News Briefs: Crowd Digs Tree Planting | Umbrellas for Rainy Day Fund | Arena Bike Parking | Tax Diversion Public Hearing | Creswell to Celebrate Earth Day | Jamaican Fiction | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
You might want not to save that scrap of paper
Happening People: Gary Lutman
CROWD DIGS TREE PLANTING
|Mayor Kitty Piercy plants the first tree with the help of Dave Lorenz (left) and a Girl Scout named Helen. photo: Ted taylor
Saturday, April 10, was a big, sunny day for dirty tree-huggers in Eugene as 85 people showed up in front of Eugene Weekly for a community tree planting project. The Arbor Week planting of dozens of trees continues downtown through April 15, involving the city NeighborWoods program, Eugene Tree Foundation, local businesses and community volunteers.
A giggle of Girl Scouts from Troop 20275 was on hand Saturday to shovel dirt and mulch, and one scout named Helen offered her back for Mayor Kitty Piercy’s ceremonial signing of an official Arbor Day proclamation. Also helping out were Willakenzie Junior Grangers and numerous city employees and officials. Speakers included forester Dave Lorenz of the Oregon Department of Forestry, Eugene urban forester Mark Snyder, Eugene Tree Foundation President Eric Burke, REI outreach specialist Amanda Macleod, and NeighborWoods Program coordinator Rick Olkowski. REI provided food, drinks and “Get Dirty” T-shirts for volunteers.
The “Trees for Concrete” project is an effort to create a more livable and green downtown by replacing concrete with trees and flowers along sidewalks. About 12 tons of concrete was broken up and replaced with 20 tons of topsoil. Piercy kicked-off the Arbor Day celebration by accepting Eugene’s 31st consecutive Tree City USA Award.
“This is my sixth year of doing this and it’s exciting to see how this grows year after year,” said Piercy. “I’m really proud of our community for being the kind of community that wants to keep our urban forest healthy and growing.”
Piercy said such tree plantings helps convert excess pavement into urban forests and gardens, and reduce impervious surfaces. “It helps preserve native and minimally disturbed soils in and around cities,” she said. “We are re-exposing native soils, letting them breathe again, and we are creating bioswales to filter stormwater before it gets into the river.”
“Forests provide all kinds of benefits that we group into social, economic and environmental,” said Lorenz, “and we view those benefits of not being independent from each other, but in fact interdependent. The urban forest is just as important as any forest that we go camping in, that folks derive their living from, or the forest that you see on the way to the coast.”
Burke said the Eugene Tree Foundation was founded in Eugene in 1997 “to plant and care for trees and help care for the urban forest.” He said he “grew up wandering around this neighborhood and I love the trees. … I helped plant a row of dawn redwoods just down the street back in the early ’90s and they are now well above the roof of the Odd Fellows Building, and that’s what we can look forward to here.”
EW reporters “will soon be able to write their stories and dig their dirt in the shade,” said Piercy. — Ted Taylor
UMBRELLAS FOR RAINY DAY FUND
|JOY MARSHALL OF STAND FOR CHILDREN ORGANIZES RAINY DAY PROTESTERS. photos: TRASK BEDORTHA
An estimated 150 parents and school supporters opened blue umbrellas along the pedestrian walkway across Ferry Street Bridge Sunday, April 11, to show support for a proposed Rainy Day Fund for schools. The most recent session of the Legislature did not create a Rainy Day Fund, but legislation is expected to be revived in 2011.
Last year, Bethel schools cut $9 million, and Eugene 4J schools cut $20 million, “just to keep the doors open,” says Joy Marshall of Stand for Children. “We need legislators to stand with us, and help stop the roller coaster of school funding. Kids deserve better!”
Marshall says the event was intended to educate local residents about “how Oregon’s ‘kicker’ law prevents us from saving during good times, leaving the state with nothing to fall back on during recessions.”
She says a bipartisan task force in 2008 concluded that “kicker reform was the most important thing Oregon could do to stabilize its budgets.”
