Late in the summer of 2013, Lane County closed a protest camp in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza leading to one of many recent debates on the nature of free speech and whether a government agency can shut it down.
In a Dec. 15 ruling on a motion to dismiss, Municipal Court Judge Karen Stenard writes that the closure in this instance was not unconstitutional under Oregon law. She writes there were “legitimate health and safety concerns.” Activists disputed those concerns at the time of the closure and in the months afterward.
Local group Predator Defense has devoted a large part of its 25-year existence to putting an end to Wildlife Services, a federal agency that traps and poisons predators. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Wildlife Services killed more than 4 million animals in 2013. Recently Predator Defense’s documentary, Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, which delves into the federal agency Wildlife Services, won high praise from noted primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, who writes, “I hope it will be watched by millions.”
“We’ve been pretty busy these last couple days,” says Mindy Beer, who created Pay It Forward Cottage Grove a year ago with her daughter, Jennifer Neil. As Christmas approaches and the weather has turned colder, people have turned to Pay It Forward to give and receive everything from baby formula to refurbished bicycles.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent Lane County a warning letter last month for low pH levels in water pollution discharged from Short Mountain Landfill. Low pH means discharges are acidic, and low pH was observed in both initial and follow-up sampling.
To some river-lovers it’s the scariest place in Eugene: a longtime homeless camp along the Willamette River strewn with soggy mattresses and moldy rugs, used needles, bike parts, food packaging, wet books, even an old TV set. Trash and worse from campers have been collecting for years between the railroad tracks and the river, and a cleanup project is about to begin now that the camp has been abandoned (see photos on our website).
On Dec. 16 Lane County commissioners discussed whether to question federal law and pass an ordinance that challenges two controversial sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The NDAA, a sweeping defense bill that sets the budget for the military, dates back to the post-9/11 period and is renewed every year by Congress. The controversial sections of the bill include provisions to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. The current version of the $585 billion NDAA passed the Senate Dec. 12.
Viewed from the little parking lot off West 11th, As You Like It looks like any artsy boutique in town; a wall of windows covered with delicate black-lace curtains reveal warm wood floors and beams and display shelves sparkling with treasures. The space is a far cry from the windowless shops around Eugene, but make no mistake, this is a sex store, or rather an “eco-conscious, green, gender-inclusive sex toy shop.”
Longtime Native American rights advocate Alfred Leo Smith died Nov. 19. Smith was from Chiloquin, was a member of the Klamath Tribe and was known in Native communities throughout the Northwest. He died shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday in Eugene.
He’s remembered as a “loving husband, friend, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and fearless warrior,” says his wife of 34 years, Jane Farrell, in a statement sent to his supporters. “He will be missed and remembered for generations to come.”
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has once again found Pacific Recycling to be in violation of the Clean Water Act at its facility on Cross Street (near Roosevelt Boulevard) in Eugene (see EW 6/19, goo.gl/0Icqbj regarding a $327,686 fine assessed against Pacific Recycling in June). DEQ sent Pacific Recycling a warning letter in November for “failing to adequately stabilize or cover soil stockpiles.” The stockpiles contain soil contaminated with wood treatment agents from neighboring J.H.
A decision on the future of Eugene’s Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) program has been delayed by the Eugene City Council until Jan. 26, since Councilor Claire Syrett could not make the Dec. 8 meeting. MUPTE has come under heavy criticism by citizens and some council members for giving big tax breaks to out-of-state developers for housing projects that might have been built even without the subsidies. The latest council action regarding MUPTE will focus on creating a review process.
As we go to press, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) and the UO have announced a tentative agreement after an overnight mediation session Dec. 10 in which the UO agreed to create a seven-member committee to oversee a Graduate Student Assistance Fund that allows graduate students to take sick or parental leave, according to a statement from the GTFF.
