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• The Eugene Budget Committee began a series of public outreach meetings this week, and we weren’t satisfied with the overly broad and simplistic exercise the city provided the audience. Most attendees wanted better information, clearer details and a more creative discussion. A city staffer says the city planned to repeat the exercise at the rest of its public outreach meetings, but changes are possible. Following the exercise, the audience moved to a more in-depth discussion.

• Eugene’s Finance Investigative Team (FIT) is a new addition to the city budget process, adding a group of invited community members to join some Budget Committee members to talk about how to balance the FY 2015 budget. The meetings are supposedly open to the public, but they have been held in a third-floor room of the Eugene Public Library that does not have public access, and no public notice was given. Is this a violation of Oregon’s Open Meetings Law?

• Lane County released the redacted investigation into Liane Richardson last week, and you can find the whole thing, for what it’s worth, on our blog. We appreciate that the county seems pretty pissed about what went on — the press release says several times that Richardson was “untruthful.” But what we don’t appreciate are the pages and pages of redactions — 30 or so pages are blacked out.

• EWEB will be looking at smart meters at its next board meeting at 5:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 1, and the topic is likely to draw a large and vociferous crowd. It’s on the agenda as “AMI Project” for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. We hear three options are being considered: shelving AMI, continuing existing plans to do pilot programs over the next three years with the idea of deploying the meters later or doing an opt-in approach based on customer demand.

Winter is approaching and the homeless among us are in increasing danger. The city of Eugene has spent millions over the years on programs to assist the homeless, the City Council has wrestled with many less-than-perfect proposals, local churches and nonprofits have struggled to provide life-saving services and facilities, human rights activists have protested and been arrested. It’s not enough. Thousands in our community still have no warm place to sleep, no place to prepare meals, no place to try to rebuild their lives.

Lane County Commissioners behaving badly: Pat Farr has been sniping at fellow Commissioner Pete Sorenson on his ForumLane.org blog, calling Sorenson “high atop his self-built pedestal” for his stand on Free Speech Plaza and the homeless. Add to that Jay Bozievich’s snarktastic comments about Sorenson, city officials and local environmental groups in emails and on his Facebook page and the right-leaning side of the County Commission is looking like kids fighting in a social-media sandbox. We’re tired of the mess at the county.

Lane County is a shit storm lately — both with accusations of bowel movements being flung about as protesters continue to occupy the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and with allegations of lying being flung by and at county officials. Jean Stacey of SLEEPS has filed a bar complaint against Liane Richardson and Stephen Dingle in connection to their recent poo testimony (see news briefs) and Commissioner Jay Bozievich created a stir when he used his Facebook page to accuse homeless advocate Alley Valkyrie and SLEEPS of lying.

• The Eugene Celebration showed off a revitalized downtown this year, and we heard lots of positive comments from people walking along Broadway who hadn’t been to our city center for a while. In between dancing, snacking and socializing, we also heard some grumbles about the LCC Downtown Center’s interior courtyard walled off from easy public access (“It could have been a mini-park,” said one observer) and we heard lots of complaints about the nearby concrete parking garage wall on the Capstone project along Olive.

The biggest, wildest weekend of the year is about to hit with the Eugene Celebration starting at 5 pm Friday, the big parade Saturday morning, all the activities and music downtown and more. Our Next Big Thing music contest finalists will perform for the judges at 1 pm Saturday at the Eugene Weekly/KRVM Broadway Stage. The Eugene Women’s Half Marathon will be Sunday, along with the ever-popular Pet Parade.

Phil Knight and Nike are hot topics following revelations about the absurd opulence of the new football facilities at UO. Letters are pouring in to local papers, but we don’t hear much about where Knight’s billions came from. Nike’s business model is quite simple, and Uncle Phil has been brilliant at monetizing it: Contract with factories in the poorest parts of Southeast Asia to manufacture high-end shoes and other apparel and threaten or cajole governments to allow those factories to pay workers less than minimum wages.

