Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.11.08


Our deflating economy may — though we hope it won’t — produce the worst times since the 1930s. With state and local government budgets in crisis, Gov. Kulongoski seeks federal funds for infrastructure while proposing that thousands of Oregonians lose in-home and child care, funding investment for the future with “painful disinvestments in the present.” The R-G calls those cuts “unsavory,” but the governor’s term was more accurate, though inadequate. Try “life-threatening” in some cases; for example, when loss of child care means inability to work, even if you’re lucky enough to have a job.

Investing for the future is important. But meanwhile, so is staying alive. Already hundreds of thousands of Oregonians live in poverty, while the federal treasury has thrown trillions of dollars at financiers whose casino-style “innovations” caused this slow-motion train wreck in the first place.

We should use at least several hundred billions of federal money to bail out ourselves — cities and states — and not just for infrastructure as it’s usually understood. Otherwise escalating service cutbacks will hurt our most vulnerable neighbors, causing more job losses and economic contraction. As federal taxpayers we should thus build for the future partly by funding life-saving health care and social services — so we can all have a future.

Federal funds to weatherize low-income housing should also be expanded, both saving energy and creating jobs. These programs operate in Eugene as well as throughout Oregon, and investments in them have a wonderful multiplier effect in local economies. 

 Robert Roth, Eugene


Rob Bolman, inveterate liberal (letters, 11/26): It’s a good thing Piercy (savior) defeated Torrey (devil) or we’d have deafening silence about the cops brutalizing the peaceful anti-pesticide protest in May or their outrageously jackbooted attack on the campus Campbell Club last week. And what a relief that Obama (savior) beat McCain (devil); otherwise we’d have a pro-
nukes, pro-death penalty, blank-check-for-Israel-to-steal-every-last-inch-of-Palest-inian-land, pro-PATRIOT Act, same-old-gang-running-things, etc. ruler! Get the irony, Rob?

You don’t see not voting as a first step to rejecting the racket-as-usual because you evidently see the prevailing order as basically sound and healthy. Your lesser-of-two-evils perspective helps guarantee that things will keep getting worse for life in general. You legitimate and reproduce a toxic system with every vote. Instead of the passive consumerism involved, when will it be time for acting with vision and independence?

John Zerzan, Eugene


William Lewis makes the claim that converting automobiles to electric power is at best a net zero gain in reducing environmental damage. I would agree that an electric automobile is still a large chunk of metal on the road adding to congestion, but at least it isn’t continuously burning fuel, even at idle. Most electric vehicles are designed for local driving, typical of 80 percent of our auto use, and are typically smaller. Therefore they are quite appropriate as urban vehicles, a net gain for the environment. 

Lead acid batteries are not very efficient but are cheap and durable enough to last through their warranty and have been totally recycled in this country for many years. Recycling is obviously a base resource industry and like many other resource industries can be exploitive of the poor and third world countries, but that too is improving, with a net gain for the environment.

New battery technology offers huge gains in energy density and can last the life of the car. When finally depleted, the batteries are recycled by their manufacturers in the same factories where they were made — a closed loop system, another net gain for the environment. 

While battery production is increasing, using far less toxic materials, oil production will inevitably decline, a net gain for the environment.

Many diverse solutions are required, the most significant of which is consuming and driving less. An efficient electric vehicle is a significant step in that direction, and if it’s manufactured locally, we all benefit.

Mark Murphy, Blue Sky Design, Creswell


In his post-mortem on the November election, Alan Pittman writes (“Obama-ville,” 12/4) that 72 percent of Eugene voters supported Obama. It was interesting that Obama was 20 percent more popular than Mayor Piercy and more than 4,000 voters “undervoted,” refusing to select either candidate.

A friend who volunteered for the Piercy campaign was shocked when they asked her not to submit a letter to the R-G about Torrey’s record on the West Eugene Parkway. They claimed it would be “divisive” to tell the public that Torrey encouraged ODOT to waste millions studying the WEP even after he had admitted the highway was unlikely to be approved by the FHA due to its illegalities. She still voted for Piercy against Torrey, but that is a negative goal, not a positive one.

In November 2007 nearly all of Eugene rejected the mayor’s proposal to spend tens of millions to subsidize chain stores to take over downtown. Two days after this defeat, Piercy cast the swing vote at the Lane Council of Governments Metropolitan Policy Committee in favor of a long-term Regional Transportation Plan to allocate $817 million in highway expansion funds to widen highways in the metro area. This is not “sustainability.”

I appreciated Bonny Bettman’s op-ed (11/26) opposing efforts at City Hall to undermine the police review process that are being pushed by Piercy and most of the council. Police accountability was more popular with Eugene voters than re-electing the incumbent mayor.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene


 “Bang Bang Shoot Shoot” was the title of a controversial article in EW (12/4). It was an interesting read nonetheless, but where in the Second Amendment does it say joining a well-regulated militia is a requirement for owning a firearm like Rick Levin claims? It doesn’t!

