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Letters to the Editor: 3-7-2013

LESS HOT AIR

Casting a myopic eye on the state Legislature, former Sen. Tony Corcoran [“Hot Air Society” column, 2/21] avers that we ought to be optimistic about Gov. Kitzhaber and the Democratic majority he enjoys. He touts Kitzhaber’s Oregon Health Plan and Salmon Plan as having “already established his legacy.”

Indeed. To address the urgent needs of threatened and endangered salmon for effective legislation, in his first term Kitzhaber prescribed a sugar-coated, voluntary recovery plan. In 2011 he commissioned a “Streamlining and Simplification Project” to undermine the land use protections and public participation instigated by Republican governor, Tom McCall, that, weak as they are, helped Oregon’s economy weather the recession better than other states without them.

Further, in 2012 Kitzhaber created an expert panel, primarily of logging interests and their enablers, to facilitate the DeFazio-Walden-Schrader plan to give BLM/O&C public forestlands to the logging industry.

Corcoran would do himself and his readers a service by removing his rose-colored glasses, taking a clear-eyed look at some of the legislators he favors, waking up to an overheated earth, and blowing less hot air himself.

Robert Emmons, Fall Creek

 

RETHINK OUR CITY

Like Richie Weinman (“Specifics Needed” letter, 2/14), I believe specific recommendations for addressing our city’s financial woes are essential if we are to have a reasoned and productive community-wide conversation. I also think that this most recent recession is evidence enough of a need to rethink many of the basic assumptions we hold about how we fund our government and the services it provides. 

Here are just a few suggestions for how the city of Eugene might begin to address the current and future revenue shortfalls:

• End tax giveaways to developers. Capstone is just the latest example of the city’s ongoing ill-advised transfer of public funds into private hands. The lost revenue from the most recent round of tax waivers alone would have provided more than $1 million toward the city’s 2013 fiscal gap. 

• Sunset the Riverfront Urban Renewal District. Not one project has been built in all these years and we lose almost a million dollars in tax revenue every year that would go to 4J, LCC, the county and the city’s general fund. 

• Rein in spending on consultants, facilitators and public relations staff. The city spent $2.5 million on a team of consultants for the most recent City Hall plan. In this latest budget cycle the city is spending another $750,000 for additional consulting work. Now the city is deploying its PR staff to convince us of the need for more revenue.

• The Police Commission no longer serves its original purpose now that the city has a police auditor. Discontinue that commission, the Citizen’s Police Academy, the Seniors Volunteer program and other non-essential advisory committees. 

• Make every Tier 1 PERS employee earning at the top of their pay scale an early retirement offer they can’t refuse. And also end the practice of rehiring top administrators who’ve retired with full PERS benefits as “contractors.”

• Reorganize the city’s staffing plan to minimize managerial positions and adjust the salary schedule to ensure that no employee makes more than the $93,600 paid to our governor. 

David Monk, Eugene

 

HELP SAVE OUR BEES

We would like to thank Doug Hornaday for his letter, “Killing My Bees” [2/21] and Beyond Toxics for their help in eliminating pesticide spraying that is indeed killing off our bee population.

We own five acres in the foothills outside of Junction City where we’ve lived for the past 11 years. Our property is chemical free as we’ve tried to create a bee friendly area. Clover is planted between our raised beds as well as a wide variety of plants and herbs that bloom throughout the growing season to entice them to stay on the property.

We realize that even though we do what we can, we can’t control where they travel and know that spraying exists on forestlands as well as nearby vineyards. 

In the last two years, we’ve lost three of our hives and we hope awareness will be raised to the extent that our bee population as well as the waterways will be protected.

David and Elaine Kost, Junction City

 

TOO DANGEROUS?

The Feb. 21 EW reviewed five “Top Documentaries.” Curiously, however, these were not the five Oscar nominees. Excluded from EW’s list were the three films arguably of greatest importance to the “progressive” readership EW lays claim to. 

The Invisible War dealing with the high frequency and systemic impunity of military sexual assault was ignored by the EW review. This film is of considerable interest to all critics of U.S. militarism and its attitudinal underpinnings as well as gender equity proponents.

The other two documentary films ignored by EW are highly unflattering to Israel. 5 Broken Cameras reveals the brutality and racism of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, focused on resistance by the village of Bil’in to construction of the Segregation Wall across its land.

The second documentary, The Gatekeepers, consists of interview clips from six former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security agency. Now free to speak with the realism necessary in professional spies, they describe the disinterest of Israel’s political leadership in peace despite its pretensions otherwise, and its choice instead to steal and control Palestinian land while engaging Palestinians from a position of impotence in fruitless “peace process” negotiations.

This has long been well-known by Middle East scholars and professional Middle East correspondents, was conclusively exposed by the 1,684-file Palestine Papers released in 2011 by Al-Jazeera and The Guardian and has been described for several years by our local Al-Nakba Awareness Project and others around the country who advocate for Palestinian human rights under international law.

