences between urban and rural, and they are profound. But many of those differences are rooted in economic differences. In 1999 residents of the 3 counties that make up the Portland Metro area had per capita incomes that were nearly three times as high as those of residents in Gilliam County, for example. I don't think many of us living in urban Oregon know this.
All best wishes,
I keep hearing people say that we urbanites don't just get the "distance" issue. But they also say they choose to live at the "end of the road". So tell us what you want. If its just more money just say so. We can adjust the $1.25 to $.75 split so that Portland metro sends even more money east and south. What would it take? Is $1.50 to $.50 enough?
I'd like to comment on the caller who lives in Eastern Oregon, or maybe anybody who lives in Eastern Oregon because of the "Quality of Life". You are blessed to be able to look out your window and see mountains, trees and no neighbours every day and have a long drive to take advantages of "Services".
I live in North Portland and see neighbours out every window have great public transportation and all kinds of services. I also pay huge taxes on a 1600 square foot house on a 50'x100' lot and share a driveway with a neighbour, and I think that's pretty good "Quality of Life".
The reality of it is, that if you want sewers, quick response from emergency services you can really only expect them in an urban environment because of the high population density. That's been the case for at least the last 2000 years, and it's not likely to change overnight.
It might help to have some Oregon population figures:
RURAL - 836,079
URBAN - 2,911,376
TOTAL - 3,747,455
This means the rural population is only 22 percent of the state, so they should be underrepresented.
I have often been frustrated by the disconnect that "red" parts of the state have with the funding that they receive. Farmers, Ranchers and timber communities get more "welfare" from the federal and and state government then any other group in this country. Yet these are the same people who shoot down every tax increase and every bond levee that comes down the pipe. I would like to cut Oregon down the cascades and see what happens. The west would flourish while the east would tax cut themselves into the dark ages.
I'm 27, live in Salem, commute to Eugene several times a week for school, and grew up outside of La Grande. My concern is with policies on climate change and other environmental issues. My experience with rural Oregon included a family that recycled because garbage service didn't extend to our house and people whose lives depended on the timber industry. Now I recycle for different reasons, but I see so many more "environmentalists" in urban Oregon, trying to save the precious wilderness that is on the other side of the state. While I agree that we need to all do our part to conserve and live responsibly, I fear the issue for many rural Oregonians comes down to employment and transportation. Not only are these people not heard by urban Oregon, they often feel that their actions are not as significant in the big picture. What is one F150 against a whole city of Hybrids?
I grew up in Ontario, went to high school and college in Salem and Eugene respectively and moved to Bend literally the day that I finished college (and before all the roundabouts). In Bend, I found work in social services and had opportunities and mentors that I don't believe that I would have found in the valley. I was fully dedicated to being a rural social worker- in great demand much like rural health care providers. However, I was laid off and moved back to Portland after only a year with the State. In Bend I was managing a chaotic load of 18- 20 cases a month, with little resources, lots of public scrutiny and a whole lot of supervisor support. When I moved to Portland, my caseload dropped to 6/month and the perceived dynamic between worker and client was dramatically different.
This is a part of the gap, I believe, between urban and rural areas. There are distinct cultural differences that play into how people in rural areas operate and what they see as important. If you play it all the way back to the Oregon trail, it was not only important, but crucial to our survival, that we all maintain friendly relationships, even with the most difficult of neighbors. There is also a lack of information and exposure to culture in rural areas that absolutely affects political and personal views of the world in ways that can be damaging and cruel.
I cannot describe how frustrating and disheartening this experience was for me (being moved across the state to a position where I was clearly less needed). I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to move forward and saw myself moving into political work to help shorten that gap. When I heard about the office of rural policy development, I was so excited! I knew that this could be a way to help ensure that rural needs were represented within State government and to help explain State decisions to people in rural areas whose need to understand the decisions that affect them is often overlooked. I suppose it was just irony that the same news article wherein I learned about this office was the same that told me that the office was closed.
I guess now we'll have to rely on the Internet. No joke- the internet provides ways for people of all stripes to come together on different issues and provides a means to educate, collaborate and be represented on different issues with one's state senator. You know, as long as they actually read those email...
Rural Oregon certainly deserves more attention and support. However, with that support should come with return support for the many challenges that the urban areas face. As a former urban legislator I was always struck at how much money and policy rural Oregon wanted but how little rural legislators were willing to do to help the urban parts of the state. In fact, rural legislators spent much of their time trying to poke the eye of urban Oregon, particularly Portland and Eugene, whenever those cities needed policy support. There are a litany of examples I could recall.
Sadly, not enough of an effort is made to figure out how to forge good compromises that help both rural and urban Oregon. For instance, in exchange for urban legislators supporting the rural timber payments issues, rural legislators in turn ought to support allowing local school districts to tax themselves more for "non-essential" education services such as foreign language, sports, arts, music. In exchange for supporting risky rural economic development projects (such as a gas pipeline to Coos Bay or buying a railroad in Wallowa County), rural legislators should have been willing to support allowing urban communities to enact a tax on real estate sales to support affordable housing. These are just two examples.
The sad thing is that these ideas are not even on the table. It's not because some rural and urban people haven't thought about them, but it is largely because the large interest groups that dominate the capitol are the ones that don't like these sorts of compromises. The anti-tax groups, the education associations, the property rights groups, restaurant association, realtors and others simply prevent creative discussions from occurring in Salem. Some legislators resort to demagoguery on issues in the name of supporting rural Oregon, but the unspoken reality is that those sorts of people are more beholden to the vested interests (anti-tax groups, for instance) than they are interested in sitting down and coming up with solutions to bridge the divide.
Rural Oregon certainly deserves a well-funded office of rural policy. It deserves well-funded schools, economic opportunities, good roads, and a tax structure that allows proper compensation that acknowledges the lack of a private tax base. Urban schools likewise deserve an opportunity to ask their voters to support foreign language immersion in their schools. And urban voters ought to be able to enact funding for affordable housing and ask that industries let the public know what sorts of pollutants are being emitted in their facilities.
Throwing down the marbles and walking out of the room is not constructive, but maybe it creates an opportunity for the serious adults to get in the room and collaborate in a meaningful way so that good urban/rural policy can be enacted or presented to the voters.
We have no idea whether there even is a disconnect between rural and urban representation in Oregon policy. All we have are subjective anecdotes. Perhaps the rural have a bias towards the urban? The rural are statistically conservative and republican, perhaps this perceived disconnect is a moral dislike or xenophobia rather then a true under-representation.
Great!This article is creative
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