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Eugene Weekly : News : 8.11.11





News Briefs: Golf Course Sprayed with Chemicals | Allegations Rile Up UO Philosophers | Hoedads Back for Bumpin' Good Time | Labor Board Rules on Old R-G Complaint | Keep Carbon, Save Trees | East Side Alliance | Activist Alert | War Dead | Corrections / Clarifications

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

News:

Problems in the ‘PUD

Controversy plagues local utility

Something Euge!

 

 

 



GOLF COURSE SPRAYED WITH CHEMICALS

A recent spraying of fungicides, herbicides and insecticides at Laurelwood, a city of Eugene-owned golf course that’s been open since 1929, is the source of dismay to its neighbors as well as Oregon Toxics Alliance. According to Lisa Arkin of OTA, portions of the course that were sprayed include areas near park benches and water fountains where children and course users could be exposed. She says neighbors did not see any signs posted 24 hours in advance warning of the toxic sprays, per city policy.

OTA has been working to reduce the amount of pesticide the public is exposed to, especially children, through its Safe Public Places campaign promoting the reduction of toxic chemicals through the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Arkin and several neighborhood leaders met with Craig Smith, recreation services director for Eugene and contract manager of Laurelwood, to discuss the pesticide spraying after concerned neighbors and Laurelwood users brought it to OTA’s attention.

 Images from OTA’s presentation at the Aug. 3 meeting show evidence of pesticides sprayed along water drainages leading to Amazon Creek, over standing water, along pathways and near tee-off areas. The stormwater runoff from such sprays can spread toxic chemicals beyond the areas sprayed and affect birds, fish and amphibians.

Spraying near waterways violates the city’s IPM policy, Arkin says. 

The chemicals used include glyphosate, which OTA says is a human hormone disruptor, has caused liver damage in lab experiments, is a neurotoxin linked to lowering children’s IQ and has been linked to multiple myoeloma. The chemical insecticide, which OTA says is a carcinogen and hormone disruptor that is acutely toxic to honeybees and lethal to many other beneficial insects as well as harmful to salmon, was also used.

According to the spray application report for Laurelwood, dated June 13, at least 10 different chemicals were used. 

Smith says ironically the current managers of the course have been working to reduce the amounts of chemicals used at Laurelwood. 

He says contrary to OTA’s claim that Laurelwood is a dispersed natural area — which “include natural areas and future developed parks in Eugene’s Parks and Open Space system which are not associated with either Eugene’s Ridgeline, Waterways, or the West Eugene Wetlands,” according to the city’s website — “It’s actually a golf course.”

The golf course managers, Will Benson and Todd Matthews, had agreed to get the course certified as an environmentally friendly Audubon Signature Program by June 30, 2012, but Smith says economic conditions have not allowed them stay on track to do that. 

He says the recent spray incident is “not an indicator of what these guys are doing up there.”

Smith says there was no water in the ditches at the time of the spray and the ditches were a new addition to the course. He says that ensuring Laurelwood follows IPM is his responsibility, and he has been working with the contractors since the issue arose on IPM and posting notifications. 

Arkin says Laurelwood isn’t the only public park that has had pesticides used where children and pets might come into contact with them. She says Hendricks Park also recently sprayed pesticides on its pathways during times park users could come into contact with them. — Camilla Mortensen

 

ALLEGATIONS RILE UP UO PHILOSOPHERS

Allegations of sexual harassment by an unnamed male faculty member of the UO Department of Philosophy by a retired faculty member have led to an investigation by the UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) and a lively discussion on philosophy blogs. Major points of the online debate are if and how the unproven allegations reflect on the reputation of a department known as a center for feminist thought and an exceptional place for women to study.

An Aug. 3 memo to department faculty and students by Russ Tomlin, senior VP for academic affairs, says the allegations were unfounded, in part because “no grievance or complaint was filed by any alleged victim.” The memo, requested by EW, states that there was “insufficient evidence” to conclude that the UO policy on conflict of interest or sexual harassment was violated. AAEO staff interviewed 25 current or former graduate students, eight undergrads and one faculty member, along with anyone else they were referred to who might know something about the alleged incidents.

The allegations were made public recently on Leiter Reports, a national philosophy blog by Brian Leiter. Leiter, in a July post, wrote that a UO grad student told him “there is a faculty member suspected of being a serial sexual harasser, and it was graduate students who had to raise a stink about it, due to departmental and administrative lethargy on the matter,” and that “a feminist philosopher on the faculty urged quiet about this incident lest it cost the department an award for being ‘women-friendly.’”

The “feminist philosopher” mentioned by Leiter is likely associate professor Bonnie Mann. When asked to comment, Mann said, “Leiter’s comments are grossly misleading and represent an aggressively stupid reading of my original statement.”

A statement this week signed by seven members of the faculty, including department head Ted Toadvine, calls the blog statements “false and misleading,” and says the allegations were addressed in “a timely way,” and there was no attempt to suppress information other than “respecting confidentiality” during the investigation.

On a different blog called Feminist Philosophers, Mann is quoted saying, “The entire discussion, as far as I can tell, seems to be based on a letter sent to Leiter … This letter seems to have been taken at face value, however, with no hesitation whatsoever in assuming its factual worth.”

Mann said the department had a history of sexual harassment up until about 15 years ago, but the issues were “transformed by the work of a number of our current faculty members, including Mark Johnson, and former faculty members, including Nancy Tuana, into a program that values feminism and has been a wonderful place for women to study. That reputation was hard earned.”

Mann said she’s worried that “the last thing that seems to be at issue in any of these discussions is the actual woman who may have been harmed, and the efforts to publicly defame the department without so much as a phone call to the Affirmative Action office to ask about the actual process or outcome of the investigation. … Some of us are being publicly hung here.”

UO senior spokesman Phil Weiler said the policy of the UO is to not release names of those making accusations in order to protect their privacy, and likewise protect the person accused since the investigation was inconclusive. 

What’s next? Tomlin’s memo says “In response to these circumstances, Academic Affairs has put together a working group to review and update our efforts to educate faculty on the management of sexual and romantic engagements with students and others on campus.” And the memo from the faculty says, “We take the recent events in our department as an invitation to work energetically and proactively toward improving the climate for women in our community even further.” — Ted Taylor

 

HOEDADS BACK FOR BUMPIN’ GOOD TIME

Get ready to do The Bump or The Reverse-Take-It-Back. It’s time to practice those tree-planting dance moves since the Hoedads are coming back to town. Members of the Hoedads Reforestation Cooperative will return to Eugene the weekend of Aug. 12 for their 40-year reunion celebration. 

The three-day celebration will be filled with private parties and a public dance party at WOW Hall. 

Jerry Rust, one of the organization’s two founders and former Lane County commissioner, says the celebration is sure to be filled with “laid-back earnestness.” Of course, what would you expect from the original tree-planting cooperative that preached ideologies such as feminism, environmentalism and participatory democracy?

Rust says the more Hoedads he “bumps” into, the more successful the night. 

“I’m looking forward to bumping into lots of old Hoedads,” Rust says, “and trying hard to remember gliding through the woods by day and huddling around a campfire by night eating peanut butter and sprouts sandwiches.”

Former Hoedads president Rust wants to pass on a philosophy: “Occasionally, when planting a unit I would hear someone on the crew yell, ‘Today the unit; tomorrow the world.’ There is the idea that if we can get it right locally, we can get it right globally.” He adds, “For the Hoedads, living locally was a straight tree root placed in the bottom of a deep hole, filled in with moist soil.”

The Hoedads will gather at the WOW Hall starting at 8 pm Aug. 13 (doors open at 7:30) with free admission for Hoedads. — Kendall Fields

 

LABOR BOARD RULES ON OLD R-G COMPLAINT

More than a decade ago, The Register-Guard and Eugene Newspaper Guild were embroiled in protracted labor disputes and Guard Publishing even imported the notorious self-described union-buster Michael Zinser to head negotiations. One of the many issues of the time was a disciplinary action against R-G copy editor Suzi Prozanski for improper use of a company computer to send emails in 2000 regarding union activities. Prozanski, who is married to State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, left the R-G in 2002.

The disciplinary action was appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, got national attention in law circles, and the case ended up in the U.S. Court of Appeals, where it was remanded to the NLRB. A decision dated July 26 finds in favor of Prozanski and the court is requiring the R-G to “rescind the disciplinary actions taken against Prozanski for sending those emails and to post an appropriate notice.” 

The order gives the R-G until Aug. 10 to “remove from its files any reference to the unlawful warning, and within three days thereafter notify Prozanski in writing that this has been done.”

“This is a big deal because it restores unions’ rights to communicate with members by email, even work email,” says Prozanski. “It’s a great decision, long overdue, and upholds the decision made after the original hearing on R-G ULPs (unlawful labor practices) back in 2001. (That decision, released spring 2002, was appealed numerous times.) Hooray for free speech!”

The court’s decision, in part, was based on the fact that the R-G management did not enforce its Communication Systems Policy banning non-work email. No employee had been reprimanded for sending out party invitations, birth announcements or other personal emails. The policy was only enforced for union communications. 

Is it all over? “This should be the end of it, assuming the R-G follows through with what they’re supposed to do,” says Prozanski. “Also, my understanding is that this went just one step shy of the Supreme Court. After the Federal Appeals Court decision, the R-G could’ve appealed to the Supreme Court, but did not.”

R-G Editor and Publisher Tony Baker did not respond to a request for comment by press time. — Ted Taylor

 

KEEP CARBON, SAVE TREES

With its 50-percent ratio of carbon emitted to carbon sequestered, Oregon is beating the national and global ratios at 15 percent and is a creating a prime place to bank on carbon reserves, says professor David Turner from OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Turner was part of a recent study that confirmed that the amount of carbon being sequestered in Oregon’s federal forests is substantial compared to the amount released in the atmosphere. 

So with thousands of acres of state forests in addition to federal forestland, why isn’t the state banking on these potentially profitable carbon reserves?

“Right now is a critical time to position Oregon to take advantage of up-and-coming carbon markets,” Kate Ritley, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, says. Carbon sequestration could be some forests' (like the Elliott State Forest) only hope against logging, according to Cascadia Wildlands campaign director Josh Laughlin. Any profits from the Elliott go to the Common School Fund to contribute to Oregon’s public schools. 

“The Elliott State Forest has an unmatched ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” he says. “The state of Oregon must leverage the ability of this priceless forest to store carbon for dollars instead of clearcutting vast tracts of rainforest and exacerbating the climate crisis,” he adds.

But the state isn’t jumping on board yet, preferring to cut down trees to fund public schools. 

“Although the state has indicated interest in the carbon market potential of state forests, their actions are in direct opposition to their words,” Ritley says, adding that her organization is fighting a new management plan that would increase logging in the Elliott, releasing even more carbon.

Ritley added that California is only a year or two away from taking its carbon market live. It’s expected to become the biggest in the country and to generate more than $10 billion within five years, linking with several carbon markets in Canada. The longer Oregon waits to expand its carbon market, the more potential revenue is lost, Ritley said.

“It is appalling that a state so green as Oregon is proposing to ramp up clearcutting of older public rainforest on the Elliott State Forest,” Laughlin said. “These forests must be safeguarded for the clean water they provide, the pure air we breathe, the climate they stabilize and for the essential habitat they offer for critters on the brink of extinction.” 

The Cascadia Forest Defenders have been focused on the Elliott for a campaign to stop the increased clearcut logging that would take place under the new plan. The campaign has included recent tree sits, a lockdown by the Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp at the ODF office in Molalla and on Aug. 8 the group supported Barbara Shamet and Wolfgang Schwarz, whose farm in Alleghany, Ore., borders the Elliott, in talking to loggers about the clearcutting 1,000 feet south of their property. The landowners say they plan to fight the timber sale, which Shamet says took place in a “closed door process.” — Kendall Fields

 

EAST SIDE ALLIANCE

Some Eugeneans got excited when Michelle Obama’s motorcade pulled through town on Aug. 8. Others got excited when the chair of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality landed in Oregon and headed out to Oregon’s east side to check out a proposed forest restoration plan on the Malheur National Forest. 

Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center says CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley headed out to John Day to check out the Soda Bear Project on the Malheur National Forest and meet with a collaborative group called the Blue Mountains Forest Partners that Brown says “is working on community-based solutions.” Brown says she has been working with the collaborative for about six years and says the diverse group of stakeholders includes environmentalists, loggers and county officials. 

The group has proposed restoration-based logging on the 20,000 acre Soda Bear Project that Brown says is based on the science of forestry professors Norm Johnson of Oregon State and Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington, two of the authors of the Northwest Forest Plan, which has managed logging on much of Oregon’s federal forests since 1994. The Soda Bear P roject would draw on the scientists’ “dry forest restoration principles.” 

Restoration work on Oregon’s dry east side has been made trickier by what Brown calls the “21-inch rule” that retains trees over 21-inch dbh in order to preserve old-growth values. But Brown says that rule “can get in the way of some restoration that needs to be done.” The 21-inch rule was intended to be temporary until a new ecosystem management plan could be created for the non-Northwest Forest Plan lands, like the Malheur, in the Pacific Northwest.

The Soda Bear plan, whose environmental analysis is in the midst of its 30-day objection period under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, would allow for logging of trees greater than 21-inch dbh under a “regional forester’s eastside forest plan amendment” that would retain all trees that are older than 150 years, as opposed to trees greater than 21 inches. 

Brown says this is also based on the research of Robert Van Pelt (aka Big Tree Bob) and the need to look at more than just diameter in terms of a tree’s old-growth characteristics. She says that after years of fire suppression a fast-growing white fir can crowd out the ponderosa pine, but the 21-inch rule can keep those trees from being cut. According to the Soda Bear Project legal notice, “Diameter limits can deter the harvest of young, relatively large trees that crowd older trees, greatly increasing the risk that the old trees would die as a result of either wildfire or insect attack.”

The legal notice, available at http://wkly.ws/13g says the age of the trees will be determined by Van Pelt’s guidelines “Identifying Old Trees and Forest” and through coring some of the trees. 

Brown says of the plan “It’s a little bit risky, but we feel very strongly that this is based in science.” — Camilla Mortensen

ACTIVIST ALERT

• A town hall meeting on state and national Alzheimer’s plans will be from 4 to 6 pm Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Campbell Senior Center at 155 High St. The recommendations and comments expressed at this town hall event will inform the creation of an Oregon state plan for Alzheimer’s and will be shared with officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A panel of local experts will include Adele Ismert, Donna Peterson and Liz von Wellsheim. For more information, email jon.bartholomew@alz.org

• Oregon’s Fish Passage Task Force will meet from 8 am to 5 pm Friday, Aug. 12, at the Hilton in Eugene to consider current statewide fish passage issues. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The nine-member group meets quarterly to advise ODFW on fish passage policies and issues. For more information, call (503) 947-6224.

• The Eugene Solutions Team has free events coming up, starting with an Amazon Creek work party from 4 to 6 pm Friday, Aug. 12, at West 16th and Polk, to help build pet waste receptacles along the Fern Ridge Bike Path. Next is the Jefferson Westside Garden Tour from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 13. Meet at Charnel-Mulligan Park. Next is a “Growing a Healthy Neighborhood” workshop on improving local water quality by making small changes in our own yards, from 2 to 4 pm Sunday, Aug. 14, at Charnel-Mulligan Park. Aimee Code will lead. A free “End of Summer Celebration” and community meal will be at 6:30 pm Sunday, Aug. 14, at Charnel-Mulligan Park. For more info visit eugenesolutions.org or call (503) 480-9278.

