News Briefs: DeFazio vs Secret Money, Moon Walkers | Ducks + Beer Ads = Riots | Heavy Haul Makes Headlines | Civic Stadium Documentary Gets Call-Up | Silverspots Siting Pretty | Activist Alert | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
DEFAZIO VS. SECRET MONEY, MOON WALKERS
There’s a little Tea Party weirdness coming to an election near you. Were you feeling jealous that Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell with her witchcraft and “self-love” issues was making all the headlines? Rest assured, Oregon’s got its own wingnut, spaceship to the moon not included.
In his efforts to beat feisty — heck, we’ll even steal a Palin-ism and call him a little mavericky — Peter DeFazio in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, Art Robinson has been trotting out moon-walking astronauts and resorting to mud slinging — a recent campaign email alleges DeFazio supporters have been stealing Robinson’s lawn signs and car magnets. And now there’s the issue of the secret campaign cash.
Robinson, a scientist and hawker of Christian home schooling kits — he’s dropped the august Dr. Arthur B. Robinson to seem a little more down home and mavericky himself — has suddenly received the backing of shadowy group called “the Concerned Tax Payers of America.” The group has shelled out about $165,000 in attack ads against DeFazio in the past two weeks, but thanks to the controversial “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that allows corporations to give unlimited contributions as long as they are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign, no one knows who these D.C.-based folks are.
The ads contend that DeFazio has been in league with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but she’s someone whose legislative priorities DeFazio has sometimes opposed. Robinson has tried to paint DeFazio as a Washington insider who needs to go, but Oregon voters haven’t yet forgotten when DeFazio was called out by President Obama for his “no” vote on the stimulus package in February, “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother,” Obama said to DeFazio at the time.
In a letter to the “Concerned Taxpayers” on Sept. 24, DeFazio wrote, “Since you intend to try and buy Art Robinson a congressional seat, by raising and spending ‘unlimited amounts of money,’ the voters of Oregon are entitled to know who is picking up the tab.”
DeFazio went with reporters from The Washington Post and Huffington Post to the D.C. office of the obscure group, and a man named Michael Omegna, who denied have any affiliation with the group or knowing Jason Miller, the group’s treasurer, answered the door. You can see the video at http://wkly.ws/so
It was later revealed that Omegna was lying. Miller said he “misspoke.”
Miller is a Washington insider and has the dubious distinction of, among his many political posts, having been the campaign manager for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Sanford is best known for saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail in the summer in 2009, when he actually flew to Argentina to cheat on his wife.
Robinson and DeFazio will be participating in forums Oct. 18 in Roseburg and Coos Bay. Alas, Robinson’s astronauts seem to have gone home, but he does list a number of upcoming Tea Party and 9.12 events on his website. — Camilla Mortensen
DUCKS + BEER ADS = RIOTS
Many universities have come to the realization that beer and college sports create a volatile mix, but apparently not the UO.
Last Saturday, Eugene police said they used tear gas to break up a “riot” of 400 drunk students who spilled into the street. After a televised UO football game ended on Saturday night, police issued 30 citations for open containers or minors in possesion. EPD said the riot, which made national news, was similar to but twice as large as a UO beer riot in 2008.
Almost three years ago more than 100 college presidents and athletic directors signed on to a letter calling for the NCAA to reduce beer advertising, but the UO didn’t join in.
Instead the UO continues to reap millions from beer ads while successfully lobbying the city for weaker local enforcement of alcohol rules, exempting the area around its stadium from open container laws.
“Given the persistent problems caused by underage and excessive college drinking, much of it in the form of beer, we find it inconceivable that the NCAA’s profiting from beer promotion during the telecasts of college basketball games comports with the best interests of higher education, sports or student welfare,” the 2008 letter stated.
Since 2005, 372 NCAA-member colleges and nine college athletic conferences have endorsed a pledge to eliminate alcohol ads from college sports, but the UO has not.
“Those schools recognize the hypocrisy of airing commercials for the very product that causes college administrators, coaches, and parents so much distress,” the college presidents wrote. “Alcohol ads demean the NCAA, student athletes, college prevention efforts, and help put young people at risk.”
“The NCAA has a cavalier, ‘devil may care’ attitude about exposing kids to beer ads,” said Tracy Downs, manager of the Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Alcohol contributes to 70,000 sexual assaults and 1,700 deaths on college campuses each year, according to CSPI.
“College administrators and local law enforcement are really struggling to control the violence, vandalism and health problems fueled by binge drinking on campus,” said George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at CSPI. “It’s time for the NCAA to stop pouring gasoline on the fire and stop airing these ads.”
Meanwhile, the UO has officially licensed an “Oregon Ducks Talking Beer Opener” that “plays the school’s fight song followed by a cheer — when the opener touches the bottle cap.” — Alan Pittman
HEAVY HAUL MAKES HEADLINES
The question still lingers over whether Imperial Oil will use Oregon’s Columbia River and the scenic highways of Montana and Idaho to import massive oil sand mining machinery to the controversial Alberta tar sands. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio as well as 40 conservation groups have entered the fray.
The tar sands oil extraction in Canada has turned boreal forests into open pit mines. Fishermen in waters downstream of the tar sands have caught deformed fish with golf ball sized tumors, and nearby native populations have reported high cancer levels.
Conservationists protest not only using Northwest rivers and roads to facilitate the environmentally devastating mining, they are also concerned about the effects the massive loads — some are 210 feet long, 30 feet high, 24 feet wide and weigh 500,000 pounds — will have on the roadways and their nearby forests and rivers.
Parts of the route follow not only the Lewis and Clark trail, but also the historic route the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph took to flee the U.S. Army. Supervisors of the Lolo and Clearwater national forests wrote the Montana and Idaho transportation departments, concerned with the precedent that approval of the loads could set for the U.S. Highway 12 corridor and with the size and volume of the loads.
After being alerted to the issue by a constituent, DeFazio spoke to EW about the Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil plan to use the Northwest as a route for the machinery for the Kearl oil sands project, and said he wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. DeFazio said in the letter that he is “opposed to subsidizing ExxonMobil oil sands mining in Canada with taxpayer dollars.” The Associated Press and major papers picked up on the story and soon Montana’s congressional delegation was protesting that it’s a state issue, not a federal issue. The Washington Post wrote about it this week.
Zack Porter, campaign coordinator for All Against the Haul says, “There is no question that this is a federal issue.” A letter signed by representatives of 40 groups including Sierra Club chapters, Conservation Northwest, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association points out that a number of federal agencies from the Forest Service to the Army Corps of Engineers are involved in the project, and argues that the “initial year of shipments, and the permanent high and wide corridor thus created through the Northwest to the tar sands, constitute a major federal action.”
The letter, a copy of which went to congressional delegations of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington argues that the “800-mile project has been ‘piecemealed’ by federal and state agencies, with each examining only a narrow slice of the total project.” — Camilla Mortensen
SILVERSPOTS SITTING PRETTY
After 30 years on the threatened species list, the Oregon silverspot butterfly is making a comeback. Organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, the Oregon Zoo and the North American Butterfly Association have partnered to work on restoring silverspot butterfly habitat and captive rearing of butterflies leading to the success. Anne Walker, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will speak to the North American Butterfly Association and interested Eugeneans about conservation and research efforts at 7 pm Monday, Oct. 4, at the EWEB Training Center. The talk is free and open to the public.
For centuries, Oregon’s coastal areas were subject to events like wildfires, burning by Native Americans and grazing animals to maintain the coast habitat that silverspot butterflies call home. The resulting meadows suit the Viola adunca, a native species of violet that is the silverspot caterpillar’s only food source. Development on the coast has reduced grazing and necessitated the quick extinguishing of fires.
