27 May

With OEIB, one more sweeping Oregon vision is swept away

R.I.P., OEIB.

Last week, without even a playing of “Taps” – we don’t have that much music in our schools these days – the governor and the legislature quietly dumped the Oregon Education Investment Board over the side. The board’s demise was collateral damage in the implosion of its patron, former Gov. John Kitzhaber, and its end came quickly; like too many Oregon high-school students, the board didn’t even complete a four-year career.

OEIB, we hardly knew ye.

But the abandonment of such a major effort – a blue-ribbon committee of 13 prominent Oregonians, chaired by the governor, intended to make shrewd decisions transforming all of Oregon education from birth through graduate school – deserves some sort of ceremony. Admittedly, a eulogy couldn’t have much to say about the career and achievements of the OEIB – a funeral needs to last long enough to let the pallbearers catch their breath – but perhaps we could say something about the attitude behind the board.

The OEIB was yet another expression of the indomitable Oregon spirit that says we’re not really going to fund education, but the brilliance of our restructuring strategies will cause us to triumph anyway. It’s hard to pinpoint a birth date for that spirit, but the OEIB was preceded in death by its siblings the Certificate of Initial Mastery, the Certificate of Advanced Mastery, the State Board of Higher Education and the chancellor’s office.

Nobody has lately seen much of another sibling, educational compacts that required institutions to pledge to meet certain standards; we’ve kind of lost touch since people realized there was no penalty for failing to fulfill a compact and no benefit for succeeding. We’re obliged to note that an even more aspirational cousin, 40-40-20 – the pledge that by 2025 40 percent of Oregonians would have at least a four-year college degree, and another 40 percent at least a two-year degree – at the moment doesn’t look very healthy.

Unlike OEIB, 40-40-20 may never be officially proclaimed dead; we’ll just lose sight of it, and eventually even stop sending Christmas cards.

In previous inspiring restructurings, the Certificate of Initial Mastery and the Certificate of Advanced Mastery were part of the 1991 Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, which barely survived into the century it was named after. Like OEIB, it was intended to transform Oregon education, envisioning both universal preschool and high school graduates bearing dazzling portfolios instead of boring transcripts.

During the 1990s, this expansive restructuring was combined with repeated budget cuts.

Somehow, it didn’t work.

The Certificate of Initial Mastery now survives only in some old graduation photos, reflected in some honorific cords carrying a significance nobody can remember. The requirements for the Certificate of Advanced Mastery were adopted just in time for the entire program to be dropped in 2008, although the state then promised that “Oregon schools will make the transition to a new and more meaningful high school diploma with rigorous standards and assessments and personalized learning that prepares each student for their next steps – advanced learning, work, and citizenship.”

One more vision, no more money.

Oregon’s recent restructuring of its university system was actually driven by the prospect of getting more money into higher education – specifically, by the University of Oregon’s belief that it could raise a lot more money disconnected from the other universities. But we then moved to a complete restructuring of the system and an end to central coordination and support, although there’s no reason to think it improves the financial situation of all universities – and it takes a notable bite out of several.

Of course, not all of Oregon’s hopeful educational restructurings have been so sweeping. Toward the end of his first term, in 1998, John Kitzhaber had a plan to link any additional school funding to demonstrated student performance. It was an ambitious, bold, far-seeing new vision for Oregon education, even if Senate President Brady Adams, R-Grants Pass, couldn’t quite see how it was going to work.

“I’m all for motherhood and apple pie,” agreed Adams, “but how much does it cost to bake the pie?”

This is, of course, the question that we never want to ask about any of our bold new visions and creative restructurings. Instead, we cling to the idea that with bursts of imagination and punchy initials, we can transcend our steady decline into below-average K-12 funding and bottom-bumping higher education funding.

Does it work?

As we were reminded last week, whatever our snappy codings – OEIB, CIM, CAM, OUS, 40-40-20 – we seem to end up with the same initials:

DOA.

Note: This column appeared in The Oregonian, 5/27/15.

24 May

Healthier eating takes root in Portland backyards

With Portland real estate at a premium, people make all kinds of calculations about space. We’ve gone from studio apartments to micro apartments, go to war over public and private parking spaces, and enforce zoning to within an inch of our lives, or at least an inch of our property lines.

