1059 Willamette: Carrots, Sticks, and White Supremacy in Eugene, Oregon
Dear City Council,
Thank you for asking for feedback on a development project your staff has facilitated during a time of great financial, physical, and emotional hardship for many: 1059 Willamette.
What we see here is a further application of a system of Carrots and Sticks. This development project is a “carrot” for a few wealthy capitalists, landowners, and developers and a stick to the thousands who comprise our community.
As you know, the “Sticks and Carrots System” of management works under the larger idea that it is necessary for a “manager” to motivate other human beings toward their project ends. We’ll get back to that contextual narrative later.
Today, here, in Eugene, Oregon, it is you, City Council, who wield the systematized power of carrots and sticks. Loosely put, we might categorize these as punishments or rewards.
According to the popular myth, these “punishments” and “rewards” are bestowed based on the “right” or “wrong” actions of individuals as determined by the authority, in this case you.
In theory then, when someone is punished, it is because of what they did. And when someone is rewarded, it is because of what they did. It’s the fabled, “meritocracy.” Those who are meretricious are rewarded and “rise.” And those who “lack merit” are punished and fall. Within a racist and sexist culture, founded in white, settler colonialism, this “meritocracy,” as we know, leans very heavily racist and sexist.
Council’s use of sticks and carrots might be summed into “policing” and “development.” Both the carrots and sticks reflect a racial bias, where people of color are disproportionately punished, and white people are disproportionately rewarded. We see that again in the Riverfront development and here for the 1059 Willamette project.
I am going to leave aside the very damaging system of punishments you currently employ, that we will discuss in the so-called “Community Safety Initiative” and instead, here, focus on how a racially biased system of rewards also negatively punishes the wider community. In a sense, the “carrot” given to the few becomes the “stick” experienced by many.
1059 Willamette is an Annuity Scam
In total, the 1059 Willamette Development is an Annuity Scam, promising a “set return” in so-called “affordable housing” for a limited period of time as a return on a terminal investment of a real asset, property.
Annuities are ways in which the powerful gobble up “real property” from the powerless. They are used against the elderly, a carrot in the face of the stick, destitution and death. Annuities were the carrot offered to Indigenous People, legitimizing their forced dislocation from their lands in the face of genocidal violence.
Annuities are always ways in which the economically and politically powerful take advantage and profit from another’s relative powerlessness and fear.
Traditionally, annuities are forced by way of a rock and a hard place, offering a temporary boon, in exchange for a long term loss, the cost of which the exploited are unlikely to see because. . . death. It’s frankly gross that you, intelligent, financially savvy individuals should be trying to sell us, the community of Eugene, an annuity, where — as you know — our supposed temporary gain spells our own long term loss.
That aside for the moment, let’s look the number of carrots you, as City Council, are giving away to singularly white, rich, private interests and simultaneously stealing from the diverse community at large — an economic stick.
Carrot #1: $13.7 Million Dollars
This is the wealth transfer of the publicly owned property at 1059 Willamette, valued at $$6,887,899. Council swings to rich, white, private interests a net gain of $6,887,899 while forcing a net loss of -$6,887,899 taken from the entire community for a total of $13.7 Million.
Assets are investments. You could sell 1059 Willamette and “invest” the money elsewhere in the community. You could invest the value of 1059 Willamette into the new development and then the City of Eugene would be shareholders. The city then would retain its “asset” and participate in profit sharing as part owners. However, you want the people of Eugene to accept “giving away money.” No wealth manager would ever suggest that to any client. I’m pretty sure a wealth manager could be sued for such actions, which would be seen as ethically corrupt.
Carrot #2: $2.2 Million
$2.2 Million reflects the swing of + $1,100,000 to benefit rich, white, private developers which then is also -$1,100,000 stripped from the development of infrastructure for the rest of the community.
“The City/Urban Renewal Agency has made $1.1M of public funds available to support the 1059 Willamette redevelopment.”
