Maverick GOP mana

May 02, 2001 12:00 am

Maverick is an easily overused adjective not to mention one Eastern Oregon politicians seem adept at earning.

Rep. Greg Smiths predecessor, Rep. Lynn Lundquist, received the stamp in his much-publicized battle with then-House Speaker Lynn Snodgrass over school funding during the 1999 legislative session.

But Lundquists break from party unity cost him more than a new nickname as a maverick member of the GOP it cost him his committee appointments and, arguably, much of his remaining clout in the legislature, all yanked out from under him by a less than willing to be challenged Snodgrass.

That kind of infighting can be par for the course in the state legislature.

Fortunately, you win some and you lose some when it comes to political bickering.

Eastern Oregon lost in the Lundquist vs. Snodgrass billing. We appear to be the winner of some unexpected mana thanks to a blowup between Republican Sens. Gary George, R-Newberg, and Gene Derfler, R-Salem.

Derfler, the Senate president, flat out shut down Georges Senate General Government and Transportation Committee in response to a letter George circulated throughout the Capitol criticizing Derflers leadership.

Normally, wed sit back and watch the carnage and wonder what good it could do.

Except this fracas did do some good: George was fostering a bill that would impose new fees on studded tire users.

Original incarnations of the bill rankled Eastern Oregonians, as the stipulations ranged from a ban on studded tires to annual taxes or fees for their use.

In an area where the tires can add to the safe operation of a motor vehicle and where generally low incomes make it so that taxes and fees can quickly add up to prohibitive levels those proposals sounded about as good as a guitar strung with shoestrings.

George was edging towards a fee for Westside residents only a curious approach that would have spared the Eastside.

Now, it is a moot point.

But the scenario illustrates how power plays can have unintended consequences.

That is a good lesson for current and future lawmakers from Eastern Oregon like Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, who has made noises about walking out on his GOP colleagues to protest redistricting proposal that would sever Baker and Grant counties.

We agree that the two counties belong in the same legislative districts, but not to the extent that we would sacrifice Ferriolis potency as a lawmaker to preserve the union.