UO’s Steve Mital gets transparent about EWEB costs

Mital is the Director of UO’s Office of Sustainability, and ran the famous 2013 Urban Farm survey – the last publicly released data about why students come to UO.

He’s also the President of the Eugene Water and Electric Board. And he’s practicing transparency there too. Christian Wihtol has the story in the RG, here:

The Eugene Water & Electric Board made a “mistake” when it signed a long-term contract to buy power from the Seneca wood-burning electricity plant north of Eugene, and the utility has tried, unsuccessfully, to get out of the contract, EWEB’s president said Wednesday.

However, the utility has been unable to find a way out and is “stuck with” the “controversial” contract, said EWEB President Steve Mital in comments he posted on registerguard.com in a discussion with readers about EWEB’s expenses and its proposed electricity rate increase.

Signing the contract “was a mistake,” Mital wrote. “Management has looked into legal off-ramps. None can be found. We are stuck with it. I’d like to think that I would have voted against it had I been on the board … But that’s a bit of a cheap shot. It may have seemed like a good bet at the time.”

It is the sharpest public criticism an EWEB official has leveled against the secret contract that EWEB signed in 2010 to buy the Seneca plant’s power for 15 years.

In his comments, Mital also praised The Register-Guard for trying to force EWEB to disclose the utility’s contract with Seneca. …

Here’s hoping this guy’s political ambitions go beyond EWEB, because state government sure needs people like this.

Sustainability and Diversity

8/30/2011: Sustainability and Diversity are college administrators’s favorite buzzwords. Here’s UO doing something sensible on sustainability: spend $10 million on energy saving features for buildings that will save $500,000 a year in utility bills and reduce pollution. (But read the comments.)

So, what would a sensible approach to increasing diversity at UO look like? Stalin himself couldn’t make these 5-year plans work. Can Russ Tomlin do better by putting specially trained “faculty search advocates” on hiring committees?

draft VP for Diversity job description posted for comments

7/15/2011: Here. It’s a mix of the usual complete bullshit and some hopeful signs that we might actually hire someone who will make some progress on these important issues.

The best part is that when the administration decides we are still “under-administered” and need a VP for Sustainability, they can save a bunch of money by skipping the high priced consultants and doing a quick search and replace of sustainability for diversity on this thing.

Legislature bails on PSU sustainability center

6/28/2011: From Harry Esteve in the Oregonian:

The Oregon Legislature has dealt a serious blow to plans for building a world class “sustainability center” at Portland State University. …

“There are a multitude of concerns,” said House co-Speaker Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg. Top among them, he said, is that the building would require expensive lease rates and the Oregon University System plans to command two-thirds of the space.

“When parents come and say ‘How come our tuition costs are so high?’ one of the answers is, we’re building an incredibly high-cost building and obligating the university to rent space there,” Hanna said.

This idea, which was pushed by Portland Mayor Sam Adams and PSU President Wim Wiewel, was an unsustainable money pit. It’s amazing how quickly environmentalism and sustainability have been taken over by scam artists of various ilks.

LCC leads nation in energy managment education

8/27/2010: How often does Lane Community College get featured in an NYT story? Interesting in many ways.

“When we first started two decades ago we were focused on community and residential energy efficiency,” Mr. Ebbage said. “Now we are preparing people to go into the commercial sector anywhere in the country.” The graduates are in great demand, said Mr. Ebbage. “They are working for utilities, on engineering jobs, for school districts, cities and the military,” he said. “We’re not going to be in areas where there is no job demand,” he added, noting that some short-term green job training programs have been criticized because they do not always lead to employment in the current economy. The demand for its managerial graduates prompted Lane Community College to accelerate its two-year program, with help from federal money, starting this month. The college is beginning a trial program that allows students to earn their energy management degrees in fewer academic terms. Their tuition is subsidized as part of the federal stimulus funds for green courses and training, including a $2,500 tuition tax credit.

At UO we seek to understand the world, but at LCC the point is to change it. Education for efficiency. Thanks to bojack.org for the link.

Cool or not cool?

8/19/2010: UO has failed to make the Sierra Clubs list of America’s 162 greenest campuses, a.k.a. “Cool Schools”. (The Dog comments that it’s likely no one at UO bothered to complete the survey). Obviously we will now need to further increase administrative spending on sustainability. Or not – Scott Carlson has a piece in the Chronicle on how messed up this particular ranking scheme is – these criticisms apply to all the other green/sustainability/LEEDS schemes I’ve looked at as well.

On the other hand, Oregon was recently ranked as the #1 “LGBT friendly” school. I was curious about what this ranking was based on, so I looked at the questions, here. Some examples:

Does your campus prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation by including the words “sexual orientation” in its primary non-discrimination statement or Equal Employment Opportunity policy?

Does your campus offer health insurance coverage to employees’ same-sex partners?  

Does your campus have a full-time professional staff member who is employed to support LGBT students and increase campus awareness of LGBT concerns/issues as 50% or more of the individual’s job description?

Does your campus regularly hold social events specifically for LGBT students?

Does your campus have any student organizations that primarily serve the religious/spiritual needs of LGBT students (e.g. Unity Fellowship for Students, Gays for Christ, LGBT Muslims)?

Pretty specific and to the point questions, all in all. I am guessing there are still some people on campus who are embarrassed by UO’s place in this ranking. Interestingly, it’s one of the few things at UO that OIED Diversity VP Charles Martinez is not claiming credit for.  What embarrasses me are the inane sustainability ranking schemes. These people are still arguing over how many solar cells you need to slap on a building to call it green. Food from within 100 miles is local, not from 150 miles. WTF? They should take a look at the LGBT survey to get some idea about how to ask questions that measure the sorts of things that actually improve people’s quality of life.