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July 12, 2012 02:11 PM

Legendary folksinger and storyteller Larry Penn is in town. He performed at Reality Kitchen Tuesday night (seen here with Jim Evangelista) and will be performing again at 7:30 this evening, July 12,  at Reality Kitchen on Van Buren, across from Ninkasi.

July 11, 2012 03:42 PM

How hot has it been? According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just confirmed what you already suspected: Americans are enduring the hottest weather in our recorded history.

 

The following was sent out his week by the EDF:

 

The past 12 months have been the warmest 12 months in the continental U.S. since record-keeping began back in 1895. NOAA says the odds of our record heat being a random event — rather than part of a global warming trend — are about 1 in 1.6 million.

 

How hot is it, really? Consider these facts from NOAA:

• From June 1t through July 10 of this year, the U.S. broke 147 all-time high-temperature records.

• In June 2012, communities across the U.S. broke 2,284 daily maximum temperature records. In the week of July 1 through July 9 of this year, they broke another 2,071.

• The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 71.2 degrees F – two full degrees above the 20th century average.

• Our miserable June followed the blistering heat from last year. (See NOAA’s new report, “State of the Climate in 2011” at http://wkly.ws/1bo.)

 

Take a look at this partial list of cities that broke records from June of 2011 through May of 2012:

Detroit — 101 degrees, (daily record)

Syracuse — 101 degrees, (daily record)

Mitchell, SD — 102 degrees (daily record)

Minneapolis — 103 degrees (daily record)

Bridgeport, CT — 103 degrees (all-time record)

Denver — 105 degrees (all-time record)

Newark — 108 degrees (all-time record)

Houston —109 degrees (all-time record)

Miles City, MT — 111 degrees (all-time record)

Wichita — 111 degrees (daily record)

Little Rock — 114 degrees (all-time record)

Childress, TX — 117 degrees (all-time record)

  

The blazing temperatures have led to other problems as well:

• The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. is now under drought conditions — the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000.

Wildfires destroyed 1.3 million acres in Colorado and across the U.S. last month.

• Wyoming recorded its driest June ever this year; Colorado and Utah recorded their second-driest Junes.

• At the same time, Florida recorded its wettest June ever — thanks in part to Tropical Storm Debby, which dumped more than two feet of rain on some towns, and spawned flash floods and almost two dozen tornadoes. Duluth, Minnesota also had record floods last month. Large parts of the East Coast got hit by a killer Derecho storm that killed more than two dozen people; more than three million lost electricity, some for more than a week. And Washington, D.C. broke its record for worst heat wave ever, according to the Washington Post.

 

Unfortunately, these bad weather trends are not unexpected. For a long time now, the world’s top climate researchers have told us about the strong evidence of links between dangerous weather and climate change.

 

Greenhouse gas pollution traps heat in our atmosphere, which interferes with normal weather patterns. That means we can expect more — and probably worse — weird weather in the future.

 

Climate change doesn’t just mean higher heat. It means more severe and damaging weather events across the country – including more frequent and heavier rains in some areas, increased drought in others, a potential increase in the intensity of hurricanes, and more coastal erosion because of rising sea levels.

 

Changing weather patterns changes will affect our agriculture, water supplies, health and economy.

 

Source of this information is Steve Hamburg, chief scientist for EDF. He can be contacted at shamburg@edf.org

July 11, 2012 04:12 PM

This just in from the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative folks. Two pot-related initiatives were gathering signatures for the November ballot, but the OMPI effort failed.

 

The Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI) today filed suit in Oregon Circuit Court against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in response to her office’s disqualification of tens of thousands of valid signatures on petitions for Initiative Petition 24. IP-24 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition for adults.

 

The suit was filed by attorney Ross Day on behalf of Wolfe and OMPI in Marion  County Circuit Court.

 

The OMPI lawsuit challenges a range of specific methods and reasons used by Brown’s office to disqualify individual voter signatures and entire sheets of up to 10 voter signatures each in a sampling process conducted in June, before the final deadline for signatures on petitions last week. That sampling process invalidated nearly 48 percent of the 122,000 signatures submitted by May 25 for IP-24, resulting in a historically low validity rate and damaging the initiative’s chance to make the ballot. Other measures submitted at the same time are suffering similarly low validation rates.

 

“Under the policies of Kate Brown, the Oregon Elections Division works hard to remove every possible signature from initiative petitions and for reasons that make no sense,” said Wolfe. ”Instead, they should be working to include as many signatures as possible, thus preserving citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system, as demanded by the Oregon Constitution.”

 

The OMPI lawsuit seeks to reopen the state’s validation work on IP-24 so that the measure can legitimately qualify the November ballot based a fair count of valid signatures from Oregon voters.

 

In total, including the final signature turn-in on July 6, IP-24 sponsors have submitted more than175,000 signatures to the secretary of state, far above the 116,284 valid voter signatures required to qualify the constitutional amendment. If just 66 percent of the signatures were deemed valid, IP-24 would hit the November 2012 ballot. But with just 54.1 percent of signatures found valid in the June sampling process, IP-24 is facing an uphill battle.

 

“The recently developed policies of the state and of Kate Brown reduce access to the initiative process and make it the province of only the wealthiest special interests,” Wolfe said. “A win for IP-24 would help restore ballot access to all petition sponsors. It is time to shine a bright light on the undemocratic policies and actions of Oregon’s Secretary of State.”

July 9, 2012 03:04 PM

Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson is holding a town hall meeting this week to discuss Lane County’s future and the tough issue of taxes. The meeting will run from 6:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, July 10, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. in Eugene. 

 

Sorenson has asked a panel of speakers to address issues related to Lane County and taxation: Anette Spickard, Lane County tax assessor; Jason Gettel, policy analyst for the Oregon Center for Public Policy; and Dave Rosenfeld, executive director of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG).

 

Sorenson says Gettel and Rosenfeld “will be talking about Oregon’s income tax system and how it can be improved and made more fair.”

 

Sorenson can be reached at Pete.Sorenson@co.lane.or.us or call  606-9173.

July 9, 2012 04:11 PM

Jim Evangelista is organizing an ambitious event in the Whiteaker Tuesday, July 10, and needs some help.

July 6, 2012 03:28 PM


 Supporters and organizers of Initiative 9, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), submitted 165,000 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office this morning, and more signatures are expected to be turned in later today, the deadline for initiatives to qualify for Oregon’s November ballot.

 

“With nearly double the signatures needed, we’re confident we’ll qualify for the ballot and we’re excited to start reaching out to common-sense Oregon voters across the state,” says chief petitioner Paul Stanford in a press release.

 

The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would regulate cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older, with sales through state-licensed stores only and 90 percent of the tax revenue would go to the state’s general fund. The measure would also approve and help kick-start an agricultural hemp industry in Oregon, say supporters.

 

“Taxing and regulating cannabis and agricultural hemp will create thousands of Oregon jobs, from agricultural jobs in hard-hit rural counties to manufacturing and engineering jobs in big cities and small towns. With countless applications in fiber, medicine, biofuel, food and consumer health products, hemp is a natural fit for Oregon world-leading sustainability economy,” reads the press release.

 

“A regulated hemp and marijuana industry in Oregon is about jobs, it’s about economic development,” says Jeff Anderson of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which recently endorsed the Cannabis Tax Act. “We need to stop wasting time and allow Oregon’s entrepreneurs to create living-wage jobs. The time is now.”

July 3, 2012 12:43 PM

The Institute for Public Accuracy, which is in part based in Eugene with David Zupan, sent out quotes from climate change experts today under the heading,  "Media Miss the Forest for the Burning Trees."

 

Neil deMause is a Brooklyn-based journalist who has written extensively about climate change coverage, including the article "The Fires This Time: In coverage of extreme weather, media downplay climate change." See http://wkly.ws/1bg

 

deMause said today: "Despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is causing dramatic changes in weather patterns — from increasingly deadly heat waves and wildfires to hurricanes and tornadoes — media coverage has bent over backwards to avoid making the connection between extreme weather events and the warming climate. Instead, reporters have largely hidden behind the truism that there's no way to say that any given event was caused by climate change. Yes, in the same way that it's hard to show that any given person wouldn't have gotten cancer without smoking cigarettes -- but that doesn't mean that journalists should avoid reporting that smoking kills."

 

Joe Romm is a senior fellow at American Progress, edits Climate Progress and holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He recently wrote the piece "Hell And High Water Strikes, Media Miss the Forest for the Burning Trees." See http://wkly.ws/1bf

 

Romm said today: "It is a basic conclusion of climate science that as the average temperature gets warmer, heat waves — which are extremes on top of the average — will get more intense. For the same reason, heat waves will last longer and cover a larger region. Recent research further links Arctic warming, and especially the loss of Arctic ice, to more extreme, prolonged weather events 'such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.'

 

   "Since droughts are made more intense by higher temperatures, which dry out the soil, and by earlier snowmelt, more intense droughts have long been predicted to occur as the planet warms. Since wildfires are worsened by drought and heat waves and earlier snowmelt, longer wildfire seasons and more intense firestorms has been another basic prediction.

 

   "We also know that as we warm the oceans, we end up with more water vapor in the atmosphere — 4 percent more than was in the atmosphere just a few decades ago. That is why another basic prediction of climate science has been more intense deluges and floods.

 

   "Scientists have already begun to document stronger heatwaves, worsening drought, longer widlfire seasons, and more intense downpours. Global warming has 'juiced' the climate, as if it were on steroids. The question is not whether you can blame a specific weather event on global warming. As Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research told the New York Times, 'It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.'"

July 3, 2012 02:02 PM

July 3, 2012 03:36 PM

Juan Carlos Valle, candidate seeking to unseat Betty Taylor on the Eugene City Council in a November run-off, announced at noon today his support for the West Eugene EmX bus rapid transit system extension.

 

The announcement follows a request from EW June 29 asking both candidates to outline their reasons for supporting or not supporting the EmX extension. Councilor Taylor, who represents Ward 2, has yet to announce how she intends to vote when the issue comes before this council this fall or winter, but she is rumored to be leaning toward a “yes” vote.

 

“Our community has had a need for a robust and comprehensive Transportation Plan and vision,” Valle said today. “We need to consider what we need now and what we will need 20 years from now. … I support the inititative of the EmX as it can be a great step in the right direction.”

 

Valle went on to say EmX is a “necessary component of the vision we need to have for our families and our community and I encourage the leaders from all sectors to support this vision.”

June 24, 2012 12:01 PM

We heard unconfirmed rumors that The Register-Guard's highly paid chief operating officer David Pero got himself fired Friday after more than five years. Maybe leaving was his idea, but that's not what we heard. Nothing in the paper or online, unless we missed it. We checked his LinkedIn profile and sure enough, it lists the R-G as his employer from February 2007 to June 2012. Pero was overseeing editorial, advertising, circulation, marketing, production and technology, including the website.  

June 19, 2012 02:29 PM

The Corvallis City Council took a stand against ocean pollution this week, becoming the second city in Oregon to approve a comprehensive ban on plastic bags. A second reading and final vote are still required to secure the ordinance, but all city councilors are on record in support of the bill, which they voted 8-1 to enact at Monday’s meeting.

 

“City Councilors should be applauded for their leadership,” says Sarah Higginbotham, Environment Oregon’s state director in a press release. “Last night took us one step closer to a big victory for our oceans and for the Corvallis community, who came together to reduce the wasteful disposable plastic that pollutes our environment.”

 

Environment Oregon, along with the Mary’s Peak Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Surfrider Foundation testified in support of the ordinance. The coalition of organizations worked to bring together businesses, citizens, and organizations around the issue.

 

More than 2,400 citizens signed petitions in favor of the ban, along with 60 supportive businesses including the Northwest Grocery Association.

 

The city also made history by becoming the first in Oregon to include a required pass-through cost on paper bags of five cents, a policy that has been shown to encourage consumers to switch to reusable bags.

 

The lone dissention represented one councilor’s desire to strengthen the stated intent of the ordinance on the record, though he is in full support of the ban. Because the vote was not unanimous, the councilor will have the opportunity to make additional statements for the record when it comes up for a second reading at the council’s July 2 meeting.

June 13, 2012 01:19 PM

From the San Francisco Bay Guardian editorial page:

Could lowering the speed limit help us reach our biking goal by 2020?

It's going to be hard to reach San Francisco's official bike transportation goal, which calls for 20 percent of all vehicle trips to be taken by bicycle by 2020. Everyone in town knows that; everyone at City Hall and in the biking community agrees that some profound and radical steps would need to be taken to increase bike trips by more than 500 percent in just eight years.

It starts with safety — you're not getting anywhere near that number of people on light, two-wheeled vehicles unless, as international bicycling advocate Gil Peñalosa recently told San Franciscans, people between the ages of eight and 80 feel safe riding on the city streets.

At the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's 20th Annual Golden Wheel Awards, Peñalosa — executive director of 8-80 Cities, a nonprofit that promotes creation of cycling infrastructure that is safe and inviting — laid out a prescription for designing cities around pedestrians and bicyclists (he sees riding a bike as " just a more efficient way of walking.") Peñalosa laid out an agenda for achieving that goal — one that includes a step San Francisco can start taking immediately: Cut vehicle speeds on all city streets to no more than 20 miles an hour.

Even if that were only done in residential areas, it would have a huge impact, and not just on bicyclists. Peñalosa cited statistics showing that only about 5 percent of pedestrians hit by cars driving 20 mph will die — but the fatality rate shoots up to 80 percent when the vehicles are traveling 40 mph.

If there are some streets where it's impractical to have such a low speed limit, it's imperative to have bike lanes that are separated from cars by physical barriers.

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency director, Ed Reiskin, told us after Penalosa's speech that the notion of reducing speed limits made sense: "The logic is unquestioned that slowing speeds reduces the risk of fatality."

But the city, it turns out, doesn't have the power to unilaterally lower speed limits: State law requires speed limits to be set based on formulas determined by median vehicle speeds. That seems awfully old-fashioned and out of touch with modern urban transportation policy, which increasingly emphasizes bikes, pedestrians, and transit, and city officials ought to be asking the state Legislature to review those rules and give more latitude to cities that want to control traffic speed.

In the meantime, Reskin argues that a lot can be done by redesigning streets, using bulb-outs and barriers to discourage speeding. That's fine, and part of the city's future bike-lane policy should start with traffic-calming measures (Berkeley, to the chagrin of many nonlocal drivers, has done a great job making residential streets into bike-friendly places where cars can't travel very fast).

Peñalosa had some other great ideas; he noted that cities such as Guadalajara, Mexico require developers to give free bikes away with each home, a program that has put 102,000 more bikes on the streets. That's a cheap and easy concept — except that so much of the new housing in the city is so expensive, and comes with so much parking, that it's hard to believe the millionaires who are moving into these units will be motivated by a free bicycle.

But the notion of working with Sacramento to slow down car traffic makes tremendous sense — and that ought to be one of the transportation priorities of Mayor Ed Lee's administration.

June 11, 2012 12:58 PM

No coal demonstration is being planned in Portland Aug. 18. Contact richard@goodgrowthnw.org for updates and to get on the mailing list.

June 6, 2012 12:52 PM