News Briefs: Big Raise for City Manager | When Money Matters | Osprey Back for W. Eugene | Eco-Saboteurs Aid Zapatistas | Animal Reg Moves, Gets Task Force | LandWatch Gathering | Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Do fish have more protection than children?
Developers Get Downtown
Council puts developers ahead of public process
BIG RAISE FOR CITY MANAGER?
The Eugene City Council may give City Manager Dennis Taylor a big raise a month before it evaluates his performance.
Taylor, whose annual salary is about $142,000, has scheduled a council meeting for June 13 to discuss a raise. His performance evaluation isn't scheduled until July 18.
Mayor Kitty Piercy advocated for a meeting on the raise before the evaluation in an email to city councilors. She said she met with other council officers who agreed "it would be good to discuss the compensation level for the city manager position in Eugene, no matter who is holding that position. We want to sure that the compensation level is an appropriate one for a city manager of Eugene. Right now our city manager receives a lower compensation than the Springfield City Manager."
Councilor Bonny Bettman objected in an email reply: "I absolutely disagree with the recommendation to consider the manager's compensation before evaluating his performance. That recommendation is absurd since the compensation SHOULD be based on performance, not on other manager's salaries."
Taylor's past evaluations from the council have been mixed. Conservative councilors have generally praised him, but three progressive councilors gave critical reviews.
Taylor has been criticized for: failing to fully investigate the police department's failure to stop a long sex crime spree by officers against women; withholding information from elected officials; putting the city bureaucracy's interests over the community's; and setting policy instead of following council direction on policy. Last year, Taylor clashed with the council when he opposed an independent police auditor.
Taylor applied for a city manager job in Lawrence, Kan., last year but didn't get the position. Taylor, who's been through five jobs in 16 years, has been in Eugene for four years. — Alan Pittman
WHEN MONEY MATTERS
A chronic underfunding of the humanities leaves some UO students and faculty wondering about institutional commitment to cultivating diversity. Loss of funds to recruit and retain faculty members from diverse backgrounds also means decreased diversity in the Eugene area as talented instructors search for employment elsewhere.
Due to severe budget cuts, the Department of Romance Languages (RL) recently had to eliminate five full-time instructor positions in Spanish and two part-time positions in French. Of the three languages taught in RL – Spanish, French and Italian – Spanish saw the most changes because it is the biggest program.
Spanish instructor and celebrated Chilean poet Jesús Sepúlveda is one of the instructors to lose his teaching contract for the 2007-08 academic year. Sepúlveda earned his Ph.D from the UO in 2003 and has taught upper-division courses in Spanish ever since. He has multiple publications that have appeared in a dozen countries.
To protest his termination, Spanish majors Priscilla Ann Mendoza and Laura Stull began the "Save Sepúlveda"campaign. Their mission was to facilitate discussion among the community, students and faculty when it comes to budget cuts. "We started to rally support for Jesús, but it's expanded to something greater, especially since we know there are other great professors out there," they said. Both said they regret that students in the future will not have the opportunity to learn from Sepúlveda's unique cross-cultural perspectives.
Alexander Vrtiska, economics and Spanish double major, finds the UO's prioritization of money inexcusable. "How can the university hide behind budget problems in cutting lose a valuable asset? It is simply not logical or acceptable," Vrtiska wrote in a recent letter to UO President David Frohnmayer to highlight Sepúlveda's teaching abilities.
The department currently employs approximately 40 faculty members from six continents, making it one of the most diverse programs on campus. "Romance Languages, as well as a few other departments, are at the heart of the diversity and internationalization of this campus," said Barbara Altmann, RL department head. "We'd love some extra funds to support and expand our good work instead of having to retrench."
Inadequate funding has forced the department to make other changes as well. Language class sizes will increase, and smaller, upper-level literature survey courses in Spanish will be collapsed into bigger lecture classes. "Ideally, to conform to best practices, we'd be reducing class sizes rather than increasing them," said Altmann.
