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Eugene Weekly : News : 5.14.09





News Briefs:
Police Want More Shockers; Citizens to meet on Tasers | Council Backs Developer Subsidies;Vote Foreshadows UGB Expansion | Two-Wheeled Procession | Hemp Bill in Salem | Country Fair is July 10-12 | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/ Clarifications |

Slant: Election Endorsements

News:

Fleeing Downtown


Council sends a message with relocation plans

News:

How They Differ


Comparing 4J and LCC board candidates

Happening People: Maggie Minnich


Police Want More Shockers; Citizens to meet on Tasers

After giving its “Officer of the Year” award to a policeman who repeatedly Tasered a pesticide protester in the back while he lay face down with his arms pinned or behind him, the Eugene Police Department (EPD) wants to dramatically expand its use of the too-often deadly, 50,000-volt weapons.

Right now about half of EPD’s patrol officers carry the weapon that has been linked to at least 70 deaths and hundreds of lawsuits and complaints of police abuse nationwide. The police want all patrol officers to carry Tasers.

The EPD claims that Tasers save lives. But independent studies have found that rather than being used in threatening situations as a substitute for deadly force, the dangerous shock weapons are far more often used against unthreatening minor offenders. A 2004 investigation by The Denver Post found that most Taser victims were not threatening and that most faced misdemeanor charges or a ticket.

Eugene police decided to arrest and Taser anti-pesticide protester Ian Van Ornum last spring rather than handing him a ticket for the misdemeanor of slowing traffic. The Tasering of Van Ornum in the back was caught on police video. 

Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on the use of Tasers. If police departments refuse, the human rights group has called on strictly limiting their use to clear cases of an “immediate threat of death or serious injury.”

Two local citizen groups, Citizens for Public Accountability and Communities for Ethical Law Enforcement, have organized a meeting to discuss Tasers at 7 pm Thursday, May 21, at EWEB. The groups say the police have refused an invitation to attend. For more information, call 337-3229. — Alan Pittman

Council Backs Developer Subsidies;Vote Foreshadows UGB Expansion

In what may foreshadow a future vote on expanding the city’s urban growth boundary to allow more sprawl at taxpayer expense, the Eugene City Council voted 5-3 to support a state bill that subsidizes edge development.

Councilors who voted in favor of the sprawl subsidy at a time the state is slashing school days and increasing class sizes included Andrea Ortiz, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling, Mike Clark and Chris Pryor. Councilors Alan Zelenka, Betty Taylor and George Brown opposed the measure. Mayor Kitty Piercy did not take a position.  

Senate Bill 719 would divert $50 million in state lottery revenue from schools, social services and other pressing state needs to instead create a revolving loan fund for UGB expansions. The zero interest loans would be provided to local governments for infrastructure to subsidize urban sprawl. By existing state law, the finance savings would apparently have to be passed on to developers in lower systems development fees. No such subsidized zero interest loans exist for more environmentally friendly and livable compact development in city downtowns.

With the council’s vote, the city will now spend taxpayer money to lobby for a taxpayer subsidy of urban sprawl. That’s a reversal of a longstanding city growth management policy calling for no taxpayer subsidy of expansion. The council is now studying a local urban growth boundary expansion with key votes coming later this year. 

Land speculators and developers could make huge profits from a UGB expansion while taxpayers would be forced to pay for extending roads, sewers, schools, police and fire protection and other services to development that destroys natural areas, increases traffic pollution and reduces livability.

“This seems very premature,” said Councilor George Brown of the vote. “This is setting the table for a feast that has yet to occur.”

But Councilor George Poling called the subsidy a “valuable tool.”

Councilor Zelenka pointed at the state’s huge budget shortfall. “Where would this money come from?” — Alan Pittman

Two-Wheeled Procession

Eugene will join communities around the world in holding the annual Ride of Silence at 6:30 pm Wednesday, May 20, beginning at the EMU Amphitheater at the UO. The ride “honors the memory of bicyclists who have been killed or seriously injured by motor vehicles and also to promote the concept that all road users, bicyclists, walkers, runners and drivers must share the road and take responsibility for safety,” according to Richard Hughes, one of the organizers.

The short, slow-paced ride is open to cyclists of all ages and abilities. “It is neither a race nor a party,” says Hughes. “Its character will be more like a funeral procession as cyclists who have died are remembered.”

Riders are encouraged to wear armbands — black in memory of a cyclist who has been killed, or red to indicate that the rider has been injured — as they pedal in single-file through the streets of Eugene.

The route will go along 13th and 18th Avenues, Willamette Street and 5th Avenue and will end at EWEB Plaza. Helmets are required.

For more information, visit www.rideofsilence.com or  www.eugenegears.org 

 

Hemp Bill in Salem

A proposed Oregon Senate bill would allow production and possession of industrial hemp in the state.

