LWVLC- OR Women’s Vote Centennial, Eugene Celebration, 2012
LWVLC Annabel Kitzhaber Education and Advocacy Award
This award is presented to a League member or an outstanding Lane County citizen for long-term community commitment in the spirit of League’s mission of education and advocacy. Criteria for the LWVLC Annabel Kitzhaber Education and Advocacy Award:
- Significant contribution to the League of Women Voters principles
- Positive impact in the community/League
- Participation/facilitation in public issues for the good of the community
- Long-term commitment to education and advocacy of public policy issues
- Statesmanship in dealing with divergent points of view
- Dedication to grassroots involvement of citizens in government
Recent League Accomplishments
2012- The League encouraged Lane County, the Cities of Eugene and Springfield, and Lane Transit District (LTD), in 1999, to adopt Transplan, the regional transportation plan that had been in development since 1994. Specifically, we endorsed the construction of the bus rapid transit (EmX) system as a means to reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled. Since adoption of Transplan, LTD has successfully built two EmX corridors and is in final planning for the third corridor in West Eugene, which League continues to support.
2012- In 1999 we spoke about the lack of sufficient funding for maintenance and preservation of existing roads and streets. Since then we have supported successful efforts to raise additional local funding for road repairs: both cities have enacted local gas taxes and Eugene has passed a $36 million bond measure with a renewal on the 2012 November ballot, which League has endorsed.
2012- The League closely followed the Envision Eugene process for updating the City’s long term growth management plan for the next 20 years. We testified in support of the City Manager’s recommendations to the Council in March 2011 and May 2012. In our comments we specifically endorsed the recommendation for a housing mix for newly constructed single and multifamily dwellings, which mix is a major determinant of the amount of land needed within the city’s urban growth boundary (UGB). We also suggested that the City investigate the feasibility of expanding the UGB to include the Eugene Airport in order to better protect this community resource. The Eugene Council direction to staff for completing the detailed planning included both these provisions.
Lane County Budget
2012- The League testified in May 2012 before the Lane County Budget Committee to urge the committee to amend the proposed budget to restore funding for the medical examiner’s office by shifting resources from the Public Works Department and to restore funding for rural sheriff deputies by shifting $2 million in resources from reserves in the Road Fund. This recommendation was in the context of a $100 million (17%) decrease in the overall budget due to the loss of federal timber revenue. Due to the concern expressed by the League and many other community members, the budget committee approved changes to the proposal that reallocated about $3.5 million in funding from other departments to the sheriff and district attorney. Unfortunately, this solution is unsustainable in future years.
The League has been following the drastic decline in Lane County general fund revenues for many years, which has particularly impacted funding for the public safety. We have supported and actively worked for many unsuccessful ballot measures to raise additional funds, either through property taxes or income taxes, dedicated to paying for a comprehensive public safety system that includes jail sanctions as well as treatment for the underlying substance abuse and mental health problems that affect many offenders. We will continue to advocate for ways to support this critical public service.
Eugene Public Library
2006- The League has worked in support of operating funds for the new library (opened in 2003) for many years. In 1998 we urged the Eugene City Council to place a five-year local option property tax levy on the ballot and worked to obtain its passage. In 2002, when the renewal of the levy was submitted to the voters, we helped to pass the measure by purchasing a statement in the voters pamphlet, making a contribution to the political action committee, and submitting a letter to the editor. We supported the successful renewal of the levy in November 2006, again with a letter to the editor. After the expiration of the five years of this final levy, the city has not sought additional taxes for library operations, with the result that some library programs have been reduced.
2001 & 2002, League submitted letters and testimony to the Lane County Board of Commissioners (BCC) expressing opposition to a request to rezone agricultural lands on River River to allow aggregate mining in gravel pits. Subsequently, the BCC denied the request for rezoning, and an appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals to reverse the BCC action was unsuccessful.
Eugene Police Commission
2006- The League supported the successful City of Eugene ballot measure to establish and independent Citizens Police Commission.
League members compiled inmate data, toured the grossly inadequate city/county jail converted from a maintenance garage and then urged citizens to approve bonds to build a corrections facility. The 1979 opening of the Lane County Jail was partially due sustained work of League members.
The League provided speakers to community groups on various topics; members spoke to an estimated 5,500 people during 1947-48. It published candidate interviews and ballot measures digests. It held candidate programs, including a 1944 foreign policy forum featuring three of the four U.S. Senate candidates.
With regard to land use planning, the Eugene League worked with the state League to obtain passage of the county planning and zoning bill by the Oregon legislature. Subsequently, local League efforts led to Lane County becoming the first Oregon county to adopt a county zoning ordinance, in 1948, thus taking advantage of the opportunity to promote the orderly development of suburban areas.
Another legislative effort addressed Oregon’s public schools, particularly the disparity in funding and standards between urban and rural areas. The League’s concern led to intensive work for the Rural School Bill which passed in 1946. The bill was an equalization measure to encourage consolidation and to raise rural school standards. A memorandum explaining the bill, written and published by the League, was widely used throughout the state. The League also supported the basic school bill which provide increased state aid to schools.
Some successes illustrate the League’s substantial impact in this era. Interest in the civil service system began in 1934 with a national League resolution to “publicize the evils of the spoils system and win public support of the merit system as the means by which to select public personnel in all levels of government.“ Using local League research and working with government employee unions, the Oregon League helped convince the legislature to adopt a merit system bill in 1945.
The Eugene League’s first attempt to influence local government structure was successful in 1944, when Eugene citizens adopted the city manager model. The League also worked for better juvenile offenders’ services and adoption of the Lane County manager form of government (still no success on this).
“The Oregon League placed its early emphasis upon winning recognition for women in public life, removing discrimination against women, providing protections for women in industry and for children, and stimulating members and the public to register and vote.” The League soon “moved to a more fundamental concern with government. It worked to improve general welfare standards, to secure civil rights for all citizens, to raise the standards of government service and to provide a system of finance adequate to state needs. In the early years the program was little more than a long list of desirable objectives… far beyond the ability of members or the resources of the treasury to carry out. The 1935 program had 11 items for action and 19 for study.”
Democracy Reborn comments on the long struggle as follows: “Poignantly, one and only one woman who had been in the church at Seneca Falls in 1848 lived to celebrate the Nineteenth Amendment; as Charlotte Woodward, she had signed the Declaration of Principles; seventy-two years later, as Charlotte Woodward Pierce, she cast a vote in the 1920 presidential election.”
Initially, state Leagues were the keystone of the League’s structure , responsible for organizing local Leagues. Although the Portland League was successfully established in 1926, it was more of a struggle in other Oregon locations. Local Leagues started, disbanded, and re-established. It took three attempts for the Salem League to flourish and two for the Corvallis League.
The Eugene League, one of the Lane County League predecessors, formed in 1939 with 60 members. Although membership dropped to 27 during World War II, by 1950 it had climbed to 139. The Springfield League formed in 1956 and in 1969 merged with the Eugene League to become the League of Women Voters of Central Lane County, with almost 300 members in the combined group. In 1984, the word “Central” was dropped.