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Slant 2016-11-17

• Spreading a little sunshine for the Earth post presidential election, we were delighted to see U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken decide in favor of 21 youth plaintiffs in their constitutional climate lawsuit against the president, federal agencies and the fossil fuel industry. The suit can now move forward in the courts.

Judge Aiken’s 54-page opinion included this important quote from Judge Ted Goodwin in the 2015 Wisconsin Law Review: “The current state of affairs … reveals a wholesale failure of the legal system to protect humanity from the collapse of finite natural resources by the uncontrolled pursuit of short-term profits … The modern judiciary has enfeebled itself to the point that law enforcement can rarely be accomplished by taking environmental predators to court …” Judge Goodwin, who started his judicial career in Eugene, served on the Ninth Circuit and is still writing from his home in Sisters, Oregon. A link to Aiken’s ruling is on the EW blog at eugeneweekly.com.

• Two lonely votes by Betty Taylor and George Brown at the Nov. 15 Eugene City Council meeting favored adopting “Kesey Square” as the official moniker of the public space more officially known as Broadway Plaza in the heart of downtown Eugene and rezoning the beloved public space to protect it from development. The vote to postpone was a clear signal that pressure persists to put up a building in that space. Mayor-elect Lucy Vinis and Emily Semple, new councilor from Ward 1, both are on record favoring keeping the square open. Councilors Brown and Taylor remembered the public outcry against a proposal put forward last year by a group of developers who wanted to privatize Kesey Square and erect a mixed-use apartment building in its place. The rest of the council seemed to heed calls by some of Eugene’s business community and voted to hold off a little longer before permanently recognizing and rezoning the popular public space at the intersection at Broadway and Willamette. Some members of Eugene’s downtown business community chimed in via email prior to the meeting, urging the council not to rename and rezone the public space. The names included Nicole Desch of Heritage Dry Goods; Stuart Phillips, director of sales and marketing for Red Wagon Creamery; VP and commercial loan officer John Doty of Citizens Bank in Springfield, who also has connections to the Eugene Chamber of Commerce; Summit Bank’s Andy Storment; Sarah Bennet of Downtown Eugene Inc.; Susan Costa, owner of Mosaic Fair Trade Collection; representatives of Eugene law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick; and architectural firm Rowell Brokaw. Meanwhile at the meeting, Friends of Kesey Square member Jerry Diethelm said a petition in favor of changing the same had several hundred signatures. 

• One of the best things about the Ward 1 Eugene City Council race is that there was a Ward 1 City Council race, unlike other wards where incumbents were not challenged. The hotly contested race between two progressives — Josh Skov and Emily Semple — is the kind of competition we should see in all local elections. That’s democracy, and the conversations that result make us grow. Semple prevailed and she tells EW after the shocking presidential election, “We all need to take those deep, grounding breaths and remember that we still have each other.” Skov says, “I will stay  involved and make sure that the policy ideas I put out there, that clearly resonated with so many people, remain part of the conversation.”

• Michael Samano, a Lane Community College faculty member, and Pastor Mark Molina of Living Waters Church in Springfield, painted a picture of the tough transition from military service to civilian life on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, to the City Club of Eugene. The beleaguered Veterans Administration clearly should do more, as should other segments of our society. One solution seldom mentioned during Veterans Day ceremonies: not so many veterans, not so many wars, peace.

• One of Lane County’s most important institutions celebrated its first half-century Nov. 13 at the Ford Alumni Center with music, speakers, video, dinner, a silent auction and a renewed commitment to telling truth to power in these times. The Community Alliance of Lane County began 50 years ago in opposition to the Vietnam War and continues to work for “peace, human rights and human dignity in our community and around the world.” It was heartening to see the old timers with the young activists. It gives us hope.