Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
UO Eyes Franklin
Consultant's proposal would mean big buildings.
Happening Person: Amy Pincus Merwin
COUNCIL GETS GREEN SCORE
The Eugene City Council showed significant improvement in voting on environmental issues in the latest Eugene Environmental Scorecard, released this week by the Lane County Chapter of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV). The scorecard spotlights the voting records of the councilors during 2004 and 2005, giving them an average score of 62 percent, up 21 points from the OLCV 2003-04 Scorecard.
The council remains divided on environmental issues, but "the replacement of Jim Torrey with Kitty Piercy represented a giant step forward in the city's protection of stewardship of our environment," says Jan Wilson of the OLCV local Steering Committee. Piercy was the tie-breaker on five of the 11 votes considered significant regarding the city's air and water quality and livability.
Four of the eight current councilors earned a perfect score of 100. Councilors Bonny Bettman, Betty Taylor, David Kelly, and freshman Councilor Andrea Ortiz voted every time for Eugene's land, air, and water. On the opposite end of the scale, current Councilors Jennifer Solomon, Gary Papé, George Polling, and Chris Pryor all scored below 50 percent. Solomon received the lowest score of 10 percent.
Former Councilors Scott Meisner and Nancy Nathanson, who were in office during 2004, cast six votes each on the Scorecard. Meisner scored 83, Nathanson 33.
The 2005 council passed several pro-environment measures, such as: funding a program to track where toxics are being used in Eugene; opposing sprawl and farmland by opposing Measure 37; stopping city support of the West Eugene Parkway; overturning a "land swap" that would have increased sprawl outside the urban growth boundary on farmland; better protecting Eugene's open spaces threatened with excessive development; and increasing protection of Eugene's drinking water.
"As a mother, it's very important to me that the City Council is working to protect neighborhoods from sprawl and defend clean air and water," says Mardel Chinburg, chair of the Lane County Chapter of OLCV. "The Scorecard helps voters figure out which leaders are true stewards of our land, air, and water, and which just talk that way."
The complete Environmental Scorecard for the Eugene City Council, including the vote descriptions and chart, is online at www.olcv.org/lane The site also includes the environmental voting records of state lawmakers and Lane County commissioners. — TJT
BELL HOOKS IN EUGENE
Over the last two decades few activists have done as much to expose the feminist discussion's cracked foundation as bell hooks. Since the publication of her groundbreaking book Ain't I A Woman? in 1981, hooks has consistently shined a spotlight on racism as experienced by black women and has criticized not only the dominant "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy," but mainstream, white feminists and even black rights activists for failing to include black women.
Arguing that class and race are integral, inextricable pieces of the feminist debate, hooks is well known for her critique of the feminist movement, in particular Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. In naming her first book after early feminist Sojourner Truth's famous speech, in which Truth challenged the middle and upper class definitions of womanhood, hooks reframes the debate from the very start.
She challenges many of the assertions made by mainstream feminists, arguing that the issues they raise are specific to white, middle-class women. For example where Friedan argued that women needed to leave the domestic sphere and get jobs, hooks points out that lower-class women have always had to work. Hooks was one of the first feminists to challenge conventional gender roles within the context of race and then to broaden the discussion and look at those roles as a microcosm reflecting the racism and sexism of the mainstream.
In more than 25 published books and countless articles, hooks forces readers to connect seemingly separate issues, and systematically attacks and debunks myths and stereotypes of both black women and men. She strips away the cultural posturing of seemingly complex issues, baring the interconnected bones. For example, in a 1994 article on rap, she wrote: "gangsta rap does not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, is expressive of the cultural crossing, mixings and engagement of black youth culture with the values, attitudes and concerns of the white majority."
Though hooks (who doesn't capitalize her name) is one of the most independent thinkers of this century and a leader in black feminist theory, she has been denied many of the accolades other less controversial writers and theorists have received. Often sought by mainstream media for short quips and quotes, the black feminist take on various subjects, her insistence on tying issues of race together with class and gender often results in concepts that are more sense than spectacle, more reason that rage.
bell hooks opens the 11th Annual Women of Color Conference at the Erb Memorial Union, 1222 E. 13th St., with a lecture titled "Conversations with bell hooks," 6 pm, Friday, Feb. 3. $7 for the general public, $5 for students. For more information call 346-4095.
DOWNTOWN POCKET PARK
When the city ripped out the downtown pedestrian mall along with its large trees and playground, downtown lost a major chunk of parkland.
Now the development partnership of Tom Connor, Don Woolley and Opus Development (CWO) have proposed a $165 million redevelopment of the area, but plans don't include a public park. The development does propose a green roof with plants atop a parking garage, but it's unclear whether that will be open to the public.
Local landscape architect Jerry Diethelm said he likes the idea of the green roof, but says the city and developer should do more to create the "community places, not just private places" a thriving downtown needs.
Diethelm proposes that the redevelopment downtown include "a little pocket square" across from the downtown library at 10th and Olive. The space could offer a sunny place with benches and perhaps a small fountain. Residents and workers in the adjacent planned Oregon Research Institute (ORI) building and condos could eat lunch and look down on the pleasant park, Diethelm said.
With the existing bus station and library and proposals for the ORI building and CWO movie theater in the Atrium at the intersection, "that's a perfect place for some public open space," Diethelm said. "Things are going to center around that space."
The pocket plaza could also help the city's goal of encouraging more people to live downtown, Diethelm said. "If you're going to live downtown in higher density you need some amenity to go with that."
The pocket park faces the same perceptions of attracting loitering kids that helped kill the downtown mall park. The problem with the pedestrian mall was "nobody lived there to claim it," so the street kids did, Diethelm said. But with CWO proposing a major redevelopment of the area, Diethelm said the city shouldn't fear the park, since it will be taken over by downtown residents, shoppers and movie-goers. — Alan Pittman
EUGENE DOVES DIS HILLARY
Peace activists from Eugene were among those who heckled Sen. Hillary Clinton during her Jan. 27 speech to Democratic supporters at the Portland Hilton. Clinton, a top candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, appeared as part of her 2006 Senate re-election campaign.
Several minutes into Clinton's speech, eight Eugeneans and five Portlanders in the audience peeled off their jackets to reveal shirts with pink slips. "Cut off the funding. Bring the troops home," they chanted. The New York senator continued her speech, apparently unfazed, as security removed the Eugene protesters from the ballroom.
The activists included members of the anti-war group Code Pink and the Eugene Civil Resisters League. League members had also confronted Sen. Ron Wyden about his ongoing votes for war funding during his visit to the Eugene City Club on Jan. 13.
Clinton voted to authorize Bush to invade Iraq, and she continues to vote for war funding. During her Portland speech, she said that despite the bad decisions that led to the Iraq War — "the misinformation, the incompetence, the poor planning, the arrogance" — a quick troop withdrawal could make "a bad situation worse."
According to an October 2005 CBS News poll, 55 percent of Americans think that the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. Sixty-four percent think that the war isn't worth its costs, and 59 percent think that U.S. troops should withdraw as soon as possible.
"I think that any Democrat who continues to vote to fund the war will be hurt by that action," said Code Pink member Aria Seligmann, who participated in the Clinton protest. "The majority of Americans are adamantly opposed to the war, and they're no longer willing to accept the vast amount of dollars that are going to fund this war."
Florence veteran Jim Rassmann, who took a prominent role supporting John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign, agrees. "I think [Clinton] is pandering to conservative votes by saying that we should stick it out," he said. "I'd like to see a candidate who acknowledges the mistakes that we've made, and who will extract us [from Iraq] as soon and in as safe a way as possible." — Kera Abraham
PUBLISHER WINS CASE
Embattled publisher Kris Millegan of Walterville sent a message this week that his company TrineDay and author retired Lt. Col. Daniel Marvin were found not guilty of libel and defamation in a South Carolina U.S. District Court.
"This verdict was reached after extremely long and complex jury instructions by Federal Judge David Norton," says Millegan. The jury was unanimous after two hours of deliberations, he says, and "the jurors all asked to have their exhibit books signed."
A counterclaim against the plaintiffs was also decided by the jury, but not upheld. Millegan says he hopes through the courts to recoup some of his $100,000 in legal fees.
The $700,000 suit was filed by seven men who served with Marvin in Vietnam. They objected to his book, Expendable Elite: One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare, saying the book provided a "false, libelous, defamatory, embarrassing and humiliating" account of their activities in the war.
"We won the case," says Millegan. "Our defense was truth."
The plaintiffs, backed by the Special Forces Association, have threatened to appeal the verdict, says Millegan. — TJT
HOME SHOW A HOME RUN
The first Good Earth Home, Garden and Living Show at the Fairgrounds last weekend exceeded all expectations, says Karen Ramus Show Producer Berg Productions, Inc. "The public loved it. The vendors loved it. The show was a home run," she says.
"We raised more than 10,500 pounds of food for FOOD for Lane County. We ran out of programs in the first six hours. Vendors ran out of products within two and three hours after opening," she says.
Ramus reports record sales in booths and standing room only in most seminars. She says almost 300 people showed up for a talk by architect Nathan Good, and "even solar talks had 70 people in them."
Businesses are signing up for next year's show slated for Jan. 26-28, and "are all requesting bigger spaces." Next year's show will be expanded to three days to accommodate the crowds.
For more information, visit www.eugenehomeshow.comor call Berg Productions at 484-9247. — TJT
In last week's CHOW! story on King Estate's expansion we mentioned a display of enlarged historic photos. The correct source of the photos is the Lane County Historical Museum.
During an intense week in which Americans stand starkly divided on which way to go as a nation, Coretta Scott King has died. The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. was an energetic and effective human rights activist in her own right. Dr. and Mrs. King have shown us powerful visions of what we can accomplish as a society. In that same vein, this week we honored the memory of Charles O. Porter, the Eugene attorney, political activist and former congressman who also stood up for justice and compassion. It's up to us all to carry on in their names.
