News Briefs: Paul Prensky Remembered | Road Blocks in Vancouver | Why Didn’t the Wolf Cross the Road | Riverfront Skyscraper or Park | PIELC Talk: Greener Governments | Coal-Fired Facebook | Hit-and-Run Victim Rides Again | No Substitute for Hot Fires | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
City Defies Voters
Council moves tax diversion defeated in 2007
Visual art and theater groups spring up
PAUL PRENSKY REMEMBERED
Longtime local civil libertarian and pundit Paul Prensky was found dead in his Blair Boulevard apartment Sunday, March 6. He had been in deteriorating health for some time, and suffered from congestive heart failure. He appears to have died in his sleep Saturday night. He was 69.
He is remembered by his family as “a brilliant poet, activist, actor, playwright, newsletter publisher, events organizer, lover of humanity, true friend to his friends, loving father to his sons, to his daughter, brother to his brothers, son to his mother, proud grandfather, spirit-filled drummer, wearer of buttons upon buttons upon buttons, registered nurse, elder companion, accurate reader of I Ching, and so, so, so much more.”
A memorial celebration of life is being planned for 3 pm Saturday, March 13, at the Deadwood Community Center on Deadwood Creek Road, five miles north of Highway 36. For directions call 964-5691. Prensky had “some of his happiest years” in Deadwood, says his son, Reuben, who can be contacted at email@example.com or through Facebook. A second memorial gathering is being planned at Growers Market in Eugene. Call 484-6145 for updated information. For carpooling, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Prensky, Paul Harrison and Ruth Duemler founded the OTHER paper that published progressive news and opinion for several years in Lane County and also published a monthly Calendar of Days and an illustrated newsletter called This Week With Teeth. In one issue in 1998 he called for the formation of a Civilian Review Board to oversee complaints against police, a change that would not happen for another decade. He produced a play about Ben Linder, and wrote many letters and commentaries about local and national politics for area newspapers. His more recent pieces can be found by searching for his name in the EW website archives. A videotaped KWVA interview featuring him can be found at http://wkly.ws/ep
In his prose and poetry about homelessness, labor rights, the environment and other issues, he “showed his concerns for those often ignored,” says Ruth Duemler. “He was always on target and never afraid to speak up for justice, and he will be sorely missed.”
Fellow activist Carol Berg Caldwell remembers him as a “bongo player by candlelight” who helped form the Homeless Action Coalition and was a strong supporter of the police auditor Dawn Reynolds.
“He was a colorful and smart man,” she says, “and he knew how to live cheaply, and share what he had.”
In one of his newsletters in 1998, Prensky wrote, “Nature is benign and indomitable. We take our cues from her. As for civilization, it sounds like it’d be a good idea.” — Ted Taylor
ROAD BLOCKS IN VANCOUVER
As the 2010 Winter Olympics approached the final weekend, demonstrators in Vancouver geared up for a climactic protest. Across the border south, at the PIELC conference in Eugene Feb. 26, Joseph Jones, a University of British Columbia librarian emeritus, explained the controversy surrounding the 2010 Games and the preceding legal tremors.
Jones, a longtime B.C. resident, said that ever since Vancouver’s Olympic bid at the turn of the millennium, the city has submitted to development interests, leading to mass rezoning and underhanded bylaws. Vancouver’s Olympic bylaws faced numerous contract revisions to regulate where protesters could demonstrate. Designated “assembly zones” were publicly released only the day before opening ceremonies.
“It’s virtually dictatorial powers,” said Jones.
Approximately $8 billion of public money was spent for the Olympic games, which ended with a $2.8 million deficit. With a $50 million budget, the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit could control most of B.C. and use the funds to invest in a long-range acoustic sound device, which Jones called a “sound weapon.”
In addition to free speech concerns, Jones mentioned issues of native lands, street cleaning and border blocking. According to Jones, in the natural environment, projects like the sea to sky highway are a “blasted freeway on ecologically sensitive habitats.”
