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Eugene Weekly : News : 6.10.10





News Briefs: Youth Farm Opens Stand | Local Lawyer Files BP Lawsuit | Cops Want More Cash While Crime Dropping | ROMP Rides for Amputees | Activist Alert | Climate Clips | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Lighten Up

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

News:

Urban Renewal Update

Tax diversion referral unlikely, for now

Happening People: Chu "Cassie" Chen

Something Euge!

 


YOUTH FARM OPENS STAND

photo courtesy of youth farm

FOOD for Lane County’s Youth Farm is planning a grand reopening of its produce stand from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, June 12, at 705 Flamingo Ave., off Game Farm Road in Springfield. The sale of fresh veggies benefits the Youth Farm program.

Despite the soggy spring, the stand will offer strawberries, peas, lettuce and salad mix, spinach, cucumbers, carrots and more. The stand will be open Saturdays through mid-October. 

Low-income teens, ages 14-18, participate all summer long in growing more than 35 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. The majority of the farm’s produce (about 92,000 pounds grown in 2010) is donated to FOOD for Lane County for distribution to agencies countywide to help alleviate hunger and poor nutrition.

Youth-led tours of the farm site are available. For more information, contact FLC at 343-2822 or visit www.foodforlanecounty.org

 

LOCAL LAWYER FILES  BP LAWSUIT

If you’re one of the many Eugeneans glued to the weirdly fascinating live stream (http://wkly.ws/lr) of the BP oil disaster in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or just listening to the news, then you know the crude oil is making its way deeper into ocean currents. But it’s not just the sticky seabird killing tar that’s the issue, it’s the toxic chemicals in the crude oil that BP and the federal government haven’t said much about, which has led to a Clean Water Act lawsuit.

Charlie Tebbutt

On June 3, the Center for Biological Diversity and local attorney Charlie Tebbutt filed a notice of intent to sue BP under the Clean Water Act.

Tebbutt says, “We hear a lot about the oil but not the massive amounts of toxic chemicals in the oil.” Those chemicals, Tebbutt says, include benzene (a carcinogen) ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, PAHs (a class of organic pollutants) and elements such as mercury and metals.  

“BP knows which and how much of these toxic substances are in the oil but hasn’t made that public. Residents and clean-up workers are being constantly exposed to these toxic compounds without knowing what they are and how much they are breathing,” he says. 

Journalists and researchers are complaining that BP is hampering efforts to collect accurate information. “The British Prevaricators are now claiming they are capturing over five times what they said was coming out of the well, intend to collect even more, and they will still have along way to go,” Tebbutt says. 

He adds that the Deepwater Horizon itself had toxic compounds on it that entered the water when the drilling rig exploded and sank. “The people have a right to that information so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves,” Tebbutt says.

The suit could hold BP liable for up to $1,000 per barrel of oil, perhaps 25,000 barrels per day — plus up to dozens of hazardous substances above the “reportable quantity” each day. This adds up to billions of dollars in penalties under the Clean Water Act.

The goal of the suit is not only to make clear the amount of toxic pollutants being discharged, but also to get BP to provide that information and ensure that the public is getting all the information it is entitled to.

Tebbutt says, “I can’t say why the government hasn’t taken action yet and hasn’t sought and provided the information about the specific toxic chemical exposures. They probably don’t want to scare people even more than they have been already.  And of course, the government tends to move slowly anyway.” — Camilla Mortensen

 

COPS WANT MORE CASH WHILE CRIME DROPPING

Eugene plans to boost police spending while cutting pool and library services, but the local crime rate fell last year in one of the safest cities in the nation.

According to FBI data, Eugene’s violent crime rate fell 5 percent last year and the property crime rate fell 8 percent. 

In the last dozen years, Eugene’s crime rate has fallen 49 percent and its property crime rate has fallen 38 percent, according to FBI numbers. 

Compared with 265 cities with more than 100,000 people, Eugene now ranks 203rd in violent crime rate. That puts the city in the top 25 percent of the safest cities in the nation.

