News Briefs: Eugene Has a Money Tree | CALC Group Condemns Neo-Nazi Talk | Costly Cops to Jail Homeless | Who Was the Man Behind the Camera? | Bird Counting Expanding This Year | Canvassing for Measures 66 & 67 | Activist Alert | War Dead
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Lane Kagay
EUGENE HAS A MONEY TREE
Money doesn’t exactly grow on trees in Eugene, but one decorated old curbside tree off West Broadway sometimes has dollar bills stuck to its branches by clothes pins. Homeless people and others in need come by at night and harvest the green paper fruit, and sometimes leave gifts of their own. Coins litter the sidewalk, and next to the tree are candles, messages and a “wishing well” of sorts.
Eugene business owner Joshua Keim and his friends have been pinning cash, about $500 so far, on the “Maitreya Buddha Giving Tree” outside his home on Almaden Street. Keim hopes his tree will “grow to cover the entire planet for all generations to come.”
Over the past four months the tree has become a place for the free exchange of not only money, but also books, jewelry and other small items of value. “Every town should have one,” he says.
The idea is to get people thinking differently about money and how to create a more equitable economy that is more dependable than our roller-coaster capitalism driven by speculators. “I want everybody to be a capitalist,” he says.
Keim owns Ring of Fire and Café Lucky Noodle restaurants and downtown real estate in Eugene. He is also founder of the Eugene-based http://1worldcurrency.net, a website that calls for the “Creation of a secure, ecologically sustainable, resource based, electronic, open source, transparent, interest free, money system/ medium of exchange created by the people, for the people, available to every human on the Earth.”
On his website on July 4 of this year, he declared independence for all people of the planet, saying our ideal new economy will be based on time, gold and food and “our faith in each other.”
Keim balances philosophy, religion and the day-to-day realities of operating multiple businesses. He says his enterprises were hit hard by the recession. His revenues dropped more than $1 million this past year, not because people didn’t want to eat in his restaurants, but rather because of our unstable economy, he says. Keim says he wants to help “create an economy where people can follow their passions and the money will follow.”
1worldcurrency.net sponsors events in Eugene that are held at the Maitreya Buddha Spiritual Center, 55 W. Broadway. — Ted Taylor
CALC GROUP CONDEMNS NEO-NAZI TALK
During a Dec. 15 meeting held at the Community Alliance of Lane County offices, the Eugene Anti-Hate Task Force (AHTF) strongly condemned the “Sieg Heil!” salutes and far-right agenda of aggressive confrontation espoused at a National Socialist Movement event sponsored by Pacifica Forum (PF) on Dec. 11 (see EW, 12/17).
By allowing a series of controversial and, according to the AHTF, “objectionable” PF events to be held on campus for several years now, the UO is under increasing pressure to clarify its position regarding the sanctioning of these gatherings. At issue is whether all free speech should be safeguarded by the UO without any restrictions whatsoever, or whether what has been called “hate speech designed to incite violence” violates the rights of students, staff or faculty who feel threatened by the UO condoning such activities on campus.
The UO has a standing policy by which any group requiring the presence of campus security be held responsible for the costs of that service. Other than that, any current or former university member who requests to use campus space can do so without constraint, within the law, and at no charge.
Orval Etter, the 94-year-old founder and chairman of Pacifica Forum, is an emeritus professor of planning, public policy and management at the UO. Under present guidelines, this gives him the right to hold meetings on campus on any subject, anytime.
Etter makes no apologies for any bias he holds. “If you rub a substantial number of Jews the wrong way, you’re anti-Semitic,” he reportedly told the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report in fall, 2008. “In that sense, I have to admit that the forum and I, in particular, are anti-Semitic.”
However, when contacted last week, Etter said he was as surprised as anyone else on Dec. 11 when NSM speaker Jimmy Marr called out his “Sieg Heil!” salutes. He had not been primed beforehand, he said. “At first, I was thinking, OK, how does this joke end?” Etter said. “I know Jimmy can joke around sometimes, and to tell the truth, I was left speechless at that moment.” Etter said he still hadn’t figured out what Marr’s purpose was in doing that, but he wasn’t very pleased and intended to speak to Marr further about it.
