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Eugene Weekly : News : 2.11.10





News Briefs:
Turmoil Continues Within Pacifica Forum | Drill Rigs Off Shore? | UO to Ban the Bottle? | Riverfront Meetings | LTD Plans Hearings, Open Houses | Bike Crashes Injure Hundreds | Hey Valentine, Care to Stop Breeding? | League to Celebrate 90 Years | Millrace Goes Green | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | War Dead

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

News:

A Local 66/67?


Local taxes on rich/corporations could pass

News:

Under the Façade


Is there historic treasure beneath Taco Time?

 


 

TURMOIL CONTINUES WITHIN PACIFICA FORUM

Three core Pacifica Forum (PF) members have threatened to quit the group over founder Orval Etter’s decision last week to replace speaker Barry Sommer with white supremacist Jimmy Marr on Feb. 12. The meeting begins at 5 pm at Agate Hall.

Pacifica Forum protestors Feb. 5th

Sommer, Billy Rojas and Valdas Anelauskas announced Feb. 5 that they would sever their relations with PF if Etter did not rescind his decision. Rojas wrote that several members “are fearful that a Marr presentation will provoke an extreme reaction against not only him, but Pacifica.” However, within a day, Sommer decided to stay in PF and Rojas hedged his position, claiming he’d remain a “provisional” member but “personally dissociate” himself from Marr.

Regarding the internal squabble, Etter said Feb. 5 that he was unaware of any disruption in membership and had no intention of altering course. As for Marr’s presentation, Etter saw nothing controversial in his topic, “Can Myths Harm Indigenous Peoples?”

Rojas countered, “It’s a safe bet Jimmy will not be trying to make a point about the effects of British story-telling upon natives in New Guinea. One guess is that he might use as a theme ‘Zionist myths’ and the harm they supposedly cause to Aryans in Western cultures — this would be consistent with his worldview.”

Marr’s last engagement in December sparked weeks of intense protests, UO policy reviews and emotional student Senate confrontations. During Marr’s lecture in the EMU Walnut Room, a half dozen neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) members from around Oregon shouted “Sieg Heil” in unison prior to showing slides and a video of NSM rallies. On Jan. 15, Marr stormed out of a debate between himself and Rojas on the significance of swastikas. That meeting was in Agate Hall, a change in venue instituted by UO administrators because of safety concerns at the EMU. Marr’s only utterance that day was to shout another series of “Sieg Heils” as he left. 

Marr’s talk Feb. 12 promises more of the same as NSM members are planning to return to the UO campus in support of his presentation. Rojas said, “Jimmy wants NSM people to be on the scene … no idea what (their) plans consist of, but these ‘visitors’ will assuredly have an agenda.”

In an email circulated among PF members, Marr denies any such intent. “I have gleaned that [Rojas’] latest obsession concerns some hypothetical relationship that might exist between my upcoming presentation and National Socialist Movement. There is none. ... I intend to present material of a wholly unrelated matter. The fact that a few members of NSM have expressed an interest in attending my lecture is not an indication that any material I will be presenting has any bearing on NSM or vice-versa. Least of all should the leap of logic be made that I will be ‘recruiting’ for NSM.”

Many are not convinced. Sommer, who had intended to speak about “the Holocaust Denial Industry” on Feb. 12, told EW that he, Rojas and Anelauskas, all of whom claim to be opposed to totalitarianism in any form, do not want PF or themselves painted with the same fascist brush as Marr seems intent upon doing. 

Rojas has stated that all PF content decisions are vetted solely by Etter, “who has a 51 percent vote,” and that Etter is currently acceding to Marr’s influence alone. Rojas, Anelauskas and Sommer expressed concern that a volatile mix on Feb. 12 of neo-Nazis shouting Sieg Heils, student leftists and “militant anarchists” will not benefit Pacifica. According to Rojas, Marr plans to darken Agate Hall in order to show films and slides, which, “if past presentations are any indication, will likely have white supremacist and anti-Semitic themes.” — Joseph A. Lieberman

 

Drill rigs off shore?

