Think Out Loud is a radio call-in show that discusses the many issues facing the great state of Oregon, and the topic of this live taping was, natch, how Bend is losing its shorts after years of ruling the real estate world. Guest panelists included a clean-shaven, articulate mayor Bruce Abernethy (this small town mayor knew how to use the seventh letter of the alphabet!), the folksy Andy High from COBA, and crowd-favorite Corky Senecal from NeighborImpact , who is not only an advocate for Bend's homeless, but also has one of the best names ever. The OPB crowd, about 80 folks who on the whole aren't fans of hair dye, hair products, haircuts, or contact lenses, clapped most enthusiastically when Ms. Senecal spoke of creating "livable wage jobs" in Central Oregon. (But make sure the City of Bend has a plan intact before we turn Bend into Phoenix again. And somebody better fix those damn potholes!) Overall, the crowd seemed pretty tame, only gasping once when online host Dave Miller tried to stir it up by reading a comment from a Valley listener who characterized Central Oregon residents as just a bunch of greedy right-wing nutters who love our McMansions and ripping up the Badlands on our ATVs. Mr. Abernethy did a good job of pointing out that Bend ranks number four in the entire nation when it comes to green resource living-only to be quickly called out by Think Out Loud host and Valley-lover Emily Harris, who accused Abernethy of perhaps overselling our potential for green collar growth like we did with the housing boom. Get used to it, OPB, when we do something over here-be it overbuild or save the environment-we go big or go home. Suck it! (P.S.- Thanks for free OPB mugs and T-shirts! Loves ya!)
CTC wasn't the only place to get a taste of local politics this past week. Upfront sat through most of the League of Women Voters forum last Friday. The league's Q&A format is notoriously non-confrontational, and for Upfront's money the highlight was City Councilor Peter Gramlich's introductory statement where he said he drinks beer, but not wine, bowls in the low 120s and "inhaled." Gramlich also made it a point to defend the city's measured approach to growth and advocated for maintaining current fee levels despite the downturn in the building industry. Upfront did note one head scratcher when the moderator asked candidates to name the two most pressing issues before the city. Candidates all agreed that the budget was the top concern, followed by transportation, economic development, planning etc. The exception was Gramlich's opponent, Tom Greene, who pulled a Palin by launching into a discussion about the budget, and, when asked to provide a second issue, was unable to do so. We're not sure if he just choked or was that unprepared. Either way, Upfront thinks Greene will need to do a little more homework if he hopes to unseat Gramlich.
At the national level, Upfront noted with a bit of indignation that the Source's signature editorial hammer "The Boot" has been appropriated by the Republican National Senatorial Committee in its latest television ad bashing Jeff Merkley. The 30-second ad that began airing recently tells viewers that Merkley wanted to take away our state tax rebate, known as the "kicker" because it "kicks" in when state revenues exceed expectations. The ad is more than a little disingenuous claiming that Merkley wanted to keep Oregonians' kicker checks for the "government." In reality, the bill supported by Merkley in the statehouse would have referred voters to the question of whether to do away with the personal and corporate kicker, allowing the state to establish a rainy day fund and shore up Oregon school spending. But hey, we expect that kind of distortion down the final stretch of a close Senate race. Smith's ad concludes that Oregonians should give Merkley the "boot" for his kicker proposal. Upfront thinks Smith should keep his hands off the "Boot," which like the "Ring of Power" could bring untold destruction in the wrong hands. Not to mention editorial confusion.