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Letters to the Editor: 5-10-2012


I met Pete Sorenson in the late 1980s. He was a practicing environmental attorney in a third-floor walk-up office bustling with law students. People were becoming disgusted with the grass seed agricultural practice of burning harvested fields. Pete wrote a “field-burning ban” ballot initiative for us which did not gather enough signatures, but the movement proceeded to get a phase-down bill passed in the Legislature. Pete then worked with me and another plaintiff to begin the process of suing the first Bush administration EPA for not promulgating the Clean Air Act regulation for particulate matter. The EPA wrote the regulation.

Then in the early 1990s Pete gave me emergency free legal advice over the phone. Seneca Timber company workers showed up with heavy equipment claiming they had access through our property to their recently purchased adjacent property. They threatened me with “idle equipment” and “labor time lost” costs, which could be thousands of dollars. Pete’s excellent advice absolved me of liability from their threats.

I do not know Andy Stahl as well. I did vote for him when he ran for Crow/Applegate/Lorane school board. Since this is the only elective office he has held, and he lost his bid for re-election, one wonders if this is a rousing endorsement. My question for Andy: If you aspired to the commission as an environmentalist and progressive Democrat, why didn’t you run against Faye Stewart when you lived in our district? Why run against a fellow progressive environmentalist who has a long and outstanding record?

 Jan Nelson, Crow


Recently, the R-G [and EW] published reports of Pat Farr, candidate against Rob Handy for county commissioner, getting cited in 2006 for being four times over the legal limit to drive. It is legitimate to ask why this issue is important to the race, and not just an example of dirty politics by the Handy campaign. Though I don’t speak for the campaign, I’d like to weigh in.

• Farr made this a public matter by endangering the lives of everyone on the public streets that night. DUIs are the public’s business because of the nature of the crime.

• Farr has made honesty, transparency, and “bringing trust back to government” the foundation of his campaign. Yet he hasn’t been honest about his own past. He opened the door to this.

• At the time of the crime, Farr was executive director of FOOD for Lane County. That nonprofit had just survived a huge controversy a few years before when the board fired their founding director. Another scandal at the top of FFLC could literally have brought that organization to its knees. Farr’s crime put in jeopardy the tens of thousands of people FFLC serves every year.

Judge for yourself his fitness for office.

Kevin O’Brien, Eugene


The Weekly has told us all along, and by now, the extreme, pro-resource extraction agenda of the Board of Commissioners majority is blatantly obvious, even in mainstream reporting. A front page R-G story (5/3) describes county commissioners’ differences on whether the county should appeal a decision that leaves neighbors at the mercy of Greg Demers’ mining operation on Parvin Butte in the community of Dexter.

I watched most of that public comment and discussion on Cable Channel 21. Property owners living near the butte provided heart-rending testimony on how the harsh noise and dust of mining negatively impacts their lives and community. With no county appeal, the mining will likely continue for at least several years, and historic Parvin Butte will be obliterated. 

It’s impossible to imagine how anyone can support those three majority commissioners after seeing their level of callousness. It doesn’t move them — no matter how severely people are affected or how clearly the problems are presented — the vote still went wrong.

And then, Commissioners Stewart and Bozievich had the nerve to be offended when Dan Stotter, the attorney representing aggrieved Dexter and Lost Creek residents, pointed out that these county decision makers don’t care.

Appropriately, on the same day, the R-G Life Section front-page story presents photographer John Bauguess of Dexter whose extraordinary photos of destruction in this area will be exhibited May 14-18 at Maude Kerns Art Center.

I wonder if the board majority will be there for the reception.

Elaine B. Weiss, Eugene


Having read your almost infallible endorsements over the years, I was stunned at your pick (5/3) of Dwight Holton over Ellen Rosenblum for the crucial position of attorney general. Rosenblum is a progressive with years of experience in Oregon state courts whose top priorities include fighting white collar crime and sexual abuse; Holton, whose priorities include fighting Oregon’s marijuana laws, has practiced only within the federal system.

Please check the actual records of both candidates, and don’t let yourself be swayed by all those “law and order” TV ads paid for by Holton’s Eastern financier friends.

Douglas Card, Veneta


The forest policies of New Zealand have much to teach us, but the assertion that the Andy Stahl influenced DeFazio-Walden-Shrader O&C logging Plan has as its prototype the “New Zealand Plan” is misleading.

