Alan Pittman is the News Editor for Eugene Weekly.
While Portland and other cities are putting forward innovative bike and transit friendly transportation projects for a $1.5-billion pot of flexible, green-oriented federal stimulus funds, Eugene only wants yet more roads.
One $38-million project would saturate the city with bike lanes and separated trails to serve as a national model of green transportation to fight global warming and increase livability. Here's a draft map:
Another $17 million grant application would build a bike trail from Portland to the foothills of Mt. Hood, allowing city-dwellers non-motorized access to the scenic area. The rest of the money would fund improved pedestrian and bike access to light rail stations.
Other cities have also put together innovative green transportation proposals for the rare pot of non-freeway centered federal transportation money. For example, Kansas City wants a trolley and Washington, D.C. a bike sharing program.
But in Eugene/Springfield the focus is on more road construction, according to a memo from the local LCOG planning agency. The city of Eugene wants to reconstruct Highway 99 with another turn lane at Roosevelt and added driveways and resurface 5th Avenue and add a roundabout to accommodate industrial truck traffic in west Eugene. Springfield wants to widen Franklin into a boulevard concept that will include EmX transit lanes but not lined bike lanes.
Portland Metro spent the summer soliciting ideas in a public process to come up with its green list. But LCOG's dirtier, non-innovative transportation stimulus ideas apparently came solely from secret meetings within the undemocratic agency's unelected bureaucracy.
Long dreamed local green transportation projects that didn't make LCOG's dirty list include:
- A river bike path and bridge all the way to Mt. Pisgah.
- A trolley down Willamette Street.
- Bike lanes, wide sidewalks, trees and pedestrian crossings on south Willamette Street.
- Extending the riverfront bike path through Glenwood.
- A bike bridge over Beltline to Chad Drive.
- A separated cycletrack (bike path) down High Street connecting the Amazon trail to the riverfront trail.
- A dramatic expansion of Eugene's bike lane system.
- Funding to accelerate the buildout of the EmX system into west and north Eugene.
If you missed the Duck game, here's the highlight (or lowlight):
The city of Eugene is planning to spend $16 million to move its police to a new headquarters across the river from most crime.
Here's a map from a website the police department uses to map their crime data. The map shows violent crimes since March. The blue arrow depicts where the police headquarters is now (red dot) and where City Manager Jon Ruiz is planning to move it.
Looks like former Mayor Jim Torrey did a commercial on KVAL:
Maybe progressives were right that he was deaf to their concerns. It could be worse. Here's a commercial by another has been Republican:
Pete Kerns (left) Roger MagaÃ±a (right)
Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz named department veteran Pete Kerns as Eugene's police chief.
At a 1:30 pm press conference Ruiz called Kerns "a person of strong integrity."
But Kerns allegedly failed to act on a complaint that a fellow officer was sexually abusing women in the worst scandal in Eugene police history. Roger MagaÃ±a was sentenced to 94 years in prison in 2004 for using his police power to rape, sexually abuse, assault and/or harass a dozen women over six years as a Eugene police officer. At MagaÃ±aâ€™s criminal trial, one of his victims alleged under oath that she told Kerns and two other EPD officers about the sex abuse, but Kerns and the other officers did nothing.
Asked about the testimony, Kerns stepped away from the microphone and stood behind Ruiz. Ruiz said that they would not answer the question. â€œWeâ€™re trying to move forward.â€
After the press conference, Kerns said, â€œIâ€™m not going to answer the question.â€
The city of Eugene drew harsh criticism for failing to investigate or discipline fellow officers for failing to act to stop MagaÃ±aâ€™s rape crime wave despite years of complaints. The city paid $5 million to settle victimâ€™s lawsuits.
Kerns praised his fellow Eugene police officers as â€œsome of the finest people Iâ€™ve known.â€
The 12-lane freeway bridge urban sprawl proponents are pushing in Portland isn't in Eugene, but the $4-billion project threatens to suck all the transportation funding out of the entire state and local Congressman Peter DeFazio could play a key role in killing it.
Columbia River Crossing (CRC) opponents have produced a series of clear, quick videos on the freeway project. Here's an overview:
Here's an explanation of how the $4-billion expenditure will just create more sprawl, traffic, unlivable neighborhoods and global warming pollution:
Here's a look at greener, cheaper alternatives:
So how does DeFazio fit in to all this? DeFazio chairs a powerful House transportation subcommittee that may be key to funding the huge freeway bridge. A careful politician, DeFazio hasn't explicitly opposed a project that the state's powerful development and construction industries (and their unions) are backing. But DeFazio told Willamette Week this spring:
"I have said from Day One, they should think small. And they have been thinking really big and really expensive. And I am not sure how that project moves forward and how they will fund it. I have raised concerns throughout the processâ€”keep the price down. You can't solve all your problems with one project."
The folks in Portland have less pull with DeFazio than his constituents here who can tell their representative what they think online.
An anti-logging protester has filed an intent to sue the city, alleging police falsely arrested, jailed and injured him and violated his free speech rights.
According to a press release, Josh Schlossberg and his attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil liberties Defense Center, filed a tort claim notice this month regarding the March 13, 2009 incident.
The press release says Schlossberg was legally distributing brochures from a public sidewalk in front of Umpqua Bank in downtown Eugene. Schlossberg was informing bank customers of the "irresponsible logging and harmful pesticide practices" of Umpqua's chairman of the board, Allyn Ford.
The press release alleges that EPD officer Bill Solesbee unlawfully ordered Schlossberg to leave the sidewalk and give him his video camera. When he refused the press release alleges, "Solesbee charged Schlossberg, wrenched his arm behind his back, forced him to the ground where Schlossberg hit his head, and proceeded to place a knee on Schlossberg's previously injured neck, while handcuffing and arresting him."
The press release says Schlossberg filed a complaint with the police, but the Chief dismissed it.
The case is one of several recent incidents in which sidewalk protesters have alleged that police violated their free speech rights. Ian Van Ornum alleged Solesbee and other officers used excessive force at an anti-pesticide protest last spring. Video showed police Tasered Van Ornum twice in the back as he lay face down on the sidewalk with one or both arms behind his back.
In another recent incident, an officer arrested a man for leafleting outside a church. The unlawful charges were later dropped and the officer reprimanded.
"By utilizing a militarized presence, heavy-handed tactics, Tasers, and unjustifiable arrests against nonviolent citizens, law enforcement is attempting to scare people into silence and apathy," Regan states. "This case will determine whether the citizens of Eugene still have the constitutional right to lawfully convey thoughts and ideas to their fellow citizens in public forums-a quintessential principle of our democracy."
The City of Eugene plans to use border collies to chase Canada geese out of cement ponds in Alton Baker Park, according to a press release.
The city says it will also relocate the domestic white geese in the pond to an undisclosed, "more suitable habitat." The press release states: "Waterfowl management activities practiced by the City of Eugene will follow protocols approved by the Humane Society."
The overpopulation of geese in the ponds have become dependent on food handouts, causing health problems for the animals and, through their poop, pollution and potential health risks to humans, according to the city.
The city also plans to remove concrete on the river side of the pond and put in native plants.
Here's a city picture of a Canada goose with "angel wing" disease, caused by eating too much bread: