Politics makes for strange bedfellows—and equally odd splits.
This year? The editorial boards of Pamplin Media's newspapers find themselves on opposite sides of the same issue.
The Portland Tribune opined against Metro's $653 million affordable housing bond; the Forest Grove News-Times endorsed it.
Neither editorial takes a strong position on Measure 26-199.
"Some of our own sister newspapers within Pamplin Media Group have come out against Measure 26-199 for one reason or another," reads the News-Times endorsement. "There is a lot of uncertainty, more than we'd like, about the efficacy of this measure, and it's true that some households can more easily shoulder a bump in their property taxes than others.
"But we hope you'll join us in voting 'yes'—because it's time to stop collectively wringing our hands about the lack of affordable housing in Washington County and do something about it," the endorsement continued.
The Portland Tribune voiced a similarly tepid opinion, but against the bond measure.
"We agree that lack of available affordable housing is a regional issue, but we're not convinced that turning Metro into a regional affordable housing czar—providing funds and setting standards—is the solution," reads the Trib's statement of opposition.
Yet the endorsements are a reversal of where voter support is expected to be strong. Portland voters are expected to support the bond—as they supported a city housing bond in 2016. Washington County support is less certain, and an editorial board supporting the measure might help.
John Schrag, executive editor of Pamplin Media Group, says the Pamplin papers are asked to run the same editorial for statewide candidates and measures, but on local matters are given wide latitude. The Metro housing bond measure is a local campaign, but one that covers multiple jurisdictions.
"I don't think it's breaking any precedent," he says. "It's an unusual set of circumstances."