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News Briefs

Seattle is on a progressive kick. In 2013, then-Seattle mayor Mike McGinn sought to block Whole Foods from building in West Seattle, not because he opposed new development but because Whole Foods is notoriously anti-union. And under current mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle City Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Get ready to grow. Portland is focusing on infill to meet its growing population, but Eugene is looking to expand its city limits in the next few years. The sprawl is likely to happen despite the city’s commitment to make Eugene more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Five years of community input and technical analysis have led to Envision Eugene expansion plans that appear to be favored by the city administration and the majority on the council, including Mayor Kitty Piercy. 

Late last summer, the images captured of police responding to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, with red, laser-sighted assault rifles and hulking armored vehicles precipitated a congressional hearing to survey the federal programs that funnel surplus military equipment from the Defense Department to law enforcement departments around the country. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently followed up on the pre-enforcement notices it sent to Jeanne M. Burris and Michael & Rosemary Cress in November for illegal waste-tire storage at property owned by Burris at 29882 Kelso St. in Eugene (see EW 12/11, goo.gl/uGo453). DEQ sent Burris a civil penalty assessment in the amount of $15,041 on Dec. 31, and sent Michael Cress a civil penalty assessment in the amount of $19,755 the same day. Burris is the current owner of the property, while Michael Cress is a prior owner.

It may look like a Labradoodle, but the lagotto Romagnolo is actually an ancient dog breed, carefully selected and bred for its ability to sniff out truffles. Though rare, a handful of lagottos live in Eugene, and now they and other breeds have a chance to strut their stuff. For the first time ever, the Oregon Truffle Festival is holding The Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship, a sporting event for dog lovers and truffle fans alike. 

 “In the most elemental form, the faculty has traded its voice in internal government and management for the union’s voice, and the union’s only legal role involves terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit members,” reads a May 2012 memo written by the University of Oregon’s then-legal counsel Randy Geller, calling to abolish the UO’s Faculty Senate and advisory committees that are a part of the university’s “shared governance.” In shared governance, a university’s faculty has a say in how the school is run.

Oregon’s salmon might be moving toward Alaska at a rate of about 30 kilometers (19 miles) a decade, according to a study in the January 2015 issue of Progress in Oceanography. “Marine life is being affected by changes in ocean conditions resulting from changes in climate and chemistry triggered by combustion of fossil fuels,” the study says.

This news comes as Oregon continues to debate the oil trains, coal export and liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export facilities that are jockeying for position throughout the state.

According to our web hits and downloads, the most-read story in EW this year was a story about the other paper in town … The Register-Guard. More precisely, it was our story “Reporter Fired for Checking Email?” about the termination of popular reporter Serena Markstrom Nugent while she was out on pregnancy disability leave. 

That article not only was the most read on our website — it also generated a lot of national attention, with mentions on the journo news site Romenesko and a tweet by NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik. 

M Three Timber Company, 767-3785, plans pre-harvest hack and squirt, spraying Polaris AC on 31 acres near an unknown fish-bearing stream off of Lynx Hollow Road. See ODF notification 2014-781-08761 or call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) may sound like a sci-fi TV show, but they’re actually the name of Oregon’s new science standards for public schools, passed earlier this year. Is Eugene School District 4J ready for them? Well, not yet. Not even close.

Late in the summer of 2013, Lane County closed a protest camp in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza leading to one of many recent debates on the nature of free speech and whether a government agency can shut it down. 

In a Dec. 15 ruling on a motion to dismiss, Municipal Court Judge Karen Stenard writes that the closure in this instance was not unconstitutional under Oregon law. She writes there were “legitimate health and safety concerns.” Activists disputed those concerns at the time of the closure and in the months afterward.

Local group Predator Defense has devoted a large part of its 25-year existence to putting an end to Wildlife Services, a federal agency that traps and poisons predators. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Wildlife Services killed more than 4 million animals in 2013. Recently Predator Defense’s documentary, Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, which delves into the federal agency Wildlife Services, won high praise from noted primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, who writes, “I hope it will be watched by millions.”

