News Briefs: ‘Greening’ of Mental Health? | Frohnmayer Has Tight Grip on Big Paycheck | Homeland Security Questions Unanswered | UO Backs Off On Conflict of Interest | Activist Alert | War Dead | Early Deadlines |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Tribute to Bonny
Retiring councilor gets a rousing send-off
Happening People: Carolyn Ulrich
‘GREENING’ OF MENTAL HEALTH?
Psychiatrists are wrestling with changes in definitions and diagnoses that will be included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The final edition will have consequences for insurance reimbursement, research and individuals’ psychological identity for years to come, according to a Dec. 18 story by Benedict Carey in The New York Times. But will the content reflect any input from millions of mental health patients?
“We definitely tried to have input and dialogue, and there was none allowed. Period,” says David Oaks, executive director of MindFreedom International, based in Eugene.
MindFreedom was founded in 1988 to advocate against forced medication, physical restraints and involuntary electroconvulsive therapy, says Oaks. Members worldwide identify themselves as survivors of human rights violations in a mental health system heavily influenced by outdated practices and pharmaceutical interests.
Oakes says Dr. Darrel A. Regier, a key figure in the new DSM, is also head of the special “research” wing of the American Psychiatric Association. APIRE, an independent component of the APA, publishes the DSM and “tends to get millions upon millions of drug company dollars.”
“Even though Dr. Regier got federal money to hold international seminars on the ‘future of psychiatric diagnosis,’ he has absolutely refused to even respond to civil inquiries from anyone outside his closed-door process,” says Oaks.
Oaks says a prominent official with the World Health Organization’s mental health section, “has twice personally asked Dr. Regier to respond to requests from MindFreedom about having mental health consumer input in the re-writing of the DSM,” and was told “no.” “So these few hundred unelected mainly rich, mainly white males are cooking up behavioral guidelines for us all, with zero input from the public who is impacted by these rules.”
MindFreedom is working to break the undemocratic domination of mental health care by the medical establishment, says Oaks. “Our issue is kind of like where energy policy was in the 1950s, totally dominated by the system. Now we’re pushing for ‘greening of mental health,’ to allow for more holistic, empowering, non-chemical approaches, and especially direct involvement by citizens in helping to plan mental and emotional well-being programs.”
The revised DSM, due out in about three years, is expected to reflect some public pressures. Early editions of the book defined homosexuality as a mental disorder. Protests by gay activists provoked a scientific review, and the diagnosis was dropped in 1973, replaced by “sexual orientation disturbance,” and then “ego-dystonic homosexuality.” Homosexuality as a disorder was dropped from the book in 1987. Some GLBTQ activists are now lobbying for similar changes regarding gender identity issues, but others are wanting to keep transgender identity as a formal diagnosis so that treatment or surgery can be covered by insurance.
The story can be found by a web search for “NYTimes DSM,” and MindFreedom International’s website is www.mindfreedom.org — Ted Taylor
FROHNMAYER HAS TIGHT GRIP ON BIG PAYCHECK
As the recession deepens, corporate executives and university presidents across the nation have volunteered deep pay cuts, but not UO President Dave Frohnmayer.
UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh wrote in an Oregonian op-ed this month that Frohnmayer’s pay package has increased 387 percent since 2000 to more than $700,000 a year.
Harbaugh points to salary surveys showing that at comparable universities, many much larger than the UO, presidents earn about a third less. Meanwhile, at the UO, average professor salaries are only 83 percent of peers.
Many university executives are now volunteering pay cuts in the face of layoffs and plummeting endowment investments. Oregon Health Sciences University executives agreed to a 20 percent cut in pay. The Washington State University president volunteered a $100,000 pay cut. The University of Florida president donated $285,000 of his pay back to the university. The president of the University of Pennsylvania gave back $100,000. The University of Louisville president gave up $113,857 in pay.
This fall Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski cancelled a 3.2 percent pay raise for state executives with the weakening economy. Fronhnmayer’s compensation package is almost five times greater than what the Oregon governor makes. —Alan Pittman
HOMELAND SECURITY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED
Months after the May 30 Tasering incident, questions about both alleged police brutality and federal spying still go unanswered. Despite repeated requests as well as official complaints, a review of the officers involved in the Tasering and the arrests at the anti-pesticide rally has yet to happen, and local activists say they have not gotten response on a federal level either.