Sen. Dave Nelson (R-Pendleton) and Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) are sponsors of Senate Bill 676, which would commercialize hemp as a viable alternative trade crop. The bill authorizes the Oregon Department of Agriculture to license and inspect permitted growers and handlers. This is the first such bill to make it out of committee.

Only cannabis sativa plants distinct from the cultivation of marijuana can grow; any crop found to exceed 1 percent dry weight tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration may be seized and the farmer penalized. Any counterfeit or controlled substances are strictly forbidden.

All growers and handlers must obtain an industrial hemp license and keep records susceptible to audit.

Hemp production would result in licensing and service fees, as well as a new economic industry for the state. The plant can create cordage, textiles, paper and composite wood. In a 1998 bulletin, Oregon State University noted hemp’s economic feasibility for high potential yields but said crops would require substantial irrigation and innovation in harvesting equipment.

Since 1997, five hemp farming bills have died in Senate and House committees. Other states such as Minnesota, New Hampshire and New Mexico currently have bills similar to 676 on the floor. 

A public hearing on the bill was scheduled in Salem May 13. Track bills at www.leg.state.or.us/searchmeas.html Sachie Yorck

 

Country Fair is July 10-12

The summer’s premier counter-culture event, drawing people from all over the civilized world (and perhaps beyond) will be July 10-12 at the fair site near Veneta.



This year’s “party with a purpose” will feature 17 stages of entertainment, nearly 80 food booths and hundreds of craft booths. 

Tickets for the 40th anniversary Oregon Country Fair (OCF) are now on sale at TicketsWest outlets, TicketsWest.com and other retail centers throughout the Northwest. All tickets must be purchased off-site; no tickets will be sold at the fair site. 

Confirmed entertainers and presenters represent a wide array of musical genres and sensibilities. The diverse lineup “reflects the history and evolution of the fair and the broad array of fair participants since the event first began as a benefit for an alternative school in 1969,” according to a press release. 

In addition to the entertainment on stage, wandering musicians, face painters, circus acts and many other fair favorites will be back. 



BK3 (featuring Bill Kreutzmann, Scott Murawski and Hutch Hutchinson), Chicago Afrobeat Project, The Gourds, Fareed Haque and the Flat Earth Ensemble, and Papa Mali are booked on the Main Stage. Spoken word performers at this year’s fair include Swami Beyondananda, Laura Piece Kelly and Ari Lesser. 

The full entertainment schedule will be updated at www.oregoncountryfair.org and look for EW’s Country Fair issue coming July 9.

 

Activist Alert

• The International Socialist Organization is holding a free public meeting at 6:30 pm Friday, May 15, at 180 PLC on the UO campus. Speakers will be John Bellamy Foster, UO professor of sociology and editor of Monthly Review; and Todd Chretien, 2006 Green Party Senate candidate in California. Foster will also be on the KLCC "Sunday at Noon" program May 10.

• Extended interviews with Civilian Review Board members are now at www.YouTube/PictureEugene or on the EW blog. The interviews with attorney Kate Wilkinson and Municipal Court Judge Rick Bressenden were conducted by Carol Berg-Caldwell. Videographers are Tim Lewis and Micah L. Griffin. The third video shows the board members’ reaction to the ironic police union ad in EW April 30.

• Coming up May 29-30 will be the Lane Peace Center's second annual peace conference, “Peace & Collective Action: Connecting Hope to Change.” Events this year will be at both LCC and downtown. See www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter for a complete program and registration information.

• Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger and Lane County DA Alex Gardner are holding a series of public meetings to “raise awareness of challenges and opportunities facing the public safety system, listen to community concerns and answer questions from area residents.” The next meeting will be from 11:30 am to 1 pm Wednesday, May 20, at the Veneta Community Center. The next meeting will be at the same time June 3 at the Creswell Community Center. The final meeting will be at the same time July 15 at the Junction City council chambers on Greenwood Street.

 

War Dead

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

In Iraq

• 4,292 U.S. troops killed* (4,284)

• 31,245 U.S. troops injured* (31,230) 

• 182 U.S. military suicides* (181)

• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)

• 100,339 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (100,112)

• $667.9 billion cost of war ($665.9 billion) 

• $189.4 million cost to Eugene

taxpayers
($189.9 million)

In Afganistan

• 682 U.S. troops killed* (682)

• 2,820 U.S. troops injured* (2,807)

• $187.7 billion cost of war ($187.2 million)

• $53.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($53.2 million)

* through May 11, 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 spray Hwy. 126 west from Eugene to Florence tentatively on May 18, Highway 101 on May 19, Territorial from Veneta to Monroe, and Highway 36 from Mapleton to Deadwood on May 20. Call Don Angermayer at 736-2841 and/or call the Herbicide Application 1-888-996-8080.

Gypsy moth spraying (southeast Eugene): The last tentative spray date is May 19. Aerial spraying was conducted on April 30 and May 8. Health effects and social disruptions caused by the spraying are being collected and documented. Contact Lisa Warnes, vice-president of the Southeast Neighbors Association, at 484-2210.

