News Briefs: Votes Rejected in Primary | Power to the People | Throwing Pro-Bone-O a Bone | Meeting of the Minds | EW Takes 12 Awards | Activist Alert | Corrections/Clarifications | Final Oregon Eco-Saboteur Sentenced | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Police Taser Protester
Many witnesses allege police brutality
Happening Person: Kristen Gram
VOTES REJECTED IN PRIMARY
Dan Wathen voted in the May primary, but Lane County Elections didn’t count his ballot.
Wathen said he got a letter from the county after the election saying that his ballot was rejected because the signature on the ballot allegedly did not match the signature on his voter registration card.
Asked how often this happens, County Elections Manager Roxann Marshall said, “I don’t know.”
“That’s a big red flag,” said Wathen when told of the response. “It’s shocking to me that they don’t seem to know what they are doing over there,” he said. “Maybe it’s a few people, or maybe it’s a big crowd of them,” he said. “It makes you wonder.”
“It’s not very many,” Marshall said. She said less than 10 percent of ballots cast were rejected for mismatched signatures, but she wouldn’t say if the number was less than 1 percent. “I can’t give you a percentage.”
She said she wouldn’t be able to determine the percentage for past elections or the May election without doing some research. “I’m still tabulating ballots, and that’s my priority now.” Marshall said she didn’t know whether or when she would ever be able to supply the information.
State Elections Division spokeman Tom Hamilton said signatures are rejected “infrequently,” but “it’s not unusual at all.”
According to a 2005 study by Reed College and the Carter Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, state elections officials rejected 1,057 ballots in 2004 for mismatched signatures.
This primary had record turnout, and inexperienced voter errors could have resulted in higher numbers of signature rejections. It also had several very close local elections, including the mayoral race in Eugene, in which Mayor Kitty Piercy fell 1 percent short of winning re-election without a runoff.
Marshall said this year was also different in that her elections workers took a training class on signature verification.
Wathen, a disabled veteran, said he understood from a letter and by calling the elections office that he could have come in quickly and given his signature again and had his vote counted. But he said he didn’t have time, and after the election results were announced, the issue appeared moot.
Wathen said he’s concerned that elections officials could identify likely votes by addresses and party registrations and reject signatures based on their political bias. “It makes you wonder.”
He said he’s signed thousands of documents in his life and has never had his signature rejected.
“I was upset about it,” Wathen said. “It sort of defeats the whole purpose that somebody can just randomly roll over you like that.” — Alan Pittman
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
An estimated 50 to 60 participants gathered at Sam Bond’s May 28 for Lane Bus Project and Eugene Weekly’s “Brewhaha” monthly political forum.
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson kicked things off by presenting on Voter Owned Elections (such as Portland instituted this last election cycle). VOE would require candidates to “collect a large number of $5 qualifying contributions to demonstrate community support,” “reject private money contributions,” “limit campaign spending” and “agree to comply with strict administrative rules.” In return, candidates would receive public financing to run their campaign. Recently, Portland mayoral candidate Sho Dozono had his public funds withdrawn because his $27,295 in private contributions broke the $12,000 limit. Dozono lost the race to Sam Adams, who refused public financing and spent more than $200,000 on his campaign.
The participants then broke into small groups to debate the merits of such a system. After about 30 minutes of discussion, Bus Project leaders reported the group’s comments and concerns. Some worried that politicians needing quick $5 contributions would primarily stick to dense urban areas, neglecting the rural constituency altogether. Others speculated that the rule would make running for office similar to applying for a job, where merits trumped flashy, expensive resumes. One commenter thought politicians “become corrupt” in office, and so a change to the election process would do little good.
The second half of the evening had Tyrone Reitman, co-director of Healthy Democracy Oregon, explaining Citizens’ Initiative Review. Reitman talked about how easy it is in Oregon to get an initiative on the ballot even if it does more harm than good to Oregonians’ way of life.
