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Slant 10-16-2014

• We expect a public announcement about Phil Knight’s big gift to UO will be made at a breakfast meeting Friday, Oct. 17, somewhere on campus, and to which 300 are invited. We broke the story last week about the Knight family preparing to make a rumored $1 billion gift, with strings attached, but the amount could be more or less, according to UOmatters.com. The gift could be the largest ever made to a university anywhere, and if it goes to academic programs and scholarships, as anticipated, it would give UO a tremendous boost where it’s really needed. The stark contrast between UO athletic and academic standing is getting the UO some embarrassing attention nationwide.

Meanwhile, neighborhood organizations and businesses ringing the UO have been invited to meetings this month looking at possible sites around the campus for three big building projects: a 500-bed residence hall, a 1,500-seat softball stadium and a 100,000-square -foot research lab building. Hold onto your green and yellow visors. Big changes are ahead for that part of town.

• Thumbs up for the selection of the UO Foundation and its partners to develop the EWEB site along the Willamette River. It has a huge stake in what happens to Eugene beyond the borders of the campus, a stake historically not appreciated except for athletic facilities. With any development along the river we need to be concerned about protection of the riverbank, maintaining open spaces and making connections to our wonderfully reviving downtown. Who, please, will be the planners in charge?

• Random thoughts about First Lady Cylvia Hayes and Gov. John Kitzhaber: What happened in her life 17 years ago is between Cylvia and John. During the last four years, whether she has unethically or illegally used her role as first lady to help her private consulting business is an open question, muddy in the Willamette Week story that opened this discussion. We’re reminded of the Antoinette Hatfield story when she was selling big-time real estate in Washington, D.C., perhaps using her role as Sen. Mark Hatfield’s wife to help her lucrative private business. Is Cylvia Hayes as first lady too powerful? We’re reminded of Bill Clinton’s appointment of his first lady Hillary Clinton to head his important, but failed, drive for reforming our health care system. And, of course, we can’t forget Eleanor Roosevelt. We are impressed that Hayes stood alone at her press conference, unlike shamed political men Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart, etc., who were joined at the podium by their dutiful spouses. She told the press that she asked John not to appear with her. We like Hayes’ main issues, climate change and energy policy, and we hope she and Kitzhaber have four more years to work on them. 

• The city and Eugene Police Department are once again cracking down on those who ride their bikes or skateboards on sidewalks downtown. This time around they are getting all innovative and creative in their efforts to notify errant bikers of the wrongs of sidewalk-cycling: They are using signs. OK, we are being sarcastic. Signs aren’t innovative, even when they look like mutant smiley faces. But the last two times EPD went on a no-wheels-on-the-sidewalks kick, the cops went around spray-painting warning signs on the sidewalk itself. Sadly, they painted them the wrong direction so that you only saw the warning right-side up if you were already on the sidewalk and breaking the law. Kudos to the city and EPD for moving from graffiti to actual signs. Unfortunately the signs don’t solve two big issues: We need better bike lanes downtown so that cyclists don’t feel they need to be on the sidewalk to be safe. And skateboarders have nowhere they can safely and legally ride downtown except apparently crosswalks. We built them a great skatepark but made it hard to get there. 

• Great to see Rep. Peter DeFazio taking a strong stand against escalating U.S. military action in the Middle East. The hounds of war are snarling and drooling and Pete is trying to keep them in chains. DeFazio is distinctly a minority voice, as was Wayne Morse, one of the few in Congress who clearly envisioned the bloody quagmire of U.S. military intervention in Vietnam’s civil war.