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Eugene Weekly : News : 12.10.09





News Briefs:
John Giovanni Calls It Quits | Eco-Saboteur Stays in Terrorist Unit | Biomass Linked to Greenhouse Polution | Climate: Will Oregon Finally Do Something? | Did DeFazio Flip-Flop on Jail? | UO Minor in War Studies? | Clearcuts and Carbon | Activist Alert

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Happening People: Kelly Crane

Analysis:

Hopenhagen?


Eugene contingency lobbies for action, human rights

News:

Urge to Merge


Fire department marriage lacks a pre-nup


JOHN GIOVANNI CALLS IT QUITS

Eugene’s “Next Big Thing” is now Eugene’s Once Big Thing.

photo by Dmitri von Klein/monovita.com

Monday, a former band member confirmed that John Giovanni, the band that won Eugene Weekly’s “Next Big Thing, Eugene” singles contest with its song “Slumber” has broken up. Singer/songwriter Genevieve Bellemare said in a Dec. 7 phone interview that the split up took place last Thursday. “It was one of the worst situations I’ve ever been in my whole, entire life,” Bellemare said, adding that it was her decision to call it quits due to artistic inconsistencies. “Together we have made some really awesome music, [but] consistency wise, it’s really hard for us to ever be on the same page,” Bellemare said of the band, which also included bassist Zev Levine, drummer Nate Curry and keyboardist and composer Eric Valentine.

According to Bellemare, she and Valentine will continue making music together. “I’m never having another keyboardist,” she said, describing their artistic collaboration as “like two heads together.” Currently, the two of them are working with an agent/producer and plan on recording with a new lineup in the future.

“This is something that I have to do,” Bellemare said. “I’m not a selfish person at all, but there are points where you just kind of have to be selfish.”

As for the band’s year together, Bellemare says she has “all good memories,” even if the situation is something less than amicable right now. “I have absolutely no regrets. It wasn’t anything that anybody was doing wrong. There’s no negativity that made this break up.”

You can read the Nov. 12 cover story “Break on Through: John Giovanni Storms Next Big Thing Competition” at www.eugeneweekly.com/2009/11/12/coverstory.htmlRick Levin

 

ECO-SABOTEUR STAYS IN TERRORIST UNIT

In a letter to EW from the Communications Management Unit (CMU) of a federal prison in Marion, Ill., eco-saboteur Daniel McGowan writes that he is not “holding his breath” for a transfer out of the special terrorist unit in which he has been held. McGowan was transferred to the unit August of 2008 from a low-security prison. 

McGowan was convicted as part of what the FBI called Operation Backfire: environmentally motivated property destruction across the Northwest. No one was injured in any of the actions. He continued to speak out on environmental and justice issues from prison. McGowan was never told why he was sent to the unit.

The only other eco-saboteur currently in a CMU is Stanislas Meyerhoff who is currently at the CMU in Indiana. Animal rights activist Andrew Stepanian, given a three-year sentence under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in a separate case, was also held at the Marion CMU.

The CMUs were covertly established late in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Justice and have been dubbed “Little Guantanomos” by the inmates. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a case alleging that the units were unlawfully built without public input and are disproportionately made up of Muslim prisoners, many of whom have never been convicted of terrorism.

McGowan writes his unit “has received a few more prisoners — up to 31 now with two-thirds being Muslim men.”

He also writes that the prisoners in the tightly monitored unit recent by received an increase in phone calls — one to two 15 minute calls a week — and their visits have increased to two a month, but those visits remain non-contact. “While these changes help a little bit,” he writes, “I can’t help but to think it’s just an example of our leashes getting longer.”

McGowan’s imprisonment at the CMU comes up for review in February, he writes, and he intends to ask for a transfer. But he suspects his “terrorism enhancement” will be used as a justification for keeping him in the unit. 

The unit’s review document states that among other criteria, a prisoner can be kept in the CMU if “the inmate’s current offense(s) of conviction, offense conduct or activity while incarcerated, indicates a propensity to encourage, coordinate facilitate, or otherwise act in furtherance of, illegal activity through communications with persons in the community.” 

