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Letters to the Editor: 7-10-2014

A TRAVESTY AND A WASTE

The direction our public officials are taking is the worst mistake made since the 1970s Urban Renewal Renovation of downtown Eugene.

The unfortunate direction on the table will outweigh the 40-year scars of urban renewal. 

• Wasting the existing City Hall building, discarding at least $40 million of equity, spending $11 million to replace it with a smaller version. Total: $51 million.

• Leasing space at $1.2 million a year for 10 years ($12 million) to support developers. Total: $63 million.

• The city’s goals for a “zero energy use building” ignore the value of energy embedded in the existing structure and the cost to demolish City Hall; this will take 40 years to recover.

• The “swap” is an attempt to circumvent council ordinances and goals to promote density and prohibit large downtown on-grade parking lots, which is what is proposed. The swap to benefit the Farmers Market is the circumvention “honey.” The swap will move the courthouse off “Courthouse Square” — not acceptable. 

• We have met individually with council members, mayor, manager and commissioners with developed alternative “swap” opportunities and have gotten the famous “thank you very much” response. See wkly.ws/1rt.

The current approach is a travesty, and a waste of money and community resources. It’s like council shopping for a new car — we just don’t like the old one anymore. 

Councilors: Examine the math and “real” total energy use (wasting is not “green”), and promote density. We expect and deserve much better.

Otto P. Poticha, FAIA

and seven colleagues

 

AN URBAN VILLAGE GREEN

I agree with Otto Poticha that tearing down the existing City Hall doesn’t make good dollars or energy sense. It turns out that earthquake repair costs to the building are actually modest and not prohibitive to another lease on life.

But what I’d really regret is Eugene missing its chance to build a strong, iconic city-county center around a reclaimed north Park Block. My constant and consuming image is of a “green” urban-village green becoming the vivid center of Eugene civic life.

There would be adequate room alongside the reclaimed Park Block for the city and county to share space. A remodeled Public Service Building and County Courthouse building could consolidate county and municipal courts and the offices that serve them. The street level of the remodeled buildings could be opened out into the new public space, alive with Farmers and Saturday markets and other civic events.

The north end of the present butterfly lot, the part along 7th above the Skinner donation, is the perfect site for a new City Hall — or even perhaps some city-county complex. The Park Block area beneath a restored North Park Street is the perfect site for a Farmers Market and Skinner Market Square.

It is not too late to reconsider the present path for City Hall. It is not too late to rally around a civic North Park Block renewal and build the green governmental and market center that would make Eugene proud.

Jerry Diethelm

Eugene

 

A MOVING PERFORMANCE

On opening night, the Oregon Bach Festival under Matthews Halls offered a glorious and astonishing performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 that engaged me spiritually in a way I have never experienced in a concert hall. Quite an introduction to our new OBF artistic director.

 David Wade

Eugene

 

WRONG TO BLAME WOMEN

Annie Kayner’s letter [6/26] blaming the UO basketball players’ sexual assault on the victim is an important reminder of how persistently many Americans continue to blame women for being sexually assaulted by men. The old “boys will be boys” mantra is tragically alive and well in America, including, apparently, Eugene. 

This kind of victim blaming is frighteningly similar to the practice in too many other (backward) countries where families disown and even kill female relatives who are raped, absurdly claiming it is their fault, their shame. Surely we are more evolved than that?

If women are to be and feel safe in our country, victim blaming must stop. It’s wrong and dangerous, and it lets men off the hook for unacceptable, anti-social, harmful behaviors that are rightfully against the law.

Asking women to avoid dangerous men by walking a different sidewalk, taking a class that meets at a different time or wearing a different dress is not at all the answer. Put simply, women should not be asked to change their lives to prevent men from sexually assaulting them. Period. Instead, we as a society need to let boys and men know — loudly, clearly and often — that THEY are responsible for their own actions and THEY will be held accountable for them.

So thank you, Annie, for this important reminder of how far we have to go in America (and Eugene) to create a culture where men are expected not to rape rather than to rape, and where female victims of male sexual violence are just that: tragic victims, plain and simple.

Kristin Teigen, board president,

Oregon Chapter of the 

National Organization for Women (NOW)

 

NOT-SO-GREEN PIPES

In the land of no plastic bags and 5-cent paper bags, it seems odd that non-biodegradable glass pipes containing silver nitrate and gold chloride are idolized in our “New Economy” (“The Glass Menagerie,” 6/26).

As tons of these functional glass pipes are being produced, what environmental effects take place during processing?

What ecological impacts occur when they’re lost, broken, garbage-canned or tossed out the windows of vehicles before crossing borders? What chemical solvents are used to clean the marijuana residues from these works of art?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’ll stick with making my own pipes from natural materials like pipestone and exotic hardwoods.

