Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening Person: Eric Wold
TORREY GOES NEGATIVE
Sen. Vicki Walker supporters blasted a campaign attack ad and letter from the Jim Torrey campaign as false last week.
A Torrey TV ad and letter alleged that Walker had ignored Janyce Iturra, who lost a son in a murder. Torrey, a Republican, is challenging Democratic incumbent Walker for the District 7 seat in northwest Eugene.
Walker supporters produced evidence that showed Walker had not ignored Iturra but had spoken about her case in committee and on the Senate floor, had responded with letters, and had never received any emails from Iturra.
"By using a tragedy and a mother's grief to further his own political career, he [Torrey] has lost my respect," Oregon Democratic Party Chairman Jim Edmunson said in a statement.
Iturra testified in support of a bill that would have given the death penalty to people who kill a witness in a juvenile court case. The bill failed, in large part due to a controversial provision that expanded the crime of murder to killing a fetus. Religious conservatives have pushed such fetus provisions as a precedent for making abortion illegal.
Ironically, Torrey, who opposes legal abortions, has another TV ad accusing Walker of undue partisanship for raising the abortion issue.
Recent polling reportedly shows Walker pulling even with Torrey in the race, which may account for Torrey going negative. — Alan Pittman
R-G GIVES ETHICS LINE THE FINGER
Newspapers should "distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two," the Society of Professional Journalists states in its ethics code. But the Sunday, Oct. 22 Register-Guard poked a giant hole through that church and state wall separating advertising and news. On page A3 the paper ran a Sacred Heart Medical Center ad with a giant finger jutting up into the middle of a news story, with the news text wrapping around the ad.
In sticking the finger through the line between advertising and news, the R-G appears to be on the cutting edge of a growing trend away from traditional journalism ethics. As daily papers' historically lavish profit margins have declined, they've been more and more willing to cross ethical lines for ad money. Gray shadow ads have begun to appear behind newspaper sports, movie and financial listings in some papers. Even the traditionally gray Wall Street Journal now runs ads on its front page.
But besides design, the R-G mixes news and ads in other ways. The Oct. 22 finger ad was for Sacred Heart's new $3.2 million Gamma Knife machine. "Questions have arisen about the wisdom of using the device, from doctors who question its long-term effects and effectiveness," The New York Times reported in 2003. With treatments that can run $15,000 or more, concerns have also been raised that the expensive machines jack up the cost of health care, while about 30,000 people in Lane County already can't afford health insurance. But The R-G reported on none of these controversial aspects in its Sept. 8 news story and photo package on the "Tumor Zapper." The news story, after a hospital press release the day before, read a lot like the ad. — Alan Pittman
SCARY TAX TACTICS
Backers of the county's proposed law enforcement income tax (Measure 20-114) sent out a scary flier last week with pictures of cute kids and the warning that "with an estimated 11,000 meth addicts and 1,242 sex offenders in Lane County, we place children in danger EVERY DAY without adequate protection from predators."
But it's unclear where District Attorney Doug Harcleroad and the big businesses backing his "Stop Meth? Invest in Kids" PAC are getting their numbers. Here are the facts:
• The leading federal survey on drug use reports an estimated 31,000 people have used meth in the last year in Oregon. If meth use in Lane County is proportional to the county's share of the state's population, that would mean about 2,870 people here used meth in the last year. Of course, that doesn't mean they're all addicted.
• The state lists only 54 dangerous sexual predators in Lane County on its online registry of predatory sex offenders.
• The child abuse/neglect rate in Lane County trails the rate in Oregon by 12 percent, and is 41 percent less than the child abuse/neglect rate in Marion County, according to state data.
Overall Lane County has a falling crime rate and is relatively safe. From 1996 to 2004, the violent crime rate fell 11 percent, according to FBI data.
FBI statistics also show that among law enforcement agencies serving more than 100,000 people, Lane County's low violent crime rate made the county safer than nine out of 10 jurisdictions. — Alan Pittman
CHAMBER PUSHES TAX ON RESIDENTS
A reincarnated road maintenance tax proposal went down in flames at a public hearing Oct. 18, with universal opposition from both progressives and conservatives.
Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Terry Connelly praised city staff for the "good job" they did meeting with them and responding by pushing more of the $7 million a year in taxes off of businesses and on to residents.
Three years ago the city's proposal for a road tax put about 70 percent of the burden on businesses and about 30 percent on residents. After intense lobbying from the Chamber, the city public works staff changed the formula to make residents pay about 50 percent of the tax.
