Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

July 16, 1999

A MAJOR DEFICIENCY in the 1999-2000 edition of the Oregon Blue Book, the state's bible, is the inexplicable omission of the names of members of state boards and commissions. Most of those public service volunteers were appointed by the governor.

In its own words, "The Oregon Blue Book is an official state directory and manual concerning state, county, city, federal and tribal governments, with related general information. The Oregon Blue Book is published in the spring of odd-numbered years by the secretary of state."

The current publisher is Secretary of State Phil Keisling, a Democrat.

A CITIZEN WANTING TO KNOW the names of members of the State Apprenticeship and Training Council, Commission on Black Affairs, State Plumbing Board, or Workers' Compensation Board, to cite a few for-instances, used to be able to look up their names and expiration years of their terms of office in the Oregon Blue Book. But no more. Now, a citizen wanting information that formerly was readily available in the Blue Book must call a contact person for a state board or commission. That, of course, involves putting up with the annoyance of dealing with a phone system seemingly designed to prevent contact with a human being and at the same time incur the cost of a long distance telephone call to Salem from whatever city, town or crossroads a citizen calls from.

But, for reasons privy only to publisher Keisling and his editorial assistant, all of the officers and board members of the Oregon State Bar are listed, as are the names of the Board of Bar Examiners along with the expiration years of their terms of office. Apparently, Keisling and his editor didn't want to put busy attorneys to the bother of having to call a contact person for information.

While omitting information which taxpayers have long relied on the Blue Book to provide, publisher Keisling proudly points out that the Blue Book for the first time contains color photos from each of Oregon's 36 counties. Keisling sacrificed information for the sake of colorful cosmetics, and he also let errors slip into print. That's the same editing modus operandi practiced at the New York-owned Oregonian newspaper in Portland. With his background of having written for a weekly newspaper and a monthly magazine, perhaps Keisling could catch on at the Newhouse chain paper if he ever tires of public office.

***

REPUBLICAN GEORGE W. BUSH, the $36 million candidate for president, visited Portland last week in search of still more money for his quest for a lease on the White House.

The Texas governor's appearances around the country in pursuit of campaign contributions are orchestrated to furnish photo opportunities of the Southern politician being friendly with minority youngsters in city after city. The photos, distributed by obliging wire services to newspapers nationwide, are designed by the candidate's political handlers to illustrate his pitch that he's a "compassionate conservative." GW's father, George H.W. Bush, used to call the Rose City "Beirut" because of the hostile crowds he encountered here; also because Oregonians voted for Democrat Mike Dukakis over Bush in 1988 and for Democrat Bill Clinton over Bush in 1992. But GW says he's not writing off Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.

Although "Shrub" the governor of Daddy Bush's adopted state of Texas dodges questions about where he stands on the issues, the media give him a free ride, not badgering him for specific answers like they do President Clinton or Vice President Al Gore. The media should ask Lone Star Gov. Shrub if he's so compassionate, then how come Texas ranks a lousy 47th among the 50 states in the delivery of social services to its less-well-off citizens? Or does Shrub's real compassion apply only to his fellow white millionaires?

***

JIM GOODSELL, the prize-winning editor of this newspaper from 1951 to 1965, was the most exacting grammarian this writer encountered in a career of bylines in newspapers from coast to coast and beyond. Jim left the Labor Press to become an expert on foreign trade for the U.S. Commerce Department. In his nearly two decades with the federal agency, he ran American trade centers in several foreign countries. Now retired and living with wife Dee in Twisp, Wash., Jim's English-usage standards remain as high as the mountain peaks he's scaled.

In recent years he's become increasingly concerned about the misuse of the apostrophe, a grammatical device that looks like this '. He expressed his concerns in a letter to the editor, which has been published in three Washington newspapers Methow Valley News, Okanogan County Chronicle and Wenatchee World. Jim's letter follows:

"OUR COUNTRY faces a much more difficult crisis than some possible Y2K glitch. We are facing an apostrophe catastrophe.

"Hardly anyone in the United States under the age of 50 has the slightest clue about this tiny, simple, essential punctuation mark. That includes too many teachers of English, too many teachers of writing and too many journalists.

"I know of one newspaper that had a succession of four editors over a period of 10 years. Not one of them knew the difference between it's and its. Sometimes they got it wrong in large, black headlines.

"When faced with a truly daunting phrase like 'the men's horses' saddles,' they took one of two courses. Some copped out by writing 'the saddles of the horses of the men.' Others (more daring) stood back and tossed apostrophes at random, like darts at a dartboard. The results often were astonishing.

"IT'S (IT IS) part of the relentless dumbing down of America. I once entered a local high school and saw a large banner: GO LIONS! YOUR THE BEST! I fled in terror and have not returned to that educational institution. I still wonder how many times the school's superintendent, principal, teachers and school board members strolled by that inspiring banner.

I'll (I will) thank you in advance for your (belonging to you) comments. You're (you are) welcome!

"I love and respect the English language, but I'm (I am) growing old. I often wonder which of us will be the first to die the apostrophe or ... Jim Goodsell, Twisp."

***

JAY A. BORMANN, a former secretary-treasurer of Portland-based Machinists District Lodge 24, recently became president of Guide Dogs of America, an International Guiding Eyes program which operates under the auspices of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar. Bormann explained: "Guide Dogs of America is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing professionally-trained guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to blind and visually-impaired individuals in the United States and Canada so that they may pursue their goals of independence and greater mobility ... The funds to support this important program come from fundraising activities and individual and corporate donations ..."

Guide Dogs of America was founded in 1948 when a machinist who was losing his eyesight asked the IAM for help after other dog schools told him he was too old at 58 to be paired with a guide dog.

Bormann said a Guide Dogs of America fundraising golf tournament tees up Friday, Nov. 12, at the Angel Park Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nev. A $100 entry fee includes lunch. For information about the golf event and a banquet, call Marie Thomas at 1-818-362-5834.

A member of Portland Machinists Local 63, Bormann left the Rose City in 1991 when he was appointed an IAM auditor assigned to Memphis, Tenn., where he worked until promoted to the Guide Dogs post.

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