“Once you pick at a piece of a thread, everything starts unraveling,” said Jones. — Sachie Yorck
WHY DIDN’T THE WOLF CROSS THE ROAD?
Road-kill. While for some it’s an excellent way of acquiring fresh venison without having to hunt, for most people hitting a deer or an elk is traumatic, even deadly, not only for the animal, but for the people in the car.
|proposed Rock Knob overpass on I-90 in Washington|
Highways across Oregon speed people from place to place, but according to panelists at the “Reconnect: Connecting fragmented landscapes to preserve biodiversity” panel at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference last month, they also endanger humans and wildlife, and impede wildlife movement, potentially creating ecological islands that trap species in one place.
Roadways are not the only problem for wildlife. David Mildrexler of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council in Eastern Oregon said that habitat fragmentation, thanks to development and industries like logging, can jeopardize species that need to move in order to hunt, mate or deal with climate change.
Hells Canyon is a corridor that allows species from the Rockies to make their way into Oregon, Mildrexler said, and the animals need to use routes that have similar topography and landcover. For example, an elk will tend to want to migrate where it can find its usual food sources and temperature range.
Greg Costello of the Western Environmental Law Center said the Western Governors Association has started a wildlife corridors initiative in the Western states. He echoed Mildrexler’s emphasis that wildlife corridors involve not only protected lands, but private lands and land trusts. “Lynx can’t read state boundaries and don’t distinguish between public lands, state lands and private lands,” he said.
He pointed out that land and roads are part of the issue, and added that siting renewable energy projects like windfarms needs to take into account wildlife movement.
Oregon has been slow to address the issue of habitat connectivity and biodiversity, Costello said. In Washington state, on the other hand, any transportation plan has to take into consideration “habitat values and wildlife movement” and the effect of the project on wildlife connectivity, according to Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest.
One strong indicator that a highway is interfering with wildlife is areas with high numbers of accidents where animals are hit by cars. Minbashian said that deaths of one species can indicate more imperiled species are being affected. Areas where large numbers of deer are being hit by cars indicates that an animal like a wolf, which preys on deer, is also affected by the impeded route.
Groups in Washington such as the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition (www.i90wildlifebridges.org) are working to implement wildlife crossings that allow large animals like deer and elk, as well as smaller but equally important species like salamanders, to safely make their way along migration and hunting routes.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has started on wildlife underpass for mule deer in Eastern Oregon. On Highway 97 just south of Bend, 100 mule deer die on a four-mile section of the road every year, usually during annual migrations. ODFW is using fencing and passage under the road to help the deer and other species cross the road safely. The project is slated for completion in 2011. Go to transwildalliance.org for more information on wildlife crossings and corridors. — Camilla Mortensen
Riverfront Skyscraper or Park?
The Eugene Water and Electric Board appears to be headed toward a plan that maximizes development and minimizes parkland along the downtown riverfront.
A design committee and process dominated by developers has produced a proposed site plan for the riverfront with only the minimum legally required setback from the river rather than a broader natural area favored by local environmentalists.
“It’s based flat out on the least setback they can get away with,” said Friends of Eugene President Kevin Matthews. “It fails to create a public open space of any reasonable scale at the river.”
EWEB’s proposed master plan for redeveloping 28 acres along the river includes a river setback for buildings of only about 100 feet, the minimum required by Eugene code. After that strip, the plan could allow office or condo towers 100 to even 200 feet tall.
A crowd recruited by the Chamber of Commerce for a March 3 meeting gave strong support to a proposal for a 200-foot glass and steel building on the riverfront land. That height is about twice as tall as the tallest buildings downtown. “Go for it!” yelled one man to laughter from the developer-dominated crowd, 80 percent of whom voted with electronic clickers in favor of the riverfront skyscrapers.
Matthews said EWEB “heavily loaded” the design committee with development interests from the Chamber of Commerce, including the director of the Chamber, a past president, a Realtor, a gravel pit owner and a developer. At a recent meeting the committee voted to ignore the concerns of its sole pro-park, environmental member and move forward with its development plan.
