• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Letters to the Editor: 2-7-2013

ABUSE OF POWER

The “Neighborhood Groups Exonerated” news brief Jan. 31 accurately reported how City Councilor Chris Pryor instigated a formal investigation of neighborhoods’ involvement in a land use appeal without having any supporting evidence of wrongdoing, and how the city attorney’s investigation completely exonerated neighborhood leaders. However, some important facts weren’t mentioned.

The discussion between Paul Conte, the lead appellant, and James Spickerman, the attorney for OBO Enterprises, the developer, was initiated by an email from Deputy City Attorney (DCA) Emily Jerome on March 1, 2012: “I spoke with Jim Spickerman this morning. He is interested in considering the terms you would propose for a possible settlement of the OBO LUBA appeal. Would you please send an email describing those terms to Jim and me? ... I am happy to assist.”

The entire communication between Spickerman, Jerome and Conte consisted of the following: March 1 – two emails from Jerome, one email from Spickerman and three emails from Conte in response to the three emails from Jerome and Spickerman. All three parties were aware of all six emails. March 7 – An email from Spickerman to Conte and my response. Jerome was copied on both.

No agreement was reached, ending the settlement discussions. Never during the discussions was there the slightest mention of illegality or improper actions on anyone’s part. Then on May 8, Spickerman sent Jerome an email that attempted to suborn the DCA into committing libel and/or slander. Spickerman’s email said: “I would hope you will not be reticent to share word of Mr. Conte’s attempted extortion with others at the city.”

I discovered the role played by the developer’s attorney only after submitting a public records request in May, forcing the city to produce Spickerman’s email. The discovery meant the city attorney’s office had the entire email exchange in hand, as well as Spickerman’s compromising request to the DCA, and yet neither the city attorney nor city manager provided City Council this information when Pryor made his motion.

Two credible witnesses, including a city councilor who voted for the investigation, told me that the “extortion” smear campaign was the work of a few individuals in the downtown development/real estate community whose intent was to weaken neighborhood organizations and “take Conte out” of the ongoing debate over the Capstone Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption application.

I provided this information to the city manager, who apparently did nothing to investigate or advise councilors of the potential motivation behind Pryor’s motion.

This whole smear campaign has been a shameful abuse of official power, unfortunately tolerated, if not encouraged, by the city manager and mayor.

Paul Conte, Eugene

 

CHAOS AT THE COUNTY

More splashing in the cesspool that is Lane County Government. No surprise Liane Richardson was chosen for a big juicy raise, despite layoffs and jail releases. No surprise we paid for yet another survey as to whether the public would be stupid enough to fund another measure, despite years and years of failed ones. (How many surveys and ballot measures have the taxpayers paid for now?) No surprise that Commissioner Jay Bozievich quickly shot his copy of the preliminary review hostile to former Commissioner Rob Handy to the R-G as the ink dried. No surprise that Marc Kardell was shown the door. No surprise that John Brown takes a money request and gives it to Alan Thayer (buddy to Handy’s opponent Pat Farr), who filed the ethics charges. 

Was anyone surprised when Ellie Dumdi (and a timber-funded buddy) sued the liberal members of the commissioners who fueled the feeding frenzy? Any surprise the board tried to fund extra helpers for themselves while the county was struggling? Any surprise that commissioners gerrymandered the districts to make electing a conservative easier? And how about silently changing the rules on Free Speech Plaza three days after people were arrested, and in a power grab Richardson wrote that she has sole authority to change the rules at will?

Heaven help us.

Richard Chandler, Springfield

 

COMMON GROUND

I have lived through several failed tax measures in Eugene and Lane County. What I have learned is that though I have strong beliefs about fair taxation, many others have beliefs just as strong and very different than mine. Meanwhile, both city and county services are eroding. Although I don’t consider myself particularly moderate, I will say that experience has taught me that we must seek common ground or continue to lose great people to better funded cities and counties, as well as the services that they provided.

The city of Eugene could change direction with a modest tax or fee. Although flat taxes are indeed regressive, I am afraid that the leftist criticism of the proposed Eugene taxes will doom them to failure.

Over the four years I have served on the Human Services Commission, and as a representative of the Lane County Budget Committee, I have seen universal losses across all of the nonprofits, cuts from every level of government. In Lane County, we have lost $47 million a year in federal revenues that supported all county services and roads. 

Lane County also has a chance to pass a modest, time-limited tax increase solely to support the jail. Now that I understand the political will of county residents, I see that this tax has the best chance to pass, and I support it. It means collaborating with people who I am used to debating. It is time to set aside grudges and work together.

