Have you noticed how often, when there is a political dispute – say over forest management or tax policy – both sides produce “expert witnesses” or “research” to support their political position. You can see this playing out today in Congress over the Affordable Care Act, global climate change and how best to address the growing threat of wildfire in the West. Here in Oregon, there are a number of contentious, politically charged issues exactly like that—from PERS to our corporate tax structure to managing state forests. These are issues we have been grappling with for a long time; issues that continue to divide us, in large part, because we allow “dueling political data” to get in the way of a long-term solution. I recently had the opportunity to make a presentation on this subject to the leadership and staff of ECONorthwest, the Pacific Northwest’s most respected economic consulting firm. ECONW generates independent, objective, high quality policy analysis that could prove the basis for a different kind on conversation around these difficult issues. As Aldous Huxley once wrote, ““Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Imagine an Oregon in which could start with a shared understanding of the facts involved and then, coming together on that small plot of common ground, build shared solutions these areas of conflict that have divided us for far too long.