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News Briefs:  For the Trees | Raid Brings Lawsuit | Disclosure Targeted | High Flyers | Rosenthal on Tour | Global Midwifery | Wendover Update | Fire Sale |

News: More Hospital Sprawl?
Eugene action hurts chances for new hospital downtown.

Happening People: Lorrie Burns



For the Trees
Tree-sitter, protester and activist Michael McCarthy, perched in a sweetgum in front of Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson (SMJ) House this week, says he "woke up to the sound of chainsaws."

An estimated 30 police officers stop and question about 10 protesters April 22 on their way to SMJ House.

Volunteer tree cutters contracted by SMJ House arrived at 6 am April 28 to cut down five trees. "The reason we want to remove the trees is to restore the historic landscape," says Rene Grube, director of Recreational Services. "We don't want anyone to get hurt."

At the sound of the chainsaws, McCarthy traversed from his sweetgum post to a nearby incense cedar, protecting both trees from the cut. McCarthy says he was told by one of the tree cutters, "I'd just as soon cut the tree with you in it." McCarthy claims he was threatened by one of the workers who mentioned "a gun in the truck." No stranger to tree-sits, McCarthy was seriously injured in a fall from a downtown tree during a protest in July 1998.

Kathleen Larson, director of the SMJ House, was not present during the cut and could not confirm nor deny the threats claimed by McCarthy. However, Larson says, "The policy we maintain with all SMJ House volunteers is that they should have no contact with McCarthy." She also says that it has been made clear among volunteers that they should do no harm to the protester. When the volunteer cutters were able to cut only three of the five marked trees, they called Larson, who said simply, "Let's just leave it at that."

Six days earlier, on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 22, individuals headed to support McCarthy's tree-sit were blocked by a sizeable show of police force on 4th Ave., between Pearl and High streets. According to observer Leeanne Siart, there were about 14 police cars, eight police motorcycles and 30 police officers to the 10 protesters cited with disorderly conduct. (Two protesters were ultimately arrested.)

Chuck Fee, who also witnessed the events from his Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) workplace, says, "Work ground to a halt — we felt like the SWAT team was here."

Tim Lewis of Eugene Copwatch says, "It was all very mellow, not a confrontational critical mass at all … It seemed the main goal of the police was to ID people who they are suspicious of." Lewis and Siart both witnessed police officers asking protesters for their Social Security numbers, which, says Lewis, "They aren't allowed to do." — BW

 

Raid Brings Lawsuit
Whiteaker residents targeted by a "paramilitary" police raid Oct. 17, 2002, announced this week they are planning a lawsuit and an official complaint. The early morning raid "caused physical and emotional injuries to the individuals, as well as damage to their property," says attorney Lauren Regan. "The police clearly violated the 4th Amendment which protects citizens from unreasonable search and false arrest. We intend to hold these police officers accountable ..."

The impending suit on behalf of the neighborhood and concerned citizens throughout Eugene will be against the Oregon State Police, Lane County Sheriff, Eugene and Springfield police departments, Portland Police Bureau, Oregon National Guard and others. About 50 officers and an armored vehicle were involved in the raid in search of a marijuana growing operation. No evidence was found but two couples were arrested and citied "in an obvious attempt to save face, thereby exposing the couples to felony criminal charges and the possibility of having their homes forfeited under Oregon drug laws," according to a statement from the Whiteaker Community Council.

For more information, contact the WCC at 684-8064 or e-mail thewhit@efn.org

Ted Taylor

 

Disclosure Targeted
The city's toxics right to know law is under fire again.

Opponents of the law are expected to come out in force at a May 5 public hearing to call for the repeal of the charter amendment requiring companies to report their use and disposal of dangerous chemicals. The City Council will discuss the right to know law on June 9.

"We'll see a debate on the merits of the program," predicted Glen Potter, city fire chief and manager of the toxics reporting program.

Toxics users successfully passed a state law in 1999 requiring the hearing and City Council findings supporting the program. New Councilors Jennifer Solomon and George Poling have criticized the toxics reporting as anti-business. As a charter amendment, the council can't repeal the reporting program, but can refer a repeal to voters.

The Eugene Toxics Right to Know law passed in 1996 by a wide margin. Last year, city companies reported using a total of 16 million pounds of chemicals. That's more than a hundred pounds of toxic substances per man, woman and child in Eugene.

The Monday, May 5 hearing will be at 7:30 pm in Classroom 1 of the Eugene Emergency Services Center, 1705 W. 2nd Ave. Call 682-7118 for information.

Alan Pittman

 

High Flyers
With the city slashing services to meet an estimated $3 million shortfall, tapping into a juicy slush fund at the airport has become an attractive target.

The City Council created a $1.1 million fund a few years ago to lure airlines to Eugene by offering them advertising paid for by the city. The corporate give-away account has $500,000 left in it that the council could tap to prevent cuts in social services and other higher priorities.

Another big pot of money the city could tap into is a reserve account the city has stashed away to build a new $30 million police station. The city started the reserve after citizens twice decided the police station wasn't worth the money and voted down bond measures. The council could agree and tap the $3.5 million in the cop kitty to fund social services. — AP

 

Ed Rosenthal

Rosenthal on Tour
Author, businessman and marijuana expert Ed Rosenthal will speak about his battle with the federal government over medical marijuana on a tour through Oregon May 1- 4. He will speak in Eugene Friday May 2 at a 3:30 pm press conference at the Federal Building, a 4:15 to 5 pm book-signing at site to be determined, a 6 to 7:30 pm lecture ($5) at Columbia 150 at UO, and an 8 pm banquet ($50/plate) at the Springfield Doubletree Hotel.

Rosenthal, author of more than a dozen books on marijuana, was convicted in February in federal court of cultivating marijuana in a controversial case that has attracted national attention. Rosenthal was operating legally under California's medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996. He had authorization from city officials in Oakland California to provide marijuana for medical patients through local dispensaries.

During his trial, U.S. District Judge Stephen Breyer would not allow any evidence of medical use to be introduced. When the jurors in the case discovered, after the conviction, that Rosenthal had been providing medical marijuana for patients, they apologized for convicting him and demanded a new trial.

Rosenthal and his team of attorneys are still fighting to get a new trial or to appeal the original verdict. Rosenthal faces a mandatory five-year sentence.

 

Websitings

Dress 'm Up Dubya
Arguably the funniest George W. site on the web right now, unless you love our prez, in which case it's the most idiotic and disrespectful site on the web. Needs Flash plug-in.

O'Neill's Bali
A one-stop travel guide for Bali and a Daily News section — written by former Eugene resident Nick O'Neill — following the trials, tribulations and daily life in this unique part of the world.

Write to Free
A new site to support Jeffrey "Free" Luers, currently serving 22 years in the state pen for burning SUVs. Info on how to write to him, read his essays, help with his appeal costs, etc.

Impeach Bush
Includes Ramsey Clark's draft articles of impeachment, historical notes and an e-mail message to send to lawmakers.

Websitings is a list of useful and sometimes quirky web sites. Care to contribute to the list? Send suggested sites and a short description to editor@eugeneweekly.com

Global Midwifery
The U.S. has a high infant mortality rate and a low reliance on midwives. Is there a connection?

Elise Hansen and Georganne Clark, both direct-entry midwives practicing in Eugene, will give an informational talk in honor of International Midwives' Day, Sunday, May 4, from 2 to 4 pm at the Eugene Public Library. Hansen and Clark have been involved in the birth community here for the last five years.

"The idea of a day to honor and recognize midwives first came out of an International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) conference that occurred in the Netherlands in 1987," says Clark. "The day was first observed on May 5, 1991 and has been recognized ever since in over 50 countries around the world."

Clark explains that midwifery has a greater following internationally than it does here in the U.S. "Worldwide, greater than 80 percent of babies are born into the hands of midwives," she says. "In the U.S., this number is dramatically less — about 8 percent. We have significantly fewer numbers of midwives practicing, which in turn reduces the number of women who have access to midwifery care."

Currently the U.S. is 27th in the world with relation to infant mortality (compared with other developed countries). Clark says, "Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. place us 15th in the world overall, and these rates have not improved in the last 20 years, despite increasing amounts of technological involvement in birth. Many of the nations that have much lower rates of infant and maternal mortality rely heavily on midwives."

For more information, contact Clark at 242-3601. — Bobbie Willis

 

Wendover Update
The Eugene Planning Commission is expected to vote this week to approve a new 19-unit housing development at the end of Wendover Street in north Eugene. Neighbors have been fighting the development, objecting to the destruction of trees, riparian wildlife habitat and fertile farmland.

Half of the nine-acre parcel owned by the Huling family has been earmarked for purchase by the city for parkland, says neighbor Kevin Jones. Part of the land "was two feet under water in '96 and six feet under water in '64, and the additional runoff of a road and 19 large roofs and driveways is of great concern to the neighbors," says Jones. "If there weren't a win-win solution in sight, I'd save my breath, but there is."

Jones and other members of the Seacon Park Neighborhood Association are calling for a smaller "clustered subdivision with less paved surface, and leaving the majority of the land open for growing food for our county's residents." Jones says the group can raise $300,000 to buy the developable land.

For more information, call 461-3798 or see EW archives for Sept. 19, 2002.

TJT

 

Fire Sale
The city of Eugene has three old fire stations up for sale. Bids are due by May 30. You can walk through the stations May 7. Call Jeff Norman at 682-5072 for information.


SLANT

Dennis Taylor, Eugene's new city manager from Billings, Mt., showed up for work in April. Will he last longer than Vicki Elmer, the only other outsider hired to run the city bureaucracy in three decades? Taylor will have smooth sailing until he tries to tackle some of the city's serious issues such as sprawl, pollution, downtown doldrums and contracting of city legal services. We wish him well in the challenges ahead. His first big chance to shine or flop will be in hiring a new police chief — will we get true community policing or a continuation of the heavy-handed, intimidating and alienating police tactics that have plagued the EPD for years?

President Bush has shown little finesse dealing with foreign policy, burning diplomatic bridges around the world. Looming ahead are complex challenges in reconstructing Iraq, leftover issues smoldering in Afghanistan, the unresolved Palestine issue, and staggering economic and social problems at home. Alas, we can look forward to more simplistic policies that defy logic as they advance an ultra-conservative agenda. Let's hold accountable progressives and moderates who go along with this agenda, and campaign to dump Bush and the GOP in 2004.

Conservatives have been saying for years that we're taxing ourselves to death. They're wrong, according to an Oregon Center for Public Policy study showing that state taxes as a share of income have remained flat for 20 years.   


SLANT includes short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519 or e-mail editor@eugeneweekly.com

Back to Top

More Hospital Sprawl?
Eugene action hurts chances for new hospital downtown.
BY ALAN PITTMAN

The Eugene City Council took a step last week toward locating a new McKenzie-Willamette Hosp-ital on the edge of the city rather than near downtown.

The council voted 5-3 to move to allow McKenzie/Triad to build the new hospital as a permitted use virtually anywhere in the city. A public hearing and final vote on the proposed land use change will be scheduled later.

"What we want is a hospital in the central city and what this says is you can put a hospital anywhere," Councilor Bonny Bettman said. Bettman voted with Councilors David Kelly and Betty Taylor to oppose the regulatory change to allow a hospital in any residential, office, commercial or industrial zoned area of the city.

"It's an incredible shift in direction," said Jan Wilson of CHOICES, a group lobbying for locating a hospital in the central core of Eugene. "We've just thrown the central core part right out the window," she said. "They could put it way out by the airport if they wanted."

Kelly said a big hospital could have a bad impact on small-scale residential neighborhoods. "I can just hear the uproar."

"We're talking about at least a 750,000 square foot facility," said Bettman. "It really isn't appropriate in every single residential zone in the city."

Councilor Gary Papé agreed a hospital would have a major impact. "We're talking about, maybe not a 20 ton elephant, but a 15 ton elephant moving around." But Papé still voted for allowing hospitals in any neighborhood.

Supporters of a centrally located hospital had hoped the city would entice McKenzie's planned new hospital to a central Eugene site by offering a zoning overlay that would make hospital siting easy. But the council voted against such an approach.

Councilor Scott Meisner said an overlay zone approach would be too restrictive. "I do not want to make it more difficult for a new hospital to locate here."

Mayor Jim Torrey agreed the council shouldn't restrict the hospital. "There is a real fear among folks on the east side of the freeway that we will try to micromanage the process."

Downtown hospital supporters said an overlay would actually simplify locating the hospital in the central city.

Allowing a hospital anywhere "takes any of that leverage away" to locate the hospital in the central city, Bettman said.

By allowing the hospital anywhere, "the city has no way to encourage good sites and discourage bad sites," Wilson said.

Wilson faulted city Planning Director Tom Coyle for recommending against using the city's zoning regulations to steer the hospital to the most beneficial site for the citizens of Eugene. "The point of planning is to have a vision," said Wilson. "Tom Coyle was going back to the 1960s."

Locating the new hospital on the edge of town would produce costly, traffic-snarling urban sprawl, Wilson said. Such edge development will increase pressure to expand the growth boundary and produce big taxpayer costs in new sewers, roads and other infrastructure, she said. "West 11th would be a mess, 7th would be a mess, the Beltline would be bumper to bumper."

A central location for the hospital would be much better, Wilson said. Redeveloping vacant and underused industrial sites near 2nd and Chambers and 7th and Garfield is one possibility, she said.

Another option would be using part of the county fairgrounds site for a hospital, Wilson said. That could require the once a year county fair to move to a more rural location and the conversion of the fairgrounds buildings into more of a convention/recreation center with parking garages.

Wilson said there's little doubt the new McKenzie/Triad hospital will locate somewhere in Eugene. Glenwood lacks adequate sewers and is too close to PeaceHealth, she said. A Glenwood hospital may also have trouble because it would be too close to Cottage Grove's hospital to get a state-required certificate of need.

Eugene has more than twice the number of potential hospital customers as Springfield and makes economic sense for a new hospital location, according to Wilson. "No one is going to walk away from our market."

"I think they [McKenzie/Triad] realize they need to be more centrally located than PeaceHealth and they'll collect up all the doctors and all the patients," Wilson said. "I'm trusting that McKenzie-Willamette still has a good enough heart to choose the right site despite what the council does."   



LORRIE BURNS
Because she hated school as a kid in Chicago, Lorrie Burns has taken a strong interest in the education of her own children, second-grader Dylan and kindergartener Dalton. "Dylan was bored out of his mind in first grade," says Burns, who transferred him to the Family School, an alternative school that integrates grades 1-3 and organizes study around themes (current theme: poetry). "It made a huge difference — now he's so excited about school." Early this year, Family School parents learned that next year's budget cuts will eliminate one teacher, unless they can make up the difference. "We need $73,000 to fund a full-time teacher," Burns says. "Bake sales won't do the job." At an emergency parents' meeting, she advanced her brainstorm: selling blood plasma. Anyone willing to donate plasma five times can earn $140 for the cause — 100 donors could raise $14,000. An inaugural session at Aventis Bio-Services on April 13 drew a crowd of 150 parents, teachers and students. "Lorrie worked countless hours to make this happen," says fellow parent Jennifer Wassermiller. Donations will be accepted through the summer — call Burns at 870-3886 for details.


Know anyone whose good work deserves attention in this space? Call the editor at 484-0519 or editor@eugeneweekly.com


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