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Slant 6-28-2012

• Lane County Commissioners voted on a tight and ugly budget on June 25. The vote, like so many of the board’s votes these days, was 3-2 with the conservative majority for it and the liberal minority against it. Commissioner Jay Bozievich trotted out the same-old same-old about wanting to cut more trees on public lands. We’d ask him about that tired old anti-environmental stance, but he’s told us he’ll only talk to EW if we file a public records request. But the county policy recently has been to charge even for researching a public records request. We’d like some innovation in county funding, but charging for government transparency is not the way to go. Why doesn’t the county look to Commissioner Rob Handy’s proposal to go to the Legislature to raise the absurdly low taxes on private timberlands? The reason, of course, is that conservatives on the county board are in the pockets of the timber industry. Let’s work on getting some better commissioners elected.

• Too bad for all of us that the American Civil Liberties Union office in Eugene is closing in September. Because of budget cuts, Claire Syrett left in May and Bonnie Souza will be leaving in September. Dave Fidanque, ACLU state director, said it all in his invitation to their “thank you” party June 27: “Please help celebrate their dedication and accomplishments for civil liberties and civil rights in Oregon.” We look forward to the day when that office can reopen in Eugene. We need it.

• EWEB has decided to put its smart meter program on hold for a couple of years and that’s good news. The technology is constantly improving and the utility has lots of other big projects and concerns in the works. Families for Safe Smart Meters can probably take some credit for the delay, but we’re not sure all their concerns are justified. We’ve been hearing horror stories about electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation for 30 years and the science is inconclusive and contradictory. Liberal Ashland has come up with a solution of sorts regarding its smart meters: Customers who are hypersensitive or worried about exposure to electrical devices can opt out without paying any extra fees to have their old meters read manually.

What’s going on inside the R-G? We blogged last weekend that Chief Operating Officer David F. Pero is no longer on staff and his LinkedIn profile confirms that his five-plus-year reign has ended. The last day his name graced the top of the Opinion section was Friday, June 22, but no word of his departure so far in the daily, nor clues to what comes next. Seems unlikely that the Baker family will resume managing the daily operations in these challenging times for print media.

How has Portland dealt with its homeless population? Portland Commissioner Nick Fish oversees the city’s Housing Bureau and spoke at City Club June 22 outlining Portland’s innovative and comprehensive efforts to get more people out of the cold. He talked about preventing homelessness as the “best and most cost-effective strategy,” the need to “marry housing and services,” and the importance of “wet beds” — housing for people who are active alcoholics and drug addicts. The big lesson here for Eugene (and Lane County) is that it’s cheaper over time to provide or subsidize housing for the homeless than it is to fund all the costs associated with police intervention, courts, jail beds, ambulances and emergency rooms.

• Congrats to Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy for winning the 2012 Lynne Angland Award for “contributions to the improvement of child care in Oregon.” The award was presented by the Oregon Commission for Child Care last week in Portland. Piercy has served on the Oregon Commission for Child Care since 1996 when she was a state representative. Part of her ongoing work has been on affordable child care that she says is “key to the employment and economic well-being of Oregon families.”

• The final home game of the Eugene Metro Fútbol Club’s Azul team will be at 2 pm (note the earlier time) Saturday, June 30, at South Eugene High School, vs. Emerald City. The inaugural season of this women’s premier soccer league is wrapping up and we’re pleased to see the big turnout of excited fans. Follow the Azul on Facebook or check out www.emfc.org