Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.23.11


Here is a dream I had the other night:

While walking along 5th Avenue I had an intuitive notion that prompted me to walk over to the Occupy Camp at Washington/Jefferson Park. There seemed to be lots of people there and the vibe seemed surprisingly positive, almost festive. 

From a small tent I was standing near, out steps Phil Knight. He motions people to gather around and then begins to speak loudly:

“Hi, my name is Phil Knight, I am the founder of the Nike Corporation and I have something I wish to tell you. I have recently had a vision in which the late Steve Jobs’ spirit visited me. He has convinced me to do something that I know in my heart I should’ve done years ago. I am announcing to you here today that I have decided to close one of our Nike manufacturing plants in Indonesia and open up one right here in Eugene, possibly in the closed Hyundai plant. It will employ more than 5,000 people. I know this will cost me about a $1 billion, but I can afford it and I know that my accountants and lawyers are going to try to stop me; they won’t. Steve also promised me that if I could pull this off, he would visit some of the other 1 percenters and challenge them to do the same!”

As I awoke, I sat on the edge of my bed and pondered the idea of dreams coming true.

Rick DeAngelo, Eugene


I need to blow off a little steam over the last two traffic citations I got. The first one was for a burned-out brake light bulb that cost me $142. Two bulbs were working which is all you need to be legal, which I found out later after paying the fine. The most recent was $262 for failure to stay in a single lane. My front tire was on the center line briefly.

Most of the Eugene police officers are ticket happy and would give a ticket to their own mother. I think we should all start protesting. This is completely outrageous.

Phil Swaggart, Eugene


The Occupiers have a problem identifying with a specific course of political action that they support. But, that lack of focus only further explains why so many Americans feel that the American Dream has either passed them by or is now only a hoax meant to divert our attention while the robber barons continue to steal the American Dream from us. 

It used to take many years, sometimes decades, for the capitalist system to create the conditions that lead to wide-spread social unrest. From the crisis of the Second Bank of the United States in 1819, to the New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929, to Black Wednesday in 1992, and finally to the Great Recession of 2008, the financial meltdowns have come with increased regularity. 

The capitalist system relies on two major conditions: the ever expanding market for goods and services produced, and a population capable of purchasing those goods and services. What has happened is that the reduction of the ability of the middle class to buy the output of the capitalist system has caused the market to become drastically reduced. 

If the Occupiers are not especially articulate it is because they are still in the grips of an economic culture that they expect will produce results for the 99 percent as well as the 1 percent of the population. The fact is that the system as it now enforced is in the process of strangling the very market it needs to continue to exist. The solution to this is not more police action to break up the Occupier camps or even more Occupier camps; it is a retooling of the American Dream to make it consistent with the legitimate desires of all the population, the 99 percent and the 1 percent, to live free and to have a life of dignity and self-respect.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene 


In reference to the cover story (11/17) on the muay thai martial arts champion, for the life of me I cannot understand why a person gifted with superior athletic ability, well-toned musculature, quick reflexes, and a certain indefinable competitive advantage would choose a sport of hitting and kicking another person over such fun activities as pole vaulting, basketball, or cricket. And yet, I boxed some in college, partly to honor my late father, who had been an undefeated amateur boxer in the late 1920s and taught us boys more the art of self-defense than boxing as a sport. In middle age he said that if he had it to do over, he’d take up wrestling, so much he enjoyed the combat, but knew that every time he took a blow to the head a microscopic lesion was formed on the brain, over time the lesions are cumulative, and even the greatest — Dempsey, Armstrong, Louis — took hits to the head.

I recognized my coach’s name as one my father had mentioned. When I asked the coach whether he remembered him, he exclaimed, “Sid Wood is a boxing legend at UCLA! In one evening he won the Pacific Conference welterweight championship in his own division, then fought and won the light-heavyweight championship, and after that the heavyweight championship, three in one night!”

I’ll not elaborate on the coach’s incredibility that I could be Sid’s son, who eventually concluded that he didn’t really like getting hit, even less hitting other people in the face, enjoyed more getting into track and field events. Then it was a matter of personal preference, but today, at age 80, it’s more an objective wonderment at those (including good old Dad) who like to hit and kick others.

 Jim Wood, Eugene


“The Left have all of their guns pointed at each other,” Che Guevara was once quoted as saying. A great example of this would be your Nov. 10 viewpoint by Ariel Howland.

Ms. Howland’s statements that Dan Savage is bigoted, racist or transphobic have no merit, especially the latter point. I would argue that not only is Dan Savage vocally pro-transsexual, but that no current media figure has done more to increase tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of the alphabet soup of terminologies that constitute people’s sexual orientations. By attacking him as a bigot or transphobe, she simply shows us that she is too cowardly to direct her anger at those who really deserve it! Why cannibalize your own cause, if equality truly is your cause.

