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Friday, October 31, 2008

Bachelor's Pay More, Deliver Less Strategy

The Eye doesn't agree with Bulletin Editor John Costa about very many things, but one thing Costa says has always made a lot of sense

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 9:34 AM

The Eye doesn't agree with Bulletin Editor John Costa about very many things, but one thing Costa says has always made a lot of sense to us: You can't offer less and charge more and expect to get more customers.


So what's up with Mt. Bachelor's decision to raise Saturday lift ticket prices in the teeth of what promises to be a real bear of a recession?

The mountain announced today that the cost of an adult lift ticket on Saturdays will jump by $10, to $69. Teen lift tickets for Saturdays will jump by $12, to $59 from $47. And tickets for kids between age 6 and 12 will increase by eight bucks, to $42 from $34.

Naturally, Bachelor officials are trying to spin this as something positive: "In order to maintain an enjoyable on-mountain experience while accommodating a larger number of season passholders, starting this season the Saturday single day ticket will be 'peak' priced." They also describe the increase as "modest."

We don't see how a 23% price hike can be called "modest." "Hefty" is the adjective that first comes to mind. Under the new price schedule, it will cost a couple with a 10-year-old kid $180 to spend a Saturday at the mountain. A weekend (Saturday and Sunday) will cost $331.

That is a considerable chunk of change. It is more than one-third of the American median weekly household income. Who the hell does Bachelor think can or will pay that kind of money - especially at a resort that has been plagued with complaints of long lines, frequent lift breakdowns and poor trail grooming?

With the economy in the tank, stocks plunging, foreclosures rising and gas prices high, it appears to The Eye that Bachelor ought to be moving in the opposite direction price-wise.

Of course Powdr Corp., the Utah-based outfit that owns Bachelor, has the right to run its business as it sees fit - including running it into the ground, if that's what it really wants. But this decision could further cripple the already limping Bend economy by cutting down the flow of winter visitors from Portland, the Valley and points north, south and east.

It's looking more and more like a long, grim winter.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Could Cruz Cruise Out of Drake Park?

The Flashback Cruz has always been one of The Eye's favorite Bend summer events. We're not really a car aficionado, but it's still fun to

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

The Flashback Cruz has always been one of The Eye's favorite Bend summer events. We're not really a car aficionado, but it's still fun to go down to Drake Park and look over all the polished-to-perfection, tricked-out classic and exotic vehicles.


Cruz fans might miss out next year, though, because (according to a story in today's Bulletin) the Bend Metro Park & Rec District thinks the event might be too big and noisy for Drake Park and is holding off on issuing a permit for it.

According to The Bulletin's front-page story (sorry, available on-line only to subscribers) "Joan Spongberg, who organizes the Flashback Cruz, said she's never had any trouble getting her event approved in the past. But this year, she said officials told her they're concerned about the impact all of the people and cars have on the grass at Drake Park and the traffic and noise levels in the neighborhood around it."

The story also says that Ed Moore, the district's park services director, said the decision to delay the permit "was also prompted in part by complaints from neighbors of Drake Park and other facilities about noise, parking and other issues."

Aha. No doubt these are the same Drake Park neighbors who complain tirelessly about every big event in the park, from the (late lamented) Cascade Festival of Music to Munchin Music to the Fourth of July community picnic.

Here's some advice, Drake Park neighbors: When you bought your million-dollar homes near the park, you must have known - or sure as hell should have known - that they were near a PUBLIC park and that PUBLIC events were held there on a regular basis in the summer. Sorry to belabor the point, but once again, this is a PUBLIC park, not your private preserve.

If you, like The EYE, want to see Drake Park remain a public park that hosts events like the Flashback Cruz, you can let Park & Rec Executive Director Don Horton know about it: Don@bendparksandrec.org.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The GOP's Human Pinata

Pity Tucker Bounds, U of O grad and John McCain's spokesman for the state of Oregon. Beating up on him has become a favorite pastime

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Pity Tucker Bounds, U of O grad and John McCain's spokesman for the state of Oregon. Beating up on him has become a favorite pastime of the media ... both left and right.


It started when CNN's Campbell Brown grilled the boyish Bounds about Sarah Palin's qualifications and experience to be commander in chief. Bounds mumbled and fumbled and tried to deflect to a discussion of John McCain's qualifications, then talked about Palin's experience as commander of the Alaska National Guard. (Brown quickly pointed out that governors don't command Guard units when they're in combat zones, such as Iraq.)

The Bounds-bashing continued with Norah O'Donnell of MSNBC getting her whacks in, and then Megyn Kelly of Fox News - FOX NEWS! - taking her best shots.

