Local News & Events

News You Might Have Missed – January 25

Long Live the Interim Mayor of Springfield

Sean VanGordon is the new interim mayor of Springfield following last week’s vote by City Council. The new mayor was appointed after a 4-2 vote, with Councilors Kori Rodley and Leonard Stoehr voting for Stoehr.

VanGordon, who previously served as the city councilor for Ward 1, will finish out the remainder of the term vacated by former Mayor Christine Lundberg, who announced she would resign two days before her son was charged with 10 counts of child sex abuse back in August.

Lundberg did not officially resign until January 11, when the city council voted to accept her resignation letter. In the letter, she made references to so-called “gadflies” and “a small group that tries to unduly influence city council decisions.” 

Some citizens took those comments as criticism of the small-but-vocal Springfield residents pushing for the city to acknowledge the growing influence of far-right and white supremacist ideology in the city.

VanGordon, for what it’s worth, said he was “concerned” about white supremacy in Springfield and that it had no place in the city. He also said he planned on following the platform set out by Lundberg.

According to the Springfield City Charter, VanGordon will serve as mayor until the next election in 2022.

Next, the Springfield City Council will appoint someone to fill VanGordon’s Ward 1 seat. Applications for the position are due by February 1, and the council plans on filling the position by March.

That’s Not What “Community Policing” Means

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is asking the residents of the Mohawk Valley to create a new “law enforcement district” which would raise their taxes in order to hire a dedicated deputy for the region.

According to reporting in the Register-Guard, Sheriff Cliff Harrold gave a presentation to the Lane County Board of Commissioners during their work session on Tuesday and outlined the proposal. His presentation apparently spent a fair amount of time hammering home the benefit of protecting private property in the area – the R-G noted the total value of property in the proposed district in the third paragraph of their story.

The proposal follows the Board of Commissioners decision to hire four new deputies last year: two to patrol the fire-ravaged areas of the McKenzie Valley, and two for the sparsely populated western part of the county. The Mohawk Valley proposal would add an additional deputy for the region that stretches from the northern edge of Springfield to the Linn County line.

This is a map of the proposed law enforcement district that would encompass the Mohawk Valley north of Springfield. I am obligated to tell you that I took this map straight from the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

The LCSO has existing contracts that dedicate deputies to the towns of Veneta and Creswell.

According to the proposal, the average property owner in the Mohawk Valley would expect to pay approximately $200 per year in taxes for the dedicated deputy. If the proposal were in effect today, the department would collect roughly $182,000 in revenue.

County Commissioner Heather Buch, who represents the Mohawk Valley, voiced strong support for the plan.

The LCSO is pushing for the proposal to be put on the May ballot. There will be opportunities to comment on the proposal at the upcoming Board of Commissioners meetings on Feb. 9 and 16.

City May or May Not Leave the Unhoused Alone, Maybe

The City of Eugene, which has been sweeping unhoused camps against COVID-19 guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control, kinda sorta agreed to leave the camp in Washington-Jefferson Park alone.

Thanks to public pressure, city officials promised not to sweep the camp, except for those “not in compliance” with their adjusted urban camping guidelines, which are numerous and vague.

According to the adjusted guidelines, the city will not take action against an unhoused camp if:

  • “Camp site supports public health and safety by following physical distancing guidelines:
    • Tents are 12 feet apart from individuals not in the camper’s pod
    • It is possible for the public to reasonably maintain six feet of distance from the person camping and their property at all times.
  • Camp maintains public access to sidewalks, paths, transit stations, restrooms or building entrances. 
  • Camp maintains clean and healthy spaces with no significant garbage or debris.
  • Camp is safe with no evidence of conspicuous drug use: uncapped, used hypodermic needles or other paraphernalia that could be a health hazard to other community members are not permitted.
  • There are no Eugene Police Department verified reports of criminal behavior.
  • Camp site is not negatively impacting properties adjacent to parks.
    • Examples include blocking sidewalks, loud noise, aggressive dogs, threatening behavior, public indecency. 
  • Camp site is not negatively affecting nearby business activities.
    • Examples include blocking sidewalks, loud noise, aggressive dogs, threatening behavior, public indecency.  
  • Camp site is not disturbing vegetation.
  • Camp site is not damaging or preventing maintenance of park infrastructure.”

Any camp not in compliance with these guidelines will be cleared by city officials and/or police officers with roughly 48 hours notice.

The announcement comes as Eugene enters the roughest part of its winter rainy season. Nighttime temperatures have hovered around freezing throughout the last two weeks, and the constant threat of rain and frost makes things dangerous for people living outdoors. 

Local mutual aid groups, including Black Thistle Street Aid, C.O.R.E., and Occupy Medical have been working closely with the unhoused population to distribute food, medical supplies, and other gear to mitigate the more severe effects of the pandemic on Eugene’s unhoused people.

Last year, the city blamed a surge in the unhoused population in Eugene on their decision not to enforce camping bans during the COVID-19 pandemic, and not, you know, the economic impacts of the pandemic.

CAHOOTS gets profiled by Roy Wood, Jr.

It’s always nice when Eugene makes the news for something positive. It’s a goofy story, but how often do you get to hear someone from Eugene say “white fragility” on national TV?

Kidnapping Rumors Spook Locals; Police Somehow Make It Worse

This week, posts and videos on various social media sites alleged that one or more kidnappings had taken place in the area around the University of Oregon campus. Supposed eyewitnesses reported hearing screaming female voices and a white van with blacked out windows.

So far, there’s little evidence beyond witness accounts that any kidnappings took place – but that didn’t stop the Eugene Police Department from making things worse.

It is still unclear what the hell is happening.

“Inmate Who Contracted COVID-19 In Jail Questions Safety Measures”

I hate to link directly to a KEZI story, but since it helps illuminate the continuing failure of law enforcement officials to mitigate the spread of the virus in the jail, it’s still worth sharing.

Governor Brown says gyms and movie theaters can open

In a limited capacity, of course. 

From OPB:

“The new modifications allow for a maximum of six people indoors at facilities over 500 square feet. The business must follow cleaning protocols and people will be required to social distance and wear a facemask. For facilities smaller than 500 square feet, the modified guidance allows for one to one customer experiences, such as personal training.”

New Stuff from DSM

“The initiative calls for Oregon’s state legislature to provide $57 million annually for the DTRSF, which is projected to be paid for completely by redirected cannabis tax revenue. Therefore, state school funds, pre-existing health and substance treatment funds, and Oregon police funds will all take a significant hit.”

Nathan Bouquet

In his first story for DSM, Nathan Bouquet explored the financial impact of Oregon’s impending decriminalization of drugs and what it means for public services.

“[Deacon] Frost’s plight was no different than every openly queer high schooler and every organization advocating for queer rights, they all and we all just wanted the respect and equality that we’re entitled to.”

Janusz Malo

And in their latest article–and the first of their yet-to-be titled column–Janusz Malo looks back at the pop culture icons that helped them discover and embrace their gender and sexuality.

Programming Notes:

Tomorrow, Jan. 30, the DSM crew is holding a marathon livestream to raise money for our ongoing body armor fundraiser. We’ve got a twelve hour schedule planned out, which includes: 

  • Nathan making hot wings
  • James talking about both KISS and chemical munitions
  • David playing a jump-scare horror game
  • John playing Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Chance playing guitar
  • Janusz talking about Avatar: the Last Airbender
  • and–in what’s probably our most irresponsible segment–Janusz getting a tattoo from me.

If you’re interested in donating to our fundraiser, check out our GoFundMe here.

And subscribe to our Twitch channel here to get notified every time we go live!

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