Even anti-gun Obama admits that the Second Amendment is an individual right and claims to support it, though his voting record proves the complete opposite. And though the Supreme Court has now verified the Second Amendment is an individual right, Rick Levin is still stuck in the imaginary dream world where individual rights do not exist.

Apparently “the people” in the First Amendment isn’t an individual right either. Sorry, but you don’t have the right to practice religion individually or even speak freely according to this logic.

The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, yes, but where does it say I must join one in order to own a gun? It says the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed! 

Alexander Novikoff, Eugene


Increased logging under the new Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) will create timber jobs, but the BLM acknowledges these jobs may be created at the expense of losing jobs and income in other economic sectors. They provide no explanation of what these losses might be, but a downloadable report on provides a good insight. For example, the 3,000 timber jobs created by the WOPR could result in the loss of 40,000 or more jobs in other economic sectors, impairment of tourism industry growth could cause the loss of billions of dollars annually, and Oregon can expect to lose about $9 billion in private land value. The WOPR has an incomplete economic analysis, and the consequences to Oregon’s economic future appear to be serious. 

This type of planning is what got us into our current economic crisis, and the WOPR is poised to increase the crisis in Oregon.

Roger Brandt, Cave Junction


 EW has reached a new low with the article “Fairmount Faces Arena” by writer Jessica Hirst that you published Nov. 13. That article was even more one-sided and inaccurate than the UO and city of Eugene press releases that get repeated word for word by our lazy local media.

Recently it was reported by the R-G (11/30) that costs associated with the Nike arena have risen by $80 million. That amounts to $330 million in public dollars needed to support Nike and Kilkenny’s “pet project.” UO got a $100 million “gift” from Nike for the arena that they are not allowed to use until the arena faces a financial crisis. Did you ever consider interviewing our governor about why he is in favor of such a costly Nike project at UO?

If EW is a “watchdog” publication, it is a watchdog who wears a doggy sweater. It is a watchdog whose day has come to be put to sleep at the nearest veterinarian’s office.

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



I am a senior at Sheldon High School and am involved in a group called the “Random Acts of Kindness Club.” Our goal is to make the world a better place, and to spread happiness into people’s hearts through random acts of kindness. One of our club’s trademarks is that we give a little business card to the receivers of our kind acts, encouraging them to do something nice to someone else, and to pass it on. Some activities we have done include giving out free hugs at football games, raking the lawns of random people in neighborhoods and just last week, on Black Friday, handing out little cards at Valley River with a mint attached that say things like “Have a great day.” 

The reactions for the most part have been positive. However, we are trying not to be discouraged by some of the obstacles we are facing. While we were raking lawns, someone called the police because they thought we were breaking in. When we were giving out the cards and candy, security was called on us repeatedly saying that there had been complaints about us, and we were asked to leave.

I find it extremely sad that people in today’s society do not believe that other people would do something nice for another person, just out of the goodness of their heart, with no strings attached. People complain about teenagers, and yet when we do try to do something positive, we still get complaints. We will continue our random acts of kindness and encourage everyone to be a little kinder to each other as well.

Alex Young, Eugene


President Bush is currently on his “Polish my Presidential Legacy Tour.” So let us look at some snapshots of that legacy. Remember the look on Bush’s face when an aide interrupted his reading of My Pet Goat to tell him that the U.S. was under attack. President Bush had ignored all the warnings that an attack was coming. Remember the vacant look on Bush’s face as he looked down upon the drowning city of New Orleans? Bush had ignored all the warnings that a killer hurricane was approaching. 

I’ll always remember Bush’s cheek-chewing answer to ABC’s Charlie Gibson’s question about the economy. Gibson: “Do you feel in any way responsible for what’s happening?” Bush: “You know, I’m the president during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so before I arrived.”

President Bush can put on all the turd polish that he can, but history will view his legacy as the president who constantly ignored all warnings and stood by as his country crumbled under his watch.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain


Dan Robinson’s Nov. 26 letter missed that the 2004 presidential election was stolen, especially through electronic ballot tampering. All or nearly all of the electronic voting machine companies, such as Elections Systems and Software and Diebold, are controlled by, thus programmed by, the extreme right wing. Vote totals could have been changed in the machines themselves, in the tabulators, in the wires from the machines to the tabulators, remotely from a laptop and from mobile equipment generating a stronger signal than the intended receiving tower.

Oregon’s e-voting at least keeps the paper ballots for any recount. For the last election, I helped transport ballots for storage. These seem vulnerable as the ones I worked with are simply stored in a warehouse. More pertinent is the impossibility of securing e-voting. The only solution is hand-counted paper ballots.

Please read Black Box Voting by Bev Harris and What Happened in Ohio, coauthored by Harvey Wasserman. There is also What Went Wrong in Ohio, by the House Judiciary Committee’s John Conyers, as well as Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting are Underway; but Key Activities Need to be Completed, by the Government Accountability Office. The Democratic victory may have been much larger than we know of. 

Kevin Russell, Eugene