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Surprise! Legislature discovers $50M
Editorials
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.

 
Making the most of a midlife crisis
Columns
March 06, 2010 04:00 am
 
Sirens a reminder of danger lurking offshore
Editorials
March 03, 2010 11:07 am

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.

Fair enough.

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 each time).

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.

 
Bad experience in paradise?
Columns
February 27, 2010 04:00 am
 
$100,000!
Columns
February 20, 2010 09:20 am

It’s hard to keep a secret. Just ask the handful of people, including me, who received advance notice that Kalmiopsis Elementary School had won $100,000 in U.S. Cellular’s contest.

It was even harder for  PTO fundraising chairwoman Cindy Schofield who, along with Principal Helena Chirinian, was the first to receive the news.

“I just cried when I found out,” Cindy said. “I didn’t think we’d get it.”

That wasn’t the case, she said, at the height of the PTO’s efforts to get people to vote in U.S. Cellular’s national “Calling All Communities” Internet contest.

“When we were out there, standing outside the stores, doing all we could, begging people to vote, I was confident we’d win,” she said. “Once it was all over, I thought ‘Nah, we don’t have a chance.’”

 
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