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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Highway 97 Deaths: We Need The Wall

How many more people are going to have to die before ODOT installs a Jersey wall on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 9:43 AM

 

How many more people are going to have to die before ODOT installs a Jersey wall on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond?

 


 

A Prineville couple in their 60s were killed yesterday afternoon when another vehicle swerved to avoid a pickup towing a trailer and veered across the highway into their traffic lane, hitting their car head-on. Daniel York, 63, was dead at the scene, and Madge York, 61, was DOA at St. Charles.

Head-ons are the most lethal type of collision, and they're precisely the kind that the Jersey wall (so called because it was first used on the New Jersey Turnpike) is great at preventing. The concrete barrier - typically about three feet high - is designed to stop a vehicle from crossing over into oncoming traffic and send it back into its own lane.

ODOT already has installed a Jersey wall along a stretch of 97 south of Bend near Lava Butte, making that formerly deadly section of highway a lot safer.

When you have large numbers of cars and trucks traveling at 60 or 70 miles an hour with nothing to separate them but lines of paint - not to mention the potential for snowy and/or icy conditions much of the year - tragedies like yesterday's are bound to happen.

According to its website, ODOT's Number One goal is to "improve safety." With a multibillion-dollar budget, ODOT seems to have plenty of money to tear up asphalt and put it down again all over the state. So why can't it spend a few bucks on a truly life-saving measure?

UPDATE: Peter Murphy, spokesman for ODOT's Central Oregon office, said the agency plans eventually to install barriers on 97, but there's no timetable for getting it done.

"Over time we do plan on having the stretch with barriers all the way from Bend to Redmond," he said. "We recognize that it needs to be done; it's just the matter of doing it when we have the resources to do it."

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Random Wanderings Through Jersey

The Eye wandered East to our New Jersey birthplace to spend Thanksgiving with relatives and came back with a few random observations:

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 3:25 PM

 

The Eye wandered East to our New Jersey birthplace to spend Thanksgiving with relatives and came back with a few random observations:


 

The trip once again demonstrated how utterly full of crap the arguments in favor of self-serve gas are. The biggest of them, of course, is that if Oregonians allow self-serve we'll pay less for gas.

Jersey is the only state other than Oregon that forbids self-serve by law. (When New Jersey Gov. John Corzine tried to lift the ban on a limited, tentative basis this month he ran into a political buzz saw.)

So Jerseyans must be paying an arm and a leg for gas, right?

Wrong. Prices for regular are hovering around $1.70 a gallon. In Long Island, NY - practically next door - they're around $2, according to Mapquest's latest data. And New York is a self-serve state.

If anybody out there really believes self-serve would mean lower prices for consumers, I have some oceanfront real estate in Wyoming to sell you. What happens with self-serve is that the gas station owner puts one schlub inside a bulletproof cubicle to collect your money, pockets what he would have paid the pump jockeys and leaves you to wrestle with hoses and slosh gas on your shoes.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country (more than 1,100 people per square mile, compared to about 39 for Oregon) but they've managed to preserve a surprising amount of open space. Driving through central Jersey we passed acres of cornfields, pasture and woodlands somewhat incongruously stuck out in the middle of the shopping malls and office parks.

This is thanks in part to the state's Green Acres Program, created "to achieve, in partnership with others, a system of interconnected open spaces, whose protection will preserve and enhance New Jersey's natural environment and its historic, scenic, and recreational resources for public use and enjoyment."

The Green Acres Program, it should be noted, was started in 1961 - long before Oregon's supposedly "landmark" state land use laws went into effect. Through 1995 New Jersey voters passed nine bond issues providing a total of more than $1.4 billion for the program. Ten years ago they passed a referendum to provide permanent funding.

Driving to and from our hotel and our relative's house we had to pass what appeared to be a pretty significant highway construction project. Traffic slowed in both directions (it was only a one-lane road) to creep past the workers and equipment, but it didn't come to a full stop.

If we had been in Oregon there would have been a brigade of flaggers and a pilot car, and traffic would have been backed up for five miles in both directions.

Also, incredibly, one time we saw one of the highway construction workers actually running - well, okay, trotting. You'll never see an ODOT worker doing that unless he's trying to escape from an oncoming landslide.

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Turncoat Joe Gave $5,000 to Gordo

It was no secret that Joe Lieberman supported John McCain. But it came as a surprise Wednesday when campaign finance reports revealed that he also

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 4:38 AM

 

It was no secret that Joe Lieberman supported John McCain. But it came as a surprise Wednesday when campaign finance reports revealed that he also gave money to Gordon Smith.

 


 

Lieberman, a longtime Democratic senator from Connecticut, won re-election as an independent after losing his party primary in 2006. Ever since he's been playing both sides of the fence, caucusing with Senate Democrats but hopping into bed with the Republicans on national secutiry issues and the Iraq war.

Lieberman endorsed McCain, made a speech at the Republican National Convention, stumped with McCain and made statements questioning Barack Obama's patriotism.

In spite of all that, Senate Democrats voted 42-13 to allow Lieberman to keep the prestigious chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. It's not known whether Senator-elect Jeff Merkley was one of the 13 "no" votes. But according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday, he and Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of Utah made "symbolically important" conciliatory speeches before the vote.

However, the Post went on, "no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley's opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith. Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith's reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission."

Lieberman also give verbal and/or financial support to other Republican congressional candidates, including Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Rep. Peter Smith of New York.

"Beyond the implications for the party, the senior Congressional circuit and in fact the country, Oregonians now must mull over the idea that Holy Joe actively sought to saddle us with Gordon Smith for another six years," commented "Torrid Joe" on the Loaded Orygun blog. "Ready to kick him in the jewels yet?"

Evidently Merkley isn't; his office issued a kiss-and-make-up statement. "We were surprised to hear this news [about the Smith contribution], but it's time to put the election behind us. Jeff Merkley is looking forward to working with all his new colleagues on an agenda that will put our nation back on track," Merkley spokesperson Julie Edwards told the Post.

Well, yeah, all this kumbaya stuff is okay, we guess, but isn't there a principle at stake? The Eye might be too naïve, but if you reward a turncoat and backstabber with an important committee chairmanship, isn't that a slap in the face to everybody who's loyal to the party?

And wouldn't it have been gratifying to see our new senator at least display a little righteous indignation instead of rolling over like a puppy wanting to have his belly rubbed?

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another Present for Bend Developers

The Bend Urban Area Planning Commission is wrapping up a little early Christmas present for the local builder/developer lobby.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 5:45 AM

The Bend Urban Area Planning Commission is wrapping up a little early Christmas present for the local builder/developer lobby.


 

Under the existing city code, development approvals expire after one year and the city development director has the authority to grant a one-year extension. But on Dec. 8, the commission will consider a change that will allow what amounts to indefinite extensions.

Under the revised code, the community development director will be able to "grant one or more additional extensions beyond one year if authorized by a City Council resolution which recognizes a city-wide need for an additional limited-duration extension."

As one anonymous individual commented on the BendBubble2 blog: "This means that projects that barely made sense during the 'good times' will get a reprieve and can be resurrected years later without community input to determine if they still make sense or are compatible with surrounding neighborhoods."

If you have something to say about this latest gift to the developers and builders, you'll find the e-mail addresses of the planning commission members here. But do it soon - the deadline for comments is Dec. 1.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blaring TVs Add Travail to Travel

The word "travel" comes from the same root as the word "travail," meaning "hard and painful labor." This is not a coincidence.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 5:09 AM

The word "travel" comes from the same root as the word "travail," meaning "hard and painful labor." This is not a coincidence.

 


The Wandering Eye is enduring travel/travail this week as we head back East to spend Thanksgiving with relatives. We won't dwell on the arduous labors of going through security, schlepping luggage for miles through airports, sitting for hours in an airplane seat that would cramp a 6-year-old and arriving in New York to find that your bags have been sent to Atlanta. You know all about that stuff.

What we want to write about in this post is the ubiquitous, inescapable, obnoxious presence of televisions.

We arrived at roughly 7:15 am yesterday in Seattle, where we had to catch our non-stop to the East Coast. We had a layover of about 90 minutes. We had been awake since 4 am, and we were looking forward to maybe napping for a few minutes, or at least relaxing with our book and our iPod.

No way. There was a huge flat-screen TV hanging over the waiting area, and CNN was blasting away at top volume. (While we're on the subject, why is it that the hosts of morning news/ talk shows SCREAM every word? Do they figure they have to wake people up? Or are they buzzed from 90 cups of coffee?)

