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Slant 12-5-2013

Eugene is a like a big family where the parents squabble but mostly get along, some of the kids are bright-eyed A students, some are rebellious, some are going through hard times and are homeless but will be OK in time. Benevolent in-laws are around to provide guiding hands, and there’s a crazy uncle running around without pants, scaring the kids and alarming the neighbors. The wild kids, crazy uncles and people temporarily without homes hanging out downtown are getting a lot of media attention lately. Coincidentally, a downtown story we’ve been working on for some time is on our cover this week, looking at these complex issues from a very different perspective. 

What can we learn from all this? A few generations ago, parents routinely beat their acting-out kids. We now know about less damaging and more effective ways to manage behavior. We also have a better understanding of mental illness and the necessity of treatment and compassion. We also understand that our economy, not character flaws, forces many good people into homelessness. Our big family needs to evolve, and we can do that by allocating more resources to prevention and intervention. The harsh old methods aren’t working. We do know what works. CAHOOTS, White Bird Clinic, the Johnson Unit, youth services through the Serbu Campus, St. Vincent de Paul and many other city, church and nonprofit programs are effective and need more support, more resources. And let’s not forget that our big family, with all its chaos and seeming malfunction, is also full of love, laughter and brilliance. It’s our home and it’s where we grow, young and old.

• It’s good to see the city’s proposal to purchase Civic Stadium using dedicated park funds, but raising $5.5 million in 60 days to renovate and maintain the facility will require a major donor or two to come forward, and we haven’t seen them yet. This is a good move for city leaders who have been cautious about committing the city to anything that’s even a perceived drain on a city budget that’s already $3 million short for next year. Why the paranoia? Unpopular decisions to give millions in tax breaks for out-of-state developers helped kill a city vote for a new city fee last year, and the mayor, councilors and city manager have not forgotten. 

We hope the city can avoid another unpopular decision — a zone change from public use to commercial or residential use that would unleash the bulldozers. The public outcry would be huge. We have not found a single Eugenean who wants a Fred Meyer shopping center there. Eugene loves its YMCA but Executive Director Dave Perez is relying on residential developers to pencil out his plans, and the historic stadium is in his way. What makes sense is for the Y and Civic Stadium to share the property, but that’s unlikely now. Friends of Civic Stadium’s bid of $16.56 reminds us that this property was sold by the city to School District 4J for $1 in 1938 with the intention of keeping it public use forever. Figure in inflation and that dollar investment has grown to $16.56. But what Friends of Civic Stadium really brings to the table is passion and a growing fundraising campaign capable of raising millions to rebuild this historic landmark and repurpose it as a vibrant soccer center for the entire region. Here’s to hoping for some major donors who want their names associated with sports history.

Gov. John Kitzhaber may or may not run for an unprecedented fourth term, but we have noticed that Curtis Robinhold, the Eugenean who has been his top aide, is leaving for a job with the Port of Portland, and Tim Raphael, his press secretary, is also moving on.

• More Duck droppings: The UO men’s basketball team is sharing the ball, playing hard and winning games. The Ducks have rolled to a 7-0 record and a national ranking of 13! Fans of high-scoring team basketball will love this team: Six players are averaging more than nine points a game. The Pit Crew chips in with colorful commentary and Matthew Knight Arena should be rocking. The schedule starts getting tougher now with the Ducks traveling to Mississippi to take on undefeated Ole Miss this weekend and returning to Matt Court to take on undefeated Illinois Dec. 14. 

Many local businesses proudly display their Best of Eugene awards, sometimes many years of them, in recognition of our readers’ votes of support. These are valuable awards, so much so that for the second year in a row, scammers have created elaborate fake Best of Eugene awards and are trying to sell them to businesses for $130. Our awards are always free and we still have some at our offices that have not been picked up. So if anyone approaches you with such an offer, grab your cell phone and say, “This is great. I am going to take a picture of you with the award for our website!” If you do get a photo, we’d love to publish it, even if it’s a blurry shot of someone running away.

• County Commission candidate Kevin Matthews (say that alliterative descriptor three times fast) announced this week that he has the endorsement of Mayor Kitty Piercy. Matthews, like Piercy, is known for his progressive politics, and has filed for the East Lane County seat currently held by Faye Stewart. Matthews is also known for his outspoken stances on forest and development issues, a far cry from Stewart’s conservative pro-logging positions. Other challengers to Stewart in the May 20, 2014, primary include Joann Ernst, Jack Schoolcraft and Jose Ortal. Meanwhile, Dawn Lesley is gearing up to give incumbent Jay Bozievich a run for his money in West Lane, and over in Springfield, Commissioner Sid Leiken has still not filed to run to retain his seat, which is being challenged by Springfield City Councilor Sheri Moore and Sandi Mann.