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Slant 5-24-2012

EWEB, our public utility, and the people who work for it historically have made us proud. Now we wonder what’s going on with EWEB. Why doesn’t management embrace the existing fine headquarters appropriately on the banks of the Willamette? It’s close to the city center, easy for staff and citizens to come and go. Why the constant discussion about moving over to the Chambers area on the west side, probably to a new building? Why speculate with $2.5 million of the reserve fund on a vacant factory in the west side? 


What now, Democrats? Dems in Lane County have a new chair in Julie Fahey. The position had been vacant since March when Matt Davis resigned to work on a PAC for Oregon House Democrats. Fahey plans to focus on boosting Dem voter turnout in the November general election, but we hope she also looks seriously at damage control from the primary election when some elected Democrats turned against Commissioner Pete Sorenson. We may never understand why our local legislative contingency lined up against one of the strongest and most popular progressives in the state, but we do know it was an ill-advised strategic blunder. Conservatives love it when they see liberals eating their own. So come on Dems, mend fences with Pete and move along.


• Where did the losing commission candidates go wrong? We’re not sure Rob Handy could have done much more to counter the effects of redistricting, biased coverage by the R-G, being outspent 2-1, and the dirty tactics of the Pat Farr/ Lindholm/ timber industry onslaught. Handy made a few mistakes along the way, such as trying to define Farr as an “ultra-conservative,” and he had some awkward moments defending himself. He could have spent more time reminding voters of the good he’s done, rather than snarking at Farr. For example, voters never really understood that the efforts by Handy and Sorenson to fund “personal assistants” was for the sole purpose of improving constituent services. Thousands of Lane County residents call their commissioners each year seeking help dealing with county services. Most, especially those in Faye Stewart’s district, never get a call back. Handy, on the other hand, is known for personally responding to concerns of residents throughout the county.

Where did Andy Stahl blow his campaign against Sorenson? He never distanced himself from his connections to Randal O’Toole and the libertarian Cato Institute. Libertarians are an eyebrow-raising political fringe in progressive south Eugene. And he was not very convincing in talking about how well he has collaborated with others in the past. No one from his school board days, for example, came forward to laud him for being a creative and positive team player who gets things done. And Stahl’s position on the controversial DeFazio bipartisan forest plan was fuzzy at best. Sorenson’s environmental concerns about the plan were clearly defined, but Stahl’s statements left a lot of people scratching their heads. 


• Interesting email from UO Interim President Bob Berdahl to his faculty in mid-May included this about a proposed independent board for the university: “We are not asking for independence from the state of Oregon; we seek a new relationship with the state and its higher education institutions.” That was one of the demands from the UO to the governor and chancellor after the firing of Richard Lariviere. We’re skeptical, but maybe the power of the newly approved faculty union will play into a proposal that builds on the excellence of the UO while preserving the strength of the state system, plus winning approval of the chancellor and governor. That’s a huge assignment!


• Let’s show up and cheer for the opening game of the new Eugene Metro Fútbol Club’s opening home game at 7 pm Friday, June 1, at South Eugene High School’s soccer field. The new league is co-sponsored by Market of Choice, Adidas and yep, Eugene Weekly.  


• Excellent turnout at the Mount Pisgah Wildflower & Music Festival May 20 and a good fundraiser to support trail maintenance, environmental education and habitat restoration at the arboretum. This is one of those lively, unique celebrations that bring out the best in people and make Lane County a remarkable place to live, love and grow.