The idea of using found objects in art goes back to the beginning of the modern era, more than a hundred years ago, when Marcel Duchamp entered a porcelain urinal signed “R.Mutt” to be exhibited at the Grand Central Palace in New York City.
• Mike McGinn just announced that he is running again to be mayor of Seattle. A former staffer for Congressman Jim Weaver of Eugene, McGinn came out of the environmental movement to be elected mayor for one term, only to lose when he ran for a second. His first priority: “We must house the homeless.”
• Fake news! An error at the printer meant our Satire Issue didn’t get marked with the April 1 date at the bottom of the page that we had planned to mark April Fools Day. Whoops. Still, even the online stories marked as “satire” had some readers believing we wanted to actually boil dogs and that the University of Oregon football team was complaining about its fancy digs. Check your sources!
If you were dismissive, as we were, of the recent rumor that Oregon’s own Art Robinson could be named Trump’s science advisor, you might read Jane Mayer’s brilliant article in the March 27 New Yorker on “Trump’s Money Man.” That’s Robert Mercer, “a reclusive hedge fund tycoon” who rivals the Koch brothers for bankrolling extreme-right politicians. Mercer has funded Robinson in his several failed efforts to beat our Congressman Peter DeFazio. After reading this shocking article, it is clear that
• 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.
• When the president of your country talks violently about women, what message does that send? That was one of the niggling questions that came out of the March 10 City Club of Eugene program on “Cruelty to Women, Here and Now.” Rachel Collins of Womenspace and Dr. Don Davies from the McKenzie River Men’s Center rolled out the cruel data: One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes; more than nine percent of our homeless are there because of domestic violence; globally, more deaths result from domestic violence than from wars. What to do about it?
• Rumor has it that The Register-Guard is laying off another 20 employees. The toll this time includes reporter Lillian Schrock, who was let go Friday, and newsroom veteran Diane Dietz, who got laid off on Tuesday. Dietz has bulldogged the leadership chaos and financial shenanigans at the University of Oregon for years.
• When Trump was elected in November, who could have imagined that a few short months later The New York Times would be running full-page ads in its first section in the defense of truth? The lead ad on Feb. 26 said only “Truth. It’s more important now than ever.” And who could have imagined that former President George W. Bush’s defense of the free press in a democracy would strike such a chord across this country? Yet another heartening note comes from a Feb 16-21 Quinnipiac University survey of 1,323 voters.
• 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.
• Did you miss 350 Eugene’s Feb. 3, non-violent direct action training? No problem, EW will keep you informed about opportunities to get involved as Lane County responds to the Trump presidency. Eugene/Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN) will host a series of four free workshops on non-violent direct action on Saturdays in February and March. The lectures focus on how to plan and implement non-violent direct actions to make change with causes you care about.
• Downtown Eugene is a point of contention again, with some groups advocating for cleaning up the streets of “travelers” and transients through smoking and dog bans. Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark has even called for an additional small jail right near our planned new City Hall. More jails won’t solve the problem and bans just push people out to become someone else’s problem. We need more shelters. We need a day shelter. If you can’t tell someone to go home, at least give people somewhere to go.
• EW attended the Sunday, Jan. 29, rally at the federal courthouse downtown, a response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program for those seeking asylum from a list of seven Muslim nations. (Apparently Muslim is no longer a religious designation but a political one, which begs the question about the so-call Christians now in the White House.) Such a protest, which saw estimated crowds of 1,000 or more, is a right and proper democratic response to such xenophobic, unconstitutional nonsense, and it feels good to gather and vent.
• We note with sadness the death on Jan. 20 of Edwin Coleman, jazz musician, professor of English and outspoken civil rights advocate in Eugene. He died at age 84 from complications of flu. As a jazz guitarist, Coleman backed up such musicians as Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi and Peter, Paul and Mary. As a civil rights advocate he met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. As a professor at the University of Oregon, he stood for equality and tolerance, bringing his love of African-American literature, folklore and drama to generations of Oregon students.
• Let the games begin! Pete Sorenson’s announcement that this is his last four-year term as Lane County commissioner opens the floodgates for candidates to step up in his progressive South Eugene district. Not an easy job for a progressive, it does now pay $84,457 annually, making it the best political pay prospect in the county. We wonder if Andy Stahl will run again or if a smart, strong woman will try to join the current men’s club? Kudos to Pete for making this announcement four years out.
• Monday, Jan. 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” or his “I Have a Dream” speech and remind yourself of how far we have come and how very far we still have to go when it comes to race and racism in this country. The Eugene-Springfield NAACP says that the 2017 MLK Jr. March shaping up to be biggest to date, and as well it should. Black Lives Matter.
• Eugene got a windfall of sorts with a nearly $19 million Comcast payment from a fee for broadband services. Take $8.7 million of that payment and put it towards a new City Hall and suddenly the Eugene City Council has $27.45 million to play around with. Woohoo! Or wait, not so fast. The citizens of Eugene have a long history of not wanting to spend a bunch of cash on City Hall, and the city has a long history of making rash decisions about City Hall. More urgently than a fancy city hall, what this area needs is a good homeless shelter.
• “Community” and “neighborhood” have been the key words through the ice storm still bedeviling some of us. We were impressed by the Holiday Inn Express at Gateway in Springfield that allows pets to sign in with their owners. Twenty-three dogs, three cats and one rabbit settled into warm rooms rented at an emergency rate to their owners for the first night. Huge thanks, too, for the hard-working EWEB crews who have continued to be courteous and considerate to cranky climate refugees.
• Listening to Mayor Kitty Piercy give her farewell to the City Club of Eugene on Dec. 9 made us grateful that we live in this blue bubble in the wake of the recent presidential election. In recapping her 12 years as mayor, she laid out a progressive value system exactly the opposite of Donald Trump’s. She said it was her policy “to never take public potshots at anyone,” a policy designed to bring factions together to inch forward in a caring sustainable society.
• It’s time to celebrate the victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after the Department of the Army announced Dec. 4 that it will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Congratulations to Native Americans, allies, veterans (particularly Native veterans), who impressively gathered to stand up to the pipelines. As they, and we, celebrate this win in the fight for clean water and indigenous rights, celebrants are rightfully also cautious.
• Question of the day: Donald Trump or Mike Pence as the next president of the U.S.? If Trump is either impeached or resigns within the next two years, as some writers predict, would Pence be an improvement? Probably. After serving in Congress and as governor of Indiana, he understands our system of government and, presumably, respects it. His political positions are the opposite of ours, but we can vote him out.
• It was good to see Nike in the list of American companies urging Donald Trump not to abandon the Paris climate deal, “saying a failure by the United States to build a clean economy endangers American prosperity,” as The New York Times wrote it. And now we have U. S. military leaders putting out their concerns about climate change. We wonder if President-elect Trump has the capacity to understand that climate change is not a “hoax,” as he called it in the campaign?
• Spreading a little sunshine for the Earth post presidential election, we were delighted to see U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken decide in favor of 21 youth plaintiffs in their constitutional climate lawsuit against the president, federal agencies and the fossil fuel industry. The suit can now move forward in the courts.
We are in shock at the dawning of a Trump presidency and all that we stand to lose: Roe v. Wade, civil rights, immigration reform, media freedom, minority representation, climate change, the list goes on. The path to resistance becomes clear.