Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening Person: Lisa Stein
GREEN DEFENDS HIS RECORD
North Eugene County Commissioner Bobby Green faced criticism for his handling of the county budget deficit, developer subsidies and campaign donations at a Eugene City Club candidate debate April 4.
|Lane County Commissioner Bobby Green & candidate Steve Sherbina. Photo: TED TAYLOR.|
Green faces a strong challenge from River Road neighborhood leader Rob Handy, who said he's knocked on 11,000 doors in his campaign. Handy, a landscape consulting contractor and 35-year River Road resident said, "I'm a working person and a community leader, not a professional politician."
Green, a 13-year incumbent on the County Commission, described himself as a former UO football player, real estate and mortgage agent and Eugene City Councilor.
Steve Sherbina and Nadia Sindi are also running for Green's seat, but they do not appear to be running as active or well-funded campaigns.
Handy faulted Green for his handling of the county budget crisis. The county has known for years that it faced a decline in federal timber revenues, but "[Green] failed to face this situation squarely," Handy said. He added, "Things have gotten much worse on his watch." Lane County needs "real leadership for a change," Handy said. "Tell Bobby Green he's had enough chances."
Handy faulted Green for pushing an income tax that failed by a wide margin. Polling showed that the county knew the measure would fail, but Green still voted to waste money putting it on the ballot, Handy said.
Green called his vote for the unpopular tax "courageous." He said, "It would have been a lot easier to do nothing."
Handy replied, "How courageous is it to put a tax on working people and people on fixed income, people that are most vulnerable in our community?"
Green asked Handy how he would address the county's budget needs.
Handy said he's a "fiscal conservative" and would look at the experience of other counties facing a similar problem and "make sure we're getting our fair share" of federal and state money.
Handy said he would not support conservative efforts to increase logging to get more shared federal timber revenue. "Our forests are more valuable to us standing up than they are lying down," he said. Lane County needs a modern, sustainable economy, he said. "To look at old-time thinking is not going to move us forward."
Handy said the county's spending priorities are "out of whack." He faulted Green for supporting a $12 million county expenditure to build a new parkway to subsidize developers in Springfield. While residents face a severe pothole problem, Handy said, "Mr. Green is talking about a commitment in east Springfield for people who don't even live there yet."
Green said that by paying for the Rob Straub Parkway, "we were able to save workers' jobs by continuing to put the money into development."
Green said fixing potholes "is really the state's problem."
But Handy said, "What's good for people is what's good for business," not the other way around.
Candidate Sindi questioned the ethics of Green taking so much money from developers, land speculators and timber barons with interests in county decisions.
"I have people who support me, and they just happen to have timber and real estate investments," Green said. "It does not mean that I'm on the take."
Green said he isn't concerned about his 47 percent rating from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. He laughed that some of his constituents complained that he didn't score a zero from the environmental group.
Green said he doesn't support campaign finance reform. "My goal is to win this election."
Green claimed he didn't give big donors special attention or access. "The person that gives me the largest amount is the same as the person that gives me nothing."
Sherbina said he decided to run after he called Green with a problem and didn't get much attention. "I felt like I was just handed off." —Alan Pittman
Also, check out blogs.eugeneweekly.com for live coverage of the Basic Rights Oregon candidate forum.
CPA SERIES CONTINUES
The second in a four-part series on "Making Downtown Work" took place Wednesday, April 9, at the WOW Hall, and the third public gathering has been scheduled for noon to 5 pm Saturday, April 26, at The Tango Center, 194 W. Broadway. The series is sponsored by Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA), along with Eugene Weekly, Friends of Eugene, HELIOS, The Horsehead, The Kiva, Jamison's and Sundance Natural Foods.
This week's free event was facilitated by Mayor Kitty Piercy and included presentations by experts in urban planning, design, real estate, economics and social dynamics as they relate to the larger picture in downtown Eugene. The experts scheduled included Terry McDonald, Jean Tate, Mark Gillem, Pete Eggspeuhler, George Brown, Tom Kamis, Rob Bennett, Mike Sullivan, David Helton and Rob Handy.
Working groups were formed at the first event April 1 and include groups discussing a year-round Farmers Market, funding a larger teen center, creating a library park, the Beam development, West Broadway arts, a cultural center and proposals from an earlier downtown design charette.
The series wraps up with a fourth gathering at 7 pm Tuesday, April 29, at the WOW Hall. Recommendations from the final session will be presented to the Eugene City Council "with a request for serious consideration," says Bob O'Brien of CPA.
For more information, visit www.downtowneugene.orgor call 349-8682.
CREST DRIVE BIKE LANE BATTLE
A showdown over bike lanes in the hilly Crest Drive neighborhood of south Eugene is brewing, and the issue comes before the Eugene City Council for action at its 7:30 pm meeting Monday, April 14.
Bike advocates want an uphill bike lane on Crest Drive for safety and green transportation, but some residents want a narrower road to reduce charges to adjacent home owners and impacts on vegetation.
"These streets are extremely steep, and a bike lane would serve only a limited population of extremely physically fit riders," reads a letter from Crest residents Laura and Len Bailey, Barb Donovan, Sherie Hawley and others, to be submitted to the council Monday.
