Re-Elect Patti Adair for Deschutes County Commissioner
Guest Column: Re-elect Patti Adair for Deschutes County Commission
BY DAVID M. COUTIN
Oct 18, 2022
Bend Bulletin Guest Column
Oregonians, like the rest of the country, are highly skeptical and cynical about the political process. Watergate, Irangate, 33,000 deleted Clinton emails and foundation fundraising, Russiagate, January 6th, the FBI and Hunter Biden, and legislators achieving millionaire status while supposedly serving the people, have led most of us to be highly distrusting of the political process and our institutions. I get it! That doesn’t mean we should abandon politics, but we should demand more accountability from our candidates and public officials.
The mantra of the ‘60s was that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It starts with choosing candidates with integrity, honesty, compassion, experience, and action. Such is the case of the most qualified incumbent that I have known in 25 years of political activity, Patti Adair who is re-running for Deschutes County commissioner. I have known Patti for the past five years. She entered the office like a whirlwind investigating the issues of homelessness, suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, public health, land use, and county budget. She networked and sought comprehensive details on each of these issues. She listened and asked incisive questions. As a consequence, she racked up an extensive list of accomplishments. She held property tax increases under 6 cents per thousand for the past three years. She helped secure a decade long goal of two additional circuit court judges in 2021 by launching a telephone/email campaign. She brought about safety updates at Harper Bridge in 2019. She managed the opening of the Deschutes County Veterans’ office an additional day of the week. She advocated for Habitat for Humanity and added a bus route from La Pine to Sunriver. She helped move the Terrebonne sewer system forward. She helped open the stabilization center for the acute mentally ill. She has been working to use state facilities in Central Oregon to offer inpatient mental health and addiction services. She’s looking to house the homeless in county facilities where they can have access to transportation and comprehensive services and learn ways to re-integrate into society. She sits on the Central Oregon Health Council and is looking at ways to improve the backlog of 8,000 surgeries by coordinating between St. Charles and the community outpatient surgery centers.
In a recent Rotary debate in Redmond, Commissioner Adair’s opponent Morgan Schmidt actually faulted the commissioner for failing to raise property taxes by $2 million dollars and then gave an analogy of a homeowner failing to improve upon the value of his property. Someone appropriately pointed out that Morgan wasn’t spending her own money, that she was spending taxpayers’ money. She then responded that some of that money was hers. Schmidt just doesn’t get it! She is spending other peoples’ money, folks on a fixed income during the worst inflation in 40 years on her “pet projects.” Schmidt is confused about raising money for a charitable church project and spending hard earned taxpayer dollars on ever increasing public projects. She further went on to say that she didn’t have to have a CPA background because the county employs many CPAs. She fails to recognize the incredible value that Adair brings to the position by effectively managing a multimillion budget and saving taxpayers millions of dollars of their funds. Ms. Schmidt has never met a dollar that she would not gladly spend. Citizens should be concerned about Ms. Schmidt’s activist association with Central Oregon Peacekeepers and her need for a bullhorn and gas mask. She was active in preventing police action against people convicted of harassment and assault. (The Source Aug. 14, 2020).
Commissioner Adair has a demonstrated history listening to her constituents and advocating for them. She has been extremely accessible and responsive to their needs. I hope you will join me and many others in recognizing that she represents Central Oregon common sense values and Vote Patti Adair for county commissioner!
Guest Column: Morgan Schmidt was wrong about county land decision
BY PATTI ADAIR
Oct 14, 2022 Updated 5 hrs ago
Bend Bulletin Guest Column
Central Oregon can be a thriving region which balances protection of our natural resources with broad based economic opportunity, creates housing options for all, and embraces a variety of lifestyles. In Deschutes County, community members are unique in their needs and wants, and similar in that we all love this place we call home.
What inspires me to continue serving as Deschutes County Commissioner, is seeing each new day as a fresh opportunity to support and enhance the lives of all Deschutes County residents. What disheartens me, are deep seated issues with Oregon’s broken land use system, and manipulative special interest groups and individuals who exploit these systemic problems for their narrow cause.
Recently my opponent expressed her disapproval on a specific land use decision. Not only is it inappropriate to discuss any particular land use application — or any other matter, suit, etc. — in a public forum, but especially if they may come before the Board for a decision in the future. She was also one sided and misleading; her guest column failed to mention Deschutes County residents who were fiercely in support of the project. My opponent doesn’t have a depth of understanding of the issues to talk about policy, or her ideas, but she does know how to reiterate talking points given to her.
Oregon has a statewide land use system that imposes protections for resource lands, including farm and forest lands. Deschutes County applies the state’s rules to the facts of each application. When so doing, county commissioners are tasked with following the law and acting as fair and impartial decisionmakers; not as politicians who bend the law to achieve a politically popular result.
Oregon Law only protects lands that can actually be used for resource uses such as agriculture and forestry. If what you really want is rural open space, then you can seek to change the law at the Oregon legislature. However, it simply is not fair to prevent people from using their property for any use other than open space. The government must compensate property owners if it deprives them of any viable use of their property.
Oregon law already provides greater restrictions in Central Oregon, and only permits rezones for soils that are substantially worse than the Willamette Valley (Class I-IV in Willamette Valley; Class I-VI in Eastern Oregon, including Deschutes County only properties comprised predominantly of soils clearly unsuitable for cultivated agriculture may be rezoned).
My opponent’s column was more of a clear statement against rural lifestyle. Some people in Deschutes County like living on 5- and 10-acre rural lots. Not everyone wants a 4,000-square-foot-lot in the city of Bend or Redmond.
As Deschutes County Commissioner, I listen, and I work to solve problems. If my opponent was listening, she’d hear that we need housing supply of all kinds, desperately, period. We need housing so badly that we’re already underbuilt by 4,837, and by 2040 we’re projected to be 49,856 homes short. If she were listening to residents outside of urban neighborhoods, she might hear there are folks who like a little room to live in our great outdoors. If she were listening to economic development advocates, she would hear concerns about housing supply and options for the workforce, middle management, and executives. If she were listening, and reading the Bulletin guest columns, she might have seen the piece co-signed by 1000 Friends of Oregon, Bend YIMBY, Central Oregon Builds Association and Habitat for Humanity of LaPine/Sunriver which said, “If we want to have housing that meets the needs of every Central Oregonian, if we want to start driving down the cost of housing, if we desire to be a model for the balance of sustainability and growth, then we simply can’t allow a vocal minority to scare us away from the big ideas, big investments, and bold, positive action that will provide the homes our community desperately needs.
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Patti Adair is a Deschutes County Commissioner and is running for re-election.
Plaques unveiled for Gold and Blue Star families in Brooks Park
by Central Oregon Daily News Sources Sunday, September 25th 2022
On this year’s Gold Star Mothers and Families Day, local veterans groups took the time to
recognize the lost in a special way.
The Bend Heroes Foundation and Project Recover hosted a ceremony at Bend Heroes
Memorial in Brooks Park on Sunday morning.
Gold Star Mothers and Families Day proclamations from the president and governor were
read by local leaders, including Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair and Bend
Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony Broadman.
The highlight of the ceremony was the unveiling of new memorial plaques.
“Today we’re unveiling plaques for our Blue Star families as well as our Gold Star families,” said Derek Abbey, President and CEO of Project Recover. “On this special day, we feel it’s an appropriate day to unveil our plaques in recognition for these very special families in our community.”
Gold Star families are those who have lost a family member in combat, while Blue Star families currently have a member in service.
Around 100 people showed up to share in the ceremony and pay their respects.
Bend is home to more than 110 Gold Star families from World War I to the present.
“Brooks Park is really the central hub here in Bend for recognizing our military in general, so it’s only appropriate that these plaques be placed here,” Abbey added
Other speakers included Dick Tobiason with the Bend Heroes Foundation, Blue and Gold Star family members, and Linda Gibson, the president of Oregon Gold Star Mothers.
