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The Youth Mental Health Protection Act (HB 2307) would ban licensed mental health providers and psychologists in Oregon from providing “conversion therapy” to minors. Conversion therapy is a largely discredited practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. HB 2307 passed in the Oregon House 41 to 18 on March 17 and now heads to the Senate.

The problems with the DOT-111 tank railcars that exploded and killed 47 and destroyed the downtown core of the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic have been known since 1991, according to Congressman Peter DeFazio, yet the federal government still hasn’t pushed to fix them.

• Union Pacific plans to spray railroad tracks running through Eugene this week.

• Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call 1-888-996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5 and 99 through Eugene were sprayed recently.

What’s the environmental impact of your bud? 

A March 6 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference panel at the UO law school explored illegal marijuana grows in Northern California, home to the Redwoods and Mt. Shasta, and their negative impacts on water and wildlife, including coho salmon and Pacific fishers.

Panelist Thomas Wheeler, program and legal coordinator for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), explained that trespass grows in California’s Humboldt County often consist of thousands of plants on private or national forest land. 

If you were in Lane County in the mid-‘60s and mid-‘70s and actively opposing the war on Vietnam during those years, Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC) wants to hear from you. As Vietnam-related anniversaries approach, including the 40th anniversary of the April 30 end of the war, CALC — which began as Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam — is planning a series of activities. Email at vietnampeaceCALC@gmail.com for more info.

In Afghanistan

• 2,356 U.S. troops killed (2,356 last month)

• 20,067 U.S. troops wounded in action (20,066)

• 1,582 U.S. contractors killed (1,582)

• 16,179 civilians killed (updates NA)

• $792.7 billion cost of war ($785.8 billion)

• $317.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($314.3 million)

 

Against ISIS

• $2.1 billion cost of military action ($1.9 billion)

• $849,200 cost to Eugene taxpayers ($760,000)

Organizers with the Oregon Community Rights Network (OCRN) have launched a campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the Oregon ballot in November 2016 that will affirm the right to local self-government and potentially reframe how environmental debates play out. 

The amendment would protect the right of local governments to pass ordinances — even if they conflict with the interests of corporations — and ensure that these ordinances are legally binding. 

Motorcyclists may see some new laws on the books after this legislative session, including ones that would let them filter through traffic jams and pass through some red lights. BikePAC of Oregon — the main motorcycle lobby group in the state — has been working hard to persuade legislators to take up a few motorcyclist issues. 

Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood is an eclectic blend of houses, businesses and industrial complexes, “a mixed-use neighborhood,” as Ninkasi CEO Nikos Ridge puts it. This mix can bring unwelcome noise to Whiteaker residents: Shouts and music from the booming nightlife scene on Blair Boulevard make their way in to households or, in Ninkasi’s case, industrial noise from its new brewing facility.

When a society uses mass incarceration as a means of control, we know it has social impacts, but a panel on “The Ecology of a Police State” at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) March 6 explored how prisons also impact the environment.

We hear changes are afoot at BRING Recycling as Executive Director Julie Daniel and Director of Communications and Development Sonja Snyder are both planning to retire in May. Ephraim Payne recently took over as director of outreach and communications when Shirley Perez West left. Daniel has been with BRING for 19 years and is credited with spearheading the $3.2 million capital campaign that created the new Planet Improvement Center in Glenwood. She also launched the RE:think Business program and the annual Home and Garden Tour.

• The Eugene Police Commission will meet at 5:30 pm Thursday, March 12, at EPD Headquarters, 300 Country Club Road. On the agenda is “citizens filming officers policy review.” The EPD does not currently have a policy regarding citizens recording officer interactions, such as how far away citizens must stand to avoid being arrested for interference. Email Jeremy.D.Cleversey@ci.eugene.or.us or call 682-5852 for more information. 

It will cost New York almost $20 billion to prepare the city for the impacts of climate change coming our way, according to Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Right now, the default is the taxpayer,” he says. “Why should only taxpayers pick up the cost for increasing climate change damages? What is the responsibility of companies making dangerous products?”

Sen. Floyd Prozanski is quick to explain that he is not working on gun control legislation. He is working on “gun safety” legislation. As a gun owner himself, Prozanski says he is confident the law he is proposing will benefit all Oregonians.

Eugene’s six community garden sites, from Amazon Park to the Whit, brighten local neighborhoods with colorful bursts of tomatoes and chard. It takes a network of volunteers, nonprofits and city staff to keep the garden plots up and running. 

Last year, however, the city of Eugene reorganized its staffing and cut the staff time of the community gardens manager in half, from .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) to .25 FTE.

• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to ground and aerial spray 6 acres located 1 mile southeast of Cottage Grove near Taylor Butte with Accord Concentrate, Atrazine 4L, Weedone LV6 EC, Velpar DF, Oust XP, Oust Extra, DMA4 IVM, Transline and/or Sulfomet XP. See ODF notification 2015-771-03472, call Tim Meehan at 726-3588 with questions.

Pacific Recycling has been fined yet again for environmental violations, this time involving asbestos. (For a listing of past appearances in this space go to goo.gl/fNr376.) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a civil penalty of $32,000 against Eugene-based Pacific Recycling on February 3 for asbestos violations associated with an abatement project at a facility in Independence, Oregon, owned by CPM Development Corporation. DEQ assessed a separate penalty of $10,400 against CPM.

“I’ve gotten better and better in the role of watchdog,” says Commissioner Pete Sorenson of his decision to run again for his long-time South Eugene seat on Lane County’s Board of Commissioners in the May 2016 primary. 

The election might be more than a year away, but Sorenson has already begun lining up endorsements, from local politicians — Mayor Kitty Piercy — to legislators in Salem — Rep. Phil Barnhart. 

Might be too late to reserve a seat, but we see the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce is holding a “Chamber 101” lunch at noon Thursday, March 5, in the Chamber’s conference room on Willamette Street. Pre-registration (free) is required and it appears the presentation is geared to new members. Everything is political in Eugene, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some of the participants raise political issues, such as why the U.S. Chamber has actively campaigned against reducing carbon pollution. 

• The Metropolitan Policy Committee meets from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Thursday, March 5, at Springfield City Hall Library, 225 Fifth St. Scenario planning is on the agenda. Contact Paul Thompson, 682-4405.

• Author David Barsamian, founder of Alternative Radio, will speak at 1 pm Thursday, March 5, at Building 17, Room 309, on the main LCC campus. His topic is “Media and Democracy.”

While her previous position as Oregon’s secretary of state typically did not put her in the environmental spotlight, Oregon’s new Governor Kate Brown is no stranger to green agendas or protests. In summer of 2012, members of Cascadia Earth First! and Eugene’s own Cascadia Forest Defenders locked themselves together at Brown’s office at the state Capitol to call attention to logging in the Elliott State Forest.

Oregon state legislators are worried that their constituents don’t know enough about state government. 

There are three bills proposed in the current 2015 session to improve civics education in Oregon: HB 2977, HB 2955 and SB 484. Each has a different angle, but all stem from the same general feeling: Kids graduating today don’t know enough about the legislative process to understand that they have a stake in the system. 

A representative from a local advocacy group has filed a formal request with the Lane County District Attorney’s Office seeking the release of records from Greenhill Humane Society. 

At issue is whether Greenhill — a private nonprofit that runs its own shelter but also receives public funds from the county to administer the First Avenue Shelter — is subject to Oregon’s public records laws regarding the work it does at First Avenue. 

Greenhill took over the management of FAS from the county in 2012.

It’s school board election season, and board positions are opening up at Lane Community College and Eugene School District 4J. Two candidates, one for LCC and one for 4J, are ready to fill soon-to-be-empty spots, running on platforms of affordability, equity, transparency and more.