Friday, October 19, 2007

The New Nez Perce

I was conflicted about posting this article, I do agree with certain elements and disagree with others. I've decided to post this to stimulate thinking.

by Steve Culley

Tonight )ct 25th, 2007, right here in Baker City you will be invited to attend Thousand Friends of Oregon Envision Oregon at the Geiser Grand. I think it would be a good time to ask them what their vision really is. My vision of their vision is one in which at least 98 percent of the population will be forced to live behind an urban growth boundary. No country living for rednecks anymore. We can build up, not out, not sprawl and as the population from an insane immigration policy expands we can build even higher. The land will be covered with Pinot Noir vineyards with wolves in them. Apartment and condo living for all except the very rich, usually imports from large urban areas forced out by expanding populations. And those new comers are flush with dollars. After all that’s where the money is, in the big cities. A yuppie society of royal castles on the hill and redneck serf hooches in the ville. Fifteenth century Europe will be back in force.

During the last 3 decades or so of land use planning in Oregon, while we saved the open space, forests and farm land there was one class of people who were ignored. I like to refer to them as the New Nez Perce. They are the ones who have always been country folk, many tracing their tenure in rural Oregon back to wagon train days. At one time they could aspire to owning a few productive acres where they might raise a beef or two, a large garden or even have a horse for the kids and grand kids. A place where they didn’t feel crowded and might even see the night sky away from the city lights. But one of those imports from Massachusetts , Tom McCall, had a vision and enough media exposure to get his vision implemented. Oregon, the only state to do so, instituted state wide land use planning and the urban elite got their way the natives got the shaft. It’s democracy at it’s best.

The cites where the population is imposed their will on the rest of us and were able to maintain their tyranny of the majority right up until measure 7 in 2000 when a revolt happened. But a good counter attack through use of the I-5 judges threw it out. The people came back with measure 37 and Thousand Friends tried the same judges tactic but amazingly lost. Now they are back with 49. They aren’t pulling any punches. They got the Big Look canned by the democrats in the legislature and contrary testimony to their vision is down the tube for the time being. The Oregonian furnishes free publicity for their point of view and most editors of newspapers fall into line. The people ignored them on measure 7 and 37 and hopefully will on 49. A no vote is called for if Oregon’s elite planners and zoners are ever going to be brought under control.

Some years back I followed what is now known as the Nee Mee Poo Trail, the route Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce took on their flight to Canada and stood on the very place where he surrendered . It’s really a sad place. People who had lived in area for a very long time were simply brushed aside by those who had another vision of the land. Their cries for justice were ignored simply because they were few. The same thing happened in Oregon. Urban Oregon thought they would like to save it for their use, an occasional drive through while looking at the open space. Never mind the 52 percent of Oregon is federal or state and can never be touched. It was the private land they wanted and they got it cheap, by zoning. No reason to pay for it. If we don’t own it we can zone it was a much better deal.

So a rural culture died for the vision of an elite just like the Nez Perce were brushed aside while crying for justice. The new Nez Perce will go the same way. At least Joseph took a few scalps before he left. I would hope for the same for Oregon. It will be hard to combat the machine that is pushing 49 and they will probably prevail but I hope that the people will come back with an initiative that kills state wide land use planning out right and return authority to the counties where it properly belongs.


Zak J. said...

That writer writes very well--the comment about pinot noir vineyards filled with wolves cracked me up & speaks volumes about the real issue of the cultural & class divides.

But on the issue of Measure 49, I have to disagree. I support 49 primarily because it restores to the state the ability to regulate development and land use based on a rational water conservation policy, which was tossed out the window with Measure 37. M49 does not question the ability for individuals to build private homes and out buildings on their property, but it does keep them from hosing over their neighbors by converting ag land to other uses that would be sure to wreck havoc with local water supplies. In the very near future, merely as a result of population growth and not figuring in environmental changes, we will surely have battles over water scarcity that will make the recent rucus in the Klamath basin seem trivial and polite.

Bottom line: M49 protects agriculture.

Chuck Butcher said...

There are elements of this article I agree with and some I don't. Steve is an active participant on this blog and I believe his points deserve discussion and thought. No law is written perfectly and pretending one is asks for trouble. I am not entirely pleased with 49, I am considerably more displeased with 37.

Zak J. said...

That's about it.

Steve's comments about rural colonization by urban voting hordes are widely shared. I grew up in a town that makes Baker seem like a metropolis, so I can definitely relate to where he's coming from, though I'd be hard pressed to offer a meaningful remedy.

KISS said...

The whole concept of Urban planning was two-fold. Developers prospered like never before and affordable housing disappeared, these are facts.
Farm land was designated to Agri-businesses, the family farm was dying and Urban planning was the final executioner. By law, timber companies must allow and enhance watersheds. M49 is ployed as a big timber regulator, while some truth is in this, M 49 has some rather large proponents that will do well, also. Government very seldom, if ever, really is a watchdog for the citizens. In Amerika government is owned by large corporations, like it or not. Both Dimmos and Repugs take the same money and obey. Sadly the court system is as tainted. But true believers keep the same old rhetoric rolling.

Steve Culley said...

I've writen a bunch on land use laws in Oregon but getting it out for discussion is a problem. Dailies won't print most because to make a point I exceed word limits and our local daily has a once a month letter limit. The weeklies do better but have low readership, The Capitol Press being an exception.
The point I make often is that we have a national policy of constant unrelenting population growth driven by immigration. The republicans like the cheap labor, potential customers and soldiers for the empire. Democrats who hate George Bush are in lock step with him on immigration because they think they are going to get voters, they are cliche driven, " a nation of immigrants", "celebrate diversity" etc. And the enviros collect money for their agendas of saving the environment because people screw it up. The more people, the more screwing and the more contributions. It's a system bound to fail. We will always fight over water, air, farm land, wildlife, open space etc. because the laws of supply and demand are ignored. There is only so much good land, water, open space, habitat etc. to go around. The hoards of people coming here from an overcrowded world do compete for the things you want to save. I think the best hope is that maybe the sheeple will wake up and realize that immigrants compete for gasoline too. They might be here to just work and feed their families but they drive and heat their homes. Gas prices might be the issue that makes America say, enough is enough. I think my "truth in editorial writing" can be found on the net.

Steve Culley said...

Well at least I gave Bob Stacey of thousand Friends a copy of this aricle at their propaganda meeting in Baker last night. Darn hard competing with the mainstream media but at least I know whoever wins on 49 there will be another battle coming up. That's Oregon's land use laws for you, guaranteed to piss off the other half.