News Briefs: UO Squelches Faculty? | Hate Speach Legalities | Party Hearty Downtown Friday Night | Committee Forming on New Rules for Auditor | Kids' Mag Turns 20 | Last Chance to Weigh In on WOPR | Activist Alert | War Dead | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Eco-activist sent to secretive new prison
President landslide helped Piercy
Happening People: Mike Hackney
UO SQUELCHES FACULTY?
Does a new UO policy threaten to harm academic freedom? Faculty were taken by surprise on Monday, the start of the last week of classes, when they received an email from Human Resources informing them of new requirements for Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment (COI-C) issues.
|Kyo Ho Youm|
Some faculty members object to the policy itself, which monitors their activities outside of the UO, and others disagree with the way the policy was implemented, circumventing faculty governance, they say.
Kyo Ho Youm, a professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, is one of the faculty members concerned with the new policy and its implementation. “It is not just the substance, it’s the procedure,” he says. “It raises a lot of questions about the proper role of faculty governance in the UO system.”
The 18-page draft of the new COI-C policy says that UO faculty, part-time instructors, graduate teaching or research fellows and other paid employees of the UO that are not classified staff must report annually their possible conflicts of interest or commitment.
These possible conflicts include getting a salary from another source, owning a business or having a “significant relationship” with an outside entity. According to the draft COI-C document, an outside entity can include anything from a nonprofit to a business to an outside agency. The policy also demands a faculty member report if he or she holds an elected office.
According to the document, the policy is intended to keep UO students from being deprived of the faculty’s intellectual energies, avoid “inappropriate use of faculty resources” and to keep students and others from being exploited by a faculty member’s outside obligations. But UO professors are wondering if the new policy goes too far.
Though the UO’s faculty governance was recently called into question (see EW 11/20), Oregon state law says the UO is to be run by the faculty and the president. The new COI-C policy was disclosed to the University Senate during its Nov. 12 meeting, but it was not developed and approved by the faculty or its Senate before the email was sent out implementing the policy
Youm says the policy operates on the “suspicion that faculty members are doing something off-campus that is violating the law.” He calls the policy “ill advised” and says that it is an issue of academic freedom.
Youm, who has been a professor at several other universities, says that when he joined the UO as an endowed First Amendment scholar, he didn't expect this kind of thing to be dumped on him. — Camilla Mortensen
Hate Speech Legalities
The Eugene City Council is considering strengthening laws against hate speech, but its legal options are limited.
Free speech protections, difficulties in enforcing civil judgments, and limits to city jurisdiction make it tough to stop hate speech.
The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in August that a state statute against verbal harassment without a threat of violence was an unconstitutional violation of free speech. The ruling also made an identical provision in Eugene code unenforceable.
City Attorney Jerry Lidz explained in a memo to the council that the ruling held that “the state may not criminalize speech, even if it is intended and likely to produce violence, unless the violence is imminent.”
To remedy the issue, the city could change its ordinance to add the word “imminent,” Lidz wrote. Or it could wait and see if the Legislature similarly fixes the state law.
Other legal options against hate speech include enhancing private lawsuits, creating the crime of Intimidation III and enhancing penalties, according to Lidz.
The state already allows civil lawsuits for hate speech. But the city could add a provision allowing a successful plaintiff to collect attorney fees. The state allows only compensatory damages, not higher punitive damages in such lawsuits.
The city and state already have Intimidation II laws that prohibit threats to inflict “serious” physical harm because of race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. The city could add a lesser misdemeanor offense that removes the word “serious.”
The council could also increase penalties for crimes if they have a hate element. But the municipal court only has jurisdiction over misdemeanors, and punishment may not exceed one year in jail and $6,250 fine, according to Lidz.
The council voted Nov. 26 to pursue amending its harassment ordinance to add the word imminent and to create the new offense of Intimidation III. — Alan Pittman
PARTY HEARTY DOWNTOWN FRIDAY NIGHT
Celebrities get special privileges when it comes to shopping. Time of day and hours of operation mean nothing to these famously inclined individuals. But once a year we normal folk get to feel like we’re paparazzi-worthy too, by attending the Downtown Holiday Party. For one day only, participating downtown boutiques extend their hours and spoil Eugeneans with tasty treats and local beats, and unlike celebs who have to pay a hefty price for their special attention, we get it all for free.
