Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
iPod to iDeaf
Will headphones cause hearing loss?
Who built the electric truck?
Professors cry foul at athletics decision
Like Cats and Dogs
Animal lovers fight over Greenhill
Happening Person: Sue Burgess
BURNING SMOKES OUT CITIZENS
Was there a tickle in the back of your throat last week? Field burning season began as scheduled after the Fourth of July and the first burn of the season went amiss.
The temperatures were heading up to 100 degrees last Tuesday when the smoke from a 55-acre field burn south of Harrisburg made its way into the lungs of Eugene residents.
The smoke blew out in the afternoon, but when winds shifted, it returned to the valley that evening.
According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), conditions were “optimal” at 11:40 am when the farmer’s burn was set. But the burn should have been set with “rapid ignition.” Instead, it began to smudge. Rather than blow out over the Coast Range as planned, the smoke headed to Eugene.
ODA and Lane Regional Air Regulation Authority (LRAPA) promptly received a large number of complaints. An email from Kathy Coba of the ODA blames the hundreds of complaints on “heightened awareness” of the issue “because of the legislation and debate on field burning.”
“If this is the agency in charge of the program, we are all in trouble. They allowed a burn knowing this was to be the hottest day of the year. How incredibly stupid,” says Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), one of the groups working to end field burning in Oregon.
Data collected on the LRAPA website from the day of the burn shows a spike over 10 parts per million (ppm) in the fine particulate matter at Amazon Park and at the downtown air quality monitoring stations.
A study by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says that increases over 10 ppm in fine particulate matter result in a significant increase in strokes.
Information from the Idaho report was sent by WELC to Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission, which is currently being asked to end field burning due to the health issues it causes for Oregonians.
Oregon Toxics Alliance and WELC will have a community meeting to discuss the effects of field burning and a possible lawsuit to stop burning at 7 pm on July 19 in the EWEB Community Room, 500 E. 4th Avenue, Eugene. For more information call 465-8860 or go to the www.oregontoxics.org website. — Camilla Mortensen
Plans to redevelop downtown Eugene with massive public subsidies are rolling forward with limited vocal opposition.
Councilor Bonny Bettman said she was “disappointed” that more opponents didn’t turn out for a July 16 public hearing before the council concerning part of the about $40 million in subsidies for developers.
“There’s really no awareness of what is going on,” Bettman said. “I can’t even describe how big of a mistake the city is making here,” she said. “It’s a monumental misappropriation of public tax dollars.”
Some of the subsidy for the high-end chain stores and their developers will come from federal funds dedicated to alleviating poverty. “We’re basically diverting that money from low-income needy people and giving it to speculators downtown like Connor-Woolley,” Bettman said. Tom Connor and Don Woolley own most of the redevelopment area and will profit from “overinflated land prices” they want the city to pay, Bettman said.
Bettman said the city’s argument that the spending is appropriate because the chain stores will provide poor people with retail jobs makes no sense. “They’re basically boasting there’s going to be these low-income service jobs available.”
Councilor Bettman also questions why the city should subsidize national chains, including a corporate arthouse theater, against local businesses. “How is the Bijou going to be able to continue to compete with a heavily publicly subsidized theater?” —Alan Pittman
RELAY FOR LIFE
Hundreds of local community members will take to the track July 27 to fight against cancer.
Teams of people will gather for the Eugene-Springfield Relay for Life and walk the track for a solid 24 hours. The walkers will support survivors and family members and friends of those who lost their lives to cancer. The goal is to have team members walking the entire time.
For local resident Kenny Gates, this marks the ninth year that his team will walk for a cure. In 1994 Gates and his wife lost their 10-year-old son Zachary Raymond to a rare form of brain cancer called glio fribroma. Shortly after their loss, they formed Zach’s team to raise cancer awareness and support for finding a cure. “We also, as always, walk for all who have battled or are battling this cruel disease,” Gates said.
The event will honor survivors during the Survivors Lap and will remember those whose lives were claimed by cancer during the Luminaria Ceremony.
Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the U.S. It is exceeded only by heart disease. In Oregon, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be 18,630 new cancer cases in 2007. The ACS further predicts 7,370 statewide cancer deaths this year. This year more than 23 countries will host Relay for Life events, drawing worldwide attention to cancer awareness.
The local event is sponsored by ACS’s Eugene-Springfield chapter and is an “overnight activity that mobilizes communities across the country to celebrate survivorship, remember those who lost their lives to cancer and raise money for the fight against cancer.”
The Eugene-Springfield Relay for Life is planned to begin at noon on Friday, July 27, at LCC.
