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Letters to the Editor 2017-05-18

OCF STORY POLE DECISION

Congratulations to the Oregon Country Fair board for a wise and prudent decision (May 4, “OCF Cancels Story Pole”).

There is a place where style and tradition intersect. But tradition leaves style at the crossroads and goes a longer, proven journey through generations. It takes cultural memory … where are your ancestors buried ?

Although our minds are colonized by the omnipresent corporate dominion, we have to diminish our own colonial attitudes and not squander privilege on ourselves. 

Who is setting the agenda? Who has privilege, wealth and control? What is the value of time and the sanctity of place? Not tested by time and place, pop culture goes pop and the weasels are then gone.

Richard Gross, Deadwood

 

TREATIES WERE CALLED ‘VALID,’ TOO

What does it mean to say, “The tribes did not respond in an organizationally valid way?” I’m not sure, but it reminded me of DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline] representatives claiming that Standing Rock people did not respond to their request for input on the Dakota Access Pipeline project. As we later heard, that claim was false.

It’s not that hard to get in touch with Native people in Oregon. It’s time for white people (I’m one of them) to step outside the comfort zone of cultural dominance.

Kate Tyson, Eugene

 

YELLOW JOURNALISM

One phrase from the lead article “Wanted: Dead or Online” (May 11) summed up this entirely unnecessary, self-indulgent article by Rick Levin: “morbid curiosity.” Yeah, so much fun to dwell on the misfortunes of others, isn’t it?

Morbid curiosity indeed, as in watching the aftermath of a car crash to see if there’s blood on the road, or chortling over how so and so fucked up. Well, at least MY shit doesn’t stink, hah, hah. Er, um ...

This article belongs in the likes of National Enquirer — or preferably nowhere. Why sensationalize a sad situation? People screw up sometimes, some more often than others. So what?

Since when has Eugene Weekly become a mouthpiece for vigilante style journalism?

I personally don’t want to stare at faces of people caught in the moments of their indiscretions.

Especially since the election, there’s been an explosion of Us vs. Them smugness and intolerance. The Weekly fuels this undesirable trend with articles such as this that serve no useful purpose. I would hope that the Weekly would build bridges rather than rely on yellow journalism to boost its ad sales. Too much to ask?

On a related note, the cover designs of the last two papers have IMO been ugly and off-putting.

Peter Holden, Eugene

 

INTERFAITH BEFORE 9/11

Interfaith services in Eugene started before Sept. 11, 2001. For years the interfaith community had Thanksgiving services that brought eight to 10 different religious denominations together demonstrating their prayers of Thanksgiving, followed by a potluck pie dessert.

When 9/11 occurred it was natural for the Eugene mayor to contact the interfaith community for a prayer service. Several clergy and lay people met with the mayor and created a prayer service similar to what had been done for Thanksgivings.

The service was held that evening at Cuthbert Amphitheater. About 400 people showed up.

The next day President Bush declared the coming Friday a day of prayer. Again the mayor met with interfaith community folks to plan an interfaith service. It was a slightly expanded version of the one done on 9/11, with different prayers and, sometimes, different representatives.

The service was at the First United Methodist Church and about 1,000 people showed up.

Since the two Eugene services were very successful, Siri Kaur Khalsa and Vida Ellins got together and proposed to the Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries (TRIM) board that a 9/11-type service should be done on the 11th of each month indefinitely. TRIM thought it was an excellent idea but was concerned about where would the people power come to do such a service in an on-going way.

Khalsa and Ellins volunteered to start the process. TRIM supported them and helped in many ways to make each service successful.

Irwin Noparstak, Eugene

 

KILLING SOCRATES, AGAIN

In a heavily utilitarian society, it’s not surprising the first subjects to get cut in a college budget crisis are religion and philosophy (“Philosophy is Dangerous,” Viewpoint, 4/27). 

It’s that flat, utilitarian society against which '60s youth rebelled. Unfortunately, after a brief moment of collective effervescence, most '60s youth got sucked back into the utilitarian culture of consumer capitalism during the Thatcher-Reagan era. 

The neofascist Donald Trump embodies an intensification of that era. Centrist Democrats notwithstanding, it’s an era marked by a neo-conservative establishment, the new religious right and “The Me Generation” culture of narcissism. 

Ironically, Plato founded the academy in ancient Athens with the subject of philosophy and the Athenian state executed his teacher, Socrates, for corrupting youth. 

Religion has its dark, oppressive and repressive sides personally and socially — which is one reason to study it and why Marx said the critique of religion is the beginning of all critique — but the Biblical prophets are among our first social critics, the Roman imperium executed Jesus, and Buddha strongly criticized the Hindu caste system.

So, there’s much politically and publicly relevant to learn from religions and philosophies — along with the psychological insights of Zen, Daoism, Hebrew Bible wisdom literature and St. Augustine’s Confessions.

Sam Porter, Eugene

 

SUPPORT OREGON’S CLEAN ENERGY BILLS

One of the Trump Administration’s goals is to increase employment and make the U.S. energy independent. Their policy to achieve this is through the revitalization of oil, gas and coal.

While these natural resources were responsible for building our modern economy, they are no longer safe or economical. These misguided policies are damaging to the environment and to job growth for all Americans. 

In an effort to move forward on addressing climate change and creating jobs in clean energy, the Oregon Legislature currently has two matching bills under consideration: SB 557 and HB 2135. 

These matching bills would place a much-needed price on carbon, provide assistance for low-income residents, create clean energy jobs and assist business.

The Eugene chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) voted unanimously to endorse the passage of these bills. While CCL would prefer a simpler fee and dividend approach to pricing carbon, Oregon law prohibits the dividend portion of such an approach. In light of that, and because of the urgent need to take action on climate change as well as create jobs, we endorse these two bills.

Please consider contacting your representatives to offer your personal endorsement for action on climate and jobs. 

Peter Kugler, Springfield

 

OREGON MARCHING BACKWARD

What is the Oregon Legislature thinking? A tax on non-carbon producing transportation? Why don’t we give bikes away rather than tax them?

Is the Oregon Legislature in climate change denial? We are marching backward.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

NEAR-DEATH BIKING

Cyclists beware the danger at the intersection of Blair and Seventh. My family was almost hit within the intersection on May 8, around 8:40 am.

Traveling on Blair, a car in front of us had triggered the light, not my triple-tandem on the diamond. When we followed the car, the light turned yellow as we entered the intersection. Halfway through it turned red. On the far side of Seventh a cell-phone-impaired driver rolled through on the green almost T-boning my family. 

Cyclists all have near-death stories and many are killed. These come from our interaction with cars, SUVs, trucks. Those who ride with heavy loads, like children, maybe more so, because we’re slow to cross intersections and are acutely sensitive to the ways our children’s lives are in jeopardy. 

Blair is a designated bikeway with “SHARROS.” The timing of the light and all the lights along Sixth and Seventh avenues are being set for the EmX. Keeping the EmX moving increases profitability. I get it. It may be at the cost of cyclists’ lives. 

Eugene will not meet its goals of the Zero Resolution or the Climate Ordinance if bicycling in Eugene is dangerous. I can’t bike in support of the Climate Ordinance if it means killing my children. 

The danger along Seventh and Eighth avenues needs to be fixed before a cyclist is killed. While we’re at it, make West 11th a two-way Bike Boulevard! Step away from lethal “painted” bike lanes.

Otis Haschemeyer, Eugene

 

WHY NOT, WYDEN?

I didn’t know much about Ron Wyden before I attended his May 5 Town Hall in Cottage Grove. The vast majority of the questions at the event revolved around health care. And even when they didn’t, Wyden’s answers did. So let’s talk about health care.

A huge number of people support the U.S. joining the rest of the civilized world in creating a single-payer health care system. One of the first questions asked of Wyden was whether he supported that idea. His answer dodged the question.

Later, another questioner expressed disappointment in the senator’s answer and asked again. Again, the senator dodged the question, and the young person who asked was left muttering to himself, dissatisfied.

Sen. Wyden was speaking to a crowd that clearly wanted to hear him say that he supports a single-payer system. His dodging of the issue made it pretty obvious that he doesn’t.

Attention, politicians. People want to hear more than just “I’m going to fight the other team.” They want to know that you understand the problems we face and that you’re not afraid to talk about the real solutions.

Ivan DelSol, Cottage Grove

 

KEVIN MATTHEWS FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONER

I’m tired of the phrase “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” especially when coming from people who should know better than using it against the people’s own interests. 

Kevin Matthews is a proven progressive for Lane County, not an establishment Dem chasing unavailable votes and heavily polluted corporate money by being unabashedly “centrist.” There’s no time or energy to play the centrism game — not on our County Commission or any other legislative body.

Indeed, our very planet may not survive if we stay stuck in the past, losing and with dangerous electoral ways.

How many more buttes do you want to see knocked over by the greedy gravel companies in Lane County? How many more years do you choose to live in a conservatively hamstrung county that tries to use county funds to sue FEMA for the corporations and against the salmon and floodplain habitat protection? 

With Stewart’s resignation, we had the chance for a saner Board by the appointment of an outspoken environmentalist like Matthews. We’ll have another chance in 2018, if we elect Kevin Matthews to the County Commission.

Change the tired trope to “Don’t let your fears be the enemy of what actually works for real people.”

