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Slant 2017-02-23

• A campaign already is coming together to take on County Commissioner Faye Stewart in the May 2018 election. James Barber, who lives in Walterville, handed out cards at the Feb. 17 City Club of Eugene meeting that say he’s a candidate for the East Lane county commission position with the slogan “Voice for the People.” Lots of energy there. Stewart is long entrenched in the conservative-leaning Lane County Commission, so this should be interesting.

• President Trump’s attacks on the media continue. He seeks to undermine reader confidence in the news and have his supporters take his word as gospel. That’s hard for us to swallow when he informs the public the “leaks are real” but “the news is fake” and tweets that legitimate news sources are “the enemy of the American People [sic]!” A hashtag has surfaced among journalists #NottheEnemy, but we heed the argument of Berkeley prof George Lakoff who says don’t repeat the framing of journalists as the “enemy.” Instead #ProtecttheTruth.

• Why do we continue to focus on the homeless “crisis” as if it were only in downtown Eugene? Homeless people are sleeping on porches nearly every night at 14th and Pearl and beyond. EW’s wooden bench is a bed some nights at 13th and Lincoln, and low-hanging branches are the roof for sleepers all over town. The “crisis” is so much broader than the doorways of the businesses in downtown Eugene, and the solution is not just to throw the unhoused out of downtown.

• Prof. Geoffrey Stone’s Feb. 17 talk on the University of Oregon campus was quite a bookend to the recent stories about Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart news editor disinvited to the University of California campus, who just lost a book deal and his job to his comments on pedophilia. Stone, who has been both the dean of the University of Chicago law school and provost of that university, talked about free speech on campus. Our takeaway was that neither academic freedom nor freedom of speech should be taken for granted. They are fragile freedoms in the current political climate. Yiannopoulos spoke at the UO campus in May 2016 via Young Americans for Liberty, and rumors have circulated on social media that he would be invited back again.

• Frank Lawson has been hit with major challenges, like the December ice storm, since the Eugene native became general manager of Eugene Water and Electric Board in May 2016. Speaking to the City Club of Eugene on Feb. 17, Lawson said Eugene is the largest city in the Northwest with a single source of water, the McKenzie River. His solution is a small modern plant on the upper Willamette River, the sooner the better (see EW’s Nov. 24 cover story “Water for Life”). He also said he doesn’t know of a great city without a great riverfront, and this is part of his thinking behind wanting to sell the EWEB building on the river to the city of Eugene. As to the Seneca biomass plant, Lawson said if that contract were on the table today, he would say no.But it’s a done deal and the “no” option is no longer on the table.