Phone firms stiff Central Oregon on Net offerings

Central Oregonians who would prefer Internet service from the folks who provide their phone service are out of luck, another sign of how the region’s rapid growth has failed to boost its priority in telecommunications needs.

U S West (http://www.uswest.com), the region’s “Baby Bell,” heavily promotes its U S West.net service for homes and businesses. “It’s available to all U S West customers,” the firm’s Web site states, promising “fast, easy and reliable access to the Internet.” But type in a Central Oregon phone number to check on local access and you are told it is “not available in your area at this time.”

AT&T’s Worldnet service (http://www.att.com) does offer service to Central Oregon – if you want to pay long-distance charges to call the closest access numbers, in Coos Bay or Eugene, or pay an extra 10 cents a minute for 800-number access.

Then there’s Earthlink Sprint (http://www.sprint.com), which can prove even more frustrating. A check of all access numbers in the 541 area code finds listings for Ashland, Coos Bay, Corvallis, Eugene and Murphy (!) but not one in Central Oregon.

There are several Internet providers based in the region, of course. BendNet (http://www.bendnet.com), the area’s oldest and largest consumer-based Internet service provider (ISP), has local access numbers throughout the region.

Even a free Net provider, Excite’s new FreeLane service (http://freelane.excite.com/freelane/), which makes its money by putting permanent rotating ads on your display, already offers a Bend access number.

High-speed Net options also are reaching parts of Central Oregon but not others. Bend Cable http://www.bendcable.com) is expandng its cable modem service to other communities it serves, while Empire Net has added digital subscriber line service, something U S West doesn’t offer in the region yet.

The relative ignorance of the region by major providers harkens back to the early days of online service, before the Internet took root. Eight or nine years ago, national services such as America Online, which now offers local Bend access numbers, had none available. A petition drive led by Bend resident Harold Ickes convinced Prodigy to bring Bend its first local access to a national online service in 1992.

Region seeks better phone/data services

Closer ties crucial, ex-German official tells Bend audience

A decade after reunification, Germany’s only path toward a strong democracy and economy lies in closer ties with its European neighbors, a former top German official told a Bend audience Thursday night.

More than 80 people turned out to hear and question Dr. Dieter Dettke, executive director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (http://www.fes.de/organisation/america/washington), hosted by the High Desert Forum (http://www.hdforum.org). Dettke served as a staff director with the German foreign ministry and in several other offices during the administration of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Germany has been a democratic ally of the U.S. for almost a half-century but still struggles to come to terms with its brutal, authoritarian past, Dettke said. “I think it’s still difficult for many people to accept Germany as a ‘normal’ country, if you will,” he said.

“The only pattern that really worked is a strong democracy and a firm alliance with the West,” Dettke added.

It would have been unthinkable until recent years to have German forces take part as they have in the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo, for example, he said. Now plans are in the works for Europe to create its own, 60,000-soldier force to intervene in smaller crises, without the need for American troops. But Dettke said the U.S. technological superiority still will be crucial, since it is able to strike from a distance, when necessary.

“I think a military force that many Americans have almost been pushing for is grist for a stronger alliance,” he said. “The effort is to make it part of NATO. Together we can do it. Together, we can really contribute to more civility in the world. If we split, our influence dwindles.”

“I can see dangers,” however, Dettke added. “I see tendencies for some in the U.S. to say, ‘We can go it alone. We don’t need you. We are a superpower.’ ”

Skirmishes between Europe and the U.S. will always exist, Dettke said, noting recent trade flaps over bananas and hormone-treated beef. But he joked that when German friends visit him in America, “the first thing they want is a good American steak, and they don’t ask if it’s hormone-treated or not.”

Trade flaps shouldn’t distract from ‘common agenda’

European countries also have no death penalty, Dettke said, although the issue must be worked out with Turkey, which has a death penalty, if it is to join the Council of Europe as desired.

“There is so much to do on our common agenda that we shouldn’t be distracted,” he said.

