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Eugene Weekly : News : 05.12.05



News Briefs: Only Rumors of Big MoneyJeff Cohen on Media Spin | Lawn Chem Kills FishCutting up Cancer | Country Fair Dates Set | Swan Meets Peacock | Corrections/Clarifications |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

News:

Tough Calls for LRAPA


Board wrestles with board appointment dispute, director search.

News:

Getting Soaked


Friends of Cougar left out as vendor takes over.





ONLY RUMORS OF BIG MONEY

As the Springfield school board race picked up stream in recent weeks, rumors flew about campaign contributions to candidates Jeff Bantz and Wade Richardson, who are challenging incumbents Al King and Bill Medford (see "Divided on Diversity," 5/5). The Oregon Bus Project insinuated that Bantz and Richardson were receiving thousands of dollars from the Republican Party and/or national religious groups, but the Bus Project's leaders had no specifics. Bantz and Richardson denied the rumors, but they, too, refused to offer more details.

The candidates' campaign finance reports offer more information. The Committee to Elect Jeff Bantz filed a certificate of limited contributions and expenditures, which means that the campaign does not have to report its finances if it neither receives nor spends more than $2,000. The lack of a second pre-election report suggests that the Bantz campaign remains below that limit. The Committee to Elect Wade Richardson submitted a report detailing $530 in small private contributions, $300 of it from Richardson's friend Reis Kash. The report fails to account for the Banz-Richardson yard signs, but Richardson says he will submit an amendment to include $425 in-kind contributions from the Bantz campaign.

As of May 5, Medford had raised $1,300 in contributions and King had raised $3,100, all from small private donors. The post-election finance reports are due June 16.

Kera Abraham

 

JEFF COHEN ON MEDIA SPIN

Jeff Cohen

Media watchdog and former Fox and MSNBC pundit Jeff Cohen will be speaking on media bias and the role of independent media in Eugene and Corvallis next week as part of a five-city speaking tour.

Cohen begins his tour in Portland Wednesday, May 18, and speaks in Eugene at 7:30 pm Thursday, May 19 at Lillis Hall 182 at the Lundquist College of Business on the UO campus. Admission is $10 for community members, $5 for those "living lightly" and free for students with ID. The event is sponsored by the UO Cultural Forum, Eugene Media Action, Northwest Media Project, Eugene Weekly and the Justice Not War Coalition.

At 9 am Friday, May 20, Cohen will address OSU students and faculty in Corvallis. Call 484-9167 or e-mail dzupan@msn.com for details.

Cohen will focus on two topics: "overcoming mainstream news spin and exploring the role of independent media." Cohen is founder of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), served as communications director of the Kucinich for President campaign, and co-authored The Wizards Of Media Oz: Behind The Curtain Of Mainstream News with Norman Solomon.

 

LAWN CHEM KILLS FISH

The Clean Water for Salmon Campaign, a collaboration of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC), reports that the use of the insecticide carbaryl is on the rise in the Northwest. Carbaryl's popularity increased 10-fold after the EPA banned the insecticides Dursban and diazinon, both carcinogenic neurotoxins, because of their impacts on threatened Northwest salmon. The NCAP study shows that carbaryl is also toxic to the nervous system and a likely carcinogen, affecting fish much in the same way as Dursban and diazinon. People are exposed to carbaryl when they come into contact with treated lawns or eat fish that have absorbed the chemical.

The EPA's original assessment of carbaryl placed no restrictions on the chemical. "It was obvious that the assessment was done very poorly," says Aimée Code of NCAP. In response to a notice of intent to sue from NCAP, WTC and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the EPA has agreed to re-assess the effects of carbaryl on people, fish and the environment. Code hopes that the new assessment will result in restrictions or an outright ban on the chemical.

The EPA is also responding to a petition from farmworker, beekeeper and environmental groups seeking a ban on carbaryl. The open comment period on the petition will continue through the end of May. Learn more at www.pesticide.org/carbarylaction.html

Kera Abraham

 

CUTTING UP CANCER

Cancer is no laughing matter. But thanks to two RNs who also happen to be experienced circus performers, the serious message of cancer prevention takes the stage this week with an adult-themed clown performance.

Nurses Jake Weinstein (the show's primary actor) and Ellen Rubin created a theater piece revolving around "toxic politics" — policies allowing toxins and carcinogens to be produced, distributed and released unchecked into our environment. This atypical approach to dealing with a tragic issue is sponsored by Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA), an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the burden toxins place on our environment and personal health.

OTA Executive Director Lisa Arkin feels it's crucial for people to educate themselves about the link between toxins and cancer. "Scientific and health research is teaching us that humans are not separate from the conditions of our environment," she said.

