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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 03.16.06

CLEARCUT CATASTROPHE

It's been almost three-and-a-half years since the flames died out in the Biscuit fire in southwestern Oregon. In those years we've watched old-growth reserves get clearcut, seen nation-wide protests, learned about agency corruption and illegal logging violations, and found out about a recent scientific study telling us, yet again, that post-fire logging does nothing to help forests recover.

With the news that the Forest Service plans on moving forward with two new timber sales (called Mike's Gulch and Blackberry) within the north and south Kalmiopsis Inventoried Roadless Areas, it looks like its going to be deja vu all over again.

Is the USFS so out of touch with reality that they'd turn a blind eye to the recent OSU study about the harmful effects of logging in the Biscuit area? Not to mention the more than 2.5 million people who have asked them to protect roadless areas? One of those 2.5 million people was our governor, Ted Kulongoski, who wrote a letter last summer to Mark Rey, head of the USFS, asking him to halt his plans to log inside the Kalmiopsis Inventoried Roadless Area. After all this, the USFS is still planning on clearcutting these forests and converting them to tree farms.

Please take the time to contact Sen. Ron Wyden (202-224-5244) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (800-944-9603) and ask them to publicly oppose these sales!

Jeff Long, Eugene

 

FITS OF LOGIC

I do not understand the logic that would reward Connor and Woolley for buying up downtown properties, leaving them empty, and contributing to the blight and plight of downtown. Instead of rewarding them with our tax money, we should perhaps be encouraging them to sell "at a fair price" to local groups and people who would like to actually do something with the downtown we have, and who would not come bleating for our tax dollars and whining that they have to have it all or there's no deal.

Likewise it's hard for me to understand why I should subsidize a chain grocery store. Isn't the whole point of capitalism that each sinks or swims by its own merits? Whole Foods has proven to be successful on its own. Did we subsidize Safeway, Albertson's, the Kiva, Sundance, Capella, Fred Meyer, etc? If so, let's go for it. If not, let Whole Foods spend its own money, and save our money for repairing our decaying infrastructure, including cops and courts and roads — those basic things our taxes should be spent on before we start flinging money away hand over fist as we've done so often before.

Does anyone remember Symantec and Broadway Place? The Symantec building looks very empty. Some of the space in Broadway Place has never been rented. Perhaps giving money to for-profit corporations isn't the economic panacea it's been touted to be?

Harriett Smith, Eugene

 

CRITICAL ISSUE

I have participated in the Critical Mass bike ride and believe me, I'm no dreadlocked, anarchist college student. I'm an adult woman with a little girl at home, and I am very much concerned about the issue of bicycle safety in Eugene. As a parent, I take my daughter on bike rides along the river and the Fern Ridge bike paths, so as to avoid the inherent danger of automobiles, but we are not always able to avoid city streets along the way. Since sidewalks are either not always available, in ill repair, or occupied mainly by pedestrians, we often exercise our legal right to ride on city streets.

I want to live in a city where I feel like drivers (and bicyclists) are educated enough to avoid dangerous situations on the road, so I can feel like my weekend rides with my child are safe. Critical Mass is like a moving billboard that raises public awareness of the presence of bicycles, as well as advertising to the public the freedom and joy that comes with getting around using only muscle power. I do my best to show up on the last Friday of every month to show the public that there are bikes sharing the road, so be careful!

I feel like it's the least thing I can do to make Eugene a safer city for my daughter to grow up in.

Robin L. Harris, Eugene

 

NO-BID NO-BRAINER

Dan Carol implies in his recent EW column (3/2) that I am advocating a false choice between local business and national retailers. While I personally prefer local, owner-operated retailers when offered a choice, I agree that no Eugenean should be prevented from voting with his or her dollars for the retailers who will thrive in Eugene.

However, we may not have that opportunity if the retail choices are determined by an interfering city political establishment. We should be allowed to choose among the competitors who succeed because they provide superior value and personal service to their customers; and that requires a level playing field where national retailers are not directly and indirectly subsidized by the city.

In the case of the Whole Foods deal, the city:

• Fast tracks the project by, for example, entering into a development agreement and awarding no-bid contracts.

• Undertakes to build a $6.7 million dollar parking structure adjacent to the development.

• Rehabilitates storm water lines at an estimated cost of $250,000.

• Agrees to a dubious land swap with the developer.

• Shares the cost of redirecting EWEB's steam tunnels ($600,000).

• Shoulders the expense of street improvements to assist access to the Whole Foods store.

Our mayor and council would have done all of these things without even holding a single public hearing, but for the surprise discovery that a public hearing is required when awarding a no-bid contract to build a parking structure.

My friends in the whole foods business have competed successfully with national whole foods retailers, and with national chain grocers that sell whole foods. I have never heard them complain about it. I don't think any local whole foods store has received a nickel from the city. On the contrary, they pay their taxes without complaining, keep their profits in our local economy and contribute to the community in many other ways.

National retailers are not the real issue. The real issue is the unfairness of the city entering into a special deal with a developer to benefit a huge national retailer at the expense of all of its competitors.

Dan's fears are unfounded. He will always have plenty of national retailers where he can spend his dollars. If we let the invisible hand of the market work, we will also have local retailers to choose among as well.

Paul Nicholson, Eugene

 

A RAY OF SUNDANCE

Regarding the dialogue of giving a parking garage to Whole Foods grocers downtown: My thanks belongs with Sundance.

I was sick for a year with a cornucopia of symptoms: losing 20 pounds in 10 days, followed by another 20 (against my will); a prostrate swelling so much I couldn't sit down; GI system, well, very shitty. I could go on and on. I am better now.

My feeling is that these cascade of symptoms were triggered by salmonella from a case of raw almonds we purchased at a national chain food and supply wholesale warehouse, who later recalled the almonds — too late for me.

A number of times in that year, I thought I would die. However a benefit emerged; learning about healthy eating, cleansing, environmental toxins and food supply contamination.

When I was too sick to put the effort into preparing a healthy meal, the Sundance raw-food bar provided a remarkable rejuvenative, their extensive and modern section of nutritionals and herbal supplements assisted in the internal cleansing necessary for my recovery. Could a national chain grocer provide this same attention to product merchandising and food quality? Perhaps.

Yet if the city gives Whole Foods a garage they should do so for Sundance, or at the least build a sky-bridge from the VLT parking lot.

Thanks again, Sundance.

David Brendah, Eugene

 

PIMPING TOBACCO

What are you thinking? Are you thinking?

I'm referring to the advertising insert in the current issue (3/2) of EugeneWeekly. Just because it's "additive free" and "earth-friendly" doesn't make American Spirit cigarettes any more socially or otherwise acceptable than the worst corporate brand of smokes, that is unless people can think of a use for them other than smoking! It's shocking to see a self-labeled progressive voice blandly pimping itself for tobacco. Not to mention the sex advertisements in the back pages that have become increasingly blatant and degrading.

With these decisions, you are effectively advertising the low regard you have for human health and dignity, not much of a progressive message to be sending your readers. Do us a favor and start charging 50 cents an issue instead of providing a "free" product that is so ethically compromised.

Jennifer Rowan, Eugene

 

BUNCH OF WUSSIES

Q: Why did Cheney get to wait so long to be interviewed by authorities after the shooting?

A: Even though the Secret Service called the sheriff about an hour after the shooting, the sheriff stated the deputy sent to investigate was turned away at the gate to the "estate." This way all would pass blood-alcohol tests and get their stories straight. Just one beer, Dickie? I wonder what Judge Judy would say.

Q: Why did the Bush /Dubai deal go through bypassing the Congress?

A: Because the Bushes have used their influencing peddling and strong alliances with the Saudi royal family to make their fortunes dating back to 1920 — not real work like "real Americans." The profound slap in W's face by Congress will certainly cut his "sale price" after he leaves the Presidency

Q: Why do Lane County schools shut down when there is only a few inches of slushy snow on the ground (LCC and UO stayed open and parents drove to work and kids go to the malls, etc.) but the pioneer history of this area is brought up ad nauseaum all the time — especially when it can be exploited for some profit-oriented activity. Even my 15 year-old dog with a serious heart condition and arthritis walked 600 feet to poop in the snow!

A: Because Lane County is a bunch of hypocritical whining wussy little sissies who would make their pioneer ancestors call them "Californians!"

L. Michael Adler , Creswell

 

MAKE 'EM PAY

Neglect. Dereliction of duty. Ineptitude. Fraud. Enron? Bush? Hell no. Those are the thoughts that cross my mind when I think about how our civic leaders have utterly failed at their responsibility of keeping our city streets repaired. For years, our city councilors have consciously chosen to spend entrusted road funds on bike paths, trees and who knows what, rather than street repairs.

Now we are faced with a $100 million street repair backlog which could possibly run to $200 million before the spin cycle gets done. After slapping a 5 cents per gallon city gas tax on top of the 44 cents that we already pay to the feds and the state, I think it's time for the civic pickpockets to reach out and touch someone else's wallet.

Who, you say? LTD bus riders. Except for studded tires, automobiles do little, if any damage to streets, and car owners already pay their share via myriad taxes. LTD buses weigh 10-20 times that of an average automobile, and Physics 201 will tell you that road damage from buses is logarithmic compared to cars. Yet they pay nothing, nada, zilch.

According to the LTD website http://ltd.org/about/history.html the average fare paid is only 59 cents. Based on rider counts, doubling this revenue would generate the $5 million annually that Eugene city councilors are seeking for road repairs.

It's time for LTD riders to buck up like the rest of us.

Don Richey, Eugene

 

GOOD CAUSE NO DEFENSE

In reply to Principal Joseph Alsop's letter (3/1), the question put before the Oregon Tax Court was quite simple, very important and also very timely.

The question was: Does the Oregon Constitution mean what it says, or is the city of Eugene (or other government bodies) at liberty to willfully disregard and try to manipulate stipulations that are part of the Oregon Constitution because the funds raised may go to what is deemed by city voters to be a good cause?

The Constitution was amended through Measure 5 by a statewide vote of the people of Oregon. The loss of program funds which Mr. Alsop laments is a result of the city of Eugene, 4J and Bethel, in reaction to the unwelcome passage of Measure 5, putting forth a local levy which they should have known was unconstitutional and may have thought might go unchallenged. It is interesting that Mr. Klein now feels that the city of Eugene, 4J and Bethel should be justified in retaining funds which were apparently obtained unconstitutionally.

Mr. Alsop's attack on Mr. Urhausen's motives is uninformed and is also quite simply misdirected. If the city of Eugene, 4J and Bethel want to raise funds, this should be done both competently and in absolute compliance with the Constitution. Any "rejoicing" is simply because constitutional government in this state has, to this point, been upheld, and is not because of the loss of any programs.

Nationally, it seems we also have politicians and bureaucrats who also feel similarly at liberty to disregard parts of the U.S. Constitution in reaction to this country's present circumstances. They justify this disregard as being done for a good cause.

John McVickar, Eugene