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City Beat: Candidates, Jobs, and Flags 

Return of Eckman

Kathie Eckman, the longtime Bend city councilor and former mayor announced late last week that she will be coming out of retirement from city politics and again seek a spot on the city council.

Eckman, who served on the council in spurts from 1980 until 2000, including a stint as mayor from 1991-92, is seeking position three, which is currently held by Councilor Linda Johnson. After retiring from the Bend-La Pine School District's human resources department in 2001, Eckman spent some time working for Sen. Ron Wyden.


Her return to the city's political landscape probably doesn't come as much of a shock to many. When John Hummel stepped down from his council position last spring, Eckman tossed her hat into the ring for that seat (as did fellow recently announced council candidate Don Leonard), which was eventually filled by Peter Gramlich. In her interview for that position, Eckman was asked if she would run for a council spot in 2008 - and she said she didn't believe she would do so, but didn't completely close the door on the opportunity.

In a statement announcing her candidacy, Eckman emphasized economic development and fiscal responsibility, both of which are likely to shape up as key talking points as election season grows closer.

"I believe that with my past experience I will help the city get back on track and working again for the people of Bend. I will ensure that the pet projects stop and we get back to making policy decisions that benefit all citizens not just a select few," Eckman said in the statement announcing her candidacy.

It's called the job shuffle, and it goes something like this...

With all the talk of layoffs within the ranks of the city employees, some may have been surprised to see the issue of actually adding jobs on last week's City Council agenda. But with those additions, come some subtractions - of jobs that aren't currently filled.

The council voted unanimously to approve a staff suggestion that approved at total of three full-time positions in the Public Works Department. The jobs were added to the areas of Public Works Administration, the Storm Water Division and the Water Reclamation Division.

The Public Works Administration job (a full-time administrative assistant) required consolidating two and a half full-time jobs in order to make the hire fiscally reasonable, according to a staff report. The Water Reclamation position came as the result of combining two unfilled technical jobs with one full time supervisor. The full-time addition to the Storm Water staff did not include any job cuts or consolidations.

In all, the staff report shows that the Public Works Department saved about $248,000 in wages and benefits as a result of the job shuffle.

No councilor voiced any hesitancy toward approving the moves and Councilor Chris Telfer was especially welcoming of the consolidations.

"I've been asking for moves like this for years," she said at the meeting.

Shedding Some Light on Old Glory

At last week's meeting, the council also spent a good chunk of time addressing the issue of a cell phone tower along the Bend Parkway that features a substantially sized American flag flown around the clock. And in order to fit with the Bend city code (as well as common flag-flying etiquette), the flag must be lit at night - but some have complained that the lighting is too bright and a potential distraction to drivers on the parkway. The councilors found it a bit of a conflict - not wanting to inhibit anyone's ability to fly the flag, while making sure the tower is appropriately lit. The council didn't arrive at a solution, but stay tuned as we bring you the latest details on Flag-gate '08.

Chalmers didn't get a look?

There's a chance the Bend-La Pine School District could name a new superintendent as early as this week. The school district met on Tuesday night to discuss the three finalists and come closer to picking the desired candidate.

Left in the running for the district's top job are Dr. Stephen Rowley, formerly of Fremont Union High School District in Sunnyvale, Calif., Ryan Thomas of Unita County School District in Evanston, Wyo., and Bend's own Ron Wilkinson, who is currently the deputy superintendent of the school district.

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