Eugene Weekly : News : 5.28.09

News Briefs:
Peace Center Conference Seeks Change | Gap Ahead in Midwife Birthing Services? | Invasion of the Aliens | Saving the Landmark Civic Stadium | Sister City Artist Dies | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Happening People: Marie Medley Gray

Peace Center Conference Seeks Change

The Lane Peace Center’s second annual Peace conference: “Peace & Collective Action: Connecting Hope to Change” is Friday and Saturday, May 29-30. Keynote speakers are David Solnit, direct action organizer and editor of Globalize Liberation; and Joel Magnuson, author of Mindful Economics

Friday events take place at the LCC Center for Meeting and Learning, and Saturday events will be at Cozmic Pizza in downtown Eugene.  Go to for a complete program and registration and ticket prices, which vary for students and nonstudents.

“Obama made his promises, and now we are trying to hold him responsible,” says Stan Taylor, director of the Peace Center. “The peace movement has a growing recognition that Obama is not going to be the peace president, and we need to organize. The U.S. is not withdrawing from Iraq or Afghanistan, and the new budget expands the military by 4 percent, which cuts into social programs.”

The conference will bring together educators, students, community members, and activists dedicated to building a peaceful society and nation, “reflecting the idea that peace is rooted in social, economic, political, racial and environmental justice,” says Taylor.

Presenters include: Good Sista, Bad Sista, Walidah Imarisha & Turiya Autry, David Cobb, Megan Wade; David West, Benji Lewis, Adam Bacher, Sasha Crow, Mary Madsen, Chicora Martin, Greg Evans, Arbrella Luvert, Beth Aydelott, Stacy Vyenne, Will Newman, and Ishi & Iana. — Ted Taylor

Gap Ahead in Midwife Birthing Services?

PeaceHealth is planning to close its medical group’s Nurse-Midwifery Birth Center June 30, possibly a year or more before a new birth center opens in Springfield, leaving a potential long gap in out-of-hospital birthing in the valley. 

“There are a lot of folks involved and details still being ironed out,” says PeaceHealth spokesperson Andrea Ash, but no details were provided by press time.

The popular Birth Center at 511 E. 12th Ave. has served nurse midwives and about 2,000 families over the past 28 years. Groundbreaking has been delayed for a new $417,000 birth center about a quarter mile from RiverBend Medical Center in north Springfield. 

PeaceHealth was planning to keep the 12th Avenue center open until the new center is built, but now that RiverBend is built, “PeaceHealth is telling us we are too far away from the hospital to be considered low risk for birthing women,” says Jude Hales, R.N., who works for PeaceHealth and the Birth Center. Hales says the concern “is actually a little ridiculous because our transfer rate is very low. In the years that I’ve worked there we have never transported a mother intrapartum [during labor and delivery] for any kind of emergency. It’s always been if she decides she wants pain medication or labor stalled out and she needs something to help promote contractions.”

“They ultimately told us that we cannot continue to practice in this location, so we said OK, so what’s the plan? The plan, if you want to continue services, is to move out to the RiverBend campus, but you have to pay for your own move.”

Hales says the center managed to raise more than $600,000, “which speaks loudly for what the community wants. But what has happened is they delayed the groundbreaking three times now.” 

A letter from Katharine Gallagher of the Friends of the Birth Center steering committee was sent to PeaceHealth regional CEO Mel Pyne, dated May 19, expressing “profound concern over the process and direction of interim planning for the Birth Center. The plan, as I understand it, fails to preserve the practice’s model of care and to maintain continuity of care, criteria critical to the Birth Center’s long-term viability.”

 Gallagher wrote about the uncertainties facing pregnant women, potentially “diminished birth and postpartum lactation services,” the rise in cost from about $2,000 for a Birth Center birth to about $8,000 for a hospital birth, and other concerns.

“We see dismantlement as a catastrophic blow with the potential to fully undermine birth center-based midwifery, a model of care touted and much loved in this community for its affordability, access and truly excellent outcomes,” wrote Gallagher. 

The complete letter and news updates can be found at     — Ted Taylor

Invasion of the Aliens

Burmese pythons trying to swallow whole alligators in Florida; toothed fish called snake heads capable of breathing and crawling on land, escaping their aquariums and devouring small mammals; large rats that live in streams and damage dams and cause flooding. All sound like scenes from bad made-for-TV movies. They are all the results of invasive species, and some members of Congress say they need to be stopped before the problems get worse.

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is among 31 legislative cosponsors of HR 669, a bill which would regulate nonnative wildlife species in the United States. 

Essentially, HR 669 is a replicate of a previous bill, HR 6311, which failed to obtain confirmation from Congress the past two years. Both bills create The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, aiming to ban certain species under a vague U.S.C Title 18 classification of “injurious wildlife.”

According to HR 669, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would determine the species prohibited from importation through science-based evaluation.

Peter Jenkins from Defenders of Wildlife, a supporter of HR 669, says, “It is all oriented to the future, so in the future commercial importers can’t bring in harmful species without some assessment.”