Oregon’s ban on offshore drilling for oil and gas expired Jan. 2 and opponents to ocean oil drilling are working to have a new moratorium put into place by the state Legislature. Oregon has jurisdiction over the first three nautical miles off the coast; after that, the federal government regulates drilling. 

The Oregon House passed a bill to ban drilling for the next 10 years on Feb. 8. The bill moves next to the Senate. There is currently a federal moratorium in place for offshore drilling off the Oregon Coast, but current climate legislation in Congress could change that, says Brock Howell of Environment Oregon. He says a state ban sends a message to the federal government that Oregonians don’t want drilling in their coastal waters.

Supporters of a moratorium on drilling, which include fishermen as well as conservation groups, say that that the risks associated with drilling include air pollution, toxic chemicals, industrial waste and negative affects on fish populations. According to Environment Oregon, “oil rigs have a 95 percent chance of some kind of oil spill.”

Oil and gas drilling is not a big industry in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries says though permits for 500 oil and gas wells have been issued over the years, including 11 in Lane County, the state currently has no producing oil wells, though it does have almost 100 natural gas wells. Though exploratory wells were drilled in federal waters off the Oregon Coast in the 1960s, there are no current oil or gas wells off the coast in state or federal waters. 

However, proponents of drilling say that new technologies could change that and don’t want Oregon to shut itself off from a potential new industry. Howell says such drilling could negatively affect the Oregon Coast’s $1.2 billion tourism and fishing industry. “The last thing we need to do is ruin our coast,” he says. 

Howell says oil drilling is a “conflicting resource activity” with renewable ocean energy sources such as wave and tidal power.

Toby Van Fleet of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which also opposes offshore drilling, says that with all the possible risks to the 200 species of fish in Oregon’s coastal waters, as well as sea birds and mammals, the time to take action on the issue is now “There’s no need to wait until we have the threat of oil drilling.” — Camilla Mortensen

 

UO TO BAN THE BOTTLE?

The UO’s Climate Justice League wants to get rid of all bottled water on the UO campus within a year. The group's most recent action, to have the student Senate pass a motion to ban bottled water by the end of the school term in March, is a first step in replacing bottled water with tap water.

“We are just trying to advocate for a more ethical and responsible way to use student funding,” said Monica Christoffels, PR coordinator of the Climate Justice League. Bottled water is usually sold in vending machines and school stores on campus. Christoffels said, “We’re looking to see if campus catering would stop offering bottled water.”

Part of the Climate Justice League’s efforts to stop the sale of bottled water included a petition from students, asking the student Senate to help stop the sale of bottled water. “We thought it would be really easy to work with the ASUO on this. Karen Kaplan with on-campus recycling has been working on this campaign for a while and has been a great resource for us,” Christoffels said.

Christoffels said that some reasons to switch to tap water are that bottled water is more expensive by volume than gasoline; 85 percent of bottles end up in the trash and Oregon has some of the tastiest and cleanest water in the nation. Eugene’s tap water comes from the McKenzie River. 

Of those who might try to keep bottled water at the UO, Christoffels said, “I don’t think it's just the bottled water suppliers or UO administration. It’s the mindset that it’s a really good consumer product. But really, it’s not necessary. Bottled water is just tap water anyway.”

If you do switch from buying pre-packaged water to filling your container from the tap, watch what you put it in. Concerns over BPA (Bisphenol A) in food and drinking vessels have come to the attention of the Oregon Senate. SB 1032 has been created to prevent the inclusion of BPA in containers containing food or drink intended for children under 3 years of age. The list of side effects of BPA in studies includes the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among other health problems. 

