Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Arts Council Changes Course
Budget woes lead to staff layoffs, restructuring
Two OSU undergrads plug into global computer project
SPOTTED OWLS STOP LOGGING ONCE AGAIN
The agency responsible for protecting endangered species has been caught with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on spotted owls.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the agency that lists and monitors endangered species. It is the same agency that issues “incidental take” permits to individuals, corporations and others who engage in activities that “take” (read: kill) endangered species.
The USFWS issues a “biological opinion” with the incidental take permit, which analyzes the impact to the species in question.
A local conservation group, the Cascadia Wildlands Project (CWP), in conjunction with Oregon Wild (formerly the Oregon Natural Resources Council) and others, has sued USFWS over biological opinions with faulty incidental take statements. The groups argued that the agency failed to quantify the number of endangered northern spotted owls that would be harmed or killed during logging operations in the Pacific Northwest.
Analysis of the incidental take statements shows that the statements allow for more owls to be killed than actually exist in the wild. “Ironically, USFWS, the same agency charged with recovering endangered species, is rubber-stamping plans to log thousands of acres of designated critical habitat the agency itself created,” said Josh Laughlin, executive director of the CWP.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, “authorizing the take of ‘all spotted owls,’ without any additional limit, is inadequate.” As a result, USFWS has withdrawn four biological opinions, which has halted dozens of old-growth timber sales in western Oregon.
The CWP has been working to stop the logging of several of these sales for seven years. Laughlin said he was delighted at the reprieve but worried that the “USFWS will rework their documents to make them immune to future legal challenges.”
Laughlin expressed concern that legal gridlock over these sales could continue for years to come and stated, “This is all the more reason we need Rep. DeFazio and Sens. Smith and Wyden to step up and permanently protect remaining mature and old-growth forests on our public lands.” — Camilla Mortensen
SABOTAGE OR TERRORISM?
On May 15 federal Judge Ann Aiken will decide whether the Oregon eco-saboteurs are arsonists or terrorists.
Oral arguments on the application of sentencing guidelines for the “terrorism enhancement” will take place starting at 10 am. This enhancement could add up to 20 years to the sentences for all District of Oregon “Operation Backfire” defendants.
Sentencing of the eco-sabotage defendants will begin on May 22, one week after the decision is made on the enhancement. All hearings will take place in Judge Aiken’s courtroom in the Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene.
According to attorney Lauren Regan, whose Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) is involved in the cases, “The enhancement’s application will be affected by whether the property damaged or destroyed was government owned or private.”
If the judge decides the terrorism enhancement applies to the cases, then each defendant will argue individually against the enhancement. U.S. sentencing guidelines state that for the terrorism enhancement to apply, the defendant or his or conduct must be “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of the government by intimidation or coercion.”
The CLDC contends that the government is seeking to label these defendants as terrorists in order to justify the amount of money it has spent pursuing so-called terrorists. And if activists become labeled terrorists, the CLDC expects a chilling effect upon progressive movements.
Sentencing dates for the defendants begin with Stanislaus Meyerhoff on May 22, and continue each day except May 28 until the last defendant, Jonathan Paul, is sentenced June 5. Identification will be required to enter the courtroom, and if the courtroom fills, the hearings will be relayed to another room via closed-circuit TV.
Three Operation Backfire cases will be dealt with in Washington: Briana Waters, Jen Kolar and Lacey Phillabaum. The terrorism enhancement is not being sought in those cases. Waters, the only defendant to continue to plead not guilty, will go to trial on Sept. 17. Kolar and Phillabaum both pled guilty and await sentencing. Phillabaum self-reported to federal prison on Jan. 29. — Camilla Mortensen
DEADLINE NEARS ON NUKE PLAN
The Bush administration is budgeting $200 billion for making nuclear energy the “safe and clean alternative energy” of the future. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is considering the Hanford Fast Flux Test Facility in Washington state as a site to locate a reprocessing facility to “recycle” spent fuel in order to supply uranium to all of the nuclear power plants in the world.
“High level nuclear waste from around the U.S. would be transported through Oregon by truck and train to Hanford, which is already the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere,” says Lane County green energy advocate Kathy Ging. “Low level recycled waste products would be stored for years at Hanford until the geological repository at Yucca Mountain is opened.”
The DOE is required to file an environmental impact statement before proceeding with the project, and April 4 is the deadline for public input. Visit www.hoanw.org for information or email comments to email@example.com
FRANKLIN CORRIDOR II
The second in a series of public workshops on the future of the Franklin Boulevard corridor is coming up Friday and Saturday, April 13-14. The collaboration involves idea-sharing from citizens and neighborhood groups along with numerous government agencies, the UO, land owners, bicyclists and developers. The area being studied is the south side of the Willamette River between downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield.
The first series was held Feb. 2-3 at the Atrium building in downtown Eugene and drew about 100 participants. The April sessions will start off at the Springfield Train Depot April 13, followed by all-day events April 14 at a location to be determined.
The workshops are sponsored by the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the AIA. The collaborative planning process is intended to continue on into the foreseeable future.
