As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 30, 2009

Not that it will do any good, but the Internal Revenue Service is about to get a lot of e-mails … from me. I read an article in the Sunday paper about the newest scam involving someone impersonating the IRS, who urges people to give them their personal information and then they will deposit another Stimulus check into their account.

But the good news came at the end; it seems that if you are getting unwanted e-mails from a scammer pretending to be the IRS (like maybe 20 a day), you can forward them to the IRS at their e-mail

And that’s what I’m doing. I received “only” four or five today – probably because it’s Sunday – but I sent several of them onto that e-mail. Most of them are directed at me, by name, but I noticed one I forwarded was to a totally different person.

I think that for the next few days I will forward every “IRS scam message” that I receive onto the IRS.

Maybe if everyone did that, they’d try harder to find out who is behind this latest scam.

*           *           *

Garry Trudeau, who writes the political cartoon Doonesbury, has a way of really nailing things, and a recent one about the lack of civility at town hall meetings was one of his best. The counselor at the vet center asks the veteran what he did during the summer, and the vet says he went to a town hall meeting. “It was pretty chaotic, but it wasn’t as bad as you heard in the media. The protestors were just regular folks taking a principled stand against government-run health care programs.” The counselor says: “you mean like vet centers?” The vet responds: “That’s different; the government doesn’t run this place you guys do.” The counselor asks what happened next. “Nothing, the meeting was called off when the congressman received a death threat.” “What. That’s an outrage,” responds the counselor. “I know! Democracy does NOT work if our leaders are cowards.”

That’s why I keep reading Doonesbury. His satire is second to none.

*           *           *

By now most of you have probably heard about the disposition of the murder case involving 19-year-old Brooke Wilberger, who was murdered by Joel Courtney, after he abducted her from a Corvallis apartment complex five years ago while she was visiting her sister during summer break from Brigham Young University. And this happened in broad daylight.

Her family has been praised and called the “epitome of class” for the way they have handled the tragedy. It wasn’t until last week, when Courtney agreed to reveal where he buried their daughter in exchange for escaping the death penalty, did they get any kind of closure.

Both Greg and Cammy Wilberger, Brooke’s parents, are graduates of Myrtle Point High School and both still have many relatives in Coos County.

It’s been a terrible struggle for this family but hopefully now they can begin to heal ‑ although that may be hard because the details of what happened to Brooke have now emerged.

And it’s a terrible story.

*           *           *

It doesn’t surprise me that Seattle residents rejected a 20-cent fee on plastic and paper bags, which would have been charged at grocery, drug and convenience stores. The ordinance, passed by the Seattle City Council, was scheduled to go into effect in January, but the Progressive Bag Affiliates, an arm of the American Chemistry Council, spent $1.4 million to overturn the ordinance with a referendum. It is said to be the largest contribution to a local ballot measure in recent history.

The city’s ordinance targeted both paper and plastic sacks after city officials determined that paper bags were worse for the environment.

Supporters of the ordinance are now considering an outright ban rather than a fee. One spokesman noted that San Francisco considered a fee before becoming the first city in the nation to ban plastic bags in 2007.

The article added that despite strong industry opposition, some smaller communities, including Edmonds, Wash., and Palo Alto, Calif., have succeeded in passing bans on plastic bags at retail stores in recent months.

My guess is that plastic can still be used for things like packing meats and produce, but not as the vehicle to carry your groceries out of the store.

You’d be surprised at how well cloth bags work, and they can be used over and over again.

Besides, you get 5 cents off for each bag that you use.

*           *           *

Those of us who witnessed the recent University of Oregon-Boise State football game weren’t surprised that the Duck’s new coach, Chip Kelly, suspended LeGarrette Blount for the season. He really didn’t have any choice. It wasn’t just punching the Boise State player in the face, and then hitting one of his own teammates, but Blount was completely out of control as people tried to subdue him en route to the locker room. It was an incredible display of poor sportsmanship.

It was interesting that he is there on a scholarship, but it’s obvious that it has nothing to do with academics, unless he is misquoted in the Register-Guard, which I doubt. In an interview he says things like: “I should have just took it to the locker room. I shouldn’t have did anything.”

Yes, you should. You should enroll in a bonehead English class, along with an even more obvious course in anger management.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 23, 2009

I received a nice note from Airlee Owens Friday. Ever since my letter to the editor appeared in Western World, and as a column item in As I See It, Airlee has been thrilled by the cards, letters and calls he’s received from people in Bandon.