Michael Williams, a member of AHTF, said this week, “There’s never been any attempt to silence Pacifica Forum. We have, however, exercised our right to be appropriately critical of PF’s programming when it includes such efforts as bringing neo-Nazi white-supremacist ideologies into the community.”
The AHTF has been increasingly critical of the university allowing anti-Semitic, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant hate-mongering to be presented for free on campus without some efforts to mitigate the damage. “We don’t tell the university how to do its business,” Williams said, “but we have insisted that it has a responsibility to Eugene-Springfield, as well as to its student body, to ensure a safe campus free of harassment and racist threats.”
To this end, the UO has agreed to a meeting in January at the presidential level to discuss these concerns. In the meantime, university leaders are looking for solutions that establish accountability for the use of UO resources, honor academic inquiry, and simultaneously provide a secure, non-threatening environment for educating the diverse student body. — Joseph A. Lieberman
EDITOR’S NOTE: A letter on this topic from Charles Martinez, UO vice president for institutional equity and diversity, can be found here. The letter was sent to EW after this story was written.
COSTLY COPS TO JAIL HOMELESS
Eugene taxpayers spend $42 million a year on a police department staff of 327, but the city insists it doesn’t have enough money and officers to keep downtown safe.
City staff and conservatives are hyping downtown safety, or the lack of safety, to call for a big increase in police staffing. A “Downtown Safety Task Team” appointed by city executives prioritizes yet more cops and jail beds.
But cops are expensive in Eugene. Each officer on the street costs taxpayers almost a quarter-million dollars a year, according to the city budget. To support about 192 sworn police officers, the city spends overall about $46 million a year when jail beds, prosecutors and other costs are added to salaries, equipment, clerks, call takers, training, equipment and managers. That does not include the costs of city attorneys and lawsuits involving police.
About half the per-cop cost comes in the lucrative compensation city managers have given officers in their union contract. Eugene officers only need a high school degree to apply (most have at least a two-year degree), but the city estimates they cost about $120,000 a year each in salary, fringe benefits and associated costs. Overtime at up to about $50 an hour could add tens of thousands of dollars to that figure. The city also pays the salaries of police union leaders who spend up to 400 hours a year working on union business, according to the police contract.
Much of the downtown task team report appears to focus on more cops as a solution to the “unpleasant behavior” of the homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness. Only one member of the 15-member task force recommended a cheaper, more direct and humane solution — spending a few hundred dollars a month to find each homeless person an apartment. — Alan Pittman
WHO WAS THE MAN BEHIND THE CAMERA?
Day Owen of the Pitchfork Rebellion says that Homeland Security officers weren’t the only people following the anti-pesticide group on their trip to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices on Nov. 1, and they want to identify the man who trailed after them with a camera.
Owen says not only did a vehicle with DHS license plates follow the activists, but at the BLM offices a separate man followed them with a camera. Owen says, “Pitchfork Rebellion believes that we have the right to know the identity of anyone who follows us around with a camera. Whether American law grants us that right or not, we grant it to ourselves.”
Owen says when the man was asked if he was a police officer, he responded that he was “just a concerned citizen,” and said, “None of you broke any laws; you did just fine, so it doesn’t matter who I am.” Owen says they have this conversation on video.
Contrary to popular belief, there don’t appear to be any laws that require police officers to identify themselves when asked. Essentially, Supreme Court cases such as Frazier v. Cupp as well as other state and federal cases have ruled that law enforcement officers can use trickery and deceit within certain limits. The general guideline is that lying verbally is OK, but creating fake evidence is not.
The group is offering a $100 reward to the first person who can send them the name and occupation of the man in this video still. Owens says they’ll give the anonymous cameraman himself the money if he self-identifies. Contact the Pitchfork Rebellion at email@example.com — Camilla Mortensen
BIRD COUNTS EXPANDING THIS YEAR
For the first time in almost 25 years, Oakridge and Westfir will have a Christmas Bird Count Sunday, Dec. 27. This is a national Audubon event that in past counts has had some of the highest numbers of mountain quail in the state, as well as other birds that are only seen in that area.
The Eugene bird count is planned for Jan. 3. Corvallis was Dec. 22 and Albany was Dec. 20. Brownsville is Dec. 26. See the Oregon Birding Calendar at http://wkly.ws/21
Volunteers are coming to Oakridge and Westfir from as far as Bend and Corvallis, according to organizers. An evening owl count is also being planned. The team currently consists of Wanda Wilson, Lynda Kammerer, Cheron Ferland and Laurie Patty.
Bird counts are happening all over the state. The cost to participate is $5, which goes to defray Audubon’s final printing costs.
For more information, contact Wanda Wilson at 785-5715.
CANVASSING FOR MEASURES 66 & 67
January is just a page-flip away on our calendars, and ballots will be going in the mail Jan. 8 for statewide Ballot Measures 66 & 67. Lane County activists are planning rounds of door-to-door campaigning once the holidays are over.
The special election is significant for local schools, with $3 million at stake for Bethel schools and $8.5 million for Eugene School District 4J.
“We can’t afford to slow our efforts,” says Joy Marshall
, Lane County director of Stand for Children, one of the groups working on the election. “We know it is going to be a close race, and the opposition is strong. To pass Measures 66 & 67, we need to make sure our supporters know about the election and remember to turn in their ballots.”
Those wanting to get involved in phone banking and canvassing can contact Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Among the January election activities are canvassing that meets at 9:30 am Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Oregon Education Association, 2815 Coburg Road. Another canvassing will meet at 10 am Monday, Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), at Oregon Community Credit Union, 11th and Ferry in Eugene.
Phone banking in late afternoon and evening shifts is scheduled Jan. 5, 19 and 20 at OEA offices.
Defend Oregon is also organizing support for the measures in Lane County. The website is http://voteyesfororegon.org and the local contact is Keith McAleer at (715) 864-1045 or email@example.com — Ted Taylor
• The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) is planning a “Turn your white elephant green” party and celebration from 2 to 5 pm Sunday, Dec. 27, at DIVA, 110 W. Broadway in Eugene. The gift exchange begins at 2:30 pm. “Bring your wrapped re-gift, your green attitude, and your checkbook,” says Andy Maggi, field organizer for the OLCV Lane County Chapter. “Take home a treasure!” RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,373 U.S. troops killed* (4,370)
• 31,603 U.S. troops injured** (31,582)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 103,410 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (103,345)
• $709.9 billion cost of war ($707.9 billion)
• $201.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($201.3 million)
• 931 U.S. troops killed* (931)
• 4,683 U.S. troops injured** (4,640)
• $234.2 billion cost of war ($233.7 billion)
• $66.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($66.5 million)
* through Dec. 18, 2009; 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 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
• Two things are irritating about the recent neo-Nazi talk and “Sieg Heils” at the Pacifica Forum: 1) The forum is held in a taxpayer-funded meeting room and rebroadcast on taxpayer-supported Community Television, and 2) People in Lane County actually showed up and joined in the hate speech. But banning Pacifica Forum from campus or restricting its content would be counterproductive. It’s best to keep radical and even outrageous ideas out in the public where they can be challenged and debated openly. Teachable moments abound, and we need to be reminded that we don’t have to scratch very deeply through Eugene’s liberal veneer to find bigotry, hatred and violence.
Hate speech can incite violence, or at least make the targets of the attacks feel unsafe. The most effective response is for the community at large to stand up and loudly challenge hatred and injustice at every opportunity. Such action not only shows the bigots that they have no support; it also serves as an example for young people who are still forming their ideas and attitudes about people who are, on the surface, different from them. Young and old, we all learn by example.
• “At this festive season of the year, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute,” wrote Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. But a city of Eugene Downtown Safety Task Team says, “Bah humbug!” Only one member of the 15-member committee supported more housing and help for the homeless mentally ill and addicted who haunt downtown. “More jail space!” the mean-spirited committee appointed by city executives snarled instead. Just like Scrooge’s line about street people in his Dickensian downtown, “Are there no prisons?”
