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.
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
“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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