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Posts tagged as “Eugene”

First Take

The Los Angeles Times today runs a fine scene-setting story from inside the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise, as tension slowly rises and staff look closely at the development of wildfires around the west. It reports: "On this morning, the picture isn't pretty. It's ominous in a hold-on-to-your-seat way that casts a pall over two dozen fire analysts, meteorologists and forest experts. They see a growing scourge of fierce yellow and red dots, each representing a new fire, and they furrow their brows." At the moment, most of the fires are in Alaska and California. But that will change. (photo/BLM, as used in the LA Times)

Eugene has spent a long time working on a replacement for its old and somewhat revered Civic Stadium - it has routinely provided front page headlines for months. Now, yesterday, it burned down, a total loss. The stadium had been run by Eugene city and the local school district; a private local alliance planned to renovate it. Eugene is in shock.

Medical Marijuana Awareness Week

Kitty Piercy

Kitty Piercy

There will be a Global Marijuana March in downtown Eugene on Saturday. Nothing man-bites-dog in that; Eugene's that kind of town. What's a little more interesting is that Eugene's mayor, Kitty Piercy, is expected to be among the marchers.

Nor is that all: She is declaring upcoming week as “Medical Marijuana Awareness Week.” (She said that she isn't intending to get into the debate on legalizing marijuana generally, only to support allowance of its medica use.)

Now, granted, this is Eugene. But there does seem to be something in the wind.

A bull market in hate?

Hard times lead to hard feelings, and worse. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and related groups around the country, reports finding 926 such groups around the country, "up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000."

It goes on: "As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics. Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign."

Some caution is called for, though, in evaluating all this. One of the newcomers to the list is the Eugene-based Pacifica Forum, which seems to fall into a gray area. Pacifica has given a platform to anti-semitic speakers in recent years, and the SPLC seems to have concluded that the relationship is closer than simply offering a soapbox. The Eugene Register Guard, which has watched it in action for years at close range, offers this interpretation:

"If the Pacifica Forum represents any kind of threat, it’s a small-bore threat indeed. The number of people who are actively involved can be counted on two hands, and among them are a high quotient of people guilty of nothing worse than being stubborn fools. Listing the forum as a hate group will serve mainly to pump up its sense of importance, and bolster its self-image as a martyred defender of free speech. The forum began, and functioned for years, as a platform for controversial political and historical analysis of every ideological stripe. Among its speakers were sharp critics of U.S. support for Israel, and some of these stepped over the line into outright anti-Semitism. When the forum was called out on this, its organizers mistook public criticism for intimidation. They remained blind to the difference between speakers who expressed strong views on matters of public policy and those who demonized entire groups of people. They confused their bad judgment with open-mindedness."

So some caution and acceptance of gray areas is called for. And numbers of a given category can rise and fall depending on how you define the category.

The SPLC points to 26 groups around the Northwest, 12 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and Idaho. In the national context, these aren't massive numbers. States in the south and border-south have many more per capita. It's a part of the landscape up here, certainly. But might this be an indicator that the Northwest is not a specific breeder of this kind of activity? (more…)

Remaking Springfield

In September we posted on a Eugene Register-Guard article noting the number of larger strip clubs in Springfield than in neighboring, and much larger, Eugene, a piece speculating on how the cities' different histories and social attitudes may have led to the disparity.

A guest op in the R-G today carries some of that forward, in the current debate over a proposal to open a new strip club in the downtown area.

Twenty years ago, The Register-Guard published an article with a headline that was something like “100 Best Things About Springfield,” and one of the highlights was “the real blue- collar bars downtown.” Ten years ago, maybe only five years ago, Dugger could have opened Shaker’s downtown and there would have been little outcry. What’s changed is that many in Springfield now have higher expectations of what they want their downtown to be.

They want to take families downtown after dark and feel safe anywhere from 10th Street to the Willamette River. They want nice places to shop and eat. They want to see their Academy of Arts & Academics students in a play at the Wildish Theater and get a fudge sundae after the show. They want to visit the Springfield Museum or take in an exhibit at the Emerald Art Center and have a nice glass of wine before or after. They want well-lighted streets with windowed storefronts to see what’s going on inside.

They don’t want to feel as though they have to cross the street to avoid a long, dark, uninviting block or a cluster of unsavory characters.

Dugger’s plans may have fit in the old downtown Springfield, but not in the new one — and that’s why so many showed up at the City Council meeting. To him, this is about his right to make a living with a legal strip club; to many others, this is about whose downtown it is and what kind of businesses they want to see there.