Many Germans learned of Oregon during the peace movement of the 1980s and the protests over plans to put Cruise missiles on German soil, Dettke said. Schmidt often noted at the time that West Germany was roughly the size of Oregon and yet it hosted hundreds of thousands of foreign troops.

“This ‘new Germany’ that has been able to build up democracy and a strong economy has to find a position commensurate with that weight,” Dettke said. “The only way is through ‘European-ness’ – to build up the institutions, to build up stability.”

The former West Germany has spent large sums of money to build up the sagging economic structures and infrastructure of the former East Germany since the Berlin Wall fell, Dettke said. It still faces problems with high jobless rates, close to 10 percent, and higher tax rates than Americans see. But Dettke added, “Germany is not a basket case.”

Another big difference between the two countries is that German higher education is totally publicly funded. “When I tell German parents that they would have to pay $25,000 in tuition for their children, I don’t know what they’d do – probably riot,” Dettke joked. “In Germany, (publicly funded) education is taken for granted,” he said. “That may have to change. It is hard to implement all of these reforms.”

Germany also lags in Internet access, “way below American figures,” Dettke said, but is doing well in other areas of telecommunications.

A healthy balance between government and private enterprise is still being worked out, the German said, noting the crucial role a strong economy will play in Germany’s future.

Ghost of Hitler’s rise still looms

“Remember Hitler and why he came to power,” Dettke said. “Ten million unemployed Germans led to an awful form of government. Without a solid social state, we could face a difficult political and social situation.”

During a question-and-answer period, Dettke said the public funding system for political parties and candidates in Germany limits the money spent on political campaigns, but that it is “no panacea.” It has not, he said, averted recent major scandals over large sums funneled into the coffers of parties and politicians over privatization deals.

The next High Desert Forum speaker will be renowned Cuba expert Dr. Wayne Smith on Thursday, April 27th at 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 230 NE Ninth St.

Second teen sentenced in online scam targeting BendNet, others

A 17-year-old San Diego high school student has begun a one-year stint in a special probation program for young offenders after pleading guilty to an online scam that targeted Internet users across the country, including in Bend, with fake Web sites. The teen and an accomplice snagged credit card numbers and racked up $50,000 in fraudulent charges.

The teen was sentenced May 31st and will spend a year in the “Breaking Cycles” program, which officials said is a collaboration between justice, health, education and other agencies that serve youth. The program, similar in some ways to Dennis Maloney’s “restorative justice” program in Deschutes County, aims at breaking the cycle of juvenile delinquency through a comprehensive system of assessment and graduated sanctions.

“It’s not like a proscribed thing for each kid,” said Leslie McClelland, probation director for San Diego County. “Each kid is different – their family, their offense, their school record.” The 365-day sentencing of the young hacker is the maximum period of time juveniles are in the 3-year-old program, funded by state grants, McClelland said.

The young Internet scammer had been in lockup at juvenile hall for 77 days at the time of sentencing, said Amanda Rankhorn, an FBI special agent in San Diego. “In my limited interaction with juvenile (cases), usually time spent in custody is very unusual,” she said. The 16-year-old, who had limited involvement in the scam, spent 22 days in custody. The two teens still face a restitution hearing on Aug. 1st, Rankhorn added.

McClelland said she could not speak about the specific youth sentenced to the program but that he could spend more time in custody but in an open, “ranch” setting, while other options are day treatment for family, drug or alcohol problems. “If they have difficulty in day treatment, they can return to custody without having to go back to court,” she said. “It’s like a rubber band. It’s up and down (the level of sanctions) within a proscribed amount of time, based on a real intensive look at what the kid’s issues are.”

The young offenders can return to school, if they are doing well, or may be at home under “fairly intensive monitoring” and supervision, McClelland said. There have been “growing pains” since Breaking Cycles began in 1996, she said, and an assessment is under way to see if the program cuts down on reoffenders: “We’re figuring out what works and what may not work.”

