News Briefs: Hemp Activist, Author Jack Herer Remembered | Penny Poll Points Out Priorities | Ellsberg Film Producer Here for Opening | City's Tax Diversion Illegal? | Food Security Town Hall III | Immigrants Rally for Reform | EW Offices Close Early | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | War Dead
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Rubble to Raised Beds
Ann Bettman’s strategy for the Courthouse Garden
Fire Merger Charges Ahead
Administrative coup flaunts public process
HEMP ACTIVIST, AUTHOR JACK HERER REMEMBERED
Internationally known cannabis and hemp activist and author Jack Herer died of natural causes in Eugene Thursday, April 15. Few details are available at this time, but Herer, 70, had been seriously ill for the past year and had spent time in a nursing home before family and friends moved him into a private home where he spent his final days.
He is survived by his wife, Jeannie; two sons, Barry and Mark; and a daughter in Eugene, Chanci. The family is planning a service from 1 to 3 pm April 25 at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, Calif. See www.jackherer.com for updates on a possible local gathering in his memory.
Herer was featured several times on the cover of High Times magazine. He is author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana, a widely read exposé on government suppression of the benefits of both cannabis and hemp. The book has been updated several times and has served as a major reference for activists seeking to legalize cannabis. He also co-authored several other books on drugs and politics.
“Thank you everybody for all of your love and support throughout the years, especially these last few months,” wrote Jeannie Herer on the website. “Jack and I really felt it and appreciate it very much. The last few weeks, Jack has been home and in a very loving and healing environment. The people here in Eugene were incredibly supportive every step of the way. Jack really felt the love.”
Please feel free to contribute your memories of Jack Herer on our blog at blogs.eugeneweekly.com — Ted Taylor
PENNY POLL POINTS OUT PRIORITIES
Peace activists gathered outside at the Eugene downtown post office on Tax Day, April 15, to call for the re-ordering of federal spending priorities from supporting war to meeting human and environmental needs.
Passersby were invited to participate in an annual “penny poll.” Participants were handed 10 pennies, which they could deposit in jars representing six categories of the federal budget, indicating their spending priorities. Participants numbered 116 and here’s how they voted. For comparison, the first number is 2009’s results, the second number is this year.
“About 58 percent of the budget appropriated by Congress for this fiscal year will go to fund the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and other military programs,” says Michael Carrigan of CALC, which organized the Tax Day event again this year. “The penny poll results clearly indicate that if Eugene residents ran the federal government things would be significantly different — their tax dollars would be funding social and environmental programs and not endless war. “
• Human resources: 45 %, 50 %
• Physical resources: 31 %, 25.5 %
• General government: 12 %, 12 %
• Interest on national debt: 5.5 %, 9 %
• Military: 3.5 %, 2 %
• Iraq and Afghan wars: 3 %, 1.5 %
ELLSBERG FILM PRODUCER HERE FOR OPENING
Local peace groups are bringing the co-director of an Academy Award nominated documentary to Eugene for its opening weekend beginning April 23 at the Bijou Theatre. At the 5 pm and 7 pm benefit screenings on Friday and Saturday, Judith Erlich will briefly introduce her film The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
David Edelstein with New York Magazine called it “Riveting! A straight-ahead, enthralling story of moral courage. This story changed the world. The movie offers one revelatory interview after another!”
Ehrlich also co-produced and co-directed the ITVS documentary, The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It, a story of men guided by principle to take the unpopular position of pacifism in the face of World War II.
Erlich, who has family in Eugene, will be the guest speaker at fundraising receptions next door to the Bijou at the new Rock Java Coffeehouse. Doors will open to ticket holders following the 7 pm screenings. Tickets are $25 in advance, and proceeds will benefit Beyond War and Eugene Media Action.
City’s Tax Diversion Illegal?
State law may throw a wrench in the city of Eugene’s complicated urban renewal plan to divert $22 million (including borrowing costs) from state school funding, the county and other government services.
The city may have broken the law by not already terminating its Downtown Urban Renewal District (URD), according to ORS 457.450.
The state law requires that after a URD has diverted sufficient funds to pay off its planned indebtedness “all moneys remaining unexpended ... shall be turned over to the county treasurer by the agency and prorated by the treasurer back to the taxing districts” that they were diverted from.
The city has stated in memos and budget documents that it had enough money in its downtown district to pay off its indebtedness at least a year ago.
If the city is forced to terminate its downtown URD, it would be very difficult to create a new district with a large revenue stream. The current revenue is calculated based on increases in assessed value over a “frozen base” from 1968. A new district would have a new frozen base of 42 years later and little incremental revenue.
Former city councilor Bonny Bettman McCornack, an opponent of tax diversion, has raised the issue with the city in written testimony, and with the county, which stands to lose millions of dollars from the city’s plan to continue diverting taxes.
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson said the county may discuss the legal issue with its lawyer at a closed “executive session” this Thursday, April 22. State law allows closed meetings “with regard to current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.” Sorenson said the county counsel will advise whether the meeting can be in closed session and whether litigation is likely.
Sorenson said the city has decided to divert the county revenue without asking the county’s permission or agreement on what the money should be spent on. “That’s not fair.”
Sorenson said he’d like the city to include paying down the county’s debt on its public health building so the county can recoup the roughly $183,000 a year it will lose to the city’s tax diversion plan.
That could allow more funds for the county’s critical health services to the needy, according to Sorenson. The county is struggling to fund basic services with declining or ending federal timber revenue. In two years, “we are currently facing a radical cut.”
The county has referred a $1.2 million tax levy to fund OSU extension services to the ballot for next month. But after Eugene voters overwhelmingly defeated a Downtown URD measure two years ago, the city has refused to put this $22 million urban renewal plan on the ballot.
The city wants to divert taxes using urban renewal to increase police department spending. The plan also includes $10 million for moving and expanding LCC’s existing building downtown. The council voted 6-2 against funding LCC immediately using city revenue that would be freed up by ending urban renewal. — Alan Pittman
FOOD SECURITY TOWN HALL III
The third in a series of food security town halls will address the health outcomes and impacts of diet-related illnesses; creating a resilient, food secure community in the aftermath of a natural disaster; rebuilding the local food system to address regional food security; what local elected officials can do to aide in the process; and provide information on local programs and projects addressing food security in Lane County.
The free event will be from 6:30 to 8 pm Wednesday, April 28, at Harris Hall, 125 E 8th Ave. in Eugene. The event is sponsored by County Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy, and Mayor Kitty Piercy. Panelists so far include:
• Dan Armstrong, a novelist and editor of the local website Mud City Press, and a member of the Lane County Food Policy Council and the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project.
• Linda Cook, emergency manager with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office and specialist in emergency preparedness and creating a resilient community in the face of natural disasters.
• Megan Kemple, Farm to School Program coordinator with the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition (WFFC), a community based nonprofit committed to developing a more secure and sustainable food system within Lane County.
• Laurie Trieger, executive director of Lane County Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY), a nonprofit, community advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention of childhood obesity and related diseases.
IMMIGRANTS RALLY FOR REFORM
|CAUSA mebers and supporters hold a vigil outside DeFazio's home April 17|
CAUSA Oregon is trying to get the word out in Eugene about the need for immigration reform. Ranfis Villatoro, organizer for CAUSA (Oregon’s Immigrant Rights Coalition) says current immigration policies are “breaking up families, but not really fixing the problems.”
CAUSA has put on several recent events to draw attention to a bill in Congress that supporters say would resolve many of the issues with immigration, from families split apart due to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, to the exploitation of workers and security issues at the border.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR-ASAP) Act of 2009 (HR 4321) was introduced in December, and Villatoro says among its 95 co-sponsors is Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Villatoro says that while at least five of Oregon’s congressional representatives have committed to working to pass reform legislation, CAUSA has not gotten any support from Rep. Peter DeFazio.
DeFazio says, “My staff and I have met numerous times with leaders in the pro-immigrants rights community both in my Washington and Eugene offices. I believe it is imperative my office be accessible and have an open ear to all constituents, even if we don’t agree on all aspects of proposed legislation.”
CAUSA has been canvassing door-to-door and hosting rallies. Villatoro says a recent rally in downtown Eugene drew 400 participants but didn’t receive media coverage. On April 17, CAUSA hosted a prayer vigil at DeFazio’s house in Springfield with over 80 participants mainly from St. Alice Catholic Church of Springfield and St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Eugene, according to Villatoro. The vigil featured song and prayer, and participants held candles and signs calling on DeFazio to support HR 4321.
Villatoro says, “People from his neighborhood came out and supported us.” He says one neighbor even used his car to provide additional lighting.
DeFazio responded saying, “No political organization has crossed the line and conducted a ‘vigil’ or any other political activity at my home except for Jim Feldkamp’s campaign six years ago. I have an office; this type of political activity is best directed there.” Feldkamp was a Republican challenger to DeFazio’s congressional seat in 2004.
“The immigrant community is going to come out and let DeFazio know where they stand,” Villatoro says, despite fears on the part of many of the vigil’s participants that their speaking out could result in them being arrested and deported.
“A lot of people in the immigrant community can no longer wait,” says Villatoro. “They’re doing it for their families, and they turned out in the face of that fear.” For more information on HR 4321 and upcoming CAUSA events, go to causaoregon.org — Camilla Mortensen
EW OFFICES CLOSE EARLY
The offices at EW will close at noon Friday, April 23, for building maintenance work. The normal 5 pm Friday deadline for reserving display advertising space will be delayed until noon Monday, April 26. Questions? Call 484-0519.
• Eugene designer Robert Bolman will talk on “Embracing the Inevitable — Humankind’s Reluctant Yet Certain Transition to Sustainability” at 7 pm Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, at Tsunami Books.
• Dennis Dimick, executive editor for the environment at National Geographic magazine, will give this year’s free Tom McCall Memorial Lecture on, “Changing Planet: Where Energy and Climate Collide,” at 7 pm Thursday, April 22, at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus. Dimick, a 1973 OSU graduate, will lead the audience in a visual journey and in-depth report drawn from NG features and the most recent scientific reports documenting the effects of climate change. He’ll also explore what members of the public can do to reverse troubling climate change trends.
• Sarah Palin plans to speak at a Republican-only dinner at the Eugene Hilton at 6:45 pm Friday, April 23, with the social hour beginning at 5 pm. MindFreedom International is organizing a nonviolent “guerilla theater” protest and skit across the street from the Hilton. YouTube artist and youth leader Martin Rafferty will coordinate videotaping and posting clips from the Palin protest event.
• Also during the Sarah Palin visit will be the “Lane Bus/Women for Change Pre-Palin Red Lipstick Bash” fundraiser from 6:30 to 9 pm Friday at Doc’s Pad (formerly Joggers) at 7th and Willamette. See the Facebook page at http://wkly.ws/ih
• A third Coffee Party group is forming with a Sarah Palin-inspired “solidarity gathering” beginning at 4 pm Friday, April 23, at the old Federal Building. Davy Ray says his group plans regular meetings at Gary’s Coffee Shop, 525 High St. He can be contacted at email@example.com and all the local Coffee Party gatherings are listed at www.coffeepartyusa.com
• A select group of Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) card holders will have an opportunity to test 20 different local strains of cannabis at the first ever Eugene Cannabis Cup/Strain Evaluation beginning at 11:30 am Friday, April 23, at the Voter Power office, 687 River Ave. See story in EW April 8 or contact Jim Greig at 844-1220.
• Once you’re done protesting Sarah Palin, head over to the Hult Center Studio next to the Jacobs Gallery where McKenzie River Trust is hosting “Ken Kesey’s Living Rivers,” a free lecture by Kesey’s biographer Robert Faggen at 7 pm Friday, April 23. Faggen will discuss Kesey’s work as a conservationist and promoter of public discourse, “offering a unique perspective on the iconic northwest storyteller’s work and world view.”
• A free public Riverfront Celebration featuring music, informational speakers, and tours will be from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, April 24, to draw attention to proposed development along the Willamette River. The gathering will be held on the circle next to the Autzen Bike Bridge, upriver from the Earth Day celebration at EWEB. Sponsored by the ASUO and ConnectingEugene (www.connectingeugene.org).
• The Many Rivers Group Sierra Club hosts its Last Tuesday of the Month Beer Social from 7 to 9 pm April 27 at the Tiki Room at Eugene City Brewery, 844 Olive St. The group will be setting priorities for the coming year.
