It's good to know people in high places. Just ask Keith Cyrus and his family.Cyrus, the descendant of five generations of Central Oregonians, is a member of the Deschutes County Planning Commission. He also is the developer of Aspen Lakes, a tony golf course subdivision near Sisters.
For years, Cyrus and his family have dreamed of turning Aspen Lakes into a destination resort. That would entail adding about 500 acres and 500 homes, plus lodging for tourists and nine more holes of golf.
But there was a snag: Deschutes County is in the process of redrawing the map showing where destination resorts could go, with the idea of excluding lands that wouldn't normally be eligible for destination resort status - including already-built subdivisions like Aspen Lakes.
That's where knowing people in high places paid off. Last spring, Cyrus's fellow planning commissioners approved an exemption that opened the door for "cluster subdivisions" to become resorts. There are only four subdivisions like that in the county - one of them being Aspen Lakes.
Cyrus carefully recused himself from voting on the destination resort remap issue, but he personally advocated for his own cause both during and outside of public planning commission meetings. Some people, including us, thought the whole situation was malodorous enough that Cyrus shouldn't remain on the planning commission. But when his term expired last month, the Deschutes County Commission voted to extend it for 60 days.
That wasn't the only nice thing the three commissioners did for Cyrus. On June 7, at the urging of Keith Cyrus and his son Matt, they passed a last-minute amendment to a resort remapping ordinance. The issue gets kind of technical, but the gist of it is that the commissioners carved out a special loophole for the Cyruses to slip their resort through.
Matt Cyrus lobbied the commissioners pretty intensely, meeting separately with each of them the week before the vote and even e-mailing Planning Director Nick Lelack the suggested language for the amendment.
Slight problem: The public comment period (at least for regular folks) had closed before Matt Cyrus did his lobbying and before the amendment was introduced.
At that point the drama turned into farce. The commissioners, sensing that their wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am maneuver might not have been quite kosher, legally speaking, repealed the ordinance in question and agreed to hold a public hearing on it - and what might be called "the Cyrus Amendment" - at the end of this month.
We have no doubt that Keith and Matt Cyrus are both nice guys and pillars of the community, although we wish they showed a little more sensitivity to ethical nuances. And we can't blame them for trying to look out for their own interests.
But the job of the county commissioners is to look out for the interests of the whole county, and they appeared to have not even thought about that this time. For that failure - and for the general Three Stooges-worthy performance they've given on the Cyrus issue - they richly deserve, and do hereby receive, THE BOOT.