As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
May 27, 2009
We, in city government, have been “beaten up” pretty badly by locals over some of the developments that have emerged along the Beach Loop in recent years. Actually, it was really only one that so many people are concerned about, and first of all I have to say that no one was more shocked by how it ended up than I.
But what’s done is done, and the only way to avoid another colossal mistake like the Colony is with increased restrictions. And that’s what we’re doing.
I recently received a question from someone who feared that the west side of Beach Loop/Ocean Drive would soon resemble Malibu, Calif., ‑ with the only remaining views coming from the waysides.
Having been born here, I am painfully aware of what’s happened, and realize that long ago we should have done a better job of planning. We should have restricted dwellings on the west side of the road to one story; to two-story immediately across the street and to three-stories for the back lots. But we didn’t.
Hindsight is great; where would we be without it? But it’s never too late to do something and that is why the Planning Commission is reviewing and amending the regulations related to building heights, setbacks, separation and density to ensure that there is adequate open space and that view corridors are protected.
* * *
The fact that Bandon didn’t rehire two police officers after two of our officers resigned to go to work for the Sheriff’s office became BIG news. I expected it to make Western World and The World. But the Eugene Register-Guard . . . and USA Today. That seemed a bit over the top to me.
But it was the Guard’s article that put me into a tailspin. I’m sure most people who read the short article in the Northwest column of the Guard’s City/Region section didn’t bother to do the math. But I did.
The article attributed the information to the Coos Bay World, but the mistakes that the Guard made definitely weren’t in the World’s article.
It said that “police and fire spending is 62 percent of the recommended budget of $19.8 million, down 11 percent from the previous year.” That would mean that the budget for police and fire protection would be over $12 million a year (and we don’t even have our own fire department. We contract with the Bandon Rural Fire Protection District). Most cities could run on that amount.
What the article should have said was that the amount for police and fire is 62 percent of the non-mandated portion of the general fund budget – or less than a million dollars. There is a huge difference between the general fund and the entire budget (especially since we have our own hydro-electric department, which most cities do not have.) I called the R-G’s news department minutes after reading it, told them who I was and what it should have said.
Apparently they didn’t take my word for it because before they printed the correction the next day they called the city manager “just to make sure that I knew what I was talking about.”
He confirmed that I was right ‑ and they put in a small correction the next day.
* * *
I was “comforted” to learn that the state legislature had designated Jory soil (whatever that is) as the state soil. That was right up there with the full pint of beer that is now being legislated . . . and not far behind the law that will allow an officer to cite someone who throws a cigarette butt on the sidewalk.
I actually agree with the latter, but I simply cannot see many police departments across the state having the manpower to write a citation for every person who throws a butt onto the street.
What the legislature had better be addressing is the fact that Oregon now has the second highest unemployment rate in the country – and it doesn’t appear to be getting much better.
This simply isn’t the time to waste legislative time or dollars on inconsequential, silly legislation that has absolutely no chance of being enforced.
If they are going to adjourn in June – which I understand they are – they’d better be getting to work on the kind of legislation that will truly help move Oregon forward … and forget about soil, cigs and pints.
* * *
I didn’t realize it was a “nationwide” problem until I read that federal regulators are close to filing lawsuits against companies behind the recent epidemic of “robo-calls” that warn people that their auto warranties are about to expire.
I can’t count the number of those calls I have received here at home (where I am on the Do Not Call list) or at work in Myrtle Point.
I know my mother is constantly bothered by these callers along with a whole group of people asking for money. It’s getting to the point where having a land line is more bothersome than it is convenient because you have no control over who disturbs you . . . or when they call.
But the “warranty” calls are so indiscriminate that they go to people who don’t even own an automobile.
Usually those kinds of scams don’t go on and on unless they are making money for someone. But for the life of me, I can’t believe that someone would send money after being contacted by a mechanical voice over the telephone in what is obviously a random call.
But someone must be falling for it, or they’d be on to a more lucrative scam.
* * *
I often wonder why people bother to register – if they aren’t going to take the time to vote. It’s true that a ballot, which principally elects people to boards and commissions, may not be as exciting as voting for President, but it’s important nonetheless.
And for only a little more than 25 percent of the people in Coos County (and other parts of the state, as well) to vote is pretty appalling. That means that three quarters of the registered voters didn’t care enough to send in their ballot.
Although I personally do not care for “vote by mail,” it couldn’t be much easier than marking your ballot, putting a stamp on it and putting it in the mail.
