News Briefs: Green vs. Handy Big Bucks Race | Senate Race Eyes November | Giving Away the Greens | Chirp Thrills at Fern Ridge Fest | County Budget Meetings Now | MMM to Target Gun Violence | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Torrey vs. Piercy Debate
Torrey misleads with crime ad, unfunded spending
Secretary of State
Audits, elections and archives, oh my!
Happening Person: Gail Udell
GREEN VS. HANDY BIG BUCKS RACE
Development interests are battling environmental donors in a high-priced battle for the north Lane County Commissioner seat.
Rob Handy has reported raising $83,265, mostly from environmental supporters, in his bid to defeat incumbent Bobby Green, who's backed by gravel miners and development interests and has raised $67,450.
Green holds a key swing seat on the County Commission between conservative development and progressive environmental interests.
Sand, gravel, construction and land speculation companies which stand to make big profits from county contracts, mining permits and urban sprawl gave Green big contributions. Avon Lee Babb, president of Delta Sand and Gravel gave $10,000. Wildish Sand and Gravel gave $3,000. Verne Egge of Egge Sand and Gravel gave $1,000.
Other big contributions to Green include a $5,000 contribution from the county public works union, $3,000 from the state home builders PAC and $2,000 from Murphy Plywood.
Green's biggest chunk of money is a $25,000 loan from Jon Jaqua, an heir to Nike millions and a former professional football player. Jaqua made a similar big loan to Green in a previous campaign.
Wealthy residents who have given thousands of dollars to campaigns for President George Bush and other Republicans in the past are also big Green backers. Monaco RV CEO Kay Toolson gave Green $1,000 as did Charles Warren of Excalibur Cutlery. Republican Jack Roberts, the head of the local Metro Partnership, gave Green $500.
Handy's biggest donor is Deborah Noble, owner of West Wind Forest Products and a frequent backer of environmental causes. Noble gave Handy a $5,000 loan and $1,243 in cash. Other big contributors include $10,000 from home builder Carlos Barrera and $10,000 from local doctors Byrke and Klarissa Beller.
The Oregon League of Conservation Voters supported Handy with an in-kind contribution worth $3,248.
Other major Handy donors include: Elmer Handy of Tucson, $3,000, and $1,000 contributions from environmentalist and Nike heir Tom Bowerman, Sundance proprietor Gavin McComas, Ken Horowitz of Georgia and the Eugene firefighters union. —Alan Pittman
SENATE RACE EYES NOVEMBER
Democrats are hailing 2008 as the year to get the Republicans out of the White House and out of Congress, and pundits say that with approval ratings below 50 percent, Sen. Gordon Smith's Senate seat is one of the most vulnerable.
Smith's only challenger in the Republican primary appears to be a nonstarter. Gordon Leitch is a retired ophthalmologist whose anti-tax campaign slogan is, "Vote Leitch 4 Governor, $$ 4 You!"
The Democratic frontrunners in the hotly contested primary race are already starting to spook incumbent Smith. Smith has started running an attack ad against Rep. Jeff Merkley and fellow candidate Steve Novick that claims "More of the same when it's time for a change."
One change that Smith doesn't seem to believe in is climate change. That phrase appears nowhere on his Senate website, nor does "global warming."
Merkley and Novick, on the other hand, see climate change as the number one environmental issue facing Oregonians. Fellow Democratic challenger Candy Neville cites the proposed siting of liquid natural gas lines as her top enviro issue.
Rounding out the Democratic field are Salem-based David Loera, who has focused on immigration issues, retiree Roger Obrist and fitness instructor and perpetual candidate Pavel Goberman. John Frohnmayer will be running against Smith and his Democratic opponent as an Independent in the November election.
Although Neville has made some waves — big waves for someone who didn't take donations for most of her campaign — it's Merkley and Novick who are seen as the Democratic challengers most likely to take on Smith in the fall. Merkley has been categorized as the "traditional candidate," and indeed his campaign style reflects that, focusing as it does on his leadership and track record.
When asked what would make him the most effective candidate to have in the Senate, he responded, "I've spent my life bringing people together to fight for change," and referenced his experiences in Oregon legislature "fighting special interests" and putting together "a band of progressives to take back the Oregon House and end the paralysis in Salem."
Novick has waged a campaign that capitalizes on his differences from the norm. He's not just an outsider candidate; he's a 4'9" outsider candidate with a hook for a left arm. It's a strategy that has got him press from the Huffington Post to Fox News.
But the reason he says he would be effective in office, he says, is that he "will do a better job of conveying to my colleagues that we can take the risks that need to be taken to take this country back." — Camilla Mortensen
GIVING AWAY THE GREENS
It's that time of year when the rain seems warmer and the clouds above the Willamette Valley break for moments of sunlight. It's spring. Lane County's home gardeners are sowing their crops. Even as the slugs congregate and the crows unearth the newly planted corn, steadfast gardeners know they will always have surplus fruits and vegetables. This year, that extra produce could come in handy. Donations at FOOD For Lane County, according to Barbara Butzer, programs and services director at FFLC, are down by more than a million pounds from this time last year, despite the success of canned food drives.
So, what can gardeners do to ease the shortage? Plan ahead by planting an extra row or even a whole raised bed. Then bring the additional harvest to FFLC's storage facility. Here's the rundown from Butzer for all green thumbs ready to pitch in and make a difference:
• Produce can be brought to the reception area of the FFLC warehouse at 770 Bailey Hill Road (just north of West 11th). It's open for deliveries from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
• The best time to deliver food is earlier in the week and earlier in the day. Produce that arrives late on a Friday won't be distributed until Monday.
• The best foods are those that store reasonably well and aren't too unusual. Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers are all familiar foods that will be well received and used promptly. Raspberries and strawberries aren't the best choice. It's fine to bring tomatillos and other foods that fit into "ethnic" diets.
• Firm fruits and vegetables keep the longest — root crops, squash, cabbage, hard fruits like plums and apples. Head lettuce is preferable to leaf lettuce. Onions, carrots, potatoes and other items that can be used in soups and stews are very versatile.
• Sturdy containers are preferred, especially for soft items, as it protects them during transport. Paper bags are OK for firm items, but paper bags will not hold up if they become wet.
• Having the produce separated by item will make it much easier for shoppers (representatives from agencies distributing the food) to find what they need in quantities they need. They are working on short timelines when picking up food.
• The receptionist will ask for your name and phone number when the donation is weighed in. She will issue a receipt if you ask for one.
• Produce that spoils very rapidly (such as soft berries) is not a good donation. Overripe or oversized produce probably won't get used. Produce cannot have been on the ground (like windfall fruit) where it may have become contaminated.
This year, FFLC and Grassroots Garden have been chosen to receive a portion of the proceeds from sales at the Oregon Plant Fair May 10 in Alton Baker Park. For more garden-specific suggestions or plants for extra rows, visit the fair between 10 am and 2 pm.
Grassroots Garden is one of three FFLC garden programs that Butzer describes as an important connection for bringing "thousands of pounds of fresh organic produce that is distributed through emergency food boxes, community meal sites and other partner agencies."
This growing season, gardeners at home can add their surplus to that harvest and help stave off hunger in Lane County. — Wade Christensen
CHIRP THRILLS AT FERN RIDGE FEST
Vibrant yellow and pink birds scamper across the ground. Petite black and blue birds soar in and out of view of the Secret House gardens. Sounds of chirping and whistling flood the courtyard.
"If we feed them, they will come," says Patti Chappel about her many winged visitors. Chappel, the owner of the Secret House Winery, is hosting the third annual Fern Ridge Wings & Wine Festival from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, May 10. The event is cosponsored by the city of Veneta and several Lane County organizations.
"The magic thing about birding is that all of a sudden things come into focus that you never thought were there," says Chappel, who hopes the festival will serve to educate and create wildlife awareness.
Secret House's grounds will hold hourly walks, a local art contest for kids and info booths hosting interesting activities. Many of the activities are free but need to be signed up for in advance because of limited spots.
For folks who want more activity, there will be birding tours at Fern Ridge and the Oregon Country Fair grounds with birding experts. Birding at the end of Royal Avenue with biologist Dan Farrar will reveal various shorebirds, raptors and other birds otherwise missed by the untrained eye.
"Learning to birdwatch is like getting a new car. As soon as you get one you notice it all the time around town," says Farrar. "As soon as you identify a bird and it becomes meaningful to you then you start to notice that bird."
If you are looking for a little more wine in your birding, the festival is a great place to start a tour of four wineries including Sweet Cheeks, Sylvan Ridge and King Estates. At each site there will be an opportunity to taste wine and view birds in the area.
"There is a lot of action here," says Chappel. "Love is in the air."
Some additional bird watching opportunities during the festival will be available as early as 7 am Saturday. For more details visit wingsandwinefestival.com or call 935-8841. — Cali Bagby
COUNTY BUDGET MEETINGS NOW
May brings a series of Lane County Budget Committee meetings open to the public, and the next will be from 5:15 to 9 pm Thursday, May 8, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. On the agenda will be health and emergency management services, including public health and mental health. The last hour will be reserved for public comment.
