President Obama would be proud of Bend for the vision it has shown on issues like the original cash for clunker program with our junk busses, massive debt being incurred at Juniper Ridge for no benefit to the public, bailouts for BAT, gross overspending on employee health care, new taxes on water and sewer during a severe economic downturn, and urban growth expansion designed for the big money in town. Let's examine these issues in greater detail.
CITY COUNCILThe "Bully Blockers" rode into town on their black stallions early this year to facilitate those with money and influence. Following a coup to fill a vacant position with an old crony who possesses serious conflicts of interest, another councilor called the back-door deal "crap" giving us a second faction of "Crappers." A third Councilor rolled over in support of the bullies which demonstrates that "when money talks, ideology walks," creating a 3rd faction of "Floppers." The only things that they seem to agree on are higher fees for utilities and massive debt at Juniper Ridge.
The city recently announced termination of yet another top economic development bureaucrat charged with the mess at Juniper Ridge to join the senior executive who departed early this year for similar reasons. Our city manager has yet to launch even one single strategic initiative to benefit the community after two years in office as his primary mission appears to be "towing the company line" for his council. It should be noted that he had no prior experience in city management before his "rookie" starting assignment in Bend, and on-the-job training has not worked very well.
CASH FOR CLUNKERS
After spending several hundred thousand dollars on junk busses that voters rejected three times, the city wasted another 60 thousand on legal fees for an ill-fated lawsuit against the transit company in an attempt to "save face." Most recently, they actually paid a junkyard to send these scrap heaps to junk bus heaven.
The council recently approved another 14 million in debt for the fiasco at Juniper virtually assuring massive insolvency in the near future.
Ask yourself the following questions regarding the two lone corporate villains at Juniper Ridge despite eight years of futile effort and tens of millions in taxpayer resources.
Would you want your children crossing Santiam Pass in the dead of night at highway speeds on tires that were produced in China?
Would you want your children attending school near a company that manufactures a product named Checkmate for aerial moth control applications around the world?
Moreover, promises of new jobs, a university, performing arts center, research facilities, hi-tech manufacturers, parks galore, and a big lake are as hollow today as they were seven years ago. Likewise, nothing substantive has been done to alleviate severe congestion at Cooley Road and Highway 97 during this decade.
Despite waste of $3 million on Juniper Ridge Partners, the continuing failures of a host of subsequent consultants and lawyers, the city continues to allocate $10,000 per month for yet another useless consultant at Juniper Ridge. Why can't Bend learn from its mistakes, especially since it makes so many bad ones?
Now we learn the city has squandered over $100,000 on Portland based lawyers in their attempt to ruin Swalley Water Company for an ill-fated urban growth plan that is two-three times larger than it should be. You can expect this preposterous proposal to be locked up in Salem for years due to the serious flaws that it contains. You can also bet that the recent increases in water & sewer rates are related to infrastructure needs of large beneficiaries of the plan.
We're talking about a city that can't even drain its underpasses. Picture the recent newspaper photo of a submerged vehicle under the 3rd Street rail crossing.
We need only to recap Cessna's departure to ascertain the city's expertise (lack thereof) in economic development. Now we learn that Epic has shut its doors with another $1.3 million of taxpayer incentives and another 140 jobs down the chutes.
Bend should not be in the development business at Juniper Ridge because the public's watchdog suddenly became our nemesis. Nor does anyone within the City possess expertise required for a project of this magnitude. Talk about conflicts of interest! Who's looking out for us? The failed acquisitions of Juniper Water utility and the former Bulletin property provide additional proof the city is incapable of managing our resources responsibly.
We need more furloughs quickly, and they should start at the top!
Scott R Siewert is a semi-retired human resources executive who lives in Deschutes County and has led neighborhood opposition to the project. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of the Source.