Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
FOREST PROTESTS: MORE THAN HUGGING TREES
|courtesy of Cascadia forest defenders|
There’s an art to a good protest, activists say. It’s not just about getting worked up about a cause; it’s doing research on the issue, knowing citizens’ rights when the cops show up and working with the media so people know there’s a protest in the first place.
Hikers out in the McKenzie on the sunny weekend of June 11 to 13 might have seen the 70 or folks that showed up for the 2010 West Coast Earth First! Rendezvous and Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) action camp. The free camp near Blue River taught skills from tree climbing to wildlife tracking in order to help train conservationists and activists in the skills needed to understand and protect the Pacific Northwest’s natural areas.
The camp was accessible by bus and culminated in a protest at the McKenzie River Ranger District ranger station. According to Samantha Chirillo, one of the camp’s organizers, the purpose of the camp and subsequent rally was to “encourage new Forest Service leadership to take a new direction as stewards protecting the forest that is the source of Eugene’s drinking water as Eugene grapples with growth and faces climate change and resource depletion.”
The rally called for the cancellation of the Trapper and Two Bee timber sales in the Willamette National Forest, bought by Seneca Jones Timber Company. The group also pushed for cancellation of the Certification Thin project and timber sale that was under appeal by local conservation groups. The thin was canceled June 14, (see story in this issue).
For more information on the camp and future forest defense actions go to forestdefensenow.org — Camilla Mortensen
TASER POLICY? WHO KNOWS
The Eugene City Council endorsed a vague new police Taser policy that appears unlikely to substantially change how the police use the potentially lethal 50,000-volt weapon.
Councilor Betty Taylor asked Police Chief Pete Kerns if the new policy would have prevented the controversial Tasering incidents of an environmental protester and a Chinese student.
“I don’t know the answer,” Kerns said.
Taylor was the only councilor to favor a clearly more restrictive Taser policy at the June 14 meeting.
Dave Fidanque, director of the Oregon ACLU, said the new policy wouldn’t have prevented the Tasering of environmental protester Ian Van Ornum in 2008. But he said it may have prevented the Tasering of a Chinese student in his bed last year.
But in the case of the Chinese student, the officer argued — and Police Chief Pete Kerns did not dispute — that he would have been justified in shooting the student with his Glock because he feared the student he woke up may have had a weapon somewhere under his blanket.
“That’s bullshit,” Fidanque said. “There was no immediate credible threat.”
But the revised policy does not even require an “immediate threat” of injury to use a weapon that the policy admits “has the potential to result in serious injury or death.”
The policy does not restrict the use of the Taser to people armed with a knife, club, gun or other weapon and appears to allow Tasering subjects who commit only a minor misdemeanor and only pose an indirect threat of minor injury to someone sometime.
Although the policy isn’t clear, it would apparently allow Tasering someone who the officer “reasonably believes” tensed up or may tense up in preparation for possibly trying to fight the officer. The policy would allow Tasering kids after their 12th birthday. Younger kids could be Tasered if they are not “obviously less than 12 years of age.”
The policy contains many loopholes and wiggle words like “should” instead of “shall” and “reasonably.” Any kid, pregnant woman, elderly person with a pacemaker or mentally disabled person or anybody else could apparently be Tasered if they were in a tree sit protest and the officer “reasonably believes” they might fall and injure themselves.
The policy would apparently also allow Tasering a handcuffed misdemeanor suspect if the officer thought she might try to spit at him.
The policy explicitly allows Tasering fleeing suspects who pose no threat to anybody but have allegedly committed crimes as minor as shoplifting more than $200 or selling one marijuana joint.
Councilor Andrea Ortiz said elected officials shouldn’t even be involved in deciding how the city uses Taser weapons, which human rights advocates have linked to hundreds of deaths and serious injuries, on citizens. Ortiz compared it to the council telling the public works director “what size tires we should buy.” Ortiz said, “This really is up to the chief.”
The Eugene police auditor and Civilian Review Board voted unanimously that Chief Kerns was wrong in using the broadest, loosest interpretation of police use of force policy to completely exonerate his officer in the case of the awoken Chinese student. —Alan Pittman
LOGGING PROJECT STOPPED
A planned thinning and clearcut project in the Willamette National Forest, nine miles from the town of McKenzie Bridge, was called off on June 14 after the local group Cascadia Wildlands and other concerned conservationists protested and appealed the Certification Thin project.
The project called for logging and thinning a 65-acre stand of 158-year-old trees. Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands called it an “aggressive older-forest logging project cloaked as an experiment that has not even had a rudimentary environmental analysis done.”
The harvest of live trees was under 70 acres, and the logging would have resulted in less than a half mile of roads, which made it eligible for a “categorical exclusion” from an environmental analysis or environmental impact statement, according to the project’s decision memo from the Forest Service.
Laughlin said that although the proposal “skirted the rudimentary environmental analysis,” it had major implications for older forest habitat. Some of the proposed logging was in habitat suitable for northern spotted owls and some of the aggressive thinning, he said, was planned for riparian areas — areas near streams and other waterways.
“This is up in the headwaters of our municipal water supply,” said Laughlin. “We believe the Forest Service should safeguard all native forests where our drinking water originates.”
He said, “The agency should instead be spending limited taxpayer dollars restoring degraded forests not degrading remaining intact forests.”
The clearcuts, which the decision memo called “gap creation,” were included in the proposal because the area is a “high emphasis elk habitat” and the gaps would encourage elk foraging, the Forest Service memo argued. Oregon’s native elk are not threatened or endangered, but they are popular with hunters.
Laughlin called the proposal a good project in the wrong place. — Camilla Mortensen
COUNTY SEEKS ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
Oil-covered birds and a nonstop spewing plume of crude in the Gulf of Mexico aren’t just an environmental disaster, they’re a reminder that communities like Lane County need to find alternative sources of energy and move away from dirty fossil fuels.
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson says it’s not only about alternative energy, but also about conserving energy. The county has begun efforts to explore other solutions and increase energy efficiency.
The commissioners recently approved contracting with Renewable Funding, an administrative and financing service, to start a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds program that would allow commercial and residential property owners to install solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront cost.
The PACE program, Sorenson says, is part of a collaborative design effort to build off Lane County’s work so far on energy solutions and encourage new efforts.
Sorenson recently joined the board of the Applied Solutions Coalition, group of counties and local governments — rural-to-midsize areas, similar to Lane County — looking to create local, integrated, carbon-reducing solutions to meet economic, climate and energy challenges. The group, Sorenson says, examines the problems unique to these areas and looks for tangible green energy solutions.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to really build projects that will deliver good wages and are either an energy reduction facility or alternative energy production facility,” he says.
“We hear the word infrastructure, kind of a made up word that political people use,” Sorenson says. “This is about building superstructure.” The coalition is looking at innovative approaches to building design and at projects for retrofitting, energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, land use and transportation.
In July, Lane County will host a meeting, a “Laboratory to Marketplace Workshop,” that will deal with what Sorenson calls the heart of the problem — the finances. The meeting will be aimed “at the fiscal side of environmental policy. This is all about educating the finance community,” he says.
“This effort is pointedly starting out not as a climate change organization. That underlies the work for sure, but prosperity is broader than that, and what we’re hoping to do is bring this to a much wider audience and build for societal change,” Sorenson says.
For more information about Applied Solutions go to www.appliedsolutionscoalition.org and for more information on the PACE program contact Lane County Community & Economic Development Coordinator Mike McKenzie-Bahr at 541-682-4118. — Camilla Mortensen
• The Jerry Rust Listening Tour, visiting every community in west Lane County, continues at 4 pm Thursday, June 17, at the El Kiosko Restaurant in Santa Clara; at 5 pm Friday, June 18, at the Deadwood Community Center in Deadwood; and at 4 pm at the Rodeo Steakhouse on Holly Street in Junction City Saturday, June 19. Full details on the web at www.jerryrust.com or call (541) 636-3743.
• Saturday, June 19, is the community-wide “A Gay* in the Park!” event with live entertainment, games, and food and craft vendors for folks of all ages and abilities. Julie Weismann, co-producer of the event, describes the event as “a fun mashup of a community party, company picnic and a carnival.” The celebration runs from 11 am to 6 pm at the Washington-Jefferson Park under the Jefferson Street Bridge. More information at www.agayinthepark.com
• Commissioner Pete Sorenson is hosting a town hall meeting from 6:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, June 22, at the Hilyard Community Center, 2580 Hilyard St., in Eugene. Sorenson represents south Eugene residents on the County Commission and says he wants to hear from residents about their concerns. He can also be reached at 582-4203 or email Pete.Sorenson@co.lane.or.us
• Energy Village is presenting “Think Tank,” a discussion with a panel of compassionate community members, from 6:30 to 8 pm Wednesday, June 23, at Davis’ Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway. Networking begins at 6 pm. Topic of the evening is “Stagnant Youth in the Street: How our community can provide direction and opportunities for youth to improve themselves and Eugene.” Contact Susanna Meyer at 485-1531 or visit http://energyvillage.org
• 4,407 U.S. troops killed* (4,405)
• 31,844 U.S. troops injured** (31,839)
• 185 U.S. military suicides*
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (updates NA)
• 105,408 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (105,408)
• $727.6 billion cost of war
• $206.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($206.6 million)
• 1,095 U.S. troops killed* (1,080)
• 6,232 U.S. troops injured** (6,141)
• $276.9 billion cost of war
• $78.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($78.4 million)
* through June 11, 2010; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
• It’s a hazardous industrial pollutant that’s worse here than anywhere else in the world and sickens thousands, causing many to rush to emergency rooms or the mountains or forces people to sell their homes and move from the area entirely. It’s grass seed pollen, and it’s doing far more economic harm than good. Try to convince an executive to move her business and her family to the allergy capital of the world. If it were any other industrial byproduct spewed into the air, it would be tightly regulated. It’s natural, but so are oil and arsenic. There’s nothing natural about the massive concentration of monoculture grass industrial farming near Eugene. Grass pollen here should be regulated for what it is: a devastating hazardous air pollutant.
• The puff piece in the June 13 Register-Guard about Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz is most interesting for what’s missing. No comments from the left with concerns about Tasers, tax diversions, subsidies to development, moving the police out of downtown, etc. No acknowledgment that this Republican guy from Fresno is the most powerful politician in this town, and he isn’t even elected by the people. Under our bizarre form of government, the manager controls the flow of information to the elected officials and isn’t held truly accountable for what happens. What about that $700,000 blown in the AFSCME contract fiasco? Ruiz’s record is decidedly mixed, but we agree that he is better than other Eugene managers in the last decade. The in-house attorney was a long-needed reform. Now Ruiz has this curious big promo piece from the local daily. Does this mean he’s already applying for a job at another city?
• What’s worse, Duck football’s roster of miscreants or the sports writers who confuse bad behavior with stageworthy melodrama? Jeremiah Masoli’s career-ending bust by the cops last week inspired Oregon’s sports writers to new heights of bathos. “The absurdity and hubris laced in the story of Masoli’s downfall ends up belonging in a Shakespeare festival play,” writes The Oregonian’s John Canzano on his oregonlive.com blog. Not to be outdone, the R-G’s George Schroeder writes about the intersection of Kruse Way and Hutton Street in Springfield where Masoli was pulled over as if it ought to be a shrine. “Nothing at all to mark the place where a college football star’s career died.”
If we’re talking about second chances, how about a column about the need for educating our sports “heroes” about violence against women so that we don’t have any more incidents like kicker Rob Beard pleading guilty to physical harassment after allegedly pushing a 19-year-old woman to the ground in an altercation, or LaMichael James pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge after a fight with his girlfriend led to charges of strangulation and assault? James and Beard were still on the Duck football roster last we checked.
• What’s going on in the arts? Next EW arts meetup (aka “Eugene Arts Illuminati,” the name group member Sean Äaberg invented for our Facebook page) is 4:30 pm Wednesday, June 23, at Cowfish. We’ll be talking with the Lord Leebrick’s David Mort, possibly someone from the Very Little Theatre, some local literary folks and of course the usual mix of artists and art fans. Want to talk Eugene art? Come on down anytime before 6 pm. The $1 16-oz. coffee can fuel conversation for sure.
Meanwhile, the Eugene Shakespeare Ensemble opens Fool’s Journey Thursday, June 17, with a pay-as-you-please night at Sheldon High. An interview with the ensemble’s interim producer should be up on the blog by Friday, June 18. Roving Park Players’ Midsummer Night’s Dream opens that night as well, at Campbell Center. And the Eugene Symphony “sold out” its free Cuthbert concert in eight hours on the day the tickets became available. If you want a ticket, you might have to look on Craigslist for the best deal. Eugene, as the modified motto says, certainly can be a great city for the arts and outdoors, especially in the summer.
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