But bike advocate Paul Moore said he's gathered more than 200 signatures in support of the bike lane, about half from Crest neighborhood residents.
Moore said he understands the concern about losing older trees for a wider street, but he's not sure it's valid. The city hasn't mapped out whether trees would be lost if a bike lane were included. "Nobody knows," he said.
A March 12 memo from city engineering staff to the council states that adjacent residents won't be charged for the bike lane, "The cost of bike lanes are borne by the city."
At a February public hearing on the street plan, resident Virginia Starling testified that bikes can use a planned sidewalk. "Rolled curbs make it perfectly accessible to use the sidewalk when necessary; adding a bike lane is not necessary."
But Robert Hutches testified that he walks his dogs on leashes in the neighborhood and having cyclists share a narrow sidewalk will unsafely force pedestrians into the street. "That's not going to work."
Residents opposed to the bike lane said the city should stick with the "skinny street" plan that some residents came up with in working with a city committee in recent years. Changing the plan, the residents' letter stated, "will put the city and the neighbors back to square one: with no agreement and plenty of distrust."
But Lyndell Wilken, the bike-pedestrian representative on the Crest Drive Community Team said in a letter sent to EW this week, "It would be ironic that during Earth Week this design would be approved without bike lanes given the focus the city now has toward becoming a sustainable community."— Ted Taylor and Alan Pittman
DEFAZIO DEFENDING WILDERNESS
Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer announced a proposal to protect some of Oregon's wilderness on April 1. Included in their "Oregon Treasures" bill would be the 142 miles of Rogue River tributaries that a local conservation group, Cascadia Wildlands Project, has been working to protect (see EW 9/27).
|Rainie Falls on the Rogue River|
In addition to giving wild and scenic river designations to the Rogue tributaries, the plan would add 132,000 acres of designated wilderness, 79.6 miles of Wild and Scenic River lands and 34,550 acres of National Recreation Area lands to the Mt. Hood National Forest. The plan also includes a 4,000-acre boundary adjustment to the Oregon Caves National Monument intended to increase protection of drinking water and public recreation opportunities around the monument.
Jay Lininger, executive director of the Cascadia Wildlands Project, says he applauds the proposed bill, but he hopes that Congress moves faster than the agencies that are currently deciding the controversial Kelsey-Whisky timber sale slated to take place along some of the Rogue's tributaries that are included in the "Oregon Treasures" plan.
Kelsey-Whisky is the "meanest, rudest of the old-growth sales still out there," says Lininger. The sale is in the midst of the Zane Grey Roadless Area, the largest roadless area administered by the BLM in the nation. Unless Congress moves quickly, says Lininger, there "could be active logging in the proposed wilderness." — Camilla Mortensen
• A Global Exchange Tour on free trade is coming to Eugene this week. "NAFTA's Failed: Alternatives for Trade, Immigration and Security" will be at 7 pm Thursday, April 10, in 175 Law on the UO campus. Speakers Hector Sanchez and John Gibler will talk about how NAFTA and related policies have failed and led to accelerated Mexican immigration; how "NAFTA-plus" economic and security arrangements are being forged behind closed doors among corporations and executive branches of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico; and how citizens in all three countries are pushing for better alternatives to these "agreements." For more info, call CALC at 485-1755.
• Green Drinks, the monthly gathering of progressives at a local watering hole, will be from 5 pm to 7 pm? Friday, April 11, at World Cafe, 449 Blair Blvd., next to Sam Bond's.
• The second annual Tax Day March is planned to begin at 11 am Saturday, April 12, at the IRS Building, 300 Country Club Road, and proceed at 11:45 am to the Free Speech Plaza at 8th and Oak downtown. Signs will be displayed and information will be distributed about how our tax dollars are spent. The march is organized by WAND, Taxes for Peace Not War and other groups.
• Ten local artists will have their work on display beginning April 12 at the new Citizen's Corner Art Park located on Shelton-McMurphy Road. The site is described as "a park with free walls instead of an art gallery downtown."
• Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (SETA) is organizing Vegan Challenge Week April 14-18, asking people to consume plant-based foods for a week, instead of meat, milk products or eggs. A meat-based diet has been linked to global warming, animal abuse, water shortages and numerous health problems, they say.
• A candlelight vigil in support of crime victims is planned for 7 pm Wednesday, April 16, at Wayne Morse Plaza, 125 E. 8th Ave. Speakers expected include Sen. Vicki Walker, District Attorney Doug Harcleroad and crime victims. Two statewide measures regarding crime victim rights will be on the May ballot.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began onMarch 20, 2003(last week's numbers in parentheses):
• 4,023 U.S. troops killed*(4,011)
• 29,320 U.S. troops injured* (29,320)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 309 coalition troops killed** (308)
• 1,123 contractors killed(accurate updates NA)
• 90,219 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (90,115)
• $509.2 billion cost of war ($505.2 billion)
• $144.8 million cost toEugene taxpayers($143.6 million)
* through April 8, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million.
