Eugene Weekly : News : 6.28.07

News Briefs: Pit Pups are Luv-A-BullW. Eugene Group GathersBackfire BenefitRefugee From Iraq in EugeneSmith SagsWar DeadLane Area Herbicide Spray ScheduleEarly Deadlines |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Big Brother’s Watching

The reality of national IDs

Coughing Blood

Prefontaine suffered from the effects of field burning

Happening Person: John Miller


There’s a new “Pit Crew” in town. The No Kill Community Coalition (NKCC) has formed a committee to promote the adoption of pit bulls in Lane County.

According to Robin Loving, a member of the Pit Crew, pit bulls make up more than half of the dogs found in shelters. One of the goals of the NKCC is to find homes for adoptable animals, in addition to providing low-cost spay and neuter services and educating pet owners.

“There is so much disinformation and outright lies” about the dogs, said Sondra Arrache, another member of the pit bull committee. “It makes it difficult to find homes for them.”

In order to help pets find homes in Eugene, a local group called Save the Pets has teamed up with Lane County Animal Regulation Authority (LCARA) to list adoptable animals online. Save the Pets also brings animals to off-site adoptions like the one every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm at Key Bank, 1380 Coburg Rd.

Arrache pointed out that the media contributes to the pit bull problem, often misidentifying dogs as pit bulls in order to make more dramatic headlines. A recent R-G (7/3) article about “vicious dogs” featured a dog muzzled on the front page. Arrache said 20 people she spoke to thought it was a pit bull. The dog discussed in the article was not a pit but was in fact a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

The goal of the pit bull committee is to get the word out that pits make good pets.

“They are good family dogs because they trust everybody,” said Liesl Wilhardt of Luv-a Bull dog rescue. She speaks from experience – she often has more than a dozen pits at her rescue.

“Pit bulls,” said Wilhardt, “make good therapy dogs.”

“They are a very successful breed for rescue,” Wilhardt said. Many potential dog adopters worry about adopting an adult dog because they are afraid they won’t bond.” Not a problem with pits, according to Wilhardt.

“They can bond extremely deeply and very quickly,” she said. “That’s something people need to know about these dogs. They just love people.”

To find out more about the NKCC and the “Pit Crew,” go to information on adopting a pit contact Liesl Wilhardt at Or go to where you can find the dogs from Luv-a-Bull as well as the dogs from LCARA listed by Save the Pets. – Camilla Mortensen




The West Eugene Collaborative, aka WE Group, is having its next set of meetings this week in Eugene. The group is seeking to bring together many people representing local government, businesses and residents to deal with long-term transportation needs in west Eugene. The effort is an outgrowth of last year’s no-build decision on the West Eugene Parkway and involves the same consultants from The Osprey Group in Colorado.

At the last meeting, the collaborative created two task forces to help staff the overall group. One task force, led by Gary Wildish and Susan Ban, focused on the “problem definition and longer-term work plan.” The other task force, led by Emily Proudfoot and Larry Reed, was charged with “clarifying the city and LTD study needs and how the city and the collaborative can best contribute to each others’ needs.”

“These task forces had significant charges,” wrote Osprey consultant Dennis Donald in an email to participants. “As you review their products, we are confident that you will find they have done much to develop and organize ideas that will help with our deliberations next week.”

The public is invited to participate in the meetings. The first in this series was June 27. The second runs from 3 to 5 pm Thursday, June 28 in the Tykeson Room in the Eugene Public Library downtown. For more information and to get on the email list for the collaboration, visit


The only Operation Backfire defendant who continues to plead innocent to the politically motivated arsons is having a benefit in Portland Thursday, June 28.

Brianna Waters

Briana Waters, a violin teacher and mother of a young daughter, is accused of participating in the arson of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horiculture. Her indictment accuses her of “knowingly” using and carrying a “destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.”

Her website,, states that “Briana is a peaceful woman who believes in non-violence and is focused on raising a family and building her musical career.”

Waters maintains her innocence and is the only defendant to not take a plea bargain and to go to trial. If she is found guilty, she faces a 35-year mandatory minimum sentence.

The benefit is to raise money for her legal defense. Her trial is set to begin Sept. 17 in Washington federal court.

The “Folk the Man” benefit is at 7 pm June 28 at Liberty Hall, 311 N. Ivy in Portland. Speakers will address Waters’ case and the broader issues of repression of environmentalists and activists. Folk artists Hanz Araki and Timothy Hull will perform.