According to Sepúlveda, "The university wants to be diverse, but it does not have a clear strategy to foster and maintain diversity." — Erin Rokita
OSPREY BACK FOR W. EUGENE
The West Eugene Parkway has been shelved, but traffic congestion continues in west Eugene and is expected to get worse as west Eugene develops and growth in Veneta and Elmira increase traffic on West 11th and Hwy. 126. To deal with the complex issues of transportation and land use planning, a new group of interested and sometimes conflicting parties called the West Eugene Collaborative (or WE Group) has formed and has hired the Osprey Group to facilitate a collaborative process. The first two public meetings will be May 18 and 21.
Friday's meeting runs from 3 to 5 pm in the Singer Room on the second floor of the Eugene Public Library. Monday's meeting is from 7:30 to 9:30 am in the Sunstone Room on the third floor of the library.
Osprey is the Colorado consulting group that facilitated discussion and provided an assessment on the WEP in 2006. Osprey was chosen from among several consulting groups, and Osprey's fees will be paid by a pooling of about $20,000 in funds from the city of Eugene, LTD and environmental and business groups. Helping coordinate the effort is the Oregon Consensus Program.
The WE Group is an outgrowth of the Eugene Roundtable, an informal gathering that began four years ago to bring together individuals representing sometimes conflicting environmental and business interests.
Eugene city staff are involved in the new group as part of their council-mandated study of the West 11th transportation corridor. Staff members are looking at signal timing, road striping, access on and off 11th (particularly left-turn access), safety issues and the potential for extending bus rapid transit out West 11th, according to the group's meeting minutes.
Other issues involve interagency planning, project funding in the corridor, the impact on businesses along West 11th and the potential of using other streets, such as 18th Ave., to take pressure off West 11th.
Emily Proudfoot, senior transportation planner for the city, says the WE Group is seeking a "high level of tranparency and public involvement" in finding workable and efficient traffic solutions for all of west Eugene.
In addition to Proudfoot, other members of the WE Group include Kitty Piercy, Jack Roberts, Kevin Matthews, Jerry Gados, John Allcott, Mark Schoening, Jan Wostmann, Paul Thompson, Ollie Snowden, Ed Moore, Gary Wildish, Mary O'Brien, Debra Noble, Anita Johnson, Tom Schwetz, Rob Zako, Chris Pryor, Don Kahle, Charles Snyder, Larry Reed, Susan Ban and Pat Johnston.
Information about the WE Group and minutes of previous meetings ofthe group are available online at www.orconsensus.pdx.edu/WestEugeneForum.php — Ted Taylor
ECO-SABOTEURS AID ZAPATISTAS
As the Oregon eco-sabotage cases begin the long series of sentencings, intriguing details are coming out about the lives and activities of the defendants.
According to the government's sentencing memorandum, Canadian-born Daniel Thurston and South Eugene High graduate Chelsea Gerlach had connections to the Zapatista movement.
The Zapatistas, known as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), is a revolutionary group based in Chiapas, one of Mexico's poorest regions. It is often referred to as an armed rebellion, but they have not used weapons since their 1994 uprising.
The Zapatistas' base is mainly indigenous people, and the Zapatista struggle centers on control over their natural resources and self-governance. They oppose corporate globalization.
The Zapatista struggle must have appealed to Thurston and Gerlach. The government's memo said, "Thurston was approached by persons interested in translating into Spanish the publication Setting Fires with Electrical Timers so it could be sent to the Zapatista guerrillas in Mexico."
The publication was an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) guide. Thurston had made the guide available on the Internet as a PDF file along with texts such as Arson-Around with Auntie ALF: Your Guide for Putting the Heat on Animal Abusers Everywhere.
"In the spring of 2003," the memo said, "Thurston met a representative of the Zapatistas." The representative asked Thurston to teach a class on "producing explosives that could take down a building or bridge."
According to the memo, Thurston taught the workshop on explosives in a tent near Redway, Calif.
Along with Gerlach and others, Thurston produced hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), a highly explosive organic chemical. They used the chemical to blow up a stump.
The memo said the Zapatista representative was "very satisfied." And Thurston instructed him on how to use the HMTD and store it and recorded the information in a text file for the representative to take back to Mexico.
There is no record of the Zapatistas using the explosive chemical. Most recently they have demonstrated using paper airplanes and wooden rifles with screwdrivers attached. – Camilla Mortensen
ANIMAL REG MOVES, GETS TASK FORCE
The county commissioners are putting the embattled Lane County Animal Regulation Authority (LCARA) through some changes.
LCARA is no longer a function of the Department of Management Services. On May 9, Lane County commissioners voted to amend the Lane Manual and put LCARA under the control of the Department of Health and Human Services.
There is precedent for this change — many cities and counties across the country, from Madison, Wisc., to New York City use their departments of health to oversee animal control.
Lane County's Management Services controls the finances, purchasing, properties, and elections and records of Lane County as well as data processing and other budget duties. Health and Human Services is mandated to attend to the physical, mental, social and environmental health needs of the county.
The commissioners have also created what had been previously referred to as a "No Kill Task Force." The official name is now the "Save Adoptable Animals Task Force."
The commissioners have each appointed a representative to the task force. The members are: Ann Jensen (Bobby Green), Loraine Still (Faye Stewart), Molly Sargent (Bill Dwyer), C.T. Fulkerson (Bill Fleenor) and Jennifer DuMond Biglan (Pete Sorenson).
The goal of the task force is to develop recommendations for no-kill, neuter and adoption philosophies for LCARA. The task force's recommendations will involve ideas that can be implemented using existing resources as well as those that would need additional resources.
The recommendations will be due to the commissioners 90 days after the task force's first meeting. The date of that meeting is not yet set.
The task force will appoint two more members at its first meeting. Applications are due for those positions on May 21 and can be found at www.lanecounty.org(click on "current committee vacancies").
Applications are also available at County Administration, 125 E. 8th Ave. in Eugene, or by calling 682-4203. — Camilla Mortensen
An update on Measure 37 reform will be on the agenda of LandWatch Lane County at the group's annual meeting planned for 6:45 to 9 pm Thursday, May 17, in the Bascom/Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library.
Members of the Measure 37 panel who will offer insights and field questions are Tom Bowerman of 1000 Friends of Oregon, Lauri Segel of the Goal One Coalition and Bryce Ward of ECONorthwest. Sen. Floyd Prozanski also hopes to attend.
House Bills 3540-6 and 3546-5 are being supported by 1000 Friends of Oregon and are intended to make Measure 37 more fair and equitable. The bills revise Measure 37 to allow modest residential development while conserving Oregon's best farm and forest land. The legislation would also clarify ambiguities in Measure 37 that have resulted in litigation.
The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Bob Emmons at 741-3625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 50 acres for Cone Investment Corp. (746-1601) with Velpar L, Oust XP, and Westar herbicides near Bear Creek tributaries in Section 32 of Township 19 South, Range 2 West, and Section 5 of T20S, R2W by May 31 (771-55442).
• Oregon Forest Management Services will ground spray four acres with 2,4-D ester, Atrazine, Transline, and Oust XP for Weyerhaeuser (741-5211) in Section 18, T18S, R1E by May 20 (771-55445).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
The county income tax took a a big hit at the ballot box this week. We recommended a no vote, but we're not celebrating. Some Lane County voters automatically thumb-down any tax proposal, but that's not what killed the income tax. We think people will back a different proposal in the fall, but county commissioners need to draft a tax that makes more sense. What would that look like? Dump the flat tax; make the tax more graduated like the existing federal income tax brackets. Increase the burden on businesses and corporations that operate in Lane County, and include income they make as businesses, not just on Lane County sales. Earmark money for social services as well as public safety. It's a lot cheaper to prevent crime and homelessness than to deal with it later. It costs taxpayers $350 a night for a prisoner in the Lane County jail, and we all pick up the $860 a night tab for an uninsured stay at the Johnson Unit mental health floor at Sacred Heart. As one Eugene city official recently told us, "When basic needs are not being met, it's a huge public safety cost."
