December 7, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Recalled councilor, mayor block public vote on fireworks

4 min read
A recalled councilor--- and a city council that has lost the confidence of most of the community--- savored one last chance to say: We know more than you do.

Councilor Zelenka mocks effort to draw public participation

A recalled councilor— and a city council that has lost the confidence of most of the community— savored one last chance to say: We know more than you do.

[00:00:10] Councilor Alan Zelenka: From where we sit, we have a lot more information that you’re not aware of. But I know it’s easy to think that when you talk to your, the people that all agree with you, that that’s the majority of people but it’s not necessarily so (laughs).

[00:00:24] John Q: He mentioned the cost of a radio campaign to encourage public participation.

[00:00:30] Councilor Alan Zelenka: The $25,000 to $50,000 ad buy, and by the way, I’ll asterisk ***Follow the money*** on that one.

[00:00:37] And the other way to think about that is all of that money and all that effort, you only had 26 people show up and 250 people out of 177,000 people in Eugene, and you said you’re the majority. How do you know? You said, we don’t know. So, I don’t think it’s the majority. The reasons I am in favor of the ban is not only because of veterans—Please don’t be rude.

[00:01:05] We were very patient and listened to you, so do the same, please.

[00:01:10] Councilor Matt Keating: …But that radio spot reportedly paid for by Fundz 4 Kidz. Call your local city government quote ‘tyrannical,’ and our actions quote, ‘chipping away at basic civil rights.’ Now, I love colorful language, but that kind of message echoed here tonight is over the top. It’s divisive, it’s misleading at best…

[00:01:34] I’ve rattled off data points left and right. I understand, and I hear, and I empathize with the great stressors on our community. But this community cannot suffer a Holiday Farm Fire, or Cedar Creek Fire or— you know the dangers in our South Hills: One way in, one way out, and had the winds kept comin’ two Labor Days ago, we’ve seen a disaster unfold right here—from 97405 to (974)01 and every zip code in between in Eugene—we would’ve seen it right here because conditions are so ripe for disaster. It is our duty to embrace public safety across the board.

[00:02:19] Mayor Lucy Vinis: We listened to you quietly and now it is your turn to listen to us quietly. Thank you.

[00:02:25] Councilor Claire Syrett: The entire state of California has banned fireworks. It is not a violation of millions of people’s First Amendment rights. As the only person in this room who worked for the ACLU of Oregon, I can guarantee you, a ban of this kind is not a violation of the constitution.

[00:02:42] I am also a proud American. I’m in fact one of those people who was somewhat earlier offensively referred to as ‘an immigrant to this country.’ When I became an American citizen, I took an oath to be faithful to this republic. I love this country as much as anyone else in this room, and one of the few people who made a conscious decision to pledge my loyalty to this nation as a naturalized American citizen.

[00:03:08] Councilor Mike Clark: At this point I will move to direct the city manager to bring this question to the next public ballot. The reason I’m suggesting that we put this in front of the voters is as Councilor Semple mentioned, there’s just no debating how many emails we got on this, whether it’s now, whether it’s right in front of the Fourth of July, this is a high-profile question that everybody in town has a point of view on.

[00:03:36] So this is the very definition of a lose-lose deal for us, okay? Because half of the people in the community are going to be angry no matter what we do. (Mm-hmm.) So let’s put it in their hands and say, ‘Gosh, we trust you to know what’s best for you here and want to hear what you say.’

[00:03:55] We ought to recognize that this is a very controversial issue for a lot of people in the community, and we’re trying to involve them in the process.

[00:04:04] John Q: Councilor Clark’s proposal went to a vote.

[00:04:08] Mayor Lucy Vinis: So, all in favor please raise your hands. 1, 2, 3, 4 opposed? 1, 2, 3, 4. And I oppose it. Okay. And I oppose it because I do not want the ban on the South Hills to expire when we are at such fire danger.

[00:04:28] John Q: As the council prepared to ban fireworks:

[00:04:32] Councilor Claire Syrett: The mayor is in charge of running this meeting, and she gets to determine if a vote is going to happen or not, and if she’s going to call on other people or not.

[00:04:42] Mayor Lucy Vinis: True. And I am ready to take this to a vote. The original motion is now on the table. All in favor, please raise your hands. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Opposed: two and that passes. Thank you very much.

[00:04:58] Councilor Emily Semple: I have a question. Okay. Okay. Well, I’m not thinking so much about the ones for having buckets or education with what to do with the small fireworks that we’ve just banned—

[00:05:13] Mayor Lucy Vinis: Hold on, hold on, excuse me, I, just one second. Those of you who are having a conversation, we’re still in a meeting here, so if you could either listen to our meeting or take your conversations (to the hallway) so that we can conduct this. Thank you very much.

[00:05:27] John Q: Reflecting on her final meeting:

[00:05:31] Councilor Claire Syrett: What a great last public meeting.

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