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Eugene Weekly : News : 8.25.11





News Briefs:
An Elephant Never Forgets | Tar Sands Protesters Arrested in D.C. | Clean Up vs. Cover Up | Road Work Sign Lane | UO Award for Feminism Withdrawn | Politics in the Parade | Band Burgled | Activist Alert | War Dead |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

News:

Walkability

Will Eugene prioritize humans over cars?

News:

Pushing Boundaries

Lane County looking to control more land

Something Euge!

 


AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS

Sarah, a 54-year-old Asian elephant performing for the Ringling Brothers Circus, collapsed in Anaheim Aug. 7. Ringling will bring its circus to Eugene Aug. 26-28, with four shows at Matthew Knight Arena, but as the circus draws near, Sarah the elephant’s mishap has set off an intense debate about the cause of her fall, and in Eugene protesters say they plan to make their feelings about the abuse of circus animals known.

An elephant calf is trained at Ringling Brothers breeding center. Photo rinlingbeatsanimals.com

Ringling Brothers says Sarah fell while being loaded onto a rail car. Animal rights activists say stress and fatigue caused the fall. Sarah has suffered from a chronic condition since 1997, but she still performs.

Ringling is quick to defend its use of animals in the circus, saying it has never been found in violation of the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act, but in fact Ringling Brothers has been cited multiple times, including a June 2011 repeat citation on Sarah for failing to provide adequate medical care for a pus-like discharge during urination. The senior veterinarian instructed handlers to flush Sarah’s rectum twice a day, but the directions were not followed, according to the citation.

Cathy Carden, a Ringling elephant handler who travels with elephants Carol, Duchess and Patty, says the elephants are part of her family. “We make sure that the quality of life is the best that it can possibly be,” she says. “The elephants travel very well.” Carden says the animals like to look outside while they travel in the railcars. “They actually like it; it’s their safe haven,” she says. “They feel very safe and secure in there.”

Local animal-lovers, outraged to learn the circus would be allowed to perform in Eugene, are planning a peaceful protest of the circus (see Activist Alert). They will hand out information to the public and have signs. “Because Ringling have such a great PR system, people don’t realize all the abuse is happening,” says Molly Sargent, who protested Ringling Brothers years ago in Seattle. “Once they learn about the real treatment of the animals, usually they think about it and maybe won’t come back again.”

The protest will be non-violent, and green-shirted legal observers and videographers will be present to support the animal-lovers’ civil liberties as they support the wild animals in captivity.

Sargent says that using wild animals who can’t be domesticated is a big part of the cruelty issue. “They’re wild animals that are not allowed to do any of their normal wild behaviors that keep wild animals healthy and sane,” she says. “They basically just go crazy, doing stereotypic behaviors, pacing and pacing.” — Shannon Finnell

 

TAR SANDS PROTESTERS ARRESTED IN D.C.

The tentacles of the tar sands involve not only the toxic extraction process, but the shipping routes and proposed pipelines that affect the environment and communities they pass through. Protests against tar sands extraction and its tentacles are heating up.

Tar sands opponents have been celebrating ExxonMobil’s change of plans to ship “megaloads” of oil field equipment on interstate highways instead of wild and scenic routes, but the story is far from over. More oil companies are looking to use the Columbia and Snake rivers and the rural highway route through Idaho and Montana to transport their massive — sometimes half-million pound — loads of equipment to Canada. Protesters are getting arrested in front of the White House this week to challenge the climate change-inducing tar sands oil extraction and the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would extend from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobile have been fighting to use routes through the Northwest for the tar sands extracting equipment, and now Harvest Operations Corp. is reportedly considering the same route. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has called tar sands oil  “one of the planet’s greatest threats.” The extraction process destroys Canada’s boreal forests, leaves behind toxic mine tailings and opponents say greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands production are rising at a rapid rate. A company called US Oil Sands has acquired the right to exploit 24,000 acres of land in Utah for tar sands extraction.

 The issue is global, says Monica Christoffels. A group of Earth First! activists from Eugene joined other protesters in an action against the tar sands at the Montana governor’s office (see story 7/21), and now Christoffels is among a group of Eugeneans caravanning to DC to join the other tar sands protesters and risk arrest.

Climate change author Bill McKibben, Native American actress Tantoo Cardinal and former dean of the Yale School of Forestry Gus Speth have already been arrested at the White House “Tar Sands Action.” So far 162 tar sands protesters have been arrested and at least 2,000 people have signed up for the “wave of action” that will go from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3.

Christoffels says she is traveling using a Prius “borrowed from an 85-year-old woman in Portland, who’s traveling by train to D.C. for the Tar Sands Action as well.” She says, “We researched and found that carpooling is the most economic and fuel-efficient mode of transportation.” 

She says, “In all honesty, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to get arrested until I saw that the first wave of protesters, including environmental author/activist Bill McKibben, were being detained from Saturday until Monday afternoon in an effort by Park Police to deter future protesters.”

Christoffels says she urges people to “inform yourselves about the tar sands, the Keystone XL Pipeline and urge your congresspeople — and President Obama, especially — to oppose this pipeline proposal.”

Follow Christoffels and the Tar Sands Caravan action on notarsandscaravan.org  — Camilla Mortensen

CLEAN UP VS. COVER UP

The waste site at Hanford in southern Washington, just across the Columbia River from Oregon, has been called one of the most contaminated places in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. Department of Energy dumped nuclear waste into the area’s soil up until 1995. Now USDOE and the Environmental Protection Agency are looking for ways to deal with the waste.  

According to Gerry Pollet, executive director of the citizen advocacy group Heart of America Northwest (HOANW), there is enough plutonium in the soil at Hanford to make more than 70 atomic bombs. 

The sites are also filled with radioactive cesium and massive quantities of toxic chemical wastes used to process plutonium. Pollet said this waste could mobilize the plutonium and other wastes through the soil. Pollet added that the liquid waste sites, which are on Hanford’s Central Plateau and above groundwater that flows into the Columbia River, would most certainly affect water that will be tapped for drinking and irrigation.

The USDOE said the plutonium left behind would stay put, and the agency proposed covering it up with dirt. The USDOE plans on digging up 15 feet of dirt beneath some of the disposal sites. But, according to Pollet, the agency only plans to dig up two feet at the worst sites, leaving half of the plutonium free to seep into groundwater and risk being dug up in any future excavations. 

HOANW is advocating for a “clean up” of the area, not a “cover up.”

“We believe plutonium and chemical wastes should be dug up,” Pollet said. “The chemical wastes should be treated and sent to licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities, and the plutonium sent to a deep underground repository.”

USDOE and EPA opened a public comment period, which runs until Sept. 6, to find alternatives for the liquid waste contamination. Comments can be mailed to Paula Call, U.S. DoE Richland Operations Office, P.O. Box 550, A7-75, Richland, WA 99352; or emailed to PW136PP@rl.govKendall Fields

ROAD WORK SIGN LANE

Construction workers have illegally and unnecessarily converted many of Eugene’s bike lanes into places to put road construction signs, endangering the lives of cyclists forced to veer around them into car traffic.

Last week “Road Work Ahead” signs blocked bike lanes on both High Street near 17th and 18th near Pearl. The signs were placed dangerously in the bike lane rather than on the adjacent grass strip. 

On Aug. 6, cyclist and EW contributing writer Suzi Steffen Tweeted a picture of a large road work ahead reader board placed in the busy 13th Avenue bike lane near the UO. “City of #Eugene, #WTF is this?” Steffen wrote.

The 13th Avenue sign was moved to the grass after the Tweet was emailed to the city’s bike coordinator, according to a post on the EugeneGears.org blog.

Construction signs unnecessarily placed in bike lanes isn’t a new problem. It’s been going on for years without much city effort to educate or fine contractors to end the unsafe practice. City code prohibits blocking bike lanes, but most of the contractors blocking the bike lanes with lazily placed signs are working for the city.

Last year, a cyclist posted a photo of a “Road Work Ahead” sign blocking a bike lane on South Willamette. “Bike lane blocked by road work sign (again),” he wrote.

Another photo of a sign blocking the lane at 24th and Agate last year drew a comment from Patrick Barber. “Hey, it’s the ‘Road Work Sign’ lane!”

Bike safety has also fallen easy victim to building construction in Eugene. Last year the Pearl Street bike lane suddenly disappeared without warning signs to make room for construction staging for the new hotel at Fifth Street Public Market.

Earlier this year the heavily used 13th Avenue bike lane near the UO also disappeared amid building construction, forcing bikes into pedestrians and/or head-on traffic.

The city’s draft new Pedestrian and Bicycle plan briefly mentions improved bike safety during construction projects, but lacks the details and clear prohibitions in other cities’ policies.

The city of Cambridge, Mass., for example, has a four-page set of guidelines for “Bicycle Accommodation During Construction,” including temporary “Share the Road Signs,” maintaining bike lane space in construction areas, providing temporary bike lanes, making metal plates safer, sloping temporary curb lips and the clear prohibition: “Temporary signs shall not be placed in bicycle lanes.” — Alan Pittman

(A version of this story first appeared at EugeneCycles.com)

UO AWARD FOR FEMINISM WITHDRAWN

The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP-UK) last week withdrew its Women-Friendly Department Recognition that had been awarded this year to the UO’s Department of Philosophy (see News Briefs, 8/11).

