Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Euglena Academy educates on global warming
Happening Person: Erik Rosebrough
POLICE ATTACK CITY COUNCILOR
The Eugene Police Employees Association has put back up on their webpage a caricature of Councilor Bonny Bettman — a leading proponent of police accountability.
The webpage also includes a counter for the number of days until “Bettman’s Reign of Terror Ends.” The police union took down the caricature and counter after The Register-Guard asked about it, but then put it back up.
The cartoon now also includes a caption, “She’s Baaaaaaack!” The quote is a reference to an incident two years ago in which city executive Jim Carlson wrote an email using the quote to invoke the horror film Poltergeist II in reference to the progressive city councilor.
Former City Manager Dennis Taylor reprimanded Carlson for the email. “I will not tolerate any unprofessional or disrespectful communications from you, or any city employee,” he wrote.
Current City Manager Jon Ruiz hasn’t spoken out about the union website.
Mayor Kitty Piercy wrote an email calling it, “completely disrespectful of Bonny and of her council position. I know it makes her worry for her personal safety.”
Piercy wrote, “This kind of mean spirited depiction is damaging to the individual, our city, and certainly our police … it makes our police department look very, very bad.”
By posting the attack, police officers could face disciplinary action. The city’s Police Operations Manual states that officers, “may not publicly criticize or ridicule the department, its policies or other employees,” and, “You will not be allowed to discredit the department or the city.” Officers who knew about the website but didn’t report the potential misconduct to superiors could also face discipline under police rules.
Piercy wrote, “I have to believe that the vast majority of our officers would not approve of this because they serve our community with compassion, commitment and distinction. I hope they will speak up.” But so far, none have.
The cartoon was apparently cut out of a 2001 ad by “The Gang of 9” that development interests ran in The Register-Guard. The string of ads, largely funded by Arlie developer John Musumeci, featured unflattering caricatures attacking anti-sprawl councilors.
The ad the image was taken from referred to a class action lawsuit by developer John Hammer which was thrown out on appeal last year. Hammer has donated $2,500 to the mayoral campaign of Jim Torrey. The police union gave Torrey $10,000, his largest single contribution.
Torrey has campaigned for adding civility to local politics but told the R-G he had no problem with the union attack on Bettman.
Bettman said the personal attack by the police “gave me a really sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.” She wrote in an email, “You would think the city would insist on more mature judgment from employees that are permitted to carry guns.”
“I believe their hatred stems from my role in creating the Independent Office of the Police Auditor, which the police openly and aggressively oppose,” Bettman wrote. “Given the police union’s powerful role in local campaigns (in the form of record-setting contributions), I fear their extreme opposition is a threat to maintaining a fully functioning and effective Police Auditor’s Office.”
Bettman said if Torrey is elected, he could effectively abolish the police auditor and review board that voters passed by cutting its budget or appointing a police union crony as auditor. Bettman said she’d like the council to refer a charter amendment that would offer the function more protection.
“We wouldn’t have a police auditor at all if we didn’t have Kitty Piercy as mayor,” Bettman said. “It wouldn’t have happened with Torrey.” —Alan Pittman
END OF EUGLENA?
Euglena Academy founder and dean Alder Fuller may call it quits in Eugene, he says, and move his systems science-oriented institution to Portland or another community.
After seven years in Eugene the academy, which offers classes in Eugene from a unique systems sciences and geophysiological perspective is “still barely breaking even,” Fuller wrote in an appeal for support for the school. Euglena has been focusing on climate change and the idea the earth has passed the “tipping point” for global warming (see story, p. 11). Fuller has recently revamped Euglena’s program, which covers topics from Gaia theory to non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
Fuller says he will make a decision about whether to continue Euglena in Eugene by Aug. 1. Like the climate, he writes, Euglena too is at a “tipping point.” Until then he is planning a series of gatherings at Euglena’s studio in west Eugene. He is also preparing “a collaborative online document to explore ways to support the academy.”
Fuller says he will begin some operations in Portland this summer, but that he won’t leave Eugene “without a fight.”
Go to euglena-edu.net for more information on the classes at Euglena and Fuller’s plans to save the program. — Camilla Mortensen
CIVIC STADIUM GROUP MEETS
Two meetings were held in May to talk about the future of Eugene’s historic ballpark. The group Save Civic Stadium (SCS) drew a crowd of about 60 at its first meeting May 14, which was followed by a Steering Committee meeting May 22. Future meetings are being planned. For more information, visit savecivicstadium.org
Scott Landfield introduced the “umpires” at the first meeting, Tony Corcoran and State Sen. Floyd Prozanski. The two laid our “ground rules” for the meeting, trying to keep the discussion positive, and “not berating either public or private organizations or people,” says Landfield.
Natalie Perrin presented a PowerPoint slide show on “Historic Preservation of Civic Stadium” and talked about her efforts to place Civic Stadium on the National Historic Registry.
Dennis Hebert outlined the history of the Save Civic Stadium organization, which began collecting signatures two years ago to support the stadium. The organization has contacted School District 4-J (which owns the property), city of Eugene officials, UO Athletic Department, Eugene Emeralds management, Chamber of Commerce, YMCA and other business and baseball associations locally and around the country and globe in its efforts. SCS is now in contact with other public and private ventures to seek information and guidance on this project.
Dave Hauser, president of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, said the stadium is worth saving with or without the Ems. Tom Halferty introduced the brainstorming session, encouraging discussion of a “myriad of possibilities.”
Among the ideas tossed out were: creating a nonprofit organization, continuing the baseball tradition, creating a public-private partnership, involving the city, examining potential state and federal grants, contacting Cooperstown, working with the neighborhood association, looking at multiple uses for the land and facilities, and requesting a city public hearing on the stadium’s future.
GROUP FORMS TO PUSH IRV
A new Lane County group has formed to promote instant runoff voting (IRV) for Lane County elections. IRV gives voters the option of ranking candidates in order of preference. The idea is to make the winners of elections more closely represent the will of the voters.
In the recent primary elections for example, four candidates ran for county commissioner. Under IRV, voters would be able to designate not only their first choice, but also their second or third choice. If no one candidate gets a majority of the votes, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and the results are recalculated. The process is repeated until one candidate gets a majority of the votes. This system “eliminates the need to go through the process of campaigning and voting a second time,” according to a description provided by Alan Zundel and Bob Cassidy.
Zundel and Cassidy, along with Ken Tollenaar, Len Hockley and Don Schneider are founding members of IRV-Lane County (www.irv-lane.org). The new group envisions launching an initiative or referendum in the next election cycle.
Efforts at establishing IRV are also ongoing on the national level. In the infamous presidential race of 2000, for example, Ralph Nader supporters worried about whether voting for him would take votes away from Al Gore. Under IRV, Nader supporters could have voted for their candidate and designated Gore as their second choice. In such a close election, the second choices would have counted. And third-party candidates would not be considered spoilers.
The local environmental group Cascadia Wildlands Project (CWP) was one of several conservation groups that met with mill owners, loggers and community leaders in Eastern Oregon to create a settlement over salvage logging in the Malheur National Forest.
The settlement will allow salvage logging of “less ecologically sensitive areas” in the Thorn and Egley fires while preserving what the groups call “wilderness-quality roadless areas” as well as more than 30,000 acres of old growth.
Environmentalists usually protest post-fire logging, as in the long battle over the Biscuit Timber sale in southern Oregon, citing the damage done to the fragile post-fire ecosystem as well as the need for burned forests to naturally regenerate. Four environmental groups — the CWP, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club and Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project — originally appealed the Thorn salvage sale, keeping it from going forward.
Under the agreement, the groups will drop their appeal of the Thorn project and not pursue any appeals of the Egley project.
The Egley project will only remove trees that could create safety threats along already existing roads. The Thorn project will allow some logging in areas that have already been affected by road building in the past, according to the groups’ press release.
The agreement will protect the live old-growth trees not killed by the fire as well as snags needed for wildlife and forest regeneration. No new roads will be created in the backcountry areas. One of those areas, Murderers Creek, has been proposed as a potential Wilderness area.
Eastern Oregon communities have been struggling, with mills closing in rural Grant and Harney counties and workers at Malheur furloughed due to lack of logs. The proposal will allow for the logging of 38 million board feet of timber. — Camilla Mortensen
• The group “Crazy” People for Wild Places is planning a demonstration against pesticide spraying along I-5 at noon Friday, May 30, at Kesey Square downtown. Various speakers are planned (see News Briefs last week), and the demonstration is expected to migrate to Harlow Bridge around 1 pm.
• The Really Really Free Market comes to Lane County this weekend. The RRFM, a collectively organized event, will be from 11 am to 3 pm Saturday, June 7, at Island Park in Springfield. The RRFM seeks to counteract capitalism, as all goods and services at the market will be free, not paid for, bartered or exchanged. Attendees are encouraged to bring games, clothing, art, skills, music, furniture and anything else they want to give away. Lauren Regan of Eugene’s Civil Liberties Defense Center will give a “know your rights” training at noon. Email email@example.com for more information.
• An all-day “Moving Forward Together” conference on “smart growth” is planned for June 11 at the Eugene Hilton. The event is sponsored by Realtors, the cities of Eugene and Springfield, Lane County, LTD and the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program. Registration is required and costs $25 before June 6. Visit http://movingforwardtogether.net A series of panels with national and state experts will “offer ways in which we can work together to expand our housing, economic and transportation choices.” One of the panels will discuss the West Eugene Collaborative.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,082 U.S. troops killed* (4,079)
• 29,978 U.S. troops injured* (29,978)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 312 coalition troops killed** (312)
• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 91,460 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (91,713)
• $523.0 billion cost of war ($520.9 billion)
• $148.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($148.1 million)
* through May 26 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million.
In last week’s Uncorked section, we copy-edited an error into Lance Sparks’ “Southing It.” As Sparks originally wrote, the Spangler Vineyards have an ’06 petite sirah.
• Eugene’s Police Employee Association needs to be reined in if the embattled EPD is ever going to regain the respect and support of the majority of Eugene’s residents. Several reactionary union rants in the R-G against civilian oversight of the police were followed by the latest arrogant idiocy sponsored by the union: a personal attack on Councilor Bonny Bettman. The disturbing website caricature and threatening words show not only a serious lack of judgment and discipline but also outright insubordination against an elected city official. Is this acceptable behavior for city employees in any department? The best action Police Chief Robert Lehner can do right now is to fire the responsible officers and discipline anyone in the chain of command who knew about it and said nothing. How powerful is the police union? We will find out if Lehner does nothing.
Attacks against Bettman are nothing new. Her persistent and assertive calls for transparency, accountability and environmental responsibility in city and regional government have made her a target for ultra-conservative interests. The cartoon drawing of Bettman on the union website (www.epea1971.com) was copied directly from the anonymous Gang of 9 cartoon campaign in the R-G back in 2001. Bettman was one of the targets of the secretive campaign against progressive city councilors led by John Musumeci and including Liz Cawood, Ed Anderson, Jennifer Solomon, Otto Glausi, Dave Hilles, Chuck McGlade, Bob Mylene and Susan Selig. None has ever apologized for the offensive and insulting cartoons.
• Is our city charter amendment regarding External Review of Police strong enough to survive future changes of leadership by Eugene’s elected officials? As we go to press this week, we hear from Councilor Bonny Bettman that she intends to propose a council resolution that removes elements of choice in the amendment. Language such as “is authorized to” and “may” in the charter would be replaced by “shall.” Bettman says the changes, which would have to go to the voters, would ensure the “ongoing and consistent functioning of the Independent Police Auditor’s Office and the Civilian Review Board.” The police union and mayoral candidate Jim Torrey are adamantly against the independent oversight, preferring that the police police themselves.
• As first reported on our blog a week ago, the city of Eugene has proposed siting a new McKenzie-Willamette hospital on a downtown site centered on the Eugene Clinic. The excellent location would do wonders to revive downtown, reduce sprawl, traffic congestion and global warming and save citizens and the hospital money on infrastructure. An urban hospital design with parking garages could easily fit on the largely underused parking lots and one-story buildings downtown. In the interest of time, money, the community and reality, McKenzie-Willamette should give up on its golf-course design for a suburban hospital and jump at the chance to locate in this prime spot in the heart of the community.
• Now that the ashes have settled from the fireworks of the May elections, we can look forward to more smoke and flames in November. The primary once again showed the flaws in our election system. Democracy is not served by an expensive and distracting rehashed campaign between Piercy and Torrey, or Green and Handy, but we’re stuck with it. We are pleased to see movement toward campaign reform at the local and state level (see News Briefs this week for a description of instant runoff voting). Voter Owned Oregon is moving ahead toward publicly financed elections, along with the Citizens’ Initiative Review that would objectively analyze ballot measures.
One state initiative likely to be on the November ballot is a variation on the open primary concept. Under this proposal, the top two vote-getters in a state-level primary would go on to the November election, regardless of party affiliation. For example, in the secretary of state race, Democrats Kate Brown and Rick Metzger would complete against each other in November. The Republican candidate Rick Dancer, who got fewer votes than either Brown or Metzger, would get dropped from the ballot. Makes sense in this case. Dancer is wholly unqualified to be secretary of state. The only reason he’s on the ballot is his Republican Party affiliation.
• Disposable grocery bags are doomed (see News Briefs last week). It’s only a matter of time before we decide as a city or county to do something about the waste and pollution of handy-dandy bags. Sooner is better. If we are required to pay for grocery bags, we will stop using so many of them. Billions of plastic bags each year end up in landfills or floating around in our oceans. Paper bags are not much better, considering the costs and energy that go into their manufacturing and transportation. And here’s a fee/tax with minimal impact on low-income people. Anyone, rich or poor, could avoid the cost by simply getting into the cloth bag habit.
Could the bag fee plan also generate much-needed funding for county services? Let’s look at it.
• Did you notice that Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va) was the cover story in the May 18 Parade magazine inserted in both the R-G and the big O? A light little publication, Parade is one of the best-read magazines in America. Makes us wonder if Webb is running for veep on the Obama ticket. Not that two senators make sense, but Webb is a smart guy with the right national security credentials. He served in Vietnam; his son is in Iraq.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton native Erik Rosebrough began working full-time at age 15, while attending Benson Polytechnic High in Portland. “My first job was training kitchen staff at Burgerville,” he says. “I’ve been in management ever since.” While working at Intel in 1997, Rosebrough was hit by a car and suffered severe back and head injuries. He lost two years of work, but met his wife Rebecca in 1998. Their children Skylar and Oceana were born in ’00 and ’02. Since moving to Springfield in 2006, Rosebrough has been unable to work because of deterioration in his lower back. Instead, he has taken an active role as a volunteer in Oceana’s classroom at Park Head Start and organized fundraisers to buy supplies for the kids. He has conferred with city and state officials in an effort to have speed limit signs posted on 2nd Street outside the Head Start building. “Parents are concerned at how fast cars drive by,” says Head Start Family Advocate Chava Kronen. “Unfortunately, the state doesn’t classify Head Start as a school. But Erik is undeterred, and will continue the campaign until the street is made safe.”