Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
How Eugene split in November.
The Paradox of Race
The first in EW's new Q&A series on race in Eugene.
UO STUDENTS FORM NEW PEACE GROUP
After a year without an active student peace group on the UO campus, Students for Change (SfC) has emerged. The founding members are students from UO instructor Chuck Hunt's sociology class. With support from the campus Survival Center, about 40 students wrote a mission statement, launched a website and made SfC public last week.
"My personal opinion is that we're not specifically an anti-war group, but a peace group," says SfC member Cole Robinson. "There are a lot of roads to peace, and I would like to examine those roads."
On Dec. 2, SfC held its first anti-war rally at the EMU Amphitheater on the UO campus. Several hundred people showed up and marched down 13th Avenue, some carrying signs with anti-war slogans.
SfC is planning another protest for Jan. 20 at the EMU Amphitheater. Participants will march to the Federal Building to protest President Bush's inauguration. Later that evening, SfC will host a benefit concert. For more information, visit www.students4change.org — Kera Abraham
PROBING THE ELECTION
Despite the lack of news in the mainstream media about election fraud in the U.S., developments continue on several fronts. Below is an update gathered from numerous sources:
More than 37,000 complaints have been filed so far about the 2004 election. During November, voters, poll workers, and precinct judges in Ohio spoke at public hearings, giving testimony on withheld ballots and voting machines, rigged electronic equipment, harassment, intimidation, official misinformation, and waits of up to nine hours that prevented many people from voting. One woman waited four hours to vote and returned home to find her husband had unexpectedly died.
Election investigations now center in Ohio, where a count of provisional and overseas ballots has reduced Bush's lead from 136,000 to 119,00 votes. Green and Libertarian Party candidates brought a lawsuit for a state recount, with the Kerry-Edwards campaign recently joining them. Volunteers are being trained to help recount Ohio's 88 counties. With the Electoral College scheduled to vote Dec. 13, the recount has been stonewalled by Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.
Once the Electoral College votes, a proposal to challenge election results in key states can be brought by one or more U.S. representatives and one or more senators. In 2000 there were willing representatives but no senator (Remember Fahrenheit 9/11?). People are searching for a senator who will pledge to be the challenger if needed. Congress would then vote on whether to accept election results from the state(s) in question.
On Dec. 3 Green Party lawyers and the National Voting Rights Institute sued Blackwell, alleging he is stalling, and asking that a recount begin immediately and that Blackwell not certify Republican electors for Ohio until the recount is completed.
Greens and Libertarians have also requested a New Mexico recount. The hand recount Ralph Nader initiated in 11 New Hampshire precincts ended Nov. 30 with no change in results. In New Hampshire, paper ballots had been counted by optical scanners.
Congressman Conyers and other members of the House Judiciary Committee have sent a strongly worded 14-page letter to Blackwell, with 34 questions they want answered by Dec. 10. They are concerned that Ohio election irregularities "constitute a troubled portrait of a one-two punch that may well have altered and suppressed votes, particularly minority and Democratic votes." Conyers has also asked Mitofsky International, which did all presidential-election exit polls, to bring its raw data from Nov. 2 and testify at a congressional forum Dec. 8. This forum will examine "numerous voting irregularities ... reported in Ohio during the 2004 election."
For news, links, and local actions on these issues, visit www.truthinvoting.org — Kate Rogers Gessert
TORTILLAS RICAS Y MUCHO MÁS
A new Latin American supermarket has taken up residence where Craft World used to be, at 1333 W. 7th Ave. near Polk Street. The first market of its kind in Lane County, Productos Latinos features food from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The store also offers a carnicería (meat market), a panadería (bread market), and fresh tortillas prepared in-house by a couple from Salem who have been making tortillas for almost 30 years.
While PL adheres to the general layout of other conventional supermarkets, it has a distinctive Hispanic flavor. Latin American music pumps through the speakers, and the shelves are stocked with salsas, medicines and religious candles. Customers can order fresh-made burritos and tacos from the hot food section.
The store's owner, Samuel Recinos, was born in Guatemala but has lived in the U.S. since age 16. Recinos, who once worked for the Hispanic supermarket chain Gigante, says that Productos Latinos will serve Lane County's estimated 30,000 Latinos and other residents of Eugene and Springfield. Recinos emphasizes a commitment to hiring locals, particularly speakers of Spanish and English. "We want to work with the community," he says.