But apparently it was too hard for most people – because they simply didn’t bother to vote.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
May 20, 2009
I usually try to talk about some of the community activities that have taken place in the past week . . . but unfortunately I missed out on everything because I came down with a horrible cold and decided, for the most part, to avoid any kind of gathering place. With all the hype about the swine flu, I could just see people diving under the seats when I brought out the Kleenex box, and felt it just wasn’t worth it. I started coming down with it last Monday and am still attached at the hip to the Kleenex box and bottle of hand sanitizer, but I am sure it will soon run its course.
The thing I hated most to miss was MarLo Dance Studio’s program. My mother just got back from one of the Sunday afternoon performances and said it was absolutely wonderful. I’m just sorry it wasn’t running for two weeks as I definitely did not want to miss it.
But common sense told me no one wanted to be exposed to my “bug,” so I stayed home.
* * *
I’ve been reading about another example of Big Brother looking out for us . . . or in this case, the state legislature in Salem. Our legislators seem to know what’s best for all of us, and can always manage to come up with another new law.
A bill that just passed the Oregon House would require chain restaurants in Oregon to list the caloric information on menus, in plain view.
It boggles my mind to think that someone doesn’t know they’re eating way more calories then they need when they wolf down a giant Big Mac, with French fries, an oversized soft drink and dessert.
And no amount of calorie information is going to change that.
All it does is mean that it will cost more for restaurants to provide that information, and pass the cost down to you and me . . . well, maybe to you, because I won’t be eating a Big Mac anytime soon.
* * *
I have been having so much fun lately reading the front pages of newspapers (more than 500 in all) around the world on the newseum web site that it’s harder and harder for me to go to bed at night. There’s always another newspaper to read.
While looking at UK papers to read more about the scandal facing the British Parliament, I came upon an interesting article in the Christchurch, New Zealand, paper about its former district health board chief information technology officer.
The breadth and scope of people’s greed never ceases to amaze me, but this one pretty much topped them all (not, of course, on the scale of Bernard Madoff), but for one guy, pretty much acting alone, Michael Swann managed to perpetrate the “largest corporate fraud case in New Zealand history.”
His multimillion-dollar ripoff of the health board is believed to have netted him personal benefits worth $15 million dollars.
And now, “sadly,” they’ve gone after his nine properties, 21 vehicles, including makes such as Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, and eight vessels, including two tugs and a 5-meter research vessel.
The government (Crown) is even going after his household goods . . . and those of his estranged wife. They are allowing her to use a $50,000 Land Cruiser until the car is sold and a more modest replacement can be found. It’s hard to believe she didn’t know where the money was coming from to live such a lavish lifestyle.
It appears they mean business and plan to recover as much as possible. But one has to wonder how an IT chief could steal that much money from the taxpayers before being caught.
He’s been jailed for nine and a half years for his part in the fraud.
But there’s still more than $8 million unaccounted for, so he may have a tidy sum waiting for him upon release from prison, unless the Crown finds it first.
* * *
The initial response by Benton County authorities about the burning of a five-foot cross in the yard of a woman and her 13-year-old adopted, African-American, son made me wonder what planet they’re living on. The family lives in Alsea, a tiny town not far from Corvallis.
The sheriff’s office initially said the cross burning would be classified as reckless burning because there weren’t any threats or other evidence of prejudice to support being a hate crime.
My God. I wonder what someone would have to do in Benton County to be arrested on a hate crime.
But by the time the news came out in the paper Sunday, it appears that when they find the person who did this, he (or she) may well be charged with a hate crime.
My guess is their phone “rang off the hook” when the announcement first came out, causing them to look up the meaning of “hate crime.”
Oops . . . I guess this would be a classic example.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
May 13, 2009
It never ceases to amaze me how a university, like the University of Oregon, deals (or should I say doesn’t deal) with critical alcohol problems, which plague many of its students.
Over the years there’s been a never-ending tale of alcohol-fueled fraternity parties, some of which have ended with students burning their own furniture in the street just for a little more impact. Hey, what’s wrong with a little bonfire to add warmth and atmosphere to a drunken brawl, which generally frustrates the police and serves to terrorize the neighborhood.
The latest are the problems caused on Lane Transit District’s late-night buses, which are designed to pick up drunken students after they’ve left the downtown bars. Apparently they feel it’s better to have them getting sick on the buses than trying to drive home. I guess I can’t argue with that.
