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Eugene Weekly : News : 10.23.08





News Briefs: Underdog Speaks Out | Clearcut or Meadow | Police Auditor Unanswered Questions | Dark Side of Sports Culture | Spay/Neuter Clinic to Close? | OBF Goes Global | Trick or Vote | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Happening Person: Laura Pierce

News:

Mayor for All Developers

Sprawl and gravel interests invest big in Torrey, Green

News:

Endorsements At a Glance


EW’s choices in measures and contested races

News:

Stripping by the Numbers

Students take it off to afford college

Q&A:

Activist Law, Race and the Election

A Q&A with civil rights lawyer Lani Guinier

 


UNDERDOG SPEAKS OUT

He doesn’t have many big endorsements in the conservative House District 7, and not much money for his campaign, but Democrat Don Nordin of Cottage Grove is hoping the wave of voters disillusioned with Republican thinking will help him unseat Bruce Hanna.

Hanna was appointed to the Oregon House in 2004 when fellow Republican Jeff Kruse resigned to run for the Oregon Senate. District 7 includes Cottage Grove and parts of south and east Lane County and north and east Douglas County. Hanna, president of the Roseburg Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, is currently minority leader in the House and sits on the Ways and Means Committee and Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. He favors boosting timber cutting and reducing government programs. 

Nordin owns and operates Equinox Industries, which manufactures bike trailers and garden carts. He has served in the Peace Corps and locally on the Cottage Grove Planning Commission, Coalition for a Healthy Lane County and other civic groups. 

“I don’t have anything against Hanna as a person,” says Nordin, “but we’re running against the wall here and we just can’t continue business as usual.”

Nordin says the last Legislature tried to make changes, “but with a 31-29 (Democratic) majority, they didn’t do too much, Adding another two to that majority would help a lot. Everything the Legislature does should be in consort with adjusting to the challenges we are going to have with climate change, peak oil, the financial meltdown … aquifers drying up, running out of food, population explosion, the whole gamut of things we are going to have to address quickly if the next generation is going to have the proper resources to deal with it at all.”

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters gave Hanna a 12 percent approval rating in 2007. 

Working in favor of Nordin’s campaign is the increase in voter registration in Douglas County. Of the 4,000 new voters, nearly 3,000 are Democrats. Also, Nordin says, he and his Democratic opponent, G. Nick McKibben, together garnered more votes in the primary than the incumbent Hanna. — Ted Taylor

 

CLEARCUT OR MEADOW?

The 2002 Biscuit fire in southern Oregon is the issue that refuses to die. Disputes centering on the controversial post-fire salvage logging linger on, and a recent timber sale covered by the Biscuit fire’s environmental impact statement (EIS) has conservationists worried that the Forest Service may have cut trees in order to preclude a future wilderness designation for the area and allow for more logging in the future around the popular Tin Cup trail near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Scott Conroy, supervisor of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, wrote, “No unburned old-growth forests were salvage logged,” in an op-ed in the Medford Tribune about post-Biscuit fire logging. But George Sexton of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild) says the Low Meadow timber sale near the wild and scenic Chetco River clearcut old-growth trees under the guise of a “meadow restoration project.” 

The logging took place in an old-growth reserve in an inventoried roadless area, an area that is “a key watershed for salmon recovery” says Sexton. “You’d think old-growth logging would be precluded by the roadless rule,” he says. The logs were lifted out of the area by helicopter. 

KS Wild fought the timber sale, which was approved in 1997, before the group existed, arguing that in the 10 years since the sale was approved changes such as the encroachment of barred owls into spotted owl habitat and the spread of sudden oak death should have required a new analysis of the sale. Instead the Forest Service issued a number of internal memos looking at the impacts to avoid a public review process, according to Sexton. In August the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that said the Forest Service didn’t need to do a new analysis because the logging was covered under the Biscuit’s EIS. According to Sexton, the Forest Service said in court that the project didn’t involve clearcutting, or logging trees over 40 inches in diameter.