The origin of the “New Zealand Plan” was the Maruia Declaration of 1977, a pre-computer petition with 341,159 signatures emanating from the NZ environmental community that called for an end to logging on all government lands, with virgin forest logging to be banned within a year.

For decades now, there has been essentially no logging of native species on NZ government lands. The equivalent in Oregon would be to ban all Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock and ponderosa pine logging from State and federal forests. That is hardly what Andy Stahl and Congressman DeFazio are proposing for Oregon O&C and National Forest lands.

New Zealand has provided a role model by banning the logging of all native old growth. The proposals by Stahl and DeFazio would be destroy many thousands of acres of Oregon’s ancient forests, our most precious natural heritage.

Steve Raymen, Walterville


I’m supporting Andy Stahl because we need to restore integrity to the South Eugene county commissioner’s seat.

Pete Sorenson and his supporters would like to pretend that it matters who filed the public meetings lawsuit against Sorenson. It doesn’t. What matters is that Sorenson tried to hide his secret budget group meetings by calling them the “book club” on his calendar. Then, when he got caught, Sorenson refused to take responsibility for his mistakes. And we, as taxpayers, got stuck with the $250,000 legal bill. Thanks Pete.

Andy Stahl has spent years fighting for what he believes in, including protection for our old growth forests and for foster children. Andy’s honest about where he stands. No hiding behind “book club” smoke screens.

Now the county finds itself in a huge financial mess. Congressman DeFazio has a plan that would help. It protects all the old growth timber on O & C lands but allows some logging of second growth, which creates jobs and county revenues.

Andy Stahl worked with DeFazio to develop the plan. Stahl is creative. Sorenson’s response: He doesn’t like the plan. So, you can vote for Sorenson and ride over the financial cliff.

Personally, I’ll put my faith in DeFazio. And I’ll give my vote to Andy Stahl.

Doug Barber, Eugene


Smart meters can operationalize our community goals of conservation and wind power, only if we make night-time power significantly cheaper than day-time rates. That’s complicated. Before we commit to new meters, let’s settle this question so we know the real dollar and energy savings at stake.

There’s concern about health risks. EWEB’s report says there are more than 25,000 scientific studies investigating the potential health impacts of radio waves. Scientists even devised elegant ways to test cumulative effects over time. They evaluated retired radio operators, whose careers exposed them to 30 years of radio waves at much higher doses than what smart meters emit. No pattern was found. These results — based on evidence and scrutinized by peer review — are hard to argue with. Despite its imperfections, science is our best guide. It acknowledges the unknown and responds with fresh questions on behalf of the public interest.

While we’re debating time-of-day pricing, millions of smart meters will be deployed in other communities. Scientists will report on these full-scale experiments. Firms will compete for contracts by designing better smart meters. Future meters will cost and emit less, be more secure, and offer better features. Meanwhile, overnight energy storage, which meets the same goals, is becoming cost effective. Savvy consumers of information and technology will see the benefits to waiting.

Finally, EWEB won’t install smart meters where they’re not wanted. While this doesn’t address all health concerns, the compromise shows EWEB’s responsiveness to feedback. Three cheers for public ownership of our utility!

 Steve Mital, Candidate for EWEB Board


Election season is characterized by an overabundance of persuasiveness on the part of untrustworthy sources.

Citing the 2008 “Operation Chaos” push by Rush Limbaugh, the local daily recently urged readers not to fall for the similar cynical manipulation of primary elections by current candidate Matthew Robinson (editorial, 4/28). Those on the Republican right seem to feel that it’s perfectly appropriate to temporarily attest themselves as Democrats; to gerrymander voting districts; to monkey with voting machines and voter registration rolls; whatever it takes, including thinly veiled exhortations to assassination, so that their team can score.

But these people who rationalize dirty-tricksterism in the name of winning don’t stop at the elections line. They follow through with questionable — legal, but not honorable — tactics aimed at bringing down sitting officials. They have a proud history of magnifying trivial matters (sex in the White House); bringing contrived lawsuits (Ellie Dumdi, Aaron Jones of Seneca Timber); running anonymous attack ads (Gang of 9); utilizing whatever weapons of mass distraction will suffice to grab the fickle attention of the public. 

Those who doubt my assertions need to read It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Mann and Ornstein. I’m supporting DeFazio, Sorenson, Handy, Piercy and Obama.

Republican sharks exploit the self-questioning attitude of play-fair Demos, who tend to eat their own. The R-G showed its inconsistency in editorializing against Matthew Robinson’s sleazy tactics, while also pitching support for Sorenson’s and Handy’s opponents. Apparently politicians don’t have the monopoly on flipping and flopping.

Vip B. Short, Eugene


Does a record of quality service mean anything anymore when we judge candidates for election? Apparently not to our local daily newspaper, which has denied endorsement for two of the finest incumbent candidates we ever have known: County Commissioner Peter Sorenson and City Councilor Betty Taylor.

Everyone is entitled to a political opinion. None has greater impact than a publication with many regular readers. We deserve to be alerted by our papers if an incumbent deserves to be ousted. But there is nothing faulty about performances of Sorenson and Taylor, who have served with integrity and distinction. We should honor them, and be grateful for their continued high level of performance for the public good.

I cannot judge their opponents, but know that what they would do in office is just conjecture. What Taylor’s and Sorenson’s independence and commitment to the electorate have proven to us is a matter of record that should earn them re-election while we ignore the fat cats.

 George Beres, Eugene


On May 15, voters in Eugene Wards 1 and 8 will elect a new EWEB commissioner. We should elect Steve Mital.

As a customer-owned utility, EWEB’s purpose is to represent community priorities related to the management and delivery of water and electricity to our community. Mital, director of sustainability for UO, offers over a decade of experience in working on environmental issues and with local government, utilities, and a broad range of local businesses and community groups.

Steve’s knowledge of natural resource and energy issues positions him well to address issues for EWEB. Furthermore, Steve’s demonstrated experience in issues related to sustainability, renewable energy and community engagement offers critically important perspectives to EWEB. This unique combination of knowledge and experience is why Steve has the endorsement of Mayor Kitty Piercy and the R-G, among others. I look forward to voting for Steve and to the valuable contributions he will bring to EWEB.

Kathy Lynn, Eugene


We must re-elect Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson as Lane County commissioners. If we lose these dedicated and brave men, I fear for the health of our water, air, farm and forest lands. Both Handy and Sorenson speak for the majority of citizens who understand in order to have long-term employment we need to sustainably manage our forests and farmlands. When candidates take money from mining and logging interests, they typically vote for destructive operations, without considering long-term effects. 

I live in Dexter where we are witnessing this plunder first hand. Our beloved historic Parvin Butte has been scalped and blasted. Lost Creek, which runs along the base of Parvin Butte, could be permanently damaged enough to kill the salmon that live there. We must think out of the box for our financial challenges. Independent studies have shown investing in green technology creates thousands of more jobs than the “business as usual” methods. It is imperative that we change how we treat our precious resources in order to have a healthy future — and time is running out. Destroying the last of our wildlands is an insane way to generate revenue. 

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter 


I’m voting for Andy Stahl for county commissioner because he is an effective, progressive leader. Andy supports open, transparent government.

In 2009, Pete Sorenson was chair of the Board of Commissioners with a 3-2 progressive majority. That year, the “book club” was formed to hide the identity of budget committee members who met in secret to line up votes for commissioners’ aides. The board was dealing with huge budget cuts at the time, including eliminating jail beds and deputies. Despite being the senior commissioner, Pete lost sight of the big picture.

As chair, Pete should have never allowed the “book club” to meet privately. He should have followed the advice of county counsel and required that workgroup to meet in public. Consider, if the current majority of board members created a workgroup that met in secret, the progressive members would cry foul.

The “book club” resulted in the board losing public trust and credibility. Many believe that is why Jerry Rust lost the West Lane commissioner’s race and why we now have a 3-2 conservative majority on the Board of Commissioners. 

Andy was raised in south Eugene and has always promoted the values we cherish. He has been a stalwart advocate for the environment for over 30 years, helping to save more than 8 million acres of old growth. Andy served on a school board and volunteers as an advocate for foster children.

Vote for Stahl. He is endorsed by nine Lane County Democratic state legislators. 

 Sen. Floyd Prozanski, District 4


After reading Elaine Weiss’ letter in the R-G May 8, I have to point out the callousness of the conservative commissioners doesn’t even touch the surface of what is happening in Lane County.

The residents of Dexter/Lost Valley only found out about the hearing the night before.

The hearing was not only the mechanism to cut out Dexter/Lost Valley residents from any enforcement action from the county, but to silence them as well!

Jay Bozievich should have recused himself from the hearing, being a recipient of political contributions from both the McDougal Bros. and Greg Demers.

I emailed Faye Stewart a week before the hearing inquiring why enforcement action was not taken after the community had recorded visual proof of the miners breaking the hearing officers ruling. He told me that the commissions were discussing it and that he had referred my email to county attorney Marc Kardell and Jane Burgess.

Kardell was replaced at the hearing and fired after the hearing took place (I assume for not going along with the three commissioners’ decision to disenfranchise Dexter/Lost Valley). Faye Stewart must have known in advance of the commissioners’ decision to shut down the Dexter/Lost Valley residents and to fire Kardell. He deceived his own constituents and then threw them under the bus.

Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken and Faye Stewart should all be recalled.

The hearing is the beginning of right-wing dirty politics to consolidate total power of Lane County government. The smear campaign against Sorenson and Handy is part of this power grab!

Arlen Markus, Dexter


I support the re-election of Pete Sorenson as Lane County commissioner. His dedication to supporting education, protecting the environment and promoting a sustainable economy is critically important to all Lane County citizens. An example of Sorenson’s long-range vision in favor of sustainability is his strong record of support for preserving high-value farmland for long-term food production instead of allowing destruction of farms by gravel mining, the “final harvest.” 

Sorenson brings his skills as a lawyer and rational thinker to his evaluation of the evidence. He reads testimony carefully and asks critical questions of proponents and opponents. Sorenson, unlike the conservative majority on the commission, is not beholden to the extractive industries and other special interests who often put their own short-term profit above concern for the long-term well-being of the community and the environment.

Sorenson has been unfairly targeted by those industries and special interests precisely because he has been effective. Sorenson’s continued presence on the commission will help assure long-term livability for all of Lane County.

Karen Reed, Eugene


As a longtime Eugene resident, I am writing to urge you to re-elect Pete Sorenson as county commissioner. I first met Pete when I was a college student at the UO. Pete’s work focused on citizen empowerment and he taught me a lot about working hard for our community as he has modeled in his service to Lane County.

Pete was instrumental in assisting our student group in creating the UO Campus Recycling Program and has heralded important work in protecting the environment, supporting schools and empowering citizens. In the years that Pete has served Lane County, his record speaks for itself, supporting measures that have benefited our people, community, environment, economy and infrastructure. Pete works for you. 

Time for us to re-elect him to continue to serve our county as a community advocate who tireless has stood up for Lane County. Pete is not afraid to stand up and do the right thing. Stand up for Pete as he stands up for you!

Karyn Kaplan, Eugene


Elections present us with choices. Democratic County Commissioner Rob Handy is facing off against Republican Pat Farr. Not surprisingly, Lane County’s most notorious polluters and plunderers are lining up behind Farr and financing his campaign. These are the same polluters and plunderers that donated to Jim Torrey, Art Robinson and other FOX News right-wingers. Undoubtedly, developers, i.e., professional environmental rapists like Greg Demers will be pulling for Farr, hoping to increase the corporate stranglehold on Lane County. Farr is the clear choice of the greedy 1 percent.

Then there’s Rob Handy. Rob is a man of great integrity — an intelligent, empathetic, and courageous public servant. He has proven to be a champion of ordinary people, working tirelessly to protect working families, precious farmlands, and the environment. 

Vote for the 99 percent commissioners: Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson. Make some phone calls and knock on some doors, too.

Joshua Welch, Eugene


In the ongoing community discussion about the violation of Oregon’s Public Meetings Law by Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy, the letter April 19 by Arnold Ismach was a typical response of those defending this behavior. And, like most such letters, it misses the point of this decision. Public officials can meet off the record all they want to “discuss and debate issues.” But they cannot meet off the record to “deliberate.” To understand the difference, please Google “Dumdi vs. Handy, et al”, and read some of the stories that pop up. 

Lonnie McCulloch, Eugene


We need an effective progressive voice on the Board of Commissioners, one who can find and implement solutions to our problems. Andy Stahl is that person.

I have worked closely with Stahl during these past several months. I have found that he listens, learns and cares deeply about the future of our county. He is smart, capable and ready to serve. 

Stahl listens, and people listen to him. He has a good core set of values that allow him to find solutions to problems without compromising those values. He holds his ground while listening to other viewpoints. People don’t shut him out, even when they have an opposing opinion. Andy is able to clearly articulate his position so others can understand his logic. That is what makes him so effective.

Andy has used his personal experience in environmental issues, children and family issues, and education issues to understand and work through difficult challenges. He is committed and dedicated to sort through complex problems and work together with others to find solutions.

We need him on our County Commission. His voice is important. His effectiveness is important. 

Laurie Swanson Gribskov, Eugene


The question is simple: Do we want a true Oregonian with an incredible breadth of experience to be the people’s lawyer? Or do we want an ambitious newly admitted federal prosecutor, supported by out-of-state interests, who has never handled a case in the Oregon state court system? Ellen will bring 37 years of legal experience — in all areas of law — to the position of attorney general. Her opponent was admitted to practice in Oregon barely three years ago and has practiced only criminal law. As a former assistant attorney general, I urge you to vote for Ellen Rosenblum for AG.

The AG must oversee almost 300 lawyers engaged in consumer protection law, contract negotiation, child advocacy, employment law, constitutional law, administrative proceedings, regulatory work, elections law, appeals, and yes, some criminal prosecutions. An AG needs to know the ins and outs of Oregon state courts, and to understand the interests and values of the Oregonians she represents. Ellen Rosenblum does.

And Ellen has the experience to manage. As a judge for over two decades, Ellen managed thousands of trials. As an active member of the legal community, Ellen has been one of the top officers of the American Bar Association, the largest voluntary group of attorneys in the world, and has helped manage an organization of 2,000 employees and a multimillion-dollar budget.

Judicial temperament, decades of broad experience, political skills, and a crusader’s passion — and, importantly, an understanding of Oregon, Oregon law, and Oregonians. That’s Ellen Rosenblum.

Robert B. Rocklin, Eugene


For the past twenty years, the public wrangle involving owls, O&C lands, Secure Rural School funding, and the loss of jail beds has become a nearly indecipherable babble. Political opportunists of all stripes have claimed to have the keys to translation and solution. All have failed. Compromise amongst the arguing parties was never achieved. 

County commissioner candidate Andy Stahl, we believe, has promoted a “sword” for this Gordian knot. He understands the need for political compromise on these issues. 

He drafted the forest plan which is now championed by Peter DeFazio. A plan that offers solutions: solutions which, in the democratic tradition, ask for compromise from all parties to achieve the general public good.

Andy Stahl is not a political opportunist. He understands the political nature of achieving the public good. We wish to give him, as county commissioner, the opportunity to use his evident political skills in addressing these issues.

Fred and Deb Mohr, Eugene


Chat with candidate Denise Bean for Springfield mayor just a few minutes and you absorb her enthusiastic and passionate excitement for Springfield. Purchasing property in 1990, I realized that as a community member Springfield had a few challenges. Denise acknowledges the challenges and also the strengths that we Springfield residents should celebrate. 

Checking out Denise-Bean-For-Mayor.com I was impressed and surprised that she currently serves on so many committees including the Springfield Planning Commission, Springfield Renaissance Corporation, Springfield Rotary, Springfield Chamber of Commerce Greeters and Government Issues committees, Willamalane Board, Main Street Design Committee, and on top of that recently founded the Springfield City Club.

Denise will provide a much needed voice for Springfield at the regional level. The decisions made in Springfield and Eugene by elected officials impact both communities. Denise will be a visual mayor bringing strength, competent leadership and participation to the regional table of discussions. 

Past contributions are a great indicator of what we can expect in the future. We have all heard campaign promises that go empty once elected. Denise has a proven history of contributions. Denise is approachable and I encourage you to contact her or at the very least check out her website before you vote. Be an informed voter and make a great choice for Springfield. 

I am excited about Springfield’s future. 

Shirley Gauthier, Springfield


I write this letter to support Commissioner Peter Sorenson in his re-election to the Lane County Board of Commissioners. I have known Peter since the 1970s when we worked as legislative aides to congressman Jim Weaver. I have known him as a U.S. Department of Agriculture executive appointee, lawyer, state senator, and now Lane County commissioner. 

Peter’s passionate commitment to the land and people of Oregon has been consistent through the decades. This commitment has been expressed in day-to-day politics with reason, dialogue, compassion and, yes, also with the skills of a seasoned “politician.” He is knowledgeable about the mechanics of government and knows how to win elections and pass legislation. This can be a good thing! Although Peter is widely recognized as an environmentalist, the people of Lane County could have no better champion for living-wage jobs, human rights and survival needs than Commissioner Sorenson. He is a dedicated public servant committed to making government work for people and not for the short-term profits of a few. 

South Eugene voters are educated and passionate about their politics. In light of the baseless accusations against Peter, I offer them another informed opinion of his the character and politics over the decades. I hope you will re-elect him for all of us in Lane County. 

Stephanie Larsen, Springfield


The Weekly was entirely too casual in endorsing Judge Ellen Rosenblum’s opponent for Oregon attorney general. You say Rosenblum’s career as a judge “would appear to qualify her more for the Oregon Supreme Court than for the Department of Justice,” and somewhat patronizingly suggest that she consider filling the next vacancy there instead. 

While the skills and attitude of a prosecutor can be helpful in much of what the AG does, the primary role of the DOJ is to serve as the state’s lawyer. In that capacity, the breadth of perspective of a trial and Appeals Court judge, rather than the single-mindedness of a prosecutor, can be enormously useful. But Rosenblum was a federal prosecutor in Eugene and Portland for nine years — specializing in financial crimes — before she became a trial court judge in 1989, later serving on the Court of Appeals. 

I often look to the Weekly for useful perspective in its electoral endorsements, but I think you bobbled the ball on this one. Rosenblum is highly qualified to be an excellent AG. She’s endorsed by Gov. Barbara Roberts, former AGs Dave Frohnmayer and Hardy Myers, Basic Rights Oregon PAC, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon PAC, Portland Mercury, and many others. I would urge voters who haven’t already cast their ballots to consult her positions on the issues, posted at http://ellenrosenblum.com/issues.

Robert Roth, Eugene 


Peter Sorenson is a hard working community leader and a strong supporter of solar energy. More than ten years ago, Sorenson, as commissioner. approached me to find out ways to encourage installation of solar systems in Eugene. I suggested that the best way was to set an example, so he installed a solar water heating system on his house. Peter suggested that we invite all elected official in Lane County to a meeting for a discussion of solar energy and the jobs it could bring to Lane County and to Oregon. With a mailing to over 100 elected officials in Lane County ranging from utility board members to city councilors, only one or two elected officials showed up to express their interest in solar energy and jobs. Peter not only chaired the meeting, he helped with the cleanup afterwards. 

He is not a person to just lend his name to a cause and leave it to its fates. If Peter wants something accomplished, he puts in the time and effort to actually help make it happen. Sorenson has been a strong and active supporter of solar energy over the years and that is why he has my support.

Frank Vignola, Eugene


I’m mad as HELL and I’m not going to take it anymore! Last summer and fall raids on legal Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) gardens occurred, leaving hundreds of patients without medicine.

Soon I will have a chance to right that wrong by voting for Ellen Rosenblum in the Democratic primary’s attorney general race. Her opponent, Dwight Holton, a politically connected East Coast-based U.S. attorney, was in no small part responsible for that theft.

Dwight doesn’t believe in the OMMP, believing instead that federal laws (the continued prohibition of cannabis) overpowers the states’ right to regulate medical cannabis programs as they see fit. This has to stop!

Rosenblum promises to work FOR Oregonians and their right to legally obtain medical cannabis. What do people with cancer or other horrible illnesses do for their medicine — buy it off the street illegally? Please join me in just saying “No!” to federal bullies and “Yes!” to our next (and our first woman) attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum.

Judi Lawson, Dexter


OK, in my efforts to gain more information on the Sorenson vs. Stahl commissioner race, more information was required on Andy Stahl, who is on the board of directors of the Thoreau Institute. “An important principle of the Thoreau Institute is that there are no enemies of the environment, only people with different incentives. Part of the Institute’s mission is to bring together people from different interest groups in an effort to resolve conflicts” is taken from its website at www.ti.org/aboutti.shtml 

 There are three people on the board: Stahl, Randall O’Toole (also a senior fellow with the Cato Institute), and a former sawmill manager from Montana.

The Thoreau Institute defines itself as “classical liberals” who favor free trade, free markets, and small central government. They believe that “decentralized tools” such as user fees, incentives, and markets are preferable to subsidies, bureaucracy, and regulation in facing serious environmental problems. 

It would seem that Stahl is a libertarian/free market environmentalist as evidenced by his position with the Thoreau Institute. Knowing this and the kinds of decisions commissioners are called upon to make regarding land and water uses and the role of government in general, I have a glimmer of what “get along” with the conservative members will look like. While I lament Sorenson’s failure to address the yearly budgetary woes brought on by the increasing reluctance of Congress to provide funds for those counties with O&C lands (we need to face the fact that that well is dry), he remains the Democratic candidate with values I can support. Support him I will.

 Susan Brenner, Eugene


I’m reminded of early 1980’s elections when “Gay Rights” were not fashionable. In fact, many on the political right asserted that people who got Reagan’s Disease deserved it because of their amoral behavior. As thousands died horrible deaths, some politicians publicly asserted that this was God’s punishment. You see, being gay was fringe.

I respected politicians like Jerry Brown of California, who had the moral integrity to stand up for basic human rights, even when it was politically unpopular.

 Fast forward 30 years: Today, the stigma associated with being gay or lesbian is being cleared away. No political candidate, except the most fringe will want to anger the gay community. Dutifully, Dwight Holton puts out a glossy YouTube video about defending the rights of those in the GLBT community. (Note his funding is primarily Republican out-of-state money and his endorsements are the Oregon sheriffs and DAs.)

Dwight resorts to the same marginalization and intolerance that was aimed towards gays 30 years ago, towards medical marijuana patients (OMMP) today.

In my years I have learned to measure political candidates against a basic moral compass: How do they treat those who are not in fashion? 

As U.S. attorney, Dwight sided with the federal government against our constitutional right to self-determination. As Oregon’s AG he will advocate for legal rollbacks of the OMMP, pushing me, and thousands of OMMP patients into the criminal justice system, at taxpayer expense. 

For me the decision was easy. I’m voting for Ellen Rosenblum for AG.

Jim Greig, OMMP patient/activist, Eugene


It is rare that Oregonians have the chance to support for attorney general a person of such experience, legal skill, personableness and deep commitment to the good of Oregon as Judge Ellen Rosenblum. Her extensive experience in Eugene, Portland and Salem as a federal prosecutor, private lawyer, Circuit Court judge and Court of Appeals judge has provided the kind of depth and judgment that prepare her for being Oregon’s next AG. She is an approachable, considerate person, who listens well and judges with care and wisdom. I heartily endorse her.

William R. Long, M.Div., Ph.D., J.D., Salem


The lead article by Dante Zuniga-West (4/19) is so misinformed and distorted it would be laughable if the subject wasn’t serious. What does the leader “How safer sex can save the planet” have to do with birth control and population stabilization (which is the point of the article)? Safe sex and overbreeding are essentially separate subjects.

He touts “responsible birth-control users” as being those “whose only interest is keeping your offspring at zero.” This should be those having 2.2 or less children (replacement level).

And he implies that the problem with irresponsible breeding is in America whereas American women have been having children at a slightly below replacement level for about 30 years. The only reason U.S. population is growing is because of high levels of legal and illegal immigration. The only parts of the world that are still overbreeding are in parts of the Middle East, Africa and India. Even Mexico and South America are now at or below replacement level.

And since American women are reproducing at below replacement levels this means that some — those who really love children — can in good conscious have three or four or five. If he wants to stabilize the population of the U.S. he should be an activist for reduced immigration.

What editor approved this highly distorted piece? 

Jim Merkner, Veneta



The Centre Court building at Broadway and Willamette was built 84 years ago as a department store. Since then it has had nine different owners, has undergone one major addition, three major remodelings and has survived more than 20 years of vacancy and neglect. Apparently a sturdy building such as this can last for tens of decades and outlive lots of changes. 

Now imagine the Capstone project 80 years from now — in 2092. The whole project, constructed according to 2012 codes, will probably last at least that long. It meets today’s specialized market for student housing and automobile parking all right, but nobody knows if the hot demand for 1,200 students living on this site will continue. In 2092, Eugeneans would surely see so many obsolete buildings in their downtown as a serious problem.

Why not prevent the problem? During a council discussion of the proposed Capstone development, Councilor Alan Zelenka suggested that the need to park so many cars might change in response to fuel costs and other factors — that the parking structures might be designed to be adaptable for other uses. This is an excellent idea that could also include the residential parts of Capstone — a realistic step in realizing the city’s policies on sustainable development.

So, as a condition for granting the 10-year tax exemption that Capstone has requested, the council should require Capstone to demonstrate how parts of the project as presently designed could be adapted for other uses. If they can show this, the project could continue on schedule. 

Dan Herbert, Eugene


Kudos to EW and Dante Zuniga-West for connecting the dots between the human population explosion and most of the world’s problems (“Do It For The Planet,” 4/19).

Unfortunately, the article didn’t address the root cause issue of who’s making most of the babies. A recent U.N. demographic report did, but I’m sure political correctness would prevent its conclusions from being reprinted here. 

The report predicts the U.S. population will increase to about 500 million and world population to 10.1 billion in this century. Trying to stop this impending disaster with a few colorfully packaged condoms, while continuing to bury our heads in the sand, is just another liberal pipe dream.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield


In reading EW’s Earth Day Issue, (4/19), I felt a bit of shock that such a controversial topic would be chosen for the cover story. Safe sex and family planning are invaluable to our society both for population control and women’s rights, but I would never draw a correlation between the use of condoms and saving the planet. 

In today’s commercial market we now have two “mainstream” options regarding manufacturing material for the male condom. First, that nasty little petroleum bi-product Polyurethane. Sure, many people will revere its usefulness in the manufacturing of surfboards, foam pads, Spandex, and numerous commercial building supplies, but, if you inspect around your home, although exposed to the elements, this little plastic is not disappearing at any recognizable rate, and thanks to modern science we know for a fact that it will loom around this planet far beyond our own personal departures. Our second, and most common choice, the latex condom, takes years to decompose. Derived most commonly from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber/latex industry abuses the land through mono-cropped plantations, which rely heavily on the use of pesticides and herbicides to maximize production. The latex, once extracted, is often compounded with petrochemicals to increase elasticity and durability, which further delay the biological breakdown process.

Regarding oceans, according to worldwatch.org, during the Ocean Conservancy’s International coastal clean-up in 2009 more than 10 million pieces of plastic were removed from beaches including 26,617 condoms. This is a striking reminder that condoms and their packaging are waste and the only responsible thing to do with these single-use sheaths is to add them and their single-use packaging to the landfill where they can be piled atop others long since tossed from those Grateful Dead tours, when Jerry was still singing.

To be clear, I do NOT intend to discourage the use of condoms, as aside from abstinence, they are the most effective resource in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease and infection. It is crucial, however, to recognize the environmental impacts of condom manufacturing and consumption which were so hastily disregarded in EW’s attempt at an eye-catching cover story. So go on Eugene, romp around in whatever way suits you best, but let us not loose sight of the impact our choices have on the environment for today and the future alike.

Elizabeth Goward, Eugene


This is a moot letter, as the Eugene Budget Committee has already decided to cut in half the hours and staff of the Bethel and Sheldon Libraries.

This is a moot complaint to City Manager Jon Ruiz’s locked and secure, half-a-dozen digit yearly income, not willing to cut HIS funds.

This is a moot cheer for Pat Farr’s futile proposals to the committee, to consider the main library open just one hour AND saving Sheldon and Bethel’s slashing.

I know it’s been a challenging year for the Budget Committee, but to have a meeting for the public and representatives, to listen to their concerns and proposals, and then come to this pre-decided conclusion, well, it sounds like the meeting was, strategically moot.

Councilor George Poling was quoted: “I’m going to have to ‘bite the bullet’ on this and go with the cuts proposed by the city manager.”

George’s NOT the one ‘biting the bullet’ and getting the ‘cut’, the library directors will be doing the ‘amputation’ and ‘biting the bullet’. The workers, patrons and constituency will then be left with the memory of this phantom limb.

As far as the city councilors go, mine are moot opinions. I am only an active library patron and Eugene tax payer.

Mark Jaquette, Bethel Neighborhood