The next meeting will be from 5:15 to 9 pm Tuesday, May 13, and will focus on public safety services, including prosecution, police, corrections, youth services, supervision, treatment for offenders and justice courts. Again, the last hour will be for public comment.
Earlier meetings in May looked at public works and prevention and social services. After collecting public comment on the budget, the committee will meet to deliberate needs and resources in two meetings May 15 and May 22. Public comment will be from 5:15 to 6 pm both nights if the last meeting is needed.
Lane County's current proposed budget for fiscal year 2008-09 is projected at $455.8 million, a 15.65 percent reduction in proposed spending from the previous year. The budget projects a reduction of about 188 full-time equivalent employees.
About 20 percent of the county's discretionary spending is tied to the federal Secure Rural Schools Act, says Dave Garnick, county budget manager. The uncertainty of the funding this year means "there are serious decisions to be made, and more people are getting involved in the public process," he told a Brewhaha political gathering at Davis' Restaurant April 30. — Ted Taylor
MMM TO TARGET GUN VIOLENCE
The ninth annual Million Mom March, which has its roots in Eugene, will be back again on Mother's Day, May 11. The event for "Family/School Gun Safety & World Peace" will begin with a gathering at 2:30 pm at EWEB Plaza and parade one mile along the river to Owen Rose Garden for a pie potluck.
The main guest speaker for the event this year will be Kathryn Henderson talking about school solutions and nonviolence through education. Henderson has worked at Lane ESD for the past 18 years, focusing on providing safe and healthy school environments in which young people can learn. As the coordinator of the Lane County Tragedy Response Network, she was a behind-the-scenes support to the Springfield School District after the Thurston High School shooting 10 years ago in May. Since the shootings, she has helped coordinate the South Western Oregon PeaceMakers Conference for middle and high school students.
Million Mom March organizer Betsy Steffensen says eight children a day are killed by guns in our country — for a total of almost 3,000 a year — and another 13,000 a year are wounded. "Nearly 1.7 million children under the age of 18 live in homes with firearms that are both loaded and unlocked," she says.
The march is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters, WAND and the Lane County Democratic Party Peace Caucus. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The Civil Liberties Defense Center is hosting a Casino Night beginning at 7 pm Friday, May 9, at the Vet's Club, 1626 Willamette. The event is a benefit for CLDC. Roulette, craps and blackjack, plus hors d'oeuvres, live music, and cash bar. Advance tickets $30, door $35. Win raft trips, wine packages, Shakespeare festival tickets and more. For tickets and info, visit www.cldc.orgor call 687-9180.
• Nationally syndicated columnist and author Norman Solomon returns to Eugene to speak on "Oregon At the Crossroads of History: Its Crucial Role in the 2008 Presidential Election." He will be interviewed at the LCC Performance Hall (Bldg 6) at 1 pm Monday, May 12 by former NPR reporter Alan Siporin. Mayor Kitty Piercy and political folksinger Janet Bates will open the free event. Beginning at 5:30 pm Monday will be an informal reception for Solomon at Davis' Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway. Donations of $10 to $25 will be asked for the evening event.
• The first general meeting of the "Save Civic Stadium" organization will be held on at 7:05 pm Wednesday, May 14, at the EWEB Building Training Room. Tony Corcoran and State Sen. Floyd Prozanski will be co-facilitators for the meeting. "Civic Stadium is a community treasure," says Scott Landfield of Tsunami Books. "It is the intention of this meeting to begin to put some teeth into a plan to save Civic Stadium."
• A committee of UO faculty, staff, a student and an alumnus will investigate potential uses for McArthur Court and make recommendations about the building and its surrounding area by early next year. Members of the committee chaired by Robert Melnick are Mia Tuan, Pat McDowell, Howard Davis, Kingston Heath, John Lysaker, Shelly Kerr, Darin Dehle, Chris Ramey, Emily McLain and Gretchen Pierce.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began onMarch 20, 2003(last week's numbers in parentheses):
• 4,071 U.S. troops killed* (4,056)
• 29,320 U.S. troops injured* (29,320)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 312 coalition troops killed** (309)
• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 90,897 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (90,782)
• $517.1 billion cost of war ($515.1 billion)
• $147.0 million cost toEugene taxpayers($146.5 million)
* through May 5, 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 1-888-996-8080 or Dennis Joll, IVM Coordinator at 686-7526 for exact spray schedules. Approximate schedule: May 5-15 Hwy. 126 West, Hwy. 36, and Hwy. 101.
• Chezem Road: Plum Creek Timberlands (541) 336-6224 will ground spray Milestone, triclopyr, and glyphosate herbicides starting May 15th (#50339).
