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Eugene Weekly : News : 6.12.08





News Briefs: Remembering David Minor | Bikers, Walkers Die, City Shrugs | Arena vs. Meditation | Off-Road in the Senate | Butte Gets New Bridge | UO Student Files Complaint | How the GOP Rose to Power | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Happening Person: Sara Asher


REMEMBERING DAVID MINOR

His friends meet at Jo Fed’s at midnight. They are at least a hundred strong. They are grieving as they walk through the streets. They are celebrating his life with candles glowing in their hands. They stop at the corner of 13th and Willamette, where bouquets of fresh flowers lie on the pavement. They carry a bike, painted white, and chain it under a sign that reads: “In memory of Dave Minor 06/02/2008.”

Photo: Tom Bodhi Reeves

Minor was born to John and Susan Minor in Eugene on Feb. 23, 1981, and grew up with a younger brother, Kevin. He graduated from the UO with a bachelor of arts in environmental studies and sociology. Those are the facts of his life.

His friends and family will also tell you that Minor liked to make an entrance by swinging the door wide open and sticking half of his face into the room to see if anyone was home. He had a reputation for being clumsy, but he could dance. Every once in a while you could find Minor dancing in the kitchen, at a bar or at a house party. He’d lift his knees high and put his arms straight out like he was driving a car. 

He was also a passionate storyteller speaking with his hands in motion and his elbows flailing, but often he would interrupt himself with his own laughter. When he laughed, it was with his whole body. His head and knees would rock back and forth. He would close his eyes, slap both his knees and laugh until he was out of breath.

Dave Minor was the guy you called if you wanted to go out on the town because he always knew what was happening. He was a good host even if he was absent. On one occasion Minor was out of town, but a friend was having a birthday and wanted to know if they could throw a party at Minor’s house. He was happy to have the party at his home even though he was gone.

“He was a lover and a thinker,” says Kelsy Laughnan, one of his best friends. “He was smart enough to do anything.” In college Minor talked about going to law school or becoming an activist. He expressed a desire to live in South America, but he had found happiness in Eugene with his job as the general manager of the newly renovated Jo Federigo’s. The job fit his life because it offered local and organic products and he was able to create a space for people to get together, socialize and listen to music. 

Minor had a love for music, anywhere from local underground hip-hop, classic jazz to the punk scene. He enjoyed sharing new music and literature with friends. On rare occasions he could be found watching Sex and the City or The L Word with his close friend Meagan Shaw, especially if it would cheer her up. “He was one of the greatest people in my life,” says Shaw.

“When I knew him, he was complicated and conflicted,” says Peter Allen, a past roommate and close friend. “Dave had a very strict code of ethics concerning consumption of goods and services. He felt frustrated to live and work in a society where he felt forced to break his codes.” Minor wore a tattoo on his left forearm with a quote by Eugene Debs that read “While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

He wouldn’t tolerate hate and ignorance. At a bar one night, Minor overheard a few guys telling jokes about minorities. He stood up and told the guys they didn’t belong at the bar and that they should leave. The guys telling the jokes saw the group of 10 friends standing behind Minor, and they left.

He tried to change the world by doing things like volunteering with Food Not Bombs, challenging people to think outside the box, discussing environmental and political injustice and growing a vegetable garden. “He was always growing food at his house, tending some piece of land or another,” says Allen. Minor made a conscious decision to ride his bike rather than drive his truck because he didn’t want to support petroleum companies. He loved riding his bike.

A celebration of life will be held at 3 pm, Thursday, June 12, at the Shedd Institute for the Arts. — Cali Bagby

 

Bikers, Walkers Die, City Shrugs

Will the recent death of a cyclist at 13th and Willamette  prompt the city of Eugene to take action to make Eugene safe for vulnerable road users?

Based on past experience, probably not. While Portland is installing brightly colored bike lanes and bike boxes in response to accidents, Eugene retreated from adding planned bike lanes downtown that could reduce street parking. A traffic bike box near City Hall is largely worn away by cars and invisible. 

A new north-south “bikeway” does not include bike lanes and is marked by small bike symbols on the pavement that most drivers can’t see. The city has dismissed calls for bike lanes and safer sidewalks on south Willamette Street for more than a decade. 

A spate of recent pedestrian deaths, including a woman killed in a crosswalk near Sacred Heart, sparked public outcry. The city responded only with a report from a police analyst that largely dismissed any pedestrian safety issues. — Alan Pittman

Arena vs. Meditation

The Eugene planning department required a conditional use permit (CUP) for the  Dharmalaya Meditation Center but not for the UO’s new basketball arena. CUPs are required to mitigate a development’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood. 

