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No Handouts, Just Bailouts

Upfront couldn't very well let the biggest financial meltdown since "I lost all my savings at a Vegas bachelor party" go by without comment. Well,


Upfront couldn't very well let the biggest financial meltdown since "I lost all my savings at a Vegas bachelor party" go by without comment. Well, there ain't a whole lot to say at this point except R.I.P. American economy. I wonder if that homeowner bailout that Bush pooh poohed less than a year ago is still feeling like the right thing now that the US Treasury is holding the $700 billion tab for the total collapse of the credit industry, fueled largely by a rash of home foreclosures and unregulated lending practices.

To help put this in perspective, Upfront visited the National Priorities Project ( to see what else we might have been an able to buy for the cost of the bailout.

* Another Iraq War! ($555 billion)

* Health care for 200 million Americans

* 15 million police officers

* A renewable energy supply for 725 million homes

Instead we get vetos for children's healthcare and corporate bailouts ramrodded down our throats. Thanks Gee?Dub.

Speaking of meltdowns

Bend nearly topped the list of overpriced housing markets in a study released this week that examined home prices in relation to other economic indicators such as land scarcity and wages. The Verdict? Bend is 47 percent overvalued, second worst in the nation.

Staying Local

The housing slump hasn't stopped local builders and realtors from pouring money into the campaigns of several handpicked city council candidates. Together the local builders and realtors have raised more than $70,000 for their political action committees, including the euphemistically named builder's PAC, Central Oregonians for Affordable Housing. (Read: builders for cheap land).

Not nearly all of that money is flowing into the council race, but several candidates who were either groomed by, or endorsed by, the real estate cartel have amassed considerable war chests, including Kathie Eckman who has raised $17,000 in her effort to unseat progressive incumbent Linda Johnson who has raised about $2,500 to date including $1,000 in loans. Fellow council progressive Jim Clinton has also been targeted for extermination (at least politically speaking). He faces former planning commission chair Don Leonard, a plain talking engineer who would like the city to stop mucking around with things like pie in the sky plans at Juniper Ridge and get down to business - an attitude that resonates with his primary financial backers. So far Leonard has raised about $9,000 for his campaign, nearly half of which has come directly from the builders' and realtors' PACs. Clinton by contrast has raised about $3,300 in cash, nearly all of it in donations under $100.

A Star is Born

On the topic of growth and politics, the Central Oregon Environmental Center will honor longtime environmental crusader Paul Dewey with its Earth Star award at its annual Evening for the Environment dinner this Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club. Dewey founded the watchdog group Central Oregon Landwatch, which focuses on growth and is best known for his battles against destination resorts and other forms of sprawl. As an attorney, some of his recent battles have focused on combating the parcelization around Skyline Forest and the development of destination resorts in the sensitive Metolius Basin. Dewey takes up the Earth Star mantle from Bill Marlett, whom the Environmental Center recognized last year for his work with the Oregon Natural Desert Association. By Upfront's count that makes two years in a row that the Environmental Center has singled out an environmental activist for its top award. Asked if this represented a change in direction or philosophy for an organization that is known for its collaborative approach to local environmental issues, Executive Director Mike Riley said it's simply a reflection of the center's diversity and recognition of the years of work both individuals have contributed to the community.

"We have 39 member groups who run the spectrum from hard core activists to people who do work in the schools...Those represent the entire spectrum of interests and concerns about the local environment. This organization reflects the community in many ways.

Tickets for the event are $45 advance and available at the Central Oregon Environmental Center or online at The evening includes dinner, a live and silent auction and live music.

Department of Corrections

A story titled A Fine Line in last week's Source, incorrectly placed Crook County Planning Commissioner Susan McDermott at a post-meeting rendezvous where a developer picked up the bar tab. The Source attempted to confirm a separate account of the evening with Ms. McDermott and left a message on her home phone. After publication we spoke with Ms. McDermott who had not checked her messages at home. She informed us that she did not attend on either occasion that developer Gene Gramzow picked up the bar tab for commissioners. The Source regrets the error.

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