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• The Portland daily newspaper is not known for its affection for the University of Oregon, but President Michael Schill clearly won over reporter Andrew Theen for his page one story in the July 1 Oregonian. It’s a good read, portraying the new pres as a smart, very hardworking, skilled fundraiser who truly intends to lift the academic side of the university. The closing sentence quotes a former colleague who says, “I think Oregon got really lucky.”

• The Lane County Board of Commissioners’ June 28 discussion of giving themselves the authority to block some local ballot measures has us floored. Did it get forgotten by four of the five commissioners that Oregon citizens have a right to the initiative process that is protected in the state Constitution? Read more here.

 

• Eugene Weekly headed to Seattle June 18 for the annual Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Excellence in Journalism awards, which are, according to SPJ, the “the largest of its kind in the nation, with 2,300 entrants and 150 categories.” In the category of Health Reporting, EW staff writer Rick Levin took home a second place award for “The Art of Recovery: Turning Addiction into Art with Transformational Personal Theater,” a feature from January 2015 about a local theater group who uses art therapy for people in recovery.

• Guns and hate. We are so tired of being speechless about mass murders. The June 12 attack on the gay and Latinx (aka Latino/a) community at a gay Orlando nightclub by an American man of Afghan heritage has been called a case of “homegrown terrorism.” Look at Orlando (current toll 49 dead, more than 50 wounded), look at San Bernardino, (14 dead, 20 wounded), Colorado (12 dead, 58 wounded), Newtown (28 dead, 2 wounded). All massacres with assault-style rifles. This was an act of hate at a place the queer community should have felt safe.

• Calls to EW’s front desk can be crazy and fun. The latest comes from a reader (maybe) wondering what
kind of paper and ink goes into our finished product. He has been using EW to start his barbecue, and the food is tasting bad. Oops! We recommend trying The Register-Guard or The Oregonian.

 

Established power and corporate Oregon are mobilizing strategically to defeat IP 28, the value-added tax almost sure to be on the ballot in November. The Oregonian in Portland has been editorializing and writing against it for months. The strategy is to convince voters that this is really only a sales tax, not exactly a favorite in this state.

• If EW or a member of the public files a public records request about City Hall, could we trust the findings provided by the city? Could we afford to file the request if the city deemed it not in the “public interest?” And what about Kesey Square (aka Broadway Plaza)? Is it safe from becoming an apartment building? How do we have confidence in our government if decisions that affect our community seem to be made in secret?

• Bernie fans whooped it up when Sanders won the primary in Oregon May 17. Also whooping it up, albeit more quietly, was Eugene mayoral candidate Lucy Vinis, who unofficially as of press time scored 52.82 percent of the vote, beating candidate Mike Clark and holding more than the 50-plus-one-percent of the vote needed to not face a challenger in the fall. 

 • The primary election is Tuesday, May 17, if you haven’t handed in your ballot yet, do it now! Vote! Don’t feel you know the candidates? Take a minute to glance at your Voters Pamphlet and EW’s endorsements and coverage. In our local primary election just one vote really can make the difference between who gets elected mayor, put on the City Council or is the next president. The Democratic Party of Lane County will be holding an official election night watch party at the Wild Duck Cafe starting at 7:30 pm with many candidates attending.

As we go to press, rumors are becoming more concrete that short-fingered vulgarian and presidential hopeful Donald Trump will make an appearance in Eugene the evening of Friday, May 6. A nonviolent counter-protest is in the works with more than 300 people signed on. Search “Drumpf in Eugene” on Facebook to find the event. 


Thumbs up for the civil political discourse in our community, compared to much of the country these days.

• April marks the passing of two longtime Lane County residents who made the world a better place. Jan Wroncy of Forestland Dwellers fought chemical sprays for years in the courts and through her research and advocacy. Wroncy and her partner Gary Hale, through their group Forestland Dwellers, have compiled and provided EW with a schedule of planned pesticide sprays for more than 10 years. Hale tells us Wroncy passed away Saturday afternoon, April 16, “after a long struggle to recover from multiple strokes.

• We are cheering the youth of Our Children’s Trust for their victory against the fossil fuel industry and a government that is dragging its feet on climate change! On April 8, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, Oregon, decided in favor of 21 young people and scientist James Hansen and on behalf of future generations.

• A local politico raises the old question of the city of Eugene buying the EWEB building on the river for the new Eugene City Hall instead of proceeding with the itty-bitty city hall on the former site with all its problems of money, space, seismic safety and so on. Back in the day Councilor Mike Clark (now mayoral candidate) favored buying the EWEB building.

 The growing cost of building a new City Hall is no surprise; we reported on the seismic and cost changes back in January and the lack of offices for city councilors in February, but the issue goes back even further. When the city manager and his hired architects argued in 2014 that we could tear down the old City Hall and build a high-tech, energy efficient new City Hall for $12.5 million (plus demolition and design costs), we were skeptical. The cost per square foot did not pencil out for such high-quality construction.

Bus tickets to ship off homeless people? We hear the city of Portland is looking at allocating $30,000 to buy one-way bus fares for indigent residents who are stuck in Portland and want to go home, or at least to a place where they have the support of family or friends. San Francisco has a similar program called Homeward Bound. At first glance, this seems like a cynical way to get rid of “problem” people and pass them along to other cities.

• As online comments, personal conversations and the letters in this issue tell us, some of the leaders and residents of Springfield are upset with our illustrated tour of Springfield nightlife in the back of the Swizzle section March 10. We like the suggestion from Fey Egan to send an EW staffer to “hang with the cool kids in Springfield, don’t be an ass, and we’ll show you the city, the real city. The one that is creative, alive and unpretentious.” Good idea!

• The Oregon Legislature wrapped up its short session last week, and with the leadership of Dems, some decent legislation made it through, and some bad bills got shelved. The governor might not sign every bill into law. The graduated and tiered minimum wage hike is inadequate, as we noted last week, but it’s a step in the right direction. Legislation to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 is another step, but let’s keep in mind that burning trees is also a nasty way to generate power.

The insurance industry won what could be a temporary victory in the short session of the Oregon Legislature when a bill to increase the 29-year-old cap on damages on wrongful death lawsuits died quietly without a Senate vote. Two Lane county senators, Lee Beyer and Chris Edwards, said they would not support the change even though their caucus and governor did support it. The bill had passed the House easily. The present cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases is $500,000, passed in 1987 and never adjusted for cost-of-living increases.

Lane County Democrats gathered Feb. 18 for their traditional endorsement process for nonpartisan May Primary races. No big surprises (Lucy Vinis for mayor, Tony McCown for county commissioner), but no endorsements for any of the three Dems running to replace George Brown in Eugene City Council Ward 1. DPLC Chair Chris Wig is one of the candidates, and to avoid a conflict of interest, he turned over the meeting to Vice-chair Laura Gillpatrick.

Eugene Weekly does not condone or encourage acts of violence or destruction in the name of any cause. We were dismayed to find out that someone threw a large rock through the glass door of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce building in the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 13. The perpetrator also placed several copies of the Feb.

• A discussion about Eugene’s Downtown Urban Renewal District (DTURD, to some) at the City Council work session Feb. 8 offered indications of some councilors’ disregard for the public trust. DTURD diverts a portion of property taxes away from city, county and schools for projects intended to improve Eugene’s urban center. In general, the council agrees that DTURD projects, such as upgrading the city’s internet infrastructure, merit further consideration, but only a few questioned the ethics of renewing a program they pledged five years ago not to renew.

• As we enter into this election season, it’s time to ponder the question of how much power a non-elected official should have. Appointed City Manager Jon Ruiz appears to be making changes to the new City Hall without keeping the elected City Council in the loop (see News this issue). Maybe the issue of offices seems like no big deal on the surface, but it affects how our government will run in the future and how public money is spent on this project.