LACK OF ENVIRO ENFORCMENT
Gratifying to see a thorough piece of investigative reporting leave the ivory tower and enter the public arena (“DEQ Has Oregon In Dirty Hot Water,” EW, Feb. 23). What the three journalism students learned about Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s dereliction of its duty to prosecute polluters is sadly representative of other “enforcement” agencies state and nationwide.
While it’s true that most agencies and programs have been starved to impotence if not death by political malfeasance, enforcement has long been more of a paper tiger than an effective deterrent to scofflaws. Lane County’s land use enforcement program, for example, has only one official and a distinct distaste for taking any action that may lead to a costly court proceeding, no matter how egregious the violation and winnable the case. And it exists in an uneasy relationship with a libertarian, anti-regulation majority of county commissioners.
For the most part, the Department of Land Conservation and Development exercises its responsibility as overseer of the state’s land use system by ignoring or refusing to take action against counties and municipalities that routinely facilitate development and growth at the expense of conservation and protection.
At the national level the EPA has consistently been hamstrung by lack of funding and a political unwillingness to regulate corporate polluters. It is therefore ironic and certainly testimony to the dark days ahead that the present occupant of the White House — when he’s not in the Trump Tower — is hell-bent on eliminating already anemic regulation entirely.
Robert Emmons, Fall Creek
¡VIVA LA WEEKLY!
¡Que una maravillosa cover on the Feb. 23 issue! ¡Salud a Johanis!
A heroic image electrifies and instantly cements the values of an isolated and, arguably, a quaint shire sandwiched between stoic farmland and fractious mountain forestries, locales predictably conservative and devoted to maintaining suppression of change; but we are right now forced to be change itself under zealous attacks against freedom of press, equality and access to the institutions of the nation.
Every single gesture, attitude, meme, political assembly, song and poem of ours counts in ways that take on lives of their own, and it is especially the honest, brave, unassuming, modest individual expressions in their massive collectivity that are the heart and backbone of democracy — which in part explains why the top-heavy Democratic Party establishment, while genuinely our allies, are fundamentally, structurally unable to effectively contend with a threat to democracy like the one on the ground currently racing to us like a bullet train.
This mighty little town rises to the challenge by, among other things, supporting a lively news weekly with, for example, the stellar, sharp lacerating wit of Tom Tomorrow’s This Modern World. Eugene’s reputation for grassroots sophistication had come to my awareness four decades ago, ages before I had ever set foot.
I’ve only lived in Oregon, in Springfield, a little more than two years, but I can compare the spunk, vigor and relevance of EW to other mature, smart and sassy similar weeklies in San Francisco, New York and Vermont, where I have lived most of my (now long) life.
EW is one of my barometers of metropolitan Eugene’s quality of life. Your covers are consistently creative, inspiring, mordantly critical and-or refreshingly engaging raising a curtain each week to the stage of the city’s politics and culture!
¡Salud a EW!
Jesse Cox, Springfield
WELCOME TO THE ACCIDENTAL ART HOTEL
We wish to thank Ben Ricker for an incredibly informative and sensitive article about the artists who live in Benton Plaza, here in Corvallis. Also our thanks to EW photographer Trask Bedortha, his portraits were the perfect complement.
To see this as a cover article was all the more amazing. The community response to our exhibit has been incredible, and include an artist who lives in a similar supported housing unit in Eugene, who made it a point to visit.
Our thanks to all who made this possible.
Bruce Burris, CEI/ArtWorks, Corvallis
BUILD A WALL
Perhaps one possible solution to the problem of people acting poorly in the downtown area is to build a wall around the district and make the transients pay for it.
I have read that banning dogs will not work because people could say it is a service dog. Why not ban blankets? These people sit on blankets or have blankets in their luggage.
Blankets were used to kill native peoples by infecting the blankets with smallpox. Perhaps these rude people will do the same. These are blanket terrorists!
As a separate item, I would like to say Eugene Skinner was not here alone. His wife Mary worked very hard, I am certain. The city of “Eugene and Mary,” or “Mary and Eugene,” perhaps.
Richard Hill, Elmira
“Amazon Corner” is a six-story apartment complex and underground garage monstrosity to be built in the peaceful, comfortably settled, residential community area of South Eugene.
This five or six story, out-of-place, misappropriated chunk of cement would interrupt a unique, beautiful view for anyone looking up from the streets or looking down from the hills.
Introducing close to two hundred new people with cars to a smaller, unprepared community in South Eugene already “busting at the seams” is ludicrous.
Parking lots are often full, street crossings are poorly designed, bicycle lanes are incomplete, roads are in poor repair and small, hilly neighborhoods would be difficult to live in if more cars parked on private-like roads whose homeowners have had to experience crowded parking places, thefts and loss of wildlife.
South Eugene residents will suffer from poor decisions by developers and local government who obviously do not care about the area they are planning to desecrate.
Say goodbye to our healthy, green, beautiful, peaceful South Eugene. I will especially miss the wildlife.
Eve Woodward-Shawl, Eugene
COME TO THE TABLE
What’s with all the letters to the editor criticizing the Left? I can’t open EW without seeing them, week after week. Before Trump’s election, these kinds of letters were far and few between.
Are more individuals coming out of the woodwork, empowered by Trump’s election, or is this an organized propaganda campaign?
Attacking each other’s dogmas, Left or Right, will not save us. Name-calling will not save us. America is facing serious problems, and we need to work together to find solutions. How can we listen past the rhetoric and respect each other’s point of view?
The Left, if there could be such a thing, is made up of people with real concerns. Trump does not seem to have the good of the wider society, or the rights of citizens, in sight.
People who support Trump also have real concerns. I don’t agree with whom they blame (people of color, women’s rights activists, immigrants, politicians) but our problems are real. Many of them are caused by environmental damage from pollution and unsustainable resource extraction, and the resulting loss of traditional rural jobs.
If we could come to the table and learn from each other, we might find that we are all environmentalists — both to protect nature and to protect jobs.
What part of your First World lifestyle can you give up in order to ease the pressure on our environment, economy and social structure? What real solutions have you found to climate change, deforestation, overpopulation and chemical agriculture? How can we make humbleness and respect our core American values?
Let’s stop attacking people and think together towards real solutions.
Kara Huntermoon, Eugene
LEIGHTON FOR 4J BOARD
Please join me in supporting my mother Dr. Mary Leighton for 4J. Mary has 45 years of public school experience in locations as diverse as inner city Chicago and the rural Alaska Native village of Kwigillingok, Alaska.
An Oregon Ph.D. graduate in education, she taught elementary school, mentored teachers on a Navajo reservation, conducted policy research in Washington, D.C., and served as a principal in public, private and charter schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Mary knows how to bring people together. Seeing a divide between business and education, she started a course for teachers to learn about local businesses. Those businesses have learned more about our schools and the challenges teachers face.
These collaborative experiences will help her bolster better career and technical education (CTE) programs. CTE builds a critical bridge between school and the workplace. Just last night, I found her at a party talking with 4J teachers and the carpenters union about apprenticeship opportunities for students. Those partnerships can extend into other sectors of the economy, from tech to healthcare.
Mary is a champion for equity. Many 4J kids living in poverty go to schools mostly with other kids from poor families, severely limiting their opportunities. 4J does not provide transportation for these children to access choice programs and does too little to enrich their public school experience.
Mary’s experience gives her the tools to help us get to where we need to be.
Please join me in supporting Mary for 4J.
Marty Wilde, Eugene
In a world stoked by amplified fears of ideology-based terrorism, the far greater threats to our public health and safety are not receiving their due discussion. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, 2015 alone saw more than 52,000 deaths from drug overdose.
The majority of these deaths involved prescription opioids like Oxycontin or Vicodin, or illegal drugs like heroin. The CDC has noted a 33 percent rise in overdoses over just the past five years.
Now there is a new wave of synthetic opioids flooding into our country from China and elsewhere. Some of these, like carfentanil, are 10,000 times more potent than morphine, making for a perfect storm of overdosing.
It is not surprising that people are seeking to escape from pain. Even aside from the misery associated with acute and chronic injuries or syndromes, our world presents us with demanding challenges in terms of emotional betrayals, financial pressures and political upheavals. We badly need to find coping strategies that do not present a high risk for addiction and/or injury and death by overdose.
The answer is not increased warfare, as evidenced by the completely failed War on Drugs. Throughout history, indigenous cultures have promoted ways of tapping into our own inner resources — ways that include initiation, meditation and prayer, community ritual, vision quests, use of medicinal plants and altruistic endeavors. These have all proven effective and safe over millennia for addressing the challenges that simply being alive can bring.
We at the locally based Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies (ECfES.org) are looking forward to making time-honored remedies available to our community, as our organization’s mission continues to develop.
Vip Short, Carolyn Adams Garcia, James Joseph, Michael Connelly, Barclay Powers, Prism Marlow and Nicki Scully, Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies
PROFITS VS. HEALTH CARE
“Repeal and replace” has been as catchy a phrase as “make America great again,” and neither has substance. The Republicans have had eight years to come up with a replacement for Obamacare, but nothing!
We need to get real and face the fact that affordable, universal health care tied to the market is not possible. Even Obamacare has suffered for lack of price controls and the soaring profits of what has become a cash cow industry, rather than a compassionate calling — that is, caring for the sick. Too much profit flows to private insurance and health care providers, even under Obamacare.
I recently saw the billing for a friend’s elderly mother who had been in a local hospital for six days, including a hip replacement. Her insurance company was billed $185,000 by the hospital. Does this need comment?
Anything the Republicans come up with in a last ditch effort will be more of the same uncontrolled market-based health care and insurance that will take us back to bankruptcies, people going untreated and some even dying because of lack of care.
Let’s seriously start talking about Medicare for all in which everyone is registered via Social Security and everyone pays a fair premium included in taxes. Let’s finally lift the economic burden and inhumane consequence of treating health care as a commodity and start providing care for every American with a humane and cost-effective system.
Russ DesAulnier, Eugene
DUMP CITY MANAGER RUIZ
It has been almost 9 years since the hiring of Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz. Since then, Eugeneans have voiced opinions on many key issues — and have been ignored.
The replacement of the police station was twice voted down, but Ruiz went ahead. Despite a study showing its unpopularity, EmX continued on.
The bike lane added to arguably our busiest street at its busiest stretch: Citizens never were given a chance to vote on it, despite clear opposition to turning the major artery of Willamette Street into a two-lane road already burdened with many turn offs.
Capstone, the greatest blunder in Eugene planning since Ya-Po-Ah, will be a blight for decades; the lack of setbacks and landscaping is horrific.
But there is even more: A last-minute intervention kept Ruiz from ramming through the immensely unfair and unpopular South Willamette redevelopment plan. And, during all of this, Ruiz has walked daily through our downtown, seemingly unaware of or unable to address the most serious need of all: citizen safety.
It took a study to convince Ruiz what had been apparent to Eugeneans for years: Downtown “travelers” had taken over, intimidating us from enjoying our own town. For years, citizens were embarrassed of City Hall because Ruiz had ceased maintaining it. Worse, we have paid $5 million for a pile of rubble (an independent audit of this is long past due).
And worst of all, Ruiz has just been stopped from raiding half of the Comcast $419 million windfall to expand this fiasco’s budget by 46 percent.
It is time to thank Mr. Ruiz for his “service,” and summarily show him the door.
Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene
EUGENE’S LIMOUSINE LIBERALS
Limousine Liberal Bourgeois continue to rot their brains smoking tie-dye then passing toxic and narcissistic legislation. Their latest proposal is to demonize the homeless further by criminalizing dogs downtown and expanding our city’s no-smoking ordinances — another deplorable assault on Traditional American Values by the Left.
There are many reasons to allow both dogs and smoking downtown or across the city in general: “Let the dogs roam free!” We have no reason to make criminals of otherwise law-abiding people and dogs.
Our City Council, mayor and city manager have repeatedly shown both incompetence and heartlessness. The city’s public funds are completely wasted.
Eugene has real problems with drug abuse, domestic violence, poverty and hunger. How is our city supposed to solve these problems when our officials cannot get City Hall built within budget? Our city already wasted $4 million dollars on concept design and advising, paying it to out-of-town corporations for City Hall.
In conclusion, dogs and smoking are cool. The city needs to prioritize women’s safety over the welfare of criminal junkies. The People’s Rights to Puppies or Cigarettes Shall Not Be Infringed, and delivering tampons for women should be a City Budget priority.
Stefan Strek, Eugene, OR