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Slant 9-18-2014

A group of local architects is deeply concerned about what is planned for Eugene City Hall, and we outline their perspectives this week on page 9. Further discussion on tearing down City Hall has been delayed until the City Council’s Sept. 22nd and 24th meetings and will hopefully be delayed again for re-evaluation. The council and administration have been debating what to do with City Hall for about 15 years, but we have a different city council now, and it will be different again 15 years from now. This is a time for leadership. Eugene is on a trajectory of increasing environmental awareness and action. Issues of climate, carbon and energy will become more important, not less. We are unlikely to slip back into our old habits of wasting valuable resources. City Hall is a valuable resource. It might be looking ratty now, thanks to deferred maintenance, but it can be beautiful, inviting, energy-efficient and highly functional again.

Let’s not have future generations lamenting the destruction of City Hall. And let’s not have a future City Council left with an itty-bitty City Hall, trying to figure out how to get skeptical voters to fund bonds for an increasingly expensive Phase II while still paying millions of dollars to rent city office space all over downtown. 

Here are some wild numbers. The Register-Guard reports that the UO administration has offered a wish list to the new Board of Trustees including: $98 million in capital funds to increase classrooms, $33.75 million to improve student learning spaces, at least $282 million for research labs and faculty offices, $180 million for a new residence hall and renovation of three others. The city of Eugene is talking about a paltry $15 million for the first phase of a new City Hall. Sounds like our little city should raise “tuition” or look for some big donors.

• We really need a sarcasm font. We’re getting complaints about including the category “Best DUI lawyer” in our 2014 Best of Eugene reader contest. EW apologizes to anyone who mistakenly thinks that category is meant to glorify drunk driving. We were using it to mock ourselves for having so many drinking categories and using it to call attention to the issue of drinking too much. Sometimes we only crack ourselves up … For more on the dangers of driving while intoxicated go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving at wkly.ws/1ta.

A kinetic sculpture on the Willamette River was featured in WTF Sept. 4, and we got a phone call from its creator-in-chief, Paul Cesewski of the San Francisco Bay Area. He tells us the floating contraption is called “Voyage of Hurlothrumbo” and it requires three trucks and trailers to transport. It was launched in Corvallis Aug. 11 and made its way slowly downriver over about two weeks, anchoring at parks, islands and quiet spots along the river, inviting locals to come aboard, make music, view the barge and its art and take a ride on its bicycle-powered Ferris wheel. “It’s like a circus,” he says. “We tamper with the spectacle of society while creating broader possibilities for creative and cooperative solutions … It’s my folly for this year.” He loved the Willamette, saying it’s the “cleanest river” he’s explored in similar water adventures across the U.S. and Europe. 

Cesewski is a plumber who’s known for his kinetic sculptures, including a giant human-powered rolling Ferris wheel built with a grant from Burning Man. Google his name and Hurlothrumbo to see photos, updates and more about him and his crew of six to 20 fellow artists and adventurers.

Congress is doing nothing on climate change, and Obama isn’t able to do much, so it’s up to the people, here and around the world. It’s encouraging to see a grassroots uprising worldwide to catalyze action at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York Sept. 23. Portland is expecting the largest climate gathering ever in Oregon Sunday afternoon, Sept. 21, and Lane County will be taking to the streets as well starting at 1 pm Saturday. See Activist Alert this week for details. Here is an opportunity for individuals and community leaders to get educated and learn how to make a difference in one of the biggest issues facing humanity today.

• The City Council of Davis, California, recently told their police chief to get rid of the surplus military equipment they received from the feds. The feds, motivated by the disaster in Ferguson, Missouri, and led by Obama, have been scrambling to find a way to take it back from police forces all over the country. We’re heartened to learn that our Eugene city government is asking our police chief for an inventory of the military equipment stored away in Eugene. Like the California college town of Davis, we don’t need it.