Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.24.08


Thanks for the article (cover story, 1/10) favoring light rail over bus rapid transit. I have known all along that light rail makes more sense, but it was nice to see it spelled out so succinctly. There were however, a few things that the article didn’t cover:

Human-caused climate change is real, and peak oil is upon us now. We must be doing everything we can to get off petroleum use. One beauty of a trolley car system is that it can operate on electricity — totally green, wind and solar generated electricity. Bus systems typically run on diesel fuel. (Some cities do have electric buses, but the approach is problematic because it is necessary to have two overhead contacts instead of one.)

Another point in favor of light rail is that steel wheels roll over steel rails in a low-friction, energy-efficient manner that the inflated rubber tires of a bus can never match. So, not only can a trolley use cleaner energy, but it can use less of it too.

In a modification of an old saying, “There’s never enough money to do it right but always enough money to do it twice,” bureaucrats may insist that the money just isn’t there to build the (initially) more expensive light rail system so we’ll have to settle for bus rapid transit, yet they’ve earmarked close to $800,000,000 for new roads which climate change demands we should not be building at all.

Twenty years from now it will very likely be difficult to find dependable supplies of petroleum to run buses (petroleum that we shouldn’t be burning anyway). Twenty years from now the economy will likely be in such a state it will be much more difficult to build a light rail system. So let’s find some leadership and do it now.

Robert Bolman, Eugene



I attended the most recent meeting of the Metropolitan Policy Commission in Springfield on Thursday (1/10). I am usually the only person there as a citizen. Everyone else attends as a member of the board, a governmental staff person, a Chamber of Commerce representative or a member of an organization, such as Friend of Eugene, 1000 Friends of Oregon or Goal One Coalition.

The meeting usually contains political drama, much like a serial soap opera. As the meeting moved along, I sat closer to the edge of my chair listening to the increasingly unbelievable interactions.

The context of the discussion was around the STIP for FY 2010-2015 to increase the funding total by $90-$100 million in priorities. ODOT was asking the MPC to give feedback on a list of projects — at this meeting — today and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) at their next meeting. I didn’t have the list before me, but they talked about it being a couple of pages long. There were requests from various members of the MPC to have a list of priorities and objective criteria for making judgments of projects so the MPC could conduct due diligence in decision making. The expressed concern was that ODOT hadn’t allowed sufficient time for the MPC to deliberate and hand down a quality decision.

The questions I asked myself were: Why is ODOT setting such a short time frame? What are they trying to cram down the MPC’s throat?

Bobby Green and Anne Bellew both stated that the MPC needs to move along because this area is in competition with other areas for many other projects. A statement was also made by a staffer that the monies haven’t even been allocated by the Legislature. Alan Zelenka made the cogent statement that this is an “artificial deadline for fictitious monies.”

Then the conversation turned to trying to set an interim meeting to give the members time to study the list of projects and set educated priorities. At this point, Sid Leiken stated that he has a life and refused to have any extra meetings. He said he preferred a golf game to attending an extra meeting.

Well, I just can’t get over Leiken’s statement. When an elected official places his personal fun over his responsibility for the common good of the people he has been elected to serve, perhaps a new representative is needed.

Carleen Reilly , Eugene



Why is it that EW takes every bogus issue that has a chance of stimulating negativity and runs into a wall with it? Your few paragraphs about the Whiteaker community on Dec. 20 (News Briefs, “Whiteaker Elections”) were an insult.

You talk about majorities and minorities and “collective voice” as if you knew what you were talking about, and as if the issues you wish to discuss were specific to Whiteaker, yet they aren’t. Don’t you have better things to do that pretend that this is news?

You quote Marcella Monroe as anauthority who opines about “dis-empowerment,” as if the Whiteaker community consisted only or primarily of the disenfranchised who are not being represented. This Orwellian obfuscation of the facts is what is actually disempowering the Whiteaker community, but that doesn’t have news appeal and so it’s never printed.

The record shows that during much of the last two years or more there wasn’t even a quorum of 10 people at many monthly WCC meetings, and so everyone had to go home. That’s been the actual level of participation and “community interest” in the WCC by its own members. The board has simply made the organization more rational by creating actual structure where none existed before.

