Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Larry Dobberstein
Oversight review board backs cops
NOT SO FREE FOR LUERS
Eugene eco-saboteur Jeff “Free” Luers was freed from prison briefly Oct. 2 after becoming eligible for Oregon’s new earned-time early release program for state prisoners. However, within an hour of his freedom, the release was rescinded. Luers was taken back to prison shortly after arriving in Eugene.
|Jeff “Free” Luers|
“At least we got a good lunch into him,” says Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, one of the attorneys on Luers’ case. “It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for him and his loved ones,” she says. Luers’ friends and family had only hours with him before he was returned to prison.
Luers’ original 22-year sentence for burning three SUVs on Romania lot was reduced to 10 years in February 2007. He was due to be released this December after serving nine and half years, but HB 3508, which passed earlier this year, allows a 30 percent reduction of sentence for certain offenders.
Regan says in order for Luers to have been released, the victims of the crime, the DA, judge and the Department of Corrections must all have agreed to his release. “Nobody thinks this kid needs to spend the next two months in prison,” says Regan. She adds, “He was already signed up for college classes.”
Luers had given away many of the belongings he had acquired while in prison to his fellow inmates, Regan says, but upon his return, his things were back on his bunk, a sign she says of the high regard the prison guards and fellow prisoners have for him.
When he found out he would be returning to prison, Regan says Luers joked that if anyone wrote a book about his life, this latest turn would make another interesting chapter. But Regan also pointed out that returning to prison after a brief taste of freedom could make the next two and a half months the most difficult of his sentence.
Regan and the CLDC will be looking at public records to find out what went awry that sent Luers back to prison. Regan says she believes that Luers is eligible for release before the Dec. 16 projected date, and she will be exploring legal avenues.
A vegan benefit dinner for Luers will be held Nov. 7 at the Morning Glory Café with 6:30 pm and 8 pm seatings. RSVP to www.cldc.org or call 687-9180. Cost is $18-20 donation, or gift card of equal or greater value; suggested gift cards include: REI, McKenzie Outfitters, Kiva, PRI, or Wandering Goat. — Camilla Mortensen
REWILD AT THE PARK
Get wild, make fire and throw (pseudo) sharp objects at the ReWild Eugene Festival this year from 9 am to 3 pm Oct. 10 at the Wayne Morse Family Farm. This free event is tailored to teach the public about wilderness skills and to introduce both adults and children to a better connection with nature, not as an abstract concept but by getting their hands a little dirty.
The day's events will include friction fire-making with rope and wood, animal tracking, a medicinal plant walk and even sword throwing, which is like a round-robin game of catch … with swords. Matt Bradley, co-founder of ReWild with Anna Bradley, says that these swords aren't as dangerous as one might think.
“What we've got are Kendo swords. They're called Shinai and they're bamboo with no edges. The only real danger in our swords is getting whacked by a piece of bamboo,” he said. For children and those worried about their hand-eye coordination, Bradley will have balls instead of swords.
Bradley says that the purpose of this exercise, and the other activities planned for the festival, is bringing people closer to an intuitive mindset and awareness of their surroundings in a fun way. This awareness can also engender a mindfulness of nature, according to Bradley: “If you have a relationship with the trees in front of you, or the squirrels and raccoons that live underneath your porch, then you don't have to live out in the woods to have those experiences. And once you create personal relationships between people and the world they live in, I think that's the most powerful thing we can do to promote environmentalism in the world.”— Shaun O'Dell
DEVIL’S STAIRCASE ONE STEP CLOSER
The Devil’s Staircase, a waterfall in the middle of a pristine Coast Range forest, looks like it’s getting closer to being preserved in its untamed and untrammeled state. The wet and wild old-growth forest is the subject of a proposed Wilderness Area by coalition of environmental groups, including Eugene’s Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) and Cascadia Wildlands.
Rep. Peter DeFazio is the sponsor of the House version of the bill, HR 2888, which would create the wilderness, while Ron Wyden is the sponsor of the Senate version. S 1272.