Productos Latinos is currently open for employee training. The store will celebrate its grand opening in January. — Kera Abraham
A HANUKAH CELEBRATION
Temple Beth Israel will host a Community Hanukah Celebration Saturday, Dec. 11 that will include original and traditional music, singing, dancing, storytelling and a candle-lighting ceremony. Hosts and songwriters Rich Glauber and Rob Tobias will headline this special event — one that will be both traditional and contemporary with an emphasis on fun, according to Glauber.
Kids and family are encouraged to come at 7 pm when Glauber, a multi-instrumentalist, will perform and entertain guest appearances from the Slug Queen, a teenage horn section and more. At 8 pm everyone is welcome to enjoy more songs and dancing as Tobias — singer, songwriter and activist — takes center stage with a little help from some musical guests.
"We are opening up the Temple Beth Israel to the community," Glauber said. "We want to share our traditions, our hopes for the future and our soul with the community at large."
The cost is $3-$5 sliding scale for individuals and $8-$12 for families. Temple Beth Israel is located at 2550 Portland St.
in Eugene. For more information contact Rich Glauber at 242-1001 or firstname.lastname@example.org — Alexandra Arch
NOT TOO FAT, NOT SO SMART
Oregon ranks relatively low in a national survey of obesity published recently, but we're also low in a national analysis of "smart" states, based on education data.
Looking at percentage of obese adults, Oregon ranked 32nd in a study by Trust for America's Health, a non-profit research group. At the top of the fat list was Alabama with 28.4 percent obesity; at the bottom was Colorado with 16 percent. Oregon came in at 21.5 percent. The study was published in WebMD Medical News.
In the brainy ratings, Oregon's 35th ranking was based on a survey of per-pupil expenditures, public high school graduation rates, average class size, student reading and math proficiency, pupil-teacher ratios and other factors. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont took the top three rankings while Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico fell to the bottom of the list. The survey by Morgan Quitno Press was published by cnn.netscape.com
Surveys comparing states for education levels are often discounted by educators as "comparing apples and oranges." Oregon's SAT scores for college entrance in 2002, for example, show Oregon scores 20 points above average in verbal skills and 12 points above average in math skills, but the percentage of students tested varies widely from state to state. Mississippi has very high SAT scores, but only 4 percent of students take the test. Connecticut has low scores, but 83 percent of students take the test. Oregon tested 56 percent of its high school students in 2002 while the nationwide average was 46 percent. — TJT
GRAB THAT TREE AND SHAKE IT
We all like to remember the holidays. You know, like when we all got food poisoning from Grandma's homemade eggnog and spent Christmas wringing ourselves inside out? Remember when the tree became so bone dry that the minute the lights were plugged in it became a giant Roman candle? Ahh, memories …
But to avoid the more painful memories, take a few precautions this holiday season and spend the time intensely caring, not in intensive care.
Christmas trees: Nothing says "the holidays" like feeling the fresh spikes of a healthy tree as the needles dig into your flesh while you try gamely to get the cat out from the branches. Nothing beats the smell of an evergreen in your living room, so go out and hunt that tree down.
There are three methods to tell if a cut tree is fresh: Take a needle off the tree and see if it snaps when you bend it. If it's not flexible (or "sproingy" in medical terms), the tree is too dry, so pass it by. Wrinkled bark on twigs is another indication of a dry tree; and finally, grab the tree and shake it like a Polaroid picture. If the needles fall off like in Charlie Brown's Christmas, keep looking.
Once you have your pet tree home, saw a quarter inch off the bottom to expose fresh tissue. That's like the tree's tongue, and boy is it thirsty! Like Oliver Reed, it can drank quarts upon quarts in a single sitting, so give it plenty. A dry tree is an angry tree, just waiting for its chance to wreak havoc in your home. So keep your tree as cold and wet as possible, which also means away from heating vents and drafty doorways
Homemade foods are a mark of kindness on the part of grandparents, and a badge of courage for those with weak constitutions. Even some of the most traditional holiday offerings can be the causes of food-borne illnesses, like eggnog, made from — you guessed it — eggs! Raw eggs in fact, which can also be found lurking in homemade mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauce, not to mention cookie dough.
OK, so eggnog's out. Now let's eat! Not so fast, Attila. Some cheeses can also be harmful, especially to people with suppressed immune systems. Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk include feta, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses and some others.