Late last month, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium estimated that nationally, only 33 percent of 11th grade students who took the math portion of the Smarter Balanced field test last spring, which Oregon students will take in 2015, were considered proficient or advanced, with the remaining 67 percent needing additional support to meet the standards. And for students with disabilities, the future is even murkier when it comes to addressing their particular needs.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently sent Jeanne M. Burris a pre-enforcement notice for illegal waste tire storage at property owned by Burris at 29882 Kelso St. in Eugene. This notice follows up on a warning letter that DEQ sent to Burris for the same violation in July of last year (see EW 8/8/13, goo.gl/8za9J3). The 2013 warning letter gave Burris until Jan. 15, 2014 to address the problem, but it appears that Burris has failed to do so.
Marcie Stout says if she knew then what she knows now, she would have stood in the lobby at Sacred Heart Medical Center screaming that December night until they admitted her brother, Darwin Stout, even if it meant she too would wind up on a psychiatric hold.
To UO landscape architecture student Gwynne Mhuireach, the seemingly clear air in Eugene is vibrantly alive. “There are all sizes of particles floating around,” the doctoral student says. “The heavier ones tend to stay more locally dispersed, and the lighter ones tend to be more long distance — there are some particles we’ve been getting from Japan.”
Registered nurse Matthew Calzia works 12-hour shifts in the ICU at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, where he cares for critically ill patients. Calzia says that due to staffing shortages over the past few years, he and his fellow nurses have consistently worked at a frantic pace and skipped breaks in order to provide patients with the care they need.
In September, following up on rumors that a private jet had been donated to the University of Oregon, EW made a public records request for “non-monetary gifts/donations made to the UO, the UO Athletic Department and the UO Foundation valued over $10,000 from Jan. 1, 2013 through Aug. 2014.”
The search is on. Earlier this month, the Eugene 4J School Board hired a professional executive search firm to find a replacement for outgoing 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman. Board Chairman Jim Torrey says the board hopes to finalize a candidate by the end of March 2015. He says the board is working with the firm to prioritize candidates from the Pacific Northwest “first and foremost,” and the next step is getting input from stakeholders and the community.
Travel to Washington, D.C. and venture into the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building, and you will see Oregon represented by historical luminaries John McLoughlin and Jason Lee. For those who are unaware of who those men were, McLoughlin was a fur trader who helped immigrants along the Oregon Trail, and Lee was one of the first Methodist missionaries to travel across the United States along the Oregon Trail.
The Eugene City Council this week gave advocates for preserving the headwaters of Amazon Creek something to be thankful for over the holidays. The council agreed Nov. 24 to acquire two lots of property in the Martin Street area to add to the Ridgeline Trail system. The Be Noble Foundation will acquire a contiguous third lot. The three lots, totaling about 26 acres, contain two main branches of the Amazon Creek headwaters as well as lush habitat for both plant and animal wildlife.
The leafy green is good for salads, good for stir-fry and, as the Eugene Avant Gardeners believe, good for building community.
Kale is a rising star in the food world, and to celebrate this cool weather crop the Avant Gardeners are organizing the first annual Kale Fest Dec. 5-7, devoted to promoting local food, gardening and kale.
“It’s using food to create community,” says Plaedo Wellman, co-organizer of Kale Fest and a member of the Avant Gardeners, a sustainable gardening group.
A month after its Eugene debut, the car-sharing company car2go is still operating its 50 smart cars smoothly in the Eugene-Springfield area, unlike Uber, the ride-sharing service, which was fined $2,000 by the city of Eugene Nov. 17. The difference lies in their respective business models and how they reach out to new cities.
On the evening of Nov. 17, a group gathered at Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA) in downtown Eugene for a panel of six people, who identify as trans*, sharing stories and answering questions, which included everything from dating to experiences with Eugene’s healthcare system. Trans* is a term that refers to trans and gender non-conforming people. It encompasses all identities within the gender spectrum.
Ryan, who sleeps in a tent at the new Whoville homeless protest camp north of the U.S. Courthouse, says that he and his fellow campers are “managing” through the recent freezing nights. “It was cold last night,” Ryan says, declining to give his last name for fear of repercussions. “It was really cold last night. We could always use more blankets.”