Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.06.08


Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “experts” were quick to proclaim that communism was dead. We may now be approaching the time to proclaim that capitalism is on the way out too. While communism demonstrated that government shouldn’t run business, the recent economic collapse is demonstrating that business shouldn’t run government.

Let us remember, though, that we have more choices than those two extreme ends of the spectrum listed above. Comparing U.S.-style capitalism with Soviet-style communism is like comparing diarrhea with constipation. Under one condition, growth and consumer excess come spewing out in a torrent while in the other condition, little or nothing comes out. Most of us don’t care to suffer from either of those two opposite conditions. We’d like something in the middle.

Let us emerge from our current economic crisis intent on establishing a new economic model with the inherent efficiencies of a market driven system but with various other characteristics largely unheard of in the now-collapsing economic model: We must have full cost accounting to factor in environmental and social costs. We must develop a steady state economic model no longer dependent on growth. There must be a societal mandate that basic human needs shall be met – on a global level. Obscene wealth must be discouraged. Greed and corruption must not be rewarded. And last but not least, genuine, meaningful sustainability must be sought.

Robert Bolman, Eugene


The item in Slant (10/30) regarding the unfortunate closing of Zenon Café makes an excellent point in that we, as members of our community, need to buy local whenever we can. An element of that which was neglected in the item, our local performing arts, needs the community’s help as well. In addition to buying paintings, sculptures
 and the like from our local artists, I urge you to consider the amazing range of Eugene and Lane County’s live theater, music, comedians, dancers and other performing artists. There’s a lot more to be found in town than the latest touring company of (insert name of classic musical here) or a concert by (insert name of middle-of-the-road musician here). Why not treat yourself to (insert name of low-cost, locally grown entertainment here) for a change?

Russell Dyball, PotPie Theater


So, The Register-Guard got all huffy because Mayor Piercy thought the about-face the paper conducted in choosing her for mayor and then (“we changed our mind”) flip-flopping and choosing Torrey instead was kind of weird. So offended were the old Guard that they decided to deliver a double whammy editorial opinion to grind in their point, right before elections. 

Well face it, what could have happened to make them flip-flop like that? I think it is very weird, and so do a lot of people. 

The R-G confounds us even further with the hilarious assertion that there are no big business interests in little Eugene. Who are they kidding? That is just as funny as Torrey pretending he’s not a Republican at heart. We have concrete capitalists, garbage kings, communication queens and billboard magnates, just to name a few. Isn’t the Register-Guard, monopoly that it is, a big business interest? I think so. 

Janice Sunseri, Eugene


What’s with all this talk about how incompetent George W. Bush has been?
I truly don’t understand how so many consider his presidency a failure. As a matter of fact, his administration may historically be recognized as one of the most successful ever. The achievements have been amazing. 

Upon his appointment by the Supreme Court, this administration got right to work on the key issues that mattered most to his constituents, like bridging the gap between church and state and widening the gap between the rich and the poor. He ushered in an era of deregulation leading to record profits for his friends in the military-industrial, oil and financial sectors. He managed to empower the executive branch with the ability to ignore the Constitution. He promoted fear and division, which eliminated all serious governmental checks and balances and fair examination by the media. 

By all accounts the last eight years have undoubtedly played out exactly as scripted by this neo-con profit machine. His approval ratings may be at record lows, but make no mistake, his successes are legendary and will be remembered as such by those he served.

Marc Belmont, Eugene


My son plays bass. He plays electric bass at home and wherever else he can, and he plays stand-up bass in two orchestras: at his high school and with one of the inter-school orchestras coordinated by Arts Umbrella. 

He’s done this since grade school, and I love it. What I love is that there’s teamwork in it, and everybody wins. Sports are not like that. 

His only experience with sports was as a tiny soccer player when no one was keeping score and most of the kids had no idea where the ball was. Once the kids got older and the parents got competitive, he lost interest and so did I. For good reason. 

