Alan Pittman is the News Editor for Eugene Weekly.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has stiffed the local unemployed and the environment on federal stimulus money.
At a time that everyone from Barack Obama to Gov. Ted Kulongoski to Mayor Kitty Piercy is calling for big steps to reduce oil addiction and global warming, ODOT will dedicate more than 90 percent of the stimulus money to highways.
The two local stimulus projects include $2.2 million for a city of Eugene Delta ponds bike path and bridge project and $180,000 for sidewalk and lighting work at the Eugene train station. The projects are scheduled to start in the next three months.
Lane County has about 9 percent of the stateâ€™s population, but ODOT allocated less than 2 percent of the stimulus money for locals. The countyâ€™s January unemployment rate of 11.9 percent exceeds the state rate of 10.9 percent.
ODOT did not dedicate any of the stimulus money for public transit. The state gave pedestrian and bike facilities only about eight percent of the funds.
Environmentalists had hoped that ODOT would dedicate most of the flexible federal stimulus money to greener transportation. A coalition of nine environmental groups delivered a letter and hundreds of petitions to ODOTâ€™s Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) calling for spending the stimulus on a long list of ready to go bike, pedestrian and transit projects.
But the environmetal lobbying apparently had no effect. Bob Stacey, director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, emailed BikePortland.org to explain what went wrong: â€œThe Transportation Commission got heavy pressure from pro-highway legislators, road builders, and Washington County and other local governments looking for road-building money.â€
The OTC voted Feb. 27 to spend 90 percent on highwaysâ€”about $64 million on paving, safety and enhancement projects and $41 million on road widening for more traffic.
The vote caused some blog commenters on BikePortland to accuse Gov. Kulongoski, who appoints the OTC members, of â€œgreenwash.â€ Kulongoski has proclaimed soaring goals of reducing global warming, but has taken few concrete actions to actually reduce carbon emissions.
In a speech last year Kulongoski said, â€œI want Oregon to lead the nation in cutting greenhouse gases.â€
But after his OTC voted zero stimulus for transit without a public hearing, the Governor proclaimed, "I applaud the speed at which the Oregon Transportation Commission and the Department of Transportation movedâ€¦.This is exactly the intent of the federal stimulus dollars.â€
Other states devoted a large share of their stimulus money to environmentally friendly transit projects rather than polluting highways. Maryland, for example, devoted 39 percent of its stimulus money to transit.
The transportation commission plans to vote March 18 on how to spend the remaining $100 million in federal stimulus that it controls. Oregon counties and cities will also share about another $100 million in transportation stimulus money and decide how to spend it. Some other federal stimulus funding may go directly to local transit agencies, bypassing ODOT.
CarrotMob could make Eugene a greener place.
The local idea from the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network goes like this:
clipped from greenlane-sbn.org
- Businesses compete with how much good they are willing to do.
- Consumers choose one business they want to reward.
- Consumers support that business by making coordinated purchases.
- The most successful business gets rich.
- Consumers buy things that they would buy anyway, but by organizing themselves, they change the world.
The carrot, reverse eco-boycot idea appears to have had a big impact in San Francisco:
A good local alternative to Starbucks downtownâ€”light, airy, comfy chairs, friendly, free wi-fi and a big green tree soaring to a vaulted ceiling with skylights. They could use a little bigger baked goods selection, though.
According to the shop's Facebook page , the shop opened in 2007 and is named after the proprietor's son who passed away in 2005.
Here's EW's Chow restaurant guide listing:
clipped from www.eugeneweekly.com
GARY'S COFFEE 525
High St. Serving Stumptown coffee, tea, juices, pastries and bagels.
6:30 am-7 pm M-F, 7 am-6 pm Sa, 7:30 am-4 pm Su. $.
Here's the location across from the 5th Street Market:
Which of these is "Meth Mouth" and which is "Mountain Dew Mouth?"
A is Dew, B is Meth. So is Mountain Dew the new Meth?
"Central Appalachia is No. 1 in the nation in toothlessness. According
to dentists, one of the main culprits is Mountain Dew soda. With 50
percent more caffeine than Coke or Pepsi, Mountain Dew seems to be used
as a kind of anti-depressant for children in the hills."
Just Dew'n the acidic, sugary corporate product does appear to have drug-like effects for children:
The Eugene Fire Department deployed 23 people for five hours to respond to a â€œsmall leakâ€ of hydrochloric acid gas from a railroad tank car last night.
The city responded in moon suits and evacuated Union Pacific employees from the rail yard off the Northwest Expressway. But the city didnâ€™t evacuate the neighborhood next to the accident.
To get money for new offices, the city is now trumpeting the chance of a few police cars getting trapped under City Hall in an earthquake. But a far more dangerous and likely hazard may be a toxic train derailment.
In 1982 a chemical car derailment forced the evacuation of Livingston, Louisiana. The chemicals burned and exploded for two weeks and were only controlled after digging a huge pit and blowing the rail cars up.
Imagine this next to the 5th Street Market or in the Whiteaker or Trainsong neighborhoods:
Facing huge cuts in city services due to the recession, the Eugene City Council voted unanimously today to blow at least $17 million in city reserves on a new police station that voters opposed three times.
Keeping the reserves from being used to prevent more than $10 million in cuts to popular library, parks, Hult Center, planning, community policing and other services was a primary motivation for the City Manager and councilors. â€œIt really canâ€™t be on the table as part of the budget committee discussion,â€ said Councilor Chris Pryor. â€œWe need to make sure it goes for this.â€
Three south Eugene councilors and Mayor Kitty Piercy had expressed concerns about the budget maneuver on Monday. But including up to $5 million in the proposal for a seismic and mechanical upgrade of the City Hall building was apparently enough to win over their support today.
But while all the councilors and city staff may support prioritizing the police station above other city services, voters do not. Police station measures failed in May and November 2000 and again in 2004. The last margin was 60 percent opposed.
City Manager John Ruiz recommended that the council get around the will of the voters on the police station and spend its reserves on the unpopular facility without asking voters. Voter approval is "unlikely in the foreseeable future,â€ he wrote in a memo.
Going to church on Sunday?
Most people in Eugene won't.
The Eugene/Springfield metro area ranked as one of the very least religious places in the nation in a 2000 national study by the Glenmary missionary group. Only one in four people in Eugene go to church, half the national average, according to the study. Out of 276 metro areas, Eugene ranked 273 for the lowest percentage of adherents.
Here's some clips from the Glenmary study:
clipped from www.glenmary.org
Four metros report less than one in
four claimed by the participating groups: Medford, Oregon
(22%), Corvallis, Oregon (23%), Redding, Calif. (24%),
and Eugene, Ore. (24%). (Complete
clipped from ext.nazarene.org
273 Eugene 24.5%
Oregon ranked as one of the least religious states in the nation in a Gallop poll released this week. The poll asked, "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" Nationally 65 percent said yes. In Oregon the percentage was 53.
That doesn't mean they were regular churchgoers. Nationally only 30 percent told Gallup that they go to church at least once a week.
Here's clips of the Gallup stuff:
clipped from www.gallup.com
Overall, 65% of Americans say religion is an important part of their daily lives
So with so few actually very religious, especially here, what does this mean for all the political God pandering?
Should the Obama inauguration have included at least four official sermons (two at the event, one in the morning and one the next day)?
Should the 4J School Board recite the "under god" pledge at every meeting?
What about all these, national, state and city prayer breakfasts?
What about gay marriage in a state where half don't consider themselves religious and less than that go to church regularly?
For police officers and judges, dishonesty is a firing offense.
Without integrity, none would trust them.
So why are these law enforcement officials lying to hype crime?
Eugeneâ€™s acting Police Chief Pete Kerns and a gaggle of local judges have declared that the area suffers from a crime wave of apocalyptic proportions. The local mainstream media has repeated their crime claims without question, causing much confusion.
Here are the documented facts:
According to the FBI, Eugeneâ€™s violent crime rate has fallen 53 percent and its property crime rate has fallen 43 percent since 1997. Hereâ€™s the data table from the U.S. Department of Justiceâ€™s official online database:
Using the same DOJ database, out of 398 cities with more than 100,000 people, Eugene ranks 280th for violent crime rate and 90th for property crime rate.
So why are they hyping crime? Well, the police have been pushing for huge budget increases for more than a decade. The judges apparently listen more to the police than the evidence.