News Briefs: Staggering Ducks Abound | Spotted Owls in Spotlight | Fussing Over Fish | Freeways Plan Eugene’s Future | Referendum Manipulation | Meth Mouth Exposed | Connie Brown Remembered | Watada Retrial Delayed | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
City Hall Sprawl
City disses its own goals and rules and heads for the burbs
Maligned Oregon lawyer takes on PATRIOT Act
Happening People: David Wilson
STAGGERING DUCKS ABOUND
Since the UO and city of Eugene endorsed public drinking by waiving laws against alcoholic parking lot parties around Autzen Stadium, drunk Ducks are causing problems.
In the West University area on Friday, Sept. 28, Eugene police issued 68 citations for minor in possession of alcohol, five citations for allowing minors to consume alcohol and 2 citations for urinating in public. The next day, the police issued 16 citations for open container and 16 citations for minor in possession.
At Autzen Stadium that weekend, police ejected 142 people from the football game, mostly drunks. Two drunk people were arrested for disorderly conduct and one for trespass. Local and state police also arrested a total of nine Duck fans for drunk driving.
Retired UO VP of Administration Dan Williams urged the City Council to waive laws against alcohol at parking lot parties around the stadium. Duck fans who drive to the game “expect the ability to consume alcohol,” Williams said on Sept. 24. “We cannot be insensitive to the expectations.”
Last fall the UO warned parents of the grave consequences of alcohol on campus: “Approximately 1,700 college students (aged 18–24) die each year in the U.S. in alcohol related incidents. Along with the above reported student deaths, 97,000 sexual assaults, 599,000 injuries, and 696,000 assaults were reported. … In addition, 25 percent of college students report academic consequences from drinking, including lower grades overall, missed classes, falling behind, and doing poorly on exams.”
Last year 196 people died in alcohol related accidents in Oregon, a leading cause of death for young people.
But while city police have struggled with beer riots at the UO in recent years, the UO has made millions on alcohol advertising tied to sporting events. The UO has made millions more by selling beer at games in its indoor practice facility and requiring fans who want choice Autzen parking party spots to make big donations. —Alan Pittman
SPOTTED OWLS IN SPOTLIGHT
In the wake of this summer’s revelation that the Bush administration’s plan to save the northern spotted owl from extinction is “deeply flawed,” lawsuits filed by local environmental groups are flying fast and furious.
Last week, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to withdraw plans to log spotted owl habitat in the Deschutes National Forest in response to a lawsuit filed by the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Cascadia Wildlands Project and the Sierra Club. On the same day that settlement was reached, the same groups filed another suit to protect the owls from another USFS logging project in a different area of the same forest.
The Forest Service proposed to log 190 acres of spotted owl habitat in an old-growth reserve that burned in last year’s Black Crater fire near the Three Sisters Wilderness. Conservationists argue that such burned forests are still valuable owl habitat. “Owls have evolved with wildfire,” says Josh Laughlin of the Cascadia Wildlands project.
The lawsuit alleged, among other issues, “distortions of scientific research regarded spotted owl use of fire-scorched habitat.” The settlement allows for the logging of 27 acres, while setting aside another 174 acres to naturally regenerate.
The new lawsuit seeks to stop timber sales that are part of the USFS Five Buttes Project near a popular recreation area in the Cascade Lakes region. The USFS proposes to log 4,235 acres that includes, as in the case of the Black Crater suit, spotted owl habitat in old-growth reserves.
The proposed timber sale would log fire resistant old-growth trees, according to Asante Riverwind of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, which “contradicts Forest Service claims to decrease fire hazard.”
The groups are not against all logging in national forests. According to Jay Lininger of Cascadia Wildlands, “the way to reduce fire hazard is to burn the forest after careful thinning that leaves big trees and their canopies in place.”
The Bush administration has been trying to step up logging on public lands; the conservation groups allege that the Pacific Northwest Regional Office of the Forest Service has tripled timber quotas for the Deschutes and other forests, emphasizing larger logs. Lawsuits have largely blocked the attempted increases. — Camilla Mortensen
FUSSING OVER FISH
The confusion over when it’s OK to snack on seafood got a little worse this week after the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition issued a press release stating that the benefits of eating ocean fish outweigh the risks of mercury tainting the fish. Their recommendation for pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat a minimum of 12 ounces of fish a week contradicts the advice of the federal government, which recommends 12 ounces or less.
