News Briefs: Former Black Panther Speaks | Protest for the Forest | Climate Action | Eugene Occupied | Bicycle Sharing | Where Will Lane Vote? | Please Send Books | Pit Bull Rental Prejudice | Biz Beat | Lighten Up
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Uranium mine would bring jobs, at what cost?
FORMER BLACK PANTHER SPEAKS
Former Black Panther, Louisiana prison activist and co-founder of the Common Ground Collective Malik Rahim (born Donald Guyton) will speak 7 pm Friday, Oct. 14, at First Christian Church about preparedness in what he calls “turbulent times.”
Rahim is a recipient of the Thomas Merton Award, an internationally renowned accolade awarded to individuals who strive to enact change and social justice.
“It’s about recognizing that this isn’t really a war on terror but a war on terra, against the Earth itself and all the living things it contains, so somebody can make a buck,” coordinator Gordon Sturrock says of Rahim’s Building on Common Ground event. The Common Ground Collective has distributed aid and facilitated community health clinics throughout the United States.
“I think he’ll make a convincing case that this is a time for reaching out across all of our divides,” Sturrock says of Rahim. — Dante Zuñiga-West
PROTEST FOR THE FOREST
Over the dissent of more than one hundred protesters, Oregon’s State Land Board voted to drastically increase the clearcut logging on the Elliott State Forest on Oct. 11. Protesters organized by the Friends of Oregon’s Forests rallied at the Salem meeting in an effort to persuade the board, which is made up of the governor, secretary of state and state treasurer, to look for other ways of managing the forest.
|Photo by Trip Jennings|
The Elliott is Common School Fund land, meaning profits from the forest go to fund K-12 schools. “We want to see schools adequately funded but not at the expense of irreplaceable older rainforests,” says Josh Laughlin of Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands, one of the groups participating in the rally.
Laughlin says there are “24,000 acres of commercially viable plantations on the Elliott.” He says these 30- to 60-year-old trees could be sustainably logged rather than clearcutting the older native and mature forests. “Better forest practices translate into improved fishing, recreation and carbon storage,” he says.
Rally participant Trip Jennings says the land board’s vote was “more representative of the interests of a special few, rather than the general public,” and he says rally participants were frustrated by the vote.
As the State Land Board left the meeting after the vote, protesters asked the members, who are all elected officials, “Who do you work for?”
Protesters at the rally held signs with slogans including “Save our salmon,” “Carbon not clearcutting” and “Timber barons are the 1 percent.” Kate Ritley, also of Cascadia Wildlands, says the vote was “a huge step in the wrong direction.” But she says forest groups plan legal challenges as well as future protests. “We’re not going to go down without a fight.”
As the rally ended, in response to cry of “I think we know what to do next!” the crowd shouted, “Occupy, occupy!” — Camilla Mortensen
The city of Eugene is making progress on reducing greenhouse gas pollution, but the tough, substantial action may lie ahead.
Last year the Eugene City Council voted unanimously in favor of implementing a Community Climate and Energy Action Plan created with the involvement of more than 500 citizens.
After a year of progress in implementing the plan, “clearly we are on the right track,” city climate and energy coordinator Matt McRae told the council this week.
McRae projected a graph showing that motor fuel use, the leading indicator of local greenhouse gas pollution, has declined with the recession but was already on a declining trend before the housing collapse. He also said the city has made progress in the last year on moving forward with a majority of the actions called for in the climate plan, while a quarter remain unchanged.
But the biggest council actions on climate change could come in the next six months when elected officials will set the city’s growth and transportation policy for the next 20 years. The council will vote on whether to hold the existing urban growth boundary or allow more urban sprawl under its Envision Eugene process. Also, the council will decide whether to continue to spend heavily on freeways and roads or whether to emphasize biking, walking and buses as part of a new Eugene transportation plan.
The climate plan has three goals: reducing Eugene greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020; reducing fossil fuel use 50 percent by 2030; and identifying strategies to adapt to climate change and increasing fuel prices.
A key part of the plan is a 20-minute neighborhoods strategy of compact places where residents have easy access to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, parks and other services by bike, car and transit and without having to rely heavily on cars. The neighborhoods are served by bike lanes, sidewalks and bus routes that enable alternative transportation.
