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Letters to the Editor: 8-16-2012

TARGETING THE HOMELESS

Jeff Zekas [Letters, 8/9] denounces the homeless and their sympathizers with the typical bitterness and cynicism of a disillusioned former believer in a cause he’s now committed to discrediting. Once, when he “was young and naive,” Zekas “felt sorry for these miscreants.” Now that he’s grown up and wise, he sees that the homeless are in fact “mentally deficient” perpetrators of “theft, assault, and murder.”

Zekas tells a story about his vehicle being vandalized and broken into while parked outside Walmart on West 11th. How does Zekas know those responsible were homeless? The perpetrators were more likely housed young drug addicts who still have the strength and skill to support their habits by pulling off small crimes. In many years of working with severely addicted and mentally ill homeless people, I can say with confidence most do not have the skill, strength, organization or motivation to support themselves or their habits in this way.

When homeless people do perpetrate violent or otherwise serious crimes, the victims are almost always other homeless people. And while some homeless people may be a public nuisance, I’m not aware of one case of a housed person being physically attacked by a homeless person. I’m aware of four cases in recent years of homeless people being killed in Eugene (three of them by housed persons and the other by a fellow homeless person). In two of these cases, housed individuals specifically sought out homeless people to murder. Given a culture that arguably encourages violence against the homeless — with programs such as Bumfights, for instance — should anyone be surprised that homeless camps might contain “axes and knives”? The general population is armed for protection; why wouldn’t the homeless be, given the likelihood they will be targeted for violence?

One mustn’t romanticize the homeless population — which, like the population at large, contains plenty of damaged, maladjusted and, in some cases, predatory individuals — but some facts just can’t be ignored: Children account for 38 percent of the total homeless population; 40 percent of homeless men are military veterans; 65 percent of single homeless individuals suffer from addiction; 26 percent of the homeless population suffers from a serious psychiatric disorder; families with children are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population. (Statistics provided by the National Coalition for the Homeless.)

Brenton Gicker, Eugene

 

BLOWING TOXIC SMOKE

The last line of Aaron Dactyl’s letter [“Coal Train Hype,” 8/2], “I can’t wait for the coal train to arrive,” shows that he is blowing as much toxic smoke as the coal trains he professes to love.

The fact that coal trains would not pass the UO campus is cold comfort when you consider that the trains will travel south through west Eugene, potentially impacting many local neighborhoods. The trains may sit idling and spewing diesel fumes in the rail yard before heading west where many people live, work, bike and enjoy the outdoors. With a pound of coal dust flying off each car of a 150-car train over each mile, these trains disperse more toxic debris than any urban community should bear in any part of town.

The west Eugene streets surrounding the railyard may be heavily industrialized, but they are also filled with many homes, as well as schools, playgrounds and businesses. Coal dust, like other pollutants already present in west Eugene, is linked to asthma, emphysema and other respiratory and pulmonary conditions.

Concerns about water quality in the Fern Ridge Reservoir and the Coos Bay ecosystem further emphasize the folly of trading the health of people and the environment across the Northwest to provide coal to the power plants of other countries.

As a society, we are long overdue in realizing that creating jobs is not a carte blanche to generate negative environmental, health and social impacts. We must get Americans back to work with clean energy projects that create jobs.

Ann Kneeland, Eugene

 

TRAIN-HOPPER

I’m writing in response to the letter “Coal Train Hype.” The letter [8/2] was authored by one Aaron Dactyl, who states that he “can’t wait for the coal trains to arrive.” A simple Google search of the author’s name reveals why: He is involved in the illegal and dangerous practice of train hopping (see wkly.ws/1c6). No wonder he is so quick to trivialize the health and safety of his fellow citizens and our planet. 

I wonder how the residents of Trainsong Neighborhood and River Road area feel about having their lives dismissed so casually, particularly given that west Eugene has some of the worst rates of asthma in the country due to its abhorrent air quality. A 2006 study by the American Lung Association found that Eugene had the seventh-worst air quality in the country. Moreover, simply because the trains will be passing mostly through west Eugene does not mean that fine particulate matter such as coal dust will not be carried into the university district.

This “not-in-my-backyard” reasoning advocated by Dactyl is both unethical and not born out by the facts. The logic behind going after the trains, rather that the port as Dactyl suggests, is simple: Transportation infrastructure is the Achilles heel of the fossil fuel industry. I can’t speak for others, but personally I don’t appreciate my health being threatened or watching our sacred and living Earth die from climate change so that Dactyl can continue in engage in his allegedly criminal activity.

Sebastian Fourier, Eugene

 

BEARDS ON PARADE

The Eugene Celebration is nearly upon us, Aug. 24-26. Also coming is the first and hopefully annual Beard and Moustache Contest and Parade Entry. Being of the bearded persuasion, I am quite excited. We have set the lofty goal of getting 150 folks to march with us in the parade to celebrate Eugene’s 150th birthday. I am certain there are far more than 150 hairy folks in our community, but to honor being all-inclusive, we welcome all to march with us with real facial hair or created faux beards! And for fun we also welcome those so inclined to dress up as your favorite hairy/bearded person from history — for example, Abe Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Santa Claus, Eugene Skinner, ZZ Top, the Lorax, you get the idea. Come one come all, make it a bearded family outing. 

And no need to be shy as you can cover up with your fake beard, made of felt, tree moss, a mop, New Orleans beads, construction paper.

Applications to enter our contest or sign up for the parade are at Out On A Limb Gallery, 191 E Broadway, 11 am to 5 pm Wednesdays through Sundays, or go to the Eugene Celebration website to download the form. Any questions? My email is rboy@efn.org

Near as I can remember I have not shaved for 13 years; come see me unfurl my twisted beard!

Tim Boyden, Eugene

 

LOVING THE BUNNIES

Saint Francis must be rolling over in his grave. Just when I think I have seen it all with regard to animal cruelty, here is this “rabbit rodeo” [7/26]. Talk about messed up on every level. From teaching children cruelty to terrifying the rabbits to breeding rabbits for such an event — I could go on and on. Shame on the Cottage Grove Riding Club for sponsoring such an event. 

Rabbits are not bucking broncos, not that I excuse rodeos of any sort, but come on! Watching hordes of screaming children stampede and dive-bomb shy, gentle bunnies is nauseating. I wept as I watched the video of this atrocious event. Where have all the good cowboys gone? What happened to the lessons taught by Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger? These icons of yore taught children to be kind to animals. This Cottage Grove Riding Club must be some sort of degenerate outfit. 

I moved to Lane County from rural New Mexico in part because of the relatively enlightened view this area has towards critters. How dismaying to find this in my backyard. I am disgusted. Lane County is better than this. I suggest the Cottage Grove Riding Club take a page from Michael Vick and admit the error of their ways, evolve and start promoting kindness to animals. Instead of rabbit rodeos, children could tour the Red Barn Rabbit Rescue facility or Greenhill and learn about throwaway, neglected and abused animals and what it takes to keep rabbits properly. There is no shame in being a bunny-hugger. 

Karen DeBraal, Springfield

 

LOVING THE WET SPOT

Observing the angry, red national weather map over the course of this summer with its triple-digit temperatures, wet blanket humidity, drought-stricken breadbasket and tornado-spawning thunderstorms, it occurs to this guiltily comfortable Eugene resident that we consistently have the best weather in the country. We are so green, so cool and just so darn conscientious that even climate change can’t touch us. “Track Town U.S.A.” “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors.” Nah! I’ve got your slogan right here:

“Cool, Green ... Eugene!” The wet spot on the Left Coast. 

David Perham, Eugene

 

TRAGIC NECESSITY

In response to Tamara Barnes’ Aug. 2 letter addressing me personally: Every day in the U.S., tens of thousands of puppies and kittens are born. Compare this to the nearly 11,000 human births each day, and it’s clear that there can never be enough homes for all these animals. Shelters are stuck with the heartrending job of dealing with animals nobody wants. Those who refuse to spay and neuter their animals, who abandon animals when they grow tired of them and who patronize pet shops instead of adopting stray or shelter animals make euthanasia a tragic necessity.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene

 

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

As most readers are aware, Greenhill Humane Society took over kennel and adoption operations from Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) on July 1. The shelter is in the former LCAS site and has been renamed the 1st Avenue Shelter.

 I began volunteering at LCAS as a dog walker last year, and have continued to volunteer several days a week through the Greenhill transition. LCAS volunteer retention through the transition has been low and Greenhill volunteers have not come to 1st Avenue in the hoped-for numbers.

This letter is an open call — a desperate plea, really — for former LCAS volunteers to return to, and Greenhill volunteers to come to, 1st Avenue. I also encourage anyone who cares about companion animals to volunteer.

The situation is most desperate for the 1st Avenue dogs that are often confined to kennels for 17-plus hour stretches, depending on availability of staff and volunteers. For older/house-trained dogs, this is particularly troubling, as a lack of regular potty breaks can cause physical and psychological problems including urinary tract infections, house-training reversal and anxiety.

Volunteer dog walkers make a real difference in shelter dogs’ lives, all the while reaping their own health benefits of fresh air, exercise and fun!

Readers should also know that 1st Avenue is still a great place to adopt an animal, and that there are many beautiful, friendly and personable dogs and cats just waiting for their forever homes. I hope to see you there! 

Misha Dunlap English, Eugene

 

4J FANTASY PLAN

Mark Gillem [cover story, 7/19] provided an excellent analysis of the 4J facilities fantasy plan. But he left a few key points out. 

