Slant 4-25-2013

• One week after the Boston Marathon, more than 35,000 athletes ran the London Marathon. Some 8,500 are expected in the Eugene Marathon races April 27-28, and hundreds of thousands more are running in cities around the world, many with tributes to Boston and renewed determination to carry on to the finish line. In our frustrating search for meaning in all the insanity that’s happening in the world, we are brought back to ponder the lines painted large on the Hayward Field east grandstand: “Believe in the power of the run.”

• The recent debacle over Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson’s request for a raise and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering for control of Lane Metro Partnership showed us a couple things. First, transparency in government is sorely needed around here. The citizens need to trust our elected officials and those whom they appoint. Second, the conservative majority on the Lane County Board of Commissioners is tone deaf, as is Richardson. A $20,000 raise for an employee already making $150,000 when the underfunded county is asking voters for a tax levy on their homes? Lane County politics should be about how to improve the lives of citizens, not about personal gain and political advancement. Finally, props to the R-G for stepping up and doing some real county digging; we were starting to feel lonely. 

Two architecture teams are finalists in the selection to design a rebuilt City Hall. In this column April 4 we were critical of the process and its lack of public input. Out of eight people on the selection committee, only Hugh Prichard was not a city staffer. Now City Manager Jon Ruiz has invited public comments, including a public meeting with the finalists sometime in May. Good idea, but it’s a bit late. Our community has exceptional brainpower when it comes to architecture, and it’s possible the top design teams would be different if the public were more involved. We noticed architect Dan Herbert is calling on Ruiz to make available more information, particularly regarding the design teams’ “philosophy toward sustainability and starting with an existing building.” 

Thomas Hacker Architects and Rowell Brokaw are the finalists. THA already billed the city for more than $1.1 million back in 2007 for design and PR work on an eyebrow-raising $188 million steel and glass palace with a 200-car underground garage. It was shelved when opinion polls were unfavorable and the economy tanked. Not everyone was happy with THA’s design and the expensive process. Back then the city had $27 million saved up toward the project, but $17 million was diverted (avoiding another failed public vote) to buy and remodel a 66,000-square-foot building for police headquarters north of the river. The city administration is trying to rebuild that facilities fund, in part by quietly re-allocating General Fund excess revenues.

Right-wing power brokers with big bucks continue to buy up media companies in an effort to expand their political agendas. The latest is an effort by the Koch Brothers to acquire Tribune Co.’s eight newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and two of the largest papers in the swing state of Florida. Last week in this column we wrote about the pending sale of Fisher Communication’s KVAL and KMTR TV stations to the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group. We’ve since heard from KVAL General Manager Greg Rashio that if the acquisition is completed, “Sinclair will bring a beneficial scale and scope to the current Fisher stations and an ownership that is committed to local broadcasting well into the future.” Regarding Sinclair’s reputation for radical national programming, Rashio quotes ethics faculty member Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, saying, “Sinclair stations generally report the news without interference. Most of what they do is just fine.” Well, when it comes to media and their role in democracy, we expect major news outlets to do better than that.

• “Bring duct tape. Bring Sharpies. Bring tent. See you, Eugene! April 27. Stay occupied,” Michelle Shocked recently tweeted at local freelance writer Jackie Varriano, with the hashtag #truthvsreality. After publicly flip-flopping between anti-gay and pro-love sentiments, EW wonders what wackadoo truth or reality Shocked (once self-identified as bisexual, now turned born-again Christian) lives in. Cozmic General Manager Alec Cox says he is expecting her, even though he canceled her April 27 show. “It was pretty scary negative,” he says of her homophobic rant at a recent San Fran concert. “That is not the right act for my stage.” Maybe Shocked will be protesting outside Cozmic, or maybe she heard that Eugene is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors” and just wants to make one of those rad duct tape suits and go camping with you. But don’t count on it; she’s been known to change her mind.

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