But inquiring minds are asking if the putatively progressive EW, despite overwhelming evidence, treats this as a third rail too dangerous to touch. Is EW a PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine) publication?

 Jack Dresser, Ph.D., Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Springfield

 

OUR LIVING CONSTITUTION 

In his letter Feb. 21, Mark Robinowitz states we must redirect forces in our society to solve our global crises. In this vein, the burgeoning community rights movement, led by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), works to dismantle legal barricades to sustainability. The movement’s goal is to seize local decision-making authority by recognizing the rights of communities and nature over those of corporations, thereby allowing communities to reject corporate harms, like fracking, coal trains and GMOs.

Modern corporations are the antithesis of sustainability. Corporate rights enable environmental devastation for profit with little accountability. In 1819, the Supreme Court began to extend constitutional protections to corporations by interpreting a document written by white male property owners, who imported English Common Law, a body of law that authorized international empire-building and resource exploitation. Is it then surprising that corporations have turned the seemingly limitless bounty of early America into a nation with a faltering environment and a role in an escalating global energy and climate crisis?

The community rights movement empowers local citizens to re-balance the rights equation and to make sustainable practices the law. Local ordinances banning specific corporate harms, and in some cases, elevating the rights of communities and nature over those of corporations, now exist in 150 municipalities in eight states. From the local level, this effort will drive these rights into state constitutions, and ultimately, the federal Constitution. 

The Constitution is a living document. The abolitionists and suffragists understood that the Constitution, as originally written, needed to evolve. Now the environment needs constitutional rights to halt corporate exploitation and enable a sustainable future.

Take the time to learn more at www.celdf.org

 Ann Kneeland, Eugene

 

THE SCENT OF WINE

In regard to Paul Pattison’s letter Jan. 17 on wine service at the Hult, Pattison states that he is a “strong supporter of the recovery community” in this area. Having been sober in AA for over 14 years I have to applaud that. There are a lot of misconceptions about alcoholism and addiction floating about; however, I’m not sure what “supporter” means. Is Pattison in recovery himself? Does he help out at Buckley House? Or does he simply approve of alcoholics and addicts who are trying to live clean and sober one day at a time? 

That distinction is important because of a couple of other things in Pattison’s letter. He was troubled by someone in the seat next to him drinking a glass of wine. He wrote that the smell was “overpowering” and that the proximity of the wine, “one foot from where I was sitting,” was “unacceptable.”

Pattison goes on to say that being forced to sit next to someone drinking wine doesn’t work for everyone, and that the Hult Center didn’t seem very concerned about the situation when he asked about it.

I appreciate the concern, but if I am in a place where I feel overpowered by the smell of wine, or find it unacceptable to sit next to someone having some, my job is to leave or change seats. It is not my place to tell others that they need to change their actions or policies. As an alcoholic, I have to live life on life’s terms.

AA literature states that alcoholics in recovery can go anywhere they like without problem, so long as they have a solid program and a legitimate reason for being there. This includes, bars, parties and concert halls. 

David Hixson, Springfield

 

NRA TARGETS YOUTH

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” — Vladimis Lenin.

Mark your calendars. June 15 is National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day. Like Gun Appreciation Day, it’s the NRA’a latest marketing ply to insure that the billion dollar gun manufacturing industry will continue to thrive.

Shooting Industry Magazine advises that every gun store should have at least one pink gun on display. The market for traditional hunting guns has sharply declined so the NRA is hoping that the “Barack Boom” in military style weapons will take up the slack. Nancy Lanza, Adam Lanza’s mother, was a perfect example of how the NRA feeds on fear, as she purchased thousands of dollars of weapons and trained her son at the local gun ranges. The “faceless evil” she feared turned out to be her own well-armed and trained son. 

We must heed the words of Graham Nash and teach our children well. “Teach your children what you believe in. Make a world that we can live in.” Hopefully those of tender years can’t know the fears that their elders grew by.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

ON LEGALIZING DRUGS

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is a group of ex cops, DAs and judges who have realized that the war on drugs, regardless of their own personal position on drug use, is one of the greatest evils which America has spread throughout the world.

I am speaking for many when I say all drugs should be legal, from alcohol and tobacco to methamphetamine and heroin. Convincing the general public why someone should be able to take these substances which have obvious dangers to the body is a bit challenging; in the case of opiates this danger is mainly overdose and addiction.

Psychedelics are easier to introduce into society’s current paradigm. In general they have no ill effect on the body, and when taken in a safe setting, horrors such as people thinking they can fly, can be avoided. Their main reward is gifting the subject with a brand new perception of the world. The word psychedelic was coined by Humphrey Osmond and means mind manifesting or revealing. They don’t provide anything artificial that wasn’t there before (in the psyche) except for contents repressed since infancy or arguably since past lives.

Constitutionally all medicines, especially the entheogens, penetrate the key holes of personal freedom. Our principal obligation is this right; but how can we have religious experiences in today’s environment where all non-ordinary states are seen as pathological? Religions can and have the techniques to provide genuine religious experiences, but they don’t, hence the need for these substances. 

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene