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Eugene Weekly : News : 4.23.09





News Briefs:
Country Club Police Station | Discharged Vet Won't Go Back | Thermal Imaging Takes Heat | New Legal Service Available | Blessing the Water | Twenty Years at Lost Valley | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

 




Country Club Police Station

Eugene voters have voted against spending taxpayer money on a new police station three times. But City Manager Jon Ruiz now wants to bypass voters by spending more than $16 million in city reserves on a new police building across from the Eugene Country Club.

The manager’s move to defy voters comes as the city is raising taxes and slashing services to citizens to close a widening, $12 million budget deficit caused by the recession. Ruiz wrote in a memo to the City Council that the city should buy an isolated office building at 300 Country Club Road surrounded by surface parking lots from a real estate speculator for $16 million and move all of the Eugene Police Department across the river to north Eugene. 

As EW went to press, Ruiz was asking the council to vote on his proposal Wednesday, April 21, without a public hearing.

The move represents a dramatic departure from longstanding city policy against urban sprawl and for supporting downtown and keeping it safe with a police headquarters presence. Crime maps show that most police calls are for south of the river in the city core, not in the suburbs. Ruiz came to Eugene last year from an assistant city manager job in Fresno, Calif., infamous for some of the worst urban sprawl in the world.

New offices, particularly free of downtown employee parking fees, are a top priority of city staff, but polls have shown taxpayers continue to oppose the expenditure. 

Critics have said moving police to their own building distant from City Hall will increase their us-ves.-them isolation from city government and make them harder to supervise. EPD officer and convicted rapist Roger Magaña committed many of his sex abuse crimes while operating in a special unit headquartered outside City Hall.

Ruiz and his staff have argued that the current City Hall could collapse in an earthquake, but most officers are only in the building on shift changes, cars could be moved to an adjacent surface lot, studies have shown the building could be seismically retrofitted for a few million dollars and the city has shown little interest in protecting schools and other higher risk buildings that could also collapse.  — Alan Pittman

 

Discharged Vet Won't Go Back

In the spring of 2007 Benjamin Lewis was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after serving two tours of combat duty in Iraq during his four years of active military service. After being discharged he moved to Corvallis and enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College.

Benjamin Lewis

In October 2008 Lewis received word that he was being called back to active duty. Enlistment in the military is a six-year commitment, including inactive reserves. He was told to report to Camp Pendleton on May 18. He is refusing to go.

Instead of preparing to report to Camp Pendleton, he decided to begin a tour of Oregon to speak out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Monday, April 27, Lewis’ tour will bring him to Cozmic Pizza. In an event sponsored by Community Alliance of Lane County, Committee for Countering Military Recruitment and WAND, Lewis will tell the story of his experiences as a Marine in Iraq and how he came to the decision to refuse to return.

The event begins at 5:30 pm. Audience members between 14 and 18 years old can get a free slice of pizza. — Topher Vollmer

 

Thermal Imaging Takes Heat

Imposter. That is what Oregon Attorney General John Kroger called the Laser and Thermal Imaging Center in Medford before shutting it down April 3. The clinic specialized in an alternative form of breast cancer detection called breast thermography, which uses digital infrared imaging to detect the presence of possible cancerous tissues in the breasts. Kroger’s office claims that the clinic, which was run by Mary Anne Crandall and her husband, Tom, misrepresented the effectiveness of the experimental technique to the detriment of the clinic’s patients.

One person coming to the defense of the breast thermography procedure, and the Crandalls, is Ingrid Edstrom. Edstrom, who runs a clinic in Eugene, is now the only remaining operator of a breast thermography clinic in the state. “There should be more infrared cameras in Oregon and nationally, not fewer,” she says. “Neither of us have done anything wrong, and I do not see infrared as being ‘dangerous and a threat to the public health of the women of Oregon.’”

According to breastthermography.com, in areas where cancerous or pre-cancerous tissue forms there is often an increase in metabolic activity and circulation as the cancerous tissues search for more nutrients. This activity generates an increased surface temperature, which the sensitive infrared technology can pick up on. Proponents of the procedure say that it eliminates the use of radiation, and they claim that it can detect cancerous tissues earlier then traditional mammograms. 

The Department of Justice (DoJ) disputes the procedure’s effectiveness, especially if it is not used in correlation with traditional procedures. 

“Our concern was that the clinic was claiming that its thermography equipment could detect the presence of breast cancer 7-10 years before other diagnostic procedures, including mammography, and medical studies that we reviewed have repudiated thermography as a stand-alone breast cancer detector,” DoJ spokesperson Tony Green says. 

“Neither Mary Anne nor I have ever said this was a stand-alone technology,” Edstrom says. “There were two disgruntled cold laser patients of hers, of the 1,200 patients total in the four and a half years they have been in business, who made a complaint and both had previously been refunded their money before all this blew up,” she says.  — Topher Vollmer

 

New Legal Service Available

A lack of affordable legal services in Lane County has inspired local attorney Billie Tarascio to create an independent legal clinic that has so far served more than 100 clients. Most do not qualify for legal aid, but cannot afford the fees of most law offices.

