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Our view: Tips and kicks

Published on March 10, 2016 5:34PM

A tip of the hat to Dwight Johnson, Jeremy Keene and the rest of the emergency response team in Pendleton that pulled a naked and combative Steven Burton from a tree Saturday morning.

The photo, captured by a curious bystander, has made the rounds and surely given glee to many. But the reality of the situation is not lost on us.

At a glance, the photo is a pretty solid argument against doing drugs. The story by reporter Kathy Aney tells even more, including the fear felt by the homeowner when a nude Burton walked into her house and gave her a hug, and the difficulty faced by law enforcement trying to rescue a man not in his right mind as he fought against them.

We also realize, from the picture and what we heard from people on the scene, that this could have ended even worse for Burton. It could have ended with a hearse instead of a jail cell.

Every day our public safety log, published on the records page, describes in broad strokes law enforcement’s difficult task of keeping the peace. Stories and photos like the one we published this week draw a clearer picture of how awkward that work can be, but also how important it is to have well-trained personnel to do it.

A kick in the pants to public agencies dragging their feet into the 21st century, especially when it comes to public records.

Whether it’s intentional obfuscation or simply bureaucratic ineptitude, when a taxpayer-funded office can’t provide a basic record to a taxpayer efficiently and affordably, it makes the system appear less trustworthy.

News organizations like the East Oregonian make more requests than the average citizen, and we deal with the long delays and odd pricing differences on a more regular basis. But now that files are stored digitally, having access to them should be easier and cheaper than ever.

The recent move at the Umatilla and Morrow county courts to transmit digital court files for a base fee of $3, regardless of the size of the digital file, is a good one. We realize it takes a few minutes of work to find and send a document by email, and a nominal fee makes sense. Charging per digital page does not.

Next week is national Sunshine Week, a celebration of our ability to access public information. That’s not a given most places in the world, and we shouldn’t let any clouds dampen the sunshine here.

A tip of the hat to the 14 candidates running for seats in Pendleton city government.

We knew a shakeup was coming, with several Pendleton councilors planning to step down, and were hopeful for campaigns instead of coronations.

It looks like we got our wish.

Over the next two months, the candidates will make their pitch to voters about which direction the city should go, and how they will play a part in that. We’ll sit down with each of the candidates and hope to facilitate a forum where the public can come out and meet them, too.

When ballots got out, the people will get to decide who they want to entrust with Pendleton’s big decisions.

We hope the future leaders of Hermiston are watching, and getting ready to throw their hats in the ring this fall when four seats are up for grabs.


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