The Daily 750

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An Officer and a Gentleman, and a Dear Friend

Friday, May 19, 2006

My dear friend Joe Miller died last night. Joe lived a glorious life, and if there is glory after life he is shining in it now.

Joe was a paratrooper on D-Day. A Kentucky Colonel. The head of a large division of the American Medical Association in Chicago. A stern father. A kindly and generous grandfather. An interesting husband for two terrific women. Joe's first wife died right about the same time as his best friend, a doctor in Astoria. Joe and his best friend's wife found comfort with each other, and for the last 15 years or so Joe and Edith Henningsgaard Miller have been nearly inseparable.

I met Joe in 1997, when we were both appointed by Mayor Van Dusen as "ex-officio" members of the newly formed Astoria Arts Commission. It was a mess. Months of talking but no action. No plan for action. No money for action. During one session my rolling eyeballs met Joe's rolling eyeballs, and it was friends at first sight. We began with a shared impatience for process and a desire to just get on with It, whatever It is.

Joe found a languishing 501(c)3, Astoria Visual Arts, and we took it over. Joe raised nine-tenths of the money to repaint the mural at Fort Astoria, and to rebuild the fence and upgrade the landscaping. Joe stayed on as chair and raised the bulk of the money during the first two years of the AVA Gallery.

Over the few years I knew Joe, we had lunch about once a month and talked on the phone in between. We passed some emails during the winter months he and Edith spent in Florida. There wasn't a subject Joe didn't have some interest in. He was a most trusted confidant in a very small town.

I've missed Joe very much the last few weeks. I wanted to talk with him about the campaign but I knew he was too ill to be bothered. His was one of the voices, one of the lives I carried for courage and determination and good behavior.

My granddaddy, Albert Wohlstetter, Lucian Marquis, Joe Miller: the older men who brought me wisdom, taught me treasures, always thought of me as a young woman no matter how old I became.

Joe Miller is one of the few people who will be with me forever. It was an honor to know him and to be thought of as his friend. So long, Joe. You are missed.

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The final working voyage of the Zhen Hua 1

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Eight o'clock a.m. Thursday, April 27th. 49 degrees. Winds, calm. Tide, -0.9 at the Port of Astoria docks. The Zhen Hua 1 carried a post-Panamax crane under the Astoria Bridge on its way to the Port of Portland.

It's likely to be the final working voyage of the Zhen Hua 1, a rust bucket always held up in its recent sailsby the Coast Guard .

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Welcome Back!

I made a commitment to many people to follow the County Budget process. There are two long meetings, today and tomorrow. I'll be there and I'll report on them. The DA is requesting four new positions in order to service the third judge that begins in January 2007. The County Manager has already announced, in an "emergency" Department Head meeting yesterday, that he'll find the money for the new positions by cutting the Volunteer Coordinator, the Public Information Officer, drug treatment beds, WIC support, Maternal and Child Health Support, Parks, etc. etc.

I've got another idea.

Loosen the noose of the Long-Term Financial Plan from around our necks, or at least be honest about the numbers. The LTFP says that the amount of timber monies it will put into the general fund will be lowest of the last 15 years of timber revenues. Turns out the lowest of the last 15 years was exactly 15 years ago LAST YEAR, and it was an abnormally low year, being around $650,000. The year before that, timber revenues were over $1,000,000, and the year after that was over $900,000.

The lowest of the last 15 years of timber monies is now over $900,000 -- more than enough to cover the direct services requested by the District Attorney.

Will Clatsop County never move forward in time?