Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 45/The Name of William M. Tugman Added to Honor Roll

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Oregon Historical Quarterly, Volume 45
The Name of William M. Tugman Added to Honor Roll by Carl C. Webb and George Stanley Turnbull

THE NAME OF WILLIAM M. TUGMAN ADDED TO HONOR ROLL

CARL C. WEBB AND GEORGE TURNBULL

The name of William M. Tugman, managing editor of the Eugene Register-Guard, was added to the editorial roll of honor in Oregon when the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association selected him as the seventh person to be honored by the engraving of his name on the Amos E. Voorhies plaque. This plaque, presented to the association by Mr. Voorhies in 1938, is to carry the names of Oregon editors who have given the most outstanding public service during a year.

The first three names placed on the plaque were those of early leaders of the Oregon press—Harvey W. Scott, for 40 years editor of The Oregonian; Asahel Bush, first editor of the Oregon Statesman, which he started in Oregon City in 1851; C. S. Jackson, who established the Oregon Journal in Portland in 1902 and built it up into the top flight of western newspapers.

The first of the current names was that of Mr. Voorhies himself, who in close to 50 years as publisher has built up his Grants Pass Courier to a high position of respect and influence among the daily papers of this state. Next to be honored was Eric W. Allen, dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, who founded Oregon journalism instruction in 1912 and up to the time of his death, March 5, 1944, had a most inspiring and helpful influence on the press of Oregon both through his own personal work and through the School of Journalism. The award to Dean Allen was made in 1941. No one was honored in 1942. Last year the name of former Governor Charles A. Sprague, editor of the Oregon Statesman, Salem, was added. Governor Sprague's leadership in public affairs through his newspaper both before and after his term as governor brought him the recognition.

William M. Tugman laid the foundation for his journalistic achievements while an undergraduate at Harvard, majoring in municipal government under Dr. William B. Munro, noted professor in that branch of political science, now at California Institute of Technology. After his graduation in 1914 Mr. Tugman crowded in a lot of reporting experience on the Providence Journal, the New Bedford Standard, and the Springfield Republican. After a stretch in the artillery during World War I he prepared himself still further for his leadership on problems of government by covering city hall and public affairs on the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 1919 to 1927.

Brought here as managing editor from Cleveland in 1927 by Alton F. Baker, editor and publisher of the Eugene Guard, also from the Plain Dealer, Mr. Tugman began a critical study of tax and debt structures of city, schools, and county. This study became a continuing project, which he has never abandoned, with the result that he is a recognized authority in that field His leadership in public financing is recognized as vital in the long campaign which has pulled Eugene, in particular, out of the deep slough of debt into which the city had been plunged—as it seemed, hopelessly.

Mr. Tugman's tenure as managing editor in Eugene began just eight days before Charles A. Lindbergh first emphasized the compact smallness of the world by making the first solo flight across the Atlantic.

In his first year the new editor indicated the breadth and depth of his journalistic leadership. In that period he: 1) barged right into a difficult and dangerous personnel situation which was reducing seriously the efficiency of Eugene's city schools; 2) urged passage of $240,000 school budget; 3) suggested cash basis to schools to eliminate high warrant interest ($9,000 in annual budget); 4) pointed out, in advance of budget election, that the school board was justified in interpreting an adverse vote as a mandate to curtail service; 5) supported school board in proposed "housecleaning" to eliminate warring elements in school administration; 6) supported $1,250,000 bond issue to expand city power plant; 7) opposed issuance of bonds for small city bridges; 8) took a stand against endangering city credit by haphazard financing; 9) waged campaign against "bancrofting" which left city with $1,500,000 in Bancroft improvement bonds on its hands; 10) warned against overlapping of local governmental agencies; 11) wrote repeated editorials explaining city-manager plan and calling attention to municipal debt burden; 12) wrote his first editorial on city-planning; 13) warned against speculating in Eugene's dry "oil well"; 14) proposed community chest to unify local welfare and charity campaigns; 15) carried on continual argument with veteran county assessor whose passion for form was obstructing school and city business.

This outline is not, of course, a list of definite accomplishments by the newspaper. The fight for better schools, run on business principles, brought early victory. The struggle for more efficient city government and better city financing has been continued through the years, with occasional concrete progress in the face of difficulties. The campaign for a city manager is on as this is written.