“Over time, if there is not a disturbance to maintain that open, low-growing habitat, then it becomes brush and eventually trees,” Walker says. Viola adunca can’t flourish in a forested environment, and as a result, neither can the silverspot butterfly. When TNC first began working at Cascade Head, the group reduced cattle grazing and inadvertently harmed butterfly habitat, then changed their methods to help facilitate silverspot species restoration. “It’s all an experiment,” Walker says of conservation efforts.
Fires that may have been helpful years ago could now cause even more problems, allowing problematic plants to settle in. “At this point, we’re not only dealing with the need to cause a disturbance to set back the natural course of succession,” Walker says, “but also these invasive species like grasses and scotch broom in the north.” — Shannon Finnell
CIVIC STADIUM DOCUMENTARY GETS CALL-UP
The Last Season, a documentary about the Eugene Emeralds’ final season in Civic Stadium, makes its national debut this weekend at the 2010 Baseball Film Festival. Sponsored by the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the festival runs Oct. 1-3. “I think we made a good film about baseball,” says producer David Heine. “To have that recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame is great.”
The film, a collaboration between local filmmakers Heine and Bruce Kubert, captures the essence of what makes Civic a uniquely beloved experience. The filmmakers were given access to Ems players, employees and fans, as well clubhouse talks by skipper and former pro baller Greg Riddoch. The result is an intimate portrait of a venue and the people who loved it — nearly to death, as Ems general manager Bob Beban makes clear.
The filmmakers hope fans will support a local showing of The Last Season by the Friendly Area Neighbors at 8 pm Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Washington Park cottage, 20th and Washington. For more information about The Last Season, visit www.aspectfilms.net. For more information about the film festival, see baseballhall.org — Jason Blair
• West Lane County Commission candidates Jerry Rust and Jay Bozievich will be debating at 6:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Community Services Center at 175 W. 7th Ave. in Junction City. The forum is sponsored by the Junction City/Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce.
• The Many Rivers Group of the Sierra Club will sponsor a talk by Lisa Arkin of the Oregon Toxics Alliance on “Environmental Laws Killed and Buried from View: Can Oregon Lead Again?” at 7 pm Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Eugene Garden Club, 1645 High St. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• A Request for Proposals to dispose of the Civic Stadium property has been approved by the Eugene 4J School Board and will be issued on Oct. 1. The RFP invites interested parties to submit proposals describing their plans for the property and offering terms of purchase, long-term lease or property trade. See the RFP at www.4j.lane.edu
• Labor, peace and justice activists are organizing a rally at 3 pm Saturday, Oct. 2, at the old Federal Building, 7th and Pearl, calling for a state and country at peace, with good jobs, equal justice, and high quality public education for all. The event is in solidarity with a huge march happening in Washington, D.C., organized by the One Nation Working Together Coalition. The local event is organized by CALC, ESSN-Jobs With Justice and the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. Call 485-1755 or email email@example.com
• Noted constitutional scholar and author Garrett Epps will speak on “Dangerous Reading: What Does the Constitution Really Say?” at 2 pm Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Eugene Downtown Library. Free. The talk is in honor of Banned Books Week. Epps, a former UO law professor, is currently a law professor at the University of Baltimore.
• The 2010 Eugene Solar & Green Homes Tour begins at 10:30 am Sunday, Oct. 3, at EWEB. Mayor Kitty Piercy and EWEB General Manager Roger Gray will speak and provide a printed tour guide with maps, addresses and descriptions of each home. The actual tour and workshops will run from noon to 4 pm. Attendees can speak with designers, builders, contractors and homeowners to learn about strategies to lower their utility bills and live more sustainably. Pre-registration is encouraged; email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The annual CROP Hunger Walk will begin at 2 pm Sunday, Oct. 3, at Alton Baker Park. Registration begins at 1 pm. Walkers may register online at www.cropwalk.org or in person at the Big Shelter. The Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger is sponsoring the local walk to raise funds and awareness about hunger relief.