There didn't seem to be any overwhelming public demand for TV in the waiting area. There were probably a couple of hundred people there, and we didn't see more than a dozen of them watching it. But there it was, and there was no way to turn it off or turn it down.

This morning, in the hotel where we're staying - otherwise a pretty nice place, BTW - we went downstairs to enjoy the complimentary breakfast. Sure enough, there was another big flat-screen TV blasting away. At 7 am.

We were luckier this time, though - the remote was available and we were able to turn the damn thing off.

Why do the people who run airports and hotels think they have to keep everybody "entertained" (whether they want to be or not) with non-stop TV? Do they think we're like the mental asylum inmates in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" who need to have the TV on all the time as a sort of pacifier? Do they think we're all drooling cretins who can't occupy ourselves for even a few minutes without some external distraction?

If they think those things, they're wrong. And if they think there are large numbers of us who find incessant TV blather a pain in the ass, they're right.

Pull the plug on the bloody things. Please.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Belated Farewell to The O's Resident Righty

The Eye offers sincere apologies for being so late to pick up on this, but right-wing columnist David Reinhard has left The Oregonian.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2008 at 9:33 AM

The Eye offers sincere apologies for being so late to pick up on this, but right-wing columnist David Reinhard has left The Oregonian.


 

Reinhard discussed his departure in a farewell column that appeared, fittingly enough, on the Sunday after Election Day. His main reason, he said, was that the other writers on the editorial board pick on him.

"I want to be part of a team that shares a common goal and commitment," he wrote. "I want to work with folks who share my basic values. I no longer want to be the odd man out. I don't want to start my mornings with a running argument about politics that I'll almost invariably lose by virtue of the stacked numbers."

Aw, poor baby.

But after being wrong about practically everything for the past eight years, from Saddam Hussein's non-existent WMDs to the economy, it wasn't only the numbers that were stacked against you, Dave - it was the facts.

As Steven Colbert says, "Reality has a strong liberal bias."

In his swan song, Reinhard said: "I'm not retiring. Far from it. I'll be hip deep in the public affairs of Oregon. But somewhere else, involved in a different way."

His involvement will be as a staff lobbyist for Mark Nelson. Among other things, Nelson has worked for 20 years to defend Oregonians' right to cheap cigarettes by defeating cigarette tax increases.

According to SourceWatch's chronology: "In 1988, Nelson assisted the Tobacco Institute in a campaign to defeat ballot Measure 5, a cigarette tax, using a strategy designed to prevent opponents from gathering enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. In 1990, Nelson organized 'smokers rights' group meetings in Oregon for R.J. Reynolds. In 1991, Nelson again assisted the industry in defeating a cigarette tax. In 1996, Nelson headed up a front group, 'Fairness Matters to Oregonians,' that was funded by the Tobacco Institute to defeat cigarette taxes in Oregon."

Yes, "hip deep" is a good description.

"And so with Reinhard's departure from the withering gray lady of Oregon's newspaper establishment," Carla Axtman wrote on the BlueOregon blog, "I hereby welcome David to the Jungle of real Oregon politics: the sausage factory called the Oregon legislature. With a supermajority of Dems in the Oregon House and majority Dems in the Oregon Senate, may you find it a much more frustrating experience than The O."

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Eying the Budget Crisis Through Partisan Filters

Oregon Democrats and Republicans are dividing along classic ideological lines in response to the state's calamitous predicted budget shortfall.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Oregon Democrats and Republicans are dividing along classic ideological lines in response to the state's calamitous predicted budget shortfall.


 

A forecast released this week found that Oregon will have $261 million less in the current biennium than the 2007 legislature anticipated. In the 2009-11 biennium things will get a lot worse - a $1 billion shortfall.

Chuck Sheketoff of the progressive Oregon Center for Public Policy, writing on the BlueOregon blog, says the situation "is a revenue crisis, not a spending crisis." His prescription: Raise taxes on rich individuals and corporations.

"The most effective policy for raising revenue in this recessionary context is get revenue from those with the greatest ability to pay - both wealthy individuals and large, profitable corporations," he writes. "That's where the money is. A tax increase on very wealthy individuals, who are best able to ride out the economic storm, would tap money that would more likely be saved rather than spent."

