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"Guest Viewpoint"

As back-to-school season arrives, parents and their children are excitedly filling their school supply lists and checking out the latest fall fashions at the mall. Parents, though, often have many important decisions to make regarding their children’s education.

An open letter to Springfield Councilor Dave Ralston: I was elected this year as the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Formed in 1929, LULAC is responsible for the formations of the American GI Forum and Head Start schools. It also helped pave the way for the Brown V. Board of Education ruling.

With wildfires raging across Oregon, it has become even more urgent for Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to oppose the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and pipeline proposed for our state by a Canadian energy company. 

The Stouts Creek fire, one of the largest current blazes, is impacting at least 17 miles of the route the Pacific Connector pipeline would take to bring LNG from Canada and the Rockies to Coos Bay for export to Asia.

It’s a bit odd that in America’s thoroughly corporatized culture we have no national day of honor for the Captains of Industry, and yet we do have one for working stiffs: Labor Day! Where did it come from? Who gave this day off to laboring people? History books that bother mentioning Labor Day at all usually credit President Grover Cleveland with its creation: He signed a law in July 1894 that proclaimed a holiday for workers in Washington, D.C., and the federal territories. 

Late in the 19th century, we discovered and began to burn crude oil rather casually, as if an epoch-marking discovery of an incredible energy source was a routine event.

Located in the heart of Central America, Honduras has in recent years experienced some of the highest levels of corruption in Latin America. Hondurans are characteristically warm and peaceful. But evidence of the Honduran Social Security Institute’s embezzlement of more than $300 million that was used in part to fund the campaign of President Juan Orlando Hernández has united the country against corruption and impunity.

Through the Hoffman Report, it has recently come to light that the American Psychological Association (APA) — the governing body of psychology — in collusion with the Department of Defense, used its power to support the use of torture. 

The Southwest plane taxied on the runway as “Good Lovin’” blared through the sound system. The flight attendant playing with us, asked if any of us were here to see the shows and the passengers let out a collective hoot and holler. We were officially welcomed to Chicago. The Grateful Dead was the main attraction in the city of big shoulders, my birthplace, over Independence Day weekend. Last week I returned home with my 27-year-old son (born on the Fourth of July) and my brother and his oldest high school friend, almost 39 years to the day of our first Dead show June 26, 1976 at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater.

Our city has a serious housing problem that the Eugene City Council cannot continue to ignore. When I got on the council in 2009, 40 percent of Eugene’s households were considered “rent-burdened” because they were paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Since then the situation has only worsened; yet during the same period, the council has granted millions in tax breaks for upscale student housing projects that did nothing to address our most pressing housing needs.

Oregon’s 30-year “Ancient Forest War” has seen scores of lawsuits, big and small, yielding hundreds of court opinions and orders. From Judge Dwyer’s iconic 1991 spotted owl bombshell (“The argument that the mightiest economy on Earth cannot afford to preserve old growth forests for a short time, while it reaches an overdue decision on how to manage them, is not convincing today. It would be even less so a year or a century from now.”) to lesser-known injunctions that have protected the rare plants and invertebrates that make up the forest’s web of life, the courts have said unequivocally that environmental laws mean what they say.

In the heat of the day, we found relief standing in shallow water. Seven of us remained after a tour of the farm and the forested edge of the McKenzie River. Parent conversation roamed across trade-offs between herbicide use and the spread of invasive weeds, climate change and personal change, how to be a good father, how to be a good neighbor. Meanwhile the kids swished scoop nets in the ponded side channel, wowing over tadpoles, boatmen, mosquito fish and dragonfly larva. The air continued to warm, and with it the number of adult dragonflies zig-zagging around us increased as well.

Noah Michael DeWitt was a shining example of how to be. His sparkling brown eyes would absorb pain from yours when you were sad. He’d listen to you talk about what makes you happy with rapt attention.

Earthquake day in Nepal minus one — 2 pm Friday, April 24, I’m in a coffee shop in Berkeley. I hit the “send” button on a newsletter to my fellow Nepal 7 RPCV’s (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) for our 50th reunion in August. My husband, Tom, and I are visiting here from Eugene to attend a dinner for retired Berkeley cops (my husband’s career) and to visit our son’s family. An hour later, 46 out of 76 have opened the newsletter. Success!

I strongly urge Eugene’s leaders to ban tobacco smoking in public areas. As a longtime resident of Eugene and outdoor enthusiast, I appreciate our many opportunities for recreation.  As I cycle along the Willamette River bike trail, I also love to see how many other people enjoy our parks and public places. Having safe places for people to exercise or have family picnics while their children run and play are essential to our community’s well-being and liveability. By making downtown and city parks smoke-free, Eugene will once again be in the forefront of communities working together to protect residents from the harms of secondhand smoke. 

Recently there has been some confusion regarding proposals associated with “riverkeepers” and “river guardians” in Eugene. Willamette Riverkeeper (WR) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Willamette River. We accomplish this mission through four key initiatives: clean river, monitoring, river discovery education and habitat restoration. 

On April 26 The Register-Guard ran a story about efforts to re-invent the Lane Metro Partnership as the South Lane Economic Development Corp. The article claims the Lane Metro Partnership had to go away because its director, Jack Roberts, was “not producing meaningful results,” and his board of directors had become “disenchanted” with him because he was not “doing enough to bring new business to the region.” None of that is true. Job performance had nothing to do with why Roberts had to go or why Metro is being replaced.

Memorial Day has its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War when Americans searched for a way to honor and remember the three-quarters of a million people who died in that horrific conflict. The original declaration in 1868 called for “strewing of flowers or otherwise decorating the graves” of the war dead, hence its original name, Decoration Day.

On Saturday, May 23, Lane County residents will participate in the worldwide March Against Monsanto for World Food Day (see details below). Over 600 cities around the world are scheduling events on that day. The UN has named this the “Year of the Soils” and in Eugene we will hold a march to declare our right to protect and restore the soils upon which our food, the climate, and all life ultimately depends.

The plaza at Broadway and Willamette (Kesey Square) has been around since urban renewal in the late 1960s. An old drugstore building was on the site and was condemned because of its unsafe condition. Located at what was then the “100 percent corner” of downtown, the planners of the now long-gone downtown mall decided to put a plaza there. 

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion,” the Dalai Lama says. “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” But what does it mean to practice compassion? I sometimes think it’s only a warm, fuzzy feeling towards others, or a New Age trick to subvert my consciousness. Perhaps it’s a sign of weakness and I’ll be bullied. Maybe I should reserve compassion just for a deserving few.

April 26 through May 2 is National Preservation Week and most people don’t really know about it. We do appreciate the historic places around us. We can appreciate buildings from an earlier age for their quality of construction and materials, their remarkable and memorable shape and form or for what might have occurred behind their doors. Sometimes those buildings sit in the landscape, isolated and unique. Sometimes they’re found together in neighborhoods, or the several neighborhoods that make up a town. Each of these, when held in our memory, tells us the story of where we are and why we’re here.

This year Lane Community College embarked on a Cultural Competency Professional Development initiative designed as educational programs for faculty and staff about the history, culture and current experiences of diverse peoples and communities. In this context, the Lane Peace Center Committee chose to focus our upcoming 8th annual Peace Symposium on indigenous peoples. Our purpose is to look at the history and culture of the United States from an indigenous perspective, to borrow a phrase from one of our keynote speakers, Suzan Harjo, “Seeing Red.”

I hope the community will take the time now, before it is too late, to visit the exposed structural frame of our City Hall. It currently has been reduced to the frame, structure or bones. It is very open, transparent, extravagant and architecturally significant. It is still a strong and valuable base one could build from anew if our city seriously embraced sustainability.

In your Jan. 8 email to the UO community, “A message from Interim President Coltrane on sexual assault lawsuit” [see http://wkly.ws/1xk], you indicated that you welcome feedback from the campus on your progress. I agree with the open letter provided here by OASA [see http://wkly.ws/1xj]. I would like to express my additional concerns.