As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 26, 2009

It’s tough to get into a word battle with someone “who buys ink by the barrel,” but I must comment on the Western World editor’s editorial about online “free speech.” She refers to “repeated comments that call for Bandon city manager Matt Winkel to be either fired or to step down because the PERSON commenting feels Winkel is not doing his job.”

Wow, it appears that the repeated comments are coming from the same person, and neither Matt nor the city council have any way of knowing who is making those hateful statements. It’s called “freedom of speech.”

But wait . . . there was an article this week that reported that a New York judge ordered Google to identify the name of a blogger that called model Liskula Cohen a “Skank.” The site was quickly taken down when Cohen threatened to take legal action, but Google refused to hand over the blogger’s identity, unless ordered to do so by a court. And guess what, that is exactly what happened.

I personally am just about willing to put up the money to go to court, and with precedence on my side, force the Western World to reveal the name of this person who is apparently making “repeated comments” against Matt. It is obvious that if someone thinks Matt should be fired, they don’t know him very well or about the tremendous job he has done for the City of Bandon. If we knew who was posting these hateful blogs, we would probably better understand their motive. But by hiding behind the skirts of the webmaster, we won’t know, unless they are required to release the name by a court order.

The whole “freedom of speech issue” took on new meaning when The Washington Post Columnist E. J. Dionne’s column (Register-Guard Aug. 22) contained an interesting cartoon, which showed a bunch of radicals at a town hall meeting, with posters saying “death to Obama,” “Kill socialist health care, “death . . .” and the front man screaming “What part of FREEDOM of speech don’t you understand,” at the woman trying to conduct the health care town hall meeting.

That’s how I feel about hate-radio, unsigned attack blogs and the general disintegration of civility in this country.

Someone has to take the lead in stepping in … and it might as well start at the hometown newspaper. But that’s my view.

*          *          *

Locals who are sharing the highway with tourists at this time of the year need to be extra cautious at the stop light on Highway 101 at Fillmore Avenue. In the past week, I’ve seen several vehicles (including a logging truck) blow through the red light. And I’m not talking yellow light; I’m talking red. So if you’re pulling out from either side of Fillmore you want to pretend like there’s no light there. Make sure no one is coming from either direction that looks like they’re not going to stop before you proceed into the intersection … because they’re probably not going to. I predict that if people don’t start heeding that stop light, there is going to be a bad crash there. But I guess that’s hard to do when you’re coming up on it at 55 or 60 miles an hour (in a 30-mile zone). So, even if you’re in the right, don’t chance it. Let the idiots have their way … and avoid a crash.

*          *          *

I can see how people might get scammed on the Internet, or even on the telephone, into thinking that their bank . . . their credit card company, etc., is seeking information about their account. But the story about a couple who paid someone $3,000 to “cleanse their bad spirits” is about the stupidest thing I’ve read lately. (Well, not really, but it’s right up there).

Now they want their money back. I’m not sure on what grounds because if they were trusting enough to pay someone $3,000 to cleanse their spirits, how do they know that it didn’t work.

There are so many ways out there to part people from their money … and each one seems more outlandish than the last.

And yet, merchants across the country are finding that customers are holding onto their money more and more.

Scams are up and legitimate spending is down.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

*          *          *

The accident several weeks ago up the coast that took the lives of four recent high school graduates from Ridgefield, Wash., was an extremely sad story. It happened in the mid-day and alcohol wasn’t a factor, but my guess was it had more to do with inexperience, and the fact that three carloads of young people were traveling together for a weekend in the sun.

Apparently the second car passed another vehicle, and probably not wanting to lose sight of their friends, the third car, driven by a 17-year-old girl, also moved out to pass, but there wasn’t enough room, and as she tried to pull back in, she wrecked. One boy survived, but he was in critical condition the last I read.

It’s dangerous enough to have large groups of teenagers in one vehicle (that’s why there’s a law that says 16-year-olds can’t have their peers in the vehicle) but when they are traveling in a group, it’s a lot more dangerous.

I know because one time I had to follow another car and I had absolutely no idea where we were going. I didn’t know the address or how to get there. And he went through a yellow light, leaving me stranded. I had already taken a few chances to keep up with him in city traffic, but that was more than I was willing to do. Thankfully, he stopped and waited for me, but I decided I would not do that again. It’s simply too dangerous.

You pretty much throw caution to the wind when you’re trying to keep up with someone.

I know kids love to have “fun” in their vehicles, but they should never forget that it is not a toy – it’s a lethal weapon.

And one single mistake can mean their life or the life of someone else.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 19, 2009

I am actually happy that the Myrtle Point Herald, where I work as editor, isn’t online.

