Bend's newest city councilor was sworn in at 9 am Tuesday in a little-advertised and sparsely attended ceremony in council chambers. Considering the circumstances of his appointment, we're not surprised that those who appointed him wanted to keep the event low-key - if not invisible.
The council had been deadlocked 3-3 for a month over picking a replacement for Chris Telfer, who left the council to become a state senator. If a successor hadn't been chosen by last Friday's deadline the city would've had to hold a special election.
p>With the clock running out, the builder/developer/realtor bloc on the council - Mayor Kathie Eckman and Councilors Jeff Eager and Tom Greene - got together quietly (not in a smoke-filled room, we assume, but in an earlier era it definitely would have been) and, joined by Councilor Mark Capell, decided on their own "compromise" selection: Oran Teater, a financial adviser, former councilman and mayor who has consistently sided with development interests and was the leader of the charge against the Juniper Ridge project.
The meeting was declared an "emergency," which meant that the four could weasel around the legal requirement for public notice. Councilors Jodie Barram and Jim Clinton, the sad remnant of the council's progressive bloc, were shut out of the discussion and not notified about the meeting until about 90 minutes before it was held.
Clinton had a pithy reaction: "This is crap."
We heartily agree, although we might have chosen an even more vulgar noun and added some choice adjectives. The council's Gang of Three (guess we'd better make that the Gang of Four now that Capell has joined it) made an 11th-hour, secretive appointment without public notification and without consulting their colleagues. The man they picked wasn't even among the candidates who had filed applications to replace Telfer. He was never interviewed or vetted by the council. Evidently such trivial details aren't necessary if you're a member in good standing of the Good Old Boys and Girls Club.
The latest maneuver by the Gang of Three was arrogant and sleazy, but true to form. Back in December, Eckman, Eager and Greene held a cozy little session with about 40 invited local "business leaders" to find out what they wanted. In January, Eckman, Eager, Greene and Telfer got together to railroad through the election of Eckman as mayor.
The behavior of the Gang of Three - our local daily paper calls them "the Bully Bloc" - has been consistent with what one might expect from the Boss Tweed machine in New York in the 1850s or the regime of Mayor Frank "I Am the Law" Hague in Jersey City in the 1940s. In Bend, Oregon in 2009 it is intolerable.
So here are three BOOTS for Eckman, Eager and Greene, and a fourth BOOT for Mark Capell. We have little hope of making any impression on the leathery hides of the first three, but Capell has shown signs of decency in the past and we hope this will awaken his better instincts.