Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Taxpayers lose big on the timber salvage project.
Out in a Blaze
Forest defender Joan Norman passes on.
City Gives Hynix Millions
Piercy's deal with corporation could cost $100 million.
Bachelor roosters need a home.
Terror in the South Hills
Three days in a Sanipac prison
Happening People: Ruth Beller and Sterling Wallach
COUNTY TESTS KIDS FOR LEAD
In response to high lead levels in 10 percent of recently tested local children, the Lane County Public Health Department will conduct more testing to determine whether lead poisoning is a widespread problem in the area.
The county tested 50 children, ages 6 months to 5 years, who had been exposed to certain risk factors for lead poisoning. Three of the children had blood lead levels at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter and two had levels between 5 and 10 micrograms per deciliter. The Center for Disease Control considers lead levels at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter elevated, but Lane County Public Health Department specialist Tamara Wilhite says that even half that amount is worrisome.
"Most science shows that any level of lead is elevated," she says. "We determined that at 5 [micrograms per deciliter] or above we would try to do some kind of intervention through education." Lead has been linked to a variety of health problems in children.
Wilhite is working with the county's Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program to test more kids for lead. The Lane County Health Department invites the general public to two sessions of free blood lead testing, limited to the first 350 kids ages 6 months to 5 years. The first session will be held at the mental health building at 2411 MLK Blvd. on Monday, Aug. 15. The second session will be held next to the Willamalane Park and Swim Center on G Street in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 16. Both sessions will run from 8 am to 5 pm. — Kera Abraham
VIP PARKING FOR HYBRIDS?
So you drive a hybrid car that cuts back on fossil fuel emissions. Does that make you special? Former city councilor and current LRAPA board member Gary Rayor thinks so. Rayor wrote to the City Council on Aug. 2, suggesting that the city consider an ordinance to offer parking incentives for hybrid vehicles. He referenced an ordinance adopted by the city of Aspen, Colo., that exempts hybrid vehicles from two-hour parking restrictions in residential permit zones and allows them to park in high occupancy vehicle zones without a permit.
Rayor suggested a similar ordinance in Eugene that could offer free or extended parking in city parking lots, on the street and in special zones such as near the UO.
Mayor Kitty Piercy thinks it's an idea worth considering, and she plans to incorporate it into upcoming discussions about a sustainable business initiative. "I hope there will be a lot of ideas about how we can use incentives and other encouragements for sustainable practices," she said. — Kera Abraham
LRAPA BOARD PICKS MEMBER
The Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority board of directors appointed its second at-large member on Aug. 9. William Carpenter, an environmental lawyer and former chemical engineer from Springfield, won the board seat with five of eight votes.
Politically, Carpenter's record is a mixed bag. As an attorney, he has represented clients who sued the Environmental Protection Agency for violating clean air standards. As an engineer, he has worked for oil companies in Arizona and California. He currently serves on the Springfield Planning Commission and a committee assisting the UO law student group Friends of Land Air Water.
Carpenter said that his priorities as an LRAPA board member will include finding consensus on divisive issues and avoiding mandatory auto emission controls in the county. He emphasized that clean air draws people to the region, and maintaining the air quality makes good economic sense.
David Monk, former executive director of the Oregon Toxics Alliance, questioned the legality of having two at-large seats on the board. He said that the state statute clearly mandates a seven-member board at this time, with four representatives from Eugene and no at-large members. He advised the board that a group of citizens might sue the agency on that point.
Tight funding and staffing shortfalls are still problems for LRAPA. The board voted against offering retroactive severance payments to two employees who had been laid off without notice in mid-February.
— Kera Abraham
CELEBRATION BOOKS BANDS
Band bookings are wrapping up for the Eugene Celebration coming up the last weekend in September. The list so far includes Rock & Roll Soldiers, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, North Mississippi Allstars, Catie Curtis, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Prezident Brown and Eleven Eyes. The EC has a website (www.EugeneCelebration.com)with links and e-mail addresses for those wanting to get involved in the big community bash.
Dates for the EC are later than usual to draw more college students. The rain-or-shine event begins Friday, Sept. 30 and continues through the weekend.
This year's theme is "Live on Broadway," and the annual arts festival will be more compact this year, featuring "an enhanced footprint that concentrates stages and attractions in and around the main thoroughfare of downtown," say organizers.
