News Briefs: County Asks Judge to Reconsider | Reps De-Fund Sacred Vessels | Human Trafficking a Local Issue | Pesticides vs. Clean Water, GOP vs. Dems | Powered Up For Logging | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up | Corrections |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Schools Tax Adjusted
Council exempts poor from paying tax to fund schools/jobs
COUNTY ASKS JUDGE TO RECONSIDER
The Lane County Board of Commissioners filed a legal motion last week asking a judge to reconsider a ruling that members of the board violated the Oregon Public Meetings Law through successive, one-on-one discussions.
Judge Michael Gillespie wrote in his ruling, in a lawsuit linked to timber baron Aaron Jones, that County Commissioners Faye Stewart, Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy and former commissioner Bill Dwyer violated the law by talking to each other one-on-one outside a public meeting.
"The courts conclusion is the first of its kind in Oregon law and results in a substantial change in the public meetings law,” the boards motion to reconsider states. In support of its argument that the judge changed the law, the board motion cites attached "declarations of attorneys for the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities.”
"No prior Oregon case has indicated that a governing body can violate the Public Meetings laws by successive, one-on-one conversations that ultimately involve enough members of the governing body to equal or exceed the number of members who would provide a quorum at a public meeting,” the board legal memo states.
"This conclusion deviates dramatically from the interpretation of the Public Meetings laws by the Attorney General,” which is used to train public officials on the law, the memo states. The board quotes the AGs manual on the law: "A gathering of less than a quorum of a committee, subcommittee, advisor group or other governing body is not a •meeting under the Public Meetings Law.”
"The advice public bodies often receive on this subject from legal counsel throughout Oregon is consistent with this interpretation,” the board memo states, noting that they could find no cities or counties that interpret the law as prohibiting successive, one-on-one discussions as the judge claimed.
"Over the past 25 years, the legal counsel for Lane County has not advised its board and committees that successive, one-on-one conversations of board or committee members in numbers that could constitute a quorum, violate the Public Meetings Law,” the memo states, citing declarations from three current and former county lawyers.
"The courts conclusions of law, unless vacated, may have a broad chilling effect on legal, one-on-one conversations,” the boards legal memo continues. "Fundamental tension will occur between the courts interpretation of the Public Meetings Law, on the one hand, and constitutionally protected speech.”
The memo states that practical difficulties in implementing the ruling and a possible injunction against serial one-on-one conversations will "bedevil enforcement.” The memo notes that the judge himself "called the search for a bright line rule under Oregons law a •fools errand.”
The memo also cites legal precedents in arguing that the case was not filed against Stewart and Dwyer and the judge may not change the case at the end to add them as defendants. "The court may not find that a different, unpleaded combination of commissioners violated the law.”
ã Alan Pittman
REPS DE-FUND SACRED VESSELS
Planned Parenthood says condoms are cheaper than diapers, but much of Congress appears to disagree.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood gathered at the old Federal Building as EW went to press Feb. 24 to protest the proposed de-funding of Planned Parenthood and other family planning and sexual health organizations. "We want to raise our voices in protest and show that this vote is in opposition to mainstream America,” says Cynthia Pappas, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon.
The U.S. House voted Friday, Feb. 18 to approve a budget that would eliminate all funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, a portion of the 1970 Public Health Service Act. Because Title X is the only federal grant program devoted solely to family planning, the measure would cease federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Congressman Peter DeFazio, who voted against the amendment, called the vote extraordinary. "This is an egregious example of Republicans using social issues to distract from the real needs we face ã fiscal responsibility and targeted job creation. As was apparent in the four days of debate last week, they have no positive answers to address the serious issues facing our country.”
Eliminating Title X funding would cost the federal government more money in increased Medicare dollars, Pappas says. "In fact, for every dollar the government spends on family planning, it saves four dollars,” she adds. In Oregon, 23,783 clients received Title X-funded health care through Planned Parenthood in 2010.
In addition to access to contraception and information on contraception, each year Title X provides funding for tens of thousands of screenings for sexually transmitted infection, pap tests and breasts exams through Oregon Planned Parenthood alone. Title X is legally prohibited from funding abortion as a method of family planning.
"Elimination of federal funding would have a disastrous effect on our ability to provide health care to women who need it most,” Pappas says. She adds that the elimination of Title X funding is a strange decision for Republicans who claim to oppose abortion. "Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization to encourage the use of contraception and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.” ã Shannon Finnell
HUMAN TRAFFICKING, A LOCAL ISSUE
The FBI claims more than 100,000 children are sold in the U.S. for sex each year. "Trafficking these girls has become the new drug,” says Liz Ness, a past-president of Eugenes Zonta International chapter. "A young girl is a commodity that they (pimps) can get years and years of profit from,” says Ness.
Zonta, an organization of professionals and executives working to advance the status of women, is hosting three upcoming events to shed light on human trafficking, which Zonta calls modern day slavery, from children forced to work as prostitutes to people working in factories for no pay. "We want to help adults recognize this is not a problem just overseas, or in impoverished communities,” says Zonta member Pat Frishkoff.
