News Briefs: Police Stymie Independent Taser Probe | CPA Critical of Cop Move | Plant Fair Benefits Master Gardeners | StoryCorps Comes to Downtown | Activist Alert | Springene Scene | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Police Stymie Independent Taser Probe
In an apparent violation of the City Charter, Eugene police have refused to allow an independent investigator of a Taser incident to interview police officers, causing the frustrated investigator to resign.
Eugene Police Auditor Dawn Reynolds said the private investigator she hired to investigate a Tasering incident at a May 30 protest last year has resigned due to a number of “ethical and practical” concerns. The investigator, Joyce Naffziger, declined comment and referred questions to Reynolds.
A Eugene City Charter amendment passed overwhelmingly by voters requires the city to hire an independent auditor with the power to “participate in investigative interviews” and “contract with persons or entities to perform outside investigations.”
Reynolds described Naffziger’s concerns as including:
• The police union and command staff would not allow her to directly interview officers involved in the incident.
• She could be sued by the police union, and the city wouldn’t insure or defend her.
• She could be called to testify in civil lawsuits.
• The City Council majority has unworkable and unclear restrictions on public records.
• The City Council has unworkable and unclear demands requiring the auditor function to get council approval on all “substantive” decisions.
“She felt like she was wearing too many hats and had too many restrictions to be independent,” Reynolds said.
“I feel really crushed,” said Day Owen about the investigator’s resignation. Owen alleges police assaulted and falsely arrested him at the anti-pesticide protest. “I had hopes for justice.”
“I’m not going to attempt to hire another investigator,” Reynolds said. She said she will try to do her own investigation by reviewing police documents and a transcript of the recent criminal trial of Taser victim Ian Van Ornum.
Reynolds said the interview issue is the subject of a formal union grievance that has not been resolved by the city. She said the liability issue might later be resolved by hiring a part-time staffer protected from liability like other city employees.
Reynolds said she’s trying to talk to the city attorney and city councilors to resolve the practical considerations of the council’s restrictions on auditor action, independence and public records. The police Citizens Review Board has written a letter to the Eugene City Council calling the restrictions “unworkable,” “obviously illegal” and a “direct rebuke to the will of the overwhelming majority of Eugene voters.”
Naffziger did several days’ work on the case, but waived her fees, Reynolds said. Reynolds praised her ethics and qualifications. She said Naffziger has decades of experience working for defense attorneys on high-profile investigations for federal and state murder trials. “She said they’re easier than this,” said Reynolds. — Alan Pittman
CPA Critical of Cop Move
The longtime activist group Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) has taken a stand on a proposed police facility on Country Club Road, calling for a public hearing before the Eugene City Council. The Steering Committee statement was dated April 21.
On the issue of co-location of city offices, CPA says, “Voters have three times rejected proposals for a police headquarters separate from City Hall; we believe that citizens do not want the inefficiencies associated with dispersing key administrative offices throughout the city.”
Regarding the earthquake and “protecting essential services” arguments, CPA says, “The city owns many buildings that provide essential fire and police services. The council and the public should have available a complete inventory of such facilities, and the costs involved in upgrading from the ‘life safety’ to ‘continuing service’ engineering standards, in order to assess funding priorities.”
Regarding the Eugene/Springfield Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan of 2005, CPA says, “It does not appear that the Country Club Road proposal is informed by any such planning activity. It is in a low-lying area that was lightly developed until the completion of federal flood control dams on the Willamette River in the 1960s. The Mitigation Plan identifies those dams as seismically under-engineered and potentially subject to failure or loss of service following an earthquake.” Concerning potential flooding and bridge damage, CPA questions locating EPD “across the river from the majority of the population.”
Plant Fair Benefits Master Gardeners
The OSU Extension Service Master Gardener program has been selected to receive a portion of the proceeds from the Oregon Plant Fair this year. The event is sponsored by Avid Gardeners and the Willamette Valley District Garden Clubs, and runs from 8 am to 3 pm Saturday, May 9, at the Alton Baker Park shelters. The event will include art and food vendors, as well as specialty nursery growers from Oregon and Washington.
“For decades, the OSU Master Gardener program and volunteer service in our community have been invaluable — and vital,” says Alice Doyle, an Avid Gardeners board member and co-owner of Log House Plants in Cottage Grove. “Funding is uncertain at this point,” she says. “With budget cuts, this program is under siege and we all need to rally in support.”
Ross Penhallegon, Lane County Extension horticulture agent, says, “We’re one of the major sources of gardening information in Lane County.” For more than 30 years, the Master Gardener volunteers have served neighborhoods and rural districts with horticultural education.
Master Gardener volunteers will be on hand with a booth at the Plant Fair to answer questions about plant care, particularly vegetable gardening. They will offer information about composting, adaptive gardening, food storage and preservation, sustainable gardening and the GrassRoots Garden.
Mary-Kate Mackey, gardening writer and Avid Gardener board member, says, “With a renewed interest in home vegetable gardens — the most since WWII — we need Master Gardeners now more than ever.” She calls the volunteers “walking gold mines of horticultural know-how. If they don’t know an answer, they know where to find it.”
Since its inception in 1976, the OSU Master Gardener program has been a leader in sustainable gardening practices. “We have helped people save money, learn how to garden and avoid pesticide problems,” says Pat Patterson, who has been involved in the Oregon Master Gardener program from the beginning. “I’ve seen the Master Gardeners change hundreds of lives for the better. We’ve had a tremendous impact on the community.”
The Master Gardener program trains gardeners across Canada and the U.S. to become horticulture experts. These specialists then relay their knowledge through volunteerism, such as garden lectures, exhibits, school and community gardening and a variety of other activities. “We answer about 12,000 calls a year,” Penhallegon says.
For more information email email@example.com or call 682-4243. — Karlee Patton
StoryCorps Comes to Downtown
Public radio station KLCC is hosting StoryCorps during its three-week stay in Eugene as it tours the U.S. to record stories of everyday Americans. Opening day is May 7.
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project in partnership with NPR and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
KLCC will air a selection of the local stories and create special programs around the project. Selected segments may also air nationally on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
The StoryCorps MobileBooth is an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio and will be parked at Kesey Plaza, at Broadway and Willamette. The booth will be open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9 am to 7 pm Saturday and, Sunday.
Interviews are conducted between two people who know and care about each other. A trained facilitator guides the participants through the interview process and at the end of a 40-minute session, the participants walk away with a CD of their interview. With their permission, a second copy becomes part of an archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
For reservations, call (800) 850-4406 or visit www.klcc.org at 10 am on April 23 and May 8. A tour of the booth and a short talk will be at 11:30 am Thursday, May 7.
• The West Eugene Collaboration is holding public presentations reporting on the WEC’s “New Vision for West Eugene.” The first will be at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 7, at the Fern Ridge Public Library in Veneta. The next will be at 6:30 pm Tuesday, May 12, at the Eugene Public Library in Eugene. Presenters will include Mayor Kitty Piercy, Councilor Chris Pryor and Jan Wostmann of the Neighborhood Leaders Council.
• The Global Oneness Project will be in Eugene Thursday, May 7, hosting a free film event showing “creative and courageous people who are working in the fields of sustainability, conflict resolution, spirituality, art, economics, indigenous culture and social justice from every continent.” Speakers include filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and community organizer Orland Bishop. The gathering begins at 5:30 pm and films and conversation will run from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at Cozmic Pizza, 199 W. 8th. For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org
• The UNESCO Chairs Conference is at the UO May 8-12 (see News Briefs last week). Public presentations will be from 10:30 am to 5 pm Friday. Yale professor Mary Evelyn Tucker will talk on “The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology” at 7:30 pm Saturday. See http://unesco.uoregon.edu or email email@example.com
• HIV Alliance’s annual RiverWalk is at 10 am Saturday, May 9, at Alton Baker Park. Check-in begins at 9 am. The memorial walk and community awareness event will highlight the 15th anniversary of HIV Alliance, including past accomplishments, present work and future opportunities. Registration is at www.riverwalk09.eventbrite.org and more information is at www.hivalliance.org
• The 10th annual Million Mom March is at 2:30 pm Sunday, May 10, at EWEB Plaza, 500 E. 4th Ave. The theme is “Guns are not good for children and other living things.” Mayor Kitty Piercy will speak, music will be provided by Kambuko Steel Band and a 1-mile walk along the bike path to Owen Rose Garden will be led by a bagpiper. For information, call 344-9343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Beyond Growth, a Forum on Ecological Economics, will be at 7 pm Monday, May 11, at PLC 180 on the UO campus. Speakers include Rob Dietz, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (www.steadystate.org). The event is sponsored by the UO Sociology Department and www.oilempire.us
• A joint forum for 4J and LCC board candidates will be from 6 to 8 pm Tuesday, May 12, at
Cesar Chavez Elementary School, 1510 West 14th Ave. The event is sponsored by CAUSA, Amigos Multicultural Center, Pan Asian Community Alliance, NAACP, Basic Rights Oregon, Back to Back: Allies for Human Dignity and LaneBus Project. The election is May 19.
• Indigenous leader and human rights activist Haunani Kay-Trask will be speaking at 7 pm Wednesday, May 13, at Gerlinger Lounge at the UO campus. The event, hosted by the UO Multicultural Center and the UO Women’s Center, addresses indigenous sovereignty and land rights in Hawaii, touching on how their struggles are intimately related to those of other indigenous peoples.
