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Letters to the Editor: 9-12-2013

FROM THE MAYOR

Our wetlands are an incredible community asset. They’re a wildlife resource, home to thousands of waterfowl and other birds, rare and endangered wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians. 

• They’re a clean water resource, filtering out pollutants that flow into waterways from roads, parking lots and rooftops. 

• They’re an economic resource, storing water that might otherwise flood homes, schools and businesses, and they provide millions of dollars worth of flood protection. 

• They’re an educational resource, teaching about wetlands habitat and clean water in a hands-on way through the Willamette Resource and Education Network (WREN). 

• They’re a recreational resource, featuring miles of multi-use paths along Amazon Creek. If you enjoy biking, walking, roller-blading or observing nature, the West Eugene Wetlands are a great place to visit.

• They’re a national resource. This collaborative partnership, called the Rivers to Ridges Partnership, is a stellar model to other communities with dwindling wetlands due to overdevelopment leaving them vulnerable to devastating floods.

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the city of Eugene, the Bureau of Land Management and WREN celebrate National Public Lands Day through maintaining trails needed for access to the wetlands so visitors of all ages can come to experience dragonflies, butterflies, wildlife and the unique habitat and resources wetlands provide.

Please join me in celebrating the unique and thriving West Eugene Wetlands. Many hands make light work and this project will feel good from beginning to end. Families welcome! For more information contact the Eugene Park Stewards West Region volunteer coordinator at lorna.j.baldwin@ci.eugene.or.us or call 682-4845. 

Kitty Piercy, Mayor of Eugene

 

BANAL BUREAUCRATS

Eugene was once viewed as a progressive city. But no more. If any doubt remained following the $18 admission fee for our “community” celebration excluding the economically disadvantaged, the County Commission meeting Wednesday removed it. For 20 minutes community members spoke with thoughtfulness, care and passion about the Wayne Morse Plaza homelessness protest. One could hear their beating hearts. Commissioner Sorenson did his best to oppose collective punishment and defend the right to assemble, but all logic, law and care became drowned in a sump of lifeless bureaucratic babble from a parade of figures recognizable from the pages of a 19th-century Russian novel or Daumier cartoon.

Employees and visitors, we were told, complained of not “feeling safe” walking past the protesters. I wondered how safe they would feel living in tents. I’m sure the protesters could keep the upper terrace and north side cleared and provide courteous escorts if simply asked.

There was also much concern about bathroom functions in the absence of readily accessible bathrooms, supporting Freud’s theory about the developmental origins of obsessive-compulsive personality. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t recall any suggestion that the county provide them a portable toilet. I doubt it would break the county budget. Instead, they are forced to sue again, which will cost the county far more. Daily rental of a portable toilet plus sink with water costs less than one hour of attorney time.

No obstacle described could not be easily solved. Our local homeless are but the harbinger of much more to come as global overheating progressively devastates our economy. We will soon need leaders with far more than reptilian levels of empathy and imagination.

 Jack Dresser, Springfield

 

EXPENSIVE DIRT

$12,500 to clean up the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza because they need to change all the dirt?! I called Honey Bucket, spoke to a very helpful young woman there and found out that for $12,500, the county could have rented 138 Port-a-Potties for 30 days. That includes the one-time $50 pick up and delivery fee.

Peace in hard times.

Walker Ryan, Eugene

 

LET THEM SLEEP

As a resident of the River Road area and a taxpayer, I was happy to see folks setting up their tents on the corner of River Road and Northwest Expressway. Within a day Port-A-Potties appeared. I understand there is a screening process to stay there and that, yes, there are some problems, too.

If a crime is being committed then call the police. If it bothers people to see that others have to make different choices, then tolerate it. My neighbors spray pesticides and herbicides next to my organic garden, and I protested the Seneca biomass burning factory — both I have to tolerate.

Many of the folks who are homeless are working and contributing members of society but do not have the funds necessary to move into a place of their own. The Mission is filled to capacity every night.

People without shelter are not going to go away. The economy is not improving fast enough nor is the job market. Most folks without homes want it to be different and will work towards changing their situation. People need to be able to sleep at night and be safe so they can function. How can we expect individuals who are homeless and wanting to get ahead in their life to accomplish anything if they can’t get good sleep? Perhaps next time we pass someone in a tent let’s think of what a perfect opportunity it is to practice compassion, kindness, generosity and understanding.