Carla and Bill Smith visited him in Vancouver, where he is staying in a VA medical center before starting chemo and radiation treatment. Not only did they bring him his mail, a copy of the Western World and his laptop, but they brought a large four-foot wide, 15-foot-long roll of brown paper with more than 125 well wishes from his friends in Bandon. And Rachel Panter at the Bandon Police Department sent him a note and a City of Bandon police patch. He said my column (letter) has generated a lot of get well cards, including one signed by three Women in Black and one Veteran for Peace.

These things mean so much to him. In fact he read his cards first, and then saved the brown paper “card” for the next day, so he’d have something to look forward to.

Airlee’s attitude seems to be a bit better, as he’s been able to eat real food and was able to sit outside on the patio by himself for 30 minutes.

His new address is Airlee Owens, Vancouver VA Medical Center, 1601 East Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Wash., 98661. Right now he’s in room 119 in the B Wing.

It’s pretty hard to be alone and battling serious cancer, but I know how much the cards and letters, and prayers, have meant to him. And we need to keep them coming.

I can’t wait until the day he’ll be back home shooting some of his beautiful bird photography, and sitting along the highway near the 101-42 junction on Friday nights.

*           *           *

Having spent the weekend at Steamboat Inn on the beautiful Umpqua River, I came home to 94 e-mails … most of which were NOT from my friends and neighbors, but were one ”spam” after another, including five or six from the IRS telling me that I had underreported income. Interestingly enough, they appear to use the same ID number over and over again, and this has been going on for several weeks. It’s almost enough to make me want to respond – but not quite. I’m sure they will write me a letter if it’s really the Internal Revenue Service … you can count on that.

Last week, I received 11 messages in one day from Alliance & Leicester, all with a different tagline ranging from “we have released a new version for … “urgent notification from customer service,” “security alert,” etc. I guess that is a new bank, and scammers are now trying to separate their customers from their bank information. I’ve never heard of it, and I don’t even know if it is a real bank, but sooner or later I’m sure they will scam some poor unsuspecting person … or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

In the “old days” before my answering machine went on the fritz, I would have a lot of phone messages waiting for me when I’d been gone for a couple of days.

Now it’s mostly unsolicited e-mail “messages.”

*           *           *

The problem of alcoholism continues to rear its ugly head in this state, and one of the most heart-wrenching stories I’ve read lately was in the Corvallis Gazette Times last week. It seems a woman’s alcohol problem was so severe that the judge sentenced her to 180 days in jail and took her driver’s license away after two arrests for drunken driving.

In April, police were called to her children’s school where they saw her, drunk, trying to leave a soccer practice with her children in her vehicle. In July, police were called to a community pool where the woman was drunk, throwing up and naked from the waist down. She had driven to the pool with her two children and another child in the vehicle. When police contacted her, she was passed out next to a fence. She was taken to a Corvallis hospital where her initial blood draw showed her blood-alcohol content was 0.53.

But the story doesn’t end there. The next day, police and medics were called to her house. She had drunk half a bottle of vodka and was vomiting blood. Three days after that, the woman got into an argument with her husband and brandished a knife. Her husband was able to get the knife away from her, but cut himself in the process, leading to an assault charge.

Her blood alcohol limit of .53 is more than eight times the limit in Oregon, which is .08. I personally have never heard of anyone with a BAC of even .40, let alone .53. The judge said that was the highest level he’d ever had in his court, and he questioned how someone could survive with a level that high. The judge said there were at least three documented incidents of the woman, who had a 2005 DUII conviction in Georgia, having driven with her children while intoxicated.

She will be released from jail after 90 days to enter treatment after pleading guilty to two counts of DUII and two counts of recklessly endangering.

At what point would she be charged with child abuse? That’s the question I’d like to ask that judge. But as most of us know, she will probably continue to drive drunk – with her children in the car – until she causes a fatal crash.

Then everyone will wring their hands and wonder why nothing was done to save this family. If ever a woman was crying out for serious intervention, it was this woman.

*           *           *

Although I wasn’t able to attend, because I work late on Wednesdays, I understand the Glen Miller Orchestra concert, sponsored by the Bandon Showcase, was sold out. And people thoroughly enjoyed the music.

The next concert that the Showcase is sponsoring will be on Friday night, Nov. 20, featuring the award-winning soprano ensemble, Bella Sorella. The Los Angeles Music Awards selected Bella Sorella as the 2007 vocal group of the year.