On Sept. 24, the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, had a hearing on several proposed Wilderness Areas, including the more controversial Red Rock Wilderness in Utah. Conservationists were delighted that not only did BLM Director Robert Abbey support the proposal, but the Forest Service’s Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, Joel Holtrop, surprised them by suggesting that Forest Road 4100, which that bisects the proposed wilderness, be decommissioned and allowed to become a hiking and horse trail.
Holtrop also said that the older stands of Douglas fir, western hemlock and red alder in riparian areas are “underrepresented in the National Wilderness Preservation System.” He added, “These older stands provide critical habitat and support nesting pairs of the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, which are listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.”
Andy Stahl of FSEEE who also testified before the committee said the area provides habitat for native salmon species, including coho, steelhead, Chinook and cutthroat trout as well as Roosevelt elk, black bears and Pacific giant salamanders.
Stahl said the support from the BLM and the Forest Service bodes well for the possibility of the wilderness proposal making it through the House and Senate and to President Obama’s desk. Laughlin said Cascadia Wildlands expects “smooth sailing as the proposal inches one step closer to creating Oregon’s next Wilderness.”
There will be a hearing before the Senate’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on Oct. 8.
To learn more about the proposal, go to www.devilsstaircasewilderness.org or to Cascadia Wildlands’ annual Hoedown Sat. Oct. 10, dance, and learn about Devil’s Staircase and other projects, www.cascwild.org or 434-1463 — Camilla Mortensen
DOG OWNER CALLS FOR SPECIAL PARK
A 13-pound Havanese named Lola was killed at Amazon Dog Park Sept. 1 by a 125-pound bull mastiff, and the small dog’s owner is now calling for creating a separate enclosure for off-leash small dogs at Amazon Park. Renee Hart has already collected more than 300 signatures and is targeting 1,000 signatures before the petition is delivered to the City Council. She says she is trying to create something positive from the tragedy.
Recalling the attack, Hart says the mastiff “charged at her from behind in a completely unprovoked attack. I believe he saw her as prey.”
Hart this week says the incident is getting so much publicity that she wants to “clear up aspects of this story, especially relating to the owner of the mastiff. While I believe she made a horrible mistake bringing it to the park, she doesn't deserve some of the vilification I've read.”
Hart says a group of people nearby came to help, and the mastiff’s owner was screaming for her dog to stop. “I had my hand wrapped around Lola's leash so tight it cut into my finger,” she says. “I wouldn't, couldn't risk trying to jump in to stop the mastiff. My 4-year-old was in the park. She was losing her dog. I couldn't risk her losing her mother too. A man jumped over the dog fence; he pulled Lola out of the mastiff's mouth.
Hart says the woman who owned the mastiff told her, “It was the most violent thing I've ever seen.”
“People were crying, offering support,” says Hart. “The only silver lining was that my 4-year-old was far enough away to hear the screams but not see the mauling. Lola was her dog, her best friend.”
Animal Control was called, and the owner of the mastiff chose to stay. “It turned out they had had the mastiff for only two months, getting it from somewhere else. Because of the severity of the incident the mastiff had to go with Animal Control. The owners opted to have it put down,” she says.
“We had only been in Eugene one week,” she says. “Up until we got Lola, I've always had big dogs. Because my dogs were so gentle, it never occurred to me what could happen when a big dog bites a small dog. Now I know.”
Hart wants to see a dedicated small dog park at Amazon Park. Her online petition can be found at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/lolas-park or residents can call or email members of the City Council.
Hart says, “Had there been small dog park, Lola would be alive and my 4-year-old daughter would still have her best friend.” Hart says there has already been some backlash from people who don’t want to see the park divided, and debate over whether the park is big enough to have a separate small dog area. Hart says she is open to other options, as long as somewhere at the park small dogs would have their own safe space.
• The Eugene Police Commission meets at 5:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 8, in the McNutt Room at City Hall. The commission’s Use of Force subcommittee meets at the same time and place Wednesday, Oct. 14.
