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EW! A Blog.

March 10, 2009 07:51 AM

News of a whale washing up on the beach at Devil's Elbow has given the media an excuse to talk about video of ODOT mistakenly blowing up a previous whale. So...here's the old video, seen 1.3 million times on YouTube:

Now, if only the brilliant engineers at ODOT could learn from their other stinking mistakes and take a new approach to global warming.

March 9, 2009 06:29 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously to consider delaying the imposition of pending street assessments to look for a fairer way to finance the projects.

March 9, 2009 05:39 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously to send the recommendations of a subcommittee on the Police Auditor to a public hearing.

March 9, 2009 05:01 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 6-1 tonight to give WG development another six months to commit to a project to fill the pit across from the downtown library with a office and retail project.

The council rejected a recommendation by City Manager Jon Ruiz to instead pursue a student housing project proposed for the site by Opus development.

March 6, 2009 04:31 PM

Eugene Police say they cited three adults and four juveniles for drug possession and/or sales at Sheldon High School today.

Police cited Matthew Pankey, 24, Christopher Pankey, 21, and Daniel Grossman, 23, for alleged possession and or delivery of marijuana, meth, and/or cocaine, according to an EPD press release. The police alleged they found less than 40 grams of the drugs in their vehicle. Police took Matthew Pankey to jail and cited and released the other two.

Police also cited a 15-year-old for alleged possession and delivery of marijuana and cited three Sheldon students for purchasing pot.

According to police, the 15-year old alleged he had been asked to sell pot by Matthew Pankey. When Pankey showed up at Ron’s Grill across from the high school during the lunch hour, the juvenile believed he was there to collect money from the pot sales and called his mother, according to police. The mother arrived and she and the three adults got into a dispute, according to EPD. Someone called the police, and they responded.

March 6, 2009 06:03 PM

While students at the UO Emerald appear to have ended their strike and are working on resolving differences with the board, the newspaper, like many today, still faces big financial hurdles.

That’s clear from a look at the non-profit paper’s tax forms, which are public documents by law. The most recent return available, for the year ending June 30, 2007, shows:

  • The Emerald had $917,231 in revenue on $965,142 in expenses for a deficit of $47,911 (p. 1). A tax return from two years earlier (2005) shows a $34,457 deficit with revenue of $907,954.
  • The paper had $115,822 in cash and $586,840 in stock after covering its 2007 deficit (p. 4). That stock endowment may have fallen dramatically this year.
  • The previous general manager had a salary of $65,000 plus about $8,693 in benefits in 2007 (p. 27).
  • The paper paid about 75 students a total of $843,060 in 2007 (p. 3).

Here’s a look at the 2007 Emerald tax document:

UO Emerald Taxes 2007

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Periodicals & Report 2007 taxes

March 4, 2009 04:18 PM

I-5 Beltline

The Oregon Department of Transportation has stiffed the local unemployed and the environment on federal stimulus money.

Out of $133 million, of federal stimulus money divied up by ODOT so far, only about 2.4 million will be spent in Lane County. The project lists are here and here.

At a time that everyone from Barack Obama to Gov. Ted Kulongoski to Mayor Kitty Piercy is calling for big steps to reduce oil addiction and global warming, ODOT will dedicate more than 90 percent of the stimulus money to highways.

The two local stimulus projects include $2.2 million for a city of Eugene Delta ponds bike path and bridge project and $180,000 for sidewalk and lighting work at the Eugene train station. The projects are scheduled to start in the next three months.

Lane County has about 9 percent of the state’s population, but ODOT allocated less than 2 percent of the stimulus money for locals. The county’s January unemployment rate of 11.9 percent exceeds the state rate of 10.9 percent.

ODOT did not dedicate any of the stimulus money for public transit. The state gave pedestrian and bike facilities only about eight percent of the funds.

Environmentalists had hoped that ODOT would dedicate most of the flexible federal stimulus money to greener transportation. A coalition of nine environmental groups delivered a letter and hundreds of petitions to ODOT’s Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) calling for spending the stimulus on a long list of ready to go bike, pedestrian and transit projects.