Judging from the popularity of recent concerts, people should plan to get their tickets early if they don’t already have season tickets.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 16, 2009

As I was sitting at a table in front of Pacific Blues Friday soaking up the sun I started talking to a couple who were here from the U.K., and they already loved Bandon. I told them about the Cranberry Festival because apparently there were no brochures in their motel room (Table Rock) and they were looking forward to taking part. They were thrilled about their accommodations, which had been upgraded to a vacation rental dwelling, and they felt the price was more than fair.

I asked how they found out about Bandon and they said through a guide known as “The Rough Guide to Oregon and Washington.” There are Rough Guides for all parts of the country (and possibly the world) but this one was specific to the Northwest.

They said it is extremely direct and to the point. It advised people not to go to Seaside, which was labeled as “seedy.” As to Crater Lake, the guide’s writer said the most exciting thing about the Crater Lake Lodge was “killing the flies.” They really don’t mince words, the couple assured me, and that’s why they put so much stock in the book to literally guide them from place to place on their lengthy trip through this part of the country.

The guide labeled Bandon as “the best place to stay on the entire Oregon Coast.”

They beat me to it, but I went across the street to Winter River Books and asked them to order me a copy of the guide, which the English couple has just told them about a few minutes earlier.

I can’t wait to see what else they have to say about Bandon … and other spots where I might want to visit.

I think it will be $19.95 well spent.

*           *           *

I’ve learned a lot more about the four young people, who are lucky to be alive today after their kayaks capsized as they crossed the bar last week. The young people (several of whom are experienced mountain climbers) are related to a couple who own a house here and have recently purchased the large medical building on Elmira, built by Eugene Hill.

I understood a bit better (although not really) why they might have attempted to cross the bar in such treacherous seas when I was told that two of the young men (in their mid-20s) had recently returned from South America where they had climbed the area’s highest mountain.

Their parents and other relatives, who were visiting in Bandon, were very upset with the young men for taking such a risk and they were extremely grateful to the surfer, 48-year-old Bandon Dunes caddie Phil Shoaf, who risked his life to save the two who were still floating in the ocean after the others had been thrown onto the rocks on the North Jetty.

I plan to interview the mother of two of the young men in the next week or so. They have returned to their home in Texas, but I have both her e-mail and her phone number and I know she will be happy to share her feelings about what happened.

At Monday night’s council meeting, I plan to honor Shoaf with a letter of commendation and a certificate. At this writing, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to make it because of his caddie schedule, but I’m certainly hoping to meet him. And I’m sure the families of those four young people feel the same way.

We all want to say “thank you.”

*           *           *

You may have seen me throwing something into Ferry Creek Thursday or Friday evenings. The Bandon State Fish Hatchery had put 12,000 small salmon (probably 3 to 5 inches in length) in the creek as they have done for the last four or five years, and I was feeding them. They built a gate in the creek just a short distance from our driveway, which in the past has kept the fish confined for 10 days to two weeks to become acclimated.

I went out to feed them Saturday evening about 5, but in spite of throwing out five handfuls of food, none came to the surface to eat because the tide was running so swiftly. All I saw was brackish water and green algae slime.

I went back out about 5:30 to try again to feed them, and to my horror noticed that the gate had broken loose from its moorings and obviously the 12,000 fish had been “freed.”

I immediately called Jim Robinson at the fish hatchery and left a message to tell him what had happened. He called me a short time later, and I saw him at the creek the next morning. The gate is still lying in the water, but it’s clear that the fish have all gone out to sea.

Whether they will have been in there long enough to become acclimated is anyone’s guess.

It will be a few years before we know the answer.

*           *           *

I’ve been so upset about the lack of civility of people who have been attending the Town Hall meetings on health care, that I didn’t think anything else could shock me. But the uproar by conservatives about President Obama’s speech was almost more than I could bear. I loved the editorial cartoon in the Sept. 9 Register-Guard, which showed a group of students lined up against the wall outside a classroom, wearing T-shirts which labeled them as “GOP kids.” The teacher comes out and says: “You can return to class, children! The President has finished his speech.”

There is no way to express my feelings about parents, and in some instances entire schools, who refused to let their children listen to his speech. What could they possibly be afraid of that could be more damaging that the hate radio that many subject themselves to every day? But, that’s probably the main reason they were afraid to hear what he had to say. They’d already been warned by their “great protectors.”

That sorry state of affairs passed out of the news quickly when it was replaced by Republican Joe Wilson’s absolutely outrageous outburst when he called the President a liar … and then learned, I am sure to his chagrin, that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

I guess we can’t expect civility to return any time soon in this country when elected representatives act the way they do.