As in previous years, a Saturday morning parade is planned, along with live entertainment on several stages, a Community Causeway of local non-profit agencies, KidZone activities for families, Health and Well-Being educational displays, a pet parade and regional and local food vendors.
STATEWIDE CONFAB COMING
A statewide conference entitled "The Promise of Paradise" is being planned for Sept. 15-16 at the UO. Among the breakout session topics are transportation, economic development, the "Big Look," Measure 37, and planning technology. Keynote speakers will include Mayor Kitty Piercy and Ellen Lowe, who will talk about "Reclaiming Our Oregon." Early registration is available at www.lcog.org/opiThe "Big Look" refers to a comprehensive review of Oregon's land use program negotiated between Oregon House and Senate leaders in the legislative session that just wrapped up. In conjunction with SB 82, a $600,000 appropriation will commission a new Oregon Task Force on Land Use Planning. The committee will make an interim report to the 2007 Legislature and issue a final report to the 2009 Legislature.
GET ON BOARD
The annual recruitment for city of Eugene boards, committees and commissions is now under way and concludes with a Sept. 9 paperwork deadline. Applicants are being sought for several advisory and intergovernmental panels.
Open positions include the Planning Commission, Budget Committee, Human Rights Commission, Historical Review Board, LRAPA, Toxics Board, Metro Wastewater, and Whilamut Citizen Planning Committee.
Candidates will be interviewed Oct. 4-6, the City Council will take action on appointments Oct. 24 and terms will begin Nov. 1. For information, call 682-5406 or visit www.eugene-or.gov
A full house turned out at City Club in late July to hear former Eugene 4J Superintendent Tom Payzant talk about education. Payzant, in his five tumultuous years here in the 1970s, gave us public kindergartens and alternative schools. Now he's superintendent of Boston Public Schools, and he's still pushing a maverick agenda, predicting Boston will have full-day public preschool for 4-year-olds in the next few years. Didn't say how he'd pay for it. Boston also has alternative schools, but they come with rules on who gets to attend. Half the seats are reserved for kids within walking distance. His talk was taped for broadcast Aug. 8 on KLCC 89.7 FM. We hear KLCC is considering broadcasting Friday City Club meetings every Monday evening, instead of every other Monday. KLCC's Adrienne Wilson left to pursue a career in library science, so the station is eyeing her Civic Conversations time slot that alternated with City Club. Providing more high-quality local issues content is always a good idea. A decision is expected before City Club resumes in September. Might want to send the KLCC managers a note (www.klcc.org).
All's quiet in Salem this week after the 2005 Legislature fizzled to a close. Important state business was left undone. Measure 37 implementation remains unresolved — not such bad news considering the failed plan endorsed by Kulongoski would have allowed eased land-use restrictions to be passed on to new owners. Let's hope the whole M37 mess is ruled unconstitutional in the circuit court challenge by 1000 Friends of Oregon. Sighs of relief followed news that schools survived attempted evisceration, but education funding for the future is left hanging, while our flawed and unfair state tax system continues unchallenged under Kulongoski's "leadership." Civil unions will likely go to the voters in 2006. Conservatives who campaigned so effectively for the ban on gay marriages last November are confident they will get an equally strong turnout to fight civil unions, but we predict a very different fight. "Same-sex marriage" still stirs a gut reaction in many Oregonians, but "civil unions" does not carry that emotional baggage. House Speaker Karen Minnis managed to keep SB 1000 from a floor vote, worried that it would pass. Her ideology and undemocratic tactics make her a big target if she seeks a fifth term in 2006. She represents a conservative suburban area east of Portland, but it's not that conservative.
Thousands of gatherings were held around the world this past weekend to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to mourn the 300,000 who died. Most events were organized by peace activists, but not every hawk refrained from squawking. An e-mail from the Ayn Rand Insitute (www.aynrand.org)declared that "America should be proud to have dropped the Bomb," and notes that "in the reconstruction of Japan there were no insurgents, no Japanese roadside bombs killing our soldiers. … Our military strategists in Iraq could learn from those who, 60 years ago, decided to spare no means in bringing the Japanese nation to its knees." Unfortunately, such an idiotic comparison makes perfect sense to many across our nation who would just as soon see the entire Middle East "turned to glass."