Titled "Body Burden: A Clown Show About Cancer and the Environment," the writers stress that our bodies carry a heavy burden of toxins and carcinogens regardless of how healthy our lifestyle. Eating organic food and drinking pure water help. But until we can strap personal atmosphere tanks to our backs, we're all forced to breathe the same polluted air. Toxic chemicals such as perchlorate, carried to some pesticide-free farms by contaminated irrigation water, sometimes taint even wholesome organic produce.

Body Burden confronts the epidemic of breast cancer using humor to target high school and college-age students. Laughing about a very difficult subject such as cancer enables a person to set aside their fears and be open to new information, said Larkin. "Through humor we may find a new way to cope, or find a sense of relief."

The performance takes its name from a type of testing known as "body burden screening," a form of biological monitoring which tests human body fluids and tissue for the presence of cancer-causing agents.

Shows are at 2 pm May 15, UO School of Music, Room 198 (free); 7 pm May 15, The First United Methodist Church; and 7 pm May 18, Maude Kerns Art Center ($5 suggested donation). — Vanessa Salvia

COUNTRY FAIR DATES SET

The 36th annual Oregon Country Fair will take place July 8-10 near Veneta and tickets will go on sale Saturday, May 14 at TicketsWest outlets, EMU on campus and by phone at (800) 992-8499.

Price of advance tickets this year is $40 plus a $1 service charge for three-day admission, or $13 for Friday and Sunday, and $16 for Saturday. No tickets are sold at the fair.

OCF news and updates can be found at www.oregoncountryfair.organd a complete performance schedule will be published on the site in late May.

SWAN MEETS PEACOCK

Unless you're a Suicide Girl, the term "makeover" doesn't bring to mind blue Mohawks, purple streaked hair or ladies with tribal piercings. Well, not unless you just won a makeover from Hair Virtuoso, a newly opened salon with the subtitle, "Not Yo' Mama's Salon."

Cece Borrego (left) stands with makeover winner Heather McWaid, her daughter Danica, and stylist Heidi Thomas.

Last Saturday 11-year-old Danica McWaid made sure her mom, Heather, went to bed early by spinning a tale involving a Mother's Day trip to the coast. What Heather didn't know was that she'd been picked for a free makeover package at Hair Virtuoso, which included a limosine ride from Sunshine Limo's and a Mother's Day brunch at Ambrosia Restaurant.

When the limo arrived Sunday morning, Heather was confused. "I was like, what's going on?" she said. "How can my daughter afford this limo? Great, she's dealing drugs."

The Mother's Day makeover was the first of a series planned by salon owner CeCe Borrego. Sitting at the salon waiting for Heather and Danica to arrive, she was excited to share her plans for Heather and for Danica, even though the makeover was officially just for the winning mom. "See, Danica has really curly, hard-to-manage hair," she said. "And so as part of the makeover, I'm going to relax Danica's hair if she wants me to. And I know that will make Heather happy because Danica'll be happy."

That three-hour process costs more than $300. "There is no way I could have afforded that," Heather said, looking over at her daughter. "But she really likes it." Danica, who had barely spoken a word since the media arrived, smiled shyly and nodded.

Standing outside Ambrosia, Heather and Danica were all smiles. And with their sassy rainbow of hair colors, the group got quite a few stares. Of course you don't have to leave looking like a peacock. But if that's what you want, Borrego and Thomas can do it.

Which worked for Heather, who wanted something different. No, this was not your typical sorority girl frosted highlights and equally frosty makeup makeover. This was a makeover Eugene style.

To enter into the next drawing for a free makeover at Hair Virtuoso call the salon at 868-1189. — Melissa Bearns

 

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

Last week's story four of the Springfield School Board candidates ("Divided on Diversity") contained a factual error. Candidate Jeff Bantz is not a Mormon. He identifies his religion as simply "Christian."

Last week's Happening People profile of Cindy Ingram had some errors. Ingram tells us she is already in grad school at UO, wrapping up her first year in planning and public policy management. Also, her partner plays lead guitar in the band Silas, www.silasband.com

 

 

 

SLANT

The deadline for ballots in the May elections is 8 pm Tuesday, May 17, and in case you missed our selected endorsements last week, we favor Charles Martinez and Aria Seligmann for the 4J School Board positions, Rich Cunningham for the LCC Board, and Tom Lininger and either Don Kimball or Tom Atkinson for the contested ESD positions. In Springfield we endorse Jonathan Light, Al King and Bill Medford. See our editorial May 5.

In this column last week we reported on rumors that Connor & Woolley, major holders of downtown real estate, are preparing to invest heavily in downtown residential and commercial development and renovation. If true, this is the best news we've heard in years. Is it true? The major players aren't talking yet, but our sources are reliable and tell us an announcement is coming, but now would be "premature." Downtown is part of an urban renewal district, so developers of residential buildings will likely take advantage of available tax breaks, and we might see proposals for other subsidies. Eugene isn't known for high design standards and proactive city planning, but the face of our downtown could be about to change dramatically. This would be a good time for the creation of a design advisory group that might include UO architecture and landscape professors. The city could also look at providing new incentives for desirable kinds of development downtown, such as mixed residential/commercial buildings, and "green" designs. And this is also a good time to revisit the concept of the Emerald Canal, a millrace-like waterway through downtown that could in itself do wonders for revitalizing our urban core.

Mayor Kitty Piercy continues to get roasted in the local daily and on talk radio for her simple choice of not planning to attend the up-coming Eugene-Springfield Mayors' Prayer Breakfast. Everyone with an opinion regarding religion and government is jumping into the fray, but maybe that's not such a bad thing, as irritating as some of the comments might be. Piercy's not dividing the community. The community's already divided. Talking about these issues is the only way we can build common ground. Let's start with the Constitution. The 1st Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That's it. As individuals we can interpret it anyway we want, but two centuries of constitutional case law have consistently upheld the concept of separation of church and state. The big cross comes down from the city park on Skinner's Butte, the Ten Commandments monument gets removed from an Alabama courthouse, kids can pray at home but not at school. It's not that complicated: Religion and government don't mix, and mayors are government officials. Some people get it, some people don't. The R-G editorial board doesn't get it. Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken doesn't get it. Kitty Piercy gets it.

Oregon's education system is being eroded by lack of funding and unpredictability. Class sizes are too large, the arts are squeezed, school districts are struggling to cut millions from their budgets. We can blame the economy for part of it, but an even bigger factor is Oregon's flawed tax system that has shifted the burden from corporations to citizens. But what is our Legislature doing about it? Surprise! More tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals. The Oregon House this week voted 34-25 in favor of House Bill 2332-A. Under this bill, which is bound for the Senate, investors and businesses will get to shelter 50 percent of their investment profits from state income taxes, while workers' paychecks will continue to be taxed at current rates. The negative impact on schools is predicted to be $200 million a year. The rationale is that lower taxes will boost employment; but in the real world, better education is more likely to create jobs and boost the economy. Does anyone else feel like they are being trickled down upon?


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

 

 

Tough Calls for LRAPA

Board wrestles with board appointment dispute, director search.

BY KERA ABRAHAM

The Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority (LRAPA) board is now confronting two major decisions: the addition of a new Eugene board member and the appointment of a new executive director. Both issues are loaded with political nuance. According to Oregon Toxics Alliance Board President David Monk, the outcomes of these decisions will indicate whether the agency intends to serve the interests of large industrial polluters or steer back toward its core mission of protecting the public health.

Eugene's short shrift

The LRAPA board's composition is a sticky subject. In March 2003, Eugene city attorney Glenn Klein pointed out that an increase in Eugene's population merits an additional Eugene representative on the LRAPA board. At the time, at-large representative Carol Tannenbaum had just been appointed to a two-year term to give the board seven members – an odd number, as mandated by state law. Upon the completion of Tannenbaum's term in February 2005, Klein advised, the board should replace her position with a Eugene representative.

David Monk

But in January 2005, a month before the end of Tannenbaum's term, the board re-appointed her rather than making space for a Eugene representative. At the April public meeting, Interim Director Jim Johnson informed the board that law mandated another Eugene member. Tannenbaum could resign to make space for the addition, Johnson said, but board chair Dave Ralston protested that option, saying that he did not want Eugene representatives to have a majority on the board. Instead, Ralston made a successful motion to add both a Eugene member and a second "at-large" representative, bringing the total number of board members to nine.

Some local citizens think that's unfair. A letter signed by 21 Lane County residents, including members of several neighborhood associations and two public interest attorneys, called on Eugene's city manager, mayor and councilors to press the LRAPA board to remain at seven members by asking Tannenbaum to resign and replacing her position with a Eugene representative.

"We feel strongly that LRAPA's board is acting inappropriately — and almost certainly illegally — by retaining an 'at-large' representative and appointing a second one at the same time that a new Eugene representative is seated," the letter reads, citing Oregon statute 468A.120. "It is not up to LRAPA's board to decide this — the statute is clear."

Johnson, however, says that the law is not clear on the subject. According to advising attorney Paul Nolte, the statute doesn't address what to do with an at-large position when it is no longer needed to make an odd number of board members. Yes, the board erred in re-appointing Tannenbaum, Johnson says, but other board members can't force her off now unless they re-consider the motion to appoint her. It's hard to know how to proceed because the dilemma has no precedent. "We're all making this up," Johnson says.