Many of you know me, or know of me, and I hope you trust my intention to support the well-being of communities in Lane County. Many, including myself, are volunteering and donating as much as they can, but it is not right to have a small generous part of the population bear the brunt of human needs. Time to tax ourselves. 

I hope both city and county residents will take a long look at the current budgets and forecasts for future shortfalls before weighing in to oppose any revenue generating measures. 

Rose Wilde, Eugene

 

DOWNTOWN NOT SAFE

Recently I was walking downtown and saw a driver almost run over a man in a wheelchair in a crosswalk. In 2010 I was hit in a crosswalk downtown. If you stand near any downtown intersection for a while you’ll see drivers going through crosswalks with pedestrians in them. The drivers are either too dumb to know this is wrong or simply don’t care. Most of them are not shopping downtown, just using it as a shortcut, which could be discouraged by some traffic engineering, but the city doesn’t want to.

The police will not enforce the law. I talked to someone in city government who talked to the police chief and reported back to me that it’s a question of “resources.” Yes, I’m sure harassing the homeless is a much higher priority.

That being the case, I would advise everyone not to walk downtown. It’s not safe. There is not much there that anyone really needs anyway.

Lynn Porter, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Crosswalk laws vary depending on how many lanes and whether there’s an island; but as we read it, the law says cars must give pedestrians in crosswalks no less than two lanes of space. But don’t trust drivers to know that, or care.

 

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

I found it very interesting that our congressional leaders in Washington came together to watch the new movie Lincoln. I presume the purpose of that was learning how to compromise — or not — but mainly in learning how to get something done.

I have a new movie for them to watch together; it is called Les Miserables. This may give them the lesson that our government cannot continue to ignore the People in favor of corporate greed. This government was not created to support the corporate idea of profit over humanity. You cannot destroy our workers’ ability to provide for their families in favor of transporting their work to a slave labor country like China, or bringing in immigrant labor from Mexico or the new idea of providing jobs for laborers from Cuba. As in Les Miserables the bottom will be reached. Our citizens, our PEOPLE deserve the right to the JOBS in this country. 

Members in unions have slipped from over 36 percent to 11 percent. Corporate greed is destroying them; it is one of the reasons I believe our economy is hurting. Union jobs raised all workers’ pay, mainly by corporations raising all wages for fear of more workers joining unions. The only aid this country has ever received has come in the form of union made, not in forming an arrogant worthless aristocracy!

Gene Okins, Eugene

 

NEW SKILLS NEEDED

When I was much younger, I struggled with rage and thoughts about killing others and myself. I have learned a healthier lifestyle. The NRA is partially correct when they say, “Guns don’t kill, people do.” It would be more complete to say that people lacking skills in conflict resolution attack other people, oftentimes with guns. Repression of weaponry will not reduce the dependency on violence to resolve conflict. It will be quicker, more cost-effective and sustainable to provide universal conflict resolution skill support than to orchestrate responsible gun ownership with more laws, rules and enforcement.

Personal education in understanding with compassion the goals of violence and awareness of alternative strategies for reaching those goals without violence offers a radical shift in our treatment of violence from symptoms to root causes. 

I propose that students at all levels, people incarcerated and every public employee and candidate for office be required to demonstrate their competency in conflict resolution. The educational resources for that skill could be offered by nonprofits, churches and neighborhood associations. The funding for such a program would probably be a small fraction of all the repressive measures now being proposed. TV stations could be required to air PSAs and programming that supported conflict resolution skill-building. 

Can you imagine how such a program would reduce the use of any weapon — including verbal abuse — to resolve conflict? The benefit-to-cost of implementation would be huge.

 David Hazen, Eugene

 

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

When will people stand up to these out-of-control county and city officials who squander and manipulate our money while cynically misusing the legal system to defend their own government crimes? They are now letting thieves, thugs, druggies, perverts and killers back out on the streets in an attempt to scare up some more bond money.

These professional crooks are implementing blackmail by holding public safety hostage, just as police fraternal order leader Willy (“Fall on our Swords Over This”) Edewaard said they would. Intentional government malfeasance is a serious crime.

The government is becoming a criminal failure now actively assisting and encouraging criminal culture, letting offenses go unpunished and dangerous persons go free. This is felonious endangerment by our own government! These “officials” and “administrators” deserve some prison time!

Abolish these fraudulent out-of-control city manager and county administrator positions. Fire their wasteful retinues of obsequious flunkies. Oust any activist judge and prosecutor accomplices. Power must rest with elected citizens who are completely accountable to their oath to the community.

