Eugene Weekly : News : 6.7.07

News Briefs: Eco-Warrior Jeffrey LuersButte Bombers‘Fixing’ Measure 37From Pit to Shining PitWar StatsEW Takes 18 AwardsLane County Herbicide Spray ScheduleCorrections/Clarifications |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Hard Time

Eco-saboteurs may face high security prisons

EPD Unaccountable

Council votes against external investigation of sex scandal

Toxic Trainyards

Spill fumes in crawlspaces worry residents

Happening Person:
Cheryl Lemmer


Jeffrey “Free” Luers, August 2005

The case of environmental activist Jeffrey “Free” Luers has drawn the attention of activists both locally and worldwide since he was imprisoned in 2000, and every year protests and other events mark the anniversary of his imprisonment. This year’s Day of Solidarity with Luers, the “Jeff Luers 7th Anniversary Event,” includes music, a showing of the documentary How I Became an Eco-Warrior and presentations on “green scare” sentencing hearings and Luers’ appeal. The event is at 7 pm Wednesday, June 13 at Cozmic Pizza. $5 suggested donation.

Earlier this year the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed Luers’ 22-year, eight-month sentence for setting fire to three SUVs at the Joe Romania Chevrolet dealership and attempted arson at the Tyree Oil depot. The court upheld the 2001 charges, but overruled the merger of some of his arson convictions. Luers will get a new sentence with a possible 10-12 year reduction.

Jeffrey Luers’ supporters at find his original sentence harsh, pointing out that no people were harmed and damages were moderate – less than $50,000. Supporters claim his political views and not his actions were on trial. “We believe that Jeff received such a drastic sentence because of the political nature of the action he took,” reads a statement on the Jeff Luers Support Group webpage. They point out that more severe crimes result in shorter sentences.

Prosecutors viewed Luers as an eco-terrorist who lacks remorse and whose crimes could have led to more severe damage and even loss of life.

Luers’ co-defendant, Craig “Critter” Marshall, pleaded guilty to charges related to the Romania fire and was released on parole after serving four and a half years. — Erin Rokita



Bombing down a steep hill at 50 mph in the dark on a bicycle sized for a 5-year-old may sound crazy. But not if you’re Josh Dallman, 27.

“It’s a total rush,” says Dallman of screaming along inches from the ground.

Dallman and a handful of friends have started a fledgling “Eugene Bomb aka U-Bomb” mini-bike club in Eugene to pursue the “extreme” downhill sport (

They’re not totally nuts. They wear full motorcycle helmets, gloves and some pads. They go late at night and favor quiet streets to avoid traffic, and they scope the pavement for hazards such as potholes and uneven pavement.

Dead-end Cleveland Street in southwest Eugene is a favorite with an “unbelievable drop,” Dallman said. But the website, complete with maps and ratings of the best bombs, also lists 30th Avenue and Willamette Street down from Spencer Butte.

There are accidents. Dallman’s friend hit a “gnarly” hole going 35 mph and broke his foot. “The pothole gobbled him up,” Dallman said. He said he heard that an earlier group of hill bombers near Laurelwood Golf Course disbanded after a rider broke a limb.

Dallman said he developed his bombing first in Portland, where a “Zoobomb” group uses the Max train as a chairlift to bomb a hill down from the Portland Zoo. On June 17, Dallman said he and a friend (the one with the healing foot) plan to bike 100 miles to Portland on their tiny bikes and then join a 100 mile Zoobomb century there of 8 to 14 hours of hill bombing.

Dallman says he does worry about speeding tickets in Eugene. The police “have definitely checked us out, but they’ve never harassed us,” he said. The group tries to be courteous to neighbors on the quiet residential streets to avoid complaints, he said.

“Safety third is our slogan,” Dallman said. The first two rules being “bomb and bomb,” he said. But Dallman said, “We try to be pretty safe, because we’re going 50 mph.” He laughed, “We take it pretty seriously, it’s definitely a religious experience when you go down.” — Alan Pittman




The Oregon Legislature is preparing to refer to voters in the fall a measure that would scale back rural development under Measure 37, according to Jim Just of the Goal One Coalition, a statewide land-use watchdog group with an office in Eugene (“While Republicans and property rights groups are vociferously opposed to the ‘fix,’ in reality the voters would once again be asked to endorse an extreme and radical regulatory takings measure,” says Just. “But this time, if ratified, Democrats and progressive forces would own it.”

Just says one of the overlooked provisions of the “fix” is the complete exemption of farm and forest practices from the 10 percent (25 percent over five years) “loss-of-value threshold that triggers compensation.” This means, he says, that “it will be impossible in Oregon to address global warming by regulating farm and forest practices to increase or maximize CO2 sequestration or by limiting energy-guzzling, emissions-spewing development patterns.”

Republicans in Salem have advocated leaving Measure 37 alone. On the Democratic side of the aisle, discussion has centered on whether to try to repair inequities in the legislation and reduce its environmental impact, or simply send the entire measure back to the voters, gambling that it will be overturned.




A free guided tour of downtown Eugene areas near West Broadway being considered for redevelopment is planned to begin at 5:30 pm Friday, June 15, starting outside the Eugene Public Library. The “Pit to Pit Walk” is sponsored by Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) and will include discussion of the two excavated lots known locally as the Sears Pit across from the library and Aster’s Hole on Willamette.

The tour is expected to draw architects, designers, city representatives, business people and interested citizens. Public participation and input are encouraged.

The walk “will provide a lively, informal venue for talking about factors in downtown redevelopment such as public space, retail mix and local business, housing options and affordability, historic preservation, and sustainability,” according to a statement from CPA.

For more information or to get on the CPA e-mail list, contact




Iraq War statistics as of June 4 include 3,495 U.S. military deaths, 111 U.S. military suicides, 25,242 U.S. military wounded, 398 military contractor deaths and 64,776 to 70,934 Iraqi civilian deaths due to warfare. Cost of the war is calculated at $431.7 billion. Sources are and and


Eugene Weekly won a record 18 regional and state Excellence in Journalism awards for stories published in 2006, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced June 2 in Vancouver, Wash.

EW won nine awards in the Northwest region SPJ contest for alternative newsweeklies and nine awards in the Greater Oregon SPJ contest for non-daily newspapers.

Kera Abraham won two awards in the Northwest contest and four awards in the Oregon contest. In the Northwest competition, she won a first place government reporting award for “An Unwelcome No,” about the prosecution of a woman who spoke out at a Dick Cheney rally. She also won a first place social issues journalism award for “Flames of Dissent,” a series on environmental arsonists. In the Oregon contest, Abraham won a second place news feature award for “Flames of Dissent.” She won three third place awards including: comprehensive coverage in “The Battle of Biscuit,” about salvage logging; a profile of Charles Gray, “Peace Through Poverty”; and for science and health reporting for “Skeeter Heater: Mosquitoes Adapt to Global Warming.”

Alan Pittman won four awards in the Northwest contest. He won a first place environmental journalism award for “Boom! Who are the Real Terrorists?” and a first place business reporting award for “Which Way on Broadway.” He won a second place award for investigative reporting for “Besmirched: Files Show How EPD Failed to Stop Magaña,” and he won a third place education reporting award for “Deadbeat Legislature.” In the Oregon non-daily contest, Pittman won a third place investigative reporting award for “Besmirched.”

Suzi Steffen won three awards in the Northwest contest. She won a third place education reporting award for “School de Verano,” a third place criticism award for “This Thing Called Infamous” and a business journalism honorable mention for “Labor’s Day.” In the Oregon non-daily contest Steffen also won a second place arts and criticism award for her “This Thing Called Infamous” film review.

EW also won three other Oregon non-daily contest awards. Todd Cooper won a second place, page one design award for “Doomed to Demo.” Jason Blair won a third place arts and criticism award for “The Time of No Time,” a book review of The Road. The EW editorial and art departments also won a third place award for general excellence.

Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule

Near Mohawk High School and Walterville schools: Weyerhaeuser Company (741-5211) will be spraying roadsides with 2,4-D LV6, Garlon 4 and 3A, Milestone, Accord, Escort XP, Chopper herbicides plus Hasten, Competitor, Induce and R-11 adjuvants on 10 miles of roads near Cartwright, Lane, Taylor and McKenzie River tributaries starting June 11 (No. 771-55545, 55546, and 55547). Call Jeft Yost at Weyerhaeuser, or Tim Meehan at Oregon Department of Forestry at 726-3588.

Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332,



• In our Summer Guide May 31, the 4th of July Freedom Festival at Alton Baker Park was incorrectly listed as free. Admission is $6 for adults and $1 for children 6-11 years old.

• Our April 26 Chow listed an outdated location for the Boba Bubble mobile tea cart. The cart, operated by Colin Albi, a South Eugene High School student, is now located at Sunrise Oriental Market on 29th near Willamette.

• In our May 31 visual arts story on an exhibit of UO MFA candidates’ work, one of the artist’s names was incorrect. Patience Wyman created “nullus titulus.”