Zonta will be hosting its first event, a discussion of the book Renting Lacy: A Story of Americas Prostituted Children with author Linda Smith at 5:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 24, at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St.
Smith, a former congresswoman, will be one of four panelists at Zontas forum celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Womens Day, at 11:30 am Tuesday, March 9, at the Eugene Hilton. Pre-registration is required at 345-7836. Open to the public, cost is $25, lunch included. Representatives from the Eugene and Springfield police departments will join Smith on the panel to discuss their experiences working with victims of human trafficking. "Having panelists from our local area really drives home the fact that this is a local issue for all families to be concerned about,” says Ness.
The City Club of Eugene will host a speaker, yet to be announced, Friday, March 11, to complement the forum. "There is so much to share on this issue, we really hope people can come to all three events as they are intended to build on one another,” says Frishkoff. ã Heather Cyrus
PESTICIDES VS. CLEAN WATER, GOP VS. DEMS
A congressional committee hearing in Washington, D.C., was called "a transparent attempt by lawmakers beholden to industrial agriculture interests to subvert the Clean Water Act,” by environmental groups. Activists are concerned the Feb. 16 joint House committee meeting was an attempt to undermine rules protecting waterways from pesticides.
Aquatic pesticide residues and drift from aerial pesticide spraying are pollutants under the CWA, according to the conclusion reached by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009. As pollutants they must be regulated to minimize impacts on human health and the environment. This conclusion was made final in February 2010 when the Supreme Court chose not to review the case National Cotton Council v. EPA.
Under the ruling virtually all commercial pesticide application to, over and around waterways require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
NPDES permits allow for citizens to comment on plans to apply pesticides and to demand oversight by regulatory agencies, which must evaluate the effects of individual pesticide applications on fish and wildlife, monitor the amount of pesticide that goes into the water and monitor the cumulative impact on organisms in the water.
Charlie Tebbutt, Eugene-based lead attorney on the case, said the decision "was a clear victory for clean water and human health.”
But the recent joint public hearing was conducted "to consider reducing the regulatory burdens” posed by the ruling, according to the Federal Register, and to discuss HR 6273, a bill that would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to exempt the application of pesticides from certain permit requirements under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
The meeting was made up of the Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, of the Committee on Agriculture; and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
No witnesses against the legislation were slated to participate.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, who serves on the Transportation Committee but not on the Water Resources Subcommittee said: "The Republicans are in the majority and are in control of the witness lists. I have always attempted to place knowledgeable experts to testify on issues before the subcommittees on which I serve. When Democrats were in the majority, we attempted to balance witness lists and apparently the Republicans do not intend to follow this precedent.”
At the hearing, Congressman Timothy H. Bishop, ranking member of the water subcommittee said, "The lack of opposing views on the witness panel hinders our ability to even discuss the very issue that members are struggling to understand.”
After concerns of the lack of minority (Democrat) input were voiced, Tebbutt was given five days to submit a written statement for the record, and the committee was asked to make the U.S. Geological Survey circular on "Pesticides in the Nations Streams and Ground Water” part of the formal hearing record. An earlier and longer version of this story appeared on blogs.eugeneweekly.com ã Camilla Mortensen
POWERED UP FOR LOGGING
Attention fans of Ax Men, the Oregon Logging Conference is coming to town Feb. 24 and it has three days of non-stop logging action for those of you with an inner urge to fire up a chainsaw and make chips fly. For those inclined to leave trees vertical, the UOs Public Interest Environmental Law Conference starts March 3.
Chainsaw carving, very large equipment and a "log loader competition” ã this last is just what it sounds like: people on big machines, loading logs ã are among the activities available for viewing at the Lane Events Center.
Family Day, Saturday, Feb. 26, is free and open to the public from 9 am to 2 pm and kids can check out "educational activities” such as simulated firefighting and building birdhouses. There will also be, as always, "millions of dollars in logging equipment to explore.”
The theme this year is "Powered Up and Ready,” and those who pay the $90 registration fee to attend the seminars at the conference can listen to an update on OSUs College of Forestry by its dean, Hal Salwasser, as well as talks on stewardship contracting, herbicide application, water and roads and logging near high-voltage power lines. Todd Payne, vice president of Seneca Jones Timber Company, will lead a seminar on "Business Opportunities in Biomass Production,” a subject of interest to many Eugeneans. ã Camilla Mortensen
« Activist, attorney and author Randy Shaw will speak about "Winning Social Change in Tough Times” Thursday, Feb. 24. He will speak first at 1 pm in Building 17, Room 309 at LCC, and again at 7 pm the UO Law School, Room 175. Donations are welcome. For more info, call Progressive Voices at 484-9167.
« Fashion Resistance to Militarism, the second annual fashion show focused on militarism, war and peace will be at 7 pm Friday, Feb. 25, at Agate Hall, 18th and Agate, on the UO campus. Free, open to the public. Produced by ASUO Womens Center and Oregon WAND, the showfeatures original fashion designs as a way to explore the high cost of militarism in our society. Margo Schaefer will be the emcee.
« A symposium on "Womens Activism, Womens Rights” will be from 3 to 5 pm Monday, Feb. 28, at the EMU Fir Room at UO. Vandana Shivawill serve as moderator and speakers will include Michele Gamburd, Eileen Otis, Guadalupe Quinn and Abby Solomon.
« The 29th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference begins Thursday, March 3, at the UO Law School and other locations on campus. See www.pielc.org for schedule, registration and housing bulletin board. This event draws thousands of attorneys, activists and law students from around the world.
« Project Homeless Connect is preparing for its fifth annual event March 17 at the Fairgrounds. Organizers are collecting coats, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, sleeping bags and backpacks, along with personal hygiene products. Donations may be dropped off at any St. Vincent de Paul store. Checks can also be sent to United Way of Lane County, 3171 Gateway Loop, Springfield 97477.
« 1,468 U.S. troops killed* (1,468)
« 10,351 U.S. troops wounded in action (10,308)
« 709 U.S. contractors killed (709)
« $380.0 billion cost of war ($377.9 billion)
« $108.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($107.5 million)
« 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
« 31,938 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,938)
« 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
« 1,521 U.S. contractors killed (1,521)
« 108,865 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (108,864)
« $775.5 billion cost of war ($774.2 billion)
« $220.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($220.2 million)
Through Feb. 21, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
When you look at the demonstrators in Egypt, you see democracy at work. When you look at the governor of Wisconsin, you see democracy standing on its head.
ã Rafael Aldave, Eugene
In the first letter to the editor last week ("A Human Wall of Support,” 2/17) Connor Auslands name was misspelled.
« The Food Justice gathering at the UO Feb. 19-21 was the hottest conference to come to Eugene in a long time. Imagine filling the EMU Ballroom for a panel discussion on a sunny holiday morning (Presidents Day), not to mention the full house for Vandana Shiva closing the conference. Sponsored by the interesting collaboration of the Morse Centerfor Law and Politics and King Estate winery, the conference was convened by Margaret Hallock, Morse Center director, and Allison Carruth, assistant UO English professor and core faculty member in environmental studies. Lindsay Naylor, a doctoral student in geography, coordinated it.
In Eugene and this great growing region, we constantly wrestle with economically, equitably and sustainably supplying healthy food to our community. Only 5 percent of the food consumed here is grown locally. About 3 percent of produce in our grocery stores comes from local growers. But great energy, on display at this conference, is fueling the steady search for solutions. Remember that the Lane County Farmers Market opens March 5 at 8th and Oak.
« Lane Countys Asian Festival at the Fairgrounds has grown in popularity, and last weekend drew more than 20,000 people over two days. The aisles were so tightly packed in places that strollers got stuck in gridlock. The popularity of this lively and inclusive celebration shows just how connected we all are, and how Asian cultures have permeated and enriched our valley.
The Asian-American connection is all about discovering the ways we are different and alike. Some of us like eggs with brown shells; some of us like preserved eggs sealed in foil that are brown all the way through. We all enjoy laughter, smiles, good music and dance. The old barriers of geography, ideology and language are breaking down, thanks to education, travel, business, technology, romance ã and various combinations thereof. Happy Year of the Rabbit. May we all live long and prosper.
« If you have not yet caught an episode of Portlandia, get on Hulu or turn on your TV (yeah, we know, television is bad for you, but you can make an exception) because it might be more aptly called Eugenia. From skits mocking diners who ask "is it local” to spoofing feminist bookstores, the show nails the Northwest. But a discussion before the Portland City Council last week made us wonder if Portlandia is really a reality show. As we go to press, the council is once again debating whether to "establish a city policy discouraging employee use of personal scented products in the workplace.” Yup, no perfumes, strong deodorants or colognes. Will Portland go fragrance-free? Its a big issue for those who are allergic or sensitive. Will Eugene follow in Portlands footsteps? Will the issue make it on Portlandia? Well, we hear IFC renewed it for another season.
« Our Loving Your Body issue Feb. 10 with its "Chemical Love” cover has become a collectors item. Nearly all the 40,200 papers we printed were picked up, though some stacks might have disappeared directly into recycle bins, thanks to those in our community who are too easily offended. Didnt get your copy? We have a small stash of leftover papers at the EW offices, 1251 Lincoln St. The content is highly educational, and the cover makes excellent gift wrap.
« Who are the sexiest bartenders in Eugene? Check our website this week for online nominations. March 7 is the deadline for voting and results will be in our Swizzle issue March 17.
« Few Americans have died in Iraq recently but it still costs U.S. taxpayers nearly $6 million a day to maintain our occupation there. An American teacher makes about $100 a day, so hey kids, how many teacher jobs is Iraq costing us? Iraq costs are expected to go up as we replace our military people with much more highly paid civilian contractors, aka mercenaries. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, 43 Americans were seriously wounded in action last week; many will be on VA disability for the rest of their lives. Taxpayers are being charged about $28 million a day to keep the Afghanistan war going, much of it deficit spending. Big civilian contracts there as well. We fill both coffins and corporate coffers.
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