News Briefs: Angela Davis at Women of Color Confab | 4J Mulls Cuts, Equity, City Tax | Chromium-6 Gets Tested Locally | Toxics Board Members Appointed | Activist Alert | Lane Area Spray Schedule | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Retraining the Humans
A top bike planner offers lessons, inspiration for Eugene
Happening People: The Rev. Yao Feng Shakya
ANGELA DAVIS AT WOMEN OF COLOR CONFAB
Angela Davis, Yellow Rage and Favianna Rodriguez are keynote speakers at the eighth annual Women of Color Conference from 8 am to 6 pm Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21-22, in Gerlinger Lounge and the LLC Performance Hall at UO. The event is free and open to the public.
The theme of the conference, sponsored by the ASUO Womens Center, is "Our New Years Resolution: Ending Oppression Through Expression!”
"We hope to provide a safe, welcoming space for women and allies who historically have been marginalized to express their voices, experiences, and/or artistic talents,” reads a statement from the organizers. "Participants will attend workshops ranging from meditation to soul collage making to mural art, giving them the tools necessary to continue their healing and expression as resolutions throughout the year. The emphasis of this conference is healing and educating around social and political inequalities of women and on establishing ways to continue advocacy and progress through workshops, guided facilitations, lectures and film screenings.”
Angela Davis is perhaps best known for her role in the Black Panthers in the 1960s, being on the FBIs 10 Most Wanted List and founding Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex.
Today she is a political educator who incorporates feminism, African-American studies, critical theory, Marxism, prisoner rights and social consciousness into her publications and lectures. She will speak at 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 22, in Columbia 150. Doors open at 6 pm and her talk will be free for conference participants. For others, admission is $5 for students, $7 general.
Davis will also speak at 7:30 pm Friday, Jan. 21, at Willamette Universitys Smith Auditorium in Salem. See http://wkly.ws/10r for a complete two-week list of WU events surrounding MLK Day.
Yellow rage is a spoken poetry duo "pulling powerful words from their political ideologies, person life philosophies and unique experiences as Asian-American women.”
Favianna Rodriguez is an artist-entrepreneur who has helped foster a resurgence in political arts both locally and internationally. Named by UTNE Reader as a "leading visionary artist and change maker,” Rodriguez is known for her cultural media projects dealing with social issues such as war, immigration and globalization as well as for her leadership in establishing innovative institutions.
4J MULLS CUTS, EQUITY, CITY TAX
The Eugene 4J School District at a Jan. 12 board meeting increased its estimate of budget cuts, backed away from closing a diverse neighborhood school and supported a city effort to help fund local schools.
After hearing new numbers from Governor-elect John Kitzhaber, 4J Superintendent George Russell revised his $22 million estimate of cuts to $26 million. "The $26 million is a more realistic target,” Russell said.
At the meeting a majority of school board members and district staff appeared to oppose closing Adams elementary, one of the brownest and poorest schools in the district, to give the building to the Charlemagne French immersion elementary, one of the whitest and richest schools in the district.
"I wouldnt support closing Adams,” said board member Anne Marie Levis, a French immersion parent.
"I still do recommend moving the Charlemagne school to the Parker site,” Russell said.
But a board majority opposed officially taking the option of closing Adams off the table, forcing Adams parents to go to more late night meetings to defend their school.
Fox Hollow parents apparently wont have to plea for their school. The School Board has not applied the same closure tests and criteria to Fox Hollow as it has applied to neighborhood schools. Some critics have long charged that targeting poorer and browner neighborhood schools for budget cut closures while exempting richer and whiter alternative schools is discrimination.
The board now appears to be targeting the Parker neighborhood school to make room for the French alternative school. Two board members suggested a less disruptive and costly option of not closing a neighborhood school for the French school pending a proposed reevaluation of 4J alternative schools next year.
But other board members did not voice support for officially adding that option. "I guess that we are not going to do that,” Board Chairman Craig Smith said.
Moving Fox Hollow to Parker may apparently save almost no money, as it would require a new large parking lot and drop-off area because almost all the French school parents drive their kids to school, according to 4J staff.
