Eugene Weekly : News : 3.22.07

News Briefs: Racism ComplaintsThe Big Hult GorillaA Poet and a SoldierDefending Lake BaikalKucinich Here April 2Savage Loves Up EugeneCorrections/Clarifications |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Destined to Flop?

Income tax referred but not repealed

Acidic Air

Hynix wants to emit tons more

Happening Biz:
Fisherman’s Market


Complaints about racism from Portland black students visiting Eugene for a high school basketball tournament surprised many in Eugene. But many others were not so surprised.

Eugene is one of the whitest, least diverse cities in the nation, according to the latest U.S. Census. Among the nation’s 249 largest cities, Eugene is the 18th whitest. In Eugene, 88 percent of residents are entirely white. About 92 percent say they’re white or at least part white. Only 1 percent of Eugene’s population is black.

The vast majority of people in Eugene have little contact with African Americans in their neighborhoods. No Eugene census tract is more than 2.5 percent black. A section of Bethel between the railroad tracks and Crocker Road has 4,059 residents; only 12 identified as black. In south Eugene between Willamette Street and Lorane Highway, seven blacks live among a population of 2,053. In all of the new neighborhoods outside Belt Line stretching from West 11th around to I-5, there are almost 29,000 residents, but only 228 are African American.

Nor are young Eugeneans likely to meet many minorities in their formative school years. The district has known for three decades that Eugene’s system of alternative school choice results in segregated browner and poorer neighborhood elementary schools but hasn’t taken major action to solve the problem.

The city’s high schools are more evenly mixed. South Eugene High School is 23 percent minority, North 29 percent, Churchill 22 percent and Sheldon 23 percent, according to the latest comparative data. Roosevelt High School in Portland, where the racism complaints came from, has 58 percent non-white students.

Complaints that the city racially profiles minorities also date back three decades without significant reform. An EPD study showed that Eugene cops stop black drivers at a rate 2.3 times higher than white drivers and search them at a 37 percent higher rate. — Alan Pittman




How do Eugeneans in the arts view the Hult Center? “It’s both the crown jewel and the entity that absorbs most of the resources available,” said Marc Goldring at a meeting on Monday, March 19. In a preliminary draft, Goldring’s firm WolfBrown (formerly Wolf, Keens & Co.), the consultant group hired by the city of Eugene to help create recommendations for the future of Eugene’s arts policy, laid out a plan for the future of the arts communities in Eugene, including a restructuring of the Hult Center that alarmed at least one of the Hult’s constituent groups. The Mayor’s Cultural Policy Review (CPR) committee met with the consultants from noon to 4:30 pm, and a public meeting began at 6:30 pm.

Tina Rinaldi, mayor’s committee co-chair, opened by saying that Eugene’s participation in the cultural review process has impressed the consultants by being “far greater” than in any other city that has gone through the process. Indeed, Goldring said, the mayor’s committee ended by setting up another meeting to discuss the preliminary draft, which he called “emblematic of the way this community has engaged in the cultural policy review.”

While the draft recommends some seemingly common sense changes such as ensuring coordination of K-12 arts education and cooperation among the city, the UO and LCC (“separate silos” of arts activities now, Goldring noted), one of the recommendations includes “Conduct a thorough operations audit of the Hult Center to develop a new operating model that will support the facility’s mission in a financially stable way.”

Goldring said, “We understand this is an issue that’s been addressed, but solutions have never been implemented. … Unless the issue of the Hult is resolved, [the issue] will continue to be a drain on the cultural community.” Riley Grannan, managing director of the Eugene Ballet Company, was alarmed by a footnote to the suggestion which reads, in part, that the Hult Center’s “inability to fund raise or present more effectively preclude it from using these avenues to address its need for additional revenues.” Grannan explained that if the EBC and other Hult user groups had to compete with the Hult Center itself for funding, that would be a problem because “there are precious few foundations here. … When the big gorilla asks for money, they will get priority, and we will be far down on the list.” He summed up the recommendation as “something for everybody,” which would mean “nothing for all.” Goldring responded, “The situation is untenable, and it is going to get worse if it isn’t addressed.”

The entire document is available at the Cultural Policy Review website (,where mayor’s committee co-chair and former City Councilor David Kelly strongly encouraged Eugeneans to give their feedback through the “Tactics Review Worksheet” or directly by email before the end of this month. Goldring and Bach will create the final draft during the month of April, and they need comments by March 30th. — Suzi Steffen



When Maj. William F. “Bill” Hecker III came to Eugene from West Point, friends said that he felt a little strange at first. He was dedicated soldier and a lover of poetry, so the Army sent him to the UO to get a master’s degree in English. He then taught literature as an assistant professor for three years at West Point before being deployed to Iraq, where he was killed in January, 2006.

William Hecker

While at the UO, Hecker studied “soldier poetry,” a term he preferred to “war poetry.” At West Point, he published a book on Edgar Allen Poe. When he received his assignment to Iraq, Hecker began to study Arabic so he could read Iraqi literature and better understand the people he felt he was there to help.

“From his morning cup of coffee to his family relationships to his scholarship to his soldiering, he did everything with passion, commitment, intelligence, and care,” said UO professor Karen Ford, who directed his MA thesis. “That made his death more painful, but it also meant he had lived every moment of his life with purpose.”

In his thesis, Hecker wrote about poetry that was published only because its authors survived combat. The poetry “never would have breathed” if not for the Americans who “survived and prevailed in the harshest imaginable conditions for the sake of destroying tyranny.” But Hecker himself would not survive to educate future generations.

Hecker dreamed of getting his Ph.D. when he returned from Iraq and teaching at West Point for the rest of his career. “He loved America, American literature, and teaching,” said Ford.

His time in Eugene helped Eugeneans understand soldiers, Ford said, “He surprised a lot of people here who thought they knew what someone from West Point would be like. And I think we surprised him, too.” — Camilla Mortensen



Two Russian visitors in Eugene for the UO Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in early March visited with Mayor Kitty Piercy and representatives from EWEB. They were Marina Rikhvanova of the Baikal Environmental Wave (BEW) and Sergei Bereznuk of the Phoenix Fund.

Kitty Piercy, Betty Taylor, Sergei Bereznuk and Marina Rikhvanova

Piercy had contacted BEW last year when she was preparing to visit Eugene’s sister city of Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal in Siberia. She says she wanted to understand the environmental issues of Irkutsk, in addition to cultural and economic aspects.

Piercy says she learned about the successful grassroots movement in Irkutsk to defend Lake Baikal against the placement of the massive Siberia-Pacific Pipeline within one kilometer of the shore. Bereznuk was also an important player in rerouting the terminal site of the Siberia Pacific oil pipeline away from a sensitive Amur leopard habitat. Rikhvanova won the Conde Nast Traveler’s Environmental Award for her work, and Bereznuk won a 2006 Whitley Award for his efforts. The Phoenix Fund is based in Vladivostok and is dedicated to conserving the biological diversity of the Russian Far East.

“Lake Baikal is a world treasure, containing approximately 20 percent of the planet’s surface fresh water, and is the world’s deepest lake — home to the world’s only fresh water seal and many species of fish and mammals,” says Piercy. “The Amur leopards are in danger of being lost to the world.”

Piercy says the two visitors were both very interested in learning more about the mayor’s Sustainable Business Initiative and how to engage the mayor of Irkutsk in such discussions. In addition they were interested in eco-tourism. The Russians presented a photograph of Lake Baikal to the mayor, and plans were made to continue the conversation.

“From health care to education, culture to the environment, these sister city relationships remain an important piece of building world friendships and peace,” says Piercy.



Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, Elizabeth, are planning to be in Eugene for a full day of educational and fundraising events Monday, April 2. He also plans to speak in Corvallis. Kucinich, an Ohio congressman and author of legislation to establish a cabinet level U.S. Department of Peace, was invited to Lane County by local peace activist Betsy Steffensen, and the events are co-sponsored by the Democratic Party of Lane County.

All events will be at the First United Methodist Church at 13th and Olive. They begin with a 7:30 am breakfast fundraiser. Kucinich plans to travel to Corvallis for a noon event at a location to be announced (call 753-7431 or email He plans to return to Eugene for a free student forum at 4 pm (register at A VIP event begins at 5:45 pm, followed by the main event at 6:30. A $50 ticket covers breakfast and all the events. The VIP gathering alone is $20, and the evening talk alone is $10.

A number of organizations and businesses, including Greater Goods, are selling tickets. For information, call 344-9343 or email Betsy at




Seattle advice columnist Dan Savage (see interview last week) got a sexy response from a packed house at WOW Hall March 15. He talked about the need for “real” sex education in America, blasted the Republican agenda on sex-related issues, and said mainstream newspapers are losing credibility by not writing about sex in the language people use to talk about sex.

Savage usually gets paid for public appearances, but spoke for free and even paid his own air fare to come to Eugene to defend his column from critics. More than 300 people attended the event. Donations at the door raised more than $1,400 that will be shared among Planned Parenthood, HIV Alliance and Sexual Assault Support Services.



Regarding our March 15 news brief about the Persian New Year celebration, the name of the owner of the Bistro at Oakway Wine & Deli is properly spelled Fariborz “Borzi” Marashi.




Racial slurs and insults directed at black athletes and visitors from Portland’s Roosevelt High School are drawing a lot of press, but not much attention is being directed at Oregon and Eugene’s long history of racial discrimination (see News Briefs this week). A strong community response to such incidents is a good step toward overcoming our shadowed past. We cannot outlaw ignorance and hate, but we can certainly confront bigotry when we find it at the dinner table, on the school yard, in the workplace, at sporting events, in churches, on the streets — wherever we go. Bigotry is learned behavior, and it can be unlearned, or at least silenced, through social pressure and education. What hope can we have for finally eradicating overt and covert racial discrimination? Hope lies with future generations, so it’s disturbing to hear young people today parroting the hatred of their parents and grandparents. It’s up to each of us to break the cycle.

Lane County at its best last weekend — big peace march in downtown Eugene and the annual daffodil festival outside Junction City. EW went to both. While the demonstration against the endless war is covered elsewhere in this issue, we also want to report that cars lined up on Ferguson Road for the sun-drenched festival at the Long Tom Grange. Crowds came to see antique cars, the petting zoo, arts and crafts booths, dazzling quilts and daffodils of all shades, sizes and smells. The daffs sold by the armload. Another hot item was the cinnamon roll, so big it was beyond calories, traditionally made by the women of the Grange. Maybe most interesting was the booth of famous men autographing their respective months in the celebrated calendar of the Long Tom Grange. The signers were all fully clothed.

Dan Savage got a warm welcome during the less than 24 hours he spent in Eugene last week, and we appreciate all the people who enthusiastically jumped in to make the arrangements and fill the WOW Hall for one of the liveliest and most memorable events we’ve seen all year. And of course we are grateful to Savage for volunteering to fly down from Seattle to defend EW and his column from critics. Where were the critics? We didn’t hear one disparaging word all evening, which is a shame. Savage is happy to talk to those with different viewpoints. So, is his column corrupting youth with sex talk? Savage says younger children aren’t interested in any newspaper content, but when kids reach adolescence, they need to learn all about sex in terms and language they can relate to. Meanwhile, when it comes to blatant, in-your-face sexual content, it looks like EW is falling behind the competition. Earlier this month the R-G ran a 16-page glossy ad insert from J.C. Penny full of women in skimpy underwear. Didn’t see it? Check under the mattress in your teenager’s bedroom. KEZI-TV recently broadcast ABC’s hour-long, prime-time Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Cosmopolitan magazine online now offers readers an interactive, illustrated “sex position of the week.”

Honk for peace on Mondays? We hear a Eugene group is preparing to go public with a national, maybe even international, campaign to help end the war in Iraq using car horns and bicycle bells. The as-yet unnamed organizers sent an email to EW this week saying they were inspired by the “honk for peace” signs at the March 16 protests downtown, which received plenty of response. The campaign is called Monday Out of Iraq Honk, and uges people to make a short ruckus at noon every Monday (except near hospitals) until the occupation of Iraq ends. The group is calling itself World Live in Peace and hopes to have a website soon.

Ernie Kent sounded like a coach angling for a new job when he told a sportscaster on national TV after the Oregon-Winthrop win that his Ducks will do well against UNLV if they do what they’re coached to do. Subtle, maybe, but Kent usually is more generous to his talented players than to the brilliant coaching in his post-game interviews. Both The Oregonian and R-G sportswriters offer some version of the story that Ernie has an agent, likes the University of Michigan head coach opening and points to his successful Detroit recruiting as a draw. (Google the Detroit Free Press for more of this story.) Ironic that a rugged ride to the “sweet 16” should end in a job search, but there’s persistent chatter on the street that Phil and Penny Knight are holding back their bucks for a new Mac Court until Kent leaves. Sportswriters fuel the speculation with ink about the link between UO’s new AD and Mark Few, Gonzaga’s super coach with Oregon roots. So where does this all take us? Back to the NCAA tourney couch on Friday night to cheer the Ducks — and their job-hunting coach.

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,




Eugene native and South Eugene High grad Ryan Rogers began working summers in Alaska as a break from studying economics at the UO. “I dropped out winter term of my senior year,” he says. “I didn’t want to end up on the 40th floor in San Francisco or Seattle.” Instead, he bought a boat to fish for salmon in Prince William Sound. A year later, the Exxon Valdez hit the rocks. “I was the fourth boat hired to help clean up the spill,” he says. “It paid off the boat and enabled me to survive.” Looking for an alternative to year-round fishing at age 35, Rogers joined with old friend Mike West in 1997 to purchase the Fisherman’s Market, until then an outlet for Newport fisherman Dick Ramus. “Our number-one product is crab,” says Rogers, now sole owner of the market. “We get crab twice a week, typically from Newport and Charleston. Since Thanksgiving, we’ve had no fuel expense. I had my truck converted to burn our fryer oil.” Rogers still spends his summers on Prince William Sound. “It’s one of the most beautiful parts of Alaska,” he says. “Also one of the mellower fisheries, for weather and for competition.” — Paul Neevel