As Fox News shows us, anybody can have their words edited, spliced, and used against them. Fuck the word Nazis!

Matt Watkins, Eugene


No doubt your political leanings on the issue are pro-choice (11/10 article, “Oregon Targeted By Abortion Foes”). I would like to suggest in pursuit of courageous reporting, that you consider using the chosen moniker of your opponents, not your chosen name. To insert “anti-choice” instead of “pro-life” amounts to name calling. Similarly, I think it disrespectful and harmful for the pro-life folks to insert “pro-death” in their publications. 

The issue is complex, emotional and divisive enough without resorting to straw-man slurs in our publications. No doubt the use of “pro-life” instead of “anti-choice” would take some courage in your reporting, considering your constituency of readers. But taking that courageous posture could help lift the discourse toward substance and away from stereotypes. 

Charles Coury, Springfield


A woman wrote a letter (11/13) claiming her cat was caught in a trap inside the Eugene city limits. I suggest she rethink that assertion.

First of all, why would the trapper release the animal? He or she would be more likely to simply cover an illegal act. She describes the injuries as “a leg broken, fractured, splintered and punctured.” A trap might possibly fracture (break) the leg, but “splintered” and “punctured” are the keys here. 

I bet the cat was bitten. Dogs, coyotes, wolves, bear and cougar bite and crush (splinter) bones, and their canine teeth puncture. 

Late this past winter I made a walk about with my 50-pound Aussie along a stream well east of Eugene. I wasn’t paying attention to the dog when I heard him yelp. Being a little hard of hearing coupled with the noise of the stream, I could not locate him and he didn’t come when I called. I found him patiently waiting for me caught in a massive trap, the same type of live-hold foot trap that was used to catch wolves for reintroduction to Yellowstone. By now he had been captured about 45 minutes, there was a break in the skin on one side of his leg just above the foot, but after I rubbed his leg a little he was ready to continued the hike.

Traps with teeth are prohibited by law and have not been manufactured since the 1920s. It is highly likely that the cat in question was not caught in a trap but rather was wounded by another animal.

David C. Walp III, Springfield


A previous letter printed by EW (11/10) did a great job of making the case for bicyclists to wear bright clothes and use lights. I’d like to add that bicyclists should be wearing helmets. I bike (and drive) all over Eugene and I am amazed at the number of bicyclist missing a helmet. From my informal census, I think it’s a minority who actually do wear helmets.

Just last week, my wife was a good Samaritan who stopped to help a woman bicyclist who had been clipped by a motorist. My wife did not even know it was a woman because the bicyclist was incoherent and her scalp was flapped open from a huge laceration. The driver was near hysterics. The bicyclist had no helmet.

I know that wearing a helmet might not look cool. It can be a pain to carry it around. And they are not free, although I’m sure there are cheap ones to be found. But they can save your life — and your brain and your good looks if that matters more to you.

Years ago a friend of mine commented on my driving by saying he didn’t want to do something so lame as to die in a car accident. I would wonder who wants to do anything so lame as to die in a bike accident. Die surfing at Mavericks. Die free climbing El Capitan. Die solo sailing around the globe. Die saving someone else’s life. Don’t die on a Eugene city street because you were not wearing a helmet.

Walter Hurst, Eugene


I think it’s very sweet of the city to rename Beltline after some dude at least some us have never heard of, and I’m sure his family appreciates the gesture. However, perhaps it would have been a much better use of the money that went towards at least one sign to fix the drainage on the eastbound lane before the I-5 on ramp? When it rains heavily, a deep puddle forms which, if you’re driving a normal-sized car, results in some interesting hydroplaning effects. While it makes an otherwise dull ride to work more interesting, it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens. Anyone want to estimate the cost of raising one of those concrete barriers so the water can drain away, leaving us to drive safely again?

Leigh Barrett, Eugene


Congressman Peter DeFazio should be commended for casting a vote in October that protects our environment and our transportation infrastructure.

DeFazio voted in favor of HR 2273, the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act,” which would create enforceable national coal ash disposal standards while protecting coal ash recycling.

Recycling coal ash (also known as fly ash) in concrete roads and bridges makes those structures last longer. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, our highways will cost more than $100 billion more over the next 20 years if fly ash is not available as a concrete ingredient. When combined with cement in concrete, fly ash helps improve durability, strength, constructability and economy. Using fly ash in concrete also keeps it out of landfills and saves millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Thank you, DeFazio, for supporting solutions oriented legislation that shows we can improve our environment and our economy at the same time.

 KC Klosterman, Eugene Sand & Gravel


When I was a freshman at UCLA, I watched from my eighth floor dormitory window overlooking John Wooden’s Pauley Pavilion as students protested the Vietnam War and were struck by police with billy clubs. I am in full support of the Occupy movement, and think we can tolerate Occupy Eugene as long as it is peaceable.

