By Ted Shorack
Edited by Clare Hancock
Earlier this evening, Eugene’s City Council mulled over Resolution 5040 for nearly an hour. The adoption of the resolution would express the council’s desire for funds reserved for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to be directed instead toward domestic issues and the needs of the City of Eugene.
The night began with an open forum. Members of Veterans for Peace Chapter 159 stood up and expressed their support of the resolution and handed over 200 additional cards of support from local residents. They had also gathered 840 signatures prior to the evening’s council meeting.
Many other Eugene residents stood up and spoke to the council as well, including a Lane Community College student who’s also a volunteer at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. “Our public schools system and our social service safety nets are in danger of not supporting the community,” she said.
After hearing the support of about a dozen citizens, Mayor Kitty Piercy handed the floor over to Eugene city counselor George Brown, who had put together the resolution for the council with the support of Community Alliance of Lane County. “It’s a more expanded version of the resolution that was approved by the council of mayors,” he said, which included Mayor Piercy. “Fourteen hundred mayors approved it. I thought it was totally uncontroversial.”
But a few other counselors had trouble with the language in Brown’s version, especially counselor George Poling. “I strongly object to some of the wording.” Poling agreed with the overall intent of the resolution, but he couldn’t get over the use of the word “occupation.” “It’s not an occupation, it’s a war,” he said.
The debate was further complicated by counselor Mike Clark, who felt the language used was too “incendiary.” “I’m moving to substitute the text of 5040 for the mayor’s resolution that she made in front of the conference of mayors,” he said.
Brown responded with frustration and continued to disagree about the controversial wording of the text. The motion to substitute the council of mayors version was shot down with a vote of 5 to 4.
However, the debate didn’t end there. It quickly shifted to how the funds would be used if the federal government adhered to their request. Poling wished to have specific numbers allocated to the Eugene Police and Fire Departments, but Brown and others didn’t see the point of determining specifics.
Eventually, they agreed on an amended version of Brown’s resolution, which passed with everyone in favor, except counselor Pat Farr, and determined that the specific allocation of funds be left for another time.
The crowd that had gathered to come to watch the passing of Resolution 5040 quietly filed out of the room, many unsure what had been agreed upon. One Veterans for Peace member, Jim Schmidt, said he was pleased with the council making the statement, but that he was confused which version the final vote was for.