• The debate over elected vs. appointed auditors continues, and adding to the discussion last week was a nationally recognized expert on city auditors who spoke at Harris Hall. Gary Blackmer, retired director of audits for the state of Oregon and the city of Portland, laid out his strong support for the elected auditor Ballot Measure 20-283. He was critical of the competing city-sponsored measure to create an appointed auditor, saying the “auditor-lite” proposal has little authority to investigate, no secure whistleblower hotline, and is underfunded — not likely to attract the best candidates. “You get what you pay for,” he says. However, the biggest problem with the appointed auditor, Blackmer says, is a lack of independence. An appointed auditor would be under the oversight of a council-appointed citizen committee that has “built-in conflicts of interest.” Such a power structure violates auditing standards and best practices, he says.
• Lots of chatter after the City Club of Eugene April 19 meeting in which four candidates stood in front of the mikes and argued their qualifications for East Lane county commissioner, District 5. That was James Barber, Heather Buch, Tim Laue and Kevin Matthews. Gary Williams, who as the incumbent is certainly one of the strongest candidates, did not appear. Nor did Frank King. Williams was appointed by the Lane County Commission when Faye Stewart retired from his seat. Williams is the former mayor of Cottage Grove and a popular guy in District 5. Williams is too conservative for us and a formidable candidate, but it says a lot when a candidate doesn’t show up.
• Wait! The trustees of the University of Oregon should take a careful look at the Nike proposal for a new Hayward Field — the size, relationship to the rest of the campus, parking, traffic, loss of history and tradition, fidelity to Oregon track and Bill Bowerman’s memory and ethic and more. We have no illusions that the trustees will turn down the investment that plan proposes, but they do represent all aspects of this educational institution and could propose some major changes.
• At about 8:15 pm April 23 we watched in awe as hundreds, maybe thousands of Vaux’s swifts dove into the old chimney behind Agate Hall on Agate Street. They circled the sky, swooped and finally tumbled in for the night. We don’t know how many evenings this show will last before the swifts migrate away. Urban legend is that Chris Ramey, who was a University of Oregon architect and grew up in the neighborhood, saved the chimney for the birds. It has no other use. Isn’t that a nice story about honoring history and nature in this place where we live!
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• Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, a journalist whose work has appeared in Eugene Weekly, lays out the strongest and clearest case we’ve yet to see against President Donald Trump in an interview published this week in Salon. Johnston has covered Trump for three decades; he calls the president a career criminal whose election resulted from the nation’s obsession with celebrity, from Hillary Clinton’s tone-deaf campaign and, we’re sorry to say, from complacent national media. “As for the Russians, it is beyond dispute at this point that the Trump campaign was actively involved in a conspiracy,” he says.
• What if Eugene ends up with two auditors? Proponents of the city-backed “auditor-lite” Measure 20-287 say that couldn’t happen because the city charter gives victory to the measure getting more votes when “two conflicting measures” are both approved at the same election. But where’s the conflict? The two ballot measures to be voted on next month propose completely different auditors, one elected and the other appointed, with different staffs and different budgets. Eugene’s new motto could be “The World’s Most-Audited City of the Arts and Outdoors.”
• On April 24, the Eugene City Council renamed Westmoreland Community Center in south Eugene for longtime UO prof Edwin Coleman Sr. and Royal Elizabeth Park in west Eugene’s Bethel area after Eugene’s first Latina city councilor, Andrea Ortiz. Good! We are long overdue in recognizing the contributions of people of color in this town!