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Letters to the Editor: 9-5-2013

FESTIVAL A LABOR OF LOVE

Bringing a world-class event like the Kaleidoscope Music Festival to Lane County has been a labor of love for OneEleven Music. We’re local people committed to our local community. 

The first year for any music festival, especially in a new venue, is bound to have bumps. We expected that and worked to accommodate concerns in advance and will continue to improve. 

Festival management and security was of the highest possible caliber and dealt quickly and professionally with the small number of issues that arose during the three-day event.

Emerald Meadows is a beautiful venue — what was once low-quality pastureland is now a stunning backdrop for all attendees to appreciate. Those who attended had great things to say about the festival, the management, the music and the overall experience. 

We understand the noise concerns, especially from those closest to the park. We are exploring all ideas to ensure that we find solutions. We’ve already made arrangements to bring industry-leading sound engineers to help us understand how sound travels in and away from the park. We will be adjusting the position of the performance stages and determining the feasibility of sound barriers in key areas to bring the volume to acceptable levels.

We’re committed to doing this right. We value our partnership with Lane County Parks and are grateful for the support of community members and county commissioners. 

Nearly 9,000 attendees enjoyed the festival this year, bringing needed dollars to our community. And we’re looking forward to another well-attended event next year.

Jason Lear, COO, OneEleven Music, Eugene

 

GRINDING TO THE BASS

I am a UO student who attended the Kaleidoscope Festival. I have some feedback that I’d like to share. 

I heard debate for weeks leading up to Kaleidoscope about whether or not the large bass music festival could even be pulled off. Situated in Eugene’s backyard, many of us were skeptical about the newness of the venue and the proximity to the local culture. Bass kids can be a notorious group of hellions, and it was speculated that 10,000 to 15,000 may be attending. I am well versed in both the festival scene and the bass music genre, and I can say that it was a good experience overall, although there were some glitches that could definitely be smoothed over. 

Any event in its first year though is going to encounter some unexpected wrenches in the gears. The security was a major issue throughout the weekend. The checks of the cars, bags and clothes were extremely inconsistent, and the seeming ineptitude bred a lot of resentment among the attendees. Also, I hope that they provide better restroom accommodations in future years. There have been enough festivals in past years to provide accurate restroom-to-attendee number crunching. The limited number of portable restrooms coupled with a very young crowd notorious for late-night, drug-induced, bathroom-soiling customs culminated in a foul experience on both Friday and Saturday night. 

I’d like to see better recycling and circulation of schedules and maps in future years as well. Aside from these minor adjustments though, I want to say thank you for a great weekend, Kaleidoscope, and I hope that you iron out the wrinkles so that we can all continue grinding to the bass for years to come. 

April Wicklund, Eugene

 

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL

It’s back-to-school time. As Eugene students and teachers prepare for the start of the new school year, they will be facing some unprecedented challenges. Eugene students are facing one of the shortest school years ever, 166 instructional days. When I retired from teaching eight years ago, students went to school 181 days. That’s three weeks longer than the upcoming year. All the research points to the need for a longer school year and many states are moving in that direction.

Students will not only go to school fewer days but they will also be in some of the largest class sizes in the country. Oregon schools have the third-largest class sizes in the country. Only California and Utah have larger classes. 

Students and teachers will also be facing two new state mandates that will dramatically change the way schools function. One of them is a new grading system (proficiency-based assessment) where students are only graded on skill proficiency. Participation in class, homework and turning in work on time cannot be taken into consideration when giving a grade to a student. 

The other mandate is a new evaluation system for teachers, which will include judging teacher performance by students’ performance on standardized tests.

Public education is being set up for failure. Our children and their teachers are paying the price. It’s time for our community to stand up for the children and demand that the state find a better way of funding our children’s education. 

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene

 

HINDERING THE HOMELESS

The city of Eugene’s assault on the homeless has continued and gone beyond the typical harassing. The [downtown public] library, one of the only places in Eugene that has been historically supportive of the homeless, instituted a new policy cutting the computer use time to less than half its prior limit — unless you are wealthy enough to afford the $3 an hour for more time. 

The largest single demographic that uses the library’s computers is the homeless. We use it for job searching, communicating (Facebook is the only means of this for many) with our loved ones and for simple escape from our situations. Yes, the library has recently cut the time from 10 hours a day to 3.3 hours on computers that rarely work as they are supposed to and that will not allow you to open many applications for work and volunteering. Also, there is no way to be sure the loved ones we try to contact will be online in the short time allowed for computer use. 

The justification for this change was that they wished to cut down on wait times for computers — wait times that were highly reasonable to begin with. Since then, there have been a growing number of computers that sit idle. Today at 10:15 am when my friend and I arrived at the library, 25 of the 38 computers were available, and no one at the reservation computer was preparing to use them. An hour later, there were still 12 of them available. This has become a common occurrence. The library would rather no one use its computers than have the homeless use them. They have denied that this is aimed at the homeless, but when you consider that those with money can purchase more time, it tends to counter their words.

 The city has a long history of harassing the homeless and trying to push us out of the public eye, and this is simply the latest in the long line of these attempts.

Jeremy Lawrence, Eugene

 

LIVE AND LEARN

Live and learn [Living Out column, 8/29]. I guess I should make sure my auto mechanic is a heterosexual male, rather than just considering competence, courtesy and reasonable pricing.

Dick Ricketts, Eugene

 

DISCIPLINING SYRIA

Who should lead the way in Syria? Not the U.S., but Britain and France, who created the mess that we call the Middle East. The sectarian violence we see in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are only part of the disservice these nations implemented in order to control the natural resources of the region.

Also, how can the U.S. condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria when our military used Agent Orange in Vietnam? Also, the mines we planted in Southeast Asia still cause bodily harm to civilians.

Vietnam was a civil war and so is Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. Let the U.S. stop being big brother and offer, along with the U.N., to work out a compromise. We are bogged down in Afghanistan and the dysfunctional system we call Iraq. 

Do Obama and company think that Iran will look the other way while we “discipline” Syria? Have we acknowledged the fallout in Pakistan from the war in Afghanistan and the decline of human rights in that nation?

Years ago, we worried about the domino effect in the communist sphere of influence. Are we on the brink to create a similar effect in the Middle East? Let’s consider the consequences of our actions before lobbing in the first cruise missile.

Vincenza Scarpaci, Eugene

 

PRIVATE HELP NEEDED

We ask the city and county to fix everything. Why doesn’t some resident of means buy land that the city could identify first, donate it to some charity like St. Vincent de Paul for a fat tax break, then turn to the city or county for help in developing it into a campground?

Why couldn’t the public pitch in for waste boxes and compost toilets with the city providing design, insurance and site construction, with a nonprofit managing it to keep down costs. Why is it that providing something so minimal is so complicated? The act of clearing parks and open space is understandable but is also in effect telling people they cannot even live like animals in the brush.

Maybe the city and county hope they will all pack up and move to Portland.

Gwen Heineman, Eugene

 

THE RIGHT TO SLEEP

Where does the buck stop when it comes to the issue of the homeless, notably where they can sleep at night? Why is this still an issue? We live in an area with vast expanses of land. We learned last year that starting a homeless camp within the city limits doesn’t work. Now I hear talk about Opportunity Village. I Googled this and it looks great, but it doesn’t look like the solution to the problem — not even close. It says the village will have up to 30 shelters for singles and couples. 

I know how important my bed is to me, my sanity and ability to function during the day. How exhausted would anyone be after spending the day moving about, killing time? If any living thing is born to this Earth, it has the right to lie down and go to sleep. 