We wrote a bit in this column last week about the problems associated with people downtown who are transient and/or homeless, and we got some good news as we were going to press. ShelterCare's Shankle Safe Haven in Glenwood has received funding for four additional beds for overnight shelter. The facility can now accommodate 16 adults with severe mental illness for the next two years. Eugene has some residents who choose the vagabond life temporarily to escape conventional responsibilities, but most people we see begging on street corners, sleeping in alleys and camping along the river are simply incapable of holding jobs and managing resources. Many end up in psychiatric wards or in jail, burdening taxpayers. Hats off to organizations such as ShelterCare and its 35 years of dedicated work. To get involved, call 686-1262.
Hey people! Let's get those Best of Eugene ballots turned in so we can start counting. Look for the full-page ballots in our last few issues. Check your birdcage, unwrap those fish. Stains will not disqualify your ballot. Well, some stains. Be sure to put your name and phone number at the bottom. We'll be giving away a getaway for two at the Oregon Coast and some EW T-shirts. But ya gotta do the ballot thing. Can't find a ballot anywhere? Check our website for a printable ballot to be mailed in, faxed or dropped off.
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, email@example.com
Taxpayers lose big on the timber salvage project.
BY KERA ABRAHAM
In July 2002, the Biscuit Fire blazed through 500,000 acres in the Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon, sparking an intense controversy over post-fire forest management. The Forest Service adopted a plan to log 372 million board feet from the burned areas — the largest salvage operation in the agency's recent history — prompting a slew of lawsuits from environmental groups and ongoing protests at the site. The Forest Service claims that the logging is imperative for the struggling local economy, but early sales indicate that taxpayers will lose big on the project.
Using a loophole created by the Bush administration, the Forest Service declared an economic emergency to allow sales to move forward despite public appeals. But the 12 sales now under contract — comprising 67 million board feet of timber over 3,500 acres of old growth and mixed-growth forest — fell dramatically short of agency expectations. A non-partisan watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, calls the Biscuit salvage project "one of the biggest money losers in our nation's history."
So far, Biscuit salvage timber has fetched an average of $75 per thousand board feet, compared with earlier Forest Service estimates of $187 to $250 per thousand board feet. The total sales to date have a contract value of about $5 million, but Forest Service Spokeswoman Patty Burel says that the Forest Service has spent roughly $5 million planning them.
In March 2004, the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest completed an analysis of the financial consequences of the Biscuit salvage project. The report estimates that taxpayers would lose $22 million on a 300 million board foot salvage project, including planning, administration and cleanup. But costs are proving to be even higher, because the report assumes an optimistic selling price that is four times the actual selling price for the initial sales. And the report doesn't factor in the costs of long-term recovery efforts or losses to the local tourism and fishing industries.
Retired forester Bob Wolf, who helped draft the National Forest Management Act of 1976, did a 13-year cash flow analysis on Forest Service timber sales. He says that taxpayers have lost an average of $985 per acre on every timber sale in the Siskiyou National Forest since 1992. In regards to the Biscuit salvage sales, Wolf says, "It doesn't take a genius to see that if you're only getting $75 per thousand board feet, you're losing your shirt."
Why would the Forest Service intentionally lose money? Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, says that the agency doesn't lose out — the public does. The Forest Service keeps income from timber sales in a slush fund, but taxpayers foot the bill for planning and administration. "To the Forest Service, there's no such thing as a cost," he says. "What it costs to you and me, to them is a bigger budget. They get to pay themselves bigger salaries, hire more people, build a bigger empire. And salvage logging is a great way to do it."
What's more, Stahl believes that the Forest Service set the Biscuit salvage project up for failure for political reasons. Originally the agency planned to log 90 million board feet, but expanded the project four-fold in response to a report funded by the timber industry. That required more planning that stalled logging operations for nearly a year, and now the Forest Service is blaming environmental lawyers for the wait. During the delay the burned trees have decayed, lowering their value.
"The Forest Service said, 'Let's use Biscuit to show that these damn environmentalists get in the way of cutting trees,'" Stahl says. "Biscuit is going to be their poster child for how planning and NEPA cause analysis paralysis." NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act, a federal law passed in 1969 that requires public agencies to study the environmental and public health impacts of major federal projects.
