Cultural diversity stood at center stage when our Lane County commissioners bypassed conservative and liberal women and struck a blow for civil liberty. At this rate, we may have to change the name of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Pat Farr Way … or Farr Away.
You see, Pat helped orchestrate Faye Stewart’s replacement on the commission. Twenty-seven people applied, including women from both sides of the aisle. Being the past master of cultural sensitivity — remember his role in Replacing Chris Edwards? Farr stood up for Lane County’s under-represented citizens and sided with two other white guys in a 3-1 vote. The nay vote was a white guy, too, for the record.
Farr and commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich voted to replace the former white guy with a new white guy, Gary Williams. Talk about your profiles in courage! You can never have enough white guys makin’ decisions for everyone else here in Lane County! Just ask Jim Torrey.
Now, Gary’s not a bad guy; after all he’s the former mayor of Cottage Grove. But let’s face it; he’s a known conservative commodity. He’ll be a terrible vote on land use or herbicides or tax policy; anathema to progressives. And he’s already announced he’s going to run for the seat again in 2018. Can you imagine those five white guys and how much they could accomplish in the next six years? Me neither.
The list of 27 included candidates of every persuasion; from lefty environmentalists to Creswell’s Betsy Schultz, the current chief of staff for state Rep. Bill Post, a right-wing radio talk show host. What the commissioners ended up with were two Democrats and one Republican as the finalists. Guess who won?
So now, progressives in east Lane County will have the task of defeating an “incumbent” with a poor record on everything from land use and zoning to public safety. And this district has changed politically due to the 2010 gerrymandered redistricting. We long-time residents called it the “Churchill-ization” of east Lane District 5.
Now I realize that Democrats can do a great job of sacrificing the “good” on the altar of the “perfect.” We have a long history of it. As much fun as we had watching the Republican presidential circular firing squad last year, Democrats also have a long tradition of dysfunction between the left and the center of the party. Remember Faye Stewart’s last race? A landslide.
I can only hope Democrats look beyond Kevin Matthews as they search for a candidate in 2018. I like what I’ve heard about Heather Buch. Both Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson agreed to nominate her as one of the finalists (in the name of cultural diversity). And she deserved the nomination. She appears to be an intelligent centrist who could defeat Williams if he’s the candidate in 2018.
Speaking of Jim Torrey, it looks like we’ll be able to memorialize him in Oregon history. Rep. Mitch Greenlick is sponsoring a non-profit Community Care Organizations (CCO) bill that would make illegal the villainous behavior of Torrey and other members of the Trillium board of directors who made off like bandits at the expense of benefits denied to Oregon’s poorest Medicaid recipients.
Last year, the R-G reported that a small group of insiders in a private Eugene company, Agate, that managed medical services for low-income Lane County residents made about $34 million when the company sold last year to a large out-of-state buyer.
Stock options that had been selling for $100 to $300 a share escalated to $1,800 a share according to Agate financial records included in the sales documents. Torrey’s take was estimated at over $2 million in stock options.
Keep your eyes on House Bill 2122 as it moves to the House floor for a vote. As reported by the R-G, the bill seeks serious reforms to the remaining state CCO’s and requires new ones to be non-profit. The “Jim Torrey Memorial Bill” has such a nice ring to it. Stay tuned.