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President Richard Lariviere: more evasive than a ninja

As the handsome Alex Tomchak Scott already mentioned, President Lariviere stood before Senate today and explained his veto on the Riverfront Resolution. Or rather, he offered as little substance as possible and said ‘Well that covers that, LOL’ (paraphrased).

Lariviere spent a fair bit of time talking up the University’s presence at the BCS game, calling the pep rally and general student involvement “astonishing”. After smiling and expressing how proud he was of the school, he delivered a curt performance on the subject of the Riverfront Resolution. Lariviere said there has been no change since he last discussed the topic, that the IGA was addressed thoroughly by both the city and UO, and ended by saying he was puzzled by this situation. Of the 12 questions he was presented with, albeit on rather short notice, he said he had no answers to any of them because that is not the sort of relationship he wants with the Senate. He hopes we can engage in a relationship that will “move [things] forward”. After spending three entire minutes on the controversial topic he went back to how much he enjoyed the enthusiasm showed during the football game, and quickly ended his speech with a jovial, “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon!”

Immediately members of the audience asked if he planned on actually explaining anything. Asked if there was going to be any openness, or transparency, Lariviere reiterated that “nothing has changed” since the official letter he wrote in December. “I’m a big fan of openness and transparency,” Lariviere explained, and promptly proved the fact by saying that he had an appointment shortly and did not have the time to answer all twelve questions, but even if he did, he would not answer them. A member of the audience asked if Lariviere would at least say something on the topic of the IGA [inter-governmental agreement] and how the University justified “short-circuiting” the process. Lariviere said that to the best of his knowledge the IGA was not in effect, nor has it been for some time, and that the University’s obligation is long since terminated.

“You don’t feel there should be a public hearing?” a voice in the audience called out, to which Lariviere pithily retorted, “How do you know there hasn’t been one?”

Following this suit, Lariviere’s answers became somewhat more short and blunt, replying to a few questions, “I don’t know that anything you said is the case,” and, “I don’t know that that’s the case.” As a few members in the audience became insistent that Lariviere answer their questions, he told the audience, “It’s not that I’m trying to evade this, I’m trying to explain what my responsibilities are,” and, “It’s not that I’m trying to evade your questions.” On the subject of the riverfront project in general, he announced that, “We are where we are,” and said that we should work on moving forward, on the heels of his previous plea to the Senate to forge a forward-moving relationship.

If only one bit of recap from Lariviere’s speech to the Senate sums the entire session up, let it be this: at the end of his speech Lariviere said “I really feel that these questions have been answered,” and went silent; this prompted one or two people in the audience to snicker, which incited a murmuring of extremely stifled chuckles, clearly upsetting Lariviere. I personally had to summon all of my willpower not to burst into laughter, if for no other reason than our University president spent almost half an hour defending his decisions (or avoiding the need to) and his final insistence on his convictions was met with laughter.

My personal favorite tidbits are that the IGA is not in effect, so the University has zero obligations on the matter, and, “How do you know there hasn’t been [a public hearing]?” I won’t put words in anybody’s mouth, but Lariviere seemed to imply that in the absence of the IGA plans on the riverfront would proceed at whatever pace, and if the public has a problem then they are free to hold a public hearing somewhere. Because Lariviere did not decisively comment on the occurrence of an official public hearing on the matter, I am going to make the gentle assumption there has been none. Lariviere’s how-do-you-don’t-know-there-wasn’t-one comeback (which did give me pleasant flashbacks to my days of middle school witticisms) does have some ground; technically there might have been a public hearing on the matter, but we can all be fairly sure there wasn’t a public hearing that meant a damn thing. But apparently the University’s and thereby Lariviere’s obligations are naught, so none of us can with any real weight demand anything, I guess.

So happy new office building on the riverfront, and a great ‘here’s a quarter, call someone who cares’ to us all.

  1. Fizzle T. Bizzle says:

    what ogynax said

  2. ogynax says:

    lgcv6O bkfxrafzwxck, [url=]vmettwkvqdwi[/url], [link=]kkmciwwytwgo[/link],

  3. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Wank wank wank.

  4. Evan P. Thomas says:

    Allen and Paul,

    By my reading of the document, the LTC requires review of each “increment” of the process at the request of one of the parties involved. Unless you can show that one of the parties (City or University) has requested review, the process requires no review increments, and is therefore not in violation.

