Edited Out

notes from a country editor

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Always be thinking about your gun

(A work in progress.)In July, I took a concealed carry gun class. And nearly every time I was called upon, I was wrong.
“When should you carry your weapon?” the instructor asked.
Me: “Um, whenever you feel comfortable doing so, and when you’re not entering a public building where carrying a weapon is prohibited.”
No. The answer was “always.”
Later, this answer is amended to be, yes, you should not carry a concealed weapon in places barred by law. But that’s an afterword. The point was clearly this — if you get a concealed carry permit, you should always be carrying. You should always be thinking about your gun, where it is, and what you’ll do with it.
Well, that would bring a whole new level of intensity to my life that I really don’t need.
The second time I was wrong, I was asked where my gun should be if I’m crossing a shadowy parking lot to my car.
“Ummm… in my purse?”
The woman to my right gives the answer the instructor was looking for — in my hand.
There are slow, serious nods all around.
By this point, I’m a bit embarrassed about getting two questions wrong, and I’m feeling ornery.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “but there’s not a parking lot in all of Forest Grove where I’ve ever felt so threatened as to need a gun in my hand.”
But it happens when you least expect it, the others say. You have to be prepared. Remember the Clackamas mall shooting? Remember Sandy Hook?
And I think to myself, I can’t live my life like that. I can’t constantly be thinking about improbable ways in which someone might attack me. On a beautiful sunny day. In a public park. At an elementary school. During a trip to the grocery. I can’t think about those crazy odds.
You have to be painstakingly aware of your weapon anytime you are carrying a firearm. Far worse is becoming a causal carrier who’s so used to the weight of a pistol, he doesn’t even think about it. Last December, while I was an editor in Tillamook, a local man brought his weapon to the local movie theater. It fell from his holster during the film and later was found by a seventh grader, who thankfully knew not to touch it and to call for help.
The man didn’t realize his gun had slipped from his holster.
Bad mistake. Always be aware.
At this point, you’re wondering why I even took a class to apply for a concealed carry at all. Just the media looking for a story, eh?
No, I really do want it.
I’ve sent my application to the sheriff’s office and I eagerly await the background check and fingerprinting that comes with getting a concealed carry license in Oregon. I have an appointment in October.
On the rare occasion in my life, I’ve felt threatened. And I want to know that should I ever feel threatened again I have more options in the manner in which I may arm myself. In the state of Oregon, a concealed carry permit is required to carry a weapon in the glove box of your car. So I’d like to get it, just in case.
The class I took as a prerequisite for this privilege was only about two hours long, and no part of it discussed the laws or ethics of concealed carry. In fact, I asked about the laws and was told this class purposefully didn’t go into it.
When I went through the process to obtain a conceal carry in Kentucky, I took a multiple-day course, with a workbook, range time, and a final test that required proficiency in written and shooting capabilities.
Specially, once must understand the provisions of KRS Chapter 503
relating to the use of deadly force in self-defense.
There are no such requirements in Oregon. Ain’t that something?

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Online newspaper comments are ruining my day and eroding any faith I once had in humanity

To the person who wrote this anonymous comment on a freaking tree planting article:

The teachers obviously use this ridiculous scam of a day termed “earth day”, 
to further push their left wing agenda. They contact the local yokel media and advise them that their little kiddies are going to venture out and plant a tree, pick up garbage, wade around a creek, etc., and like the good little puppets they are the locals send out a reporter to cover such tripe. Do these Democrat teachers also read to their little naive skulls of mush several of the comments that the “earth day” leaders spewed back in 1970 when this sham day started. Just google “earth day 1970 predictions”. You will see these liberals were predicting that the world would basically be over by this time. It is unbelievable. They were wrong about everything. They have no credibility then and they have none now. But, they do attract the gullible fools who all believe their liberal pablum and the only way to solve all problems is momoney momoney momoney.  
Just curious…Do these liberal teachers do anything extraordinary on Veterans day, Lincolns BD, Washingtons BD, Easter, etc. Answer….NO.

