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What can be said in just 10 minutes?
March 31, 2010 09:48 am

What’s wrong with the first paragraph in the following press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife? (Hint: It has something to do with the  time allocated for the public to speak.)

“The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the Rogue SMU Fall Chinook Conservation Plan advisory committee will meet April 5 at the Chetco Public Library, 405 Alder Street, Brookings. The meeting runs 6 to 8:30 p.m. and the public has 10 minutes to comment at the end of the meeting.

Ten minutes? They don’t know Brookings-Harbor very well, now do they. Just two of our regular public speakers could easily take up those 10 minutes. 

From time to time, government entities forget that the purpose of their public meetings is to engage the public; to get public opinions and feedback on decisions that directly or indirectly impact our communities.

Ten minutes hardly seems long enough to accomplish that. Perhaps that’s the intent?

Seeking public opinion can get messy. It can complicate an otherwise routine meeting and, GASP!, take up time.

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Surprise! Legislature discovers $50M
March 10, 2010 09:35 am

Before the votes on Measures 66 and 67, state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend, was asking questions about millions or billions that the state might have sitting around in accounts and not being used to solve budget problems. Telfer was told the money couldn’t be touched, shouldn’t be touched or doesn’t exist. Secretary of State Kate Brown released a statement before the election scolding anyone who suggested that the state had unfettered access to such money.

And then, like magic – after the votes on Measures 66 and 67 – $50 million appeared. The Legislative Fiscal Office identified $50 million that the Legislature swept from various accounts to help mend the state’s budget gap.

Where did it come from?

The biggest chunk was $31 million from the Tax Amnesty Fund. That was a new program created by the Legislature in 2009 for people to pay back taxes they owed that the state didn’t know about. Some of the $50 million came in small pieces. The Board of Licensed Social Workers, which licenses social workers, had $41,000 removed from its account. Martin Pittioni, the board’s executive director, said $41,000 is basically what the board spends in a month. The Legislative Fiscal Office says it reduces the board’s reserves to 4.5 months.

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