The logging took place not long after the ruling, and Sexton calls it “a wilderness preclusion clearcut,” and fears this timber sale could interfere with future efforts to preserve the area. He asks, “Why else log in pristine wilderness? It doesn’t make sense.” — Camilla Mortensen

 

POLICE AUDITOR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

After several months of friction between the Eugene Police Department and the independent police auditor, City Manager Jon Ruiz finally waded in an effort to settle the unrest. 

Ruiz wrote a memo with attached city attorney opinions to the Council stating that the auditor will participate in internal affairs interviews and he will try to resolve disputes to try and get the auditor the information she needs to do her job.

Ruiz said, “I fully support the current police civilian review system.” But that support may have to be demonstrated to the public more through deeds than words and many important questions remain unresolved. Here’s a rundown:

• Ruiz describes the “purpose” of the auditor and review system as increasing trust in the police department. Is it? Is the auditor just a PR position, or is it to increase trust by actually increasing police accountability? 

• Ruiz wrote, “Chief Lehner and I did not agree on all aspects of how the oversight system should function.” What did they disagree about? Is that why Lehner left? Did Ruiz force Lehner out?

• Ruiz said police review issues should not be “aired in public.” Will the public feel safer if when it comes to police review, it’s kept in the dark? 

• The public friction between the police auditor and police department has been raging for months. Why did it take so long for Ruiz to do his job as city manager?

• The auditor complained that the police hid a secret police complaint and denied her access to review the case. Will the police now allow the auditor to fully access the “secret” case?

• Police Auditor Dawn Reynolds said she requested additional investigation on the secret case, but the police did nothing, in defiance of the ordinance. Will the police conduct the investigation as required by law?

• Ruiz said that if the city attorney and the auditor disagree on what information can be provided to the auditor, he will meet with the parties to “collectively determine how to resolve the disagreement.” If there’s no agreement, who decides? 

• Ruiz hires, fires and decides the pay of the city attorney. If the attorney therefore works for Ruiz and not for the City Council and its independent auditor, should the council and auditor hire an outside attorney for legal opinions on disputes between the manager and auditor?

• Ruiz said the police chief should not suspend investigations of police wrongdoing unless there is a “real necessity” to “avoid jeopardizing a pending current criminal investigation or prosecution.” Who makes the final decision? How high is the standard? What about cases where the officer isn’t the focus of the criminal investigation? Wouldn’t evidence that an officer abused a defendant always “jeopardize” a conviction? 

• The city attorney wrote that city staff must comply with ordinances passed by the council unless they “violate a contractual obligation.” Does that mean that the city manager can subvert the power of the council by writing contracts that contradict the council? 

• The city attorney wrote that the auditor must initiate an investigation “within 60 days” of the incident. Does that mean the police and/or district attorney can revoke external review of the worst cases by suspending an investigation pending a criminal case? Has the auditor already lost the ability to initiate an investigation of the May Taser case? — Alan Pittman

 

DARK SIDE OF SPORTS CULTURE

Is something rotten at Autzen?

During the recent Ducks home game against UCLA, two fans in the bleachers got into a fight; one of them was led out in handcuffs, and the other, who fell ass over tea kettle across the railing, was hauled away in an ambulance. 

A flagship program in the UO Law school, called Competition Not Conflict (CnC), took steps this week toward countering the negative shift in sports culture when it brought in noted speaker Don McPherson. A former Heisman candidate out of Syracuse and pro football player, McPherson has dedicated himself to dismantling what he terms the “cheap entertainment” aspect of sports — which includes, he points out, the “narrow masculinity” of unbridled machoism that fosters aggression, greed, sexist attitudes and even violence against women as well as a win-at-all-cost temperament that is gladiatorial at best.

