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News Briefs

Students, faculty and staff at the University of Oregon have the right to conduct controversial scholarship and teaching or hold contentious public positions, according to the University Senate, a body made up of faculty, students and staff that is a partner in the shared governance of the UO. 

In early April the senate body unanimously passed an Academic Freedom Policy. Professor Michael Dreiling, the president of the UO’s newly formed union, United Academics, says that this policy would help to unlock “the greatest potential” that the UO has to offer.

• Little Lake Logging and Const. Inc., 927-3339, plans to spray Tordon RTU (triclopyr ester) on 30 acres near Little Lake Creek. See ODF notice 2014-781-00486, call Robin L. Biesecker at 935-2283 with questions.

• USR Company LLC, Rosboro LLC, 746-8411, and High Mountain Investment Group, 746-8411, plan to hire Dole Land Management Inc. to spray their roadsides throughout Benton County with imazapyr and/or triclopyr. See ODF notices 2014-551-00183, 2014-551-00184 and 2014-551-00185, call Bill Mahr at 929-3266 with questions.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a $7,800 penalty against the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC) last week for causing pollution of waters of the state in February. MWMC operates the Eugene-Springfield wastewater collection and treatment system, including the treatment plant on River Avenue and the “biosolids management facility” on Awbrey Lane. On Feb.

In addition to the historic trolley tracks unearthed every so often on Willamette Street, Eugene is bursting with historically significant elements that are out in the open, like the dry stone retaining wall on the north side of Skinner Butte built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Lady Jangchup Palmo reacted in a unique way the moment she was diagnosed with cancer. “Her first response was laughter, joy,” says Jigme Rinpoche, her son.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted on April 22 to give County Counsel Stephen Dingle a raise via a step advancement after what commissioners say was a positive review in a closed executive session. Dingle’s salary was at $145,995 a year, according to his contract. His move to what the board order calls “the next step on the salary schedule for Program Manager, D82, which is Step 8,” puts his salary at $152,630.

Dental coverage and living wages are not something people think about if they already have them. But when a worker doesn’t have one, or in the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) of the University of Oregon’s case, either, this can lead to not only health problems, but also to friction when it comes to contract negotiations.

The UO GTFF 3544 held a rally Friday, April 25, outside Johnson Hall to spread awareness about what the union says is the administration’s lack of ability to meet with the GTFF and provide fair negotiations. 

• Rosboro LLC, 746-8411, plans to hire Dole Land Management, Inc. to spray 500 acres of roadsides on their timberlands throughout Lane County with imazapyr and/or triclopyr. See ODF notice 2014-781-00453, call 935-2283 with questions. 

• ODOT has begun spring spraying. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5, 58, 99, 101, 126 and Beltline were sprayed recently and Highway 36 may be sprayed Wednesday.

The Whiteaker neighborhood underwent something of a Velvet Revolution April 23 as residents of Eugene’s artsy neighborhood elected a total of 13 new members to the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC), including incoming chairman Sam Hahn and secretary David Nickles, author of the recent Whiteaker Manifesto.

County Commissioner Pete Sorenson is calling for Lane County to return to being a little more open and available. He sent an email to the county’s agenda team, which determines what items will be dealt with at County Commission meetings, that starts, “I remember a time when the Republican Central Committee, the Democratic Party of Lane County and many other groups would routinely use Harris Hall as a gathering place.

The nonprofit Better Eugene Springfield Transit (BEST) will host a meeting May 14, during which they will hear concerns from Lane County human services providers about the community’s public transit needs. Laurie Trieger on the BEST board of directors says she anticipates the conversation will be about transportation needs of low-income individuals.

The American dream of suburbia is running out of road —at least according to Benjamin Ross, a Maryland-based author and transit activist. He will tackle this issue and more when he comes to town to speak on May 4, exactly two days after his latest book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, hits the shelves.

“The suburban value system that people used to assume was a superior way of living has reached a dead end,” says Ross. “It’s no longer a status symbol to have a lawn and a car.”

Labor unions have for years been pitted against conservationists in a jobs-versus-the-environment conflict. But now, a greater threat to the planet has paired members of the rival movements in a fight against a greater evil: global climate change. 

Two law briefs that attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center says could affect whether constitutional rights in Eugene and across the U.S. are  “silently but significantly” being eroded and “swept under the radar screen” were filed in courts this past week. The briefs involve participants from Occupy Eugene and SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) and preexisting cases that deal with the First Amendment right to protest and assemble in what Regan calls “our revered public forums.”

Thanks to a federal law enacted in 2005, Eugene gets about 40 blasts of a 96- to 110-decibel horn each time a train passes through town, according to Whitey Lueck. Lueck is an instructor in the UO’s Department of Landscape Architecture who has been involved over the years in trying to implement a “quiet zone” for Eugene’s 10 crossings to protect the ears of city dwellers. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality sent San Mateo-based J.H. Baxter & Co. a warning letter on March 31 for various hazardous waste law violations discovered by DEQ during an unannounced inspection on March 25 at Baxter’s wood treatment facility in Eugene’s Trainsong neighborhood. Violations included failure to label hazardous waste, failure to conduct required hazardous waste inspections, failure to provide up-to-date contingency plans to first responders and failure to clean up spills.

The Lane County Jail announced on April 21 that it will no longer hold inmates on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers without a warrant or a court order. This is in response to an April 11 federal court ruling that Clackamas County violated a woman’s Fourth Amendment rights by holding her in jail for 19 hours after her case was settled in order to let federal immigration agents begin investigating her residency status. 

TEDxUOregon returned April 19 for its second year of speakers, student speakers and performances at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall.

New affordable, childbirth education classes will be offered weekly starting this Sunday, April 27, at River Road Parks & Recreation in response to a change in the way PeaceHealth at RiverBend is offering its classes. The River Road classes, taught by Lillian Shoupe, will focus on relaxation, confronting preconceived cultural ideas of birth, a deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology and building positive affirmation for the process they’re going through.

A study published this month involving Eugene grade school students supports what every chocolate lover already knows: Don’t take away the chocolate milk. 

In 2011, 11 4J elementary schools participated in a study that evaluated the effects of removing chocolate milk as a beverage choice from school lunches. After two months of chocolate milk-bereft lunches, total daily milk sales went down about 10 percent, and children threw away 29.4 percent more milk, meaning that more kids picked up the regular milk but decided not to drink it. 

Achoo! Uh oh, your hamburger was totally just attacked by a snot-rocket! Thankfully, 48 companies in the Eugene area see the benefits of not having sick staff serve food. Paid sick leave, which gives workers the ability to stay home sick without losing financial stability, could be granted to workers within the city limits of Eugene as soon as January 2015. 

As Eugene city leaders floundered last week in relocating the former residents of the Whoville homeless camp, an anonymous benefactor took up the issue, offering a $400,000 donation to establish a sanctuary on private property.

The pledge came as a direct response to, among general grievances, the unyielding position of City Manager Jon Ruiz and others willing to leave the destitute in limbo. “I wanted to step up,” the donor tells EW, “because I saw the city making an attempt to push these people out. They’re citizens, not strangers.”

Sombath Somphone is “one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures,” according  to a December 2013 press statement from Secretary of State John Kerry on the one year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. Sombath was kidnapped from a police checkpoint in Laos and has not been heard from since. Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui-Meng, will be speaking about her husband’s disappearance and the challenges to free speech and human rights in Laos and in the rest of Southeast Asia while in Eugene on Monday, April 21.