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Slant 9-22-2016

Photo credit Tracy Sydor

• If you are desperate to do something, anything, to defeat Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton, here’s an avenue: Start phone-banking for Hillary, especially to critical swing states Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Nevada. Plug in by stopping at the coordinated campaign office, 131 E. 11th Avenue, or phoning 541-623-0330, or emailing Chris@forwardoregon.org. We’re lucky to live in Oregon, which will not be a Trump state, but the tech allows us to work across state lines. All signs point to a perilously close race. Every phone call will help.

• Maybe we need a tech game for the siting of Eugene’s City Hall. This week both the EWEB building on the river and the old Bon Marché building and former call center on west Broadway are in the news as possibilities for our center of city government. Councilor Mike Clark has always favored the EWEB building, Betty Taylor opposed, Alan Zelenka not so sure. If you throw in the possibilities around a new Lane County courthouse, expanded farmers’ market, improved Park Blocks, the game grows. Frank Lawson, new general manager of EWEB, clearly intends to move quickly on selling the riverfront building and we confess it looks better and better after bumbling through other options. Next move, please?

• A photo from July surfaced last week (see our blog at http://eugeneweekly.com/blog/racists-and-eugene-police-twitter ) that depicts local racist Jimmy Marr shaking the hands of a Eugene police officer. Given the continued shootings of African Americans by police, the photo is triggering. Marr posted the photo on Twitter, and EPD tells EW that the officer did not see the disturbing slogans painted on Marr’s truck, such as “Jew Lies Matter” and says that “the officer did exactly what he’s supposed to do, which is to respond in a professional and courteous manner to someone who wants to greet them and in return shook the man’s hand.” We get that. But it’s also disturbing EPD was not familiar with a truck as controversial as Marr’s driving around town. Meanwhile, members of Occupy Eugene and other protesters tell us that EPD officers have refused to shake their hands. EPD has been called out on the handshake. Marr needs to be called out on his racism. In the current national climate of hate and xenophobia, we need to speak up to help resolve these problems. #blacklivesmatter. 

Update: EPD responds that officers do in fact have a history of shaking hands with Occupy. See the photo above.
Local group Standing Up for Racial Justice has written an open letter to EPD about the photo published on Medium: https://medium.com/@SURJSpfldEug/open-letter-to-the-eugene-police-depart...

Two major public records cases were addressed last week. On Sept. 15, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that in the case of the Tasering of University of Oregon student Ian Van Ornum during a downtown pesticide rally in 2008, the city of Eugene must make its internal police investigation public. EPD found that Officer Judd Warden, who Tasered the student twice, did not use excessive force. Ornum’s conviction for resisting arrest was later overturned and the charges later dropped. Eugene-based Judge Martha Walters wrote that under Oregon’s public records law, “in the circumstances present here, the public interest in transparency carries significant weight.” Meanwhile the Oregon Department of Justice overturned a 14-year-old rule requiring some state agencies to charge for public records, thanks to an appeal filed by the Salem Statesman Journal, which took issue with a decision by the Public Employees Retirement System to charge full price for release of public records. The more transparent our government and law enforcement is, the more we trust them.