Slant 9-4-2014

Our Pop Quiz on City Hall this week is an attempt to look more closely at the predicament we have gotten ourselves in regarding the fate of City Hall. Is destruction imminent? We hear the city has not yet acquired a demolition permit. Meanwhile, some new information is being batted around this week about estimates for remodeling that were done a couple of years ago by Turner Construction’s Portland office. Was the Eugene City Council given an accurate analysis of the true costs of renovating City Hall vs. tearing it down and rebuilding? If bad information was indeed passed along, we might see council action or even litigation to stop or delay the demolition.

A dark little drama about Oregon politics and beyond will unfold on our television sets over the next two months. The Koch brothers are putting more than $3 million into Monica Wehby’s campaign to take Jeff Merkley out of the U.S. Senate. She’s the Republican candidate who Mitch McConnell recently described as just fine with him to help win the Senate he desperately wants to lead. Her TV ads against Merkley are gross distortions of the truth and clearly that tactic will continue until November, ultimately costing far more than the Koch’s paltry $3 million. Oregon polling strongly favors Merkley to this point, so the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is not forwarding any funds out here. It is critical to this state and country that the drama end by sending back to Washington one of the best senators Oregon has ever had.

Carol Bogedain is “retiring” in January as director of the Roseburg VA Medical Center. We wrote about her in this column Aug. 7, suggesting it was time for her to go after 38 years with the VA. She and her administrative team have been blamed by staff for high turnover, low morale, gross mismanagement or simply ignoring problems at the Roseburg facility. Roseburg also oversees the Eugene VA Clinic and we imagine a few cheers went up in Eugene when Bogedain announced her overdue departure last week. Next to go should be Associate Director Steven Broskey and Chief Nurse Executive Tracy Weistreich, according to the Douglas County Veterans Forum. The DCVF voted “no confidence” in the management of the facility in a letter Aug. 30 sent to the new VA Secretary Robert McDonald. A public meeting about the crisis in VA health care in Oregon will be at 6 pm Thursday, Sept. 4, at the VA Auditorium in Roseburg and a Eugene meeting is expected to be announced soon. One problem facing the VA in finding new leadership is that Roseburg’s sprawling old hospital is considered an undesirable assignment.

Elk meat is the new buffalo, or even beef. If you’re yearning for an elkburger, go to the new Elkhorn Brewery on Franklin Boulevard near the UO campus or to Buster’s on Main Street in Cottage Grove near the historic Cottage Grove Hotel. Herds of elk are roaming forests and fields west of Eugene beyond the airport, but we wonder about the steady supply of this delicacy.