Opinion: The Oregon Trail Blazers could unite our
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
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
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
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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