No problem. You think you're beginning to feel lactose-intolerant anyway. Bring on the cold plate! Smoked meats, that's the answer. Those things last forever, that's why the pioneers smoked everything! Sure. And they also died at 35. Sorry, even smoked meats, if sold refrigerated, can be risky.
Once you've tossed out scary foods, remember to keep hot things hot and cold things cold until just before serving. Lukewarm, like the reception you get to your poetry readings, makes bacteria frisky.
For more information, contact the Extension Office at 682-4243, or visit http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane — Laird Goodman
The rousing party at the Eugene Public Library last Saturday night felt like the memorial Tom Wiper would have wanted if the choice had been his to make. Nearly 3,000 Eugeneans moseyed through all three floors to talk to local authors and artists and buy their wares. They paid a total of $5,000 for 100 banners made to celebrate the library's first century. They bought raffle tickets and stood in line for Euphoria chocolate sundaes, spending a total of $10,000. But Tom Wiper was not sitting with his wife, Kathy, in his customary party place in the rotunda at the bottom of the stairs. He died earlier this fall at age 61 after a long and crippling illness. Barbara Dellenback, executive director of the EPL Foundation, says without hesitation that this library would not have been built at this time without the leadership of Wiper. As chair of the capital campaign, he relentlessly raised the private funds to match the city's contribution. Soon, Dellenback says, prominent signs will indicate a permanent memorial in the library. The rotunda, centerpiece of the building, will be named the Tom Wiper Rotunda.
Last week we wrote about an upcoming public hearing on the West Eugene Parkway — a rare event in a process that carries on mostly behind closed doors — and here's a final reminder. The hearing before the Metropolitan Policy Committee is from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Eugene Public Library. Want to testify for three minutes? Show up early and get on the list.
We hear the city of Eugene is looking at making a decision soon regarding two or more proposals for redevelopment of an acre of city-owned land downtown. The lot is on the same block as the WOW Hall at 8th and Lincoln. One group of investors is proposing to bulldoze the old Goodwill building and put up a mix of apartments and commercial units. Another group with more modest means wants to save the old building and convert it to low-rent commercial, non-profit offices and business incubator units. Lots of issues for the city to look at: What's the highest and best use of the property? What does downtown really need? Is the old building worth saving after some 15 years of disuse? Can late-night music (aka noise) from WOW Hall be compatible with residents nearby? Can WOW Hall buy the lot behind the facility for parking and access, and still leave adequate room for a redevelopment project? Would heavy construction next door actually damage the WOW Hall's old foundations? This is a good project to watch.
The debate on the role of religion in politics continues as we puzzle over the American psyche and its idiosyncrasies. One voice of clarity and insight is Bill Moyers, who was recently honored by Harvard Medical School with its annual Global Environmental Citizen Award. His response to the award, titled "Battlefield Earth" is well worth reading and can be found at www.alternet.org/story/20666Moyers talks about the strange beliefs of the religious right welcoming destruction of the environment and conflagration in the Middle East. Why worry about global warming, toxics, deforestation and war when it's all part of God's plan as outlined in Revelations? These religious fanatics are currently in charge of our resources and our foreign and domestic policy. Flee to Canada? No way. Let's recruit lefty Canadians, Mexicans and Europeans to emigrate here and join the fight.
Several EW readers have left messages for the editor voicing concern for the governor's budget — the lack of money for education and the gov's push to allow addictive lottery slot machines to raise money for state police. Another reader voiced outrage at Bush's latest plans to protect only a few watersheds that provide habitat for endangered salmon. Hmm. Does the White House chef served farmed salmon? One reader suggested EW do something to support the local radio station that now broadcasts Air America, and we plan to do just that. We are talking to KOPT 1450 AM about a co-sponsorship. The caller said Air America is the only progressive radio in the area, but she must not have discovered KLCC or KRVM.
Another reader comment this week was a suggestion that one of the best ways to "fix" Social Security would be to raise the national minimum wage. The increased payroll taxes would go a long way to fund Social Security. Business lobbyists, of course, argue that labor costs are fixed, so higher wages just mean more layoffs and fewer people paying into Social Security. Round and round we go, but let's keep in mind that if it were up to business and industry, there would be no minimum wage, no 40-hour week, no OSHA, no paid holidays, no workers' comp, etc.. Some European countries have found a simple solution to the growing wage gap: They cap the amount of executive salaries that can be written off as a business expense. And it's based on the ratio of the lowest paid worker to the highest paid executive in a company. For example, a CEO can only make, say 30 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker without the company incurring extra tax liabilities. Should we bother trying to get such reforms through Congress today? Why not plant some seeds?
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, email@example.com
How Eugene split in November.
BY ALAN PITTMAN
John Kerry may have lost the presidential race, but here in Eugene he won a landslide. Sixty-seven percent of Eugene voters cast their ballots for Kerry. Only 31 percent voted for George Bush.
Kerry won in all eight City Council wards and in all but four of the city's 34 precincts. Kerry had his strongest support in university neighborhoods in south Eugene where he won more than 85 percent of the vote in six precincts. Bush won only in far north and far northwest Eugene.
The city's huge 92 percent voter turnout helped propel Kerry to victory. In more than two-thirds of the city's precincts, turnout was more than 90 percent.
The high turnout was itself driven by droves of students who cast ballots. Turnout is historically low in the three precincts surrounding the UO. But this election, turnout reached 90 percent. Kerry won 9,233 votes in the densely populated student area, nearly 85 percent of the ballots cast there. If UO students continue to vote in such large numbers, they could become one of the city's most powerful voting blocks.
With such a strong Democratic vote, it's a wonder how the city had a Republican mayor, Jim Torrey, for the last eight years. Torrey first won election in 1996 with 31,341 votes, 58 percent. Last month, Democrat Kitty Piercy won 53,732 votes, 84 percent in the mayor's race.
Along with Piercy's election, the council will have a 5-4 progressive Democrat majority. Even the four conservative councilors who backed Republican Torrey now look vulnerable. Those four wards voted solidly Democratic, averaging 56 percent for Kerry.
While Measure 37 passed statewide with a 61 percent yes vote, the initiative to pay developers or permit sprawl failed in Eugene with only 44 percent voting yes. The measure passed by small margins in 13 precincts in far north and west Eugene. In 10 precincts in south and central Eugene, more than 60 percent voted no. The pro-developer majority on the Eugene City Council recently voted to subsidize fees for the most expensive developer claims made against the city under Measure 37.
The anti-gay Measure 36 also passed statewide (57 percent yes) but failed in Eugene by a 61 percent no vote. The measure passed in 11 precincts in Bethel, Santa Clara and North Eugene; but in 14 south Eugene precincts, more than 70 percent voted no. Before the election, Mayor Torrey voiced support for Measure 36 but the City Council voted 5-3 to put the city on record against it.
The medicinal marijuana Measure 33 failed statewide with 57 percent voting no. But in Eugene, 51 percent voted yes. The measure passed in 19 precincts. In seven precincts in the UO and Whiteaker neighborhoods, two-thirds voted yes.
But while pot may be popular in Eugene, the cops are not. The city's Measure 20-88 to build a new police station failed with a 60 percent no vote. The measure passed in only three precincts. Whiteaker area and south Eugene liberals angered by police sex abuse, drug raids and profiling scandals joined with anti-tax voters in Bethel, Santa Clara and north Eugene to soundly defeat the cop shop for the third time.
If national Democrats are looking for ways to do better next time they run for president, they may want to ask Congressman Peter Defazio. The local Democrat won re-election by a 61 percent vote. But in counties that include DeFazio's 4th Congressional district (the boundaries don't match exactly), Kerry lost with 49 percent. In conservative Douglas, Linn and Curry counties, DeFazio out-polled Kerry by 16 percent. In Lane County, he polled 10 percent higher.
DeFazio spokesperson Kristie Greco says the 2000 election showed a similar result of Bush supporters backing DeFazio. Greco says DeFazio's approachable and straight-talking style and pro-consumer stands have broad appeal. "He's found a way to bridge the divide there," Greco says. "He's got a populist message that appeals to a lot of people in his district."
The Paradox of Race
The first in EW's new Q&A series on race in Eugene.
BY KERA ABRAHAM
Media tend to cover race-related issues only when something "newsy" happens, such as racial profiling by the Eugene police or the naming of a local landmark in honor of a minority hero. Coverage of these events is important, but it's also crucial to look at subtler issues like institutionalized racism, appropriations of culture in a majority-white community, and covert prejudice among "liberal" people and institutions.
