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The Eugene City Council has extended the suspension of the controversial Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) for a second time, which means it might not grant more tax breaks for as long as a year. MUPTE allows City Council to grant 10-year property tax waivers to housing developers in the downtown area. It has come under increasing public scrutiny since granting large property tax waivers to student housing companies Capstone and Core Campus. Under the new suspension ordinance, MUPTE could remain dormant until July 31, 2014.

“What do people like to see in police policies?” asks Kaitlyn Lange, former Eugene Police Commission chair. She says this question, and trying to allow for more flexibility and greater efficiency, led to recent changes in the commission’s work plan, which alterations the commission’s focus from reviewing policy to examining issues it has determined the community is most interested in. City Council approved the plan July 22. “We’re trying to get away from wordsmithing policies and really get at the meat of what concerns people,” she says. 

Comments to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding industrial stormwater pollution control plans for two B & R Auto Wrecking facilities (one in Albany and one in Corvallis) are due by 5 pm on August 9. Visit goo.gl/ScwdH to see stormwater plans, and goo.gl/iMDQb to comment. It should be noted that while DEQ is required to respond in writing to comments on stormwater plans, it recently came to light that DEQ considers mere written acknowledgement of receipt of comments to fulfill this requirement, which appears to violate the intent of the law.

Sponsors’ women’s program has not only hired a new director, but it is also about to get a third house specifically designed for women with children. Sponsors aims at reducing recidivism by providing services to help men and women transition back into the community from jail and prison.

A tour of Eugene bicycle industries is being planned as part of this weekend’s Blackberry bRamble celebration. The tour begins from 9 am to noon Friday, Aug. 2, at Rolf Prima, 150 Shelton McMurphy Blvd., followed by noon to 2 pm at Bike Friday, 3364 W. 11th Ave., followed by 2 to 4 pm at Co-Motion, 4765 Pacific Ave. Rides and celebration events continue all weekend. Email hughes97405@gmail.com or see eugenegears.org/bramble.

• The Eugene Sustainability Commission will meet at 4 pm Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Eugene Public Library downtown. Babe O’Sullivan is the contact at 682-5017.

In Afghanistan

• 2,251 U.S. troops killed (2,246 last week)

• 19,032 U.S. troops wounded in action (19,005)

• 1,389 U.S. contractors killed (1,389)

• 16,179 civilians killed (updates NA)

• $646.1 billion cost of war ($644.4 billion)

• $193.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($193.3 million)

 

In Iraq

• 4,422 U.S. troops killed, 31,927 wounded

• 1,599 U.S. contractors killed (1,599)

• 124,217 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (124,049)

Kayaks and canoes blocking fossil fuel shipments going down the Columbia River, women and transgender activists climbing trees and studying decolonization: Summer is when activism heats up in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s just in time because Oregon is facing climate-affecting threats from all sides such as logging in native forests and shipments of oil and coal. Summer Heat: Columbia River Climate Action takes place July 27 in Vancouver, Wash., and the Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp is taking place July 24-28 in the forests outside Oakridge. 

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.

The Oregon Legislature has approved and funded $3.75 million for the new South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN), a broad initiative that “taps into the research and educational expertise of academia and aggressively moves it toward private economic growth,” says Sen. Lee Beyer. RAIN will involve collaboration between UO, OSU and the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Albany and Corvallis.

• The next Breakfast at the Bridges will be from 7 to 9:30 am Friday, July 26, at the DeFazio Bridge, sponsored by Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life. Free bagels and coffee, bike safety checks, etc. See commutechallenge.org for more information. 

On the surface, the event at Maurie Jacobs Park last week seemed just like any other of the myriad of summer celebrations in Eugene. Dancing, eating and laughing, people socialized and greeted onlookers with a smile. Some perused a variety of booths at the back of the park, while others sang near the stage on the hill. But at Supernatural Fest, according to Mark and Victoria Bowling’s website USAforChrist.com, “It is a regular occurrence in Mark and Victoria’s meetings to experience the supernatural healing power of God. The lame walk. The deaf hear. The blind see.” 

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.