NEPA is already under fire in Washington, D.C. A federal transportation bill aims to streamline NEPA by eliminating the public process and allowing road building to continue while appeals are pending. In addition, a congressional task force is reviewing NEPA, possibly in an attempt to overhaul the law. "They're trying to build a record on carefully orchestrated public hearings that NEPA doesn't work, and Biscuit will be front and center their example," Stahl says.
U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) seems to support that effort. In a July 13 op-ed in the R-G, Smith wrote, "I believe that the Biscuit Fire aftermath requires Congress to update our laws to address the environmental catastrophes left in the wake of wildfire."
Rolf Skar, campaign director for the Siskiyou Regional Education Project, says that the Biscuit salvage project also bucks against the Northwest Forest Plan, a 1994 law that prioritizes ecological values over economics in public forest management. He suggests that by planning an unusually large operation in areas normally off-limits to logging, the Forest Service purposely bit off more than it could chew. "The only way to connect the dots is to assume that the folks in Washington, D.C., wanted to rewrite this project to include the roadless areas and the old growth reserves. Now we have politicians setting the stage to pass Healthy Forests Part II," he says, referring to federal legislation that gives the Forest Service expanded authority to log in sensitive areas.
Native Forest Council President Tim Hermach puts it bluntly: "The Biscuit salvage project is clearly a scam to transfer public wealth to industry. There's nothing honest about the timber industry. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has become equally dishonest."
Out in a Blaze
Forest defender Joan Norman passes on.
BY KERA ABRAHAM
At 4:30 am on March 7, 72-year-old Joan Norman sat in a lawn chair in the cold and fog with her cane and her glaucoma medication, smack in the middle of a bridge that logging trucks would have to cross to begin cutting old growth trees scorched by the Biscuit Fire. When enforcement officers tried to remove her, Norman slithered through their hands. They put her back on the chair and carried her to the paddy wagon, then left her there as they arrested other activists. "There was no one around me, so I just took my chair and put it back on the bridge and sat down," she told EW from the Josephine County Jail in late March. "Then they put the handcuffs on."
One week later Norman was back on the bridge, this time forming a soft blockade against logging trucks with 17 other women. She was arrested a second time and remained in jail for several weeks, the only activist in her party to refuse bail. Norman told EW that it was worth it. "You have to stand up for something or you'll fall for anything," she said.
Norman was killed July 23 in a head-on car crash on Highway 99 near Cave Junction. She had spent her last months defending the Siskiyou National Forest from the Biscuit logging operations, and today forest activists carry on the effort in her honor.
Defending the Siskiyou was not Norman's only act of civil disobedience. She was arrested more than 100 times in her life for standing up against injustice. She protested for equal rights in the South in the 1960s and met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then joined the Vietnam War protests. She stood up against nuclear testing in Nevada and protested the School of the Americas in Georgia. She was in Seattle during the protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999, and she demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the powerful bloc of industrialized nations known as the G8.
But she was not a lifelong activist. Norman told Z magazine that she was born into a Republican family in an oil town in 1933, and as a young woman she married a "rich corporate industrialist." Then one day, she said, "the fire grew in my belly," and she began working to get JFK elected. Soon after, she left her husband, sold most of her belongings and "joined in to defend the earth and its people against the war against the people and the natural world."
Norman is survived by four children, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild and an extended family of environmental activists. Her daughter, Sue Norman Jones, described her mother as a no-nonsense woman who would like to be remembered "actively, not passively."
Norman's "walk the talk" attitude was contagious, inspiring others to stand up for their beliefs. Asked if she was ever afraid to go to jail, Norman told Z, "NO! No, I am not afraid … I would rather go out in a blaze, defending the world I love … I am more afraid that my grandchildren will think I did not try hard enough to leave them a legacy of peace, and a world worth living in."
City Gives Hynix Millions
Piercy's deal with corporation could cost $100 million.
BY ALAN PITTMAN
Lead by Mayor Kitty Piercy, the Eugene City Council voted 5-3 to in effect give Hynix $9 million in tax breaks now, and the possibility of about $100 million more if the corporation later expands its chip plant.
Councilor David Kelly said he was "dumbfounded" at the deal to give Hynix almost $100,000 per new job created. Kelly noted that Eugene had already given Hynix $51 million in property tax breaks. "At some point we need to ask how much of a tax break is enough."
