News Briefs: City Survey Pushes for Developer Subsidies | Fast Balls, Fast Cars | LCAS Needs a New Home | Abandoned Graveyard Gets Clean-Up | Arrr! Time for Pirate Speak | Nestlé Backs Down From Water Plan | Activist Alert |Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Vikki Perpinan
Hispanic, Her Panic
Rebeca Urhausen and Fiesta Latina after 18 years
City Survey Pushes for Developer Subsidies
The city of Eugene paid $25,000 for a completed survey, but claims it doesn’t know what questions were asked.
Eugene Planning and Development Director Susan Muir told the City Council that she and other city executives spent six hours with a Los Angeles consultant developing the questions for the survey on urban renewal tax diversion. But asked after the meeting for the list of questions, Muir claimed she didn’t have one.
“We didn’t generate the questions; the consultant did,” Muir claimed.
The consultant, Gary Manross, said to ask city staff for the questions. But city planning and development PR person Laura Hammond said Manross may withhold the survey questions the city paid for as “proprietary.”
Muir said staff may publicly release the questions in a week or more, long after the press would report the supposed survey results.
In a summary presentation, Manross claimed the survey showed public opposition to downtown parks and support for city staff’s push to dramatically increase the diversion of tax dollars to subsidize private developers.
“Your electorate like the idea of public-private partnership,” Manross said. He claimed this notion came from the wording of a phrase in a question that he had not publicly provided.
But without the survey questions, it’s difficult to tell if the survey results presented represent public opinion or the personal opinion of city staff and the political consultant. Manross formerly held executive positions with the pro-sprawl California Association of Realtors and Hill and Knowlton, a corporate PR firm criticized for lying about tobacco cancer, representing brutal dictators and corporate criminals and pro-war propaganda.
Manross and city staff claimed the survey of 400 likely voters was “scientific” and accurate, but the results ran dramatically counter to a full survey of actual voters conducted less than two years ago. In November 2007, 64 percent voted against expanding urban renewal.
From Manross’s summary, it appears he may have spun the questions in the survey to say that urban renewal would be “creating jobs” rather than subsidizing developer profits. There was no apparent mention of the fact that urban renewal diverts tax money from funding for schools, road repair, police and other government services.
Manross, a paid consultant on political and corporate campaigns, advised the council to present the alleged “scientific” survey results at forums, supposedly held to gather public input, to instead push voters to the view the city wants. “This way you can say this is what the electorate wants,” Manross said. “What that leads to in the end is consensus.” — Alan Pittman
FAST BALLS, FAST CARS
The Ems’ upcoming move to the UO’s PK Park for their games has longtime Civic Stadium fans worried about the future of the old stadium. But the move to PK Park may have some other repercussions for baseball fans.
The speed limit on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where PK Park sits, close to Autzen Stadium, is 40 mph. Also located on MLK Boulevard are county facilities such as Lane County Mental Health Services and Lane County Juvenile Services. David Suchart, director of management services for the county, says the speed limit on the street is too fast. He says the county has asked the city of Eugene to put a crosswalk in on MLK to allow people from Juvenile and Mental Health services to cross the street and catch the bus safely, but the road has not had enough accidents to merit a crosswalk. “We tried it when we built Juvenile; we tried it when we built Mental Health,” Suchart says, but the buildings still don’t have a crosswalk.
Next season with the Ems playing PK Park at night, Suchart says the speed on the road combined with nighttime decreased visibility could lead to a fatality. “Somebody will get whacked,” he says. He says the EPD police the football games well, but more “drunks at night” are a whole new ballgame on the speedy roadway. — Camilla Mortensen
LCAS NEEDS A NEW HOME
Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) has long since outgrown its facilities, according to a 2003 Lane County Animal Regulation Advisory Task Force Report, which at the time called for the addition of 60 kennels and for “either a thorough overhaul or a complete replacement” of the facility. LCAS employees, county administrators, county commissioners Rob Handy and Bill Fleenor and animal welfare advocates recently toured a possible location for a much-needed new building.
LCAS staff members have tried to improve the current facility’s use of space. For example the “euthanasia room” has been modified into a general medical area. But the room is small and lacks running water. One professional assessment called LCAS’s crowded building “a liability waiting to happen.”
The current advisory committee would like to see LCAS in a new building that would be an “animal-friendly, staff-friendly and public-friendly shelter.” According to a letter by Lisa Wolverton on behalf of the committee, “although LCAS staff is operating at a high level of outstanding service delivery and has been admirably implementing the Board’s ‘Save Adoptable Animals’ mandate, they are significantly hampered by the facility’s now out-of-date design and condition.”
