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LWV offered thoughtful commentary at meeting

Steven Ryan’s letter (The World, April 19) skewers the League of Women Voters of Coos County for presenting “cherry-picked” information at the previous evening’s forum at the Egyptian Theatre on the safety and economics of the Jordan Cove Energy Project. As a participant, I thought the League offered reasoned, informed, and thoughtful commentary on a controversial project with long-term environmental consequences.

Ryan sidestepped my principal argument that distant corporate investors have often abused and exploited the landscape and communities in Coos County. In this case, Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation is bankrolling the Jordan Cove Project, and in their words, providing a clean-energy “supercharge, bringing more than a million dollars to our economy every time a ship arrives.” Paraphrasing Pembina’s web site, Ryan treats Jordan Cove as the Second Coming, a company that promises to deliver “clean energy” via a 229-mile natural gas pipeline across Oregon to Coos Bay where the gas will be safely and seamlessly converted to liquid form and shipped “to Tokyo with no hurricane risk.”

Corporations, and Pembina is no exception, are in the business of lining stockholder pockets, and downplaying the intrusive environmental effects of what could arguably be the most costly construction project in Oregon history. It is interesting to note that proposed LNG terminals have been rejected for a host of safety and environmental reasons on the infinitely larger Columbia River, while the Canadian corporation continues to push ahead with the project on the much smaller Coos Bay, with a population of approximately 30,000 people.

Coos County citizens have a long tradition of civic engagement, of people working together as caring stewards of a special place. Although its population has aged since the 1980s, the county is much more than the “retirement and tourist community” that Steven Ryan falsely accused me of promoting. The Bay Area needs economic development enterprises that are consistent with its natural treasures, the waterfronts on the lower and upper bay. Those initiatives should parallel ventures put forth by the Confederated Tribes, with proposals that enhance the area’s cultural diversity and attractiveness. Such projects would not pose a threat to the life and welfare of the Bay Area but rather, advance the local potential of truly livable communities.

Bill Robbins

Corvallis

Taking of property in public’s best interest?

Spring cleaning may soon have a new meaning to residents of Coos County courtesy of their Board of Commissioners (BOC).

During this year’s budget hearings the BOC disclosed that at this years Associated Oregon Counties (AOC) meeting they proposed a change to the Homestead Emption law whereby unpaid real property liens due to county code violations (cluttered with cars for example); would now be subject to forfeiture laws.

Though a change to existing Oregon State Law is required; the BOC said they’ve created a line item within this year’s budget to fund the program should approval be forthcoming.

In essence the BOC would become the arbitrator of public sensibilities. Would the clear cuts within the county forest; visible from the ‘Charleston to Bandon Scenic Tour Route’; along Seven Devils road constitute a violation, or would the county be exempt?

One commissioner even chided one county landowner who is currently serving a year in county jail for his failure to acknowledge repeated (80-90) code enforcement actions. If the law is changed forfeiture would likely be their next step.

The BOC’s dilemma; if the landowner refuses to comply even by lien placement; there is no other legal option to force compliance. Citizenry civil disobedience prevents collection of revenue. The BOC views this a loophole; that must be closed.

Sound familiar; as previously communicated the BOC currently refuses to abide by state law requiring them to contract with Bay Area Enterprises (BAE); who provides work and training services to people of various disabilities within the community. Since they face no penalties for non-compliance they’re able to redirect those dollars elsewhere. Sound hypocritical?

What do we have to fear? Other governmental jurisdictions in the country use this law to seize real estate worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; selling it to cover a miniscule lien (less than $1,000), then pocket the difference.

Those least likely to comply may already be suffering under an existing economic burden; hampering their ability to defend their Fourth Amendment rights to unreasonable seizure. Is it judicious for the BOC to single out those most downtrodden for forfeiture; rendering them homeless?

Does the taking of any citizen’s property in that manner, really in the public’s best interest? Do government programs generating large sums of revenue each year ever go away; or do they expand to sustain them?

Steve Scheer

Coos Bay

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