News Briefs: Mayor, Schools Popular | City Memo Contradicts Ballot Title | Hooley Floats the Willamette | Obama on a Roll | Pope Goes Green | Six Years of Interfaith Reflection | Fire Nears Black Butte | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
The Little Guy Runs
Novick still seeks U.S. Senate seat
Happening Person: Jackie Van Rysselberghe
MAYOR, SCHOOLS POPULAR
Voters in Eugene like Mayor Kitty Piercy and say improving schools should be the city’s top priority, according to a May survey by a city consultant.
Sixty percent of respondents gave Piercy a favorable rating. By comparison 43 percent gave their ward’s city councilor a favorable mark.
When asked what should be the city’s top priority, 31 percent said improving public schools. Revitalizing downtown followed with 18 percent. Fixing roads got 17 percent and reducing crime 16 percent.
Half of respondents said Eugene is on the right track.
The rare city political survey of likely voters was conducted to gauge support for a new City Hall although it contained many other questions as well. The survey showed that while the city has made new offices a top priority, citizens haven’t. Even when pushed with biased information, only 48 percent supported a $155 million City Hall measure.
Among other interesting survey results:
• 35 percent think Eugene police are doing an “only fair” or poor job; only 5 percent give the fire department a similar low rating.
• 65 percent rate downtown as “only fair” or poor in attractiveness.
• 76 percent say road conditions are “only fair” or poor.
• 66 percent say the council is doing an “only fair” or poor job of managing growth and development.
• 66 percent rate the council economic development work as “only fair” or poor.
• 62 percent say the council is doing an “only fair” or poor job of managing and spending tax dollars.
The survey results appear to have had little effect on the council. The city has stopped efforts to help fund local schools, and new City Hall offices remain a top priority. But voters may not be surprised to hear that 57 percent of those surveyed say the council is “only fair” or poor in responding to citizen priorities. — Alan Pittman
CITY MEMO CONTRADICTS BALLOT TITLE
A key element of the city of Eugene’s ballot title for a November vote on spending an additional $40 million of urban renewal money to subsidize downtown developers is factually contradicted by an earlier city document.
The “summary” section of the ballot title states that “tax increment financing,” otherwise known as urban renewal, “does not impose new taxes.” But an April 12 memo from city staff to the Eugene mayor and council states: “Urban renewal nominally affects certain voter-approved local option levies and bonds because the affected district has less property value to levy taxes against, resulting in slightly higher tax rates.”
The staff memo did not calculate how much taxes would increase to fund the proposed $40 million urban renewal increase for developer subsidies. Most of the money will come from diverting tax revenue from schools and other government services.
Former City Councilor Paul Nicholson, owner of Paul’s Bikes, has said he will appeal the ballot title. — Alan Pittman
HOOLEY FLOATS THE WILLAMETTE
Oregon Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (District 5) is taking a two-day boat trip from Eugene to Portland this week to unveil landmark legislation to reconnect Oregonians to the Willamette River. She is stopping to meet with local officials and community members at seven different points along the river, beginning in Eugene Sept. 4.
“The Willamette River is the heart and soul of Oregon, and the lifeblood of this valley,” says Hooley in a prepared statement. “It has sustained and nourished Oregonians throughout our rich history, and will be preserved for future generations by encouraging communities large and small to reconnect with the river.”
Hooley’s Willamette River United Act would allow local communities to access federal funds to enhance recreation opportunities, boost cultural heritage, bolster community development and improve river health.
Specific projects currently under way that are expected to benefit from Hooley’s legislation include waterfront trails, greenway expansions, riparian repair, pedestrian/bicycle bridges and preservation of historic sites along the river.
OBAMA ON A ROLL
|ED AND BOADICEA PLIML|
Some Eugene residents have taken a well-traveled 1973 Volvo station wagon and turned it into an Obamamobile, inspired by Democratic presidential primary candidate Barak Obama.
Photos of the colorful Volvo have been sent to Obama campaign headquarters in hopes that the candidate will include the Eugene Celebration in his current West Coast travel plans, says Ed Pliml. Obama will reportedly be in Portland Sept. 7, and the Celebration parade is Sept. 8.
Pliml says it would be too expensive for him to enter the car in the parade but says he was told by parade officials that the car could be in the parade for free if Obama shows up. As EW goes to press, Pliml has not heard back from Obama’s campaign staff.
Pliml owns the Volvo and organized family and friends to undertake the paint job. He and Georgia Glenn did most of the painting (Georgia gets credit for the flames) and had help from Boadicea Pliml, Katryna Vasquez, Nayma Glenn and Jacob Glenn. The paint was provided by an anonymous donor.
POPE GOES GREEN
Pope Benedict XVI told an estimated 500,000 young people gathered in Loreto, Italy this weekend to take care of the Earth. “To the new generations is entrusted the future of the planet, where it is clear that development has not always been able to protect the delicate balance of nature,” he said, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS).
The pontiff focused in particular on the issue of water, saying it will become a source of conflict unless it is shared equally around the world.
The CNS referred to the crowd as a “megagathering.” Going green is apparently part of the “alternative path” the pope advocated for young people.
The event featured biodegradable and recyclable materials such as prayer books for the Sunday Mass made out of recycled paper. It took place in conjunction with the Catholic Church’s “Save Creation Day.”
Benedict’s tenure as pope seems to have a bit of a green theme. The Vatican installed solar panels this summer on the auditorium where the pope holds weekly public audiences. The Holy See is also following the trend to go “carbon neutral” by planting trees in Hungary on 37 acres of land that will be renamed the “Vatican Climate Forest.”— Camilla Mortensen
SIX YEARS OF INTERFAITH REFLECTION
It’s been six years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a local interfaith group has been meeting on the 11th of each month since for prayer and reflection. Sept. 11 this year marks the 72nd service at First Christian Church, 1166 Oak St. in Eugene. The free service beings at 6:45 pm.
The theme will be “The Light of Unity,” and will focus on “the positive aspects of enrichment and enlightenment that results when all mankind unites in the spirit of cooperation, harmony and respect.”
The service will include presentations from the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh and Sufi faith traditions. Guest speakers include Dr. Mary Spilde, president of LCC.
“While the coordinators of the Monthly Interfaith Prayer & Reflection Service recognize the need to respectfully remember the events that touched all our lives six years ago, we are also dedicated to creating a world where people of goodwill from all faith traditions will join together to find spiritual solutions to the problems that divide us,” reads a statement from the group.
Free childcare will be provided, and tea and fellowship will follow the service. For more information, email Sirikaur2380@comcast.net
FIRE NEARS BLACK BUTTE
The GW Fire moved to within one mile of the Black Butte Ranch over Labor Day weekend. The blaze grew to more than 5,000 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and nearby homes and buildings were evacuated. There were 1,210 threatened structures.
The Forest Service is driven to suppress fires when the fires threaten houses. The agency spends 50 percent of its budget on fire suppression.
The large cloud of smoke was easily visible from the Dee Wright Observatory on the McKenzie Pass. Highway 242 has been closed for construction all summer but recently reopened.
The GW Fire was started by lightning on Aug. 31. The cost to date of the attempts to contain the fire is about $1.3 million. About 677 people are working to contain the fire, using eight helicopters and 43 fire engines.
The fire is called the GW Fire not for our current president, whose current policies attempt to increase logging (including postfire salvage logging), but because it originated in the Mount Washington Wilderness area.
Forest fires are given distinctive names, often based on the fire’s origin, in order to facilitate coordination. The Fire Center is often managing many wildfires at the same time. There are currently three large fires in Oregon — Camilla Mortensen
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,739 U.S. troops killed* (3,732)
• 27,279 U.S. troops injured* (27,279)
• 118 U.S. military suicides* (118)
• 1,297 Coalition troops killed* (1,292)
• 417 contractors killed** (417)
• 77,566 Iraqi civilians killed*** (77,272)
• $448.4 billion cost of war
• $127.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers
* through Aug. 20, 2007; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Jackson-Marlow and Hamm Roads: Western Helicopter, (503) 538-9469, will aerially spray with Razor, Chopper, and Patriot herbicides plus Dyne Amic adjuvant on 140 acres near Doak and Rebel creeks for Giustina Timber Company (345-2301) starting Aug. 29 (#50969). Call Michael Tucker at Giustina, or Robert Johnson at Oregon Department of Forestry (935-2283).
• Eastern Lane: Western Helicopter will aerially spray herbicides on 302 acres for Giustina near Guiley, Gossage creeks starting Sept. 9 (#55874). Call Marvin Vetter at ODF (726-3588).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Eugene has lost so much of its historic character downtown that we need to be very careful in tearing down buildings. The city should conduct a detailed, credible and independent examination of the former Farmer’s Market and bank buildings on Broadway, including removing part of the stucco exteriors/interiors to see what remains beneath. The City Council at this point is only looking at a very cursory examination with no real field work. In other cities, historic buildings are often restored by removing facades. If the historic buildings are beyond repair and restoration, the city should incorporate walls and other characteristics of the old buildings into any new structures. Such genuine history is one of the only things downtowns have to set them apart from bland shopping malls.
On a related note, let’s not jump to conclusions about historic preservation being used as a tool by anti-development interests. It’s easy to get that impression from R-G coverage. We have heard no one who is concerned about historic preservation say the redevelopment of Broadway is a bad idea.
• Aug. 8 marked a big birthday for Jim Weaver. A flock of family, friends, colleages and former staff members traveled from all over the country to gather at his place on rural Seavey Loop road. Former staff members and family came from around the country. Which birthday was it? As Jim’s wife, Katie, put it, “Just say the year ended in zero.” We hear the fiery former Fourth District congressman (1974-87) was born in South Dakota in 1927. He came to Eugene from Iowa as a young man to attend UO and stayed. Weaver was, and continues to be, a powerful voice for peace, environmental sanity, campaign finance reform and accountabilty in government and industry. While in Congress he had a knack for putting together a “dream team” of staffers and volunteers, including Peter DeFazio, Peter Sorenson, Cynthia Wooten, Ron Eachus, Joe Rutledge, Dan Meeks, David Fidanque, Mardel Chinburg, Greg Skillman, Grattan Kerans, Clayton Klein, Gayle Landt, Bern Johnson and others. Weaver fever carries on.
• Does Bush really expect public opinion on the Iraq occupation to change following his surprise trip to Iraq on Labor Day? Or will Gen. David Petraeus’ strategically timed testimony before Congress Sept. 10 make a difference? The big question is whether Congress will continue funding for the occupation. Members of both parties in both houses of Congress need to hear from us that we are fed up with the spin on this foreign policy disaster. The only way out of this bloody mess is to cut off funding for everything in Iraq except withdrawal and/or redeployment.
• We hear from Michael Black of Eugene Running Company that former Eugene long-distance star Jenny Crain has been seriously injured while running near her home in Milwaukie, Wisc. She was struck by a car Aug. 21 and remains hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from a broken neck and head injuries. Crain, 39, was training for the Labor Day U.S. National 20K championships. She had already qualified for the Olympic Trials in Eugene next year and hoped to compete as a marathon runner in the Beijing Olympics. A fund in her name has been established. Contact Eugene Running Company at 344-6399 or email email@example.com for details.
• EW blogs have been online for several weeks now and provide opportunties for direct reader response. (Be kind to us, please. We are tender, sensitive people and can’t handle sarcasm.) Eventually our news stories and other content online will also be interactive. Meanwhile, check us out at blogs.eugeneweekly.com for some fun content and observations on the arts, food, politics and life in general. One blog entry, “Bathroom Sex,” is inspired by Larry Craig and invites readers to share their favorite local public restrooms and other places to go for sex with strangers. Another blog entry, “Oregon in the News,” talks about The New York Times report on higher education funding, and the lack of state support for UO, which now charges $1,542 in fees per year on top of $3,984 in tuition.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
JACKIE VAN RYSSELBERGHE
The daughter of a UO professor, Jackie Van Rysselberghe began a life of travel and language learning at age 4 when her family spent a year in Milan on a Fulbright. “We took a Buick and drove around post-war Europe,” she recalls. “It influenced my whole life.” She returned to Italy in 1966 as a exchange student, married an Italian TV cameraman, and worked for years as a RAI TV correspondant in Latin America. “I interviewed Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda,” she notes. With her marriage ending in 1985, Van Rysselberghe returned to Eugene, earned a teaching credential and married Bud Kaufman, an ex-high school boyfriend. She retired this June after 17 years teaching French and Spanish at Sheldon High School. Following a trip to Asia four years ago, Van Rysselberghe and friend Rosemary Brockman became active volunteers with Eugene-based non-profit Friendship with Cambodia. “We support programs that create scholarships for poor students and loans to help women,” she says. “I couldn’t retire without something to dedicate myself to.” Learn more at friendshipwithcambodia.org.