Secret nonsense

— John Costa / The Bulletin /

With so much flawed thinking, it is hard to know where to begin to assess the process that led to a secret meeting on the future of Mirror Pond.

As Bulletin reporter Hillary Borrud revealed, the Bend City Council and Bend Park & Recreation District created an ad hoc, joint committee in July to recommend a solution to Mirror Pond’s silting.

Foregoing the you-should-know-better advice we give our children, they got caught with their fingers in the jar of secret dealings.

Notwithstanding the apparent contempt for the public meetings law of the state, our ad local hoc-ers added insult to injury by thumbing their noses at the holy grail of transparency.

Fortunately, they came to their senses and decided to hold future meetings in the open, with public notice and access.

But the bad taste remains.

Doesn’t this make you wonder how capable or wise our leadership is when it can so badly stumble into predictable and completely unnecessary trouble?

One of the justifications for the secrecy is that land and property negotiations cannot be responsibly done in public.

But understanding that a properly constructed public process allows for executive sessions to conduct such negotiations in private, it’s hard to believe that this was the motivation.

Given the suspicions that secrecy cultivates, it is understandable why another motivation, born of a flawed process, has been suggested.

Let’s start with the basics.

Mirror pond is the iconic vista of downtown Bend.

Not that something else could not be in the future, but today it is a creature born of the Pacific Power & Light dam at Newport Avenue.

As backed-up ponds will do when fed by rivers, it is being transformed by silt.

What the city and park district face is less a complicated question than a white-hot political potato.

And what do stalwart leaders do with so hot a potato? They throw it to someone else.

Dredging the silt out of the ponds is, to a very sincere and very vehement group of our citizens, a wholly unnatural activity.

To not dredge is, to another group, to cave in to the Thousand Friends of Every Weed, Slug and Mud Beast found in and around the pond.

The great flaw in this has two parts.

The first was an exercise in junk science called an online survey.

It found the community split. Wow. Don’t you feel informed?

I would love to see our elected officials develop backbones, make decisions and then justify their views at the polls, but if you are going to use a survey as a deflective shield, at least make it scientific.

Spend a few bucks on this rather than on lawyers to defend your secrecy impulses, and do it right.

Second, let’s focus on the real issue, which is the dam.

No dam, no pond.

Conversely, no pond as we know it, no need for a dam.

That’s the key issue.

Personally, I think the pond should be preserved.

But, to spend millions of dollars on dredging, or even some lesser approach, when the pond could or should disappear, is the height of sentimental foolishness.

My real concern is whether the leaders who brought us to this impasse have the capacity to deal with a sophisticated issue that cuts across science, tradition, politics and culture.

Or, have they all along had a verdict that the evidence didn’t support? So they went to a secret advisory process.

Whatever, it doesn’t say much for them or their respect for us.