Well, that’s not quite true. But I am proud of the length we go to provide accurate news and to print signed, verified letters that we try to make sure are true … to the best of our ability.

Because of the laws of libel, we would never knowingly print something that libeled or slandered someone, even if the letter writer were more than willing to sign his or her name, because the paper is equally as responsible.

I love to read the Western World … but I always pick it up on the newsstand, and I don’t go to the Internet to read it online.

That’s where the problem lies. For a corporation that is so careful never to run unsigned letters, I can’t for the life of me understand why they would print such terrible comments about people in the community on their blog, without requiring that the writers sign their names or identify themselves in some way. A case in point was a couple of particularly nasty blogs about our city manager (who, I think is about the best one this city has ever had). Someone printed them out and gave them to him, and we tried to figure out who wrote them. That is self-destructive at best. It would probably turn out that both of the people we felt might have written them . . . didn’t. In fact, a friend said she didn’t think it was either of the ones we came up with, but the suspicion has been cast. I don’t mind people having their opinion, but why they would not have the courage to sign their names is beyond me. I don’t believe I have ever written anything for print without identifying myself. It helps keep me from going overboard … when sometimes I might want to.

I understand that there are many blog sites on the Internet, and people usually use a “pen name” of one sort or another. That’s pretty much the accepted practice, although in many cases (take the health care issue, for example), I think unsigned, hate-filled rhetoric accomplishes very little. And the reader never knows who, or whose money (make that insurance companies), is behind those unsigned blogs.

I’ve asked my good friend, Amy Moss Strong, the editor of Western World, why Lee Enterprises, the owner of the paper, allows such postings, with no regard for truth or who they hurt, without making them sign their name.

I don’t think she is particularly comfortable with them either, and she promised that she would talk to her boss about it.

And I hope she does.

I keep thinking about an editorial written by Robert Jump, editor of Coquille Community News (a very good online newspaper), who, like me, has been in the business for a long time.

He said: “We’ve gotten a ‘bad rep’ and with Internet communications being what they are, the news industry seems to have thrown accuracy into the wind in favor of politics and ‘clicks.’ Many newspapers featuring online editions also feature blog sections where visitors may comment regarding a story or issue. The result thus far has been a free for all where hearsay, innuendo and supposition reign supreme, and little if any value can be placed upon the information presented or the topics being discussed.”

I, for one, am glad I was trained in the “old school.”

*          *          *

Several months ago, it was announced that planning had begun on a proposed $20 million destination resort featuring a world class golf course next to the ocean in Pistol River (between Gold Beach and Brookings).

Plans for the Pistol River Golf Club project were unveiled in May by the Crook family (who have lived in Curry County since the late 1800s) and Brookings developer Leroy Blodgett (former Brookings city manager).

An article in the Curry Coastal Pilot said: “Although the 200-acre resort would rival Bandon Dunes it would be aimed at a clientele different from the business groups that travel to Bandon for two or three days of golf and meetings.”

I’m not sure how the writer determined that golfers are here for meetings; that might occur once in a while, but it is definitely not the norm. They’re here for golf and to have fun.

Blodgett said this would be more of a “getaway kind of thing” with families staying at cabins at the resort for four or five days. “Maybe they’d play golf. Maybe not. It’s a beautiful area.”

Although the resort would have an 18-hole, top-rate golf course, designed by Denver-based Dye Designs, their “target market is to have a reasonable greens fee,” said Blodgett.

He said while the Bandon Dunes greens fee is about $240, they were looking at a fee of $115, which would include a golf cart.

This is the second time in the past couple of years that well-known area families have announced plans to build a golf course in Curry County. It will be interesting to see if this one gets off the ground.

*          *          *

I know how offended I was by the Ally Bank commercials, featuring youngsters being humiliated, disappointed and made fun of. But when I saw those very commercials discussed in the business section of USA Today, I knew I wasn’t the only one who had noticed them.

My friend Susan Coraor, who owns property here but lives in Pennsylvania, wrote to the company, like I did, to say that she found the commercials distasteful. I will have to admit my e-mail was a bit stronger, which may be why she got an answer from the bank … and I didn’t.

The bank thought that Susan was concerned about the children who appear in the ads, saying “I can assure you that the children were treated fairly and had fun on the set.”

To say that they are clueless is an understatement. Of course, those children were being treated fairly (and probably well financially), but it was the message they were sending to those of us forced to watch them that was offensive.

If that is their way of trying to “revolutionize the banking industry,” (their words, not mine), I don’t think they will last long.

*          *          *

Flower gardening has taken on a new meaning for me as I lovingly tend my “highway flower garden” night after night . . . and day after day, watering, weeding and dead-heading.

That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed last weekend’s flower show, sponsored by the Port of Bandon to honor well-known gardener Mary Smith. Many of the areas top gardeners brought beautiful bouquets and displays for the show. It was a real treat.

We old-timers remember the flower shows that Mary put on, at The Barn, for many years. She admits she’s getting “up in age” and isn’t able to garden like she used to, but there is no doubt that she will always be our “master gardener.”

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 12, 2009

Coos Curry Electric Cooperative has sent out several press releases in recent weeks about their impending rate increase. And since Bandon area residents are served by three utilities, including CCEC, their customers definitely need to know that a sizeable increase is coming.

It appears that the first part of the predicted 15 percent increase will go into effect in October, with the remainder to be added to the bill in the spring. Thus far, the good news for City of Bandon customers is that we aren’t planning to pass any of the wholesale rate increase onto our customers.

*          *          *

There is apparently a new bank, known as Ally Bank, which is looking for customers. I am sure that if you watch TV, you have seen some of their cruel, heartless commercials. They apparently find great humor in making fun of little children. I personally think they are just about the worst commercials I can remember in a long time. Most of us hate violence in commercials, but usually it’s so exaggerated that it’s not believable.

But those Ally Bank spots, which pit one little child against another, are awful. In one, some man (the banker, I presume) asks two girls if they want a pony; he then gives one little girl a miniature and the other a real pony. In another a little girl has a shiny new bike, and when she goes to ride it, she is informed by the man that she has to ride in the confines of a two-foot triangle.

I was so incensed after watching a couple of their ads on The Golf Channel this week that I took the time to contact them. I told them that if they are truly interested in gaining new customers, they might rethink their advertising campaign.

They need to find out who writes the Traveler’s Insurance commercials . . . and hire them.

*          *          *

I recently received a question about “private beach access” and what that really means in the state of Oregon. The answer, of course, is that if a person owns the property all the way to the beach, they can restrict access through their property. It they don’t and if there is a right-of-way or some kind of public easement between their property and the beach, it allows public access.

That is unless access is restricted by the City (as is the case in some areas on the South Jetty) to protect the foredune.

So, yes, just because our beaches are public, it does not mean that people have to grant access through their private property. That’s why Oregon has so many parks and waysides, which provide access to the beach.

*          *          *

For years I’ve wanted to spend a few days at Steamboat Inn on the Umpqua River near Glide. And for my 70th birthday (Aug. 5), my boyfriend decided that he would take me there … the weekend after my birthday. But as “luck” would have it, his work schedule changed, and he had to cancel our three-night reservations.

And when I say “luck,” I couldn’t have picked a better word.

Not only would we have suffered through unbearable heat, but the resort experienced a voluntary evacuation around the time we were scheduled to be there because of the dense smoke from the 3,000-acre Williams Creek Fire. A 10-mile section of Highway 138, leading to the resort, was also closed for several days.

I feel sorry for those who did have reservations … and kept them.

*          *          *

I don’t spend a lot of time going through my old report cards, but while looking for the documents I needed to renew my driver’s license, I stopped to look over a few of my old “Elementary Pupil Growth Reports” from third grade. I guess that was the politically correct term (back in 1948) for report card. Who knows?

But it was what my teacher, Madge Shull, said, that definitely got my attention . . . 61 years later. “Mary retains her place in the superior group in all subjects.” Wow, that’s great, I thought. Uh oh (but) . . . “Writing is her weakest one. It is our aim that all work including workbooks reflect neat, careful writing.” To interpret that, I am guessing that my writing was sloppy, incoherent and not very good.

However, now that I think about it, my guess is third-grade writing did not mean content, grammar, spelling and flowing sentences. It simply meant that my penmanship wasn’t all that good.

At least that’s the way I prefer to interpret it.

*          *          *

I have never grown vegetables, but this year I decided to buy a couple of tomato plants to put on our recently glassed-in front porch. I was sure that by this time I would have vines dripping with small tomatoes because I was careful to give them adequate Miracle Grow and as much water as they could handle.

After nearly two months, I have at least six feet of growth on both plants, but I can count the tomatoes on one hand. And that might be an exaggeration.

I realized just what a failure I was this week when I purchased a good sized package of homegrown tomatoes from Lachlan Miller . . . for $1. They were sweet and wonderful, and made me realize that I would be wise to stick to growing flowers … and leave the vegetables to those with a lot more knowledge than I have.

If my food source depended on my garden expertise, it is clear that I would starve to death.

Thank heaven, we still have the wonderful Little Farmers Market where we non-growers can still buy great, fresh produce – grown by someone else.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 05, 2009

For years, I’ve been wondering who might buy the ugly rundown house, filled with junk, which sat along the highway across from the First Baptist Church and just down from the former Crazy Craig’s car lot. It was in pretty bad shape, and had been that way for years. I can’t remember when anyone actually lived in the house, but there was plenty of stuff being stored in it.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that someone had purchased it and was planning to fix it up.

