Damn dams, Hot Air, end of an RG era and EW's Kansas takeover

  Cougar Dam on the South Fork of the McKenzie River creates a quandary that government agencies and environmental geeks have been puzzling over for decades. The dam is too high for a fish ladder and blocks migrating fish both upriver and downriver. Capturing salmon and steelhead below the dam and hauling them by truck above the dam works, but is very expensive. Even more costly is the construction and operation of elaborate floating fish collectors in the reservoir. We can spend $100 million to build a mechanical contraption that makes so much noise fish won’t go anywhere near it. It’s time to take seriously the once-considered-silly idea of draining the reservoir and allowing the river to run free except for times when flood control is needed. The downside is lost power generation and recreational lake boating, but the mostly free-flowing South Fork idea might just pencil out economically and environmentally.

• Eugene was chosen from 47 cities that competed to be the next Mozilla Gigabit City. That was the prize that kicked off the Feb. 23 City Club of Eugene program. It meant that winners received national recognition and grants totaling $300,000 “for projects utilizing emerging technology to improve education and expand workforce development.” A big deal. Speakers were: Matt Sayre, vice president of Technology Association of Oregon; Craig Wiroll, Mozilla portfolio manager in Eugene; Eric Braman, Lane Arts Council Gigabit residencies; Jon Bellona, Harmonic Laboratory, City Synth; and Erin Maloney, Lane Stem, Coder in Residence. After this excellent educational program, we found ourselves wondering if the tech geniuses of America are smart enough to keep foreign powers from infiltrating and weakening our democracy. We can only hope.

Tony Corcoran’s Hot Air Society column about upcoming elections, “Lane County Commission Needs Estrogen Therapy,” hit a nerve last week. Looks like election season is heating up! (Though it’s hard to say what readers were madder about in last week’s issue — Corcoran’s opinions or the fact that the Jonesin’ Crossword was missing a bunch of down clues. Nostra culpa, we’ve posted the missing clues online.)

• Thursday, March 1, marks the first day of the rest of the life of The Register-Guard, which is now officially owned by GateHouse Media Inc. instead of Eugene’s Baker family, which owned and operated the paper for 91 years. It was still unclear this week entirely what that means for the RG and its staff. Three employees were let go Feb. 21; numerous sources told EW that most of the paper’s eight copy editors face losing their jobs, with copy editing being outsourced to GateHouse’s design hub in Austin, Texas. Publisher Logan Molen has also been let go, according to reports, and managing editor Dave Baker has retired. Reporters and photographers, though, are being kept on, at least for the moment.

• Last week’s announcement that EW’s arts editor Bob Keefer and theater and film critic Rick Levin have filed for the 2018 gubernatorial race in Kansas drew nationwide publicity when the Topeka Capitol-Journal wrote about their candidacy (“Two artsy guys from Oregon assume roles in Kansas’ political theater”) that was then sent out by Associated Press. Keefer and Levin are sequestered in a smoke-filled back room with big-money backers to plan their next campaign move.