Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Review finds EPD fails to lead, supervise, discipline officers.
Weed My Lips
Cannabis TV takes pot shots at the establishment.
JOHN BALDWIN REMEMBERED
Family, friends, colleagues and former students of John Baldwin are gathering in his memory from 3 to 5 pm Friday, March 18 in Gerlinger Hall on campus. The internationally noted environmentalist, sustainability pioneer and UO professor died at home March 7 of natural causes at the age of 54.
"His passion for protecting the natural environment took him around the globe many times — to places like Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Russia, Kyrghystan and Ukraine," says Eben Fodor, a Eugene planning consultant, author and longtime admirer of Baldwin. "He was a big picture thinker," he says. "No field of study was outside his reach, whether science, philosophy, business or politics. He knew the past and the present and brought these to bear on shaping the future. He never got lost in the details, but never lost sight of them either."
Baldwin helped establish the Environmental Studies Program at UO in 1982 and later founded the Institute for a Sustainable Environment. He was president of the North American Association for Environmental Education and was a keynote speaker at many environmental conferences worldwide.
Baldwin's widow, Karen, says he spent his final days with his family and working with his students. She says his sudden illness was not related to his environmental work. Baldwin did spend time in Chernobyl, but "they took every precaution," she says.
Fodor says Baldwin "made a real difference in this world and will always be an inspiration to those who knew him. We will dearly miss his clear voice, brilliant mind and hearty laugh."
Fodor's 1,000-word commentary on Baldwin, written for Inside Oregon, the UO campus faculty e-mail newsletter, can be found this week at www.eugeneweekly.com — TJT
PROTESTERS DEFEND FOREST
Grandmas and young punks, loggers and tree-sitters united to protest a massive salvage logging operation at the site of the Biscuit fire, which burned 500,000 acres of forest in southwestern Oregon in 2002. The logging began on March 7 after the expiration of a federal court injunction.
Eugene attorney Lauren Regan filed for a temporary restraining order, citing Forest Service contracts that prohibit logging during the rainy season. Federal District Judge Michael Hogan scheduled the hearing for March 9, giving the Silver Creek Timber company a two-day head-start on logging. After hearing the case, Hogan told the plaintiffs he would rule on it within a day or two. On March 15, he finally ruled against the restraining order.
Logging continues, while protesters stage direct actions to stop it. Since March 7, about 40 activists have been arrested for trying to prevent logging trucks from entering the wild old-growth area of the proposed 14.5 million board-foot Fiddler timber sale, a part of the Biscuit fire salvage. "Perusha," a Eugene activist, has taken residence in a Douglas fir tree in an active logging zone. "My message is simple," he wrote in a statement lowered by a rope from the tree. "Leave these forests alone … and let them stay wild!"
Logging burned old-growth increases fire hazard, harms the economic future of local communities and destroys native forest habitat, says Laurel Sutherlin, spokesman for the conservation group The Oxygen Collective. "The Forest Service wants to turn this place into another government-controlled tree plantation," he says. "We need more fresh minds and bodies to defend this wild important place." — Kera Abraham
PROCESSION FOR PEACE
Major cities around the world are observing the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with massive protests this weekend, including an 11:30 am Friday "direct action of civil disobedience" to be held at a location in Eugene to be announced to media just before the gathering. Organizers say they are willing and expecting to be arrested.
But a quieter protest is also being planned — a weekend of educational events and a procession in Cottage Grove. It appears the tone of the Cottage Grove gathering is drawing people from as far away as Ashland, the coast and Portland, according to Birdie Hoelzle, one of the organizers.
Events begin at 6:30 pm Friday with a free program on "The Health Effects of War and a Sensible Approach to a Safe America" at the Cottage Grove Community Center, 7th and Gibbs. The nonpartisan program will be put on by Physicians for Social Responsibility/Beyond War.
On Saturday at noon, the Memorial Peace Procession begins at noon at Cottage Grove High School. The procession includes bell-ringing, chanting and carrying a half-mile string of prayer flags. It's followed at 3 pm by a community forum on "Responses to Military Recruitment in Our Schools" at the Community Center. Music and entertainment begin at 6 pm at the Community Center.
For more information, contact Stand for Peace at 767-0770.
ELECTION TIME AGAIN
The filing deadline is March 17 for the May 17 Lane County special elections and numerous local school, fire and utility board positions will be on the ballot, many uncontested.