Eugene ranks higher compared to other cities in property crime rate, 42nd out of 265. Most of that higher ranking is skewed by a comparatively larger number of more minor larceny/theft cases in Eugene.  

Congressional Quarterly has produced a leading ranking of city overall crime rankings for 16 years. CQ leaves out larceny/theft, citing concerns from the FBI that the very large category skews overall crime rates. According to the CQ rankings, Eugene is about average for overall crime rate — 204th lowest out of 393 cities.

Eugene’s drop in violent crime last year was largely caused by a drop in robbery and aggravated assault. The drop in property crime was due largely to declines in larceny/theft and car theft.

Eugene plans to spend $800,000 this year to increase the police budget while laying off non-police city workers and cutting library and pool services. 

The Eugene police budget has received little apparent scrutiny from the City Council or Budget Committee. Eugene has a similar overall crime to Salem, but Eugene’s police budget is about one-third higher, according to city budget documents. — Alan Pittman

 

ROMP RIDES FOR AMPUTEES

It’s a ride that few would undertake: a 3,500 mile bike trip from Eugene to Guatemala. But on June 19, Eugene local Greg Krupa plans to do it in order to raise $50,000 in support of amputees and disabled people around the world through the Range of Motion Project (ROMP).

“The need is absolutely tremendous,” said Krupa, noting that 80 percent of the world’s amputees live in the developing world and only 2 percent have access to health care. “Most of these people are unable to work or provide their family with the resources they need to better their lives or even have enough to be properly nourished,” he said.

Organizing the event, Krupa and fellow bike enthusiast Pat Mathay are working on behalf of ROMP, a non profit that provides prosthetic limbs and orthodontic braces to amputees and people living with disabilities. 

“Yes, we’re providing people [in need] with physical limbs,” said Mathay. “But more than that, we are giving them the opportunity to interact with society, with their communities in a whole new capacity.” 

The public send-off, 9 am at Skinner Butte Park, will see approximately 70 people, including State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, riding alongside Krupa and Mathay for the first leg of the journey from Eugene to Florence. Additionally, bilateral amputee and paralympic athlete Kevin Saunders will be joining the ROMP riders in California for three days.

And anyone is invited to participate anywhere along the coastal route, regardless of his or her biking experience or time commitment. “The bike ride will not only be fun and scenic,” said Krupa. “It’s a unique opportunity to cycle with others dealing with limb loss and other physical challenges.”

Donations from individuals and companies throughout the world have assisted this trip by providing accommodations and prosthetic parts to orthotic clinics. According to John Robert, practice manager of Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, the decision to sponsor Krupa and Mathay’s endeavor was simple. “It’s a good cause and quite an undertaking.” Every $300 raised can provide an amputee with a prosthesis. 

For Krupa, this elaborate bike ride is a gesture of symbolic importance. “By cycling, not only are we increasing awareness to biking, fitness and health, we’re also emphasizing the importance of mobility and freedom of movement.” —  Deborah Bloom

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

Green Drinks, the monthly gathering of progressives for socializing, is from 5 to 7 pm Friday, June 11, at World Cafe, 449 Blair Blvd. For more information, call 284-7020 or visit www.heliosnetwork.org

• The 2010 West Coast Earth First! Rendezvous and Cascade Forest Defenders Action camp this year will be June 11-13 in the McKenzie watershed about an hour from Eugene. Direct action proponents will gather in the woods starting at noon Friday 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, rideshare board and bus transportation from Eugene. Information will also be posted outside Growers Market, 454 Willamette St., by Friday morning. 

• The World Naked Bike Ride is planned for 4 pm Saturday, June 12, beginning at Skinner Butte Park in Eugene. See http://wkly.ws/lp for more information. Rain or shine, clothing optional, helmets requested.

