Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Crime is falling, but EPD wants lots more officers
FRANKLIN CORRIDOR UPDATE
|UO architecture students created this model of Franklin Boulevard looking east showing a clock tower and the new UO basketball arena on the right.|
Ideas for improving and developing Franklin Boulevard in Eugene, Glenwood and Springfield: How about removing the Mill Street viaduct in Eugene to restore visual access to the river from downtown? How about extending Eugene’s Park Blocks to the river? Encouraging ODOT to build a truly spectacular I-5 bridge over the Willamette? Arching tree canopies over the boulevard? An expansive public waterfront? Mixed-use buildings lining a multi-way boulevard? A big bell tower or clock tower at the eastern gateway to Eugene? A dramatic photovoltaic array along Franklin? A water park for kayakers at Judkin’s Point?
The Franklin Corridor Riverfront Study is well under way, and dozens of ideas generated by the study are working their way into discussions in both civic groups and public agencies. Three local architects, Art Paz, Eric Gunderson and Mark Gillem, reported on the study’s progress at City Club of Eugene June 8, and another public event is being planned for the Eugene Celebration in September.
“Right now is a pivotal time for Eugene and Springfield,” said Gillem, “for transforming Franklin from an eyesore to an amenity.” Gillem, an assistant architecture professor at UO, predicted that as many as 5,000 dwelling units will be built in the corridor in the next few decades, and coordinated planning is necessary to assure safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, public transportation and those who use the river for recreation.
Paz admonished the UO for not being more involved in the corridor planning. “It’s time to step up as an iconic player,” he said. “They need to demonstrate and illustrate leadership that talks about the front door to the university and articulate a relationship with Franklin Boulevard.”
A “Visions and Findings” brochureis available online at www.franklincorridor.org The brochure focuses on the overall vision for the corridor, broken down by memorable gateways, public waterfronts, “green fingers” connecting neighborhoods to the river, mixed-use buildings in centers of activity and the creation of a multi-way boulevard “connecting Springfield, Glenwood and Eugene that allows for mixed modes of travel with safe and convenient access to neighborhoods and waterways.”
Google Earth now features a map and discussion of the collaboration. From the Google Earth website, click on “Featured Content” and look for “American Institute of Architects” and “Blueprint for America.” — Ted Taylor
WINDFALL GIVINGS TAX
A Eugene City Council advisory committee recommended this month that the city study how to tax windfall profits from urban growth boundary (UGB) expansions and Measure 37 claims.
The Value Added Charge Advisory Committee said that Eugene could use a proposal by the Portland Metro Council’s Fair Growth and Farmlands Project as a model.
In a report last year, Metro found that farm and forest land added to the UGB “increases dramatically in value, by 200, 400 or even 1,000 percent, because this government action allows the land to be used for intense urban uses, like subdivisions, shopping centers or office buildings.”
Metro began to study a windfall tax for UGB expansions in late 2002, and in 2005 added Measure 37 windfall profits to the study. Metro estimates that over 20 years, it could generate $100 million to $1 billion in taxes from the windfall profits.
Most of the revenue from the tax could pay for planning and infrastructure (roads, schools, sewers, etc.) for the expansion areas, the Metro report recommended. Under the current system, taxpayers subsidize most such growth costs to increase developer profits.
Remaining windfall tax funds could help pay for infrastructure needed to create compact growth inside the UGB, for the purchase of conservation easements to protect farmland and for a “fairness fund” to pay Measure 37 claims rather than waiving regulations, Metro found.
The Eugene city attorney warned the Eugene committee that there may be a legal issue with trying to collect the tax at the time of property transfer. The Metro report recommended collection of the tax when a developer sought a permit to develop the property.
Eugene city staff recommended that the Eugene Council hold off on taking up the windfall tax until after a September or November vote on a Measure 37 fix referred by the state Legislature. The fix may eliminate many, but not all, large Measure 37 claims.
Developers have also pushed a bill through the Legislature that could end up pushing Eugene to expand its UGB, generating huge profits for land speculators. — Alan Pittman
BURNED WOODS BETTER LEFT UNLOGGED
A new study shows post-fire logging and replanting of burned forest increases the severity of future fires. The study involved the 2002 Biscuit fire in southwest Oregon, one of the largest wildfires in Oregon’s history.
The study is being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Jonathan Thompson, a doctoral student at OSU, was lead author on the article. Thompson concluded that the increase in fire severity may be “because the logging process leaves more available fuel on the forest floor; the dense, homogenous replantation of young trees provides a good setting for fire; or some combination of these factors over time.”