All but one Bend user avoided scam

About 120 customers of BendNet, an Internet service provider in Bend, were among those targeted by the scammers. But there apparently was only one BendNet customer whose credit card number was obtained, said Bend police Det. Buck Church. As in the other cases, the suspects e-mailed him, posing as BendNet, and asked for updated credit card information at a Web site rigged to look very much like the Internet provider’s own pages. One other person who got the message from the teens also called police but did not give the scammers a credit card number, Church said.

The lone BendNet victim did not lose any money, as the credit card company covered about $125 in falsified charges, Church said. “They (the scammers) signed him up for some Internet service and he got a subscription to something,” he said. “There also were small purchases from some companies.” Church said local prosecutors felt it would be best to seek restitution as part of the California investigation, rather than to prosecute the case separately.

The teen and a 16-year-old fellow Mount Carmel High School student pleaded guilty to various charges on April 6th, about three weeks after their arrest at the school by agents, said Amanda Rankhorn, FBI special agent in San Diego. The 17-year-old entered the plea on eight felony charges and the younger student three charges involving computer and credit card fraud and receiving stolen property, Rankhorn said.

The 16-year-old was sentenced May 1st, but sentencing was delayed for the 17-year-old because his attorney was involved in a murder trial at the time, Rankhorn said. “The 16-year-old’s involvement was pretty minimal, compared to the 17-year-old’s, if you want to classify him as the mastermind,” she said. “The 16-year-old got involved in the later stages and was not responsible for any of the stolen credit cards.”

Teen ordered to stay off Net

The 16-year-old got credit for 22 days spent in custody in a juvenile detention facility, Rankhorn said. He was released on home supervision and three years’ probation, including 21 days of community service and a “Fourth Amendment” waiver of search and seizure rights, which means law enforcement can enter his home at any time without a search warrant, she said. “He forfeited a computer to the state, cannot have a computer in his room and cannot access the Net for three years,” Rankhorn said.

The FBI agent said state and not federal charges were pursued because “the federal system isn’t right now really equipped to deal with juveniles.” When the 17-year-old is sentenced, she said, “I don’t anticipate it to be probation,” rather than more time in a juvenile facility.

Police in Alaska and San Diego, aided by the FBI, investigated the case and led to the arrests. Anchorage police Det. Glen Klinkhart told bend.com the teens used stolen credit card information to register the fake sites at Web hosts across Canada and the United States, masking their location for months.

The teens would create a phony Web page that closely mimicked the pages of a targeted ISP, then send e-mail to customers, telling them of a billing problem with their account. The fake e-mail warned that without a valid credit card number, their service would be terminated in 24 hours. The victims would be directed to the fake site, where the youths would obtain the victim’s personal information, including their credit card numbers.

Among the BendNet customers targeted were the firm’s president and founder, Spencer Dahl, “so obviously they weren’t the brightest people in the world,” Dahl said in late January, after the scammers tried to hit his firm. “They weren’t as stupid as they might appear, because they covered their tracks pretty well.”

Dahl and Bend police said the BendNet e-mail told customers their credit card automatic withdrawal was late and directed them to a “customer care” page to update their personal information. It was the first such incident to happen to the 8-year-old firm, Dahl said. Dahl tried using the reply form and it didn’t work.

Teens kept scam going for months

Investigators determined the two youths scammed as many as 40 ISPs and hundreds of their customers in more than a dozen states. Search warrants executed on the high school and the two boys’ homes turned up eight computers.

BendNet apparently was the only Oregon ISP hit by the scam artists, Klinkhart said. Many Net providers contacted various federal and local authorities about the attacks, but Klinkhart said most victims were told the amounts were too small or the cases weren’t widespread enough.

The scheme apparently had been going on for several months. Last August, Internet Express, a San Diego service provider, contacted police after learning several customers had received the bogus e-mail message.

