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News Briefs

Oregon is “the hub, for whatever reason, of the for-profit fire industry,” writes journalist and South Eugene High School grad McKenzie Funk in his book Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (Penguin Press, 2014, $27.95). Funk writes not simply of how we are preparing for a warmer planet, but rather he focuses on those who see the melt, drought and deluge of climate change as a market opportunity. Funk will speak at 6 pm Thursday, June 5, at the Eugene Public Library, free. 

On May 27 the Eugene Police Department brought the City Council a proposal to close Kesey Square between 11 pm and 6 am, a move that some say is targeting the homeless population. Kesey Square, aka Broadway Plaza, is a city-deemed performance space that sits on the corner of Broadway and Willamette, home to the bronze statue of Ken Kesey. The City Council has not scheduled a vote.

Civil Liberties Defense Center attorney Lauren Regan says the proposal to close the public square is repugnant in the face of the human rights image touted by the city of Eugene.

The current fight against GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in Lane County is one small battle in a larger war, according to Thomas Linzey, the executive director of the legal nonprofit group the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

Marbled murrelets have been observed in the East Hakki timber sale in the Elliott State Forest, according to the Coast Range Forest Watch, a group of citizen scientists that regularly surveys for the threatened sea birds that fly many miles in from the ocean to nest in the Elliott.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality sent International Paper a warning letter on May 16 following a line break at International Paper’s Springfield facility, which resulted in discharge of treated process water into Irving Slough. According to DEQ’s letter, the discharge violated Oregon environmental law, and this violation is classified as “serious.” DEQ determined that the violation was beyond International Paper’s reasonable control, and therefore chose not to assess a penalty.

 “We still have a long ways to go,” says Tad Shannon, Eugene Education Association president after last week’s bargaining session between the EEA and Eugene School District 4J and EEA. Shannon says the session brought the groups closer to agreement, with a closed budget gap and 3.7 percent wage increase for about 60 percent of teachers, but refinements to the proposed contract, including a section that lists added health insurance benefits to teachers as a last priority, left teachers not yet ready to sign.

ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5, 36, 58, 99, 101, 105, 126 and Beltline were sprayed recently.

• Rosboro LLC, 746-8411 plans to hire Dole Land Management Inc. to spray 211 acres near Quartz Creek and McKenzie River tributaries with imazapyr. See ODF notices 2014-771-00413 and 2014-771-00414, call Tim Meehan at 726-3588 with questions.

Some neighborhood leaders are saying that the city of Eugene has not included neighborhoods enough in decisions about new property tax exemption rules for housing developments of five or more units, aka the MUPTE (Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption) program.

MUPTE is aimed at increasing the amount of multi-unit housing in order to prepare for projected population growth and it exempts developers from paying property taxes for up to 10 years. The program was suspended last year so the Eugene City Council can revise the eligibility requirements. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recently sent Hollingsworth & Vose Fiber Company a pre-enforcement notice following an inspection of Hollingsworth’s Corvallis facility, which is classified as a large-quantity generator of hazardous waste. DEQ’s letter cites Hollingsworth for failing to close containers of hazardous waste, failing to develop and execute weekly inspections of hazardous waste storage containers and failing to cleanup spills.

The recent rape investigation at the University of Oregon has not only triggered a spate of articles about the issue locally and across the nation, it’s also triggering requests for emails, contracts and other information from UO staff who might be involved in the investigation or its handling. As a state institution the UO, like other government entities, is subject to Oregon’s Public Records Law.

If you’re driving south into Eugene from I-105, look east to the foot of Skinner Butte and you may just see a rainbow. Stripes of color framing a mural shoot upward from Lincoln Alley, which, as of May 9, was still an impenetrable knot of blackberry bushes scattered with broken glass and garbage. By May 12, however, the strip of land housed a blue picnic table, a community mural and garden beds filled with the seeds of sunflowers, irises, lemon balm, Jerusalem artichoke, raspberries, bleeding heart and other plants. This is the Secret Garden of the Commons.

