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News Briefs

Last week Eugene Jeans owner and local bluegrass musician Tim Long finally received some good news: Because of his Gleevec medication regimen, the gastrointestinal stromal tumor he was diagnosed with in April has shrunk about 40 percent, from the size of a large orange to the size of a tennis ball.

County Administrator Liane Richardson appears to be eroding the confidence of Lane County citizens again. Her efforts earlier this year to increase her pay from $152,345 to $175,656, an increase of more than 15 percent, caused public outcry at a time when the county is strapped for cash. Questions have arisen about whether Richardson may have finagled an increase in the money she was getting after all, despite the outcry and despite saying she would say no to an immediate raise.

The opening date of Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE), Eugene’s pilot project for a safe, sustainable community for homeless people, is fast approaching, and a series of fundraisers begins 6 pm Sunday, July 28, with “Keys for the Village,” a piano and keyboard concert featuring Grammy-nominated pianist Weber Iago.

Comments to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding industrial stormwater pollution control plans for the following Lane County facilities are due by 5 pm on July 29: Eugene Airport, Goshen Forest Products, Lane County Central Receiving Station, Pacific Rim Manufacturing (Jasper) Rosboro (Springfield), Short Mountain Landfill, Starfire Lumber (Cottage Grove), Sundance Lumber (Springfield) and Swanson Bros. Lumber (Noti). Visit goo.gl/ScwdH to see stormwater plans, and goo.gl/iMDQb to comment.

Activists have again pitched their tents to protest the lack of places homeless people can sleep, this time in the West Eugene Wetlands. In early July, the Bureau of Land Management began clearing camps of homeless people from the wetlands. SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) is camping at a site near Danebo and Pacific in solidarity with those who have nowhere else to go.

An Oregon Government Ethics Commission investigator recommended in a 32-page report that the commission dismiss an ethics complaint against former Lane County commissioner Rob Handy. After debate, the six members of the ethics commission present at the July 12 meeting did not reach the four votes needed to either move forward with or dismiss the complaint. As the Handy case statutorily expired July 17, this ends a chapter in what some see as a vendetta against Handy and other progressive politicians.

The local fight against genetically modified crops is on. Citizens’ group Support Local Food Rights (SLFR) submitted a local food system ordinance to the Lane County clerk. The initiative would ban the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops and establish the right to a local food system.

Opponents of GM crops are concerned with a host of issues: increased pesticide use, the lack of a long-term study of their safety for consumption and unwanted cross-pollination ruining local organic crops and causing unintentional patent infringement. 

Comments to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding industrial stormwater pollution control plans for the following Linn County facilities are due by 5 pm on July 25 (facilities are located in Albany unless otherwise noted): Absorbent Technologies (two Albany locations), Albany-Lebanon Sanitation, Bear Mountain Forest Products (Brownsville), Dave Hunter Manufacturing, Decorative Bark Products (Lyons), Eagle Veneer (Harrisburg), Entek International (Lebanon), Frank Lumber (Lyons), Freres Lumber (two locations in Lyons, one i

Two cases in Eugene Municipal Court this week revolved around protest, poop and constitutional free speech rights. Judge Karen Stenard heard testimony in a motion-to-dismiss hearing July 15 about two protests in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza that involved the arrests of 21 people in one protest and activist Alley Valkyrie in another. Both were related to the group SLEEPS, which set up tents in the plaza to call attention to the plight of the homeless. The cases were heard on the same day as they subpoenaed the same witnesses.

Beekeepers have been saying for years that they see a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and bee die-offs, but the recent deaths of 50,000 bees near Portland are finally giving pesticide foes some traction: A federal bill, the “Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013” was introduced on July 16. A “Nix the Neonics” rally is planned for noon July 20 at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in downtown Eugene.

Eugene Sunday Streets, the annual street shutdown that celebrates walking, biking and community, is back for two more rounds. On Sunday, July 21, downtown stretches of 8th and 10th avenues and Broadway between Pearl and Almaden will be closed to automobiles while the residents use the public space to build community and try out walking and biking in a safe environment. A second event will be held in the Bethel area in September.

It’s not great, but it could have been worse. That’s the latest from the Eugene Education Association (EEA) regarding the education budget of $6.75 billion in school funding for the state of Oregon in the now-ended legislative session. For the 4J School District, which already suffers under the strain of financial woe, it means assessing what changes are in store for the upcoming school year. 