But the scam began to unravel the day after Christmas, when an Internet Alaska customer contacted the company abut the suspicious e-mail, which purported to be from the firm’s accounting department. The ISP’s security administrator, Mike Messick, found a near-perfect duplicate of the firm’s home page, titled sgbilling.com, and quickly took steps to prevent customers from reaching the phony site and vice versa. He then contacted Klinkhart.

Klinkhart and Messick began tracking the wrongdoers, who went to a great extent to cover their tracks. They learned that the sgbilling site was built at a Vancouver Web host site and the e-mails were routed through a server in Spain. The sites were registered and paid for using credit card information stolen from a Seattle resident.

The police detective and Net security expert began to believe the perpetrators were juveniles when they tracked the items being bought online: pornography viewing, games and other software popular with youths, as well as videos, digital cameras, a computer, a calculator, an MP3 player and even a deep fryer. They allegedly sold some of the fraudulently obtained goods to fellow students at their school.

Alaska duo succeed with online dragnet

Messick wrote a software program allowing investigators to electronically spy on the scammers. Using a list of billing site names the suspects had created, Messick and Klinkhart ran the electronic surveillance program and waited. The big break came one night in February when both men were home – Klinkhart asleep and Messick in a hot tub, according to Anchorage Daily News reporter Karen Aho.

The two men jumped online and saw the billing site targeting a Mississippi provider. Klinkhart found the real site, but it had no contact numbers listed. Eventually he reached a top-level manager’s mother by phone and the sheriff drove to the manager’s house. The duo explained the scam and offered software to block the transmissions.

Eventually, Messick and Klinkhart were able to identify a large list of potential targets and thwart similar attacks on more than a half-dozen other ISPs. The pair narrowed in on one suspect, but when Klinkhart contacted the San Diego Fraud Task Force in February, he learned they, too, had a suspect, but with a different name. Police said it turned out the suspects were working together.

“As far as the technical savvy they needed to pull it off, it wasn’t much, pretty basic,” Messick said. “The only thing I could credit them for was their thoroughness.”

City leaders deny racism in flagpole decision

Bend city councilors took emotional offense at accusations of racism or bigotry Wednesday night after several residents criticized a decision not to add a Mexican flag in front of the Central Oregon Welcome Center.

Councilors defended their role in a decision to remove a Canadian flag and instead fly the U.S. and Oregon flags in front of the Chamber of Commerce-operated facility, along with a regional tourism flag. Central Oregon’s Human Dignity Coalition had raised more than $1,200 to add a fourth flagpole for the Mexican flag, but the issue got sidetracked in part by a city design-review rule that could have resulted in the fourth pole being shorter than the others.

Seven people, including two high school students, testified during the initial visitors portion of the agenda at a packed City Hall meeting. All urged the council to reconsider its decision backing Deschutes County Commissioner Tom DeWolf’s effort to resolve the heated debate.

Elli Work, a former legislative candidate who first raised the issue last year, claimed the county treated flag proponents with indifference and criticized the leaders for making a decision without a public hearing.

“Dismiss the messenger and avoid the issue at all cost,” Work said. “The issue is racism. As elected officials, I think all of you would rather roll naked in broken glass than have to deal with this issue.”

When Work’s comments drew applause, Mayor Jim Young rapped his gavel and warned the audience, “This isn’t a popularity contest.”

Mountain View High student Michelle Early, a dual American and Mexian citizen, expressed indignation at what she called “selective nationalism.”

But Bend High student Matt Hornback was more pointed: “I think it’s bigotry to not hang their flag.”

Central Oregon native Don Hamon said “discrimination (in the region) isn’t as bad as it was in the ’50s and ’60s” but that after serving as the first chairman of the county’s Commission on Children and Families, he knew “discrimination is alive and well.”

Councilors held their tongues until the “councilor comment” section at the end of their long agenda, after most of the protesters had left.

Councilor Benjie Gilchrist said he was “real disappointed in Elli Work’s remarks. I don’t care a bit about anyone’s race, creed, sexual orientation or color. The lady is completely out of bounds.”

