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News Briefs

When the Supreme Court announced Dec. 7 that it would hear challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 in the spring, gay rights advocates across the country rejoiced. Savage Love columnist Dan Savage, who just got married in Washington, would probably enjoy seeing his Oregon friends get wed as well. But rulings favorable to marriage equality won’t immediately affect Oregonians; a 2006 amendment to Oregon’s Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Everyone should have a place to spend the holiday season, and an initiative from Mayor Kitty Piercy is going to try to make that happen. In an attempt to help the homeless, Piercy has the goal of raising $40,000 to assist 40 families in need. The program, called “A Home for the Holidays,” will strive to give these 40 families housing. St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County has joined forces with Piercy in an effort to accomplish this feat, and Oregon Community Credit Union has already come up with $20,000 toward the goal. 

Worse than coal in your Christmas stocking is coal in your water. A recent accident at a coal terminal in Vancouver, B.C., calls attention to the impacts that coal exports have on oceans and waterways around the ports. A large bulk carrier of coal collided with one of the coal trestles at the Westshore Terminals port in Canada on Dec. 7, spilling several tons of coal into the ocean. This is in addition to a coal carrier that ran aground in November, and another that recently docked with a large crack in its hull. 

Winter is coming. But Eugene’s Opportunity Village, a housing for the homeless pilot project now slated for a site near North Garfield Street and Roosevelt in the Whiteaker, won’t be up and running for at least four to six months. That’s why Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) representatives are urging the City Council to repeal Eugene’s camping ban through the winter and designate specific camping areas. 

More than four months after the Occupy Housing and Foreclosure Action Committee (OH-FAC) moved into the foreclosed home on the corner of 12th and Lawrence, it’s being reoccupied by its owner. Occupiers say owner Karen Atkinson, who left the home two years ago, is in a sort of “legal limbo,” but she’s challenging the foreclosure.

Lief O’Neill, a 9-year-old Monroe boy who is severely autistic but also highly communicative, came within hours of dying in late November after being denied a heart transplant in Oregon due to his disability. But doctors at Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital heard of his plight and agreed to do a surgical procedure that will hopefully keep him alive until a suitable heart can be found. He was flown from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland to Palo Alto and had the surgery Dec. 4. 

Seven more local facility’s industrial stormwater pollution control plans for are up for public comment this week. These plans are for facilities that have applied for Clean Water Act permit coverage under the new industrial stormwater permit issued by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and that took effect July 1. Comments are due by 5 PM on Dec.

Farmers and parents in the Highway 36/Triangle Lake area west of Eugene have been fighting for years to put an end to toxic aerial sprays of pesticides by private timber companies that drift onto nearby homes and gardens. After residents, including children, in the Triangle Lake area tested positive for the chemicals atrazine and 2,4-D in their urine, the Oregon Health Authority and other agencies begin to investigate the drifting pesticide issue.

What if you could peel off Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco from the Vatican, roll it up, send it on a plane and put it on display here in Eugene?  That’s on the same scale of what UO Associate Professor James Harper is trying to do, except with some of the most famous tapestries in the world, the Barberini Tapestries, commissioned by Roman 17th-century nobility and contemporaries of the Medicis, the Barberini family.

Twenty-five years have passed since Alito Alessi and his dance partner Karen Nelson pioneered DanceAbility (DA), an internationally-renowned dance method that employs movement to explore artistic expression between people with and without disabilities, and Dec. 7 marks the beginning of their week-long anniversary celebration with a free First Friday ArtWalk event, 6:30 pm at the Broadway Commerce Center including performances by disabled and able-bodied dancers. The goal of DA is to challenge misconceptions and prejudices that people have about themselves and others.

Some of Oregon’s sharpest storytellers will share memories of off-beat holiday mischief and wintry discontent at the annual Planned Parenthood Advocates holiday benefit from 8:30 to 10:30 pm Friday, Dec. 7, at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. Tickets are $15 at the door or $13 in advance from CozmicPizza.com and at the Cozmic box office.

Long have dogs, cats and chickens been allowed as pets in urban areas, but now Genie Harden is making an effort to give them company here in the form of miniature Nigerian dwarf goats. Harden, who has a farm on Chezem Road in Eugene, is running a goat school on her property this weekend to teach those interested in owning goats how to raise them.

