By Alan Pittman
The most politically powerful person in Eugene got a job evaluation last week.
The Eugene City Council and the mayor gave City Manager Jim Johnson good marks. In a 10-page evaluation form, most elected officials said Johnson had met or exceeded their expectations in eight performance categories.
Johnson got his highest marks for personal integrity. "Mr. Johnson truly models a standard of honesty, integrity, trust, openness and respect for individuals around him," wrote Councilor Bobby Lee. "He inspires public servants to reach higher."
But council evaluation forms and anonymous critiques by four executive managers working under Johnson also point to weak leadership and a power shift from elected councilors to a committee of city executives meeting behind closed doors.
Under the city charter, Eugene is run by a strong city manager appointed and, in theory, supervised by a weak City Council and mayor.
The council appointed Johnson two years ago as city manager after firing Vicki Elmer from the position.
Johnson admits in his self evaluation that unlike his predecessor, he isn't about to shake up City Hall. "This last year was not a year for major change initiatives," he wrote.
Johnson has deferred a large part of his power to a city executive staff who, through anonymous evaluations publicized in The Register-Guard, convinced the council to oust Elmer. "I'm not a command-and-control kind of manager," Johnson told EW before his appointment, describing plans to delegate authority and reach decisions by a "consensus" of the city executives.
But some city executives now see weak leadership in Johnson's consensus approach. One anonymous manager wrote, "there are times when Jim could be more decisive and directive particularly on internal policy issues where giving the executive management group too much time to make a consensus decision can result in delays and decisions that may not be optimal to the organization as a whole."
The concern is echoed by another city executive. "Jim could call/make a ruling around key issues that executives either struggle with, spend lots of time without resolution or that should not be handled by consensus or a process," the executive wrote. "I see opportunities to save time and resources in certain decisions."
Councilor Gary Pape also faulted Johnson for weak leadership in his evaluation.
"Jim seems to give too much deference to some senior managers in the organization who need his coaching and guidance," Pape writes. "The city manager appears to sometimes take too long and be too diplomatic in dealing with employee performance and those who are reluctant to adopt to changed city priorities and direction."
Pape wrote that Johnson "should not pay so much deference to longer term department heads." On the next page he notes, "it appears that [Administrative Services Director] Warren Wong has almost exclusive knowledge over all four corners of the city budget." Pape writes that Johnson, "should become more knowledgeable about the details and possibilities of city revenues and expenses."
With a committee of executive staff meeting privately to run the city, some councilors feel direction from the elected City Council has been ignored.
Councilor Betty Taylor and other progressives have long argued for reforming the city's weak mayor and council form of government. But Taylor noted in her evaluation, "the topic of comprehensive charter review did not reach the agenda until 16 months after it was adopted as a goal."
Taylor provided other examples of where the council's will was thwarted or manipulated:
* "Police issues have sometimes come ahead of council priorities" on agendas and committees.
* "The Police Commission was intended to work on recommendations for police policies; it has been diverted to support a new police station."
* "Although it is clear that a number of councilors are interested in changing to in-house legal services, the manager ignored this interest to the point of renewing the [outside] legal contract for an unprecedented five year period."
* "On the location of the federal courthouse, we were informed, by the manager, that we had no choice if the federal government decided to use the City Hall site and that it would be either 5th Street or City Hall. This was misinformation that led to the use of huge amounts of staff time, council time, and committee time -- all of which involved expenditure of money and neglect of important issues."
* Councilors "were not given choices in the budget process" and the manager offered no lists of options of what to fund and not fund.
* "The most egregious of all: the revelation that the planning staff has spent many weeks working to accommodate Hyundai's expansion into the wetlands. This is one of the most critical issues facing the entire community; yet neither the council nor the community knew what was being planned."
Pape noted, "it's been almost a year and a half since the council set its [list of official] goals and just recently we started addressing some of them."
Taylor left a large part of her evaluation form blank, noting that under the strong manager system, the council lacks the power and information to hold the manager accountable. "Although the manager is an employee of the council, we do not supervise or control his activities or, in most areas, observe his work."
