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A 700-strong pool of part-time city employees are earning wages that barely pass federal poverty line standards. A Jan. 18 city work session has been called to address this ongoing issue. 

People filled chairs, lined walls and sat on the floor for the duration of the special meeting of the city of Eugene Human Rights Commission (HRC) on Monday, Dec. 5. Professors, public school teachers, community members and activists were vocal in their concerns for undocumented people in their communities, classrooms and schools.

The future of the Elliott State Forest still hangs in the balance and local environmental groups are dubious about a proposal to be discussed at an upcoming meeting of Oregon’s State Land Board.

On a borrowed plot only a stone’s throw from the Eugene Mission, the Nightingale Health Sanctuary is tidy and obliging, even as biting autumn winds tug at the loose corners of its makeshift huts.

“We’re here to help people stabilize and move on,” Nightingale manager Nathan Showers says.

Back in September, Janie Coverdell traveled to Standing Rock from Eugene to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Inspired by the activism she took part in there and by the lack of media attention at the time, she decided to return last month. 

A new motion by the University of Oregon Senate may change the mandatory reporting policy on sexual assault to favor the wishes of the victims.

The current UO mandatory reporting policy requires all staff members to report sexual assaults they hear about from students, regardless of the actual desires of the victims themselves, according to Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at UO and a nationally recognized activist on sexual assault issues. 

The presence of the homeless in downtown Eugene has long been a contentious issue. But the idea of sheltering the unhoused in the heart of the city instead of trying to drive them out has not received much attention. 

The majority of shelter options are in other areas, particularly in Ward 7, home to the Whiteaker, Trainsong, River Road and Santa Clara neighborhoods.

When First Lady Michelle Obama issued her “Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” in 2014, Eugene stepped up to the plate, setting a goal of getting 365 of Lane County’s military vets into homes — an average of one per day for a year — through a broad coalition of local government and nonprofit agencies working together to secure funding and real estate.

Eugene knocked it out of the park, exceeding its goal by housing 404 veterans in the span of a year. According to St. Vincent de Paul Executive Director Terry McDonald, who participated in the challenge, you can hold that number up to a much larger city like Portland (around 600 vets housed) to understand the success of the local effort.

The recent legal settlement between a tenure-track Pakistani-American Lane Community College instructor and the college adds a renewed focus on safety for minorities at LCC in this post-Trump world. 

In the same month that racial and sexual harassment have seen a definite uptick on campuses around the U.S. after Trump was elected, sociology instructor Nadia Raza reached a legal settlement with LCC that contains provisions for college security to go through threat assessment training and other pro-safety measures by May 2017. 

Springfield School District board member Erik Bishoff says he was “not surprised, but disappointed” that Measure 97 didn’t pass. 

“We might have to make some cuts this year, and it’s likely going to mean class sizes are going to get larger,” Bishoff says.

Now that the measure has failed, members of the education community and supporters of the Measure 97 campaign are working on next steps to push for a fully funded school system, which includes plans to lobby the Oregon Legislature.

After Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, the title “president” is going to appear before the name Donald Trump. 

Beyond the dystopian strangeness of having a reality TV star in the nations’ highest office, in the wake of Trump’s startling Nov. 8 upset of Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, environmentalists and more are fearful of what a Trump presidency could mean and are trying to envision a path forward.

A handful of local organizations have come together to help administer the flu vaccine to people experiencing homelessness.

Bruce Tufts, a registered nurse at White Bird Medical Clinic and a volunteer at Egan Warming Center, started a conversation with other volunteers last year about the role they could play in addition to basic medical care.

Native American leader Winona LaDuke says she drove 700 miles to vote this year. 

Now in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, LaDuke — who is executive director of Honor the Earth, an organization whose mission it is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues — says it’s time to “double down on work in the communities and continue our battles.” 

According to local homeless advocates, 273 students in Eugene were homeless and living without a parent or guardian last year. On top of that, 90 students dropped out, and advocates believe they have moved to the streets.

In response to this, activists and the city of Eugene formed 15th Night, a collaborative approach to help prevent youth homelessness in the 4J and Bethel school districts.

When Tiffany Triplett joined the Women in Transition (WIT) program at Lane Community College, she says she was recovering from addiction and a divorce. “I was in the drug court program when I was in the WIT classes and it complemented my treatment program so much,” she says.

Months after ballooning construction costs sent the Eugene City Council back to the drawing board, councilors and city staff continue to thumb through a confusing array of City Hall possibilities.

Without a clue to indicate what the different possibilities might cost taxpayers, the council is taking stabs in the dark. Councilor Chris Pryor likened the muddled process to playing with Legos at an Oct. 19 Joint Elected Officials Work Session.

The growing general-practice physician shortage in Oregon and across the country has become a troubling issue. Fewer new MDs are opting to become family practitioners or internists, preferring instead to go into diverse medical specialty practice areas. But many don’t realize that a shortage of qualified nurses also exists, and that shortage is growing so rapidly it equals or may even overshadows the lack of physicians in upcoming decades. An aging baby boomer population, placing increasing demands on the medical profession, and a nursing faculty that is rapidly aging out combine to exacerbate this dilemma.

Eugene has two park systems with looming funding issues — first, Eugene Parks and Open Space, which has a $2 million budget gap for maintenance plus a backlog of $30 million in deferred maintenance. Then there’s the River Road Park and Recreation District, an unincorporated district with a shrinking tax base.

Local nonprofit (Community Alliance of Lane County) is celebrating its 50 year anniversary, but much of its new leadership is considerable younger that the institution itself. 

Several new staffers at CALC offer youthful exuberance and fresh, modern ideas to a well-established community institution. Adrienne Bennett, 36, is one of those new staffers and was hired this past May. 

The Eugene City Council Ward 1 race is a contest of progressive candidate versus progressive candidate. The list of supporters and donors to opponents Emily Semple and Josh Skov reads like a who’s who of Eugene Democrats. 

As a Native American activist testified against a proposed gravel mine in Oakridge at an Oct. 12 Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting, a plainclothes law enforcement officer walked up, took her by the wrists and began placing her arms behind her back. 

Commission Vice Chair Pat Farr, who stopped the officer, later called the incident a learning experience in terms of cultural sensitivity and discrimination.

The University of Oregon Foundation is planning a new building for scientific research, but in the process, its plans may destroy a nearby restaurant, Evergreen Indian Cuisine.

The UO’s newly announced billion-dollar project, the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, is billing itself as a great opportunity for undergrads to work in labs with professors and post-docs. The project will be funded primarily by a $500 million donation by Phil Knight and matched donor money.

“Sex work is work, sex workers are people and no person is ever more safe when you eliminate their work options,” says Lia, a local activist and sex worker. Lia and fellow sex worker and activist Vera are putting on a rally Oct. 28 in downtown Eugene to “Protest the Raid on Backpage.” 

Beatlemaniacs should get their Sergeant Pepper jackets dry-cleaned for this one.

Local up-and-coming radio station KEPW hosts an Oct. 29 Beatles-themed Halloween party to celebrate the launch of its web platform.