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"Guest Viewpoint"

Eugene is a beautiful, sleepy town, a place where, to quote Garrison Keillor on his recent Prairie Home Companion rebroadcast, “People are more concerned with living well than getting ahead.” The city is many things: eco-activists fed on local organics flourishing alongside a swoosh-tattooed sports empire of sparkle and grandeur, a town whose seeming ’60s Bohemianism is often driven by trustafarii dollars from L.A. and the Bay Area. 

The airlines now pack their planes so tightly that the only reasons I fly anymore are to watch fights over reclining seats or to get my clothes pressed.

City Hall was once a beautiful building – you need only to look at photos of when it was completed in 1964 to understand that. If it seems ugly now it’s because of years of official neglect. Deferred maintenance has become no maintenance. It didn’t have to be that way.

Along Seavey Loop Road winding all the way to Hwy. 58, “Stop Seavey Loop Industrial Zone” signs have cropped up over the past few weeks on almost every property. The two-lane blacktop runs through floodplain rich in farmland and natural areas nurtured by the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and Oxley Slough and overseen by Mount Pisgah rising gently in the east.

My “sex education” classes always failed me.

“Your privates are gonna get bigger and you’re gonna start smelling bad,” one of the teachers said during my fifth-grade sex-ed class. At the end, the teachers provided us with a stick of deodorant — thanks, Mr. Johnson.  

It’s summer, and that means rites-of-passage time when I do workshops for African-American related youth on preventing addiction and problems related to sexuality, whether or not you’re under the influence. I combine 21st-century knowledge with 25th-Dynasty wisdom, i.e. African Old School. It’s about keeping your spirits, your wits and your body safe, as well as safeguarding those around you. 

The average constitution worldwide only lasts 19 years and Thomas Jefferson suggested we re-write our Constitution every 25 years. Perhaps it is time that we re-write ours. How would you change the Constitution if you could craft a new one?

While much ink has already been spilled over the City Council’s proposed paid sick time policy, it’s important that our community is debating actual facts and applying appropriate context to the matter. I would like to clarify some key points.

Seen as a progressive and a civil libertarian, Sen. Ron Wyden has become the “Golden Boy” of the Democrats and risen to a position of great power within the Senate.

As the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee — think taxes — Wyden is the most powerful Senate member outside of Majority Leader. To illustrate the importance, he has raised $1.7 million in campaign funds so far during this election cycle, a record for him, and did this during a non-campaign year.

In an urban growth boundary expansion, the city of Springfield is studying location of a 362-acre industrial zone on Seavey Loop. This plan threatens farms, businesses, residences, property values, species, public recreation, sustainable development and a way of life at the gateway to Mount Pisgah. 

At a recent panel discussion, local politicians and service provider representatives addressed the pressing need for community services for the mentally ill. Unfortunately, the Legislature chose to direct human service funding to institutional care rather than community-based programs. The soon to be completed State Mental Hospital between Eugene and Junction City is the result of that funding priority decision. 

After several years and over 3,000 miles of searching, last week it was confirmed that our famed OR-7 is no longer a lone gray wolf. Not only has OR-7 found a mate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced he has fathered at least two pups — the first wolf pups in southern Oregon in decades. Many wolf advocates and OR-7 fans missed the irony in the agency’s announcement. 

New architectural drawings reveal a beautiful, renovated field and grandstand with massive old-growth structural timbers — capturing the vision shared by civic leaders and Works Progress Administration who in 1938 designed and built Civic Stadium for public use.

I have just returned from a celebration of Christmas presented by the Eugene Cascade Chorus. As I write this column, the echo of the words “Let there be peace on Earth” lingers in my mind. If there is anything I could wish for this tired old world, it would be that sentiment.

The stakes are high for Oregonian families in the 2014 elections, and Democrats throughout the state are ready to use cutting-edge, grassroots campaign tools to win the close races in November.

For almost 20 years now I have been participating in a personal boycott of professional spectator sports, electing to watch only amateur college sporting events, particularly those that represent the school from which I graduated. But recently, I have decided to refrain from viewing some of the university-based athletic team sports that represent even my own alma mater, specifically the sports that offer multiple scholarships to out-of-state recruits in order to potentially win championships rather than educate our local youth. 

As an environmental studies major at the UO I’ve gotten very used to discussing issues of injustice and land degradation through a scholarly/ objective lens; however, I had never drawn these connections back to myself and how they affect me as an Oregonian. Never would I have imagined that a trip out to interview a community affected by pesticide drift — a predominantly middle class, white conservative community in Gold Beach — would connect directly to the working-class Latino-immigrant farmer community I grew up with in the Rogue Valley.

University of Oregon students voted recently to urge the UO Foundation to divest its fossil fuel stocks. The vote to divest — which prevailed with yes votes of roughly 73 percent — should spur the foundation to sell the fossil fuel stocks that reportedly make up roughly 1 percent of the foundation’s holdings. 

On April 26, 1986, in Pripyat, Ukraine, Chernobyl Reactor #4 suffered a power increase, which caused the whole plant to burn. On the night of the incident, Chernobyl's staff ran a safety drill. An automatic shutdown was supposed to happen in case of low water levels. But operators, who lacked proper training, blocked the automatic shutdown mechanism, because they thought the shutdown would abort the test. The coolant started boiling in the reactor, and reactor power slowly increased, which caused Reactor #4 to explode.

I’m looking at two memos that I wrote in July of 1991 when I worked for Congressman Peter DeFazio as a natural resource policy advisor. The memos were written on two consecutive days to reflect two meetings, one with the timber industry and the other with the environmental community. Earlier that year, all timber harvests on federal forests were halted by a federal court injunction. Thousands of jobs were at risk and the economies for many rural communities were in limbo. The two meetings were to determine if any form of compromise legislation was possible and what level of support we could expect from either side in the controversy.

Pete Sorenson

 et al.

We were talking several times over the past few months about the U.S. government's spying on the German leaders and on how most Americans associate their country with freedom. Commissioner Sorenson visited our sister county, St. Wendel in the Saarland (a German state in southwest Germany) in 2006. Because of this relationship Sorenson has some familiarity with Germans and their public policy. The German side of this relationship has also responded: our German local government counterpart visited Lane County in 2009. President Obama, who held a rally in Berlin in 2008 while campaigning for the presidency, was, in 2008 and 2009 very popular in Germany, both among leaders and the German people.

We decided that we have unique perspectives on this national relationship. So, we collaborated on this short article about spying on the American people and spying by the U.S. government on Germany's leaders.

There are signs everywhere that the modern dream of hyper-individualism, unlimited growth and consumption, is coming to an end. Its pathologies are overwhelming our future. To maintain this dream, we are told by our nation’s military leaders to expect perpetual war for at least three generations. To maintain this dream, our governments are increasingly controlled by corporations which are given constitutional rights at the same time that the rights of natural people are restricted and denied.

Parents want to trust the schools where they send their children. Teachers, like myself, want to trust the learning criteria set before us by the state. And I believe most of us want to trust our government to make the best decisions possible for the children of our nation. The problem in trusting the newly implemented Common Core Standards and Assessments is that there are too many unanswered questions for it to feel safe on any of these levels. By themselves, standards are great and teachers strive to reach them. Unfortunately, many problems are introduced when working with the standards and assessments contained in the Common Core. Here are three questions that come to mind about Common Core in our schools.

Friends of the late Janet Wentworth will gather from noon until 2 pm Sunday, April 6, at the Eugene Family YMCA, 2055 Patterson Street. All are welcome to that time of remembering Janet who died on March 6, 2014, a month shy of the 69th anniversary of her birth.