Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
EW Encounters Obama; Obama Encounters the Pit
County Commissioner hearts presidential candidate
Photos from the Pit
Todd Cooper’s shots from the Obama Rally
Happening Person: Nate Sampson
BREWHAHA EXAMINES EQUAL RIGHTS
What’s it like to “come out” to family and friends as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual in modern times? The bigotry and ignorance of the last century have eased somewhat, but it’s still difficult for people who are LGBT to feel like they truly belong to a community. And people who come out sometimes find that their sexual preferences become the dominant factor in how they are perceived by others.
|From left are Alison Cerezo, Joe Cedar, Matt Friday and Maceo Persson. Photo by Ted Taylor.|
“Your sexuality is all people see,” says Matt Friday, one of the panelists in a two-hour Brewhaha political gathering at Davis’ restaurant March 19. The discussion was cosponsored by the Bus Project, Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) and Eugene Weekly.
Becky Flynn and Maceo Persson of BRO outlined the status of domestic partnerships since the Oregon Equality Act and Oregon Family Fairness Act survived legal challenges and went into effect Feb. 4. In the second half of the evening, three panelists, Matt Friday, Joe Cedar and Alison Cerezo, talked about their personal experiences negotiating the maze of heterosexist laws and a homophobic and transphobic society.
Domestic partnerships are now legal and binding for Oregon residents, and about 1,300 same-sex couples in the state have tied the knot since Feb. 4 when a legal challenge to the legislation failed. Anti-gay activists have filed two initiatives to repeal the laws, and petitioners have until July 3 to collect 83,000 signatures to get on the November ballot.
Meanwhile, domestic partnership is still approximately 1,000 rights and benefits shy of marriage, says Flynn — but the new laws are a big step in the right direction, providing couples with legal rights in the event of emergencies and outlawing discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The details of the laws are available at on BRO’s website (www.basicrights.org).In the panel discussion, the three panelists told their stories and talked about not being trusted because of their sexuality; chronic homelessness, unemployment and violence that can affect those who are transgendered; higher suicide rates among the teen LGBT community thanks to homophobia; difficulties trans youth face in negotiating the local school system; the need for “transinclusive” policies in local government and institutions; and the empowering effect of the new equality laws.
The group also talked about terminology and its significance. “Queer,” for example, has been gaining popularity in the community because it recognizes the complexity of sexuality and includes more than two genders. — Ted Taylor
JET BOATS ON THE WILLAMETTE?
Who’s up for jet boat races on the Willamette this Memorial Day weekend? Many Eugeneans were shocked to learn from an article in Salem’s Statesman Journal newspaper that the Southern Oregon Power Boat Association is proposing to have a the last leg of the “World Jet Boat Marathon championship” run through town on the holiday weekend.
A portion of the proposed race route runs from Valley River Center 61 miles downstream to Bryant Park in Albany, according to the entry form, which is already available online. Other portions of the race, which takes place in several stages, will happen on the Rogue and Santiam Rivers.
The Oregon State Marine Board is accepting written public comment on whether the proposed race should be permitted. The OSMB didn’t get back to EW before press time, but the comment period ends Monday, March 31. No other state or federal agencies appear to be taking official comments on the proposal.
Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild wants to know why the public didn’t know about this race a year ago. Not only “does every other use of the river get excluded on Memorial Day weekend,” says Heiken, but the race affects species that depend on the river.
The race occurs during the migration of federally listed and threatened Chinook salmon, during a year when salmon fishing may be stopped altogether due to low salmon numbers.
The Willamette is also home to bald eagles and heron rookeries that the race could disturb, says Heiken. “Wakes could wash out goose nests and Oregon chub habitat.” It could also disturb the threatened Western pond turtle.
Heiken says Oregon Wild has been getting phone calls and letters about the issue.
Send your comments by March 31 to June LeTarte, Oregon State Marine Board, P.O. Box 14145, Salem, OR, 97309, or email them to email@example.com or fax them to (503) 378-4597. Go to www.worldjetboatmarathon.comto view the entry form and entire race route. — Camilla Mortensen
PAPER OR ONLINE? CARBON IMPACT COMPARED
Would it be better for the environment to be reading this on a dead tree or computer screen?
Considering the electricity required to power computers on both ends of the Internet, a Swedish study says it may be about the same.
“With a reading time of 30 minutes per day the environmental impact of the web-based newspaper was often in the same range as the printed newspaper environmental impact,” states a 2007 report from the Center for Sustainable Communications at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
The Swedish study used available data to do a life cycle analysis comparison of reading a newspaper online versus on paper. The researchers found that a newspaper produced about 28 kilograms per year of carbon dioxide, the leading contributor to global warming. The paper studied is similar to the size and distribution of the Eugene Weekly but distributed 6 times per week in Europe.
By comparison, if the paper were read online for a similar 30 minutes per issue, researchers estimated the global warming impact at 35 kg/yr.
About half the carbon impact of the printed paper comes from producing the paper. Roughly 15 percent comes from printing the paper and roughly 7 percent from distributing it. The study assumed an average of 2.4 readers would share the same paper.
Online, about half the carbon impact is from the electricity consumed to run the computers on both ends of the internet. Roughly 20 percent of the carbon impact comes from manufacturing the computers and screens in China and shipping them to Europe.
The Swedish study also estimated that the online newspaper had a 50 percent higher potential toxic impact. Computers are full of toxic metals, only kept a few years and rarely recycled fully.
In Eugene, the carbon balancing could be skewed toward online given the region’s heavy use of hydropower. Dams are hard on fish but don’t directly produce carbon. The Swedish researchers did consider a scenario with an energy mix similar to Eugene (about 20 percent fossil fuels). In that scenario, the paper version produced about 20 kg/year of carbon compared to 16 kg/year of carbon for online.
The study also considered the use of energy efficient reader devices now in development. The e-paper readers could produce about half the carbon impact as printed newspapers.
Of course, newspapers may want their readers to consider a different impact. Nationwide, papers are laying off workers and struggling to find a way to make money with their online editions. Stock in The New York Times has lost half its value in the last three years. If papers go bankrupt, that could save a lot of trees falling in the forest. But, then again, if no one was around to report on it, who would hear about it? — Alan Pittman
EDITOR’S NOTE: Appropriately enough, you could have read this short earlier (or could do it now) on a computer screen at the Weekly’s blog (blogs.eugeneweekly.com).
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003(last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,000 U.S. troops killed*(3,990)
• 29,320 U.S. troops injured* (29,320)
• 145 U.S. military suicides*(145)
• 308 coalition troops killed** (308)
• 1,123 contractors killed(accurate updates NA)
• 89,867 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (89,710)
• $505.2 billion cost of war ($503.3 billion)
• $143.6 million cost toEugene taxpayers($143.2 million)
* through Mar. 24, 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
• Near Lorane Elementary School (details): Strata Industries (726-0845) will ground spray 578 acres with 2,4-D LV6, Hardball, Garlon 3A, Tahoe 4E and 3A, Velpar L, Sulfometuron Methyl, Forester, Cleanslate, and Accord herbicides for Weyerhaeuser (744-4600) near Turkey Run, Norris, Tucker, Shaw Creeks and the Siuslaw River starting March 24th (#50211). Call Link Smith at ODF 935-2283.
• (Updated) Western Helicopter (503-538-9469) will aerially spray 169 acres near Lorane for Linde Kester (942-9264) with Oust and Velpar herbicides on between March 17th – April 13th (#50172).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• Barack Obama got us excited last week in Eugene, and we hope Hillary Clinton adds us to her campaign circuit. It’s hard to imagine Clinton getting the same rousing reception, but we still want to hear what she has to say. Obama is running a remarkably effective campaign, which is one indicator of what kind of president he would be. And the American people are ready for a completely different kind of story to tell their children. We doubt that many young people have been inspired by the story of George W. Bush’s ascent to power.
Local lawmakers and community leaders who got to spend some face-to-face time with Obama were impressed with the man. You can read about how EW writer Camilla Mortensen squeaked into the press room by describing this paper as “like FOX News, but different,” and read County Commissioner Pete Sorenson’s first-person account on our website this week, along with photos by our great photo guy, Todd Cooper.
