News Briefs: Scorched Earth Policy | Oilgae: Scum of the Earth | Torrey Bucks vs. Piercy | Wolves, Wolverines and Bears, Oh My! | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Eastside parents ‘beat up’ their teachers over merger
Local Kids Make Good
UO grads return to combine business with pleasure at PIELC
Don’t Save the Humans
Voluntary human extinction is alive and well
Happening Person: Dorothy Morey
SCORCHED EARTH POLICY
It’s already time to start planning for fire season. It’s always that time if you’re involved in fire management in the West. The “Scorched Earth” panel at last weekend’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at UO discussed how fires, from small prescribed burns to enormous “megafires,” are dealt with by firefighters, managers and scientists. The panelists also talked about a soon-to-be-released fire management policy.
Timothy Ingalsbee of FUSEE (Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology; the acronym also refers a pyrotechnic device) organized the panel and led off the discussion on “Appropriate Management Response” (AMR) to wildland fires. AMR, according to Ingalsbee, “expands the strategic and tactical options for fire managers so they can choose from a full spectrum of potential actions — everything from aerial monitoring to aggressive suppression can be used to manage wildland fires.”
The panelists discussed two main types of fires: wildfire and prescribed fires. Mike Beasley of the National Park Service described the anatomy of a fire and fighting it, focusing on his work in Yosemite. Mary Kwart, now retired from U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, focused on Alaska, where she says thanks to global warming there were 10 wildfires above the Arctic Circle in 2007. The permafrost is melting, areas that were ponds are now meadows of grass and “the tundra is burning,” she said.
Though people tend to think of wildfires as negative, both kinds of fire can benefit the landscape when in an area that would naturally burn. Ingalsbee said past fire management policies have called for suppression of all human-caused fires, but he hopes the new policy will allow for more discretion in when a fire needs to be put out.
Firefighters don’t yet know what will be in that new fire policy, due to be released March 29. It was “largely crafted in secret,” said Ingalsbee. “Citizen involvement in wildfire management is the last best hope.” — Camilla Mortensen
OILGAE: SCUM OF THE EARTH
With gas headed for $4 a gallon and corn tortillas growing more expensive, will pond scum save the SUV?
Researchers at OSU experimenting with algae photobioreactors think it’s possible in five to 10 years.
“A lot of people are working on it,” said Ganti Murthy, assistant professor of biological and ecological engineering at OSU. “It’s just a matter of putting it together, making it work.”
Growing algae in a closed system takes far less water than corn and can produce 20 to 100 times more biodiesel per acre than can soybeans, according to a press release from OSU.
Algae can also be used to soak up global warming pollution. Feed it carbon dioxide from a coal plant, and it can grow up to 30 percent faster, according to Murphy.
As is the case with other biofuels, the trick is finding a cost-effective, energy-efficient way to farm and then squeeze the oil out of the plant matter. Algae has the added challenge of having to remove a lot of water.
Other biofuels have proven to be disappointing. Researchers recently found that biofuel crops may increase, not decrease, global warming because they result in farmers clearing natural vegetation for crops, according to a study published last month in the leading journal Science.
Oilgae has the potential to use far less land. But still the U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that replacing the nation’s gas with algae would require enough pond scum to cover the entire state of Maryland.
Ironically, Corvallis may still hold the secret technology to solve the energy crisis, but not in a photobioreactor. The city has one of the highest bicycle commuting rates in the nation. — Alan Pittman
TORREY BUCKS VS. PIERCY
Jim Torrey’s announcement that he plans to spend a quarter of a million dollars to unseat Mayor Kitty Piercy will bring huge piles of developer money into local politics.
In 2006, Torrey spent $649,000 to run unsuccessfully as a Republican trying to unseat Democrat State Sen. Vicki Walker. Torrey’s campaign was funded largely by developers, Republican Party leaders, timber barons, polluters and corporations either directly or through their Political Action Committees (PACs), according to finance reports.
In 2004, Torrey flirted with running as a write-in against Piercy, who had defeated her main challenger for mayor in the primary. Torrey decided not to run but still spent $38,000. Torrey’s biggest donor at $8,000 was Arlie & Co. The development company is run by John Musumeci, who made tens of millions of dollars speculating on land for Sacred Heart hospital to move from downtown to a bend in the McKenzie River. Land, timber and development speculators Greg Demers and the McDougal brothers gave Torrey $2,000 each.
Likely big issues in what’s promising to be a fierce battle for mayor include:
• Republican. Torrey claims he’s no longer a Republican. But it’s unclear if that’s just a ploy to win votes in an election year and town dominated by Democrats. In the past, the Republican Party and big Republican donors have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Torrey’s campaigns. Torrey has donated thousands of dollars of leftover campaign funds to Republicans and personally contributed $2,000 to President George Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, the maximum donation allowed. In 2006, Torrey told the City Club that he supported Bush and his decision to invade Iraq. “I think it’s made it safer from terrorism.”
• Sprawl. Torrey has advocated for expanding the urban growth boundary. That would allow developers like Musumeci and Demers, who have speculated on vast tracts of cheap farm and forest land in the LCC basin and west of Eugene to reap huge profits.
• West Eugene Parkway. Torrey was a big backer of the freeway through the wetlands when he was mayor. Piercy has opposed destroying natural areas for the highway. Land speculators and construction companies may still hope to cash in by restarting the project.
• Abortion. Torrey is anti-choice. Piercy is pro-choice and formerly worked for Planned Parenthood.
• Torrey’s record. Torrey has a consistent pro-developer, pro-corporate welfare and anti-environmental, anti-livability and anti-accountability voting record, according to an EW review of votes. The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) has described Torrey’s voting record as “dismal.”
• The Register-Guard. The daily paper has been a strong backer of Torrey, showering the pro-sprawl mayor with glowing coverage and endorsements for two terms. When progressives threatened to take over the council in 2000, the Guard published a one-sided front page story just before the election with Torrey predicting a “train-wreck.” More recently the paper published a one-sided speculative front page story shopping for candidates to oppose Piercy.
• Unfunded rhetoric. Torrey has said he wants more spending on roads and police. But he hasn’t said how he’ll specifically pay for it through higher taxes or cutting other city spending. Torrey made similar vague and unfunded calls for more spending in his campaign against Walker. “We don’t have to get any more money,” he said. “We need a marriage of business and government in order to pay the bills.” — Alan Pittman
WOLVES, WOLVERINES AND BEARS, OH MY!
So far 2008 is turning out to be a bad year to be a predator. Wolves have recently lost their protection as an endangered species, the recommendation to protect polar bears has gone ignored and the Bush administration has now denied protection for the wolverine.
|An elusive Canadian wolverine|
The decision to deny protection to the wolverine came on the heels of the release of the first photo of a wolverine in California in 90 years. Wolverines are elusive, and according to Joseph Vaile of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands project, this largest member of the weasel family “really avoids any sort of human settlement.” This includes anything from snowmobiling to even quiet backcountry skiers, he said.
The photo, taken by a remote control camera set up by Oregon State wildlife biology student Katie Moriarty, gives hope of someday having a confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Oregon’s Cascades, said Vaile. There have been sightings in Oregon, but none has been confirmed, he said.
The decision not to protect the wolverine didn’t take the effects of global warming into account, said Vaile. The large weasels tend to den in deep snow that remains until spring, which warmer temperatures are reducing.
Polar bears are the poster child for global warming, and the Bush administration is now over two months late in making a decision on their endangered status. Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Department of the Interior over the delay on Monday.
Also heading to the courts is the recent decision to delist the gray wolf from endangered species status. Local environmental group the Cascadia Wildlands Project recently joined 11 other plaintiffs in filing a 60-day notice of intent to sue over the decision.
The decision not to protect the wolverine was partly based on the fact wolverines are found contiguously in Canada. According to Vaile, that decision “doesn’t do justice to what the Endangered Species Act is all about — protecting endangered species in the United States.” — Camilla Mortensen
• A community forum on a new City Hall for Eugene is from 6 to 8:30 pm Thursday, March 13 at the First United Methodist Church, 13th and Olive. Architects on the design team plan to discuss the evolving design for a new building, and talk about what can be done until financing is available. The City Council does not expect to put the project to a public vote before 2010. Register at eugenecityhall.com.
