Thursday, August 2, 2012

OSU Cascades' expansion a sham?

Shevlin Center: Does this look like four-year university?
Bend and Central Oregon have needed a four-year university for decades.

That is not in dispute.

The branch campus of Oregon State University, located at Central Oregon Community College and called OSU Cascades, is evolving toward that goal.

But, the current push to create a new OSU Cascades "campus" at the Shevlin Center on Bend's west side doesn't make much sense.

First off, the COCC campus, on the west side of Bend's Awbrey Butte, boasts one of the greatest settings for a college or university in the country. Shevlin Center is a "business park."

The whole idea of a separate campus becomes even more absurd when you take into account the move by Stanford, Harvard and other elite schools to offer classes online. The virtual campus is the campus of the future. Buildings not required.

R.L. Coats, a construction magnate/developer with apparently few friends, donated most of the land for the COCC campus in 1962.

Back then, many Bendites distrusted Coats and believed he only donated the land for his own selfish purposes: tax breaks and to promote his West Hills subdivision.

Fifty years later, all anyone knows about Coats is that he is responsible for COCC being where it is.

COCC is opening two new buildings this year and has a great library on campus, which now sits at 201 acres. The University of Oregon, the the way, is just 295 acres.

There is plenty of room for COCC to grow, which means there is plenty of space there for an expanded OSU Cascades.

Taxpayers bought a building in Shevlin Center last year that will house graduate classes for OSU Cascades.

And, local property taxpayers, through the Bend park district, bought a vacant lot in the business park. The park district then said it will "partner" with OSU Cascades for a future building.

The beneficiaries, so far, of these land transactions are banks or individuals that received bailouts from the public coffers during these distressed real estate times.

Yes, it is incredibly impressive, particularly during this recession, that a private fundraising drive has generated $1.5 million in donations for OSU Cascades to move to the Shevlin Center. Of course, it also reveals how well the 1 percent have done during these tough economic times at the expense of the 99 percent.

Ultimately, this donated $1.5 million will go into the pockets of other private individuals or banks.

When we need one most, there is no R.L. Coats to step forward to donate land or buildings for OSU Cascades.

So toxic is political discourse in this country, especially in Bend, that even the mere hint of donating land for the public good draws outrageous accusations of anti-Americanism or promoting "socialism."

The local daily newspaper, whose "leaders" have donned tutus, tights and pom-poms in support of moving OSU Cascades to Shevlin Center, now want local property taxes to skyrocket.

Yes, the local daily believes that the 1 percent need not suffer the indignity of Oregon estate taxes and want them abolished.

Well, this means that we will have even less money for higher education, including OSU Cascades, and that property taxes will have to escalate to make up the difference.

Oregon's only other tax it relies on is the income tax. Naturally, the local daily's "brain trust" and other 1 percenters believe there should be no state income tax. In fact, most of those who donated money to achieve the $1.5 million threshold hold similar views regarding the income and estate taxes.

So, here's the rub. These fools believe that we can have a four-year university in Bend while not paying for it. That's right, no estate tax and no income tax. Oh, and we can't borrow money because Oregon has to balance its budget every year.

Well, the backers of OSU Cascades in Shevlin Center want to get around this idea of debt by having the state issue bonds to pay for the expansion of OSU Cascades.

It's still a debt.

While it is laudatory that private donors raised $1.5 million for OSU Cascades at Shevlin Center, it is a far cry from what is needed.

If Central Oregon's 1 percenters don't believe in the estate tax, the income tax, the beer tax, the gas tax, the room tax or any tax other than the property tax, then they're going to have to contribute at least 10 times more than they have to create a legitimate four-year university in Bend.

Otherwise, let COCC evolve into OSU Cascades.


  1. This whole thing disturbs me. It's not about education, it's a big real estate deal. Our city council is a tool and it bothers me that the public isn't speaking up. Their perception is off the planet compared to what this deal is going to bring to Bend. Call the Board of Higher Education and oppose their expansion. If the people don't speak up, we will all pay for this sham.

  2. Agreed. It's a crying shame the 4 year won't be placed in its rightful place: COCC campus. Absolutely ridiculous.

  3. I'm disappointed. I was hoping for a more balanced and less attacking approach to the OSU-Cascades move. While some of your "facts" are essentially correct you failed to put them in perspective. As an example: Yes, Coats did donate land to establish COCC and yes the total land area available to COCC to expand is substantial but back in the early 60's virtually none of Awbrey Butte was developed and no one envisioned the boom (and bust) we just experienced so it was easy for Coats to give land that sits on the side of a hill that looked back then like it would never get developed. And to this day it is considered a pretty lousy place to host a community college. It's ridiculously hilly, it's a very challenging campus to get around due to the hillside and in winter it's simply a bitch - especially when it snows. So to try to compare the COCC location with the nearly flat University of Oregon is like comparing apples and cows.

    I could go on but until you take a deep breath, quit wildly attacking the 1% (it took a lot of small business owners who are NOT 1%ers to get to over a million dollars), drop the too far left slant (I'm a progressive but the way) and instead deal in facts that are put in context there is no point in discussing this issue with you.

  4. This is a ridiculous commentary, no one seems to care how this effects the students! Oh yea the people who need the campus. I am a university student not a community college student, and it would be nice for once to be recognized as a Bend Beaver which is what I am. OSU Cascades is an amazing school who very much care about their students, who this is for. We have one measly building to manage to get ourselves ready for the big bad world, so yes I want the new campus, and the buildings. If I wanted to to do online classes I would have signed up for Phoenix College, I want the real deal, I want the American University experience. And why wouldn't we want to be at the bottom of Mt. Bachelor. Half our students go to OSU-Cascades to live in Bend and be so close to all the outdoor activities. Please do not forget that we are also Bend Citizens, paying taxes, buying local, and many of our students bike or walk to school, so stop bitching about the possible traffic!