News Briefs: Skydivers to Plunge Near Pisgah | Homeless Statistics | Clean Beavers | Hounding Cougars to Death | Mutated Monkey Viruses | Culture of Sexual Violence | All Media a Threat? | Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule |Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Families Face Terror
Mothers give emotional testimony
LCC Goes Global
President Mary Spilde plans internationally
Edane Applegate Mueller
SKYDIVERS TO PLUNGE NEAR PISGAH
It looks like Eugene Skydivers may have found a new place to parachute. After the city of Creswell put an end to the use of a long-used landing area on the eastern end of the city's Hobby Field, area skydive companies started looking for a new place to drop divers.
Farmer and skydiver Jim Evonuk offered the use of his farmland north of Seavey Loop Road, near Mount Pisgah, to Eugene Skydivers.
Eugene Skydivers owner Urban Moore applied for a permit to use the land, a 59-acre parcel that is zoned for exclusive farm use. The permit would last for five years.
At a recent hearing county planning staff recommended approval of Moore's application. According to a county planner's report, dropping 40 skydivers a day would have no significant impact on the land and nearby properties.
Staff at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum originally expressed worries about the noise that could be generated by airplanes flying overhead all day long. Mount Pisgah is a popular hiking area and the site of flower and bird walks as well as a popular site for marriages and other outdoor celebrations.
However, after watching a demonstration flight and jump, Pete Barrell, executive director of the Arboretum, says the group "has no official objections" to the permit.
The planes are usually 10,000 ft. and higher when they drop parachutists, and Barrell said the demonstration jump was almost noiseless.
Dave Wright of Wright Brothers Skydiving also applied for a permit in a farmer's field, this one just east of Creswell Airport. The city of Creswell opposes Wright's permit, citing noise and safety concerns. – Camilla Mortensen
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy has put together a Blue Ribbon Committee to come up with a 10-year plan to help alleviate homelessness in the city and county.
How many people are homeless in Lane County? It varies from week to week, and not all are counted, but the city of Eugene has compiled some statistics on low-income housing and homelessness.
• 7,666 homeless individuals received social services in Lane County or health care at Springfield's Riverstone Clinic in 2005-06.
• 1,600 homeless individuals received emergency shelter or housing assistance in Lane County in 2005-06.
• 1,906 homeless children were enrolled in Lane County public schools in 2005-06. About half were in Eugene.
• 2,296 homeless people were counted in a one-night survey of both shelters and streets Jan. 25.
• About 12 percent of the 38,000 Lane County veterans are homeless.
Members of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee include Andrea Ortiz, Susan Ban, Marcia Edwards, Chuck Dalton, Hugh Massengill, Terry McDonald, Clayton Walker, Hillary Wylie, Michael Milbradt, Colt Gill, Gerry Gaydos, Lynne McKinney, Susan Posner, Mo Young, Faye Stewart, Ron Chase, Tracy Lampman, Fr. David Lubliner, Jeremiah Megowan, John Van Landingham, and Dan Whelan of Congressman DeFazio's office. Staff support is by Richie Weinman of Eugene Planning and Development.
OSU students recently voted to pay a fee of up to $8.50 per term to help the university go from getting around 75 percent of its electricity made by burning coal to 100 percent made from renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric power. The plan would kick in this fall if approved by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
Nationally, universities such as Cornell and UC Berkley have already adopted similar programs. OSU is expected to join Southern Oregon University in Ashland as the second public university in the state in what is being called the "green campus movement."
OSU students voted to adopt the fee in the late April Associated Students of OSU elections. The vote was 2,385 in favor with 965 against, according to Brandon Trelstad, OSU campus sustainability coordinator.
This year's election had a higher than usual turnout. A total of 3,532 students voted; about 2,100 students participated in ASOSU elections each of the previous three years.
"I think that means this is a voter turnout issue," Trelstad said. "At OSU it's not common to have a question like this on the ballot. Usually students are just voting for candidates to fill various positions on campus. To have a measure on the ballot, I believe, increased voter turnout."
To get the proposal on the ballot, students belonging to an ASOSU environmental affairs taskforce gathered 1,700 signatures, 700 more than needed, Trelstad said.
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education will consider the fee proposal at its June 8 meeting at Oregon Institute of Technology's campus in Clackamas, according to Diane Saunders, spokesperson for the board of higher education.
If approved, the fee will be capped at $8.50 per term but could be less if a plan to let faculty, staff and alumni contribute also goes through, Trelstad said. "The fee collection could begin in the fall 2007, and it should be in October sometime when we start buying the renewable production." — Bryan Andersen
HOUNDING COUGARS TO DEATH?
The Oregon House recently passed a bill that allows the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to manage local cougar populations through appointing hunters using hounds.
House Bill 2971 has stirred up debate not only because it permits hounding, but also because it allows the use of bait to hunt bears. Exactly what qualifies as bait isn't specified. The bill is now in the Senate.