What would the world look like if all the kids played in orchestras and none of the kids played sports? I like to think that kids will always ride bikes and climb trees, of course, but what does it add to that to have a winner and a loser? When I sit there in the audience beaming with pride at my son and marveling at what can be accomplished with people working together as a team, I wonder sometimes: What would a world without sports look like?

Would our bipartisan political system seem completely bizarre? Would the gender politics so pervasive in movies fade quietly away? Would the military find no one willing to join?

If you have a gut feeling that there’s something perverse about sports, I urge you to look into Arts Umbrella at

They always need bass players.

Steve Downey, Eugene


I appreciate your list of far and nearby getaways for the winter months that appeared in the most recent issue (10/23). However you neglected one important location that should excite many Oregonians.

Eight years ago on a frosty, clear January morning I took a joyride out to Florence and then began down the coast toward Coos Bay, Bandon and Port Orford. By the time I got to Bandon, the midday temperature was well into the 60s under bright sunshine and the daffodils were in bloom. The gorgeous warm weather persisted as I made my way almost all the way to Gold Beach.

During the periods when cold valley fogs plague Eugene, there may be San Diego-esque weather only a hour’s drive west and an hour or two’s drive south of us. I would encourage more Oregonians to visit the south coast during a winter dry spell — and see all the lush palms and other tropical plants that can be grown there.

Eric Gross, Eugene

Editor’s Note: We agree and just spent a weekend in Bandon. Check out the Wild Rose restaurant in Bandon, and drive to Collette’s in North Bend for lefty coffee & books.


Well, once again my regard and respect for EW has been diminished. As much as I want to support and pick up my local weekly to find out what’s happening and to feel a further connection to the town I choose to call home, your standards for what’s newsworthy, responsible reporting and advertising astounds me.

While you often provide good movie reviews directing us towards some pretty mind-expansive and worthwhile viewing and keep us informed of great music and theater in our area, you just can’t seem to stay away from offensive advertising — the inclusion of pornographic personals (last week’s 8 throbbing inches in “man seeks woman” for example) — and now the (10/2) issue highlighting coeds performing pole dances, in “Taking It off for Tuition.” Are you not aware that young impressionable girls in our community will read the article and think that they too may discover an “acceptable” way to pay for “getting ahead”? 

One dancer explains that women’s bodies have always been their greatest asset and that they are just there to give these men some “attention.” I thought women were beginning to get beyond thinking our bodies to be our greatest asset! The notion that this is how is how we give men some “attention” is belittling to both sexes. 

So what’s it going to be, EW? Responsible progressive rag or simply another free rag promoting everything and anything that asks for a “little attention”?

Diana Leach , Eugene


In Suzi Steffen’s (10/9) review of Cottage Theater’s Streetcar Named Desire and LCC’s Winter’s Tale, we got Steffen’s assessment of the directors’ and actors’ skills in bringing classic works to life, as well as a collection of grumpy comments on the inconveniences of driving to and patiently attending to live theater. While I appreciated Steffen’s thought-provoking comments on the productions, I would suggest that she apply her high standards for acting to her own writing and eliminate the self-indulging complaints about her own discomforts and biases against community theater.

Karen Creighton, Eugene


I respect police who honor their code of conduct, who do this difficult work. For other police who may act counter to that code and the public trust, we’re all capable of changing. And I hope police know we see much of the problems are systemic, that they are often placed in situations demanding they act counter to what is right, such as that Portland officer who refused an order to shoot rubber bullets at a crowd he felt did not deserve this. He was fired; his union backed him; he was reinstated. I’d like to shake that man’s hand and the union that stood by him. Perhaps there will be more such incidents of police refusing wrongful orders.

I understand why police lobbied to have Tasers added to the EPD arsenal: to avoid lethal force. I doubt any officer really wants to shoot and kill. The Taser proposal has some merit — Taser or bullets? But it’s a distinction lost on the 300 people who have died after being Tasered. Death by multiple Tasering is surely a horrible way to die; given the choice, they may have preferred a bullet. There must be a better tool to protect police and others without causing death. It appears there have been many incidents where it didn’t rise to the level of lethal force, yet Tasers were still used. I understand you’ll be reviewing this again. I hope we can find a safer alternative.

Thank you for the time you take from loved ones to do this essential work.

Carol Berg-Caldwell, Eugene


Currently under way are private meetings about massive spending of public funds. The UO/Nike arena now has reached a price of a quarter billion dollars (including the parking garage).

What is a “public-private partnership”? In short, it means private, closed-door meetings are held to decide how to spend massive amounts of public money. Our new all-powerful city manager and our shady Ward 3 City Councilor Alan Zelenka are participating in closed-door meetings related to enabling the UO/Nike arena building permit. The new city manager came in with claims and promises of open government, accountability and transparency. The schedule of arena-related meetings our city manager and Zelenka are participating in is not being posted in the list of city meetings published in the local paper and is also not available upon request. Also, no minutes are being recorded at many of the meetings. 

The city of Eugene and secretive foundations and “partners” are aiming to combine resources and streamline development of the infamous public private vision/boondoggle known as the “Walnut Node.” Eminent domain by UO is the heavy handed tool that may allow this uncontrolled and secretive plan to be built out and extend the UO footprint as far as the UO and Nike decide to sprawl to form the Walnut Node sport entertainment/residential themed district. 

LTD will then attempt to use all the development excess as a excuse to justify their multiway “walkable Franklin Boulevard” plan. That transit scheme will cost about $100 million on top of the other projects. The term multiway applies to all the ways this vision will screw existing Fairmount neighbors and businesses along Franklin.  

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene


As a recently transplanted retiree escaping the L.A. area, I found with great joy your publication. Your local news reporting and arts coverage is excellent (even your personals section), and it looks like a big city paper. Some friends confide that it is the only paper they read.

I first came to Eugene at the end of your balloting for the best picks. I had no idea what was good or bad, so I couldn’t vote. I read that you were hosting a show downtown, and I marked my calendar for the event. I got dressed up and invited a lady friend to attend the festivities and planned for a fun evening. 

As soon as we got out of the taxi, things started going downhill. There was a long line of people who were apparently invited nominees but upon arriving found out they had to stand in line to purchase a ticket for their guest. Although it was a benefit and the ticket price was low, this seemed tacky and ill communicated, and it made people mad. We finally entered the theater right before the scheduled 8 pm opening only to find out the show was already under way and the theater dark, which made finding seats difficult.

The show was clumsy, to say the least, and poorly scripted. It seemed that many presenters didn’t receive their script or any direction until being shoved on stage. There was a lot of grumbling in the seats, and the entire evening was uncomfortable.

The Best of Eugene show was a mistake, and hopefully you didn’t pay someone to put it on. Please stick to the newspaper business, which it seems is what you do best. In the future, if you do bother putting on a show, get some professional help with it.

Simon Williams, Eugene


I am writing in response to Ellen and Rachel’s dire appeal to “disenfranchised” voters in “World in Crisis” (letters, 10/16). The only arguments they present hinge on how critical the election is (when is it not?) and whether the candidates are perceived to be the same. 

The real issues are: Is voting a means of effecting change? Is the political system itself legitimate? Does the system truly represent the will and interests of “the people”? 

Elections lend an appearance of legitimacy, a symbolic gesture that allows the masses to “participate” in the political system, but doesn’t enable them to determine public policy. Policy reflects the interests and values of the minority who take part in the policymaking process not those of “the people.” 

Most voters are ignorant about the actual policy stands of candidates; most vote based on traditional party ties  and/or on the basis of the candidate’s image (which is a media creation!). Elections are rife with various forms of voter intimidation and disenfranchisement.

Our lives are affected primarily by the decisions of private institutions and organizations. The entire domain of private decision making by corporate and financial elites is ignored in elections.

When you find yourself voting for “change,” perhaps Josef Stalin’s words will haunt you; “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

Jonathan Long, Eugene