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Eugene marchers protest 'violent war on non-violent people.'
by Lisa Igoe
"What do we want? Drug peace!
When do we want it? NOW!" hollered activist Michael Anthony through a megaphone labeled "Liberty." Last Saturday, May 5, Anthony and more than 200 other Eugeneans participated in the Millennium Marijuana March to raise awareness about "the Drug War, the conspiracy behind marijuana and hemp illegality, and the prison industrial complex."
The MMM was an international event with thousands participating across the world. In Eugene, speakers severely criticized U.S. drug policy, violation of the medical marijuana initiative passed by voters, and the continuation of "a violent war on non-violent people".
"Marijuana is not illegal because it gets people high. It's illegal because a false image of violence has been sold to the public," says Davin Tryon, a UO journalism student.
"The industrial and medicinal forms of cannabis were lumped together in the early '30s," explains Bruce Mulligan, co-owner of Sow Much Hemp and director of the Hemp Institute for Research and Education. "They succeed in their attempt to criminalize its use so that industry and government could profit off of its illegality."
Cannabis was first labeled "marijuana" in the 1920s and '30s, simultaneously earning its reputation as an intoxicant. During this time, exaggerated accounts of violent crimes - allegedly committed by immigrants intoxicated by "marijuana" - became popularized by tabloid newspapers and the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
"It's a conspiracy that has to do with the logging and pharmaceutical companies," says Ben Champion, UO business student and MMM participant.
Historic records show that major contributors to the anti-marijuana campaign were, indeed, paper and cotton manufacturers, chemical companies, and the timber industry, with Dow Chemical and the Hearst newspaper empire leading the charge.
Marijuana was portrayed as the "devil's harvest" and the "weed with its roots in hell" in newspapers and theaters around the country. The first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, testified before the 1937 Congress that marijuana was "the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."
Congress approved the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 based on what seems to be entirely propaganda and misinformation.
"Industrial cannabis, or hemp, is one of nature's strongest and most versatile agricultural crops," says T, a local hemp advocate who participated in the march. "It can be used in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed, and fuel," she says.
According to the USDA, 10,000 acres planted in hemp will yield as much paper as 40,000 acres planted in trees, and fewer toxic chemicals are required to make paper from hemp than to make paper from trees.
In addition, hemp has an average growing cycle of only 100 days and leaves the soil virtually weed-free for the next planting. The nutritional value of hemp seed is second only to soy in protein and contains the highest concentration of essential amino and fatty acids found in any food.
"The issues surrounding cannabis illegality are extremely questionable and wreak of conspiracy," says John Egan, a participant in the march.
In the last 20 years, marijuana prohibition has escalated into a full scale drug war. In 1995, the most recent year for which the federal government has arrest statistics, almost 600,000 were charged with marijuana violations, which equates to one marijuana smoker arrested every 45 seconds.
"I think the reason that police and government continue the drug war is because it is the easiest way for them to make money," says Egan. "They seize property and destroy lives, all in the guise of reducing crime."
In May of this year, research findings by Kaiser Permanente concluded that no link existed between regular marijuana smoking and mortality. The study emphasized that marijuana prohibition posed the only significant health hazard to the user.
Two Oregon ballot initiatives are currently circulating that address the issue of marijuana prohibition. The first is a private consumption law that would allow adults to cultivate and consume cannabis in their own home. The other is a regulatory law that would allow marijuana to be sold in stores that are licensed by the state (much like liquor sales).
The medicinal use of marijuana was approved by Oregon voters in 1998. Application of the law has been tied up in federal court ever since, while many patients go without their medicine.
"Cannabis should be legalized as an industrial crop and medicine," says Champion. "It's asinine that it is illegal and those who use the law to persecute non-violent citizens are the true criminals."
The right talks 'train wreck' as progressives threaten to derail power brokers.
By Alan Pittman
The Register-Guard and Mayor Jim Torrey have lashed out in a last-ditch attempt to maintain the grip of conservative interests on city government.
In a front page news "analysis" May 9, the R-G declared that a threatened progressive majority on the City Council would create "rancor and dissent" on the elected body and quoted Torrey in a headline, "this is going to be a train wreck."
Torrey and the R-G charged that if Betty Taylor and Bonny Bettman win seats on the council, "extended divisiveness and frequent infighting" will make it, as Torrey says, "'practically impossible for any meaningful discussion around issues that are important to the city of Eugene.'"
Torrey charges that a five-seat progressive majority would represent a "vocal minority" in the community and "oppose all new business and growth." Torrey, who did not return EW's calls requesting comment, threatened to use vetoes to block council progressives.
