Slant 2-26-2015

Springfield is in mourning, as are we all, for the pedestrian tragedy on Main Street that killed three children and seriously injured their mother Feb. 22. As we go to press we haven’t heard why the pickup driver hit the family, but regardless, the long and busy Main Street corridor has long been hazardous for walkers, bicyclists, pets and wildlife. Reducing the speed limit on this state highway would be an obvious first step. More pedestrian refuge islands are needed. And we appreciate those crosswalks we see around Eugene that allow pedestrians to activate flashing warning lights day and night. All this takes money, but how much are lives worth?

• According to the R-G, Lane Community College received a “scathing” review from its accreditation board, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, but we are not seeing it and neither is LCC President Mary Spilde. After the R-G article came out on Feb. 22, Spilde emailed LCC faculty and employees to say that “‘scathing’ is pretty much an inaccurate and severely misleading way to put it.” She points out that out of 113 standards, the community college was only out of compliance with five standards, and tells her colleagues, “Accreditation is a process of continuous improvement and receiving recommendations is a normal result.” 

The letter from the board to Spilde spends as many words praising LCC as it does suggesting improvements, lauding its “innovative, creative work.” And as long as we’re pointing out the good LCC does, we noticed the school is starting an Egan Warming Center on campus for 10 of its homeless students. Has someone at LCC made a difference in your life? Send us suggestions for Happening People to

Shelley Poticha came home to Eugene Feb. 23 to speak at the UO School of Art and Architecture as the director of Urban Solutions for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is formerly director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities in President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is leading NRDC in a new direction, into our cities, in the fight against extreme climate change. That makes sense with 80 percent of Americans living in cities and nearby suburbs. Her theme is a familiar one in Eugene: “We must get people out of their cars.”

• We were convinced even before we heard UO professor of education Jerry Rosiek talk to the Eugene City Club on Feb. 20 that mandatory, standardized, high-stakes testing is not good for school improvement. He effectively nailed down that thesis and added a new challenge: “We need to renew trust in schools and teachers.” Let’s do it. How?

• How easy is it to get historic designation for a residential property? Last week we wrote in our news section about the convoluted and time-consuming process in Eugene. A public hearing was held Feb. 19 on a property at the corner of Jefferson and 13th and we hear the city has given the owners tentative approval for City Historic Landmark designation (see story and photo at Is Springfield doing more than Eugene in saving and honoring its significant buildings? This week the historic Washburne District in Springfield celebrates a new addition: The historic Jenkins House has been moved from Glenwood, where it once faced a bulldozer to make way for a new hotel. The Jenkins House, now at the corner of 4th and D, has been restored and remodeled and will open to the public to view from 4 to 6 pm Thursday, Feb. 26. We like these stories.

• We’ve run Activist Alert every week for more years than we can remember. Why? As Peter Benensen, founder of Amnesty International, famously said, “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Being politically engaged is healthier than being cynical. Doing something, even reading a newspaper and having a conversation about current issues, feels better than doing nothing. And standing up for principles of truth and justice is the best way to honor all those people who have sacrificed so much for us in the past. There’s much work to be done, and always will be. Let’s get to it.