“We’re certainly not suggesting that everybody has to give up their car,” McRae said. The neighborhoods envisioned “really focus on the ability to make trips without a car.”
McRae provided a long list of advantages to the walkable/bikeable neighborhoods including: reduced congestion, reduced crime from eyes on the street, access to affordable transportation, disabled access, reduced city transportation costs, reduced individual transportation costs, healthy fitness and reduced auto accidents. By allowing people to purchase less gas, the mixed-use, compact neighborhood strategy will spur the local economy by keeping money here, he said. More than two-thirds of the $200 million spent locally on gas every year leaves the community, McRae said.
Downtown Eugene is a good example of “being able to meet a lot of your needs without having to hop in to a car,” McRae said. Other examples are in the Royal Avenue node and at 24th and Hilyard, he said.
Councilors appeared to support the climate plan and 20-minute neighborhood strategy.
“It is a measurable good,” Councilor George Poling said.
“We are going in the right direction,” Councilor Alan Zelenka said. He said the plan will save money on gas, new roads and heating. “We will have more money in the pockets,” he said. “It will be a very powerful story to tell in five years.”
Councilor George Brown pointed to figures indicating that energy use had declined even with a growing population. “That’s impressive,” he said.
In response to a concern from Councilor Betty Taylor, city planner Carolyn Weiss said the city is working on changing the building code to allow density while preserving solar access by requiring stepped or sloped setbacks.
Councilor Pat Farr said he was glad the city was working on the density issue. “One of the ways we prevent spreading out is by building up,” he said.
Mayor Kitty Piercy said the city has made progress in cutting utility bills for low income housing by as much as half using federal stimulus funds for weatherization.
“This is really good news,” said Councilor Andrea Ortiz of the energy and money savings.
McRae said the city is looking at ways to better align monetary incentives for landlords to weatherize if tenants are paying the utility bill.
But Piercy appeared willing to loosen a proposed “complete streets” policy calling for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in every project. “How do we build some flexibility around that?” she asked, calling for “some way of not locking ourselves in.”
Taylor also questioned whether the city should not do more to keep neighborhood schools open for 20-minute neighborhoods. “It’s one of the most important things,” she said.
McRae said that he talked to 4J about the closures and found their reasons complex. “I’m not sure that’s something we would choose to push fairly hard on,” he said.
City transportation planner Rob Inerfeld said the city is working on a new transportation plan that will include a draft bicycle and pedestrian plan that calls for infrastructure to double walking and biking rates in the next 20 years.
McRae said a key element will be funding the bike and pedestrian improvements. Future street funding measures could include money to add new sidewalks and bike ways outside existing right-of-ways, he said. “Bonds could be passed that had funding set aside.” — Alan Pittman
|Photo by Dante Zuñiga-West|
The Bank of America protest organized by Occupy Eugene on Oct. 6 added local voices to the Occupy Wall Street protests taking the nation by storm.
Approximately two hundred people gathered at the intersection of East 11th and Pearl Street to protest in solidarity with thousands of others who rallied in the larger cities of New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and more. Protesters rallied against what they call the abuse of corporate power and misuse of federal funding. Activist Seamus An Naitair dressed as Robin Hood and used the rally as a catalyst to close his Bank of America account.
“While the service at this branch has always been really good, I just don’t agree with what’s happening at the top of their organization and all the taxpayer money that all those people received,” he said.
“Give us our money back,” An Naitair said, “Create jobs that are meaningful and are going to help us, the people.”
In addition to another Bank of America protest on Oct. 13, Occupy Eugene is planning an occupation protest of its own at an as-of-yet undisclosed location on Oct. 15. Go to occupyeugene.com or call 541-525-0130 for updates on protests, meetings and other organizing details. — Dante Zuñiga-West
Eugene may get a bike-sharing program where people can check sturdy bikes out of automated streetside kiosks.
The program depends on whether a grant comes through for a feasibility study and the study shows the bike rental system will work. The Lane Transit District has applied for an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant to conduct the feasibility study through its federally funded point2point solutions program promoting alternative transportation.
