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Pride Day fracas highlights City Council meeting

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Audience participation has remained active at Lebanon City Council meetings since supporters of the LGBTQ+ community requested an official proclamation of Pride Month in June.
This month’s meeting on Oct. 12 was no different, as residents filled the Travel Santiam Station to voice their thoughts on current issues.
During public comment, Lebanon Downtown Association Manager Cassie Cruze announced that her organization won a new “Open Door Award” from Oregon Main Street for LDA’s Family Pride Day, which was held June 18 at Academy Square.
According to OMS State Coordinator Sheri Stuart, LDA nominated itself for the “Outstanding Promotional Event” award, but the OMS committee decided to create the “Open Door Award” to acknowledge the organization’s work.
“OMS has been focusing on helping our communities adopt goals to create inclusive and welcoming environments that make all feel that they belong and are invited into the community regardless of age, ability, race, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity,” Stuart said.
LDA’s Family Pride Day received the honor for “demonstrating a commitment to creating an environment that is welcoming and inviting to all through programs, outreach, or other efforts. A Family Pride Day committee was formed and worked tirelessly to develop a vision for the event and culminating in a celebration of the diversity of family.”
Brittany Nassar spoke of the event’s success in providing resources for younger people needing safe spaces for their identities, but added that she has since received threats from unidentified parties for her stance.
“I’m glad it was me who took on that struggle, because I can still accept that some people may not understand and may not be educated enough to understand where other people might be coming from or how they might be uncomfortable in their own bodies,” she said. “I forgive anybody that threatened me in that way, but I can tell that some people had not experienced prejudice in the real world, and it shows. Humans make mistakes, they misjudge, they misrepresent, and they function on assumptions. This is a continuing job and journey as a volunteer in the community to continue to create the resources for the Lebanon community.”
Teresa Neumann expressed frustration about what she described as “two visions diametrically opposed to each other which have come to a head.” The two sides, she said, disagree on matters of law and order, public safety, upholding the Constitution, immigration, energy resources, family, education and jobs, as well as other matters.
“Mainstream Americans like myself are really p***ed,” she said. “We’re sick of the social experimentations and we refuse to stand by any longer and watch a vocal, activist minority destroy our communities.”
She wanted the community to be aware of how the council would extinguish and prevent future “multiple fires” of crime, homelessness, drug addiction, unsafe streets and “woke” curriculum in schools.
“I want to hear you say ‘no’ to future gay pride proclamations and prides in this community, and ‘yes’ to family-friendly public gatherings,” she said.
“‘No’ to slapping up more apartment complexes proven to increase crime and ‘yes’ to single-family housing that will attract responsible, long-term residents. This is just common sense.
“‘No’ to any push of sanctuary city status and ‘yes’ to recognizing legal citizenship only. ‘No’ to pro-gender confusion and CRT (critical race theory) curriculum in our schools and ‘yes’ to protecting our children from them.
“‘No’ to drugs and ‘yes’ to being a drug-free zone. ‘No’ to people who are homeless simply because of lifestyle choice, and ‘yes’ to requiring 20 hours of volunteer civil service from them a week to earn social services. ‘No’ to those who are homeless due to mental health, and ‘yes’ to demanding the state find an effective solution to this crisis.”

Nassar, left, and Neumann discuss their views together outside the Santiam Travel Station while the city council meeting continues inside. Photo by Sarah Brown

Neumann and Nassar continued discussing their perspectives outside the building during the rest of the meeting. Other public comments included updates and requests for help regarding safety at the Lebanon Skate Park, as well as a request for the council to help alleviate homeless populations and theft in the neighborhoods between 7th and 12th streets, and Airport Road and Oak Street.

In other business, the council:
♦ Held a work session for a Cascadia Partners presentation on a housing production strategy, required by the state to guide a housing-related work program through implementation over several years. Since Lebanon is deemed a rent-burdened community, the Planning Commission has been seeking ways to encourage more housing to rid the city of the label and provide more affordable housing. Presentation details can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3EGmeCi.
“This is considered a toolbox that has been put together by Cascadia as things that can be established and utilized to produce housing” Community Development Director Kelly Hart said. “If they are adopted as part of the housing production strategy, we are required to implement them.”
♦ Held a public hearing for and approved the annexation of two properties located on the corner of Airport and Stoltz Hill roads. (See our Planning Commission story)
♦ Held a public hearing for and approved an ordinance vacating an easement on 489 N. Williams St. near Industrial Way. A public storm drainage line in the easement failed last summer, so it was replaced in December in a new easement on a different location on the property;
♦ Passed a resolution adopting the 2022 Storm Drainage Master Plan;
♦ Passed a resolution updating the Transportation System Development Charges project list. Staff added four projects to the current list primarily due to potential for development in those areas. They are: a 12th Street extension, a Walker Road extension, a Burdell Boulevard extension to Market Street, and a Weirich Drive shared-use path connection;
♦ Amended the Trees and Trails Advisory Committee ordinance to be called Lebanon Parks, Trees and Trails Advisory Committee, and to require members be Lebanon residents with the exception of a current member, who no longer lives in the city, to allow her to finish her term.
Discussion centered around whether committee members can live outside city limits or the urban growth boundary. One member was elected in 2019 and has, according to the city, been beneficial to the committee despite a recent out-of-city move. Her current term ends in 2025. She is self-employed and has clients in the city;
♦ Heard an annual risk management report by HUB International.