Slant 10-2-2014

What’s next for City Hall? We may see some buyer’s remorse from city councilors when they eventually confront the real costs of their decision to tear down our full-block City Hall and built a little City Hall on the rubble. The final price tag of a “light-filled” and truly energy-efficient building could be a lot more than the estimated $11 million for the Phase I construction. The architects are proposing something similar in appearance to the lavish Jaqua Center for Student Athletes on campus, but that building ended up costing $41.7 million or about $1,100 per square foot. City staff says the new City Hall will be 25,000 to 30,000 square feet and at $11 million that’s $366 to $440 per square foot. Seems cheap for a high-tech “green” building, even without Phil Knight opulence.

Councilor Greg Evans has suggested we somehow save the iconic round council chambers, but it would be very expensive to move it and wherever it went it would lose its architectural context. Councilor Mike Clark still likes the idea of renovating EWEB headquarters for City Hall, but we hear wild rumors that PepsiCo (Bigfoot Beverages) is eyeing the EWEB site as its headquarters. EWEB folks we’ve queried say it’s news to them, even unreal. Still, it’s scary to imagine looking out over the river from Alton Baker Park at sunset and seeing a big neon Pepsi sign.

Elizabeth Warren, leader of our favorite faction in the U.S. Senate, will be in Eugene Oct. 6 to support Jeff Merkley’s reelection campaign. Their grassroots rally from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in the EMU ballroom on campus will certainly be packed like the rally earlier this year in Portland. Tickets are a $30 donation or a three-hour volunteer shift for Oregon’s important junior senator. Warren, Merkley and other progressive senators have been fighting to make our banking system safer and fairer for consumers, and recently to pass legislation to make college more affordable. Constant rumblings are out there, the latest from Bill Maher, to put Warren in the Democratic primary for president. Should be fun to hear the Harvard law prof turned senator from Massachusetts.

• Something fishy’s going on with the UO’s sudden puritanical bent (have you seen the Ducks cheerleading uniforms and Victoria’s Secret presence on campus?) that brought it to cancel the beloved decades-old Saturday Figure Drawing group that employs nude models. All parties involved, from the models to artists, have asserted that it was a safe environment. So what gives? Budget issues? EW sincerely hopes that, during the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (AAA)’s 100th anniversary, a low-cost once-a-week community drawing studio is not going to break the bank — especially when the drawing group offered to pay the model fees. The backlash is growing, as it should. 

• Do some people resist learning about climate change because they will then feel obliged to do something about it? Mayor Kitty Piercy gave an impassioned talk at the People’s Climate March in Eugene Sept. 21 and, after lauding the global effort, got personal. “I’ve often said, how could I get up in the morning knowing what I know, if I did not do everything in my power to help reduce and mitigate the impacts of climate change, prepare for those impacts, and believe that we are capable as human beings of building a future, a good future for our children.” 

• Congrats to the organizers of “Sing Unto Pisgah: Voices Save Seavey Loop” Sept. 28 at Mount Pisgah. Organizers used choral music, poetry and Native American voices to draw a crowd of 100 in support of stopping the industrialization of the Seavey Loop area. Other organizations might take some lessons from this lively and joyous event that carried a strong political message. Art can magnify activism.

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