Editorial: Maybe state government should take
a hard look at Patti Adair's idea
Bulletin Editorial Board Apr 30, 2022 Updated Apr 30, 2022
That’s what people said about the idea of using what was once known as the
Wapato Jail in Portland as a place to give people who are homeless a safe place
to stay and to get help.
It was the wrong building in the wrong place, Multnomah County leaders said.
t was too far from services. It would be too expensive. That debate went on
for years. But do you know what? It did become a homeless shelter. It became the
Bybee Lakes Hope Center. Like almost any homeless shelter it faces financial
challenges. It is helping to turn lives around.
So when Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair floats the idea of turning unused space at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras into housing for the homeless, should that be readily dismissed as wrong?
The Wapato Jail was built by taxpayers for $58 million, of course, to be a jail. Multnomah County couldn’t afford to operate the 155,000-square-foot building. So it sat. And sat. The county sold it and the surrounding 18 acres for $5 million in 2018.
Jordan Schnitzer, philanthropist and real estate mogul, obtained the property and believed he could do what city and county officials said couldn’t be done. And he did, with a lot of help. Alan Evans, the CEO of Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, saw the potential when he visited the site. His nonprofit now runs the shelter there. Then-state Sen. Betsy Johnson, with assistance from then-House Speaker Tina Kotek, got the Legislature to pitch in $2 million to help pay to put the building through a transition. The jail became what people thought it couldn’t become.
Deer Ridge is different. We aren’t saying it’s equivalent to what Wapato was. But there is a lot of space at Deer Ridge to provide housing and services. “The minimum facility at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution is currently unoccupied,” Jennifer Black, acting communications administrator for the Department of Corrections told us. “The prison comprises a 774-bed minimum-security facility and a 1,228-bed medium-security facility.”
The vacant portion is part of the long-term plan for housing people in custody in Oregon, Black emphasized. There is no plan to house any homeless people in the building. Black said in case of an emergency or natural disaster the space would be opened up as an evacuation shelter.
Is homelessness an emergency?
Right now, despite all the effort and money that government and nonprofits put into helping the homeless, camps still line streets. Camps spread in the woods. People die of exposure. Maybe government should look seriously into Adair’s idea.
Her idea might be dismissed because the symbolism looks bad — housing people who are homeless in what was a prison. Maybe the idea would be dismissed because there are more cost-effective options. Maybe the idea would be dismissed because the location is viewed as too far from services. And maybe the idea would be dismissed because the state would argue that the need to house more inmates is imminent. Remember, though, wrong, wrong, wrong was what people said about Wapato.
U.S. Forest Service attempts to move homeless
campers off China Hat Road
by Bend Bulletin
Out in the woods off China Hat Road south of Bend, more than 100 people
are facing a deadline.
In the first days of June, the U.S. Forest Service issued citations to 110 homeless
campers in the area. The notice tells homeless residents they need to leave by
the end of the month for overstaying the Forest Service’s 14-day camping rule.
A campfire ban has also been instituted in the area as wildfire season approaches,
according to Jean Nelson-Dean, a spokesperson for the Forest Service.
The decision to issue the citations came after long term, consistent complaints from
nearby homeowners, largely related to wildfire danger.
“This patrol was a little bit different because we wanted them to know about the campfire ban going into effect,” Nelson-Dean said.
According to records obtained by The Bulletin, several residents who live near the forestland have written to the Deschutes County Commission in the past few months about their concerns with those camping. While a number of concerns are mentioned, the most prominent is fear of fire danger.
“If fire occurs during our arid drought-stricken summer months, it would most likely be disastrous for all concerned,” Pamela Thomas, a Bend resident, wrote to Adair in April.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office also has had to respond to more calls about fires in the area, Nelson-Dean said.
Records show out of all the commissioners Adair in particular advocating for change out near China Hat Road, including asking the Forest Service about the reality of an overnight camping ban or installing gates to the area.
