Eugene Weekly : News : 10.18.07

News Briefs: Upcoming Eco-Arson SentencingsQuakers ArrestedMore Debates on 20-134Chub Making a ComebackBlundering Toward War with IranIntegrity AwardRaptors on CampusWar Dead |

Election Endorsements

Time to fill out that ballot

Robot Companions

Can reliance on technology make us vulnerable?

Happening People: Wendy Strgar


Eco-arsonists are returning to Eugene courtrooms with the sentencing of Jacob Ferguson by federal Judge Anne Aiken on Oct. 26, and the re-sentencing of activist Jeff “Free” Luers at a yet unspecified date in Lane County Circuit Court.

Jeff Luers

On Oct. 26 at 1 pm Ferguson will face charges of one count of arson and one count of attempted arson. Ferguson participated in at least 14 of the ecologically motivated arsons dubbed “Operation Backfire” by the FBI, according to court documents.

Ferguson’s charges were unsealed by Aiken last month after three years of secrecy per the request of federal prosecutors. According to court documents, Ferguson faces only probation for his arsons. Other eco-saboteurs received up to 13 years in prison for their participation in some of the arsons.

Ferguson wore a wire and recorded conversations with other defendants in the Backfire cases, leading to the label of “snitch” on and other activist websites. He is expected to get a greatly reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation with the government.

Luers was sentenced in June 2001 to 23 years in prison for a then unrelated action — the burning of three SUVs at Romania Chevrolet in Eugene. The goal of Luers’ and his accomplice, Craig “Critter” Marshall was to call attention to global warming. Luers was voted “Best Activist” in the EW‘s 2005 readers’ poll.

Several of the Operation Backfire defendants set fire to almost 40 SUVs in the same car dealership shortly before Luers’ trial. Many felt this action was a factor in Luers’ heavy sentence. The dealership location is currentlyowned by the UO.

In February 2007, the Court of Appeals unanimously decided that Luer’s case would be reversed and remanded for resentencing. Luers could get up to 15 years off his original sentence. Luers has been moved to Lane County Jail in preparation for the hearing, but a date has not yet been announced. — Camilla Mortensen



A small group of local Quakers acting in an unofficial capacity were arrested Friday, Oct. 12 following a peaceful protest at congressional offices in Eugene. The group gathered at the U.S. Courthouse to urge Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden to vote against the 2008 appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group of five included physician Paul Qualtere-Burcher, pediatric nurse practitioner Laurie Knackstadt and retired rural outreach counselor Peg Morton. An unnamed high school student and special education teacher were also arrested.

The group read statements at the offices and sang peace songs before they were arrested in Smith’s office for refusing to leave. Wyden’s office was closed. “None of the three have definitely made up their minds how to vote on this bill, which will come to the floor of Congress in January or February,” reads a statement from the group.

The action was part of the national Occupation Project, developed by the organization Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( than 320 people, including 11 in Eugene, have been arrested for nonviolently occupying offices of members of Congress who were unwilling to make a commitment to vote against the war funding.


Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) is hosting a debate on the city ballot measure that would expand the limit on urban renewal spending on downtown redevelopment. The debate between Greg McLauchlan and Bonny Bettman will be at 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 18 at the EWEB boardroom.

Ballots are going in the mail this week and the deadline for voting in the special election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Debate questions will include: Will this new ordinance affect the taxes of Eugene residents? If so, how? What is the alternative? Can we revitalize downtown with currently available resources?

A later debate on Measure 20-134 is being organized by the Lane County Bus Project and Eugene Weekly and is set for 6 pm Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Davis’ restaurant on West Broadway. The debate is the first in a series called “Brewhaha,” and is inspired by the successful “Debate Club” events held in Portland bars and organized by the Portland Bus Project and the Portland Mercury.


While Oregon’s mighty salmon are still in trouble thanks to dammed rivers, logging and pesticides, a tiny local fish is trying to make a comeback, according to the McKenzie River Trust.

The Oregon chub is a small species of minnow. It’s a little speckled fish that reaches a maximum of about three inches in length. It was added to the endangered species list in 1993, where it joins its larger federally listed brethren like spring Chinook salmon and bull trout.

Twenty adult chub were trapped by researchers on Green Island, the property owned by the McKenzie River Trust at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers near Coburg. This raises hopes a healthy population of chub may exist on the island. Green Island is also home to a “long list of both federal and state listed species,” says the Trust, ranging from red-legged frogs to bald eagles.

Green Island is named for the family that owned and farmed the land, which the Trust purchased in 2003. The Trust is working to restore the 1,400 acre island complex for wildlife habitat.

Oregon chub are found only in the Willamette Basin, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their habitat is in side channels and backwaters of the river, many of which have been destroyed thanks to dike construction, channelization of streams and draining and filling of wetlands. The chub are hunted or pushed out of their habitat by human introduced non-native species like large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, and western mosquito-fish.

The Oregon chub is one of many chub species in Oregon that are federally listed, some, like the Oregon chub and the Borax Lake chub, which exists only in one hot springs in Eastern Oregon, exist only in very limited areas. At one point the Oregon chub could only be found in four spots on the Willamette. It can now be found in 35 areas.

