• Tough economic times fuel anti-government sentiment. Under stress, we tend to look for simple solutions to complex problems. Vote “no” on any new taxes for public safety and start packing a handgun; that appears to be the dominant attitude in Josephine and some other counties that have grown dependent on O&C timber revenues for decades. Seven of those counties, including Lane, are in crisis, cutting even essential county services. Our property taxes are among the lowest in the state due to our historic reliance on O&C payments, but many county voters are loathe to raise property taxes, even to the minimal limits imposed by Measures 5, 47 and 50.
We might fare better than Josephine County in a tax levy to support county public safety, depending on how much of the money would be dedicated to crime prevention vs. punishment. But in the long term, the best strategy to raise our county tax base is to play to our strengths. Supporting education at all levels is vital to our economic future. Buying, banking and investing locally will keep money circulating in Lane County. Growing and consuming our own food is huge. And perhaps our greatest treasure is our county’s livability. Let’s protect our farmlands, water, air quality, our educational and cultural assets and support our small, independent businesses. They are all we have to carry us into the future.
• You gotta love Lane Community College President Mary Spilde and her elected board. They’ve taken a big leap to put up six stories of student housing across from the library in the middle of downtown Eugene. They hope 250 students will be living in Titan Court in the fall of 2012. Not dormitories, these are furnished apartments intended for students from LCC, the UO and even NCU. With no dining hall and no designated parking, these are truly urban apartments next to the bus lines and bike path. Rents will run from $650 to $850 per month, and a few will be as large as four bedrooms. They can be a big boost for our recovering downtown and, ultimately, a profit center for LCC. Both the apartments and the classroom/administrative building they adjoin are designed to be green learning environments for students and the community. Next question: What happens to the old LCC center in downtown Eugene?
• The huge turnout for the first home game of the Eugene Metro Azul Women’s Fútbol Club last Friday indicates high-level soccer has a big future in Lane County. More than 600 people showed up to enthusiastically cheer the team to victory, despite the rain and on the same night as the world-class Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field, First Friday ArtWalk downtown and a dozen other events. The next game, against Portland’s club, will be at 7 pm Friday, June 15, at South Eugene High School.
• Not surprising that our own Gov. John Kitzhaber leads the nation in honesty with 100 percent of his statements being ranked true or mostly true, according to a recent ranking of governors as reported by the Uppity Wisconsin blog (see http://wkly.ws/1an). Kitzhaber’s stellar ranking by Politifact got little media attention due to embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker being named “the #1 most dishonest governor in America” with only 22 percent of his statements getting a thumbs-up. Walker was followed in the bottom rankings by other “Pants on Fire” governors: Rick Perry, Lincoln Chafee and Chris Christie. Looks like Walker’s lies, obfuscations and massive out-of-state funding prevailed as he survived a recall election this week. Another reason to cherish Oregon’s relatively uncorrupt politics.
• Quaker scholar Peg Morton is one of our favorite local peace activists. She’s a longtime community leader who has been involved in Taxes for Peace Not War, Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC), the Latin American Solidarity Committee, the decades-long campaign to close the notorious School of the Americas, and much more. Now she’s writing a book about her lifetime of nonviolent peace activism and her numerous arrests and jail times. She’s financing the printing of her book by selling copies in advance. Send a check for $10 to her at 510 Van Buren St., Eugene 97402.