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• ODOT: Call (888) 996-8080 or Dennis Joll, IVM Coordinator at 686-7526. ODOT sprays most highways at night.
• Near Fox Hollow: Transition Management (484-6706) will ground spray 82 acres next to Doak , Fox Hollow and Preacher creeks starting April 15 (#50265).
• Near Walterville: Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 69 acres near Deer Horn Road, next to tributaries of the McKenzie River and Osborn Creek for Weyerhaeuser (741-5211) starting April 11 (#55262).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• Hillary Clinton packed South Eugene High School's auditorium last weekend, and we saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. The event did not have the powerhouse energy of Barack Obama's appearance at Mac Court March 21, but that's OK. Clinton has a different style and is promoting herself as rock solid as opposed to rock star. But now, as the Oregon primary approaches, it's time to look beyond style and examine the big issues. Our cover story this week takes a look at the environmental stands and other substantive positions of Obama and Clinton, keeping in mind the political reality that actions do not always follow words.
Is this really a useful process when the only hope for Clinton is some last-minute Obama implosion? Sure. Oregonians will have a voice this time in our nation's presidential nomination process, and talking about real issues is never a waste of time. Meanwhile, the latest KATU poll of 1,600 registered Oregon Dems this week shows Obama with a 10-point lead.
• The local debates have begun in earnest in anticipation of ballots going in the mail starting May 2. The deadline to register to vote is April 29. In nonpartisan races such as Eugene mayor, council, EWEB and County Commission, if someone gets more than 50 percent of the vote, that candidate goes unchallenged on the November ballot. So, as we've said before, the primary is nothing to sneeze at.
Last week, City Club hosted a debate among the four candidates vying for the North Lane seat on the County Commission. Longtime incumbent Bobby Green is facing three challengers, though only Rob Handy is mounting a serious, grassroots campaign. Even Kitty Piercy couldn't budge the entrenched Green back in 2000, but this race could be different. Handy is well known in north Eugene; he's running a good campaign; he's knocking on doors. And for somebody who in normal conversation is mild-mannered and polite, Handy in the City Club debate was surprisingly aggressive, attacking Green's environmental record and accusing him to his face of being ineffective in dealing with the county's economic woes.
Green's on the defensive this time, and voters are in the mood for change. Green lost some of his traditional support last year when he tried to push through a county income tax without a vote. And he lost more support last week when he declared he didn't really care about his low rating by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. He said his constituency is very different from that of the OLCV, but is that true? Do people in north Eugene really not care about their environment? We'll find out in May.
• Makes us proud that two Eugene scholars won Guggenheim Fellowships this year. Their names were displayed in a full-page ad in The New York Times April 7. Philip W. Scher of the UO Anthropology Department and an expert on Caribbean culture won a social sciences fellowship. Shawn R. Lockery of the UO Institute of Neuroscience was recognized for his research on neuron function and behavior. These are major awards for academic excellence and only go to top scholars in the nation, based on both their past achievements and their "exceptional promise for future accomplishments."
• Will environmentalists be able to collect enough signatures to force EWEB's $85.5 million bond sale onto the Sept. 16 special election ballot? The initiative was filed by local actvists April 8, but the window for gathering signatures is already half over. The group needs to gather 4,208 valid signatures by April 28, which is a daunting task. Another challenge is that the public does not appear to be particularly worried about the financing of EWEB's new facilities at its Roosevelt site. People are more interested in what happens with the EWEB property along the river that will be sold to help pay for the new facilities. One of the co-signers, Mark Robinowitz, says EWEB would better serve Eugene residents by investing in green jobs, such as a solar panel factory, rather than "paving wetlands" for new facilities.
• The World Jet Boat Marathon, whose controversial plans for a high-speed race up and down the Willamette on Memorial Day weekend raised the ire of local environmentalists and river lovers, seems to have decided on another venue. The web page for the race (worldjetboatmarathon.com) announced on April 4 that the "location is being changed to another location to be announced within a few days." Local enviros are wondering which river will be the next target.
• Look for more news and views at blogs.eugeneweekly.com this week, including our take on Tuesday night's GLBTQ forum with mayoral and county commission candidates.
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
A gymnast in college at SUNY Binghamton, Lisa Stein taught gymnastics in her coach's classes for kids. Kicked out of the school's elementary education program because of her alternative ideas, Stein took a humanities degree instead and moved to Boston to teach gymnastics. "I took any job I could find," she says. "I trolleyed all over town." On a trip to the West Coast in 1979, she met Hoedads treeplanters in Eugene. "I came back in the fall and joined Hoedads," she says. "I planted trees for three years, from November to June." She raised two sons as a single mom in a cabin near Elmira for 10 years , gardening and bringing in the firewood. "I taught gymnastics in Veneta for a couple of years," says Stein, who also got her license and began work in massage therapy. Since she moved back to Eugene nine years ago, Stein has worked in mediation and co-counseling. For seven years, she's been involved in the Heart of Now, a monthly three-day workshop promoting personal growth. "It's a loving space," she says. "People feel safe to open up and learn about themselves." Learn more at heartofnow.org