Slant 8-14-2014

• 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. 

The people of Eugene don’t really know what’s going on here. The heavy cost of demolition plus the cost of new construction means we will end up with an itty-bitty City Hall and taxpayers will be stuck paying $1.2 million a year to continue renting city office space around downtown. If that continues for the next 30 years, taxpayers will spend $36 million plus inflation and have nothing concrete to show for it. City Hall as it stands is dilapidated and uninviting, but we’ve seen architectural drawings that indicate it can be transformed relatively cheaply into something we can all be proud to show off. Or it can be sold to a private redeveloper and go on the tax roles. City voters might just give a nod to a bond measure for a new City Hall that makes sense economically and environmentally.

Michael Gottfredson quit without notice as UO president and got a severance payment of nearly $1 million? None dare call it extortion, but we understand he agreed to not sue the UO. What’s that all about? We may never know. Regardless, we can’t help but wonder if this eyebrow-raising decision by the Board of Trustees will lead to a drop in donations to the UO Foundation. Perception is everything in the world of institutional development.

• Just a suggestion: Interim UO President Scott Coltrane should pencil in lunch with Bill Harbaugh at least once a month, and the next president should do the same. Harbaugh is the economics professor who puts up offering gossip, opinions, rumors, but most importantly, document after document that skewers the administration of the university. The Oregon press, and now the national media, go to him for the inside story. Call him a muckraker. And speaking of muckrakers, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2013 book The Bully Pulpit, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism, details how Teddy Roosevelt worked with the rebel press to reach his goals. It’s hardly a parallel with today’s UO, but it is instructive.

• The annual SLUG queen coronation Aug. 8 was briefly interrupted by a woman who many thought was drunk and was actually suffering from mental illness. We hear through social media that not only did her friends and Eugene’s network of local humanitarians step up to help a friend in need, but the Eugene police get a shout out for delicately handling her. She is now getting help at the Johnson Unit. 

Festival of Eugene coming up Aug. 22-23 is still a little shaky but is looking to move to Alton Baker Park as we go to press. The ambitious attempt to fill the void of the canceled Eugene Celebration needs more money to pay for security and other expenses and we hear small donations are adding up to thousands of dollars. It’s easy to make donations at and the website also provides ways to volunteer or rent space for a vendor booth. Eugene Weekly is one of the sponsors of this free event and we hope it succeeds.  We also hope to see a full Eugene Celebration return next year, maybe in late September when college students are back in town. Meanwhile, the big Eugene Celebration Parade will go on Saturday morning, Aug. 23, followed by an evening concert at the Cuthbert.

• Great turnout for the “War No More!” gathering at the Wayne Morse Family Farm Saturday, Aug. 9. It was a lively afternoon of 1960s-style teach-ins, speeches about Wayne Morse and his stand against the Vietnam War, music by the Raging Grannies and Eugene Peace Choir and a very creative and entertaining fashion show. Models, including students from Churchill High School, showed off costumes representing war protests, military spending, corporate greed, polluters and much more. Kudos to Community Alliance of Lane County, the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, Women’s Action for New Directions, Beyond War, Veterans for Peace, Eugene PeaceWorks and others for an exceptional afternoon, complete with ice cream. See photos on the EW Facebook page.