"I was appalled by the mayor's remarks," says David Kelly, a council moderate who Torrey and the R-G attacked as a member of a supposed "progressive block" on the council. "It's insulting, there's no other word for it."
Ironically, Kelly says Torrey is attacking rancor while creating it himself. "He talks about compromise and then creates this conflict."
Kelly says he and the other councilors have an established record of working without rancor and don't always vote together in a block on issues. "He's ignoring the current reality."
Kelly says its "utterly wrong" to accuse himself and other progressives of being against "all new business and growth." Kelly points out he volunteers for the Lane Venture Forum, working to connect local entrepreneurs with local venture capitalists.
The mayor says he wants councilors to compromise with him but what he really wants is a "litmus test" to screen out councilors who don't support his politics, Kelly says. "It's as if 'compromise' means they always agree with him," Kelly says.
Bettman says the mayor's "outburst" left her "flabbergasted." It's "surreal" that the mayor is already threatening to veto imagined future council votes, says Bettman. "We haven't even gotten elected yet."
Bettman says if she's elected it will be because a majority of citizens in her ward share her concerns about the city's livability and environment. If she gets the thousands of votes from average citizens she needs to win, Bettman says she'll serve those constituents.
Bettman says that by doing so, she won't represent a "vocal minority" and create "rancor" on the council, as Torrey and the R-G charge. "I just don't understand what the argument is," Bettman says. "This is democracy."
Taylor says if she and Bettman win their races, "it will be a big change. It will enable the voice of the people to be heard instead of private interests." Taylor agrees the only rancor on a council with a progressive majority will come from the conservative mayor himself when he gets voted down.
In calling for a council without divisiveness, "I think what the mayor wants is everybody to be alike and be like him," Taylor says. She adds that it's ironic that the mayor is charging people with representing minority interests while threatening to veto majority votes on the council.
Torrey's staunchly pro-development views may be the real vocal minority in Eugene, according to Greg McLauchlan, a board member of Friends of Eugene (FoE). McLauchlan points out that city surveys have repeatedly shown that most citizens strongly favor controls on development to protect livability and the environment.
McLauchlan says the mayor's "heavy handed" attack against what he calls a "vocal minority" remind him of Richard Nixon's claims during the Vietnam War that he represented the "great silent majority."
This isn't the first time that conservatives and the R-G have used the "rancor" argument to bludgeon political opponents on the City Council. Six years ago, the paper's coverage of progressive councilors was dominated by charges of "bickering" and comparisons of elected officials to kindergartners.
Former Councilor Paul Nicholson says the R-G then and now is raising a "completely false issue" to attack "public-interest minded" councilors and distract voters from the real political power struggle going on in Eugene. "As long as we have powerful economic interests trying to thwart the interests of the public, we should be willing to see a little discord on the council," Nicholson says.
Former Councilor Barbara Keller says its much more "healthy" for a community to have debate take place at the council table than to sweep disagreements under the rug and have them boil over in violent events like the June 1, 1997 tree protest.
McLauchlan agrees that the rancor argument "is an effort to get us away from the real issues in the campaign." Voters in this election will choose between livability and environmental protection versus pro-development and business-subsidy policies, according to McLauchlan. He points out the pro-development Home Builders Association has backed bar owner Tracy Olsen and gas station industry lobbyist Mike Sherlock for the council seats, a fact that has gone unreported in the R-G.
Depicting progressive candidates as a "divisive force" is a desperate fear tactic conservatives are using "to personally malign two of the best candidates we've seen in recent elections," McLauchlan says.
FOE President Rob Zako says the R-G's news story is biased in portraying progressives as somehow more rancorous than conservatives. "It could be just as rancorous to have all those conservatives [elected] that don't agree with protecting the environment and livability," he says.
"This was an attempt to write an editorial and have it be news," Nicholson says. Voters shouldn't fall for the mayor's "ridiculous" and "childish" threat that "if I'm not in the [council] majority, then we have a train wreck," he says. "I hope Eugeneans aren't that stupid."
Visit www.eugeneweekly.com for late-breaking election news, and send in those ballots!
Chanrithy Him tells a remarkable, heart-wrenching story in her first book, When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge (W.W. Norton, 2000), but questions of authorship are overshadowing literary praise in local circles. The Eugene author faced a mixed crowd of skeptics and fans at her first local public reading at Barnes & Noble May 5.
Another local author, Register-Guard feature writer Kimber Williams, claims she was a major contributor to the manuscript, but was not given credit. Why? "Chanrithy told me if she had a co-author no one would take her seriously as a writer," says Williams. "She heard that at a writers' conference."
Williams wrote an R-G feature story in 1994 about Him's childhood in war-ravaged Cambodia and her escape to the U.S. Williams says she encouraged Him to write a book about her life, but Him's original manuscript was rejected by several publishers.