1059 Willamette also apart of a Pyramid Scheme
It should be pointed out that City/Urban Renewal District sits on top of funds gathered through a further tax scheme that funnels City-wide property taxes toward the Urban Renewal District. The Urban Renewal District is a long running “wealth transfer” pyramid scheme that directs tax money downtown to the benefit of downtown landowners, who instituted the scheme. Tax money from the entire city is earmarked for downtown projects and directed to political insiders and landowners.
These community funds develop the infrastructure and land values in downtown, and thereby increase the values of those land holdings and the individual wealth. Those individuals themselves have been advantaged by initial settler colonialism, railroad land grabs and graft, and the violent dislocation of Indigenous people, as well as the advantages gained through racist exclusionary laws.
In an economy where those with the most have both economic and political advantage, the wealthy prosper and everyone else experiences relative and even life threatening decline. The outcome of your top-down economics, which isn’t “trickle down” but in fact, as we see with 1059 Willamette, “flow up” economics is both physical and social dislocation and ghettoization. You, City Council, are the facilitators of this economic and cultural failure.
Carrot #3: $4 Million (approx.) swing in tax forgiveness.
A gain of +$2,000,000 in MUPTE tax forgiveness given to private developers is also a net loss of -$2,000,000 in taxes tax revenue for services in the community, from which the developer themselves would benefit. Even within the pyramid scheme of the Urban Renewal District downtown, this is even another pyramid.
In the meantime, while wealthy white landowners downtown pay nothing, I, just outside of the downtown will be be paying $100,000 in taxes over the same ten years. I would like these taxes to go to humanitarian services; however, the City of Eugene will not provide those, but instead will funnel my money into their pyramid scheme downtown and at Riverfront. I don’t mind a decrease in my personal net value, if my community is strengthened, because that benefits me too. However, that is not what is happening now. Instead, private interests are strengthened. My taxes are passed, by you, City Council, into their hands.
In total, tax forgiveness benefits most those at the top, and provides a propaganda function: arguing money to the top is necessary so that they might bestow upon us a trickle down benefit that in fact does not exist. MUPTE is a propaganda tool that exchanges material wealth in exchange for empty promises, and one my City Council both voted for and continues to protect.
Carrot #4: Money Laundering
Wealthy investors in 1059 Willamette will be able to shield capital gains and pay zero capital gains tax via Trump Opportunity Zone. All investment funds will turn taxable capital gains into tax free profits. These funds do not benefit “distressed communities.” By laundering capital gains, they benefit the richest few.
Millions are stripped from the wider community in lost taxes in Eugene and Billions and even Trillions nationwide. As money laundering operations, Opportunity Funds usurp the already popular “tax shelter” of the 1031 Exchange. No need to even shelter capital gains anymore when you can simply invest in properties to launder those funds.
Understanding “Profitability” in the example of 1059 Willamette.
1. The Entirety of 1059 Willamette Investment is a carrot for the rich, as it shields capital gains tax. Millions of dollars of personal profit and community loss. The Developers of 1059 give nothing for over $17 Million, no ownership or profit sharing or even paying back the loan. All they give is an annuity scam. Profit, over $17 Million.
2. The entirety of the community asset, land and building worth over $6.5 Million is a capital gain for the rich and a capital loss for the community. Profit: $6.8 Million. Loss for Community: $6.8 Million plus interest and all further investment opportunities.
3. $1 Million in City tax money in infrastructure is a carrot for the rich, that they then control and “rent back” to us at a profit. The community provides the seed money for our own exploitation. Not only do they gain the investment of $1 Million, but they profit from it. Community loses $1 Million AND all profit forever.
4. The increase in proximal land values associated with the development is a carrot for the rich and furthers the relative ghettoization of the rest of the community. This, itself, furthers the continued consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few. This continual “advantage” system means the eventual impoverishment of everyone else.