We cannot let carefully sequestered bureaucrats remain well insulated from consequences for their profitable crimes. They make careers of abusing and usurping our authority, eroding our society and environment. They must be halted in their tracks and brought to justice.

Mike McFadden, Eugene

 

USELESS SMOKING BAN

I just spent hours trying to discover the ramifications for smoking ban violators. Complete information was difficult to find and I failed to gather all the answers I was seeking. I am constantly seeing this ban be overlooked.

I can do a rolling stop without anyone but a cop around and I will get pulled over and ticketed. However, a smoker can smoke in front of a building, doing drugs in front of passersby that include easily influenced children. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t seen a smoker going into a grocery store.

What sickens me the most is when I witnessed two women in a long drive-through wait smoking a couple cigarettes each with two toddlers in the back. How is that not illegal yet? According to a health coalition, Oregon ranks 20th in the nation in funding programs to help smokers become non-smokers and aid in the prevention of smoking among kids.

What are the specific ramifications for violators of the smoking ban and how is the ban implemented? Witnessing violators on a regular basis and not yet hearing real stories about anyone getting ticketed does not surprise me. How much revenue is generated from tickets from smoking ban violators? Effort should not be put into creating a law for it to be ignored. 

Lora Athitan, Eugene

 

DIFFERENT STROKES

Just as has been done in previous debates over two-cycle vs. four-cycle boat engine pollution potential, perhaps aircraft engine types should factor into the discussions on seaplanes and Waldo Lake.

I’ve worked on and around World War II aircraft for 20 years. Most have radial power plants, which we fondly call “round engines.” If a radial isn’t leaking oil out of every port and gasket and if it doesn’t blow lots of oil out its exhaust, we worry that there’s something wrong with it.

After an hour in the air, a typical B-17 (WW II bomber) is covered in oil. In contrast, the Rolls Merlin V-12 in our P-51C fighter and most modern aircraft engines run much cleaner.

Radials are less common today but still in use, notably on some types of seaplanes. Other engine types are far less messy. So maybe there’s some room for compromise.

Jerry Ritter, Editor, Flightlines, Springfield

 

DOUGLASS IGNORED

A couple of nights ago I went to see the Lincoln movie, and like everyone else, I was blown away by Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of President Lincoln. But I was horrified by the tiny, insignificant part black people played in this version of their own history. For example, how was Frederick Douglass portrayed? Not at all. He didn’t exist. This great black leader, friend of and huge influence upon Abraham Lincoln, was simply left out of the story. 

Except for in the opening battle scene, the impression given in this movie is that black people passively watched as whites haggled over their future, doing nothing except now and then getting watery eyed, mostly serving the whites as ever. Or in bed with them. As one online reviewer pointed out, black actors/actresses had such small roles in this movie that it would be impossible for one of them to be nominated as best supporting actor or actress no matter how well they played their part. 

There were, by the way, no black people at all (that I saw) in the audience with me. This movie is as racist as if it had been made in the 1950s. 

Joan Dobbie, Eugene

 

NEW SKILLS NEEDED

When I was much younger, I struggled with rage and thoughts about killing others and myself. I have learned a healthier lifestyle. The NRA is partially correct when they say, “Guns don’t kill, people do.” It would be more complete to say that people lacking skills in conflict resolution attack other people, oftentimes with guns. Repression of weaponry will not reduce the dependency on violence to resolve conflict. It will be quicker, more cost-effective and sustainable to provide universal conflict resolution skill support than to orchestrate responsible gun ownership with more laws, rules and enforcement.

Personal education in understanding with compassion the goals of violence and awareness of alternative strategies for reaching those goals without violence offers a radical shift in our treatment of violence from symptoms to root causes. 

I propose that students at all levels, people incarcerated and every public employee and candidate for office be required to demonstrate their competency in conflict resolution. The educational resources for that skill could be offered by nonprofits, churches and neighborhood associations. The funding for such a program would probably be a small fraction of all the repressive measures now being proposed. TV stations could be required to air PSAs and programming that supported conflict resolution skill-building. 

Can you imagine how such a program would reduce the use of any weapon — including verbal abuse — to resolve conflict? The benefit-to-cost of implementation would be huge.

 David Hazen, Eugene

 

ENFORCED DISCIPLINE

I am writing in response to Paul Bodin’s letter Jan. 3 in regard to one-sided reporting about the isolation rooms in the schools. Bodin stated he understood that school officials shy away from disclosing information, in regard to the discipline that is done in schools.

I personally don’t understand why Bodin would write a letter and complain about the one-sided reporting when he personally knows that the availability to talk to the school staff is next to non-existent? Bodin also states the subject of his letter is the news reporter; he doesn’t state much in reference to the reporter but more about the article. This letter was really confusing to me and hard to follow. I, however, do agree with the partial bias implied in the article.

This article has enlightened the community about the schools’ enforced discipline procedures, which are considered cruelty. Why bring punishment into the schools that are used in prisons? The schools sending a note home to the parents stating that their child was in the safe room, comforts the parent, when in reality it is an isolation room. The article was written from the afflicted individual’s eyes, taking further note in what it is doing to the mental and emotional state of the child. This was the intention of the article and it was well done.

Lisa Brewer, Springfield

 

SO SOMETHING

As a community, we have a small window of opportunity to influence legislation around the issue of gun violence. If our leaders fail to act and let the issue slide into the background we dishonor the lives of 20 hopeful children and six educators as well as the lives of hundreds of other victims of mass shootings all over this country. If we fail to make our voices heard on this issue we are accountable for our inaction. It has been said that "the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing." Please speak up, call your representatives in Washington, join with others with a common purpose. 

Do something everyday. We need to halt the sale of military style weapons. We need to halt the sale of ammunition magazines above 10 rounds. We must put universal background checks and waiting periods in place to prevent those with mental illness from easy access to deadly weapons. Lack of a perfect solution is no excuse for inaction. We can do better.

Bobbie Cirel, Eugene

 

BETTER THAN YEAST

Richard Heinberg is well known among environmentalists as an author and speaker from the Post Carbon Institute in California. He's spoken in Eugene several times on at least two visits. To answer his popular question, no, we don't seem to be "smarter than yeast" in a sealed wine vat, their own finite world, where they multiply till they consume finite resources and pollute themselves to death. Maybe you could imagine a few intelligent yeast cells that recognize the problem, but still continue to multiply, because it's their nature. We simply multiply at a slower rate.

Not all of our resources are finite, such as sunlight, within a reasonable timeline. With the help of sunlight, our world can convert pollution back into resources. But the rate for this is still definitely finite, and the full results of our actions are often not immediately apparent.

Yes, shortages give us incentive to do better, as maybe with the yeast. But until we find ways to use sunlight much more efficiently, should we maybe be looking more at reversing our exponential rate of reproduction, therefore consumption and pollution? Or do we believe some higher power finds our pollution, and perhaps our resulting global death, useful in some way, perhaps as spiritual yeast?

Dan Robinson, Eugene

 

IN DEFENSE OF GUNS

The gun control debate has become so divisive, even among friends, as the mindless massacres continue. (Domestically and as all “civil wars” continue.)

Wisely written as the Second Amendment to our Constitution, citizens of the U.S. have the right to bear arms. What kind of arms is not specified? (No nukes, I presume!) I say “wisely” because it is our right to defend ourselves from insane murderers, any insane dictator's militia, unjust police invasions and all potential malicious invasions of our homes and communities.

The right to self-defense is what that amendment guarantees. I agree. The rest is working out the details of questions like, what is an assault weapon? Can the same weapon be used in defense (say a major assault on your home or community?) and become a defense weapon? I say yes. Many blame the gun. It is an instrument of death. Assault or defense is another question about when lethal force is justified.

 Michael Mooney, Pleasant Hill

 

WITH ALL THE TRAPPINGS

It must be the budget cutbacks for teenage counselors that forced the FBI to encourage Mohamud’s courage. They did the only thing they know how to do. Too bad they didn't use this technique when following the al-Qaeda pilots on 9/11. 

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

NOTHING IS EVERYTHING

The way we live these days, you get so caught up in everything surrounding that you might wonder who you are, why you are and/or why you are you. Our brains are continuously creating thoughts, yes, not thoughts you came up with, but ones your brain did. If you doubt this, stop your thinking and realize your brain is still putting out thoughts, all kinds of thoughts, overlapping thoughts overrunning your head. 

Try to stop your brain from thinking; quiet the chatter within. Reducing it is good but not good enough. Break it down, break it down past the murmurs, break it down to nothing. Internal silence, peace. It is wondrous to reach, to hold on to, a high worth attaining. Your brain always wants control, to cause thoughts. To refrain and bring it back to nothing is where there is power. Nothing matters; it's how we separate and reconnect. Reach nothing to have everything, meditate.

John Byrne, Greenleaf