Josh Schlossberg, who took part in the rally, says he asked Congressman Peter DeFazio’s office in July to look into Homeland Security’s involvement in the incident. According to Schlossberg, DeFazio’s office did not respond despite repeated requests into what Schlossberg calls, “the apparently routine practice of the federal government spying on law-abiding citizens.”
Schlossberg says he called and faxed DeFazio’s office repeatedly without a response for six months.
DeFazio is a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Schlossberg wants to know: What is DeFazio’s position on this kind of surveillance?
When the congressman’s office did respond to Schlossberg’s request in November, the letter he got said the office had not received Schlossberg’s requests.
According to the letter, DeFazio had contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of the Oregon ACLU, and it summarized DHS’s response letter as: “It is the mission of the FPS (Federal Protective Services) to protect federal properties, so an officer visited the demonstration to determine if the federal building would be impacted by the rally.”
The summary said that the letter from DHS “also noted the officer was permitted by federal authority and guidelines to monitor and gather information about persons engaged in a protected activity because it was for legitimate law enforcement purposes.”
Schlossberg has sent another letter again requesting DeFazio to state his position on the DHS surveillance of the rally, which was not on federal property. He also asked DeFazio to say whether he knew of the surveillance in advance and for the congressman’s office to review information it “might have access to that is relevant to federal agencies monitoring Eugene citizens.”— Camilla Mortensen
UO BACKS OFF ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST
After backlash from faculty members about the new Conflict of Interest-Conflict of Commitment (COI-C) policy hastily implemented by the UO (EW 12/4), the school has now decided to suspend the planned January 2009 implementation of the plan.
Faculty members objected not only to portions of the policy itself but to the way it was developed, without the faculty input required by state law.
The proposed COI-C policy applied to faculty, graduate students, researchers and other non-classified staff employees of the UO and demanded they report their possible conflicts of interest or commitment annually. These conflicts included anything from holding elected office to owning a business.
Faculty have expressed concern that the 14-page document seeks disclosure of not only their own activities but those of their immediate family; and that it alters the existing disclosure policy by removing an exclusion that relates to personal time. Under the current policy, outside activities not related to university duties that are undertaken during personal time are excluded from reporting. But according the FAQs, under the proposed new policy, when it comes to finances, “even if your outside activities are not related to your area of expertise, you should disclose them.”
In an email sent out to UO faculty members Dec. 12, the school said after “thoughtful and substantive comments” from faculty colleagues the process would be suspended in order to “review and address the concerns.”
The email announced that Faculty Senate President Paul van Donkelaar, “will convene a small ad hoc committee” to review the COI-C and suggest revisions to the policy so that it meets “essential legal and policy requirements with a keen sensitivity to academic freedom and the culture of a public research university.”
The UO anticipates revealing the next COI-C draft at the March 11, 2009 meeting of the Faculty Senate. — Camilla Mortensen
• Attention all eco-oriented artists! Two groups are currently looking for designs. The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) is looking for artwork for its poster and T-shirt that represents the 2009 theme: “Solidarity! United Action for the Greener Good.” The art should express the ideas of urgency, action and collaboration. PIELC is offering prize money of $200. For more details, email Andy Engel, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also try your hand at a design for the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC). The folks at CLDC are looking for a design for T-shirts and a poster reflecting CLDC’s commitment to environmental, animal rights and anarchist activists targeted in recent years by the government. The CLDC says, the design should illustrate a love of nature and living things and show respect for those who have ended up in prison and have maintained their integrity to a greater movement. Contact Lauren Regan for more information at email@example.com
• Looking past the holidays, the annual Citizens State of the City and County address is planned for noon Monday, Jan. 12, at Harris Hall, 8th and Oak in downtown Eugene. Organizers are calling the event “a grassroots initiative to highlight practical approaches to the interconnected ecological, energy and economic crises.” After that, Citizens for Public Accountability will hold its annual meeting at 7 pm Wednesday, Jan. 21 at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette. The tentative list of speakers includes Dawn Reynolds, Carol Berg-Caldwell, Tim Lewis, Bonny Bettman, Kate Wilkinson and Juan Carlos Valle. To get on CPA’s email list, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,212 U.S. troops killed* (4,209)
• 30,879 U.S. troops injured* (30,871)
• 167 U.S. military suicides* (167)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 98,218 to 1.1 million civilians killed*** (98,133)
• $581.7 billion cost of war ($579.8 billion)
• $165.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($164.9 million
* through Dec.22, 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)
Christmas and New Year’s Day both fall on Thursday, our usual publishing day, so EW is publishing a day early this week and next week. Our offices will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and close at 3 pm Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Early deadline for reserving display ads for the Dec. 31 issue will be 3 pm Wednesday, Dec. 24. Deadlines return to normal Friday, Jan. 2, for the Jan. 8 issue. Questions? Call 484-0519.