That was, until they finished painting it – a vivid hot pink.

To say that it’s noticeable is an understatement; I am sure that is all visitors see as they enter town from the north.

I saw by the short-lived sign (in the equally as bright green frame) that it is a commercial building for lease.

I can’t imagine what kind of a business will want to locate in a hot pink building . . . can you?

But as they say: “Different strokes for different folks.”

*          *          *

I’ve had a number of questions lately about Bi-Mart. Are they still planning to come to Bandon and if so, when?

I received this question several weeks ago: “The rumor was that a few local business owners went to the city council and complained that it would destroy their business. Did opposition kill the project? Did city requirements kill it or what?”

First of all, as far as I can tell, neither is correct. The city had several meetings with Bi-Mart officials, and they seemed genuinely interested in locating here; then the bottom fell out of the market.

Some people, of course, felt that the area south of town near the entrance to Seabird Drive was not a good location, but many people I’ve talked to were (and are) looking forward to them locating in Bandon.

City Manager Matt Winkel said the city approved their lot partition, but Bi-Mart has not submitted their construction plans for City review. “The last time I talked to them, they indicated that they were still interested in building in Bandon, but weren’t sure when they would do so,” Winkel said.

It’s important to remember that some years ago they had announced plans to build in Coquille, and it was four or five years before city officials learned that they really weren’t coming.

But so far, we haven’t heard anything like that.
*          *          *

People have heard me pontificate about crows in the past couple of years, especially since the large old cedar trees on our property seem to provide a special roosting place for them. But there’s one thing I dislike way more than crows and that is garbage being strewn around town.

While eating recently at the new Mexican restaurant in uptown, I noticed piles of half eaten food lying alongside a pickup, and then I saw the culprits: crows. They had discovered a sack in the back of someone’s pickup and had torn it open, picked out what they wanted and deposited the rest of it on the pavement. (I will say that I didn’t leave it there).

And others at the restaurant said that is a common occurrence. Crows are well known for ripping open people’s garbage sacks, particularly if they are visible and not in an enclosed garbage can.

Maybe I owe the garbage company an apology. It appears there is more garbage being spread by our black feathered friends than by careless garbage haulers.

At any rate, people can do their part by not leaving food anywhere that the crows can find it, and don’t assume that because it’s safely tied up in a black garbage bag, that they won’t find it.

That’s their signal that people are hiding something tasty . . . .

*          *          *

Last week’s heat wave definitely proved beneficial for Bandon businesses as streams of people came here to escape the oppressive heat. I talked to a couple from Roseburg at church this morning, and they said the temperature got to 113 at their house. I can’t say I love the foggy days, but considering the alternative, I’ll take fog any day. And yes, like a lot of you, I was in Myrtle Point Tuesday (the opening day of the Coos County Fair) when it reached nearly 100. I was working in a big old cement building, with no windows in my office, making it pretty hard to breathe. I didn’t go down to the fairgrounds, but I understand it was beastly hot, and unfortunately it was “Senior Citizen Day.”

We need to remember that we are approaching the time of year when we have our most wonderful weather: the Indian summer of September and October.

And if you’re wondering what to do, you might rent one of Mike Sterling’s bright yellow kayaks at the Bandon dock. He has singles and doubles, and this is the perfect time to paddle around in the bay or out in the river. He can be reached at 404-6566.

*          *          *

I attended the Free Flight benefit last Thursday night at the Sprague Theater. It was fun and everyone really seemed to enjoy the great talent and a chance to bid on some high class silent auction items.

I purchased six photo cards by Tatiana Havill, who I must say is not only a wonderful dancer, but she is also quite an accomplished photographer. Tatiana and her mother, the very talented artist Vicki Affatati, helped organize the benefit and Tatiana and Emma Fisher served as the MCs. Emma’s mom, Corrie Gant, demonstrated her talent with a humorous story, and her brother Brendan Fisher, who is becoming quite a chef (and works weekends at The Old Golf Links), performed a comedy number with Damon Iida. Others performing were Hayley Moore, Mary Lane, and Candace Kreitlow (who sang Moondance with Vicki Affatati and also performed with young Hope Hay.) The band Crazy Fish (Jeff Eikamp, Rachel Reddick, Jason Duval and Jack Fraser) opened the show. Also introduced was Free Flight’s beautiful new web site

We have a lot of talented and caring people in our community, and it was announced that the evening earned over $2,000 for Free Flight.

previous columns by mary schamehorn