Sometimes I can't believe how rich the irony in some stories.
So a year or two ago, if memory serves, a rather high powered real estate agent, Lawnae Hunter, (I believe she came from the great state of California) decided that we local hicks were going about this real estate analysis thingy all wrong.
We needed to hire an outside professional to come and tell us what's really, really, happening to our economy.
Well, I have some sympathy for that notion.
What you had then were bubble bloggers, who most readers just rolled their eyes at, (I suppose we came off as cranks except for the little fact that we were usually right) and you had the 'professional' real estate folks, who were so immersed in their world that they couldn't see past their own noses, and who resorted to knee jerk reactions of "Best time to Buy!" and "The Market has hit Bottom!"
The media didn't know which way to turn. After years of collecting ad revenue from the real estate market, suddenly it was clear that --well, things were going wrong.
So the local media has swung back and forth over the last few years -- trending toward the "things are getting better" camp, but still willing to publish the occasional inconvenient fact.
Anyway, back to this outside "expert" they hired. Bill Watkins.
I'm pretty sure they expected him to give us all some good news. And he tried. He really really tried. He had a list of prescriptions for our economic health that sounded hopeful and helpful. Except, as any of us bubble bloggers would have told you, most of these solutions weren't going to work in Bend because of the unique nature of our location and resources.
But they sounded good.
At the same time, though, he was willing to point out the dangers to our economy and warn that it was going to take a long time to recover EVEN IF his rosy solutions took hold.
Turns out, the more physical distance he actually has from Bend, the more realistic he is.
According to the article in the Sunday Bulletin, he gave a very negative picture of Central Oregon to a Portland radio station.
"I don't pull punches," he said.
So the irony is, this "Deschutes Economic Alliance" which originally was going to pay the fellow, has asked the County to help pay for it.
And the County doesn't want to pay, because the message is "negative." (Not whether it's true or not, they just don't like his tone, apparently.)
So what about the business folk who banded together to create this survey? Hey, they are "pursuing a fundraising initiative to assure its solvency for the next five years."
Which means, what?, they are willing to pay for a objective outside expert who will tell them the opposite of what they really want to hear?
Good luck with that.
The high powered founder "could not be reached for comment." Big surprise Another grand plan that the founder assured would be -- to paraphrase -- 'easy, don't worry about it, it will all be paid for...'
The Deschutes Economic Alliance -- which I'm betting is filled with members who really don't like the government much -- nevertheless see nothing wrong in asking the County to save their ass.
The expert, meanwhile, wasn't expert enough to see that he might not get paid.
I want to repeat that irony -- the expert wasn't quite expert enough to figure out he might not get paid.
Nevertheless, he was willing to be blunt about our prospects:
"They're in bad shape," he says about us, "with an unemployment rate ranging from just a little below 15 percent to over 17 percent...
"Home prices have just been decimated, still are very weak."
Here's the most ironic statement of all -- and a sure indicator of the mindset of our government and business leaders:
"County Commissioner Tammy Baney said that Watkins' comments went against the Deschutes Economic Alliance's goal to change the region's image from 'poverty with a view' to 'possibilities with a view.'"
So, we want your objective assessment -- but only as long as we agree with it?
I think they don't understand the words "objective" or "facts". The intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy are so immense that I have to believe that these people have never had to think rigorously and logically in their life.
Look, you can't hire an "outside" expert for his "objective assessment" and then not pay him when he doesn't tell you what you want to hear! (Another lawsuit, costing us much more than the original tab anyone?)
More dangerously, to us citizens of Deschutes County and our budgets, she seems to think the whole problem is a public relations issue.
"Factual yet positive" she demands.
So what happens if the facts aren't positive? We'll only pay you if you whitewash the facts, fellow. (Pay attention, whatever expert they hire next! Pay attention citizens, to the quality of the report what will ensue.....)
I'm amazed that someone in a position of authority, with millions of tax dollars in her power, could say something so ridiculous out-loud.
Well, I would be amazed, if I hadn't heard similar thinking out of our local business community and local government before, during, and after the crash.
The irony is so rich, I feel sick to my stomach.
2 months ago