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• A short poem by Mary Oliver in the memorial program spoke best to the death of Erin Noble, 27, the only child of Deborah and Peter Noble, in a life-affirming service attended by more than 400 mostly young people July 1 at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. Erin, a 2003 graduate of South Eugene High School, died with three other Oregon Country Fair family volunteers in the crash of a small airplane near the fair grounds. Oliver’s poem:


To live in this world

You must be able

To do three things:

To love what is mortal:

• Lane County Commissioners voted on a tight and ugly budget on June 25. The vote, like so many of the board’s votes these days, was 3-2 with the conservative majority for it and the liberal minority against it. Commissioner Jay Bozievich trotted out the same-old same-old about wanting to cut more trees on public lands. We’d ask him about that tired old anti-environmental stance, but he’s told us he’ll only talk to EW if we file a public records request. But the county policy recently has been to charge even for researching a public records request.

• Will Lane County’s “butterfly” parking lot downtown across from the county courthouse become a site for an expanded year-round Farmers Market? UO landscape architecture professor Ron Lovinger and his students offered compelling proposals this week to the County Commission, and we hope all sides are amenable to some creative arrangement. Deed restrictions from city founder Eugene Skinner and his wife, Mary, make it near impossible to sell the property, and the county uses the half-block for court parking.

Tough economic times fuel anti-government sentiment. Under stress, we tend to look for simple solutions to complex problems. Vote “no” on any new taxes for public safety and start packing a handgun; that appears to be the dominant attitude in Josephine and some other counties that have grown dependent on O&C timber revenues for decades. Seven of those counties, including Lane, are in crisis, cutting even essential county services.

• The band Garden Goat has gone unplugged, thanks to some help from local law enforcement officials who confiscated the group’s instruments last week. We can only conclude that the Eugene police are strong advocates for acoustic music, given their response to a noise complaint at The Venue on 14th and Willamette that resulted in the seizure of Garden Goat’s instruments and gear. EPD doesn’t seem to be giving the stuff back, either, despite pleas from the band members.

EWEB, our public utility, and the people who work for it historically have made us proud. Now we wonder what’s going on with EWEB. Why doesn’t management embrace the existing fine headquarters appropriately on the banks of the Willamette? It’s close to the city center, easy for staff and citizens to come and go. Why the constant discussion about moving over to the Chambers area on the west side, probably to a new building? Why speculate with $2.5 million of the reserve fund on a vacant factory in the west side? 

 

• Commissioner Rob Handy’s defeat at the ballot box this week is due to factors that have gotten little or no attention in the other media. Gerrymandering made the North Eugene district more conservative, favoring Pat Farr, but an even bigger impact was from the blatantly deceptive, even libelous push-polling and mailing done by Farr’s industry-funded PAC on his behalf. Farr is claiming to have run a clean campaign based on his background and experience, but in fact this was the dirtiest and most negative campaign we’ve seen in years.

If you haven’t already voted, chances are that ballot is still hanging out on your kitchen table or by the door, feeling neglected. It’s not a big ballot with a string of confusing measures — that comes in November. This ballot will only take a few minutes, but primaries are important in Oregon because in nonpartisan races, such as County Commission, City Council and EWEB, candidates getting more than 50 percent of the vote go on unopposed to the general election. The same holds true in the Oregon AG race since both candidates are Democrats. 

Our endorsements issue will be next week, May 3, for the May 15 primary, and we’ll have stories on some of the big races, including the most recent developments, and we plan to have room for more of your election letters next week. Hang on to those ballots that should be arriving in the mail soon. 


County Commission candidates Rob Handy, Pat Farr and Nadia Sindi drew a small crowd for an evening City Club forum April 12, with Handy and Farr getting a little testy with each other while Sindi was looking queasy. She was suffering from food poisoning and was probably wishing to be anywhere else. Hopefully she will be recovered for the next two forums (see Activist Alert). 

Waldo Lake’s quiet wilderness ambiance got a reprieve Tuesday night in Springfield with a 3-2 decision by the Oregon State Marine Board to maintain the long-fought ban on gas-powered motor boats and float planes. The fight is not over as a lawsuit continues in the Oregon Court of Appeals, but this is good news and shows that the voice of the people can sway sometimes intransigent agencies to do the right thing. It might take the Legislature to put an end to the legal squabbles.

Strong turnout for the rally downtown Monday calling for justice in the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida. The message was clear that racial profiling persists in our culture, and even wearing a hooded sweatshirt can make you a target. Local activists used the rally and march to point out that Eugene’s black population was segregated, not so long ago, in a ghetto along the river. On a side note, we’ve heard complaints about an EPD crime prevention public service ad on local TV recently that had an actor in a hoodie portraying a criminal. Ouch!

• The recent independent survey on West Eugene EmX shows residents are split in their overall opinion of the extension. No surprise there. But if you break down the questionnaire, you see some basic values showing up that LTD should find encouraging, and those values should get the attention of city councilors who are still on the fence about extending EmX.

We have ranted for years about better connecting the UO and downtown, about encouraging infill rather than pushing out the urban growth boundary (UGB), about education being Eugene and Springfield’s premier industry. So, moment of truth: In spite of objections, mostly from the left, we still support the Capstone project, high-end housing for as many as 1,200 students on the old Eugene Hospital and Clinic site on Willamette Street. Lots of valid issues are bubbling up. Too big? Bad design? Too much parking? Too far from campus? Adequate staffing to oversee student behavior?

• Big question marks and plenty of politics are ahead for the judiciary in Eugene. Presiding Judge Mary Ann Bearden announced March 6 that she’s resigning effective April 1 after 14 years in the Lane County Circuit Court. That means Gov. Kitzhaber will pick a new circuit judge right away and the powerful presiding position will change this spring. Over at the U.S. Courthouse, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan is going on senior status, to be succeeded by one of five nominees from Sens. Wyden and Merkley.

• It’s time to stop this odd connection between the exclusion zone and the shortage of jail beds. Deciding between safety and the Fourth Amendment is a false choice. The council vote this week to extend the Downtown Public Safety Zone (aka exclusion zone) until November isn’t as bad as it could have been, but seven more months of an unconstitutional lack of due process is four years too long. Kudos to Councilors Betty Taylor and Mike Clark for their no votes. 

• What’s up with the R-G’s beef with Commissioner Pete Sorenson? The daily is filling its pages with unrelenting spin trying to sway the public into thinking Lane County’s green and liberal commissioner is somehow both a political mastermind and utterly incompetent. To read the Feb. 18 R-G article about the Democratic Party of Lane County (DPLC) endorsements, you would think Sorenson engineered the whole event just to get a nod from the Dems. And you’d think the reporter who wrote it actually showed up to the event he was writing about. Apparently not. 

• We’re sad to hear of the passing of Svitlana Kravchenko, the much-lauded director of the UO’s masters program in environmental and natural resources law. She died Feb. 10 in Eugene at the too-young age of 62. She was known worldwide for her strong advocacy for reforming public policy on environmental matters. She traveled and lectured in dozens of countries and authored 12 books and hundreds of academic articles.

Great to watch the Ducks do their thing at the Rose Bowl game that left a lot of us without fingernails. One of the most entertaining moments was the fourth-quarter fumble recovery by Duck Michael Clay right in front of Chip Kelly on the sidelines. The excited coach was bouncing up and down like a Jack Russell terrier. The guy’s got legs. Congrats to the whole team for a memorable season.