News Briefs: The Joys of Co-mingling | This Streetcar's Named Undesirable | EFN, Union Reach Labor Agreement | Eugene Firefighters Sick 14 Days a Year | ONRC to Celebrate Three Decades | Activist Alert | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes.
Undercovered #39: News gleaned from international media.
It's hard to miss Sanipac's new co-mingling carts waiting at the curb each week. The carts are larger than the yard debris bins and are used for recycling paper, cardboard, metal and plastic. Sanipac employees and customers have mixed responses to this new recycling system.
One Sanipac truck driver thinks, "It's a good system. Easy for me and the people. A lot of people aren't sure how to use it yet but I've worked here nine years. They'll figure it out." Another driver, who picks up the old recycling boxes, talked while he hand-sorted through the newspaper, magazines and plastic that are no longer supposed to go into the glass-only bins. "It needs to be done right. In the city people don't understand."
This worker is concerned that the new bins "will lay off people. The ones that are gonna keep their jobs think it's great. Talk to someone who's worried about his job and you might hear otherwise. I have mixed emotions." Both Sanipac employees refrained from giving their names.
Some Eugene residents find the cart's size and mobility awkward. Sue Thompson finds the cart "completely unruly. This morning I nearly fell down my driveway trying to maneuver the big, heavy thing." Cheryl Gross, on the other hand, finds that the "big bin is easy to move. I don't have to bend down and pick up that heavy old bin."
However, Gross is confused by the schedule: "Does my garbage get picked up one week and my recycling another? I still don't know. I'm just putting them out each week. Maybe it'll make sense soon." Sanipac's website says that recycling pick-up is always the same day that garbage is picked up. But in another part of their website Sanipac concedes that "with our new recycling system there are some areas where this [trash and recycling pickup on opposite weeks] will happen." Some customers get two schedules in the mail: one for garbage and yard waste, another for recycling.
Thompson points out that the cart can be heavy when full. Some Eugene residents solve that problem by leaving the cart at the curb or roadside if there's no sidewalk. "Not a pleasant sight on the way to work," says John Hagan. UO student Tom Brown and his housemates "just leave it out all the time. It's great 'cause we can fill it up really full. And we needed the space for all our glass bottles and stuff." The practice of leaving the cart at the curb appears to be particularly common in student housing areas.
According to the Sanipac website, the carts were chosen because "Customers told us they didn't like sorting all their materials, they wanted a lid on their recycling container, and they wanted to be able to roll it, not carry it." Co-mingling recycling enables customers to dump paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum (not glass) into one container. The mixed recycling is transported to an automated sorting firm in Portland. The company touts the co-mingling system as enabling "fewer emissions along with less road wear." The website does not address the emissions and road wear involved in transporting Eugene's recycling to Portland.
— Kate Storm
City Councilors David Kelly, Scott Meisner and Bonny Bettman want city staff to study a trolley as part of updating the city's Central Area Transportation Study (CATS) plan.
Portland's new downtown streetcar has been a popular success, tourist attraction and symbol of the city's commitment to livability. But Eugene's city staff continue to oppose the idea of a trolley here. A trolley "would not provide cost-effective transportation service," city engineer Chris Henry and planner Allen Lowe wrote to the City Council last month. The staff cited an earlier TransPlan study in which planning staff had opposed a trolley as more appropriate for larger/denser cities and difficult to obtain federal funding for. Staff recommended that the city pursue bus rapid transit instead.
Eugene actually had an extensive trolley system from 1891 to 1927 when the city was only a fraction of the size it is today. In TransPlan hearings, trolley advocates criticized planners for a bias against clean, attractive and fun trolleys. — Alan Pittman
Eugene Free Community Network (www.efn.org)announced this week that the nonprofit internet service provider has entered into its first labor agreement with its employees, who are represented by the Lane County Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
The contract was ratified in late December, and signed Jan. 13 by Paul Harrison, president of the board of directors of EFN, and union stewards. "We're pleased that our discussions with our union employees have resulted in this new agreement," says Harrison.
The agreement provides for collaborative decision-making in the workplace, job security, arbitration of disputes and a commitment to move toward paying a living wage for every employee. IWW members include systems administrators, network specialists, and programmers.