Councilors Kelly, Bonny Bettman and Betty Taylor voted against the enterprise zone tax break. Councilors Andrea Ortiz, Chris Pryor, Gary Papé, George Poling and Jennifer Solomon voted for the corporate give away.
Tax break supporters were lead by Mayor Kitty Piercy who campaigned on a promise of reigning in tax breaks to focus on small, existing environmentally sustainable businesses with family wage jobs, but once elected she has done none of that. Instead Piercy met with Hynix officials behind closed doors and followed their direction for the $100,000 per job cap.
Councilor Taylor said it was wrong of Piercy to meet "secretly" with Hynix to take direction from the corporation. "It puts us back as if Hynix owns us."
Piercy said that the "compromise" vote was difficult but necessary. Without the vote the state and county commissioners would have forced Eugene to give Hynix tax breaks without any per-job cap, Piercy argues. On a $500 million plant upgrade recently proposed by Hynix, that would have meant a $13 million tax break for Hynix for adding 95 jobs. With the cap, the tax break is reduced by a third, the maximum reduction allowable under state law, with the remaining $4 million paid to the city and county as a public benefit contribution.
But the city also had a third option — try to cancel the enterprise zone altogether. Under this approach the city could have lobbied or sued the state to cancel the just-approved zone or refused to appoint a local zone manager, legally forcing the state to cancel the tax break zone.
"I think the city should have stuck to its guns," Bettman said.
But Piercy said, "I didn't think we would necessarily win" the legal fight and could be left without the $4 million payment.
The County Commission forced the city to give it a disproportional share of that payment from Hynix.
Normally, the county collects only about 7 percent of Hynix's property taxes with about 50 percent going to the city and the remaining 40 percent going to state schools. But the county is demanding a 40 percent share of the $4 million Hynix payment. Eugene will get 40 percent and schools, including possibly private and non-local schools, will get only 20 percent.
In addition to the city, county and schools losing revenue from the tax breaks, property taxes will also increase slightly for everyone else to make up for the Hynix tax revenue that would have gone to pay off local bonded debt.
Tax break opponents said it was a mistake for the city to apply for the tax break zone to begin with. State law now cements the huge breaks in place for Hynix for the next 20 years.
Councilors Bettman and Kelly said they never would have voted to apply for the zone in April if they had known that state law limited the cap to a one-third tax break reduction, and that the county would have veto power over any job caps and job quality standards. The councilors blamed city staff, who have been among the biggest boosters of Hynix breaks, for not telling them crucial information.
Bettman said that before the vote to apply for the zone, staff told her that a $30,000 cap she proposed would be allowable under state law and didn't mention the one-third rule. "I am very disappointed," she said.
Kelly faulted staff for not informing the councilors that the county could effectively veto any caps on tax breaks or other standards. "Our staff did not tell your elected officials."
Kevin Matthews, president of Friends of Eugene, said given that "there's a heck of a lot of money involved," the council and the public should have been "crystal clear" on the enterprise zone rules and hearings should have been held before the vote. Instead, the "manipulation and blackmail" that resulted "is really a scandal," he said.
Councilor Ortiz, the swing vote on the breaks, said she backed the Hynix deal because her constituents need jobs. But the link between giving Hynix tax breaks and actually creating new jobs for needy local people has always been weak at best.
Most economists agree that such tax breaks rarely "create" new jobs because most companies would have created the jobs anyway since they make location and hiring decisions based on labor costs, market access and other business or personal reasons rather than tax breaks. Indeed, Hynix announced it's $500 million upgrade even before the council vote this week.
Studies by state agencies and other widely accepted research also shows that most of the new jobs created by Hynix and other such break beneficiaries go to people moving to the area rather than local poor people.
Piercy describes Hynix as a good corporate citizen and local environmentally sustainable business. But the Korean corporation has long been controversial in Eugene. Hundreds of citizens flooded meetings to object to the $51 million in tax breaks given to the corporation, its destruction of a large swath of rare west Eugene wetlands, and the corporation's heavy use of toxic chemicals. Hynix has been forced to pay record-breaking fines and lawsuit settlements for employment discrimination, water pollution and worker injuries. At one point the corporation laid off all its employees for six months while it teetered on bankruptcy, and the chip industry remains volatile.