Your rantings in the comments thread of a feature article on a school event aren’t going to change anyone’s minds about climate change. It does nothing to foster constructive discussion about the issue. All you’ve done, likely, is make some 11-year-old kid, who was so excited to be in the paper, feel like crap. Why would you do this? Who are you? What does your day consist of? Do you sit at a computer screen for hours waiting for opportunities on Oregonlive to express your pent up rage?

Have you been to a school recently? They always do programs for Veterans Day and Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday and probably the little ones do stuff for Easter despite the fact that it’s a religious holiday.

Are you OK? Do you want to talk about it? I’m sorry your grandkids don’t call. I’m sorry you feel like no one is listening. Please stop watching so much cable news. Go outside. Get some fresh air. Plant a tree.

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It’s not goodbye, Tillamook, it’s see you soon

Never doubt the power of print. Last Wednesday, The Oregonian ran an article in its business section, “Samantha Swindler to serve as editor of the Forest Grove Leader.” And within a few hours, dozens of people were calling, congratulating, and asking, “is it true?”

I’m both sad and excited to tell you, yes, it’s true.

I didn’t think the Big O would run a story in its main publication. I thought the story would only be in the new free-distribution weekly publication, the Forest Grove Leader, which I will join the first of February. And I thought I might have another week or two before having to pen this good-bye column.

I came to Tillamook in July 2010. I knew nothing about the area, except that it rained a lot and I’d better like cheese.

I liked the cheese far more than the rain.

But there’s a whole lot more to this community than dreary weather and “dairy air.”

The people, only the people, make this tragic weather bearable.

I wouldn’t blow smoke up your skirt, Tillamook County. You are awesome. You have amazing volunteers, a great County Commission, a diverse economy, natural resources, a wonderful community spirit, the best po’ boy west of the Mississippi (at the Schooner), and a locally-owned newspaper staff that cares about you all.

I didn’t go looking to leave Tillamook. I was approached about an opportunity to do community journalism for a paper owned by The Oregonian. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, in a small and beautiful town that still has a sense of identity, but is close enough to Portland for me to make some big changes in my personal life.

My role for the Headlight Herald has changed since I first joined the staff as “general manager.” My title is now director of news for all of Country Media, which is headquartered in Tillamook and owns eight publications in Oregon and another eight in and around North Dakota. I work with the editorial staffs at all the papers and have less and less direct oversight of the Headlight Herald. I’ve left that in the hands of the very capable editor, Mary Faith Bell. She’s picked up where I left off, and has even better things in store for the paper.

I won’t be going too far, so I plan to still be involved in some things, namely as a member of the Tillamook Association for the Performing Arts.

I regret that I’ve never had the opportunity to see the Pig N Ford races. I still want to take a trip with Kayak Tillamook. I climbed Neahkahnie Mountain, but not yet on a clear day. There are still plenty of reasons to come back to Tillamook County. I’ll be around.

You will definitely be missed.

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Gene Tish’s awesome speech about the road bond and a county-wide hotel/motel room tax

First let me say that I think the road bond, if I have a problem with it, it’s that it’s too small, but you’ve got to take a step. And we’ve got to do it. Washington has solved the problem for us for a lot of years; the good news is maybe they won’t have enough money left to get in our way as much anymore.
But we’ve got to take care of this problem. We’ve got to do it. And I appreciate the fact that it should be spread over a number of different funding sources. I operate a 50-room hotel. We operate it as a bed and breakfast; it’s a retirement project for us. It’s only taking about 110 hours a week right now. And like most things it’s taken more money than we expected.
But the good news is, when we reopened, it was closed, the guests we got were coming to Garibaldi and looking for a place to stay. Now, a vast majority of our guests are people who are coming to stay at the Garibaldi House, and if we were in Newport they’d be going to Newport or if we were in Astoria they’d be going to Astoria. But we’ve been able to build, market that reputation as a comfortable place to put down anchor on the coast and then travel and do things.
Now, over half of our guests in the summer time are from east of the Mississippi. Many of those will come for a week to 10 days at a time, and they’ll then take day trips. Last year for the first time I found guests taking day trips to Portland. That was kind of fun. They didn’t want to stay there, they wanted to stay out here, but they take day trips to go see Portland.
Dan [Biggs, economic development director] mentioned our goal, and when Carol and I bought the Garibaldi House, we had determined that as an active retirement investment we wanted to buy a hotel. That was something that I had some background in and we wanted an early, active retirement project in that. We looked at over 30 properties across five states, and we chose this one. One of our criteria was that we wanted it to be in a location where the time and money we invested could potentially make a difference. So we looked for an area that was economically struggling and small enough that our meager resources and energy could potentially make a difference.
And one of our goals, and I shared this with Dan some time ago – and I’m happy to tell you that according to our rough calculations, which all we can do is really rough calculations, we did achieve that last year – was that the guests we bring in, from the fishing trips, from the restaurants, from the money they spend at the Cheese Factory or the Blue Heron and a lot of them down to the Pelican Pub, other places, we want to try to see if we can get our guests to leave another $1 million behind each year in other businesses.
And then the chamber of commerce statistics tell us that that’s going to turn four to six times. So that can have a big-time difference.
I think it’s really important. I mean, we collect a lot of money in TRT taxes now. Garibaldi has an 8 percent tax and one percent to the state. I don’t pay that. I collect it. I do not recall, and I know there are differences of opinion on this, but I can’t recall any of the 16,000-plus guests I’ve had so far [asking] what the TRT tax rate was. I don’t think it’s going to matter. I think it’s important that across the county it’s relatively close, doesn’t have to be identical, but it’s got to be relatively close. And I think that’s important and I think it’s important that we market Tillamook County. I don’t want to market my hotel; I don’t want to market Garibaldi. I want to market Tillamook County. We’ll all be better if we do that.
I think this is an important thing to do.
And I think that, when you think about the amount of money that’s going to be collected in the TRT taxes, think about what that can do when it’s invested. If the process of determining the expenditures is done intelligently and I’ve looked at what they have planned and I think they’ve done an excellent job with that so far, and the money will be spent intelligently, we can expect a tremendous return on that.
And as Dan pointed out, there’s a lot that can be done to promote the shoulder seasons. Let’s face it, from Thanksgiving to maybe early February, mid-February, we can’t do a lot. Although, two years in a row I’ve had over 100 percent increase in the month of December over the prior year, so you can do some, but 100 percent increase over not much is still not much. But it’s growing.
But the shoulder seasons, there’s some tremendous opportunity for all of us…
And I think we’ve got to fix the roads. That’s a responsibility for safety, for our kids, for our families, for the people that are involved in the economy and working, we’ve got to do that.
But the second part, I’m really excited about because I think it totally can be a game changer for Tillamook County. We need a diverse economy. We need several legs in our economic stool. Tourism is just one of those, but it’s a very positive one, it’s a low-impact one, it can really, really make a difference.

You can watch Tish’s speech, and the entire meeting, here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/28361854

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The Wave, the community newspaper serving Rockaway Beach, New York, shared these photos with us at the Headlight Herald. Rockaway Beach, Oregon is holding a chili fundraiser for its sister city. The destruction is particularly eerie because here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re just waiting for the “big one.” One day our Rockaway will be in far worse shape, I’m afraid.

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Thoughts on an election complaint

Candidate for Tillamook County sheriff, Bill Spidal, has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State Elections Division over a campaign ad paid for by Sheriff’s Office staff. You can read the nuts and bolts of the complaint here:

But here’s my two cents.
First off, Andy Long wasn’t involved at all in these ads. He couldn’t (wouldn’t) be, because that would be violating Oregon statutes that prohibit elected officials from pressuring public employees to vote a certain way. That was one of Bill Spidal’s first complaints on the Headlight Herald online message boards, but he soon dropped that argument and it does not appear in his official elections complaint.
If Long had been involved, it would be a much bigger issue than the complaint we’re currently discussing.
I see no validity to the argument that Long should have known something was wrong. This is not the first time Sheriff’s Office employees have gotten together to stand behind their sheriff. They did it for Todd Anderson back when he was running for office, too. Then – as now – I believe the staff thought they were doing everything by the book. The candidate wasn’t involved, didn’t pressure them or ask them to do it. The staff didn’t do it “on the clock” or at the office. And – a key point here – they signed their names to the ad.
Campaign finance laws exist so that people can know who is funding campaigns. Clearly, there was no intent to break the law – the staff wanted everyone to know who funded it. That’s the whole point of the ad.
I can understand why the deputies were confused. I read the ORS about campaign funding three times (it’s pretty darn long) and came away with a different understanding after each reading. It’s complicated. Nowhere does it specifically say that a non-candidate group of people spending any amount of money needs to register a “political committee.” They should add that to the FAQ. I only gleaned that information from a media spokesperson.
So, technically, if you and your sister go in together for a $50 custom campaign sign in support of your neighbor who’s running for City Council – on your own, without your neighbor’s knowledge – you need to register as a political committee.
Or maybe not. The law is confusing.
That’s the only issue up for review by the elections division – did a group of people spend money to fund a political campaign (clearly, yes) and did they fail to register as a political committee (clearly, yes.)
I predict the group will be found in violation of the law, for the simple fact of not filing the right paperwork. And the “penalty,” if any, will be insignificant. Certainly, there was no intent to break the law by hiding who contributed to the ad – while intent probably won’t be a mitigating factor considered by the Secretary of State in determining whether the law was broken, it might be when assessing a penalty.
Spidal also complains that the group didn’t keep accurate records of exactly how much money was contributed by each person who signed the ad. I’ve been told the amounts ranged from $5 to $20 – some folks likely signed and didn’t chip in any money but wanted to show their support. I have no doubt that the people who signed that ad thought they were abiding by the law, and because the individual contribution amounts were so small, they figured detailed record keeping wasn’t necessary.
And because the law is so difficult to understand, I’m still not sure if it was.
But I am sure that we shouldn’t miss the most important message in all of this. Sixty-eight people who work or volunteer with the Sheriff’s Office put their name to that ad, and they want you to know they support Andy Long.

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Food cart ‘pod’ for Tillamook?

The city of Tillamook is holding an open house from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Tillamook 911 Center (2311 Third Street) for the community to give input on the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
Surely, a major topic will be the future of the old Safeway property, now completely demolished, taken down to dirt, and owned by the city. Nothing permanent can be built there – the purpose of the project was to alleviate flooding by creating a porous surface that will absorb more water. Plans are to put a “showcase” park in the area, though what exactly that will look like remains uncertain.
I’d like the city to consider putting some summer food cart spots along the Highway 101 frontage in the future park. A handful of carts have already located in some of the flood-prone spots in North Tillamook (such as Lindsey’s Lattes, shown above), but there’s no organized “pods” as you can find in Portland.
With kids running around, along the highway isn’t an ideal spot for park space – but it is ideal for retail. Permanent establishments aren’t a possibility, but portable food carts are – add a gravel lot, a few picnic tables, an awning, and you’ve got a nice gateway to a community park. The site is already set up for electric and sewer hook ups. It could be a “buffer” to the park proper. And it’s a way to allow temporary businesses to take advantage of the summer tourist traffic without enduring the difficult winter slowdown. Anyone who’s tried to turn left from that Safeway side street in the summer knows the kind of steady traffic that barrels through the area. If we offered some RV parking, surely there’d be business.
There would still be plenty of space behind a food cart row to develop a park that connected with the Hoquarten Slough. Rent from the carts could help pay for at least the park’s maintenance, if not development.
I was talking today to a couple who owns a food cart in Portland. They pay $650 a month for their rental spot, which includes utilities. In Tillamook, five or six carts together could generate a small but steady income to invest into the Parks Department. When I asked if they’d be interested in a summer-only Tillamook pod, the couple nodded and gave me their business card.
But that’s just one idea. Share yours with the City. If you can’t attend the open house (it is, after all, the same night as the Headlight Herald/AAUW Political Forum) give your input to City Planner David Mattison at 503-842-2472, ext. 3465.

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"Pole Dancing for Jesus" during the Lower Nehalem Community Trust Harvest Festival in north county.