For more information about the relay, see www.cancer.org — Erin Rokita
TRAINSONG’S POLLUTION PURGATORY
Union Pacific took one step closer to heeding public concerns about a railroad pollution plume at a meeting last Thursday.
Residents were pleased to learn the railroad will test 30 additional homes for toxic vapor contamination as opposed to the original six, but many agree the scope of testing and cleanup should be expanded even further.
“It seems clear that the intent of the railroad is to downplay the potential hazards and financial impacts of their pollution,” said Becky Riley. Riley is a longtime northwest Eugene resident and board member of the Railroad Pollution Coalition (RPC), a grassroots volunteer group of members from neighborhoods adjacent to the railyard and from the Oregon Toxics Alliance. Riley said the railroad should be more forthcoming about the potential health risks and “should compensate residents for lost property value.”
RPC wants the railroad to improve communication with area residents, including notifying renters and property owners of test results in a timely manner and developing a system to inform new residents about solvent contamination. Conducting more comprehensive tests to determine the full extent of contamination and more aggressively cleaning up the pollution should, in RPC’s view, be on the railroad’s list of priorities.
What’s more, residents in the River Road neighborhood over the solvent plume also have a right to be protected from contamination, Riley said. “I am not entirely convinced that the potential for crawl space contamination in River Road should be dismissed, at least not for every property, and not without more justification,” she commented in response to the state Superfund Health Investigation Program’s health assessment completed in May.
If vapor intrusion is of less concern in River Road, then the reasons “should be explained in the report, preferably with data to back up the reasoning,” Riley said.
SHINE’s health report concluded that crawlspace vapor contamination in many Trainsong homes presents a “public health hazard.” River Road was originally included in the report, but SHINE later declared this a mistake. Parts of the River Road neighborhood are, however, over the groundwater contamination plume.
According to Riley, before “dismissing potential risks of vapor intrusion in River Road,” more evidence is needed — Erin Rokita
A HempFest once threatened with closure by the cops will be held again in Washington-Jefferson Park this weekend.
The Emerald Empire HempFest was first held in 2003. Eugene police alleged that marijuana dealing was happening and objected to the event happening the next year. Organizers met with city officials and agreed to a strict no-tolerance drug policy (including for medical marijuana patients) for the HempFest as a condition for it continuing, according to an event press release.
The free HempFest, July 20-22, will include music, speakers and food and Hemp product vendors. It’s 4:20 (of course) pm to 10 pm Friday, noon to 10 pm Saturday and noon to 8 pm Sunday. Organizers point out the park is named after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two early hemp farmers.
Since the U.S. invasion began on March 20, 2003 (July 5 numbers in parentheses):
• 3,618 U.S. troops killed* (3,583)
• 26,558 U.S. troops injured*
• 287 Coalition troops killed* (281)
• 411 contractors killed** (404)
• 73,611 Iraqi civilians killed*** (73,120)
• $444 billion cost of war ($439.7 billion)****
* through July 17, 2007;
** partial estimate;
*** highest estimate;
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Weyerhaeuser – South Valley (744-4600) will aerially spray 258 acres with Garlon 4, XRT, Accord, Arsenal, Transline, Oust XP, Xtra, Chopper, and Escort herbicides plus Methylated Seed Oil, Support, Induce, and Activator 90 adjuvants near Long Tom River in Low Pass and near Post Creek in Blachly starting August 15th.
• Washburn Contract Services (503-831-1593) will spray roadsides with 2,4-D LV6, Oust, Escort, Glyphosate, and Milestone herbicides for Freres Timber (503-859-2121) starting July 25th.
Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Although Tom Kemper’s talk to the City Club last Friday was generally upbeat, he clearly was not happy that Beam Development has a little piece of the downtown project between Willamette and Charnelton. He left us wondering if his company, KWG Development Partners, will be able to pencil out its required 13 percent profit on the $150-$200 million combination of housing, retail and commercial development in this little burg south of KWG’s hometown Portland. His talk of a multi-screen cinema, boutique hotel, grocery store, nightclubs, lots of housing of all kinds and a mix of local and national retail was enticing. But if he can’t meet his bottom line, even with large subsidies, it’s important that KWG and our local media not lay the blame on local government. Our elected representatives will not be at fault. It’s the economy, stupid.
Meanwhile, the city is continuing to steamroll forward in its move to give Portland developers about $40 million in subsidies to redo downtown. The money could come in large part from diverting tax revenue from schools and federal money for the poor to subsidize high-end chain stores, developers and land speculators against local businesses. If you have an opinion on this plan, time is running out to make your voice heard.
The UO is now planning to build a $200 million basketball stadium, $5-$10 million baseball stadium and a big addition to its track complex all at the same time. Where will it end? Is an ice hockey arena next? Just think of what the UO’s struggling academic side could do if boosters and administrators invested just a fraction of that money in higher education.
The UO’s competitive cheerleading announcement is an insult to Title IX’s requirements of equal treatment for women’s sports. We’ll grant that cheerleading involves strenuous workouts, strength and coordination, but how about gymnastics or women’s crew instead? These are Olympic sports and don’t have their roots in boosting men’s sports. Of course, boosting men’s sports by meeting Title IX requirements as cheaply as possible is what the UO’s cheerleading plan is all about. And you can bet that sportswriters and columnists all over the country (especially at the R-G) would be screaming bloody murder if a plan to add women’s crew and gymnastics were “Title IX-balanced” by adding men’s competitive cheerleading. Title IX means equality in money, folks. Or did the men in the Athletic Department miss the “equal” part?
We’re glad all the Simpsons hoopla is over. We like the show and a good joke, but with the deluge of front page and other stories in the R-G, Oregonian, and papers around the country, you’d think these mainstream journalists have nothing better to do than promote the movie for the 20th Century Fox corporation. No wonder their readership is declining.
Some angry motorists and media have let loose with a backlash after the Legislature passed laws offering cyclists a small increase in protections from being roadkilled. Drivers need to recognize that cyclists are doing motorists a favor by reducing traffic jams, road taxes and pollution. What’s worse: A safe berth for the occasional cyclist, or all the tailgaters and crazy passers in speeding tons of metal?
Oregon’s Gov. Ted Kulongoski has gone on trade missions to China to promote the state’s grass seed industry. How about if the governor goes on a health mission to Lane County to talk to local people choking on the smoke and pollen from the industry he’s promoted?
Could have been some violations of the Oregon open meeting law last Saturday night at the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm in Pleasant Hill. Four of the five Lane County Commissioners were gathered together, but not a political or policy word was spoken — it was all fun. Pete Sorenson was commissioner-turned-bridegroom for the sparkling evening in the Oregon countryside on the river. He married Kim Leval, who works in the areas of sustainable agriculture and the environment. And all the local progressive policy wonks were there, so plenty of political and policy words had to be tossed around. Our words for the evening: Congratulations, Kim and Pete.
Two strong Democratic women state senators running against each other in ’08 to be Oregon Secretary of State doesn’t sound like a brilliant idea. That’s Vicki Walker from Eugene and Kate Brown from Portland, and right now heavy odds go to Brown because of her popularity in her population area. If Vicki loses, she still holds her state senate seat, but Kate has announced that she’s leaving the legislature. Barbara Roberts went from secretary of state to become the only Oregon woman governor so far and perhaps that progression could repeat in ’10. But Demo resources will be stretched so thin in ’08 that this primary fight is an extravagance. There’s still time to sort it out.
Have you been downtown lately? There’s good food and atmosphere at Davis’ restaurant and bar on Broadway. We like the restaurant’s efforts to fight obesity by offering half servings on nearly every item. And their booty-shaking dance floor is a welcome addition to the Olive and West Broadway nightlife scene. West on Broadway on the other side of the street, look in at The Moxie, a beauty salon and lounge, a combination that makes some kind of pampered sense. Check out Books Without Borders’ Harry Potter release party. Notice the new law offices going in where the Book Mark used to be. Go to the monthly Thursday science night sponsored by the Science Factory and OMSI at Luna. Drop in at the Oregon Wine Warehouse after work. And appreciate the brilliant flowers down there. What else? You tell us.
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
As a kid growing up in Eugene, Sue Burgess learned to raise dogs through the 4-H dog program. “Then I got into the 4-H guide dog program,” she says. “I raised guide dog puppies in ’72, ’74, and ’76.” After graduation from Willamette High, Burgess studied dog grooming at a local school. “I thought I would do it for a while, till I figured out what I really wanted,” she says. Since then, she has groomed dogs for vets and pet stores, owned a pet store, and worked as an independent dog groomer for the past 22 years, sharing space with fellow groomer Sheila Brown. In 2000, with her two kids nearly grown, Burgess contacted Guide Dogs for the Blind (guidedogs.com) and again began to raise guide dog puppies. “It’s a big commitment,” she says. “They’re with you 24/7, at the store, the bank, everywhere.” Her current guide-dog puppy, Prego, arrived from Guide Dogs breeders at eight weeks old last December. “I keep them 14 months,” she says. “They go on to guide-dog college to learn harness work. My first puppy, Falstaff, is now in Arizona, Noah’s in Georgia, and Benny will graduate tomorrow.”