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
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.
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.
Curry County’s 911 Director Michael Brace canceled Monday’s 5 p.m.
tsunami siren test, figuring the real tsunami threat trigger by the
Chilean earthquake two days earlier had left enough people on edge.
The bone-chilling cry of a siren, even when its expected, has an
unsettling affect. A siren is sounded at 5 p.m. on the first day of
each month in the coastal towns of Harbor, Brookings, Gold Beach and
Port Orford. Often, the test catches some residents and unsuspecting
tourists off guard (judging by the worried phone calls the Pilot fields
The purpose of the siren test isn’t to strike the fear of God into
residents, well maybe a little. It’s to send a consistent message for
us to be ready to move to higher ground in the event of a major
earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
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