Wondering what to get for that special someone who has everything?
The Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles plans to sell off an Oregon thunderegg that's four feet across and one of the largest in the world at at an auction on Dec. 6.
Indians believed gods threw thundereggs at each other from mountaintops. White men later made it Oregon's official rock. This one from the Blue Mountains will set you back an estimated $100,000 to $125,000.
If that's too pricey for your Christmas gift budget, Bonhams is also auctioning a 70-lb. piece of fossilized dinosaur dung for $1,800-$2,400 on the same day.
The massive piece of crapolite (or caprolite as they say in Greek) could serve "as an intriguing and amusing conversation piece," according to the auction house.
Is the state freedom of information law free?
No, the Oregon Attorney General's office charges $25 a pop for the public's document and has refused to put a free download online.
UO Economics Professor Bill Harbaughâ€”a longtime critic of UO athletic and administrative spending and affirmative actionâ€”didn't like that. So he scanned the whole AG manual on the law and put it on his blog.
Harbaugh says the AG office claimed it, not the public, owned the public document on how to get public documents.
So will the AG go after Harbaugh for alleged copyright infringement? The professor doubts it. And the records may be virtually out of the AG's barn. Harbaugh says hundreds have downloaded the document and several sites have now also posted it (here's one mirror.)
Harbaugh's action has called big attention to the failure of Oregon's public records law to actually deliver public records. The public record liberation drew hundreds of outraged comments on the widely read slashdot.org. The Oregonian also blogged the freedom of infromation action.
Journalists and other reformers have been trying to push new Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to follow up on campaign promises and address long delays, exorbitant charges and legal maneuvering that bureaucrats have for decades used to keep the public in the dark. So far Kroger hasn't acted.
Locally, the city of Eugene has a long history of blocking freedom of information with outrageous fees. In a digital age when video, audio, images and text are searchable in a blink and whisk over the internet in seconds, the city still charges $10 for a two page police report and $10 for a one minute recording of a 911 call. The city even wants the public to pay inflated wages for city employee or private attorney time spent trying to hide public records or make them harder to get. Of course, the city will ream citizens with all the PR spin they can bear for free.
The city of Eugene charges appear to violate state law requiring governments only charge their actual cost of providing records, but the attorney general doesn't enforce the law.
At the county level, the Lane Council of Governments shadow government used taxpayer money to create an extensive mapable database (RLID) of home values, sales, taxes, liens, deeds, demographic, zoning and other data. But if taxpayers want access to the public records, they have to pay $200 plus $1,080 a year for a subscription to the public information they ostensibly already own.
As founding father James Madison wrote:
"A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both."
As Harbaugh pointed out, Oregon's freedom of information law is a farce.
Two UO students have won prizes in a short video contest for college students.
Rebecca Purice won a $3,000 first prize for a video about the First Place Family Center in Eugene and a homeless single dad. Here's the video:
Lorie Anne Acio of the UO won third for a video about a Special Olympics coach and also an honorable mention for another film about a ministry for homeless kids.
The Christophers is a non-profit that "uses the mass media to encourage individuals to use their God-given abilities to change the world for the better."
Here's a slideshow of the Eugene Celebration parade:
While Portland and other cities are putting forward innovative bike and transit friendly transportation projects for a $1.5-billion pot of flexible, green-oriented federal stimulus funds, Eugene only wants yet more roads.
One $38-million project would saturate the city with bike lanes and separated trails to serve as a national model of green transportation to fight global warming and increase livability. Here's a draft map:
Another $17 million grant application would build a bike trail from Portland to the foothills of Mt. Hood, allowing city-dwellers non-motorized access to the scenic area. The rest of the money would fund improved pedestrian and bike access to light rail stations.
Other cities have also put together innovative green transportation proposals for the rare pot of non-freeway centered federal transportation money. For example, Kansas City wants a trolley and Washington, D.C. a bike sharing program.
But in Eugene/Springfield the focus is on more road construction, according to a memo from the local LCOG planning agency. The city of Eugene wants to reconstruct Highway 99 with another turn lane at Roosevelt and added driveways and resurface 5th Avenue and add a roundabout to accommodate industrial truck traffic in west Eugene. Springfield wants to widen Franklin into a boulevard concept that will include EmX transit lanes but not lined bike lanes.
Portland Metro spent the summer soliciting ideas in a public process to come up with its green list. But LCOG's dirtier, non-innovative transportation stimulus ideas apparently came solely from secret meetings within the undemocratic agency's unelected bureaucracy.
Long dreamed local green transportation projects that didn't make LCOG's dirty list include:
- A river bike path and bridge all the way to Mt. Pisgah.
- A trolley down Willamette Street.
- Bike lanes, wide sidewalks, trees and pedestrian crossings on south Willamette Street.
- Extending the riverfront bike path through Glenwood.
- A bike bridge over Beltline to Chad Drive.
- A separated cycletrack (bike path) down High Street connecting the Amazon trail to the riverfront trail.
- A dramatic expansion of Eugene's bike lane system.
- Funding to accelerate the buildout of the EmX system into west and north Eugene.
If you missed the Duck game, here's the highlight (or lowlight):
The city of Eugene is planning to spend $16 million to move its police to a new headquarters across the river from most crime.
Here's a map from a website the police department uses to map their crime data. The map shows violent crimes since March. The blue arrow depicts where the police headquarters is now (red dot) and where City Manager Jon Ruiz is planning to move it.
Looks like former Mayor Jim Torrey did a commercial on KVAL:
Maybe progressives were right that he was deaf to their concerns. It could be worse. Here's a commercial by another has been Republican: