News Briefs: ‘Eco-Terror’ Prioritized Over Crime | Emissions May Cause Cancer | Sprawl Versus Parks | Against Patriarchy Returns | LandWatch Targets Measure 37 | The Burn Goes On | Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
LCC Board Races
Four candidates in two contested races
Council may combine KWG, Beam and public process
‘ECO-TERROR’ PRIORITIZED OVER CRIME
After a small group of radicals began damaging property in the name of the environment, the Bush administration’s FBI labeled them “terrorists” and made pursuing them a top priority.
In late 2002, the FBI assigned 30 agents to a Eugene task force investigating the string of arsons, a federal prosecutor told the Village Voice.
But prioritizing the prosecution of environmentally motivated property destruction appears to have left more serious crimes unpunished.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported last month that the Bush administration’s focus on “terrorism” investigations has left thousands of white-collar criminals, hatemongers, and civil rights abusers unprosecuted, “leaving a trail of frustrated victims and potentially billions of dollars in fraud and theft losses.”
White collar and civil rights investigations have dropped by two-thirds as 2,400 FBI agents were transferred to “counterterrorism” squads such as the one in Eugene, the Seattle P-I investigation found.
The Seattle paper estimated that 2,000 white collar criminals got away due to the drop in prosecution. Many of the swindlers’ victims were the poor and elderly, the paper noted. Civil Rights investigations of police brutality by the FBI have also dropped, according to the Seattle P-I.
Eugene police also made the environmental sabotage a top priority, although the department has refused to say how much time and money were spent on the investigation. At a time the EPD was ignoring complaints from women about a police officer later sentenced for a sex crime spree and complaining it lacked resources to investigate burglaries, domestic violence and car and bike thefts, the EPD sent an officer to New York to investigate environmental radicals. — Alan Pittman
EMISSIONS MAY CAUSE CANCER
The chemicals in the air near the J.H. Baxter wood treatment plant in northwest Eugene not only smell bad and bother nearby residents, but a recent report said some of the chemicals may cause cancer.
The Oregon Department of Human Services recently released a report on J.H. Baxter prepared by the Oregon Public Health Division and the Superfund Health Investigation and Education Program (SHINE). In 2003 the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) requested SHINE look into emissions from J.H. Baxter, but SHINE determined there was not enough information to decide if the airborne chemicals were a public health hazard.
SHINE has now conducted a follow-up report on the emissions. This report was based on air samples collected by LRAPA. Several chemicals from the wood-preserving process, including naphthalene, were detected in the air samples. Chemicals from the plant have also been found in groundwater, soil and surface water. But the report concluded that residents were not likely to have health problems as a result of long-term exposure to J.H. Baxter’s emissions.
In the course of that investigation, neighborhood residents asked SHINE also to look into the rates of acute myelogenous leukemia and brain cancer in the area. SHINE is also looking into nasal and lung cancers.
The levels of naphthalene — a possibly cancer-causing chemical — found do exceed health guidelines. But according to the report these guidelines are “health protective,” and the higher levels are “not likely to cause adverse health effects.” Infants “appear to be more sensitive than adults to the effects of naphthalene,” the report said.
The report also states that residents of the River Road, Trainsong and Bethel neighborhoods may experience physical stress from the chemical odors, and it recommends J.H. Baxter take additional steps to continue to reduce the odors it emits. The company has been working to try and improve odors at the plant for several years.
SHINE has not finished analyzing the data on the cancer-causing effects of chemicals released from the plant. An initial report was released in September 2006, but the Oregon State Cancer Registry has provided new data for review. The new report will be released in May 2007, and SHINE will hold a public meeting to discuss the cancer-related findings.
There is a public comment period through May 25 on the current SHINE report. The document may be found at http://www.lrapa.org/
Comments should be sent to SHINE Oregon Department of Human Services, Health Services 800 NE Oregon #827 Portland, OR 97232. Call (503) 731-4025 to obtain an email address to send comments electronically. – Camilla Mortensen
SPRAWL VERSUS PARKS
Developers and The Register-Guard have taken a stand against new parks until the city allows more urban sprawl.
A pro-sprawl voting block of four city councilors took the position at a meeting April 18. They said they would not vote for acquiring rare pieces of old-growth forests in south Eugene for parks unless the city expanded the urban growth boundary (UGB).
Councilor Mike Clark proposed a motion amendment that would link the park land acquisition to allowing an equal area of sprawl. “Let’s make a commitment that we’re going to expand the urban growth boundary,” he said.
The council voted 5-4 with Mayor Kitty Piercy breaking the tie to reject the parks for sprawl quid pro quo. Councilors Bonny Bettman, Betty Taylor, Andrea Ortiz and Alan Zelenka and Mayor Piercy voted against sprawl and for parks. Councilors Mike Clark, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling and Chris Pryor voted against parks and for sprawl.
The Register-Guard followed up with an editorial that week endorsing the argument of no parks without sprawl.
The Homebuilders Association of Lane County has opposed parks for taking away land for development and for the systems development charges they have to pay for them. Last year the homebuilders lobbied against a $27 million parks measure, but the measure passed with 59 percent voting yes.
