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Slant 10-30-2014

Time to get those ballots filled out and in the mail by Thursday, Oct. 30. Ballots also can be dropped off at Lane County Elections at 10th and Lincoln, or in one of the white ballot boxes downtown or on campus. Deadline is 8 pm Tuesday, Nov. 4, and postmarks don’t count. See our endorsements round-up in this issue and for more information, dig out last week’s EW from the recycling bin or go to eugeneweekly.com. Some candidate races and measure votes could be squeaky close and the nation will be watching Oregon next week to see what happens with measures to legalize pot and label GMOs. Be a part of history. Vote!

• What will the new City Hall actually cost? In this column Oct. 2 we predicted some “buyer’s remorse” for the Eugene City Council when over time the real costs of wrecking and rebuilding City Hall are revealed. We’re seeing a preview this week with the council approving $2.5 million to add an unfinished fourth floor to Phase 1. So the much-touted $15 million new City Hall will now cost $17.5 million or more. A proposal was nixed (for now) to add 17 to 20 below-grade parking spaces for $1.4 million, or $70,000 to $83,500 per space. WTF? Underground parking usually costs about $30,000 a space. 

The city cut library hours and parks are not getting the attention they need, so where will the extra $2.5 million come from? Looks like Public Works has a $2.5 million “surplus.” Shall we credit excessive stormwater fees? 

Meanwhile, the old City Hall is looking good now that the flaking façade is gone. It’s an impressive building with 120 underground parking spaces, all about to be pulverized. The council decided to tear down and recycle the circular council chambers, which makes sense from an architectural standpoint. It will no longer be the iconic centerpiece of anything.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This paragraph has been edited to remove the reference in print to the council voting unanimously to tear down City Hall. There was no unanimous vote.

• The UO Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support presented a list of more than 20 recommendations for dealing with sexual violence and misconduct on campus on Oct. 22. The report was called “Twenty Students Per Week” for the number of students at the UO who face attempted or completed sexual assaults. The task force’s recommendations include establishing one central office to coordinate sexual and gender violence — currently UO students dealing with sexual violence are presented with a bewildering array of options to report to, and some have complained of repeatedly having to retell the painful story of their assault. Other recommendations include mandatory sexual assault prevention classes, expanding women’s self-defense training and empowering the Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (IAC) so it can address sexual violence issues as they pertain to athletics.

Rep. Phil Barnhart is up for re-election and his Republican opponent, cattle rancher Andy Petersen, has managed to discredit himself with some outrageous last-minute statements about Barnhart’s voting record. Even some Republicans will likely be offended by Petersen’s fear-mongering claims that Barnhart voted for releasing sex offenders from the state registry and releasing “convicted killers.” A closer examination shows Barnhart voting for common-sense changes in our laws, changes supported by both parties. Petersen’s distortions and exaggerations reflect poorly on his character and his suitability to serve the public interest in the Legislature. 

• Big kudos to Lisa Arkin and Beyond Toxics for bringing Tyrone Hayes to Eugene and Oregon for three appearances Oct. 24. Hayes is a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been trying to educate America about atrazine. He told a City Club of Eugene audience that he and his family have been personally threatened by the chemical industry because of his studies of this endocrine disrupter which is the second most widely used pesticide in the world, and is now banned in Europe. So what do we do about it? Litigation, legislation, regulation, Hayes recommends.