The withdrawal comes despite an administrative review by the UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity that allegations of sexual harassment in the department were unsubstantiated. “No grievance or complaint was filed by any alleged victim,” said Russ Tomlin in an Aug. 3 memo to faculty and students. Tomlin is senior vice provost for academic affairs. Tomlin said this week that there actually was one complaint, but it was not filed within the 365-day time limit for action. “That’s why the claim that there was no formal complaint,” he said. “It was a timeliness question.” In the end, the investigation did not rule out that inappropriate sexual behavior had happened, but only ruled that it was unproven.

UO philosophy associate professor Bonnie Mann took offense at several allegations made public in July by Brian Leiter in The Leiter Report philosophy blog. Leiter wrote about student allegations of sexual harassment and attempts to cover up the allegations in order to protect the department’s reputation and an unnamed “award.”

Mann said she was merely respecting confidentially during the administrative review by not discussing the allegations. A letter signed by seven faculty members in the department calls Leiter’s blog statements “false and misleading,” but Leiter said he had confirmation of what he published.

Pulling the award does not mean the British-based SWIP agrees with the allegations. Instead, there appears to be a communication mix-up. The announcement on the SWIP website says, “It has become clear to us that our procedures were not properly followed during the canvassing of opinion prior to making the award, and as a result we were not apprised of information that may have had an impact on our decision. Because these procedures were not followed, we feel we must withdraw the recognition, despite the impressive mainstreaming of feminist philosophy at Oregon.”

So what happened? Mann said after the department was nominated for the award she was asked to forward an email from SWIP to the department mailing list seeking comments that would be kept confidential. She added a personal note “encouraging people to support the award,” which she now figures was “a violation of the unstated procedures, but I was not told that personal notes were to be excluded.”

Jennifer Saul of SWIP told EW that “Correspondence with more than one department member has revealed that this is the reason they did not send us their concerns: They didn’t feel they had supportive statements to make, so they didn’t read any further. This may well have been wholly innocent and well-intentioned by professor Mann’s part, but it meant that we did not receive full information.”

Mann said, “This was all before I had any idea that there were allegations of sexual harassment being circulated.” One source within the university tells EW that rumors of sexual harassment in the department have been going around for the past two years, and an anonymous comment at www.newappsblog.com says a graduate student open letter raising issues about sexual harassment was signed by more than 30 students. The student letter has not been made public.

Meanwhile, the department has been invited to reapply for the recognition next year. — Ted Taylor

 

POLITICS IN THE PARADE

The Eugene Celebration always draws political organizations, booths and even parade entries, and this year is no different. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio is expected to show up in the Saturday morning parade with his usual wheelbarrow and shovel, following either horses or the SLUG Queen. Mayor Kitty Piercy and other elected officials and candidates can also be seen walking with their contingencies or waving from vehicles.

No word from Tea Party or Americans for Prosperity about their plans for the parade or booths, but We the People Eugene is trying to recruit 100 people to march with their group protesting corporate personhood, and they are gathering at 9:30 am Saturday at South Eugene High School. Parade begins at 10 am. Call 937-3007 for information.

Supporters of Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy will join the Oregon League of Conservation Voters in entry #38 and will be gathering at 9:30 am at 19th and High, just north of the high school. “Bring your bikes, trailers, scooters, skateboards or other human powered transportation and join me and others for this fun morning in the parade,” says Handy. Email rob@robhandy.com for more information.

Commissioner Pete Sorenson, area state lawmakers and others will be marching with the Democrats. Rep. Val Hoyle will be part of the group with her “Sea of Ginger” and “Army of Redheads.” And peace activists and their organizations are expected to make an appearance again this year. — Ted Taylor

BAND BURGLED

Studio bCd, owned by Phil Allen of local band Basin & Range, was broken into Aug. 17, for what is estimated to be $28,000 worth of music and recording equipment. The band will be throwing a small donation-based show at bCd Friday, Aug. 26. Call 344-0579 for info.

There will also be a larger benefit show in hopes to rally funding and support for the studio, set to take place in late Sept. “Phil feels like his whole life has been taken from him in the mix. We are all just trying to rally and support him right now. That studio has given a lot to the community,” says local promoter Danny Kime. For more info, go to the band’s Facebook page at http://wkly.ws/13o  — Dante Zuñiga-West

ACTIVIST ALERT

• The local Sierra Club’s Many Rivers Group will host a program on “Go Solar with Sierra Club” from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Eugene Garden Club, 1645 High St. Doors open at 6:45.

