Slant 10-31-2013

• 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. Money to purchase the Civic acreage would not come from the General Fund, in which the city is experiencing a shortfall, but rather from city parks bond funds, approved by voters. Eugene city councilors recently tabled the idea of the city buying the stadium land, figuring the purchase had little public support. Wrong.

In a related development, we learned this week that School District 4J can use the proceeds from the sale of Civic Stadium land for more than just capital improvements. Board policy is that “Net proceeds from the sale or lease of facilities will be placed in a district capital improvement fund and used to acquire and develop land and/or upgrade and improve district facilities unless the board decides otherwise for compelling reasons.” The board already moved $2 million from facilities funds to support teachers and school operations last year and another $1 million is to be moved this year, according to 4J spokesperson Kerry Delf. 

• We’ve heard a lot of griping about the Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption during the ongoing city of Eugene budget discussions. Is MUPTE an unnecessary corporate giveaway or a useful planning tool to be used selectively to direct infill where we need it? Neighborhood advocate Paul Conte and 1000 Friends of Oregon Willamette Valley Advocate Mia Nelson will debate MUPTE at noon Friday, Nov. 1, at the City Club of Eugene meeting at the Hilton Ballroom. Let’s get educated.

• The Eugene City Council approved two 15-person rest stop sites Monday evening for homeless people needing a safe, legal site to sleep. The nonprofit-managed rest stops are a tiny step in the right direction. Just how tiny becomes obvious upon looking at the SLEEPS protest sites filled with far more than 30 people. Homeless advocates say the site at Chambers and Northwest Expressway is too sloped and prone to flooding, and they complain that opening one camp soon and another later is too slow a pace to deal with the shelter emergency.

• The Environmental Scorecard from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters is now out and our local lawmakers in Salem are doing fairly well. The last Scorecard was two years ago. Earning 94 percent gold stars this time are Reps. Sara Gelser (who will be running for the Senate next year), John Lively and Nancy Nathanson. The ratings have slipped a few points for Sens. Chris Edwards (89) and Floyd Prozanski (88), and Reps. Phil Barnhart (89), Paul Holvey (88) and Val Hoyle (78). Enviros would like to see these numbers higher, of course, and we’re hearing concerns that two high-ranked lawmakers in the state are leaving the Legislature. Sen. Jackie Dingfelder (100) is taking a job with the city of Portland and Rep. Jules Bailey (88) is running for Multnomah county commissioner. If there’s a consolation prize, Roseburg Rep. Bruce Hanna is considering not running for re-election and he has one of the worst OLCV records in the state (6). Roseburg Sen. Jeff Kruse earned a zero rating this time. It appears low OLCV ratings are bragging rights in some circles.

• From our sports closet: Oregon’s football team keeps rolling along, and the men’s basketball team looked impressive in its first exhibition, but if you want to watch the best athlete in Eugene you better get to a volleyball game. Oregon’s Liz Brenner is playing great volleyball for the Ducks. She played great basketball and softball for the Ducks and has thrown the javelin great distances for the Ducks. That’s right, she has competed at the highest NCAA levels in four sports for Oregon. Her performance earned her recognition as a finalist for the 2013 Sullivan Award, which goes to the nation’s top amateur athlete. Right now, she is tearing up the volleyball court, and Oregon has some great home games coming up. ASU comes to town at 6 pm Friday, Nov. 1, and Arizona takes on the Ducks at 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 2.

• A third-year UO law student recently told us that he will finish with a $100,000 debt,  and that’s smaller than the debt carried by many others. Maybe that’s the market saying “don’t go to law school.” But such heavy debt limits career choices and sends young lawyers to the conservative corporate jobs with the highest salaries. The poor public interest law sector will continue to starve, even though that kind of law is what inspires many idealistic students to pursue a law degree in the first place. 

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