But the environmetal lobbying apparently had no effect. Bob Stacey, director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, emailed BikePortland.org to explain what went wrong: “The Transportation Commission got heavy pressure from pro-highway legislators, road builders, and Washington County and other local governments looking for road-building money.”

The OTC voted Feb. 27 to spend 90 percent on highways—about $64 million on paving, safety and enhancement projects and $41 million on road widening for more traffic.

The vote caused some blog commenters on BikePortland to accuse Gov. Kulongoski, who appoints the OTC members, of “greenwash.” Kulongoski has proclaimed soaring goals of reducing global warming, but has taken few concrete actions to actually reduce carbon emissions.

In a speech last year Kulongoski said, “I want Oregon to lead the nation in cutting greenhouse gases.”

But after his OTC voted zero stimulus for transit without a public hearing, the Governor proclaimed, "I applaud the speed at which the Oregon Transportation Commission and the Department of Transportation moved….This is exactly the intent of the federal stimulus dollars.”

Other states devoted a large share of their stimulus money to environmentally friendly transit projects rather than polluting highways. Maryland, for example, devoted 39 percent of its stimulus money to transit.

The transportation commission plans to vote March 18 on how to spend the remaining $100 million in federal stimulus that it controls. Oregon counties and cities will also share about another $100 million in transportation stimulus money and decide how to spend it. Some other federal stimulus funding may go directly to local transit agencies, bypassing ODOT.

March 4, 2009 05:12 PM

Is rat shit organic food?

According to the USDA, it may be. The New York Times reports:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Texas officials last month fired a state worker who served as a certifier because a plant owned by the Peanut Corporation of America — the company at the center of the salmonella outbreak — was allowed to keep its organic certification although it did not have a state health certificate.

A private certifier took nearly seven months to recommend that the U.S.D.A. revoke the organic certification of the peanut company’s Georgia plant, and then did so only after the company was in the thick of a massive food recall.

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Despite supposedly heavier inspections by USDA, the Peanut Corporation of America's salmonella products contaminated the nation's organic food supply prompting large numbers of recalls. Local company Golden Temple recalled more than 15,000 of its Wha Guru Chew Peanut Cashew bars. GloryBee also recalled a number of organic peanut products.

To remind its organic inspectors that rat shit isn't in fact organic food, the USDA sent out a memo the NYT quoted:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

“For example, while we do not expect organic inspectors to be able to detect salmonella or other pathogens,” Ms. Robinson wrote, “their potential sources should be obvious from such evidence as bird, rodent and other animal feces or other pest infestations.”

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March 4, 2009 10:53 PM

In 2007 64 percent of Eugene voters defeated a city scheme to use the state's "urban renewal" law to divert $40 million from school and government services and taxpayers to subsidize parking garages and other hand outs for chain-store developers downtown.

Now, the state Legislature is considering a bill to limit Portland's ability to use the tax diversion financing, Willamette Week reports.

Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen told WW he objects to a Portland idea to spend up to $40 million in urban renewal to subsidize a private developer's major league soccer project. "The city is talking about taking money from school kids and the poor to fund a soccer stadium."

Portland Democrat Nick Kahl has proposed a bill that would require Portland to get county approval for the tax diversion and allow urban renewal money to be spent on social services like helping the homeless.

The bill apparently wouldn't apply to Eugene. But it could be amended. Using urban renewal for the Eugene public library has been popular with voters here. But diverting school and social service money to destroy historic buildings and trees to build ugly parking garages for developers has not. In 2007 local Rep. Paul Holvey and County Commissioner Peter Sorenson said they were interested in legislative reform.

Statewide a total of about $165 million a year in tax money is diverted for "urban renewal." That diversion is now occurring at a time when schools are cutting instruction days and/or increasing class sizes and state and local governments are complaining they lack funding for basic safety and social services.

March 3, 2009 03:11 PM

The rumors started flying on Saturday: Bel Ami is closing. Get down there. Last night.