This week Rich Cunningham joined Rob Spooner and incumbent Paul Holman in a contest for LCC Board Position 1. For the 4J Board Position 6, incumbent Eric Forrest is unopposed, but a last-minute filing is expected from Aria Seligmann, former associate editor at EW.
Lane County ESD Position 6 (at large) looks like a four-way open race between Tom Lininger, Mark Boren, Chris Edwards and Linda Phelps.
A complete list of positions, races and declared candidates can be found at www.lanecounty.org/Elections
Saturday, March 19 is the 20th annual Great Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup from 10 am until 1 pm along the entire Oregon Coast. Volunteers can check in at one of 42 meeting sites, pick up a litter bag, and head down to the beach to help improve the coast for wildlife and visitors. Call SOLV at (503) 844-9571 for a brochure or check the web site at www.solv.org for a list of meeting sites and zone captains.
In "NOAA's Ark" (3/3 cover story), the annual cost of Oregon's fish hatcheries to the state was reported to be $50 million. The actual cost is $23 million. The article also reported that "six marine scientists hired as consultants for NOAA Fisheries stated in the March 2004 issue of Science that the agency instructed them to eliminate a part of their report stating that hatchery fish impede wild salmon survival." NOAA Fisheries reportedly did censor the scientists' findings on hatchery salmon, but they did not state so in the Science forum.
In our news story (3/3) on school choice, we reported that Eugene School Board member Craig Smith questioned whether the problem with neighborhood schools wasn't funding but the quality of teachers at those schools. Smith clarifies, "I have no opinion that there is a difference" in teachers from alternative and neighborhood schools. "My assumption is that they are of equal quality."
When George Russell stepped into the 4-J superintendent's office, he inherited big problems with Eugene's alternative school structure. Rather than ducking the issues, Russell led. He convened citizen committees to study the problems and recommend solutions. He gathered data. He presided over tough open meetings to hear from citizens.
Following this transparent and inclusive five-year process, he offered fair recommendations to eliminate inequities in Eugene's schools. (We wrote earlier that he didn't go far enough fast enough, but it was a good start.)
He mustered broad support from the Human Rights Commission, the teachers' union, both the Weekly and the R-G, and other players. But the politically savvy parents who benefit from the current system aggressively opposed his major changes. In the face of this opposition, the elected members of the 4-J board lacked the will to fully support their superintendent. Instead, the board mucked around, half adopted some recommendations, and essentially kicked the mess back to George.
He did his job well, proposing sound fixes for this district. In response, the board has left him with some schools that are, in his words "browner and poorer" than they should be, with alternative and neighborhood schools sharing buildings, a situation that Russell recognizes does not work, and with a festering debate further dividing the community. The 4-J board should have vigorously backed their superintendent.
Nice timing that the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and statue were dedicated in Eugene this week. The crusty Oregon senator would have been proud of his follower Margaret Hallock, who orchestrated the end of the LTD/ATU bus strike last weekend. She's the director of the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics on the UO campus. Margaret first worked with the citizens committee out of ESSN/Jobs with Justice that brought about postponement of the strike for 30 days. Chaired by Joan Pierson and Curt Bylund, that committee included James Mattiace, John Van Landingham, Bob Baldwin, Debbie Oresik, Gavin Light, Michael Regan, Ross McConnell, Jeanine Malito, Sebastian Zwicknagl, Wanda Gledhill, and Claire Syrett. After the buses stopped rolling, Hallock coalesced a second community group to work with the professional mediator and both sides to overcome the small differences that separated them. That group was Mayor Kitty Piercy, David Piercy, Jack Roberts, Art Johnson and Hallock. Morse spent a good part of his life resolving labor disputes. He, like Hallock, would have been happy to see the LTD buses in the streets Monday morning.
The "Oregon Fair Energy Bill" (SB 527) would require energy facility approvals to be based on regional electricity needs, prioritize renewable energy projects over fossil-fuel facilities and allow for more local input into land use decisions about energy facilities. We currently have an energy surplus, and our energy supply is expected to hold steady with demand through 2011. That gives us time to set up renewable energy systems such as windmills, which can generate about 3.5 MW each and earn farmers $10,000 a year while competing with current gas prices. Even better, they have no toxic emissions, while gas-fired power plants release hazardous compounds and contribute to global warming. This bill is an opportunity for Oregon to take the lead in smart energy planning. We encourage readers to contact their state senators to support SB 527, which will have its first hearing on March 28.