To prevent the consumption of BPA, it’s now recommended that water drinkers use a stainless steel water bottle for their on-the-go drinking needs. Stainless steel is a neutral metal and doesn’t leach into water. However, it’s not so good for coffee — acidic drinks may cause leaching of chemicals. Plastic bottles with a BPA-free sticker are another option, but leaching of other chemicals in plastic may occur. Also, beware of aluminum water bottles with a liner. Aluminum water bottle linings can leach chemicals if scratched or damaged. — Shaun O’Dell

RIVERFRONT MEETINGS

Students and community members are gathering to discuss the Oregon Research Institute’s plan on developing the Riverfront Research Park. The meetings, open to the public, are from 7 to 9 pm Thursdays, Feb. 11 and 18, at the Growers’ Market Building upstairs at 454 Willamette St. 

The newly established Connecting Eugene is “a group of concerned community members who are deeply troubled by the university’s plan stop construct a large parking lot and private office building fronting the Willamette River,” according to its website.

The two Thursday meetings are about generating public dialogue about the role and importance of the Willamette River to the Lane County community and clarifying the logistics of ORI’s proposed building project, including the Riverfront Research Park’s request for a three-year extension of a conditional use permit.

“We are now at a critical decision point not only regarding the ORI project site but regarding the entire stretch of state-owned property,” says Christo Brehm, UO architecture student and member of Connecting Eugene. “Do we want our river filled with private office buildings and parking lots or would we prefer other options more in the line with the public’s interest?” --— Deborah Bloom

 

LTD PLANS HEARINGS, OPEN HOUSES

Lane Transit District (LTD) is planning a series of open houses and public hearings regarding route reductions and ride price increases that are expected to go into effect next fall. 

This year LTD is reducing services due to a decrease in the payroll tax that funds operations. “Payroll and other employment taxes make up approximately 75 percent of LTD’s operating budget, and unfortunately this year’s payroll tax revenues continue to decline due to the poor economy,” according to a notice from LTD.  Passenger fares represent about 20 percent of the resources needed to operate services. LTD is facing a $6 million budget shortfall.

One issue that has not seen much discussion is the relationship between bus rapid transit (BRT) projects and LTD’s operating budget. The new and proposed EmX rapid-transit routes and buses are federally subsidized but require a 20 percent match from LTD, amounting to several million dollars. Can state funds be used for LTD’s match?

A public hearing before the LTD board is at 5:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Eugene Public Library, and at the same time and place Monday, March 8. The board is expected to make final decisions April 21.

Open houses are from 7 am to 4 pm Thursday, Feb. 11, at the LTD Next Stop Project Center, 1099 Olive St. (formerly the police substation); from 7 am to 6 pm Monday, March 1, at the LTD Springfield Station, 355 South A St.; and from 7 am to 4 pm Monday, March 8, at the LTD Next Stop Project Center.

See www.ltd.org for more information, or email ltd@ltd.org with comments. 

BIKE CRASHES INJURE HUNDREDS

Bike crashes killed eight people and injured 701 in Eugene in the last decade, according to city of Eugene data.

Bike crashes were up 15 percent from 61 in 2007 to 70 in 2008 but down from a peak of 89 in 2005. 

In an average year, bike crashes injure about 70 people and kill one in Eugene. Bikes make up about 4 percent of all crashes in Eugene but 10 percent of all reported injuries and 13 percent of all fatalities, according to the data. 

Bike crashes involve injuries 97 percent of the time compared to an overall crash injury rate of 34 percent. The rate of fatalities per reported bike crash is also about four times higher than the overall rate.

City traffic engineer Tom Larsen said the high rate of bike injuries per crash “underscores the importance of sharing the roadway and making good eye-to-eye contact when driving.”

But although more bike crashes appear to involve injuries, bicyclists appear much more likely to avoid crashes altogether. In Eugene about 8 percent of commuters are cyclists according to the U.S. Census, but 4 percent of local crashes involve cyclists. 

It’s also unclear if the injury per crash rate for cyclists is skewed because cyclists may be less likely to report non-injury accidents than motorists who have to make expensive insurance claims.

Bike safety was listed as a major city goal in a Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Plan adopted last year. A high priority part of that goal included identifying unsafe intersections for fixes. The city is launching a bike master plan process to implement the strategic plan. Studies have shown that increasing cyclist safety is a key method of increasing cycling.

The traffic data the city released identified the intersections with the most overall accidents, but did not break out the data for bikes. The worst intersections for overall crash rates were Irving Road/Hunsaker and River Road, followed by Valley River Drive and Valley River Way, and Division Avenue and River Road. Overall, crashes in Eugene are declining with an average of 1,973 total crashes with 675 injuries and six deaths per year.

The city data also included numbers on pedestrian crashes. The city reported 309 pedestrian crashes in the last decade with 19 fatalities. Pedestrian crashes increased from 23 to 25 last year with one fatality but were down from a high of 37 with four fatalities in 2005. About a third of all fatal city accidents involve pedestrians. —Alan Pittman

HEY VALENTINE, CARE TO STOP BREEDING?

CARE hopes to help find Scooter a home: Scooter has no tibia in one leg and a clubfoot on the other, and she scoots along using her front legs.

CARE (Community Animal Relief Effort) would like you to bring your sweetie out dancing on Valentine’s Day to help raise money to stop local beasties from breeding. The $10 a person event at The District runs from 3 to 7 pm and features tunes by members of the Jazz Station, as well as a silent auction with items provided by vendors of Eugene Saturday Market’s Holiday Market.

Debi McNamara founded CARE to help raise funds for spay and neuter services for feral cats and people on a low income who can’t otherwise afford the surgery. CARE is part of the local No-Kill effort.

McNamara says spaying and neutering to reduce the numbers of unwanted pets is a key part of No-Kill advocacy, which attempts to put an end to euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in animal shelters. 

She says that people look down on homeless and low-income pet owners who don’t get their animals fixed, but she says it’s often a situation where “people at poverty level feed a stray cat or dog to help it, and next thing they know, they have a half-dozen cats.” 

McNamara hopes that CARE, through events like this Valentine’s Day jazz benefit, can support low-cost clinics like those at Willamette Animal Guild and Greenhill so that everyone can afford to get their pets fixed. “There’s a whole segment of society that can afford little to nothing,” she says. So go dance, kiss your sweetie and give a little money to stop breeding. For more info go to carespayspets.org — Camilla Mortensen

 

LEAGUE TO CELEBRATE 90 YEARS

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Lane County celebrates the League’s 90th anniversary on Feb. 18. The featured speaker will be Oregon’s first — and only — woman governor, Barbara Roberts.  “Looking Back; Looking Forward” is the title for her speech at 12:15 pm at the Mallard Banquet Hall, 725 West 1st Ave. in Eugene. 

The public is welcome and there is no charge for Roberts’ speech.  A buffet will be available for $10 at 11:45 am. Make reservations by emailing league@lwvlc.org or call 541-343-7917.

On Feb. 14, 1920, suffragists anticipating the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which would give women the right to vote, began preparing to exercise that right by organizing the League of Women Voters, says Nancie Peacoke Fadeley, former state lawmaker and past co-president of the local LWV.   

“To look back is to discover that the League, after study, discussion and reaching consensus on a position, repeatedly supported or opposed major issues of the day, sometimes quite vigorously,” says Fadeley. “Vigor, even bravery, was often necessary because many of those issues were controversial. For example, during the McCarthy era, the League was the target of witch hunts.”

Fadeley says national, state, and local League leaders, including Emily Logan, president of the LWV of Oregon, were called “fellow travelers” and “comsymps,” and reported to the House Un-Americans Activities Committee.   

The League did not back down and in fact went on for decades of organizing support of academic freedom, education and constitutional rights. 

