Sunday, April 5, 2009

Earl Blumenauer

Lewis and Clark is a place where ordinary people become legends. Earl Blumenauer graduated from the same grounds that we walk on 38 years ago with a major in political science. At the age of 24 he ran and won a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. Ever since then he has worked his way up through politics. In 1992 he lost his bid for mayor of Portland, however this turned out to be a stroke of luck because a US congress seat opened up afterwards which he won. He has been there ever since.

During this time he has taken a leading role in advocating action against climate change and bicycling as an alternative means of transportation. While many congressmen still sport their American flag pins, Blumenauer shows off a bicycle pin. The Wall Street Journal once commented that Blumenaer's “congressional office is one of the few – if not the only one – that didn't even apply for a parking permit. On occasion, Mr. Blumenauer has cycled to the White House. On Mr. Blumenauer's first visit, the Secret Service, more accustomed to limousines, was flummoxed at the sight of his bicycle.” He is one of only a handful of congressmen to vote against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War.

This past week in a heated debate on the floor of Congress he called out Republicans for fabricating numbers on climate change. In a moment of political passion he called the Republican claim that climate legislation would cost every American $3,100 a “canard” and “outright incorrect” based on the same MIT study the Republicans cite. He has recently been rewarded for his bike advocacy with the passage of the Bike Commuter Act, which pays people $20 a month to bike to work. (wouldn't it be nice if the LC administration followed in his footsteps and offered $20 a month for students to bike to school?)

At a college whose legacy into the foray of politics is usually only referenced to blow jobs and Monica Lewinsky, it is nice to see someone making a difference.

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