Colleague Wyvetta Wilson backed Gilchrist’s comments and said the American flag “represents everybody.”

“My husband fought in two wars under that flag,” she said. “I think it was a mistake to bring racism into that.”

“Touche,” added Councilor Kathie Eckman. “I’ll support that,” Mayor Young added.

Councilor Bill Friedman said he originally had voted to add the fourth flagpole but supported DeWolf’s effort to bring the issue to a close. “Whether I agree with it or not, it’s finished,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s over with and we can move toward something more substantive.”

Colleague John Schubert said, “I personally would like to have seen a more open process” to decide the issue rather than what he called “a somewhat closed-door process.” City Manager Larry Patterson took issue with the criticism, saying DeWolf tried to work out a compromise with the parties involved and only imposed the final decision with backing from most other city and county officials when it became clear an acceptable compromise could not be reached.

Update: Eastside site eyed for ‘relief nursery’

The city of Bend is proposing to offer a 5-acre site in northeast Bend to the Deschutes Children’s Foundation for a planned “relief nursery,” aimed at curbing abuse by aiding families.

City councilors will be asked Wednesday night to sell a former sewage treatment plant site off Full Moon Drive, near Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard, to the non-profit organization for $1. The foundation’s current westside site can’t expand due to its residential location and zoning constraints.

City planners spent several months looking for potentially suitable sites on Bend’s east side. The former sewage treatment plant was abandoned and sewer tanks were demolished when a new plant was built east of the city.

City planner Brad Emerson said the proposed site’s proximity to St. Charles Medical Center, a new Deschutes County health ervices building, subsidized housing, a future park and a possible elementary school site makes it an attractive spot for the type of services the foundation provides.

Time is of the essence, because the children’s group has received a donated structure that must be moved off its current site within a month, said Jan LaChapelle, foundation executive director. The relief nursery’s state grant is contingent upon the project being up and running by October.

The site is zoned for medium-density residential uses, a zoning that allows for the proposed nursery use. Other possible uses would require a city conditional use permit.

The site has no water, sewer, utilities or streets to it. The foundation wants to meet with park and school district planners to discuss a master plan for the site and expected development schedules to coordinate those improvements.

Update: County reverses nursery funding loss

Deschutes County (http://www.deschutes.org) successfully challenged a narrow loss of state funding sought for the “relief nursery,” aimed at helping families in crisis.

The Oregon Legislature had directed the state Commission on Children and Families to provide two grants of $250,000 to establish two new “relief nurseries,” similar to four others around the state. The services that are provided include drug and alcohol counseling, parenting classes and counseling for abused children.

Dave Anderson, a grant coordinator with Deschutes County, told commissioners in early April that the county had lost its request for funding by the narrowest of margins to Douglas and Multnomah counties – both of which already have relief nurseries in place.

In the state’s ranking criteria, Douglas County finished first with 78 points, while Deschutes and Multnomah counties tied with 68 points each. The five-member review committee – none from areas east of the Cascades – then voted 3-2 to give Multnomah County the second grant, Anderson said.

But as Commissioner Dennis Luke noted, both of the successful counties already have such programs in place, while the existing “Safety Net” program in Deschutes County has been struggling to find long-term funding.

The county later convinced the state that Deschutes County’s needs deserved a share of the funds, officials said.

Scott Johnson, executive director of the county’s Commission on Children and Families, said Deschutes County ranks 30th of 36 counties in “substitute care,” meaning more kids are removed from their homes. “The purpose of a relief nursery is to keep families together,” he said, while stemming a rising number of child abuse cases. The goal is not to duplicate existing services, Johnson said, but to bring the together in a program that focuses on the family as a whole in a positive manner.

The county has worked with the Central Oregon Community Action Agency Netwok to create a Web site (http://www.colink.org) where people can get answers about what human and emergency services are available in the region.

