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August 23, 2013
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Editorial: Roses & thorns


Silence on in-custody deaths

Three days after Gregory Price died in police custody in front of the Douglas County Courthouse, a woman stabbed her boyfriend in the chest.

On Thursday, the woman was sentenced for her crime — two months to the day after Price died.

While the stabbing was resolved quickly, police have released only the barest details about what happened to Price on June 22.

Even less has been revealed about the March 3 in-custody death of Walter Ray McKelvey in Canyonville. Authorities have not even confirmed whether McKelvey was shocked with a Taser by sheriff’s deputies.

The contrast between the time it’s taken to investigate the Price and McKelvey deaths and the stabbing that didn’t involve law enforcement couldn’t be sharper.

Maybe the comparison is all wrong. But in the absence of facts, we’re left asking: What’s taking so long?


Pen pals

It’s amusing to those of us of a certain age to read that someone might need instructions for filling out a postcard. Unlike texting, the sender needs to do more than work a couple of thumbs over the surface of an object.

But what prompted those lessons recently in Tiller ought to generate a much bigger smile. The occasion was Operation Postcard, and it accomplished two missions. First, it proved that even with the wonders of modern technology, not all skills are obsolete. Pen and pencil still work when a calculator fails. And second, Operation Postcard enabled firefighters assigned to the Whiskey Complex fires east of Tiller to reassure loved ones they were hanging in there despite their dangerous jobs.

They got that opportunity thanks to Danielle Lobaugh Newman. The 56-year-old Tiller resident knows something about postcards. She’s the postmaster at the Tiller Post Office, although she addressed this project from a personal, not a professional stance. Lobaugh Newman purchased stamps and postcards for firefighters based at the Milo Academy fire camp when she found out spotty cellphone service was interfering with their ability to communicate with their families. Her efforts sparked a warm response from community members, who donated more postcards and stamps and raised money through an Umpqua Bank account to keep the momentum going.

Thanks to all who delivered for Operation Postcard at a time when smoke signals weren’t a good option, IFKWIM.


Confused about its role?

Did Portland city officials really think about how it was going to sound to their taxpayers when they filed suit against a private company over unfair competition in the toilet industry?

Portland is suing Romtec Inc. of Glide, claiming the company copied its design for an urban toilet that can be placed on sidewalks.

For starters, when did it become a city’s responsibility to design toilets? And how can a city complain about unfair competition when it shouldn’t be competing with private industry.

For that matter, can a toilet be trademarked? What did the city invent?

If the city had such innovative thinkers that it had to carry out this project, then its price should be lower than what’s offered in the industry. But no, Portland commands $90,000 for its distinctive Portland Loo, while Romtec — a company accustomed to building sweet-smelling outhouses for campgrounds — builds theirs for less than half that amount.

Portland would do well to quietly pull out of the lawsuit before it gets too much publicity. Instead of spending money on lawyers, it could buy a few toilets from Romtec, sell them at an inflated price to its potential buyers in Seattle, San Diego and British Columbia and make a tidy profit. Not that we want the taxpayers’ money there to be squandered, but the scenario illustrates our point. Portland, leave this story for an episode of “Portlandia.”

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The News-Review Updated Aug 23, 2013 11:20AM Published Aug 23, 2013 10:16AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.