• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Eugene Weekly : News : 04.28.05



News Briefs: Hynix Breaks Capped, MaybeSpringfield Under AttackLRAPA Board Seat CreatedTake Back the NightLandwatch GatheringGotta Love the NativesWage Gap

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Shades of Green:

Traveling Lightly


Vacationing relatively guilt-free

Questioning Race:

Cultural Incompetence


Allegations of discrimination at the UO College of Education.

News:

Toxic Brew


Hynix leads TRTK reporting with a river of acid.





HYNIX BREAKS CAPPED, MAYBE

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 April 20 for an enterprise zone program that could give Hynix another $120 million in tax breaks if it completes planned expansions.

But the council did potentially limit the program by voting 4-4 with mayor Kitty Piercy breaking the tie for a per-job cap on future tax breaks.

The cap could substantially reduce the tax give-away. Hynix has received a total of $50 million in tax breaks, or about $50,000 for each job at its plant. But a lot remains uncertain.

It's uncertain if the cap will hold up in court. The state enterprise zone law was written to favor corporate welfare. In 1999, Hynix successfully sued and threw out an attempt by the city of Eugene and Lane County to reduce the estimated $170 million in tax breaks for its planned three-phase plant by $13 to $19 million.

Councilor Bonny Bettman, who proposed the cap, says she believes the cap is legal and has been used successfully in a Portland enterprise zone, but she lacked details.

If the cap is thrown out, its unclear if that will mean the whole enterprise zone will be disbanded or just the cap on hand-outs. In the 1999 lawsuit, the enterprise zone was left in place.

The city has so far not sought a legal opinion on the matter. The private law firm that does the city's legal work has also worked for Hynix.

Another uncertainty is the level at which the cap will be set. The City Council left that decision for later.

Bettman noted that in 1997 a city committee studying the enterprise zone recommended a per-job cap of $15,000 for the three years of enterprise zone tax breaks. A pro-big business committee appointed by Mayor Jim Torrey last year discussed a cap of about $35,000, but did not recommend it. Bettman says she will be "looking for some middle ground" in setting the cap.

Councilor Betty Taylor was the lone vote against the tax breaks, even with the uncertain per-job cap. Taylor said the breaks were rushed without a public hearing, lacked public accountability, created jobs for people moving here rather than locals, were given to corporations who would have moved here anyway, offered low-paid jobs and robbed the city of tax revenue to pay for the schools and new services demanded by the growth the tax breaks created. "What we're doing is subsidizing growth," Taylor said.

Another provision passed by the council would potentially reduce tax breaks by 25 percent for companies that did not provide high quality jobs. But in the past, the job quality criteria have been set so low that Hynix and most other companies still qualified for their full tax breaks. The council also left details of the criteria for later meetings.

The council's enterprise zone program application now goes to the state for approval.

Alan Pittman

 

 

SPRINGFIELD UNDER ATTACK

The Oregon Bus Project, known for its effective door-to-door campaigning for progressive candidates in the 2004 elections, is now mobilizing for the upcoming Springfield School Board elections. In a message to supporters, the Bus Project says "The Springfield School District is under attack."

"Springfield is a town which is off most people's radars," says the e-mail. "But, what if you knew that the religious right and the Republican Party were funding challengers to unseat three respected school board members? What if you knew that their main objective was to reverse three years of work on a diversity policy? What if you knew that they are targeting the best superintendent Springfield has ever had: a woman who is above reproach, who has brought new energy and momentum to a district besieged by budget cuts?"

The group is organizing a canvass for candidates Bill Medford, Jonathon Light and Al King beginning at 10 am, Saturday, April 30. They will meet at the OEA office on Coburg Road, a block past Costco on the right. Participants will canvass several neighborhoods in Springfield and return by 2 pm. RSVP to 914-0293 or jamesmattiace@yahoo.com

LRAPA BOARD SEAT CREATED

Care about the air (see cover story last week)? Here's a chance to get proactive. Due the growth of Eugene's population, the city is seeking applicants for a new position on the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority (LRAPA) Board of Directors. Mayor Kitty Piercy will nominate a candidate and submit the nomination to the City Council for approval. Applications are due by 5 pm Friday, May 6. Mail or deliver applications to the City Manager's Office, room 105, 777 Pearl Street, or fax to 682-5414. For more info, visit www.ci.eugene.or.usor contact Mary Walston at 682-5406, mary.f.walston@ci.eugene.or.us

 

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

This year's Take Back the Night rally and march to end sexual and domestic violence begins at 6:30 pm Thursday, April 28 at the EMU Ampitheater on campus at 13th and University. The rally at UO is followed by a march downtown ending with a speak-out at 8th and Oak.

