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Letters to the Editor: 6-14-2012

SAVE THE HEADWATERS 

A treasured resource for our city lies at the foot of West Amazon where the Amazon Headwaters Trail starts to climb towards Spencer Butte. 

Strolling along the canyon beneath majestic trees we hear the sounds of forest denizens and Amazon Creek. There is no place in town that is as accessible and yet seems so remote from the cityscape.

Protecting the headwaters of Amazon Creek is vital to the environmental health of the whole watershed. As the only remaining place to complete an ecological corridor between the Amazon Greenway and the headwaters of Amazon Creek, this site was identified by the Army Corps of Engineers Metro Waterways study as a priority for open space acquisition.

Concerned citizens have struggled to preserve this area while developers have brought forward multiple plans to create multiple residential lots and new roads since 1998.

Now yet another PUD application is in process. The proposed Deerbrook PUD envisions 75 residential lots, extends West Amazon south to connect with Fox Hollow, and includes several new streets.

A public hearing to address the PUD application is scheduled for 5 pm Thursday, June 28, in the City Hall Council Chambers. The public hearing is our opportunity to submit factual information or raise issues. 

Attend the hearing and state your concerns or submit a written statement to the Hearings Official c/o Associate Planner Becky Taylor, Eugene Planning Division, 99 West 10th Ave, Eugene 97401. Or email Becky.G.Taylor@ci.eugene.or.us

Save the Amazon Headwaters!

David Saul & Debbie Hebert, Eugene


HEARTS & MINDS

I am excited to hear about the upcoming 50th gathering of Occupying the Heart and Mind, a silent interfaith meditation/prayer circle to cultivate love and compassion for the oppressed. The Occupy movement may not be getting the attention in the press that it did months ago, but please do not be fooled into thinking that it is not growing. The social challenges that led to its inception have yet to be overcome. 

As long as our people go unhoused, denied access to education and health care, while the wealthy elite continue to ravage the environment, there will be a movement. As long as there is a movement, meditation and prayer will be at its heart (and mind). It is no accident that Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mohandas Gandhi, and so many of our other most prominent social leaders, activists and educators shared the practices in common. 

When we come together as a community to create and hold sacred space in silence, when we take the time to listen deeply to our own hearts and minds, we come to know the interdependence of life. Through the cultivation of this awareness we find the strength and guidance needed to move forward in love and compassion. 

As Martin Luther King Jr. has so eloquently said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” May we all come to know with ever increasing clarity the truth of these words. May we continue to be open in our awareness of the divine nature of our own hearts and minds.

Taylor Pierson, Eugene


A GIFTED JUDGE

The American Bar Association says that a trial judge should require that every proceeding before him or her be conducted with “unhurried and quiet dignity,” and should establish surroundings that are appropriate to the administration of justice. The opinion of the Cottage Grove City Council, with the exception of Councilors Burke and Murphy, differs. The Council recently decided to terminate Judge Richard Brissenden’s 12-year employment with the Municipal Court. 

Their decision was based on the alleged concerns of some anonymous citizens, concerns that probably were not submitted by email, since a mail server would have, no doubt, relegated them to “junk” status. 

One councilor defended her decision, saying that it was mainly a financial consideration. Judge Brissenden, she said, just wasn’t fast enough to be profitable. Apparently they prefer a “conveyor-belt” system in which the guilt or innocence of accused citizens is decided as swiftly as the dollar will allow, justice notwithstanding, since there’s not much financial gain in that principle. They tiptoed around Brissenden’s lengthy dedication to their community, volunteer service, and habitually being on-call 24/7 to the police and court.

Jake Boone, one of the two councilors who voted against firing the judge, summed it up this way: “I think what it really boils down to is the danger of working for a group of elected people who don’t have a lot of expertise in the job you’re doing.” 

Brissenden is a man who has for years committed his time to advancing the cause of justice. He remains a gifted judge, and a public-spirited citizen.

Ethel Bassett, Walton


DIFFICULT ANIMALS

It’s official. Greenhill Humane Society is taking over Lane County Animal Services’ vacancy. This gives GH a total of 25 days to train their employees to do something they’ve never done before … help sick animals. In the past GH has held such “impressive” live release rates because they had the ability to discriminate the animals that were accepted into their facilities. Now they will have to deal with problem dogs, spring litters, and every flea-ridden alley cat that is picked up. 

We can only hope that GH will open their animal care committee to outside members and allow advocates from fellow animal welfare agencies with experience in more difficult cases to aide in their decisions with strays with medical and behavioral problems. A simple read over their Facebook page will show that even recently their idea of a problem animal is far too loose, having euthanized two cats for skin and dental issues and three dogs for, in many people’s opinions, fixable behavioral issues, within the last month. 

As a concerned citizen I can only hope that the city of Eugene has made an informed decision, not one only of haste. If any others are concerned I encourage you to not only write to local news agencies but to GH, Eugene City Council and Lane County Commission to express your worries on this matter. 

Drew Allen, Eugene


HARD LESSON

Regarding Camilla Mortensen’s piece on strife in Lane County government (News Briefs, 6/7), one point of clarification:

It wasn’t the County Commission’s “proposal” of an income tax that led to the attempted recall of commissioner Bobby Green. Said proposal had been narrowly rejected by county voters in November, 2006 — four months before the commission decided to impose a 1.1 percent tax anyway. At the public hearing where that ill-fated decision was made, some well-known area “leaders” basically told the commissioners they had no cajones unless they ignored the voters and imposed the tax.

It took only one weekend to get more than enough signatures to stick the tax “where the sun don’t shine.” Given the narrow margin of defeat in November, a revised and more focused proposal might have flown at the polls on a second try. Instead, the commission thumbed its nose at the voters. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature could have predicted the result. 

This should not necessarily prevent the commission from trying again — hopefully with the hard lesson from the past not forgotten.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield


PAY CAPS NOT NEEDED

While well-intentioned, HUD’s recently announced plan to impose pay caps for the hard-working professionals who lead local housing agencies is, unfortunately, unnecessary. Salary levels have been held in check ever since the Bush years. The Bush administrations failed to recognize the value in the services we at local housing agencies provide. 

Funding levels during the Bush reign has kept our salaries low here on the West Coast and Pacific Northwest. Our agency barely saw one COLA in the last 10 years. We have yet to come up to market levels with any other housing agencies in our region.

Housing authority executives are public employees tasked with administering programs that meet the basic housing needs of nearly seven million of the most vulnerable Americans, including veterans, the elderly and the disabled, and working poor, families with young children, nearly all of whom would be at serious risk of homelessness if not for the services that local agencies provide. 

We are not overpaid for the services we provide; in fact we are simply overworked. Many of our co-workers have opted out to early retirement to save a few jobs here and there. The work and the services we provide only increased with these budget balancing attempts. The work didn’t go away, only the co-workers. 

HUD’s attempt to reel in some salary issues in giant housing authorities like those in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, doesn’t work in small housing authorities like those here in Oregon. What HUD should focus on is getting more money out of the federal budget to assist more struggling families that need our services and pay the workers their fair share to keep up the excellent work we do.

Cj Mann, President, Housing Authority and Community Services Agency Local 3267


DIFFERENT ROADS

I was talking with a beautiful young lady the other day while she was waiting to pick up her children at an elementary school at which I volunteer. The school had had an “Old Time Rock & Roll” day, and her children had dressed up like hippies. I told her that the flowers in their hair brought me back to the years when I was a thinner version of my present self.

We talked about hitching across and around the U.S. and got to talking about all the folks holding up cardboard signs at the side of the road. I explained to her that it was not the same at all back in my day. We, the tens of thousands on the road, were looking for something indefinable, and we were traveling in hope of excitement. We were young and searching for the Dreams Come True place that we all believed was out there, somewhere, on the road, and we shone like the sun.

The poor folks alongside the on-ramps and on busy corners nowadays are not like we were. They are much, much older and most appear damaged and broken. While we were the yearning and the learning, burning to be free, these broken ones are the confused, the abused and the misused.

We took to the roads in hope. They are forced to the roads and hopeless. It is not the same. It is not the same at all.

Jamie Selko, Eugene



STAND UP FOR SOCCER

More than 600 people turned out for Azul’s home game June 1, even though it was raining, and they were competing with the Pre Classic, the PAC-12 baseball championship, and a number of other events. Let’s see if we can double that for their game this Friday, June 15, at South Eugene High School. 

If more people show up than the bleachers can handle, the overflow crowd could simply walk across the street and form a line waiting to get into our historic Civic Stadium. If we can do this, it will make a statement about the market for soccer in Eugene better than anything some consultants report can say. See you at the game.

Lonnie McCulloch, Eugene


DEADLY VISION

The mass killer who gunned down five people in Seattle recently was able to get his concealed carry permit under the loose Washington state law that limits the authority of law enforcement to stop people with violent pasts and histories of serious mental illness from carrying in public.

Ian Stawicki is the latest poster child for the NRA’s dark, guns-everywhere vision for America. Stawicki was reportedly charged with assaulting his girlfriend and had a history of taking dangerous psychiatric drugs, but according to the NRA he was a “law-abiding citizen,” so Washington’s permissive gun laws forced police to allow him to carry a loaded, hidden handgun virtually anywhere.

In states such as California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland that give police greater power to deny concealed carry licenses, Stawicki almost certainly would have been denied a permit to carry.

Meanwhile, the NRA is now lobbying for federal legislation to override state laws and allow dangerous people like Stawicki to carry guns around the nation. The NRA and the politicians who do its bidding must bear responsibility for the consequences of their recklessly dangerous laws. Please reject the NRA’s deadly vision of an armed America!

Curtis Taylor, Eugene


50TH GATHERING

Several months back, during the final moments of the last gathering of Occupying the Heart and Mind at the Washington/Jefferson encampment, a single acorn fell into the center of our circle. On March 17 more than 35 spiritual leaders and supporters of the Occupy movement came together to plant that seed. 

This Sunday, June 17, as we celebrate our 50th meditation/ prayer circle, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and representatives of other religious and non-religious traditions will come together once again to bless this young oak in its earliest stages of development, its growth symbolizing the growth of a movement, which has only just begun. 

Please join us at the old Federal Building (7th and Pearl) from 1 to 4 pm as we continue in our struggle toward the creation of a peaceful, socially sustainable and environmentally regenerative future for us all.

 Nathaniel Nordin-Tuininga

Eugene


WHICH ROMNEY?

When we try to fathom the depths of Gov. Mitt Romney’s mind we come up against a brick wall of deceit and lies. It is really hard to tell which Romney it is that is speaking. A snippet of tape reveled to me that it is the Romney that can count up to 50.1 percent that really matters. That is the number that Romney used to describe what his campaign for president is all about. Romney wants to obtain 50.1 percent of the vote and get himself declared winner regardless of how he wins or who he invites into his campaign or what he says about anyone who stands in his way of getting what he wants. 

Leadership, what is best for Americans, what we can do to support peace in the world and encourage people to decide for themselves their own fate are totally off the table for the governor. These attitudes do not a president make. What they do make is a hack, a political junkie and a useless office seeker whose best ability to count does not count in the American public.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene


PRIVATE SECTOR BOOM

When President Obama truthfully said “the private sector is doing fine,” Romney and the right wing quickly cherry picked and tied it to the top of his campaign bus. 

Obama’s comment was not only true, but an understatement. The private sector is doing great. The Fortune 500 had a record $824 billion in profits last year. CEO pay is up 15 percent.

The corporate tax rate is at a 40 year low. Who is not doing so great are the middle class wage earners working for the private sector. The private sector “job creators” have been laying off workers and squeezing more production and less wages and benefits out of the remaining employees. As the wages of the middle class decline, the net worth of the elite .1 percent has been growing exponentially This decline of the middle class and the rise of the .1 percent started 40 years ago. 

A graph was recently released showing the declining middle class wages goes hand in hand with the decline of union workers. Gov. Scott Walker’s victory against the public workers’ union will only speed the downward spiral. Henry Ford realized that demand for products creates jobs. So he paid his workers enough to buy his product. The Republican Party has pledged to shrink the government until it can be drowned in bath tub, leaving only enough non-union middle class workers to service the elite top .1 percent.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain