Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.18.08


For the past five years I have been spending at least half of my waking hours as a part of efforts to create what I believe to be positive change in the world. Sadly, over the years, my trust in the position of the “elected official” at almost every level of government has steadily eroded.

I now realize it would be delusional for me to keep pretending that most elected officials value or even consider input from ordinary members of the public. I have come to see the futility of expecting any but a few politicians to actually listen to what members of the public have to say

But a few shining lights in the gloom have kept me personally from giving up on grassroots advocacy as a way to encourage elected officials to create change. One of these lights has been Councilor Bonny Bettman. Not only has Bettman been a stalwart defender of human rights and environmental justice, but she’s been proactive by going on the offense to push forward positive change rather than just fighting off the next bad proposal.

I’m sure I’m speaking for many others in this city when I say: Thanks, Councilor Bettman, for having the heart to honestly listen to what people have to say, for having the guts to speak out against what’s wrong, for having the backbone to stand up for what’s right and for having the vision to move forward what is necessary.

Josh Schlossberg, Eugene


Words are nearly inadequate for my feelings at this moment. LTD, my local public transit company, is proposing to eliminate the Breeze, my transportation to UO, LCC (at least part way) and other parts downtown. To be replaced by what? Some overcrowded (undoubtedly), derelict (most likely) tin can that comes every half hour (vs. the current 15 minutes) during the periods when I need it most. Thanks for nothing, LTD! Meanwhile, the “green elephant,” aka the EMX, has zero changes. LTD, why not just do what you’d really like to do and drop everything but EMX service? Fuel prices are collapsing, and you’re cutting service. Makes one think maybe you want everyone to go back to using cars. Well, fine, I may just do that, once my school ends in June (or sooner if my lowly expectations for your “replacement” service are realized). You’ve just lost yourself a faithful customer for life if you implement this “plan,” if you can call it that. Not that I think you really care, because if you did, I wouldn’t be writing this. Too bad you don’t have the cajones to do what is really needed to save money, and that is fire yourselves (management) and bring in people who have the citizens’ interests at heart. 

Jeff Innis, Eugene


In response to Shannon Wilson (“Bottomless Pockets,” letters, 11/26), EWEB wanted very much to install a ground source (earth coupled) heat pump at its new Roosevelt Operation Center currently under construction in west Eugene. This system was studied in detail before the decision was made to install a high efficiency gas-fired condensing boiler. Analysis showed the ground source heat pump system would cost at least $500,000 more than the condensing boiler. As important, there were also concerns about long-term viability of the local aquifer that raised additional cost and operating questions given the significant volumes of circulation water the heat pump system would require.

The condensing boiler system will provide heating and cooling for the new facility, is expected to operate with an efficiency level between 94 and 98 percent and is an important part of EWEB’s overall goal of developing a highly sustainable and energy efficient facility while staying within a firm budget established by the EWEB Board and community. To that end, the Roosevelt project is on track to achieve a Gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

With respect to carbon impact, EWEB’s carbon footprint is among the lowest for any electric utility in the country. The CO2 output from EWEB buildings is a small fraction (less than 1 percent) of that footprint, and installation of this new boiler won’t change that fact.

Ken Beeson, Project Manager, EWEB Roosevelt Project


Kudos to Alex Young and peers at the Sheldon High School (letters,12/11). They get it — doing good for goodness’ sake provides happiness to both giver and recipient. They’re putting into practice the empathy of an evolved species. I hope more clubs like the “Acts of Kindness Club” spring up in high schools all over the country. It might be that those who call security on you are the same ones who could never conceive of do-gooding without expecting something back, be that remuneration or salvation. Pity them.

Aaron Rosenberg, Eugene


Reading your feature commentary (“Bang Bang Shoot Shoot,” 12/4) left me with one burning question. How much time was spent researching this piece? As an Obama voting, latte-loving, new gun owner I must say: “It’s the economy, stupid!” Times of economic woe leave individuals, myself included, concerned with increasing crime and civil disorder. Papers across the nation have been reporting on this phenomena since far before the election. Yet your fine reporter chose not to touch on this issue in favor of belittling and stereotyping gun-owners as illiterate Billy Bobs and Ellie Maes. Worse still was the implication that gun owners are racist, sprinkled throughout this article with about as much cogent articulation as Palin’s foreign policy experience. Pejorative articles such as “Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot” work to divide us and spread hatred. They are truly ulterior to Obama’s message of unity and moderation. I’m highly disappointed.

Emily Millar, Eugene


I was pleased by the article on Obama the NRA and the strange fears created by his election. Even though I myself am the proud owner of a handgun and rifles and a supporter of the right to own and carry guns, I have never really agreed with the NRA and its rhetoric. During the election I read some of their anti-Obama pamphlets and was amazed at how ridiculously overblown the fear of Obama was. It was propaganda to prey on the ignorant. I am very concerned by the amount of fear that the election of Barack Obama has created, especially the number of people who have told me that his election is a sign of the end of days. Religious hysteria and ignorance scare me more than guns ever will.