•  About the UO’s new football temple: To quote a young woman who worked with the serving crew for the celebratory dinners opening, “It’s disgusting.” We have neither space nor time to properly expand on her observation, but here are a couple of important questions for our public university:

Police Chief Pete Kerns has likely sprouted a few new gray hairs from the recent sexual harassment and abuse conviction of officer Stefan Zeltvay and, not long ago, a scandal involving gross mismanagement of EPD’s evidence lockers. Kerns has been proactive in damage control in both cases, much more so than any of his predecessors in the chief job. But we are left wondering what other bad behavior has been going on for years in the cop shop?

• Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson has gotten herself into more than just a public relations pickle this time with a self-serving financial maneuver that appears to be a violation of her contract and the public trust. It’s best that she repay any excess remuneration, if so determined by an investigation, if there is one, and resign if she’s not fired. She’s probably a decent lawyer in the private sector; she’s just not a competent administrator in the high-profile public sector.

• Those of us who are skeptical of biomass burning plants such as Seneca’s wood incinerator in west Eugene can celebrate, just a little, even as Seneca applies for a permit from LRAPA to emit a couple tons more of particulate matter. A U.S.

• On July 17 LRAPA is holding an informational meeting about Seneca Sustainable Energy biomass plant’s permit application to emit tons more particulate matter into west Eugene air. That’s more small particles that kids breathe into their lungs and more pollution into our airshed. Buying carbon credits  Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs or offsets) for PM10 from International Paper in Springfield doesn’t help the two elementary schools that are within two miles of the biomass burning. Go to the meeting; find out more.

• Eugene’s City Council will vote Monday, July 8, on suspending the enforcement of a 5-cent charge for paper bags. To change the ordinance before people have a chance to adapt is ludicrous. Without the incentive, people who don’t care about the consequences of their own actions on the planet and our descendants won’t change their behavior.

• The Incredible Shrinking Oregonian in Portland is cutting home delivery to four days a week, moving from its iconic building, letting more than 90 people go from all floors and levels, already advertising for cheaper, less experienced staff, becoming a “truly digitally focused media company,” as Publisher N. Christian Anderson III puts it in an op-ed piece. The paper will continue to print seven days a week, but parent company Advance Publications Inc. of New Jersey has cut back print days in other cities, often with bad results.

• Props to the three city councilors who objected to the rushed vote on the Core Campus tax exemption (see News this week). Councilors George Brown, Betty Taylor and Alan Zelenka held their own in the debate. The majority of councilors seem to doubt Eugene’s ability to attract less extravagant housing projects — ones that could be built without a multi-million dollar tax break. Didn’t Eugeneans just vote down a city fee measure, based in part on their objections to such tax breaks?

Envision Eugene, the community process that gathered public input on how Eugene should grow over the next 20 years, won a planning award from the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association May 30. That’s great but we’ve been skeptical about this process that has gobbled up thousands of hours and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the past, citizen-involved plans have gathered dust on shelves while developers do whatever they want.

• Eugene’s Budget Committee has advised the City Council to adopt a plan that will use various reserves and anticipated PERS savings to prevent cuts to services for a year in spite of a projected $5.3 million budget gap. Now it’s time to focus on the future. Interesting concepts emerged from budget discussions — the need for an independent performance auditor to examine city finances, questioning what services the city should be providing and how we finance big capital projects like rebuilding City Hall.

• The debate over the city services fee has generated a renewed awareness and interest in how our fair city is managed, and that’s a good thing. Letters to the editor this week offer suggestions on how budget priorities can be adjusted. Our city Budget Committee members are getting public input and have ideas on how funds can be reallocated.

No big surprise in the defeat of the Eugene city services fee on this week’s ballot. What are the lessons to be learned here? For starters, the opinion polling that encouraged this measure did not include any of the objections that were easily anticipated.

It’s almost too late to mail those ballots buried among the bills on your kitchen table, but white ballot boxes can be found around town. Democracy relies on an informed public, and if you’re reading this you are probably more informed than most of your neighbors, so flaunt that knowledge and put it to work for a noble cause!

How could this happen? Four prominent Eugene progressives standing at the City Club podium May 3 arguing about Ballot Measure 20-211, the Eugene city services fee. Alan Zelenka and Steve Johnson support it, Bonny Bettman McCornack and George Brown oppose it. Five of eight city councilors oppose it. Conservatives must be chuckling. We wonder how City Manager Jon Ruiz, his staff and Mayor Kitty Piercy put out this seriously flawed measure.