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Let's Drink: The DA Debacle Part XXV, Bend's Most Dangerous Patio and more! 

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DA Office Drama Drags On

A deal that would have traded some salary and benefits for deputy prosecutors in exchange for short-term job security appears to be crumbling on the eve of DA-elect Patrick Flaherty's tenure. An attorney representing deputy district attorneys who have banded together in a state-certified collective bargaining union notified Deschutes County administrators on Monday that her clients are rescinding their proposal unless the county commissioners vote on the deal before Jan. 1 when Flaherty is scheduled to take office.

Deschutes County Commissioners earlier this month delayed their vote on the proposed contract in part because of Flaherty's objection to the contract, which he said contravened his authority to manage his own staff.

Eugene-based attorney Becky Gallagher wrote that, "The latest change in dates is not acceptable to the Association. Part of the benefit of the bargain in the deal reached at the table included concessions on the part of the Association (for example, wages and benefits) in exchange for a "just cause" provision that would take effect prior to January 1, 2011. The delayed BOCC vote takes that benefit away from Association members. The Association views the actions of the BOCC as bad faith bargaining," Gallagher wrote.

It's more than just a question of contract semantics, Flaherty has reportedly already informed several prosecutors, including the union's president, Jodie Vaughan, that he intends to dismiss them at the start of his term. Commissioners have until Dec. 31 to ratify the contract under the existing terms or face the prospect of returning to the bargaining table. However, that leaves open the question of the fate of the employees slated for termination who appear to be in a state of legal limbo: part of a union, but without a ratified contract. Don't expect this one to end without a court fight and a hefty bill if neither side relents before the New Year.

Hey Erin Brokovich, It Wasn't the City of Bend

There was plenty of talk about how Bend was listed in a national study as one of 35 cities in the country where hexavalent chromium, a chemical compound that has been determined to cause cancer was found in tap water. This is the same chemical that Erin Brockovich found in California in the 1990s, an event that was made into a film starring Julia Roberts.

But on Tuesday, the City of Bend announced that water sampled in the study by the Environmental Working Group was taken from an Avion water company customer and was not from the city's system, which serves most of Bend's residents. Avion primarily serves outlying areas of the metropolitan Bend area. So drink up, Bend! You're probably hex chromium free. (MB)

Goodbye, Jenni

As some in Bend may already know, Jenni Peskin has announced that she is leaving her post as executive director of the Human Dignity Coalition after almost nine years at the helm of the nonprofit organization, which advocates for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) community in Central Oregon. Peskin will remain on at the HDC through February when her replacement, Bruce Morris, a former Bendite who has spent some time working for the Rural Organizing Project, an organization that assists equal justice groups throughout Oregon.

Looking back on her time as executive director, Peskin says she's been at the organization during a period of change for Central Oregon.

"I really saw a shift in the middle of my time as head of HDC, I saw the progressive community come out," says Peskin, citing events like the Iraq War that served as a catalyst to bring progressives together, thus bringing a more visible group of supporters for gay rights into the region.

She was also at HDC in 2003 when there was a hate crime in Bend, leading the HDC and other groups to rally in support of the Equal Rights Ordinance in the city of Bend, which prevented employers, landlords and others from discriminating against an individual because of his or her sexual orientation. Peskin says that the ordinance was a key factor in establishing statewide anti-discrimination laws that went into effect in 2007.

"A lot of people don't realize that it was perfectly legal for people to be fired from a job just because you were gay or lesbian in the state of Oregon. Bend was really at the forefront of that," says Peskin.

She says she's not entirely sure what she'll do with her coming free time, but says she'll stay in Bend, continue to teach yoga and remain active in the community. (MB)

Backyard, Thy
Name is Doom

Earlier this week, KTVZ reported on a backyard. But it wasn't your run-of-the-mill, squirrels-and-grass type of backyard. No, this backyard doesn't have the luxury of your average problems like ants and weeds. Instead, the devil himself has manifested in a southeast Bend couple's backyard, earning it the name, "Backyard of Doom."

Randy and Lynne Potter's backyard off Reed Market Road seems to have built up some pretty nasty karma. Because over nearly 30 years, they've had between 18 and 20 cars crash into their backyard. Most recently, a drunk driver bombed through their fence and ended up in the Potter's backyard last Friday. The Potters say they've asked the city to put some type of barrier or deterrent for road soda-toting freewheeling drivers looking to smash head first into their yard, but the city has only put up a sign with double arrows to warn drivers. Apparently, super drunk people don't pay much attention to signs. (SR)

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