The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, February 04, 2015, Page 2, Image 2

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
A way forward for the City
Despite recent turmoil, the City of Sisters
has opportunities to improve its operations
and reset sometimes troubled relationships
among councilors themselves and with the
community at large.
It is unfortunate that Sisters is losing the
services of Pauline Hardie, a capable plan-
ner who was thrust into a challenging man-
agement position and served the community
diligently for seven years. In replacing the
community development director, the City
should seek out another capable planner
who also has the management and team-
building experience to rebuild the depart-
ment from scratch.
The planning commission and council
owes that new team clear and explicit policy
Going forward, councilors must be
willing to ask tough questions, challenge
assumptions and push each other and staff
rigorously. When seeking legal counsel,
councilors should be looking for best-prac-
tices and a range of options, and not settle
merely for what can be legally justified.
They must also work with each other
in good faith and practice good boards-
manship. Vigorous debate and occasional
split votes are good things, not things to
be avoided. But once a decision is made,
a councilor should respect the will of the
council. The current leadership has made
a commitment to ensure that no councilor
feels excluded or pushed aside, and there
should be no reason for frustration to lead
to violations of trust among councilors.
The City’s harshest critics bear a share of
responsibility for the atmosphere of mistrust
and anger in the local political culture.
Citizen watchdogs can be invaluable.
Calling out error, bad practice and poor pro-
cess is a worthy endeavor. And the City of
Sisters sometimes deserves to be called out.
However, assailing the character of those
with whom critics are at odds, sometimes
directly, often through insinuation and innu-
endo is not a worthy endeavor. It is corro-
sive and destructive.
Taking that route is a choice. It has
consequences. It has caused many people
to question their own willingness to enter
the arena and subject themselves to relent-
less upbraiding that questions not just their
actions but their character — especially
since they are constrained by the impera-
tives of public service from responding as
forthrightly as they might wish.
The City can improve the way it does
business; its critics can change the way they
do business, too. Both things need to hap-
pen for the benefit of the community.
Mayor Chris Frye said last week that “the
goal of staff and this council is to improve
transparency, better public outreach, engage
the community, and work at ensuring good
process is being followed.” He continued,
“As we improve in these areas, I expect
the climate to change. To receive trust we
first must earn trust, and we understand that
takes time.”
Every citizen of the Sisters community
should be pulling for the council to succeed
in achieving those goals. Those who want
to see positive outcomes can do a service
of their own: Question actions, not integ-
rity; encourage positive actions; challenge
those you disagree with while respecting the
possibility that there may be more than one
valid and honorable point of view.
Come to the table with a problem, sure.
Try to bring along a solution, too. The vol-
unteers who serve you could use the help.
Jim Cornelius
See page 6 for Letters to the Editor
Sisters Weather Forecast
Courtesy of the National Weather Service, Pendleton, Oregon
Chance rain
Rain likely
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American Voices
Federal prosecutors have
filed espionage charges
against three Russians alleg-
edly working for Russia’s
foreign intelligence service,
SVR. The only one without
diplomatic immunity was
arrested in the Bronx, N.Y.,
on Monday, while the other
two have left the U.S. The
federal complaint reveals
some amusing realities of
modern espionage.
Spying isn’t terribly
exciting. One of the defen-
dants, Evgeny Buryakov,
is alleged to have worked
under non-official cover
(NOC) for a Russian bank
in Manhattan, liaising
regularly with two NYC-
based Russian diplomats,
Igor Sporyshev and Victor
Podobnyy, posing as a trade
representative and a United
Nations attache.
B u r y a k o v ’s f o c u s
seems to have been eco-
nomic dumpster diving, not
nuclear or military secrets.
A conversation noted in
the complaint between the
latter two suspects reveals
disappointment that the
work isn’t exactly the sort
of thing you see in “movies
about James Bond.” One of
the defendants lamented not
even getting a cover iden-
tity: “Of course, I wouldn’t
fly helicopters, but pretend
to be someone else at a
Catching spies isn’t too
thrilling, either. The 26-page
federal complaint reveals
a long, slow, painstakingly
detailed operation and sub-
sequent analytical “proof.”
It isn’t exactly “Mission
Impossible.” Real counter-
intelligence that gathers all
the puzzle pieces necessary
to file a complaint against a
hostile intelligence asset is
more like the work detailed
in John le Carre’s “Tinker,
Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
Some spies don’t have
a very firm grasp of the
job description. One of the
defendants is quoted in the
complaint as saying that the
10 Russian spies deported
in 2010 “weren’t doing
(anything) here,” and that
they didn’t “get any mate-
rials,” as if their only task
was the collection of intel-
ligence. His view of their
assignment apparently came
straight from Hollywood,
with Russian agents sneak-
ing around stealing nuclear
codes. Former KGB officers
have disclosed that subver-
sion and influence constitute
the majority of intelligence
Some spies aren’t too
good with the ladies. The
complaint highlights a
defendant’s experience
trying to recruit potential
female sources: “I have
lots of ideas about such
girls, but these ideas are
not actionable because they
don’t allow (you) to get
close enough. And in order
to be close you either need
to (have sex with) them or
use other levers to influ-
ence them to execute my
requests.” Mission impos-
sible, apparently.
Russian spies have an
impressive grasp of Wall
Street culture. To quote
one of the accused Russian
spies on his recruitment of a
potential intelligence source
in New York: “For now his
enthusiasm works for me. ...
I will feed him empty prom-
ises. ... You get the docu-
ments from him and tell him
to go (expletive) himself.
But not to upset you, I will
take you to a restaurant
and give you an expensive
gift. You just need to sign
for it. This is ideal working
Russian spies aren’t very
adept at risk management.
Buryakov, the NOC banker,
was invited to meet with the
representative of a wealthy
investor looking to develop
casinos in Russia. The rep-
resentative was, in fact, a
confidential FBI informant.
Buryakov referred to the
invitation as “some sort of ...
nonsense.” One of his han-
dlers allegedly said it might
be “some sort of a setup”
— but allowed the meet-
ing to take place anyway.
What is that? Some kind of
espionage Russian roulette?
For all that risk, Buryakov
allegedly left that meeting
with two government docu-
ments: an unclassified list
of Russian banks that could
potentially be sanctioned,
and a list of Russians who
had been sanctioned by the
U.S. Treasury — informa-
tion available to anyone who
can use an online search
function. Hope that open-
source treasure trove was
worth it, comrades.
© 2015 Tribune Content
Agency, LLC.
Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and
are not necessarily shared by the Editor or The Nugget Newspaper.