Councilor Taylor said Hynix does not pay enough for its workers to afford living in Eugene.
Piercy's Hynix deal includes job quality standards, but they are so weak that it appears they will have little impact on encouraging Hynix or other companies in the enterprise zone to improve local hiring, wages and benefits.
Bachelor roosters need a home.
BY KERA ABRAHAM
Life can be hard for young cocks. They're only valued for breeding and eating. But for the most part they're just a nuisance — getting in fights, bothering chicks and causing a ruckus. (Get your mind outta the gutter. We're talking about roosters!)
|Name: Rex, Age: 4 months, Breed: Plymouth Barred Rock, Likes: Philosophy|
|Name: Smee, Age: 4 months, Breed: Plymouth Barred Rock, Likes: Mead|
|Name: Gandalf, Age: 4 months, Breed: Buff Orpington, Likes: Chicks|
|Name: Mo, Age: 4 months, Breed: Buff Orpington, Likes: Doodling|
|Name: Chip, Age: 4 months, Breed: Production Red, Likes: Cheetos|
|Name: Thrasher, Age: 4 months, Breed: Production Red, Likes: Punk music|
As with cows, goats and marijuana, chickens suffer from gender discrimination. The females are simply more valuable than the males. Some roosters survive long enough to become fryers, but poultry hatcheries often kill rooster chicks unless they can sell them for peanuts. Those who make it out alive often end up where they're not wanted.
Lane County resident Claudia Bark knows all about it. She's taken in six young roosters that were dumped on the road near her farm west of Eugene, but now they're bothering her hens and they've got to go.
"These guys are teenagers," Bark says woefully. "They're terrible at crowing, and they're bad lovers — totally inexperienced. They make a lot of noise, they're messy and they don't give anything back. My hens are really mad at me."
Bark blames a local farm store for supplying many of the roosters that are later abandoned. Coastal Farm Supply on West 6th Avenue gives away free chicks every March, right before Easter. Coastal gets the chicks — all males — from Shank's Hatchery in Portland for about 20 cents a squawk. They're cheap because they're surplus; Shank's donates the rooster chicks it can't sell to the Portland Zoo and a local raptor rehabilitation center, where they make a tasty snack for carnivores.
Coastal employee Kristin White says that the store posts a notice that all its free chicks are roosters, but it doesn't mention the law. Within Eugene city limits, roosters are galli non grati, banned by the city code.
Lane County Animal Control program manager Mike Wellington says that most city folk who end up with roosters just don't know better. But when neighbors complain about the early-morning cock-a-doodling, Animal Control pays a visit. Wellington says that most people are cooperative about getting rid of their roosters, but where's an unwanted cock to go?
Sometimes people eat their roosters, but the breeding types that Coastal gives away are scrawnier and slower-growing than game chickens. Some people simply ditch unwanted roosters on rural roads. Diana Huntington, a facilitator for the local Overpopulation Crisis Coalition, says that animal abandonment is illegal, but people do it all the time, dumping rabbits, cats, dogs, and even goats where they think no one will see. Roosters are often found wandering in the wetlands, where they are prey to raccoons and feral cats.
When Animal Control confiscates a rooster, staff members try to adopt it out to a country home. But getting rid of roosters is a tough task, Wellington says, and it has a dark side. Some people use roosters for cockfighting, which is a criminal offense. Wellington lists the paraphernalia: "Gaffs, which are razors for the legs; sparring balls, exercise cords, tools and drugs; steroids, stuff to stop bleeding." But cockfighting investigations just aren't a priority, Wellington says, and resources at Animal Control are already stretched thin.
Wayne Geiger, founder and president of the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Salem, is also trying to help. His sanctuary provides safe harbor for abused and neglected farm animals, but he already has 17 unwanted roosters and can't take any more. "The problem is, roosters aren't needed," he says. "The ultimate humane solution is to go vegan and not use eggs."
But Americans demand dairy, so the question remains: What to do with unwanted fowl? Most hatchery-born chickens are bred to breed — that is, to produce more egg-laying hens. But it only takes one rooster to screw a hen house, so most feathered boys are out of luck.
