Monday, January 18, 2021

1921 Legislative Session Starts with Idolatry for Pioneers, Animus for Japanese

The 1921 Legislative Session started 100 years ago and the afternoon paper led with some humor.

Senator LaFollette Wakes Ups

State Senator Alec LaFollette, in his 70s and a member of the extended family of "Fighting" Bob LaFolette of Wisconsin, though considerably more conservative, was apparently a little notorious for nodding off in his later years. (He died in 1927.)

Full strip opens Legislative coverage
January 17th, 1921

But the underlying mood was considerably less humorous, nothing like any exuberant "roaring 20s," but defensive and nativist.

In his opening address to the Legislature, Governor Olcott called for legislation against Japanese residents and immigrants. "Keep Oregon's Pioneer Blood Pure," ran the subhead, and Olcott is directly quoted saying, "Here in Oregon the pioneer blood flows purely and in more undiluted stream than in any other state of the union."

Nativism, January 11th, 1921

The papers are full of nativist sentiment.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

City Council, January 19th - Strategic Plan

Council convenes on Tuesday with the holiday for a formal Work Session on the Strategic Plan and its activities for 2021.

Six main areas for action

It remains hard to comment on the plan process in any detail at this moment. The Pandemic's exigencies just swamp everything still. And if there had been any uncertainty, now the threat from fascism and white supremacy must be clear. In fundamental ways Council has to be reactive and less strategic, and what is there really to comment on in that?

Transportation and climate

In areas of particular interest here, transportation and climate, the concepts for "year one" are not very detailed. The Climate Action Plan and by Our Salem will drive them, and as a separate process the Strategic Plan can just follow and execute on those other two big processes and plans.

Maybe you will have other thoughts and want to advocate for some particular thing, but it has seemed here that emphasizing Our Salem and the Climate Action Plan was much more important than drilling into this Strategic Plan and advocating for some new initiatives.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

City Publishes Slightly Different Take on Emissions

Last week the City and consultant team published a new pass at a greenhouse gas inventory.

Summary on a consumption-based GHG
It's still the cars

Nearly two years ago, the City published a "sector-based" analysis, and this is a "consumption-based" analysis.

The City's release is hard to parse. 

While it is a fine thing to keep iterating and improving our understanding of emissions as technical matters, the big picture with this new analysis is essentially unchanged. On this new analysis transportation is still the biggest source of emissions. If we thought that a different analysis was going to give us a pass on driving, we were wrong. 

It's not clear why this new analysis was necessary at this point in the process. Differing analyses might help us make decisions on the margins, or prioritize details. But different analyses aren't going to change anything in the big picture and larger strategy.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Pringle Creek Path Grant Application Shows Boise Project Heading Toward Completion

If you've been wondering about that $15 Bicycle Excise Tax, the City of Salem is going to apply for a grant to bring some of it back.

Plan view of the path

On Thursday the 14th the Parks and Recreation Board convenes and they'll be hearing about the City's application for a Community Paths Program grant to fund the path connection between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park along the creek inside the former Boise property.

Staff Report to SPRAB (in the meeting packet)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

City Launches New Round of Climate Brainstorming

In the face of our great national crisis, it has been anodyne this weekend to register a couple of details on our Climate Action Plan.

Bob Cortright in today's paper

Community Advocate Bob Cortright has a short piece on Our Salem in the paper.

And the City and consultant team appears to have executed a little bit of a course-correction, jumping a climate plan activity farther up in the queue.

New digital sticky note project

Over the weekend the City and consultant team launched a digital sticky note project to collect ideas on greenhouse gas reduction. By name, it appears to be something that had been planned for the Spring and may have been moved up and bumped the "vulnerability assessment," which is our current phase.

By itself this doesn't cure the deficiencies we've seen with the planning process so far, but it's a move in the right direction. 

It is, in fact, what should have kicked off the first round of brainstorming instead of the "Envisioning a Resilient Salem" sticky note project.

The consultant team could break it down more specifically: We need to reduce driving by 25%  (or 50%), what specific things would help you drive less? Questions that are too general may not capture the magnitude of change that is necessary. If we need to reduce VMT very significantly, is allowing people to get sidetracked on reducing idling at intersections and drive-thrus at all constructive?

It's never been clear that the messaging and rhetoric is focused on the right substance and scale, and focused to appeal to the right people.

The reception of rhetoric and hopes for resulting persuasion are important to think about.

If there is one thing our crisis has made clear, it's that criticism on climate is not always offered in good faith. Advocates have known this, but the media sometimes over-commits to a both-sides frame, and maybe we can correct some of this now.

Thursday's New York Times

Wednesday was a big day, an historic day of infamy. 

Now that the revolutionary aims of the reactionary right are more clear, it might be time to go back and revise our understanding of the Cap and Trade protests here.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

City Council, January 11th - Cemetery Path Again

The new Council, including three new Councilors, will be sworn in at the first meeting of the year on Monday the 11th. The long-simmering debate over a path connecting the Candalaria and Fairmount neighborhoods through the cemetery block will take another round.

I'm not sure there's anything very new to say on the prospect of a path connection through the cemeteries. It is difficult. There are matters to resolve, and it will take a negotiated agreement that addresses a path, cemetery security, enhanced historical interpretation, as well as funding, and it seems highly unlikely that Council will be able to resolve anything on Monday. The best that can be hoped for is to continue conversation and exploration of common ground. No unilateral decision is likely to work. 

At the same time, some criticism of the prospect of a connection is unfounded or unwarranted.

Fear & Risk in Proper Perspective

At least in 2020, there was more harm to cemetery monuments from trees than from human vandalism.

Damage from tree removal in August

More damage from a different tree in December

The Friends of Pioneer Cemetery doubtless feel beleaguered and there is a good reason for this. The City has underinvested in the IOOF Pioneer cemetery, off-loading basic maintenance and caretaking to volunteers. Volunteers have to do too much.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Early Winter Round-up at the MPO

After taking off most of the Fall, the Technical Advisory Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, meets again on Tuesday the 12th. There are no big action items of interest here, but some other things, including some preliminary kinds of things, might be worth a short note.

The most interesting item is comment on a "regional safety plan," a proposal and then development I missed late last year.

Writing a new safety plan (October minutes)

They met separately on the 6th and are still in the early phases of figuring out what exactly they are going to do.

But considering the initiative is organized and hosted at the MPO, it is surprising that Safe Routes to Schools, which is embedded at the MPO now, is not represented formally on the committee. The committee membership, in fact, seems weighted with an autoist bias, and they may understand safety as primarily safety for people in cars, and not give enough attention to safety for those not inside of cars. They will say, of course, that they value people walking and rolling, but they may understand safety as more a matter of enforcement for jaywalking and less a matter of slower speeds on every urban street. Congestion Relief may still be too much of a dominant frame in this group.

Membership and agenda for January 6th

The committee's work will be something to watch in 2021.