Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.1.09


Leslie Brockelbank (cover story, 9/10) was our good friend and companion, our mentor and our role model who gave us more than we as a community yet realize. As I look back over the 43 years I have known Leslie, it is difficult to comprehend that David and I will not be hearing from her. Her calls to join her for supper, to attend an event with her, or a request to call a list of people she knew who need to hear about WAND or CALC or Maude Kerns or FOR or AFSC activities were part of our day. She was a woman of many generations whose ideas were always young and fresh and new. We always found a way to be with her.

We had fun together, with no negative talk about others but a positive and loving attitude towards everyone. She was an excellent listener without judgment. She could see through the most difficult conflicts when we counseled with her about our grievances concerning family, friends or the political situations in the world. She was focused and yet fun loving. She delighted in laughter and joy at being together.

Leslie was adamant about justice and equality for all. She stressed communication by dialogue, writing letters, lobbying representatives and working hard on a project to make changes to better the world for generations to come. What a legacy we all have to live up to! Leslie was a gentle warrior who would often say, “Never give up.” 

Kit Frisinger, Eugene


As a person who has been looking for a location in the U.S. to set up business and make a home, I identified Eugene as a prospective locale. Having visited for some time, attended conferences and enjoyed the modest sized city and its infrastructure of mixed use, density, bike paths, higher education and a functional train line, I am dismayed by what I read and see in terms of urban sprawl.

I have lived in communities throughout the U.S. and am looking for a place that integrates nature with modern conveniences and an organic and holistic lifestyle rooted in food, development and way of being. If it is true what is being reported as transpiring in Eugene at the governmental level, then I sincerely hope the community rises up to focus on greening the city, new urbanism and processes that enfranchise all ages and abilities. The car culture is an outmoded way of being, one of privilege, discrimination and selfishness.

Michael Bittner, Ph.D., RYT, Millbrook, NY


Great on Alan Pittman for stepping on Eugene’s carbon foot (cover story, 9/17), and for promoting the energy and climate kickoff events Sept. 26 at North Eugene High School.

When it comes to climate impact, his focus on transportation is spot-on. And he’s right to publicize Portland’s draft climate action plan. My only real problem is his sliding into that old boring “the city is the problem.” As if “the city” is one thing. As if the city is the only player. As if we the people of Eugene don’t have anything to do with it.

Gandhi’s greatest contribution was not getting England out of India, but getting the people of India to realize they were co-creating their own oppression. England wasn’t the problem. Their collaboration with and subservience to England was the problem. Gandhi gave them a way to stop cooperating and take back their power.

Getting involved in the city’s climate and energy plan’s public engagement process is a way to take these issues into our own hands. Sure, the plan that is produced will be important. But it can only be a tiny piece of the answer — and, believe it or not, the organizers realize that. 

Most of the answers to these hot issues will lie in what we the people of Eugene decide to do together. Some of it will be what we do in our own lives and homes. Some of it will be the help we give to people already working here on these issues. Some of it will be new creative initiatives among people who discovered each other in the public engagement forums. Some of it will be pressuring various city officials and offices — and helping other city officials. Some of it will be envisioning and birthing entirely new — and potentially better — ways to be a functioning community, in a world with different energy and a different climate. It is a gigantic problem with gigantic opportunities written all over it.

If you’d like to see and comment on a blog post about all this, see

Tom Atlee, Eugene


In response to Dane Smith (letters, 9/24), I have to say that, no you don’t owe me health care, although you would seem like much less of a jerk if you didn’t blatantly state that you don’t CARE that I (don’t) have health care. However, although you don’t owe me health care, you owe me, and thousands of others like me, a sincere and humble apology if your obvious arrogance permits such. 

You see, as is typical, you have decided that anyone without health care must be lazy, unemployed and/or uneducated. I am 38 years of age. I started working at age 11, and the only serious stretch of unemployment I have had since then is from when my father refused permission, legally necessary at 15, to allow me to work during my freshman year of high school. I have been simultaneously uninsured and employed since 19. This means for half my life I have had no health insurance, in spite of having full-time jobs. I have worked hard all my life and even own property now, but I still cannot afford health coverage. 

You can tell me how sorry you are for assuming the uninsured are lazy, unemployed folk driving Cadillacs purchased with their welfare checks, right here. I’m waiting.

Jamey Davis, Elmira


Thanks to everyone at the city of Eugene responsible for funding and implementing the Amazon Bike Path upgrades this summer. It was tough going without our premier south Eugene bike path all summer, but the wait was worth it.