The CIR, Reitman says, would decide whether a ballot measure actually does what its supporters say it will and whether the measure is a comprehensive solution to a statewide problem. The review board would be made up of 18 to 24 citizens selected at random from all over the state, representing a “microcosm of Oregon in terms of age, education, partisan affiliation and residence.” After hearing three to five days of testimony on the measure, the board members (who would be paid for their service) would summarize their findings in a one-page report to be printed in the Voters Pamphlet, giving Oregon voters a “trustworthy, balanced, and investigative report on each ballot measure,” according to HDO’s website. Find out more on this process at www.healthydemocracyoregon.org — Chuck Adams
THROWING PRO-BONE-O A BONE
A “Bone-A-Fit” for Pro-Bone-O, a local non-profit organization that provides free veterinary care for pets of people who are homeless, will be held at Bare Bones Dog Wash and Bone Appetit Bakery’s two locations, 3365 E. Amazon and 1025 River Road, from 10 am to 7 pm Saturday, June 7.
“We have the ability to help people who are experiencing the hardest time in their lives to keep their companions and not have to watch them starve and die,” says Maureen McLain, president of the board of directors of Pro-Bone-O. Some clients have been seeking Pro-Bone-O’s services for the last 10 years and will wait patiently for three and a half hours to have their pets served. “We’ve had a couple with a tiny Chihuahua that they’ve had for forever,” says McLain. “We trim its nails, give it new meds and help him to have a healthier life. We can keep him comfortable and happy.”
While you pamper your own darling doggie at the Bone-A-Fit, Spot Magazine will be at both locations from 1 to 5 pm, searching for their next cover model. For every bath you give your precious pup, 50 percent of the proceeds will go to Pro-Bone-O. Customers can enjoy cake and their pets can chow on homemade gourmet treats while supporting an organization that over the last 10 years has treated more than 7,000 critters from snakes to bunnies to chickens.
“First and foremost we’d like to get money for spay and neuters and medical procedures, like a tumor on a foot,” says McLain. “Second, we want to let people know that the service is there so people can get the word out, and we’d always like people to volunteer.”
Pro-Bone-O’s next clinic will be held the day after the Bone-A-Fit at Lindhome Center off Hwy. 99. For more information on Pro-Bone-O’s services visit proboneo.org or call 607-8089.
Pro-Bone-O’s dogs have loving owners, but if you’d like to give a homeless dog or cat a home, Eugene’s Save the Pets (www.savethepets.net), Greenhill Humane Society (www.green-hill.org), LCAS (www.lanecounty.org/animals/impound) and other groups are working hard to find families for the pets of Lane County. — Cali Bagby
MEETING OF THE MINDS
A diverse group of speakers on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease, including those who are affected by the disease, is coming up. The Regional Conference of the Alzheimer’s Association is scheduled from 8 am to 4:30 pm Saturday, June 7, at the Willamalane Adult Activity Center, 215 West C St. in Springfield.
The title of the conference is “A Meeting of the Minds: Part II. Living with Alzheimer’s, Putting the Pieces Together.” The event is designed for family members caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia, persons concerned about family and friends with the disease, persons with Alzheimer’s, community health professionals and people and clergy working in Alzheimer’s care.
The keynote speaker at 8:45 am is Michael Villanueva, a neuropsychologist from Medford and co-president elect of the Oregon Geriatric Association.
Other speakers and panelists include Frank Hales; Donna Peterson; Lani Gilbert; Joan Ward; June Boles; Chuck Jackson; Paula May, RN; Connie Adams, LCSW; Bette Dedrick; Marie Iverson; Joseph Riley; Alex Vonderhaar; John Urness; Sylvia Sycamore and Barbara Passarelli.
Registration is $55 and includes lunch. Call 345-8392, visit alz.or.org/Oregon or stop by the Alzheimer’s Association, 1238 Lincoln St. in Eugene.
EW TAKES 12 AWARDS
Journalism award season has rolled around, and once again Eugene Weekly took home accolades from the Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ) state and regional contests. Reporter Alan Pittman came away with several prizes, and the EW took a prize in the Oregon and Southwest Washington nondaily category for Camilla Mortensen’s environmental reporting. Chuck Adams got a nod for everyone’s favorite category: “Consumer, Food, Lifestyle, Home Reporting.” Finally, freelancer Aaron Ragan-Fore won an award for his education writing.
In the “Alternative Weekly” category for Pacific Northwest papers (including Idaho and Alaska), Suzi Steffen and Jason Blair took awards in criticism, and honors were given in page design for Kevin Dougherty. Both editorial and production were awarded for the special sections Swizzle and Weddings. Awards were announced at the SPJ annual banquet May 31 at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
• The Cascadia Wildlands Project hosts FSEEE executive director Andy Stahl for a multimedia presentation entitled “Wassen Creek: Owls, Old-growth and the Western Oregon Plan Revisions.” at 6:30 pm Wednesday, June 11 at the Eugene Public Library’s Tykeson Room. Stahl will show photography of the largest and most remote roadless area in the Coast Range, describe the ecology of coastal streams and old growth systems and discuss the critical role that Oregon’s coastal rainforest plays in endangered species conservation and global carbon cycling. Free and open to the public. Call 434-1463 or visit www.cascwild.org for more info.