Him asked Williams for help, and Williams says she spent three nights a week for 10 months in 1998, retelling the story "from scratch."
"I would sit at the keyboard and interview her, asking questions," says Williams. "It was obviously a collaborative process."
Williams says she and Him "completed 12 of the book's 20 chapters, and the rest of the story was outlined," but her relationship with Him broke down over issues of co-authorship. Williams says she didn't think she needed a contract, since no money was involved. "She just turned her back on me," says Williams.
At the Barnes & Noble reading, Him responded to pointed questions from audience members, several wearing "Tell the Truth" signs. Him denied that Williams was any significant help on the manuscript, saying, "She came to help me briefly as an editor on a portion of my manuscript."
Him denied that Williams typed any of the manuscript, and denied having any co-author - only copy editors during seven drafts.
When asked if publishers who rejected her work ever suggested she find a co-author, she said, "When you go through literary agents, you get different and very subjective opinions."
Several people in the audience, including UO instructors and professional writers, voiced their support for Him and praised her intelligence, memory and academic abilities. Other local writers and editors asked questions about her writing process and how the book had changed so dramatically from the first draft.
Him's attorney, Michael Ratoza of Portland, was on the scene and sometimes took over, answering questions from the audience regarding the disputed authorship.
"There is no legal battle," said Ratoza. "Nobody has sued anybody, but I did meet with Kimber Williams ... she is making a claim for a significant percentage of the royalties of this book."
"I have not filed any formal claim for royalties," says Williams, "He's referring to a conversation he had with my attorney." Williams says the publishing house was notified of her involvement in August 1999, long before the book was printed, but chose to dismiss her concerns.
Williams says what she wants at this point is "a dialogue with Chanrithy" on issues of ethics and literary justice. "I never wanted to see the book killed. She owns her life story. But it got me wondering, what is the impact of war on children who are raised in it? They learn to do what it takes to survive. The experience of living under the Khmer Rouge was a corruption of the spirit."
Several local bookstores have learned of the dispute and have canceled public readings. At Barnes & Noble, the book has been chosen for national promotion through its "Discover Great New Writers" program. - TJT
Gunning for D.C.
Several Eugene women are flying off to Washington, D.C., this week to join the Million Mom March on Mothers Day, demonstrating for "common sense gun control" to protect children from accidental and intentional gun violence.
Meanwhile, a group of women with a very different agenda are also heading for the Capitol to also march on Mothers Day. The Second Amendment Sisters, Inc. (SASI) is organizing an Armed Informed Mothers March. SASI calls itself a "grassroots self-defense and safety-education advocacy group" and is based in Dallas, Texas. Its founders are five women in five states who "were tired of the stereotypical portrayals of gun owners and the erosion of personal freedoms."
The group's web site is www.SAS-AIM.org
A new report documents pesticide poisoning incidents in and around our public schools. "Unthinkable Risk" was recently released by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Eugene. The report documents nearly 100 actual incidents, and cites additional reviews showing that literally thousands of children and school staff have been sickened by pesticide exposures at schools around the country.
"This report should be a call to action to parents, school administrators, and policy makers everywhere as school districts are beginning their spring spray schedules," says report author Becky Riley. "Our society has acted to get other environmental hazards, such as lead, asbestos, and cigarette smoke out of our nation's schools, but children are still being widely exposed to, and harmed by, toxic pesticides in classrooms and on school grounds."
Among the key findings of the report:
* Thousands of people have reported illness related to pesticide exposures at school. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, respiratory distress, nausea, sore throats, and rashes and skin irritation. School pesticide exposures have also been linked to serious and life-threatening conditions including a near-fatal acute poisoning, anaphylactic reactions, asthma attacks, and abnormal heart rhythms.
* Pesticides can be surprisingly persistent, both indoors and out. Pesticide and solvent vapors can persist in indoor air for weeks or even years. Pesticide residues can contaminate indoor surfaces, and can remain in carpets and dust for months or years. Pesticides can also persist outdoors in soil for weeks or years. Pesticides in some weed-killers commonly used at schools can last from one to five years in the soil.
* Children can be exposed to (and made ill from) lingering vapors or residues of pesticides used at school even if the chemicals were applied hours, days, or even weeks earlier.
* Children can be exposed to pesticides by breathing vapors or dusts, absorbing residues through their skin, or ingesting residues by hand-to-mouth contact.
* Children and school staff have been made ill from pesticides even when they were applied legally and according to label directions.
"Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic exposures," says Eric Dover, MD and president-elect of Physicians for Social Responsibility of Oregon. "They cannot detoxify or excrete certain toxic chemicals as well as adults can. That is one reason why physicians prescribe lower doses of medications for children," Dover noted. "Many commonly used pesticides are nerve poisons," Dover continued. "Scientists now believe that exposure to nerve poisons at certain critical stages in development can permanently affect brain function," he added. He also pointed to recent studies that have found links between home and garden pesticide use and elevated rates of several common childhood cancers. "It just doesn't make sense to use these toxic chemicals at school, exposing children and taking these chances with their health," Dover says.
More information is available at www.pesticide.org/UnthinkableRiskRel.html
In 1992, carpenter and activist John "Mac" McFadden interviewed homeless people camped near Armitage Park for the local newsletter of the Jerry Brown presidential campaign (later known as the OTHER paper). "At that time I started doing what I do now," he notes. "I find a place for homeless people to live." McFadden joined the Homeless Action Coalition to lobby for less restrictive camping laws, but also volunteered his help directly. "People camped along the McKenzie called me 'Firewood Mac,'" he says. "They'd say, 'You can call on Mac - he'll lend you a hand.'" McFadden himself has been homeless twice: first in Philadelphia at age 10, then again in Klamath Falls as a 27-year-old Vietnam vet. In August of 1998, after a new Eugene ordinance established a city homeless-camping program, St. Vincent de Paul won the contract and named McFadden as administrator. "I've responded to over 1,000 complaints - they say I'm friendlier and better-looking than the cops," he says. "I've called in the police maybe six times - the savings more than offsets the cost of the program." -Paul Neevel
Nominate A Happenin' Person
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Eugene's bad boys and girls are missing. Call out the bomb squads.
A number of revelations have cast a disturbing shadow over both the steelworkers' cancellation of the Kaiser Aluminum Plant demonstration in Tacoma in March and the hideous overreaction by the local cops to the canceled event.
For starters, Jon Youngdahl, the lead organizer of the steelworkers union, has apparently misled the media about the event's cancellation. He emphatically denied, to me and to other media figures that fear of disruption, specifically by Eugene anarchists, was a major reason for the cancellation. In the last week, I've talked to a half-dozen people who vouch Youngdahl has stated at meetings in Tacoma and Portland that this was exactly the reason - and that media (and the public) would be intentionally misled so as not to air "dirty laundry."
But it gets worse - much worse. Youngdahl's fear was apparently fueled by two meetings with the Tacoma police, who had been contacted by the Eugene Police Department with the alarming news that the EPD monitors the movements of its city's anarchists and that - gasp - they didn't know where some of them were.
Ergo, they must be getting ready to, with a well-placed homemade explosive, blow up the Port of Tacoma, as claimed in the Tacoma News-Tribune on April 5. As a result, all 350 Tacoma police officers, plus support from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department and other area agencies, turned out for a protest that was canceled, and spent their bored hours harassing the few union and enviro activists who showed up to offer picket-line support despite the cancellation.
Tacoma Police spokesperson Jim Mattheis declined to give further information on why the police were so alarmed over the anarchist threat, stating only that it was based on "intelligence." According to Mattheis, in the two meetings with the steelworkers, "I think that some of that information was shared with them, but I'm not positive." Bear in mind that the police and Youngdahl's fear alike are based on a group of activists that 1) threw rocks at a Eugene demonstration last June 18, and 2) used hammers and boots to smash windows in Seattle on Nov. 30. That's it. No record of the sort of terrorist threat being bandied about exists. Given that the Kaiser plant is in an abandoned industrial part of town, and that there's little access to the plant or windows to break, it's hard to imagine what damage consistent with their past record could be done. Or what the fuss was about.
Media was let into the feeding frenzy with a wholly fictitious Tacoma police report on March 25 that a "known anarchist from the Eugene area" had been arrested - no charge was specified - with two loaded rifles and a loaded shotgun in the back seat (Seattle P-I, 3/27). The occasion, as it turns out, was a traffic stop by the Washington State Patrol, one of many in the area. Protesters assert the stops were harassment of would-be demonstrators. It's not illegal to be an anarchist (how is someone a "known anarchist," anyway? Who is that? Noam Chomsky? Murray Bookchin? John Zerzan himself?) or to carry unconcealed weapons. No arrest was made. It was, according to a WSP spokesperson, "a nonincident."
The Tacoma News Tribune also reported a total of 21 arrests on Saturday and Sunday, all for traffic violations. But Tacoma police's Mattheis concedes the 21 arrests were not necessarily connected with picketing at the Kaiser plant. Could it have simply been a result of the heavy police presence in the area? All told, picketers themselves knew of only one arrest, a now-famous incident involving Zan the Rad Dyke Plumber.
