Oregon is on the verge of losing its way. And that's being charitable. We may already have sunk into mediocrity among the 50 states, having lost our once well-deserved reputation for environmental trail-blazing.
Yesterday I was bemoaning with some friends the sprouting of subdivisions in south Salem. That's just a taste of the California-izing that is to come if Measure 37 isn't fixed, pronto.
You can kiss much of Oregon's charm and rural character goodbye if the asphalt and concrete-lovers are able to convince the legislature that the trashing of our land use laws should continue unabated.
We reminisced about the good old days of Gov. Tom McCall, famous for his "Visit, but don't stay" sentiment. Tom, you're missed. Now we've got a Ted (Kulongoski) who says he admires you, but unfortunately doesn't act much like you.
Ted is standing up for the environment in some ways. Yet Measure 37 is causing Oregon to move backward. That calls for a McCall who will do more than stand up—we need a battler who will fight his way forward.
Even better, millions of them. I sense that our citizens are fed up with organizations like Oregonians in Action who don't give a damn about the livability of this state, being mostly interested in lining the pockets of developers by turning farmland and forestland into tract homes.
It's sad that someone can say, with an absolutely straight face, "Don't Oregonize California." How far we've sunk.
This week I came home to a beautiful moon and Venus rising over a just-set sun. It was a classic Oregon scene, minus the clouds and rain, that had me racing for my camera and tripod. Our lighted dogwood provided a nice contrast to the darkening night sky.
Imagine that scene with Measure 37-approved twin billboards smack in the middle of it. That's the Oregon "property rights" zealots lust for. Artificiality replacing nature from the coast to the deserts.
Here's my simple response: you don't have the right to do that. This land is our land, not your land. You didn't make it. It comes from another hand—call it God, Tao, Buddha nature, Allah, Big Bang, whatever you like.
I don't know what Tom McCall's philosophy of life was, but I strongly suspect he'd agree. Clearly, though, he'd be aghast at what Measure 37 has wrought. Here's what McCall said in 1973:
But there is a shameless threat in our environment and to the whole quality of our life and that is the unfettered despoiling of our land. Coastal condomania, sagebrush subdivisions and the ravenous rampage of suburbia, here in the Willamette Valley, all threaten to mock Oregon's status as the environmental model of this nation.
Sadly, those words could just as well have been spoken in 2007. McCall's legacy deserves better.