News Briefs: Occupy Helps Local Homeless | Who Occupies Local Top 1 Percent? | Hope After Citizens United | Lane County Redistricting Done for Now | Wolves on the Move | EMX Will Make Walking Safer | Celebrating 11/11/11 | Lane County Spray Schedule | Activist Alert | Biz Beat | War Dead | Lighten Up
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
$1.5 billion in freeways planned
OCCUPY HELPS LOCAL HOMELESS
While media attention has centered on where Occupy Eugene will move to next, the occupiers themselves, in addition to discussing where to place their camp, have put effort towards working with those for whom where to sleep at night is daily concern, Eugene’s homeless population.
“In Eugene our discussions have revolved around supporting and even transforming the homeless community,” says Jamil Jonna, a UO grad student and an Occupy Eugene organizer. “There’s a greater hankering for social change in that community,” he adds.
While the Occupy Wall Street movement has focused on issues of economic inequality, corporate greed, corporate personhood and Wall Street bailouts, Jonna says Occupy Eugene has concerns specific to the local community, and one of those is working on homeless issues. Contrary to reports on other Occupy efforts, Jonna says the homeless are “not a drag on the movement but actually part of it when given the opportunity.”
Occupy Eugene started off camping in the Park Blocks Oct. 15 but moved to Alton Baker Park a week later in order to not interfere with the Saturday Market. Jonna says Alton Baker had exposure, safety and other issues and the group moved temporarily to the UO.
Over a period of several weeks Jonna says Occupy Eugene decided to move to Washington-Jefferson Park, which has the advantage, he says, of protection from rain and weather thanks to the highway overpass. He says that location was selected early on and was one of the top choices suggested to OE by the city of Eugene. He calls the city’s willingness to work with the movement unique and says “The city is working with us and we’d like to leverage that, especially about issues such as the Downtown Exclusion Zone.”
On Halloween, OE had a zombie walk to the Eugene branches of several national banks to take a stand against corporate greed.
Efforts in other cities to dislodge occupations have created controversy. In Oakland, Calif., police attacked the Occupy Oakland camp Oct. 25 with rubber bullets, tear gas and other “less lethal” weapons. Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former Marine who survived two tours of duty in Iraq uninjured, was struck in the head by a police projectile and his skull was fractured.
Eugene’s Occupy movement has been marked by dialogue with city officials and a lack of confrontation with police thus far.
Jonna encourages people to participate in the dialogue, and he says the next big march will be Nov. 5. According to the OE website, “Remember, Remember the 5th of November is National Bank Transfer Day … If you’re looking for ways to make a difference, here is one way: If you have a bank account at a corporate-owned bank, move it to a local credit union on Nov. 4th or 5th.” For more info go to occupyeugene.org
On Nov. 9, We the People Eugene will do a teach in called “Occupy Eugene in Context” at Harris Hall with UO History professor Daniel Pope, author of American Radicals; Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center; Stan Taylor of the LCC Peace Center; Carol Stabile, director of the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society; UO political science professor Joe Lowndes; and Occupiers. — Camilla Mortensen
WHO OCCUPIES THE LOCAL TOP 1 PERCENT?
The Occupy Eugene protesters are waving signs saying they are the 99 percent, but who are the top 1 percent here?
In Lane County, the top 1 percent get almost double the income of all of the bottom 40 percent combined, according to state income tax return data on adjusted gross income. That’s about 4,000 people getting almost twice as much money as about 83,000 people.
The income for the top 1 percent in the county averages $561,000 per year while the income for the bottom 60 percent averages a poverty level $15,000 a year, according to the 2009 tax return data.
The income disparity in Lane County is somewhat better than in Portland’s Multnomah County. Here the top 1 percent gets 12 percent of all the income; in Portland the percentage is 14 percent. But in Benton County, home of Corvallis, the top 1 percent gets only 11 percent of all the income.
The income gap in Lane County has also improved a little over the last decade with the big drop in the stock market. In 1999 the top 1 percent had 15 percent of all the income.
Besides social unrest, the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), links income disparity to economic despair. The public interest think tank notes that the last time that income inequality reached such high levels was just prior to the Great Depression.
OCPP quotes Marriner Eccles, a businessman who became Federal Reserve chairman during the Depression: “(B)y taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the (wealthy) denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could only stay in the game by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped.” — Alan Pittman
HOPE AFTER CITIZENS UNITED: An interview with Russ Feingold
Former senator and current progressive powerhouse Russ Feingold will give a free talk at UO on “Corporate Power in Politics and the Economy: What the Citizens United Decision Means for Our Democracy.” Feingold will speak at 4 pm Monday, Nov. 7, at the EMU Ballroom. Seating is first come, first served.
The lecture will focus on the role of corporations in the economy and government, and will address one of the loudest refrains from the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Eugene movements (and the best satire on The Colbert Report), the elimination of the aspects of corporate personhood that raise corporations beyond the heights of persondom.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, settled in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision earlier this year, ruled that the government may not ban or limit political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The decision reversed election laws nationwide that attempted to limit the ability of corporations to influence elections through their enormous financial resources.
Feingold told EW that the Citizens United case was particularly shocking because the narrow ruling overturned 100 years of precedent. This includes two previous Supreme Court cases, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which held that a Michigan law prohibiting corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and part of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, which held that money is property, not speech.
While the legislation for which Feingold is best known, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (aka McCain-Feingold) is still intact, the older framework that the legislation was built upon is now demolished. “What it does is basically kick the foundations out from under McCain-Feingold,” he said. “McCain-Feingold is still valid in that it prevents corporations and unions from giving unlimited contributions to the political parties. That’s good law. The trouble is that the foundation on which has built has been destroyed in many ways.”
To remove the ever-inflating influence of corporations on elections and government, Feingold founded Progressives United, an organization “focused on money and politics and this new phenomenon of corporate domination of our system.” Progressives United uses different avenues to seek the limitation of corporate influence, but Feingold said that a future Supreme Court ruling reversing Citizens United is the likeliest route for change. “I think overturning the decision is the most direct way we can put the genie back in the bottle, if you will,” Feingold said.
Feingold also said he approves of passing a Constitutional amendment that could serve the same purpose, but that it would be more difficult to accomplish than reelecting President Obama, who Feingold believes is likely to nominate “a fair-minded person” to the bench, “a jurist who would do the right thing.”
While the difficulty of a Constitutional amendment is clear — the polarized House and Senate would each have to pass it by a two-thirds majority — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkeley co-sponsored a proposed amendment, introduced Nov. 1 in the Senate, that seeks to correct the Citizens United decision. The amendment proposes to authorize Congress to regulate and limit the spending and raising of money for federal political campaigns and includes the authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures, such as those from Super PACs, made in support of or in opposition to candidates.
Despite the fact that campaign finance and corporate speech can sound like dry, wonky topics, Feingold said people care about the issues, and Progressives United has received an overwhelmingly positive response. “People really get it that this is one of the critical issues of our time,” Feingold said. “We believe that this should be one of the two or three most discussed issues of the presidential election.” — Shannon Finnell
LANE COUNTY REDISTRICTING DONE FOR NOW
The long battle over Lane County’s voter districts has ended … for now, but some involved in the contentious process say the final results could wind up in court. “What you’re seeing is wholesale gerrymander,” says Scott Bartlett, a member of the Lane County Redistricting Task force.
On Oct. 26, Commissioners Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart voted to choose scenario eight, the boundaries suggested by Bozievich after the Oct. 5 public hearing. Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy opposed scenario eight, which Sorenson has also called a gerrymander, meaning the district’s boundaries were altered to benefit a group or person.
While the commissioners have been split down conservative/liberal lines, more conservative areas have themselves been split on scenario eight. This redistricting puts Glenwood and the Harlow area into Springfield, and Whiteaker and west downtown Eugene into South Eugene, and Churchill residents into rural East Lane.
Bartlett says that by packing East Lane, Faye Stewart’s district, with urban residents, it “significantly urbanizes the East Lane district by displacing Cottage Grove as the largest urban area in East Lane.” The Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter against the scenario for that reason, but Stewart nonetheless voted for the scenario. Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg spoke at the Oct. 26 hearing in favor of it.
According to the Lane County Charter, Springfield, North Eugene and South Eugene districts are metropolitan, and East and West Lane districts are rural. Bartlett says the new redistricting plan changes Springfield from 18.3 square miles to 61.6 square miles, making it much more rural. The concerns of residents in rural areas often have a different focus than urban dwellers.
In discussion of his scenario eight, Bozievich says, “The rural commissioners already have to represent several incorporated cities, numerous unincorporated towns and a large geographic area.” He says that eight, “provides the rural districts with the most homogeneous communities of common interest to represent from the metropolitan areas.
Jeff Lozar, head of the Lane chapter of Koch Bros.-backed Americans for Prosperity, told those who objected to scenario eight at the redistricting hearing: “Welcome to not getting your way in politics. Those of us who find the Tea Party movement giving us a voice frankly are thrilled with the turn of events.”
Redistricting lawsuits, if one were to be filed about scenario eight, generally fall into four main areas, according to election reform group FairVote.org: if the process wasn’t timely, if votes were diluted (gerrymandering), types of population counts, and issues with the process itself. — Camilla Mortensen
WOLVES ON THE MOVE
Oregon’s wolf packs have been ebbing and flowing as the predators fight to reestablish themselves in Oregon, but for the first time in more than 50 years a wolf has made it back to western Oregon.
Once a part of Oregon’s landscape from Eastern Oregon into the Willamette Valley, wolves were extirpated — hunted into local extinction — in the 1940s. The last known wolf on the west side of the Cascades was killed in 1946. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that a collared male wolf from the Imnaha Pack has made its way into the Umpqua River drainage.
More good news for wolf advocates comes from Eastern Oregon where Oregon’s fourth confirmed wolf pack has taken up residence near the Snake River. The pack, which roams the Hells Canyon area, will not have a confirmed breeding pair until at least two pups are spotted in December.
Oregon’s four wolf packs are the Snake River pack, the Imnaha pack, the Wenaha pack and the Walla Walla pack. Oregon has approximately 23 wolves, which are protected under the state endangered species law, and, in parts of the state, protected federally.
Wolves have been generating controversy in Eastern Oregon where The LaGrande Observer reports that Diana and James Hunter, who are trying to establish a bed and breakfast near Joseph, had their business efforts protested by neighbors and ranchers at a recent hearing because the couple had hosted wolf tour participants at their home with enviro-group Oregon Wild.
The newspaper reports, “… many who testified against the bed and breakfast based their concerns on beliefs that the Hunters are friendly with environmentalists.”
The Wallowa County planning commissioners decided to pass the decision about whether to allow a conditional use permit to develop a bed and breakfast to the county commissioners instead. — Camilla Mortensen
EMX WILL MAKE WALKING SAFER
LTD’s West Eugene EmX project won’t just mean quicker bus trips, the project also includes the biggest upgrade of Eugene’s desperately lacking sidewalk system in the city’s history.
EmX project plans call for almost five miles or 24,235 linear feet (LF) of new, improved or replaced sidewalks, according to LTD. Here’s a breakdown:
• 3,625 LF of new sidewalks, usually completing missing links in the system and also including two new pedestrian and bicycle bridges connecting the Amazon path and neighborhoods to the south to work and shopping destinations on West 11th.
• 11,080 LF of sidewalk improvements, including upgrading “insufficient, undersized or less desirable (curb tight, inadequate width, no planter strip/trees, utility poles in ped zone)” sidewalks with pedestrian friendly amenities.
• 9,530 LF of old sidewalks replaced with new construction that moves any utility poles out of the way of pedestrians.
Eugene has a safety deficit of 40 miles of needed sidewalk projects but has not identified any way of paying for the pedestrian projects, according to the draft Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. In Eugene, drivers have struck and injured 141 pedestrians in the last five years, killing 11 people, according to state data used by the plan.
The EmX is endorsed by an elected association representing 23,000 UO students, the Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Eugene Sustainability Commission, but the green transportation project is still under fire from a few auto-centric businesses along the corridor and a few right-wing local elected officials. — Alan Pittman
Is there significance to the date 11/11/11? Alan Stein at Star Gate downtown says Nov. 11 this year is an auspicious time to celebrate oneness. And he’s not alone in Eugene or around the planet.
“What’s the fuss all about?” asks Stein in a message to his email list. “Is this date real for quantum change or is this just woo-woo? For those of you who take your spiritual path seriously towards universal love, it’s very real and significant.”
An opening ceremony is planned atop Skinner Butte from 10:30 to 11:11 Friday, Nov. 11, and folks are planning a community event including Sufi dancing from 7:11 to 11:11 pm that evening at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 40th and Donald. A healing ceremony with Nikki Scully will be at 8:30 pm. See StarGateEugene.com for updates.
Is anyone turning 11 or 111 that day? — Ted Taylor
LANE COUNTY SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Jason Klemp (541) 927-3118 will be spraying Arsenal Applicator’s Concentrate on two acres near Lake Creek, a Coho salmon bearing stream, and near Horton Lane in Township 16S Range 07W Section 2. Notice 2011-781-00738. Klemp does not currently have an applicator’s license, according to Forestland Dwellers.
• Klemp will be spraying Atrazine, Glyphosate, 2,4-D ester and amine on four acres. Daniel Klemp (541-927-6181) owns the land near Lake Creek in Township 16S Range 07W Section 9, near Triangle Lake School. Notice 2011-781-00752.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• National Bank Transfer Day is Saturday, Nov. 5, encouraging people who have money or debt at a corporate-owned bank to move it to a local credit union. Occupy Eugene will also be holding a demonstration and march through the streets of Eugene in solidarity with the event, starting at 11 am at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza across from Saturday Market. Credit unions are reporting record numbers of new customers opening new accounts. SELCO plans to “roll out the red carpet” Saturday with extended hours and cookies to welcome new members who decide to move their money to a local member-owned not-for-profit credit union, according to Laura Illig, SELCO’s VP for marketing.
• Russ Feingold, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin and a leader of the progressive movement nationally, will speak at 4 pm Monday, Nov. 7, in the EMU ballroom on campus. His topic is “Corporate Power in Politics and the Economy; What the Citizens United Decision Means for Our Democracy.” This year’s Wayne Morse Center theme is “From Wall Street to Main Street, Capitalism and the Common Good.” Find other events and speakers at waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu
• State Rep. Phil Barnhart will meet with Coburg residents at 7 am Monday, Nov. 7, at Chief’s Restaurant. RSVP to email@example.com or call 607-9207. Barnhart will speak to the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce at 8 pm Thursday, Nov. 10, at Brownsville City Hall; and meet with Walterville residents at 7 am Monday, Nov. 14, at Aunt Dings Family Restaurant, 39297 McKenzie Hwy.
• A Clearwater Park master plan meeting will be 6:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Willamalane Center, 250 S. 32nd St. in Springfield. This is the second of two public meetings to discuss the 65-acre park’s master plan. Contact Nicole Ankeney at 736-4055 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Oregon Parks and Recreation is conducting two public hearings on proposed routes for scenic bikeways in towns along routes through Bend and Tumalo, and through Cottage Grove. Find plans at www.oregonscenicbikeways.org The first hearing will be from 5:30 to 6:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 9. at the Cottage Grove Community Center. Email comments by Nov. 17 to email@example.com
Marché will open Le Bar on Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Fifth Street Public Market. The Parisian-style bar is located north of Marché in an adjoining space. Le Bar will cater to restaurant and bar patrons, as well as guests of the nearly finished Inn at the 5th boutique hotel. No word on when the hotel will open, but December is the target.
Eugene’s Nancy Sanford Hughes of StoveTeam International got word this week that she is one of five social entrepreneurs to win a $100,000 grant from the Civic Ventures annual Purpose Prize. The award is for “making an extraordinary impact in an encore career.”
Steve Musser at the Green Store at 5th and Olive tells us solar sales and services are up, despite the economy, and the store has been busy for a while. He says people who live in shady areas are getting creative in where they locate solar panels.
Saturday Market shuts down after Nov. 12 and then goes indoors for Holiday Market starting the weekend of Nov. 19 with all booth spots reserved. Kim Still of the market says some new vendors will be at Holiday Market this year, along with Saturday Market businesses that have qualified through a point system to move indoors to the Fairgrounds.
Need a small office space downtown? Helios Network has a couple of rooms available at 120 W. Broadway to join Helios, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Basic Rights Oregon. Email Cary at firstname.lastname@example.org
The USA Olympic Team Trials are set for June 22 to July 1 in Eugene and Dave Hauser of the Eugene Area Chamber figures the trials will generate about $31 million in new business for the region. For info on exhibit space, email email@example.com
HACSA, the Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County, is the only Oregon agency to win national acclaim from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. The award is for Roosevelt Crossing, a 72-bed transitional housing development designed for returning ex-offenders, in partnership with Sponsors, Inc. HACSA owns about 1,500 units of affordable housing and administers the Section 8 housing voucher program.
Natural Choice Directory, aka the Healthy Green Pages, now has downloadable and mobile versions of its local publication, including smart phone apps, according to Publisher Larry Fried. See www.healthygreenpages.com
Send suggestions for Biz Beat items to firstname.lastname@example.org and please put “Biz Beat” in the subject line.
• 1,814 U.S. troops killed* (1,809)
• 14,611 U.S. troops wounded in action (14,534)
• 981 U.S. contractors killed (981)
• $470 billion cost of war ($467.7 billion)
• $138.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($138.1 million)
• 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
• 31,921 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,921)
• 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
• 1,554 U.S. contractors killed (1,554)
• 112,823 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (112,724)
• $801.3 billion cost of war ($800.4 billion)
• $236.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($236.3 million)
Through Oct. 31, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
by Rafael Aldave
If the Occupy Wall Street movement fails, it won’t be because it lacked legitimacy. It will be because it lacked enough places to pee.
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, editor at eugeneweekly dot com