More than 550 people will come to Eugene from across the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands and Japan to learn about community building, according to city neighborhood planner and conference planner Rene Kane. The conference comes to town as Eugene neighborhood leaders fret over proposed funding cuts to eighborhood services. Eugene will host the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) conference May 21 to 24.

Food carts will soon be a regular fixture on the streets of downtown Springfield. Local nonprofit Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) has been working with city staff to create a food cart program in hopes it will encourage downtown revitalization.

“There are a lot of examples around the country of the way that these programs have injected a new life into the community,” says Dave Johnson, NEDCO food hub operations supervisor.

Thursday, May 15, is the last day to safely mail in ballots for the Oregon May Primary, which is Tuesday, May 20. After Thursday, drop off ballots at any of the white ballot boxes around town or on campus. Deadline is 8 pm Tuesday. Postmarks don’t count. 

 

Statewide Offices

U.S. Senator (Democrat) — Jeff Merkley

Merkley has two challengers in the primary, William Bryk and Pavel Goberman. Merkley is a rising star in the Senate and a strong voice for economic justice and health care reform.

 

Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center wants to teach you how to make soap, manage cattle and learn other permaculture-related activities for little cost. Aprovecho began giving workshops this spring on a gift economy basis — the nonprofit education center will teach you permaculture and in return ask that you give back in some way through donating, sharing a skill that you know or even simply bringing a friend. Workshops are held every Sunday. Aprovecho, which was started more than 30 years ago, is on 40 acres of land outside Cottage Grove. 

The city of Eugene recently sent Cascade Plating & Machine a “request for corrective action” letter requesting stabilization of a sizable area at the facility on Cross Street, just off Roosevelt Boulevard.

The University of Oregon community has erupted in the past weeks with outrage over the sexual assault case involving three male student-athletes and a young woman. Students have protested at Johnson Hall, holding signs reading “We demand justice” and “I live in a rape culture,” while chanting “Survivors over sports.” The chant refers to what protesters say is the school’s mishandling of the case by allowing three basketball players to continue playing during March Madness while the sexual assault investigation was already under way.   

Eugene City Council reallocated $150,000 to the city’s Emergency and Minor Home Repairs (EMHR) program, which assists low-income homeowners and tenants with emergency and accessibility-related home repairs. The program experienced a higher demand than usual for repair assistance this winter, according to City Grants Manager Michael Wisth, and had exhausted its funding for fiscal year 2014. Funds were taken from the city’s microenterprise development program.

City Manager Jon Ruiz’s recommended city budget for Eugene’s coming fiscal year closes a $2.5 million gap with one-time funding from the city’s reserve fund and reductions to parks maintenance, downtown library hours and recreation services. It also calls for a one-time contribution of $200,000 to the nonprofit group TrackTown USA.

Students, faculty and staff at the University of Oregon have the right to conduct controversial scholarship and teaching or hold contentious public positions, according to the University Senate, a body made up of faculty, students and staff that is a partner in the shared governance of the UO. 

In early April the senate body unanimously passed an Academic Freedom Policy. Professor Michael Dreiling, the president of the UO’s newly formed union, United Academics, says that this policy would help to unlock “the greatest potential” that the UO has to offer.

• Little Lake Logging and Const. Inc., 927-3339, plans to spray Tordon RTU (triclopyr ester) on 30 acres near Little Lake Creek. See ODF notice 2014-781-00486, call Robin L. Biesecker at 935-2283 with questions.

• USR Company LLC, Rosboro LLC, 746-8411, and High Mountain Investment Group, 746-8411, plan to hire Dole Land Management Inc. to spray their roadsides throughout Benton County with imazapyr and/or triclopyr. See ODF notices 2014-551-00183, 2014-551-00184 and 2014-551-00185, call Bill Mahr at 929-3266 with questions.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a $7,800 penalty against the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC) last week for causing pollution of waters of the state in February. MWMC operates the Eugene-Springfield wastewater collection and treatment system, including the treatment plant on River Avenue and the “biosolids management facility” on Awbrey Lane. On Feb.

In addition to the historic trolley tracks unearthed every so often on Willamette Street, Eugene is bursting with historically significant elements that are out in the open, like the dry stone retaining wall on the north side of Skinner Butte built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps.