Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 10.04.07


Eugene Weekly 25th Anniversary Issue

What are We Doing Here?
An introspective look at our unique publication

Starting the Paper
Silver linings in cloudy times

Thanks for the Memories

Getting Readers Excited
Your editor reflects on nearly a decade of reader response

EW Enviro

And time goes on, and on, and…
Eugene Weekly Timeline



September: In the depths of a statewide recession, five friends start an arts and community calendar called What’s Happening in a garden workshop.They have little money or experience, but lots of enthusiasm and eight pages in the first edition.



October: What’s Happening cartoonist Jan Eliot travels to New York to attend a cartoonist conference and try and get her Patience & Sarah strip syndicated.

November: Chuck Berry plays the newly opened Hult Center for the Performing Arts.



December: A film review of Lola recommends the movie about a post-war German prostitute for being cynical but with humor and for its “luscious Hollywood style.” It’s the first of many Bijou art films the paper sends readers to.


February: The Register-Guard smears public access TV in a biased article and staged photo attacking citizen broadcasting as too radical.



April: The 14th annual Saturday Market opens at its new location on the Park Blocks. Its popularity triumphs over early opposition from the downtown business establishment and County Commission.

September: WH celebrates its first birthday with 16 pages reaching 18,000 readers.



September: The first Eugene Celebration “tantalizes the senses” with a logging competition, parade, fireworks, arts show, fresh produce and gourmet delights.


April: Eugene Opera presents La Traviata at the Hult. Almost 200 readers respond to a survey about the paper; most are age 25 to 35.



October: The 14th Willamette Valley Folk Festival takes place on the EMU lawn with three afternoons of free live entertainment and workshops.

November: Fourth John Lennon birthday celebration comes together with joy, happiness and music to celebrate the dead Beatle.



December: Miles of bike routes throughout the city make bicycle commuting easy, enjoyable and often quicker than driving or taking the bus.


March: The fourth Irish Festival moves to the Eugene Conference Center for music and dancing



April: The city touts opening Willamette Street, building the Downtown Athletic Club, a developer considering a major retail, theater and restaurant redevelopment and talk of a downtown hotel as keys to rejuvenating downtown.

June: Eugene’s Bach Festival draws thousands to celebrate the musical genius of a German composer who died two centuries ago.



October: UO students and professors question the environmental impact, subsidies and undemocratic process of the UO’s proposed Riverfront Research Park development.


March: The winner of the “Eugene 2050” story contest is published. In the future Eugene “is a living laboratory for visiting scientists who seek to maximize the Earth’s resources. It’s paradise.”



June: Airport expansion proposal is “likened to a balloon of the metal variety.” A travel agent comments: “If I had to choose between an expanded airport and an expanded library, I’d be hard pressed.”

October: Elections endorsementment issue recommends a “yes” on a nuclear free zone, shutting down Trojan and pot. “If people could grow their own, the money now leaving town in the pockets of the pushers would remain in the local economy.”



December: Personal ads are becoming one of the most read parts of the paper. For example: “Lithe, fecund, non-lycanthropic Scandinavian satyr seeks hormone balancing with macrobiotic deep ecologist who loves cats, cuddling, X-C skiing, folk-dancing, leather and nuclear disarmament.”


February: “Loggers have transformed dense forests in to scarred slopes, like Shermans marching to the sea, strewing charred rubble in the wake of an endless supply of two-by-fours.”



July: “Many wondered if [local skydiving] could survive the tragic death last year of Jim Wright Sr., a highly respected veteran of 5,000-plus jumps who was killed when he failed to open his chute.”

October: What’s Happening celebrates its five-year anniversary. The 16-page paper is put out by three women with a full-time staff of seven, has a circulation of 18,000 and can be picked up in more than 200 locations. Articles about “poetry readings, theaters, country fairs, art shows running trails and even … skydiving” are wrapped around a weekly calendar.



November: Cinema 7 in the Atrium building downtown closes after 13 years of art house films. “Eugene’s business climate is not responsive to the business of art,” said owner Steve Bove.


June: City rules that the backyard newspaper business with 5 or 6 employees is in violation of zoning codes. The paper takes out a loan and moves into old music practice rooms at its present location at 1251 Lincoln Street.



February: The Forest Service proposes to heavily log popular recreational areas like the Waldo Country, Hardesty Mountain, Fall Creek, the McKenzie Drainage, the Cathedral stands of Millennium Grove and Breitenbush.


August: An anonymous Eugene Deadhead wrote, “When I walked into my first show, a beautiful woman in a long dress, nothing on under it, and carrying a rose … took me by the hand and led me in and dosed me, and that was when I saw what was really going on.”



November: “Recently 32 cases of methamphetamine-related lead poisoning have been reported in Oregon.” In March the paper reported that Oregon is a meth “mecca for what officials are hoping doesn’t turn into a growth industry.”


February: The up and down timber industry is booming again and targeting federal old-growth forests.



