News Briefs: County Kills Committees | Logging and Landslides | Sunday Streets, Car-Free Fun | Dorena Dam Disturbs Residents | Tenacious Teabaggers | David Miller Remembered | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Problems in the ’PUD, Part II
Happening People: Jim Thomas
COUNTY KILLS COMMITTEES
Members of the Lane Board of County Commissioners Aug. 3 quietly killed the Vegetation Management Advisory Committee and the Commission on Advancement of Human Rights in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken and Faye Stewart voted to kill the committees, and Commissioners Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson voted to keep them.
VMAC has dealt with issues of roadside pesticide sprays and given public input into the Integrated Vegetation Management program. Sorenson says the committee has been active for 30 years. Currently Lane County has a moratorium on chemical sprays on its roadsides, which is one reason Bozievich gave for voting the end the committee. He says, “We did eliminate VMAC because we no longer use chemicals, and we felt the roads and parks advisory committees could cover any issues around vegetation that come up.”
But VMAC member Jan Wroncy — who hadn’t been informed that the committee had been eliminated before EW called for an interview — says there is a need to educate property owners on not spraying county rights-of-way with chemicals. This is an issue that arose during the board’s discussion. County Administrator Liane Richardson said that education about chemical sprays and outside entities spraying within Lane County’s borders were not part of VMAC’s charge.
According to the Lane Manual, among the committee’s duties was: “Serves as liaison group in representing the vegetation management concerns of the community to the board and representing board decisions to the community.”
Wroncy says, “The biggest unresolved issue is that private property owners are illegally spraying the Lane County right-of-way in front of their property, exposing their neighbors and passers-by.” She says that not only do people spray chemicals, but “often the spraying is done in a way that does not follow the manufacturer’s label, for instance pesticides that are not approved for use in water are sprayed directly in a ditch.”
Handy said at the meeting that the “need for the committee still is there,” and the county is “not performing our good neighbor function as a property owner” if it stops monitoring unwanted vegetation and chemical sprays on its rights-of-way.
Bozievich says, “It also saves $8,000 to $10,000 in the budget and we just don’t have money to fund a committee without a clear purpose.” He gave a similar reason during the commissioners’ debate over ending the committee, which arose as part of a discussion on Lane Manual changes to internal and external committees, saying the “Commission on Human Rights is duplicative,” and adding “I don’t think we get another patrol officer on the street by it.”
Sorenson says that VMAC “has actually been a place to have the differing attitudes about how much chemicals or not and where they are applied and roadside vegetation management controversies could be worked out at that committee level.” He says, “It was an extremely active committee.” — Camilla Mortensen
LOGGING AND LANDSLIDES
A site currently being clearcut in the Elliott State Forest is classified as a “high landslide hazard” and the family whose farm in Alleghany is in the path of the potential debris flow is fighting to stop the logging, which is slated to continue for another couple of weeks.
Eugene-based conservation group Cascadia Wildlands has joined with landowners Barbara Shamet and Wolfgang Schwartz to ask the Oregon Department of Forestry to halt the logging on the “Millicoma Between” timber sale, also known as the “South Marlow Switch V.” According to the pre-operations report for the timber sale, not only is the 44-acre unit within 100 feet of a salmon and steelhead stream, the potential debris flow from a landslide would deposit into the West Fork Millicoma River. In order to do that, the landslide would cross Shamet and Schwartz’s farm.
Kevin Weeks, ODF public information officer, says the landslide designation means “‘the potential exists that a landslide could occur,’ not necessarily that one is imminent or what magnitude of debris delivery could occur.”
Shamet is filing a petition for an injunction to stop the logging, citing concerns about the high landslide hazard. Last week the landowners and the Cascadia Forest Defenders, a forest action group separate from Cascadia Wildlands, attempted to talk to loggers on the site about the issue, but were prevented by law enforcement and ODF, according to Jason Gonzales of CFD.
Weeks says that due to summer fire danger and protest activities “there are increased patrols of the Elliott State Forest underway.” He says safety is a “top priority” for ODF and the agency is using “additional personnel from within ODF’s other districts to provide patrol services during the next few weeks.”