A self-declared feminist, McPherson left football “cold turkey” in 1994 and dove head first into academia in a search for answers to the questions that had been plaguing him. “As an individual, I try to keep sports in perspective in our culture, and we’ve lost that perspective,” he explains, adding that the ugly side of sports culture — outrageous salaries, “hyper-masculinity,” the primacy of victory over process — speaks to something awry in our culture at large. Sports as metaphor can act as both “canary in the coal mine or just a mirror for us,” McPherson says. For instance, he adds, the spectacle of chowderheads yelling “kill him” and “terrorist” about Obama during recent McCain/Palin rallies “parallels what’s happening in sports,” which boils down to an “I win/you die” dichotomy.

It’s not about the wholesale denigrating and dissing of sports, McPherson argues; it’s about getting things back in perspective and setting priorities in order. “I recognized a long time ago, sports is not about winning and losing,” he says. “It’s about process. We have made process an evil in our culture.” Unfortunately, McPherson adds, “the problem is going to continue to get worse,” especially with an imploding economy that leaves more and more people disenfranchised and scared. Subjected to the twin engines of fear and anger, “we are going to cling to sports,” he says.

However, McPherson sees good news in the success of Obama’s campaign, which gives evidence of a rejection of the anti-intellectualism and us vs. them attitudes of the past decade. “There’s a move toward ‘let’s think about this for a moment,’” he says. “The evidence is there so far.”

Tori Klein, a UO law student who took over in August as director of CnC, explains that McPherson — a national figure with clout — perfectly exemplifies the organization’s goal of bridging the gap between athletics and academics. The program, which will touch all levels of athletic from youth to professional sports, will place emphasis on education about such issues as gender and cultural awareness, conflict resolution and communication. “We aren’t trying to eliminate the fun,” Klein says of the CnC’s work. “We’re refocusing. It’s a big project, but we’ve got all the time in the world.”

As one of the CnC’s first guest proponents of that refocusing, McPherson spoke Monday night on the issue of “Shifting Sport Culture” at the Knight Law Center — right smack in the middle, it might be noted, of the Monday Night Football broadcast on ESPN. — Rick Levin

 

SPAY/NEUTER CLINiC TO CLOSE?

Eugene and Lane County’s efforts to stop killing so many of our stray pets have suffered another setback, and it’s not just animal advocates who are howling in protest.

A recent memo from Eugene Finance Director Dee Ann Raile to the mayor and the City Council said that the Eugene’s low cost spay/neuter clinic will be closed by mid-December. Animal advocates are upset over the loss of a clinic that prevented 3,000 of Eugene’s pets from breeding more unwanted animals last year. Local rescues say they doubt private vets and resources, like Willamette Animal Guild, a low cost spay and neuter clinic, will be able to fill the void.

The clinic closure has become a workers’ rights issue as well. Lou Sinniger, a representative of Oregon American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has filed a grievance. The clinic’s closure entails laying off three AFSCME employees. 

Sinniger says that at a meeting with Raile on Oct. 9, “I asked her if there was anything we could say or do that would change her mind” about closing the clinic. Sinniger says, “She said no.” 

According to the grievance letter, “The city simply did not give the union ‘prompt notification’ nor did it make every reasonable effort to predict the need of workforce reductions.” 

Sinniger says when he talked to clinic employees, they told him Raile and the city “never responded” to their suggestions for improving efficiency at the clinic.

“This isn’t just a job to them,” says Sinniger. “They care about the animals.”

According to Raile’s memo, the impending clinic closure was brought on by a $30,000 deficit, despite revenue of $436,000 last year and because the city has not been able to find replacements for the two current half-time veterinarians. 

Sinniger said that Raile has done “very little” to recruit replacement vets for the clinic. The current job posting on the city’s website lists a Ph.D. in the requirements for the position. Practicing veterinarians must have a DVM, not a Ph.D.

Closing the clinic should be a “policy decision, not a managerial decision,” Sinniger says. “When they decided to close the spay/neuter clinic, they’re stating a policy that the city is out of the spay and neuter business,” he says. This is a decision, Sinniger says, that should be made by the mayor and City Council, the policy makers, not the managers.