Sadie Holmes has a deeply rooted concern about space.

“I hope this year,” said the Northeast Portland resident with a farmer’s gleam in her eye, “to have room for my cucumbers.”

We’re raising the level of our diet, one urban furrow at a time.

Last weekend, on a field next to Trinity Lutheran Church on N.E. Killingsworth, cucumber plants competed for space with eggplants and tomatillos, shooting up out of their little black plastic holders like renters seeking a second bedroom. Aspiring gardeners squatted to peer at them closely, searching among the wobbly sprigs of spring to try to see the salads of summer.

For 19 years, Growing Gardens has been one of several groups attacking Portland’s food issues at ground level. Over that time, according to executive director David Greenberg, its volunteers have installed more than 1,000 gardens in yards of limited-income families. Amazingly – at least to anyone who’s watched a warmly encouraged tomato plan ungratefully turn brown and bleak in August – 80 percent of the gardens are still producing vegetables five years later.

“When you teach someone to grow food,” points out Greenberg, “they eat better, you reduce hunger, and people become more self-reliant.”

The gardens come with seed, fertilizer, experienced advice and starter plants, which is what’s happening on this mid-May Saturday at Trinity Lutheran. The plant starts have been lovingly grown by dirt-skilled volunteers, like Humane Society volunteers preparing puppies for adoption, and on this field next to the playground swings the baby plants are finding their families.

From noon to two the newest gardeners come to stock their dirt; from two to four it’s the two- and three-year veterans, who scrutinize the squash, tomato and hot pepper plants like seasoned horse show buyers prodding the livestock.

“It makes it so we can afford to have organic vegetables all year,” says Sadie Holmes. “My kids eat much more fresh food when they can just go out to the garden and get it.”

Maria Solano, who has moved from cultivating her own garden to advising new gardeners around the metropolitan area, is looking for some new varieties of peppers to liven up the salsa that she puts up in jars for the winter and gives out as Christmas presents.

The gardeners walk about with armfuls of plants, mentally laying out their yards. At the end of the rows of tiny boxes is an advice booth with volunteers from the Portland Gardening Club. Along with the soil that brought American settlers to Oregon in the first place, and a long (and lengthening) growing season, their presence reflects another advantage of running this kind of program here; just as Los Angeles is full of people eager to explain how to write a screenplay, and Minnesota replete with locals ready to guide you through ice fishing, and New York thick with people bursting to explain everything, Portland blooms with gardening experts.

The booth is crammed with pamphlets, a cigar box displaying dead bees to illustrate useful pollinators and a home-drawn comic book, “Bumble Tales,” chronicling a swarm’s garden adventures. Asked how the advising is going, Christine Farrington beams, “It’s been exhilarating.”

At the other end of the growing cycle, the rising gardeners’ crops are seeding something else.

“Most of our folks are not only growing for themselves, they give it away to their neighbors,” says Greenberg. “Growing food becomes a community activity.”

And not just in the hallowed Oregon tradition of dumping a bag of zucchinis on the next-door stoop and running away.

Too many Oregonians, like too many other Americans, have issues both of not having enough to eat and of what they do eat. Fresh vegetables and fruits are not the cheapest ways to fill stomachs, but lacking them can be very expensive down the line, as diets of fries and instant ramen clog arteries and diabetes wards.

So when Allison Rose, walking among the eggplant starts, reports that her kids like to go out back and pop cherry tomatoes from bush to their mouths, we’re harvesting more than vegetables.

“Growing your own fruits and vegetables,” says Emily Keeler, Growing Gardens’ gardening director, “you have a deeper relationship with your food.”

And a whole new vision of a healthy Oregon appetite.

NOTE: This column appeared in The Sunday Oregonian, 5/24/15.

22 May

Oregon higher education: Hoping to be Mississippi?

It’s not often that Oregon appears in the higher ranks of any list concerning higher education. We keep our universities on such starvation rations that the University of Oregon concluded, a few years ago, that its only chance was to get out of the state system. The UO was swiftly followed by the other six state universities, even by those with what one might call no visible means of support.

Restructuring Oregon higher education has been a breakthrough. Now, instead of Oregon underfunding its higher education system, we underfund our universities individually.

But last week, there was Oregon, ranking # 6 nationally in a chart produced by the Washington, D.C, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – a chart chronicling higher education cuts during the Great Recession. From 2007 to 2015, the CPBB found, Oregon cut its inflation-adjusted per student spending by 33.5 percent, among the deepest cuts in the country.
And Oregon’s universities hadn’t been all that generously funded in 2007.
The chart was released at just about the same time as Oregon’s latest revenue forecast, showing state revenues up by several hundred million dollars. That was followed by a plaintive statement by the state’s seven university presidents noting, “While other sectors of the budget have had funding restored, higher education has not. The result has been higher tuition, reduced student services, and a more expensive and uncertain path to a post-secondary degree. This trend cannot continue.”

Actually, this being Oregon, the trend can continue, and generally has.

Of course, we now have an official state policy goal of 40-40-20, calling for 40 percent of Oregon’s adult population having at least a four-year degree. You can’t have sky-high aspirations while your funding bumps along the ground.

Actually, this being Oregon, you can, but it generally doesn’t work out too well.

In 2007, says Portland State President Wim Wiewel, the state’s two-year budget for its universities was $693 million. For the next two years, with the boost proposed earlier
by the Ways and Means co-chairs, the state appropriation would be $670 million – for a system with 20,000 more students, higher pay for faculty and staff and a rising PERS bill. Just to get to the same nominal support for students, the presidents figure, would mean state spending of $755 million.

No other part of the state budget gazes back at 2007 across such a gap.

At Oregon Institute of Technology – which recently made a national list of nine “non-Ivy bargains,” along with places like Rice and UC Berkeley – the proposed budget leaves the university with a hiring freeze and a $2.5 million deficit.

“We have a very short time period,” says President Chris Maples, “to get the ship righted.”
There is a sharp contradiction in bewailing the economic depths of rural Oregon at the same time we’re starving universities in Klamath Falls, Ashland, Monmouth and La Grande – something that representatives of those universities tried to explain to the legislators Tuesday.

At Portland State, the state’s largest university, with its largest number of low-income students eligible for federal Pell grants and largest minority enrollment, Wiewel notes that the proposed budget allows little scope for any new effort. “If we get more than the co-chairs recommend,” says the PSU president, “some of it will be used to lessen the burden on students,” including another look at next year’s 4.2 percent tuition increase.

For most places, this is not unimaginable thinking. Last week in California – which cut its higher ed spending by only 11.1 percent over the recession – an increase in state revenue led its Gov. Brown to give the University of California 4 percent increases in each of the next four years (plus some help paying down pension liabilities) in exchange for a two-year tuition freeze and other efficiencies.

State Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, praised Brown’s investment in the university system.

In the Oregon legislature, praise for higher ed is abundant. Notes Wiewel, “The rhetorical level of support is superb.” To Maples, “We’ve gotten great philosophical support. Getting philosophical support has gotten us to the bottom of the country.”

The CBPP chart reminds us that Oregon’s higher ed funding continues to be among the national bottom feeders, and that we’ve been heading in the wrong direction. Right now, Maples calculates, Oregon is $20 million short of providing as much per-student support as Mississippi.

“Oregon worries about becoming the Mississippi of the West Coast,” he notes.

“I will tell you, in higher education Oregon is aspiring to be the Mississippi of the West Coast.”

NOTE: This column appeared in The Oregonian, 5/20/15.

19 May

Monitoring phone calls, US now hearing a chorus of opposition

For years, Ron Wyden was one among lonely voices insisting that the U.S. government really shouldn’t be taking notes on every citizen’s telephone conversations. Against a lot of people with big titles and a Top Secret authority, the Oregon senator argued that government shouldn’t do bulk collection of metadata — keeping records on whom you talked to, when and for how long, on the grounds that it might someday be relevant to a terrorism investment.

But as of this month, Wyden has some company on his side – three federal appeals court judges.