To The Millicoma Between sale did not go through a competitive bidding process. It was negotiated as a trade after another unit, the 35-acre “South Marlow Switch,” was also deemed also highly landslide prone. However ODF made the trade because a debris flow from the South Marlow Switch would potentially destroy homes, while a slide from the Millacoma Between sale would only affect property, Francis Eatherington of Cascadia Wildlands says.
According to Weeks, “The criteria ODF uses is that a potential debris flow would need to either damage a structure or a major public road for a timber harvest from a state forest to be stopped or postponed for public safety reasons.” He adds, “Note that damage would need to pose a threat to a structure, and not just land that is adjacent to a structure.”
Eatherington says even after the clearcutting is done, the 83-acre farm could also be affected by herbicides sprayed on the clearcut to facilitate replanting of the trees. “They don’t do Nazi herbicides, but they do pretty bad ones,” Eatherington says. She says Shamet and her family have not only been affected in the past by landslides off the Elliott, but by the toxic sprays as well.
Shamet and Schwartz also say they were not notified of the sale above their property. Weeks says, “There is no requirement in Oregon law or Oregon Administrative Rules to notify an adjacent landowner that a harvest operation is planned in an area identified as a high landslide hazard area.” He says landowners can sign up for a subscriber notifications service at www.oregon.gov/ODF
Eatherington says they are asking ODF to stop cutting until they listen to the family’s concerns. — Camilla Mortensen
SUNDAY STREETS, CAR-FREE FUN
The city of Eugene plans to close 5th Avenue from the Fifth Street Public Market to Whiteaker’s Blair district next month for a first-ever city car-free event to promote biking, walking, health, community and fun.
The three-mile “Eugene Sunday Streets” event from noon to 4 pm Sunday, Sept. 18, “is designed to get the entire community outside, having fun, enjoying healthy activities in Eugene’s public spaces while showing how easy it is to get around without a car,” according to a city press release.
The city of Eugene plans live music, fitness classes, hula hooping, dancing and other activities at Washington-Jefferson and Skinner Butte parks along the route and in the street.
Hundreds of cities throughout the U.S. and the world regularly or annually close busy thoroughfares for such walking and biking festivals. Portland’s 16th annual Bridge Pedal closes lanes on nine central bridges, including the towering I-5 bridge, and attracted about 19,000 people last Sunday. For the last three years, Portland also has closed miles of city streets connecting parks in five annual “Sunday Parkways” events that now attract about 91,000 people.
More than 40 cities in the U.S. now have car-free street events, many inspired by Bogotá, Colombia, where 70 miles of roadway are closed to cars every Sunday for hugely popular “Ciclovias.”
Eugene had a similar “Human Powered Parade” downtown 15 years ago, but the event died with volunteer organizers complaining of a lack of city support. Three years ago, bike advocates pushed for closing a stretch of south Willamette Street for a walking and biking event, but nothing happened.
But now the city appears fully behind opening the people’s streets to people. But the event will need lots of people to volunteer to help pull it off. The city is looking for about 200 volunteers.
About 120 volunteers will help control intersections and others will help promote, set-up and clean-up the event. To volunteer or for information call 501-0390, email SundayStreets@ci.eugene.or.us or visit the http://bit.ly/qQ9dlR website. — Alan Pittman
(A version of this story first appeared at Eugenecycles.com)
DORENA DAM DISTURBS RESIDENTS
Maybe it takes a bringing a frozen summer steelhead to a meeting to really get a point across — at least that’s what some Cottage Grove residents who are taking on a major corporation and the government to fight the installment of hydroelectric turbines at Dorena Dam are thinking.
The turbines and new construction on the dam, which is being built by Riverbank Power, formerly Symbiotics Energy Corporation, with approval from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other organizations, is expected to be a powerhouse. But this power won’t come without a price.
For area residents like John Steele, a math instructor at Lane Community College, the dam project will cost the surrounding ecosystem.
The current Dorena Dam is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the project must be approved by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Despite being regulated by the government, Steele says the dam and the area are still in danger, and the agencies regulating the project are not doing their jobs.
“With regard to this project, the amount of flawed scientific data and the level of neglect or remiss within state and federal agencies is incredible,” Steele says, adding that studies on the area have not demonstrated the correct mercury content of the sediment at the lake’s bottom and have not produced an accurate measure of the number and types of migratory fish in the area.