I don’t know how much of this to attribute to racism, but my fervent prayer is none.

*           *           *

A recent article in the Brookings newspaper, the Curry Coastal Pilot, got my attention. It seems that the out-of-area owner of a three-acre forested parcel of land at the north end of Brookings had recently cleared it of almost all its trees.

People were wondering if they were planning to build a hotel, a retirement community or some other large development.

But no, the response of the property owner, known as SJP, LLC, owned by Harish Patel of Tigard, was that they had problems with homeless encampments in the wooded areas, and that by clearing the trees it would make the property less attractive for “transient habitation.”

I certainly hope they don’t own any property in the Bandon area.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 09, 2009

Bandon is a small, caring community and when something happens to a friend or neighbor, it touches us all. In the last couple of weeks, tragedy has struck several families, and another of our friends is suffering from a serious bout with cancer.

We’ve read about what happened to a popular Bandon High School youth, Kyle Lawrence, who is the son of Jackie Lawrence. He was critically injured when he crossed the highway near Pacific High School (in northern Curry County) shortly after completing soccer practice.

I got to know Jackie well when she spent a lot of time helping Christy Freitag and her mother after Christy was paralyzed a few years ago in a trampoline accident. Friends of Kyle and the family have put donation cans around the community and have also set up bank accounts to help the family.

Tragedy has also struck Jim Pruitt and his family. Jim, as many of you know, is a local boy (in his early 50s) and he is the owner of A&C Construction. He is fighting for his life after a gunshot wound, and I am praying for him and his wife, Robin, and their extended family. Jim is a great person and a wonderful roofer and he has helped me out, as well as members of my family, a number of times.

And most of you know Airlee Owens, one of the South Coast’s premier photographers, and champion of our troops, who could be found every Friday night, sitting in his chair alongside the highway. Airlee underwent surgery at the VA Medical Center in Portland recently and they discovered that his colon cancer had spread to other organs, and now he’s facing chemo and radiation. I am not sure how long he will be in the hospital or where he will go for the treatments, but people could send him a card at the VA Medical Center, 3710 SW US Veterans Hospital Road, Portland, OR 97239. I know that his good friends, Carla and Bill Smith, have been talking to him daily and report that he is very weak and pretty depressed, so I know cards would cheer him up.

*           *           *

I received an e-mail from Robert Seaver Sunday morning recounting what could have been a real tragedy Saturday afternoon when four people in kayaks crossed the Coquille River Bar at Bandon. He said all of the kayaks flipped numerous times in the heavy surf, tossing their passengers into the sea. Seaver said he and his wife were the first witnesses to what happened to the four young people (three men and a woman believed to be in their mid-20s) riding in three different, pedal powered open topped kayaks, as they rode out over the crashing waves of the bar and out into the Pacific Ocean.

Bandon real estate broker Chas Waldrop was among those who saw them head for the bar, and he yelled at them to turn back, but they apparently didn’t hear him because of the crashing waves.

To make an extremely long story short, two of the people were able to hang onto their overturned kayak, which eventually slammed onto the rocks of the North Jetty. They crawled up onto the rocks and collapsed.

Seaver said people were busy calling 9-1-1, but apparently whoever answered mistakenly thought those in trouble were now on the rocks, not realizing that there were still two more in the water. And even the Coast Guard, who had a motor life boat stationed in Bandon, failed to respond until Waldrop rode into town on his bike and contacted the owner of the kayaks, Mike Sterling. “I had the direct number for the Coast Guard and called them, and convinced them there were people in the water,” Sterling told me. Seaver said the Coast Guard might have seen the kayaks in a different part of the river earlier and thought they were okay. “So nobody responded at first.” He said it was a good 20 to 30 minutes for anybody to show up, except for an ever larger crowd of onlookers.

Finally a man wearing a wetsuit and carrying a surfboard quietly made his way through the crowd and climbed down the rocks of the South Jetty and into the water. People were yelling at him to stop, Seaver said, but (thankfully) he paid no attention to them. He paddled out into the rough surf and eventually disappeared from view.

“And before long, the two other people left in the swells vanished from view as well,” Seaver said. “Finally, the surfer reappeared in the swells very far off shore, at least 100 yards from the end of the North Jetty. And I could see that he had another person with him. But after a time a second person appeared with the surfer, too. He had reached both of the men in the water and they were now waving toward shore for help.”