“I have been receiving an email an hour the past two days. Our citizens are furious and frightened,” Adair wrote to Forest Service officials. “The China Hat situation is clearly OUT of CONTROL. Something must be done now. The 5th year of a drought is not a safe time to ignore the rules of camping in our forests.”
In an interview with The Bulletin, Adair said that she didn’t know the Forest Service’s plan to issue citations until they started happening, and that her opinion of the citations fell in between fully supporting them and condemning them.
She said she is concerned about fire danger from camps, but also noted the county is attempting to set up a place for safe, legal parking near Redmond on 8 acres of county property. If enough legal housing options can be developed, Adair said barring camping from the China Hat Road area could be a good idea.
“I’m trying to work on both sides,” Adair said.
In the past, when fire bans are issued, camping residents off China Hat Road have generally followed the restrictions, Nelson-Dean said.
When asked why the Forest Service would issue camping notices when historically campers in the area have followed fire bans, thus mitigating fire risk, Nelson-Dean said it was a matter of addressing public perception.
“There is still very much a perceived perception by the public that the homeless cause a lot of wildfires,” she said. “Some of what we are doing is responding to the public’s concerns about what they perceive.”
Nelson-Dean said the Forest Service has tried to communicate with nearby homeowners about historical compliance with the fire ban, but residents have not found the answer “satisfactory.”
In a Bend City Council meeting earlier this month, Councilor Anthony Broadman said he was disappointed in the Forest Service’s effort to move people off the land with no alternative place to go.
Ultimately, Nelson-Dean said the Forest Service understands moving people is not a long-term solution, and that it will take the community coming together to develop more affordable housing options.
Nelson-Dean, in response to the criticism, said it feels like the city of Bend is getting away with pointing fingers at others without being asked about their own homeless sweeps that have occurred on Second Street and Emerson Avenue in the last two years.
The Forest Service has heard at least a portion of those camping near China Hat Road came after sweeps that happened within city limits, she said.
“Where were those city councilors when the city of Bend was doing those same actions?” she said.
Broadman said the issue of homelessness is regionwide, and illustrates the importance of the city and county’s effort to launch a joint homeless office.
“I am not surprised that the federal government is passing the buck. This is what governments in this region have been doing,” Broadman told The Bulletin. “It is why we absolutely need the collaborative office.”
Community gathers for Worrell Park’s 25th birthday amid uncertain future
by Central Oregon Daily News Sources Saturday, September 24th 2022
It was a birthday they didn’t want to forget.
A group of community members gathered at Worrell Park in Bend on Saturday for its 25th birthday, another chance for them to speak out against a plan to flatten the park and turn it into a parking lot.
The plan has the vote of two of three Deschutes County Commissioners. Patti Adair, the one commissioner against the plan, spoke at the birthday event.
“I know once it’s flattened, we can never re-create it,” Adair said. “It has a lot of boulders, a lot of trees, it’s really something incredibly unique in Downtown Bend.
Please, can we keep it?”
She called the park a ‘little piece of heaven’, saying she hoped they could get just one more vote from another commissioner to save the park.
Folks also heard from geologist Derek Loeb, who gave background on how the little hill in the center of town came to be.
He said it was important to save the park “not just because it’s a unique geologic feature, but because it’s an important reminder that we live in a volcanically active area.”
Historian Vanessa Ivey also spoke about the park’s history and how the piece of earth has “withstood more than 100 years of community growth and development.”
“Today, Deschutes County and Bend continue to be places people want to be a part of,” Ivey said. “We are a destination for recreation, quality of life and opportunities. Development is ongoing. But like the people of Bend in 1920, and the officials of Deschutes County in 1997, we can choose what that development looks like. What we grow is a reflection of what we value. This rough-cut gem created from a force of nature is not just a reminder of what the landscape looked like over a thousand years ago. This pocket of park is also a reflection of the people who live here. What they assess as important for their community, for this moment, as we plan for the future. Examples left for those who follow.”