Scott Bartlett, a member of Lane County’s Budget Committee, as well as the Save Adoptable Animal Task Force, agrees. “It’s the green-eyeshade bean counters in the basement of City Hall who are proposing this disastrous action. The adults at the City Council should take control over this crisis.”

Both Bartlett and Sinniger agree that without Eugene’s spay/neuter clinic to prevent the breeding of unwanted cats and dogs, the city risks dramatically increasing pet overpopulation. “Thousands of unwanted cats and dogs will wind up on the euthanasia table at LCAS” says Bartlett, “because of this heedless and stupid action.” 

AFSCME and animal advocates are encouraging people to voice their opinion on the clinic’s closure at the next City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 27. They are requesting people start signing up at 7:15 pm to speak during the 7:30 public forum at City Hall, 777 Pearl St. — Camilla Mortensen

 

OBF GOES GLOBAL

The Oregon Bach Festival heads beyond the Willamette Valley this year, with sounds from Silva Concert Hall reaching up to 400 million people across several continents.

So announced OBF Executive Director John Evans at an Oct. 21 event, where he also rolled out plans for the 2009 season and drew gasps from the supporters, Hult Center staff and media in attendance with several of his announcements. Some highlights:

• The Fest brings in Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström for a world premiere of a new version of the Messiah — and also closes the fest with a performance of the older, well-beloved Handel’s Messiah.

• Metropolitan Opera star Frederica von Stade returns to OBF after an 18-year absence.

• OBF teams up with the Eugene Ballet and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to produce Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

• The L.A. taiko group On Ensemble joins the list of Bach Fest guest artists.

Minnesota Public Radio will carry 10 concerts from the 2008 OBF, which will also be distributed by the European Broadcasting Union. 

Evans said he believes that OBF ’09, which will offer three concerts in Portland and one pre-season concert in Bend, will offer “something for all tastes” in the festival’s 40th year. “OBF continues to combine a range of musical traditions that fire the imaginations of listeners,” he added. 

More info, including a video montage of last season’s highlights, at www.oregonbachfestival.com Tix available starting Feb. 3. — Suzi Steffen

 

TRICK OR VOTE IS SUNDAY

Halloween comes a few days early this year when costumed volunteers from the Lane County chapter of the Oregon Bus Project hit the streets hoping to knock on 5,000 doors. Sunday afternoon canvassing is part of the Trick or Vote campaign to encourage voting. The event begins at 2 pm Sunday, Oct. 26, at the WOW Hall at 8th and Lincoln in Eugene. State treasurer candidate Ben Westlund will be on hand to rally canvassers, and training will be provided.

Following the neighborhood get-out-the-vote canvassing will be a party with music by Samba Ja and Fortune Cookie, free food and a costume contest. The event is cosponsored by Eugene Weekly.

The most effective way to get young people to vote is simply to ask them, face to face, according to Bus Project founder Jefferson Smith. Smith pitched the Trick or Vote concept at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August, and got a lot of attention, including public praise from columnist Jim Hightower. 

The Halloween event began in Western states in 2004 and is expected to go national this year. Smith says it’s a fun and effective way to reach young people who might be turned off by traditional canvassing or phone bank calls. The Bus Project is nonpartisan and does not tell people how to vote. 

Several Trick or Vote videos can be found on YouTube, including the much-viewed interview with “the Devil” in Denver by Katie Couric of CBS News. 

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

• Harvard law professor Lani Guinier and University of Texas­Austin law professor Gerald Torres will give a free joint public address at the UO at 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 23, at the UO Law Center, Room 175 (see interview with Guinier this week).

• Secretary of State Bill Bradbury will speak at 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 23, at BRING’s Planet Improvement Center, 4446 Franklin Blvd. in Glenwood. His topic will be “Climate Change in Oregon.” Bradbury is one of 50 individuals trained by former Vice President Al Gore and a team of scientists.  He is presenting a version of Gore’s computer-based slide show, which became the basis of his best-selling book and documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. The event is free but seating is limited. More info at www.bringrecycling.org

Canvassing and phone banking for Mayor Kitty Piercy’s reelection campaign continue this week and next. The next phone bank is from 5 to 7:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 26. Training is provided. Canvassing is from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, Oct. 25, and from 2 to 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 26, both days gathering at 1280 Willamette St.

