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Jason Holliston
Wednesday, February 05, 2003  
The story about Measure 28 is still alive, but you won’t see much coverage in the mainstream local news about it. Once again, they show that if it’s not doom-and-gloom, it’s not news. From the Victor Boc radio show:

The Oregon state government told us that if Measure 28 failed, some 3,300 state prisoners would be turned loose. Well, as it turns out, they will stay behind bars after all. The state has found an alternative way to reduce their budget by $21 million! Instead of releasing the prisoners, they have cut administrative positions, canceled outside service contracts and suspended construction of new prisons. Bingo! Congratulations to corrections officials. They got it. Oregonians sent a strong message to cut back... and not destroy the state in the process. Compared to the hundreds of huge stories, plastered all over the media for days about the devastating cuts in the wake of Measure 28, this little tidbit of a story is a real diamond in the rough.

Listening to him on his radio show, he insinuates that the failure of The Oregonian to cover this story (and other stories of last minute cuts to save programs) has a political bias behind it – I disagree. I just believe that bad news sells papers. Here are two headlines: “State Prisons to Release 3,300 Felons Due to Cuts” and “State Prisons Make Last Minute Cuts to Keep Felons Behind Bars”. Which is more provocative?

In any case, this is just another small piece evidence supporting many people’s assertion that if Oregon’s legislature an Governor wanted to solve this problem – and political fall out be damned – they could, and easier than many people think. Unfortunately, I believe the above example will be the exception of the rule. If our representatives and state workers failed to make any of the threatened cuts, then how could they make their case for the next tax increase measure?

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