Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.22.09


John Zerzan was mistaken in assuming (10/8) that I meant that politicians “‘need to get serious’ or we’ll vote them right out of office.” Politicians need to get serious because many of them are already Democrats, the slightly more environmentally conscious of the two choices we’re given in this archaic, dysfunctional “democracy,” yet the environment and civilization are still in decline.

In numerous emails with Kitty Piercy, she assures me that she receives complaints from constituents on both sides of the political spectrum, implying that she’s fair, balanced and doing the best that can reasonably be expected. But the business people and other “conservatives” whom Piercy feels obliged to placate need to understand that achieving sustainability is not something that we must balance against other considerations. There is no economy on a dead planet. The human family and the economy will achieve sustainability whether we like it or not. The longer we wait, the more traumatic the inevitable changes will be.

If environmentally leaning politicians aren’t provoking deafening shrieks of protest, recall referendums and death threats, then they are not doing enough to prevent catastrophe. For the sake of future generations, let’s prove John Zerzan wrong. I expect that Zerzan himself would like to be proven wrong about his dismal yet entirely valid prediction of the future.

Robert Bolman, Eugene


Rob Bolman uttered something very important in his Oct. 1 Viewpoint, “Denial and Delusion.” He expressed that those “running the world” may be “sociopaths who have no qualms with doing a gross disservice to future generations” and says it’s “high time that we begin examining the psychological condition of those in charge.”

I couldn’t agree more! This summer I read a book I recommend to everyone: Columbus and Other Cannibals, The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism, written by Native American author Jack Forbes, addresses the mental illness shared by those who take over others’ lives.

I first became aware of this history book a few years ago when John Zerzan briefly discussed it on his radio show, “Anarchy Radio.” I agree with Zerzan (Oct. 8 letter) that Bolman needs to stay out of the “voting racket” and follow his instincts regarding human civilization. We all need to figure this out and recognize that cannibalism persists to this day and needs to stop being accepted as normal behavior. 

Sherry Franzen, Eugene


In the news story “Taser Review” (10/8), Alan Pittman fails to disclose a major fact about the case: that Van Ornum had a pesticide-spray-looking bottle and was spraying it at motorists.  When police approached him, he appeared to make a threat to them. So what’s a cop to do to protect himself and the community, considering the bottle could have contained poison? A cop has to subdue the individual as quickly and effectively as possible. Van Ornum had created a dangerous situation that forced cops to take the action they did. His further resisting of arrest required him to be Tasered.

But I’m really disappointed in the way Pittman’s news story was so slanted in favor of Van Ornum. Nowhere in the story was it mentioned that Van Ornum was spraying this unknown substance at passing cars, and needed to be stopped quickly and effectively in case it was poison. Instead Pittman refers to Van Ornum as a “jaywalker,” as if that was Van Ornum’s only crime. This biased news story distorts the reality of the dangerous situation created by Van Ornum, and the subsequent, appropriate action taken by the police.

Jim Byrd, Eugene


Regarding your Oct. 8 cover: Like John Lennon, “I am not the only one.” Abdication of responsibility by the Fourth Estate is so commonplace these days, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Yet I am, as must be most of your advertisers, completely blindsided.

You have spent a generation building a reputation of responsible journalism in our community, only to destroy it in one day. “Only one cover,” you might say? A group you have rightly called to task, the Eugene police, have abused hundreds of people under cover of privilege, but you, may your ancestors be merciful, have abused tens of thousands of children, pre-teens and teens by printing on the large cover of you paper that it is OK to tie women down and beat them! And under cover of privileges in the press! Are you that dull? Do you not realize the responsibility you have to our community?

For sure, the activity you depict may be healthy for some adults — adults who are able to make the discernment about such activity. And maybe even depicted in an article in your paper; shaky policy at best. But you didn’t give our daughters and sons that choice, did you? You decided to adulterate their childhood ad lib! Now, every child passing by your free box gets to make another difficult adult choice about sexuality, abuse, fairness, simple right and wrong, way before they should have to. You were supposed to be the adults here.

Everyone on your masthead who signed off on this cover should leave their jobs; they have clearly been on them too long. Take the last paycheck and get some professional counseling.