Union rep Patrick Wade says the living wage agreement is still on hold. "We reached agreement about living wages, with the objective of bringing everyone's wages up to $11 an hour," Wade says, but a "combination of service crises due to outages at our former upstream provider, and financial pinch, have obliged us to put delivery of the living wage scale on hold until we can get our finances on firmer ground." He says the union is hoping to "make progress on that by mid-2004." Nearly all non-management employees are represented by the union.
Harrison says the agreement is another positive development at EFN, following the ISP's local dial-up expansion throughout the Willamette Valley and its move to becoming a bilingual ISP. — TJT
Eugene firefighters take almost twice as many sick days as other city employees, according to a city study.
Eugene firefighters call in sick an average of about 14 days per year, according to city data. Other city staff average about eight days of sick leave per year.
Compared to 42 other similar cities, Eugene non-firefighter workers are about average. But the firefighters push the citywide average to about 7 percent higher sick time usage.
Sick time usage in the private sector is generally much less because private employers don't offer equally generous paid sick time policies.
City Manager Dennis Taylor told the City Council last month that the city disciplines staff for abusing sick leave and has negotiated with the city firefighter union to establish a joint labor management committee to address sick leave issues. — AP
Thirty years is a long time to be working to save the environment. But that's how long the Oregon Natural Resources Council has been plugging away, first as the Oregon Wilderness Coalition and then as the renamed ONRC.
Today, the ONRC can take credit for helping to protect more than three million acres of public land in Oregon, halting construction of the Elk Creek Dam on the Rogue River and playing a pivotal role in protecting much of the nation's remaining old-growth forests.
The 30th anniversary of the organization will be celebrated Feb. 21 in Eugene, where the ONRC's main office was located for the first half of its existence. The event will be from 6 to 8 pm at LCC's Conference Center, Bldg. 19.
The celebration will include a vegetarian dinner prepared by the LCC Culinary Arts Program, a no-host bar, live music by party dance band Ruckus, guest speakers, stories and reminiscences. A silent auction will be held, as well. Admission is $35; reservations are required and must be made by Feb. 13. Sponsors are Emerald Valley Kitchen, Eugene Weekly, KLCC, Nova Craft Canoe and Paul's Bicycle Way of Life.
For details, call ONRC's Eugene office at 344-0675 or visit the group's website at: www.onrc.org
Community activists who organized two years ago to oppose an Enron natural gas power plant in the Coburg area are reorganizing to fight a new proposal for an even larger, 900-megawatt plant in the area. Meetings are planned at 6 pm Friday, Feb. 6 at EWEB, 500 E. 4th Ave. in Eugene; and at 6 pm Monday, Feb. 9 at the Springfield City Council chambers, 225 5th St. Speakers will include land use consultant Eben Fodor, former County Commissioner Tom Lininger, and David Monk of the Oregon Toxics Alliance. Carolyn Kinnan of Save Our Valley will moderate the discussion For more information, call Carolyn at 683-4579 or visit www.saveourvalley.com
The $34.8 million urban renewal plan for the Riverfront Research Park goes to public hearing before the City Council at 7:30 pm Monday, Feb. 9 in the Council Chambers. Adoption of the ordinance, if approved, would be at the Feb. 23 meeting. For more information, visit www/ci.eugene.or.us/ or call 682-5533.
A joint public hearing with local city councils and county commissioners on Eugene-Springfield Metro Plan amendments will be at 6:30 pm Tuesday, Feb. 10 at the Eugene Public Library. The Metro Plan involves long-range planning for land use, public facilities, natural resources, housing, transporation and the economy. For more information, call LCOG at 682-4107 or visit www.lcog.org/metro
Carolyn Raffensperger and Martha Dina Arguello, two nationally known advocates for the precautionary principle, will join forces at 7:30 pm Tuesday, Feb. 10 in Gerlinger Hall at UO, in the inaugural Joy Belsky Lecture. Raffensperger is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network; Arguello is director of health and environment programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility in Los Angeles.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), delivers a free public talk about "Human Rights as a Response to Terrorism" at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Feb. 11 in Room 175, Knight Law Center at UO. HRW investigates, reports on and seeks to curb human rights abuses in some 70 countries. "Many think that human rights must give way in the face of a serious security threat," Roth says. But he believes that this approach is dangerously shortsighted. Citing examples from Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, Roth says that the U.S. government's willingness to breach human rights in the name of fighting terrorism is actually making us less safe by breeding resentment and discouraging cooperation.
Tom Lininger's column in last week's edition inaccurately reported two votes by the Board of County Commissioners in the summer of 2003. The vote on pesticide reform was 4-0 (with Commissioner Anna Morrison absent). The vote on the resolution opposing the PATRIOT Act was 4-1 (with Morrison dissenting).
Oregon GOP Chairman Kevin Mannix said after the failure of Measure 30 that Oregonians have sent a message to the governor and the Legislature that "state government should live within its means." He also called for a special session of the Legislature "to secure funding for programs that protect our most vulnerable citizens, ensure public safety, and educate our children." So where does he think this funding is going to come from, if not from social services, public safety and education? Still fresh in our minds are the lies fed to us by the GOP leadership about a "secret plan" to fund state services — a plan so secret it will never be publicly revealed. But it's not hard to figure out: eliminate all land use laws and pollution controls, allow unfettered logging and mining, give more tax breaks to industry, fund private education, and rely on churches and charities to provide social services. What can we do about this 19th century agenda that refuses to die? Educate ourselves and our leaders, take the offensive in legislation locally and statewide, make noise and keep the faith. This century has only just begun.
What's really going on with PeaceHealth, Springfield, LUBA, ODOT and DLCD? State agencies are hesitant to get formally involved in the appeal at this point, but they are already on record and their statements are sure to be used in arguments for and against the development. What's not useful at this point is for our local mayors to get all excited and exaggerate implications. The LUBA ruling does not mean that all development must stop in Oregon — only massive projects that create decades of traffic snarl. And the state agencies' pulling back does not mean a big whoop-de-do victory for PeaceHealth. Meanwhile, why isn't Torrey siding with LUBA to stop PeaceHealth from leaving Eugene? Does he want to be Springfield's next mayor?
The mad cow scare has made business more brisk for Long's Meat Market on Willamette Street, but the threat to the market may lie elsewhere. Known for its locally supplied, high quality meats, the market is a town fixture that has occupied the same space in L&L Market since 1947. With new ownership of the L&L building, that may change. Since taking over in September, the new L&L landlord has been implementing changes including negotiating new leases. Long's owner Mike Wooley, who bought the business from his father in 1996, declined to comment while lease negotiations were underway. But it's possible that a new lease structure would force Long's, with its four full-time employees, to relocate. Rumor has it that the new landlord will occupy the space in the building left by French Horn Bakery's closure last year.
Some new scuttlebutt in Ward 7 this week. Majeska Seese-Green and Michael Carrigan have taken out preliminary filing papers for the race, but we hear they are collaborating and one will drop out by the filing deadline March 4 or the withdrawal deadline March 12. Seese-Green is co-chair of the Neighborhood Leaders Council and Carrigan is former director of Oregon PeaceWorks. The newcomers join incumbent Scott Meisner and Andrea Ortiz in the growing field of candidates. Track candidate filings at www.ci.eugene.or.us/
How do we evaluate local candidates and elected officials on land use and other key environmental issues? It's getting easier thanks to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. The OLCV is coming out next week (Feb. 9) with its scorecard on the Lane County commissioners and Eugene councilors. Back in 2002, Sorenson and Dwyer got top county ratings, followed by Weeldreyer, Green and Morrison (0 percent). Top city ratings went to Bettman, Kelly and Taylor, followed by Meisner, Nathanson, Rayor, Papé and Farr (0 percent). Something new this year will be OLCV interviews with council and commission candidates, followed by endorsements. Let's hope all the candidates participate.
Gotta hand it to the Genesis Juice folks who have been squeezing raw organic fruits and veggies in Eugene for 30 years despite chronic financial woes and FDA threats and pressure to pasteurize their products. The co-op is now planning to shut down in mid-February, though we hear some investors are interested in keeping it going, perhaps with pasteurization. If Genesis does slip into oblivion, the market for raw juice is still strong and we hope small juice bars (which don't have to sterilize their products) will rise to fill the niche.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, firstname.lastname@example.org
Undercovered #39: News gleaned from international media.
