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Letters to the Editor: 4-17-2014

THE COUNCIL’S INTENT

It has not been a longstanding intention of the City Council to close Whoville before April 15 or even by April 15. The following statements were made on Feb. 18:

“Our intent is not to just to go in and shut down the site, our intent is to provide time for people to transition to whatever site that Council chooses, and so that is what our intent is as we go forward.” — Jon Ruiz, city manager.

“I am very glad to hear the city manager state very clearly the intention to find a new location and to invite folks at Whoville to relocate there. I think that speaks to the intent of the motion that I proposed and that this council passed.” — Claire Syrett, city councilor.

“Yes, I concur that our intention was to have a place to go before Whoville shuts down … with regard to other sites and collaborations.” — Alan Zelenka, city councilor.

The motion to have Whoville closed down by April 15 was made on March 10 by Greg Evans. I am giving Evans the benefit of the doubt about why he made that motion and hoping he made it to inspire urgency on the part of the council to find an alternate site. Unfortunately, it inspired our military-minded city manager to create an unnecessary and obscenely expensive show of force at Whoville — another uneven battle in the war against the poor.

Vickie Nelson, Eugene

 

HOUSING FIRST

Dear Congressman Peter DeFazio: Please read this article on a homeless solution in the Metro News of Vancouver, B.C.: wkly.ws/1q4.

Everyone should see this and hope everyone can be housed. It saves money to house people. With a secure place to live they become better citizens!

Who ever decided that millions of Americans should be without income and homeless? Eugene needs emergency help with the thousands who are homeless. 

SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) has statistics on zero incomes, incomes less than $350 a month, and it even attempts to number the homeless. These numbers are much larger than are reported elsewhere. 

Lane County, which is Oregon’s Department of Human Services//SNAP District 5, should report to you each month its hidden statistics. Tens of thousands of your constituents in Lane County are in great trouble. All shelter programs have huge waiting lists. Lots of our citizens are outside, hiding from local police.

Jerry Smith, MSW, Eugene

 

RIVER LESSONS

Thanks to professor Jim Earl for his eloquent prose in praise of a walk in the park. And thanks to EW’s editor for knowing great writing when he sees it and sharing it with the rest of us students of nature.

I particularly enjoyed studying Earl’s four conclusions and wholeheartedly agree with three of them: Nature is perfect; it couldn’t care less about us; we love it anyway. In any world, these three things characterize a fine romance. But his first conclusion, that “Unlike the human world, Nature has no thoughts, intentions or desires; it just is,” gave me pause and made me think.

Certainly it is true that Nature, like Frank Baum’s Scarecrow character, doesn’t have a brain (ergo no thoughts — at least not without magic). But it seems to me that intentions and desires are evolutionary traits shared by us all. Look again at those old cottonwoods that have weathered the storms all these years. Couldn’t their bark manifest an intention to survive, their leaves a desire to continue?

I agree with Earl that Nature is what it is. But I also agree with Bill Clinton, who argued that “It depends on what the definition of 'is' is.” Humans and Nature — what’s the diff? We’re all made of the same stuff. That is what it is to me. If we could look at things that way, then we might still have parks to walk in as time goes by.

Benton Elliott, Eugene

 

DAM FAILURE SECRECY

Several years ago I went to the monthly “mayor meets with citizens” meeting held in the Albertson’s store at 18th and Chambers. I asked Mayor Kitty Piercy about the inundation potentials if the dams upstream of Eugene broke and whether the location we were at was out of harm’s way, or would we still have to go to higher ground. She did not respond, not even to say she did not know or it was none of my business.

On March 18, I went to the Army Corps of Engineers dam inundation meeting in West Fir. Their maps show that 18th and Chambers would be inundated but it would be near the edge of the flood. I didn’t write down the precise edge but it wasn’t far up Chambers Street beyond 18th. Nearly all of Eugene north of 18th Avenue would be flooded in a dam collapse, but the Feds refuse to post this publicly, with the excuse that bad people might want to use it to hurt us. However, even if bad guys did crack the dams, those downstream would have a “need to know” how far uphill to run.

Perhaps the real reason the dam inundation maps are not public is the embarrassment to the real estate industry. The value of the new yuppie complexes being built (and publicly subsidized) would be much less if it was widely understood how deeply they would be submerged in a dam failure scenario, whether from an earthquake, flood or act of violence.

Mark Robinowitz, http://sustaineugene.org/dam.html

 

ABOUT THAT SIGN

Our sign [see “WTF?” last week] has, indeed, become a point of contention in the community and, as such, I’d like to shed some light as to our rationale behind its creation. 

Firstly, the phrase, “Welcome to the [heart] of Little Portland” is by no means some part of a serious campaign to reclassify the city (or downtown) as some kind of diminutive Portland. The intention of the sign is twofold. First, it is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the large number of Portland-based businesses popping up in our area. We are literally surrounded by them: Sizzle Pie, Urban Waxx, Townshend’s Tea, Voodoo Doughnuts! This is by no means a bad thing, but I think it’s important to create awareness about from where all of this new business is coming. 