Candidate’s ‘county plan’ idea draws incumbents’ fire

Deschutes County commissioners are pouring cold water on one candidate’s idea of a “strategic plan.” They say the county already does a good job of setting goals and doesn’t need another costly document to sit on a shelf.

Randy Gordon, running as an independent for the seat being vacated by Linda Swearingen, says on his Web site (at http://www.randygordon.org) that his “first job will be to see that Deschutes County has a strategic plan that can be used effectively and consistently to improve living conditions throughout the region.”

In a Feb. 23 guest opinion piece in the Source, Gordon claims the county’s current government is an “antiquated system” and a “cumbersome bureaucracy” that confuses the public and frustrates the various departments accountable to the three county commissioners. Gordon, a La Pine resident and chairman of the Bend-La Pine School Board, is staging a write-in campaign in the May primary, to gain name familiarity and boost his chances in the November general election.

Gordon said only a strategic plan, created through a public process, will allow the county to address issues such as growth, water quality, solid waste and transportation. He said he was “astonished” to learn that the school district had no such plan and that it now has one in the works, with community input.

But Swearingen and colleagues Tom DeWolf and Dennis Luke were unanimous Monday in criticizing the idea of a county “strategic plan,” offering similar views during separate interviews with bend.com.

“We have strategic plans for a lot of our departments,” Swearingen said. “We’ve got goals and benchmarks which we use to judge our progress. Frankly, I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.”

Board defends county efforts

DeWolf and his colleagues noted that the county has a state-required 20-year land use plan, which also involved community input. It also has moved in the past couple of years to require that each department outline its immediate and long-term goals during the yearly budget process. The county also is moving to a two-year budget planning effort.

“Do we need another notebook?” DeWolf asked, noting that political candidates often need to find some issues to try to differentiate themselves from others in the running.

Luke said state benchmarks are a key element in viewing how each department is meeting its goals. The former state legislator said he looked on the Internet at a strategic plan developed by Lane County (http://www.co.lane.or.us/strategic/) and a “business plan” prepared by Clackamas County (http://www.co.clackamas.or.us/admin/bp.html).

What he found provides evidence in both directions on the idea of an overarching county strategic plan.

“They are great — well written, well thought out,” Luke said. “They spent a lot of money preparing them. And they are not following them.”

In response to the commissioners’ criticism, Gordon told bend.com that the budget process is a “very small, short-timed public process.”

“It’s not planning for a strategic plan in the normal sense. It’s what the departments’ plan for what they want to do. It’s not trying to find out what the people want.”

He said a strategic plan shouldn’t be overly specific or overly broad, but give residents a sense of county priorities and direction. He also acknowledged that the county had taken some positive steps in terms of planning and public involvement.

Still, Gordon said, if his two future colleagues don’t want such a plan, it won’t happen. “I’m a realist,” he said.

Experts: Runaway growth can be curbed with right tools

Central Oregonians should not feel helpless in the face of rapid growth, but instead should get involved and learn more about ways to better manage that growth, a forum panel told a Bend audience Wednesday night.

“Central Oregon will keep growing because of the desirability of the area,” said Dick Johnson, a Deschutes County Road Department engineer and president of the local Zero Population Growth chapter, which hosted the forum at the Central Oregon Environmental Center.

And restrictions on rural land uses will focus more and more pressure on increasing density within cities, said Steve Jorgensen, the county’s transportation planer. That pressure is compounded by the fact that 80 percent of the county’s land is federally owned and never will be built on, he said. In fact, farm- or forest-zoned lands comprise 94 percent of the county’s property, Jorgensen said.

Outside of cities, the county granted permits for 13,554 homes in the past decade, most of those in subdivisions platted 20 or 30 years earlier. Bend added 4,367 new dwellings in the ’90s, a sizzling 31 percent growth rate, and shows no sign of stopping. In fact, Bend, which just hit 50,000 population with last year’s annexation, could be approaching 75,000 by 2020 and the county could have almost 162,000 residents.

