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Letters to the Editor: 1-30-2014

DON’T TRUST YMCA

I appreciate the valuable services the YMCA contributes to the community. However, they should not be entrusted with development of valuable public lands like Civic Stadium.

The Y’s 60-year history of development along Patterson Street includes sell-offs to unintended uses and conflicts with the residential neighborhood. Half the land between 20th to 24th avenues, acquired in 1953 from 4J School District, was later sold to developers for apartments and professional offices. Required parking was never constructed. And an unsightly, sun-blocking tennis barn was imposed on the neighbors. Today, the present grounds and buildings are marginally maintained, and the back alley remains a neglected mud hole, inviting transients and vandalism.

Neighbors protested to no avail at city hearings throughout development. Often struggling for money, dependent on volunteers, the Y pursued its own economic interest over the neighborhood’s. Giving it complete discretion over the Civic Stadium property could not be in the best public interest.

We should encourage the Y’s participation in a broader community service development at Civic Stadium, however.

The city should buy the entire property from 4J with dedicated parks money, lease some to the Y for its uses, with maintenance obligations, form a Civic Stadium board to fund, restore and operate the sports field, and devote the rest to community valued income ventures — like a wave park and an inviting restaurant. Something for everyone, too much for none, keeping the public in.

Loren Sears, Eugene

 

COLLABORATION NEEDED

While I have compassion for the difficult decision the Eugene District 4J School Board must soon make, and appreciate the financial needs of school districts, I cannot sit idly by and allow the sellout of my community to a corporation such as Kroger. Accepting the tantalizing offer from a huge corporation such as Kroger, #4 on Yahoo Financial’s list of large U.S. corporations that pay their employees the least (behind #1 Walmart, #2 McDonald’s, and #3 Target) may bring in quick and future cash, and create a number of non-living wage jobs; yet it may also cause long-term collateral damage for the surrounding community.

There will be greatly increased, almost constant traffic to and from the area; unnecessary zoning changes to the far-sighted Eugene Metropolitan Plan; great expenditure of time and money for the city of Eugene to bring about these changes; a decrease in property values in the area; potentially economically damaging competition for many locally owned and operated businesses along Willamette; as well as the tragic loss of a historically recognized landmark devoted to recreation and the public good. 

Personally, I would love to see a cooperative venture between the city of Eugene, Friends of Civic, soccer organizations and the YMCA. In the meantime I urge all concerned citizens to let the School Board know how you feel about a Freddy’s on Willamette, reminding them that their fiduciary responsibilities include nurturing the public trust for the passage of future bond measures. 

Rebecca La Mothe, Eugene

 

WHO’S CRAZY?

In the latest issue [1/23], Rick Levin paired Alley Valkyrie’s excellent article with one on homeless insanity. He quoted Whitebird’s Ben Brubaker as estimating that a quarter to a third of homeless people are mentally ill (a definition Brubaker himself challenges as nebulous). Lauren Regan of CLDC is quoted as saying “Nobody chooses to live on the streets who are in their right minds.”

The latter statement is simply not true. Young people, fed up with bourgeois, suburban society, often test themselves by living very simply, keeping their wits about them as a daily exercise in meeting reality head-on. Others are forced out of more comfortable situations by divorce, job loss, felony conviction or other unfortunate circumstances. Not all of them are crazy.

As to the one-quarter to one-third statistic, yes, some lash out at “ghosts in Kesey Square.” But are one in four people on the street more crazy than you? I mean you, the reader. Since the 1980s, some folks have received advanced degrees in creating complex forms. Others have got degrees in sifting the information to exclude those who might not fit a desired pattern. Others have developed networking skills and technical competence, enabling them to answer an alarm clock and rush off for eight hours in a tiny cubicle, focused on a telephone and a computer screen — five days a week for 30 years. 

Who’s crazy? Those who succeeded at filling in the forms and occupying the cubicles? Or those to whom these conditions were unacceptable? People who cannot cope with the modern world are considered crazy by default. But more alcohol and drugs are consumed, per capita, by housed, employed people — and at least the homeless are not bombing Pakistani wedding parties. 

It’s a mistake to denigrate a whole class of people, different than ourselves, and herd them like animals. Legalize homelessness.

Christopher Logan, Eugene

 

A REAL WIN-WIN DECISION

We’re endangered by ongoing ripoffs of Eugene’s resources and livability such as the loss of Amazon and Westmoreland low-income housing while allowing Hyundai and now Capstone. That’s why I oppose Fred Meyer’s plan to demolish and replace the publicly owned and historically significant Civic Stadium with another store. As a YMCA member, I also oppose the Y proposal to replace Civic with 60 single-family homes supposedly selling for $300,000 each. Given the obvious glut of new housing and the demise of big box stores, allowing either my private nonprofit club or a corporate chain to benefit from selling Civic, our “heart of Eugene,” to the highest bidder is shortsighted, risky and irresponsible. 

A real win-win option for all parties serving the public interest is for the city to buy the land from 4J using park funds and allow the Y and Civic Stadium to share the site. Such strategic collaboration and vision from our civic leaders could result in a new Y next to a renovated and covered Civic Stadium with dynamic soccer, track, football, baseball and music programs benefiting the entire community year around. Let’s lobby the 4J board to do their civic duty and accept the city’s offer.

David Zupan, Eugene

 

ADVOCATE FOR WHOVILLE 

I was raised by two parents in Atlanta, Ga., who worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr., risked their lives for racial integration and educated me about the Civil Rights Movement. I was about 4 or 5 years old when they participated in the sit-ins. I was in the first grade when my mother marched with James Reeb (one of the three people killed in the Selma March). 

Part of the way I was educated was when my mother had me watch a film on MLK. From the film, I learned of King’s involvement with the rights of poor and working-class people. He said that the problem of poverty is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. If we lived in a society where everyone’s needs were met, we would have less fear of those we view as “criminal,” poor and black people. See wkly.ws/1od.

I have a compassionate understanding of homeless people not only from my background. If I did not have friends helping out I would be homeless. I have been a hard-working citizen (with no substance abuse) for many years and still do what I can to pull my own boot straps. I have a debilitating disease that is keeping me from working enough to be able to support myself. It is a long wait to see if the judge from my court hearing will grant me disability. There are many people like myself who are on the streets. I wish I could do more to advocate Whoville and the homeless.

Ceila “Starshine” Levine, Eugene

 

UNRESOLVED CONCERNS

Oakleigh Meadow Co-Housing (OMC) is not approved to break ground soon, as they state on their Facebook page. Neighbors on Oakleigh and McClure Lanes have appealed OMC’s PUD application and it is now in the hands of the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). 

OMC’s project is too large for our community to be compatible and harmonious, as required by a PUD, Oakleigh Lane does not meet the minimum city of Eugene street requirements to handle the additional traffic flow, and OMC drivers have already proven to be fast and unsafe to our community during their monthly site visits. 

Neighbors have tried to compromise with OMC about terms since the summer of 2010, only to be repeatedly ignored! Neighbors have tried many times to mediate with OMC over the past 110 days when the public hearing was scheduled. No compromise! OMC will not respond to neighbors or other concerned citizens when we approach them. 

In addition, we are very concerned about neighbors and citizens of Eugene being held responsible for additional costs from this project. EWEB will have to upgrade the water lines along Oakleigh and McClure, which will require expensive road improvements. These costs will be passed on to Eugene EWEB customers. 

This project has too many unresolved concerns to be breaking ground anytime soon, and OMC needs to be honest with all affected individuals before making such claims. Neighbors would have appealed the Greenway permit if we would have been able to raise another $1,000 in such a short time. It’s too bad PUDs are approved to invade a neighborhood and river path just because they [developers] have money. The only thing that is green about this project is the money. OMC has not budged on compromising. 

Anne Love,Eugene

 

IDOL WORSHIP

An open letter to the Eugene City Council: The public library is the golden tree of knowledge. The City Council wants to put out the light. Any councilperson who votes to trim the branches will force me to reactivate my activism and campaign actively against you in the next election. Please don’t make me do it; I’m retired and lazy.

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

NOT SO USELESS NIPPLES

While The Vagina Monologues is a wonderful show and everyone should see it, no one is served by the exclusionary and inaccurate quotation that EW used to promote it — i.e., that the clitoris is “the only organ in the body designed purely for pleasure.”

Last I checked, dudes also have bodies, and the great majority of those bodies have nipples (two of ‘em), whose only apparent function is to make their possessors feel good, when appropriately stimulated.

Sure hope Mr. Savage doesn’t savage you over this sexist misstep.

Vip Short, Eugene

 

TIP YOUR GAS JOCKEYS 

I work at the local gas station SeQuential Biofuels, and I’d like to encourage you to tip the people pumping your gas. About 130,000 jobs in Oregon are minimum wage. If you have held a minimum wage job, you know how hard it is to pay bills and eat healthy, much less support a family. This is a service job, and as you probably know Oregon and New Jersey are the only states in the nation where drivers don’t have to pump their own gas.

Situations where a tip is appropriate: 

• You pull up when there are already two or three other cars being pumped, and the attendant serves you in an expedient, efficient and friendly manner. 

• When we wash your window, hook you up with free coffee or assist you with car trouble.

• If you fill one or more propane tanks! 

• If you’re feeling generous. (If you tip inside the store we don’t see any of that.) Change makes a great tip!

• It really helps out people like me who are on an extremely tight budget and breathing carcinogens all day. 

A gas station is a good place to see people’s true nature, and the majority of you are sweet, compassionate people. Thank you for buying local and supporting a gas station that emphasizes community, healthy food options and the inevitable transition to locally sourced renewable fuels. Bless those of you walking, biking, taking the bus and running local biodiesel, and bless those of you who already tip. You really help out. 

Ché Ruth-Cheff, Eugene

 

RURAL SUPPORT NEEDED

In spite of the palpable need for swift action, President Obama’s February 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would have benefited from a more systematic rollout. With luck, the president’s Promise Zone Initiative will embrace the lessons learned by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton while implementing similar initiatives.

The 2014 State of the County address identifies jobs creation, the development of a positive economic future and collaborating with federal forestry partners as critical 2014 Board of County Commissioners deliverables.

These sentiments should be tested through one or more administrative proof of concept assessments. Would the convening of a rapid response team, to pursue Promise Zone resources, and composed of the team members that developed the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network program and the best elements of the Lane Metro Partnership and Travel Lane County, provide such a tool? Importantly, impermissibly discounting rural voices and input from smaller municipalities will rob it of the support it needs to succeed.

Attaching time-lined performance metrics will allow the Lane County Commons’ members to judge its success or lack thereof. If so, what should be measured and what will meeting performance expectations look like?

Is May 1 a reasonable first report date? 

Jose Ortal, Blue River

 

THE USUAL BULLSHIT

The EW cover story Jan. 2 is already provoking a spate of kill-shelter apologist letters with the usual drivel about Greenhill Humane Society management doing the best they can, casting blame elsewhere, not enough homes for all the animals, etc. To this I respond: bullshit.

Nevada Humane Society (NHS), under the dynamic leadership of no-kill Director Bonney Brown, accomplished (in part) the following in 2011: a 93 percent save rate; 9,340 pet adoptions; 7,541 active volunteers and 2,456 foster homes; 8,824 spay/neuter surgeries.

Greenhill Humane Society in 2011: 1,806 pet adoptions; less than 400 active volunteers; approximately 4,000 spay/neuter surgeries.

The entire list of NHS 2012 accomplishments is posted on our website to demonstrate what a skilled shelter manager can accomplish. Five years after implementing the no-kill equation business plan at NHS, Washoe County is now able to provide a comprehensive safety net for its homeless pets.

This is our goal for Lane County. Such success is clearly attainable.

The half-million taxpayer dollar question is: How did Bonney Brown create such astounding success and why is Greenhill Director Cary Lieberman miserably failing? Read Greenhill employee and volunteer testimony on NoKillLaneCounty.org.

It’s time for a no-kill director at Greenhill.

Debi McNamara, No Kill Lane County

 

STOP FIGHTING!

Regarding the letter by Jaye and Stephen Dibos Jan. 16, “Fighting Over Animals,” I say, “Yes!” I totally agree. All of us who are concerned about animal welfare need to stop fighting with each other over who is right. It’s like divorced parents fighting while forgetting about the welfare of the children. Bottom line is there are just too many dogs and cats to care for. The real enemy is overpopulation followed by people not spaying and neutering, breeding more and then abandonment. There are low-income resources available for spaying and neutering. 

Those of us who care must come together to find realistic solutions. There are not enough homes nor enough resources to shelter all animals and oftentimes these poor beings get into the “wrong hands” — bad situations. 

Linda Kanter, Deadwood

 

LOST MESSAGE

“Who am I to judge?” asked Pope Francis when confronted with the question about who is and who is not called to service. These five words could have as much impact in the way in which we can relate to each other and how we perceive each other as any constitution, parliament or dictator. When the pope let it be known that the mind of God is revealed to those who seek it, he provided a way for all humans to divest ourselves of the biases and prejudices that cloud our minds with terrible distractions. 

A member of the first-century Christian church, Paul once advised the faithful not to become too involved in controversy over every jot and title of church canon. The point of his lecture was that such a useless focus can lead to injury because the message of love may get lost in the search for perfection. In our age of grievance stacked upon grievance, some founded and some not, it is refreshing to think that such a tersely phrased idea could in fact be the most useful tool to come our way in a very long time. Let’s take advantage of the gift and see how far it can take us. 

Gerry Merritt, Eugene

 

VITAL FACTS OMITTED

The big box stores are attempting to repeat what happened in the state of Washington: control liquor distribution and drive the small businesses out of the market.

In regard to the article that appeared in The Register-Guard Jan. 13, giving favorable press to privatization, some vital facts were omitted.

As in Washington state, the state will still get its revenue, regardless of who retails. The article states “consumers probably would pay the same prices for alcohol.” This was not the case in Washington state, and these five privatization initiatives are the same formula.

Big box stores are going to extremely limit the number of items available to the consumer, without offering any level of customer service.

Grocery giants aren’t going to allow shelf space for the many small craft distillers, thus crushing thousands of jobs. Oregon is noted for its craft distillers and it would be a shame to fall for the lure of these greedy proposals.

Privatization in Washington should be a powerful lesson to Oregon. Higher prices, limited selection, rampant theft, illegal importation, thousands unemployed and much less convenience. We haven’t encountered a single Washington consumer who would agree prices have come back down there.

Oregonians should be leery about any initiative that proposes a “sales tax and fees.” Too general. It’s a bad idea for Oregon.

Jaine Tipple, Florence