But Erik Steimle, director of environmental compliance at Riverbank Power, says the Canada-based company will do everything within its power to comply with government regulations. He explains that Oregon DEQ is closely monitoring the environmental effects of the project. He is positive the project will be beneficial because it will be a new source of renewable energy and will use the same flow regime and infrastructure of the existing dam.
For Steele, however, this is not reassuring at all, as he says the flawed scientific data makes it difficult for the government to properly regulate the area.
Steele and other residents are concerned the dam will increase turbidity in the river and stir up mercury into the water and surrounding ecosystems.
They are also worried about the lack of a fish passage in the new project plan, explaining that without one, the migratory fish in the area are doomed.
Steele says on his website, Friends of Dorena Dam, that Riverbank Power has responded that a fish passage is not financially feasible for this project and has even gone so far as to deny the existence of fish in the area.
However, studies from ODFW have shown — and fishermen’s pictures have documented — the existence of spring Chinook salmon, rainbow and cutthroat trout and Pacific lamprey.
Steele, who has tried everything from lobbying government officials to filing a motion to stop construction, says maybe dam opponents will have to do something a little more drastic. “Bring a 25-inch frozen steelhead fish, caught in this area, to the meeting to say, ‘Oh yeah? Then what do you call this!’”
And they did. At the July 27 Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council meeting, one resident, says Steele, brought in a summer steelhead to make sure the attendees saw there were indeed fish in the area and the research was flawed.
Steimle says Riverbank Power is planning on installing at least one fish passage and will incorporate mesh screens to prevent fish from getting caught up in the turbines. Steimle explains the hydroelectric company has made plans to alter the intake system to avoid dredging and mobilizing any mercury-filled sediment. He says that Cottage Grove residents’ concerns are “well-founded and heard,” adding, “If there are negative impacts (from the project), we will have to shut down.”
But to Steele, the government agencies and Riverbank Power are not true to their word, forsaking the area and making this just another case of a little fish trying to take on a big fish.
“Our voices are not being heard because it’s not ‘flashy.’ It’s just a small town, it’s not important.”
Construction on the project is slated to begin in October and, according to Steimle, will take up to a year to complete. — Kendall Fields
Election season is already under way in Lane County. As conservatives go, Art Robinson seems pretty run-of-the-mill. Older, well off, university educated, and cultivating a certain “man of the people” quality, Robinson entered the public eye a little over a year ago after winning the 2010 Republican nomination and challenging Peter DeFazio for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. Although he lost badly to DeFazio, Robinson has remained a Tea Party darling, claiming that he’s not down and out, as rumors have circulated, but merely gearing up for round two.
Robinson gave a speech Aug. 15 to the Cottage Grove chapter of the 9-12 Project, a movement started by Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck. The speech itself was relatively unremarkable — the expected patriotism and small-town “I’m the outsider” tone sprinkled with righteous indignation, the occasional anecdote, and a heavy dose of Sarah Palin-style “common sense.”
The 9-12ers were a receptive audience, greeting Robinson’s statements, accusations, and occasional use of the word “deregulation” with thunderous applause and a chorus of amens. During the question and answer period, Robinson fielded questions about a multitude of topics, from shorter term limits (yes) to environmental regulations (no).
“We have a chance in 2012 to throw these guys out,” he said. “And I think we’re going to get them.”
“The people who are in Washington, who have careers in Washington, have almost destroyed our country,” he added.
Robinson touched on many topics during his speech, ranging from how the Department of Education is destroying our schools to accusing the U.N. of not being “pro-American,” to likening the 4th Congressional District to Switzerland. He also confirmed that he would be campaigning again in the 2012 Republican primary, hoping to run again against DeFazio.
Robinson said he is in it to win it this time.
“We’re living on the momentum of the past,” he said. “Unless we get the regulation and the litigation off the backs of the American people, we will not be exceptional.”
“There’s no question in my mind that we’re going to take our country back,” he said. — Nils Holst
DAVID MILLER REMEMBERED
Eugene master artisan David P. Miller died Aug. 10 after a two-year struggle with brain cancer. A venerated stone carver and metalworker, Miller was known for sharing his passion at local workshops with all who showed interest. He was a prolific artist and avid supporter of all the arts in Eugene. Miller was well known by the local music community as a familiar face in the crowd.