The meditation center is a strawbale backyard shelter for quiet retreats. The basketball facility is a 12,500-seat basketball arena — at roughly $250 million, the most expensive arena ever built, with plans for games, rock concerts and other mass events almost every weekend. 

On appeal, an independent city hearings official overturned both decisions. The meditation center now doesn’t require a CUP; the arena does. 

In the planning department’s CUP decision, the arena may have had a friendly connection that the meditation center did not. Like the rest of city government, the department gets all of its legal advice from a private law firm, Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C.

The firm’s president is Bill Gary, a friend of UO President Dave Frohnmayer. Gary was Frohnmayer’s top deputy when Frohnmayer was Oregon attorney general. Frohnmayer has made the arena his top priority. Harrang Long has repeatedly denied any conflicts of interest. —Alan Pittman

 

OFF-ROAD IN THE SENATE

For some people, going out in Oregon’s backcountry means a long hike in pristine wilderness; for others, the joy lies in driving their four-wheeler full bore down a wet and muddy dirt road.

In 2005, the Forest Service instituted a policy that all Forest Service lands are closed to off-road vehicle use unless otherwise posted, but use of what are called off-highway vehicles (OHVs) or off-road vehicles (ORVs) has been increasing. National Forests across the U.S. are in the process of drawing up plans for vehicle use. OHVs include vehicles like quads, motorcycles and “mudboggers.”

The Forest Service and BLM are working on backcountry travel management plans in areas of Oregon ranging from Eastern Oregon’s Steens Mountain to Mount Hood, and Oregon’s backcountry hunters and hikers are worried about the potential environmental damages from OHVs.

Mike Beagle of Eagle Point represented Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in Washington, D.C., last week when he testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden is a member of the committee.

Beagle says Oregon’s public lands suffer from a “lack of enforcement” against illegal OHV use. In one area of southern Oregon, he says, there are only “a couple game wardens to cover two million-plus acres.”

Illegal OHV roads are blamed for muddying trout streams, and according to Beagle, the vehicles destroy habitat and “stress out” the animals. He says that federal biologists at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range outside La Grande have documented big game like Rocky Mountain Elk being displaced by OHV use “much more than someone on foot, on a horse or even a mountain bike.” 

Beagle says, “It’s all about the habitat.”  — Camilla Mortensen

 

BUTTE GETS NEW BRIDGE

Hikers on the Ridgeline Trail on Spencer Butte may be noticing a new addition to the trail — a bridge made in an ages-old style. As part of improving the maintenance of the Butte’s trails, Eugene’s Parks and Open Space Division contracted with local stonemason Alan Ash to replace a deteriorating wooden bridge over a seasonal stream on the trail with a bridge made using a “dry stone technique.”

Photo: Cali Bagby

Dry stone, says Ash, “is a real craft.” Building using dry stone technique means the bridge is constructed without any mortar or cement to hold the stones together. The structure is held together by the way the stones interlock. 

Because of the lack of mortar or cement, dry stone “flexes with freeze and thaw cycles,” says Ash.

Though common in the U.K., the eastern U.S. and Kentucky, dry stone walls are more unusual on the West Coast. The dry stone technique is ancient, says Ash; it was used in the building of Egyptian pyramids. 

Ash built the Spencer Butte bridge by hand, using stones from the Butte and from Coburg and nearby areas. “Usually you want to use local stone,” says Ash, because “it’s closer and more natural to the area.” The bridge, he says, is “completely recyclable” and could last hundreds of years.

The bridge features two arches to allow the stream to run beneath it. The arches are also built without mortar to hold the stones in place; instead, 400 pound “keystones” hold each of the arches together. “The keystone gets all the glory,” says Ash. — Camilla Mortensen

 

UO STUDENT FILES COMPLAINT

The May 30 Taser incident involving Eugene police and demonstrating UO student Ian Van Ornum will be a high-profile case to be reviewed by the Police Auditor’s Office and the Civilian Review Board (CRB). Van Ornum, who was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, has filed a formal complaint with the auditor, alleging excessive force. 

Witnesses to the incident are asked to contact Cris Beamud, police auditor, or Dawn Reynolds, deputy auditor, at 682-5016.

Testimony from witnesses and those involved in the incident will first go to the EPD’s Internal Affairs (IA) for investigation. The IA report is due Aug. 29, according to the auditor. 

 So far, says Beamud, 12 individuals have submitted witness statements outlining what they saw and heard at the time of the arrest. Several witnesses submitted still photos and video taken at the scene. 

Following the IA investigation, the auditor will review the investigator’s report and make a recommendation to the chief of police. The CRB will also have the opportunity to review the investigation.

“The CRB provides civilian perspective about whether individual complaints have been handled fairly and with due diligence,” reads a statement from the auditor’s office. 

 

HOW THE GOP ROSE TO POWER

Now that he sees the Republican Party on its way out of power, Joseph Lowndes, assistant professor of political science at the UO, has a theory on how the party came to dominate U.S. politics in the late 20th century.

In a talk at Knight Library June 5, Lowndes said he began the research for his new book From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (Yale University Press, 2008) in the late 1990s. Then, he observed President Bill Clinton serving during a period of conservative dominance and steering the Democratic Party in more conservative directions, ostensibly in order to prevent the leftist excesses of the 1960s that led to a backlash against the party. 

“The punchline of the book, if there is one, is that nothing about the backlash was inevitable,” Lowndes said. 

Instead, Lowndes attributed the Republican Party’s rise to conflict within the Democratic Party over racial issues in the 1940s. Before that, American conservatism was not primarily interested in segregation. White Southerners then were committed to Jim Crow but also to the Democratic Party and to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. 

The 1948 Dixiecrat Revolt, in which many Southerners left the Democratic Party, was a reaction against the racial liberalism of President Harry Truman. Afterwards, Lowndes said, the South took over the Republican Party, which was eager to grow beyond its role as the party of the rich. 

Lowndes focused on the role of Dixiecrat political strategist Charles Wallace Collins, who worked on changing the political language to make segregation seem like something the whole U.S., rather than just the South, had a stake in maintaining.

Robert Tsai, associate professor at the UO School of Law, said while introducing Lowndes that political conversation today still uses racially framed terms such as “white working-class Americans,” labels that suggest a cohesive identity where one may not exist and promote one identity over others.

Lowndes said that with Sen. Barack Obama winning the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in Oregon, a white working-class state with a shameful racial past, new arguments were necessary.

Lowndes said long-term party realignments are part of the political cycle, and he thinks the Republican Party’s dominance is over for now. He said none of the Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination perfectly fit the model of Ronald Reagan, perhaps least of all the nominee, Sen. John McCain.

“Moments of party change look not unlike this one,” Lowndes said.  — Eva Sylwester

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

• Civil rights activists concerned about the Taser incident May 30 are planning to speak at the Eugene Police Commission meeting at 5:30 pm Thursday, June 12, at the McNutt Room at City Hall. 

• Lane County commissioners, operating as the Lane County Board of Health, will be considering a request from Public Works to spray herbicides along county roads, and public comment will be heard at 9 am Wednesday, June 18, in the commissioners’ meeting room at 8th and Oak in Eugene. The commissioners’ central phone number is 682-4203, and their email addresses can be found at lanecounty.org

 

WAR DEAD

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 27, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):

• 4,094 U.S. troops killed* (4,086)

• 29,978 U.S. troops injured* (29,978) 

• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)

• 313 coalition troops killed** (312)

• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)

• 92,004 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (91,889)

• $526.8 billion cost of war ($524.8 billion) 

• $149.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($149.3 million)

* through June 9, 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

Western Lane County: Weyerhaeuser  Company (744-4600) will spray roadsides with 2,4-D, Garlon 4 and 6 other herbicides near communities and streams starting June 15 (#50431).

• On the other hand, Plum Creek Timberlands will mechanically remove Scotch broom from 20,000 acres in Lane County (#50447). Call 336-6224 to thank Plum Creek for not using herbicides on Scotch broom.

• June 18, Lane County Board of Commissioners: will decide on proposals for herbicide use on Lane County rights-of-way.

Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org





 

 

 

SLANT

Is travel for education and networking worth it? EW sent three people back to Philadelphia last week for an annual newspaper conference, and the cost will surely be outweighed in the long haul by what we learned: better ways of managing our editorial and sales teams, new technologies and how to implement them, trends in media that affect our newspaper and our readers. Some of the value was in workshops and lectures; some was in lively chats in hallways, on buses and in bars. Buy an editor or publisher a beer, and she’ll tell you all her secrets to success. Web-conferencing and phone calls will never be a substitute for face-to-face interaction.

So it is with the city of Eugene and its officials’ travel expenses. Travels by our mayor, councilors and city staff are certainly worth eyeballing (the staff spends much more on “training” and travel than our elected officials), but politicizing council travel is petty. A more substantive topic to squabble over would be the hiring of an independent performance auditor — someone who would do an objective cost-benefit analysis of all the expenses in all departments and functions of city government.

• If Kitty Piercy expects to win in November, she and her supporters are going to have to start going door-to-door in Bethel and Hwy. 99 neighborhoods and get more students to vote in the tight mayoral race. In Bethel (Ward 6), 44 percent are registered Democrats and 32 percent Republicans. But Piercy lost the ward with only 25 percent voting for her. In the Hwy. 99 area (Ward 7’s Precinct 711), 53 percent are registered Democrats and 17 percent registered Republicans. But Piercy won only 43 percent of the vote. Torrey will likely outspend Piercy in TV ads to reach these Democratic voters. Piercy’s best strategy will be to use her volunteer power and her personal appeal to go door to door.

Piercy’s strategy should also include getting more UO students to tune in to the mayor’s race. In the area surrounding the UO dorms (Precinct 313), Piercy won 75 percent of the votes. But in the UO area, 19 percent of the voters skipped the mayor’s race. That’s nearly five times the mayoral undervote in Eugene as a whole. The precinct, including the large student apartments near Autzen stadium (413), also had a large undervote of 10 percent. These students would likely support Piercy if they knew more about her.

• Were you one of the several people shocked and outraged by the naked dolls on the cover of last week’s issue? Um, why? Is it because the dolls are unclothed? Perhaps you need to return to childhood: Watch any 4- to 10-year-old playing with dolls or “action figures,” and you’ll see how very, very quickly the clothes come off and the dolls begin interacting in ways that perhaps the toy designers did not intend. For more adult discussions, see art historian Erica Rand’s book Barbie’s Queer Accessories or Sarah Strohmeyer’s photo collection called Barbie Unbound. Papers flew off the shelves (except at one locally owned grocery store, which banned the issue), so we’d guess most of you weren’t too horrified. Our one regret is that we didn’t celebrate LGBT Pride Month on the cover with a naked Earring Magic Ken doll … or two.

• It was a feather in the cap for Hayward Field and the Prefontaine Classic when Brad Walker cleared 19 feet, 9.75 inches in the pole vault to set a new American outdoor record on Sunday. After the announcer kept rattling off other trivial records for the meet and Hayward Field (more 70-plus foot shot put throws than any other stadium was an example) there were murmurs that the announcer was missing a rather obvious meet record: number of false starts. The rule is that the first false start penalizes the entire field. The next false start or false starts mean an automatic disqualification. Just about every sprint event featured at least one false start, which benefits some athletes while frustrating others. 

For the fans at Hayward Sunday, it was disappointing to see the 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang (China/Team Nike) false start himself to disqualification. But a theory was floating around the grandstands, a theory that remains unsubstantiated: Corporate-sponsored athlete needs to run in corporate-sponsored meet in order to please the corporate sponsor and collect his cash. But the athlete is nursing an injury. Instead of pulling out of the meet, the athlete enters the race, gets disqualified, collects his bucks, satisfies his sponsor and quietly departs. Fortunately for track and field fans, the strategy at the Olympic Trials will be: Win and go to Beijing, or lose and go home.

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, editor@eugeneweekly.com

 

 

SARA ASHER

“I came here to be a stronger person,” says 17-year-old North Eugene senior Sara Asher, who joined a girls’ support group at Ophelia’s Place in October 2006 and later became OP’s first teen volunteer. “Once I felt I didn’t need a support group, I wanted to give back.” A drop-in center for girls ages 10-18, Ophelia’s Place branched off from Womenspace in 2005 as a separate nonprofit. When Asher’s family moved to a new home last year, she took note of the excess clothing in her closet, purged most of it and hatched the idea for the Feel-Good Closet. “I enjoy wearing fashionable clothing,” she observes. “Other girls would like it too.” She sent an email to fellow students and got on the phone to local businesses, asking for donations. With materials donated by Jerry’s, Asher’s boyfriend Skyler Shull built the actual closet-on-wheels in the school woodshop. After a ceremonial opening on June 16, the Feel-Good Closet will be stocked with high-quality clothing, available free to OP members. To make donations or learn about Ophelia’s Place programs and activities, visit opheliasplace.net