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News Briefs

If you want to enjoy an inordinate amount of wildflower-frenzy this weekend, Mount Pisgah is the place to be for the Wildflower Festival Sunday, May 20. Not only can you look forward to a languishing in a splendor of earth-borne colors in peak petal form, you may also wish to wander the native plants sale or sniff out the food vendors while taking in a different bands’ set-list at the top of every hour starting from 10 am and ending with marimba beats at 4 pm. Parking will be free but a $5 donation from those over 12 will be asked at the entry. 

GMO-Free Oregon wants you to know the dangers of genetically modified crops pose to the food supply and to local farms. The group is launching local and state efforts to stop GMOs from contaminating organic crops and making their way further into the foods Oregonians eat.

On May 30 Oregon Right to Know will present  “What You Need to Know about GMOs in your Food and Farms” at the UO. Oregon Right to Know is a 2012 ballot initiative for labeling GMO foods.

The UO’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) will be continuing next fall with follow-up work on various projects under way in Springfield, Salem and possibly Gresham. The combination will fund the program for another year, says Robert Liberty, executive director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative that oversees the SCYP. This will be the first year the program has not had a single city focus.

Homeowners lose their dwellings when banks foreclose on them through shady practices, but groups studying Oregon foreclosures say local governments — and the services they provide — are losing out, too. 

North Eugene Commissioner Rob Handy is suing opponent Pat Farr. He alleges Farr is sending out false statements to voters and using false statements in his polls through the Lindholm Company.

 A colorful mailer that recently landed in voters’ mailboxes courtesy of a PAC supporting Farr’s bid for the seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners accuses Handy of everything from being “named in a sexual discrimination lawsuit that cost taxpayers $244,000 dollars” to costing the county $1 million.

About six horses with chunks of their coats missing and protruding ribs were surrendered by their Springfield owner to neighbors after repeated complaints were filed against her to Lane County Animal Services (LCAS). LCAS and the Lane County Sheriffs Office are facing county budget cuts, and local equines might be falling through the cracks.

The complaints of alleged neglect by Rose Buckholtz have been an ongoing ordeal, according to LCAS Supervisor Rick Hammel. 

Here are our selected picks for the May 15 primary. We have not included uncontested races. See our endorsement write-ups and stories last week for more information. Ballots can be mailed in by May 10 or dropped off at white ballot boxes around town up until 8 pm Tuesday, May 15.

U.S. House of Representatives

Peter DeFazio (D)

Oregon Secretary of State 

Kate Brown (D)

Oregon Attorney General 

Dwight Holton (D)

The controversial Goose Project might have its day in court. Local environmental groups Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands are suing to stop the timber sale, charging that the Forest Service failed to properly analyze the impact of 2,100 acres of logging to areas around waterways and endangered species habitat. The dispute centers on a 17,421-acre project area around McKenzie Bridge. The Western Environmental Law Center filed suit on behalf of the conservation groups.

A delegation of nine city officials will visit Eugene from Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13-17. The problems of Kathmandu are “a microcosmic view of what the entire planet is going to be facing before we know it,” says Dennis Ramsey, president of Eugene’s Kathmandu Sister City Association.

The visiting delegation will include the mayor of Kathmandu, its city planner and the director of Kathmandu’s environmental program. A photo exhibit featuring Kathmandu at New Zone Gallery on Monday, May 14, is also part of the visit. 

The race for the North Eugene seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners has become a brawl, with revelations of drunk driving and allegations of wrongdoing flying right and left.

An “emergency meeting” last week, attended only by the commission’s conservative majority and County Administrator Liane Richardson, resulted in a swift vote to release to the media information related to allegations against incumbent Commissioner Rob Handy. Handy calls the allegations a “smear tactic.”

Lost Creek Rock Products has begun blasting at Parvin Butte, and neighbors say the noise is frightening people and their pets. The once-wooded land has been logged and the butte, which gives a scenic backdrop to boaters on the nearby Dexter Lake reservoir, is slated to be razed. 

Neighbor Pete Helzer tells of a neighbor’s dog that was so scared by the blasting noise that it ran through two fences before it could be stopped. He says destroying the butte harms not only the rural community but its history, as well as the water and environment.