Email jessica@kittypiercy.com or call 334-6727 to sign-up or for more information. Donations can also be made at www.kittypiercy.com

• Noted Portland trial attorney Elden Rosenthal will speak at the Civil Liberties Defense Center’s fundraiser, “Rebel Revelry: A PATRIOT Act Bash,” to be held on the seventh anniversary of the PATRIOT Act passage. The event runs 6:30 to 10 pm Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Campbell Community Center, 155 High St., in Eugene. Admission is $10 and includes a raffle ticket, food and music. The CLDC is a nonprofit organization of public interest attorneys and organizers that work to preserve the strength and vitality of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as to protect freedom of expression. 

Bob Doppelt of the UO Climate Leadership Initiative will join Bill Drumheller, senior policy analyst for the state Department of Energy, in a presentation at 4 pm Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Eugene City Council chambers. Topic will be the Western Climate Initiative and Oregon’s participation, which is on the agenda for the 2009 Legislature. 

 

ON THE WEB

At blogs.eugeneweekly.com: EW’s team of bloggers notes a mass anti-U.S. rally in Iraq; post an amusing website that illustrates a Palin presidency; post a video of Obama cracking jokes like a pro at a luncheon; cry foul at a California proposition (Prop. 8) that takes away people’s rights; recount Obama’s winning the Scholastic Kids’ Poll (which has only been wrong twice in the past 40 years); roundup downloadable mixtapes devoted to electing Obama; comment on Gordon Smith’s cozying up to the Dems for votes; and announce the launch of Eugene Weekly’s Twitter site, twitter.com/eugeneweekly

More letters to the editor can also be found online. 

 

LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE

Near Dexter Reservoir: Strata Forestry (726-0845) will backpack spray 44 acres of blackberries with Garlon (triclopyr) and Escort (metsulfuron methyl) herbicides plus Hasten (ethoxylated nonylphenol) adjuvant and for Giustina Resources Limited Partnership (485-1500) near Lost Creek Road and Dexter Reservoir tributaries between Oct. 23 and Dec. 31 (ODF # 55777). Call Marvin Vetter, stewardship forester at Eastern Lane District Office of the Oregon Department of Forestry, 726-3588.

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

 

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

The director of Huerta de la Familia tells us she has heard some EW readers were puzzled by the Oct. 9 Gardening column sub-headline, “Huerta de la Familia is a growing concern.” The pun was not intended to express alarm. 



 

 

 

 

SLANT

• The Eugene mayor’s race is neck and neck between Democrat Kitty Piercy and erstwhile Republican Jim Torrey. Here’s a look at the key Torrey rhetoric vs. reality. Torrey knows business? Torrey’s business was selling ugly highway billboards, not running a city. Torrey is a uniter? As mayor, Torrey cast more than a dozen tie votes, threatened a “train wreck” if progressives were elected and bashed his opponents on conservative talk radio. Torrey will improve government relations? Torrey is endorsed by small-town Republican and conservative mayors, but Piercy will have better relations with the Democratic state and federal representatives who can deliver millions of dollars to Eugene. Torrey will rein in the police union? Torrey opposes independent external review and would let the police union, which gave Torrey $20,000, run City Hall. 

What this really is about is the environment and livability. Piercy would protect both for all Eugene. Torrey would give Eugene to the gravel miners and developers who have invested an unprecedented half-million dollars in his campaign.   

Going postal with your voting? The ballot is heavy and the postage required this time is 59 cents. Save yourself some money by dropping off ballots at the election office or any of the official white boxes around town. We hear two people at the UO campus are collecting ballots in unofficial boxes, but we really don’t know their intentions. An official ballot box is near the campus post office.

