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Monday, September 29, 2014

Should the City add ANOTHER developer to our Planning Commission?

The CANDO neighborhood association chair does us all a service laying out the issue as concisely and clearly as possible.  

May all citizens and other neighborhoods join with this sentiment and fend off this destructive, unnecessary proposal that should be called "How to load the dice even further in favor of the sprawl builders trying to bankrupt Salem to line their own pockets."

Subject: FW: Public Hearing Notice - Case No. CA14-06 -proposed amendment to SRC Chapter 6 to amend certain Planning Commission membership requirements
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2014 10:49:43 -0700


    I'm forwarding this to you for possible action by the CANDO Board by October 7.

    This is a notice of public hearing on proposed amendments to the Salem Revised Code that would increase from one to two the number of members of the city's 7 member Planning Commission of who are engaged in real estate sales or development.  The amendment also would increase from 
one to two the number of members of the Commission who are engaged in the same trade, business or profession.

    The notice does not identify ANY problem that these proposed amendments would resolve.  The stated reason for the change is that a state statute permits up to two members of the same profession on a city planning commission and most other cities the size Salem allow two, but, Salem restricts it to one.  In other words, Salem's current code complies with state law.  Here's what the applicable state statute says:   

227.030 Membership. (1) Not more than two members of a city planning commission may be city officers, who shall serve as ex officio nonvoting members.
      (2) A member of such a commission may be removed by the appointing authority, after hearing, for misconduct or nonperformance of duty.
      (3) Any vacancy in such a commission shall be filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired term of the predecessor in the office.
      (4) No more than two voting members of the commission may engage principally in the buying, selling or developing of real estate for profit as individuals, or be members of any partnership, or officers or employees of any corporation, that engages principally in the buying, selling or developing of real estate for profit. No more than two members shall be engaged in the same kind of occupation, business, trade or profession.

The Planning Commission has broad powers, and diversity of viewpoints is important, particularly on a 7-member Commission.  An increase from one to two of the Commission members who are engaged in the same profession substantially reduces that diversity.  Given that fact, the problem I have with the proposed amendment is -- as I point out above -- there's no identified problem that it seeks to address.   

     The public hearing on the proposed amendment is October 7.   Based solely on the information in this notice, I think that the CANDO Board should take a position in opposition to the proposed amendment.   However, the "staff report" on the proposed amendment has not been issued yet and will come out next week.  I will forward that to you when I get it, and, we can decide then whether to take a position or not. 


The Obvious Relationship Between Climate and Family Planning—and Why We Don’t Talk About

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

We’ll Become ISIS [feedly]

The People's History of the US Military taught me some things, such as how the "scary vet" meme was actually not a Vietnam-era creation, but was present after the Civil War and ever since.

James Howard Kunstler is a writer and critic of some renown. He has written several times about his guess that we are creating a class of discarded men, veterans, who are going to eventually get fed up and put their training to use here at home to secure themselves some status.

This would be easier to dismiss if Dmitry Orlov, who observed the collapse of the USSR and the chaos that followed, didn't make the same warnings.

My guess is that they will shift their attention and activity from the mind-slavery of the current Potemkin economy to the very monster we find ourselves fighting overseas: a domestic ISIS-style explosion of wrath wrapped in an extreme ideology of one kind or another replete with savagery and vengeance-seeking. The most dangerous thing that any society can do is invalidate young men. When the explosion of youthful male wrath occurs in the USA, it will come along at exactly the same time as all the other benchmarks of order become unmoored — especially the ones in money and politics — which will shatter the faith of the non-young and the non-male, too. Also, just imagine for a moment the numbers of young men America has trained with military skills the past 20 years. Not all of them will be disabled with PTSD, or mollified with rinky-dink jobs at the Wal-Mart, or lost in the transports of heroin and methedrine.

We'll Become ISIS

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another "Don't Miss" at Salem Cinema

Salem Cinema : Salem, Oregon
This is always provocative and memorable, often haunting and beautiful.  A true "world" festival, right here in Salem.  Three days only!  I've enjoyed this every year since it started here in Salem, and it just cements Salem Cinema's status as the best cultural venue in Salem, by a nautical mile.

Salem Cinema : Salem, Oregon

17th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival

SALEM CINEMA has once again been chosen as one of the only Oregon venues to participate in the MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival, one of our most anticipated events each year!

September 28th & 29th at 12:30pm & 7:45pm
September 30th at 7:45pm

at our box office during regular business hours
or online at!

All Seats $9 • no passes, Cinebucks or gift certs accepted for special events

MANHATTAN SHORT is an instantaneous celebration that occurs simultaneously across the globe, bringing great films to great venues and allowing the audiences to select their favorites. If the Film Festival experience truly is about getting great works in front of as many eyes as possible, MANHATTAN SHORT offers the ultimate platform -- one that sees its films screened in Sydney, Mumbai, Moscow, Kathmandu, Vienna, Cape Town to cinemas in all fifty states of the United States and beyond!

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Tax Avgas Like The Poison It Is

Tax Fairness Oregon points out an important reason Salem's Corporate Welfare Playground (aka airport) costs us ordinary folks (who only see private planes on TV) so much money:

Aviation Funding

Unlike highways and roads, airports in Oregon have been relying on public funding rather than user funding for a hunk of the cost of maintenance and improvements. This public funding at the expense of education and human services isn't necessary, because Oregon's aviation fuel taxes are among the lowest in the country. While Oregon road users pay 30 cents a gallon in fuel taxes, Oregon taxes jet fuel at only 1 cent a gallon, and avgas at only 9 cents a gallon. Talk about everyone else supporting the 1%—clearly a fix is in order! 

This doesn't even address the fact that people flying small planes using "avgas" poison you and your kids by spreading a potent, persistent neurotoxin throughout Salem: lead. 

That's right, avgas is still leaded gas. That's the stuff that caused untold billions of dollars of damage and ruined lives by damaging the brainstorm of people who wound up in prison as a result. 

So not only are Salem's businesses and richest folks getting a hugely public-subsidized playground for their toys, they're willing to share one thing with the rest of us whether we want it or not: a crippling toxin that especially damages the human brain in development stages (infants and toddlers)

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mark your calendar for a good cause,10/17, 7:30 p.m.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

"Songs of Civil Disobedience . . . and Hope" : 7:30 pm Friday, October 17,
2014, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church 1444 Liberty Road SE.

The concert is free, donations accepted at the door, with proceeds going to
Congregations Helping People.

The program features local musicians performing songs by
Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Malvina Reynolds, Woodie Guthrie - and
more! Audience will be invited to sing along with many of the songs. Please
join us for a very fun evening of music and community in the Pete Seeger
style and support this important program.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Celebrate the Freedom to Read, Sept 21-28

Banned Books Week is an annual event, observed nationally, that celebrates the right to read.

Anyone who has read “The Hunger Games”, “Gone with the Wind”, “The Great Gatsby”, or even “The Adventures of Captain Underpants”, has read a book that has been challenged or banned at a library or in a classroom somewhere in the United States.

According to the American Library Association’s website, “Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community - librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types - in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

This year’s Banned Books Week takes place September 21-28.

At Salem Public Library, there will be a display of books that have been challenged or banned, booklists, and also an interactive activity designed to test participants’ knowledge of well-known, but sometimes controversial, books. 

Those who can identify any one of six banned books from the evidence presented will be awarded an “I Read Banned Books” pin.  Intrigued?  Stop by the Information desk at Salem Public Library’s Main branch to learn more.

For more information on Banned Books Week visit Salem Public Library’s website at, or call 503-588-6052.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Salem's the place

Assuming, of course, that we can pull our heads out of the sand and start spending on local resiliency and not in a vain effort to resume sprawling and restarting financial bubbles.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

10. On a warmer planet, which cities will be safest?
Alaskans, stay in Alaska. People in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, sit tight. Scientists trying to predict the consequences of climate change say that they see few havens from the storms, floods and droughts that are sure to intensify over the coming decades. But some regions, they add, will fare much better than others... "The answer is the Pacific Northwest, and probably especially west of the Cascades," said Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, a research collaboration of scientists and journalists. "Actually, the strip of coastal land running from Canada down to the Bay Area is probably the best," he added.
New York Times, September 23

Monday, September 22, 2014

The High Cost of Non-Resilient Infrastructure [feedly]

The always excellent Breakfast on Bikes has a good piece on the foolishness of planning for a giant new bridge while ignoring the condition of the existing ones.

