News Briefs: Kennedy Questions Orthodoxy | Next Big Thing is Back | Bikes Get Only 2% of Transportation Bucks | Strays No Longer Get a Free Ride | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
KENNEDY QUESTIONS ORTHODOXY
|dmitri von klein / monovita.com|
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the nation’s leading environmental lawyers, spoke to a near capacity crowd at the historic McDonald Theatre in Eugene July 22 (see earlier story 7/15). His speech on “Our Environmental Destiny” was a mixture of anecdote and argument, and at one point he took a stab at the quality of American journalism saying that, “we have become the best entertained nation on Earth.”
Kennedy argued against the prevailing view that ecology and capitalism are fundamentally opposed to one another. He gave several examples of how countries such as Costa Rica have decarbonized and have experienced a sustained period of economic growth. He said the free market rewards efficiency, and pollution is inefficient.
Kennedy repeated a warning about the prevailing control that corporations have in our economy and political institutions. He attempted to reframe how we define the free market in our society, calling the current system “crony capitalism,” and “corporatism.” He stopped short of blaming capitalism, saying it was “a tool, like a hammer. You can build with it, or you can destroy with it.”
His view of the free market, he said, is that it should promote environmental sustainability and economic growth. The orthodox view serves the interests of a narrow few. Kennedy said corruption of the free market is caused by government subsidies to inefficient industries, and the deregulation of the “commons,” our public lands, air, water, etc. This causes market distortions that allow corporations to use our natural resources in manner that benefits the few at the expense of the many. — Philip Shackleton
NEXT BIG THING IS BACK
Eugene Weekly’s popular Next Big Thing music contest is up and running and already has 11 songs posted online, “and they are good ones,” says Bill Shreve, EW’s director of sales and marketing who is overseeing the contest again this year. “We’re outpacing last year.”
The contest is intended to give local bands and musicians who are not already under contract an opportunity to showcase their best original single songs. The songs are posted at http://nextbigthingeugene.com along with photos and blurbs about the musicians. Readers can listen to the songs, comment and vote. The contest wraps up Sept. 15 when the top 40 vote-getters are submitted to a panel of judges. The judges are made up of people in the local music industry with a few EW readers tossed in.
“The judges can also look at songs not in the top 40,” says Shreve. “We want the judges engaged in the process from the start.” Each judge will submit a paragraph or two about what they will be looking for in a commercially successful song.
All genres of music are invited to compete, says Shreve. “If someone writes a great piece in the classical genre we want to hear it.”
The top 16 songs will go on a CD that will be distributed widely around Lane County. Musicians will be paid royalties on CD sales. The top four songs will be showcased live at the Best of Eugene Awards Show at WOW Hall Nov. 5, and the winner will be announced that night. The top four can also expect invitations to perform paid gigs around town.
Last year was the first year for the Next Big Thing and the contest ended with 150 songs, 25,000 visits to the website, and more than 8,000 unique visitors, says James Bateman, EW’s webmaster who is overseeing the technical side of the contest.
Last year’s winner was the band John Giovanni with its song “Slumber.” Despite, or perhaps because of its new-found fame, John Giovanni broke up and vocalist Genevieve Bellemare and composer Eric Valentine went on to perform in the popular jazz quartet Voodoun Moi.
The cost of entering the contest is $20 per song. A CD, digital photo and blurb about the band or musicians can be dropped off at the EW offices, 1251 Lincoln St. — Ted Taylor
BIKES GET ONLY 2% OF TRANSPORTATION BUCKS
For decades local plans have called for encouraging green and alternative transportation. But when it comes to actually spending money, bikes get very little.
The region will spend $270 million on transportation projects in the next three years, with only 2.2 percent of the money going for bicycle/pedestrian projects, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) plan slated for approval next month.
At the July 12 meeting of the Metropolitan Policy Committee (MPC), LCOG planner Paul Thompson sought to justify choosing to spend so much to encourage driving over biking. “Obviously those roadway preservation projects are a lot more expensive than the bike/ped projects, but you get more in a bike/ped project,” Thompson said.
No one at the MPC, which includes elected officials from Eugene, Springfield and Lane County, commented on the apparent illogic of that argument. Cyclists have long pointed out that the relative low cost of bike projects per person moved is a reason to spend more money on cycling, not less.
The huge polluting highway projects that LCOG and the MPC favor dwarf the tiny bike projects. The largest bike projects in the MTIP are a $2 million project to extend the riverfront bike path under Beltline and $2 million for a new riverfront bike path near Dorris Ranch. By comparison, the plan includes continued spending on a $202 million project to add a lane to the I-5 bridge over the Willamette. The plan also includes continued work on $150 million in construction to overhaul the I-5 Beltline interchange to fuel urban sprawl.
Thompson attacked criticism of the I-5 Beltline project from environmentalists in a memo to the MPC. “For the past 10 years, I-5 at Beltline Highway has been consistently identified as this region’s top transportation priority.”
However, the region’s top transportation priority is not promoting freeway sprawl but decreasing car use, as stated in the regional TransPlan adopted by local officials after years of debate, study and public involvement. TransPlan explicitly calls for a system that “will reduce reliance on the auto” and “give funding priority (ideally within the first three to five years after adoption of TransPlan subject to available funding) to stand-alone bikeway projects.” — Alan Pittman
A version of this story first appeared at EugeneCycles.com
STRAYS NO LONGER GET A RIDE
Cuts in the city of Eugene budget have cost Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) its ability to pick up strays.
“We lost an officer, so that’s a service we are no longer able to provide,” says Tom Howard, director of LCAS.
Previously when LCAS received a report of a stray dog or cat it was usually able to collect the animal and bring it to the county kennels, hopefully to reunite with its owner. But a reduction of one of its 3.5 officers means that LCAS is able to offer fewer services.
“We have to triage our calls and respond to the ones that are most important,” Howard says. He ticks off priorities that officers must respond to before strays: animal bites, abuse, neglect, injuries and dogs in cars or traffic.
Howard says that it’s too early to say what kind of impact the loss of stray pickup will have on Eugene’s wayward animal population, but he hopes that the public will continue to bring strays to LCAS at 3970 W. 1st Ave.
Stray pets run the risk of going hungry, getting hit by cars, and being hurt by vicious animals or people, according to the LCAS website.
Even though Howard urges the community to bring in strays, he cautions against contact with animals that display unfriendly behaviors. “If the dog or cat is aggressive, do not approach it.” Howard says. “We will come out for an aggressive dog.”
At the same time that the city of Eugene approved the budget that eliminated one LCAS animal control officer, Lane County approved its own budget, which added an animal behavior and training coordinator.
Kylie Belachaikovsky, LCAS volunteer and community outreach coordinator, says that budget cuts make the new position imperative because it will minimize the time pets are in LCAS care. “The behaviorist is going to get animals ready for adoption, keep them adoptable, and make sure they stay in their new adopted homes by offering support to adopters,” Belachaikovsky says.
During the 2010 fiscal year, LCAS responded to 6,642 calls and impounded 1,336 dogs and 679 cats. Between returning pets to their humans, adoptions and transfers, it was able to maintain a 94 percent overall live release rate. — Shannon Finnell
• The next Brewhaha “monthly forum over a few pints” will be at 7 pm Thursday, July 29, at Davis’ Restaurant, 94 W. Broadway. Topic is “Paper or Plastic: Are Either Fantastic?” Panelists are still being arranged, but so far include Brock Howell, Melissa Brown, Steve Cook and Lisa Warnes. Brewhaha is a collaboration between The Bus Project and EW.
• “Madness of Art and Art of Madness” is the topic of the First Wednesday MindFreedom Roundtable at 5:30 pm Wednesday, Aug. 4 at the Growers Market Round Table, 454 Willamette, 2nd floor. Panelists include Brandon Chambers, Chrissy Perirsol and David Oaks. Discussion plus work on Eugene Celebration Parade entry. See www.MindFreedom.org/lane
• Rep. Phil Barnhart is hosting a town hall on “Holding Wall Street Accountable” at
10 am Saturday, July 31, at the Creswell Community Center, 99 South 1st St. in Creswell. “Wall Street fat cats have corrupted our economic and political systems and taken advantage of hard-working people,” says Barnhart. “Join me to discuss how we can support our local communities and reinstate regulations to protect ‘we the people.’” Contact Barnhart at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 607-9207.
• A “Free the Hikers” table is being organized from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, July 31, at Saturday Market downtown. The table will provide information about Josh Fattal and two other hikers who were arrested on the border of Iran and are being held in a Tehran prison. Fattal was part of the Aprovecho community and his friend Tao Orion is organizing the information table. Contact email@example.com or visit www.freethehikers.org or read Orion’s Viewpoint on the hikers in the EW archives May 27.
• The 12th annual Blackberry bRamble, sponsored by GEARS (Greater Eugene Area Riders), expects up to 500 riders to participate in the long-distance event from 7 am to 4 pm Sunday, Aug. 1. Several rides are planned in scenic rural areas with distances ranging from 43 to 100 miles and all the routes include state roads or highways. Get details at http://edu.eugenegears.org/bramble
• The Eugene City Council will vote Aug. 9 on the Eugene Police Department’s request to extend the downtown exclusion zone (see Viewpoint this week). The public hearing is over, but residents can still contact city councilors.