Dianne Lobes, Eugene

 

BOXES OF ALLOWABLE ACTIVISM

There are many futile ways of attempting to help the Earth’s balanced life systems. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) categorizes its many pointless forms into “the boxes of allowable activism.” These containers encompass the ways permitted by each society to remedy its problems. 

Writing letters to the editor, running for office, lobbying, begging politicians, sign waving and trying to change legislature are not even allowed in some other dictatorial, fascist regimes. In ours, unfortunately, they only portray a semblance of democracy, a hollow feeling that “here, if a individual or group is determined, he or she can shape everyday reality.”

To be sure, this has worked in some instances, although never unaided by stronger, riskier, more radical, even painful acts.

These “cages of allowable remedies” are the actions that the system, the global economy, the banks, the governments and the big corporations with their puppets the regulating agencies “allow” freedom fighters to “effect change” with. They have very little elbowroom and aren’t beneficial even in the cases where their (limited) aims are attained. 

Agencies to regulate food, the environment, labor standards, government, corporations, drugs allowed, etc., restrict rather than aid the efforts of the most intelligent, compassionate and vital members of our world. They are a straitjacket upon the sane, psychiatric drugs meant to deaden the senses of the intelligentsia, lobotomies for healthy brains.

Methods needing another level of creativity and sacrifice are required today. This time let’s put our two cents, our sweat and our blood into the mix.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

 

 

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

This is a diversion from politics, personal banter and other local events.

Let's talk about all that rain and very little (two days) of spring!

We all know “spring flowers and April showers," but this is ridiculous. Those poor flowers trying to bloom, and confused chirping birds waiting to sing all day!

Lots of depressed people are waiting for the delayed arrival of spring. A winter of gray skies and snow (almost unheard of in Eugene) — so, where is spring?

Hope it gets here soon!

Stace Webb, Eugene

 

COALS TO NEWCASTLE

Transportation plans and infrastructure funding have been recent topics on the state and local levels. The May 9 Register-Guard article “Lawmakers Unveil Transportation Package” stated lawmakers are considering increases to registration fees of $60 to vehicles that get 40 mpg or greater, and $20 increases to vehicles that get less than 20 mpg. Their reasoning is that owners of high efficiency cars are paying less in gas taxes because they use less fuel.

This rationale is sending the wrong message to get vehicle owners into more efficient vehicles. The Oregon Climate Report states 37 percent of carbon emissions come from transportation and recommends switching to electric vehicles. The Oregon Clean Fuel Standards recommends a reduction in transportation fuels of 10 percent in ten years and the Oregon Global Warming Commission has a carbon reduction goal of 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Electric and more efficient vehicles with less carbon emitting pollution, public transit, bicycling and walking should be encouraged by state and local lawmakers as they look to solve future transportation requirements. The technology is there and the auto industry needs to switch to this market. Public demand should dictate industry supply with efficient vehicles being more economical for the consumer and better for the environment.

The coal industry is seeing its last days as an energy provider; so too vehicles that get less than 35 mpg should see their last days as a transportation provider.

Jim Neu, Eugene

 

A BIG BANG

The explanation of protections in House Bill 2131 (Register-Guard editorial, “The Risks of Oil Trains," May 12) clearly describes the need for more stringent regulation with the movement of crude oil by rail. Unfortunately, HB 2131 does not address a more imminent danger possibly coming down the tracks: liquefied natural gas.

Union Pacific and several other railway companies have applied for permits to carry LNG by rail in the lower 48 states. Currently, Alaska is the only state to allow LNG by rail.

This highly flammable gas, fracked from the same wells as Bakken crude oil, is chilled and condensed to a liquid below 160 degrees Celsius and one six-hundredth the volume of its gaseous state. 

A liquid spill would pool and evaporate into a cloud for more than a mile that would ignite once it found an ignition source.

Think of your gas can connected to your grill, only magnified to the size of a rail car exploding in downtown Eugene. Wanna get away?

HB 2131 should be written to include regulation of LNG by rail. 

Jim Neu, Eugene

 

THE TRUMP NARRATIVE

Way to control the narrative, President Trump. Pull the trigger on Comey a day after Sally Yates wins the news cycle. That'll keep the attention off your tiny feet and 18-day delay on firing Flynn.

Marlene Nesary, Eugene

 

SESSIONS’ RACIST WAR

How can we stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from instigating another round of the War on Drugs, which has unwaveringly focused on black and Latino neighborhoods, filling for-profit prisons and disrupting and disenfranchising the communities of people of color?

A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions’ intent is to keep Americans safe, but there is no evidence that the Obama administration’s less aggressive approach toward prosecuting drug cases led to a rise in crime.

Sessions’ record in the area of civil rights is dubious at best, which leads me to suspect that his department will display no more even-handedness than those of previous Republican administrations.

Perhaps we can get our legislators to deny funding for this latest law-and-order blitz.

Patricia Bryan, Eugene