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

 

Corrections/ Clarifications

Our April 30 News Briefs quoted an attorney saying Ian Van Ornum works at Sundance. According to the store, he does not.

 

 

 

SLANT

ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS

Voters face some tougher than usual choices with 4J and LCC school board elections, but the opportunities for the public to hear the candidates have been few and late. Ballots must be in drop-off boxes by 8 pm Tuesday, May 19. Here are our picks in the contested races, and see our news story this week for information on how the candidates differ. See also Suzi Steffens’ live-blogging of the May 12 candidate forum at

blogs.eugeneweekly.com Many of the candidates have websites with more statements. Just Google their names.

4J Position 2 — Anne Marie Levis

Vying for the vacancy being left by Charles Martinez are three qualified candidates, all with solid, practical ideas and exceptional backgrounds. Based purely on experience in K-12 education, John Lehmann would have been our choice. Based purely on powerful business management skills, Paul Bertucci would have won out. But Anne Marie Levis has a compelling set of abilities and an energetic drive that give her the slight advantage this time around. Her level of community involvement exceeds that of the other candidates, and she is running the strongest campaign with more than 100 endorsements, locally and statewide. She is in the PR business, after all. 

Our endorsement is tempered by the fact that she ran a hard campaign against Betty Taylor for the City Council back in 1996 with the help of development interests, and she has been an enthusiastic advocate for maintaining the special privileges of wealthy and white alternative schools at the expense of poorer and browner neighborhood schools. Eugene is addicted to school choice, but choice needs to be radically reformed to make it more equitable. It would be tough to defend the district if a discrimination lawsuit were filed.

In her defense, Levis does understand the inequities that have been created with choice. She says they can be addressed with efforts to recruit more poor and Hispanic kids to alternative schools. But we hope she pushes for more substantive changes, such as moving the French immersion program out of south Eugene to help balance enrollment gaps. A school board member needs to serve all children.

Bertucci is a compelling candidate with corporate-based ideas on how to slash expenses at every level, including more cuts to teacher salaries. He seems to understand more than any other candidate how school choice is not only unfair but also conflicts with our city’s transportation and other planning priorities. Every morning and afternoon, Eugene sees traffic jams at elementary schools. He wants to eliminate school choice, but there’s a contradiction: He also favors language immersion schools. If he’s elected, we hope he works for foreign language programs in all the schools. 

4J Position 6 — Beth Gerot

Beth Gerot is the incumbent in this race. Her opponents are Gary Rayor and Yan Seiner. We like Gerot’s ideas on enhancing professional development within the schools, and her recognition that every student needs basic skills, regardless of whether they are going on to college or joining the workforce. She is also calling for a restructuring of our state tax system, which we agree is a key piece of the school funding puzzle. With a decade of experience behind her and her growing connections at the state level, she’s in a position to affect some significant changes in the next four years. 

Rayor is critical of the board for not dealing with what he sees as persistent problems in the district, such as school choice inequities and unbalanced high schools. And Yan Seiner has some good ideas about developing magnet schools. But neither have Gerot’s solid knowledge, experience and community support.

LCC Zone 4 — Susie Johnston

This race also has some good candidates, but only Susie Johnston has the know-how to maintain and grow the college during these financially stressful times. She understands which programs need priority support and how the different programs are interconnected. And the fact that she is currently a student at LCC means she’s on campus every day interacting with fellow students and teachers. 

Jose Ortal has the most formal education of the three candidates. With his analytical and inquiring mind he would be a quick study, but it could take him years to catch up to Johnston’s experience. Likewise Gordon Culbertson has a lot to offer through his decades of management in business and industry. 

River Road Park District — Yes

Measure 20-150 is on ballots mailed to River Road residents and a part of the Whiteaker neighborhood. The levy would raise $1 million in property taxes over five years to make up for lost city funding. The levy would support the heavily used Emerald Park with its pool and recreation facilities, along with classes and other programs. Taxes can be painful, but supporting this community center is important to the vitality of the neighborhood.



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

 

 

MAGGIE MINNICH

After high school in Moscow, Idaho, "I left as soon as I could," says Maggie Minnich, who moved to Eugene in 2007 to enroll in pre-journalism at the UO. During that school year, she also worked on the Assault Prevention Show at the ASUO Women's Center. "I met a lot of people who were passionate about prevention of sexual violence," she says. As she had already planned to take a year off from school to work and to establish residency in Oregon, Minnich applied for a position at Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) through the state's AmeriCorps HOPE (Healthy Options Through Prevention and Education) program. "I do youth prevention education," she says. "Teachers call us to give presentations in middle schools and high schools. I love talking with people, especially youth." Minnich helped coordinate last month's Take Back the Night rally and march, and she has developed a curriculum for a proposed teen volunteer program at SASS. When her Americorps contract ends in July, she plans to apply to the UO's degree program in Family and Human Services. "After this year at SASS, I've become more interested in social services," she says. "I'd like to work with youth in the sexual health field."