By Orna Izakson
As the West heads into what promises to be the third consecutive billion-dollar fire season, the debate about forests and fires is blazing through the halls of Congress and taking center stage in the debate over the future of roadless areas.
One of the country's most vocal proponents of natural and prescribed fires -- intentionally set to undo years of fire suppression and other measures that have made Western forests even more susceptible to flame -- is veteran firefighter Tim Ingalsbee, who heads the Western Fire Ecology Center in Eugene.
Ingalsbee is spending the better part of this summer speaking out on the biggest fallacy of the devastating May fire in Los Alamos, N.M.: It wasn't the prescribed burn at Bandolier National Monument that burned down the town. It was, according to the federal investigation of the incident, the backfire set to put out the prescribed burn that got out of control.
What happened was this, says Ingalsbee: The prescribed fire did some expectedly unexpected things. Bandolier staffers mistakenly thought they didn't have the financial wherewithal to control the burn themselves, so they called in the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest. Because of financial incentives that Ingalsbee says give financial carte blanche to fighting wildfires -- but not prescribed burns -- the Forest Service insisted that the Park Service declare it a wildfire. Once that was done, Ingalsbee says, firefighters lit a fire at the bottom of the hill that the prescribed fire was inching down, setting the blaze that ultimately destroyed much of the nearby town.
Most people heard that the prescribed burn got out of control, decimated homes and risked lives. But John Robertson, a fire behavior analyst, wrote in the federal investigation that "it was the suppression action that resulted in the escape from the project area." The prescribed burn stayed more or less where it was supposed to.
"The best way to prevent large-scale, severe wildfires is to light more prescribed fires," Ingalsbee says. "Either we can light fires under the best of conditions, (those) most amenable to human control, or we can fight fires under the worst of condition, (those) that defy human control."
Ingalsbee fought fires around the West for most of 10 years, and his subsequent forest activism has largely revolved around fire. He was among the first people talking about an arson-burned roadless area near Oakridge now known as Warner Creek, and he helped lead the successful charge to prevent salvage logging there in 1995-1996 (an effort that led to an 11-month activist encampment there). He now is a key proponent of protecting the area to study how west-side Cascades forests recover from severe fire.
The last time a wildfire raged beyond the woods and into the halls of Congress was six years ago when an Independence Day lightning strike ignited the bone-dry forest at Storm King Mountain in northwestern Colorado. Fourteen firefighters died on the mountain -- nine of them Oregonians on the Prineville Hotshot crew.
Congress responded with the Salvage Rider, which facilitated logging in fire-burned and fire-prone forests in part by exempting such work from all other laws. (Although a local judge had put Warner Creek off-limits to logging because it would encourage arsonists, the Salvage Rider overrode his decision.) Meanwhile, the Interior Department was quietly developing a new fire policy that shifted focus from attacking every fire on the fire-starved landscape to restoring the forest through prescribed fires or letting some wildfires burn. "This policy was revolutionary," Ingalsbee says. "It took the death of 34 firefighters that year and a billion dollars in emergency firefighting costs to make the policy happen."
Today, local Forest Service, industry officials and environmentalists all agree that fire can be an important tool for making and keeping forests healthy.
Patti Rodgers, a spokeswoman for the Willamette National Forest and one of the agency's first female firefighters, expects a new fire strategy to be out for review this month. "We understand that we need to identify areas where we basically have created a problem (through decades of fire suppression) and we need to look at ways to allow fire to reclaim its natural domain in the forest ecosystem," she explains. Fire will be the predominant tool for accomplishing that goal, she says, although commercial timber sales will also be fair game.
Chris West, vice president of the Northwest Forestry Association, also says fire can help Western forests -- after mechanically removing the most flammable materials first. "The issue for a portion of the environmental community is they don't want anyone making a buck off federal timber," West says. "And that will result in catastrophic fires and resource damage and property damage that will be Clinton's true legacy."
In the wake of Los Alamos, Ingalsbee says the revolutionary 1995 fire policy "is on the ropes, and with it our best hope at truly restoring fire-dependent forests."
