News Briefs: Pesticide Rally Brings Prosecutions | ‘Stake in the Heart’ for West Eugene Parkway | State ACLU: Exclusion is Toothless | A Park Until the Meter Runs Out | Bad Summer for Outdoors? | Permaculture Gathering | Activist Alert | Handy Gears Up for Fall | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Early Deadline
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Dreams of Obama
Transformational president or another disappointment? That’s up to us.
Happening Person: Joy Hatch
PESTICIDE RALLY BRINGS PROSECUTIONS
One little anti-pesticide rally has turned into an endless stream of controversy. In the latest turn of events, a Lane County grand jury investigation handed out indictments to three people involved in the May 30 rally that ended with the Tasering of UO student Ian Van Ornum.
Anthony Jameson Farley and David Killian Parziale, both UO students at the time of the rally, pleaded not guilty on Monday, Aug. 18, to charges of disorderly conduct, attempted assault on a public safety officer, interference with a peace officer and felony riot. Parziale’s name was not mentioned in official police reports on the rally, and he was not one of the participants originally arrested. Van Ornum, who was also indicted, pleaded not guilty through his attorney on Tuesday. He was indicted on one count each of misdemeanor obstructing traffic and resisting arrest.
The presence of Homeland Security agents monitoring the peaceful rally in support of the Lane County Commissioners’ stance on pesticides on roadsides has raised the ire of activists who also allege police brutality in the arrests of Van Ornum and Day (David) Owen.
Van Ornum was dragged by his hair by the police, according to witnesses, and his head was slammed repeatedly against the ground. Owen, one of the founders of the Pitchfork Rebellion, a rural group allied against pesticide use around their homes and farms, says he was thrown down by EPD officers and knocked unconscious. Owen was charged at the time with interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The grand jury has not yet filed charges against Owen, but Homeland Security’s involvement in the rally and monitoring of the Pitchfork Rebellion has led some to speculate federal charges could be filed. Owen’s attorney, Lauren Regan, had not gotten a response to her calls to the DA’s office by press time but says it is possible that there are more indictments to come from the grand jury.
Witnesses at the rally filed a criminal misconduct complaint against the police, which also led to controversy when it was revealed that Sgt. Scott McKee, who was interviewing witness in the misconduct case, was also interviewing for the criminal investigation. The grand jury did not indict any police officers on charges of misconduct. However, witness Amy Pincus Merwin says she and other witnesses who filed formal complaints against the police were not called to testify before the grand jury.
Owen, Van Ornum and Farley were originally charged in Eugene Municipal Court, but Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad had those charges dropped so Lane County could pursue the case with a potentially less sympathetic jury.
The case also made headlines nationally when local videographer Tim Lewis was subpoenaed by the grand jury for his footage of the event. Lewis, with the help of Oregon’s ACLU, filed a motion to quash the subpoena under Oregon’s Shield Law that protects the media from being compelled to give testimony or evidence from material gathered to disseminate to the public. The subpoena was withdrawn before the case was heard in court. — Camilla Mortensen
‘STAKE IN THE HEART’ FOR WEST EUGENE PARKWAY
Two years ago, federal and state highway planners decided not to build the West Eugene Parkway due to wetlands impacts, costs and local opposition.
But local officials haven’t bothered to remove the controversial project from the official metropolitan transportation plan (TransPlan). The Eugene City Council voted 5-4 on Aug. 13 to correct that by directing staff to begin the process to remove WEP from TransPlan.
“We need to put a stake in the heart of this project now,” said Councilor Bonny Bettman.
Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz and his staff recommended leaving the WEP in TransPlan until the next full update of the plan is complete. Staff said the last time TransPlan was updated, it took nine years to complete the plan. Removing the project now would force staff to more quickly plan for other ways of addressing traffic congestion in West Eugene, staff said. “It’s really a lot of work,” said city transportation planning manager Rob Inerfeld.
Councilors supporting the wetlands freeway appeared caught off-guard by the vote. “I’m confused,” said Councilor Mike Clark, leafing through briefing material provided by staff. “I don’t know that I spent adequate time in preparation.”
WEP opponents said that the project should be removed from TransPlan because it’s unfunded and can’t be built due to federal laws protecting wetlands preserves. “The reality is that the WEP is dead,” said Councilor Alan Zelenka. “The feds don’t appear likely to approve it anyway.”
Councilors Bettman, Zelenka, Andrea Ortiz and Betty Taylor voted with Mayor Kitty Piercy to remove the WEP from TransPlan with Councilors Clark, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling and Chris Pryor opposed.