Daniel M. Hardt, Eugene


Our nation must create its own sustainable industry and not rely on foreign investors to open green factories on our shores. In “Solar Jobs See Cloudy Forecast” (News Briefs, 10/1), I am disappointed to see the creation of short-term jobs for people in Eugene at the Hynix plant. Our country needs high quality, long-term jobs provided by American companies who will invest in the future of our communities. Green industries that produce solar panels, wind turbines and energy-efficient products for our homes and businesses would boost our economy and address environmental issues simultaneously. 

The Senate must vote for strong investments in clean energy and energy efficiency in order to create jobs in Oregon and save local businesses and households millions of dollars in energy costs. A company like Hynix will not provide long-term solutions for our communities and will not benefit the local economy. The U.S. can rebuild our struggling economy and create good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced if we wisely invest in American companies.

Laura Schmidt, Portland


The great fall weather contrasts with some recent news that could be viewed as local wake-up calls. A homeless African-American man is set on fire downtown. A pesticide protestor spraying water is blamed for being Tasered by police. The new owner of the former Westmoreland apartments says he is doubling his investment selling them off as condos. Unfortunately that’s the legacy of the former UO (Nike) administration. They stole and sold the huge former student housing complex off for $18 million to quick-start the most expensive college basketball arena in U.S. history. Too bad so many nontraditional and international students and their families needed that housing to afford school.

Even the EW movie review (10/8) of the new Michael Moore film is dead wrong. Capitalism: A Love Story is actually Moore’s best to date, a five-star must-see, ideally by everyone who cares about this country so desperately in need of direct action and those who speak truth to power. Otherwise silence (apathy) is complicity.

David Zupan,, Eugene


While reading Mary O’Brien’s latest column, “Rapid Response” (10/1), I was reminded of a recent incident in my neighborhood. On a walk with my dogs near the Weyerhaeuser end of Little Fall Creek Road, we encountered a man talking in distressed tones to his cell phone. Logging pants and boots, suspenders, about 25 years old. His truck, likely a Weyerhaeuser Company vehicle, had broken down apparently somewhere on the company’s haul road about a mile away. As he was explaining where, his cell phone died, and I could still hear his frustration and outrage a couple of hundred yards down the road.

While berating his phone for failing him, the caller stood in front of and was surrounded by a number of residences. It clearly never occurred to him to knock on the nearest door and ask to use the phone.

Well before human relations were packaged in portable cell phones, Blackberries, iPods and the like, those of us of a certain age expected to exercise the kindness of strangers face-to-face if we had trouble — and to return the favor. Or, if need be, depend on our survival skills and sense of adventure without props.

Though certainly we might have been turned away, more often we were welcomed into the nearest house and into the lives of its occupants. For instance, when a friend and I were traveling in New Zealand and ran out of gas in a rural area, a nearby neighbor loaned us a gas can and his car to go into town to fill it. For me, at least, such crises reveal that the only strangers are those neighbors we haven’t met.

Promoted as the ultimate in communication, even as little companions, electronic devices festooning the hands and ears of the latest generation virtually guarantee that their users are absent without leaving, strangers in a strange land.

Turn off, tune out, drop in.

Robert Emmons, Fall Creek


Both my parents worked for newspapers all their lives, so it is natural for me to pay close attention to the local newsprint. Although they were not from Eugene, I’m sure they would have appreciated both papers in town for good and different reasons.

Eugene has two locally owned newspapers — two intelligent papers, as small towns go. Every day I read well-written stories by various hardworking local writers with both pride and a stake in this community. There is no large corporate chain here, no Murdoch giving me my viewpoint from afar.

And when I see the ad of a local individual or business that excites me, I’m as smart and quick in spending as my income allows.

The need to constantly reinvent themselves is challenging the existence of newspapers all across America — corporate giants and small locals alike. In Eugene, many hardworking newspaper people have been laid off. I am afraid of what will happen to Eugene if one or both of our papers are forced to close. I think we citizens will be taken unfair advantage of without at least two strong, solvent papers in town. I’ve seen it happen elsewhere. That’s one of the reasons I’m here.

