News Briefs: Forest Rally Targets Pesticide Spraying | Petition to Expand Medical Marijuana | Protester to Sue Eugene Police | Third Dog Dies After Visiting Elk Creak | Victory Bash for OTA | Cartoonist is ‘Science Idol’ | Summertime with Soul | Awards for Peacebuilders | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Early Deadline for Next Week |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Top Cop Tarnished
Victim alleged Kerns ignored cop rape complaint
Happening People: Dan Armstrong
FOREST RALLY TARGETS PESTICIDE SPRAYING
Hundreds of Lane County residents, many with tanned and sunburned faces, streamed on foot from downtown and Saturday Market to the old Eugene Federal Building Saturday, Aug. 29, to join the Pitchfork Rebellion in music, mock trials, skits and testimony against herbicide and pesticide spraying organizations. A grim reaper effigy of the Monsanto Company with a dollar sign on its forehead and an evil toothy grin greeted those walking up the stairs.
|Day Owen presides over the mock trials|
Day Owen, co-founder of the Pitchfork Rebellion, presided over the mock trials as the “Jester of the Peace,” complete with jester hat. Shouts in support of the activist group accompanied the skits and testimony against the Pesticide Division of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Forestry for their use of helicopters to spray toxic chemicals near homes and water resources. Audience members booed the actor representing the Monsanto Company (bedecked in a suit and carrying a devil’s mask on a pitchfork), a developer and retailer of pesticides and herbicides like Yieldgard and Roundup. Monsanto also sells crop seeds to farmers, seeds that Owen says are ruining farm diversity in the U.S.
But despite agitated reactions from attendees, several people at the event commented on the pervasive laid-back mood. This event was far different from the last Pitchfork Rebellion rally where Ian Van Ornum was Tasered in May of 2008. Police officers were mostly seen behind the glass doors of the courthouse, occasionally wandering by to check in on the event’s progress. Owen and other speakers (including I-chèle of I-chèle and the Circle of Light, lead singer for the event’s reggae band) repeatedly expressed their desire for a “nonviolent, peaceful revolution” which elicited hoots and hollers from the crowd. But later, taking off the jester hat and putting on a camouflage bandanna, Owen said, “We are willing to perform nonviolent civil disobedience and go to jail for it.” That didn’t prove necessary on Saturday.
Neila Crocker-Owen, Owen’s wife, got behind the microphone and described her experience of being exposed to pesticides blowing near their home. She said that telling the story and reliving it was hard. But she added that she was happy with the turnout for the event and that she believes the changes Pitchfork Rebellion wants are the “wave of the future.”
Day Owen estimates about 350 people came to the event over the course of the day, making it the largest attendance at a forest rally in Eugene since the mid-1990s. — Shaun O’Dell
PETITION TO EXPAND MEDICAL MARIJUANA
A petition has been sent to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) seeking to expand the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) to include psychiatric and emotional conditions in addition to physical conditions. A DHS advisory panel has held three meetings to study the proposal, and the last meeting was Aug. 24, according to Ed Glick, RN, who submitted the petition.
Glick’s petition notes that a similar request was turned down in 2000. “Physician recommendations were split but leaned against including any psychiatric conditions,” he wrote, but “nursing and patient recommendations tended to support inclusion of some conditions.” Following the last meeting, Glick said a decision will be made by the director of DHS or a state health officer. Not everyone on the panel was sympathetic, he said. “My best bet is that PTSD will be included on the list.”
Glick said the Compassion Center conducted a survey of the patients it refers to doctors, and found that 110 patients (63 percent of those surveyed) reported that marijuana “relieved unwanted psychiatric symptoms. Increased sleep and mood stabilizing effects were the most prominent patient reports.”
Glick said the data “contributes to the medical literature attributing medical and psychiatric benefits to herbal cannabis.” — Ted Taylor
PROTESTER TO SUE EUGENE POLICE
An anti-logging protester has filed an intent to sue the city, alleging police falsely arrested, jailed and injured him and violated his free speech rights.
According to a press release, Josh Schlossberg and his attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil liberties Defense Center, filed a tort claim notice Aug. 7 regarding the March 13 incident.
The press release says Schlossberg was legally distributing brochures from a public sidewalk in front of Umpqua Bank in downtown Eugene. Schlossberg was informing bank customers of the “irresponsible logging and harmful pesticide practices” of Umpqua’s chairman of the board, Allyn Ford.