• Jim Torrey is demanding control of the questions at upcoming mayoral debates, and we’re puzzled by trying to figure out what he’s afraid of. Tough and embarrassing questions from the audience? That’s the nature of debates. Being misquoted or quoted out of context? Every person in public life has to deal with that. What he probably fears is his Republican past catching up to him. But that would be likely to happen even if the only questions came from Kitty Piercy. We were happy to hear that City Club of Eugene is not planning to change its traditional mayoral debate forum May 2. If Torrey chooses to not show up, it only makes him look bad — or perhaps we should say worse.
• Developers Hugh Prichard and Jean Tate were at City Club last week talking about the need to ease up on building codes downtown, particularly in the core of downtown where nothing new can be built unless its square footage is twice the area of its lot size. In other words, your new building in the core needs to be at least two stories high. But is a floor area ratio (FAR) of 2.0 really unreasonable for an urban core? Portland condos are being built with a FAR of 20-plus, and eventually Eugene will become a real urban center with lots of tall buildings.
“We are sending all our development to Gateway and the suburbs,” says Prichard. We’re not so sure about that, but it does seem apparent Eugene’s downtown development code could use some revisions and updating, particularly when it comes to remodeling or expanding existing buildings. Prichard talked about Salem’s more flexible building code that lays out prescriptive rules on one page with a process for dealing with problems and conflicts on a facing page. An opportunity to look at these issues will be the Eugene Planning Commission meeting April 15, shortly after the arrival of our new city manager.
• Oregon’s initiative process may be on the ballot in November in an effort to deal with issues of misinformation. The Initiative Reform and Moderization Act (IRMA) passed through the 2007 Legislature and became law, dealing with fraud and making it easier and cheaper to gather signatures. But the legislation did not address the confusing and sometimes purposefully vague or misleading language in ballot measures. Right now, it’s possible to get just about anything on the ballot assuming enough gullible signers are found. What’s likely on the ballot in November is the Citizens Initiative Review (CIR). If it passes, a few dozen bipartisan registered voters picked at random will be invited as a group to take an in-depth look at each measure or referendum on the statewide ballot and report on their findings. A one-page report will be published in the Voters Pamphlet, and a full report will be available online and in libraries.
We like this idea a lot and see it as serving the public interest. We need to know what we’re voting on, and a detailed analysis by citizens can provide a whole new level of understanding — and maybe even shed some light on devious and destructive ballot measures.
• The UO and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) are in bargaining right now. Graduate employees would like not to give back their often below-poverty level paychecks in fees to the university, and the UO’s responding with a paltry $20 decrease. And the GTFF would like the UO to raise the cap on health insurance: Grad students with kids in health crises have received phone calls from the insurance company saying that they’re out of coverage. Oops.
One EW staffer recently met a former GTFF president from the early ’90s, and the woman explained that her department chair told her that her participation in the GTFF was a betrayal of trust. Health care coverage shouldn’t be at the whim of an employer, of course, and a Research I institution that uses graduate labor for nearly a third of its instruction and then cynically demands wages back “in fees” might be the real betrayer. More info from the GTFF at gtffbargaining.blogspot.com
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
“In my opinion, Oregon is Beervana,” says Nate Sampson, adding a small amount of pelletized hops to a steaming brew vessel at the open door to his garage on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon. “Portland has more breweries per capita than any place in the world.” A native of College Station, Texas, Sampson stopped in at a brew pub in Austin while trail-biking with friends in 1992. “The proprietor said he got started with homebrewing,” he reports. “All three of us bought brew kits that day.” In 1995, Sampson moved to Eugene, where he now works for Molecular Probes. He began brewing in earnest around the turn of the century. “I started with basic styles, but now I make up all the recipes myself,” he says. “I have five different beers on tap right now.” Sampson joined the Cascade Brewing Society in 2003 and became club president a couple of years later. “We have around 75 members, phenomenal brewers,” he says. “It’s like a big family.” Besides monthly meetings, CBS offers pub crawls, home-brew tours, competitions, and a free yeast bank for members. Learn more at www.cascade-brewers.com