Project manager Doug Singer and his team did a fantastic job of replacing the ancient, cracked bike path with a beautiful new one. In the process, the crossing at 31st Avenue was realigned and marked to greatly improve safety. This is a real contribution to making Eugene a great place to live.

Let’s preserve this investment by keeping heavy vehicles off the bike path. Most of the damage to the old path was caused by dump trucks and backhoes used by city contractors. The path is not built to road standards and lacks any reinforcing materials such as rebar. A single heavy vehicle could cause cracks the entire length of the path in just a few minutes.

Eben Fodor, Eugene


Mark Robinowitz’s letter (“Regime Rotation,” 9/17), expresses a convenient black-and-white view of the world. Good cop/ bad cop. Obama=McCain/Bush. Bush=Gore. Piercy=Torrey. Yeah, right! How many climate initiatives did Bush launch (or wars would have Gore launched)? How many sustainable initiatives did Torrey start? And exactly how would Bush be approaching health care?

Capitalism=good (or bad, depending on your viewpoint), Socialism=bad (or good, maybe, if we like Sweden, Norway and the bulk of Europe). The world is in living, human color, and when we reduce it to the simple binary good/bad or bad/bad, we miss the rich texture that is there. 

Sure they (whoever “they” are) may be two flavors of ice cream, but I sure like some better than others. We can dislike much of what we see happening, but I fail to see a constructive world built from a massively cynical viewpoint.

Neal Spangler, Eugene


Sean McKenzie described the chemistry of composting wood for the purpose of harvesting methane fuel (“Digesters Are Better,” 9/10). Interesting stuff, however in his enthusiasm to practice chemistry, McKenzie overlooked the ecological realities.

Northwest forests need decomposing organic material. Compost is built on the forest floor through a series of symbiotic relationships. Fungi bind the soil, decreasing erosion and increasing the absorptive capacity. Mycillia connect the roots of the forest allowing the fungi to provide water to trees when they need it the most. Ferns, alder and maple protect the soil and make nutrients available. Every species has a role to play in sustaining the forest.

The Seneca deforestation plan currently under way involves clearcutting natural forests and altering the environment so that forests will not grow again. Seneca poisons the land, killing plants, fungi and most of the animals. The nutrient cycle is disrupted, the hydrological cycle is disrupted, soil washes away and fish die. The land is becoming a desert! Seneca’s monoculture plantations reduce the web of life down to a single species, Douglas fir, little trees grown for the machines that eat them.

Seneca’s enhanced plan is to grow “waste” on this land while they are turning it to desert. The “waste” could then be converted to electricity. The plan is more about collecting subsidies and legitimizing ruthless destructive company than it is about harnessing energy.

Fabian Lawrence, Drain


I would like to say that “healthy” civil disobedience is a great thing. As much as I often disagree with protesters in this area, I fully support their right to do so. This is mainly because I did so in front of my high school in 1999. The problem is that a lot of people on the far fringe of the matter want what I call “violent disobedience” to be justified. The problem with that is there is no justification. This kind of protesting only creates more problems than it solves.

You might be asking what I consider “violent.” This term covers knocking down AM radio towers, burning down ranger stations, setting fire to U-Haul trucks or violent protests like the Nike store debacle of October 1999. I witnessed protesters tossing 20-pound pumpkins off the top floor of the Fifth Street Market to where parents had been sitting with their children just moments before.

This kind of protesting achieves nothing as to the outside it looks like thugs being criminal, much like the WTO riots. Now I know that not everyone there was a violent person; I am saddened by this misconception. But I am talking about the violent people who took over the spotlight and proceeded to smash up storefronts and make a mess out of what started to be a beautiful example of the right kind of protesting.

That kind of reprehensible behavior cannot be tolerated in Seattle, Eugene or anywhere else.

James Ready, Springfield


I am responding back to the man who commented on my letter re: “Town Hall Yellers” (8/27). The population I was talking about were “the town hall haters, gun-toting radical, right wingers,” and not “conservative, Republican African-Americans,” who are probably not having a problem with having a black president.

Former President Jimmy Carter recently said that a far right fringe are people, the majority of which are white people, who can’t believe that a black man can be president.

The “American Patriots” rally (organized by Glenn Beck, who called our president a racist against white people), marched in our capitol with signs saying Obama is not an American citizen, and Obama is Hitler. Some of them even shouted, “White power” and “McCarthy was right.” There wasn’t one person of color in the group as far as I could see.

