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Cats Rick Beasley

It turns out the plan to cure Covid-19 in Lincoln County is to herd cats.

Anybody hoping for more than that should watch the recent emergency meeting between county commissioners and elected elders from six cities — Newport, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Toledo, Siletz and Waldport. VIDEO On second thought, just listen to the audio version — seeing hollow-eyed local officials leaning into their basement computer screens might trigger a rally to throw open the barber shops and beauty parlors, dangerous thinking these days.

Deep into a statewide lockdown, commissioners convened the joint session to double-down on the decision to close hotels and vacation rentals, extending their decree to May 31 and possibly longer. The edict exceeded even Gov. Kate Brown’s sweeping shutdown of everything else, except pot shops, liquor stores and any business with an Oregon Lotto decal on the window.

County commissioners — the triumvirate of Hall, Hunt and Jacobson — have made it clear they are in charge of this calamity, issuing mandatory edicts, dire warnings and helpful news releases including the welcome bulletin, “Handwashing Songs,” with 20-second ditties by Pink Floyd and Prince.

Summoning the mayors and city councilors for a straw poll was a sort of blood pact to put everybody’s finger on the trigger, however.

“This is like herding cats,” complained Commission Chairman Kaety Jacobson as she tried to conduct a roll call with dozens of local leaders over a scratchy voice connection that sounded like a cockpit recording.

It was the kind of lofty observation you’d expect from high-on-up, where bureaucratic mandarins are using the emergency to remind us of our failings, such as bigotry. The county’s Covid-19 website, for example, notes how “communities of color,” jammed as they are into public housing with jobs they can’t do at home, suffer disproportionately from the pandemic. “Covid-19 has compounded the ongoing burden of living in a racist society,” the document intones, citing another small hurdle to clear before we get our lives back.

Moreover, it was an unfitting comment. Unlike cats, the mayors and their retinues were docile, obedient and eager to fall in line. Nobody questioned the science behind the decision or the flimsy progress made since March 15, even when the county health director didn’t know how many tests had been conducted — the Holy Grail of government benchmarks.

Typically-combative Mayor Dick Anderson of Lincoln City joked with Commission Chair Kaety Jacobson before jumping aboard. Robert Gambino of Depoe Bay, whose city budget has been shredded by the loss of room taxes, said he was “in favor” of keeping the doors closed until “treatment is in place.” Attorney David Allen, a Newport city councilor, barely slowed the momentum with “procedural” concerns. Frail murmurings about ending the lockdown were quickly dismissed like crank calls.

The ground is shifting daily on what we know about Covid-19, but our local governments, led by the county commission, appear locked into an outmoded response. Despite a month-long windup to assure businesses and workers they would have a plan to get the economy on its feet, widespread testing is non-existent, basic retail/business protocols are a mystery, contact tracing is insufficient and there is no word yet on PPE stockpiles — all requirements to reopen business and return to a normal existence.

The platitudes expressed by local leaders who claim to feel the pain of Lincoln County’s private sector ring hollow without assurances to workers and businesses they can begin their recovery on May 31, rather than the amorphous reopening strategy that has been described by Commissioner Claire Hall as “the slow turning-up of a dial.”

But then, it’s hard to herd cats.

Rick Beasley
Rick Beasley is a simple writer who collects sniper rifles for a hobby. During an astonishing publishing career that spans five decades and continues at Lincoln City Homepage, he has collected 17 awards for excellence in journalism from various organizations including nine first-place Best Writing awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

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  1. Jay,
    If what you mean by “simple writer” Beasley gets to the point that might be something you should consider. Although “simple minded” is close, and works well for your posts.
    Bottom line is while you and yours are bloviating And giggling 34 counties have filed reopening plans while LC has not. Spin that.

  2. I signed up for and watched the April 27 remote Lincoln County electronic meeting that it took Rick Beasley a week and a half to summarize in his simple-minded article on May 7. Those of us who have participated these kinds of remote meetings, even small ones, know first-hand how hard it is to make sure they are done in an orderly manner and yet allow for every member attending to fully participate in the decision-making process.

    The meeting that Commissioner Jacobson chaired had as its core participants, not only all the Commissioners of Lincoln County and its Public Health Director, but also ALL THE MAYORS of the seven major cities that make up our county – PLUS most of the CITY MANAGERS and individual CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS of each of those cities!

    Before the meeting started, the input of two dozen Lincoln County residents was heard and then, as the meeting progressed, not just each city mayor and city manager, but each individual city councilor was given the opportunity to weigh in on the decision making process AND, from time to time, many of the city councils participating in that meeting, had to make motions and vote on issues DURING THE MEETING, pertaining to the agenda items being decided.

    This meeting was a HUGE challenge to chair and to tackle the passing of complex COVID-19 regulations at, all the while adhering to Robert’s Rules of Order throughout the discussion, motion and roll call voting process at not only the County Commission level, but also at the individual City Council level. So, Katie appropriately used the term “herding cats” to inject some welcome humor into the task at hand.

    After reading Rick’s article, I thought the tag line he attached to it was quite appropriate for its content: “Rick Beasley is a simple writer who collects sniper rifles for a hobby.”

  3. “Actions for an Equity-Centered Response to COVID-19 “, that’s our PC state, making Covid-19 into a racial issue. What BS.

  4. Why can’t stores be opened with a stipulation if you go in wear a mask , or limit the customers . It seams to work in Safeway , and all the hardware stores.
    Let’s go let people get there life’s back.

  5. Great article Rick
    Hope to get the virus and die so I never have to hear these bag of hammers bloviate again.


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