Teen leaders of the Green Leadership Coalition also took the microphone. The group’s co-leader, Olive Nye, shared part of a testimony that she plans to read before Deschutes County Commissioners.
“Worrell’s natural high desert portrait contrasts that of other parks with manicured landscapes,” Nye said. “For this reason, Worrell is an important educational resource for people to learn about the natural Central Oregon ecosystem.”
“This decision affects not only our generation, but those to come,” she continued. “We want our children to find joy in the same places we did when we grew up, and flattening this park will take away another sacred place where kids can see marmots, watch butterflies pollinate, and learn about native tree species.”
Small groups of students from the coalition will take turns sharing testimonies about the park during upcoming commissioner’s meetings.
A number of events have taken place at Worrell Park over the past several months, in an effort from supporters to prove its value to the community.
Group gathers to save Bill Worrell Wayside park by Bend Bulletin
A group that hopes to save Bill Worrell Wayside park from being flattened to build a parking lot gathered at the downtown park on Saturday to encourage the county to reconsider its decision and preserve the park’s beauty for generations to come.
The date was deliberate: Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of Deschutes County’s decision to designate the land as a park. The event drew several dozen park supporters, who gathered for speeches and cupcakes.
“We have a lot of buildings, we have a lot of pavement, and we have a lot of parking lots, but we don’t have a lot of this anymore,” Donna Owens told the supporters, gesturing toward the lava rocks and mature ponderosas and junipers that give the park a truly High Desert feel.
In January, the Deschutes County Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 to flatten the 1.29-acre park, which sits outside of the Deschutes County administration building on NW Wall Street, to build 68 new parking spots. The project would cost $2.5 million.
Commissioners Tony DeBone and Phil Chang both voted in favor of flattening the park to marginally increase parking capacity. Commissioner Patti Adair was the only one who voted against the project, and spoke at the event on Saturday.
Adair said part of the reason she was at the event was to continue garnering support for the park with the hope that one of the two county commissioners who voted in favor of the parking lot project will reconsider.
The park is home to native animal and plant species, and serves as a respite for those working in the hustle and bustle of downtown. The park is a little slice of nature in the heart of Bend where people can take a break from time to time and destroying it would be out of line with what the people of Bend want for their town, Owens said.
The more I get involved with it, the more I realize, we are talking about the cost of a parking lot, but we are not talking about the value of what this is,” she said.
Derek Loeb, a retired geophysicist, also spoke at the event. He explained that the park is in fact a unique geological feature that would be a shame to lose for a few parking spaces.
“It has been maligned as being a pile of construction debris, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is a bonafide geologic feature dating back about 75,000 years,” Loeb said of the park. “And you can see it on old topographical maps and aerial photographs. It had two companions. One was over by the courthouse and one was called old Hospital Hill, which is now where the DoubleTree Hotel is off of Franklin.”
Loeb said the other two features, which were partially leveled for construction purposes, are lava flows that once significantly covered all of east and central Bend, and actually pushed the Deschutes River from east of Pilot Butte to more or less its current location.
“So, it is very significant to the Bend we live in today, but also significant beyond that in that it is a reminder that we live in a volcanically active region,” Loeb said.
Olive Nye and Kate Koblegarde, two Bend High School seniors who
are part of the Green Leadership Coalition, also spoke at the park on
Saturday, appealing directly to the county commissioners who have
the power to reverse their decision.
“County commissioners, I understand your decision. And there are
many stakeholders to consider. But I ask that you consider one in
particular. The future,” Nye said. “This decision not only affects our
generation, but those to come. We want our children to find joy in the
same places we did when we grew up. And flattening this park will
take away another sacred place where kids can see marmots, watch
butterflies pollinate, and learn about different native tree species.”
Pam and Dave McGurn were strolling through the park Saturday, taking in the beauty of the lava rocks, the towering trees, and the sweeping view of the cascades the park provides to those who venture to the top. The McGurns have lived in Bend since 1978 and said they envision a future where instead of destroying parks to build parking lots, people will take public transportation, ride bikes, and walk more often.