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Slant 4-12-2012

Waldo Lake’s quiet wilderness ambiance got a reprieve Tuesday night in Springfield with a 3-2 decision by the Oregon State Marine Board to maintain the long-fought ban on gas-powered motor boats and float planes. The fight is not over as a lawsuit continues in the Oregon Court of Appeals, but this is good news and shows that the voice of the people can sway sometimes intransigent agencies to do the right thing. It might take the Legislature to put an end to the legal squabbles. Kudos to Oregon Wild, the Sierra Club and other groups and individuals who have worked on this ongoing effort to protect this rare gem of lake. 

Last week, former congressman Jim Weaver spoke at an Oregon Wild gathering about his work in Congress in 1984 to create wilderness designation for 36,500 acres of forest surrounding Waldo on three sides. He said the struggle over wilderness “rivals any religious war.” He said, “I’ve been shot at, hung in effigy many times,” and said his “big enemy” at the time was timber baron Stub Stewart. “His family is still fighting me over the ban of motors on Waldo.” Weaver said he was surprised to learn many years after the wilderness designation that Waldo Lake itself was not protected. “That was the intent of Congress,” he said. “I was the intent of Congress — to include the lake and not allow motorized traffic.”

• Eugene was Track City USA and Dance City Oregon on April 7 when national track athletes competed in the Pepsi Team Invitational and Oregon dance athletes performed and practiced in the first Northwest Dance Festival. Sponsored by the Eugene Youth Ballet, the official youth division of the Eugene Ballet company, the festival brought young Oregon dancers from five companies for workshops at the UO, a sparkling show at the Wildish Theater in Springfield and a reception at June restaurant across Willamette Street from the dance studios. At the end of the day, the UO men and women both won the big track meet and all the dancers “won” in their own ways.

• “Don’t be surprised,” we wrote in Slant back in Feb. 2, “if Occupy becomes a major issue for conservatives seeking city office,” and we saw a bit of that at the City Club forum April 6 when mayoral candidate Kevin Prociw said the “city climate has degraded because of Occupy Eugene,” and said if he were mayor he would not allow anyone to camp in city parks. He’ll pick up some votes for that stand, but we think most Eugeneans appreciate the way Mayor Kitty Piercy, the city manager and police chief responded to Eugene’s Occupy camp. Piercy’s other challenger, John Walrod, didn’t have much to say other than that he’s a “conservative, economically, socially and environmentally.”

• It appears the only real race at the city level is between longtime Councilor Betty Taylor and challengers Juan Carlos Valle and Jim Ray. The eloquent Valle says he wants to “continue Betty’s legacy” on the council, and they likely agree on many things. But Taylor is very clear in her positions on many issues, including her firm opposition to tax breaks for private developers, support for making downtown inclusive for all Eugeneans, and protecting our environment in specific ways. So far we have not seen that clarity from Valle. Regarding the tax breaks for private developers, Valle said, “We need to talk about it.” Ray called for “cleaning up the drugs” in public schools and to “get rid of panhandlers to attract more people downtown.” Well, as it turns out, panhandling is constitutionally protected as free speech.

SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor@eugeneweekly.com