In his first editorial on a school election, published June 18, 1927, while public attention was still centered on Lindbergh and his transcontinental flight, Mr. Tugman sounded a keynote which has echoed through his writings on public affairs ever since. Speaking of the criticism of the two retiring directors, he wrote:

... It is a rumbling, mumbling undercurrent of criticism rather than a specific campaign of opposition. It is as unfortunate for them as for the community that there has been no way of bringing the school campaign out into the wide open realm of facts.

This demand for facts, coupled by a restless eagerness to go and get them himself, has characterized the attitude of this editor ever since-together with the determination to get campaigns out into the wide open.

Two editorials published within a few days of each other in June, 1927, gave a line on the consistent attitude of this editor on bonds throughout his work in Eugene; not a willingness to vote bonds for anything desired in the name of improvement and progress; not, on the other hand, an unreasoning opposition to going into debt for any public purpose. On the power bonds he said:

The Guard is for the $1,250,000 bond issue to expand Eugene's municipal power plant. . . . If we thought Eugene were destined to freeze into a permanent mould exactly its present size and shape we would not be for this issue . . . We believe the people of Eugene have the will to make this city great . . .

But on the bridge bonds, three days later, the paper said:

... Term bonds are now forbidden in many states. Sound practice calls for serial bonds on which a definite proportion is paid off each year. And even serial bonds should not be used except for improvements of the very greatest permanence. It is sound practice to borrow for a new power plant or for lands and buildings that will outlast generations. It is exceedingly bad practice to borrow for wooden bridges which probably would not survive the bonds. The interest on $10,000 term bonds in thirty years would be close to $15,000, making total cost $25,000, and the chances are that long before the bonds were paid off the bridges would be gone. Let such bridges be built out of cash income....

Commenting on the defeat, 345 to 176, of a revised school budget to permit the schools of Eugene to operate efficiently and adequately, the Guard (November 5, 1927) cried out against the "absurdly inefficient system of handling public business with which we have been saddled under the disguise of more effective public control." Editor Tugman went on to say that "it matters very little that these school budget elections are prescribed by state law (the six percent limitation having been exceeded). We are election-ridden. Here is one of the great causes of non-voting." He went on to conclude:

We elect public officials to perform certain services. Then we take over their powers and reduce them to mere "yes men." A school board may give days and weeks of intimate study to a financial program. It can be upset by a very small group of malcontents who pick out some item for janitor hire or black ink and make an appeal to prejudice. The great majority of voters have been hurried to the polls so often on cries of "Wolf! Wolf!" that they get tired of trying to be discriminating and stay home. We vote and get nowhere.

This paper is for the initiative and the referendum and other measures designed to give the public an emergency control over wayward public officials. But we submit that the original intent of such measures has been violated by the ruthless application of the townmeeting methods to matters that ought to be left to duly elected officials if there is any virtue at all in the principle of government by elected representatives...

This editorial was followed up a few days later with a reminder to the voters that $9,000 of the money in the school budget was for interest on warrants, "in other words, on bills that the schools never catch up with." Over a period of years, the editorial set forth, "we have been getting farther and farther away from the cash basis and gambling on income to take care of bills plus interest."

Still on the subject of school budget, in advance of its submission to the voters in December 1927, it was pointed out (November 30):

After all, it is the children of Eugene who will be punished if there is an adverse vote on this budget. It is the children who will suffer if the school year is cut short, if classes are consolidated in an ill-timed, ill-advised movement for retrenchment. The teachers will suffer with them. The community will suffer damage it will take years to make up. The school board is making no idle threat when it says it will interpret an adverse vote as a mandate to curtail service. If the referendum means anything in Eugene, Oregon, there is no other choice.

The most the school district can save by voting down the budget is a little less than $60,000 on a taxable valuation of close to $14,000,000. This is four-tenths of a cent on each dollar of property for which you are assessed. What price "economy"? we ask!

The budget was approved in the election that followed this editorial expression.