 

MILLRACE GOES GREEN

The fish and nutria of the Willamette River might pee green this week, but it’s not a new Phil Knight scheme in honor of Duck sports. On Feb. 8 the UO reported that a pipe bringing chilled water to the campus zebra fish lab broke, discharging 4,300 gallons of bright dyed-green water that was released into the Millrace, which then empties into the Willamette River. 

Green dye goes down the Millrace. photo: UO Campus operations

The green dye, Cole-Parmer Fluorescent Yellow/Green Dye, “has no harmful effects,” says Julie Brown, of the UO Office of Communications. It is used to detect pipe leaks, and Brown says, the water in this pipe “is always dyed as a proactive measure to quickly identify any leaks that may develop.” 

In concentrated forms, Brown says, the dye can stain the skin, and if consumed, the dye will “produce yellow/green urine.”

According to the Cole-Parmer website, the dye is EPA approved, and safe, non-toxic and biodegradable. 

The dye does contain a 7 percent concentration of fluorescein. According to its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), fluorescein in a concentrated form can be an irritant to the eyes and skin, and to the gastrointestinal tract if ingested. There have been no long-term studies done in fluorescein in animals to determine if it causes cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is also used in medical applications.

The UO increased the amount of water flowing into the Millrace to further dilute the dye before it reached the Willamette.

The spilled water also contained molybdate, which is used to prevent pipe fouling and corrosion. Molybdate, like fluorescein, is listed on its MSDS as an irritant. Its carcinogenic and mutagenic affects on humans and animals are listed as unknown. Both chemicals are commonly used by water treatment facilities and in plumbing applications. — Camilla Mortensen

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

Green Drinks gathering of progressives is from 6 to 8 pm Friday, Feb. 12, at Davis’ Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway. This month is a collaborative event featuring groups from the UO and Helios Resource Network. Jim Wilcox will speak about the sustainable business network Greenlane. See www.greendrinks.org

• Portland’s 9th annual Worst Day of the Year Ride is on Valentine’s Day and is a benefit for the Community Cycling Center. Registration closes at midnight Thursday, Feb. 11. Eugene usually sends a hardy contingency to join the estimated 3,500 bundled-up cyclists. See www.WorstDayRide.com

“Climate in Crisis: A Report Back From Copenhagen” is the topic of a talk by Cascadia Wildlands board member and UO law student Tim Ream at 7 pm Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the EWEB Training Room. Ream recently returned from the international climate summit in Copenhagen, working with Greenpeace International. 

• Registration is now open for the 28th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the UO School of Law Feb. 25-28. Thousands of attorneys, activists, government officials, students and community members will be gathering at the law school and other buildings around campus for the largest conference of its kind. Register and get more information at www.pielc.org

 • The Lane Peace Symposium this year will be Friday, March 5, on the LCC campus. Speakers include activist Tom Hayden, Anita Weiss and Gwynn Kirk. Songwriter Jim Page is also on the schedule. See details at http://wkly.ws/ab

 

LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE

• In Horton near Lake Creek: Jason Klemp (927-3118) will ground spray Triclopyr ester (4E) near Lake Creek at the end of Horton Lane starting Feb. 15 (No. 2010-781-00205). 

• Near Fox Hollow area: Transition Management, Inc. (488-6706) will ground spray or contract to spray 107 acres with Triclopyr Ester, Sulfometuron Methyl, Clopyralid, Hexazinone herbicides plus Forest Crop Oil and non-ionic surfactant adjuvants near Fox Hollow area (tributaries of Doak and Coyote Creeks) starting Feb. 18 (No. 2010-781-00223).

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

 

WAR DEAD  

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

In Iraq

• 4,378 U.S. troops killed* (4,378)

• 31,648 U.S. troops injured** (31,639) 

• 185 U.S. military suicides* (updates NA)

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

• 103,988 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (103,819)

• $705.9 billion cost of war ($704.6 billion) 

• $200.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($200.4 million)

In Afghanistan

• 969 U.S. troops killed* (960)

• 4,923 U.S. troops injured** (4,869)

• $252.5 billion cost of war ($251.2 billion)

• $71.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($71.4 million)

* through Feb. 8, 2010; 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)

 

 

 

 

SLANT

• Eugene’s oldest brick building is hidden beneath a façade at Broadway and Willamette across from Kesey Plaza, and local historian Doug Card writes about it this week on page 11. Eugene has been atrocious at historic preservation, but here is a small opportunity. Steve Master plans to bulldoze the old Taco Time building and erect a contemporary mixed-use building (see News Briefs, 1/14), but his plan relies on city financial help. The original building is likely not salvageable, but the city could require as a condition of financial assistance that Master integrate some architectural elements of the old structure into the new building’s commercial ground floor. Perhaps a brick wall or stone arch could be preserved for public viewing, next to a display of photos of the old building through its various renovations. Otherwise, one more storied element of Eugene’s history will become just a fading page in a book on a shelf.

• Facebook just stole $40 million in future taxes from Oregon’s schoolchildren. The corporation will take advantage of an “enterprise zone” in Prineville to build an energy-sucking server farm with a 15-year break on property taxes in exchange for 35 jobs. That’s an astonishing $1.3 million in subsidy per job! Most of the jobs likely won’t even go to people in Prineville. Real “friends” don’t make other people pay their taxes for them. The state Legislature needs to wake up. Why should hardworking Oregonians pay taxes and stuff their kids in crowded classrooms while the state is shoveling out money for such bogus corporate tax breaks? 

• Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose, affects people in different ways, and is either rare in Oregon or dangerously undiagnosed, depending on which medical professional you consult. Lyme even pops up as one of the puzzling possibilities on the TV series House. Our recent guest columns and letters on Lyme have stirred a passionate response from readers locally and as far away as Anchorage and Bend. We don’t have room in print for all the responses, but Viewpoints on our website this week carry on the debate and include hot links to activist groups, medical sources and published articles. 

• What’s up in the Whiteaker? The neighborhood group is one of the most active in town and meets this Wednesday after we go to press. Hot topics include the proposed EmX route down 13th and along the Amazon Canal, and moving a kids’ playground out in the rain to build a bitchin’ new skatepark under the bridge. Never a dull moment at the Whiteaker Community Council. Check out www.therattler.org

• Swine flu viruses are still out there looking for a home. Can’t blame the little buggers for trying to make a living. We heard from a local MD this week that inhaled flu viruses need to incubate about 48 hours in our sinuses before they can mount an invasion. He recommends flushing sinuses daily with a neti pot during flu season. He says the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want people to know about the prophylactic qualities of warm salt water. Search for neti pots on YouTube for some nasal-boggling demos. We need to learn to take care of ourselves instead of relying on Congress and the medical industry.

• Our nation has been distracted while the death toll for American troops in Afghanistan approaches 1,000 and U.S. deaths in Iraq are close to 4,400, not counting at least 1,100 U.S. contractors. Civilian deaths in Iraq are estimated as high as 1.2 million since our invasion, six times Haiti’s predicted body count. When is it justifiable for any nation to go to war? The question is raised by Daniel C. Maguire, a professor of ethics at Marquette University, at www.consortiumnews.com 

In his recent essay “Opportunity Lost,” Maguire lays out a list of conditions that include: 1) The only just cause for war is defense against an attack, not a preemptive attack on those who might someday attack us; 2) there must be “reasonable surety that the war will succeed in serving justice and making a way to real peace”; 3) state-sponsored violence should be used only as a last resort.; and 4) the violence of war must do more good than harm. “In judging war the impact on other nations and the environment must also be assessed in the balance sheet of good and bad results,” he says.

“This is a hard test for modern warriors to pass,” Maguire says. “Victory in war is an oxymoron. No one wins a war: One side may lose less and may spin that as victory. Obama’s faith in the benefits of warring in three Muslim countries is delusional.”



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