No single article can convey the wide diversity of perspectives and experiences within any ethnic community, and no one person can speak for an entire ethnic demographic. To gain a broader view of racism in our community, EW is launching a series of Q&A's with Eugene residents of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
This week's interview subject is UO Multicultural Recruiter Tomas Baiza.
How do you define "race"?
I think race is a way that people try to distinguish themselves from one another. I'm uncomfortable with the word "race," but obviously because it's a social reality, I use it. It's complicated for me, because I would have trouble saying that I belong to any one. If I'm pressured to identify in a racial or ethnic way, I'm going to say that I'm biracial: Mexican and white.
Why is it important to have positions like yours (UO multicultural recruiter) that very clearly identify and make programs for minority people?
Positions like mine exist for several reasons, some of them good, others maybe not so good. On the one hand, institutions like the UO feel the need to do something extra in order to attract and to serve educationally underrepresented or disadvantaged students, and I think that's a noble motivation. But if you make one person responsible for something, sometimes you're unwittingly absolving the rest of the organization of that responsibility.
When you talk about institutions like the UO doing "something extra" for ethnic minorities, is that perpetuating the racial distinction?
Yes, I think so. That's a paradox that I struggle with a lot in my job. It is possible to see students as racial representatives when that's the last thing that they want to be seen as. On the other hand, I think that it's possible to talk around race or ethnicity when that is really what a student is needing right at that moment. So you have to act pragmatically, student by student.
How can we try to combat racism in our community?
I'll use a boxing metaphor. When the fight's really close in, you fight head-to-head. You take on an issue, you develop coalitions, you adopt a particular kind of rhetoric, and you fight the injustice head-on. But, like in any fight, it's not going to be a pitched battle the whole time. I don't agree with the idea that because you're a minority, you will always be on the outside. By doing that, you define yourself as an outsider. You actually adhere to the role that's been given to you by a power structure.
Do you think that the concept of race is becoming obsolete?
Race does not exist from a biological standpoint. A lot of social activists will say, "That doesn't mean anything, because race exists on a social level." I have trouble accepting that, because if race does not exist, then I have to believe that in the long run, these racial divisions are going to break down. I look forward to a time when people will look back at the Civil Rights struggle and say, "What the hell was that about?" Not because I want people to forget what it was about, but because hopefully society has progressed to a point where those issues really are not well understood anymore. I have to think that there's such a thing as a post-race world.
Is anyone exempt from racism?
I think we've all been tainted by it in some way. That doesn't mean that I think everyone is racist. It's sort of like asking, 'Does everybody have the flu?' Well, no. All of us have been exposed to the virus. Some of us have antibodies, some of us don't have any, some of us are really sick. But we don't all have the flu.
Do you think there is a problem, particularly in Eugene, with people who are so certain that they aren't racist that they can't see it?
Yeah. I think that in highly intellectual communities, people can rationalize away their racism, or at least their prejudices. There are prejudices that we carry that can lean towards racism if they're prevalent enough. I've spoken with people who say, "Sometimes it's easier in places where racism is just out there." In places like Eugene or Ann Arbor or even Berkeley, where I've lived, there's a lot of covert prejudice.
What are some examples of covert prejudice?
This neglect of students of color, for example, on a college campus. Many members of the campus community just assume that students of color are going to perform on a lower level. They might have benevolent motivations, but this is a prejudicial assumption which can border on racism. Universities expect that students of color will represent students of color; we don't expect poor white students to represent poverty.
Do you think that's driven by a feeling of guilt?
Of guilt, or of power: "I get to help, so I am going to." I think about that a lot. Look at my job. If there weren't disadvantaged students who struggled to get to college, would my job exist? I believe that one of my responsibilities is to make it so that my job is obsolete. Hopefully not while I'm still in it. [Laughs.]
Is there institutionalized racism at the university?
Let me put it this way: I have not yet worked at or attended a university that did not struggle with some type of racism at its core. I think that it would be a challenge to seek out policies and say, "That is a clear example of institutionalized racism." Having said that, that's one of the insidious natures of it. You see shadows of it, you see traces of it here and there, but it's really difficult to identify a source for institutionalized racism.
Is tokenism a problem in Eugene?
Yeah, definitely. Tokenism stems from this idea that people represent culture or race. Tokenism is a problem especially among people who are trying to go out of their way to make sure that people of different races are represented. It's a symptom, I think, of our attempts to address racism, and that's a huge irony for me.