Thursday, July 9, 2020

The last mayor of Depoe Bay

Latest articles

Oregon FBI goes virtual with ‘Teen Series’

Portland's FBI field office has launched an online learning experience for students designed to let them explore the world of law enforcement.

Lincoln City Police officers arrest identity theft suspects

Lincoln City Police Officer Hayden Tolzman responded to a report of possible identity theft by a male and female at the Shearwater Inn, Sunday, July 5, that led to a foot chase, taser deployment and a stolen gun.

Most restaurants and bars in Oregon following COVID-19 requirements

Oregon Liquor Control Commission inspectors swept across Oregon over the Fourth of July weekend and checked 800 businesses for compliance with social distancing requirements issued by Governor Kate Brown.

Biplane soars through space and time

In the skies over Depoe Bay and Lincoln City, a modern-day barnstormer in an open-cockpit biplane is giving passengers a journey through space and time seldom found at the soulless tarmacs of modern airports.

DA says Clark County Seven did not commit bias crime

Seven Clark County men were recently arrested in Lincoln City for illegal fireworks, yelling racial slurs and using Nazi salutes to harass a black family on Independence Day, prompting the Lincoln County District Attorney to issue a statement about the incident.

Father and son dispute leads to attempted murder charges

Oregon State Police say a son used his truck as a weapon against his father after an altercation while driving on Independence Day, nine miles east of Waldport.

K9 Bonni captures hit and run suspect in Newport

Lincoln County Sheriff K9 Bonni and her handler, Deputy Zach Akin, located and apprehended a man alleged to be the perpetrator of a hit and run on Yaquina Bay Bridge Saturday, July 4.

‘Lil Wes’ is back in Lincoln City and has put cancer in remission

Wesley Allen Michael Culver said he went into shock when he got the news that he had cancer on December 12, 2019 at just 14-years-old.

UPDATED: Seven Clark County men arrested for harassment in Lincoln City

Seven Clark County, Wash. men were arrested on Independence Day by Lincoln City Police for harassing a black family, launching illegal fireworks and causing a disturbance on the beach in front of Inn at Spanish Head. 

Lincoln County reports fourth local COVID-19 death

A 96-year-old woman is Lincoln County’s fourth reported local COVID-19 related death. She died July 2 at her residence and had underlying medical conditions.

Related articles

robert gambino depoe bay
Mayor Robert Gambino of Depoe Bay (Photo by Rick Beasley)

It would be difficult to name a more Utopian spot on the Oregon coast than Depoe Bay, a picturesque seafaring town with 1,600 largely blissful residents who are about to be flattened by a financial meteorite.

Home to a wildly-successful resort, a vibrant shopping and restaurant scene, and world-class fishing and whale watching, Depoe Bay exudes in every direction the wealth it draws through tourism and affluent retirees. Since becoming a city in 1972, it has been a small-town paradise without traffic, crime, homelessness or costly property taxes.

It is hard to square the notion, then, of a city with posh developments at both entrances turned into a smoking crater of insolvency. But municipal failure looms sure as Lincoln Savings and Loan. In that notorious 1989 bankruptcy, elderly depositors suffered most, as will the highly-invested citizens of Depoe Bay whose median age, 55, far exceeds the Oregon average of 39.

Glaring mismanagement of city hall over the last two administrations, those of former Mayor Barbara Leff and current Mayor Robert Gambino, culminated in the embarrassing collapse of finances. Unpaid vendors and others that were paid twice, unauthorized raises, payroll mistakes, lost paperwork, misfiled monies and unreconciled financial reports were part of the disarray that led the city to miss required state audits for the last two years.

The fiscal irregularities occurred after the council — with businessman Jerome Grant the sole dissenter — hired one of its own, city councilor Jeff Wiseman, as city recorder in Sept., 2017, when Leff was Mayor. Wiseman, who claimed to be an accounting specialist, was fired in Nov., 2018, for failing to keep the books up.

Gambino became mayor in an uncontested election two months later amid a flurry of state and federal fines, the suspension of revenue-sharing funds (from marijuana, alcohol and gas taxes) and the city’s loss of its four-star Moody’s rating, thus making it difficult to borrow money for needed repairs to the aging sewer system. While the new mayor pledged to fix the chaos that occurred on his watch, the city’s books remain unbalanced to this day.

It is possible that Gambino, a city councilor since 2012, lacks a clear understanding of how his tax-free city operates more as a business enterprise than levy-supported public entities. The town’s major sources of income — marine gasoline sales, slip rentals and a nightly room tax — beg the management expertise of an entrepreneur rather than a dabbler.

As if to underscore his detachment, Gambino abruptly ended recent budget committee deliberations after some members began to whittle-away at spending on sacred cows. Their calls to create new revenue streams and raise heavily-discounted fees and rates on favored businesses were effectively silenced. Then, on May 19, Gambino led a split vote to further slash the number of allowable vacation rentals, whose room taxes produce 40 percent of the city’s operating capital.

