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Opinion: The Oregon Trail Blazers could unite our state

In this 2014 file photo, fFans celebrate the win as the Portland Trail Blazers face the Orlando Magic at the Moda Center.
In this 2014 file photo, fFans celebrate the win as the Portland Trail Blazers face the Orlando Magic at the Moda Center.

By E. Werner Reschke. Rep. Reschke, a lifelong Trail Blazer fan, represents House District 56 in Klamath and Lake Counties.

The “Oregon Trail Blazers.” These three words set off a firestorm in my legislative office in Salem earlier this month. I heard from many Oregonians who were passionate about why the name should remain the Portland Trail Blazers. I was questioned on how a legislator with a pro-business mandate could suggest a private organization change its name and why my focus wasn’t on critical issues instead of this one.

For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Beaverton. I am very familiar with the Trail Blazers and their rise to power in 1977 with Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Bob Gross, Lionel Hollins and Dave Twardzik, as well as their close to glory days in the early 1990s with Clyde-the-Glide Drexler, Jerome Kersey and Terry Porter. I think the Blazers organization is a strong asset to the city of Portland — and to the rest of Oregon.

As a legislator, I am constantly swimming in the ocean of ideas. I champion some of them because I believe they are helpful to all Oregonians. And I appreciate civil discourse. When done right, an idea can be heard on its merits, from all sides of the political spectrum.

For example, as part of a tour this summer to build enthusiasm statewide, the Trail Blazers visited my district in Klamath County. The idea came to mind: Why not the Oregon Trail Blazers? Statewide enthusiasm is the team’s goal. This is a team for all Oregonians to claim as their own. Why not try to unify Oregon and bridge the gap I too often see in this building between Portland legislators and the rest of us. So I crafted a resolution (no additional tax dollars were spent as some claim) and introduced it on Feb. 1.

To be clear, this idea is a resolution — not something that becomes law. The lack of civics knowledge in our society saddens me. When a resolution passes, it becomes an expression of the legislative body. It acknowledges a special contribution — it is not law that places any obligation on the subject at hand. If it were to pass in the House, the resolution would simply state to the Trail Blazers organization how elected leaders in their state feel about a name unifying Oregon.

Let’s move onto my work on critical issues. The same day I introduced the Trail Blazer resolution, I also introduced bills — which can become law — to lower public school classroom sizes; provide incentives for medical providers to consider employment in rural Oregon; and to give county commissioners more local control on food stamp benefits. I also gave a floor speech about fixing the biggest problem in our state: PERS, the state pension system.

It felt to me as if the media chose to only cover this resolution as sensational — the mere suggestion of discussing a reasonable name change for the Trail Blazers. I believe Oregonians deserve to understand more, not less, of what is happening in Salem with other ideas addressing carbon, housing costs, homelessness, health care and other critical issues.

If left on course, the current trajectory of this building in 2019 means Oregon becomes far less affordable. That is why I am here. These critical issues are what I am working towards — policies that all Oregonians statewide can afford, while at the same time are compassionate to those who really need our help. Let’s unify our state.



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