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July 30, 2014 09:56 AM

Looks like (crossing fingers) Lane County might be getting a little more sunshine on its governance. The county announced today that like the city of Eugene it will  have a computer terminal with access for the media and the public to an email group made up of the County Commission, administrator and other publice officials, it will also open its front office to the public and make meetings rooms available at no cost during business hours.

Commissioner Pete Sorenson has been quietly making requests for the county to open its meeting rooms back up and to be more forthcoming about public records requests. New County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky told EW earlier this summer that the county was seeking to “foster an environment of openness and transparency” and is looking into improving access to public records. 

The full press release is below.

 

County to Increase Public Access to Emails, Meeting Spaces at No Cost

Contact: Assistant Lane County Public Information Officer Trevor Steele: 541-954-0065

Today, Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky announced several changes to improve public access to certain County emails and meeting rooms. The changes include a new computer terminal for members of the public and media to review, at no cost, certain emails received and sent by Lane County Commissioners and the County Administrator. Additionally, several meeting rooms in the Public Services Building may now be used for community meetings at no cost during regular business hours. Finally, the front office for the County Commissioners, Administrator and other Lane County offices is now open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“These are important steps to bring our organization closer to our community,” said Mokrohisky. “We are making every effort to be open, transparent and engaging in our actions. These new improvements make it easier for our residents to access public information and to use public spaces.”

The County’s new public email terminal is similar to the model previously established by the City of Eugene for access to certain emails of Eugene public officials. The new County terminal will allow free access to an email group that lists all County Commissioners, the County Administrator and other public officials. The email group, lcbcccom@co.lane.or.us, can be found on the Board of County Commissioners web page on the County’s website at www.lanecounty.org. The community can access the new terminal at the front counter of the County Commissioners and Administrator offices on the second floor of the Public Services Building at 125 East 8th Avenue in Eugene. The public records request process for emails and other items that do not appear in the public email terminal will continue to be available.

Harris Hall and two other meeting rooms in the Public Services Building will now be available for community use at no cost during regular business hours when not otherwise reserved for Lane County or City of Eugene business meetings. Meeting organizers wishing to use the space outside of regular business hours will continue to pay a $150 fee. Residents interested in requesting use of Harris Hall should send an email to: LaneCountyHarrisHall@co.lane.or.us.  Other meeting rooms in the Public Services Building, including the Relief Nursery space and the meeting room at the back of the café, will be available free of charge during regular business hours. The meeting room behind the café is being renamed the “Community Conference Room.” All of the spaces are subject to availability and must be scheduled in advance. Those interested in reserving the Community Conference Room should send a request email to: LaneCountyCommunityConfRoom@co.lane.or.us. Those interested in reserving the Relief Nursery meeting room should send a request email to: LaneCountyReliefNursery@co.lane.or.us.   

The County Administration front office, including County Commissioners, County Administrator, Human Resources, County Counsel, and Community and Economic Development, is now open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The front counter hours had been restricted due to staffing constraints, however, a recent reorganization has created efficiencies that allow the County to provide improved customer service to the community without additional cost to taxpayers.

July 25, 2014 04:02 PM

A piloted math program in the 4J School District, known as College Preparatory Mathematics or CPM, is currently the subject of great controversy among the 4J community, spurring a parent Q&A meeting in early June. CPM sparked more questions than answers during a June 25 board meeting. One item of contention is the high price of the piloted curriculum, paid for largely with school bond money — $129,703 for high school and $298,867 for middle school — when parents were told that Kendall Toyota of Eugene would cover the cost of the high school curriculum through donations.

Now, parents have formed a petition, urging fellow parents and taxpayers to ask for more clarity from the 4J district:

Members of the board have pointed to questionable procedures that have led to the widespread use of CPM. We are now learning that although CPM has not been formally adopted, all of the “direct instruction” textbooks at SEHS and possibly at other schools have gone missing. Some believe they are now in boxes in a district warehouse and will soon be destroyed or sent away, effectively creating a fait accompli by eradicating the possibility for a direct instruction option and imposing a curriculum that has not been adopted, one that, by Berman’s admission, will cost the district substantially more money in the near future ($1.5 million by his estimation.) It is unclear how and by whom the decision to remove books was made.

The parents ask that:

1. That the location of the direct instruction books by Larson, Boswell, Kanold and Stiff be disclosed immediately and be made available so that they may continue to be used as the primary resource for mathematics instruction in 4J, and that the CPM materials already purchased be used as a supplement to these direct instruction books.

 

2. That there be no formal adoption of CPM, which would cost the taxpayers another $1.5 million.

 

3. That the process by which $469,405 (in bond money) was spent on CPM in Spring 2012 without board approval and prior to any “instructional committee meetings” be made public.