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
Review finds EPD fails to lead, supervise, discipline officers.
BY ALAN PITTMAN
The Eugene Police Department used a flawed hiring process to give officer Roger Magaña a gun and then failed to supervise him and officer Juan Lara before they were convicted of sexually abusing more than a dozen women over the past decade, an outside management review of the department found.
The $108,000 review by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) described an EPD in "crisis" and lacking public trust, adequate supervision, leadership, and internal affairs investigations.
"Many community members are convinced that something is terribly wrong in and with the police department," the 98-page report found, noting the cops' sex crimes. "What kind of culture allows such activities to go unnoticed and unaddressed?"
Magaña & Lara
The EPD did not adequately investigate internal failings that may have contributed to the Magaña and Lara cop crime sprees, the report found. "After the criminal investigations were completed, the department did not initiate further investigation into peripheral matters typically addressed in a thorough internal investigation." Reviewers recommended that the city contract with outside investigators to complete reviews of such high-profile cases.
The review described Magaña's hiring a decade ago as a "fast tracking" process for four officers that was meant to increase minority hiring but was "flawed." The Magaña hiring did not include the usual background check or psychiatric evaluation for hiring armed police officers.
In Magaña's case, "Criminal history information that would normally have been considered as cause for disqualification was not because the police record had been removed, although it appears that there was knowledge of the matter."
The criminal file "mysteriously reappeared" years later after Magaña was charged with sex crimes. Magaña was arrested for burglary in 1982, but not prosecuted.
EPD lacks a system to prevent record tampering and Magaña's criminal file "obviously had been taken" which was a "serious problem," the report stated.
Magaña also had a previous juvenile criminal matter, but the record was expunged, according to the report. "Interestingly, the request to expunge was dated after the selection process for police officer began."
EPD officers involved in the "fast tracking" hire were "concerned about applicant quality, however, there was considerable pressure" to "take advantage of the opportunity to hire minority applicants."
With Magaña and Lara, "It is hard to imagine that patrol officers — with clearly defined roles and geographic boundaries — were able to engage in such serious misconduct for so long and go undetected … There clearly was a failure of supervision."
The lack of direct supervision of EPD officers is a "major problem" in the department, the report found.
"Patrol sergeants are often so consumed by administrative and other supervisory duties they rarely can be available on the street to respond to calls with their subordinates … Some personnel estimate that patrol sergeants in Eugene have as little as 15 percent of their time available for direct supervision."
"Some EPD members complain they do not feel supported by management. They see other members doing substandard work with impunity, and their own efforts go unrewarded." Without supervision, "soon poor quality work becomes the norm."
Many sergeants and commanders are concerned with the level and quality of supervisor training. "When supervisors suffer from poor leadership skills, they provide poor or no guidance to officers, especially those who are young, inexperienced, and may be more likely to make poor decisions that result in citizen complaints."
EPD has an adequate number of sergeant supervisors, the report found. The department should "audit" its sergeants' use of time to find out why they aren't spending more time supervising, the review recommended.
Moving internal investigations to a fully staffed Internal Affairs (IA) department will free up some sergeant time for supervising, reviewers noted.
The EPD does not adequately evaluate officer performance, the report found. Supervisors believe evaluations are "too time consuming to complete." Reviewers looked at a sampling of completed evaluations and found, "Many of the evaluations were superficially completed with little detail, especially in the case of some of the incarcerated officers."
"The evaluation system has not been enforced at all by the police department for the past several years. There is no process in place to ensure supervisors complete the evaluations," according to the report. The EPD does not use effective evaluations as an "early warning system to identify problem personnel."
"Past (and some believe current) lack of direction by the City Council, city manager, and the police chief have created an environment where police personnel believe that they have little or no support from the city or police leadership, and are unsure of expectations," the reviewers found.
EPD Chief Robert Lehner is "well regarded" in the department, but his leadership is seen as "somewhat uneven." Some faulted past chiefs' commitment to improving the department and noted there was a two-year leadership "vacuum" while an interim chief was at the helm.
A 1997 PERF report included many similar reform recommendations as the current report, but city leaders largely failed to make the changes. A "long-term commitment to change" is needed to rebuild public trust, according to the report.
Police leaders have failed to define and implement community policing and continue to send "mixed messages" on the issue. EPD leaders lack a "critically important" strategic plan.
