BEND, OR –– Bend Parks and Recreation (BPRD) Board of Directors questioned staff involvement with recent Bend Bulletin editorials.

In response to an editorial written by BPRD Board Member Ted Schoenborn, fellow Board Member Lauren Sprang opposed the material. In an internal email, Ms. Sprang suggested it was unrepresentative of BPRD, commenting, “it uses a similar tone of communication that was used previously, which I’m not sure worked for BPRD as well as it could have.”

Moreover Sprang suggested the media should not be used to accomplish personal objectives stating, ““... I would have loved to see a tone of transparency with a goal of building trust, such as a statement about how the board feels...instead, this sounds like a piece of advocacy to me.”

Nevertheless despite the direction to limit media involvement, BPRD Director Don Horton has continued to exert influence. As recently as January 2018, Horton continued correspondence with reporters at the Bend Bulletin including editor Erik Lukens. In an internal email, Horton suggested writing material that would undermine opposition to BPRD pedestrian bridge including articles such as, “Class war in the American west: the rich landowners blocking access to public lands.”

In the weeks following Lukens complied with Horton and would continue to write an article “Environmentalists vs Urban Trails” condemning local landowners, “It’s easy to understand why the wealthy owners of riverside homes near the bridge site would support HB 4029. They’ve bought their pieces of paradise, and they’d like to mmaintain its exclusivity.”

With Don Horton continues to use editorials to support personal objectives, it suggests serious conflict of interests within BPRD. The Board of Directors should expect higher standards from its employees.