• Near Ferguson, Fish, Lake, Coyote, Hawley and Barlow creeks: Seneca Jones Timber (461-6245) will spray 16 miles of roads with Garlon 4 and Milestone herbicides starting May 15 (#50331).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• Endorsement time is upon us, and ballots are arriving in the mail this week. We're being more selective in our picks this election. It doesn't make sense to endorse candidates who are unopposed on the ballot. There's a grain of truth in the old saying, "Don't vote — it just encourages them." If there's a candidate you don't like, don't vote for them just because they are the only name on the ballot.
For example, we will happily mark our ballots for Pete DeFazio for Congress, George Brown, Betty Taylor and Andrea Ortiz for City Council and Pete Sorenson for County Commission. But we're less likely to support other unopposed candidates who have been disappointing. Chris Pryor has been a predictable antiprogressive voice on the council; he has never had a challenger in Ward 8. nor has he faced the public in a debate. Likewise, Terry Beyer is the only Democrat in the House District 12 primary, but her conservative voting record mimics many Republicans.
How can we fill our ballots with more and better candidates? Well, we can start by raising the pay for Eugene city councilors. We can also be more proactive in recruiting and cultivating candidates to run for open positions and challenge bad incumbents. Lane County voters are not enamored with incumbency, and good campaigns can remove even entrenched politicos. Remember County Commissioners Steve Cornacchia and Anna Morrison and City Councilor Scott Meisner? Out to pasture. And now longtime Commissioner Bobby Green is sweating his future employment.
• Some good questions were fielded at the mayoral debate at City Club May 2, but one big question Jim Torrey avoided answering related to his support of George Bush and the Iraq invasion and the economic impact of Bush policies at home. Torrey dismissed the question by saying that his attention was on local issues. Kitty Piercy understands the connection, and we suspect Torrey does too but doesn't want to talk about it — just like he doesn't want to talk about how he would pay for more cops and filling potholes.
The Iraq invasion and occupation has in fact cost Eugene taxpayers about $147 million so far ($355 million for Lane County taxpayers; see NationalPriorities.org), and it's guaranteed to go much higher. In addition, the White House has cut Secure Rural Schools payments to Lane County and other federal timber counties to help pay for the war and tax cuts. Bush policies are directly related to Lane County's new budget proposal that eliminates about 188 full-time positions and numerous critical county services. And that $147 million squandered on bullets, bombs and $4 cans of soda pop would have filled a lot of Eugene potholes.
• Speaking of potholes, why are some mayoral candidates focusing on street problems? City attitude surveys show that potholes are way down on the list of citizen concerns. The focus on pavement by what EW wine columnist Lance Sparks calls "potholeheads" is likely strategic. Every voter understands potholes, but not every voter can relate so easily to the more subtle issues of protecting our environment and quality of life.
Also, can a Eugene mayor order Public Works to fix the streets? Nope. Our mayor has a bully pulpit but not much real power over the budget and no line-item vetoes or additions. Once a year the council debates and votes on the Budget Committee's recommended spending plan, but unless there's a 4-4 tie on the council, the mayor doesn't even get to vote.
• The website icasualites.org is an excellent, nonpartisan source for statistics and news from international sources about the Iraq occupation and is the go-to site for much of the information in our "War Dead" box in News Briefs each week. The British site has been under attack by some sophisticated hackers who apparently don't want this information to be readily accessible to the public and to the media. In recent weeks only basic information has been available on the popular site due to hackers, and the site has been shut down at times.
• Videographer Tim Lewis tells us he's producing a series of short YouTube videos that will be uploaded for public viewing this week. One will include some old footage of Jim Torrey from his first terms as mayor. Others will follow, including some new footage of current topics, such as the AmazonHeadwaters. Search for "Picture Eugene" on YouTube.
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
With 10 years of work experience in printing, San Francisco Bay Area native Gail Udell discovered Oregon on a vacation trip to Florence in 1994. "I picked up the Eugene phone book and saw lots of print shops," she says. "I came up and got an apartment. The first day I looked at the paper, I found a job at Eugene Print." Four years later, she met her husband, Jason Udell. In 2003, aware in advance that their daughter Teagan would be born with Down Syndrome, Udell searched in vain for local DS resources. "It was a negative experience," she says. Since the birth of her second daughter Shealyn in 2006, Udell has partnered with fellow DS mom Sydney Shook to start the Emerald Family Down Syndrome Network. "We get together the second Saturday of every month," she says. "Anyone is welcome. It's a chance to get together and play, to socialize and share ideas." EFDSN's first annual Buddy Walk drew a crowd last September. "It was hugely successful," Udell reports. "A lot of adults showed up." EFDSN's next event is Friends and Family Night at McMenamins North Bank on June 10. Learn more at efdsn.org