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November 13, 2014

What happens if the kicker kicks next year? Our news brief this week talks about how the Constitution-mandated tax rebate could be a big problem for the state budget. What we hear through the English ivy vine (Eugene’s equivalent to the grapevine) is that Phil Knight might be holding back on giving the UO big challenge bucks this year because it could trigger the kicker and the state could lose up to $300 million in the next biennium, hurting education. Crazy scenario.

November 6, 2014

It was ugly out there across America Tuesday night, but let’s give a cheer for Oregon, Washington and California, the left bank. Our state voted for legalized marijuana, for equal rights for women and against top-two primaries. We made some mistakes such as voting against increased student financial aid and denying legal driving to immigrants. We held the Democratic Legislature and supported reasonable people like Phil Barnhart, Peter DeFazio, Jeff Merkley and John Kitzhaber.

October 30, 2014

Time to get those ballots filled out and in the mail by Thursday, Oct. 30. Ballots also can be dropped off at Lane County Elections at 10th and Lincoln, or in one of the white ballot boxes downtown or on campus. Deadline is 8 pm Tuesday, Nov. 4, and postmarks don’t count. See our endorsements round-up in this issue and for more information, dig out last week’s EW from the recycling bin or go to eugeneweekly.com.

October 23, 2014

Lots of juicy stuff on the ballot that just arrived in our mailboxes and we encourage everyone, as we say on our cover, to “Drop everything and vote.” Check out our endorsements this week. Many of the races and measures will be decided not only on their merits but also on turnout. Statewide polling by the Lindholm Company indicates voters are paying the most attention to the pot legalization, GMO labeling and drivers license measures. 

October 16, 2014

• We expect a public announcement about Phil Knight’s big gift to UO will be made at a breakfast meeting Friday, Oct. 17, somewhere on campus, and to which 300 are invited. We broke the story last week about the Knight family preparing to make a rumored $1 billion gift, with strings attached, but the amount could be more or less, according to UOmatters.com. The gift could be the largest ever made to a university anywhere, and if it goes to academic programs and scholarships, as anticipated, it would give UO a tremendous boost where it’s really needed.

October 9, 2014

• National sportscasters were speculating about Phil Knight’s giant gift to the UO during the losing Duck football game, so it must be time for a local announcement. The rumor we’ve heard is that $1 billion from the Knights will go the UO this month with some kind of match requirement. If true, that could help attract a superman or superwoman president, or maybe not.

October 2, 2014

What’s next for City Hall? We may see some buyer’s remorse from city councilors when they eventually confront the real costs of their decision to tear down our full-block City Hall and built a little City Hall on the rubble. The final price tag of a “light-filled” and truly energy-efficient building could be a lot more than the estimated $11 million for the Phase I construction.

September 25, 2014

A decision on Eugene City Hall is expected by the City Council after we go to press this week, and it could go either way (see our story last week). City staff and Rowell Brokaw Architects have the advantage of the final word. Rowell Brokaw has a vested interest in making the old City Hall look bad and making the proposed new City Hall look wonderful. But design and environmental issues aside, the elephant in the room is Phase II of a new City Hall.

September 18, 2014

A group of local architects is deeply concerned about what is planned for Eugene City Hall, and we outline their perspectives this week on page 9. Further discussion on tearing down City Hall has been delayed until the City Council’s Sept. 22nd and 24th meetings and will hopefully be delayed again for re-evaluation. The council and administration have been debating what to do with City Hall for about 15 years, but we have a different city council now, and it will be different again 15 years from now. This is a time for leadership.

September 11, 2014

• ArtsHound on Broadway (and Willamette), our box art contest and project, was a smashing success for September’s First Friday ArtWalk. Thank you to the artists, artwalkers, participating businesses and Lane Arts Council for collaborating with EW. FFAW coordinator Jessica Watson, who’s been on more than 60 ArtWalks, says it was one of the best-attended walks she’s seen. 

September 4, 2014

Our Pop Quiz on City Hall this week is an attempt to look more closely at the predicament we have gotten ourselves in regarding the fate of City Hall. Is destruction imminent? We hear the city has not yet acquired a demolition permit. Meanwhile, some new information is being batted around this week about estimates for remodeling that were done a couple of years ago by Turner Construction’s Portland office. Was the Eugene City Council given an accurate analysis of the true costs of renovating City Hall vs. tearing it down and rebuilding?

August 28, 2014

• We lamented in this column Aug. 14 that Eugene City Hall is about to be destroyed following a split decision by the City Council to abandon the sustainable concept of repairing, rebuilding or repurposing the full city block structure. Rowell Brokaw Architects and city leaders are planning a brief celebration of “Eugene City Hall Past & Future” from 11 am to noon Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the corner of 8th and Pearl. “We will honor the history of the building and look forward to our new City Hall,” reads the announcement.