Police leaders have claimed for nearly a decade that a "Hobson Report" proves they need vast funding increases. But the reviewers note that most police departments think they are understaffed. The report faults the Hobson Report for not determining "what the actual need was in terms of personnel hours to handle the existing workload."
Between 3 am and 6 am the highest ranking EPD official on duty is a sergeant, reviewers found. Police lieutenants are "warring amongst themselves" for promotion to captain.
"Problems with incomplete and timely investigations, illogical findings and conclusions, and inadequate managerial review have resulted in a lack of confidence in the police department's ability to properly administer the complaint process," the review found.
EPD lacks a fully staffed IA unit, causing immediate supervisors to be far more involved in internal investigations than at most agencies, reviewers noted. IA should be expanded from one officer to four, or perhaps contracted out, they recommended.
But Lehner has balked at creating a fully staffed IA department. "The chief of police has determined the staffing needs on the streets of Eugene are such that there is no opportunity to staff a full service IA unit at this time," the report said.
EPD employs sergeants as untrained and inexperienced IA investigators leading to inconsistency and "a general lack of quality" and timeliness in internal investigations. "Discipline is being avoided completely in some instances because of incomplete or improper investigations."
"The practice of assigning one police officer to investigate a complaint against another, especially when they are coworkers and potentially long-standing friends, is a deeply rooted concern," the report said.
EPD lacks "effective practices designed to cut down on covering up complaints and inquiries to suit the receiver's fancy." The department also does not adequately track complaints and lacks an "early warning system" to identify problem officers that citizens frequently complain about.
The city discourages complaints by threatening people who complain with arrest if they have unrelated outstanding warrants, according to the report. Reviewers "heard a consistent demand for transparency" in the complaint process among those interviewed.
Some officers "believe when a manager is the subject of an investigation, the entire matter is swept under the proverbial carpet."
There's a "widespread desire" inside and outside the EPD for creating an external police review board, but effective review boards must be adequately funded and staffed, the report stated. The EPD police union asserts that it supports external review and reform, but many in the community don't believe them, according to the report.
The reviewers warned that lack of public trust in the complaint process "can lead to less cooperation, the inability of the police to control crime, declining service, and eroding morale of the officers themselves."
The city's Human Resources (HR) department pushed for tougher discipline and minority hiring in EPD, but many EPD officers opposed the effort as "meddlesome" interference in their internal affairs, according to the report.
Women and Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in the EPD, but many officers "feel Human Resource Services exerts inappropriate pressure on the police department to hire minority candidates over better qualified candidates."
In one case, officers alleged that HR told police "termination is warranted" before a police investigation was completed, the review said. Officers said that "in some instances Human Resource Services requested investigators change the wording in portions of investigative reports to lessen the city's potential liability."
The reviewers apparently did not trust EPD to reform itself and instead "strongly" recommended that the city hire an outside consultant to oversee recommended changes. If insiders attempted the reforms, they could put their jobs or promotions at risk if they challenged or pointed out faults in their bosses, the review found.
The EPD needs real reform, the report said. The public mistrust crisis the EPD faces "is not simply a matter of better public relations."
Weed My Lips
Cannabis TV takes pot shots at the establishment.
by Sara Brickner
Dan Koozer, producer of Eugene's Cannabis TV, sees himself as a "freedom fighter." He's a friendly guy who wears a U.S. Army jacket and a "Pee for Enjoyment, not for Employment" pin. Koozer supports himself by doing odd jobs and working as caretaker for a property in Fall Creek. But on Wednesday nights at 7, he comes to the Community Television (CTV) building behind Sheldon High School to tape Cannabis TV, along with an eclectic crew of supporters from various locations around Oregon.
The program airs at 8:30 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays on cable channel 29, and again Sunday midnight and Monday noon. The format is a basic newscast, except that these anchors, "Dank Bagman," who wears a grocery bag on his head, and "Annie Pots," a woman who crowns her long blonde hair with a wreath of fake cannabis leaves, aren't talking about the war on Iraq. They're talking about the war on pot, as a red and white "No War on Pot" sign push-pinned to the white lattice backdrop clearly states.