Unless state land use laws change to allow more urban development, the county essentially will be “built out” within 20 years, building growth pressures within the cities. “Something’s going to have to give or we’re going to run out (of buildable lots),” Jorgensen said.

Even after Bend annexed and took over planning for areas within its urban growth boundary, the county’s workload did not diminish, evidence of the continuing lure of rural living, he said. Timber revenues for road repairs have diminished, meanwhile, making it tougher to keep up.

Catherine Morrow, a county planner for 10 years, recently left to help the West Bend Property Co. plan its 20-year project, NorthWest Crossing, between Skyliner and Shevlin Park roads. The plans call for several “smart growth” techniques, such as mixing uses so that kids and adults can walk or bike to a store or work, rather than climb in a car.

More than 40 percent of all housing in Bend has been built in the past 10 years, Morrow said, calling the figure “pretty extraordinary.” Everyone knows the resulting problems, from traffic and crowded schools to higher taxes, as well as the positive results: more choices in shopping and entertainment, for example.

While the region falls behind on basic infrastructure, most notably roads, “some of the recent development is really ugly,” the planner said. But state law requires that cities plan for, accommodate and manage growth – not an easy task.

Some growth better than others, expert says

There is a big difference between two concepts of growth: development, meaning things that make a community better, and expansion, which makes it bigger, said Morrow and guest Michael Kinsley of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colo.

“Development can occur without expansion,” Morrow said. The trick, she said, is to “enhance livability and minimize expansion” by eliminating subsidies that fuel growth and adopting “growth-neutral policies” rather than the incentives spawned in the deep recession of the early 1980s.

“It’s difficult to put the brakes on and slow the rate of growth without violating the U.S. Constitution,” she said, noting the areas of private property rights and people’s freedom to travel.

But steps have been taken to restrain growth in some ways, such as development fees, design standards and recent debates over requiring voter approval of annexations and even a rarely-heard word in Oregon: a moratorium on building, which the state only allows on a temporary basis.

“We can’t say we’re going to put a cap on housing numbers. It’s just not legal in Oregon,” Morrow said. But the goals of Bend’s new 20-year land use plan, such as mixed uses and more connectivity, must be turned into laws with teeth, she said, to bring about more “smart growth,” such as more efficient land uses, transportation options, narrower streets and clustering homes to keep more open space.

“People want multiple cars, their boats…large lots,” she said. “People don’t want to increase density. That’s very controversial.”

A big key to easing the crunch, she said, is to change one’s own behavior: to walk or bike more, sell a car, support locally owned businesses and the like. “You could move to Baker or John Day,” she said, jokingly, but urged everyone to “be an active citizen. … (Local officials) need to know what you want, not just what you don’t want.”

Schools look to change ways

John Rexford, director of support services for the Bend-La Pine School District, said they see only a bit of a slowdown from a growth boom that has swelled student enrollment by more than one-third in the past 10 years. Three new schools are now being built, bringing a total of eight new schools on line since 1992, thanks to voter approval of two bond issues totaling more than $100 million. Now, the district may need seven more schools by 2015, deferring needed maintenance and supplies while scrambling to find enough land.

Oregon lawmakers have rejected development fees for schools so far, and an initiative effort is under way. A new planning effort is considering whether schools can be built on smaller parcels – the new Westside high school takes up 45 acres – perhaps by building more multi-story schools.

The final speaker was Carrie Whitaker, executive director of the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District, which is considering putting a money measure before voters in May 2001. To bring the park system up to national standards, it would take capial improvements estimated to cost a whopping $148 million, Whitaker said, exclaiming, “Ack!”

The district is handing out questionnaires to learn how the public would split $50 among six goals, from maintaining existing facilities to acquiring needed park land, developing neighborhood parks, building atltic fields and completing the Deschutes River and Tumalo Creek trail system.

Morrow said the agenda is tough, but clear: “This community has to quantify what’s a sustainable rate of growth that we can support over the long haul.” She said other areas of the state have required “concurrency,” meaning development could not leapfrog ahead of the needed infrastructure.

Whitaker said there’s hope in that the city leadership is hearing from more than just the development community. “I think the political climate is changing in this city, in just the past two years,” she said.

Central Oregon’s Census forms trickling in

That 2000 Census form laying on your desk among the unopened bills and junk mail may be far more important to politicians and government bureaucrats than it is to you. But they’d like for you to fill it out anyway.

Decades of declining voter registration and turnout have shown Americans’ distrust, anger or apathy, when it comes to government. And the first-ever Census commercials and ad campaigns apparently may not stem the tide this time.

For the first time, the Census Bureau is putting each local community’s response rates, updated daily, on the Internet at http://rates.census.gov and so far, the results are not encouraging. Through Wednesday, 46 percent of the Census forms had been returned nationwide. Oregon was faring a bit better, at 50 percent, but none of Central Oregon’s counties had hit that mark. Bend leads the region with 53 percent of Census forms returned, followed by Redmond at 52 percent, the same figure as Portland. (The figures reflect forms received and scanned in at the regional center in Pomona, Calif., as of two days ago.)

A decade ago, only 65 percent, less than two-thirds, of the Census forms were returned, down from 75 percent in 1980. This time, the Census Bureau fears the number will drop to 61 percent or lower. That means a bigger door-to-door effort to count the uncounted – but likely also means a larger number of people missed by the massive program.

“This will occur not because the Census Bureau does not want to or is not able to count, but because people in this country do not care about or want to be counted,” said Census Director Kenneth Prewitt.

One reason lots of people may be waiting is the wording on the front page of both the short and long Census forms, asking how many people “were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2000,” the official Census Day – which, of course, has yet to arrive.

“I’ve had a couple of people say, ‘I’m not a prophet,'” said Delores Reynolds, manager of the local Census 2000 office in Redmond.

Reynolds said indeed, some people who are listed on forms mailed earlier may die before Saturday, but that likely would be offset by babies who are born before their due date. “So it works both ways,” she said.

The biggest issue Reynolds is dealing with in 18 counties east of the Cascades is people with post office boxes. Census forms are not delivered to PO boxes. “We want the count at the house,” she said. “Those folks didn’t get a Census form yet. What will happen to them is they will be picked up in our no-response followup” that is due to begin April 28th.

Actually, Census Bureau workers already hand-delivered thousands of forms to homes in some parts of Central Oregon, such as Sunriver, near Sisters and at Crooked River Ranch, where mail isn’t delivered directly to houses. They could knock and hand over the forms, if someone is home, or leave them hanging on the door – but they “never, ever touch somebody’s mailbox,” which only the mail carriers can do, Reynolds said.

People who haven’t received a form yet and don’t want to wait several weeks to be counted can call the Census Bureau at 1-800-471-9424 or even fill out a form online at http://www.census.gov , Reynolds said. Otherwise, she said, “They can wait for us and we will be there.” If a home’s form isn’t returned by the 10th of April, it will be on the list for an in-person visit, starting the 28th.

Big turnout effort may not reverse slide

The Census Bureau has enlisted the help of cities, counties, states and many others in a grassroots effort to try to top the last Census response rate by at least 5 percent. Deschutes County’s target is 72 percent, for example, while it’s 70 percent in Jefferson County and 69 percent in Crook County.

The agency has stressed that accurate Census data helps make sure communities get their fair share of billions of dollars for federal programs such as Head Start, road projects, senior assistance and the like. But Reynolds noted the “outside possibility” that the Census also could result in a sixth Oregonian in the U.S. House of Representatives, once congressional reapportionment is done.

Even though individual Census data is kept secret for 72 years, the once-a-decade head count brings anti-government venom from some people.

“We hear, ‘The government doesn’t need to know this, they know enough about me already’ — it’s like they think somebody cares,” Reynolds quipped.