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Eugene Weekly : News : 3.25.10





News Briefs: Fragile Health of Willamette Examined | OLCV Backs Progressive Candidates | Corporate America Not a Person | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Something Euge

News:

Bike to the Future

Enviros chew on political hot potatoes

 


FRAGILE HEALTH OF WILLAMETTE EXAMINED

Coming up next week will be a major discussion of human influence on the health of the Willamette River, providing both its challenges and its opportunities. “Under One Sky, Along One Stream” is the title of a free public program set for 7 pm Wednesday, March 31, at the EWEB building, 500 E. 4th Ave. 

Salmon flags installed along the Sacramento River in Colusa. Photo: The Freshwater Trust 

An additional Sierra Club public program on the health of the McKenzie River is also planned next week (see information below).

The Willamette program “could likely be the most important event of the year” on river issues, according to Kim Carson of The Freshwater Trust (www.freshwatertrust.org), based in Corvallis. Carson says the information provided will be “especially relevant to Eugene residents” since the Willamette flows through downtown and has been a big topic lately. Environmental issues surround the redeveloping of the EWEB industrial property along the river, and the proposed Oregon Research Institute development at the adjacent Riverfront Research Park. 

Panel presenters include Michael Karnosh of the Grand Ronde Tribe; Aaron Borisenko of the DEQ; and professor Stan Gregory of OSU Department of Fish and Wildlife speaking on “Health of the Willamette Basin and Future Projections.” 

Karnosh says he will speak about the cultural connection between the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the salmon of the Willamette River system. He will talk about the many tribes who inhabited the valley, and tell some of their stories. 

“Salmon are used in traditional meals and ceremonies to this day, but unsurprisingly they are much harder to come by than they were in the past,” he says.  He cites dams, overdevelopment and stream contamination and says “the Tribe is struggling with trying to get involved in every one of these reasons. Our modern society tends to deal with this by ‘compartmentalizing’ the problem so that each government agency or authority only deals with one specific problem. What is missing is a ‘unifying theme’ and a way for all these parties to coordinate.”  

Borisenko, quoting from the DEQ’s “Willamette Basin Rivers and Streams Assessment,” says more than two million people live in the Willamette Basin, clustered around its 11,000 miles of rivers and streams. “The basin is the hub of the state’s population and economy with 70 percent of the state’s population, 75 percent of the state’s employment, and 12 percent of the state’s land area,” he says. “The human influence on the river basin’s landscape is significant, creating some of the state’s most challenging water quality issues.”

Borisenko says a 2009 DEQ study found that “land use is a critical factor influencing the health of the rivers and streams of the Willamette.” The document says the protection of fish, amphibians, aquatic insects and water quality is ”strongly dependent on streamside vegetation,” and agricultural use and urbanization put “a considerable strain on the health of the rivers and streams throughout the basin.”

Joe Whitworth, executive director of the Freshwater Trust, will be the moderator of the panel. Nez Perce Elder Roy Hayes Jr. will provide the opening ceremony with a salmon banner river installation. 

The Willamette Basin includes the McKenzie watershed, which provides Eugene’s drinking water along with world-class recreation. A Sierra Club Many Rivers Group presentation on the McKenzie titled “Oregon’s Water — Now and in the Future” by Forest Service research hydrologist Gordon Grant, Ph.D., will be at 7 pm Tuesday, March 30, at Campbell Community Center, 155 High St. (see his discussion of “dinky little dams” in EW 3/18).  — Ted Taylor

 

OLCV BACKS PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) has announced its endorsement of Jerry Rust for Lane County commission Position 1 (West Eugene). In December OLCV endorsed Pat Riggs-Henson for Position 2 (Springfield). Both Rust and Riggs-Henson are running for seats being vacated by current commissioners. Riggs-Henson was also been endorsed last week by the LCC Education Association Political Action Committee.

Non-partisan commission races are on the ballot May 18. If no candidate get a majority of the votes in the primary, the top two will go on to a runoff election in November.

“With the election of Rob Handy in 2008, Lane County voters succeeded in securing a pro-environment majority on the Lane County Commission,” said OLCV Executive Director Jon Isaacs in a press release. “Electing Jerry and Pat will ensure that the commission continues to prioritize conservation values as it grapples with issues of growth, transportation, land use and forest management.”

Rust is running for the seat currently held by Bill Fleenor, who announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election. He faces Jay Bozievich, David William Northey, Fred Starr and Anselmo Villanueva.

Riggs-Henson is running for the seat currently held by Bill Dwyer, who has also announced he will not be running again. Her opponents include Sid Leiken, who recently dropped out of the race against U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Mark Callahan, Patricia Hurley, Joe Pishioneri, Dave Ralston and Micheal E. Tayloe.

No endorsement has yet been made in East Lane County Position 5 currently held by Faye Stewart. Challenging the incumbent are Douglas Bakke, Tom Brandt, Dennis Gabrielson and Gary Kutcher.

Other endorsements so far include Chris Edwards for Senate District 7, Sara Byers for House District 7, Phil Barnhart for House District 11, Nancy Nathanson for House District 13 and Val Hoyle for House District 14. OLCV also favors passage of the Lane County Extension Service Ballot Measure 20-158.

