News Briefs: Sister Prejean Back for a Week | Money First, Ethics Later | NASA Scientist to Speak About Climate Change | Bit of Heaven in Devil's Staircase | Write-in Council Candidate | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Ellen Schlesinger (Revisited)
SISTER PREJEAN BACK FOR A WEEK
If you never saw the 1995 film Dead Man Walking, which earned Susan Sarandon an Oscar, go rent it. Then next week you can meet Catholic nun and death row critic Sister Helen Prejean when she comes to town as part of a three-year association with the UO, and realize that as good as Sarandon was, she doesn’t even begin to capture the amazing combination of feisty and spiritual that is Prejean.
Prejean’s visit, which includes time in the classroom with UO students, a writing class at the Oregon State Prison, interfaith dialogues and a talk at the UO Law School, runs Oct. 17-22.
UO professor Cheney Ryan has been the driving force bringing Prejean to campus and setting up the three-year association where she will be “basically a visiting professor.”
“We got to be friends some time ago from a common background in Catholic peace activism,” Ryan says.
Prejean “really has a special fondness for Eugene,” Ryan says. “She first suggested having some kind of ongoing relationship.”
According to Ryan, Prejean is working on writing her spiritual autobiography. He says that a lot of the discussion during her visit will be on how people become in interested in peace and justice issues.
Though Prejean became famous after the publication of her book, Dead Man Walking, and the film of the same title, Ryan says the focus of her visit “is much broader than that.” She will be speaking on restorative justice at 7 pm Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the UO Law School.
In an interview with EW earlier this year, Prejean said, “When you look at the biblical concept of justice — now the Bible of course can be quoted six ways to Sunday — but it’s filled with the idea of restorative justice and that healing and health and wholeness is what is desired and not just pure punishment and pain.”
Prejean’s visit is sponsored by the Carlton Savage Chair in International Relations and Peace and in collaboration with the Clark Honors College and the Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center.
An interfaith gathering will take place at 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Temple Beth Israel, and a youth empowerment event is 2 pm Monday, Oct. 17. For more information on those events, contact Katie Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org — Camilla Mortensen
MONEY FIRST, ETHICS LATER
Want to find out who’s a crook before you vote? Good luck. The state ethics department is crying poor in failing to post the financial disclosure forms of top government officials.
If you want to know who is filling that government official’s pockets, the Oregon Ethics Commission official written procedure is to mail a written request for the disclosure form; get a written response of the estimated fee of 25 cents per page or more, if they decide it takes more work; snail mail back a check for the fee (they don’t take credit cards); and then get back the written information from the state agency — eventually.
For more than a decade, the state of Oregon has put mountains of esoteric documents online, including gigabytes of photos from every hundredth of a mile of state highway in both directions, but somehow not those pesky ethics forms.
Ethics Commission Director Ronald Bersin blames the state Legislature for cutting $600,000 his agency had planned to use to put the disclosure forms online. “The money is no longer available.”
Bersin claimed that his agency cannot possibly put any of the documents online within its existing $1.3 million annual budget. He said he has six-page disclosure forms from 6,000 top elected and non-elected officials plus about 2,000 forms from lobbyists and other entities.
Bersin dismissed suggestions of starting with some of the most requested forms from top officials first and/or requiring officials to send electronic forms or fill out forms online rather than spending time shuffling almost 50,000 mailed-in forms.
“I don’t know how that would solve the problem,” Bersin said, though he admitted emailed or electronic forms would save clerical money and time “in the long run.” Bersin repeated, “There is a plan; it just didn’t get funded.”
Meanwhile, the Center for Public Integrity reports that 29 other states, including Kentucky and Arkansas, have somehow figured out how to get their ethics forms online without years of excuses and complaints that they need more money first. — Alan Pittman
NASA SCIENTIST TO SPEAK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
Six years ago James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, decided to break the barrier between the scientific community and the public in order to provide a realistic view on his main area of study: climate change.
Hansen will share his insights in his lecture “Global Warming Time Bomb: How to Avert Disaster” at 3 pm Saturday, Oct. 16, at the UO’s Knight Law School.
“It had become clear that the gap of what was understood by scientists and who needed to know, the public, had been increasing at a drastic rate,” Hansen said. “It was impossible not to say anything.”
Now Hansen is rarely stationary, aiming to keep the world up to speed on current climate change policy injustices through lectures, meeting with country leaders and general activism. Just this September, Hansen was arrested outside of the White House for participating in a protest against mountaintop coal mining.
“It’s getting to be an urgent need to change the course of our world’s climate system,” Hansen, who is credited for predicting the current speed of climate change in 1981, said. “The younger generation needs to understand the gravity of situation in order to make a substantial change.”
Hansen’s lecture will focus on the need for a gradually rising fee on carbon-based fuel, which is a contributor to global temperature increases, and the violation of human rights seen through major fuel-producing companies’ refusal to decrease emissions.
Mary Wood, faculty director for UO’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, which is co-sponsoring the event with UO’s Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, is a strong supporter of Hansen’s arguments.
“One of the main problems with climate change is that citizens view it as a political issue,” Wood said. “It’s our task to reframe it to a public property rights issue, one that is being violated by Congress as they continue to let companies pollute the atmosphere. “
Wood added that since Hurricane Katrina, climate change topics have dominated Environmental Law course curriculums.
Wood said she expects Hansen’s lecture to provide a “prescription for the planet” that can be carried out by students and community members alike.
“I’m hoping for a large youth turnout,” Wood said. “This is their issue, their right to life and their future. The government is sitting idle. The time to act is now.” — Alex Zielinski
BIT OF HEAVEN IN DEVIL’S STAIRCASE
No trails or signs mark the way through one area of Oregon’s forest that’s steep and unpredictable. Even GPS units are unreliable. No, this isn’t in a protected part of the Cascade Range; it’s the Devil’s Staircase, a proposed wilderness area northeast of Reedsport.
Photographer Tim Giraudier made the guided trek into the area this summer and was impressed by the wilderness he witnessed. “When I think of the Oregon Coast Range, I think of industrial, commercial forestlands, and I don’t think of a pocket of old growth,” Giraudier says. “I certainly have seen a lot of wilderness in the high Cascades, but I feel like it’s a lot more wild at Wasson Creek, and that’s the impression it left on me.”
Legislation to designate the Devil’s Staircase and Wasson Creek, its draining waterway, as protected wilderness, has been introduced in both the House and Senate, but might not be finished by the end of the current session. Local groups Cascadia Wildlands, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics and Oregon Wild have been working on the issue.
Giraudier will present his photographs from the summertime hike at 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 14, in the EWEB training room.
“It’s such a remarkable remnant, a shadow even, of what the Coast Range was not that long ago. So much has been transitioned to industrial tree farms that we really need to preserve this last little tiny sliver,” Giraudier says. For more info on the talk to go to www.cascwild.org — Shannon Finnell
WRITE-IN COUNCIL CANDIDATE
Stephen L. Wilson of Eugene has announced himself as a write-in candidate for the Eugene City Council Ward 6 position on the November ballot. His website is www.stephenlwilson.webs.com
Pat Farr won the nonpartisan May primary race with more than 50 percent of the vote and goes on the November ballot as the only listed candidate.
“Pat Farr represents old-school style politics, complete with a pocket full of ‘interested parties,’” says Wilson in an email to Eugene Weekly. “One of my concerns is that a career politician is not what the community needs anymore. I, for one, feel that the voting public deserves a qualified alternative, who will vocalize their interests. Pat Farr does not represent my best interest, nor the best interest of my local community.”
“I cheerfully toss my hat into this ring as a contender with the proper mix of experience, education, understanding and energy necessary to offer a true representative of the Bethel/ Danebo/ Petersen Barn/ Elmira Street areas for the election this fall.”
• A fundraiser for Rep. Paul Holvey is planned for 5 to 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 14, at Cowfish, 62 W. Broadway in Eugene. Hosted by Bob Carolan, Ed King and Margaret Hallock. No RSVP required.
