As the State Turns

By Sidney Reilly

stateturnssymbolHarder Days Ahead

Former CEO of Sunwest Management John Harder has been granted a delay in his court proceedings for the defrauding of investors in his chain of assisted living facilities. Based out of Salem, Harder stands accused of running a scam that saw over $130 million from investors raised under false pretenses amid the collapse of his 300-plus location chain of homes for the elderly. At its peak, over 15,000 people with an average age of 85 populated the Sunwest chain, but it all fell apart a few years ago when its overwhelming losses and instability came to light. Scheduled to go to court in October, Harder has now been granted a delay until May 2015 to try and assemble a defense in the complex case.
The former executive has maintained his innocence in the fall of the once-mighty senior services behemoth, but inconveniently timed photos of him rummaging through the purse of a diminutive grandmother asleep in front of The Price is Right surely don’t bode well for his case.

Cab Gallows-Way

Alright, that headline is a bit of a stretch, but the death throes of the traditional taxi industry have become exhausting. Much like every other industry in the universe, the Internet and smartphones have come for the cabs. And as the cabs stayed silent when they came for the video rental chains, so Blockbuster is remaining silent as Uber comes to destroy the yellow cab. In Eugene, a sure to be short-lived attempt to stop the upstart rideshare/personal car service’s meteoric rise is now seeing the City declaring Uber to be operating illegally and demanding that they “get licensed,” which of course should be more properly read as, “to pay the City some money for doing nothing.” While the City has a laundry list of reasonable sounding excuses to demand a payday from Uber, including safety and insurance, it should be remembered at the end of the day that what they’re saying is you cannot, and should not be allowed to, choose to just get into a car and make a financial transaction between two consenting adults. It should be noted here that Uber engages in picking up and dropping off passengers and not prostitution or drug sales, though I do endorse both those industries, and encourage the same lack of government intrusion into them as well.

Bidening Time

Vice President Joe Biden was in Portland this past Wednesday to support the re-election bid of Senator Jeff Merkley. Giving a speech at the Oregon Convention Center, one of the following two things happened:

Distinguished veteran politician Biden gave an uneventful speech full of platitudes and not much substance, in which one thing was clear: Jeff Merkley is doing fine, and we could use another term of his fine doings.

Serial mouth-pooper Biden gave an otherwise uneventful speech full of platitudes and not much substance in which one thing was clear—wait a second, did he just use an incredibly dated and offensive term for a minority group and then slap Merkley’s wife on the butt?

Sorry, I wrote this before the actual appearance, but there’s literally no way anything but one of these two things occurred. A bonus third possibility combines one of those first two options with: “A strong odor of whiskey was reported by a Merkley campaign aide who tried to shake Biden’s hand and was instead French kissed by the vice president.”

Playing Favorites

As any parent can tell you, playing favorites is an occupational hazard. And as my mother found out when she incorrectly chose my older sister to receive a new bike and me a piano lesson, these decisions can come back to haunt you later in life. The U.S. Forest Service faces a similar situation now, as a report in the Register-Guard informs, with over 6,500 miles of road curving through the Willamette National Forest and not nearly enough money to maintain it all.

Over the course of the next year, the Forest Service will be taking public input on which roads to prioritize, with some staying in service with the full complement of maintenance services, some getting limited attention, and some possibly being decommissioned altogether. If you have a favorite, it’s time to make your voice heard. By the end of 2015 there will be a plan in place, and if people don’t sound off, some beloved roads could be retired. If only we could have a similar conundrum with Radioshack locations. Am I crazy, or are there just more than we need?

From Cradle to Cave

A professor at University of Oregon and his students have discovered evidence that people used to live in and around the caves of southern Oregon. A complex of caves in Lake County has now been added to the National Park Service’s Register of Historic Places, following the discovery of remains that place human activity in the area as far back as 14,300 years ago. The Paisley Five Mile Point Caves have been under excavation at various points since the 1930s, but the recent discoveries have been the most excitement generating events in the cave system’s millions of years of existence, not counting a notable fistfight between two Neanderthals over a nest of nutritious bat carcasses one of them found and the other wanted to eat.