But school administrators said they support closing neighborhood schools even if no money is saved, arguing that coping with staffing cuts is easier on kids and administrators in a larger school. Even if closing smaller schools saves no money, "it would still be a wise idea,” said Peter Tromba, head of a 4J administrators group.
District staff argued for a May school construction bond measure of about $130 million. They argued the timing would: leverage $15 million in federal construction funding; allow the district to claim it wasnt raising taxes because of an expiring previous school construction levy; and prevent layoffs of 4J construction staff.
But if the two measures divided and confused voters, a May bond vote to build new schools could cause the district to lose $10 million dollars or more in operating funding from a proposed city tax on the May ballot to prevent mass teacher layoffs, packed classrooms and four-day school weeks.
If both measures are on the ballot, "what would that mean for the chances for either or both passing?” Russell wondered.
Timing the school construction measure with the districts budget cuts could also complicate the bond measures passage. "Why are we asking for money to build schools when we are closing schools?” asked Pamela Gutierrez, a Crest Elementary parent.
Two board members and Russell spoke favorably of the city tax effort for schools.
Russell said he was "encouraged” that the Eugene City Council voted unanimously last week to study a city income tax to help fund the school district. "I think they need to be thinking about something that would be able to get $10 million for this district,” Russell said.
"I think that its important that were open to this conversation theyre having at the city,” board member Jennifer Geller said.
Board chairman Smith said of the city tax effort for schools, "Im hopeful that something will come of it.” ã Alan Pittman
CHROMIUM-6 GETS TESTED LOCALLY
Chromium-6, aka hexavalent chromium ã its the nasty cancer-causing stuff that led to a $333 million lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric in California for contaminating a towns drinking water and to the award-winning film Erin Brockovich.
After the advocacy organization Environmental Working Groups December report showing that hexavalent chromium is in the water of 31 of 35 U.S. cities, including Bend, the carcinogen became an issue again.
On Jan. 15 the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that utilities nationwide test drinking water for hexavalent chromium.
Karl Morgenstern, EWEBs drinking watersource protection coordinator, says, "We test for total chromium, which includes chromium-6, and have not had any detections above lab reporting limits in raw water.”
He adds, "We have had a few detections in some tributaries, Camp and Cedar Creeks, but only 5 to 10 percent of the time.”
The utility says it has never detected chromium in its finished water or in the distribution system.
EWEB begins enhanced monitoring for the contaminant this week and will send samples to a lab in California capable of detecting minute levels of chromium.
Chromium-6 has not been a regulated contaminant, but the EPA says, that "the science behind chromium-6 is evolving,” and the agency is reviewing its health effects.
The EPA has previously found hexavalent chromium "likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Previous studies have shown inhaling it causes lung cancer. In 2009, National Toxicology Program scientists reported that their two-year study on drinking water "clearly demonstrates” that the contaminant causes cancer. Rodents in the study developed malignant tumors in their small intestines and mouths from drinking water containing several different amounts of hexavalent chromium.
In Coos County, a controversial chromite mine under construction has caused fears that the contaminant could be released into the groundwater.
Although chromium occurs naturally in the earth, it can also get into water through chlorine, a common disinfectant in Oregon water systems, which can chemically transform the benign trivalent chromium into the carcinogenic chromium-6. ã Camilla Mortensen
TOXICS BOARD MEMBERS APPOINTED
The Eugene City Council recently made appointments to the Eugene Toxics Board, which makes policy governing the citys hazardous material reporting program.
David Beede was appointed to Position 1, an industry position, and Randy Prince to Position 6, an environmental advocacy position. Beede applied to serve to represent the interests of the business community that files annual reports under the Toxics Right-to-Know Program. "As this program is governed by the City Charter and local industry is required to participate, David hopes to ease the burden of this program on industry as much as possible,” according to a statement from Jo Eppli, city community relations and reporting analyst.
Prince is active in Eugene neighborhoods and currently serves as co-chair of the Neighborhood Leaders Council. He is an environmental advocate and he was active in Citizens for Public Accountability, the group that worked to create the Toxics Board. "Randy applied to serve on the Toxics Board because he sees it as a good opportunity to use his knowledge of industry and practical concerns for safety to satisfy both parties in potentially adversarial situations, as well as use his skills as a dispute-resolver or preventer,” says Eppli. "Randy will work to ensure the law is still effective.”
