Slant 4-14-2016

• We are cheering the youth of Our Children’s Trust for their victory against the fossil fuel industry and a government that is dragging its feet on climate change! On April 8, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, Oregon, decided in favor of 21 young people and scientist James Hansen and on behalf of future generations. The plaintiffs sued the federal government for “violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels.” Motions to dismiss the suit were denied and the court found that the federal government is subject to the public trust doctrine.

• We are also cheering Democracy Spring this week. Protesters were in Washington, D.C. April 11 demanding that Congress “take immediate action and create a viable small-dollar public funding system for federal elections. Democracy Spring is calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which lifted restrictions on corporate money in politics. The protest is bringing hundreds of campaign finance advocates to sit-in at the Capitol building over the next week and media reports say hundreds have been arrested. Follow the protests on Twitter at #DemocracySpring.

• Wait. Is it time to ask the citizens of this city what kind of City Hall they want? The cost of the itty-bitty city hall that the city manager, City Council and their architects are planning just shot up to about $24 to $25 million, which is at least $6 million more than the approved budget, and construction has not even begun. One additional cost is for offices for our elected city councilors. It’s difficult to understand why they were left out of the earlier plans while the city manager and his staff of 30 were well officed. Another cost is for seismic upgrading, although it’s still doubtful whether this is needed at the level suggested. And we need to remember that most of the city services will continue to be spread around downtown after this proposed city hall is built. Maybe the manager, his staff, the mayor and council need a plan B. Where is the leadership for that?

• Only two serious mayoral candidates emerged from the candidate forum of the City Club of Eugene on April 8: Lucy Vinis and Mike Clark, whose signs are all around town leading to the May 17 primary. The other three, Bob Cassidy, Scott Landfield and Stefan Strek, sounded like earnest citizens seeking a platform for their ideas, not viable candidates. We really need another forum for Vinis and Clark to tell us about their hopes for this community. Meanwhile, Ward 1 candidates will square off Friday, April 15, at noon in the Downtown Baker Center.

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