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Slant 5-31-2012

• The band Garden Goat has gone unplugged, thanks to some help from local law enforcement officials who confiscated the group’s instruments last week. We can only conclude that the Eugene police are strong advocates for acoustic music, given their response to a noise complaint at The Venue on 14th and Willamette that resulted in the seizure of Garden Goat’s instruments and gear. EPD doesn’t seem to be giving the stuff back, either, despite pleas from the band members.

Garden Goat had nothing to do with the misdemeanor charges doled out to Eugene resident Edgar Noe Lopez, who allegedly sold alcohol without a license at The Venue. The group remains without the electric guitars and sound equipment needed to play shows. Surely there are better ways to express a love for acoustic music. Perhaps the EPD is planning to start up a rock band? We hear there’s a fundraiser for the band in the works.


 •  What’s with the Oregonians for Higher Education Excellence PAC? Money is pouring into it from high rollers: a cash contribution from Phil Knight of $65,000; Charles Lillis (yes, like Lillis Hall) and Pat Kilkenny ponied up that same amount each. The PAC was reportedly launched in March by Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, who chipped in $62,500; the PAC’s treasurer is Carol Russell of C & A Consulting. Russell is a Bandon cranberry grower and is an Oregonians for Food and Shelter board member. OFS is known for its pro-pesticide stance. So we have a corporate, big agriculture group swiftly raising money for “higher education.” Is this the UO’s next board of directors if the institution goes solo? 

Boyle told Portland alt-weekly Willamette Week that the new group “is interested in seeing the legislature and the Oregon University System cede autonomy more quickly to the system’s seven campuses, which have seen their financial contributions from the state shrink far faster than their authority to govern themselves has grown.” We don’t think it means good news for the school’s more left-leaning bent and important programs like environmental studies. 


• Rather than passing electronic reader boards warning them of construction and traffic changes, drivers heading down Washington and Jefferson Streets early in the morning of May 24 passed boards that had been hacked to say: “Dig up your lawn …  and grow food,” and “Kill your Facebook.” Ironically, the pictures of the signs have been posted all over Facebook, but we like the sentiments anyway. Step away from your computer; go outside; grow your own food!


Things continue with the crazy over at the county. We’ve heard that despite being locked out of his office while the Department of Justice conducts an investigation, Commissioner Rob Handy is still doggedly doing his job, answering emails, checking voicemails and meeting with citizens, just not in his office. Is someone going to do something about the nonstop attacks from the right on the progressive commissioners? Or have the attacks scared people away from taking on the big money and developers in Lane County? We’re hoping that the anger against Faye Stewart over the mining of scenic Parvin Butte and the anti-environment, anti-human services moves the conservative commission has been making mean the local green and progressive scene is going to put up some good candidates for Stewart’s and Bozievich’s seats in the next election. Occupy Lane County government?


Safety concerns for smart meters are a big deal for many Eugeneans, particularly those of us concerned about adding to the electromagnetic field (EMF) and radio frequency (RF) radiation that we are exposed to by everything from cell phones to wi-fi to wires in our walls. It’s wise that EWEB is going forward very cautiously with smart meters, and in big part that’s due to vocal community input. What we like about the concept of smart meters and time-of-day-based billing is that it’s a serious move toward conservation. As customers become more conscious of their energy consumption, many will adjust their habits accordingly. 

Lane Electric Co-op installed its 13,000 smart meters in 2006 (hard-wired through power lines) and will never go back. Dave D’Avanzo of Lane Electric tells us tracking customers’ energy consumption remotely as it happens makes their operations much more efficient, cuts response time for outages, and can lead to significantly reduced household costs. The utility now offers no-deposit “pay as you go” accounts for thrifty customers who can track their consumption online daily and cut back if it looks like they will exceed their budget. Next, the utility is starting a pilot program that will allow remote control of water heaters, turning them off for a few hours between demand times, potentially saving lots of energy and money.