News Briefs: Oregon Wolves Hunted | St. Vinny's Building Nearing Completion | More Cops Won't Help Downtown? | Factory Farms Fined in Oregon | Two-Wheel Cannery Coming | EW Takes SPJ Awards | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
OREGON WOLVES HUNTED
Oregon’s slowly increasing wolf population is under fire as ranchers and others are authorized to shoot the predators after recent attacks on livestock in eastern Oregon.
|Oregon wolf just released after being fitted with a radio collar in May 2009. Photo by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife|
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issued two permits to the USDA Wildlife Services to kill two uncollared wolves from the Imnaha pack. Four of those wolves, including the alpha male and female, which are the breeding pair, are collared.
ODFW also issued seven permits to ranchers to kill wolves that are caught in the act of wounding, biting or killing livestock. If the wolf is merely on the property, it can’t be killed under the terms of these “caught in act” permits, says Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokesperson.
The permit to Wildlife Services to kill the two uncollared wolves is targeted at wolves that are showing an interest in livestock, Dennehy says, and the permit is limited to an area where three of the confirmed livestock kills are clustered, The wolves can be killed only within three miles of those sites, she says, and only private land where there is livestock.
Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands, one of the conservation groups that has been advocating for wolves, says that there if there are six possible wolves doing the killing, there is no way of knowing the two wolves shot are the culprits.
“Oregonians want to hear the howl of a wolf after a 60 year absence, not the sound of gunfire killing these majestic animals,” he says.
Laughlin says that aggressively targeting wolves early on in the wolf recovery effort doesn’t bode well for the wolves. He says that in addition to the wolves that are about to be shot, two wolves have already been killed. “They will have killed four out of the 12 known wolves in this nascent recovery effort,” he says.
“I’m convinced time and human tolerance will define the degree of wolf success in Oregon. Are we going to kill wolves or live with wolves on the landscape as we did for hundreds of years?” Laughlin says. — Camilla Mortensen
ST. VINNY’S BUILDING NEARING COMPLETION
The Donald L. Lamb Building that has risen from the rubble of an old St. Vincent dePaul (SVDP) thrift store on West 11th is scheduled for completion this fall, and is now setting up a waiting list for rentals. Applications are available between 8 am and 5 pm weekdays at the SVDP administration building, 705 S. Seneca. No appointment is necessary.
The new energy-efficient building, named for a longtime volunteer and board member, will have a book store and other retail space on the ground floor, 35 units of affordable housing abov, and solar water panels on the roof. Residential units are intended for people with incomes at 50 or 60 percent of the area median income. Rents range from $385 to $410 per month for the one-bedroom units.
To qualify at 50 percent of median income, for example, a family of two can make no more than $23,000 gross annually; at 60 percent, the income level would be $27,600. For more information about rental rates for one, two or three people, call 687-5820 or visit www.svdp.us
SVDP currently has about 800 multi-family rental units in service in Lane County. The total development cost for the Lamb Building is estimated at $7.2 million. SVDP has been awarded HOME funds and SDC waivers from the city of Eugene, according to the nonprofit’s website. In addition, SVDP has applied for funds from Oregon Housing and Community Services and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program. Other anticipated funding sources include Business Energy Tax Credits, EWEB incentives, and Green Communities funds.
More Cops Won’t Help Downtown?
The city of Eugene plans to use downtown urban renewal funds to hire seven new police officers but has no place to put the street people the officers plan to arrest.
“If police pick people up and we don’t have a place to put them, it’s not going to be very helpful,” said City Councilor Chris Pryor at a May 27 Budget Committee meeting.
Budget Committee member Mary Ann Holser pointed out that the city has “very minimal facilities” for the drug and alcohol addicted and mentally ill street people the police plan to arrest as part of a crackdown on “behavioral crime” downtown. Treatment programs are full and the jail doesn’t want them, she said.
“Where will we put them?” Holser asked. “They’re still going to be here despite the lines on the sidewalk,” she said, referring to areas in which police have threatened to ticket street people for “blocking” pedestrian traffic. “We’re going to be top heavy with police and no facilities for the people that are going to be there,” she said.
“It’s too late now; it’s already been decided,” Councilor George Brown said, referring to the council’s May 24 vote to approve the urban renewal plan. But Brown agreed the city’s downtown strategy was “top heavy” with police spending. He said the $740,000 should have been divided among enforcement, treatment and housing.
“We’re going to have to find a way to warehouse these people that’s actually kind of humane,” said Terry McDonald, director of St. Vincent dePaul and a budget committee member. “We’ve now put a great deal of money into more officers, but the [housing] piece continues to be unfunded. Is there a reason why that choice was made?” McDonald asked.
Police Chief Pete Kerns said he decided to spend all the money on police officers rather than including a “wet bed” housing component for the mentally ill and/or drug or alcohol addicted. Housing “simply wasn’t affordable, and I feel this was a better first step,” Kerns said.