When I purchased my handgun a couple of years ago, I was amazed and a little shocked at how easy it was. I went to a local gun shop, and in about an hour and about five hundred dollars later I had purchased a Glock 17. There was no waiting period, only a few forms and a quick phone call background check. I had a new responsibility, I had not purchased a new toy, I had brought home a very efficient and well designed tool for killing people, that, incidentally, was very fun to practice with. I hope to god I never have to use it to defend myself, but I wanted to have the option to be able to in an extreme circumstance. I didn’t buy my gun because I was afraid, and I did not buy it because I thought it would make me feel more powerful. I believe that gun ownership is an extreme responsibility that has been taken for granted by the NRA, who fear any form of restriction threatens the right to bear arms. Handguns are not magic wands we can wave to make problems and people go away, and they are not toys. We need responsible and well planned gun registration and licensing laws regarding their ownership. And we do not need to defend the right to keep and bear arms on a platform of fear and ignorance.

Daniel Ehrich, Eugene


When politics and religion are combined into one irrational whole, we get a frenzied orgy of idiocy and recklessness as the Bushies and the bin Ladens have so strikingly proved. The bad news is that U.S. society is screwed up every which way, and the good news is that we are capable of evolving toward being less nasty and less brainwashed and smarter.

The U.S. is mostly a Christian nation, and Christ preached peace, and the U.S. is the world’s most warmongering nation; therefore, U.S. Christianity is a total and complete failure or a total and complete hypocrisy or has been completely subverted by warmongering U.S. CEO grossness. Wars are caused by greed, nationalism, dictators, overpopulation and religion, all of which are mostly an obsolete crock of shit.

Bob Saxton , Eugene


I take issue with a great deal of Rick Levin’s recent commentary “Bang Bang Shoot Shoot.” Aside from many of his conclusions, it is primarily the tone that is exasperating. As the editor of the Northwest’s only independent gun magazine, American Gun Culture Report, I have discovered gun owners can hardly be so easily dismissed as uneducated rednecks who can only comprehend NRA-style black and white platitudes.

Sadly, the NRA has become the primary facade of the gun rights movement, but American gun owners are a vast enough group that such a collection of regressive minded conservatives is hardly representative. While Levin apparently took little effort to contact them, there are countless national groups such as the Pink Pistols, Home Alive and Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership, to list just a few, who advocate for self-defense issues on behalf of historically vulnerable groups such as homosexuals, women and Jews. My own magazine has published articles by anarchists, libertarians, socialists, queers, hippies and punks.

I am an Obama voter who bought my first gun from a deep sense of social responsibility and can intellectually defend my decision. There is much work to be done combating the tragic stereotypes unfairly perpetuated in Levin’s article. Thankfully the diversity of American gun owners ensures I won’t be alone.

Ross Eliot, Portland


On Dec. 8, Josefina Hajek presented the City of Eugene with a check for $160 for safety improvements to Bailey Hill Road, where a tragic crash claimed her young brother’s life in August 2006. She worked hard to raise this money as a way of making some good changes come out of her terrible loss.

I was honored to accept that contribution, because I share the Hajek family’s desire to make Bailey Hill Road safer and because I know that the city is working diligently to make those improvements this coming summer.

We have been working with the community for 18 months to make these improvements a reality. I can tell you that the solution isn’t as simple as painting a couple of lines on the road or putting up a blinking light or a couple of signs that would encourage children to enter a busy, four-lane street with a false sense of security. What’s needed is a full redesign of this stretch of road, and that’s what is going to happen this summer.

Thank you to the voters of Eugene for passing the bond measure to fix streets, including Bailey Hill Road. Thank you to the Oregon Department of Transportation for approving a $359,000 grant to make pedestrian improvements on Bailey Hill Road. Thank you city employees who worked so hard with the Hajek family and concerned community members on making Bailey Hill Road safer.

 And most especially,  thank you to Josefina and her friends for their efforts to bring good changes to our community. We are proud of you.

 Mayor Kitty Piercy, Eugene


I am most disappointed in your anti-gun editorial (“Bang Bang Shoot Shoot”) of 12/4. “Hysteria” more accurately portrays the tone of this piece, than the worry that gun owners have about their rights to own firearms being limited. Are you really surprised that so many gun stores refused to talk to you? Confiscation legislation has already been introduced in the Congress this year (HR 6257). While it would not confiscate certain firearms from their existing owners, it would make these guns nontransferable and ban all new sales. All covered guns would be illegal for anyone to possess after the current owner’s death. That’s still government confiscation of legally owned private property.

Levin’s characterization of a homeowner shooting a burglar inside his house who was in the act of committing multiple felonies as being a “vigilante” is most perverse logic indeed. That man was in no way looking for trouble. He was merely protecting his home and family. And the fact is that this incident would be no crime at all in Oregon, as possessing handguns inside one’s home is legal here, unlike that Chicago suburb.