Wednesday, he was joined by 338 members of the House of Representatives.

Talk about bulk collection.

The Patriot Act, written in a hurry after after 9/11 and passed without what you might call a close reading, expires June 1 unless it’s reauthorized. It allows the government to collect information that might be helpful in a terrorism investigation, an instruction the government under two presidents has interpreted expansively, not to say imaginatively.

“I want to deliver a warning this afternoon,” Wyden told the Senate in 2011. “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.”

This month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on the government’s use of that power. Maybe you wouldn’t say Judge Gerald F. Lynch, writing for a unanimous panel, was stunned and angry, but he didn’t sound happy.

Lynch didn’t say, as some critics have, that collecting the data was unconstitutional, partly because he didn’t have to get to that part; he found the collection was illegal.

“Such an expansive concept of “relevance” is unprecedented and unwarranted,” he declared. “The Statutes to which the government points have never been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here.”

As a result, the language of the Patriot Act “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the metadata program.”

Last week, the judges – and Wyden – picked up some more agreement. As the House debated renewing the Patriot Act, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., said about collecting the metadata, “This program is illegal and based on a blatant misinterpretation of the law.”

As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 2001, Sensenbrenner largely wrote the Patriot Act.

Wednesday, by 338-88, the House voted to ban the government collection of metadata – although the information would be collected by the telephone companies, and the government could get it if necessary. Votes on more extensive reforms were not allowed.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says he’s determined to reauthorize the Patriot Act without change. Last Sunday on MSNBC, Wyden said he would filibuster to prevent that, declaring, “I’m tired of extending a bad law.”

In an interview Thursday, Wyden said, “Wednesday’s vote in the House was a big win for liberty,” and while he’d prefer wider reform, “I think it would be a very significant step forward to stop the government dragnet of Americans’ phone records.” He thinks the change has a good chance in the Senate, noting that an effort came within a few votes last year, and that several freshmen Republicans campaigned on the issue.

McConnell, however, is holding a hard line. Last week he brought in intelligence officials and held a rare closed session of the Senate, with some Republican senators declaring afterward that government information-gathering powers should not be limited but increased.

Wyden is determined to prevent a no-changes extension, and his filibuster pledge has been joined by the libertarian Rand Paul, R-Ky. They refer to themselves as the Ben Franklin Caucus, after the Founding Father who pronounced that those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither.

Wyden says that after 14 years on the Senate intelligence committee, he knows the drill. As the deadline approaches, the Senate will be told there’s no more time for debate, and “if we don’t extend it, people will die and buildings will blow up.”

When that happens he has a plan. He plans to take up the report of the president’s advisory group on intelligence, and read, “All evidence suggests that the collections … were not essential for preventing attacks” and that any needed information could have been gathered through normal processes.

Supporters of data collection, he says, “have always counted on the other side blinking.”

This time, Wyden will try to keep his eyes open – and some government ears closed.

This column appeared in The Sunday Oregonian, 5/17/18.

19 May

Hales switching sides on propane plant set to backfire

Should Mayor Charlie Hales support or oppose the Pembina propane project?

Here’s my advice:

Pick one.

Because the mayor taking both positions, one after the other, has gotten the city to a worse place than consistent support or opposition would have. No business can now feel confident proceeding in Portland – let alone spending $15 million in preparations – because it has the mayor’s support.

And it’s hard to accept that the mayor was astonished – and forced to back away – by some angry meetings and letter writing.
I mean, this is Portland.

If you’re waiting for a major project with no opposition, good luck.

I can’t speak to seismic safety, in a particularly liquid part of town. But propane is a relatively low-impact and safe fossil fuel, and if you’re going to ban all new fossil fuel plants in favor of renewables, sometime in the next 40 years you may have trouble turning on the lights.

Better to dedicate part of the $12 million in property taxes the facility would pay to environmental or low-carbon transportation projects.

Pembina says it’s going to proceed with the project despite Mayor Hales’ opposition, although getting three of the remaining four votes on the City Council will be a challenge.

But who knows? Maybe the mayor will switch again.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 5/16/15.

11 May

In legislature, Oregon needs a transportation package that goes somewhere

SALEM – Last week, a carpool of legislators, notably some Republicans, went over to the governor’s mansion to talk about a transportation package.

The governor should invite them over often.

Unless, of course, the route between the Capitol and Mahonia Hall, like so many Oregon pathways, is becoming too bumpy to travel.

This legislative session was supposed to be the one that took on a transportation package, getting a start on fixing the state’s aging bridges and potholed roads. Delivering her first State of the State speech to the Portland City Club last month, Gov. Kate Brown declared a transportation package, along with ethics reform – driven by the circumstances that made her governor – as her legislative musts.

There is, however, a roadblock.

Democrats, even with their heavy control of both houses, would need some Republican votes to raise the gas tax, or any other revenue source. Earlier in the session when Democrats passed a bill extending the state’s low carbon fuel standards – which will, depending on who sets your odometer, cost consumers anywhere from a fraction of a cent to a dollar a gallon – Republican declared a transportation package to be off the table.

According to the GOP leadership, it’s still there. “I don’t think there’s a transportation package in our future,” said Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day. “The answer hasn’t changed,” agreed House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte. “The Democrats spent the money on their DEQ program.”

But there might yet be a possibility, even if the path is as stop-and-go as Rte. 26 coming into Portland at rush hour. The core supporters of both parties, business and labor, would like something to happen.

Cities and counties know they need help, and have learned not to expect it from the feds. (Portland put off its own plans to see what the legislature would do, with a faith that now looks adorable.) Rural Republican areas have some of the state’s most motionless pathways.

A deal would reduce the chances of a repeal of SB 324, or any other transportation issues, being on what already looks like a crowded ballot next year.

And now both Gov. Brown and chairman of the Senate transportation committee, Lee Beyer, D-Eugene, say they’re open to making adjustments on SB 324 to move toward a deal.

“My sleeves are rolled up,” said the governor last week. “It’s time. Let’s get this done this session.”

It’s not clear what kind of adjustments might be involved, and some Republicans, particularly in the House, seem to be holding out for pretty much repeal.

But some might listen.

“How do you mitigate that on a very real way?” asked Senate Republicans’ point person on transportation, Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg. “There might be (a way). Show me how you’re going to do that.”

There would, of course, be considerable complications involved in trying to reach a rearrangement.

“I think we already made a lot of adaptations on 324,” said Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton. “Clean fuels and transportation policy are true, true and unrelated. It’s not a trade in my mind.”

Even if there were a deal on SB 324, points out deputy House minority leader John Davis, R-Wilsonville, there’s not a lot of time left in the legislative session, and a lot of people outside the legislature who would want input on what goes into a transportation package have not been heard.

But legislators say that a working group had made a lot of progress on the package before the process blew up, and that could be resumed.

“I remain extremely hopeful at this late date in the session,” insists Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. “We can convene a group to begin a fruitful discussion in the interests of both parties.”

Or as Kruse puts it, “We could go over to Mahonia Hall and camp out for a week.”

A deal for a transportation package at this point would be difficult and perhaps unlikely, but there are reasons for both parties to be interested.

Democrats should want to produce a deal because when you have strong majorities in both houses, you’re supposed to produce. Republicans should be interested in a deal unless they really think that after next year’s election, with the presidency at the top of the ballot, they’ll be in a much stronger legislative position.

It might be a lot to expect from Ted Cruz.

The rest of Oregonians might also be interested in a transportation package, but we don’t always hear from them.

They’re mostly stuck in potholes.

NOTE; This column appeared in The Sunday Oregonian, 5/10/15.

11 May

Just where is the Trans Pacific Partnership fast track going?

You could see the case for both fast track authority, for Congress voting on the Trans Pacific Partnership without amendments, and for the trade agreement itself. After years of negotiation with 11 other countries, it would be hard to reopen everything with a fistful of congressional amendments.

The treaty itself could strengthen the United States’ position in Asia, and get us more access to money-spending markets like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Chile – very useful for a state like Oregon, that lives on trade and agricultural exports.

And if there were problems with previous trade agreements about labor and environmental arrangements, we’re assured that the negotiations on the TPP have taken care of those issues.

But we don’t know that. Everything in the treaty is secret – although major trading corporations seem to have a pretty good idea what’s in it – and we don’t know anything about it, except that the Obama administration wants it passed fast.

That shouldn’t be enough.

The decision of whether to adopt fast track is the beginning of the decision on whether to accept the Trans Pacific Partnership itself. That decision has to be based on information, not about trust in the Obama administration or resentment about past trade agreements.

Because on the fast track, you can go off the rails.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 5/9/15.

07 May

No wedding cake, but a large slice of crowdfunding

It’s hard to know just which numbers to use.

In March, Arlene’s Flowers, in Richland, Wash., was convicted by a state judge of violating the Washington anti-discrimination statute for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. Baronelle Stutzman, owner of the company, was fined $1,000 plus $1 in court costs.

By early April, according to the Associated Press, Arlene’s Flowers had gathered more than $85,000 in crowdfunding pledges over the Internet, a fragrant floral funding.

After Crystal O’Connor, owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., told a local TV affiliate that she supported Indiana’s religious freedom act and would refuse to supply pizzas for a same-sex wedding – not that anyone had asked her to – she said she received a wave of abuse and threats that caused her to close the restaurant. It reopened a few days later.

In two days, a crowdfunding effort led by conservative media brought in $842,357, from 29,000 contributors.

In Oregon’s own famous case, Sweet Cakes by Melissa’s Aaron and Melissa Klein, who refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, were last week ordered by a state administrative law judge to pay $135,000 in damages to the same-sex couple. The decision now works its way to state labor commissioner Brad Avakian and then, no doubt, to the courts for an appeals process.

A crowdfunding effort on GoFundMe almost immediately brought in more than $100,000 for the Kleins. GoFundMe then closed down the effort on the grounds that the Kleins – unlike the Indiana pizza maker – had been found to violate a law. Immediately, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, said his national organization, Samaritan’s Purse, would take over fund-raising for the Kleins.

Graham’s group has not yet released any current crowdfunding totals, but it does seem – based on trends and the other widely reported cases – that refusing to provide services to a same-sex wedding can be considerably more lucrative than actually providing them.

Especially if you’re an Indiana pizza place, although maybe that depends on the pizza topping.

So in talking about economic impact, it’s hard to know just which numbers to use.

Which is less of a problem than you might think, since – with 37 states now allowing same-sex marriage, and not enough refusal-of-service cases to fill even a small rehearsal dinner – the issue really isn’t about economic impact.
“The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” explained Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson about the Richland flowers case. Selling flowers or a cake or a pizza to anybody doesn’t provide authority over how the purchase is to be used.

If it did, your average wedding would have a lot more guests, or at least a lot more signatures on the marriage certificate.

Last week, the same week that the Oregon administrative judge ruled in the Sweet Cakes case, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a long-awaited case on same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered the swing and decisive vote on the issue, expressed the case for full recognition in a question to opposing counsel: “Same-sex couples say, of course, ‘We understand the nobility and the sacredness of marriage. We know we can’t procreate but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled.’”

As Avakian’s spokesman Charlie Burr points out, the Oregon decision was based on a violation of law – specifically, a violation of ORS 659A.493 – but unlike the Washington case, the amount was not a fine but a judgment of damages. The $135,000 finding was based on the administrative judge’s assessment of the pain and suffering felt by the wedding couple, including their claim that Aaron Klein called them an “abomination.”

The vital part of that decision, as with the Washington decision, was establishing the right of same-sex couples to equal treatment in public accommodation. When Avakian reviews the judgment, he might consider how the $135,000 judgment, even if more than covered by online contributions, creates a sense of marriage martyrdom that undercuts the ruling’s impact.

In the Internet age, economic impact – like pain and suffering –is a difficult thing to measure, and it’s hard to know which numbers to use. What we can hold to is the principle that two consenting adults of either gender are legally entitled to be treated alike. That means, in Justice Kennedy’s favorite word, with dignity.

In 2015, we’re setting the position that in more than one arrangement, two’s company.

Three’s a crowdfunding.

NOTE: This column appeared in The Oregonian, 5/6/15.