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Districtwide including near Florence: James A. Dole; Dole Land Management (914-3880) will ground spray for Rosboro Lumber Company (746-8411) noxious weeds and roadsides on Rosboro lands within Lane County with Garlon, Arsenal and Accord herbicides plus Mor-act and Crop Oil adjuvants already in progress (ODF Notification No. 2010-781-00669).
• Knotweed spraying and other invasive plants may be sprayed with herbicides by ODOT and various soil and water conservation districts through the end of July and into August and September.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
The Roving Park Players production company was incorrectly listed last week as staging a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream July 24-25 at Campbell Community Center. The listing was carried over from our June 3 Summer Guide issue. Our apologies to those who showed up for the play that wasn’t. Roving Park’s next production is Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, starting Aug. 12.
• Is LTD on the wrong track in its EmX bus rapid transit planning? We wrote in News Briefs last week about the flyer that’s circulating around town, stuck on car windshields, saying that LTD is wasting taxpayer money designing and building rapid transit routes when it should be spending on its shrinking bus routes. LTD funding is complex, but in a nutshell the regular bus routes are supported by riders and by payroll taxes paid by employers. The level of service we experience rises and falls with the economy and right now it’s down. But the funding for EmX comes from federal and sometimes state grants, and Lane County has the good fortune to be chosen for a pilot project. If EmX proves to be successful, it can serve as a model for other metro areas our size. Other benefits: The West Eugene Extension will help relieve congestion on West 11th; EmX buses carry more people more cheaply and cleanly per mile than regular buses; establishing rapid transit routes now is cheaper and easier than it will be in 20 or 50 years; and the routes are designed to be converted to light rail or whatever new transportation technology comes along. We could turn down the federal grants, but then they would just go to Spokane or some other city eager for transportation help. Why are we (even some progressives) fighting mass transit in Eugene and not embracing it enthusiastically? The details are certainly worth debating and challenging, but the big picture is clear. This is the direction we must go.
• Makes us proud. We hear this week that two South Eugene High Ultimate Frisbee athletes have been invited to represent the U.S. at the World Junior Ultimate Championships in Heilbronn, Germany in early August. Dylan Freechild, 19, and Aaron Honn, 17, will be joining 41 other young men and women from high schools and colleges around the nation. The U.S. team, all under age 21, will compete against 22 teams from around the world. The team is “the best that U.S. Ultimate has to offer,” says girls’ head coach John Sandhal. More than 500 players applied to be on the team. See more at the USA Ultimate website, http://wkly.ws/ov
• Art Robinson is running against Congressman Peter DeFazio in the November elections and Robinson appears to be running a cynical, even unethical campaign. He’s demanded debate times and dates that he knows conflict with DeFazio’s schedule, and the latest scandalous behavior is this past weekend’s automated telephone “push-poll.” We got one of these calls and it started off fair enough, asking us who we favored in the race. It then devolved into questions on the order of, “Would you still vote for DeFazio if you knew he tortured kittens and plans to take your guns away?” The questions were almost that absurd.
• We hear the Network Charter School is in negotiations for a privately owned downtown building, not the empty city-owned four-story building on Pearl that the school tried so hard to negotiate last spring. If the new deal goes through the building will need months of extensive upgrading. The school will have a temporary home in the fall, thanks to the generosity of Pastor Dan Bryant and the congregation at First Christian Church. Network Charter is an important part of our 4J education system and its 120 kids inject a lot of life into downtown. Let’s support it in every way we can.
• Yet another report that Oregon’s new junior Sen. Jeff Merkley is doing a stellar job comes in the July 26 issue of The New Yorker magazine. John Cassidy’s story on Paul Volcker and his battles over the financial reform bill tells that Merkley and Carl Levin were Volcker’s two closest allies on the Hill. We also hear that Merkley has been in the right place for an energy bill in the miserable Senate. Remember Gordon Smith, replaced by Merkley in 2008? He was moderate by today’s standards, but it’s good for the state and the country that a smart, courageous, progressive Oregonian has taken his seat in the Senate.
• We missed last weekend’s opening of The Boys From Syracuse at the Oregon Festival of American Music, but performing arts editor Suzi Steffen did make it to a Kiss Me, Kate rehearsal. She was happy to watch Eugene Ballet dancers, local theater lights like the redoubtable Bill Hulings and Shirley Andress and a group full of energetic dancers, singers and actors. Kate opens Friday, July 30, at the Hult, and Syracuse also plays for two more weekends at the Shedd as OFAM continues with a wide variety of musical options (see Brett Campbell’s column about it at http://wkly.ws/p4).
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