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February 9, 2016 01:13 PM

The Union of Concerned Scientists this week published an essay by noted scientist Jeremy Martin, Ph.D., about the impact of low fuel prices on efforts to get the U.S. and the world off fossil fuels.

February 3, 2016 05:00 PM

Are Eugene city councilors getting left out of the loop when it comes to the construction of the new City Hall and their future offices there? Or lack of offices, as the case may be.

Recently more than half the City Council questioned City Manager Jon Ruiz on the latest developments with the public building under construction.

In an email to Ruiz and her fellow city councilors on Jan. 30, Councilor Betty Taylor writes, “As I told you during our recent conversation, I am shocked that plans for the new City Hall do not include councilors’ offices.” Instead, she says in the email, the plans now call for “work spaces.”

Taylor continues, “You said that individual councilors told the planners (architects?) that they would not use the offices. They did not ask me, but that is not my main point.”

Taylor goes on to detail the many reasons City Hall would need offices for its elected officials, from having office hours open to the public to the ability to have a “conversation without the risk of discussing council business with a quorum outside of a public meeting.”

The current plans apparently call for the mayor and city manager to have offices separated by two floors from the “work spaces,” she writes, adding that this “indicates a lack of respect for the positions of ward-elected officials.”

Read more in Thursday’s EW

February 3, 2016 03:41 PM

Occupy Eugene does not endorse the 2E Broadway proposal to put a building on Kesey Square, quite the opposite.

You wouldn’t know this, however, from reading the proposal from the 2E Broadway development team, headed by Rowell Brokaw Architects (the same firm who got the contract for City Hall after a “deeply flawed” process. The proposal was turned in at the request of City Manager Jon Ruiz, who put out a request for RFEIs (request for expressions of interests) from interested parties for the future of Kesey Square. The deadline for RFEIs was Jan. 15.

The 2E Broadway proposal specifically states:

"We’ve met with folks from Occupy and even they start getting excited about the project once they understand it."

 

 

 

Occupy as in Occupy Eugene, the local group that is part of the national activist movement fighting social and economic inequality. EW received a press release from Occupy Eugene Jan. 5, titled: "Occupy Eugene Urges City Keep Kesey Square Public."

The press release goes on to say:

“Occupy Eugene is urging concerned residents of Eugene make their voices heard. Call the city at (541) 682-5010, and ask the council to postpone the decision about selling off Kesey Square to developers. In addition, ask for a more open decision process involving the public. Finally, ask the council to preserve and protect Kesey Square as public space, accessible to all. They can also be contacted at:mayorcouncilandcitymanager@ci.eugene.or.us”

The Occupy press release continues:

“All communities need a public space to flourish. In downtown Eugene, today, Kesey Square is that place. Occupy Eugene calls on the council to demonstrate the leadership, vision and courage it takes to make our community a great and vibrant one. Kesey Square must remain in public ownership. This press release is from the Communications Committee of Occupy Eugene that has been empowered to speak on behalf of the larger Occupy Eugene body.”

EW contacted Occupy Eugene to verify that the group had not changed it stance, to verify that is was not, in fact, endorsing the 2E Broadway proposal.

Occupy Eugene member Art Bollman says he was upset to hear that the proposal made the claim that Occupy Eugene was enthusiastic about the project to put a building on Kesey Square, or what the 2E Broadway proposal likens to a “pit,” when Occupy Eugene’s stance is the opposite.

“Occupy is concerned about public space,” Bollman tells EW. “The whole idea of protecting public space downtown is important to us for first amendment rights to protest and to have cultural gatherings.”

Bollman says some Occupy members went to a presentation in early fall 2015 that the developers for 2E Broadway hosted, but Occupy Eugene was never “excited” about it.

“It was obvious from the presentation that they had already put thousands of dollars into it,” Bollman says. “Some people wonder if that’s an informal go ahead from the city manager.”

Bollman continued, saying of the City Council, the Mayor Kitty Piercy and City Manager Jon Ruiz: “It feels like they’ve been slowly getting rid of public space.”

Rowell Brokaw Architects and others on the development team have not responded to several requests for comment.

Above: From the 2E Broadway Proposal

To read all the proposals for Kesey Square, which the City Council will consider in February, go here.

 

February 3, 2016 11:31 AM

The state of Oregon landed a failing grade in valuing public education, according to the Network for Public Education's 50 state report card, released Feb. 2. 

