3/17/2011: From the popular Portland blog, Bojack.org. One of his readers passed on an email, ostensibly from Gerry Williams, the chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, which ended with this:
An initiative passed several years ago mandates all schools be upgraded in Oregon by 2032, a two billion dollar program. As of this writing we have allocated a total of $15 million with another $7.5 million to be allocated (if the bond sale actually goes through) this spring. The State Treasurer has advised the state that we cannot issue any general obligation bonds without endangering our bond rating and driving up interest rates – making them more costly to finance. So schools, emergency facilities, dams and bridges are just going to have to wait.
However, in the last session, knowing that the economy was still taking a dive, the state used up $200 million of its bond capacity to finance a monument to Phil Knight at the University of Oregon – because Phil gave the athletic department $100 million – none of which, however, could go to pay any of the capital costs of the new Knight Arena.
It’s about values and money – and a guy like Knight who has the money, gets to dictate the values. Because apparently, the Oregon Legislature values U of O basketball more than the potential of losing 300,000 school children’s lives in a major earthquake.
This is a little over the top, even by my standards! And now Bojack reports Mr. Williams is denying he wrote it. OK.
Frohnmayer also played the seismic card when he was selling Matt Court arena to UO. But that turned out to be bullshit, like so much else we heard from Dave after Pat Kilkenny bought him. From the UO Senate Arena Committee report:
The safety concerns of Mac Court have been mentioned by President Frohnmayer and other UO officials as a reason why a new facility is urgently needed. Our subcommittee made an effort to evaluate the safety of Mac Court. We were informed that Mac Court, like all university buildings, is subject to building inspection, fire alarm inspections, fire sprinkler inspection and testing. In addition, fire pumps, standpipes, and fire extinguishers are inspected and tested per the fire codes. It is also noteworthy that the safety issues for Mac Court are quite different from other campus buildings given that the capacity of the facility is large but the usage is infrequent relative to other campus buildings.
Our subcommittee focused on the seismic risks, because the danger of earthquake threatens all University buildings, and because studies have been done that compare the risks of various university structures. On October 18th the subcommittee invited Chris Ramey, Senior Architect and Director of University Planning, to a meeting to discuss seismic risk studies and renovation potential for Mac Court. Mr. Ramey referred us to the University of Oregon Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan published in Winter 2006, which includes a detailed building by building assessment of Seismic risks (see page 7). The seismic risk of McArthur Court is not at the level of the structures which are of greatest concern (darkest purple on the map) and is in about the middle of the pack overall. According to the plan, buildings that are at a higher priority for additional seismic assessment and reinforcement include Esslinger, Friendly, Fenton, Hendricks, Knight Library, Lawrence, Susan Campbell, and Volcanology.