• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Slant

May 21, 2015

• Predictable results in the May Special Election. Disappointing turnout of only 35 percent. We didn’t expect the vehicle registration fee to pass, but we did expect the results to be closer. Lane County voters haven’t figured out that we are undertaxed compared to counties that haven’t relied heavily on federal timber payments. Measure 5 and other tax limits put us in a bind when timber payments dried up. How are we going to catch up now? Nobody loves new taxes and fees, especially ones that affect low-income residents, but the options are very limited.

May 14, 2015

• As of May 12, only about 15 percent of voters have turned in ballots for the May 19 Special Election, which is surprising. We figured the Lane County vehicle registration fee and recent controversies on the 4J School Board would crank up interest in this election. But it’s not too late to get those ballots dropped off at one of those handy white ballot boxes around town. Procrastination appears to be an exclusively human frailty.

May 7, 2015

May special elections tend to have low turnouts, meaning everyone who does vote has a bigger impact than in general elections. Your ballot has superpowers! Lane County’s Vehicle Registration Fee may have trouble passing this time around, but it has people thinking about how we pay (or don’t pay) for street, road and bridge maintenance, not only in the county but also in our cities and small towns. Is there any town in Lane County not struggling to fund street repairs?

April 30, 2015

Kathmandu has been a sister city to Eugene since 1975 and many Eugeneans, including Councilor Betty Taylor, have visited there. The earthquake death toll in Nepal grows by the hour. The best way to help Kathmandu right now is through financial donations. The website kathmandurelief.org has been recommended by the Eugene/Katmandu Sister City Association, but the organization does not currently have 501(c)(3) status, so donations are not tax deductible. See eugeneweekly.com/blogs for updates.

April 23, 2015

• The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is facing a $32 million deficit in the next two-year budget cycle, and cuts are looming. The agency is in a bind due in part to its reliance on revenues from fishing and hunting licenses. It’s a quandary. Fishing license fees have gone up while there are fewer fish to catch, so fewer people go fishing. And hunting is no longer such a big part of Oregon’s culture, at least not in urban areas.

April 16, 2015

• No surprise that the timber industry in Oregon still has enough lobbying power to stifle the Democratic Legislature when it comes to even minor new rules on aerial spraying of pesticides on private timberlands. The timber industry has a strong ally in Oregonians for Food and Shelter, which represents big chemical manufacturers and distributors. What can we do other than hold our lawmakers’ feet to the fire? Well, when the Legislature fails to make reforms, the people can rise up.

April 9, 2015

• After listening to Phyllis Barkhurst and Jeff Todahl at City Club of Eugene last week talk about 90by30, their initiative that seeks to reduce child abuse 90 percent by 2030, we’re even more convinced that we need more teachers, more counselors, more school nurses, more frontline professionals who interact with children and can recognize signals of abuse. To date, the education budget being debated in the Oregon Legislature this week doesn’t bring that about. We’re looking for the leadership that will.

April 2, 2015

Help wanted! Look at these job openings in Eugene and Lane County. Tom Turner is heading to Florence, so we need a new Lane county sheriff. General Manager Ron Kilcoyne of Lane Transit Distict announced this week that he is leaving that hotspot after a new GM is found. The big slot, UO president, is still open. School District 4J just hired a new superintendent. Could be that this is normal turnover for the age of the shrinking attention span. Could be that this is a tough place for public servants.

March 26, 2015

• The May 19 4J School Board election got hotter last week as several new candidates squeaked in on the filing deadline. Incumbent Jim Torrey is facing off against two opponents: Oregon Democratic Party Regional Director Kevin Cronin (also EW’s “Best Local Hellraiser”) and Whiteaker Community Council member David Nickles. Torrey has served on the board since 2007 and is currently chair.

March 19, 2015

• We left the City Club of Eugene’s excellent debate on March 13 about manmade microwave radiation’s impact on human health undecided. Dr. Davison Soper, UO physics professor, and Dr. Paul Dart, MD, left us thinking that the science is not there on either side, although both expressed strong views. Soper was not concerned about wifi, cell towers and smart meters impacting human health. Dart definitely was. More science, please.

March 12, 2015

• Former UO president David Frohnmayer’s most powerful legacy to this community should be the strength and courage he and his wife, Lynn Frohnmayer, have demonstrated in battling Franconi anemia, the disease that took the lives of two of their daughters and affects a third. The Frohnmayers established the Franconi Anemia Research Fund, shepherded it through endless meetings and raised millions for it.

March 5, 2015

An amazing cross-section of this community has come together to buy “the dirt,” 10.2 acres in the center of Eugene. This is the first and most difficult step in building a fieldhouse for kids, restoring a historic wooden stadium and installing a playing field for soccer and fun, adding a pocket park and a walking/biking path. What a lift in a world that seems to be coming apart more than coming together! 

February 26, 2015

Springfield is in mourning, as are we all, for the pedestrian tragedy on Main Street that killed three children and seriously injured their mother Feb. 22. As we go to press we haven’t heard why the pickup driver hit the family, but regardless, the long and busy Main Street corridor has long been hazardous for walkers, bicyclists, pets and wildlife. Reducing the speed limit on this state highway would be an obvious first step. More pedestrian refuge islands are needed.

February 19, 2015

John Kitzhaber grew up in Eugene. His father taught at the UO. His mother was state president of the League of Women Voters. We have never doubted his integrity and still don’t until proven otherwise through full due process of the law. We do have doubts about his judgment with the role of his “first lady,” fiancé Cylvia Hayes. As one of our readers quipped this week: “At a minimum, Kitzhaber needs a pre-nup.”

February 12, 2015

• A $35 annual vehicle registration fee is heading for the May ballot as Lane County struggles to provide basic services. We’re not fond of flat taxes since they exacerbate the gap between rich and poor, but this fee is a bit more progressive than some we’ve seen. Very poor (or green) households don’t even own a car, low-income households might have one car and wealthier households are likely to have several vehicles plus boats and trailers.

February 5, 2015

• We would like to assure parents and their children that Mickey Mouse lives. 

January 29, 2015

• The Eugene City Council is expected to take the next step this week in expanding our urban growth boundary to provide more space for industrial land. It appears the controversial 300-acre expansion for housing is not needed, thanks to a math error being discovered. Puzzling. But the plan to expand 924 acres to create industrial land near the airport is also flawed. Strong arguments against UGB industrial expansion can be found in the Envision Eugene online survey done in December and January.

January 22, 2015

EW lost a trusted friend and critic when Arnold Ismach died on Jan. 16 at age 84. Ismach was dean of the UO School of Journalism and Communication from 1985 to 1994 and has criticized us for “too much entertainment — not enough news.” But his most recent observation, maybe two weeks before his death, was “I read the Weekly Thursday nights and it makes me feel good.” Ismach was a lifelong journalist, one whose curiosity and passion for the world around him lasted long past his retirement from the UO.

January 15, 2015

• It was a great season for the 13-2 Ducks, but you could feel the wheels on the wagon starting to come off even a few days before the Jan. 12 national title game against Ohio State. A drug-related suspension of the team’s second-leading receiver was followed by ESPN analysts warning that, despite a high-powered offense, the Ducks are a scheme-driven squad capable of being exposed as a one-trick pony. And exposed they were.

January 8, 2015

• We’ve ranted against sprawl for decades and we will likely continue to do so ad nauseam. We are not against growth, per se. People have to live somewhere, and our population is growing for a number of reasons, mostly sex. But we see no reason to encourage growth (or sex) to line the pockets of land speculators and shoddy developers. As City Councilor Betty Taylor asks, “Who profits from these plans?” We’d rather see quality of life be our community priority instead of taxpayer-subsidized growth.

December 31, 2014

Oregon’s minimum wage goes up 15 cents an hour to $9.25 in January, thanks to a ballot measure in 2002 that tied the minimum wage to inflation. But of course an extra $26 a month in pay won’t bring Oregon’s estimated 72,000 working-poor households out of poverty. Seven out of 10 poverty-level families have at least one parent who is employed, often full-time at minimum wage or above. The Oregon Legislature in 2015 is expected to try to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and Republican die-hards will object, saying thousands of jobs will be lost.

December 24, 2014

Our Give Guide has expanded from less than a page in years past to the multiple pages you see this week. Eugene is home to hundreds of nonprofits doing exceptional work locally and around the world, so our list is far from complete. Why are we such a thriving center for nonprofits, much more so than other communities our size?

December 18, 2014

• Parting is such sweet sorrow: Since Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman last week — and won it decisively — he ceased to be just another great UO athlete. If he wasn’t already, Mariota is now a national celebrity, evidenced by his immediate appearance on network television  Dec. 15 when he read the Top Ten list on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Letterman introduced Mariota as “a good-looking kid” from “your University of Oregon Ducks,” and he wasn’t talking to us, Eugene.

December 11, 2014

• Congrats to all players for ending the GTFF strike on the UO campus. We’re even pleased that we can stop honking our horns in solidarity with the picketing graduate teaching fellows marching for hours on end. Hopefully, this conflict will not be a forerunner for broader labor disputes at the university, now that the faculty is unionized. It should not be. The UO has a long history of working peacefully with unions, the SEIU, for instance, and the GTFF until this fall.