The Downtown Holiday Party began five years ago as the brainchild of local downtown shop owners. Their plan was to combine all of their holiday parties into one fun night.
“Other shop owners and I got together and formed the Downtown Merchant Association, and from that group we came up with the idea to throw a large holiday party all together that stems off of the First Friday Art Walk,” says Aimee Allen, owner of LetterHead. “It is a huge event for all of us and it just gets bigger every year.”
The party is always held on the first Friday in December, and businesses usually see a large influx of people. The shops will stay open extended hours this Friday — usually until 8 or 9 pm — to allow people to shop and enjoy a large array of entertainment and edibles.
“Some of the businesses hire a band to play or have a trunk show, but our thing at LetterHead is lots of food and lots of wine,” Allen says. “We think of this event as a customer appreciation party and a chance to have a lot of fun.”
Harlequin Beads & Jewelry will have The Green Mountain Bluegrass Band as their entertainment for the night, shop manager Stacy Bierma says. Harlequin has been participating in the downtown party since its creation.
“It is really neat because even though it is technically one large holiday party involving several businesses, each shop showcases their own unique thing, and it really individualizes it,” Bierma says.
More than 20 businesses are participating in this year’s event, and shops usually see at minimum of 400 people weave in and out of their doors throughout the night, according to Allen. Marché Provisions in the Fifth Street Public Market decided to jump on the holiday bandwagon this year will and stay open late Friday, along with Hartwick’s and several others.
A Marché representative says that after seeing the success of their neighbors, the store decided to participate this year with discounts on many products.
“The other participating merchants and I always get together a week after the party to discuss how it went, and there is always really positive feedback,” says Allen. “Merchants get lots of exposure and see a bunch of new customers come into their shops. People discover businesses that they never knew existed. It is one of our favorite times of the year.”
The Downtown Holiday Party begins around 5:30 pm Friday, Dec. 5, and runs along East Broadway, Oak, Willamette and 8th Avenue and at Fifth Street Public Market.— Deanna Uutela
COMMITTEE FORMING ON NEW RULES FOR AUDITOR
More people are still to be named to the ad-hoc committee that will look at proposals for police auditor rules, but so far the list includes a mix of people who have both supported and objected to the concept of independent police review.
Mayor Kitty Piercy, in an email response to a concerned citizen, Ethan Perkins, said this week that the committee “is a bit broader than folks are led to believe.” She said members will include Joe Alsup and John Ahlen from the Police Commission; Rich Brissenden and Norton Cabell from the Citizen Review Board; Angie Sifuentes and Ron Chase from Citizens United for Better Policing; and City Councilors Alan Zelenka and Chris Pryor.
The mayor wrote she will also serve on the committee, along with Auditor Dawn Reynolds, someone from the legal staff, Interim Police Chief Pete Kerns, and two police officers. “I have two more community members to appoint and one of those is Claire Syrette from ACLU who lives in Whiteaker,” she wrote. “You can see that this committee is loaded with STRONG supporters of the auditor system. Their only job is to implement the charter.”
Councilor Andrea Ortiz and the mayor have been criticized by Councilor Bonny Bettman for delaying the implementation of rules Bettman wrote to provide better access for the auditor, and for including police officers in the rule-making process. “This is an ominous regression more worthy of a Jim Torrey-led council than a Piercy mayorship,” Bettman said.
Piercy wrote that after the election, “Councilor Bettman came in with her list of what ordinance amendments she thought were warranted. She wanted an up or down vote. We moved it to a work session for real consideration. In the meantime we heard from the CRB and the Police Commission and scores of other folks who support the auditor and the Charter amendment but wanted a more inclusive process. In particular the CRB and the Police Commission requested to be part of it. The auditor supported this more inclusive process. A couple more months is not long to get this done.”
The committee will make its recommendations to the council in March. — Ted Taylor
KIDS’ MAG TURNS 20
The Eugene nonprofit Skipping Stones magazine has just completed the 20th year of publishing its “global forum for youth,” according to founder Arun Toké. The colorful international bimonthly publication encourages cooperation, creativity and a celebration of cultural and ecological richness. “In each issue, we nurture diverse perspectives and experiences,” says Toké.