Nearby Nature is planning a “winter cropping” workshop from 1 to 4 pm Saturday, June 12, at Alton Baker Park. Registration required, cost is $35 for non-members. Call 687-9699 or email info@nearbynature.org  

 • A free winter gardening workshop with Ted Purdy, a FOOD for Lane County farmer, is planned for 2 to 4 pm Sunday, June 13, at Whiteaker Community Garden. Registration required. Call or e-mail Lorna Baldwin, lorna.j.baldwin@ci.eugene.or.us or 682-4845.  

• Medical anthropologist Melissa Cheyney will discuss “‘The Politics and Science of Being Born: Location, Location, Location” in a Science Pub Corvallis presentation at 6 pm Monday, June 14, at the Old World Deli, 341 SW 2nd St. in downtown Corvallis.

• The fate of Civic Stadium is still being decided and public comments are 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.

 

CLIMATE CLIPS

“Carbon dioxide spewed by human activities has made ocean water so acidic that it is eating away at the shells and skeletons of starfish, coral, clams and other sea creatures,” according to a report by Deborah Zabarenko published last week by the Environmental News Network. See http://wkly.ws/ln

“Marine researchers knew that ocean acidification, as it’s called, was occurring in deep water far from land,” writes Zabarenko. “What they called ‘truly astonishing’ was the appearance of this damaging phenomenon on the Pacific North American continental shelf, stretching from Mexico to Canada.”

 

Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule

• ODOT is still conducting spraying of highways and ramps throughout District 5 (Lane County area) and will be spraying invasive species through June. Call Tony Kilmer at 686-7534, Mike Spaeth at 744-8080 and (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. See forestlanddwellers.org/News/2010-News/ODOT/ 

• Districtwide roadside spraying on timberlands: Roseburg Resources (935-2507) will spray roadsides in additional units in Townships 17-20 South, in various Ranges 5-8 (see maps) with Triclopyr Ester and Amine, Glyphosate, Sulfometuron Methyl and 2,4-D herbicides starting June 15 (No. 781-00529).

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

WAR DEAD

In Iraq

• 4,405 U.S. troops killed* (4,404)

• 31,839 U.S. troops injured** (31,827) 

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

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

• 105,408 to 1.2 million 

civilians killed*** (105,117)

• $725.6 billion cost of war 

($725.2 billion) 

• $206.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($206.2 million)

In Afghanistan

• 1,080 U.S. troops killed* (1,076)

• 6,141 U.S. troops injured** (6,038)

• $274.2 billion cost of war 

($274.2 billion)

• $78.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($78.0 million)

* through June 4, 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)

LIGHTEN UP

Honestly, doesn’t UO already have more and better stadiums, playing fields, practice fields (both indoor and outdoor), sports courts, locker rooms, workout facilities and offices than the U.S. Army? The next time I hear that Phil Knight has donated money to the Athletic Department for another facility, I’m going to dye my hair orange and black and invite a bunch of Beaver fans over for roast duck. 

Rafael Aldave, Eugene

 

 

 

 

SLANT

• Still think more liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipelines are a good idea? Just this week in Texas a gas pipeline blew up killing one man and injuring seven people. Last week in West Virginia a natural gas well drilling explosion injured seven people as well, and the fire burned for days. In Portland, The NW Examiner reports a 50-year-old LNG storage tank owned by NW Natural with a capacity of 7.35 million gallons tank has survived small earthquakes, but may not withstand that big quake geologists are predicting. The tank was built before current earthquake standards went into effect, and according to The NW Examiner, geologists have suggested that soils in the area where the tank stands could liquefy during prolonged shaking.

• In a follow-up to last week’s cover story on Ultimate Frisbee and disc golf, we heard from Annie Greenberg and Craig Huber that the winner of the 2010 Callahan Award was UO’s Eli Friedman. In 2009, the UO men’s Ultimate team didn’t get a chance to compete for the Callahan, or even in the championships, and the story made headlines around the country: “Speeding, drinking, nudity — they’re not bad things,” Dusty Becker, the team’s co-captain at the time, told the R-G last year. “They’re things a big portion of the community doesn’t think are wrong.” Alas, the student board that governs UO club sports disagreed and the team sat out the championships. But this year the team has shown they can have fun and come out on top. 

“The Callahan Award is given each year to the best and most valuable male and female player in the country,” say Greenberg and Huber. “The award honors the physical talents and skills of the player and their leadership and sportsmanship. This award is equivalent to the Heisman Award. Congratulations to our local home town guy and Ultimate player of the year Eli!”

• Here’s the latest scoop from the Jay Bozievich campaign for county commissioner. Looks like the campaign got busted last week for trying to cream voters. “The Secretary of States (sic) office has determined that we cannot give ice cream away to supporters and volunteers even as a thank you for helping with the primary,” reads an email from Friends of Jay Bozievich. “So, we have to charge the cost of the ice cream to stay within the law.” Bozievich has been holding ice cream socials around the West Lane District to thank voters for keeping him in the race with 35.5 percent of the vote, and to sweeten up volunteers for the November run-off against Jerry Rust. Each scoop of Bozievich’s unhealthy cow fat now costs 50 cents. Rust, meanwhile, is giving away nothing but old campaign buttons made from thin slices of yew tree — zero in fat, high in fiber and carbon storage, and containing the natural cancer-fighting substance taxol. 

• Freshly picked organic salad greens from the Courthouse Garden were served with Saturday night spaghetti at the Eugene Mission late in May. Bags of greens, bok choy and kale have gone to Relief Nursery families and Catholic Community Services. It’s clear when you see the scale of the garden at 8th Avenue and Ferry Street that distribution will be a major enterprise. Fortunately FOOD for Lane County, with years of experience in giving away the treasures of its gardens, is stepping up to help. The UO landscape architecture students, released prisoners re-entering the community and volunteers who have grown this stunning garden on the city-owned property east of the U.S. Courthouse are encouraged to fill their pockets with greens. Lorri Nelson, a Eugene architect who joined Ann Bettman to teach the UO Courthouse Garden course spring term and will lead the project this summer, says “The students were thrilled to know that their last day would involve packaging up produce to take it to local organizations who need it.” Volunteers to weed, water, plant, and pick are needed Saturdays all summer from 10 am to 12:30 pm.

• We don’t have many historic buildings in downtown Eugene, thanks to old urban renewal projects and myopic city planning, so we should celebrate and cherish what we do have. The Eugene Hotel at Broadway and Pearl opened its doors to the public on June 15, 1925, and has served as a vibrant community center and resource ever since. It was converted to retirement apartments in 1983 and is still going strong. The hotel is celebrating its 85th birthday this Saturday with free music in the lobby and lounge starting at 11 am, and Sunday with an oldies car show and other events starting at 3 pm. Check it our, or give the hotel a call at 343-8574.

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

 

 

 

CHU “CASSIE” CHEN

“All kids in China study English,” says Chu Chen, who adopted “Cassie” as her English name in grade school in Rui’An, on China’s east coast. Chen studied Chinese literature in college, 400 miles south along the coast in Xiamen, the Island City, and continued for a masters in environmental literature. “My advisor was professor Wang,” she says. “He wrote the book that introduced the concept of environmental literature to China.” Wang asked her to stay on for a Ph.D., but Chen wanted to see the world and instead got a scholarship in the UO environmental studies masters program in the fall of 2007. “I took a class in political ecology that brought me a lot of vision and knowledge,” she says. “I studied natural resource policy and collaborative environmental management.” After graduation and a trip home to visit her parents, Chen returned to Eugene last November to start a one-year volunteer internship with ELAW, the nonprofit Eugene-based international environmental law firm. Her main job is contacting potential Chinese ELAW fellows, lawyers who are working in the environmental field. “Work and practice is more important to me than getting paid. I wanted to stay in Eugene,” says Chen, who was married in May to Yan Guo, a Ph.D. student in physics.