The passage of HB 3337 by the Oregon Senate last week means the Homebuilder Association’s bill trashing local metro planning and forcing Eugene to do a premature and expensive buildable lands inventory is going to the gov, and he’s expected to sign it. Might not be too late to call Kulongoski’s office at (503) 378-4582 or send him an email via Floyd Prozanski stood his ground in the Senate and represented the best practices in land-use planning, along with Kurt Schrader of Canby. What happened to Vicki Walker? She really let Eugene down on this one. Bill Morrisette has been firmly behind this flawed legislation, lately justifying his support by saying the Eugene council was split on the issues of an early lands inventory. That’s an absurd argument. So Eugene should go to the Legislature to reverse Springfield on some of its split-vote decisions? What we’re learning from all this is that the Homebuilders Association is trying to become the new timber industry in terms of political clout. Shame on you, Springfield, for being led by the nose. Don’t be shocked when your taxes go up to pay for sprawl.

Repeal the gas tax in Eugene? Gas station owners are leading the charge to put the city’s new 3-cent per gallon gas tax to a vote, and at the same time eliminate the last 2-cent tax hike. People filling up in Eugene would pay 3 cents instead of 8 cents if the initiative goes on the ballot and passes. Not a good idea, unless backers come up with a better plan to fix potholes and repair other street problems that tend to multiply when ignored. The city’s new gas tax is not perfect by any analysis, but it is relatively fair and equitable. And higher gas prices tend to encourage less driving and better vehicle choices.

FBI crime statistics are out for 2006 in Portland, Eugene and Salem this week, but it’s best not to take the FBI’s conclusions at face value. The FBI Portland Field Office says, “Eugene saw a 12.8 percent increase in violent crime and an 18.06 decrease in property crimes in 2006 compared to 2005.” But in the actual statistics, murders dropped from five to three, and forcible rape dropped from 54 to 44. Aggravated assault is the only statistic that skewed the numbers, rising from 119 to 155. The report also concludes that Salem saw a 3.09 percent decrease in violent crimes, and yet murders jumped from three to nine and forcible rape jumped from 53 to 74. Robbery and aggravated assault numbers dropped. Watch out for statistics; they can be used to support just about any agenda. Meanwhile, are you living in Eugene and thinking about moving to Salem? You are significantly less likely to have your car stolen or your home burgled, but you are more likely to get raped or murdered. As the police sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there.”

A blogger who says his name is Steve and claims he’s a UO grad and “software nerd” living in Portland has taken a fancy to EW letters to the editor. Check out for a snarky, conservative response to our reader’s views. He calls EW “a weekly ‘newspaper’ put out by the intellectual elite of Eugene,” and says our letters are “hilarious.” “Eugene is filled with actual hippies, wannnabe hippies, poseur anarchists and filthy people who are so far to the left that Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich shy away from their support.” In response to a June 1 letter from Joshua Welch, the blogger writes, “This retard can’t comprehend that someone could possibly see things differently than himself, that some people might not think our being in Iraq is wrong.” In other comments he refers to all Eugene residents as “dipshits,” calls Whiteaker “Felony Flats” and says “99% of all Eugene Weekly readers are pot heads.” We can chuckle at his unconstructive name-calling (not so funny is his violation of our copyrighted content). But unlike our beloved letter writers, “Steve” is cowering behind anonymity. Anybody recognize this red-headed, clean-cut young Scorpio? Then again, “Steve” could be an 80-year-old, blue-haired church lady from Coburg. The word “dipshit” went out of style decades ago.

Quotable regarding Iraq: We have been led “into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. … Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows … We are today not far from a disaster.” — T. E. Lawrence, August 1920

Worried about measles? A viewpoint on measles by Dr. Sarah Hendrickson, Lane County’s public health officer, came in too late for this issue, but can be found at

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,




A native of Roselle, N.J., Cheryl Lemmer studied dance for two years at Ramapo College in her home state before heading west to Arizona at age 19. She ultimately found Eugene and completed a UO degree in dance in 1980. She also married John Lemmer and had a daughter, Jesse, in 1981. Since the mid-1980s, Lemmer has taught dance, from ballet to hip hop, and exercise classes all over town. “I’ve taught part-time at LCC for 20 years,” she notes. “I do Pilates here at In Shape and at the Pilates Center. I try to learn what’s new and teach the latest.” For 17 years, Lemmer has assisted her UO classmate Cindy Zreliak with the ZAPP Dance Company, a group that performs at local benefit events and goes on tour during the summer. “It’s a family affair,” she says: Jesse joined ZAPP when she was 8 and continued until she was 25, and John designs and builds the sets. Verna Reidy of Eugene is a regular in Lemmer’s Saturday morning aerobic dance class at In Shape. “Her exuberance and talent are infectious,” Reidy says. “My life would not be the same without her classes.”