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Slant 3-21-2013

• Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart’s convoluted attempt to get all of Lane County residents and businesses to pay for his ill-advised industrial development plans in Goshen is raising eyebrows even among the pro-growth crowd. As regional economic development veteran Bob Warren points out in his Viewpoint this week, “It’s time for a reality check.” Looks like the garbage fee idea, Senate Bill 248, died this week, at least in its present form. This is not Stewart’s first bad idea and it follows his inaction over the destruction of Parvin Butte and its impact on the residents of Dexter. These issues, and others, will plague him in 2014 if he seeks re-election. We hear former EWEB board member Joann Ernst has her sights set on Stewart’s seat. Ironically, Stewart and other conservatives on the commission did some gerrymandering of district lines in 2011 and Ernst got shifted from Commissioner Pete Sorenson’s South Eugene district into Stewart’s East Lane district. We expect her to make a formal announcement soon, and others may follow. 

• Any brilliant ideas for the old LCC/Montgomery Ward building on Willamette street? LCC President Mary Spilde told the City Club March 15 that her board “is committed to not leaving that building empty,” and recently decided to put out a request for proposals for all options. That same day, LCC held a grand opening for the classrooms and offices of its new Downtown Campus Academic Building. We took a tour. The architecture is much more appealing on the inside than the outside. Lots of natural light pouring in from all directions, great city views all around. You get the sense you are in a true urban environment. Check out the automated water bottle fillers in the hallways. One instructor told us she’s not sure about teaching classes on the street level with the downtown crowd parading along right outside the big windows. Might be good classrooms for teaching human behavior.

• It’s curious that when the 4J School Board convened a work session recently to answer questions about the 3x5 schedule at high schools, the only people they invited to speak were administrators and others supportive of the change. None of the 91 percent of teachers at North Eugene, the 81 percent of teachers at Sheldon or the 74 percent of teachers at South Eugene who signed a petition asking the board to delay implementation of the schedule change were invited to speak. So the result, a board that seems intent on moving ahead with the plan, shouldn’t come as a surprise. As Tad Shannon, president of the Eugene Education Association, said: “It was a foregone conclusion what the conclusion would be because the people who were here were all singing from the same hymnbook.” Board members are scheduled to visit Churchill, which implemented the 3x5 schedule this year, in the coming weeks to meet with students and get their input. We hope that information will be made public because, even though Churchill’s switch to the 3x5 was not considered a pilot, it would be wise for 4J and the community to learn what’s happening there.

• A Senate bill to ban gas-powered motors on Waldo Lake makes its way to the Senate floor this week and it includes an amendment that allows electric motors. The original bill did not. Electric motors enable boaters who cannot easily paddle or row to enjoy the lake, and provide a backup for sailboats and rowboats that can get in trouble when big winds unexpectedly kick up. Waldo without any motors would be best, but this compromise should help get the bill passed. Legislative action on Waldo is welcome as it will finally resolve some longstanding issues over jurisdiction, and prevent future Marine Board and Aviation Board members from changing the rules and endangering the water quality in this gem of the Cascades, one of the cleanest lakes in the world.  

The U.S. invaded Iraq 10 years ago and it was an unmitigated catastrophe from the beginning, leading to 6,017 U.S. military and contractor deaths, untold thousands of Iraqi soldiers blown to bits, at least 122,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (one study estimates more than 1.2 million civilians have perished due to the war), ongoing civil war and corruption, damage to our moral standing in the world community, the exacerbation of Muslim hatred toward the U.S., burdening our economy with potentially trillions of dollars in debt and overloading our VA medical system for generations to come. Have we learned anything? We still hear the drum beat of war and all-too-familiar propaganda, this time directed at Iran. The chicken hawks and war profiteers can hardly wait for our next foreign invasion and occupation, and they hope it drags out for decades.