• Historian John Attig will speak at 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library. Attig’s topic will be the Nobel Peace Prize. He heads the project which is creating a Nobel Peace Walk area to be built in Alton Baker Park.
• “Raising the Bar on the Possible Visions of our Downtown Riverfront” with developer Brian Obie, Kari Westlund of Travel Lane County, and architect Otto Poticha will be the topic at City Club of Eugene at 11:45 Friday, Oct. 9, at the Hilton. The first question will be asked by Pat Johnson, chief ecologist for BLM. See www.cityclubofeugene.org for more information.
• The West Cascade Peace Corps Association (WCPCA) meets at 6 pm Friday, Oct. 9, at the UO Many Nations Longhouse. On the agenda is announcing the creation of the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund. The endowed fund to be managed by the Oregon Community Foundation will contribute to WCPA humanitarian projects around the world. Brinkman was a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan in the late 1960s, traveling by horse, donkey and camel to remote villages to vaccinate women and children against small pox.
• Dr. Paul Hochfeld of Corvallis, who appeared on CNN this week to talk about Mad As Hell Doctors and the Rose Garden meeting with Obama, will be at the screening of his documentary Health, Money and Fear as part of the Eugene International Film Festival at 11 am Saturday, Oct. 10, at Regal Cinema’s Valley River Center Stadium 15.
• Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides annual meeting is from 4 to 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 10, at King Estate Winery. Music by Laura Kemp, appetizers by King Estate and a no-host wine bar. Free to members; $15 discount membership available at the door.
• October Afghanistan anti-war events include a new film by filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Rethink Afghanistan will be shown at 7 pm Oct. 14, at Harris Hall, 125 E. Eighth Ave. in Eugene. According to the film’s producers, BraveNew Foundation, “the film is a ground-breaking, full-length documentary that shatters all perceived truths behind the war in Afghanistan.” The film will be followed by a discussion about what can be to end the war and bring peace to the region. The film can be previewed at http://rethinkafghanistan.com
• Oct. 13 is the deadline for comments on Eugene’s and Springfield’s updated Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. The plan provides communities with a set of goals, action items, and resources designed to reduce risk from future natural disasters. Copies of the plans can be found at www.oregonshowcase.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,350 U.S. troops killed* (4,348)
• 31,514 U.S. troops injured* (31,510)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 101,862 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (101,805)
• $688.6 billion cost of war ($686.6 billion)
• $195.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($195.2 million)
• 852 U.S. troops killed* (844)
• 4,139 U.S. troops injured* (4,081)
• $228.4 billion cost of war ($227.9 million)
• $64.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($64.8 million)
* through October 5, 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 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• A massive herbicide spray program is being proposed by the Bureau of Land Management to control invasive species and noxious weeds: Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on BLM lands in Oregon are due on Dec. 1. Call BLM, Ken Denton, EIS Team Leader at: (503) 808-6443 or call the BLM Eugene District Office at 683-6600. View documents at: www.blm.gov/or/plans/vegtreatmentseis/
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Just months ago the city of Eugene was using an exclusion ordinance to target the homeless downtown as criminals. Now, after a series of violent attacks on the homeless, the city is realizing they are the victims of crime. The city should not just throw more police at the problem. The police are ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-tempered to deal with the homeless. Instead the city should increase funding for more cost-effective social services, particularly housing, drug, alcohol and mental health programs that address the roots of the problem.
• Kudos to the Eugene Police Department for going after the convenience store malt liquor dealers. Cheap alcohol is a major driver of street crime. This is exactly the kind of problem-solving community policing Eugene has long craved. Now if EPD could only get the INET squad to drop pot and focus on the real narcotics problem.
• Did UO megadonor Phil Knight make the call on giving LeGarrette Blount a second chance? UO football coach Chip Kelly claims it was his decision to consider reinstating the player who punched an opponent and threw an embarrassing violent fit on national TV. But in the past, such dramatic flips in UO decisions haven't been made by the football coach, the athletic director or the UO president; they've been made by the Nike billionaire. ESPN has reported how UO officials "genuflect at his Nikes" and how Knight forced the UO out of an anti-sweatshop group and forced out a track coach.