Secondly, this phrase was a bit of an inside joke: Folks often come into The Barn Light and remark, “It’s so Portland in here!” which we find comical, because we are actually a Eugene-based business amongst, as I say, a crowd of Portland-based ones. Again, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to be compared to businesses in Portland.

The last thing that I would add is that, frankly, I’d rather put a sign outside that makes people stop and think for a moment — and elicits some kind of reaction — as opposed to a boring sign, the sole purpose of which is promoting our product or brand. In fact, I’m pleased to see the kind of response this has generated. It’s good to see this kind of civic pride in a part of town that has lacked it for so long.

Thomas Pettus-Czar, Co-owner, The Barn Light

 

WATCHING OUT FOR US

Time and again since our Lane Board of County Commissioners election four years ago I’ve told myself I should be down there at the courthouse watching what they’re up to now — whether it’s selling coast lakefront county forest parkland for Commissioner Leiken’s ex-business partner to log; or signing off on another McDougal scam; or handing off two downtown city blocks of county property to an ex-mayor without receiving a single competitive bid; or watching their hand-picked county administrator fire senior county land use attorneys who are a little too sympathetic with local folks. But who’s got the time?

Answer: Kevin Matthews. Kevin has been an amazing bulldog on local land use issues. From his work to save the Amazon headwaters to his advocacy for sound planning in the Envision Eugene process to his wonderfully enlightening community Conversations on the Forest, Kevin keeps many irons in the fire and has seemingly unlimited energy to accomplish the primary responsibilities of a county commissioner: digest a huge volume of information, stay focused and alert at meetings, and advocate relentlessly for sound planning and the public interest.

Since Lane County commissioners must answer their own phones with no personal staff support, it’s crucial they be able to multi-task, as Kevin surely can. Over the past 10 years or so it’s given me a good feeling to see Kevin trundling his huge briefcase of reference materials into yet another planning meeting, knowing he’s on task watching out for the public interest, working tirelessly to guide public policy to design and build a thriving community that fits our very special Willamette Valley landscape. We’ll do well to keep him on the job.

Fergus Mclean, Dexter

 

FUND MY SPECULATION

Notes from the gray matter: Since we, the people, gave millions to apartment speculators so they’d make millions, they can provide some empty apartments for use by our currently homeless citizens. Last reports had many vacancies among the new towers, and they’re still building like crazy. Where DID those Whoville folks go?

Meanwhile in Glenwood, local speculators want to build a hotel and convention center, but we must give $8.5 million via Springfield and Lane County funds. I don’t know about Springfield, but Lane County is rich! Close some health centers, cut back some deputies, all is good! The fact that convention centers usually lose dollars is not our concern!

Since we, the people, are speculating, here’s a plan: I’ll train ducks to attack beavers. No beavers will be killed, but they will be altered. The attack ducks nip and chew at the beavers tails until they become nutria! Not just nutria, but neutered nutria. Call them bullducks!

So I need startup cash from the city of Eugene, but not much. To train 30,000 ducks at $500 apiece will run $1.5 million. I have some venture capital saved up, so the city will only need to contribute $1,499,990. See you at the next City Council meeting!

Scott MacWilliams, Eugene

 

NO HEAD SCRATCHING

In this new age of electronic super communication, I find myself, well, unable to communicate! I used to be able to pick up my phone (large enough so I could actually find it), dial up a phone number and the person I was calling would answer (meaning speak into the phone). In fact, not only would the person answer the phone call, but there would be something called a “conversation” immediately following the pick up.

Other than “dialing” (a term referring to rotary phones where users were once required to place one finger in a round opening designating a single number and move around until all digits in the phone number were hit), no fingertips were ever involved in the entire process of phone communication. And pretty much all of the words spoken during the phone conversation could be found in a common dictionary — no head-scratching abbreviations plugged into the middle of incomplete sentences that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Hold on, my phone is ringing. “Hello,” I answer. (By the way, “hello” is a common greeting one uses when receiving a real phone call.) “Daddy, you haven’t answered any of my text messages,” my daughter states with frustration. I pause, walk down the hallway to her room, and yell out, “Honey, I forgot my password again.”

Stephen Roth, Eugene

 

TAXES FOR WAR

I’m unhappy to learn that 40 cents of every one of my 2013 federal tax dollars went to fund current and past wars, according to the Quaker advocacy group the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

We have some critical needs as a country — how to respond to the effects of climate change, how to repair our crumbling bridges and roadways, how to bridge the growing divide between rich and poor. I want to see more of my tax dollars going to these priorities rather than to the Pentagon.

I hope that my senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, will work to make this happen in the coming year. They can start by eliminating the more than $100 billion of documented waste, fraud and abuse found in the Pentagon’s budget every year. We might disagree about the need to invest in the tools for war, but surely we can agree on the need to spend our tax dollars responsibly.

Sandra Carter, Corvallis