Eugene Weekly : News : 2.12.09

News Briefs: Shoe Power Takes Toll on Track Trials | From Z to Beirut & Peru | Basic Rights 5-Year Plan | Local Produce Begins Early | Activist Alert | Local Band Rocks Memphis | Diversity, Then and Now | Winning and Losing the West |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Police Raid Reserves
Manager defies voters to seek new cop shop

Minimum Wage Hike
Bosses hate it, workers scrape by


The Olympic Trials for track and field events need less Nike, days and drugs, according to a blue ribbon task force of athletes, coaches and trainers formed after the U.S. team’s poor track performance at the Beijing Olympics was “roundly attacked.”

USA Track and Field “has allowed shoe companies and agents to take over management of the sport. It is long overdue for USATF to take it back,” stated the “Project 30” report released this week. 

Hanging out under the swoosh at the Olympic Trials

The report itself was commissioned after USATF’s director left for a job with Nike, a major sponsor of USATF, the Washington Post reported. 

The report noted the pervasive influence of “shoe companies” in Olympic track and field. 

For athletes, “shoe companies choose their coaches for them.” 

The corporations also determine who competes, according to the report. “Shoe companies determine who is professional based on to whom they give contracts.”

Nike and Adidas control athlete training, according to the report. The task force recommended that “USATF, rather than shoe companies, will be the driving force in helping athletes benefit from the best possible training conditions.”

The shoe corporations also discourage athletes from attending Olympic training camps through rigid requirements to wear their apparel while training. “By dropping this apparel requirement,” says the report, “more athletes will attend camp and therefore more athletes will be in a comfortable, controlled, lower-stress environment overseen by USATF.”

But reducing the influence of shoe corporations may be tough. For athletes, the “bottom-line issue for them is money,” the report states in talking about a cash bonus system. “Talk of glory alone and representing one’s country may not sway athletes and their agents into making choices that will help them set a personal best or medal at the Olympic Games. But money might.”

But while some athletes enjoy big shoe contracts, too many struggle without health insurance, according to the report. The task force recommends that for older athletes without medals, “by age 25 or 26, funding should be cut off so it may better be used to develop new and young talent.”

The Olympic Trials held in Eugene last year may have been more exciting than the Olympics, but that’s a big problem, according to the report. “Based on statistical analysis, it seems that too many athletes left it on the track at the Olympic Trials, from the vertical and horizontal jumps to the 800 and 100 meters.” 

The committee called for shortening the trials from 10 to five days to reduce athlete “exhaustion.” The city estimates the trials pumped $28 million into the local economy; shortening the next event could be a major hit. 

But while many in Eugene saw the trials as an exciting treat, “many” athletes “cited the boredom and financial cost of such a lengthy schedule,” the report said.

The report also recommended that USATF crack down on drugs. The taskforce recommended that athletes caught cheating should be required to give a “deposition under oath detailing what went into their decision to cheat, how they obtained and used their drugs, and who contributed to their cheating.” 

The task force said USATF needs a rehab program to teach athletes how to compete clean. “Like an ex-convict who only knows no life other than breaking the law, most athletes serving doping suspensions only know how to participate in the sport by cheating.” — Alan Pittman



Greek and Roman mythology sparked his imagination, and watching Lawrence of Arabia and Costa Gavras’ Z made him want to be a photographer. He wanted to photograph those in tough situations, he says, because he was influenced by singing “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me” as a kid.

Photographer Eli Reed. Photo: Jack Liu

Now Eli Reed, a successful photojournalist and author of Black America, deals with life head-on — that was his message to a group of students in a special UO class. 

The School of Journalism and Communication hosted Reed as part of its PageTurners series, in which groups of students study for weeks online before meeting with a highly regarded practitioner in the field. Reed has worked on the sets of Hollywood films, photographing stills for everything from Robert Altman’s Kansas City to many of John Singleton’s films, and he has produced his own documentaries as well. A long-term assignment in Lebanon during hostilities in the mid-1980s resulted in his book Beirut: City of Regrets

“Whatever you want to photograph, walk toward it,” he said at a reception dinner and presentation Feb. 6. Reed spoke over and over again about the need for photojournalists to have curiosity and to see the humanity in their subjects. 

