• Last modified 853 days ago (Feb. 23, 2017)


Choice words

Something that’s crystal clear about our line of work is this: If people didn’t make choices, we wouldn’t have a newspaper.

There are plenty of choices we make that just aren’t newsworthy. You don’t care one whit what socks I chose to wear this morning (white), what I had for breakfast (bacon breakfast pizza), or what song I pulled out of my mental jukebox to hum as I walked into my office (an obscure J-pop tune, that’s Japanese pop music, that even my closest friends have never heard), so I won’t bother writing about them.

But we’re all about reporting on choices. We tell you about choices some folks might make, choices people have made that are important, odd enough to be intriguing, and just downright bad. Sometimes we investigate choices, evaluate others, and even give you suggestions for choices you might want to make.

Since this is my column and I’ve chosen to write about choices, I’m going to choose a few choices to comment on, and I’ll try to choose my words well. Not quite Dr. Seuss there, but I’d be foolish to choose to duel with the likes of “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am.” Untouchable brilliance.

Choice No. 1: Kent Becker for 1st District county commissioner.

In one sense, Republicans couldn’t go wrong the other night because Becker, Jared Jost, and Craig Dodd all brought valuable expertise, experience, and perspectives to the table.

Becker stood out for me when he made a hard choice about how to respond to a question about ambulance service. Saying he wanted to keep options open and study the idea of having a centrally located county EMS station, he risked losing the votes of those who are staunchly opposed to moving an ambulance out of Hillsboro. It was a principled choice, consistent with how he said he wants to govern. He’ll listen to and represent constituents, but he won’t sacrifice giving an issue due diligence. Good choice.

Choice No. 2: Filing the paperwork to create an independent countywide economic development corporation before reporting to commissioners.

Some might call the economic development task force audacious for doing that; I’d call it pushing the envelope. The concept isn’t new, but the approach is. Task force members were convinced this approach was the way to go, and they chose not to let a nebulous concept drift on the uncertain waves of territorial banter.

Here, folks, it already exists. You don’t need to decide if you want it, you just have to decide how to breathe financial life into it. That’s setting up to sell the solution, which is the attitude it will take to make real progress. Pushing the envelope is, in this case, a good choice that sets up harder choices to come.

Choice No. 3: Marion city council choosing not to speed up the process of considering the county’s rezoning request for the former Straub International property.

No action is choosing an action, and prolonged moments of stony silence while waiting for a motion that would never come sent a message from the council to respect the process. They weren’t going to be pushed into calling a special meeting merely for the county’s convenience. They’ve helped to clarify and facilitate the rezoning process, and that’s apparently sufficient. Operating within established rules unless presented with a compelling exception is a good choice.

Choice No. 4: Roger Hiebert’s response to Harry Bennett’s letter on religious intolerance.

If Bennett’s letter was about choosing words carelessly, Hiebert’s response, found elsewhere on this page, is all about choosing them thoughtfully and respectfully.

I’ve known Roger for a number of years, and unsurprisingly to me, his letter strikes the tone Bennett found missing in the comments from Hiebert’s former pastor. Make no mistake, Hiebert cedes no ground in the unshakeable bedrock of his belief relative to other expressions of faith, but he makes his case with a remarkable measure of respect for the humanity of others.

This is a tone sorely lacking across society these days, and it’s not restricted to politics. Being right by damning those who believe differently is more often wrong than right. It alienates others and precludes any opportunity of finding some common ground.

I’d encourage you to choose to read Roger’s letter. Perhaps you’ll disagree with his conclusions, but it’s one with which you can choose to disagree without choosing to be disagreeable.

Choice No. 5: I’m finished making choices for now. You may choose to applaud loudly and cheer raucously. Or not. It’s your choice.

— david colburn

Last modified Feb. 23, 2017