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Letters to the Editor: 3-28-2013

BEST-KEPT SECRET

Fourteen years ago, my wife and I struggled to find the best 4J high school for our oldest daughter. We lived just inside the east boundary of the Churchill district, but South Eugene was only a 15-minute walk away. We attended the International High School (IHS) information meeting, but concluded that our very intelligent daughter would not be happy in that program. She wanted to be on a high school newspaper staff, but South’s newspaper was the product of a journalism class that required junior status. We were at a loss until we met Pat Latimer, then principal at North Eugene.

Latimer told us North had the best-kept secret in Eugene — North was producing more AP credits per student than any other high school in 4J. At the time, North was the only 4J high school that did not offer IHS, and the local hype claimed that all of the smart kids enrolled in IHS.

We were sold by Latimer’s enthusiasm and enrolled our daughter. It was the best decision we ever made. Blessings followed until Latimer left and the new principal discarded North’s secret when he opened the doors to IHS, then accepted the Gates Foundation offer to fund a Small Schools program. Fortunately, our youngest daughter graduated before the magic faded. 

North’s secret was a four-period schedule. The five-period schedule now being contested in 4J is not the same as the schedule that brought magic and accomplishment to North during Latimer’s time. The difference between the two is like black and white. 

4J would be wise to model its high schools after the UO. A UO student has full-time status at 12 credit hours a term. Usually, one class earns four credits. Students taking 16 credits are working very hard. Taking 20 credits destroys their ability to learn anything.

Latimer no doubt pondered these things; the result was a beautiful simplicity. North had a four-period schedule in a quarter system. Students had the same three or four classes every day for nine weeks. Class time was available to do homework while the teacher was in the room. Classmates could easily help each other with homework and group projects could be worked on conveniently during class.

The magic was a normal full-year course was completed in half a year. Two years of math in one year was doable. At most, students had homework from just three or four classes. At most, a teacher taught just three different groups of students each term and had one class period per day for other purposes. Who loses in that arrangement? Nobody!

Both of our daughters thrived at North, and both of them earned full-ride academic merit scholarships to the UO as a result. My advice: Do what Pat Latimer did.

Steven A. Sylwester, Eugene

 

A HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE

Forestry pesticides have long been a human health issue for rural Oregonians. What brought attention to this issue first was Citizens Against Toxic Sprays v. Clarke in 1983 in southern Oregon. This lawsuit was won by CATS and banned the use of pesticides on federal forests. Currently there is the ongoing Hwy. 36 exposure investigation. It is widely known that the use of pesticides on clearcuts is the cheapest way to kill invasive species (maple trees, blackberries, etc.), and the quickest way to poison neighbors. One helicopter can spray hundreds of acres of clearcut in a matter of hours, exposing many unsuspecting neighbors to cancerous concoctions of pesticides.

By adopting federal management regulations on private timber lands, the giant timber corporations would be forced to hire crews to manually remove the invasive species. More jobs means more taxable revenue and a stimulated local economy. These same logging companies (owning more than 5,000 acres) are exempt from paying most of the timber and harvest taxes that a small mom and pop family would pay if they were to cut their trees.

But the greatest thing that will come out of ending forestry pesticides is ending the 40-year human health emergency in western Oregon.

Peter DeFazio, in 1985, called upon Congress to enact a moratorium on the use of pesticides in all of western Oregon, fearing a human health emergency. Now Congressman DeFazio wants to treat the O&C lands in Oregon like private lands, opening them up to clearcuts followed by repeated pesticide applications.

We will create many more jobs and taxes for local communities by ending forestry pesticides and forcing timber barons to pay the same timber harvest tax as small family woodlots.

Justin Workman, Board member of STOP, Standing Together to Outlaw Pesticides

 

THE CLOCK IS TICKING

The March 14 Weekly had an interesting and important article about the Farmers Market. I, along with many other downtowners, really want the farmers to stay downtown on a permanent basis. They bring a lot to our neighborhood and to the entire city. They are very positive contributors to the community.

There is, unfortunately, an important thing to note. The article states: “the how-to-expand debate has continued for more than a decade, with no timeline for a solution in sight.” The first part is true. The second part really isn’t.

I’m a member of the Expenditure Review Panel; we track the expenditures for the Downtown Urban Renewal District grants such as the $500,000 grant for infrastructure improvements to the Park Blocks mentioned in the article. I need to point out that there is a deadline for the Farmers Market to use the urban renewal funds.

The $500,000 will not be available to the farmers after the Downtown District expires, which is estimated for June 30, 2018. This may sound far off, but it really isn’t. Losing the grant wouldn’t be the end of Farmers Market, I’m sure. It would, however, really limit their options. 

I hope they find a solution soon.

David Mandelblatt, Eugene

 

HOLLER-WORTHY

Once again the aging citizenry is blamed for whatever is wrong. In “Opera: Not Dead” (EW, March 14) I read, “pandering to an aging core audience with endless recyclings of the same top 10 operatic/symphonic warhorses.” I do not remember myself or anyone I know over 65 being asked. I’ve been waiting for a production of the Swedish space opera Aniara, and, not long ago, relished the Fonz-like Don Giovanni packing a pistol instead of a longsword or épée

Sitting on my hemorrhoid donut and suckling my Metamucil, I found Dead Man Walking uplifting. I wanted to holler out Olé! ... or is it Bravo!? Oh my, the aging memory.

 Jim Wood, Eugene

 

STUDENTS IN NEED

I am deeply troubled by 4J’s decision to cut the 3.5 FTE mental health specialist positions at the end of this year. In my opinion it is absolutely essential to maintain this core program for the benefit of the 4J students, their families and the broader Eugene community. 

 The district’s mental health specialists provide the students with extremely important guidance and perspective. They help students struggling to cope with various forms of anxiety, eating disorders and emotional issues. They are well known to the students and have earned their trust over time through their regular encounters in the schools. When the inevitable tragedy occurs, such as drownings at the coast, teen suicides or devastating automobile accidents, these mental health specialists provide essential support to the students and help facilitate the healing and grieving processes. If these highly experienced, caring individuals are no longer around to do their important work, then students in need can easily fall through the cracks. 

If left unchecked, unresolved mental health issues can lead to behavioral problems in the classrooms, disengaged and troubled youth or much worse. We are all aware of how bad it can get. When will the hemorrhaging in the district stop? What will it take to realize the enormity of the risk that 4J is taking in cutting these essential positions?

Jared G. Rubin, Eugene

 

JUST MORE HOSTILITY

With the recent video emerging of police breaking up a “noise complaint,” along with spring break upon us, I wanted to communicate my continued frustration with the city’s representation of the student body. I want to specifically discuss my issues with the “social host” ordinance, as I have found it to only create more hostility and distrust between students and not only the police force, but the city’s elected officials, too. 

I’m writing with the hope that solutions other than instituting fines that target students may be explored. I believe that police officers should be focused on solving problems, not acting as party patrol or even enforcing the laws necessarily. If the police are called to respond to a noise complaint, where’s the need in handing out multiple thousand-dollar citations? Besides, the law is so vague that I call into questions bars and block parties. What would happen if I were a neighbor and were to call in a bar on a night that a band is playing? Or during the Whiteaker Block Party? Would they receive social host citations?

I’m simply asking that we look for alternative solutions not only to combating the partying, but also simultaneously trying to improve the relations between students and officers. Solutions like that of the University of Colorado, where students register parties ahead of time with the local officers, or alternatives to partying should be made available to students and taken into consideration and deliberated. 

Let’s do this smarter. Let’s get this right. 

Aidan R. Smith, Eugene

 

BUTTERFLY TOO STEEP

Much thanks to Shannon Finnell for a comprehensive, clear article [3/14] about the space issues of the Lane County Farmers Market (LCFM). Shannon’s article made it apparent how a simple goal of farmers selling local food can become quite complex. LCFM appreciates the community’s understanding and discussion around this increasingly-important topic. 

A simple space solution that often gets passed around is using the existing “butterfly” parking lot for the Farmers Market. We wish it were so easy. The slope of the surface exceeds ADA limitations. 

For consumers currently looking for a spacious and quiet stroll past fresh veggies, fish, nuts, plant starts and preserves, LCFM operates every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm at its 8th and Oak location from the first Saturday in February until the main-season market opens the first Saturday in April. 

April 6 is the opening day of the main-season Saturday market this year. Though farmers hope for more spacious vending conditions in the near future, this season will start as usual with operating hours of 9 am to 3 pm. 

Sarah Hucka, president, LCFM Board of Directors

 

WIC SAVES MONEY

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federal money saving service to guide the health of low income pregnant women through childbirth and the first five years of the child’s life. It is preventive health care. The government’s plan to cut this program will have more mothers and babies needing hospitalization and expensive medical care. 

Our country is already at the bottom of the list for healthy babies and now we have discovered that we have more women under the age of 49 dying — two times as many dying under 49 years as any other industrial country. Contact your member of Congress to keep our WIC health service. It is past time for universal health care! 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

THE NEW CITY HALL.

No one has asked me, nor, I think the rest of Eugene residents, how we envision our new City Hall. Here are my thoughts : 

1.Keep as much as possible of the existing. 2. Have all/most of city departments close by. 3. Create a landmark. And this is how I see it:

The ideal site to build additional space for more city departments is south of the old City Hall, on top of the present parking lot on that already city owned property.

A bridge across 8th Avenue would connect the remodeled old to the new — not just as a means to get across, but a sweeping, sculpted concrete archway that houses varies kinds of activity. A moving side walk in the middle, walking space and small consignments on both sides – coffee shop, lunch place, news papers, sitting areas to relax. Large windows to view city traffic below and east towards the river. 

Costly, yes! But a great piece of art providing a city center emblem of our much vaunted reputation as a city of the arts.

Perhaps Mr. Nike, that Eugene benefactor, can help. We might even call it the Phil Nike Bridge.

Lora Byxbe, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Laura Byxby has an advanced degree (diplom-ingenieur) in architecture from Munich university, Germany

 

SHAME ON LEGISLATURE

The front page of New York’s Daily News on March 20 read: “Shame on U.S.: Assault weapons bill is dead,” referring to Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill banning these weapons of war. Pictures of the 20 beautiful children who were slaughtered at Newtown with a Bushmaster assault rifle filled the front page surrounding the headline.

Yes, shame on the U.S., shame on the Republican Party, and shame on the conservative Democrats who favor keeping these weapons of war on our streets. And shame on the Oregon’s Democrat-controlled Legislature for choosing to continue the sale of these weapons of mass destruction here in Oregon. They also lack the courage to ban high capacity magazines. Never mind that a strong majority of Americans favor banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

 Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn begged Congress to ban sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. "I've wondered frequently in the past decade how many people have to get murdered in a mass murder for it to be enough. Is 20 babies enough?"

Oregon Democrats have provided several excuses for their failure to act. They say it’s not a priority, people will just buy them elsewhere, they don’t have the votes, and that Congress, not Oregon, should pass the bans. These excuses are frankly pathetic. 

Regardless of whether they have the votes or not, the people deserve a vote. We deserve to know what legislators stand with the gun-makers and the gun-nuts and who stands with the majority of sensible Americans.

Joshua Welch, Eugene

 

ECONOMIC NECESSITY

The promise of a good education for everyone is part of what makes America great. As a music educator in the Winston-Dillard School District, I'm deeply committed to the success of all our students. 

I'm proud to join other educators across the nation in working support President Barack Obama. He understands that a good education is not a luxury-it's an economic imperative for living and competing worldwide. I hope that we can all support him and the budget proposed by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray.

Dirk W. Snyder, Sutherlin

 

A COVER FOR POWER

Craig Weinerman’s imaginary Israel [Letters, 3/21] is once again on display, imperiled as always by the “unequivocal” intent of “radical Islamacists” despite long-standing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, protection by its American big brother, and an overwhelming military advantage over all adversaries real or imagined.

And to what Israel does he refer? Israel the invader? Yes, Hezbollah was established to repel Israel from Southern Lebanon. Israel the colonial occupier? Yes, Hamas resists Israeli dispossession and occupation. Israel behind its pre-1967 borders and leaving its neighbors alone? No, Hamas and the entire Arab League have long agreed to accept an Israel compliant with international law and withdrawn from occupied land.

Imaginary Israel is a “democracy” despite over 50 laws that discriminate against non-Jews (http://tinyurl.com/a9hrh4j) with half the population it controls crushed under military occupation and trapped under blockade.

Imaginary Israel is the embattled little state entitled to protect itself from “murderous attacks” by its “enemies” which are in fact defensive and retaliatory against Israel’s invasions, land grabs, dispossession, home demolitions and vastly greater state violence of 65 years. 

Imaginary Israel is the earnest peace-seeker generously offering a “two-state solution” that would leave Palestinians some 10 percent of their original land for a population larger than Israel’s in an encapsulated, demilitarized mini-state with no right of repatriation to their homeland, thereby preserving Israel’s racist agenda of Jewish domination and privilege.

Weinerman and the JCRC do not represent the many Jewish human rights activists who support not a “Jewish state” but a secular, constitutional democracy providing all its citizens with freedom, justice and equality. These include Jews for Palestinian Right of Return (http://tinyurl.com/cyhyjdk) and Baylor University Judaic Studies Director Marc Ellis who states, "The progressive Jewish two-state option is too limited, has become dishonest, and is discredited — it is simply a cover for power."

Mariah Leung, co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Eugene