News Briefs: Hynix Acid Permit Gets Nod | Lawmakers Join Office | Seedy Science | Anti-War Activities Growing | Rich Grocers Stiff Union | Peace is Missing | How Local Can You Go? | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Park or Parking Garage?
Downtown committee requires little for big subsidy
Eugene Celebration Parade
Shots from the EC’s annual parade
Happening Person: Winnie Barron
HYNIX ACID PERMIT GETS NOD
The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) approved Hynix’s permit to increase its release of hydrogen fluoride. HF is a byproduct of the hydrofluoric acid that is used to etch silicon wafers at Hynix’s west Eugene chip plant
The decision, which was released Sept. 6, came after more than a year of debate and a review process that included almost 300 public comments. Hynix has been trying since July 2006 to get permission to raise its HF emissions.
Hynix will be allowed to release the 5 tons of HF it requested. This is up from the 1.8 tons for which Hynix previously had approval. Hynix is already releasing more than the approved 1.8 tons: The plant released 2.06 tons of HF into the air in 2006 and paid an $800 fine for going over the emission limit. This new permit will last until December 2011.
HF is listed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a possible agent for use in chemical terrorism. Acute exposure to HF can cause death from cardiac or respiratory failure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Chronic inhalation has resulted in “irritation and congestion of the nose, throat, and bronchi at low levels.”
According to LRAPA Hynix’s emissions release of HF is still “well below” the threshold that would classify it as “a major industrial source.”
The Hynix plant is located near the Ridgeline Trail, West Eugene Wetlands and the Nature Conservancy’s Willow Creek Preserve. The area is the primary home of Fender’s blue butterfly, an endangered species that uses Kincaid’s lupine as its food source. In his comments on Hynix’s proposal, UO chemistry professor Paul Engelking cited concerns over HF’s effects on plant life.
The new permit requires more frequent monitoring than the last permit. The company will test the exhaust stack emissions twice a year, rather than once every five years.
“Numerous changes” were made to the permit in terms of “monitoring, reporting and operating parameters,” according to Merlyn Hough, LRAPA director. The permit was “much better” as a result of the public involvement, he said in LRAPA’s press release.
The final permit and public responses to it will be posted on LRAPA’s website (www.lrapa.org)no later than Sept. 14. — Camilla Mortensen
LAWMAKERS JOIN OFFICES
Five state lawmakers representing the greater Eugene-Springfield area are now located in a central office building in Springfield. The five celebrated the opening of their shared district office Sept. 6 with a public gathering and open house.
|Sen. Vicki Walker with Becky Flynn and Maceo Persson of Basic Rights Oregon at the new district offices|
The offices are located in the Allied Building at 1126 Gateway Loop, Suite 128, north of the Gateway Mall.
The purpose of the joint offices is to improve accessibility to constituents and make the most of state resources, says Rep. Phil Barnhart. He is sharing the offices and staffing with Sen. Vicki Walker and Reps. Nancy Nathanson, Terry Beyer and Chris Edwards.
“Many of the benefits that come from this office space are intangible and difficult to measure, but are major benefits nonetheless,” says Barnhart. Some of those are “being able to host quiet, private meetings rather than meeting in a coffee shop and having a consistent physical presence for our constitutents.”
Barnhart says state lawmakers traditionally work out of their “basements, dens, spare bedrooms,” and by having all their staff in one office, they are able to streamline duties and avoid duplication.
A crowd of local community, business and nonprofit leaders turned out for the open house. Office hours are 9 am to 5 pm, but calling ahead is recommended at 607-9207. The fax number is 726-9810.
OSU researchers are beginning a $94,000 study to determine if field burning smoke harms those who inhale it.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) instigated the study using fees assessed to farmers who still burn their fields, according to a recent R-G (9-7) story.
Last month, in response to a request by Lane County’s Board of Commissioners to enact an emergency ban on field burning, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) ruled it lacked enough information on health hazards of field burning smoke to stop the burn. They voted to ask the Oregon Legislature for $90,000 to fund a study on the issue.
The $94,000 OSU study is not the study requested by the EQC. It is a separate study.
The researchers, Dave Stone and Jeffrey Jenkins, are faculty in the OSU Department of Environmental & Molecular Toxicology. It isn’t uncommon for private industries to provide research funding for studies in higher education. Most academics then publish their findings in peer-reviewed journal to help prevent bias and ensure high research standards.
This study, because of pressing the time frame of the field burning issue, may come out in a different form, but Todd Simmons, Director of News & Communication Services for OSU, said the research will be reviewed, and he stressed the school’s reputation as a top research university. “We’ve done nothing historically or currently to show bias on the issue of field burning,” he said.
A copy of the OSU study proposal was sent by the ODA to grass seed growers on an alternatives-to-field-burning research committee for approval. Copies were not sent to organizations that are against field burning, such as the Oregon Medical Association. Simmons said he will try to provide the EW with a copy of the proposal.
The study will use already existing data to assess health risks. Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center questioned the need for more studies when there are “already 2000 peer reviewed studies.” — Camilla Mortensen
ANTI-WAR ACTIVITIES GROWING
Hundreds of antiwar organizations are planning to send people from all over the nation to Washington, D.C., for a massive anti-war protest on Saturday, Sept. 15, timed to coincide with this week’s report by Gen. David Petraeus about progress of the Iraq occupation. The Sept. 15 demonstration was initiated by the ANSWER Coalition, which has organized most of the large-scale demonstrations in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities since 2002.
Locally, peace activists were at the Farmer’s Market in Eugene Sept. 11 talking to people on the streets about the Petraeus report.
“In spite of the appalling conditions that most Iraqis now find themselves living in, Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are trying to convince Congress that the situation is improving,” says Michael Carrigan of CALC. “We hope that Congress will see through their claims. The war has cost more than 3,700 American lives and $480 billion so far, with no end in sight. That is $480 billion we should spend here at home to rebuild Oregon roads and bridges, and improve education and health care for all Oregonians,” he adds.
“All the recent polls indicate that the people of this country have turned decisively against the war,” says Brian Becker, national coordinator of ANSWER, in a press release. “We are borrowing a page from the Vietnam era in building an intense nationwide grassroots campaign that will compel an end to the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq.”
RICH GROCERS STIFF UNION
Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway have left their union workers hanging without a contract for the last six months, and the workers are growing restless, according to the union.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 held a protest on Aug. 27 on the Ferry Street Bridge to inform the community about the negotiations. The union reported “significant movement” in mediated negotiations Aug. 28 and has scheduled two more negotiation sessions in September and another three in October to talk about healthcare.
The Fred Meyer (Kroger) corporation reported “astronomical” profits of $3.3 billion last year; Albertsons (Supervalu) reported $2.2 billion and Safeway $2.2 billion, according to the union website. With continuing double digit profits, local union head Jeff McDonald asked, “What excuses will they use this time? You work hard to make billions for these corporations, you deserve increases and improvements. Together along with all our union brothers and sisters around the nation and with our family and friends, we will demand that you too are rewarded.” —Alan Pittman
PEACE IS MISSING
An illuminated 5-foot peace sign is missing from high in a madrone tree near Maurie Jacobs Park where it has been displayed for the past dozen years. The sign disappeared from 123 Fir Lane one night in August and has not been returned.
“Our children and now our grandchildren grew up with it as part of what we believe in, in our lives and for the world,” says Anastasia Sandow. “Our neighbors welcomed this symbol as part of our neighborhood and a welcoming sight as they drive to their homes at night.”
Sandow says the sign was not vandalized. “It appeared to be carefully removed out of the tree and the ropes that held it in place had clematis and climbing roses carefully unwound from them.”
The family is asking that the sign be returned, or “please do us and our community a favor: Display it, plug it in and hang it high.”
HOW LOCAL CAN YOU GO?
Helios Resource Network is organizing a Local Foods Community Potluck & Corn Boil to be held from 4 to 7 pm Sunday, Sept. 16, at Alton Baker Park Shelter #2. This event follows “Eat Here Now” and is the second local food networking event highlighting local food issues.
Cary Thompson of Helios says the “Eat Here Again” event will be a potluck featuring dishes prepared with local foods. All dishes should include an ingredients list with what is local/organic. People are encouraged to bring copies of the recipe for their dish.
To supplement the potluck, Helios has procured a donation of at least 150 ears of local organic sweet corn from Groundwork Organics.
“As with ‘Eat Here Now,’ we hope for large participation from the general public,” says Thompson. “The focus will be on community networking regarding local food issues.”
Sponsors also include Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, EWEB’s Healthy Farms Program, FOOD for Lane County, School Garden Project of Lane County, Eugene Permaculture Guild and Lost Valley Education Center.
For more information, call 284-7020 or visit heliosnetwork.org.
Since the U.S. invasion began on March 20, 2003
(last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,771 U.S. troops killed*(3,739)
• 27,767 U.S. troops injured* (27,279)
• 122 U.S. military suicides* (118)
• 1,297 Coalition troops killed* (1,297)
• 417 contractors killed**(417)
• 78,081 Iraqi civilians killed*** (77,566)
• $450.4 billion cost of war ($448.4 billion)
• $128.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($127.5 million)
* through Aug. 13, 2007; 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
• Near Marcola Elementary and Mohawk High Schools: Weyerhaeuser Company (741-5211) will ground spray 80 acres with Garlon 4 Ultra, Chopper, MSM and Accord herbicides plus Hasten and Syltac adjuvants starting Sept. 21 (#55900). Call Jeff Yost at Weyerhaeuser or Tim Meehan at Oregon Department of Forestry (726-3588).
• Near South Fork Gate Creek starting Sept. 13 (#55894), Pacific Air Research (826-9450) will aerially spray 226 acres with Arsenal, Oust, and Accord herbicides plus Kenetic adjuvant for Giustina Resources (485-1500).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Our Sept. 6 story on Senate candidate Steve Novick said it didn’t appear state Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley has a Facebook or MySpace page. Merkley’s Senate campaign would like to clarify that Merkley has a “huge” Facebook presence.
• Excellent Eugene Celebration and Parade last weekend. The theme this year was “Lighten Up,” a tricky mindset for the grumpy among us who feel a more appropriate response to our times is widespread outrage and political revolution. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to take a break from the barricades. We had a grand time in the parade dressed up like The Blues Brothers, making music as “The News Brothers and Sisters.” Thanks for the cheers along the parade route.
The R-G was grumbling again this year about how the Eugene Celebration Parade was too liberal. Funny, with the corporate sponsorship and domination by downtown business interests, we were thinking just the opposite. This year needed more left-wing political hanky-panky. Not that we wouldn’t welcome more conservative color. We loved the bloody Christ dragging the cross a few years back. Just nothing boring. Leave the SUV rally for the mall parking lot. Keep it weird!
Speaking of the parade, Eugene Councilor Mike Clark promised us a surprise on parade day, and we got it, sort of. We’ve been complaining editorially about the conservative Clark not living up to his campaign promise to surprise us with his votes. We’re still waiting for him to break ranks with the pro-sprawl, anti-environment special interests in town. His surprise on parade day? Clark donned a heavy, long-sleeved Eugene Weekly sweatshirt for the parade. Must have felt a bit like a sheepskin.
Look for more parade photos this week at eugeneweekly.com.
• We usually wait until ballots are in the mail to pen our endorsements for upcoming elections, but the arguments in favor of Measure 49 are compelling, and we can think of no good reasons to delay. We’ll write more about it later; meanwhile, it’s time for people who care about land-use planning in Oregon to get busy and help get this measure passed. Should we toss out Measure 37 instead of merely limiting it with Measure 49? That would be ideal, but the clock is running on thousands of Measure 37 claims that will be disastrous if allowed to continue to the bulldozer stage. Polling indicates voters are not ready to abolish 37, but they are open to fixing it. Measure 49 is a painful compromise, but it’s also a timely step in the right direction and deserves our votes in November. Check out yeson49.com to get involved.
• Former Eugenean Sam Adams is the name most mentioned to go for the Portland mayor’s mantle now that Tom Potter has announced he’s not going to run again. Currently a city commissioner, Adams gained fame as chief of staff for Mayor Vera Katz. He went to South Eugene High School, started his climb as a volunteer for Peter DeFazio and knows more than anybody else about the guts of the city of Portland. We wish him well.
• Rumor of the moment about Eugene’s mayoral race in 2008 is that Pat Farr will challenge Kitty Piercy. City councilor, state legislator and, most recently, executive director of FOOD for Lane County, Farr has high name familiarity. He replaces John Brown, current EWEB board member, as the most mentioned challenger. Probably there will be a dozen different names before the race really takes shape. Interested candidates and contributors should note a recent poll taken by a city consultant showing Piercy with a 60 percent favorable rating. That’s a mighty high level of agreement in this contentious town.
• Gen. David Petraeus gave his long-awaited assessment of the Iraq occupation to Congress this week, and it was predictably over-optimistic. After all, Bush and Cheney went through a string of generals before they could find one who supported their obsession with military solutions to political and cultural quagmires. The report Petraeus gave ignored the big picture: the chaos of the civil war in Iraq and the astounding tragedy of death, destruction and displacement suffered by the people of Iraq. Our continued occupation of Iraq will do nothing to alleviate this catastrophe, and in fact our presence appears to be making it worse. Eight more Americans soldiers died the day Petraeus addressed Congress talking about how much progress is being made. As Peter DeFazio said this week, “There is no reason to prolong the U.S. involvement in Iraq if we want a stable country.”
• One of our favorites from last year, the Peace Train was back in the Eugene Celebration Parade this year, looking a bit sturdier than last year. Peace, in all its forms, requires maintenance. We hear the Peace Train cars are safely tucked away in a barn, but the big engine still needs dry storage until next year. It’s about the size of a pickup truck. Got a space? Contact Betsy at 344-9343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
A physician’s assistant in Brownsville, Winnie Barron first went to Africa in 1994, as a volunteer medic with Northwest Medical Teams in Rwanda. “I was enveloped with the joy of people there, the incredible tenacious spirit,” she says. “I had a lot to learn from them.” Returning on her own in 1997, Barron found the borders to Rwanda closed, so she volunteered instead at a hospital in Makindu, Kenya, a truck stop on the road from Nairobi to the port of Mombasa. There she met hundreds of street children, most of them orphans. Working with local teacher Dianah Nzomo, Barron began planning the Makindu Children’s Program. Officially launched in August 1998, MCP provides food, medical care and education to kids who are placed in “guardian homes,” usually with older people who could not otherwise afford to feed them. “It’s a win-win situation,” Barron says. “Instead of loitering and stealing, the kids become part of the community.” MCP will present A Taste of Africa, a benefit event, 2 to 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Beacon House, 90980 River Road. Learn more at makindu.org.