Sheketoff doesn't pass up the chance to take a shot at one of his favorite targets, the state "kicker" law: "The current budgetary predicament reveals the foolishness in letting Oregon's kicker law send $1 billion back to taxpayers. A year ago, Oregon's kicker sent $414 million of the billion dollars to the richest 5 percent of Oregon households - those with incomes of at least $181,000. Now that a recession has arrived, Oregon needs that kicker money back. A targeted tax increase can do that.

"Another good option is to raise revenue from those profitable, large corporations, most of which are located out of state, who today escape paying their fair share of Oregon's taxes. ... Profitable corporations operating in Oregon now pay less than half of what they paid 30 years ago in corporate income taxes as a share of the economy."

Just as predictably, Republicans in the Legislature insist we have a spending crisis, not a revenue crisis, and call for cutting spending and taxes.

"Spending in 2007 was unsustainable, and now the Legislature is facing difficult decisions in 2009," writes House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna on the Republican blog Oregon Catalyst. "It is time to bring government spending back under control, and to pass measures to keep dollars flowing through our economy and to keep capital within our state."

"Rather than finding new ways to extract more money from Oregonians, we will work to put more money back into their pockets and back into the economy," Hanna added. "The Legislature must create a better environment for businesses that helps them succeed and create jobs."

Interestingly enough, though, despite constant laments from Republicans and corporations about how "hostile" the state is to business, Oregon pretty consistently ranks among the top states in business friendliness, at least as far as taxation goes.

"Oregon ranked ninth in the nation in the [conservative] Tax Foundation's 2009 State Business Tax Climate Index," The Oregonian reported less than two months ago. "California inched past New Jersey and New York for 48th place. Oregon consistently has made the top 10 -- largely because the state charges no sales tax."

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Mike Dugan: Pick Josh Marquis, Not Me

Mike Dugan has been mentioned as a likely choice for US Attorney for Oregon, but it seems the Deschutes County District Attorney isn't too interested

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM

 

Mike Dugan has been mentioned as a likely choice for US Attorney for Oregon, but it seems the Deschutes County District Attorney isn't too interested in the job.


 

Dugan told PolitickerOr.com that he's happy in his present job and isn't angling for an appointment from soon-to-be-President Barack Obama. He also said his personal choice for the job would be Joshua Marquis, the Clatsop County DA and a former chief deputy DA in Deschutes County.

"My personal preference is Joshua Marquis," Dugan told PolitickerOr.com. "Joshua knows a lot about the criminal law system and the federal system. He is a very loyal person and will do what the government of the United States asks him to do. He'll also do his best to make sure the desires of Mr. Obama become Oregon's."

Like Dugan, Marquis is a strong law-and-order guy. His profile on the National District Attorneys Association website says: "Marquis is well known throughout Oregon for his impassioned newspaper op-ed articles and speeches on controversial criminal justice issues, especially victims' rights and the death penalty (he's for it). On the national scene, he was a longtime commentator on Court TV. He has appeared on NBC's Dateline and has defended his pro-capital punishment stand on Good Morning America, the Geraldo Rivera Show, and National Public Radio."

US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and are the top federal law enforcement officials in their states. The present US Attorney for Oregon is Karin J. Immergut, who's a George W. Bush appointee. Probably her biggest claim to fame is helping prepare the case against President Bill Clinton during the Fellatio Impeachment of 1998. It seems a pretty safe bet that it will not be the pleasure of President Obama to keep her in the job.

Asked if he'd even accept the appointment, Dugan wouldn't commit himself: "Somebody once said, 'I am not campaigning and will not campaign. If I am appointed I will serve with distinction.' If I am appointed? We'll cross that bridge when it comes."

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Flock of Applicants for Friedman's Job

The Eye will never be able to understand why anybody would want the job, but 15 people have applied for the late Bill Friedman's seat

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 1:30 PM

 

The Eye will never be able to understand why anybody would want the job, but 15 people have applied for the late Bill Friedman's seat on the Bend City Council.

 


 

The presumed front-runners are Jodie Barram, a teacher and vice-chair of the Bend Planning Commission, who lost her bid for Council Position 2 to Jeff Eager in this month's election by about 1,100 votes, and Don Leonard, who also has served on the planning commission and was buried by more than 8,000 votes in his race against incumbent Councilor Jim Clinton.

Leonard got a pile of campaign money from the Central Oregon Association of Realtors and the Central Oregon Builders Association and has the endorsement of The Bulletin, whose main beef against Barram is that she signed the Infrastructure First initiative, "which (quoting The Bulletin) is the product of a thinly disguised - and often nasty - campaign to complicate development in Bend."