According to animal welfare and conservation groups, the bill is an attempt to roll back Measure 18, an initiative passed by Oregon voters in 1994 that bans hounding and bear-baiting. "Legislators should respect the will of voters, who overwhelmingly supported Measure 18," stated a letter signed by 17 top wildlife officials sent to Oregon lawmakers last month. "Voters passed the ban not only because they believe hounding is unsportsmanlike but because they support conserving a diversity of wildlife in the state."
In 1996, 57 percent of Oregon voters rejected a measure to overturn the bear and cougar initiative.
Supporters of the bill say there is a growth in the cougar population that has led to increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. They say it gives ODFW the tools it needs to manage cougar populations, and many argue that hounding is the most effective way to hunt.
The ODFW estimates that the cougar population has nearly doubled in the last decade. Under the current cougar management plan, the ODFW strives to maintain the cougar population at 3,000.
Lynn Sadler, president and CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation, opposes the bill, claiming it is designed to appease hunters. "What it really proposes is randomly shooting cougars whether or not they have been involved in conflicts with humans or livestock," Sadler said. "The bill provides additional recreational opportunities for hunters and does not target cougars that pose a threat."
According to Sadler, the assertion that cougar numbers have increased is based on speculation because there is no scientifically accurate method to count them.
Sadler has been touring Oregon over the last few days. If you missed her free presentation and training for volunteers in the Eugene area, you can still catch her at 7 pm Thursday, May 24 at the First United Methodist Church in Portland. — Erin Rokita
MUTATED MONKEY VIRUSES?
Florida author Ed Haslam will be discussing his new book Dr. Mary's Monkey via audio link at a free event from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, May 24 at Tsunami Books. Haslam's new book is published by TrineDay in rural Lane County.
The book presents evidence of a biological weapon project in New Orleans in the summer preceding JFK's assassination. Haslam says the project involved mutated monkey viruses and was linked to plots to kill Fidel Castro, contaminated polio vaccines, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Mafia and high-ranking government officials.
Haslam attended high school in New Orleans in the late 1960s, and his father, a professor at Tulane Medical School, had been a colleague of a murdered cancer researcher, Dr. Mary Sherman. "Shortly before his death in 1971, Haslam's father warned him about the dangers of investigating that murder and the related secret operations in New Orleans because doing so would cross swords with some of the most powerful people in our country," says book publisher Kris Millegan. "Haslam took his father's advice seriously and was quiet for many years."
Haslam's first book was Mary, Ferrie & the Monkey Virus: The Story of an Underground Medical Laboratory, one of the first works to expose the contamination of polio vaccines in the 1950s. His new book presents evidence confirming the existence of a bio-weapon project suspected in his first book.
CULTURE OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
An expert panel of four speakers with different perspectives on military sexual harassment and assault will come together from 7 to 9 pm Wednesday, May 30 in 110 Knight Law on the UO campus to explore the culture of sexual harassment in the military. The panel will look at the recruitment process and personal experience, the cultural and historical context and examine where to go from here.
The Suzanne Swift case has opened a local and national dialogue about what is being referred to as "command rape." Swift, an Army specialist from Eugene, went AWOL rather than redeploy to Iraq where she was sexually harassed and assaulted by her commanding officer. She was arrested, court-martialed and detained.
Swift's experience is far from unique, according to organizers of the panel. The panelists will explore "the traditional and recent trends of military sexual harassment and why it has become endemic during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars."
Speakers on the panel include Carol Van Houten of the Committee for Countering Military Recruitment, who will speak on harassment of females in the recruiting process. Sara Rich, Swift's mother, will talk about her daughter's experiences in the Army in Iraq, at home in the U.S. and during and after her court-martial and imprisonment, including what things are like for her now at her Army base in Virginia. Rich will also report on the Mother's Day action in Washington, D.C., where she joined with Cindy Sheehan and other "Military Moms."
Caroline Forell, Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law at the UO, will discuss the culture of sexism, harassment and power in the military and in military academies and offer a historical context of women and sex in the military. Megan Cornish of RadicalWomen Seattle will speak on military violence in the larger context of women's lives and action people can take to make a difference.
Each speaker will talk for 15 minutes; the second hour, they will hold a discussion with audience members. Counselors from SASS and Womenspace will be on hand for support.
The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Justice Not War Coalition, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), Eugene Code Pink, Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS), Womenspace, Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC), Committee for Countering Military Recruitment and the UO Women's Law Forum.
For more information, call 686-2531.
ALL MEDIA A THREAT?
A recent posting on the Democracy Now website www.DemocracyNow.orgreports that a new official U.S. military handbook is warning all service personel to view the media as a threat alongside al-Qaeda, computer hackers, drug cartels, warlords and militias.
"The handbook was published by the Army's 1st Information Operations Command," says the article. "The Army has also placed new restrictions on the use of blogs and private emails by soldiers. Soldiers sending emails or posting items on blogs must now first clear the content with a superior officer. Many believe the rules will likely result in the end of all military blogging."
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
• ODOT has been spraying under bridges with Garlon 3A along Hwy. 36, and will soon be treating noxious weeds along state highways. Call Dennis Joll at 686-7526.