McGowan points out that his conviction “obviously cannot change.” McGowan has taken classes while in prison, including completing a paralegal course, but he writes, when it comes to leaving the terrorist unit, “My impeccable behavior and participation in classes are seemingly irrelevant.” — Camilla Mortensen

 

BIOMASS LINKED TO GREENHOUSE POLLUTION

Eugene’s tiny Oregon Toxics Alliance continues to nip at the heels of the Seneca Biomass plant. Seneca’s permit to build a wood burning biomass plant in west Eugene was approved by Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) in October, but OTA and other critics say the plant poses health risks to low income families, Latinos and people of color, and a disproportionately large number of disabled people from the pollution it will release.

OTA Executive Director Lisa Arkin said the group, which earlier filed an administrative appeal with the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA), has now also filed a contested case appeal under an Oregon law (ORS 183.415) that says that people affected by actions taken by state agencies have a right to be informed of their rights and remedies and are entitled to a public hearing. 

Arkin said one of the issues the contested case appeal addresses — in addition to environmental justice issues, two pollution sources under one aggregate permit, particulate matter and others — is greenhouse gases. “It’s not really been reported to the public the amount of greenhouse gases it will release,” she said. “We’ve been saying all along that Seneca should report this as part of the permit.” 

Arkin said Seneca’s permit should have “more stringent controls restricting greenhouse gases.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director Lisa Jackson announced at press conference on Dec. 7 that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide endanger people’s health. According to Jackson, a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said an endangerment finding such as this one was needed before the EPA could use the federal Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and cars. Jackson also said a similar finding was sent to the Bush administration, but was not acted on.

Even as Eugene seems to be going forward with this controversial biomass burning plant, the state of Massachusetts has temporarily stopped considering applications for new biomass burning permits under its renewable energy portfolio. 

A Dec. 3 letter from the Massachusetts energy commissioner to “biomass energy stakeholders,” said the suspension will last until the state “has the necessary confidence that its incentives for biomass energy will produce appropriately sustainable results.”

Massachusetts commissioned a six-month study of the environmental impacts of biomass energy plants from the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. The state won’t move forward on the permits for at least a year. 

As in Oregon, wood-burning power plants were originally encouraged by the state, but due to questions about the amount biomass plants would contribute to global warming, Massachusetts has been backing away from that support.

At their Dec. 8 meeting, LRAPA voted 5-2 to decline to hear OTA's administrative appeal, and requested their counsel to give a recommendation on the contested case appeal at the agency's January meeting, Arkin said. — Camilla Mortensen

 

Climate: Will Oregon Finally Do Something?

With the bigwigs gathered in Copenhagen this week for a world meeting on climate change (see analysis, page 13), Oregon appears on the brink of taking its first real action to actually fight the menace. Maybe.

Last summer a bill to require powerful regional transportation plans (RTPs) to reduce global warming failed in the state Legislature. As a warming booby prize, environmental groups pushing for the bill got an official committee to further study the issue and report back.

Now that committee, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force, appears on the verge of recommending that yes, the state actually should require the city transportation plans to reduce global warming, according to a draft report. 

Whether that actually happens is another question. The draft report hints at wiggle room. One section argues that improvements in road “speed and smoothness of traffic flow” can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not what happened when Los Angeles designed smooth freeways that simply attracted more driving and traffic jams. 

Another section of the task force’s draft calls for “flexibility” in greenhouse rules to reflect local “aspirations.” Springfield was dead set against the earlier global warming bill. A Eugene staff push to lobby against reducing global warming was blocked by a 5-4 tie council vote broken by the mayor. 

The powerful Oregon Department of Transportation has also shown little interest in actually doing anything about global warming. ODOT is in the process of widening freeways in Eugene and throughout the state and has pushed for a 12-lane, $3 billion freeway bridge over the Columbia River.

Previous efforts at reducing driving through the RTPs for livability, health and saving money have floundered. A decade ago cities balked at a tough rule requiring a reduction in driving per capita (VMT), and it was eliminated. 

Although much depends on how it’s enforced, the draft task force report does contain strong arguments for immediate action. The report cites studies of the “extensive and destructive” likely impacts of climate change on Oregon’s environment, not to mention an estimated $3.3 billion in projected annual costs from climate change in Oregon. Alan Pittman

 

Did DeFazio Flip-Flop on Jail?

Jail deputies used a letter from Congressman Peter DeFazio to bludgeon Lane County Commissioners for not immediately spending federal timber money on hiring back laid-off deputies earlier this year.

