Slant 8-21-2014

• If you are worried about public safety in Lane County, consider that this county has received $2,736,425 worth of surplus military equipment from the Department of Defense —  more than any other Oregon county. That’s according to an Aug. 15 Associated Press story in The Oregonian. Equipment includes one wheeled combat vehicle, 91 infrared illuminators, two ordnance disposal robots and 15 rifles. Coming free to cops across America, this surplus stuff was manufactured with our tax dollars. Watching the para-military debacle in Ferguson, Missouri, with all their old Department of Defense hardware makes us really worried about public safety everywhere. Hopefully, Congress will pass legislation to stop the lethal giveaways.

• Eyes have been on Ferguson, Missouri, since an 18-year-old unarmed black man was shot by police there Aug. 9. Brown’s autopsy shows the young man was shot six times by police officer Darren Wilson. According to The Economist, last year British police fired their guns three times. Total. None of the shots were fatal. Police shootings and mass shootings have the same origins: too many guns in America. 

Lane County administrator Steve Mokrohisky has made it though his first 100 days and so far EW is impressed. Mokrohisky came by EW’s offices last week and had thoughtful answers to our questions. He tells us his job is to objectively carry out the wishes of the elected officials — and he’s got enough Midwestern sincerity that we believe him. At the same time, one of the first more public things Mokrohisky did when he took the job is move ahead with some simple fixes the county has been stalled on. He made some rooms in the Lane County Service Building available for public use again and made certain emails to and from the County Commission more accessible. Transparency builds trust.

• As we go to press the marchers in the Eugene Celebration Parade are prepping their costumes and their dance routines, the SLUG queens are putting on their finery for the SLUG crawl (see Biz Beat) and the Festival of Eugene looks like bit by bit it’s come together. Lane Community College, which itself was once the beneficiary of a fundraising concert by the Grateful Dead, stepped up and was one of the contributors toward a post-parade Saturday night concert, and folks all over town have donated either to the festival or to the celebration. Look like Eugene loves its celebration and that’s something the city and Eugene Celebration planners should take into account for next year.

• It’s the end of summer and you know what that means … the kids are going back to school and it’s spider mating season. We are hitting the time of year when creepy pictures of large brown spiders start cropping up all over social media with captions like “What the hell is this?” and “Gahhhhh, this thing just crawled up my wall!” That thing is most likely a harmless giant house spider or a barn funnel spider looking to get laid. Normally spiders are pretty reticent, but this time of year the males come out of hiding as they desperately seek a mate. Before you drag out any nasty chemicals or squash that innocent bug-eating arachnid you should know that while Oregon has hobo spiders (though none documented south of Corvallis, last we checked), they rarely bite humans. Brown recluses do not live in Oregon, so while giant brown spiders in your bathroom might creep you out, they are not going to eat you.