The Network for Public Education, a national advocacy group in support of public education, rated each state based on six distinct criteria. Oregon received separate grades for each of the six categories, and then those grades were averaged together to come up with Oregon's D grade.

From the report:

State policies and laws enacted since the beginning of the No Child Left Behind Act have taken a toll on our public schools. Prior to NCLB, nearly every state would have earned a grade of "A" in the criteria, No High Stakes Testing. This year, only 5 states earned a grade of "A." Grades in the criteria Chance for Success are lower than they would have been a decade ago, due to rising numbers of students living in poverty and increased racial isolation in schools. And when it comes to school finance, our national grade is a dismal "D."

Oregon scored Ds in the following categories: the professionalization of teaching, school finance, spending taxpayer resources wisely and chance for success. The state received Cs in the categories of resistance to privatization and no high-stakes testing.
 
No state received an overall score higher than a C. Oregon was one of 30 states to receive an overall D grade. Eight states scored Fs. 
 
"It is our hope as advocates for public education that this report will rally parents, educators and other concerned citizens to strengthen their commitment to public schools," the report says.
 
February 2, 2016 01:26 PM

Elizabeth Warren has an op-ed in The New York Times this week about how administrations affect federal agency rules, set priorities and take executive actions independent of Congress. Scary stuff if a right-winger ends up in the White House again.

February 2, 2016 03:16 PM

New video is out by House Democrats as the short session of the Oregon Legislature begins this week.

February 2, 2016 05:07 PM

In the search for a missing teenage girl who fell into the water at Cape Kiwanda last weekend, two local fire and rescue workers got into trouble when their personal watercraft capsized in the surf. A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter rescued them in this video shot by a State Police officer's body camera. The search for the 17-year-old, Megan Owens of Marysville, Washington,  continues.

February 1, 2016 11:51 AM

A Masterwork for the New Century:

La Compagnie Hervé Koubi at WhiteBird Dance

 

A remarkable piece of movement, a triumph, really, Hervé Koubi’s Ce que le jour doit a la nuit, or in English, ‘What the day owes the night’ pulls together threads stretching into the past, the present and the future.

            With a seemingly effortless hand, Koubi weaves together an inexplicably organic, yet richly structured effort, one that satisfies the head and the heart in equal measures.

            Featuring twelve male dancers, all from Algiers, the 70-minute piece unfolds from a static, formless mass, to explore the sinew of the space, through changes in rhythm, shape and dynamics. Each dancer brings something unique to the cause, wearing on his body the familial memory, perhaps of war, of rebellion, of rule, a new generation of Algerian men, careening through the tapestry of time.

            Koubi traces on the backs of these dancers his origins, late discovered, of his own Algerian past. Yet this is not a political piece. This does not have an axe to grind, or a soapbox to stand on. If anything, Koubi softens the lens, and pulls it wider, allowing the audience to simply appreciate something humane: He offers a new idea of men, of nurturance, of interconnectedness and community.

            Koubi embraces the athletic mastery of these movers, adopting and utilizing their skills – acrobatic flips and falls, head spins, inversions, turns and lifts – and cannily transforms these movements from ‘street’ vernacular to something exquisite, almost formal, without putting on one whiff of pretention. It’s as if Koubi can regulate the expression of the dance, and temper it, always, with restraint and balance.

            Towards the end of the piece, the artists face the audience for the first time, and one realizes that rather than devolving into the kind of showy trickery that some overtly athletic dance can veer itself into – spiraling into a kind of egoic, “Hey, look at me!” childishness - this piece had the confidence, the vision, to say something more, something deeper, and that those questions could be seen and echoed in each and every movement.

            It’s hard to describe, and even harder to believe, but the alchemic reactions of these movers approached the depth and breadth of nature itself, at times moored and solid, and simultaneously flowing, like waves crashing on the rocks, or the bright wind rushing through the trees.

            There were a few moments like these, of such pronounced and arresting beauty, that this reviewer was actually brought to tears.

            I wish I could see it again. Bravo. 

February 1, 2016 11:44 AM

Mary O'Brien, Ph.D., longtime Eugene resident and environmental activist now living in Utah, wrote an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune Jan. 30 about grazing practices in the West and the Bundy standoff. O'Brien will be in Eugene Friday for the Beyond Toxics anniversary party starting at 5;30 pm at Capitello Wine Bar, 540 Charnelton Street.