    The master plan was created in 1988, yes, but when the URA was founded, it gave the University jurisdiction to alter said plan … all obligations to other parties were discharged. So the differences between the 1988 master plan and the 2010 master plan are legally altered by the responsible party (in this case, responsibility is given to the University and President as is outlined in LTC, ie: Lariviere).

    Legal aspect is pretty boring to most people, but it is the only effective means of leverage with a President who obviously doesn’t want to budge. Ultimately, my conclusions of the documents I have seen show zero violation of legal obligation with regard to the University. The fact that he is denying involvement and being exclusive with this process is enough for you, as advocates, to call him an asshole and list why you think he’s an asshole and why you think you should be involved. But this is a social battle you’re fighting, not a legal one, so just as you may easily present your impassioned views, so may he easily reject them.

    I have little doubt that you could hire a lawyer and take this to court if it’s worth the expenditure. Lawyers like money and will take the case and, as is their job, will tell you that your case has legal weight. However, personally, I see very little way that any suit would be won by your side. A suit means that you have to start being interested in legal aspects and not be bored by them, and the facts will remain evident regardless of whether you agree with them or are enthralled by them.

    Right now you have one document that both the city and University have agreed that indication of withdrawal was apparent, and you have another document that requires review as per request by one of the three involved parties (if you can prove that this review was requested by the City or University and no such review took place, then you have something, but I suspect you do not have this evidence).

  5. Voldemort says:

    Forest. Trees. At this point it’s about Lariviere’s/the UO’s blanket aversion to transparency, not about development on the riverfront.

  6. Paul C. says:

    Thanks for your interest and research on the topic. It’s great that you’re digging into this.

    Many of the points you bring up are worthy of consideration. Allen has tried to explain why you may be misinterpreting or misrepresenting some of the facts, but in a forum like this it is difficult to present everything in context, even if you’re extremely familiar with the subject.

    We have spent many, many hours researching this topic, and we wouldn’t make unfounded claims. In addition, we’ve had two reputable local attorneys look over the IGA, the Land Transfer Conditions, and the City Code requiring the Commission and review. They have come to largely the same conclusions that we have, and these conclusions are at odds with what the City Attorney and the University have presented.

    Though an important tool, the legal aspect is pretty boring to me. The exciting stuff comes when the students and faculty regain the voice they have lost. It is my intention to make this so – whether the University is legally obligated to do it or not. A responsible redevelopment of the riverfront would be a huge asset to the University and to the community.

    The ASUO could play a huge role in helping the stakeholders regain their voice. It would be great if you would be willing to meet with us to discuss the issues you present here and others. The ASUO Senate would benefit greatly from having a student or two that have a strong understanding of the issues, the context and history, the scope of the legal recourse, and especially our point of view — Even if you disagree with our methods, we certainly have shared goals.

    Please get in touch if you would like to take on this role.

  7. Allen says:

    Evan, I’m glad that you’re taking interest in these legal documents. I kindly request, however, that you not make assumptions about why I did not include certain parts of the Land Transfer Condition. It’s a long document and my intention was to keep my posting concise–not to select parts that are favorable to my position.

    You are correct that this document does not require an opportunity for public review, but it still requires a review of each “increment” of the Project” before further land can be released. This refers to the four separate development parcels as described in Sections I.B and III.A, not the ORI project. Although it’s a bit ambiguous about exactly who the individuals are that perform the joint review, the University has provided no evidence that any review has actually been performed and the City has confirmed that this hasn’t taken place either.

    The Master Development Plan was prepared in 1988 under President Paul Olum (not President Lariviere) and approved by the City of Eugene by way of a Conditional Use Permit on Feb. 13,1989. The review required by the Land Transfer Conditions is a review of conformance of completed “increments” to the 1988 Master Plan.

    The University, however, has not actually completed any of these increments. The first and only increment with buildings is the Silva Sector. After 20 years, this increment still hasn’t been built out yet (see RRP website for lease info), so developing a new increment before the first is complete violates the Land Transfer Conditions (and perhaps explains why a review was never performed).

    We’re aware that it may be difficult for a third party to enforce a contract between two institutions and for that reason we have chosen to raise these concerns to the President through the University Senate.

    Enforcing these contracts are not, however, are not our only recourse in this matter.

