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Slant: Longtime writer Tom Giesen's Celebration of Life, arts grants and government transitions

• Close on the heels of the news that conservative Councilor George Poling was stepping down from the Eugene City Council, longtime conservative Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart announced his departure from the Board of Commissioners. Appointments for replacements will be made in April, and the replacements will probably reflect their predecessor’s right-leaning values, but here’s to hoping that these transitions leave some openings for electing progressives who prioritize the environment, human rights and helping those in need. 

• The Trump administration is making the Watergate scandal look like a tempest in a teapot. How much longer can the Teflon Cheeto hold on? 

• Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, former state treasurer, is a political leader we’re watching with hopeThe Oregonian reported recently that he led a group of mayors, mostly from the Portland area, to lobby the Legislature on help for the homeless. Wheeler’s message: “Local government in America right now is the dumping ground for all of society’s problems. To be honest, we’re not going to take it anymore.”

 

Tom Giesen’s byline showed up frequently in Eugene Weekly over the years, usually addressing the looming specter of climate change on our letters and opinion pages. His family tells us Giesen’s byline will appear no more. Giesen passed away March 4. Giesen was an adjunct research associate in the University of Oregon’s Public Planning, Policy and Management Department and had master’s degrees in forest ecology and creative writing. Giesen’s Celebration of Life will be noon-3 pm Saturday, April 15, at the McKenzie River Ecolodge in Vida. His family tells us, “We will have brownies and cheese, his favorites, and invite anyone who would like to attend to share stories of him with all of us. People are also invited to bring food to share, if they like. We may be outdoors a bit and walk down to the river so folks should dress accordingly.”

• The Oregon Arts Commission this week announced $25,670 in grants to Eugene arts organizations. Recipients include Lane Arts Council, $6,000 to support Fiesta Cultural; Eugene Symphony, $7,000 for a program to bring music to people who experience barriers to cultural participation; Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras, $5,700 for its String Academy program; and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, $6,970 for the Club de Arte para Mamás (Mothers’ Art Club). About a third of the arts commission’s funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, which President Trump’s proposed budget would abolish.

• It’s encouraging to see the Home Energy Score program get attention and funding in Eugene. The national initiative is being pursued locally by the UO Office of Sustainability and its Director Steve Mital, who is also an EWEB commissioner.  Mital talked about his Home Energy Score Pilot Program Partnership at a recent monthly meeting of the Eugene Sustainability Commission. UO students have completed 93 out of 240 assessments of Eugene rental homes with the purpose of scoring energy efficiency. Portland last year adopted a Home Energy Score Policy that quantifies residential energy efficiency for buyers and sellers, and also requires disclosure to renters at time of lease. Eugene renters “are often unaware of energy costs” when they move in, Mital says. They find out later when they get their power bills. Awareness and disclosure, he says, can encourage thousands of landlords to do energy upgrades and allow potential renters to make more informed decisions. The city of Eugene provided $10,000 toward cost of the local pilot program.