• Freres Lumber, Inc., (503) 859-2121, plans to hack and squirt 160 acres near Swartz Creek in the Coast Range with Imazapyr. See ODF 935-2283 notification 2013-781-00610 for more information.

• ODOT is spraying roadsides along state highways: call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information.

Willamette Street, one of Eugene’s most collision-prone roadways, will get a makeover in 2018. The city’s community meetings to consider reengineering the street to work better have been packed to the brim. When the Eugene City Council considers alternatives later this summer or in early fall, it will choose from three options: the four-lane street’s current configuration; three lanes, including a center turn lane, and bike lanes in both directions; and three lanes with wider sidewalks.

Organized opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 is rolling into Lane County. People Against the NDAA (PANDA) question the act’s authority to undermine basic rights in cases of suspected terrorism, with two subsections in the 2012 NDAA allowing for indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens without trial. The law affirms the 9/11-era Authorization for Use of Military Force that granted the president enhanced powers against suspected terrorists until the “end of hostilities” in the “War on Terror.”

The Eugene Police Department’s longstanding policy of requiring officers to destroy their written notes after creating an incident report has changed. The new policy defines investigative notes — written and electronic — as public records and requires their retention for a minimum of two years. EPD did not respond to inquiries about whether defendants will be given the notes as routine evidence or will be required to request them as public records.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a penalty of $2,400 against Bear Mountain Forest Products on July 3 for violating the Clean Air Act permit for its wood pellet manufacturing facility in Brownsville in September. Bear Mountain violated the opacity limit in its permit; opacity is an indicator for particulate emissions, which can contribute to respiratory distress, affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems such as decreased lung function, irregular heartbeat and chronic bronchitis.

Small animals shouldn’t be given away as prizes, according to Heather Crippen of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue (RBRR), who has been working along with her daughter to stop bunnies from being chased and caught at the Cottage Grove Rodeo. RBRR has also been working on developing an ordinance that would stop bunnies, chickens and other small animals from being the trophies at giveaways and contests. Crippen brought the idea before the Lane County Animal Services Advisory Committee on July 8 and is also considering city and statewide regulations. 

Lane County enviros and liberal politicos want Congressman Peter DeFazio to know that they aren’t pleased with his green credentials lately. They have signed on to a letter to Nancy Pelosi endorsing Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) as the next ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. About 200 environmental and conservation groups from across the country signed the letter.

• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to aerial and ground spray Accord XRT II, Polaris SP and/or Sulfomet Extra with additives Induce, Foam Buster, MSO and/or Metcel on 67 acres near the Long Tom River. See ODF notification 2013-781-00600 for more information.

ODOT is spraying roadsides along state highways, call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 (Lane County area) at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. 

The Pacific Northwest is being hit with another fossil fuel threat: oil trains. Oregon and Washington have been faced with megaloads of tar sands equipment, liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals, coal trains and now what conservationists are calling oil pipelines on wheels. Dan Serres, conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper, says the trains are already under way here in Oregon carrying fracked crude oil from the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. A Sightline Institute report says that there’s nothing to stop the trains from being used to ship Canadian tar sands oil through the Northwest as well as the fracked oil.

While climate change poses a threat in the immediate future to Chinook salmon and other Oregon endangered species, UO paleontology instructor Edward Davis says it’s also important to think about climate change on a much larger time scale, on the order of millions of years. On July 9, Davis will speak at the Eugene Public Library about his work on evolutionary hotspots, areas of habitat where conditions are right for new species to form, and why these areas need protection.

Medical marijuana patients too sick or inexperienced to grow their own cannabis might have new options. House Bill 3460 passed 31-27 in the Oregon House June 24, and the Senate was gearing up to vote as EW went to press June 26.

Hang onto your cash, bus riders. While the bus routes to the Oregon Country Fair have always been free, this year the entire LTD system will cost nothing for the duration of Fair, which runs July 12-14.

“It’s the first time that anybody’s bought out the entire system,” says LTD spokesperson Andy Vobora. The Fair, which has long emphasized sustainability and public transit, paid $32,370 to sponsor all of LTD’s routes during the three-day event.