From earthquake safety to divestment

• We left the May 19 meeting of the City Club of Eugene fairly confident that our dams, rivers and reservoirs are safe despite the anticipated big earthquake. Erik Peterson, operations project manager of the Willamette Valley for Portland district of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Ray Weldon, professor in the University of Oregon Department of Earth Sciences, talked about how to reduce uncertainty as well as early warnings, family preparedness, measuring risk and the need for more resources to better understand the risk involved. In other words, it is tough to nail down just how confident we should or should not be.

•  The protest at Standing Rock is no longer making headlines, but the issue that drove the months-long protest, the Dakota Access Pipeline, is not gone. The Eugene Human Rights Commission (HRC) voted May 16 to support an ordinance advising the city against renewing its current contract with U.S. Bank, which ends in October 2018. U.S. Bank has invested heavily in fossil fuel pipelines, including the Dakota Access and Keystone XL. Those pipelines not only put Native American people and lands at risk of a spill, they also go counter to efforts to combat greenhouse gases and climate change. Forty people showed up a the May 22 Eugene City Council meeting in support of divestment, and 20 people spoke in favor of the city divesting from U.S. Bank. Emily Semple, the City Council’s liaison to the HRC, pointed out previously that there are many reasons to divest from all large banks, U.S. Bank included — she’d prefer to see the city do its money management with local credit unions instead. Eugene Municipal Code requires that city contracts give preference to goods and services produced in state. See our story about last week’s HRC meeting online.

• Proposed changes to the Eugene park rules to ban alcohol in all city parks don’t just prevent neighbors from enjoying wine in the park — they discriminate against the homeless. The ban would allow those who can afford to buy expensive host liquor liability insurance to have parties but exclude those who lack finances. At the May 22 City Council meeting Councilor Betty Taylor said, “We’re legislating against simple pleasures people enjoy,” and that it’s time to “make life pleasant for the people who live here.” Perhaps it’s time to stop criminalizing dogs and beer in the name of cleaning up the town.

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