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Eugene Weekly : News : 7.28.11





News Briefs: Action on the Elliott | Turmoil on Industrial Lands Panel? | Riverbend Slouches | Mall Rats Demystified | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Something Euge!

 

 



ACTION ON THE ELLIOTT 

The effort to save Oregon's state lands from logging ramped up in the predawn hours of July 26 when the Cascadia Forest Defenders, Earth First! and other activists put up tree sits and blockaded access to several timber sales along the west fork of the Millicoma River in the Elliott State Forest.

As of press time, one of the three tree-sit platforms had been knocked out of the tree by an unidentified man on a bulldozer.

Photo by Camilla Mortensen

The Oregon Department of Forestry is planning to increase the logging on the native, previously uncut forest, which is home to Endangered Species Act-listed marbled murrelets. CFD and Earth First! are using direct action campaigning to stop the clearcutting.

The protest is the culmination of a four-day “action camp” to train forest activists and support nonviolent direct defense of the coastal rainforest. 

“Direct action is one of our most effective tools for creating change in this country,” says Kim Marks of Rising Tide North America. “Just ask the suffragettes, the Underground Railroad and the unions, which created the eight-hour workday and ended child labor camps.” Marks led workshops on strategic campaigning and on renegade blockades at the action camp. 

At 93,000 acres the Elliott State Forest is the largest original coastal forest left in Oregon, according to conservation group Cascadia Wildands, which has been working to defend the Elliott through lawsuits and public comments. The group says ODF not only plans to start clearcutting on the previously intact western half of the forest, but also the logging on the forest could increase to 1,000 acres a year. 

Jason Gonzales of CFD, and one of the organizers of the action camp, says the group wants to send a message to ODF that “we’re in the fight to win.” He points out that after years of “relentless direct action” the Forest Service had to change its ways. He says that agency still has its problems, but has made vast improvements, where “ODF as an agency has been going the opposite way.” 

CFD organizer Meredith Cocks called the clearcutting on the Elliott “really atrocious.” she says, “A lot of people in the group are really passionate about it.”

The camp, which was partly supported by donations from local businesses, at its height drew over 70 participants both local and from across the country. Many attendees came from the recent Earth First! Rendezvous in Montana, which culminated in a protest against Big Oil at the governor’s office that made headlines across the country.

The CFD camp, deep in the Elliott off long and winding forest roads (that got certain EW reporters a little lost), had workshops ranging from educating activists about the Elliott to wilderness survival and tree climbing to fighting oppression. Participants also learned informally from chatting with more experienced activists about the nuts and bolts of living on a platform in an old-growth tree. Games were used to train participants in running on steep slopes and through the forest’s understory.

CFD organizer Emmalyn Garrett says that the trees of the Elliott are of more benefit to Oregon’s schoolchildren if left standing. The logging, she says, generates only a small percentage of school funds. 

The Elliott State Forest, which is also used by Oregonians for recreation, is part of Oregon’s Common School Fund lands. A report on the Elliott by economist Eric Fruits that was presented to the State Land Board states, “Department of State Lands management of the Elliott State Forest yields returns of less than 1 percent.”  The State Land Board is made up of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon secretary of state and the state treasurer.

There is “a deep-seated issue of politicians and wealthy timber interests colluding to make a buck at the cost of Oregon’s future,” Garrett says. “Our group is really committed to being out here and having a sustained presence.” 

The protesters have issued a list of demands including stopping the use of herbicides in the forest and stopping the logging of native forests on public land in Oregon.

Some of the camp’s attendees not involved in the current tree sit and blockades will be heading to the third Annual Cascadia Trans’ and Womyn’s Action Camp July 27 to Aug 1. For more info go to http://twac.wordpress.com/

For updates on the action in the Elliott, go to blogs.eugeneweekly.com and see next week’s issue. — Camilla Mortensen

 

TURMOIL ON INDUSTRIAL LANDS PANEL?

The city of Eugene’s industrial lands planning and the Envision Eugene process took a hit this week from Kevin Matthews of Friends of Eugene. Matthews said FoE is “very concerned about the breakdown of transparent, frankly collaborative or consensus process in Envision Eugene industrial lands planning.”

In an email to city planners and Planning Commission members July 25, Matthews went on to say, “Our fundamental concern, beyond process, is that, by failing to conduct accurate fact-based industrial lands planning, the city of Eugene may put itself on a course to miss the real economic development needs and aspirations of our community — while damaging significant resources pointlessly, along the way.”

Matthews said a committee report that was “short, marred by error, non-consensus, and filed unilaterally by one co-chair — is still apparently being carried forward by city staff as legitimate collaborative work output from the committee” on industrial lands. 

Pat Johnston is co-chair of the committee along with Rusty Rexius and said that, “It is accurate that the Envision Eugene Industrial Lands committee did not reach consensus. … It was our understanding that the city of Eugene intended to pull the committee back together and bring in a consensus facilitator to help the committee meet resolution."

Matthews said FoE is concerned that city staff is going ahead with implementing an expansion of the urban growth boundary for northwest Eugene industrial lands “even though they have not yet even completed the current industrial lands inventory, and have not addressed either the failed technical process or the failed community process regarding actual industrial lands need.”

City planners did not respond to a request for comment by press time. — Ted Taylor

 

RIVERBEND SLOUCHES

Italy has its Leaning Tower of Pisa. Does Oregon now have its Leaning Tower of RiverBend? EW has heard reports that the massive 386-bed medical center built in 2008 on sandstone next to the McKenzie River is settling, despite the hospital’s six-foot thick reinforced concrete foundation slab. One source told EW that a gurney with a patient on it slowly rolled by itself through a doorway and bumped against a hallway wall.

Uneven floors on some medical units have been confirmed but are not a serious concern, according to PeaceHealth spokesman Jim Godbold. Minor cracks in concrete walls have also been observed, but Godbold said the foundation is fine. “The building is doing some natural and expected settling, and there is some deflection, or bending, between columns in some areas,” he said. “As a result, there are spots where the floor is not level. This is being addressed with floor filler on a case-by-case basis.”

When asked about standing water in the physicians’ parking garage, Godbold says there is no groundwater infiltration through the foundation, but during heavy rainfalls, “water runs down the entrance ramps past the drains and pools on the concrete floor.”

Philip Farrington, PeaceHealth’s regional director of land use planning and development, did not return a phone call by press time, and Godbold did not respond to a question about the cost of needed repairs. Nor could the runaway gurney story be confirmed.

Engineers for RiverBend were KPFF, with offices in Eugene, Portland and Seattle involved in the design and construction. One KPFF engineer, reached by phone, said it would be a violation of his professional ethics to speculate about any potential problems with the structure. “All I’ve heard is that the building is rock solid,” he said.  — Ted Taylor

MALL RATS DEMYSTIFIED 

Bailey Ellis-Wiard was 17 years old when a homeless man stopped her on the downtown mall and asked for a penny. They were of a similar age, and she took the interruption in her errands as a chance to ask a few questions: How long had he been living on the streets? Why? Where did he sleep? 

A week later she ran into him again, then again. The two unlikely compatriots became friends. Ellis-Wiard used the two months of their friendship to try to understand the world of this 20-year-old ex-Marine and homeless alcoholic. She was introduced to his court of Kesey Square street kids and became fascinated with the issue of teen homelessness. She met kids who were homeless by choice.

“For some it’s a rite of passage,” Ellis-Wiard explains. “They can live on the streets for a few weeks and return home, but for most it often leads into homelessness not by choice due to substance abuse.”

Then her friend disappeared, and in the space of two evenings Ellis-Wiard pounded out the rough draft of a play. “It was awful,” she says with chagrin, “but I didn’t necessarily think of it as something that would be performed. Maybe (the play) was just something that could document what had happened.”  

She showed the play to a few friends as a way of sharing her experiences. Within a few years she had carefully rewritten the script and held a staged reading. She was supported by the likes of Patrick Torelle, Ralph Steadman and Trial by Fire Theatreworks.

She finds herself directing an 18-member cast at LCC’s Blue Door Theatre this summer. “Rhea Gates has been the biggest help!” Ellis-Wiard says of LCC’s Student Production Association president, who is also playing the lead role based on Ellis-Wiard.

The hardest part of being the director of her own script? “Getting my ducks in a row,” Ellis-Wiard says with a sigh. Competing for actors, shaking folks down for props, trying to set a rehearsal schedule that accommodates everyone’s work schedules, cobbling together costumes — Ellis-Wiard has had her hands full staging the show.

Ironically, sharing what is a very personal story has not been at all difficult. “This isn’t about me,” Ellis-Wiard says. “It’s about the very important issue of teen homelessness.”

The few times most of us have ever stopped to wonder about the street kids hanging out around Kesey Square, our thoughts are primarily centered around getting through them with our change still in our pocket and our conscience unrattled. Shannon: Based On A (Maybe) True Story offers us a chance to explore the world of teen homelessness through the lens of a young woman with no agenda, only curious compassion.

Admission is by donation ($5 suggested) and all proceeds will go to Sheltercare, but Ellis-Wiard stresses that anyone can attend the play, regardless of ability to pay. “What’s most important is that people come,” she says.

Shannon plays 8 pm Aug. 4-14 at LCC’s Blue Door Theater; info on Facebook at http://wkly.ws/139  and at http://wkly.ws/13a Anna Grace

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

• The Eugene Veg Education Network is sponsoring a free talk on “Personal Food Choices and Climate Change” with speakers Dale Lugenbehl and Sandy Aldridge at 7 pm Thursday, July 28, at the McNail-Riley House, 13th and Jefferson. 

• The next volunteer clean-up at Civic Stadium will be from 10 am to noon Saturday, July 30. Bring hand tools, gloves and water.

• Controversial issues in Oregon will be the subject of a new weekly series on Community TV, cable channel 29. It begins at 7 pm Saturday, July 30. The first program debate will review “Is Israel Justified Being in Palestine?” and debaters will be Barry Sommer and George Beres. Future programs will include politics, religion, athletics and election reform.

ELAW will be the featured nonprofit at the 7 pm Thursday, Aug. 4, Em’s baseball game, which means ELAW makes $3 on every $9 ticket they sell, and folks can use the tickets as a voucher for any game this season. Contact ELAW’s Michele Kuhnle at michele@elaw.org or 687-8454 ext. 14.

• A Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Fukashima Commemoration will be from 7 to 9:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, at Alton Baker Park near the duck pond. A community potluck is followed by an 8 pm program featuring Japanese Koto music, Taiko drumming, Obon dancing, origami making and a call to action by Mayor Kitty Piercy. The event will close at dusk with the floating of candle lanterns on the duck pond while Koto master Mitsuki Dazai plays traditional Japanese music. The event is free but donations can be made to benefit Japanese tsunami survivors. Contact Michael Carrigan of CALC at 485-1755 or calcpeace@efn.org for more information.

 

WAR DEAD  

In Afghanistan

•  1,669 U.S. troops killed* (1,647)

• 12,765 U.S. troops wounded in action (12,593)

• 887 U.S. contractors killed (887)

• $437.3 billion cost of war ($434.9 billion)

• $124.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($123.7 million)

In Iraq

• 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)

• 31,922 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,922) 

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

• 1,542 U.S. contractors killed (1,542)

• 111,380 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (111,331)

• $788.6 billion cost of war ($787.6 billion) 

• $224.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($224 million)

Through July 25, 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)

 

LIGHTEN UP

Obama has already given away the store to the Republicans in the negotiations over the debt ceiling. What’s left to give them? Bo, the White House dog?

by Rafael Aldave

 

 

 

SLANT

• What is the future of electrical power in Eugene? City Club July 22 provided a fascinating look into local energy management with Clay Norris, director of power resources for EWEB, and Julie Daniel, executive director of BRING and a member of EWEB’s Integrated Energy Resource Plan (IERP) advisory panel. We learned that: Americans consume twice as much power per person than Europeans. About 40 to 45 percent of the energy used in the Northwest is from coal, natural gas and nuclear reactors, but 70 percent of EWEB’s energy is from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines. One of the biggest challenges is balancing production and needs, particularly with our “wacky” weather patterns. Wind and water are irregular power sources. Right now, EWEB’s highest power usage is cold winter mornings, but in the future, electric car charging is expected to boost power demands in early evenings. “Aggressive conservation is the most prudent tactic to take,” says Norris. “Conservation beats renewables every time.”

If you missed the program live, a video can be watched soon on YouTube by searching for “City Club of Eugene 2011.” 

• What’s going on down at Scobert Park in the Whiteaker? The little park has a long history as a hang-out for drug dealers, drunks, prostitutes and people who are homeless, but it’s also a nice bit of grass, shrubbery and shade for local residents out for strolls or dog walking, and Scobert has seen many neighborhood picnics and outdoor music events. Eugene police and neighbors keep an eye on the park and we hear meetings are happening between EPD and city parks people to discourage illegal activities. But will the benches and shade trees go away in the process? Will there be more fences? Some landscaping work is reportedly already under way.

Mayor Piercy has kind words for the “wonderful” neighbors and the work they do “to keep good stuff going on there” at Scobert Park. She says local residents “rarely complain but every once in a while the type of activity going on there gets hard for people to live with and they ask for some help.” What will that help look like? Scobert Park is on the agenda of the Whiteaker Community Council at 7 pm Aug. 10.

Roseburg is a tough place to be a Democrat, and it appears to be getting worse now that the Tea Party fanatics are crawling out from under the rotting stumps of Douglas County clear-cuts. Some 16 Democrats, mostly women age 65 and above, were having a quiet MoveOn.org potluck in River Forks Park July 16 when they were accosted by about 35 rude and hostile, flag-waving Tea Party rednecks, according to a story by Heather Morse in The News-Review (see http://wkly.ws/13b and video at http://wkly.ws/13c). Forced to leave and fearing for their safety after they were followed to a private home, the women called the Sheriff’s Office and are now considering filing a criminal complaint for harassment. Sheriff John Hanlin never showed up and is apparently not investigating the incident. We hear he’s a Harley-riding Tea Party guy himself.

EW reader Michael Hinojosa of Drain says he visited the Americans for Prosperity/ Tea Party booth at the North Douglas County Fair last weekend and knows most of the people there. He asked about the “Roseburg goon squad” and enjoyed an hour of “verbal battles until we all laughed and hugged as I gave them the peace sign.” He added, “I hate the way our leaders would rather have us peons doing battle against each other, rather than doing anything constructive to make our country work together.”

• Must be a confused robot that’s sorting phone numbers for political robocalls around here. We’ve had two calls from Dick Morris, a sleazy national strategist once on the left and now on the extreme right, who says he’s talking to “solid conservatives and Tea Party patriots in our area” who want to defeat Obama. Take our names off the list, please. 

• We try to avoid duplicating letters in the R-G since our space is so tight, but occasionally the same letter will run in both papers. When that happens, it’s worth looking to see if the letters are edited differently. The letter “Collective Yawn” by R.L. Thompson July 21 talked about conservatives being angry with progressives taking over the majority on the County Commission and included the phrase “with a later specious lawsuit against them that firmed up that notion.” That phrase was deleted from his same letter in the R-G July 16. Thompson tells us he figures the omission is consistent with the R-G’s “continuing vendetta” against liberal commissioners. “While I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest Murdochian influence in the running of the R-G, sometimes I’m given cause to wonder,” he says.

Scientist Mary O’Brien, longtime EW columnist now living in Utah and working for the Grand Canyon Trust, tried in vain some years ago to form a coalition of environmental groups in Lane county. That’s one tough assignment, as even  the determined O’Brien soon found out. But Portland is putting out a model we should examine. The Oregonian headline last week: “A nonprofit coalition blazes a trail for nature.” Called the Intertwine Alliance, it includes about three dozen nature-based nonprofits and some big relevant businesses such as Columbia Sportswear and Keen Footwear, plus governmental groups such as Portland Parks & Recreation. Mission: “Raise awareness and money for local parks, trails and open spaces nonprofits.” With a starting staff of two, Intertwine has a budget of about $250,000 for fiscal 2011-12, with $100,000 coming from Metro. ODS Health has even donated $10,000. Part of a national movement in big urban areas, Intertwine makes sense in our big-enough city. Let’s just do it.

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