April: The many mentally ill homeless people in Lane County are doubly unfortunate with a lack of both shelter and mental health care.


June: Jeff DeBonis, a Willamette National Forest timber sales planner, rebels against clearcuts and forms the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.



November: What’s Happening remembers The Augur, the local underground paper that covered the tumultuous anti-war protests and cultural revolution from 1969 to 1974.


January: A breast on the cover sparks accusations and building graffiti charging that the feminist-run newspaper is “sexist.” The charge is repeated a decade later after the paper publishes sex ads and a satirical essay on guns and dildos.



October: Ballot Measure 5 proposes cutting property taxes by half without establishing any alternative source of income.

November: Many homeless people prefer illegal camping over the Mission. A group goes undercover to reveal problems with “the food, rules, religious requirements, emergency provisions, and the treatment” at the city’s only homeless shelter for singles.



December: Eugene’s alienated adolescents, mall kids, death-rockers, second generation hippies, runaways, dropouts and homeless youngsters hang out on the downtown mall.


January: Hundreds of protesters block I-5 before being disbursed by tear gas. About 1,500 demonstrators fill the Ferry Street Bridge and march on the federal building calling for peace on the eve of the first Gulf War.



May: Some of the nation’s best collegiate athletes compete at the NCAA track and field championships at the UO.

July: Hilcrest Training School in Salem offers juvenile sex offenders hope for recovery.



October: Some wine experts now say that Oregon hosts the best wine growing area in the entire U.S.


May: After What’s Happening struggles financially, former Washington Post reporter Anita Johnson, her attorney husband, Art Johnson, and retired Wall Street Journal editor Fred Taylor invest in the paper, become part owners and emphasize increased news coverage.



July: Keno and video poker are dangerous to compulsive gamblers but attractive to a state government struggling with budget cuts.


September: After passing an anti-gay measure, Springfield struggles to recover from being “in a national spotlight with the ugly egg of discrimination on its face.”



September: What’s Happening celebrates its 10th anniversary by asking for predictions for Eugene 10 years in the future. Retired Realtor Jean Tate doesn’t see housing prices taking big jumps, but economist Ed Whitelaw predicts an influx of Californians.


June: While receiving millions in tax exemptions, Sacred Heart has the highest profits of any hospital in Oregon while ranking near the bottom in charity care.



September: Progressives accuse unelected City Manager Mike Gleason of subverting democracy by manipulating and misleading elected officials to pursue his own pro-developer agenda. What’s Happening changes its name to Eugene Weekly to reflect its change from an arts calendar to a full-fledged alternative weekly newspaper.



October: The UO moves to tear down Amazon family housing in a wasteful project with an arrogant architect that will more than double the housing costs of impoverished student families.



November: Livability and environmental advocates oppose an $83 million freeway plan for widening the Ferry Street Bridge to facilitate traffic and sprawl. Voters later defeat the freeway bridge measure, and the federal money goes to build a more modest road project and the DeFazio bike bridge.



January: Eugene’s police and fire bill is higher than what other comparable cities pay and has grown faster than demand, inflation or cops and firefighters on the street.



July: A secret privatization proposal by UO administrators would boost resident tuition by $2,000 while protecting the administration from budget cuts, public records reveal. With its increased news emphasis, EW is accepted into the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.



September: Urban sprawl has sucked the life out of the city’s heart, leaving a struggling downtown mall. Conservatives blame not sprawl but the pedestrian mall and successfully push to have it torn out. Downtown only gets worse.



December: After boosting tuition and slashing academic funding for years, the UO plans to spend $1.2 million on travel, bonuses and parties for the Rose Bowl.



January: Amid a development boom, citizens say that high-priced housing sprawl isn’t what Eugene and the environment need, want and can afford.



March: The pro-sprawl R-G struggles with allegations of bias, fluff, nepotism and greed as circulation falls and it moves to the suburbs.



June: Bureaucrats’ secret recruitment of Hyundai to the west Eugene wetlands with at least $50 million in public subsidies creates storms of protest. The controversial chip plant will destroy acres of rare habitat, generate tons of toxics and consume a small city’s worth of electricity, water, sewage and road capacity while offering little job security.



November: Calls for more openness and a citizen review board clash with secretive police culture. In 1995 the EPD hires Officer Roger Magaña, who later rapes and abuses more than a dozen women before he’s finally convicted in 2004.



January: School choice policy segregates Eugene schools by race and income leaving Whiteaker Elementary the poorest school in the state.



March: Police and prosecutors wink at police and vigilante shootings.



May: Documents reveal tradition of lax discipline of bad cops at the EPD.



July: The UO’s Riverfront Research Park consumes more than $12 million in subsidies while threatening a natural area and creating few jobs.



April: Enron and other corporations’ push to deregulate electricity in Oregon could fry consumers.


June: Police empty every can of pepper spray they have on protesters seeking to save a stately grove of downtown trees from being chain-sawed for a parking garage.



October: Growth creates a housing crisis that leaves more than 1,000 people homeless, but officials do little.