Miller’s work has been shown throughout Oregon and locally in galleries such as Maude Kerns, PeaceHealth, Fenario, New Zone, and more. Miller continued to create art up until he was no longer able to, and his work can be seen at 200 W. Broadway as a portion of local window art installations. Friends say Miller was a gift to our community and will be sorely missed.
A celebration of Miller’s life will be held 1 pm Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Alton Baker Park shelters. — Dante Zuñiga-West
• The Back to Back program has an ongoing free film series dedicated to education, dialogue and discussion. The next showing is at 9 pm Thursday, Aug. 18, of The Celluloid Closet, featuring the history of gays’ and lesbians’ influence on Hollywood. The film will be shown on the lawn of the Leslie Brockelbank Peace and Justice Center at 458 Blair Blvd. As always, popcorn will be provided.
• Lane County Democrats are hosting an information booth at the Lane County Fair this weekend, selling buttons and registering voters. Elected officials are expected to spend time in the booth talking to constituents, says organizer Matt Davis. Local Americans for Prosperity/Tea Party leader Jeff Lozar says his group has nothing planned for the Fair. No word back from Lane County Republicans.
• Eugene’s annual Summer Garden Party to benefit Basic Rights Oregon is from 2 to 4 pm Saturday, Aug. 20. Suggested donation is $25. To RSVP, visit http://bit.ly/eugene2011 or email Juan@basicrights.org for details.
• A “Stop the Pipeline” sit-in at the White House is planned between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 and a Eugene contingency is planning to be there. See www.tarsandsaction.org for details. More than 2,000 people have signed up to join the protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands oil down from Canada.
• A free event, “Going Local in a Globalized Economy,” dealing with the Lane County Fair Trade Campaign, local bean and grain farmers, and local food advocacy, will be from 6 to 8 pm Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Cozmic Pizza. Speakers including Karen Edmonds, Mary Ann Jasper and Krishna Khalsa will discuss solutions for farmers, our local food economy, and community food security. Area groups involved in localizing food will give short talks. Contact Samantha Chirillo at 543-1253.
• More cuts to the Lane County budget for FY 2011-12 is expected to be on the County Commission agenda Wednesday, Aug. 24, and conservatives are planning to show up to advocate for prioritizing law enforcement funding. See www.lanecounty.org for updated information. Agendas and documents are usually posted two days in advance of meetings.
• About 50 people showed up for a Eugene meeting Aug. 11 on proposals for a state and national Alzheimer’s plan. “It was good that representatives from Sen. Wyden’s office and Rep. DeFazio’s office were in attendance,” says Jon Bartholomew of the Alzheimer’s Association. People can still submit comments online at http://action.kintera.org/alzplan
• Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming the Matthew Knight Arena 7:30 pm Aug. 26, 2 pm & 6 pm Aug. 27 and 1 pm Aug. 28. Peaceful protesters will be objecting to “an hour’s worth of entertainment that results in lifetime of suffering” for the animals. Signs and leaflets will be provided or bring your own. Meet an hour prior to the shows at sidewalk on the corner of Franklin and Garden Ave. For more info contact Misha English email@example.com
LANE AREA SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Seneca Jones (541-689-1011) will begin a hack and squirt operation using Polaris AC and Chopper on a tributary of Fish Creek, 16S 07W Section 30, notice 2011-781-00606
• Giustina Land & Timber (541) 345-2301 is hiring Oregon Forest Management Services (541) 896-3757 to apply Arsenal, Garlon 3A, Garlon 4, Chopper, Forester’s and Escort using hack and squirt on 79 acres along tributaries of Long Tom River and 109 acres along Swartz Creek beginning Aug. 19. Garlon 4 must have a 60 foot buffer on the west side of the Coast Range to protect Coho salmon.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• A couple of key Lane County citizen panels were eliminated Aug. 3 by the County Commission (see News Briefs). Gone are the Vegetation Management Advisory Committee (VMAC) and the Commission for the Advancement of Human Rights (CAHR). The move apparently caught some members of these panels by surprise; they didn’t even know their years of hard work and public service were on the line. It was another 3-2 vote that reflects the conservative shift on the board with Commissioners Sorenson and Handy losing to Leiken, Bozievich and Stewart (see our cover story on “Shifty Politics,” 7/14).