OLCV is gradually updating its list of endorsements at www.olcv.org/endorsements2010 and any candidate seeking an OLCV endorsement must fill out a comprehensive questionnaire covering a variety of relevant environmental issues. Following review of the questionnaire, OLCV volunteer committees conduct face-to-face interviews with each candidate and “consider each candidate’s environmental record and their level of commitment to protecting Oregon’s environmental legacy,” as well as their leadership skills, according to Isaacs. — Ted Taylor

 

CORPORATE AMERICA NOT A PERSON

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has allowed “corporate America” to hijack U.S. democracy, said David Cobb, speaking at PIELC last month. “This ruling has literally legalized corporate bribery.” 

Titled “Campaign to Legalize Democracy: Move to Amend the U.S. Constitution and Abolish Corporate Personhood,” the panel covered the evolution of American democracy and how granting constitutional protection to corporations nullified the power of the American people.  

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was the Supreme Court’s Jan. 21 landmark decision to grant constitutional rights to corporations and define campaign financing as political speech. “However, money isn’t speech; it’s property,” Cobb said. 

Cobb, former 2004 presidential candidate of the Pacific Green Party and current steering committee member of Democracy Unlimited, described the U.S.’s current democratic legal system, where “legislation can be bought and paid for by corporate interests,” as a guise. 

He explained that in the original U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers intended to balance the individual rights of “We the People” with the collective duties of the government. “But that’s not how it works,” Cobb said. “That’s not how it ever worked.” 

Riki Ott, director of the grassroots organization Ultimate Civics, emphasized the incompatibility between individual and corporate values. “Remember, corporations don’t need to breathe clean air,” she said. If corporations can enjoy the freedoms that human beings are guaranteed, then this creates what Ott called a “suicide economy,” where the drives for social and environmental wealth are swallowed by the drive for economic wealth. 

Ott illustrated this with the Exxon Valdeez oil spill, “the most profitable tanker voyage in the history of the planet,” and the resulting $2.5 billion clean-up effort that subsequently boosted Alaska’s GDP. While lobbying in Alaska for greater environmental protection laws, “Legislators would literally tell me ‘why should I listen to you? People in my district went and made money on that,’” she said. 

The panel concluded with the message that Americans must stand up to their state representatives and demand the abolition of corporate personhood.  “The corporation is always, by definition, subject to ‘We the People,’” Cobb said. “When corporations have the same constitutional rights as a person, democracy is illegal.” — Deborah Bloom

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

Rebooting Democracy sponsored by the Oregon Bus Project is March 26-28 in Bend. On the agenda this year are sessions on building multi-racial coalitions, the state of the youth movement in America, “Win-Win-Win Economics,” “Finger-Lickin’ Good Policy,” proactive paths to health equity, and “Bringing Sanity to the Crazy World of Campaign Finance.” Speakers include Larry Lessig, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Lennox Yearwood, Heather Smith and Dave Frohnmayer. Registration for the “Conference for People-Powered Politics” is at http://rebootingdemocracy.com 

• FOOD For Lane County’s annual spring plant sale is from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, March 27 at the GrassRoots Garden on Coburg Road behind St. Thomas Episcopal Church.  FFLC’s Youth Farm has raised hundreds of organically grown vegetable, flower and herb starts for the sale. In addition, 25 local nurseries will be donating plants. Call 343-2822 for more information, or visit www.foodforlanecounty.org

• A Haiti relief benefit concert featuring The Sounds of New Orleans and a buffet will begin at 8 pm Saturday, March 27, at the Vet’s Club on Willamette Street. Musicians include Paul Biondi, Skip Jones, Byron Case, Rick Markstrom and JC Rico. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

• An open bargaining session between School District 4J and the Eugene Education Association will be from 4 to 6 pm Monday, March 29, at the 4J Education Center Parr Room, 200 N. Monroe St. 

• A “Portrait of Life in Iraq” is a free conversation with photojournalist Joel Preston Smith at 6:30 pm Tuesday, March 30, at the Springfield Public Library. Smith is a freelance writer and photographer based in Portland. 

• A public discussion of “The Future of Peer Run Mental Health Programs in Lane County will be from 5 to 7 pm Tuesday, March 30, at the Eugene Public Library Tykeson Room. Shelia Thomas and Marcia Evans of Lane Independent Living Alliance will talk about a new LILA Peer Support Club.

• An online art auction in support of Haiti relief wraps up March 31 at http://wkly.ws/fw The auction is organized by OSU alumni, students and Corvallis community members. An earlier auction raised about $1,000, according to organizer Daron Jackson. “We’ve got a much greater variety of art this time around, with painting, printmaking, wooden sculptures and metalwork as well as photography,” he says. “The sculpture and metalwork were created by Haitian artists in the ‘60s, and have been cherished for years by a local couple. Many of the contributing artists are OSU alumni or current students.”

