Mobile Medical Unit (copy)

Samaritan Health and the Pastega Family Foundation have combined forces to purchase a mobile medical vehicle for use in the mid-valley.

Oregon voters, if you like political attack ads and negative campaigns, this fall's election campaign could be a little slice of heaven.

State politicians and interest groups have been racing to form political action committees — the sort of entities that claim independence from candidates they support but which often bankroll ads attacking opposing candidates or statewide initiatives. It's an arrangement that lets candidates themselves appear to be taking the high road, secure in the knowledge that other entities are taking care of the mudslinging.

In July, for example, Gov. Kate Brown formed two separate political action committees, according to news stories in The Oregonian. One of these committees, dubbed Team Oregon, initially financed with $100,000 from the governor's re-election campaign, seeks to re-elect the governor and to maintain Democratic majorities in the Legislature. The other political action committee Brown formed in July is called Defend Oregon's Values; this committee apparently will bankroll attack ads against her Republican opponent, Knute Buehler.  

To be fair, Brown already has been the target of attack ads this campaign season. In January, for example, a business-backed group called Priority Oregon launched a negative ad campaign against the governor. Earlier this summer, a nonprofit organization called Oregon Foster Families First paid for a television ad calling for Brown to "start putting our families first." The director of the group declined to tell The Oregonian who had paid for the ads — and, in this case, is not legally required to do so.

For their part, Oregon Republicans have formed a political action committee called No Supermajorities PAC, which seeks to prevent Democrats from gaining the three-fifths supermajority they need to raise taxes without any Republican support. (Democrats need to win just one additional seat in each chamber to get the supermajority.)

And we've just scratched the surface of the political action committees that aim to make noise during the fall elections. The resulting electoral clamor could drown out reasoned conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and ballot measure.

Voters often lament each election's tsunami of negative campaigning, but there's a reason why you see so much of it: Campaign veterans will tell you that it works.

But that doesn't have to be the case. And you can strike a blow against this kind of campaigning by doing something revolutionary this election: Ignore the clamor. Instead, do your own assessment of the candidates and the issues. Which candidate seems to be the best match for your beliefs? Which ballot measures would improve Oregon's quality of life — and which ones seem to be half-baked? 

In the increasing noise that surrounds our campaigns, that sort of quiet reflection isn't just revolutionary: It's downright subversive. (mm)

A medical gift

A practically new 40-foot Samaritan Health Services medical bus, designed to offer preventive health services to schools and rural communities throughout the mid-valley, is just about ready to hit the road.

Visitors to this weekend's Oregon Jamboree music festival in Sweet Home will get a sneak peek at the bus, purchased by the Mario and Alma Pastega Family Foundation in conjunction with Samaritan Foundations.

Ken Pastega of the foundation said the concept for the unit — which will visit area schools and rural communities — came about when he noticed billboards advertising Samaritan’s health services and a Red Cross bloodmobile mobile unit.

“I thought, there must be a better way to reach people who might have access issues,” Pastega said. Samaritan officials bought into the idea, and eventually the parties purchased a slightly used bus (just 19,000 miles) that had been constructed as a mobile medical unit. The vehicle includes two examination rooms, a big-screen TV for educational programs and an integrated wheelchair lift.

The bus will be staffed with a physician or physician’s assistant and a paramedic. Services will focus on preventive and pediatric care; it's not meant to be a mobile emergency room or urgent care unit.

Still, in a region where access to medical care remains an important issue, the bus is a big deal. Thanks to Samaritan, and especially the Pastega Family Foundation, for getting it rolling. (mm)

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