“The wet beds are sort of the phase two” of the city’s downtown strategy, City Manager Jon Ruiz said. “There’s no financing plan for the phase two yet.”
“I think we need to get there sooner rather than later,” Pryor said of the housing component.
But prospects of that appear very uncertain. The city faces deep budget cuts in the recession, and the police department is demanding ever larger budget increases.
Conservative Councilor Mike Clark said the $740,000 increase in police spending is “just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need to do.”
The city’s downtown urban renewal plan describes the officers as needed to address crime downtown, but it doesn’t appear that the police plan to keep the officers downtown.
“You’re not actually going to see seven new people patrolling downtown; they are going to be all over the place,” Brown said, pointing out the large patrol area the officers will be assigned to.
“Even if this is targeted at downtown, the spectrum is wider,” said Councilor Andrea Ortiz at the budget meeting. “I can’t imagine if there’s nothing happening downtown they won’t be in my area,” Ortiz said of her ward, which stretches from Whiteaker north to Santa Clara.
“It’s going to be in the chief’s purview to say ‘I no longer need this many officers downtown, I can redeploy’,” Pryor said. — Alan Pittman
FACTORY FARMS FINED IN OREGON
Rather than happy cows grazing in wide pastures, hundreds of Oregon cows are squashed into buildings and small pens on operations known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms.
Most Oregonians think of this as a problem confined to the Midwest or other states, but not only can someone legally establish a CAFO on farmland near you, they already have. According to Kendra Kimbirauskas of Friends of Family Farmers, Oregon’s definition of what constitutes is a CAFO unclear, and the state has no laws against such operations.
In May, Oregon fined the Mayfield and Rock Ridge dairies near Wilsonville $20,000 for manure related violations, The Oregonian reports. The dairies are owned by Chuck Eggert, CEO of Pacific Natural Foods (a product line carried at locally at Kiva, Market of Choice and other stores in Lane County) and have about 700 cows, which meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of a CAFO. Pacific Natural has an extensive line of organic foods, and the dairies are certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
The dairies plan a new treatment system and other improvements to fix the poop problems.
But Kimbirauskas says, “Unlike other states, we don’t have setback requirements — from homes or streams — nor do we have substantive air rules or public health ordinances.” If a CAFO were established in Lane County and began to get complaints from neighbors, she says Oregon’s “Right-to-Farm law ties the hands of communities who want to bring a nuisance complaint against a CAFO — even if the community was there first.”
She says that if Pacific Foods was truly committed to reducing their farms’ impact on the environment, they would reduce their herd and put the cows on pasture.
Having the cows living on pasture is not a requirement for organic labeling right now, but according to the Cornucopia Institute, new USDA organic rules will soon require that dairy cows be pastured for no less than 120 days and that 30 percent of their feed come from pasture. Cornucopia says that research indicates that 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s organic milk supply comes from CAFOs, including the popular Horizon brand.
“Pacific Foods has good intentions; however, good intentions are not a substitute for following the law. The bottom line is that they have had several major discharges into the waters of Oregon, which have been cited and documented by the Oregon Department of Agriculture,” Kimbirauskas says. — Camilla Mortensen
TWO-WHEEL CANNERY COMING
From bike-powered concerts to Critical Mass bike rides to pedicabs, Eugene’s bicycling community has seen it all when it comes to diverse uses for bikes, or so it seems. Recently, Skinner City Farm (SCF), in collaboration with the Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT), has been developing a new use for cycling: the bike cannery.
Jan VanderTuin, garden manager of SCF, said that for the past two years, he’s invited folks to join him and can at the SCF by bike and take away food. “It struck me that I had just created a mobile cannery,” he said.
This realization led to the design of a bike, created by VanderTuin, director of CAT, and other CAT employees, that could carry a table, double burner propane stove, sink, pressure cooker, knives and cutting boards. VanderTuin said the trickiest part of building the bike, which is halfway in the making, is fitting in the storage for these extra supplies. Called the “Skinner City Farm Mobile Cannery,” the bike will tour the city’s six community gardens this fall offering on-site canning demonstrations to anyone interested.
Tracy Gagnon, site coordinator for the School Garden Project, has been contracted to lead the inaugural presentations.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Gagnon, who has had experience canning at home. “This position with SCF is another great opportunity to work with the community on food education and security.”
Along with local food security, the project hopes to provide inspiration for entrepreneurs and a sustainable solution for produce waste.
“It’s such a humbling experience to work with summer’s bounty and enjoy it throughout the year,” Gagnon said. “Through connecting with community gardeners and local organizations, we can team together to sustain ourselves through the year.”
Gagnon stressed that the canning process is relatively simple and brief, taking only an afternoon to complete, making it accessible to gardeners of any age and with tight schedules.
After this year’s six demonstrations, estimated to kick off in late June, the mobile cannery’s path is undetermined.
“We are starting slow,” VanderTuin said. “In the future we will send the mobile cannery to whoever can pay for the fixed costs and labor.”
As for now, the garden demonstrations will request a small donation for the lessons that aim to produce dilly beans, tomato sauce, salsa and preserves, if not more. In addition, SCF has applied for a 2010 Neighborhood Matching Grant to assist in funding for the mobile cannery.
Gagnon sees the project not only as a way to strengthen community cooperation at the gardens, but as a way of spreading knowledge outside the garden’s gates.
“I hope that the demos will empower and educate participants to can at home and with others,” Gagnon said. — Alex Zielinski
This story first appeared at eugenecycles.com
EW TAKES SPJ AWARDS
Eugene Weekly staffers walked away with seven Northwest awards for excellence in journalism in 2009 at the Society of Professional Journalists annual banquet in Portland May 22. EW competed in this contest with Seattle Weekly, Willamette Week, The Portland Mercury and several other alternative papers in the Northwest, along with dozens of Oregon nondaily papers and magazines.
Performing and Visual Arts Editor Suzi Steffen took a second place in the Criticism category for “A Red Hot Mess,” her critique of a Portland Art Museum exhibit. Reporter Camilla Mortensen took second in the Education Reporting category for her cover story on former UO professor Paula Rogers, “Retaliation? Did the UO fire a professor for alleging racism?” Music and Arts Editor Molly Templeton took third place in Criticism for her story “Defining Her Future,” a review of the film An Education.
Templeton and Art Director Todd Cooper won second place honors in the Special Section category for the 2009 State of Suds supplement on beer and brewing. Cooper and Steffen took third place in the Special Section category for the Oregon Bach Festival 2009 Guide.
• The final LTD open house on the West Eugene EmX Extension Design Options will be from 4 to 6 pm Thursday, June 3, at the Eugene Public Library Singer Room (second floor). Based on input from an advisory group and a March open house, the focus of the design work is now primarily on pedestrian and bicycle crossings along West 13th Avenue, Chambers Street, and 6th Avenue at Blair Boulevard. See http://wkly.ws/kh for designs being considered.
• Urban renewal is the topic of the City Club of Eugene luncheon meeting at 11:50 am Friday, June 4, at the Hilton, 12th floor ballroom. Speakers are Jared Mason-Gere and Paul Nicholson. The presentation is the second on a series on economic development in Eugene. See www.cityclubofeugene.org
• Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy is hosting three community outreach gatherings on Saturday, June 5, beginning from 10 to 11:30 am at Cal’s Donuts, 2091 River Road. The next will be from noon to 1:30 pm at World Café, 449 Blair Blvd., followed by 2 to 3:30 pm at Highway 99 Donuts, 1520 Highway 99 N. Handy can be reached at 683-4203 or email Rob.Handy@co.lane.or.us
• Eugene activist Peter Chabarek will speak and show slides on “Resistance and Everyday Life in the West Bank” at 7 pm Tuesday, June 8, at the Unitarian Universalist Church Sanctuary, 477 E. 40th Ave. Chabarek spent two weeks in the West Bank with members of Global Exchange. Contact Rob Castleberry, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 726-0400 for more information.
• A free workshop on legal rights for cannabis activists and OMMP cardholders is planned from 5 to 8 pm Tuesday, June 8, at the Voter Power office, 687 River Ave., in Eugene. RSVP to 210-8790. “In Oregon, many members of law enforcement believe that medical marijuana patients, growers, and caregivers are criminals,” says Jim Greig of Voter Power. The event will be facilitated by Christine McGarvin, MSSW, president of Oregon Green Free South Chapter, and Lori Duckworth, executive director of Southern Oregon NORML. The workshop will repeat in Salem from 1 to 4 pm Sunday at Mercy Clinic, 1469 Capital St. NE; and in Albany from 2 to 5 pm Thursday, June 17, at the Public Library.
• A community meeting on “Food Security, Immigration and ‘Free Trade’” is planned for 7 pm Wednesday, June 9, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. Speakers include Dan Armstrong and Guadalupe Quinn. Sponsored by the Lane County Fair Trade Campaign, email Samantha@oregonfairtrade.org or find the event on Facebook.
• The West Coast Earth First! Rendezvous and Cascade Forest Defenders Action camp this year will be June 11-13 in the McKenzie watershed. Direct action proponents will gather in the woods for a weekend of skill sharing and forest talk, “teaching skills relevant to direct action and activism in general in a comfortable camping setting to anyone who comes,” say organizers. See www.forestdefensenow.org for details and bus transportation from Eugene.
