News Briefs: Councilors Call for Cop Investigation | Eugene Lags in Bagging Plastic | No Police Review for Cyclist | Fill in the Blank | Natives vs. Non-Natives | Connecting the Dots | Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Who’s the Client?
Do elected officials control the city’s powerful law firm?
COUNCILORS CALL FOR COP INVESTIGATION
The Eugene City Council should take action to hold police accountable for the Magaña/Lara sex abuse scandal, two city councilors said at their April 9 meeting.
Last month the city manager and police chief released their consultant’s report that they said proves their contention that no police officer or other city official should face investigation, discipline or reprimand for failing in the hiring and supervision of the two convicted officers, Roger Magaña and Juan Lara. Attorneys for some of the officers’ more than dozen sex abuse victims over six years called the report a “whitewash.”
Councilor Bonny Bettman said it’s now up to the council to take action to direct a better investigation. When the officer scandal broke, “both the city manager and the police chief said there will be a complete, exhaustive internal investigation,” Bettman said. “This report is not that.”
Councilor Betty Taylor said she agreed that the council should act. “A lot of people were dissatisfied and thought the report didn’t really do anything,” she said. “It’s up to us to do something.” — Alan Pittman
EUGENE LAGS IN BAGGING PLASTIC BAGS
Eugene may be falling behind other cities when it comes to eco-friendly policies.
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams is considering a proposal to ban plastic bags as early as this summer. Portland was also one of the first cities to ban Styrofoam cups and serving containers.
Portland is following in the footsteps of San Francisco. Recently, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that would ban plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies. Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law.
Last month in Corvallis, eight-year-old Jesse Marley lobbied Mayor Charlie Tomlinson to require shoppers to pay 25 cents each time they use a new plastic grocery bag.
While San Francisco is the first major city in the US to consider a plastic bag ban, several native villages in Alaska have already instituted bans on the use of plastic bags.
San Francisco’s ordinance would require stores to provide reusable bags made of canvas or heavier plastic, to use biodegradable plastic bags or to provide bags made out of recyclable paper.
According to Adams’ blog, paper bags are not necessarily the solution. Paper bags take four times as much energy to manufacture as plastic, and the production generates more air and water pollutants. They are made from wood pulp, which means that not only are greenhouse gas-reducing trees cut down for the paper, but the manufacture of the bags produces even more greenhouse gases, leading to global warming. Paper bags also require 91% more energy to recycle than plastic bags.
Plastic bags are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. The U.S. uses 12 million barrels of oil a year to make billions of plastic bags, which become one of the largest sources of urban litter. San Francisco alone uses 181 million plastic bags every year. Plastic bags often wash into waterways where they flow out to sea and are blamed for killing marine life.
A poll on Adams’ blog shows that 65 percent of Portlanders feel that Portland should “enact a ban and only allow the use of biodegradable plastic bags.”
Internationally, Bangladesh, South Africa, Rwanda, Zanzibar, the island of Corsica and the Indian state of Maharashtra (which includes Mumbai, the most populous city in India) have also instituted bans on the use of plastic bags. Paris, parts of Western Canada and south Australia are also considering bans. Ireland instituted a 15 cent “plastax” on plastic bags in 2002, which cut their use by 90% and has raised millions of euros in revenue, according to the Christian Science Monitor and other press sources.
While Eugene does not have a policy on the use of plastic grocery bags, locally-owned PC Market of Choice offers 5 cents back for reusing bags, as does Sundance Natural Foods. Sundance does not provide plastic bags for its customers and said the store sells cloth bags at a low mark-up to encourage their use. Customers using their own cloth bags also receive 5 cents back.
In 2005, a 15 cent tax on each plastic bag used by a consumer at a grocery store, convenience store, service station or other retail grocery outlet was proposed in the Oregon House of Representatives. However, according to the Northwest Grocery Association website, the group “firmly opposed the bill and worked with key members of the House Revenue Committee to keep the bill from moving forward.” — Camilla Mortensen
NO POLICE REVIEW FOR CYCLIST
A Critical Mass cyclist says the formation of a Civilian Review Board will not provide closure to his concerns with the conduct of the Eugene Police Department (EPD).
Josh Schlossberg alleged in an email that as a result of incidents involving EPD officers during Critical Mass bike rides, “I have an injured vertebrae, from police pulling me off my bike and throwing me to the pavement, and an unjust traffic ticket on my previously spotless record.”
Schlossberg says he was told that his case is not eligible for review as the new system was not in place at the time he filed his complaint in November 2006.
In 2005, Eugene voters approved the appointment of a police auditor and review board after former police officers Roger Magaña and Juan Lara were convicted of sex crimes. Auditor Cris Beamud was appointed in mid-October of 2006. Along with Beamud, the review board will provide comment on police department investigations into allegations of misconduct by police officers.
However, the ordinance empowering Beamud did not take effect until January 15, 2007. And the city did not appoint the review board until April 9. This is too late for Schlossberg. By the time Beamud and the review board are in place, the six-month statute of limitations on complaints of police misconduct will have run out.