• The third annual Pollinator Party is coming up in early September and the deadline for discounted tickets is Aug. 12. The dinner and auction in support of the Eugene-based Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) will be Sept. 9 at the Downtown Athletic Club. Buy tickets online at www.pesticide.org and for more information email info@pesticide.org or call 344-5044.

 

WAR DEAD  

In Afghanistan

•  1,687 U.S. troops killed* (1,669)

• 13,011 U.S. troops wounded in action (12,877)

• 887 U.S. contractors killed (887)

• $441.9 billion cost of war ($439.6 billion)

• $125.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($125 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)

• 111,665 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (111,536)

• $790.4 billion cost of war ($789.4 billion) 

• $224.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($224.5 million)

Through Aug. 8, 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)

 

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

In our New Briefs last week (“A Search for Solutions”) we wrote that all are welcome to attend the Downtown Neighborhood Association Steering Committee meeting at 6 pm Aug. 25 at the Eugene Library, but we heard from David Mandelblatt of DNA that “If everyone in Eugene comes to the Steering Committee meeting we’ll have chaos, and nothing will get done. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but assuming that IS what I said, it’s a really bad idea!” Mandelblatt suggests interested community members send comments to dna.eugene@gmail.com or post to the forum at www.eugenedna.org/forum

 

 

 

SLANT

• Some of us remember Mark Hatfield from earlier times in Oregon when politics seemed less polarized and being a politician was more about serving the public interest and less about promoting a narrow ideology and belonging to a gang. Hatfield was a Republican who earned the trust and the support of Democrats because he was clear-headed, far-thinking and independent of party lines. As a senator and governor he was an effective and creative advocate for our long-term economic vitality. Once upon a time Oregon voters marked their ballots for the most qualified candidates, regardless of party affiliation. Now we vote straight party lines out of fear that extreme party platforms will lead us to ruin. Does Hatfield’s death mark the end of an era, or does his legacy of bipartisan sanity remind us of what we can aspire to in his memory?

Is print dead? Not yet. We got great news last week that EW now has a record 96,457 regular print readers in Lane County, up from 84,570 last year, and an even more dramatic jump from 77,180 back in 2007. These numbers are from the independent Media Audit, a company that does extensive, in-depth, random polling every spring to document what local media local people use, what they buy, etc. We’re happy to see our readership take a big jump, but we see The Register-Guard’s readership numbers have dropped significantly in every category. Puzzling statistics. Last year 25.3 percent of Lane County residents read the R-G weekday sports section. This year it’s only 19 percent. Where did the sports fans go? Online? Both papers have a growing web presence, but for some reason, people still like us in print. 

• Fascinating process going on in the UO Department of Philosophy regarding unsubstantiated allegations of sexual harassment reported by a former faculty member (see News Briefs this week). The department has evolved over the years to become a national center for feminist philosophy and has a reputation for being a great place for women to study, so the allegations were particularly disturbing for both faculty and students. But unlike earlier times when sexual harassment was common and ignored, a thorough investigation was conducted which determined the allegations were unsubstantiated. Unfortunately, a blogger and University of Chicago law professor, Brian Leiter, posted rumors as facts in this case, mistaking confidentiality for cover-up. Has the department’s reputation been besmirched? Maybe not. The investigation shows how seriously the department and the university take such accusations. 

Who’s to blame for the economic crisis? Unfettered capitalism brings exciting boom and bust with its gross inequities, while socialism brings boring stability with its overriding sense of social justice. We favor the latter, but we don’t seem to be heading in that direction. And while everyone is watching the emotion-driven stock market (and most of us are pissed at obstructionist conservative wingnuts), climate change continues to threaten not only our economy but also our national security. Everything is tied together: Short-term, greedy, materialistic thinking hurts our environment, our health and our national bank account. Maybe we need a new national slogan. We heard a couple of good suggestions from EW reader Melanie Lee: “A Healthy Global Ecology Equals a Healthy Global Economy,” and “Power to the People and to the Natural Environment.” Any others?

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