• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Slant

Lane County Democrats gathered Feb. 18 for their traditional endorsement process for nonpartisan May Primary races. No big surprises (Lucy Vinis for mayor, Tony McCown for county commissioner), but no endorsements for any of the three Dems running to replace George Brown in Eugene City Council Ward 1. DPLC Chair Chris Wig is one of the candidates, and to avoid a conflict of interest, he turned over the meeting to Vice-chair Laura Gillpatrick.

Eugene Weekly does not condone or encourage acts of violence or destruction in the name of any cause. We were dismayed to find out that someone threw a large rock through the glass door of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce building in the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 13. The perpetrator also placed several copies of the Feb.

• A discussion about Eugene’s Downtown Urban Renewal District (DTURD, to some) at the City Council work session Feb. 8 offered indications of some councilors’ disregard for the public trust. DTURD diverts a portion of property taxes away from city, county and schools for projects intended to improve Eugene’s urban center. In general, the council agrees that DTURD projects, such as upgrading the city’s internet infrastructure, merit further consideration, but only a few questioned the ethics of renewing a program they pledged five years ago not to renew.

• As we enter into this election season, it’s time to ponder the question of how much power a non-elected official should have. Appointed City Manager Jon Ruiz appears to be making changes to the new City Hall without keeping the elected City Council in the loop (see News this issue). Maybe the issue of offices seems like no big deal on the surface, but it affects how our government will run in the future and how public money is spent on this project.

• Eugene City Councilor George Brown told us earlier this week that he will not be seeking re-election to a third term in the May Primary. It’s a decision he’s been pondering for a while, and in earlier conversations we tried to talk him out of it. His progressive, thoughtful voice on the council is in the minority and is vitally important to the future livability and prosperity of our community. But he’s grown weary.

• “Red Barn” is one well-known piece from the great legacy of Oregon artist Mark Clarke, who died suddenly Jan. 11 at age 80. His memorial was Jan. 17 in The Shedd. Remembered both for how he captured his surroundings in oil and acrylic, and for how he and his family lived in this world, Mark Clarke fortunately had been planning a retrospective in the Schnitzer museum on the UO campus next year. We have that to look forward to.

Two remarkable women from our philosophically diverse community will be remembered Saturday, Jan. 16, both starting at 2 pm. Peg Morton will be honored at the First United Methodist Church and Robin Jaqua at the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd. Better go early; both auditoriums are likely to be full. Morton fiercely devoted her life to peace and justice on many levels (see our cover story Jan. 7).

Two remarkable women from our philosophically diverse community will be remembered Saturday, Jan. 16, both starting at 2 pm. Peg Morton will be honored at the First United Methodist Church and Robin Jaqua at the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd. Better go early; both auditoriums are likely to be full. Morton fiercely devoted her life to peace and justice on many levels (see our cover story Jan. 7).

• Eyes nationwide have been focused on Harney County this week, but Eugene’s federal courthouse has some interesting ties to the band of armed protesters who have taken over a bird sanctuary in Eastern Oregon. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff began after ranchers Steve and Dwight Hammond were convicted and sentenced for arson on federal lands. The judge who sentenced them for less than the congressionally mandated minimums was Judge Michael Hogan here in Eugene’s federal courthouse.

It’s a dark and dastardly world out there so we’ve been cranking up the sunshine with some upbeat content in December. Our third annual “I Dream of Eugene” issue last week appears to be a big hit, and if you missed it due to the holidays, our office has extra copies. It’s great to see letters arriving in response to the funny, fanciful and thoughtful dreams we published for the Whiteaker, north Eugene, the city and Glenwood. We like dreams more than New Year’s resolutions. Dreams are visionary and visions have power.

• Longtime Quaker activist Peg Morton died Dec. 19 and we were honored to have some one-on-one time with her before she began the dry fast to end her life at the age of 85. In an early January issue, we will be examining her fascinating life, her personal struggles and her controversial death. We will include stories and images from our files and our two interviews, and we invite her family and friends to also contribute memories, photos and letters to the editor.

• Watch oregonlive.com and uomatters.com for updates on the French investigation into possible track scandals, including selection of wee Eugene as the site of the IAAF World Championships in track in 2021. The Oregonian has done a long investigative piece and the UO Foundation’s lawyers have sent Bill Harbaugh (uomatters) a warning letter for his references to the French investigation and the funding mechanisms by the state of Oregon and the Foundation. It’s a big deal.