And fire is affecting Congress on all forestry matters. "Just like spotted owl was driving the old-growth debate for a while, fire is driving the management debate right now," says Steve Holmer, the D.C.-based campaign coordinator for the American Lands Alliance. In a June 14 discussion about shifting millions from the Forest Service's timber-sale-planning budget to its fish and wildlife budget, nearly every opponent of the move cited fire as a reason to spend more for logging.
It grew up a lone wolf tree, without competition, allowing it to develop enormous low branches, suitable for climbing. The trunk measures four and a half feet in diameter. Eugene tree crew supervisor Kevin Foestler estimates the Douglas fir to be 80 years old, but neighbor Gabe Newton figures the tree to be more than 200 years old, and says it was "left by loggers because the low branches would mean knotted wood, not suitable for the mill."
The tree is host to a small but diverse ecosystem: raccoons, squirrels, birds, a honey bee hive, and thousands of insects. It holds a unique position in the surrounding ecosystem as the last old-growth tree in the area.
Newton says his personal relationship with Grandfather Clock began 14 years ago when his family moved to Eugene from Idaho. "I was nine years old, and I had never seen such a large tree. As the tree climbing skills of my brothers and I improved with practice, we began to look up into the maze of huge branches with awe," he says. "I didn't reach the top until a year or two later, but when I did, it afforded a view of all Eugene, the expanse of the Willamette Valley, and the South Sister. I have climbed it frequently over the last 10 years, and have come to know it intimately. Now consenting to it being cut, if necessary, is like pulling the plug on a loved one."
When rated recently by Urban Forestry, the tree received a hazard rating of 11 on a scale of 12; three out of four for probability of failure, four out of four for size of part that would strike the target, and four out of four for frequency of use of the target. The tree leans 15 degrees, lacks supporting roots due to rocky soil, and has evidence of moderate root decay. Even if it were topped, it would still fall in a high-use area (a back yard), says Newton.
"The city posts all removals on the Internet, but few are aware of this, and it is not very practical to check the Internet every week to see if a tree you visit is slated for removal," says Newton. "This is especially short notice, and does not effectively notify all parties involved. I live two houses away from Grandfather Clock, and was not notified."
For more information, Newton can be reached at 687-8767.
A peaceful May Day march by 350 protesters in Portland was met by 100 riot police who fired beanbag shotguns and slammed into citizens with horses and ATVs. At least 20 citizens were injured, Willamete Week reported.
Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker was called before the Portland City Council last month for an explanation.
"Kroeker blamed Eugene anarchists as the pretext for putting the cops in riot gear," Willamette Week reported. "On May 1, the anarchists were in Portland 'to incite violence.' As proof, he offered an e-mail from a self-described Eugene anarchist; at most it is a description of egg tossing and marching. Other than that, his report contains no documentation of anarchist behavior -- just the observation that there were people wearing black masks and hoods in Portland."
Eugene anarchists said after the event that the Portland police created their own riot and Eugene protesters played only a minor role in the demonstration. Lilly, 24, says she was among about 20 Eugene protesters, some dressed as pirates, who traveled to Portland for the May 1 event. At the large rally, "It was quite the minority from Eugene," says Lilly, who declined to give her last name for fear of police retaliation. The group hadn't planned any property destruction. "Nobody I heard said they were going to do anything up there," she said.
"It was pretty low key until the police attacked," said Monkey, 22, who also did not give a full name for fear of retaliation.
Lilly says she thinks the Portland police were all "roboed up" for the protest because the Eugene police called and told them the anarchists were coming.
EPD fear-mongering about the anarchist menace led to a similar overblown police response in April at a protest in Tacoma, according to Seattle Weekly. The paper reported that the EPD called the Tacoma police with "alarming" warnings of Eugene anarchists attending a protest against Kaiser Aluminum's owner, logging and junk bond baron Charles Hurwitz. The Tacoma police deployed 350 officers against a protest by 50 activists, Seattle Weekly reported.
Lilly and Monkey say it's silly for police and mass media to hype Eugene as the "anarchist capital of the world." Many cities in the U.S. and around the world have independent, large groups of anti-corporate activists, they say. "It's happening everywhere," Lilly says. "We're not that organized." --AP
From July 7-23, more than two dozen women from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and throughout the U.S. are in Eugene for a cross-disability exchange of issues, ideas and strategies to improve leadership skills, enhance international employment potential and develop cross-cultural networks of support.