The election was followed by a reminder that there was a big job to be done in getting the Eugene schools back to a sound operating basis:

It is ridiculous to have a school board with no money in the bank between tax collections and the school clerk trotting to the bank with six per cent notes whenever there is a plumbing bill or a payroll coming up. Portland has achieved the pay-as-you-go policy as we can do it by cutting out the tong wars, the street-corner lobbying, and getting down to work. If we can do this, it will be the first big step toward real economies in school management.

As a further step in the improvement of the Eugene school situation the newspaper worked with the school board in its plan to dispense with the services of the school clerk, acting as fiscal officer, and the city superintendent, who for some time had been feuding. "Everyone," said the newspaper, "has seen similar situations in private business. Attempts to adjudicate between two individually meritorious but inharmonious employees are almost always futile. The only remedy is a major operation, which removes both. It is not a pleasant task, but we commend the school board for having the nerve to face it."

In the clearing up of the bad school situation the campaign was not confined to editorials. A total of 21 front-page stories on the situation gave the public an intelligent presentation of the facts in the situation on which its opinion, as well as that of the newspaper, could be based.

A final editorial on that school crisis followed the election by the school board of H. R. Goold of Renton, Washington, as city superintendent with authority over both the financial management and the educational policy, theretofore divided between the superintendent and the clerk of the schools. The board's action was commended in a comprehensive editorial, the closing paragraph of which summed up the situation:

In the gradual elimination of one item of expense alone—the $9000 a year we have been frittering away on interest on operating debts for the mere lack of any modern financing plan—there is an opportunity for Mr. Goold to save much more than his increased pay. There are many other loose ends. It's now up to Mr. Goold and the board. We believe the people of Eugene are tired of political operation of the schools and that they will insist that the new system be given fair play.

Meanwhile the Guard was laying the foundations for its years of work on promotion of city planning, city manager administration, pay-as-you-go city financing. These have been uphill fights, with progress impeded by public inertia, by the strength of the opposition, and by interruptions occasioned by numerous battles for matters of more immediate urgency, though less ultimate importance.

An early editorial on city planning, June 22, 1929, put the matter concretely:

A great many now living will see the day when the business district of Eugene will cover twice its present area, but our organizational slowness in development emphasizes repeatedly the need for systematic city planning. Nothing can stop a good town, but some expensive mistakes can and should be avoided by getting down to business on planning. We talk about pulp mills and rayon industries. Just where would we put a rayon plant so that the destruction of property by its sulphur smoke would not offset its value to the community? Without a plan we are about to find ourselves with some kind of developments plunked down without regard to community welfare.

All this is background for the work which Mr. Tugman was doing continuously through the years and which in 1943 attracted the attention of the committee making the Voorhies award for outstanding public service as an editor.

Space does not permit of a consideration of the many public issues on which Mr. Tugman gave his home city leadership, through the depression and in the pre-war years when the lowering cloud of war was casting a dark shadow over the nation. High taxes and debt aroused statewide clamor when the depression struck the land. In line with its consistent policy under the present editorial direction the Guard urged, before the 1933 legislature, that borrowing by city, county, or school district be prohibited except in case of disaster or emergency and that instead of being prohibited from carrying cash reserves for improvements and replacements such municipal bodies be required to establish and maintain such reserves under constant audit. Such action was taken by succeeding legislatures, and Oregon became the first of the states to pass such laws, and Eugene one of the first cities, if not the first, to begin voting cash levies for permanent improvements.

A mere listing of topics of Register-Guard[1] local editorials during the year 1943, for which the Voorhies award was made, will give an idea of the range of this Eugene editor's interests and influence in his local field. No doubt, also, his work has served as inspiration and example to other editors who can not have failed to notice the intelligence, the information, the public spirit which have built the influence of this editorial page. This, of course, omits all the national and world-scene editorials which do not enter heavily into the committee's judgment in making the award.

Mr. Tugman's passion for home-rule by home people as against outside control has been accompanied by a recognition that, largely, his editorial job was a home-field job. In his ad dress to the state convention of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association last June he expressed his position thus:

We can add a mite now and then to the weight of world opinion, but it seems to me the best opportunity to justify our claims to leadership is right here at home where we live and work, making our small sector of democracy efficient, intelligent, self-reliant, tolerant. We have only begun to fight.

Perusal of the Register-Guard editorials reveals this consist ency of emphasis on city and county affairs-the home government. This has been true not only in the year for which Mr. Tugman received the publishers' recognition but for the whole seventeen years of his editorship.

