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"Guest Viewpoint"

On a rainy night in January, the National Association of Realtors published an article that should have alarmed every hopeful homeowner, empty-nester, and business entrepreneur in Eugene.

Seattle — where the median home value recently tipped past $620,000 — was named the most-constrained, least accessible housing market in the country.

But who was second?

Eugene.

My name is Caroline Lundquist; students call me Dr. L. I teach ethics and critical thinking at Lane Community College. But I may not teach them next year. Philosophy at Lane is on the chopping block. 

The Eugene 4J School District is preparing to issue a bond measure to fund building construction. Voters in either the November 2018 or May 2019 election would determine passage of the bond.

While the list of projects isn’t finalized, if the bond is approved, funds may be used to replace North Eugene High School and Edison Elementary School and to build additions on McCornack and Gilham elementary schools, among others. As a community, we are looking at investing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in replacing and upgrading school buildings. We should take this opportunity to make sure our investments last.

Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns recently announced he will retire in the next month or so. His departure affords our community a critical opportunity to ensure that the leadership of our local law enforcement maintains and instills the values we believe are essential to a just and fair city. 

It is certainly true that Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s new U.S. Secretary of Education, poses a distinct threat to the institution of public education. She is intent on advancing the privatization, corporatization, standardization, theocratization and profit-taking that have been part of the decades-long assault on public education. Who in America is going to step up to defend the pillar of our democracy, our precious system of public education?

I have exactly 1,476 trophies, and I adore every single one of them. 

I have participation awards from every sports team I’ve been on since kindergarten, eighth-place trophies for speech and debate tournaments, and my well-loved third-place medal for a watermelon-eating competition from third grade.

How do we assign value to a forest? Is it in board feet of timber? Is it in jobs? Is it in its ability to re-grow trees?

Is it in the size of the trees? Is it in tourism? Is it in waterfalls and boulder runs? Is it in elk and deer to hunt? Is it in salmon to fish? Is it in habitat for ravens, bald eagles, osprey, northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, belted kingfishers, juncos and chickadees? Is it in foraging for chanterelles, thimbleberries, fiddle heads and stinging nettle?

Take a drive out Highway 99 to Clear Lake Road and turn west. As soon as you leave the busy industrial highway you are in another world, instantly surrounded by green, open farmland. You experience a vista that stretches all the way to the Coast Range to the west. 

That’s what I see, and maybe that’s what you see, but that’s not what the city of Eugene sees. Instead of prime farmland and green open space, Eugene envisions a 924-acre industrial park. 

One way the news media demonstrate bias is by what they report and what they leave out.

Another is the negative or positive content of articles that do make it to print. A vital role of the media is to be a watchdog and a check on power, but not enough attention is given to monitoring the fairness of our local media’s narrative.

In January the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon’s Tribal Council approved a resolution to protect TV Butte in Oakridge. Lane County has nevertheless tentatively approved a zoning change to allow the butte to be mined, ignoring oral history evidence of previous native occupation of the site.

TV Butte in Oakridge is part of a Native American village site, and native burial sites are thought to be near the butte. The Chakgeenkni-Tufti Band of Molalla Indians, whose descendants are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon, lived at the TV Butte site for thousands of years.

“They call them huddles, Vicki, not meetings,” my sister Annabelle said over the phone. 

She was telling me about her weekend event with the L.A. Indivisible group that is organizing against Trump, and she was revved. This is my sister who was by my side in the ’60’s. 

What do kids typically experience the first day of school? Nerves. Will I make friends? Will my teacher like me? Where is the bathroom? These are the typical concerns that you’d imagine.

In the flurry of disturbing and provocative executive orders coming out of the new presidential administration, it is understandable that some of us may have lost sight of the greatest fear that many of us had at the prospect of a Trump presidency: that a thin-skinned ill-informed man would be in control of our devastating arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, recently released a report, “10 Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President,” with contributions from a broad range of experts on nuclear policy. In a synopsis of that report, Ploughshares lists five policy areas where we could try to steer the Trump administration to improve our nuclear policy:

It’s almost impossible to overstate how devastating the 1980s recession was for Oregon. 

