Interview to Pete Sorenson

Gov. Ted Kulongoski last week announced his intention to seek reelection in 2006 and says he will run on his record of accomplishments. But his only announced opponent in the May Democratic primary says the governor is simply taking credit for the Republican agenda, and even borrowing Republican propaganda.

Pete Sorenson
“This governor is running on his record, and I’m running against his record,” says Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson. “He has been a disappointment. His leadership is nonexistent. The Democrats of Oregon deserve a choice.”

Sorenson filed for the gubernatorial race back in January and says he’s looking forward to a lively primary campaign. But he’s irked that the governor’s campaign has so far ignored his requests for a debate at the Oregon Summit in October.

He says the governor has “flip-flopped” on whether he will run, and his indecision “serves as a clear reminder to Oregonians of this governor’s flawed idea of leader-ship.”

Kulongoski is claiming leadership in a string of recent victories. His list of “legislative highlights” includes expanding funding for pre-kindergarten by 3.5 percent, increasing funding for K-12 schools by 8 percent, increasing opportunity grants by 71 percent, securing $38 million for community college bricks and mortar, $410 million for university construction and maintenance, $7 million for nanotechnology research, expansion of industrial lands, protecting watersheds and salmon, combating global warming, updating Oregon’s land-use system, fighting meth, improving mental health systems, etc.

But Sorenson says the governor’s accomplishments are minimal concessions and Oregon continues to slip “further and further behind” in key areas of the environment, economy and tax equity.

“The governor may be putting a Band-Aid on a problem or two,” says Sorenson, “but the bottom line is there’s such a gulf, such a chasm, between what we need to be doing and what he’s saying. Basically, he’s taking credit for the Republican Legislature, and he’s spinning it almost exactly the same way they are. We balanced the budget and we didn’t raise taxes at all.”

Sorenson says Kulongoski has shown no leadership on tax reform. “Two-thirds of the largest corporations doing business in the state paid no income taxes. The remaining one-third paid 5 percent of the income taxes, and the other 95 percent was paid by individuals and small businesses.”

“We are now dead last, number 50, of the states in corporate income tax as a percentage of our state budget,” he says.

A new Riley Research poll shows support for Sorenson at only 2 percent. Sorenson says he’s a loyal Democrat and has pledged to support the party’s choice, “even if it’s not me.”

More on Sorenson’s campaign can be found at www.petesorenson.comand more on Kulongoski’s campaign can be found soon at www.kulongoskiforgovernor.com — Ted Taylor

(LITTLE) BODY BILLBOARD

EBay’s not just for selling digital geek gear and autographed posters of Kevin Bacon anymore. Oh no. The online auction site has moved on, and now its sellers hawk Costa Rican real estate, cemetery plots, dark magic revenge spells — and advertising space on children.

Photo from Danielle’s eBay auction, 8/19
Danielle, a third-grader who attends a public elementary school in Eugene, is auctioning off ad space on her backpack, school supplies and clothing for the entire school year. The little girl is pictured grinning on her eBay auction site, long brown hair cascading down one shoulder and a backpack slung over the other, with “YOUR AD HERE” written on the strap. “You are bidding on a rare ad space opportunity on a GORGEOUS, very popular, outgoing and active 8-year-old,” the auction reads. “Every time Danielle gets on the school bus, walks down the hall, your company name will be seen EVERYWHERE!”

Danielle’s mom, Tamina, hopes that the auction will bring in at least $1,300 so that Danielle can be a cheerleader next year. The family can’t afford to pay for another sport because they are upgrading their house. “I just want her to learn the value of earning money for something she wants to do,” Tamina says.

Danielle’s auction is the kiddie-est incarnation of a new trend in advertising: body billboards. At first it was just a trickle — a pregnant woman auctioning space on her belly, a student offering up his forehead. But the movement picked up steam in May when New Jersey college student Courtney Van Dunk posted a bikini-clad photo of herself on eBay and auctioned off one month of ad space on her body. The auction drew widespread media attention, and a wine retailer won the bid for $11,300. Three months later it seems that Van Dunk is still raking it in, with her own website and several new commissions.

According to Danielle’s auction, the little girl was inspired by the big girl. “[Danielle] is a HUGE Courtney Van Dunk fan (as you can see, she even resembles a young Courtney),” the auction reads. Danielle plans to donate 10 percent of her winning bid to the charity of the bidder’s choice, just like Van Dunk did.

Is it appropriate to compare a third-grader raising money for cheerleading to a busty young woman selling her sex appeal? Tamina seems flustered by the very notion. “I just like [Van Dunk’s] goal of trying to earn money for college,” she says. “I know there are girls out there who do questionable things, and I don’t want things like that to be associated with my daughter’s auction. Of course we wouldn’t endorse anything that’s questionable for her age group.

“We’re not selling her,” she adds.

Planning process in smart cities

Today in the United States, a renewed concern with our dependence on land is causing a major reappraisal of the attitudes toward land use. For more than two hundred years land owners’ freedom to use land as they wished has been cherished as an implicit value of American life, though government controls have always made that freedom less than absolute. Now another view is also being heard: that we must have more public involvement in land use decisions to protect vital resources and the common interest of all; that responsibility for protecting the land and its resources, or land stewardship, goes along with the right to own land. As former Governor William Milliken was fond of saying, “The 38 million acres that are Michigan is all the Michigan that we will ever have.”

