Eugene Weekly : News : 2.15.07

News Briefs: Higher Ed in a BindRFK Jr. at PIELCMedia’s View of PalestineSwift Gets TransferBe a Master of Climate ChangeFashion As ArtLane County Herbicide Spray Schedule |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Happenin’ Person: Carol Melia


Higher education in Oregon and in the U.S. is in trouble, due in large part to lack of funding, and voters need to understand that disinvestment in education is hurting our economy and short-changing our future, according to LCC President Mary Spilde.

LCC President Mary Spilde
Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner

Spilde and Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner spoke to the City Club of Eugene Feb. 9 about reduced state funding for higher education.

Spilde says Oregon is not alone in the country in underfunding education, but Ballot Measures 5, 47 and 50 have taken a serious toll. Higher education is forced to compete with social services and even K-12 education for limited dollars. “What’s happening now is not sustainable over time,” she said.

A new round of budget cuts is coming for LCC, Spilde said. She has asked departments and divisions to make recommendations for cuts that will be made in March or April. “Instructional programs will be affected,” she said.

Pernsteiner says he was disturbed to discover that Oregon is one of the few states where older workers have more education than younger workers. “Think what that means for our economy,” he said.

Looking at the nation, he said, “The success and vitality of a country is defined by the educational attainments of its people.”

The City Club talk was not all gloomy. Spilde said LCC is finding creative ways to stretch dollars to meet education goals and is even developing new revenue streams. Persteiner said Gov. Kulongoski’s recommended budget takes steps in the right direction to “reverse the tide of disinvestment” by funding increased enrollment, reducing faculty-student ratios and limiting tuition raises. Ted Taylor



Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Vandana Shiva will be keynote speakers for the first night of the 25th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference beginning Thursday, March 1 at UO.

Overflow crowds are expected for the opening night at the EMU Ballroom, so priority seating tickets are being issued for those registered for the conference. Community members can register for free at

In past years, well-known keynoters such as Ralph Nader and Terry Tempest Williams have been scheduled for Saturday nights when attendance at the PIELC was highest, but Kennedy was only available March 1, says Sam Gaugash, one of the conference’s four coordinators.

Gaugash says this year’s PIELC will build on the conference’s reputation as the world’s most important environmental law gathering. Thousands of attorneys, activisits and students from around the world are drawn to the conference and its more than 100 panels and workshops.

This year the Eugene-based international organization E-LAW has its annual conference in Yachats the week before the PIELC, and about three dozen prominent environmental attorneys from around the world are expected to attend the PIELC.

Other speakers lined up this year include Dinah Bear, Marta Benavides, Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen, Anne Kajir, Winona LaDuke, Zyg Plater, Jerome Ringo, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Craig Williams. — TJT


The Pacifica Forum is sponsoring a talk by Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew. She will speak on “Israel and Palestine: Media Distortion,” at 7:30 pm Friday, Feb. 16 at 129 McKenzie Hall, 12th and Kincaid, on the UO campus. The program is free and open to the public.

Weir is a reporter who has spent time in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, areas rarely visited by American journalists. Her organization, If Americans Knew, has conducted numerous studies of American news coverage of the conflict, including analyses of the New York Times, the Associated Press and prime time network news programs.

Weir will discuss her experiences, show slides, give a history of the conflict, discuss press distortions of the conflict and explain how important a lasting peace in the region is to American security.

Weir is regarded as an authority on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has spoken on Capitol Hill, to business leaders, at think tanks, and at many universities. Her hour-long speech on the subject was broadcast several times on C-Span.



Recently demoted Army Pvt. Suzanne Swift from Eugene is heading for retraining at Fort Lee in Virginia this week. Swift was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington where she was court-martialed in 2006 for refusing to return to Iraq. Swift’s case drew national attention due to the sexual abuse and harassment she experienced from her fellow soldiers in Iraq.

“Let’s hope the folks there (in Virginia) are more humane and helpful,” said her mother, Sarah Rich, this week. “It is the Neanderthal mentality of people in uniform at Fort Lewis that perpetuates and supports military sexual violence. The command there allowed this to happen to Suzanne and then made it worse for her by putting her in prison and stripping her of all her rank.”

Rich said her daughter has been photographed for a story coming out in the next few weeks in the New York Times Magazine. “Fort Lewis command threatened Suzanne with another court martial if she went through with it, and then took away her off-base privileges. Finally, after having to fight with them again, they agreed to allow her off base for the photographer, as long as she was escorted!”


This week, the UO Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) published a summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings on climate change. The U.N.-sponsored IPCC stated conclusively that greenhouse gases are heating the planet and that humans are playing a role in the emission of those gases.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report incorporates the work of 1,200 scientists and 2,500 expert reviewers from 130 countries. The CLI summary provides a background on the report along with implications for Oregon and Washington. Some of the effects we are likely to see in the region include average temperature increases of .5 degrees Fahrenheit per decade for the next 50 years; gradual sea level rise and reductions in winter snowfall.

What can people in Lane County do? As part of CLI’s Neighborhood Climate Council research project, the organization is holding a train-the-trainer program modeled after the Master Gardener and Master Recycler programs. The new Climate Master program will provide 30 hours of training on climate change science and personal action strategies. Participants will then work with households in the Jefferson-Westside and Fairmount neighborhoods to help them cut their emissions by 20 percent in 2007.

The free Climate Master program will take place from March 6 to May 8 on Tuesdays from 6 to 8:30 pm, with one Saturday session. Applications are available online at www.climateleadership.organd are due by Feb. 20. Contact the CLI at 346-0786 or


Passion for fashion! A local fashion fanfare is happening Saturday, Feb, 16 at the Vet’s Club Ballroom on Willamette. The show is called Deluxe District Mode and is created by Deluxe, Women’s and Men’s Fashion Shop on Willamette. Deluxe’s new owners are Mitra and Aaron Chester, and they are getting help with the show from Dagua Nelson (Lady Dove) and Nelson’s mother, Carol Hartley (ClothesHorse).

Dale McDonald, Sara Zagarino, Mitra Chester and Brittany Catter are involved in a fashion show Saturday

More than 35 different designers have worked overtime to show their creations. They will have booths with their designs for sale. One hundred local models will be strutting down the catwalk as well.

No stranger to underground fashion, Mitra Chester managed a Buffalo Exchange in Austin, Texas, for years. She started designing and revamping and went as far as to redesign by hand all of the wedding ensembles that she found in second-hand shops. She describes her own unique designs as “post modernism,” taking different elements to make a new context. For instance, she can do something cute with that ugly turtleneck you got from your aunt.

“The goal here is to look at fashion as an art with the support from the community,” she says. “Eugene is so supportive to the arts; let’s include clothing and accessories,” she adds. The designers can’t afford to design full time, so this show gives them an opportunity to display their creations and get their names out there.

For those who want to learn sewing, Mitra’s mother Debrah DeMirza teaches beginning and advanced sewing Wednesdays at 7:30 pm at Deluxe. For the show, doors open at 6 pm, and the show starts at 8 pm. All ages are welcome, and there will be a bar for cocktails. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door; call 686-0205 for more information. — Aspen River Rosen



Spring forestry and roadside spraying will begin soon.

Twin Oaks Elementary School: Presentation of maps of forestry herbicide spraying around the school (1990-2006) are available at:

Upcoming town hall meetings regarding forestry herbicide spraying around schools: Mapleton School is from 7 to 8:30 pm Feb. 22 at the Deadwood Community Center. Call Forestland Dwellers (342-8332) or Oregon Toxics Alliance (465-8860). See: TownHallMeetings/

Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332,





We’re not pleased to see Springfield and Eugene going their separate ways regarding urban planning, but it’s hardly Eugene’s fault, despite what clueless Sunday R-G editorial page writers would like us to think. Springfield city councilors and mayor are gung-ho for a premature and expensive new land inventory; Eugene councilors and mayor don’t see any reason to jump the gun. What’s going on here? Home-builders in Lane County want the urban growth boundary expanded, and a fresh inventory would show we have less developable land than we had before. No big news. We started off with a huge UGB and our cities have grown. But we still have massive tracts of empty land, brownfields and run-down areas that can be redeveloped. Downtown Eugene has gaping holes, and Glenwood has enough land to keep builders busy for decades. Measure 37 claims are creating more rural subdivisions than can possibly be built. The only reason to expand the UGB would be to reward home builders who have made speculative investments in land outside the UGB. Regardless of whether our two cities work together or separately, it’s time to make choices. Do we grow more compactly, use the land we have available more wisely and protect our valuable farm land — or do we let speculators determine our future based on their profit margins? Eugene has made its choice.

Is that David Kelly’s voice we’re hearing on KOPT? The former Eugene city councilor has joined the Air America affiliate part-time, talking about city stuff Thursday mornings and taping a half-hour interview show that airs at 7:30 am Saturdays. Kelly is still vice-chair of the Mayor’s Committee on Cultural Policy Review. He tells us he’s enjoying a break after eight years of council work but is starting to look for a full-time job. He has demonstrated a strong work ethic and high integrity in public service. We hope he stays plugged in.

The White House is on a roll to inject fear and loathing of Iran into the American psyche. Ooooo, scary weapons with Iranian markings. This scripted campaign is just another attempt to distract Congress and the public from four years of blunders. We have bigger threats to our troops on the ground, such as the billions in U.S. hard currency stolen in Iraq and likely being used to finance rampaging militias all over the region. The biggest threat to U.S. troops, of course, is their very presence in the middle of a civil war. Bring ’em home, and let’s see a surge in Mideast diplomacy. Meanwhile, Bush chasing Iran is like a dog chasing a car down a dirt road. What’s he going to do with it when he catches it? We’re in no position to go to war with anybody, justified or not. How can we tell if Iran is a real threat to world peace? The White House has zero credibility in these matters. One good thing to come out of the confrontation with Iran is that the press is finally starting to ask tougher questions.

Guess who’s coming to town? Rumors are flying like Frisbees at a dog park, and some can actually be confirmed. Yep, John Kitzhaber will be in Eugene Thursday, Feb. 15 for a League of Women Voters luncheon (see Calendar). Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Vandana Shiva have agreed to be keynote speakers kicking off the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at UO the first weekend in March. Winona LaDuke is also a PIELC keynoter. Sex columnist Dan Savage is planning a public appearance at the WOW Hall March 15. Jimmy Carter has been invited to Eugene to defend himself against accusations of anti-Semitism and to accept the Morse Award for Integrity in Politics, but he has not yet said yea or nay. There’s also the little matter of his $50,000 honorarium. What’s the protocol here? Do you charge people to give you a national award? Anna Nicole Smith will not be visiting Eugene or Springfield, except via every radio and TV broadcast and daily newspaper headline for the next six months or until the next weird celebrity dies mysteriously and gets hauled off in a form-fitting body bag. Wait! We weren’t going to talk about her. Arghh.

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,




Born into a musical and politically active Quaker family in Ogden, Utah, Carol Melia took her first political stand in second grade, when she wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the flag. “They had to drag me to the principal’s office,” she says, adding, “I did it with a joyful heart.” A music major at the University of Colorado, Melia has worked in psychiatric rehab at the Laurel Hill Center since 1981. She has also raised three kids and made a lot of music, ranging from string quartets to vocal groups like the Church of the Naked Truth at the Oregon Country Fair. Still an active Quaker, she has expressed her outrage over Iraq by shouting, “Stop the war!” at public occasions, including W’s second inaugural, where she managed to get close-up tickets. When she heard about the Iraq Body Count Exhibit at her alma mater, Melia arranged to have it shipped to Eugene and sponsored by UO student groups. The lawn area surrounding her in the photo was filled in for two weeks with 120,000 white flags, each representing six to seven Iraqi deaths, and 3,000 red flags, one each for U.S. servicemen and women killed in Iraq.

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