EW’s “Endorsements at a Glance”is running again this week, and we’ve added two races. Brad Avakian gets our nod for the nonpartisan labor commissioner. Avakian was appointed to the post when Dan Gardner resigned to take a lobbying job. Avakian is a former civil rights attorney, was a capable and effective legislator, and is performing well in his new position. We are also adding Don Nordin of Cottage Grove as our favorite for House District 7, encompassing parts of Lane and Douglas counties. Nordin’s long history of community involvement and his progressive perspectives offer a refreshing change from Republican Bruce Hanna’s conservative agenda. Nordin tells us he had to laugh when he saw the R-G editorial board reject him, along with Kitty Piercy and Rob Handy. “I’m in good company,” he says.

The R-G’s RiverBend Magazine Sunday is a glossy 76-page magazine produced by PeaceHealth’s PR department in cahoots with the newspaper’s Special Publications Division, an odd marriage of convenience that blurs the line between advertising and editorial. For most readers, it’s not obvious who wrote the fluffy content. We also noticed the R-G recently advertised for an entry-level reporter while laying off half a dozen seasoned journalists. Experience is expensive.

Our mixed-message endorsement of Eugene’s street-repair Measure 20-146 has raised a few eyebrows. Last week’s news story points out the problems in the measure and our endorsement itself is tepid. One caller asked if our “yes” was a typo. The bottom line: Eugene’s street infrastructure is crumbling and delaying repairs will just make it more expensive later. $36 million is not much compared to our repair backlog estimated at $173 million. This measure is the only plan our divided City Council would agree to; and we trust the judgment of Mayor Piercy and Councilors Bettman and Taylor, who all support the measure. 

EW’s always outrageous Best of Eugene Awards Show is Friday night at the McDonald Theater, and we invite everyone who likes bad jokes, dirty tricks and local politicians to join the party. Top local musicians will rock the stage and zany presenters will include The Donkey Show guys, Ken Babbs, Walker T. Ryan, Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant and some surprise guests. It’s all a benefit for White Bird, so scrounge up 10 bucks and join the fun. Doors open at 7 pm, show begins at 8.

• Eugene police hosted a “Prevention Convention” Oct. 18, a community event featuring Sexual Assault Support Services and other nonprofit groups volunteering with police officers to provide classes on more than a dozen topics, from property crime prevention to disaster preparedness to gun safety. It was a commendable effort to educate kids and adults in how they can work with police in making our city safer; and to build trust between police and the community. But the timing of this high-profile PR event is suspect. It happened the same day most Eugeneans got their ballots, and on those ballots are two items with heavy police implications: Eugene Measure 20-146 strengthens the police auditor function; and the mayoral race pits Kitty Piercy, a strong advocate for independent police review, against Jim Torrey, who favors less police oversight. The police and their union are far from neutral on these ballot items.  



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 at eugeneweekly dot com

 

 

LURA PIERCE

Raised in Bartlesville, Okla., Lura Pierce studied English ed at Oklahoma State, then taught for three years in inner-city Louisville. “The largest junior high in the state, 90 percent black,” she says. “We learned about discrimination. It was the best thing that happened to me.” As the wife of Presbyterian minister John Pierce, she lived briefly (and had kids) in Colorado and Texas, then spent 12 years in Spokane, where she raised the kids, got a degree in journalism, and taught for nine years at a private prep school. After the family moved to Eugene in 1989, she went for a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at UO. Dr. Pierce currently teaches sixth grade in her 18th year at Shasta Middle School. “I love teaching middle school; the kids are as honest as they can be,” she says. “I’m passionate about imparting love of learning.” Last May, Pierce’s class completed a biography project on the 23 U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winners, from Teddy Roosevelt to Al Gore, with a presentation at the proposed Peace Park site in Alton Baker Park. The project earned her an award as peace educator of the year from the Nobel Peace Laureate Project. See a nine-minute video of the students’ presentation at youtube.com/user/NobelPeaceLaureate