More informal communication would improve legislative business in SalemCompromise seems to be a dirty word in Salem. Legislators are feuding again over gubernatorial appointments to state boards and commissions. After Senate Democrats opposed a nominee to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council, Republicans stifled attempts to move some 50 other nominations toward confirmation.
This is not the first time such an impasse has occurred. During Gov. John Kitzhaber's administration, it was a routine occurrence.
None of this helps attract good Oregonians to serve on the boards and commissions that play a major role in state government. And none of this instills confidence in the voting, tax paying public.
It is unfortunately a replay of the kind of partisan stand-offs that have typified the last three legislative sessions.
There was a time when Oregon legislative leaders would consult each other in advance of an impasse over a gubernatorial appointment or a piece of legislation. There was an attempt to work out a deal, a compromise. Accommodation is most of what we expect of a politician. That's why Otto von Bismark said, "Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable ... the art of the next best."
Our point is not to blame one party or the other. What we have in Salem is a festering wound. We have a destructive culture that is bad for virtually all concerned.
In politics, no one ever gets everything they want. It is a mistake to assume that one party or another will prevail in all situations. There must be give and take. In the case of gubernatorial nominations, for instance, it would make sense for party leaders to agree that either of them will get a limited number of preemptory challenges during the year, just as attorneys have the right to keep a certain number of people off a jury.
Most of all, this kind of impasse signals a breakdown in the kind of informal communication that is essential in any political culture. This is not rocket science.