News Briefs: Eugene's Plan for No There There | UO Arena: Permit Schmermit | Library Borrowing Saves Bucks | Measure 59 Analyzed | Polar Bear Politics | Indigenous Land Rights | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Nonviolence in Eugene
Conference brings together civil rights and environmental justice
Sisters in Learning
Technology aids Russian-Eugene connection
Happening Person: Willa Reich
EUGENE’S PLAN FOR NO THERE THERE
Why does Eugene lack a downtown that’s the center of the community and instead have no there there?
That, according to Nan Laurence, a lead planner with the city of Eugene, is the plan. Local land use and transportation plans, Laurence wrote in July, “are based on a land use pattern in which employment is dispersed throughout the region. This ‘polycentric’ land use pattern has provided a blueprint for community growth for the past 40 years.”
Laurence was successfully arguing to the council that it should ignore comments from state land-use regulators critical of a city proposal to allow “suburban-density in the region’s core.”
The “polycentric” planning thing she’s talking about is “nodal development.” A decade ago Eugene and Springfield sprinkled dozens of node designations all over the metro area in an effort to use a loophole to comply with state rules requiring less car use to fight sprawl and global warming.
But it remains to be seen if the so-called nodes have had any real effect. PeaceHealth moved its downtown hospital to a field on the edge of Springfield with 3,000 parking spaces. The biggest move towards urban sprawl in the city’s history is a designated “node” in regional plans. — Alan Pittman
UO ARENA: PERMIT SCHMERMIT
The UO has asked the Oregon attorney general to let it start construction of its new basketball arena, the most expensive public building in state history, without a building permit.
At a Eugene City Council Meeting Aug. 13, Councilor Alan Zelenka said he didn’t see how the UO could get a special exemption from basic requirements for other builders. “They cannot excavate this site until they get a building permit,” he said, “unless they get a special deal from the attorney general to do an excavation without a building permit.”
Zelenka said such an exception would create a “flood” of requests from other builders expecting the same special treatment of starting construction without a permit. “I don’t know how the attorney general can make it just specific to this property,” he said.
But City Attorney Glen Klein told the council that “it’s not as simple as Alan [Zelenka] was saying.” Klein said there are some circumstances where the building code may allow excavation without a building permit. “We’ve been waiting for the attorney general to say whether this is one of those or not.”
In 2003 PeaceHealth created a stir when it began grading and excavation of its controversial RiverBend hospital site in Springfield before a master plan was approved for the development. A citizen group went to court to seek a restraining order.
Earlier, city of Eugene planning staff ruled that the UO did not require a conditional use permit to mitigate neighborhood impacts from the massive arena. That decision was thrown out on appeal. Now, the city has tentatively scheduled a hearing on the CUP for Oct. 7. — Alan Pittman
LIBRARY BORROWING SAVES BUCKS
Feeling broke this month? The Eugene Public Library has put a “Library Value Calculator” on its website to let you know how much money you can save by checking out books and DVDs instead of buying them.
The calculator estimates what you would be paying to rent movies, buy hardback books, use databases, read newspapers and connect to the Internet, among other things. According to the calculator, someone who checks out four books and eight DVDs a month is getting $140 worth of value from the library.
The estimates on book prices may be a little high ($27 a copy) for those of us who don’t buy hardback books all the time, but even if you cut that price in half (assuming you buy trade paperbacks), you’re still saving $13 a book.
Music CDs are estimated at $15 apiece, and a free hour of computer use would run $12 an hour if you were paying for it. The calculator doesn’t estimate rental space cost for the much-maligned kids who like to hang out in front, but you have to figure they’d be paying at least $8 to watch a movie or sit and drink lattes somewhere else.
To find out how much you can save, go to the library link at www.eugene-or.gov and click on the link to the Library Value Calculator. — Camilla Mortensen
MEASURE 59 ANALYZED
Measure 59 on the November ballot is a “costly tax break that would force deep cuts in public services” and would “give the richest Oregon households a tax break averaging more than $15,000 and middle-income families a tax break averaging just $2,” according to an analysis released last week by the nonpartisan Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP).