Horrors - we mustn't have anything complicating development, must we?

If appointed, Leonard would join newly elected Councilors Eager, Kathie Eckman and Tom Greene plus incumbent Mark Capell to give the pro-growth lobby a solid five-vote majority on the seven-member council.

The 13 other hats thrown into the ring belong to:

Rod Cathcart, a transportation analyst with ODOT;

Bruce Ewert, a self-employed software developer and Internet gadfly who comments frequently on the BendBubble 2 blog;

R. Mack Horton, a retired engineer;

Steve Jorgensen, a planner with the Bend Metro Park & Recreation Distric;

Jeff Keller, director of sales at AT&T Mobility;

Robert Lebre, a retired civil engineer;

James J. Lewis, a self-employed land use consultant and former employee of the Bend City Planning Departmen;

Michael L. Middleton, a house designer;

Glen "Tom" Pickell, an independent executive management consultant;

Andrew Tyvand, a former Bulletin sportswriter now teaching at Aventa Learning;

Christian Veach, a general contractor;

Robin Vora, a natural resource manager with the US Forest Service, and

Craig Wilhem, VP business development, Resource Recycling Technologies.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Looking at Kitzhaber for Cabinet Post?

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he'd be interested in a Cabinet post in the Obama administration, but so far the Obama transition team hasn't

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he'd be interested in a Cabinet post in the Obama administration, but so far the Obama transition team hasn't contacted him about one, at least publicly.

The Associated Press reported last week that Kitzhaber "has been mentioned as a possible secretary for either of two departments: Health and Human Services or Interior."

Kitzhaber, an avid fisherman and a former emergency room physician, has an intense interest in both the environment and health care reform. Putting together an Oregon salmon recovery plan and expanding the Oregon Health Plan were two of his biggest achievements in the Legislature and as governor, and he has continued to push for national health care reform through his Archimedes Project.

Kitzhaber told The AP he hasn't been contacted by Obama's transition team but would be open to taking either job if it was offered.


Columnist Carol McAlice Curry of the Salem Statesman-Journal wrote that Kitz could do more for the country in the HHS position:

"We know you [Obama] have your own health-care plan, but Kitzhaber could help you make it better. During his gubernatorial tenure, Kitzhaber oversaw expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, which reduced the number of uninsured Oregon children from 21 percent to 8 percent. He also introduced the Oregon's Children's Plan to identify and assist at-risk children and families in the state, and focus resources on prevention and treatment instead of expensive and episodic after-the-crisis intervention."

The Eye is inclined to agree with Curry. Kitzhaber would be a good choice for either post, but his background as a doctor, a lawmaker, a governor and a crusader for health care would make him outstanding as head of HHS.

Mike Daly: Why I Lost

In our wanderings around town last week The Eye ran into soon-to-be-former Deschutes County Commissioner Mike Daly, who offered some thoughts on why he lost to Democrat Alan Unger.

One big reason, he said, was that Deschutes Democrats blew the county's Republicans out of the water when it came to signing up new voters: "The Democrats registered 5,000 new voters [this year] while the number of Republican registered voters actually dropped."

"The demographics around here are really changing," he added. (The Eye suspects the powerful appeal of Barack Obama and the total lack of appeal of the Republican brand this year also played into it.)

Another reason for his loss, Daly said, was resistance in the LaPine area to the county's plan to require septic system upgrades to keep nitrates out of the local groundwater. "They hate all of us down there," he said - meaning himself and fellow Commissioners Dennis Luke and Tammy Melton. Unfortunately for him, Daly was the only one running this year.

Daly, 66, was first elected to the commission in 2000. He said he has no further political ambitions and is looking forward to kicking back in retirement. "I think it's about time," he said.

Wells Gets a Gold Mine, Oregon Gets the Shaft

While the eyes of Congress and the public were focused on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout in September, the Bush administration slipped through a tax break for banks that could cost the federal treasury $140 billion - and cost the state of Oregon a bundle too.

As succinctly explained by Citizens for Tax Justice: "Generally, corporations that report tax losses in a given year are allowed to apply these losses against profits in future years. But this ability to 'carry over' losses from one year to reduce taxes in future years has limits. For example, when one company buys another company that has tax losses, the law prevents the acquiring company from using the purchased company's tax losses. There's a very sensible reason for this rule: to ensure that companies don't purchase other companies simply as a tax dodge.