BY KATE ROGERS GESSERT
Since mid-November, the West Bank villagers of Budrus have been protesting the uprooting of their olive orchards to build the Separation Wall. If the wall is completed, Budrus and three sister villages will be encircled, with one shared gate guarded by Israeli soldiers, providing uncertain access to their farmland, hospitals, universities and workplaces. Defying curfews, beatings, tear gas and bullets, Budrus' 1,200 villagers have stood united for months, rushing from schools, shops, and homes to protect the olive orchards whenever Israeli bulldozers appear. During one recent confrontation, an old woman threw herself into the hole a bulldozer was digging, a little girl jumped into the scoop and began reading her schoolbook, and other girls swarmed up the sides of the machine. The driver turned off the engine, and no more olive trees were uprooted that day. On subsequent days, more than 200 Israeli soldiers arrived, firing live bullets and forcing children and adults back to the village. But no more trees have been destroyed, and Budrus villagers continue to protest the wall and plant new olive trees. More than 100 villagers have been wounded and nine jailed. Eight international and Israeli protesters, including a Swedish Parliament member, have also been arrested. Kate Raphael, an American, is fighting extradition by claiming right of return as a Jew. Consul generals from six European countries visited Budrus Jan. 30 (www.womenspeacepalestine.org).
U.S. "reconstruction" contractors in Iraq have reportedly ignored local expertise and done substandard, incomplete, or nonexistent work on schools, power plants, telephone exchanges, and water and sanitation systems. High overhead and subcontractors absorb most money, so little reaches workers or community projects. Of Halliburton's $2.2 billion in contracts, 10 percent has gone for community needs, the rest to maintain U..S. troops and repair oil pipelines, plus $40 million for WMD search. "Repaired" schools may lack fans and functioning toilets. Bechtel, in charge of repairing many Iraqi water systems, has been painting buildings and surveying while Iraqi villagers drink contaminated water or lack any piped water at all, gathering it from dirty streams. People suffer from dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, and kidney stones. In many places, including Baghdad, electricity is often off 16 hours a day. Much of Iraq's crumbling electrical infrastructure was manufactured in France, Germany, and Russia, countries not invited to the reconstruction trough; this makes a problem in getting replacement parts (Southern Exposure, Electronic Iraq, Asia Times).
U.S. troops in Iraq have been cutting down date palms and citrus trees and burning crops in efforts to increase security, find insurgents, and punish villagers for not producing information about local resistance. Palms are many farmers' livelihood; the date is Iraq's most beloved tree, with more than 300 varieties of fruit for eating fresh or dried, for syrup, liquor, and vinegar. Leaves are made into baskets, bags, and roofs. When asked the value of his lost orchard, Dhuluaya farmer Nusayef replied, "It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands were worth" (www.counterpunch.org,Riverbend, www.islamonline.net).Ç Marsh Arabs, an ancient tribe of 12,000 who lived with their water buffalo in broad marshes near the Euphrates, gave sanctuary to Shia rebels fighting against Saddam Hussein in 1991. In retaliation, Hussein built hundreds of dams and destroyed their marshes by diverting water sources. But as soon as the British reached Basra last spring, the Marsh Arabs returned, burrowing through Hussein's dams. The marshes are alive again with bird song and shimmering water. "We were living in the desert with nothing," said Sabiha Fadel. "It's a gift from God" (BBC News, Independent).
Combat deaths of occupation troops and Iraqi police have not decreased with Saddam's capture. And Iraqi civilians are dying and getting wounded in growing numbers, victims of suicide bombers, insurgents, and coalition soldiers who sometimes open fire at checkpoints, during demonstrations, when cars pass convoys, or when roadside bombs explode. "The attacks are getting worse, life is getting worse, and what this tells us is that we should take over our own affairs as soon as possible," said Baghdad teacher Salah Hasan (Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, Electronic Iraq).
Vehicles in Iraq now cling to the center lane of highways. Bombs may be hidden in concrete median strips and in hollowed-out carcasses of dogs and cats beside the road (Independent). Physicians expect post-traumatic stress among 20 percent of U.S. troops now in Iraq (Guardian). Nearly one-third of troops surveyed in Iraq say the war has little or no value, and 50 percent of National Guard and reservists report low morale (Stars and Stripes). Although many immigrant soldiers in Iraq are applying for citizenship, interviews and fingerprinting sessions are scheduled in the U.S. and soldiers can't get leave (Newsday). Last year, sick and wounded U.S. troops returning from Iraq stayed in sweltering concrete barracks with no running water while waiting weeks or months to see Army doctors. The Pentagon has pledged more money and more doctors (UPI).