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• City of Eugene public hearings on budget options are coming up Jan. 21 and 29 (see Activist Alert). Once again this year, popular city services are on the chopping block, and we don’t really know why. The alleged $3 million budget gap is based on assumptions made by the city manager and his staff, and we don’t even know what all of those assumptions are. Just this week the city released its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for 2013 and it looks like city net assets increased by $7.3 million over 2012. 

• No shock that Fred Meyer came in first in a revenue analysis of three proposals for the Civic Stadium site, up for sale or lease by Eugene School District 4J. The analysis got a big headline in the daily rag (slow news day), but it was pretty predictable. Yes, Fred Meyer has more money to spend, but the question is what will give the most long-term  benefits to the community — we’re going to say a place for people to exercise rather than another big corporate store to shop in.

• Looks like before playing the Alamo Bowl, the UO Ducks football team missed the memo on the nationwide boycott of SeaWorld. After the documentary Blackfish called attention to the plight of SeaWorld’s orcas, acts including Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride, Heart, Cheap Trick, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson and REO Speedwagon all canceled appearances at the marine parks. The Ducks however went on a little field trip to SeaWorld San Antonio Aquatica Dec. 27 and mugged with some marine mammals.

Dreaming about Eugene? For this issue we asked a couple dozen local folks with a mix of interests what they would like to see happen here in the next few years. We expected half to respond, but instead nearly all did, often with great enthusiasm. It appears we are a community of big ideas and big dreams. We didn’t have enough pages this week to run all the responses, so we plan to continue next week. Keep dreaming! And we welcome letters on this theme as we enter the New Year.

• Rumors of a homeless person freezing to death during the cold snap were false, says Doug Bales, director of the Egan Warming Center. The official cause of that death is a drug overdose. “Not many freeze to death since Egan, but over the past five years there have been some deaths of exposure on nights we were open,” Bales writes.

Eugene is a like a big family where the parents squabble but mostly get along, some of the kids are bright-eyed A students, some are rebellious, some are going through hard times and are homeless but will be OK in time. Benevolent in-laws are around to provide guiding hands, and there’s a crazy uncle running around without pants, scaring the kids and alarming the neighbors. The wild kids, crazy uncles and people temporarily without homes hanging out downtown are getting a lot of media attention lately.

• We keep saying this and it’s worth repeating. Civic Stadium and the 10 acres it sits on are important to the character of this community. In the depth of the Great Depression, citizens of Eugene voted to help build the stadium, along with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, the WPA, the wood products industry and others.

• The fate of Civic Stadium has stirred a plethora of news stories, letters and op-eds and we keep looking for perspectives that get little attention. Jim Watson of Friends of Civic Stadium sent a letter to the mayor and Eugene City Council this week talking about the environmental impact of trashing a huge wooden stadium that’s still in good condition and replacing it with new concrete, steel and pavement.

• Want to help with the calamity in the Philippines? Climate activist and author Bill McKibben of 350.org recommends non-governmental organizations that do direct relief in the Philippines. He lists them and provides links at wkly.ws/1mf. Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most intense storm on record to hit land, has drawn more attention than usual to issues of climate change, in part due to the timing of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference.

• Welcome to our annual Best of Eugene issue, sometimes affectionately called the “Beast of Eugene” since it is our biggest honking issue of the year and demands brain-numbing weeks of labor by our writers and photogs, and thousands of ballots submitted by our readers. This is our fattest Beast issue ever at 76 pages with near-record ad revenue, so we have to thank our loyal advertisers as well. They recognize that EW print ads provide the most bang for the buck. You simply have to be in EW to build a crowd for your business or event.

• What do Eugeneans want to see happen at Civic Stadium? The public, as documented in a recent Lindholm Company phone survey, appears to favor selling it to the city and preserving the historic stadium as a soccer field and public park. The survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported selling Civic to the city and 28 percent opposed. We wager that more people will come around, especially as the prospect of swapping an important historic recreational site for a big-box store right in the middle of town looks worse and worse.

Wolves have endured a rocky reintroduction to Oregon, but with new legislation enacted this summer, wolves stand a better chance of surviving when they will disperse elsewhere into Oregon. OR-7, the famous Oregon wolf affectionately known as Journey for his 1,000-mile trek from the Wallowa Mountains to Northern California, was the first to do this, and more wolves could follow his example, eventually settling in the Crater Lake area or even the Willamette Valley. 