New City Recorder Barbara Chestler — a lucky catch who prepared a “bare bones” spending plan that may get the city through 2020 — last week reported that for the first time Depoe Bay spent more than it took in. The city council that once bought tsunami sirens is now awash in an ocean of red ink.

Resilient citizens of “The World’s Smallest Harbor” have survived many environmental catastrophes including wildfires, tornado-strength windstorms and shockwaves from a 2011 Japanese tsunami that ripped boats from their moorages and destroyed a pier. They rebounded from a 2017 Solar Eclipse that drained thousands from skimpy city coffers on crowd-control measures and sun goggles for hoards that never arrived, and most recently emerged intact from the Wuhan Bat Virus.

But no natural disaster could wreak the man-made calamity Depoe Bay now faces. Running on the fumes of a rapidly diminishing reserve fund, the city has about eight to 10 months before going broke, according to budget documents.

It should be just enough time for Robert Gambino, whose term expires in January, to become the last mayor of Depoe Bay.

(Editor’s note: Rick Beasley, a writer and columnist for Lincoln City Homepage, is a member of the Depoe Bay Budget Committee)

- Advertisement -
Rick Beasley
Rick Beasley
Rick Beasley is a simple writer who collects sniper rifles for a hobby.

Most popular

Fire strikes historic Otis Cafe on Independence Day

North Lincoln Fire Rescue units swarmed the Otis Cafe shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday to combat a fully involved fire at the iconic restaurant.

Highway 101 hole prompts ODOT to call in geologists

Oregon Department of Transportation officials have called in geologists Thursday to take core samples of a hole on southbound Highway 101 in Otis.

Local men face drug, weapons charges following ATF search and arrest raid

Two Lincoln City men and a Cloverdale resident were charged Wednesday after Special Agents from the ATF Seattle Field Division executed multiple federal search and arrest warrants in Lincoln City.

Lincoln City ‘lockdown protesters’ on Highway 101

A group of people lined Highway 101 in Lincoln City Wednesday to display signs with different messages in protest of Governor Kate Brown's Executive Order and other actions which shut down Oregon amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Carjacking in Otis: Three arrested, one ‘armed and dangerous’ still at large

A Lincoln County Sheriff's Office investigation has led to the arrest of three individuals surrounding a carjacking in Otis Monday night and a fourth suspect remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

Lincoln City closes lodging with unanimous vote

Lincoln City will join other cities in Lincoln County who have been working to draft a joint declaration ordering lodging to close.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve heard you warn of this before, Rick. I can’t think of anyone more qualified to write such an article. Don’t give up yet — we still miss that little news paper of yours and your inovolvement with our town.
    Linda Phillips

  2. I rarely agree with the gun-loving Rick Beasley, from what I have read previously, but this column is spot on. I have been saying to folks here, what the hell is going on with Depoe Bay city government, ever since I got here in 2017. Hey Rick, how about a follow-up article on the possibility of dissolving the city of Depoe Bay and having Lincoln County take over? Is it feasible? Does it make sense for Lincoln County to do so, and can they legally do so? Or just by unincorporating, would the Depoe Bay area fall under county domain?

  3. How about an article from a financial expert on What Depoe Bay could or should do to help them out of the financial down spout. How do they regain their use of revenue sharing fund? How do they develop new revenue sources. Give them a positive spin in the article on how to climb from the doom.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisements -

Trending

Lincoln City Police officers arrest identity theft suspects

Lincoln City Police Officer Hayden Tolzman responded to a report of possible identity theft by a male and female at the Shearwater Inn, Sunday, July 5, that led to a foot chase, taser deployment and a stolen gun.

Twin moms deliver babies 23 hours apart

Twins often have a special connection that binds them closer than most siblings, and for twin sisters Tammy and Tracy King, this connection became even tighter when they had their babies within 23 hours of each other at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital’s Family Birthing Center.

UPDATED: Seven Clark County men arrested for harassment in Lincoln City

Seven Clark County, Wash. men were arrested on Independence Day by Lincoln City Police for harassing a black family, launching illegal fireworks and causing a disturbance on the beach in front of Inn at Spanish Head. 

Oregon FBI goes virtual with ‘Teen Series’

Portland's FBI field office has launched an online learning experience for students designed to let them explore the world of law enforcement.

Biplane soars through space and time

In the skies over Depoe Bay and Lincoln City, a modern-day barnstormer in an open-cockpit biplane is giving passengers a journey through space and time seldom found at the soulless tarmacs of modern airports.

Most restaurants and bars in Oregon following COVID-19 requirements

Oregon Liquor Control Commission inspectors swept across Oregon over the Fourth of July weekend and checked 800 businesses for compliance with social distancing requirements issued by Governor Kate Brown.