News Briefs: Council May Oust True Oversight | Seneca Sneaking Into the Neighborhood? | Music vs. Climate Change | Funds for Civil Liberties | Holocaust Survivors at UO | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
COUNCIL MAY OUST TRUE OVERSIGHT
The Eugene City Council could move the Civilian Review Board, already with a strong anti-oversight majority, even further away from the independent police review system passed by voters.
The council plans to vote on appointments to the CRB and other boards and commissions on Monday, Oct. 26. The meeting begins at 7:30 pm, but the voting could be early or late.
Only two councilors have come out in support of reappointing Rick Brissenden, a widely respected Cottage Grove and Florence municipal court judge who was one of only two CRB members critical of the police Tasering an environmental protester in the back while he lay face down with one or both arms behind him, according to police video.
Based on preliminary council poling, leading candidates to replace Brissenden or fill another open position include Steven Buel-McIntire and Steven Broome. Buel-McIntire donated $300 to the election campaign of District Attorney Alex Gardner last year. The conservative DA ran unopposed and was financed by local police boosters, along with and gravel pit and timber barons. Buel-McIntire works as an executive and attorney at Selco Credit Union and as a Realtor.
Buel-McIntire has also served on a homeowners association board in the conservative Bethel neighborhood, enforcing strict subdivision covenants and restrictions on such things as Christmas lights. His wife is a board member with the Rental Owners Association of Lane County, which has lobbied against mold health protections for renters.
Broome is a retired Lane County Sheriff patrol deputy from north Eugene. “I have personally been the subject of an internal investigation, and I conducted several investigations as a supervisor,” Broome wrote in his application. “I think that some in our community are too quick to condemn the police and their handling of complaints.”
Broome is strongly backed by the right wing of the City Council including councilor George Poling, who is also a retired sheriff’s deputy.
Key swing votes on the CRB appointments include Councilors Andrea Ortiz and Alan Zelenka. The two represent progressive Whiteaker and east of campus wards that voted overwhelmingly in support of independent police review. The review system passed by a 2-1 vote citywide, but council actions have since appeared increasingly opposed to independent oversight by people that actually support independent oversight. — Alan Pittman
SENECA SNEAKING INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
The Seneca biomass plant broke ground this week along Highway 99 in north Eugene, and according to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA), it will meet federal air pollution limits. But many residents in nearby neighborhoods are worried, because they didn’t know the wood-fueled electric facility was going to be built at all.
The Oregon Toxics Alliance has been leading a grassroots effort, pushing for stronger air pollution controls. Members canvassed neighborhoods near the plant and of the approximately 160 people the OTA interviewed, 70 percent of them had no idea the plant was raising its walls almost literally in their backyards, said Josh Vincent, one of the OTA members who conducted the survey.
“Regardless of the press coverage, many people were completely unaware, and once they were (aware), they weren’t happy,” he said.
Residents are already concerned about the current pollution levels in the industrial area and were frustrated to be facing yet another billowing smoke stack, said Vincent.
In hopes of both informing the neighbors and generating community discussion about the issue, the OTA and Centro Latino Americano are co-hosting an event from 1 to 3 pm Sunday, Oct. 25, at the St. Peter Catholic Church on 1150 Maxwell Road in Eugene. The meeting will be held in both English and Spanish. There will be free childcare and free refreshments.
While it will be an informational meeting about the Seneca plant, Lisa Arkin, OTA’s executive director, hopes people will take this opportunity to discuss general concerns about pollution and health.
“In addition, it will be a time for people to tell us what concerns them the most about the health of their families,” she said. “For instance, parents whose children have asthma.”
