Jack Pollock
After several high-profile shake-downs of Asian travelers at the hands of INS officials, this week Delta Airlines announced--really, to no one's surprise--that, next April, they will cancel their international flights into Portland. Gee, thanks a hill of beans, INS. Thanks for upholding our state's reputation and looking after our interests. The cancellation of flights will cost the state upwards of $1 billion annually.

The underlying issue, though, is not the economic cost, but the fact that the federal government has, once again, run roughshod over the interests of our state. A varied chorus of state politicians--from Democrat to Republican, from Mayor Vera Katz to Governor John Kitzhaber--have complained to the Department of Justice and Janet Reno, who oversee the local chapter of the INS. Precisely, they demanded that the local director, David Beebe, be booted from office and, ultimately, run out of town. Beebe, the state politicians have complained, has run the INS like a gang of thugs and bullies.

But, so far--really, to no one's surprise--the federal government hasn't budged. Beebe remains in office. Meanwhile, our state's economy is being slammed. Yes, Beebe and his Grinch-sized heart are the immediate issue; but, even once Beebe is gone, the larger problem will remain--namely, that the federal government simply doesn't heed the interests of our state. It is the same issue that environmentalist are wrestling with, as the US Forest Service swings its wild ax in places like Eagle Creek without a blink of concern for local watersheds.Don't get me wrong. I salute the flag and, come this year's Olympics, I'll get a big chubby when the band strikes up "Star Spangled Banner." And, ever since third grade civics class, I have understood that we live in a two-tier federalist structure of government, where, in essence, we answer to both state and federal representatives. But this type of government only works as long as the two co-exist peacefully, scratch each other's backs, and c-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-e.

Not changing the direction and poli-cies of the local INS is like keeping a child in a house with a known bully, against that child's protests. Write Janet Reno; write your US Senator. Yell, scream, kick, and shout loud enough so that they hear you all the way in D.C. $1 billion is a lot to lose just because of one asswipe.