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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 03.30.06

DELUGES OF GRANDEUR

As a resident of the Lake Creek area, I want to thank you for your informative article (3/16) about the so-called "Pitchfork Rebellion" in our curious valley.

While your reporter Kera Abraham uncovered several hot items for the story, there are some interesting things that were missed.

First, this valley is diversely populated, although in somewhat distinct neighborhoods. Of course you have the Swiss loggers to the west (around Swisshome, naturally). Then there's the gay cowpersons around Deadwood. Moving farther east, in the Greenleaf area there are the rebellious pitchfork-wielding Hobbit people that your reporter captured on film and in quotes. Even further east, around Triangle Lake (Lago Triangelo, perhaps?) are the Italian farmers. And, interspersed among us, let's not forget the Ancient Ones and their descendents, who have been logging (gasp!), ranching, and farming this land, some for around 150 years.

Second, this valley, and the Coast Range, averages more than 100 inches of rainfall per year, twice that of the Willamette Valley, mostly natural orographic rainfall, but also somewhat due to the Swiss loggers in their helicopters seeding the clouds. Yep, they are conducting ethnic warfare up there, trying to wash the rest of us out. It can really flat out pour down around here, sometimes for many hours at a stretch.

These frequent deluges wash the hillsides, both clearcut and forested, down upon us. The deluges also wash the herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, biological warfare agents, and everything else down the river and into the sea (or into the water table, of course).

Third, in this valley, at least, the deer, elk, black bear, coyote, cougars and the two-headed bobcats have us "smart" monkeys outnumbered. Who knows what they think about the helicopters and the spray? They aren't talking to us about it, at least.

Yep, it's quite a place to live, what with the Italian Farmers singing their folk songs in their native tongue whenever they gather up at the Grange hall, and as they work the fields. Up in the hills, you can occasionally hear the echoes of the lederhosen-clad loggers yodeling, although the helicopters tend to drown them out. And those helicopters are often overhead, as they do their spraying and strafing runs, also occasionally bombing us with holy cheese and cuckoo clocks. Of course, the Hobbit people are always loudly carrying on about something, and them color-coordinated Deadwood folks know how to party (and redecorate!) as well. The Ancient Ones seem to quietly keep to themselves, probably wondering who is going to move into the valley next.

Well, I hear the helicopters again, I better take cover. I hope to meet your reporter at one of our many roadside fightclub bars — I have more stories to tell.

P.S. My wife and I want to let you know that we are still happily married, 15 years after I answered her ad in your quaint little rag. Amazing to me, she is still putting up with my sense of humor, as well as this strange valley we call home.

Mark Gross, Blachly

 

FUNDING THE GARAGE

You too may find yourself on the side of the opposition if you knew how council intends to fund the car house. The council is diverting: $250,000 from storm water funds, $400,000 from riparian funds, $475,000 from library funds, $5,035,000 urban renewal funds, $1,035,000 facility replacement funds, for a $7,195,000 total, and that's not where it stops.

There is to be a 2006 bond measure for the library, so why will they sacrifice these funds? Council just raised the storm drain fee a meager 30 cents for stream corridor acquisition and now they are already looking at diverting these funds to the garage. Council is planning to put a 2008 bond measure on the ballot to pay for a new City Hall. Shouldn't they be directing the more than $6 million of urban renewal and facility replacement funds towards the City Hall project? The taxpaying citizens of Eugene are not a bottomless pit for funding resources. Next time you open up your ballot to vote on a new levy, find out where the money actually went the last time you supported a levy.

In the few days after the controversial decision to squander our public funds on this beast, I was in a state of shock and disbelief. It was no surprise that Poling, Solomon and Pryor supported this thing, but our so called progressive Mayor Piercy? I was starting to think she was Torrey in woman's clothing. And what happened to Kelly and Ortiz?

Lisa Warnes, Eugene

 

COST OF LIVING

I recently read in the R-G, with rising interest, that EWEB is considering another rate increase; one of the chief motivators reads to be reduced water usage. Hey! It looks like conserving those precious resources is finally paying off — paying EWEB, in any case. If there's a drought, they raise the rates. If there's too much water, they raise the rates! Where can I get a job like that?

"Cost of living" increases don't wash, either. Do we, the little guys, get cheaper gas, food, utilities? Cost of living applies across the board. Not everyone gets a cost of living pay increase, or any pay raise at all. In fact those who have regular paying jobs are considered to be fortunate to have that. Enough whining — we're all getting bit. Maybe EWEB should get off the "conserve" wagon, and head for "we're going to charge what we want, and you can suck it up."

Possibly the ideal is to tax the common wage-earner out of Eugene, and leave the rich! But where'd the service class go? Oopsie! Mistakes were made.

Need I (albeit unrelatedly) mention subsidizing a parking ramp for a national company? When did that work out last? Symantec? It's all good old American greed, and I wish I had a constituency I could raise the rates and/or taxes on — that week in Cabo is looking pretty good to me about now. (Ice-cold Pacificos and carnitas on the beach? Aah!)

Jim Carpenter, Eugene

 

PAVE PARADISE

I was curious, as I drove to work, about all of the tree trimming along Oakway. I imagined there was some pruning going on to keep and preserve those lovely old trees. What I shock I had as I drove home and witnessed stump after stump where once stood magnificent, mature oak trees — trees that were there long before the mall or the street that took their names from these trees. Now some committee or other has deemed them a nuisance. Where does it end?

I'm reminded of my cousin in the San Fernando Valley who justified the cutting down of the glorious eucalyptus trees alongside her house because they were "dirty trees." Don't those who made the decision to cut these trees recognize the value of mature trees in an urban landscape? Are they penny wise and dollar foolish? I never paid a lot of attention to those great trees. They were always just there, like our parents when we're young. We don't realize how much we'll miss them until they're gone. Joni Mitchell was addressing these Eugene Stumpsters when she sang, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. They've paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I want to urge those in charge of such matters that they would serve us all a little better if they went the extra mile and figured out a way to keep the streets, sidewalk and the trees.

Bobbie Cirel, Eugene

 

LOW PRIORITY

As a community member over the last 13 years I have been a domestic violence advocate and batterer interventionist. I was very alarmed to hear that state funding is not paying for the supervision of domestic violence misdemeanors. How can this community, Lane County, place the battering of a person at such a low level of importance? A probation officer is a barrier in the link between offender and victim; probation officers interrupt the link before it escalates to violence again. In addition, probation officers are the link between offender accountability and victim safety. Probation officers are the ones who are called by survivors, family, friends, and other community members. Without supervised probation, who would you call, the judge?

Unequivocally, supervised probation can prevent further abuse or another murder. None of us can afford to be silent about the lack of funding for supervision of domestic violence misdemeanors. We, our community, cannot expect probation officers to continue to supervise these cases unfunded. A coordinated response must includes women's shelters, law enforcement, city and county jails, prosecutors, criminal and civil courts, probation, batterer intervention, media and community members! If just one component is missing, the survivors and offenders fall through the gap.

Moreover, falling through that gap may look like the serious injuries and murders our community as incurred over the past two years.

Teri Gutierrez, Eugene

 

PROUD TO SERVE

Stupid soldiers? Dr. J.K. Larkin (Viewpoint, 3/16), I am neither stupid nor poor, have a bachelor's degree, and was an active duty Army soldier and Oregon Guardsman. Most recently I was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am proud of my military service and in doing so have worked with some of the finest citizen soldiers in Oregon. Poor, rich, smart, degrees, no degrees, married or single; these ladies and gentlemen have done their duty and completed their missions at the sacrifice to themselves and their families.

So to you Mr. Larkin I have this to say: Thank you, sir. You're welcome, sir. Thank you for demonstrating what a wonderful country that we live in. For showing everyone that you have the right to say whatever it is that you feel and think, knowing that you will not be arrested, thrown in jail, or killed. You're welcome. I was proud and happy to serve with all the veterans of the U.S. Army and the Oregon Army National Guard to protect and preserve that right.

Secondly, to Mr. Richey (3/16) whose logic is rather flawed. He believes that LTD riders should pick up the cost of city road repairs. Forget Physics 201. Let's do some basic numbers first. Let's say all of the citizens of Eugene own and drive a car daily — about 120,000 cars. At peak times there are an average of 95 buses on the roads. Yes, buses weigh more, but the sheer numbers of cars do the damage. Oh, and buses only drive certain routes on certain roads so how are the buses causing all the damage if you say automobiles do little, if any, damage to streets?

And taxes? I'm pretty sure LTD paid taxes on the $1.5 million in fuel costs last year. So cut the riders a break and keep the fares down. Besides, based on rider counts, that's an average of 13,000 cars off the road and that's all right with me. The way I figure, we're all a little better off if a lot more people rode the bus.

Jeramy Card, Springfield

 

BRING IT INDOORS

With a heavy heart I attended the city's sponsored brainstorming session March 15 on marketing Eugene as the World's Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors. Ironically, our local farmers are a testament to Lane County's standing of having the world's greatest outdoors! Let's build these jewels a crown, an indoor, year-round Farmers' Market, a move that proved very financially successful for Olympia, Wash:

"In one single year the farmers' market in Olympia, Wash., went from $100,000 in sales to $2.3 million by building a permanent structure for their [farmers'] market," (EW cover story, 08/19/04).

Such a development would match the city's desire to showcase its outdoors and exhibit itself as engaging in environmentally sustainable practices (of which the public gave the city an abysmal 3 out of 5 rating in the 2004 Community Snapshot). Fifty-three percent of respondents of the Snapshot surveys rate that the city's engagement in environmentally sustainable practices is very important to the public.

The 2004 Community Snapshot also reports 86 percent of the respondents believe the city government "should take an active roll in helping local businesses create and retain jobs." This sentiment to support local business rises above the issues of helping outside companies come to Eugene, and above the giving away of tax incentives.

Will Whole Foods stock local food products for a reduced stocking fee? Will WF abundantly stock our local produce? Will the omni-presence of WF squash our Saturday and Tuesday Farmers' Market? Only time and the perpetually mum Whole Foods Corporation will tell.

Jocelyn McAuley, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: One of our readers passed on an e-mail received from Steve Papegaay, store team leader of Whole Foods in Portland, saying, "It just would not make sense for us to build a store in the heart of the Willamette Valley and not carry the incredible produce it provides. We are very excited about our store in Eugene and the store will be totally committed to the local producer and customer."

 

JUSTICE MISSING

The administration's budget proposals are not about peace or security. Peace occurs when justice is present, and justice is only created by non-violent means, such as the SMART Security approach that focuses on sensible, multilateral, U.S. responses to the escalating violence in the world, or the Department of Peace legislation which has 63 co-sponsors, including Rep. Peter DeFazio.

Albert Einstein said that you cannot simultaneously prepare for war and for peace. A Republican president and Army general, Eisenhower, said that every weapon we make robs food from the mouths of hungry children. How can anyone sanction what the president is doing? How can he justify the cost-effectiveness of creating more violence?

The president is driven by fear, which is a weakness. He thinks that military muscle is the answer for security. Violence is not power, violence is a weakness. It is a tool of cowards and bullies. It does not create control, it releases chaos. The weak come forward with a clenched fist — the strong with an open hand.

Sens. Wyden and Smith and Rep. DeFazio must take the responsibility to pull the purse strings on the administration's accelerating militarism which threatens not only our security, but our very survival as a species on this planet. I wonder if they understand that? I wonder if they are willing to do anything about it?

David Hazen , Eugene

 

CRITICAL MESS

Critical Mass does little to further a positive image of bicycling in Eugene. I think it's a great concept, community bicycle rides showing support for practical transportation, bicycle lanes, and freedom from oil. When I rode at Critical Mass in Eugene this is not what I saw. The focal point becomes willingness to run red lights as the mob on wheels asserts right of way in front of death machines (automobiles).

The police have legitimate concern. What if a motorist with a green light kills a straggling bicyclist or swerves into a pedestrian? There would be medical bills, insurance struggles, and psychological distress for everyone involved. Insurance companies would most likely sue the police department for knowing in advance about this heinous risk to life and not acting.

Even though Critical Mass has a great cause, breaking the law in a way that critically endangers yourself and others is both irresponsible and violent. It's no surprise that police give out tickets and "knock down" bicyclists as motorists call 911. For the future of these community bike rides, basic safety will be a focus, either enforced by police or advocated by responsible cyclists. A partnership with the police can be worked out, but you can't expect it to just materialize among violent disregard for human life.

Michael Cleaver , Eugene

 

A POOR FIT

I've lived in Eugene for all 17 years of my life. I grew up at the Saturday Market and Country Fair, and as I've grown I've been blessed with local businesses like Cozmic Pizza and Sundance. I'm also the daughter of George Smallman, owner of the Keystone Café. I've seen personally how local businesses benefit both consumers and the families involved. I've watched my dad establish lasting relationships with local producers such as Nancy's, Red Barn and Veggies on the Run, and have observed how keeping our economy local has been to the advantage to all participating parties. The Whole Foods project endangers this way of life.

Eugene has an agglomeration of local businesses that work to provide consumers with the best local products available. Businesses like Sundance, The Kiva, New Frontier and The Red Barn work to benefit real people in the Eugene community. These businesses have positive externalities that transcend the obvious. When I was younger, my parents were able to pick me up from school when I was sick, spend time with me when I had adolescent problems, and allowed me to be a part of the community they worked in.

The issue with the Whole Foods project is not the food they would be selling. I, like any other socially responsible individual, am excited by the idea of a store that sells organic food and natural products. The problem is the invitation of a big corporation into our unique community and the implications it will have on the surrounding area. The parking garage alone will promote more downtown traffic, frivolous slates of concrete, and is a poor and unnecessary use of space.

It's also a violation by the city staff of an unspoken Eugene philosophy. Eugene is a unique, progressive town. Subsidizing a big corporation to develop here strips Eugene of its authenticity and takes us one step closer to being any other city in the U.S. The city staff should instead support the local businesses already in existence.

This is about preserving our uniqueness. This is about supporting our local economy. This is about ensuring that local families, like mine, continue to benefit from local, amiable partnerships and are not threatened by corporations' competitiveness. We are a town of activists, and here is a cause that needs an ample amount of support. Support our local economy, not the Whole Foods project.

Kyra Rose Buckley, Eugene

 

CHANGE CONGRESS

As good as it was to be with many hundreds of my fellow residents demonstrating our opposition to the war on Iraq and for taking back America, and as encouraging as the fact that, in this time of public apathy, we turned out nearly as many people as L.A. or N.Y., I feel obliged to conclude, with Rep. Peter DeFazio, that the only way forward is through electoral politics.

Much as I dislike the inevitable hypocrisies and ego-inflated campaign organizations, changing the majority in the U.S. House and/or Senate is the necessary precondition for all the other changes we need, necessary but not sufficient.

The active community organizing and incisive humor of groups such as CodePink and WAND, engaging and educating the folks in the middle, is what will make the difference. And it's equally important to get involved in the initiative issues. "Taking back America" means the accomplishment of a whole slew of reforms — health care, immigration policies, campaign financing, restoration of social services savaged by the federal and state fiscal and moral bankruptcy, and more.

There's plenty for anyone to choose among. All the initiative campaigns need all the help they can get. So, just do something.

Paul Prensky, Eugene

 

BETTER TOBACCO

This letter is in reply to Jennifer Rowan's letter (3/16) complaining about EW inserting advertising on American Spirit tobacco. I would like to enlighten a few people on some little-known facts.

Let me state up front that I detest tobacco and smoking. I do not smoke and never have. I would be very happy if everyone quit! The secondhand smoke is unhealthy, stinky and problematic, especially for allergic individuals such as myself.

American Spirit cigarettes are mainly additive-free. This means they contain far less chemical substances than most tobaccos. Not only are they easier on the lungs of the smoker, they are also less harsh for the lungs of someone who is not a smoker.

I used to work in a small office with one smoker and one other non-smoker. This smoker would chainsmoke on his way to work in the closed space of his car. When he came into the office, he reeked so badly of smoke and chemicals that I would choke up and start sneezing, and my other non-smoking co-worker would cough and leave the office. We were hopeful that he would at least switch to American Spirit, but he preferred the "kick" he got from chemical-laden cigarettes. I have sat next to many smokers who were puffing on American Spirit and have not had the reactions that I get from breathing mainstream cigarettes.

So, I was decidedly overjoyed when I saw the American Spirit ad in EW. Maybe it will encourage smokers to try that brand of tobacco.

And, in answer to Jennifer's other question about whether there are any other uses of tobacco besides smoking: Yes, there are. Most Native Americans use loose tobacco in a ceremonial way, without burning or smoking it. It is a very important part of their culture. There are also other herbal uses of the tobacco; such as a poultice for insect bites.

I do not pass judgement on EW for advertising American Spirit — I applaud them for it!

Deb McManman, Eugene