Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Bare-assed for Peace
Morning Glory employees get naked for a calendar and a cause.
Is there enough fraud to challenge the outcome?
Happening Person: Joy Marshall
WILLAMETTE WARM, POOPY
The Willamette River has reached its limit in the amount of warm, poopy pollution Eugene sewers and others have dumped into it, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
After years of delay, the DEQ has finally complied with the Clean Water Act and published draft rules limiting the amount of total pollution the Willamette can bear and still be fishable, swimmable and a source of drinking water. The Willamette is too polluted by warm water that fish hate, along with bacteria and mercury, according to DEQ. Portions of 12 stretches and tributaries of the Willamette also are too polluted with arsenic, muddy water, dissolved oxygen and toxics such as DDT. In response, DEQ has proposed limits (called TMDLs) on the amount of additional pollution put in the river.
The proposed regulations could mean tougher regulations for local polluters including the local sewer plant. According to a memo, the sewer plant may have to increase the amount of sewage it sprays on its tree farm to reduce discharge temperatures and look at regulating mercury dischargers such as dental clinics. The city may have to better control stormwater (which mixes with sewage in rainstorms) to reduce bacteria.
Comments on the DEQ draft rules are due by Jan. 14. Call (800) 452-4011 for information. — Alan Pittman
REFUSENIKS TO SPEAK
Two Israeli "refuseniks," or conscientious objectors, are coming to the UO. They will discuss the possibility of a U.S. draft and citizens' ability to refuse military service in the context of Israel's mandatory military service policy.
High school students Noam Bahat and Shimri Zamaret were imprisoned for 640 days for their refusal to serve in the Israeli military.
"I refuse, since I know too many people who were killed in the terror," Zamaret explained in an Israeli court. "The government, using the army in order to preserve the settlements, enabled these deaths to occur."
Bahat agreed. "Every time an Israeli or Palestinian child is shot," he stated, "our conscience gets a bullet straight in the heart."
Carol Van Houten of the Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC), one of the event's sponsors, said that the event is important for two reasons. "One is that for young people, there is the issue that they may be facing in the future about a draft here in the United States. These two young men have a very thoughtful perspective on why they made the decisions they did. The second reason is that peace between Palestinians and Israelis is really key to peace in the Middle East."
This free event is co-sponsored by the UO Cultural Forum and the Committee for Countering Military Recruitment, with support from the Refusers Solidarity Network, the American Friends Service Committee and Progressive Responses. It will be held twice on Friday, Nov. 19: at Cozmic Pizza on 8th and Charnelton at 5:30 pm, and in Columbia 150 on the UO campus at 7:30 pm. —Kera Abraham
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
A decade ago, the county and state were gripped with fear about juvenile crime. The hysteria culminated in the passage of state Measure 11 to try kid criminals as adults and with stiff sentences in 1994 and the passage of a $38 million county measure to triple the size of the local juvenile jail in 1995.
But now, the kid crime crisis has evaporated. Juvenile crime has fallen dramatically in Lane County over the past five years. The kid crime rate fell 18 percent from 1999 to 2003, according to Lane County data. The drop mirrors a similar fall in juvenile crime rates statewide. — Alan Pittman
RACIST ACTION IN W. EUGENE
Barb Ryan, who lives in the 18th and City View area, came home from a trip Nov. 7 to find a swastika spray-painted onto the peace sign on her lawn. Ryan suspected that her yard was targeted because of other indicators of her politics: a No on 36 sign, a Kerry for President sign, and a rainbow decal on her car.
Ryan acted quickly, reporting the hate crime to Eugene police, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Temple Beth Israel and CALC (Community Alliance of Lane County).
"I feel violated and threatened, a little bit scared and a little bit angry, and unsafe," Ryan said. "So I got another peace sign, notified my neighbors, called the police, and
didn't take it silently. The community response was really good."
Ryan's neighbor, Nancy Wallace, reported that her peace sign, too, was defaced with two swastikas and the word "Bush." "I decided to bring the sign inside to use it as a meditation on healing the spirit of whoever was acting in that way, and I wrote to President Bush about how this was an example of how his name was being put in the same context as swastikas," Wallace said. "I wanted to convey to him that I wanted him to unite, rather than divide us."