• The fate of Civic Stadium is still being decided and public comments are still being gathered by School District 4J. The School Board held a public hearing June 2 and a decision is expected at the at 7 pm Wednesday, June 16, board meeting. Comments can be sent to 4J by email or snail mail. More information at www.4j.lane.edu/civicstadium or call 790-7700.
• Opponents to the renaming of Beltline are working on a ballot measure and have formed PAC called “Keep It Beltline.” The new website is http://keepitbeltline.org The group has 1,000 sponsorship signatures and a ballot title. “Provided everything goes smoothly, we should be able to start collecting signatures in mid-June, if not slightly sooner,” says Scott Reynolds of the group.
• 4,404 U.S. troops killed* (4,401)
• 31,827 U.S. troops injured** (31,822)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (updates NA)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (updates NA)
• 105,117 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (105,117)
• $725.2 billion cost of war ($724.4 billion)
• $206.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($206.0 million)
• 1,076 U.S. troops killed* (1,071)
• 6,038 U.S. troops injured** (5,917)
• $274.2 billion cost of war ($273.3 billion)
• $78.0 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($77.7 million)
* through May 28, 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)
I’ll bet the words “Do Not Block Public Right of Way” painted on a sidewalk will be about as effective as the words “Dot Not Rob” painted in front of a bank.
— Rafael Aldave of Eugene
• The federal government is supposedly concerned about the global warming, oil addiction, air pollution, obesity and huge freeway costs of urban sprawl, but this month it decided to spend $40 million to spur yet more urban sprawl here. The Veterans Administration has reportedly chosen a site near the Gateway Mall over downtown Eugene for its new clinic. Instead of walking or biking, the 200 VA employees and hundreds of veterans seeking treatment will now clog the Beltline/I-5 interchange that the federal government has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to unclog. We can only hope some of them will take the bus. It’s time for the federal government to wake up and institute a policy that locates government buildings in city centers for the environment, health, livability and fiscal common sense.
• Are you happy living in Eugene and Lane County? What would make you more content? We don’t hear much about the “happiness quotient” when policies are set and decisions are made by local government agencies. Maybe it’s time to look at the latest national and international research and apply some of the insights. Derek Bok, past president of Harvard, has a new book out, The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being, that supports earlier research saying rising incomes and more material goods do not make people happier or more contented with their lives. A Eugene-based study by Tom Bowerman and his associates at PolicyInteractive concurs, and concluded “our country would be a better place if we all consumed less.”
But the challenge facing even sophisticated policy makers is that most people believe they will be happier if their material lives improve. People think life will be better with bigger houses, nicer cars and boats, fewer potholes, faster Internet, more choices on store shelves, more job opportunities, better pay, etc. They might be right about the jobs. Bok says unemployment is an emotional disaster for people, and “as a downer it outranks divorce or separation. Even when workers find a new position at similar pay, they often fail to regain their earlier level of happiness,” as he’s paraphrased in the March 22 New Yorker magazine.
So how do we use this knowledge? For starters we can focus our government policies on improving quality of life, and generating meaningful long-term employment. The best way to create local sustainable jobs and self-employment is through education, along with support of local small business, industry and agriculture. We can all help through our individual daily choices. Let’s buy local, grow local, bank local, take care of our neighbors and natural areas, volunteer for good causes and otherwise reinforce our communities. We will be happier, and so will Mother Nature.
• Most of us put our trash and recycling at the curb for pickup, but every once in a while, why not drop by one of the Lane County disposal sites and get a reminder of just how much waste we produce? Head over to Glenwood on a weekend morning with your junk. Before you get depressed by all the crap that gets dumped into the giant waste pit — which bears an uncanny resemblance to the one Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca fall into in Star Wars (no garbage monster in sight) — you have to stop by the recycling center and sort your paper and plastic. The upside is that the staff is helpful and friendly and prone to plying with treats any dogs you might have along, and you strike up the most interesting conversations while you sort your green bottles from your clear ones. It’s a conspicuous consumption wake up call, lightened up by all the nice folks.
• We have disasters on the brain lately, from unnatural ones like the BP oil spill to natural ones like the upcoming hurricanes that will make that spill worse. No one thinks of Oregon as being a disaster-prone kind of state, but enviro journalist Andrew Revkin, who spoke at the UO last month, has been trying to warn us for a while now about how unprepared Oregon is for an earthquake. Most recently, on his New York Times blog, Dot Earth, he points to a comprehensive new study on the journal Nature’s news site that says the odds of 8.0-magnitude earthquake occurring by 2050 are nearly four in 10.
According to Revkin’s blog, Yumei Wang, geohazards team leader for the state of Oregon, said a 2007 study of 3,300 public schools and emergency buildings indicated that “1,300 have high to very high probability of collapse.” Go to http://wkly.ws/kv to see a seismic needs assessment for Lane County. Are we going to fix our buildings before the big one hits?
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