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Letters to the Editor: 10-18-2012

REMEMBERING MISA SMITH 1929 — 2012

There are a few people who quietly influence and bring out the best in this city. These people never seek center stage or public attention; they simply live from day to day doing what they have to do with dignity and strength, contributing immensely to our local culture.

Such a person was Misa Smith [who died Sept. 17]. She has been a constant measure of what is right about Eugene. A tiny lady with a wry and quiet sense of humor, Misa would look about the various Smith Family enterprises and comment, “Well, I certainly didn’t expect to be doing this.” Misa, the mom of five kids, always there at endless EBAA [now called Kidsports] games and school events, unexpectedly found herself having to take over the helm of the family business. As the head of Smith Family Bookstore, she supported countless Eugene cultural programs and was a quiet role model, instilling in four generations a love of books and the written word.

This successful businesswoman believed in the importance of civil rights and the worth of all cultures and demonstrated these values through her participation in our community. She cared. She mattered. She made a difference.

It is amazing that this tiny woman from a little mining town in the West had the determination to come to Eugene to the University of Oregon. Certainly she came to an entirely different environment. Then, after seeing herself as a full-time mom to a big family she had to suddenly step in and become the head of a family business upon the declining health of her husband. Misa was a fairy godmother in the wonderland of books to my children, my grandchildren, and my grandchildren’s children. And, as she would frequently say to me, “You do what you have to do.” 

Karen Alvarado, Eugene

 

BETTY AND THE MAYOR

What if the idea were to shift more of the council votes to 5-3? Who might benefit from that and how could it be done? Let’s try to think this through.

If the council remains evenly divided, then the mayor is empowered to break ties and become the decider. Since Mayor Piercy is not as conservative as the conservative half of the council, the more progressive side benefits by having a 4-4 council.

So, the strategy from a progressive point of view would be to keep Betty Taylor.

From a conservative point of view, the strategy would be to get someone to run against Betty who could claim to have her values, be portrayed as more vigorous and persuasive, and willing to consider some of the lesser unpalatable truths of the other side. The goal would be to get more 5-3 votes, especially in crucial times. The overall impact would be to reduce the power of the mayor to decide.

How to get this done? First, find an attractive young man with a compelling life story and have him move into Betty’s ward. Spend two years helping him with his bona fides, and provide some backing, but not too much so as to leave an obvious trail. Build dissonance among Democrats by encouraging their self-destructive tendencies. Hire the best turncoat possible. This, sad to say, is the easy part. 

Add in some ageism, an R-G editorial endorsement, and voila! People don’t really plan and exercise power this way, do they?

Jerry Diethelm, Eugene

 

DIFFERENT STANDARDS

The Lane County Commissioners appear to be deciding whether or not to invite public input based on their own bias. Three commissioners decided they will not hold a public hearing in Eugene on a resolution to support coal trains traveling through the city and communities in western Lane County. Yet, these same commissioners were anxious to hold a public hearing on plans to build an eight-mile bus rapid transit line in west Eugene.

Regarding the coal trains, Commissioner Jay Bozievich was quoted in The Register-Guard (10/4) as saying “I don’t think it rises to the need for a public hearing,” and that he thinks that “researching issues and making decisions is what the voters elect them [the commissioners] to do.”

However, his stance on the bus rapid transit along West 11th was completely opposite. Bozievich stated he believes many people who will be affected by the project are being shut out of the decision-making.

Coal export is an issue that would impact the entire western half of Lane County. Public input should be heard, no matter what side of the issue a person may take and particularly because coal mining and exporting is subsidized by public dollars. I ask, does it make sense to seek a public hearing for a local bus project while simultaneously refusing to give the public a voice in a coal export scheme that could impact thousands of county residents, as well as our air, water, salmon fisheries, energy policies and transportation infrastructure?

 Lisa Arkin, Executive director, Beyond Toxics

 

FALSE LOGIC

Letters in the 10/4 Weekly supporting Betty Taylor for Eugene City Council claim that contributions to her opponent Juan Carlos Valle define him as conservative. Don’t let this false logic will sway your vote! 

Fallacy #1: A donor’s beliefs are defined by her/his source of income. Betty’s campaign has received over $1,500 from Deborah Noble, who is in the timber business — she is an avid progressive but if you buy this fallacy, you will incorrectly assume that these donations are from the timber industry. 

Fallacy #2: A donation ensures that the candidate will do the donor’s bidding. One of Betty’s biggest donors is AutoCraft, an opponent of the West 11th extension of EmX. Did Betty oppose EmX so long because of AutoCraft’s donation? I trust that is not the case, just as I know that Juan Carlos won’t change his pro-environment, pro-equity stance because of some of his donations.

So why are folks from such diverse perspectives supporting Juan Carlos? Many of us progressives are supporting him because we want a candidate who not only has the right values but knows how to work with others to see them enacted. But all of his donors support him because they know that whatever their leaning, he will hear their concerns, weigh their input and craft a proposal that is good for Eugene that can get passed by the City Council. Betty won’t even take their call. 

Jon Belcher, Eugene 

 

MOST VALUABLE COUNCILOR

Does experience and achievement count? Betty Taylor introduced and saw passed in the City Council the advisory resolution against the infringement of civil rights and liberties contained in the PATRIOT Act. On the scoring of basic civil rights alone, Betty is, as former Oregon congressman Jim Weaver points out, “the most valuable member of the City Council.”

Then again, even if you take your civil rights and free speech for granted you may want to re-elect Councilor Taylor. If you own a dog in Eugene, or have gone to a concert in the parks enjoying the clean air and water, you should be thankful she is on the council.

Betty continues the fight to protect the Amazon headwaters, to protect the air basin against coal dust and other pollutants. She was also a leader in the creation of Eugene’s original six dog parks — these parks have the most user visits of any parks in the city, according to Parks and Recreation. Dislike dogs? By designating the off-leash dog areas, the city has significantly reduced off-leash dogs in the other city parks.

Councilor Taylor promises to remain an effective advocate for local arts, recreation, and education, as well as an incorruptible backbone for environmental protection. It’s not surprising that the real estate speculators and big timber interests have targeted her and aggressively bankrolled her opponent.

Kayte McDonald, Eugene

 

THE EASY CHOICE

Our law firm supports writing in Judge Jay McAlpin for judge. (Dog-in-fight full disclosure: Arnold Law practices family law and criminal defense, so we will be appearing in front of the incumbent.) I am worried about the many non-lawyers who have expressed concern that McAlpin has a legion of DAs campaigning on his behalf. 

Yes, it’s the easy choice to support a sitting judge that you have to appear in front of each day. The incumbent almost always wins. It’s a low risk endorsement for them and a low risk endorsement for us. Nonetheless, I write at the risk of appearing to make the easy choice as well.

I have had jury trials in front of both McAlpin and Municipal Court Judge Alan Leiman, McAlpin’s opponent (the two most qualified candidates, in our opinion). Both have ruled against me on issues and have both done so with sound, reasoned opinions (that I’m sure I still complained about in private). Consequently, I feel very informed about this election. 

Our endorsement of McAlpin, however, comes after a recent jury spoke highly of him in open court after a trial. After the jury acquitted our client, McAlpin excused them. Typically the jurors leaves the courtroom but this time something unusual happened: The foreman surprisingly piped up and said, “Can we say something?” Then he spoke on behalf of the jury, saying that they appreciated the way McAlpin conducted his courtroom and expressed their satisfaction with jury service. 

Their endorsement of McAlpin’s in-court conduct speaks more persuasively than any attorneys with a vested interest ever could. Join us in writing in “Jay McAlpin” for judge on the ballot. Don’t forget to fill in the oval next to his name. 

Mike Arnold, Managing partner at Arnold Law, Eugene

 

 

WRITE-IN LEIMAN

As a Lane County commissioner, as a lawyer, a former member of the Oregon State Senate Judiciary Committee and former prosecutor at the Lane County district attorney’s office, I’m urging Lane County voters to write in Alan Leiman for Judge of the Lane County Circuit Court, Position 7.

I’ve worked with Judge Leiman on a wide variety of matters, but specifically I urged him to serve on the Lane County Charter Review Committee. He did a great job on this assignment, reviewing the Lane County Charter for the first time since the mid 1970s. Leiman has served as one of the Eugene municipal judges and is currently the municipal judge for the city of Veneta. He’s also volunteered thousands of hours to many worthwhile efforts. Alan is uniquely experienced in that he has served as a public defender, on the bench and in private practice. Alan brings an impartial view to justice here in Lane County.

There are no filed candidates in the race, so it’s up to us — the registered voters. I urge all Lane County voters to write in Alan Leiman for Lane County Circuit Court judge.

Pete Sorenson, Eugene

 

LIVELY’S DEMEANOR

 I recently attended this year’s League of Oregon Cities Conference that featured keynote speaker, former New York Mets catcher Ed Hearn. Ed has undergone three kidney transplants since his glory days, and brought us a humble message of the significance of what we do for others and the value of public service. He spoke about “thinking outside the self,” as it applies to doing things for others. 

John Lively has become a classic example of someone who “thinks outside himself.” He understands the needs of a community and works diligently to meet those needs. During several years of frequent and often intense committee meetings on the art proposals for the new I-5 bridge he served as the project’s outreach facilitator. He has listened meticulously to every opinion put forth regarding the shaping of the bridges and their surroundings.

He has a keen knack for comprehending bewilderingly complex problems and can turn them into clear, easy to grasp resolutions. He has the ability to gain a quick perspective of issues and answers, yet he’s accessible with a warm demeanor that makes him a true team player in any working situation. His long history of important community service makes him the ideal person to represent us in the State Legislature. His clarity, honesty and surety inspire me to believe he will represent us in the best possible light for the benefit of all of Oregon. Elect him!

Scott Wylie, Springfield

 

SYRETT WILL BE GOOD

As Andrea Ortiz completes her service on the City Council, it is a great comfort to know that such an outstanding replacement comes with the unopposed candidacy of Claire Syrett. Claire has such a rich background of civic involvement that she will step right into the job from day one. 

Claire is well grounded in the principals of community advocacy, having cut her organizing teeth in 2004 when she brought together a diverse labor council of community leaders to successfully find solutions in an LTD labor dispute. She served on the city Budget Committee for six years, chairing her last two. She served on the Human Services Commission for three years, chairing one. Her leadership is hallmarked by an ability to articulate her positions and opinions without demonizing an opposing viewpoint. She is open to fact-based opinions, cares about and listens to the stories of the people, and knows that the art of politics is all about compromise. She embraces the solidarity creed, “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

So thanks to Andrea and welcome to Claire as the next progressive representative of Ward 7 on the Eugene City Council.

Jay Moseley, Eugene

 

VALLE’S HUMILITY

I admire Juan Carlos Valle. He pulled himself up by the bootstraps, just as I did, but I had the advantage of being born in the U.S. Valle had to work harder than I to succeed, yet he has the humility to give credit for his success to those who helped him. His biography is commendable. 

We should all thank him for his willingness to stand for election even as he faces the opposition of a local political machine. Valle’s candidacy for Ward 2 city councilor appears to have changed the incumbent’s recent public vote on at least one issue. Since he forced a November runoff for the seat, the incumbent abandoned her years of opposition to the West 11th Avenue EmX. It now matches Valle’s long-held opinion on the matter. His willingness to seek common ground has chased her to it. 

We who live in Ward 2 are fortunate for the rare opportunity presented to us in this election. Valle is clearly our future. We have the opportunity to pursue that future now or live in the past for four more years.

 Michael Miller, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Juan Carlos Valle was undecided on the West Eugene EmX when we first interviewed him April 13 for the primary race. It was not until July 3 that he announced his support. See http://wkly.ws/1df

 

TIME FOR PAYBACK

If Mitt wins the White House, mostly by profiting from the total lack of compromise by the congressional Republicans, I have only that one word of direction for our congressional delegation when they head back to Washington after the election break. 

Shut down any major bills coming from the White House, and in the Senate put a hold on any bill that hurts the poor.

After all, if it is fine to shut down the country when Democrats are in power, then it is equally fair for the left to do the same. And if right-wing Americans complain, just point out they rewarded the White House to those who used the same tactic. Compromise is just another word for “the rich get richer.” 

Why do I ask for this hard line? Well, imagine a herd of deer surrounded by wolves. The mayor of the deer goes out to talk to the wolves. She comes back and says that a compromise has been reached. The smallest and poorest of the deer shudder — they know that compromise with wolves means that one of them will be sacrificed. Compromise with Republicans these days just results in the poor being sacrificed. Republicans hate government, want to strangle it, to use it to bully the poor. So many are dying from lack of medical care, not to mention housing and a basic sense of hope, now is the time for — payback.

Hugh Massengill, Eugene

 

NEARLY RUN OVER

This past week marks my first year in Eugene. I love it here. I observed though when I arrived how very careful, polite and slow everyone appeared to drive. I was delighted that people cared about each other in that way. 

However, did I have blinders on or have things changed? Last week I was almost run over by a car making an unsignaled turn in front of me. I have been noticing in my neighborhood, which borders 18th to 13th and Willamette to Jefferson that cars are zooming through with little regards to speed or pedestrians, cats, dogs, etc. 

This is a request for all who are reading this: Please, please, please go slower, watch more carefully, be aware of your surroundings. 

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as important as Life.

Kathe Forrest, Eugene

 

TOO MANY GUNS

Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan was asked whether he thinks we have a gun problem in America. 

First, he said we have a “crime problem in our inner cities.” And I agree with him — though we have a crime problem in our suburbs and towns, too, as recent mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin painfully reminded us.

Second, he said we should enforce the gun laws we have. And I agree with him on that point too — and I am committed to doing all that we can to make sure that criminals and other dangerous people don’t exploit the legal loopholes that allow them to easily buy guns. But this does not change the fact that there are too many illegal guns in every community in our country.

But what he didn’t say is a glaring omission: he declined to say what concrete steps he and Gov. Romney would take to reduce the gun violence that kills 32 Americans every day.

And he’s not alone in his silence: President Obama hasn’t told us his plan to stop the violence either.

There’s no excuse for this lack of leadership — from Rep. Ryan and Gov. Romney, or from President Obama and Vice President Biden. Not when 48,000 Americans will be killed with guns during the next president’s term. Isn’t gun policy something we should talk about? Is avoiding the issue any way to address the second leading cause of death of young Americans?

Curtis Taylor,
Eugene

 

UNITED STATES OF ALEC

I saw a documentary on Moyers and Company Sept. 28 on the United States of ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is the most influential political force heard of by some. It is a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profit at the public’s expense. It claims to be nonpartisan. In other parts of the country more people are becoming disenfranchised with their voting rights like in what happened with Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. 

I am concerned about how few people are aware that this is going on. It is critical to inform as many people as possible concerning this issue because this concerns the outcome of this 2012 election. You can find more information by going to http://wkly.ws/1d5 

Find more information on what is being done to mitigate this problem at http://wkly.ws/1da 

 Cecelia Levine, Eugene