Eugene Weekly : News : 10.30.08

Checking the Mayor Mailers
Does Piercy=No Jobs and Torrey=Bush?
By Alan Pittman

Jim Torrey and Kitty Piercy are slamming each other in mailers in the tight mayor’s race.

Here’s some fact checking — first of a Torrey mailer attacking Piercy on jobs and then of Democrat Piercy’s mailer linking Torrey to George Bush.

Torrey Mailer

Claim: “Piercy=No Growth=No Jobs=No Hope” and “she keeps making it harder for Eugene business to create jobs.” False.

Explanation: State data indicate that during Piercy’s three years in office, Lane County added an average of 198 jobs per month. During Torrey’s eight years as mayor, the county added an average of 176 jobs per month. While Torrey was mayor, the local jobless rate increased, according to state data.

Claim: “Eugene is facing a major jobs crisis. Much of it is a direct result of poor economic planning and a leadership failure by Mayor Piercy.” False.

Explanation: Local unemployment has recently increased due to the financial crisis, but no economist has blamed the global credit crisis on Eugene Mayor Piercy. Eugene’s economy has actually faired better than many other cities that lacked urban growth boundaries to control excessive housing speculation, according to news reports.

Claim: Piercy is “strongly aligned with hardline no-growth advocates.” False.

Explanation: Piercy split with many local progressives in backing enterprise zone tax breaks for Hynix and subsidies for big downtown developers. Piercy has lead a successful city Sustainable Business Initiative to grow green local jobs. Piercy has supported city subsidies for developers working to fill downtown pits.

Claim: Under Piercy Eugene has “no land available to attract suitable employers.” False.

Explanation: City staff have estimated that to meet employer needs Eugene has a “generous surplus of commercial and industrial land,” 122 and 2,404 acres respectively.

Claim: Because of “bad policies” from Piercy, “Eugene has lost 1,000 jobs to Springfield.” False.

Explanation: PeaceHealth and Symantec announced that they were moving to Springfield while Torrey was mayor. Since 1990, Eugene’s population growth rate has outpaced Springfield’s. According to Census data, almost two-thirds of Springfield residents work outside of Springfield, most likely in Eugene.

Claim: Because of “bad policies” from Piercy, “Hynix closure means another 1,000 jobs gone.” False.

Explanation: Hynix closed due to falling chip prices and cheaper labor in China. At an Oct. 1 Fox TV debate and at the Sept. 12 Eugene City Club Debate Torrey told Piercy the loss of Hynix was “not your fault.”

Claim: Under Piercy “Eugene has become elitist and non-cooperative with our regional neighbors.” False.

Explanation: The bill to split Eugene and Springfield planning was pushed “at the request of Oregon Home Builders Association,” the state’s leading development lobby, according to the Legislature’s official ledger. The developers and Springfield conservatives backing the split excluded and did not cooperate with Eugene on the legislation and rejected compromises.

Claim: “Mayor Piercy has NEVER even mentioned jobs as a goal in her state-of-the-city addresses!!!” False.

Explanation: In Piercy’s 2008 state of the city speech, a list of goals was topped by: Eugene “supports the growth of sustainable businesses as a key to strengthening our economy.”

Piercy Mailer

Claim: Torrey “ran for the Legislature as a conservative Republican;” supported “the policies of George Bush including the invasion of Iraq;” and “gave the maximum contribution allowable to George W. Bush’s reelection.” True.

Explanation: Torrey ran as an anti-choice Republican in 2006 for the state senate and lost. At a Sept. 29, 2006, City Club debate, Torrey said he supported the Iraq invasion. In 2004 Torrey donated $2,000 to Bush’s re-election campaign.

In addition, Torrey spoke at an October 2004 South Eugene High School election forum in support of George Bush’s re-election, according to State Senator Floyd Prozanski and Democratic activist Val Hoyle. Torrey attended a Republican gathering and praised Bush’s state of the union speech in a Feb. 1, 2006, R-G article. Torrey’s campaign is run by a Republican political consultant, and he’s endorsed by local Republican elected officials. Torrey has repeatedly refused to say who will get his vote for President. 

Claim: “Fix the potholes? Torrey left us the potholes!” True in part.

Explanation: Under Torrey, the road repair backlog grew almost 2,000 percent, from a few million dollars to about $100 million. Under Piercy, the repair backlog  grew about 70 percent to $170 million. This year, the city will spend $5.5 million on street repairs under Piercy, twice Torrey’s pothole spending level. 

Claim: “Under Kitty Piercy, Eugene Police department staffing has actually increased.” True.

Explanation: When Torrey left office in 2005, the Eugene police budget was $25.7 million. After three years under Piercy, the police budget has grown to $42.4 million.

Claim: “Torrey has been spending a fortune on a campaign that is long on attacks, but short on the truth.” True.

Explanation: Torrey has spent a record half-million dollars. Most of the money has come from developers, gravel pit owners, construction companies and other pro-sprawl and anti-environmental interests, according to campaign finance records. The money has funded many attack ads with many false claims.