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The Loafer Lob Heard Round the World: Bush's dodge ball skills, cooling out in Dubai, and more. 

So Shoe Me!

click to enlarge The face that launched a thousand shoes.
  • The face that launched a thousand shoes.
The face that launched a thousand shoes.In a Los Angeles Times article this week, former Secret Service agent Patrick J. Lennon was quoted as saying, "Thank God, Bush apparently played a little dodge ball when he was younger."

You probably know what this former agent is talking about, but if somehow you missed this, Upfront will fill you in with a one-sentence recap: Some Iraqi journalist removed both of his shoes during a press conference and tossed them at President Bush on Sunday - and this is actually a sign of severe disrespect in the Arab world.

This was all during a "surprise visit" to Iraq by the president and very likely the last trek of his waning presidency to the embattled nation. The only "surprise" to be seen was the look on Bush's face as he somewhat deftly dodged each shoe toss...but this look of surprise soon melted into the same sly little smirk we've come to love to hate over the past eight years. Bush subsequently likened the shoe missles to a campaign heckler or one driver flipping off another. Oh President Bush! Not even a size 10 loafer whizzing past your temple can dampen your reckless disregard of public opinion.

Recession? Global Warming? Not in Dubai.

Ever lay on a beach and think, "This would be so much better if the sand were at least 10 degrees cooler?" Maybe you haven't, but according to Soheil Abedian, founder of the new Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai, this is what people want and the man is seriously considering options to ensure that guests of his hotel never burn their feet on the beach sand at his luxury hotel.

"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," said Abedian in an interview from the Times Online, "This is the kind of luxury that top people want."

While it does get hot in Dubai, and sometimes reaches temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit, we're pretty sure that a network of coolant-containing pipes underneath the sandy beach can't be good for the environment. Then again, this is the only place in the world where you can own your own island shaped like a country and a typical day may consist of skiing indoors and then watching a camel race.

Transit Timeout

The push to put Bend Area Transit system funding back in front of voters sooner rather than later has run out of gas. Mike Schmidt, the co-chair of transit committee, told councilors recently that the city will have to wait until 2010 before it can go back to voters with another funding request for the beleagured bus system that city councilors have put on the budget chopping block along with a host of other programs and positions. Schmidt said state law restricts transit measures to even numbered elections, which correspond to general elections and mid-term Congressional elections when more voters show up to the polls.

It's not uncommon for states to enact these kinds of laws to prohibit special interests from slipping in new taxes without the knowledge or consent of many voters. It's yet another reflection of voter apathy and the nation's chronically low participation that we have to tailor election rules around voters habits. But in Oregon it's the law of the land.

Schmidt had written the council recently to request that it move swiftly to put the transit funding measure back on the May ballot as a local payroll tax, which would have put the burden of funding on local employers, as opposed to property owners who narrowly voted it down in November.

Because of the even year rule, Schmidt asked the council to continue funding the system through 2009 while laying the groundwork for a payroll tax vote in May 2010. A former head of the Bend Area Chamber of Commerce, Schmidt recommended that the city pursue an interim funding strategy that would take some of the pressure of the city's hard-hit general fund. One option, Schmidt wrote, is to raise the city's existing business tax from $50 to $100 for businesses of 10 or more people, or to add an additional "per employee" fee to the current $50. He likened such an approach to the Bend Chamber's membership fees, which he said work on a sliding scale. Fees for the smallest business (6-8) people run $286 per year at the Chamber, Schmidt wrote.

Reached on Tuesday, Schmidt said that he had yet to hear back from any of the councilors on his proposal, but had discussed it with City Manger Erik King.

Schmidt said he planned to attend this week's council meeting to plug the transit proposal in person during the public comments section.

"I'll continue to raise the flag," he said.


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