"I have been so honored to be a part of this exchange and to learn, teach and to receive knowledge from other delegates," says Shira Leeder, an exchange participant from San Francisco who has cerebral palsy. "I have learned the value of teamwork, cooperation, communication and problem solving."
Trainers from Mercy Corps International, Holt International, Rotary International, the U.S. Department of State and the Global Fund for Women are guiding delegates in exploring issues and career opportunities in international development fields. Tanaphan Kaosim, president of the Blind Women's Association of Thailand, is eager to "take all the skills I have learned from MIUSA back to my country to improve the lives of the disabled in Thailand." Courage Chipatiso, a wheelchair user from Zimbabwe, cites the many problems in her country, including lack of education and high levels of illiteracy.
The delegates have lived with Eugene-area families, participated in outdoor challenge activities, hosted a community diversity dialogue and joined in local cultural events.
Alissa Diaz, a delegate from New Mexico, says, "This program has provided me with the skills to become a leader in my community and also to achieve my international dreams."
"We are all women with one heart and one spirit," says Kathleen Prime, a blind delegate from New York.
For more information, visit www.miusa.org --Rhonda Newhaus
"It is no secret that both the Republicans and Democrats are in the pockets of the multinational corporations," says a recent statement from the Direct Action Network (DAN), a coalition of grassroots groups that help provide structure for mass protest.
Sponsors of the conventions include multi-national giants such as Microsoft, Motorola, Chevron, Amgen, Bank of America, Daimler Chrysler, General Motors, and AT&T.. Many of these corporations sponsor both parties' conventions.
J. James Barr, CEO of American Water Works Inc. (a sponsor of both conventions), was recently quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer saying, "We're not playing partisan... we're looking forward to making contacts with key public-policy people."
"Both parties have been pushing a racist and sexist corporate agenda which benefits the few at the expense of the many, and that is destroying hundreds of millions of lives worldwide and wrecking the planet," says the DAN statement. "It is time to directly act to intervene and challenge the policies of the dominant U.S. political parties and their complicity with corporate interests."
"We're prepared to pull back the curtain on the joke masquerading as a representative democracy," declares a statement from Arm the People, a group mobilizing participants for Los Angeles. "We've come to march, lock-down, shout-down and openly revolt," the group says.
Local mobilization has begun to help send people to Los Angeles. A direct action training will be held at Maurie Jacobs Park from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, July 22, with information sharing from transportation to street health and safety. A teach-in is planned from 7 to 9 pm Monday, July 24, in 100 Willamette on the UO campus.
At public hearings on whether or not to issue permits for proposed large developments, much time and effort is expended in trying to prove that the development is or is not legal (i.e. that it conforms to all current laws, regulations and policy decisions applicable to it). Once that is settled, this seems to dictate a favorable outcome for the issuance of a permit.
This is a very incomplete process. Being shown to be legal, or nearly so, should be only a prerequisite for any further consideration at all. The city could retain one or more lawyers, trained in these matters, to make this determination. Because of the multiplicity and complexity of proposals and of the regulatory laws, regulations and policies applicable to them, it is very difficult for most of us to become familiar enough with many proposals to comment intelligently on their legality.
If decisions are based primarily on legality, developers become the real city planners and planning bodies just rubber stamps. Lots of highly undesirable things are legal. Try making a list of examples you know about.
Once a project is found to be legal, the really meaningful deliberations should begin. Will the project enhance the beauty and livability of Eugene? All aspects of its possible impacts should be carefully studied, including philosophical, moral, aesthetic, economic, artistic, ethical, religious, environmental, and any other concerns people may have. A large development affects the entire city in many ways for generations to come and should not be permitted lightly.
The importance of these sorts of concerns can be readily appreciated by exploring developments north and west of Eugene and between Eugene and Portland. Some of these are rather nice, but others can only be described as ghastly.
People should be encouraged to list those aspects of the community which they value most, or would value in any community, then try to see how the proposed large development may relate to their vision. Planners should be visionaries.
Remember that several small enterprises are better than one very big one. If a small business is seriously flawed, the effects are limited. If a very large enterprise has foreseen negative aspects, it affects the entire community for a very long time. Profits from locally owned enterprises tend to circulate in the region, reinforcing their benefit to the community. Those from huge enterprises tend to be siphoned off into the pockets of absentee owners and investors who have less interest in the livability of our community.
A large development is not just something between a few officials and the developer, or something private the developer is doing on his own property. The entire community must live with it for many years long after the developer is gone. The larger the scale of any proposed development, the more urgent is the need for careful deliberate study by everyone concerned and for open public participation in all aspects of its evolution. Critical examination of this sort may result in good suggestions for improvement of the project, as well as in the rejection of some undesirable projects.
Bayard H. McConnaughey is a retired UO biology professor. He and his wife, Evelyn, are long-time social and environmental activists and founding members of Citizens for Public Accountability.
I was braking for a red light when I heard the yelling. In the rear view mirror E. and I saw the young driver of the car behind us, his face red with anger. His mouth formed words we couldn't make out. A crew-cut kid in the passenger seat flipped us off. Instinctively, I checked the scene. Heavy traffic -- 6 pm on graduation night -- plenty of witnesses. I shrugged, palms up and mouthed, "What?"
The passenger rolled down the window and leaned his whole T-shirted torso out. Now both fists circled wildly, middle fingers extended. More unintelligible yelling. E. and I were nonplussed, what had we done?
The light changed, I turned the corner and the white sedan turned, too. They sped up to pass. Crew-cut boy yelled, "Move your fat ass!" and they zoomed away.
"Don't mind if I do!" would not have been a prudent response. I admit I tend to take things literally, so there I was trying to make sense of the encounter. Fat ass? This is about my butt? How do they know it's fat? Can they see it from their car? Are these guys some kind of tire pressure geniuses able to calculate the size of my behind by the bulge in my Michelins? Why would it make them angry?
E. suggested the obvious. "Is it homophobia?" Queer-hating hadn't even occurred to me. I drive around with a rainbow sticker on my back window and welcome the occasional good-natured honk, wave, wink or nod affirming that we are, in fact, everywhere. I look for rainbow bedecked cars in parking lots as a sign of a friendly place. But of course visibility also makes us vulnerable.
I'd been in "don't worry, be happy" mode -- a hostile reaction to my rainbow sticker hadn't even registered as a possibility. Then the instant E. mentioned homophobia, my mental news file immediately flipped to the gruesome image of Michelle Abdill and Roxanne Ellis, Oregon's lesbian activists murdered in the back of their pickup. Mouths, hands, and feet duct-taped, fresh bullet holes in their heads. "Execution style," the newspapers said.
It was a relief to see the white car pull ahead and turn off at the next street. They were gone, not likely sitting somewhere with guns ready to ambush us, but the thought had crossed my mind.
What set off the boys' road rage? It could have been fat-harassment or more probably homophobia. Although it could as easily have been anti-Semitism, ageism, or just plain woman-hating. It could have been anything or nothing at all. Most likely I was just driving too slowly on their night of nights and they were in a hurry to let off steam at some graduation party. But that one small moment of doubt, one brief surge of terror was a searing reminder that being a lesbian makes me a target.
Getting that reminder now is fitting. Oregonians will be voting on the "Student Protection Act" in November. Whenever anti-gay legislation hits the ballot I steel myself for the inevitable rise in hate crimes. Things were different before -- before the Abdill/Ellis double murder. Before Petty Officer Allen Schindler's life was bludgeoned out of him by his shipmates. Before Hattie Mae Cohens and Brian Mock were burned alive in their apartment by racist skinheads. Before Matthew Shephard was pistol whipped and left to die on that Wyoming fence. Before the Brandon Teena and Billy Jack Gaither homicides were documented on film and TV.
Before the violence against us was the stuff of mainstream news, I didn't have to think about it much. The grisly images hadn't yet lodged in my head. There was a time when belligerent slurs from a speeding carful of fools would have bounced off, wouldn't have penetrated my gay pride or my peace of mind.