“We’ve been pretty busy these last couple days,” says Mindy Beer, who created Pay It Forward Cottage Grove a year ago with her daughter, Jennifer Neil. As Christmas approaches and the weather has turned colder, people have turned to Pay It Forward to give and receive everything from baby formula to refurbished bicycles.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent Lane County a warning letter last month for low pH levels in water pollution discharged from Short Mountain Landfill. Low pH means discharges are acidic, and low pH was observed in both initial and follow-up sampling. 

To some river-lovers it’s the scariest place in Eugene: a longtime homeless camp along the Willamette River strewn with soggy mattresses and moldy rugs, used needles, bike parts, food packaging, wet books, even an old TV set. Trash and worse from campers have been collecting for years between the railroad tracks and the river, and a cleanup project is about to begin now that the camp has been abandoned (see photos on our website). 

On Dec. 16 Lane County commissioners discussed whether to question federal law and pass an ordinance that challenges two controversial sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

The NDAA, a sweeping defense bill that sets the budget for the military, dates back to the post-9/11 period and is renewed every year by Congress. The controversial sections of the bill include provisions to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. The current version of the $585 billion NDAA passed the Senate Dec. 12.

Viewed from the little parking lot off West 11th, As You Like It looks like any artsy boutique in town; a wall of windows covered with delicate black-lace curtains reveal warm wood floors and beams and display shelves sparkling with treasures. The space is a far cry from the windowless shops around Eugene, but make no mistake, this is a sex store, or rather an “eco-conscious, green, gender-inclusive sex toy shop.”

Longtime Native American rights advocate Alfred Leo Smith died Nov. 19. Smith was from Chiloquin, was a member of the Klamath Tribe and was known in Native communities throughout the Northwest. He died shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday in Eugene. 

He’s remembered as a “loving husband, friend, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and fearless warrior,” says his wife of 34 years, Jane Farrell, in a statement sent to his supporters. “He will be missed and remembered for generations to come.”

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has once again found Pacific Recycling to be in violation of the Clean Water Act at its facility on Cross Street (near Roosevelt Boulevard) in Eugene (see EW 6/19, goo.gl/0Icqbj regarding a $327,686 fine assessed against Pacific Recycling in June). DEQ sent Pacific Recycling a warning letter in November for “failing to adequately stabilize or cover soil stockpiles.”  The stockpiles contain soil contaminated with wood treatment agents from neighboring J.H.

A decision on the future of Eugene’s Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) program has been delayed by the Eugene City Council until Jan. 26, since Councilor Claire Syrett could not make the Dec. 8 meeting. MUPTE has come under heavy criticism by citizens and some council members for giving big tax breaks to out-of-state developers for housing projects that might have been built even without the subsidies. The latest council action regarding MUPTE will focus on creating a review process.

Daemion Lee

 et al.

As we go to press, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) and the UO have announced a tentative agreement after an overnight mediation session Dec. 10 in which the UO agreed to create a seven-member committee to oversee a Graduate Student Assistance Fund that allows graduate students to take sick or parental leave, according to a statement from the GTFF. 

Late last month, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium estimated that nationally, only 33 percent of 11th grade students who took the math portion of the Smarter Balanced field test last spring, which Oregon students will take in 2015, were considered proficient or advanced, with the remaining 67 percent needing additional support to meet the standards. And for students with disabilities, the future is even murkier when it comes to addressing their particular needs. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently sent Jeanne M. Burris a pre-enforcement notice for illegal waste tire storage at property owned by Burris at 29882 Kelso St. in Eugene. This notice follows up on a warning letter that DEQ sent to Burris for the same violation in July of last year (see EW 8/8/13, goo.gl/8za9J3). The 2013 warning letter gave Burris until Jan. 15, 2014 to address the problem, but it appears that Burris has failed to do so.

Marcie Stout says if she knew then what she knows now, she would have stood in the lobby at Sacred Heart Medical Center screaming that December night until they admitted her brother, Darwin Stout, even if it meant she too would wind up on a psychiatric hold.