Bark, for her part, was ready to give her six foster roosters to a neighbor to eat, but a friend persuaded her to stay the execution pending the publication of this article. Besides, the boys are getting better with the ladies. "They've been practicing their crows a lot, and since they've been with girls they're more savvy," Bark says.
Any rural chicken breeders out there in need of some strapping young roosters? Call Claudia Bark at 345-3806.
Terror in the South Hills
Three days in a Sanipac prison
By Ted Taylor
A midnight scream echoed across the south Eugene hills. The kind of desperate high-pitched sound that conjures up images of eagles and weasels in combat, or a cat getting its tail sucked into a vacuum cleaner, or a Pomeranian under foot. It was in fact the sound of a small hen being mauled by two hungry raccoons.
Banty was an independent bird. It's why we got her, why she became an urban chick. She had been abused on the farm, bottom of the pecking order, raped by roosters twice her size. She survived by flying over the fence and sleeping in trees, laying little eggs in the woods.
She had a better life with us in our backyard. No roosters, plenty of food, water and fresh straw, a small flock of friendly hens to keep her company. But her wandering ways persisted, and she was not always around when we locked up the hen house in the evening.
Going back to sleep after that scream was not an option. I grabbed a flashlight — didn't bother with pants — and ran out back. It occurred to me later that men charging into combat with wild animals should always wear pants. I chased away the raccoons and found Banty's mangled, bloody body surrounded by feathers.
"You won't have her for dinner tonight," I said to the retreating predators as they climbed the chainlink fence. I carried the feathered remains to the garbage can, figuring I'd bury her later, somewhere the raccoons wouldn't dig her up.
I put off the unpleasant task a few days and Sunday arrived, time to wheel the Sanipac can down to the street. I expected that awful smell of rotting flesh when I opened the lid, but all that came wafting out were the usual aromas of unrecyclables. I peered in. At the bottom of the can l saw her little red head, poking up through the trash, and it moved.
"You're not dead," was all I could say to her, shocked and amazed that she had somehow survived not only a brutal attack, but also three days in a hot plastic Sanipac prison.
I carried her to water and she drank and drank. Her legs didn't work, but they seemed intact. Her wings were OK. Bones were showing on the back of her neck and she looked like she'd been run over by a lawn mower. A hour later she was pecking at corn and staggering around weakly. A few days in quarantine and she happily rejoined the flock. We watched to make sure the other hens didn't peck her tender wounds.
Chickens will tell you remarkable things if you take the time, listen very carefully and fill in the gaps between clucks.
"Horrible monsters with bad breath and big teeth tried to rip my head off," she says. "Worst than getting raped by roosters three times my size." (She tends to exaggerate.)
"I remember being dragged by the neck, then waking up in pain in a dark place, bad smells, very hot, very thirsty. Thought this is must be where chickens go after they die."
She hasn't flown the coop since, but she has a different look in her eye when she sees me.
"Life for us chickens is hard and short," she tells me. "People steal our precious eggs no matter how many we lay. They take our beautiful bodies and make us into sandwiches and salads. They abuse us. They throw us away like garbage when they are done with us."
Chickens don't do sarcasm very well, but I got the point. I apologized profusely. She gets cat food and comfrey leaves now for special treats, and we will grow old together.
RUTH BELLER AND STERLING WALLACH
"Showing art is a great way to relate to people," says Sterling Wallach, recounting the brief history of the Last Friday ArtWalk. "It's been exciting to see how they respond." Wallach and his partner Ruth Beller, both of them art students in earlier days, painted large commercial murals in Florida before they moved to Eugene 15 years ago and launched their ArtTrek painting business. Inspired for years by the Jawbreaker Window Gallery at 4th and Monroe, Wallach and Beller opened their own Whiteaker-neighborhood art space, Possum Place, in September 2004. In October they organized the first Last Friday ArtWalk, with a total of five stops on the tour. "Every month since then, new people have joined," says Beller. "They open their living rooms and studios to show their art." July's Last Friday tour list had 27 stops and participants of all ages, from full-time artists to first-time exhibitors, plus a neighborhood plant sale at Scobert Park and unveiling of the collaborative Whiteaker Puzzle Project. Learn about this month's event, see a map of exhibit venues, and find out how to participate at lastfridayartwalk.org -BY PAUL NEEVEL