FRIDAY’S CHEERS & JEERS: Deep on Harris, Housed-Unhoused Maybes, County’s 4th Jail Try, Power Underground

CHEERS to Corvallis’ former NAACP president Angel Harris for a tenure well served, and to Sienna Kaske for a Daily Baro piece on Harris, which is equal parts unabashed cheer and reflective bio. 

CHEERS to a meeting packet Let us explain. At 461 pages, the Feb. 16 City Council Meeting Packet with its planning and financial reports, and bunches of other important stuff is available online, making it a transparency geek’s paradise. Leaving aside the extensive financial reporting, want to know what OSU’s future development plans look like… it’s there. 

Standing ovation CHEERS because local government-folk are finally talking about a model of homeless services from Austin, Texas. We’ve spent years nagging local officials about the Community First model. We were excited to see the county’s Housing Opportunities Planning and Equity Board giving it a hoorah in their report to the city council same packet as above, but you have to scroll down a ways to find it. 

JEERS to the current social media notion that government action seeking to ameliorate the spread of COVID-19 is somehow arbitrary, especially posts ideating that a university in the middle of town should buy our community some forbearance. The numbers are the numbers, and we continue to accept epidemiological advice from epidemiologists, and solid reporting from respected organizations. 

CHEERS that compensation is now available for Oregon landlords willing to forgive rents missed because of the pandemic. We WAIT WITH BATED BREATH to see if the $150 million set aside is enough to cover the 89,000 Oregon renters that missed payments a Portland State University study says the problem may cost more like $3.3 billion.  

JEERS to small landlords only receiving the same 80% payout as large landlords. 

MORE BATED BREATH as we await the County’s fourth try at seeking voter approval for a new jail. The county’s project manager, Nick Kurth, hit this week’s City Council meeting with a presentation showing possible locations. The South Corvallis site would sit furthest from town, toward the airport, the North Corvallis site would sit southwest of Circle and Highway 20. Is it because proposals for a new jail have already been defeated three times, that this one asks for more money than ever before? In fact, it adds new headquarters for both the Corvallis Police and Benton County Sheriff’s Department, along with a new courthouse. Kurth disclosed the proposals could come to voters piecemeal over more than one election cycle. 

JEERS to both North and South site jail location proposals. The former for a piece of land just rezoned for apartments, and the latter adjacent to a recently approved urban renewal district. We get the need for a new jail, and we wonder if putting the ballot measure at odds with affordable housing is wise, given the proposal’s electoral history. 

MEANWHILE, given the power outages this last week, we wondered why not just bury electrical lines underground. Well, it turns out that kind of retrofitting costs about $2 million a mile… so, we’re going to go generator shopping, which has its own hazards that we’ll be keeping in mind.