Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Things to be grateful for

2007 has been a tough year for many of the people in Clatsop County, a number of whom suffered disastrous losses in the Advent Day(s) Hurricane, but even amidst chaos there are always things to be grateful for.

Having just returned from southern California to visit my mother and sister, I am particularly grateful to live in a place where there is no two-hour drive to go 20 miles on a freeway, where there is clean air, and when you are descending into Portland by air what strikes you first -- no matter where in the world you are returning from -- is how GREEN it is!

I am grateful for the best co-workers possible, in the Clatsop County District Attorney's Office. They labor long and mostly unacknowledged, dealing with people at the worst times of their lives. They do it with grace and respect, and maintain an incredibly positive work environment -- particularly remarkable given that until a couple months ago they were in near-impossible work spaces.

ALEX PAJUNAS —The Daily Astorian A bumper sticker sits on the back of District Attorney Josh Marquis’ office computer Nov. 30 as finishing touches on the room and the move-in were completed. read the Daily A story

It's been hard work that has resulted in the successful resolution of a number of criminal trials this year. Most recently, several child molesters were convicted; and ,less spectacularly but no less important, a relatively new staff of lawyers has been pounding away at drunk drivers and wife beaters.

I'm grateful that Clatsop County's got a great group of judges and a terrific law enforcement team, headed up by Oregon's best Sheriff, Tom Bergin.

I'm particularly grateful for people like Beth Roland, a local woman who trains and raises horses and was the chief rescuer of nine badly-neglected horses seized from Seaside businessman William Maxwell's "farm" in 2006. I've tried well over 300 jury trials in my twenty-five years as a lawyer but I can count on one hand the number of times what happened after the three days of Maxwell's jury trial. The defendant's lawyer came to me just after I rested the state's case (when it would normally be the time for the defense to put on a case), and the Portland-based defense attorney asked whether his client could still plead guilty. Before the trial began he'd been offered a particularly good deal to save the time, money, and uncertainty that can come with a week-long Animal Neglect case, but that deal had been taken off the table when it was first rejected. Now the defendant pled guilty - not "no contest" -- and will be sentenced January 25 in front of Judge Nelson in Courtroom 200 at the Courthouse.

I'm grateful for the best legislator in Oregon, Senator Betsy Johnson, who, if there is any justice in the world, will be Governor in 2011.

I'm grateful for the many kind strangers who took time this Christmas to send me a card thanking me for my work and asking me not to quit. I've been really struck by the people who still come up to me on the street, at the store or the post office, put an arm on my shoulder,look me in the eye and tell me "Hang in there, we're with you."

I cannot go without thanking the dozens of volunteers who persuaded more than 6,000 Clatsop County voters to support Measure 4-123. The Measure lost by 70-plus votes, thanks to the incredible hard work and dedication of the most energetic and diverse group of activists I've ever met!

I'm particularly grateful to the world's best editor and webmaster, and tremendous supporter of public radio in Clatsop County: my best friend and wife, Cindy Price (without whom this post would not be possible.)

Cheers to all for the New Year. As the comedian Chris Rock says: "Obey the law!"

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