Test case for democracy

The publicly funded Mirror Pond Project — with its skewed polls and committees heavily weighted in favor of preserving this abiotic impoundment on the Deschutes River — is a test case for the viability of democracy in Central Oregon.

Recently, the “ad hoc Mirror Pond Committee” held a possibly illegal and certainly improper closed meeting. This is the latest outrage in a so-called public process that is anything but.

For too long this community has staggered under the influence of powerful special interests that use government to do their bidding. We finally saw a popular uprising against rule by fiat in Bend with the election last November of city councilors pledged to restore transparency.

Even so, our local power elite has chosen to revert to old habits, and the Mirror Pond Project has been turned into a classic case of political behind-the-scenes manipulation to arrive at a predetermined outcome.

The original Mirror Pond Project Web page announced that “ultimate decision making authority” would rest with the five-member steering committee. Then, on May 16, the Bend Park & Recreation District Board wrote, “the ultimate decision will be made jointly by the elected representatives of the Bend City Council and the BPRD Board.”

Now we learn that the new “ad hoc” committee (consisting of people from the old committees) will be “authorized to select a final plan for the future of Mirror Pond.”

The $200,000 that we are shelling out for this dismal project should, at least, buy us a vote.

Foster Fell

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

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