Measure 59 would allow an unlimited federal tax deduction on state tax returns. Oregon voters rejected a similar tax measure in 2000.
“Measure 59 is a raw deal for Oregonians,” says OCPP policy analyst Michael Leachman. He says in his analysis that relatively few residents in the state pay enough in federal income taxes to use up the maximum deduction already allowed under Oregon law. “It’s a scheme slanted heavily in favor of the state’s wealthiest households,” he says.
The wealthiest 1 percent of households would get about half of the total tax break under Measure 59, but fewer than one out of four taxpayers would get any tax benefit, according to the analysis.
OCPP puts the cost of the measure at “somewhere between $1.1 billion and $2.4 billion.” The lower range comes from an OCPP estimate that conservatively assumes that Congress will pass temporary, short-term adjustments to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and that some of the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration that are set to expire in 2010 will be extended.
The top end of the range comes from the state Legislative Revenue Office, which assumed no changes to the AMT and the expiration of all of the Bush tax cuts.
“Either way,” says Leachman, “Measure 59’s hefty price tag will squeeze Oregon’s budget.”
POLAR BEAR POLITICS
It may still be summer, but polar bears remain a chilly issue in the fight over oil drilling and global warming.
Alaska governor and newly announced Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has weighed in on the issue in the past, writing an op-ed for the New York Times in January against listing the polar bear as an endangered species. She writes, “There is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future,” and argues protecting polar bears under the ESA would not be based on science.
Palin, a self-proclaimed avid hunter, argues in her op-ed that she isn’t against saving polar bears. Instead, she writes, the issue is that “the Endangered Species Act is not the correct tool to address climate change.” The polar bears’ listing, which is in part due to the rapidly melting arctic ice the bears live on and hunt from, is the first ESA listing due to climate change.
The polar bear-loving folks from the Center for Biological Diversity beg to differ from Palin’s position; they filed repeated lawsuits in order to get the bears considered for ESA listing. When the bears were finally listed as threatened, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne also announced a new rule would be instituted that would allow the U.S. to “continue to develop our natural resources in the arctic region.” So the CBD again filed suit to protect the polar bears’ habitat.
Gov. Palin and the state of Alaska also sued over the ESA ruling. But Palin was arguing that the protection would potentially cripple offshore oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in Alaska’s northern waters. Those waters are prime habitat for American polar bears.
In the most recent of the polar bear-induced spate of lawsuits, five groups representing the oil and gas, mining and manufacturing industries are now arguing that business operations in Alaska are being unfairly singled out for contributing to global warming by the polar bears’ protected status.
Meanwhile, the CBD reports that on Aug. 16, with sea ice once again reaching record low levels, nine polar bears were spotted swimming far from the ice in the Chukchi Sea. — Camilla Mortensen
INDIGENOUS LAND RIGHTS
The Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics will host “Protecting Belize and Beyond: Indigenous Rights and the Environment,” a lecture and discussion with E-LAW attorney Antoinette Moore, at 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Room 175 at the School of Law on the UO campus.
In 2001, the government of Belize began giving rights to logging, oil and hydro-electric businesses on traditional Mayan lands, denying Mayan farmers access to their ancestral land. Moore argued on behalf of Mayan villagers and the Belize Supreme Court ruled in October 2007 that indigenous people own their traditional lands.
Moore told the Belizean news service of the villagers’ victory: “These communities now have something to stand on, to say they own this land. They have ownership interest in this land, and therefore if there is any oil found or if there is any logging concession, they have a right, a constitutional right, to benefit from those concessions, to benefit from whatever is derived from those concessions on their land.”