Billie Tarascio

The Ridgewood Group, LLC, provides pay-as-you-go legal services at $80 an hour at 202 Oakway Center Drive in Eugene. The group’s website is www.ridgewoodgroup.us

“I opened this clinic model in November 2008 after practicing exclusively family law,” says Tarascio. “I found there is a huge need for access to legal services in low to moderate income individuals that has been identified since at least 2000. Despite that, attorneys have not responded to this demand.”

Services offered include personalized legal consulting, assistance with paperwork, trial preparation, settlement negotiations, legal research and more.

Tarascio says examples of her clients include a professional man going through both bankruptcy and a divorce; a married couple seeking help in adopting a stepchild; and a divorced couple who are struggling with paperwork in modifying an uncontested custody and child support agreement. 

“I think there has always been a large segment of the population who didn’t qualify for legal aid but could not afford traditional attorneys,” she says. “Now, more than ever, the legal profession must adapt to meet the needs of a changing society. With this model, clients have a greater deal of both control and responsibility.”

Tarascio is currently providing all the legal services, but she says two other attorneys are positioned to take clients as soon as demand increases. One is Pete Schannauer, a general practice attorney, and the other is Ann Kneeland, who is currently in private practice but has legal aid experience including domestic violence counseling. — Ted Taylor

 

Blessing the Water

Grandma Aggie

Takilma-Siletz spiritual elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim, aka Grandma Aggie, will join the Willamette Valley Grandmothers’ Council for a celebration and blessing of the Willamette River at 2:30 pm Sunday, April 26, at EWEB Plaza along the Willamette River. The free event is open to people of all ages. 

Pilgrim is the oldest living female member of the Takelma Band of Rogue River Indians, originally from southern Oregon, She was chosen by her tribe as a “living legend” and travels worldwide, says Sue Supriano, who interviewed Pilgrim for her web-based radio series at www.suesupriano.com 

“Agnes is an ambassador for our Mother Earth. She is a spiritual elder of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and granddaughter of Chief George Harney, the first elected chief of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz,” says Supriano. “She is a world-renowned spiritual leader, elder mentor to the Native American Student Union of Southern Oregon University, and keeper of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony.”

Pilgrim is also chair of the International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, and she is expected to make an announcement at the Sunday event regarding an upcoming visit to Oregon this summer by the global organization. 

“We grandmothers are speaking out, singing out, praying out to enact and teach right relationship with our sacred and precious river water,” she says on her website, www.agnesbakerpilgrim.orgTed Taylor

 

Twenty Years at Lost Valley

This year marks the 20-year anniversary for Lost Valley Education Center, a Dexter community dedicated to teaching permaculture and living in a sustainable environment. “Lost Valley has been teaching people about sustainable living basically since the beginning of its time,” says James Cunningham, the volunteer development coordinator. “The first permaculture course in Oregon was held in Lost Valley in 1990,” he says.

Since then, Lost Valley has seen nearly 2,500 people participate in the residential programs that tackle both ethical and practical issues regarding permaculture and sustainability. “There is that need as we move forward to bring our relationships back to a human-based level,” says Cunningham. 

The anniversary celebration will take place during three event weekends beginning on May 1, July 31, and Sept. 18. “We wanted to have a number of opportunities for people to come,” Cunningham explained. The weekend in May will be focused on celebrating the past students and interns who worked at the education center, and the July/August weekend will honor people who have lived at Lost Valley. The final weekend is a birthday party and founder’s day.

Cunningham emphasized that the theme of all the anniversary celebrations will be, “Come back, enjoy, and if you haven’t been there, come out, enjoy.” He says Lost Valley is planning both education and fun, with an emphasis on tying community to the land. 

“Lane County is really one of the hot beds of sustainability education,” says John Botti, the executive director of Lost Valley. “We’re going to need practical ways of coping with changes and continuing to maintain some sort of quality of life during the hard times.” Lost Valley, its proponents say, is a viable model for sustainable living education.

Cunningham calls the center’s educational programs personal and hands-on. Over time, “It has moved from a theoretical and political and economical issue to a practical life issue for people,” which he attributes to changing economic and political climates. 

Looking ahead, Botti says, “We are adding more shorter term programs for developing skills further,” enabling those who may not have the time to commit to longer courses to still learn about permaculture and sustainable living. “There is a place for people to come and learn.” — Sam Marx

Activist Alert

• Author and NPR foreign correspondent Reese Erlich will be speaking about Cuba and the Middle East beginning at 1 pm Thursday, April 23, at LCC Building 17, Room 309. That evening at 7 he speaks at Harris Hall, 8th and Oak. He speaks in Corvallis at noon Friday in OSU’s Waldo Hall, Room 201. He’s back at the UO at 2:30 pm Saturday, April 25, in the EMU River Room at the Environmental Justice Conference. That evening at 7 he will be at the Siuslaw Public Library. At noon Sunday, April 26, he will be at the Newport Public Library. For more information, email dzupan@msn.com

• The 14th annual Coalition Against Environmental Racism’s Environmental Justice Conference begins at 9:30 am Saturday, April 25 at the UO EMU River Room. See www.uoregon.edu/~caer for the schedule. Speakers, panelists and performers include Ben Duncan, Louise Benally, members of Huerto de la Familia, Reese Erlich and Ariel Luckey. Evening keynoter at 7 is Dr. Benjamin Chavis Muhammed. The event continues with Sunday morning volunteering at a local community garden.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski and Rep. Bruce Hanna will host a town hall at the Cottage Grove City Hall at 1:30 pm Saturday, April 25. They will be joined by Rep. Paul Holvey and will be available to answer questions and will provide updates about the on-going 2009 legislative session.