Seaver said the police and the Coast Guard arrived in their vehicles. “The police did a fantastic job. They had officers on both the north and south jetties and they coordinated what I told them (about how many people were out there and where they were) with the Coast Guard. Without that surfer and the police, things would have ended in tragedy here. I’m sure of it,” Seaver said.

A Coast Guard motor lifeboat arrived from the Bandon boat basin, crossed the bar, and rescued the kayakers and the surfer.

It took me half a day to track down the surfer as nobody seemed to know his name. Finally someone said his first name was Phil, but they weren’t sure of his last name. I called the cell number someone gave me for Phil Nemrava, a surfer, but it turned out he is in Philadelphia, and he gave me the name and phone number of the hero – Phil Shoaf, 48, a caddie at Bandon Dunes.

Shoaf told me he did what anyone would have done in those circumstances, but for people who watched him head into that treacherous ocean, he is definitely a hero. Shoaf told Seaver that he was just glad to help and hoped that somebody would do the same for him someday if he ever needed it.

Sterling talked with the four rescued kayakers later and all agreed they probably would not have made it had they not been wearing life jackets. But they would not have put themselves, nor their rescuer, into that kind of peril had they paid attention to Sterling’s warning when they rented the kayaks and remained in the bay and gone up river.

The four, who were apparently cousins from several different parts of the country including Texas and New Jersey vacationing in Bandon, told Sterling they would pay for the damage to the kayaks.

I’m sure that’s a small price to pay for their harrowing experience, and the good fortune that they are still alive.

*           *           *

Monday was such a beautiful day here, and as I sat at an outdoor table in Old Town sipping a latte, listening to harp music and watching crowds of people enjoy themselves, I couldn’t help but think back to the early ‘80s when the City got the HUD grant to upgrade the buildings and infrastructure in Old Town.

Many of us in city government at that time envisioned just what I saw Monday … people walking around in the sunshine, sitting at tables and benches, visiting the shops and having a great time.

At least that’s the vision I had.

Now if that weather will just hold for this weekend’s Cranberry Festival, it should be great fun.

*           *           *

I don’t know the two young women who live next door to me very well but I learned to really appreciate them Friday. I had just played a round of golf and was headed into my driveway when I saw them standing on the bridge … looking very sad. I knew something terrible had happened. It turned out that my very favorite kitty, Shadow, had been hit by a car while crossing the highway, and killed. They picked him up and had put him under a red cloth near my porch, with a note. But they had come over several times hoping to find me … before I found the note and my cat. As luck would have it, we met in the driveway. I was extremely upset and they offered to bury him for me alongside their kitty, and I was so thankful for their kindness. I simply could not have done it.

I have never known my cat to cross the highway, but I guess it only takes once when you live so near to the road. He would stay on the other side of the bridge every night and watch me water the flowers and he never ventured even out to the sidewalk.

I’m still having a hard time dealing with it, but that’s what happens when you get attached to your pets. But I guess considering the pain that some Bandon families are dealing with right now, I’d best put it into perspective and take care of my other two kitties.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 02, 2009

I used to think I knew how to grow flowers … until Saturday when I went on the garden tour and saw some extremely beautiful gardens, which definitely put mine to shame. The tour was a benefit for Good Earth, Bandon’s community garden, and Buck Rogers (the sparkplug behind the garden) said the response exceeded their wildest dreams. This was my first ever garden tour, and I definitely won’t miss the next one.

You get to go into people’s backyards and see things that you never see just driving by their property. I spent so much time at a couple of the gardens that I didn’t have time to see Stephen Brown’s vegetable garden on Ohio Avenue, but I know it would have been interesting to learn how he controls weeds and grows warm weather crops like corn.

But I did see some corn at Joyce Moore’s garden on 18th Street that must have been eight to 10 feet tall.

Joyce has lived here many years, and I knew that she was a beautician, but I had no idea that she was a master gardener. She has an amazing orchard with pears, apples, peaches, cherries and plums, and she’s mastered the art of grafting. On one apple tree she has four or five different varieties.

Libby and Guy Wyatt’s garden was also a treat, as was Frank Barnekoff’s secret garden near the high school. He showed us what could be grown on the “cooler side of town.” The trip through Buck Rogers’ garden was like something out of a movie. It’s a real work of art, complete with a pond and a marvelous greenhouse. Although I didn’t visit Samme Nuessle’s garden on Klamath, I just toured it a couple of weeks ago and saw the largest strawberries I’ve ever laid eyes on.

