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Slant 8-6-2015

• Attorneys for the 18-year-old woman who filed a civil suit against the UO and basketball coach Dana Altman in regard to allegations of gang rape by three basketball players announced the cases were dismissed pursuant to a settlement this week. We have some questions: First, how far has the UO really progressed in both preventing sexual assaults on campus and also in dealing with them — we profiled the case of former student Laura Hanson earlier this year, in which the UO spent $30,000 plus attorney costs to settle her suit alleging it mishandled her case. In both the $800,000-plus basketball case and in Hanson’s case the school took counseling records without the survivors’ permission. Second, now that the UO has spent almost $1 million to settle rape cases, will it try to return to its sports business as usual? Meanwhile, UO President Michael Schill’s statement after the recent settlement gives us hope that this public university will be moving in new directions. 

• EWEB Commissioner John Brown has taken heat (in this weather, no less) for his suggestions regarding the homeless camps along the Willamette (see our news briefs last week), but the critics are missing the key point that more needs to be done to not only protect our fragile river, but also to provide safe and legal campsites for the homeless and more affordable housing. Brown photographed 22 trashed campsites that were cleaned up last week by Eugene Parks & Open Space using a 10-person Sheriff’s Office work crew. The sites were in Skinner Butte Park below the RiverPlay area and Brown’s images are disturbing, particularly photos of the large pile of human feces and toilet paper near the river. Other hazardous riverside camps and trash dumps can be found on land not owned by the city, which complicates cleanup efforts.

We checked with Ryan Turner of Eugene Parks & Open Space to see how this all works on city land, and he tells us two people on his staff spend an entire day each week responding to complaints about trash and illegal camping, and they also regularly check locations with a history of such activity. They post areas for cleanup and provide campers 24 hours notice before the work crews show up. “This is a significant, year-round workload for us that has increased in scope over the past few years,” Turner says, and the workload distracts from other park maintenance and habitat projects. The city spends about $250,000 a year cleaning up homeless camps. “We’re always seeking better ways to improve our approach to this problem,” he says. John Brown has some ideas. Anybody else?

• In our ongoing dialogue about climate catastrophe, we don’t hear a lot about electing more enlightened people to public office. We can debate among ourselves about carbon sequestration, alternative transportation, water conservation, air quality and land use, but if we keep electing politicians who only talk about jobs, taxes and the economy, we won’t make any progress. Attitudes toward climate should be a litmus test for anyone running for office, from our city councils and county commissions to the White House. Local elections are coming up next year and too many office contenders are climate shruggers, if not outright climate deniers.

• In addition to committing passionate local journalism, EW staffers are proud that our interns and freelancers move on to great careers. A brief glance at some of our recent interns shows that Ben Stone is starting a paid internship at Esquire this fall, Anna V. Smith is a reporter at the Journal of the San Juan Islands, Ted Shorack is a reporter with the Bend Bulletin, Bryan Kalbrosky is doing digital content with FOX Sports in Los Angeles, Silas Valentino is living in NYC freelancing for the Village Voice and Queens Chronicle and Lauren Messman is an editorial assistant for VICE in New York.

Reaching a few years back, Alex Zielinski has been working at a paid internship in Washington, D.C. at The Atlantic, Cali Bagby is a reporter with the Islands’ Sounder, Deborah Bloom is an associate producer at CNN international, Martha Calhoon is a public information officer with the Portland Housing Bureau, Darcy Wallace is editor at the Springfield Times and Amanda Bedortha is editor at Eugene Magazine. Former intern Amy Schneider is now EW’s special issues editor and former freelancer Alex V. Cipolle is now our arts editor. We’re sure we’ve missed some folks on this list, so if you know any EW writers that have gone on to great things, let us know!

• Debris at the Civic Stadium site is now being removed by Belfor Environmental, a national company specializing in property restoration. The project is expected to take several weeks. Eugene Civic Alliance (ECA) has received requests from people asking for parts of the stadium as mementos, but small amounts of hazardous material are in the debris and must be contained and disposed of carefully. “However, the Belfor team will set aside some materials to be cleaned for possible future use by ECA as commemorative items,” according to a statement from ECA. “Work continues on new design plans. The design is expected to be similar to the original plan — a new fieldhouse for Kidsports, a turf field and a stadium. ECA will be developing the site in stages.” Find updates at eugenecivicalliance.org.