This week a Eugene woman, in a letter to the Register-Guard, pointed out the obvious: instead of trying to address the problems of students throwing up on the late-night weekend buses, maybe someone should begin to address the real issue of rising youth alcoholism.
She points out that alcoholism causes drunken behavior and vandalism, and shatters lives, families and communities.
LTD’s answer was that people have been “pretty good using the garbage can (to get sick in),” but said it does create some problems for them cleaning up the bus and getting ready for the next day.
This is a pretty classic example of hiding your head in the sand.
They must need those fares pretty badly to put up with that type of behavior on a regular basis.
* * *
Hank Hickox waited until I was at work Tuesday to call and say they wanted me to come out to Bandon Dunes that day or the following day to be interviewed (as mayor) for a DVD, which will accompany the movie, “Golf In the Kingdom.” The month-long shooting for the movie was winding up, and they felt it would be good to have a local perspective of what the filming had meant to the community.
I told Hank it wouldn’t be possible for me to leave work either day, but he said the crew volunteered to do it at 6 that evening, if it would work for me. What could I say? I’ve never been particularly comfortable in front of a camera, and it threw me into a tizzy not knowing what I was supposed to say.
Hank was great. He calmed me down and gave me a lot of pointers about what the movie was all about and what it had meant to the Dunes and to our whole area. I hurried home from Myrtle Point, dashed into Western World, grabbed a copy of the paper with the big feature about the movie, boned up, changed my clothes and rushed out there (yes, with my seat belt firmly in place).
Fortunately, I was not alone. They’d also asked Julie Miller to join us, and we soon found out that they would be asking us questions in a one-on-one interview; we wouldn’t be “on our own” as I had at first envisioned.
All in all it was a pretty great experience, and I can’t wait to see the movie (and see if any of my remarks make it into the sidebar DVD).
But even if they don’t, this movie should really put our beautiful area on the map and was a nice boost for the shoulder season.
* * *
It sounds like it’s about to get a lot more expensive to own a car in Oregon. Obviously looking for ways to raise revenue, the legislature is considering increasing the gas tax by six cents a gallon, increasing registration fees to $86 (an increase of $30) and raising title fees by $25.
I don’t like it but at least it appears that they are trying to do something to address the obvious downturn in the economy.
It beats the new legislation that will force bartenders to pour an “honest” pint of beer. There was a whole segment on TV the other night about a bill that passed the House 34-26, which apparently will make it illegal to pour less than a pint of beer – when people are paying for a pint. I’m personally not a beer drinker, but I guess some bars use smaller or thicker glasses in an effort to save money.
It seems like a complete waste of time and money . . . if someone is actually expected to enforce this ridiculous law.
But these days, it seems there are a lot of them coming out of Salem.
I guess they don’t want to address the fact that Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and is facing far more critical problems than shorting a few sips of beer for someone – who probably doesn’t need it anyway.
* * *
I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when a dyed-in-the-wool liberal like my sister would agree with an arch-conservative like Chris Powell, but that’s what happened. Chris wrote an article in the Old Town Review, published by him and wife, Kim, commenting on the swine flu.
My sister Molly asked me who Chris was, because it’s simply titled “Chris’ Corner,” and not signed. I said to myself, “uh oh, here goes.”
But she said he was “right on” with his article about a Fort Dix private who became ill and died 33 years ago, with what was said to be the swine flu. This led the government to rush and try to get all 220 million Americans immunized against the flu. After 40 million were inoculated, some 500 people became paralyzed and countless others suffered from Guillian-Barre’ Syndrome.
Molly was teaching that year and she recalls that they tried (unsuccessfully) to force all the teachers to become inoculated.
And she definitely agreed with Chris’ comment about the “latest crisis” (perceived or real), and how government (and the media) tend to over-react.
* * *
There are a lot of things going on in Bandon this weekend, including the “Boardwalk to Beach Run” (a benefit for the Bandon Pacific Christian School), the Diabetes Walk and Arbor Day/A Day in the Park activities at Bandon City Park, and MarLo Dance Studio’s 10-year anniversary production, which will also be held Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
I’ll be reading the Arbor Day proclamation at 12:20 in the park, and I believe I am cutting the ribbon to start the Diabetes Walk at 10 a.m., so it should be a busy day.
That night is also the Myrtle Point Chamber’s Recognition Banquet . . . and the Herald, where I am editor, has been named the Chamber Business of the Year, so my boss pretty much expects me to attend.
But that’s what keeps life interesting.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
May 06, 2009
It’s what I’d expected all along. My fears were confirmed the other night when I talked to a couple from Bandon who’d followed the garbage truck out of town recently … and saw garbage flying out of the back of it. “My guess is that it was too full, but it was definitely strewing garbage along the highway north of town,” the man told me.
While I was telling my sister the next morning, while we were eating at Two Loons, another Bandon couple said that garbage spills out of cans in their area (Jackson Avenue) when it’s being dumped.
It’s obvious that automated equipment, with only one man on board, is simply not working. In the “good ole’ days” someone would empty the cans into the hopper, which was near the bottom of the truck. If something did happen to spill, which wasn’t very likely, the guy would pick it up. That apparently doesn’t occur today. I truly believe that one of the main garbage problems around town – and along the highway north of town ‑ comes from the way the garbage is now “picked up.”
I know that some people don’t have any trouble, especially if everything is tightly packed in a garbage bag, but even their garbage could be tossed out of the truck while it’s heading to Beaver Hill.
Automation is great – when it works.
* * *
Just in case people think we’ve given up on having the lighthouse repainted, we haven’t. A lady from our church, who lives in the Trout Pond area, said she’d been talking to a group of her neighbors out there, and they want to do whatever they can to help get the lighthouse repainted. I said they could start by writing letters.
More than a year ago, a friend of mine (who I think should remain anonymous) sent me a little ditty, which read: “Hummm … Let me see. Five gallons of white paint. Four paint rollers. Four people. Two hours of darkness. Equals a white Lighthouse. Of course, I have never been one to take action without all the permissions.” (But it seems he might be willing to if the lighthouse could be restored to its former grandeur.)
I know a lot of people feel the same way, but our best bet is just to continue to work through the “proper” channels … no matter how frustrating that seems to be.
* * *
I’ve received an invitation from the Ford Institute Leadership Program to be their guest at a luncheon Saturday, where they will talk about the project they’ve adopted, which is the Bandon Community Garden.
Unfortunately, like a lot of weekends, there are several things going on at the same time, and since Marge Kelley’s memorial service begins at 1 p.m. that same day, I won’t be able to join the leadership group for lunch, as it doesn’t start until 12:15.
The Leadership class is committed to helping the community garden by designing and building a shed for storing supplies and materials, designing and building a fence to surround the garden, and designing and building compost bins for clippings.
In the last few years, the Ford Leadership classes have undertaken some wonderful projects, including building a walking trail around the baseball field at Bandon Heights.
I’m just sorry that I already had a commitment, or I would have enjoyed having lunch with them and learning about their latest project to benefit the community.
* * *
An article in Sunday’s Register-Guard got my attention. It seems that a 52-year-old Salem man was cited twice in the same day in McMinnville for drunk driving (or best known as DUII). The first time he was picked up, the police released him to the custody of his grandmother (compute those ages, if you will) and impounded his vehicle. Well, guess what, grandmother couldn’t keep him from driving again (surprise, surprise) and someone else got his vehicle out of hock. A short time later he was picked up again in the same area where the first stop had occurred: in front of the state liquor store.
I wonder who would have been responsible if he had killed some innocent person after being released to the “custody” of his grandmother.
Certainly the officer would be guilty of using poor judgment . . . if not more.
The second time the guy was booked into jail on $6,250 bail – where he probably should have been the first time. I thought the intent was to get these drunks off our roads, not let “grandma” take the burden.
* * *
A friend of mine, who lives in Pennsylvania, recently sent me a link to the most fantastic web site … or at least for a newspaper “junkie” like me.
Go to www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash. You can double click on hundreds of sites around the country, and read the front page of their newspaper. I could have spent literally hours surfing from one paper to another, but I had to get my column written.
* * *
Since I am writing this on Sunday evening, I have no way of knowing if the grim weather prediction (of wind gusts up to 70 miles an hour) actually materialized. But after Saturday night’s KVAL weather forecast of 60 mile-an-hour winds for Monday, and weather.com updated it to 70, I spent two hours Sunday afternoon carrying lawn furniture and plants to safety, and trying to stake up my precious iris, which haven’t even had a chance to bloom. I’m sure there are very few flowers (and certainly the beautiful pink cherry blossoms will be gone) that will survive a 70-mile-an-hour wind. I am just praying that the forecasters were wrong . . . and that it missed us.
I spent a long time looking up at the huge cypress tree hanging precariously over the garage at our cottage, which houses my little black BMW, and thinking the worst …
and hoping for the best.
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