The EWEB plan includes leaving much of the riverbank in riprap with little or no natural riparian restoration. EWEB staff and their consultants argue that riparian restoration can’t be done on the cutting edge of the river.
“That’s a false statement,” Matthews said. EWEB has failed to study how restoration could be done with careful engineering. Parts of the site are on bedrock, he said. “The river is not going to be washing away downtown.”
The EWEB plan does include a small pumped water feature referencing the historic millrace that’s now buried in a pipe through the site. But Matthews said, “The way they’ve done the millrace in this plan is an atrocity.”
Mathews calls for a larger, natural millrace bisecting the site with the potential for connecting to the federal courthouse area. Buildings should be set back at least 200 feet from the river with a more traditional park to the north and more natural park to the south, he said. EWEB could still profit from selling land to developers along the Ferry Street viaduct and railway, according to Matthews.
The historic bow-truss building could be a public market spilling out into the park, Matthews said. “It would be really beautiful and really pleasant, and it wouldn’t cost that much.”
With much of downtown in vacant pits and lots that the city is paying millions of dollars to try to redevelop, Matthews doubts developers will pay much for the EWEB land with unknown pollution, rail and freeway noise and limited access. “You’d be lucky if you can get someone to take it for a dollar,” Matthews said. If EWEB did a realistic economic analysis, Matthews said, “it may be the best thing to do would be to make the whole thing a park.” — Alan Pittman
PIELC TALK: GREENER GOVERNMENTS
The keynote speeches from Rizwana Hasan and Congressman Peter DeFazio on the last day of the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference Feb. 28 both came from a place of frustration with governments that refuse to take part in the fight for a better environment.
Hasan, a lawyer and representative of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, outlined BELA’s fight against ship-dismantling businesses that brought foreign vessels to the shores of Bangladesh laden with toxic substances. Hasan and BELA have won some legal battles against dangerous ship-breaking practices, but as Hasan said, “While I thank them (PIELC) for inviting me here, I also thank them for not giving me a specific topic because there are so many struggles going on in Bangladesh and I thought that it was important to share some of those with you.”
Hasan went on to explain the struggles of forest dwellers in the woods of Bangladesh, as well as the perils of industrial pollution, shrimp cultivation and pollution from tanneries in the rivers of Bangladesh.
DeFazio, not unlike some of the activists at the conference from groups like Rising Tide, spoke of cap and trade as a false solution, and spoke against it and the negative effects it has had in Europe. He also warned of the damage he said it will inevitably do if people continue to embrace it as a solution for protecting and saving the environment.
Discussing the Bush-Cheney energy policy, “Like I said at the time, this would be a backwards-looking policy for the 1950s. And it was adopted in the 21st century?” DeFazio said.
DeFazio ended his presentation with some ideas for the future: an increase in fuel economy standards, appliance standards, better building standards and progressive building practices for the future on a national level. He mentioned making a push for the plan “Cash for Caulkers,” the effort to encourage green home improvements recently suggested by President Obama. — Shaun O’Dell
Oregon has given a $40 million tax break to Facebook for a data center near Prineville that will be powered by burning mountains of greenhouse-producing coal.
“Facebook should be run on 100 percent renewable energy,” says the environmental group Greenpeace, with 400,000 “fans” on the social networking site.
The availability of dirty but cheap coal power was apparently a primary consideration for Facebook in choosing the central Oregon site this year. “Facebook bets on coal for new Oregon data center,” reads a headline on the trade website SearchDataCenter.com. The industry publication describes how with BPA rates expected to go up for big new hydropower users, “Facebook opted to bet on the incremental price increases associated with coal.”
Energy cost is the primary consideration for locating data centers, which are stuffed with computers that use massive amounts of power. Data centers keep their power use secret. But Harper’s magazine found documents indicating that a similar hydro-powered Google data center in Oregon would use enough electricity to power 82,000 homes.
Based on the Harper’s numbers, the Facebook data center would use a rough estimate of enough power for about 59,000 homes. That’s a city about the size of Eugene.
If all that Facebook power comes from coal, that would produce roughly a half-million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading cause of global warming.
The data center will produce 35 jobs, most of which appear unlikely to go to current Prineville residents who lack data center experience. At the same time the state is giving more than a million dollars in tax breaks per job to Facebook, Oregon schools are struggling to remain open with state funding cuts.
The state enterprise zone property tax break program has no rules limiting the tax break or carbon output per job. — Alan Pittman
HIT-AND-RUN VICTIM RIDES AGAIN
|Hart Godbold holds the bike frame he built before a reckless driver destroyed the frame and seriously injured him|
A cyclist hit on the sidewalk by an allegedly drunk and racing, hit-and-run driver is not giving up biking.
“Other than a bit of nerves, I am unchanged as a rider and bicycle lover,” said Hart Godbold, 26. “I was hit on the sidewalk by a drunk man who was racing his car two lanes of traffic away from me. One cannot protect against that sort of thing short of ceasing to ride, so I’ll continue riding.”
Last week Judge Jack Billings sentenced driver Joshua Clifton, a 23-year-old with previous DUI charges, to more than 90 months in jail for the Oct. 16 collision that left Godbold bleeding and unconscious.
According to Godbold, Judge Billings said he believed there was no safer place for Clifton than in jail. “I don’t think punishment is the goal here,” said cyclist Godbold in an e-mail interview. “That fact is he [Clifton] is unable to quit drinking and driving, and is untrustworthy.”
The late-night collision near Amazon Parkway reportedly left Godbold bleeding from a head injury as Springfield driver Clifton, who was allegedly racing another car, sped off. Clifton later claimed to be unaware that he had just hit someone, and his trial attorney questioned whether Godbold was seriously injured. After the accident, Clifton falsely reported his dented car stolen to the police. Clifton was arrested on Oct. 21.
Godbold, a fine arts graduate from the UO and aspiring carpenter, had only ridden his self-built bike for eight days before the destructive crash. Godbold said he only has a vague memory of the ride up until the crash and has no recollection of the actual incident and head injury.
“I am mostly recovered, though I have a number of lingering ailments,” Godbold said. — Alex Zielinski
(This story first appeared at Eugenecycles.com)
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HOT FIRES
Forest fires are bad. They kill plants and animals and leave lifeless, charred ruin in their wake.
Or do they?
Not according to Dennis Odion and Chris Hanson, two presenters at this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the UO Law School Feb. 27.
Odion, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Hanson, a director of the John Muir project, combined their research in a panel presentation called “The Myth of the Catastrophic Wildfire: Discovering the ecological importance of high-intensity forest fires.”
Odion, who focused more on fire’s impact on plant life, stressed that high-severity fire is a natural process in most ecosystems and necessary for vital plant processes like reproduction. Additionally, high-severity fire maintains biodiversity, he said.
“High levels of diversity cannot be maintained in equilibrium condition,” he said. “If you get this playing out every 40 or 50 years, what you’ll see playing out is all different types of successional vegetation in all different successional stages. If we didn’t have that going on, it would just be homogenous.”
Hanson, who prefers the term high-intensity fire, focused on the impact of fire on forest wildlife. Species like the black-backed woodpecker, he pointed out, only live in areas filled with dead trees in the years after a high-intensity fire.
Both Hanson and Odion agree that there is not much scientific debate about the importance of naturally occurring high-intensity fire, but that that knowledge hasn’t necessarily translated to forest management policy. The idyllic park-like forests with lots of space between trees and very little brush or debris on the forest floor, popularized by the Southwest Ponderosa pine model of forest management, is actually very detrimental to most forests, they said. Trying to use controlled low-intensity fire to keep forests clear of underbrush is not healthy for forests.
