Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.26.08


With every dollar you spend you are making your real political beliefs known. When you choose to buy a book at Borders when you could buy it at Smith Family, you are choosing a corporation over a neighbor. When you buy a cup of coffee from a big chain over one of our fantastic local coffee houses, again you are choosing not to support our community. If you decide to shop with corporations you are using your dollars as votes for what kind of town you want to live in. If you complain about the loss of farmland, but shop in one of the big boxes that took it over, you are actually saying that sprawl is just fine with you.

In these very hard economic times this is just a reminder that it is now more important than ever to buy local. It is a very real decision you will be making to support our wonderful craftspeople, small farmers, local restaurants and local little shops, or not. If you want a cute, thriving downtown, it is up to you to use your shopping dollars as votes to make that a reality. 

Savona Cook, Eugene business owner



While I tend to appreciate John Zerzan’s letter (11/13) chastising people for voting in the recent elections, I don’t understand how not voting would improve anything.

In terms of genuine, meaningful sustainability, there is little difference between any of the mainstream candidates. And should any “progressive” candidate like Piercy, Handy or Obama begin doing the things necessary to put the human family on the desired trajectory, that candidate would be committing political suicide. Hence, nothing will change and Zerzan’s basic argument is sound.

But, while there seems to be little difference between modern civilization going off the edge of a cliff at 70 MPH versus going off at 55 MPH, really, the cliff in question is not a sheer drop, but a steep, bumpy slope and 15 MPH could make all the difference. Furthermore, there will come a time when the collapse we’re facing becomes sufficiently undeniable that an informed enough constituency will enable our more progressive politicians to bring about the dramatic, sweeping changes that are necessary, while the lesser politicians could remain in denial.

Meanwhile, if readers of EW were to follow Zerzan’s advice and simply not vote, we’d be looking at Mayor Torrey and a continued pro-growth, pro-development majority of county commissioners. Nationally, it could mean the difference between yet another Middle East war or not.

I’d like for Zerzan to spell out a positive vision for the future based on not voting.

Robert Bolman, Eugene


Why is EWEB choosing to heat its new $85 million 100,000 sq. ft. building in west Eugene with fossil fuel, instead of using the most efficient and nonfossil fuel heating and cooling systems of the 21st century: ground source heat pumps?

Ground source heat pump systems are being used throughout the modern business world to heat buildings in major cities. In fact, there are ground source heat pump systems being used inside Eugene.

What is EWEB’s argument for installing and using a fossil-fueled heating system? They might say that it’s the up-front costs. Sure, installing a natural gas boiler system is cheaper, but that doesn’t take into account the long-term costs of fuel or the real costs of providing, as well as burning, natural gas.

Installing a solar electric system will not even come close to balancing EWEB’s fossil fuel carbon footprint or energy costs.

Does EWEB feel that the ratepayers have bottomless pockets to pay the fossil bills throughout the next 50 years or more? Perhaps they feel when the fossil fuel-based heating system becomes too expensive to operate or obsolete, like the EWEB steam plant that was switched to natural gas several years ago, that the deep and endless pockets of EWEB ratepayers will again foot the bill?

Come on EWEB, get with the 21st century: Reduce your carbon and fossil fuel impact on the planet, and stop acting like an unaccountable agency operating on taxpayer dollars.

Shannon Wilson, Member, Our Utility Our Vote, Eugene


“Where are the wolves?” (cover story 11/20).

 At the door!

 What bin Laden and his pals failed to accomplish with passenger jets, our own government and CEOs accomplished through greed, incompetence, malfeasance, fraud and corruption.

And we voters sat on our asses and let it happen.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield


Last week I tried in vain to speak out on two public radio stations against the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) which would increase logging on our few remaining old-growth groves in western Oregon’s public forests. One station is based in Portland, an OPB station (1600 AM in Eugene), the Think Out Loud show, where I was on hold for 40 minutes and then did not get to speak. This was especially frustrating since I believe the WOPR is the exact opposite direction we should go with the logging industry in light of species extinction, climate crisis and the need to protect our water supplies. This topic is an excellent example of why we need local community radio. We have a gaping hole where community radio should be. 

At one time Lane County had three radio stations with local call-in shows five days a week. Having a “free speech” show is also important so callers can bring up any subjects that are on their minds as well. Local radio is a great way to hear the pulse of a community’s projects, thoughts and concerns.

Perhaps we should start low frequency AM radio stations and grow them throughout our neighborhoods.

Stay tuned and in the meantime, call Gov. Kulongoski at (503) 378-4582 before Dec. 6 and ask that he help stop the WOPR.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter


Back in January of this year I called Rob Handy to offer my support for his campaign. He didn’t answer, so I left a message. A few weeks later, I saw Handy at an event at The World Café. His supporters cheered as he went negative on Bobby Green, including Green’s apparent inability to return phone calls. Well, Handy never returned mine.

