News Briefs: Alleged ELF Arsonist Jailed in China | Medical Pot Café Planned in Eugene | State Suffers While Coaches Cash In Big | Pestering The Supreme Court | Make Jobs Not War | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Rebuilt to Run
Broken body can’t stop Orin Schumacher
ALLEGED ELF ARSONIST JAILED IN CHINA
Almost three years after most of the Earth Liberation Front eco-arsonists were sentenced in Eugene for their involvement in a variety of environmentally motivated fires across the Northwest, one of the missing alleged arsonists has been sentenced to three years in prison in China for drug-related charges.
Justin Franchi Solondz was indicted in 2006 along with 17 other people, but he was out of the country at the time. The FBI has deemed him a “domestic terrorist” for his roles in an attempted release of wild horses from a BLM corral and the combined arson of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture and the destruction of several buildings at a poplar farm. No one was hurt in either fire.
Solondz, along with Josephine Overaker, Joseph Dibee and Rebecca Rubin, has been on the FBI’s “featured fugitives” list for several years. Dibee made headlines back in August when it was revealed that despite being on the FBI’s wanted list, he was able to both renew his FAA pilot’s license and attempt to sell his airplane on the Internet.
Solondz has apparently been living in Dali, China, with an “altered appearance” according to Associated Press reports, and was arrested in March on drug charges. Chinese authorities reportedly found 33 pounds of marijuana leaves buried in the courtyard of a home he rented. The leaves had been treated with chemicals and were unusable. The arrest has been rumored for several months, but this is the first confirmation of Solondz’s arrest and conviction.
The U.S. has no extradition treaty with China, but American authorities have expressed interest in prosecuting him in the U.S. for the arsons once he completes his sentence in China.
According to a New York Times article, Solondz’s father, Paul Solondz said, “Compared to those horrible people who want to kill as many people as possible in the name of religion, the avowed mission of this organization is to not harm any people or animals. This should not even be called terrorism.”— Camilla Mortensen
MEDICAL POT CAFÉ PLANNED IN EUGENE
Willamette Valley NORML is hoping to open a Cannabis Café in Eugene in the next few weeks, according to local medical marijuana activist Jim Grieg. He says the café will be similar to one in Portland.
Details are still unavailable, and the group is meeting with an attorney to work out potential problems, Grieg says.
In more cannabis news, Voter Power, the statewide organization that got the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act on the ballot in 1998, now has an office at 687 River Ave. in Eugene, phone 844-1220 or 636-4472, and is hosting cannabis clinics on Wednesdays and Patient Resource Days every other Thursday. The office plans on being open daily beginning in January but needs volunteers.
Voter Power is the driving force behind Initiative 28, which would allow a nonprofit-operated, state-regulated, medical cannabis dispensaries in Oregon. “We are gathering signatures for the 2010 election and just passed the halfway point to get on the ballot,” Grieg says.
While pro-marijuana activists are working to make medical marijuana more easily available, a group of concerned law enforcement officials, legislators and citizens are working to repeal the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act with Initiative 32. The legislation would replace the OMMA with a subsidized synthetic cannabinoids prescription program and establish stringent requirements for participation.
The group is called Protect Our Society, and its website is www.protectoursociety.org POS claims voters were duped into approving the OMMA, which POS says has become “a front for legalizing marijuana … Currently there are 20,301 Oregon medical marijuana card holders — 88 percent of the card holders are using marijuana as a common pain reliever, less than 3.8 percent are cancer patients.”
POS claims pot smoking has increased since the OMMA passed 10 years ago, and says, “Study after study has proven that along with alcohol, marijuana is a gateway drug used by our younger population.” — Ted Taylor
STATE SUFFERS WHILE COACHES CASH IN BIG
Oregon is furloughing workers, closing DMV offices and letting prisoners out of jail. The state also has the second highest pupil-to-teacher ratio in the nation, but don’t worry, the state’s football coaches are still getting huge salaries.
UO coach Chip Kelly may take up to $4.3 million this year in pay and maximum bonuses, according to a national survey of coach salaries last month by USA Today. OSU coach Mike Riley may take home up to $2.3 million in compensation.
While Oregon has some of the lowest paid professors in the nation, the state boasts some of the highest paid assistant football coaches. The UO’s nine assistant coaches average $401,088 in pay with bonuses, according to USA Today’s online database. OSU trails with an average pay of $170,126. By comparison, the salary of Oregon’s governor is about $94,000.
Altogether, the state of Oregon could spend up to $12 million a year on its 20 top football coaches this year.
The UO has long claimed that its lavish athletics department is financially self sufficient, but that’s not true. The UO Athletics Department is receiving a $1.54 million dollar subsidy in 2008-09 from state coffers through a diversion of lottery revenue, according to the Oregon State System of Higher Education (OSSHE) budget. Other aspects of the self-sufficiency claim have never been independently audited. — Alan Pittman
PESTERING THE SUPREME COURT
A pesticide case that began in Oregon may make it to the Supreme Court, if pro-pesticide forces that dispute a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio ruling have their way. Earlier this year former Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) attorney Charlie Tebbutt, now in private practice, won a legal victory earlier over a policy that allowed the application of pesticides to waterways without a Clean Water Act permit; but the pesticide industry, including CropLife America and the American Farm Bureau Federation, would like to reverse that win.
In January, the Republican-dominated 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case then called National Cotton Council v. EPA and vacated a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that was put in place during the second Bush administration. The rule said pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) were exempt from the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act. For nearly 30 years before adoption of that rule in 2006, pesticide labels issued under FIFRA were required to contain a notice that the pesticide could not be discharged into lakes, streams, ponds or public waters unless in accordance with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
The EPA’s logic in making the rule change, under pressure from the pesticide industry, was that the application of pesticides does not constitute a “point source” of pollution the same way something like a wastewater discharge outlet does, and is thus is not subject to Clean Water Act regulations. The department’s logic says that pesticides are not pollutants as they are leaving the sprayer and being used; only their residues would be considered pollutants.
The rule preventing the use of pesticides on waterways without a permit is not currently in effect because the court issued a two-year stay postponing the ruling’s effective date. But when it goes into effect, nearly all commercial pesticide application to, over and around waterways will require NPDES permits, which allow for citizens to comment on the plan to apply pesticides and demand oversight by regulatory agencies. The agencies will have to evaluate the effects of individual pesticide applications on fish and wildlife, monitor the amount of pesticide that goes into U.S. waterways and monitor the cumulative impact on aquatic organisms.
Tebbutt, who is the lead attorney on the case and argued it before the appellate court, would most likely argue the case before the Supreme Court as well, if the case were chosen for review. However, Tebbutt says out of the 8,000 or so cases a year that file petitions for Writ of Certiorari (a review of a lower court’s decision), only about 100 or so cases actually get heard by the Supreme Court. “The odds are against it,” he says.
In its petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed in November, the pesticide industry argued that a pesticide isn’t waste at the point of discharge and centers its argument on the word “from,” writing: “One cannot spray ice ‘from’ a hose, even though water sprayed from a hose may later become ice. Nor can one squeeze butter ‘from’ a cow. Likewise, pesticide waste is not discharged ‘from’ application equipment during pesticide use, even if some portion of the pesticide may subsequently miss its target or leave residue in the environment.”
The petition also argues that the decision threatens essential activities that protect the nation’s public health and food supply. It argues the delay caused by the permitting process would “threaten the biosecurity of the United States.”
Tebbutt said, “What the Farm Bureau and CropLife have done is try to create a sky-is-falling mentality to try to get the Supreme Court to take this.” — Camilla Mortensen
MAKE JOBS, NOT WAR
Progressive Responses of CALC (Community Alliance of Lane County) coordinated a press conference outside Harris Hall Dec. 2 calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, to be replaced by a surge in job creation at home. The event was a response to President Obama’s Afghanistan speech Dec. 1 and included representatives of several local peace organizations and student groups.
In a prepared statement, the group said, “We participants believe that the U.S. faces a critical decision point: focusing on unemployment and regeneration of our economy, or escalating the Afghan war at a cost in trillions of dollars, greater loss of life, heightened anti-U.S. hostility in the Muslim world and exhaustion of our troops. The moment is reflected in a public mood of deepening economic anxiety, increasing opposition to the war, and a growing sense that the country is headed in the wrong direction.”
The coalition would prefer that the president focus on the economy. The statement called for “an appropriately large-scale economic regeneration effort, on the order of the New Deal’s WPA (Work Projects Administration), that the public sector must lead. That economy must be based in sustainability, so it requires policy committed to environmentally sound energy, a rebuilt transportation system, and a focus on a resilient, regionally relocalized economic base. Such a redirection promises to provide rich, widely distributed employment opportunities.”
The group called for federally supported state and local fiscal relief “to offset devastating program and employment cuts affecting such basic needs as our children’s education and support for highly vulnerable fellow citizens.”
The group said, “We can’t fix Afghanistan — we are seen by too many Afghans as foreign occupiers. We call for a halt to military action and a turn toward 1) internationally supported negotiations among Afghans about outstanding needs and arrangements for meeting them, and 2) multiparty regional diplomacy for the safety and stability of the region and its members.”
Speakers at the press conference asked community members to speak out to friends, neighbors and coworkers, and to “tell the Oregon congressional delegation to turn away from escalation in Afghanistan and towards negotiations and building the economic future we desperately need.”
• Mary Beth Tinker made history as a teenager by standing up for freedom of expression for young people, and she continues her campaign today (see story last week). She is coming to Eugene, hosted by the ACLU, and will speak at a 6 to 8 pm benefit reception Thursday, Dec. 3, at Café Maroc, 30 E. Broadway. Tickets are $50 for ACLU members and $60 for non-members. For information and tickets, visit www.aclu-or.org/ACLUHero or email email@example.com
• The LCC Native American Student Association invites the public to its free annual Powwow Saturday, Dec. 5, in the gymnasium of Building 5 on the main campus on 30th Avenue. Grand entries are at 1 pm and 7 pm with dinner served to participants from 5 to 7 pm. All drums and dancers welcome. Visit www.lanecc.edu/nasa/powwow/powwow.html or call 463-5238.
• WAND’s third annual fundraiser auction is at 6:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 5, at Cozmic Pizza, 199 W. 8th Ave. Admission is free.
• Eugene activists are busing and carpooling to Portland this weekend to join the “WTO Turnaround March” and rally. The Portland events, which follow Eugene events held before Thanksgiving, begin at noon Saturday, Dec. 5, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park under the Hawthorne Bridge. A march to the nearby World Trade Center, Federal Building and Wells Fargo Building for street theater starts at 1 pm. An indoor rally and concert at PSU begins at 2 pm. More information at www.december5.org or locally, email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Lane County will hold its annual holiday and awards dinner at 6 pm Tuesday, Dec. 8, at LCC. Featured speaker is Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, the Bill Uhlhorn Award will be presented to a leading nonprofit organization that assists those with mental illness when they are in need, and NAMI’s annual Volunteer of the Year Award will also be presented. Reservations are required. Call 343-7688.
• The Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY) will host a free showing of Consuming Kids: The Commer-cialization of Childhood. The film pushes back against a wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising questions about ethics of marketing to children and its impact on the health and well-being of kids. A conversation with a panel of local media experts will follow the film, 6:30 pm Wednesday, Dec. 9, on campus in the HEDCO Building, Room 220, 1575 Alder St. The panel includes Debra Merskin, Carl Bybee, Jenny Ulum and Beth Gerot. This event is part one of “What the Health?! A Film & Forum Series Exploring How Media, Place and Policy Impact Health.” Visit www.lchay.org or contact email@example.com for more information.
• Eugene Media Action is holding its free annual general meeting and the showing of two films at 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 10, upstairs at Growers Market, 454 Willamette St. The films are Independent Media in a Time of War featuring Amy Goodman and Let’s Put the Public Back into Public Broadcasting.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,339 U.S. troops killed* (4,366)
• 31,572 U.S. troops injured** (31,571)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 102,879 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (102,820)
• $703.3 billion cost of war ($700.7 billion)
• $200.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($199.6 million)
• 923 U.S. troops killed* (916)
• 4,565 U.S. troops injured** (4,529)
• $232.4 billion cost of war ($232.1 billion)
• $66.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($65.9 million)
* through Nov. 25, 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)
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
Extended deadline for comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on BLM lands in Oregon is now Jan. 4. Please endorse Alternative 1 (the no-herbicide option).
View documents at www.blm.gov/or/plans/vegtreatmentseis
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• In last week’s music section stories, the 8 pm Dec. 3 show with The Detonators at The District was called a 21+ show, but it’s actually an all-ages show and the bar will be open for the over-21 crowd with ID.
• In last week’s Happening People profile of Jeremy Hall, the correct name of his landscaping business with Bruce Kreitzberg is Back to the Roots. Kreitzberg ran the business for some years before taking on Hall as a partner. The website is www.backtotherootslandscaping.com
• It’s hard to see how a merger of the Eugene and Springfield fire departments could make sense in the long run. Will Eugene taxpayers have to subsidize new fire stations to serve Springfield’s plans for urban expansion? Who will hire and fire the fire chief? How will the departments be directly accountable and transparent to taxpayers? Who decides to close a neighborhood fire station? Who decides to cut the fire department budget? Who makes sure they aren’t wasting money? Will Springfield want more women, gay, transgender, Hispanic, etc. firefighters? Will Springfield want a tougher fire marshal to protect against toxic chemicals and shut down unsafe businesses? Will this merger really save money over the long run or just increase bureaucracy and executive pay? With the rushed merger discussion largely going on between city bureaucrats behind closed doors, there are more questions than answers. We, and presumably the taxpayers, are open to more answers.
• Black Friday has come and gone, and big retailers are nervous about sluggish sales. We chatted with some folks at Holiday Market Saturday who were feeling optimistic after two weekends of decent sales. In fact, the buy-local movement appears to be catching on. More and more folks are recognizing that spending $100 on locally made merchandise, art or services gives our local economy a much bigger boost than spending that same $100 on gadgets or clothing bought online or at a big box store. Let’s keep it up, all season long and all year long.
• Win or lose, football seems to be all about “war” in this peace-loving state. “Civil War” game. “War of the Roses.” We thought sports, even football, were supposed to be about fun. Cal and Stanford have the “Big Game.” UW and WSU just played the “Apple Cup.” Maybe we should persuade the sports media to call our OSU-UO rivalry the “Willamette Bowl” in a nod to the river that borders both campuses. We could pick up an extra chuckle listening to the national commentators try to pronounce it.
• We hear progress is being made on providing a place for free or low-cost veterinary services for people who find themselves homeless with pets to care for. Kudos to the Community Veterinary Services, St. Vincent de Paul, Pro-Bone-O and others who have raised money to build a permanent animal clinic next door to the Eugene Service Station, a day shelter for the homeless out on Highway 99. A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for 11:30 am Dec. 13.
• President Obama tells us this week that the best way to get out of Afghanistan is to get into Afghanistan even more. Despite Obama’s good intentions, our nation’s track record is poor when it comes to resolving complex political and social quagmires with military intervention. How do you bomb, strafe and torture an ideology into submission?
Meanwhile, the cost of our military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is approaching $938 billion, money that could have been spent so much more wisely or not spent at all. See our News Briefs this week for a local response to Obama’s speech and a call for spending our war bucks on something useful instead.
Amidst all the protesting around the country this week, we found a unique antidote to our nation’s proclivity for endless war: Tax it. Wisconsin Congressman David Obey says if we really need a 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan, Americans who make more than $150,000 a year should cough up a minimum 1 percent tax surge to pay for it. Obey is cosponsoring the Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010, which has little chance of passing in Congress. But he makes a strong point: Our military campaigns overseas are financed with deficit spending, pushing the sacrifice onto future generations. Except for those among us who have fought in or lost a friend or family member in Iraq or Afghanistan, today’s warfare remains abstract. A war tax would make war more real by linking policies with paychecks.
• The gun rights gang is at it again, or maybe they never stopped. The latest email tirades claim President Obama is determined to confiscate millions of Americans’ firearms without due process. The unfounded and idiotic allegations are all designed to feed on paranoia. Who benefits from fear? Follow the money. Gun and ammunition sales are soaring, and organizations such as the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms always end their righteous rants with pleas for donations. “Donate now,” they say. “Send $100 or more if you can. Remember, protecting our freedom is not inexpensive. But then, it’s impossible to put a price tag on freedom.” It is possible, however, to put a price tag on deception and obfuscation.