  8. What'd the guy say to the mechanic? says:

    Guy: My car doesn’t work. Can you help me “move forward”?
    Mechanic: Sure. Well, see, here’s the problem: the transmission is totally screwed.
    Guy: Oh, crap. We’ll can you help me get it rolling again?
    Mechanic: Sure, we can give you a whole new transmission. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort on my part, probably cost a fair deal too.
    Guy:Well, you better get cracking, then. Can you give me a proposal?
    Mechanic: Well, since you’ve neglected it for so long, the whole thing’s screwed and because it really never worked very well in the first place, we’re going to have to rebuild it from the ground up.
    Guy: Great, that sounds wonderful. Please get to work asap…One thing, though, I want you to put this old broken gear box in there that I’ve had in my closet for a couple of decades.
    Mechanic: Hmm, that’s strange. Well, you’ll have a shiny new torque converter and your hydraulic ports will be squeaky-clean.
    Guy: Great, get what are you waiting for?
    Mechanic: Well, your car still won’t run.
    Guy: Tough it up buddy, “we are where we are”.

  9. Evan P. Thomas says:

    Section 16 in the IGA means that no involved party can alter the language of the IGA document without written consent from all other parties. Which is completely irrelevant. Again, you need to put your arguments in context of the entire document …

    The letter sent to Sarah Medary asked for the City’s opinion about the termination of the agreement in 2000. She researched it and responded accordingly. In a situation where the nature of the contract is defined by intent and indication, not by formality, you don’t have anything that you can “prove” against the City or the University. So you’re not going to get Lari to do anything, the only thing you could potentially do is sue.

    Now, I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you sue on the grounds that intent was not made clear while both parties that dictate the said intent are claiming that it was, you’re going to lose.

    This is a situation where the opinion of City Lawyers is pretty paramount.

    In many ways, Lariviere is correct, you need to be more forward thinking. You are not going to succeed in making the University comply with expired or irrelevant agreements (as indicated by multiple parties involved with the agreements). What you should be doing is trying to come up with a new proposal. Which he could very well ignore and/or shoot down. But it’s going to be a lot more efficient use of time.

  10. CJ says:

    Hey Evan,
    Since you “know things,” did you guys ever figure out who is actually the custodian of the ASUO Senate listserv?

  11. Zach Hater says:

    HEY nike urbanized duk aka zach vishanoff, COnnecting Eugene did reach out to City leaders, County leaders, and local legislators. They did have meetings and information sessions, with these individuals.

    How about some advice for you. Get a helmet so when you keep crashing on your shitty longboard you don’t get even crazier.

  12. Evan P. Thomas says:

    Allen– nevermind, I found it. It’s an exhibit to the IGA document.

    It also doesn’t do you any good, and I see there’s a reason you didn’t quote the second half of IX.A:
    “This review shall be held at the request of the developer(s), City or the University.”

    Meaning: it’s not a review for the public to chime in about what they think is right, it’s basically a metaphoric insurance policy for the three parties involved to make sure that the Project is in compliance with the Master Plan. YOU don’t get to request a review, they do.

    Furthermore, the review only checks compliance with land transfer conditions and Master Development plan (, as you cited. And, conveniently, that is defined in the very same document,
    “III.B. This Master Development Plan shall be approved by the University as directed by the President prior to implementation.”

    So the the argument about non-compliance with review not only is taken out of context as to who can request it, but it also doesn’t affect Lariviere at all. Essentially the review would be to confirm that party’s are following the plan that was approved by Lariviere, which doesn’t do much good for ConnectingEugene…

    Now, I don’t really fault you guys for misunderstanding the documents, because they’re wordy and confusing sometimes, but you really need to formulate your arguments in context. One line of a document can be significantly misconstrued without reading the rest of the document (this is pretty much the entirety of the practice of statutory law…).

    (Just as a side note, I ABSOLUTELY think Lari should give student voice and panel review, and I think he’s shooting himself in the foot by not doing so, but he is absolutely not legally obligated to do so.)

  13. Dinosaurs lived 6000 years ago says:

    The City Attorney was asked for his opinion. He provided it. It is simply that – an opinion. Lawyers have “opinions” all the time that differ from the truth. Some very prominent lawyers even had the opinion the OJ was innocent.

    Indeed, Evan’s opinions are based on more research than the City Attorney’s.

    In the document Evan references, the City Attorney tried to conclude that the Riverfront Research Park Commission (which still stands in City Code 2.220) was dissolved in 1993 – even though the City and the President appointed members of this committee for 7 more years, held official searches for the position, and advertised the meetings and appointments in the newspaper – most likely paid for by City dollars.