Even worse is the misconception that dead, burned trees serve no purpose in a healthy forest and should be removed. “A clear-cut has about as much in common with a naturally occurring high-intensity fire as a parking lot,” Hanson said. He said that salvage logging is one of the few things that can be unequivocally called 100 percent bad for a forest. Those snags store carbon and provide habitats for many species.
Hanson pointed out that there is much less high-intensity fire now in the Western U.S. that there was historically. “There’s no substitute for fire,” Odion said. — Kate Loftesness
• A panel of experts will address “Saving the Planet for Future Generations: Intergenerational Equity” at 4:30 pm Thursday, March 11, in the UO Law School, room 175. Panelists include Tim Ream (moderator), Elizabeth Brown Weiss, Brent Newell, Mary Wood, John Davidson and student activist Jeremy Blanchard. “As bad as global warming already is, many climate scientists believe that we are on the threshold of leaving our children and grandchildren an almost unrecognizably changed world,” says Ream, a Wayne Morse Center Fellow.
• State Sen. Chris Edwards and Reps. Nancy Nathanson and Val Hoyle will host a town hall meeting from 10 to 11:30 am Saturday, March 13, at Willamette High School cafeteria on Echo Hollow Road. They will discuss the accomplishments of February’s session and take questions from local residents.
• Looking Glass Youth and Family Services is planning a party and open house from 11:30 am to 2 pm Saturday, March 13, at its new 24-bed girls’ facility at 550 River Road. The new building cannot house the girls until it gets essential furnishings, such as mattresses, chairs and tables. Also needed are games, stuffed animals, coffee and chocolate for staff. To help, contact volunteer Pat Frishkoff at 968-0655 or email email@example.com
• The Sharing the Coast Conference will be from 9:30 am to 4 pm Saturday, March 13, at LCC’s branch at 3149 Oak St. in Florence. Sponsored by CoastWatch and the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators. OSU geology professor Bob Lillie will be one of the day’s key presenters. Free to members of either Oregon Shores or NAME, or $10 to others. Contact Fawn Custer at (541) 270-0027, firstname.lastname@example.org
• A screening of the Oregon-based documentary INGREDIENTS on local food sources is planned for 7:15 pm Sunday, March 14, at th First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. The event includes a local foods dessert potluck. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Sponsored by Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and Helios Resource Network. For more information, call 284-7020.
• Seattle Times gardening columnist Val Easton will speak at 7 pm Monday, March 15, at the Avid Gardeners meeting at 1645 High St. in Eugene. and at noon Tuesday, March 16, at The Bookmine in Cottage Grove.
• Interactive public open house focusing on the Willamette River open space system in and around the Eugene/Springfield area. Drop-in 4:30 – 7:30 pm Mon., March 15 at the Eugene Public Library in the Bascom/Tykeson Room.
Give comments on major enhancements of the Willamette River open space system on topics such as habitat, recreation, paths and trails, visual quality, public safety and the urban interface. A draft of the plan is available from the Lane Council of Governments at www.lcog.org/willamette
• The Al-Nakba Awareness Project will sponsor a slide show and talk by Peter Chabarek of Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based human rights organization at 7 pm Wednesday, March 17, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. The program is “Palestine Today — Resistance and Everyday Life in the West Bank.”
• Greg Taylor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will speak on the status of Chinook salmon in Fall Creek at 6:30 pm Wednesday, March 17, at the Oregon Department of Forestry, 3150 East Main St, Springfield. Sponsored by the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council. Free and open to the public. Call 541-343-0409 for information or join the mailing list at email@example.com
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Marcola Schools: Weyerhaeuser Company (988-7502) will ground spray 17 acres with 11 different herbicides within 10 feet of Parsons Creek (a listed salmon stream) from March 1 to April 30 (No. 2010-771-00347).