• A day of lectures and workshops for nonprofits is coming up beginning with “Finding the Money: Strategies and Networking for Nonprofits,” followed by “Women’s Opportunity Worldwide: Connect and Collaborate with Local Nonprofits,” from 8:30 to 11 am, and 12:45 to 3 pm Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Fir Room of the EMU on the UO campus. See http://csws.uoregon.edu
The Tea Partiers keep telling us they want to take back America from the politicians. Hasn’t big business already done that?
— Rafael Aldave, Eugene
•• Must have been pleasant for former governor John Kitzhaber to be in friendly press territory last weekend in Eugene, his hometown. He was here for his City Club talk on early childhood education, his “debate” with Chris Dudley and the other two candidates for governor, and fundraisers. In Portland he has been hammered by both Willamette Week and The Oregonian, sometimes for ridiculously thin reasons. Interesting that Jack Roberts of Eugene, now a regular conservative columnist in The Oregonian, is one of the loudest print voices in Portland against Kitzhaber. Roberts, a prominent Republican, is director of the Lane Metro Partnership, funded partly by us taxpayers. Aren’t his strident political writings a conflict of interest? He admits that his political work is mixed in with his economic development work as part of his typical workday.
• Brian Obie unveiled his grand plan for a boutique hotel at Fifth Street Public Market last week with much fanfare, balloons and confetti. Obie says a million people walk through the market each year, making the market “Eugene’s biggest tourist attraction.” Could be, though Saturday Market is also a huge draw. Regardless, a high-end hotel should make the Hilton a more attractive convention center and give a boost to businesses in the area. Obie once told a City Club crowd that Oakway Center has become Eugene’s downtown, but he’s not building his hotel there. Downtown is coming back with numerous new projects, which will in turn bring more projects, more people, more business. It’s odd that this building boom is happening in a major recession, but land prices and construction costs are down. And Eugene’s economy is relatively stable due to the UO, LCC, government jobs, diversity of small businesses and our marvelous geography. It’s a good time to build if you can scrape together the bucks.
• This issue is your last chance to vote in print on our Best of Eugene ballot. Please fill it out and drop it off at EW offices by noon Sunday, Oct. 3 (use mail slot on north side of the building), or find it at bestofeugene.com.
• We hear numerous people have been busted for passing pot among friends around downtown, but the infractions were cranked up to more serious charges because the offenses (delivery of marijuana) occurred within 1,000 feet of a public school. Yep, the Network Charter School was right there at 45 W. Broadway. It was a plain storefront with no playground, no school buses and a small sign over the door that says nothing about it being a public school, and school wasn’t even in session this summer. And now that the school is moving into numerous temporary classrooms all around town, will each of those unmarked classrooms become 1,000-foot felony zones? Sharing a doobie downtown is not too smart, but excessive drug prosecutions are just one more technicality used to ban “undesirable elements” from downtown.
• In a related item, in News Briefs Sept. 9 we reported that skateboarding is illegal on city streets in Eugene, and now we see it’s not just downtown. City Code 5.450 specifically bans skateboards “In the portion of a street designated for automobile traffic, except when crossing a street in a crosswalk or at a right angle.” And skateboards are not considered a “vehicle,” so they can’t use bike lanes. Why are we not embracing skateboards as another healthy, alternative form of transportation?
•It’s kind of funny and also kind of scary that the city of Springfield and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office are holding a free sandbagging workshop from 9 to 11 am Saturday, Oct. 2, at Springfield Public Works, 201 S. 18th St. Do they know something we don’t know? It’s no secret that there is an increased chance of flooding in our valley while dams in the Willamette River system are being partially reconstructed and reinforced. What we’re not hearing about is the potential for Katrina-type flooding (or worse) if and when a major earthquake hits our part of the state. The idea of letting the rivers run wild again is appealing, but we do worry that the maps showing our actual vulnerability to dam failure are no longer available to the public, supposedly since terrorists could use that information. But don’t you want to know if your home, business or kid’s school could end up under 20 feet of water? What’s the bigger risk here in Lane County: terrorists or inadequate dam failure planning? Talk about sandbagging.
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, editor at eugeneweekly dot com