Reading today’s “Cheers and Jeers” column I am reminded of Steve Martin’s comedy routine where he passes on sage advice from his grandmother. “Always, er… NO, never…” begins the quip and the rest is usually irrelevant. The paper engaged in its own crude version of the joke when it applauded Coos Bay Mayor Crystal Shoji for “choosing not to deal with a resolution opposing the National Defense Authorization Act” because it is federal law and not city business in the mayor’s opinion. Then, in the same column it again cheered Shoji, this time for suggesting a public meeting to discuss the constitutionality of placing religious symbols on public property, namely the cross atop a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mingus Park.
According to the paper concerns about the NDAA are “overblown” and “irrelevant” which is quite a statement to be made in light of recent revelations that the NSA is spying on Americans thanks to provisions of the Patriot Act that have been determined to be unconstitutional. Newer revelations indicate the data collected by the NSA is now being used by federal agencies like the IRS and the DEA to falsify evidence for criminal prosecution.
The paper makes a curious claim, which if accurate, should be investigated by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. “Questions of constitutionality have so far,” writes the paper, “kept discussion of the memorial behind executive session doors.” Since when is “constitutionality” exempted from Oregon public meetings law or any law except by the super secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?
The cross would not be a matter of discussion at all were it not for the efforts of local citizens with support from a national organization. This is always how the peoples’ business is done, it starts at the local level. Shoji would garner more respect if she opened up a public forum to discuss offending provisions within the NDAA rather than saying, “I don’t think this is our job to do this.” It is up to the people to decide official business.
This is just another clumsy attempt by the editors to support the elected officials they like no matter how many back flips and contorted gymnastics moves are required to cover up for the hypocrisy some of these officials demonstrate.