We have, then, alarmist (and fictitious) stories planted in the media and used to help justify an overwhelming police presence, harassment of legal demonstrators, and hundreds of thousands of Tacoma tax dollars in overtime. That same alarmist agenda, banking on the public's fear of "violent anarchists," was used to encourage the steelworkers' union to cancel the demonstration. Mattheis says the police did not ask the steelworkers to cancel - but they didn't need to. Youngdahl's fear of an uncontrollable event was sufficient.
I've also heard from several people who did show up at Kaiser that the alliance destroyed by the steelworkers' cancellation was developed, stronger than ever, at the level of the outnumbered rank and file demonstrators who were pushed around by police.
So the dreams of labor-environmentalist alliances aren't dead. But no matter how much camaraderie was developed among the 50 or so activists harassed by cops in Tacoma's Tideflats on March 25, a serious problem remains. So long as weeks of organizing by labor and community activists can be undone by the simple suggestion that "undesirables" might attend, there will be no alliance between labor leaders and grassroots community groups. Those same "undesirables" can be used to plant fear of activism and unions in the public's perception. It hardly matters that the threat posed by the anarchists from Eugene is more myth than reality. Kaiser Aluminum's owner, the junk bond and S&L robber baron Charles Hurwitz, must be laughing his ass off.
Geov Parrish writes for Seattle Weekly, www.seattleweekly.com
Commercial interests use fear, confusion to protect their monopolies.
What is ballot measure 20-30 about? Should EWEB be allowed to offer telecommunications services in addition to electricity and water?
As you may have noticed, Eugene enjoys some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation because EWEB is a publicly owned utility. Instead of paying cash dividends to distant shareholders, EWEB' s "profits" are paid out as "dividends" to all Eugene residents in the form of lower rates.
EWEB' s founding was far before my time, but I do remember the tactics of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) used by commercial interests in the early '80s trying to thwart the creation of the EPUD (Emerald Public Utility District). At the time, there was a lot of noise about whether or not EPUD would really be able to do the job of distributing electricity cheaper than Pacific Power & Light (PP&L). Would EPUD be fast enough at repairing storm damage? Were there unanticipated costs that would drive electric rates higher than PP&L's due to dis-economies of scale? EPUD has been successully providing electricity to many Lane County residents at rates well below PP&L's since it went live in 1983. This was possible because voters cut through the FUD-tactics of the commercial power companies.
The Springfield Utility Board (SUB) is yet another example of the community benefits that are afforded by public ownership of utilities. (SUB's charter already permits telecom and Springfield is rapidly moving ahead with its own fiber program). The Linux operating system is yet another example of what can be achieved when commercial motiviations are set aside and public good is used as a compass.
Now, we are faced with a similar decision with telecommunications. We voters, as the "shareholders" of EWEB, are being asked if we should expand EWEB's scope of services to include fiber communications. Contrary to what the opposition would have us believe, professionals at EWEB have been studying the question for several years and have found the potential savings for Eugeneans are huge. EWEB is already saving money with the fiber cables it has set up to link all of its electric substations. With the fiber links, EWEB no longer has to pay the phone company for leased telephone lines to each facility.
No one knows yet how cheap end-user Internet access could become because that depends on third-party ISPs (such as Eugene Free Net, potentially) who will buy bandwidth from EWEB and re-sell complete service packages potentially including e-mail, web-hosting, and, of course, high speed access to the Internet. But prices should be quite low. How low? If the city of Tacoma can sell its customers cable TV service for $5.95 per month through its publicly owned network, then Internet access should be a comparable fraction of regular commercial rates.
EWEB already has rights-of-way all over town and is in a very advantageous position to deploy a state-of-the-art telecom network reaching every house and building in the city. Other possible providers with similar networks (although much slower) include the phone and cable companies. The cost of having to purchase rights-of-way to set up any competing network is prohibitive and creates an effective barrier to market entry for any other would-be competitors. EWEB only needs enough money to buy and install cables and routing equipment.
Unlike US West and AT&T, EWEB plans to make its network openly available to any provider that has digital services to sell - creating a truly level playing field for all current and future phone companies, cable companies and Internet service providers (ISPs). That means that, for example, EFN or any other ISP could lease some of the bandwidth of EWEB's network and offer Eugeneans very fast Internet access 24 hours a day. This is the basis for TRUE competition.
The opposition claims that more telecom choices are becoming available in Eugene every day. I can count the number of cable companies that serve my neighborhood on one finger (AT&T). I can count the number of telephone service providers in my neighborhood on one finger (US West). I can count the number of DSL providers in my neighborhood with no fingers at all. EWEB, as a public organization, has its hands tied in this election - it cannot spend ratepayers' money to fight against the fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread by the No on 20-30 Committee. AT&T has no such restrictions and has disclosed a $30,000 donation behind Cawood Communications' anti-20-30 campaign.