Many other cities including Washington, D.C., Boulder, Colo., Madison, Wisc. and Boston, Mass. have used bike sharing programs to reduce traffic congestion, cut greenhouse pollution and promote fitness and livability. Portland and New York City plan to create bike share systems using a private vendor.
The feasibility study would examine the costs, benefits, preferred locations, operations and implementing steps for a bike share system in Eugene, according to information provided to the Metropolitan Policy Committee this week. The study will focus on downtown Eugene, close-in neighborhoods, UO, LCC and Northwest Christian University.
The Wisconsin-based B-cycle company demonstrated its bicycle share kiosk at the Eugene Celebration in August.
ODOT has $21 million available to give “flexible funds” grants statewide. — Alan Pittman
WHERE WILL LANE VOTE?
The debate over whether and how to redraw voting district boundaries rages on in Lane County as concerns over gerrymandering continue.
On Oct. 5 members of the public testified before the Board of County Commissioners at a public hearing on the seven scenarios suggested by the citizens’ task force working on the issue. The majority of the comments advocated scenario one — keeping the voter boundaries the same, says Commissioner Pete Sorenson.
After the hearing, Commissioner Jay Bozievich suggested another boundary scenario be added in addition to the ones suggested by the task force. He says, “Scenario eight is a revision to scenario six in response to the concerns of citizens of the Bethel area and Jerry Finigan’s (Santa Clara Community Organization) rethinking his desire to put Santa Clara and River Road together in a single district.”
Sorenson and task force member Scott Bartlett have contended that the districts are at risk of being gerrymandered in order to create a Republican board majority by altering the districts to load already liberal South Eugene with more Democrats and make districts like Rob Handy’s North Eugene more conservative. Conservative City Councilor Mike Clark has filed a prospective petition to run for the North Eugene commission seat in the next election. Commissioners’ seats are technically nonpartisan.
Some at the redistricting hearing objected to the eighth scenario being added after the public hearing had concluded, but Bozievich says there is precedent, as former commissioner Bill Dwyer made a similar motion to add an option during the last redistricting process 10 years ago with, he contends, less public review. “There will be ample time for the public to review all three scenarios and to provide input in written or oral testimony,” he says.
The board voted three to two to send scenarios one, three and eight on for first reading, with Sorenson and Commissioner Rob Handy dissenting.
Sorenson says Bozievich’s scenario eight oddly moves portions of City View into rural East Lane, “which appears to violate the provision of the Lane Charter which states East and West Lane are rural.”
Bozievich argues, “Any scenario will require that the rural districts represent some Eugene-Springfield metropolitan areas in order to provide balanced population.”
Sorenson says he advocates that the next public hearing, which he says will likely take place Oct. 25 or 26, be in the evening to allow county residents who work in the daytime to weigh in on the issue. The public hearings, he says, will only be on scenarios three and eight because there does not need to be an ordinance voted on by the board for scenario one, as nothing would change. EW will post updates on the votes and public hearings at blogs.eugeneweekly.com To see the redistricting scenarios, go to http://wkly.ws/149
— Camilla Mortensen
PLEASE SEND BOOKS
Former Eugenean Miyoko Patricelli is a teacher in Jackson, Mississippi with Teach for America. She says if there is one thing she needs to support her in her teaching efforts, it is for her students to be able to read. The problem is they don’t have books.
Patricelli is an alum of South Eugene High School and Eugene International High School and is in her second year with Teach for America. The organization places recent college graduates in rural and urban schools to help eliminate the educational inequity between low-income children and their wealthier peers.
Patricelli has spent the last year teaching high school math, but her students, she says, “are often not literate enough to tackle word problems.”
She says Forest Hill High School where she is teaching 10th grade is “98 percent African American, over 90 percent of the students are on free and reduced lunches, and it is located about 10 minutes from the location where Medgar Evers was assassinated.”
She says that one of the reasons her students have trouble reading is because “Jackson Public Schools lack very basic necessities, such as books. My 10th graders do not have books to take home for their English class.”
She says the 10th grade English teacher Elise Patterson “simply cannot assign reading out of a book for homework” because there are not enough books for the students.
“Imagine, my students do not read books in English class,” Patricelli says. She says instead of reading books, the students do grammar activities and read whatever articles and short stories that Patterson can make copies of with only a limited paper supply. The students need to pass English II and Algebra I tests to graduate, she says, “but they must do it without reading … books.”
