News Briefs: Who’s Running the University? | Civil Rights in the Age of Obama | Tree-Sit Set as WOPR Stopper | ODOT Responds to Sign Issue | On the Web This Week | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Early Deadlines |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Daphne Gabrieli
WHO’S RUNNING THE UNIVERSITY?
In 2002, UO professor Franklin Stahl sponsored a resolution in the Faculty Senate opposing military action in Iraq. To Stahl’s surprise, the motion failed, but not because faculty members supported a war. The vote failed because UO President Dave Frohnmayer not only opposed the vote (sending a letter to faculty senators expressing his opposition), but he said that such a vote could not be taken by the Faculty Senate, the body that has governed the UO since 1996. It had to be done, he said, by a majority of the Faculty Assembly, which at that time would have meant convening almost 3,000 members.
Six years later, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers’ office has issued a ruling that not only says that Frohnmayer was wrong, it calls into question just exactly who is running the UO.
For Stahl, the initial issue was the war. He wanted the faculty to take a stand on the war in Iraq before it happened and “inspire other universities,” he says. His motion pointed out that war not only transfers “society’s resources away from civilian needs,” but it erects “barriers to the unfettered pursuit of knowledge and cross-cultural understanding.”
But after Frohnmayer put off the Senate vote by issuing the opinion that a majority of the Faculty Assembly was needed to pass the motion, Stahl says his interest was piqued. “Just what legal basis did he use to make this decision?” he asked.
As it turns out, according the AG’s office, Frohnmayer, a former AG himself, was a little off base in his legal basis. Stahl intended to find out whether Frohnmayer could institute a need for a majority vote of the Assembly; but what he found out was that neither the Assembly nor the Senate has been legally governing the UO.
Oregon state law (352.010) says, “The president and professors constitute the faculty of each of the state institutions of higher education and as such have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein.”
Until 1996, the University Assembly was the means through which the faculty met and governed. After the UO began scheduling classes during the Assembly’s Wednesday afternoon meeting time, faculty attendance began to drop off, making the governance difficult.
So in 1995, the University Assembly voted to alter the institution’s governance and made a smaller group of people, the University Senate, the governing body of the university.
The problem is by that time (and still today) the Assembly was no longer solely the university faculty and the president, per Oregon law. Over the years, due to union negotiations and efforts to give students a voice in the UO’s governance, officers of administration, librarians and students have also become voting members of the Assembly.
According the AG’s Nov. 7 decision, not only was Frohnmayer wrong — the Iraq vote could have taken place with “less than fifty percent of the total membership” — the opinion also says that the Assembly no longer fulfills the mandate of governance of the university because it is no longer made up solely of the faculty and president, as stipulated in state law. In fact, according to the AG’s document, “the faculty has not met for thirty years.”
So how does the UO get its governance back on track? It would seem that the institution will need to call a meeting of all the professors and the president and ratify the Faculty Senate as the ruling body or designate the Assembly the ruling body and set a quorum for votes. On November 12, the Senate passed Stahl’s motion to convene a meeting of the faculty to legitimize the Senate before Jan. 28, 2009.
“It may also be desirable,” according to the AG’s decision, to ratify the decisions the Assembly has made in the years since it stopped legally fulfilling Oregon state law’s requirements for ruling the university, since none of those decisions may be legally binding. This includes ratifying Frohnmayer as president of the UO. — Camilla Mortensen
CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE AGE OF OBAMA
|MarDee Hansen Photo: Grant Cogsdale|
As the results of the recent presidential election rolled in, underneath the joy and schadenfreude was a sense that an enormous change had taken place, the wide effects of which would be known only in the following months, or years. Three days after the election, Amy Balliette, a 26-year-old Seattle woman unaffiliated with any organization, disappointed by the passage of California’s anti-gay marriage Prop. 8 (and anti-gay initiatives in Florida, Arizona and Arkansas), used her web publicity experience to create jointheimpact.com and within a day heard from 50,000 people, which sparked a Facebook page, “1 Million Strong Against Prop 8.”
Cut to 47-year-old Eugene quiltmaker MarDee Hansen standing on the steps of Eugene City Hall Saturday, Nov. 15, bearing a sign reading, “I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT — EQUAL RIGHTS NOW.” The 400 people who joined her Saturday morning were part of a protest at 300 cities in 50 states and 10 foreign countries. Her 13-year-old son, Sam Hansen, stood by as his other mom, Julie Weismann, 48, the developer of QueerEugene.com, spoke to the crowd through a bullhorn about this loosely organized movement and its goals: Overturn the Defense of Marriage Act at the federal level, end the military’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy and act against anti-marriage initiatives at the state level.
Alan Brown, 40, a veteran of gay rights efforts for 20 years, said that Eugene City Council members were invited. Mayor Kitty Piercy showed up. “That was a great demonstration,” Piercy said later. “People stretching across the bridge between the city and the county, creating a vision of the kind of bridge we need to build across this nation to ensure equality for everyone. Progress is steadily being made, and we will continue to work together until we achieve this goal.”
The crowd looked like, well, the crowd at an Obama rally: families, smart adults and college types, a smattering of teens and a few fringe elements. Dissenters from the Latter Day Saints (which funded Prop. 8) were there, along with a sign reminding people of the rights of hermaphrodites — “one in every 2,000 children.”
When the rally moved over to the courthouse, 28-year-old Vanessa Mousavizadeh, a UO graduate student in political science, stood quietly facing Saturday Market with her sign. “Prop 8 Propagates Hate,” saying she is just “trying to catch as many people as possible as they go by.”
Weissmann reminded the crowd of the Internet-based plans of daywithoutagay.org (“Call in Gay”), which is encouraging queer folks and their friends to do community outreach in place of economic activity of any kind on Dec. 10, and the larger strategy of “10 months, 10 people, 10 conversations” for LGBT Americans to explain themselves, their lives, and their rights to the people they know.
Brown says the immediate goal in Lane County is to contact 150,000 people to work for gay and lesbian marriage rights. — Grant Cogsdale
TREE-SIT SET AS WOPR STOPPER
The housing market is slumping, and the demand for timber to build new homes is decreasing, but the Bureau of Land Management under the Bush administration continues to move forward with the Western Oregon Plan Revisions. The WOPR threatens to drastically increase logging on Oregon’s public lands. Local conservation and activists groups also continue to move forward with their own plans for putting a stop to the WOPR, including a recent tree-sit at the state Capitol in Salem.
|State Capitol tree-sit|
Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, a UO student and member of Cascadia Rising Tide, climbed a western white pine in the state park near the Capitol to call attention to WOPR, which opponents says will log old growth, reduce habitat for endangered species, reduce buffers around fish-bearing streams and increase logging, rather than use trees to store carbon.
Rather than pepper-spray her out of the tree, as happened to protesters during an urban tree-sit in Eugene in 1997, the state police in Salem monitored the sit but did not interfere. Zimmer-Stucky descended the tree Nov. 14 during an anti-WOPR rally on the Capitol steps, according to Samantha Chirillo of Cascadia Rising Tide (CRT).
Chirillo estimates there were about 300 people at the rally. “It was a large turnout, people from all over western Oregon,” she says. During the four days Zimmer-Stucky was in the tree, Chirillo and others did outreach about the tree-sit and the WOPR. Some of the people they spoke to were loggers and members of the timber industry she says, and the conversations were “respectful and good.”
Zimmer-Stucky was issued a citation when she descended the tree, Chirillo says — a ticket for overnight camping without a permit.
The tree was unharmed during the sit, but according to Chirillo, the state police did not let CRT take down the sit. “They insisted on taking the sit down using a fire truck ladder and, in the process, broke a limb off the tree.” Aside from that, Chirillo says interactions with the park manager, police and media “were all positive.”
According to Chirillo and Zimmer-Stucky, the purpose of the sit was to call the public’s and Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s attention to their objections to the WOPR. Kulongoski’s review period of the WOPR ends Dec. 8. Chirilllo says “Obama can suspend the WOPR even after the BLM’s decision and will be more likely to do so upon the governor’s rejection of the WOPR.”