It seems that neither the district leadership, the board, nor the consultant can do simple addition. Last year, there were 328 students at Edison and 416 at Camas Ridge, so a merger of these two schools would result in 744 students.

The Edison building really does have major deficiencies and it is unlikely that it can be successfully remodeled to support the more ideal number of students: 400 to 450. But this challenge has been known for a very long time. It was insanely stupid to have closed Parker last year — which added so many students to Camas Ridge. 

The other insanely stupid idea in 4J’s facilities fantasy plan is to move Yugin Gakeun from the North region to Jefferson. This would cause horrific loss in the Kelly/North region. If the district is really truly interested in supporting equity, then the very obvious choice would be to move Charlemagne to Jefferson, with this program continuing on at Churchill. 

Nancy Willard, Eugene

 

SELF-DEFENSE DRONES

Whereas Camilla Mortensen’s cover story on drone warfare [7/5] concerned itself primarily with the U.S. tactics in Afghanistan, it was quickly twisted around [in Letters, 7/12] to attack Israel’s Gaza politics, rather skewed, considering the last bombing tragedy in Bulgaria.

Even the movie Death in Gaza, which deals with Israel’s use of drones as a matter of self-defense, opens on the following text insert: “Israeli Citizens have been subjected to wave after wave of deadly terror attacks by Palestinian militants.”

Anyone looking at a map and realizing the tiny area Israel covers in the face of the vast amounts of land of its mostly hostile neighbors, would concern itself for its survival. In addition, one should not forget that anti-Israel Islamic hatred is often fueled by extremist politicos, not necessarily the general Arabic public.

 Lioba Multer, Ph.D., Yachats

 

DISC GOLF QUANDARY

In 2007 the city of Eugene issued an RFP to operate Laurelwood Golf Course with a preference for an operator willing to include disc golf. The current operators agreed to do so and for several weeks in the dead of winter disc golf was very popular there. Contract in hand and lip service paid, they then removed the city-funded disc golf baskets. Today, those operators haven’t even paid the $5,000 annual rent, and the cash-strapped city of Eugene has paid $60,000 of their water bills. Disc golf fees would have paid that rent many times over. 

There are dozens of disc golf courses in the U.S. that play alongside ball golf courses, bringing needed revenue in a time when ball golf is not as popular. The disc golf baskets are in city storage somewhere.

The city can pay exorbitant water bills for ball golf at Laurelwood, but it has “limited resources” and cannot even issue an RFP to operate the proposed pay-to-play disc golf course at Alton Baker 11 months after final approval. Disc golf courses require no watering, no fertilizers, no herbicides and they only need to be mowed a few times a year. It is the real blue-collar golf and the eco-friendliest of sports.

Last month Charlotte, N.C., hosted more than 1,000 disc golfers competing on its 12 disc golf courses in the World Championships, with estimated revenue of over $1 million to the community. Why are we teeing up to throw more of our money down holes at Laurelwood instead of putting up baskets to throw discs in? Bring the baskets back to Laurelwood and issue the RFP for Alton Baker!

 Matt Benotsch, Eugene

 

A RIGHT TO HOUSING?

Lynn Porter [Letters, 8/2] asserts that “Housing is a human right and Eugene must provide it to the homeless.”

Would Porter be so kind as to point out where in the U.S. Constitution, the Code of Federal Regulations, Oregon Revised Statutes or Eugene City Code these decrees appear?

 Jerry Ritter, Springfield

 

HUGE MISTAKE

Laura Israel’s important new film Windfall is now available on DVD. Israel visits the scenic town of Meredith, New York, and documents how government-subsidized wind power corporations used unscrupulous tactics to turn that peaceful rural area into a nightmare. The windmills are over 400 feet tall, Godzilla-sized and can be seen from 3 miles away. They emit health-damaging low frequency noise, which one resident compared to trying to sleep with a loud vacuum cleaner next to his bed. The blades destroy television reception and create a horrific stroboscopic flickering effect when the sun gets behind them. Wind turbines also create pressure zones that instantly kill birds and bats, turning vast areas of America into kill zones.

Israel used graphics to explain that wind power can never be more than costly energy policy window dressing because of its inherently intermittent nature. Wind power has not reduced greenhouse gas release because of the natural gas power plants required to back them up when the wind stops blowing and because of the large amounts of CO2 released in manufacturing the monster-sized windmills themselves, which are mainly constructed from imported parts.

We spend huge amounts of taxpayer money subsidizing wind power, yet it satisfies less than 3 percent of our national electricity needs. Wind power schemes have made Americans poorer and have not reduced our dependence on fossil fuels. Even famous windmill entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens now admits that his investment in wind energy was a huge mistake.

Christopher Calder, Eugene