Just 249 votes were all that separated these two candidates. Bobby Green was not a county commissioner show horse; he was a workhorse. No need to call me now, Mr. Handy; just get to work, like your predecessor.

Sean McGowan, Eugene


With respect to the “Greener Ventures” article (11/13) on the local company that converts gasoline-driven cars to battery-motor driven, such a shift in technology is at best a net zero gain as far as reducing environmental damage. 

Batteries are an incredibly dirty technology, and the fact they need to be replaced so often at great cost makes them a worse solution than sticking with the gas engine. It is a stretch to claim batteries are “99 percent recyclable” when most are sent to China where they are “recycled” by the poorest in that society and under horrendous conditions with no safeguards for the environment or the health of the workers. 

Batteries require oil (plastic cases), highly toxic chemical production, lead and other metal mining and refining, etc. If only 10 percent of cars used batteries that needed replacing every three years, think of the massive increase in mining and chemical production and the disposal problem that would present. And realize that electric vehicles use well over 10 times the amount of battery power a typical car uses. 

There is no magic technological bullet that will get us out of our predicament. Consuming less and driving less is the only solution.

William Lewis, Eugene


In public discussion of spending priorities, we keep hearing that public safety comes first. Renewed federal payments to forest counties have rekindled this claim. Meanwhile, if some significant number of dollars went into funding jobs, job searches and mentoring programs for youth, the need for new deputies would diminish. We would have safer, happier, more productive communities.

These should not be impersonal, big company jobs. We need to create jobs that involve young workers mentally and emotionally and build skill and responsibility. A good fit between each worker and the context of his or her job is a true priority. Police mentorships could become one of many parts of a youth apprentice program network.

Some will say it’s utopian for
governments to invest in life/work transitions that people eventually figure out independently. But we are in a time of financial crisis with an impact on many lives. A county and city collaboration with nonprofit agencies, colleges and small businesses could patch the safety net.

A punitive society with abundant prison cells is not a worthy goal. Genuinely inspired work, as well as crime prevention, occurs when young people match their abilities to occupations. The national forest counties would become a model for the nation by striving to fulfill this need.

Elaine Weiss, Eugene


Barack Obama has risen from humble beginnings to the power of the presidency. But, every one of us has the presidential power to pardon a turkey on Thanksgiving. In fact, here are some reasons to skip the turkey this Thanksgiving:

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

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

• 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.

My family’s Thanksgiving dinner will include a tofurky, lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and carrot cake. An Internet search on vegetarian Thanksgiving got us lots of recipes and other information.

Elijah Hennison, Eugene


Another focus for Obama’s plans for change, among many needed, is redesign of our national election systems. This election season it becomes more apparent that the two-party election system encourages two statistical lobes of opinion. We must regularly put a lot of energy into switching our government back and forth. With a ranked voting system such as instant recount voting, pretty much eliminating political parties (and the Electoral College), we’d gather around more moderate views and make smaller changes, not going too far from tops of bell curves of opinion.

I think emphasis on areas in which we agree would also mean more rational discussion of all views. For good communications, we should emphasize views that are similar enough that we can communicate well, while diverse enough that we transmit new concepts.

Dan Robinson, Eugene


I want to acknowledge heroism. I am from Canada and have been in the U.S. for almost 10 years now. I was a typical Canadian when I arrived, cynical and superior about America and its politics and problems. My eyes have been opened since that time to the kind of heroism that exists in America. As a Canadian, and especially a British Columbian, we have developed a cool detached disdain for the American way. War is not a part of our culture, and we generally like to stay out of trouble’s way. Those are not bad attributes within themselves, but there is something about that that makes us rather apathetic.

We don’t really fight for anything (except to stay warm!). Canada has sold itself to the highest bidder and thrown its environmentalism out the window in a feeding frenzy to make a buck off the last vestiges of its resources. The Canadian people have been steamrollered by so-called progress and they haven’t lifted a finger. There’s nothing heroic in that.

What I see in America is a long-term adversity that has demanded that caring people stand up for what they believe in. There is a heart of darkness that resides here that has had to be fought. Those kind of circumstances tend to produce people who learn to fight back.

 Jean Gordy, Eugene


Since this “Downtown Exclusion Zone” has been enacted this early November, I have also enacted the following:

I will cease forthwith all financial transactions in the said zone, effective Nov. 2. This is not to state that I engage in any of the activities that are discouraged. My concern is that I could well be “profiled” whilst in transit through this zone upon my way, say to the Greyhound, Amtrak, airport, or LTD stations.

This idiotic matter was tried in Portland and was ruled unconstitutional. If businesses would like to attract new customers in downtown Eugene then find a better way of doing so rather than a sure-fire failure of looking for new business in a failed fascist state.

Charles Ames, Cottage Grove