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"Guest Viewpoint"

Recently the Eugene City Council was scheduled to act on a detailed rezoning ordinance for a large area of south Eugene. However, it raised the ire of local citizens because the issues it addressed had not been adequately presented to the people who would be most affected by its changes.

Arts funding is important. Without it, even our longest-running institutions close. The Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center is the most recent in a string of examples.  

People wring their hands when yet another art venue closes in Eugene, and the standard frustrations are conveyed: “There’s not enough funding!"; “I can’t survive as an artist in Eugene!”; “Nobody buys art!”; “Someone should step up and donate!” 

Paul Robeson once observed: “The man who accepts Western values absolutely, finds his creative faculties becoming so warped and stunted that he is almost completely dependent on external satisfactions, and the moment he becomes frustrated in his search for these, he begins to develop neurotic symptoms, to feel that life is not worth living and, in chronic cases, to take his own life.”

It seems like only yesterday, and not 20 years ago. And I don’t know why or how, but Lewis Puller’s suicide “got” to me. But, what I wrote 20-plus years ago still stands: Another Vietnam vet has committed suicide. I do not know the particular demons which finally drove Lewis Puller to kill himself. I do know I have a few of my own that propelled me to the edge in 1975. 

The City Council deftly headed off a major confrontation with residents of the South Willamette area by voting Oct. 21 to not rezone single-family homes in the area. It was the council’s first opportunity to provide guidance to city planners on the highly controversial South Willamette Special Area Zone. 

We at Occupy Medical see suffering, lots of suffering. We see people, fellow citizens, who have been hungry for so long that they aren’t used to consuming more than a cup full of food at a time. The food that they do get is often from garbage cans. They soften food with milk or water to make it easier to chew as they are losing their teeth from poor nutrition.

Each month when you pay your electricity bill a generous portion of your payment is spent to restore salmon in the Northwest. In fact, when you write that check, you’re contributing to the largest fish and wildlife conservation effort in our nation’s history.

It’s Oct. 29. Have you voted yet? There’s only one item on the ballot, and it’s really important. Measure 20-235 will restore critical funding to Eugene’s public libraries, and we urge you to vote “yes.”

Dick Vitale owes me a working eyeball.

Vitale, if you are not familiar, is the loudest basketball announcer in the world, according to a poll of ESPN viewers, audio specialists and the recently deceased. When he gets going, according to SB Nation, the guy can hit 180 decibels, louder than a gunshot, and equal to the explosion of Krakatoa.

What might Bernie Sanders have to say about Eugene’s $2.7 million a year property tax increase for the public library? Well, it’s definitely “socialism,” which is defined as a redistribution of wealth. But, it’s the opposite of Bernie’s brand of socialism because it enables the redistribution of wealth up to the top of the economic ladder, instead of in the direction of average working people.

The academic school year has begun and as a graduate student in clinical psychology, I am reminded of the many roles I have played over the years: researcher of sexual violence victimization and other traumas, teaching assistant, instructor, mentor, and therapist. Amidst these responsibilities, social justice advocate is the most unexpected role I have had. 

Before Oct. 1, I was in the habit of introducing my hometown with a bit of apologetic nonchalance. “I’m from Roseburg. It’s an hour and a half south of Eugene. Pretty small. You’ve probably passed through on I-5.”

I now envision a future where I introduce my hometown, and a bell of recognition dings in people’s minds — Roseburg, a place where one mass shooting among far too many shootings has devastated a community.

You don’t have to be a fundamentalist, evangelical, Catholic Christian or an ancient Jew to wonder whether we’re in a “culture of death,” “the sixth extinction” or some kind of universal cataclysm.

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.