"Bounds has become a human piñata like [former White House Press Secretaries] Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan before him, as the media hold him responsible for the crimes of his boss, who they can't get at," comments Gawker.com, which has put together an amusing video pastiche of the three interviews.

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Dems Try to Tie Stevens to Smith

The Eye almost - ALMOST - has to feel sorry for the GOP: Just when it seems that things can't get any worse ... they

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 9:51 AM

The Eye almost - ALMOST - has to feel sorry for the GOP: Just when it seems that things can't get any worse ... they do.


The latest blow to the party's prestige and credibility came with the conviction yesterday of Alaska's veteran Republican Sen. Ted Stevens on seven federal counts of corruption for letting an Alaska oil business pick up the tab for extensive renovations of the senator's home.

The Jeff Merkley campaign lost no time in seizing the opportunity to try to tie the Alaska corruption case to incumbent Sen. Gordon "I'm Not Really a Republican" Smith. In a statement issued yesterday, the Merkley camp called on Smith to return all $39,000 in campaign money he's gotten in recent years from Stevens, who's one of the GOP's champion fund-raisers.

"Gordon Smith has benefited personally and politically from Ted Stevens and his fountain of cash," said Matt Canter, Merkley campaign spokesman. "Smith should have done the right thing and returned the money when Stevens was first indicted, but he should certainly do the right thing now."

There could be a problem with that, because Smith says nearly half of the money has already been spent.

According to politicker.com, Smith turned $10,000 over to charity after Stevens was indicted in July plus another $10,000 in September after he went through donations to a previous campaign. "As for the remaining $19,000, Smith spokesman Brooks Kochvar has said that money was spent in a prior campaign."

But the Merkleyites are claiming the second $10,000 was "redirected to Smith's pocket." Politicker.com said Smith's office could not be reached for comment.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Right-Wingers' Credibility Gets Carved Up

When the story about McCain campaign worker Ashley Todd being attacked by an Obama supporter who carved the letter B into her cheek appeared on

Posted By on Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 11:05 AM

When the story about McCain campaign worker Ashley Todd being attacked by an Obama supporter who carved the letter B into her cheek appeared on The Drudge Report, right-wing news media gobbled it up like a kid with an ice cream cone - and none more enthusiastically than the NW Republican blog.


"The dirtbag who attacked her was (or is) a supporter of Barack Obama," wrote "Hairy Reed."

"How many McCain supporters do you know of that have robbed someone at knife-point and then carved an 'M' in their face?

"This story is disgusting on so many levels. I am certainly not saying that all NObama supporters believe they should carve letters in the faces of McCain supporters, but you get the feeling listening to these moonbats, and the way they revere 'The One,' that eventually anyone who doesn't agree with NObama is going to be persecuted in some way.

"This is a sad, sad day."

It got even sadder and hairier for Hairy and other right-wingers when it came out that Todd had made the whole story up.

Reasonable people were suspicious from the start. For one thing, there were no witnesses to the alleged attack. The letter B on Ashley's face looked more like a welt than something inflicted with a knife. And the letter was BACKWARDS, as if Ashley had branded it on her own cheek while looking in a mirror.

Also the story followed a classic racist stereotype: Big Scary Black Man attacks innocent little white woman.

But McCain supporters are desperate to believe anything that might possibly help their man's floundering campaign, so they seized on this transparently bogus tale.

After the truth came out, NW Republican blogmaster Ted Piccolo ("I Am Coyote") issued an apology ... sort of:

"I am not the author of this post so I don't want to speak for them. I did however want to post my two cents at the top of this thread, because unlike the liberal blogs or mainstream newspapers, I eat my crow or criticize my own when it is appropriate.

"I have been out of the office all day today so I had no idea this story had developed to the point that this was a McCain supporter making the entire thing up and trying to blame it on Obama supporters.

"She [Todd] is a lying nag and should live the rest of her life shamed for trying to turn this into something it is not. She is no better than the pro-Obama kid who hacked into Gov. Palin's email in an attempt to find 'something.'

"It must be noted that this post was created in response to a news story. And the news story was wrong.

"I have also closed down the comments because obviously some of the moonbats have no idea how to carry on a conversation."

The Eye feels nothing but sympathy for Todd, who reportedly has a history of mental problems. But we have to wonder what goes on in the minds of Republicans who eagerly passed on this crap with no effort to check on its accuracy or reality. What kind of wine would you like with that crow, Coyote?

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Smith Assails McCain Tactic

Sen. Gordon "I'm Not Really a Republican" Smith has made another gesture to distance himself from his party, becoming the fourth Republican senator to denounce

Posted By on Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Sen. Gordon "I'm Not Really a Republican" Smith has made another gesture to distance himself from his party, becoming the fourth Republican senator to denounce John McCain's scurrilous "robocalls" against Barack Obama.


In a statement to The Huffington Post, Smith spokesperson Lindsay Gilbride said the calls "are not taking place in Oregon and Senator Smith does not condone these sort of calls. Negative robocalls are not appropriate and have no place in campaigns."

The calls attempt to link Obama to Bill Ayers, who was involved in domestic terrorism in the 1960s (when Obama was about 8 years old) and in more recent times has served with Obama on a couple of foundation boards. McCain has defended the robocalls as accurate and legitimate.

"Even as the campaign tactic has courted disdain from fellow Republicans, it's not clear that the robo calls have helped McCain's campaign," blogs Seth Coulter Wells on HuffPo. "A CNN poll released this week showed that most Americans now believe that McCain's attacks against Obama are unfair.

"It's not hard to figure why Smith's camp made the move to officially distance itself from the McCain robocalls: Obama is on pace to handily carry the state on November 4.

"Meanwhile, according to Pollster.com's average of surveys in Oregon, the two-term Smith is running behind his challenger, Democratic State House Speaker Jeff Merkley."

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stop the Presses! Bulletin Backs Republican!

What a stunner - The Bulletin endorsed John McCain this morning.

Posted By on Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 8:36 AM

What a stunner - The Bulletin endorsed John McCain this morning.


The Eye's immediate impulse was to call circulation and cancel our subscription forthwith. Upon reflection, we decided not to do it because (a) it wouldn't accomplish anything except to vent our anger, (b) the endorsement is meaningless because the only people who pay attention to Bulletin endorsements would vote for McCain anyway and (c) the rest of the paper contains worthwhile news once in a while, although the idiotorial page has become nothing but right-wing vomit.

Therefore The Eye will continue to be a subscriber, but will never look at the idiotorial page again and will toss the Perspective section of the Sunday paper (including John Costa's weekly self-congratulatory column) into the recycling bin as soon as it arrives.

The late, lamented Editor Bob Chandler was a staunch Republican but he was a man of integrity and couldn't bring himself to endorse Ronald Reagan because he thought Reagan was an incompetent boob. The Eye is glad Bob didn't live to see the Bush presidency. It would've killed him.

Meanwhile, as The Bulletin idiotorial page was endorsing McCain, Colin Powell went on "Meet the Press" the morning to endorse Barack Obama. We'll see who carries more weight.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Long Day for Destination Resorts

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:26 PM

It was a long day for destination resorts Wednesday.

People who picked up their morning paper might have read today over a cup of coffee that Tetherow resort, which is located just outside Bend's city limits on Century Drive, had scrapped plans for its "luxury" hotel because of financing problems. According to the story, the resort's developers are being sued by the architects who worked on the design for the building to the tune of 700 grand. Lot sales, too, appear to have stagnated at Tetherow along with most of the other destination resorts. Just six lots have sold since June at Tetherow with hundreds still available.

If this storyline sounds familiar, that's because it is. Pronghorn, the exclusive resort north of the Bend airport off the Powell Butte highway, has yet to build its promised hotel - some five years after the resort started selling lots and developing its TWO golf courses. So far the resort has received four extensions from the county, the latest stretching to 2013. How's that for holding their feet to the fire.

While most folks were digesting the news that Tetherow is taking on water, Crook County commissioners were busy rescinding their entire destination resort map, essentially putting a moratorium on any new resorts. According to a report earlier today in the Oregonian, commissioners said they were compelled to take the action after a large majority of county voters endorsed a referendum directing the county to withdraw the map. The overlay maps are required by state law in any county that seeks to attract destination resorts, and at this point it's not clear what direction Crook County will go.

It had already been a long day for resort developers and their backers (as well as their army of attorneys) and it wasn't even lunch. By mid-afternoon, developers were under the microscope again in Prineville when the Department of Land Conservation and Development and several state legislators held a field hearing to discuss the impact of resorts on Oregon, particularly Central Oregon. The department kicked off the hearing by telling attendees many of whom were already aware, that the it was going to introduce legislation that would give the agency greater power to regulate the industry, which currently is governed by state law and local codes that have been designed to implement those laws.

Commissioners and state legislators got an earful, though, from many opponents of the resorts, including a strong contingent of Powell Butte residents who said their rural way of life was being undermined by the proliferation of resorts in their community. Others, including former state legislator Charlie Ringo, had strong words for the industry, which Ringo described as masquerading as something it is not.

"Pronghorn, Remington Ranch, Brasada. These things are not destination resorts - they're rural subdivisions. It's a sham to call them destination resorts," Ringo said.

He described dropping by Pronghorn after a day in the outdoors with his son to see if they could get something to eat. He didn't have to finish the story, though, before the room broke out in spontaneous laughter at the notion of walking into Pronghorn.

Ringo of course was turned away at the resort's locked gate.

It's an example, he said, of how so-called resorts have become exclusive subdivisions for millionaires. And while they may be profitable for some, including the county tax collectors, they are certainly not what Oregonians had in mind when they created the destination resort laws 25 years ago.

He suggested that the state impose an immediate moratorium while it studies the issue. Others seconded his opinion. Meanwhile those in the industry, defended the economic impact of resorts and called for caution. They assured the commission that the market had already put the brakes on development and welcomed a renewed look at the destination resorts - provided that they have a seat at the table.

I didn't stay for the conclusion of the hearing, but state officials did outline their plan for the coming year, starting with drafting and introducing legislation to give them a greater role in oversight of the industry and the framework of state planning laws that guide it. At that point, the commission would like form a working group to consult with the department of land conservation and development and begin an in depth study of the resort industry in Oregon and its impacts. DLCD staff made clear that they weren't sure what the outcome would be. In some cases though, they said, it could result in a strengthening of rules to protect things like wildlife, farmland and natural resources, and in other cases it could result in a loosening of rules to provide local government more flexibility and control. The only question now: Is it too little, too late?


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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sizemore Has a Rough Day in Court

Things are looking pretty grim for anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore, who admitted in court yesterday that he's spent more than $660,000 from a tax-exempt foundation

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Things are looking pretty grim for anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore, who admitted in court yesterday that he's spent more than $660,000 from a tax-exempt foundation on personal items.


As reported in The Oregonian, Sizemore acknowledged spending money from the American Tax Research Foundation, which he set up in Nevada two years ago, on such things as "a car for his wife, braces for his daughter, part of a time-share apartment in Mexico and 15 1-ounce gold pieces." (At today's prices the gold would be worth approximately $13,290.)

Two teachers' unions, the Oregon Education Association and American Federal of Teachers-Oregon, have hauled Sizemore into court on a charge that he's violated a 2003 injunction prohibiting him from using a tax-exempt foundation for political purposes.

"Gregory A. Hartman, the unions' lawyer, said that between 2006 and 2008, Sizemore wrote checks from the foundation account for $660,326, almost all of it for his own benefit," The Oregonian reported. "Sizemore also charged another $88,176 to a foundation debit card at Wells Fargo, Hartman said.

"He said money from the foundation was used to pay more than $20,000 to an auction house that handled the sale of Sizemore's house in Clackamas County after he moved to Klamath Falls, and to pay $133,255 in attorneys' fees that Sizemore owed to the unions for an earlier phase in their legal battle."

The bulk of the money for Sizemore's foundation has come from Loren Parks, a Nevada multimillionaire, and Richard Wendt, co-founder of Jeld-Wen. The unions charge that the foundation is a phony organization used as a personal money-making scheme for Sizemore.

"Mr. Sizemore is the ringmaster," Hartman said in his closing argument. "Mr. Sizemore is the one who makes it all work. He leveraged that into circumstances where he received very substantial amounts of money from ATRF."

Sizemore's lawyer, Gregory Byrne, didn't deny that his client had taken money from the foundation for personal expenses and said he didn't know whether that was illegal. But he argued that the injunction wasn't violated because the money hadn't been used for political purposes.

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Destination Resorts: Take Your Best Shot

Destination resorts - love 'em or hate 'em? You'll be able to have your say next Wednesday.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Destination resorts - love 'em or hate 'em? You'll be able to have your say next Wednesday.


The state Department of Land Conservation and Development will be holding an "informational hearing" on the general topic of destination resorts at 3 pm Oct. 15 in Prineville City Hall, 387 NE 3rd St. Besides taking comments on the destination resort issue, the DLCD will present a summary of existing destination resort law and its "legislative concept" on destination resorts for the 2009 legislative session.

There's no need to sign up in advance to testify, but individual speakers probably will be limited to three minutes. Written testimony has to be submitted at least five days prior to the hearing. For all the details, go here.

"This may be the only field hearing on this topic prior to the 2009 legislative session, so if you have views to express regarding destination resorts, this is the time to do it," writes Erik Kancler, executive director of Central Oregon LandWatch. "If you have concerns about destination resorts, it's critical to let DLCD and the legislative committee know so that they can have an opportunity to consider whether or not to incorporate them in planned legislation."

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Putting a Sunshiney Face on the Economy

The Eye tuned in OPB this morning to listen to the "Think Out Loud" program (taped Monday) about the slumping Bend economy and learned that

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 1:25 PM

The Eye tuned in OPB this morning to listen to the "Think Out Loud" program (taped Monday) about the slumping Bend economy and learned that the Doctrine of Bend Exceptionalism is still alive, if not exactly well, despite the bursting of the real estate bubble.


The Doctrine of Bend Exceptionalism is the faith that Bend is such a special, unique, extraordinary, remarkably wonderful place to live that we are immune to the normal vicissitudes of real estate (and other) markets.

Two of the three panelists on the show - Mayor Bruce Abernethy and Andy High of the Central Oregon Builders Association - are clearly in the Bend boomer-booster camp. The third, Corky Senechal of Neighbor Impact, was there to provide a reality check on the harsh economic facts of life in Bend - high prices, low wages, poverty and homelessness.

Frank Fiedler of the Infrastructure First group was in the audience and raised some good points about how Bend's roads, sewer system and other basic public services are lagging behind the pace of growth.

While acknowledging the city has to tighten its belt, Abernethy tried hard to put a positive spin on the local economy - he's the mayor, after all - citing the aviation industry and alternative energy development as promising growth areas. "We're trying to tout our horn [sic] all that we can" in terms of promoting green energy development, he said.

Probably more than anything, The Eye was struck by the number of times Bend's sunshine was cited as a reason why the area will attract residents and businesses and make an economic comeback. Hey guys, we need to face the fact that Bend is not the only place on Earth where the sun shines. (It also isn't the only place that has mountains, golf courses and lakes.) These amenities are nice, but do businesses really care about them when they're looking for a location - or are they more interested in stuff like a quality workforce, good transportation links, low energy costs and affordable housing for their employees?

Some of the on-line comments during the show were far more interesting and provocative than anything the panelists said.

"The number one priority of our local government should be in obtaining family wage jobs," wrote David Skelton, a local real estate appraiser. "The status quo group of Realtors, Politicos, Developers and the Bend Bulletin believe that we should be building additional resorts. While tourism brings needed dollars and businesses to our area, the minimum wage jobs these industries spawn does nothing to raise the standard of living for the majority of Central Oregonians. The developing of our land, for resort use, benefits those at the top of our economic food chain with very little dribble down to the majority of Central Oregonians. The time, effort and money wasted by our local government spent in kowtowing to this cartel would be much better spent in wooing businesses to the area with tax breaks and/or other benefits."

"Bend has a history of boom and bust; out-of-state developers and quick-turn real estate types have come and gone before," wrote Joan Mann. "While times are very difficult, I also see greater opportunity for community in the larger sense of the word during these times when money isn't the overriding goal. People seem more human and genuine during these tougher times here than when people are 'rolling in the quick-turns.'"

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Inside Bill Sizemore's Brain

Plenty of celebrities have their own fan sites on the Web, but damn few have their own ANTI-fan sites. And now Bill Sizemore has joined

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 4:22 PM

Plenty of celebrities have their own fan sites on the Web, but damn few have their own ANTI-fan sites. And now Bill Sizemore has joined that distinguished company.


The new site, NoMoreSizemore.com, was put up by the Defend Oregon Coalition, a group originally formed to oppose the so-called "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" (TABOR) initiative, an anti-government-spending measure.

"Unless you're a cave dweller (not that there's anything wrong with that), you've probably heard of Bill Sizemore, the enormous git who makes a living from pushing ballot initiatives that invariably fail, but cost his opponents millions in 'pushback dollars' in the process," writes "Torrid Joe" on Loaded Orygun. "And, oh yeah, he's got a shady criminal record too - he's currently back in court fighting contempt charges, based on the fact that he (or any of his cash cow organizations that hide his money and support his business) has yet to pay a dime in retribution for previous convictions.

"Speaking of the money trail, the court proceedings have revealed some details about just how much Sizemore has gotten from his campaigns, mostly from Señor Love Daddy of the Desert, Loren Parks. The exceedingly wrinkled Parks is said to have pushed hundreds of thousands of dollars Sizemore's way ... BEYOND what he was putting into the campaign coffers of Sizemore's initiatives."

With the help of Parks's generosity, and despite his legal troubles, Sizemore has succeeded in placing five measures - 58, 59, 60, 63 and 64 - on the November ballot.

"Bill Sizemore has used every trick in the book to get his measures on the ballot," the NoMoreSizemore site says. "He makes his money by qualifying them, and he has no regard for the impact of his measures on Oregonians."

The site contains information about Sizemore's political activities, legal problems and fundraising sources. The Eye suggests taking a look at it - it's pretty funny stuff, especially the opening animation.

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