According to the FDA, for the average person, the benefits of eating a limited amount of fish outweighs the side effects of methylmercury exposure. Methylmercury is toxic in high doses. It can harm the immune system, the gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system. High levels of exposure can kill you. Methylmercury is particularly harmful to fetuses and small children.
Mercury poisoning is not just an issue related to ocean fish. Here in Lane County, fish from the Willamette River as well as Cottage Grove and Dorena Reservoirs have high mercury levels. Fish in the Willamette also have high polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) levels, according to the Oregon Department of Health Services. PCBs lurk in the fatty tissues of fish and, to a lesser extent, in the muscle tissue.
Mercury comes from natural mineral sources as well as human sources like mining. PCBs are chemicals that were widely used in electrical equipment before they were banned in 1976. They are still entering the food chain and, like mercury, can adversely affect fetuses and infants.
If you’re concerned about sustainability as well as health, thanks to the Internet and text messaging, you can find out which fish are OK to eat on your cell phone before you order a meal.
Text 30644 on your cell phone with the message “FISH” and the name of the fish you’re thinking about eating, and the Blue Ocean Institute will get back to you within seconds thanks to their new “Fishphone” service. Or you can use the Internet to access the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s listing of sustainable seafoods that also notes which ones may be high in mercury: www.montereybayaquarium.org/mobile/sfw/
Currently the guide has farmed and Atlantic salmon on their “avoid” list as non-sustainable and mercury tainted. Wild salmon from Oregon, California and Washington are listed as a “good alternative” and wild Alaskan salmon are a “best choice.”
If pets rather than infants are your concern, you should know to never feed Pacific Northwest salmon to your pup. Salmon and other freshwater fish in the Cascades can carry a microorganism that is toxic to dogs when eaten, though it has no effects on humans. — Camilla Mortensen
FREEWAYS PLAN EUGENE’S FUTURE
A little-known regional government agency is pushing big freeway projects that have little to do with official Eugene plans for compact growth.
The Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has proposed $182 million in new highway projects that seemingly ignore local land use plans and could drive more urban sprawl, according to a letter from 1000 Friends of Oregon’s transportation advocate Rob Zako.
The MPO projects include $90 million for two new freeway interchanges along Hwy 126 in Springfield, a $22 million revamped I-5 interchange at Coburg, $51 million for more river crossing capacity in north Eugene and $20 million for widening West 11th Ave.
All the new freeway work isn’t called for in local land use plans, according to Zako. That means the MPO’s highway plans will drive new, unplanned development, Zako said. “We as yet see no evidence” that the costly road projects are consistent with local land use plans or that the projects have “been vetted at the local level (in particular with public hearings.”
Despite the huge decisions it makes, the MPO is dominated by Lane Council of Governments staff, has an undemocratic structure and is not directly accountable to voters. — Alan Pittman
After two city referendums made it onto the ballot in November, the city of Eugene moved to make referendum approval harder for petitioners.
The council passed a change to slightly increase the number of signatures required, but balked in a 4-3 vote Sept. 24 at allowing the city flexibility in when to schedule a referendum election.
Councilor Bonny Bettman said the scheduling proposal opened the door to the city manipulating the timing to make passing a measure harder. Bettman said the city already has “all the power” when it comes to defeating citizen referendums. “It is a very challenging process for the community to be able to do this, and we shouldn’t make it any harder.”
But Councilor Alan Zelenka said he was “unconvinced” by Bettman’s arguments. Not allowing the city to schedule a vote when other measures were already on the ballot “could cost us a quarter of a million dollars” in election costs, he said. — Alan Pittman
METH MOUTH EXPOSED
Is “meth mouth” overhyped? The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy is featuring graphic close ups of mangled, rotted teeth in a national ad campaign (some have run in EW). Some critics have compared current federal anti-drug messages to laughable, earlier propaganda efforts like the 1937 film Reefer Madness.
Meth does hurt teeth, but not directly, Slate media critic Jack Shafer has written, citing medical studies. The decay comes not from direct chemical erosion, but from the dry mouths, soda habits and poor dental hygiene that are side effects of meth addiction, according to Shafer. He notes that similar dental damage can come from many other prescription and legal drugs, such as alcohol. “But don’t expect anybody to call it ‘Miller mouth.'” —Alan Pittman
CONNIE BROWN REMEMBERED
Longtime Lane County activist Constance Peakes Brown died in Portland Sept. 28 at age 90. She was involved in the Democratic Party and was a generous donor to many nonprofits working for peace, health care and the environment. She was the first owner of a hybrid car in Oregon.
Brown was born in Dover-Foxcraft, Maine, and was the widow of Robert Brown, who died in 1993. She is survived by her husband, Lyle Perkins, sons Robert and Christopher and daughter Aisha Elizabeth. She had nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held at 3 pm Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Friends Meeting House in Eugene. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society or the American Friends Service Committee.
WATADA RETRIAL DELAYED
A federal judge in Washington state has stopped the retrial of Lt. Ehren Watada, according to an Oct. 6 story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted the emergency stay in a “rare intervention of a civilian court in the military justice system,” writes reporter Mike Barber in the story.
Watada’s trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday, Oct. 9, in Ft. Lewis (see News Briefs last week) and has been postponed until at least Oct. 26.
A support rally for Watada, who refused deployment to Iraq, was held in Eugene Monday, Oct. 8, at the offices of CALC. A Eugene contingency was planning to carpool to Ft. Lewis to attend the court martial.
“We thought we’d be sending folks to Ft. Lewis, and instead we are celebrating,” says Michael Carrigan of CALC.
Anselmo Villanueva of the Pan Asian Community Alliance says, “Judge Settles’ ruling vindicates the experts who have long said Lt. Ehren Watada has a strong double-jeopardy argument barring a second Army court martial.”
A mistrial was declared in a court martial held in February.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,815 U.S. troops killed* (3,804)
• 27,767 U.S. troops injured* (28,009)
• 122 U.S. military suicides* (122)
• 301 coalition troops killed** (300)
• 933 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 81,405 Iraqi civilians killed*** (81,119)
• $458.2 billion cost of war ($456.2 billion)
• $130.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($129.7 million)
* through Oct. 8, 2007; 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
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Warning to hunters and other forestland users: Timber companies spray herbicides and other pesticides on timber units and roads accessing timberland without posting and without closing units to hunters and other recreational users. If you encountered sprayed vegetation or roads and were sickened by the exposure, please share your experience with us.
• If anyone witnessed or was sickened by the herbicide application to Lake Creek Road which is the access road to the Hult Mill Pond near Horton, please let us know.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• Good news that the new owners of McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center may be taking a serious look at locating their new hospital somewhere besides out in the country north of Eugene. We never could figure out the rationale for either hospital building far away from population centers. Community Health Systems now has an excellent opportunity to compete with PeaceHealth by building medical facilities south of the river and in or close to downtown Eugene. Patients, doctors and hospital employees will appreciate a more convenient location, and that will translate to more business while saving people and the environment from sprawl. Where to put an urban hospital? Most of downtown is empty parking lots and poorly occupied buildings. How about the huge clinic site at 12th and Olive PeaceHealth has said it will abandon? Another good site would be the Lane County Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, our community depends on the whims of a stock market-oriented corporation 3,000 miles away.
• More good news: Some Eugeneans, including some of our staffers, were happy to learn that although they still can’t get married, they will soon have a limited number of something resembling marriage rights. Yes, it’s true, the conservatives behind a ballot initiative to undo the domestic partnerships bill passed by the Oregon Legislature this year (one that would give people things like inheritance rights and hospital visitation rights) failed to get enough people to sign their initiative. Word is still out on whether the mean-spirited groups gathered enough homophobic signatures to put a companion anti-discrimination bill on the ballot, but we hope Oregonians didn’t sign, and wouldn’t vote, for discrimination. What’s that rallying cry — “Oregon is For Haters”? Let’s not go there.
• After pillaging vast swaths of Oregon’s natural beauty, the Stewart clan of timber barons has its eyes on Waldo Lake, claiming states’ rights are being violated and saying motor boat noise is not as big a problem as RV generators, boom boxes and rowdy campers on shore. Heirs of the loggers have sued to block a Forest Service plan to keep gas-powered motor boats off the state-owned lake — one of the clearest, most pristine and unspoiled large mountain lakes in the world. Motor boat noise carries for miles across the glassy clear lake, disturbing the very wilderness experience hikers, bikers, paddlers and sailors came to the lake to enjoy. Outboard motors, particularly the two-cycle models, also literally pump burned motor oil exhaust into the water as they run. Careless gas and oil spills and engines lost overboard are other hazards associated with motor boats. Quiet electric motors today are more powerful and have longer-lasting batteries to provide a way for the elderly and disabled to experience the lake without spoiling it. Gas-powered boaters already have countless reservoirs, lakes and rivers to run around on. Leave this rare natural jewel to the vast majority who want Waldo preserved as unpolluted, quiet waters.
• Our editor is getting some grumpy phone messages regarding Dan Pegoda’s “mean-spirited” satirical cartoon Sept. 27 depicting the new audio crosswalk buttons and their incessant beeping. We’re reminded of Simon Bond’s classic 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Absolutely insensitive and offensive, but funny as hell. For the record, we applaud efforts to make Eugene streets safer and more accessible for those with disabilities. But the beeping can drive you bonkers.
• Check our blog this week for photos and observations of the Gods of Hip Hop & Comedy show at Mac Court Oct. 6. What a fiasco, with the star attraction Lil Wayne busted and behind bars in Boise and no refunds in sight for unhappy concert-goers. Not a happy hip hop scene. Were you there? Leave your snarky rants at blogs.eugeneweekly.com As we go to press we hear from Dustin Locke at radio station 94.9 Jamz that the station is trying to bring Lil Wayne back for a make-up performance. Locke says “the promoters will issue no refunds, and ticket holders are encouraged to keep their tickets.” Sounds like a discount might be in the works. Meanwhile, the station is banning stand-up comic Charlie Murphy from any future publicity or advertising on the station due to Murphy’s “childish” and “obscene” behavior on the stage. Sometimes the most memorable concerts are the ones that go terribly wrong.
• The Bush White House has never taken responsibility for the quagmire we find ourselves in Iraq, the death and displacement of literally millions of people, and the incredible destruction and pollution of housing, public institutions and infrastructure. Instead, the administration is increasingly blaming Iran for the mess, and drawing up revised attack plans. Instead, we should be cranking up diplomacy and encouraging talks on how the U.S. and Iran can work together to restore stability to Iraq. Seymour Hersh outlines the White House’s shifting targets in the Mideast and the likely outcome of one more violently insane U.S. foreign policy initiative. Hersh’s 4,000-word analysis can be found in the Oct. 1 New Yorker or at commondreams.org.
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
Born in Utah to a Mormon father and a Brazilian mother, David Wilson spent his boyhood in several South American cities, where his dad taught English to foreign diplomats for the U.S. Foreign Service. “It was a phenomenal upbringing,” he says. Having survived civil strife in La Paz and a earthquake in Caracas, Wilson went to high school in Junction City and Bible college in Portland before he found Eugene and came out as gay in 1976. “I was born on the same day as Eugene, Oct. 17,” he says. “I love the people here. I’ve kept the party alive.” Wilson has styled hair since his 1981 graduation from the Creative Institute of Design. “I’ve had some clients since beauty school,” he says. A flutist since age 7, he played with Americanistan in the 1990s. “We played the gypsy stage at the Country Fair,” he notes. “It was like Carnegie Hall for me.” His current guise is Orbital Disco Dave in the free-form trio LaunchPad. He was hospitalized for six days by an infection in August, and is recovering gradually. A benefit concert to help with medical costs is set for 9 pm Friday, Oct. 12, at Sam Bond’s Garage.