|Shevlin Center: Does this look like four-year university?|
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.