Chirillo and CRT are urging people to call the governor at (503) 378-4582 and urge him to stop the WOPR. — Camilla Mortensen
ODOT RESPONDS TO SIGN ISSUE
In last week’s News Briefs, Eugene architect Otto Poticia was quoted saying the big signs installed on the new cable-stayed bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5 near Gateway indicate that “ODOT has absolutely no taste.” Poticia went on to say the bike bridge “has been vandalized and ruined by its maker.”
After EW went to press last week, the state highway agency responded to Poticia’s comments. Joe Hardwood, ODOT’s public information officer, said federal guidelines require ODOT to install overhead signs for exit-only lanes on freeways. “The new bridge is located right where we needed to install an overhead sign for the flyover on-ramps,” he said.
Harwood said moving the signs to the north of the bridge “was an option, but not a practical one because the bridge would have blocked drivers’ ability to see the signs.”
The choice, he said, was “to put the signs on the bridge or build a sign structure immediately south of the bridge. Building an overhead sign structure south of the bridge would obscure the view of the bridge and create even more of a visual/ aesthetic distraction than placing the signs on the bridge.”
Harwood said the agency early on considered moving the bike bridge farther to the south, “but that would have had a much larger impact on the Gateway Mall and required the relocation of large utility tower, so that option was discarded.”
Poticia met with ODOT officials and toured the site after they learned of his complaint from EW, and the story ended up on the front page of the R-G Nov. 14. Poticia’s still unhappy with the outcome and the state’s decision-making process, and said he worries about the appearance of the “beer-bottle screen” that is still to be installed on graceful bike bridge designed by former City Councilor Gary Rayor.
“ODOT runs on rules,” he said, “most they make themselves.” — TJT
ON THE WEB THIS WEEK
• At blogs.eugeneweekly.com: After another bike accident in downtown Eugene, Chuck reminds readers to wear their helmets; notes that in the twilight of the Bush Years oil and gas companies are quickly buying up the rights to drill on the perimeters of our national parks; wonders why Eugene no-shows to awesome up-and-coming musical acts like the Crystal Stilts. Camilla asks, rather provocatively, “Does PETA kill puppies?” and pokes a little fun at the R-G’s headlnes. Ted quotes Mark Brenner on his alternative to a proposed U.S. automaker bailout that would institute a single-payer health care system. Readers continue to weigh in on Chuck’s Mount Eerie blog post and subsequent mea culpa.
• Episode 15 of the Signal:Noise music podcast features songs commemorating the victory of Barack Obama. See www.eugeneweekly.com/signalnoise
• Meetings in support of Barack Obama’s agenda for change are beginning nationwide and in Lane County, and a “Fired Up and Ready to Go” gathering is planned for 6:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Woodworkers’ Union Hall at 1116 S. A St. in Springfield. The event is planned by MoveOn members.
• Two indigenous authors of the syndicated Column of the Americas, Patrisia Gonzales, Ph.D., and Roberto Rodriguez, Ph.D., will speak at two LCC events open and free to the public. The authors will talk about their column at 10 am Friday, Nov. 21, at Building 17 (Forum), room 308. At 2 pm in room 309, Gonzales will speak on “Relocating Curanderismo in Indigenous Knowledge Systems,” and Rodriguez will speak on “Centeotzintli: Sacred Maiz — A 7,000-year Ceremonial Discourse.” For more info contact Michael Sámano, firstname.lastname@example.org
• A CAHOOTS benefit and Blanket Drive to Help the Homeless will begin at 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Wandering Goat Café, 268 Madison St. Admission is $5 or a blanket. Local bands Wetsock and Pistol Whipped Prophets will perform, along with Portland’s Shock Troops.
• Get pierced for pups! From 11 am to 3 pm Friday through Sunday, Nov. 21-23, High Priestess will be piercing people as a benefit for Save the Pets and their efforts to open an animal adoption center. All piercings will be $10, and proceeds will benefit homeless animals. Show up, get pierced and pick up some info on Save the Pets and Lane County’s adoptable animals. Go to www.stpevents.info or call Lori Smith at 686-2467 for more information.
