Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Catch and Release
Dogs and cats roam free after hours
Happening Person: Diana Robertson
ARENA PARKING MAY FOUL NEIGHBORHOOD
If the Eugene City Code were applied to the UO’s proposed new basketball arena as it’s applied to other development, the university would be required to build up to 2,778 new parking spaces. But UO officials haven’t announced plans for any big new parking garages to meet city code requirements designed to protect neighborhoods from choking with cars.
“There’s provisions for zero parking,” City Councilor Alan Zelenka complained at a Jan. 14 meeting. Zelenka said the Fairmont neighborhood in his ward has grown increasingly concerned with the parking impact of the arena. “Without parking they are turning our neighborhoods into giant parking garages, which is inappropriate.”
City code requires arenas to include one parking space for every 4.5 seats. The UO has said the arena will have 12,500 seats. The UO could address the parking dilemma in a number of ways, but all appear problematic.
• The UO could ask the city council to waive parking requirements for the new arena as it has successfully done in the past with Autzen Stadium. But unlike the stadium, the arena will sit adjacent to a neighborhood of single family homes with one of the most politically active neighborhood associations in the city. Also unlike the stadium, the UO has said it plans to use the arena almost every weekend for concerts and other events.
• The UO could argue that arena-goers will walk, bike or bus to the centrally located site adjacent to campus and the EmX line. The location will reduce driving, but the UO has also advertised the facility as attracting many attendees driving from Portland and throughout the state. Only about 1,900 of the seats at basketball games will go to students.
• The UO could use the old Romania car dealership on Franklin Boulevard for parking. But the lot may not satisfy code requirements because it is not adjacent. The lot also does not appear large enough to accommodate all the demand without a parking garage. Building a large surface parking lot would also appear to conflict with city plans and regulations for the “pedestrian and transit-friendly” development of the Walnut Station node.
• The UO may be able to use a provision in the Eugene code allowing a 50 percent reduction in parking requirements for development in designated nodal areas designed to be walking and bus friendly. But even with the requirement slashed in half, the UO would still have to build about 1,400 new spaces.
• The UO could build big new parking garages for the arena. But such garages can cost about $40,000 per space to build. A 2,800-car garage could cost roughly $112 million. A 1,400-car garage could cost about $56 million. Accommodating so many cars would also increase neighborhood traffic, pollution and global warming. A concrete garage could blight the area with a huge ugly structure.
• The UO could implement a highly aggressive “Transportation Demand Management” plan. Such a plan could involve subsidized shuttle buses from Portland, Autzen stadium and satellite parking lots. But to get people to actually use the buses, the city and UO may have to implement a system of parking permit stickers for neighborhood residents combined with aggressive parking enforcement on event nights. Creating, maintaining and enforcing such an ongoing system would be costly. The UO may balk at ticketing athletic donors.
Councilor Zelenka said he hopes the UO will be “working with” the city and neighborhood in the future to address the arena parking problem. — Alan Pittman
NOBEL PROJECT GETS BOOST
The city of Eugene’s Nobel Peace Laureate Project has gained momentum from two sources. The project planned for Alton Baker Park has lined up early commitments of $35,000 from donors, and a member of the Nobel family has been named honorary co-chair of the project.
Project chairman John Attig of Eugene recently announced the participation in the project by Claes Nobel, an Oregonian whose international efforts in behalf of humanitarian activities have expanded the image of the Nobel Prizes established by his family.
Attig also reports that the project has gained commitments of $5,000 each for seven of the American laureates to be recognized at the project site.
“Our project committee has been working quietly but effectively for realization of the country’s first public monument honoring the 23 American Peace laureates,” says Attig. “Active support of Claes Nobel will have a major effect on gaining project assistance nationwide and globally.”
The seven laureates for whom gifts already have assured personal sites in the park include Linus Pauling, Al Gore, Jody Williams, Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jane Addams.
The first $5,000 commitment was made by retired UO professor Roland Bartel for Jane Addams. Bartel has done extensive research and writing on five women who were major peace activists in World War I, one of whom was Addams.
IMMIGRATION AND DIVERSITY EVENTS ON CAMPUS
The UO is hosting two conferences on immigration and human rights in Latin America in late January in a continuing effort to promote and spread awareness about diversity on campus and in Eugene.
“There are many lessons to be learned from the history of conflict in Latin America,” said UO professor Lynn Stephen. The events are being organized and promoted by the Latin American Studies department and in affiliation with the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics.
The first, “Immigration and Citizenship,” a one-day symposium on the policies and politics of immigration, will include prominent speakers advocating for a greater awareness and openness towards better immigration policies and for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Community activists will discuss the politics of immigration policy and how it affects Eugene.