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
• ODOT will begin spraying herbicides in District 5 (Lane County) on April 9 with Payload, Diuron, Oust, Razor Pro, and Landmark herbicides. Call Dennis Joll, ODOT IVM Coordinator at 686-7625. See notices at: www.forestlanddwellers.org/notices/ODOT/
• Near Lorane Elementary School: Western Helicopter (503-538-9469) will aerially spray 40 acres with 2,4-D, and triclopyr ester herbicides plus methylated seed oil for Fruit Growers Supply Co. (767-0633) near Lorane/Norris Creek tributaries April 2-30 (No. 50330).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
We’re always amazed to see the local mainstream media just going along with whatever they are told by city officials and consultants. Case in point is the review of the Magaña and Lara police abuse cases by former McMinnville Police Chief Rod Brown, our cover story this week. It doesn’t take much digging to find the inconsistencies between the “independent” review and the evidence that came out in the trial about the sexual improprieties that have plagued the department for years and the “blue wall” of silence that protects bad cops. EPD and the city were finally held accountable by brave women who stood up and told their stories, again and again. So where do we go from here? EPD has been forced to become a better organization, but it still has not-so-good cops among the good cops, and it’s disturbing to know that the not-so-good cops — the ones who knew what Magaña and Lara were up to and did nothing — are not being held responsible for their role in this travesty. And it’s a mistake to think Magaña and Lara were the only problems within the EPD. The department has a long and shameful history of racial and counter-culture profiling, excessive force, selective enforcement and cover-ups. The R-G editorial board this week tells us the problems are solved, and “it’s time to move on.” No. It’s time to clean house.
DeFazio’s getting pressured from the left and right these days as he and the rest of Congress wrestle with various scenarios to get us out of Iraq. As we watch the debates over the supplemental funding bill, it’s tempting to think that we in the bleachers know how to play the game: Cut off the funding. Get us out. But it’s not that simple. It seems not all Democrats are of like mind when it comes to ending our presence in this war and how it will be perceived. DeFazio would likely have voted to cut funding, but that choice was not on the floor. He voted for the House funding bill because it has binding language that gets us out of Iraq by September 2008 or sooner, and it includes restoration of federal funding for desperate Oregon counties. As frustrating as it is to prolong this idiotic Middle East crusade, the supplemental funding bill might be the first real step toward ending the war. Nothing else is on the table. Will binding withdrawal language get stripped out of war funding legislation? Voting for such a bill would be a dangerous act for any Democrat or Republican who wants to get reelected.
The war on terror has gone badly in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now Bush wants to attack Iran. The cynics among us can’t help but wonder if what we perceive as failed policy isn’t just part of a master plan to keep us in perpetual war and turmoil. Explains a lot: We didn’t send enough troops into Iraq in the beginning; we pulled back in our pursuit of bin Laden in Afghanistan; Bush as “war president” is able to grab unprecedented power; Congress goes along with devious erosions of our constitutional rights; war profiteering reaches astounding levels; and our real and pressing issues at home get swept under the rug. All very convenient.
Sad ending for the Ducks in Sunday’s big game against the defending champion Gators, but congrats for fighting into the final eight and making Florida sweat. Will an impressive 29-8 season save coach Ernie Kent’s career at UO? Can’t help but wonder what’s goiing on in Phil Knight’s head. Will the Big Donor back a $200 million basketball arena with Kent coaching the team?
Each American glugs about 26 gallons of bottled water a year, supporting an $11 billion dollar industry, and most of the empty bottles end up in landfills or along roadsides. What’s so special about bottled water that we pay more for it than for gasoline? Even the chic brands in glass bottles are just filtered tap water from someplace thousands of miles away. A story in the San Francisco Chronicle March 21 says some of the Bay Area’s finest retaurants are switching from expensive bottled water to free filtered tap water, with or without bubbles. It’s a move toward sustainability and tapping (literally) into local products. Eugene could do the same, and why not? We have some of the best-tasting tap water in the world, originating in the massive, cold, high aquifer of the Cascade lava fields. Delicious.
As we go to press this week (Wednesday noon) we are hearing rumors that Genesis Juice has shut down due to financial woes, and is not expected to revive. We were unable to confirm the rumors; no one at Genesis returned our call. Folks at The Kiva store downtown confirmed Wednesday that Genesis Juice distribution has stopped. The company, started in 1974 as a co-op making fresh-squeezed, nonpasturized juices, has been for sale for some time.
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
Raised in a West L.A. family of artists, Rich Klopfer grew up around museums and galleries. “On a typical family outing, my dad would set up the easel,” he recalls. After high school, Klopfer explored the U.S. by car, a bit at a time, until 1980, when he discovered Eugene and decided to stay. “I chopped wood and baked bread,” he notes. “I made connections and saw the potential for community.” A carpenter by trade, Klopfer launched a second career as an exhibiting artist and began a collaboration with Eugene artist and labor-rights activist Trim Bissell. “We were kindred spirits in art,” says Klopfer. “We did a series of paired paintings.” Also a folk musician, Klopfer picks up the violin for relaxation on a daily basis. Behind him on the wall is one of his colorful depictions of rural life. After Bissell’s death from cancer in 2002, and with the invasion of Iraq imminent, Klopfer put his art career on hold, cut back on carpentry and joined the Justice Not War Coalition. “I’ve been at it since January of ’03,” he says. “We organized some of the rallies. I was arrested a couple of weeks ago in Peter Defazio’s office.”