"But a little-noticed September IRS administrative ruling creates a specific, temporary exemption from this rule for banks acquiring other banks whose tax losses are attributable to bad loans. The rule is apparently retroactive."

The biggest winner under the rule change will be Wells Fargo, "which by one estimate will see a federal tax cut of $19 billion from its purchase of Wachovia."

Why will this hurt Oregon and other states where Wells Fargo does business?

"Because states with corporate income taxes almost universally base their corporate taxes on federal rules, federal tax cuts for corporations generally result in state tax cuts as well," Citizens for Tax Justice explains. "When affected states have rules making it difficult to enact tax increases ... state governments find themselves practically unable to avoid costly corporate tax cuts they never wanted."

How much Oregon stands to lose hasn't been worked out yet.

Tip of the hat to Chuck Sheketoff on the BlueOregon blog for pointing this angle out.

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Badlands Bill Must Wait for Next Year

Lovers of Bend's Badlands Wilderness who have been waiting for years to see it designated as a federally protected wilderness area will have to

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Lovers of Bend's Badlands Wilderness who have been waiting for years to see it designated as a federally protected wilderness area will have to wait a little longer: Congress won't be able to get around to it during the current lame-duck session.


 

The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) put out a press release this morning saying the Senate leadership had announced that Congress will be too busy during the short session to deal with the Omnibus Public Lands bill, a package that contains some 150 bills, including the Oregon Badlands and Spring Basin Wilderness Acts.

"We are obviously deeply disappointed that we will not be able to celebrate Badlands and Spring Basin being signed into law this year," said ONDA Executive Director Brent Fenty, "but we appreciate that Senator [Harry] Reid [the Senate majority leader] has said he will bring this important conservation measure to a vote as part of the package early in the new Congress."

Reid promised that the lands bill would be reintroduced as the "first or second" action by Congress when it reconvenes in January and could be placed quickly on the Senate calendar without having to go back through committee, according to ONDA.

The Badlands and Spring Basin areas comprise some 40,000 acres. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the bills designating them as wilderness in mid-September, but the Senate hasn't been able to get around to bringing them to the floor for a vote - not surprising, with the economy collapsing and everybody from General Motors to Bill's Bait & Tackle Shop coming to Washington for a bailout.

BTW, the ONDA website has put up a nice tribute to Bulletin outdoor writer and Badlands lover Jim Witty, who died suddenly last weekend at the age of 50. Jim's family has suggested that donations in his memory be made to ONDA, and there's a link on the ONDA site to another secure site where you can contribute.

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Badlands Bill Must Wait for Next Year

Lovers of Bend's Badlands Wilderness who have been waiting for years to see it designated as a federally protected wilderness area will have to

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Lovers of Bend's Badlands Wilderness who have been waiting for years to see it designated as a federally protected wilderness area will have to wait a little longer: Congress won't be able to get around to it during the current lame-duck session.


 

The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) put out a press release this morning saying the Senate leadership had announced that Congress will be too busy during the short session to deal with the Omnibus Public Lands bill, a package that contains some 150 bills, including the Oregon Badlands and Spring Basin Wilderness Acts.

"We are obviously deeply disappointed that we will not be able to celebrate Badlands and Spring Basin being signed into law this year," said ONDA Executive Director Brent Fenty, "but we appreciate that Senator [Harry] Reid [the Senate majority leader] has said he will bring this important conservation measure to a vote as part of the package early in the new Congress."

Reid promised that the lands bill would be reintroduced as the "first or second" action by Congress when it reconvenes in January and could be placed quickly on the Senate calendar without having to go back through committee, according to ONDA.

The Badlands and Spring Basin areas comprise some 40,000 acres. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the bills designating them as wilderness in mid-September, but the Senate hasn't been able to get around to bringing them to the floor for a vote - not surprising, with the economy collapsing and everybody from General Motors to Bill's Bait & Tackle Shop coming to Washington for a bailout.

BTW, the ONDA website has put up a nice tribute to Bulletin outdoor writer and Badlands lover Jim Witty, who died suddenly last weekend at the age of 50. Jim's family has suggested that donations in his memory be made to ONDA, and there's a link on the ONDA site to another secure site where you can contribute.

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