 

War Dead

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):

• 4,274 U.S. troops killed* (4,273)

• 31,193 U.S. troops injured* (31,169) 

• 177 U.S. military suicides* (176)

• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed

(accurate updates NA)

• 99,861 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (99,774)

• $661.7 billion cost of war ($613.1 billion) 

• $188.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($174.4 million)

* through April 20, 2009; 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)

 

Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule

ODOT will start April 20 spraying state highways during the nighttime on Highway 99 North, I-5 Beltline and I-105, and then the week of April 27 Highway 126 East, 58, 99 South and 222 (Springfield-Creswell). Call Don Angermayer at 744-8080 and/or call Herbicide Application (888) 996-8080.

Gypsy moth spraying (southeast Eugene): The tentative spray dates are April 28, May 7 and May 19.

Chemically sensitive? If ODOT herbicide or Oregon Department of Agriculture's insecticide spraying will disparately harm you because of disability, contact Forestland Dwellers at 342-8332.

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

 

 

 

SLANT

The trial of Taser victim Ian Van Ornum is over, except of course for the sentencing Friday, a likely civil suit against the city and Eugene Police Department, and the now unfettered investigation by EPD Internal Affairs, the police auditor and Civilian Review Board. The Register-Guard’s report April 18 about jury members being shocked and disturbed by police behavior does not bode well for the police in the next couple of rounds.

Taxpayers will also hold the police and district attorney accountable. Remember all the cries that the DA and cops couldn’t keep dangerous felons off the street without massive tax increase? Well, they just spent countless hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting a mouthy jaywalker.  

We’re still amazed that the EPD and district attorney even allowed this case to go to trial. The charges should have been dropped. Were they so clueless as to not know what the public would get to see in the video recordings and hear in the damaging testimony? Once again we are reminded of how out of touch some of our police officers are with the people they are paid to protect and serve. This has been a wrenching experience (in more ways than one) for Van Ornum, but his courage and willingness to go to court have served the public interest.

• Also serving the public interest was KVAL-TV’s work to get a video camera in the courtroom as a “pool” for all the local media to use. News anchor and reporter Denae D’Arcy did her research and discovered that Oregon law allows cameras in courtrooms unless judges “set forth substantial reasons for the denial.” Even when backed by state law and an Oregon Supreme Court decision favoring cameras in the courtroom, D’Arcy and the KVAL newsroom still endured a long, dragged-out struggle. ”In my experience of fighting this, they don’t want us there,” she told a gathering of media people during the trial. “I don’t think our battle is against each other. It’s against the courts.”

The media meeting at KVAL April 16 was an attempt to hash out problems EW and other media had in getting video from KVAL in a timely manner. Judge Jack Billings had agreed to the video camera access April 6 with a number of provisions, including “KVAL is expected to make the video available to any media which requests it.” Sounds simple enough, but it soon got complicated, and even the court staff got involved, finally asking the squabbling media to work it out among themselves. More meetings are planned to avoid technical and policy problems with future pool coverage.

Moving the police out of downtown to a suburban office building across from the Country Club in north Eugene is a very bad idea. The radical departure from previous city planning will defy the will of the voters who have thumbed down the police station three times and continue to oppose it in recent polls. It will blow at least $16 million of city reserves at a time the city is raising taxes and slashing services to deal with huge deficits in a recession bordering on depression. It will isolate police desperately in need of closer supervision and contact to reduce their us-vs.-them mentality. It will hurt the struggling downtown by moving employees and visitors to an inconvenient location across the river while reducing the police presence in the heart of the city.

• Springfield is blowing millions of dollars of taxpayer money on a huge jail it can’t afford to run. We’ve seen this before: A decade ago, the county built a huge new kid jail across from Autzen but only has enough money to operate part of it. Meanwhile, struggling taxpayers are left holding the bag on the millions of dollars in bond payments, plus interest. The tough-on-crime crowd is big on bluster but small on the taxes to pay for it. Rather than locking up taxes, a better cheaper approach is youth programs and mental, drug and alcohol treatment. 

• Oregon now has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. Why? Oregon has showered some of the largest tax breaks in the nation on big corporations for more than a decade. This policy is a demonstrated failure. Our unemployment rate now couldn’t be much higher. Politicians who were quick to claim credit for corporate relocations that would have happened anyway should now step forward and take responsibility for the wasted taxpayer subsidies and job losses.



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