• The UO’s 31st annual Take Back the Night march, rally and speak-out will begin at 6:30 pm Thursday, April 29, at the EMU amphitheater on campus. This year the event, hosted by the ASUO Women’s Center, will focus on representing different communities affected by sexual violence.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• ODOT was delayed by weather again and will start spraying the week of April 19 on Highway 99 North from Eugene to Junction City, I-5, Beltline, and I-105, all within ODOT District 5 (Lane County). Call District 5 at 744-8080 or (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. See forestlanddwellers.org/News/2010-News/ODOT
• Near Cedar Flat Creek: Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 34 acres with Velpar, Sulfometuron Methyl, and Transline herbicides near Cedar Flat Road for Weyerhaeuser (988-7502) starting soon (Notice No. 771-00405).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• 4,394 U.S. troops killed* (4,394)
• 31,775 U.S. troops injured** (31,770)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (updates NA)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (updates NA)
• 104,595 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (104,588)
• 718.3 billion cost of war
• $204.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($203.9 million)
• 1.035 U.S. troops killed* (1,031)
• 5,564 U.S. troops injured** (5,510)
• $266.4 billion cost of war
• $75.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($75.4 million)
* through April 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)
• Earth Day is upon us, and as much as we would like every day to be Earth Day, it’s good that we set aside one time each year, as the earth is waking up, to celebrate Mama Nature and her awe-inspiring gifts. Do people get weary of reading environmental stories? Do the words “global warming” and “sustainability” make your eyes glaze over? Maybe. So we try to mix in some fun with serious topics. Wrestling with blackberry vines in the nude? That sounds like great fun and a memorable adventure. But what keeps Earth Day really vibrant is all the activities that go with it. We encourage everyone to get out this weekend and dive into one or more of the many events that honor and celebrate the source and foundation of all life on our planet.
• How should Eugene plan for projected population growth of about 35,000 people in the next 20 years? This week, as we go to press, the City Council is reviewing the findings of the Eugene Comprehensive Lands Assessment, and an “Envision Eugene” community workshop is being planned for May 4 at the Eugene Hilton (see www.envisioneugene.org). The “public engagement component” of the Envison Eugene project is expected to cost about $500,000 (yep, that’s the right number of zeroes), according to a memo to the council April 14 from Planning Director Lisa Gardner. Consultant and facilitator Bob Chadwick’s services will cost $50,000, and about $400,000 is earmarked for “extensive legal and technical work and analysis.”
Why the huge investment? Eugeneans are deeply polarized on the topic of growth and expansion of the urban growth boundary is a huge issue. Every assumption, conclusion, recommendation and interpretation of state mandates will be challenged. Is consensus even possible?
For starters, city planners raise the question of whether we need to expand our urban growth boundary by 1,850 acres, but Eugene already has a relatively low population per square mile and an abundance of unused land within the UGB and even downtown. Unfortunately, the deck is stacked against the residents of Eugene, who do not favor sprawl, and in favor of some planners, the council majority and land speculators who appear not so concerned with loss of farm land and the multiple other costs of urban expansion.
Here is a golden opportunity for Mayor Piercy to use her bully pulpit to advocate for much higher population density, a key to true sustainability. And in the May and November local elections, let’s work to vote people into office who actually understand these issues.
• We hear the Network Charter School (NCS) in downtown Eugene is in a pickle. The school’s lease is running out in June, and negotiations with the city to buy an empty city-owned building at 858 Pearl have broken down. Looks like the costs of buying the building and bringing it up to code are beyond the school’s resources. “This is an emergency for NCS,” says Executive Director Mary Leighton in an email to supporters this week. “We desperately need help to persuade the City Council that accepting an offer from us would demonstrate good stewardship of community resources — both the property, on which they have not received an offer better than ours, and the students, who benefit from our free, public program, often after failing elsewhere.” The city would be wise to make whatever concessions are needed to keep this small, but vitally important, educational institution downtown.
• It was great to hear Gov. Kulongoski put conservation at the top of his list to combat climate change on April 14 to a full house in the UO Law School. We all know why political leaders continue to shy away from conservation, but Ted nailed it, the “fastest, cheapest way to reduce carbon dioxide.” He also gave advice we should hear in green Eugene: Preserve historic buildings, consider downtowns and put old buildings to new use, keep them out of the waste stream. We think of Civic Stadium, the downtown post office, Mac Court and the EWEB steam plant. The Centre Court building at Broadway and Willamette, once a shining, bustling Penny’s store, is targeted for restoration, a step in the right direction. How about our own aging City Hall? It would be a whole lot cheaper to fix it up and reinforce it than to build a new one.
• Still have your Friday, April 16 R-G? Check out Section D, “Oregon Life,” page 2, for a cute little illustration in an Unkle Nancy publicity photo that somehow slipped by the editors. If it was ever on the R-G website, it’s now gone forever.
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