• Our little Kesey Square has garnered the attention of the Wall Street Journal. National writer and Eugene native (now based in New York) Mary Pilon conducted interviews at the square the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 8, with Zane Kesey and company, as well as Ken Darling, a direct descendant of our city’s founding father Eugene Skinner. Both Kesey and Darling are opposed to putting a building on the square and would like to see it preserved and improved instead.

• It was disturbing to see that the Egan Warming Centers were not activated during the most frigid nights we’ve seen so far this season, and we’ve heard reports of frostbite cases among the homeless on Eugene streets. “We have exhausted our pool of willing and able volunteers and several host sites are not available,” organizers reported.

• The Seneca biomass incinerator is back in the news. EWEB President Steve Mital called the 2010 secret EWEB contract a “mistake” in his comments on the Register-Guard website last week. It seems Seneca locked in a long-term price for its electricity generation and now that energy costs have dropped, EWEB is losing money and you and I, the ratepayers, are subsidizing this wood-fired monstrosity. But the real cost in human health is more difficult to quantify.

• As news of the Islamic State’s attack on Paris began to trickle in on Nov. 13, we reacted with shock and horror — at least 129 killed, several hundred more injured and collateral damage to the thousands of Syrian refugees who are trying to flee the violence in their own country. In a whirlwind of collective stupidity, governors across the U.S. are taking a stand against Syrian refugees coming to their states. Under U.S. law, a governor can’t ban refugees, so many of those state leaders are simply taking a stand for political reasons. Gov.

Robin Jaqua died Nov. 8 at age 94, and women and children in this area and beyond lost a fierce and effective advocate. She was well known for her generosity to the Relief Nursery and many other great programs in the arts, athletics and more, but she was best known to a significant segment of Eugene and Springfield as the leader of Jungian analysts. After 25 years of raising her family of four, she earned her Ph.D. from the UO and then went on to Switzerland to the C.G. Jung Institute.

• The Eugene Public Library levy on the Nov. 3 ballot is getting a surprising amount of attention on both sides. What’s not to love about libraries? Well, a lot of folks who are grumpy about Eugene city government are thinking a “no” vote will send a message to city officials that reforms are necessary. Maybe so, and we talked about this last week, but we think we can have it both ways by supporting the library and demanding changes in city policies and practices. How do we support the library and other essential services in the General Fund?

• We’ve pondered the arguments for and against the Five-Year Library Local Option Levy on the Nov. 3 ballot and we appreciate the informed perspective of former city councilor Bonny Bettman McCornack — see her Viewpoint last week. We also have serious concerns about our city’s financial policies and practices, but all things considered, we are urging a “yes” vote on Ballot Measure 20-235. This is not the time to hold hostage the public library services that we have so heavily invested in over recent decades.

Was the Great Willamette Clean Up Oct. 3 just a short-lived fix in Eugene? Local river advocate John Brown sent a note to Mayor Kitty Piercy Oct.

• We’re all looking for answers after yet another terrible tragic shooting in our country, again in our state. Are Americans so gripped with fear that they turn to guns to protect them from everything? Have we become a mean-spirited people, putting too many people in prison, offering meager social services and diminished public education, shrinking our mental health programs, including school counseling? Do we glorify violence all the way from endless wars, games and entertainment, to amped-up cheap crime coverage in the media? Are the arms merchants selling us out?

It’s party time for the “kayaktivists,” some from Eugene, and “#ShellNo” protesters who delayed Royal Dutch Shell’s push into the Arctic from Seattle last summer, perhaps contributing to Shell’s decision Sept. 28 to indefinitely suspend drilling in that fragile region. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley also cheered, saying “This is tremendous news, and a credit to the many people who made clear that offshore Arctic drilling in unacceptable.” In July, Merkley introduced the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015.

• It’s hard to believe that this community, so dependent on education, has to poll, strategize, organize and work like crazy to pass a modest levy for libraries, but it’s happening, and the ballots go out Oct. 16. This levy would cost the typical homeowner $36 a year, and we realize that is more than some homeowners can spare. But it will add 22 hours per week to the Sheldon and Bethel libraries and restore Sunday morning hours to the main library downtown, plus other benefits to kids and education, and the restoration of materials and technology.