Bend City Council elections are supposed to be non-partisan, and generally that's worked pretty well for us. Our council races are far less acrimonious than, say, the typical campaign for president, Congress or even the State legislature.
But Troy Reinhart apparently would like to change that. Reinhart, the Chairman of the Deschutes County Republican Party, ripped into City Councilor Mark Capell, a registered Democrat, in an e-mail to party members last week."I think for Republicans, he's a target," Reinhart said. "He will have competition, I can assure you of that."
What got Reinhart so riled up was Capell's participation in a panel that made recommendations for legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in six of Oregon's major cities, including Bend. The measure, called Senate Bill 1059 and introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), is complicated, but the crux of it is that by 2035, the cities would be expected to cut greenhouse gases from automobile emissions down to 1990 levels.
Critics of the legislation, including Reinhart and the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, say that requirement would be economically devastating to Bend because our population has quadrupled since 1990.
The critics have a point - but it's not at all clear that's what the Bill says. Capell and other members of the task force, and even the conservation group 1000 Friends of Oregon, say they assume the aim will be to reduce emissions on a per capita basis.
Another gripe from the critics is that the legislation creates an unfunded mandate: It orders cities to undertake expensive studies and implement costly compliance measures, but doesn't provide any state money to help pay for them. That's a fair complaint too, and we hope the bill that finally emerges from the legislative process will fix that problem as well as clearing up the ambiguity about how emissions targets are to be calculated.
Even if a badly flawed bill comes out of Salem, it's stupid for Reinhart to blame Capell for it. He didn't write the Bill - in fact, he strongly criticized it in an e-mail to fellow members of the task force and legislative leaders, saying: "I can't begin to describe how disappointed I am in the proposed Senate Bill 1059."
Maybe Reinhart thinks Capell, and Bend, should have boycotted the whole process. But that wouldn't have resulted in a bill that was better for Bend, and it might have produced one that was a lot worse.
For his part, Reinhart is unapologetic about trying to drag Bend city politics down into the partisan muck. "Mark is a registered Democrat, and so Republicans are looking for conservative people to run," he told a Bulletin reporter.
All we can say is that if Deschutes County Republicans are planning to mount a slash-and-burn campaign against Mark Capell, they'd better have better weapons to hit him with than this. In the meantime, for launching a partisan - and what's worse, ignorant and unfair - attack on Capell, we're hitting Troy Reinhart's butt with THE BOOT.