“It seems to me that it breaks down along the lines of who supported the old WEP,” Piercy noted. — Alan Pittman
STATE ACLU: EXCLUSION IS TOOTHLESS
The recent Eugene City Council decision to enact an exclusion zone ordinance for downtown was criticized this week by the Oregon American Civil Liberties Union as a “toothless tiger,” flawed in both principle and practice.
“On a practical level, we doubt the new ordinance will accomplish the goal of restoring ‘law and order’ in our downtown core,” says David Fidanque, executive director of the Oregon ACLU, in a follow-up letter to EW cosigned by Paul Rhode, chair of the Lane County Chapter of ACLU. “The supposed power of this ordinance is that those found violating an exclusion order could be prosecuted and sentenced to jail time. But in the wake of unprecedented budget shortfalls, the Lane County sheriff has cut jail staffing dramatically, and even the city of Eugene has been forced to reduce its allotment of jail beds. How then can the sanction of jail time for exclusion zone violators be considered a viable option?”
Fidanque and Rhode said there would be no need for an exclusion ordinance if Lane County were not in the midst of a public safety funding crisis. In the past, they said, “chronic offenders could be prosecuted under current criminal laws, the judge could order them to stay away from certain places and people as a condition of probation, and there would be a real threat of more jail time should they violate the judge’s order.”
The ACLU leaders said they are concerned that presumed offenders will have less due process — including not having access to a court-appointed attorney before they are subject to “civil” exclusion orders — and “there still will be no practical way to punish the offenders if they thumb their noses at police and the community.”
Last week, Claire Syrett of the Oregon ACLU testified at a City Council hearing, warning that similar exclusion laws have been ruled unconstitutional or repealed in other cities following discriminatory enforcement (see “Preconviction Zone” news story, 8/14). — Ted Taylor
A PARK UNTIL THE METER RUNS OUT
|Michelle Parkins (in hammock), Lauren Robertson and Aubra Penner relax in front of Mezza Luna and Starbucks. Photo: Ted Taylor|
What would happen if we made less room for cars and more room for open park space in our urban centers? This is the question being asked by participants in the international PARK(ing) Day call to action Sept. 19. A preview of the event was held in downtown Eugene Aug. 14 when students, graduates and friends of the UO Landscape Architecture School temporarily turned six parking spaces into miniature urban parks.
The participants found empty metered parking spaces in the area of 8th Avenue, Pearl and Broadway and rolled out green carpeting or even real grass sod and set up lawn chairs and hammocks. To keep city meter readers happy, the group fed the parking meters and got some help from amused and supportive passers-by. Some fed the meters, and one woman left a dollar bill since she had no change. City ordinances apparently do not prohibit such peaceful activities as long as meters are fed.
“I’ve never done anything like this, and it’s great, lots of fun,” said Lauren Robertson from her parking space on 8th a few feet away from sidewalk diners at Mezza Luna Pizzaria.
Others who came by got involved and stopped to chat. One woman stayed and talked for an hour.
“We’re getting a lot of questions, and a few weird looks,” said Aubra Penner, Robertson’s daughter and a PSU student on vacation.
What did the merchants think about nearby parking spaces being occupied for eight hours? “Starbucks was not a great vibe, but everyone else has been great,” said Robertson.
Others participating included Amy Annino, Christo Brehm, Krinstina Koenig, Michelle Parkins, Lanbin Ren, Rena Schlachter, Lauren Schwarts and Anne Godfrey.
PARK(ing) Day (parkingday.org) began in San Francisco in 2005, and by 2007 had grown to more than 200 temporary parks in 50 cities worldwide. Its mission statement: “To rethink the ways streets are used, call attention to the need for urban parks, and improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out.” — Ted Taylor
BAD SUMMER FOR OUTDOORS?
With gas prices soaring and a spate of outdoor-adventure related deaths in the news is the “staycation” going to trump fitness oriented wilderness treks?
Five people have died on southern Oregon’s Rogue River since the first of June thanks to higher water and faster currents on the popular whitewater destination. Half of those people were wearing life jackets. This isn’t the first time Oregon has had a high number of boating deaths. In 2006 it was the Deschutes River that claimed the most lives — six — while the Rogue claimed two that year.
After Chapin Clark, the retired dean of the University of Oregon’s law school, was killed when a fishing boat overturned on the Rogue on 2002, Oregon required that boaters on guided trips navigating Class III rapids or stronger wear lifejackets and carry a throw bag to pull overboard rafters to safety.
The group American Whitewater, which tracks rafting and kayaking related deaths, showed the highest number of deaths occurred in 2003, when 57 people died shooting the rapids on America’s rivers. However, with 10 million people a year rafting the rivers, the number is still fairly low.
Other Oregonian injuries reported this summer include a Salem man who fell to his death while hiking Smith Rock in Central Oregon and a Springfield man who survived a grizzly bear attack near Yellowstone.
Despite the possible dangers of the outdoors, Eugeneans may want to stay healthy and live a little longer by heading out to portions of the newly acquired Amazon Headwaters Forest after the Lane County Fair to hike off some of that fried food and cotton candy. — Camilla Mortensen
For 11 years, people have been gathering in Lane County to share ideas and inspiration about creating sustainable human environments. This year’s Permaculture Gathering, also known as the Cascadia EcoFair, runs Aug. 29-31 at River’s Turn Farm north of Coburg. Information is available by visiting cascadiaecofair.org or emailing email@example.com or calling 345-6822.
The content of the gathering is based on “an ethic of interacting with the natural world in mutually beneficial ways,” and is not just for permaculture designers, but for “anyone wanting to harmonize their life with the biosphere.”
The event includes camping, meals, entertainment, farm tours, and workshops on appropriate technology, permaculture plants, adapting to the climate crisis, alternative energy, ecobuilding, fermented foods, culture change, relocalization of the economy, gardening, farming and farmscaping, cheesemaking and more.
Sliding scale ticket prices start at $45; daily rates, work trades and scholarships are available.
• An LRAPA public hearing on “streamlining” the permitting process for industrial polluters is scheduled from 5:30 to 8 pm Aug. 26 at the Springfield Public Library. Those who cannot attend the hearing can submit written comments by Sept. 2 to firstname.lastname@example.org (see Slant this week).
• Eugene-based Civil Liberties Defense Center is hosting a wine bottling party and benefit beginning at 5 pm Saturday,
Aug. 23, at RainSong Vineyard in Cheshire. Transportation provided and reservations are required. Contact RSVPs are required. Contact email@example.com or at 687-9180.
• Onward Oregon has developed an online dialogue tool for Oregonians, and Helios Resource Network has accepted Onward Oregon’s offer to moderate a version of this online discussion and organizing format specifically for Lane County. Forums include Lane County, education
, city/county government, development and planning, health care and public health, environment, economy and business, social justice and call to action. See heliosnetwork.org or dialog.onwardoregon.org
HANDY GEARS UP FOR FALL
|Rob Handy talks to members of his campaign at the ‘Clubhouse’ last week|
Rob Handy kicked off his fall campaign for Lane County commissioner Aug. 12 with a gathering at his campaign “Clubhouse” at 6th and Lawrence. On hand were several dozen volunteers and supporters, including his campaign manager, Phyllis Barkhurst.
Green is challenging 13-year incumbent Bobby Green for the north Eugene Position 4. This is the first organized effort to unseat Green since Kitty Piercy ran against him unsuccessfully in 2000. In the May primary, Handy beat Green by 998 votes but did not get the required 50 percent plus one to avoid a fall run-off.
Handy says 300 volunteers are working on his campaign, and “lots and lots of folks have pitched in a little bit of money, a little bit of time, and I’ve been very aggressive in knocking on doors.” He says he’s knocked on nearly 14,000 doors so far.
“Thirteen-year incumbents don’t get beaten very often, and how they get beaten is by an extremely organized campaign like ours,” he says. Handy’s support is not only coming from north Eugene, he says. “All across the county, folks are realizing that this is the swing seat at the County Commission. At the city level the mayor’s race is the tipping point for the kind of City Council we’re going to have the next four years, and at the county this is the
swing seat. Pete Sorenson has been on the short side of almost every 2-3 vote for years.”
Handy says progressive and populist values haven’t been represented at the County Commission. “Green voted for each and every tax break, tax giveaway and tax waiver that’s ever come before him.”
Handy says he’s not opposed to all tax breaks for business but thinks they should be offered not to big international industries like Hynix and Sony that come and go, but rather to selected small businesses, “particularly if there’s a public benefit, if the money stays in the community and they create good family wage jobs.” — Ted Taylor
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,145 U.S. troops killed* (4,138)
• 30,509 U.S. troops injured* (30,490)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (314)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 94,553 to 1.1 million civilians killed*** (94,487)
• $546.4 billion cost of war ($544.5 billion)
• $155.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($154.8 million)
* through August 18, 2008; 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 1.1 million.
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Lorane: Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 202 acres with Garlon 4, Foresters, Chopper, Escort, and Arsenal herbicides for Giustina Land and Timber Company (345-2301) in the area of Fox Hollow, Norris, and Turkey Run Creeks starting Aug. 20 (# 50696). Call Robert Johnson at Oregon Department of Forestry at 935-2283 for more information.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
EW offices will be closed for Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1. Early deadline for reserving display ad space in our Sept. 4 issue will be Thursday, Aug. 28. Classified deadline will be Friday, Aug. 29. For more information, call 484-0519.
• Lane Regional Air Protection Agency is holding a public hearing on “streamlining” the permitting process for industrial polluters but you probably don’t know about it unless you are in the habit of reading legal ads. From what we can tell, no press releases were faxed or emailed, and the notice is nearly impossible to find at lrapa.org (click on Permitting & Enforcement, then Public Comment, then Rulemaking).
This hearing deals with 385 pages of changes proposed by LRAPA staff, and buried in the minutia are some significant changes that could affect the quality of the air we breathe for generations. The new rules are intended to align LRAPA more closely with DEQ and appear to be more geared to minimizing staff workload than proactive and innovative air quality management. LRAPA has the legal authority to develop more stringent rules and regulations than the weak state DEQ, and if we’re not going to pursue stronger controls, then what’s the point of funding our own agency?
The new rules, for example, “encourage” polluters to ”take into account the overall impact of the control methods selected, considering risks to all environmental media and risks from all affected products and processes.” Why not change “encourage” to “require” and set standards and benchmarks?
We can’t blame just the staff for weak rules. They answer to the LRAPA board, which is currently split between industry interests and public health interests, with industry carrying more weight. That balance needs to change if we’re ever going to see any innovation in the public interest. Meanwhile, public input does make a difference (see Activist Alert for more info and contacts).
• Parking meters downtown? As much as we might find them irritating, there’s no consensus to be found on whether parking meters have an overall positive or negative force on the vitality and livability of our city. We have debated this topic for years. In the end it’s an emotional but inconsequential issue, and City Councilor Mike Clark knows that. His proposal to remove downtown parking meters is just part of his campaign to distract us from more substantive issues (such as the crying need for an independent performance auditor), put Mayor Kitty Piercy in an awkward no-win position and get his name in the paper. Oops. It just happened again.
• In this column Aug. 7 we wrote about the big photo in the R-G of Scott Thomas holding a misleading sign reading “A Million Dollars for Police Review While Criminals Run Loose.” Turns out there’s a Detective Scott Thomas in the Eugene Police Department. Is it the same guy? The EPD isn’t saying. And a Scott Thomas has gotten two recent letters published in the R-G supporting the cops and blasting civilian review. Thomas has a right to his express his opinions, of course, but it seems relevant to the community discussion that he identify himself as a police officer, just as the police union leaders identify themselves in op-eds. Makes us wonder who else on the EPD is actively politicizing police review.
On the other hand, we know not all cops on the force think alike. We get off-the-record comments from EPD officers who think reform of the department is long overdue, including a strong civilian review process.
• We’re delighted that Eugene’s annual S.L.U.G. Queen competition is getting the publicity it deserves from the mainstream press this year. Hopefully this means that even more of Eugene’s usually wacky candidates will turn out in slimy costumes on Sept. 5 with their typical display of talents. We cheer S.L.U.G. Queen contender Constance Van Flandern’s efforts to jazz up Eugene’s quirky contest, but we’re puzzled by her reported “disappointment” in the voters’ choice not to give $40 million to developers in the city’s urban renewal measure last fall. The S.L.U.G. Queen’s traditionally use their “rain” to raise money for causes like homeless pets, not big out-of-town developers.
“When I was pregnant, there was a lot of pressure to buy stuff,” says Joy Hatch, a teacher at Shasta Middle School. “I didn’t want to do it.” The daughter of frugal Iowans who honeymooned in Oregon and decided to stay, Hatch grew up in Newport. “My dad was a game warden, and my mom stayed home,” she says. “She hung up the wash, canned, and made our bread, yogurt and hand soap.” Hatch had stayed in touch with college friend Rebecca Kelley, who was pregnant at the same time in Portland. Unable to find a book on eco-friendly child raising, they decided to write one. “We had no idea how to publish a book,” says Hatch, who started writing in the spring of 2007, six months after her son Roscoe was born. “It was a lot of trial and error.” While waiting for their agent to find a publisher, Hatch and Kelley launched a website, The Thrifty Green Baby Guide (greenbabyguide.com). “We started a blog in December,” says Hatch. “Every month the number of viewers has doubled. Last month we had 10,000 visitors.” Three weeks ago, Hatch and Kelley got the news that their book will be published in 2010.