In Eugene’s rainy spring, Save Civic is an umbrella — for two smaller Civic groups, that is. The movement to save the old wooden stadium, formerly home of the Ems, has refined itself into Friends of Civic Stadium, centered on historic preservation, and Civic Stadium Sports and Entertainment, focused on business and future activities.

Timber barons can speculate on trees, land barons can speculate on selling properties but the West is not supposed to have water barons. It’s illegal under Western water law to speculate on water. An Oregon administrative law judge has ruled a private company would be speculating on the waters of the McKenzie River if granted its application for 22 million gallons of water a day out of the river. 

On April 27, the judge recommended to Oregon’s Water Resources Department that Willamette Water Company’s water right application be denied. 

Ted Taylor

 et al.

County Commission candidate Pat Farr, running against incumbent Commissioner Rob Handy, has raised about $91,000 so far, averaging $1,000 per donation. Lindholm Company, a consulting and polling firm where Farr worked until taking a leave, has donated a total of $4,060 in cash and in-kind services. Wildish Sand and Gravel Co. donated $5,000, followed by $3,000 from Delta Sand and Gravel and $2,500 from Hamilton Construction in Springfield. Also donating $2,500 each were Rosboro Lumber, Murphy Hardwood Plywood Division and John R. Murphy.

As the City Council’s vote on the 10-year Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) for the proposed 1,200-student Capstone project nears, Eugeneans are piping up about potential impacts on the livability of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. 

It was Kids Day, a part of Occupy the Trees, a weeklong Earth Day-oriented celebration. But the April 25 children’s event ended dramatically with two mothers pepper sprayed by Eugene police and children crying, according to attorney Lauren Regan. 

Kids Day consisted of a kids’ march and a scavenger hunt for nature items, as well as speeches from children about the environment, according to a press release from Occupy Eugene. 

The Oregon attorney general primary race between Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum is fraught with complexity and nuance, but for some medical marijuana advocates, the race has boiled down to who’s better on pot.

“Dwight’s Not Right” reads the headline on a press release from Robert Wolfe of Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement (CSLE), which is sponsoring Initiative Petition 24, which would legalize marijuana for personal use. If the initiative is approved, a ballot measure will go before voters in November.   

The all-volunteer Cascade Medical Team, a veteran of 11 years of operating primary care clinics in Guatemala, will again be providing a similar mission in Lane County. This weekend, six doctors from the CMT and the community will provide free medical services to people without insurance or access to affordable health care. Individuals and families are welcome and no proof of residency or other documentation will be required. 

After EW commented on Lane County Commission candidate Andy Stahl’s connection to Cato Institute Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole in an April 5 Slant column, the fur began to fly. Letters to the editor, online comments and even tweets chided EW for “smearing” Stahl with the connection to O’Toole and Cato.

The trees are being Occupied. In downtown Eugene and out in the Goose Timber Sale, near the town of McKenzie Bridge, activists are “occupying the trees” as part of a “worldwide environmental protest against corporate and personal greed,” spurred by Occupy Eugene and the Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD). 

Activists gathered at the Eugene downtown post office on Tax Day, April 17, “to challenge militarism and corporate greed and to call for the re-ordering of federal spending and tax priorities from supporting war and Wall St. to meeting human and environmental needs,” according to Michael Carrigan of CALC. 

Eugene’s 32rd Take Back the Night (TBTN)/ Recobrar la Noche may be unusually quiet this year due to the mandatory reporting policy implemented by UO last fall. The new guidelines state that all university workers are required to report cases of sexual assault reported to them to the Department of Public Safety, with or without the consent of the survivor. 

Bus tours generally take you fun places; they take you sightseeing. But a recent bus tour took Lane County participants on a trip into environmental justice — or the lack of it. Small houses cringed in front of smokestack plumes and neighborhood residents told of days the smell of chemicals have them hiding in their houses, their children stricken with asthma attacks. This isn’t happening in some big dirty city in some other state. It’s in west Eugene.

As the May primary lurks closer and closer, campaign money and endorsements are piling up in the county commissioner race for South Eugene. The Pete Sorenson vs. Andy Stahl contest seems a bit of a liberal against liberal, green against green match-up, but race-watchers say it’s more clearcut than that.