• They looked like big ducks out of water. Last Saturday, about eight hours before the Washington State game, the UO football team, alike in their blackish-greenish warm-ups, strolled self-consciously through the Saturday Market behind their affable head coach, Chip Kelly, in his Bermuda shorts. It was a wild juxtaposition but probably a good idea, just like it was a good idea for the new president of the UO to join with Mayor Piercy and other officials walking door-to-door in the sometimes rowdy West University district greeting students and setting a standard of civility to be copied, they hope. One more smart town-gown gesture was President Lariviere's appearance in the Eugene Celebration Parade. Lariviere is also planning a City Club talk as a follow-up to a Sept. 9 program on the UO’s impact on Eugene and its neighborhoods. Maybe a new collaborative era will bring the brainpower of Eugene and the UO together to solve our vexing downtown puzzles. Go Ducks!
• Speaking of UO/city collaborations, a number of ideas have been kicking around in recent years, and one of our favorites is a UO/city partnership to build more student housing downtown, with a shuttle bus service to campus. Architect Otto Poticia is a big advocate for downtown housing, and it makes more sense than building new housing east of campus or across the river, which would exacerbate the division between UO and the city.
• It was sad to see right-wing media celebrating Chicago's loss of the Olympics because they wanted to portray it as a defeat for President Obama. It was even sadder that much of mainstream media mindlessly took their bait and blamed him. That made no sense. Congratulations, Rio. It's your continent's turn to host the Olympics.
• Last week we ran a letter (“Dismayed by Eugene”) from Michael Bittner of Millbrook, NY, in response to Alan Pittman’s “Carbon Foot Print” cover story Sept. 17. Despite his concerns about Eugene, Bittner says in a follow-up letter that he has “high regard” for the city and “we have decided to make Eugene our home and open our business. Eugene offers so much in the form of quality of life that communities around the nation could learn from.” Bittner’s enterprise in New York state’s Hudson Valley is called Zen Hot Spot Yoga (see http://zenspothv.com). Bittner is returning to the Northwest; he has a doctorate in education from the UW. Welcome back.
• The war in Afghanistan is now entering its ninth year and teach-ins, films and demonstrations are planned nationwide and locally in October (see Activist Alert). As a nation we are not alone in this war effort, but so far the U.S. has lost 852 solders, suffered 4,139 serious injuries and spent more than $228 billion. The war has spread into neighboring Pakistan, and public opinion polls in the region show an increasing animosity toward the U.S. and other foreign occupiers. How can we militarily impose peace on an ungovernable Afghanistan beset by massive poverty, disease, ignorance and a deep tradition of armed resistance to outsiders? The best long-term outcomes would grow from humanitarian relief, support for secular education and women’s rights, health care and diplomacy. The billions being spent on drone attacks and troop escalations would be better invested in scholarships for bright young Afghan women and men to study abroad in medicine, agriculture, law, business, political science and the arts.
The son of a beer company executive, Larry Dobberstein had never lived in one place for more than four years when he hit Eugene in 1990. His family left San Jose for Saint Louis in the middle of his senior year. "I couldn't wait to get back," he says. "I became a hippie in San Francisco in ’67." Tiring of city life, he moved to a rural hippie community in Takilma in 1971. "I've lived in Oregon ever since," he says, except for tree-planting in Washington, a BA in visual arts from Evergreen State College in 1980, then a few years in Arcata. "I got work as a projectionist in the only movie theater in Ashland," he says, and when his hours were cut, he found a projectionist job in Springfield and a place to stay in Eugene. "I'm still here, that's a record." Using a borrowed video camera, Dobberstein taped a series of lectures on the Iran-Contra affair that found air time on Community TV in 1992. "It was exciting for me," he says. Currently president of the CTV board, he volunteers for office work and programming, teaches classes, produces five weekly series and lots of documentaries. "The most recent is on murals of Lane County," he says. "It's easy, it's fun, and it's cheap to produce a show and get it on TV." More at ctv29.org.