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Deadline for comments on the Gypsy Moth Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement has been extended to Dec. 18. Comment on the proposed increase in insecticide (chemical and biological pesticide) spraying to control gypsy moths in the U.S. including Oregon, at http://www.na.fs.fed.us/wv/eis/
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
EW will publish a day early (Wednesday) on Thanksgiving week, so the early deadline for reserving space for display ads is 5 pm Thursday, Nov. 20. The paper will also publish a day early the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Questions? Call 484-0519.
• It’s no secret that some city employees and elected officials are resisting independent oversight of our police department. They may say they support our police auditor, but they do everything they can by tweaking or ignoring the devilish details that diminish her effectiveness. It’s disturbing to see Councilors Ortiz and Zelenka and Mayor Piercy now playing along with this devious game, particularly since Eugene voters Nov. 4 overwhelming supported strengthening the auditor function.
Councilor Bettman has proposed a dozen common-sense code rules to deal with the obstacles that interfere with the daily functioning of our police auditor. They include provisions such as “The police auditor shall have complete, unrestricted and direct access to the necessary EPD offices,” and “The auditor shall have exclusive authority to classify and route complaints.”
We haven’t heard of a single legal or ethical problem with these 12 new rules, and a public hearing on them was already scheduled. But this week the City Council voted to form a committee that includes the police chief and members of the police union and Police Commission to craft these rules over four months and bring back their recommendations. This bogus, cop-heavy committee will delight in trying to sabotage the auditor’s already very limited role in police oversight. Inviting police to help write the rules violates the intent of independent oversight. And who among the auditor supporters wants to sit across the table from five cop backers to argue about access rules for four months?
Kudos to Councilors Bettman and Taylor for standing up for the will of the voters. Want to weigh in? Monday, Nov. 24, is the next time for public comment to the council. Sign in to speak before 7:30 pm.
• Federal, state and local governments are all talking about stimulating the economy with billions in transportation spending. With Congressman Peter DeFazio chairing a key House committee, a lot of the spending could come here. The challenge will be to make sure that this transportation spending does not just pay lip service to green transportation. Construction corporations and union workers and their lobbyists may love big new highway projects; but this nation and this community will not be served by yet more big ugly freeways. Rather than stimulating the economy, such projects do more to stimulate pollution, global warming, dependence on Middle East oil, urban sprawl, natural area destruction and unlivability. Many or more jobs and stimulus can be had through transit projects such as high speed rail, trolleys and bike and pedestrian projects. The lasting extra benefit will be a huge boost in transportation efficiency beyond polluting, expensive gas guzzling freeways. Green projects will give the region and the nation a competitive boost in the world economy.
We should watch carefully that state and federal Democrats don’t try to slip freeway capacity projects through in the guise of “safety” or reducing pollution through less idling in traffic jams. These justifications are mostly bogus. Freeways are far more dangerous than mass transit, and freeways induce sprawl that just creates more polluting traffic jams. The vast bulk of the transportation stimulus should go to green transportation.
• On a more upbeat note, EW’s fun and funky Best of Eugene Awards Show Oct. 24 was a benefit for White Bird Clinic, and when the final accounting was done, EW wrote a check to White Bird for $3,179. This agency provides numerous direct services to the most down-and-out in our community. Another memorable benefit event and coat drive is happening this weekend for CAHOOTS, a White Bird program. See Activist Alert.
After high school in Coral Springs, Fla., Daphne Gabrieli studied ancient religions at New College in Sarasota, then moved to California and spent several years as a substitute teacher and environmental activist, living in a trailer in the woods outside Santa Cruz. She came to Eugene in 1997, earned an interdisciplinary MA in folklore in 2001, and was hired the same year as a writing composition instructor at LCC. This winter term, Gabrieli will teach two sections of “Writing for Scholarships,” a course she helped develop in 2003 as part of a “learning community” called “Show Me the Money.” Students in the learning community also enroll in a companion course called “Scholarships: Money for College,” that helps them with the logistics of finding scholarships and getting applications in by the March 1 deadline. “I went to school on scholarships,” says Gabrieli. “Now that college is so expensive, it’s increasingly important to help students find funding. In one of our classes, 60 percent got scholarships.” All available spots for the upcoming winter term are taken. Students hoping to join “Show Me the Money” in winter term 2010 should sign up on the first day of advance registration in September 2009.