DeFazio’s letter warned that not spending the money on the jail now could hurt efforts to get more federal timber money. 

So where did commissioners get the idea that they should be so fiscally conservative with the money?

Well, perhaps from DeFazio himself. For a November 2008 article, DeFazio told Eugene Weekly: “If I were a county commissioner, I would be extraordinarily conservative with these funds as they come in, and I would put as much of it as I could away.” 

Audio of the full interview is online at tiny.cc/DeFaziojail  (the quote comes in after about two minutes).

DeFazio noted in the interview that rising federal deficits will make the timber payments money harder to pass in the future. That appears to be happening right now.

An Associated Press investigation this week made the timber payments a prime target for cuts. The AP found that efforts to pass the timber money by spreading the pork has converted the program into a “sprawling entitlement” with little fiscal logic.

If timber payments don’t continue, the jail could now face a precipitous drop in funding rather than having a reserve to cushion a transition.  Alan Pittman

 

UO MINOR IN WAR STUDIES?

The UO’s Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is taking the initial steps to add a military science minor to the UO’s course catalogue in the coming academic years, according to Lt. Col. Thomas Lingle, professor of military science.

“There are many students that already take these classes; it would be nice if they could walk away with a minor,” he said. “Whether you are someone who just happens to take cadet courses or if you are looking into being a cadet, having this minor is beneficial.”

However, some students are speaking out against this new addition. When the UO Student Senate voted to pass a resolution declaring support for this addition, student Sen. Tyler Griffin protested against the university incorporating the ROTC, an institution that enforces the U.S. military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell (DADT) policy, in its curriculum.

“The idea of a policy implemented in order to require people to deny who they are and how they want to express themselves is the antithesis to what our military purports to fight for: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Griffin said. “Why would we, as university students, pay to take classes that discriminate against our personal lives?”

The DADT measure is a federal law passed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton prohibiting gay men and lesbians from openly serving in the military. This mandate was a compromise from a previous policy that completely barred all gays from military service. 

Although the DADT policy is enforced within the university’s ROTC program, Lingle did not believe that this is an indication of discriminatory practices against university students. “We follow the current policy because it is the law,” he said. “However, any student at the university would be able to obtain this minor and take these 100-200 level classes whether there is military service involved or not.”

Christopher Holman, Army veteran and current Arabic instructor at the UO, did not see the university incorporating a military science minor as conducive to its sanctioning of the DADT policy. “I don’t see why one shouldn’t exist if it’s already a de facto minor,” he said. “It is a body of ideas, however unpopular, and similar to other fields in that regard.”

According to Lingle, it will likely take at least two years until the Military Science Department has its own accredited minor. The proposal for this addition is in its initial stages and is still subject to review at several levels of the university’s administration. — Deborah Bloom

 

CLEARCUTS AND CARBON

Saving endangered species or clearcuts for kids? The State Land Board, made up of Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ben Westlund, went on a tour of the Elliott State Forest last week led by the Oregon Department of Forestry. 

The Elliott is a rare native ecosystem in Oregon’s Coast Range that is home to several species listed under the Endangered Species Act including spotted owls, marbled murrelets and Oregon Coast coho salmon. It is also part of the Common School Fund lands that are logged to generate money for Oregon’s schools. 

“I’m a proud parent, and I want money for schools, but not at the expense of the Elliott,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. 

Cascadia Wildlands was not originally invited on the tour but asked to come along after they were notified of the plans. Along with other conservation groups, they followed the official state SUVs in their own cars.

Louise Solliday, Department of State Lands director, said the tour was publicly noticed via an email list and organized by the DSL and ODF to show the State Land Board “the issues being addressed on the ground, particularly as they relate to the draft Habitat Conservation Plan and the management strategies proposed in the plan.”

Cascadia Wildlands has a lawsuit against the 1995 HCP, the plan under which the forest was logged this summer. That plan included “incidental take” permits for spotted owls and marbled murrelets. Incidental take in this case is a euphemism for ESA listed species that are killed or lose habitat due to logging. 

The lawsuit says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to reconsider the impacts of logging the forest’s old-growth trees on the northern spotted owl in light of new information showing the owl is facing increased threats. “Owl populations are plummeting,” Laughlin said.