    In my opinion, the City Attorney’s opinion ain’t worth much on this matter.

  14. Amend this says:

    Section 16 of the IGA

    “No amendment or variation of the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall be valid unless the same is in writing and signed by all of the parties”

  15. Evan P. Thomas says:

    I’m a UO Student Senator. And I know things because I research them. Public record is a wonderful thing. 🙂

  16. UO Matters says:

    Who is Evan Thomas, and why does he seem to know more about this than the UO’s General Counsel does?

  17. Evan P. Thomas says:

    Allen– do you have a copy or URL of that document I may look at?

    And, just for people’s reference, I found the documentation from the City Confirming the termination of IGA:
    ” … the City Attorney concluded that the 1986 IGA is no longer in effect.” – Sarah Medary, Assistant City Manager

    “The 1986 IGA continued indefinitely unless one of more of the parties ‘indicates its intention to withdraw.’ If the IGA had provided that the agreement would continue indefinitely until one of the parties gave written notice that the part was terminating the agreement, then the above actions would be insufficient to terminate the agreement. However, the 1986 IGA did not use that language; instead, the agreement stated it would end if any of the parties expressed such intention. The actions described above, I believe, demonstrate such an intention. Consequently, I conclude that the 1986 IGA is no longer in effect.

    Finally, as noted above, the 1986 IGA did not provide that the parties had to mutually agree that the agreement should be terminated. Instead, it provided that any party could terminate the agreement by indicating its intent to withdraw. In the University’s Novermber 23rd letter to Sarah Mendary, the University stated that the University indicated such intent in 2000. That intent by itself was sufficient to terminate the 1986 IGA.” – Glenn Klein, City Attorney

    That second paragraph is effectively what I said in my last paragraph of my previous post.

    The Attorney later explains why there was confusion about the “active” status of the IGA, because city recorder’s office likely never received knowledge that the agreement had ended, because no formal withdraw was required. But just because the recorder’s office doesn’t receive information does not change the nature of the contract.

  18. nike urbanized duk says:

    If the rocket scientists steering the ConnectingEugene entity had a clue they would have been more strategic and engaged Lane County and the City of Eugene leaders in discussion and leveraged them before they set out on a David vs Goliath showdown with La(whatever his damn name is). Lane County would have been really useful……the only fight now is CE and faculty Senate vs L man. CE has some EGOs on board who only consider strategy ideas of pointy headed architects…….Czikio is the exception. At least CE has him. ORI could not have launched in a town with a REAL network of journalists present…..the presence of such a vast cesspool of sports mousketeers and marketers means bad projects and undisclosed partners win…whether they are sporty or not.

  19. Allen says:

    The focus of the conversation at the Senate meeting and in this blog has centered around the Intergovernmental Agreement. However, this is not the only contractual obligation that the Senate resolution has asked the administration to demonstrate compliance.

    The University was granted authority by the Sate Board of Higher education in 1985 to develop state owned land in partnership with the City of Eugene under the terms of a Land Transfer Conditions for the Riverfront Research Park (a year before the IGA).

    Section II A:
    “The City of Eugene and the University of Oregon shall jointly select developer(s) for the Project.”

    Section IX:
    A. The progress of the Project shall be reviewed near the completion of each increment of the Project…

    B. The review shall consider the conformity of the Project to the land transfer conditions and the Master Development Plan. It shall be conducted jointly by the City and the University…

    C. No further increment of the Project shall be made available for development until both the City and the University notify the developer(s) that the review has been favorable.

    None of these conditions have been followed. Paul and I asked the city manager in person about this and he told us the city has had no involvement with selecting developers or reviewing the project.

    So the University has violated the underlying conditions by which the Research Park was founded. One of the most important unanswered questions that was submitted to Lariviere:

    By what authority has the University been granted the right to develop state land into the Research Park unilaterally and without public review?

    This question is even more relevant if, indeed, the IGA was dissolved.

  20. CJ says:

    Q: Who would win in a fight between Dick River and a ninja?
    A: Trick question. Dick River IS a ninja.