• How does Gov. Gordon sound to you? The Portland press is chattering about the possibility of Gordon Smith running for governor in two years now that he is soon to be replaced in the Senate by Jeff Merkley. Smith has not squelched the chatter as he quickly did when he was mentioned as the next president of the UO, succeeding David Frohnmayer. According to The Oregonian, Smith blames his loss mostly on George Bush, which Smith thinks will not be an issue in a state race. Maybe not, but wasn’t it Smith’s embrace of Bush’s policies that cost him his Senate seat, and won’t those still be big issues in 2010? We’ll see.
• We’re done writing letters to Santa; now let’s write letters to Obama. He’s a smart guy but he doesn’t know everything, and he’s already fumbling some of his appointments. He needs our help. We will publish as many 200-word letters to Obama as we can Jan. 15. Then we’ll bundle up copies of Eugene Weekly and mail them to the White House. The Obama transition team is waiting to hear from us! These letters will be prominently displayed in the Obama Presidential Library! Future generations will marvel at the insight, wit and wisdom of the people of Lane County! Or EW will come in handy for potty-training the First Puppy. Email your letters to email@example.com by Jan. 8.
• Imagine if Ebenezer Scrooge, after being haunted by images of deprivation, had thrown open his shutters on Christmas and donated $25,000 to the UO Athletic Department for front-row basketball seats. Not quite the same, is it? But in a depressionary time of deep need and want in this city and state with thousands going without, that’s exactly the “donation” the UO is asking from the corporate Scrooges of the state. And they are giving it. This isn’t charity, this isn’t good will to man, this is an embarrassment. Imagine if the ghost had brought Scrooge to his tombstone to find the inscription: “When the shivering, starving masses begged, he gave his alms instead for front-row basketball seats.” The horror!
• Times are tough and budgets are bleeding like New Hampshire sugar maples in March, but is it really better for Eugene in the long term if the city’s policy is to cut down big old trees, like the recently saved black walnut on 6th and Madison, instead of pruning them? It might be cheaper in the short term, but in the end, we need those trees for their shade and climate moderation, storm water control and even pollution control. It’s hard to put a price tag on the multiple benefits of old trees, but an enlightened city staff would attempt to do just that.
• It’s jolly to see the Springfield Times cranking out a decent community paper with local news and views since late November. Kudos to owner Scott Olson and Editor Craig Murphy. Murphy does most of the writing, which is common in small papers (we’ve known editors who have made up silly by-lines to add “variety” to their papers). The Times could use more writers and photographers, more letters to the editor, and of course more advertising. Lots more advertising.
Since the Springfield News died, followed by the Springfield Beacon, the R-G has been trying to pick up the slack by covering some Springfield city government and business news, and we’ve done what we can to cover more Lane County and regional issues. But Springfield really needs and deserves a homegrown paper that reflects the character of the community. Ideally this new paper will grow in its courage and coverage, and shine some light on the political machinations that go on behind closed doors.
If you can’t find a hard copy of the Times, check it out online at www.springfieldtimes.net Notice the “.net” in the web address. There are lots of Springfields in the U.S., and the .com was taken.
In the six months since she started working at the Oakway Fitness Center, Carolyn Ulrich has attracted an enthusiastic following to the “Silver and Fit” exercise program that she designed. “It’s like senior boot camp, getting people in shape for everyday tasks,” she says. “The age group is 50 to 95. We listen to a variety of music to get people moving and to have fun.” Ulrich didn’t think of herself as athletic until she took up jogging in her junior year at the University of Alabama and found herself winning races. In learning to rehabilitate herself after an injury, she became a pioneer in water exercise, developed a water aerobics program for the city of Columbia, Md., and took a degree in exercise physiology from the University of Massachusetts. In 2001, a year after she arrived in Eugene, she was severely injured and partially paralyzed in a car accident. After multiple surgeries and years of recovery, she resumed her teaching of water aerobics at the Downtown Athletic Club in 2004. “I got so much support from members and staff,” says Ulrich, who left the club earlier this year when it cut most of its programs for seniors. “I still can’t work full-time, but I love teaching seniors. They’re different from other age groups, less egocentric. They’re looking for socialization and help in overcoming things.”