ODF has been working to create a new Habitat Conservation Plan, but according to Laughlin, “It’s looking like the new HCP might not happen.” The new HCP, he said, faces criticism from the NOAA Fisheries Service for fish buffers that are too small and would not protect salmon from the effects of logging.

The State Land Board heard “invited testimony from a number of interests that will provide a range of views about future management about the forest,” during its Dec. 8 meeting, Solliday said. The earliest the board would make a recommendation about the forest would be at its February meeting, she said. 

Cascadia Wildlands would like the SLB to consider “a whole new vision for the Elliott, looking at the older rainforest through a carbon lens,” Laughlin said. In a similar vein to what Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson has proposed for generating county money from federal forest lands, Laughin said his group proposes that, among other non-clearcut options, the Elliott could be used as part of a carbon cap-and-trade program. 

“I’m not necessarily pro cap-and-trade,” Laughlin said, “but I’d absolutely consider carbon among options that don’t consist of clearcutting the Elliott for schools.” — Camilla Mortensen

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

• An open house for the Walnut Station Mixed Use Center is planned for 5:30 to 7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 10, at the Eugene Public Library Bascom/Tykeson Room. A draft of the city Planning Division’s final recommendations for the area will be available for review and comments, and can be found at www.eugene-or.gov/walnut or call 682-5485.

Eugene Media Action is holding its free annual general meeting and the showing of two films at 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 10, upstairs at Growers Market, 454 Willamette St. The films are Independent Media in a Time of War featuring Amy Goodman, and Let’s Put the Public Back into Public Broadcasting. Contact David Zupan at zupandavid@gmail.com

Beyond War Eugene is hosting an open house celebrating the opening of an office in downtown Eugene, from 12:30 to 4 pm Friday, Dec. 11, at 30 E. Broadway #151, which is down the alley behind Pacific University, Adam’s Sustainable Table and Café Maroc. The group is working “to move the world beyond war in this century,” says volunteer Anne Milhollen. “We’ll present the Library Project, a national project that focuses on the books, films and discussions that support the values that will carry us beyond war — that war is obsolete, that we are all one, interconnected and interdependent on this planet, and that the means we use determine the ends we achieve — wars beget more wars.” Email bweugene@beyondwar.org

• A vigil and educational outreach for single-payer health insurance is planned for noon Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Eugene Public Library downtown. Sponsored by the Industrial Workers of the World and Health Care for All Oregon. Contact info: iconoclasmo.scott@gmail.com A follow-up organizational gathering of the Single Payer Action Committee is planned for 7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 16, upstairs at Grower’s Market, 454 Willamette St.

Doctors Without Borders is showing a documentary film Living in Emergency at 8 pm Monday, Dec. 14, at Cinemark 17 at the Gateway Mall in Springfield. Ticket prices vary by location, from $10 to $12.50. The screening will include a live simulcast town hall discussion broadcast from the Skirball Center stage in New York to 444 cinemas in 47 states. 

• A free movie, Secret of Oz, will be shown at 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 15, at Cozmic Pizza, 8th and Charnelton. The film, about “taking back financial control of the U.S. from the banksters” is sponsored by the Industrial Workers of the World and Eugene Springfield Solidarity. Contact info: iconoclasmo.scott@gmail.com

• The film Occupation 101 about the Palestinian struggle will be shown at 8:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 17, at Cozmic Pizza. The event is a fundraiser for LCC student activist Michael King, who is one of about 500 activists from around the world who will be traveling to Gaza to join the Dec. 31 Gaza Freedom March. Donations can be made at apps.facebook.com/causes/389302

• Eugene’s Climate and Energy Action Plan brought together a group of professionals and residents Dec. 1 to talk about land use and transportation. Strategies were discussed for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing fossil fuel use and preparing for changes in climate. Future discussions are on consumption and waste Jan. 6, health and social services Feb. 4, and natural resources March 4. The meetings run from 6 to 9 pm at the EWEB community meeting room, 500 E. 4th Ave. More information at www.sustaineugene.com/eugeneclimate

 

 

 

 

SLANT

• It looks like the Eugene police auditor does not want the Taser incident involving a Chinese student to become a community impact case like the Tasing of Ian Van Ornum that is still unresolved. We hear the Chinese students are OK with a more speedily closed case as long as issues of excessive force are closely examined. Unlike the Van Ornum case, there’s not a lot of evidence to investigate. And the outcome of either kind of case is likely the same. Our new auditor and Civilian Review Board merely shrug at outrageous police behavior.

