Event Reflection: City Council 1/23

Oh boy, this one was a doozy. Amy, Cait, Maria, and I (Sophie) headed over to city council to support the Sanctuary City Ordinance and the Climate Recovery Ordinance only to be gobsmacked by the Downtown Business Association. First, updates on Sanctuary City/ Climate Ordinance.

A task force has been put together to draft a sanctuary city ordinance. Basically, we still need people showing up at city council meetings to support it to make sure that it keeps moving forward and the city council doesn’t start dragging their feet on it.

Sounds like the Climate Recovery Ordinance (which you can read about here) is getting updated and will include a provision about how to cap Eugene carbon emissions at 350 ppm. However, our city manager is not responding to calls to rollout the changes and is long overdue in showing a draft of the new resolutions to the public. 350.org eug is asking people to show up at city council and request he get his butt moving on this.
And now the fireworks.

The Eugene Downtown Business Association showed up en masse to air their grievances against the homeless who they stated create a “real and perceived threat” downtown. For the most part, 60 year old white men in suits stood up one after another to recount the horrific experiences they had of someone making fun of their BMW as they tried to find the Belly restaurant. Other complaints ranged from being aggressively panhandled to being followed by a cigarette masturbater . What is a cigarette masturbater? Friends, we may never know. One man called the homeless downtown the modern day “trolls under bridges” while a woman called them “the 1%” who oppress the rest of us. Some business owners simply sent employees to speak in their stead. The only solution any of them could seem to think of was increased police presence and incarceration. It was striking to have 60 people stand up and not seem to make the connection between homelessness and the lack of services, or realize the irony in asking the city council to make the downtown a “safer and more welcoming space” by removing the homeless from it. We were incredibly thankful to the few people who stood up to call for a public shelter and pointed out that the city has a duty it has been woefully neglecting to care for the homeless.

Although this was a frustrating experience, I think it revealed that going to city council meetings isn’t very meaningful unless you speak up. So next meeting I think we are hoping to put together a Nasty Women response to the business association.


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