Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let developers, PacifiCorp dredge Mirror Pond

If prominent local developers Bill Smith and Todd Taylor want to own the land under Mirror Pond, then let them be responsible for the occasional dredging of Bend's iconic pond.

Without PacifiCorp's hydro facility at the north end of the pond, we wouldn't have this sediment problem. Of course, we also wouldn't have one of the more scenic urban settings in the Northwest.

With the small hydro facility at the end of its 100-year life span, PacifiCorp wants to dump the dam and its costly removal onto the lap of Bend's taxpayers.

Nevermind that PacifiCorp has made millions over the decades from  the electricity generated at Mirror Pond. For a corporation, it's never enough.

If PacifiCorp can dupe the city of Bend and the park district into paying millions for the removal of the dam, it'll laugh all the way to the bank.

Corporations are adept at saddling taxpayers with the cost of the problems they create. It's part of their business plans.

We won't hear this from the local press.

The media have always done the bidding of corporations (so much for left-wing bias) because they know how their bread is buttered.

It's likely that most Bend residents would like to see Mirror Pond kept as it is rather than as a free-flowing river with less curb appeal.

Unfortunately, all of Bend's property taxpayers would be saddled with the enormous bill for something that primarily benefits Bend's west side.

Bend's northside, southside and eastside residents should realize that if they agree to subsidize Bend's west side livability, it means there will be little money left to improve livability in their neck of the woods. In fact, there will be no money for any other projects in Bend.

Ironically, we wouldn't have this discussion at all if Bend's developers had succeeded in building homes on the banks of Mirror Pond as they originally intended to do.

It was Bend's women who fought to preserve the area in 1921 that became Drake Park and, today, is synonymous with the city itself.

Now, nearly 100 years later, we have developers trying to preserve the Mirror Pond/Drake Park experience.

No one is stopping developers or PacifiCorp from dredging the river, removing the dam or maintaining the status quo.

But, they want Bend's property taxpayers to pay the freight.

Well, put up the money yourselves or shut up.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's about time

Finally, the Democrats demonstrated some guts and altered the Senate filibuster rules to get something accomplished in this government.

For decades, congressional Democrats have caved to Republican demands even when the Dems had the clear majority. 

The result is a federal judiciary that is out of step with our nation that wants the government out of the bedroom and women's wombs, and corporate millions out of politics.

Federal judges, appointed by Republican presidents, have sanctioned the GOP's war on women and workers.

The only governing principle that Republicans have today is stopping anything President Obama proposes and anyone he nominates or appoints.

Americans are tired of this and want some change.

Thanks to Oregon's Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who led the charge to change the filibuster rules, we  have a chance to restore some balance to the federal judiciary.

The is much whining from Republican lawmakers, but they're actually thrilled that the Democrats ended this filibuster tactic because they assume they'll be able to ram arch-conservative judges through to the federal bench after the 2016 election.

Well, good luck with that.

Good job, Democratic senators. It's great you showed some spine, finally.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Walmart problem

Walmart's compassionate side
Ray's Food Place in Bend and Redmond will go out of business soon as its parent companies closes a quarter of its markets.

In total, about 500 will lose their jobs.

And, in no surprise, competition from Walmart gets the blame from Ray's owners.

Walmart has a superstore on Redmond's north end, which appeals to shoppers from the Hub city along with Madras and Prineville.

On Bend's south end, Walmart supersized its store there this year and will soon put Albertsons, directly across the street, out of business in a few months, resulting in more job losses.

Albertsons has been so desperate to attract shoppers to its southside Bend store that it's been running $10-off coupons in the local daily.

I shopped at Albertsons on a recent Sunday when the coupon was in the paper. Sadly, there were only a handful of shoppers in the store on what otherwise would be a busy shopping day.

It's no surprise that Ray's went out of business in Bend because it was right across the street from a giant Safeway store.

Still, the Walmart factor looms large over all retail in Central Oregon.

 Consumer Reports' surveys show that of all the major supermarket chains, Walmart has the worst produce and service.

Its known that Walmart treats its workers, called "associates," so poorly that it allows its own stores to put up food bins to collect food for Walmart employees for the holidays.

Since Walmart will be open on Thanksgiving day, their workers won't be able to enjoy the holiday anyway.

Walmart: a job-killing corporation with a happy face.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A thin mint for Chris Christie?

Does this doom Christie's chances for president?
Since there is nothing much going in the world, aside from a catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines or Obamacare's struggles or the latest with Miley Cyrus, we're pretty much stuck with talking about the presidential election that's only three years away.

Of course, why stop there. 2020 is just around the corner.

Time magazine kicked things off well with a cover story on Gov. Chris Christie, after his easy re-election victory in the deep "blue" state of New Jersey, with the provocative title: "The Elephant in the Room."

The silhouette photo of Christie is more evocative of Alfred Hitchcock than it is of a presidential contender.

In most ways, Christie represents the classic conservative: He avoids the bully pulpit on social issues even though he toes the party and loves giving away the farm (public employee pensions) to corporations. 

And, nothing screams GOP like his double-double chin. As Austin Powers once quipped about Fat Bastard: "He's got more chins than a Chinese phone book."

Christie is also brash, crass, rude and arrogant. Those qualities endear him to voters in the Garden State and others in the northeast who share those same attributes.

But, his combative style doesn't seem to play well elsewhere, according to this poll.

One big reason why Christie doesn't poll well outside the northeast is because of his "bromance" with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New Jersey just before the 2012 election.

Plus, Christie lauded President Obama's swift federal response to the disaster. Some GOPers believe Christie handed the election to Obama.

In light of the onetime Christie-Obama lovefest, it would be hard for Christie to win any GOP primary in the south where racism is synonymous with the Republican brand.

His "Soprano" style of politics also wouldn't carry the day in the Midwest.

And, there is the question of Christie's health.

Despite having surgery to reduce his rotund shape, Christie still looks like he's one step away from a fatal heart attack. Or, for fans of "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," he could be one thin mint away from exploding like Mr. Creosote.

Christie's weight problem means that his running mate would be more important than Christie himself.

Does he pick a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz and soak up support from the teabaggers?

Would either of those two bring in enough independent voters to close the deal?

It would be odd for a vice presidential candidate be the de facto top of the ticket.

But, that's where we are in 2013, which means we are nowhere near seeing a legitimate Republican contender for the White House.