Arthur Babitz takes his seat on council


News staff writer

January 3, 2007

Arthur Babitz will take his seat at the Hood River City Council table on Monday — a role that he has studied for months.

Since winning the November election, Babitz has spent his spare time reading the city charter and relevant statutes. He has also taken time to meet with other members of the council and city department heads.

That information has helped Babitz develop a list of priorities for the council’s Jan. 27 goal-setting session. His top priorities will be to help pull the city out of it current budget hole — and upgrade the aging sewer and water systems.

“This (goal setting) is where the rubber meets the road,” said Babitz, “and those broad themes we all talked about during the campaign — things like livability, affordable housing — get fleshed out so city staff can convert them into meaningful programs.”

As an electrical engineer, he is “the sort of guy who likes to understand how everything works.” So, Babitz set out to learn what citizens wanted from their local government. He plans to remain on the learning curve as Hood River works to accommodate growth without losing its small-town character.

“Most of the time I spent campaigning was just talking to people about issues that are important to them. Knock on someone’s door the day the water bill arrives, and you’ll get in a good discussion about water and sewer rates,” he said. “I hope to continue talking with anyone who’s willing about any and every issue.”

Babitz’ door-to-door candidacy paid off when he beat out Martin Campos-Davis for the at-large position. Councilors Paul Blackburn and Carrie Nelson have also returned to another four years of public service. All three winners of the 2006 contest join Mayor Linda Streich, who ran unopposed, and Councilors Ann Frodel and Laurent Picard.

“When I started my campaign people warned me that I would quickly become cynical, but that sure hasn’t happened yet,” said Babitz. “The mechanics of our election process is fascinating to me, and I’d encourage anyone to try.

“Running for office took a lot of effort, but I learned so much and met so many good people that I think it would have been worth it even if I didn’t win.

“I’ve seen nothing yet to reduce my sense of optimism. I may still wind up a crusty cynic, but right now most conversations I have start with ‘Why would you want to do that?’ and end with a discussion of how they, too, can get involved.”

Babitz believes that the workings of government should be visible to the people – as well as responsive to their concerns. He encourages all citizens to become informed about city policies by visiting Hood River’s Web site at

He also invites his constituents to attend council meetings and make sure their voices are heard at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.

Babitz oversees Animation Toolworks, Inc., from his Hazel Avenue home. With 25 years of experience in high-tech product design, he leads software and hardware development teams at several major firms.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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