The findings back up the research of OSU grad student Daniel Donato, who published his findings in 2006 in the journal Science. Donato and his co-authors found that logged areas contained significantly more flammable wood than areas left alone. Loggers leave behind tree branches that cannot be sold.
Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics said of the new report, “Nothing new in that Biscuit study. Any forester worth his salt knew that. They knew it in the first Biscuit study.”
The Donato study concluded that salvage logging “can be counterproductive to goals of forest regeneration and fuel reduction.”
OSU professors John Sessions and Michael Newton and several other faculty members as well as Forest Service employees caused controversy when they attempted to have Donato’s work suppressed.
Sessions and Newton had written a report arguing that aggressive logging and replanting of the Biscuit fire was needed to ensure the burned forests would grow back and not lose their commercial value.
Thompson’s study concludes that forests left to regenerate without logging appear to have less risk of severe future fires. — Camilla Mortensen
BOWMAN IN EUGENE
Retired Air Force combat pilot Dr. Bob Bowman is bringing his “Patriot Tour” to Eugene. The Democrat, who ran for Congress in 2006 in Florida’s conservative 15th District and garnered 44 percent of the vote, will be speaking at 7 pm Tuesday, June 19, at PLC 180, 14th and Kincaid on the UO campus. Entry is sliding scale, $5-$10.
Local co-sponsors include the 9/11 Network, Native Forest Council, www.oilempire.us, Trine Day Press, Tsunami Books, UO Survival Center, Veterans Against Torture and Veterans for Peace – Chapter 929.
Bowman’s message is a challenge to “Take Back America” for the people. He says we need a government that follows the Constitution, honors the truth and serves the people.
“Think what a difference that would make,” he writes in an email to activists. “No more imperial presidency. No more undeclared wars of aggression. No more spying on the American people. No more jailing of dissidents. No more corporations importing and exploiting millions of illegal immigrants to drive down wages. No more exporting of jobs. No more NAFTA. No more North American Union. No more government lies, false-flag attacks and cover-ups. No more corporate welfare. No more health plans written by insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers. No more energy policies written by Exxon and Enron. No more trillions in debt. Most importantly, no more using our sons and daughters to kill Arabs for the oil companies.”
Bowman has given about 7,000 speeches around the country, starting in the Reagan era. He is currently calling for “the simultaneous impeachment of Cheney and Bush” and says he’s “recruiting honest conservatives to our cause. They understand that this administration is anything but conservative.”
Iraq War statistics as of June 11 include 3,511 U.S. military deaths, 111 U.S. military suicides, 25,549 U.S. military wounded in action, 398 military contractor deaths, and 65,116 to 71,328 Iraqi civilian deaths due to warfare. Cost of the war is calculated at $433.7 billion. Sources are www.IraqBodyCount.org and http://icasualties.org and http://CostOfWar.com
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Twin Oaks School: Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 700 acres with Garlon 4 for Seneca Jones Timber (689-1231) starting June 14 (781-50625).
• Giustina Timber Co.(345-2301)will ground spray 387 acres with Garlon 4 near Turkey Run, Crow, Hawly, and Rebel Creek starting June 13 (781-50620).
• Strata Industries (726-0845) will ground spray 107 acres for Roseburg Resources (935-2507) near Deadwood above Lake and McVey Creeks starting June 25 (781-50666).
Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• In a letter to the editor May 31 (“Purge the Parasites”), the writer said he’d heard that the coordinator of Search and Rescue in Lane County had lost his job due to the no vote on the county income tax. In point of fact, John Miller is still in the budget as the only paid member of SAR, and he oversees about 150 volunteers.
• In our June 7 news briefs, EW Performing Arts Editor Suzi Steffen was cited for four Society of Professional Journalists awards, but one Northwest award for education reporting listed on the SPJ website as a third place was actually a first place. And we have since learned that EW and Seattle Weekly tied for the most first-place awards in the SPJ Northwest competition, followed by Willamette Week.
The Eugene police union seems nervous following City Manager Dennis Taylor’s resignation, turning to the always sympathetic R-G to defend the status quo and avoid accountability. Union VP Erik Humphrey, writing as a “private citizen,” blasted progressives on the council in a Sunday op-ed for “suffocating our city manager form of government” by trying to rein in our all-powerful city manager position. Sounds like the military in a banana republic opposing democracy.
