News Briefs: Mayor Race Hangs on Down Ballot | Credit Pothole | Spay/Neuter Saved | Feminist Smarts, Feminist Action | Zenon Café Shuts Down | Eugene Women Return From Rural Kenya | Commissioners Split 2-2 on Election | White Bird’s MD Retires | Phthalate-Free Halloween | On the Web This Week | Activist Alert | War Dead | Voting with Kids in Mind | Get Dirty for Oregon’s Anniversary |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening Person: Helen Park
Endorsements At a Glance
EW’s choices in measures and contested races
Checking the Mayor Mailers
Does Piercy=No Jobs and Torrey=Bush?
Breaking Boundaries, Making Connections
A Q&A with activist, writer and professor Cherríe Moraga
MAYOR RACE HANGS ON DOWN BALLOT
The results of the pivotal Eugene mayoral election could hinge on how many students casting their ballots for Obama bother to fill out the rest of the ballot.
The precinct including the UO dorms is fertile ground for Democrat Kitty Piercy’s race against Jim Torrey, a donor to George Bush. The precinct voted 87 percent for Obama in the May primary. But 19 percent or 318 of the voters in the student area who cast ballots did not fill in a vote in the mayoral race. That percentage is nearly five times the mayoral undervote in Eugene as a whole.
A large percentage of the students living in the big apartment buildings near Autzen Stadium also apparently cast ballots but left the mayor’s race blank. The larger precinct, which includes many nonstudent voters, had a 10 percent mayoral undervote of 96 voters.
Add up the undervote in the two areas, and that’s as many as 414 votes for Piercy, perhaps enough to decide the election in this tight race. — Alan Pittman
The national credit crisis may increase the taxes required to pay for pothole bonds now before voters.
The credit crisis has forced many municipalities around the country to pay higher interest rates to borrow. If Eugene Measure 20-145 passes, higher interest rates could require the city to charge a higher tax rate to pay for the bonds, according to city finance analyst Sue Cutsogeorge.
The city has already estimated that it will have to pay a 1.5 percent higher interest rate on the potholes bonds than it paid for earlier borrowing to build parks, according to Cutsogeorge.
The city plans to structure the pothole loans to “vary with market conditions,” Cutsogeorge wrote in an email.
Right now market conditions don’t look good. Oregon Health Sciences University recently decided to delay a hospital building because it couldn’t get reasonable rates to borrow money for the project.
But Cutsogeorge doesn’t expect a major impact on the pothole bonds. “If interest rates are 1 percent higher than what we’ve estimated, the cost to the average taxpayer would rise by about 50 cents per year,” she wrote. Cutsogeorge said the city still expects the bond measure to pencil out to a yearly cost to the average homeowner of $102, or a total of $510 over five years. —Alan Pittman
Less than a month after the Eugene’s finance director, Dee Anne Raile, issued a memo closing the city’s low cost spay/neuter clinic, City Manager Jon Ruiz, who had supported the closure, reversed his decision.
Animal advocates packed the City Council chamber on Monday, Oct. 27, with almost 30 people speaking out against the closure, which was slated for December. Speakers included local veterinarians, neighborhood representatives, union representatives and concerned citizens. Ruiz began the meeting by telling the group the clinic’s closure was “an important issue” and that there would be a conversation about spay/neuter services in November.
Raile and her memo took heavy criticism from all sides. Former Lane County Animal Services Director Joan Walker called the memo “pure balderdash” and said Raile used “fuzzy math” in her decision. Union leader Gary Gillespie asked the council to “neuter pets, not programs.” Several speakers cited data showing it costs more money to round up, house and kill stray animals than it does to prevent births in the first place and said the decision was not financially sound, nor was it in keeping with Lane County’s attempts to implement a no-kill philosophy that prevents the euthanasia of adoptable animals.
After listening to the public testimony, and a vote by the City Councilors, Ruiz reversed his earlier decision to close the clinic, even temporarily, and said, “Based on the input, I do think we will keep the clinic open as we move forward.” He suggested the city “have a conversation” about broader spay and neuter issues rather than focusing just on the clinic.
The City Council decided unanimously to keep the clinic open, secure a second vet to provide surgeries and engage in a long-term conversation about the spay/neuter issue. The City Council will consider funding options for the spay/neuter clinic in the 2009 budget cycle. — Camilla Mortensen
FEMINIST SMARTS, FEMINIST ACTION
Getting down in the political trenches doesn’t just come from reading books in Women’s Studies 101 — but the intellectual ferment of ideas gives sit-ins, protests and marches a solid, inspirational backing.