The city ordinance establishing the board calls for a balance of industry and environmental advocates. More information on the board can be found at http://wkly.ws/10e
« Oregonians will have an opportunity to meet with finalists as the Oregon Board of Forestry prepares to select a new state forester. A public forum with the finalists is scheduled to begin at 12:45 pm Jan. 25 in the Tillamook Room at ODF headquarters in Salem. A final round of interviews with the finalists, and the selection of a state forester are scheduled the next day, Jan. 26. Questions for the candidates can be emailed in advance to Twyla.Lawson@state.or.us
« At the Good Earth Home Show Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21-23, the Neighborhood Leaders Council Committee on Sustainability will be sponsoring a series of talks and workshops on how all of us and our neighborhoods can be more sustainable. Subjects include the topics of raising urban chickens, preserving picked foods, Victory Gardens, compost basics, "Green Living ã Getting Children Involved” and many more. Please see the complete list with times and dates at www.eugenesustainability.org
« State Sen. Lee Beyer and Rep. Phil Barnhart
are hosting district gatherings at 10 am
Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Aunt Dings Family Restaurant in Walterville; at 7:30 am Thursday, Jan. 27, at Randys Main Street Coffee in Brownsville; and at 7:30 am Friday, Jan. 28, at Creswell Coffee Company in Creswell. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-9207.
« Veteran foreign correspondent Reese Erlich returns to Oregon with a new book, Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire, and the award-winning reporter will speak at 1 pm Thursday, Jan. 27, at LCC Building 17, Room 309, and again at 7 pm in Harris Hall, 8th & Oak. Free. He will also speak in Portland Jan. 28. For more information, call Progressive Voices at 484-9167.
« A town hall forum on corporate control and the Citizens United case is being held at 6 pm Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Harris Hall in the County Building downtown.Sponsored by Move to Amend and others in organizing a democracy movement in Eugene. More information at email@example.com or (404) 290-2309.
« Last Thursday Beer Socialwith the Many Rivers Group of the Sierra Club will be from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Tiki Room at Eugene City Brewery, 844 Olive St. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
LANE AREA SPRAY SCHEDULE
« Eastern Lane: Weyerhaeuser Company Springfield Operations (998-7502; 746-2511) will ground spray using Milestone VM, Accord Conc., and Oust XP herbicides plus surfactants and crop oil within 10 feet of domestic water supplies and fish streams near Mohawk River, Log, Seeley, Cartwright, Parsons, Small, and McGowan Creeks starting as early as Jan. 17 (Notice No. 2011-771-00068). ODF Springfield 726-3588. Weyco would normally not spray until Jan. 27, but has asked for a waiver of the 15-day waiting period from ODF.
« Near Florence and Mapleton: Lane countywide ground spraying by Davidson Industries on Popo Properties (268-4422) with Garlon 3A herbicide and R-11 adjuvant starting Jan. 16 (No. 2011-781-00042).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
A sign of the times on a restaurant window: "COME IN OR BOTH OF US WILL STARVE.”
ã Rafael Aldave, Eugene
•« The court decision this week against Commissioners Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson was based on the judges highly technical and subjective 44-page analysis of the county boards very complex decision-making process, and we hope the ruling is tossed out on appeal. The judge admitted that quorum rules were never violated, but then went way beyond Oregon law to speculate on how decisions were made. His ruling sets a precedent that will make local government deliberations much more cumbersome. The Legislature tried to bring clarity to this process in 1991 with HB 2461 that, had it passed, would have made it a violation for elected officials to talk to each other about practically any business coming before the group. The Register-Guard editorialized against it Feb. 5, 1991 saying the bill would impose "extreme requirements,” and quoted commission chairman Jack Roberts saying, "If we cant talk to each other the rest of the time, we cant do anything.” Former commissioner Bill Dwyer was in the Legislature at the time and co-sponsored the bill. Ironically, the R-G is now editorializing against these one-on-one discussions. And lets not forget that the purpose of these "violations of the public trust” was to improve the publics access to county services. So much for good intentions.