 

4. That all future curricular and funding decisions be made with full procedural transparency in accordance with Oregon precedent (that teachers are enlisted to suggest and review an array of materials to consider) and in adherence to Oregon Revised Statues sections 337.120 and 347.141: (which require the district to obtain parental and staff approval prior to the implementation of a new curriculum.) We ask that all teachers and stakeholders be invited to participate in the discussion rather than forging a disingenuous semblance of consensus by excluding those who might be skeptical of the curriculum the district prefers.

Find the full petition here.

July 24, 2014 02:12 PM

Folksinger Jim Page sings about the white-painted bikes that memorialize cyclists who have died on our streets in collisions. This performance was at Tsunami Books in 2010 and Page played "Ghost Bikes" at the Oregon Country Fair this year.

July 24, 2014 02:33 PM

LRAPA just sent out his notice this afternoon (July 24) about pollution from the mill fire in Springfield last week:

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) has received a complaint of possible debris from Swanson Mill Fire on private property. These burned materials range from small flakes of ash to larger palm-sized charred debris. Some of these materials have tested positive for containing asbestos. Further testing is being conducted to confirm these results at an accredited lab and results are expected by tomorrow.

Asbestos can be harmful when airborne. “If you see fire debris on your property that is white, beige, or gray in color, and is felt-like in appearance, please do not disturb the material,” said Jo Niehaus, a spokesperson for LRAPA. “As long as the debris is solid and undisturbed, it will reduce risk of possible fibers becoming airborne.”

LRAPA would like people to take caution if they decide to handle the debris personally. It is difficult for asbestos fibers to be airborne when the material is wet and reduces the risk of exposure. High pressure water hoses are not recommended because they may break apart the remains. It is recommended to use protective masks, gloves, and to use a water mister to wet down the material and store it in a sealable plastic bag. To dispose of the collected material, please call Lane County Department of Public Works, Waste Management Division at 682-4120.

If you believe that your property has also collected the debris, please call our office at 736-1056, we are currently working with the Swanson group to investigate all possible cases. For more information, please call Jo Niehaus, LRAPA’s public affairs manager at 736-1056 ext. 217.

July 23, 2014 09:54 AM

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This event took place Saturday, July 19, in support of legal homeless camps, Conestoga huts and other housing for low-income and no-income folks locally.

July 22, 2014 05:02 PM

This video takes a look at the backgrounds of some of the people who are without housing in Orlando.

July 21, 2014 01:34 PM

Some remarkable photography in this TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg, looking at the "hidden miracles of the natural world."

July 18, 2014 12:32 PM

Rob English, who makes custom cycles here in Eugene as English Cycles, was injured riding in the Tour of Aufderheide last weekend and is still in the hospital with broken bones and other injuries according to a GiveForward page that was created to fundraise for him and his wife Misha Dunlap English as he recovers. You can read about Rob English's work in a recent EW Bikes issue. To contribute, go to the GiveForward page. 

July 18, 2014 06:53 AM

Dilated Peoples

 

 

 

 

 

J5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2014 08:52 AM

Mother Jones and Utne Reader have a fascinating story this week based on scientific research into possible genetic and physiological reasons behind right-wing leanings.

We are reminded of former congressman Jim Weaver's book, Two Kinds, in which he comes to a similar conclusion about hawks and doves based on his observations and research.

See

http://wkly.ws/1sd

July 17, 2014 12:01 PM

The remarkable performer Reggie Watts was reportedly spotted at the Oregon County Fair last weekend, quietly doing his thing along the path. In case you don't know who he is or what he looks like, here's his TED talk from a couple of years ago that got nearly 2.8 million views.

July 16, 2014 03:32 PM

Asian carp, nutria and crayfish are a few of the nasty invasive species in Oregon that compete with native wildlife and cause trouble to local ecosystems. It just so happens that these invasive species are edible, and what better way to combat an ecological threat than to turn it into a delicious entre? You can do your part to save the environment at the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE)'s Invasive Species Cook-off: Eradication by Mastication. According to Tamara Mullen of the IAE: 

The Cook-off was created to raise awareness and support to combat the problems caused by invasive species on our natural world and economy. It is an elegant (and quirky) event in a gorgeous setting, with a focus on educational outreach enriched by devouring delicious adventurous invasive cuisine presented by top culinary artists of the Pacific Northwest, and one from the Deep South too!

While the dinner doesn't take place until Sept. 28 in Salem, the early-bird price to dine is a $65 donation through July 30, so head on over to the event's website to stake your claim.

July 15, 2014 10:16 AM

From the proper use of it's verus its to the Oxford comma debate, Weird Al Yankovic's parody of "Blurred Lines" makes the grammar geek in me ever so happy.  I really liked Robin Thicke's  "Blurred Lines" the first time I heard it, then I actually paid attention to the lyrics. Weird Al's version however I can sing along with (and yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition).

July 10, 2014 03:35 PM

A rape narrative told  through illustration and sparse words hits home how women really do respond to the trauma of sexual violence. The story was posted anoymously on Medium.com and is making the srounds on social media. It's worth the read. Click the image to go to the site.