Slant 4-28-2016

Thumbs up for the civil political discourse in our community, compared to much of the country these days.

Thanks to the initiative and hard work of the City Club of Eugene and the League of Women Voters of Lane County, eight public candidate forums have been offered, with careful guidelines and lots of good information to help voters. KLCC broadcasts the forums on Mondays at 6:30 pm. The Morse Center on the UO campus opened its pre-election series April 26 with “Calm Before the Storm: Oregon and National Campaigns at Halftime.” Jack Roberts, the only Republican on the panel including Betsy Boyd, Serena Cruz and Jeff Mapes, said he could not vote for Donald Trump if he is the R nominee.  That conversation will continue May 23 when the Morse Center offers “Thunder on the Left and Right: Populism in the 2016 Elections.”

We criticize America most of the time, and that’s our privilege, but we cannot imagine another country that could or would grow the genius that was Prince.

Eugene’s own Mason Williams, who was head writer for Saturday Night Live back when it was still funny, has continued to write music and diatribes over the years. We ran across one of his unpublished poems from 2008 that resonates today. It’s called “Dirty Politics, The Vulgar Truth,” and reads:

Mud slinging campaigns/ for political gains/ are slurs from the curs who conceive ’em. The truth, come to pass/ is your head’s up their ass/ as far as you’ll believe ’em. Those ads on the tube/ prezoom you’re a boob/ who’ll fall for these half-baked lies./ The truth, evermore/ since eons of yore/ crocks of shit will always draw flies.

The tone-deafness of Mayor Kitty Piercy and many on the Eugene City Council reached new depths on the evening of Monday, April 25. The city of Eugene announced late in the day Monday that they were tagging on a status update for Kesey Square after the council’s public forum at 7:30 pm. After hearing plea after plea from citizens to stop building fences that target areas where the unhoused seek shelter, and rather focus on affordable housing, the issue of Kesey Square came up.

Councilor Chris Pryor suggested the city should do more outreach before deciding on the fate of the public square, after which Piercy made her own plea to council in the name of the private developers, including architectural firm Rowell Brokaw, which wants to build high-end apartments on Kesey Square. This is the same architectural firm designing City Hall, another project whose process has been riddled with problems, delays, a ballooning budget and a disregard for transparent process from the beginning.

“In their case, just prolonging the discussion doesn’t seem to be that helpful,” Piercy said to the council of the development group. “They just need to know because they’ve invested a lot in it and this has been hanging around a long time.”

We wonder why Piercy feels any obligation to the developers, who according to her, brought this proposal to the city out of their own volition? The city and the public did not ask them to invest time or money in a plan to build on a public space so why is anything owed to them?

Councilor George Brown rebutted Piercy’s point:

“You know, the potential developers, they’re developing property right across the street so they’re going to have a nice project; they don’t need this project,” Brown said, adding with a laugh, “They will survive and prosper if they don’t get Kesey Square.”

Even pro-development Councilor Mike Clark addressed that the way the development group introduced its proposal to the city, and the way the city handled it, was problematic and made it appear that a sweetheart deal was in the works.

Councilor Betty Taylor made a motion to bar the square from being sold. It was defeated 5-3. In a surprise turn of events, Councilor Claire Syrett joined Taylor and Brown for the first time in advocating for Kesey Square to remain a public space. Meanwhile, Councilor George Poling said the square should be sold to the developers right away.