Marti Berger, Eugene


Although currently a Portlander, I spent nearly a decade in the fine city of Eugene and would love to see the latter city also ban the plastic grocery bag. Among my odder jobs in the past I worked in a county landfill where my chief job was trying to pick up the tons of plastic bags that constituted 90 percent of the debris accumulated there. Although fences were erected for the sole reason of catching the wind-borne bags, it was difficult even to put a dent in the massive amount and I couldn’t help feeling that we were there as a token effort required by the state. The fact that many, if not most, bags end up in our waters, rivers and oceans, just adds to the critical need to stem the use of these non-biodegradable toxic items. Just one look at the massive Garbage Patch in the Pacific or a strangled turtle will say more than any verbal rant or streams of impersonal numbers. 

I strongly urge our fellow Oregonians to research this topic for themselves and judge if the use of these bags in worth the damage it causes and will be inherited by our children. 

Christopher Ott, Portland


Please come and lend your support to this experiment in community organizing. We need bodies to show everybody that there is a wide-ranging support for this national and international movement. Our list of demands are aligned with those of the New York Occupation and they include but are not limited to: ending corporate personhood; holding Wall Street accountable; public financing and equal elections: ending climate crisis and helping the environment in general; stopping wars including the war on drugs and the prison industrial complex; health care for all; affordable or free education including college; stop companies that are trying to gain a monopoly on the food supply (GMOs, pesticides etc.); and state banks like in North Dakota.

The ones I forgot to add did coincide with my beliefs as well.

The reason I think this new paradigm should be explored and allowed to continue is because the Occupiers are using very progressive democratic methods of communicating. Everyone’s voice is allowed to be expressed and although this may seem time consuming the end result of consensus leaves almost everyone satisfied with the process. If a person doesn’t agree with the course of action they can stand aside or “block.” This last measure is extreme and requires the objector to explain him/herself, in a way that makes sense to the rest of the group. When this happens sometimes a detour of the original path is taken.

We hope that the Eugene Police Department, the City Council and the city manager see the wisdom in permitting this “Occupation” to continue.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

LETTERS POLICY: We welcome letters on all topics and will print as many as space allows, with priority given to timely local issues. Please limit length to 200 words, keep submissions to once a month, and include your address and phone number for our files. Email to fax to 484-4044, or mail to 1251 Lincoln, Eugene 97401. 





Regarding Dakota Trumbull’s web letter Nov. 17, “Just Helping Iraq”: C’mon man!

I opine that the latest U.S. involvement in Iraq was about one thing. If President Bush’s excuse (the oft-alleged weapons of mass destruction) had any merit, he’d have attacked North Korea. As Desert Storm proved, Iraq posed no serious threat to the U.S. — except to temporarily disrupt some supplies of that “one thing.”

North Korea, arguably the world’s most brutal dictatorship and desperately needing “help,” doesn’t have much of that “one thing.” Not a lot of opportunity for Halliburton there.

Another writer in the same issue asks, “When will it all end?” It will end when voters wake up and throw both major parties out of office!

Jerry Ritter, Springfield


While President Obama is pardoning two turkeys for Thanksgiving, every one of us has that same presidential power by choosing a nonviolent Thanksgiving observance that spares a turkey’s life.

And here are some good reasons:

• You are what you eat. Who wants to be a “butterball”? 

• Your kids can tell their friends about their cool “Tofurky.”

• You won’t have to call Poultry Hotline to keep your family alive.

• Fruits and vegetables don’t have to carry government warning labels.

• Animal advocates, including some of your best friends, will cherish you.

• You won’t sweat the environment and food resources devastation guilt trip.

• You won’t spend a sleepless night wondering how the turkey lived and died.

• Your body will appreciate a holiday from saturated fat, cholesterol, and hormones.

Seriously, this Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for our good fortune, health, and happiness with a life-affirming, cruelty-free feast of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Our own dinner will feature a Tofurky, lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. 

An internet search on vegetarian Thanksgiving provides more recipes and other useful information than you can imagine!

Edward Newland, Eugene



What becomes of a country where the outcome of every election depends on pleasing the “lowest common denominator”? When you have to cater to an electorate incapable of educating itself on important issues that may have ill effect for every part of their daily lives? An electorate so ignorant, and that’s putting it nicely, that they can’t even tell you who Clarence Thomas is?

The lowest common denominator. Which party will the rabble anoint as their fearless leader?

I fear for the future of this country whenever elections can be bought by the highest bidder instead of won by the person with the most integrity, empathy and intelligence to lead this nation ahead instead of backward.

God help us.

John DeLeau, Springfield


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