Very likely this attitude springs in part from his experience as a student at Harvard under Professor Munro. Probably he is also a natural individualist, and rugged with it, and the less "interference" from the national capital there is in local affairs the better this editor is pleased.

Notice this list of topics dealing with the local field:

Planning
Local milk situation
Postwar plans and readjustments
Taxes and public finance
Conservations (forests, etc.)
Health protection
Governmental reform (city manager, etc.)
Crop-harvesting help
Law enforcement
Appreciation of police
Rent control
Housing emergency
Drainage
Music
Airport improvement
Social hygiene
Need for new road laws
Red Cross
Eugene neighborliness
Home gardens
Dog-poisoning
War and community chest
Morals
Recreation plans

Paralleling these, in many instances—sometimes appearing the same day, sometimes a little in advance of a related editorial comment, rarely unaccompanied by some editorial expression—were a long succession of front-page news stories on approximately this same list of subjects. Usually these were told in the traditional objective news-story fashion, with sufficient typo graphical display and position-prominence to insure a pretty general reading of the news of such important public matters. Consistent use has been made of graphic charts or illustrations to make complicated statistics easily intelligible. Readers who had availed themselves both of the news and the editorial expression were pretty well fortified on these topics, ready to encourage the right kind of action on the part of their public representatives.

Early in 1943 (January 5) an informational campaign on milk-production costs; the supply had been endangered by severe price-regulation. For several months this flood of information continued, with front-page stories and leading editorials, sometimes of extended length.

The next day there appeared both a front-page story and an editorial on this subject, Senator McNary had replied sympathetically to a telegram from the paper urging him to attempt to get the O.P.A. to cut the red tape that had the milk situation tied up. The editorial begin:

This is a quick and practical answer to the problem of Lane county's market milk producers-give the local O.P.A. power to act! Cut the red tape! Cut out this business of appeals to Portland and San Frrancisco and Washington, D.C., and give local administrators credit for common sense...

And this editorial concluded:

The domestic problem of each community is a local problem. Let Washington review local decisions if it must, but save the milk supply first. Cut the red tape!

Arguing January 10, for better prices for milk, the Register-Guard commented editorially:

Sure, ration milk and butter and cheese and all milk products, but try to make Congress and the O.P.A. understand that the dairyman must get production costs to protect his present fleet of cows, and he must be encouraged to 'launch' new herds. Or shall we tack up on empty dairy barns: "Spurlos versenkt! By order of O.P.A."

A few days later (January 17) there appeared an editorial requesting that a competent and fair cost analyst be sent to Eugene to make a first-hand study of milk production. If this were done, it was argued, and the analyst had power to act, "the threatened strike of milk-producers in this area can be averted and the whole controversy settled within a few hours after getting the facts." O.P.A. was credited with entire sincerity; but, it was concluded, it is "definitely dangerous to follow a policy which endangers safe and ample milk supply."

An editorial the next week emphasized that public health, not price, is the vital factor in milk control.

A half-column a few days later, demanded "early action to save dairymen and safeguard public health."

A page 1 story February 1 telling of an advance in wholesale

milk prices was followed next day by an editorial on milk-distribution economics, which concluded:

Milk comes into every home and is a mainstay of sound diet and health. Wand-waving by "economists" who have never been on the business end of a milk pail will not solve many of the problems involved.

An advanced local milk price, which the paper had been advocating in aid of both the dairymen and the public health, finally removed the necessity for editorials on this subject.

About two weeks later (February 18) an editorial headed "O.P.A. and the Milk Muddle" criticised the freezing by O.P.A. of prices to be paid milk producers at the "top price paid in January." This, said Mr. Tugman, "made matters much worse instead of better in this and many other areas." Concluding, he said:

Must there be a cutting off of decent and normal milk supply in Eugene to make people realize what crack-pot regulation is doing to them? Homegrown common sense could settle this trouble in two hours.

The next day a news dispatch from Washington reported a statement by a deputy price administrator that the milk price might be modified. Subsequent editorials, however, indicated some delay in reaching a satisfactory agreement. May 3 an editorial commenting on a bad milk situation at Madras, Oregon, under the heading "Madras Milk Rebellion," argued for local milk control, with an eye on local conditions.

A Fourth of July editorial headed "After Seven Months of Delay" still complained on the federal slowness in handling the milk supply problem. "The aims of these wartime controls," it was set forth, "are admirable; the administrative machinery is perfectly fantastic and impossible."

The day after Christmas there appeared a front-page news article and an editorial dealing with a public project very near to the editor's heart, the so-called Century Progress Fund. Crediting the original idea to William N. Russell, far-sighted young business man, the Register-Guard described the matter thus in the news article:

The Century Progress Fund, "for the benefit of the Eugene Springfield Community" and for all communities within 12 miles of the settlers' landmark at Skinner Butte, is announced today by a group of citizens who have decided to act on an idea proposed several years ago by Lt. William N. Russell, now on duty with the 100th Division "somewhere" in Uncle Sam's service.

It is to be a perpetual fund administered by not less than 9 nor more than 17 trustees, all heads of institutions or public agencies which are likely to be permanent. It is a fund which will have many unique features:

  1. No drives or solicitations, ever.
  2. Anybody, young or old, rich or poor, may give any amount from one cent up at any time by the simple process of depositing at a bank.
  3. Lists of givers to be published at least twice a year but without stating amounts.
  4. Trustees to have utmost freedom, within rules of prudent business management, to do anything at any time if it meets the test "for the good of the community" in the board.
  5. First goals will be to get adequate system of playgrounds and parks and clean up Odd Fellows cemetery and facilitate many betterments which have long eluded ordinary public agencies.

In support of the Century Progress Fund the paper comment ed editorially in the same issue:

It should accomplish many things which elude ordinary county, city, or school district action. The Yank sergeants who were here recently got a peek at the Century Fund charter and their comment was: "This is the doggondest community!"

We interpreted that as a compliment.

Commenting, in an editorial (November 19) on cash financing of municipal projects, the editor combined in one sentence two of his pet ideas. He said: "Sure, there is always good old Uncle, but he's up to his ears, and we rather like the idea that he has some thrifty and self-supporting nephews in Oregon." Home rule, and pay-as-you-go!

Matters of city and county financing received a tremendous amount of study and considerable comment during the year. One of the first articles published by the Register-Guard in 1943 (February 4) was an editorial urging a change of fiscal policy to call for payment of taxes by the Eugene water board, the city-owned agency supplying Eugene with water, light, and power. This was followed within a few days by other editorials arguing the same question and giving the readers much food for opinion in the matter. Exhaustive tables of figures were published, and one editorial said, "We invite careful study of the figures. They throw light on the problem." Other news stories and editorials on this question followed; one comment (February 28) under the heading "A Step in the Right Direction" praised a compromise bill introduced in the legislature providing for the taxing of city-owned utilities on an advalorem basis.

Mr. Tugman aimed one stone at two birds June 18 when he pointed out in an interpretative article in the news columns (page 1), with the aid of diagrams, how a school tax levy for a postwar high school building would save the taxpayers in bond interest. At the same time the high school would get a much-needed up-to-date plant. A few days later the proposed seven-mill tax levy for this purpose was passed by the in a ten to one landslide.

In an editorial on the result the Register-Guard commented: "We do not think the people of this community will ever want to go back to bonding and the long grind of paying for 'dead horse,' which stymies real progress."

Planning of public works and of the development of resources has been the subject of much of this editor's writing for several years, and last year his output on this general subject was large. An editorial February 18 called for putting this local planning under the direction of the "very best man to be had."

This was followed two days later by an editorial on the fruition of the project to move the Southern Pacific track north to the edge of the river as part of a road and traffic development long advocated by the newspaper. "One of the greatest improvements in the history of Eugene," the article began, "is the shifting of the Southern Pacific's main line to the Willamette River bank as the first step in the development of a modern highway approach on the east side of the city...."

The editorial concluded with a further suggestion on the parking and traffic problem. "A few years ago," the article read, "this newspaper made a study of this sort of clearance in relation to taxable valuations in the downtown area which are jeopardized as long as the problems of parking and traffic handling remain unsolved. Suppose such a clearance project were to cost the city $1,000,000 over a period of 10 or 20 years....Eugene can afford to be daring in planning the future of Eugene."

