Slant 3-12-2015

• Former UO president David Frohnmayer’s most powerful legacy to this community should be the strength and courage he and his wife, Lynn Frohnmayer, have demonstrated in battling Franconi anemia, the disease that took the lives of two of their daughters and affects a third. The Frohnmayers established the Franconi Anemia Research Fund, shepherded it through endless meetings and raised millions for it. As recently as March 2, they sent out letters thanking donors for helping to finance research, “which already has given many children and young adults a bright future.” Amy Frohnmayer is one of these young adults whose future is brighter because of her father’s tireless work.

• No surprise that the Home Builders Association is freaking out over Envision Eugene proposals to not expand the urban growth boundary (UGB) for residential housing. The home construction industry and land speculators have a vested interest in California-style sprawl, but hey, there’s money to be made with in-fill and remodeling — just not easy millions subsidized by taxpayers. They can still build subdivisions in surrounding towns, and there’s certainly a need for more affordable housing units within the Eugene UGB. They speculate that restricting the UGB will raise housing prices in Eugene, but they seem to forget that Eugene has always had the highest real estate prices and rents in the area, and probably always will.

The powerful Home Builders Association spearheaded the infamous state legislation, HB 3337, that in 2007 broke up the Eugene-Springfield joint UGB and urban planning that had served the metro area well since 1982. The intent was to free up Springfield to grow. Much to the developers’ frustration, Springfield has not yet jumped to build big new subdivisions, recognizing, we suspect, that residential sprawl requires expensive infrastructure. Eugene and Springfield are closely interconnected — we even share a fire department — and restoring metro urban planning makes sense. For example, Eugene is certainly affected by Springfield’s planned industrial expansion into the Seavey Loop area.

• The proposal to have Duck athletics support academics has a nice ring to it. Ever since Duck football made a comeback and coach salaries began to raise eyebrows, the UO administration has claimed UO athletics is self-supporting. The UO’s lack of transparency means it’s impossible to know. But if we look at the shocking coach salaries and other extravagant expenses for Duck sports, it’s natural to conclude that UO athletics is flush enough to support the real mission of the university: education.

• What’s your choice of Eugene attractions for international visitors? Here’s a new one. An environmental lawyer from Brazil in Eugene for the international ELAW conference last week asked to see one place suggested by his young Brazilian friends, our terrific new skatepark, clearly admired the world over.

• We’re pretty liberal down here at Eugene Weedly, but there’s something about sweet, innocent little Girl Scouts hawking cookies outside the Oregon Microgrowers Guild pot shop that makes us cringe just a little bit. Then again, points for being entrepreneurs!

• Sorry to hear retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has bagged her visit to Lane County and her planned talk at City Club of Eugene May 1. O’Connor is founder of the iCivics web-based civics education program and says she has a conflict with the launch of a major partnership May 1 with the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. The justice says she supports Oregon’s efforts to establish the Alliance for Civic Education and her office is willing to help. Meanwhile, the wild trout of the McKenzie will get a break from O’Connor’s deadly fly-casting skills. 

• Some of us hang out along the Willamette, loving the constantly changing river and its wildlife and other fascinations above and below the waterline. We’ve noticed some unusual traffic on the river now that the levels have dropped. We spotted a drift boat going by with a bicycle and a dog onboard. The boater says he parks his pickup and boat trailer upriver in Springfield, drifts and fishes a mile or two, then leaves his dog to guard his boat while he bikes back to get his pickup. But it seems this activity can also be done without a car or truck shuttle. We’ve heard of bicyclists who put wheels on their canoes or inflatables and tow them up the riverfront bike path, then float down with their bikes onboard. Folding bikes supposedly work best. We’d like to see a video of that.