Outgoing Eugene City Councilor George Brown is not a politician; he’s a city government nerd, a bespectacled wonk. Not in the wide-eyed, soaked-in-sunny-positivity vein of Leslie Knope (of Parks and Recreation fame), but in a gruff, pragmatic, detail-oriented fashion.
After eight years on the council, the Wichita native (he’s lived in Eugene since 1970) has a basement-full of papers in his home from completed, bygone or stalled city projects. There’s a waist-high tower of documents pertaining to Civic Stadium alone, which he describes as “nostalgic” after the historic venue burned down.
Political leaders leave legacies — Eugene’s first woman mayor Ruth Bascom is remembered as the “bicycling mayor” after establishing bike and pedestrian paths around town during her tenure from 1993-96.
As now-former mayor Kitty Piercy winds down her stint from January 2005 to January 2017 as Eugene’s second-longest serving mayor, many have wondered what her legacy will be.
Christmas-Jesus: A religious message on a banner downtown has stirred controversy this holiday season, with more than 140 comments and replies blowing up a post on outgoing Mayor Kitty Piercy’s official Facebook page.
The sign in question reads, “CHRISTMAS Attend a Church of Your Choice” and “JESUS Celebrate His Birth.” Since the banner is stretched across the public street of 8th Avenue, some citizens argue that it’s in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
An immense old oak tree crushed Kaye Parsons’ garage roof during December’s record-breaking ice storm in Eugene that knocked out power to thousands.
Parsons can show you the enormous tilted stump of the tree, which also smashed through her wood fence on a hilly part of West 29th Avenue in the Friendly Street neighborhood. Piles of chopped branches from hundreds of fallen trees are stacked in many front yards of this venerable Eugene neighborhood.
• 350 Eugene is off and running in the New Year. On Monday, Jan. 9, from 4-5 pm, activists will meet at the Federal Courthouse, 405 E. 8th Avenue, to protest Trump’s climate denier cabinet nominees, 350 organizer Betzi Hitz says. And on Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 6-9 pm at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive, the Winter 350 Eugene Meetup will combine a potluck, campaign reports and strategies discussion. “This is the place and time to plug in,” Hitz says. On Friday, Jan. 13 from 6-9 pm also at 1376 Olive non-violent direct action training is offered.
A recent vote by the Lane County Board of Commissioners to fill Sen. Chris Edward’s seat in the Oregon State Legislature drew comment from the governor, the Democratic Party and, most vociferously, the gun lobby.
Before the Dec. 14 vote, the County Commission received several hundred emails from gun-rights activists weighing in against former state representative and Oregon secretary of state candidate Val Hoyle, who was the Democratic Party’s top pick.
Former Lane County Commissioner candidate Dawn Lesley recently reported a bias incident to the City of Eugene’s Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement office. A friend of Lesley’s came to her after seeing swastikas spray-painted on a Trump sign along I-5 in Lane County.
Barely two weeks after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, Oregon’s regular legislative session will begin Feb. 1.
Multiple bills being drafted aim to address civil rights, human rights and health care. And while some bills are also being designed to protect existing state laws, others are being proposed to fill in the gaps in federal laws and protections that could be affected by the Trump administration.
The first stop for many newly arrived Latino immigrants, many of whom don’t speak English, is Centro Latino Americano on 5th Avenue. This nonprofit describes itself as a safety net for the Latino community in our region, one that is even more necessary in light of President-elect Donald Trump denouncing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
The Electoral College confirmed Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States Dec. 19, but many of the millions who voted against him have not given up hope and they plan to rally in the streets the day after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) fined Eugene-based Apex Machinery, Inc. $6,095 on Dec.14 for Clean Water Act violations at its facility located at 100 Polk Street. DEQ fined Apex for failure to monitor for pH, oil & grease, suspended solids, copper, lead and zinc. DEQ noted that “the system that protects water quality in Oregon is highly dependent on permit registrants complying with the monitoring requirements of their permits,” and that failure to comply with these requirements is “considered to be among the most serious of violations.”
• At 7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 28, there will be a public meeting regarding The Future of Tsunami Books. The lease for Tsunami Books is up June 30, 2017, Scott Landfield of Tsunami says. Will it continue at its present location, will it be moved, or will it dissolve? The facts will be presented, followed by a facilitated question and answer, and discussion period. An as-yet unscheduled second meeting by invite will be held to deal with specific financial issues. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.
Years of deliberation, millions of tax dollars spent, and still nothing to show but a city block of gravel flats and an angry clutch of frustrated taxpayers: A sharply divided Eugene City Council agreed last week to pursue a costly plan (of as-of-yet dubious legal merit) to erect a shiny new City Hall building on a county-owned plot north of the Park Blocks downtown.
Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio wants to hold President-elect Donald Trump responsible for his “drain the swamp,” campaign promise, in which Trump said he would impose tougher lobbying restrictions as well as lifetime lobbying bans.
On the heels of the presidential inauguration, an event is coming that will allow community members to show solidarity and share their support for those who may be most affected by this transition of power.
“Weed is really amazing for a ton of people, but really dangerous for some,” Kristen Mort says. Her 18-year old son was hospitalized earlier this year for a condition called “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome” after she says he had writhing convulsions, excruciating abdominal pain and nonstop vomiting.
There were 21 reported car crashes on the morning of Dec. 8, mostly from drivers taking their morning commute along the Beltline or Delta Highways through Eugene. Early last February, a similar icy dawn on area roads caused 15 car crashes. As of Dec. 13, the National Weather Service predicts below-freezing temperatures for a span of several nights (Dec. 14 to 17), meaning drivers are again venturing out into black ice and Christmas lights.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued fines on Dec. 5 to food processing equipment manufacturer A & K Development Co. and to G & R Auto Wreckers, Inc. for Clean Water Act violations at Eugene facilities. DEQ fined A & K $6,427 for failure to monitor for copper and zinc at its facility at 410 Chambers Street, and fined G & R $10,106 for failure to monitor for pH at its Pick-A-Part facility at 90579 Highway 99 North.
• Brails on 5th has opened! After the venerable Keystone Café shut its doors in May 2015, Sang Joo (Joy) Knudtson of Brails Restaurant on Willamette stepped in. The new Brails is located at the former Keystone Café, 395 W. 5th Avenue, just on the edge of the Whiteaker.
After 21 years in business at its 2585 Willamette Street location, Tsunami Books is hoping it can hang on for another 20. But it’s going to take a bit of a Hail Mary, Tsunami proprietor Scott Landfield says.
People filled chairs, lined walls and sat on the floor for the duration of the special meeting of the city of Eugene Human Rights Commission (HRC) on Monday, Dec. 5. Professors, public school teachers, community members and activists were vocal in their concerns for undocumented people in their communities, classrooms and schools.
• Paul and Lisa Tostberg, owners of Corvallis’ Coffee Culture, have launched their roasting business as a standalone retail-wholesale brand in the greater Pacific Northwest, Holderness Coffee Roasters. The Tostberg’s have been in the industry since 1993, according to a press release, when they had a drive-thru coffee kiosk that also developed film. The Tostbergs say, “We had no way of knowing that coffee would be a successful enterprise, so we developed film as well!