Two weeks later "Problems of Eugene's Growth" were considered in an editorial under that heading. The writer asked three questions:

  1. Are we "mining" our resources, especially our forests, faster than they can be replaced?
  2. Are we "mining" the new people who have come into the community to swell the volume of business which we do here?
  3. Are we planning to make this a BETTER city in spite of the fact it is "bigger?"

We view this growth with gratification, and some dismay. Time is pressing. Will this community be better as it grows

bigger? Will it be the best? We can make the answers.

Mr. Tugman offered, March 14, a full list of projects involved in the county's postwar plans. He mentioned, "at random," underground conduits for power and telephone line; sewage disposal; Amazon creek drainage; flood control dam; extensive parkway projects; super-highway construction; Ferry street bridge; short road to tidewater; tax and conservation program; new city charter; adequate school, public health, and hospital programs.

Four days later (March 18) there appeared an editorial urging specific projects to constitute a job stockpile for postwar days. This constructive article, listing projects some of which already have received the public's OK, follows:

The people of Lane county should have a stockpile of at least $5,000,000 in county, city, school district and special district projects ready for action when the 5,000 people now away in various forms of war service come home from war . . .

As New York's Commissioner Robert Moses has pointed out, nobody knows how far federal relief will be available or how fast it will be available. Uncle Sam is fighting a war. It is going to take him some time to get reorganized after the war. The burden of having projects ready to go falls properly on the home communities in the first year or two.

How much need there is for intelligent PLANNING NOW may be seen from the random table of projects on which a little preliminary work has been done (although not one of them is ready for final action):

New Eugene High School .. $ 500,000.00
Amazon Drainage (district) 75,000.00
Sewage disposal, Eugene 150,000.00
Swimming pool, Eugene 50,000.00
Ferry street bridge, county -150,000.00
City county building -500,000.00
County roads, bridges (extra) -200,000.00
TOTAL - $1,625,000.00

.....

A special 2-mill county levy would accumulate close to $100,000 a year, $500,000 in high school site. A 5-mill city levy would accumulate close to $70,000 a year or $350,000 in five years and a similar school levy would raise slightly more than that amount. But, as old debt is paid off even these seemingly heavy levies would be less than requirements for debt, and cash raised and ear-marked for well planned projects would save taxes on future debt, because borrowing and borrowing and bonding could be held to a minimum and kept on short term serial basis.

These are purely introductory calculations. There should be a great deal of very careful planning and close figuring before definite proposals are put to vote. What we want to emphasize is that it is time to get to work on these problems—NOW!

Following up these earlier articles there appeared April 12 an editorial on the local stockpile of improvements calling for $590,000 a year for Lane County projects. The point was made that this expenditure constituted, in addition to other advantages, a home front against inflation. "We do not expect every body to agree either on projects suggested or on the financing proposed," Mr. Tugman concluded, "but we ask for argument, intelligent thought on this program. We say this is something we can do for ourselves and for the country in the war against inflation and for 5,000 veterans who will return expecting honest work."

Only a few days later the postwar planning campaign took the direction of an editorial arguing for adequate sanitation. The editor contended for: 1) the end of haphazard sewage; 2) cleaning up of the water supply sources in the county (a MUST); 3) stamping out of mosquito swamps and disease breeding places.

"There is nothing visionary or impractical about public sanitation," Mr. Tugman wrote. "There is nothing which can knock business for a loop or destroy property values so rapidly as an 'epidemic.' The time to 'get scared' about this problem is now."

Then (April 27) there came an editorial entitled "Problem of Fire Protection," in which the editor repeated an earlier suggestion, that 1) experienced firemen be paid a scale necessary to keep together a well-trained, well-balanced organization, and that 2) these firemen be supplemented with OCD fire reserves, specially selected and trained.

Another fire-protection editorial, eight days later, headed "Blunder on Forest Funds," complained of the abolition of $6,500,000 in funds for emergency forest fire protection. County roads came in for some attention at that time. An editorial May 12 was entitled "Road Laws Need Fixing." This editorial pleaded for the unscrambling of the tangle in the application and distribution of levies for county road purposes. "We have a mess of old laws which have been amended and amended," said the editorial, "so that . . . nothing is clear. No use to get 'het up,' but we do need some sensible approach to the real problem-what's fair?"