There is evidence, she added, that “West Eugene is disparately exposed to this kind of air pollution.” — Katie Wilson
MUSIC VS. CLIMATE CHANGE
Neither Paul Bodin nor Brian McWhorter seem the most likely candidates to save the planet. Neither the retired schoolteacher nor the avant-garde trumpeter, both of whom teach at the UO, belongs to an environmental organization. And yet the pair is spearheading Eugene’s version of an international rally to take serious action to avert the catastrophic consequences of human-caused global warming. This Saturday, more than 1,000 communities around the world will stage events alerting people to the most dangerous number in the world — not 666, but 350. The consensus of recent research by climate scientists suggests that when the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere exceeds 350 parts per million, the effects of global warming may be irreversible no matter what steps we take
That’s why pioneering environmental writer Bill McKibben, whose powerful 1989 book The End of Nature was among the first to sound the worldwide alarm of global warming, has joined a dozen others from around the globe to spearhead the Oct. 24 Day of Action to galvanize action, with the goal being to push world leaders convening in Copenhagen in December to craft an effective global climate policy
It was a “quietly persuasive” speech by McKibben at the UO that inspired Bodin to get involved. First, he met with local activists who’ve been working on the issue for years. When deciding what kind of 350 Day of Action event would work best in Eugene, Bodin drew on his amateur music background — he plays jazz saxophone and writes big band charts “for fun” — and decided to convene 350 local musicians to perform. Who had the connections to pull together so many musicians in a few weeks?
McWhorter, a UO grad who built a career in New York as one of the world’s finest trumpeters before returning to his alma mater a few years ago to teach, had contacts throughout the city’s jazz and classical networks. Although already immersed in his own national performing career and teaching, McWhorter was able to enlist an impressive orchestra led by new Eugene Symphony music director Danail Rachev and members of that orchestra, Oregon Mozart Players and Oregon Bach Festival orchestra, who’ll play some of history’s most powerful music: the slow movement of Beethoven’s mighty Symphony #7. Other performers contributing their time and skills include Oregon Jazz Ensemble, LCC Chamber Choir, McWhorter’s own Beta Collide, Eugene Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, Eugene legends the Sugar Beets, an interfaith choir, UO dancers and more. McWhorter and Bodin insisted on including non-Western ensembles, such as the Brazilian Samba Ja, Balkan musicians Kef and Vakasara Mbira Group: global problem, global music.
The event also features Mayor Kitty Piercy and a talk by UO law professor Mary Wood, who will explain just why the need for action is so pressing. Most important: Groups involved in the climate change issue will have information and resources available for people to take action, not just enjoy the music and rhetoric. Bodin explains that unlike other crises, this one is tough to organize around because it requires people to look beyond their immediate economic interests. “One major reason for this is to promote the idea that you can be active on an issue that’s complex and doesn’t affect you immediately,” he says, “but does affect generations to come.”
McWhorter understands. He’s been increasingly determined to use his art in the service of social responsibility since he’d played benefits for Katrina survivors while he was teaching in Louisiana when the hurricane struck. Such climate-sensitive disasters are increasing, and with a two-year old baby and another on the way, he’s thinking about the planet’s future. “Having a child certainly does make you look a little less at your own career for its own sake,” McWhorter says. “You start thinking about meaning in a very different way.”
Artists for Climate Action’s free event happens at 3 pm Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Hult Center. www.350.org — Brett Campbell
FUNDS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
Bryan Lessley, a Eugene federal public defender and a legal counsel for Guantánamo detainees, will be providing a keynote speech about his work with the detainees, many who have been imprisoned in Cuba for over half a decade, for the Civil Liberties Defense Center’s fusion fundraiser from 6:30 to 11 pm Friday, Oct. 23, at Cozmic Pizza. The event is called “Rebel Revelry: A PATRIOT Act Bash.”
Lessley says he will talk about the actual conditions of detainees within Guantánamo, the history of legal developments in regards to Supreme Court decisions and political pressures, and provide an overview about who the detainees are and what is going to happen to them.
Lessley says changes that have been made in the holding facility at Guantánamo since the 2008 elections are complicated.
A lot of detainees “are being cleared for release by federal judges or by the Defense Department. The ones who have been cleared for release in many cases are being treated better than they had been before,” Lessley says.
He says the government has moved some of the detainees into “state -of-the-art concrete cinder block interrogation facilities instead of the little huts they used to be in.” But he says, “I don't know whether that's an improvement in their conditions or not.”
