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Guest Viewpoint

January 19, 2017

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.

But let’s face it: even by today’s low standards, that’s a lot of swearing.

January 19, 2017

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.

January 12, 2017

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.

January 5, 2017

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. 

December 29, 2016

It is difficult not to lament the fate of the University of Oregon in light of the inept administrative response to what should have been seen, at worst, as a teachable moment gone awry. 

On Halloween a respected scholar, in the privacy of her own home, attempted to open a discourse about white privilege using props consisting of a blackened face, a stethoscope and a white coat.

December 29, 2016

I’ve taught interpersonal communication to college students for 20 years and I thought Gayle Landt’s viewpoint, “Difficult Conversations” [EW 12/8] gave excellent advice. But part of me thinks we’re in danger of re-fighting the last war. 

I agree we need to listen and de-escalate conflict, and that’s blue-chip advice for successful communication. But 2016 also points us toward radical steps to reinvent our habits.

I have two New Year’s resolutions I want to invite others to join.

December 22, 2016

There is an old story about a village that dedicated itself to pulling children out of a river, until one day one of their members left the project and began walking up stream. “Where are you going?” someone asks. “We need you here!”  

The deserter replies, “I am going to find out who is throwing these children into the river!” 

I am one of those who fancied going upstream to stop the growing tide of homelessness, but I am increasingly finding that I must devote my time to pulling people out of the river. I cite just this one example from the day I write this, Dec. 8.

December 15, 2016

Local democratic control over education has been under assault for three decades. Sometimes this takes the form of federal mandates to use “Common Core” curriculum and high stakes standardized tests. These have been implemented largely without regard for local feedback and by using empty threats to school funding to silence parent and teacher objections to these policies. 

December 8, 2016

So the holidays are upon us — and it is likely we will be spending time with people who understand the world very differently than we do, as evidenced in the divisions of the recent election. As The Beatles famously sang at the end of their Magical Mystery Tour album: “All you need is love!” 

November 23, 2016

As EW readers continue to regain balance after the presidential election, we want to reflect on two education-related measures: Measure 97, the tax on large corporations, and Measure 98, the high school graduation initiative.

Who won?  Large corporations, that’s who.

An estimated record $28 million was ponied up by big corporations to defeat Measure 97. We mean big:  Walmart, Ford, CVS, Boise Cascade, PGE, Weyerhaeuser, etc. 

November 17, 2016

It may seem strange to suggest that the path to peace is to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty regenerating the soil in our gardens and around the world. But this is more than a metaphor suggesting that building peace is like growing a healthy garden. 

The wars we fight, the deplorable state of public health and the surpassing of planetary limits leading to climate change can all be traced back to how we grow our food and view the earth as a resource base to be turned into commodities for consumption.

November 10, 2016

Homelessness and impoverishment are not law enforcement problems and cannot be mitigated by police actions. The Eugene City Council needs to stop dithering and being paralyzed by NIMBY trolls who could not care less that housing is a human right. 

November 3, 2016

What’s your “social imaginary”? In other words, as the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor defines it in his 2007 work Modern Social Imaginaries, how do you imagine your social existence, how do you fit together with others — including the natural environment, I would add — and how do you imagine things going on between you and others, the expectations normally met and the deeper ethical ideas and images that underpin those expectations?

November 3, 2016

For the past century, Planned Parenthood has transformed sexual and reproductive health and empowered millions of people worldwide to make informed health decisions — forever changing the way they live, love, learn and work. To commemorate our centennial, we are kicking off #100YearsStrong, a yearlong effort of acting, sharing and celebrating the progress Planned Parenthood has championed for women and families over the past 100 years.

October 27, 2016

Ward 1 voters need to know the truth about the two run-off candidates, Emily Semple and Josh Skov. To do so, they should consider an objective and truthful comparison of where the candidates stand on several key issues.

Semple supports the city’s Climate Recovery Ordinance, which puts forth a 2030 goal for the city to reduce our use of fossil fuels by 50 percent from 2010 levels. She is also a strong advocate of clean air and says EWEB’s air-polluting Seneca Biomass plant may need to be reconsidered.

October 20, 2016

In the last week of September, we passed right by 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a major milestone on our way to climate disruption. It’s alarming given all that’s at stake, but we have available to us now all the solutions that we need to dramatically reduce emissions and secure a livable future for us, our children and our grandchildren. 

October 20, 2016

Democracy and Education

 

As we approach Election Day, we are being faced with historic decisions. The results of the presidential race will have consequences beyond the next four years. Here in Oregon, voters will have a chance to influence the future of generations of children, the elderly and people with health needs. Measure 97, which would tax the largest corporations doing more than $25 million in business in Oregon, could reverse the trend of the last 25 years of disinvestment in schools, seniors and health care programs in our state.

October 20, 2016

As Benton County prepares to vote on whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for county elections, Oregonians are presented an opportunity to explore different voting systems. Ranked-choice voting has the most political traction right now, but it's only one of several alternatives.

October 13, 2016

In January 2013, I was roofied and raped at a fraternity while I was a student at the University of Oregon. The Sunday before the first day of my last winter term at the UO, I woke up naked with a man I had never wanted to be naked with, the night flooding back to me as I tried to find my clothes and leave. 

October 13, 2016

Sooner or later it happens. You write or say something and then you have to come clean and admit that you just got it wrong. In “The $7 million giveaway” (EW, 9/1) I argued that our local officials got little or nothing in return for extending the enterprise zone benefits for Broadcom, the company that purchased the former Hynix site, an additional two years. I concluded that without any new requirements, the additional $7 million in property tax waivers was not an investment at all, it was a just a “giveaway” of much-needed tax revenue. 

September 29, 2016

In her Sept. 15 column entitled “Quarry on Native Lands,” Kayla Godowa-Tufti argued that the Old Hazeldell Quarry (OHQ) site, which is currently the subject of a public land use process with Lane County to allow quarry mining, is culturally significant to local Native American tribes. There are a number of factual inaccuracies that merit a response.

September 29, 2016

As we celebrate and reflect upon another year “back to school” and brace ourselves for the upcoming election season, we are reminded of George Washington’s words in his 1797 farewell address: “… as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion be enlightened.” Ours is a much different world, but Washington’s logic is just as sound today as it was then. The government we have reflects the state of public enlightenment.

September 22, 2016

What do you think when you see someone with bad teeth — big gaps or the disturbing discoloration of decay or the sunken-jaw look of too many missing teeth —  someone who covers his or her mouth when talking, someone who seems afraid to smile? Dangerous? Criminal? Drug addict? 

Well, in some cases that might be true, but in most cases it’s not. And the judgments that you and I — often unwittingly — make about people with visibly bad teeth can be a barrier to those people overcoming difficulties in their lives.

September 15, 2016

The city of Eugene has morphed a neighborhood initiative to improve pedestrian and traffic safety on south Willamette Street into an intrusive rezone of neighborhoods in that area. They call it an “up-zone.” From the perspective of many who live there, it is more appropriately called a “down-grade” — of property values, the environment and their quality of life.