But for a true Shangri-la, it was the visit to Patti Curran’s garden, off Highway 101 near the airport, that made you think you were in a beautiful park, surrounded with native plants, lots of unusual and beautiful landscape plants and a vegetable garden. She has an amazing collection of exotic trees, many of which she has planted over the years. She has a large greenhouse, a beautiful deck and lives in a true park-like setting.

I hope the community garden group decides to do this again next year. It is something you won’t want to miss even if you are just an “amateur” gardener, like I am. It was a fun day and a real learning experience.

*           *           *

One of the best things about the garden tour was meeting a local couple, who have lived here about five years. It seemed each time I chose which garden I was going to visit, there they were. But it wasn’t until we got to Patti Curran’s garden, the last stop on our tour, that we really started talking.

I was amazed at some of the things they had heard about the mayor and council, and I fear much of it has circulated from unsigned blogs. Part of it had to do with the infamous Welcome to Bandon sign at the south entrance to town. They’d heard that the council benefited financially from the sign, and that most of our decisions benefited us in some way financially.

I explained that as far as the sign was concerned, the city’s parks and recreation committee had been setting aside the money for several years to complete the sign. The only bid that we received came from a Bandon contractor, who happens to be married to one of our employees in City Hall. I was so thankful that a local person had gotten the bid since too often, the low bid will come from someone outside the community, who does not employ local people. But for those who see skullduggery in every action of the council (or government in general), I am sure they were able to somehow make something negative out of it.

I truly understood the power of the blog, rumor mill and speculation, which seems to have taken a life of its own since Western World decided to editorialize against the sign, prompting unsigned blog after unsigned blog on their web site.

I talked with the couple for about 45 minutes, and I was so thankful that they had approached me and asked me some questions. They told me some of the things they’d heard, but the one that surprised me the most was that we might actually be benefiting financially from our decisions.

My guess is that over the years, councilors have suffered financially far more times than they’ve ever benefited from a decision – particularly if they were in business.

Believe me, we pay the same water and sewer rates that everyone else pays and are equally impacted by any decision that we make.

That’s the beauty of citizen government.

*           *           *

I recently received an e-mail from Bandon resident Jim Giambrone, Jr., who had read my column stating that the city probably would not have to pass the wholesale rate increase from BPA onto our customers – like Coos-Curry Electric is doing. And he questioned why not.

In an e-mail to me, he said “Thus I assume the city will absorb the increases. Is that right? Why are the increases not being passed on?”

I sent his e-mail on to Matt who explained that the city is trying to keep the rates as low as possible, and indicating that if an increase is necessary, it probably wouldn’t be until July 1, 2010.

Jim responded by saying that his concern was that “the city is in dire straights (straits) financially and we cannot afford such an action. Since January we’ve had a reduction in service of three positions and employees have taken a wage freeze.”

What he doesn’t understand is that the financial problems that the city is experiencing are in the general fund, not the utility department. They are two completely separate funds. Our property tax revenue (46 cents a thousand) goes into the general fund, and that is the fund that supports the police and planning departments. If we had the kind of property tax revenue that Myrtle Point and Powers have (about $7 a thousand), we’d be in the proverbial “fat city.” But we don’t, and that is why we’re asking the voters to support a police levy. I just hope we can keep our electric rates down as long as possible, and I’m sure a lot of others in the community feel the same way.

So you see, the council is “darned if you do” and “darned if you don’t.”

*           *           *

I was privy to an e-mail exchange this week between Shawn Jennings, a spokesman for the labor council, and Jim Bice, owner of Koos News.

Shawn had sent him a press release about the Labor Council’s Labor Day picnic, which is being held in North Bend.

And here’s the reason he gave for not running the release: “Although I, in general, support labor, and specially the rank and file as opposed to the leadership, after much consideration I cannot promote this year’s Labor Day Picnic.

“The primary reason is that there will be speakers misleading the people regarding the current health care plan being considered in Washington.” He goes on to say that if adopted, the plan would be harmful to the economy and the medical care of the American people.

He ends it by saying: “I regret that I can’t support the picnic. I believe it is a worthwhile event and a show of solidarity with the community, but my general policy is that I cannot promote anything that is provably untrue or harmful to the people.”

Shawn answered, in part: “Do you think people are too stupid to decide this issue without you protecting them by censoring the information they receive?”

She closes by inviting him to the picnic. “Later if you want to write nasty remarks about what you hear that’s your right. Thankfully we all have the right of Free Speech.”

previous columns by mary schamehorn