Local timber barons, who contributed substantially to the election campaigns of the three conservative commissioners, are likely celebrating the end of VMAC, which for more than 25 years served as a sounding board on public health, clean water and species survival. VMAC has been outspoken on private timberland spraying and has helped educate county residents on the hazards of home and garden pesticide use.
One reason given for cutting these panels was “we don’t have the money,” though the county’s administrative costs for VMAC are a fraction of the expense of the Rick Dancer Vimeo series that attacked labor unions. Another stated reason was “they don’t have a lot of members and they don’t do much,” but ironically, conservative commissioners never made their appointments to these panels.
On a related note, the commissioners voted 4-1 at the same meeting on a non-binding resolution in support of the Lane County Summer Food Program, federal money that goes to FOOD for Lane County to provide free lunches for kids in low-income neighborhoods. Lots of volunteers involved. Guess who was the lone, courageous vote against feeding hungry poor kids? Yep. Bozievich. Let them drink tea.
• We’ve lost some prominent people in Lane County lately, and hopefully no more for a while. Longtime arts supporter and innovator Candy Moffett died July 27, businesswoman and philanthropist Carolyn Chambers died Aug. 8, and stone carver and metalwork artist David P. Miller died Aug. 10. All are big losses to our community, and they will be long remembered.
• Is there more to our story last week about accusations of sexual harassment at the UO Department of Philosophy? The UO’s statement on the results of its investigation can be found in its entirety at http://wkly.ws/13j along with a string of strong comments, and some contradict the findings of the UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.
• New hope for saving Civic Stadium? We’re encouraged by the collaborative plan put forth by Rick Wright and the Civic Community Group that would not only save the historic stadium but also provide a new home for the aging YMCA. The proposal goes before the 4J School Board this week and we hope board members share our enthusiasm.
• Despite noisy opposition and now a state query, LTD is still pursuing the massive and lengthy bureaucratic process for the West Eugene EmX project, and more open houses are planned for September. Check out www.ltd.org or find LTD on Facebook. New on the LTD website (http://wkly.ws/13f) is a series of “mythbuster” statements worth reading. Here’s a sample: “A primary goal of EmX is to control LTD’s operating costs by implementing a system that is more efficient to operate than standard bus service.” And to combat the “No Buses to Nowhere” signs, the website also cites government projections of growth in both population and employment along the West Eugene EmX corridor, saying “a significant amount of Eugene’s higher-density residential population (will be) located within easy walking distance of the West 11th corridor.”
To really judge whether the West Eugene EmX is a good idea, we need to look ahead 10 to 50 years at our evolving transportation needs. We don’t see that kind of thinking among the opponents of the project.
• Our annual Best of Eugene ballot is now running in print when we have space and online 24/7 at www.bestofeugene.com and we have some fun new categories this year. No ballot stuffing, please, but it’s OK to use social media to encourage friends and family to vote. These are important community awards and the winners are determined by you, our readers.
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
“I came out of high school in the middle of World War II,” says retired professor Jim Thomas, who grew up on the Kansas prairie, then worked in a lab at Cal Tech. “I was part of the Manhattan Project and didn’t know it. When I found out, in the fall of ’45, I was appalled.” He became a Quaker, switched his major from chemistry to philosophy, earned a Ph.D .at Claremont and taught at Mt. San Antonio College. “Being Quaker, I did service abroad and in the U.S.,” says Thomas, who served with the Peace Corps in Tanzania in 1966-68. “My wife and three boys were there.” Visiting Japan, he saw the area in Nagasaki hit by the bomb. “I worked on the detonator,” he says. “I was weeping, and Japanese people came over to comfort me.” In 1987, five years after the death of his wife, Thomas met Susan Chute at Pendle Hill Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia. “I had just retired,” he says. “We sang together, and we’ve been in cahoots ever since.” They spent four years at the center, then eight years on a farm outside Myrtle Creek. “Susan is a horse person,” he notes. After they moved to Eugene in 1998, the Thomases started a Quaker group called Alternative Responses to Military Service (ARMS) that for seven years put on a monthly Peace Pizza Party for kids ages 14-18.