Short Takes: Response Times, Bubbles and KOHD's Goodbye

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A fire destroyed a home on Bend’s Westside Wednesday morning, and it took nine minutes for the fire trucks to arrive after the first 911 call came in.

Why? Because all the available firefighters were tied up handling a couple of other emergencies. Fire Chief Larry Huhn said his department is short on staff because it “hasn’t hired more firefighters to keep up with the growth in Bend,” according to the Bulletin story Thursday.

So the city isn’t able to adequately protect the area it already has, but it’s fighting the state tooth and nail to bring 9,000 more acres within the Urban Growth Boundary and open them up to development.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

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Speaking of city services: According to a survey out this week, most Bend residents are happy with their city fire and police departments, but – surprise, surprise! – they’re not willing to pay more taxes to support them.

The poll of 400 Bend residents found that a scant majority – 51% – said they definitely wouldn’t pay more taxes to keep police and fire services at present levels. The city paid $13,000 for the survey to help it decide whether to go ahead with an election to increase Bend’s tax base – presently a meager $2.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the lowest for Oregon cities of comparable size.

It’s the same story in Bend as in other cities and states and at the federal level: People want government to do things for them, but they don’t want to pay for it.

Where’s the money supposed to come from? From the city’s fairy godmother, I guess.

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The front page of Thursday’s Business section had a headline I never expected to see in The Bulletin: “Preparing for the inevitable bursting bubble.”

True, it wasn’t a locally written story (it came from the New York Times service) and it didn’t deal specifically with Bend’s real estate bubble – but it did acknowledge that (a) bubbles exist and (b) they inevitably burst. That’s progress, I guess.

***

As of Monday, KOHD News in Bend will no longer exist. The station is pulling the plug on local newscasts because of sagging ratings and ad revenue. Three reporters will remain in Bend – at least for now – to do short segments that will be folded into the main newscast out of the ABC affiliate in Eugene.

While I haven’t been a faithful watcher of KOHD News (or KTVZ either) I’m sorry to see it go. An area as big as Central Oregon can’t be adequately served by two local newscasts, much less by only one.  


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