WOU in the news: WOU good; Medicare and Social Security finances bad

Rex Fuller

Story published in the Statesman Journal
By the Statesman Journal Editorial Board

WINNER: Western Oregon University. Oregon’s oldest public university began a new era this month, with new autonomy and a new president. WOU’s own governing board took over as the state disbanded its centralized administration of public universities. The Oregon University System had operated for 83 years. WOU’s new president, Rex Fuller, also began work this month.

LOSER: Medicare and Social Security. Neither government program is solvent for the long-term, according to their trustees’ annual reports, which were released this week. Unless changes are made , the disability trust fund will run out of money next year, Medicare’s inpatient care fund will go dry in 2030 and Social Security will have enough money to pay full benefits only through 2035.

WINNER: PERS. The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System was about 96 percent fully funded as of 2013, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. That ranks PERS among the most solid state pension funds in the U.S. Other states had as little as 40 percent of their needed reserves.

LOSER: Oregon drought. A drought has been declared in 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties: Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wasco and Wheeler. Last year, 10 counties were in drought.

WINNER:Spruce Goose. The infamous flying boat created for Howard Hughes is staying on display in McMinnville. Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which has hosted the plane since 1993, has reached agreement to obtain full ownership from theAero Club of Southern California.

LOSER: Newberg. Its city government is in turmoil. The City Council placed City Manager Jacque Betz on administrative leave Monday while an investigation is underway. Betz had placed Police Chief Brian Casey on administrative leave last week. The city has hired an independent consultant to assess the police department.

WINNER: Women’s soccer. Although the Portland Thorns have a losing record, they have a winning relationship with fans. The Thorns lost 1-0 at home to the Seattle Reign on Wednesday. But the sell-out crowd of 21,144 at Providence Park broke attendance records.

LOSER: Dangerous selfies. A tourist at Yellowstone National Park came way too close to a bison and then was foolish enough to turn her back to the beast while taking a selfie. The bison flipped her in the air. The golden rule of wildlife watching is to stay far enough away that your presence does not affect their behavior.


Send your suggestions for future Winners and Losers to the Statesman Journal Editorial Board at salemed@StatesmanJournal.com or by mail to the Editorial Board, Statesman Journal, P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309-3009.

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