• Oregon’s unemployment fell to 3.9 percent in November — the lowest rate in 43 years. That’s cause for celebration, right? Just ask any Republican. But consider these other recent numbers: Eugene has the highest number of homeless, on a per-capita basis, in the entire nation. The Oakridge School District is now the fifth-poorest in the nation. More than a third of households in Multnomah County can’t make ends meet. Apparently all those wonderful new jobs pay crap. We need a higher minimum wage, we need affordable health care and we need to end welfare for the rich, from the Trump tax cut to property tax waivers for developers.

• The Solstice has passed and we are mid-holiday season. Days are finally getting longer, and we are looking forward to a new year with wishes for safety, health and comfort for all.

• Jennifer Williamson was in Eugene on Dec. 18 shaking hands and raising money for her 2020 race to be Oregon’s next secretary of state. An effective majority leader in the Oregon House, she will compete with at least three other Democratic candidates in the primary. A Republican has not yet surfaced to run against the winner in November 2020. Williamson’s a candidate who gives us hope. Her track record in the Legislature is truly progressive

What gift would you give to Eugene to make it a better place to live? That’s what the City Club of Eugene asked residents from very different perspectives at the last meeting of the year on Dec. 20. Here are some of the gifts: Slug Queen Jenette Kime gave a huge parade to Eugene. Clay Beauvais of the University of Oregon College Republicans gave “diversity of thought” at the UO and offered his work boots because he said that’s what brought him to Eugene. State Sen. James Manning said his one of his gifts is to “promote Eugene in Salem.” Bethany Grace Howe, a journalist and comedian, offered a “full spectrum massage.” Jean Tate of Jean Tate Real Estate gave Eugeneans the gift “to learn to be agreeable even when they disagree.” Erik and Kristin Fay de Buhr, of Community Supported Shelters, gave every Eugenean “a home to unwrap.” Their Conestoga hut tiny home for the unhoused was on display outside the meeting. Heather Sielicki, White Bird Clinic operations director, also asked for an end to homelessness. Artist Jim Evangelista of Reality Kitchen asked for Eugene to step up to the challenges it faces. Diane Retallack, director of the Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts, suggested that the beautiful EWEB building on the river be transformed into an 1,100-seat concert hall. We were touched when retired Oregon ACLU director Dave Fidanque, who came to Eugene as a young journalist, suggested that the Eugene Weekly should go daily. He also offered the “optimistic prediction” that the community will find a new way of reporting news. We agree that the gift of news and information is one we can get behind. Pastor Dan Bryant hosted the gift-giving in the spirit of the holidays.

Lane County has no mechanism in place to list homelessness as a cause of death. That’s not trivial. It’s another reminder of how much homeless people are dismissed. A coalition of nonprofits on Monday, Dec. 23, honored the 32 people who died on the streets in Eugene in 2019 with a candlelight vigil at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza. Bagpipes played, and the Soromundi Lesbian Choir performed and led the roughly 300 mourners in “Silent Night.” Then the names were read — from age 22 (Austin Schultz) to age 68 (Louis Abreu, Stanley Everist and Randall Prim). A moment of silence followed. We can do better.

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