5. The profits taken in “added value” from the development is a carrot for the rich and will be turned into further projects in public-private wealth transfer through tax schemes like, the money laundering Opportunity Zones or the tax shelter 1031 exchange.
Carrots for the Rich means wealth disparity and punishing economic loss for everyone else.
Carrot and Stick System Foundation
The Carrot and Stick System is founded on the premise that a few human beings must motivate many “others human beings” toward the project of the few, which is expanding control over territory.
Carrot and Stick System preserves White Power.
The Carrot and Stick system, while it might sound bad is actually euphemistic.
It “frames” two classes of human-animal: those who are controlled through carrots (ie, good people) and those controlled through sticks (ie, bad people). The frame omits those who constructed that narrative. The carrot and stick system is the heart of the “divide and rule” system.
The Carrot and Stick system defines the manager class and managed class. Carrot and Stick is a system of power, aligned with misogyny. A vast majority, defined by class, race, and sex, are in “need of management” by a ruling class. In the US and in Eugene, Oregon, this “management class” who give sticks to themselves, are predominately rich, male, and white. These are also the people who install our City Council to their seats through campaign contributions and other forms of influence.
A brief history of “sticks, carrots, and racism” in Eugene, Oregon.
Sticks and carrots are used to gain control of territory. In Eugene, Oregon, the stick was used to transfer territory from Indigenous people to white settlers. Today, the richest of those settlers expand control over those resources by consolidating and gobbling up smaller landholders. Bill Gates is an example of this territorial expansion. The project at 1059 Willamette is an example of this expansion of control of community resources by a small group for their own enrichment.
If we look at the history of the Sticks and Carrot System in Eugene, we will see a consistent pattern of racism and sexism. If we look at the distribution of material rewards today, like Riverfront development or 1059 Willamette, we will see the same racist and sexist patterns of the settler colonial state. What this means is that while one small group benefits, the other larger group is disadvantaged. When private interests gain, the larger community loses.
Understanding why our City Council transfers community wealth to a few, white, wealthy, private individuals.
City Councils are installed by individuals (often hidden by “front groups”) who contribute to their campaigns. Campaigns are designed to “sell” the candidate to the consumer, the voter. Whoever is “sold” the best, wins — and that takes money. The majority of those who contribute to our City Council’s campaign funds are Real Estate Professionals, large business owners and other capitalists who benefit from what is called “rent seeking.” These are all people who also receive “carrots” from City Council and Staff.
Those who “own” Eugene, benefit from all developments that raise the value of their properties, which they rent, exploiting smaller businesses who are also vying for carrots in regard to profitability.
The consumer/voter is preyed upon, sold the loss of publicly owned community resources in exchange for — in this case — a “rental contract.” That means our City Council exchanges “real” property, of material value, for a piece of paper, quite literally.
The exchange of millions of dollars of value for a limited rental contract is an absurd “return on investment.” Use this calculator to see just how bad it is.
Also, as small property owners are wealth depleted, paying taxes and receiving no benefit, they become more vulnerable to those few who are enriched. Income disparity creates a top down feeding frenzy from which both the small business owner and small property owner will finally be victimized along with all those who are “renters.”
In order to find some justice and equity in Eugene, Oregon must reverse the racism of Eugene’s history of white supremacy. At the least, you, City Council, must not distribute those carrots of development and sticks of policing in support of white supremacy.
Rather than expedite your racism, you must pause your process. Develop anti-racist and anti-classist systems, like California’s Tribal Consultation Policy or BIPOC controlled Community Land Trusts. Clearly, 1059 Willamette can be the Community Center we desperately need, an asset owned, as it is now, by every person in Eugene. I will personally work with you on developing that project. If you don’t like that idea, at the very least, have our investment of property, tax relief, and infrastructure work like a typical investment — and not an annuity — and have the community be equal shareholders who then retain value and share profits.
Thanks you for your attention to this matter,