Robert Simms

Eugene

 

GLASS FOR ADULTS

Thank you for mentioning us [Glass Prodigy] in your cover story [6/26] on Eugene’s functional glass industry! However, I’m afraid your report misrepresented our company, for though we do sell locally made glass sex toys on glassprodigy.com, we do not manufacture them — in fact they’re a small part of our business. We sell and distribute functional glass — mainly glass pipes and waterpipes, most made either right here in Eugene or just a few miles up or down I-5. 

We’re proud to support some great artists and their families in town and just wanted to make sure people know what we do as we continue to provide our unique mix of locally made adult glass — sex toys and smoking glass — around the country and the world!

Rafael Dwan, president, 

glassprodigy.com

Eugene

 

BIKE CONGESTION

I’ve lived along the Riverbank Path System for 23 years and use it about as much as anyone, both as a pedestrian and a cyclist. I’m on the path at least every other day for exercise, and can even see it from my kitchen window or when I’m working in my garden, so I speak with considerable experience.

In my opinion the solution to most of the problems is simple and inexpensive: A stripe painted down the center along with some instructional stenciling and directional arrows. 

Regular users have a tacit understanding of the rule: Keep to the right, pass on the left. Problems arise with infrequent users, and often it’s not their fault. They are simply unfamiliar with bike-path etiquette. A stripe down the center clearly defines where you belong. 

Small children or toddlers, especially those learning to ride bicycles, are particularly at risk, and they inherently have a very short attention span. I hear parents continually chastising little bikers to “keep to the right,” but that’s not an easy concept for a small child to grasp. How about “Don’t cross the line”? Isn’t that an easier idea? 

I once glanced a pedestrian with my bicycle, hitting his wrist with my handlebars. He was walking with a group while looking or texting on his cell phone, and although the group was keeping to the right, he strayed into me at the last second.

People with dogs are all over the path. It should be illegal for an owner to allow their animal to cross the stripe. 

Another suggestion is to put a 4-foot-wide bark-dust trail right along the pavement, on either side. I’m sure most runners would much rather be on a soft surface, many pedestrians might, and I think dogs would prefer it.

I’ve sent letters to various city employees suggesting a center line. I got a reply once stating that it wouldn’t work. I imagine someday someone will be seriously injured and the lawyers will have a field day determining liability. After that, some city employee will come up with the idea of making the path safer by painting a center line, and probably get a raise as well as a testimonial dinner for their acute observation.

Ted Chudy

Eugene

 

SPRINGFIELD HISTORY

As a member of the Springfield Historic Commission, I am writing to invite residents, business people, workers, property owners, visitors and anyone who has an interest in the importance of Springfield’s historic places to take a short online survey. The survey is open from June 9 through July 31, 2014, and can be accessed through the city’s website, and Facebook and Twitter pages. The web address for the survey is wkly.ws/1rz. 

Members of our committee will be canvassing the Washburne Historic District to get the word out, and to help neighbors with paper survey forms if they desire. Also, there will be paper survey forms available at the permit and planning desk at Springfield City Hall.

The results of this survey will be presented to the Washburne Neighbors at their autumn meeting, and will be used to determine the future course for preservation activities by our committee. It’s important that we hear from all of you who have a stake in our city’s future.

Tim Hilton, chairman

Springfield Historic Commission

 

REBUTTING THE REBUTTAL

I would like to address the June 19 letter rebuttal by Paul Eidemiller. It appears that he, with his “formal education in the finer points of humanity,” is making a sacrifice indeed. 

I say, well played, sir. Do not support the student-athletes, these kids who by talent and hard work have earned the opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate sports. Do not support the UO, the institution of higher learning that allowed you to become such a brilliant, principle-based scholar, who is clearly based in the finer points of humanity (since you completed your degree in its entirety). Well done!

You, Mr. Eidemiller, definitely have the education that so many do not, which allows you to make such social commentary. I applaud your sacrifice and hope you find it a fulfilling one that gives you a sense of inner peace and a feeling that you have truly made a difference.

Fear not, sir, if from your lofty perch on the highest level of academia you are not able to see us small-minded, self-centered, uneducated simpletons below. We are the ones standing up after a touchdown, cheering the home run, applauding the spike and roaring after the three-pointer!

John Carlson

UO graduate, Eugene

 

BRAINLESS YOUNG MEN

To Annie Kayner (“Aggressive Males” letter, 6/26): Thank you for addressing how dangerous young men are, especially when women put themselves in situations where they are essentially asking for sex nonverbally. As you pointed out, all young men are sexually aggressive, and all of them tend to sexually assault or rape women, since they do not have brains or consciences.