According to a 2005 study by the design firm Animal Arts, LCAS has three options. The first would be to remodel the older building, but the cost of that remodel might be more than the cost of a new building, the report says. The second option is to build a new shelter with the same capacity. The third option, which the committee supports in the letter, would be to build a larger, state of the art facility that would meet the standard that a community’s animal shelters should have capacity equivalent to 4 percent of the human population.
The possible location for a new building would be on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, near the county’s Juvenile and Mental Health buildings. The location has more than 40 acres on which to build and is in a highly visible location, which animal advocates hope would improve adoption rates. The construction of the building was estimated in 2005 to be about six million dollars, with the method of fundraising still to be determined.
The county’s director of management services, David Suchart, says if it was funded, a new facility could be designed and built in two years.
“Lane County’s outmoded, deficient and cramped facility is cause for community concern,” concludes the LCAS advisory committee’s letter, which asks the county commissioners to move forward quickly on a new shelter. — Camilla Mortensen
ABANDONED GRAVEYARD GETS CLEAN-UP
A small group of citizens has taken on the daunting task of restoring historic Luper Cemetery and are inviting the public to join them. The 2-1/4-acre Luper Cemetery is a pioneer-era cemetery first used in 1857. Located outside city limits off River Road, it is surrounded by property that the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission leases to farmers.
To reach the cemetery, visitors must traverse a locked gate, then follow a winding gravel road for a quarter mile. Chris Jensen first visited the cemetery when she began work as a wastewater employee, “although you couldn’t tell it was a cemetery,” Jensen says. “It just looked like a bunch of overgrown brush.” Jensen researched the abandoned property for two years in an attempt to determine who was responsible for it, and then last fall she motivated fellow wastewater employees to begin the clean-up. “We decided that somebody needed to do something because it was just horrible,” she says.
The cemetery is overgrown with vinca vine, blackberries, poison oak and tree saplings. Tombstones have been broken and scattered, and most graves are marked only by a settling of the earth into a low spot. When Jensen and her coworkers first surveyed the cemetery, they discovered trash and burnt candles and even an open grave where vandals had tried to exhume remains. Most recently, vandals removed flags marking the locations of pieces of headstones that had been unearthed.
About one third of the cemetery has been cleared of brush, and much remains to be done. Jensen would like to put down gravel, to keep the bare ground from eroding during winter rains. She is battling not only vandals but also the relentless forces of nature. “We came out here in April and May and made a lot of progress,” Jensen says. “Then in June, everything was grown back again.”
Jensen and her coworker Barb Holdiman hope to turn the clean-ups into regular monthly events with the public’s help. Plotting of the graves, restoration and preservation efforts will follow.
The cemetery is named for James Luper, who arrived in Oregon from Illinois in 1852. The recent clean-up effort revealed two graves from the mid-1990s, though most graves date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Records are difficult to come by, and no one agrees on who owns the cemetery. Ancient, gnarled apple and cherry trees stand guard over the broken headstones, and volunteers have left wild lilies to grow in place of the blackberry vines. “There’s a few of us who haven’t given up on it,” Jensen says.
The next clean-up is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19. To volunteer, call Chris Jensen at 682-8600.—Vanessa Salvia
ARRR! TIME FOR PIRATE SPEAK
Q: What did the Jewish pirate say when he realized this year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day falls on Rosh Hashanah?
A: “Ahoy vey!”
That’s right, Sept. 19 marks not only the first of the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah — so be sure to wish your friends shana tova — it also marks Talk Like a Pirate day. It’s time to start practicing your “Arrrs” and a couple “Ahoy me hearties.”
The “holiday” was created by Oregonians John Baur (aka Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (aka Cap’n Slappy) of Albany, and took off when humor columnist Dave Barry wrote about their celebration in 2002.
The pirate cause was further helped when the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (aka Pastafarianism) was created in 2005 as a satirical response to protest the argument over the Kansas State Board of Education’s requiring the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to biological evolution in schools.
The chosen outfit of those preaching Pastafarian beliefs is full pirate regalia, according to the FSM website, www.venganza.org and the “religion” holds that pirates are divine beings. Of course, Pastafarians celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day as one of their holidays, and the pirate-Oregon connection continues — Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is an OSU physics grad.
Locally, Irving Grange is having an alcohol-free pirate costume party at 6:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 19. Bring a Caribbean pirate-type finger food for potluck snacks. There will be pirate games with pirate treasures and pirate punishment for those not in costume. Tickets are $2. Email Cap’n Scarface Wyant for more details at WinterSpringsRHW@aol.com — Camilla Mortensen
NESTLÉ BACKS DOWN FROM WATER PLAN
A Nestlé Corp. proposal to extract 200 tanker-truck loads of water a day from a pristine, sacred spring and aquifer near the McCloud River and Mount Shasta in Northern California has been blocked, according to Ruth Koenig of Eugene. Nestlé water is sold under the Arrowhead label.
Late last week, Koenig got news that Nestlé is backing out of its plans following years of lawsuits and a boycott of Arrowhead water. Nestlé’s new bottling plant will now be built in Sacramento. Koenig and other Eugene activists have been involved in the campaign to save the aquifer. “The consequences to fish, wildlife, plants and people downstream are incalculable,” she says.
Koenig forwarded news from Betsy Phair of Concerned McCloud Citizens, saying, “This is wonderful news on the surface. I am cautiously optimistic! I don’t trust Nestlé.”
Aquifer depletion was not the only issue, says Koenig. “Some Arrowhead water sold in the Eugene area is extracted from Hope Spring, B.C., about a thousand miles from Eugene, and other water is from springs throughout California. So resource use through transportation is another huge environmental assault.”
Koenig says that “two Eugene business owners, after hearing about the proposal, the sacredness of the spring and importance of the aquifer, agreed to stop ordering Arrowhead water.” Those businesses are the Friendly Street Market and New Frontier Market.
More information can be found at http://stopnestlewaters.org
• The city of Eugene in collaboration with Safe Routes To School will put on its last of the season Breakfast at the Bridges from 7 to 9:30 am Friday, Sept. 18, at the Blue Heron Bike Bridge across from Cesar Chavez school.
• A celebration of life for Leslie Brockelbank (see cover story last week) is planned for 4 pm Saturday, Sept. 19, at the First Christian Church, 1166 Oak St. in Eugene.
• Oregon Wild hike is Saturday, Sept. 19. Climb through the Black Creek Canyon on the west side of the Waldo Lake Wilderness past Lillian Falls, through spectacular ancient forest and high elevation huckleberry thickets to reach the shores of Waldo Lake in Klovdahl Bay. Learn about the history, trials and tribulations of this pristine lake and witness its spectacular beauty on this free hike. Pre-registration required. Call 344-0675 or sign up online at www.oregonwild.org
• Huerto de la Familia is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a benefit from 7 to 9 pm Saturday, Sept. 19 at Cozmic Pizza (see Calendar).
• The SOLV Great Oregon Fall Beach Cleanup is from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, Sept. 19. Volunteers may check in at one of 44 meeting sites along the coast, pick up an SOLV trash bag and head down to the beach. Visit www.solv.org to pre-register online and view a map of registration locations, or call (503) 844 -9571 or (800) 333-SOLV.
• Noted architect Eric Corey Freed will speak at 6 pm Thursday, Sept. 24, at the EWEB Community Room. Freed is executive director of Urban Re:Vision and principal of organicARCHITECT, an architecture and consulting firm in San Francisco. He is the author of Green Building & Remodeling for Dummies. Cost is $5 for non-members of Cascadia Green Building Council. RSVP by phone to 485-8186 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Warning to hunters: Thousands of acres of timberland have been sprayed recently with herbicides and other pesticides which can make hunters sick from vapors and from contact with sprayed vegetation. Timberland owners do not post either before or after spraying chemicals on their land. Please contact the timberland owners ahead of time to find out if and when they have sprayed and what chemicals were applied. Deer and elk can also be affected by the chemicals. Please report any sick animals to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 726-3515.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
In last week’s new story on Arcimoto, Eugene’s new electric car company, the spelling of the CEO’s name should be Erik Stafl.
• Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz presented a great campaign speech on jobs, jobs, jobs at the City Club last week. Too bad nobody gets to vote for him. That’s Eugene’s crazy form of government where the elected mayor and council have none of the power and all of the accountability, and the unelected city manager has all of the power and none of the accountability. Eugene’s outdated manager/council system has given us cops as serial rapists, a desolate downtown and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. It’s long past time Eugene had a more effective, accountable and democratic form of government.
• Eugene police are claiming that a drop in county jail beds and too few police officers caused a big jump in crime in Eugene last year. But Springfield, which uses the same jail and has fewer officers per capita, didn’t have a similar increase in crime. Are Eugene police cooking the numbers as part of their effort to boost their budget? Or are they just not doing their job?
• Reports of Commissioner Bill Fleenor’s intent to not seek reelection met with consternation last week and already we hear of plots afoot to persuade Fleenor, who represents west Lane County, to stay in office. Will the efforts to “draft Bill Fleenor” change the commissioner’s mind? Some notes of support might help, along with some campaign pledges. Meanwhile, Bill Dwyer’s decision to retire from the commission potentially leaves two open positions in 2010: East Lane and West Lane. Lots of political animals live in those two districts, including retired DA Doug Harcleroad (a Republican), and Lee Beyer (a Democrat). Sen. Bill Morrisette has already filed for East Lane.
• It will be a smart move if the Lane County commissioners appoint Val Hoyle next week to fill Chris Edwards’ seat in the Oregon House left vacant by his move to the Senate to replace Vicki Walker. Carol Horne Dennis and Steve Orton are other good candidates with a future in elected office. Hoyle and her husband and two kids came to Eugene in 1999 largely because of the reputation of the public school system. Working hard in the Lane County Democratic Party, she eventually became an outstanding chair, not the easiest political job around. She worked as a legislative aide for Sen. Floyd Prozanski, is now on the staff of United Way, and has been investing valuable time in the EmergeOregon training for future candidates. As Hoyle puts it in her Boston labor accent, she won’t go “sideways.” She’s a proven, serious candidate who will stick to her principles.
• When Bill Sullivan played Eugene Skinner last Sunday for Skinner’s 200th birthday party in the Eugene Masonic Cemetery, he slipped in a resonating quote from the tough old pioneer. Skinner wondered about the “streak of contention” in Eugene. We still wonder about that. Ironically, the party that drew about 230 people to the public square in the cemetery demonstrated the opposite, how the community has come together to restore this beautiful historic place, still an active burial cemetery. No longer owned by the Masons, the cemetery was acquired and is run by a nonprofit organization. Several streams of income keep it fiscally sound. Volunteers are essential. Barbara Cowan chaired the Skinner party with her committee: Karen Seidel, Violet Johnson, Lynette Sal, Alice Adams, Mary Ellen Rodgers and, of course, Kay Holbo, the vice-president for fund raising, who has been a key player in bringing the old cemetery back to life.
• The Eugene Chamber of Commerce decision to join big business in opposing the Legislature’s new tax fairness package is not surprising. The Chamber has a long history of favoring their big business members over small business members. Most of the Chamber’s small business members will be barely affected by the changes; in fact, they might easily benefit from more money going to local schools, public health and public safety. Squeezing education and the social safety net is bad for all business in the long run.
• Anyone notice the new Qwest DEX phone book is not so thick this year? The latest doorstop on your doorstep has 88 fewer Yellow Pages than in 2008, and 112 fewer pages than the dusty 2004 edition we found buried in a closet. The number and size of adult ads are down, and the white pages are shrinking as well. The new DEX is still substantial enough to choke a large land mammal, but it appears this traditional print media, ubiquitous for the past 130 years, is doomed. It’s still essential advertising for some businesses like bail bonds and locksmiths, and Yellow Page web advertising is growing; but the trend is clear: Customers are abandoning land lines for cell phones, and turning to Google or Yahoo for quick and easy information. Our floundering economy is also forcing businesses to more carefully scrutinize the cost-effectiveness of their advertising dollars.
Please recycle your old phone books — while we still have phone books.
Two weeks out of high school in Ashland, Vikki Perpinan came up to Eugene in 1976 for the UO’s Upward Bound summer program. “I never went back,” she says. Instead, she met her husband, Jaime Perpinan, a welder, and had the first of their five children. Hard times in 1979 prompted a move to Phoenix, where there were “jobs on every corner.” Returning to Eugene in 1990, Jaime found work, but still they went homeless for months because landlords, ignoring the new fair-housing law, wouldn’t rent to a family of seven. “I was angry,” says Perpinan. “I wrote a speech for Homeless Awareness Month in October at Harris Hall. I stood up, I was crying, and people started clapping.” She was asked to speak to other groups, the family was able to purchase a house a month later, and the two youngest got into Head Start. “I got an education volunteering at Head Start,” says Perpinan, who landed a VISTA position five years later with St. Vinnie’s Second Chance Renters Rehabilitation Program. It turned into a full-time job in 1998. “I’ve been there ever since, written grants and helped build it up. It’s an eight-week course for people who can’t find a place to rent. Ninety-two percent of our grads find housing.”