Since then, we've heard from a number of disappointed folks, from former employes who spoke of the restaurant's staff having been one big family to semi-regulars at the bar who were already in mourning. And we've read stories that said the whole Bel Ami space was closing, and some that said that it wasn't. We got confused.

As it turns out, a little bit of everything seems to be true.

Midtown owner Roscoe Divine says, "All that's really happening is that we're not going to serve the high-end Bel Ami dinners." The coffee shop and bistro counter at the front of the building will remain, with an expanded bistro menu and slightly changed hours. Both will be open from 7 am to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until late — midnight or one — on the weekends. "We may change that," Divine says. "We're open to seeing how things go."

With the new arrangement, patrons will be able to go to the counter (or to the bar) and order food and drink into the evening, just as they currently do during breakfast and lunch hours.

As for the short notice given to those employees let go in the restructuring, Divine points to other struggling local businesses, such as Monaco, and says, "There's no other way to do it. You have to pick a day."

In the end, it's good news and bad news at once, and I'm not sure how to feel: I'm glad we're not down an entire establishment, but I'm disappointed for the let-go staff, who face an incredibly tough job market. This is the latest restaurant to face changes or closure in a long line of the same (RIP Vaquero, Zenon, Chanterelle...), and Eugene's service industry staff (and Eugene's diners) are suffering for it. But in just the six years I've been back in Eugene, the building at the corner of 16th and Willamette has been through a handful of transformations: from the L&L Marketplace, with its coffee regulars and beloved French Horn, to Triomphe to its current incarnation as Midtown, it's changed and changed again. We'll just have to see how this one plays out.

If you've got thoughts, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

March 2, 2009 10:22 AM

As of Tuesday, March 3, current info on Bel Ami/Midtown can be found in the following post.

Word is coming in from multiple places that Bel Ami Restaurant and Lounge is closed. The fate of the front of the building — the coffee shop, wine shop and bistro — is less clear, though it sounds as if they're remaining open.

More detail will come as we have it.

EDIT, 4:20 pm: The rumors are confirmed: Bel Ami as we knew it is closed; the bistro and coffee shop will remain open, with their hours expanded beginning next week.

This is, needless to say, a major bummer for those who are now down one more drinking and dining establishment in the neighborhood — and, more importantly, for any Bel Ami staff now out of a job in this rough economic time.

February 28, 2009 11:33 AM

I sat for a nice two minutes with my jaw hanging open while this preview played (before the lovely Coraline) on Thursday night. It's now my latest contestant in this year's version of the "please let this movie be as fantastic as it looks" sweepstakes.

"Visionary director" Shane Acker was nominated for an Oscar for the short film version of 9.

February 27, 2009 04:15 PM

Our annual nightlife and drinking issue, Swizzle, is just around the corner, and I'm thinking about something new: Swizzle includes listings for many of Eugene/Springfield's drinking establishments, complete with happy hours and specials (when said establishments provide said information). But what do you guys have to say about them?

Maybe you're familiar with the Zagat guides, which condense commentary from loads of reviewers into tiny descriptions for restaurants and other establishments. I'm not thinking of anything quite so scientific as their complicated system, but I am wondering: What makes you go to the bars you frequent? Why do you love 'em? Where are you a regular, and how'd the bar you go to most often earn your undying loyalty?

Leave your thoughts and observations in the comments! Selected commentary may make its way into Swizzle's bar listings.

February 26, 2009 04:13 PM

CarrotMob could make Eugene a greener place.

The local idea from the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network goes like this:

clipped from greenlane-sbn.org

  1. Businesses compete with how much good they are willing to do.
  2. Consumers choose one business they want to reward.
  3. Consumers support that business by making coordinated purchases.
  4. The most successful business gets rich.
  5. Consumers buy things that they would buy anyway, but by organizing themselves, they change the world.

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The first environmental project according to the website will involve local coffee shops. There's also a Carrotmob Eugene Facebook page.

The carrot, reverse eco-boycot idea appears to have had a big impact in San Francisco: