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News: More Hospital
Happening People: Lorrie Burns
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
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 email@example.com
— Ted Taylor
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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