Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Many police review issues unresolved
Rules of Engagement
Teaching teachers about cultural competence
Happenin' Person: Randy Stender
MARKET VS. CITY HALL
The Eugene City Council last week rejected the city manager's recommendation to put improvements for the downtown Farmers' Market on hold until after a site is chosen for a new City Hall.
In hearings on the new City Hall building, many citizens testified that they would prioritize funding for a new permanent Farmers' Market building downtown. The council voted six months ago to direct the city manager to pursue long term improvements for the popular downtown market and set aside $300,000 for short term improvements.
But in October the council named the "butterfly" county parking structure just north of the market as one of two leading sites for a new City Hall. City staff recommended Nov. 13 that the council hold off on spending the $300,000 for market improvements to avoid the chance of having to rip up their work if the site is chosen for a new City Hall and plaza.
But councilors said they didn't want the market to have to wait for the uncertain City Hall project.
"Even if City Hall happens on that site, they're there three to four years" before construction starts, Councilor David Kelly said of the market.
Councilor Betty Taylor said she was "dismayed" at the manager's recommendation and said the market is an important part of downtown. "There is nothing better or more lively than the Farmers' Market, particularly in conjunction with the Saturday Market," Taylor said. "While we're helping them, we are helping our city at the same time."
"We chose to support this particular market because of the tremendous economic vitality it brings to downtown Eugene," said Councilor Bonny Bettman. "What they need is more space and electricity and water," she said of the improvements.
Councilor Andrea Ortiz noted that the city had never before spent money to help the market.
Kelly said that Fred Kent, a downtown revitalization expert the city brought to Eugene a decade ago, marveled that other cities were struggling to create a downtown farmers market while Eugene already had a thriving operation. Kelly remembered Kent wondering, "Why aren't you people falling all over yourselves to keep and improve this?" — Alan Pittman
BLIGHT ATTRACTS VAGRANTS
The city is trying to attract investors to revitalize downtown Eugene, but the "unrelenting vandalism" and homeless, mentally ill, drunk, addicted and/or sex offender people hanging out along Broadway may scare investors away, officials from the Downtown Eugene Inc. business group told the Police Commission last month.
Steve Scarborough, who manages the red-coat security guards employed by DEI, said there were usually eight to 12 chronically mentally ill persons living downtown on Broadway, along with three or four convicted sex offenders, according to Oct. 12 meeting minutes.
Michelle Emmons of DEI described the "unrelenting vandalism," including window etchings and graffiti along Broadway from Charnelton to Willamette Street, and said that a homeless camp had been removed from under the One East Broadway building, the minutes reported.
Meeting participants offered various solutions. Commissioner Carla Newbre said a public homeless shelter might help transition people back to housing. But DEI officials alleged most of the homeless people downtown were homeless by choice, wandering drunks and addicts, according to minutes.
Police Lt. Scott Fellman said an "exclusion" ordinance banning people accused of crimes from the area would help reduce the problem. A similar ordinance was in effect when the area was a pedestrian mall, but the approach raised questions of civil rights and simply shifting problems to other areas.
Police staffer Tod Schneider suggested security cameras, classical music and high pitched "mosquito" sirens that older people can't hear but that irritate young people. But Schneider said the real "elephant in the room" was the number of empty buildings along the street.
Much of the vacant property is owned by Tom Connor and Don Woolley. Critics have accused Connor and Woolley of blighting the area by forcing tenants out and leaving buildings vacant or boarded up rather than investing in redevelopment or selling or renting them for reasonable prices. — Alan Pittman
$26 PER VOTE BUT TORREY STILL LOST
Republican Jim Torrey, the former mayor of Eugene, spent $26 per vote, a total of $614,000, to try and get elected to the Oregon Senate, and lost.
Incumbent Democrat Vicki Walker trailed the money race with a total of $532,000, but she won the election with 52 percent of the vote.
Torrey's campaign was funded largely by timber barons, polluters, developers and corporations either directly or through their political action committees (PACs) or Republican Party leaders, according to finance reports.