Lessley says he finds very surprising that anybody believes there is any valuable intelligence to be gained after the prisoners have been kept captive for such a long period of time. He also has doubts about how many people held captive are still being interrogated, saying few were likely still being questioned. “You'd think that if they had information to give, they'd have given it by now. It's just hard to imagine they've got anything to say they haven't said already, and that's assuming that any of them had any information to begin with.”
The event will also feature salsa and Cuban music from Jessie Marquez and jazz from Three on the Tree, a raffle and a silent and live auction to raise funding for the CLDC. For $10 you’ll get two raffle tickets and pizza. For more information, contact Kristy Hammond at 687-9780 or go to www.cldc.org — Shaun O'Dell
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AT UO
The UO will present a speech held by two Holocaust survivors next Tuesday. Eva and Leslie Aigner will speak about their experiences at the Auschwitz concentration camp in what is becoming an increasingly rare opportunity to hear the accounts of Holocaust survivors as they grow older.
Hungarian Jews Eva and Leslie Aigner will speak about the horrors of living under Nazi oppression, living in the Budapest ghetto and ultimately surviving Auschwitz. The speech is being promoted and organized by the university’s department of German and Scandinavian.
Current director of the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, Dr. Daniel Falk said, “it is extremely important to have survivors tell their stories in their own words. It is one of the best antidotes to history becoming a sterile account of the past. I hope that students and community members take advantage of this opportunity to hear first-hand testimony.”
The Holocaust survivor speeches will be from noon to 1:20 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the UO’s Living Learning Center South Building, room 101 at 15th and Agate. The event is free and open to the public. — Mark Arellano
• A roundtable on “Gender and Superheroes” is planned from 3 to 5 pm Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Browsing Room of Knight Library on the UO campus. Panelists include Rebecca Wanzo, associate professor of Women’s Studies and English, Ohio State University; Jocelyn Hollander, associate professor, UO Department of Sociology; and Mara Williams, graduate student, UO School of Journalism and Communication.
• The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition annual harvest fundraising event this year from 5 to 8 pm Sunday, Oct. 25, at Davis’ Restaurant (see Calendar). A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the David Minor Memorial Fund. The fund with WFFC has given grants to Huerto de la Familia, FOOD for Lane County Gardens Program, Victory Gardens for All, and the That's My Farmer Low-Income Fund. More information at www.lanefood.org/davidminor.php
• The Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) has been engaged in a successful campaign to encourage the city of Eugene to remove the question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony” off of the front page of the city application for employment. The group is hosting a public meeting and celebration at 5:30 pm Monday, Oct. 26, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 166 E. 13th Ave., Eugene.
• The Pitchfork Rebellion will be having mock trials on Halloween, at 1 pm at old Federal Building, 211 E. 7th. The rally will focus on the BLM’s plan to increase the use of pesticide sprays, according to Day Owen, of the Pitchfork Rebellion. Costumes are encouraged.
• Cohousing is the topic of a presentation/slide show by architect and author Charles Durrett from 5:45 to 7:15 pm Wednesday, Oct. 28, at UO Lillis Hall, Room 182. Free and open to the public, sponsored by UO’s School of Architecture.
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Deadline is Monday, Oct. 26, for Notice of Tort Claim for gypsy moth spraying (SE Eugene). If you feel you or your family members were sickened, property contaminated, or your rights were violated by the forced exposure to the Oregon Department of Agriculture's aerial spraying of the biological (and chemical) insecticide FORAY 48B on April 30, May 8 and May 20, you need to file a Notice of Tort Claim against the state of Oregon in order to preserve your right to recover damages. For forms and information, go to forestlanddwellers.org/News/GypsyMothSpray/
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Lane Regional Air Protection Agency’s approval of Seneca’s biomass permit is a potential death sentence for people who suffer from serious pulmonary disease. It’s absurd to think the 210,000 tons of greenhouse gases that will be released each year will not have an adverse impact on the health of all of us, young and old. Included in those gases will be toxins known to not only exacerbate but cause lung and cardiovascular diseases. Bottom line: The permit will increase air pollution in our valley year around at a time when we need to be reducing air pollution. Is LRAPA really an acronym for Lane Regional Assuring Profits Agency?
