• What about that flat fee measure that is expected to be on Eugene’s May ballot, competing with other money measures? We’re trying to keep an open mind, waiting to hear all the arguments. But as a very practical matter, maybe the city should take another look at the measure considering that the fee is opposed by both Mike Clark, the most conservative member of the City Council, and Betty Taylor, the most liberal member of the council. If elements of both the left and right rally to oppose this measure (and we hear the left is already organizing) that’s not a good sign for passage. A more progressive version of this measure might have a better chance of voter approval.
• Bonny Bettman McCornack’s column Feb. 7 generated some good letters about city taxes and fees. Keep them coming. When McCornack was on the City Council she pushed for numerous reforms to improve city finances, such as bringing city legal services in-house. She called for more transparency and an independent performance auditor. She insisted tax breaks for developers were bad economic policy, and a recent nationwide analysis of tax incentives by The New York Times validated her concerns (see Slant, 12/6/12). McCornack tells us she appreciates feedback. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Our Feb. 14 “Gay Friendly?” article about the difficulty of Eugene’s gay male dating scene certainly struck a nerve. Responses ranged from, “It’s what’s driving me towards graduation. I need to get out into a city with queer spaces,” to “Who cares, move to Portland, Seattle or San Francisco if the climate here isn’t hospitable enough,” to “I really don’t want to hear or read about homosexual activity of any kind.” Several readers point out the financial aspect: “There would be more gay bars or gay places if patrons supported them.”
A letter to the editor this week states that EW missed that “There is a movie group, a men’s potluck group, a sports group and every Wednesday at Cowfish a regular meet-up.” However, several sources under 30 in the gay community say they don’t feel comfortable going to these groups that cater to older men. Lesbians have also expressed frustration; one woman explains, “It does not feel safe being leered at and mocked by drunks,” at a monthly lesbian bar dance.
So, what’s going on Eugene? Two things are certain: Eugene still has far to go to make minority groups feel safe, and EW will not stop writing about any group of people, even if it makes some readers uncomfortable.
• Steve Wright, recently retired CEO of Bonneville Power Administration, spoke to City Club of Eugene Feb. 15 and invited young people “to come into this industry.” BPA, with 3,100 employees, has “huge turnover” and they need engineers, economists, biologists, environmental specialists and more. Wright said internships are available through a process similar to federal programs. His advice: Go to the website. Remember, too, the challenge ahead to “merge economic success and ecological health” for the public utility that provides 40 percent of the energy used in Oregon.
• Will our local legislators step up with a bill to protect Waldo Lake from floatplanes? We asked that question in Slant two weeks and we heard this week from Sen. Floyd Prozanski who tells us, “Yes. Sen. Lee Beyer, Rep. Paul Holvey and I are co-chief sponsors of SB 602 that will outright prohibit motor-propelled craft on Waldo Lake.” An amendment is being considered that would allow electric motors. Prozanski notes that 21 other lakes in Oregon have this protection. “We started working on the bill in January and it is worth noting that 16 other senators and 18 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.” he says. Good to hear.
• It’s great to see the long-awaited Nobel Peace Park taking shape in Alton Baker Park on the north side of the DeFazio Bicycle Bridge. We hear the individual Nobel laureate plaques will be installed soon. One Oregonian, Linus Pauling, will be among the Americans honored.
• We heard about a funny glitch at a February dance at a Eugene middle school. The DJ plugged his iPhone into the sound system for the jumpin’ sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. But every time he got a text message, the music stopped. How did the kids react? They yelled, of course. “Airplane mode” appears to be the solution of choice, allowing use a smart phone for music or games without being connected to web or phone service. You can also disable alerts. Rock on without interruption.