Thumbs up to punctual lawmakers and NASA, down to a waterless commission

Cheers — to the Oregon Legislature for finishing on time in one of the toughest legislative years in decades. The sour economy and how best to cope with it dominated much of the 2009 session.

Reviews of what lawmakers actually did are mixed, of course. But for now, it's worth noting that legislative leaders pulled off an efficient session.

Jeers — to the recently defeated members of the waterless Shady Cove Water District, who persist in stubbornly dragging their feet against overwhelming public desire that they quietly go away.

Despite being trounced in the May election by a slate of candidates who have vowed to dismantle the district, the sitting board continues to hold meetings, and members won't say whether they'll step aside. Manager Jim Collier insisted the board is waiting for the county clerk "to make that determination." The clerk, of course, has done what she is supposed to do under the law and sent an abstract of the May 19 election results to the district within 20 days. The ball is in the district's court, even if the board apparently has lost it in the sun.

Cheers — to the Ashland Food Network, a new group of 50 energetic volunteers who are filling the shelves of the Ashland Food Bank by collecting donations from neighbors who agree to participate by donating one food item per week, collected by the volunteers every eight weeks. Every item adds up: 300 donors means a ton of food every month. Organizers are aiming for at least 900 donors. That's a huge boost to a food bank that is grappling with a 42 percent increase in demand this May over the same month last year.

Cheers — to NASA, which clearly has embraced the less-is-more ethos of the current recession. At a time when formerly conspicuous consumers are renting things such as handbags and designer dresses, NASA's shuttle program manager is pushing a plan to recycle the shuttle launcher system to carry a manned capsule and a cargo container on a return mission to the moon. The bare-bones proposal would replace the more powerful and, at $35 billion, much more costly new Ares I and Ares V rockets that are currently planned for the mission.

Of course, NASA brass will have to break it to the astronauts that they'll have to pay $15 to check a bag, and they won't get to choose their seats.

Cheers — and a crisp salute to Charlie Beecham of Ashland, who is continuing that city's tradition of placing more than 300 flags throughout town to celebrate the Fourth of July. The economy is putting a crimp in the civic exercise this year, as some businesses have decided they can't afford the $50 subscription that pays for the flags and guarantees the merchants a flag to display at their business. Beecham, 87, a World War II B-17 pilot who flew 50 combat missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, is undaunted. He vows all flags will go up in their usual places, sponsored or not, and he'll be riding in a Kiwanis team truck helping to deploy them.

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