 

WAR DEAD

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

In Iraq

• 4,389 U.S. troops killed* (4,386)

• 31,732 U.S. troops injured** (31,716) 

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

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

• 104,382 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (104,313)

• $712.8 billion cost of war ($712.1 billion) 

• $202.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($202.5 million)

In Afghanistan

• 1.014 U.S. troops killed* (1,011)

• 5,264 U.S. troops injured** (5,190)

• $260.0 billion cost of war ($257.5 billion)

• $74.0 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($73.2 million)

* through March 19, 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)

 

Lane Area Herbicide Spray Scedule

• Near Hamm Road: Western Helicopter Services (503) 538-9469 will aerially spray for Giustina (345-2301) on 65 acres with 2,4-D LV6, Oust, Velpar, Transline herbicides near Hawley Creek starting March 29 (No. 781-00349).

• Near Lookout Point Reservoir: Western for Giustina (as above) will aerially spray 466 acres near Lookout Point Reservoir, Ennis, Gulley, E. Gossage, Winberry, Solomon, S. Fork Gate, and Mohawk River tributaries with herbicides (No. 771-00391).

• Near Lorane Elementary School: Oregon Forest Management (896-3757) will ground spray for Fruit Growers Supply (345-0996) on 33 acres with Garlon XRT near Norris Creek tributaries starting March 24 (No. 781-00336).

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

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

• In our March 11 “Nesting” story about Kurt Jensen’s “little houses,” the correct name of his business is Cascade Small House Company, and his houses sell for about $100 a square foot, depending on material costs.

 

 

 

SLANT

Spending on UO athletics continues to amaze. Why is Mike Bellotti getting a jaw-dropping $2.3 million golden parachute for bailing out of his short-term flight as athletic director? Even some die-hard Duck fans are grumbling about the latest string of scandals involving UO athletics, from elite facilities for jocks to the criminal antics of football players to outrageous salaries and payoffs. What will it cost to replace Bellotti and coach Ernie Kent? Will there be a full and open search as required by state law? Then there’s the scary $200 million loan from the state to build the new basketball arena. We love watching and cheering on the Ducks, but the true heroes on campus are the people teaching and doing academic research, and they should be our university’s focus and funding priority. Our future is driven not by what happens on the field or the court but rather by what happens in the classroom and the lab.

• Passage in Congress of a major piece of health care reform is a mixed bag. The legislation resolves hundreds of pesky issues, but maintains and even strengthens our bloated and corrupt health insurance industry. Mandatory health insurance will become a huge source of contention in the coming months and years; and it only makes sense because Congress is not willing to subsidize all health care with federal income and corporate taxes. We can and should fight for a public option next, but the logical long-term solution to our health care funding crisis is public insurance with a private option, and investment in preventing illness. In Canada, single-payer health insurance was forced on the nation by the provinces. In the U.S., single-payer will need to rise from the states. 

• The educational piece of the new legislation passed by the House this week is hardly getting any attention. The reconciliation bill passed by the House is called the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act. This bill, if it passes in the Senate, will end the sweet deal commercial banks get with student loans. Republicans are calling this a “government takeover of student loans,” but taxpayers already supply all the money and guarantees for federal student loans, while banks assume no risk and make out like bandits on the interest. True conservatives should rejoice since the bill will reduce our deficit by billions and help students.

• Congressman Peter DeFazio made us cringe a bit last week when he threatened to vote against health care reform after he discovered that Medicare equity was cut from the reconciliation bill. Was he bluffing? Probably, but his threat got a pledge of action from the White House, and Oregon doctors will hopefully see higher reimbursements for their Medicare patients. Go Pete!

• More kudos to DeFazio for voting this month for a resolution to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Unfortunately the U.S. House resolution was defeated 356-65. President Obama needs to wake up about this quagmire. The U.S. has spent the lives of more than a thousand U.S. soldiers and countless tens of thousands of Afghans, and spent $260 billion in almost a decade in Afghanistan with no end in sight, and we are no safer. Fanatical children of Saudi Arabian oil barons, not goat herders in Afghanistan, drove the 9/11 suicide hijackers.

• The seventh anniversary of the Iraq War was March 20 and passed without much notice. Bush advisor Karl Rove is still trying to defend this catastrophe. He claimed on national TV last week that the sacrifices were worth deposing Saddam Hussein. Really? The war so far has cost the lives of 4,389 U.S. military personnel, more than 1,100 U.S. contractors, and siphoned off more than $712 billion of our national treasure. Nearly 32,000 American soldiers have been seriously injured and many are maimed for life. In Iraq, the loss of lives, property and infrastructure is beyond comprehension. An estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have died as a result of our invasion and the civil war that followed. And our occupation has made countless new enemies. 

We agree with Ramparts Editor David Horowitz that the invasion of Iraq was the “worst decision by a U.S. president in history.” And we are still there.

• We listed a bunch of local business lead groups in this column March 11, and we asked if any were left out. We heard this week from David Fried of GreenLane Sustainable Business Network. He says GreenLane is “a membership organization providing education, resources, networking, and marketing for sustainability.” Next meeting is noon Wednesday, March 31, at Mallard Hall, 1st and Madison. Cost for lunch is $10. Contact david@printgreen.com or just show up. The presentation is on Ninkasi Brewery.

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