In America, we don't get to vote for Supreme Court justices, but we do get to vote for senators. This week Oregon's Republican Sen. Gordon Smith voted to confirm the appointment of Samuel Alito. Alito's extreme right-wing stands on women's choice, privacy, civil rights, corporate polluters and a host of other issues put him far outside the mainstream for Oregon voters. When Smith comes back asking for votes in 2008, Oregonians should remember that the Republican senator helped give an extremist a lifetime of unchecked power over their private lives and liberties.
Will Alito's appointment to the high court be a catalyst for challenging Roe v. Wade? The idea has Oregon's Planned Parenthood and NARAL in a bit of a panic. "I have never been more afraid," said Michele Stranger Hunter, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, as she and others announced a peculiar early endorsement of Kulongoski for governor last week. It's peculiar because Kulongoski doesn't decide federal policy on abortion. It's also odd because Vicki Walker has a much better track record than Kulongoski when it comes to issues affecting women and children, and Pete Sorenson has actually served on the board of NARAL. Premature endorsements just burn bridges.
Vicki Walker is expected to announce her intentions this week as we go to press. She says she has three choices: run for governor against Kulongoski and Sorenson in the primary, run to keep her Senate seat and face Torrey in November, or drop out and take a break from elected office. We detect in her a lot of anger and frustration at the response she's getting to her exploratory campaign for governor. She's got a valid point of view. She could give the state real leadership for a change, so why aren't people whole-heartedly supporting her, or Sorenson for that matter? Politics remains a game of money and power more than issues, values and competence, and at this point, Kulongoski is better at playing the game. Reforming how we elect candidates and how we finance their campaigns are at the heart of bringing back issues, values and competence into politics. Meanwhile, we predict Walker will delay her bid for the governor's seat and run again for the Senate.
Listening to Bush Tuesday night was not as bad as listening to the applause. Why do Bush's misrepresentations and blatant omissions not draw groans of protest from at least half of our elected leaders in Congress? Bush glossed over the chaos and civil war in Iraq, lied about the utter failure and corruption of our reconstruction efforts, ignored corporate crime and political scandals at home, ignored his role in the outrageous profits of the energy industry, promoted medical savings accounts that have no impact on the cost or accessibility of health care, pushed for a return to unsustainable and dangerous nuclear energy, and made more empty promises about helping AIDS victims in Africa — all to cheers and standing ovations. We are reminded of a scene from William Golding's Lord of the Flies when a group of children, isolated on an island, become a mob and lose their grip on what it means to be human.
Lane County commissioners last week launched a $250,000 PR campaign to pass a tax increase for public safety. Spending taxpayer money to influence elections is illegal in Oregon, but the law is full of loopholes that the county thinks it can exploit. Even if the county thinks it won't get caught, it should reconsider the campaign expenditure. The huge sum will do more harm than good as it becomes "Exhibit A" in tax opponents' argument on why the county doesn't need and can't be trusted with more taxpayer money.
Willamette Valley vole-watchers, take note. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has fined the Cascade division of Western Farm Service more than $150,000, the largest civil penalty issued by ODA, for violations of Oregon's pesticide law. That's because the company improperly sold a bunch of poison to wipe out the vole army in the Willamette Valley and thousands of migratory geese incidentally were poisoned. Chalk one up for the regulators!
Cable TV last weekend ran a remarkable BBC Two docudrama called Dirty Bomb, playing out a fictional terrorist attack on London using radioactive materials dispersed by a conventional bomb explosion. The highly researched scenario points out the lack of preparation for such an attack, but also shows the perspective of the radical Muslim attackers. A captured "terrorist" is interrogated at the end of the film. The conversation goes something like this: "Don't you realize that this attack will lead to retaliation and thousands of your fellow Muslims will die?" he is asked by the detective. "We expect it," says the terrorist. "Retaliation unites us, and divides you."
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
AMY PINCUS MERWIN
As a student activist in her suburban Milwaukee, Wisc., high school, Amy Pincus protested the 1970 Kent State shootings a few days before graduation, then spent the summer in Boston, working at a free school to educate people about the war. In the late '70s, she used a small inheritance to launch the Wisconsin Community Foundation, a funding source for social-change organizations, on the model of the McKenzie River Gathering. "They've just celebrated their 25th anniversary," she notes. After 10 years of rural life on 40 acres in Deadwood, Ore., she and husband Steve Merwin moved to Eugene in 1990 to further his education and that of their two children. For five years in the '90s, she edited and published the monthly journal Healing Currents. "Each month had a topic and articles by people with progressive solutions," she says. "The magazine supported itself but not me." Merwin's goal in the new century is to provide diversity of opinion on the public airways. Catch her interview program "InForm Radio," on the air since 2002, from 6:30 to 7 pm Mondays, and her new call-in show,"InFormed Talk," from 5 to 6 pm Fridays, both on KWVA, 88.1 FM.