The public is invited to a free celebration beginning at 6 pm Saturday, Dec. 6,. at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 1233 Charnelton in Eugene. The evening begins with classical music, poetry and storytelling, followed by some words from Mayor Kitty Piercy.
Earlier this year, Skipping Stones received the Children’s Publication Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education.
Skipping Stones has educational programs as well. The magazine recommends multicultural and nature books for children and youth in its Honor Awards program. The magazine also gives awards to youth ages 7 to 17 for exceptional writing and artistic abilities. The organization also handles donations of reading materials to schools, libraries and low-income families.
See www.skippingstones.org for more information.
LAST CHANCE TO WEIGH IN ON WOPR
Dec. 8 is the deadline for the public to give input into what to do about the Bush administration’s Western Oregon Plan Revision. The WOPR would enable the BLM to increase logging by more than 400 percent on more than one million acres of public forest land.
Forest activists claim the WOPR would create as much CO2 as one million cars driven for 132 years; degrade water quality throughout western Oregon, including Eugene; reduce biodiversity in our forests; and damage Oregon’s fishing and recreational industries.
Technically, the official public record on testimony has only been extended for people who have already testified on an earlier draft of the WOPR, but anyone can express opinions to the governor and other elected officials who will make the final decisions. Gov. Kulongoski’s Citizens’ Message Line is (503) 378-4582 and email can be sent via www.oregon.gov (click first on “Governor’s Office” and second on “Contact us”).
Congressman DeFazio’s local office can be reached at 465-6732 and Sen. Ron Wyden can be reached at (503) 326-7525. For more information on the WOPR, visit lanecpa.org/cpa
• Listen to music and help out a political prisoner at the Benefit for Daniel McGowan, from 8 to 11 pm Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Morning Glory Café, 4th and Willamette, $3-5 suggested donation, featuring folk/old-time/acoustic musicians: The Underscore Orkestra, Brenna Sahatjian and the McKenzie Riverboys.
• Buy local, stop the WOPR and support local enviros at the Cascadia Wildlands Project’s Wild Wonderland Auction at 6 pm Saturday, Dec. 6, at the UO’s EMU Ballroom. Food and beverages from local businesses, live jazz and lots of cool gifts to bid on including local jewelry, vacations to Alaska and an autographed copy of Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope.
• The Community Coalition for Advancement of Human Rights will host a free public gathering beginning at 5:30 pm Wednesday, Dec. 10, at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, 510 W. 14th Ave. The event celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Human Rights Start at Home.” The 5:30 pm social time with refreshments will be followed by a 6 to 8:30 program with music, speakers and community dialogue. Contact the Eugene Human Rights Program at 682-5177.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,207 U.S. troops killed* (4,204)
• 30,840 U.S. troops injured* (30,832)
• 167 U.S. military suicides* (167)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 97,672 to 1.1 million civilians killed*** (97,337)
• $575.9 billion cost of war ($573.9 billion)
• $163.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($163.2 million)
* through Dec. 1, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.1 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
Last week’s Gift Guide pull-out section in EW included a blurb on page 3 about Baby Rocks Mohawks. Amy Clancy is one of the founders, but we failed to mention the other founder, Maiya Becker. Their fun collection of unique hats and other apparel for kids and adults can be found at Holiday Market at the Fairgrounds weekends and the days leading up to Christmas.
• Last week’s EW was all about buying local products and services. With that in mind, it was disturbing to hear about the Black Friday stampede at a New York Wal-Mart that trampled a worker to death, and injured others. Wal-Mart apparently encourages stampedes for its aisles of imported gadgets, toys and clothing. A sign outside the smashed doors said “The blitz starts here.” A buy-local campaign is a stark contrast to a Wal-Mart blitz. It’s like comparing singing to farting.
We checked in with a few local merchants and Holiday Market booths over the long Thanksgiving weekend and, despite worries about the economy, we heard a bit of cautious optimism. Sales are slow but decent. No stampedes. Everyone’s looking for and finding bargains. Profit margins will be lower this year, but hopefully the volume will increase enough before and after Christmas to make up the difference.