The vandalism comes in the wake of other hateful acts in Eugene. West Eugene neighborhood residents have complained about hate literature in their mailboxes, and racist fliers have been posted around town. Eugene police are asking residents to report any instances of hate crimes by calling the EPD at 982-5111 and the Eugene Human Rights Commission at 682-5177. — Kera Abraham
OPENING UP THE HOUSE
The House has been a well-kept secret since it opened on Oct. 1, but maybe that's because the underground (literally) entrance on the corner of Broadway and Oak is a little hard to find. Once you find your way downstairs, you'll be in a whole new kind of venue. "A lot of places seem to be booking bands repetitively," says the manager of wait staff, Courtney Pine, "so we're trying to be different and more flexible."
If different is the goal, The House (located below The House of Teriyaki) has succeeded. The bands that play there cover almost any genre you can think of; metal bands play on Mondays, local groups/DJs usually book the weekends, and Thursday's open mic hosts everything from bluegrass to tap dancing. The folks who run things are open to all genres, which gives newer artists a chance.
Owner Ty Yammamoto has big plans for both the club and the restaurant with formal dinning, live music and a VIP room complete with go-go dancers. Right now, the traditional Japanese cuisine is set up for catering, but keep your taste buds alert because rumor has it that Yammamoto's traditional handmade won tons are going to be worth the wait for the dining room to open. — Christine Mathias
JUDGE RULES ON ARRESTS
In what is seen as an important victory for civil rights, Curry County Circuit Court Judge Hugh C. Downer ruled Oct. 27 that an Oregon law "Interfering with Agricultural Operations" was unconstitutional as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, according to Eugene attorney Lauren Regan of the The Civil Liberties Defense Center.
Regan says the ruling came as a surprise to defendant Sarah Sabol, a young woman who was arrested for interfering with agricultural operations while protesting the Biscuit Timber Sale in the Siskiyou National Forest in Curry County. The disputed law has been on the books since it passed the Legislature in 1999.
"We are pleased with the court's order and hope that this illegal and unconstitutional statute will never be used to silence protestors again" says Regan, "Our constitutional rights will continue to thrive as a result of decisions like that of Judge Downer."
The court ruled that "the motion is decided on the issue of Equal Protection. Defendant raised the issue based on the exception in the statute which makes it inapplicable to an individual involved in a labor dispute. What that exception has done is make the determination of what is illegal conduct based on the content of what the individual has to say when disrupting an agricultural operation. This violates the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution."
This week we're doing something shocking and outrageous for a cover story, giving voice to a mainstream Eugene church that offers a hopeful message for the future. Jesus as an institution is getting crucified again in this election cycle as religion takes on a major role in politics, further dividing the nation. At both the state and national levels, fundamentalist Christians have been rallied to vote for a narrow "moral" agenda that has nothing to do with issues of the economy, environment, education, social justice and foreign policy that plague our nation. Politicians and preachers are screaming about same-sex marriage while ignoring poverty, injustice and corruption — and damaging their credibility in the process. Meanwhile, the debate over religion in politics is ignoring the millions of religious people who embrace the broader values of tolerance and inclusiveness. Fortunately, positive examples are all around us here in Lane County. The sermon by the Rev. Greg Flint is just one.
Anyone paying attention now knows that the November election was seriously flawed in both access to voting and the counting of ballots, and it appears that the majority of the "errors" favored Republican candidates. But are there enough skewed votes to alter the results of the presidential election? We hear unsubstantiated reports that the Kerry campaign is quietly investigating, and if enough evidence is found, may yet challenge the outcome of the election.
The City Club of Eugene program Nov. 12 was on media bias — a great topic for City Club, but a peculiar panel. Not invited was EW. We are the only major press in the valley that readily admits its bias ("Sometimes unfair, rarely balanced"), and regularly reports on bias in other media. But the larger omission was to not include one of several UO journalism professors who are nationally recognized experts on ethics in journalism. Regardless, was it a useful discussion at City Club? Send us your biased assessment.
The mass media have reported daily on the assault on Fallujah as though it were a football game, and we see sanitized film clips on the evening news, sometimes the same clips over and over again as though only one videographer was close to the action — and not very close. We see people picking through wreckage, soldiers hiding behind walls shooting at distant targets, or kicking down doors. What we don't see is what our soldiers see, the images that are burned into their memories to haunt them the rest of their lives. If you can handle the grim reality of war, visit http://fallujapictures.blogspot.com The site is a collection of photographs from numerous sources showing piles of bodies, the faces of the dead, hospital scenes with wounded men, women and children, and freshly dug graveyards. It's nothing like a football game, and while there might be heroes, there are no winners.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bare-assed for Peace
Morning Glory employees get naked for a calendar and a cause.
BY MELISSA BEARNS
Going buff for a good cause is nothing new. Lady Godiva (as myth has it) rode through the streets of Coventry, England, naked on horseback in support of the arts. In 2002 Zambian women bared breasts to protest political corruption. Locally The Men of the Long Tom Grange made headlines when they dropped their drawers to raise money for local schools.
Now the employees of Morning Glory Café at 450 Willamette are joining this famous and infamous set with their new 2005 calendar "Power to the Peaceful," a fund raiser for Eugene PeaceWorks. All 14 employees and café owner Gail Brown pose nude in the 12 artsy, black and white photos. The calendar is marked with politically relevant dates such as "800,000 rally for disarmament in New York City (June 12, 1982)," and "Earth First! Activist Judi Bari born (Nov. 6, 1941)."
Each employee had complete artistic freedom to pick his or her pose and the images reflect the humor and diversity of the Morning Glory Café staff. The shots range from tastefully vanilla to a few that are sure to raise some eyebrows.
For example, the February calendar "girls" stand naked in a pose that could be construed as sexually suggestive. October features a man dressed in little more than a few leather straps, a dog collar and stockings straddling a motorcycle in a scene reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But the shot most likely to stir up some debate and commentary is June's calendar girl, an image of a woman standing with her wrists bound above her head and two of those spoon-like tea holders clamped to her nipples.
Was Harmony, the staff member who posed for that shot, worried it might offend some people?
"I would definitely consider myself a feminist," she said. "My response is that I'm portraying an aspect of playing with power and domination which very much has to do with my own personal choice. The ability to work with dominant and submissive roles in a sexual context is really empowering and healing for me, especially since our culture has systems of oppression built into it. This is a way for me of processing that."
But really, the employees EW spoke to don't want any of the pictures to be misconstrued as a political or social statement. The only thing political about this calendar, they said, is that it exists to support an organization dedicated to working for peace.
"I also want to say that my photo is just for fun," Harmony said. "I wasn't thinking about being political, I was just feeling kind of feisty that day and wanted to do something that reflected my personality."
Sahara, who works as a cook and a server, poses in another eye-catching photo where she and another women stand facing each other across a table, both holding very large knives.
She said figuring out what to do for the photo was "nerve-wracking." Now that the calendar is out, she said it's also a little weird to have customers flipping through it, picking out the different servers working that day.
Was she worried about people's reactions to her cutting edge image?
"Everyone's going to have their own opinion about what's the right thing to do," she said. "I say, to each their own. People don't have to buy it. There's a fine line between art and sensuality and porn and that line is different for everyone. I feel that this calendar is more on the artistic side."
Most of the money for the project was donated and local photographer Kurt Jensen donated his time shooting the images and got some free meals for his time. He also has a personal reason for getting involved: A month ago his brother shipped off to Iraq. They printed 500 copies of the calendar. It sells for $12 at the café, which is open from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm The proceeds from the calendar will be donated to Eugene PeaceWorks.
"I think it's hilarious," said Eugene PeaceWorks Board member Phil Weaver. "I thought it was very gutsy and that the pictures are very funny. Leave it to Eugene and the Morning Glory to take it a step further."
Is there enough fraud to challenge the outcome?
BY KATE ROGERS GESSERT
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected." — Thomas Paine
As a rural precinct worker, I combed the Crow-Lorane valley for Kerry supporters. Nov. 3 was a day of grief, but the next morning I read "Kerry Won," an article by Greg Palast, a respected investigative reporter. My first joyful thought was that maybe a majority of Americans hadn't really voted for Bush.
As it turns out, the situation is muddy. Maybe Kerry won Ohio, Florida and/or New Mexico, maybe not, but what's becoming clear is that extensive recounts and audits will be necessary to reassure voters about an election with so many disturbing, sometimes startling, problems and discrepancies.