The most ironic thing was your cover photo. Do you not know that it is illegal to point an unloaded firearm at another person in Eugene (Ordinance 4.886)? Our justice system needs to make an example out of the individual holding the revolver in this photo for violating a common sense gun safety law. Please turn that person in to the Eugene Police Department immediately.

Lance Jacobs, Springfield


I remember as a young girl asking my mom how people could have let the Holocaust happen. “We didn’t know it was happening” was her reply. Something about that answer made me uncomfortable, preferring to be informed and ready to speak out.

Recently I’ve been wondering if my children would some day ask me the same about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “Why did no one come to the aid of 1.5 million people imprisoned, hungry and many of them sick?” they might ask. “Where was the public outrage?”

1.5 million Gazans are imprisoned in a concentration camp, literally being starved to death, while the world stands by watching. And 60 percent of them are children. What is being done to the Gazan people is a war crime and a crime against humanity as defined by international law.

Of course there are other large-scale human disasters happening at the same time as the crisis in Gaza. But no other government is given $7-$10 million/day like Israel’s is. Without U.S. funding, Israel could not afford its brutal occupation, the illegal settlements and the collective punishment and imprisonment of the people of Gaza.

So whose responsibility is it to speak up first and loudest? Isn’t it us, who are allowing it to happen, day by day, with our tax dollars? 

Valori George, Corvallis


Over the summer, I went into Safeway and purchased some things. The clerk asked me if I would like to round up to the next dollar and donate my change to prostate cancer research. What a wonderful idea! This got me to thinking, what if all the local merchants ask their customers to donate their change to helping their fellow Eugeneans out of foreclosure? The merchants can give those donations to our local banks, which in turn would go to those whose mortgages are in trouble. I have noticed through these tough times that people are starting to band together; it would be great to see more of that.

Dana Stephens, Eugene 


Saturday (12/6) I saw a shocking and disturbing accident involving a lovely old golden retriever. His careless owner had left the tailgate of his pickup down, and his dog was sitting right on the edge. We were next to him at a stop and before I could jump out to warn the driver he took off and sure enough his dog fell out of the truck. It gets worse so don’t read on if you’re squeamish … The poor thing was on a long chain and was dragged for several yards. It happened right in front of the emergency animal hospital, so he was cared for immediately. I don’t know if he lived; the vet can’t tell me anything. Just please, if you don’t want your dog in the cab of your truck, leave him home.

Tina Ellison, Springfield


Are you being denied by Lane County the maintenance of your community’s roads? Is it based on law or its disregard by Lane County? Our community discovered that the End County Maintenance sign had been moved without notice from the end of our 1.25 mile dead end road to its beginning.

Lane County replaced the old road with a new one in 2006, stating this would reduce maintenance and liability. In spite of the community’s desires and warnings, the $3,000,000 road was constructed, and the dire predictions came true. So, Lane County attempted to dump the maintenance and liability onto the community. They emailed that our road “was, and will continue to be a Local Access Road (LAR). All LAR’s throughout Lane County (over 50 miles) are not maintained by the county, and continue to be the responsibility of the residents who utilize the roads. … The best you could hope for is your community would form a Local Improvement District (LID) to help maintain the road over its lifetime.”

 In 1934, Lane County created Bernhardt Heights County Road #1112 and has maintained it since. It took five minutes with Lane county code 15.010(35) to find a County Road is not an LAR returning maintenance and liability to Lane County. We prevailed, and the ECM sign has been returned. You may find the answers in the law available via the Internet in defending your family and community from the multitude of Lane County’s abuses. We fortunately prevailed quickly without resorting to the class action lawsuit being prepared. Maybe your road is a similar cause!

Keith Stanton, Florence


I am writing to tell you why I am endorsing Laura Gillpatrick and Matt Keating for chair and vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Lane County.

I support Laura Gillpatrick because she has been with the organization for several years and she’s familiar with how the DPLC works. I have seen her build committees from the ground up, initiate new programs and build relationships that result in positive growth for the party.

Laura brings with her experience and continuity of the past two administrations, and she knows the priorities of the DPLC. She has a clear vision of what our party can be and has the ability to build the infrastructure the party needs on day one. 

I have worked with Matt Keating on the Eugene for Obama steering committee and helped mentor him as an Obama Organizing Fellow and 4th Congressional District Delegate to the 2008 DNC.

Matt’s volunteer recruitment and voter registration skills are very good. His promotional, people and organizational skills are even better. I have seen Matt regularly reach out to local businesses to benefit our volunteer teams. He is bridging the gap between grassroots groups and growing businesses.

Above all, Laura and Matt are good listeners who welcome everyone into our fold. The DPLC is strongest when we’re open to all and give everyone a voice and vested interest in our success. Laura Gillpatrick and Matt Keating understand this. They have my full support for the office of DPLC chair and vice-chair.

John Cuff, Eugene


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; 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