• The Really Really Free Market comes to Lane County this weekend. The RRFM, a collectively organized event, will be from 11 am to 3 pm Saturday, June 7, at Island Park in Springfield. Attendees are encouraged to bring games, clothing, art, skills, music, furniture and anything else they want to give away. All goods and services at the market will be free, not paid for, bartered or exchanged. Lauren Regan of Eugene’s Civil Liberties Defense Center will give a “know your rights” training at noon. Email email@example.com for more information.
In last week’s news story about Alder Fuller and the Euglena Academy, a significant typo was printed. Fuller was talking about British scientist James Lovelock and his prediction that Earth’s population could “drop to less than one billion by 2010.” The correct date is 2100. Fuller’s detailed response to the story can be found at www.euglena-edu.net along with information on future classes.
FINAL OREGON ECO-SABOTEUR SENTENCED
The last of the Operation Backfire sentences in Oregon was handed down on June 3 to Jacob Ferguson, along with what has become de rigueur for the eco-saboteurs in Judge Anne Aiken’s courtroom: a book recommendation.
Ferguson’s sentence of no prison time and five years’ probation was of no surprise to those following the cases. The sentence, Aiken said, was a result of extensive cooperation between Ferguson and federal prosecutors. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdahl, Ferguson wore a recording device on 40 occasions in Oregon and across the country, resulting in 88 hours of tape. “In at least one instance he was in a situation where the recording device was taken from him, unbeknownst to the person who took it,” said Ferguson’s attorney Ed Spinney, stressing what he called the “danger” to which Ferguson’s cooperation subjected him.
The government also said that despite “rumor and innuendo,” Ferguson received no payment during his cooperation.
Spinney called Ferguson “a modern day Raskolnikov,” in reference to what he said was Ferguson’s “torment” and “nightmares” about his involvement in the arsons.
Ferguson, who appeared to be wearing a wig covering a tattoo on his head, expressed remorse for his involvement in the arsons and said he wanted to figure out ways to repay society. He was charged with and pleaded guilty to only one count of arson and one count of attempted arson out of what Engdahl referred to as “more than 20 arson attacks” from 1995 to 2001. Ferguson will not pay any restitution, under his plea agreement, for what Engdahl said was $40 million in damages.
Judge Aiken again recommended the same book she had assigned to others sentenced in the eco-actions: Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace ... One School At A Time. She also added another recommendation, Jeff Henderson’s Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras. However, unlike at past sentencings, she did not request a book report.
The government continues to investigate ecologically motivated arsons in the Midwest, and the Operation Backfire cases in Washington have not been sentenced. In Portland, activist Tre Arrow has taken a plea agreement that calls for 78 months in prison, leaving him with less than a year and half left to serve. — Camilla Mortensen
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 27, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,086 U.S. troops killed* (4,082)
• 29,978 U.S. troops injured* (29,978)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 312 coalition troops killed** (312)
• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 91,889 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (91,713)
• $524.8 billion cost of war ($523.9 billion)
• $149.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($148.7 million)
* through June 2, 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
• The Lane County Board of Commissions will consider proposals for herbicide use on Lane County rights-of-way at 9 am Wednesday, June 11. Sign up before meeting to testify. Check agenda and documents at: www.lanecounty.org/BCC/AgendaHome.htm
Call Lane County Commissioners at 682-4203 and/or Orin Schumacher, Integrated Vegetation Management Coordinator at 682-6908. See details at forestlanddwellers.org.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• When is the firing of a Taser justified? Eugene police officers are given excessive discretion in using the electric weapon, and now Tasers are being used on protesters. We use the plural “protesters” because even though only one demonstrator was hit downtown last week, the threat of Taser use is now something every peaceful demonstrator has to fear. Is that why the Taser was fired instead of some nonviolent intervention? Intimidation is the only reason we can think of for this police overreaction. Control through fear, rather than skillful conflict resolution, appears to dominate local police culture.
Is there a pattern of intimidation here? The police union in 2000 threatened to sue City Councilor David Kelly to try shut him up when he suggested investigating complaints about police behavior. Bad EPD cops intimidated vulnerable women to perform sex acts, sometimes under threat of death, costing taxpayers millions in lawsuit settlements. More recently, the police tried to intimidate the police auditor by filing criminal charges against her. The union tried to intimidate Councilor Bonny Bettman with a threatening and ugly website. Now Tasers are threatening peaceful protesters. What’s next from those sworn to protect and serve?
There are long-term solutions to EPD’s chronic problems, and they require a whole new level of disclosure, accountability and transparency. Bully cops on the force need to be fired, conflict resolution training and community policing need to become high priority and union members need to replace their leadership. It’s time for good, conscientious officers to break ranks and speak out against the destructive actions of a few misguided individuals.
• Isn’t “smart growth” an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms? After all, even at 1 percent growth, population will double in one lifetime (72 years) and quadruple in two lifetimes, and how can that be sustainable? So when we heard about the “Moving Forward Together” conference on “smart growth” coming up Wednesday, June 11, at the Hilton downtown, we were skeptical. A few years ago we would have expected the same old line of thinking from a gathering of real estate brokers, local officials and state transportation “experts.” But today’s realities of climate change, peak oil, pollution and changing traffic patterns are gradually altering conventional attitudes.
This conference will still hear advocates for unfettered growth and sprawl, but it will also give a voice to people like economist Joe Cortright, who makes the connection between stringent land-use laws and a healthy economy. Oregon planning consultant John Fregonese is a leading voice for public input into innovative regional planning. We will hear about property values going down on the outskirts and up in city centers. Old attitudes die hard in the real estate, transportation and construction industries, but change is afoot, and this conference offers a glimpse into the future. Information on the all-day event is available at movingforwardtogether.net
• One of Eugene’s gems is the Wayne Morse Ranch Historical Park on Crest Drive in the rolling south hills, but it turns out the scenic 27-acre meadow and woods with its 1936 home has never been a ranch. The property was known as Edgewood Farm in earlier times, but the label “ranch” was somehow attached to paperwork for federal and state grants when the property became a city park in the 1970s, and the label stuck. Now we hear the Morse family is seeking to call it a farm again. A name change to Wayne Morse Family Farm is expected to go to the Eugene City Council later this year “to rectify a historical mistake,” according to Alison Voss, co-president of the Morse Historical Park Corporation Board.
Speaking of Wayne Morse, an event that got little media attention was the unveiling of a plaque in honor of the late senator April 21 at the Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse. The new federal building was dedicated in late 2006, but Morse’s name is barely visible on the glass and steel front and was nowhere to be found in the building. Photos from the plaque dedication, including surviving Morse family members, can be seen at waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu
• Goodnight Bush? Making the rounds in print and on the web is a brilliant parody of Goodnight Moon, the classic children’s book first published in 1947 and a reported favorite in the Bush family library. Anyone in the Bush family today caught in possession of Goodnight Bush would likely be summoned to the woodshed, but the rest of us can enjoy a twisted and exceptionally funny look at the bizarre world of Bush & Cheney. The book is deliciously timely. Soon we can finally say goodnight to this eight-year disaster.
• The tragic death of a cyclist struck by a car at 13th and Willamette this week should prompt the city of Eugene to make real improvements in bicycle safety downtown. For decades the city has dismissed downtown bike lanes in favor of convenient car parking. Human life is more important.
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
After one term of engineering school at OSU, Portland native Kirsten Gram decided to become a dietician. “I went into home economics because I like to cook,” says Gram, who graduated in 1984, then served an internship in diabetes education in a children’s hospital at Indiana University. Returning to Oregon, she found work in the dietary department at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. “I’ve been here 22 years,” she says, though “here” is now Cascade Health Solutions, a nonprofit group of health-care programs that seceded when the hospital was sold. When she started, Gram ran a weight-management program. Today, in her 10th year as manager of CHS’s Center for Healthy Living, her main focus is diabetes education. “One in 10 Americans over 20 has diabetes,” she notes. “A third of them don’t know they have it.” Gram and three other certified educators meet with 60 to 90 diabetes patients a month in individual and group sessions. At the annual meeting of the Oregon Diabetes Educators in April, Gram was named Oregon Diabetes Educator of the year.