Speakers/performers include Mayor Kitty Piercy, Erin O'Brien, Austin Shaw-Phillips, Judith Castro, Cindy Hirschorn, and Margo Schaefer of Womenspace.

Take Back the Night is a collaboration of community and campus and other interested persons to take a stand against violence and make the night safe for everyone.

The event began in England as a protest against the fear that women encountered walking the streets at night. The first Take Back the Night in the U.S. occurred in San Francisco in 1978.

 

 

LANDWATCH GATHERING

The uncertainty surrounding Measure 37 will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the annual meeting of LandWatch Lane County at 7 pm Tuesday, May 3 at the Bascom/Tykeson Conference Room at the Eugene Public Library. The meeting is the largest public event of the year for an organization that does most of its work behind the scenes, collaborating with other environmental groups and lobbying for conservation of farm and forest lands.

Talking about the contentious Measure 37 will be John Davidson, legal director for the Constitutional Law Foundation; Jim Just, executive director of Goal One Coalition; and Carrie MacLaren, staff attorney for 1000 Friends of Oregon.

Also on the agenda is a talk on "The Sorcery of Property Line Adjustments." The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, call 741-3625 or e-mail hopsbrand@aol.com

GOTTA LOVE THE NATIVES

May 1-8 has been declared Native Plant Appreciation Week by the governor and more than two dozen local events are being planned by the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon.

The week begins with a Spring Botany Workshop at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm Sunday, May 1. Cost is $25. Register by calling 747-3817. Other events, many of them free, include exploring dragonfly habitat in the wetlands, a Delta Ponds field trip, and searching for the western wahoo at Kentucky Falls. For information, visit www.npsoregon.orgor call 752-1091.

WAGE GAP

The gap between good jobs and bad jobs was once quite small, according to economist James K. Galbraith, but today it is "so wide that it has come, once again, to threaten the social solidarity and stability of the country."

Galbraith, author of Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay, will speak in a free lecture at 4 pm Monday, May 2 at the Fir Room, EMU on campus. His topic will be "Rising Inequality in the Age of Globalization: The Facts and the Consequences."

For more information, visit www.morsechair.uoregon.edu

 

 

SLANT

The 4J School District is currently wrestling with its 2005-06 budget and we're pleased to see more money being allocated to poor neighborhood schools to help narrow the achievement gap. It's a step in the right direction. The budget process is hampered this year not only with equity issues and the usual challenges of squeezing as much education as possible out of limited funds, but also by the district not knowing exactly how much money will be available. The Legislature has yet to nail down its funding for K-12 education, contract negotiations are beginning with unions representing teachers and staff, and even the proposed public safety tax district could squeeze local school funding if it passes. Meanwhile, ballots go out next week for local school board elections. Which candidates can best deal with the complex education issues on the horizon? Does it matter whether we elect progressives or conservatives to our non-partisan school boards? Look for our analysis and endorsements next week.

We're still outraged by the prison sentence of 22-plus years handed down to Jeffrey "Free" Luers for his protest torching of three SUVs in Eugene in 2001. Now we're hearing from www.democracynow.orgthat a California Institute of Technology graduate student named Billy Cottrell was sentenced April 17 to eight years in prison for setting fire to an SUV dealership and destroying about 125 SUVs. Cottrell was ordered to pay $3.5 million in retribution. Cottrell is reportedly affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front. Arson is always a bad idea, but credibility in our justice system requires that the punishment fits the crime. Luer's long sentence is not justice. It's an absurdity, and should be an embarrassment to everyone who calls Oregon home. Protests focusing on Luers' case and other injustices are being planned for the weekend of June 10-12.

We'd all like to think that issues of racism and cultural bias were all resolved by the Civil Rights Movement, but of course we know better. Bigotry has a long half-life. Our Q&A column this week on cultural competency (see page 10) is timely in that a protest is being planned at 3:30 pm Wednesday at the College of Education (e-mail coeaction@hotmail.com for info). Also, UO is beginning "Community Conversations" next week on a draft Diversity Action Plan. The plan is intended to "enhance campus diversity, make the UO more representative of the various communities it serves, increase cultural competency and strengthen community relations," says Gregory J. Vincent, UO vice provost for institutional equity and diversity. The sessions are Monday, May 2 at the EMU on campus, Wednesday at Gerlinger and the following Monday, May 9, at the EMU. Call 346-2084 for details. Across town, LCC has just published a fascinating collection of essays on race and culture called Community College Moment: The Diversity Issue with readings and discussions planned for 5 pm Friday, May 6 at Tsunami Books. These are all good opportunities to identify and confront our personal biases — yep, we all have them.


SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor@eugeneweekly.com

 

 

Traveling Lightly

Vacationing relatively guilt-free

BY KATE ROGERS GESSERT

This spring, I've heard more and more people worrying about the impact of their vacation plans on climate change. No big changes yet, but at least we're worrying. "I asked my family if we could spend our summer vacation on the Oregon Coast. But well, we're going to Costa Rica." "Europe is a long way to fly, but once we're there, we'll go hiking and camping." And me? I insisted we take Amtrak to a May wedding in California, though if the train is late, I'll miss teaching my evening class. I had planned to stay home from a friend's June wedding in New York state, but then my grown kids on the East Coast asked us to visit. To get there in a reasonable amount of time, we'll fly — adding vastly to our annual contribution to global warming.

Thirty-eight percent of Oregon's carbon dioxide emissions come from cars, trucks, and buses. In the U.S., we drive an average of 12,500 miles per vehicle per year in cars and light trucks (including SUVs and minivans) with average fuel efficiency of 22.5 miles and 17.4 miles a gallon respectively. Each passenger mile traveled in a car releases one pound of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, with roughly half a pound per passenger mile for train and intercity bus travel, and somewhat more than a pound per passenger mile for airplanes.

Airplanes contributed 10 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions in 2002. International flights are exempted from the Kyoto accord, though with aircraft emissions expected to increase five percent a year, they may cancel out Kyoto's progress. Carbon dioxide and other polluting gases spewed into the rarified air of the stratosphere have climate-change impacts far greater than ground-level emissions, which are partly absorbed by trees and oceans. Jets' vapor trails may trap warmth near the Earth's surface. Airports are enormous sources of air and noise pollution, bringing a wide range of health woes to the millions who live nearby.

Transportation choices about vacations bring many truly uncomfortable choices together. How can we say no to our families? "I can't come see you. It's bad for the atmosphere." Can we refuse our own desires for relaxation and adventure? Well, at least in Mexico or Bali? On the web and in conversations, I hear about alternatives and compromises: local bicycle and raft trips; train and bus travel; packing more passengers into fuel-efficient cars; teleconferences for business meetings; one longer vacation a year rather than several short ones, so people can stay longer when they travel far; renting hybrid cars (1-877-EV-RENTAL) and sailing on small, "green" cruise ships (www.clippercruise.com).

 

We can also enjoy global culture at home, where we can visit Willamette Valley ethnic festivals, enjoy a multitude of international concerts and restaurants, and make friends with people from many lands through LCC's English as a Second Language volunteer tutor program (463-5919) and the Friendship Foundation for International Students at UO (346-3206.) Best of all, our home state has enough beautiful wild places for many lifetimes of explorations.

One excellent way to mitigate travel effects is carbon offsets. Alternative energy nonprofits have created dozens of websites where you can calculate your carbon spending in automobile and airplane travel, then purchase an equivalent number of carbon credits. Nonprofits use these credits in various ways. Some plant and preserve trees (www.futureforests.com),an appealing but impermanent remedy: Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere until they are burned. Others fund wind power and energy-efficient building retrofits.

My favorite site so far is www.carboncounter.org,a collaborative effort of two Portland-based nonprofits, Climate Trust and Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps, an international relief organization, became involved "to reduce the threats millions face from climate-related disasters." Carbon Counter's projects, mostly here in the Northwest, include weatherizing Portland multi-family housing and commercial buildings; retrofitting a paper mill to decrease energy use while increasing utilization of recycled paper; and restoring riparian forests on the Deschutes and in Ecuador. Other excellent sites include www.greentagssusa.organd betterworldclub.com, a green alternative to AAA that offers carbon offsets with air reservations and car insurance.

With world travel and communications, our lives have opened and flourished. I don't think we can stop traveling. The best we can do, I believe, is to ponder how we can sometimes get the good experiences that come from travel at home or close to home, and to take our longer trips with restraint, realizing that in this area, as in so many others, we hold our planet's future in our hands.

Shades of Green is a monthly column about ways we can make our lives more ecologically sustainable. Send ideas and feedback to shadesofgreen@eugeneweekly.com

 

 

Cultural Incompetence

Allegations of discrimination at the UO College of Education.

