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News Briefs

Cultural background can affect legal decisions in the courtroom. Alison Dundes Renteln, a professor of political science and anthropology at the University of Southern California will be speaking on minority rights and cultural bias in the courtroom in her talk “The Right to Culture as a Human Right: Religious Liberty, Gender Violence and the Cultural Defense,” at the UO Jan. 29. 

Author and social activist Harsha Walia is best known for co-founding the Vancouver chapter of the movement No One Is Illegal, a network of anti-racist groups that campaign for and represent non-resident immigrants. Her book explores immigrant rights movements through an international look at capitalism, labor exploitation, settler colonialism, state building and racialized empire. In it, she offers strategies for social movement organizers to develop strong communities whose ultimate goal is liberation.

More than 40 percent of people who are transgender have attempted suicide, and about 80 percent have considered it. The attempt rate is 1.6 percent for the general population, and mental health experts say ongoing discrimination is one contributor to the large disparity. On Monday, Jan. 27, the Eugene City Council is scheduled to vote on amending the city code and adding gender identity to the definition of sexual orientation. The amendment applies to protections against discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and public accommodation.

All the Whos down in Whoville are hoping the city of Eugene’s heart grows a couple sizes very soon. The city has posted notices that the site of the homeless protest camp at Hilyard and Broadway is no longer open for public use and it will “clear and clean the site,” according to a press release that went out to the media before the campers themselves were notified, a move Alley Valkyrie of the Nightingale Public Advocacy Collective called “disrespectful and dehumanizing.”

A cloud of suspicion around the departure of former administrator Liane Richardson still hangs over Lane County government, in part because the full details of the investigation into her unauthorized changes to her payroll have never been released. On Jan. 13, former Lane County Commissioner Bill Fleenor filed an open records lawsuit over the report by USO Consulting. The outside investigation was commissioned by the county and released with 29 pages blacked out. Fleenor, the R-G and EW were among those who made public records requests for copies of the report.

Lane County is plowing ahead with its plans to develop the rural industrial area of Goshen, which lies just south of Eugene. The county calls its plan to develop Goshen “GREAT” — the Goshen Region Employment and Transition plan — but land-use and environmental advocates have serious doubts about its greatness, and LandWatch Lane County has a case about Goshen before the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

• USFS plans to spray riparian weeds in Sweet Home and along Middle Fork Willamette and McKenzie rivers for false brome and yellow archangel with Aquamaster by backpack and Japanese knotweed by injection with Imazapyr. USFS would like comments regarding alternatives by Jan. 31. The environmental assessment is expected to be completed for public review in April 2014. Contact USFS office in Springfield for more information.

It’s one thing to get ousted from office, but quite another when the ousting is based on false statements. That’s what recently recalled Lowell City Councilor Pam Bryant alleges in her Jan. 7 lawsuit against Kenneth Hern and Nancy Garratt, two members of the Recall for Lowell’s Future Committee that sought to remove her from office. 

In a time when government secrecy is becoming both more prominent and more criticized, it’s no longer hard to believe that Congress would “fast track” a vote on a secret document devised by international corporations. 

The Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper and several other conservation groups sued BNSF Railway Company last summer after finding what they call “substantial amounts of coal in and along several Washington waterways near BNSF rail lines.” On Jan. 3 the groups celebrated the most recent development in the Clean Water Act case when the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington denied a motion to dismiss, allowing it to go forward.

Karen Litfin, a University of Washington professor of political science, spent a year traveling and researching her book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. Litfin, along with Deni Ruggeri of the UO’s landscape architecture program and Anita Van Asperdt, a local landscape architect, will be discussing “Ecovillages and Ecodistricts: Solutions for Climate Change” at the UO Jan. 13.

Tom Bowerman of PolicyInteractive is hoping that research from the 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey will help stir a cultural conversation. Bowerman founded PolicyInteractive in order to understand general public opinions about global climate change and how it may influence our future, but the OVB survey also addressed education, conservation, health, crime, public transportation, economic development and taxes. Bowerman, along with Adam Davis of DHM Research, will be discussing the survey and its findings at the Jan. 10 City Club of Eugene meeting. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent Pacific Recycling, Inc. a pre-enforcement notice on Nov. 27 for multiple hazardous waste law violations at its facility on Cross Street in Eugene (off Roosevelt Boulevard). According to DEQ documents, Pacific Recycling recently acquired land on which J.H.

Students: If you think homework and tests are the albatross around your neck, just wait for student loans to come due. To make that as painless as possible, LCC is holding its 15th annual “How to Pay for College ... In One Day!” Saturday, Jan. 11. The event is free and open to all.

While Whovillians say their informal survey showed business support for the homeless protest camp, some nearby business owners say that since the camp moved in, disturbances are up. Angie Rush, a manager at The Mission Mexican Restaurant, says that since Whoville set up, it has lost a significant portion of its college student business, one of its main customer bases.

Health care insurance has long been confusing, and the troubled rollout of Cover Oregon hasn’t clarified much. But Jan. 10, the Oregon Microenterprise Network (OMEN) will visit NEDCO offices in Springfield to listen to small business owners and help answer questions about buying health care for employees.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Dec. 20 their intent to find that the State of Oregon has failed to submit an approvable coastal nonpoint pollution control program (required by the federal Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990). The agencies specifically propose to find Oregon’s program deficient with regard to new development, onsite sewage disposal, and forestry. Public comments on the proposed finding are being accepted through March 20.

After staying at a small, makeshift camp at Franklin Park for more than eight months, one group of homeless people’s luck ran out two days before Christmas. City workers picked up the people’s belongings to take to storage, and in the process two tents were destroyed. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership sounds like a conspiracy theory. The TPP talks about a trade deal that will govern 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports as well as affect copyrights, pharmaceuticals and more. The talks are being conducted in secret, and only a few portions of the agreement and memos about it have been leaked. Congressman Peter DeFazio says he vehemently opposes the TPP.

In May 2008 Ian Van Ornum was Tasered by a Eugene police officer while prostrate on the ground. On Dec. 27, 2013, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that he could continue to pursue his appeal of his conviction for resisting arrest. The appeals court can either not take action, which would leave Van Ornum’s conviction standing, or decide to send the case back to trial court.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Predator Defense and other wildlife advocates have long protested what they say are lax trapping laws in Oregon. A Dec. 15 incident in which a man’s leg was broken in a beaver trap, in conjunction with a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife saying “dog owners share in the responsibility to keep their pets safe during trapping seasons,” has strengthened HSUS’s resolve to make ODFW tighten its trapping regulations. 

“Why do they treat people as if they are the problem?” asks Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics. She says residents of Gold Beach and Cedar Valley in Curry County who have been experiencing health problems from an Oct. 16 aerial spray of pesticides are being treated as it they, not the spraying of toxics, are the problem. 

Eugene’s City Hall, shuttered since August 2012 due to the loss of steam heat and earthquake concerns, is up for a new historic designation that could help protect it. On Dec. 22, Otto Poticha, a local architect and leader in the fight to save the building, submitted an application to give the building a City of Eugene Historic Property Designation.