And the next day a front-page news story that "Budgeteers Eye Road Tax Mixup." The article described the county budget committee's discussion of the "tangled situation as it affects the cities of Eugene, Cottage Grove, and Springfield."

After two front-page news items, one speaking of the optimism of the state committee on the postwar era in Oregon and the other telling of the appointment of public-spirited Fred G. Stickels as head of a community council to organize plans for postwar construction, and after an editorial urging early construction of the municipal swimming pool and suggesting that the "toughest chore" on this job would be "to get those priorities loosed from Washington, D.C., despite the tentative promises," came an editorial (May 18) on the text "Plan the Future with Cash." Here it is:

In the last 20 years, the taxpayers of the city of Eugene, the Eugene school district, and the general taxpayers of Lane county (not counting smaller cities and school districts) have paid out nearly $2,000,000 for interest on general bonds.

Our computations are not complete, but it is safe to say that if the interest paid by all school districts, cities and other sub divisions were added in the total would come more than half way to the $5,000,000 now proposed for that "Stockpile of Post-war Jobs and Projects."

Here are some of the preliminary computations:

Lane county (on $1,743,000 in road bonds since 1921) ... 940,825.00
Eugene school district (on bonds only since 1921) ... 317,103.75
City of Eugene (just since 1929 on general bonds only) ... 671,955.70
TOTAL ... 1,929,882.64

.....

Thanks to frugal management these last years, our city, county, and school district are nearly debt free, and this community is one of the few in the United States which will be able to face post-war needs without new debt headaches.

Some day, if we ever get around to such useless things as "monuments" we owe some to those "penny pinchers" who held down spending till debts were cleaned up.

This editorial was followed two days later with an editorial arguing for congressional permission to responsible lumber operators to set up substantial reserves for reforestation and replenishment after the war.

One of the most obviously concrete proposals for postwar planning was the "homecoming home" project editorial, which with that phrase as a headline urged veterans to lay away some wartime earnings for a peacetime home. The editorial, published June 9, 1943, follows:

One of the best proposals for post-war planning in private industry comes under the attractive title of "The Homecoming Home"-a movement which seeks to interest thousands of people in "earmarking" some portion of their wartime earnings to invest in a new home to be built when workmen and materials are released at the end of the war.

The originator of this interesting project is W. C. Bell, managing director of the Western Retail Lumbermen's Association, and though it may be said that his interest is not entirely unselfish, the plan is very sound. It is a variation of the old "Christmas Savings Clubs":

  1. You open a "Homecoming Home" savings account-in addition to your War Bond purchases, or
  2. You buy additional War Bonds which would "earmark" as deposit for the purchase of your future home.
  3. On top of the "payroll savings" and other wartime "contributions", you pinch down a little tighter on family spending and lay up down payment on a home.

Just to illustrate the need of such a program, it was called to our attention the other day that in spite of the recently completed Victory Loan drive in Lane county, deposits in Eu gene banks have climbed right back to a figure close to $30, 000,000. All over the United States, in spite of War Bond sales, in spite of taxes, deposits continue to grow-because nearly everybody is earning income, because consumer goods are scarce or rationed. It is this "excess spending power" in every community which is pressuring for inflation.

For a long time, we have argued that one way to draw off some of this "excess spending power" is to provide some "incentive plan." Henry Kaiser and many others have contended that people should be urged to save now for things they can't buy now which they are going to need badly at the end of the war. The Treasury has consistently frowned on such a program under government auspices lest it interfere with the sale of relatively long-term war bonds-and this is wise, because at least 10 per cent of every family income should be in War Bonds.

But, with the excess growing, we believe such programs as "Homecoming Homes" can be encouraged without detriment to War bond buying. The plan is worth serious study in this community.

Now that the "hard likker" ration has been cut to a pint a week, there may be considerable cash which can be diverted to future homes-and the post-war employment of thousands of men.

The helpful psychological effect of postwar projects on returning veterans was the topic of an editorial published June 13. Herein it was pointed out that the veteran would have a "terrific readjustment to make." He would be greatly helped by the right kind of planning for his interests in the postwar period by those at home.