Until the Electoral College votes Dec. 13, no one is officially the next president. I believe that if the Democratic Party leadership wants people to work as volunteers in the future — even just bother to vote — it must take a strong role now in defending the efforts so many Americans made both to vote and to help others vote. As Congressman Kucinich writes, "We must pursue every lead that raises questions about the integrity of the electoral process. Our work may not change the outcome, but it will demonstrate that beyond our commitment to our candidates, we have a higher commitment to our democracy."
Last week Diana Abernathey, a Eugene field organizer for MoveOn in the recent election, e-mailed people she thought would be concerned about voting irregularities. On less than a day's notice, 60 people crowded a room in the Atrium. On Friday scores of people gathered to present petitions to Congressman DeFazio and Sens. Wyden and Smith, urging them to "initiate an independent investigation and ballot audit into possible election fraud."
Saturday a small group of us stood on Coburg Road where cars left the highway for the Ducks game, holding a banner that read "Presidential Election Dishonors Democracy." Many motorists swung their eyes away from us. People gave us the finger and yelled, "Get over it!" A blond-haired woman screamed, "Four more years! WOOOO!" shrieking so loudly that a small dog in her lap leapt into the air. Many passersby gave a courteous "No, thanks," to the handout I offered. Others said, "Oh, yes!" reaching out quickly with relief in their faces.
Here are recent developments:
11/15: There will be a recount and close examination of ballots in Ohio. Common Cause Ohio and Alliance for Democracy are raising money. Losing candidates can request a recount for
$10 a precinct, so Green and Libertarian Party candidates made the request. (www.thealliancefordemocracy.org)´ 11/12: Bush's lead over Kerry narrowed to 6,800 votes in New Mexico after initial counts of provisional ballots were included. (Ralph Nader asked for hand-recounting of ballots in New Hamsphire, where a state recount costs only $2,000 and Bush led by 5 to 15 unanticipated percentage points in counties where Diebold optical-scan machines counted votes.)
11/11: Kerry campaign lawyers compiled 30 questions for Ohio election officials. (A recount began in Franklin County, Ohio, where optical-scan machines had counted straight-party Democratic votes as Libertarian.)
11/10: Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell ordered that any of Ohio's 155,000 provisional ballots — with a likely majority for Kerry — must be rejected if they omit voters' dates of birth, which were not required at election time. New Ohio votes can still come from absentee ballots, provisional ballots, and computer errors.
Researchers are arguing over how 11/2 evening exit polls could predict a 3 percent Kerry win that became a 3 percent Bush win, and why Florida counties with optical-scan equipment — but not counties with other devices — had so many Democrats voting for Bush. One third of U.S. voters used the new electronic voting machines. Reports of votes added and deleted, more votes cast than registered voters, screens that don't register Kerry votes, and provisional ballots wrongly disqualified, continue to appear. These events consistently favor Bush, with disproportionate numbers of problems for poor and minority voters.
What can we do? Stay informed and talk with friends. Write and call Senators Wyden and Smith, Reps. DeFazio of Oregon and Kucinich, Tubbs Jones, and Kaptur of Ohio, all at (800) 839-5276. Ask them to join John Conyers and other members of Congress who have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the voting machines and new technologies used in the election. E-mail the Democratic Party at www.democrats.org to demand they head a rigorous investigation. Sign the online petition at www.moveon.org. Join a meeting of concerned citizens at the Atrium at 6:30 pm Monday Nov. 22 (www.botworks.com/~tiv or info truthinvoting.org).
As the daughter of a Unitarian minister in Birmingham, Mich., Joy Marshall grew up walking picket lines. "By age 6 or 7, I was aware of social issues," she recalls. "Civil rights, women's rights, farm worker issues." After college at the University of Michigan, Marshall spent three years teaching middle school in Chicago — "the hardest job in the world!" Only later, when she was waiting tables, did she find her calling. "God sent me a labor organizer, Barbara Lewis," she says. "I found what I was meant to do — fight for economic justice." Marshall's first paid political work was on Mayor Harold Washington's reelection campaign. Following three years with Citizen Action in Chicago, she moved to Eugene in 1990 and worked three years with Oregon Fair Share before taking a break to care for daughters Maggie and Claire. "I still worked part-time on various campaigns," she notes. "Raising the minimum wage in '96 was the proudest moment of my life." Marshall returned to full-time work three years ago. She currently serves as director of Oregon Stand for Children (www.stand.org), credited with successful school-funding campaigns in Eugene and Portland this year.