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Friday, December 31, 2010

New John Day Rafting Restrictions Released

Posted By on Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 12:39 AM

The BLM has issued new summer time boating rules for the John Day that will greatly restrict the number of boats allowed on the most popular stretches from late May to early July. Under the rules released on Thursday afternoon, which go into effect for the 2011 boating season, the BLM will allow a total of just nine boat trips to launch in the popular Clarno to Cottonwood section of the lower John Day between May 20 and July 1. Upstream, the BLM will limit access to 19 boat trips per day between May 20 and July 10, on the so called Segment 3 between Service Creek and Clarno.

Using some back of the napkin math that would amount to about 1140 total possible trips during the peak season next summer on Segment 3. By way of contrast, the BLM recorded almost 10,000 boater launches last year on Seg. 3 during the peak season.

The new rules which have been in the works for several years are an attempt by the BLM to enhance the wilderness experience for users on the popular John Day River, which has been designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic waterway, allowing the BLM special management authority. Under the proposed rules, the BLM estimates that boaters will see fewer other groups during their floats, reducing competition for campsites as well as degradation of the natural environment that accompanies over-use. To help enforce the rules, the BLM will require all boaters to register and obtain a pass before launching.

The pass may be available next year at no cost, but boaters should check with the BLM and make their boating plans early if they want to get on the river this summer.

 


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Bend Drivers Not Drunk, Just Texting!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 1:47 AM

I recently lost my Bluetooth headset. After finally giving up on the search, I’m planning to replace it soon at a cost of roughly $40. That will make $80 so far that I’ve spent on headsets for myself, another $40 for my wife’s Bluetooth and a grand total of $120, or thereabouts.

That’s about the equivalent of the fine that the state levies under the current cell phone ban law.  I know because I paid that, too. Or at least me wife did after she got pulled over for chatting on her phone while driving home from work. She had a lot of excuses. She’s too busy and distracted with two young kids to make her phone calls at home. She’s busy at work and needed to talk to one of her fellow students from her MBA class about an upcoming assignment. Like some other drivers that I’ve talked to she thought she would just toss the phone if she saw a cop. Well she did see a cop, but not before he saw her talking on her iPhone. Ironically, my Bluetooth headset (this was before I lost it) was sitting only a few inches from her phone in the center console. But it wasn’t set up for her handset and the Bend cop who stopped her was less than sympathetic.

So was I.

You see I’m not all that fond of my headset. I don’t like it sticking in my ear. I hate fumbling around with it. I didn’t like spending the money on it. But I also know the statistics about cell phone driving and the research is unequivocal: talking and texting while driving hugely increases your chance of getting into an accident. That means that you’re much more likely to hurt yourself and, more importantly, an innocent victim when you pick up your phone behind the wheel. Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed by “distracted” drivers and nearly a half million more were injured. According to federal studies, people texting – something that’s more common than many might think – are 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

This isn’t new information, we’ve known for years that cell phone use leads to accidents. In Oregon it’s been illegal for almost a year to drive and dial. Yet, it seems every time I drive across town I see someone yakking into his or her handset. I see mom’s chatting as they pull out of the school parking lot after dropping off their kids at my daughter’s elementary school. It seems everyone does it. One thing they almost always have in common is their poor driving – a result of their distraction. They don’t signal turns; they fail to yield. Often, they can’t even keep to their own lane. When I see someone make a stupid move, the first thing I do is look up to see if I can’t spot the tell tale left hand to the ear that let’s me know their attention is elsewhere. My favorite is when somebody cuts me off in a roundabout or at a four-way stop and then raises their hand and smiles to acknowledge that they’re not being rude – they’re just distracted. “Sorry, I’m on the phone, didn’t see you there,” they seem to be saying. Usually, I just blow it off. Nothing worth getting worked up about. And it’s not like I’ve never broken a rule of the road. But I wonder would it be any different If I pulled up a half empty bottle of Wild Turkey from between my legs and tipped it another driver’s direction, “Hey, sorry about that, I’m just a bit tipsy. No offense!”

Maybe we need bigger fines or more aggressive enforcement to get folks’ attention. Maybe as transportation secretary Roy La Hood hinted recently, we’ll need some sort of jamming device to stop drivers from breaking the law. I’m not sure what the answer is at this point. But I do know that there are a large number of drivers out there who just don’t get it. As a father of two young girls who are just starting to venture out on their bikes, that scares the hell out of me. I also realize that we’re on the front of the information revolution and that devices like the iPhone and Blackberry aren’t going away. My guess is that one day in the not too distant future we’ll look at cell phones and driving the same way we now look at drinking and driving: As an irresponsible and socially unacceptable mix that has serious legal consequences. Until then, I’ll keep waving and nodding – while muttering, “Idiot.”

 


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Um, Did Pat Robertson Say That We Should Legalize Marijuana?

Conservative Christian commentator Pat Robertson comes out in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 6:49 PM

Remember Pat Robertson, the aging hard-right Christian broadcaster known for, among other things, announcing that the earthquake in Haiti was a result of the nation's pact with the Devil?

Well, last week he seemed to indicate on his show The 700 Club, that he was in favor of decriminalizing marijuana (or perhaps reforming mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession), a statement that seems to fly in the face of the rhetoric Robertson and his followers typically espouse. His reasoning: we're spending too much on jails.

See for yourself:

You need to use a flashplayer enabled browser in order to view this video


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Redmond to Residents: Wait to Skate

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Ambitious plans to get an outdoor community ice rink up and running in Redmond’s Centennial Plaza this winter were scrapped earlier this week. According to a press release from the city of Redmond, the city’s plans hit a roadblock when arrangements to bring a compressor over from Portland fell through recently. Rather than keep searching around the city has decided to temporarily shelve the project until next year, allowing the city to complete some of the accompanying site work over the summer when it will be more cost effective. Redmond’s ice sheet would have been the third seasonal skating rink in Central Oregon and the first in Redmond (The other rinks are located at Seventh Mountain Resort and Sunriver). It was pitched as a desirable and relatively inexpensive winter amenity to the city’s downtown area and city leaders had hoped to have it up and running before the end of the year.

“The Council, Staff and I were really hoping that we could provide the residents of Redmond with an ice skating experience for the rest of the winter.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances we cannot overcome, we cannot make it happen this year,” Mayor George Endicott, said in the press release.

The city now hopes to have the rink up and running after next Thanksgiving for a three-month season. (EF)


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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DMV Decides Not to Pursue New Office Location in Bend

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:52 PM

After months of protests by residents in neighbors off of Brookswood Blvd. on the southwest side of Bend, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced today that it would no longer pursue a DMV location in a shopping center in that area.

In the letter to the owner of the space, W. Scott Lovejoy III, the DMV says that the lease is void because the space could not be prepared in time for the planned January move in.

The current Bend DMV will continue at its current location on the north end of Bend.


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Friday, December 3, 2010

Central Oregon's Email Subject Line of the Day

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 1:25 AM

One of the great privileges of sitting in my chair is the opportunity to wade through hundreds of emails and press releases each week for the chance of finding just one small nugget that could possibly be of interest or relevance. It’s captivating stuff. Then every once in awhile you see something that catches your eye, like the following email that came through from the Sheriff’s office this afternoon. I wish I knew how to write headlines like that -- without even a trace of irony.

I could probably upload the document, but really what else do you need to know.??


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arnold Concedes Bend City Council Seat to Ramsay

Scott Ramsay wins the hotly contested Bend City Council race after a recount.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Just off the phone with council candidate Chuck Arnold who informed that he has conceded the final council seat from last month's election to his opponent Scott Ramsay, following a hand recount that determined Ramsay edged Arnold by a razor-thin three vote margin. An upbeat Arnold said that he felt very positive about the recount process and confident that the hand recount was accurate. Arnold, who also serves as the executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, said he looks forward to working with the council and Ramsay.

"I'm still going to be around," said Arnold, who when asked about the possibility of a future campaign, said he had not ruled it out.

"A lot change in 24 months. I feel really good. It was a great campaign. I have no regrets about how any of this went."

Got to run, but I'll try to get a comment from Ramsay before the end of the day.


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