Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.8.09


I read with interest your article on Eugene’s carbon footprint in the Sept. 17 EW. It is interesting to watch a city which is on one hand claiming to be striving to be sustainable while on the other hand developing its infrastructure around the automobile. Since it is obvious that the auto is here to stay for a long time, there are other options.

According to a recent survey, Americans consume an average of 3.78 liters of soft drinks per week. With the population of Eugene being around 140,000, this equals 27,554,800 liters of soft drinks consumed in the city annually. The average liter of soft drink contains 6 grams of C02; therefore; Eugeneans are responsible for the release of 169,425 kilograms (or 279 tons) of C02 from their soft drinks annually. To reduce the carbon footprint of Eugene, I propose a ban on soft drink sales and consumption. This ban would also reduce childhood obesity as well as improve the general health of our society.

Allen Hall, Eugene


Rob Bolman’s “Denial and Delusion” Viewpoint column (10/1) says that “we need a complete bottom-to-top restructuring of human civilization, and we need it right now.” But he concludes that politicians “need to get serious” or we’ll vote them right out of office.

Which is it, Rob Bolman? To even begin to take on civilization would, in my opinion, call into question the existence of politicians and the mass society of which they are a by-product. For starters, not to mention all of the basic dynamics of civilization, including domestication and industrialization that create the deepening spiral he rightly refers to.

You’re on to something. Why mock your insight by falling back into the voting racket, a key mode of modern domestication?

John Zerzan, Eugene


I have been getting increasingly concerned about the proposals for the revival of downtown. I can understand the need for a more active and aesthetically pleasing downtown. What I can’t understand is how people could be supporting something so atrocious as the KWG proposal. The developers have claimed that they want to “upgrade the character” of downtown to make it “upscale.” I nearly vomited when I read such things. KWG is clearly stating that our town’s character is not up to par with their standards. I’m sorry, but I cannot accept that as a good enough excuse to give a bunch of free money on tax breaks and subsidies for someone to put a bunch of national stores and parking structures downtown, replacing local shops (that worked hard to be where they are) due to high rent. 

What kind of people are the people in power representing? Clearly giving subsidies to a big developer to eradicate our unique culture and replace it with mindless consumerism. Is your idea of a better downtown to have a mall in it? Does your idea of “community” consist of Gap, movie theaters and parking structures that never fill?

Why should we worry about Springfield having a bigger Cinco de Mayo party than Eugene? Why are we always concerned with what other people think of us? I want a downtown that I can walk/bike to, where I can buy local products that don’t support sweatshop labor, where I can talk to someone who cares about their community and does not need to have a nice set of clothes to feel content and to feel part of something.

David A. Gomez, Eugene


Commissioner Bill Fleenor campaigned on a platform of transparent government. He is far superior to his predecessor, but he continues to fail to mobilize the citizens he represents to help correct the many failures of Lane County. He ignores the intelligence and capability of those he represents. He is personally battling the alligators when the goal is to drain the swamp. Empowering citizens would overcome his limitations. Perhaps the other commissioners and the people they represent will step up to fill this void.

 Fleenor pushed for a fiscal analyst to look at Lane County to identify fraud, correct mismanagement and suggest operational cost savings. There is now a position, but as we all know from our experience, it will likely never be filled or be filled by a political hack.

 There are many very capable and interested citizens who could do this function for free if the raw accounting records were only made freely available. The accounting raw data is in computerized form and very easy to reformat, removing privacy fields to be placed on the Lane County website. There are even computer-competent citizens who have offered for the past year to do this for free. What is Lane County afraid of — aren’t these “public records”?

Is Lane County of the people, by the people, and for the people? Commissioner Fleenor stated, “I have 100 percent allegiance to Lane County as it is currently structured.” What we need is someone with allegiance to those they represent. We need the accounting raw data available on the Internet for all to see how well Lane County is doing fiscal management!

Keith Stanton, Florence


Willamette Valley farmers are facing a huge glut of grass seed. The market price is less than half of what farmers need to make a profit. Many of these farmers lease their land. If grass seed growers don’t find a profitable crop it could mean the end to family farms in the Willamette Valley.

A grass seed farm in Tangent is experimenting with growing wheat, oats and beans. Last year Stalford Farms grew a few acres of wheat and beans. This year they’ve expanded, with several hundred acres planted in these staple food crops — some organic, the rest transitional. They’ve already harvested the wheat and oats, and are about to harvest the beans.

This spring the farm, as part of the Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project, held several meetings to encourage other farms to switch to growing food. Although a number of farmers attended, none took the plunge. Demonstrating a strong local market could convince more farmers to try growing food. 

The farm prefers to sell directly to consumers. Folks in Corvallis might find it feasible to purchase at the farm. It’s not quite so simple for people in Eugene to support this project, but Stalford Farms will deliver orders of 1,000 pounds or more to Eugene.

Last October I put together a group order of more than 2,000 pounds. It was easy: I announced on the Internet my willingness to coordinate a group order, and less than a week later more than 40 people had placed orders.

I am willing to do this again this year, without any markup. Hopefully others will also. I’d like to see Eugene order 10,000 pounds this year.

Additional info at or email me at

John Flanery, Eugene


Sean McKenzie described the chemistry of composting wood for the purpose of harvesting methane fuel (letters, 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. Mycelia connect the roots of the forest, allowing the fungi to provide water to the 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 underway currently 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 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 a ruthless, destructive company that is about harnessing energy.

Fabian Lawrence, Drain


I would like to respond to Tom Mohler’s letter (9/17), in which he expressed dislike of Cuthbert Amphitheatre.

My husband and I have attended hundreds of concerts (at least) in various places. We lived for years in the SF Bay Area, where there are many musical offerings in myriad facilities. With these experiences to compare with, we have been extremely pleased with the concert-going experience here in Eugene, and we especially love Cuthbert Amphitheatre.

Shows vary. At some, the majority of the audience tends to want to sit; at others, people prefer to stand and dance. At RatDog, the audience stood for the majority of the show. At Bonnie Raitt, most people sat for the majority of the show, but by the end, most everyone was standing and dancing. At CSN, people tended to sit. These varied experiences didn’t come as any surprise to us. Audiences are different, depending on what the show is. Promoters know this and do what they can to provide appropriate environments.

At Bonnie Raitt, I had the urge to boogie but didn’t want to block people sitting behind me, so I went over to the side where people were standing and dancing, and I danced until I felt like sitting back down. The security guards working in that area were respectful to the fans. When they needed to “move someone,” they did it nicely and told people where it was OK to stand.

We were also impressed when the benches were removed and replaced with more lawn this year. It’s rare to have an amphitheatre where the lawn seating is so close to the stage. I believe that most promoters would tend to remove lawn in order to install more reserved seating, in an attempt to make more money. The new, lower lawn seating at Cuthbert is fantastic.

Cuthbert Amphitheatre is a great sized, gorgeous, well-kept and well-run venue. The parking is well directed, the security and other employees are friendly and professional, and it has an absolutely delicious new sound system. We’re very grateful that it’s here and that Eugene has offered us such a variety of excellent music in the past few years.

Jan Simmons, Eugene



So you’re upset that the government is running away with unchecked power? Where were you the last eight years when the Bush White House and the Republicans controlling Congress were running roughshod over the Constitution and indulging themselves in all manner of corruption? 

Your accusations of the Democrats embracing socialism is simplistic at best, especially in light of the vast corporate socialism in the form of no-bid contracts and subsidized oil, logging, mining, chemical, military and tobacco industries. You may have had opportunities that others did not, but why hold that against those less lucky?

If you really don’t want to contribute, leave the country for a desert island. Or don’t use the roads, the hospitals, electricity off the grid, or water from your tap; and if your house catches on fire or floods, don’t call the fire department. If someone attacks you I assume you’re already well armed, so you’ll have no need for the police, either. If your parents fall ill, please don’t have them use Medicare; and God forbid you should be maimed in an accident, it would be entirely hypocritical of you to draw from your Social Security (even though you did pay into it).

To compare Obama to Hitler is a huge insult to everyone who fought the Nazis or was killed by them. In the end, history will show that Reaganism, as practiced by Bush and Cheney, was the real “evil” by bankrupting the U.S. and leaving it a shadow of the great country it once was. 

You blowhards are so transparent it’d be comical if it weren’t so potentially dangerous to the free expression of democracy.

Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene


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 I, 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


Dane Smith’s letter (9/24) exemplifies how health care reform’s opponents try to elevate selfishness to a noble stance. Smith asks, “Do I care that you have health care?” and answers, “No.” Smith equates insuring the uninsured with “promoting the underachievers of this country,” who allegedly didn’t apply themselves “seriously” enough to deserve health insurance, and who supposedly believe that people like Smith exist to “clean up” their “irresponsibility.” 

News flash: Millions of Americans have full-time jobs without health insurance. The philosophy behind attempts to insure them is simply this: if someone works full-time, they’re making a basic economic contribution to society, and should have their basic economic needs met. (Uninsured workers bankrupted by injuries know that health insurance is a basic economic need). My wife’s an uninsured full-time worker with a college degree, and I’d love to know where Smith gets off categorizing her as an “underachiever” who’s undeserving of health insurance. 

If everyone earned doctorates, there wouldn’t be enough appropriate jobs for them all, and some would end up sweeping floors, however hard they’d “applied themselves.” Many “menial” jobs are just as necessary as “prestigious” jobs; restaurant cooks and retail clerks (whose services I bet Smith has used) are “contributing members of society” too, and are no less deserving of health insurance than engineers and lawyers.

 Full-time workers who want health insurance aren’t demanding charity; they’re demanding basic fairness. Their opponents may be an “awakening giant,” but it’s clear this giant is morally bankrupt.

Callan Sullivan, Corvallis


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. Secretary 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.

Yvonne Pappagallo, Deadwood


Iran’s plans are in the news. There has been a lot of tough talk lately by leaders of nuclear weapons states (U.S., U.K., France, India, China, Russia and Israel), regarding Iran’s possible development of a nuclear weapon. But these warnings are impotent from the get-go, because any child can easily sniff out rank hypocrisy.         

The current U.S. stockpile is estimated at 5,200 atomic warheads (source:  Bulletin of Atomic Scientists), a number quite a bit larger than the rest of the world’s combined total arsenal. The Obama administration will spend more than $6 billion, just this year, on nuclear weapons research and development. 

And do we hope and pray such weapons never again get used? As former CIA analyst Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, they are used all the time. Under the euphemism “deterrence,” nukes have been used over and over to threaten and coerce other nation states for more than six decades. Has nuclear “diplomacy” made for a safer world? 

The five original nuclear states have permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, and have made nukes the decisive currency of global power. How can we seriously expect that rising nations won’t want in on the game? 

If we truly want others to behave peacefully, we had better explore leading by example. This goes for local as well as global cops.

Vip Short, Eugene