Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Council vote may mean $100 million tax break for corporation.
Shyrra Adams urges minorities to stay.
Happening Person: Michele Renee& Ravi Logan
BRING'S SPRING FLING
BRING Recycling is gearing up for busy spring of fund-raising events as a May 31 deadline nears for a $250,000 matching challenge grant from the Gray Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.
|Bring's planned center in Glenwood|
Money raised in the year-long capital campaign will go to help build the Planet Improvement Center on Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood. The $1.8 million project on nearly three acres will provide a comprehensive salvage, recycling and education center that is expected to become a model for other cities nationwide. More than half the cost of the project has be raised so far, says BRING manager Julie Daniel.
Buildings and grounds at the new site will demonstrate green building techniques including a green roof, bioswales for on-site storm water management, passive solar design and the incorporation of used building materials.
BRING was founded in 1971 to promote what was then considered a radical concept — recycling. Today, 90 percent of Lane County households recycle, and more than 200,000 tons of waste are recycled every year.
The next BRING event is a Bar-B-Q Bash and Fun' Raiser at 7 pm Friday, March 11 at 918 Lorane Highway. Entertainment will be provided by Slug Queen Scarlett O'Slimera and "Musical Outlaw Friends." RSVP to 344-1008 or 913-9257.
Author Barry Lopez and Mayor Kitty Piercy will speak at a major fund-raiser for BRING from 6 to 9 pm Thursday, March 31 at Oveissi & Co.'s new location at One East Broadway. Reservations are required for the $100-per-person event that will be catered by local restaurants, with wine provided by Territorial Vineyards. Guests will receive a limited edition letterpress keepsake of an excerpt from Barry Lopez's new book, Resistance, designed and printed by lone goose press. Guitarist Don Latarski will provide music.
To reserve a ticket for the March 31 event, call BRING at 746-3023. For more information, visit www.bringrecycling.org
LAND USE UPDATE
Senate Bill 897 introduced in the Legislature would make statewide land use planning goals "advisory" instead of mandatory. These goals are considered the "backbone of Oregon's land use planning system," according to a statement from 1000 Friends of Oregon. "This is a major rollback to Oregon's land use planning system that protects farmland, preserves neighborhoods, and improves the livability of Oregon." The bill, opposed by 1000 Friends and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, has been referred to the Senate Environmental and Land Use Committee. No hearing has been scheduled.
The Oregon House is expected to vote on two Senate bills this week that 1000 Friends says are an "overt attack on our basic land protections." SB 2458 and SB 2549 respectively allow residential development and commercial and industrial development on productive farm land.
Bills in the Legislature can be read and tracked at www.leg.state.or.us
An artist's name was misspelled in our Galleries listings last week. Jerry Wagner and Desree Royster are exhibiting their work at the Downtown Lounge Gallery.
Due to an editor's error, a Slant item last week mentioned a public hearing scheduled for the March 7 City Council meeting. A public hearing was not scheduled, only suggested, on a proposed housing development next to WOW Hall.
A story last week on school choice incorrectly identified Diane Pergamit as an alternative school parent. She was a neighborhood school parent.
Both sides in the LTD strike have agreed to return to mediation Thursday morning and we hope some resolution is reached to get the buses rolling again, though it seems unlikely as both sides are digging in and LTD is even threatening to withdraw its latest offer. We are pleased to see discussion in the media about LTD losing some of its funding if this strike continues. As it stands now, LTD gains financially from the strike while employees suffer. But of course it's about more than money. The strikers need assurance that their concerns are being addressed, and nothing speaks louder than money. We hear transit union officials in Portland and elsewhere are weighing in, or at least watching this dispute to see how it might affect their next contract bargaining. Organized labor is under attack nationwide, and unions are fighting not just to maintain their power, but also to survive. Kulongoski's keeping his distance from this strike, but is that wise? He has the expertise and clout to effectively intervene, and perhaps he should since he appoints LTD board members. And he was elected with strong support from labor — support he could lose in the next election if this struggling union goes down in flames while he fiddles.
Local activist Hope Marston wrote to the LTD board this week reminding them (and us) that if it weren't for the skyrocketing costs of medical care, we likely wouldn't be having this labor strife. The powerful health care industry in our nation has no incentives to keep prices down. The Bush administration, Congress and Oregon Legislature are giving the industry everything it wants. It will take a revolution from the grassroots up to end this profiteering and make health care affordable and accessible to everyone. The idea of single-payer health insurance is still alive, and we expect to see another measure on the Oregon ballot, probably in 2006.
Whatever happened to Eugene's Independent Science Review Board? We hear it's still in existence, but it's not being used. Let's see the new council and mayor run some ideas and proposals past this collection of local scientists. A lot of volunteer expertise is waiting to be tapped. Air and water quality, hazardous substance management, wetlands, riparian habitat and energy generation are just some of the issues with scientific implications that come before the City Council, County Commission and other local government bodies.
San Francisco pundit Marc Perkel sends us his weekly observations on the national political scene, and he's in a funk this week. He writes: "The bad news is coming so fast that I can't write about it all. Do I write about the Italian journalist being shot? Or the CIA shipping people overseas to be tortured? Or the price of gas going to record highs? Or the programmer who admitted writing the software to fix the election for Bush? Or that Bush appointed John Bolton, a man who hates the United Nations, to the United Nations? Or the destruction of Social Security? Or ongoing problems like the federal deficit, going deeper and deeper and deeper into debt? The tax cuts for the rich, the war in Iraq, the coming war in Iran? There's just no end to the bad news. If Bush was actually elected — which I don't believe he was — America made a really bad choice."
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
Council vote may mean $100 million tax break for corporation.
By Alan Pittman
The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 March 7 to in effect offer Hynix Semiconductor about $100 million in tax breaks if it builds later phases of its chip factory in the west Eugene wetlands.
Councilor Betty Taylor was opposed and councilors Bonny Bettman, Andrea Ortiz, David Kelly, George Poling, Chris Pryor, Jennifer Solomon and Gary Papé voted together for creating the enterprise zone tax give-away.
Councilors removed some "greenfield" land near the current Hynix plant from the enterprise zone but city development staffer Denny Braud said the factory still has room to build later phases on it's adjacent land within the 5,000-acre tax break zone. "It's all in that boundary."
Mayor Kitty Piercy said in an interview that giving Hynix an additional $100 million in tax breaks is a good idea. Piercy said she was "pleased" with the vote and praised Hynix as a good "example" of a company providing jobs while taking care of its land.
Hynix (formerly Hyundai) has been highly controversial since it came to Eugene in 1995. Hundreds of citizens flooded meetings to object to the $50 million in tax breaks given to the corporation under a previous enterprise zone, it's destruction of a large swath of rare west Eugene Wetlands and the corporation's heavy use of toxic chemicals. Hynix has been fined and/or settled large lawsuits for employment discrimination, water pollution and worker injuries. At one point the corporation laid off nearly all its employees for six months while it teetered on bankruptcy.
Many of those who voted and campaigned for Piercy, Bettman, Ortiz and Kelly were critical of the tax breaks and environmental impact of Hynix and could be disappointed in their votes.
While Hynix could pocket millions in profits from the huge tax break, state school funding will take a direct hit. A recent school funding rally in Salem called for an end to such enterprise zone tax breaks. About half the Hynix give-away would come from state school funding with the rest coming from local government funding.
Such tax breaks have many costly disadvantages, but most economists agree that they rarely "create" new jobs (see "Corporate Welfare" story last week).
Any new Hynix tax break would end after five years, but by that time the factory would have lost about 80 percent of its taxable value due to the rapid depreciation of high-tech equipment.
The council vote included a provision for later creating job quality standards. But even for the lowest quality jobs, the standards could reduce the total tax break by only a small fraction under state laws. Under state law a dirty factory built in a rare ecosystem and polluting the city with toxic chemicals could still get its full tax break of millions of dollars while creating only one new low-wage job.
Councilor Bettman said she voted for the enterprise zone as part of a political compromise to remove some greenfield sites on the edge of town. But the zone still includes large tracts of land that have never been built on. The largest greenfield site removed was in fact a poplar tree farm owned by the sewage treatment plant for waste spraying that was unlikely to be developed anyway.
Councilor Betty Taylor called for a public hearing before voting to give away so much money, but not a single councilor supported her motion. "People have forgotten the previous experience" with Hynix, she said. Taylor called the enterprise zone tax breaks unfair to other taxpayers and "absolutely wrong."
The council vote directed staff to bring back a enterprise zone application to the state for council approval on April 11. That vote could be the last on the massive tax give away program for 10 years. State enterprise zone law does not allow votes or hearings on individual tax breaks which are given automatically.
Shyrra Adams urges minorities to stay.
BY KERA ABRAHAM
Shyrra Adams is a 25-year-old mother of two, student, and caregiver to adults with disabilities. She lived in Ketchikan, Alaska and Los Angeles before moving to Eugene in 1999. She contacted EW after reading the interview with Mark Harris (12/23) and the letters to the editor in response (1/6). Her message to youth of color in Eugene: Stay here and contribute to the community.
What brought you to Eugene?
I came here to visit a friend and I fell in love with the diversity of thought. It's like a spiritual Mecca here. Eugene is beautiful and safe, and I felt really embraced by the community. But there is obviously some racial tension and feelings of inequalities. I think it's time for the African American community to speak out more.
Do you encounter racist attitudes here?
It's more about curiosity. If you're not solid with who you are, curiosity can be perceived as someone being racist. It used to bother me when people would ask, "What are you?" But now I understand that the questioning is an opportunity to educate and enlighten people and to disperse the stereotypes. There needs to be an understanding that when you come up to an area that has been predominantly white, there is going to be some curiosity. It's best to let go and to answer those questions, because then it'll make it easier on your children, too. You educate the parents, then their children, and it goes on and on down the line.
Is Eugene missing some of the things that black people need?
