What Happened in 2019

Rounding up some of the year's biggest stories

JUDGE WAYNE ALLENIllustration by Chelsea Lovejoy

A lot happened in 2019 with President Donald Trump, so it’s easy to forget what happened locally. Although Eugene Weekly is a little late to the reflection party, we thought we’d put together a list of stories about the big things that happened in little Willamette Valley.

Requiem for a Newspaper

The Register-Guard has experienced a lot of changes since Gatehouse Media purchased the paper in 2018. In this January 2019 story by Taylor Griggs, former RG staff talk about the changes that have occurred at the paper since the Baker family sold it in 2018: slashed freelance contracts, death of the opinion section, layoffs and cuts. But that’s how it goes when big corporations buy newspapers, right?

Switching Sides?

Oregonians wanting climate action were hit hard when the Senate President Peter Courtney didn’t call for a vote on HB 2000, dubbed Clean Energy Jobs. A former state senator from Eugene, Chris Edwards once supported a previous iteration of the bill. However, he worked to undermine the bill as a lobbyist, telling EW that the bill could’ve decimated the state’s economy.

Deeper Issues Of Generational Poverty

When snow hit in February, unhoused families were hit hard. A story by Sierra Dawn McClain chronicled a single father and his family as they navigated services, looking for a home.

Remembering Doc

Robert “Doc” Wilson moved to Eugene in 2015 and since then, he and his cowboy-dressed Chihuahua, Chica, were downtown icons. Both werer unhoused off and on for the past decade, but Doc, a U.S. Army veteran, died on Veterans Day. Chica now lives with one of Doc’s friends, who promises she’ll be back downtown in her costumes soon.

Use the Fourth

Earlier in 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that chalking tires for parking enforcement is unconstitutional because it’s an unlawful search. The city of Eugene told Eugene Weekly was going to switch to a license plate recognition system for enforcement anyway — which it is now doing in downtown Eugene.

The Lost Clause

The Oregon Ducks are seeing roses right now after beating Wisconsin 28-27 on New Year’s Day, but the UO will pay $1 million to BYU, a school that discriminates against gay students, according to reporting by students at Utah State University.

Managing Retirement

Former city manager Jon Ruiz surprised many when he made retirement announcement — and gave about a month’s notice. EWtalked with Ruiz before he left his position about the next stage of the city, something he says is already set.

An Unsuccessful Solution

City officials have called Community Court a successful program that gives the homeless and others who are repeatedly arrested and ticketed a way to avoid fines and jail time and connects them with services. However, reporting by EW and the UO’s Catalyst Journalism Project showed the recidivism rate hadn’t changed.

Up the Ranks

With Jon Ruiz’s departure, Eugene now has a new person at the helm, Sarah Medary. When Medary sat down to talk with EW, she said she’s committed to the TAC report and to make housing more affordable in the area.

A City in Need of a Solution

After reporting on Community Court, now EW staff writer Taylor Perse looked at communities that have pursued solutions to help people find a place to live.

Country Grammar

Since moving to Eugene, I’ve been to a number of games at Autzen. But Oregon crowds will never match the enthusiasm of the crowd’s reaction to country megastar Garth Brooks when he took the stage June 29. I had the chance to talk with Brooks, ask about Lil Nas X and get wild at his show — and remembered enough to write about it the next day. Brooks at Autzen was the biggest show at Autzen of 2019 — and maybe the 2010s.

Seven Years Later

When Hannah Baggs was 14, she exited the Macy’s in the Clackamas Town Center near Portland as someone wielding an armed weapon walked in. Now at the UO, Baggs wrote a book for gun violence survivors and loved ones.

Best Year Ever

Eugene Symphony lucked out to have Francesco Lecce-Chong as its music director and conductor, especially considering the number of accomplishments Lecce-Chong had in 2019. He had the chance to lead a Young Person’s Concerts program with the New York Philharmonic, conducted in front of legendary composer John Williams and conducted the San Francisco Symphony in June.