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News Briefs

Since the day Brian Babb was shot by a member of the Eugene Police Department, the veteran’s family has questioned the events and policies that led to Babb’s death. 

However, Eugene’s police auditor Mark Gissiner says a flawed report by the Lane County Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT) means the family still doesn’t have closure, and indicates to Gissiner that the way deadly force investigations are handled in Lane County needs a number of improvements.

Downtown merchants in Eugene are getting a head start on the holidays with a number of events before Thanksgiving, including a tree-lighting ceremony and entertainment from 5:15 to 6:30 pm Friday, Nov. 20, on the east Park Blocks. Many downtown shops will remain open until 8 pm. 


About 1,400 wild horses are currently being gathered (aka rounded up) via helicopter from Oregon’s public lands in an area known as Beaty’s Butte on Oregon’s east side. Wild horse advocates are questioning the management of the area and what will ultimately happen to the mustangs once they have been removed from the range.

The Center for Public Integrity recently gave the state of Oregon a grade of “F” in its 2015 State Integrity Investigation, which is a “a comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency done in partnership with Global Integrity.” Oregon also received an “F” on the public access to information component of its overall integrity grade, which is consistent with the “F” given to Oregon by the National Freedom of Information Coalition for lack of transparency.

• Two local events dealing with sexual violence are planned. The first is “Learn, Listen, and Speak Out: A Community Response to Sexual Violence” from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Nov. 12, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1465 Coburg Road. Free. The second is a mental health conference, “Addressing Sexual Violence in Our Community: Roadmap to Prevention” from 8 am to 5 pm Friday, Nov. 13, at Valley River Inn, 1000 Valley River Way. Some scholarships available. Contact grace@ccceugene.org.

Last week was eventful for James Manning. As a candidate for Oregon state representative in House District 14, which covers West Eugene, Bethel and Junction City, he says he was excited to see the Eugene library levy pass, increasing hours of operation for the library in his home neighborhood of Bethel. 

As a Eugene Water and Electric Board commissioner, Manning says he spent a lot of time last week talking with people about the $10 fee increase proposed by EWEB that would have charged more to low-energy users and less to high-energy users. 

A reshuffling of the criteria for homelessness in Lane County has erased the eligibility of hundreds of people for the county’s central housing list, leaving many expectant homeless people on the list feeling crestfallen. 

However, the new county criteria also lifts some of the most urgent, life-threatening cases to the top of the list, to more quickly serve them. 

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is feeling the burn — of climate change. But maybe he’s feeling the Bern, too. Merkley teamed up with presidential candidate and fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders on Nov. 4 to introduce new climate change legislation. The “Keep It In the Ground Act” would end all new federal leases for oil, gas or coal extraction on public lands and waters. 

It’s halfway though fall term and Michael Schill has been UO president since July 1. He’s five months into his term as the fifth president (counting interim leaders, too) in five years, something that has led the Chronicle of Higher Education to call the Ducks’ leadership position a “revolving door.”

Schill met with members of EW’s editorial board Oct. 30 to talk about some of the UO’s current occupations.

Charles Ogletree has a vision for the Black Lives Matter movement, the youth of our country and even a vision for how to change the conditions of generational poverty featured on HBO’s The Wire. Ogletree, an activist and prominent Harvard law professor, will visit Eugene on Nov. 12 to give speeches on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. 36 and 99 were recently sprayed.

• Coos Bay Rail Link planned to begin spraying the rail line from Coos Bay to Eugene beginning Oct. 23. Call the office manager at 266-7245 for more information. 

“Right now at this moment a coyote is strangling in a neck snare or a wolf is struggling in a leghold trap,” says Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense and one of the nonprofit’s founders. The predator advocacy group is celebrating 25 years of work to protect coyotes, wolves, cougars and other predators on Nov. 5 with movies and a Q&A at the Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Avenue.

Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call 1-888-996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5, 36, 58 and 99 were recently sprayed. Most of Highway 36 was sprayed Oct. 20 and the area near Triangle Lake School was sprayed Oct. 23 when classes were not in session. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently fined Central Point-based LTM, Incorporated (doing business as Knife River Materials) $159,144 for polluting a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Coquille River with sediment; grading and stockpiling earthen material without a Clean Water Act permit; and placing wastes where they are likely to escape into waters of the state. LTM/Knife River’s violations stem from an excavation project on Oregon State Hwy. 42 under a contract with Oregon Department of Transportation.

A landslide of citizen protests led the Eugene City Council to vote to postpone a proposed plan to rezone major portions of the South Willamette neighborhood. Those citizens, the South Willamette Neighbors, have united in a badge-wearing, yard-sign bearing movement against the plan, saying the rezoning could ruin the “single-family home” feel of their 20-minute neighborhood. 

Knowing a little science doesn’t hurt when you’re going into politics, says Julie Fahey, a human resources consultant who is running for Oregon state representative in House District 14, a position currently held by Val Hoyle. Fahey has a degree in chemistry, and she says having a background in math and science provides a good framework for politics. 

Two high school seniors from Eugene and Springfield have formed a coalition called the Willamette Valley Student Union, a group of high school students seeking to implement change in education, starting with standardized testing. 

Emmy Lindsey, a senior from South Eugene High School, says the idea for the union formed last school year with the roll out of Smarter Balanced, a standardized test students took for the first time this April. Around 11 percent of students in Eugene School District 4J did not take the test.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27, on an application from Fern Ridge School District for Clean Water Act permitting of discharges of construction-related stormwater pollution at Elmira Elementary School. Visit goo.gl/Yp4iAK for info on commenting.

The clock may be ticking for the unique bit of open space in Eugene’s downtown that is Kesey Square. But Ali Emami, owner of the two buildings that have common walls with the plaza, says that when he heard rumors the public space might be sold and developed into apartments, he came before the Eugene City Council last week to again renew his offer to open up the walls of the buildings and make the space more inviting.

Civilian oversight of the police tends to be reactive not proactive, says Mark Gissiner, Eugene’s civilian police auditor. Yet a recent $755,000 jury verdict in the “Bowl of Dicks” retaliation case against the University of Oregon’s police department has not prompted change in the UO’s police oversight.

For the first time since 2003, Eugene School District 4J has increased its year-to-year enrollment, according to school officials. With an additional 217 students this year over last year, it’s the largest increase since 1996, says Kerry Delf, 4J associate director for communications.

4J Superintendent Gustavo Balderas says the increase is partly due to the onset of full-day kindergarten, which started districtwide for the first time this year. Some new students are also transfers, he says.

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed. Hwy. 36 will be sprayed soon. 

• Weyerhaeuser Company, 746-2511, plans to aerially spread urea fertilizer pellets on 1,877 acres south of the McKenzie River near Ritchie Creek, Haagen Creek and other tributaries. See ODF notification 2015-771-13224, call Brian Dally at 726-3588 with questions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently visited Bright Oak Meat Company’s Marcola Road facility in response to a complaint of “a strong and pervasive odor” originating from the facility. Odor no longer appeared to be an issue by the time of DEQ’s visit, and the company attributed the problem to animal viscera not having been transported off-site by a waste hauler. DEQ asked to see waste and wastewater monitoring records during its visit and discovered that Bright Oak was not conducting required monitoring, in violation of Oregon law.