I encourage everyone to spend more time reading, supporting and responding to your two local newspapers. And I strongly encourage all local businesses to consider a little extra advertising in our local newspapers and their websites this holiday season to come.

Scott Landfield, Tsunami Books, Eugene


The raucous, divisive arguments about health care insurance in Congress attest to the fact that it is unlikely that meaningful reforms will be adopted this year.

Everyone knows there must be a change in the present system — it is failing to take care of a significant portion of our population!

The best answer is a single-payer system! I believe by adopting this system money will be saved immediately, both to buy the individual and the government. Every citizen should have coverage for basic care, and medical costs should not drive a family into bankruptcy. This wealthy country should provide this basic need. Moral principles demand it!

Glenn M. Gordon, M.D., Eugene



I can’t believe the incredible naiveté of The Register-Guard’s editorial (10/19). “Commissioners’ aides? No.” I moved to Eugene more than 30 years ago, and I worked as an administrative assistant at a radio station, a campus ministry, an alcohol and drug treatment facility, and a research center. One overarching principle prevailed: Hire the least expensive employees for support services and allow the higher paid employees to focus on tasks requiring greater degrees of expertise.

I ask you, do you want the general manager or sales execs to answer the phone and sort the mail? Do you want the minister to type the newsletter and deliver it to the post office? How would you like to have your therapist greet clients and fill out the insurance forms? Or maybe you want the scientists to edit manuscripts and run the photocopier. What about ordering office supplies or tending the cranky photocopier?

I was truly shocked when I found out that our county commissioners did not have anyone to answer the phones, make appointments with constituents, or tend to filing. I would like to have my commissioner answering constituents’ questions and reading supplemental documents on issues they must make educated decisions about. Administrative assistants would increase their efficiency and effectiveness.

And, yes, administrative assistants also need health insurance and a living wage. My co-workers always considered my efforts to be valuable to them.

Give us all a break and quit hounding the commissioners over trivial things.

Carleen Reilly, Eugene


Our political system is undeniably flawed by the lack of accountability and our society’s complacent attitude towards an ever-growing list of problems. In response to “Denial and Delusion” (Viewpoint, 10/1), it seems the basic premise is that we are not doing enough within our own government due to lack of action by our elected officials. This has been an ongoing problem and very much one of the reasons why it takes a bill so long to get through Congress. We are witnessing it currently with the debates over health care and energy reform. 

What we are missing is not that people are afraid that they will not get elected next cycle; it is that the Republican Party wants President Obama to fail. If he does not get his agenda pushed through Congress, we may begin to lose hope in our new president. This is what they want. 

We as a society need to stand up to our elected officials. Government accountability is the only solution to making our elected officials listen and act on behalf of their constituents. Vote those out that fail to take action. Vote those in that choose to do their job well, in the public interest, and not be another political drone.

Dean K. Kure, Portland



Yes, the story “Not so free for Luers” (10/8) was very touching! What’s the big deal? Jeff Luers did do a crime. He destroyed property, burning the three SUVs, plus polluting the air we all breathe at the same time. That’s a poor way to make a statement. There are constructive things he can do for the environment, like help pick up the garbage off the bottom of the McKenize River. Be constructive, not destructive.

Look’s like he got off pretty easy with the reduced sentences, so what’s two more months or more? Jeff, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Marion Fisk, Albany


The American commander-in-chief, the commander of America’s trillion-dollar war machine, the greatest war machine since Rome, won the Nobel Peace Prize! Ghandi? No, he never won!

 America devotes 38 cents of every federal tax dollar (that you send in) to war! Wonder why we have no health care? This is more money than the rest of the world combined, unchanged by Obama. Seven hundred and twenty military bases in 102 countries spanning and ruling (or trying to rule) the globe! Recently American soldiers died in combat in the Philippines and Somalia, not to forget the twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Peace Prize, Barack?

Obama’s commitment to peace is best illustrated by choosing not to replace “Defense” Secretary Robert Gates, who was appointed by Bush! No problem. Obama has in fact retained nearly all the Bush war plan.

Peace Prez did make a fine acceptance speech of the Peace Prize (has he ever made a bad speech?), only then to return to a war huddle with his generals. This is madness and true! Just how many more troops for Afghanistan? How many dead is enough? What will the Peace Prez decide?