Businesses would pay their portion of the tax based on road use, but the residential portion of the tax would be a flat tax not based on ability to pay or use of the roads. A single impoverished person who owned no car and walked or biked everywhere would pay the same as a suburban millionaire with a fleet of busy SUVs.
"This is more regressive than anything since the Roman Empire if not before," testified Ann Tattersall.
Carl Sundberg said the tax would hurt the poor and is a misplaced priority. "People in this town go hungry, many are homeless, thousands go without health care medicine and some nearly freeze every winter, and now we're throwing their needs to the wind because of bumpy roads. Shame on us."
Ironically, the Chamber of Commerce still opposed the tax as too burdensome for businesses, even with much more of it pushed off on residents.
But a fairer tax might put the entire road maintenance tax on businesses. Residents already pay for road maintenance through the city's gas tax. Businesses have a much higher impact on road wear by employing heavy trucks that studies show can have 1,000 times the impact on roads of a car. Business trucks can also avoid the gas tax by refueling outside the city. — Alan Pittman
ISSUES OF FAIR TRADE
A symposium eyeing fair trade and its impact on native peoples is planned for Thursday, Nov. 2 at the UO Knight Law Center. "Fair Trade: Equity Within Reach" includes a panel presentation with notable fair trade experts from around the world at 7 pm in 175 Knight, preceded by a fair trade bazaar and coffee and chocolate tasting from 5:30 to 7 pm in the Wayne Morse Commons.
The symposium kicks off with the film, Buyer Be Fair: The Promises of Fair Trade Certification at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Bijou. Film director John de Graaf will be present.
The concept of "fair trade" offers an innovative alternative economic model to "free trade," adding ethical elements regarding social justice and environmental sustainability.
Panelists at Thursday evening's presentation will include several notable fair trade experts. Priya Haji, acclaimed co-founder of World of Good, a fair trade store and development organization, will discuss how the U.S. market is driving demand for ethically produced goods and how it is changing lives around the world.
Other panelists include Ubon Yuwa, a Thai fair trade practitioner and organizer who has helped establish fair trade rice cooperatives in Thailand, and Judith Wise, a legal scholar and professor of law at Willamette University, who will contrast fair trade with classical economic trade models.
For more information, visit www.waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu
CARIBOU AND CLIMATE
Chad Kister is no stranger to travel. Whether he is kayaking among the islands of the Tongass National Forest, rafting between the polluted oil fields of Prudhoe Bay or hiking through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, this author, explorer, lecturer and activist has braved some of the harshest climates in the U.S. in his efforts to explore the devastation caused by our dependence on fossil fuels. Kister will speak at the Eugene Public Library at 6 pm on Nov. 1 on his travels in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"It seems like there is a real critical mass of awareness on climate change," Kister says from Rochester, Minnesota, where he visited two small colleges that have installed wind generators to provide up to a third of their campus' electricity. "Climate change is no longer a theoretical issue. People are turning to solutions, and that's what we need."
Kister's lectures are drawn from books he has written on his experience in the Arctic, most recently Arctic Quest and Arctic Melting. Kister, who lived off fish and berries during his journey, shares first-hand accounts of the ways climate change has negatively impacted not only caribou and polar bears but also Native people living in the area.
"Even if you think you know, there's always new information emerging," he reflects. "NASA scientist James Hansen recently reported that melting in Greenland has doubled in the last five years. If the ice sheets in Greenland melt, and there is every indication that they will, sea levels will rise by 20 to 25 feet from Greenland alone." — Adrienne van der Valk
Critical Mass riders are voicing new complaints about local law enforcement after incidents during their Sept. 29 ride allegedly compromised riders' safety. Although by all accounts the last protest was mellow and peacefully monitored by a bicycle cop, rider Josh Schlossberg claims that an unmarked police car followed the group and on more than one occasion forced riders perilously close to other vehicles.
In an email sent to Mayor Piercy and the City Council, Schlossberg alleges that the unmarked vehicle repeatedly attempted to pass cyclists on narrow streets. "In one instance," Schlossberg wrote, "I myself took the allowed door-length from a vehicle parked on the curb (according to ODOT), which placed me partway into the lane of traffic on the otherwise empty street. Instead of the officer following behind me and waiting to pass when there was room for him to do so safely, he came so close to me that I had no choice but to swerve toward the parked car or else be struck by the officer's vehicle." Schlossberg alleges that he informed the officer of this violation of ODOT's safety provisions, but the officer seemed unconcerned.
