In this age of partisan politics and self-interest groups, it's refreshing to see environmentalists, builders, Tea Partiers, liberal democrats and social conservatives rally around a common cause.
At noon today, just such a varied crowd met in front of City Hall to officially present the 1,000 petition signatures opposing the $68 million Surface Water Project, which has already earned approval from the Bend City Council.
Seven former mayors were on hand, including Bruce Abernethy, Ruth Burleigh, Allan Bruckner, Terry Blackwell, Bob Woodward, Oran Teater and Craig Coyner III (as well as a number of area businessmen and former city staff) to provide personal testimony against the project which, it was said, is based on faulty data, unneeded and likely to raise water rates by 40%.
Comments were brief and too the point.
"The data gathered by the consultants hired is not sufficient to make a decision. They (the consultants) stand to make millions," Bruckner said.
"I think this is the time for the council to step back and listen to the citizens of Bend," said Aberbethy.
Adding insider financial savvy to the opposition was attorney Deidra Cherzam, who served as Chair of the Bend Budget Committee during the last biennium. Cherzam fears the expense of the project and noted that staff has underestimated some costs while failing to fully disclose other costs associated with the water project.
"We're not here to just check you math," Cherzam said, repeating her position which she had previously shared with the City attorney and staff.
Paul Dewey, Executive Director of Central Oregon LandWatch was clearly pleased with the gathered crowd.
"I've never seen a confluence of interests like this," Dewey said, a comment that was followed by a round of applause.
Notably absent from the public hearing was Councilor Jim Clinton, who has opposed the project since its introduction.
Look close, those are all names. All 1,000 of them.
Abernethy has transitioned from skeptical to opposed. Woody, another former mayor, (in red) looks on.
Jack Holt speaks out against the multimillion dollar project already set in motion.