I find it a real big issue. I can't even walk into Safeway or Albertson's and get my shade of coverup. I've got to go clear across town to Sally's to get my hair products, and I have to go to someone who specializes in black hair. Little things like that are a big clue that you are so different. It makes you feel like you're not really a part of the community. And on top of that, within the radio stations and on local news, you don't see enough representation of minorities. That's part of the feeling of the uneasiness within the African American community.
Why do you think that some local black leaders are leaving?
When I see the older people that have left and are leaving, I understand that it's because they were around in the times of the civil rights movement, and they have dealt with so much. There is a feeling of being worn down after awhile. Marilyn Mays said, "I just don't want to die here," meaning this is just not the place for me to live, grow, prosper and feel equal. But still, after being awarded the street name Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. — to fight for that, and to get that, and then to turn around and say "It's just too tough right now" sends the wrong message to youth. There has been change, because at one time there were no black people in Eugene. There were no minorities. And it's just getting more and more diverse.
What kinds of activism are you involved in?
I work with adults with disabilities, and if anyone gets the most prejudice, oh God, they get it so bad. When people see somebody in a wheelchair who can just give you a smile and who can barely move, they think that there's nothing in there. The discrimination is on a daily basis. When Jerry Harris says black people are self-segregated and only involved in the black community, I am a prime example that that is not true. I am out there working with adults with disabilities who need to be heard.
What provoked you to contact EW with your thoughts?
I disagree with Mark Harris, who told [minority] kids, "Get out of Eugene." To me, that's a contradiction of what our forefathers — those that were very actively involved in the civil rights movement — were doing. Would Martin Luther King Jr. say, "Get out of Eugene"? Would Malcolm X? Would Rosa Parks? To get out of Eugene is to say that we are not valid individuals to stay here, that for some reason we should be listening to those who are telling us to leave. To say to get out of Eugene is teaching our youth that we have something to fear, that we don't have a say, and that we are not strong enough to fight against this. And as a people, as a culture, we are very strong.
What's your message to local youth of color?
I think we should say to our youth, "Stay in Eugene." Because if enough people stand strong and voice their opinions, those that are inflicting this racial inequality on us are going to realize that they are not winning. If we keep on staying here, we can start making our voices heard just by being around the community, working and going to school. We don't have to be on the front line, fightin' for the cause against the man. Just by being who we are as a people and developing our community, we will have more people of color. I'm very proud of the Latin community, for example. Seeing the Sunday market that they have and the supermercado that just opened up is beautiful. But Jerry Harris is not saying, "They're the most self-segregated community." He looks at them as being ethnocentric.
What's the difference between ethnocentrism and self-segregation?
Ethnocentrism is working within a community: creating churches, hair shops, the Black Student Union. Things like that make people feel like, "We are part of the community because we are making our part in the community." If you're feeling like such a minority that your daily needs aren't being met, then you're going to have to work within a culture of people who understand what you need and why you need it. That brings more integration. At the Hult Center, they celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday because of black people have gotten together and said "We need this." It sparks people's interests, and it serves the purpose of what we're trying to do. Self-segregation is not what's going on.
How do you assess the state of race relations in Eugene?
We're definitely not in L.A., where it's so mixed that color doesn't really matter. But there's definitely a future for us to be a diverse and racially equal place — if we continue to bring up racial inequalities, and if we don't run. I feel like there is a huge population within Eugene that is willing to support minorities. The key is for the youth and the adults to continue to educate themselves and to be aware of what's going on in the community. By doing that, we'll have more of our voices heard.
As a society we should be beyond race, but it seems like we still have to talk about it. How do you reconcile these two ideas?
Race is an issue because fear of the unknown spawns stereotypes and prejudices. Educating and enlightening one another will bring us to the point of understanding, and then it won't be an issue. But until then, we're going to have to talk about it until we are completely exhausted. Racial profiling and other problems are major challenges, and if race doesn't matter they shouldn't come about.
MICHELE RENEE & RAVI LOGAN
Following graduation from Southwest Texas State, Michele Renee moved to Belize, married a pilot, and spent seven years at aerial photography in North Africa and the Caribbean. "I decided I didn't like to fly," says Renee, who returned for a teaching degree, got a divorce, and hit the road in '93. "I always felt like an alien in Texas." She ran out of cash in Eugene but felt comfy here, got a job at the Friendly Market, and eventually found her teaching niche as a sub at the International High Schools. "I've taught all the courses at all levels," she says. "It's the nicest sub job in Eugene!" She also found Ravi Logan, a UO meditation teacher and a leading international advocate for Progressive Utilization Theory, a model for sustainable development. Their mutual projects include an 8-year-old daughter, Asha, and a two-year-old backyard meeting hall, the Dharmalaya Center for Human Development. See dharmalaya.org for a schedule of yoga and meditation classes, gardening and building workshops, and neighborhood social events. Enjoy music and art at the center's second annual River Road Pear Blossom Culture Fest, at 356 Horn Lane on Saturday, April 2. -BY PAUL NEEVEL