Schlossberg contends that this is not the first such encounter he has had and that regular Biking and Walking Summits are a hollow gesture on the part of the city until disregard for traffic laws by the Eugene Police is addressed.
City Councilor Betty Taylor replied to Schlossberg's email: "That incident is significant — and central to the kind of city we purport to be." She asked Mayor Piercy to alert the city manager to the issue.
EPD could not be reached for comment.
The next Critical Mass ride is planned for Oct. 27. — Martha Calhoon
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
• ODOT is spraying around bridge ends and culverts along all state highways. Call ODOT District 5 IVM Coordinator Dennis Joll (686-7526) and check the daily spray information at (888) 996-8080.
• Strata Forestry (726-0845) will spray 4200 feet of roadsides near S. Fork Gate Creek (#771-55836), and will ground spray 25 acres for Guistina Resources (485-1500) near Fall Creek Reservoir tributary. (#771-55914).
• Strata will ground spray on 40 acres for Timothy Cline (800-966-9566) near Carr Creek before Oct. 31 (#771-55936); and for Pyron Family LLP (746-8006) on 43 acres near Lost Creek trib. (#771-55922).
• Weyerhaeuser Company (741-5211) will aerially spray 76 acres near Little Fall Creek trib. before Oct. 30 (#771-55900); 164 acres near Indian, W. Fork and N. Fork Gate creeks (#771-55882).
• Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 86 acres for Guistina near Papenfus and Rock Creeks (#771-55916); and will ground spray 81 acres for Weyerhaeuser (#771-55896 and #771-55897) before Oct. 31.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Governor of Oregon. Ted Kulongoski (D)
U.S. House District 4. Peter DeFazio (D)
Oregon Supreme Court. Position 6. Jack Roberts
Lane County Circuit Court. Position 14. Alan Leiman
Oregon Senate. District 4. Floyd Prozanski (D)
Oregon Senate. District 6. Bill Morrisette (D)
Oregon Senate. District 7. Vicki Walker (D)
House District 8. Paul Holvey (D)
House District ll. Phil Barnhart (D)
House District 12. Terry Beyer (D)
House District 13. Nancy Nathanson (D)
House District 14. Chris Edwards (D)
STATE BALLOT MEASURES
Measure 39. Private Property Condemnation. No
Measure 40. Elect Judges By District. No
Measure 41. Income Tax Exemptions. No
Measure 42. Insurance and Credit Scores. Yes
Measure 43. Parental Notification. No
Measure 44. Prescription Drugs. Yes
Measure 45. Term Limits. No
Measure 46. Campaign Contribution Limits. Yes
Measure 47. Campaign Finance Reform. Yes
Measure 48. Spending Limit. No
Measure 20-110. Eugene Parks Levy. Yes
Measure 20-111. Eugene Library Levy. Yes
Measure 20-112. Springfield Jail/Police Levy. No
Measure 20-113. Springfield Fire Levy. Yes
Measure 20-114. County Public Safety Income Tax. No
Measure 20-115. Bethel School District. Yes
Measure 20-117. Springfield School District Bonds. Yes
Measure 20-119: East Lane Soil and Water Conservation District Tax Rate Limit. Yes
Measure 20-120. LCC 5-Year Option Levy. Yes
Measure 20-126: Emerald PUD Renewable Power Projects. Yes
A subheadline last week on Kitty Piercy's Alaska trip story described Shishmaref, Alaska, as a "melting Klondike town," but the Klondike is actually on the Canadian side of the border with Alaska.
Since 2001, Eric Wold has served as wetlands program supervisor, overseeing restoration programs for the city of Eugene's Parks and Open Spaces Division. He grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis with a passion for sports and the out-of-doors, than moved to Portland to study biology at Lewis and Clark. "I fell in love with the Northwest," he says. He spent two years in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, where he met Brinda, a fellow volunteer, and spent another year in St Louis, where they got married, before moving back to Oregon. He worked as a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service and a natural resources planner for the city before he found his current position in the West Eugene Wetlands. "I love it," says Wold, standing on the bank of Amazon Creek as it flows through Meadowlark Prairie. "We have partnerships with the Nature Conservancy and the BLM, with eight organizations in all. We are working on land acquisition to protect this area forever. So far we have about 3,000 acres."