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The Long-Overdue OLCC Intervention 

In an intervention, the friends and family of somebody who's addicted to booze, drugs, gambling or whatever get him in a room and grill him

In an intervention, the friends and family of somebody who's addicted to booze, drugs, gambling or whatever get him in a room and grill him intensively to persuade him to clean up his act.

Last week, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office staged an intervention with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. It was long overdue. And we sure as hell hope it works.

What prompted the intervention was a history of serious friction, going back years, between local bar, restaurant and event managers and OLCC Bend Regional Manager Jason Evers. The liquor dispensers accused Evers of acting like a banana republic dictator, enforcing OLCC rules arbitrarily, irrationally, inconsistently and in some cases vindictively.

Local government officials deemed the complaints serious enough and credible enough to write a letter to Kulongoski last month saying things had reached "the breaking point" with the OLCC and Evers. "We are convinced that this agency is unfairly and arbitrarily enforcing Oregon's rules concerning the sale of alcohol in public places, and that their practices are causing unacceptable damage to our local businesses ... " said the letter, which was signed by all seven Bend city councilors and all three Deschutes County commissioners.

Last week, after what we have no doubt was a quiet and friendly discussion with members of the governor's staff, the OLCC agreed to have its problems investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice. In what was ostensibly an independent move, Evers was transferred out of Bend and temporarily reassigned to Medford.

Both moves were the right thing to do. We have every confidence that Attorney General John Kroger's DOJ will do a tough, thorough and honest job of finding out just what was going on in Bend under the Evers regime. And by removing Evers from the scene, local bar and restaurant operators who might have been deterred by fear of retaliation will be more likely to come forward with their stories.

Evers is entitled to the presumption of innocence, of course, and the OLCC says his official record is clean. However, he has a history of complaints and questions about his credibility, and we think it's legitimate to ask whether he should continue to hold a position of responsibility in the agency.

What to do about the OLCC in the long run is another, more complicated story. We've said in the past that it's time to undertake a thorough review and overhaul of its rules and procedures, some of which probably were enacted when Al Capone was still a 12 year old heisting hub caps. The Department of Justice investigation might help jump-start that process.

As everybody knows, an intervention is only the first - and easiest - step toward recovery. The hard part - rehab - comes later. Hopefully the state has taken the crucial first step in the long and difficult process of rehabilitating the OLCC.

In the meantime, we're giving the GLASS SLIPPER to Kulongoksi for stepping in and intervening - and THE BOOT to Evers to help him, politely, along the road down to Medford.


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