The lecture will focus on the connection between human rights and the importance of protecting the indigenous land, not only in Belize, but in lands that need protection in all parts of the world. — Cali Bagby
• A statewide campaign to defeat Measures 58 and 60 and “protect Oregon schools” kicks off with a gathering at 3:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 4, at River Road Elementary School Library, 120 West Hilliard Lane. Speakers will include members of the Parents and Teachers Know Better Coalition. Bill Sizemore’s Measures 58 and 60 link teacher pay with performance and “are simply two bad ideas that take away local control from parents, teachers, school boards and principles and instead impose one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools and our children,” reads a statement from the group. “With a combined cost of more than $600 million in the first two years alone, these measures will take money out of our classrooms and away from where we need it most.” For more info, visit parentsandteachersknowbetter.com
• The Sustainable Solutions Town Hall is planned for 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 10, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at 13th and Pearl. Mayor Kitty Piercy has invited Corvallis Mayor Charlie Tomlinson to attend to talk about the community-based sustainability goalsetting process under way in Corvallis (www.sustainablecorvallis.org). Commissioner Pete Sorenson will facilitate the “Transportation and Land Use Planning Carbon Footprint” discussion. Ruth Duemler will facilitate the “Health, Human Services and the Natural Environment” circle. David Piercy will facilitate “Education, Training and Technology.” Michael Carrigan will cover “Human Rights, Free Speech and Public Order.” Dan Armstrong will facilitate “Hunger, Organic Food Supply, GMO and Pesticide Awareness.” Call 937-3034 for more info.
• Deadline is Sept. 12 to reserve space for Oregon Wild’s Waldo Lake Campout Sept. 19-21. The educational and fun family event includes speaker Pete Sorenson, expert-led hikes around the lake, water activities and a catered evening meal. See oregonwild.org for details.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,150 U.S. troops killed* (4,150)
• 30,636 U.S. troops injured* (30,636)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 94,626 to 1.1 million civilians killed*** (94,562)
• $550.4 billion cost of war ($549.5 billion)
• $156.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($156.2 million)
* through September 1, 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 1.1 million.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Near Lorane Elementary School: Western Helicopter Services (503) 538-9469 will aerially spray 86 acres with herbicides for Giustina Land & Timber Company (345-2301) starting Sept. 5 (#50743).
• Near Marcola Elementary School: Weyerhaeuser Company (741-5211) will ground spray 60 acres with Imazapyr herbicide (#55646), date to be determined, likely Sept. 4.
• Near Fox Hollow and Lorane Highway area: Transition Management Inc. (484-6706) will spray roadsides with Garlon 4, plus 3 other herbicides throughout nine square miles near Coyote, Doak, and Preacher Creeks starting Sept. 11 (#50757).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• In last week’s cover story, the correct spelling of the Dog Whisperer’s name is Cesar Millan.
• Regarding last week’s new brief about “Baroque Obama” T-shirts, Taft Chatham’s art is available at Prince Pückler’s — but not his Obama shirts. They can be purchased at House of Records or through his website, taftographics.com
• Last week’s Slant item on Weekday Market could use some clarification. The market in The Tango Center on West Broadway is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but only includes Lane County Farmer’s Market on Fridays for now. “There’s a palpable sense of excitement regarding the resurrection of the year-round daily indoor market, in the space that was built for it,” says Greg Bryant of The Tango Center. He says vendors can contact him at email@example.com
• Eugene Police Chief Robert Lehner should start looking for another job, if he isn’t already. Unconfirmed rumors have him applying for a chief position in the Sacramento suburbs. He failed to conduct a promised internal investigation of the documented failings of many other EPD officers in the Magaña sex scandal. He failed to investigate the EPD’s documented far higher stop and search rates for blacks and Latinos. Now he’s shown no respect for the independent police auditor function and the voters who enacted it, purposefully and secretly violating city law by not disclosing to the police auditor a complaint against a police officer. For Eugene police officers entrusted with tremendous coercive power and deadly force, Lehner sets a poor example. He’s worn out his credibility and effectiveness here and should go.
