The incumbent’s consistent track record
BY MARY O’BRIEN
Four candidates running for county commissioner spoke and answered questions April 4 at the City Club of Eugene, and Bobby Green was asked one of those “worst record” questions. It was about Lane County’s environment. The questioner asked Green’s thoughts on why the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) “gave you the worst [environmental] score of any sitting Lane County commissioner.”
Technically, the only correct answer to this question regarding OLCV’s 2006-2007 scorecard would have been, “Because I have chosen to vote for development on farm, wildlife and forest lands more often than any other commissioner.”
Instead, in an heroic effort to deflect who has been making choices, Green stated, “I really can’t explain why they [OLCV] chose to do that.” As in, I really can’t explain why someone who counted nine cookies chose to report the number nine.
I can think of a couple answers Bobby could have given. He could have said, “I’m only one vote worse than Faye Stewart,” who voted “yes” in 2007 when Green voted against adopting a water resources conservation plan and overlay zone within Eugene’s urban growth boundary and against approving the City’s update to its state-required inventory of stream and upland wildlife habitat sites.
Or he could have answered, “Well, Anna Morrison always had a worse score than me until she was voted out.” Which would have been true, but that bar was laying on the ground. By the time Bill Fleenor defeated Morrison, she had racked up seven straight years (2000-2006) of a zero percent environmental vote record. OLCV didn’t start counting until 2000. Now it’s Green who has the worst record.
But he did continue with his answer: “What I can tell you is that my constituency, and the concerns of my constituency, is [sic] much broader than the agenda of OLCV … I make good decisions, based upon the evidence that’s in front of me, particularly when we have land use matters.”
Looking back over the seven years OLCV has been counting, Green’s “good” land use decisions have at least been consistent:
• Reject creation of riparian corridors and floodplain regulations to help recover the endangered Upper Willamette Spring Chinook salmon (2000).
• Re-designate agricultural land in a valley predominantly occupied by small farms for rural housing sprawl (2000).
• Prioritize, over all other area road projects, construction of the four-lane West Eugene Parkway through the West Eugene Wetlands. The WEP was eventually dropped, not least due to the fact that courts would have judged its environmental impact statement illegal (2002).
• Oppose increasing the percentage of federal funding under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 dedicated towards the acquisition of open space and conservation easements (2003).
• Open farms and wetlands to development by expanding Creswell’s urban growth boundary, ostensibly to get city water to the town’s hobby airport, but in reality opening the corridor from the town to the airport for sprawl development (2004).
• Contribute county money to build the WEP freeway through West Eugene Wetlands (2004).
• Approve subdivision of 84 acres of forestland to develop multiple large home sites. The Planning Commission had unanimously opposed this proposal due to its threat to wildlife and water quality (2005).
• In five 2006 votes, Green’s was the deciding vote to 1) approve a Ballot Measure 37 claim to allow a 157-house subdivision on agricultural land near Creswell; 2) amend the county plan to re-designate 316 acres of agricultural land south of Eugene to rural sprawl housing (10-20 acre lots); 3) do the same on 103 acres of forest land near Fall Creek; 4) do the same on 31 properties in the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed; and 5) do the same on 52 acres of forestland one mile north of Florence’s urban growth boundary.
In light of the growing realization of the dire necessity to reduce fuel consumption for food delivery (currently each produce item for your dinner has traveled an average of 1,500 miles to your plate) and to retain forests for water quality, carbon sequestration and open space, it would seem that local farm and forest protection has us all as a constituency.
Given Green’s campaign funding sources (heavily logging, real estate, and mining) as well as his reputation for frequently failing to return phone calls or emails to his district’s regular citizens, his “constituency” seems much narrower than our land, air and water.
Challenger Rob Handy would be a welcome change.
Mary O’Brien of Eugene has worked as a public interest scientist since 1981. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org