We've been waiting a long time for high-bandwidth Internet access in Eugene and we still don't have options that are affordable for most people or small businesses. It's time for us to build our own community-owned network and put Eugene on the leading edge of cyber-development. But EWEB needs your help. Vote "yes" on 20-30. Put the "e" in EWEB.
Marc Baber is a long-time advocate of both community networking and public utilities. He has served on the board of Oregon Public Networking (Eugene Free Net) and has worked as a customer information software consultant for EWEB.
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Choice of Brutality
I am shocked at the cavalier attitude of Eugene Weekly in its endorsement of someone who wants to stand for the anarchists and is politically correct against police brutality. But, isn't it time that we grew up? And isn't it time that our politics grew up to?
Doug Harcleroad has from the beginning of his political career as district attorney taken a stand against domestic violence. He has established the Victims Services Office as part of the DA's office. This office does much more than help victims of domestic violence fill out restraining orders. This office serves as liaison for victims of domestic violence, usually women and children, to all the other services available throughout the county. The DA's office has a special section just for domestic violence to make certain that the DV victims are protected and the full letter of the law is enforced. But the DA's office doesn't stop there. It actively participates in the crime victims compensation program which can pay for anything from medical bills, loss of work to extensive counseling for victims of a crime.
It is a shame to have to pick between the perceived occasional brutality against the politically correct and the real brutality perpetrated daily on the women and children of our community. But given the choice, my vote goes for the women and children of our community.
A Legitimate Need
I know that we cannot please everyone in this community when it comes to our response to civil disobedience, kids on the mall, university parties and any other hot issue which becomes contentious. In fact, most everything we do as police officers elicits commentary related to our actions. We do our best to provide the quality of service you demand and occasionally we place our lives in peril to fulfill our commitment to your public safety. It doesn't matter that we have never met. We do this because we care about the welfare or this community and because you have entrusted us with the privilege of safeguarding your freedoms.
We are asking for your help and commitment to the men and women who serve this community and who will continue to give their best regardless of the outcome of 20-31. There is a legitimate need to get police and fire out of City Hall for reasons related to space, seismic instability and customer service. This measure has been carefully developed and reviewed by independent community members who will confirm that this is an accurate cost estimate. For safety's sake, please vote "yes" on Measure 20-31.
Eugene Police Officer
Asking Alan Pittman to report (4/27) on an issue concerning the Eugene Police Department (Measure 20-31) reminded me of asking the fox to comment about the security features of a chicken coop. Could you have had a more objective assessment of the issue by another reporter?
Sure to be Better
I'm writing because people asked me to tell you why I support EWEB's request for authority to bring a publicly owned fiber-optic telecommunications network to Eugene.
As one who has been a part of the community for many years, it looks pretty obvious. With your public utility as a choice for cable, telephone, and internet, you're sure to get better service, and you're sure to get lower prices. And EWEB's cautiousness will ensure a solid, careful process: authority first, business plan next, voter approval, and then build out.
This will have big benefits for Eugeneans. With fast telecom to all, lots of interesting new possibilities become feasible. For example, schools and the university will have a partner to provide our children with a window to the world at a cost that they can afford, and think of all the new business opportunities.
In Portland, AT&T is fighting over whether it should have to allow other Internet providers access to its line. This is what we've come to expect from monopolies, no competition. That's probably enough right there to vote for EWEB.
So, why would anybody oppose a measure like this? Well, I'm told that if you look at the "no" committee, the campaign has a hired gun, spent five figures, and has no identified contributors. Humm...I wonder who that could be? Guess who?...AT&T.
So there you have it. The company that has the most to lose if EWEB goes ahead with telecom seems to be funding the fight to keep them out. Enough!
Permission to Plan?
Your endorsement of 20-30 EWEB Telecom is wrong. It is not about legal permission to plan. It is about being a telecom provider. I have worked with EWEB for five years and still there is not plan. There has been in excess of $7 million dollars spent on Phase I. There is 70 miles of 96 fibers minimum on a ring around Eugene. They are all dark despite EWEB efforts to get users signed up. Two years of trying and still counting. Keep in mind this is all without a plan. Why then do they need permission now? Where's the plan? Where's the customers on the first phase? I guess the voters will decide. What's a $100 million anyway?
I commend EW for urging "no" on Measure 79 (4/27 issue, p.7), an insidious effort by the Republican- and corporate-dominated state Legislature to clamp down on the people's democratic right to ballot initiatives. But the small space devoted indicates that EW may not be grasping its full implications.
