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"Guest Viewpoint"

The Lane County Commission is considering a proposed ordinance that would give five elected officials a stranglehold over the people’s local initiative power.

Let’s be clear: The initiative and referendum power belongs to the people free from government interference, as recognized by the Oregon Constitution. The people’s right to circulate petitions is core political speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

With the British electorate’s dramatic and unexpected decision to pull out of the European Union, The New York Times reports that “the same yawning gap between the elite and mass opinion is fueling a populist backlash” all across Europe and the United States. 

Here we go again — up to 30 more years of urban renewal, because “the city concludes that the entire urban renewal area is blighted.” After 48 years and approximately $130 million (surely over a quarter of a billion dollars adjusted for inflation), the total taxable valuation of all of the property in the district is not even equal to the inflation-adjusted tax money we have poured into it. 

In a recent review article about forest thinning and its effectiveness to reduce wildfire severity and spread in Forest Ecology and Management, the researchers came to a conclusion with regards to reducing fire risk and effects that “thinning alone had either less of an effect or none at all, compared to untreated sites.”

I want my country back. I want the country where “All My Relations” meant an expanded humanity that lives in kinship with other life forms as relatives, not resources. That recognizes that humans in particular are relatives to be nurtured and cared for, not resources to be enslaved or exploited. When enslavement, exploitation or terror happens, that the solution to oppression is to become more humane than your oppressors. 

Summer is here, with heat that is ripening berries and tomatoes. For we locavores, lovers and eaters of local food, paradise is at hand. However, local farm fresh foods are still far from the default choice for most, and for many households, fresh produce is unaffordable. 

To help get more locally grown fruits and vegetables into the hands of those struggling to put food on the table, Willamette Farm and Food Coalition is partnering with the Lane County Farmers Market to bring Double Up Food Bucks to Lane County. 

I have followed with frustration and sadness the response to the film Vaxxed which has been showing at the David Minor Theater in Eugene. The film inaccurately represents the science of vaccines and autism, and I worry that it may mislead parents in Lane County.  

I am a mother to two young children, and I feel the weight of responsibility to make wise decisions about their healthcare. I am also trained as a scientist, and I’ve found that my background in the scientific process has been a valuable tool in helping me to make smart choices for my family. 

The Eugene City Council, Lane County Commission, Lane Community College and 4J are all on board with diverting your tax dollars to benefit private property and businesses in the Downtown Urban Renewal District (DTURD) — even though you paid those taxes assuming you were funding education, public safety, libraries, parks and other essential services.

Earlier this year, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill affirming the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s decision to remove wolves from the state Endangered Species Act and essentially block judicial review. Although the delisting decision and subsequent passage and signing of HB 4040 dealt wolf recovery a blow, the wolf conservation and management plan ultimately determines the fate of this keystone species. 

Citizens of Lane County, take pride in your roadsides! Unique in the nation, the county hasn’t poisoned them since 2003, with unexpected benefits. Green, living roadsides and the well-crafted policies that achieve them are among the many gifts left by Jan Wroncy of Blachly, whose body returned to the soil April 16.

May was National Preservation Month. I’m a little late writing this, as I’ve been so distracted with the elections and gardening. I’m also still peeved by that hatchet job on Springfield EW recently published, so writing this got sidetracked. 

On April 10, Eugene First Christian Church celebrated its 150th anniversary. You’ve probably seen the church building — white columns under a massive dome, bronze-capped bell tower, stained glass windows everywhere you look. 

And maybe you’ve even heard about some of the work this congregation does: the Helping Hands Room, the Interfaith Shelter and Egan Warming Center (side by side with other outstanding local congregations) and, most recently, its sponsorship of Opportunity Village. 

Sometimes extremely revealing insights pop up in places where you least expect them. Such was the case of a recent Fairmount Neighborhood Association meeting. City Councilor Alan Zelenka gave a report on a variety of current topics facing the Eugene City Council, and in the process revealed some very dark and disturbing insights into the dysfunctions in our local government, particularly regarding the controversy surrounding the newly revealed information that there were $7 million of previously unaccounted-for overruns in the construction of the new Eugene City Hall.

With heated discussions about rezoning in South Eugene, disputes about Kesey Square, confusion about what offices should be in the proposed City Hall and questions about the placing of an expanded farmers market, it has become obvious that planning in Eugene is not functioning well. 

I’m writing this letter because I feel I need to talk about what is going on at the University of Oregon right now, perhaps echoing other people’s concerns. 

With the city’s most recent proposal for a new Downtown Urban Renewal District (DTURD) Plan Amendment, councilors are on the verge of destroying any lingering hope that they serve the public rather than the economic elite. That hope will be replaced with profound distrust if they resurrect the DTURD after vowing to end it.

“To Bern, or not to Bern?” asked Matthew Keating, a Sanders campaign organizer, eloquently introducing Sen. Sanders before an adoring crowd of thousands in Springfield on Thursday, April 28. “To vote, to Bern. To Bern, perchance to dream. Ay, there is the rub.”

I’ve been the president of Oregon Roads, a leasing and finance company in Eugene, for 26 years. I’m married, have a son, daughter, daughter-in-law and a grandson. I have board-member and board-chair experience with corporations, nonprofits and municipal entities. I’ve been appointed to Eugene City Council committees and served on Lane Transit District’s steering committee. I volunteer my time as a habit. I believe that I have the qualifications to govern, so I humbly ask for your vote.

I have lived in Israel for more than seven months now and I struggle to reconcile many residents’ opinions with current events and accounts of history. Eager to find opposing viewpoints — and not apt to withhold my own — I’m familiar with the proverbial “you’ll understand when you’re older.” Perhaps. Or perhaps one man’s naiveté is another’s objectivity. I keep wrestling with these arguments, nonetheless.

It’s mid-October and I’m on The Nature Conservancy’s 9,000-acre Staten Island, part of the 46,000 acre Cosumnes River Preserve, in California’s Sacramento River Delta. Owned by the Conservancy, the island is all farmland, farmed for the benefit of migrating birds. I’m looking over fields of harvested wheat, corn and potatoes as hundreds of 5-foot-tall greater sandhill cranes jump and dance in the fields. As I watch, hundreds more arrive with their haunting, gurgling call.

I’m not one to usually complain. I typically see both sides of the equation. But this nonsense of raising the minimum wage to $13.50 an hour! How come I didn’t get a vote on this? 

It was one of those moments when I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. I had entered the Growler Underground in anticipation of meeting several friends and hearing lots of great music at the weekly open mic on Main Street in Springfield. As soon as I walked in, someone handed me the latest issue of Eugene Weekly and said, “Look what they did to Springfield.”

In the beginning, “downtown renewal” in Eugene was really about greasing the skids for the controversial Valley River shopping center. The development community embraced this “tool,” and a chorus of the optimistic and the self-interested promised an attractive, renewed downtown and a gigantic mall.   

I am sorry to hear that the small square at Broadway and Willamette will possibly be replaced by a commercial building. Since this square is, I believe, the only hard-surfaced square in Eugene’s downtown, it would seem a very unfortunate decision. Most cities value and preserve their public places.