  21. Evan P. Thomas says:

    “3. Duration. This Agreement shall be of indefinite duration
    unless one or more parties indicates its intention to withdraw.
    A change by City in the Ordinance which is unacceptable bv
    the other parties will be deemed a notice of intent by City to
    withdraw.” -IGA

    “Jenny Ulum stated that she believes that a termination of the Intergovernmental Agreement would be a win-win situation. … their goal should be to make a recommendation.” – RRP Commission Minutes, 12/8/99

    “Jim Johnson stated that the Commissioners terms actually expire on December 21, 1999, and since it appears that the Commission will be dissolved, the City Councilors don’t need to spend time nominating names to replace the current Commissioners. … He believes based on conversations with the Mayor and councilors, that they will accept the Commission’s advice.” – RRP Commission Minutes, 12/8/99

    “In the course of our most recent deliberation and upon reflection on the above, it has become apparent that the Intergovernmental Agreement no longer serves the best interests of the University of Oregon and the City of Eugene. The Riverfront Research Park Commission, therefore, recommends the termination of this agreement. Related to this, we also recommend the dissolution of our commission.” – Letter from RRPC to Frohnmayer, Torrey, City Council, 12/10/99

    No new Commissioners were nominated or hired in 2000.

    “As the Commission’s letter sets forth, it is clear that the members have reached the conclusion that we modify how to proceed after thoughtful analysis and deliberation. This appears to be a reasonable recommendation … ” – Letter from Frohnmayer to Torrey and ECC

    On 6/5/00, a new IGA was drafted (ie: the modification) called the Urban Renewal Agency. It replaced the previous IGA. It is cited: “The University of Oregon is assuming all responsibility for development loans in the Riverfront Research Park. … The URA will then discharge all obligations with respect to the administration, management of use of these grant contract fund.”

    IE: The new agreement replacing the old IGA transfers all monetary authority to the UO administration. Meaning that can do whatever they want.

    Citations pretty well indicate (which is the wording) that the first IGA was terminated. However, even if it wasn’t, Lariviere has certainly made that indication in the last few months, and obviously finds the City Ordinance to be unacceptable. So regardless of whether it was terminated in 2000, or if it was terminated in 2010, it is terminated.

  22. Steven A. McAllister says:

    I must admit I snickered as well. The President basically said “I’m not answering an questions. There, I answered all the questions! Go Ducks!” That’s hilarious stuff right there, and we got it on camera.

    The issue, Mr. Thomas, is that the University IS still a part of the Intergovernmental Agency Agreement, which DOES legally require community input on the development process. Until Lariviere’s administration provides substantial proof that the overview committee required by City Codes 2.220-2.226 was actually, legally dissolved (and we’ve been able to find no evidence that such a thing would even be legal), than we have no choice but to assume that the University is violating that Agreement. Lariviere can pretend all he want that the onus is on us to prove that the public meeting to dissolve the committee didn’t happen, but you can’t prove a negative; he represents an institution that claims to have dissolved a contract, so HE must provide proof that it did.

  23. Evan P. Thomas says:

    As much as Lari is being kind of… difficult, his paperwork backs up his note, as well as his reasoning. I have very little idea why he is opposed to student inclusion, but he is not legally obligated to it: obviously he doesn’t want to flat out tell students and faculty that he doesn’t want their involvement because that pretty effectively paints him as the “bad guy,” so he was politicking. But I don’t think he was politicking to avoid legality that he has broken, mainly politicking to avoid flat out admitting that he’s being, again… difficult.

    Perhaps, if Lari is so focused on the future, Connecting Eugene, the Student Senate and the UO Senate can focus their efforts on drafting a new agreement/resolution that includes student involvement (which, keep in mind, does not mean students will get what they want, but it’s a step), instead of asking Lari to comply with an old agreement that the University is no longer a part of.

  24. zstarmac says:

    This is actually a really accurate description of the meeting.
    No exaggeration.
    Facts (about if public meetings have been held, etc) were treated as opinions.
    It was bizarre and disturbing to say the least.

  25. Allen says:

    Thanks for covering Lariviere’s “response.” I’ll confess to being one who chuckled when he said that the questions had already been answered. I helped write the questions and I can guarantee you they have not been answered. I can also guarantee you that there wasn’t ever a public hearing–I’ve been tracking this issue closely for nearly two years. If there had been a hearing, wouldn’t the legal counsel or the director of the Research Park provided this as evidence to Lariviere long ago to shut us up?

    What’s sad to me is how Lariviere’s actions undermine efforts to build trust between the administration and faculty/students–his behavior places a toll on the University community in ways that are hard to quantify but very real.

  26. UO Matters says:

    Damn. This is sure a depressing post for anyone who cares about UO’s future.

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