• Nearly a foot of snow followed by an ice storm created chaos in Lane County this past weekend and shows us how unprepared we are for disasters large and small, whether brought about by climate or earthquakes. This week we heard an audit of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management indicated the agency has not completed its statewide disaster plan, among other deficiencies. We need to demand better performance from local, state and national agencies, but we also need to be better prepared in our neighborhoods for climate weirdness and seismic events. We’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: Get to know your neighbors, even the ones with obnoxious kids and furry critters that crap in your yard. Find out who has a wood stove, chainsaw, snow shovel, four-wheel drive, spare bedrooms, camping gear, extra food and water. Who has medical training and first aid supplies, booze and drugs? Who can provide emergency childcare? Resilience starts at home.
Meanwhile, kudos to EWEB, EPUD, SUB and other local crews, Public Works, police and fire personnel who have been working 24-7 to restore power, clear the streets and deal with other storm related emergencies. Some regional utilities also brought in crews and rigs from other cities and counties not affected by the storm. But not everybody is happy with EWEB’s performance. Check out the utility’s Facebook page to read numerous grumpy comments from people still shivering in the dark, days after the storm.
• A decision on Civic Stadium is expected at the 4J School Board meeting at 7 pm Wednesday, Feb. 19, and Fred Meyer is running ads and mailing flyers promising 250 jobs and $8 million in wages and benefits. Maybe temporary construction jobs? Eugeneans will only buy so much food, clothing and plastic stuff from China. Boosting Eugene’s tax base could create some government jobs and some folks from Veneta and Springfield might get hired at the store. But independent businesses nearby are likely to lose jobs. And Kroger/Fred Meyer is an Ohio company, so profits and the jobs related to those profits will say bye-bye Eugene, hello Cincinnati.
• What’s up with the budget? The city will be tapping reserves again to fill the assumed $3 million deficit in FY 2014, but is eyeing new revenue sources in FY 2015 and 2016. The city is quietly holding a series of five meetings of the Revenue Team of the Budget Committee and few people know about it. The first meeting had only one citizen in the audience. This subcommittee is similar to the odd Financial Investigative Team (FIT) that met last fall and was described by one observer as “3.5 hours of life wasted.” This new panel is looking at some very limited proposals for increasing city revenues in the future, such as a business license fee and a motel/hotel tax. A personal income tax is not on the list, even though it might pass if it were to target only the highest earners in Eugene.
Some healthy brainpower is on this panel: John Barofsky, Ken Beeson, Jen Bell, Rob Bennett, Bob Clarke, Chelsea Clinton, Jill Featherstonhaugh, Gerry Gaydos, Dave Hauser, Deborah Noble, Andrea Ortiz, George Poling, Greg Rikhoff, Claire Syrett and Marty Wilde. The next meeting is 5:30 to 7:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Atrium.
• Rumblings from our neighbors to the south: What if California Gov. Jerry Brown runs for re-election and wins? What if he can hold his governorship and at the same time run against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary. What if?