"You should look into what Linda Norris did in Eugene, when she was City Manager there." When somebody told me this, naturally my curiosity was aroused.
Currently Linda Norris is Salem's City Manager.
This is an important position, arguably more powerful than the Mayor. The Mayor hires the City Manager, then the City Manager is responsible for hiring other employees. Plus, of course, managing city business.
I wasn't even aware that Norris had been Eugene's City Manager prior to coming to Salem. I asked the person who made the you should look into comment what Norris had done in Eugene that was disturbing.
"I'm not sure," I was told. "I just heard that it didn't make Norris look good." Well, after some Google research I can confirm the truth of that.
Linda Norris did indeed do some distrubing stuff during her stint as Eugene's interim City Manager. In my opinion, those actions throw light on the City of Salem's current corporate-friendly and ordinary citizen-unfriendly policies.
But as the saying goes, I'll report in this most recent Truth Bomb of my series, you can decide.
Here's the step-by-step facts the Great God Google revealed to me.
(1) According to a Eugene Weekly story, Linda Norris was interim City Manager for less than a year. She left to take an executive position with Hyundai, which had a semiconductor plant in Eugene. Later, in 2001, Huyndai changed its name to Hynix.
Here's how Eugene Weekly summed up part of the City Manager history in a 2007 article (when Hyuyndai had become Hynix):
Download Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.26.07 | eugeneweekly.com
Mike Gleason, 1981-1996, 15 years. Resigned after widespread criticism that he was ignoring council direction, providing biased or inadequate information and pursuing his own pro-development agenda, especially in giving huge tax breaks to Hynix.
Linda Norris, 1996, less than a year. The interim manager left for a management job at Hynix.
Warren Wong, 1996-1997, one year. The interim manager also went on to a manager stint at Hynix. He now manages the Lane County Fairgrounds.
(2) So Norris, along with her Eugene City Manager successor, went to work for Hyundai before the company changed its name to Hynix. Who knows the reason why? We can say, though, that Linda Norris did a big favor for Hyundai while she was interim City Manager.
Here's a portion of a December 28, 1995 Eugene Register-Guard story:
Hyundai chalked up another victory with regulators on Wednesday, winning permission to work around-the-clock at its west Eugene site, despite protests by neighbors who could be disturbed by nighttime excavation and construction.
Acting City Manager Linda Norris signed the noise variance late Thursday, ending a two-week public comment period that drew seven letters in opposition to Hyundai's plan to work 24 hours a day and one letter supporting the company's request.
The variance lets Hyundai operate bulldozers, backhoes and other equipment at night, overriding a city ordinance that bans noisy work between 7 pm and 7 am.
Norris' ruling is important for Hyundai, which has said it needs to work nonstop to complete its computer chip factory in 12 months -- six months quicker than originally planned. Each day the factory is up and running it will rack up $6.7 million in chip sales, the company has said.
(3) Let's make that a big controversial favor for Hyundai, because people who lived near the construction site complained vociferously about the nonstop construction. See:
Download Hubbub over Hyundai hubbub
Here's a photo of how the piece starts (wasn't able to copy this "ancient" 1996 file). Click the image to enlarge.
That piece says the variance was extended until July 4,1996. I'm not sure what happened between then and April 20, 1997. On that date the Register-Guard reported the noise variance had been overturned by a hearings officer after an appeal by the disturbed neighbors of the Hyundai plant.
All is quiet on Eugene's western front, thanks to a hearings official's decision to ban noisy nighttime work on Hyundai's computer chip factory at the end of West 18th Avenue.
In a ruling released Thursday, Milo Meacham turned down Hyundai's request for a six-month variance from the local noise ordinance. That means contractors can't operate trucks or other noisy equipment between 7 pm and 7 am.
The ruling overturns Assistant City Manager Linda Norris' Feb. 7 decision to issue the variance. And it upholds appeals by 10 people worried that Hyundai's nighttime noise disturbs west Eugene residents.
(4) In August 1997, Linda Norris left her City of Eugene job and became the human resources director for Hyundai. This was after, as we've seen, Hyundai had been able to construct its computer chip plant non-stop around the clock for quite a few months because Norris had issued a noise variance in favor of Hyundai.
After neighbors complained the construction noise and lights were driving them, their animals, and wildlife crazy, a hearings officer eventually overturned Norris' variance. But, as noted above, every day Hyundai saved by shortening the construction period was estimated to bring the company $6.7 million in chip sales.
Quite a coincidence -- if you can call it that. Linda Norris does Hyundai a big controversial favor, then becomes the Human Resources director of Hyundai. Well, such is the way the world works these days.
(Footnote: in 2008 Hynix closed the Eugene computer chip plant after getting many millions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives, putting more than 1,100 employees and 300 contractors out of work. After wrecking the environment, some in Eugene said. This also is how the world works these days.)
Download Eugene chip plant Hynix will close, erasing 1,400 jobs | OregonLive.com
Download Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.31.08 | eugeneweekly.com