The early 1980s had the largest percentage of job loss since World War II. For Oregon, this truly was the "Great Recession,” hitting the state harder than the more recent recession of 2008, and it would change Oregon forever. 

This recession would result in making economic development a permanent part of the Oregon political landscape, changing the state and fueling economic growth, for good and for bad, in ways that were almost unimaginable prior to that crisis. 

What should we make of the appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education?

The answer is, perhaps, “Not very much.”

For professional educators, the choice of DeVos is a bummer but no surprise. Secretaries of education who champion the system have been rare. And yet our school system has been a robust and productive institution, worthy of pride. It does not yet live up to our dreams, but we have accomplished a great deal, plugging away at the local level.

The Eugene-Springfield Committee on Local Affairs (CoLA) of the American Institute of Architects – Southwestern Oregon Chapter commends the Eugene City Council for its decision to work with Lane County officials and pursue locating City Hall on the site of the current “butterfly” parking lot at 8th and Oak. 

We’re confident locating our new City Hall there can contribute significantly to downtown’s continued revitalization by capitalizing upon a synergy of established public open spaces, symbols of civic engagement, and community-defining facilities. This is a propitious moment worth embracing, an occasion that warrants a proactive and considered evaluation of the prospect at hand.

Toward this goal, we strongly encourage our government leaders to approach plans for City Hall with the following in mind:

Occasionally, there is a point in the history of a place that creates a before and after moment — an event that, in the aftermath, changes a place so significantly it renders it a totally different place from what it was before, forever. Like what the oil pipeline did to Alaska.  

With the election of Donald Trump we are witnessing a coup that combines white nationalism, finance capital and militarism.

The Lane Peace Center is bringing Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, to Eugene on Feb. 16. His talk, titled “Gandhi and Non-violence: Relevance for the 21st Century,” is well timed to help us gain perspective on these surreal and turbulent times.

What if you were born to live in this time, in these times? Choosing to incarnate, burdened by terrible conditions, strengthened by an indigenous strength, native to any human who can tap into it. Strength training is built on resistance. 

Dear Community Alliance for  Public Education:

Every year we hear about this “opting out” business. We aren’t big fans of standardized tests, but we don’t want our child to lose out. It says on the opt-out form that we will be missing “valuable information” about our child’s progress if she doesn’t take the test. 

Would I be preventing her teachers from knowing how she’s doing academically? 

Sincerely, A Curious & Cautious Parent

Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” I’ve always lived by that view. Today is no different.

And today is the sixth time I’ve been sworn in to a four year term as Lane County commissioner for the South Eugene District. I’ve also been sworn in twice as Oregon state senator and sworn in three times as Lane Community College board member. I’ve been privileged and honored to be called to public service.

We each bring all our past, including childhood traumas we have been working to heal from, to every experience we have, every day. Being arrested adds an intense fight or flight physical and psychological response that brings all of who you are into sharp focus. At least it did for me. As a child who’d been beaten with leather belts by an abusive father, I felt much of that same terror as an activist blocking oil trains from refineries in Washington state last May on the morning the police arrived in a military assault fashion at dawn, while our camp slept.

One goal of Oregon’s statewide land use program is “citizen involvement,” providing opportunities for public participation in all phases of the regulatory system. Public awareness and engagement are essential to a functional democracy.

When statewide goals and the regulations meant to support them have been corrupted, and when, as a consequence, the health, safety and welfare of the public and the environment are endangered, it is incumbent upon injured parties to seek redress through formal judicial procedures and/or by initiative petition.

A recent audit of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department, will likely generate more local debate about economic development incentives. I spent about 15 years working for the state economic development department and, after learning about the state audit, my first reaction was: It’s about time. 

While I know from experience that incentives are an important business recruitment tool, in my time at Business Oregon I saw a lot of abuse of incentives and very little accountability. The audit was right on the mark. Let’s hope that it does some good. Accountability for incentives has been way overdue at Business Oregon.