So the WCC board decided to have tri-monthly meetings instead of monthly meetings, just like most other neighborhood organizations in Eugene.

Don’t you have more respect for your readers or your community than to take the innuendos of a “vocal minority” as gospel and then preach jive to the congregation? You wrote that story with zero input from the people you were defaming. Shame on you.

Dennis Ramsey, Eugene



Did you know that the kid who was killed by the Churchill Skate Park over the summer was not the only one? Towards the end of the summer, another child was killed crossing the road without a crosswalk from the Churchill Skate Park to the Churchill Market. Most of the kids are too lazy to walk 100 feet to the crosswalk down the street. If we were to put a crosswalk there, the number of accidents would decrease. It’s not just killing people, but it’s also setting a bad example for younger children.

Everyday I see younger kids crossing here without a crosswalk. The child who was hit in the beginning of September was only 10. Next time the child could be younger. Let’s try and prevent this from happening again.

Parents and the city try to get us to use the one close by, but they don’t help when we actually do. A few of my friends and I were crossing in the crosswalk the other day and waited for about five minutes to cross before someone stopped. They ask us to use it, but when we do they don’t encourage us at all.

As you can see we really need a crosswalk in this very dangerous area.

Sam Tichenor, Grade 7 – Kennedy Middle School



My experience with Eugene’s Public Works tree program has been better than Davy Ray’s (1/10). I’ve lived in Whiteaker for more than 30 years and Eugene more than 40. A year or two after I moved here, the city planted street trees on numerous blocks in the neighborhood. For the next year or two they diligently watered and tended to the new trees and replaced ones that didn’t thrive. Over the decades these trees have filled many gaps in Whiteaker’s canopy and add to what has “always” been here.

I am impressed by the conscientious efforts of city crews to maintain the even older, larger trees across my street. I witnessed the benefits of their work as these trees weathered the high winds we recently experienced.

We had a dying older tree in the planting strip in front of our house. I contacted the city over several years urging they remove it. Each time the city acknowledged the tree was obviously unhealthy but, given the circumstances of Whiteaker, they didn’t want to risk a confrontation over its removal. As falling limbs progressed from an annoyance to a true hazard the city removed the tree and replaced it with a nice dogwood.

I’d be a lot happier if Eugene demon-strated the same understanding and care for its economy as it does for its trees.

Ron Saylor, Eugene



I am appalled at B.D. May’s letter in last week’s (1/10) EW, which publicly condemned several of my neighbors’ houses. I am disappointed that May seems to place his property values over his community values.

Last I checked, being a good neighbor means working cooperatively with your fellow neighbors towards a common goal of neighborhood improvement. Being a good neighbor means walking out of your house and respectfully communicating your concerns to your neighbors in person — not in EW. Cowardly and mean-spirited public attacks on individual community members do not further the goal of neighborhood improvement or good neighbor relations.

May’s letter is not an example of community building or improvement. It is an example of community destruction and it represents an untoward invasion of our community members’ privacy.

Let’s honor the name of our neighborhood together and keep our neighborhood relations constructive, respectful and friendly.

Erin Gilday, Friendly Neighborhood



Eugene’s urban blight indeed. We’ve been homeowners in one neighborhood for more than 40 years and are stunned by the lack of interest from the city in the chipping away of livability here.

The rental across the street from us (illegally divided into apartments years ago) with its succession of tenants has housed an unending trail of individuals who show up for a few days or weeks. The accompanying pick-ups, cars, vans, etc., line the street. Abandoned vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and other unidentifiable debris litter the front yard. A complaint to the city yielded an insipid and incompetent response.

Even worse was the city’s failure to notify us that an adjacent owner had subdivided his small residential property, creating the possibility of clear cutting two wooded lots to build two houses, one not 10 feet from our house.

B.D. May’s letter (1/0) is right on. What is happening here? Why are we in long established modest neighborhoods not receiving any attention? Candidates for City Council must speak to this issue and we’re watching.

Mary Sherriffs, Eugene



With all the talk about global warming and its significant impacts to our lives and to the natural world, I am appalled at the lack of public discussion about forests’ role in mitigating this global problem. Politicians and groups seeking to find a solution to human-caused climate change need to connect the dots: Healthy forest ecosystems store carbon, but cutting down forests releases carbon.

