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It’s election time again and the state and local Voters’ Pamphlets are a hefty quarter of an inch thick. It’s all fascinating reading (especially between the lines), reflecting the brilliance and dimness of current political thought and our messy experiment with representative government, aka democracy. Every voter should read it, along with absorbing all the propaganda in print and on the web, in the broadcast media, around the kitchen table and at the water cooler.

Ballots go in the mail starting Friday, Oct. 19, and our election issue, including endorsements, will be next week, Oct. 18. We’ll have more election stories right up to Nov. 2, our last issue before the Nov. 6 election. Haven’t registered to vote, or moved since you last voted? Better hurry. The deadline is next Tuesday, Oct. 16, and it’s easy to do online at oregonvotes.org or down at Lane County Elections, 275 W. 10th Ave., in Eugene. Call 682-4234.

The fate of the West Eugene EmX extension is pending as we go to press this week, and we hope a majority on the Eugene City Council recognize the long-term benefits of efficient rapid transit throughout the metro area. We heard Councilor George Poling was planning a motion at the Sept. 26 meeting that the EmX extension be sent back to LTD with a call for a public vote. This proposal flies in the face of comprehensive transportation planning. Decisions such as extending EmX involve many thousands of hours of research and analysis by experts in the field.

• Lots of chatter out there about Gov. Kitzhaber’s continuing meetings with business, labor and other state leaders about restructuring Oregon taxes. Current projection is that a proposal won’t be ready for the 2013 session of the Legislature. Will we all live long enough to see a “reasonable” proposal pass? That’s the governor’s goal. In all the talk about small business, big business, etc., we want to interject the theme that a state’s strongest draw for economic success is an excellent education system. Oregon’s current tax system is seriously hampering public education.

• We’re pleased to finally see a pro-EmX group coming together in Better Eugene-Springfield Transit (BEST). The nonprofit will soon have a website and Facebook page, and we see a broad spectrum of noted community leaders on the board of directors. BEST will be lobbying undecided Eugene city councilors in advance of the council’s upcoming key vote on the West Eugene EmX Expansion and will be supporting local mass transit well into the future.

• Commentary from our Duck Desk: Duck fans saw two blowouts last Saturday: The Ducks won the first half 50-10, but got whipped by Arkansas State in the second half 24-7. That may be bad news for Duck fans hoping for a national championship. Championship teams have enough depth and competitive fire to make sure teams like Arkansas State don’t thump them, even for a half. With Fresno State coming to town next, we better hope the Ducks get better fast. And we like the terrific new yellow and green uniforms. We’re waiting for rhinestones.

• Another great Eugene Celebration is behind us and the band Volifonix was judged the winner of our Next Big Thing music contest on the KRVM/Eugene Weekly Stage Saturday afternoon. Members of Volifonix are Tomo “The Samurai” Tsurumi, Blake Forbess, Joe McClain, Trevor Forbess and Elijah Median. Judges also liked finalist Paul Quillen, and we’re talking about having a singer-songwriter category next year. It’s hard to compare a singer with a guitar to a full-blown band. Volifonix and some other finalists will perform at our Best of Eugene Awards Show Oct.

• The Eugene Celebration Parade begins at 10 am this Saturday at South Eugene High School, heading up High Street. Good places to watch are along High and Pearl between 11th and 18th. Expect abundant political entries this year. Rep. Peter DeFazio traditionally shows up with his wheelbarrow and shovel to scoop up the virtual horse crap. Will Pete’s November opponent Art Robinson be in the parade tossing “healthy” radioactive dust from his float? Probably not, but joining DeFazio this year will be state Sen.

Vote! Vote! Vote! It’s time to start practicing being an involved citizen as the November election looms closer. EW is happy to provide some fun voting practice with our happy, happy, joy, joy, unicorns-and-rainbows-themed Best of Eugene balloting getting underway. Vote on the paper ballot (feel free to decorate with sparkles and colors) in this week’s and future issues or online at bestofeugene.com by October 1.

Claire Syrett has announced her candidacy for the Ward 7 Eugene City Council seat following the decision by Andrea Ortiz to pull her name from the ballot. We can’t imagine a stronger, more qualified and more energetic candidate, but there’s still time for others to join this last-minute race. Syrett has been a solid member on the Eugene Budget Committee, the Lane County Human Services Commission, Sustainability Commission, the Airport Advisory Board and other panels.

Who will replace Andrea Ortiz on the ballot for the Eugene City Council in November? She announced this week that she will not seek re-election, citing a timing conflict with her new evening job. Ward 7 includes the Whiteaker neighborhood, northern downtown and a patchwork of city land north out River Road. The ward is nearly 12 percent Latino, about the same as Chris Pryor’s Ward 8 to the west. It’s important to have someone who understands the critical environmental, land use and social issues of the ward. Michael Carrigan’s name has been mentioned.

How will Councilor Betty Taylor vote when the West Eugene EmX Extension comes before the Eugene City Council this fall? We broke the news on our blog July 3 that Juan Carlos Valle, her opponent on the November ballot, has come out in favor of extending EmX, and we reported that Taylor was rumored to be leaning toward support as well. EW had asked both candidates to tell us where they stand on the issue.

• At least 50 Eugeneans, young and old, showed up at the downtown library July 16 to hear the “Coal Hard Truth” about more than 1-mile long coal trains shedding dust and diesel fumes that might be making their way through Eugene if Coos Bay succeeds in becoming a coal export terminal. The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution against coal trains, Missoula, Mont., has asked for an environmental assessment as did Vancouver, Wash., and where’s Eugene on this?

• We hear from Oregon ACLU Executive Director Dave Fidanque that contrary to what we printed in this column June 28, the ACLU offices in Eugene will not be closing in September.

• 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).