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In May 2013, when Lane County was attempting to pass a jail levy — a tax to increase the number of open beds at the Lane County Jail — the focus was on incarceration. Criminals were being released due to a lack of capacity, proponents said.

This story begins with a simple request for information. Before long, it veers into murky waters about freedom of information and the public trust, and potential violations of both in Eugene and statewide. 

The story ends in a snarl of unfortunate answers with, perhaps, a shard of hope.

Little did we know that one narrow request would end with a tumble down the rabbit hole into the absurd world of public records law in Oregon, leaving us with the question: Do you, as a citizen in a democracy, have the right to know?

At the University of Oregon, if a student is sexually assaulted and tells her or his instructor, then the professor or graduate teaching fellow must report what happened, whether or not the student wants it reported. This is required reporting, also known as mandatory reporting. Reports go to the UO’s Title IX coordinator.

It’s come to light since last week’s Pollution Update that in addition to the warning letter the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently sent to the Springfield Target Store (store number 612, located at Gateway Mall) for hazardous waste law violations, the Springfield Target was one of four Oregon Target stores that were assessed a penalty of $6,850 by DEQ on May 13 for failing to obtain authorization for “underground injection control” (UIC) systems.

• If EW or a member of the public files a public records request about City Hall, could we trust the findings provided by the city? Could we afford to file the request if the city deemed it not in the “public interest?” And what about Kesey Square (aka Broadway Plaza)? Is it safe from becoming an apartment building? How do we have confidence in our government if decisions that affect our community seem to be made in secret?

 • The city of Eugene received an application for a 10-year property tax exemption under the Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) Program and it is taking public comments on the proposal. According to the city, “The Olive Lofts in Eugene is a proposed 5-story, 36-unit housing with ground floor commercial space at 844 Olive Street.

With heated discussions about rezoning in South Eugene, disputes about Kesey Square, confusion about what offices should be in the proposed City Hall and questions about the placing of an expanded farmers market, it has become obvious that planning in Eugene is not functioning well. 

I’m writing this letter because I feel I need to talk about what is going on at the University of Oregon right now, perhaps echoing other people’s concerns. 

A few weeks ago, I ran into Steve Solomon and Marina McShane at the Lane County Farmers Market. This meeting was remarkable for two reasons. One, Solomon, a guru of Northwest vegetable gardening and founder of Territorial Seed Company, has lived in Tasmania since 1998. Two, McShane had recently given me a copy of a book she and Solomon wrote together. 

Nora Murphy Hughes of Portland band Hollow Sidewalks is eight months alcohol-free. She says this transformation in her life is reflected on her band’s new record, Year of the Fieldmouse

L.A. hardcore industrial duo Youth Code is touring in support of its second studio record, Commitment to Complications. With this record, Youth Code, featuring Sara Taylor and Ryan George, push deeper into the rough, serrated electronic territory of bands like Skinny Puppy, Godflesh and Ministry. 

Now celebrating its 14th season, The Shedd’s Magical Moombah serves up vaudevillian romps for kids as well as kids-at-heart. 

I chased down two of Moombah’s illustrious founders, Judith “Sparky” Roberts and Scotty Perey, to see what makes Moombah tick. 

REAL ISSUES

What a relief to have the election cycle end. Now the EW’s letters column can return to real issues instead of boosting candidates. D.H. Bucher wants to repel wealthy Californians from entering our state. Keep Eugene weird! And let’s hold onto our homeless. They aren’t messing things up by voting to raise taxes for infrastructure.

The irreverent postmodern humor of Monty Python — a stew of bawdy iconoclasm, parodic schmaltz and geek-boy cheekery — achieved perhaps its finest expression in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This cult classic contains so many insider touchstones (the Knights Who Say Ni, Frenchmen who fart in your general direction, a homicidal rabbit) that, by now, it requires its own cultural thesaurus.

Chekov updated for a post-Prozac world in OCT’s uneven production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

As with writers David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin, to properly experience playwright Christopher Durang you first have to commit to the musical rhythms of his language. Durang’s humor, dark and cynical as it is, lies within that rhythm.

I am a 40-year-old woman; I came out when I was 16. When I was 17, I met M and we dated for eight years. M was a horrible human being—emotionally and occasionally physically abusive. M still sends me the occasional (creepy) e-mail, wishing me a happy birthday or giving me updates on people I don’t really recall. I don’t respond. A few years back, I got an e-mail saying that M was now “Mike.” I think it’s important to use the pronouns people want you to use for them. But Mike wasn’t Mike when he was in my life.

From the exact moment I spied Susan Sarandon rubbing lemons on her naked torso through the apartment window in Atlantic City, I was in love.

Indie video game developers from as far away as Seattle will showcase their work as part of Indie Game Play Test Night Friday, May 27, at Shoryuken League in downtown Eugene. Event coordinator Britt Brady says it’s crucial that game developers get their projects in front of a game playing audience as early as possible. 

Do you think the band’s founders went through other options before settling on the name Dayglo Abortions back in 1979? Given the Canadian punk trio’s penchant for offensive juvenilia, it would probably be an incredible list.

May in the Willamette Valley is a sight to behold — newly green trees burst with life; the waves of spring flowers make a splashy rainbow of our town; sunlight sets the river dazzling. Even the rain seems a little less oppressive with the promise of intermittent glimpses of sun.

Breathe a collective sigh of happiness, Oregon. These are the good months. 

That’s why EW’s annual outdoors issue touches on different ways you can enjoy nature, from walking in local parks and jogging on forest trails to surfing the river. It’s all there waiting for you, so grab a friend and explore. That computer screen can wait a little longer.

 

Journey to the Sea
The dream of a trail from Corvallis to the coast

A Day in the Park
Eugene volunteer Becky Riley works for chemical-free parks

To the Trails
Run Hub Northwest brings running to the forest

Surf's up
Elijah Mack shares the latest news in river surfing

The Broad Outdoors
Local writer Ruby McConnell pens a handy outdoor guide for women, but men should take a look, too

House on the River
Eugene’s River House celebrates 50 years

About 50 Lane County residents made the trek north the weekend of May 13-15 to join thousands more activists in 350.org’s Break Free Pacific Northwest weekend of action against the Shell and Tesoro refineries and the climate change-causing fossil fuel industry. Another 50 or so of the 2,000 protesters were arrested.

At Sky High Brewing in Corvallis a beer called Shiloh IPA is nearly always sold out. Perhaps its popularity stems from its namesake, Shiloh Sundstrom, a native of Deadwood, Oregon, student and conservationist who was killed in a hit-and-run last November. Charges were not filed in the case.

On a blazing hot spring afternoon, Becky Riley lifts her foot in the air and stomps it against her shovel, grabbing a pile of dirt with her gloved hands as she gently combs through a sea of soil, wriggling with earthworms. 

Riley stands in the middle of a mowed, grass walkway at the north end of Rasor Park off River Road, where she’s getting ready to go head-to-head with a legion of poison oak plants. The 58-year-old has spent the past two years of her life removing poison oak by hand from the grassy field as an alternative to chemical spray. 

The Maude Kerns Art Center opens Photography at Oregon Commitment to Vision: 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibit 6 to 8 pm Friday, May 20. The late Bernard Freemesser, a longtime photography professor at the University of Oregon, started Photography at Oregon, a fine arts photography exhibit at the UO in 1966. The 50th anniversary show features the work of more than 80 artists including Ansel Adams, Brian Lanker, Barbara Morgan, Mary Ellen and Brett Weston.