“People carry a telephoto lens because it can get you closer,” he said in response to a student question about technology. “Well, your feet can get you closer, too.”

Currently a professor at the University of Texas, Reed told assorted high school, undergraduate and graduate students that they needed to read widely, “philosophy, religion, everything.” He worked on the book Black America for two decades and told the audience that persistence mattered. He said to the students that the most important thing for them to remember was not to run away from life. “Of course you’re going to fail most of the time,” he said. “But you just keep on trying.” — Suzi Steffen



Gay people can get married in Oregon, right? 

Yeah — only not to each other. Basic Rights Oregon would like to change that.

Sure, the 2007 Legislature passed a domestic partnership bill and a law outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but BRO says there’s a lot more to be done. Executive director Jeana Frazzini and regional director Rebecca Flynn will lead a town hall meeting Thursday, Feb. 12, about BRO’s new five-year plan.

During the past year, the group has been collecting surveys to find out what constituents want from BRO over the next few years. The new strategic plan has five components, including goals of getting queer people of color, transgender folks and LGBT youth into positions of leadership, and full marriage equality. “We just celebrated a year of the domestic partnership law,” Flynn says, but she adds that same-sex domestic partnerships in Oregon mean nothing in other states.

“Domestic partnership is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t deliver the things people need to care for one another in hard economic times and in crisis,” Flynn says. For instance, a domestically partnered couple that had a car accident in Idaho would discover they were “strangers under the law” in that state. And during a time when people getting laid off need to be on a partner’s health insurance, Flynn says, the Oregon law doesn’t provide that protection. 

The second half of the meeting concerns a coalition effort with Stand for Children, CAUSA, the YWCA of Portland and others to strengthen the state’s anti-bullying law. “One out of every 10 students who drops out of school, nationally, does it because of bullying,” Flynn says. The National Youth Prevention Center says that studies show effective anti-bullying programs can reduce the incidences by up to 50 percent. Bullying “radically, negatively, profoundly affects school experiences,” Flynn says. 

The BRO meeting begins at 6 pm Thursday, Feb. 12, at Spencer Butte Middle School. Basic Rights Oregon will provide pizza and other refreshments. For more information, email or call 503-222-6151. — Suzi Steffen



Some local Farmer’s Markets are opening this week

Lane County Farmers Market begins in earnest the first week of April, but some local farmers will be offering winter produce and meats on Saturday mornings in February and March.

Outdoor markets in tents can be found behind Mazzi’s on East Amazon from 10 am to 2 pm every Saturday. Beginning Feb. 14, the Lane County Farmers Market operates booths from 10 am to 2 pm at 8th and Oak in Eugene. 

Corvallis area farmers offer their produce and meats every other Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm beginning Feb. 14 at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Eugene vendors include Groundwork Organic, Grateful Harvest Farm, Cinco Estrellas, River Bend Farm, Sweetbriar Farm, Primrose Edibles and Wild Goose Nursery. Others are expected as winter fades.

For market information, contact Keith Cooper in Eugene at 683-7447 or Tony Gaetz in Corvallis at 295-0226. 



• A series of meetings on infill and density in Eugene is resuming beginning with a public workshop from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Feb. 12, at the Eugene Public Library. Other workshops will be at the same time Thursday, Feb. 26, at South Eugene High School, and March 3 and North Eugene High. For more information on ICS, visit

Stand for Children is organizing a rally at the state Capitol Monday, Feb. 16, and at least seven busloads of Eugeneans are planning to go. “This is a critical time for schools,” says Joy Marshall of SfC. “District 4J is facing a budget cut of 10 percent next year, which will mean pretty unimaginable damage, unless we get the Legislature to act. Of course, we are also terribly concerned about cuts to health care, community colleges, and other services.” The buses will be leaving South Eugene High School at 9:45 am. Sign up at

• The next forum in CALC’s People’s Agenda for a New America series is 7 pm Feb. 18, Harris Hall, 8th & Oak, and will feature Claire Syrett, ACLU of Oregon Field Organizer, speaking about Guantanamo and Torture: “An ACLU Activist’s Account of Bush’s War on the Constitution.”

