Our endorsements issue hits the stands April 29, when Lane County ballots are mailed. We noticed that some school board candidates are running on platforms advocating for the use of practices and policies that are already in use or in the pipeline for Eugene District 4J. We all need to ask them second and third questions to see if their suggestions are valid or simply uninformed criticisms. When we interview candidates here at Eugene Weekly, we try to do that digging.
• The Eugene Police Department has purchased a hell of a ride. The eagle eyes on Lane County Mugshots Uncensored spotted the new EPD rig tootling around town. It’s a Farber Speciality Vehicle-produced mobile command unit, according to the information EPD shared with Michael Weber of LCMU. EPD says it was funded between Fleet replacement funds ($431,221) and Community Safety Initiative funds (up to $280,000), and the purchase order was issued back in August 2019 (aka before the 2020 Black Lives Matter-inspired calls to defund the police). The new bus has smart screen monitors, outside monitors and about seven to nine cameras. Basically, it looks like a tour bus collided with a prison surveillance system. We’re wondering what the fleet of CAHOOTS vans might look like if we spent that kind of money on that program?
• Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Ron Wyden visited Eugene’s Cafe Soriah last week to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted restaurants. The American Rescue Plan, which was passed in March, will provide $28.6 billion in relief to restaurants in the form of grants, to help with the costs of operating a restaurant. These grants are expected to be available later this month. “They didn’t have, like the big businesses did, a menu of options for survival,” Wyden said of small restaurants. “That’s what Peter and I worked for months to change.” See our story at EugeneWeekly.com on DeFazio’s transit roundtable, along with our other online extra coverage.
• Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis will talk about key current local issues this week for the City Club of Eugene program. Rachael McDonald of KLCC will moderate, and if you want to “attend” you should register on the City Club website to receive a Zoom invitation to the program. Here are the local issues: What is Eugene doing about homelessness? What are Eugene’s plans for reforming public safety? What are the plans for summer in the city? This program will air on the City Club’s Facebook and YouTube pages starting at noon on Friday, April 16.
• Eugene Weekly’s foray into the trendy world of NFT art auctions has already drawn an opening bid. Don’t know what NFTs are? Basically, they’re digital files that are unique and can’t be copied, meaning they are collectible in the arts world. EW posted an NFT version of the cover of our April 8 issue on an auction site; all proceeds go to support our newsgathering. Don’t believe NFT art is real? You’re not alone, but The New York Times in March auctioned an NFT version of one of its stories. It sold for $560,000. To bid on our cover, which is currently going for much less than half a million dollars, go to EugeneWeekly.com/NFT. The auction runs through 5 pm April 23.
• What we’re reading: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. We’ve all read it several times, but the PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick sent us back to this quick read. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954, and the Nobel committee cited the novel as part of the reason why. Even if you can’t stand Hemingway, the documentary is worth your time because of the great footage of Paris, the wars, Africa, Spain, Cuba and more. It’s unlikely, but we wish Burns and Novick would do the story of William Faulkner, or better yet, PBS could have some filmmakers of color explore Zora Neale Hurston or Langston Hughes.
• What we will be reading: Under a White Sky:The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert. Another environmental book by this fine writer, who wrote The Sixth Extinction, to remind us of the damage we do to the Earth. It’s perhaps not a cheerful message, but we should keep listening to what Kolbert has to say.