• Lane County Public Works follows the Spray at Last Resort Policy and has not applied herbicides along county roads in 2007. If you see herbicide sprayed sections of Lane County roads, please report the locations to the Vegetation Management Advisory Committee meeting during public comments at 5:30 pm June 13 at 3040 N. Delta Hwy.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• In last week's Calendar section, a band was incorrectly named. The correct name of the group that played May 17 at the WOW Hall is Lane County Poppers.
• In last week's Happening People, the proper spelling of the featured person is Ron Detwiler.
Springfield is tossing a big wrench into a decades-old and somewhat workable joint planning process with the city of Eugene. House Bill 3337, pushed by Springfield city government and business interests, would allow Springfield to control its own urban growth boundary, and it would also force Eugene to do an expensive and premature buildable lands inventory (BLI). This is an outrageous insult to Eugene, and it's a blatant power play by the Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders Association to override state and local land-use planning for the purposes of profits. Is this what the people of Springfield want? City planning dictated by developers?
This bill sailed through the House earlier on a 50-5 vote, and we hope it gets shredded in the Senate, but even Democrats and the governor can't seem to see the bill's flaws and implications. On the table are compromise amendments and splitting the issues. What are the flaws? The forced inventory could be an unfunded mandate, for starters, and doing it early means there might be no technical grants available to help with the cost. Separating the UGB is an even bigger fiasco. If Eugene and Springfield dissolve the Metro Plan and can't plan their city boundaries together, there's not much point in the Eugene-Springfield Transportation System plan (TransPlan) or the Metropolitan Planning Committee or the Joint Planning Commissions Committee or even the Lane Council of Governments. Or maybe that is the point. Regardless, this bill sets a dangerous precedent for other cities in Oregon that are trying to think beyond their city limits on how they deal with regional issues. And the split could be in conflict with state and federal laws and could endanger federal highway funds for Springfield.
The politics involved in this issue are fascinating. Backroom deals involving the chair of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee are rumored. Floyd Prozanski sits on that committee, but he is not the chair. He's reportedly squabbling with Terry Beyer, who introduced the bill in the House, and Beyer has sworn to not compromise. Strategies are being hashed out that might negate or sidetrack the legislation. The Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to support the bill. Eugene's city attorney has been asked to look into whether or not the Legislature can legally dictate local policy, particularly if it discriminates against only one jurisdiction. As we near press time, Prozanski was working on an amendment that would keep the UGB intact but require Eugene to do the lands inventory, but the intact bill is now headed for the Senate floor. Eugene city councilors were trying to delay Senate action until they can weigh in on amendments. Meanwhile, Eugene and Sprngfield are more than a decade behind on completing their Goal 5-mandated inventory of natural resource lands. It's a big mess.
In the end, what Springfield is attempting might make sense for Springfield in the short term, but in the long haul Springfield will find itself with higher taxes to pay for sprawl, more traffic and even more livability issues associated with planning in a vacuum. Livability, more than buildable land, is the key to economic vitality.
The West Eugene Collaborative (aka WE Group) held its first public meetings over the weekend (see news brief last week) and saw a good turnout representing a broad collection of businesses, environmental interests and government agencies. The group is addressing current and predicted transportation issues in west Eugene. This process is an follow-up to the collaboration and assessment that helped resolve the West Eugene Parkway conundrum last year. The same two facilitators from the Osprey Group, Dennis Donald and John Huyler, were on hand to guide the discussions. This is democracy in action: tackling complex issues by drawing on the knowledge and talents of local stakeholders. Information about the WE Group, minutes of previous meetings and notifications of future public sessions are available at www.orconsensus.pdx.edu/WestEugeneForum.phpThe site includes email addresses for members of the public to weigh in.
Residents across the Willamette from Mount Pisgah are hearing beeping sounds at night coming from the park. The sounds begin at dusk and last well into the night. Staff at the Arboretum have no explanation for the sound but say they have had several phone calls about the phenomenon.
David Kelly isn't running for public office (at least not that we are aware) but the insightful and outspoken former Eugene city councilor is still plugged into the politics and culture of Eugene and Lane County. His "Eugene Scene" radio interview show is now thankfully two hours later at 9:30 am Saturdays on KOPT (1600 AM). It's unnatural to have eyes and ears open early Saturday mornings. He also joins Brian Shaw in a live KOPT call-in show from 8:25 am to 9 am Thursdays.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDANE APPLEGATE MUELLER
In addition to her studies in the Family and Human Services program at the UO, sixth-generation Oregonian Edane Applegate Mueller works half-time as an educational assistant in a life-skills classroom at Springfield High School. She also works at the Full Access Brokerage, an agency that helps developmentally disabled adults to live in the community. "I've had two part-time jobs while I've gone to school," says Mueller, a 31-year-old returning student with a 3.8 GPA. For a senior project, she is raising funds to support a summer schedule for the Springfield School District's Community Transition Program, aimed at 18- to 21-year-old students. "The goal with a senior project is to fill gaps in service," she explains. "We decided to throw a benefit concert. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go for the kids' extended school year." The all-ages event is scheduled for 6 to 9 pm Thursday, May 31 at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene and will feature a variety of performers, from folk to hip-hop. Ten days after graduation in June, Mueller will begin a master's degree program in special ed. at the UO.