One of the best things we can do to combat global warming is protect and restore our forests. Luckily, many local groups ARE making this connection, and they’re putting on a conference so you can make it, too. Prominent scientists and local activists are speaking on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 10 am to 6 pm at the UO (Lawrence 177). See

Ellen Singer, Eugene



As a person of Anglo-Hispanic descent, I consider Mr. “¡Ask A Mexican!” to be an outright embarrassment. His smirking and self-righteous comments, written in less-than-literate Spanglish, represent a kind of ethnic chauvinism that should have died out decades ago. His “advice” is far from a genuine and meaningful attempt at helping to educate others.

His all-too-frequent use of the word gabacho (which actually means “sell-out”) in reference to non-Mexicans is totally tasteless and demeaning. Let’s hope that the next time Arellano chooses to wield this word, he’s standing in front of a full-length mirror.

And since EW refuses to discontinue his column, my advice to readers is this: Simply refuse to read this guy’s hateful, misguided rhetoric.

Rob Simonson, Eugene



Considering all the controversy about Gustavo Arellano’s “¡Ask a Mexican!” column, I was surprised to find Arellano’s photograph on the cover of the January/February 2008 issue of the anti-racist magazine Colorlines when it arrived in the mail. The interview on pp. 20-21 is worth reading — you should be able to find it in the UO library (or see

Yes, Colorlines likes Arellano.

Regular readers of the EW letters section should realize by now that Mexicans/Chicanos/Latinos/Hispanic Americans don’t necessarily agree on everything. A Latina friend of mine thinks that Arellano is funny.

I was struck by how Arellano’s column got a reception in Eugene similar to what greeted Aaron McGruder’s “Boondocks” cartoon strip.

Myself, I now believe that despite having lived in California for 20 years, I am ignorant about Mexicans. I hope to learn something by reading the column.

Milton Takei, Eugene




The Nobel-winning climate scientists make it clear that we’ll need significant change to survive into the future. Indications surround us and we will suffer drastically if we don’t act decisively.

We have an opportunity to move toward change by pledging support to the presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich doesn’t accept large corporate monies and is therefore overbid by the $100 million dollar campaigns of Clintons, Obamas, Romneys, etc. But this is precisely why Kucinich can offer the real solutions the nation needs. We all can take part in true grassroots fundraising by contributing to Kucinich.

Real change has always come from the ground up, from citizens demanding it. These times demand that the foundations shift, that we address the roots and not the symptoms of the challenges we face. Solutions will not come from the same mindsets that created the problems; they will only arrive through honest assessment guided by moral integrity. Kucinich gives us that honesty, being the only candidate who will bring climate change, ending the Iraq War, overhauling immoral trade agreements, and providing not-for-profit health care to the forefront of policy. Kucinich is a man of integrity who will return the government to us.

This month, join with thousands to support Dennis Kucinich. You can cast this vote with your wallet and follow it with your conscience in the primary. The only way to waste your vote is by casting it for someone you don’t believe in.

Jeramy Vallianos, Eugene



The “How to be Happy” cartoon has finally almost made a meaningful point, though it looks like it missed the mark. The point could be that revenge is nonsense. We tend to assume that when someone harms us, that’s their purpose. It’s much more likely they want something for themselves, we happen to be in the way and they lack compassion for others. In such cases they lack something in their mental makeup, as with the meteors in the cartoon. It makes sense to discourage or prevent them from causing harm again, but why simple revenge on relatively mindless things? It rather reflects on one’s own mental makeup as well.

James Lovelock’s book The Revenge of Gaia makes a similar error. We like to anthropomorphize, attributing human characteristics to nature, though nature is not as foolish as we imply. The idea of getting revenge in return implies that we only think in terms of revenge and counter-revenge, rather than dealing with reality.

Dan Robinson, Eugene



Watching the mounting hysteria surrounding global warming and peak oil to someone who understands how to make bio-gas is a lot like watching grown-ups drowning in the shallow end. Bio-gas from organic waste is not only the only energy source on Earth that produces no greenhouse gases; it also converts organic waste into superior fertilizer than any commercially available fertilizer. Bio-gas requires no refining and you can make enough gas to heat and cook with in your own backyard for less than $100. Unlike solar panels that began popping up on rooftops in the 1970s, biogas was used by the ancient Assyrians to heat their baths in 3,000 BC.

Today there are tens of millions of home bio-gas plants operating in China and India and several countries in Europe running transit buses off bio-gas, yet the world’s worst polluter, The U.S. does not have a single residential digester and only 200 agricultural digesters.

No politicians, including Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, know about bio-gas, and government agencies such as the EPA or Department of Energy know even less, providing a token amount of research funding compared to liquid bio-fuels and solar. Two U.S. universities teach courses about bio-gas and less than a handful of professors know how to make it, which is particularly frightening considering a bio-gas fire is easier to make than a fire with wood. Instead, we flail our arms helplessly and shout doomsday, when the simplest solution of all is right in front of our faces. Just stand up.

Warren Weisman, Eugene



I feel there is momentum to impeach Cheney.

Impeachment might bring an end to the Iraq war. Impeachment might make electeds more accountable. Impeachment would ensure that Bush/Cheney don’t start a war with Iran and use martial law to maintain power.

I called Defazio and told staff Peter was bound by oath to protect the Constitution (all the other Oregon congressional reps, too) that he should support Kucinich’s HR 799.

The House Judiciary Committee needs a call. Tell them to take up HR 799. Both can be reached toll-free at (800) 828-0498.

There is ample justification: falsifying information to obtain a war powers act, illegal holding and torture of prisoners, illegal electronic surveillance.

Please call and write. Lives depend on brave Americans.

Kevin Jones, Eugene



In the 1840’s the U.S. invaded Mexico to force the ceding of the southern parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico to this country. Plus forcing the permanent renouncement of Mexico’s re-taking of Texas. Oh, yes we did pay them a few millions of conscience dollars.

Aside from the trends discussed in your article of Dec. 6, on the grief of the Mexican people, is the demographic trend of Mexico taking back vast tracks of the American Southwest by a sheer tide of human flesh. An army of unarmed invaders seeking the American Dream to replace the stifling socio-economic suppression driven in Mexico by uncontrolled human reproduction.

That according to the Economics Institute of the Latin Americas, is far above the land’s human carrying capacity.

The cultural institution of “family” is central to the Mexican culture, that when in 2002, the human aid experts of the World Bank included run-away population control measures in the to-be-approved multi-billion dollar economic and social aid package of the World Bank, the Mexican government withdrew their request for $29 billion of economic and social aid. Ensuring the escalation of starvation and diseases among the Mexican peasant classes for another generation.

According to the U.N. Center for Human Population Studies, it is projected that by 2045, Mexicans will constitute the voting majority in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California and will amount to more than a quarter of the U.S. general population.

This is a counter-invasion? Whether humanitarian or military centered.

Don Baarstad, Corvallis



Our less than brilliant politicians, DeFazio, Smith and Wyden, have voted for a biofuels bill that will be a bigger human disaster than the Iraq war, with a higher body count due to starvation. Jean Ziegler, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the right to food, denounced biofuels as “a crime against humanity.” Roland Clift, a senior science advisor to the British government, called biofuels a “scam.”

If you wonder why the price of chicken, eggs, beef, milk, bread and other foods have gotten so expensive in the last two years, the answer is largely biofuels. The production of even more biofuels will skyrocket food prices, cause water shortages, deforestation, desertification and political instability and speed global warming. I have posted a web page that explains the biofuels disaster at

If we do not end biofuel mandates now, food prices will climb even higher.

Christopher Calder, Eugene



Currently in Africa, there is a great pride of lions fighting against what they consider to be corruption in Kenya. In Pakistan, people are calling for a rebellion against so-called President Musharraf, puppet of the west and obviously corrupt leader. Just months ago, the peaceful Buddhists of Burma were slaughtered fighting for freedom, because they sought to lead the people against the oppression, violence and tyranny of the Junta – their government – this has been deemed the Saffron Revolution. In today’s world there is plenty of rebellion and plenty of war. For a moment, these movements capture the attention of our media; however, they soon find themselves replaced with content that America’s big media machine finds to be more important – which I like to refer to as profitable nonsense.

Currently in Iraq, the American government would have us believe that there is a war being fought – although one must question a war where there is not two armies – but one; the opposition being citizens of an invaded country fighting to protect ‘their’ way of life from foreign invaders. One by one, we watch as these rebels are squashed and forgotten; and yet, we stand idly by and watch as the corrupted people of power defy the will of citizens and maintain their political positions of power. And in our despair we ask ourselves – at least some of us do – can the common people really stand up to these monsters? Can the children of David slay today’s Goliath?

A few short years ago, we watched as TR-Ukrainians organized and fought in the Orange Revolution. The people defeated corrupt leadership from controlling their country. The corruptors not only rigged elections and intimidated voters, but they attempted murder by poisoning the opposition leader whom was rightfully placed in office after the scandal was brought to light through the efforts of the common people. Have we forgotten that it is the American way to fight back against corrupt governments? Have so many Americans forgotten that our country was founded on a revolution? I for one thank God for these people, the brave warriors and intellectual leaders, willing to fight and write for freedom. And they do so, not as financial supported drones against a make-believe and profitable enemy, but rather as a united front for truth in the face of governmental corruption. And then I have to wonder what it is that makes American’s so willing to sit-down and watch as our freedom(s), our government, our reputation, our economy, our way of life and our very souls are tainted by the acts of our government leaders. It has been said that, “people should not fear their government; government should fear their people.”

In conclusion, let me share another quote, “Terrorism is just another thing to do with bombs when people do not have an air force to drop them with.” How long must we wait until the Red, White and Blue Revolution becomes a reality? When will we stop standing idly by? Perhaps the Talking Heads had it right when they wrote Burning Down the House. America, it’s time to clean up Capitol Hill. It’s time for the American people, not corrupt leaders, to rule this country once again – for the people, by the people. Shine on American spirit; ignite the fire we need to cleanse our nation of big oil’s taint, corporate control, and political corruption.

Frank Leopald, Eugene



Change what? Obama doesn’t say. He leaves it to everyone to fill in the blank to what ever you think needs to be changed. That’s brilliant, but it is also not that honest. He is not running on telling us exactly what he would do, if he became president. Instead, he is using our discontentedness to become “The One,” as a starry-eyed Opra proclaimed. The One for what? They never really say, but we all swoon on excited faith. Should we care? Yes, we should. We are trying to hire a duo who will lead the huge job of restoring our Democracy. Who will do that best? It is hard to tell, but look at the way these three Dems. have worked all their lives. They each have different areas of expertise.

Here is a new combo to consider: How about Edwards as president and Hilary as VP? Those two workhorses know what to do to turn this country toward Democracy again. Does BO even really like doing the tedious Democratic process, if he cast his important votes in the Senate as “present,” instead of “yes,” or “no” more than once on controversial issues so he would never have to have those votes held against him in an election? It is sly moves like that, that make some say he started running for president during his first year in Congress. HRC and JE are both real fighters.

Hilary is probably the strongest internally. She was the first to bravely warn us about the neo-cons’ hidden agenda, remember? “It isn’t conspiracy any more, it’s policy,” she said years ago, about the whole neoconservative shocking agenda. “You won’t even recognize our country, if these guys get their way,” she said. She was right. Edwards knows what to do, too.

Deb Huntley, Eugene



I visited four animal shelters including the Lane County Animal Regulation Authority (LCARA) before adopting my springer spaniel “Sarajo” from the Safehaven Humane Society in Albany.

Every dog in every shelter tried to show me how much love and companionship she could provide if I would only give her a chance. There were many large black lab mixes and various colors of pitbull mixes who I doubted would ever find a home –no one stood at their kennel doors very long, including me. Eventually I chose one dog — based on a brief assessment of her temperament because she has to get along with my goats and chickens.

I think the criticism of LCARA is misdirected. People who care about the plight of homeless animals should address the unregulated breeding of dogs (and cats) rather than focusing on the agencies that must deal with the consequences. Most newspapers including Eugene’s Register-Guard have classified sections with columns of puppies for sale. Currently, anyone with access to a fertile male and a fertile female dog can start a home-based puppy mill. Perhaps it’s time to advocate for mandatory spay/neuter with the exception of well-regulated and licensed breeders.

Mary Jane Hildreth, Sweet Home

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