WOW HALL PROBLEMS
Eugene has a rich and lively arts community. Theaters, galleries, clubs, venues and artists of all stripes, and all of them contribute to our colorful environment. Part of this scene is the Community Center for the Performing Arts in the historic WOW Hall. The CCPA is a tax-exempt nonprofit run by a volunteer board of directors elected by WOW Hall members and the building is long since paid off. It belongs to you! It has a secure base and lots of potential.
There are problems, however. The CCPA represents itself as an equal opportunity employer, but it’s not. Folks who work there just hire their friends, partners and relatives. They write each others’ performance reviews. There is no oversight of CCPA policy because there is no general manager. (The last one was harassed out and not replaced.) No one ever gets written up or asked to improve. There is no capital improvements plan, no diversity plan, no overall staffing plan, no movement to improve. It’s questionable whether the CCPA could survive a routine IRS audit of 501(c)3 compliance.
What keeps the board from taking responsibility for fixing it is that the board is elected at the annual general meeting, an event largely controlled by the staff who nominate their friends and relatives and former employees (some of whom were dismissed from their jobs for behavior issues or violation of CCPA policies). If anyone who supports change slips past the goalie, it can get very unpleasant. My year as a board member was not a happy one. Intimidation, yelling, insults, going behind others’ backs may not be the characteristics of successful collective enterprises, but they are notoriously present here.
The current board has seen several resignations. There is currently no treasurer. Most are inexperienced in serving on boards of nonprofits, or in community-owned organizations or in arts administration. They give the staff what it asks for (hours, raises, new hires, etc.) because they are in the staff’s pocket. There are people of good will involved, but the board as a whole is a rubber stamp for the staff.
What can be done? The next general meeting is 6:30 pm May 15. If the election is decided by 40 or 50 people, as it has been in the past, we’ll get more of the same. If the community has an interest and shows up in numbers great enough to manifest some diversity, things could improve.
Membership is $15 a year or you can work it off by volunteering. You can become a member at any time before the meeting. Anyone interested in running for the board must be a member for 30 days before the meeting (by April 15).
Chico Schwall, Eugene
If Capstone wants to spend its money to build these student apartments downtown, let them. With all the services and infrastructure falling apart in this town, it is not in Eugene’s best interest to give them a $16 million tax break over 10 years.
Many on City Council seem to be all for it, mainly because it would increase population density downtown, a long-held community goal, and invigorate the area. That plan will work if you only want young people, fast food joints and more bars. Seems to me that we’d like to get everybody downtown, yes?
The way to re-invigorate downtown might be to have something going on down there all the time. Plant some trees on the streets and in Kesey Square, install lots of benches under those trees, allow musicians, small street businesses and food carts to open in wider sidewalk areas or empty lots. Change the restrictive law(s) against people sitting on, or even touching walls and planters. Make it clear to all where the clean public restrooms are located.
Hire some of the street people to help keep downtown clean and earn a living. Give them a good reason to be there, too! Then, just maybe, it might be more fun to come downtown and spend some time checking out what’s happening. And hey, it’s OK if someone wants to take a nap on one of those benches on a nice day!
Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene
WALDO AS MICROCOSM
This issue surrounding Waldo Lake (cover story, 4/29) is much more than a small debate around motorboats, but it’s rather a microcosm of a larger issue we all need to face, sooner the better. The human species is in deepening stress from the beginning effects of climate change, from economic disparity, famine and drought, to first world consumption gone amuck, expressed with increasing desperate violence.
We all know there is a divide in the Northwest between the culture of business and consumption vs. sustainability and global health. Most of my life, I’ve existed somewhere in the middle — like most Americans — but I’ve come to realize that those of us straddling the fence, with head in the sand, need to get off on one side or another. To quote that cliché, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s never been more true. The stakes are too great. The timber and business interests here are deeply ensconced, but here is a local issue we can decisively settle, on the side of sanity and hope.
Dennis Hartley, Eugene
ON THE WATERFRONT
Your comment in Slant last week that EWEB headquarters “remain a public building”: Yes, but no office building should be allowed on the waterfront — public, private or nonprofit. Because the building is already there perhaps meeting rooms for all of the above — charging rent — with the money going into the same pot as property taxes.
Frank Skipton, Springfield
Last weekend I went for a walk through the wetlands just off West 11th Avenue. To my dismay, I passed nearly a dozen encampments set up by homeless people right in the middle of these protected natural areas. I understand why they are there — that’s probably where I’d set up too, if I had no roof over my head — but their presence creates several significant problems. There is a drastic impact on the environment (unfortunately many had strewn trash all over the place), as well as a safety concern for the other people who walk those paths (I realize that not all homeless people are a threat, of course, but there’s enough drug and alcohol use in the population to make it a legitimate concern). I’ve been seeing more of this in recent years, from the river to the parks to hiking trails, and the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
My wish is not for the cops to just go in and roust all the people living in the woods — although I do think the natural areas need to be protected — but instead to see an appropriate area set aside by the city for free tent and car camping, which would benefit the environment, hikers and the homeless all at once. I realize there are legal, political and economic issues complicating such an idea, but clearly something needs to be done. Just hoping the problem will go away (or move to a different city) is not a viable option for anyone.
Kate Winter, Eugene
I hate leaf-blowers! Let’s ban them in Eugene. Who’s with me?
Ron Ramsey, Eugene
TIP YOUR TREE SERVICE
To the many Eugeneans with fallen or damaged trees: The men who you call to remove these dangerous trees work extremely hard and put their lives at risk to help you get your power back, fix your roof or use your driveway.
You might think since the charge for this service is not cheap that these men get paid well. The reality is a lot of that cost goes to insurance, fuel, and tool maintenance, and less of it goes into the actual pockets of the men climbing your trees and removing the brush.
So, please, if you appreciate the service provided, appreciate a job well done, appreciate that it is now safe for you to live in your home and for your kids to play in the yard, then show your tree service this appreciation. When the tree service comes to your home to help you in a time of need, tip them as you would a waiter whom you wished to reward for a “job well done.”
Johnathan Helling aka Stamper, Eugene
Walking around the Willamette River pedestrian path in Eugene is a favorite activity for many locals. For the purpose of exercise or a gentle stroll adjacent to the river, it is always a treat to experience the movement, fresh air, people, dogs, rose garden, trees, community gardens, calming hum of the river, etc.
However, I rarely feel safe in this environment simply because a vast majority of the bicyclists fail to indicate their presence as they pass from behind. Many fly past as if they have visions of crossing the Tour de France finish line. If a pedestrian happens to shift his movement for any reason, they are in danger of being rammed by an unannounced speeding bicyclist. Some have passed by so close, that I have felt that distinct burst of wind displaced by the rapidly traveling rider — I am instantly pissed off, as I am not interested in the real potential for a completely avoidable injury.
Those who travel with their bikes on the street can surely understand the dangers they face each time they compete with the multitude of cars. Where bicycles and pedestrians share a common, side-by-side path, you are “the cars”!
Slow down, announce your presence and keep your distance, please!
Jay Greenspan, Corvallis
During the candidates’ debate at the City Club of Eugene on March 23 I listened to my County Commissioner Pete Sorenson as he hypocritically supported open government and transparency.
This is the politician who was a leader in the cabal known as “the book club.” One of the group’s aims was to clandestinely slide into the county supplemental budget an appropriation of public funds so that commissioners could hire political cronies as assistants. The votes to pass this budget without public discussion were secretly lined up by those who ultimately hired assistants. That sounds nothing like open and transparent government.
The commissioners were warned by the county attorney that the book club was dangerously close to violating the Oregon open meeting statute. With the hubris of seniority, these county officials strode forward to the precipice and found themselves the object of a lawsuit. To date the entire process has cost the taxpayers of Lane County about half a million dollars.
Whether one agrees with the reasoning of the judge or not, the facts have not been seriously questioned. There were just too many witnesses in the back room. The facts themselves indicate that Sorenson has only recently become so concerned with open government and transparency.
Like those who continued to support Nixon after the facts were revealed, there are many who ignore these facts and continue to support Sorenson. They do so because of what he has done for his constituents in the past. I cannot help but wonder what he has done to his constituents in the back room.
Michael Miller, Eugene
It seems like everyone these days distrusts all politicians, especially those politicians who have a different view of how things should be done. There seems to be little that we all can agree on. To gain my support, a politician’s commitment to his or her electorate and their ideals is foremost.
Luckily in the case of Commissioner Pete Sorenson, we have a candidate who does both. We live in Pete’s district, and we’ve seen him go door to door to support every 4J school measure to help our children and grandchildren have a more complete school experience. He’s supported local labor at every opportunity and voted against attempts to outsource jobs from people in this area. He’s fought to keep our district livable and insisted on environmental protections. If we’ve had a question about a local decision or issue, Pete’s been more than willing to speak with us. He works really hard to represent our district.
That’s why he needs to be reelected to continue serving our district with the same dedication and compassion that he’s always demonstrated.
Hal Huestis, Eugene
This June the partisan Supreme Court will sing 5-4, “ObamaCare” is dead. Let’s all put on our three-cornered hats and celebrate.
Celebrate big insurance unleashed to charge even more for even less coverage. Celebrate more people denied coverage for preexisting conditions. Celebrate more people dying from not being to afford tests to diagnose early fatal disease symptoms. Celebrate even more people flocking to emergency rooms.
All this celebrating is giving me a huge headache, unfortunately I can’t afford to go to the doctor. My $350 a month “health” HSA insurance policy has an unreachable $3,800 deductible.
Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain
WHO’S THE THREAT?
We are in serious danger of entering another war in the MIddle East by tolerating Israel’s insistence on a pre-emptive attack on Iran. Such a war is seen as justified only when the target is on the verge of attacking you. In this case it is the other way around, with Israel already announcing its plan to bomb Iran. Such threats of war without cause give Iran a major reason for making its own pre-emptive attack.
Retaliation has nothing to do with Israel’s plans, as Iran has not threatened war. Paranoia and a hunger for Middle East dominance are something else, as Israel — already a major atomic power — insists Iran not be allowed to have an atomic bomb it could use as a deterrent.
There is justified temptation for Iran to make a pre-emptive conventional attack on Israel many months before it develops an atomic bomb. Why not, since Israel has declared it will bomb sites where it believes Iran is developing the bomb — even though that is the privilege of any sovereign state.
We must discourage such a conflict, If it comes, the U.S. must not let itself be dragged into it by Israel.
George Beres, Eugene