• Eugene’s Budget Committee has advised the City Council to adopt a plan that will use various reserves and anticipated PERS savings to prevent cuts to services for a year in spite of a projected $5.3 million budget gap. Now it’s time to focus on the future. Interesting concepts emerged from budget discussions — the need for an independent performance auditor to examine city finances, questioning what services the city should be providing and how we finance big capital projects like rebuilding City Hall. All of these will be important factors in a larger question: How do we prevent future financial woes? Meanwhile, it’s good that Budget Committee members recognized that the vote against the city fee was not a vote against key city services. Rather, the vote indicated that the citizens do trust the Budget Committee and council to come up with better solutions.
• Peg Morton and Darryl Larson come at our civil justice system from different directions, but both received Turtle Awards from the City Club of Eugene May 31. City Club turtles stick their necks out to improve our corner of the world. Often breaking the law, Morton has spent her life working in civil rights, war tax resistance, Latin American solidarity and peace movements. Larson is a retired Lane County Circuit Court judge who has worked to solve problems in our judicial systems. He started the highly successful Lane County Drug Court in 1994 and continues to lead on sentencing reform. Both are Eugene turtles who make us proud.
• Seventeenth President of the UO Michael R. Gottfredson chose a formal academic ceremony for his investiture May 30 in Matt Knight arena. The UO brass ensemble played the prelude and the processional. UO ROTC posted the colors. University Marshall and geography prof Alex Murphy carried the university mace (a symbol of authority) to lead the capped and gowned faculty procession into the arena. Sen. Ron Wyden plus eight others delivered greetings from the podium. Melody Rose, interim chancellor, invested the new prez. He spoke. His closing charge to the assemblage: “Go Ducks.”
• What’s happening with health care in Oregon and nationally? Local health care activist Ruth Duemler tracks legislation and the reform movement. “We are all waiting to see what happens Oct. 1 when we’ll be able to enroll at coveroregon.com,” she tells us. “Those with insurance can evaluate their plans and costs with all the other plans offered.” Everyone will be required to have insurance, but big issues remain concerning consumer costs, whether enough doctors and nurses will be available to meet the demand, and whether doctors will be adequately compensated. She asks, “Will this lead to a single-payer plan that will eliminate the outrageous administrative costs of our health insurance companies?” The problem with Obamacare, of course, is that it perpetuates our bloated private insurance industry, but the Oregon Legislature is looking at statewide solutions. See Activist Alert for a meeting in Eugene coming up June 10.
• Longtime Eugene area artist George Ernst van der Linden died May 23 at age 76 after a long illness and with little or no public notice. A memorial service is being planned, according to friend Jessy Shrive, who can be reached at (415) 279-1187. We featured von der Linden and his art in a story by Eliza Murphy Oct. 11, 2011 (see wkly.ws/1hk). He was already in a nursing home at the time, surrounded by his colorful three-dimensional art. He was known for salvaging cast-off and broken materials into more than 100 clever sculptures and paintings that can be found today in yards and homes all over the valley and on the coast. “I love to make things out of junk,” he said. It appears that art was his salvation from a troubled youth in Pittsburg and his struggles with bipolar disorder. Many of his sculptures have faces with two heads, his way of recognizing the “split personalities we all have.”
Another recent loss in our community is longtime radio personality Barry “Bear” Corkery, who died May 23. A memorial tribute is being planned for June 22 at the Vet’s Club. Corkery, 68, was a familiar voice on commercial and public radio since the 1970s and most recently was on the air and mentoring students at Community Radio KRVM. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and three children.
• A quote this week from Peter Van Buren: “The America I served for 24 years as an American diplomat stood for justice. Bradley Manning has been held for three years without trial, for much of the time under inhuman conditions. His trial now represents the last opportunity for my America to provide him justice.” Van Buren is author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.