These species are related to, but distinct from the illegally introduced tui chub that were eradicated from Diamond Lake last year after causing the release of an algae-released neurotoxin. — Camilla Mortensen



Can President Bush be thwarted in his reported obsession with attacking Iran? Dr. Catherine Thomasson of Portland, national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, visited Iran in early March as part of a peace delegation sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She attended meetings with Iranian religious, education and political leaders. She will speak about her trip at 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. in Eugene.

Thomasson’s presentation discusses common misconceptions people in the U.S. hold about Iran and what missteps the U.S. has taken in our relationship with Iran. She’ll also discuss Iranian history and political structure. She will also review what peaceful solutions lie ahead for our two countries.

Her visit coincides with efforts by Congressman Peter DeFazio calling for congressional hearings regarding Iran and increased congressional oversight of White House plans for war. In a recent letter sent to House Democrats, DeFazio said, “In the run-up to the war with Iraq, Congress as an institution, through its committees, failed the American people by failing to ask tough questions, challenge the administration’s assumptions, and force a public debate. Yet, we’re now witnessing a similar rush to judgment regarding Iran. This Congress must not make the same grave mistake.”



This year’s Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award will go to Oakland, Calif., mayor Ronald Dellums for his Morse-like qualities. The award will be presented at a banquet at the Valley River Inn on Oct. 26.

Prior to his position as mayor, Dellums, a Democrat, was the first openly socialist politician to be elected to Congress since World War II when he took office in the House of Representatives in 1971. He is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

According to Jayne Mickles, president of the board of the Wayne Morse Historical Park Corporation (WMHPC), which sponsors the award, Dellums was selected based on his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War, his work on civil rights issues, his antiapartheid South Africa stance and, as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, his work to reform U.S. military policy.

Morse, a U.S. senator from Oregon from 1944-1968 epitomized an “extraordinary level of integrity and independence, a commitment to justice and a willingness to take a principled stand even at great political cost.” Dellums’ career has those exemplified attributes too, according to the WMHPC.

Dellums held office in the House for 27 years, until he retired in 1998 and became mayor of Oakland in 2006.

The goal of the Morse Award is to bring attention to political integrity in hopes “it will foster that same kind of public service among other elected officials,” said Mickles in a press release announcing the award.

The awards banquet is cosponsored with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. For banquet information, contact or 682-5380. — Camilla Mortensen




Birds of prey will be featured at the UO’s Agate Hall this Friday. Nationally recognized, award-winning nature photographer John Hendrickson is giving a benefit presentation for the Cascade Raptor Center (CRC). “A Celebration of Raptors” is part of Hendrickson’s and the CRC’s ongoing effort to educate the public on raptors and the growing threats to their environment. Hendrickson believes educating the public is essential to saving the future of the raptors.

A graduate of California State University with a master’s degree in field biology and environmental education, Hendrickson’s knowledge and appreciation of raptors is extensive. He has been in the photography business for more than 30 years, but says he has been dedicated to the preservation of nature and birds all his life.

“I am known mostly as a photographer, but I like to think of myself as an educator who uses photography as a tool,” says Hendrickson.

His work can be seen on display at museum exhibits and in a multitude of publications including National Geographic. His book Raptors: Birds of Prey is a compilation of data collected by Hendrickson during more than 30 years of researching, tracking, photographing and writing about birds of prey. The event will feature a discussion on raptor adaptations and ecology, a display of Hendrickson’s work and some of the CRC raptors will stop by to greet the public.

“A Celebration of Raptors: an Evening with John Hendrickson” is at 7:30 pm on Friday, Oct. 19 at Agate Hall Auditorium. $10 general public, $8 for students and CRC members. For more information call 485-4320. All proceeds for the event go towards the Cascade Raptor Center. — Deanna Uutela



Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):• 3,829 U.S. troops killed* (3,815)

• 28,171 U.S. troops injured* (27,767)

• 128 U.S. military suicides* (122)

• 302 coalition troops killed** (301)

• 933 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)

• 81,887 Iraqi civilians killed*** (81,405)

• $460.2 billion cost of war ($458.2 billion)

• $130.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($130.3 million)

* through Oct. 15, 2007; source:; some figures only updated monthly

** estimate; source:

*** highest estimate; source:; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million





“I call myself a loveologist,” says Wendy Strgar, a full-time mother of four who uses her kids’ school hours to write a bi-weekly column on sustainable love. “We need to know how to love one another to survive.” Strgar worked as a career counselor for people with disabilities and mental illness in rural Washington before she and her psychiatrist husband, Franc Strgar, moved to Eugene in 1997. “I got into education reform,” says Strgar, who was among the founders of the Village School. She was ultimately discouraged when her pet project, the Eugene Peace Academy, was denied a charter in 2003. “We need to teach kids conflict resolution so they can bring it home,” she says. Since then, she has redirected her energy into a new business, Good Clean Love, making and selling all-natural products for love and intimacy. “The goal is to raise money for peace education,” she says. On Oct. 21, Strgar will speak on healthy intimacy and the relationship between sexuality and health at the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, Calif. Learn more at