Stable funding, she says, will allow for sustainable programs and meaningful progress, room for schools to innovate and plan ahead, a better and more predictable hiring process for teachers, and “an end to the boom-and-bust cycle of school budgeting in Oregon.” Find out more at www.stand.org/or/stablefunding
Arena Bike Parking
Working in a city known for its fervent bicycle advocacy, the project contractor for the new Knight basketball arena said it plans to include up to 625 bike parking spaces.
“Feedback from university developers and Eugene bicycle supporters helped us grasp the importance of bike parking for the arena,” said JMI Sports Project Executive Kacie Renc. “We feel our design will appeal to the community.”
JMI plans 200 permanent bike parking spaces plus up to an additional 425 valet bike parking spaces in a temporary bike corral for the largest events, according to Renc.
City code requires one bike parking space for every 20 seats in a facility like the arena. For the 12,500 seat arena, that’s 625 spaces. The city gave a conditional use permit to the arena, which can allow for deviations from the city code.
According to Renc, 200 bike parking spaces, made up of standard bike racks, lockers and cages will be scattered around the site with 50 of those spaces in the underground parking garage. A bike valet service, similar to the Autzen Stadium “Duck Pen,” will also accommodate up to 425 additional bicycles for the largest events.
JMI Sports conducted a bike traffic study at MacArthur Court during the last basketball season, and said they found a maximum amount of 39 bikes using the neighboring bike racks.
“Based on these results,” said Renc, “I’m sure the additional bike parking at Matt Court will be more than sufficient.”
Fred Tepfer, project manager for Campus Planning and Real Estate and member of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee, has been involved with campus bicycle projects since the mid-’80s. His most recent project involvement was at the new College of Education building. But due to JMI’s conditional use permit for the campus arena, Tepfer has not been involved with the arena’s bike parking plan.
“Without much campus planning assistance, JMI’s conditional use permit leaves them at their own peril,” said Tepfer, adding that he believes the one in 20 seat ratio to be “pretty good.”
However, Tepfer said the underground bike parking areas may be unpopular, a trend he saw in the underground parking at the new education building.
In recent years, Tepfer has seen a notable drop off of the use of cars by students and faculty alike. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the campus planning and safety departments, driving rates have slowly sunk. Now17.4 percent of all students and 14.6 percent of faculty and staff members bicycle to campus.
“As more students and faculty members ride their bikes to school, the campus [bike] transportation issues will grow,” said Tepfer. “It’s important to maintain accommodations as the campus biking community develops.”
Completion of the $250 million arena is estimated for early 2011. — Alex Zielinski
This story first appeared at Eugenecycles.com
Tax Diversion Public Hearing
The city will hold a public hearing at 7:30 pm Monday, April 19, in the City Council chambers on a complex plan to increase city revenues and subsidize LCC’s downtown project by diverting $22 million of future taxes from strapped county and other government services and state school budgets. The hearing will happen sometime during the Monday evening council meeting.
Citizens voted overwhelmingly two years ago against expanding the city’s Downtown Urban Renewal District (URD), but City Manager Jon Ruiz, six city councilors and Mayor Kitty Piercy are now pushing to do that anyway, without giving citizens a chance to vote again.
Eugene’s URD has spent many millions of dollars on renewal downtown since 1968, but after 42 years, the city’s proposed new urban renewal plan still calls the area “blighted.”
The city has estimated that the nine-year urban renewal plan would divert a total of about $7 million from school funding and $2 million from Lane County. The plan would also increase taxes by about $1.5 million.
Because of property tax limits, the plan could also hinder the county’s ability to pass property tax revenue measures in the future.
City services would also lose about $10.4 million over nine years at a time the city is proposing deep cuts to the library and other popular city departments.
The city says it will use $6.3 million of the diverted money to borrow money to increase police department spending. The city estimates it will also spend about $1.2 million on unspecified administration costs for the URD.
The city may also use up to $10 million to help move LCC’s downtown campus to a new building in the pit across from the library, although LCC hasn’t committed to definitely build the building. The city may also use up to $2.5 million to subsidize the federal government’s construction of a new VA clinic downtown, although the VA hasn’t said downtown is a leading site for its location. The city may also spend up to $500,000 on improvements to the Park Blocks for the Farmer’s Market, although the city hasn’t said what those improvements would be.
