Coos Bay dredging

Dredging at Coos Bay.

In the Civil War novel “Cold Mountain,” one of the characters, Ruby Thewes, talks about politicians and how they started the crisis.

“They called this war a cloud over the land, but they made the weather, then they stand in the rain and say, ‘(Expletive), It’s raining!’”

Those of us who have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic feel much the same by now. While the virus is serious and required politicians to take action to help people and businesses survive it, some overreaction has created serious collateral damage.

We have discussed at length the damage done when politicians repeatedly opened and closed restaurants without offering proof that they were spreading the virus and without taking into account the damage it would do to both owners and employees. It also impacts the farmers and ranchers who sell their crops and meat to restaurants. They were forced to repackage and redirect their products to retail outlets or other marketplaces as restaurants were opened and closed.

Comes now one more type of collateral damage. When restaurants were first closed, that meant the state lottery machines in them were also shut down. What had been a $1 billion-a-year torrent of cash for the state slowed to a trickle. At one point lottery revenue was down 90% as restaurants were forced to close or provide only takeout or delivery service.

Since then, however, Oregon’s gamblers have come through and brought lottery proceeds up to normal. They can now even play online. That means Gov. Kate Brown could resurrect the lottery-backed bonds that pay for projects around the state.

But she left out one major project: $15 million to dredge the Coos Bay port. The city — and the region — are counting on the port development to revive an economy that has faltered over the decades as the timber economy shrank.

The lottery-backed bonds will be headed back to the Oregon Legislature in January. In light of the rebound in lottery income, it is our hope that all of the projects originally approved for funding‚ including the Coos Bay project, will be included.

It would rectify a self-inflicted problem that could have been avoided.

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