So says Cherríe Moraga, the writer and teacher who co-edited the breakthrough This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color in the 1980s. A playwright, poet and essayist who teaches at Stanford, Moraga’s work has provided some of that intellectual foundation in queer studies, Chicana literature and cross-cultural programs. Moraga spoke briefly to EW about community, her hope that students will hold Obama accountable for a progressive agenda, a culture that discourages activism and how feminist women of color can survive in the university system. Find the Q&A online at www.eugeneweekly.com and, if you didn’t already know her work, read the ideas of a longtime hero for those who link progressive feminist thought and action.
Moraga delivers the keynote speech of the ASUO Women Center’s Women of Color Speakers Series at 7:30 pm Wednes-day, November 5, in the Erb Memorial Union’s Ballroom. More info at www.uoregon.edu/~women or 346-4095. — Suzi Steffen
ZENON CAFÉ SHUTS DOWN
One of Eugene’s cornerstone restaurants for the past 28 years shut its doors Sunday, Oct. 26. Zenon Café employed 44 people and is the latest victim of a down economy, according to owner Brian James. The restaurant at the corner of Pearl and Broadway was known for its lively, noisy atmosphere, good wines and wide variety of menu items.
“We’ve been struggling for a while, just like most of the restaurants in town,” says James. “But in the past six or eight weeks, since the market collapsed, we’ve seen people stay away in droves. It was the final nail in the coffin.”
James says he blames the economy more than anything, “but there’s also a lot of focus on people doing things at the mall, Oakway Center and those kinds of places,” pulling a lot of people out of downtown. In addition, he says, other businesses that have closed downtown have reduced foot traffic, making it harder to survive.
James has a background in business and sales and is not sure what he’s going to do next. He says his staff are “highly qualified and professional people, the best of the best” and he’s sure most of them will find work elsewhere in the valley.
“The closing of Zenon,” says James, “is an indicator of what’s happening here, and I would urge the citizens of Eugene to come downtown as much as they can and help out these small businesses. We sure need some people down here.” — Ted Taylor
EUGENE WOMEN RETURN FROM RURAL KENYA
A benefit Halloween Party is planned at 7:30 pm Friday at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, with proceeds going to the Makindu Children’s Program (www.makindu.org). The evening begins with African dance, storytelling, a costume parade for children, and music from Kudana and Samba Ja.
|In Makindu are, from left, Lisa Adam, Jan Johnson, Baboo and Sadie Adam|
Two Eugene women recently returned from rural Kenya. Jan Johnson has been on the board of the Makindu Children’s Program for three years. She is the owner/administrator of Community Rehab-ilitation Services, a brain injury rehabilitation center. Lisa Adam is a nurse on the MCP board with an interest in learning more about the spread of HIV/AIDs. Her daughter Sadie also made the trip and assisted with the programs.
The Makindu Children’s Center (MCC) in Kenya has been a growing, community-based organization for almost 10 years and now provides services to more than 400 vulnerable and orphaned children. These children receive cooked meals at the center as well as monthly food boxes and medical vouchers. MCC also pays for school tuition, books, uniforms, vocational training, crisis intervention and psychosocial support.
This August Johnson and Adams took their first trip to Makindu to visit the children’s program and take some of the children on a safari. They raised $1,800, separately from the MCC program funds, which was enough to take 100 children and their teachers to Tsavo National Park. Many of the children had never been in a vehicle. The trip included an educational component provided by the Kenyan Wildlife Authority.
Adams says the guardianship model and small organizational structure give the program integrity. She says she was impressed that the program provided for the basic needs of the children: food, medicine, clothing and emotional support. “These are resources that every parent desires to give their child.”
In Africa, HIV and AIDS are so widespread that one way or another, entire communities are affected, says Lou Enge, executive director of MCP. “If they don’t have HIV themselves, they care for someone who does, they earn less, they grow less food, fewer children go to school and more children become homeless.”
To insure that the children maintain their vital link to their community, MCP’s kids live with guardian families in their homes.
“The children MCP serves are beautiful and thriving,” says Enge. “With individual and foundation support, MCP will be able to continue providing basic services, while helping the community to become stronger and more self-sustaining.”
COMMISSIONERS SPLIT 2-2 ON ELECTION
County Commissioners Bill Dwyer and Faye Stewart have endorsed incumbent Bobby Green for the north Lane County commissioner position. The action is in response to Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Bill Fleenor supporting Green’s challenger, Rob Handy (see News Briefs, 10/16). The position is considered a swing vote on environmental issues.
In a letter to EW late last week, Dwyer and Stewart said they “strongly endorse” Green’s reelection and said they “continue to be amazed at his dedication, outstanding work ethic and unmatched leadership record at the county, state and national levels.”
The letter cites Green’s recent service as the president of the Association of Oregon Counties as reflecting “the enormous statewide respect and influence Bobby has earned for Lane County through his hard work, character and compassionate leadership.” They also cite the governor’s appointment of Green to the Federal Forest Payment Task Force and the recent reauthorization of more than $100 million in Secure Rural Schools funding as “one more proof of Green’s outstanding leadership.”
Dwyer and Stewart said Green “makes a point of being the commissioner for north — not south — Eugene. As such he reflects the unique needs of the families, working people and seniors from Bethel, Cal Young and River Road, to Ferry Street Bridge and west Eugene.
“When the choice is between Green’s proven record of compassionate county leadership or an inexperienced and unqualified opponent with zero history of ever serving in either elective office or on any county committee or task force, the answer is simple. Bobby Green deserves reelection.”
WHITE BIRD’S MD RETIRES
Dr. Jim Newhall, the medical director at White Bird Clinic for the past seven years, is retiring this week. He’ll be moving from his small Eugene apartment to the family homestead in the Portland area where he and his wife have been building a timber-frame house.
Newhall took the part-time position as an interim director. He agreed to work until the collective could find a permanent director but stayed on well past his initial six-month commitment.
“All this time, not only has Jim worked for half the salary he could have made anywhere else, but he made a long commute from his residence out of town,” says Lisa-Maria DiVincent of the White Bird staff.
DiVincent says Newhall has remained upbeat about his work despite the difficulties of maintaining funding and services for the clinic. White Bird responds to more than 60,000 requests for services annually and provides not only medical care for low income and homeless people but also drug treatment, counseling, crisis intervention, dental care, human services training and other services.
“Before he settled in, White Bird was an acute care facility offering a maximum of three visits (per patient) per year,” says DiVincent. “Now we offer on-going chronic disease management to those who fall through the safety net — indigent folks as well as the uninsured working poor.”
Despite the pressure, says DiVincent, “I’ve seen Jim administer on-the-spot medical treatment and careful prescribing, day in and day out, while displaying an unshakable attitude of respect for each and every patient, staff member, volunteer and intern. He has made an art of serving the very demographic that no other doctors in this town will see.”
More about the clinic and its services can be found at www.whitebirdclinic.org
If you haven’t already spent your hard-earned money on a John McCain fright mask, then stop before you do, or at least sniff the mask before you buy it.
According to the GreenGuide.com, some of those soft Halloween masks are made of vinyl, which usually contains phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals used in plastics to make them soft, and some studies indicate that they can have adverse effects on fetal and child development. One study linked birth defects in the penises of male babies to mothers who had high levels of exposure to phthalates. While many kinds of phthalates have been banned in Europe, in the U.S. the Environmental Protect-ion Agency is still assessing the toxicity of the chemicals.
The GreenGuide suggests if you don’t know what it’s made of, simply sniff the mask to determine if it’s made of vinyl (possible phthalates) or latex (no phthalates). If the mask smells like a shower curtain, avoid it, and if it smells like a balloon, you’re fine (unless, of course, you are allergic to latex).
If you really want to be eco-friendly and chemical free this All Hallow’s Eve, it’s not all that hard. Your basic John McCain/dead-guy costume is easily assembled by getting an old suit from your closet, Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul, and putting some rips into it. Pat a little flour on your face for a deathly pallor, and combine a cup of Karo syrup with one tablespoon of water, one tablespoon of red food coloring and a teaspoon of yellow for easy fake blood. The “blood” may stain, but it’s edible and genital-alteration-free. — Camilla Mortensen
ON THE WEB THIS WEEK
• At blogs.eugeneweekly.com: EW’s team of bloggers reminds voters that Mayor Kitty Piercy is a Democrat and Jim Torrey is a Bush supporter; accuses Wu-Tang Clan of lying about booking a show in Eugene; posts the 14th episode of the Signal:Noise music podcast featuring Scandinavian indie-rock and pop; launches a contest to write the crappiest music review ever (first place gets a free album download of Of Montreal’s new album; deadline is Nov. 3); gives a track-by-track commentary on the upcoming Twilight soundtrack; illustrates the difference in leadership styles between Mayor Kitty Piercy and former mayor Jim Torrey using PictureEugene’s YouTube clips; and notes a mass anti-U.S. rally in Iraq.
• More letters to the editor can also be found.
• The traditional (and bipartisan) free election night gathering is planned once again at the Lane County Fairgrounds, including the public, candidates and media. Doors open at 7 pm Tuesday, and monitors will show results of local, state and national races. Tables are provided for local campaigns. See www.laneeventscenter.org for details.