• Thinking about sending a check to Obama? Good idea, but let’s not forget the local candidates who need financial support this fall. Kitty Piercy is in a tough fight to be Eugene’s mayor for four more years, and Rob Handy is working hard to unseat longtime Commissioner Bobby Green. These are key local races and the results will have a big impact on the quality of life in our area for years to come. Don’t have any bucks to spare? Donate a few hours to their campaigns. Visit kittypiercy.com or send a check to Kitty Piercy for Mayor, PO Box 2953, Eugene 97402. Check out robhandy.com or send a check to Elect Rob Handy County Commissioner, PO Box 41449, Eugene 97404. State election law requires that you include your name, address and phone number, occupation, employer, and employer’s city and state.
• Mostly good news, but some bad news for Oregon enviros pondering the ‘09 Legislature comes from Jonathan Poisner, director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. His analysis indicates that the Senate D majority of 18-12 probably will hold, and the House D majority of 31-29 could go up by at least three or four seats, with a possibility of six or seven seats picked up by the D’s. That’s partly because four times as many new Democrats as Republicans have been registered in Oregon since January. Sadly, the environment seems to be a partisan issue in this state with the green medal going to the Dems. One bit of bad news looks at House leadership. Speaker Jeff Merkley, with a lifetime OLCV rating of 95 percent, is likely to be replaced by Majority Leader Dave Hunt, lifetime rating of 72 percent, Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay, 65 percent rating, is likely to replace Hunt.
• News about John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for VP running mate changes by the hour and the tale is sounding more and more like a bad soap opera. We suspect this made-for-TV drama is a carefully calculated distraction. A lot of Americans can relate to a gun-toting working mom with an unwed pregnant daughter. It’s a compelling story, but is low drama what we really need in the White House? This is a huge gamble for McCain, particularly since Palin is being investigated for serious ethics violations, and many Hillary Clinton fans will consider anti-choice Palin a slap in the face. It’s an even bigger gamble for America and the world with the potential of a naive radical who doesn’t believe in science a heartbeat away from becoming leader of the most militarily powerful nation on the planet.
• Protesters surrounding the RNC aren’t getting much media attention these days, but one of our favorite cartoonists, Andy Singer, joined the estimated 10,000 demonstrators in Saint Paul, Minn., this week. He heard stories of how police did preemptive raids of local homes Sunday before the convention, detaining political activists for questioning downtown; and stopped and harassed people in buses and other vehicles showing anti-RNC political messages or psychedelic paint. He says protesters were not allowed into the “green zone” around the Excel Center. The New York Times in a front-page story Tuesday reported that at least 250 people were arrested. the Huffington Post reported that reporter Amy Goodman was “violently” arrested and police used “pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force” against demonstrators.
• Last week’s cover showing the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan holding a pit bull is apparently popular with the folks down at Sam Bond’s Garage. We hear they are having too much fun coming up with their own naughty captions for the photo. Down boys! Tsst!
Following graduation from Creswell High School in 1955 and marriage to fellow Creswellian Fred Reich on his return from Korea that same year, Willa Reich has had a long and varied career of study and teaching, in addition to raising three daughters. “I taught piano and organ for 40 years,” she notes. “This fall I’ll be back at the Campbell Center to teach porcelain-doll making.” Over the years, Reich has taught ceramics, horticulture, and floral design in her own home studio, through OSU Extension Services, and at every community center in Eugene. “A group of kids with disabilities came to the house to learn ceramics,” she says. “I enjoy helping people.” Living with diabetes, Reich stays up-to-date on the latest medical research. She attends seminars, travels to conferences, and serves as a patient advisor on the medication oversight safety team at PeaceHealth. She gives talks to senior groups on how to take an active role in their own health care. “I’ve had doctors call me from Kansas and San Diego,” she says. “My number is listed on the American Diabetes Association website.”