The press release alleges that EPD officer Bill Solesbee unlawfully ordered Schlossberg to leave the sidewalk and give him his video camera. When he refused, the press release alleges, “Solesbee charged Schlossberg, wrenched his arm behind his back, forced him to the ground where Schlossberg hit his head, and proceeded to place a knee on Schlossberg’s previously injured neck, while handcuffing and arresting him.”
The press release says Schlossberg filed a complaint with the police, but the chief dismissed it.
The police dropped charges against the protester for illegal video taping and resisting arrest, according to the press release. Schlossberg’s tape shows the officer knew he was being filmed and the resisting charge appeared based only on an allegation that Schlossberg “tensed” during his arrest, according to the statement.
“The EPD have shown a blatant disregard for the constitutionally granted, First Amendment rights of Eugene citizens, and little has been done by the city of Eugene to discourage this disturbing criminal behavior,” Schlossberg said.
The case is one of several recent incidents in which protesters have alleged that police violated their free speech rights. Ian Van Ornum alleged Solesbee and other officers used excessive force at an anti-pesticide protest last spring. Video showed police Tasered Van Ornum twice in the back as he lay face down on the sidewalk with one or both arms behind his back.
In another recent incident, an officer arrested a man for leafleting outside a church. The unlawful charges were later dropped and the officer reprimanded.
“By utilizing a militarized presence, heavy-handed tactics, Tasers, and unjustifiable arrests against nonviolent citizens, law enforcement is attempting to scare people into silence and apathy,” Regan states. “This case will determine whether the citizens of Eugene still have the constitutional right to lawfully convey thoughts and ideas to their fellow citizens in public forums — a quintessential principle of our democracy.” —Alan Pittman
THIRD DOG DIES AFTER VISITING ELK CREEK
Another dog died after visiting Elk Creek this past weekend, bringing the confirmed toll to three after a pair of dogs perished Aug. 21 just minutes after visiting the popular Douglas County fishing site.
To date, the exact cause of the canine fatalities remains unknown, though Sgt. Dean Perske of the Oregon Police Fish & Wildlife Division said Tuesday that other aquatic life appears to be unaffected. “We’re assuming it’s not the water,” Perske said, adding that until test results come back — perhaps at the end of the week — officials can only guess at the cause of the dog deaths.
Perske did allow that a virulent strain of blue-green algae could be the cause, or water standing stagnant in pools. Either way, he’s cautioning everyone to keep clear of the Elk Creek area until further notice. “Just to be on the safe side,” Perske added. “Nobody knows for sure what it is.”
Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense was a bit less sanguine about the situation. “There’s a body count beginning to develop,” Fahy said Monday, adding that bureaucratic stalling on some official fronts may be exacerbating the situation. “It’s my experience that you have to push these officials to do their job, which is unfortunate,” he said.
Fahy agrees with Perske that at this point it’s best for everyone — dogs and human beings alike — to steer clear of the area. “It’s just too early to guess what the poison is,” he said, though he does have some suspicions. “My gut feeling on this is it’s intentional, that somebody is putting baits out to kill something.” — Rick Levin
VICTORY BASH FOR OTA
The Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA) is holding a victory bash at Mount Pisgah Arboretum from 6 to 8:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 10. The celebrates OTA’s environmental successes, such as the “No Top Off” rule change implemented by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality; raising awareness of aerial spraying for gypsy moths in south Eugene; and being the primary sponsor of SB 637, which is intended to make integrated pest management standard practice for schools in Oregon.
Integrated pest management is a system of pest suppression and prevention that meets more environmentally sound goals. This system will be implemented at Oregon schools from kindergarten through college.
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy; Shawn Donnille, owner of Mountain Rose Herbs and sponsor for the event; and Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy are on the event line-up, and APROPOS Musique will perform acoustic folk rock.
Lisa Arkin, executive director for the OTA, said a silent auction will include a weekend at Breitenbush, a weekend at Inn of the Seventh Mountain and a new electric scooter. Ninkasi Brewing will be providing beverages and the suggested donation is $5-$10.
But besides fundraising, this evening is meant to celebrate past and future accomplishments for the OTA. Arkin says the OTA differs from other groups. “I think we’re the only group in Oregon doing both pure environmental protection work and also combining it with this human rights perspective. We see with this lens that environmental pollution is also a violation of basic human rights.”