• Noted storyteller and teambuilding consultant Alfred F. Lang will speak at 7 pm Wednesday, Nov. 5, at BRING’s Planet Improvement Center, 4446 Franklin Blvd. in Glenwood. Lang’s free “campfire format” talk is sponsored by the Southwest Oregon Chapter of Northwest Ecobuilding Guild.
• A free lecture by Allan Jacobs, author of Great Streets and The Boulevard Book, will be at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the UO’s Baker Center, 975 High St. downtown. Jacobs will discuss the role streets and boulevards play in the development of livable cities.
He was the planning director for the city of San Francisco and a professor and chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the UC-Berkeley.
• WOPR stoppers unite from 6:30 to 7:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Eugene Public Library for a slideshow of forests on public lands that are endangered by the increased logging called for by the Bush administration’s Western Oregon Plan Revisions. Showcased will be Wolf Creek, McGowan Creek, Crabtree Lake, Alsea Falls and other slated-to-be-logged BLM lands. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
• The effects of climate change on watersheds will be a major focus of the 2008 Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Conference Nov. 5-7 in Eugene. Keynote speakers include Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Registration is now open for the event, which also will feature concentrated workshop series on invasive species, organization management, community engagement and restoration project management. For more information, call (503) 986-0178 or visit www.oregon.gov/OWEB
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,188 U.S. troops killed* (4,186)
• 30,757 U.S. troops injured* (30,723)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 96,766 to 1.1 million civilians killed*** (96,466)
• $566.1 billion cost of war ($564.2 billion)
• $161.0 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($160.4 million)
* through Oct. 27, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.1 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
VOTING WITH KIDS IN MIND
Oregon’s Stand for Children has analyzed the November ballot measures in terms of what’s best for Oregon’s children. The nonprofit grassroots group is a “citizen voice for children” and advocates progressive education reform and support.
Oregon Ballot Measure 56 gets a “yes” from SFC since it “restores fairness to local elections.” The measure eliminates the “double majority” requirement for some money measures. “Local decisions like school funding should be made by voters, not by no-shows,” says SFC.
Measure 57 is endorsed by SFC as “the better way to fight crime.” The measure referred by the Legislature imposes tougher sentences for drug-related crimes and requires drug treatment for those convicted.
Eugene’s Measure 20-137 gets a nod from the group. The Eugene local option levy would renew the current, expiring levy, providing 10 percent of District 4J’s funding, in effect funding 160 teaching positions.
Getting a thumbs-down from SFC are Measure 58, which limits teaching public school students in any language other than English; Measure 59, which creates an unlimited deduction for federal income taxes on Oregon tax returns (“cuts billions from state revenues”); Measure 60, which bases teacher pay on undefined “classroom performance”; Measure 61, which would impose tough, mandatory sentences for nonviolent crimes; and Measure 62, which would dedicate lottery funds to crime fighting, taking about $159 million from schools.
The voter guide can be found at www.stand.org
GET DIRTY FOR OREGON’S ANNIVERSARY
From nudists cleaning up their favorite beaches to neighbors removing graffiti tags, Oregonians love their state and want to make it better. That’s the idea behind Take Care of Oregon Days, a statewide community and environmental cleanup event in honor of Oregon’s upcoming 150th anniversary.
The event is being coordinated by the nonprofit organization SOLV along with Oregon 150 and several other organizations. SOLV, based in Hillsboro, brings together government agencies, businesses and individual volunteers to carry out cleanup and enhancement projects across Oregon.
Take Care of Oregon Days will take place during May 2009, but if you or the group you work with want to help clean things up in Eugene, the time to get involved is now. SOLV will be offering volunteer action training workshops throughout the state this fall that teach people how to plan and implement successful community projects. And volunteers can now submit project applications for Take Care of Oregon Days through the SOLV website.
According to Erin Peters, SOLV associate director, Take Care of Oregon Days will give volunteers the opportunity to take part in a community or environmental improvement project of their choice — including removing invasive English ivy from a native forests, building a bat house or painting a mural in downtown Eugene. Volunteers can propose, plan and implement their own projects, or they can sign up to participate in an existing project. People can participate as individuals, as part of an informal group of neighbors or friends, or as part of a formal group such as 4-H.
“Oregon is a wonderful place,” said Peters. Take Care of Oregon Days “gives anyone who wants it the opportunity to give back,” she said. “You can do it with neighbors, friends or co-workers, or with other Oregonians who you don’t know, who you may not agree with politically or economically. We can all come together and give back something special.”
