Slant 6-5-2014

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? We remember when the EC was free and timed for late September when students were back on campus. Will “Little Portland” businesses downtown take it over? How about the UO athletic department? Ducks on parade. How about the Eugene Police Department? The EC is good for overtime. The SLUG Queen competition must go on, but the new queen will need a parade to begin her rain.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a long, detailed story about athletic recruitment that starts with the UO walking away from Marvin Clark after the young athlete needed surgery for a fractured foot. “The Courting of Marvin Clark” details how the UO “campus wowed him. Everywhere he looked, he saw the Nike swoosh. The company’s co-founder, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX a big Oregon donor, had helped finance some of the nicest facilities in the country. For a kid who had spent time in homeless shelters, it seemed like nirvana.” The story goes on to ask, “But in the cutthroat world of recruiting, who is looking out for him?” Who is looking out for UO athletes, as well as other students on campus? XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. This article, like the recent UO rape investigation involving basketball players, makes us wonder, again, whether the Ducks are putting sports success ahead of student well-being.

• Mike Bencheck was a welcome visitor at the Opportunity Village Eugene open house out at Garfield and Roosevelt on May 31. A non-denominational minister from the Dallas, Texas, area, Bencheck was here to see a project that works for transitioning homeless people off the streets. He has been exploring the idea in Dallas and sees helping veterans as the best approach for that part of Texas. It was inspiring to see what Dan Bryant, Cary Thompson and many other Eugeneans have built for about $100,000: tiny unheated houses, central showers and toilets, an outdoor kitchen, a community center yurt — not exactly permanent places to live, but a significant step up. OVE is launching a second village where residents will be able to build and sell equities in their houses. Lots of problems to solve, but we predict they will succeed.

• Homeless advocate Alley Valkyrie has a pertinent essay on Kesey Square at in which she describes police chasing and tackling a young man suffering from severe mental illness at the square. The man had been excluded from downtown for earlier disorderly conduct. “The tragic irony of the situation suddenly struck me on a very deep level,” she writes. “People with mental illness were being banned from a plaza named after the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and were being subdued and arrested directly in front of a statue of the author himself. How did a plaza named after a counterculture hero become ground zero for socioeconomic conflict and class-based exclusion policies? Kesey himself would have been excluded under these laws … He would have been sitting right here, smoking a joint while dressed like a hippie farmer, and they would have banned him from downtown … Kesey Square might be a troubled, dead space but it is the commons all the same, and the person whose name is invoked in the title of this specific place would never have stood for what I was witnessing.”

• For geeky-politico election watchers like us the races for East and West Lane County Commission seats are real nail biters. Last week the R-G and the Lesley and Matthews campaigns “all asked the Lane County Elections Office directly and were provided a form to fill out, paid a fee for the information and received the records” of ballots with signature challenges. Rather than ask the clerk directly, Commish Jay Bozievich made a public records request, and when he didn’t get the info when the others did, he followed up on Saturday. “His campaign was told to bring the appropriate Secretary of State’s form into the office with payment between 2-3 pm,” Lane County tells us. An employee was paid $28.95 to come in on the weekend and copy records. At last count Boz was ahead of challenger Dawn Lesley by 23 votes, and Commissioner Faye Stewart is 13 votes ahead of Kevin Matthews. At this point either race could go to a fall runoff. 

• We now have our own correspondent in Brazil for the World Cup. Killian Doherty graduated from the UO School of Law in May and scraped together a round-trip ticket to Brazil. He’s an avid soccer fan and one of 600,000 foreigners in Brazil. Like most fans, he is there on a shoestring budget, watching the football games on TV in cafés, bars and on the streets. Find his “Whatsupworldcup” column in our news section this week, a primer for those who would like to know more about the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Journalist James Risen of The New York Times lost his attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court rule on his refusal to testify in the federal case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer named in one of Risen’s investigative stories. Most states, including Oregon, have shield laws protecting journalists from revealing confidential sources and information, but there is still no protection at the federal level. The Free Flow of Information Act, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, has been stuck in the U.S. Senate for more than a year and we hope this high-profile case will lead to congressional action. A related bill, HR 1962, is also stuck in the House, sponsored by Ted Poe, a Republican. Protecting sources has always been vital to investigative journalism, but not all agree in this age when paranoia and secrecy trump constitutional and press freedoms.

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