Samuel Nathan Kline, age 3, stops to inspect the “Flows to the Willamette River” sign on the sidewalk. Sam, out for a daily stroll with his 13-month-old brother Zachary, counts the signs and talks about why it’s important for people to not put waste down the drain. Sam is the son of Roger and Dena Kline and the photo was taken by the Klines on West D Street in Springfield, across from Alton Baker Park, on a family walk to the Corner Garden to buy local vegetables and fruit.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,284 U.S. troops killed* (4,278)
• 31,230 U.S. troops injured* (31,215)
• 181 U.S. military suicides* (181)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 100,112 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (99,774)
• $665.9 billion cost of war ($663.8 billion)
• $189.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($188.8 million)
• 682 U.S. troops killed* (679)
• 2,807 U.S. troops injured* (2,792)
• $187.2 billion cost of war ($186.8 million)
• $53.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($53.1 million)
* through May 4, 2009; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.1 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Gypsy Moth Spraying (SE Eugene): Aerial spraying began April 30 and the next spray dates are May 7 and May 19, weather permitting. Health effects and social disruptions caused by the spraying are being collected and documented. Contact Lisa Warnes, vice-president of the SE Neighbors Association, at 484-2210.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• Ballots arrived this week for the May 19 elections. On the Eugene ballot will be contested races for 4J School Board Positions 2 and 3, and one contested Zone 4 LCC position. River Road residents will also find a five-year property tax levy on the ballot that would fund the River Road Park and Recreation District. Look for our endorsements next week. We’re holding off to see how the school board candidates perform under pressure in the Chamber/City Club forum this week (May 6) and the public forum at 6 pm Tuesday, May 12, at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
• Once upon a time three little Wolfie Blitzer-like pups built houses of howling hysteria. Swine! Swine! Swine! Each one bellowed until their ratings screamed over the quivering masked masses. But the pandemic turned out pan-anemic. More people drown in bathtubs. The virus did tire us. But the real damage was the howling. Will anyone believe them next time, even if the poking pig is real?
• Will the piggy flu hype benefit the local tincture industry? Swine flu prevention tips and remedies are spreading in Eugene and Springfield faster than the bacon bug itself. Herbal concoctions, pungent veggies, incantations, head gear, sinus hosing, money laundering, isolation chambers? What’s your preferred prevention or treatment tip? Email email@example.com or slip a sterilized note under our door.
• Battles over UO funding priorities have raged for years, and now some unnamed professors have started a blog at http://uomatters.com that examines the inequities that have led talented profs and even graduate teaching fellows to go elsewhere.
According to the blog, full professors at the UO make an average of $99,800, which is 81 percent of the national average at public and private universities. UO administrators, on the other hand, are paid 120 percent of their peers. The blog lists President Dave Frohnmayer’s compensation at $719,000, which is 150 percent of the national average. Provost Jim Bean is paid $320,700, which is 122 percent of the average. Vice Provost for Diversity Charles Martinez makes $187,000, which is 144 percent of the average. And these salary numbers might be low. The authors report having trouble getting access to UO public records on administration pay packages.
A few “scandals” are also published on the site. Provost Bean is on the record saying the UO’s Bend programs make “a slight profit,” but according to one analysis on the blog, “Bend has only 15 graduates per year and the program is losing about $1 million a year.”
The blog questions the oft-touted claim that UO athletics are self-supporting. And what about that contentious new White Stag sign in Portland? The blog asserts that the high cost of purchasing and remaking the sign will be paid not by specific benefactors but instead by general foundation funds “which could have instead be used to plug the budget gap.” Another page talks about the decision to spend $2.4 million on remodeling Johnson Hall, the administration building. Speculation can also be found on what kind of lucrative deal Frohnmayer will wrangle post-retirement.
Why is the blog anonymous? We hear some of the professors who provide the documentation are worried about retaliation, even though they are tenured. That’s an unhealthy sign at an institution that should stand as a paragon of academic freedom.
Underlying nearly all of the discussions on the blog are larger questions of governance and transparency. With Frohnmayer on the way out, this is a critical time to resolve some long-standing equity and fairness issues that are keeping the UO from being as academically strong and competitive as it can be.
• How’s Tsunami Books doing in this recession? We heard sales at the independent store at 25th and Willamette were down about 20 percent in recent months, but company President Scott Landfield tells us he’s hanging in there. Back in mid-April, Landfield sent out an email to customers and friends saying the store has a “maxed-out line of credit,” and “there is no room to breathe … I am presently managing the business alone, working the usual 75-plus hours necessary to keep the place afloat.” He offered the remaining 13 shares for sale at $500 per share, and it looks like most, if not all, have been taken. Over the past 13 years the store has sold about $2 million worth of books, mostly used, and hosted more than 1,500 events — everything from folk music to political gatherings. This is the kind of local business we all need to support.
• The war in Afghanistan/Pakistan is heating up, so in our “War Dead” box we are adding statistics from Afghanistan, including U.S. dead, injured and the cost in dollars to taxpayers. The total costs of war cannot be calculated in a box, of course. War costs have to include long-term human suffering in its myriad forms, the destruction of social and political systems, environmental and infrastructure degradation and economic damage from squandered resources and war profiteering.