News Briefs: Will City Demolish History? | Football Goes to the Dogs | Eco-Sabotage Cases Continue | Golden Out of Race | Climate Down Under | Ecofair Update | Early Deadlines | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | War Dead |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
No Ban on the Burn
Field burning smoke will continue to blow into Eugene
Happening Person: Alex Bibicoffand Geo Bitgood
WILL CITY DEMOLISH HISTORY?
The city of Eugene and developer KWG want to tear down the historic Farmer’s Market and bank buildings on Broadway to make room for upscale development and parking garages, but a group of citizens want the buildings restored.
“Leveling whole city blocks of buildings during the 1960s and ’70s period of urban ‘renewal’ was a recipe for disaster for downtown,” said local historic preservation advocate David Gusset. “We are still reeling from its impact. You would think that we could have learned something by now from our previous mistake.”
Beneath the 1960s stucco facade of the building on Broadway that now houses a medical supply shop and dance center lies the ornate facade of Eugene’s historic Farmer’s Market. The 1929 market was built in a Spanish-Morocco style with multiple entries, plate glass windows, spiraled columns, decorative tile and an airy inside with vaulted ceilings. The market was a major anchor for downtown until 1959 when car culture, sprawl and supermarkets killed it.
Much of the building’s ornate facade still exists under the boxy 1960s shell, which could be easily removed, according to Gusset, local historic preservation consultant Jonathan Pincus and Citizens for Public Accountability member Lynn Reichman.
The city should also save the historic bank and store building at the north corner of Broadway and Willamette, the three argue. The building now houses a Taco Time, but beneath the 1960s shell is a structure that was originally built around 1860 and is probably the oldest commercial building in Eugene. The brick and stone building originally served as a store for the pioneer Bristow family and then as a bank. Even if only half the original structure remains beneath the box shell, the building could still be restored using old photos and designs, the historic preservation group argues.
Gusset, Pincus and Reichman argue that restoring the market and bank buildings would fit with a growing environmental movement to buy local, organic produce and sustainably restore buildings rather than throwing them away and increasing global warming.
But the preservationists complain that the city, developer and their consultant have dismissed the buildings as not worth saving. The Seattle city establishment took the same view of the Pike Place Market three decades ago, but citizens fought to save the historic market and created a celebrated city treasure that now attracts 10 million visitors a year. — Alan Pittman
FOOTBALL GOES TO THE DOGS
Bad news for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is good news for former Duck football star Joey Harrington.
Vick, owner of Bad Newz Kennels in Smithfield, Va., has pled guilty to charges of dog fighting. His indictment accuses him of not only fighting the dogs, but killing dogs that lost fights or lacked the will to fight by drowning, electrocution, hanging, shooting and slamming one dog into the ground.
An anonymous source told The Associated Press that prosecutors will recommend Vick be sentenced to between a year and 18 months in prison for his crimes.
Fifty-three of the dogs, mainly pit bull terriers, have been seized and if they go unclaimed by Thursday, Aug. 23, a federal judge will decide if they can be sold, or disposed of “by other humane means.”
Most dogs that have been used in fighting are euthanized, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
This is not the first case of animal cruelty by sports stars. Qyntel Woods of Portland’s Trail Blazers basketball team was accused of involvement in dog fighting several years ago.
Animal advocacy groups like the Humane Society and PETA are calling for the NFL and other professional sports associations to take action against violence towards animals.
With Vick out of the picture, Eugene favorite Joey Harrington is now the Falcons’ starting quarterback. This is Harrington’s third NFL team after playing for the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins. — Camilla Mortensen
ECO-SABATOGE CASES CONTINUE
The Northwest’s Operation Backfire cases continue to work their way slowly through the federal legal system. The only accused eco-avenger going to trial in the cases has had her court date pushed back again.
Briana Waters’ case, which will be heard in the Western District of Washington, has been moved to Feb. 4, 2008. Ten of the Backfire cases were sentenced here, and those defendants entered into plea agreements with the federal government rather than going to trial.
Two other defendants, Lacey Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar, who have also entered pleas, will be sentenced in Washington, most likely after Waters’ trial.
The 10 previously sentenced defendants have been designated to prisons around the country with at least one defendant, Kevin Tubbs, currently in a high security facility.
Tubbs is at United States Penitentiary (USP) Lompoc, the California facility that was built to replace notorious Alcatraz Island.
Nathan “Exile” Block is also at Lompoc but in the low security portion of the facility. Joyanna “Sadie” Zacher has been designated to Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Dublin, also low security, as has Suzanne Savoie. Canadian citizen Darren Thurston is at FCI Sheridan, a medium security facility.
Jonathan Paul and Kendall Tankersley have not yet reported to prison.
Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff and Chelsea Gerlach all await their final designations at various detention centers around the country. Because Meyerhoff and Gerlach were given longer sentences, as well as the terrorism enhancement, supporters fear they too may be designated to high security facilities. — Camilla Mortensen
GOLDEN OUT OF RACE
The Democratic competition to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith got smaller last week with the announcement by Jeff Golden of Ashland that he will not be filing for the 2008 primary. The announcement follows news that Gov. Ted Kulongoski and former Gov. Barbara Roberts have endorsed Jeff Merkley in the race. Another Senate hopeful from southern Oregon, state Sen. Alan Bates, has also decided not to run.
Golden is an author, former Jackson County commissioner and longtime host of a public radio talk show heard in both southern Oregon and Eugene. Golden left his position with Jefferson Public Radio in late June when it was reported he was considering a run for the Senate.
In a letter to supporters, Golden said Oregonians are “fed up with the political manipulation and shortsightedness of both political parties and know that if we really want our country back we have to demand more of our leaders and ourselves. They’re hungry for a call from leadership more meaningful than to ‘keep shopping so that the terrorists don’t win.’ Many of them agreed with me that our problem is not Sen. Smith but rather the rigged political system he’s been serving the last 11 years, and that the solution involves more than replacing him with a Democrat.”
Golden said his message hasn’t been well received by campaign professionals and party officials. “They generally recognize Oregonians’ restlessness,” he said, “but aren’t encouraging a hard look at how and why the system’s broken, perhaps fearing that people might be distracted from the simple task of voting for their candidates next year.”
What’s next? Golden has set up an interactive forum called “REALLY Taking America Back” (realltab.blogspot.com). “Anyone ready to trade cynicism for open-minded creativity on behalf of our country’s future is welcome there,” he said.
CLIMATE DOWN UNDER
Australian rainforest activist Kelly Tudhope is bringing her organization’s “Climate Despair and Empowerment” road show to Eugene at 7 pm Sunday, Aug. 26, at EWEB.
The 90-minute multimedia presentation “seeks to catalyse, invigorate and support grassroots study and action on climate change and encourages people to engage in social and political change,” according to organizers.
Included in the presentation is video footage of Al Gore speaking on the importance of building a grassroots movement and the necessity of “coming together to bring about real and lasting solutions to our climate crisis.”
Tudhope works for the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia and will be speaking about the impact of global warming in both Australia and New Zealand.
“It doesn’t matter how many windmills and solar arrays we build unless these are accompanied by reducing the more than 70 million tons of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere worldwide each day,” says Tudhope. “In the midst of rising alarm, we must not fall prey to political and business leaders eager for ‘business as usual,’ who want us to believe that we will be able to pay the environmental costs of a new coal mine by screwing in energy efficient light bulbs or planting trees.”
Local contacts for the road show are Kate Gessert (email@example.com) and Jacque Travis (JTravis@peacehealth.org).
An expanded schedule of the bioregional Cascadia EcoFair (see News Briefs last week) is now available online (suburbanpermaculture.org). The gathering runs Aug. 23-26 at River’s Turn Farm, 10 miles north of Eugene.
Dozens of workshops, panel discussions and speakers have been added to the schedule in recent weeks, including a Saturday afternoon panel on “Least Favorite City Ordinances.” Property owners in Eugene and elsewhere sometimes clash with local planning departments over unconventional but environmentally friendly design and construction techniques.
Registration for the gathering, including food and camping, is on a sliding scale of $45 to $75. For information and last-minute registration, call 345-6822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene Weekly‘s deadline for submitting personal ads, previously on Mondays, will now be 5 pm Fridays. The deadline for classified line ads will remain at 5 pm Mondays.
Coming up, EW offices will be closed Labor Day, Sept. 3. Early deadline for reserving display ad space will be 5 pm Thursday, Aug. 30. Early deadline for classified ads in that issue will be 5 pm Friday, Aug. 31. Got questions? Call 484-0519.
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Horton in the area of Lake, Swartz and Congdon creeks: Weyerhaeuser Co. — So. Valley (744-4600) will spray roadsides with herbicides starting Aug. 23 (#50909).
• Near the Siuslaw River, Farman, Bottle, Doe, Tucker, and Maxwell creeks: Weyerhaeuser Co. — So. Valley (744-4600) will ground spray 412 acres with herbicides starting Aug. 20 (#50896).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,707 U.S. troops killed* (3,689)
• 27,279 U.S. troops injured* (27,279)
• 118 U.S. military suicides*
• 297 Coalition troops killed* (292)
• 417 contractors killed** (417)
• 76,623 Iraqi civilians killed*** (75,723)
• $453.7 billion cost of war ($451.7 billion)
• $129 million cost to Eugene taxpayers
* through Aug. 20, 2007; 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
As we go to press Wednesday the West Broadway Advisory Committee is about to present its recommendations in a public workshop at the Atrium. The suggestions will then go to the Eugene City Council. We get a preview of the panel’s thinking in Jerry Diethelm’s “Design Matters” column this week. Kudos to the WBAC for some thoughtful work that will help the City Council and city planners in working with downtown developers now and in the future.
Just imagine if you had $100 million to give away. What would you do with it?
Impeachment was the word that wouldn’t go away last week at one of Congressman DeFazio’s town meetings that packed the EWEB conference room. Full of passionate and sometimes unruly energy, the crowd provoked Peter to suggest the shouting and interruptions were “kind of fifth grade.” He said impeachment of Bush and Cheney isn’t going to happen, but Gonzales probably has committed impeachable offenses and, if he were removed, “then we would get the Justice Department back. … We’re in the absurd position now where Gonzales won’t enforce congressional subpoenas.” At best, though, DeFazio estimated a 2 percent chance of impeaching Gonzales. Jay Inslee, the Washington Democrat who has introduced a resolution on impeaching the attorney general, has only 27 co-signers in the House.
Move on, DeFazio urged, to higher priorities: restoring integrity to the electoral process, undoing the damage of earlier telecommunication deregulation, getting more votes in September to end the Iraq War, keeping us out of war with Iran and partnering again with communities to fix infrastructure. DeFazio is chair of the transportation subcommittee and said ODOT is way ahead on bridge safety in this state. In the last highway bill, DeFazio steered $200 million in additional funds into fixing Oregon bridges.
Closer to home, City Councilor Andrea Ortiz asked for his help in cleaning up pollution and assisting residents in the railroad neighborhoods of west Eugene. One constituent asked if DeFazio could do anything about train whistles disturbing the peace. DeFazio said a process is in place for a community to silence whistles, but crossings probably would have to be improved, and that would cost more money.
The list of measures on the upcoming Nov. 6 elections is growing with the addition this past week of a Eugene measure on expanding the limits on urban renewal to subsidize downtown redevelopment. The local gas tax will be on the ballot, along with state Ballot Measure 49 (dealing with “fixing” Measure 37) and Measure 50 (tobacco tax to fund universal children’s health care). All of these measures, regardless of how they play out, help raise public awareness of the issues.
Looking ahead to 2008 we’ll see Eugene’s mayor, some city councilors, some county commissioners and state lawmakers on the May primary ballot. Too early to predict the lineup, but you can bet the political wheels are already turning. Will conservatives, or even progressives, challenge our popular Kitty Piercy, or will activists put their energy and money into other races? Sounds like Bonny Bettman would like to find someone to take her turn at the wheel in 2008. Betty Taylor, Chris Pryor and Andrea Ortiz are all up for reelection — any or all of those seats could be hot.
At the county, Bobby Green’s up to bat again. It’s been hard to run against him in the past, but he’s walking a tightrope this time following his vote to impose a county income tax without a vote. He’s got some ‘splaining to do. Term’s up in ’08 for the ambitious Pete Sorenson as well. He’s a shoe-in for reelection, but don’t be surprised if Sorenson goes for a state post again.
Why was it that only Eugene Weekly and KLCC bothered to show up at this year’s coronation of the S.L.U.G Queen? As far as we could tell, no other media were there Aug. 11 for one of Eugene’s most colorful, outrageous and unpredictable traditions. It’s not easy to get a reporter or camera crew out to cover events on a Saturday evening in August, but come on, media people! This is one of the cultural happenings that makes Eugene unique. Long live the queen. Queen Glorious Gastropause and her entourage will be making several public appearances, including the S.L.U.G. Queen Silver Jubilee from 6:30 to 7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 7, at the downtown library. And look for her glowing countenance in the Eugene Celebration Parade Sept. 8.
A gaggle of Eugene bicyclists flocked to PDX Aug. 12 for the big Providence Bridge Pedal. Every summer for 12 years now the city has closed lanes on all the big city bridges, including I-5, from early morning to late morning, and bikers and walkers have taken over. Some 19,000 people showed up for this all-ages circus with its massive bottlenecks, scary collisions, flat tires and screaming children. It was a beautiful thing. Eugene could do something similar to encourge biking and walking and raise awareness that the public roads and bridges belong to all of us.
We’re usually eager for science-based research backing environmental decisions, but here’s one study that shouldn’t happen. The next Oregon Legislature should not fund a $90,000 study on field burning that was recommended last week by the Environmental Quality Commission. That study would be pure Oregon “pork,” a little diversion and delay from the inevitable decision to snuff out all field burning in the Willamette Valley. As Dr. Robert Carolan, a respected Eugene pulmonologist, told the EQC, $90,000 doesn’t buy much real research and we already have millions of dollars worth of peer-reviewed, highly creditable studies on the health hazards of field burning. These come from the Journal of the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Journal of the American Medical Association, to mention a few. Maybe we should use $90,000 to assist growers to transition out of torching their fields, if, indeed, they need financial assistance. That would be a more creative and credible use of political bucks.
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, email@example.com
ALEX BIBICOFF AND GEO BITGOOD
During the seven years he lived in a shack he had built in the woods near Florence, Alex Bibicoff sometimes came into town after midnight to pull recyclable material from dumpsters. “It was a foolproof way to make myself feel better,” he says. Now a resident of the Rainbow Valley community near Lorane, he began work last year with the Saturday Market set-up crew. “It became apparent that no one else liked to recycle,” says Bibicoff, who was pleased to take on the chore. He was joined this year by Geo Bitgood, recently arrived from Arkansas. “I used to come out to visit my grandpa in McKenzie Bridge,” she notes. On Saturdays, Bibicoff and Bitgood dig through every bag of trash from the market, separating out compost and recyclables. In June, they achieved a 90 percent diversion rate. Nine bags of garbage per day went to the landfill, as compared to two overflowing dumpsters three years ago. In the photo, the two Bs have just finished a seven-hour shift at the Lane County Fair. “I feel drawn to event recycling,” says Bibicoff. “It’s in line with my ideas of right livelihood.”