In one of the incidents involving Schlossberg, the cyclist alleges Officer Carolyn Mason ticketed him for running a red light after he entered an intersection as the light turned yellow. Schlossberg alleged that when the case was dealt with in Lane County Circuit Court, Officer Mason committed perjury on the stand. However, EPD Internal Affairs conducted an investigation and found the officer did not commit any perjury.
Beamud said that the review board “cannot intake a matter already investigated.” She added, “We cannot function as an appeal for a finding from Internal Affairs.”
Schlossberg wrote, “I felt I was illegally targeted by the Eugene Police Department (EPD) for participating in Critical Mass bike rides to demonstrate a cyclist’s right to the road.” — Camilla Mortensen
FILL IN THE BLANK
WAND will sponsor a march on Saturday, April 14 declaring “I’d rather pay for (you fill in the blank) than war!”
For several years, WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), has been educating citizens on the “Federal Budget Pie,” a graphic presentation of how U.S. tax dollars are spent. The military budget has been at 53 percent, a huge “slice of the pie,” and when seen as a pie chart, really drives home the point that our military is getting the majority of our money, according to WAND.
Some groups have now counted the Iraq War (which was off-budget and in the billions of dollars) into the mix, and now the percentage stands at 59 percent.
WAND’s educational campaign has recently gone more mainstream with Ben and Jerry’s “American Pie” ice cream showing the federal budget pie on the ice cream container and offering educational literature along with it.
WAND and Taxes for Peace Not War are organizing a march, which will begin at 10:30 am. The march starts at the IRS building at 300 Country Club Road and goes to the Free Speech Plaza at 8th and Oak in Eugene. The 1.25-mile walk will all be on sidewalks. Signs will be available for participants to fill in saying what they would rather pay for than war.
The now traditional tax day “Penny Poll” outside the downtown Eugene post office has been moved up from Tuesday to Monday, April 16, from 11 am to 5 pm. The event is organized by Taxes for Peace Not War.
NATIVES VS. NON-NATIVES
Registration is in progress for “Native Plants and Permaculture: A Gathering of Plant Enthusiasts,” to be held May 11-13 at Lost Valley Educational Center in Dexter.
Permaculturists, landscape designers, naturalists and conservationists will come together to share perspectives on indigenous and exotic plants, including human uses and ecological relationships. Presentations and panels will address such topics as “Sustainable Approaches to Ecological Restoration,” “Wildcrafting Weeds in the Pacific Northwest,” “Finding Common Ground,” “Substituting Natives for Non-natives in Home Landscapes,” “Indigenous Land Management,” “Restoring Native Food Crops,” and more.
The conference was the idea of Sharon Blick, executive director of the School Garden Project. The project encourages school gardens to use “permaculture.” Permaculture is a design system that emphasizes producing food locally with minimal outside inputs while maintaining healthy ecosystems. The system also avoids planting invasive, non-native plants. Blick noticed that some permaculture books advocate “non-native plants that the Native Plant Society says to avoid.”
While most permaculturists value native plants, there is a wide range of opinion within the movement on the topic of invasives. To quote one presenter, “Some people would say we should never plant them; others would use them with care and monitoring (and control if necessary); others would encourage plants, or other organisms, to go feral if they felt they were useful additions (for human use) to the local ecosystem.” Another presenter, an outspoken critic of what he terms the “pseudoscience” of invasion biology, will speak on “Incorporating Non-natives into Restoration Projects.” Conference organizer Chris Roth says, “The discussion of the interplay between permaculture and conservation of native ecology promises to be fascinating.”
The registration fee is $90 for the full weekend. Daily registration is available, as are meals, lodging, and camping. Visit www.lostvalley.org/nature2007mayfor a wealth of information about the conference related articles and links or to register online. — Rachel Foster
CONNECTING THE DOTS
What are the underlying reasons for ongoing war in the Middle East? A free forum on the UO campus Monday, April 16, will look at the politics of oil, the impact of 9/11 and building unity for peace.
The forum beings at 7 pm in PLC hall Room 180, at 14th and Kincaid, and is co-sponsored by the UO Survival Center, the 9/11 Network and www.oilempire.us
“Connect the Dots” presenters will be Ted Duggan, a political science graduate student who lived in Saudi Arabia, talking about “Oil and the Neo-cons’ Plans.” Mark Robinowitz, publisher of www.oilempire.us,will discuss “9/11 and Peak Oil Wars.” Clay Grantham, a sociology graduate student, will present “From Despondency to Activism: Building Networks of Unity.”
Some of the core issues that will be addressed include Vice President Cheney’s plan to reshape a “new Middle East” by using ethnic conflict to redraw national boundaries to control the oil fields, true and false evidence for 9/11 complicity, and the potentials for unity between social movements (peace, environment, civil liberties and other solidarity efforts).