• Voter Owned Elections update: Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and volunteers with Voter Owned Oregon are taking their plan for campaign finance reform public again this week and next. Sorenson will share the podium with Portland City Auditor Gary Blackmer at City Club at noon Friday, March 14 at the Downtown Athletic Club, 10th and Willamette. The program will be rebroadcast on KLCC at 6:30 pm Monday, March 17. A follow-up public session on the topic will be from 4 to 6 pm Wednesday, March 19 at Davis’ Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway, and will include Mike Knefaty, Ruth Duemler, Gabe Jennings, Jay Romano, Lloyd Gordon and others. See story on the Voter Owned Elections Act in our Jan. 17 issue.
• An urban park design workshop is planned for 1 to 6 pm Saturday, March 15 at the Atrium building, 10th and Olive in Eugene. The workshop will focus on a portion of downtown for redevelopment. It is being coordinated by four UO student groups, and is a lead-up to the HOPES Conference on campus April 17-20.
• Brewhaha is back with a forum on “Beer, Politics & Basic Rights” at 7 pm Wednesday, March 19 at Davis’ Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway. This month’s forum is sponsored by the Oregon Bus Project, Basic Rights Oregon and Eugene Weekly. Speakers to be announced.
• Lane County’s Veterans for Peace bus is joining the “Winter Soldier II investigation” and mass peace rally scheduled for March 13-16 in Washington, D.C. For information or to contribute to expenses, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began onMarch 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,980 U.S. troops killed*(3,967)
• 29,320 U.S. troops injured* (28,870)
• 135 U.S. military suicides*(145)
• 308 coalition troops killed** (307)
• 933 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 89,353 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (89,103)
• $501.4 billion cost of war ($499.4 billion)
• $142.6 million cost toEugene taxpayers($141.5 million)
* through Mar. 10, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• ODOT has begun roadside spraying: Call Dennis Joll, ODOT District 5 (Lane County) at 686-7526, or (888) 996-8080 to find out which roads have been sprayed. Beltline, I-5 and I-105 starting March 10.
• Near Lorane Elementary School: Western Helicopter Services, (503) 538-9469, will aerially spray 169 acres with Dupont’s Westar herbicide (hexazinone and sulfometuron methyl) for Linde Kester (942-9264) close to King Estate Vineyard, Hawley Creek and North Fork Siuslaw River starting March 17 (ODF # 50172). Call Robert Johnson, Stewardship Forester at Oregon Department of Forestry, 935-2283 or Scott Ferguson at Trout Mountain Forestry,(503) 222-9772.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• In our March 6 News Briefs regarding Pacifica Forum, Michael Williams is described as “monitoring Pacifica Forum meetings since 2003 on behalf of Community Alliance of Lane County’s Anti-Hate Task Force.” Williams tells us his monitoring ended in spring 2005 when the Fellowship of Reconciliation dropped its sponsorship of Pacifica Forum Now, he says he attends occasionally “to stay current on what they were doing.”
• In last week’s Wine column, the listed price for Illahe 2006 Pinot Noir was incorrect and should have been listed at $21.
• The Eugene City Council is looking this week at a process to deal with complaints against the police auditor, but why? Any such incidents should logically be handled by the Civilian Review Board and then perhaps appealed to the council. Meanwhile, what action is being taken against the complaining officer who apparently filed a false and defamatory complaint against Auditor Cris Beamud? Acting City Manager Angel Jones has reportedly said she doesn’t plan any disciplinary action against Sgt. Ron Swanson. Why not?
The EPD Operations Manual lays out a code of ethics and behavior for police officers and includes specific language about integrity, honesty, and good judgment. It states, “You may not publicly criticize or ridicule the department, its policies or other employees,” and, “You will not be allowed to discredit the department or the city.” Does Swanson’s unfounded and potentially libelous complaint clearly violate the EPD’s code of ethics? By not seriously investigating Swanson’s actions, the city manager and police chief are reinforcing Eugene’s decades-long dearth of police accountability.
• Speaking of Eugene cops, why all the fuss and bother over naked bicyclists last weekend? In a more tolerant and enlightened city, police might show up to escort a semi-spontaneous procession instead of trying to quash it. Our hats (and pants) off to the goose-bumped crowd of pedal-pushers who firmly held their own against police interference in a good-natured and peaceful event. Last time we checked, being female and topless is not illegal in Eugene, and neither is riding a bike.
