MAKE EUGENE A DEMOCRACY FOR ALL
Regarding City Club of Eugene President Andrew Kalloch’s Sept. 7 Viewpoint “What Makes Eugene, Eugene,” I suggest that is an open question and to elucidate it we must first ask: What is the viability of Eugene’s institutions insofar as they even remotely approximate something like a free society based on citizen participation?
The City Club’s lineup for this year’s speakers begins with Dr. Johnny Lake to discuss race, culture and ethnicity. But what about working class people in a city dominated by the middle class?
In elucidating the question of the viability of free institutions — which require citizen participation — the people most likely to be involved in political life, in voluntary associations and to vote are, whether we like it or not, college educated people with middle class incomes.
Such people create and formulate ideas about where Eugene is, where it should go and why — people close to the levers of power.
The key issue in Eugene as well as American society is the organization of the economy and the relation between corporate and governmental power.
Will the City Club face that issue head on and foster citizen equality, the key value of democracy? Or will it reinforce the continued dominance of the middle class? It’s a dominance that group does not deserve, particularly if we are true to democracy’s key value, citizen equality.
THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW
If you were on a ship in the middle of the ocean and it started taking on water, you would become alarmed and head for the lifeboats. We are now on a planet in the middle of space which is rapidly taking on heat. There are no lifeboats to take us to a nonexistent Planet B, yet the level of alarm is remarkably low.
The rising temperatures are causing unprecedented heatwaves, unprecedented wildfires, unprecedented droughts and unprecedented hurricanes. The word “unprecedented” no longer shocks us. Yet the engine light is flashing as we drive down the road to destroying the planet. What to do?
It has been established beyond doubt that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the climate situation in which we find ourselves, so we must stop burning them ASAP. The very profitable fossil fuel industry has known of these climate consequences for decades. Their power is money, and they have successfully out-lobbied scientists and funded politicians. Meanwhile, they’ve offered unproven, inadequate or financially infeasible solutions such as carbon sequestration, renewable natural gas and carbon offsets.
Only a mass groundswell of alarmed citizens — that means you and me — demanding action will convince our elected officials to act. Politicians may compromise, but physics does not. We can’t spend money on renewable energy projects and then permit more fossil fuel projects. If you want to leave our children a decent world, start now. Speak out, vote pro-climate and, most effectively, join with climate activists. Time is not on our side.
THREE BLIND MICE ON THE LANE COUNTY COMMISSION
In August, the conservative majority on the Board of County Commissioners (Pat Farr, David Loveall and Ryan Ceniga) pushed and bullied the County Administrator and Legal Counsel to find a way to “pause” pending code violation fines that began in 2007 on a 5-acre property in west Eugene. Today, an unfinalized 2001 ag structure permit is all there is to show for the unfinished four-story 8,900-square-foot commercial scale building on the property.
A 2007 notice stated, “In 2001, Lane County Land Management notified you that the two-story structure… had been built with neither land use nor building approvals,” and “the permit was not issued and expired-by-limit on April 13, 2005.” A May 2022 notice stated, “building permit BP01-00502 for the primary dwelling has expired and… there is no record of a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.”
On August 21, 2023, a notice of financial penalty of $780 per day, reduced from “up to $2,000/day,” was issued, following the direction to staff from three commissioners, as noted above. Currently, a local real estate agent is advertising showings of the unpermitted, 8,900-square-foot, four-story building for $1,399,000, ignoring a “no trespassing” sign the county has posted for public safety reasons.
County residents should be concerned about the liability the three conservative commissioners have imposed on us by inexcusably enabling ongoing dismissiveness of county laws by one individual. Those commissioners’ actions indicate their own disregard for the interests of the county they were elected to protect.
Two takeaways from the very public humiliation of the wildly outclassed Portland State football team (Oregon 81, PSU 7 on Sept. 2): College football needs a mercy rule. First team to a 40-point lead, the game is over. Go tailgate and savor your victory.
Whatever happened to consideration and sportsmanship?
A NEW STADIUM MAY NOT HELP ECONOMY
I understand the city and county governments are debating whether to finance a stadium facility for the Ems, although I wasn’t able to see any documentation about this transaction on the city of Eugene website. Some argue that supporting sports franchises helps the community and are culturally valuable institutions. However, this franchise would siphon local money out of our community into the pockets of the Elmore Sports Group, which has no real stake in our resilience and sustainability.
Academic research shows that no benefit comes to city economic development. A 2008 article in Policy Perspectives says, “Across the nation, franchises have argued that building a new stadium will lead to economic development in the form of increased incomes, jobs and tax revenues. However, the preponderance of academic research has disputed these claims… Stadiums seeking franchises are now shying away from making economic development claims in light of the strong research findings.”
BUILD THE NEW STADIUM
Grass roots Civic Stadium supporters battled for years to save the stadium. Eventually, they convinced 4J School Board to sell the stadium to the city, who sold it to Eugene Civic Alliance. Then, on a sorry day in July 2015, our precious stadium burned to the ground. We lost our stadium!
One of the concerns about a new stadium is that MiLB will drop the Emeralds and move to another town. So what! Guess what? It happened in 1974, and thanks to Hugh Luby and others we fielded an independent team that won the 1974 Northwest League baseball pennant.
Another concern is that the new stadium might not be utilized year round. At Civic Stadium a huge funeral was attended by hundreds, Eugene high school held graduation ceremonies there, the Eugene Bombers played football there, and the Eugene Rodeo was held there. The possibilities are endless for interesting events that could be held at a new stadium.
Another concern: It will lower real estate prices for nearby homes. College Hill overlooking the old stadium didn’t lose house values; in fact, it has always been a popular place to live.
Once built, the new Civic Stadium would serve thousands of hard working Eugene tax-paying citizens who love baseball, who love safe reasonably priced family entertainment, who love a beer, who love a hot dog smothered in ketchup and mustard and who love to have fun.