Let’s keep in mind that dollars spent in locally owned stores and on local services keep circulating in the community, providing jobs and stabilizing the local economy.
• Why do we fear socialism? It’s just one step away from communism, right? Well, hard-core, Chinese-style communism is evolving toward capitalism; and U.S-style capitalism is evolving toward European-style socialism. It’s a matter of practicality. Authoritarian communism with its restraints on enterprise doesn’t work well in today’s global economy, and neither does laissez-faire capitalism, which is prone to greed and corruption. The challenge is to forget simplistic labels and figure out what systems of governance will work best for us in the rapidly changing next few decades. We can clearly see what doesn’t work.
Our health care system is in serious need of repair. Millions are uninsured and not getting proper care. Primary care physicians are leaving their practices to become specialists. Doctors are ordering excessive diagnostic tests to cover their legal butts. Insurance company executives are making billions by investing premiums and denying claims. The power of the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies is out of control. We have a shortage of nurses, but nursing schools are expensive and difficult to get into. Excessive health insurance premiums are dragging down our auto industry and other manufacturing. And despite trillions of dollars spent on health care, the U.S. is ranked 37th among developed nations in longevity, infant mortality, cancer rates and other health indicators.
Paul Hochfeld, MD, and John Frohnmeyer spoke to City Club about these issues Nov. 14. The two are advocating single-payer health insurance. Our bloated and inefficient health insurance industry needs to be dismantled, says Hochfeld, and the sooner the better. He predicts single-payer insurance is coming within 50 years. “The question,” he says, “is how quickly can we get there?”
Reforms are being debated on the national level with the election of Obama, and Sen. Ron Wyden’s plan is getting fresh attention. But Wyden’s plan maintains private health insurance. “Wyden is convinced that we don’t want or won’t accept single-payer health insurance,” says Hochfeld, but the ER doctor cites recent surveys that show 90 percent of Americans are willing to flush private health insurance down the toilet.
Are we really talking about socialism? Ignoring the latest bail-out proposals, we already provide public funding for education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ health care, State Children’s Health Insurance Plan, the Oregon Health Plan, the Lane County Health Department and other programs and services that define us as a caring, forward-thinking society. It’s time to take the next logical step. There’s nothing un-American about cost-efficiency, innovation and justice.
• Speaking of cost-efficiency and innovation in medical care, are there any doctors or other health care providers in Lane County who enable email access for patients? Most doctors don’t like phone calls from patients — no money to be made and phone conversations can be difficult to document on patient records. Nurses don’t always have the answers. A small charge for an email exchange with a doctor might make sense in light of today’s high co-pays for face-to-face consultations. Will insurance companies reimburse? What are the pitfalls? Tell us what you know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
• New to EW this week is David Wagner’s “It’s About Time,” a small monthly feature in our Calendar section about what’s happening this time of the year in the local natural world. Wagner is a botanist who has worked in Eugene for more than 30 years. Every year he creates the Willamette Valley Nature Calendar, available this month at Down to Earth and the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
As early as high school in Santa Barbara, Mike Hackney began to specialize in languages, taking French, Spanish and German. “It was an excellent high school,” he notes, “and I was so bad at math and science.” After a 28-month tour of duty with the Navy in Japan, Hackney continued his education back in his home town, earning a BA, an MA, and a teaching credential at UCSB, with a major in history and a minor in Japanese. He taught both history and Japanese at high schools in Palo Alto while studying Japanese and Chinese at Stanford, and eventually landed a master’s in Japanese. Towards the end of a 23-year career as a translator on the East Coast, Hackney used his vacation time to work on a BA in ancient studies at the University of Maryland. “I studied Latin, Greek and Biblical Hebrew,” he says. “I tutored kids in Latin while I was in school.” Looking to return to the West Coast after retirement, he settled on Eugene (“a university town with the cultural attributes of a big city”) and relocated here in 2001. “I got into a Norwegian class in ‘01,” he says. “So far, I’ve had one year each of Norwegian, Finnish and Danish, two years of Swedish and four trimesters of Korean. This year I’m studying Portuguese.”