November: UO President Dave Frohnmayer gushes at big Nike donations funded with sweatshop labor.



March: The Eugene City Council fires City Manager Vicki Elmer after blistering, anonymous criticism from city executives whose jobs were threatened in budget cuts and city reforms.



April: A city consultant finds that in-house attorneys save money and avoid potential conflicts of interest compared to the city’s powerful private law firm. But after City Manager Vicki Elmer is fired, the study goes nowhere.



May: After the Thurston High School shootings, political leaders avoid the burning gun control issue.



September: Widespread police abuse of pepper spray for torture spurs demands for reform.



February: Freeway planners push a $50 million, massive tangled wad of concrete to serve sprawl near Gateway Mall.



March: Cops have balked at council direction to implement more effective, cheaper and friendlier community policing since 1991.



March: After arsonists torch a Vail lodge and a logger kills a protester with a falling tree and police torture chained protesters with pepper spray, activists at the UO environmental law conference debate escalation.



April: With urban sprawl accelerating, citizens criticize huge city subsidies for developers.



March: A backlash grows against standardized state testing that critics say is an unfair, underfunded waste of scarce learning time and money that cheats kids of a real education.



August: The 4J School District sells student health to soda pop corporation profits. Under increasing public pressure, 4J finally bans the practice six years later.



September: Homeless get by on attitude, faith and a little help from their friends as hope shines through suffering on the streets.



November: Under financial pressure from UO mega-donor and Nike CEO Phil Knight, UO President Dave Frohnmayer stiff arms a student anti-sweatshop group.



March: Moving Sacred Heart to the edge of the city will devastate downtown and create urban sprawl and a snarl of traffic on already clogged roads, critics charge.



September: In the face of a relentless drumbeat for war after the 9/11 attacks, many in Eugene still pray for peace.



October: The West Eugene Parkway threatens to destroy a swath of rare wetlands, boost sprawl and bankrupt local transportation funding.



November: A hundred years of bad ideas, greed and racism trash the sensitive Klamath ecosystem and its people.



January: Feds target Eugene activists: Is the antiquated grand jury system being used as a political tool of repression?



February: Other Oregon cities help fund their budget-battered schools; Eugene could do the same. A group of citizens runs with EW‘s idea and later passes a $36 million bond measure for schools.



September: Conservative Christians attack proposal for city domestic partner registry.



November: Eugene struggles to house its homeless.



February: Local residents find dozens of ways to oppose the looming Iraq war and injustice.



March: Urban Renewal takes a chunk out of schools and the needy to provide a “slush fund” for developers.



October: Eugene police stop and search black and Latino drivers at far higher rates but deny they are racial profiling.



November: Few disagree with the idea of sustainable development. But how exactly to define sustainable development, how much regulatory teeth to give it and how much priority to give it compared to traditional development efforts remains unsettled.



January: Eugene police officer Roger Magaña is finally fired after raping and abusing more than a dozen women. A criminal trial later reveals how other EPD officers failed to stop Magaña despite repeated complaints.


May: The EW and progressives back Kitty Piercy for mayor while the R-G and developers back Nancy Nathanson. Environmental sustainability beats pro-sprawl handily in the election.



September: The Measure 36 constitutional ban on gay marriage brings up questions of civil rights, religious freedom and the conservative agenda in the national election but has very little to do with love.



December: Local recording studios push and polish a growing music community.



January: The UO’s remodeled Schnitzer Museum of Art reopens with Warhol. The museum has doubled in size and increased community outreach to affirm Eugene as a city of the arts.



February: An LTD bus driver strike looms as the union and management clash over mismanagement, health care, capital spending and respect.



April: EW spoofs the R-G with a mock cover of the daily on its back page.



May: Two years after a scandal in which two police officers were convicted of raping or sexually abusing more than a dozen women, the EPD has yet to provide a full public accounting of what went wrong and is resisting an independent civilian review board.


March: As the Bush Administration brings the massive post-9/11 security apparatus to bear against activists accused of burning SUVs, a ski resort and corrals at a wild horse slaughtering facility, the really burning question may be, what is terrorism?


August: A new City Hall faces many thorny hurdles including questions of cost, voter support, police location and renovation as an alternative.



September: Kathryn Lucktenberg ignites the Eugene Symphony as its energetic concertmaster.



November: Local eco-radicals helped ignite a sabotage boom and bust that ended in mass arrests and federal prison, as told in a five-part EW series.



March: To fight sexual ignorance, EW ads edgy Seattle sex columnist Dan Savage. Letters to the editor become sex obsessed and Savage comes to Eugene to provide therapy.



April: Massive downtown redevelopment proposal with $50 million in public subsidies sparks debate on whether the city should pursue a shopping mall or local diversity on Broadway.


June: About 1,000 dogs and cats have been killed by the county pound so far in 2007. A growing number of people think they might have a better solution to Lane County’s animal overpopulation problem.



October: EW celebrates its 25th anniversary!