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Letters to the Editor: 10-24-2013

THROW AWAY CIVIC?

In an earthquake Eugene’s Civic Stadium will be the last building standing. It is built on a solid foundation held up with huge, clear-grained old-growth timbers.

Our education system is slipping away: higher dropout rates, larger classroom sizes and underpaid teachers. Momentary cash infusions have not solved the problem.

By tearing down Civic and building a new Fred Meyer shopping center we are sending money back East to big corporations and their CEOs. We will be unwittingly widening the gap between the rich and middle class. We will be throwing away rich educational opportunities: open spaces, soccer fields and a historic stadium. Building a shopping center will not strengthen our local educational foundation, only weaken it.

Joe R. Blakely, Eugene

 

HUTS NOT ENABLING

In the recent letter “No More To Give” [10/17] Jessica Hannah writes about her neighbor who wants to move into a “homeless hut” so he can continue living a self-destructive lifestyle. Your neighbor wouldn’t last very long as a hut resident due to agreements with host sites that restrict the use of drugs and alcohol in the huts. Several people have been evicted for these reasons already.

We (Community Supported Shelters) are careful not to become another handout that continues to enable unproductive behavior. We recently submitted a camp proposal to the city of Eugene that includes involvement in local community as a requirement of staying in the camp.

I challenge people who share Jessica’s concerns to get involved with our organization (www.communitysupportedshelters.org) and meet the people we are serving in the community. It would be an eye-opening experience for you.

Erik de Buhr, Designer/builder of the Conestoga Huts

 

POOR CAN’T GIVE MORE

An unpopular yet realistic fact with the upper class situation is that many of these folks have come about their circumstances through crime and immoral choices. Many, not all. Some were born rich.

Our tolerance and gullibility and budgets are at meltdown levels. We have reached our capacity for being able to give any more. There is no more room for mansions and no more money that can be squeezed out of the poor. We have given all we can give.

We have given and given: tax breaks and subsidies for mansions, vacation homes, private jets, yachts, country club memberships, private schools, degrees not earned but bestowed by Harvard, Yale, Princeton.

And what do the rich give to the people who support them? Arrests for public sleeping, for disturbing the peace by existing.

The rich demand our respect but give us none. We, the citizens of this city and county, housed and unhoused, are trampled under the boots and stilettos of the uber-rich. We are arrested for walking or standing on our own streets and sidewalks, while the rich run us down with impunity.

Jessica, yes, there is a Satan [Letters, 10/17]. He is all of you who think you are better than everyone else. He is you who lecture the poor on gratitude, while you crush them under your heel. We don’t ask anything of you, except this: Quit whining!

Ann M.Tattersall, Eugene

 

KIDS LIKE FRESH FOOD

After reading Karl Stout’s response [10/17] to Megan Kemple’s Viewpoint [10/10], I implore him to volunteer with Farm to School and find out for himself how much kids actually “raise their noses to healthier choices” before making such pessimistic assumptions. 

It is the sad truth that many children are raised eating processed foods loaded with refined sugars, additives and preservatives as a result of the industrial food system. However, being a volunteer with Farm to School, I’ve personally witnessed the joy and delight of the kids when they get an opportunity to try a new fruit or vegetable. At a school tasting table last week, where we bring fresh produce for kids to try during lunch hours, we nearly ran out as they gobbled down seconds, thirds and even fourths of local apples and pears. One second grader even exclaimed, “This is the best fruit we’ve had at school all year!” 

The amazing staff and volunteers at Farm to School work hard and effectively to make local, fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible to kids and their families. If you are angry or disgusted with the current food paradigm, please take time to volunteer with one of the many organizations in Lane County working to change this system before fouling the air with baseless cynicism and negativity.

Alison Erdmann, Eugene

 

RIVER ROAD OPPORTUNITY

Jan Spencer’s “Downtown River Road” article was refreshing and informative. The mural on the side of the Goodwill building provides such a wonderful sense of healthy neighborhood life. It was great to hear its history and details. Kudos to the owners of the Goodwill building for wanting to work with the community to find business renters who would add life and vitality to the River Road area. Although I understand there is a lot of hard work and advocacy between now and then, I hope something wonderful comes of it all. 

I do have one correction to make to the article. Mr. Spencer says that “local residents would love a natural food store” and a number of other businesses, including a bike shop. I want to point out that in River Road we already have our own local bike shop. Klink Cycles is located on the corner of River Road and McClure. Michael, the owner, is a local resident. He is knowledgeable and friendly — someone you immediately feel you can trust. While advocating for additional new business development in our area, let’s be sure to support what we already have.

Betty Grant, Eugene

 

DON’T GET ‘SMART’

The EWEB Board of Commissioners voted to implement an opt-in program, with the goal of installing electrical “smart” digital meters in every home and business in Eugene. They did this in spite of a boardroom full of people opposed to any use of these expensive meters, which have very serious proven health and safety issues. 

They will be launching a campaign to get people to opt-in to get these meters. I urge you and your family to become informed and to decide not to opt-in. For more information, see FamiliesForSafeMeters.org, TakeBackYourPower.net, Jerry Day “smart” meters (YouTube), National Day Of Action Against Smart Meters (YouTube), Brian Thiesen: “Technical Facts and Political Agenda of Smart Meters.”

Abraham Likwornik, Eugene

 

DEFINE SMALL BUSINESS

Some people have said that the small business owner will be hurt by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Some of these same people claim that a 500-employee business is a small business. The recent The New Yorker magazine says that 96 percent of American businesses have fewer than 50 employees, making them not subject to the penalties for not covering their employees with insurance. The employer mandate does not touch them. They also claim that over 90 percent of those businesses of over 50 employees already cover health insurance for their employees.

Of course, the best health care solution would be like Medicare for everybody, but it seems like Obamacare will have to do for now.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene 

 

THE PROTECTION SQUAD

School was out on a recent Friday, and the Tamarack Pool was full of life during family swim. It was wonderful to see so many kids enjoying the warm water with their parents. Like many people, I use the pool for therapy. There is a spot in the deep end where gravity lifts off my body and for that wonderful time in space, the salt water relieves me of some of the pain I carry as a constant with me. 

As a therapy user, family swim is a little difficult. Being bumped can send shock waves through me. It’s still worth the effort to ‘run the gauntlet’ through family swim though — and it is those user fees that help to support the pool and keep it open and available to those of us who need it for therapy — a big thank you to everyone there. Spread the word on this wonderful place.

That day, making my way to the deep end I encountered a young boy earnestly chasing his toy whale in the water. Realizing the pool was probably a little too rambunctious for me to be there, I contemplated my way to safely navigate around or decide to turn back when I heard a “Hey, how ya doin’?” from my side. Three wonderful friends from the pool quickly surrounded me and safely transported me to my favorite spot in the water, keeping around me and making my way back to the hot tub when I was done. I’ve never felt so protected and safe. You know who you are.

A big thank you to all those who keep the Tamarack Pool financially strong through usership and donations. Those of us who depend on the pool for pain relief and rehabilitation are grateful for your support. And a personal thanks to my helpers. Eugene is truly a wonderful place. The Tamarack Pool and the people there are at the very heart of it.

Leni Bader, Eugene

 

‘GIMPY’ IS OFFENSIVE 

I normally enjoy EW, including Rick Levin’s movie reviews. However I was disappointed to read the use of the word “gimpy” in the movie review of Gravity Oct. 10. “Gimp” or “gimpy” is an offensive ableist slur and shouldn’t be used unless it is being reclaimed by a person with a disability. People with disabilities have to deal with plenty of ableism, discrimination and abuse from society. They don’t need to be insulted in this paper on top of it. Rick Levin and EW should hold themselves to a higher standard. 

Ariel Howland, Springfield

 

STOLEN RIGHT TO VOTE

With the governor and Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 863, the citizens’ right to vote was stolen by the state’s concession to agricultural technology corporations. I once thought that the ballot initiative and voting rights were sacrosanct. The state’s party line is that local decisions (such as the Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County) regarding GMOs would create a “patchwork of regulation that could fluctuate with each election.” 

Instead, state officials propose their own patchwork: mapping locations of genetically engineered crops to help growers coordinate buffers, corridors and exclusion zones.

Somehow it seems ridiculous to think that all farmers will willingly submit to organizing each field, every crop rotation, land set-asides and every crop and crop system according to a plan that will supposedly “not fluctuate with each election.” 

On top of that incomprehensible state bureaucracy, we are expected to believe that GMO pollen and seed will not wander with the wind, contaminating conventional and organic crops. (Tell that to Eastern Oregon farmers whose livelihoods were damaged by rogue GMO wheat.) Absurd. Give us back our right to vote. 

Richard Gross, Deadwood

 

ROBBING THE DEAD

You research the exchange and find your income is too low for a subsidy. You check private insurance: not affordable. You check Oregon Health Plan: full care, no cost, but then you see the fine print. When the recipient dies, the Estate Unit in Salem will place a “claim” (lien) on your estate for 100 percent of the costs that accumulated for your care. If you owned property with a spouse or other persons they will have to make payments on your debt to avoid the “claim.” If the deceased owned nothing then those left behind are OK — unless it’s a spouse who owns the property. 

Medicaid is a good program for those who own nothing, people who are very sick and own little and people with children who don’t own property. The federal government likes to reassure the state that they will pick up 90 percent of the cost of the expanded program in just a few years and the state will only have to pay 10 percent, but when the Medicaid recipient dies, the state comes after 100 percent. This is the only “choice” the health exchange offers people in a particular income group. 

Herding people into Medicaid increases financial weakness of the families left behind when the recipient dies — despite the health care security for the recipient. It’s clear that the health exchange needs some revision!

Gwen Heineman, Eugene

 

 

 

WHY TWO PARTIES?

One of the unintended consequences of the recent Republican debacle is that in their attempt to rid the world of Obama, they may in fact rid the world of themselves. The Republicans should know that many of us are sick of their antics. The best news so far is that the popularity of the GOP is so low that worms are feeling better about themselves. Everyone wants to carp about the need for a “two party system.” It’s not in the Constitution. That’s right, we can have many political parties or no political parties and still remain faithful to the Founding Fathers’ intentions. 

Both the Democrats and the Republicans should take notice. Our infinite patience may have reached the tipping point. It’s true that most of the blame for putting our security on the line belongs to the Tea Party extremists inside the GOP, but our state Democratic Party just passed a “Grand Bargain” that’s beginning to look more like a grand giveaway to the richest 1 percent among us. Most of us watch the behavior in Washington, D.C. and are glad we live here. But, when the Social Security checks stop arriving, when Medicare goes bust, and when the Democratic Governor of our own state has to rely on the votes of Republicans in the Legislature to pass his dubious budget, then we all know that our political class views us as fools. And, we all know what happens to a fool and his money.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene

 

NOT DESPERATE?

Recently in an editorial in our other newspaper, the editor called for labor peace so that the governor can work on a new tax reform. The “state is not in desperate need of new revenue,” therefore the time is now for reform. 

I guess there is not a “desperate need” since our governor and the legislators just recently reached into pockets of retired firemen, police officers, teachers and other public servants and took $5 billion.

Also, there must not be a desperate need in Eugene schools since the teachers once again took a pay cut for the fifth year in the row in form of nine furlough days. They continue to subsidize our children’s education.

Desperate need? They should ask a fourth grader in Bethel whether 38 kids in her class need another teacher. Or they should ask a first grader learning how to read whether a school year that’s three weeks shorter than his older sibling’s will help him become a better reader. Or ask a school administrator whether the falling test scores had anything to do with shorter school year, huge class sizes or the fact that Oregon is ranked 48th in per pupil spending.

There is a desperate need for more resources in Oregon. We must find a better way of funding our schools and state government. When Intel and 19 other Fortune 500 companies pay no state income tax, there is something wrong with our tax system. We need a fairer tax system now and not wait till 2016.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene

 

JUST A CHARADE

Colonial occupiers always appeal for “peace,” by which they mean pacification of resistance by the occupied. As the world’s most blatant post-colonial anachronism, Israel and its apologists practice this assiduously. Malcolm X stated, “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom,” but Israel has nevertheless engaged for 20 years with quisling Palestinians in a fraudulent “peace process” and sponsored a “peace” industry promoting Israeli-Palestinian “dialogue” projects while keeping Palestinians under a brutal, degrading, economically suffocating military occupation or imprisoned by blockade, bulldozing some 27,000 Palestinian homes, implanting 140 settlements with 370,000 settlers on Palestinian land, killing over 1,500 Palestinian children and imprisoning thousands of Palestinian resisters.

In a pretense of symmetry and equal responsibility, human rights violations and international crimes are renamed a “conflict” and the victims are expected to negotiate with their iron-fisted masters as if playing on a level field. 

In this tradition, the LCC “Creativity for Peace” event featured an Israeli-Palestinian youth dialogue. But from friendly conversation will an Israeli friend drag her brother’s boot off a Palestinian sister’s neck? Will she join the Palestinian resistance, demanding justice for the refugees and the dispossessed?

Judging from history, it’s unlikely. Jim Crow was ended by federal legislation enforced by law, not by dialogue between the MLK and the KKK. As Frederick Douglass observed in 1857, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” More recently, Assata Shakur said, “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people that were oppressing them.”

 But once again, Eugene’s “peace” community planned a comfortable, feel-good charade.

 Jack Dresser, Ph.D., Springfield, Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project