Walker was funded largely by teacher and other public employee unions either directly or through their PACs and Democratic Party leaders.
In the last week of the election, Torrey's donors pumped $109,000 into his campaign. The money came mostly through Republican leaders and their PACs who are funded largely by timber, corporate, polluter and developer interests.
Walker reported $57,000 in contributions in the campaign's final week, $35,000 from a state teachers union PAC.
The $1.15 million combined total the two candidates spent on the race represents a new record for a Lane County election. State Measures 46 and 47 also on the ballot sought to limit the influence of big money on elections.
But the constitutional amendment Measure 46 failed while 47's contribution limits passed. Measure supporters hope the Oregon Supreme Court will reconsider its earlier ruling that big political contributions are constitutionally projected free speech. If not, they hope that at least the additional disclosure and reporting requirements in Measure 47 will remain in effect.
Oregon's secretary of state last week said no part of Measure 47 will go into effect, but measure backer Dan Meek was critical of the statement and predicted the issue will be settled in the courts.— Alan Pittma
ACTION TO CLOSE SOA
An estimated 22,000 peace activists participated in a "Close the SOA" Action at Fort Benning, Ga., last weekend, including a delegation from the Eugene area. Here at home, about three dozen people showed up for a rally and vigil in downtown Eugene Saturday, standing in solidarity with the protests in Georgia.
The School of the Americas (SOA) was re-named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, but activists use its historic name to highlight the continuing human rights abuses by graduates of the school.
Sunday's mass gathering in Georgia was at the gates of Fort Benning and featured a funeral procession led by Latin American torture survivors and social justice movement leaders, among them Renato Antonio Areiza from the Colombian Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. Last year, Renato's sister was murdered by troops under the command of an SOA graduate. Five activists from the Eugene area were there but were not arrested: Peg Morton, Sister John Maureen Backenstos, Laeh-Maggie Garfield, Dorothy Blackcrow Mack and Trudy Maloney. Morton has been arrested in previous actions and spent three months in a federal prison.
More than a dozen protesters were arrested when they breached the fence and entered the military base.
Lane CountyHerbicide Spray Schedule
• At least 86,284 acres within Lane County have been targeted in Oregon Department of Forestry notifications filed between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 to receive aerial or ground applications of herbicides in 2006. Visit www.forestlanddwellers.org for details of locations, land owners and herbicide application operators.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers 342-8332
• In the Slant column last week regarding the departure of KOPT's Nancy Stapp, the wrong call letters were used in reference to the public radio station that carries Jefferson Exchange. The station is KRVM.
• The Gold Lake Sno-Park shelters mentioned in "Snow Trek" (11/9) do not require reservations and are free for shared public use. Two overnight shelters southeast of Oakridge on Forest Service Road 21 — Warner Mountain Lookout and Timpanogas Snow Shelter — are $40/night and can be reserved by visiting www.reserveusa.comor calling (877) 444-6777.
We're pleased to hear that the EWEB Board has set a goal to design a decent fish ladder around Trail Bridge Dam on the upper McKenzie. The idea of trapping salmon and bull trout and providing a taxi service around the dam might be cheaper in the short run, but more expensive over time, particularly if you attach a value to damaging the fish and their reproduction. No fish we know wants to ride in a sloshing metal tank with funny smelling water.
David Korten might be the only writer/speaker in America who can discuss global warming, peak oil, and the collapse of the dollar and leave his listeners with some optimism. That's what he did last Saturday night with an audience of more than 400 in the First Christian Church in downtown Eugene. Korten established himself as an edge thinker on corporate globalization with his 1995 book, When Corporations Rule the World. His new book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community describes climate change, peak oil, and the dollar collapse coming together as the perfect storm that will derail the global economy. So what's the good news? Korten says this will be an opportunity to create something better — maybe local, community-based, sustainable businesses. He called on his audience to help bring about this "great turning" because he doubts that political leaders will lead in truly new directions. Speaking of new directions, his Eugene visit was sponsored by leaders in the local faith community and ELAW, an international environmental organization based in Eugene.
Lots of talk about the city of Eugene buying the county's so-called butterfly parking garage downtown for a new City Hall site, and we've written in this column about some willingness on the county staff's part to a deal that provides replacement parking for county workers. But we're also hearing about some grumbles among county commissioners. It apparently irks the commissioners to read about city plans for county property without being consulted directly or included in the planning. What might overcome that irritation? How about a joint council/commission meeting? How about a proposal to swap the butterfly lot for something the county desperately needs — maybe a new county health building? And we bet the county would love to take over the current City Hall building if it becomes available.
Speaking of county government, what's going to happen when Commissioner Anna Morrison cleans out her desk in January and Bill Fleenor moves in his pencils and Rolodex? Well, Morrison's been on the wrong side of many 3-2 votes in recent years, and she's not done voting yet. We'd like to see some of those environmentally damaging decisions revisited in 2007. Fleenor's coming on at a tough time. Federal timber revenues are running out, and some painful decisions are looming for the board regarding county services. Morrison favored eliminating entire county functions during hard times, particularly social services that she didn't like. We expect Fleenor will have a more pragmatic attitude, recognizing that social service, education and health programs more than pay for themselves over time.
Earlier this month we got an Oregon State Police email bulletin with photo attached announcing a pot bust on I-5. Some bloke got pulled over by OSP and the officer sniffed marijuana. A search of the car turned up 14 ounces. Granted, that would make a Cheech and Chong-sized doobie, but come on, now — a statewide bulletin and a mug shot for a guy with a few baggies?
Perhaps the most inspiring message to carry away from CALC's 40th birthday bash last weekend in the Hilton was that the Community Alliance of Lane County persists, stronger than ever. Marion Malcolm spoke with the same zest she showed in a program photo, circa 1978, with Doug Barber and Cindy Kokis. And the 2007 CALC calendar tells the story: Springfield Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, Jan. 15; protest on anniversary of Iraq invasion; Back to Back/Got Your Back campaign event; Understanding Anti-Semitism workshop; counter-recruitment work in Lane County high schools; Cesar Chavez commemoration in Springfield; Memorial Day signature ad in R-G; working to free Suzanne Swift and end command rape. Plus, CALC promises "to respond to threats and opportunities throughout the year, in partnership with our allies!" Forty more, please.
The city of Eugene is spending taxpayer money — we're not sure of the total yet — to negotiate purchase rights for downtown properties along Broadway, but it appears at least two members of the City Council were not kept in the loop regarding the negotations. After the Connor & Woolley deal fell through, the council directed City Manager Dennis Taylor to try to find a way to deal with the vacancies and blight on Broadway. Taylor and his planning staff decided to pay appraiser John Brown $20,000 in urban renewal funds, plus legal expenses, to work out the deals, and more thousands were spent to buy the options on the assembled properties. We can see the value in confidentiality in sensitive negotiations, but why not inform all the councilors? The council will eyeball the options Monday to see what, if anything, they want to do with them. We're crossing our fingers for a positive outcome.
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, email@example.com
"I was artistic as a kid," says stockbroker Randy Stender, local arts activist and a founder of the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA). "My creativity in recent years has been creating venues for public art." After high school in the Bay Area, Stender came north for degrees in business and history from Lewis and Clark. He spent a year in Europe, then returned to Portland, where he began a 27-year (so far) career at Merrill Lynch, and met his wife, Susanne. Four years later they moved to Eugene. In the early '90s, Stender and Dottie Chase founded the Gallery at the Airport, now in its 14th year. "I wanted to support visual arts," he notes. Ten years later, Mayor Jim Torrey asked him and others to look at the old Sears Building as a possible art center. "Too big and too ugly," they reported. Instead, they expanded their group and launched DIVA three years ago in offices vacated by the Oregon Festival of American Music. "We just had to slap some paint on the walls. It's perfect for what we had in mind," says Stender. "We've had 12,000 visitors and shown 200 artists in the last year." — Paul Neevel