The Lane County Jail has been releasing prisoners due to lack of space — including one who walked down the street and promptly robbed a bank — and public safety has been on the Board of County Commissioners’ agendas lately, but it’s not clear if the county is any closer to a safety solution. Sid Leiken, board chair and part of the commission’s conservative majority, sent a message this week indicating the board may be backing away from a jail tax and instead blaming budget woes on a lack of logging on public lands. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting public comments this week on industrial stormwater pollution control plans for more local facilities that have applied for Clean Water Act (CWA) permit coverage under the new industrial stormwater permit. Comments are due by 5 pm on Dec. 13, and the facilities are: All American Fabricating, Emerald Forest Products, Forrest Paint Co., Gheen Irrigation Works, Gibson Steel Fabricating, Hearthside Food Solutions and Valley Landfills, (Benton County).

Drink some local beer, meet local food people and talk controversial canola this weekend at Cozmic as part of a regular InFARMation (farm + information = InFARMation) series the first Sunday of the month from now through April 7, 2013. The series is part of an effort to bring eaters together with farmers to make the food web stronger and create real change in the local food system, according to Friends of Family Farmers, which has been hosting monthly InFARMation get-togethers in Portland.

The question of whether a local air agency like Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) is better for Lane County’s air quality than moving to a state agency was the topic Commissioner Pete Sorenson wanted to see addressed at the County Commissioners’ LRAPA work session Nov. 27. Sorenson says the agenda set for the meeting, which was called at the behest of Commissioner Jay Bozievich, was all about the agency and not about the air.

Industrial stormwater discharges are one of the most commonly permitted discharges under the Clean Water Act in Oregon. Statewide, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has permitted about 700 such discharges (with 119 of those discharges in Lane County, and 86 of those Lane County discharges are located in Eugene). Last year, DEQ issued a new industrial stormwater permit that’s generally more stringent than the old permit, and is currently in the process of assigning facilities to the new permit, which includes accepting public comments on stormwater plans.

Is a small, speedy potato-shaped seabird the new spotted owl? If it wasn’t already clear before: Clearcutting on hundreds of acres of coastal old-growth forests that are habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet is definitely at a standstill, this time thanks to a Nov. 19 ruling by federal Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene. 

Michael Hogan has stepped down after 39 years as a judge in federal courts, and the $100,000-plus privately funded retirement bash planned in his honor has been downsized at his request. The change in plans also follows a story in Willamette Week Nov. 21 that quotes Portland attorney Michael Esler saying “The ostentatiousness makes us lawyers look even worse than we already look.”

Tsunami Books will be home to readings by local writers and poets “committed to narrative and lyrical art” at 7 pm Sunday, Dec. 2, according to Michael Copperman, one of the event’s nine writers who graduated from the UO’s MFA program in creative writing. The readings, in honor of the departure of poet and fellow MFA grad Michelle Penaloza, mark the inaugural gathering of the Oregon Writers Collective. 

Eco-saboteur Daniel McGowan, the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary film If a Tree Falls, will be released from the secretive prison where he has been held for the past several years on Dec. 11. The Civil Liberties Defense Center, which has worked to expose and oppose the Communications Management Units where McGowan was held, is sponsoring a fundraising event at Cozmic Friday, Nov. 23, support to help McGowan after he is released.

The news that clearcutting would be suspended on 914 acres of the Elliott State Forest came to logging opponents through a September memo that was posted on the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) website, Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands says. He says this was welcome news for an endangered sea bird that nests in Oregon’s coastal old-growth forests. Cascadia Wildlands and other groups filed a suit in federal court in July to try protect the threatened marbled murrelet and its habitat, and that suit has led to the temporary cease in clearcutting.

Finding a tree to hug is an easy task in arboreal Eugene, and Friends of Trees aims to make it even easier by adding to the urban forest. The group’s next planting opportunity to is Dec. 1 at Washington Park. Volunteers will break into teams and plant street and yard trees in several south Eugene neighborhoods. The event begins at 9 am.

Two Occupy Eugene protesters got cold and in trouble for calling attention to homeless people who are cold and in trouble. The activists received citations for criminal trespass in the second degree around 1:30 am Monday after scaling the chain-link fence that blocks off Eugene’s City Hall. The Occupiers were protesting the city’s lack of action in providing homeless people with a safe place to sleep during the winter.