News Briefs: People’s Park in the Lot | Zelenka’s Arena Position | Meet Mr. Nice Guy | Red Scare Green Scare | Town Hall Continues | From Theory to Reality | Cohousing to Begin Building | Adoptable Animal Update | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Blank Check Downtown
Voters won’t know what they’re voting on
PEOPLE’S PARK IN THE LOT
Several dozen park supporters gathered Friday, Sept. 21, at the parking lot and pit across from the downtown Eugene Public Library to call for a park — by setting one up.
They brought potted trees and plants, lawn chairs, bikes, blankets, kids and dogs. Some played chess, Scrabble or Frisbee. There was even a violin and cello duet.
“I think a park would be a wonderful place down here,” said Tim Boyden, looking up from reading a book next to a potted tree. Boyden said it’s “disgusting” that a downtown developer and the city only support a wide sidewalk at the site. “We need a park.”
“A park is an essential part of a healthy downtown,” said Jan Spencer, as group members began gathering signatures on the back of a sign. Parks are popular in Eugene, he said. In the $200 million downtown redevelopment the city is considering, Spencer said he hopes “Eugene gets what fits Eugene and not some out-of-town corporation.”
On a bike decorated with ivy, a sign read, “Bike and bus downtown and have a park instead of having to park.”
Lou Ter said she was disappointed after she moved to Eugene from England and found there was no park where she could take her 4-year-old son after going to the library. “This would be a really nice addition and would contribute to people actually wanting to be here.”
“Yeah,” said her son Free after looking down through a chain-link fence at the Sears hole. “It would be cool.”
Fergus McLean said opposition to the park proposal by the business and city establishment is a “class issue.” McLean said, “the business community is saying we can’t have a park downtown because then we’ll have poor people.”
After the protest, Pam Driscoll said she and some other participants plan to continue the event every Friday from 4:30 pm to sunset until the November election on the parkless redevelopment plan. — Alan Pittman
ZELENKA’S ARENA POSITION
In response to talk of a possible recall effort over the issue of the UO basketball arena (EW 9/20), City Councilor Alan Zelenka said he only supports the project on the condition that the university address traffic, parking, noise and other neighborhood impacts.
Zelenka said he tried to contact UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny to discuss neighborhood concerns but got “zero” response from the UO. “The university has stiffed the neighborhood on public process so far.”
If the UO does not address the neighborhood impacts, Zelenka said he could still oppose the project. “It’s conditional support.”
Zelenka said the Fairmount Neighborhood Association voted to take a similar conditional stand on the project last year. In the past, Fairmount has been one of the most active and politically organized neighborhoods in the city. “They can respect the neighborhood and still have an arena,” Zelenka said.
Zelenka said city planners have told him that the arena is an allowed use on the old light industrial bakery site. But Zelenka is not sure whether the larger footprint that the UO may pursue through condemnation or waivers of parking requirements would require zoning changes, council votes, hearings or special permits. The project would require a traffic impact study, he said. — Alan Pittman
MEET MR. NICE GUY
Oregon House Speaker and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Jeff Merkley rolled through Eugene recently on his whirlwind RV tour of Oregon. After stepping out of his brightly bedecked rig, he spoke to a crowd of about 70 Eugeneans, then lingered to chat and “press the flesh,” as his spokesperson Russ Kelley put it.
The flesh-pressers included everyone from wide-eyed college students eager to start a campus campaign for Merkley to Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, who warranted a kiss on the cheek as well as a handshake.
Merkley, like fellow Democratic candidate Steve Novick (see EW 9/6), is running on an anti-Sen. Gordon Smith platform, with a little anti-Bush sentiment thrown in too. His stance is unsurprising, given that his main issues are ending the war, energy policy and health care, all areas where Smith is vulnerable or, as Merkley put it, “increasingly off track.”
But that’s about as vicious as Merkley gets. When asked about fellow candidate Novick, he has nothing but pleasant things to say. And what about Independent candidate John Frohnmayer’s foray into the Senate race? Merkley smiles and says, “Everyone brings something to the arena.” He mentioned neither of his opponents in his stump speech, saving his criticisms there for the Republicans.
He’s a little sensitive to criticism himself. When asked about Willamette Week’s Sept. 12 article questioning the way he oversees his rental properties in Portland, his friendly smile changed briefly to an expression of hurt. He recovered his poise quickly and pointed out that he’s never had a code violation — “a very good place to be.”
In the housing realm, he also pointed to his background as executive director of Habitat for Humanity. Furthermore, “I founded the first Individual Development Account (IDA) program west of the Mississippi,” he says. IDA programs help low-income families save money to buy a house, go to college or start a business.
There’s no doubt that this nice guy is the darling of the Democrats — he’s gotten endorsements from Gov. Ted Kulongoski and former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who have agreed to co-chair his campaign. But officially, the race for the Democratic nomination is still open, and Merkley, whom Novick calls “a traditional politician,” is going to have to fight hard to win.
Recently entering the Democratic fray is Candy Neville, a Eugene real estate broker, peace activist and wife of an R-G editorial writer. Quirky Portland “fitness guru” Pavel Goberman is also listed as a candidate. — Camilla Mortensen
RED SCARE GREEN SCARE
Local “Green Scare” attorney Lauren Regan will team up with “Red Scare” author and activist Robert Meeropol in Eugene this weekend to discuss the lessons the McCarthy era has for today’s environmental activists.
Meeropol and Regan will speak from 7 to 9 pm Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Wesley Center, 1236 Kincaid.
No one knows how scary the Red Scare of the 1950s was better than Meeropol. His communist parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage when he was 6 years old.
“The Northwest is really the center for the prosecution of environmental activists,” says Meeropol.
“People have to speak out and have a public discussion,” he says, about the “false dichotomy” put out by the Bush administration, which he says “is making an end run around our judicial system.”
He compares the current administration’s policies to that of the McCarthy era where “we sacrifice others to have the illusion of safety.”
“There’s no evidence that McCarthy made American safe from the Communists or any other ‘attack,'” Meeropol says. “There’s no evidence that George Bush and all those folks have made us safer either.”
“Giving up our civil liberties will not increase our security,” he adds.
The event is a benefit for the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which gives emotional and educational aid to activist youth and to the children of targeted activists in the U.S. — Camilla Mortensen
TOWN HALL CONTINUES
A series of free public forums continues this week focusing on local and regional issues. The events will be broadcast live on KOPT-AM 1600 and are cosponsored by EW.
Next week’s Radio Town Hall will be from 6 to 8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3 at Harris Hall, 125 8th Ave. The topic will be West Broadway redevelopment and Measure 20-134 with panelists Mayor Kitty Piercy, Councilor Bonny Bettman and others. The moderator will be Brian Shaw of Town Hall Media.
Following next week’s event, Shaw is organizing an election series during October, covering issues on the ballot in November, plus a “unique event focused on the problem of poverty in our community and across the country.” Future forums will run from 6 to 8 pm, also at Harris Hall.
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the topic will be the Eugene fuel tax. Wednesday, Oct. 17, is Measure 49. Tuesday, Oct. 23, is Measure 50. Tuesday, Oct. 30, is “A Better World.”
Shaw can be reached at email@example.com
FROM THEORY TO REALITY
Escape From Suburbia film director Greg Greene will be in town for a screening of his film and panel discussion at 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Central Presbyterian Church, 555 E. 15th Ave. in Eugene. Doors open at 7 pm for the 7:30 pm film; a sliding scale donation of $5-$20 will be asked at the door.
In addition to Greene, the panel is expected to include Jude Hobbs of Agro-Ecology Northwest, Ravi Logan of the Dharmalaya Center, Felicity Fahy of the city of Eugene and Randy White of the Portland Mayor’s Peak Oil Task Force.
Green is also director of The End of Suburbia, a film that outlined the concept of peak oil. “Now, in Escape from Suburbia, theory gives way to reality as a global debate rages over when demand will outpace supply, an emerging movement of citizens’ groups confront our addiction to oil, and three disparate characters and a small California town take on the most dramatic shift in modern history,” reads a statement from the organizers.
For more information or to volunteer for this event, email firstname.lastname@example.org
COHOUSING TO BEGIN BUILDING
A long-awaited cohousing project at 11th and Lincoln in downtown Eugene will have its official groundbreaking at noon Thursday, Sept. 27. The public is invited to join city officials and a gathering of people involved in the project for the ceremonies. Mayor Kitty Piercy has been invited to attend.
“We have come together to create and maintain a participatory, environmentally sustainable, urban community that nurtures diversity in social relationships and serves as a catalyst for positive change in the world around us,” reads the vision statement for the group.
Eugene attorney Martin Henner is the driving force behind the project and says he will finally be able to talk about the cost of the units, financing and unit availability at the groundbreaking. Financial questions have been up in the air, he says, due to previously unresolved questions about design, construction costs and financing.
Henner expects the price of the units to be significantly lower than The Tate condominiums downtown and expects unit owners to qualify for a 10-year property break under the rules of Eugene’s Multiple Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) district.
The three-story complex will be a mix of 24 residential units on the upper units and commercial spaces on the ground floor. Floor plans and other information can be found at eugenecohousing.com
ADOPTABLE ANIMAL UPDATE
Things are looking up for Lane County’s cats, dogs and other furry creatures. The commissioner-appointed Save Adoptable Animals Task Force released its 40-page document of recommendations last week with suggestions for Lane County Animal Regulation (LCARA) ranging from changing its name to losing its police-oriented image. The task force came out of efforts centering around the work of the No Kill Community Coalition and other local animal lovers.
According to the report, Eugeneans have mistakenly identified LCARA with the Sheriff’s Department thanks to the uniforms and law enforcement-esque vehicles. The bulletproof vests LCARA officers have been known to sport don’t help that image either.
The report suggests animal control fashion change from “khaki and olive uniforms with gold badges” to “more pleasant colored apparel” that is “less intimidating.”
The lengthy list of recommendations also includes implementing a written euthanasia policy and a euthanasia review panel, relaxing limits on the number of pets area residents may have and promoting use of volunteers as well as adoption and foster programs.
Already in the works for LCARA, soon to be known as LCAS (Lane County Animal Services), are changes such as bringing on a volunteer coordinator, expanding hours of operations to allow customers who work better access to the animals and installing an electronic credit card processor.
LCARA has already begun to improve its record. It recently marked the one-year anniversary of its volunteer run PetSmart offsite adoption program, which has found homes for 134 cats so far.
For a complete copy of the Save Adoptable Animals report go to: www.co.lane.or.us — Camilla Mortensen
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began onMarch 20, 2003(last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 3,798 U.S. troops killed*(3,781)
• 27,767 U.S. troops injured*(27,767)
• 122 U.S. military suicides*(122)
• 1,297 Coalition troops killed**(1,297)
• 917 contractors killed(updates NA)
• 80,116 Iraqi civilians killed*** (79,187)
• $454.3 billion cost of war($452.3 billion)
• $129.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers($128.6 million)
* through Sept. 24, 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
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Hamm and Fox Hollow Roads: Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will ground spray 70 acres with Garlon 4 herbicide for Giustina Timber Co. (345-2301) starting Oct. 1 (#51040).
• Oregon Department of Forestry notifications filed from January through August 2007 indicate that 76,884 acres in Lane County were sprayed with herbicides. Douglas County, 116,509 acres; Lincoln, 23,218; Linn, 174,522; Benton, 17,254; and Oregon statewide, 655,572 acres.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
An over-enthusiastic spellchecker led to the band Busket being improperly referred to as “Bucket” in Brett Campbell’s 9/13 music column. We’ll keep our eyes out for that unfortunate switcheroo in the future.
• Hiccup. The City Council just legalized drunken driving for Duck games. Actually, they only legalized drinking in parking lots, but duh, how do people in parking lots get home? The EPD claims public drinking should be legalized for football games because they don’t have enough cops to enforce the law on everybody. The same argument can be made for pot smoking or speeding. We suspect the major police motivation for winking at the Duck drunks is the bags of overtime money the UO pays the cops for policing the games. Sounds like an old-fashion protection racket. Hey, when’s the next UO beer riot?
• Congrats to both President Frohnmayer and Dean Margie Paris now that she has agreed to serve a full five-year term as head of the UO School of Law. After a botched selection process several years ago, this choice is a winner. The first woman law school dean at Oregon, she has both respect and affection from the faculty, and the students love her. Harvard Law School also is headed by its first woman dean. We wish them both well.
• We watched Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, fire away at President Ahmadinejad of Iran earlier this week and couldn’t help but wonder if at that minute Bollinger would have preferred to be back in the wind-swept Eastern Oregon landscape where he grew up. He’s a graduate of the UO who went on to be dean of the University of Michigan Law School, then president of UM, then on to Columbia in New York. Probably Oregon was a long way from his mind. He seems to thrive on mixing it up in big arenas.
• Attention has been focused on West Broadway redevelopment in recent years while a smaller but significant project nearby has been simmering quietly since 2002. Groundbreaking this week is planned for Eugene Downtown Cohousing (see our News Brief this week). Congrats to developer Martin Henner, architect Jonathan Stafford, contractor Gale M. Roberts, city planners, consultants and all the folks who are committed to buying the units. The future owners have been meeting for years to create by consensus a cooperative community based on core values of creative, sustainable living.
A markedly different kind of housing project is being planned down the street on 11th between Jackson and Van Buren. True North Investments, LLC is seeking to develop two lots in an R-2 zone with four two-story four-plexes. The Jefferson Westside Neighbors are fighting the development, saying the “plain boxes” with no open space would “degrade the character and livability of the neighborhood.” To be bulldozed or removed for the project would be a “classic 1935 duplex … that is a great example of harmonious multi-family development in our neighborhood.” Check out jweneugene.org for more information or to get involved.
• Republicans in Congress, along with President Bush, are on the defensive, but still managing to block the progressive agenda. In all the big issues, from ending the war to restoring habeas corpus, the Democrats have been shy enough Republican votes to overcome threatened vetoes, but that could change with the bill coming up next week to reinstate and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Bush and the far-right despise social programs, but SCHIP might be too popular to vote against with an election year looming.
Why might they vote no on SCHIP anyway? Longtime Bush backers in Congress are in a bind. If they go against their president now, they are in danger of losing future campaign funds from their conservative base and being viewed as disingenuous by moderates and progressives. Call it the Gordon Smith Syndrome. It leads to gridlock and might explain some of the public’s frustration with Congress.
• The staunchly conservative American Land Rights Association is calling for support of Larry Craig and a boycott of Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. It seems Sen. Craig’s expected resignation has the anti-environmental ALRA alarmed because Craig has “done the most of any senator to protect private property rights, grazing, mining, forestry and family recreation on federal lands over the past 15 years.” Tabloid headline? “Cowboys Squeal as Land Rapist Screwed in Potty Sex Sting.”
• How many U.S. contractors have been killed or wounded in Iraq? Depends on whom you ask. Even the Pentagon doesn’t track these hidden casualties of the occupation. Our weekly “War Dead” box documents the best efforts of the nonprofit groups that put these numbers together, but their sources can be unreliable or under pressure to underreport. The web link listing contractor deaths at icasualties.org has been shut down, so we were stuck with the number 417 for weeks on end. On May 18, the New York Times reported 917 contractors killed and another 12,000 wounded in action or injured on the job. We will use those numbers until better statistics are found. Regardless, each contractor death or debilitating injury has an impact as significant as a military casualty and an equal or even greater financial burden on taxpayers for generations to come.
Meanwhile, contractors in Iraq are adding to our nation’s foreign policy crisis in a big way. See blogs.eugeneweekly.com for our rants on the Blackwater fiasco and the war profiteering of contractors in general.
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