Can’t identify that bird you just saw or heard singing? You might ask Merlin for help. That’s the name of our current favorite free phone app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; it allows you to identify a bird based on its approximate location — like “Eugene” — and a photo or audio recording made on your phone. Try it. It works, and makes you feel like an expert birder!
• The Fossil Free Eugene coalition has been pushing the city to move away from fossil fuels and pursue electrification. Back in November the City Council voted to explore banning natural gas in new buildings, and another vote on the topic is planned for July. Eugene Weekly is one of the papers running ads from natural gas company NW Natural as the company pushes back against the vote. Natural gas was once seen by many as a “bridge fuel,” but as fracking and methane have become huge concerns in the fight against climate change, moving to clean energy is the way to go.
• Almost a month later, and the May 17 primary election results have been certified. Now, it’s normal to take some time for officials to certify an election, but this year’s election saw several races that were too close for candidates to concede or declare victory immediately after election night. On June 13, the Lane County Elections Office certified the primary election, and here are some results: Eugene City Councilor Jennifer Yeh won her election by about 350 votes, the Springfield seat on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners went in favor of gun-toting David Loveall by 98 votes, the east Lane Commissioner Heather Buch kept her seat by nearly 500 votes and west Lane is going to a runoff between retiring Commissioner Jay Bozievich’s heir apparent Ryan Ceniga and Dawn Lesley (Ceniga had a 311-vote lead over Lesley, but not enough to win in May). And this election saw a write-in campaign succeed. Former Lane County Commissioner Jerry Rust received 290 write-in votes to receive the Democratic Party nomination to run against Republican state Representative Boomer Wright, who represents parts of Lane, Douglas and Coos counties. We know midterm elections aren’t sexy, but let these narrow margins remind you that every vote matters, especially at the local level.
• The 4J school board selected its director of secondary education Andy Dey as the new superintendent on a 4-3 vote. Pending successful contract negotiations, Dey starts July 1. The fractured vote is another indicator that it’s still rough seas with the Eugene school board, and many candidates wouldn’t walk into a situation like that — especially since Alma Advisory Group, the search firm the board utilized, told the school board its divisions were an obstacle in the search. The Register-Guard reports that Dey said he is Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian and Choctaw but not an enrolled member of any Indigenous tribe. A glance at Dey’s Oregon voter registration says he is a registered Republican, an interesting choice considering the pushback some board members and their supporters had against former mayor and fellow Republican Jim Torrey being reappointed to the board.
• Pro-tips on the current tampon shortage: Reusable alternatives such as menstrual cups are eco-friendly, safe and, in the long run, cheaper than tampons. We don’t often recommend big box stores, but reusable Thinx panties at Target are absorbent and comfortable. Finally, and locally, check out the reusable Moon Pads from Marley’s Monsters at Fifth Street Public Market or MarleysMonsters.com.
• “From Pre to Tomorrow: The Magic of TrackTown, USA” is the City Club of Eugene program for noon Friday, June 24, at 1376 Olive Street. Speakers are Ian Dobson, 2008 Olympian and race director for the Eugene Marathon; Craig Leon, marathoner and instructor at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center; and Lonn Robertson, local running coach and host of the Finnish national team, which is to be hosted in Creswell for the World Athletics Championships in July. The meeting is at the First United Methodist Church. No lunch. Live streaming is an option.
• Little bits of news you can use: Recyclers: Lane County started taking #1 and #2 plastics (think things like soda and shampoo bottles) in mixed recycling as of June 1. The county stopped taking plastics in 2018 due to a global recycling market crisis, but machinery and markets have improved, so rejoice and recycle. Renters: Under the Safe Harbor law passed by the Oregon Legislature in December 2021, only tenants who have submitted proof of applying for rent assistance through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program or a Community Action Agency have protections from being evicted for non-payment of rent. If you don’t have your Safe Harbor letter to your landlord by June 30 you can be evicted even if you’ve qualified for rent assistance.
• Imagine a vote by the citizens of Eugene on a City Hall. How many would say we don’t need one and should spend the money other ways? Would those folks say the city should stick with the Lane Community College downtown center arrangement? How many would say it certainly should be in the EWEB building along the river? How many would vote for a small, classy building north of the new Farmers Market Pavilion and Plaza? Those are the choices the City Council faces. We lean toward a new City Hall north of the Farmers Market in the Park Blocks to create the feeling of a town center. But, the main question is how do we move forward on a City Hall at all?