August 20, 2014

• If you are worried about public safety in Lane County, consider that this county has received $2,736,425 worth of surplus military equipment from the Department of Defense —  more than any other Oregon county. That’s according to an Aug. 15 Associated Press story in The Oregonian. Equipment includes one wheeled combat vehicle, 91 infrared illuminators, two ordnance disposal robots and 15 rifles. Coming free to cops across America, this surplus stuff was manufactured with our tax dollars.

August 13, 2014

• We hear rumors that Eugene City Hall could fall to the wrecking ball as early as the first week in September. Gone will be the iconic round council chambers and a city block of massive reinforced concrete understructure — despite earlier decisions by the City Council to repair, rebuild or reuse the $40 million building. The decision-making process is obscure and puzzling, particularly since the evidence is clear that many millions of dollars can be saved by reinforcing and rebuilding on the existing understructure and its valuable underground parking. 

August 6, 2014

Does anybody remember Rudy Crew? He was the nationally known education expert hired by Gov. John Kitzhaber to figure out how to finance and fix Oregon’s public education system. He was a bust. It was soon apparent that he wasn’t that interested in Oregon kids and he was off to the next bigger job. The governor then wisely persuaded Nancy Golden, recently retired and much loved superintendent of Springfield schools, to become his education czar. Nobody doubts her competence or her dedication to Oregon kids. So, this is a cautionary tale.

July 30, 2014

• A majority of five of the Eugene City Council, backed by strong support from Mayor Kitty Piercy, showed that rare quality of leadership this week in passing both the sick leave law and a tighter climate recovery ordinance. Six councilors favored climate action. The Register-Guard, conservative councilors, the idiotic and out-of-touch Lane County Commission and, of course, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce all asked for either delays or no such action as sick leave for workers in this city.

July 23, 2014

• Eugene’s proposed ordinance requiring paid sick leave time for employees who work in Eugene inspired a majority of Lane County commissioners to vote to prohibit such an ordinance in the county, but it’s not clear why these reactionary commissioners are so offended by an improvement in working conditions for their constituents (who vote, by the way). It’s a turf battle that may end up in the courts.

July 16, 2014

• UO professor and research psychologist Jennifer Freyd (a nationally recognized scholar and a source for our series on campus rape) wrote a July 14 opinion piece for Al Jazeera America, “Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead.” In it, she discusses the urgency for widespread administration of expert-created campus climate surveys (recommended by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault) — the same type of survey the UO rejected due to Freyd’s potential “bias.” The piece notes these surveys are

July 9, 2014

 Marijuana legalization in Oregon is likely to be on the November ballot (we will know for sure Aug. 2 when election officials verify valid initiatives) and we’re already hearing concerns about kids eating THC-laced cookies and candy, along with being exposed to even more messages that pot is OK. Well, we like to think that legalizing and regulating pot will pump millions into education, including programs that teach kids about the dangers of drug use while their brains are still forming.

July 3, 2014

• Nothing celebrates freedom on the Fourth of July like a police state crackdown! Eugene’s plans to begin “no refusal” blood test weekends with Independence Day Friday has drawn criticism from across the country. “No refusal” means suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath testing will be blood tested for alcohol. Is it legal? A 2013 Supreme Court decision says it is that as long as the police have a warrant for the blood draw. Warrants can be achieved with a quick phone call to a judge.

June 26, 2014

• We wrote about longtime medical marijuana activist Jim Greig in this column May 8 when we heard he was not long for this world, and we enjoyed a final, upbeat conversation with him a short time before he died at home June 16. He expressed to us his gratitude for his 63 years on this planet, his family, his work and his many supporters. Greig suffered from debilitating arthritis, lung cancer and blindness in one eye. He found relief from his pain and other symptoms with medical pot, reducing his need for opiates.

June 19, 2014

• The Eugene Celebration (the official version of it anyway) may be canceled for this year, but the parade will go on. Kesey Enterprises sent out a press release announcing that thanks to “overwhelming public input and encouragement,” there will be a 2014 Eugene Celebration Parade 11 am Aug. 23 thanks to Lane Community College, the city of Eugene and an all-volunteer steering committee. That evening there will be a $5 concert at the Cuthbert. Sounds like plans are still underway by community members for an unofficial, and free, celebration of Eugene.

June 12, 2014

• Eugene’s daily rag editorialized June 5 that the Eugene Celebration has become “calcified” and “perhaps it’s just as well” that the plug has been pulled this year. Well, we still adore the Eugene Celebration and parade and the only thing that’s calcified is the R-G’s perspective from the outskirts of town. There’s no doubt the celebration, even with its flaws, is much loved in the region, as demonstrated by the immediate community response to fill the void left by Kesey Enterprises.

June 5, 2014

No Eugene Celebration or parade this summer? We broke the news on our blog and Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Sad news for all of us who are big fans and have been going and volunteering for more than three decades now. Maybe our great and quirky parade can be salvaged. It’s the one time each year when our entire, diverse community comes together — north, south, east and west. What happens now? Will the Whiteaker Block Party (which is free) become the new Eugene Celebration?