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News Briefs

Government agencies like to release bad news on Fridays and sneak bad rules in over the Christmas holidays, the wisdom goes, because there’s less of a chance that anyone will notice on the weekend or on a week off. County Administrator Liane Richardson appears to have made significant changes about access to the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in Lane County’s Administrative Procedures Manual (APM) at the beginning of the Christmas holidays. 

The Eugene Disc Golf Club (EDGC) and local disc golfers and fans are gathering at 7:45 am Saturday, Feb. 2, at Dexter State Park east of Eugene for the second annual Ice Bowl. 

Animal lovers and supporters of humane treatment alike will gather in Salem on Feb. 12 for Humane Lobby Day, where they can learn about five new bills, among others, that will affect the welfare of animals. 

“It’s a great opportunity for people who care about animals to let their voices be heard,” says Scott Beckstead, Oregon senior director with The Humane Society of the United States. “Although we’re a state with a proud tradition of promoting animal welfare, we have these antiquated laws.”

Neighborhood associations: not full of criminals. That was the finding of a city of Eugene investigation into whether three neighborhood associations tried to extort money from a local developer.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent Robert Saltsgaver, Jr. a warning letter on Dec. 17 for significant violations of Oregon environmental law stemming from illegal disposal of an estimated 4,800 to 6,600 waste tires and construction and demolition debris at 31841 Cedar Creek Road, Cottage Grove.  The letter notes that such illegal disposal can lead to contamination of soil, surface water, and groundwater, and requests corrective actions.

Eugene City Council is scheduled to vote Jan. 28 on new penalties for unruly partiers, but some Eugeneans say those fines aren’t so fine. The proposed social host ordinance would lower the number of attendees required to deem a party “unruly” and make landlords liable for police response costs after the fourth offense.

A door-to-door census collects U.S. demographic info, but if you don’t have a door you don’t count. On Jan. 30 there will be a street count, which means every homeless person found on the streets as well as in shelters will be accounted for. Unsheltered people will be asked to fill out a form detailing where they are staying and how long they have been homeless, while also providing other information about their current state. 

Marc Kardell didn’t look like a fight-the-power kind of guy at his “name-clearing hearing” in the Lane County commissioners’ offices on Jan. 18; he looked like the proper, grey-haired attorney and public servant he is, or rather, since being fired by Lane County last May, was. 

Fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, recession. The words out of Washington are gloomy and confusing, but Jared Bernstein, who has been chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class and a member of President Obama’s economic team, says when he comes to give a talk in Eugene on Jan. 28, he comes “with a message of hope for the future” and that he is also here to listen and help clarify the economic news out of the nation’s capital. 

As salmon populations continue to decline on the West Coast, policy makers and government officials argue over ways to prevent extinction. But according to Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and tribal chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in Northern California, the salmon can’t wait much longer. 

Friends of Michael David Rister, who was better known downtown as Sweet Pea, want to know who the assailants were that they say attacked him. Sweet Pea, a homeless street artist, was often seen outside the Circle K and Pita Pit in Eugene. Friends are working on a memorial celebration for him, and they also say they want justice for him in his death. 

The ninth annual All Comer’s Meet hosted by the Disciples of Dirt mountain bike club will begin at 9:45 am Sunday, Jan. 20, at Whypass near Lorane. This is the DOD’s largest annual event and has steadily grown each year. 

“Attendance last year, verified by signed wavers, was 149 people but estimates were closer to 165, even with snow on the ground that day,” says Shawn Litson, spokesperson for DOD. This is a free event and open to all. 

Eugene might want to update its slogan: “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors — and Beer.” Claim 52 Brewing, a west Eugene craft brewery that began first and third Friday dock sales in November, is adding a European-style flavor (among others) to the local offerings.

Accustomed to seeing a UO cop, thinking “rent-a-cop” and continuing your misbehavior? Better take a second glance in that rearview. The newly christened University of Oregon Police Department (UOPD) could hand you a ticket or lock you up off campus if UO decides — internally — to change its public safety policies.

The BP oil disaster that sent an estimated 4.9 million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for three months after an April 2010 oil rig explosion is neither gone nor forgotten. BP is still paying settlements on the long-term effects of the Macondo well’s spill on the fragile ecosystem as well as paying millions in criminal fines. And the legal cases continue: On Jan.

Numerous events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday,
Jan. 21, have been scheduled around the valley. 

In Eugene, an annual march will begin at 11 am at Autzen Stadium followed by an event at 12:15 pm at The Shedd Institute featuring actor and activist Danny Glover and recording artists Lela Parra, Sayba, Ray J and Jeremy Rosado of American Idol fame. Free tickets will be given out at the parade.

Monitoring of the Amazon Creek Basin by the city of Eugene under the city’s Clean Water Act permit for urban stormwater discharges during 2011-2012 shows a decreasing trend for about 77 percent of indicators, though water quality standards for various pollutants are still exceeded in the basin. For copper, 30 percent of samples exceeded the relevant water quality standard by up to seven times.

The Lane Board of County Commissioners had scheduled a vote to appoint Senior Assistant County Counsel Stephen Dingle as the new county counsel at their Jan. 8 meeting, but postponed the issue of Dingle’s contract, voting instead on another part of the agenda item — to re-create the Office of Lane County Legal Counsel as a separate county department.

That’s not rain outside; it’s the 1,200-resident Capstone student housing development moving full steam ahead now that the company has settled with neighborhood advocate Paul Conte for $260,000 in exchange for Conte dropping land-use and planning-related legal appeals. Conte and two other fund managers will use much of the money for improvements to the areas around the student housing project.

At bar close in the Barmuda Triangle on Tuesday, Dec. 4, Tomo Tsurumi — saxophonist for Volifonix and origami artist — was attacked by a twenty-something Caucasian male with fair, long curly hair. Tsurumi, who has been busking with his alto saxophone in downtown Eugene for the past seven years, says he had stepped into Jameson’s for one beer before bar close. Upon exiting, Tsurumi was approached by a “drunk and happy” man.

Sid Leiken, chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners, put a positive spin on hope for the poor state of the county’s finances during his State of the County address on Jan. 7. Leiken focused on the positive improvements in areas such as community health, while members of SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) protested outside Harris Hall to advocate for the homeless. 

A recent Register-Guard article about restructuring the University of Oregon’s Office of Equity and Inclusion set off a firestorm among students, many of whom were gone for break when they heard the restructuring involved ending the contracts of three popular administrators. 

In a curious case of human logic, public opinion is growing in favor of better gun control regulations, but gun sales are up, and the businesses that sell firearms won’t talk. Cabela’s, Bi-Mart, Walmart and S&M Gun Shop didn’t respond before press time, while Eugene shooting range and gun retail store Baron’s Den refused to comment. The reluctance to respond to repeated phone calls could be an indicator of how uncomfortable firearm distributors nationwide have become in the wake of shootings in Clackamas and Newtown, Conn., among others.

Conrad Barney says you never have it all while being homeless. “It almost seems like places have two out of three things that you need,” he says. “We have an ample supply of material; we have water and clothing and blankets because our community cares.” Barney commenced a hunger strike Dec. 11, he says, because the city’s camping ban makes something that’s important in rainy cold Eugene, shelter, difficult to attain.