U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer offended many in Judge Anne Aiken's courtroom Tuesday, May 15, when he tried to compare the Operation Backfire eco-saboteurs' defense that they never physically hurt anyone to the Klu Klux Klan "burning empty churches." He then went on to compare their possible motivations to a person who commits a race crime "because you hate all blacks." But that person he said, may also hate "an individual black person." Defense attorney Amanda Lee was quick to point out such comparisons were "appalling" and "historically inaccurate — an insult to African Americans." Also of interest in the court, Peifer made repeated references to the supposed "Family," the name the FBI and the media have seized upon to refer to the defendants. Sources say that "The Family" was rarely used among the saboteurs, mainly by Daniel McGowan, whose taped discussions with wire-wearing Jake Ferguson provided much of the FBI's information. We wonder what the FBI made of references in the tapes to something called "The Weekly"?
Could Oregon handle an Eliot Spitzer, the New York firebrand, for attorney general? That's not exactly the Oregon tradition, but the rumor is around that Hardy Myers will announce after the session that he's not going to run in 2008. Wide open race. On the D side, Greg McPherson, Portland lawyer and legislator, is most mentioned. Not exactly Eliot. Consider another D, John Kroger, Lewis and Clark law professor with quite a resume: Marine Corps, Harvard, Yale, Mafia prosecutor in New York City, Enron prosecutor in D.C. Could be Eliot-West. One more oft-mentioned name is Floyd Prozanski, our own excellent legislator and prosecutor, but why don't we persuade him to skip the state contest and run for Lane County district attorney, post-Harcleroad? Isn't that great to contemplate! The only R name we've heard is Kevin Mannix, who doesn't seem to have much traction. He'd be an anti-Eliot for sure.
Federal funding for Oregon counties? That's one of the issues complicating this week's vote on the county income tax, but we heard last week from Oregon Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (D-West Linn), that she thinks the continued federal funding to Oregon counties has a "good chance" of passing. She offers "no guarantees," and says it's "not a done deal," but both one- and five-year extensions are in the budget bill which has passed the House. Bush has threatened a second veto, but the details are still shaking out as we go to press. Hopefully, Hooley is making the right call.
The topic of journalism ethics always gets us fired up, and last week several prominent journalists were in town and on the UO campus thanks to the Ruhl Lecture and the Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism. We applaud journalists who stand up for the First Amendment and their code of ethics, particularly when it requires personal sacrifice, but nobody wants to talk about the bigger issues of media ethics. Most media claim to be fair and balanced, but in fact they are not. Our local daily and broadcast newsrooms, for example, never investigate the shady sales tactics of some local car dealers who happen to be their biggest advertisers. Then there's the ethics of omission. The national media did not bother adequately to investigate the White House build-up to the war in Iraq, and big media devote endless time and ink to celebrity gossip while giving token attention to social injustice and environmental catastrophe. Likewise, the local media give only superficial attention to the inner workings of our institutons and businesses and even local government. When was the last time the R-G seriously probed our outrageously expensive city attorney who also represents businesses that do business with the city, our unresponsive city manager, our distant district attorney, contractors who get the bulk of city bids, shady developers in the city and county, unbalanced collegiate sports funding, etc.? Journalism ethics? Let's salute the bedraggled reporter who goes to jail rather than reveal his or her sources; but more importantly, let's demand from our local publishers and station owners that they tell us what's really going on in our communities. Democracy relies on an informed public, and reporters, editors and owners take on an occupational burden of public trust. That's what journalism ethics is really all about.
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
After high school in San Diego, Ron Detwiler began a career in manufacturing at a local maker of window shades. He moved on to better jobs at bigger companies around the U.S. from Seattle to the East Coast and back to California. In 1988, after four years in Memphis, he and his wife, Stephanie, a loan officer, quit their jobs to find a new life in Eugene. They bought and ran the Mirabel Café for three years, and then sold it in 1991 when he answered an ad for warehouse manager at FOOD for Lane County. "When I joined, I was the seventh or eighth employee," he says. "Now we have 32 employees, and I am the old-timer." In his current position as operations manager, Detwiler is responsible for the collection and distribution of six to seven million tons of food this year. "More than 50 per cent of our food is perishable today," he says. "We've developed a system to gather that food and redistribute it quickly." In recognition of the food rescue program he created, the Oregon Food Bank Network honored Detwiler last month with its Ron Cease Award for regional food bank staff excellence.