• The Eugene Budget Committee began a series of public outreach meetings this week, and we weren’t satisfied with the overly broad and simplistic exercise the city provided the audience. Most attendees wanted better information, clearer details and a more creative discussion. A city staffer says the city planned to repeat the exercise at the rest of its public outreach meetings, but changes are possible. Following the exercise, the audience moved to a more in-depth discussion.

• Eugene’s Finance Investigative Team (FIT) is a new addition to the city budget process, adding a group of invited community members to join some Budget Committee members to talk about how to balance the FY 2015 budget. The meetings are supposedly open to the public, but they have been held in a third-floor room of the Eugene Public Library that does not have public access, and no public notice was given. Is this a violation of Oregon’s Open Meetings Law?

• Lane County released the redacted investigation into Liane Richardson last week, and you can find the whole thing, for what it’s worth, on our blog. We appreciate that the county seems pretty pissed about what went on — the press release says several times that Richardson was “untruthful.” But what we don’t appreciate are the pages and pages of redactions — 30 or so pages are blacked out.

• EWEB will be looking at smart meters at its next board meeting at 5:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 1, and the topic is likely to draw a large and vociferous crowd. It’s on the agenda as “AMI Project” for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. We hear three options are being considered: shelving AMI, continuing existing plans to do pilot programs over the next three years with the idea of deploying the meters later or doing an opt-in approach based on customer demand.

Winter is approaching and the homeless among us are in increasing danger. The city of Eugene has spent millions over the years on programs to assist the homeless, the City Council has wrestled with many less-than-perfect proposals, local churches and nonprofits have struggled to provide life-saving services and facilities, human rights activists have protested and been arrested. It’s not enough. Thousands in our community still have no warm place to sleep, no place to prepare meals, no place to try to rebuild their lives.

Lane County Commissioners behaving badly: Pat Farr has been sniping at fellow Commissioner Pete Sorenson on his ForumLane.org blog, calling Sorenson “high atop his self-built pedestal” for his stand on Free Speech Plaza and the homeless. Add to that Jay Bozievich’s snarktastic comments about Sorenson, city officials and local environmental groups in emails and on his Facebook page and the right-leaning side of the County Commission is looking like kids fighting in a social-media sandbox. We’re tired of the mess at the county.

Lane County is a shit storm lately — both with accusations of bowel movements being flung about as protesters continue to occupy the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and with allegations of lying being flung by and at county officials. Jean Stacey of SLEEPS has filed a bar complaint against Liane Richardson and Stephen Dingle in connection to their recent poo testimony (see news briefs) and Commissioner Jay Bozievich created a stir when he used his Facebook page to accuse homeless advocate Alley Valkyrie and SLEEPS of lying.

• The Eugene Celebration showed off a revitalized downtown this year, and we heard lots of positive comments from people walking along Broadway who hadn’t been to our city center for a while. In between dancing, snacking and socializing, we also heard some grumbles about the LCC Downtown Center’s interior courtyard walled off from easy public access (“It could have been a mini-park,” said one observer) and we heard lots of complaints about the nearby concrete parking garage wall on the Capstone project along Olive.

The biggest, wildest weekend of the year is about to hit with the Eugene Celebration starting at 5 pm Friday, the big parade Saturday morning, all the activities and music downtown and more. Our Next Big Thing music contest finalists will perform for the judges at 1 pm Saturday at the Eugene Weekly/KRVM Broadway Stage. The Eugene Women’s Half Marathon will be Sunday, along with the ever-popular Pet Parade.

Phil Knight and Nike are hot topics following revelations about the absurd opulence of the new football facilities at UO. Letters are pouring in to local papers, but we don’t hear much about where Knight’s billions came from. Nike’s business model is quite simple, and Uncle Phil has been brilliant at monetizing it: Contract with factories in the poorest parts of Southeast Asia to manufacture high-end shoes and other apparel and threaten or cajole governments to allow those factories to pay workers less than minimum wages.

•  About the UO’s new football temple: To quote a young woman who worked with the serving crew for the celebratory dinners opening, “It’s disgusting.” We have neither space nor time to properly expand on her observation, but here are a couple of important questions for our public university:

Police Chief Pete Kerns has likely sprouted a few new gray hairs from the recent sexual harassment and abuse conviction of officer Stefan Zeltvay and, not long ago, a scandal involving gross mismanagement of EPD’s evidence lockers. Kerns has been proactive in damage control in both cases, much more so than any of his predecessors in the chief job. But we are left wondering what other bad behavior has been going on for years in the cop shop?