Crime waves, recycling and auditors

Lane County District Attorney Patty PerlowPhoto by Todd Cooper

• Read The Register-Guard lately and you’d think Eugene’s in the middle of a violent crime wave. Armed robberies near the university! Not quite so, Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow told a meeting of media representatives on April 3. Yes, she said, there’s violent crime in and around Eugene — but that’s nothing new. “We are in a constant crime wave,” she told EW after the meeting. “The current spate of robberies aren’t a sudden increase in robberies. They are a cluster in one area.”

The solution, according to the DA? “More enforcement.”

We agree. Rural law enforcement in Lane County is almost non-existent, thanks to nearly four decades of tax cuts, and even Eugene police say they are understaffed. That’s the real crime.

• Nancy MacLean, Duke professor of history, gave an inspiring but ultimately chilling performance April 4 to a standing-room only crowd in the UO law school. She was sponsored by the Morse Center for Law and Politics. Her subject, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” also the title of her 2017 book, told how the libertarian Koch brothers and their colleagues are taking control of this country. The book, a sequel to Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, is a call to action. Both courageous women write that we must get the money out of politics to save democracy. That’s the fundamental fight.

• If you have never watched the Vaux’s swifts tumble into the chimney at Agate hall near the University of Oregon campus, now is the time to catch one of Eugene’s special sights. EW’s It’s About Time columnist David Wagner’s Oregon nature calendar says April 13 is one of the days, but we expect the swifts don’t stick to any precise date. He suggests asking 541-485-BIRD or for details. Quite a crowd usually gathers at the old Condon school at dusk when the birds circle and dive into the chimney for the night. We’re told they come out at daybreak, but we confess to sleeping through that half of the swifts’ show.

• You know you live in Eugene when one of the biggest local news stories of the day is the change in the city’s recycling program. No more plastic tubs, certain plastics and shredded paper to name a few. The announcement from the city says, “Recent fluctuations on the international market have prompted changes to the local recycling stream,” but it’s also because people have been sloppy and allowed non-recyclables to contaminate the recycling stream. Let’s get our act together and use a lot less plastic for a start!

•  You can find the poem “The Orchards” on page 48 of the April 9 New Yorker magazine, the issue with food carts on the cover. The writer is Maxine Scates, a nationally known poet who has lived in Eugene since 1973. It’s a big deal in the world of writing and reading to have the New Yorker editors choose your work as one of two poems in the magazine. After reading and re-reading the challenging “The Orchards,” we applaud their choice.

• As the debate over electing or appointing a Eugene city auditor heats up, former government auditor Gary Blackmer will talk and answer questions on “Putting the GRIT in INTEGRITY” from 7 to 8:30 pm Wednesday, April 18, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Avenue. Blackmer, who worked most recently for the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division, favors the original proposal, Ballot Measure 20-283, which calls for an elected auditor with sufficient budget to monitor City Hall.