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Manasha Forest Management Services (688-1900) will ground spray 2,610 acres with Triclopyr Ester; and Arsenal herbicides plus oil for Rosboro Lumber Company(746-8411) near Deadwood between Deadwood Creek Road and West Fork Road, and near Greenleaf-Deadwood (Lake, Hula, Chappell and Johnston Creeks) above Highway 36 starting April 16th or earlier if granted a waiver of waiting period by OR Dept. of Forestry (No. 50397).
• Call OR Dept. of Forestry: Ole Buch at 935-2283 or Jim Hall at 997-8713.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Our March 22 story on Hynix emissions (“Acidic Air”) stated that the concentration of hydrogen fluoride that would be released by Hynix is 4.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This number is actually the acute concentration. Hynix says it will release a maximum chronic concentration of .3 micrograms per cubic meter.
• The date has been changed for the “Penny Poll” mentioned in last week’s Viewpoint “Taxes for Peace II.” The new date is Monday, April 16. The event will be at the downtown post office from 11 am to 5 pm.
The city now stands on the brink of sinking $50 million in public subsidies into private developer’s plans to remake downtown with almost no public involvement or information. Can you think of something better to spend money on than cement parking garages? Do you want Eugene’s downtown to reflect Eugene? Call the city manager, mayor and council (682-5010) to let them know what you think before it’s too late.
Attention has focused on sleek and elegant new designs for the I-5 replacement bridge across the Willamette River. But what about the old bridge? How about a hanging garden? Shelburne Falls, Mass. converted an old bridge to a “bridge of flowers” and a major tourist attraction. Cover the old I-5 span with dirt, and Eugene could have an even bigger hanging garden and tourist attraction. The bridge is plenty sturdy for a garden, already has ramp access and could be connected to the bike path; ODOT would do a lot more environmental damage ripping it down than just leaving it up as a hanging park.
Oregon’s livability, environment and rural scenery are threatened by the thousands of sprawling subdivisions, gravel pits and shopping malls unleashed by Measure 37. Some of the proposed legislative “fixes” could make the disaster worse by resolving outstanding legal uncertainties in the law in favor of quick development. Now is the time for citizens to reclaim their state from the developers. Measure 37 opponents plan to rally against Measure 37 on Sat., April 14 from 10 am to 2 pm on the Capitol steps in Salem with buses leaving earlier from Eugene. Call 431-7059 or visit www.fix37.orgfor information.
Naked tree huggers? Letter-writer Dan Owen in our March 29 issue complained about our sexual content and suggested we might as well “stop the pretense and go ahead and have a center fold.” Maybe run photos of naked women hugging trees. Foolishly, we tacked on a note saying: “Great idea.” Well, photos are coming in of naked women and men, and yep, they’re hugging trees. Some are old photos, some are new; some black and white, some color. The quality varies, and color is rarely available in this section of the paper, so we’ve decided to put them on our website for the best viewing. Look for them at www.eugeneweekly.com— and send us more.
Bike along the Fern Ridge path this spring and listen to the West Eugene wetlands. A meadowlark flutes a twitter. “Biscuit-eater!” sings a red-wing blackbird. A cloud of geese cackles and circles overhead. On a log sits a silent pond turtle. Snowy egrets and great blue heron tiptoe through the marshes, spearing frogs that won’t join the chorus tonight. Grasses sway in the freshly washed breeze. Now think of what this would have been like with a freeway through it. Smile at progress.
Gov. Kulongoski added another star to his legacy of judicial appointments last Monday in Salem with the investiture of Tim Sercombe to the Oregon Court of Appeals. A 1976 graduate of the UO law school, Sercombe first practiced in Eugene, honing his skills in land use and government law. He moved to Portland more than 15 years ago, continuing to practice in those specialties, even serving as president of the board of 1000 Friends of Oregon. Justice Sercombe was “robed” by his wife, Jane Van Boskirk, a former Eugene actress still famous for her one-woman shows depicting Eleanor Roosevelt, stalwart pioneer women, and others. One dismal fact repeated in the otherwise joyous swearing-in of the new judge: Oregon is the 50th state in salaries paid to its judges.
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
When her best friend became pregnant at age 19, South Eugene grad Iris Bicksler wanted to help. “I called a midwifery school in town and learned about becoming a doula,” she says. Doula is a new word for the ancient practice of women supporting other women through pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. A midwife works with the physical side of birth while a doula provides emotional and educational support. “I did the training and became a birth junkie,” says Bicksler, who was also pursuing a women’s studies degree at the UO. “I helped with friends and worked for free with teen clients.” She married Ben Dechter, now a third-grade teacher, in 2000, and gave birth at home to their kids Sophia and Lucas. “Giving birth and being a mom helps me connect with the women I work with,” she says. In 2004, Bicksler joined with doulas Shea Hardy, Bess Day, and Lisa Rignell to found Doulas Supporting Teens, a nonprofit group that collaborates with teen parent programs in five local schools. “We also offer a mentorship program,” says Bicksler. “Three of our teen parents have become doulas.”