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A Good Flip-Flop and a Total Flop 

Gene Whisnant goes from being in the wrong position to the right.

When a politician changes his position on an issue, he usually gets ridiculed for "flip-flopping." But when a politician flips from the wrong position to the right one, that's something to applaud.

Several weeks ago we gave state Rep. Gene Whisnant THE BOOT for blocking bills designed to protect homeowners facing foreclosure, including one to create a mediation process and another to stop the notorious "dual track" scam by requiring lenders to keep borrowers fully informed about all stages of the foreclosure process.

Whisnant not only blocked those bills by refusing to schedule them for hearings before his House committee, but also was poised to block similar bills - SB 1564 and SB 1552 - after they were passed by the Senate.

But then, almost literally at the last minute, Whisnant executed a flip-flop.

He was instrumental in crafting a compromise bill that combined the best features of SB 1564 and SB 1552, establishing a mandatory mediation process and ending the "dual track" deception. Not only that, but - in the words of Economic Fairness Oregon, one of the many groups backing the foreclosure protection bills - he "almost single-handedly turned his [Republican] caucus around" and got the bill passed.

Whisnant got a lot of unflattering letters, phone calls and emails for his initial opposition to the bills, and no doubt that had something to do with his change of heart. Still, he deserves credit for doing the right thing in the end.

Well flopped, sir. You've earned the GLASS SLIPPER.

Unfortunately, when it came to the issue of making concealed-carry permits secret, the legislature didn't flip-flop: It simply flopped, obediently assuming a supine position for the gun lobby.

In the last days of the session the legislature passed a bill that will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for reporters and other citizens to find out who has a permit to carry a concealed gun. Under the legislation, public bodies will be forbidden to disclose the identity of present or even former concealed-carry permit holders unless the permit holder consents in writing or a court orders the information released.

When lawmakers are thinking about making public information secret, the burden of proof belongs to those who are calling for secrecy. Advocates of the concealed-carry legislation utterly failed to meet that burden.

They argued that secrecy was needed to protect permit holders from identity theft. But they couldn't cite a single case where disclosing permit information had led to identity theft - or any other negative consequences. The secrecy measure, as Rep. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said, was addressing "a problem that does not exist."

On the other hand, Burdick - a former reporter - pointed out that checks of concealed-carry records had uncovered "a handful of alarming circumstances" involving people who shouldn't have been issued permits but slipped through the cracks and got them anyway.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Kitzhaber said he hasn't yet decided whether to sign the concealed-carry secrecy measure. We're hoping he'll get out his veto pen and kill it. Meanwhile, everybody in the legislature who supported it gets THE BOOT.


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