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Slant 5-17-2012

• Commissioner Rob Handy’s defeat at the ballot box this week is due to factors that have gotten little or no attention in the other media. Gerrymandering made the North Eugene district more conservative, favoring Pat Farr, but an even bigger impact was from the blatantly deceptive, even libelous push-polling and mailing done by Farr’s industry-funded PAC on his behalf. Farr is claiming to have run a clean campaign based on his background and experience, but in fact this was the dirtiest and most negative campaign we’ve seen in years. These shenanigans were ignored by the R-G. On the plus side, it will be good to see Farr depart the City Council. We are happy to see Pete Sorenson keep his seat for four more years, but it will be lonely for him being the only environmentally sane person on a board that deals with huge enviro issues. As for Councilor Betty Taylor, the run-off in November against Juan Carlos Valle will be a challenge for her, but contested races give the public an opportunity to focus in on the issues. And pot-head power prevailed to make Ellen Rosenblum the new AG.

• We just heard the opening game for the Eugene Metro Fútbol Club Azul has been delayed until June 1 at South Eugene High School against the Spokane Shine. See our cover story last week for a look at the new high-level women’s soccer team, part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League. 

• Now that the Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) for the 1,200-student Capstone building has been approved for downtown, we have a chance to look back at the decision-making process. While the shift of students from other areas has the potential to be good or bad — and more likely a little of both — no one wants to see more decisions made like this one. From the ability of the developers to choose the timeline and deadlines to the lack of nuance and guidance written into Eugene’s MUPTE provisions, this process clarified that changes must happen. We hope that council looks north to see how Portland has made its plan encourage affordable housing instead of pricy Taj Mahals.

• What’s going on over at Lane County government? Stand up for a liberal cause and lose your job? Shortly after county attorney Pierre Robert defended Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson in the Open Meetings lawsuit and argued the county should appeal the controversial Gillespie ruling, he was replaced. Now Marc Kardell, who was arguing that Parvin Butte ought to have a site review before it gets blasted away, has been laid off. 

• Speaking of Lane County and open meetings — under Oregon law: “In case of an actual emergency, a meeting may be held upon such notice as is appropriate to the circumstances, but the minutes for such a meeting shall describe the emergency justifying less than 24 hours’ notice.”  We’ve asked Lane County what justified having a meeting with not much more than an hour’s notice about releasing the letter and public records accusing Commissioner Rob Handy of taking inappropriate donations as an “emergency,” but we’ve not gotten a clear response from county officials as to why they couldn’t wait 24 hours, nor have the minutes from the meeting been posted. So was the emergency meeting on May 3 really a lawful, open meeting? 

Buckley House in Eugene is one of the largest alcohol detox centers in the state, providing residential, outpatient and short-term beds for drunks who are a threat to themselves or others and might otherwise end up in the gutter. Buckley House saves lives and money, freeing up jail beds, reducing crime and keeping people out of expensive hospital emergency rooms. But proposed Lane County budget cuts and other reductions in funding are threatening to shut down Buckley’s Sobering Station services July 1. The logic here escapes us. It’s a bit like feeding your beloved family pooch only kitchen scraps to save money and then being puzzled by high vet bills.

 • Hey local musicians, it’s that time of year again and the Next Big Thing contest is about to take off. If you think your band has what it takes to throw your hat in the ring, submissions begin Thursday, May 17, in hardcopy form and Monday, May 21, via EW’s website. Prizes include cash, recording time, publicity and respect. The finalists will gig the McDonald Theatre at the EW 30-year anniversary Best of Eugene Awards ceremony. Get in your original songs; we want to hear them!