For the record, Eugene has a council/manager form of government, and some councilors and citizens are seeking not to abolish or “suffocate” it, just make it more democratic and accountable with a few checks and balances. Judging by the Magaña/Lara cop sex scandal, there’s a lot of room for improvement. After the manager failed to do it, citizens voted to create an independent police auditor to watch over the cops. The city should also create an independent performance auditor to watch over taxpayer money. A performance auditor is a common sense feature of many council/manager governments.
The cop union is also filing a labor grievance over the city auditor doing her job and processing complaints about the police. This petty complaint is idiotic from a PR point of view. We know there are cops on the street who really care about their public image and understand the importance of public support and cooperation. We advise these officers to instruct their union officials to back off and shut up. The EPD has a long way to go to restore the confidence of the people of Eugene. Fighting oversight and accountability is a big, ugly step in the wrong direction.
The grievance also points to another failing of the current council/manager system in need of reform. The manager, who opposes the independent police auditor, will now negotiate with the union, which opposes the auditor, on whether the supposedly independent auditor will get to do her job. Sounds crazy. Elected officials need to step in and make sure the will of the voters isn’t bargained away in a cozy contract deal behind closed doors.
Doug Harcleroad is on his way out after way too many terms as Lane County’s DA. He announced this week that he won’t be seeking re-election in 2008 for a seventh four-year term. His chief deputy prosecutor Alex Gardner is already seeking to run for the job, state Sen. Floyd Prozanski has voiced an interest and lawyer Dan Koenig ran a strong campaign against the DA in 2000. Harcleroad claims he’s not a politician, but he has stayed in office and survived numerous scandals by currying favor with political power brokers statewide. The scandals? Taping a confession between an inmate and priest, declining to prosecute a vigilante shooter, exonerating a police officer who “accidentally” killed an unarmed suspect, standing by while the civil rights of protesters were violated, the infamous Boots and Proctor wrongful murder convictions, taking a six-month-long sabbatical after his last election, etc.
Harcleroad has had a long history of selective prosecution and intimidation (including trying to shut down the Oregon Country Fair), but unseating an entrenched DA is difficult, as attorney Clayton Lance discovered in 1996. After announcing his candidacy, Lance found himself under state investigation for his billing practices. He was cleared, but the audit was so time consuming that he dropped out of the race. We hope at least two candidates come forward in this open race so we can have a lively debate about the issues surrounding this powerful position.
The Pit to Pit Walk that we wrote about last week in our News Briefs is starting at 5:30 pm Friday, June 15, outside the downtown Eugene Public Library. The free tour will look at the blocks targeted for redevelopment on and near West Broadway, including the two big excavated pits. We expect to hear some provocative questions. How do we incorporate public spaces in the new development downtown? Some little “pocket parks,” please. Do we really need more parking garages at $80,000 a space? Will Eugene’s downtown nightlife benefit or suffer from redevelopment? How can we protect and support the existing local businesses that are already established downtown? Where will the “street people” go when Broadway is rebuilt and hundreds (perhaps thousands) more people are living downtown? What public benefit will come from public investment in developer subsides and tax breaks? What could the block across from the library look like? What downtown design standards are already in city regs, and will they be enforced? How about energy-efficient construction and other issues of sustainability? Not every question can be answered, including big ones about city policy, but an impressive crew of architects, designers, planners and business people are expected to show up for this tour organized by Citizens for Public Accountability. We might even see some of the 11 members of the mayor’s new downtown advisers group: Dan Bryant, Stacy Bierma, Harriet Cherry, Mike Coughlin, Rob Handy, Ann Delaney, Greg McLauchlan, Fatima Mora-Flores, Jean Tate, Kaz Oveissi and Eric Stillwell.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sacramento native Rachel Parra grew up in a bilingual household with six biological and two adopted siblings. “My mom is Caucasian and my dad is Spanish,” she says. “I have an African-American brother.” An all-state softball player, Parra married her high-school sweetheart and has three children, two of whom play on the Little League baseball team she coaches. When she started work as a bilingual assistant at HACSA (Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County) in 2001, Parra saw employment discrimination at the agency. She took classes at the UO Labor Education and Research Center and joined the NAACP in 2005 to activate its dormant legal redress committee. “I lost my job when I began to advocate,” she says. “They said I was involved with militant groups.” Her job was restored after she filed a grievance, but Parra says she continues to work in a hostile environment. “My mission is bigger, to give a voice to others,” she says. “My mouth is big enough.” Parra organized the MLK march this year and is currently planning a three-on-three basketball tourney for late July to benefit the NAACP.