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• While we welcome the recent re-embracing of long-form journalism, we weren’t impressed by The Oregonian’s recent and massive “Firestorm” piece. Fire is a huge concern in Oregon, but The O put thousands of words into laying blame on how the Malheur National Forest attacked last year’s Canyon Complex fires on Oregon’s east side, accusing firefighters of being timid, rather than examining how climate change and a lack of fire let those fires get so big in the first place.

• It’s Oregon summer. That means juicy blackberries, SLUG queen coronations and outdoor parties. The Eugene Celebration and its hokey but awesome parade have disappeared, the Festival of Eugene lasted only two years before falling apart in a storm of racism allegations, but the Whiteaker Block Party thrives. Can Eugene bring its downtown festival back? Last weekend marked the 10-year success of the Whit Block Party with its free entry, and that might have some lessons for party planners. Come party with the SLUG queens 6 pm, Friday, Aug.

• Two prominent political scientists who grew up in Eugene published an op-ed piece in the Sunday, July 31, edition of The New York Times arguing that states dominated by Democrats, blue states, are “generally better for your well-being.” Paul Pierson, political science professor at Berkeley, and Jacob Hacker, of Yale, use a powerful graph to illustrate their point.

• We’re proud to be a part of the political revolution led by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and millions of other Americans, many of them young and new to political action. And, as they passionately advise, this November we should do everything that we can to defeat Donald Trump and to elect Hillary Clinton. Clinton should handily win blue Oregon, but what can we do to help her outside our state? And what can we do to elect Democrats in the Senate? We especially feel the urgency when it comes to Supreme Court appointments.

 

The Republican National Convention is underway and we are already speechless. Let’s just start with asking how in the world an orange charlatan like Donald Trump has gotten within inches of one of the most powerful positions in the world? Plagiarized speeches, men walking around open carrying rifles. Watching coverage of the RNC, it’s hard to differentiate between the comedians and the journalists because the comedy writes itself. Trouble is, it’s not funny if anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, pro-hate Trump takes office.

• 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.