If House Majority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, is even the slightest bit interested in winning Republican converts in North Bend - or even in holding on to the GOP votes that are already there - he's going about it in a strange way.
Scott and fellow Republican leaders in the House have decided to kill an airport expansion intended to draw more golfers to the south coast's highly regarded Bandon golf courses. The project would relieve what local officials describe as a "choke point" that is restricting tourism, providing a much-needed boost for a south coast region that has long suffered from a depressed economy and high unemployment.
House Republicans should be falling over themselves to get their fingerprints on Senate Bill 152, which would direct the state to borrow $10 million in lottery-backed bonds to supplement the $13 million already pledged by federal and private sources to expand the North Bend airport. After all, this is a measure that has "jobs" written all over it - construction jobs to expand the airport and tourism-industry jobs to accommodate the well-heeled golfers from across the country who are eager to play the acclaimed courses.
As a matter of fact, Republicans in the Senate sang the project's praises when that chamber passed the measure with a 27-0 vote. Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, declared that the Legislature had a chance to make Bandon Dunes "one of our bright shining stars." Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, called the proposal a "poster child" for future economic development projects.
So why is Scott dead set on killing SB 152 and dealing a harsh blow to the North Bend region's economic development hopes? The reason is a freshman Democratic representative named Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay - or, to be more specific, the reason is Roblan's conscience.
In May, Roblan was pushing a Democratic-backed education-funding bill to the House floor. That's hardly surprising, given that Roblan is a former principal at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay and understands better than most the dire impacts of the state's chronic school funding woes on rural schools.
Republicans sent word to Roblan that they wanted to recall the education bill - and they wanted him to support the recall. They warned that if Roblan persisted with the education bill it could put the airport bill on a glide path to destruction.
When Roblan understandably refused to be bullied into abandoning a bill that reflected his commitment to education, Scott dropped the ax on the airport bill. It was payback time, regardless of the impact on the people who live and work - and those who don't have jobs but want to work - in North Bend.
Scott even had the shameless audacity to accuse Roblan of playing "partisan politics." It's Scott and fellow Republican leaders in the House who are engaging in a political vendetta that shows utter disregard for those Oregonians who make the south coast their home and who want both good schools and a good economy.
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|Title Annotation:||Editorials; House majority leader blocks North Bend project|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jul 9, 2005|
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