Arkin says she is also proud of how much the OTA has accomplished this year with at least three big wins. “That’s a pretty wonderful track record for a small, but feisty, environmental nonprofit,” she said. — Shaun O’Dell
CARTOONIST IS ‘SCIENCE IDOL’
Longtime Eugene cartoonist and illustrator Jesse Springer has won the 2009 “Science Idol: the Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest.” The competition by the Union of Concerned Scientists draws attention to the work that must be done for the Obama administration to fulfill its pledge to “restore science to its rightful place.”
Springer’s work has been published extensively in the Eugene Weekly and The Register-Guard over the past decade-plus. Springer’s winning cartoon depicts a politician who has removed the letters “s-c-i-e-n-c-e” from the words “Endangered Species Act.”
“There’s a lot of room for oversight,” Springer says. “This is a really tricky time for those who hoped that Obama’s election was going to be a start of something new. We need to point out the commitments that President Obama has made and hold his administration accountable to them.”
Springer also won the contest in 2007. His cartoon, along with the other 11 finalists, will be featured in the UCS 2010 scientific integrity calendar, available for purchase at www.ucsusa.org/scienceidol
SUMMERTIME WITH SOUL
If you cap off summer with the music of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal at the Cuthbert on Labor Day, you’ll support a few Oregon environmental causes while you’re at it. The two legendary blues musicians unite as part of a 30-stop tour that raises money for various charity organizations.
For every ticket purchased, a dollar goes to three beneficiaries: the state eco organizations Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and The Siskiyou Project. Profits from the premier seating (the first 11 rows) and meet-and-greet tickets will benefit the charities.
“It’s a pretty unique opportunity to generate funds for grassroots special change operations,” says Josh Laughlin, the conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands.
The money collected will go to environmental projects such as expanding the federal “wild and scenic” designation for 143 tributary strains to the lower Rogue River in southern Oregon. The groups also plan to use the money in protecting the Devil’s Staircase wilderness area in the Coast Range.
“We are hoping that these Oregon treasures become permanently protected by the end of this year,” Laughlin says.
Cascadia Wildlands will also host a benefit for the Devil’s Staircase at Pizza Research Institute Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Public charity event coordinator The Guacamole Fund organized the fundraising. This is Raitt and Mahal’s first time touring together, although they have been friends for more than 40 years and have collaborated before (see more in our Music section).
Participants can vote for favorite charity causes on the “BonTaj Roulet Tour” website at www.bontaj.com — Sachie Yorck
AWARDS FOR PEACEBUILDERS
Community Mediation Services, based in Eugene since 1982, is accepting nominations for its first annual PeaceBuilder Awards. The organization provides mediation services and also partners with Lane County Department of Youth Services in its Restorative Justice Program.
These awards will go to two individuals (a community member and high school student) and to an organization for “an outstanding contribution towards building a culture of peace in Lane County.” The awards will be presented at the Peace by Piece Gala Celebration on Oct. 15. Deadline for submissions is Sept. 11 for community members and organizations. Deadline is Sept. 18 for the youth category. Print out a nomination form at www.communitymediationservices.com
• An Eat Here Now potluck is planned from 4 to 6:30 pm Monday, Sept. 7, at Fairfield Elementary School Garden, 3455 Royal Ave. in Eugene. Bring a potluck dish to share with as many local ingredients as possible and is at least enough for your party. Learn about efforts to increase funding for school lunches, and hear from local groups including: Slow Food Eugene, School Garden Project, Farm to School and Tree by Tree. For more information contact Helios Resource Network at 225-8807.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,336 U.S. troops killed* (4,334)
• 31,483 U.S. troops injured* (31,469)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 101,388 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (101,388)
• $678.5 billion cost of war ($676.5 billion)
• $192.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($192.4 million)
• 809 U.S. troops killed* (798)
• 3,722 U.S. troops injured* (3,614)
• $225.7 billion cost of war ($225.1 million)
• $64.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($64.0 million)
* through August 24, 2009; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Western Helicopter aerially sprayed herbicides near Doak Creek for Giustina Aug. 26 (#50459).
• Weyerhaeuser aerially sprayed herbicides near Low Pass and Horton on Aug. 27, and near Triangle Lake (Fish Creek) Aug. 28 (#50427).
• Weyerhaeuser conducted ground spraying of herbicides near Horton (Congdon) on Aug. 21 (#50429).
• Giustina has filed a change from aerial to ground spray. Oregon Forest Management Services (896-3757) will spray for Giustina (345-2310). Changes for old Notification #40459 are for unit 2 and unit 3 starting Sept. 4 (New #50482).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
EARLY DEADLINE FOR NEXT WEEK
EW offices will be closed Monday, Labor Day, and the early deadline for reserving display advertising space for our Sept. 10 issue will be 5 pm Thursday, Sept. 3. Questions? Call 484-0519.
• We write with sadness of the death of Leslie Brockelbank Monday evening, Aug. 3l, in Eugene. Founder of McKenzie River Gathering in 1976 with her husband, Charles Gray, she lived her 85 years as an example of great generosity and advocacy for progressive principles and people. As Marjory Hamann, director of MRG, said, “For now, we just ask that you take a moment to honor Leslie and imagine how we can carry her vision of a just world forward together.”
• This weekend is the Eugene Celebration and we encourage everyone to come on downtown and join the party, starting Friday evening. Saturday morning, of course, is the Eugene Celebration Parade, a quirky procession unlike any other on this planet, or perhaps on any planet. The Celebration is one of those rare times when we come together as a community to have fun, support local businesses and learn about nonprofits and political/environmental causes at one of the many booths. It costs to gain access to the stages at the center of the Celebration, but even if you’re broke there are plenty of arts, entertainment and booths to explore outside the gates.
• Eugene’s city manager and new police chief would like residents to forget the most serious scandal in Eugene police history — failing to stop officer Roger Magaña’s rape spree despite six years of complaints. If the city had conducted an independent, full and public investigation of the failings of fellow officers, moving on might be possible. But that never happened. Instead the department drew behind a solid blue wall. That wall protects officers from discipline, but it also tarnishes and implicates all officers in the misdeeds of a few. It’s hard to move forward when you’re hiding behind a wall.
• EWEB Commissioner Joann Ernst is suffering through the stress and embarrassment of having her personal and family life publicized following what appears to be an unnecessarily brutal police raid of her home Aug. 11 in search of hard drugs and weapons. Ernst was charged with marijuana growing and possession but has not been convicted of any crime. So why is fellow Commissioner Rich Cunningham calling for her to resign? We’ve seen no indication that her service on the EWEB commission is anything but conscientious, energetic and effective. It’s time for Cunningham to take a deep breath and find something more substantive to worry about. Getting phone calls from easily offended Puritans does not justify pressuring a knowledgeable and dedicated public servant to step down.
• Paid petition gatherers are still out in force trying to collect 55,000 valid signatures to take the Legislature’s new tax hikes to the voters in January. By now the clipboarders, mostly hungry Republicans it seems, are accustomed to being lectured at by irritated progressives who actually understand our unfair tax system. The petition gatherers shrug and go on. So what can we do besides not sign the petitions?
First let’s understand the basics: 1) Two-thirds of the corporations in Oregon (large and small) paid $10 last year in income taxes while the average Oregon family of four paid $3,100. 2) After tax fairness measures go into effect, Oregon’s corporate tax rate will go from 3.7 to 3.8 percent of the gross state product, well below the national average. 3) The corporate tax increase of 1.3 percent will only apply to profits above $250,000; and small businesses with gross sales below $500,000 will only pay $150 a year in income taxes. 4) About 97.5 percent of Oregonians will see no increase in their taxes. 5) Without these tax measures, Oregon will lose about $200 million in matching federal funds for human services. 6) The claim that jobs will be lost is based on unfounded speculation. Conservatives also claimed that raising the minimum wage would lead to huge layoffs in the restaurant industry, but jobs actually increased.
Finally, you can sign the “Defend Oregon Pledge” at www.DefendOregon.org This pledge will help identify who’s still undecided on this issue when it likely comes to a vote. You can avoid those pesky phone calls at election time.
Following an “ordinary suburbanite” childhood in Falls Church, Va., Dan Armstrong went for a degree in aerospace engineering at Princeton and also joined an emerging environmental movement. “I attended the first Earth Day in ’71,” he says. “I wrote my junior paper on climate change.” Deciding that he wouldn’t work for a weapons maker, he instead “became a hippie” and came to Eugene in 1973 for grad school in journalism. When his thesis proposal was rejected, he dropped out to pursue fiction writing. “I’ve written short stories, novels and environmental articles,” he says. “I supported myself as a house painter for 30 years.” After 13 years away in Portland and six in Astoria, Armstrong returned to Eugene in 1998. Since 2002, when arthritis put an end to house painting, he has written three novels and become an electronic publisher. “Prairie Fire has been my most successful book,” he says. “It’s about an American family farmer. I find the best way to inform people about the environment is through the lens of food.” Read some of Armstrong’s stories and essays and learn about local environmental efforts such as the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project on his website, www.mudcitypress.com