Patricelli has teamed up with Patterson to try to get copies of Night by Elie Wiesel and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. She has started a wish list at Amazon.com and, thanks to an email appeal she sent out, people have already begun to send books. To donate to the cause and buy a book or two — Patricelli says used copies are as cheap as $8 including shipping — go to http://wkly.ws/14g and all the information needed, including the shipping address, is on the page. If you wish to purchase a book from another seller, such as one of Eugene’s local bookstores, and send it, then Patricelli asks if possible to try to purchase the same edition as the one listed on Amazon. — Camilla Mortensen
PIT BULL RENTAL PREJUDICE
She was the 2010 Oregon Red Cross “Animal Hero of The Year” for her work with at-risk youth at the Serbu Juvenile Justice Center. She’s been in EW, she’s been on the television news. Sasha the deaf pit bull might have found someone to adopt her, but she’s having trouble finding a home.
After reading about Sasha the pit bull in EW’s Pets issue (7/28) William Novorolsky, who works with the developmentally disabled people who are deaf, says he “felt a very real connection” to the dog. So he sought out Sasha and her foster mom, Micaela Frank. He met Sasha and Frank and decided that he wanted to adopt the dog, but it wasn’t that easy. Novorolsky needs to find place live at with Sasha, but the stigma of the pit bull breed seems to be hooked to her leash.
“The reason a lot of people surrender their pits is that their housing situations change and won’t allow pits,” Frank says.
Novorolsky says, “I put 1,800 miles more than normal on my car in 30 days,” in his two-month search for a home that will take the dog. “Though I answered several ads this Sunday morning, I have not heard back from a one. Why? Sasha’s breed.” Novorolsky says he can remember that in the ‘60s and early ‘70s pit bulls were one of the preferred family dogs, as he says they are so attentive, cuddly and family oriented. Now, pit bulls have been stereotyped as vicious predators with a short fuse, when really they are still the same family dogs, he says.
Novorolsky says most of the rental companies don’t reply to his inquiries, while others state no pets on the property, and specifically, “No pits.” Novorolsky says at least one property manager said the owner didn’t want any liability in the event that a pit bull harms someone. EW contacted several local rental agencies for this story, but none would agree to speak on record about the issue.
Sasha is a recognized hero with proven credentials, and the dog has been looking for a home for close to a year.
But Novorolsky’s time is running out; he made a loose agreement with Frank to have a place for himself and Sasha by the beginning of October. He worries that his partnership with Sasha could be at risk if he can’t find a home that will let him have the dog.
“If only landlords were able to look at things on a case-by-case basis, maybe we could make some progress,” Frank says, “but not if we are still going to judge based on breed or even just the way a dog looks.” She asks, “If a Red Cross hero can’t find a home, how can a pit without any credentials?”
“The world is often an upside down place. I need some help to straighten this little corner of it out,” Novorolsky says.
For more on Sasha or if you know of a good rental, drop Frank a note at email@example.com — Kendall Fields
An independent book store called The Book Nest has joined the shops at INDULGE! Wine & Food mall at 1461 Mohawk Blvd. in Springfield. Owner Amanda Bird will offer new and used books, including a collection of cook books.
The Oregon-based nonprofit Friends of Trees is planning to open a Eugene office this fall. The news comes with the announcement by Eugene director Erik Burke that the local branch will benefit from a $25,000 Meyer Memorial Trust grant that will help the organization integrate with the Eugene Tree Foundation. Friends of Trees has also received a $5,000 grant from REI for expanding natural area improvements in the Eugene-Springfield area. Friends of Trees-Eugene plants trees and does urban restoration work in partnership with the Eugene Tree Foundation. To volunteer or donate, visit friendsoftrees.org
Eugene environmental attorney Charlie Tebbutt has a new office and a new staff with Dan Snyder, staff attorney, and Marisela Taylor as assistant. Open house is from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 13, at 451 Blair St. See charlietebbutt.com
Send suggestions for Biz Beat items to firstname.lastname@example.org and please put “Biz Beat” in the subject line.