For someone who has never heard of the show, it is easy to assume that Cannabis TV is about smoking marijuana. Instead, the show's content relies heavily on legal and economic issues regarding cannabis, medical marijuana, and hemp. Volunteers, who come as often as they can make it, produce the show. Anyone who wants to host the show can do so, either for fun or to fill holes when they are short-handed. The hosts, along with their guests (if there are any), read cannabis- and hemp-related news articles, share recipes, poetry, cannabis-related anecdotes, medical marijuana success stories, and sometimes, tales of drug busts.
Koozer, also known for his organizing work with the sort-of annual Oregon Hempfest, started working at Cannabis TV by helping behind the scenes.
"I started by coming and helping on the camera for the first time or two," said Koozer. Then the other hosts asked him if he wanted to be on the show. At the time, however, his wife worked at a daycare center, and he feared his participation might jeopardize her job.
"They said, 'Why don't you put a bag on your head?'" Koozer said. At first it was a joke, but then Koozer reconsidered. Using a brown paper grocery bag with two holes cut out for eyes, Koozer took his first name and the first letter of his last to create his alter-ego, "Dank Bagman." Now Koozer is a weekly presence on-screen, and his bag, which is decorated with George W. Bush's grinning head, torso, and a tag on the top that reads, "Weed My Lips," has become the show's unofficial trademark.
However, the bag is also a reminder of the stigma attached to marijuana activism. "I can show how things are, that I'm in the land of the free and I have to put a bag over my head," Koozer said.
Larry Dobberstein, who works at the Community Television station, is not affiliated with Cannabis TV, although he is supportive of the show.
"People are passionate about the issue of the drug laws, but even the producer wears a bag over his head because he doesn't want his wife's business jeopardized," said Dobberstein. "This is the taboo that's laid on the country."
Though small, Cannabis TV is an attempt to help break down some of the myths surrounding cannabis and hemp. Although the Cannabis TV volunteers come from different locations and backgrounds, they share one binding quality — a wholehearted belief in the benefits of cannabis, hemp and marijuana. "We all have the same philosophy, more or less," said Koozer.
In addition to producing Cannabis TV, Koozer is one of the main organizers of the Emerald Empire Hempfest and participates in local marijuana activism. He's not the only one. Many of the Cannabis TV crew members work with marijuana activist groups as well, including the Medical Cannabis Resource Center, or the "Mercy Center," which promotes medical marijuana and works for marijuana-related legal reform in the Pacific Northwest.
So far, the show hasn't received any major public backlash. The show has yet to air footage of the crew or anyone else smoking cannabis, although Edie Ortega, a Cannabis TV regular, recalls an incident in which someone tried to strip on camera. "We had one gentleman who stripped, and he held a pamphlet ..." she said, gesturing at her crotch.
Koozer can only recall receiving one specific complaint, perhaps because the program does not receive government funding and is only available to cable subscribers. While obscenity, political candidate endorsements, and sales of products are all prohibited,
Larry Dobberstein thinks the rules are quite liberal.
"We're not really under the FCC, so we're able to put on a lot of shows that the mainstream cannot," he said. "If it was up to us, anything people gave us, we'd air."
"Annie Pots" started working on Cannabis TV after a previous host moved to Hawaii.
"I happened to be flipping around and saw Dank, sitting by himself with a bag on his head, trying to fill the whole show," she said. So, she called him and asked if they needed help. "I said, 'Man, you guys need some enthusiasm, you need a new host', and he said, 'Well, come on down!'"
Aivia Monitto, a Merry Hempsters employee who has done activist work in the past, but is not currently involved with any organization, appeared on episode 118.
"I feel like marijuana prohibition goes against our constitutional rights as citizens," she said. "It's a matter of constitutional and human rights."
John Gaurdino, the regular director of the show, is involved mainly because of issues pertaining to medical marijuana.
"We've had many guests who have convinced me that it's better than the other opiate-based drugs they've been prescribed, and they don't work as well as marijuana has proved to work for them," Gaurdino said.
Perry Stripling, another host, agrees. "It's really a quality of life issue for these people," he said on the show. Annie Pots' reasoning is also related to medical marijuana. "I'm tired of seeing my friends getting sick and having to get cards," she said.
Although the show probably won't win any production awards, the crew figures Cannabis TV will be successful if it helps educate the public about hemp, medical marijuana or cannabis.
"It's just an issue we believe in,"Koozer said. "I just started out trying to help get it legalized, and I wasn't looking for a life's work, but it's been nine years and that looks like what it's turning into."
For schedule information and links to related cannabis sites, visit http://eugenecannabistv.home.comcast.net/