79 is not just one more bad measure to urge a no vote on. It is a bald-faced attempt to fundamentally alter the structural balance of power between the people of Oregon and their state government. It does so by stripping away the ability of ordinary citizens to amend their Constitution and vesting this power in an elite group of wealthy individuals and corporations. Its 50 percent increase in required signatures will only be attainable by lavish spending on paid petitioners. The efforts of all progressive groups in Oregon who use the initiative process to circumvent the conservative blockade in Salem will be crippled if 79 passes.
Such groups are forced to use constitutional initiatives because the Legislature in Oregon (contrary to other states) can and does weaken language passed by the people through statutory (non-constitutional) initiatives.
The national implications of this setback to the democratic process have been picked up by Ralph Nader. Nader's impassioned statement against a "naked power grab" appears on p.18 in the Voters Pamphlet.
The people of Oregon were the first in the nation to practice direct democracy in 1902. The current generation must now rise again to protect this right that our predecessors fought so hard for!
Competition is Quiet
Tony Baker IIIs contention that covering the R-G's labor problems might "prejudice negotiations" almost makes sense; if nothing else, the principle is consistently self-serving. But what I cant figure out is why none of their "competition" - KVAL, KEZI, KMTR, KPNW, KUGN - have anything to report on the issue. My natural cynicism suggest that some kind of quid pro quo is involved - I can't believe that everyone at archcapitalist Carolyn Chambers outfit, for instance, is without complaint themselves-but I could be wrong.
Anybody got any ideas?
I am heartened by the prospect of Bonny Bettman being our next city councilor for Ward 3. The breadth of Bettman's civic experience is noteworthy. She's done everything from chairing her neighborhood association and Eugene's Citizen Involvement Committee to serving on close to 10 other city committees. What invaluable prerequisites to taking a seat on the City Council!
Bonny's priorities are strong neighborhoods, a sustainable economy, environmental protection, and downtown revitalization. But to get there, we need community support. I have always appreciated Bonny's efforts to increase citizen involvement in local government decisions. Her working knowledge of city issues would be a strong asset on the council. I concur with the four city councilors endorsing her candidacy. Please join me in voting for Bonny Bettman for Eugene City Council.
Protecting the Best
I have worked with Bonny Bettman on many efforts important to this community. I have always been impressed by Bonny's energy, integrity and commitment to making Eugene a better place. Working for strong neighborhoods and challenging sprawl, Bonny is determined to protect what is best about Eugene. She is well informed and will bring experience to Eugene's City Council.
As a member of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, I am pleased that this organization has endorsed Bonny. She is committed to protecting our natural environment, so our children can grow up in a great Eugene.
Big Money Bettman
I just received Bonny Bettman's literature in the mail and felt that I had to write because of the hypocrisy that I read.
On the literature, one of her supporters is quoted as saying "Bonny Bettman ... I'm sure she isn't one to be swayed by 'big money' concerns, but only by those of the citizens for a better Eugene."
Well, I would like to set the record straight, Bonny Bettman is the big money, special interest candidate, receiving over one-third of her contributions from two sources. Her contributors read like a who's who of local activists, including Art Johnson, [part] owner of Eugene Weekly, Paul Nicholson and Deborah Noble, who is the campaign manager for another city council candidate.
I am afraid that if elected, Ms. Bettman would be too easily swayed by the "big money" concerns and would not be able to listen the voice of the resident of Ward 3.
Choices are Clear
There are only two pro-environment candidates for city council in Wards 2 and 3 with solid records to back up campaign statements - Bonny Bettman and Betty Taylor. Both have been endorsed by the Sierra Club, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and Oregon Natural Resourses Council. And both have been endorsed by progressive, pro-environment elected officials in our community, including David Kelly, Gary Rayor, Scott Meisner, Bill Dwyer, Pete Sorenson, and Floyd Prozanski.
Bonny and Betty also support labor rights. They are the only candidates in their races who've been endorsed by local unions. They support living wage campaigns and know that a healthy local economy is one where workers earn enough to afford health insurance and a decent standard of living. Backing Bettman and Taylor's major opponents is the Lane County Home Builders Association (HBA), the big developer's lobby. What's their angle?
They have worked locally and statewide to expand our urban growth boundaries, opening up farm and forest lands to urban sprawl. They have helped kill legislation that would allow communities to levy fees on new development to help pay for the required schools and other social services - legislation that would bring more fairness to how we pay for growth. And the HBA supports so-called "private property rights" legislation, which is a favorite tactic used by anti-environment forces to try and undermine the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The choices in this election are clear - be sure to mail in your ballot!
If you live in Ward 3 and are looking for the candidate who will best represent the majority of the people, then vote for Tracy Olsen. Olsen's vision for Eugene is NOT tied to political jockeying or special interest groups. His vision is much broader and down to earth. As a small business owner and resident of downtown, he knows personally the challenges and needs of Wards residential and business communities. As a community service volunteer, Tracy has worked side-by-side with our youth, and is dedicated to offering kids a safe and healthy environment in which to grow.
As a native of Eugene, like myself, Olsen has grown up with and knows Eugene, He appreciates the special qualities of our city - its livability, its beauty, and its friendly people.
Tracy will bring this broad vision, along with his personable style and energy, to the City Council to work for Eugene future in a responsible way. He is not interested in forcing his views on others, but instead, listens to each side, uses his common sense, and then makes an intelligent decision.
I know Tracy, and was thrilled when I heard the news that he was throwing his hat into this race for City Council. Please put Tracy in a position where he can help us all: vote for Tracy Olsen.
I have lived in the Eugene area for nearly 30 years. In that time I have had the good fortune of meeting and knowing Tracy Olsen.
Tracy is a person who gets involved. He is an active member of 20/30, a volunteer organization for helping kids in our area. He has involved himself with the issue to find funding for the LTD police sub-station. Tracy has volunteered at, and given innumerable hours of support to many community service and children's events, such as Special Olympics, Fiesta Latina, Relief Nursery and many others. Tracy is always positive. Tracy is a person whom people seek out for advice. Tracy has boundless energy that is exciting to be around, and he never shies away from responsibility. For people that know Tracy, he is the obvious choice for Ward 3, because everyone who knows him respects him.
In a nutshell, Tracy is a leader. He has been all his life, and he would be an excellent addition to the City Council.
R-G Kiss of Death
How important are the political endorsements of Eugene's daily newspaper? Opinion varies about the local daily which, I feel is outstanding when it come to professional journalism. Endorsements? They're something else.
There are those who hunger for a Register-Guard endorsement. But an increasing number dread it because of the growing trend of its endorsees losing. Maybe the problem is that it increasingly endorses some who deserve to lose. Or it may be part of the "establishment's" kiss-of-death - resulting in the daily's endorsement turning a candidate into a loser, deservedly or not.
That surely is the case in its failure to endorse two blue ribbon candidates for City Council - Betty Taylor and Bonnie Bettman - and one for the County Commission, Kitty Piercy. Kitty's proven integrity is an embarrassment to her opponent, who has inherited the departed Steve Cornacchia's penchant of being a front man for big money.
Those endorsements ignore the record, and suggest behind-the-scenes influence of the Chamber of Commerce big-money agenda. So be it. But it will backfire, as it encourages fence-sitters to get out and vote for three minority candidates -women - who will serve the people instead of special interests: Kitty Piercy, Betty Taylor and Bonnie Bettman.
Wisdom and Candor
I am writing to thank Betty Taylor for the high degree of integrity and independence that she has displayed during her first term as Eugene city councilor. The residents of southeast Eugene are very fortunate that Betty is willing to stand for re-election.
voters complain about politicians who pander to special interests, vacillate on the issues, and put expedience before principle. How lucky we are to have Betty's wisdom, candor, and high principles as a positive influence on the City Council.
Unfortunately, any truly independent candidate who votes in the public interest can count on a well-funded pro-development opponent. These candidates always talk like environmentalists, but run on large contributions from the home builders, Realtors, etc. Eugene voters should reject the intrusion of big money special interest politics in our local elections. Vote for Betty - she is obliged to no one except her constituents.
Bashed Left & Right
I was musing over the critical stance Eugene Weekly has taken regarding the "anarchists" here in Eugene. This stance does not often acknowledge the real results of direct action. Although non-violence no longer seems to be newsworthy, we are so in love with our things that breaking windows brought a press corp army into Seattle. For this work and risk, the anarchists got bashed in the liberal press as well as in more traditional news sources. Unfortunately, almost all of us will agree that some who call themselves anarchists go too far.
Most worrisome to me is the belief that hostile action should be taken toward police because of the group they belong to. Police officers are not windows, but human beings, often with families to support, who are doing their job. As with any organization, some of these humans are more professional, conscientious, and impartial than others.
Now we return to Eugene Weekly, who give us one of the world's most famous mausoleums titled with "The Eugene Police Department," which is akin to putting this label on a tombstone. Not only is this incredibly disrespectful of both the deaths that this building represents, and the Muslim faith, but is inappropriately hostile to the human beings that make up the police department. How can the EW generate such images while criticizing broken windows?
Fortunately, I imagine that this disrespect was not intended, but merely represents the fact that in a town where half the dishwashers are artists or scholars, our primary alternative paper did not know the function of what may be the most photographed building in the world. At any rate, an apology and explanation are in order.
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