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Eugene Weekly : News : 12.1.11





News Briefs:
UO President Lariviere Terminated | Vision to Privatize the UO | Flashmobs Occupy Big Shopping Day | LUBA Rules on Gravel | Petition Seeks to Prolong Occupy Permit | Farewell to Plastic Bags? | Cougar on LCC Campus? | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up | Corrections/Clarifications

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Something Euge!

 


UO President Lariviere Terminated

The turmoil started when the news broke last week that Oregon’s state Board of Higher Education planned to terminate UO President Richard Lariviere. On Nov. 28, the Oregon University System (OUS) board voted unanimously to end Lariviere’s contract as of Dec. 28. The news made national headlines this week.

Photo by Todd Cooper

While the UO is known for its fervent support for its sports teams, it hasn’t always been known for getting riled up about its administration. But within hours of the Nov. 23 announcement of the planned termination, an emotional outpouring from the campus community ensued. It included a Facebook page with more than 2,000 “likes,” a petition signed by more than 6,000 supporters, a blog, an “I stand with the hat” graphic, faculty resolutions and the presentation of the game ball to Lariviere after the Civil War football game Nov. 26. 

While the decision to end Lariviere’s contract came as a surprise to the campus community, according to public comments at the Nov. 28 OUS meeting, the board of directors says the decision was a long time in coming. According to statements by the board and Gov. John Kitzhaber, the conflict between the board and Lariviere during his two-and-a-half-year term as president stemmed from issues such as his decision to raise salaries for about for 1,300 administrators and professors at the cost of several million dollars during a time of state funding woes.

Kitzhaber issued a statement on the termination in which he said, Lariviere “disregarded my specific direction on holding tight and delaying discussion about retention and equity-pay increases until the next biennium.”

Also at issue was Lariviere’s “New Partnership” proposal, which would have the state back $800 million worth of bonds for the UO, separately from Oregon’s six other public universities. The plan ambitiously called for the UO to raise an additional $800 million in funds through private donations to match the borrowing and raise a $1.6 billion endowment for the school.

The board said the situation with Lariviere had been deteriorating for more than a year and also cited concerns that the president did not appear at board meetings. The New Partnership and Lariviere’s pursuit of it through the Legislature didn’t benefit the university system as a whole, board members said.

Lariviere said in his statement to the OUS board, “The changes at the UO we are advocating are not for the UO, they are for the people of Oregon.”

At the tense and at times emotional two-hour public hearing, University Senate President Robert Kyr criticized the board for not consulting with the UO campus and its faculty in making the decision to fire Lariviere. 

Board president Matt Donegan said Lariviere had been warned he needed to improve his working relationship with the OUS board. In June, the board took the step of giving Lariviere only a one-year contract for his position as president — he is still a tenured faculty member at the UO, even after being terminated as president. “It became clear to me that trust between Dr. Lariviere and this board was not being rebuilt, but actually eroded further,” Donegan said.

The situation with Lariviere had been “a long dysfunctional ride, he said, and he added “this is heart-breaking right here.”   —  Camilla Mortensen

 

Vision to Privatize the UO

Supporters of UO President Richard Lariviere vowed to continue to pursue his vision for the university after his firing this week. But what exactly was that “vision” for the state’s “flagship” public university?

Last year, Lariviere pushed two bills in the state Legislature that would have largely placed control of the public university into private hands. 

Senate Joint Resolution 20 would have referred to a public vote an amendment to the state Constitution’s limits on deficit spending and debt to allow borrowing of up to $1 billion to fund a UO endowment.

The $1 billion would be repaid by state taxpayers with interest, which could double the total amount paid by citizens. The bill would also allow the state’s six other universities to also borrow up to $1 billion each for a total of up to $7 billion owed by taxpayers. “The State of Oregon shall pledge its full faith and credit and taxing power to pay the indebtedness,” SJR 20 states.

The bill requires matching funds from contributions and “other sources” (which apparently could include tuition) to get the taxpayer money.

The bill would allow the UO to put the public money into a fund and “have the endowment fund managed by agreement with a nonprofit foundation affiliated with the public university.” 

The UO Foundation is a private, tax-free corporation not subject to state open meetings or public records law and not under the control of the people of Oregon or their elected representatives. State law (OAR 580-046-0025) specifies that university foundations “shall not be subject to control by the institution or an institution employee.”

Another bill pushed by Lariviere and the UO Foundation, SB 559, would have established the UO as an “independent public university, governed by University of Oregon Board of Directors.”

Under the constitutional amendment (SJR 20) and state law, the board would not have any control over most of the university’s money, which would be controlled by the private foundation corporation. SB 559 specifies that moneys held by the UO Foundation “may not be considered public or state funds for any purpose.” 

The bill requires the new UO board to meet only four times a year and allows “meeting electronically,” similar to the rules for the Oregon University System board.

SB 559 specifies that the UO board would include 14 voting members, only seven of whom would be directly appointed by an elected official, the governor. Five other members would be appointed by the UO board, one by the OUS state board and one by the private UO foundation corporation. — Alan Pittman

 

Flashmobs Occupy Big Shopping Day

Occupy Eugene protesters were busy little elves, umm Occupiers, over Thanksgiving weekend. The group sent carolers and a flashmob out to Valley River Center and Walmart to greet Black Friday shoppers with songs with lyrics such as “On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me — rampant corporate greed,” and chants of “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

Derek Lewis in a police mug shot

The Occupiers left the mall when asked and headed over to the Springfield and Eugene Walmart stores where police arrested one protester, Derek James Lewis. According to a media release from Occupy Eugene, approved by the OE general assembly, the protesters were getting ready to leave the West 11th Walmart when Lewis was arrested. Katie Dee, an Occupy Eugene protester, says that it was not clear the protesters were being asked to leave, “but we were in the process of dispersing when one of us was arrested.” According to Dee, OE believes Lewis was singled out because he was holding a megaphone.

Later in the day on Black Friday, OE hosted “Buy Nothing Day” events and a coat exchange with the Lane branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (aka the Wobblies) asking people to drop off coats, hats and gloves or come take the warm clothing if needed. And Friday night, the Occupy Eugene campsite became a stop on the Whiteaker’s Last Friday Art Walk.

The Dec. 15 expiration date for the Occupiers’ permission to camp at Washington-Jefferson Park is drawing near, and so far Eugene has managed to avoid the pepper spraying and other violence that has marked the removal of Occupy camps in other cities.

In a Nov. 23 email to colleagues, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz writes, “I am pleased that the city of Eugene’s approach has been successful so far in avoiding many of the problems we are seeing in other communities.” He continues, “We are working to do this while striving to minimize community disruption and impact to public resources.” 

Ruiz says in the email that the city has been accused in emails and via letters to the editor of not equally enforcing written complaints against West 11th EmX signs and OE signs. He writes, “City staff have discussed those violations with OE representatives. Some of the signs have been removed. City staff will continue to work with OE to obtain full compliance, just as we would for other sign code violations.” Complains of building code violations have also been addressed, Ruiz writes, and he adds that Occupy Eugene plans to reimburse the city for the $2,000 temporary chain-link fence put up along 7th Avenue to keep pedestrians safely out of the street.  — Camilla Mortensen

 

LUBA Rules on Gravel

Lane County can’t issue a permit that would allow gravel trucks to speed through a quiet rural neighborhood without allowing the affected neighbors some input on the issue, according to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. 

A group of neighbors living near a proposed gravel mine off of Quaglia Road in Cottage Grove are hoping that thanks to the Nov. 22 LUBA ruling, the quarry proposed by Donald Overholser (now deceased) and Rodney Matthews might have limits that would make the enterprise a little more tolerable for those nearby.

According to the LUBA decision, the case is remanded to Lane County and the neighbors cannot be barred from participating. 

When the mine applied for a permit to operate in Lane County, it needed to go through a site review process. Families for a Quarry-Free Neighborhood were fine with the restrictions that were put on the mine through the site review, according to their attorney Dan Stotter. The restrictions included a limited the number of truckloads, limited truck speeds, and called for the gravel road to be upgraded, add safety pull-outs and to have intersections made safer. Since the quarry would use dynamite, restrictions also included limiting how often rock could be blasted. 

Nearby families, some with properties bordering the proposed mine, were worried about the effects of the noise on their animals,  dust on farms, homes and wildlife, the possibility of declining property values and the fact that the road, which would be filled with gravel trucks, is shared with school buses and children.

According to Stotter, the permit that Lane County originally issued addressed these concerns. So the families didn’t appeal the permit when it was issued to the mine operators because the families were satisfied with the restrictions. 

The mine operators were not satisfied with the restrictions, arguing they were not responsible for all the impacts to the road, which has also been used by logging trucks. The mine operators appealed the permit and the process moved to another stage of hearings. But because the neighbors didn’t protest the permit, the county said that they were not allowed to participate. Lane County then issued the permit to the quarry without the restrictions.

Families for a Quarry-Free Neighborhood appealed to LUBA, which remanded the case to Lane County. Stotter says that the remand specifically says the county needs to include the neighbors in the process. He points out that the ruling quotes the Lane County planning director’s findings: “It is the director’s opinion and finding that the proposed use will be compatible with the surrounding vicinity only if the required conditions of this approval are implemented by the applicant.” 

Stotter says, “Our position is that those conditions are absolutely necessary to make this proposal even remotely compatible.”

He adds, “An unlimited number of dump trucks of unlimited size, no speed limits and no pullouts is clearly dangerous and highly impacts any local residents living on Quaglia Road.”

At this point Stotter says that the Lane County or the mine operators could take the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals, or let it got back to the county. He says the Lane County Board of Commissioners could make a decision, or it could send it back one more level to the hearings officials. “My clients hope the Lane County board will address this directly,” he says. 

Lane County spokeswoman Amber Fossen says the county declines to comment on the case “as is our policy on pending litigation.”

Stotter says the sad thing is rather than just complaining about the mine, Families for a Quarry-Free Neighborbood “did the responsible thing in participating in the process, only to have that taken away by the Lane County hearings official.” 

“It’s a legal and procedural error that needs to be fixed,” he says. — Camilla Mortensen

 

Petition Seeks to Prolong Occupy Permit

A decision on the future status of Occupy Eugene’s camping permit is on the agenda of the City Council Dec. 12, and with that in mind, a petition to the Eugene mayor and councilors is requesting that the city “continue to partner with Occupy Eugene to provide a safe community to the hundreds of homeless who have been forced onto the streets due to the economic injustices of our times and who have now found a safe community at the Washington/Jefferson Park Village.” As of this writing, 186 people have signed the online petition, and the signature goal is 1,000. Print versions of the petition are also being circulated.

The petition effort is being organized by Occupy Eugene with support from Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network and other groups and individuals.

“The citizens of Eugene have donated to Occupy Eugene: tents, sleeping bags, clothing, temporary building materials, kitchen equipment and sufficient food for the Occupation to cook and serve over 1,000 meals a day to the hungry,” reads the petition. “The Occupy volunteers provide thousands of hours of volunteer work each month. We ask that the city of Eugene continue to make the encampment space available and also provide electricity and water to the site in order to assist the citizens and the volunteers create a more humane existence for the homeless we serve.”

Find a link to the petition, including a pdf of the print version, at occupyeugnemedia.org  — Ted Taylor

 

Farewell to Plastic Bags?

It’s spreading like wildfire across the West Coast — from San Francisco to Portland, and now to Eugene — cities are adopting policies that prohibit grocery stores from distributing plastic bags. Although the Oregon Legislature rejected a statewide bag ban earlier this year, several Oregon cities are looking to locally impose bag restrictions. Recently Environment Oregon and OSPIRG have brought up the idea of a Eugene ban with the City Council, forcing Eugeneans to examine the costs and benefits of this longstanding shopping staple.

Dave Mathews, a preservation associate for Environment Oregon, says that banning plastic bags is one of the “simplest things we can do” to mitigate the environmental impact of our waste. Not only are bans like this shown to cut the volume of plastics clogging our shorelines and seas, but also they reduce the immense cost of recycling plastic bags, he says. 

Portland recently banned the distribution of plastic bags in its major grocery stores. According to Mathews, this ban has gone off without a hitch. “During the first couple of weeks there is usually some confusion,” he said, “but then people just get used to it.”

Hilex Poly, a plastic bag producer based in Georgia, opposes the ban and claims that the best solution would be to improve plastic bag recycling rather than banning bags altogether. The wood products industry supports a movement that would have them cranking out paper alternatives to the plastic bag. And plastic bags would still be legal for items like meat and vegetables. 

The potential ban asks Oregonians to question how much they are willing to change their lifestyles in the name of the environment.

“We’ve seen it happen in cities around the world, and it hasn’t been a problem,” Mathews says of the ban. “It’s good for the environment, and it doesn’t hurt us at all.”  — Caitlin McKimmy

 

Cougar on LCC Campus?

Exams are worrisome enough for LCC students during finals week. Add a possible sighting of a cougar in the campus parking lot and staying inside cramming all night doesn’t seem so bad. 

Unless the cougar is actually a dog.

LCC students received an email alert Nov. 22 advising them to be cautious of a cougar after a student reported spotting one in parking lot L at the main campus. The email urged students to call Public Safety to report any additional sightings.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) was called out to investigate tracks that were found near the sighting. Brian Wolfer, ODFW district wildlife biologist based in Springfield, determined they did not belong to a cougar.

“The only tracks we could locate were all dog tracks,” he said. “We couldn’t find any cougar tracks where the sighting supposedly occurred.”

There have been confirmed cougar sightings in the area around LCC main campus in the past, according to Wolfer. Over the summer cougars were spotted in the Ridgeline trail system and confirmed by ODFW.

But Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy said the occurrence is a non-issue. “This is not a new phenomenon,” he said. According to Fahy, there has never been an attack on a human being by a cougar in the state of Oregon and reasons for concern are overblown.

“We are not a part of their prey base,” he said.

LCC had not reported any additional sightings as of Monday.

“At this point we’re monitoring to see what’s going on, and we haven’t been able to confirm that there’s actually a cougar there,” said ODFW biologist Wolfer.

Wolfer suggests students take precautions even though the cougar hasn’t been confirmed because it wouldn’t surprise him if there was one. Students should maintain eye contact with a cougar, he says, and make themselves look bigger by raising their arms or a backpack over their head. They should also have a light at night while walking through the parking lot.  — Ted Shorack

 

Activist Alert

• The first free Opal Hour social networking gathering for activism in mental health will be from 5 to 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 1, Rosa Parks Day, at the LILA Peer Support Club, 990 Oak St., Eugene. Live music by psychiatric survivor Liam Rhythm. Speakers include Mark Roberts, president of Lane Independent Living Alliance. Call 345-9106 or email oregon.united@gmail.com

• Mayor Kitty Piercy’s reelection campaign kicks off with a gathering from 5 to 7 pm Friday, Dec. 2, at Cowfish Lounge and Danceclub, 62 W. Broadway. RSVP at Piercy’s new campaign Facebook page, or contact Jake Foster, Piercy’s new campaign manager, at jake@kittypiercy.com

• An International Human Rights Day celebration with a theme of “Act Now! Protect Human Rights in the Community” will be presented by the city of Eugene Human Rights Commission, the Equity and Human Rights Center, and the Community Coalition for Advancement of Human Rights, from 5:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Atrium Building, 99 W. 10th Ave. Keynote speaker is Ajamu Baraka. For information call 682-5177.

• Kit Kittredge, an activist member of both CodePink and Veterans for Peace, will speak at 6 pm Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Eugene Public Library, sponsored by Al Nakba Awareness Project. Kittredge was aboard the last two Gaza Freedom Flotillas including the recent “Freedom Waves” that were seized by Israel in international waters. She has visited Gaza five times in the past three years with CodePink, working with doctors, farmers and children’s groups, and was in Tahrir Square during the January 2011 Egyptian revolution. She has just returned from Egypt.

 

War Dead

In Afghanistan

•  1,833 U.S. troops killed* (1,828)

• 14,837 U.S. troops wounded in action (14,837)

• 981 U.S. contractors killed (981)

• $479.3 billion cost of war ($476.1 billion)

• $141.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($140.6 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)

• 1,554 U.S. contractors killed (1,554)

• 113,380 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (113,126)

• $804.9 billion cost of war ($803.6 billion) 

• $237.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($237.3 million)

Through Nov. 28, 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)

 

Lighten Up

by Rafael Aldave

Gov. Kitzhaber said that his goal for higher education requires university presidents and other leaders to pull “in the same direction.” He then blasts UO President Lariviere for pulling forward. What direction does the governor have in mind?

 

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

In our “Food Coma” story on Olive Grand Nov. 17 we neglected to include the shop’s location. Olive Grand can be found at 1041 Willamette St. downtown, phone 685-1000. See also olivegrand.com

 

 

 

 

 

SLANT

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