Wednesday, December 12, 2001
After almost one year in legislative office, Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, likes her new job well enough to run for a second term.
"I've accomplished some important things during my first session, but there are still goals I want to achieve," said Smith, who filed for re-election last week.
She was recently commended by her peers for being the legislator to draft the fewest bills, a move Smith said she made deliberately to save taxpayer dollars. She said many Oregon citizens are unaware that about 4,000 bills were proposed during the 2001 legislative session -- with a pricetag of $1,000 each just to have them written.
"We don't need more laws, we need to fix the ones we've already got," said Smith, who was successful in gaining $25,000 for a Mid-Columbia Veteran's Memorial, simplifying the process for counties to sell surplus property and passing legislation that supported the annexation of Hood River into the Columbia Gorge Community College District.
She is pleased to have been selected for a number of leadership roles, including an appointment as co-chair of a special legislative committee designed to oversee the actions of the Columbia River Gorge Commission.
"I'm optimistic this process will bring fairness and balance to the National Scenic Area Act, something that's been missing in the past," said Smith.
She plans to hold a series of town hall meetings prior to the three public hearings that will be scheduled by the legislative committee in early 2002. Her objective is to create a list of concerns expressed by Gorge citizens and local governments which can be addressed and "hopefully" resolved during the hearings.
"I want to ask our constituents who are paying for this what they think our priorities should be," said Smith.
She said the second purpose of the Scenic Act was to support the economies of Gorge communities, something she believes has not been given enough priority in land-use decision-making.
In order for financially-depressed rural communities to survive, Smith believes it is vital to provide more family-wage job opportunities -- a need that she said has been largely ignored by her urban peers -- until last week's announcement by Fujitsu Microelectronics that it was closing its Gresham plant, which would eliminate 670 jobs.
"The economic crisis that we have faced for more than a decade is now being felt in the metropolitan area and maybe now they will understand that you've got to have economic development to accomplish the other things you want done," she said. "The focus of this state right now needs to be on job creation."
Smith acknowledges that focus will not be easy in light of the state's current projected budget shortfall of about $700 million, a situation she believes highlights the need to stimulate the economy, generate more employment opportunities and make sure Oregon is "business friendly."
"We have the second highest unemployment rate in the nation and yet, as a state, we seem to keep growing a government we can't afford," said Smith. "We're going to have to set some real priorities that consider the impact on the family budget."
She believes that her recent appointment to the House Special Task Force on Jobs and the Economy will enable her to work toward her top priority. Smith also credits her experience this year as the assistant majority leader, vice-chair of the Joint Water and Natural Resource Committee and membership on the Senior and Disabled Services Task Force for teaching her how to successfully navigate through the complex political process.
"These were important experiences and as a freshman legislature I was pleased to be able to do all that," said Smith. "I don't want to go to Salem to spin my wheels, I want to spend my time wisely and get the people's business done."
She had been applauded for her work ethic by House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village.
"Patti Smith is a hard working legislator who is dedicated to the best interests of her constituents," said Minnis.
Smith currently holds the House District 56 seat, which will become House District 52 in mid-December. Under recent state legislative re-districting, Smith will no longer represent The Dalles in Wasco County, but will retain all of Hood River County as well as a large portion of Clackamas County and a small rural zone in Multnomah County.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge