Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday State News Whiparound: Is Carla Home Yet?

[Monday, I think...]
Time to traverse the Cascades and run the mighty rivers of the Beaver State, as we do each Sunday seeking news from far and wide across Oregon...

  • Think Portland's the only town with divisive battles over downtown planning? Think again, Multnocentrics! In Ashland they got fed up and decided to do nothing for another year. In a tie broken by the Mayor, the pricetag of just thinking about it--around $600,000 for a full plan--proved too great a cost. RGood result? Depends on who you ask. The business community looks happy:
    "I don't think the situation is as desperate as some people are saying," [Councilman and local restauranteur] Alex Amarotico said. "I'd love to have a new car this year but my old one is still working. If I put it off another year, everything will still be OK."
    Unsurprisingly, the developers are bummed:
    "Basically, as far as I'm concerned the council is disabled," [developer John Fields] said. "Everybody is fighting about the details and nothing is getting done...I don't know who Ashland is. It's a big mess."

  • William LaForce is looking forward to getting his diploma like every upcoming graduate of Douglas County's Newport High. Don't expect him to show up at many of the graduation parties, however; curfew's pretty early for 71 year olds. Having dropped out to join the Korean War for the Navy, LaForce is just now using his military and work experience (as an air traffic controller) to qualify for his diploma, to go with his GED earned earlier. Make It Home Alive, William--no, seriously: make it home alive, buddy.

  • The much needed wave of change is happening at La Grande High July 1st; the school will purge itself of junk food and soda, as part of a national effort to rid schools of crappy food and promote wellness. Other districts around the state and country will follow, in the wake of the agreement reached with soda companies to end their lucrative contracts with districts nationwide. (Some state districts like Lake Oswego's, with schools who do their own vending negotiations and already monitor the junk levels in their machines, may see little change.) Unfortunately, there really is no choice anymore in the matter. The radical rise in childhood obesity and early onset of Type II diabetes has mandated this approach. But it's great to see it happening, especially after efforts in Oregon to legislate it failed last year under lobbying pressure and weak-kneed legislators.

  • Think Portland is the only town to have traffic snarled by Critical Massers? Be ashamed, you arrogant Gard and Gerberites! In Eugene, perhaps the only town more ideologically militant on all sides in the state, the police and the riders are struggling to find the relatively happy medium achieved by Portland and other larger cities with Critical Mass rides. Right now Eugene's Finest are in "Show up in force and give out tickets for any kind of BS violation" mode. Eventually they'll figure out that doesn't work, and just try to keep everything moving along, so that any one person's inconvenience by the First Amendment is as fleeting as possible. And since you don't often see the origin of the name, here it is:
    The term was coined by riders in the early 1990s who learned how cyclists in China were able to get through Beijing's busy intersections only when enough of them had massed together to command the attention of motorists.

  • If you have mountains or steep coastlines and try to put roads through them, realize that they will sometimes be closed--from snow, mud, or rocks. Last week a major interstate closure near Hood River was finally reopened, and this week from Port Orford the happy news that Hwy 101 will reopen by Memorial Day {pdf} just south of town (milepost 303, to be exact). Considering that 101 is the main drag through the middle of town, I'm sure folks are excited.

  • Finally, in honor of primary week, an editorial about hometown boy Ron Saxton, from the Albany Democrat-Herald. Ron's dad was a prominent politician in town, described as a "progressive Republican," using as an example his successful effort to get cigarette machines banned from places near children. Too bad they died out--progressive Republicans I mean, not cigarettes...or children. The editor, a near-40-year veteran of the Albany political scene, doles out the anecdotes and comes to the conclusion that the son will be as good for Oregon as the father was for Albany. Despite the editor's obviously advancing senility, it's a nice slice of political homily.

Have a great week!