Biologically we’ve been the same for millennia; similarly, our lifestyles and attitudes are ancient, too. This is why a woman’s role in society is still childbearing, not getting a job or an education; we marry on the basis of societal rank, and we still keep slaves.

Like homophobia and climate-change denial, sexual assault will always be around. No progress has been made toward equal LGBT rights or sustainability; changing our “rape culture” is an equally asinine notion. We should let young men off the hook, as they are not smart enough to understand right from wrong, while reminding female victims that they’re to blame. 

Instead of teaching our young men to respect women and that “no” means “no,” we need to tell our young women not to trust men, not to dress certain ways and to stop acting like such “damn fools.”

Lil Frey

Eugene

 

GETTING FUNNIER

It used to be that “Red Meat” was the funniest part of the Weekly. Then you started printing people’s hissy-fit letters regarding your cover images and other portions of your publication! Man, it’s hilarious what some people get uppity about.

Brandon Butchko

Eugene

 

COUNTY GETS IN THE WAY

Support Local Food Rights is working to put the Local Food System Ordinance before Lane County voters to protect our rights to grow/distribute food free from GMO contamination and to save seed free from patents. Unfortunately, our own local government is hampering our efforts at direct democracy.

Last year, after our first filing, Andy Clark, assistant county counsel, said: “If there’s a doubt (about whether a measure meets the single-subject rule), it’s better to err on the side of putting the measure in front of the voters.” Support Local Food Rights couldn’t agree more.

However, Clark has since departed from his position. Following a ruling by Judge Charles Carlson that our ordinance didn’t comply with the pre-election requirements, the county has now rejected three revisions that specifically address the judge’s objections and county concerns. Instead of promoting a cooperative relationship, the county has identified a new objection with each filing.

We believe this action demonstrates that the county is unwilling to ensure the right of the people to engage the initiative process. It adds to the public’s growing understanding that communities are denied recourse when corporate interests are at stake — in this case, protecting local farmers and something as basic as the food we eat.

We must exercise our right to pass our own laws because the system that is supposed to protect us does not. This is not surprising in light of corporate political donations and lobbying groups like ALEC that drafted the seed preemption law (SB 863) passed by the Oregon Legislature last fall.

We contend that the ordinance does comply, especially given significant changes addressing the judge’s ruling, and have filed a challenge to the Clerk’s determination. Support Local Food Rights will continue to advocate for the right of the community — not corporations — to decide the future of our food system.

Michelle Holman

Deadwood

 

FACE THIN RESTORES THE FOREST

I’m writing in response to Dick Shearer’s June 19 letter regarding the Face Thin Timber Sale near Westfir, Ore. I’m a retired Forest Service forester who helped plan this project.

The only correct statement in Mr. Shearer’s letter was that this project was planned under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Shearer states, “All the 60-100 year-old second-growth Douglas fir along the byway will be gone” and that two casualties of this sale will be cool shade and clean water. First of all, the byway stretches 60 miles and this project only encompasses the first 3 miles. Second of all, as stated in its name, it is a thinning operation and will leave 70 of the largest, healthiest trees per acre. Thirdly, there is a 170-foot protection buffer along the North Fork River. A large portion of this sale is being yarded by helicopter, which reduces soil erosion and the need for temporary road construction.

The treatments under way will put the area on a path toward restoration to conditions that existed prior to the era of intensive logging practices: a more fire-resilient forest with wider-spaced, larger trees. This outcome is the intent of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

Eric Ornberg

Westfir

 

BOWL OF DICKS

Our community was divided when the University of Oregon decided to enact its own gun-toting police department to rough up young college students and increase the criminalization of youth by arresting and charging students for what would have previously been dealt with by the university disciplinary process. The civil rights organization I founded, the Civil Liberties Defense Center, has defended many UO students and has attempted to ensure that police officers with the power to legally kill humans remain accountable to the law and our community.

And so when I recently read the court documents filed by a UO Police Department whistleblower against former EPD officer turned UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed and UO Officers Lebrecht, Kent Abbot, Michael Drake, Adam Lillengreen, Eric LeRoy and Sgt. Bechdolt, I was pretty disgusted to find that the UOPD has been keeping a “Bowl of Dicks List.” 

Apparently the graveyard shift commander would regularly lead a discussion and compile a list of people and entities that the officers disliked and thought should “eat a bowl of dicks.” I was even more appalled to find my own name and organization listed on this sexist, racist, pathological, unprofessional list — even if I was in good company with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Judge Ann Aiken and Mayor Kitty Piercy, to name just a few.   

Are these sworn officers that intimidated by empowered women that their ultimate revenge would be to have us eat a bowl of penises? (They obviously don’t know I’m a vegan). The fact that these cops actually wrote this list down and repeatedly discussed it openly really demonstrates that they believed they could operate with impunity and abuse the power that we the people place in our law enforcement officers. As taxpayers, doesn’t it make you feel good that our public servants apparently have so much free time while protecting and serving that they can come up with a hate list of women and people of color?  

The UO Police Department must immediately terminate these unethical fools and the DPSST (Oregon police licensing authority) should revoke their ability to ever be police officers again.

Lauren Regan

Eugene

 

 

 

ASSERTIVE WOMEN

Last week my husband and I were enjoying a lively conversation and leisurely stroll into Down to Earth when, upon being followed closely by a woman with her head down and arms stiffened, we were rudely interrupted by her saying, “excuse me” — implying that we should let her squeeze through the tiny little section of the store where we were standing rather than simply going around us. 

When my husband let her pass, we were both a little taken aback, and he said, audibly, “Couldn’t go around, huh?” She came back to confront us and said that she was merely being “assertive” and that she was sorry that my husband couldn’t handle assertive women.

It was not so much the content of this interaction that bothers me, but the evident seething rage just under the surface of this young woman; I certainly hope that she is not what passes for assertive in our society. An assertive woman knows how to ask for what she needs in a way that is fair, not obtrusive and rude; an assertive woman, in her shoes, would simply see the alternate route and take it, rather than barge through.

Amy Mills 

Eugene

 

HEALTHY WORKPLACE

Paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave, works. In fact, the conservative American Prospect, in an April 17, 2014, article trumpets its success. Employee rights and benefits have always been opposed by naysayers. As a whole, employee advances in benefits and rights only come about through unions and legislation. We can’t wait for others to act on this issue. Employees deserve certain basic compensation as a moral right for services rendered. And they should not have to give up current wages or other benefits in exchange for paid sick leave.

Studies show that healthy employees result in a healthier work place. Paid sick leave will result in happier employees, greater productivity and better employer-employee relations.

Paid sick leave works and the facts from cities who have implemented this policy speak loudly of its success.

Christopher Michaels

Eugene

 

NEIGHBORHOOD WOES

One morning this last March my husband and I watched in horror as a fine house was razed completely to the ground, the rubble carted off to the dump. No efforts were made to recycle or repurpose anything. Soon after, construction crews came in to lay down the concrete foundations for what has exploded into a multi-unit, three-story townhouse project. 

 Every weekday morning (and the occasional Saturday) the construction begins at 7 am and continues non-stop until 7 pm. Loud, diesel-fueled equipment, blaring music from the workers’ radio, vulgar conversations between the workers who have to shout everything about what (and often who) they did the night before, and this all happens 15 feet from my bedroom window. It’s disgusting and abhorrent. 

I attempted to address these issues with the foreman but he blew me off as if I was just some other college kid. In point of fact, I’m a 32-year-old family man. Children should not be subject to these activities or behavior. I already have to deal with spoiled college kids who are here on scholarship, oozing a sense of entitlement. The police never patrol my street unless I’m the one to call to report a fight or a party that has spilled into the sunrise.

 And where are these tenants going to park? My complex is supposed to have two allotted spots for each unit, but my roommate often has to park blocks away because students will come steal our spots and then walk the rest of the way to their classes. Enough is enough. Why has the city of Corvallis given these “developers” carte blanche to do whatever they want, however they want? I feel violated and terrorized in my own home, and it's obviously not going to stop anytime soon.

J. Eaton & B. Rasberry

Corvallis

 

HANDS-ONLY CPR

A few weeks ago, I listened to an Oregonian’s heartwarming story of survival when he presented during a staff meeting at a fitness club in Gresham. Emotion’s aside, he delivered a clear and impactful message that the timely execution of CPR by two staff members of the club saved his life before EMS had arrived. Nearly 383,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11 percent survive, most likely because of a lack of receiving CPR in a timely matter. 

The American Heart Association has recognized an easily learned and very efficient method of CPR called Hands-Only CPR that requires nothing but your hands to perform and the courage to step up. By ensuring high school students in the state of Oregon learn Hands-Only CPR before graduating, we could put 45,000 additional lifesavers every year in our communities. I applaud Portland Mayor Charlie Hales for declaring the first week in June as CPR Awareness Week — and I urge Oregon state legislators to take a step in the right direction like Washington, Idaho and 14 other states and require Hands-Only CPR to be taught in all high schools by 2015. 

Cameron Croonquist

Portland