This case is not going away soon. A tort notice against the city is likely to be filed within 180 days of the incident, which happened Sept. 22. KVAL-TV has been denied the few seconds of video footage from the Taser’s camera, but we hear there’s not much to see, and the Tasered student doesn’t want the video of him writhing in his underwear to go public. Meanwhile a fascinating Tim Lewis interview with outgoing CRB member Rick Brissenden is now posted on www.youtube.com/user/PictureEugene In that interview Brissenden talks about why he was ousted by the council. He figures he offended some councilors by telling them their unwarranted restrictions on former auditor Dawn Reynolds violated her charter-mandated independence. He is right, of course.

• Will passing the two state tax measures in January mean a net loss of jobs in Oregon or a net gain? That appears to be the big debate so far, at least as defined by the opponents of Measures 66 and 67. But the job loss numbers being batted around by various economists are just speculation based on questionable assumptions. Several variables are being mostly ignored in this narrow debate: Matching federal funding (and the jobs that go with it) will be lost if Oregon cuts back on social services; high-skilled state jobs will be lost with additional budget cuts; and further diminishing of public safety, education and health and human services will make Oregon a less desirable place to live, work and do business for many years to come. 

The argument can easily be made that failure to pass Measures 66 and 67 will be “job-killing” in the long run. We don’t really know, so let’s move on to other issues. For example, is it fair for two-thirds of corporations that do business in Oregon to pay only $10 a year in state income taxes? Is it fair for Oregon businesses with sales that are all outside of Oregon to pay no state income taxes? Is it really unfair to ask the wealthiest 2.5 percent of Oregon’s population to pay 1 or 2 percent more in state income taxes?

The people we elected to the Oregon Legislature put a remarkable amount of work into coming up with a modest tax plan that makes sense for Oregon in these difficult times. Let’s not let simplistic arguments wreck a commonsense plan and endanger our state’s long-term vitality.

Time to wear a gas mask along with a scarf? Cold weather and temperature inversions this week have triggered the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency to issue a “yellow” home heating advisory, restricting the burning of wood stoves at a time when home heating needs are the highest of the year. Our air is so bad that even folks up in the south hills can smell the particulates from local wood product mills down in the valley. LRAPA recently approved a permit for even more pollution from a Seneca biomass generator. We’re pleased to see the Oregon Toxics Alliance continue to stand up and challenge an industrial plant that will only add to our valley’s deadly poor air quality.

• President Obama’s plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan puts progressives in a bind. Do we support him or fight him? Obama has always backed the Afghanistan war, so his continued support is consistent. The escalation is disturbing, particularly since Afghanistan has always been a bloody quagmire for any occupying force. Now Pakistan complicates the region’s instability. And billions of our shrinking national treasure are being blown up (literally) in the Mideast. So what’s a leftie to do? Well, we can support Obama on health care, finance reform, climate action, diplomacy and other progressive issues; and at the same time protest loudly against the folly of military intervention as our predominant foreign policy. We’re skeptical that Obama can pull off positive outcomes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq; but he’s certainly putting more thoughtful deliberation into it than his predecessor who got us into these messes.



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

 

 

KELLY CRANE

A military brat, Kelly Crane spent most of her childhood abroad and felt culture shock when her father retired to Little Rock, Ark. “I finished high school early and came to Oregon,” says Crane, who did return to Fayetteville for degrees in philosophy, but came back, settled here, waited tables at Mazzi’s for years, earned a UO teaching credential and taught in Creswell. She was laid off, got married, and home-schooled her son Jesse through the 1990s. “Giving back to the community has always been important to me,” says Crane, who volunteered for years as an advocate for abused children and kids in foster care. With her son off to college and her marriage ending in 2006, Crane carpooled to Portland once a week for two years to complete an MSW from PSU. She was hired as a mental health therapist by Looking Glass Youth & Family Services, where she’d served a year as an intern. “I found my calling,” she says. “Half my caseload is juvenile sexual offenders. I also work with trauma victims.” A 25-year volunteer at the Oregon Country Fair, Crane has coordinated the Teen Crew for 20 years. “It’s an apprenticeship program for youth,” she says. “They rotate to different crews and learn what it takes to put the fair on.”