BY KERA ABRAHAM

Shadiin Garcia is a graduate student of education leadership and a staff member for the Native American teacher program at the UO College of Education. Garcia, who is Laguna Pueblo and Chicana, moved to Eugene in the summer of 2003 with her partner, a faculty member in the UO Ethnic Studies program, and their two baby boys. Fed up with what she perceives as blatant discrimination at the UO College of Education, Garcia has compiled a thick packet of student testimonies, meeting minutes, grievances and violated policies related to equality at the college. She presents the information like the school principal she is training to become: calmly but firmly, each point backed by fact, her outrage tempered by her warm smile.

 

 

Why did you contact EW?

I wanted the general public to know about the ongoing discrimination at the UO College of Education. The college trains teachers and school administrators, but they don't enforce their own diversity policy. This institution is heralded for providing amazing educators, but its administrators and faculty are harassing, marginalizing and violating the basic rights of students. The public has to know what's going on because it's going to damage their kids.

How did you find out about this?

I was hired to provide academic support to Native American graduate students in Teacher Education. But the students didn't need a lot of academic support; they needed support in dealing with the racism coming out of the College of Ed. They were encountering hostility from professors and colleagues, or they were placed in schools with cooperating teachers or supervisors who were discriminatory.

What sparked the most recent surge of racial tension at the College of Ed?

In February 2004, the college sponsored an education career conference. A human resource person was talking about what you need to do at a job interview: give a firm handshake, make eye-to-eye contact, be assertive. One of my students, who is Cherokee, raised her hand and said, "How culturally sensitive are you to people whose values don't reflect that? In my culture, those things are considered rude." He said, "Think of it as a blemish, like a big nose. Acknowledge it, get past it and show them the great teacher you can be." The whole room was up in arms.

What did that lead to?

A debate around diversity within College of Ed classrooms, and the professors were ill equipped to deal with it. One of my students was told by a supervisor, "Don't say anything about this or you will compromise your practicum placement and a job." It wasn't just about the student who raised the question; all the Indian students and other students of color were now having to deal with the repercussions of it being a public conversation.

Couldn't that same incident have opened the doors to a constructive conversation?

If it was a safe, well-mediated conversation, it would provide a rich discussion and lead to teachable moments. But with this heightened awareness about racial tensions in the classrooms, and professors ill equipped to handle the conversations, threats started coming down to the students of color. Professors allowed white students to not have to work with Indian students. That climate of segregation became the norm.

How has the community reacted?

A few years ago Jefferson Middle School issued a boycott and said, "We will not take your practicum students from the College of Ed because they are culturally incompetent and are damaging our kids." We need more schools to follow their lead. More than 30 community groups, the Sapsik'walá [Native American teacher ed] students, the Ethnic Diversity Affairs Committee and Advocates for the Integration of Diversity in Education have come forward.

And the College of Education's response?

The college made a few concessions, but they were all ineffective. They hired a part-time ombudsperson, but he answers to the dean, and my students don't trust him. They hired a consultant to infuse diversity, but the lady didn't even know what cultural competency was. They hold faculty professional development seminars dealing with diversity and retaliation, but no one goes. There is an under-representation of students and faculty of color on the hiring committees. These aren't concessions that are made in good faith.

The college is committing a lot of money to make these reforms. Do you think that reflects a genuine concern, or are they trying to silence their critics?

Both. The College of Ed's concessions are very safe for them if the deans are on the committees that make the hiring and policy reform decisions. The college agrees that three very clear policies have been violated — the infusion of diversity policy, the Affirmative Action policy and the retaliation policy. These things aren't just happening to one or two people. The climate of fear is real.

Do you think that the discrimination is intentional?

The first time you hear about the problem and make an effort to fix it, that's free. Years of it? That spells out intention. If you pin it on one person, it doesn't get to the sophistication of racism. We can get rid of the dean, but who would be on the hiring committee to replace him? Not my face. Not a multicultural educator at the schools or the director of ethnic studies. The white, trained professionals, mostly men, who are in these positions would make the decisions. That's what institutionalized racism is: The rules are set up to protect a white, elite institution.

You're describing a sort of malignant cancer, where you can cut out a tumor but the disease remains.

Unless we're given real input. We want a collaborative effort. People will scream at me and say, "I don't have time to listen to your diversity agenda." But it doesn't make any sense to say that cultural competence is not your agenda. It's our agenda, as teachers and administrators. It gives us the tools that are necessary to meet the needs of our students.

So what's next?

We've tried grievances, we've given presentations, we've had polite conversations, we've written letters. We've done all that, but none of the college's responses address the student climate now. So we're kicking it up a notch. We've written a letter with a list of demands and we will not take the pressure off until they address the real issues.

If you were making all the decisions, how would you fix this?

A collaborative effort with stakeholders who don't represent dominant culture, working together to change the institution to embrace equity and justice, would do it. It's about commitment and will. Our students are being expelled from high school for speaking Spanish. Students are being told, "Be quiet; you could get deported." These incidents are a direct result of teachers who are culturally incompetent. It leads to damaged self-esteem and the exacerbation of the achievement gap.

What should a well-intentioned but culturally incompetent teacher do?

I think great teachers need to know three things: their students, themselves, and their resources. If I want to be a good teacher to you, I need to understand that I'm looking at you through my lens. How have I been socially constructed to see you? If I don't have everything I need to help you achieve your highest potential, then I need to draw on all these resources that are out there.

 

 

 

Toxic Brew

Hynix leads TRTK reporting with a river of acid.

BY ALAN PITTMAN

Industry in Eugene outputs nearly 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals a year, according to the city's Toxics Right to Know (TRTK) database. That's about 120 pounds. of lethal chemicals for every man, woman and child in the city.

Forty-one companies reported their use of 750 different chemicals in 2003, the latest year data was available. About half of the chemicals were shipped away in products or as waste. About 10 percent were released to the environment through the air, surface water, on-site disposal or sewer.

Hynix output the most chemicals, 6 million pounds, accounting for about a third of the total toxic output in Eugene. Forrest Paint ranked second with 5.3 million pounds. The Willamette Valley Company was third with 1.6 million pounds.

A.M. Todd lead in releases to the environment, with three quarters of a million pounds of toxics released. Other leading environmental releasers included Lanz Cabinet (143,000 pounds), Weyerhaeuser (143,000 pounds) and Hynix (132,000 pounds).

Hynix was given $60 million in tax breaks for its west Eugene chip plant. The corporation uses a river of dangerous industrial acids and solvents in its chip making process. It output 1.2 million pounds of sulfuric acid, 655,000 pounds of isopropyl alcohol, 522,000 of a propylene glycol compound, and 299,000 of an acetate compound. In the past five years, Hynix's toxic output has increased 7 percent.

Most of Hynix's toxic chemicals ended up shipped from the factory as waste or in products, the company reported. But the corporation released a total of 132,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to the environment, including: 83,000 pounds of nitrates, 17,000 pounds of isopropyl alcohol and 12,000 pounds of ammonia.

Hynix also leads in the use of the most hazardous chemicals — those that are highly hazardous or extremely persistent bioaccumulative toxins. Hynix uses more than half of the citywide total of these highly dangerous chemicals. For example, Hynix's 600 tons a year of sulfuric acid would fill about 1,700 bathtubs with the burning chemical. Hynix also used a total of about 400,000 pounds of corrosive hydrochloric, hydrofluoric and nitric acids.

Forrest Paint outputs large quantities of toxic solvents including toluene (1 million pounds), acetone (900,000 pounds) and xylene (641,000 pounds). Most of the chemicals were shipped in products or as waste. But Forrest Paint released 10,000 pounds of toluene to the environment, 11,000 pounds of acetone and 6,000 pounds of xylene. Forrest Paint has won praise from environmentalists for installing cutting edge filters to reduce its air emissions. In the past five years, the company has cut its toxic air releases in half to about 49,000 pounds in 2003.

The Willamette Valley Company uses it's 1.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals to make chemical products for wood treatment and coatings in west Eugene. Most of the chemicals are isocyanates, which can severely irritate the respiratory tract. Almost all the chemicals end up shipped in products, the company reported.

A.M. Todd owns East Earth Herb in west Eugene which output 887,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, mostly ethanol and alcohol used to make herbal extracts. The company flushed most of the chemicals to the local sewage treatment plant.

Voters overwhelmingly passed Eugene's Toxics Right to Know charter amendment in 1996. Citizens gathered signatures and put the measure on the ballot after Hynix (then Hyundai) refused to provide an accounting of what dangerous chemicals it was bringing to town.

Hynix, the local Chamber of Commerce and their business allies have been fighting the popular law in the City Council, state Legislature and state courts ever since. Opponents didn't defeat the toxics law, but they did succeed in reducing fees for big chemical users like Hynix at the expense of small chemical users. Fees for Hynix have dropped 90 percent, while small companies have had to pay twice as much.

To reduce the burden on smaller manufacturers, the City Council considered a proposal to broaden the program to include dry cleaners, gas stations and other chemically intensive businesses. But the council withdrew the proposal earlier this year in the face of strong business opposition. The city imposed the higher fees for smaller companies and is now lobbying to remove or raise the fee cap in the Legislature.