• Near Crow and Lorane: Seneca Jones Timber Company (461-6245) will aerial spray 234 acres with 2,4-D, Atrazine 4L, and Velpar DF herbicides near Battle, Hawley, Coyote, Barlow Creeks starting March 1 (No. 2010-781-00251). Call Mike Emmons at Seneca to find out which aerial applicator is being contracted to do the spraying.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Project Homeless Connect is a one-day, one-stop event that provides critical services and basic necessities to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The event this year is March 18, and we are concerned to hear that donations are down while the need is greater than ever. Last year about 600 volunteers turned out, along with about 400 professional service providers and dozens of social service agencies. More than 1,500 men, women and children were provided services.
The biggest needs this year are for volunteers, interpreters and attorneys and material goods, such as sleeping bags, coats, hats and gloves. To help out, contact project coordinator Judy Riedl at 682-3357 or email Judy.Riedl@co.lane.or.us
• Here’s to Paterson, a little town in New Jersey with the right values. Last November, in the middle of a tough recession, the voters passed (3,433 to 891) a $15 million renovation of Hinchliffe Stadium, a 9,200-seat baseball stadium built in 1932. Sound familiar? The non-binding referendum activates an agreement between the city and the school district, which owns Hinchliffe, to renovate the stadium.
• Everybody wants to be part of the party. Local Tea Partiers have been joined by Oath Keepers — active (armed) members of the military who say there are certain orders they will not obey, from imposing martial law on a state to taking guns away. And because the more liberal citizens like to party too, the Coffee Party has taken shape recently. The slogan is “Wake Up and Stand Up,” and the group says, “We demand a government that responds to the needs of the majority of its citizens as expressed by our votes and by our voices; NOT corporate interests as expressed by misleading advertisements and campaign contributions.” The Facebook page is getting thousands of fans a day, and the Oregon Coffee Party page has already formed. Check out the buzz at www.coffeepartyusa.com
• It’s the end of the term, everyone’s getting ready for spring break, and UO employees’ inboxes are cluttered with updates. On March 4, the UO sent out a memo reminding full-time instructional staff that they are required to serve on committees. The memo came from the UO’s “Committee on Committees.” The Ducks in Human Resources are also concerned with making sure UO employees are fully occupied and sent out an email of their own a couple days later urging potential supervisors to sign up for a course on “Supervision for Potential Supervisors.” Thanks to the UO’s Department of Redundancy Department for these updates.
• Catastrophic quakes around the world remind us that Oregon is vulnerable as well to The Big One. Our story Feb. 25 on food security provided abundant reasons for us to grow as much of our food as possible locally, but we left out scary earthquake scenarios. Most of our food comes to us by truck. Imagine our grocery store shelves a few days after our highways and bridges buckle. As Mayor Kitty Piercy says, “We need to use what farm land we have in our county, and farm in places we don’t normally farm in.” How about that little strip of dirt between the street and sidewalk? Potatoes, onions and chard will grow just about anywhere, even in buckets.
• Keeping a small business alive these days is like riding a bicycle down Coburg Road during rush hour. You are more likely to survive if you have a loud horn, a big yellow flag, a helmet and hospitalization insurance. How do you equip your survival? Lane County has more than half a dozen lead-sharing groups that provide support and survival skills for small businesses and help keep them from becoming a twisted mess on the side of the road. Most lead groups allow one member from each business category: real estate, mortgage, insurance, home inspection, legal services, tire dealer, repair shop, bookkeeping, construction, website design, etc. The members do business with each other and get together once a week over breakfast or lunch to share leads, referrals and success stories. Most combine business and socializing, and some have parties and outings. Dues vary.
We like the lively and politically diverse Mid-Oregon Executive Association (www.meanetworking.org). EW joined the 20-year-old MEA last year to supplement our multiple Chamber of Commerce memberships. We’ve also heard good reports about Lane Leaders, Oregon Networking Exchange, The Business Voice, Business Network International (BNI) chapters, and some Meetup groups such as Lane Professional Associates. Google their names for websites, contact information and available categories. Any others we missed?
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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