• Good for Rick Brissenden for being outspoken in favor of accountability on the Civilian Review Board. Brissenden, a municipal court judge, is one of the few people on the CRB who actually believes in strong civilian oversight of the Eugene Police Department. The City Council meets Monday and will vote on board and commission appointments, including four candidates for the CRB. If the board does not reconfirm Brissenden and Kate Wilkinson, one more wedge will be driven between the residents of Eugene and city government. The mayor and council have stacked our supposedly independent and objective CRB with people who are unquestioning advocates for the status quo. That’s not at all what the voters had in mind. We need more competent, eloquent and thoughtful people like Brissenden on the CRB, and fewer back-slapping, winking, cop buddies. To see extended video interviews with Brissenden and Wilkinson, Google “Picture Eugene CRB.”
• We’ve confirmed rumors at press time that at least one of two Asian international students at the UO was Tasered by Eugene police Sept. 22 when the students were mistakenly reported to be trespassers in a rental unit they had leased near campus. The two young men were reportedly in sleeping bags when police entered the apartment, and did not understand the police officer’s questioning. A complaint has been filed with the police auditor, according to Auditor Mark Gissiner.
• "Public option" seemed to be the two words that inspired the most applause all through the Oregon Democratic Summit in Sunriver Oct. 16-18. Sen. Wyden, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, called the health care fight "a continuation of our long march against injustice." The bill out of his committee, he said, "falls far short of what is needed. ... Public option and private option need to be available to all Americans." Merkley said, "We need a robust public option that creates competition on the president's desk by Christmas." Oregon Democrats will need to keep applauding loudly for "public option" to keep it in the game.
• Jim Klonoski would have loved every minute of the summit of the Oregon Democratic Party Oct. 16-18 at Sunriver. Three of his sons, Jake, Nick and Zack, did him proud speaking and accepting the first Klonoski award for civic engagement, given to them for their leadership in persuading the Legislature to bring back the dollar check-off for political parties. Called the Check for Democracy, this is a bipartisan law that will let Oregonians give $3 to the party of their choice, starting with 2010 tax returns. Professor Klonoski, chair of the Oregon D's from 1974 to ’84, started the dollar check-off in 1977, bringing in $160,000 the first year, but that first bill sun-setted. Then, as now, the check-off money that comes in shores up the infrastructure of the parties. This time, no sunset provision was included in the bill. When all that revenue came to the Democrats in 1977, Jim joked, "Hey, now we can act like Republicans." He was a much-loved political science professor at UO, called a "liberal curmudgeon" by former student Jefferson Smith, who is now a member of the Oregon House and the creator of the Oregon Bus Project. Smith spoke at the summit keynote dinner and is himself a tribute to his UO professor's philosophy of civic engagement, as were the dozens of eager, impressive young people at the political gathering. Jim Klonoski died earlier this year.
• A crowd of 1,400 showed up at the Fairgrounds for the annual Business Expo and After Hours event Oct. 15. For those of us who don’t get out from behind our desks much, it was a bit of a shock to plunge into this buzzing entrepreneurial hive. The enthusiasm of the crowd was remarkable, particularly in a recession. Not a grumpy person in the room. If we look at the Chamber event as an orchestrated art form, it was a well-cast professional production, a little light on dramatic effect. Once a year is enough. It will take us that long to eat up all the mints and other sweet swag we collected from the 160 exhibitor booths. And what do you do with a fluorescent green tote bag and matching water bottle?
• Everyone’s welcome to join us at our Best of Eugene Awards Show that begins at 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 24, at the McDonald Theatre. Tickets are $10 at EW or through TicketsWest, and benefit White Bird Clinic. Saturday’s show is our answer to the Oscars, complete with celebrities and entertainment, including the finalists in our Next Big Thing music contest. See our ad this week on page 14.