• So long, Anna Morrison. We heard from Tami Sakany of the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce that the conservative former Lane County commissioner has moved to Texas to “pursue an opportunity to own and operate her own small business.” Morrison lost her commissioner post to Bill Fleenor in the 2004 elections and since last October has been working with the Fern Ridge Chamber as its full-time economic development officer. Morrison was known as a staunch advocate for unrestricted logging, sprawl, polluting industries, cuts in social services and other conservative pursuits. She consistently earned a zero rating by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, but she’s drawn praises from the homebuilders and land speculators for her efforts to grow Veneta, Elmira and other small towns out west. Now we hear the housing downturn is hitting there as well.
What’s next for the Fern Ridge Chamber? The group representing eight small towns has only had a real office and staff since late last summer, and now they have only a part-time executive assistant. The Chamber’s board is meeting in executive session this week to figure out what to do. They didn’t expect Morrison to bail so soon.
Land speculators and developers have a vested interest in turning these sleepy little towns into bedroom communities, paving over productive farmlands and wetlands while raising property values and taxes in the area. Who’s behind the expanded Fern Ridge Chamber? Sakany won’t say, other than some “additional funding partners” are involved, but word on the street has support coming from Greg Demers’ Frontier Resources, the McDougal brothers and maybe Arlie & Co.
• We’ve sent a reporter to a couple of Pacifica Forum meetings and chatted with folks involved in the meetings, and we’re left scratching our heads. The conservative student paper The Oregon Commentator asked a basic question that’s never really been answered by the group. CJ Ciaramella in an editorial in January wrote, “I don’t understand why the Pacifica Forum allowed themselves to be overrun by complete assholes in the first place.” Ciaramella was referring to a PF lecture by Jimmy Marr in which Martin Luther King Jr. was called a “moral leper and community dupe.” Marr’s outrageous rant on MLK’s character, the Civil Rights Movement and Jewish communism might have been an aberration in a long series of more intelligent and insightful talks, but it appears Pacifica Forum has slipped over the years from its original efforts towards building peace. We’re all for free speech and the pursuit of truth, but we don’t see a lot of community goodwill and reconciliation arising out of PF’s recent focus on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
• Has Jim Torrey hired a San Francisco consultant to help him in his campaign to unseat Mayor Kitty Piercy? Our readers pass along all kinds of rumors, but this is one is from a very reliable source. The rumor is unconfirmed as we go to press, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true. Big checks from special interests can buy all kinds of campaign expertise, from polling and focus groups to slick TV ad campaigns.
• New venue for Science Pub? In our News Briefs Feb. 28 we reported that the Science Pub lecture series sponsored by OMSI, UO and the Science Factory was looking for a new venue, and it looks like one has been found. Cozmic Pizza will host the free lectures starting in April. The final lecture at Luna will be at 7 pm Thursday, March 13, with Ted Fremd, chief paleontologist at John Day Fossil Beds.
• Last weekend, Bush tried to justify his veto of an intelligence authorization bill banning waterboarding, saying, “The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” Well, if torture is really one the most valuable tools we have, we need some new tools. How about some tools that actually provide useful information, do not turn prisoners into fanatics, and do not encourage our enemies to torture our soldiers when they are captured?
Bush’s arguments don’t make sense. Nothing surprising in that regard, but something else is going on here beyond concern about effective interrogation. A little paranoia, perhaps? Nailing down what constitutes torture could affect the prosecution of war crimes after Bush and Cheney leave office.
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, email@example.com
After high school in Minneapolis in 1950, Dorothy Morey signed up for the U.S. Air Force. “It was the only service that admitted women,” she says. “The others had a women’s auxiliary.” During the Korean War, she served in Japan and met her husband, a native of Salem, who enrolled at the UO on their return. “I helped out with a new baby before finals each spring,” says the mother of four. “I started UO classes when the third was three weeks old. It took 10 years to graduate.” She taught first grade in Cottage Grove for nine years and negotiated for teachers when the school budget failed in 1974. “I’ve always been an advocate,” says Morey, who divorced in 1975 and entered the UO Law School in 1979. “I’m starting my 26th year as a criminal defense lawyer,” she says. Despite bypass surgery two years ago, she is also in her 25th year as a volunteer with Senior Law Services, offering legal assistance in Saturday sessions at senior centers, and in her first year at New Roads School, counseling homeless youth. “My brothers and sisters ask me when I’m going to retire,” she notes. “I say, ‘It does not compute.'”