Unconventional pet owners and sellers oppose HR 669 for its restrictive text. The U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) claims the U.S. accounts for 82 percent of the global reptile industry and the bill would destroy a $3 billion a year industry. The organization also says that one in 25 U.S. homes has one or more reptile pets.

DeFazio said in a press statement, “This is a responsible bill designed to stop the spread of dangerous and costly non-native invasive species,” and pointed out the damage that nutria, the invasive large semi-aquatic rodent species, have done to dams, dikes and industrial crops in Oregon.

Local pet store Zany Zoo reacted to the proposed bill by putting red signs on the cages of potentially affected species, warning that they will become illegal if HR 669 is passed. The signs are visible for the majority of the animals there.

Zany Zoo owner Nathan McClain worries that the bill ignores concerns of the pet industry. He believes the bill is poorly crafted with no distinction between captive breed and wild-caught animals, nor does it make consideration for unique animal lovers. “It will cause hundreds of millions of animals to be released into the wild or slaughtered wholesale,” he says.

DeFazio’s statement says that contrary to “Internet myths,” the bill “exempts livestock and commonly domestic animals and will not take away people’s pets.”

An April 23 subcommittee hearing ended without a resolution due to more than 50,000 signed written letters petitioning against HR 669. However, since then the bill has gained six legislative cosponsors. — Sachie Yorck


Saving the Landmark Civic Stadium

Eugeneans will have a chance to get involved in the effort to preserve historic Civic Stadium when Save Civic Stadium (SCS), the nonprofit that formed to protect the historic ballpark, holds a general meeting at 7 pm Tuesday, June 2, in the EWEB meeting room.

SCS is focusing on finding creative ways to save the stadium and, ideally, retain the Eugene Emeralds minor league baseball team. The stadium occupies only about half of the property, so some plans involve selling and/or developing the other half of the land to recoup costs while retaining the stadium itself as a multi-use facility. Dennis Hebert, president of SCS, spoke at City Club of Eugene April 10. Part of his talk is available on video at

SCS formed in 2006 when the future of the current home of the Ems first came into question. Since then, the group has gathered thousands of signatures from the community and garnered support for the cause from the Eugene City Council, which pledged staff time to the issue at a work session back in January.

Civic Stadium, built in 1938 under the New Deal, is in need of restoration, and the group is trying to find the funds for the project. SCS is also trying to find a buyer for the property, as the stadium’s owner, the 4J school district, no longer considers the stadium useful. To compound these problems, the Ems plan to move to PK Park, UO’s new baseball stadium, in the 2010 season because of Civic Stadium’s increasing disrepair.

The meeting on Tuesday will be an overview of what has happened in the past year. Tom Halferty, secretary of SCS, says that the group wants to save the stadium with or without the minor league team — and, he adds, “It’s not a done deal ­ the Ems could very well end up staying at Civic.” 

Either way, Tuesday’s meeting will give Eugeneans the opportunity to learn more about the beloved landmark and get involved in one of SCS’s committees. “We’re looking for participation,” Halferty says.  — Krista Harper


Sister City Artist Dies

A painting by Russian artist Aleksandr Sheltunov

Russian artist Aleksandr Sheltunov from Eugene’s sister city of Irkutsk has died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 58. He and his paintings were well known to the art communities in Eugene, Corvallis and Portland as well as Russia, China, Japan and Europe.

Sheltnunov worked mainly in watercolor and oil and was known for his unique landscapes of northern Russia, snowy village scenes, boats on Lake Baikal and the birch forests of Siberia. Photos of some of his paintings can be found by doing a Google image search for his name. 

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Eugene has displayed Sheltunov’s art over the years, and a final showing will be Friday and Saturday, June 5-6, at the church, 166 E. 13th Ave. Call 343-9253 for more information.


Activist Alert

• Oregon Attorney General John Kroger will speak at City Club of Eugene at 11:50 am Friday, May 29, at the Hilton. Kroger is expected to speak about his efforts to safeguard Oregonians, protect our environment and improve access to drug treatment. He’ll also discuss the challenges that stand in his way, and will outline his goals beyond the current legislative session.

• Author and architect Charles Durrett will be speaking and signing his just-released book, The Senior Cohousing Handbook, 2nd Ed. at 2 pm Saturday, May 30, at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette. His free talk will discuss cohousing for seniors, custom-built neighborhoods organized by seniors who want to live in a social and vibrant community and fulfill their real needs and wants and aspirations for health and quality of life. 

• UO journalism associate professor Debra Merskin will speak following the screening of a documentary about the porn industry, The Price of Pleasure, at 7 pm Tuesday, June 2, in Room 221, Allen Hall at UO. The free event looking at sexism, racism and free speech in a $13 billion industry, is jointly sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Women’s Center and the UO School of Journalism and Communication: Communication Studies Program.

• Management of Oregon’s state-owned forests, including a recommendation that could increase timber harvests over recent averages, will head the agenda when the Board of Forestry meets at 8 am Wednesday, June 3, in the Administration Building (C) at ODF headquarters, 2600 State St., in Salem. Comments will be received on forestry-related items not included in the agenda during a public comment period shortly after 8 am. Those wishing to comment on specific agenda items can address the board during the time each item is scheduled. See for more information.

• Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger and Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner are holding a series of public meetings to raise awareness of challenges and opportunities facing the public safety system, listen to community concerns and answer questions from area residents. The next meeting will be at 11:30 am Wednesday, June 3, at the Creswell Community Center. The next meeting will be at the same time July 15 at the Junction City Council chambers on Greenwood Street.


Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule

ODOT: For information on proposed spray schedules, chemicals used, and dates of past applications call Don Angermayer at 736-2841. The Herbicide Application (888) 996-8080 is helpful but not always accurate, so double check this information with Don Angermayer.

Gypsy moth spraying (southeast Eugene): The last tentative spray date was May 19. Health effects and social disruptions caused by the spraying are being collected and documented. Contact Lisa Warnes, vice-president of the Southeast Neighbors Association, 484-2210.

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





• The debate over funding for Lane County services has devolved into not very useful finger-pointing by those with agendas. One thing is obvious: It’s going to take a complex rehashing of revenues and expenses over time to stabilize county funding. See our cover story this week. Meanwhile, how about a bake sale for the jail? Actually, something along that line is in the works. 

Local activist Carol Berg-Caldwell has huddled with County Commissioner Bill Fleenor to talk about an ongoing fundraising campaign. A county website would be set up whereby individuals and groups could donate to the county service of their choice and get a tax write-off. Fleenor envisions a checklist on the website, everything from jails to animal services, and each would have a link to a video advocating for that service or department. Donations could be one-time or periodic by automatic withdrawal.

But will the conservatives in our county who are screaming rabidly for more cops and more jail beds come through with the cash? How about the empathetic advocates for social services? 

Fleenor’s trying to get this “Passion in Action” project up and running, but he’ll need some donations to pay for the website and its maintenance. 

Golasso! will be the word June 2 at Willamette High School when Club America brings its reserve squad to play a classy team of local all-stars called the Eugene Metro Futbol club reserve team. Club America, probably the N.Y. Yankees of Mexican soccer, is bringing a young goalkeeper considered the best in the Western hemisphere. Anybody know his name? Probably not, because the American sports establishment still doesn’t get the soccer craze in this country. But we predict that thousands of local fans who do get it will come out to Willamette High at 7:30 pm Tuesday. Golasso means “big goal.” That’s what announcers yell in Spanish when a goal is scored.

• Coffeeshop conversation at Barry’s in Southtowne tells us that Eugene True Value Hardware on south Willamette did better in April 2009 than it did a year ago. No surprise that home repairs are on the rise while new housing starts and home sales sink. April housing starts were the lowest ever in this country.

Wild turkey gangs are strutting fearlessly through Eugene neighborhoods like a scruffy feathered mafia. If you live near Hendricks Park or other parts of town adjoining woods, you’re probably pestered with the ungainly fowl. Aside from fences, does anyone have any tricks to scare them away? Smells, sounds, sights, noises? Scarecrow, maybe? Email editor at eugeneweekly dot com

An ethics question for our readers: We’ve heard about a grassroots national campaign targeting the jury pool (that’s almost all of us). The campaign is to predispose citizens, when they get called for jury duty, to acquit all nonviolent drug offenders. If prosecutors can’t get convictions in drug cases, they will stop prosecuting them. Is this a perversion of our justice system through massive jury tampering, or is it an ethical and effective form of civil disobedience against an insane War on Drugs that’s doing more harm than good? And would it be ethical in the jury selection process for potential jurors to say they have no preconceived notions about drug cases, even if they do?

• Congrats to Keystone Café, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The unassuming eatery at 5th and Lawrence now serves dinner and alcohol and has live music on weekends. 

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




A descendant of pioneers who arrived by wagon train, Marie Medley Gray learned to ride before she could walk on the 5,000-acre Medley Ranch east of Oakland, Ore. A star athlete at Oakland High, she organized a Eugene women’s softball team that played at Civic Stadium when she arrived for college. “I spent two years at the UO,” she says. “I disagreed with the professors.” She married “Red” Gray, a returning WWII vet from Arkansas, raised two kids, and worked for Mutual of Omaha. From the late 1960s until the 2000s, she did market research and political surveys for more than 200 companies from her home office. A member of the River Road community since 1949, she has been active as a watchdog for neighborhood interests at City Council and County Commission meetings. She and her friends Wanda Simmons and Betty Donaldson were the bane of developers. The “three musketeers” drove to Salem to testify at land-use hearings. “The governors knew me by name,” she notes. After 30-plus years on the board of the River Road Water District, Gray will retire this year. You will recognize her in the Jan Spencer mural on the south exterior wall of the River Road Goodwill Store.