Eva Kronen, Eugene

 

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSAULT

For a newspaper that usually supports environmental issues, EW certainly wandered off the trail in its commentary [Slant, 8/29] about Kaleidoscope, the recent three-day music event at Buford Park. EW claims the Lane County commissioners and The Register-Guard have complained more about the loud music than the acoustics of rock mining at Parvin Butte near Dexter. 

EW commented, “We don’t know about the county, but here at EW we have graver concerns over heavy mining than heavy base.” 

This is an attempt to dismiss the severity of the noise that assaulted residents in the Seavey Loop area as well as people who live as far away as the lower elevations of the Coburg Hills, Camp Creek and parts of Springfield. Let’s also not forget the frightened wild and domestic animals that must have been terribly disturbed. 

As one of the hundreds of the Dexter area residents who has endured morning, day-time and evening mining noise at Parvin Butte, I can well understand the anger of Seavey Loop farmers who must get up at 4 am to work after listening to the loud vibrations of electronic bass night and day. The majority of commissioners were just as guilty in their support of this outrageous event as they were their decision to allow Greg Demers and the McDougal Brothers to destroy Parvin Butte and let the neighbors suffer noise and dust. 

Lane County commissioners should be held accountable for not only Parvin Butte but also their violation of the Buford Park master plan and Willamette Greenway protections. 

John Bauguess, Dexter

 

BRIDGING THE GAP

Regarding “Dispatches from Kabul” [cover story, 8/29]: I come from a family of many military people. Five in the Navy, two in the Marine Corps and one Coast Guard.

I have a lot of compassion for those who have already served an enlistment and discharged honorably and then later get recalled to active duty. That seems really wrong to me.

On the other hand, for the 30 percent who are reservists or National Guard members, my sympathy evaporates. My question is, what did they think would happen? Why did they think they were in training?

Michael Mullen, (former) chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said civilians don’t know us (the military). And we don’t comprehend the full weight of the burden they carry or the price they pay when returning from battle. I think he makes a good point. So maybe Jake Klonoski can help bridge that gap.

 Lisa Tyler, Springfield

 

ON WAR AND PEACE

In response to Jake Klonoski’s article [8/29] on being in the military, I would like to remind him that the military teaches you how to kill. If you want to help people join the Peace Corps.

Chip Duyck, New York City

 

BLOCK PARTY SUCCESS 

The Whiteaker Block Party is a month past, but for those of us who organized the event, the work didn’t stop there. This year’s block party was a resounding success, bigger and better than ever. I would like to thank the 132 volunteers and 42 staff members who are the backbone of the WBP, without whom we couldn’t function. Also, thanks to our neighbors for being part of such an amazing neighborhood that continually inspires us and the rest of Eugene for showing some love for the Whiteaker and all the amazing things here. Further thanks are owed to the dozens of businesses who donated to our raffle.

The initial estimate we gave EW of $20,000 to put on the WBP was in line with the price tag for last year [Biz Beat, 8/15]. Now, with all the receipts and a final tally I can report that the block party actually doubled in price this year, to $40,000. This also provides an opportunity to clear up possible confusion about the WBP and how we operate.

Seven years ago we were just some friends who decided to celebrate our neighborhood. It has grown under the vision and leadership of Chris and Zoe Gadsby, and now we are a not-for-profit LLC that consists of four people who meet in our free time to organize. We have never made money from organizing it; we are year-round volunteers trying to constantly improve. That’s our philosophy; do it for free and get better. All of the bands within the official block party borders play for free.

To pay for this event, we raise a lot of money by networking with local businesses. Ninkasi is our largest sponsor, donating all their beer garden sales to the block party. There are also Eye Beam Event Services, Velvet Thunder Sound, EW, Cornerstone Glass, Blairally, Braun’s Apple Market, District Security, Health & Safety and Redoux Parlour to thank. Without all of these 100 percent locally owned businesses we couldn’t put together the infrastructure for pulling off the WBP. For all seven years of the WBP it has been organized by the same group of friends and sponsored by mostly the same local businesses.

We at the Whiteaker Block Party, LLC, are committed to maintaining our status as a completely free event that is entirely volunteer run. Next year, look for us to be better than ever, and if you are interested in participating somehow, feel free to contact us. Come enjoy the wonder of the Whit!

Jason Vanderhaar, Whiteaker Block Party secretary

 

DISGUSTING DUCKS

I am ashamed that I attended the UO, receiving a teaching certificate in 1991 — ashamed I was a fan. They paid an underrated team to humiliate for their personal glory and coached players from their “War Room” to be aggressive far beyond rational play. The head spike to a retreating quarterback borders on a criminal act with fellow players patting their teammate on the back. The Ducks should be banned from the NCAA for at least 10 years and the Athletic Department for life.

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

CRUDE WRITING

Thank you for printing Jonas Emery’s excellent satirical Viewpoint [“It’s a Crude World,” 8/22]. He hit the nail on the head, over and over, with his facts about our enmeshment with oil.

His essay is the best thing I’ve read in a long time about our dependence on oil.

Kim Wilbur, Roseburg

 

SEEKING INNER PEACE

The central theme and activities scheduled for our Sept. 21 “Peace Day Eugene” unfortunately fail to represent the range of Eugene’s peace activists.

This year’s stated activities — a product of the organizers’ vision — emphasizes the individual: “inner peace” (self-development, spirituality), and peaceful communication — issues extraneous to the U.N.’s mission, which, after all, wrote a charter prohibiting war and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to define conditions necessary to preserve world peace. The word “war” does not appear in the Peace Day plans, although “Impacts of War” is a featured topic on the U.N.’s International Day of Peace website. Nor is the role of law and human rights defense in the peace movement emphasized. The day’s lightweight theme seems a travesty of the U.N. mission. 

Many human rights-based groups that actively confront racism, injustice, mythical propaganda and are strongly committed to opposing war, empire and colonialism were excluded from planning and expanding the event’s theme. My suggestion for endorsement of the full UDHR as a basic requirement for participation was rejected, so some participating groups may not be UDHR-compliant.

Are potential participants vetted by undisclosed community gatekeepers — moderates “more devoted to order than to justice” as identified by MLK? It is offensive and borders on racism for members of a privileged group to decide the appropriateness of those who work as trusted representatives and allies of traditionally oppressed people. They could have been invited to plan and participate as they see fit rather than fitting someone’s “Kumbaya” vision. 

 Mariah Leung, Eugene

 

EWEB NOT LISTENING

I’ve been following the smart meter issue for quite some time, and it’s become clear to me that EWEB has been in favor of implementing the wireless meters from day one, often with very little concern for the potential health risks from chronic exposure to the meters. With increasing lawsuits, bans, protests and stories of smart-meter induced sickness, my question to EWEB is this: Is your bias to implement smart meters based purely on convenience, finances and a relentless pursuit for the most up-to-date metering gadget? 

EWEB’s decision is clearly not based on the voice of the people, or else they’d give pause and serious thought to pursuing safe metering technology: fiber optics, analog meters or radio-off meters.

Brian Bender, South Eugene

 

FAIR CONTRACTS

The UO is a state school, which means it receives state money for its functions, namely education. It is not free to students, a testament to our capitalist system. But because it is a state school, tuition should be relatively affordable. I say relatively because without one’s family’s help, one would have to go into debt to pay for the curriculum.

The money coming in and paid out should be evenly divided between the students, professors, graduate teaching fellows, staff and administrators. In the last year, the administrators increased their pay from 5 to 19 percent. Vice President for Finance Frances Dyke’s salary went up 5 percent, to $223,118. All this while the professors and staff barely keep up with inflation. The students, too, protested the proposed 5.8 percent tuition raise in fees.

The UO administrators, because of their role as distributors of funds, get to decide who gets what and they take advantage of this. They pay insufficient amounts to those who are not in a position to make waves. But we, the public, can cause a ruckus, and we should call what we see as the injustice and abuse that it is.

Public universities should serve the public, and that means providing a living wage to all university employees and a high-quality, affordable education to students. The public should demand that the UO give fair contracts to all its workers — faculty, graduate teaching fellows and classified staff — and implement an immediate tuition freeze.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

ABOUT THOSE BOXES

With art comes art criticism: The painted utility boxes ignore the features of the box itself. The patterns might expand out from the handle, from the ventilation slots — they might wrap around the corners. But no, the handles and slots are treated as if they were not there at all. But they ARE there, and ought to become part of the design.

Ralph Wombat, Eugene

 

BEYOND CHEMOPHOBIA

Although I too condemn the Phillipine rice crop destruction referenced by Jeff Holiday in his letter published 8/22/13, there are many good reasons why some people would be inspired to such an act, other than just “chemophobia.”

 And chemophobia is not even a good choice of wording, as most folks I know who oppose the use of poisons as a tool of food production are not subject to any irrational fear of chemicals per se, but are primarily concerned about the long-term build-up of toxic substances in our environment.

 The criticisms against the so-called Green Revolution are many: Genetically modified crops have unknown and unforeseeable effects on the natural habitat where they have been introduced; GM crops require increasing amounts of toxic chemicals (pesticides) to keep the crops in constant production; these crops must utilize chemical fertilizers (also in increasing amounts); it takes a lot more energy to farm these crops as they must be grown in an industrial manner to succeed; by introducing monoculture/industrial agriculture to these areas, “do-gooders” are ruining native soils and biodiversity (god knows we have done lots of this in the U.S.); and, because these crops require these inputs of seed and fertilizer, which must be purchased annually, the Green Revolution ends up lining the pockets of only the wealthier farmers and their distributors, while of course making billions of dollars for the multi-national corporations which manufacture the seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, oil, etc.

This is not sustainable agriculture, and it ruins productive soils in the long run. So-called Third World cultures need to be encouraged to produce their food on a small scale, locally and without hi-tech inputs (i.e., organically). If the world put the kind of money into sustainable agriculture that it does into military armaments, we could probably wipe out hunger in five years. Or less.

 Steven F. Salman, Springfield

 

A LETTER TO OBAMA

Dear Mr. President: Occupy Interfaith Eugene-Springfield, a coalition of people of faith and moral responsibility, urges you to not escalate the violence in Syria with U.S. military action. The facts are not all in, and “punishing” Syria is not the answer.

Rather than inflicting further carnage on the Syrian people, we urge you as past Nobel Peace laureate and as leader of the free world to pursue immediate and rigorous international diplomacy. Violence perpetuates violence, begetting a cycle of extreme physical and emotional damage that lasts for generations.

Rather than waging war abroad, we urge you, Mr. President, to apply yourself and our nation’s capital to the pressing matters at home: jobs for the long-term unemployed; a living wage for all workers; a strong social safety net to keep working Americans out of poverty; schools that actually work; low-income housing to keep destitute families off our nation’s streets; tax code and campaign finance reform; and immediate reversal of policies and corporate giveaways that continue to skew wealth and degrade our nation’s and the world’s resources.

Mr. President, war does not work. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We urge you to stand tall for the restraints and disciplines of peace abroad, and for a just and equitable society that serves the common good at home.

Patty Hine, Occupy Inter-Faith, Eugene/Springfield convener

 

DRUMS OF WAR

It feels like we are in Dick Cheney’s fourth term as Obama beats the drums of war pushing hard to strike Syria. And just like Iraq they don’t want to wait for the U.N. report to figure out which side used chemical weapons. The rest of the world wants to wait for the inspector’s report, and if we attack, then it is we who are violating international law. And it will be especially bad if it turns out that the rebels manipulated us into doing their dirty work for them.

And even if we do strike, what is the purpose? Bring down Assad to give Syria to al Qaeda or the Taliban? And since Obama seems to think he can strike without the approval of Congress, why should Congress even bother to vote? And then there’s the missing question, who is going to pay for it? When we have an issue here with unemployment, food stamps, medicine for the elderly or disaster relief, they always ask who is going to pay for it.

In 2008 Obama ran against the Republicans and Hillary Clinton on the basis of voting for the war in Iraq. Now Obama wants Democrats to vote for his war and not wait for the U.N. inspector’s report? Speaking of Hillary, I don’t hear her coming out to endorse this war. She’s not going to make that mistake again. I think Congress should vote “no” and impeach Obama if he strikes anyway.

Marc Perkel, Gilroy, Calif.