The Sept. 10 recall of a pair of state senators who spearheaded passage of stricter gun regulations in Colorado earlier this year is being widely interpreted as a win for gun rights and a defeat for gun control. Dudley Brown, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, declared the election a “plebiscite on guns,” adding, “Unless you are in New York City or downtown Chicago, the message is: You are going to pay a steep price for voting for gun control.”
Maybe. Or maybe not.
Viewing the Colorado recall as a proxy vote on national gun control legislation could be a stretch…
The Register Guard editorial, Sept. 21, 2013
Lane Solutions Replies and Leave Your Comments…
One thing you know: When they say it’s not about the money – It’s about the money. When they say it’s not about the sex, it’s sure as shootin’ about the sex. And when they say it’s not about gun control – well, you get the picture.
So – What was it about? Take your pick from the RG menu: Was it about: 1) Confusion due to the lack of mail-in ballots? 2) Legalizing pot? 3) 5th & 14th Amendment guarantees of due process? 4) Instate tuition for illegal immigrants?
Heck, maybe it was really about Pres. McKinley’s assassination, Hurricane Katrina, or life on Mars!
The RG also reported that noted gun control advocate New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $350,000 toward beating the recall and the NRA supported the recall to the tune of $361,000. Ever seen the NRA toss $361,000 after tuition or marijuana issues? We didn’t think so.
In the words of the The Register Guard, the recall was “…of a pair of state senators who spearheaded passage of stricter gun regulations in Colorado…” Could that possibly be what it was about?
So, what was the recall about? To paraphrase that great philosopher Groucho Marx, “Who ya gonna believe, readers – The Register Guard, or your lyin’ eyes?”
Do you think it is a good idea to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development unchecked power to put an apartment building in your neighborhood? HUD has proposed a new rule that could do just that.
In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like…
HUD and Westchester are battling over local zoning that arose from a 2009 settlement (signed by my predecessor) to build 750 affordable-housing units in 31 mostly white communities. Westchester is well ahead of schedule in meeting these obligations. Almost 400 units have financing and 124 are already occupied. But HUD isn’t satisfied because it wants to control local zoning and remake communities.
– Robert F. Astorino, The Wall Street Journal
Lane Solutions Replies
So – HUD knows exactly what 1,200 communities should like. And Westchester County, NY, should look just like the other 1,199. And if it doesn’t, HUD, in its bureaucratic wisdom, will withhold $17 million that it had promised to the County to build new sidewalks, playgrounds, and other good stuff in poor communities.
What’s that you say? Westchester is already the fourth most diverse county in New York in terms of Blacks and Hispanics? HUD’s federal monitor found no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on race or ethnicity? HUD doesn’t know what its new rule will cost or if it will work? Why does it matter to Lane County what happens in New York?
It matters because if the Feds can “…dismantle local zoning rules” in Westchester they can do it (and more) in Eugene. Or Creswell.
It matters because if you take money from Washington it can tell you what to do with it. And it can take money from you.
It matters because the Feds think they’re smarter than you. This is rule #1 of Liberalism (oops, we meant “Progressivism”). So they can tell you who should be able to build what next to your house.
Oh, and did we mention that complying with HUD’s new rules will cost Westchester between $3 and $9 million? What could it cost in Eugene?
$580,000 Bike Boondoggle Coming Soon?
A draft study is encouraging public agencies and area businesses to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost the number of bike racks and lockers in the Eugene-Springfield area to help support and increase two-wheeled ridership over the next decade and beyond.
The Regional Bike Parking Study, set to be finalized later this month after three years of work, concludes that such facilities are needed in the two cities’ downtowns, at transit stations and at more than a dozen shopping centers, major employers and civic venues…
The government-funded $100,000 study reaches those conclusions even as its data, while limited, showed the existing supply of bike parking exceeding the use in some of the studied areas…
The study estimates it would cost nearly $342,000 for materials and labor to add recommended bike parking spaces to 100 blocks in downtown Eugene and Springfield…
The study estimated it would cost about $238,000 to install 30 new and retrofitted bike lockers at some LTD transit stations, as well as secure cages at the stations in downtown Eugene and the Amazon neighborhood…
The study also examined the bike parking needs at 14 “activity centers,” such as the Hult Center, Oakway Center, Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend and the Royal Caribbean office in Springfield, but didn’t provide cost estimates.
Even though the study recommended adding more bike parking spots at these centers, the data appeared to indicate the supply exceeds demand. The study counted 509 spots at the 14 locations, but recommended nearly doubling that number — even though only 55 spots were being used at the time of the survey…
Maffei (who lead the study) said the inventory was taken on Oct. 16 and 17, and there wasn’t enough money to perform more than a single count in a given study area…
Duncan Rhodes, a member of the Greater Eugene Area Riders Cycling Club, or GEARs, who served on the committee, said quite a few local spots could use more bike parking.
“Until you build something, you will never know if it will be used or not,” he said…
– Christian Hill, The Register Guard
Lane Solutions Responds –
“A $100,000 study recommends spending $580,000 to add thousands of spots” (Register Guard print edition).
Several elements of this study jumped out at us, nearly causing us to bang our helmeted heads on the potted pavement as we toppled off our sustainable, green, locally produced bikes.
First, they figured need for additional bike facilities by counting actual bike rack use just once. Think it might vary by time of day and month?
Then there’s the fallacy of adding hundreds of bike racks at five “activity centers” when “supply exceeds demand.” Failing to estimate costs for this only makes it worse.
Third, at six locations they counted 44 of 355 bike racks being used and concluded that we need 727 additional racks.
It’s a perfect example of government imposing its social engineering fantasies on citizens and wasting buckets of bucks turning them into an unwelcome reality.
Here, local wizards, lashing themselves to the mast of urban density and “green” transportation, decided that even if current racks aren’t being used, what we need is more. So they tossed $100,000 after their obsession and may throw another $580,000 into the same sump hole.
Oh, well, “Until you build something, you will never know if it will be used or not.”
Washington Candidate Wants $15/Hr. Minimum Wage
Those in Oregon who are tired of hearing about how much better Washington’s business climate is have reason to watch the November election results in Seattle.
Several of the candidates are at least talking about the possibility of raising the minimum wage in the city, even though Washington already has the highest rate in the nation. And at least one City Council candidate — Socialist Kshama Sawant, who finished second in the May primary to qualify for the November ballot — is campaigning hard for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
– The Oregonian Editorial Board, August 25, 2013
Lane Solutions Responds
We say “Go for it! Why not $30/hr? Do we hear $40?”
We applaud our neighbors to the north’s attaempt to give Oregon a more competitive business environment! And if you’re joining us, keep it a secret that labor is, like anything else anyone buys, a commodity subject to a basic economic principle: lower the price – demand increases. Raise it – demand goes down.
Keep it between us that when the minimum wage goes up a McDonalds that could only afford the cheapest, least experienced labor (teenagers) can now afford to fire them and hire experienced workers.
If you keep these secrets, our buddies up north will keep their big, dark secret about why they really like minimum wage hikes. No, it’s not love of the “Little Guy.” It’s because a lot of union wage contracts are hitched to minimum wages. Raise them and union workers get automatic salary bumps.
Here’s what Socialist Sawant will never, ever tell you: When Washington, D.C. passed a minimum wage law in 1938, hotels immediately fired dozens of (probably black) maids and other low skilled laborers.
Now that we think about the consequences for the real “Little Guys,” your humble editors will be governed by their better angels, face north and scream “Stop! Do you really know what you’re doing?”
What Happens When You Try to Help and Just Make the Problem Worse?
People defecating on the public Park Blocks in downtown Eugene, the site of the popular Saturday Market, has led the city to indefinitely cordon off two areas.
During the past week, several piles of human feces were found on a lawn and a landscaped area on the east Park Block, at Eighth Avenue and Oak Street, said Jeff Perry, the city’s facilities director.
People also had urinated there, creating potential health hazards, he said.
The Register Guard, August 24, 2013
Compassion’s an admirable human emotion – it tells us to respond to suffering and help when we can.
But compassion is still an emotion, like anger or sorrow. Left unchecked it runs away with us, making us do things that actually bring on harm.
Moral hazard occurs when our attempts to do good create incentives that encourage people to engage in destructive behavior.
Could we be witnessing moral hazard as a result of knee jerk compassion as we try to give transients a place to sleep in Eugene? Are we encouraging destructive behavior? We think it’s worth considering.
By designating a “safe” camping ground downtown we’ve made it easy for transients to (you guessed it) camp downtown. This will result in more campers because it’s convenient and safe. Making it easier to leave home and camp will inevitably draw in those who sort of wanted to camp but didn’t know where.
The result? More people who have to use a bathroom, resulting in a health hazard to Saturday Market vendors and customers.
We’re not taking sides here. But we are asking Eugene and Lane County officials to consider the probable results of what they see as compassion.
By Jay Bozieviech
As a vocal supporter of Lane County’s successful public safety levy, I was encouraged to see so many citizens step up to support our local law enforcement and help keep violent offenders in jail.
However, as I testified to the Oregon House of Representatives, the levy doesn’t offer a permanent solution for stable revenues for essential services, nor does it assure a stronger economy in the future.
While voters approved an important but temporary lifeline for public safety programs, it is critical for Congress to provide a comprehensive solution that resolves the annual uncertainty of county timber payments.
I am hopeful that Congress will continue to work on solutions that restore active management to our Federal forestlands, including the unique O&C lands that, in the past, created jobs and a thriving economy for communities and reliable funding for county governments.
The Federal O&C Act of 1937 specifically set aside 2.4 million acres of these Federally-owned forest lands for the economic benefit of 18 Western Oregon counties. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has failed to keep its promise to O&C counties, and litigation and conflicting regulations have only made the situation worse.
When timber was still being harvested on O&C lands Lane County alone received around $17 million annually. In today’s dollars, this equates to about $30 million per year. To put this in perspective, the recently passed public safety levy will generate less than half that revenue without adding significantly to jobs. The levy, while desperately needed, is only a “Band-Aid” fix to a serious and long-term problem.
Rural Lane County citizens cannot afford to fund public safety without some change in a rural economy devastated by the lack of federal forest management. One result of this devastation is that 80% of students in Mapleton and Oakridge school districts are on free or reduced lunch programs. Poverty and unemployment consume government and rural communities’ resources without adding jobs that could pay to fund essential services.
Lane County has a large population base, a diversified economy and other attributes such as a world-class university. Other O&C counties are not so lucky. Many of these rural communities once thrived with vibrant timber-based economies, but now suffer from higher unemployment and higher poverty levels.
It’s easy to scorn the voters in other counties who recently rejected public safety levies, but criticism of these Oregonians reveals ignorance of the serious challenges of funding services where many people don’t have jobs and can’t afford higher taxes. Though Lane County voters approved the levy, I believe it is wrong to single out and penalize counties that are not as prosperous as we are.
It is a grave mistake to ignore the importance of renewable natural resources that exist in our O&C forests. Sustainable management of these resources will benefit both our economy and local governments. It is heartening that members of Oregon’s Federal delegation understand this and that our Governor is also advocating for changes in Federal policy. It’s great to see they are willing to cross party lines to find a permanent solution.
While the bipartisan Walden/Schrader/DeFazio “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act” remains on the table, we have also seen Sen. Ron Wyden release a “framework” of possible legislation.
I hope our delegation continues to work together on a bill that helps rural communities across all O&C counties. I believe we have a solution that protects environmentally sensitive lands while allowing more timber harvesting where it is environmentally sustainable. Thanks to an existing Federal law prohibiting the export of raw logs from Federal lands, wood products from O&C lands would be processed and milled by workers here at home, thus creating jobs that pay taxes to fund county services.
By putting people back to work in the woods we can lift more rural communities out of poverty. Creating jobs combined with reliable timber receipts will generate more tax revenues to sustain vital services.
Now that the public safety levy has been approved and Lane County has some short term stability, we need Congress to pass real solutions to help fund these services over the long term.
Jay Bozievich – West Lane County Commissioner
The Sheriff’s Office has been working hard to hire staff and prepare the jail for the July 1 opening of more jail beds.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office (“LCSO”) will bring on new staff and open up more jail beds in two phases, culminating in the reopening of 131 more jail beds by July 8, 2013 – all in the name of making Lane County a safer place to live. Housing areas of the jail that had been collecting dust are being cleaned and refurbished to hold inmates once again.
To keep all of the costs down we have been using inmate workers to complete much of the work. They are cleaning and painting the cells as well as re-grouting the showers in the housing areas that are being reopened. 14 previously laid off LCSO Deputy Sheriffs have accepted recall notices and will return to employment with LCSO. These are positions that were vacant and can be immediately filled and put to use.
We will fill the remaining 32 Deputy positions during a second recruiting campaign. These will be directly paid for with the levy money. In the near future we will be recruiting and filling the remaining 6.5 positions that make up the rest of the positions which will be paid for with the levy.
The Sheriff’s Office is working hard to get the jail beds reopened as soon as possible so the community can begin to feel some relief from the daily capacity based releases that we have all endured for far too long. The planning began well before the levy passed in hopes that it indeed would; now this preplanning is paying off by accelerating our opening of the additional beds.
While the reopened beds won’t eliminate the early releases, they will allow the jail to hold more violent offenders rather than releasing them into the community. Anyone interested in employment opportunities within the Lane County Sheriff’s Office should visit http://jobs.lanecounty.org
I am excited about the progress so far and I have you, Lane County citizens, to thank for this opportunity. We are working on the annual audit of all expenditures of levy funds and I hope the information will be available soon so citizens can track how their money is being spent and ensure that it is spent exactly as you intended. The actual audit is relatively simple, but making the information it generates available on an ongoing basis is what I’m hoping for. It is also important to mention that the money is “carryover” money, so it cannot ever be used for a different purpose. If there is money left at the end of the five years we can continue using it for public safety until it is exhausted.
I plan to provide regular progress reports to the public on our use of the levy funds and to keep up a very robust public meeting schedule to continue to keep the Sheriff’s Office and our progress on everyone’s mind!
From all of us who work in your Sheriff’s Office to keep you safe -Thanks again to all of you who helped make this happen.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a question or issue.
Tom Turner – Lane County Sheriff
By Rep. Kevin Cameron (R-Salem)
There have been nearly 50 bills introduced that address, in some way, the PERS issue. So far, there has been no substantial legislation that has received a hearing. I am co-sponsoring the below four bills that were introduced by Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).
HB 3056 would limit the computation of “final average salary” to salary, rather than including unused sick time and vacation accruals.
HB 3057 would limit the COLA for PERS benefits to the first $36,000 of retirement income.
HB 3058 phases out the ability of employers to “pick-up” the employee’s 6% contribution into retirement accounts by 2020.
HB 3059 ends the practice of providing a supplemental benefit payment to offset income taxes for those who are not subject to Oregon income taxes.
It is my understanding that estimates of savings after instituting these reforms would be over $700 million per biennium. These alterations to the current process are important steps in the right direction to put PERS on sustainable footing for the future.
This is not a conversation about the worthiness of our public employees. It is a conversation about the absolute proven unsustainability of this retirement system. These bills deserve the opportunity to be heard, at the very least, in order to begin meaningful dialogue about how we are going to address this important issue in our state. The impact that it is having to our school districts and local government budgets is devastating and hurting our kids, our seniors, our social service agencies, and public safety. We must do better.
Reprinted with permission from Oregon Catalyst
By Suzanne Penegor
Gun control is a debate that is bipartisan in the sense that there are Democrats and Republicans who care about the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms. The National Rifle Association includes women and men of all ages and all political persuasions. It is a constitutional right we don’t take lightly.
So when recent mass shootings bring the subject up again, once more we are asked to give up our right to bear arms to protect ourselves from criminals or maybe from a tyrannical government.
The gun control debate has caused a boom in gun sales as Americans are concerned about Federal legislation that the Obama Administration is considering to restrict gun ownership. While the discussion of whether to again ban the sale of assault weapons will or will not make our country safer rages, we should also take a less simplistic look at why there are so many mass shootings.
Taking a broader look might include these questions: could there be economic factors related to the poor economy behind the shootings? Should we be looking at restoring funding for public mental health facilities? In our area we are still waiting for the Junction City mental health facility to open and, besides providing treatment, create local jobs in a tough economy. The addition of this facility would address both the mental health and economic issues noted above.
Thanks to cuts in public safety spending and early release of jailed criminals, county sheriffs are telling rural residents they may not be able to respond in a timely manner if they are victims of crimes. In response to this women are seeking concealed weapons permits.
Criminals will always get illegal guns. The young man who went on the rampage last year at the Clackamas Mall in Portland stole his gun from a friend. He did not go out and obtain it legally and he was not subjected to a legal background check.
Gun control, as it is often proposed, is a knee jerk reaction to a more complex problem. We should be looking at this bigger picture.
We should be entitled to defend ourselves as our forefathers intended when they created the Second Amendment – not only to protect ourselves against criminals in tough economic times, but also to protect our freedoms from a tyrannical government. We should have a Federal task force study the complex reasons that there have been more school shootings and mass shootings in the last 20 years. Blaming honest, law abiding gun owners won’t fix this important social problem.
Suzanne Penegor is an Oregon native, graduate of the U of O and a former local business owner
By Sean VanGordon
Springfield is a very practical city. We pride ourselves on our open for business and can-do attitudes. Former Mayor Sid Leiken called it “The Springfield Way”. However, Springfield still faces challenges and economic hardship. But, even as we confront a budget shortfall, the discussion around city hall is, fortunately, focused on what we can do as opposed to what we can’t. Because of our attitude and this focus, Springfield has significant opportunities in both economic development and innovation.
Springfield’s economic development program is centered around downtown, Glenwood, and Gateway districts. In 2012 Springfield supported economic development by renewing a public safety levy, which makes downtown as well as the wider city itself safer.
The Sprout Food Hub, Planktown Brewery, and the Washburne Cafe are some of the businesses that have created a food culture in the city. Downtown has also seen the opening of a new charter school and numerous second-hand stores. Downtown’s success is a result of hard work that volunteers, businesses, non-profits, and the city have performed.
We are creating a downtown where you can enjoy eating and shopping. We now have an inviting downtown where it is safe to take your family to dinner or open a new business.
In addition, there has been significant progress in Glenwood. And the Gateway District continues to be the largest employment area in the city.
In sum, we continue to make city-wide progress in economic development.
Innovation – The Springfield Way
Springfield has a long history of innovation and creativity in city services.
As a mid-size city, we offer creative, innovative services that save taxpayers money and support healthy, growing businesses. For instance, the merger of the Springfield and Eugene Fire Departments was a good example of improving city services while saving money through innovation.
As a result of our creative thinking and dedication to improving services while zealously guarding taxpayers’ money, Springfield is now a finalist for the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge. Plus, it’s the smallest city in the final 20. The competition is for a five million dollar award to provide innovative services. Springfield’s entry was a proposal for a mobile health care program. By utilizing sophisticated technology, this program can lower the cost of emergency medical responses even as it relieves pressures on Lane County Ambulance Services, thus saving both tax dollars and taxpayers’ money.
Economic development and innovation are and will continue to be key areas of focus for Springfield.
Springfield continues to create both attractive business opportunities and an ever increasing quality of life for its citizens because we think creatively and work hard to convert our dreams to reality. Our vibrant community is focused on accomplishments and dedicated to improving every aspect of city life.
Sean VanGordon is a Springfield City Councilor representing Ward 1