It's been a busy week over at Bank of the Cascades, which raised a much needed $177 million in private capital to keep the bank afloat in the face of regulatory sanctions. The injection headed off months of speculation that federal officials would move to shutter the once high-flying local institution that hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars during the real estate bust. Over the past two years, BOTC has reported more than $200 million in losses as it continued to write down its portfolio, albeit more slowly over the past few months as the economy has begun to stabilize and the Bend real estate market slows its free fall.
BOTC made a show of the fact that it is re-emerging from the edge of insolvency without taking federal bailout funds offered under W. Bush's troubled assets relief plan (TARP). What the bank didn't mention is that it actually tried to get help from the feds, but was essentially ineligible because it was so heavily leveraged in Bend's toxic real estate market. And while it appears that BOTC, a strong community partner in many senses that is known for its charitable giving and contribution to the local economy, will be here for the foreseeable future; the bank and its investors did not come out unscathed. The potentially company-saving deal handed control of the bank to BOTC investment partners for pennies on the dollar, selling for $.40 per share. By way of contrast, BOTC's stock once traded at more than $30 a share on Wall Street. In order to boost the share prices, BOTC executed a 10-1 reverse stock split on Monday that preserves the bank's NASDAQ listing, which was threatened by BOTC's persistently low value. As of Tuesday afternoon, the newly constricted stock was trading at over $6 per share.
Could It Be Coin Flip For Bend Council?
The race for the one remaining seat on the Bend City Council tightened last week when Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship announced that Chuck Arnold had cut into his opponent Scott Ramsay's lead, bringing the final margin of "victory" to just two votes for Ramsay when Blankenship certified the results on Friday? However, state rules mandate that all of the relevant ballots be recounted by hand, a process that will commence on Nov. 30. The candidates have already agreed that whatever result emerges from that process will be accepted as the final word on the election, thus saving Bend its own Bush vs. Gore serial drama. A local businessman whose family built the Sun Mountain Fun Center, which he now operates, Ramsay ran on a campaign of small government and economic growth. He said on Monday that he isn't sure what, if anything, he could have done differently had he known how close the race would be.
"It's pretty hard to speculate," he said. "I was out knocking on doors, going to all the events. I'm sure there is always something that you feel like you could have done - had I reached ten more people, would that have made a difference?"
As this point, Ramsay said it's a matter of waiting. He expects that both he and Arnold will be on hand for at least part of the day to observe the recount, though he said he has appointments next Tuesday afternoon when the ballots are to be sorted. So what happens in the unlikely event that the final result of a recount is a tie? According to Ramsay, state rules dictate that the winner be determined by chance. Options include, drawing straws, picking a number out of a hat and a coin flip. However, we have a better idea. And maybe it's just all this talk about turkey... But how about a 10-frame, winner-take-all bowling match at Ramsay's Sun Mountain Fun Center? It could double as Central Oregon's first non-golf related fundraiser.
Snowpocalypse 2010: Turkey Week Edition
If you're one of the few who survived the past few days, we'd like to congratulate you on powering through Snowpocalypse 2010 and living to tell about it. Who knew that it could snow before Thanksgiving? And snow a lot? And then get really cold and try to ruin everyone's joyous family gatherings?
Well, it did. The entirety of the Northwest was hammered by a massive winter storm beginning on Sunday that by Tuesday morning had dropped half a foot or more of snow on much of Bend and closed down the mountain passes. On Monday evening, Highway 26, which leads over Mt. Hood, was shut down in both directions for several hours. Then, on Tuesday morning a stretch of the highway was closed again when a tanker truck overturned.
Other ridiculous things that happened because Mother Nature decided to go bonkers on us: Two OSP patrol cars were struck in separate incidents on Oregon highways, the drive from Sunriver to Bend on Monday night turned into an hour-plus odyssey, a vehicle collided head-on with a snowplow on Santiam Pass, a 747 slid off the runway at Sea-Tac airport and a Portland-area television station aired a five-minute segment on the importance of wearing several layers of clothing in cold weather.
But on the good side of things, Mt. Bachelor bolstered its base depth to 45 inches as of Tuesday afternoon and will still open on Thanksgiving Eve. Hoodoo is also taking advantage of the early snow and opening on Friday, November 26.
Great Idea of 2010: Protesting DMV by parking in a parking lot.
In the latest life-and-death news from Bend, the highly contested new DMV location spurred a group of particularly suburban protesters to stage a demonstration. No, they didn't make signs or yell at motorists or employ any of the usual go-to protest strategies. Instead, the grassroots organization called "Stop the DMV" decided to protest the DMV by... parking their cars in the Brookswood Meadow Plaza parking lot. The organization claims that the parking spots for the proposed DMV are not adequate for the expected traffic the business will bring. To demonstrate the coming crisis, they had a bunch of soccer moms park in the lot on Saturday, which made the protest a "drive-in." Get it?
KTVZ interviewed event organizer Maria Simonton, who stated, "As you can see, this whole side is full, but none of these businesses are actually occupied yet, with the exception of Snap Fitness."
At which point, a PTA meeting spontaneously broke out with board members passing a resolution to limit all parking on Brookswood to Bluetooth-ready minivans with temporary parking available to anyone sporting a Duck or Beaver flag.