To submit an application for a Take Care of Oregon Days project or to sign up for a volunteer action training workshop, visit www.solv.org — Jessica Hirst
• Haven’t voted yet? It’s almost too late to mail your ballot, but finding an official white ballot box downtown or on campus is fairly easy. Check your ballot instructions. Tuesday at 8 pm is when the boxes will be emptied for the last time and the counting will begin.
We still hear a few people say, “My vote doesn’t count. Why bother?” but not so often this time. We have some remarkably clear choices in this election about which direction we want to go as a nation, as a state, as a county and as a city. And our votes do count, particularly on local candidates and issues that are sure to be squeaky close. See our “Endorsements at a Glance” in this issue, and for more information, go online to read our full endorsements in our Oct. 16 issue.
• Lots of voter guides are arriving in our mailboxes these days, and some are downright despicable, such as the “Citizen Review & Recommendations” from Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy. For example, the guide says the projected price tag is “minimal” for Kevin Mannix’s Measure 61, which boosts mandatory prison sentences without providing any funding. Since when is $1 billion-plus for new prisons “minimal”? A much better guide is produced by Basic Rights Oregon. The guide has a progressive bias, but at least BRO doesn’t attempt to sway voters with deception.
• EW’s Best of Eugene Awards Show drew a good-sized crowd to the McDonald Theater Friday night, and we’re waiting to see how much money was raised for White Bird Clinic. Pandemonium reigned at times and some of the most memorable moments were totally unscripted. Those who stayed home missed great music, and seeing Kitty Piercy spanked by a dominatrix, Sarah Palin doing an impression of Bonny Bettman, the entire cast of The Rocky Horror Show gyrating, a gang of Roller Derby girls roving around as zombies, and Cookie Monster stepping in as gaffer. Thanks to all who showed up for Eugene’s twisted answer to the Oscars night and The Gong Show.
• The closing of Zenon Café this week reminds us once again that we are not immune to the downturn in the nation’s economy. However, we can do something about it. During this season of heavy cash flow we can deliberately increase our spending at locally owned stores or small regional chain stores. EW has about 90,000 readers. If every reader diverted $100 a month from big national box stores to local stores and services, we would pump an additional $9 million a month into our local economy. Keep it up year-round, and it would generate more than $100 million in sales.
Buy new and used books through an independent book store. Eat at locally owned restaurants. Give massage gift certificates instead of Target gift certificates. Patronize local music stores instead of buying music online. Buy local art. Find unique gift items at independent grocers, clothing stores or Holiday Market instead of at the mall. Call an independent mechanic when your car breaks down. Drink local beer.
We all win when profits recirculate in our community: Local employment is stabilized; local businesses thrive; we get better quality goods and services; and we take control of our economic future in a way that Wall Street and Congress cannot and will never do.
• We’ve ignored Rick Dancer for the most part since we don’t consider him at all qualified to be Oregon’s secretary of state, and we figure his run against Kate Brown is just to build name recognition for some later race. But he is getting a lot of media attention, and most of it focuses on him being a competent and impartial TV news anchor and reporter. We’ve observed him over the years and found him to be a pleasant and well-spoken broadcast personality but conservatively biased and superficial in his reporting. And his campaign announcement on the air, while he was still working for KEZI, showed poor judgment. Journalism can be a stepping stone to a career in politics, but Dancer needs to build a more substantive foundation — a few years on a budget committee, some time on the Planning Commission or City Council, work as an aide to a lawmaker, a run for the state Legislature. Then we might take him and his ideas seriously.
• As we go to press, the Rob Handy campaign for County Commission is complaining that The Register-Guard is refusing to run an ad critical of Bobby Green, whom the R-G endorsed.
“I come from a middle-class background, but I’ve always been drawn to human experience other than my own,” says Helen Park, founder of Eugene’s Wellsprings Friends School in 1994 and currently a GED teacher at LCC. Park is Oregon chair of the Alternatives to Violence Project, started in 1975 by a group of inmates at Green Haven Prison in New York, in collaboration with the Quaker Project on Community Conflict. The AVP offers workshops in prisons, in communities around the U.S., and in countries around the world that have experienced violent conflict. “Everyone has within them the capability to change a violent situation into a non-violent one,” says Park, a member of the Eugene Friends Meeting for 33 years and an AVP facilitator. “We see it happen in prison. We’ve trained hundreds of inmates at the Sheridan Federal Correctional Institution.” AVP Oregon will present a basic-level workshop, titled Making Peace Here and Now, in Eugene on the weekend of December 5-7, an advanced workshop on MLK weekend in January, and a training for trainers on Presidents’ Day weekend in February. Contact Ethen Perkins at 345-3944 for details, and learn more about AVP at avpusa.org.