If the no-parks-without-sprawl policy is adopted, park acquisition under the measure could come to a standstill. Expanding the UGB is a complicated process involving required public hearings, complicated studies, state regulatory review and frequent judicial appeals.
If the city expands the UGB, developers and speculators could make huge profits by buying cheap land zoned for farm or forest use and then having the city suddenly rezone it for pricey home lots.
Development interests are pushing for the city to move toward expanding its UGB by updating its land supply survey years before required to do so by state law. The city’s current survey estimates that it has a “generous surplus” of commercial and industrial land and a “modest surplus” of residential land within the UGB. Those surveys are not required to be updated until 2010 or 2015.
Eugene’s UGB has historically been set so far out that it has created little impetus for increased infill and density, a major city goal. Since 1950, Eugene’s population density has declined 29 percent. — Alan Pittman
AGAINST PATRIARCHY RETURNS
After a hiatus of several years, the Against Patriarchy conference will take place again on the UO campus. The event will feature workshops on topics such as body image, fertility awareness, sex workers, radical love and a discussion of the histories of activism in Eugene.
The conference kicks off at 6 pm Friday, May 4, in the EMU Fir Room with a talk by Nöel Sturgeon. Surgeon is a professor of Women’s Studies at Washington State University and author of the book Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory and Political Action. Sturgeon will be speaking on the “Nature of Environmental Reproductive Justice.”
In her book Sturgeon defines ecofeminism as “a feminist rebellion within male-dominated radical environmentalism,” which fits right into the themes of the conference. The conference will discuss patriarchy as a form of oppression affecting everything from race, class and gender to interpersonal relationships and the environment. The conference will also focus on anarchy and anarcha-feminism.
In the past the conference has been the source of controversy in the activist and anarchist communities. Several years ago organizers banned certain community members from the event. Local alternative media videographer Tim Lewis was among those banned. “The last two times I was asked not to go,” Lewis said, “they said I was a ‘volatile individual.'” The organizers of that conference did not return Lewis’ request to meet with him and discuss the issue, Lewis said.
A member of the current collective organizing the conference who gave his name only as Sundeep said the current organizers are “completely committed to providing a safe place where people will feel empowered.”
“Patriarchy,” Sundeep said, “is not part of a bygone era; it is clearly part of the society and culture we live in.”
Conference workshops will take place starting at 9 am on Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6 in the Education Building on the UO campus. All workshops and talks are free and open to the public. For more information see listings in this week’s calendar or go to http://againstpatriarchy07.wordpress.com/ — Camilla Mortensen
LANDWATCH TARGETS MEASURE 37
Up to 35,000 acres of land in Lane County could be developed, mostly into subdivisions, if Measure 37 claims are allowed to continue unchecked. State and county officials charged with evaluating the claims have established a routine of granting waivers of land use regulations to most applicants.
“During the past year, hundreds of citizens have come to realize the destructive nature of the measure,” says Bob Emmons of LandWatch Lane County. “They have contacted their elected officials urging them to reinstate fairness and sanity to land use in Oregon.”
Measure 37 is on the agenda of LandWatch at its annual meeting planned for 6:45 to 9 pm Thursday, May 17, in the Bascom/Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library.
Members of the Measure 37 panel who will offer insights and field questions are Tom Bowerman, Lauri Segel and Bryce Ward. State Sen. Floyd Prozanski hopes to also attend.
Bowerman is on the board of 1000 Friends of Oregon and has analyzed statewide polling data to determine how people feel about Measure 37 since it passed several years ago. Segel is a community planner in Eugene’s Goal One Coalition office. Ward is a consultant at ECONorthwest specializing in applied microeconomics. Prozanski is co-chair of the Special Senate Committee on Land Use Fairness.
“Before Measure 37 became law, Oregon was known throughout the nation for its protection of its farms, forests and areas of scenic splendor,” says Emmons. “Now these areas are vulnerable to unrestricted development and may soon sprout resorts, houses and industrial complexes.”
A question and answer period will follow the panel presentations. The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information contact Emmons at 741-3625.
THE BURN GOES ON
A potential ban on field burning in Oregon died without vote this week. The ban, strongly opposed by grass-seed farmers, was supported by public health groups and by Eugene-based Oregon Toxics Alliance and Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA). State Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, was chief sponsor of HB 3000, the bill that would have put an end to the smoke and haze that results from late-summer field burning of harvested grass-seed fields.
The bill would also have put an end to stack burning, pile burning and propane flaming. The bill passed out of the Health Care Committee in the Oregon House but was blocked once it came to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Despite a public hearing, the committee didn’t vote on the bill before the 5 pm deadline the Legislature self-imposed for sending bills out of committee. Thus the bill cannot be voted on by the Legislature and is dead.
LANE COUNTY HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
ODOT will spray herbicides on Hwy. 126 West, Territorial, 36 and 101 at night during next two weeks. Call Dennis Joll at 686-7526. For complaints about ODOT spraying call (503) 986-4366.
Weyerhaeuser (741-5211) will ground spray 88 acres with Triclopyr herbicide near Clark Brook (No. 771-55438).
Strada Forestry (726-0845) will ground apply Rozol (anticoagulant – Chlorophacinone) to 65 acres for Giustina Resources (485-1500) near Alder Creek and Mt. Salem Road. (771-55430).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Ballots are arriving in mail boxes this week, and the biggie on the ballot is the Lane County income tax, a topic we’ve written about extensively in past issues. Haven’t made up your mind yet on this complex and contentious issue? Next week we’ll provide one final analysis, along with our election endorsements, so stay tuned. Voting deadline is May 15.
When Nicholas Kristof joined in a panel on the UO campus last Monday, the Lane County Coalition for Darfur came up as one of the vehicles for individuals to join to do something about the genocide in Darfur. What to do: Educate people, circulate petitions, push political leaders, send humanitarian aid to refugee camps to show that somebody cares, donate money. The New York Times columnist has written and spoken thousands of words about the terrible atrocities in the African region in western Sudan, but he still says it is “not an intractable problem,” pointing to both President Bush and China as key players in a solution. Importing 8 percent of its oil from Sudan, China is reluctant to pressure the government sponsoring the genocide. Bush seems to have his own oil-based problems. Our local intense two-day discussion of “Witnessing Genocide: Representation and Responsibility” showed the UO at its best. Faculty joined with guests such as Kristof and Samantha Power in lectures and panels to take that first critical step to educate people.
Two pudgy thumbs up for Eugene. One, for bringing back the marathon and running it through so many cheering Sunday morning neighborhoods (see below). Two, for pulling together the most diverse voices Monday night to talk about downtown Eugene in, symbolically, the beautiful new library in downtown Eugene. Alan Pittman tells the news story this week in EW, but we want to extend high praise to the organizers: Mary O’Brien, representing Citizens for Public Accountability; Kevin Matthews, Friends of Eugene; Dave Hauser and Gary Wildish, Eugene Chamber of Commerce; Alexis Garrett, Eugene Redevelopment Advisory Committee; Nan Laurence and Bill Sullivan, Eugene city staff; Alan Zelenka and colleagues on the council; and, of course, Mayor Piercy and Manager Taylor supporting the total effort. We recognize that the prospect of profit probably is most important in bringing back the center of the city, but public values must be figured in the formula. That’s why the Monday meeting was so important.
We were excited to see the return of the Eugene Marathon this past weekend. Long-distance running in America has been shaped into what it is today thanks to Eugene residents in years past and present (think Steve Prefontaine, Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight and now UO track stars Rebekah Noble and Galen Rupp). With the 2008 Olympic trials turning the heat up a notch, it was only fitting that this premiere race would get its due. However, it was a break from the past when race organizers charted the race course to start on Agate Street and end outside the UO’s football stadium. In the ’80s, marathon runners finished at the historic Hayward Field, in tribute both to the sport and to the runners who have finished there. We hope future Eugene marathons add a Hayward finish to set this race back on a more dignified course.
Cough, cough, what are they smoking? The state Legislature has once again failed to stop field burning. Citizens now need to light their own fire under Salem’s feet with an initiative petition to ban field burning. Signatures and donations wouldn’t be hard to find; just get the list of the thousands of people who have complained about the billowing clouds. If the threat of an initiative for an outright ban fails to get the Legislature to compromise on a quick phase out, send the issue to a vote.
The silence of the politicians on gun control after the Virginia Tech massacre is deafening. There appear to be more calls for arming everyone for campus shootouts (imagine the frat parties!) than for any new restrictions on handguns with endless clips of hollow-points. Rational politicians know the public interest would be served by imposing restrictions on these weapons of mass destruction, but few politicians are willing to confront the strident and well-funded NRA. What can we do? Kudos to Betsy Steffensen and Eugene’s Neighborhoods for Peace for persuading Gov. Kulongoski to declare May 2007 “Family Gun Safety Month.” Let’s join these folks in raising public awareness of gun safety issues in the Million Mom March coming up May 13.
We heard from reader John All Burgess Jr. that at three minutes and four seconds after 2 am on May 6 the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07 on the 24 hour clock. “This will never happen again,” he says, “so enjoy the moment.”
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
“I did a lot of hitchhiking as a teenager,” says Howie Brounstein, who lived in the Hollywood Hills at the time. “Oregon was the friendliest place I found.” After high school, Brounstein hitchhiked back to study botany and agronomy at OSU. Though he didn’t finish a degree, he got a job doing research in the botany department and continued to take classes: “People thought I was a grad student,” he says. He still works on occasion as a professional botanist, particularly in surveys of theatened plants, but Brounstein’s major interests are herbalism and wildcrafting. As the founder and primary instructor of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies, he has offered classes in wild plant identification, location, harvesting and processing for 23 years. “We’re known for our wildcrafting ethics,” he stresses. “We won’t let people harvest any plants in class unless they get the OK. If everyone took something, there wouldn’t be anything left.” You can find Brounstein at booth 84 of the Oregon Country Fair in July. Learn more about Columbines’ academic offerings at botanicalstudies.net