But a bigger issue than public process is involved here. Do Seneca and other timber industries really care about our open meetings law? Or is this purely a business move, investing big bucks to bankrupt their political enemies and keep them from getting reelected? Heres one business scenario to ponder: The Lane County Commission becomes even more conservative and anti-government and votes to support the Association of O&C Counties proposal to sell off millions of acres of public land to private timber companies for a pittance. Oregon counties are desperate for cash. Lane County has the most O&C lands and therefore the most clout in Congress to make it happen. Wait 10 years until the market improves and literally billions in profits can be made through clear-cutting. Spending a few hundred thousand now to trash environment-minded commissioners is a solid investment, and if the timber barons can get their legal fees back in a lawsuit, all the better.
« The Register-Guard is wasting no time in going after Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy on all fronts now that the post-Tea Party election season Board of Lane County Commissioners has gotten a little more conservative. In an editorial Jan. 15 that read just like a recent news story (or wait, did the news story read like an editorial?) the R-G tweaked Handy and Sorenson for, gasp, wanting to delay a vote on appointing Undersheriff Tom Turner as the interim replacement for departing Sheriff Russ Burger. The sheriff is one of the most powerful elected officials in Lane County and the two commissioners wanted more public notice and a review of applications.Handy and Sorenson just cant win when it comes to the R-G. When the daily rag was creating a stink over the recent attempt to protect drinking water, it criticized the commissioners for not having enough public input. What gives, R-G? Now that the commissions gone a little more conservative, you guys dont believe in public input any more?
« Speaking of our favorite local daily, last week the R-G published one of the longest, most prominent and most embarrassing corrections in the papers history. The Jan. 14, page B-1, four-paragraph correction reversed much of a front-page news story written the day before on a 4J School Board meeting. But the reporter who wrote that story may be more likely to become the family-owned newspapers next editor than get fired. As the R-G reported when it hired Mark Baker: "He is the youngest grandchild of Alton F. Baker Sr., The Register-Guards publisher from 1927 to 1961.”
« Martin Luther King Jr. Day has gotten more attention locally and nationally than we can recall in recent years. The turnout was strong at MLK events around Lane County and MLK observances continue this week with the Women of Color Conference at UO and other events (see News Briefs). Kings legacy is particularly poignant this year in part because of the dramatic and tragic bloodshed in Tucson, Ariz. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a bright light shining in a dark and tumultuous time, as was King. Both serve as reminders of what can be accomplished with courage and dedication, and how far we still have to go in the pursuit of peace and justice. Peace and justice require that we stop turning to violence to solve conflicts, both around the world and here at home.
King ended his "Ive Been to the Mountain Top” speech April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated, with, I just want to do Gods will. And Hes allowed me to go up to the mountain. And Ive looked over. And Ive seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And Im happy, tonight. Im not worried about anything. Im not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
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
THE REV. YAO FENG SHAKYA
Scott Hill was born in Boise and grew up in Renton, Wash. He got into trouble, was expelled from seventh grade when his parents divorced, and joined his mom in Alaska at age 14, after his father died. He dropped out of high school, moved to Arizona on his own at 17, and fell into addiction, homelessness and crime. He followed a friend to Salem, then, still homeless, moved to Eugene 17 years ago. Two years later, he met Rhonda Martinez, who changed his life and became his wife. Together, they took up drawing, began making comic books and traveled to comic book shows from Seattle to San Diego. "I was checking into religions,” he says. "I had messed up so much, and Buddhism seemed accepting.” He studied Buddhism online and took up the meditative practice of Zen painting. In 2006, he was ordained as a priest in the Zen Buddhist order of Hsu Yun and given the name Yao Feng Shakya. Calling himself the Sad Monk, he posted his paintings online and found admirers worldwide hoping to purchase them. "I teach Zen Buddhism, taking the •ism out of it,” says Yao, who has 35 students. "Its about loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity.” Learn about his artwork and his weekly Zen painting class at "Zen paintings” on Facebook.