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August 6, 2014

Does anybody remember Rudy Crew? He was the nationally known education expert hired by Gov. John Kitzhaber to figure out how to finance and fix Oregon’s public education system. He was a bust. It was soon apparent that he wasn’t that interested in Oregon kids and he was off to the next bigger job. The governor then wisely persuaded Nancy Golden, recently retired and much loved superintendent of Springfield schools, to become his education czar. Nobody doubts her competence or her dedication to Oregon kids. So, this is a cautionary tale.

July 30, 2014

• A majority of five of the Eugene City Council, backed by strong support from Mayor Kitty Piercy, showed that rare quality of leadership this week in passing both the sick leave law and a tighter climate recovery ordinance. Six councilors favored climate action. The Register-Guard, conservative councilors, the idiotic and out-of-touch Lane County Commission and, of course, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce all asked for either delays or no such action as sick leave for workers in this city.

July 23, 2014

• Eugene’s proposed ordinance requiring paid sick leave time for employees who work in Eugene inspired a majority of Lane County commissioners to vote to prohibit such an ordinance in the county, but it’s not clear why these reactionary commissioners are so offended by an improvement in working conditions for their constituents (who vote, by the way). It’s a turf battle that may end up in the courts.

July 16, 2014

• UO professor and research psychologist Jennifer Freyd (a nationally recognized scholar and a source for our series on campus rape) wrote a July 14 opinion piece for Al Jazeera America, “Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead.” In it, she discusses the urgency for widespread administration of expert-created campus climate surveys (recommended by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault) — the same type of survey the UO rejected due to Freyd’s potential “bias.” The piece notes these surveys are

July 9, 2014

 Marijuana legalization in Oregon is likely to be on the November ballot (we will know for sure Aug. 2 when election officials verify valid initiatives) and we’re already hearing concerns about kids eating THC-laced cookies and candy, along with being exposed to even more messages that pot is OK. Well, we like to think that legalizing and regulating pot will pump millions into education, including programs that teach kids about the dangers of drug use while their brains are still forming.

July 3, 2014

• Nothing celebrates freedom on the Fourth of July like a police state crackdown! Eugene’s plans to begin “no refusal” blood test weekends with Independence Day Friday has drawn criticism from across the country. “No refusal” means suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath testing will be blood tested for alcohol. Is it legal? A 2013 Supreme Court decision says it is that as long as the police have a warrant for the blood draw. Warrants can be achieved with a quick phone call to a judge.

June 26, 2014

• We wrote about longtime medical marijuana activist Jim Greig in this column May 8 when we heard he was not long for this world, and we enjoyed a final, upbeat conversation with him a short time before he died at home June 16. He expressed to us his gratitude for his 63 years on this planet, his family, his work and his many supporters. Greig suffered from debilitating arthritis, lung cancer and blindness in one eye. He found relief from his pain and other symptoms with medical pot, reducing his need for opiates.

June 19, 2014

• The Eugene Celebration (the official version of it anyway) may be canceled for this year, but the parade will go on. Kesey Enterprises sent out a press release announcing that thanks to “overwhelming public input and encouragement,” there will be a 2014 Eugene Celebration Parade 11 am Aug. 23 thanks to Lane Community College, the city of Eugene and an all-volunteer steering committee. That evening there will be a $5 concert at the Cuthbert. Sounds like plans are still underway by community members for an unofficial, and free, celebration of Eugene.

June 12, 2014

• Eugene’s daily rag editorialized June 5 that the Eugene Celebration has become “calcified” and “perhaps it’s just as well” that the plug has been pulled this year. Well, we still adore the Eugene Celebration and parade and the only thing that’s calcified is the R-G’s perspective from the outskirts of town. There’s no doubt the celebration, even with its flaws, is much loved in the region, as demonstrated by the immediate community response to fill the void left by Kesey Enterprises.

June 5, 2014

No Eugene Celebration or parade this summer? We broke the news on our blog and Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Sad news for all of us who are big fans and have been going and volunteering for more than three decades now. Maybe our great and quirky parade can be salvaged. It’s the one time each year when our entire, diverse community comes together — north, south, east and west. What happens now? Will the Whiteaker Block Party (which is free) become the new Eugene Celebration?

May 29, 2014

Emerge Oregon has been recruiting and training women to run for public office for five years now. The May Primary had 14 Emerge alumnae running for positions around the state, including Dawn Lesley’s challenge to unseat Jay Bozievich in the West Lane commission race, a race so close it’s still undecided. Sheri Moore, who ran against Sid Leiken in the Springfield commission race, is another grad, along with Rep. Val Hoyle.

May 22, 2014

• Will the status quo hold? Lots of nail gnawing as we watched the local election results Tuesday night. As we go to press Wednesday morning, incumbent Jay Bozievich is only 45 votes ahead of Dawn Lesley in the West Lane County commissioner race and Faye Stewart has only a 33 vote margin to avoid a November runoff with Kevin Matthews for the East Lane County commissioner race. More ballots are yet to be hand counted. If the Bozievich-Lesley contest gets any closer in the final count, it could trigger an automatic recount.

May 15, 2014

Election turnout is likely to be awful for the May 20 Primary since there’s not much on the ballot other than County Commission races, so if you’re ever wanted to make a difference, this is your time to shine. Every vote is bigger and badder when the turnout is small. Only about 12 percent of the ballots were in as of May 12. It’s peculiar that Lane County has more Democrats than Republicans and yet we’ve elected a right-wing, anti-environment majority to run the county.

May 8, 2014

UO athletics and the broader university got another black eye nationwide this week with the story about three Duck basketball players accused of rape. The police report goes into disturbing details, but Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin will not be prosecuted — not enough evidence to convict. We agree with the powerful and angry response from the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence, citing “institutional betrayal” of survivors and “lack of institutional control” over athletics.

May 1, 2014

• Look for our election issue and endorsements next week. Ballots will arrive in mailboxes soon for the May 20 Primary Election. You might not find a lot of sexy stuff on the ballot until the November General Election, but the primary has potentially a big impact. For those new to voting in Oregon, nonpartisan races, such as Lane County Commission positions, can be decided in the May Primary if one candidate gets at least 50 percent plus one vote. The commission races, of course, are anything but nonpartisan.

April 24, 2014

• Big development plans are brewing for Glenwood and huge tax breaks and concessions have been demanded by developers. But why shortchange our schools, public services and infrastructure in order to entice for-profit developers? Glenwood has an attractive riverfront and central location. It will evolve and develop just fine without tax breaks and subsidies.

April 17, 2014

• Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2004 and since then we’ve seen a steady shift in public attitudes on gay rights. On April 23, a federal judge will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Oregon and Basic Rights Oregon. If the plaintiffs prevail, Oregon’s obsolete ban will be struck down. The legal arguments for upholding the ban have withered under scrutiny in other states and we hope the Oregon court will agree.

April 10, 2014

• It’s hard to calculate what it cost the city of Eugene to shut down Whoville last week, but it had to be a lot, figuring overtime for EPD and maybe others of the 60 or so city employees who were called to participate. Regardless of whether the coordinated action at this scale was justified or not, it gives the city administration a black eye. We noticed a “Fire Jon Ruiz” Facebook page is up as of April 6. The page has lots of posts but as we go to press it only has 59 “likes.”

April 3, 2014

Jody Runge should be a name high on the list of applicants to coach the UO women’s basketball team. She’s interested in returning to Eugene, where she coached from 1993 to 2001, winning two Pac-10 titles, 69 percent of her games, and taking the team to the NCAA tourney in each of her eight seasons.

March 27, 2014

• The death toll is still rising in the massive landslide in Snohomish County, Wash., that has killed an estimated 24 at last count with more than 100 people still unaccounted for. As the search for bodies continues, so does the search for answers — what triggered the massive slide that crumpled homes and blocked a river? And for Oregonians, we wonder, could it happen here on such a scale? The area in Washington had unstable soils and a history of slides, had been logged in the past and experienced heavy rains recently.

March 20, 2014

• We hear from the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence that the UO has “terminated” the campus coordinator position provided by Sexual Assault Support Services, but the UO tells us that’s not exactly the case.

March 13, 2014

• We lost Edgar Peara Feb. 22 at the age of 93, but the longtime Eugene peace activist’s words live on. “War is demonic, immature,” he wrote in an EW Viewpoint March 22, 2007. “It is incompatible with morality, high-minded religion and common sense. Peace is an active condition more difficult to achieve than any military objective.” Peara was a highly decorated officer in the Combat Engineer Corps during WWII and spent the rest of his life working for peace and spiritual healing. “War must be abolished,” he wrote.

March 6, 2014

Mike Huckabee, the former right-wing presidential candidate, is coming to town April 2 as a fundraiser for the local Community Action Network. County Commissioner Jay Bozievich is likely to be there with bells on since the CAN political action committee sent him checks in February totaling $4,500. Bozievich, a Tea Party darling, needs to raise a lot of bucks because he has a serious and organized challenger in Dawn Lesley. Check out the list of Bozievich financial supporters on the state Orestar website at http://wkly.ws/1p2.

February 27, 2014

• It is disappointing that two Eugene attorneys who are powerful statewide have led the effort to stop HB 4143, which would give to legal aid the funds left over when all the winners of class-action lawsuits do not collect their shares, for whatever reasons. Oregon and New Hampshire are the only states that return the uncollected funds to the guilty defendants. David Frohnmayer and Bill Gary, representing big oil and big tobacco, argue now that this short legislative session allows too little time to consider this issue.