In a less hostile climate I'd have been unfazed by a similar confrontation. Case in point: Ten years ago E. and I attended the Gay Games in Vancouver, B.C. The city was swarming with lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered athletes from all over the world. Excitement filled the air. We were in the midst of thousands of people like us, gathered together for friendly competition and big time celebration. We felt euphoric, invincible. It's why we love events like the Gay Games and Gay Pride Day -- we feel the strength of our numbers, our diversity and our community. We feel happy and free without homophobia -- either directed at us or eating away from the inside.
One balmy evening of the games, several of us from the Oregon contingent went for a stroll. E. and I were crossing the street when a jacked-up monster truck careened around the corner and screeched to a stop in front of us. "Fat fucking dykes!" one of the guys hollered. We looked at our friends and then at the crowd of friendly strangers all around us. Then we looked back at the boys in the monster truck. The words "fat fucking dykes" tumbled around in my head but had no emotional charge. I took the words literally, as I often do, and could only confirm their observation. "Yep," I called back, unperturbed, "right on all three counts."
Sally Sheklow has been a part of the Eugene community since 1972 and is a member of the WYMPROV! comedy troupe. Her column, which began at EW, was recently picked up by The Desert Post of Palm Springs., The Citizen of Cincinatti, The Ripsaw News of Duluth. and Pride Magazine in Seattle, Chicago and Denver.
On a recent visit to the "free speech wall" near Third and Blair in Eugene, I saw the following pieces of graffiti: "We Need More Dead Cops," "Dead Cops Rule," "Kill Cops in Their Homes."
Such violent and hateful slogans are a reflection of at least some of Eugene's anarchists. Perhaps these are the very anarchists that complain about police persecution.
The irony of this is that many of the central beliefs of the anarchists are shared by many mainstream U.S. citizens. Growing numbers of people in this country believe corporations are too powerful, our government is corrupt and truly meaningful democracy is yet to be achieved. But these people are not going to become politically active when (thanks to the major media) the most visible activists are the ones exhibiting the most angry and childish behavior.
There is tremendous hope that meaningful democracy will ultimately be achieved, the corrupt system will be dismantled, and the world will be saved. This will happen when average people join together and participate in citizen activism. They will do this when they are impressed by the intelligence of what activists say and the elegance, dignity and spirituality with which they carry out their activism. Mainstream people are not going to become active because they're impressed by broken windows, hateful graffiti, tattoos and piercings.
Indeed, the most subversive thing that Eugene's anarchists could do would be to dress, groom and behave in a straight, "conservative" manner, interact with "average folks" and speak out at every opportunity in an intelligent, articulate manner about how corrupt and wrong the world system is. Now, THAT would be radical!
The Kodak advertisement on the back cover of Eugene Weekly 6/29 that promoted the Freedom Festival and Oregon Country Fair was very disturbing coming from a publication that identifies itself as progressive and socially conscious. The image of a faceless, bikini-clan woman posing with the Advantix Access disposable camera tucked into her waistband is a classic example of the way that mainstream advertisements continuously objectify women.
When the text informs us that the camera is for "one-time use" and that "there's no place it won't fit in" the ad is using access to the female body as a metaphor for the "access" the camera provides.
We want to draw attention to the misogyny at work in this ad because we trust that EW would not have dedicated such a large advertising space to it if they had been aware of its sexism. We would also hope that Oregon Country Fair would not willingly associate themselves with such a conventional, unprogressive promotion. In a culture full of misogynist media images of women, we count on publications like EW to be more responsible.
Debora Coen & Michelle Kohler
In this current "Age of Information," I hope everyone in our community has already heard about the Forest Service's Roadless Area Proposed Rule. As it is presented now, protection of roadless areas in our national forests would not mean security from grazing, mining, off-road vehicle use or even logging. According to the Forest Service, outdoor recreation contributes 31.4 times more income to the nation's economy than logging and creates 38.1 times more jobs.
These roadless areas, some located just miles from Eugene in the Willamette and Umpqua National Forests, are priceless in their value as refuges for rare and endangered species, sources of vital clean water, genetic banks of biodiversity and places to seek sanctuary for our own weary bodies. The deadline to let your voice be heard by the USDA/Forest Service is July 17. Speak up now. For all our relations.
Tacky Ticket Tactics
It's time someone speaks out about another injustice going on in this town (and many others I'm sure). As a father of four grown children, a business owner for more than 17 years in this town, I have a major complaint about the police ticket tactics for revenue.
I have lived in the College Hill area for many years. A few years ago, the speed limit on Jefferson Street was lowered to 25 mph from the previous 35 mph. I thought this was to set up another speed trap for local drivers who find themselves drifting five or so miles over the speed limit at just about anytime of day. I have seen one and sometimes two motorcycle cops working the area and slapping people with $100 tickets for going six miles over. Today (6/28), the trap was in full action. At 8:25 am there were four cops working six blocks from 18th to 26th; two in action with their radar guns and two in the act of writing tickets all over the six blocks.
Is this what my tax dollars go for? This is a total rip-off for anyone who has also taken the trip to the courts to see how much justice is available for those who attempt to fight tickets: NONE. This is carte blanche for the police department and guess what, cops? The people know it. In a time when the police are looking for dollars for new buildings and more cops, no wonder people vote down these issues. If this is what the police need to do to raise revenues, I think we should fire half of them and teach the other half what serve and protect really means.
The residents of Lane County should start asking questions of County Commissioners Anna Morrison, Bobby Green, Bill Dwyer and Cindy Weeldreyer. On July 12, the commissioners decided to send a letter to the Forest Service declaring that Lane County wants the roadless policy on the National Forests dropped.
Unfortunately, their letter doesn't speak for the residents of Lane County, where dozens attended comment meetings and nearly 800 people provided written comment asking for more protection! The commissioners heard testimony from citizens interested in protecting roadless areas -- none against.
So why are they headed in the wrong direction? Commissioner Anna Morrison brought the letter to the board based on policy suggested by national and statewide lobbying organizations, not because of interest from residents.
Only Commissioner Peter Sorenson had the decency to speak for the residents of Lane County by asking the commissioners to send individual letters rather than applying their personal convictions to a broader public.
In addition, the letter makes off-the-mark assumptions about the roadless policy that are inaccurate and untrue. The letter assumes roadless areas will be off-limits, when, if anything, this policy falls short of true protection for roadless areas. Not only can hiking and hunting still occur, but so can logging and other harmful activities.
This is not the first time the commissioners have made an uninformed decision about federal policy. Earlier this spring, they made a decision to oppose placing Canadian lynx on the threatened species list.
We all need to be watching the Lane County commissioners, before they make more uninformed declarations on the "behalf" of the residents.
At 5 or 6 percent, Eugene enjoys 4 to 5 percent more bicycle commuters on average than the rest of the country. The reason? In most U.S. cities, the norm is streets with neither bicycle lanes nor other bicycle or pedestrian facilities, making it impossible for these forms of commuting to be a safe, convenient alternative to driving. And yet, Oregon's boasting of high numbers of bicycle commuters may end if the Oregon Transportation Commission, in a desperate attempt to find $141 million for a backlog of road maintenance projects, follows through on its proposal to eliminate funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Going for the easy solution and eliminating the $4 million (not even 3 percent) is short-term thinking that overlooks, for one, how bicyclists and pedestrians divert traffic away from roadways -- and from expensive road-expansion programs.
In its study, Mean Streets 2000, the Surface Transportation Policy Project links a 42 percent drop in walking in this country in the last 20 years with dangerous roadways. Its analysis shows states spending, on average, 55 cents per person of federal transportation funds on pedestrian projects compared with $72 per person on highways. The OTC's short-sighted plan, which would require a repeal of the Bicycle Bill, threatens the funding of bicycling and pedestrian projects at a time when rising gas prices, sprawling development, and increasing congestion are making Oregonians painfully aware of the costs of over-reliance on automobiles. We must not pay road maintenance bills by paving over the Bicycle Bill.
Guns are Stupid
Let's get it right. The NRA was formed after the American War for States Rights (aka Civil War) by Union officers like Sheridan and Sherman. It was a social hunting club -- a place to sip bourbon and play billiards. Ironic that guys who fought armed rebels would encourage gun ownership by all.
Today, the NRA is a trade group representing the makers of firearms and munitions and it is a big business. Hence, any laws that would stifle their target (pun intended) customers from buying their product is bad for business. I doubt many of them really care about or understand the Second Amendment. So all the flag waving is just a marketing ploy. Yeah, yeah -- here come the UN helicopters with Chinese commandos -- Janet Reno is their squadron cadre. It gets old.
Every rifle or handgun should be registered and licensed at point of sell or transfer as a gift. There should be a criminal background check. A flat fee for the process should go to pay for those who are permanently scarred physically or psychologically by those accidents that "happen." Also to help survivors whose loved one shouldn't have gone to that turkey shoot or pistol marksmanship event. "I didn't know there was one in the chamber."
Guns are dangerous, stupid and very unnecessary. So if you're dumb enough to "need" one for protection, then good luck.
Dialogue, in order to truly be such, must be between those with an equal capability to determine the outcome of the situation under discussion. It is therefore understood by all reasonable people that slaves could never truly dialogue with their masters, nor serfs with their lords, nor incarcerated Jews with SS officers. The reason for this is obvious: the masters, lords, and SS officers held real power over the slaves, the serfs and the Jews.
The recent calls by certain "reasonable," liberal "community members" for protesters and anarchists to enter into dialog with the police is absurd. Here is a group of people sanctioned to walk and ride through the streets armed and armored with the right to use those arms whenever they consider such use to constitute "reasonable force." They have the right to abduct anyone if they determine that there is "reasonable suspicion" to believe he or she broke a law. They are backed by a huge system of courts and prisons.
The protesters and anarchists, on the other hand, have no such rights, no such arms or armor and no such system behind them. They have only themselves, their dreams, desires and ideals. There is no equality in this situation, so there can be no dialogue.
There are three ways for the powerless to respond. They can passively accept their role in servile resignation. They can deceive their rulers and their rulers' lackeys with a humble demeanor and servile words while robbing them behind their backs. Or they can act with full dignity and rise up and take direct action to bring it down and make real freedom and equality possible.
Only when there are no more cops, no more courts, no more prisons -- nor those systems of power from which they are developed -- can free and open dialogue exist in the only way it can -- as an aspect of free life.
Matter of Perspective
So, the term "rogue state" is out, and "state of concern" is in at the State Department. It joins outdated lexicon like the "evil empire," "Red China," "free world," etc. in the dust bin of history. In one fell swoop the spin-makers in Washington have done it again.
All these terms represent our government's perspective and are used to shape American people's perceptions of our "dangerous" world. I wonder if there is a different perspective out there on our role in the world. Consider this record:
1. We are threatening to break the ABM treaty with Russia and embark on a new "Star wars" missile defense system. 2. We refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 3. Along with Somalia, we refuse to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We also refuse to sign the Land Mines Convention, Convention on the Laws of the Seas, and the Women's Rights Conventions. 4. We vehemently oppose creation of an International Criminal Court. 5. We violated the UN Charter in the attack on Yugoslavia. 6. Our continued bombing of Iraq is not UN sanctioned. 7. We refuse to pay our huge debt to the UN. 8. We are the only developed nation that practices the death penalty. 9. In 1998 we were third behind China and Congo in the number of executions. 10. Our Defense Department budget makes up 40 percent of the world's total spending on weapons and war.
"States of concern"? It's all a matter of perspective.
I can't imagine how anyone can chew on a drumstick again after watching the animated movie Chicken Run which opened last week to great critical acclaim. (The 1995 screening of Babe the talking pig led a number of people to drop pork from their diet.)
The delightful British film recounts the story of a group of brave hens plotting to escape from a factory farm. The story is both poignant and funny, and the characters quickly earn our empathy.
I was impressed how these animals that we view as food share our quest for life and liberty as well as most of our feelings of joy, affection, frustration, sadness, and pain.
Thankfully, my local supermarket carries a selection of delicious "mock chicken" foods, which unlike dead chicken flesh are free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and salmonella. I look forward to exploring the many cruelty-free, healthful dietary options that are available.
Ethan L. Wilson
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