LAND USE AFFECTS US ALL
Chances are that for many of us the land we work and play on does not belong to us. Almost every one of us eats food grown on land we do not own. We depend on more than just our privately owned lots for our well-being. Land use affects us all, and al communities in Michigan have laws governing the use of land.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Citizens can help professional planners and public officials determine what is needed and how the land will be used. If government is to be responsive and remain democratic, citizens must participate in land use planning and the decision-making process.

THE PLANNING PROCESS
Planning for careful use of land is a process which can take anywhere from a few months to two years and depends on participation from a planning commission, professional planners and ordinary citizens.

The planning process can help a community:
– During various phases of the planning process a community will:
– identify problems/issues
– gather and analyze information
– formulate goals and objectives
– identify and evaluate alternatives
– and select a course of action.

A COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN
A comprehensive or master plan, is the result of the planning process and includes not only a land use plan but plans for providing adequate housing, utilities, transportation, public facilities, civic buildings, community appearance and any special features, as well as promoting economic development. Using maps and words, the master plan expresses a community’s vision about its future. A comprehensive master plan is an overall guide to community development and problem solving. It is a basic framework against which individuals and organizations can measure plans, programs, and ideas.

An effective plan is:
– Comprehensive.
– Takes into account all aspects of the community’s social, economic, and physical factors that interact.
– Long range.
– Deals with future needs as well as with solutions to existing problems.
– Flexible.
– Is able to adjust to changing conditions and increased knowledge.
implementable.
– Includes recommendations for undertaking realistic actions to help make the plan a reality.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION
The planning commission is an officially designated body authorized by state legislation and established by township, village, city or county unit of government. The members, appointed by the elected officials, are citizens representative of the community. The basic task of the planning commission, according to the planning act, is “to make and adopt a basic plan as a guide for development.” The legislative body then passes the supporting ordinances to implement the master plan. Planning commissions are often assigned zoning and subdivision review duties by the legislative body and so continue to function after a plan is adopted.

The planning commission must actively seek advice from community interest groups and individuals. “Visioning” or “futuring” are techniques which often serve as a first step in the community planning process. A diverse group of citizens meet to discuss and reach consensus on what they want their communities to look or be like, usually twenty years or so in the future. Subsequently, citizens may also serve on advisory groups for various elements of the plan and to help educate the public. All citizens are encouraged to participate in the public hearing, required before the plan is officially adopted, so that it reflects the needs and desires of the community. After the plan is adopted it should be reviewed every three to five years to assess its effectiveness, determine shortcomings, and amend when necessary.

ZONING
The most visible tool for implementing a community’s master plan is zoning. Zoning laws specify areas within the community where certain land uses are allowed. They regulate the use of land, the location of buildings on the land, and even the height, area, bulk, and placement of buildings. Before land can be zoned for a specific use (or rezoned if it is already zoned) a public hearing must be held, first by the planning commission and then by the governing body of the municipality. It must be remembe red that zoning is not a substitute for planning, but only a tool for carrying out a land use plan.

ZONING CAN:
1) help preserve open space and community character through the use of techniques such as Planned Unit Developments (PUD), open space and cluster developments to reduce sprawl, and prevent or minimize the loss of forest, recreational, and agricultural lands;
2) protect individual property owners from future harmful or undesirable uses of adjacent property;
3) assist community economic growth and character by helping to reserve adequate and desirable sites for industrial, commercial, and recreational uses;
4) and protect unique, historic, and fragile land from destruction.

ZONING CANNOT:
1) easily correct mistakes in land use which have resulted in inconsistent uses of neighboring properties;
2) assure that a community will perpetually retain the land uses originally assigned to it under zoning;
3) and succeed in a rapidly changing community if it is not based on planning.

OTHER LAND USE TOOLS ARE:
subdivision ordinances which set up the rules under which the development of land will be permitted
purchase or transfer of development rights
capital improvement programs
building, electrical and plumbing codes
sanitation ordinances
fire protection policies
annexation and consolidation

STATE LAND USE POLICY
Currently there is no comprehensive land use policy in Michigan, though there are many state laws affecting the use of land. Generally the objectives of these laws include:
maintain agricultural lands
preserve shorelands, marshes, and wetlands
provide for outdoor recreation
prevent land, water and air pollution
Land use planning is affected by decisions made in every department of state government, but most of the responsibility lies with the Department of Environmental Quality.

NATIONAL LAND USE POLICY
The National Land Use Policy is limited to management of federal lands, particularly visible areas designated as national parks and forests. Congress has the power to designate land for acquisition as a park and it also has the power to appropriate fund to buy the designated land. Congress may, however, designate an area to be a park, but neglect to appropriate funds for its purchase.

USE YOUR INFLUENCE
You can influence the land use policies adopted by your government. The open meeting law requires mandatory advance notice of public hearings. This gives citizens time to gather information and facts. Information is available from planning commissioners, local elected officials or local planning departments.

As you follow the activities of government:
– Speak Up! Present your position at every opportunity.
– Join together with others who share your views.
– Write, call, e-mail, or fax your local elected officials and present your position.
– Submit testimony in writing before the hearings.
– Sign and circulate petitions.
– Get your views into the news media via letters to editors.
– Try to see the other side of the issues and realize the interrelationships that exist.
– Be sure to take maximum advantage of public hearings.

As anthropologist Margaret Mead said:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The need for more citizen involvement in the movement for better land use is critical. Your participation is important. Decisions will be made. Either you can affect the decisions or someone else will.