LIGHTEN UP by Rafael Aldave
The Republicans are still looking for the right presidential candidate to run against Obama.
It’s not easy to find a fraud voters can believe in.
• In The Register-Guard’s Blue Chip special publication, which reads like the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, Dave Funk and Sarah Bennett are trashing downtown with hyped crime claims and pushing for tearing up Kesey Square at Broadway and Willamette and selling the park land to a developer. Are they nuts? Downtown needs more parks and public space to attract people to the city center, not less. Have these people ever been to a great city? Will they only be satisfied when they destroy enough of downtown and lay enough barbed wire and broken glass and hire enough armed enforcers to keep everyone who doesn’t look exactly like them out of the city center? It’s frightening that such power brokers — Funk is a confidant of the mayor and Bennett’s family is constructing an office building with city subsidies — have such anti-public attitudes. Okay, Kesey Square does need some physical improvements. As suggested years ago, the city should give adjacent building owners loans and/or grants to knock windows and doors in the facing brick walls to build restaurants with outdoor seating that faces the plaza. That will put more people on the square and more eyes on the public space to solve any rationally perceived problems.
• Who knew we were going to feel so bad when we found out Apple founder Steve Jobs died Oct. 5? He’s the man who made computers user-friendly, brought us the iPhone, iMac and iPad and made black turtleneck sweaters cool again. He wasn’t perfect, nor are all Apple’s policies, but not many people can say they changed the world. Jobs did. To quote an early Apple “Think Different” ad: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
• The chattering classes keep inanely demanding goals and objectives and other mainstream markers from Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Portland, Occupy Eugene, etc.
These should be obvious if you’ve been following the news at all. But if you insist on a framework, here’s the 2011-13 theme for the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the UO: “From Wall Street to Main Street, Capitalism and the Common Good” with an invitation to “Join us in exploring ways of modifying the U.S. capitalist system to make it more just, stable and sustainable.” Russ Feingold, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin and a leader of the progressive movement nationally, will give the Morse public address at 5 p.m. Nov. 7 in the EMU ballroom. His topic is “Corporate Power in Politics and the Economy; What the Citizens United Decision Means for Our Democracy.” Check other events and speakers for this winter and spring at waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu The Morse Center is truly offering us the issues and solutions that the “occupations” are all about.
• Kudos to public radio station KLCC for taking a risk and changing its format. It’s always hard to make a change, and worse when you’re an institution around town, but we’re loving more local news while at the same time keeping up with all the good music. Like what you hear? Support KLCC with a donation. Heck, support all your local news and entertainment!
• It’s a wise move for the UO and President Lariviere to bring Robert Berdahl back to the campus to work on strategic and academic planning and funding while Provost Jim Bean is off for a year. A highly respected history professor and Dean of Arts and Sciences at the UO from 1967 to 1986, Berdahl went on to become the president of the University of Texas (where he worked with Lariviere) and chancellor of the California system. He retired last spring from the presidency of the American Association of Universities. Portland is now his home,. He’ll commute to Eugene two days a week for this job which pays him $96,000 a year. That’s the rub. Some former colleagues say that’s a fair wage for his smarts and experience. Others on the campus are not so sure. But on Oct. 11, The Register-Guard announced Lariviere’s appointment of Jamie Moffitt as the UO’s new vice president of finance and administration at a salary of $270,00 a year. That’s an increase of $49,000 for that job, according to the R-G. Two days before that The Oregonian ran a front-page story about collegiate faculty and administrators across the state demanding equal salaries to those Lariviere has instituted here. So what’s the political upside in this down economy? The University of Oregon is still a state university in a state system. It looks like Robert Berdahl has his first assignment back in Eugene. It’s called Political Science 101.
• When Eugene movie goers and activists will sit in a dark theater on sunny October weekend afternoons, something significant is happening. It was the Good Works Film Festival Oct. 7-10 at the Bijou, Hult Center and Eugene Public Library. Good crowds, often full houses, watched provocative documentaries and talked about them afterward. Cynthia Wooten and Linda Blackaby, both former Eugeneans now living in the Bay area, brainstormed and put together this creative prototype for cities across the country. Their theory is that a good documentary will move the viewer to action. We’re looking forward to next year.
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