Is the issue that people want to congregate and sleep in groups? Is the issue that they don’t pack up and move on during the day? Is it a lack of facilities? The trash they leave? Don’t they have legal rights? Do they have legal aid to inform them of what those rights are? 

I cannot believe that in a city like Eugene, where people are bright and educated and live relatively well, that someone can’t come up with a plan. How about a sleeping camp with showers and toilets, trash cans and allotted camping spaces? People who want to stay during the day can if they work on upkeep for the camp. We can’t keep forcing people to “move on” when they are trying to sleep.  

 N.L. Bell, Eugene

 

MISGUIDED EFFORTS 

Can you hear the doorbell ringing? Have you heard the good news? I’m not peddling religion, but I am here to tell you about a come-to-Jesus moment for anyone who gives a damn about the environment. And the vast majority of Oregonians do.

Congressman Peter DeFazio, along with co-sponsors Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden, has pushed legislation through his committee that will create an “O&C timber trust” virtually privatizing 1.6 million acres of federal public forestland in western Oregon. It is now heading for a vote in the GOP-dominated House where it will surely pass. And Sen. Ron Wyden is in hot pursuit with his own legislation intended to clearcut its way through our public forestland to maximize revenue for Oregon counties.

These misguided efforts are scientifically wrong, economically wrong and they are morally and ethically outrageous. Our public lands give us clean air and water, habitat for wildlife, carbon storage to help mitigate climate change and the beauty that brings people to western Oregon. These natural bounties surely exceed the value of the 5,500 jobs that clearcutting 1.6 million acres of our public forests might bring over the next 85 years it will take to re-grow them. By comparison, the rest of Oregon’s economy is generating that many jobs every five weeks.

Our politicians may believe that getting anything passed through the right-wing-dominated Legislature is a good thing, and they may hope to pick up some conservative money and votes with this legislation. They are confusing compromise with capitulation, and they will lose conservatives like me who give money and vote to conserve the environment.

So what’s the good news? A global warming tsunami of opposition can stop this legislative madness in its tracks. Call, write, donate, educate, demonstrate, go sit in a tree. It all counts. As Woody Guthrie sang: “This land is your land, this land is my land ... this land was made for you and me.” Let’s all get busy.

 Benton Elliott, Eugene

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME

I was glad to learn that the city is now considering permitting electric assist bikes on off-street paths, so older folks who need them can enjoy riding up the beautiful river bank paths.

I never understood why the city initially prohibited them, while at the same time a few years ago it permitted the electric assist bike-rickshaws to operate on the paths. 

Was it because the city could charge the rickshaw operators a permit fee?

 Martin Henner, Eugene

 

ON GOLDEN RICE 

In reference to the recent letters about genetically engineered Golden Rice: This particular crop is highlighted by proponents of genetic engineering as one of the saving graces of humanity, as this rice is “enhanced” with Vitamin A that supposedly saves millions of starving children from blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency. 

Looking a bit deeper at the problem of Vitamin A deficiency in rice-growing regions, it is clear that the conversion of traditional, small-scale agricultural systems based on diverse polycultures, which include many fruits, vegetables and animal products (which contain ample Vitamin A), into large-scale, commodity-driven corporate rice monocultures is at the root of this crisis. Many debt-ridden farmers in this region are driven to produce more rice for export in place of other, more diverse crops that would easily satisfy their nutritional requirements for Vitamin A. Thus, they have only rice to eat, and Vitamin A deficiency becomes a problem. 

Golden Rice, however, is not a solution to this problem, and the corporations that own and distribute this technology do not have humanitarian aid in mind. A real solution necessitates a systemwide redesign, where farmers and communities maintain control of their land, seeds, crop choices and local economies which will yield thriving, healthy land and people everywhere on the planet.

Tao Orion, Cottage Grove

 

IMMORAL PROPOSAL

President Obama now seeks congressional approval for a military strike against Syria. Congress should save us and the president from this proposed folly by declining to authorize it. The U.S. and its allies should refrain from attacking Syria and instead promote a durable ceasefire and a political solution. 

 Assuming chemical weapons were used in Syria last month, who used them will likely remain unclear. Carla del Ponte, former Swiss war crimes prosecutor and a member of a UN commission of inquiry on Syria, said last June in an interview with Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI that, “According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas.” 

 An attack on Syria without U.N. authorization would in any case be a clear violation of international law. It would also be ill-advised, hypocritical, and deeply immoral.

 As a senior British military commander told the Financial Times [8/29], “The idea that the west can neatly restrict any attack to a short duration punishment with the limits drawn exclusively by us is naïve in the extreme.”

If the president is really upset by the use of chemical weapons, perhaps he could arrange compensation for the victims of U.S. use of other internationally condemned weapons of war, such as cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Agent Orange in Vietnam. 

For more on these issues, see “Killing Civilians to Protect Civilians” by law professor Marjorie Cohn and attorney Jeanne Mirer at http://wkly.ws/1jk.

Robert Roth, Eugene

 

PUT AN END TO WAR

Should we bomb Syria ? It’s not no! It’s bloody hell no!

Trust the government? Trust the media ? Give me a break. Trust the same mindset that sold us WMDs in Iraq; and the Bible/ Contra/ Iraqi/ Hussein covert movement of illegal weapons; and the breaking of international law in mining the Nicaragua harbor (imagine if an outside country mined the New York harbor); and the lies about the Gulf of Tonkin; and the lies about bombing Cambodia; and the CIA-backed coup to oust a democratically elected government in Iran; and installing and supporting dictators and despots worldwide (Marcos, Batista, Noriega, Hussein, the Shah of Iran, et. al.), and how Nixon and Kissinger and the banks and their ilk subverted the peace talks in Vietnam and extended the war so Nixon could be reelected — and on and on and on ad nausea. Same old tactics, same old pitch, same old lies.

Less than five years ago, John Kerry was sitting down to a fancy five star meal with our friend Bashar al-Assad. Today Kerry sells us an Assad who has morphed into a Hitler-like monster.

And now this administration wants to bomb Syria and the people who live there, in their own country. People! Not civilians, not collateral damage, not victims, not bystanders, not body count. People. Mentally, physically emotionally, spiritually and intellectually body-mind-soul, mothers, fathers, children, teens, youngsters, babies, nephews, uncles, aunts, nieces, grand/grandest/great mother, father, sister, brother. 

We are not the policemen of the world but we are very close to becoming a police state. Remember: corporate run government is fascism. War for profit is a criminal sin.

We need to put an end to war. Period.

Sarah Ruth, Eugene

 

FREE AT LAST

I completely agree with Edward Newland’s website letter “MLK and Animals” [8/29].

A lot has changed in the 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the crowd in Washington, D.C. But a lot has stayed the same. Many people still turn a blind eye to — and participate in — the things that King decried: oppression, subjugation and abuse. 

In addition to continuing human rights injustices around the world, other species are also often treated as if they are beneath contempt. Circuses keep elephants in chains for as many as 100 straight hours. Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated to make them produce milk, and their babies are taken away within a day of being born. Animals who are killed for their fur are electrocuted, hanged, bludgeoned or even skinned alive. Rabbits are held down while chemicals are dripped into their eyes so experimenters can measure how long it takes to burn away their corneas.

Like many leaders of the civil rights movement, King’s widow Coretta Scott King, his son Dexter Scott King and his friend Rosa Parks, all knew that in order to advocate for an end to injustice, they had to stop being unjust to all living beings—and that included animals. Rosa Parks went vegetarian, and Coretta and Dexter Scott King went vegan.

MLK dreamed about the end of injustice. It is the duty of everyone who believes in his message of hope to continue the work he started. We have to be brave. We have to be daring. We have to fight cruelty in all its forms until every one of us is, as King dreamed, “free at last.”

Curtis Taylor, Eugene