• A special City Club of Eugene-sponsored event with Rep. Peter DeFazio is planned for noon Friday, Aug. 26, at the EWEB North Building, second floor. Bring your own lunch. $5 admission for guests.

Local animal activists will be protesting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as it prepares for its opening show at Matthew Knight Arena at 6:30 pm Friday, Aug. 26. Signs will be provided. Call 337-8811 or email CurtisTaylor85@gmail.com or email Misha Dunlap English at misha.law@gmail.com for more information.

• County Commissioner Rob Handy is now posting transcripts of Q&As with volunteers who serve on Lane County panels. The latest interview from Aug. 8 is with Dennis Sandow of the Planning Commission. Another is with Jan Wroncy of the now-defunct Vegetation Management Advisory Committee (and of Forestland Dwellers) on May 10; and before that Lyllye Parker of the Commission for Advancement of Human Rights. See www.robhandy.com

The Oregon Board of Forestry will discuss the economics of wildfire protection, management of federal forestlands and use of forest biomass at its 8:30 am Sept. 7 meeting at the Fremont-Winema National Forest Headquarters, 1301 S. G St., in Lakeview. On Sept. 8, the board will tour a large area of insect-killed timber on federal and private forestland. Public comment times are planned for the Sept. 7 meeting. See www.oregonforestry.gov for details or email rnichols@odf.state.or.us

WAR DEAD  

In Afghanistan

•  1,736 U.S. troops killed* (1,728)

• 13,316 U.S. troops wounded in action (13,164)

• 887 U.S. contractors killed (887)

• $446.6 billion cost of war ($444.2 billion)

• $131.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($125.7 million)

In Iraq

• 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)

• 31,921 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,921) 

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

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

• 111,724 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (111,665)

• $792.2 billion cost of war ($791.3 billion) 

• $234 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($224.8 million)

Through Aug. 22, 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)

 

 

 

SLANT

The Eugene Celebration is upon us this weekend with all its glory and quirky fun, following on the heels of the more conventional Lane County Fair. The Eugene Celebration Parade Saturday morning is always full of surprises, and can even be outrageous and highly political. Downtown becomes a marvelous, high-energy center for music, art, food and even education. The Community Causeway, Sustainability Village and Health & Well-Being Celebration are great gathering places for people who are active in social, political, environmental and healing work. 

And for the first time, your favorite local newspaper will host great local music performances this year on the Eugene Weekly Stage at 10th and Olive, starting Friday night. Our Next Big Thing top two finalists, Tyler Fortier and Betty and the Boy, are scheduled to perform from 1:30 to 2:30 pm Saturday, and at least some of the contest judges will be in the audience, taking notes. 

Let’s “Raise the Roof” once more. Proceeds from Celebration ticket sales again this year will go to support Springfield/Eugene Habitat for Humanity. LTD will provide free bus service to anyone with a Celebration wristband.

Cynthia Wooten was one of Eugene’s biggest movers and shakers for 35 years and co-founded the Eugene Celebration and the Oregon Country Fair. She served on the City Council, ESD Board and the Oregon Legislature before she was term-limited out and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Now she’s back home, at least part-time, and getting busy again. She loves Eugene and we welcome her energy and drive. Her new project, in collaboration with film festival expert Linda Blackaby, is the Good Works Film Festival planned for Oct. 6-10 in Eugene and Portland. Seven new documentaries and narrative films with social justice themes will be shown, along with forums, networking programs and other events during the long weekend. The website www.goodworksfilmfestival.org should be up soon.

• Mention John Canzano and local Duckbills will wrinkle in disdain. He’s The Oregonian sports columnist who writes all the tough UO sports stuff we don’t find in local media. But Canzano delivered a whopping prediction on Aug. 23: He writes that the flashy Ducks, ranked third nationally, will win all 12 games this fall. No crystal ball for the play-offs.

How bloody is the war in Afghanistan? We’ve grown numb to violence in our endless wars. We hear endless stories about Casey Anthony and the Octomom, but warfare’s ongoing death and destruction are ho-hum in the mainstream media, which is why we run our “War Dead” listings whenever we have the space. This past week, eight Americans in uniform died in Afghanistan and 152 were wounded in action. Typical week at war — no wonder the VA is having to build big new medical clinics all over the country, and no surprise that it takes nearly a year for some undisputed disability claims to be settled. The cost of war and occupation continues to be staggering. Iraq has cost $792 billion so far and Afghanistan is pushing $447 billion. Eugene taxpayers alone have paid (or gone into debt) $360 million to support these wars, and in the long run, the cost will run into trillions. History is full of examples of nations that have overextended themselves militarily while ignoring domestic needs contributing greatly to their downfall. 

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