The spirit of all these editorials, which ran at short intervals throughout the year—and still are running, for that matter—is perhaps most accurately expressed in the headline of a half column editorial published July 19: "Plans vs. Hunches."

Editorials on the topics noted and in the tone already indicated ran through the year.

As time aggravated the Eugene housing situation, more and more news articles and editorials were devoted to that subject. "Are the children monsters?" was the question raised in one editorial (September 5) aimed at a certain type of landlord. Roads, health, housing, planning, city manager, music, were the subjects of one editorial after another through the year, with a full quota of big news stories to keep the reader informed while the editorials assisted his interpretation and inspired him to intelligent action.

Individual responsibility as well as public measures of care and prevention ran through many editorials during the year on the topic of public health in the Register-Guard's territory. "Take it Easy-in Time" was one heading, with advice to "keep calm and live sensibly." (Dec. 27).

A few weeks earlier (Sept. 19) the paper had said in an editorial headed "Health a Wartime Duty," "There is much we do not know about some of these diseases after they happen. We do know that most of them can be prevented by plain cleanliness and common sense." And on "Public Policy and Polio" Mr. Tugman's editorial said (October 17):

We know of no better defensive measures than to preach constantly:

  1. Mind your own children's health and keep them constantly built up with good food and plenty of sleep to resist ALL diseases.
  2. Have a competent medical man advise constantly on the condition of your kids and don't throw those school health reports into the wastebasket.
  3. Avoid all dirt and flies.

Through the latter half of 1943 the paper ran occasional editorials and news articles to stir up interest in the city-manager question. These were of value to the readers as food for thought and discussion whether they had popularized the editor's promanager views or not. As the time for a vote on this issue in the city approached in 1944 intensified attention was given to it in the paper.

On the next to the last day of the year the paper took up editorially the question of Eugene as a wholesome "liberty town" for soldiers from nearby Camp Adair. Under the head of "Soldiers and Moral Problems" the editor said:

We think that a great deal of good has come out of the "smoking out." Step by step her [the reporter's] stories have dragged out the real facts in something like the proper proportions. Eugene is not nearly so bad as the Adair officer's carelessly-worded statement to Mayor Large might indicate. Neither is it so good that we can afford to be smug.

On our end we need:

  1. Prompt exchange of information between Adair and civil authorities on all cases.
  2. More intensive policing of the entire Eugene-Springfield area and in this city, state and county officers must work together.
  3. Better controls on juveniles, and the proposed $20 fine on parents whose kids violate curfew seems good.
  4. Cooperation of schools, churches and every other agency to develop a recreation program which is healthy and sound.

There is no better community, anywhere, than this one, nor is there one with a finer and more generous attitude toward men and women in service. Nor is there any community more interested in "its own" and after all, the health and decency of our own is the big end of our problem.

It is noticeable that Mr. Tugman seldom carries on more than one important editorial campaign at any one time. It has been his theory that the readers' attention may thus be divided, to the detriment of the campaign.

Through the years this editor has increased both the strength and the felicity of his writing style with a dash of homely, salty humor on occasion. Crisp comments by Ajax McGurk, mouth piece of many of Mr. Tugman's crackling quips, often condense an idea into a minimum of space, while giving it a flavor to delight the reader.

Readers have come to look for those homely philosophic editorials in which Adrian Fuddle and family, of Mortgage Ridge, describe or satirize various odd characteristics of the American way of life.

These are more or less in the form of a short story in miniature or a trimmed-down one-act play. The characters are fictional, but their resemblance to persons the readers know is by no means accidental.

With all the activity indicated by the large number of public activities he must keep track of and the amount of public work he must personally do, Mr. Tugman manages to save out some time for such groups as the Very Little Theatre, playing such parts as "The Drunkard" on occasion. He catches an occasional fish, hobnobs with a congenial group at Hart Mountain every year in normal times, reads a lot in addition to scanning the newspapers; and if one can find him at all, he manages to give the impression of having ample time to discuss whatever needs discussing. His photographic eye and phonographic ear for detail make him a good story-teller, and he enjoys the process! His multitude of contacts take up his time, but they do give him a lot to write about and they provide a corrective when he needs one for his point of view.

  1. Register and Guard consolidated in 1931.