Among the speakers will be local human rights activist Guadalupe Quinn and professor Garrett Epps of the UO School of Law. The event will also include guest speakers from universities from around the nation as well as Secretary-Treasurer Larry Kleinman of Oregon’s Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN). The speakers will discuss the reworking of current border and immigrations laws, immigration policy and politics, and the event will conclude with a book signing.
The second conference, “Violence and Reconciliation in Latin America: Human Rights, Memory and Democracy,” is a three-day conference focusing on the societies of Latin America and how they are dealing with the human rights violations of their recent past. It will also address how they will build democratic societies in the affected regions. “The conference is important now because there are many lessons to be learned from the history of conflict in Latin America and the way it continues to play out today,” said Stephen. Local speakers include UO professors Gabriela Martinez, Pedro Garcia-Caro and Stephen.
Speakers from as far away as New York and Texas will discuss topics ranging from the political direction in which Latin America is heading, to gender, violence and human rights in Latin America, and literature and testimonies from political prisoners.
“Immigration and Citizenship” will be held from 9 am to 4 pm Jan. 25 in 175 Knight Law Center at 15th and Agate. “Violence and Reconciliation in Latin America” will be held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, in the EMU on campus. Both events are free and open to the public. Go to www.uoregon.edu/~morsefor more information. — Mark Arellano
ENERGY ROUND-UP RETURNS
Lane County’s Energy Round-up will join forces with Focus the Nation Jan. 31 for a teach-in on global warming at the UO. Energy Round-up is an annual event in Lane County, while Focus the Nation is bringing together more than 1,200 schools across the country to “focus the nation” on global warming.
During the daytime hours, there will be talks on climate change at the EMU, a global warming rally and a Sustainable Living Fair. Speakers will focus on topics from “Carbon Offsets 101” to environmental justice.
From 10 am until 10:15 am organizers are holding a “campus carbon silence” and are asking everyone to turn off computers and other electrical devices as well as not drive cars for 15 minutes.
In the evening hours, the Energy Round-up begins, organized by Realtor and energy activist Kathy Ging. There will be a speaker’s forum at 7 pm featuring Christopher Dymond, an Oregon Department of Energy senior analyst as the keynoter. Other speakers will address topics from biofuels to reducing carbon footprints.
Last year’s Round-up attracted more than 300 people, says Ging. “I’d like to see Eugene be the creative potential for energy use and radiate this out to the rest of the country,” she says.
All the events will take place on the UO campus from 9 am to 9:30 pm and are free and open to the public. Go to www.uoregon.edu/~recycle/FTNfor more information.
CLEARCUTTING THE CLIMATE
Just in case there’s room in your schedule for one more conference, “Clearcutting the Climate” takes place Saturday, Jan. 26 in what organizers are calling, “a groundbreaking effort to bring together the climate and forest protection movements.”
Local activist and conference organizer Josh Schlossberg has long been trying to call attention to the affects of logging on climate change. Schlossberg says that logging is the “second largest source of human-caused carbon emissions.” (According the EPA, the combustion of fossil fuels is the largest).
“Climate and forest protection issues are inseparable,” says Schlossberg, who works for Native Forest Council, one of 18 forest and climate change groups organizing and sponsoring the event.
In an effort to reduce carbon impact, the conference speakers are all local or regional. Speakers include Mark Harmon a professor of Forest Science at OSU, Alder Fuller of Euglena Academy and Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.
The conference takes place from 10 am to 5 pm in Columbia 150 on the UO campus. Go to www.forestclimate.orgfor more information and a list of events. — Camilla Mortensen
What do black-footed ferrets and romance novels featuring bare-chested Indian warriors have in common? Not much, usually, but a Portland blogger recently exposed a plagiarism scandal that has embarrassed Cassie Edwards, author of over 100 bodice-ripping novels, and has raised $10,000 for Defenders of Wildlife.
Candy Tan, a law student who writes about romance novels with fellow blogger Sarah Wendell at www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com,(“All of the romance, none of the bullshit”) lent a copy of Edwards’ Shadow Bear to a friend. The friend, perplexed by what Tan calls “didactic passages” mixed in with the purple prose that “abused” ellipses and exclamation marks with “abandon,” Googled some of the passages. The web search revealed, Tan writes, “Startling and Eerie Similarities” between Shadow Bear and, “I shit you not, an article about black-footed ferrets from the Defenders of Wildlife.”
Edwards used materials from sources as wide-ranging as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Hiawatha and Pulitzer Prize winning Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge.
Paul Tolme, author of the ferret article, initially mocked the romance genre writing in a Newsweek story, “The prose is standard romance-novel shlock. Bramlett’s bosom heaves. Shadow Bear feels a longing in his loins.”
Tan called such comments on the genre “cheap shots” but says, “I won’t have to sic my ferret minions on him. This time.” Tolme later recanted some of his criticisms in a letter to the blog and wrote, “This crazy saga of plagiarism and hot romance has done more to highlight the plight of black-footed ferrets than any event in recent history.”
Nora Roberts, a bestselling author of more than 150 romance novels, offered to match up to $5,000 of funds raised by Smart Bitches readers to donate to Defenders of Wildlife. The Smart Bitches readers raised $5,000 in two days, giving the Defenders and their ferrets $10,000 as a result of the romance ruckus.
Despite the stigma associated with reading romance novels, a survey by Romance Writers of America showed that 42 percent of romance readers have a college degree or higher, and 15 percent have post-graduate degrees or training. Janice Radway’s seminal Reading the Romance Novel also challenged popular myths about romance readers.
For Eugene romance readers who want to experience the writer, whom Tan and Wendell graded an “F” even before the plagarism allegations, Tan notes: “She’s covered Northwest tribes in her books — the hero for Savage Hope is Makah, and another one of her books featured the Skokomish.” — Camilla Mortensen
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):• 3,929 U.S. troops killed* (3,923)
• 28,870 U.S. troops injured* (28,870)
• 135 U.S. military suicides* (135)
• 307 coalition troops killed** (307)
• 933 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 88,044 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (88,004)
• $487.7 billion cost of war ($485.7 billion)
• $138.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($138.1 million)
* through Jan. 21, 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 one million
• The Eugene mayor’s race always brings out a string of candidates, some well-organized and well-funded and some not. We will know who they are by the March 6 filing deadline. Kitty Piercy enjoys high popularity in polls, so anyone who mounts a high-profile campaign against her has a good chance of ending up a loser — not a good strategy for those with political ambitions. Is former City Councilor Pat Farr willing to take that chance in order to make a political statement? Farr is now working for conservative pollster Rick Lindholm, which might indicate his intentions.
The Register-Guard lately, both in news and opinion, is beating the bushes to flush out a conservative challenger. And if it’s not Farr, we predict an unfamiliar name will end up on the ballot — perhaps someone very conservative who wants to gain some recognition and make a fuss.
A conservative challenger might be someone who’s inspired by the outrageous Eugene Police Employees’ Association leadership’s op-ed in the R-G Jan. 17. EPD has a majority of reasonable, dedicated cops on staff, but such reactionary statements about the mayor and her State of the City address from EPD’s union leaders only reinforces negative public perceptions of Eugene cops. And the tone of the op-ed may have an impact opposite of its intentions: rallying support for Piercy.
The campaign against Piercy is not haphazard. Behind the scenes in addition to the police union are certain to be pollsters, PR and media professionals, construction and development companies, maybe even John Musumici of the infamous Gang of 9 smear campaign of earlier years.
Will progressives mount a serious challenge against Piercy? Probably not, and they shouldn’t. After the filing deadline, we predict Piercy will be the moderate progressive candidate and moderates and progressives will gather around her once again.
• An official local campaign office for Obama for President hasn’t happened yet, but some local Barackophiles are starting their own support group that meets at 6:30 pm Fridays at the UO’s EMU Fishbowl. “We met because we believe that Obama can change the direction of this country,” says Silver Mogart of the group. “We met because we were tired of the same political hack game.” The contact number for the group is 513-9650. Any Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich, etc. groups also meeting? How about state and local campaign support groups? Send meeting notices to email@example.com
• BRT and streetcars don’t have to be an either-or proposition. Eugene could build a streetcar system that would complement LTD’s EmX bus system. That’s similar to the approach Portland took with its streetcars complementing TriMet’s MAX and bus system. Congressman Peter DeFazio is well placed to help find the federal money to help pay for it. The first streetcar line should go right down Willamette Street from the train station to 29th and Willamette. Such a line would reinvigorate downtown, help the environment, serve as a major city attraction and boost Eugene’s livability. Streetcars would be far more popular than yet another ugly cement parking garage or freeway interchange.
• Inspiring grassroots campaign going on in Portland to gather 1,000 signatures plus $5 each to put Jim Middaugh on the ballot for Erik Sten’s seat on the Portland City Council. Formerly of Eugene, Middaugh was a staffer for both Jim Weaver and Peter DeFazio. He’s a smart, politically astute liberal who has been Sten’s chief of staff. No competitor has yet surfaced. Last week, DeFazio strongly endorsed him at a party in Portland. Bike Portland magazine and website, which tells more about the campaign and candidate, is wildly enthusiastic. Jim, a solid environmentalist, bikes to work. Anna Goldrich, a former Eugenean and also a smart environmentalist, is his wife. If you care about democracy, this campaign is especially inspiring because it shows that Portland’s public financing law works to enable strong candidates to compete without playing the ugly big money political game. Time for Eugene and the rest of the state to sign on.
• Isn’t it odd that in all the presidential debates, nobody is talking about global warming, arguably the most profound issue of our time? Maybe it will come up in the Florida debates. After all, if sea levels rise a few feet, big sections of the Sunshine State will be underwater, and salt water infusions will wreck many of Florida’s vitally important aquifers.
• Last week we wrote in our News section about the Oregon Voter Owned Elections Act, and as we go to press this week we are getting details about two public meetings on this proposed legislation to create publicly financed political campaigns in state races. The first will be a panel discussion at 7 pm Thursday, Jan. 24, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. in Eugene. The second will be a legislative forum at 10:30 am Friday, Jan. 25, in Hearing Room E at the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem. For more information or to get involved, email Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson at Peter.Sorenson@co.lane.or.us
• The Bush White House is saying the economy’s in trouble, and the best way to fix it is to do more of the same budget-busting bribes that got us into trouble in the first place. For starters, it doesn’t take a doctorate in economics to figure out that blowing a trillion dollars on a foreign war detracts greatly from our ability to compete in a global economy. An extra trillion bucks invested at home in education, health care and green infrastructure would have long-term economic benefits. And tax breaks and refunds that benefit primarily the wealthy? The old Reagan-era argument is that the benefits will trickle down to the lower and middle income groups; but the reality we’re experiencing is a growing gap between rich and poor, more people without health insurance, rising college tuition, higher energy costs, more people in prisons, etc. A weakened middle class translates into an unsustainable and weakened economy.
One way to turn things around is to raise the bottom level at which poor people start paying income and Social Security taxes. That provides cash that can be spent on food, clothing, rent, fuel and education. Then raise the top level at which rich people stop paying into Social Security. Rich folks won’t miss the money — and millions will go to bolster the Social Security general fund.
On the state level we can work for tax system reform. Kill the kicker for corporations and individuals to create a rainy day fund. Expand Oregon’s Earned Income Credit program. More support for community colleges paid for by a tax on luxury items, etc.
• What is the significance of the Fed’s radical dropping of the prime interest rate this week? Here we can use someone with a doctorate in economics, or its equivalent. The Institute for Public Accuracy provided us this quote from economic policy wonk Jane D’Arista (fmcenter.org):
The current crisis was all but engineered by the Greenspan Fed without recognition by Ben Bernanke of the problems building up as he stayed the course. The excess liquidity that blew up the housing bubble was the result of the Fed’s clinging to reliance on its ability to move the federal funds rate and not recognizing, until months after the high tech bubble burst, that it would have to flood the market to get the economy to respond.
Having thrown out all ability to directly influence the growth of bank credit and ignoring the fact that more and more credit growth was occurring outside the banking system, the Fed failed to see that what had fueled both the high tech and housing bubble was an unprecedented rise in household and business debt and borrowing by the financial sector itself. Continuing to promote its belief in the superior ability of market forces to ensure stability, the central bank turned a blind eye to financial excesses, including the incredible volume of leveraged speculation by financial institutions that has ended in a still-unwinding credit crunch.
Got that? Good.
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
A native of British Columbia, Diana Robertson grew up with cats and dogs at home in the Okanagon Valley. As an adult, she has lived and worked in Montana, California, Oregon and Hawaii. Robertson had her first experience in the animal-welfare field while in Hawaii for six years in the 1990s. “I started volunteering at the East Maui Animal Refuge, feeding animals three days a week,” she says. “It turned into a half-time job raising funds.” Following her return to the mainland and to Eugene, Robertson started her own animal-welfare organization, the Shelter Animal Resource Alliance (SARA). In 2001, she opened SARA’s Treasures, a combination thrift store and cat adoption agency, now located at 871 River Road. In the photo, Robertson holds Bandit, a year-and-a-half-old male, one of about a dozen cats and kittens living at the store while they await adoption. “We adopt out 50 to 75 cats a year to carefully screened homes,” she says. ‘We’re more of a thrift-shop boutique, with higher-quality merchandise. Plus you can shop with a cat on your shoulder.” Learn more at sarasavesanimals.org