News Briefs: Auditor, Police Clash on Violent Party Arrests | Bringing It All Home | WOPR Goes Down Hard | WALL-E, Kids and Native Plants | Winds in the Valley | Activist Alert | Speak Up for Clean Air |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Ken Rothman
AUDITOR, POLICE CLASH ON VIOLENT PARTY ARRESTS
The Eugene police auditor recommended that Eugene police discipline officers for unlawful arrest and excessive force for violently breaking up a loud, post-college age party last year.
But acting Police Chief Pete Kerns ignored the recommendation and found only that one officer was guilty of discourtesy for cursing at the citizens.
The case involving the incident with professional adults aged from the mid 20s to 70s at about 2 am last Aug. 31 was reviewed by two members of the Citizen Review Board (CRB) last week. One agreed with the chief, one with the auditor.
Deputy Auditor Dawn Reynolds summarized the case. Police officers responded to a noise complaint and told a resident she needed to stop the noise. The woman turned down the music and asked guests to come inside. About 10 minutes later, an officer allegedly put his foot in the door, used profanity and pushed a partygoer by the neck, according to Reynolds. The woman fell or was pushed off the porch and suffered bruises. The officers arrested three people for alleged interfering or excessive noise and took them to jail.
Arresting the woman for interfering for verbally questioning the police arrest of another resident was an unconstitutional violation of free speech, Reynolds said. “Her interference was purely verbal saying, ‘Why, why, why did you do this,’” she said. “That’s exactly what the [Oregon] Supreme Court has overruled.”
New Police Auditor Mark Gissiner, at his first CRB meeting after starting his job two weeks ago, also questioned the police action. “We had an officer who seemed to escalate the situation with his or her language,” he said. Gissener noted the officer described the profanity as a “tool in his toolbox” for policing.
Gissiner also questioned whether police should have taken a more problem-solving, community policing approach to actually quieting the party by talking more to the residents.
CRB member Tim Laue, a critic of the CRB and advocate for more police spending, said he agreed with the police chief. Laue said the CRB should look at complaints “from the view of another police professional.” But Laue said he had concerns about whether police allowed enough time for residents to end the party and whether the police should review how they use interfering charges.
CRB member Rick Brissenden, a municipal court judge in Florence and Cottage Grove, agreed with the auditor. Brissenden said officers should have waited longer for residents to finish quieting the party, shouldn’t have arrested someone for free speech and shouldn’t have pushed the woman by the side of the neck on a crowded porch. “I think we had a young officer that sort of lost control,” the judge said.
But EPD Capt. Steve Swenson said the neck push was appropriate. Even a “hair hold would be very appropriate under these circumstances,” he said. “Sometimes being the nice guy and trying to give them a break doesn’t really work with drunk people.” — Alan Pittman
BRINGING IT ALL HOME
Since 1971 BRING Recycling, which according to its website is one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit recyclers, has been telling Lane County about the benefits of recycling and sustainability. Sometimes, however, showing can be more effective then telling. With that in mind the volunteers at BRING are sponsoring the 2009 BRING it Home green home and garden tour.
BRING it Home takes place on Sunday, July 26, and is a self-guided tour of 21 sites in and around Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove that incorporate innovative and creative green designs. Included in the tour are eight gardens, a collection of homes and the Child’s Way Charter School just outside of Cottage Grove.
“When people see examples of houses using used materials, they get ideas,” BRING Volunteer Coordinator Michele Piastro said. “It’s helping people see how the stuff they use shape the world they live in.”
Tickets for the tour are $8 in advance and $12 at the door, and children 12 and under are free. The tickets, along with free guidebooks and maps detailing each site on the tour, can be purchased at the BRING central office and at many other businesses. For a complete list of places to purchase tickets or any other information about BRING and its projects, visit bringrecycling.org or contact Michele Piastro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-9093. — Topher Vollmer
WOPR GOES DOWN HARD
“Ding Dong the WOPR’s Dead!” was the phrase on the emails, Facebook pages and Twitter posts of Eugene’s environmentalists last week. Like Dorothy’s house crushing the Wicked Witch of the West (just to draw out the allusion a little more), the Obama administration squashed the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) on July 16, when the Department of Interior (DOI) announced the WOPR was, in the words of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, “legally indefensible and must be withdrawn.”
The Bush administration’s WOPR would have increased logging in Oregon by 700 percent. It was a revision of the Clinton administration’s Northwest Forest Plan, and it removed protections for native old-growth forests and fish-bearing streams in forests across western Oregon.
The WOPR was partly based on the USFWS 2008 revision of the critical habitat for the spotted owl. The DOI’s press release says that “the federal government will ask the District Court to vacate the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 revision of the critical habitat for the spotted owl, because Interior’s Inspector General determined that the decision-making process for the owl’s recovery plan was potentially jeopardized by improper political influence.”
An investigation found that Julie McDonald, deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks under Bush had interfered with more than a dozen endangered species decisions; the spotted owl was one of them.
Salazar said, “We have carefully reviewed the lawsuits filed against the WOPR and it is clear that as a result of the previous Administration’s late actions, the plan cannot stand up in court and, if defended, could lead to years of fruitless litigation and inaction.”
Locally, Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild, which was the lead plaintiff in a suit challenging the WOPR, said the group was “pleased that the Obama administration seeks to embrace sound science and move beyond the divisive proposals of the Bush administration.”
He added, “It’s time to take mature and old-growth forests and roadless areas off the table and focus our efforts on watershed restoration and thinning dense young stands.” These efforts, according to Heiken, will not only restore the forest but also create jobs and maintain a wood products supply.
Heiken cautions that the WOPR’s death doesn’t mean the end of bad logging projects. He said some of the projects the DOI said they were ready to move forward on post-WOPR were good, such as thinning projects in young stands, but others were clearcuts in mature forests that could harm spotted owl populations. “The Obama administration still needs to learn the difference between controversial and non-controversial forestry,” he said. — Camilla Mortensen
WALL-E, KIDS AND NATIVE PLANTS
It will be a summer evening of animated film and real environment issues when the Camas Educational Network brings the film WALL-E and a slide show on their community stewardship and school restoration programs to the Amazon Community Center on July 28 for an outdoor cinema night.
|Students from Thurston Middle School plant native trees and shrubs
Jason Blazar of CEN says that WALL-E’s upbeat environmental message ties in with the group’s goals. In their community stewardship program Camas Educational Network teaches students and community members about their ecological footprint, Blazar says, and “the different ways different cultures occupy and use natural resources in the landscape.”
“We don’t just go there and talk to the kids about all the things the we do that are messing up the world; we talk to them about what we can do to fix them.”
Blazar, who is president of the board of directors, says that for the past 10 years, CEN has been behind the scenes working with just a few schools, but this year is a coming out of sorts. CEN has been working with Churchill and Oak Hill High in Eugene and Northwest Youth Corps’ OutDoor High as well as Cottage Grove and Creswell Schools and a new program at Thurston High in Springfield. Blazar says CEN’s programs reach from the Cascade crest to the valley floor and from Cottage Grove to Corvallis.
Blazar says that in addition to their educational mission, schools also provide communities with open space which ties in with the second half of CEN’s mission — school restoration programs. CEN works with teachers, students and school districts to restore native habitats on the school grounds. CEN provides them with a comprehensive site plan. The students and teachers pitch in to remove invasive plants like blackberries, Blazar says. They plant native trees and shrubs and provide habitat for pollinators. CEN also helps schools establish green roofs and also garden projects, which grow food for school lunches.
WALL-E and the slide show will be at 8:30 pm on Tuesday, July 28, at the Amazon Community Center, 2700 Hilyard St. To learn more about Camas Educational Network, go to www.camasnet.org — Camilla Mortensen
WINDS IN THE VALLEY
The lower Willamette Valley is known for many things, but wind isn’t one of them. Eugene’s wind power potential looks pretty low when you compare it to the breezy Columbia Gorge or the blustery Oregon Coast. However, there are still Eugeneans who may want to harness their locations’ smaller capacity for wind power, and a new rule proposed by Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) could help them out.
The rule, proposed by DCBS’s Building Codes Division (BCD), its Electrical and Elevator Board and the Oregon Department of Energy, would allow manufacturers of small wind turbines to install their products more quickly and easily. Currently, Oregon law requires all electrical equipment to be certified before it can be installed, which means that small wind turbines must have been certified by a national testing laboratory or that each individual turbine must be tested by a field evaluation firm.
The policy change would allow manufacturers to receive certification on all the individual turbines of a model at once by submitting just one turbine for testing, making the whole process faster and cheaper. The rule would apply to turbines with the capacity to produce up to 100 kilowatts, enough energy to power several homes.
Steve Musser, the assistant manager and unofficial wind power expert at The Eugene Green Store, said that most parts of Eugene aren’t well suited for wind power generation, but he added that certain homes on crests of hills, farther out toward Bend, in Harrisburg or nearer to the Coast would be more likely be able to harness wind power.
Written comments to the BCD may be submitted by 5 pm Friday, July 24, to email@example.com — Krista Harper
• A discussion of routing West Eugene EmX on 6th and 7th Avenues rather than 11th and 13th Avenues will be at 7 pm Thursday, July 23, at 871 W. 11th. On the agenda for the meeting will be discussion about the impact of bus rapid transit on businesses and residences at 13th and Lawrence/Lincoln. Call 485-8632 or 513-7800 for more information.
SPEAK UP FOR CLEAN AIR
Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) is urging citizens to testify against awarding Seneca Jones Timber Company a pollution permit. A public hearing at the Lane Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) is planned for 5:30 pm Thursday, July 30, in Harris Hall, 8th & Oak in Eugene. Comments can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 pm Aug. 14.
Seneca is proposing to build an 18.8 megawatt cogeneration facility next to its mill along Hwy. 99 in Eugene that would burn forest biomass year-round to produce electricity. “The facility would belch pollution almost continuously into what the American Lung Association reports as one of the most overburdened airsheds in the U.S.,” says a statement from CPA.
“CPA and other organizations also recognize that neighborhoods already most sickened by air pollution would receive yet an additional blow with Seneca’s facility.”
Citing carbon emissions from clearcutting, removal of biomass from the forest floor, and from the facility itself, “these groups reject Seneca’s claim that that the facility is carbon-neutral or sustainable,” says CPA.
• The Bush WOPR (whopper) of a clearcut plan is dead. So now we’re back to the Clinton plan to save more trees. In another eight years, maybe we’ll be back to another Republican clearcut plan. And so on. The timber industry isn’t getting anywhere with its greedy, log-everything approach. The industry could have cut a lot more trees under Bush with a moderate compromise with environmentalists. Sure, the loggers could wait another eight years and hope for the best. But a more realistic, less stubborn approach would be to sit down and reach a lasting compromise. With little demand for lumber now, this is a good time to scale back logging and work to improve the long-term health of forests. The grizzled timber lobbyists should recognize at the negotiating table that times have changed. The environmentalists have the politics, the people, the law, the courts and the science behind them.
• The nearly quarter-billion dollars ODOT is wasting on the pile of concrete linguini at I-5 and Beltline is a monument to stupidity. While Eugene and Springfield’s downtowns wither and shrivel and mass transit gets short-changed, the state is investing truckloads of taxpayer dollars in encouraging unlivable urban expansion, car accidents, auto pollution, oil consumption, traffic snarl, global warming and sheer ugliness. In the future, people will look at the tangled concrete and scratch their heads at the idiocy.
• WaterWatch, Oregon’s sterling nonprofit that monitors who (including fish) gets how much water, wants us all to celebrate in October. That’s when demolition will take place on Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River near Grants Pass. For the first time since 1912, the Rogue will flow freely at Savage Rapids. WaterWatch’s Free the Rogue campaign helped remove Elk Creek Dam and the city of Gold Hill’s diversion dam, both in the Rogue basin. Gold Ray Dam, a defunct hydropower dam on the main stem of the Rogue upriver from Gold Hill, will be removed with a $5 million stimulus grant from the Obama administration. When it’s gone, WaterWatch will have helped to create one of the longest free-flowing reaches of river in the American West.
• The Oregon Coast is chalking up great public relations these days. ”4 Days and 2 Wheels on the Oregon Coast” is a full-page feature in the travel section of the July 12 New York Times. The bicycle ride along Hwy. 101, including side trips, is from Coos Bay to Brookings, 160 miles of remarkable scenery we all love. The riders left their car in Brookings and took their bikes and gear on a bus to Coos Bay. Another coast story comes from a van driver at the Eugene airport. He says groups of golfers fly in to Eugene, hire a van and driver to take them to Bandon’s famous courses, have their fun for a couple of days, and head back home the same route they came.
• Humans are wasteful creatures, and our habits regarding water are no exception. This week’s Viewpoint by David Moon quotes author Robert Glennon admonishing us to reform our management of this basic resource. Moon’s longer interview is at www.TheWaterReport.com or, better yet, read Glennon’s book, Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It.
The rain and geology of the Northwest gives us a water advantage over the rest of the continent, but abundant water does not guarantee us a rosy future. We face mass climate-change refugees and an influx of polluting, water-sucking industries. At the same time, McKenzie and Willamette river flows are predicted to drop, along with water tables in our valley. If we’re not careful in our water planning, future generations in Lane County might be joining the exodus north.
Raised in Mount Pleasant, Mich., Ken Rothman left high school at age 16 for Shimer College in Illinois, then left college at 19 for an ashram in India. “After four years, I’d had enough of celibacy,” says Rothman, who returned home for a psychology degree from Central Michigan, then came to the UO in 1978 for graduate work. “I didn’t enjoy school, but I liked Eugene and stayed. I planted nearly half-a-million trees in four years with the Hoedads.” Working with offenders at a non-profit agency in the 1980s, Rothman found that many had been abused as children. He became an activist for education about child abuse, speaking at conferences and consulting with sex-offender treatment agencies. He currently serves his third four-year term on a state child-abuse advisory panel. Inspired by a painting demo by Elaine Fielder at an Hakomi training in 1989, Rothman developed his WildArt! technique to explore the creativity of the unconscious. “I teach a meditation,” he says. “People follow the meditation deep into their unconscious. Surprising things happen.” After 35 WildArt! Playshops in 18 years, Rothman has done five so far this year, with five more scheduled this summer. More at kenrothman.org.