• A public forum for the Police Auditor Ordinance Review Committee is planned for 5 to 7:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Eugene Public Library. Find the agenda and more information on the PAORC at including an link to email comments.



From left are Milo Fultz on bass, Ty Curtis on guitar, Hank Shreve on harmonica and keyboards, and Davis Brown on drums

The Ty Curtis Band took second place in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., last week, representing the Cascade Blues Society of Portland. About 2,000 bands from around the world competed in the contest with more than 100 finalists invited to perform at the Memphis competition.

Hank Shreve (son of EW sales director Bill Shreve) and Milo Fultz are from Eugene and Ty Curtis and Davis Brown are from Salem.

Also, Al Rivers from Eugene represented the Rainy Day Blues Society in the single/duo competition and played two sets at the Beale Street Tap Room.

The band made its debut at the Waterfront Blues Festival in 2007 and went on to play at DaVinci Days, the Eugene Celebration, Silverton Art Faire, Bones & Brews, KMHD’s Summer Bash and the Oregon State Fair. The band plays gigs at Mac’s, Lefty’s, Rogue Brewery, the Oregon Garden, Roadhouse 101 and Chinook Winds Casino. They have opened for Curtis Salgado and for Paul deLay and performed on air for KMHD radio in Portland.

The band’s CD, Stubborn Mind, has been getting air play on KRVM, KLCC, KBOO, KMHD and KINK. And their CD was recently selected to represent the Cascade Blues Association in the Blues Foundation’s “Best Self Produced CD” competition for 2008.

See for more information.



Connie Mesquita’s uncles in the army, 1944; Eliza Young at her home in Brownsville, c. 1900; Heara Simgh with his bike, c. 1909. Photos courtesy Lane Historical Society

Eugene used to have mule-powered streetcars in the early 20th century. True fact! And one of the streetcar conductors, back in that day, was an African-American man named Wiley Griffin. This info and a whole lot more springs to life in the Lane County Historical Society’s new exhibit, “The Changing Demographics of Lane County,” opening  on Valentine’s Day.

Oregon turns 150 this year, and that means a look at the history of the state. Over the years, Lane County has played host to Danish settlers, Chinese miners and railroad workers, Mexican vaqueros and of course the area’s original inhabitants, including the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. The Historical Society wants us to know about them all.

“People will be surprised,” says exibition coordinator Mary Dole, who adds that most people expect to see pioneer history and materials at the museum. She knows that when most people think “pioneer,” they’re not imagining African-American slaves who came to the Oregon Territory with white families or Jewish families who lived in Eugene, not to mention the many “pioneers” who came from the Pacific instead of across the continent. “The idea behind this exhibit is to highlight the people in Oregon who have been overlooked,” she says. Executive Director Bob Hart says that he was also interested in getting information out about how local folks were affected by things like the U.S. government’s termination of various Native tribes in the 1950s.

But the stories on the wall and in the cases don’t simply concern the past. Coordinators worked with a group of local Latino people, many of whose families have been here for generations and who come from a variety of different countries, so that the exhibit comes into the present as well. 

“Changing Demographics” offers free admission on Valentine’s Day, and the museum, in the Lane County Fairgrounds, charges a nominal fee thereafter. Go to or call 682-4242 for more info about the Sesquicentennial Speakers series and the exhibition, which runs through January 2010.  — Suzi Steffen



Local historian and author Doug Card will be speaking at 10 am Saturday, Feb. 14, as part of the local commemoration of OR 150, Oregon’s Sesquicentennial. Card will be speaking at the Lane County Museum-Historical Society Commemoration at the Fairgrounds. The talk will be followed at noon by the opening of the museum’s OR 150 exhibit on “Our Changing Demography. In the afternoon Card will be signing books at the adjacent Frontier Heritage Fair. 