I think people should put aside their political beliefs and stand up for what is right. Is allowing a man in Arizona to come to a public gathering with an assault rifle what we want in America?

 What are they so afraid of?

The man also implied that I knew nothing about racism, living in Eugene, which is dead wrong, I was raised near Milwaukee WI, one of the hot beds of racial unrest, and worked in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The most oppression I have felt in my life is sexism. Can you image what people would be saying if Hillary Clinton had won the election?

Diane DeVillers, Eugene


I enjoyed the “Carbon Footprint: Will Eugene Green Its Sooty Foot?” story (9/17). Reading that story makes it clear that given population growth and economic growth trends, a radical new source of alternative energy will be needed to combat climate change. Otherwise, Eugene’s carbon footprint will nearly double in a decade. I know just what that source of energy is. In fact, I wrote a book about it.

Electric cars are on the way, and an emission-free energy source will be needed to charge them. My new book, The Nuclear Economy, discusses an advanced type of nuclear plant 160 times as fuel-efficient (no joke) as today’s reactors. Using this technology, a piece of uranium the size of a golf ball could provide the average American family of four with a lifetime of electric energy. The reactor is also immune to meltdowns and proliferation. And we have the technology today. It’s called the integral fast reactor. 

Zachary Moitoza, Eugene


I greatly appreciated the Sept. 17 letters by Mark Robinowitz and George Beres who provided an excellent summary of what is still wrong with America the monster. If we cannot really reform U.S. policy then the whole world will continue to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous military and economic crimes. We desperately need the withdrawal of all military forces that occupy nations other than their own. Killing and wounding is a crime, folks, believe it or not, and this is especially true of occupiers.

Bob Saxton, Eugene


Obama recently said that his plan for subsidizing the health insurance corporations would cost less than our current wars and Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. He doesn’t seem to recognize the obvious implication of his words, which is that we should end the wars and tax cuts.

All empires have failed in the end. What we’re doing in Afghanistan is murder, and our evil deeds will come back to haunt us. We are poisoning our souls and the soul of our country.

Lynn Porter, Eugene




Last Saturday (9/26) I joined thousands of Americans across the country in celebrating the 16th annual National Public Lands Day. In gratitude for those of us who are here now enjoying the clean water, air, magnificent places to play, and wondrous wildlife that this land inhabits. So that the children in the future also will be able to enjoy these precious resources that so many of us take for granted.

One day a year simply isn’t enough to demonstrate America’s commitment to the stewardship of these special lands. That’s why I’ve asked Peter DeFazio to support the America’s Wildlife Heritage Act. I encourage my

neighbors in in Eugene, Oregon to do the same. This bill will help to ensure that every day our nation is doing its best to sustainably manage these amazing places for generations to come.

Kristina Hall, Eugene


A recent turn of the health care debate is to characterize the opponents of the President’s plan as racists. President Obama sized this up correctly when he said this is more about the role of government.

As a member of the Archimedes Movement (, it’s been difficult to involve others in the debate over how to fix our broken health care system. Finally, it seems, many have become interested.

Many of those recently involved are suspicious of government’s role. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute ( found most Americans fail their test on civic literacy. With so many ignorant of how to govern democratically it’s no wonder such suspicions exist.

But this should not dominate the solution to our health care problem. We can tell when profits make it better and when they make it worse. We can make our health care system better and we will!

Robert G. Gourley, Corvallis


I would like to honor those who believe the entire ecological, global warming, overpopulation, our poisoning of the planet, etc,. is a bunch of hooey. Many of us shake our heads, unable to comprehend this profound lack of awareness, but truly these folks understand the bigger picture. They realize the demise of humanity would be most beneficial to the Earth. They are willing to sacrifice all of humanity, which includes you and me, for the good of the planet, thereby proving their selfless commitment and respect for Mother Nature. 

The Earth is resilient and with humanity gone, the planet will renew itself. Granted, it may take a few hundred million years, a mere heartbeat for the universe. Let’s just hope those chimps and cockroaches evolve into something other than humans! 

So my hat is off to those of you willing to make the ultimate sacrifice by hastening the end of humanity.

I’ve got a new bumper sticker for us: “Save the Earth, Buy More Useless Crap!”

You and I need a healthy planet; the planet does not need us.

Tim Neun, Eugene


The solution to marauding cats (“Cat Vandals” letter, 9/3) that has worked in my vegetable patches is to use bamboo stakes. These are available in 48-inch long, green-dyed, 1/4-inch diameter, and they are very cheap. They are not overly conspicuous compared to other forms of plant protection; once the plants grow up a bit, the stakes are almost invisible. I put them in a grid, 3-4 inches apart, and plant seeds next to the base of the inner stakes. While a cat could get past them if really determined, it’s my experience that they don’t bother. Cats are, after all, lazy.

Even if everyone who owned a cat kept it indoors, the problem would not go away because Lane County is awash in feral cats. I’ve heard estimates of 2 million of them. I keep mine indoors, but there is a regular resident of my yard that has no owner that I know of. Gardeners are going to have to deal with the cats no matter what pet owners do.

Karen Carlson, Eugene


If Obama was stimulated to spend money to help the poor and the working class how about requiring all laid-off workers to be apprenticed? Example: Joe, a journeyman plumber, goes to a cabinet shop. The shop is in recession so there is space and time to make cabinets that can’t be sold. The owner is subsidized to be a teacher. After learning how to make and unmake the cabinets, leaving the parts for the next class, Joe can move on to the next trade until plumbing jobs become available again. 

This puts the money back in the hands of the consumers to buy new toys, which is what made America great to begin with. 

Vince Loving, Eugene


In response to Dane Smith’s “Total Socialism” letter (8/27), I have to express my deep concern over his understanding of history and political science. If you look at the political climate of the U.S. since Reagan came to power, you can see how the corporate state has taken over in the name of free market economics. Yet, under Reagan and every president since, the federal government has been subsidizing the oil, nuclear, weapons, tobacco, banking, insurance, timber and mining industries. Services for the less able, unemployed, mentally ill, elderly, young, handicapped and other “social” causes have been gutted.

Meanwhile our highways and bridges have not been maintained, our public safety sector is continually underfunded, our water and air are spoiled, and soldiers’ families live on food stamps. Only in a fascist state are all decisions made in the best interest of business before people.

Remember your history, Dane Smith: We fought a war against Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. This was a war against fascism. If you [lived in their countries and] didn’t agree with their regimes, you’d be shot. In the U.S. we still have a semblance of freedom of speech and thought. But under a fascist state that would disappear. 

 In the U.S. we have given our right of citizenry away, through the courts and laws, to the corporations who finance lobbyists to insure this all continues. In those countries that embrace “socialism,” decisions are made on behalf of the citizenry first, business interests second. We choose to throw our tax dollars into bombs to export abroad and kill those we disagree with instead of investing in our own our future. 

They may pay higher taxes in “socialist” states like Sweden, but they actually receive something in return — free college, free health care and some retirement security.

 Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene


Theologians have long debated whether there is life after death, but for animals raised for food there is no life before death.

Recently published undercover investigations showed male baby chicks (unfit for egg production) suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death in large macerators, pigs clobbered by metal pipes and killed by hanging, and assorted animals skinned and dismembered at the slaughterhouse while still conscious. 

I reacted to these exposes by going vegan some time ago. But even die-hard meat eaters should feel conscience-bound to offer these animals a decent life, before they take it away for their dining pleasure. Yet, repeated attempts at welfare reforms have brought no tangible improvements.

Last week, I read of an international observance on Oct. 2 (Gandhi’s birthday) to expose and memorialize the abuse and slaughter of 55 billion animals raised for food throughout the world. Their website at <a href=”></a> offers a number of ways that people who care about animal suffering can participate and affirms the need to go vegan.

I believe that a gradual transition to a vegan diet is the only effective long-term solution for maintaining a guilt-free conscience, as well as radiant health, and the quality of our environment. A detailed review of meat-like and dairy-like transition foods and lots of recipes are offered at <a href=””></a> and <a href=””></a>.

Elijah Hennison, Eugene


America’s Arctic Ocean is home to abundant life — polar bears, walruses, ice seals, whales, the Inupiat people and much more. It is a treasure that has been part of our national heritage for generations. 

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pledged to make wise decisions based on sound scientific principles. Along with hundreds of thousands of Americans, I recently urged Salazar to reconsider the Bush administration’s foolhardy rush to drill in our only Arctic ecosystems. 

Salazar must continue his commitment to wise decisions based on sound science and come up with a rigorous plan for America’s Arctic that will ensure its survival.

Michele Jean, Florence