It’s over, finally. The historic “Made in Oregon” sign atop the White Stag building will no longer display those iconic words, but it won’t read “University of Oregon,” either. The dispute ended Wednesday morning when Commissioner Randy Leonard announced that the city had reached an agreement with the University of Oregon after a week of intense negotiations.
It’s over, finally. The historic “Made in Oregon” sign atop the White Stag building will no longer display those iconic words, but it won’t read “University of Oregon,” either.
The dispute ended Wednesday morning when Commissioner Randy Leonard announced that the city had reached an agreement with the University of Oregon after a week of intense negotiations.
The sign will soon simply read “Oregon,” in bright yellow, with the words “Old Town” and “Portland” below in a green box. It’s a compromise, and one that all Oregonians should be able to live with. The UO got Duck colors and a prime spot on a nearby water tower to paint a large “O,” and every other university in the state won’t feel as if the city was playing favorites.
We applaud the city and the UO for putting this somewhat petty issue to rest while avoiding expensive litigation and setting a dangerous precedent by actually following through with the threat of using eminent domain to gain control of the sign.
Leonard’s gripe with the UO’s desire to change the sign to read “University of Oregon” reached a boiling point last week when he introduced an ordinance that would have used eminent domain law to wrest control of the sign away from the university and give the city permission to purchase the sign from Ramsay Signs, which has owned the Portland icon since its installation in 1940.
Not only does the compromise allow the sign—which many argue is the closest thing Portland has to a Golden Gate Bridge or Space Needle—to serve all Oregonians, it also ensures that eminent domain law will not be used to serve a cause that, while rife with strong emotions, is, in the end, frivolous.
We feel that while it was undesirable to give the UO such a prominent spot in the city’s landscape, the entire ordeal soon began to seem foolish compared to the serious issues now facing Portland, including the continued fallout of the economic recession.
The city and the university reached the best possible conclusion given the circumstances. It would have been disastrous for this issue to waste city time and resources for the next year.
However, it must be noted that the UO and its president, David Frohnmayer, gravely underestimated the attachment Portlanders have to the sign and its message. Their refusal to compromise before Leonard introduced the threat of eminent domain smacks of arrogance and an unfortunate misunderstanding of the city that, despite a modest presence for decades, is not their home.
Now that the sign hubbub has been put to rest, we urge all parties involved to refocus their resources and energy on the very serious issues facing all of us. There are plenty to choose from: drastic state and local budget cuts, rising unemployment, skyrocketing tuition costs—if the ardor surrounding the fate of the sign were transferred to any of these problems, we would all be in better shape.