COVID-19 has exposed the monstrous entitlement and extravagance of many, and, per usual, the University of Oregon Athletic Department is helping to lead the way. Because that’s what The Disease of More (Google it) does. Workers are welding and technicians are wiring a new scoreboard on the east end of Autzen Stadium that will measure 186 feet by 66 feet, the largest in college football. The screen itself will measure 47 feet by 26 feet and have a new sound system, all slated to be completed this month at a cost of $12 million. Never mind that this is paid for by private gifts. Never mind that the scoreboard on the west end of Autzen, all of 12 years old, works fine, and will continue to. Never mind that there will be no football at Autzen this fall or, likely, in the spring of 2021, or that the viability of football in 2021 is up for debate. Or that Oregon AD Rob Mullens revealed that the cancellation of football this fall means that his department will see a loss of $50 to $80 million in revenue. We need bells and whistles! So we suggest that the UO sell tickets to bird watchers this fall and have winged creatures besides Ducks on the big screen. Plenty of gulls and osprey to look at.
• On Aug. 13, news spread quickly that the USPS was picking up mailboxes in Eugene the same day that President Donald Trump admitted to Fox Business that the Postal Service wouldn’t be able to handle vote by mail without COVID-19 relief money. Head over to EugeneWeekly.com to read why the USPS picked up 27 boxes in Eugene (hint: the agency says it’s not Trump’s fault). But there’s more to the mail drama. A FOIA request by a BuzzFeed investigative reporter reveals USPS letters to U.S. secretaries of state that discuss whether voters will receive mail ballots in time to receive, complete and return ballots via mail (Oregon’s ballots will show up on time to be mailed). And on Monday, Aug. 27, Sen. Ron Wyden signed a letter along with Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer to demand the Postal Board of Governors reverse decisions made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor. After bipartisan and public pressure, DeJoy now says Postal Service changes will happen only after Election Day. In the meantime, if you want to keep the Postal Service busy, send us more cards via snail mail (letters to the editor, we have to admit, get in faster if we don’t have to retype them).
• Two local church groups, Asbury Methodist and the Unitarian Church of Eugene, are posting homegrown lawn signs around town saying Save the Post Office; they encourage others to do the same. Contact former Eugene City Manager VickiElmer@aol.com for the poster template. MOVEON.org is sponsoring a support your local post office gathering throughout the country at 11 am local time Saturday, Aug. 22. South Eugeneans will bring flowers to the Post Office at 33rd and Willamette as their contribution. Others around Eugene will gather at their local post offices to say, “Save Our US Postal Service” and to support vote by mail.
• Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg dropped a bombshell when she announced on the weekend of Aug. 16 that she was stepping down, ending her 10-year run (she was appointed by Springfield City Council in 2010 when Sid Leiken resigned to serve as county commissioner). Three days later, we found out that her son, Benjamin Lundberg, was arrested Aug. 18 on 10 counts of encouraging child sex abuse. Per the city’s charter, Council President Joe Pishioneri will take the reins until a new mayor is appointed. Since it’ll be a long two years until Springfield voters decide its next leader, we have some suggestions of who would make great interim mayors. We endorsed Mike Eyster for the primary, which apparently Lundberg used against him during the campaign trail by telling voters he’ll import Eugene values. We don’t know what those values are, but we do know Eyster has dealt with tough scenarios while serving on the Lane Community College Board of Directors and has worked hard for Springfield from his time as Chamber board chair to serving as City Club of Springfield president. If the City Council wanted to build bridges with its growing Latinx population, it could appoint Springfield School District Board Member Emilio Hernandez, a former migrant worker who has worked closely with education at the local and state levels. Or if the City Council wanted to move toward tackling its homelessness crisis with more empathy, it could appoint Kris McAlister, a homeless advocate who ran for Ward 3 councilor in 2016 and 2020.
• We’re certain Eugene’s Cultural Services Division meant well when it produced an online awards ceremony Aug. 14 as part of its Visual Arts Week for the three most popular summer art shows in town, the Mayor’s Art Show, the Salon des Refusés and the Eugene Biennial. But would it have killed them to try a little energy and planning? Instead, art lovers got the Zoom meeting from Hell, opening with the emcee sitting in an office, welcoming virtual guests while trying to explain to an online administrator in a different Zoom window how to present images of the winners’ work. Then the winners’ names got accidentally displayed before the announcement. It was a dispiriting fiasco. A hint for next time: Come up with a festive Zoom backdrop, try a rehearsal or two and convey the message that the city actually cares about visual art.