In the future, the city could change what it decides to spend the money on, or when the tax diversion will end, or how much taxes will be diverted.
The council plans a final vote May 24 on the URD. If it passes, citizens could gather signatures to refer the tax diversion plan again to voters. — Alan Pittman
CRESWELL TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY
The city of Creswell is holding its first ever Earth Day celebration Thursday, April 22, an event that is — according to one local resident — a step in the right direction. The celebration takes place in Garden Lake Park from 10:30 am to 3 pm. Festivities include nature walks, scavenger hunts, recycled arts and electric car demos.
Earth Day is a day of appreciation for the earth’s environment. Founded in 1970 by Sen. Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was conceived of as a nationwide environmental teach-in. April 22 was chosen because it fit best in college schedules between spring break and final exams.
Creswell’s Community Director Titus Tomlinson took the job of planning and organizing the event in Creswell. “We put together a pretty extensive celebration and we’ve done so with zero dollars,” said Tomlinson. “It’s definitely a grassroots effort.”
Local resident Heather St. Claire calls this event a symbol of Creswell’s progress. Describing the city as a “conservative stronghold,” St. Claire noted how environmentalism is often associated with more liberal towns. “If we’re celebrating Earth Day, that’s a big deal.”
Tomlinson told EW that the outpouring of community support for this event impressed him. “I was surprised when this first started. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out,” said Tomlinson. “But we ended up getting a lot more organizations involved than I had initially anticipated.”
He described Creswell residents as eager to help, and he said the only reason Earth Day had not yet been celebrated there was a matter of “finding someone to do all the footwork.”
Tomlinson wrote in his announcement on the Earth Day Network website that Creswell’s Earth Day celebration is intended to “bring the community together, educate Creswell’s youth and encourage local environmental awareness.” Hundreds of students, from elementary through high school, are expected to attend. — Deborah Bloom
Diana McCaulay, founder of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), and an Environmental Law Alliance (ELAW) fellow will switch gears at 7 pm Thursday, April 15, when she reads from her recently published novel Dog-Heart in the Lewis Lounge at the UO Law School. McCaulay says the book, set in Jamaica, addresses the timeless experience of what you do when someone comes up to you and asks for help.
Dog-heart, she says, is a Jamaican term that refers to a “brutal person, a person without a conscience.” The book tells the story of a middle-aged single woman who tries to change the life of a boy, Dexter, who asks her for help on the street.
McCaulay says, it’s “not an overly environmental book,” which defies the expectations many Jamaicans have of her, since she is widely associated with environmental issues, thanks to her work with JET. But the environment creeps in due to Jamaica’s development issues, as in a scene when Dexter has to fight with other street kids to get water, because he and others have no access to running water. “I look at the world through an environmental lens,” she says.
McCaulay, who was born and raised in Jamaica, has been a newspaper columnist, an environmental advocate, and, as part of her advocacy, made documentary films on mining and what she calls unsustainable development in that country. Recently, with the help of ELAW, her work with JET stopped development of villas on Pellew Island, just off the coast of Jamaica. “Tourism is our main industry,” she says, but much of the development “is unsustainable and excludes people. Jamaicans should have access to their own coastline.”
The development on Pellew Island, she says, would have not only kept Jamaicans from swimming out to enjoy this natural island that she grew up visiting, but it would have had environmental issues regarding sewage.
The book reading is free and open to the public. — Camilla Mortensen
• A tax day action, “Fund Jobs Not War,” will be from 11 am to 3 pm Thursday, April 15, at the downtown post office, organized by Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC) and Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN). The day’s message is, “Instead of paying for endless war, Congress should fund a New Deal like, large-scale job creation effort.” Taxpayers will have an opportunity to vote on where their tax dollars go, by participating in a penny poll. The event includes a noon rally with music and speakers. Email email@example.com or call CALC at 485-1755.
• Seattle architect and UO graduate Johnpaul Jones, one of the lead designers on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., will speak at 5 pm Thursday, April 15, in Lawrence Hall 177, on the UO campus. Jones co-founded the multidisciplinary firm Jones & Jones in Seattle, known for its innovations in nature and culture-based planning and design, including a revolution in zoo design. Free.
• Nothing goes better with tax day than wolves! Cascadia Wildlands and the City of Eugene host “Howl in the Backcountry: The Gray Wolf Returns to Oregon,” with ecologist George Wuerthner at 7:30 pm Thursday, April 15, at the Campbell Community Center, 155 High St.
• A full video of the recent press conference involving the UO president and athletic director will be aired at 6:30 pm Friday, April 16, on Cable Channel 29. A commentary session will follow, including discussion of recent EW sports coverage.
• A documentary on the world water crisis, Blue Gold: World Water Wars, will be shown at 7 pm Friday, April 16, in the EWEB Community Room. Free. Sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Eugene’s Bottled Water Task Force and the Many Rivers Group of the Sierra Club.
• Organizers of the Facebook page “Keeping the hwy named Beltline instead of Randy Pape Beltway” will host a public information session regarding the renaming of Beltline from 2 to 5 pm Saturday, April 17, at the EWEB training room. More information at http://wkly.ws/hh
• A vigil at the new U.S. Courthouse is planned from 4 to 5 pm Monday, April 19, to provide information on nationwide actions around the School of the Americas and displaced communities in Colombia. The group is calling for the closure of the SOA and a new foreign policy toward Colombia. More information at 485-8633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• A second Coffee Party USA is forming and plans to meet every two weeks. The first meeting is from 5:30 to 7 pm Tuesday, April 20, at Gary’s Coffee House, 525 High St., next to Greater Goods. “The Coffee Party is a civility movement and is composed of people from many political viewpoints,” says organizer Wintergreen. She can be reached at email@example.com
• A gathering of peace activists to celebrate a “Vision of Peace Rooted in Justice and a Healing Planet” from 4 to 5:30 pm Wednesday, April 21, at the old Federal Building, 7th and Pearl. The Eugene Peace Choir will perform and speakers will include Lillye Park. The Ribbon of Tangible Hope will be unfurled.
• A free community conversation on “What is a Hate Crime? And What You Can Do!” is planned from 5:30 to 9 pm Wednesday, April 21, at the UO Downtown Baker Center, 975 High St. Presented by the Eugene Human Rights Commission and Police Commission.
• Eugene designer Robert Bolman will talk on “Embracing the Inevitable — Humankind’s Reluctant Yet Certain Transition to Sustainability” at 7 pm Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, at Tsunami Books.
• 4,394 U.S. troops killed* (4,391)
• 31,770 U.S. troops injured** (31,762)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (updates NA)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (updates NA)
• 104,588 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (104,481)
• $717.0 billion cost of war
• $203.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($203.5 million)
• 1,031 U.S. troops killed* (1,024)
• 5,510 U.S. troops injured** (5,393)
• $265.1 billion cost of war
• $75.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($74.9 million)
* through April 12, 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)
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Near Dexter Reservoir and Lost Valley Education Center: Strada Forestry (726-0845) for Giustina Resources (485-1500) will ground spray 33 acres with Westar, Oust and glyphosate herbicides near Noisy Creek starting April 21 (No. 771-00442).
• ODOT started spraying state highways with herbicides in District 5 (Lane County) on April 12. Call District 5 at 744-8080 or (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information.
• Union Pacific Railroad: For information on spraying of tracks through Eugene call Jan Bohman at city of Eugene, 682-5587.
• Bonneville Power Administration: will spray herbicides under power lines (see News/BPA). Call Carlos Mora at 988-7433.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
• The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced last week that it’s ending its licensing deal with Nike citing sweatshop issues. Why doesn’t the UO take a stand on this problem? Afraid of losing Phil Knight’s cash? UW-Madison said Nike failed “to adequately address the problems caused by the closing of two Honduran factories.” The school gave Nike 120 days to address the plight of displaced workers and their families in Honduras after two of its subcontractors failed to pay $2 million in severance pay to those displaced workers. Nike didn’t develop, “and does not intend to develop, meaningful ways of addressing the plight of the workers,” the school said. The UW Badgers are making us look like a bunch of lame Ducks.
• Congrats to award-winning EW performing and visual arts editor Suzi Steffen for winning a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Steffen is one of 25 journalists nationwide picked for the Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at USC Annenberg for 11 days in May, and she is the only journalist from Oregon this year. “Many Fellows in this year’s class have created ways to practice their craft,” says Sasha Anawalt, director of the institute. “These young professionals (their average age is 32) have used technology and the Internet to serve the arts and their passion for covering theater. They are good, inquisitive journalists determined not just to survive, but thrive. We look forward to helping them go the distance.” Steffen, who notes that she’s well above the average age, has shown leadership at EW in greatly expanding our presence on the web. Follow her Twitter updates and blog posts from the institute in May.
• David Cole, a remarkable law professor, litigator, and commentator, argued his brilliant case for accountability for Americans who would torture on April 9 in the law school on the UO campus. Cole was brought here by the Morse Center for Law and Politics, the School of Journalism and Communication and the School of Law. Too bad every journalism and law student and professor didn’t hear him on that sunny Friday afternoon. Cole challenged the Obama administration’s position that we shouldn’t look backward and hold Bush, Cheney, Yoo and others accountable for the disastrous torture policy that counters our Constitution and our moral principles. The fear of looking soft on terrorism is motivating the Obama administration, Cole suggested, but the country has a critical need to look back at the perpetrators of immoral and illegal torture practices. Emphasizing that “we must do something” even if it takes a long time, he suggested maybe an independent commission, like the 9/11 Commission, or even a citizens commission not appointed by the government. A professor at Georgetown Law School, Cole writes for The New Yorker and The Nation, and is a commentator on NPR. He continues to litigate high profile First Amendment cases, and the most recent of his six books is Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (2005). Here’s our round of applause to the Morse Center for bringing David Cole to Eugene as part of its series on “Great Expectations: Obama and the Politics of Reform.”
• Was there an extra April Fools’ Day this month that nobody told us about? Because KVAL news’ Monday morning website headline made for some good laughs: “UO soph to skip Conan show for sorority meeting.” KVAL broke the news, to quote the news station’s own summary that “Kristen Lippstreu, 19, a UO sophomore, said she enjoyed Conan O’Brien on TV but won’t make it to the show because of a conflict. ‘I’m in a sorority and we have our meeting Monday. That does take precedence,’ she said.” Another KVAL breaking news headline Monday was “Baby strokes Conan O’Brien’s beard.” Somebody’s been reading The Onion.
• Also in local TV news, we were sad to learn that the 2009 EW Best of Eugene winner for best local TV news personality, meteorologist Brent Prasnikar, has left KMTR to hit the open road with sidekick Helmsley the Weather Dog at his side. No more cute dog in a raincoat. Sigh. We loved Helmsley.
• We hear a lot about democracy in peril in our country, and we’ve said it ourselves more than a few times. But there is one hopeful sign locally. Our Activist Alert section is twice as big as it was a year ago, and we hear that more and more people are turning off their TVs and showing up for political and environmental gatherings and actions. Participation is at the heart of democracy and it’s happening here and now. Why? Hope is a powerful motivator. Despite our economy and other troubles, maybe “our long national nightmare” really is over.
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
“I have fished my entire life,” says Gary Lutman, currently VP of the Emerald Empire Chapter of Northwest Steelheaders. “My dad loved fishing.” The local Steelheaders have built and maintained the state-licensed Letz Creek Hatchery near Lorane and serving the Siuslaw drainage since 1992. Lutman and his wife, Cheri, joined up a couple of years later. On Friday, April 16, about 15,000 steelhead smolts will be released from the pond behind him into Letz Creek, a few feet from where the roe was collected in early 2009. They were incubated in trays and raised in tanks, in gravity-fed continuously flowing water, then trucked to the pond after a fin-clipping party last August. “Fin-clipping is our biggest event,” says Lutman. “But someone comes out here 365 days a year.” In 1972, he was just off the boat and reunited with Cheri after two years in the Navy. The two Nebraska natives visited relatives in Eugene and decided to stay. When he retired as a steamfitter in 2008, they moved from Thurston to five acres a few miles from the hatchery. “I come here three or four times a week,” he says. “I enjoy the spawning, rearing, and caring for fish as much as I enjoy catching them.” Learn more at http://wkly.ws/hf