Now a good follow up to that below from Next City Daily:

The High Cost of Non-Resilient Infrastructure
// Next City Daily

Manhattan's flooded FDR Drive after Hurricane Sandy (Photo by David Shankbone via Flickr)

Sandy made New Yorkers, and all Americans, painfully aware of the need for more resilient city infrastructure. Resilience has since become a buzzword in planning circles, often understood to mean either robustness (for instance, a substation that's totally flood-proof) or redundancy (multiple microgrids that can operate separately in case of a shock to the system). According to a new report, resilience encompasses both of these qualities, but also many more: flexibility, responsiveness, coordination and learning to live with unavoidable uncertainty and risk.

The report, Toolkit for Resilient Cities, sprang from a desire to broaden how people think about preparing cities for climate impacts, says one of the authors, Stephen Cook, an energy and climate change consultant with Arup in London. "It's not just about flood defenses and raising the barriers," he says. "It's about understanding how infrastructure systems interact with the rest of the city, and how they can together create a resilient city."

Written by researchers from Arup, Siemens and the non-profit Regional Plan Association, the report defines resilience as "[t]he capacity of people, organizations and systems to prepare for, respond, recover from and thrive in the face of hazards, and to adjust to continual change." Its authors note that between 2000 and 2012, natural disasters around the world caused $1.7 trillion in damages. Extreme weather events are happening with more frequency, while the global population (especially in cities) continues to grow. In other words, the problem is only becoming more urgent.

Toolkit for Resilient Cities outlines how cities can enhance the resilience of their infrastructure systems to prepare for the next Sandy (or the next drought, heat wave or blizzard). It focuses on the infrastructure supporting energy, transportation, water and buildings, because this "underpin[s] many other essential city operations and services, including sanitation, emergency response, and the delivery of food, fuel and other materials."

The report's recommendations range from highly specific and technical — moving critical power lines underground, installing leak-detection sensors along pipelines — to broader measures such as integrating resilience practices into planning and construction, and reconciling top-down urban governance with grassroots leadership for effective disaster response.

Changes to the human systems involved in resilience aren't just gloss, Cook says — they're absolutely crucial. Cook and his co-authors emphasize the importance of collaborative governance, farsighted land use policies, sensitive urban design, and extensive data gathering and analysis. "It's not just about infrastructure and technology. Without that enabling framework, putting the other pieces in place, their full potential just won't be realized."

A case study within the report looks at vulnerabilities in New York City's electrical grid and suggests steps that would mitigate the risk to it. Our very understanding of that risk needs to change, too; historically, New York experienced significant flooding about once a century, but climate projections put that closer to once every 15 years in the future. And there are new risks to consider, like tornadoes that have hit the city every year since 2010.

The researchers plot three courses that New York can take with regard to the resilience of the grid. The first is to do nothing, which has a price tag of about $3 billion over 20 years. The second is to increase the grid's robustness by waterproofing substations and equipment, putting power lines underground and other such measures. This would reduce the cost of repairs and emergency response by about $2 billion.

"However, the robustness investments provide only a defensive solution which can at best reduce losses," the authors point out. The third course, "full investment" in smart technologies like distributed generation and strategies like demand reduction, would cost $3 billion to implement. It would not only pay for itself, but deliver an estimated $4 billion of added benefits through energy efficiency and reduced disruption to businesses.

Cook acknowledges there are barriers to cities getting on board with an aggressive plan like this. Many cities are strapped for cash, and it's hard to justify spending money today to solve the problems of tomorrow. Financing infrastructure upgrades remains a major hurdle. But the good news is that the technologies described in the report are developed and proven, not experimental — cities can adopt them today if they choose to.

Take, for example, Co-Op City, a housing development in the Bronx. Its microgrid serves 60,000 residents in 35 buildings. During and after Sandy, it continued to provide heat, electricity and hot water as large sections of the city struggled with a days-long outage. The microgrid required an upfront investment, but it sold surplus power back to the larger grid, and paid for itself within five years.

Now imagine if the microgrid had been "talking" to response teams or feeding power to critical facilities that needed it. Cook thinks we're not far from having this sort of real-time information about a city's physical assets, the way we already do about traffic congestion. "It's about … getting closer and closer to real-time information," he says, "and then having the capability to process what's going on" during a disaster, when every moment counts.

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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."