Director search

On May 3, the LRAPA board met in executive session to discuss candidates for the executive director position, vacant since the January dismissal of former director Brian Jennison (see "Up in the Air," EW cover story 4/28).

One of the candidates for director is Sharon Banks, current LRAPA finance/human resources/special project manager. Banks has been highly involved in recent turmoil at the agency that resulted in five layoffs in a three-month period. She had told EW twice that she would not apply for the vacant director position, but she changed her mind after the application deadline when she saw that many of the 12 applicants lacked the necessary experience for the job. "I decided at the last minute to apply for the position," she says. "I just got the idea that maybe I was qualified." Johnson accepted her late application along with one other.

 

 

Getting Soaked

Friends of Cougar left out as vendor takes over.

BY SPRUCE HOUSER

Looking out at a pristine scene of lush, moss-covered old-growth Douglas firs while immersed and soothed by a never-ending stream of hot water, it is easy to feel that one has somehow stumbled into the Garden of Eden. After passing by an incredibly beautiful waterfall leaping off the side of the mountain along the access path, most visitors to Terwilliger (known to many as "Cougar") Hot Springs have a sense that they are entering a very special and unique place. It is a place that has touched the lives of many thousands of people.

Native American tribes visited the springs during their migrations from the interior of this region to the coast. Settlers have known about the springs since the late 1800s. The greatest level of visitation has been since the 1970s when they were discovered by the "hippie counterculture" of the Northwest. If the Oregon Country Fair is the quintessential expression and symbol of this culture, Cougar Hot Springs may well qualify as a close second. For the past 30 years, it has evolved to become a major meeting ground and resting place.

The springs are located on public land in the Willamette National Forest. Because of their recent history, management has become a contentious issue. In the early days, volunteers maintained the trail and cleaned the pool area. Night-time partying by the less conscientious caused the Forest Service to institute a ban on overnight camping. In 1998, fees began to be collected for the first time for the day use of the springs. There were skirmishes with the counterculture over both of these issues.

These skirmishes are now taking a quantum leap. The Forest Service has now signed a contract with a private vendor to take over the management of the springs. Umbrella Properties, which also manages the Hoodoo Ski Area, will assume this role on May 13. It has already announced an increase in the daily fee from $3 to $5.

The currently organized volunteer group that advocates on behalf of the springs is called Friends of Cougar (FOC). This group was not contacted prior to the awarding of the contract to the private vendor. Umbrella Properties is a corporation based in Coburg that also manages over 1,500 rental units in the Eugene area. FOC was not happy to learn that they had been completely bypassed and left out of the bidding process to manage the springs.

According to Greg Thorne, founder and president of FOC: "We were only informed about the change in management after the decision was already made. We were not given an opportunity to participate in any kind of bidding process."

Sandy Ratliff is the recreation assistant for the McKenzie River Ranger District. In response to an interview, Ratliff said that although the district "is aware of the Friends of Cougar Hot Springs," the group was not invited to participate because there was no bidding process. Ratliff continued: "The operation of Terwilliger Hot Springs is authorized under a special use permit. There was no bidding process because we amended an existing permit." Ratliff was asked whether any kind of public announcement was made about an impending change in management of the springs. "No announcement was made since a contract was not being offered," she said.

In another interview, Chuck Shepard of Umbrella Properties was asked whether it seemed that the FOC group was being given a fair chance to participate in the process. He said he was not aware of an organized volunteer presence at the springs, and reiterated the Forest Service position that this was not a conventional bidding process since an expansion was being granted to a previously existing permit. He also expressed an opinion that the FOC was naive about what it would take to manage the springs: "I know that they are wanting to manage it and say that they will do it for much less, but they have no idea of what the costs are." Thorne countered by stating that with volunteers covering some of the maintenance, the day use fee could be kept at $3.

FOC and Umbrella Properties/Hoodoo Recreation Services are now in direct communication with each other as a result of the controversy that has been generated by the issue. There appears to be a prospect of some cooperation between the two in regard to future management. As the agreement is only for one trial year to see whether it works, Ratliff was asked if FOC might still have a chance to officially take part in the management of the hot springs after the year is over. "At the end of the trial year the Forest Service and Hoodoo will jointly evaluate whether Terwilliger can be successfully managed as a concession operation," Ratliff said. "If mutually agreed upon, the Forest Service may amend without competition Hoodoo's existing special use permit for up to five years."

Members of the public who would like to have their voices heard on the hot springs management issue can do so by contacting any or all of the three parties involved. The Friends of Cougar website is www.cougar.org;Willamette National Forest, McKenzie District office (541) 822-3381 or fax 822-7254; Umbrella Properties/ Hoodoo Recreation Services, e-mail Umbrella96@aol.com (Shepard has made this address public on the FOC website and is inviting feedback).