• The Friends of Eugene annual meeting will begin at 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Eugene Public Library. Jason Miner, the new executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, will speak at 7 pm. See www.FriendsofEugene.org
• Republicans Against Art Robinson are meeting from 4 to 5 pm Fridays, Oct. 15 and 22, in front of the downtown Eugene Public Library. “Everyone’s welcome. Tell your favorite wing-nut story,” says a hand-written note from “Dr. Ivan Denisovich.” For information, call the dead Russian at a Junction City number, 998-1272.
• A “Final Push for Pat” Riggs-Henson for county commission continues with phone banking and neighborhood canvassing this weekend and next week. Call 515-3819 or email Matt Keating at email@example.com
• A two-day conference on Latino leadership, “One United Voice — Una Voz Unida,” is planned for Sunday, Oct. 17, and Monday, Oct. 18, at the Salem Conference Center. Find details at www.olaaction.org
• Congressman Peter DeFazio will be stumping for Sara Byers in her race to unseat Republican Bruce Hanna from 2 to 3 pm Monday, Oct. 18, at the Axe & Fiddle on Main Street in Cottage Grove. Call 954-3732 for more information.
• Author Barry Lopez and Oregon Wild are joining for a fundraising event to support Rep. Peter DeFazio at 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the McDonald Theatre downtown. Lopez will read from his works and Oregon Wild will present information about DeFazio’s legacy of work on wilderness areas, Wild and Scenic River designations, and protecting old-growth forests. Tickets are $25. For information about a private reception for DeFazio, call 344-0675. To help with DeFazio’s campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 485-1622.
• A symposium on “Women’s Rights, Microfinance, and Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty” is planned from 10 am to noon, Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the EMU Ballroom on the UO campus. Panelists include Lamia Karim, Cricket Keating, Julianne Pacheco, and Antonia Lydia Nalunga of Uganda. Sponsored by The Center for the Study of Women in Society. See http://csws.uoregon.edu
• A debate on Measure 74 is planned for 6 pm Wednesday, Oct. 20, at PLC 180 on the UO campus. Advocating for Measure 74 will be Lee Berger of Oregon NORML and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Opponents are to be announced.
• Independent candidates Mark Callahan, Kevin Prociw and Scott Reynolds are hosting a backyard barbeque and fundraiser at noon Saturday, Oct. 16, at 3621 Mahlon Ave., Eugene. Their next joint event is a town hall at 7 pm Friday, Oct. 22, at the EWEB Training Room. Callahan is running for House District 13; Prociw is running for House District 14; and Reynolds is running for Senate District 6. Contact email is Callahan4HD13Rep@gmail.com
• 1,312 U.S. troops killed* (1,299)
• 8,530 U.S. troops injured** (8,394)
• 594 U.S. contractors killed** (594)
• $354.0 billion cost of war ($338.0 billion)
• $100.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($96.1 million)
• 4,421 U.S. troops killed* (4,421)
• 31,934 U.S. troops injured** (31,934)
• 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
• 1,507 U.S. contractors killed** (1,507)
• 107,153 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (107,153)
• $750.0 billion cost of war ($750.0 billion)
• $213.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($213.3 million)
* through Oct. 11, 2010; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
*** 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)
When a man arranges to have his house burned to the ground so he can put up a larger one — while claiming a $350,000 tax deduction in the process — he may be the perfect gubernatorial candidate to upgrade the governor’s mansion.
— Rafael Aldave, Eugene
•• Here it is, our endorsements issue! More stories about the measures and candidates are coming next week, so if you have any doubts, stay tuned. Ballots go in the mail Friday. If you are under 18, missed the Oct. 12 registration deadline or are on the lam, undocumented or otherwise unable to vote, you can still participate in this democratic delight: Put up a yard sign, sign up for a phone bank, join neighborhood canvassing, write a check, wear a button or even persuade someone sitting on his or her ballot to lick it and stick it. It is up to each of us to inject some sanity into this election cycle marked by more than usual nonsensical ideology.
• Speaking of endorsements, we noticed the R-G’s peculiar pick of Sid Leiken for Springfield seat on the County Commission. The Jerry Rust endorsement for west Lane was logical, but the editorial favoring Leiken cited the “worst … leadership crisis in decades” on the commission. Huh? What leadership crisis? Maybe by “leadership crisis” they mean that more moderate candidates won instead of the right-wingers the R-G pooh-bahs have endorsed in the past. The current commission has shown exceptional leadership in dealing creatively with impossible budget projections, providing unprecedented community outreach, working to re-localize our economy and supporting green business and industry. The commission has also facilitated progress on big environmental issues such as saving the Wildish lands from development, protecting water quality and improving bike and pedestrian transportation planning. The current commission has actually evolved county leadership on many levels. We don’t need a return to those unimaginative, business-as-usual years that provided comfort to the R-G editorial board.
• Too bad the city decided to drop its silly case against William Biggs, a homeless man, for standing on a metal grate surrounding a tree downtown. This charge for “interfering with landscaped planting areas” was being challenged by the Civil Liberties Defense Center as a violation of constitutional rights. Biggs would have certainly prevailed, and that apparently made city management nervous. The Eugene City Code has numerous such vague and overbroad violations that are used to harass, intimidate and exclude people who are homeless, mentally ill and otherwise “undesirable” from downtown. Our city is engaging in a form of class warfare, and it needs to stop. Will it take an expensive-to-defend federal injunction to force the city into constitutional compliance?
• The Ducks’ collective grief and subsequent team support following the horrifying hit UO running back Kenjon Barner suffered Saturday during a kick-off return offered an unexpected palliative to the malaise of cynicism currently choking organized sports. Barner’s head seemed to swivel 180 degrees on contact, after which he collapsed in a motionless heap, knocked cold. It was one of those breathless, “oh, no” moments all football fans dread. Fortunately, Barner — with an ambulance waiting — was able to get to his feet, but another surprise was the response of head coach Chip Kelly and crew. The sight of the Ducks coaching staff escorting Gary and Wilhelmenia Barner into the inner circle surrounding their fallen son was a moment of pure uplift. What’s more, it offered an inspiring example of sportsmanship and the prioritizing of concern and solidarity over all else. Here’s hoping the Ducks, with the sports world watching, set a new standard of behavior with this spontaneous display of compassion.
• It was a year ago Oct. 21 that our longtime friend and EW art director Kevin Dougherty died unexpectedly at the age of 49. We think about him every day, and the corner of the Art Department where he worked remains unoccupied, with his collection of oddities still on the shelves. If you were a friend of Kevin’s, stop by EW between 4 and 6 pm Thursday, Oct. 21, for a casual gathering in his memory. We’ll pass around some old photos and snacks. Kevin always shared his stash of chocolate.
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
ELLEN SCHLESINGER (REVISITED)
October 2000: Trained as a painter in her native New York and in Paris, Ellen Schlesinger became a writer in 1970, the moment she hit the West Coast. “I wrote a piece about coming to California — the culture shock,” she says. “It was published as an op-ed in The New York Times.” Schlesinger wrote art criticism for San Franciso Bay Area publications until 1994, when she and her journalist husband retired to Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood. “I love Eugene — it’s the perfect place to be a gardener,” she says. Besides her own gardening, Schlesinger writes for Fine Gardening and other green-thumb journals. She came up with the idea for a neighborhood plant sale in 1998 — sale proceeds brought public tai chi lessons to Scobert Park the following summer.
2010 update: “Whiteaker is the ‘hot hood,’ very trendy now,” says Schlesinger, whose gardening column has appeared in the R-G for 12 years. “In June of 2011, the KLCC Garden Tour will be here.” Also known as the neighborhood’s go-to person for stray cats and dogs, Schlesinger has a new Whiteaker project (as yet undisclosed) in the works. “Ellen is a special person,” says her neighbor, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy. “She is a star and a real gift to our community.”