The BP oil disaster that sent an estimated 4.9 million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for three months after an April 2010 oil rig explosion is neither gone nor forgotten. BP is still paying settlements on the long-term effects of the Macondo well’s spill on the fragile ecosystem as well as paying millions in criminal fines. And the legal cases continue: On Jan.
Numerous events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday,
Jan. 21, have been scheduled around the valley.
In Eugene, an annual march will begin at 11 am at Autzen Stadium followed by an event at 12:15 pm at The Shedd Institute featuring actor and activist Danny Glover and recording artists Lela Parra, Sayba, Ray J and Jeremy Rosado of American Idol fame. Free tickets will be given out at the parade.
Monitoring of the Amazon Creek Basin by the city of Eugene under the city’s Clean Water Act permit for urban stormwater discharges during 2011-2012 shows a decreasing trend for about 77 percent of indicators, though water quality standards for various pollutants are still exceeded in the basin. For copper, 30 percent of samples exceeded the relevant water quality standard by up to seven times.
The Lane Board of County Commissioners had scheduled a vote to appoint Senior Assistant County Counsel Stephen Dingle as the new county counsel at their Jan. 8 meeting, but postponed the issue of Dingle’s contract, voting instead on another part of the agenda item — to re-create the Office of Lane County Legal Counsel as a separate county department.
That’s not rain outside; it’s the 1,200-resident Capstone student housing development moving full steam ahead now that the company has settled with neighborhood advocate Paul Conte for $260,000 in exchange for Conte dropping land-use and planning-related legal appeals. Conte and two other fund managers will use much of the money for improvements to the areas around the student housing project.
At bar close in the Barmuda Triangle on Tuesday, Dec. 4, Tomo Tsurumi — saxophonist for Volifonix and origami artist — was attacked by a twenty-something Caucasian male with fair, long curly hair. Tsurumi, who has been busking with his alto saxophone in downtown Eugene for the past seven years, says he had stepped into Jameson’s for one beer before bar close. Upon exiting, Tsurumi was approached by a “drunk and happy” man.
Sid Leiken, chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners, put a positive spin on hope for the poor state of the county’s finances during his State of the County address on Jan. 7. Leiken focused on the positive improvements in areas such as community health, while members of SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) protested outside Harris Hall to advocate for the homeless.
A recent Register-Guard article about restructuring the University of Oregon’s Office of Equity and Inclusion set off a firestorm among students, many of whom were gone for break when they heard the restructuring involved ending the contracts of three popular administrators.
In a curious case of human logic, public opinion is growing in favor of better gun control regulations, but gun sales are up, and the businesses that sell firearms won’t talk. Cabela’s, Bi-Mart, Walmart and S&M Gun Shop didn’t respond before press time, while Eugene shooting range and gun retail store Baron’s Den refused to comment. The reluctance to respond to repeated phone calls could be an indicator of how uncomfortable firearm distributors nationwide have become in the wake of shootings in Clackamas and Newtown, Conn., among others.
Conrad Barney says you never have it all while being homeless. “It almost seems like places have two out of three things that you need,” he says. “We have an ample supply of material; we have water and clothing and blankets because our community cares.” Barney commenced a hunger strike Dec. 11, he says, because the city’s camping ban makes something that’s important in rainy cold Eugene, shelter, difficult to attain.
Idle No More is a campaign for indigenous rights, sovereignty and environmental justice that began in Canada in part as a response to Canada’s omnibus bill C-45 that is seen as taking away treaty rights. Though neglected in mainstream U.S. media coverage, the campaign has generated rallies and flashmobs across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Flashmobs were held in Portland’s Pioneer Square Mall on Dec. 23 and Eugene’s Valley River Center Mall on Dec. 29.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently sent Shell Oil Products Company a warning letter for failing to have the wastewater system at its Halsey facility, near I-5 and Highway 228, supervised by a certified operator. DEQ considers this a serious violation of the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act permit for this facility expired on June 30, 2011.
In July, federal agency Wildlife Services set a bear trap at Lane County Waste Management’s Rattlesnake Road facility without consulting Patti Hansen, manager of the facility. Hansen says that the bear trap was set while she was on vacation and that she had the trap removed before any bears were trapped and killed.
Private citizens, members of Cottage Grove’s Forest Web and former Lane County commissioner Jerry Rust are concerned the decisions about Oregon’s public forests, and specifically the O&C forests that have been used to generate cash for counties, are being made in secret. Rust and Cristina Hubbard of Forest Web held a press conference and delivered letters to Gov. Kitzhaber’s office on Dec. 18 asking him to open his O&C “timber panel” up for citizen participation.
On the evening of Nov. 23, a 17-year-old African-American girl was beaten and left for dead near the Springfield Fred Meyer. Now family members say they need the public’s help to catch the perpetrator.
“Some people have a mentality of not wanting to talk to the police, but this is somebody’s life,” says Jeremiah Farish, the girl’s brother. “She could have died — if the lady didn’t find her, she could have died.” He urges anyone with knowledge of the attack to call the Springfield Police Department Tip Line at 726-3721.
Nine more local facilities’ industrial stormwater pollution control plans are up for public comment this week. These plans are for facilities that have applied for Clean Water Act permit coverage under the new industrial stormwater permit issued by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and that took effect July 1. Comments are due by 5 pm on Jan. 3.
Frequent travelers on Willamette Street between 24th and 32nd avenues know that the corridor isn’t Eugene’s finest for travel, and with the November passage of the pavement preservation bond measure, there’s funding to repave and possibly reconfigure the stretch in the next five years.
Congressman Peter DeFazio, whose own hometown of Springfield made national headlines in 1998 with the deadly Thurston High School shootings, says this week that Congress “will need to address a number of critical issues next year and this [mass shootings] should be a top priority.”
A former county attorney has filed an intent to sue Lane County for wrongful termination, retaliation for the exercise of First Amendment rights for speaking out on matters of public concern and for whistleblowing. A tort claim notice letter that was hand-delivered to County Counsel (and District Attorney) Alex Gardner Oct. 29 says that Marc Kardell was fired after he raised concerns about misuse of county funds and the actions of County Administrator Liane Richardson that were causing “a multitude of problems” within the county.
Smile: You’re on camera all over Eugene these days. Do a Google search for “Eugene webcam” and you’ll find cameras filming public spaces from the UO to the Owen Rose Garden. A recent revelation that Lane Transit District (LTD) had looked into not just videoing but also audio recording individual conversations on Eugene-area buses has local defenders of civil liberties concerned.
When the Supreme Court announced Dec. 7 that it would hear challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 in the spring, gay rights advocates across the country rejoiced. Savage Love columnist Dan Savage, who just got married in Washington, would probably enjoy seeing his Oregon friends get wed as well. But rulings favorable to marriage equality won’t immediately affect Oregonians; a 2006 amendment to Oregon’s Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Everyone should have a place to spend the holiday season, and an initiative from Mayor Kitty Piercy is going to try to make that happen. In an attempt to help the homeless, Piercy has the goal of raising $40,000 to assist 40 families in need. The program, called “A Home for the Holidays,” will strive to give these 40 families housing. St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County has joined forces with Piercy in an effort to accomplish this feat, and Oregon Community Credit Union has already come up with $20,000 toward the goal.
Worse than coal in your Christmas stocking is coal in your water. A recent accident at a coal terminal in Vancouver, B.C., calls attention to the impacts that coal exports have on oceans and waterways around the ports. A large bulk carrier of coal collided with one of the coal trestles at the Westshore Terminals port in Canada on Dec. 7, spilling several tons of coal into the ocean. This is in addition to a coal carrier that ran aground in November, and another that recently docked with a large crack in its hull.
Winter is coming. But Eugene’s Opportunity Village, a housing for the homeless pilot project now slated for a site near North Garfield Street and Roosevelt in the Whiteaker, won’t be up and running for at least four to six months. That’s why Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) representatives are urging the City Council to repeal Eugene’s camping ban through the winter and designate specific camping areas.