News Briefs: County to Vote on District Boundaries | Eugene Puts Kid on Trial for Sitting on Park Wall | OLCV Releases Scorecard on Legislature | Old Navy Cuts Up Clothes? | Pit Bull Rental Prejudice | Activist Alert | War Dead | Biz Beat | Lighten Up
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Occupy Eugene Ongoing
Consensus model working so far
Happening Person: Jessica Zapata
COUNTY TO VOTE ON DISTRICT BOUNDARIES
Lane County commissioners will hold one more public meeting on whether and how to redraw county voter boundaries in a once-every-10-years process called redistricting. This year’s process, which must be finished six months before the May 2012 election, has been contentious with allegations of gerrymandering to alter the future makeup of the Lane Board of County Commissioners.
The commissioners will take public comment on the three possible scenarios that they will be voting on at a meeting at 1:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Harris Hall.
Scenario one is to leave the voting boundaries as they are. According to Commissioner Rob Handy, the majority of public comments at the last public hearing on redistricting on Oct. 5 called for the voting boundaries to be left as is.
Handy said that scenario three, which he slightly tweaked, addresses many concerns, such as moving Glenwood into Springfield to maintain that community of interest, and he said it “makes the smallest adjustments possible to the other boundaries, and where it does make changes it really does a better job of keeping neighborhoods and communities of common interest whole.” This scenario leaves Bethel-Danebo intact, and does not move the Whiteaker neighborhood, potential moves that have concerned area residents.
In an email to the commissioners, Mayor Kitty Piercy wrote in support of either option one or three. She wrote, “the Eugene City Council agreed that, like the state, only minor tweaks to our current wards are necessary since no population growth necessitates any large changes. We have moved forward with small changes and little to no controversy and I’m very pleased with that outcome.”
Piercy, who is a resident of the Whiteaker neighborhood, which would be split under option eight, continued, “You too, have seen little population change and none that necessitates any large change in current districts.” She says, “Whiteaker neighborhood is well served in its current district, and I ask you not to support option eight which would change this designation.”
Commissioner Jay Bozievich added scenario eight after the last public hearing. It is a revision of scenario six, which was discussed at the meeting. Bozievich said that scenario eight “does the best job of meeting the secretary of state’s criteria” as outlined in a directive sent to the counties in June, “and also follows the descriptions of the districts in the Lane Charter well.”
Commissioner Pete Sorenson said that scenario eight is a gerrymander of the county designed to redraw the North Eugene district to move more liberal voters, such as those in the Whiteaker, out of North Eugene to create a conservative majority on the board.
In an Oct. 13 comment to The Register-Guard, Bozievich said that his concern over scenario three is that Republican candidate Mike Clark, who has filed a prospective petition to run against Handy for the North Eugene seat next year, would no longer live in the district. Under scenario three, Clark would live in the East Lane district and would run against fellow conservative Faye Stewart for office.
Bozievich said, “I made that comment about Councilor Clark offhand and did not intend for it to become the focus of redistricting.”
Handy said it was not his revision that would cause Clark’s district to move. That revision was already present in the version of the scenario that the redistricting task force has been examining for several months.
Andrea Cantu-Schomus, communications director for the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees redistricting, said that if Clark as a candidate were to be drawn out of one district and into another, he would simply run in that new district.
She said that redistricting is determined by the criteria sent to the counties by the Secretary of State’s Office, and by the county charter. According to the criteria given to the redistricting task force, redistricting cannot affect a commissioner who is already in office. The criteria also say that there can be “no favoritism to any person.” — Camilla Mortensen
EUGENE PUTS KID ON TRIAL FOR SITTING ON PARK WALL
For years Eugene police have been arguing that they lack the taxpayer money to respond to even serious crimes.
But some crimes the city police and prosecutors have focused their existing resources on aren’t so serious.
Josie Johnson said her son Nate, 18, won acquittal in a trial in Eugene Municipal Court last week. The alleged crime was sitting on a low wall in a park downtown.
“It seems kind of silly,” Johnson said. “It seems kind of strange.”
She said police argued in the citation and at the trial that sitting on the low wall in the park blocks violated a city ordinance against using park property against its designated use. The wall-sitting offense carried a fine of $75 plus $40 in fees, she said.
Johnson said earlier her son and a friend had been jumping off walls and trees practicing a sport named parkour but were just sitting when the police arrived. She said the earlier jumping caused someone to call and complain, but they weren’t cited for that.
“He’s an Eagle Scout; he’s an all around good kid,” Johnson said of her son. “Gee, the boys were running around having fun in the park. I’m still puzzled by the whole thing.”
“I appreciate a good police presence,” Johnson said. “But I think they should have bigger things to deal with.”
Carol Berg-Caldwell, a citizen who watchdogs the city court, said she’s seen the police use the same wall-sitting charge to single out homeless and young people downtown. “I think they simply go through ordinances and try to find things that they can apply to the people they don’t want downtown,” she said.
Attorney Lauren Regan, who represents a local woman who was also ticketed for wall-sitting, says she has heard that the police have said they will cease giving wall-sitting tickets. But that remains to be seen. — Alan Pittman
OLCV RELEASES SCORECARD ON LEGISLATURE
The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) released its semi-annual Environmental Scorecard for the Oregon Legislature Oct. 13 at olcv.org/scorecard and lawmakers in the southern Willamette Valley ranked relatively high again this year.
Earning a 100 percent ranking for his environmental votes was Sen. Floyd Prozanski, up from 79 percent in 2009. Other high scorers were Rep. Phil Barnhart with 93 percent, and Sens. Chris Edwards, Frank Morse and Peter Courtney with 92 percent. Reps. Paul Holvey, Nancy Nathanson and Sara Gelser earned 87 percent ratings, followed by Reps. Val Hoyle and Brian Clem at 80 percent.
Lower on the rankings were Sen. Jackie Winters at 69 percent, Rep. Kevin Cameron at 67 percent, Reps. Vicki Berger and Andy Olson at 64 percent, and Rep. Terry Beyer at 60 percent.
Looking south at the Roseburg area were some surprises. Rep. Bruce Hanna jumped from 10 to 60 percent this time; Rep. Tim Freeman went from 14 to 36 percent; and Sen. Jeff Kruse improved from 15 to 46 percent.
The ratings were based on 17 contested environmental votes in the 2011 legislative session, including bills on “Cool Schools,” the Bottle Bill update, aquatic invasive species, business energy tax credits, BPA in baby bottles, Farm to School program, etc.
“Oregonians care about our state’s natural heritage and the importance of creating a more sustainable, prosperous energy future,” says Charlie Burr, OLCV PAC Board chair in a prepared statement. “With OLCV’s Environmental Scorecard for the Oregon Legislature, Oregonians can see how their legislators voted on clean air, water and other critical environmental protections during the 2011 legislative session. An important part of passing environmental priorities is making sure citizens know the score.”
Coming early next year will be the OLCV’s ratings of the Eugene City Council and Lane County Commission. The ratings will be based on an analysis of minutes of meetings in 2010 and 2011, according to Ashley Miller, OLCV’s mid-Willamette organizer. — Ted Taylor
OLD NAVY CUTS UP CLOTHES?
When Penny Parks walked outside to have a cigarette near the loading docks at Oakway Center, what she didn’t expect to see was a Dumpster full of brand-new clothing that had been destroyed. She says on Oct. 13, “Two of the Dumpsters were filled with Old Navy wool pea-coats, wool pants and leather shoes. All of this new merchandise was slashed to ribbons,” Parks says.
Parks took pictures with her cell phone before the Sanipac Dumpsters were emptied. She calls sending so much warm clothing to the landfill when so many are poor, homeless and cold “a tragedy.”
Parks adds that she is aware of the dilemma that businesses face in donating to the homeless, sometimes people try to return the donation to the store for cash, she says, but “there are easy remedies, such as using an indelible marker to mark the label. This would probably take less time than the slashing took.”
EW spoke to an Old Navy employee who says in this case the coats had mold and would have been hazardous.
Because Old Navy stores are not permitted to speak to the media, EW contacted corporate headquarters.
Old Navy spokesperson Catherine Rhoades told EW that “our policy is to destroy defective merchandise. This includes items that have been washed, worn or damaged in some way.” She adds, “When possible, we will donate unsold inventory that is not defective or used in any way.” — Camilla Mortensen
PIT BULL RENTAL PREJUDICE
|Sasha the pit bull and her potential new owner are searching for a pit-friendly home|
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 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 a place to 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
• Families for Safe Meters is leading a community discussion on “Smart Meters: Pros, Cons, the Science and ... Alternatives?” from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 20, at Tsunami Books, 25th and Willamette. Speakers include Paul Dark, M.D., and Kathy Ging.
• Eugene Zendo will show the film Peace is Every Step — Meditation in Action on the life of Thich Nhat Hanh from 7 to 9 pm Friday, Oct. 21, at 2190 Garfield St.
• A rally sponsored by the Oregon Education Association is planned for 11:55 am Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Eugene Hilton, followed by a noon march to the old Federal Building at 7th and Pearl for talks by Mayor Kitty Piercy, Rep. Peter DeFazio, OEA President Gail Rasmussen and UO professor Gordon Lafer. The rally is in conjunction with the OEA 2011 Advocacy Conference.
• A free film showing for Occupy Eugene is Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story along with book sale will be at 1:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Unitarian-Universality Church at 40th and Donald.
• A “Close the SOA” benefit concert featuring singer and storyteller Tom Rawson and the Eugene Peace Choir will be from 7 to 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Eugene Friends Meeting House, 2274 Onyx.
• A community conversation on public schools titled “Oregon’s Achievement Gap” will be from 7 to 8 pm Monday, Oct. 24, at River Road Elementary School, 120 W. Hilliard Lane. Speakers include 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman. Feedback will be shared with the governor’s education staff. More meetings are being planned for Nov. 14 and beyond. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• The documentary film Lt. Watada: A Matter of Conscience, will be shown free from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 27, at Harris Hall, 125 East 8th, Eugene. Lt. Ehren Watada’s father, Bob Watada, will answer questions and help lead a discussion. Ehren Watada was the first commissioned military officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, saying he could not participate in war crimes.
• A Howard Zinn remembrance featuring UO professor Cheyney Ryan, a short video, and Zinn’s play Marx in Soho performed by Bob Weicks will be from 6 to 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 27, at PLC 180 on campus.
• 1,800 U.S. troops killed* (1,780)
• 14,455 U.S. troops wounded in action (14,239)
• 981 U.S. contractors killed (887)
• $465.3 billion cost of war ($459.7 billion)
• $137.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($135.7 million)
• 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)
• 1,554 U.S. contractors killed (1,542)
• 112,562 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (112,285)
• $799.5 billion cost of war ($797.3 billion)
• $236.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($235.4 million)
Through Oct. 17, 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)
Do-it-yourself tie dye? A new business in the valley is Kaleidoscope Clothing, owned by Katie Griffin and Jantzen Albee. Katie tells us her customers bring in their own clothes, maybe something already a bit stained or worn, for a whole new look. Or pick something from their hand-dyed collection. Find them on Facebook or at 325 Main St. in Springfield, or call (435) 881-0050.
We see the old Bene Gourmet Pizza location on 18th near Chambers now has a “LEASED” banner across the Evans, Elder & Brown sign. Broker Stephanie Seubert says she can’t disclose the new business name until all the lease details are worked out, but says, “You’ll be happy” to see who’s moving in. The building shares a parking lot with Albertson’s and used to be a branch of Oregon Community Credit Union. It still has a big vault.
Local nonprofits Oregon Toxics Alliance and CentroLatinoAmericano have landed joint Environmental Justice federal grants totaling $46,500 for research into asthma rates in west Eugene, and the relationship between air quality and respiratory health. “In light of the recent news that the Seneca Sustainable Energy plant was found in violation of their air quality permit, Eugene residents are right to be concerned about the air they breathe,” says Lisa Arkin of OTA, which has recently changed its name to Beyond Toxics.
Send suggestions for Biz Beat items to email@example.com and please put “Biz Beat” in the subject line.
LIGHTEN UP by Rafael Aldave
When County Commissioner Jay Bozievich creates 11 or 12 redistricting scenarios to replace the current plan — which complies with the law — either he’s up to no good, or he’s in training for a job with the secretary of state’s office.
• We were delighted to see that the Occupy Eugene protest was the 11th largest in the nation on Oct. 15, and so far it’s been a peaceful, inspiring and educational demonstration. Want to know how else to get your voice heard and change government? Participate. The Lane County commissioners are about to make a decision on redistricting that could change where you vote, and change the political makeup of the board to make it even more conservative and less “green.” If you want to have a say in local politics and change the way things are run around here, then show up at 1:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Harris Hall. For more information read our story this issue and go to the county website at http://wkly.ws/14d to see maps of the various scenarios.
• The highly visible signs opposing EmX in west Eugene are having the intended impact on public opinion, so how about some signs or flyers favoring EmX? We know EmX has a lot of support, but where’s the organized community campaign to make it happen? If nothing else, residents should contact their city councilors since the next council vote could go either way. Find their individual emails on the city website or email everyone at firstname.lastname@example.org
One point that appears to get lost in the discussion is that the west Eugene EmX is just the next logical part of a metro area mass transit system that has already proven itself to be both popular with riders and cost-efficient. LTD’s cost per rider on EmX is two-thirds that of a regular bus. Taken by itself, west Eugene EmX doesn’t make sense, but as part of the whole regional transportation system, it’s a logical extension that makes the entire system more efficient. And let’s not forget that bus rapid transit is not just LTD’s pet project; it’s integral to Eugene’s long-range Transportation Plan, or TransPlan, adopted in 2001.
• If you hang around the Hilton the night before home games you’ll probably see Duck football players hanging around, too. That’s where they all stay when they play the next day at Autzen. A prudent plan, considering some of the team’s hearty partiers off the field. Last Saturday morning before the evening Arizona State game, the players and Coach Kelly strolled through the Farmers’ Market in a community-building gesture. Why not? Lots of bemused expressions from farmers, shoppers, players, but we liked it.
• Are Democrats the only “green” lawmakers in Oregon? Many Republicans value clean air and water, but they still block a lot of environmental legislation in Salem, saying jobs and corporate profits are more important. Now their overall voting record is improving. The semi-annual Oregon League of Conservation Voters Scorecard is out (see News Briefs this week) and some R’s are cranking out dramatically better votes this time around. Sen. Jason Atkinson of Central Point appears to be the first Republican to earn a 100 percent record, up from 24 percent from the last tally in 2009. Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) improved from 32 to a commendable 91 percent. Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) went from 10 to 60 percent. In fact, nearly all the Republicans improved.
What’s going on? We like to think that increased awareness and public pressure in favor of environmental sanity are making the difference. Good job, OLCV, in holding lawmakers accountable for their votes, and we look forward to the local rankings early next year. A remarkable amount of volunteer work goes into these analyses.
• Free trade agreements passed through Congress this week and not everyone is celebrating. Previous trade agreements such as NAFTA in 1994, touted as great for the U.S. economy, actually led to the loss of at least 900,00 U.S. jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and huge trade deficits. Big business and industry want these trade agreements; unions and human rights activists have been fighting them. Whether the new trade agreements benefit us or not remains to be seen; regardless, they do not include substantive conditions regarding the environment, government corruption, human rights and labor rights, particularly in notorious Colombia and Panama, where joining a union can prove fatal. A missed opportunity for both the U.S. and our trading partners.
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
Born in Mexico City, Jessica Zapata moved with her family at age 8 to Cuernavaca, the “City of Eternal Spring,” to ease her brother’s asthma. She studied architecture at the local University of Morelos, worked as an architect in Mexico City while she earned a masters in restoration, then went into business with one of her best friends in Cuernavaca. “We did both restoration and architecture,” she says. In 1997, she met her future husband, Dan Howard, a Eugene native who was in Mexico to study Spanish. She spent time in the U.S.; he spent time in Mexico, and eventually they married. She joined him in Eugene four years ago and found work as an ESL assistant at Prairie Mountain School. “The Latino kids didn’t have their familiar festivities,” Zapata noticed, so she organized a Day of the Dead celebration, then got inspired and followed up with more arts and music evenings in Bethel schools and around town. In 2009, she founded Eugene Arte Latino to sponsor monthly cultural events in collaboration with community groups. “Everything we do is free,” says Zapata, who also dances with Andean musicians Sol de los Andes. “We volunteer and we never charge.” EAL will present a Dia de los Muertos fiesta at Downtown Languages, 1035 Willamette, from 5:30 to 8 pm Friday, Nov. 4.