I long pondered the ridiculousness, the nonsense of this award. “Warrior Chief of Warrior Nation wins Peace Prize.”

I could only conclude this award was based in fear — Sweden might be next! Fear! Better to grovel, be ridiculous and humiliated than the next victim of American Peace.

Joe Mogus, Philomath


Recently some self-appointed food police proposed taxes on soda to reduce the “caloric burden” of our nation’s children. Even our president said it’s a good idea. Wow! Obama smokes, doesn’t he? Despite the tobacco tax? Adults smoke. Kids drink soda. So this liberal Democrat wants to tax children? 

I thought: “Those calorie cops are getting pushy. I think they should back off. ‘Caloric burden,’ my arse.” 
But then I glanced back at my arse, and sure enough, it looked a bit squishy and hinted at being burdened with some of those fatty calories that taunt the food police and make them so crabby. 

But that was two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve done some dieting — the calorie cops might say “unburdening” — and I’ll cheerily announce right here that my arse has become un-squished and de-fatted, without recourse to legislative fiat, declamatory speeches and prohibitive restrictions.
I’m gettin’ my skinny on, thank you, and I don’t need your policing of my high fructoses and transfatties. 

I believe in free will, a bit of courage and the occasional chip and Cheeto. And by golly, I’ve utilized ’em all. So here I am, food police person, take a good look: I’m drinking the beer. I’m sipping the Pepsi. I’m nibbling the KitKat. So hand me some of those (slimming) Tater-Tots. Hand me that muffin. And take a good (long) look at yourself. Check that sad waistline. Then turn in your badge and help me light up this stogie.

Tom Erwin, Springfield


For reasons I don’t understand, in spite of all our letters to the editor, op-ed columns, etc., a lot of people do not understand “single payer.”

 Single payer is a way of achieving universal health care. It is a health insurance system under which one agency, the government, pays all medical bills — as opposed to the multi-payer, private insurance system we have in the U.S. It is financed by taxes, which replace premiums. Medical care providers remain private.

 Because single payer eliminates the profits of the insurance companies and greatly reduces administrative expense due to its simplicity, it saves enough to cover all the uninsured for the same amount of money.

 Single payer also breaks the connection between health insurance and employment, resulting in much greater security.

 This is the only practical way to cover everyone. The Democrats’ plan, which keeps the insurance companies in the loop, will be too expensive and will not work. Find out more at

Lynn Porter, Eugene


While watching Ken Burns’ excellent film about our National Parks, America’s Best Idea, it dawned on me how similar the idea of national parks is to the idea of national health care. Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for both ideas. The National Parks were developed not out of pride but shame. Shame for what we had done to allow the free market capitalist system to defile and diminish the beauty of Niagara Falls.

Europeans looked at all the trashy tourist huts lining Niagara Falls as an example of how America treats its treasures. America’s greatest treasure is its citizens, of which 45,000 die each year because they do not have insurance. America is the only developed nation that does not provide affordable heath care to its citizens. In order for America to be proud as a nation we must provide for the least of our people or live in shame.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain


To all who are working for a more just and compassionate world, I thank you for your dedication in the face of relentless opposition. The private sector won’t do this work; our president and Congress can’t do it. We the people must somehow rebuild the social capital of honest communication and consensus, restore our self-respect and respect for others, find common ground and common resources, and the confidence that we can make things work.

 We must constrain corporate power and demand that our representatives represent us. We cannot depend on a leader to solve our problems, but we should have expectations of our president. If we expect Obama to do his part, we must do ours. We must demand that we get our government back, stop the tsunami of money which corrupts our politicians, and insist that media become something more than stenographers for the corporate PR machine. In short, we must make our voices heard in order to prevent our democracy from being destroyed.

We face an entity that is devoid of all values and ethics save one: the relentless drive to accumulate wealth and power for its own sake. Without the government to set boundary conditions and establish an even playing field, there is no common good in capitalism. only tyranny and subjugation.

 Our voices and our votes can triumph — but only if we get off our couches and, as our so-called opposition has said, “Take Back Our Country.  And most importantly, treat others with love and compassion regardless of their point of view.

 Christopher Michaels, Eugene