News Briefs: Subpoena Withdrawn | Trail Closed for Logging | Piercy for Tax Breaks | Phooey on Foie Gras | Former CM Quits Post | Taser-Town Shocking Art | Parking Back to Park | Fire-Proof Your Home | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Council weighs proposals to fill downtown hole
Tribal elder to teach Sahaptin at UO
Happening Person: John Archer
Eugene videographer Tim Lewis won’t be going to jail to defend his rights as a journalist — not this week anyway.
Lewis, who posts his work on YouTube as “Picture Eugene,” was issued a grand jury subpoena for his video of the May 30 pesticide rally Tasering of Ian Van Ornum. Lewis and American Civil Liberties Union attorneys Tony Rosta and Chin See Ming argue that Lewis, as a journalist, is protected by the Oregon Shield Law.
Lewis was prepared to go to jail to defend his rights as a journalist, arranging for a house sitter for his pets and explaining the situation to his young daughter.
Rosta and ACLU legal director Ming filed a motion to quash the subpoena, invoking the Shield Law which protects people engaging in “any medium of communication to the public” from being compelled to give testimony or evidence from information they got while “gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public.”
When the motion to quash went before Lane County Circuit Court Judge Lauren Holland on Tuesday morning, the subpoena was withdrawn; however, according to David Fidanque of the ACLU, “The district attorney is leaving open the option to file a new subpoena later.”
“What a bunch of spineless bureaucrats,” said Lewis, in response to the DA’s withdrawal of the subpoena before the case could be argued in court.
Because the motion was withdrawn, the merits of the case were not argued, says Fidanque. But if a new subpoena is filed, Lewis and the ACLU intend to fight it. “We think it’s a pretty clear-cut case,” says Fidanque. “Tim Lewis and other electronic journalists that publish through the Internet are all protected by the Shield Law.” — Camilla Mortensen
TRAIL CLOSED FOR LOGGING
Hikers heading up to the clear blue Tamolitch Pool this summer are going to have to take an alternate route for the next couple of weeks to make way for logging near the popular hiking trail.
|Photo: James Johnston|
Tamolitch Pool, also known as Blue Pool or Blue Hole, is a well-used destination along the McKenzie River. The most scenic trail to the pool, which starts near Trail Bridge Reservoir, winds along next to the river through old-growth Douglas fir and over lava flows until it reaches a quiet pool of bright blue water.
The pool used to be the base of a waterfall that flowed just south of Sahalie and Koosah Falls. An ancient basalt flow reduced the water, and when EWEB put in a diversion dam from Carmen to Trail Bridge Reservoir, the water to the falls was cut off almost entirely. Instead the pool is fed by icy water springing up from below the surface. Only during very high flow days does water spill over the now dry waterfall.
After a storm in 2006 blew down trees near the trail, the Forest Service proposed a salvage logging project to remove the fallen and damaged trees. Salvage projects are usually controversial because environmentalists say fallen trees are a natural part of a forest. “Down logs are an important part of the forest ecosystem,” says Chandra LeGue of Oregon Wild. She adds, “It’s unfortunate that the Forest Service has decided to close one of the McKenzie River Trail’s most popular sections in high summer to facilitate this controversial project.”
The Forest Service’s plan for the project called for the logging near the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail to happen in April in order to reduce the emergence of bark beetles, which the USFS says infest the blown-down trees.
The trail is closed from Trail Bridge Campground north to the pool from July 14 to Aug. 3 on weekdays. The route will be open Saturdays and Sundays, but hikers looking to avoid weekend crowds will be out of luck. The pool can be accessed by hiking along a longer, more arduous trail south from Koosah Falls.
Shadie Nimer, who is coordinating the sale for the Forest Service says, “The visible effects of thinning from the trail will be minimal.” Once the logging is completed, Nimer says, paint will be removed from the trees and exposed surfaces will be re-seeded with native seeds. The project will use “shovel-loading equipment” that minimizes ground disturbance, according to Nimer.
LeGue says, “The Forest Service should be focusing their logging in plantations that will benefit from thinning, not removing big habitat-forming trees along trails where wildflowers, soils and recreation will be disturbed.” — Camilla Mortensen
Piercy for Tax Breaks
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy broke tie votes July 14 in favor of giving three developers a total of almost one million dollars in tax breaks for new apartment buildings near the UO.
The giveaway comes at a time the city, county and schools are facing harsh cutbacks in public safety, education, human and other services due to budget shortfalls.
The city will give about $650,000 in tax breaks to developer Steven Bennett for his 40-unit apartment building, about $165,000 in tax breaks to developer Dean Hansen for his seven-unit project and about $90,000 in tax breaks to developer David Corey for his seven-unit project.
The breaks come in the form of a 10-year property tax exemption under the city’s controversial MUPTE tax break program. About half the lost revenue will come from state school funding, about 40 percent from city revenues and about 10 percent from the county’s struggling budget. In addition, taxpayers may pay slightly higher property taxes on city bonds and levies.
“It’s a lot of money,” said Councilor Alan Zelenka of the tax breaks. “It’s very difficult for me to say what we are getting.”
“The county can’t pay for public safety,” said Councilor Bonny Bettman. “None of these applications justify that exemption.”
Piercy and conservative councilors Mike Clark, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling and Chris Pryor argued that the projects wouldn’t be built at the same quality without the tax breaks. “I don’t think they’d have the high quality and livability,” Piercy said.
But council opponents argued that there was little compelling objective evidence that new apartments wouldn’t be built in the area without the tax breaks. Responding to high demand for student housing, many apartment buildings have been built near the UO before the council expanded the MUPTE to include the campus area in 2004.
Bettman said the tax breaks were unfair. She noted the city wants an $81 million tax increase for potholes. “We are saying everybody else gets to pay but not them.” — Alan Pittman
PHOOEY ON FOIE GRAS?
For a town that loves its Ducks so much, some might find it surprising that foie gras, fattened goose or duck liver, has not been banned in Eugene, and in fact some find this delicacy the perfect fit in a Go Ducks! world.
At restaurants like SweetWaters on the River at the Valley River Inn, the dish can be served upon request. The restaurant keeps the controversial item off their menus as to not offend prospective customers. “People complained,” says Kim Stellflug, SweetWaters’ chef de cuisine. “We got some hate mail about how inhumane it is and how dare we serve foie gras.”
U.S.-produced foie gras is made from ducks and SweetWaters buys their ducky delights from Sonoma Foie Gras Farm in California. This farm lets their ducklings run free until they are a year old, at which point, they are moved to pens. The ducks are fed a “pre-measured” amount of feed, which is funneled into the esophagus. According to Sonoma Farm, the procedure only takes a few seconds and does no harm to the animal.
Complaints have been made against the force-feeding of ducks and geese because it can cause bruising, lacerations, sores and throat tearing. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Force feeding is necessary to produce the size and fat content that makes a liver ‘foie gras.’”
California has banned the force-feeding of ducks and geese starting in 2012. In 2006 Chicago banned the sale of foie gras, and in Portland protestors have been making a scene large enough to persuade two restaurants to remove foie gras from their menu. Why is that Eugene, a town known for activism, has so little to say about such a controversial issue? Local members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) didn’t respond before press time.
EW also spoke with Marché Restaurant, but the management declined to go on record, stating only that the restaurant buys “free-range” liver and that customers find the paté “yummy.” Perhaps that is the answer: Taste buds trump the foul treatment of fowls. —Cali Bagby
FORMER CM QUITS POST
A Montana newspaper has reported that Dennis Taylor, Eugene’s former city manager, has left his new position as executive director of the Montana Meth Project after six weeks on the job. No public reason was given for the parting other than it was a mutual decision, according to an April 23 story by Angela Brandt in the Independent Record in Helena.
The story quotes former Executive Director Peg Shea saying, “The project and Dennis have decided to amicably part ways … Dennis remains a passionate advocate, as he has always been.”
Taylor left Eugene in July 2007 after clashing with councilors over the establishing of a police auditor that would not be under his supervision. Some councilors praised his management, while others criticized him for setting policy instead of following council direction, and his unwillingness to investigate police department failings in the Lara/Magaña sex scandals.
Taylor has a long history of public service in Montana and remains active in volunteer work. He is currently a member of the Helena-Lewis and Clark Planning Board.
TASER-TOWN SHOCKING ART
New “Taser Town” T-shirts are on the local market inspired by two recent events, the Olympic Track & Field Trials and the use of Tasers on a Eugene demonstrator. The design is by illustrator and cartoonist Harvey Dickson (“Art as Therapy” cartoons) and the printing is by Triangle Graphics.
The message on the shirts is “Welcome to Taser Town, USA, Eugene, OR, You’ll be shocked!” The shirts sell for $15 (or more) as a fundraiser for the “Kesey Square 3” and the Civil Liberties Defense Center. They are available at Saturday Market, public gatherings around town, and at a yard sale benefit for CLDC July 19-20 at 1970 W. 13th. Or call “Taser Tess” at 337-3229.
“This fundraiser idea was sparked when we heard Pam Driscoll speak before the Eugene City Council after the Tasering assault,” says project volunteer “Zap Zapatista.” “Pam asked the question, ‘Track Town USA? More like Taser Town USA!’ and a jolt went through the crowd, a light bulb arced and voila! An idea was sparked.”
PARKING BACK TO PARK
After decades of subsidizing the UO football program with about $135,000 a year worth of parking, the city has finally decided to convert a parking lot back into a park.
Next week the city will begin to restore a gravel, 450-space parking lot along the canoe canal next to Autzen stadium to grass and trees, city staff told the council.
For a decade the city had given the parkland to the UO, charging only 66 cents per car for game-day parking. That’s about 75 times less than the $50 a game other lots near the stadium charge.
UO officials had argued they needed the parking for the stadium but at the same time removed thousands of spaces for an indoor practice facility and stadium enlargement plan. Now the UO is proposing to add a baseball stadium, removing 1,100 more parking spaces.
In 2001 the City Council voted not to extend the parking giveaway beyond the end of 2007. The UO apparently didn’t ask the council to vote on another extension, so city staff moved to restore the area in accordance with adopted city park plans. The plan for the area includes a small parking area for users of the adjacent canoe canal and dog park. — Alan Pittman
FIRE-PROOF YOUR HOME
Now that fire season is upon us, making homes in the foothills “firesafe” should be a priority for rural homeowners, says Native Forest Council’s Josh Schlossberg.
“This fire season, where you hear about homes being burnt or even lives being lost, don’t blame the natural cycle of wildfire or enviros working to protect the natural wealth of forests from more logging industry destruction,” Schlossberg says.
NFC has been looking for volunteers to make their home safe from wildfires. Homes located near the edge of the forest (aka the wildland-urban interface) are particularly at risk of catching fire when the nearby forest burns.
Creating “defensible space” around homes with large risks to wildfire requires trimming dead branches and branches that hang low, cleaning gutters, creating fuel breaks, mowing lawns, storing combustibles in safe areas and other clearing of debris from within 100 feet of the home, also known as the “home ignition zone,” according to the firewise.org website.
Schlossberg says the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, politicians and the logging industry insist that in order to keep homes and people safe from wildfire, thinning trees out of the backcountry is the number one priority.
Schlossberg says that instead of focusing on saving lives and homes by educating the public about the “firesafe” procedures and steps that need to be taken, attention is focused on logging in the backcountry, which ultimately devastates native forest ecosystems and doesn’t protect homes.
More than a quarter-million Oregon residences are located in areas at significant risk of wildfire, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. According to Schlossberg, studies show that protecting a home with “firesafe” techniques can give houses a “95 percent chance of withstanding even a stand replacement fire.” A stand replacement fire is when everything above ground in the forest burns.
If you are interested in protecting your home from wildfire and are willing to offer your residence for a one-day demonstration on making it “firesafe,” contact Josh Schlossberg at 688-2600 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Courtney Jacobs
• Downtown Neighborhood Association meets from 5 to 7 pm Thursday, July 17, at Davis’ Restaurant on Broadway, and will discuss development options, among other items.
• The Pitchfork Rebellion will be joining anti-WOPR activists in a major forest practices rally planned for noon Sunday, July 27 at Portland’s Pioneer Square on SW 6th Avenue. This all-afternoon event with numerous Eugene speakers kicks off the second annual West Coast Convergence for Climate Action, located near Eugene July 28 to Aug. 4. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit www.climateconvergence.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,119 U.S. troops killed* (4,114)
• 30,324 U.S. troops injured* (29,978)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 93,778 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (93,583)
• $536.6 billion cost of war ($534.7 billion)
• $152.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($152.1 million)
* through July 14, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Low Pass Area: Weyerhaeuser Company — South Valley (744-4600) will spray roadsides with 2,4-D – LV6, Garlon 3, Tahoe 4E, Razor, Foresters, Accord herbicides and non-ionic surfactants for the Oregon State Forestry Department (935-2283) starting July 15 (#50528).
• BLM will hold a scoping meeting at 6:30 pm July 17 at Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building regarding proposed spraying of herbicides on BLM lands. Call Doug Huntington at 683-6415.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• A charter amendment to strengthen our police auditor position cleared the council this week, thanks to a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Piercy (we can imagine a different outcome under a Mayor Torrey). The measure, if it passes in November, should take some of the ambiguity out of the charter language and establish the independent auditor as a permanent function.
We’ve been hearing mild words of support for Eugene’s police auditor position from Eugene’s city manager, police chief and some elected city officials. But with our auditor under attack and our police department out of control, it’s not enough to say the words. It’s time for something stronger, even beyond the charter language fix. Reform is not coming from the bottom up; it needs to come from the top down. The council needs to make it clear to the city manager that our auditor needs full access as already provided by the charter, full cooperation and full respect down the chain of command. Anything less is unacceptable.
Another battleground is the contract the city has negotiated in the past with the police union. It’s bargaining time again and time for our city manager to challenge some of the elements in the contract that conflict and interfere with the functions of the auditor, such as excessive confidentially of personnel records, way beyond state legal requirements. Should our city attorney or city manager have the final word in these matters, in effect setting policy? Hardly. A policy of transparency in government must be an ongoing council priority, and the responsibility of the city attorney and city manager is to help make it happen, whatever it takes. This is one way we can begin to rebuild trust in our police department.
• A proper Eugene welcome! That’s what Mayor Piercy and other city officials gave Bradley Malsin of Beam Development last week in a sunny ceremony on Kesey Square, just across the street from the building and pit that Malsin will bring back to life. Malsin bought the Centre Court building, the pit, and the Washburne building from the city for $3.6 million. His Portland-based company plans to restore the Centre Court, not demolish it, much to the approval of Councilor Betty Taylor who called this “a great day for Eugene.” Councilor Alan Zelenka said the Beam project is a “real turning point in downtown development.” He has gone to Portland to see finished Beam projects, and believes “we couldn’t have a better partner.” Mayor Piercy praised three other positive downtown developments: 200 employees in the renovated Bon building, a new downtown neighborhood association, residents moving into the apartments next to the WOW Hall. One of her goals: “ for the downtown to be pitless.” We’re optimistic.
• A decision on who will develop the pit and parking lot across the street from the Eugene Public Library is expected in the next few weeks, but we are reminded by local designer Thomas Lincoln that the popular idea that he and others have pitched for a small public park (his plan is pictured here) is not included in the leading plans. “This is what the public wants,” he says, “and I see no reason why a proposal to develop the Sears pit must include a somewhat lame proposal for the space across from the library.” Lincoln was responding to our Slant column last week about the “quasi-public plaza” included in the WG proposal. “I don’t think the public is interested in an ‘almost’ plaza,” says Lincoln.
In the end, it appears the idea of a public park across from the library may be doomed. Who can we blame? Despite strong evidence that public parks downtown stimulate housing and commercial development nearby, city planning staff and some city councilors just don’t get it. No public space was required in the city request for proposals.
• The imposter is still around. We broke the story July 3 on Kenny Roberts who pretended for years to be the son of the late rock star John Cipollina, and we figured he would pack his bags and start a new life elsewhere. But we hear Roberts showed up and spoke at a July 10 meeting of the nonprofit KSOW-FM community radio station in Cottage Grove. According to our sources, Roberts, who serves on the KSOW board, apologized for his deception, asked to remain on the board, wants his canceled radio show back, and wants people to continue calling him Michael, which he says is his middle name. He also told the group that he’s spoken with members of the Cipollina family who have forgiven him, he’s been interviewed by Rolling Stone and some San Francisco radio stations, and promoters who were originally interested in syndicating his ’60s-era radio rock show are still interested. Roberts says he wants to call the show “Imposter Radio.”
After many years of work in local mills, and an off-hours career as a martial arts instructor at LCC, John Archer was ready to stop working for others and go into business for himself. He and his wife, Donna, North Eugene grads who will celebrate 40 years of marriage this summer, took over Claymore Waggin’ Inn Kennels in Alvadore nine years ago. “It’s been here 35 years,” says Archer. “We were looking for a business, and this one seemed ideal.” It wasn’t long before Archer began working with rescue dogs, many of whom would have otherwise been euthanized. He specializes in difficult dogs and interviews potential adopters in depth to make sure they will be reliable caretakers. “They’ve given me the rep of a dog whisperer,” he says. “But I don’t train them at all. I just give them the care and affection they didn’t have before.” In the photograph, Archer returns from the vet with Bosco, a rescued bulldog and pit bull mix who had tendon surgery after a car accident. “I usually absorb the cost,” he says. “But I’m getting help on this one, a thousand dollars from a fundraiser on Craigslist.”