• ODOT is considering proposals for art to festoon its $200 million monument to global warming, the widened I-5 bridge. How about something similar to that popular under-freeway Freemont Troll in Seattle? The big cement troll clutching a VW bug snatched off the overpass is a popular tourist attraction and symbol of auto ambivalence. Eugene’s version could feature a giant osprey swooping down to snatch an SUV out of the stream of traffic. Or how about a really great great blue heron with an impaled Hummer in its beak?
• You might see one of the wonderful sights in the valley this time of year, if you’re lucky. Drive north of Eugene out Highway 99 along the Long Tom River drainage or around Fern Ridge Reservoir and look for a sculptured old oak tree with six or seven or more huge white birds perched in it. Those are great egrets, increasingly winter residents here. The egret-oak combination could be a holiday greeting card.
• Gotta slap R-G reporter Ed Russo on the wrist for writing Dec. 17 about “public drunkenness, panhandling, drug dealing, vandalism and other crime.” If begging for money were a crime, we’d have to jail every teenager, preacher and bell-ringing Santa.
• We’re wrestling with climate change on the local, national and international levels, but we’re not making much progress. One of the factors delaying real solutions is a new round of “manufactured doubt,” according to Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog at http://wkly.ws/10 Masters likens the anti-climate change campaign to previous PR campaigns to discredit research linking smoking to lung cancer, asbestos to lung disease, chlorofluorocarbons to holes in the ozone layer, and others. Eventually the science wins, but the purpose of manufactured doubt, he says, is to delay legislation or meaningful action for as long as possible, assuring continued profits for industry.
Regarding the stolen emails on global warming research, Masters concludes his blog post saying, “There is no sign of a conspiracy to alter data to fit a pre-conceived ideological view. Rather, I see dedicated scientists attempting to make the truth known in face of what is probably the world’s most pervasive and best-funded disinformation campaign against science in history.”
These tactics are also highly effective in election campaigns. Well-funded candidates these days hire cut-throat PR firms experienced in devious tactics.
What can we do about manufactured doubt? Not much, other than expose it when we see it. Corporations are by law required to act in the best interests of their shareholders and maximize profits; and since an ethical framework is missing on Wall Street and in much of the corporate world, we are beset with strategic disinformation, the ignoring of scientific evidence and other tactics that run contrary to the public interest. Masters’ WunderBlog has some discussion about possible legislative solutions.
• A little perspective on this upcoming Rose Bowl game, please. Not to be raining on the roses, but we have been reminded that Ohio State is college football royalty. The Buckeyes often play in the national title race and they last won it all in 2002. The Ducks generally are playing for second in the Pac-10. The Buckeyes boast six Heisman winners, including the only player to win it twice, Archie Griffin. The Ducks put Joey Harrington on a Manhattan billboard to try for a Heisman, but it didn’t work. Ohio State routinely fields all-Americans; 36 former Buckeyes made opening day rosters in the NFL this year. The Ducks put one guy on the all-Pac-10 conference team. Ohio State’s starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor was the most celebrated recruit in the country when he chose Ohio State. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli came out of community college largely unnoticed and was buried deep in Oregon’s depth chart until injuries landed him on the field last season. But for now the Ducks are favored. None of this stuff will matter when the game starts on Jan. 1 in Pasadena.
When he was in his 20s, Lane Kagay worked as a bike messenger in Chicago, his home town. In the mid-1990s, after he had moved to Mariposa, Calif., friends in LA invited him to bicycle down the coast for a visit. “It was October and I had no tent,” he says. “It was a life-changing event, nerve-wracking but liberating.” Afterwards, he devoted himself to cycling and again became a messenger, first in LA, later on in San Francisco. “Bike messengers get paid based on time or on the size and weight of the packages they deliver,” says Kagay, who designed and welded together a sturdy front rack that enabled him to carry an 80-pound load. Other messengers took note, and by 2005 he had built a website, quit the messenger job, and was making five or six racks a day. Sales have snowballed since he and his wife, Karen, moved to Eugene in April of 2007. He also formed a joint venture with welder Michael Gould to add to his product line a European-style cargo bike, capable of carrying a couple of kids or a keg of beer. “We sold the first one a year ago,” he says. “Orders are coming in.” View the CETMA line of cargo bikes and racks at cetmacargo.com. Check out Kagay’s new one-man bicycle delivery service at www.greencourier.us