Also in the Operation Backfire case, the sentencing for defendant Jonathan Paul will resume Tuesday, July 3, according to the Eugene-based Civil Liberties Defense Center.

Paul was originally to be sentenced to 51 months for his role in the Cavel West horse slaughter plant arson. The sentencing was postponed before it was completed due to objections from Paul’s attorney. – Camilla Mortensen



A social worker and Iraqi refugee living and working in Amman, Jordan, will speak about the struggles of her people at 7 pm Friday, June 29, at DIVA, 110 W. Broadway.

Zahra Hamid Sulttan Al-Kabi

Zahra Hamid Sulttan Al-Kabi has been instrumental in making connections between visiting international representatives and members of the growing Iraqi refugee community in Amman. She has worked with BBC TV, Human Rights Watch and numerous independent journalists and NGOs and regularly participates in civil society efforts within Jordan intended to highlight the needs and concerns of Iraqi refugees.

Zahra’s appearance at DIVA is also a fundraiser to help refugees within Iraq and those who have been forced to leave their homeland. Her talk coincides with the DIVA exhibit “Iraqi Women in the Time of War,” by local artist Marjorie Tracy.

Tracy’s motivation for the 15 paintings hanging in DIVA’s Members’ Gallery dates back to her first opportunity to observe and draw Middle Eastern subjects during a honeymoon trip to Baghdad in 1988. Her husband, Bill, covered the Babylon International Music Festival for Aramco World Magazine, and that magazine published a number of Tracy’s sketches of the event. Since then she’s returned to the Middle East four times with her husband, traveling in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Tracy will be available to talk about her exhibit.

From 5 to 6 pm Friday, Zahra will be the guest on Inform Radio, KWVA 88.1, with guest host Aria Seligmann filling in for Amy Pincus Merwin.



The more Oregonians get to know U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’s votes, the more they disapprove of his performance, according to Marc Siegel of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

The DPO released poll results this week from SurveyUSA indicating Smith’s disapproval rating has risen six points from May and 15 points from January. The Republican’s disapproval rating is now at 45 percent, according to the poll. His approval rating is at 47 percent with 8 percent undecided.

“Oregonians will not stand for a representative who says he opposes the Iraq War, but votes more than 20 times to authorize and fund it,” said Siegel. “Oregonians will not support an elected official who votes with President Bush 90 percent of the time, earns a 15 percent score from pro-choice advocates and a 14 percent score from environmental advocates.”



Iraq War statistics as of June 25 include 3,562 U.S. military deaths, 153 U.K. military deaths, 111 U.S. military suicides, 25,549 U.S. military wounded, 403 military contractor deaths and 66,315 to 72,608 Iraqi civilian deaths due to warfare. Cost of the war is calculated this week at $435.7 billion. Sources are and and


Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule

Weyerhaeuser (#741-5211) will aerially spray 1,724 acres with Garlon XRT and 4 Ultra, Sulfometuron methyl and metsulfuron methyl E-Pro, Accord, Chopper, and Transline herbicides, plus Liberate, LI700, Hasten and Methylated Seed Oil adjuvants in Eastern Lane County near Mohawk River, Cartwright, Mill, Nebo, Cogswell, Bear, Holden, Johnson and Straight Creek tributaries starting July 15 (#771-55630). Call Jeff Yost at Weyerhaeuser or Tim Meehan, Stewardship Forester, at Oregon Department of Forestry Eastern Lane District Office, at 726-3588.

Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332,



The Fourth of July holiday means EW offices will be closed Wednesday. Early deadline for reserving displays ads in our July 5 issue is 5 pm Thursday, June 28. Classified ad deadline is 5 pm Friday, June 29. Questions? Call 484-0519.






The fate of the Amazon headwaters is still in limbo this week after Mayor Kitty Piercy asked the Eugene City Council to delay discussion of eminent domain to acquire two properties targeted for development. Makes us wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Piercy and progressive councilors appear to be running into resistance from the city manager, city staff, anti-environmental councilors and the development community. A delay is not necessarily bad; this acquisition needs to be done right.

Meanwhile, let’s look at the arguments. Does south Eugene already have too many parks and open spaces? Not if you don’t count Laurelwood Golf Course and regional parks such as Hendricks Park and Amazon Park. And the Amazon headwaters will not be a park in the traditonal sense; its real value is in preserving an ecologically fragile area and the source of Amazon Creek. But isn’t Amazon Creek already irreparably polluted? Every year progress is made in cleaning up the Amazon and its riparian habitat, and polluting its source is a step in the wrong direction. Isn’t eminent domain a shameful violation of property rights? It’s been used before in Eugene for the public benefit, the last time to acquire property for the new U.S. Courthouse. Shouldn’t people be allowed to build on their property zoned for housing? Hillside development on wet, unstable soils can lead to landslides (as it has recently in Springfield), and the city could be held liable if housing is allowed on these properties, and the city has been warned. Solid science has shown the danger of slides in this area.

Merging of Eugene and Springfield fire departments? The more we look at this hasty proposal, the worse it sounds, particularly since Springfield has decided to go its own way on urban planning (see our cover story last week) and could quickly sprawl by as much as 1,000 acres. Sprawl puts a big and expensive burden on emergency services and makes it harder to keep response times down. It’s difficult to predict what the long-term financial implications would be with a merger. How does Springfield’s fire equipment and fire infrastructure compare to Eugene’s? What happens if Springfield voters (or Eugene voters) turn down future tax levies to support fire and EMT services? Who gets left holding the flaming bag? Eugene and Springfield already have mutual aid agreements. Let’s take our time before committing to a financial partnership.

PeaceHealth is denying rumors that the RiverBend Medical Center project is way over budget and donors are being offered “special incentives” to write big checks. Au contraire, says PeaceHealth spokesman Brian Terrett. “We’ve made a couple of adjustments based on cost inflation, but we are still well within our original contingency budget,” he says. “The capital campaign is only focused on purchasing new technology and equipment that will help make the new Sacred Heart Medical Center a state-of-the-art hospital. Even if there were overruns, fundraising wouldn’t be used to cover those increases.” Construction on the $350 million rural north Springfield hospital began in July 2005, and the opening is expected to be in August 2008.

Speaking of PeaceHealth, a Weekly staffer recently had some surgery at the old Sacred Heart. The staffer was surprised when, a few weeks before the surgery, a letter appeared in the mailbox asking for payment of half the estimated cost of the surgery (after insurance) before the procedure. Though there’s a disclaimer saying not to put off or cancel the procedure because of the pre-bill (instead, the letter suggests, call and work out a payment plan!), we wonder just how many people do that. The staffer, who grew up Catholic, doesn’t remember learning about payment-must-be-received-before-we-help-you in all those years of Catholic schooling. Perhaps that was simply a lapse in the staffer’s Catechism?

The more than half a million bucks being spent resurfacing rural Seavey Loop Road out toward Mount Pisgah has gotten a few people wondering about county priorities. That road doesn’t get much traffic other than park-goers and local residents. Speculation regarding the road includes Wildish Co. reviving plans for a big RV park north of Pisgah, but that rumor appears unfounded at this point — though the fate of the Wildish land north of Pisgah and along the Middle Fork of the Willamette is still uncertain. A more credible rumor is that a longtime resident of Seavey Loop Road is filing a Measure 37 claim and wants to build 88 houses on idyllic farmland not far from Mount Pisgah/Buford Park. Stay tuned.

Puzzling decisions that appear to contradict each other came out of the U.S. Supreme Court this week. On one hand, the court ruled that a key provision in McCain-Feingold campaign financing reforms of 2002 restricts free speech; on the other hand, the court ruled it’s not free speech for a student to displayed a sign (“Bong Hits 4 Jesus”) that his principal found offensive, even if the act is off school grounds and after school. What’s this all about? Conservatives on the high court are flip-flopping on the First Amendment depending on how it suits their political and religious purposes. Nothing new here, of course, but such blatant judicial activism erodes the public’s faith in our court system.

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,



“Search is an emergency,” says John Miller, coordinator of the Lane County Sheriff’s Office volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) program. “It’s a fallacy that you have to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person. You should call when you’re concerned.” The only full-time staffer at SAR, Miller is on call 24/7 for all but six days a month. He responds to 80 to 115 incidents per year. A Eugene native and Sheldon High grad, Miller saw combat in Vietnam, then went to work for El-Jay Manufacturing in Springfield. He spent his spare time hiking, skiing and especially mountaineering. “I volunteered with Eugene Mountain Rescue for 12 years,” he says. “In 1994 I was given the opportunity to do this job.” When a report comes in, Miller can call on any of eight specialized SAR units, including mountain rescue, water rescue, a dog search team and Explorer Post 178. He spends a third of his time training and testing volunteers, both within Oregon and outside the state. To learn about SAR volunteer opportunities, visit and look for Search and Rescue.