Slant 10-15-2015

Was the Great Willamette Clean Up Oct. 3 just a short-lived fix in Eugene? Local river advocate John Brown sent a note to Mayor Kitty Piercy Oct. 8 saying, “It is extremely frustrating to see the work of Willamette Riverkeeper and others not last even a week, and right on the banks of one of our most active parks in the heart of the city adjacent to a drinking water source.” Brown said this is a “sensitive issue and I’m not asking for people to be kicked out without a place to go but if the city is allowing camping on the water’s edge, then why not allow it on the top of the bank and at least protect the waters?” 

This week it appears some action will help protect the river, thanks in part to Brown’s and the mayor’s urging. Craig Carnagey, director of Eugene Parks and Open Space, says his department will “coordinate additional staff to scout for illegal camps within the high-water marks of parks along the Willamette River until river levels go up sometime this fall. Our objective will be to further prevent camps from establishing and/or building up inordinate amounts of trash here.” This commitment should help, along with ongoing efforts by the OURS homeless camp to engage with riverbank campers and even collect their trash, but in the end the city needs to do the obvious and designate significantly more legal, safe camping areas and provide sanitation and trash removal.

• What’s your definition of “politicize” these days? If President Obama had called for a gun in every desk instead of tighter gun controls, would he have been charged with “politicizing” the tragedy in Roseburg? Probably not. We need to watch the use of that word with great care. It is often dishonest.

• Our local legislators look good on the civil liberties scorecard for the 2015 session. As the Oregon ACLU reports, “2015 was a good year for civil liberties in the Oregon Legislature. Very few of the bills we opposed made it to the House or Senate floor and many of the bills we supported passed with broad bipartisan support.” The percentage of support from all our local legislators was over 83 and many hit 88. That’s high considering only two senators and three representatives statewide scored 100. As for what’s ahead, the ACLU says, “We anticipate a significant number of bills we defeated will resurface.”

• The Great Oregon Shakeout Earthquake Drill is happening Thursday, Oct. 15, and it’s great to see Lane Community College and other institutions yet again actively participating in this “duck, cover and kiss your ass goodbye” drill. Any preparation we do will save lives, though our Boy Scout efforts will be painfully inadequate when The Big One hits. Many of our aging roads, bridges, public schools and most public buildings and private residences are vulnerable to damage or collapse even in a moderate quake. Find the Oregon guide at and save an ass or two, maybe your own.

From the sports bar: If USC knew that head football coach Steve Sarkisian had a serious alcohol problem when they hired him and continued to let him coach until the Trojans lost to Washington last weekend, do some football players have a cause of action against the USC athletic department? Have players lost their chances for a lucrative career in pro ball? And then there’s the little rumor that USC is interested in bringing Chip Kelly back to the Pac-12. But Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles won last weekend, finally, so he may be happy to stay longer in the City of Brotherly Love.

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