Two weeks ago, EW wrote about the potential of guerrilla gardening in Eugene as a way for citizens to rise up and overthrow the urban blight left downtown by failed city redevelopment projects.

This week the San Francisco Bay Guardian writes about how guerrilla gardening has taken off in San Francisco with backing even from public works bureaucrats and the mayor.

The paper writes of the transformative power of even temporary green space:

"When people see parking spaces turned into parks, vacant lots blossoming with art and conversation nooks, or old freeway ramps turned into community gardens, their sense of what's possible in San Francisco expands."

San Francisco is converting parking spaces to miniparks, restaurant seating or bike parking. Black granite cubes removed in the 1970s out of fear the homeless might sit on them are being taken out of storage and put back in public spaces. With many vacant lots in the down economy, the city is looking at giving developers incentives if they will allow temporary parks and gardens.

But the coolest thing out of San Francisco may be this pedal powered green machine that instantly converts a parking space into a park:

Hey y'all! I'm at the Mayor's Art Show, and I'm going to try to use CoverItLive to get this underway ... Rick Dancer is hosting the event, which, what?

In her fifth state of the city speech tonight, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy called for tapping into the Obama federal stimulus package, an Economic Summit, discussion of an in-house city attorney, locating a solar panel factory at the abandoned Hynix plant and hinted at possible tax measures for more jail beds, crime prevention and affordable housing.

Here's some key excerpts from Piercy's speech to a standing-room crowd of more than 300 people in the Hult Center lobby:

  • "Eugene has a list of over $200 million in 'ready to go' projects that fit the stimulus criteria...We expect these projects, if funded, could create 4,404 well-paying jobs by the end of next year--with an emphasis on green industry."

  • Piercy called for an Economic Summit early this year. She called for "more jobs that pay well" and decreasing "our impact on climate change and finite resources." The mayor said, "Moving from Hynix to solar is our community goal."

  • "We cannot have this revolving door in our jail, and a court system that cannot do its job. While our city is still rated one of the safest, this won't continue if the system is not fixed. Eugene voters will support specific, balanced and accountable solutions that are not simply a forwarding of failed policies."

  • "The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee to finance Homelessness and Housing Programs will report its recommendations to the council on January 26. It will then be important for a larger community discussion to occur about the steps this community is willing to take to reduce the numbers and ensure that more citizens have basic needs met, including treatment programs, mental health care and shelter options. It will not be cheap."

  • "The City Manager has stated that he will examine whether or not an in-house city attorney makes good governance sense for a city of our size and complexity, and will be seeking input from the city council as part of his analysis."

The Eugene police union attacked Mayor Piercy's last state of the city address as a “bizarre,” “three-ringed circus” for focusing on environmental issues. This year, Piercy included an award to a group of violent crimes police detectives as part of the ceremony.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy appears likely to win a narrow re-election victory.

With about three-fourths of the vote counted at 7 pm, Piercy’s lead over Jim Torrey had widened from less than one percent to two percent, a few hundred votes to 1,363.

With the dwindling number of late counted ballots apparently favoring Piercy, it appears mathematically unlikely that Torrey will be able to make up the deficit.

Lane County Elections will release it’s next results, what appears likely to be a near complete vote count, by 10 am Thursday.

Lane County Elections will start reporting results after about 8:30 pm on their website.

The pivotal close races to watch are the Democrat Kitty Piercy v. Jim Torrey mayor showdown and the close race for the north Eugene Lane County commissioner seat between conservative Bobby Green and progressive Rob Handy.

The magic number for Piercy/Torrey may be 34,060. That’s 50 percent of those who voted in a city election in November 2004.

The magic number for Handy/Green may be 15,663. That’s 50 percent of those who voted in a contested county commissioner race in November 2004.

But the number of voters this year appears likely to be higher. Students say they have registered thousands of new voters at the UO. A high student turnout could help progressive Piercy.

Lane County reports a 2.5 percent increase in voter registrations compared to 2004. If turnout equals the 91 percent for the county in 2004, the Piercy/Torrey magic number could inflate to 34,898. The Handy/Green magic number could inflate to 16,048.

In May 2008, the county had counted about 60 percent of the votes in Eugene by 9 pm. Judging from May, late votes may favor progressives Piercy and Handy.

Piercy and Torrey were nearly even at 9 pm in May, but in the unofficial final results available the next day, Piercy was ahead by almost 800 votes or about 2 percent.

In May Handy lead Green by about 2 percent at 9 pm. In the unofficial final results the next day, Handy had a lead of about 4 percent.

Both races went to a runoff because no one had more than 50 percent.

Torrey and Handy may have a slight edge based on the May results.

If the 4 percent of voters who voted for two other conservative candidates in May had instead voted for conservative Torrey, he would have won with 51 percent.

If the 6 percent of voters who voted for two other candidates critical of Green in May had instead voted for Handy, Handy would have won with 55 percent.

Another factor for Piercy may be The Register-Guard. The paper inexplicably reversed its May endorsement of her to Torrey and has largely buried or not reported in depth news of Torrey’s huge contributions from gravel pit and development interests.

Could Kitty Piercy get an endorsement from Barack Obama in the tight Eugene mayor's race?

Sure, Obama is a little busy right now. But he did do an ad endorsing Jeff Merkley for Senate after Republican Gordon Smith ran misleading ads trying to cozy up to Obama for votes.

Piercy's opponent, erstwhile Republican Jim Torrey, has also tried to cozy up to Obama, using the same "yes we can" slogan.

While he was running as a conservative Republican against State Senator Vicki Walker two years ago, Torrey ran a TV ad cozying to Bill Clinton in an effort to win votes. But the ad backfired and prompted Clinton to endorse Walker.

How did Walker get Clinton to endorse in the local race? The Register-Guard reported, "Walker forwarded the ad to Clinton's New York office. They quickly sent back an endorsement." Simple.

Kitty Piercy now has a TV ad out in the tight mayor's race that describes Jim Torrey as a "right wing Republican."

The folksy ad also notes Torrey's big contribution to George Bush's re-election campaign.

With Jim Torrey running for mayor again, local videographer Tim Lewis has posted a reminder on YouTube of what it was like under Torrey. The video features dramatic footage of the June 1st incident in 1997 in which Eugene police emptied every can of pepper spray they had on non-violent tree sitters standing in the way of the Broadway Place project downtown.

For more information on the event, here's a link to EW's coverage of its 5th-year anniversary:

The city settled a lawsuit by some of the protesters for $30,000 and reduced somewhat the use of pepper spray on non-violent demonstrators. But the city and EPD never apologized or admitted that they did anything wrong. Now EPD is armed with tasers with no ban on using them against demonstrators.

Lewis has also published other videos on YouTube and plans to do more. Search the site for "picture Eugene."

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