“There is much to ponder and improve upon, as well as to cheer about as we review our past, present, and future,” says Card, who recently published a book, From Camas to Courthouse: Early Lane County History. “There are two opposite Oregon master narratives,” he says. “One the traditional ‘Winning of the West’ by the Americans, the other the ‘Losing of the West’ by those Native Americans who had lived in our valley some 10,000 years.”

“Besides the positive discussion of the creation of a Frontier Democracy, I’ll be emphasizing the lingering effects of our racial errors, both taking the lands of the Indians, and voting to bar entrance to ‘Free Negroes,’” says Card. “This will include a discussion of Wiley Griffon as a follow-up to the recent LTD celebration mainly focusing on Rosa Parks.”




Some good news in the local economy. Some businesses are doing well and even thriving. Below are some examples we have collected. Send what you know to 

We hear Cornucopia, The Bier Stein, and Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine are experiencing more business than the same time last year (see CHOW in our 1/29 issue for more restaurant news). The new WestTown on 8th housing complex next to the WOW Hall is giving a nice boost of foot traffic to Kiva and other businesses downtown. The folks at Clockmaker’s Gallery, 987 Garfield, tell us January revenues were better than last January, and their repair benches are still busy.

The performing arts look pretty good, too. The Lord Leebrick Theatre added a week to its recent run of Clean House, for instance. At the Hult Center on Saturday night, where the Eugene Opera and Ballet Fantastique each produced a show at 7:30, the lines for tickets overwhelmed the box office and the ticket pick-up machine. Even with the confusion and a late start time, the opera audience thrilled to the world-class principals in the semi-staged Il Trovatore. Eugene arts fans clearly want a high quality product, and they’re responding even during a tough recession. 

New businesses continue to sprout locally. Mira Fannin of Eugene is expanding to a retail storefront in the Whiteaker. Fannin’s grand opening party for Sweet Skins Eco Boutique is from 6 to 10 pm Saturday, Valentine’s Day, at 782 Blair St.    

Thanks to super board and staff work, the staff of Maude Kerns Art Center will receive a 5 percent pay raise this year, not exactly the pattern for arts organizations. Board president David Wade announced the raise at the January annual membership meeting. Other board members are Alison Voss, Coni Tarquini, and Esther Jacobson-Tepfer. Staffers are Karen Marie Pavelec, Sabrina Hershey, Kelly McCormick, Marsha Wells Shankman, Dena E. Brown, and Martha Snyder. 

Thousands of Eugene residents are sleeping in cars and under tarps while city staff are calling for spending $16 million on a new police headquarters that voters have trounced repeatedly. The message city staff is sending to the people is that staff knows what’s best, so just go along with it. The city manager’s proposal also overrides direction by the City Council and Budget Committee to retrofit rather than build. Who’s in charge here?

Good reasons exist for citizens to be skeptical of such a project. The $16 million price tag sounds too cheap to be true. Are we in danger of approving a relatively modest project and watching it grow to millions more with “surprise” cost overruns? The police originally went to voters asking for $36 million. Does the $16 million include plumbing and wiring?

The safety of police officers in an earthquake is a valid issue, but except during shift changes, most officers and squad cars are out in the community, not under concrete. And the current City Hall can be reinforced for seismic safety at about $3 million, assuring the safety of all who work and do business in City Hall. The issue of overcrowding assumes Eugene’s police force needs to grow — and we haven’t seen evidence to support that claim. Crime rates overall are dropping.

Meanwhile, our economy is in crisis, we have pressing needs for a city homeless shelter and other priorities, and our police department is still resisting oversight. When citizens voted down three bond measures for a new cop shop, they were in part expressing their irritation at years of police intimidation, abuse and obfuscation. 

SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com